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Streaming Media Technology and the Olympics

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Dear readers, the Olympics are in full swing, as Chris mentioned last week. Some interesting stories have come out of these games: how many Subway sandwiches did Michael Phelps eat on way to his record-breaking medal count, did McKayla Maroney just book a starring role as the mean girl in a new Disney tween TV show, and will Andy Murray finally win a Grand Slam tournament now that he has an Olympic gold medal? I also want to know why no one told me that I could go to the Olympics on a trampoline.

But most interesting of all here in the US is NBC’s decision to stream the Olympics online, BUT only to those with a cable TV subscription. So those of us who don’t have cable, we can only watch the Olympics on delay over regular NBC. That’s fine for Rip van Winkle in 2008, as NBC is just now getting around to broadcasting the 2008 Beijing Olympics on regular NBC. Never mind the fact that I would have happily paid NBC $30 to have access to all of its streaming content, similar to the NCAA tournament or what I do for Fox Soccer Channel. Additionally, I have heard from those who are able to access the streaming content, that it is not exactly running smoothly. [Editor’s note: We have good things to say about NBC, they just happen to be much later in the article!]

With that said, let’s introduce our favorite streaming media patent documents, with hopes that the next Olympics will use this technology to its fullest.

1) Method for transmitting a desired digital video or audio signal – US 5,191,573 A

media one

As far as flow charts go, this one is extra flow-y.

This first patent, old for this type of technology, talks about transferring money from one party to another, and then the first party that receives the money will transfer video content to the second party. As Homer says, “Money can be used in exchange for good and services”.

2) Broadcast video burst transmission cyclic distribution apparatus and method – US 5,440,334 A

media two

The use of perspective really brings this diagram to life, if you ask me.

This one sounds a lot like TIVO, but it reminds me most of the player that Fox Soccer Channel and Netflix both use. You can go forward or back by clicking on the time of the video you want to display.

3) Video on demand with memory accessing and or like functions – US 5,442,390 A

media three

I love how network is always illustrated as a nebulous blob in patent drawings. What insight does the shape of the blob give us into the mind of the drafter?

An early Video On-Demand patent helps paves the way for streaming as we now know it.

4) Wireless system for the communication of audio, video and data signals over a narrow bandwidth – US 5,793,416 A

media four

The base station is connected to the…network controller.

An early patent for streaming video, including sports content, wirelessly to a handheld device. Just don’t let your significant other know you are watching, especially while they are talking to you.

Next time: Danny professes his love for NBC as 30 Rock and The Office have given him entertainment for a number of years, and the NBC Sports Network’s commitment to MLS soccer is commendable.

Find previous writings and musings from the off-kilter Danny Rooney here.

Patent Searches from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Registered Patent Agent Dan Wolka and edited by Chris Jagalla. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company, Landon IP, a major provider of patent search, technical translation, and information services.


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