Apple patent reveals Ad-Skipper that plays songs, video during adverts

Nobody likes watching commercials while watching their favorite program. I admit that there are few adverts which do manage to bring a smile on my face, but majority of adverts are just trying to promote some product and turn out to be pesky. Most of us would just switch to other channels, and the same applies to adverts that appear while listening to radio, which is why several lazy people are preferring media players over traditional way, but seems like Apple has a way out.

Apple has exposed a system where in which the users can switch away from commercials, either from radio or video and replace it with some sort of stored media like a song. Too good to be true, but Apple has indeed been granted Patent No. 8,249,497 on Tuesday and the patent is for a technology that allows “Seamless switching between radio and local media.” Apple apparently has a technology in mind which basically aids mobile device to switch between broadcast content and stored media automatically such that content is tailored for the user.

A user, however, may not be interested in every media item provided as part of a broadcast stream. For example, a user may not like a particular song broadcast by a radio station, or may not like a particular segment of a talk radio station (e.g., the user does not like the topic or guest of the segment). As another example, a user may not be interested in content originally generated by sources other than the media source (e.g., advertisement content). Because the user has no control over the media broadcast, the user can typically only tune to a different media broadcast, or listen to or consume the broadcast content that is not of interest. –Patent background

The system switches between broadcast content and actual content automatically. If you were wondering how this is achieved, the technology makes use of metadata from assets like Radio Data System (RDS) data, broadcast listings or published third-party schedules. Exploiting all such information, the system will be able to “determine when an upcoming broadcast segment or media item is not of interest to the user.” This way, the device can effortlessly switch to stored media during the period when the unwanted content is being streamed.

As far as the question of how the system is aware of user’s taste, it makes use methods that are implemented in current iOS apps such as Pandora and Shazam. In order to calculate user’s likes and dislikes, the patent employs a method to generate a preference profile, so for instance, a user can like or dislike a song, and the metadata of that corresponding song will be included in his preference profile. The metadata can be specific media items, such as artists, songs and genres, as well as specific types of media. Alternatively, the system can also ‘predict’ the preference profile by keeping a close eye on user’s content consumption, thus learning in the process.

As seen in the picture above that was obtained from the patent, once the system classifies the upcoming content as something that will disinterest the user, the device will automatically replace the broadcast with alternative media from stored media and start playing it. Apart from the fact that the device will start playing the alternative media, it will also have some sort of “relevance algorithm” which will select appropriate content from the stored media as a replacement content in such a way that the replaced content is in line with the broadcast stream, thus keeping the experience consistent. When the alternative media is being played, the device will either observe the broadcast stream in background in order to switch back at an appropriate moment or store the broadcast stream for later screening.

According to the patent, below is how “media” is described as.

As used in this application, the term media item will be understood to include any audio or video that can be broadcast by a content source and received by an electronic device for playback. For example, a media item can include music (e.g., a song), a talk show segment, an advertisement, news programming, a podcast, videos, or any other media content that may be provided to a user.

If this patent does see day of light, it will transform the way one listens to radio or watches television. The patent didn’t speak of where it could be implemented, however, the system can be easily find its way in cable using set-top boxes that Apple is rumored for a long time now. The system may also find its home in Apple TV, which is rumored for quite some time now and is expected to revolutionize television by bringing retina display to TV. There’s no official word on whether this technology will make it to future products or not, but being able to skip ads surely seems like a selling point using which Apple can boost sales of Apple TV and likes. Such a system will also blur the line between live and on-demand television, but this is surely a bad news for companies who market their products through television.

What are your thoughts on this technology? Would you like to see this system in your future TV? Let us know using the comment form below.

One Reply to “Apple patent reveals Ad-Skipper that plays songs, video during adverts”

  1. That is an interesting approach for commercial circumvention but doesn’t really eliminate the issue. I am sure Apple was inspired by DISHs’ Auto Hop feature. As an owner of a Hopper and a DISH employee, any attempt from Apple to patent a preexisting idea is worrisome; I don’t want my company to get sued. Worse yet is the fact that they miss the big advantage of Auto Hop, the time savings. I a limited amount of time to watch TV each week and I can squeeze in a few more episodes now that I don’t have to sit through 20 minutes of commercials for every hour of TV. So Apple will fill the ad space with music or pod casts; that doesn’t save me any time.

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