TiVo’s got another patent in the pipeline this month. This new patent application describes the use of Closed Captioning meta-data as a means of communicating with the TiVo unit. For example, if the tag embedded in a regular Coke commercial appears during broadcast TV and I’ve opted-in to TiVo’s ad search, my box can replace the ad with additional/different Coke content that’s been previously downloaded. This patent appears to also cover the currently existing Thumbs Up ads.
US Patent application says: A closed caption tagging system provides a mechanism for inserting tags into an audio or video television broadcast stream prior to or at the time of transmission. The tags contain command and control information that the receiver translates and acts upon. The receiver receives the broadcast stream and detects and processes the tags within the broadcast stream which is stored on a storage device that resides on the receiver. Program material from the broadcast stream is played back to the viewer from the storage device. Tags indicate the start and end points of a program segment. Program segments such as commercials are automatically replaced by the receiver with new program segments that are selected based on various criteria.