US 20080004111 A1
A video game controller for home video game systems is situated between a player's feet and is used to detect positions outside the footprint of the controller. The controller transmits the position data to the video game system and enables game play. In dance games, the controller detects dance steps when the player dances around the controller. A signal is transmitted from locations at the perimeter of the controller, reflected by the player's foot, and then received back at the controller. In a preferred embodiment the location is detected as a function of the time the signal is transmitted/received and by the matrix of signals received. Modulation of the transmission and reception minimizes detection of noise and distant reflections and therefore minimizes or eliminates false position detection.
1. A game controller comprising:
a platform where a game player may stand from time to time,
the platform comprising a perimeter, the player's feet positioned around the perimeter of the central pad during game play; and
two or more position detection units, each position detection unit located at the perimeter of the pad,
each position detection unit comprising a first and a second group of illumination chambers, the first group spaced apart from the second group,
each position detection unit further comprising an optical receiver between the first and the second group,
wherein the intersection of a signal emitted from the first and group and a signal emitted from the second group defines a location of player's foot.
2. The game controller of
3. The game controller of
4. The game controller of
5. The game controller of
6. The game controller of
7. The game controller of
8. An optical position detection unit for use in a game controller, comprising:
a first plurality of optical emitters located at a first region of the unit;
a second plurality of optical emitters located at a second region of the unit; and
an optical receiver located at a third region of the unit, the third region located between the first and second regions,
wherein signals emitted from each emitter of the first and second pluralities are distributed in time and received by the receiver,
and wherein a position to be detected is uniquely defined by the intersection of a signal emitted from the first plurality and a signal emitted from the second plurality.
9. The unit of
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15. A method of optically detecting the position of a foot of a user of a game controller, the method comprising:
transmitting a first signal from a transducer of a first group of transducers located at a first area of the controller;
receiving the first signal at a detector during a first time period, the first signal reflected by the foot to the detector;
transmitting a second signal from a transducer of a second group of transducers at a second area of the controller;
receiving the second signal at the detector during a second time period, the second signal reflected by the foot to the detector; and
determining, based on the time received, the position of the foot based on which transducers of the first and second group transmitted the first and second signals.
16. The method of
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21. The method of
22. A game controller, comprising:
a platform; and
one or more position detection units, each position detection unit comprising:
a plurality of light emitting transmitters each producing a beam of light;
a single receiver for receiving beams from the plurality of transmitters,
the plurality of transmitters and the receiver arranged so as to create a matrix of overlapping beams,
means for determining the position of a player in relation to the platform based upon the matrix of overlapping beams.
23. The game controller of
24. The game controller of
25. The game controller of
26. The game controller of
27. The came controller of
The present application is generally related to a video game controller, and specifically to one that detects the movement of a player's feet optically.
Video games are an enjoyable diversion and the video game industry enjoys ever increasing sales and penetration. Some time ago, video games that make a player physically dance were developed. In particular, an arcade game console called Dance Dance Revolution is extremely popular in Japanese arcades. Dancing games are now available for home video game systems and are gaining in popularity.
Some prior controllers for use with dancing games generally involve a large mat that covers the full game play area. A player dances on top of the mat and the mat transmits the user's position to the game system. These dance mats tend to wear out quickly when used by zealous gamers that frequently and vigorously dance upon them. Furthermore, they are bulky and inconvenient to use and transport. Other prior controllers detect the movement of the player by sensing when an optical or other type of beam is interrupted on a path from a transmitter to a receiver. In these devices, when the beam is not received by the receiver, the player's position is determined to be in the path from transmitter to receiver.
There exists a need for a reliable, accurate, and portable game controller for use with dancing and other games that does not deteriorate with regular gaming usage.
The present invention comprises a corded or cordless game controller that detects a player's foot position. It can be used with any game that requires a user to move his feet around from position to position, but is especially useful in dancing related video games. It can be used with any home video gaming system.
The controller is a small unit that fits in between a player's feet. The player then dances around it, rather than on it. Although the player may stand on the platform, and in some embodiments, game control buttons are activated from the top of the platform, the dance steps are performed and detected outside of the perimeter of the controller. Unlike in dance pads or mats where the user plays within the footprint of the mat and lands on it repeatedly, the present invention utilizes non-impact position detection, and is therefore more durable as it does not wear out due to repeated impact. Furthermore, it is significantly more compact than those designs.
The controller of the present invention transmits a beam from a detection unit of the controller, which is reflected off the user or player's foot back towards the controller. It is then sensed by a receiver of the given detection unit. The use of this reflective technique allows the controller to have a small footprint. Two or more signals that overlap, each sent from different locations and received by the receiver, identify the location of an object (e.g. a foot). A single receiver, or receiving module is used in each detection unit of the preferred embodiment. This is achieved with time division modulation as several beams can be sent and received well within the time a foot is in a given location. The time sent and/or received indicates which beam was reflected and the position of the foot. However, some embodiments may utilize more than one receiver per detection unit.
In a preferred embodiment a detection unit is located on each of the left, right, top and bottom sides of the controller, for a total of four detection units. Game control buttons that allow a user to navigate and select from menus of the game are located at one or more of the corners of the controller. In other embodiments they may be otherwise distributed. They can be activated from above or from the side, but are preferably activated from the side as it is more convenient for a user during play, and lessens inadvertent strikes that tend to occur with a top activated switch when a user's foot travels over the top of the controller in the heat of game play.
In a preferred embodiment, the detection modules will sense an object at the left, right, top and bottom of the controller, but not at the corners. This eliminates inadvertent detection of a move (at or near a corner) when a player's foot sweeps from one side to another, for instance from a position near the top of the controller to position at the right of the controller.
In a preferred embodiment, not all pairs of overlapping signals indicate a game location, and therefore, those that do not are ignored. This improves accuracy of the controller by minimizing the detection of unwanted reflections from an object other than a player's foot or from the player's foot when it is in a location outside of the area meant to define a position of the controller and the game being played. For example, inadvertent reflections from nearby walls or other objects are not interpreted as steps of the player's feet. In some embodiments, the optical emitters are directed substantially parallel to the ground while in others they are angled toward the ground such that they hit the ground near the controller. In such an embodiment, a foot can be detected before the beam hits the ground, or by the weakened signal after it has been reflected by the ground, so long as it is reflected back to the controller a short enough distance thereafter that it will have sufficient energy at the detector. Otherwise, in the case of a ground reflected signal reflected far from the controller, it will not have the proper trajectory back to the receiver, or will otherwise have insufficient energy to be deemed a foot position or dance step.
Game control buttons or switches 104 A, B, C, and D are located at the corners of the controller 100. The preferred embodiment of controller 100 is substantially rectangular as shown, with the corner clipped or rounded. Other embodiments may have other shapes. The game control buttons may in certain embodiments be activated from the top of the controller platform, or, as illustrated, may be activated with a motion and in a direction parallel to the ground. This way, a user can touch the switch with either his toe or heel from around the perimeter of the controller. For example, a user may choose to back her heel into button 104A, while it may be more convenient for a user to kick or touch button 104B with the front of her foot.
The detection signals from the different chambers are distributed in time. Only one chamber emits the detection signal during a given period or moment of time. Each position detection signal comprises a plurality of bursts, preferably 4 or 5, and each burst in turn comprises a plurality of pulses, preferably between 15-25 pulses. The emitted signal preferably comprises IR light of approximately 880 nm wavelength, and the frequency of the pulses is approximately 455 kHz. The period between bursts is approximately 150 us.
If receiver 128 receives a signal with an energy level above a minimum threshold, it provides an output signal to the processing circuitry of the controller. In one preferred embodiment, the output signal comprises pulses of output voltage. In such a case, the receiver provides one pulse per burst of received light. This modulation filters out ambient noise such as sun light, light from nearby lamps, and from IR remote controls, that may otherwise contain sufficient energy to be interpreted as position data.
In the games with the fastest action or changing of foot positions, the minimum time a foot may be in a given position is about 120 milliseconds, although in the vast majority of situations a foot will be present in a given position for much longer. With the preferred embodiment, a foot can be detected within about 16 milliseconds. That is to say that position detection unit 120 can sequence though one cycle where all the illumination chambers of a given detection unit emit a signal in about 16 milliseconds. In certain embodiments the cycle can be repeated to increase accuracy. For example, if four cycles are performed, this will require about 60-65 milliseconds. This means that about 7 or 8 cycles could be performed within the minimum detection window. All position detection units 120 may cycle simultaneously, or may alternatively be sequenced to cycle at different times.
One solution employed in other embodiments in order to minimize unwanted reflections involves angling the beams from illumination chambers 124 towards the ground, as seen in
While the preferred embodiments have been described with regard to dancing games, many different types of games can be played with a controller according to the present invention. Although the various aspects of the present invention have been described with respect to exemplary embodiments thereof, it will be understood that the present invention is entitled to protection within the full scope of the appended claims.