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Publication numberUS20020012898 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/761,102
Publication dateJan 31, 2002
Filing dateJan 16, 2001
Priority dateJan 13, 2000
Also published asEP1257776A2, WO2001051877A2, WO2001051877A3
Publication number09761102, 761102, US 2002/0012898 A1, US 2002/012898 A1, US 20020012898 A1, US 20020012898A1, US 2002012898 A1, US 2002012898A1, US-A1-20020012898, US-A1-2002012898, US2002/0012898A1, US2002/012898A1, US20020012898 A1, US20020012898A1, US2002012898 A1, US2002012898A1
InventorsMotti Shechter, Stephen Rosa, Tansel Kendir
Original AssigneeMotti Shechter, Rosa Stephen P., Tansel Kendir
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Firearm simulation and gaming system and method for operatively interconnecting a firearm peripheral to a computer system
US 20020012898 A1
Abstract
A firearm simulation system according to the present invention includes a laser transmitter assembly and a computer system coupled to a display for providing a virtual target. The laser assembly emits a beam of laser light from a firearm in the form of a cross-hair toward the virtual target. The display is surrounded by detector arrays each disposed along a corresponding display edge to sense the emitted cross-hair beam. The computer system receives signals from the detector arrays and indicates the location of a simulated projectile impact location on the display. Alternatively, reflective strips may be employed to reflect portions of the cross-hair beam, while a sensing device detects the beam reflections and transmits detection information to the computer system. The computer system may further include various gaming software and enable the simulated firearm to be operatively interconnected with the game to provide enhanced interaction.
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Claims(48)
What is claimed is:
1. A sensing device to detect an impact location of a laser beam on a target relative to an intended target site, wherein said laser beam is emitted by a laser transmitter assembly secured to a firearm and projecting the laser beam in a direction in which said firearm is aimed, said sensing device comprising:
a plurality of light processing elements disposed on said target outside the confines of said intended target site to receive portions of the laser beam projected toward said intended target site and to provide impact location information to a processor to facilitate determination of a laser beam impact location within said intended target site.
2. The sensing device of claim 1, wherein said plurality of light processing elements includes an array of detectors disposed on said target outside the confines of said intended target site.
3. The sensing device of claim 2, wherein each detector in said array is positioned to detect the laser beam portions in a direction transverse to the direction in which the laser beam is projected by said laser transmitter assembly.
4. The sensing device of claim 1, wherein said light processing elements include strips of reflective material disposed on said target outside the confines of said intended target site to reflect the received laser beam portions, and said sensing device further includes a detector to scan said strips and detect the reflected laser beam portions.
5. A firearm simulation system comprising:
a target having an intended target site;
a laser transmitter assembly securable to a firearm, wherein said laser transmitter assembly projects a laser beam in a direction in which said firearm is aimed;
a sensing device to receive portions of the laser beam projected toward said intended target site, wherein said sensing device includes light processing elements disposed on said target and outside the confines of said intended target site; and
a processor in communication with said sensing device to receive impact location information from said sensing device and to determine an impact location of the laser beam within said intended target site.
6. The firearm simulation system of claim 5, wherein said light processing elements include at least one array of detectors disposed on said target outside the confines of said intended target site.
7. The firearm simulation system of claim 6, wherein each detector in said array is positioned to detect the laser beam portions in a direction transverse to the direction in which the laser beam is projected by said laser transmitter assembly.
8. The firearm simulation system of claim 6, wherein each detector array includes a filter to enhance the signal to noise ratio of the laser beam.
9. The firearm simulation system of claim 5, wherein said light processing elements include strips of reflective material disposed on said target outside the confines of said intended target site to reflect the received laser beam portions, and said sensing device includes a detector to scan said strips and detect the reflected laser beam portions.
10. The firearm simulation system of claim 9, wherein said processor is disposed within one of said detector and a computer system in communication with said detector.
11. The firearm simulation system of claim 5, wherein said laser transmitter assembly includes a lens to disperse and project the laser beam as a cross-hair image with end portions of cross hair image components received by said sensing device at said light processing elements.
12. The firearm simulation system of claim 11, wherein said lens further disperses the laser beam to project a range line image on said intended target site offset from a cross-hair image component at the impact location, wherein said offset is proportional to a distance between said firearm and said target, and wherein said sensing device detects portions of the range line image at said light processing elements to provide range information relating to said distance to said processor.
13. The firearm simulation system of claim 5, wherein said target includes a display device in communication with said processor and having a display screen to display a virtual target as said intended target site, wherein said light processing elements are disposed on said display device outside the confines of said display screen and said processor displays an impact location of said beam on said display screen in accordance with the impact location information provided by said sensing device.
14. The firearm simulation system of claim 13, further comprising:
a plurality of display devices in communication with said processor, wherein said virtual target is displayed on a display screen of each said display device.
15. The firearm simulation system of claim 5, further comprising:
a display device in communication with said processor and having a display screen to display indicia representing said intended target site, wherein said processor displays an icon on the indicia in accordance with the impact location information provided by said sensing device.
16. The firearm simulation system of claim 5, wherein said target includes an electronic display having electronic ink and displaying a virtual target as said intended target site, and said processor controls the electronic ink of said electronic display to display a simulated impact on said intended target site in accordance with the impact location information provided by said sensing device.
17. The firearm simulation system of claim 5, wherein said laser transmitter assembly projects the laser beam in at least one of a pulse mode and a continuous mode, wherein the pulse mode projects the laser beam for a first selected time interval in response to actuation of said firearm, and the continuous mode continuously projects the laser beam and is interrupted for a second selected time interval in response to actuation of said firearm.
18. A method of detecting a laser beam projected onto a target relative to an intended target site from a laser transmitter assembly secured to a firearm, the method comprising the steps of:
(a) placing light processing elements of a sensing device on said target and outside the confines of said intended target site;
(b) projecting the laser beam from said laser transmitter assembly in a direction toward said intended target site to simulate a projectile being fired from said firearm;
(c) detecting portions of the laser beam impacting said intended target site via said sensing device; and
(d) transferring impact location information from said sensing device to a processor to determine an impact location of the laser beam within said intended target site.
19. The method of claim 18, wherein said light processing elements include at least one array of detectors, and step (c) further includes:
(c.1) detecting portions of the laser beam impacting said intended target site via said at least one array of detectors.
20. The method of claim 19, wherein step (c.1) further includes:
(c.1.1) detecting portions of the laser beam impacting said intended target site in a direction transverse to the direction in which the laser beam is projected.
21. The method of claim 18, wherein said light processing elements include strips of reflective material disposed on said target outside the confines of said intended target site to reflect the laser beam portions projected toward said intended target site, and wherein said sensing device includes a detector, and step (c) further includes:
(c.1) detecting the laser beam portions reflected by said strips via said detector.
22. The method of claim 18, wherein said laser transmitter assembly includes a lens to disperse the laser beam during projection from said laser transmitter assembly, and step (b) further includes:
(b.1) dispersing and projecting the laser beam as a cross-hair image;
step (c) further includes:
(c.1) detecting end portions of cross-hair image components via said sensing device; and
step (d) further includes:
(d.1) transferring said impact location information to said processor in accordance with the detection in step (c.1).
23. The method of claim 22 further comprising:
(e) determining an orientation of said firearm in accordance with a location of each detected cross-hair image component end portion.
24. The method of claim 22, wherein step (b.1) further includes:
(b.1.1) dispersing the laser beam and projecting a range line image on said intended target site offset from a cross-hair image component at the impact location, wherein said offset is proportional to a distance between said firearm and said target, and
said method further comprises:
(e) detecting portions of the range line image at said light processing elements with said sensing device; and
(f) transmitting range line location information to said processor to determine the distance between said firearm and said target.
25. The method of claim 18, wherein said intended target site includes a virtual target displayed on a display screen of a display device in communication with said processor, wherein said light processing elements are disposed on said display device outside the confines of said display screen, and said method further comprises:
(e) inserting an icon onto said intended target site in accordance with the impact location information provided to said processor from said sensing device.
26. The method of claim 18, wherein a display device displaying indicia representing said intended target site is in communication with said processor, and the method further comprises:
(e) inserting an icon within said indicia on said display device in accordance with the impact location information provided to said processor from said sensing device.
27. The method of claim 18, wherein said target includes an electronic display having electronic ink to display a virtual target as said intended target site, wherein said electronic display is in communication with said processor, and the method further comprises:
(e) displaying a simulated projectile impact within said virtual target on said electronic display in accordance with the impact location information provided from said sensing device.
28. The method of claim 18, wherein step (b) further includes:
(b.1) projecting the laser beam in one of a pulse mode and a continuous mode, wherein the pulse mode projects the laser beam for a first selected time interval in response to firearm actuation, and the continuous mode continuously projects the laser beam and is interrupted for a second time interval in response to firearm actuation.
29. The method of claim 18, further comprising
(e) in response to said determination of an impact location, detecting portions of the laser beam impacting the intended target site for a selected time period; and
(f) determining a barrel velocity of said firearm in accordance with the selected time period and a distance traversed by said detected impact locations within said selected time period.
30. A sensing device to detect an impact location of a laser beam on a target relative to an intended target site, said sensing device comprising:
light processing means disposed on said target outside the confines of said intended target site for receiving portions of the laser beam projected toward said intended target site and for providing impact location information to a processor to facilitate determination of a laser beam impact location within said intended target site; and
securing means for securing said light processing means to said target.
31. The sensing device of claim 30, wherein said light processing means includes detecting means for detecting the laser beam portions in a direction transverse to the direction in which the laser beam impacts said intended target site.
32. The sensing device of claim 30, wherein said light processing means includes reflecting means for reflecting the laser beam portions, and said sensing device includes detecting means for detecting the reflected laser beam portions.
33. A firearm simulation system comprising:
a target having an intended target site;
laser transmitting means secured to a firearm for projecting a laser beam in a direction in which said firearm is aimed;
sensing means for receiving portions of the laser beam projected toward said intended target site, wherein said sensing means includes light processing means disposed on said target outside the confines of said intended target site for manipulating said received laser beam portions;
processing means for processing impact location information received from said sensing means.
34. The firearm simulation system of claim 33, wherein said light processing means includes detecting means for detecting portions of the laser beam in a direction transverse to the direction in which the laser beam impacts said intended target site.
35. The firearm simulation system of claim 33, wherein said light processing means includes reflecting means for reflecting said received portions of the laser beam, and said sensing means includes detecting means for detecting the reflected laser beam portions.
36. The firearm simulation system of claim 33, wherein said laser transmitting means includes dispersing means for dispersing and projecting the laser beam as a cross-hair image with end portions of cross-hair image components detected by said sensing means at said light processing means.
37. The firearm simulation system of claim 36, wherein said dispersing means includes range means for dispersing the laser beam with a range line image on said intended target site offset from a cross-hair image component at the impact location, wherein said offset is proportional to a distance between said firearm and said target, and wherein said sensing means detects portions of the range line image at said light processing means to provide range information relating to said distance to said processing means.
38. The firearm simulation system of claim 33, further comprising:
displaying means for electronically displaying said intended target site as a virtual target, wherein said displaying means is in communication with said processing means and provides indicia over said virtual target corresponding to the laser beam impact location.
39. The firearm simulation system of claim 33, wherein said laser transmitting means includes pulse mode means for selectively projecting the laser beam for a first selected time interval in response to firearm actuation, and continuous mode means for selectively continuously projecting the laser beam and being interrupted for a second time interval in response to firearm actuation.
40. An interface device to operatively interconnect a firearm to a computer system, wherein said device detects an impact location of a laser beam on a computer system display device relative to an intended target site in the form of a computer generated virtual target, and said laser beam is emitted by a laser transmitter assembly secured to said firearm and projecting the laser beam in a direction in which said firearm is aimed, said interface device comprising:
a plurality of light processing elements disposed on said display device to receive portions of the laser beam projected toward said virtual target and to provide impact location information to said computer system to facilitate determination of a laser beam impact location within said virtual target.
41. The interface device of claim 40, wherein said plurality of light processing elements includes an array of detectors disposed on said display device.
42. The interface device of claim 40, wherein said light processing elements include strips of reflective material disposed on said display device to reflect the received laser beam portions, and said interface device further includes a detector to scan said strips and detect the reflected laser beam portions.
43. A method of interfacing a firearm to a computer system, wherein a laser transmitter assembly secured to said firearm projects a laser beam in a direction toward a computer system display device having an intended target site in the form of a computer generated virtual target, said method comprising the step of:
(a) operatively interconnecting said firearm to said computer system by receiving portions of the laser beam projected from said firearm toward said virtual target via a sensing device disposed on said display device and providing impact location information to said computer system to facilitate determination of a laser beam impact location within said virtual target.
44. The method of claim 43, wherein said sensing device includes an array of detectors disposed on said display device, and step (a) further includes:
(a.1) receiving portions of the laser beam projected from said firearm toward said virtual target via said array of detectors.
45. The method of claim 43, wherein said sensing device includes strips of reflective material disposed on said display device and a detector, and step (a) further includes:
(a.1) reflecting said received portions of the laser beam via said strips disposed on said display device and scanning said strips via said detector to detect the reflected laser beam portions.
46. An interface device to operatively interconnect a firearm to a computer system, wherein said device detects an impact location of a laser beam on a computer system display device relative to an intended target site in the form of a computer generated virtual target, and said laser beam is emitted by a laser transmitter assembly secured to said firearm and projecting the laser beam in a direction in which said firearm is aimed, said interface device comprising:
light processing means disposed on said display device for receiving portions of the laser beam projected toward said virtual target and for providing impact location information to said computer system to facilitate determination of a laser beam impact location within said virtual target; and
securing means for securing said light processing means to said display device.
47. The interface device of claim 46, wherein said light processing means includes an array of detectors disposed on said display device.
48. The interface device of claim 46, wherein said light processing means includes reflecting means disposed on said display device for reflecting the received laser beam portions and detecting means for scanning said reflecting means and detecting the reflected laser beam portions.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/175,829, entitled “Firearm Simulation and Gaming System and Method for Operatively Interconnecting a Firearm Peripheral to a Computer System” and filed Jan. 13, 2000. The disclosure of that provisional application is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Technical Field

[0003] The present invention pertains to firearm simulation and gaming systems. In particular, the present invention pertains to a firearm simulation system including a laser transmitter assembly attachable to an actual or simulated firearm for projecting a laser beam therefrom and a computer system coupled to a display providing a virtual target and visually indicating simulated projectile impact locations in response to the laser beam striking the display.

[0004] 2. Discussion of the Related Art

[0005] Firearms are utilized for a variety of purposes, such as hunting, sporting competition, law enforcement and military operations. The inherent danger associated with firearms necessitates training and practice in order to minimize the risk of injury. However, special facilities are required to facilitate practice of handling and shooting the firearm. These special facilities basically confine projectiles propelled from the firearm within a prescribed space, thereby preventing harm to the surrounding area. Accordingly, firearm trainees are required to travel to the special facilities in order to participate in a training session, while the training sessions themselves may become quite expensive since each session requires new live ammunition for practicing handling and shooting of the firearm.

[0006] The related art has attempted to overcome the above-mentioned problems by utilizing laser or other light energy with actual or mock firearms to simulate firearm operation for training purposes. In addition, simulation of firearm operation has been utilized for entertainment purposes, especially with respect to amusement or video type games. These games generally employ dummy or toy firearms, or may enable shooting by use of various computer or other input devices (e.g., mouse, roller device, keyboard, etc.). For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,164,081 (Berke) discloses a marksman training system including a translucent diffuser target screen adapted for producing a bright spot on the rear surface of the target screen in response to receiving a laser light beam from a laser rifle on the target screen front surface. A television camera scans the rear side of the target screen and provides a composite signal representing the position of the light spot on the target screen rear surface. The composite signal is decomposed into X and Y Cartesian component signals and a video signal by a conventional television signal processor. The X and Y signals are processed and converted to a pair of proportional analog voltage signals. A target recorder reads out the pair of analog voltage signals as a point, the location of which is comparable to the location on the target screen that was hit by the laser light beam.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 5,281,142 (Zaenglein, Jr.) discloses a shooting simulation training device including a target projector for projecting a target image in motion across a screen, a firearm or weapon having a light projector on its barrel for projecting a cross-hair light pattern on the screen, a rectangular array of sensors and a microprocessor. An internal device lens projects the cross-hair's image from the screen onto the rectangular array to activate two horizontal and vertical sensors. The sensor information is relayed to the microprocessor for determining the position of the shot and displaying the relative position of the shot and target on a TV receiver.

[0008] U.S. Pat. No. 5,366,229 (Suzuki) discloses a shooting game machine including a projector for projecting a video image having a target onto a screen. A player may fire a laser gun to emit a light beam to the target on the screen. A video camera photographs the screen and provides its picture signal to coordinate computing means for computing the X and Y coordinates of the beam point on the screen.

[0009] The above-described systems suffer from several disadvantages. In particular, the systems typically employ a projector to project an intended target on a screen. As such, the systems require additional components and circuitry to project the image and determine laser beam impact locations on the screen, thereby increasing system complexity and costs. Further, the systems are limited to targets projected by the projector, thereby severely restricting system application. Moreover, the Suzuki game machine employs a laser gun to project a beam toward a target, thereby degrading realism and generally being applicable for only entertainment purposes.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to facilitate firearm training with targets generated and displayed by a computer system.

[0011] It is another object of the present invention to employ an actual firearm with computer games or computer generated simulations to enhance realism.

[0012] Yet another object of the present invention is to facilitate use of an actual or mock firearm as an input device to a computer system for enhanced interactivity with game or simulation software.

[0013] Still another object of the present invention is to employ an actual firearm with computer games to provide firearm training with entertainment or gaming systems.

[0014] A further object of the present invention to detect laser beam impact locations on a computer monitor displaying computer generated targets for firearm training or gaming applications via a detection system that easily installs on the monitor and readily connects to the computer system to perform the training or gaming activities.

[0015] The aforesaid objects are achieved individually and/or in combination, and it is not intended that the present invention be construed as requiring two or more of the objects to be combined unless expressly required by the claims attached hereto.

[0016] According to the present invention, a firearm simulation system includes a laser transmitter assembly and a computer system coupled to a display for providing a virtual target. The laser assembly is preferably configured for attachment to a barrel of a user firearm and emits a beam of laser light in the form of a cross-hair toward the virtual target. The laser beam may be visible or invisible (e.g., infrared) and is preferably in the form of a continuous beam that is interrupted upon trigger actuation to indicate the moment of firing and compensate for firearm movement. Alternatively, the laser assembly may be configured to transmit the cross-hair beam in response to trigger actuation. The display is surrounded by detector arrays each disposed along a corresponding display edge to sense the emitted cross-hair beam. The computer system receives signals from the detector arrays in response to trigger actuation and indicates the location of a simulated projectile impact location on the display relative to the virtual target. Alternatively, reflective strips maybe employed to reflect portions of the cross-hair beam, while a sensing device detects the beam reflections and transmits detection information to the computer system to determine the simulated projectile impact location and indicate that location on the display relative to the virtual target. The computer system may further include various gaming software and enable the simulated firearm to be operatively interconnected with the game to provide enhanced interaction.

[0017] The above and still further objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description of specific embodiments thereof, particularly when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numerals in the various figures are utilized to designate like components.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0018]FIG. 1 is a view in perspective of a firearm simulation and gaming system directing a laser beam from an actual or simulated firearm onto a computer system display according to the present invention.

[0019]FIG. 2a is an exploded view in perspective and partial section of a laser transmitter assembly of the system of FIG. 1 fastened to the firearm barrel.

[0020]FIG. 2b is a view in perspective of a lens for the laser transmitter assembly of FIG. 2a.

[0021]FIG. 2c is a view in perspective of an alternative lens for the laser transmitter assembly of FIG. 2a.

[0022]FIG. 3 is a front view in elevation of the computer system display of FIG. 1.

[0023]FIG. 4 is a side view in partial section of a detector array of the system of FIG. 1.

[0024]FIG. 5 is a procedural flowchart illustrating the manner in which the computer system determines a simulated projectile impact location based on signals received from the detector arrays according to the present invention.

[0025]FIG. 6 is a view in perspective of an alternative embodiment of the system of FIG. 1 employing an additional monitor coupled to the computer system according to the present invention.

[0026]FIG. 7 is a front view in elevation of the computer system display of FIG. 1 illustrating projection of a cross-hair beam and one or more range beams from the firearm to determine a distance between the user firearm and display according to the present invention.

[0027]FIG. 8 is a view in perspective of the system of FIG. 1 employing an alternative display device according to the present invention.

[0028]FIG. 9 is a front view in elevation of the display device of the system of FIG. 8 indicating simulated projectile impact locations relative to a virtual target.

[0029]FIG. 10 is a front view in elevation of the display device of the system of FIG. 8 illustrating an alternative virtual target in the form of a bull's eye.

[0030]FIG. 11 is a view in perspective of an alternative firearm and simulation gaming system employing reflective strips and a sensing device to determine beam impact locations according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0031] A firearm simulation and gaming system according to the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 1. Specifically, the firearm simulation system includes a laser transmitter assembly 2 and a computer system 50 having a display or monitor 54 providing a virtual target as described below. The laser assembly is attached to a simulated or actual unloaded user firearm 6 to adapt the firearm for compatibility with the simulation system. By way of example only, firearm 6 is implemented by a conventional hand-gun and includes a trigger 7, a barrel 8, a hammer 9 and a grip 15. However, the firearm may be implemented by any conventional (e.g., hand-gun, blazer, rifle, shotgun, soft-air type gun, etc.) or simulated firearms. Laser assembly 2 includes a laser transmitter rod 3 and a laser transmitter module 4 that emits a beam 11 of visible or invisible (e.g., infrared) laser light in the form of a cross-hair 12 (e.g., ‘+’ configuration). Rod 3 is connected to module 4 and is configured for insertion within barrel 8 to fasten the laser assembly to the barrel as described below. A user aims firearm 6 at a virtual target on monitor 54 to project laser beam 11 from laser module 4 toward display screen 68. The monitor housing includes a plurality of detector arrays 60, 62, 64, 66 each disposed adjacent a corresponding display screen edge to detect cross-hair 12 and enable computer system 50 to display a simulated projectile impact location as described below. It is to be understood that the terms “top”, “bottom”, “side”, “front”, “rear”, “back”, “lower”, “upper”, “up”, “down”, “height”, “width”, “thickness”, “length”, “vertical”, “horizontal” and the like are used herein merely to describe points of reference and do not limit the present invention to any specific orientation or configuration.

[0032] Computer system 50 is typically implemented by a conventional IBM-compatible or other type of personal computer (e.g., laptop, notebook, desk top, mini-tower, Apple MacIntosh, palm pilot, etc.) preferably equipped with monitor 54, a base 52 (e.g., including the processor, memories, and internal or external communication devices or modems), a keyboard 56 and a mouse 58. The mouse is preferably implemented by a conventional desktop mouse for simulation applications, while gaming applications typically employ a foot-controlled mouse to enable a user to provide input to a gaming application and manipulate firearm 6. Computer system 50 includes software to enable the computer system to provide virtual targets for simulation or gaming applications as described below. The computer system may utilize any of the major platforms such as Windows, Linux, Macintosh, Unix or OS2. Further, the system includes components (e.g. processor, disk storage or hard drive, etc.) having sufficient processing and storage capabilities to effectively execute the simulation or gaming software.

[0033] An exemplary laser transmitter assembly employed by the simulation system is illustrated in FIG. 2a. Specifically, laser assembly 2 includes laser transmitter rod 3 and laser transmitter module 4. Rod 3 includes a generally cylindrical barrel member 17 and a stop 19 disposed at the barrel member distal end. The barrel member is elongated with a tapered proximal end and has transverse cross-sectional dimensions that are slightly less than the cross-sectional dimensions of barrel 8 to enable the barrel member to be inserted within the barrel. However, the barrel member may be of any shape or size to accommodate firearms of various calibers. Adjustable rings 22, 24 are disposed about the barrel member toward its proximal and distal ends, respectively. The dimensions of each ring are adjustable to enable barrel member 17 to snugly fit within and frictionally engage barrel 8 in a secure manner. Stop 19 is in the form of a substantially circular disk having a diameter slightly greater than the cross-sectional dimensions of barrel 8 to permit insertion of rod sections proximal of the stop into the barrel. The stop may alternatively be of any shape or size capable of limiting insertion of the rod into the barrel. Barrel member 17 is connected to the approximate center of a proximal surface of stop 19, while a post 21 is attached to and extends distally for a slight distance from an approximate center of a stop distal surface. Post 21 is substantially cylindrical and has transverse cross-sectional dimensions similar to those of barrel member 17, but may be of any shape or size. The post includes external threads 23 for facilitating engagement with laser module 4 as described below.

[0034] Laser module 4 includes a housing 25 having an internally threaded opening 10 defined in a generally cylindrical projection 28 attached to and extending from an upper portion of a housing rear wall. The threaded opening receives post 21 for attaching the laser module to rod 3. The housing, opening and projection maybe of any shape or size, while the opening and projection may be disposed at any suitable location. The laser module components are disposed within the housing and include a power source 27, typically in the form of batteries, a mechanical wave sensor 29 and an optics package 31 having a laser (not shown) and a lens 33. These components maybe arranged within the housing in any suitable fashion.

[0035] The optics package emits laser beam 11 (FIG. 1) through lens 33 to disperse the beam at a suitable span (e.g., thirty degrees, sixty degrees, etc.) and project the beam in the form of cross-hair 12. An exemplary lens 33 is illustrated in FIG. 2b. Specifically, lens 33 is implemented by a pressed or flat lens and includes a generally circular frame 16 and a plurality of microlenses 26. The frame is basically in the form of a cap for attachment to laser module 4 or other laser transmitters. The microlenses each essentially function as an independent lens and are configured to collectively manipulate the laser beam to form a particular image. In other words, the microlenses serve as an optical mask to project laser beam 11 in the form of cross-hair 12. The size of microlenses 26 determines the span angle for lens 33.

[0036] Alternatively, lens 33 may be implemented by half or semi-cylindrical lenses as illustrated in FIG. 2c. Specifically, lens 33 includes frame 16 as described above and half or semi-cylindrical lenses 18, 20. The half-cylindrical lenses are arranged within the frame in orthogonal relation with lens 18 extending along a horizontal frame diameter and lens 20 extending along a vertical frame diameter. Each half-cylindrical lens 18, 20 reflects the beam as a line formed of a plurality of spaced dots extending along the longitudinal axis of that half-cylindrical lens. Thus, horizontal lens 18 projects a horizontal beam of spaced dots, while lens 20 projects a vertical beam of spaced dots. Laser beam 11 is directed through the approximate center or intersection of the half-cylindrical lenses to project orthogonal lines from the laser module forming cross-hair 12. It is to be understood that the cross-hair may be formed by any conventional or other techniques. For example, the cross-hair may be formed by dispersing the beam and projecting it through a mask configured to form the cross-hair.

[0037] Lens 33 is preferably constructed in the form of an interchangeable cap for attachment to the laser module. Each lens or cap may include a different configuration to project a cross-hair having varying characteristics. For example, a series of lenses 33 may each be configured to project the beam at a different span angle to accommodate use of the system at various ranges. Thus, lenses having greater span angles may be utilized for close range shooting, while lenses having lesser span angles may be utilized for shooting at greater ranges. The lenses may be interchanged as desired to accommodate the particular shooting conditions.

[0038] Referring back to FIG. 2a, laser module 4 may operate in either of two modes. A first or continuous mode projects the cross-hair toward display 54 (FIG. 1) or other intended target as a continuous beam that is interrupted in response to detection of trigger actuation by mechanical wave sensor 29. Specifically, when trigger 7 is actuated, hammer 9 impacts the firearm and generates a mechanical wave which travels distally along barrel 8 toward rod 3. As used herein, the term “mechanical wave” or “shock wave” refers to an impulse traveling through the firearm barrel. Mechanical wave sensor 29 within the laser module senses the mechanical wave from the hammer impact and generates a trigger signal. The mechanical wave sensor may include a piezoelectric element, an accelerometer or a solid state sensor, such as a strain gauge. Optics package 31 within the laser module generates and projects laser beam 11 from firearm 6 in the form of cross-hair 12 in response to activation of the assembly power switch (not shown). The optics package laser is generally enabled continuously, and interrupted for a predetermined time interval, approximately fifty milliseconds, in response to the trigger signal. This enables the detector arrays to track motion of the firearm and determine the location of the barrel despite any sudden jerks by the user during actuation, such as hand movement or recoil. The interruption interval serves as a delay to enable the detector arrays to locate the position of the barrel at the moment of firing (e.g. and not along any beam streaks or lines produced from recoil or other firearm movement). Alternatively, the laser module may include an acoustic sensor to sense actuation of the trigger and enable interruption of the laser beam.

[0039] The second or pulsed mode of laser module operation projects the cross-hair toward display 54 (FIG. 1) or other intended target as a laser pulse in response to detection of trigger actuation by mechanical wave sensor 29. Specifically, the mechanical wave sensor senses trigger actuation and generates a trigger signal as described above. Optics package 31 within the laser module generates and projects laser beam 11 from firearm 6 in the form of cross-hair 12 in response to the trigger signal. The optics package laser is generally enabled for a predetermined time interval, preferably in the range of 500-1,000 microseconds, to transmit the beam in the form of a pulse. The laser module when operating in the pulsed mode is similar in function to the laser device disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/486,342, entitled “Network-Linked Laser Target Firearm Training System” and filed Feb. 25, 2000, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. The laser assembly may be constructed of any suitable materials and may be fastened to firearm 6 at any suitable locations by any conventional or other fastening techniques.

[0040] Exemplary detector arrays for sensing the cross-hair emitted from firearm 6 are illustrated in FIGS. 3-4. Specifically, detector arrays 60, 62, 64, 66 are each approximately one-quarter inch deep and are disposed on the display housing adjacent a corresponding edge (e.g., top, bottom and side edges) of display screen 68. The positions of the detector arrays generally provide an unobstructed view of the screen and enable correlation between a detected beam position and a location on the screen in response to detecting cross-hair 12. The detector array positions further cover any angular position of firearm 6 and enable detection of three degrees of movement. Each detector array includes a substantially rectangular casing housing a plurality of photodetectors 70 (e.g., typically 100, 256 or 512 photodetectors) that are configured to detect cross-hair 12.

[0041] The photodetectors are placed adjacent each other within each casing and are spaced apart by a distance less than the width of the horizontal and vertical beams forming cross-hair 12. This enables at least one photodetector within each detector array to detect the emitted cross-hair. Each array casing includes a substantially transparent covering 72 to protect photodetectors 70. The array casings may additionally include a filter to improve the signal to noise ratio of the incoming laser beam for enhanced detection accuracy. The detector arrays are typically prealigned with the screen, thereby enabling system operation without calibration. The photodetectors may be implemented by any conventional detectors capable of detecting the laser beam.

[0042] The cross-hair is projected by the lens typically at a dispersion angle of approximately thirty degrees to enable the cross-hair to impact the arrays. However, the dispersion angle may be any desired angle capable of enabling detection by the detector arrays, and is generally selected based upon the distance from and size of the display. Firearm 6 is aimed and operated to project cross-hair 12 at a virtual target on display screen 68. The dispersion of the projected beam is sufficient to enable each end of the cross-hair vertical and horizontal lines to impact a detector array 60, 62, 64, 66. The arrays are generally connected to a serial port of the computer system with each array providing a signal indicating the particular photodetector(s) sensing cross-hair 12. The computer system correlates the impacted photodetector positions with the display screen to determine a simulated impact location on the screen as described below.

[0043] The detector arrays may be configured for use with visible or invisible energy. When visible laser light is projected from firearm 6, a user has the additional benefit of utilizing the visible cross-hair for aiming the firearm during the continuous mode of operation, while the photodetectors and system function as described above. In the event invisible energy (e.g., infrared or microwave) is emitted from the firearm, the user relies only on the firearm sighting, while the detectors sense the emitted energy as described above to enable the computer system to determine a simulated projectile impact location.

[0044] The computer system may include various gaming or simulation software to provide virtual targets for a user, while the arrays detect the laser beam and enable determination of an impact location. The arrays are preferably connected to the computer system serial port to provide detection information. Further, the computer system may include any pre-existing or commercially available gaming software, while the detectors operatively interconnect the firearm to that game. The firearm thus takes the form of a computer peripheral and replaces the functions of a mouse, typically utilized in games to strike a target. Since a user is distanced from the computer system and is holding the firearm, foot mouse 58 (FIG. 1) is employed during gaming applications to enable the user to navigate through game software.

[0045] The detector arrays may further provide additional features for the computer system software, such as displaying moving or stationary targets or displaying a tracking pattern for moving targets. These features may be utilized for new games or with existing games having mouse type inputs. Moreover, the detector arrays may enable sensing of a third degree of motion (e.g., depth) to provide enhanced realism of the gaming or simulated virtual targets. A software module may be loaded into the computer system to enable this additional degree of motion to be incorporated into the game or simulation. In addition, the virtual targets may be scaled to provide actual shooting conditions when the user is positioned a scaled distance from the target.

[0046] The detector arrays essentially operatively interconnect the firearm with the computer system for simulation or gaming operations. The computer system processes signals to determine simulated projectile impact locations as illustrated, by way of example only, in FIG. 5. Specifically, the detector arrays sense cross-hair 12 and provide signals in response to trigger actuation to computer system 50 (FIG. 1). During the continuous mode of operation, the array signals indicate the last photodetectors sensing the beam prior to the beam interruption, while in the pulsed mode of operation the array signals indicate the photodetectors sensing the beam emitted in response to trigger actuation. Each array signal, by way of example only, may be in the form of a data word having a plurality of bits each associated with and set when a corresponding photodetector senses the beam. Computer system 50 retrieves an array signal at step 80 and determines the impacted photodetectors within the array at step 82. If more than one photodetector had been impacted within the array as determined at step 84, the beam impact position between photodetectors is determined at step 86 utilizing a particular technique. For example, the beam position may be determined to be the midpoint between the photodetectors sensing the beam. When a single array photodetector senses the beam, the computer system determines the photodetector location within the array at step 88, thereby providing a beam position. The computer system subsequently processes the signal from each detector in substantially the same manner described above.

[0047] When each detector array signal has been processed as determined at step 90, the computer system utilizes beam positions within each array to determine a center or intersection point (e.g., the point where the cross-hair components intersect) of the cross-hair and correlates that position with the screen, thereby providing a simulated projectile impact location at step 92. The location is then passed to the simulation or gaming software for processing and display at step 93. The process is repeated until the system is shut down as determined at step 94. The above-described procedure is typically implemented by a software module that may be included within newly developed applications or be used as an interface to existing gaming applications, thereby replacing the mouse interface software for those applications.

[0048] The system further allows a user to shoot at varying side angles relative to the display screen while providing accurate projectile impact information. The computer system basically processes the detection information received from the detectors to adjust the impact location for the particular side angle of a shot. The computer system and detector arrays may further enable measurement of various firearm characteristics during trigger actuation. For example, the system may determine the angle or cant of the firearm at the moment of firing. Specifically, computer system 50 (FIG. 1) retrieves the detector array signals and determines the particular photodetectors sensing the beam in response to trigger actuation as described above. When the firearm is positioned without any cant or angular deviation (e.g., as shown in FIG. 1), similarly positioned photodetectors within respective arrays 60,64 and 62,66 sense cross-hair 12. However, a firearm positioned at an angle enables differently situated photodetectors within respective arrays 60, 64 and 62, 66 to sense the beam. Accordingly, the cant of the firearm is proportional to the deviation between the positions of photodetectors in respective arrays 60, 64 and 62, 66 sensing cross-hair 12. The computer system determines those deviations based on the detector array signals and calculates the cant or angular deviation of the firearm for display to the user.

[0049] In addition, the system may measure the velocity of the barrel during recoil to provide an indication of user control of the firearm This feature is preferably utilized during the continuous mode of laser operation. In particular, computer system 50 (FIG. 1) retrieves the detector array signals and determines the particular photodetectors sensing the beam in response to trigger actuation as described above. The computer system determines the initial position of the barrel based on the detector array signals, and subsequently samples or retrieves signals from the detector arrays at predetermined sampling intervals (e.g., one-hundred microseconds). Generally, the recoil of the firearm forces the barrel upward, thereby enabling successive upwardly adjacent photodetectors within arrays 60, 64 to sense the beam. The computer system samples the detector arrays until cessation of the upward motion of the barrel is determined. This is usually identified by the sampled signals indicating that the topmost photodetectors within arrays 60, 64 sense the beam (e.g., indicating that the recoil forced the beam beyond the display), or that barrel motion has ceased or commenced downward (e.g., user resistance ceases barrel upward motion with the same or successive downwardly adjacent photodetectors sensing the beam). Thus, the uppermost photodetectors within arrays 60, 64 sensing the beam indicate the distance traveled by the barrel during recoil or trigger actuation.

[0050] When cessation of upward barrel motion is detected, the computer system determines the deviation between the positions of photodetectors sensing the initial beam at firing and those sensing the beam at cessation or the topmost point of the upward barrel motion. This provides the distance the barrel traveled, while the specific sampling interval corresponding to detecting cessation of barrel upward motion indicates the amount of time elapsed for the barrel to travel the distance. In other words, since the detector arrays are sampled at predetermined intervals, the elapsed time is equal to the quantity of times the detector arrays are sampled to detect ceased upward barrel motion multiplied by the duration of the predetermined interval. The velocity is subsequently determined based on the elapsed time and distance traveled, and is displayed for the user. Generally, the lesser the barrel velocity, the greater the control exhibited over the firearm by the user.

[0051] Computer system 50 may be connected to a Local (LAN) or Wide Area Network (WAN), such as the Internet, for various applications. For example, software providing various gaming and other virtual targets may be downloaded from a site on the network to the computer system to enable simulation of a variety of firearm activities. Further, a plurality of computer systems 50 may communicate with each other over the network to facilitate training or competition with other users located at different remote locations. Moreover, the network may enable experts to remotely view the impact location results and provide feedback on-line to a user. In addition, computer system 50 may include a camera, while the network enables an expert to remotely view a user operating the firearm on-line and provide feedback to the user to enhance the user skill level.

[0052] The system may further include an additional display or monitor as illustrated in FIG. 6. Initially, computer system 50 and detector arrays 60, 62, 64, 66 are substantially similar to and function in substantially the same manner as the computer system and detector arrays described above, except that the detector arrays are mounted on an additional monitor 55. Specifically, monitor 55 is connected to a video port of computer system 50 via a video cable 51, while detector arrays 60, 62, 64, 66 are disposed on monitor 55 adjacent the edges of the monitor display screen and are connected to a port (e.g., serial, parallel, USB, etc.) of that computer system via a cable 53. The virtual target is displayed on monitors 54 and 55, where a user aims firearm 6 toward monitor 55 and projects a cross-hair beam toward the target displayed on that monitor. The detector arrays detect the beam impact and provide detection information to the computer system to determine the beam impact location as described above. The beam impact location may be displayed on monitors 54, 55 during system operation. The additional monitor enables the system to utilize different types of monitors or monitors having greater dimensions than those employed by the computer system. Moreover, the additional monitor enables an instructor to control training via computer system 50, while a trainee performs a firearm activity commanded by the instructor on additional monitor 55. Thus, an instructor may control the activity and view the performance of the trainee during the activity at computer system 50. In addition, any quantity of additional monitors and corresponding detector arrays may be employed, where computer system 50 effectively serves as a host to display targets and process detector information from each monitor to accommodate plural users for a firearm activity.

[0053] The gaming system may further serve as a complete sport enabling users to train as well as compete. In particular, computer system 50 (FIG. 1) may connect to other systems and/or a host site on a web or network server. Several participants may engage in a competition from a remote location, thereby eliminating the travel and arrangements normally associated with such an event. Each participant utilizes a computer system that communicates with a host site to transfer information relating to that participant's performance and the performance of others.

[0054] In order to ensure that a user is an appropriate distance from screen 68, especially during a competition, the simulation and gaming system may determine a user range as illustrated in FIG. 7. Specifically, detector arrays 60, 62, 64, 66 are disposed about screen 68 of monitor 54 as described above to detect beam 11 emitted from firearm 6. The laser module lens is modified to produce cross-hair 12 and an additional horizontal range line 5. Cross-hair 12 indicates a simulated projectile impact location as described above, while range line 5 is utilized to determine user distance. The detector arrays sense cross-hair 12 and range line 5 and provide detector array signals to computer system 50 as described above. Cross-hair 12 and range line 5 are emitted from firearm 6 through lens 33. The lens has an angle of dispersion enabling the cross-hair and range line to deviate from each other on screen 68 in proportion to the distance between the firearm and display. The lens is configured to project range line 5 in a manner enabling the range line to deviate from the cross-hair in a certain direction (e.g., the range line may be projected above or below the cross-hair horizontal component). Computer system 50 processes the detector array signals to determine the range line and cross-hair impact locations and the distance or deviation between the cross-hair horizontal component and range line. The cross-hair and range line are discernable to the computer system based on the predetermined deviation direction of the range line relative to the cross-hair. For example, when the lens is configured to project the range line above the horizontal cross-hair component (e.g., as shown in FIG. 7), the photodetectors sensing the range line within arrays 60, 64 are positioned closer to the screen upper edge than the photodetectors sensing the horizontal cross-hair component.

[0055] Computer system 50 determines user range based on the measured deviation and the lens dispersion angle, and further determines the simulated projectile impact location as described above based on detection of cross-hair 12 (e.g., cross-hair 12 indicates the simulated projectile impact location). If the user is not separated from screen 68 for at least the prescribed distance for a scaled target or a competition event, the computer system may inform the user via visual or audio indications. Thus, this technique enables users at different locations to participate in a joint competition or match under the same conditions, while providing individual or competing users with an indication of using scaled targets at the proper distances.

[0056] Alternatively, the lens may be configured to project additional range lines for determining the user distance. By way of example, the lens may project cross-hair 12 and horizontal range lines 5, 14 that deviate from the cross-hair horizontal component in a certain direction as described above. Range line 5 is projected closer to the cross-hair horizontal component and is primarily utilized for greater user distances. Range line 14 is projected further from the cross-hair horizontal component and is preferably utilized for close distances. Dual range lines are employed to ensure that at least one range line is detected at varying user distances (e.g., the range line deviations increase with greater user distances such that range line 14 may not impact screen 68). The computer system determines the impact locations of the range lines and cross-hair based on the detector array signals and deviation directions of the range lines, and calculates the deviations and user distance as described above. Any quantity of range lines maybe projected at any desired orientations (e.g., vertical, horizontal, etc.) and directions to determine the user range. Further, additional cross-hairs may be projected by the lens to serve as range lines in the manner described above. Alternatively, range may be determined by employing ultrasound techniques as disclosed in above referenced U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/486,342.

[0057] The firearm simulation and gaming system of FIG. 1 may employ an alternative display as illustrated in FIGS. 8-10. Specifically, computer system 50 is connected to a substrate 96 (e.g., paper, plastic, cardboard, etc.) via a communication line (e.g., RS232, etc.) or other communications device (e.g., utilizing infrared, RF, etc.). The substrate has a thickness of approximately one eighth inch and contains electronic ink to display a target and simulated projectile impact locations. Briefly, electronic ink is a colored liquid including numerous spheres, commonly referred to as “microcapsules”. Each microcapsule includes a clear shell having a colored dye and white chips. The microcapsule is disposed between two conductive layers (e.g., electrodes) to control movement of the microcapsules. Thus, each microcapsule may be controlled to display white or the dye based on the charges applied by the electrodes, thereby enabling the substrate to basically function as a monochrome type display.

[0058] Computer system 50 controls substrate 96 to display a virtual target, such as target 98. The substrate may be suspended from a structure 97, such as a wall. Detector arrays 60, 62, 64, 66 are disposed adjacent a corresponding substrate edge to detect cross-hair 12 and provide information enabling computer system 50 to determine a simulated projectile impact location as described above. In response to determining an impact location, computer system 50 controls substrate 96 to display impact locations 99 (FIG. 9) on the substrate. Further, the target and impact locations may simultaneously be displayed on screen 68. The computer system may control the substrate to display various stationary targets, such as bull's eye 91 and overlying cross-hair 95 as illustrated in FIG. 10. In addition, the system may determine user distance, firearm cant and barrel recoil velocity as described above.

[0059] Operation of the firearm simulation and gaming system is described with reference to FIGS. 1 and 8. Initially, laser transmitter rod 3 is connected to laser module 4 and inserted into barrel 8 of firearm 6 as described above. The laser module may operate in either a continuous or pulsed mode. The continuous mode generates a continuous laser beam that is interrupted in response to depression of firearm trigger 7. The duration of the interruption is sufficient to enable the photodetectors to determine the position of the barrel at the moment of trigger actuation, despite sudden movements of the firearm. The pulsed mode of operation generates a laser pulse in response to trigger actuation. The duration of the pulse is in the approximate range of 500-1,000 microseconds. A user operates computer system 50 to execute the appropriate software and display a virtual target on screen 68. The software may include new or current software providing stationary or moving targets as described above. Alternatively, computer system 50 may display a stationary virtual target on substrate 96 disposed on a support structure 97 as described above. Detector arrays 60, 62, 64, 66 are disposed about the edges of screen 68 or substrate 96 to determine a simulated projectile impact location as described above.

[0060] The user is positioned at an appropriate distance from screen 68 or substrate 96 and operates the firearm to direct laser beam 11 in the form of cross-hair 12 from the firearm toward a virtual target. The detector arrays sense the cross-hair beam and provide information to the computer system in response to trigger actuation to enable determination of the simulated projectile impact location as described above. The location may be displayed on screen 68 and/or substrate 96. Further, the location may be passed to gaming software for processing when the computer system is executing gaming applications. Moreover, computer system 50 may be connected to a network, such as the Internet, for facilitating matches between participants located at different remote locations. In addition, the system may determine a user distance, firearm cant and/or recoil barrel velocity as described above and provide this information to the user.

[0061] An alternative embodiment of the firearm simulation and gaming system employing reflective strips and a sensing device to detect laser beam impact locations according to the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 11. Initially, computer system 50 is substantially similar to and has substantially the same components (e.g., base, keyboard, monitor and desktop or foot controlled mouse, etc.) as the computer system described above for FIG. 1. Further, firearm 6 and laser transmitter assembly 2 are substantially similar to and function in substantially the same manner as the firearm and laser transmitter assembly described above, where the laser transmitter assembly is preferably utilized in the pulsed mode and projects a laser beam in the form of cross-hair 12 in response to firearm actuation. Reflective strips 110, 112, 114, 116 are disposed on monitor 54 adjacent a corresponding edge (e.g., top, bottom and side edges) of display screen 68 in substantially the same manner as the detector arrays described above. Each strip typically extends at least the length of the corresponding display screen edge and has a width sufficient to allow the strip to be disposed within the space defined between the display screen and corresponding monitor edge. The projection of the cross-hair beam from the laser transmitter assembly is sufficient to enable a portion of the cross-hair vertical and horizontal components to impact a reflective strip 110, 112, 114, 116. The strips may be constructed of any suitable reflective material that sufficiently reflects the laser beam to enable detection of the reflected portions by the sensing device.

[0062] Sensing device 100 is preferably connected to a Universal Serial Bus (USB) port of computer system 50 via a cable 102. The sensing device is typically implemented by a sensory image type camera employing charge-coupled devices (CCD) or CMOS, such as an Intel Easy PC camera. However, the sensing device may be implemented by any type of light or image sensing device and may be connected to computer system 50 via any type of port (e.g., serial, parallel, USB, etc.). Sensing device 100 is typically situated a sufficient distance from monitor 54 to allow the device to capture an image of the monitor including display screen 68 and reflective strips 110, 112, 114, 116. A stand for the sensing device is typically provided to support the device proximate monitor 54 and at an appropriate angle to facilitate the capture of images including the display screen and reflective strips. The sensing device typically has a speed or rate of thirty frames per second and repeatedly captures an image of the display screen and reflective strips and provides image information to the computer system at that rate. In other words, an image containing the display screen and the reflective strips is captured by the sensing device and provided to the computer system within a frame approximately thirty times per second. Alternatively, the sensing device may detect the location of beam impact on the reflective strips and include a signal processor and associated circuitry to provide impact location information to computer system 50 for processing. This information may be in the form of X and Y coordinates for each impact location on the reflective strips, or the X and Y coordinates of a beam impact location on the virtual target (e.g., center or intersection point of the cross-hair) as determined by the signal processor from the impact locations on the reflective strips.

[0063] The image characteristics of the sensing device enable the device to capture images of the display screen and reflective strips and any changes thereto (e.g., reflections of cross-hair beam impacts) occurring between successive frame transmissions. Thus, the sensing device facilitates detection of beam impact from laser transmitters having a pulse duration less than the frame rate (e.g., pulse durations as low as approximately one millisecond). The computer system may measure the pulse duration of a laser transmitter based on the quantity of succeeding frames containing a laser pulse. The system and laser transmitter assembly are typically configured for laser pulses having a duration of approximately six milliseconds, where the system provides messages to a user when lasers having other pulse durations are utilized. The sensing device performs an internal initialization sequence where the frame rate is initially low and increases to the operational rate (e.g., approximately thirty frames per second). Computer system 50 measures the sensing device frame rate (e.g., determines the quantity of frames received per second) and delays system operation until the sensing device attains the operational rate. Calibrations are further performed by the system to align the sensing device with the display screen and reflective strips, to define the display screen within the captured images and to adjust for ambient light conditions as described below.

[0064] Computer system 50 includes software to control system operation and provide a virtual target on display screen 68 for training or gaming applications as described above. The computer system monitors beam impact locations on the reflective strips to determine the beam impact location relative to the virtual target. Initially, the computer system performs a mechanical calibration and a system calibration. The mechanical calibration generally facilitates alignment of the sensing device with the display screen, reflective strips and computer system, while the system calibration enables determination of parameters for system operation. In particular, the computer system preferably displays a mechanical calibration graphical user screen including alignment indicia (e.g., a cross-hair) and a window displaying the captured images to initiate the mechanical calibration. The computer system basically updates the captured image displayed in the window with successive captured images as they are received from the sensing device. The mechanical calibration screen further displays position indicia (e.g., horizontal and vertical lines, cross hair, etc.) that are generally similar to the alignment indicia and overlaid with the received captured images within the window. The user adjusts the position of sensing device 100 such that the device captures images of the display screen and reflective strips and the alignment indicia of the captured images are substantially coincident or aligned with the overlaid position indicia in the window. The user informs computer system 50 of completion of the mechanical calibration in order to enable the computer system to initiate the system calibration.

[0065] The system calibration defines the display screen within the captured images and enables computer system 50 to adapt to ambient light conditions. In particular, the computer system displays a system calibration graphical user screen preferably including a virtual target and a window displaying the captured images to initiate display screen definition within the captured images. The computer system basically updates the captured image displayed in the window with successive captured images as they are received from the sensing device as described above. The system calibration screen further displays coordinates of a selected location within the window and screen input mechanisms (e.g., arrows, buttons, etc.) to enable a user to selectively adjust the displayed coordinates. Basically, sensing device 100 faces, but is typically positioned below, display screen 68 of monitor 54. Accordingly, the sensing device captures images of the monitor, including the display screen and reflective strips, having an upward viewing angle. This angle causes the sensing device to produce generally trapezoidal images of the monitor, where the lower section of the monitor within each captured image has greater transverse dimensions than those of the monitor upper section within the produced images. The computer system compensates for the device viewing angle and requests the user to indicate, preferably via a mouse or other input device, the corners of the display screen within the window of the system calibration screen. The coordinates for a corner designated by a user are displayed on the screen, where the user may selectively adjust the coordinates. This process is repeated for each corner to define for computer system 50 the display screen within the captured images. Alternatively, the computer system may display indicia (e.g., colored dots or other shapes) at the corners of the display screen to enable the computer system to automatically identify the display screen within the captured images based upon identification and location of the provided indicia. The computer system basically correlates the captured images with the display screen and virtual target as viewed by the user to determine the beam impact locations. In other words, the computer system compensates for the viewing angle of the sensing device with respect to that of the user to appropriately correlate the area captured by the sensing device with the display screen.

[0066] The system sensitivity to the emitted beam and ambient light conditions may be selectively adjusted by the user or may be determined by computer system 50 based upon measured conditions. Basically, the computer system determines a laser luminance or density value of beam impact locations on the reflective strips from the captured image information received from the sensing device. Specifically, each captured image includes a plurality of pixels each associated with red (R), green (G) and blue (B) values to indicate the color and luminance of that pixel. The red, green and blue values for each pixel are multiplied by a respective weighting factor and summed to produce a pixel density. In other words, the pixel density may be expressed as follows.

Pixel Density=(R×Weight1)+(G×Weight2)+(B×Weight3)

[0067] where Weight1, Weight2 and Weight3 are weighting values that may be selected in any fashion to enable the system to identify beam impact locations on the reflective strips within the captured images. The respective weights may have the same or different values and may be any types of values (e.g., integer, real, etc.). Beam locations on the reflective strips are considered to occur within pixels of the captured image that have a density value exceeding a threshold value. However, since a cross-hair is projected by the laser transmitter, several locations along each reflective strip are impacted by the beam. As such, the density values of a plurality of image pixels may exceed the threshold and identify several beam impact locations along each strip. The computer system correlates the identified beam impact locations within each strip as described below to determine a representative location of the beam impact for that strip. The representative locations of each strip are utilized to determine the center or intersection point of the cross-hair and the beam impact location on the display screen relative to the virtual target.

[0068] Since images from the sensing device are being repeatedly captured and transmitted to the computer system at the sensing device operational rate (e.g., approximately thirty frames per second), certain captured images may not contain any beam impact detections. Accordingly, the threshold basically controls the system sensitivity to the emitted beam in relation to the ambient light, and enables the system to determine the presence of beam impact locations on the reflective strips within a captured image. The threshold is generally increased to reduce the quantity of false hits detected by the system during system operation. The computer system determines maximum and average density values from the captured image pixel values and adjusts the threshold accordingly. The pixel density values of each captured image may additionally be accumulated and/or averaged to provide an indication of the ambient light condition or luminance.

[0069] During system calibration, the computer system displays a luminance graphical user screen including a virtual target and various system parameters. The computer system requests the user to actuate firearm 6 and project a beam onto the target. Alternatively, the calibration may utilize data collected during system operation as described below. The computer system receives captured images from the sensing device and determines the detection speed of the sensing device, the ambient light condition and the laser density threshold as described above. These parameters are preferably displayed in the form of color coded bar displays indicating the parameter values in terms of a percentage (e.g., a percentage of the maximum acceptable values for the parameters). However, the values may be displayed in any desired fashion. Further, the luminance user screen displays horizontal and vertical positional offsets that may be utilized by the computer system to determine beam impact locations. The determined threshold value as well as any desired positional offsets (e.g., horizontal and/or vertical) may be selectively adjusted by the user via the mouse or other input device.

[0070] The computer system may automatically determine the threshold in the manner described above in response to detecting changes in light conditions during system operation. In particular, the computer system determines density values for the pixels of each captured image during system operation. The values are accumulated and/or averaged to provide a lighting value representing the ambient light condition. If the lighting value achieves levels outside an acceptable range, computer system 50 interrupts system operation to determine a new threshold value. The computer system typically waits for the light conditions to produce acceptable lighting values prior to determining a new threshold. The settings determined by the calibrations and/or selected by the user may be stored by the computer system for later utilization by the system, thereby obviating the need to re-calibrate the system when conditions remain in substantially the same state (e.g., lighting condition, position of the sensing device, etc.). The mechanical and system calibrations are typically performed at system initialization, but may be initiated by a user via computer system 50.

[0071] Once the calibrations are completed, a user may commence a training or gaming activity and project the laser beam cross-hair image from the firearm toward a virtual target displayed on the monitor display screen. Sensing device 100 captures images and transmits the captured images to computer system 50 for processing. The computer system processes the captured images to determine beam impact locations on the reflective strips. Specifically, each captured image received from the sensing device includes a plurality of pixels each associated with red (R), green (G) and blue (B) values to indicate the color and luminance of that pixel as described above. The red, green and blue values for each pixel are multiplied by a respective weighting factor and summed to produce a pixel density as described above.

[0072] Since the reflective strips are positioned at the display screen perimeter, the computer system may analyze the portions of the captured images residing outside the area defined within the images for the display screen. Thus, processing time is significantly reduced due to the computer system examining a selected and substantially reduced portion of each image. Specifically, the computer system examines density values of pixels within a captured image that are located outside the area defined for the display screen. As discussed above, this area of the captured image primarily includes the reflective strips. If a pixel within the selected area of a captured image has a density value that exceeds the threshold, that pixel is considered by the system to contain a portion of the cross-hair beam impacting the display screen. If the density value of each pixel in the selected area is less than the threshold, the captured image is not considered to include a beam impact. The projection of a cross-hair basically results in several impact locations along each reflective strip. Accordingly, the computer system identifies each pixel within a strip containing a portion of the cross-hair beam, and determines the coordinates (e.g., X and Y coordinates) of those pixels within the captured image. The computer system processes the coordinates of the identified pixels to determine coordinates within the captured image of a representative location of the beam impact within each strip. This may be accomplished by applying an averaging or other desired function to the identified pixel coordinates (e.g., multiply by weights, select the pixel nearest the display screen, etc.). The representative location coordinates for each strip are subsequently processed to compensate for the sensing device viewing angle. In other words, the captured image coordinates of the representative impact locations of each strip are converted from a generally trapezoidal image produced by the sensing device viewing angle to coordinates within a generally rectangular image representing the view of the user and the display screen. The computer system subsequently determines the impact location of the laser beam on the display screen from the converted coordinates in substantially the same manner described above in relation to detector position within the detector arrays. In other words, the converted coordinates are utilized to determine the location of the center or intersection point of the cross-hair beam, thereby indicating the beam impact location on the display screen. The resulting coordinates are provided to the gaming or simulation software for display or other actions as described above for the detector array system.

[0073] In addition, the computer system may determine the pulse width of the laser beam as described above and provide messages in response to a user utilizing a laser having an unsuitable pulse width with respect to the system configuration. The system preferably is configured for laser transmitters emitting a pulse having a duration of six milliseconds, and can be utilized with laser pulses having a duration as low as one millisecond. However, the system may be utilized and/or configured for operation with laser transmitters having any desired pulse width.

[0074] The reflective strip system may accommodate users projecting the laser beam at varying side angles relative to the display screen while maintaining accuracy of the impact location. The computer system basically determines the impact locations on the strips as described above and applies compensation factors to account for the angle. Further, the system may detect firearm range or user distance to the virtual target by projecting and detecting additional range lines or employing ultrasound techniques in substantially the same manner described above.

[0075] In addition, the reflective strip system may determine a cant angle of the firearm based on coordinates of representative beam impact locations on each reflective strip. These coordinates may be processed in substantially the same manner described above in relation to detector position within the detector arrays to determine the cant angle. Alternatively, the reflective strip system may determine a cant angle of the firearm based on information corresponding to beam impact locations on a reflective strip. In particular, when a user orients firearm 6 at an angle and projects a cross-hair beam onto the reflective strips, a series of pixels associated with each reflective strip within the captured image is identified as containing a portion of the cross-hair beam as described above. The identified pixels of each strip form a line that is oriented transversely along that strip at an angle similar to the cant angle of the firearm. In other words, the cant angle is related to the line formed by identified pixels relative to a transverse axis of that strip. Thus, the cant angle may be determined by trigonometric functions based on the length of that line serving as a hypotenuse of a right triangle and the transverse axis of the strip or strip width serving as a leg of the right triangle. The angle between the leg and hypotenuse represents the cant angle and may be determined as the angle having a cosine value equal to the length of the leg divided by the length of the hypotenuse. The cant angles determined from each strip may be combined in any fashion (e.g., averaged, select a single angle or strip, etc.) to determine the overall cant angle of the firearm.

[0076] The reflective strip system may further determine the barrel velocity of the firearm as described above by tracking the barrel position or beam impact locations along the reflective strips within the captured images. The pulse width of the laser for this measurement is preferably substantially greater than the sensing device frame rate. Basically, the computer system determines an initial location of the beam impact within the vertical strips and subsequently determines the distance along the vertical strips that the detected beam impact locations travel. When the beam impact locations are beyond the strips or upward motion of the barrel ceases as determined from the beam impact locations within the captured images, the quantity of frames received until detection of either of these events provides the elapsed time (e.g., since a frame is received approximately every thirty-three milliseconds, the quantity of frames multiplied by the frame rate provides the elapsed time). Further, the distance traveled along the vertical reflective strips may be determined by the coordinates of the initial and final beam impact locations within the captured images. The velocity is determined based on the resulting distance and elapsed time. Alternatively, this measurement may be utilized with the laser transmitter having a shorter defined pulse width. Basically, since the sensing device captures all changes in the image between successive frame transmissions, the captured image contains any movement of the firearm during firearm actuation. The captured images may be examined as described above by the computer system to determine the movement of or distance traveled by beam impact locations on the vertical strips during the laser beam transmission. This may be determined based on pixel coordinates of initial and final beam impact locations as described above. The velocity maybe determined based on the distance traveled by the impact location during the time or duration of the laser pulse. In other words, the velocity may be determined based on the determined distance traveled and the pulse width of the laser beam.

[0077] The reflective strip system may further employ plural displays or monitors and the alternative display device in substantially the same manner described above. With respect to the alternative display device, the reflective strips are disposed around the display device, while the sensing device is positioned to capture images encompassing the display device and the reflective strips. The system is calibrated (e.g., sensing device position, to define the alternative display device within the image space, etc.) and functions in substantially the same manner described above to determine the beam impact location on the alternative display device.

[0078] It will be appreciated that the embodiments described above and illustrated in the drawings represent only a few of the many ways of implementing a firearm simulation and gaming system and method for operatively interconnecting a firearm peripheral to a computer system.

[0079] The firearm simulation and gaming system may be utilized with any type of firearm (e.g., hand-gun, rifle, shotgun, machine gun, soft air type gun, blazer, etc.), while the laser module maybe fastened to the firearm at any suitable locations via any conventional or other fastening techniques (e.g., frictional engagement with the barrel, brackets attaching the device to the firearm, etc.). Further, the system may include a dummy firearm projecting a laser beam, or replaceable firearm components (e.g., a barrel) having a laser device disposed therein for firearm training. The replaceable components may further enable training with blank cartridges. The laser device maybe utilized for firearm training on objects other than the displays.

[0080] The laser assembly may include the laser module and rod or any other fastening device. The laser module may emit any type of laser beam within suitable safety tolerances. The laser module housing may be of any shape or size, and may be constructed of any suitable materials. The opening may be defined in the projection or directly in the module housing at any suitable locations to receive the rod. Alternatively, the housing and rod may include any conventional or other fastening devices (e.g., integrally formed, threaded attachment, hook and fastener, frictional engagement with the opening, etc.) to attach the module to the rod. The optics package may include any suitable lens for projecting the beam in a cross-hair or other configuration at any desired dispersion angle. The laser beam operating in a continuous mode may be interrupted for any desired duration. Alternatively, the laser beam operating in a pulsed mode may be enabled in response to trigger actuation for any desired interval sufficient for the photodetectors to sense the beam. The laser beam may be visible or invisible (e.g., infrared), may be of any color or power level, may have a pulse of any desired duration in pulsed mode and may be modulated in any fashion (e.g., at any desired frequency or unmodulated) or encoded in any manner to provide any desired information. The laser module may be fastened to a firearm or other similar structure (e.g., a dummy, toy or simulated firearm) at any suitable locations (e.g., external or internal of a barrel) and be interrupted or actuated by a trigger or any other device (e.g., power switch, firing pin, relay, etc.). The laser assembly power switch may be implemented by any conventional or other power switch and be disposed at any suitable location on the assembly and/or firearm.

[0081] The laser module may be configured in the form of ammunition for insertion into a firearm firing or similar chamber and interrupt a continuous laser beam or project a laser beam pulse in response to trigger actuation. Alternatively, the laser module may be configured for direct insertion into the barrel without the need for the rod. The laser module may include any type of sensor or detector (e.g., acoustic sensor, piezoelectric element, accelerometer, solid state sensors, strain gauge, etc.) to detect mechanical or acoustical waves or other conditions signifying trigger actuation. The laser module components may be arranged within the housing in any fashion, while the module power source may be implemented by any quantity or type of batteries. Alternatively, the module may include an adapter for receiving power from a common wall outlet jack or other power source.

[0082] The laser transmitter rod may be of any shape or size, and may be constructed of any suitable materials. The rod may include dimensions to accommodate any firearm caliber. The rings may be of any shape, size or quantity and may be constructed of any suitable materials. The rings may be disposed at any locations along the rod and may be implemented by any devices having adjustable dimensions. The stop may be of any shape or size, may be disposed at any suitable locations along the rod and may be constructed of any suitable materials. The post may be of any shape or size, may be disposed at any suitable locations on the rod, and may be constructed of any suitable materials. The post or rod may include any conventional or other fastening devices to attach the laser module to the rod.

[0083] The detector arrays and reflective strips may be of any quantity, shape or size, may be constructed of any suitable materials and may be completely or partially disposed about the display screen or alternative display device in any desired fashion via any conventional or other fastening techniques (e.g., adhesives, hooks, brackets, etc.). For example, rather than providing four detector arrays or strips arranged around the rectangular display screen or alternative display device in the exemplary embodiments, two or more detector arrays or strips could be provided on appropriate sides of the screen or alternative display device to determine the beam impact location, user range as well as the cant of the firearm. The arrays may include any quantity of any conventional or other types of photodetectors or light sensing devices. Alternatively, the arrays may include any type of detectors for sensing any type of emitted energy. The laser beam position may be determined in any fashion when plural detectors within an array sense the beam (e.g., midpoint, average, weighted values, etc.).

[0084] The detector casings and coverings may be of any shape or size and may be constructed of any suitable materials. The detector arrays may provide any types of signals (e.g., digital or analog) formatted in any fashion to indicate photodetectors sensing the laser beam. The detectors may connect to any portions and/or ports (e.g., serial, parallel, USB., etc.) of the computer system. The filter may be constructed of any suitable materials and may be implemented by any filter capable of enhancing the signal to noise ratio. The reflective strips may be made of any material capable of reflecting light or other energy for detection by the sensing device. The laser beam cross-hair and range lines may alternatively be sensed in various manners. For example, a thin overlay, preferably constructed of fiber optic material, may be placed over a display with leads extending to detectors. The detectors sense the cross-hair and/or range line beams as described above. This type of overlay may be contained with an anti-glare screen. In addition, sensors may be placed on the firearm and directly transmit the firearm position, cant and/or barrel velocity to the computer system.

[0085] The sensing device maybe implemented by any conventional or other sensing device (e.g., camera, CCD, matrix or array of light sensing elements, etc.) suitable for detecting the laser beam and/or capturing a target image. The sensing device may employ any type of light sensing elements, and may utilize a grid or array of any suitable dimension. The sensing device may be of any shape or size, and may be constructed of any suitable materials. The sensing device may be positioned at any suitable locations and at any desired viewing angle relative to the display screen or alternative display device. The sensing device may be coupled to any port of the computer system via any conventional or other device (e.g., cable, wireless, etc.). The sensing device may provide color or black and white (e.g., gray scale) images to the computer system and have any desired frame rate. Alternatively, the sensing device may include processing circuitry to detect beam impact locations on the strips and provide coordinates of those locations to the computer system or determine and provide coordinates of the beam impact location on the display screen or alternative display device. The sensing device maybe configured to detect any energy medium having any modulation, pulse or frequency. Similarly, the laser may be implemented by a transmitter emitting any suitable energy wave. The detector arrays and sensing device may transmit any type of information to the computer system to indicate beam impact locations, while the computer system may process any type of information from the detector arrays and sensing device to determine beam impact locations.

[0086] The user screens maybe arranged in any fashion and contain any type of information. The various parameter or other values may be displayed on the screens in any manner (e.g., charts, bars, etc.) and in any desired form (e.g, actual values, percentages, etc.), while any of the values displayed on the screens may be adjusted by the user via any desired input mechanisms. The mechanical calibration screen may include any quantity of any types of alignment and/or position indicia of any shape, color or size to facilitate alignment of the sensing device with the monitor or alternative display device. Alternatively, the computer system image may be adjusted for alignment with the sensing device and/or alternative display device. The display screen or alternative display device may be defined within the captured image in any desired manner via any suitable input mechanisms. The display screen or alternative display device may be defined at any suitable locations within the captured image or window, while the selected locations may be indicated by any quantity of any types of indicia of any shape, color or size. Alternatively, the display screen or alternative display device definition may be accomplished automatically by displaying or positioning any quantity of indicia of any color, shape or size on the display screen or alternative display device at any suitable locations to define the display screen or alternative display device for the computer system.

[0087] The density value may be determined with any weights having any desired value or types of values (e.g., integer, real, etc.). The weights and pixel component values may be utilized in any desired combination to produce a pixel density. Alternatively, any quantity of pixel values within any quantity of images may be manipulated in any desired fashion (e.g., accumulated, averaged, multiplied by each other or weight values, etc.) to determine the presence and location of a beam impact within an image. Further, any quantity of density and/or pixel values within any quantity of images maybe manipulated in any desired fashion (e.g., accumulated, averaged, multiplied by each other or weight values, etc.) to determine the threshold and light conditions. The threshold may be determined periodically or in response to any desired light or other conditions (e.g., light conditions are outside any desired range or have any desired change in value, etc.), and may be set by the computer system and/or user to any desired value.

[0088] The reflective strip system may alternatively utilize gray scale or any type of color images (e.g., pixels having gray scale, RGB or other values) and manipulate any quantity of pixel values within any quantity of images in any desired fashion to determine the threshold, light conditions and presence and location of a beam impact. The beam impacts identified on each strip may be manipulated in any fashion (e.g., average, select a particular location relative to the screen, etc.) to determine a representative location on that strip. The representative locations may further be combined in any fashion to determine an impact location on the display screen or alternative display device. Alternatively, the beam impact locations from the strips may be collectively processed utilizing any conventional or other techniques to determine a beam impact location on the display screen or alternative display device. The conversion between the image spaces may be performed at any desired point in the processing to determine the beam impact location. For example, the processing may be performed to determine a beam impact in the trapezoidal image space and then converted, or each coordinate of a beam impact may be converted from the trapezoidal image space prior to determination of the beam impact. The computer system may analyze any suitable portion or the entirety of the captured images to determine the beam impact location.

[0089] The reflective strip system may be configured for use with a transmitter emitting a laser beam having any desired pulse width, and may provide any type of message or other indication when the pulse width of a laser beam detected by the system is not compatible with the system configuration. The reflective strip system may be configured to detect and process beam impact locations at any desired shot rate. The reflective strip system may utilize any conventional or other techniques to convert between the various image spaces, and may compensate for any desired sensing device position and/or viewing angle. The systems may be utilized with virtual targets scaled in any fashion to simulate conditions at any desired ranges, and may utilize lasers having sufficient power to be detected at any desired scaled range. The systems may further be utilized with any type of real target of any shape or size, where the detector arrays, reflective strips and sensing device are positioned relative to the target to detect beam impact locations in substantially the same manner described above.

[0090] The systems may determine the cant, barrel velocity via any conventional or other techniques based on the detected beam impact locations. The systems may further measure and provide to the user any desired firearm activity characteristics. The computer system may display any types of virtual targets, while the alternative display device may be of any shape or size, may be disposed at any suitable location, and may be constructed of any suitable materials. The alternative display device may include electronic ink devices, projection devices or any other device providing a target and display on a support structure.

[0091] The computer system maybe implemented by any type of personal or other computer or processor. The computer system may include any type of training, gaming and/or simulation software and operatively interconnect the firearm for interaction with the software. This software may be available on any type of storage medium (e.g., CD-ROM, floppy disk, etc.), or may be downloaded from a network (e.g., Internet). The software for calibrations and/or determining beam impact locations for the systems may be included within training and/or gaming application software and/or be within one or more independent software modules to provide calibration and/or detection information to those software applications. The systems may display targets and/or beam impact locations and provide scoring and feedback similar to the training systems disclosed in U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/210,595, entitled “Firearm Laser Training System and Method Facilitating Firearm Training with Various Targets” and filed Jun. 9, 2000, and U.S. Provisional Patent Application having Docket No. 0208.0047C, entitled “Firearm Laser Training System and Method Facilitating Firearm Training with Visual Feedback of Simulated Projectile Impact Locations” and filed Jan. 10, 2001, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

[0092] The computer system maybe coupled to any quantity of any types of display devices for displaying virtual targets. For example, the virtual target may be displayed on a monitor for the computer system or on any other generally flat surface, such as a wall. The virtual target may also be of any shape or configuration and may include any type of indicia with any form of scoring zones or factors associated with the indicia. Further, the systems may detect the user range via any range detection devices (e.g., ultrasound, overlapping beams, etc.), while the range beams may be of any quantity, shape, size or configuration and may be projected in any manner and at any position relative to the emitted cross-hair or beam. The computer system may be connected to any type of network to accommodate plural users for training, competition or gaming activities. The computer system may further be connected to plural monitors and/or alternative display devices via any connection devices (e.g., cables) or ports (e.g., video, etc.) each having detection devices (e.g., the detector array or sensing device and strips) to serve as a host to process and accommodate plural users. The computer system may employ plural monitors having detection devices for trainees to enable an instructor to control and monitor trainees from the computer system during firearm activities. The computer system may further employ a camera or other image device to enable remote viewing of firearm activity by an expert and enable on-line feedback from that expert.

[0093] It is to be understood that the software for the computer system may be implemented in any desired computer language and could be developed by one of ordinary skill in the computer arts based on the functional descriptions contained in the specification and flow chart illustrated in the drawings. The computer system may alternatively be implemented by any type of hardware and/or other processing circuitry. The various functions of the computer system may be distributed in any manner among any quantity of software modules, processing systems and/or circuitry (e.g., including those within the sensing device). The software and/or algorithms described above and illustrated in the flow chart maybe modified in any manner that accomplishes the functions described herein.

[0094] From the foregoing description, it will be appreciated that the invention makes available a novel firearm simulation and gaming system and method for operatively interconnecting a firearm peripheral to a computer system wherein the system detects and determines the location of a laser beam projected onto a virtual target within a computer system display from a laser transmitter assembly secured to an actual or mock firearm for training or gaming applications.

[0095] Having described preferred embodiments of a new and improved firearm simulation and gaming system and method for operatively interconnecting a firearm peripheral to a computer system, it is believed that other modifications, variations and changes will be suggested to those skilled in the art in view of the teachings set forth herein. It is therefore to be understood that all such variations, modifications and changes are believed to fall within the scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification434/21
International ClassificationA63F13/00, F41J5/02, G09B9/00, F41G3/26
Cooperative ClassificationF41G3/2633, F41G3/2655
European ClassificationF41G3/26C1B1, F41G3/26C1E
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