US 20020132664 A1
A system and method are set forth for tracking activities of a person having on their person an identification instrument which issues coded signals over a limited range. A data base is provided which includes data for the person including biometrical data such as the facial image of the person. When the card is brought into the range of a receiving antenna, the card's signal is received and processed to access the person's data including their biometrical data for recognition of the person
1. A system for identifying a person comprising:
a host processor including a data structure, said data structure storing player identification data for each person to be identified including data representative of a biometrically distinguishable physical feature of the person;
a portable instrument issued to each person, each instrument including a transmitter for issuing an identifiable signal, said data structure storing data correlating each signal with the person carrying the instrument;
a receiver to receive said signals and to generate data signals corresponding thereto to said processor;
said processor adapted to, from said data signals, identify each person recall said player identification data; and
a display for displaying for each identified player said person identification data including said physical feature data for identification of the person with said instrument.
2. A system for identifying a person comprising:
a host processor including a data structure storing player identification data for each person to be identified including data representative of the facial appearance of the person;
a portable instrument issued to each person, each instrument including means for issuing an identifiable signal, said data structure storing data correlating each signal the person to whom the instrument was issued;
a receiver to receive said signals and to provide data signals corresponding thereto to the processor, said processor adapted to, from said data signals, identify the instrument and recall said player identification data; and
a display for displaying at a display for each identified player said person identification data including said facial appearance for identification of the person with said instrument.
3. A system for generating a player tracking slip for tracking the play of a player playing a table wagering game comprising:
a host processor including a data structure storing player identification data for each player including data representative of the facial appearance of the player;
a player tracking instrument issued to each player each including means for issuing an identifiable electromagnetic signal, said data structure storing data correlating each electromagnetic signal with the instrument issued to that player;
a receiver to receive said external electromagnetic signals and to generate data signals corresponding thereto and provide said data signals to the processor, said processor adapted to, from said data signals, identify the instrument each player at the table and recall said player identification data; and
means for displaying for each identified player a player tracking slip including player identification data including said facial appearance data.
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10. A system for generating a player tracking slip for tracking the play of a player playing a table wagering game comprising:
a host processor including a data structure having stored therein for each player data including player information data and player facial data representing the facial image of the player;
a player tracking instrument issued to each player each adapted to issue a coded signal, said data structure including for each player data correlating the signal of the instrument issued to the player to the player's data;
a receiver to receive said issued signals and for generating a data signal to the host processor to identify each signal, said host processor adapted to process the data signal to identify the player data corresponding to said signal;
a display for displaying for each identified player a player tracking slip including player identification data and said facial image data.
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15. A system for generating a player tracking slip for tracking the play of players playing a wagering games comprising:
a host processor having a data structure including for each player (i) player identification data (ii) facial image data and (iii) player historical data;
an identification card issued to each player including a transmitter means to issue an electromagnetic signal encoded with card data to identify the card;
an antenna adapted to receive and send said card data to said host processor, said processor adapted to identify the player-owner of the card and access the corresponding data from said data structure for that player; and
a display for displaying a player tracking slip including at least said player identification and facial image data.
16. The system of
17. A system for generating a player tracking slip for tracking the play of players playing one of a plurality of wagering games in a casino comprising:
a host processor having a data structure including for each player (i) player identification data (ii) facial image data and (iii) player historical data;
an identification card issued to each player including means to issue a signal encoded with card data to identify the card;
an antenna disposed proximate each wagering game and adapted to receive and send said card data to said host processor, said processor identifying the location of the antenna and, from said card data, identify the player-owner of the card and access said data from said data structure;
a printer for printing a player tracking slip including at least said player identification and facial image data.
18. A method for generating a player tracking slip for tracking the play of a gambler playing a wagering game, said slip to be completed by casino personnel for rating of a player, said method comprising:
providing a host processor having a data structure;
for each player to be tracked, storing player identification data into the processor data structure;
issuing to each player to be tracked a transportable tracking instrument including a device adapted to issue an instrument specific data signal;
receiving said data signals at a receiver;
the receiver sending said data signals received from the receiver to said processor, said processor correlating said received signal to an individual player and recalling from the data structure said player identification data; and
displaying a player tracking slip including at least a portion of said player identification data.
19. The method of
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23. A method for generating a player tracking slip for tracking the play of a gambler playing one of a plurality of wagering games, said slip to be completed by casino personnel for rating of a player, said method comprising:
providing a host processor having a data structure;
for each player to be tracked, storing player identification data including personal data and facial appearance data into the processor data structure;
issuing to each player to be tracked a transportable tracking instrument including a device adapted to issue an instrument specific electromagnetic data signal;
receiving said data signals at a receiver located proximate the game being played by the player;
the receiver sending said data signals received from the receiver to said processor, said processor locating the position of the receiver, correlating said received signal to an individual player and recalling from the data structure said player identification data; and
displaying a player tracking slip including at least a portion of said player identification data.
24. The method of
 The present invention relates to identification systems and methods and more particularly to systems and methods for identifying an individual using a carried instrument which issues an external electromagnetic signal.
 In casinos it has been known to track the play of players in order to establish a historical reference or “rating” by which to reward the player with “comps” in the form of meals, show tickets or the like. These comps establish goodwill between the player and casino and foster a degree of customer loyalty with the establishment. Current methods used by the various casinos are limited in scope and capability. Casinos also rate players sometimes based upon a theoretical win profile (TWP) which represents the revenues received by the casino from that player based upon a time frame such as per visit to the casino, per day or the like. Depending upon the player's TWP or wagering history, the casino may offer different level comps to a player.
 Traditionally only players playing high stakes table games such as Blackjack, Craps and Baccarat were tracked because the amounts and frequency of the wagers warranted special attention to these types of players to encourage their play at the casino. The personal attention provided by these traditional tracking and comping policies created goodwill for the casino and promoted player loyalty.
 With the growth of gaming as entertainment, casinos have expanded their tracking and comping policies to cover more players and to extend the policy to gaming machine players as well. Modernly, players are issued a player card which includes a machine readable, magnetic strip encoded with data identifying the player. A host processor is preprogrammed with the player's name, address and card code and a read/write player file is established. When the player wishes to play a gaming machine, they insert their card into a card reader at the machine. The reader interfaces with the processor at the machine such that each time the player makes a wager at the gaming machine, “comp points” relating to the amount of the wager are accumulated at the machine processor. Thus these player tracking systems track the level of play, i.e. amounts of the wager(s), and award comp points in relation thereto. Additionally the player's TWP is updated. Based upon the accumulated comp points and/or TWP the player receives meals and discounts which promote goodwill and customer loyalty.
 Similarly, and according to the prior art, when a player with a player card plays a table game such as Blackjack, they can accumulate comp points. When the player sits down at a table they hand their card to the dealer or floor supervisor who passes the card through a reader to open the player's account and establish a gaming session start time. A supervisor such as a pit boss or shift supervisor, from time to time, observes the wagers being made in order to assess an average wager being made by the player. When the player leaves the table their card is returned to them and the supervisor inputs on a local computer terminal the average bet information based upon the time of play, the average wager per hand and the average number of hands of play at the table per unit time and any other information thought to be pertinent such as the types of wagers made by the player. Comp points are awarded to the player's account based on this information.
 Attempts have been made to automate player identification and tracking data information relative to table games. In Bennett et al U.S. Pat. No. 5,586,936 issued Dec. 25, 1996 a player tracking system is shown wherein the player inserts their player tracking card into a reader at their seat at the table, the card reader-communicating with a host processor and local printer that prints a player tracking slip which is completed by the floor supervisor.
 A drawback with the magnetic strip card systems described above is that the player must hand over the card to be tracked or must insert the card in a reader while playing. Frequent handling of the cards is not convenient for the player and many times at the completion of play, the player fails to retrieve their card causing further tracking to not be possible. Players will have one or more new cards issued further complicating accurate tracking and allowing others to claim comps with the lost cards. The systems have grown to encompass so many players that the personal treatment of the players is lost. It is not possible for the casino personal to recognize the player so as to approach the player and greet him/her by name. This is true not only because of the number of players being tracked but also since the player cards can be passed between players. There is no convenient technique to confirm the identity of the player with the card. Still further, when the player presents their card to receive a comp such as a free meal, there is no convenient method to confirm that the person presenting the card is actually the person entitled to receive the comp. While casino staff could ask for a photographic identification such as a drivers license, some players may become offended that the casino does not recognize them without separate verification of identity. In addition, new casino personal who have never met the player have no basis to make a visual identification of the player in order to make a personal welcome to the player.
 There is therefore a need to provide a quick and reliable system which allows passive identification of a player without the need of handing over a tracking card or inserting the tracking card in a reader. Also advantageous would be the ability to identify the player without requiring the player to present separate identification to confirm identity. Such a technique should enable the casino staff to be able to make a personal greeting to players without ever having met them.
 There is also a need in other commercial settings to provide for passive identification which may include visual verification of identity such as in banking transactions, airline, other security settings and the like.
 There is, therefore, set forth according to the present invention a system and method for providing for the passive identification of an individual who is carrying on their person a portable instrument in the form of a card or token that does not require the individual to pass the device such as a card through a card reader. Further, a visual verification of the identity of a person is possible by interfacing the above identification means with a computer display linked to a data base containing a stored picture of the individual.
 Accordingly, a system is set forth identifying a person which includes a host processor that is adapted to create a data structure that stores player identification, TWP, comp point and other desired data for each person to be identified that also includes data representative of a visually distinguishable biometrical feature of the person such as their facial image.
 The preferred embodiment includes a portable instrument issued to each person, each instrument including means for issuing an external, identifiable, electromagnetic signal. For example the instrument may be a card which includes a battery powered transponder or transmitter adapted to, in the case of a transponder card when prompted, send a discrete, coded, electromagnetic or ultrasonic signal of limited range. For a transponding card, a stationary transmitter/receiver sends an interrogating signal to induce the portable card transponder to transmit it's coded electromagnetic signal which is received by the stationary transmitter/receiver. For a transmitting card, the card at timed intervals issues it's coded electromagnetic signal to be received by a the receiver. The stationary transmitter/receiver decodes the transponding signals into data signals corresponding to the individual card to validate it's authenticity and to correlate the signal with a corresponding player account number. In the preferred embodiments the card and stationary antennae preferably employ “BLUETOOTH™” wireless data transmission protocols and standards as is presently known in the art.
 The stationary transmitter/receiver sends valid data to a local computer processor that stores the card code and if requested by floor personnel, the code can be sent to a central data processor which includes the data structure storing player identification data as well as the other player data. The central processor is adapted to, from card code signals, correlate the code to the account for the individual to whom the card was assigned and recall and display at a suitable local display the player identification data including biometrical data such as the facial image of the person for verification of the identity of the person.
 A primary object of the present invention is to provide a tracking system capable of detecting and accurately reporting the presence of a carried tracking instrument within a defined area of space. Another object of the present invention is to provide a tracking system capable of functioning when more than one tracking instrument is within the defined area at the same time.
 A primary advantage of the present invention is that it provides for automatic detection and recognition of the person carrying the tracking instrument without any action on the part of that person. The person with the card need not physically present the card; they simply need to carry it on their person.
 Another advantage is that the system and method permits casino personnel to visually identify and personally greet a patron carrying the transponding card without any action by the player. This enables casino personnel to verify identity and to offer a personal greeting to the player thus promoting good will.
 These and other features and advantages will become better appreciated with reference to the description claims and drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 shows a block diagram of the system according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the player carried instrument; and
FIG. 3 shows a computer terminal display or hard copy of the type produced according to the system and method of the present invention.
 1. System Overview
 While the following description sets forth a system and method according to the present invention to be used to track the play of and identify players in the casino industry, and specifically for tracking the play of players at Blackjack tables, it is to be understood that the system and method could be used to track players playing Baccarat, Craps, Pai Gow or the like. It is also to be understood, that the system and method according to the present invention can be used to track the play of players playing slot machines, visiting restaurants, stores, shows and other casino facilities. It should be further understood that the system and method could be used in other applications such as in the banking or security industries.
 When a player desires to be tracked, they register with the casino at a data entry station. The data entry station is a computer terminal or computer system of the personal or mini computer type known in the art. As described below the station includes a display and data input devices such as a keyboard and mouse or touch screen of known construction. A video or digital scanner device and a player instrument programmer is also included.
 When a player registers at the data entry station, casino personnel input by the data entry means pertinent player identification data such as name, address and the like commonly used in player tracking systems known in the art. As hereinafter described, to input data relating to the facial appearance of the player, a digital scanner may be used to scan a photograph or photographic identification card such as a driver's license containing a photograph. Alternatively, a digital camera may be used to acquire data corresponding to the facial appearance of the player. The player identification data thus acquired is used to establish a player account in a player tracking data structure created for that purpose. The player's account will further include a read/write file concerning any player “comp” points awarded to the player based on the player's wagering activities. A read/write theoretical win profile (TWP) file may also be created which indicates the theoretical revenues received from the player per visit to the casino consistent with player tracking systems known in the art. Each player's account is assigned an account number which acts as an address at the player tracking data structure to access the player's data and for updating the player's “comp” points and/or TWP or other data such as a change of address, name or the like. Thus it can be understood that the player's identification data, including facial identification data, is stored at an address in the data structure and is accessible by a unique player account number assigned to the player's account.
 When a player enters the casino, such as when they check-in to the casino-resort, they are issued a tracking instrument such as a tracking card as hereinafter described. This card, in response to an interrogating signal which preferably is based upon a Bluetooth protocols and standards, transmits for a limited range a coded signal unique for the card. The card and it's signal code is matched to the player's account number when the card is issued to the player. Thus the card coded signal is matched to a specific player and that player's account. When the player leaves the casino at for example the conclusion of their stay, the card is returned and the correlation between that player's account and that card's signal code is terminated so that the card can be issued to another player.
 It should be understood that many casinos have established player tracking systems based upon machine readable cards or the type referred to in the Background. Thus, for these systems, player account numbers have been assigned. The system according to the present invention can, as described below, be easily integrated into an existing system by providing the signal emitting instruments hereinafter described and acquiring biometrical data, e.g. a facial picture, of the customer.
 According to the method and system of the present invention, when a player approaches a casino pit area, e.g. a group of Blackjack tables, or sits at a gaming machine, their card is prompted to transmit its code whereupon player data for this player can be recalled and acquired. For example in a pit area, the card code signal may be used by pit personnel to recall from a data storage device (player tracking system data base) the facial image of the player to enable the casino to personally greet the player. Further the player's play can be tracked without the player ever having to present their card to an attendant.
 In one embodiment, the signal emitting instrument, e.g. card, is a transponder and may be a passive transponder powered by the signal prompting the card to respond with its signal. However, and preferably, the card is battery powered and may act as a transponder or may initiate the communication with the receiving antenna by periodically issuing its coded signal. If the signal is received for a predetermined period of time indicating that the person carrying the card is remaining in the area of the antenna, the system identifies the card signal, makes the correlation to the player's account data to provide access thereto and, if desired, can be accessed to display at a local display the player's data including the biometrical data for the player for personnel to confirm the presence of the player.
 2. The System
 Referring to FIG. 1, the system 10 of the present invention is shown. A data entry station 12 is provided for entering of player account data. The data entry station 12 is in communication with a host a host computer 14. The pertinent player identification data described above is entered at the data station 12. Biometrical data such as the facial image of the player as a scanned image or a digital camera 16 photograph is also entered at the data entry station 12. Alternatively this biometrical data may be acquired later such as when the player is assigned their identification instrument as hereinafter described. Other data such as name, address or other player account information is entered with suitable and known data entry means such as a mouse, scanner, touch screen or keyboard 17. A display 18 is provided at the data entry station 12. The data entry station 12 may be a suitable personal computer located, where the system is used to enroll players at a casino, at a player registry booth. The player identification information is then transferred to the host computer 14 and is configured for storage into a data structure 19. The player's data is stored under an assigned and unique account number in the data structure.
 When the customer's activities are to be tracked or accounted for according to the present invention, the customer is issued an identification instrument shown as a tracking card 20. The issuance of the tracking card 20 may occur when the player checks-in at the casino hotel or at any time when the player wishes or the casino desires the player to have the card 20. FIG. 3 is a block diagram for a tracking card 20 which, in lieu of a card may be a token on a bracelet, necklace or the like suitable for housing the components hereinafter described and to be issued to and carried by the player. Where the card 20 is configured as a transponding card, an electromagnetic signal is periodically issued by local, stationary transmitters/receivers 54 described below and is detected at card antenna 34, and is rectified and filtered into a direct current by the rectifier and filter 36. Preferably, a frequency of about 2.46 Hz is selected for the signal. Preferably the card 20 is constructed to include a battery power supply (not shown). The direct current then supplies power to the preprogrammed micro-processing unit 38 that controls the operation and transmission a coded, card-specific, signal stored in card 20 memory 40. Preferably each card has stored a unique and discrete signal code, e.g. “xxxxxx”, which identifies the card 20. The signal code may be programmed into the card 20 by the facility or by the manufacturer. As stated above the code signal is configured to be operable according to Bluetooth protocols. In response to the card antenna 34 receiving a prompting signal from a transmitter/receiver 54, the card responds by transmitting its unique code “xxxxxx”. The signal may be encrypted to prevent counterfeiting or interference with the signal.
 The signal may be electromagnetic or ultrasonic.
 Again referring to FIG. 1, stationary transmitter/receivers 50 are positioned in the areas where tracking using the card 20 is to occur. For example, a transmitter/receiver 50 may be located in a gaming pit for a casino including several gaming tables 56 as shown. As but an example, a transmitter/receiver 50 may be located for every group of three tables 56. The transmitter/receiver 50 periodically issues interrogating signals, also according to Bluetooth protocols, to prompt any cards 20 in its area and range of signal, to respond with their coded signals. The range or field of influence of the interrogating signals and card 20 responsive signals may be approximately three feet to three hundred feet depending upon the signal strengths. When the card 20 enters the field of influence generated from one of the transmit antennas 54, the card antenna 34 receives an interrogating signal and, if the interrogating signal meets or exceeds a preselected threshold strength, i.e. the card 20 is within the selected range, the card 20 responds with it's coded signal “xxxxxx” which is received by the receiving antenna 54 for processing. Based upon the power of the card 20, the coded signal may have a limited range of between three to three hundred feet.
 In lieu of multiple transmitter/receivers 50, a single transmitter may periodically issue interrogating signals and separately located and local receivers receive the transponding signals from cards 20 within the limited range of the car's 20 signal strength.
 In lieu of the cards 20 being transponders, i.e. responding only when receiving an interrogating signal, each card 20 my be a transmitter periodically transmitting its coded signal. When the signal comes within the limited range of a receiver 50, the card's 20 coded signal is received for processing.
 The signal sent by the card 20 (or transmitter receiver where the card 20 is a transponder) may also be ultrasonic. An advantage with an ultrasonic signal is that if it can be received by multiple receivers, the position of the card 20 may be triangulated based upon the speed of sound and comparing signals receipt times.
 When the card 20 has issued its coded signal and the same is received by a receiver 50, the receiver 50 issues a data signal to a local processor 60 which may be conveniently located in a casino “pit” near the gaming tables. Each local processor 60 includes a display 62, computer 64 and a keyboard 66 for data entry. When a card 20 signal is received, the local processor 60 processes the signals to determine authenticity and to compare the signal data to stored parameters to determine whether a tracked player is likely gaming in the local pit area and to identify the player. For example, the signals from the card 20 may be required to be of a predetermined strength and duration to result in a determination that the person with the card is in the area, has remained in the area and thus is likely engaged in a gaming activity suitable for tracking. For example, if the card 20 signal is weak and of a short duration, the player is most likely passing by the pit area.
 If the parameters are met, the local processor 60 accesses the host processor 14 and the player's account. When the player was issued the card 20, the card 20 signal code was, at the data entry station 12 for example, at the data structure 19 tied or keyed to the player's account such that when the system 10 detects the card 20 signal those signals correspond to a particular player having a discrete account stored at the data structure. The local processor 60 recalls data at the local processor display 62 for pit personnel to view. If the player's gaming activities are to be tracked or the pit personnel wish to greet the player, the player's biometrical data, e.g. facial image, may be recalled at the display 62 so that the player can be recognized. Other data may also be recalled such as the dates of the players last visit and the like. Thus the pit personnel may look for the player in the area and offer a personal greeting. By requiring the casino personnel to match the displayed picture of the player with the player, the personnel will more likely remember the player.
 If the casino wishes to track the player's gaming activities, a player tracking slip as suggested in FIG. 3 may be printed out at a local processor 60 printer 70 for tracking data to written down by the casino personnel. This slip, at the conclusion of the gaming session by the player is completed and turned in to a data processing department for entry to update the player's account data. Alternatively the data may be entered at the local processor 60 by the keyboard 66 or by touch screen technology. That is the pit staff may monitor wagering levels and the play of the player and when the player leaves, enter the pertinent data at the local processor 60.
 The data may be transmitted between the local processors 60 and host processor 19 as well as between the receivers 50 and local processors 60 by wired or wireless communication.
 When the player concludes their stay, they return their issued card 20. Personnel enter the system 10 and terminate the relationship between the card's 20 code and that player's account so the the card may be issued to another player.
 While the system described herein operates complete unto itself, it can also be interfaced to existing player data bases and computer networks presently installed in gaming establishments. The hardware interface is through a standard RS-232 communications port to the modem interface box. Software drivers will be required to allow the existing computer program to receive tracking numbers from the modem interface.
 Although the invention has been described in detail with particular reference to these embodiments, other embodiments can achieve the same results. Variations and modifications of the present invention will be obvious to those skilled in-the art and it is intended to cover in the appended claims all such modifications. For example, as stated above, the system of the present invention could also be implemented into the banking and security industries. In the banking industry, for example, a customer would be issued a card of the type described above. When at an automatic teller machine or cashier's counter, an antenna would transmit a signal causing the card to transpond with the customer's account number and file including data identifying the individual such as a facial image. This data can be stored for purposes of confirming a transaction at an automatic teller machine or displayed for a teller to confirm the identity of the individual.