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A PATENT APPLICATION ON embedding hyperlinks into audio signals - This application from Apple seeks to patent the idea of...putting hypertextual information into sound streams. 10 minutes of your time can help narrow US patent applications before they become patents. Follow @askpatents on twitter to help.

QUESTION - Have you seen anything that was published before 2/7/2012 that discusses:

Embedding textual information (e.g. a hyperlink) into a sound stream. The information could be added as meta information to the audio file or it could be embedded into the sound, interleaved with normal audio.

See AppleInsider

EXTRA CREDIT - A reference to anything that meets all of the criteria to the question above AND ALSO involves embedding a hyperlink so that it is inaudible or so that it is audible to listeners and where the metadata is a link or where it contains information about the audio stream.

TITLE: Audio Hyperlinking

  • Publication Number: US 20130204413 A1
  • Application Number: US 13/368,129
  • Assignee: Apple, Inc.
  • Prior Art Date: Seeking prior Art predating 2/7/2012
  • Open for Challenge at USPTO: Open through 2/8/2014

Claim 1 requires each and every element below:

A non-transitory computer readable medium, comprising:

  1. Computer code to cause an audio stream to playback on an electronic device;

  2. Computer code to traverse a hyperlink encoded with the audio stream to a destination object during playback of the audio stream; and

  3. Computer code to perform an activity corresponding to the destination object.

In English this means:

A computer program, comprising:

  1. Code to to play an audio stream

  2. Code to follow a hyperlink encoded with the audio stream to a destination object (e.g. a webpage)

  3. Code to perform an activity corresponding to the destination object (e.g. display the webpage)

Good prior art would be evidence of a system that did each and every one of these steps prior to 2/7/2012

You're probably aware of ten pieces of art that meet this criteria already... separately, the applicant is claiming encoding the hyperlink so that it is inaudible or so that it is audible to listeners and where the metadata is a link or where it contains information about the audio stream*.

I think that some of claims were implemented before 2012.. Adding metadata to an audio file as a separate stream, hiding metadata in the sound stream, recognition of metadata from audio signal. So, prior art is welcome...


"Audio Hyperlink from one audio track to another" from the Applicant


What is good prior art? Please see our FAQ.

Want to help? Please vote or comment on submissions below. We welcome you to post your own request for prior art on other questionable US Patent Applications.


PS I'm not sure if I will be able to send information of found prior arts to patent office, so I ask you to send this to it.


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At first look it seems clever to me. –  George White Aug 8 '13 at 23:33
    
There is a very similar application in the appstore. itunes.apple.com/us/app/chirp/id529469280?mt=8 –  Vaishak Suresh Aug 8 '13 at 23:42
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@George: That was my first reaction too. But as the prior art below demonstrates, it's hard to have genuinely clever and original ideas these days. ;) –  JoeG Aug 9 '13 at 12:24
    
@osgx Ask Patents will be happy to submit the prior art to the patent office under the AIA pre-grant submission process, and in some cases the examiner has been participating in the Ask Patents site directly. –  Micah Siegel Aug 11 '13 at 5:14
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This sounds very similar to the idea of HD radio - though I'm not sure if it's embedding the info into the sound stream. Also, steganography? –  Wayne Werner Sep 20 '13 at 13:44
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10 Answers

From way back in 1996, European patent EP1049320: "Initiating a link between computers based on the decoding of an address steganographically embedded in an audio object", appears a complete match for the claims in the current application:
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/EP1049320.html

Claims 1, 2, 11 and 14 of EP1049320 are particularly relevant:

*1. A method of initiating access from a first computer (1004) to a second computer (1002) via a data communications medium, which method is characterized by: at the first computer (1004), decoding steganographically embedded address information from audio data (1006), said data representing sampled audio information rather than ancillary information such as header data; and initiating a link to the second computer (1002) using the address information decoded from the audio data.

*2. A method according to Claim 1 wherein the address information comprises a URL address.

*11. A method according to Claim 10 further comprising including in the audio data object (1006) a human-perceptible indicium (1012) for indicating the presence of the steganographically encoded address information in the object (1006).

*14. A method according to any one of Claims 10 to 13 in which the data object (1006) further includes an icon presentable to a user in audio or visual form, the icon being indicative of the presence of steganographically encoded address information.

Unlike patents US20110194730, US 20030110516 A1, and US 6411725, this patent specifically refers to embedding a "hyperlink" in the audio object (rather than a "watermark"), and refers to that hyperlink being in the form of a URL. It also specifically refers to making the hyperlink inaudible (via steganography).

This would appear to completely anticipate and invalidate these claims by Apple in this patent application:

  • claims 1.2 and 1.3
  • the additional claim of "encoding the hyperlink so that it is inaudible".
  • the additional claim of "encoding the hyperlink so that it is audible" (via EP1049320 claim 11, "including in the audio data object (1006) a human-perceptible indicium...")
  • the additional claim of where the metadata "contains information about the audio stream" (since EP1049320 claim 14 proposes including an icon in the audio stream whose purpose is to provide information about the stream -- i.e. that it contains a link).
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How about this patent aplication? It specifies a video signal (but suggests embedding the watermark on the audio track), so I don't know if this would qualify as prior art. The patent was filed on Apr 19, 2011.

Another aspect of the invention is a method for using a watermark that has been encoded into a video signal or in an audio track accompanying the video signal. The watermark conveys information about a video object in the video signal. The method decodes the information from the watermark, receives a user selection of the video object, and executes an action associated with the information about the video object. *One example of an action is to retrieve a web site associated with the video object via the watermark. The watermark may include a direct (e.g., URL or network address) or indirect link (e.g., object identifier) to the web site.* In the latter case, the object identifier may be used to look up a corresponding action, such as issuing a request to a web server at a desired URL.

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First think that comes to my mind is simply soundcloud.com. I'm unable to reaserch their blog now as I write from an iphone but they had a feature to tag audio position and add a cent since forever (as a user so I think demographic also applies here)

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Patent Application: US 20030110516 A1

Publication Date: Jun 12, 2003

Title: System and method for embedding data in broadcast

Assignee: Sony Corporation

Abstract:

A system and method for conveying information pertaining to broadcast content such that the system is robust and stripping or blocking data is rendered relatively difficult.

A broadcast component encodes the content with a digital watermark or embeds an icon or other visibly or audibly transparent object (e.g., audio jingle) in the content.

A TV or radio that has a microprocessor decodes the content to retrieve the watermark or analyzes the image/jingle to determine an ID.

Using the ID a database is accessed to retrieve information pertaining to broadcast content.

Alternatively, the watermark may represent the actual data itself. The information can include, e.g., Web site hyperlinks, and/or UPC codes, and/or advertising data.

Any claim elements missing from this one?

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Issued Patent US 6411725

Publication Date: Jun 25, 2002

Priority Date: Jul 27, 1995

Title: Watermark Enabled Video Objects

Assignee: Digimarc Corporation

Abstract:

Watermarks in video signals or the accompanying audio track are used to associate video objects in a video sequence with object specific actions or information.

A video object refers to a spatial and temporal portion of a video signal that depicts a recognizable object, such as a character, prop, graphic, etc.

Each frame of a video signal may have one or more video objects.

The auxiliary information is embedded in video or audio signals using “steganographic” methods, such as digital watermarks.

By encoding object specific information into video or an accompanying audio track, the watermarks transform video objects into “watermark enabled” video objects that provide information, actions or links to additional information or actions during playback of a video or audio-visual program.

A similar concept may be applied to audio objects, i.e. portions of audio that are attributable to a particular speaker, character, instrument, artist, etc.

Claim 9:

A method for using a watermark that has been encoded into a video signal, where the watermark conveys information about a video object in the video signal, the method comprising:

  1. decoding the information from the watermark;

  2. receiving a user selection of the video object; and

  3. executing an action associated with the information about the video object.

From the specification

Another aspect of the invention is a method for using a watermark that has been encoded into a video signal or in an audio track accompanying the video signal. The watermark conveys information about a video object in the video signal. The method decodes the information from the watermark, receives a user selection of the video object, and executes an action associated with the information about the video object. One example of an action is to retrieve a web site associated with the video object via the watermark. The **watermark may include a direct (e.g., URL or network address) or indirect link (e.g., object identifier) to the web site. In the latter case, the object identifier may be used to look up a corresponding action, such as issuing a request to a web server at a desired URL.

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Sonic notify's app in the App Store has the same function and was first launched in November 2011. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/sonic-experiences/id482951704?mt=8

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The iPhone app called Chirp allows you to send audio links to other people. http://chirp.io/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM6Cz5ANI1Q

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The hyperlinking and computer pieces would be tough to match, but I was thinking of something along the lines of closed-captioning (I doubt there's much that would be earlier than that that speaks to claims 1 and 2): (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_captioning)

For all types of NTSC programming, captions are "encoded" into line 21 of the vertical blanking interval – a part of the TV picture that sits just above the visible portion and is usually unseen. For ATSC (digital television) programming, three streams are encoded in the video: two are backward compatible "line 21" captions, and the third is a set of up to 63 additional caption streams encoded in EIA-708 format.[19]

Captioning is modulated and stored differently in PAL and SECAM 625 line 25 frame countries, where teletext is used rather than in EIA-608, but the methods of preparation and the line 21 field used are similar. For home BetaMax and VHS videotapes, a shift down of this line 21 field must be done due to the greater number of VBI lines used in 625 line PAL countries, though only a small minority of European PAL VHS machines support this (or any) format for closed caption recording. Like all teletext fields, teletext captions can't be stored by a standard 625 line VHS recorder (due to the lack of field shifting support), they are available on all professional S-VHS recordings due to all fields being recorded. Recorded Teletext caption fields also suffer from a higher number of caption errors due to increased number of bits and a low SNR especially on low bandwidth VHS. This is why Teletext captions use to be stored separately on floppy disk to the analogue master tape. DVDs have their own system for subtitles and/or captions that is digitally inserted in the data stream and encoded on playback in video field lines.

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The Shoutcast software allows for embedding links I think.

The RDS system used on FM radio stations could potentionaly be relevant too.

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"Hyperlinks in an audio file" IBM patent.

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Welcome to Ask Patents. At Ask Patents and all other SE sites it is preferable to include more than a link and a few words. People are more likely to follow the link if a little more explanation is included. –  George White May 15 at 5:24
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