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Television Media Patents Hardware Technology

TiVo Files Patent For RFID Schema 129

JamesAlfaro wrote to mention an article on the site TechWeb, which reports that Tivo has filed a patent for an RFID-based preferences schema. From the article: "The multimedia mobile personalization system would have a remote control that recognizes the viewer's RFID tag closest to the PVR. The remote control identifies and notifies the multimedia device through the RFID chip in the person's clothing or body to tailor the media content to their preferences. The remote control device would identify and link the viewer to the system using an 'RFID tag that is attached to a key ring, necklace, watch, in his wallet, or even a sub dermal tag inserted somewhere in the user's body.'"
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TiVo Files Patent For RFID Schema

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  • by Ithika ( 703697 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:31AM (#14113445) Homepage

    Because choosing preferences onscreen or by pressing a button on a remote control is so labour-intensive and laborious. It's a wonder mankind manages to use things as they are.

    • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:38AM (#14113494) Homepage Journal
      Because choosing preferences onscreen or by pressing a button on a remote control is so labour-intensive and laborious. It's a wonder mankind manages to use things as they are.

      "It appears that Tom has entered the room. Shall I switch to Channel 54 - HotTeenAnal?"


      • What I want to know is what happens if two different people are both in the room with RFID?

        Could you hide an RFID tag in someones living room that always goes to porn? (or MTV, which judging by the current quality of music may be more embarassing to be caught watching)

        How about hijacking preferences, so the Tivo thinks Susy's preference is always the nature channel?

        And if we are all walking around with RFID tags embedded in us, who else could track/find us?

      • This brings new meaning to the concept of sticking an RFID tag inside someone's body.

    • We've survived thousands of years without tv, tv-remotes, radio, computers, the internet, (mobile) phones, electricity, soap, toilets, toiletpaper, shoes, penicillin and the list goes on and on and on..... so that stuff is all "Massive technological overkill" (if we'd follow your line of thought) because we can survive without it.

      My point is: Your kind of argument is soooo lame, it is even lamer than TiVo's patent.
      • by Ithika ( 703697 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:51AM (#14113569) Homepage
        No, you managed to completely miss my point. The current solution (the remote control) has no flaws which this system solves. Television, toilet paper, the internet are all inventions to solve problems; this is just use of technology because it exists. And, use where it complicates the situation. Why not just have a button on the remote marked "Dad's prefs", "Mum's prefs", "Johnny's prefs"? That way conflicts can be managed sensibly (by talking about who wants to watch what) rather than some priority system which the TiVo attributes to different RFIDs. Why do *you* think this system is *not* overkill?
      • We've survived thousands of years without tv, tv-remotes, radio, computers, the internet, (mobile) phones, electricity, soap, toilets, toiletpaper, shoes, penicillin and the list goes on and on and on..... so that stuff is all "Massive technological overkill" (if we'd follow your line of thought) because we can survive without it.

        A "massive technological overkill" is only that one step too far which shatters the achievements from a few thousand years of civilisation. Replacing remote controls by tagging eve

        • -1 too many irrational emotional appeals

          Even your use of bold font seems shocked, outraged, and over the top. I just can't take it seriously.

          Sorry to everyone I was about to mod up, but it had to be said.

    • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:44AM (#14113525) Journal
      Do you know people who will spend inordinate amounts of time searching for a lost remote instead of just changing the channel by hand? :raises his hand:
      I do
      • Re:Just Overkill (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ergo98 ( 9391 )
        Do you know people who will spend inordinate amounts of time searching for a lost remote instead of just changing the channel by hand? :raises his hand:

        With hundreds of channel it really isn't convenient to use little up/down arrows on the television anymore - effectively the user interface is borked if you don't have the remote. Neither of my DVD players will allow me to play a DVD without the remotes (they have a play button, but no method of choosing items on the DVD menu).
        • Re:Just Overkill (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Peaceful_Patriot ( 658116 ) <michelle@@@goldnuggetwebs...com> on Friday November 25, 2005 @01:55PM (#14114186) Homepage
          "Do you know people who will spend inordinate amounts of time searching for a lost remote instead of just changing the channel by hand? :raises his hand"

          This brings up an issue which has always bugged me: Why don't they put a 'page' button on the set so you can FIND the damned remote? Geeze. This seems like a no-brainer to me.
          • Patent that now!
          • There are several televisions that do this already. If you want a quick solution there's a product available that you can stick to the back of the remote (it's fairly flat/non-obtrusive) that will beep at you if you either clap or push a 'page' button on the base-station (works well for keys too). I agree that it should just a part of every television remote tho...

            http://www.keyringer.com/ [keyringer.com]
            http://www.sharperimageeurope.com/iu667.html [sharperimageeurope.com]
            http://www.findonefindall.com/ [findonefindall.com]

            finally...

            http://www.magnavox.com/index.cfm [magnavox.com]
          • I knew a guy who worked in the product development side of Phillips who had a home/custom-made one of these. It was just a black box with a red switch that sent whatever IR code was required to set off the beeper that was already included in the factory remote. He included one of these with the factory blemish TV he sold my ma.

            I also got to play Phillips CD-based home entertainment/video game console that had IR (or RF?) wireless controllers with PS dual-shock style controllers (without the force feedbac

        • Neither of my DVD players will allow me to play a DVD without the remotes (they have a play button, but no method of choosing items on the DVD menu).

          That's what the Play button is for. Pushing it is the same as choosing "play movie" on the front menu. At least that's what happens on my DVD player.
          • That's what the Play button is for. Pushing it is the same as choosing "play movie" on the front menu. At least that's what happens on my DVD player.

            It does this on neither of my DVD players (a Pioneer and a Toshiba). On both that simply plays the initial DVD, but then it sits on the main menu where the play button does nothing (actually both of them put a "what are you? A dumbass? It is playing" icon on the screen when you press it at the menu).
            • Maybe it's not the play button that's doing it on mine then. Perhaps it's from me pushing the tray in instead of pushing the open/close button to have it retract. I seem to recall that being a "quick-start" feature of my DVD player. Or maybe I'm just imagining that since it's not recommended you push the tray back in my any DVD player maker usually. This is a cheap little silver player I bought at Wal-Mart. But it is progressive scan with component out...
      • What if they're thinking that it'll pay off in the long term to find the remote control now?
      • If I paid $250 for a friggin' remote [bestbuy.com], you can bet I'd be crawling on my hands and knees looking for it.
      • Re:Just Overkill (Score:2, Informative)

        by krakelohm ( 830589 )
        Yes its stupid I agree, but on this subject... you cannot do anything with your series 2 tivo if you lose the remote control. There are some pretty lights on the front of the box, and thats about it. No buttons.
      • Yep, if you have DirecTV, Dish or digital cable, because the boxes don't have number keypads to enter channel numbers directly.
      • Tivos have no buttons on them. You have to use the remote to operate it.
    • [Disclaimer: I don't know anything about TiVo Series 2, what I sawy may be obsolete]

      When I first got a TiVo, I hung around on some TiVo community messageboards. One of the boards solicited suggestions for new features, and "profiles for multiple users" was on the list of suggestions they'd seen plenty of times before, and didn't want to get again thanks.

      It makes absolute sense to me for TiVo to support multiple profiles: if one person in the house loves soaps, and the other hates them, surely TiVo should b
    • RRID for this does seem like overkill, but to be able to seamlessly select individual preferences would be a big selling point.

      TiVo probably could make a lot more money selling personalized remotes. Each remote could be coded by something like a dipswitch in the battery compartment. This would make it possible, but somewhat inconvenient, to have personal prefs.

      A lot of people would just buy additional remotes for all of their family members, and even faceplates like the ones used on cellphones. This leads u
    • Detected multiple RFIDs, using first found: Levis Jean from Walmart
      Action: Find anything related to Jeans and Walmart
    • "That's odd, every time Bill enters the room, Will and Grace comes on. Hmmmm...."

      It used to be TiVo might think you're gay. Now it out's you!
    • Prior art of this type goes back to Xerox PARC in the mid 90's. There you wore a badge that when you walked into a room your desktop was loaded onto an unused or released computer there. It was called Ub-Comp.
  • FRIST PSOT (Score:2, Informative)

    by LordSnooty ( 853791 )
    DUPE!!!! [slashdot.org]

    Cor, that feels great, I've always wanted to do that.
  • by petabyte ( 238821 )
    even a sub dermal tag inserted somewhere in the user's body.

    I'll be getting off the ride now thanks!! I know they want to cover that in their patent but it gives me the creeps.
    • How long do you think it'll be before they track everyone with hypodermal RFID chips? At least we'll get some use out of it, like in this application.
      • What do you think is really in those "vaccines" that are mandatory for every kid?
      • Re:Well... (Score:3, Funny)

        by east coast ( 590680 )
        How long do you think it'll be before they track everyone with hypodermal RFID chips?

        What? That's old hat. Now they inject you with tiny men, like on Fantastic Voyage, and they speak words of wisdom when "the others" become mean and nasty...

        They tried to tell me it was some kind of schizophrenia or something but I scoff at their "medical science". I know the great Cthulhu is just helping me do what's best for me.

        Where did I put that chainsaw.... hmmmm....
      • Well, I'm already can be tracked in dozens of other ways already. My credit cards, bank withdraws, the metro fare card (RFID) in my wallet, security camera, my security badge for work, fingerprints, DNA. All of that of course assumes that someone is interested enough in me to bother tracking. I don't think most people care that much about me if it doesn't help them twart terrorism, or (to a much larger extent) make them money. Then again, maybe my tin foil^W^W electrostatic-bag hat isn't on tight enough
        • *Applauds common sense*

          Unique IDs, national ID cards, RFID tags... they don't suddenly let people track you. I've just turned 18, and currently carry so many things which I can be traced with / be profiled on it's obscene. Phone, debit card, ID, drivers licence, BCU member card, Connexions card, student card and more. I have tens if not hundreds of different ID numbers and all I want is one bloody card to carry around instead of the usual 20.

          Whilst privacy nuts may shout and scream about single ID, all it d
    • For real!!! Is there anybody out there who would be willing to get a sub-dermal RFID chip so that their TiVo could identify them? I mean, my key ring is full, but I bet I could fit one more thing on there.
      • There's a bar [worldnetdaily.com] in spain that (optionally) uses subdermal RFIDs to pay for food and drinks. When someone arrives they link their credit card data to a particular tag and get it injected into their body, then it's just scanned whenever they paid for anything. The idea was to prevent against loss/theft from drunk students on holiday, I guess.
        • I thought the point of this chip wasn't so much security, as there is no place to keep your money/credit cards in a skimpy thong. So they are trying to encourage skimpy thongs, which I would imagine would drum up more business.
      • Umm, yeah, I suppose anyone with a body piercing or tattoo would be likely to go for this.

        But I have a better idea. Those little fingerprint readers would be perfect for this. Y'know, like the ones used on the blackdog linux box or on the security mice. I mean you've got the remote in your hand, you're touching it with your fingertip, why not just read the finger that's holding the remote or pushing the button? No external hardware required.

        Screw 'em, I think I'll patent this.

  • lame (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:35AM (#14113475) Homepage Journal
    "The multimedia mobile personalization system would have a remote control that recognizes the viewer's RFID tag closest to the PVR."

    with a system that uses a remote, why would you assume the person closest is the one whose preferences you need?

    I find it humors(in a nervous laugh kind of way) that they assume we will all have rfid embedded in our cloths or person.

  • by LearnToSpell ( 694184 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:40AM (#14113503) Homepage
    with Bill Gates's "new" house. (hah. You thought that was going to be a dupe joke, didn't you?) Anyway, he had/has a little tag you wear, and the TVs change as you move, only the closest phone rings, etc. Same thing? I don't know how far his "preferences" extended.

  • This patent is good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alispguru ( 72689 ) <bane&gst,com> on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:42AM (#14113514) Journal
    Patenting the idea will discourage others from using it for this purpose. I like the idea of, say, having an RFID tag in your hospital bracelet, but this is just a way for advertisers to get their hooks even more deeply into us.
  • I'm sorry... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by barfy ( 256323 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:49AM (#14113549)
    Isn't this like patenting using paint to protect the outside of your house?

    Recognizing an identity and reacting to it, is a primary function and obvious function of RFID. You know like using lightbulbs to illuminate your closet.

    • I hold the patent on using lightbulbs to illuminate closets, thank you very much.
    • Isn't this like patenting using paint to protect the outside of your house?

      Not really. It's more like a patent on using paint to protect your fridge or something. The fact that RFID tags are used for identification, and the fact that TV remotes can benefit from individualized preferences do not together make the idea "obvious" for patent purposes. There must be a documented motivation to combine the technologies, or the practice of combining them must be known to a person of ordinary skill in the relev

      • Being non-obvious/inventive is not the same as being new. There are many things that could be done with RFID that nobody has done yet, but that does not mean they all count as "inventive".

        You claim that "There must be a documented motivation to combine the technologies, or the practice of combining them must be known to a person of ordinary skill in the relevant art." But the "person skilled in the art" clause in patent law, does not refer to an actual person who has done it before. It asks that if an im
        • Re:I'm sorry... (Score:3, Informative)

          by back_pages ( 600753 )
          You claim that "There must be a documented motivation to combine the technologies, or the practice of combining them must be known to a person of ordinary skill in the relevant art." But the "person skilled in the art" clause in patent law, does not refer to an actual person who has done it before. It asks that if an imaginary "person skilled in the art" was given the same task, would they have been able to come up with the idea?

          The original poster is 100% correct. No offense, but I have no clue where "

          • Thanks for the links.

            I was going from the top of 35 U.S.C. 103 Conditions for patentability; non-obvious subject matter. [uspto.gov]. Which I appear to have misinterpreted.

            A patent may not be obtained though the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in section 102 of this title, if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ord
            • I was going from the top of [35 USC 103]

              Of course that's the correct statute, but it's only a few paragraphs long. The case law and MPEP surrounding what 35 USC 103 actually means could be succinctly summarized in about 1000 pages. MPEP 2143-2144 is probably about 50 pages in print and barely scratches the surface of what is meant by "obvious".

              The world would be a much simpler place if every citizen could read the statutes and understand what they mean. Unfortunately, it's just not so. The definition

          • Just to explain, the bit that threw me was the "motivation" in "There must be a documented motivation to combine the technologies".

            Perhaps not the best source for law, but a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Person_having_ordinar y_skill_in_the_art#The_Federal_Circuit [wikipedia.org]">wikipedia article sugests that this is a fairly recent (last twenty years) development in Federal Circuit appeals, called the "suggestion test", which isn't really supported in section 103. Obviously it has now made its way into the officia
            • Perhaps not the best source for law, but a wikipedia article sugests that this is a fairly recent (last twenty years) development in Federal Circuit appeals, called the "suggestion test", which isn't really supported in section 103.

              That's true. The documented motivation requirement is, as I understand it, primarily a procedural requirement that safeguards the USPTO against the appearance of favoritism or bias. If CorpA submits a patent and the USPTO seemingly arbitrarily rules that anybody could have co

              • Many thanks, it seemed a little odd at first to me, but that makes sense. Also, I always been a little confused that so many patents seemed to be granted more on "creative inovation" than "technological inovation", so this clears my understanding up a little.
    • GE patents RFID reader in lightbulb to read the user that entered the room and adjust the lighting according to preference.
  • I've already got bar code ID's for the grocery store, among others. A simple bar code reader, should be able to ID a person, via what ever tag they scan and hashing it down, and store/restore the settings based on that.

    I don't need yet another dongle or id card to carry around. Devices that have an IR port for remote control it shouldn't be that hard to add the ability to scan a bar code.
  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:49AM (#14113556)
    So if a company starts using RFID tags in their clothing http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4873013/ [msn.com] then it's POSSIBLE that the tivo remote control reads those RFID tags to then provide feedback to the TiVo box which then uplinks to the main network that you are wearing Levi Jeans and a corresponding ad appears on your TV...

    Your remote control is now big brother...
    • Oh, they wouldn't care about what product you're using. All they want is sell ads to the highest bidder. I suppose they could pit Levi and Wrangler into a bidding war over who gets to put denim on your butt...
    • In that case I'll just keep a basket of Victoria's Secret stuff next to the TV.
    • It would make more sense for it to scan your RFID, link it to your customer loyalty cards, determine what you normally buy, and then attempt to predict (much like Amazon does) what you might like to buy in future. Knowing that you already wear Levis means that there probably isn't much point trying to sell you something you already have.
  • That adjust the seats based on the the person whose key is being used? So if you share the car it automatically goes to your setting.

    Or really this is just another technical version of "logging in" to a personalised service, just using RF-ID as the authentication device.

    Hardly novel, hardly new, its just the same technology as ever put together in a VERY slightly different way. RF-ID is already used to do automatic authentication and "personalisation" in many places today.

    Love that US Patent system. I'm
    • Yea, I agree, it's really not a big deal. I don't hate RFID, and I like being able to use it at places like work. I don't like the potential for abuse, and I think it's overkill to use it for a damned PVR, but hey, whatever.
  • Go to http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/11/22/15 55250 [slashdot.org], which talks about New Scientist's commentary about the same patent application.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:51AM (#14113573)
    Johnny's sitting closer to ther Tivo than meeeeee !!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2005 @12:02PM (#14113641)
    In Soviet Russia, TiVo records you!!!
  • Recap: (Score:2, Funny)

    by kryten_nl ( 863119 )
    I want an RFID tag (Score:5, Funny)
    by LilGuy (150110) on Tuesday November 22, @06:02PM (#14091831)
    Embed me please! I want never again to have to manually pay for anything, prove my identity, or set my TiVo to my preferences. Thanks.
    --

    Ordering food (Score:5, Funny)
    by nizo (81281) on Tuesday November 22, @06:28PM (#14092075)
    Actually if they can have one that broadcasts food preferences (I hate onions and pickles) we might be on to something here. I wonder if it is worth some of my privacy to not have t
  • by Mr. Cancelled ( 572486 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @12:05PM (#14113662)
    I agree with the 1st comment: This is ridiculous for Tivo, or any other home entertainment device! Way to sign away your privacy, just to save yourself from having to push a button.

    But it also brings up a good question... What if I have 3 or 4 people aprox. the same distance away from the box? For that matter, what if the person closest to the box isn't the person who should be deciding what to watch at that point in time?

    But really, this is just another example of why I built my own PVR instead of going the Tivo route: They just don't seem to get what "I" want in a PVR. At the top of that list is that I don't want Tivo controlling what I watch, and what I can record (and they do both). Under that top item though are lots of other reasons as ridicuous as this idea... they just seem so out of touch with what consumers want, and instead of finding out, and tailoring their offerings to what consumers want, they kiss ass to the media companies, allowing them to dictate what Tivo users can and can't do/have.
  • I've worked with RFID readers on projects before. For one that has a useful range, which is to say one that you don't have to rub the tag against physically, the reader will cost about 3x what a Tivo costs. Somehow I just can't see quadrupling the cost of the unit for this feature.

    • That is right- because the price of electronics has proven to be a constant throughout the past 20 years. Things never- ever- get easier to produce and cheaper with time.
      • It's not a chip that can be added for $10 in 5 years. By the time these things get cheap enough to be included in electronics as an afterthought, their patent will have expired.

        Plus, economies of scale do not bode well for that. Let's take GPSs as an example since they're a similar technology, construction wise, although there are probably 10,000 GPS devices sold for every at range RFID reader. How much do handheld GPSs still cost, despite massive market penetration? Weren't people predicting they'd be
  • Is it me, or do the last 2 main page stories look they they came out of the Slashdot Story Generator? [bbspot.com]
  • Ok. This begs having these two things said.

    1: You know this sort of thing was talked about in the bible right???!!!

    2: There was a song back about 1970 by Zegar and Evans;... "In the year 2525"... Ain't gonna need no arms, ain't gonna need no hands... :-)
  • The Real Reason (Score:3, Interesting)

    by slarrg ( 931336 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @02:50PM (#14114433)
    Of course, the real reason Tivo wants to have viewers identified by RFID is so they can sell the data to the television networks for advertising tracking. They already do this with the their data. Remember the Janet Jackson superbowl incident was said by Tivo to be the most rewinds of any event because they track everything their users watch/record/rewind. The obvious "holy grail" is to track it to an individual person, not just to the box.
  • It's as if the rustle of a million sheets of tin foil
    cried out as one and all it said was hat's.
  • ... must be doing cartwheels over this development. I worked for them almost 20 years ago. Back then they were trying to figure out how to do this. How to tell when a certain person was sitting in front of the TV (and what the TV was tuned to, which was the easier of the two). Kudos to Tivo.
  • Diagrams (Score:2, Informative)

    Patent diagrams of two TiVo scenarios, one for remote control and one for sharing shows in hotels, can be found here: http://www.zatznotfunny.com/2005-11/tivos-rfid-rem ote-control-patent/ [zatznotfunny.com]
  • or even a sub dermal tag inserted somewhere in the user's body
    Mark of the couch potato!
  • I'm coming over to your house, jumping between you and your TV, and making porn come on. Funn-ay. Even better when you mom's there.

      Still no cure for cancer...
  • Some have argued that this could provide useful data for advertising agencies - so they can move accurately target adds. True enough.

    Equally true, IMO, is that they could tell just how many of us leave the room (toilet/coffee/etc) during the ads. This ability could have all sorts of implications. Do they then refuse to pay so much to the carriers since most people don't view the ads, thereby raising the price of cable TV? Do they make ads even more annoying, by making them shorter, but more frequent (maybe
  • I have not seen the exact details of the patent and IANAL, but what they are doing here is not much more than what *is* supposed to be done with RDIF itself!!!! So how are they patentind it??? So now does it mean that no-one can use RFID in remote controls?? Next thing we know someone will come along and patent the usage of RFID tags for identifying objects... sheesh!

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