Friday, June 22, 2007

What Fill Be, Fill Be

Gap filler.

According to a patent application (20070143799) that was published yesterday, that's what Sony is calling it's new method to address the black screen of torture when changing channels on portable mobile communications devices.

About two months ago I wrote about one way to eliminate the black screen of torture during channel changes, but that method really requires a lot of power. Definitely not suited for mobile devices where power consumption should be minimized.

Sony's phrase — gap filler — is very appropriate because it makes no attempt to even eliminate the video time lag after a channel change. It just wants to fill the gap with something else.

What is that something else? Sony suggests that the gap filler data could be a still image, a video clip or an animation clip stored on the portable mobile communications device or on removable storage medium. That leaves it pretty wide open for advertising or user-selected content or anything else you can think of as long as that content was downloaded before the channel change.

Imagine you are watching CNN Headline News on your cell phone and that you participate in a poll. After you submit your opinion, CNN responds on a regular basis — every two minutes or so — with poll results for everybody who participated. But these results are not shown. They're just downloaded to your phone while you continue to watch. Once you change the channel, your phone retrieves the results and lets you interact with them. While you're perusing the data, an icon shows in the upper right corner to let you know that your new channel is ready to view whenever you are done.

If Sony's idea is implemented in a consumer-friendly manner, you'll stay involved with media and not even realize that there is a huge time lag for changing channels. But I'm guessing we'll just see more ads and movie trailers.

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