US 20040192444 A1
A gaming machine is approximately half the depth of and weighs substantially less than standard gaming machines, thus greatly reducing the floor space needed to house the gaming machine and allowing it to be hung from a wall to increase the versatility of its location and improve the comfort of a game player due to greater leg room beneath the machine. An onboard camera is in communication with onboard video screens, remote video screens and other accessories to provide methods of increased security surveillance, methods of expediting service of the machine when it malfunctions, and methods of promoting the use of the gaming machine and the establishment housing the machine.
1. A gaming machine comprising:
a cabinet having a front surface, a rear surface and a bottom end;
the front surface defining a hole therethrough;
a display mounted within said body and viewable through the hole;
the distance between the front surface and the rear surface being in the range of from 8 to 15 inches.
2. The gaming machine of
3. The gaming machine of
4. The gaming machine of
5. The gaming machine of
6. The gaming machine of
7. In combination, a gaming machine and a gaming establishment having a floor and a wall, the gaming machine comprising:
a body having a front surface, a rear surface and a bottom end; the front surface defining a hole therethrough; a display mounted within said body and viewable through the hole; and
the gaming machine being mounted on the wall of the gaming establishment.
8. The combination of
9. The combination of
10. The combination of
11. The combination of
12. The combination of
13. The combination of
14. A gaming machine comprising:
a cabinet having a front surface, a rear surface and a bottom end; the front surface defining a hole therethrough;
an onboard video screen mounted within said body and viewable through the hole; and
an onboard camera in communication with at least one of the onboard video screen and a remote video screen.
15. The gaming machine of
16. The gaming machine of
17. The gaming machine of
18. The gaming machine of
19. The gaming machine of
20. The gaming machine of
21. The gaming machine of
22. The gaming machine of
23. The gaming machine of
24. The gaming machine of
25. The gaming machine of
26. The gaming machine of
27. The gaming machine of
28. A method of operating a gaming machine comprising the steps of:
providing a camera mounted on a gaming machine for playing a game; and
creating at least one photographic image by photographing with the camera one of a vandal and a winner of a game played on the gaming machine.
29. The method of
30. The method of
31. The method of
displaying the at least one photographic image on a remote reviewer video screen; and
reviewing the at least one photographic image to determine whether to display the at least one photographic image on at least one of a first onboard video screen, a second onboard video screen and a remote video screen on the grounds of the establishment housing the gaming machine.
32. The method of
displaying the at least one photographic image on an onboard video screen for review by the winner; and
communicating to the winner an option to determine whether to subsequently display the at least one photographic image on at least one of a first onboard video screen, a second onboard video screen and a remote video screen.
33. The method of
34. The method of
35. The method of
36. The method of
37. The method of
38. A method of enhancing game repair comprising the steps of:
providing a gaming machine for playing a game, the gaming machine having an onboard camera in communication with a game malfunction sensor and a service technician video screen and having an onboard microphone in communication with a service technician speaker;
sensing a game malfunction with the sensor;
communicating to a player of the game an option to use the onboard microphone to speak to a service technician;
photographing the player of the game to create real time photographic images;
displaying the real time photographic images of the player on the technician video screen; and
establishing an audio connection from the player to the technician via the microphone and speaker whereby the technician can hear the player speak.
39. The method of
40. The method of
photographing the service technician with the service technician camera to create real time photographic images of the service technician; and
displaying the real time photographic images on the onboard video screen.
41. The method of
 1. Technical Field
 The invention relates generally to gaming machines. More particularly, the invention relates to a gaming machine having a reduced size for saving space and increased built-in security measures. Specifically, the invention relates to a gaming machine having an onboard camera used in conjunction with various onboard and remote video screens and other accessories for the purpose of improving security measures, promoting use of the gaming machine, and expediting repair service of the machine.
 2. Background Information
 Gaming machines are well known in the art and are most commonly used in casinos, although they are also used in various establishments, including hotels and cruise ships. Typical gaming machines include video-style games as well as slot machines and the like which do not use video screens. Generally, gaming machines include a means for inserting money or applying credit to make a bet, some form of player interaction with a machine, and a means of displaying the result of the player's interaction. Current gaming machines are typically quite bulky and heavy. Their large size does not efficiently utilize valuable floor space. Further, their substantial weight limits where they can be placed, as they are generally too heavy to hang from a wall, for instance. Another problem with these typically bulky machines is the inability for the player to comfortably use the machine. More particularly, the player is unable to maneuver a chair and his or her legs very far under the interaction portion of the machine in order to comfortably sit at the machine without leaning forward to interact with the game controls. The reduction of the size and weight of a gaming machine to enable more efficient use of space and to allow the machine to hang from a wall while also permitting the comfortable use of the machine is of primary concern herein.
 In addition, an important concern in the industry is the security of gaming machines. More particularly, there is a need to protect the machines from vandalism and theft. Prevention of vandalism and theft is particularly difficult where machines are in an isolated area away from standard security cameras or security personnel. Providing additional security measures to this effect is also of primary concern herein.
 A third area of concern in the industry is the need to promote gaming machines to increase profits. While existing games utilize sounds and lights to attract attention to the gaming machine when a player has won, nonetheless there is a great deal of room for improvement in this area. More particularly, immediate and broad advertisement of a winning gaming machine throughout a casino or other establishment is a desirable goal. Further, promotion of a given individual's success as a winner is also a goal which tends to encourage that individual to play the game again. These goals are also of primary concern herein.
 Another concern related to gaming machines is the down time associated with game malfunction. A malfunctioning machine may also be of significant concern to a player who is playing the machine when it malfunctions. Typically, when a gaming machine malfunctions, it may take quite some time for the machine to be repaired. This is in part due to the lack of reporting of the malfunction and also the lack of information provided to a service technician as to the nature of the problem. Immediate reporting of the malfunction as well as rapid response in the repair thereof is also of primary concern herein.
 The present invention provides a gaming machine comprising a cabinet having a front surface, a rear surface and a bottom end; the front surface defining a hole therethrough; a display mounted within said body and viewable through the hole; the distance between the front surface and the rear surface being in the range of from 8 to 15 inches.
 The present invention further provides, in combination, a gaming machine and a gaming establishment having a floor and a wall, the gaming machine comprising a body having a front surface, a rear surface and a bottom end; the front surface defining a hole therethrough; a display mounted within said body and viewable through the hole; and the gaming machine being mounted on the wall of the gaming establishment.
 The present invention additionally provides a gaming machine comprising a cabinet having a front surface, a rear surface and a bottom end; the front surface defining a hole therethrough; an onboard video screen mounted within said body and viewable through the hole; and an onboard camera in communication with at least one of the onboard video screen and a remote video screen.
 Moreover, the present invention provides a method of enhancing game repair comprising the steps of providing a gaming machine for playing a game, the gaming machine having an onboard camera in communication with a game malfunction sensor and a service technician video screen and having an onboard microphone in communication with a service technician speaker; sensing a game malfunction with the sensor; communicating to a player of the game an option to use the onboard microphone to speak to a service technician; photographing the player of the game to create real time photographic images; displaying the real time photographic images of the player on the technician video screen; and establishing an audio connection from the player to the technician via the microphone and speaker whereby the technician can hear the player speak.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the gaming machine of the present invention shown hanging on a wall.
FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic view of the gaming machine as seen from the side with a player sitting at the machine.
FIG. 3 is a flow chart related to the gaming machine's computer, camera, sensors and remote security screen.
FIG. 4 is a flow chart related to advertising the winner of the game and shows the relationship between the machine's computer, camera and onboard and remote video screens.
FIG. 5 is a flow chart related to servicing a malfunctioning game and shows the relationship between the gaming machine's computer, camera and onboard and remote video screens, speakers, and microphones.
 The improved gaming machine of the present invention is indicated generally at 10 and is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. FIG. 2 shows gaming machine 10 mounted by fasteners 11 on wall 12 above floor 14 with a game player 16 seated in a chair 18 in front of gaming machine 10. Player 16 has legs 17 and chair 18 includes seat 19.
 Gaming machine 10 includes a cabinet 20 having an upper end 22, a lower end 24, a front surface 26 and a rear surface 28. Gaming machine 10 has a depth indicated by the letter d shown at numeral 30, the depth being the greatest normal distance between the front and rear surfaces 26 and 28. On cabinet 20 are mounted a coin tray 32 for disbursing game winnings adjacent lower end 24; a coin head 34 for receiving coins and a keypad 36 for player inputs situated adjacent one another and spaced upwardly from coin tray 32; a first video screen 38 for visual game displays located above coin head 34 and keypad 36; a second video screen 40 for additional displays situated above first screen 38; a camera 42 between first screen 38 and second screen 40; speakers 44 situated on either side of first screen 38; a sensor 46 generally mounted internally on cabinet 20; a microphone 48 adjacent camera 42 between screens 38 and 40; a bill slot 50 and a credit slot 52 situated laterally from one another and above coin tray 32 and generally below keypad 36 and coin head 34, bill slot 50 for receiving paper money and credit slot 52 for receiving some form of a credit card or debit card; and a computer or central processing unit (CPU) 54 internally mounted within cabinet 20.
 Via communication pathways 56, which are typically electrical wires, CPU 54 may be in communication with one or more of a plurality of onboard accessories including coin head 34, key pad 36, first video screen 38, second video screen 40, camera 42, speaker 44, sensor 46, microphone 48, bill slot 50 and credit slot 52 (FIG. 2). Via communication pathways 58, which are also typically electrical wires, CPU 54 may also be in communication with one or more of a plurality of remote accessories including a remote security video screen 60, remote casino or establishment screens 62, a remote photo reviewer video screen 63, a remote service technician video screen 64, a remote technician speaker 66, a remote technician microphone 68 and a remote technician camera 70. Thus, via CPU 54 and pathways 56 and 58, the onboard and remote accessories are all in communication with one another, or may be so in any combination thereof. Computer programming in conjunction with CPU 54 provides a winner indicator 72 and a game malfunction indicator 74.
 In accordance with one of the main features of the present invention, depth 30 of gaming machine 10 ranges from 8 to 15 inches, making depth 30 one-half or less than one-half of the depth of a standard gaming machine. Further, gaming machine 10 has a weight in a range of 75 to 150 pounds, which is substantially less than a standard gaming machine, which generally range from 200 to 300 pounds. This reduced weight allows gaming machine 10 to be mounted on most standard walls or even suspended from an overhead structure. Gaming machine 10 may also be mounted on a stand instead of hung from a wall. In either setting, the greatly reduced depth 30 of gaming machine 10 provides far more efficient use of valuable floor space in a casino or other establishment. Thus, with one-half or less of the depth of a standard gaming machine, gaming machine 10 offers the ability to double the number of machines within a given facility or reduce the size of facility needed for a given number of machines.
 The ability to hang gaming machine 10 from a standard wall 12 provides great versatility in the location of gaming machine 10. For instance, gaming machine 10 can be mounted in confined locations like hallways or lobbies, which is particularly useful for cruise ships and other boats where space is at a premium. Further, the smaller size and weight of gaming machine 10 can substantially reduce its shipping costs, especially in regard to shipment overseas. Moreover, when gaming machine 10 is hung from wall 12, the space between lower end 24 of gaming machine 10 and floor 14 therebelow is completely open and allows for increased leg room of player 16 sitting in chair 18, thus facilitating the use of gaming machine 10. This open space directly beneath gaming machine 10 is sufficient to accommodate chair seat 19 or a portion thereof and/or legs 17, or a portion thereof, of player 16 seated in chair 18 at gaming machine 10 while the player's 16 face is situated generally in front of screen 38. When the game is not being played, chair 18 may be disposed further under machine 10 to allow for greater room surrounding gaming machine 10. Further, the increased space beneath gaming machine 10 allows for greater wheelchair accessibility. Whether in a standard chair 18 or a wheelchair, player 16 is provided with a far more comfortable seating arrangement for playing a game on gaming machine 10, which encourages extended use of machine 10, a clear benefit to the owner of gaming machine 10. It will be understood that a video screen is only one type of viewable display that may be used with gaming machine 10, and thus machine 10 may include other types of viewable displays like those found on slot machines or other gaming machines. Thus, the reduced depth of machine 10 and its ability to be mounted on a wall as discussed above also applies to gaming machines having an alternate viewable display.
 In operation, gaming machine 10 also provides a unique ability to promote the winner of a game played on gaming machine 10 so that both player 16 and other people in the establishment housing gaming machine 10 are encouraged to play games on gaming machine 10 or are more generally attracted to the establishment. As used herein, “establishment” or “gaming establishment” is intended to be given a broad meaning and is not limited to a typical casino or establishment which is predominantly used for gaming. Thus, gaming machine 10 may be used in such locations as casinos, hotels, ships or other boats, or any other feasible facility, all of which are included in the terms “establishment” or “gaming establishment”.
 In accordance with one of the main features of the present invention, CPU 54 having winner indicator 72 is in communication with onboard camera 42, onboard first video screen 38, onboard second video screen 40 and remote casino video screen 62. When player 16 wins a game on gaming machine 10, winner indicator 72 of CPU 54 signals CPU 54 to operate camera 42 to take a photograph of player 16 at the time of winning or shortly thereafter so as to capture an image of the winner's typically excited response to winning. Camera 42 in turn sends the signal of the photographic image back through CPU 54 to one of or any combination of first video screen 38, second video screen 40 and casino video screen 62. First video screen 38 is the video screen which player 16 views in playing a game on gaming machine 10. Thus, gaming machine 10 may include only a first video screen 38 which would show a photographic image of player 16 at or shortly after the winning moment. This photographic image may be stored in a viewable database or memory unit and may be displayed at a later time, for example, between subsequent games on gaming machine 10 when a game is not being played thereon or as part of a display when a subsequent game is initiated thereon. Such use is somewhat analogous to the “high scores” listing seen on video games that encourages competition to become the high scorer or a winner. The photographic image may be displayed on first video screen 38, second video screen 40 or casino video screen 62 set up around a casino or similar establishment housing gaming machine 10.
 Displaying the photographic image on first video screen 38 would encourage recognition and competition for the use of gaming machine 10. Preferably, however, the photographic image would be displayed on second video screen 40 so that the game can be played on first video screen 38 while the winner photo is or several winner photos are displayed simultaneously on second video screen 40. This option allows a continuous advertisement to draw additional players to gaming machine 10, especially where second video screen 40 is located above first screen 38 in a position more visible to a passerby.
 Reaching beyond onboard screens 38 and 40 of gaming machine 10, the photographic image can also be displayed on remote video screen 62 around a casino or other establishment so that the winning image would be broadcast to a far greater number of people in or around the casino to draw their attention to gaming machine 10 and/or the gaming establishment. Remote video screen 62 may be more generally on the grounds of the establishment, that is, inside or outside the establishment so as to attract those in either location. Due to the interconnected nature of more than one gaming establishment, remote video screens 62 may also be beyond the grounds of a given establishment. Thus, for instance, gaming machines 10 at a number of respective casinos may be tied into a common jackpot, and it may therefore be desirable to broadcast the winner's image on remote screens in each of these interconnected casinos. The photographic image taken by camera 42 could be a snap shot or a motion picture clip, either of which could be played back on any of the above-mentioned screens 38, 40, and 62. Optionally, a motion picture clip may be played repeatedly to better catch the eyes of those in the vicinity. Clearly, the excited and/or happy images shown in the photograph would tend to draw people to gaming machine 10. The use of a winner's photographic image may also be bolstered by use in conjunction with other audio or visual attention devices, such as an audible message like “We have a winner.”
 While the merely instantaneous display of the photographic image would generally be advantageous, it may also be desired that the image be reviewed before being displayed on any of the screens. Therefore, as an alternative, the image or images could be sent to photo reviewer screen 63 for review by a person who would select which image or images, if any, would be displayed on video screens 38, 40 or 62. Such a review would prevent the display of an image that may not tend to attract other players.
 In addition, the winner of a game may not wish to have a photographic image of himself or herself displayed on onboard screens 38 and 40 or casino screens 62. Thus, gaming machine 10 may also communicate to a winner the option to determine whether or not to display the image on those screens. Machine 10 may utilize screens 38 or 40 to display a visual message to that effect or speaker 44 for a similar audible message. The message and the image may appear simultaneously on one of screens 38 and 40, or the image may be displayed on screens 38 or 40 only after the winner opted to view the image before ultimately deciding whether to allow subsequent display thereof. Such an option would respect and protect the privacy of individuals not wishing to have their images advertised beyond the typical notice of passersby within a closer range of machine 10.
 In accordance with another main feature of the present invention the communication via pathways 56 and 58 and through CPU 54 permits improved security of gaming machine 10. Specifically, sensor 46 is used to pick up a signal of an undesirable action by player 16 or another individual near machine 10 and forward that information to CPU 54 so that camera 42 may take a photograph of a potential vandal. The photographic image may then be displayed on remote security video screen 16 to allow security personnel to either immediately identify the vandal and prevent or reduce damage to gaming machine 10 or to maintain a permanent copy of the photographic image of the vandal and vandalism which could be used for identification and enforcement purposes. In addition, if it becomes known at large that camera 42 may be used for security purposes, it may assist in reducing vandalism due to fear of incrimination.
 Onboard sensor 46 may be any number of sensors, including a tilt switch to indicate rough handling of gaming machine 10; a door switch to indicate unauthorized opening of a door; a motion switch to indicate certain types of motions that may indicate vandalism; a timer which could, for example, indicate an extended time between the insertion of a coin to play the machine and the actual input by player 16 to engage gaming machine 10; an excessive-deposit sensor to indicate that an excessive amount of money or credit has been used with gaming machine 10, which may indicate tampering with gaming machine 10; a counterfeit-money sensor to indicate improper use of counterfeit money; a multiple-consecutive-jackpot sensor, which could indicate tampering; a multiple-denied-bill-validation sensor, which could also indicate a pattern indicating improper use of gaming machine 10; a payout sensor to indicate a payout to play 16 upon winning a game on machine 10; an optic sensor; a pressure-sensitive sensor; a capacitance sensor; and a resistance sensor. This is only exemplary of the possibilities for which sensor 46 could be used and is not intended to limit the scope of the invention.
 The photographic images taken by camera 42 could be a snapshot or a motion picture allowing for real time surveillance of gaming machine 10. The option of utilizing onboard camera 42 in conjunction with security surveillance is especially appealing where gaming machine 10 is to be used in areas that have no other surveillance cameras or security personnel. In addition, camera 42 may be directly connected to remote security screen 60 without using sensor 46, so that camera 42 is used as part of a standard security surveillance system.
 In accordance with another main feature of the present invention, onboard camera 42 may be used in conjunction with CPU 54 and certain accessories so that when a game malfunctions, a service technician can be notified by various means in order to provide rapid service in repairing gaming machine 10. More specifically, as shown in the flow chart of FIG. 5, CPU 54 includes a game malfunction indicator 74 and is in communication with camera 42, first video screen 38, second video screen 40, onboard speaker 44, player microphone 48 and remote service technician video screen 64, speaker 66, microphone 68 and camera 70. The communication between the various accessories, CPU 54 and camera 42 is as follows.
 When a game malfunctions on gaming machine 10, indicator 74 senses the malfunction and informs CPU 54 to do several things, the key being to create a communication pathway between player 16 and a remote service technician. One option is for CPU 54 to send a video message to player 16 via one of first video screen 38 and second video screen 40 indicating that the game has malfunctioned and that player microphone 48 has been activated to allow player 16 to communicate to a service technician for the purpose of identifying the problem and repairing gaming machine 10. This same message may also be audibly broadcast to player 16 via onboard speaker 44. CPU 54 would also activate a connection with player microphone 48 so that player 16 could speak into microphone 48 to create a message to the service technician. Simultaneously, a line would be opened to at least one of the service technician video screen 64 and speaker 66 to allow communication with the service technician. Also, the service technician may be provided with microphone 68 and camera 70 in order to send an audio message and even a video image of the technician back to player 16 through CPU 54 and the appropriate respective accessory such as onboard speaker 44 and one of first video screen 38 and second video screen 40. Obviously, the use of camera 42 in connection with this goal would be to allow a service technician to view player 16 during communication related to the problem with the game malfunction. The visual image may be combined with an audio message sent via player microphone 48 to the service technician to allow for better communication to the technician. It is also an option to use keypad 36, or another player input control, to assist in communicating to the service technician, whereby player 16 may, for example, push buttons or use a joystick to input information.
 While this one-way communication from player 16 to the service technician would itself be beneficial, preferably the service technician would be able to communicate via microphone 68 to player 16 as well. In a more elaborate setting, service technician and camera 70 may be used so that player 16 may also view the service technician during the communication. Such communication with the service technician would allow him or her to better identify the problem in bringing the appropriate tools and parts needed to repair gaming machine 10, thus reducing or eliminating time-consuming additional trips. Further, the communication to player 16 could help give him or her information about the time frame for the repair of gaming machine 10 and allow player 16 to recognize the responding technician on arrival.
 As an alternative to CPU 54 sending a message to player 16 to use microphone 48 to speak to the technician, CPU 54 could send a message to first alert the technician, who could then initiate communication with player 16. While gaming machine 10 may include a printed notice regarding the ability to access a service technician by microphone 48, the timely communication of this option as described above is far more likely to garner the involvement of player 16 in assisting with the repair of gaming machine 10.
 It is further noted that while CPU 54 is in communication with the various accessories in the preferred embodiment, it is nonetheless optional. The various accessories may operatively be in communication with one another independently of CPU 54. By way of example, CPU 54 is not needed where sensor 46 is a mechanically operated payout sensor such that when payout money or a credit slip physically moves past sensor 46, a mechanical connection is made to close an electrical circuit to operate camera 42 and automatically send a photographic image to any of screens 38, 40 and 62 or any combination thereof. Alternately, the image could be sent automatically to reviewer screen 63, where a reviewer would determine whether to use the image, and if so, forward it directly to screens 38, 40 and/or 62 without the use of CPU 54.
 Likewise, where sensor 46 is related to a security breach of gaming machine 10, triggering sensor 46 may set up a direct connection to camera 42 and in turn remote security screen 60 without the use of CPU 54. Similarly, where sensor 46 is able to sense a game malfunction, a direct connection without the use of CPU 54 can operate camera 42 and forward an image to technician screen 64, open communication between onboard microphone 48 and technician speaker 66, between technician microphone 68 and onboard speaker 44, and between technician camera 70 and one of screens 38 and 40.
 As shown in FIG. 1, second video screen 40 is located above first video screen 38 with camera 42 therebetween. However, it will be understood that the location of screens 38 and 40 as well as camera 42 may vary as desired. Camera 42 should be located so that the photographic image may be taken at least of the face of player 16 and preferably more than just the face.
 While the communication lines or pathways 56 and 58 are described as being electrical wires in the above embodiment, it will be understood that these communication pathways may take any appropriate form known in the art, such as optic fibers, radio frequency transmissions, infrared transmissions, laser-based transmission, satellite communications and also may include computer software. Computer software may be used which recognizes suspicious actions, the computer software being part of the communication pathways 56 and 58 such that those suspicious actions may be transmitted to, for instance, remote security video screen 60. Such suspicious actions may include some of the items listed above related to sensor 46, for instance, the identification of an excessive deposit, counterfeit money, multiple-consecutive-jackpots, and multiple-denied-bill-validations.
 In the foregoing description, certain terms have been used for brevity, clearness, and understanding. No unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom beyond the requirement of the prior art because such terms are used for descriptive purposes and are intended to be broadly construed.
 Moreover, the description and illustration of the invention is an example and the invention is not limited to the exact details shown or described.