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Publication numberUS20040116183 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/318,729
Publication date17 Jun 2004
Filing date16 Dec 2002
Priority date16 Dec 2002
Publication number10318729, 318729, US 2004/0116183 A1, US 2004/116183 A1, US 20040116183 A1, US 20040116183A1, US 2004116183 A1, US 2004116183A1, US-A1-20040116183, US-A1-2004116183, US2004/0116183A1, US2004/116183A1, US20040116183 A1, US20040116183A1, US2004116183 A1, US2004116183A1
InventorsJoseph Prindle
Original AssigneePrindle Joseph Charles
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Digital advertisement insertion system and method for video games
US 20040116183 A1
Abstract
A system and method for digitally inserting advertisements, targeted digital images, indicia and live digital video streams into a networked, a multi-player or on-line video game, using a color mask or a matte technique such as blue screening, within the video game, in order to display the information within the video game. Each video game client has software executing on the video game client, which is connected to a video game network server, and which is capable of displaying images, video, audio and data originating from the network server or from other medium. The video game client is capable of display on a standard television set. Each client comprises a networked interface card (NIC) or modem, a network connection, and software executing on the video game client that can establish a client-to-server network connection. Each client supports video streaming and can receive, and encode and decode video and audio signals, transport, and display that and other data on screen. This system and method apparatus also allows a video game client to simply and cost-effectively receive and display a live video stream from a camera, advertisements or digital messages that are transported over a network.
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Claims(17)
What I claim as my invention is:
1. A digital advertisement insertion method and system for networked and multi-player video games, for displaying an advertisement or digital stream within a video game and by method of matting or blue screening within the video game client for display and comprising:
a digital source of motion video information;
a video game network further comprising:
method for maintaining a play list containing information about the full motion video or advertisement such as but not limited to bit rate, encoding parameters, location, length, system information and scheduled play time;
method for managing the play list advertisement content;
method for receiving a direct request for linking said first video game client;
apparatus for IP routing and switching;
apparatus to stream or multicast multiple video streams to said video game clients
a network;
a first video game client system connected to said network;
said video game client system comprising:
a network interface coupled to a network;
a video game console or computer;
a video game console or client controller;
a television or computer monitor for display and playback;
an apparatus and method for supporting equipment for said first video game client system comprising:
client application software, also referred to as a video game title, executing in said first video game client system, said client software application or game title comprising:
processing logic for connecting said first video game client system to a server on said network via said network interface;
processing logic for requesting network address information from said server;
processing logic for receiving a network address of said server;
processing logic for saving user information on said server from said first video game client system;
processing logic for compressing and decompressing audio and video streams;
processing logic for blue screening an area on screen, for displaying a video stream on screen, and allowing the video stream to concurrently run during game operation;
processing logic for reconnecting said first video game client system to a server coupled with said network; and
processing logic for uploading user information from said first video game clients system to a server memory on said server.
2. A method according to claim 1, wherein the advertisement information is graphics, data or text;
3. A method according to claim 1, wherein the advertisement information is audio;
4. A method according to claim 1, wherein the advertisement information is video;
5. A method according to claim 1, wherein the advertisement information is animation;
6. A method according to claim 1, further comprising the ability wherein said video game system application software includes processing logic for support of the International Telephone Union (ITU) standard H.323 for specifications for computers, equipment and services carrying real-time audio, video, data, or any combination of these over said network.
7. A method according to claim 1, wherein said client application software further comprises the ability to record the video stream or advertisements.
8. A method according to claim 1, wherein said client application software further comprises the capability to send, receive and display instant messages from said second video game console system onto the blue screen or color mask.
9. The first video game client system as claimed in claim 1 wherein said client application software includes the ability to broadcast and/or multicast the audio and video streams from said first video game client system.
10. The first video game client system as claimed in claim 1 wherein said first video game console system connects to a network via a switch, router or hub.
11. A system and method for directly linking a first video game client with a second video game client, said system also for establishing a videoconference, video phone call or the transfer and display of data between a first user on said first video game client and a second user on said second video game client, said system comprising:
a network;
a first video game client connected to said network;
a server coupled to said network including:
processing logic for receiving a direct request for linking said first video game client;
a video game client system comprising:
television or computer monitor for display and playback;
an apparatus and method for supporting equipment for said first video game client system comprising:
a video camera;
a microphone;
client application software, also referred to as a video game title, executing in said first video game client system, said client software application or game title comprising:
processing logic for connecting said first video game client system to a server on said network via said network interface;
processing logic for requesting network address information from said server;
processing logic for receiving a network address of said second video game client system from said server;
processing logic for disconnecting from said first video game client system from said server before establishing a direct connection link with said second video game client using said network address;
processing logic for saving user information on said server from said first video game client;
processing logic for compressing and decompressing audio and video streams;
processing logic for reconnecting said first video game client system to a server coupled with said network; and
processing logic for uploading user information from said first video game clients system to a server memory on said server.
processing logic for creating and managing a blue screen, matte or color mask within the game title;
12. The system as claimed in claim 11 wherein said first video game clients system connects directly to a personal computer, hand-held device or cell phone.
13. In a computer network comprised of a plurality of video game clients logically connected to either each other or a server, and each client video game client having a network interface card for communicating with a plurality of other video game client on the network, a method and apparatus for establishing a videoconferencing and videophone system, said system and apparatus comprising:
a network interface coupled to a network;
a video game client;
a video game client controller;
a television or computer monitor for display and playback;
an apparatus and method for supporting equipment for said video game client system comprising:
a video camera;
a microphone;
client application software, also referred to as a video game title, executing in said first video game client system, said client software application or game title comprising:
processing logic for connecting said first video game client system to a server on said network via said network interface;
processing logic for requesting network address information from said server;
processing logic for receiving a network address of said second video game client system from said server;
processing logic for disconnecting from said first video game client system from said server before establishing a direct connection link with said second video game client system using said network address;
processing logic for saving user information on said server from said first video game client system;
processing logic for compressing and decompressing audio and video streams;
a graphical user interface (GUI) for displaying information on screen, and allowing first video game client system to input data and interact with equipment;
processing logic for reconnecting said first video game client system to a server coupled with said network; and
processing logic for uploading user information from said first video game clients system to a server memory on said server.
14. The system as claimed in claim 13 wherein said client application software further includes processing logic for the uploading of user information to said server.
15. The system as claimed in claim 13 wherein said client application software further includes processing logic for recording the videoconference.
16. The system as claimed in claim 13 wherein said client application software further includes processing logic for playing the recorded videoconference.
17. The system as claimed in claim 13 wherein said system further comprises the ability to insert a commercial or advertisement in the form of a video clip or file, directly into the streamed connection from a network server to a video game client system.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] Not Applicable

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0002] Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM LISTING COMPACT DISK APPENDIX

[0003] Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0004] 1. Field of Endeavor

[0005] The present invention relates to the field of automated advertisement insertion, and specifically to inserting a video message such as a commerical or a live video stream, into a networked video game by means of using a matte, a technique often called blue screeing. More particularly, the present invention relates to a system and method for inserting a digital stream, i.e. an advertisement, into a video game by using a networked video game server and utilizing a color matte within the video game on which to display the digital video stream, during the execution of the video game.

[0006] 2. State of Technology

[0007] Advertisement Insertion

[0008] Automated advertisement insertion systems have been developed to insert audio/video advertisements into traditional network broadcast or cable programming. Examples of prior art advertisement systems are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,724,491 to Lambert and U.S. Pat. No. 5,029,014 to Lindstrom. The former utilizes a series of video tape recorders for analog advertisement insertion, and the later makes use of laser disks for inserting messages in a different order than physically recorded. Niether system digitizes, compresses or stores the orginal analog source material nor do the prior art systems provide any method for inserting a message into a system other than broadcast or cable programming. Also, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,715,018 to Fasciano, this process involves a broadcast model, based on the time-based insertions. It operates by inserting a regenerated analog signal in place of the original broadcast signal.

[0009] One process of automated insertion and video transmission deals with the generation, processing and transmission of a series of images and the accompanying audio signal in a sequence that is intended to portray motion (e.g. ‘live’). A real-time digital video stream can be considered a special type of this, in that it produces and utilizes a series of still images and audio signals to convey the idea of a live or constant transmission.

[0010] Currently, there is no existing system, method or apparatus for digitally inserting an advertisement or a live video stream into a video game, or more particluarly into a networked video game, or a plurality of networked video games.

[0011] Video Games

[0012] The latest versions of video game consoles now include the ability for the video game console to be connected either to each other, to a server, or through a communications network, such as the Internet. Concurrently coming into the market, are new networked multi-player video games which allow more than one player to play together, either collaboratively or in competition, using computer networks such as the Internet as a communications network.

[0013] Video games currently do not have any capability to achieve the result of dynamically inserting a digital stream, a commerical, a message or advertisment that is stored as digital information, via a server or communications network. However, the result of the latest innovations described above, is that it is now technically feasible to digitally insert an advertisement directly into a networked or multi-player video game.

[0014] Video Game Consoles

[0015] Home video games systems, also commonly known as video game consoles, or consoles for short, can be thought of at their core as a highly specialized computer. The following is a sample list of the game system basics: GUI (Graphical User Interface), CPU (Central Processing Unit), RAM (Rapid Access Memory), software kernel, storage medium for games, video output, audio output, a power supply and now more frequently a modem or Ethernet connection to a network, particularly the Internet. Ethernet is a standard for LAN (Local Area Network) communications, a packet-based data network designed to operate over relatively short distances. It is defined by the IEEE, the Institure of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, in standard IEEE 802.3.

[0016] Video game systems, or video game consoles are generally designed to be a part of an entertainment system. This means that it is simple and easy to connect to a television set and stereo. The degree of technical knowledge required to setup a video game system, is generally much lower than for a computer. It is a device intended to be used with a television. All game consoles provide a video signal that is compatible with a standard television, and which may be a NTSC (National Televison Standards Committee) signal, a PAL (Phase Alteration by Line) signal as in Europe, or even SECAM (System Electronique Couleur Avec Memoire) signal. Most consoles also have dedicated graphic processors.

[0017] The latest generation of game consoles include the XBOX™, which is a product of the Microsoft Corporation. The XBOX™ is a video game system that allows a user to play video games on their television. While in some ways similar to a personal computer, it does not have a mouse or keyboard, and the user interacts with the system by using a video game controller. The PLAYSTATION 2™, also known as the PS2™, a product of the Sony Corporation is currently the most popular video game system. Both the XBOX™, and the PS2™ are a significant improvement over the previous technology. These platforms include support for Universal Serial Bus (USB) devices, modems, and a Network Interface Card (NIC), which results in the fact that it is now technically feasible to use this platform as a basis for a real-time system to digitally insert advertisements directly into a networked or multi-player video game.

[0018] The present invention utilizes the video game consoles strengths to its advantage by capitalizing on existing systems and equipment, and at the same time significantly increasing the ability to reach very specific targeted users with range of targeted advertisements, and also reducing the cost, and complexity associated with advertisement insertion in traditional broadcast systems.

[0019] Blue Screen

[0020] One current method of inserting an indicia, such as an advertisement, into a motion video system such as a motion picture, video game, DVD discs, etc., is to make objects that move in front of the inserts look as if they pass over or are in front of the insert. This is most often achieved by methods of matting and color differencing, and then creating a composite of two separate images, which is often called ‘blue screening’. Essentially, this technique involves establishing a reference color for the area of the desired location of the insert. Then a difference ‘mask’ can be created by subtracting the pixels that exist in the motion video from the reference color value. If the result of that operation approaches zero, pixels from the insert then may be included ino the resulting frame or image. If the result of the operation is a large positive integer, the original image information is retained.

[0021] To date, no other system or method exists which uses blue screening, or matting, to directly insert a digital advertisement into a video game. The present invention satisfies the need in the prior art to achieve the ability to digitally insert a commerical into an executing video game. By utilizing the prior art in blue screening for a new medium, video games, the present invention creates a new tool for product placement, commerical advertisement, and videophones for networked video games.

[0022] Video Streaming

[0023] If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures. While text, graphics and animation provide for interesting content, people naturally gravitate towards the richer and more realisitic experience of video. That is because video with audio adds the ultimate level of realism to human communication that people have come to expect from decades of watching movies pictures in the real-world medium of TV and the movies.

[0024] As all such real-world media continues to migrate towards digital, video too is becoming digital. And now it is possible to deliver digital video over computer networks including the Internet, directly to video game consoles.

[0025] What makes this network delivery possible is the emergence of a new technology called ‘video-streaming’. Video streaming takes advantage of new video compression algorithms as well as new real-time netwrok protocols that have been developed especially to solve this problem. Now, files can play as they are downloaded to the client, thus eliminating the necessity for the complete download of the file, as has been in the past.

[0026] Different algorithms and techniques known as ‘codecs’ have been developed for compressing and decompressing video signals. This compression takes advantage of the fact that most information remains the same from frame to frame.

[0027] The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) standard that provides specification for computers and services for multimedia communications over networks that do not provide a guaranteed QOS (Quality of Service). This standard relies on the Real-Time Protocol (RTP) and Real-Time Control Protocol (RTCP), with additional protocols for signaling and data, provided but the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

[0028] Using this process allows the present invention to effectively deliver digital video streams, such as advertisements or messages, directly to a networked or multi-player video game thus satifying a need in the existing art.

[0029] Summary of the State Technology

[0030] Digital advertisement insertion systems for traditional broadcast networks, cable television, and even video streaming over the Internet, have become increasingly viable as the availability of equipment has grown, and the cost of carrying audiovisual data has declined. Pure, broadcast digital ad-insertion systems are still relatively rare, based on the fact that these systems typically require new and significant hardware, software and programming, plus they require significant bandwidth connections, normally much greater than analog signals. The result is that the cost of this solution, even with continuing price reductions, makes this technology prohibitively expensive for all but the largest of corporations and not appropriate for networked or multi-player video games, and can not offer the targeted demographic precision of the present invention.

[0031] Accordingly, a need has arisen for a digital advertisement-insertion system and method for video games, and particularly for networked or on-line and multi-player video games and video game consoles. The present invention retains all the advantages of the prior art of ad insertion, incorporates blue screening and matting technology used in motion pictures, and creates a new system and method, and opens up the possibility of an entirely new market for advertisements and product placements.

[0032] The present invention, utilizing the combination of digital advertisement insertion, video games and video game consoles, bluescreening or matting, video streaming and ITU standards, further provides an improvement by complete automated control of advertisements, dynamic control of the advertisement insertion process, while significantly reducing the complexity and difficulty of the prior art in advertisment insertion systems.

[0033] Based on the above and foregoing, it can be appreciated that there presently exists a need in the arts of advertisement insertion and video games, to overcome the above-described deficiencies. The present invention was motivated by a desire to overcome the drawbacks and shortcomings of the presently available technology, and thereby fulfill the need in the art.

[0034] To date, there is no mechanism, apparatus or method to provide a digital video advertisement insertion system, for video game consoles with a network connection. The invention described herein provides such an apparatus and method.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0035] The present invention is a system and method for providing the automated ability to digitally insert a video stream, such as an advertisement, into a video game which has a network connection. The system of the present invention includes a computer network that comprises a video game center, which is capable of communications with multi-player video games, networked video games and other video game consoles. When a user begins a video game, the system logs that user onto a video game center, with a notification message containing network address information. This information is then sent to a playlist server, which contains information about content and schedule for digital advertisements.

[0036] While the video game is executing, a separate piece of client software executing within the video game, is also executing. This software is in direct contact, over a network, with the playlist server. Within the graphics display of the video game, a window is created within the video game, that will act as a mask or matte upon which to draw the digital advertisement, message or video stream. After receiving a notification from the playlist server, a video server residing within the video game network, will then begin to stream a video message to that unique video game or video game console. The client software running as a process within the video game, with then decode and display that video stream, message or advertisement onto the window mask within the game, while the game is executing.

[0037] The present invention includes an apparatus and method for the decoding and display or playback of the audio, video and data streams. The system of the present invention for the encoding, decoding and display or playback of the audio and video data comprises: 1) an encoder within the video game network that converts the original advertisement analog audio signal to a digital format; 2) an encoder that converts the analog video signal to a digital format; 3) a decoder at the client that converts the digital audio signal into an analog signal that can be played back on either a television or supported speakers; 4) a decoder at the client that converts the digital video signal to an analog signal that can play on a standard television such as PAL (Phase Alternating Line) or NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) formats.

[0038] One embodiment of the present invention includes an apparatus and method for capturing video and audio signals at a local video game console, transmitting that data, and displaying it another video game console, within a video mask window. The system of the present invention for capturing audio and video data comprises: 1) a CCD (Charged Coupled Device) or CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) camera; 2) a microphone; 3) an A/D (Analog to Digital) converter; 4) a camera DSP (Digital Signal Processor); and 5) a cable to connect a video game console.

[0039] The present invention includes an apparatus and method for supporting the International Telephone Union (ITU) standards for computers, equipment and services carrying real-time audio, video and data, or any combination of these over a network. The system of the present invention for supporting H.323 standard contains client software applications and modules that comprises: 1) call signaling and control; 2) audio and video streaming; 3) audio and video codec compatability; and 4) support for the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standards: a) Real-Time Protocol (RTP) and b) Real-Time Control Protocol (RTCP).

[0040] The present invention also includes an apparatus and method for client application software for the game console to be executed by the game console. The system of the present invention for execution by the game console comprises: 1) processing logic in the machine language format that can be read and executed by the game console.

[0041] It is an object of the invention is to provide a low-cost and easy to use digital advertisement or live stream insertion system utilizing a network server, a network connection, and a video game console or computer which may be combined with a standard television set or monitor. The abilities of the invention include:

[0042] Digital insertion of a video stream into a video game connected to a network

[0043] Schedule the automated insertion of an advertisement or digital stream

[0044] Display received video streams onto a matte within the video game

[0045] Support networking standards

[0046] Communicate directly between client and server or peer-to-peer networks

[0047] Distribute data over an Internet Protocol (IP) network

[0048] Stream live video and audio data from one video game to another

[0049] The digital audio/video advertisement insertion system of the invention includes analog audio/video source information and apparatus for the video game console adapted for digitizing, compressing and storing the information. Playback software is provided to decompress the information and regenerate an analog signal sent from another video game console. Patching apparatus controls the video game network and inserts the stream into a video game channel at pre-selectable times. A preferred embodiment further includes apparatus interconnected with the digitizing, compressing and storing apparatus for editing the digitized information before it is played and inserted into a video game communications channel. In this specification the term advertisement insertion is meant to include any material (including video, audio, or both) regardless of length, inserted or broadcast in a communication channel.

[0050] The present invention is an, innovative and new commercial digital advertisement insertion product that easily integrates with a video game console system which has a network or Internet connection, creating a simple, cost-effective, precisely targted multimedia advertising system over a network. The participants in a multi-player video game using a video game console and the present invention can also ‘see and hear’ each other while playing the game, independent of their location. In fact, combined with a video game console and a televison, the present invention also provides a person with a complete videophone, and allows that person the ability to video conference (constantly transmit video, audio and data) from anyplace in the world—cheaply and simply.

[0051] This invention comprises the ability to capture voice and video, digitize the information, compress the data on the sending side, and formatting and sending the information over an IP network. On the receiving end, it has the ability to receive the IP data, decompress the received audio and video data, convert that to an analog signal and ‘play’ both the video and audio information on a television set. Thus, it creates a video phone and video conferencing system and method.

[0052] These and other advantages of the present invention are fully described in the following detailed description of the preferred embodiment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0053]FIG. 1 illustrates the system architecture and overview of how the present invention operates.

[0054]FIG. 2 illustrates a simplified view according to one emodiment of the present invention.

[0055]FIG. 3 illustrates the individual components and network connections of the video game network according to various embodiments of the present invention.

[0056]FIG. 4 illustrates a view of a video game broadcasting a video stream to another console according to one emodiment of the present invention.

[0057]FIG. 5 illustrates a view of a live stream video phone call according to one emodiment of the present invention.

[0058]FIG. 6 illustrates a view of a standard video game console of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0059] A system and method for digitally inserting an advertisement into a video game that operates in conjunction with a video game console and a video a game network are herein described. In the following description, for purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. It will be evident however, to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well known structures, industry standards and devices are shown in block diagram form in order to facilitate description. In other instances, well know structures, interfaces and processes have not been shown in detail in order not to unecessarily obscure the present invention.

[0060] In one embodiment, steps according to the present invention are embodied in machine executable software. In other embodiments, hardware and electronics may substitute, or be used in combination with, the machine executable software to implement the current invention.

[0061] The present invention interacts with a system comprising: a commercial video game system in which a video game console is connected to a television, and a plurality of video game consoles, computers or other devices that are also connected through a network, by a modem or network interface card (NIC), to video game network or a packet based network such as the Internet. The video game console includes a processing system that executes machine readable code, commonly called a video game title, containing software that enables a user to view a video signal on the television, hear an audio signal over speakers, the ability to interact with the software and control devices, and make selections through a graphical user interface (GUI) which are visually displayed on the television, and that receives this input from a video game controller.

[0062] For purpose of clarification, a live video stream will be considered a special type of computer based videoconferencing technology, in that it produces and utilizes a series of still images to convey the idea of a live or constant transmission.

[0063] The result of the present invention, when used in combination with a video game console system, is the first digital advertisement system specifically designed for multi-player networked video games and a video game console, and one that is simple, easy to use and is also currently the most cost effective way to offer the capabilities of full-motion digital advertisment insertion for video games over a network.

[0064] System Architecture

[0065]FIG. 1 depicts the system architecture and overview, which is a logical view of one configuration of the present invention to digitally insert an advertisement or message into a multi-player video game. It consists of a Video Game Console (9), a Video Game Server (1), and is connected by way of a Network (7) according to one embodiment of the present invention. In this case it is illustrated by way of a line drawing diagram. While multiple clients or video game consoles of the present invention may be included in this architecture, for purposes of simplicity, in this case the System (15) and associated apparatus comprise a single system or User A (11) whom is connected to a Network (7). The client or Video Game Console (9) is connected to a Television (12) for playing video and audio signals. The video game console and the Video Game Network are connected to the Internet (8), for a a communications channel.

[0066] As will be described in further detail below, in this example the endpoint, or node of the present invention comprises a Video Game Console (9), and a connection to a Networked Server (5). Machine executable code (10), also known as a video game, application or title, runs within the game console. The Video Game Console (9) is connected to a network interface, which contains a method or apparatus, such as a network interface card (NIC) or a modem, which is connected to a network, for example the Internet or a Local Area Network (LAN) (7). The digital Advertisement (2), which will be inserted into the video game while it is playing, is stored on the Video Game Server (1).

[0067] As a user starts the video game console, and the video game console begins to execute the video game title, the application client of the present invention sends a message to the Network Server (5) indicating that a new game is in progress. The Network Server forwards that message to the Video Game Network (4), where it will processed by the Progam Manager (6). The program manager is responsible for coordinating the incoming message, its destination and source, with information within the Playlist (3) which contains a list of content, such as commercials, and schedules for the digital advertisements. Once this linking between the incoming message and the playlist has occurred, the Video Game Server (1) begins to stream the selected advertisement to the clients network address. At the client, the received stream will then be decoded, converting it to information that can be played on the client system. Then, while the game (14) is playing on the display (12), the digital advertisement will be displayed within an area inside the game, by the process of bluescreening, or inserting the advertisement onto the color mask or matte (13), within the current display.

[0068] In view of the architecture shown in FIG. 1, there are clearly several economic and technical reasons for using the present invention as the most effective method, system and apparatus to offer digital advertisement insertion capabilities for video game, particulary as there is no current system capable of the same. These are listed in order of relative strengths:

[0069] 1. New Markets. By utilizing the current base of existing technology, including the new networked video game consoles, and the television, the present invention facilitates a completely new form and market for targeted advertising and product placement. By maximizing impact by targeting advertisements toward specific demographic groups, regions or even time periods, this system offers the additional advatange of significantly increasing the precision and number of advertising opportunities. And by creating a system the can dynamically change an insert, the system can place a german beer commerical in Germany, and an American one in America, into the same game.

[0070] 2. Cost. The current video game consoles are significantly cheaper than any of their counterparts as a medium capable of displaying video and audio signals. By comparison, machines that are also capable of the same, which include but are not limited to a desktop system using a personal computer, which is considerably more expensive. The cost of a well targeted advertisement, to a very select demographic, is significantly cheaper and more cost effective than the expansive approach offered by tradtional broadcast methods.

[0071] 3. Simplicity. When the present invention is combined with the well known, and well established art of video game functions, it allows the sytem to place strategically targeted advertisement into a video game, automatically. Compared to the relative ease of use, quality, and convenience of other systems of advertisement, the present invention is the least complex method for automated formatting and delivering video streams directly to one of the most coveted advertising demographics in the world.

[0072] 4. Streams. The unique method of digitally inserting a video stream by overlaying it on a window within a game or show, creates a new blackboard for which to draw on. This can help in reducing the barriers to targeted digital advertisements to many more people than ever. The present invention can offer the long awaited promise of an inexpensive, very simple, and effective way to target very specific demographic groups and create a video streaming system for video game networks.

[0073] Sample System

[0074]FIG. 2 represents a sample simplified architecture of the digital advertisement insertion System (34) for video games integrated with a video game console (25) or computer (29) and according to one embodiment of the present invention. The logic flow and software control of the present system will be described in greater detail in following sections.

[0075] The logic of the present invention is similar to the common process of a client computer requesting, receiving and displaying a web page or Hypert Text Markup Language (HTML) document from a computer or network server that uses Internet Protocol (IP) mechanisms on the Internet.

[0076] In this embodiment, a User (28,32) initializes the Video Game Console (25) or Computer (29) by first powering the system on. A user can begin a video game in several ways. The game can be either stored on a CD, DVD or game cartridge (22A, 22B), or on a video game network (17). If the game resides on a CD, DVD, or game cartridge, then the user would continue by then inserting the game into the Video Game console (25) or Computer (29), which will begin the process of the loading the machine code to execute the video game. This CD, DVD or game cartridge contains the application program, device drivers for hardware for the present invention, and interfaces to the video game console or computer operating system and other supporting software. On a network based or multi-player video game game system, the user can enter a computer network address, name, or locate a game host from a service such as the Internet Directory services. This information can reside on a computer on the Internet (23) and can be accessed through an Network Access Server (24) such as and Internet Service Provider (ISP).

[0077] Machine code executing as the software application, checks the configuration of the present system. Proceeding, the system then checks to see if a network is present (21). If a network is not present, it checks to see if any digital advertisements are stored locally or within the game itself, as an example stored on the CD that contains the video game. It it finds such an advertisement, it can then insert the local or stored advertisement into the game. If it does find a network connection (21) present, it will begin to try to contact the video game network Central Server (18).

[0078] The system of the present invention then begins the process of determing if and which digital advertisement to insert into the networked or multi-player video game. It recieves notification that a game has begun, and stores relevant information, including the network address of the players on the video game network Central Server (18) in the form of a database. Simultaneously, while the video game is executing, a separate process executing within the game console creates a matte key or bluescreen mask within the video game. Another process executing within the client, creates a communication pathway, in the form of a socket, to the Video Game Network Server.

[0079] Concurrently, the machine code executing on the video game console or computer, establishes a network connection with the video game network Cental Server 18). The Central Server shall look up information stored in the Playlist (16) about what should play based on information and logic rules stored on the Central Server. As an example of a logic rule that may be applied, within the Playlist is a schedule for all video games starting between 08:00 AM and 09:00 AM, and instructions that each game should receive the same digital advertisement insertion for a popular breakfast cereal.

[0080] The advertisement is digitally stored on a Video Server (20), within the Video Game Network (17), and which will broadcast the selected commerical or Advertisement (19) over the network to the client. While the game is executing, and User A (28) is playing User B (32), the client application has created a matte key location (27,31) within the game. So while the game is playing, each client (25,29,33) that is on the Video Game Network will receive that advertisement (19) and see it on the Televsion (26) or Monitor (30), or other devices such as Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or cell phone (33), while the game continues to play.

[0081] Video Game Network Configuration

[0082]FIG. 3 illustrates one embodiment of the network system configuration of the present invention. This includes a Video Game Network (35), an external Video Game Hub (44) for routing and distribution, the Access Networks (45) for Internet entrance, and the clients (46,48,49). This includes a centralized Video Game Network Server (36), which logically connects the separate peripheral devices (46,48,49) and the External Video Game Hub and Access Network Servers (44,45) to one central gateway, the Video Game Network Server (43). In this example of the present invention, the system also includes the clients and perhiperal device, for example a Video Game Console (46) connected to a television (47), a Computer (48), and other devices such as PDA's hand held's and cell phones (49). The clients gain access to the network through Internet Service Providers (ISP) (45) or directly to the Video Game Network (43).

[0083] The role of the Video Game Advertisement Insertion Network (35) within the system, provide the framework and the mechanisms to actively insert a digital advertisement stored with in the system, into an executing networked or multi-player video game. The Video Game Advertisement Insertion Network (35) herein contains several separate logical components that are to be described in more detail in the following.

[0084] In FIG. 3. the Video Game Advertisement Network (35) consists of applications logically organized into the Playlist (42), the Content Manager (41), the Broadcast Encoder Server (39) and MUX (40), an Interactive Data Server (38), a Video Server (37), and the main Central Video Game Server (97). Each of these applications shall be discussed in futher detail.

[0085] The Playlist (42) is a logical application that is responsible for the name, schedule, storage location and other identifying information of the digital advertisements that will be inserted into the video game. Corresponding to a playlist for a broadcast station, or cable head-end, the playlist functions as a program scheduler, the program in this case being the digital advertisement to be inserted into the game. It manages the information required for channels, frequency, date, time and access control for advertisements.

[0086] The Content Manager (41) provides the ability to move, copy and manage the inventory of advertisements. It performs functions associated with the digital storage, location, network administration, file maintainence, data integrity, and disk management services.

[0087] The Broadcast Encoder Server (39) and the MUX (40) provide the computer based capability of digitally multiplexing the video game, video game data and the digital advertisement into a single Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) Transport stream. This provides the present invention a method and system to digitall stream the game, the advertisement and other data more efficiently in a single stream, and provides a way to service digital cable networks as well. This works in concert with a matching demultiplexer at the client, which posses the ability to decode the stream back into it's original separate components.

[0088] The Interactive Data Server (38) is an application that contains User profile and demographic information. A cache is kept for each player or system user, including network information. It contains rule based logic for the delivery and transport of associated data. This allows for extraordinarily precise targeted advertisements and product placements, and it is cheaper and more effective than traditional network broadcast solutions.

[0089] The Video Server (37) contains a standards-based Real-Time Transport Protocol/Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTP/RTSP) engine that is capable of multi-casting the digital advertisement, functioning as a video streaming server. The Video Server can multicast, broadcast or stream peer-to-peer the stream over a network, such as the Internet. Clients on the network can connect and receive the advertisement through a network socket.

[0090] The Video Game Network Server (43) serves to manage network connections and information, such as routing, network address translation, packet switching aand IP switching, and includes operations support systems. Combined with the External Video Game Hub (44) this creates a video game distribution hub, and a centralized point of entry into the Video Game Advertisement Network for the video game console clients.

[0091] The Video Game Console (46), Computer (48) or other Access Devices (49) contains client software with the ability to decode the incoming data streams, and control the display of the digital insertion, or advertisement. This is where the client application generates the matte or mask key, enabling the application to insert the decoded data into the video game while playing. Playing on the Televsion (47), or other display devices (48,49), the digital advertisement can be seen.

[0092] One embodiment of the present invention, performs the same function of digitally inserting a commerical into a video game on a networked multi-player game that is played on a Personal Computer over the Internet, rather than a video game console. This may include other access devices, sush as celluar phones or Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) (49).

[0093] The Video Game Advertisement Network thus described, improves upon the present art by creating the first digital advertisement system specifically designed for multi-player networked video games and a video game console, and one that is simple, easy to use and is also currently the most cost effective way to offer the capabilities of full-motion digital advertisment insertion for video games over a network.

[0094] System for Live Streams

[0095]FIG. 4 illustrates 2 client systems (61,74) and a network (66) system for connecting them. This system provides the apparatus and method for inserting a live digital stream (59) captured at the client (61), into a video game client (70) with a mask or matte key (68) while the video game is playing (50), and thus creating a videophone (56), or video conference, according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0096] The two clients of the present invention will be described in more detail in the following sections.

[0097] The core of the 1st client system (61) for creating a live stream, includes a network (66) connected to a video game console (52) by means of a Network Interface Card (NIC) (53), hardware for the capture of video (58) and audio (57) data, executable machine code (54) in the form of an video game application that operates within the video game console, a CD or DVD device or a networked Video Game Server (65), a video game controller, (60) and a standard television set (51) for display.

[0098] Components for Client 1:

[0099] A. Video Game Application

[0100] This is a video game title, or machine readable medium (54) that contains the exectuable, or machine language to be executed within the video game console. It provides the functions for the encoding, network management, and blue screening and matting ability.

[0101] B. Videophone

[0102] The videophone physically consists of two parts, a camera for the capture of images, and a microphone for the capture of sound. These will described in greater detail.

[0103] 1. Camera

[0104] The essential function of the camera (58) is to convert captured light through a lens into electrons. Two common types of this are the CMOS and CCD type cameras. An analog to digital (A/D) converter turns each pixel into a digital value. It contains a Digital Signal Processor, sometimes known as a frame grabber, that ‘grabs’ a frame of data from the camera on a periodic basis. It is connected with a cable to either a hub, or the controller port of the game console. Executable machine code running on the (54) video game console, then turns the image in a standard image, for tramsmitting over the network such as file type JPEG (Joint Pictures Expert Group).

[0105] 2. Microphone

[0106] The microphone (57) is a simple device that can detect minute amounts of air pressure. It measures varying pressure waves in the air and converts them to representative varying electronic signals.

[0107] C. Video Game Console

[0108] At its core, a video game system or console (52) can be defined as a highly specialized computer. In fact, most systems are based on the same central processing units (CPU) that are used in many desktop computers. It is designed to be easily connected to a television and stereo. The present invention capitalizes on that fact by providing a simple, inexpensive and easy way to use the system as a videophone.

[0109] The list of components that all game consoles share in common are, a user controller interface, CPU, RAM, software kernel, storage medium for games, video output, audio output and a power supply.

[0110] The user control interface allows the user to interact with the game console. Most consoles use Rapid Access Memory (RAM) to provide temporary storage of the application, or software title. The software kernel can be thought of the console's operating system. The two most common storage technolgies used today are Read Only Memory (ROM) cartridges, and CD or DVD's.

[0111] The game console is described in much greater detail below, in association with FIG. 06.

[0112] D. Controller

[0113] There are several different types, including force feedback, paddles, joy sticks and others, but basically the video game controller (60) functions by interacting with the game console software and the software operating system Application Program Interface (API), and provides visual images clues on the screen.

[0114] E. Television

[0115]FIG. 4 shows a standard televsion (51) that converts input signals to video images that can be viewed. The game console (52) provides a video signal to the televison, and depending on the country of origin, this may include NTSC, PAL or even SECAM standard video output.

[0116] The core of the 2nd client system (74) for receiving a live stream, includes a network (66) connected to a video game console (70) by a Network Interface Card (NIC) (69), machine code (71) for the decoding of video and audio data, executable machine code (54) in the form of an video game application that is read from the video game console, a CD or DVD device or a networked Video Game Server (65), a video game controller, (72) and a standard television set (67) for display.

[0117] Components for Client 2:

[0118] A. Video Game Application

[0119] This is a video game title, or machine readable medium (71) that contains the exectuable, or machine language to be executed within the video game console. It provides the functions for the decoding of the digital stream, network management, and blue screening and matting ability.

[0120] B. Video Game Console

[0121] At its core, a video game system or console (70) can be defined as a highly specialized computer. In fact, most systems are based on the same central processing units (CPU) that are used in many desktop computers. It is designed to be easily connected to a television and stereo. The present invention capitalizes on that fact by providing a simple, inexpensive and easy to use the system.

[0122] The list of components that all game consoles share in common are, a user controller interface, CPU, RAM, software kernel, storage medium for games, video output, audio output and a power supply.

[0123] The user control interface allows the user to interact with the game console. Most consoles use Rapid Access Memory (RAM) to provide temporary storage of the application. The software kernel can be thought of the console's operating system. The two most common storage technolgies used today are Read Only Memory (ROM) cartridges, and CD or DVD's.

[0124] The game console is described in greater detail later on, in association with FIG. 06.

[0125] C. Controller

[0126] There are several different types, including force feedback, paddles, joy sticks and others, but basically the video game controller (72) functions by interacting with the game console software and the software operating system Application Program Interface (API), and provides visual images clues on the screen.

[0127] D. Television

[0128]FIG. 4 shows a standard televsion (67) that converts input signals to video images that can be viewed. The game console (70) provides a video signal to the televison, and depending on the country of origin, this may include NTSC, PAL or even SECAM standard video output. The live stream from Client 1 can now be viewed (68) on Client 2.

[0129] Components for Network

[0130] The networks (66) basic function is in the area of packet delivery and transportation. This includes an IP router or switch (63) and a Network Server (64) for Network Address Translations. If the game is a multi-player networked game, then this network has the added responsibility of serving and maintaining the video game itself from the Video Game Server (65). As the network server constanly gets images and data (video and sound) from the 1st client (61), it maintains the required network connections. As the process continues, the network server takes the data it has received from Client 1, and packages and forwards that information to Client 2. Using the method for display and blue screening or matting as described earlier, the data and/or video stream created at Client 1 will then be continously drawn on the screen of Client 2, in an interative manor.

[0131]FIG. 5 represents a videoconferencing apparatus, digital advertisement system and method as a type of the present invention, in that it produces and utilizes a series of still images to convey the idea of a live or constant transmission.

[0132] System for Live Videoconference

[0133]FIG. 5 depicts a system overview of one embodiment of present invention, which is a system configuration for connecting two client systems (94,95) through a network (77) to individual video game consoles (75,76) to make a video conferencing call using the present invention. This system provides the method for capturing live digital streams at the client (82,83), encoding and transporting that stream to a video game client (75,76), receiving and decoding the stream at another client, and displaying that stream with a mask or matte color key (101,102), thus creating a video conference between two or more video game players.

[0134] In this case it is illustrated by way of a line drawing diagram. While multiple clients of the present invention may be included in this architecture, for purposes of simplicity, in this case the system and apparatus comprise 2 systems (94,95) which are connected to a network (77). The clients or game consoles (75,76) are each connected to a television set (78,79) for playing video and audio signals. The video game consoles, including the video game controllers (80,81), are connected to the devices and apparatus that make up the videophones (82,83).

[0135] As will be described in further detail below, in this example each endpoint node or videophone (82,83) system of the present invention comprises a video camera (84,85), a microphone (88,89), and a network hub (86,87). This endpoint is connected to the video game console by way of cabling (90,91). Machine executable code (96A,96B) also known as a video game application or title, runs within the game console. The game consoles themselves (75,76) are connected to a network interface, which contains a method or apparatus, such as a network interface card (NIC)(92) or modem (93), which is connected to a network (77), for example the Internet or a Local Area Network (LAN) (100).

[0136] The clients or endpoints of the present invention will be described in more detail in the following sections.

[0137] The core of the client system (94,95) for creating a live stream, includes a network (77) connected to a video game console (75) by a Network Interface Card (NIC) (92) or modem (93), hardware for the capture of video (84,85) and audio (88,89) data, and a hub to connect and manage the devices (86,87). Executable machine code (96A,96B) resides in the form of a video game application that is read from the video game console and can decode the received data, a CD or DVD device or a a connection to a networked Video Game Server (98), a video game controller, (80,81) and a standard television set (78,79) for display.

[0138] Components for Client 1:

[0139] A. Video Game Application

[0140] This is a video game title, or machine readable medium (96A,96B) that contains the exectuable, or machine language to be executed within the video game console. It provides the functions for the encoding, network management, and blue screnning ability. It also contains the logical decoder to reconstruct the incoming data stream.

[0141] B. Videophone

[0142] The videophone (82,83) consists of three parts, a camera (84,85) for the capture of images, and a microphone (88,89) for the capture of sound, and a hub (86,87) for the connection and management of these devices. These will described in greater detail.

[0143] 1. Camera

[0144] The essential function of the camera (84,85) is to convert captured light through a lens into electrons. Two common types of this are the CMOS and CCD type cameras. An analog to digital (A/D) converter turns each pixel into a digital value. It contains a Digital Signal Processor, sometimes known as a frame grabber, that ‘grabs’ a frame of data from the camera on a periodic basis. It is connected with a cable to either a hub, or the controller port of the game console. Executable machine code running on the (96A) video game console, then turns the image in a standard image, such as a JPEG file, and delivers the image.

[0145] 2. Microphone

[0146] The microphone (88,89) is a simple device that can detect minute amounts of air pressure. It measures varying pressure waves in the air and converts them to representative varying electronic signals.

[0147] C. Video Game Console

[0148] At its core, a video game system or console (75,76) can be defined as a highly specialized computer. In fact, most systems are based on the same central processing units (CPU) that are used in many desktop computers. It is designed to be easily connected to a television and stereo. The present invention capitalizes on that fact by providing a simple, inexpensive and easy to use the system.

[0149] The list of components that all game consoles share in common are, a user controller interface, CPU, RAM, software kernel, storage medium for games, video output, audio output and a power supply.

[0150] The user control interface allows the user to interact with the game console. Most consoles use Rapid Access Memory (RAM) to provide temporary storage of the application. The software kernel can be thought of the console's operating system. The two most common storage technolgies used today are Read Only Memory (ROM) cartridges, and CD or DVD's.

[0151] The game console is described in much greater detail below, in association with FIG. 6.

[0152] D. Controller

[0153] There are several different types, including force feedback, paddles, joy sticks and others, but basically the video game controller (80,81) functions by interacting with the game console software and the software operating system Application Program Interface (API), and provides visual images clues on the screen.

[0154] E. Television

[0155]FIG. 4 shows a standard televsion (78,79) that converts input signals to video images that can be viewed. The game console (75,76) provides a video signal to the televison, and depending on the country of origin, this may include NTSC, PAL or even SECAM standard video output.

[0156] The core of the network system (77) contains a Network Server (99) for networks address translation and routing functions, a Video Game Server (98) to manage the connections of the client videogames, and a Video Server (97) for managing the broadcast of multiple streams in the case of a multi-client video conference.

[0157] In view of the architecture shown in FIG. 5, there are clearly several economic and technical reasons for using the present invention as the most effective method and apparatus to offer full mutli-media conferencing and videophone capabilities when compared to any current system capable of the same. These are listed in order of relative strengths:

[0158] 1. Cost. The current video game consoles are significantly cheaper than any of their counterparts as a medium capable of displaying video and audio signals. By comparison, machines that are also capable of the same, which include but are not limited to a desktop system using a personal computer, a stand-alone or “roll-about” system where all the electronic equipment required for a videoconference is contained in a transportable cabinet, and set-top or cable boxes, are all considerably more expensive.

[0159] 2. Simplicity. When the present invention is combined with the well known, and well established art of video game controller functions, once connected, it allows a user of the system to place a videophone call with essentially a single push of a button. Compared to the relative ease of use, quality, and convenience of other systems, very few things can be simpler and easier than pushing a single button on a video game controller to launch a video conference over the Internet on a television set.

[0160] 3. Effectiveness. By utilizing the current base of existing technology, including video game consoles and the ubiquitous television, the present invention offers the additional advatange of significantly reducing the barriers to video conferencing to more people and businesses. The present invention can offer the long awaited promise of an inexpensive, very simple, and effective way to create a videophone and multimedia conferencing system.

[0161] Video Game Console System

[0162]FIG. 6 is a diagram of the current state of the art in video game system architecture. Presently, most consumer based based video game console are a type of specialized computer, built around a microprocessor. This system architecture is similar to those commonly in use by at home by consumers, for example the XBOX™, which is a product of the Microsoft Corporation, the GAMEBOY™, a product of the Nintendo Corporation, and the PLAYSTATION 2™, a product of the Sony Corporation. The system herein described is collectively called the video game system according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0163] A logical example of a typical video game system is described here for purposes of clarification of the current state of the art. The video game system (103) is comprised of a video game console (104) and a video game controller (105), connected to a port at the back of the game console (106). A standard television set (107) is connected to a port at the back of the game console (108), and the television acts as a monitor with speakers. The controller (105) is operated by the user for inputing data, which is translated into a set of executable operations for the central processing unit CPU (109) of the video game console.

[0164] In FIG. 6. the video game console (104) of a typical system is comprised of the following major components:

[0165] Central processing unit (CPU) (109);

[0166] Operating System (O/S) (110);

[0167] Memory, Random Access (RAM) (111) and controller (112);

[0168] Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) (113), further comprising:

[0169] Vector Unit (114);

[0170] MPEG Decoder (115);

[0171] Graphics Interface (116);

[0172] Pixel Processor (117);

[0173] Rapid Access Memory (118);

[0174] Display Controller (119);

[0175] NTSC/PAL Decoder (120);

[0176] Audio Processor (121);

[0177] Video Decoder (115);

[0178] The Input and Output (I/O) of the video game console for the present invention consists of the following components:

[0179] Input Output Circuit (122);

[0180] Removable Storage:

[0181] CD-ROM or DVD (123);

[0182] Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA) interface (124);

[0183] Ports (106,108) Parallel, Serial, USB or IEEE 1394;

[0184] Network Interface (126,127) Modem or Ethernet;

[0185] To establish the environment of the video game console, in which the present invention operates within, a standard video game console session will be described. When the game console is powered on, a power-on self test is performed including a test to check if the video card is operational, memory tests, loads special drivers, and detects peripheral devices.

[0186] Then the bootstrap loader loads the operating system into memory and allows it to begin operation. It does this by setting up the divisions of memory that hold the operating system, user information and applications. The bootstrap loader then establishes the data structures that are used to communicate within and between the sub-systems systems and the applications of the video game console. Finally, it turns control of the video game console over to the operating system.

[0187] Once the operating system of the video game console has been loaded, the operating systems tasks fall into 5 broad categories of operation:

[0188] 1. Processor Management—Breaking the tasks down into manageable chunks and prioritizing them before sending them to the CPU—central processing unit.

[0189] 2. Memory Management—Coordinating the flow of data in and out of RAM and determining priorities.

[0190] 3. Device Management—Providing an interface between each device connected to the video game console, the CPU, and game applications.

[0191] 4. Application Interface—Providing a standard communications and data exchange between games and the game console.

[0192] 5. User Interface—Providing a way for the user to interact with the video game and the video game console.

[0193] At this time, after the console has been intialized, a user inserts a DVD into the game console. Several components work together from here as the DVD drive reads the video game and other information that is stored on that disk. The operating system determines that the video game is active, and displays a video game menu allows the user to input data to the game through the video game controller. The operating system determines the format that the data is in, and stores information in RAM.

[0194] Each instruction from the game controller is sent by the operating system to the CPU. These instructions are intertwined with instructions from other programs that the operating system is overseeing before being sent to the CPU. At this time, the operating system is steadily providing display information to the graphics unit, directing what will be displayed on the televison or screen, as well as the generation of an audio signal played concurrently.

[0195] If the game console is capable of receiving input from another source such as the Internet, through a modem or network card, the operating system integrates all incoming and outgoing information the video game.

[0196] Thus describes the environment in which the present invention for the digital insertion of advertisements or live streams for a video game console operates. The present invention is connected through a port on the video game console. One embodiment of the present invention contains a camera, microphone, a bus, and a DVD. The DVD contains the executable machine code for the video game application.

[0197] The computer readable program product according to the present invention is a computer readable program storing a game program. The computer readable program is comprised of a CD-ROM, DVD or is stored on a network server that the game console can connect to. The program product stores a process for executing the functions for a video conference between machines or devices.

[0198] The intention is not to obfuscate the invention with details of video game consoles that are known to those knowledgable in the art, but to generally illustrate the device in order to clarify the enviroment in which the present invention operates.

[0199] Example Description

[0200] Jackson is a freshman in college, living on campus at the University of California, Berkeley. Returning home from class, he checks to see if has received any messages while he was at class. Jackson has received a message from his best friend Rob, who notifies him that several of their friends are starting a multi-player networked video game on-line, and invites him to play. Jackson thinks that would be more fun than calculus homework, so he decides to play and join the session.

[0201] In the living room of Jackson's dormitory, he has an XBOX™, a product of the Microsoft Corporation, which is a video game console. The XBOX™ is connected to the television set with the standard AV (AudioNisual) cable that comes with the system, and supports composite video input. The XBOX™ console has a power cord that is plugged into a wall outlet. An XBOX™ controller is connected to a controller port on the front of the XBOX™. A twisted pair network cable connects the Ethernet port on the back of the XBOX™, to a network hub with Internet access in another room of the house.

[0202] Jackson has a Digital Versatile Disk (DVD) that contains both his video game and also includes machine executable code that is part of the present invention. He pushes the eject button on the front of the console to open the disc tray. He inserts the DVD into the disc tray, and presses the eject button again, causing the disc tray to close. The client software of the present invention boots up, and begins to execute. It first checks the network for information, then sends a message to the Video Game Network Server, indicating its status, IP and other information. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) is now displayed on screen and presents Jackson with a menu of selections.

[0203] At the same time, at the University of Michigan, Rob received a reply from Jackson that he is ready to play a video game on-line. So he goes to his living room, where he has a PS2™, a product of the Sony Corporation, which is also a video game system. The PS2™ is set up similarly to the video game system at Jackson's house. The PS2™ is connected to the television set with the standard AV (Audio/Visual) cable that comes with the system, and supports composite video input. The PS2™ console has a power cord that is plugged into a wall outlet. An PS2™ controller is connected to a controller port of the PS2™. The present invention, which in this instance contains a camera and a microphone, is connected with a USB cable to a USB port on the front of the PS2™, and rests on top of the television set. One difference between Jackson's system and Rob's is that instead of a network connection, Rob's has PS2™, an external modem. The modem is connected to a phone jack in his living room with a standard RJ-45 phone line.

[0204] Now Rob gets his DVD video game that contains the client software of the present invention. He pushes the eject button on the front of the console to open the disc tray. He inserts the DVD into the disc tray, and presses the eject button again, causing the disc tray to close. The software of the present invention boots up, and this causes the application on the DVD to initializes the modem and dial into an ISP, where the machine is assigned a dynamic IP address. It checks the network for information, then sends a message to the Video Game Network Server, indicating its status, IP and other information. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) is now displayed on screen and presents Jackson with a menu of selections.

[0205] Back in California, through the GUI on his machine, Jackson selects the game that he and Rob are going to play, which then sends a message to Rob, to get ready. He then goes down a list presented on screen of on-line users to play, and picks Rob. The machine code of the present invention, residing on the machine, contacts the Video Game Server, to retrieve and store the relative and dynamic information associated with Rob's network connection.

[0206] They now begin to play a video game on-line. While they are playing, the client software on each machine has sent a message to the Video Game Network Server that they are on-line and playing. Containing within the message is information about each, including it's network address and machine ID.

[0207] The video game network server has been notified that a game is playing, and who is playing. Client software executing on the video game network server then checks its database for a play list. There is a play list that contains an advertisement to play 5 minutes after the start of any game. Now, the video server cues up the digital commercial that will be inserted into the game, which happens to be for a shoe company.

[0208] The video server has the shoe commercial cued, and ready to be played. It sends a message to the client software executing within the video game console, that the commercial is about to be played. The client software running on the game console, then creates a matte, and as in the process of blue screening for movies, draws a color mask on screen. The video server then begins streaming the digital video message both to both client machines. Software running on the client machine now plays the shoe commercial on screen while the game is in progress, within a rectangle in the upper left corner of the screen, created with the color mask.

[0209] So while Jackson and Rob are playing on line, a small but targeted commercial is being played in the upper left hand corner of their screen. During the progress of their game, they also occasionally see and hear other commercials and clips, all the while playing on-line video games.

[0210] At this point in the game, Rob conquered Jackson and won the game. Not one to let the moment pass, Rob uses his controller to select the ‘live’ option from GUI. Machine code executing on Rob's machine then captures and transports audio and video data from the camera and microphone attached to his system. Back in California, Jackson sees and hears his friend on the television. Normally he would look forward to it, but since in this case it is to watch Rob's victory dance, he grins and bears it.

[0211] Thus, an improved method and system for digitally inserting advertisements or live streams into a video game, utilizing video game consoles has been described.

[0212] The specific arrangements and methods described herein are merely illustrative of the principles of the present invention. Those of ordinary skill in the art may make numerous modifications in form and detail without departing from the scope of the present invention. Although this invention has been shown in relation to a particular embodiment, it should not be considered so limited. Rather, the present invention is limited only by the scope of the appended claims.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/42
International ClassificationA63F13/12
Cooperative ClassificationH04N21/4781, H04N21/4316, A63F2300/50, H04N21/2668, A63F2300/5506, H04N21/812, A63F13/12
European ClassificationH04N21/2668, H04N21/81C, H04N21/431L3, H04N21/478G, A63F13/12