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Apple Patent Focuses on ‘Seamless Switching’

It appears to be a way to give listeners more power to avoid commercials or other content they don’t want to hear

Radio managers, particularly those in commercial radio, will be watching to see what Apple does with a new patent that is likely to grab industry attention. It appears to be a way to give listeners more power to avoid commercials or other content they don’t want to hear.

The big consumer electronics company received a U.S. patent for “seamless switching between radio and local media,” specifically allowing devices to switch to and from content stored locally in the memory of an electronic device. Listed as the inventors are Michael Ingrassia and Jeffery Lee.

How this might be applied, by Apple or others, is yet to be seen.

The summary, as published on the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, states that the technology would allow a consumer’s device to switch playback on its own:

“Systems and methods are provided for seamlessly switching media playback between a media broadcast, such as a radio broadcast, and media from a local media library,” it states.

“When an electronic device determines that an upcoming media item in a media broadcast is not of interest to a user, the electronic device can switch playback from the media stream to a media item from the electronic device local library. The selected local media item can be related to a previously broadcast media item to ensure continuity in the user’s listening or viewing experience. The electronic device can switch away from the local media item and return to the media stream when the media stream again broadcasts media items or segments of interest to the user.”

The user’s electronic device would identify content to be broadcast using “any suitable approach.” This could include metadata like RDS, broadcast listings or published schedules, as well as analysis of the audio or video.

The device would then determine which media items are of interest, perhaps based on a user preference profile, and act accordingly — for instance, applying a “relevance algorithm” to choose content of interest to the user.

“For example, the electronic device can apply the relevance algorithm to the last media item of interest of the media stream to select a locally stored media item. This may ensure that the user is provided with a substantially coherent media consumption experience.”

Expect to see the radio industry’s sales and technical minds poring over the Apple patent to see what the electronics company might have planned for it.


Apple Patent: Welcome Attention or Death Knell? (Editor Paul McLane comments)