New patent brings possible solution to “lost in translation” dilemma

The new Interactive Television Program Guide patent will allow users to enjoy their favorite programs in their desired language.

by FRANCIS POON

Television viewers never have to worry about getting “lost” in bad subtitles and mistranslations ever again. Last week, the United States Patent and Trademark Office released a new patent for an interactive television program guide that will allow users to browse show listings and watch certain programs in their desired languages.

Using this program guide is simple. To begin, users simply need to connect their television and any VHS/DVD/Blu-Ray recorders to a cable box. These boxes are usually inexpensive and are usually provided by the cable company. As soon as the connection between the two items have been secured, a survey will appear on the television display. After users select their desired language, the box will automatically send a signal to a central server to convert all programming data— such as ratings help texts and descriptions— into this new dialect.

When a user selects to watch a show, the box will automatically replace the unwanted digital audio tracks. For example, if a viewer wishes to watch “Skins” in Canadian English, the box will automatically filter out the original British English track and play the Canadian English track. Subtitles will also be programmed to correspond with the desired language. In the event when the program does not have alternative language options, the original track will play. If desired, users may also freely switch between other language tracks, and may also record translated programs and program guide data to any digital storage devices.

This patent was invented by Michael Ellis (Boulder, CO), Benjamin Herrington (Tulsa, OK), Steven Williamson (Broken Arrow, OK), Kevin Easterbrook (Monument, CO), Joshua Rosenthol (East Norriton, PA) and David Rudnick (Denver, CO) because current television programming service providers do not allow users to designate a single language for both displaying program guide display texts and for playing audio. The group filed their patent in December 2008 and was finally approved last week.

Because the patent is still developing, “various modifications can be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention.” With the expanding geographic range of cable consumers, it is common for a television programming service provider to provide programming to viewers who may not speak the same language, or who prefer speaking in a different language. Having this interactive television program will alleviate some mistranslations and will allow viewers the opportunity to enjoy a wider selection of shows.

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