Apple Details Automatic Station Tuning Function for Audio and Video Content

Apple has been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider) detailing a "station tuning" function for a media player or mobile device that would curate a playlist filled with both audio and visual content based on a user's interests.

The patent, which was originally filed in 2008, details a system that would automatically pull from content streams such as radio broadcasts, television broadcasts, and onboard media to deliver a custom playlist, and would also factor in metadata and user patterns when selecting different types of content. The tuning function is similar to the Genius feature currently found in iTunes, but extends well beyond the selection of music and into a variety of content.

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The media player may automatically tune to one of the sources based on user preferences or criteria to output the currently playing content. The media player may tune to a source or switch from one source to another source based a user's tastes for music, a give volume level, an aversion to talk radio, or other user preferences or criteria. The media player may also queue or schedule forthcoming content on a given source for playback to the user.

In terms of controlling the tuning function, the patent details a gesture controlled graphical user interface that resembles a radio tuner. The interface itself would allow for previews of stations, as well as the ability to search for specific content based on criteria and when to trigger the station tuning.

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Factors such as the volume, color, hue, and saturation attributes of content may also be used to determine what to include next in a playlist, with the function also being able to determine and show relevant advertisements or whether to skip them altogether based on a user's listening patterns.

It is unknown when or even if Apple plans to integrate a station tuning function into an existing product, but such a feature would fit well into Apple's iTunes Radio. While Apple already includes a host of stations to choose from in iTunes Radio including a "Featured Stations" function, integrating station tuning with content beyond audio would be an appealing addition for the service.

Tag: patent

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88 months ago
Novel Idea, but...

Just wondering: why can't Apple install actual AM/FM radio receivers in our iDevices? They are pretty tiny (they're in the iPod Nano's I believe?), and as much as terrestrial radio gets dogged by some folks, it would save enormous amounts of bandwidth for all of us who (for instance) listen to local stations on our daily commutes. Nevermind the number of live sports events that we pay to listen to via Apps (MLB, etc.), even when they are local.

Wouldn't be groundbreaking, but I'm betting it would be used by customers more than highly trumpeted features such as FaceTime or Newsstand.

Peace be with you.
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88 months ago

When Steve Jobs said that he "cracked" the TV interface/industry problem -- this patent could have merit.


i thought he meant the way that we interact with the tv. sort of like the kinect or something like that.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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88 months ago
When Steve Jobs said that he "cracked" the TV interface/industry problem -- this patent could have merit.
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88 months ago

Do they always take this long to be awarded or is this normal? Anyone know why the process is so lengthy?

Yes, it takes a long time. It takes a long time because there are a ton of patents filed, and each one has to be examined so there is a backlog. There is also a lot of back and forth between the applicant and the PTO about the validity of the patent, which takes a good bit of time.
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