CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/390,271.
1. Field of Invention
The present invention relates generally to the area of electronic entertainment and educational devices and, more specifically, to a device that allows a user to play games.
2. Description of Prior Art
There are different kinds of game devices in existence for users to play games. Those devices include TV game consoles like Nitendo's GameCube, Sony's PS2, Microsoft's Xbox, or interactive learning platform like Leapfrog's leappad that allows users to play games with books, or game software for computers. Usually those devices need an input device for the game device to know the position of a user's intention. Joysticks are very common input devices for users to play games on TV game consoles and computers. Also, Leapfrog's leappad uses a RF pen to serve an input device for the interactive learning platform. Since the leappad system would need a sensory board underneath a book or a board game, the sensory board would limit the size of a book or a board game.
In a US patent published application, numbered 20040180316, an interactive book system based on ultrasonic position determination is described. The system responds to where a user points, but the system doesn't include any game rules found in other game devices, thus it makes the system less entertaining.
Ultrasonic technique has been used in different industries, robotics use the technique for obstacle avoidance by measuring the time elapsed between transmitted ultrasonic waves and received echoed ultrasonic wave. Also, there existed beacons that could track the position of robotics by triangulation of ultrasonic wave. Since those systems were not designed for game system, so game rules were not explored by those systems.
There are virtual reality systems or location tracking systems that use ultrasonic triangulation for position and movement measurement, like Logitech Tracker (http://www.vrealities.com/logitech.html). Since those systems serve as an input peripheral to personal computers or workstations, the system itself does not incorporate any game rule. Also, the cost of those systems are very high, due to its use of more than 2 ultrasonic receivers necessary to determine a position in a 2 dimensional space.
There are also computer input devices like mimio (www.mimio.com) that uses ultrasonic technique to track the position of a pen, and provide input to personal computers or workstations. But like digital tablet, those systems are used for computer input. The input device itself does not incorporate any game rules.
It is an object of present invention to provide a new game device.
It is another object of the present invention to add game rules as new elements to interactive book system based on ultrasonic position determination;
It is an additional object of the present invention to provide a device that allows intuitive operation;
It is another object of the present invention to provide a flexible device that works with any properly designed game content software.
It is another object of the present invention to operate with 3D objects located on 2D surface.
These and other objects are accomplished by an ultrasonic position determination device, together with a surface, a control unit and a response unit, with the addition of game rules. The surface is 2 dimensional essentially. Material of the surface is not limited to particular form. The surface would have visual icons on it, the types of visual icons include but not limited to picture, text, photos, etc.
A typical game rule is question and answer, the control and response unit asks the user a question according to the game rule, the user has to answer it by pointing a particular visual icon on the surface. If the visual icon corresponds to the right answer, then the control and response unit could generate encouraging sound like “Excellent” or add a score to the user. There are numerous other game rules, including but not limited to tracing dots, walking mazes, etc.
The interactive surface game system comprises of an ultrasonic position determination device, a surface, a control unit, a response unit and game rules. The ultrasonic position determination device includes a pointing unit and a base unit. A user positions the pointing unit to select a visual icon that he or she is interested in on a surface. The pointing unit and base unit together determine the coordinate that the user selects. This coordinate is input to the control unit, then the control unit would search for the response data, e.g. sound, then present the response data to the user via a response unit, e.g. a speaker. Also, game rules such as question and answer are added to the system, so it is more entertaining. The pointing unit could be in any shape, including but not limited to pen, airplane, truck, train, car, characters, etc. Also, it could be a remote controlled unit, for example, a R/C car. Also, the pointing unit could be tethered or cordless.
The pointing unit has at least one ultrasonic transducer, and the base unit has at least 2 ultrasonic transducers at a known distance with respective to each other. Thus, at least 2 time-of-flight of ultrasonic wave could be measured between pointing unit and base unit. Time-of-flight could be translated to distance given sound speed. And further, by means of triangulation, 2-dimensional coordinate could be determined with 2 distances between pointing unit and base unit. And 3-dimensional coordinate could be determined with 3 distances between pointing unit and base unit.
The control unit could be a micro-controller or an application specific IC that could accept position of pointing device as input, and search for response data corresponding to that position, then optionally processes (e.g. decodes) the found response data (e.g. ADPCM speech or MP3 music), then output the response data through designated response unit (e.g. a speaker). Also, the control unit would be able to process the game rule, and interact with user according to the game rule. For example, when a user answers correctly for a question by pointing at the right visual icon, the control unit could output encouraging sound or add a score.
The response data and game rule could be stored in internal data storage, e.g. NAND flash memory, masked ROM, etc. Or it could be stored in external data storage, e.g. nonvolatile Memory card, optical disk, hard disk, etc. Data storage could be accessed by control unit through various wired or wireless channel, e.g. data bus, USB port, RS-232 port, Bluetooth, 802.11b, Ethernet, etc.
The response unit could include various sensible outputs, e.g. speaker, LEDs, LCD, etc. It accepts input from control unit, and presents the response data to the user.
Since the present invention is capable of determining a user's selected point on a surface and producing corresponding sound or other sensible outputs, with game rules, the system provides an innovative surface game on a regular surface.
The objects and features of the present invention, which are believed to be novel, are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The present invention, both as to its organization and manner of operation, together with further objects and advantages, may best be understood by reference to the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 shows a regular surface with visual icons
FIG. 2 shows the functional block diagram of present invention
FIG. 3 outlines the principle of ultrasonic position determination device
FIG. 4 illustrates one embodiment of ultrasonic position determination device based on threshold
FIG. 5 shows one embodiment of logical organization of response data in data storage
FIG. 6 shows a regular surface having a plurality of visual icons and their corresponding rectangular area
FIG. 7 shows one embodiment of response unit
FIG. 8 shows the perspective view of an interactive surface game system
FIG. 9 is the open view of interactive surface game system
FIG. 10 is the perspective view of one embodiment of ultrasonic pointing unit system
REFERENCE NUMERALS IN DRAWINGS
FIG. 11 shows one embodiment of logical organization of game rules in data storage
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION
- 10 Regular surface
- 11 Surface number
- 13 Graphic
- 16 Text
- 200 Functional block diagram
- 201 Surface
- 210 Ultrasonic position determination device
- 213 Ultrasonic base unit
- 216 Ultrasonic pointing unit
- 220 Control unit
- 230 Data storage
- 240 Response unit
- 270 Control unit interface with ultrasonic position determination device
- 300 Triangulating position of ultrasonic pointing unit
- 310.a Ultrasonic transducer of base unit
- 310.b Ultrasonic transducer of base unit
- 313 Distance between 310.a and 310.b
- 320 Ultrasonic transducer of pointing unit
- 321.a Distance between 320 and 310.a
- 321.b Distance between 320 and 301.b
- 323 Coordinate of ultrasonic pointing unit
- 400 One embodiment of ultrasonic position determination device
- 410 Micro-controller
- 412 User trigger interrupt
- 422 Transmit ISR
- 424.a Receive ISR a
- 424.b Receive ISR b
- 426 Position calculation routine
- 430.a, 430.b Counter
- 433 4 MHz crystal oscillator
- 440 40 KHz pulse generator
- 450.a, 450.b signal amplifier
- 453.a, 453.b signal comparator
- 500 One embodiment of organization of response data
- 510 Response data record
- 520 Identifier
- 530 Area descriptor
- 540 Response data
- 620 Upper-leftmost corner of rectangle
- 623 Length of rectangle
- 626 Width of rectangle
- 700 One embodiment of response unit
- 711 Audio driver software
- 713 Audio circuit
- 715 Speaker
- 721 LCD driver software
- 723 LCD driver circuit
- 725 LCD
- 731 LED driver software
- 733 LEDs driver circuit
- 735 LEDs
- 800 Preferred embodiment of present invention
- 841 Keypad
- 843 Power switch
- 850 Memory card
- 900 Open view of preferred embodiment 800
- 910 PCB
- 940 Micro controller of control unit
- 950 Micro-controller of ultrasonic position determination device
- 953 Memory card connector
- 961 ICs for driving speaker, LEDs, LCD
- 1000 One embodiment of ultrasonic pointing unit
- 1001 Tip of embodiment 1000
- 1003 Cable of embodiment 1000
- 1100 One embodiment of logical organization of game rules
- 1110 Game rule record
- 1120 Game rule ID
- 1130 Game data
- 1140 Action data
This chapter explains present invention in such greater detail so any person skilled in the art would be readily able to make a product based on the outlined principle. One preferred embodiment of present invention is shown, it is obvious that various embodiments could be derived from principle of present invention.
“Visual icon” used herein refers to graph, text, picture, photo or any other objects that conveys meanings through vision, a visual icon could be 2 or 3 dimensional.
“Surface” used herein could be of any material, including but not limited to paper, wood, plastics, stone, glass, acrylic, etc. And it could be of any area, including but not limited to table, floor, wall, book, map, mat, mirror.
“Data storage” used herein refers to any device that could store data, such as memory cards (e.g. compact flash card, smartmedia card, secure digital card, multimedia card, etc.), optical disk (e.g. CD-ROM, DVD-ROM), magnetic media (e.g. hard drive, tape).
“Response data” used herein refers to data that responds to a user's input. It could be data that represents sensible output such as sound, speech, music, flashing of LEDs (Light emitting devices), picture, video or motion emulation shown on LCD (Liquid crystal display), or control of internal components such as volume control, brightness control of LCD, change of surface, etc.
“Game rules” used herein refer to a collection of instructions that enable a user to play games. For example, a game rule consists of a question and an answer. In the question and answer game, the system asks the user a question, and it expects the user to give a right answer. In another example, a game rule is a tracing game that instructs the user to trace a letter, or an animal. There are numerous other types of game rules, including but not limited to walking a maze, memory game, matching game, etc.
FIG. 1 shows a regular surface 10. On surface 10, several graphics 13 and texts 16 exist. This regular surface 10 is not interactive by nature, since it does not accept user input nor produce output. An object of present invention is to provide game activity for a regular surface 10. Another object of present invention is intuitive usage, when a user points at a visual icon like graphic 13 or text 16 or surface number 11, a response would be immediately provided by present invention. It is another object of present invention to work with a regular surface that does not require special attachment of buttons or electronics on it. Those objects collectively would make this system more easy to use, more fun to use and cheaper to produce.
FIG. 2 depicts the functional block diagram 200 of presentation. It is shown that present invention consists of a surface 201, an ultrasonic position determination device 210, a control unit 220, data storage 230 and a response unit 240. Ultrasonic position determination device 210 further consists of an ultrasonic base unit 213 and an ultrasonic pointing unit 216. Ultrasonic pointing unit 216 is used by a user to point at a visual icon on a regular surface with visual icons 201 that he or she would like to interact with. Once said visual icon is pointed at, ultrasonic position determination device 210 would be able to calculate the coordinate of ultrasonic pointing unit 216. Said coordinate is input to control unit via interface 273. Based on said coordinate, control unit would search for response data correspond to it in data storage 230. Said response data could be processed and destine for its output via response unit 240, or it could be used as control data for other components like volume control. Response unit 240 may include a plurality of output such as speaker for audible response data, LEDs or LCD for visual effect. It is thus the great advantage of present invention, since it provides an intuitive way for a user to point at a visual icon then get the response. It is another great advantage of present invention since it employs ultrasonic position determination device 210.
Unlike prior arts that generally use a sensor board placed underneath surface, present invention doesn't require said sensor board, thus make it more economical to accommodate large and thick surface.
FIG. 3 outlines the principle 300 of ultrasonic position determination device. Ultrasonic base unit includes a pair of ultrasonic transducers 310.a and 310.b located apart at a known distance “W” 313. Ultrasonic pointing unit includes an ultrasonic transducer 320. Given measured distance “a” 321.a between transducers 310.a and 320, as well as distance “b” 321.b between transducers 310.b and 320. Position of ultrasonic pointing unit, (X, Y) 323, could be triangulated using “W” 313, “a” 321.a and “b” 321.b. The same principle could be applied to a 3 dimensional space as well. It is a known and mature technique to measure distance using ultrasonic wave, which derive distance by measuring time-of-flight of ultrasonic wave propagating between 2 corresponding ultrasonic transducers. A common technique is to measure time-of-flight by threshold.
FIG. 4 illustrates one embodiment 400 of ultrasonic position determination device based on threshold. The device decides arrival of ultrasonic wave when its received signal level exceeds a threshold. The use of threshold is to avoid wrong decision if background noise exists. A 4 MHz crystal oscillator 433 clocks 2 counters 430.a and 430.b, which are initially reset to zero. When a user points at a visual icon using ultrasonic pointing unit 216, an interrupt 412 to micro-controller 410 is triggered. Transmit interrupt service routine 422 is invoked to serve the interrupt, which in turn triggers the 40 KHz pulse generator 440 to produce 20 cycles of pulse, which in turn is converted to ultrasonic wave transmitted by ultrasonic transducer 320 of ultrasonic pointing unit 216. In the mean time, counters 430.a, 430.b are triggered to run according to the clock. Said transmitted ultrasonic wave propagates then is received by ultrasonic transducers 310.a, 310.b of ultrasonic base unit 213. Said received signals are amplified by stages of 450.a, 450.b respectively, then are compared against a threshold by comparators 453.a, 453.b respectively. Once signal level exceeds said threshold, comparator 453.a, 453.b produce a pulse respectively, which stops the running of counters 430.a, 430.b respectively. Interrupts 414.a, 414.b indicates the stop of counter 430.a and 430.b respectively. Receive interrupt service routines 424.a, 424.b serve interrupts 414.a, 414.b respectively. Receive interrupt service routines 424.a, 424.b read counters 430.a, 430.b respectively.
Counter values are converted to time by multiplying with period of 4 MHz crystal oscillator. Thus distance “a” 312.a between transducers 320 and 310.a could be calculated by multiplying time with sound-speed, so does distance “b” 312.b between transducers 320 and 310.b. Position calculation routine 426 is invoked to calculate the position (X, Y) 323 of ultrasonic pointing unit 216.
Other techniques exist to determine the position of ultrasonic pointing unit 216. In principle, they base on time-of-flight of ultrasonic wave.
Once position (X, Y) 323 of ultrasonic pointing unit 216 is determined. (X, Y) 323 serve as input to control unit 220. Based on (X, Y) 323, control unit 216 searches for response data corresponding to (X, Y) 323 in data storage 230. In accordance with present invention, FIG. 5 shows one embodiment 500 of logical organization of response data in data storage 230. Data storage 230 contains a set of response data records 510, each response data record 510 consists of identifier 520, area descriptor 530, response data 540. Identifier 520 is used to uniquely identify a response data record. Area descriptor 530 is used to approximate an area occupied by a visual icon using a rectangle. Area descriptor is represented in a vector form (P, X′, Y′, L, W), P denotes surface number, (X′, Y′) denotes coordinate of upper-leftmost point of said rectangle. L and H are the length and width of said rectangle, respectively. Response data 540 is data that responds to user. When control unit 220 receives position (X, Y) 323 of ultrasonic pointing unit 216, control unit 220 finds a response data record 510 whose associated area descriptor 530 having said rectangle covers (X, Y) 323. If a response data record is found, then control unit 220 retrieves the corresponding response data 540. Control unit 220 processes retrieved response data 540 according to its type. For example, it could decode ADPCM speech, MP3 music before direct them to audio output in response unit 240.
FIG. 6 shows a regular surface 10 having a plurality of visual icons. Area of each visual icon is approximated by a rectangle describing by a surface number P 11, coordinate of upper-leftmost point (X′, Y′) 620, length L 623, width 626. Once a visual icon is pointed at using ultrasonic point unit 216, the associated rectangle could thus be identified, and its associated response data 540 could be retrieved. Thus, the use of present invention is intuitive, since it provides “What you point is what you get” capability.
FIG. 7 shows one embodiment 700 of response unit 240. An audio circuit 713 drives a speaker 715 for audio output. Control unit 220 implements audio driver software 711 to output audio response data to audio circuit 713. A LCD driver circuit 723 drives a LCD for visual output. Control unit 220 implements LCD driver software 721 to output visual response data to LCD driver circuit. A LED driver circuit drives an array of LEDs. Control unit 220 implements LED driver software 731 to output visual response data. With the sound produced by speaker 715, graphics or video shown on LCD 735 or flashing LEDs 735, reading becomes an entertaining activity.
FIG. 8 shows the perspective view of an interactive book system 800 in accordance with present invention. Interactive book system 800 includes a surface 201. Surface 201 consists of at least one regular surface 10 on which several graphics 13 and texts 16 are printed. Interactive book system further includes an ultrasonic position determination device 210 (not shown on this Figure). Ultrasonic position determination device 210 further consists of an ultrasonic base unit 213 (not shown here) and an ultrasonic pointing unit 216. Ultrasonic pointing unit 216 has the shape of a pen, thus making it natural to use. Ultrasonic base unit 213 further includes 2 ultrasonic transducers 310.a and 310.b. Ultrasonic pointing unit 216 further includes an ultrasonic transducer 320. Interactive system book 800 further includes a memory card 850 where response data 500 is stored. Memory card 850 is accessible by control unit 220 (not shown on this Figure) to retrieve response data 540. Interactive system book 800 further includes a keypad 841 for user to enter surface number 11, and a power switch 843 for turning on or off the system. Interactive system book 800 further includes a response unit 240 (not shown on this Figure) to respond to a user's input. Response unit 240 further consists of a speaker 715, LEDs 735, a LCD 725. Excluding surface 201, interactive book system 800 could be made in a 6″×3″×2″ form, and it could work with surface 201 as large as 24″×24″×1″ (e.g. a big book of maps). Unlike prior arts, it would impossible or very expensive to make a system with capabilities of present invention.
FIG. 9 is the open view 900 of interactive book system 800. Components are mounted on a PCB 910. Components invisible in FIG. 8 are shown in this figure. Micro controller 940 is used in control unit 220. Micro-controller 950 is used in ultrasonic position determination device. There are ICs 961 for driving speaker, LCD and LEDs. And there is a connector 953 for memory card 850. Since the number of components of present invention is relatively small, so interactive book system 800 is relatively cheap to make.
FIG. 10 is the perspective view of one embodiment 1000 of an ultrasonic pointing unit 216 used in interactive book system 800. Embodiment 1000 is a pen like unit with a tip 1001. Once tip 1001 is pressed, interrupt 412 would be triggered. And pulses of 40 KHz ultrasonic waves would be transmitted from ultrasonic transducer 320. Beam angle of ultrasonic transducer 320 is omni-directional, so embodiment 1000 could be used with ease without careful orientation toward ultrasonic transducers 310.a, 310.b of ultrasonic base unit 213. Embodiment 1000 further includes a cable 1003 connecting to micro-controller 410. Since embodiment 1000 is a pen like unit, so interactive book system 800 is natural and intuitive to use.
FIG. 11 shows one embodiment 1100 of logical organization of game rules. The games rules are a collection of game rule records 11110. Each game rule 11110 consists of game rule ID 1120, game 1130 and action 1140. A game 1130 is a question 1150 and answer 1160. In present embodiment, the system would ask user a question 1150, then expect the right answer 1160, then adding scores if the user answers correctly.
In accordance with present invention, use of preferred embodiment 800
consists of following steps
- Turn on power of system by using power switch 843;
- Place a surface 10;
- Enter a surface number 11 by using keypad 841;
- Select a visual icon by using ultrasonic pointing unit 216;
- User would get immediate response corresponding to selected visual icon from speaker, LEDs or LCD.
- The system asks the user a question, then expects the user to answer The user answers the questions by pointing at a visual icon
- If the user answers correctly, the system would respond by adding a score or producing an encouraging sound.
The use of preferred embodiment 800 is shown to be easy, intuitive. The additional sound or visual effects provided by present invention could help engage users to interact with a surface with visual icons 201. It is particularly useful for language learning or storytelling, and make reading a more entertaining process. Also, it could make a tradition R/C toy to interact on the surface.
In accordance with present invention, principle of design and one preferred embodiment are shown in this chapter. It is clear that anyone skilled in the art would be readily to make different embodiments of present invention, thus the description herein should not be used to limit the scope of present invention.