Title:
STRUCTURE AND METHOD FOR SELECTING, CONTROLLING AND SENDING INTERNET-BASED OR LOCAL DIGITAL AUDIO TO AN AM/FM RADIO OR ANALOG AMPLIFIER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system and method that allows digital audio files, either streaming or stored to be controlled and selected and provides an analog audio signal for broadcast by a radio or amplifier without interfering with the operation of the host PC. A remote device is provided which facilitates control of the system.



Inventors:
Gladwin, Stephen Christopher (Chicago, IL, US)
Bi, Depeng (Buffalo Grove, IL, US)
Spurgat, Jeffrey Jonathan (Verona, WI, US)
Cortopassi, Michael (Arlington Heights, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/760451
Publication Date:
10/14/2010
Filing Date:
04/14/2010
Primary Class:
International Classes:
G06F17/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
SELLERS, DANIEL R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCHWABE, WILLIAMSON & WYATT, P.C. (SEATTLE, WA, US)
Claims:
1. (canceled)

2. A base station for enabling content to be played on a remote playback device, comprising: at least one interface configured to be connected, directly or indirectly, to a separate host and to a remote component; a receiver configured to receive digital data from the host; a converter configured to convert the digital data to a predetermined format compatible with the remote component; and a transmitter configured to transmit the converted data to the remote component.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein the remote component includes at least one of the remote playback device and a repeater.

4. The system of claim 2, wherein the remote component is a repeater configured to receive the transmitted data via a wireless communications channel and to rebroadcast the received data onto an FM channel.

5. The system of claim 2, wherein the remote component is an FM radio.

6. The system of claim 2, wherein the digital data includes audio content.

7. The system of claim 2, wherein the received digital data is audio content streamed via the Internet.

8. The system of claim 2, wherein the base station further comprises: a digital signal processor configured to decode the received digital data and to provide the decoded digital data to a digital to analog converter; and a digital to analog converter configured to convert the decoded digital data into an analog signal, wherein the transmitter is further configured to transmit the analog signal as the converted data.

9. The system of claim 2, wherein the base station further comprises: an identifier; and a real-time clock, and wherein the base station is further configured to selectively control access to the content based on the identifier, a current time value of the real-time clock, and access control data encoded in the digital data.

10. The system of claim 2, wherein the base station is further configured to be interfaced to the host via a universal serial bus interface.

11. The system of claim 2, further comprising: a remote control device configured to be wirelessly interfaced to the base station, the remote control device including: a display configured to display information, provided by the base station, that relates to the content; and at least one control configured to receive an input and to operate the base station based on the received input.

12. A method of playing content on a remote playback device, comprising: receiving, at an adapter device, digital data, including the content, from a host; converting, by the adapter device, the content into a predetermined analog data format compatible with the remote playback device; and transmitting, by the adaptor device, the converted data to the playback device.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein transmitting the converted data includes: transmitting the converted data from the adapter device to a repeater; and rebroadcasting the converted data from the repeater to an FM radio.

14. The method of claim 12, wherein the content includes streamed audio content.

15. The method of claim 12, wherein receiving the digital data from the host includes: receiving the digital data from the host via a universal serial bus interface.

16. The method of claim 12, wherein converting the content includes: decoding the content; and converting the decoded content into an analog signal.

17. A computer-readable storage medium with an executable program stored thereon, wherein the program instructs a device to perform steps enabling playback of content on a remote playback device, comprising: receiving digital data, including the content, from a host; converting the content into a predetermined analog data format compatible with the remote playback device; and transmitting the converted data to the playback device.

18. The computer-readable storage medium of claim 17, wherein the content includes streamed audio content.

19. The computer-readable storage medium of claim 17, wherein converting the content comprises: decoding the content; and converting the decoded content into an analog signal.

20. An apparatus for enabling content to be played on a remote playback device, comprising: means for receiving digital data, including the content, from a host; means for converting the content into a predetermined analog data format compatible with the remote playback device; and means for transmitting the converted data to the playback device.

21. A system for enabling content to be played on a remote playback device, comprising: an adapter configured to communicate with a host, the adapter also configured to be connected to a remote analog device, the adapter including: means for receiving the digital audio data from the host and converting the digital audio data to analog audio data for playback by the remote analog device without interfering with the operation of the host; and means for receiving signals from a remote control device and controlling the host to play digital audio content selected from the remote control device; and the remote control device including: means for receiving the digital content information from the adapter; means for displaying the digital content information; means for receiving a selection of digital audio content; and means for transmitting signals representative of the selected digital audio content to the adapter.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/709,722, filed Nov. 10, 2000, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,702, 403, issued on Apr. 20, 2010, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/649,981, filed on Aug. 29, 2000, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,879,865, issued on Apr. 12, 2005, which claims the benefit and priority of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/151,714 filed on Aug. 31, 1999. The above-listed applications and patents are hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to an apparatus and a method for selecting and controlling digital audio signals from stored files or streaming digital audio signals and generating an analog signal to a remote device, such as an AM/FM radio or amplifier by way of a host personal computer (PC) without interfering with the operation of the host PC.

2. Description of the Prior Art

There is an ever-increasing amount of audio content available as digital computer files, for example in MP3 format, (like those found at www.mp3.com) or as streaming digital audio, for example, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,579,430 hereby incorporated by reference. These new types of audio content can be played on a personal computer with a sound card, but cannot be played on a radio or stereo that is designed to receive and amplify analog audio signals. There are several techniques for converting a digital audio source to an analog signal that could be used by analog radio or amplifier, but these techniques interfere with the operation of the host PC and would require use of the PC to select and control the audio, for example, on an analog radio. Thus, there is a need to provide a system which enables Internet-based or digital audio to be played, for example, on an analog radio without tying up a personal computer.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly, the present invention relates to a system and method that allows digital audio files, either streaming or stored, to be controlled and selected, and provides an analog audio signal for broadcast by a remote device, such as radio or amplifier, without interfering with the operation of the host PC. A remote device is provided which facilitates operation of the system.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other advantages of the present invention will be readily apparent from the following specification and attached drawing wherein:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of the system in accordance with the present invention, shown connected to a host personal computer, which, in turn, is connected to the Internet.

FIG. 2 is a data flow diagram of the base station which forms part of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of the base station which forms a part of this invention.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a remote device or navigator which forms a part of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram of a repeater which forms part of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a block diagram of the various PC software modules which form the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a flow diagram for the audio player software module in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a flow diagram for the remote device manager software module in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a flow diagram of the audio driver software module in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a flow diagram of the remote device driver software module in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 11 is a block diagram of an Internet accessing software module in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a block diagram of a basic user interface structure.

FIG. 13 is an exemplary user interaction diagram.

FIG. 14 is an exemplary diagram of a remote device manager in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 15-23 are exemplary screen shots for display on the remote device in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 24A and 24B are block diagrams of the navigator software architecture in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 25-29 are scenario oriented user interaction diagrams.

FIG. 30 is a flow diagram of the USB firmware.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

This application is related to copending commonly-owned patent applications, filed on even date: “Business Method,” Attorney Docket No. 11748/14, hereby incorporated by reference.

The present invention is adapted to interface with a host personal computer (PC) which, in turn, is adapted to be connected to virtually any web server in order to obtain audio sources. FIG. 1 shows the various components in the system and how they interact with one another. At the center of this system is a host personal computer (PC) 100 which may be connected to the Internet which acts as the home audio server.

The host PC 100 is preferably a Pentium or better microprocessor running Windows 95 or better. In accordance with an important aspect of the invention, the host PC 100 may be controlled to select and play and convert various forms of digital music, for example, from the Internet or from stored digital files for broadcast by remote audio device, such as a stereo or radio, under the control of a remote device or navigator which enables the host PC to run other applications if desired. Audio applications 110 running on the Internet connected computer 100 receive streaming audio content 111, such as from Internet radio stations, from the Internet 101 over a network connection 102, through a modem or network interface card, or use locally stored audio files 112, such as MP3 encoded audio, and send this digital audio data 220 to the base station 200, through, for example, a Universal Serial Bus, or USB cable 103. The base station 200 decodes the digital audio data 220, if necessary, and then converts this decoded digital audio data 221 to analog audio signals 222. The base station 200 then transmits the analog audio signals 222 to a receiver or repeater 240. The repeater 240 provides audio output 104 for connection to an audio playback device, such as a stereo 105. The repeater 240 may also be configured to, for example, rebroadcast the audio output 104 onto an unused FM radio channel for reception by a nearby FM radio 106. The user interacts with the remote device or navigator 260 to communicate wirelessly through the base station 200 with audio applications 110 running on the Internet connected computer 100 in order to change the Internet radio station, select a music playlist, and purchase goods, among other things without interfering with the operation of the host PC 100.

Base Station and Repeater Audio Data Flow

One of the main functions of the system is the flow of audio data from the Internet connected computer 100 through the base station 200, and finally to the repeater 240 and stereo 105 or FM radio 106. FIG. 2 diagrams the flow of audio data and the changes this data undergoes as it passes through the various components of the system. The Internet connected computer 100 sends digital audio data 220 to the base station 200. Inside the base station 200, the digital audio data 220 is passed to the audio processor 202, for example, a Texas Instruments, Model No. TMS320VC5416, for decoding, if the digital audio data 220 is in an encoded format, such as MP3. The audio processor 202 takes the decoded audio data 221 and passes it to the stereo digital to analog converter, or DAC 207, for example, a Texas Instrument, Model No. TLC320AS77C, for conversion to analog. The stereo DAC 207 passes the analog audio 222 to the audio transmitter 209, which wirelessly transmits the analog audio 222 to the repeater 240. The audio receiver 241, for example, in the repeater 240 receives the analog audio 222 and provides audio output 104 for connection to a stereo 105. The audio output 104 also goes to the FM transmitter 243, for example, for rebroadcast onto an unused FM radio channel for reception by a nearby FM radio 106. The data transceiver 211 and data antenna 212 are part of a separate schematic design and circuit board.

Base Station Hardware Architecture

FIG. 3 shows the various functional hardware blocks within the base station 200 and how the base station 200 interacts with the other components in the system. The base station 200 may connect to an Internet connected host computer (PC) 100 through a USB cable 103. On the base station 200, the USB interface controller 201, for example, an (MFR) Model No. TUSB3200, handles communications with the host PC 100. The USB interface controller 201 reads the code it runs from the USB firmware ROM 205 described below. The USB interface controller 201 is responsible for passing digital audio data 220 from the host PC 100 to the audio processor 202 so that the digital audio data 220 can be decoded, if it is in an encoded format, such as MP3. The USB interface controller 201 also handles data communications between the host PC 100 and the navigator 260 through the data transceiver 211, which wirelessly transmits and receives the data communications. The audio processor 202 takes the digital audio data 220 and decodes it, if necessary. It then passes the decoded audio data 221 to the stereo DAC 207, which converts the decoded audio data 221 to analog audio 222. The analog audio 222 passes through some audio filtering 208 before going to the audio transmitter 209, for example, which wirelessly transmits the analog audio 222 to the repeater 240. The audio processor 202 reads the code it runs from the DSP firmware ROM 206.

FIG. 30 outlines the base station USB firmware flow. When a USB access is received from the Internet connected computer 100 to the base station 200, the USB interface controller firmware determines the type of access from the Internet connected computer 100. If the access type is for transmit data to the navigator 260, then the USB interface controller firmware writes the data to the data transceiver 211. The data transceiver 211 then transmits the data to the navigator 260. The USB interface controller firmware returns acknowledge to the Internet connected computer 100 for the data transmit access to indicate data transmission is complete. If the access type is for receive data from the navigator 260, then the USB interface controller firmware checks the data transceiver 211 to see if there is any receive data available. If there is no receive data available, then the USB interface controller firmware returns no data available to the Internet connected computer 100. If the data transceiver 211 has receive data available, then the USB interface controller firmware reads the receive data from data transceiver 211. The USB interface controller firmware then returns the receive data to the Internet connected computer 100. If the access type is audio data, the USB interface controller firmware passes the audio data directly to the audio processor 202.

Additional functionality is provided through a unique ID 203 and a real-time clock 204. The unique ID 203 allows digital audio data 220 to only be accessible from a particular base station 200 through encoding of the digital audio data 220 based on the unique ID 203 for a particular base station 200. The real-time clock 204 allows use of digital audio data 220 to expire based on the current time value in the real-time clock 204.

Navigator Hardware Architecture

The navigator 260 (FIG. 4) acts as a remote device manager or remote control and allows the user to receive feedback from and provide input to audio applications 110 running the host PC 100. Data communications pass between the host PC 100 and the navigator 260 through the base station 200. The base station 200 is connected to the host PC 100 through a USB cable 103. The base station 200 then wirelessly transmits and receives the data communications with the navigator 260, giving the navigator 260 mobility within the range of the wireless communications. FIG. 4 illustrates this interaction between the host PC 100, the base station 200, and the navigator 260, as well as outlining the hardware functional blocks within the navigator 260. The navigator 260 receives and transmits the data communications using the data transceiver 211. This is the same type of data transceiver 211 that is used within the base station 200. The processor 261, for example, a Motorola Model No. MC68EZ328, handles the data communications with the data transceiver 211. The processor 261 takes user input from the user controls 264, which may be typically buttons and dials, and sends this information to the data transceiver 211 for wireless transmission to the base station 200 and eventually back to the audio applications 110 running on the host (PC) 100. The processor 261 receives update information from the audio applications 110 through the data transceiver 211, which the processor 261 then makes available to the user by updating the graphic information on the liquid crystal display panel, or LCD 266. The processor 261 reads the code it runs from the flash memory 263, which is also used to store information that must survive power cycling of the navigator 260. The processor 261 uses random access memory, or RAM 262, for executing code and storing volatile information, this is information that is subject to change or does not need to survive power cycling of the navigator 260.

Control of the navigator 260 rests in the processor 261, which in this example is implemented with a Motorola MC68EZ328. The processor 261 interprets the input from the user controls 264 and sends this information back to the host PC 100 through the data transceiver 211. The processor 261 also receives and interprets display update information from audio applications 110 running on the Internet connected computer 100 from the data transceiver 211. The display information is sent to the liquid crystal display panel, or LCD, 266. The processor 261 may control an infrared LED, or IR transmitter 265, for example, a LumEx, Model No. OED-CL-1556SN, that is used to control audio playback devices, such as a stereo 105, that supports infrared control.

The processor 261 uses external random access memory, or RAM, 262, which can come in a 4 megabyte by 16-bit configuration, for executing code and for storing information that doesn't need to survive a power down of the navigator 260. The processor 261 also uses external flash memory 263, which can come in a 1 megabyte by 16-bit configuration, for storing the code to be executed as well as storing information that must survive a power down of the navigator 260.

The user controls 264 may be composed of a set of 16 buttons which may be arranged in a 4×4 array and scanned by the processor 261. This reduces the number of signals required on the processor 261 to support the user controls 264. An always powered-up button (even when power is turned off to the rest of the navigator 260) may be used to turn power on to the entire navigator 260.

Additional functionality may be provided through the power handler and battery charger 267, which is controlled by the processor 261 and is responsible for power management, to conserve battery life, and charging of the batteries 268. There may also be an infrared or IR transmitter 265 that allows the navigator 260 to control audio playback equipment, such as a stereo 105.

Repeater Hardware Architecture

As shown in FIG. 5, the repeater 240 is composed of four sections, the repeater controller 242, the user controls 244, the audio receiver 241, and the FM transmitter 243. The repeater controller 242, which in this example is a Microchip PIC16C57, interprets the selections for the user controls 244.

The repeater 240 (FIG. 5) provides fairly straightforward hardware functionality. FIG. 5 outlines the various functional blocks within the repeater 240 and its interaction with the other components in the system. The base station 200 wirelessly transmits analog audio 222 for reception by the audio receiver 241 in the repeater 240. The audio receiver 241 provides audio output 104 for connection to a stereo 105. The audio output 104 also goes to the FM transmitter 243, which rebroadcasts the audio output 104 onto an unused FM radio channel for reception on a nearby FM radio 106.

Radio channel selection for both the audio receiver 241 and the FM transmitter 243 is handled by the repeater controller 242, which receives user inputs from the user controls 244, such as buttons. The user controls 244 indicate to the repeater controller 242 the desired user selection of a specific FM radio channel for the FM transmitter 243 to broadcast on. The user controls also indicate the desire by the user for the audio receiver 241 to scan for transmission from the base station 200 on all defined transmission frequencies.

Software

The software for the system, illustrated in FIGS. 6-12, is used to retrieve digital audio data from audio files on a local disk and/or Internet streaming audio data. The system organizes the audio data as a playlist. The playlist is transferred to the remote device 260 (FIGS. 1 and 14). A user may simply select and play a clip by using control buttons, generally identified with the reference numeral 1600, on the remote device 260. In response, the remote device 260 sends commands to the base station 200 (FIG. 1) which transfers the audio signals to a repeater 240 allows remote audio devices, such as a stereo 105 (FIG. 1) or an FM radio, to play the clip by way of a repeater 240.

FIG. 6. is a block diagram of the software modules resident in the host PC 100 for controlling the system. These software modules include a tuner software module 1602, an audio player software module 1604, a USB audio driver software module 1606, a remote device manager software module 1608, a remote device driver software module 1610 and an Internet access software module 1612. FIGS. 7-12 are representative flow diagrams for each of the software which are modules discussed below.

Tuner

The tuner software module 1602 provides a user interface which allows a user to edit and create playlists, download locally stored digital audio files 112 (FIG. 1) or streamed audio content 111 from the Internet to the host PC 100. The tuner is may be implemented as a software juke box, such as Microsoft Windows Media Player Version 7.0.

The configuration of the tuner software module 1602 may be saved into a local database. The database may be implemented using CodeBase 6.5 database engine.

Audio Player

The audio player software module 1604 (FIG. 6) plays the audio and runs in the background and functions in a similar manner as other audio players, such as Real Networks G2 Player and Microsoft Windows Media Player. The audio player software module 1604 is adapted to play local and Internet digital music files, Internet radio stations and other Internet streaming audio sources.

Referring to FIG. 7, initially, in response to an audio source, the system checks in step 1614 whether the audio file is a local audio file. If so, the system reads the entire audio file in step 1616. The system interprets the audio data according to audio format and sends the audio data to the USB audio driver software module 1606 in steps 1618 and 1620 until the entire file is read. Once the system determines that the entire file is read, the system issues a command in step 1624 that the entire file has been read.

If the system determines in step 1614 that the audio source is not a local audio file, the system automatically connects to the clip provider web server in step 1626. If the connection to the clip provider web server is successful, as determined in step 1628, the system reads the audio data over the Internet in step 1626. The audio data is interpreted according to audio format is step 1632 and sent to the USB audio driver 1606 in step 1634 until the entire clip has been played as indicated in step 1636. After the entire clip has been played, the system goes to step 1624 and issues a command to end playing of the clip.

Remote Device Manager

The remote device manager software module 1608 services requests by the remote device 260. As such, commands from the remote device 260 are read in step 1640. The system then decodes the commands in steps 1642, 1644, 1646, 1648 and 1650. During initial start up, as indicated in step 1652, the system sends initialization settings to the remote device 260 is 1654 and returns to step 1640 to await additional commands.

If the system determines that the command from the remote device 260 is a command to play a clip, as determined in step 1642, the system finds the address of the clip in step 1656 and sends the address of the music clip to the audio player software module 1604 and optionally other information, such as the title, artist, album and name of clip to the remote device 260 for display in step 1658. In step 1660, the system initiates the audio player 1604 software module to play the clip. After the clip is played, the system loops back to 1640.

If the system determines that the command from the remote device 260 is to download a clip as ascertained in step 1644, the system sends the request to the Internet accessing components software module 1612 in step 1646 which causes the clip to be downloaded in step 1648. After the clip is downloaded, the system returns to step 1640.

If the system determines in step 1646 that the command from the remote device 260 is to buy music, the system performs a financial validation in step 1666. Once the validation is complete, the request to purchase music is sent to the Internet accessing component software module 1612 in step 1668 which, in turn, downloads the purchased music in step 1670.

If the system determines in step 1648 that the command from the remote device 260 is to browse music, the system first determines in step 1672 whether the music is a locally stored digital audio file 112 (FIG. 1) or whether the music is streamed audio content 111 in step 1672. If the music is local music, the system searches a local database in step 1674 and sends the results to the remote device 260 in step 1676. However, if the music is streamed audio content 111, the system sends a request to the Internet accessing component module 1612 (FIG. 6) in step 1678 and requests the Internet music content server for the result in 1680. The system then sends the results to the remote device 260 in step 1676.

The system may also contain certain utilities. For example, the system may contain a utility for updating software on the remote device 260. Thus, if the system determines in step 1650 that the command from the remote device 260 is to update software, the system flashes the software on the remote device 260 in step 1682 and returns to step 1640.

USB Audio Driver

The USB audio driver software module 1606 receives audio data from the audio player software module 1604 and sends to the base station 200 (FIG. 1) by way of the USB bus 103. A flow diagram for the USB audio driver is illustrated in FIG. 9. In response to audio data, the USB audio driver copies the audio driver data into a local buffer in step 1684. After the audio data is copied to a local buffer, the system writes the data from the local buffer to a USB port on the host PC in steps 1686 and 1688. The USB audio driver continues writing the audio data to the USB port until all of the data and the local buffer as been written to the USB port.

USB Remote Device Driver

The USB remote device driver software module 1610 receives data and commands from the remote device manager software module 1608 (FIG. 6) and writes to the remote device 260 (FIG. 1) by way of a USB port. The USB remote device driver software module 1610 also receives data from the remote device 260 by way of the USB port and forwards it to the remote device manager software module 1608.

A flow diagram for the USB remote device driver software module 1610 is illustrated in FIG. 10. The USB remote device driver 1610 is responsive to the remote device manager software module 1608 for passing various data, such as track, album, artist, genre, playlist, radio station or other types of data to the remote device manager device driver software manager 1608. This information is written to a USB port on the host PC 100 in step 1690. As mentioned above, the USB remote device driver software module 1610 provides bidirectional communication between the remote device 260 and the remote device manager software module 1608 and the remote device 260 in steps 1692, 1694 and 1696.

Internet Accessing Component

The Internet accessing component software module 1612 communicates with the Internet to retrieve music data, such as artists, albums, tracks and radio stations. Internet accessing component software module 1612 also manages music downloads and other Internet accesses. An exemplary architecture for the Internet accessing component software module 1612 is illustrated in FIG. 11. The Internet accessing component software module 1612 communicates with servers on the Internet using hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). Data may be presented in extensible mark-up language (XML) format and XML parser, available from Microsoft Corporation may be used to parse the XML documents.

Remote Device Manager Software

FIG. 12 illustrates the local software within the remote device 260. The local software includes a user interface component 1698 as well as a wireless communication access component 1700. These components 1698 and 1700 are used to send user's requests to the remote device manager software module 1608 (FIG. 6) and provide data to the user from the remote device manager software module 1608 by way of the USB remote device driver software module 1610.

Remote Device

An exemplary embodiment of the remote device 260 is illustrated in FIG. 14. As shown, the remote device 260 is housed in a housing 1702 and includes control panel portion 1704 which may carry a number of control buttons 1600 as well as a display 1704 which forms a user interface, for example, as illustrated in FIG. 13 and described below.

The use of the control buttons 1600 on the control panel portion 1704 are merely exemplary. It is also contemplated that the control buttons 1600 can be integrated into a touch-screen display, for example, as manufactured by Samsung. In such an embodiment, the remote device 260 would consist of simply the display 1706 mounted on the control panel 1704. It is also contemplated that any number of the control buttons 1600 can be incorporated into a touch-screen display such that some of the hardware control buttons 1600 remain as hardware control buttons as some are integrated into the touch-screen display 1706.

Remote Device Manager User Interface

An exemplary navigation schematic for navigating through the various screens available by the remote device 260 is illustrated in FIGS. 24A and 24B. The screens illustrated in FIGS. 15-23 are merely exemplary screens. As shown in the navigation schematic in FIGS. 24A and 24B, the various configurations of the user interface 1708 are shown for all of the various configurations of the system. Exemplary configurations are illustrated in FIGS. 19-23. In addition, scenario-oriented user interaction diagram for various conditions such as shut-down, power save mode and wake-up main screen and search.

As indicated above, the remote device 260 includes a display 1706 for providing a user interface, for example, as illustrated in FIG. 13. The user interface, generally identified with the reference numeral 1708, may include a prominent status area which may include a play status area 1712 for displaying the status of a particular sound clip. The prominent status area 1710 may also include an active track meta data portion 1714 for displaying the particular soundtrack to which the current clip belongs. The prominent status area 1710 may also include a time remaining portion 1716 and volume/mute status portion 1718. The time remaining portion 1716 identifies the remaining time in a sound clip presently selected. The volume/mute status portion 1718 identifies the mute status of the device.

In addition to the prominent status area 1710, the user interface may also include a functional title area 1720 and a functional options area 1722 as well as a functional view area 1724 and bottom bar area 1726. The functional title area 1720 may be used to display current selections, for example, selections from the home screen 1728 (FIG. 15) or selections from intermediate screens such as the screen 1730 (FIG. 18). The functional options area 1722 is similar to the functional title area and displays options for selection, for example, as illustrated in FIG. 16. The functional view area 1724 may be used to predominately display music title list information, musical title content or may provide an on-screen keyboard 1732, for example, as illustrated in FIGS. 19 and 20.

The bottom bar area 1726 may include a left soft key 1734 and right soft key 1736. The left soft key 1734 and 1736 may be used for paging through the screens and issuing commands. Exemplary soft keys include “back”, “search”, “continue”, “add items”, for example as illustrated in FIGS. 16-23.

Exemplary screens are illustrated in FIGS. 15-23. Initially on power-up, a home screen 1728 may be displayed. The home screen 1728 enables the user to select one of the options in the functional view area 1728. As shown, assuming “My Playlists” is selected from the home screen 1728 in FIG. 15, the next screen 1740 is illustrated in FIG. 16. In this screen, “My Playlist” is now displayed in the functional title area 1720. The various options available in this state are displayed in the functional options area 1722.

In the example illustrated in FIG. 16, a user is given the option of creating a new playlist or removing a playlist. In addition, a list of current user playlists is displayed in the functional view area 1724. Assuming a user desires to make a selection from a current user playlist, the cursor is moved to the desired playlist, for example, by way of the navigation cursor buttons 1600 on the control panel 1704. As shown, a “Rock-n-Roll” playlist has been selected in FIG. 16.

FIG. 17 illustrates another screen shot in which the navigation cursor is moved to the “Blues Traveler” selection in the functional view area 1724. Assuming “Rock-n-Roll” has been selected, the system goes to screen 1744 as illustrated in FIG. 18. In this screen, the functional title area 1720 prompts the user with a search. The functional options area 1722 enables the user to search from various sources. After selecting one of the options in the functional options area 1722, an additional number selectable options, selectable by way of the navigation cursors, are presented in the functional view area 1724. The options presented in the functional view area 1724 provide the user with various options.

The screen 1732 and 1746, illustrated in FIGS. 19 and 20 respectively, illustrate the use of the on-screen keyboard to enable searching. In particular, the on-screen keyboard allows data to be searched by simply selecting a letter by way of the navigator buttons on the on-screen keyboard. In this example, illustrated in FIGS. 19-20, all of the playlists by artists are then illustrated in a lower portion of the functional view area 1724, which allows the particular composer to be selected by simply scrolling with the navigator buttons. Once a particular composer is selected, the system presents screen 1748, which identifies various compositions by the selected composer in the functional view area 1724. The various compositions can be selected by way of the select/tag control button 1600 on the control panel 1704.

As shown in FIG. 21 four (4), compositions have been selected. The soft key 1736 which, in this example, is an “add items” command, allows the selected compositions to be added to the playlist. As illustrated in screen 1750 (FIG. 22), the functional view area 1724 indicates that the four (4) selected items have been added to the end of the “Rock-n-Roll” playlist.

After the items have been added to the playlist, the screen 1752 (FIG. 33) is presented. This screen allows various user options such as adding additional items to the playlist, removing items from the playlist, reorganizing the playlist and renaming the playlist.

Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. Thus, it is to be understood that, within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described above.