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Publication numberUS20070093170 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/255,852
Publication dateApr 26, 2007
Filing dateOct 21, 2005
Priority dateOct 21, 2005
Also published asCN1951533A
Publication number11255852, 255852, US 2007/0093170 A1, US 2007/093170 A1, US 20070093170 A1, US 20070093170A1, US 2007093170 A1, US 2007093170A1, US-A1-20070093170, US-A1-2007093170, US2007/0093170A1, US2007/093170A1, US20070093170 A1, US20070093170A1, US2007093170 A1, US2007093170A1
InventorsYu Zheng
Original AssigneeYu Zheng
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Interactive toy system
US 20070093170 A1
Abstract
A system and a method for interactive play includes providing a base station having a processor, electrically coupling a doll to the base station, the doll having a memory which stores doll data relating to the doll, transferring the doll data to the processor, determining the identity of the doll, and electrically coupling a storage device to the base station, the storage device having a memory which stores instruction data. Next, it is determined whether an appropriate storage device has been coupled to the base station. The instruction data is transferred to the processor if the appropriate storage device has been coupled to the base station, and a response is emitted at the base station based on the doll data and the instruction data that has been transferred to the processor.
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Claims(14)
1. An interactive play system, comprising:
a. a base station having:
a holding area;
a processor;
means for receiving communication signals; and
means for presenting a message based on the communication signals received;
b. a doll retained in the holding area, the doll having:
a memory which stores doll data relating to the doll; and
means for communicating the doll data in the form of communication signals to the processor; and
c. a storage device having:
a memory which stores instruction data; and
means for communicating the instruction data in the form of communication signals to the processor.
2. The system of claim 1, further including an accessory associated with the doll, the accessory having:
a memory which stores accessory data relating to the accessory;
means for communicating the accessory data in the form of communication signals to the processor.
3. The system of claim 1, wherein the doll is a first doll, and further including a second doll having:
a memory which stores doll data relating to the second doll; and
means for communicating the doll data of the second doll in the form of communication signals to the processor.
4. The system of claim 1, wherein the storage device is a first storage device, and further including a second storage device having:
a memory which stores instruction data; and
means for communicating the instruction data of the second storage device in the form of communication signals to the processor.
5. The system of claim 1, wherein the base station is a first base station, and further including a second base station having:
a holding area;
a processor;
means for receiving communication signals; and
means for presenting a message based on the communication signals received.
6. The system of claim 1, wherein the presenting means includes a speaker and a screen.
7. The system of claim 1, wherein the base station further includes a control mechanism.
8. The system of claim 1, wherein the receiving means for the base station includes an antenna.
9. The system of claim 1, wherein the receiving means for the base station includes a port.
10. The system of claim 1, wherein the communicating means for the doll comprises an antenna.
11. The system of claim 1, wherein the communicating means for the storage device comprises a port.
12. The system of claim 1, wherein the instruction data includes software.
13. A method of interactive play, comprising:
a. providing a base station having a processor;
b. electrically coupling a doll to the base station, the doll having a memory which stores doll data relating to the doll;
c. transferring the doll data to the processor;
d. determining the identity of the doll;
e. electrically coupling a storage device to the base station, the storage device having a memory which stores instruction data;
f. determining whether an appropriate storage device has been coupled to the base station;
g. transferring the instruction data to the processor if the appropriate storage device has been coupled to the base station; and
h. emitting a response at the base station based on the doll data and the instruction data that has been transferred to the processor.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein the instruction data includes software programs, and further including:
h. executing at least one software program at the processor.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to toys, and in particular, to an interactive doll system.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Interactive toys have become increasingly popular in recent times. Children enjoy playing with toys that communicate or respond to different selections or prompts from the player. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,663,393 (Ghaly) U.S. Pat. No. 5,607,336 (Lebensfeld et al.), U.S. Pat. No. 6,648,719 (Chan) and U.S. Pat. No. 6,585,556 (Smirnov) all disclose toys, dolls or action figures who act or respond based on some activation by the user, or by the surrounding events.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

It is an object of the present invention to provide an interactive doll system which provides a wide variety of responses and play.

It is another object of the present invention to provide an interactive doll system which provides different responses based on different selections made by the user.

In order to accomplish the objects of the present invention, the present invention provides a system and a method for interactive play, including (i) providing a base station having a processor, (ii) electrically coupling a doll to the base station, the doll having a memory which stores doll data relating to the doll, (iii) transferring the doll data to the processor, (iv) determining the identity of the doll, (v) electrically coupling a storage device to the base station, the storage device having a memory which stores instruction data; (vi) determining whether an appropriate storage device has been coupled to the base station, (vii) transferring the instruction data to the processor if the appropriate storage device has been coupled to the base station, and (ix) emitting a response at the base station based on the doll data and the instruction data that has been transferred to the processor.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an interactive doll system according to one embodiment of the present invention with the doll shown positioned in the doll station.

FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of the doll station of the system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view of the doll station of the system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of the base of the doll station of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram illustrating the electrical components of the system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a rear perspective view of a doll according to one embodiment that can be used with the system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a flow chart illustrating one possible flow of operation for the system of the present invention.

FIG. 8A illustrates a chip that can be used in connection with an accessory according to the present invention.

FIGS. 8B-8G illustrate various accessories that can be used with the system of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a multi-doll system that utilizes the principles of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The following detailed description is of the best presently contemplated modes of carrying out the invention. This description is not to be taken in a limiting sense, but is made merely for the purpose of illustrating general principles of embodiments of the invention. The scope of the invention is best defined by the appended claims.

As used herein, the term “doll” is not limited solely to a fashion doll or play doll, but encompasses figurines, action figures, toy animals, plush toys, miniature animals, or any miniaturized or toy version of any living creature.

The present invention provides a doll system 20 which provides for interactive play between the system 20 and the user. The user can select different play programs which will (i) lead or direct the user to perform different tasks for the doll, or (ii) display or exhibit different emotions or responses.

FIG. 1 illustrates the basic components of an interactive doll system 20 according to one embodiment of the present invention. In its most basic form, the system 20 includes a doll 22, a doll station 24 and a storage device 26. However, as explained hereinbelow, the system 20 can also include a plurality of dolls 22, a plurality of doll stations 24, and a plurality of storage devices 26, all of which can be utilized to create a multi-variety interactive game system.

The storage device 26 can have a housing 28 that houses any conventional and well-known medium that includes a memory 30 (see FIG. 5) for storing digital data. The memory 30 can be embodied in the form of a memory card or cartridge or any other conventional storage medium, including a RAM, a ROM, or any writeable memory. The housing 28 can be ornamentally configured according to a given theme (e.g., princess theme) for the system, and can also include a communication (e.g., input/output) port 32 which is adapted to be removably coupled to a communication (e.g., input/output) port 34 at the doll station 24. The memory 30 can be adapted to store programs (software) for controlling the operation of the doll station 24, as described below. The memory 30 can also be adapted to store data that can be transferred to the doll station 24. Such data can include verbal or written messages, pre-recorded statements, sounds, music, light shows and other similar responses that can be displayed on the display screen 36 at the doll station 24, or emitted from the speaker 38 at the doll station 24. As used herein, the display screen 36 and the speaker 38 are mechanisms used by the system 20 to present a message. In addition, the system 20 can provide a plurality of different storage devices 26, with each storage device 26 storing software and/or data for different applications. For example, one storage device 26 can contain software and data directed to a princess doll application, another storage device 26 can contain software and data directed to a beach application, another storage device 26 can contain software and data directed to a party application, and another storage device 26 can contain software and data directed to a safari application, among others. The user can vary his/her play variety by selecting the desired storage device 26 for a desired application.

In addition, the storage device 26 be coupled to a personal computer PC (see FIG. 5) to download new programs (either from the PC or from the Internet) that can be used to play the system 20.

The doll station 24 is adapted to hold a doll 22 during use. Referring to FIGS. 2-3, the doll station 24 has a base 40, a rear wall 42, and a roof 44. Referring to FIG. 4, the base 40 has a base housing 46 and a front panel 48. The base housing 46 defines an interior space 50 for holding the doll 22, and has an opening 52 in its front wall 54 for receiving the front panel 48. The front panel 48 houses the electronics (see FIG. 5) of the doll station 24, which includes a processor 56 and a memory 58. The memory 58 can be used to store basic operating instructions for the processor 56, in which case the memory 58 can be embodied in the form of a ROM. Alternatively, the memory 58 can be used to store some or all of the programs, with the memory 30 on the storage device 26 used primarily for storing data that can be utilized to control or change the operation parameters of the programs stored in the memory 58. Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, the communication port 34, the speaker 38 and the display screen 36 are provided on the front panel 48, and are all coupled to the processor 56. The front panel 48 can also include a control pad 60 and control buttons 62. The port 34 functions to allow data and instructions to be transferred from the memory 30 in the storage device 26 to the processor 56 in the front panel 48. The screen 36 functions to display words, images, colors, and patterns that are in response to instructions or data provided by the storage device 26 or the doll 22. The speaker 38 emits sounds to provide vocal instructions and music. The speaker 38 and the screen 36 are both controlled by the processor 56. The control pad 60 and the buttons 62 are coupled to the processor 56 to provide control signals to the processor 56, so that user can control the operation of the system 20 by controlling the pad 60 and the buttons 62. For example, the user can press selected buttons 62, or control the pad 60, to select desired play modes or features, or to perform any of the play functions described hereinbelow.

Referring to FIG. 3, the base 40 can be provided with a battery compartment accessed by a battery cover 64. Conventional batteries 66 (see FIG. 5) can be housed inside the battery compartment, and coupled to the electronics to power the operation of the doll station 24.

The rear wall 42 extends from the top rear portion of the base 40, and is slightly curved to define a background wall for the doll 22. An optional window 68 can be provided in the rear wall 42 for ornamental or functional (e.g., provide access) purposes. In addition, an antenna 70 can be provided in the rear wall 42 (see FIG. 3), with the antenna 70 coupled to the electronics shown in FIG. 5 via wiring (not shown) that extends through the base housing 46 and the front panel 48.

The roof 44 is optional, and can be attached to the top of the rear wall 42 to provide a cover or shade for the doll 22 when the doll 22 is positioned inside the base 22. A handle (not shown) can be provided on top of the roof 44 to provide a means for the user to carry the doll station 24.

As shown in FIG. 1, the interior space 50 of the base 40 is adapted to hold a doll 22 with the doll 22 in the standing position. The doll 22 would be positioned in front of the rear wall 42, and below the roof 44. The user can insert the doll 22 into this interior space via the open front space defined by the roof 44, the base 40 and the rear wall 42. Even though the present embodiment illustrates the doll 22 as being positioned in a standing position, it is also possible to size and configure the base housing 46, the rear wall 42 and the roof 44 to accomodate the doll 22 in any desired position (sitting, standing, etc.).

Referring to FIG. 6, the doll 22 is provided with a chip 72 that is secured in a slot 74 that is cut out from the torso 76 of the doll 22. Referring to FIG. 5, the chip 72 includes a memory 78 that is coupled to a controller 82 that is in turn coupled to an antenna 80. The antenna 80 is adapted to communicate with the electronics in the base 40 via the antenna 70 in the rear wall 42. In addition, a small battery 84 can be fitted into part of the slot 74 to power the chip 72. The battery 84 can be embodied in the form of a small watch battery. The memory 80 in the doll 22 contains data which identifies the doll 22 and certain characteristics of the doll 22. These characteristics can include the name, age, height, weight, size, likes, dislikes, mood, requests, type of voice (low-pitch, high-pitch, soft, loud, etc.), and any other characteristic (e.g., shy, outgoing, gregarious, etc.) that can be ascribed to a doll. Data corresponding to desired characteristics can be transferred from the memory 80 to the doll station 24 to activate different responses (e.g., verbal or written messages, pre-recorded statements, sounds, music, light shows, etc.) that can be displayed on the display screen 36 at the doll station 24, or emitted from the speaker 38 at the doll station 24.

When the doll 22 is placed inside the interior space 50 of the base 40, the antenna 70 and 80 will be positioned adjacent to each other, and be capable of communicating with each other. In one non-limiting embodiment of the present invention, the antenna 70 and 80 can be selected to be short-range antennas that can only communicate wireless signals over a short distance. The use of such short-range antenna would ensure that the doll 22 be positioned in, or in close proximity to, the base 40 before that particular doll 22 can be the subject of the play. This can be an effective scheme if the manufacturer provides more than one type of doll 22, each having an antenna 80. If longer range antennas 70 and 80 were to be used for a multi-doll system 20, the antenna 70 at the base 40 could be receiving signals from multiple dolls 22, which might confuse the processor 56. Next, the characteristics of the doll 22 are transferred to the processor 56 at the doll station 24 (see step 102 below). In addition, as described below, the user can select a desired application by selecting one of a variety of storage devices 26.

FIG. 7 is a flowchart that illustrates one one-limiting flow of play for the system 20. In a first step 100, the doll 22 is placed inside the interior space 50 of the base 40. In step 102, the processor 56 identifies the doll 22 in the manner described above, and receives the characteristics of the doll 22. For example, the system 20 can be provided with a plurality of different dolls 22 that can all be used with the same doll station 24. Thus, the identity of the doll 22 is determined in step 102. Next, in step 104, the user selects a storage device 26 and inserts it into the front panel 48. In step 106, the processor 48 identifies the selected storage device 26 (e.g., via signals from the memory 30 to the processor 56 that are communicated via the ports 32 and 34) and determines whether the selected storage device 26 can be used with the selected doll 22. For example, some of the storage devices 26 have applications that cannot be used with some of the dolls 22 in the system 20, and step 106 functions to determine whether the user has selected a compatible storage device 26 (i.e., application). If the selected storage device 26 is not compatible with the selected doll 22, the processor 48 will cause a message to be displayed on the screen 36, or announced through the speaker 38, in step 108, informing the user that an incompatible storage device 26 has been selected. If the selected storage device 26 is compatible with the selected doll 22, in step 110, the processor 48 will download the different software programs from the memory 30 in the storage device 26, and display the various choices in the form of a menu on the screen 36. Then, in step 112, the user can select the desired program for play, which is then executed in step 114. At the end of the execution of the selected program, processing returns to step 112 where the user can again select the next program for play.

Even though the flow of the present invention is described as including the use of a menu displaying various selections of programs, it is also possible to provide each storage device 26 with only one selection, so that a menu would be unnecessary.

A variety of different programs can be provided for selection by the user. These programs can be based on any of the following: (i) the characteristics of the doll 22 that have been downloaded from the memory 78 on the chip 72, (ii) the nature of the environment portrayed by the doll station 24, and (iii) the programs and/or theme of the selected storage device 26. These programs can also be independent of any of these parameters. The following are a few non-limiting examples of programs that can be stored in the memory 30 for play on the doll station 24.

EXAMPLE 1

The processor 56 causes the speaker 38 to emit an instruction, such as “I'm cold, please put a jacket on me”. The user then goes to his/her doll accessories, takes a doll jacket and dresses the doll 22 with a jacket.

EXAMPLE 2

The processor 56 causes the speaker 38 to emit an instruction, such as “I would like to go to the beach”. The user then takes the doll 22 out of the base 40 and takes the doll 22 to another doll station 24 that represents a beach environment, and inserts the doll 22 into the base 40 of the beach doll station 24. The steps outlined in FIG. 7 are executed with respect to the beach doll station 24, and the play continues.

EXAMPLE 3

The processor 56 causes the speaker 38 to emit an instruction, such as “I would like to play with a friend”. The user then takes a different (second) doll 22 and places it adjacent the doll station 24 so that the two dolls 22 can supposedly play with each other. The steps outlined in FIG. 7 are executed with respect to the second doll 22 and the station 24, and the play continues.

EXAMPLE 4

The processor 56 causes the screen 36 to display a colorful message, accompanied by music from the speaker 38. This performance can reflect the identity of the doll 22. For example, if the doll 22 is intended to be a happy doll, the screen 36 can be caused to display bright and colorful images, and the speaker 38 can broadcast cheerful music. On the other hand, if the doll 22 is intended to be an evil doll, the screen 36 can be caused to display malicious or dark images, and the speaker 38 can broadcast somber music. These performances can be used to reflect the attitude, character, emotions or mood of the doll 22.

EXAMPLE 5

In one non-limiting embodiment of the present invention, the accessories that accompany the doll 22 can be provided with chips similar to chip 72 that allow for the accessory to communicate with the doll station 24. For example, FIGS. 5 and 8A illustrate a chip 172 that can be provided for use with an accessory. The chip 172 has an antenna 180 that is coupled to a memory 178 and a controller 182, which can be the same as the memory 78 and the controller 82, respectively. The antenna 180 allows the chip 172 to communicate with the processor 56 via the antenna 70. The memory 178 in the chip 172 stores data identifying the characteristics of the intended accessory. The antenna 180 can be the same as the antenna 80, and can be a short-range antenna.

FIGS. 8B-8G illustrate various accessories that incorporate a chip 172, such as a hat 130 (FIG. 8B), a hair brush 132 (FIG. 8C), a pair of boots 134 (FIG. 8D), a skirt 136 (FIG. 8E), a blouse 138 (FIG. 8F), and a pair of trousers 140 (FIG. 8G). Any of these accessories can be used or carried by the doll 22. For example, the doll 22 could be wearing the blouse 138 when it is placed inside the base 40. The chip 172 on the blouse 138 would communicate with the processor 56 (via the antennas 70 and 180) to identify the blouse 138. If the blouse 138 is not the correct blouse 138 for the particular doll 22, the processor 56 can cause a message to be delivered (either via the speaker 38 or the screen 36) stating that “the blouse does not belong to this doll”. As another example, if the program decides that the doll 22 is supposed to wear another article of clothing, the program can cause the processor 56 to deliver a message (via the speaker 38 or the screen 36) stating that “I do not like to wear this blouse; please dress me with another article of clothing”. The same play examples can be provided for any accessory.

Alternatively, a program from the memory 30 can cause the speaker 38 or the screen 36 to emit an instruction, such as “Please give me my hair brush”. The user then takes the hair brush 132 and places it in the doll's hand. The chip 172 on the hair brush 132 would communicate with the processor 56 (via the antennas 70 and 180) to identify the hair brush 132. If the user inadvertently places the wrong accessory (e.g., the hat 130) on the doll 22, the processor 56 can cause the speaker 38 or the screen 36 to emit a message informing the user that the wrong accessory has been chosen.

EXAMPLE 6

The processor 56 causes the speaker 38 to emit an instruction, such as “I want to dance”. The user then takes the doll 22 out of the base 40 and plays with the doll 22, pretending that the doll 22 is dancing. During this time, the speaker 38 can be broadcasting dance music, and the screen 36 can be displaying bright lights and other images.

EXAMPLE 7

The processor 56 can recognize and store information relating to the programs selected by the user, play patterns of the user, or anything related to the use and play of the system 20. This information can be transferred to the memory 30 in the storage device 26 via ports 34 and 32. The user can select such recognition and storage functions by manipulating the control buttons 62 and/or the control pad 60. The information in the memory 30 can then be transferred by the storage device 26 to a PC where the information can be analyzed, processed and stored for any desired purpose.

EXAMPLE 8

FIG. 9 illustrates the provision of a multi-doll system 20 a, where a plurality of dolls 22 a (each of which can be the same in construction as the doll 22) can be electrically coupled to a plurality of doll sub-stations 24 a (each of which can be the same in principle as the base 40). The sub-stations 24 a can be part of a larger doll station 24 b. Each sub-station 24 a can have its own antenna or communication device, but an additional antenna 70 a (or communication device) can be provided to facilitate communication between the doll station 24 b and any (or all) of the dolls 24 a.

While the description above refers to particular embodiments of the present invention, it will be understood that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit thereof. The accompanying claims are intended to cover such modifications as would fall within the true scope and spirit of the present invention. As a non-limiting example, even though the present invention illustrates the use of antennas to facilitate communication between the doll station 24 and the doll 22 and accessories, it is also possible to use wires and other known electrical couplings to facilitate such communication. Also, the wired communication between the ports 32 and 34 can be replaced by wireless communication utilizing separate antennas at the locations of the ports 32 and 34.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7645178 *Dec 20, 2005Jan 12, 2010Trotto Laureen AVirtual world toy doll system
US8287372Sep 26, 2007Oct 16, 2012Mattel, Inc.Interactive toy and display system
US20130196770 *Mar 13, 2013Aug 1, 2013Creative Kingdoms, LlcCustomizable toy for playing a wireless interactive game having both physical and virtual elements
Classifications
U.S. Classification446/268
International ClassificationA63H3/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63H3/36, A63H3/50, A63H2200/00
European ClassificationA63H3/36, A63H3/50
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 21, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: PATENT CATEGORY CORP., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:ZHENG, YU;REEL/FRAME:017131/0780
Effective date: 20051019