US 20050261057 A1
A gaming machine for conducting a wagering game includes a game display and at least one illumination device. The game display is for displaying the wagering game and the illumination device is for presenting artistic elements such as marquee lettering and candle lighting. One aspect of the illumination device is a formed material with at least one LED embedded within. The formed material contains light dispersion particles and is of a nature that allows the light from the embedded LEDs to emit from the surface in an effectively uniform manner. In a different embodiment, an illumination device, comprised of a colored light source, associated electronic components that are enclosed within the gaming machine's housing, and a transparent object, directs light from the light source through the structure of the transparent object positioned over the source, and displays the color and intended intensity of the light on an altered surface on the transparent object.
1. A gaming machine for conducting a wagering game, comprising:
a game display for displaying the wagering game; and
at least one illumination device including a light scattering material and a light source embedded in the material.
2. The machine of
3. The machine of
4. The machine of
5. The machine of
6. The machine of
7. The machine of
8. An illumination device for a gaming machine, the gaming machine operable to conduct a wagering game, comprising:
at least one light source;
an electrical connecting element for providing power to the light source; and
a light scattering material for displaying light from the light source in an effectively uniform manner.
9. The illumination device of
10. The illumination device of
11. The illumination device of
12. The illumination device of
13. The illumination device of
14. A gaming machine for conducting a wagering game, comprising:
a game display for displaying the wagering game; and
at least one illumination device including a light source, a transparent non-flat member, and a light-dispersing surface along a side of the member, the light source being positioned to emit light through the member such that the light impinges upon the light-dispersing surface and becomes generally apparent to a player.
15. The machine of
16. The machine of
17. The machine of
18. The machine of
This application claims the benefit of priority under 35 U.S.C. §119 of provisional application Ser. No. 60/572,615, filed May 19, 2004, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety as if fully set forth.
A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
The present invention relates generally to gaming machines and, more specifically, to a gaming machine with light altering features.
Gaming machines, such as slot machines, video poker machines and the like, have been a cornerstone of the gaming industry for several years. Generally, the popularity of such machines with players is dependent on the likelihood (or perceived likelihood) of winning money at the machine and the intrinsic entertainment value of the machine relative to other available gaming options. Players also appreciate the reliability of a gaming machine, as do the casino operators. Shrewd operators consequently strive to employ the most entertaining, exciting, and reliable machines available because such machines attract frequent play and hence increase profitability to the operator.
Gaming machines display a variety of visual attraction devices, models, signs, and other forms of information. Methods used to display these items include fixed permanently printed glass, video displays, fixed artwork, model and marquee displays, and various lighting techniques.
Lighting technology used in most gaming machines today include incandescent, fluorescent, LED, and cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL). These techniques are used for many applications including backlighting, direct lighting of model displays, bezel lighting, tower lighting and others. A specific example used in most gaming machines today is the backlighting approach, most commonly associated with display glass and game control buttons. Typically incandescent or florescent, this application is relatively inexpensive and safe due to low wattage requirements and because the light source is hidden. This technique is limiting because the lighting sources used can fail, requiring occasional replacement and some embarrassment, as the machine is not then presented in its finest form. The visual display, because of its flat or two-dimensional presentation, offers less design options and thus becomes common and less interesting.
A more interesting signage or artwork effect can be obtained by using CCFL or neon. But CCFL has limitations, as well. The fragility of the glass and the higher voltage requirements result in safety concerns that require manufacturers that offer CCFL, especially in neon form, to use shields to prevent accidents. Higher costs are another prohibitive factor when considering CCFL.
LEDs, while reliable and inexpensive to power, are individual pinpoints of light that require many numbers to create the illusion of a single lighted object, when viewed from a distance. When viewed at close range, the effect is obvious and unique design options are numbered.
Fluorescent lighting is also limiting because of its required shape. Restricted to tubes or round shapes, this option limits the development of interesting lighting design. Fluorescent lighting is also as fragile as CCFL adding safety concerns to its design issues.
An inexpensive, safe, alternative lighting method that disperses light from an embedded source within a substance and emits it in a uniform fashion across its entire viewable surface, or a method that passes light (virtually invisibly) through a transparent objects structure and displays it specifically at an altered point on the object, would benefit the manufacturer through cost savings and new design options, and benefit the player through safer, more interesting, game presentations and entertaining visuals.
In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a lighting device is presented that disperses light across its viewable surface providing a look similar to neon. Comprised of LEDs embedded within a material that can be cast into any shape, the method and materials used in the lighting device introduce new design possibilities and reduce safety issues typically associated with glass materials used in many other lighting applications. In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a lighting device is offered that encloses a colored light source and its associated electronic components within the gaming machine's housing, directs emitted light from the source through the structure of a transparent object positioned over the lighting source, and displays the color and intended intensity of the light source on an altered surface on the transparent object.
The foregoing and other advantages of the invention will become apparent upon reading the following detailed description and upon reference to the drawings in which:
While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail herein. However, it should be understood that the invention is not intended to be limited to the particular forms disclosed. Rather, the invention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
The primary display 12 may be implemented with a CRT, LCD, plasma, mechanical reels (in the case of a reel slot game), or other type of display known in the art. The primary display 12, especially if implemented in video, may be overlaid with a touch screen to facilitate interaction with the player. In the illustrated embodiment, the gaming machine 10 is an “upright” version in which the primary display 12 is oriented vertically relative to the player. Alternatively, the gaming machine may be a “slant-top” version in which the primary display 12 is slanted at about a thirty-degree angle toward the player of the gaming machine 10.
System memory 24 stores control software, operational instructions and data associated with the gaming machine. In one embodiment, the system memory 24 comprises a separate read-only memory (ROM) and battery-backed random-access memory (RAM). However, it will be appreciated that the system memory 24 may be implemented on any of several alternative types of memory structures or may be implemented on a single memory structure. A payoff mechanism 26 is operable in response to instructions from the CPU 20 to award a payoff to the player. The payoff may, for example, be in the form of a number of credits. The number of credits is determined by one or more math tables stored in the system memory 24. CPU 20 controls a number of peripheral devices via serial links. One of the peripheral devices may, for example, be a candle device 19. A microcontroller 23 on or connected to the candle device 19 responds to commands from the CPU 20. The microcontroller 23 signals a drive circuit 25 to “switch” certain logic circuits on or off. In this example, the circuits provide power to a peripheral device, in this example, light emitting diodes (LEDs) 27.
As will be appreciated by those with ordinary skill in the art, the method by which the light component is created can be any number of molding techniques including casting and removing the form or direct pour into a mold or housing that is then used in the application, as in this embodiment. The positioning of the embedded light sources, for example, LEDs, is such that the general area illuminated by an individual LED overlaps that of each adjacent LED within the light scattering material creating the appearance of the entire component being a singular light source.
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Controlling the candle device 19 serially also has other advantages. The candle device's physical configuration would not need altering for different gaming software. The gaming machine software can be engineered to automatically display candle device colors based on a predetermined set of criteria or the candle device can be manually set by a technician through a command line interface, for example. The number of tiers on a candle device 19 can be preprogrammed for specific games. Also, the software controlling the candle device 19 can be separated from the gaming code reducing the necessity of submitting gaming software for review if changes are needed in the candle device's code. The candle device is also a vulnerable point for electro-static discharge (ESD). Using a serial interface based on differential signals with its own power connection would substantially reduce the susceptibility to ESD events. Another advantage to the candle device 19, with the potential of displaying a number of different colors, is the reduced difficulty in manufacturing different candle devices to support varying casino requirements and the elimination of physically changing candle lamp colors in the field.
In another embodiment, a candle device for a gaming machine incorporates a vertically positioned acrylic pipe that directs light upward from LEDs positioned under the bottom edges of the pipe. The light from the LEDs is directed upward through the walls of the pipe to a viewing area at the top of the pipe.
Another aspect of this embodiment is the positioning of the candle device 58 in respect to the top of the gaming machine.
While the present invention has been described with reference to one or more particular embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that many changes may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.
For example, the embedded LED technology described in this invention can be used in a number of places on a gaming machine. Lighted buttons can be made from the light scattering material 38 with LEDs embedded within. A narrow band made from the light scattering material 38 with embedded LEDs can be positioned around a monitor or other peripheral devices on the gaming machine.
An alternative for the candle device incorporating a transparent pipe is the inclusion of a logo as the altered surface of the inner wall. Other means of displaying wording or a logo can be incorporated as well including the use of decals, screen-printing, paint or other means of altering the visibility of the light emanating from the altered surface.
There are also additional embodiments of the invention. One embodiment is directed to a gaming machine for conducting a wagering game, where a game display displaying the wagering game and at least one illumination device includes a light scattering material and a light source embedded in the material. The illumination device may be powered through an electrical connection element. The element supports at least one light source. The light scattering material may be solidified from a non-solid state. The light scattering material may emit the color of the embedded light source. The light scattering material is contained within a housing.
Another embodiment is directed to an illumination device for a gaming machine. The gaming machine is operable to conduct a wagering game. The illumination device includes (a) at least one light source; (b) an electrical connecting element for providing power to the light source; and (c) a light scattering material for displaying light from the light source in an effectively uniform manner. The electrical connecting element supports one or more light sources. The light scattering material contains light dispersing particles. The light scattering material is solidified from a non-solid state and may emit the color of the internal light source. The light scattering material is contained within a housing. The illumination device is selected from a group consisting of marquee artistic elements including lettering, a candle extending from a top of the gaming machine, bezel lighting for the game display or peripheral devices, lighted game play buttons, and other artistic game lighting.
An additional embodiment is directed to a gaming device having a main controller for conducting a wagering game, a candle device, and a peripheral controller coupled to the main controller via a serial link. The peripheral controller directly controls the candle device. The candle device includes a light source and a drive circuit. The peripheral controller may be coupled to the light source via the drive circuit. The peripheral controller may be located on or connected to the candle device.
A further embodiment is directed to a peripheral for a gaming device. The peripheral has a candle device, a peripheral controller that directly controls the candle device, and a serial link for coupling the peripheral controller to a main controller. The peripheral controller may include an input/output microcontroller. The candle device may include a light source and a drive circuit. The peripheral controller may be coupled to the light source via the drive circuit. The peripheral controller may be located on or connected to the candle device.
Another embodiment is directed to a gaming machine for conducting a wagering game. The gaming machine includes a game display for displaying the wagering game, and at least one illumination device. The illumination device includes a light source, a transparent non-flat member, and a light-dispersing surface along a side of the member. The light source is positioned to emit light through the member such that the light impinges upon the light-dispersing surface and becomes generally apparent to a player. The member may have a round, elliptical, or polygonal shape. The light-dispersing surface may be positioned on an inner or outer surface of the member. The light-dispersing surface may be an etching, grooving, or coating. The light-dispersing surface may be arranged to create shapes, logos, or wording. The light-dispersing surface may include light-blocking material added to create shapes, logos, or wording. The light-blocking material may include decals, screen-printing, or paint.
Each of these embodiments and obvious variations thereof is contemplated as falling within the spirit and scope of the claimed invention, which is set forth in the following claims.