|Publication number||US20050277474 A1|
|Application number||US 11/154,835|
|Publication date||Dec 15, 2005|
|Filing date||Jun 15, 2005|
|Priority date||Oct 4, 1999|
|Also published as||US20030216961, US20050277473|
|Publication number||11154835, 154835, US 2005/0277474 A1, US 2005/277474 A1, US 20050277474 A1, US 20050277474A1, US 2005277474 A1, US 2005277474A1, US-A1-20050277474, US-A1-2005277474, US2005/0277474A1, US2005/277474A1, US20050277474 A1, US20050277474A1, US2005277474 A1, US2005277474A1|
|Original Assignee||Douglas Barry|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (5), Referenced by (14), Classifications (35)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a Continuation-in-Part of U.S. Ser. No. 10/089,973 filed Apr. 3, 2002.
1. Technical Field
This invention pertains to the field of gambling apparatus and methods and to the field of demographics collection and dissemination.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Throughout recorded history, humankind has always been fascinated with the notion of winning great gains by wagering their belongings. The fundamental notion of winning money has remained unchanged over the millennia. In this country's early history, the gaming business turned to technology as a source of improved gaming methods and apparatus; all in an effort to further entice customers to drop their coins in the “one-armed bandit”.
Computer technology has really fueled modern gaming trends. Casinos throughout the nation, as well as throughout the world, were quick to embrace gaming machines based on new technology enabled by microprocessors. In the prior art, microprocessors really gave the slot machines a new look. Gone are the mechanical tumblers and spinning cylinders. Slot machines now included a wide array of exciting new display technologies, such as color cathode ray tubes (CRTs) and liquid crystal displays (LCDs). These provide visually stimulating and attractive interfaces that draw potential gamblers.
Gaming systems are now no longer limited to the casino environment. In fact, through the use of wide area computer networks, anybody that can use a web browser and understands the basic precepts of a graphical user interface can interact with a remote gaming system. In the prior art, there has been a significant proliferation of Internet based gaming systems that resemble casino style games-of-chance. Early gaming web sites allowed computer users to play just about any wagering game imaginable. Barring local statutes and ordinances to the contrary, gaming web sites also let computer users wager real money just like Las Vegas.
Whether in the traditional gambling parlor, or on a gambling web-site presented over the Internet, the prior art of gaming apparatus had several distinct limitations. First, the prior art microprocessor based slot machine could not adapt to a specific user in order to capitalize on that user's specific spending tendencies. Another drawback that all prior art gaming apparatus exhibit is that these prior art devices presume that all contestants are interested in winning money. Money may in fact not be the principal motivator for all gamblers. Traditional gambling houses have long recognized the fact that other prizes and promotions are needed to cater to the more sophisticated mentality of the present day gambler. As a result, many casinos now place specialized gaming machines on the casino floor. These allow gamblers to win other prizes such as cars or vacations.
Failing to recognize the captivity of their gambling audience, prior art gaming systems did not consider other profit mechanisms that could be employed as gamblers sit in front of slot machines. Because the contestants are, in essence, a captive audience, prior art gaming systems could have displayed other information to the contestant such as advertisements or interesting announcements. Casinos could realize an additional source of revenue by selling advertising opportunities to sponsoring advertisers.
Yet another shortcoming of prior art gaming machines is that they could not profile their users. By allowing users to fill out questionnaires, a gaming system could be tailored to a specific user in order to maintain a high level of interest in the gaming experience. Of course, by maintaining interest in the game gamblers are apt to play longer resulting in greater revenues for the casino. This secondary level of interaction with a gaming user can also be a source of demographic data. Demographics collected during a gaming session could also be sold to third parties as marketing data.
The present invention comprises a method and apparatus that allows targets advertisements to a user based on demographics that the user exhibits. Generally, personal information about the user is received from number of sources and then store in a database. Presenting advertisements occurs contemporaneously with game play. In the present embodiment, each game integrates the advertisements in such manner as to make the playing experience more enjoyable. As a user plays the game, the present invention correlates personal attributes for the user with advertisements that are also stored in a database.
The present invention further comprises a method and apparatus that can target advertisement based on observations the system makes with respect to the users activities. Specifically, as a user plays a game, the user can select prizes that are of interest and can spend points in order to improve the probability that a prize will be awarded. Inferences can be drawn from these activities that result in a propensity profile for the user. These propensity profiles can also be used to target advertisements to specific users.
Advertisements are presented in a number of forms including, but not limited to simple graphical images, animated graphics, audio and video clips and even multimedia presentations. Each advertisement further comprises a hyperlink to an advertisers web site. This hyperlink, when activated, will retrieve additional information that the advertiser wants to convey. The additional information, usually incorporated into a web page, can also take of the forms that advertisements can take on, that being graphic images, animated graphics, video clips and multimedia presentations. This enumeration is intended to be illustrative and is not intended to limit the scope of the claims.
Another novel aspect of the present invention is that the games that are presented to users for play are themselves highly personalized to meet the tastes and preferences of the those users. Initially, the game can ask the user what prize they would like to vie for. These prizes are selected by the user and then incorporated directly into the game. The present invention further comprises a facility that tracks the game play a user exhibits and then modifies prize selection accordingly. Another mechanism that is used to personalize the games presented to the user is the ability to select prizes from a prize pool based on the users demographics.
In the general sense, selection of advertisements and prizes is based on the user's demographics or exhibited propensities and is done by selecting a category and then selecting an advertisement or prize from within that category. This, however, does not preclude those skilled in the art to recognize that the partitioning of the advertisement and prize pools can be done in any arbitrary manner that facilitates the correlation of user demographics or propensities to advertisements and/or prizes.
The present invention draws inferences with respect to the prizes a user prefers. The strength of the inference is bolstered by the fact that as a user plays to win a particular prize, that user can choose to buy down the odds of winning. The invention records each time a user attempts to win a prize based on random chance and also record each time the user chooses to pay for enhancing the win probability. This information then drives the propensities of the user that are subsequently used to target advertisements and select prizes.
The present invention maintains information relative to the cost of each prize offered to users. Together with information with respect to the income realized by presenting advertisements, the present invention adjusts the probability of a prize award to ensure that the prize is awarded no more frequently than the period in which an aggregate number of advertisements needed to pay for the prize are presented. This ensures that the system operator remains profitable. Once a prize is awarded, the present invention creates coupons that the user can print out and then use to redeem the prize.
The games are presented to the user through client devices such as, a personal computer, a set-top box, a ubiquitous Internet appliance and a slot machine. The client devices are connected to games through a wired or wireless network. The client devices contain a wireless network interface to communicate with personal electronic devices such as personal digital assistants and cellular phones. The personal electronic devices identify the user and conduct financial transactions.
The foregoing aspects are better understood from the following detailed description of one embodiment of the invention with reference to the drawings, in which:
The PGS can also provides a plurality of products to promoters 50. Promoters can purchase marketing data in the form of customer lists, demographics, and etc. etc..
In the current embodiment, all of user client devices are substantially similar in architecture. Microprocessor based user client devices such as the PC 65, a set-top box 70, the Internet appliance 66 and the slot machine 75 all execute a web browser. The web browser executing in the user client devices interacts with the ACS 55 in order to retrieve web pages according to the present invention. The PC 65, the set top box 70 and the Internet appliance 66 are well known in the art. The slot machine 75 according to the present invention is new and novel.
The slot machine of the present invention further comprises a network interface 150. The network interface 150 enables the slot machine of the present invention to communicate with a remote server such as the adaptable contest server 55. When necessary, the network interface can be used to communicate with a vast range of external devices connected either to the most proximate computer network 60 or any device connected to external networks by utilizing the gateway 80.
The slot machine of the present invention further comprises a smart card interface 145 and its associated active area 146. The smart card interface 145, again under control of a driver integral to the operating system, allows the slot machine 75 to detect and read a wireless identification device.
The slot machine 75 further comprises an identification element dispenser 170. The identification element dispenser 170 receives commands from the microprocessor 105 whenever the contestant needs a new identification element. In the present embodiment, the identification element is a plastic ring that comprises a wireless smart-card integrated circuit. The dispenser 170 receives plastic rings from a magazine 175. In the present embodiment, the dispenser 170 drops plastic rings through to a slot on the front of the slot machine 75. It should be noted that the identification device can be made in any convenient form that is not offensive to the contestant and promotes use of the device whenever the contestant uses the present slot machine.
The ACS 55 further comprises a structured query language (SQL) engine 200. The SQL engine 200 manages a plurality of databases. These databases and the structure thereof are one key aspects of the present invention. The ACS 55 also further comprises a cache of web pages 210. The web page cache 210 is used to store a plurality of web pages. These web pages are delivered to the web browsers 95 as contestants use the invention.
The present invention comprises a plurality of databases. These include, but are not limited to databases that track contestants as users of the system (user databases); databases that track the products, services, and promotions that can be used as prizes that can be awarded to contestants (prize databases); and databases that are used to manage the display of advertising content to the system users (sponsor databases).
User Database - User List (220) Field Name Reference Usage Capacity ID No. 225 The ID No. field is a key field and is used to track a contestant registered in the system. This field is used as a relational index with other user databases. LNAME 230 The LNAME field is used to store the last name of a contestant. FNAME 240 The FNAME field is used to store the first name of a contestant. MNAME 250 The MNAME field is used to store the middle name of a contestant. 260 The EMAIL field is used to store the e-mail address of a contestant. PHONE 270 The PHONE field is used to store the phone number of a contestant. FAX 280 The FAX field is used to store the facsimile phone number of a contestant. ADDR1 290 The ADDR1 field is used to store the first line of a contestants mailing address. ADDR2 300 The ADDR2 field is used to store the second line of a contestants mailing address. CITY 310 The CITY field is used to store the city for the contestants mailing address. STATE 320 The STATE field is used to store the state for the contestants mailing address. CNTRY 330 The CNTRY field is used to store the country for the contestants mailing address. POST- 340 The POST-CODE field is used to CODE store a postal code for the contestants mailing address. Where the contestants mailing address is in the United States of America, the POST-CODE field is used to store the zip code. User Database - Supplemental Information (350) Field Name Reference Usage Capacity ID No. 360 The ID No. field is a key field and is used to track a contestant registered in the system. This field is used as a relational index with other user databases. BIRTH- 370 The BIRTH-DATE field is used to DATE store the birth date of a contestant. GENDER 380 The GENDER field is used to store the sex of a contestant. REGISTER- 390 The REGISTER-DATE field is DATE used to store the first name of a contestant. NUMBER- 400 The NUMBER-VISITS field is VISITS used to track the number of times a contestant uses the system. SS# 410 The SS# field is used to store the social security (or other tax identification number) of a contestant. DRIVR- 420 The DRIVR-LIC field is used to LIC store the drivers license number of a contestant. CREDIT- 430 The CREDIT-CARD field is used CARD to store the credit card number of a contestant. POINTS 435 The POINTS AVAILABLE field is AVAILABLE used to store the number of points the contestant has. Points can be accumulated either by purchasing points, as with a credit card, or by ID DEVICE 440 The ID DEVICE field is used to store the serial number of a personal identification device. POINTS 445 The POINTS EARNED field is EARNED used to record the number of points that the contestant has accrued. User Database - Statistics (450) Field Name Reference Usage Capacity ID No. 460 The ID No. field is a key field and is used to track a contestant registered in the system. This field is used as a relational index with other user databases. ORDINAL 470 The ORDINAL field is a key field and is used to identify one of a plurality of statistical records afforded to a given user.. TYPE 480 The TYPE field is used to store an indicator of the type of statistics record stored in that record. SUBTYPE 490 The SUBTYPE field is used to store a secondary classifying indicator of the type of statistics record stored in that record. VALUE 500 The VALUE field is used to store a statistical value in the record of the given type and subtype. RECORD- 510 The RECORD-DATE field is used DATE to store the date on which the record was first created. EXECUTE- 520 The RECORD-DATE field is used DATE to store the date on which the action affiliated with the record was closed. Type
Total Minutes of Game Play -
Slot Machine -
Slot Machine -
Slot Machine -
Slot Machine -
Slot Machine -
Total Minute of Game Play -
Prize Category 01
Prize Category 02
Prize Category 03
Prize Category 04
Prize Category 05
Prize Code 01
Prize Code 02
Prize Code 03
Prize Code 04
Prize Code 05
User Database - Propensities (530) Field Name Reference Usage Capacity ID No. 540 The ID No. field is a key field and is used to track a contestant registered in the system. This field is used as a relational index with other user databases. ORDINAL 550 The ORDINAL field is a key field and is used to identify one of a plurality of propensity records afforded to a given user.. TYPE 480 The TYPE field is used to store an indicator of the type of propensity record stored in that record. VALUE 500 The VALUE field is used to store a statistical value in the record of the given type of propensity. DATE 510 The DATE field is used to store the date on which the record was created. User Database - Teams (590) Field Name Reference Usage Capacity ID No. 600 The ID No. field is a key field and is used to track a contestant registered in the system. This field is used as a relational index with other user databases. TEAM- 610 The TEAM-NAME field is a key NAME field and is used to identify one of a plurality of team description records afforded to a given user. OBJECT- 620 The OBJECT-CAT field is used to CAT record the category of the prize objective for the team of that record. OBJECT- 630 The OBJECT-ITEM field is used to ITEM store the item number in the given category of the prize objective for the team of that record. OFFERED- 640 The OFFERED-PRICE field is PRICE used to store the number of contestant points that are required to win the prize. EXPIRE- 650 The EXPIRE-DATE field is used to DATE store the date on which the team can no longer pool their points to win the prize. User Database - Team-Scores (660) Field Name Reference Usage Capacity ID No. 670 The ID No. field is a key field and is used to track a contestant registered in the system. This field is used as a relational index with other user databases. TEAM- 680 The TEAM-NAME field is a key field NAME and is used to identify one of a plurality of team description records afforded to a given user. MEMBER 690 The MEMBER ID field is a key field ID that is used to identify another system user that is a member of the team. POINTS 700 The POINTS-EARNED field is used EARNED to store the number of points earned by the team member toward the prize objective. User Database - Team-Scores (710) Field Name Reference Usage Capacity ID No. 720 The ID No. field is a key field and is used to track a contestant registered in the system. This field is used as a relational index with other user databases. TAX 730 The TAX YEAR field is a key field YEAR and is used to identify one of a plurality of tax report records afforded to a given user. REPORT 740 The REPORT TYPE field is a key TYPE field that that indicates the type of tax report issued to a contestant. AMOUNT 750 The AMOUNT field is used to store cash value of winnings reported to the tax authority. ISSUE 760 The ISSUE DATE field is used to DATE record the date on which the tax report was issued to the tax authority. User Database - Advertisement Pool (770) Field Name Reference Usage Capacity CATEGORY 780 The CATEGORY field is a key field and is used to identify the product category that the advertisement belongs to. ITEM 785 The ITEM field is a field that is used to correlate an advertisement to a prize. This is used in calculating the odds of winning prizes. ADVERTISER 790 The ADVERTISER field is a key field and is used to identify one of a plurality of advertisers that purchase advertisement impressions on the system. AD NAME 800 The AD NAME field is a key field and identifies the advertisement. COST PER 810 The COST PER THOUSAND THOUSAND field is used to record the (CPM) negotiated rate that is charged to the advertiser for every one thousand impression of the advertisements made to users. SATURATION 820 The SATURATION field is LEVEL used to record the preference of the advertisement relative to other advertisements that will be presented to system users. TOTAL 830 The TOTAL IMPRESSIONS IMPRESSIONS field is used to track the number of impressions of the advertiser made to contestants. TYPE 840 The TYPE field indicates the media embodiment of the advertisement. Several types are supported including: Still images Motion Clips SOURCE 850 The SOURE field is used to indicate the file where the media representation of the advertisement is stored. HYPERLINK 860 The HYPERLINK field is used to store a web page address that the system will direct the user to if the user selects the advertisement. TOTAL 870 The TOTAL REFERELS field REFERALS indicates the total number of redirections to the advertisers web page resulting from user selection of the advertisement. User Database - Sponsor List (880) Field Name Reference Usage Capacity GAME 890 The GAME field is a key field and is used to identify the game a presented by a sponsor. CATEGORY 900 The CATEGORY field is a key field and is used to identify one of a plurality of advertising categories that the sponsor is paying for. SPONSOR 910 The SPONSOR field is a key field and identifies the party paying for the sponsorship. TOTAL 920 The TOTAL IMPRESSIONS IMPRESSIONS field is used to track the number of impressions of the advertiser made to contestants. TYPE 930 The TYPE field indicates the media embodiment of the advertisement. Several types are supported including: Still images Motion Clips SOURCE 940 The SOURE field is used to indicate the file where the media representation of the advertisement is stored. HYPERLINK 950 The HYPERLINK field is used to store a web page address that the system will direct the user to if the user selects the advertisement. TOTAL 960 The TOTAL REFERELS field REFERALS indicates the total number of redirections to the advertisers web page resulting from user selection of the advertisement. User Database - Prize Pool (970) Field Name Reference Usage Capacity CATEGORY 980 The CATEGORY field is a key field and is used to identify category of a prize. ITEM 990 The ITEM field is a key field and is used to identify a unique item within a category of prizes. QTY ON- 1000 The QTY ON-HAND field HAND indicates the inventory level of a product. QTY IN-PLAY 1010 The QTY IN-PLAY field is used to track the number of the particular prize that contestants are vying for. AGGREGATE 1020 The AGGREGATE AWARDED AWARDED field indicates the media embodiment of the advertisement. Several types are supported including: Still images Motion Clips TYPE 1025 The TYPE field indicates the media embodiment of the prize representation. Several types are supported including: Still images Motion Clips SOURCE 1030 The SOURCE field is used to indicate the file where the media representation of the prize is stored. PROVIDER 1040 The PROVIDER field is used to indicate who is paying for the prize or promotion. AD-ID 1050 The AD-ID field itself consists of a category, advertiser and ad-name. These are used as a key into the advertisement pool data base when the prize is affiliated with a particular advertisement. PRICE 1060 The PRICE field indicates the number of contestant points that the contestant must redeem in exchange for receiving the prize. COST 1070 The COST field indicates the price paid to purchase the item from the vendor. VENDOR 1080 The VENDOR indicates the company that the prize is purchased or otherwise obtained from. ODDS 1090 The ODDS field indicates the probability value for winning the prize.
The present invention exploits the ubiquitous web browser interface. By using a web browser on the client device, graphical interfaces can be created and easily modified by using a markup language such as the hyper text markup language (HTML). The present invention adopts the industry nomenclature of a “web page” when referring to graphical user interfaces. Generally, a graphical user interface (GUI), or web page is created using industry standard HTML in conjunction with a Java applets. In the alternative embodiment, GUIs are created using a multimedia-authoring tool.
Access to the databases maintained by the ACS 55 is accomplished by way of SQL requests that are sent to the SQL engine 200. The SQL request are composed by Java scripts attached to web pages introduced infra or by Java applets that comprise the embodiments of games of chance. In either case, the SQL requests are received by the SQL engine 200 and fulfilled. The resulting database activity is reported to the requesting process.
Once the home page is loaded into the browser, scripting within the home page attempts to identify the user. In step 1200; the home page script looks for a “cookie” previously written to a non-volatile memory accessible by the user's client device. In the case of a PC, a cookie is normally written to the user's hard disk. If the system finds a cookie (step 1205) the script in the home page will retrieve the identification stored in the cookie (step 1200 to 10). Once the user has been identified, the identification of the user is used to personalize the welcome page presented immediately after the home page script finishes executing (step 1215).
In the event that a cookie is not discovered, the home page will retrieve a universal splash screen and present this to the user (step 1220). The universal splash screen 1225 is normally presented in the slot machine 75 device where the user cannot easily be identified. The splash screen 1225 further comprises a java-script that embodies the logical sequence needed to identify a user in the slot machine 75 of the present invention.
The java-scriptattached to the splash screen 1220 waits until there is an identification device event (step 1260). When an identification device event is perceived by the system, the java-scriptwill retrieve the identification number from the device in order to identify the user (step 1265). The java-scriptwill then redirect the web browser to a personal welcome page using the identification number retrieved from the identification device (step 1215). If an identification device event is not immediately sensed, the java-script attached to the splash screen 1225 will continue to wait for an identification device event (step 1260), or for either the identification command button (step 1270) or the play command button (step 1290) to be actuated by the user. In the event that the identification command button is actuated (step 1270) the java-scriptwill direct the web browser to a sign-in page (step 1280). If the java-scriptdetects that the play command button (step 1290) was actuated, the java-scriptwill redirect the web browser to the games-to-play web page (step 1300).
Once the contestant has entered a phone number, the system requires that verification of the user be accomplished. This is performed by requiring the contestant to indicate the month of their birth, and optionally the date of their birth. Any means to authenticate the user could be used, including but not limited to asking the user to enter a password. In the present embodiment, the Existing User web page 1515 further comprises radio button controls for month 1535 and date 1540. The contestant must select the month and date of their birth using the month radio button control 1535 and the date radio button control 1540. If the system can not adequately authenticate the user through the above described phone number and birth date mechanism, then the system will prompt the user to try entering the authentication data again.
Control Name Reference Control Type First Name 1570 Text Entry Middle Name 1575 Text Entry Last Name 1580 Text Entry Address Line 1 1585 Text Entry Address Line 2 1590 Text Entry e-mail address 1595 Text Entry City 1600 Text Entry State 1605 Drop Down List Postal Code (Zip 1610 Text Entry Code) Country 1615 Drop Down List Birth date 1620 Text Entry Phone number 1625 Text Entry Gender 1630 Radio Button
The New Player Questionnaire web page 1565 further comprises a java-scriptthat ensures that all of the text entry controls are properly populated with text. Once the java-scripthas determined that the new user has properly filled out the form, the java-scriptcomposes an SQL request to add a data record to the user list database 220 and to the supplemental information database 350. The data received from the new user is populated into the new records in both databases according the field names corresponding to the acquisition of the information.
The name of the contestant is retrieved from the user list database 220 by using the identification number 225 as a key into the table. The user's first and last name are retrieved from those respective fields 240 and 230. The number of points that the contestant has earned is retrieved from the supplemental information database 350, specifically from the points earned field 445.
In the present embodiment, the play options include a preferred game command button 1335 and a secondary preference button 1340. The personalized welcome page 1310 is composed by the ACS 55 based on the user's preferences as recorded in the propensities database 530. One of the propensity categories stored in the propensities database 530 indicates the users two most favorite games of chance. These are used to configure the personalized web page 1310 preferred 1335 and secondary 1340 command buttons. In the case depicted in the figure, the user's first and second preferences are the games called PrizeSpin and Black Jack, respectively. In the event that the contestant wants to engage in team play, a mean to aggregate points with the achievements of other contestant, the contestant can actuate the team play command button 1345. If the contestant would like to play other games, the other games command button 1350 can be selected. These two command buttons direct the web browser to either the team management GUI (web page) 1355 or the games-to-play web page 1360. At this juncture, the contestant can select any one of the command buttons to navigate to the next desired GUI. Any of the advertisements included in the web page further comprise a hyperlink that will direct the web browser to the advertisers web page.
When the team management web page 1355 is first presented to the contestant, only the team captain and team name controls are initialized. The contestant can then select one of the team names that are included in the team name drop down control 1365. Once the user has selected one of the team names, the java-script attached to the web page will compose an SQL query to retrieve additional information about that team. The SQL query includes, but is not limited to retrieving the category of a prize and the item of a prize (object category field 630 and object item field 630) that the user previously selected as that team's objective, the number of points the team must earn to secure the prize objective (offered price field 640) and the date by which the team must attain the total number of required points (expire date field 650). If the object item is not defined (i.e. a null value is returned in response to the SQL query), then the java-script will populate the item control 1375 with an enumeration of all of the items available in the selected category. This is accomplished by retrieving all of the items defined in the Prize Pool database 970 where the category field 980 is equal to the category value returned from the teams database. If the object has not been previously defined, then the java-scriptwill retrieve a list for all prize categories found in the Prize Pool database 970 and populate the category drop down control 1370 with that enumeration. Once the contestant selects a prize category and item for a team, that selection can not be changed.
The system will determine the total number of points that the team must earn before it can redeem the prize. This is done by retrieving price (in points) of the prize (field 1070) from the prize pool database 970. This price is stored in the teams database 590, offered price field 640. The java-scriptwill retrieve the number of points (teams database 590, offered price field 640) and the expiration date (teams database 590, expire date field 650) of the collaborative objective offer and present these in the two text display controls 1380 and 1385.
The team management web page 1355 further comprises a team mates control 1400. The team mates control 1400 is managed by the java-scriptattached to the web page and is updated whenever a team mate is added or dropped or when the web page is first presented to the contestant. In order to update the team mates control 1400, the java-scriptretrieves a list of all of the team mates affiliated with the team from the team mate database 660. Using the contestants identification number as a primary key (ID number field 670), the java-script composes an SQL query to retrieve all of the team member identification numbers (field member ID 690) for the given team name (team name field 680). The SQL query also retrieves the number of points each team member has earned toward the objective. This information is then presented in the team mates control 1400. The team mates control 1400 is a scrollable text field arranged in a cellular structure.
When the Java applet begins executing, the graphical user interface is created and managed directly by the program applet. When a contestant actuates the spin command button 1775, the Java applet will cause the cylinder emulators 1765 to begin scrolling through a series of prize selections. The cylinder emulators will be stopped in sequential order. Before the contestant again spins the cylinders, the contestant can freeze any number of the cylinders to maintain the prize currently portrayed on the cylinder.
Whenever the contestant freezes a prize, the system infers that the contestant is interested in winning that prize. This inference is manifest as an entry in the user propensity database 530. The Java applet creates an SQL request to add a record to the propensity database 530 with the ID number field 540 set to the current contestant identification number and the ordinal field 550 set to the next sequential number. The propensity type field 560 is set to indicate a prize preference propensity and the value field 570 is set to indicate the prize category and item. The date that the event occurred is also stored in the date field 580. A new propensity record is added to the propensity database 530 whenever the contestant freezes a prize. This means that a plurality of propensity records will be created if a contestant chooses to freeze multiple cylinders for the same prize. In the present embodiment, the act of freezing a cylinder will result in a debit of points to the contestant's account. Since freezing a cylinder costs the contestant in terms or points, the inference that the frozen cylinder is important to the contestant can be further sustained.
The cylinder emulator 1765 has another novel utility. Some of the images shown on the cylinder are advertisements. When a cylinder stops scrolling, the Java applet will present the advertisement in a presentation window on the cylinder.
The present invention endeavors to collect statistics by monitoring the contestant's activities. Several mechanisms are employed in the effort to profile a contestant. These mechanisms are described here but can also be summarized as a inferential mechanisms in that the system attempts to profile each contestant based on their behavior during game play.
As contestants use the system, the system tracks the number of minutes each contestant plays each game of chance. Each game of chance is implemented as a Java applet. That Java applet will note the time at which the contestant started playing the game. When the contestant stops playing the game, the Java applet will again read the time of day and subtract the start time from the end time. This difference will be accumulated to the users play preference. This accumulation is accomplished by composing an SQL request to create a new record in the user statistics database 450. The new record is then populated with the next sequential ordinal number (ordinal field 470) and the type 480 and subtype 490 fields set to indicate the type of game being played. The value field 500 is set with the total number of minutes played and the record date 510 is also recorded. Whenever the contestant returns to the system, the statistics database 450 is consulted and all records having the users identification number and that have game play information are extracted from the database by the web server executing in ACS 55. The ACS 55 will then determine what the contestants two favorite games are when a personalized welcome page is created for the user.
The present invention further comprises a collection of games that are implemented as Java applets. These Java applets are attached to web pages that are loaded by the client side browser upon selection of that game by the contestant. When a contestant plays any game of chance in the system, the Java applet will send propensity records to the ACS 55 in order to record product preferences or spending propensities of that contestant.
As the player plays any of the games offered by the system, the game applet will retrieve personal attributes about the contestant from the user list database 220, from the user supplemental database 350 and from the user propensities database 530 using an SQL query. When a game applet offers a plurality of prizes that the contestant can win, prizes are selected from the prize pool database 970 based on either personal attributes or a correlation of certain propensities the player is exhibiting to the prize categories.
The prize pool database 970 may have a plurality of categories including, but not limited to:
Because some prizes will be appealing to more than one category, a prize record may be duplicated in the prize pool database 970 so that the identical prize item will appear in more than one category.
Prize categories are selected based on the personal attributes or based on propensities. As users play a game, their propensities will be updated according to their game play activity. A propensity record will be appended to the propensity database 530.
Each advertisement record is stored with the name of the advertiser in field 790 and the name of the advertisement 800. The negotiated cost of presenting the advertisement to contestants is also stored in the cost per thousands (CPM) field 810. The saturation level of the advertisement is stored in the field of the same name 820. The saturation level is a multiplier that results in preferential presentation among advertisements in a category. Advertisements with a greater saturation level value will be presented more frequently than those with a smaller saturation value.
As the advertisement is presented to users, the system will keep track of the number of impressions of the advertisement that are presented. This is done directly by the ACS 55 when web pages are composed. Advertisements can be in many different forms, as an illustrative example, advertisements can be simple graphic images, animated graphics, interactive multimedia presentations, audio or video clips. The advertisement pool database 770 stores a reference to a source file (field 850) for the advertisement. An appropriate companion, extension or plug-in is used in conjunction with the browser in order to display an advertisement.
Advertisements are also presented by the Java applets that embody the plurality of games of chance that the contestants can play. In the event that a Java applet needs to present an advertisement, the applet will send a request to the ACS 55 to retrieve a reference to an advertisement. Once the applet receives the reference, it retrieves the source file from the ACS 55 and then displays the advertisement to the contestant. When the ACS 55 provides a reference to a Java applet, it increments the impression counter (field 830) for that advertisement.
The present invention presents advertisements in accordance with preferences attributed to each individual contestant. As disclosed earlier, each contestant using the system is profiled. The propensities database is processed on a period basis, currently one week but the period is adjustable as needs dictate. The processing of the propensity database 530 comprises the extraction of any products that the contestant favors over the proceeding plurality of processing periods. The resulting list of products is then sorted by product category and the resulting categories are again stored in the propensities database 530.
When the system needs to present an advertisement, the preferences for product categories are retrieved from the propensities database 530 and an advertisement is selected from the advertisement pool database 770 in a random manner having a matching category. Of course, where there are a plurality of advertisements in a category, the selection is weighted according to the saturation level (field 820) for each of the advertisements.
Many of the games of chance that are presented in the system are sponsored. Sponsorships are, in essence, super ads. These super ads are presented to the contestant for the duration of game play and are categorized.
As is the case with any advertisement, a sponsorship message can be in any multimedia form supported by the system.
The system charges additional fees for referring a contestant to an advertisers or sponsors web site. Every advertisement presented to a contestant by the system, including sponsorship, is in the form of:
This hyperlink first causes a special referral page to be loaded. The referral page is called “reference”. The actual address of the advertisers web page is passed to the referral page as an argument. The referral page has an attached java-scriptthat uses the web page address to as an indicator that the corresponding advertiser should be charged for a referral. This is recorded by incrementing the referral field 870 of the advertisement pool database. Optionally, the system can use the userID to record the contestant that requested the referral.
In the event that the advertisement is a sponsorship presentation, the form of the hyperlink is:
The present invention establishes a probability level for the awarding prizes and or points. The odds that a particular prize will be awarded directly by a game-of-chance is established by monitoring the number of contestants vying for the prize. The odds of wining a prize are also based on the number of advertising impressions that must be presented in order to ensure overall profitability for the system operator.
In the present embodiment, the odds of winning a prize are first calculated as a function of:
The first imperative in setting odds of winning is that the difference in the cost the prize must be less than the amount of revenue received as a result of advertising revenue.
A contestant can receive prizes either by winning the prize at the calculated probability, or the contestant can redeem points won or purchased toward the prize.
Many advertisers and sponsors will want to purchase marketing data directly from the system operator. Marketing data is tracked for every contestant registered in the user list database 220. The marketing data is stored in the propensities database 530. On a periodic basis, the period of which is definable to the system operator, the billing server 56 will retrieve the user list database 220 and the propensities database 530 and store copies of these databases in the billing server. The billing server will then create a report of buying propensities that describes the interest level of each contestant in product categories and specific prizes and/or promotions. This report will be e-mailed to a purchaser using an electronic shopping facility. The electronic shopping facility will then print an invoice using as printer 57 or it will debit the purchasers account using a special electronic fund transfer interface 58.
Contestants compete in play using points. Points must be purchased before a player can play a game of chance. A billing GUI requires the contestant to enter a credit card number, expiration date and the name on the card. This information is stored in the user supplemental information database 350, the credit card field 430. As points are purchased, the number of points available for that contestant is adjusted accordingly. The number of points available is also stored in the user supplemental information database 350. The points available are stored in a field with the same name 435. The billing server 56 will use the special transaction interface 58 to obtain credit card authorization from the issuing bank.
The system adheres to a monthly billing cycle for advertisers and sponsors, although the billing period can be adjusted to suit the needs to the system operator. Upon initiation, the billing server (
At the end of the billing cycle, the billing databases are again copied from the ACS 55 into a separate set of files in the billing server 56. The copies retained by the billing server 56 as the end of a billing cycle will become the initial databases for the subsequent billing cycle.
Once the databases are copied, the billing server 56 will discover any differences in the total impression count and the referral count for each advertiser and sponsor. These differences will be the basis for billing the advertisers and sponsors for presenting their multimedia messages. Billing can be accomplished either by printing invoices using a printer 57 or by conducting electronic debit transactions to the advertisers or sponsors bank account using a special interface 58.
The final step in the billing cycle is to determine which advertisements and sponsorships have expired. This is done with the aid of an off-line database. The billing server 56 will then compose an SQL command to remove the records for each of the expired advertisements and sponsorships from the working billing databases maintained in the ACS 55.
While this invention has been described in terms of several preferred embodiments, it is contemplated that alternatives, modifications, permutations, and equivalents thereof will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon a reading of the specification and study of the drawings. It is therefore intended that the true spirit and scope of the present invention include all such alternatives, modifications, permutations, and equivalents. Some, but by no means all of the possible alternatives are described herein.
The invention uses an SQL database engine and allows remote devices to interact with the databases using the structured query language. Any other suitable database management system that allows clients to interact with a main set of databases is sufficient to support the database needs of the present invention.
The invention employs a standard web browser that can present HTML web pages and execute java-scriptand Java applets. Other possible embodiments would include a custom web GUI definition language and psudo code executive. One such other implementation would be a multimedia presentation created in MacroMedia™ Flash™ MPEG-4 technology could likewise be utilized.
The invention is based on TCP/IP protocols. Other alternative, including the use of isochronous channels to carry multimedia to the client devices and asymmetrical protocols could also be used. Any suitable networking structure that provides for client sever interaction is an acceptable alternative to TCP/IP.
The invention is based on client device connected to computer network. Wireless devices such as PDA's and cell phones interface with slot machines to identify the contestant and then effect any financial transactions the contestant authorizes. Other alternatives include using wireless devices with other client devices such as a personal computer, a set-top box and a ubiquitous Internet appliance. Each client device contains a wireless network interface. The wireless network interface uses low-power radio-frequency communications to communicate with personal electronic devices such as PDA's and cell phones.
The wireless network interface incorporated into the invention uses a frequency-hopping scheme in conjunction with an encryption mechanism that supports secure transactions. The wireless network interface of the present invention conforms to the Bluetooth specification adopted by an industry consortium. It should be noted that any suitable wireless network interface can be utilized so long as secure transactions, wireless transactions with small personal devices can be accommodated. When a contestant first approaches the client device, the wireless network interface establishes a connection with the contestant's personal device. This connection allows the client device to identify the contestant and then effect any financial transactions the contestant authorizes.
The invention is based on a PGS wired to client devices. Another preferred embodiment includes the use of wireless communication devices employing wireless protocols to connect the client devices to the PGS. Monies are transferred to and from the PGS and the client devices. Transactions are secured using the Bluetooth specification as described previously.
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|International Classification||G06Q10/06, G06Q30/02, A63F13/00, A63F13/12, G07F17/32, A63F9/24|
|Cooperative Classification||G06Q30/0254, G06Q30/0267, G06Q30/0226, G07F17/3227, G06Q30/0222, G06Q30/0273, A63F13/12, G07F17/32, G06Q30/02, G06Q30/0253, G07F17/3239, G06Q30/0269, G06Q10/0637, G06Q30/0209|
|European Classification||G06Q30/02, G06Q30/0269, G06Q30/0226, G06Q30/0267, G07F17/32E6D2, G06Q30/0209, G07F17/32E2, A63F13/12, G06Q10/0637, G06Q30/0222, G07F17/32, G06Q30/0254, G06Q30/0253, G06Q30/0273|