Patents May Provide Insight into Google’s Rumored Home Entertainment System

With recent news of Google planning to release a home entertainment system, the question is whether Google will be able to deliver a functional device spanning multiple generations with unique features not found in today’s popular home entertainment systems.

Google’s acquisition of nearly 25,000 patents owned by Motorola gave it several patented technologies related to multimedia transmission and related hardware that could be used in the rumored home entertainment system.

For example, Motorola has about 430 US patents related to multimedia data transmission, which include technologies for data delivery across a distributed network and bandwidth management.  In addition, Motorola has over 800 US patents related to multimedia receiver and data processing hardware, technologies likely incorporated into Motorola’s set-top boxes, digital video recorders, and network equipment used to enable video broadcasting, computer telephony, and high-definition television.

For example, we noticed an interesting patent, US 5640196A, which is directed towards video and two-way telephone services provided via a cable distribution network. Patented technologies such as this may allow Google’s system to serve not only as an entertainment hub, but also as a personal communication tool, possibly allowing Google to incorporate features similar to Google Voice.

Ultimately, Motorola owns about another 3700 patents related to signal transmission in general that likely include underlying technologies for any distributed multimedia platform that Google’s home entertainment system would rely on.

In addition, Google itself has 66 US patents and 44 pending US patent applications related to ad delivery on televisions, set top boxes, and radios.   A few interesting patents relate to optimizing delivery of advertisements in a television network: US 8091101B2 entitled “Channel tune dwell time log processing”, and US 7743394B2 entitled “Log processing of channel tunes and channel tune times generated from a television processing device”.

Google also holds 35 US patents and 53 pending US patent applications related to multimedia transmission and playback.  In late December 2011, Google acquired about 200 patents from IBM, some of which cover VoIP, wireless network bandwidth management, and voice-activated search controls – all technologies that will be important to supplying a web-integrated entertainment experience.

Google will likely have a feature rich product that is highly interactive, and customizable, in line with its history of providing user friendly interfaces and personalized content services.  It is almost certain that such a system will have high integration with Android devices, giving users mobility and remote accessibility.

Google’s system could include many technologies allowing it to monetize entertainment content more effectively and profitably than any of its competitors, as Google has deep expertise and a host of patents for its ad platform technologies.

Given Google’s diverse patent portfolio surrounding this space, Google’s rumored home entertainment line may in the future consolidate streaming, on-demand music and video, personal communication, and monetization, all in a single, accessible device.  Such a device may give Google an edge over Apple and others with regards to market share and revenue in the streaming home entertainment market.

*Patent applications are made publicly available 18 months after they are filed at the USPTO. Thus, the above commentary does not take into account any patent application filings at the USPTO by Google or others within the last 18 months.

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