US 20080139080 A1
A system, method and apparatus for interactive play is provided. In an exemplary embodiment, an interactive toy is validated on a network. The validation includes the toy sending a code to a base-station, the base-station forwarding the code to a server on the network. The server sending a verification message to the base-station, which in communicated to the interactive toy. In another embodiment, accomplishments are sent to the server and additional functionality is imparted to the interactive toy based on these accomplishments. This Abstract is provided for the sole purpose of complying with the Abstract requirement rules that allow a reader to quickly ascertain the subject matter of the disclosure contained herein. This Abstract is submitted with the explicit understanding that it will not be used to interpret or to limit the scope or the meaning of the claims.
1. A method of providing an interactive experience comprising
communicating a code from an interactive toy to a base-station;
communicating the code from the base-station to a server on a network;
validating the code on the server;
communicating a first validation message from the server to the base-station;
communicating a second validation message from the base-station to the interactive toy; and
enabling functionality on the toy based on receiving the second validation message.
2. The method of
3. The method of
4. The method of
5. The method of
6. The method of
7. The method of
8. The method of
9. The method of
10. The method of
11. The method of
12. The method of
13. The method of
14. The method of
15. The method of
16. The method of
17. The method of
communicating an accomplishment from the interactive toy to the base-station;
communicating the accomplishment from the base-station to the server;
communicating an enabling message from the server to the base-station; and
enabling different functionality on the interactive toy based on receipt of the enabling message.
18. The method of
19. The method of
20. The method of
21. The method of
22. The method of
23. The method of
24. The method of
25. The method of
26. A computer software product comprising:
a storage medium, the storage medium containing a set of executable instructions that when executed by a processor configure a base-station to:
receive a code from an interactive toy;
communicate the code to a server on a network;
receive a validation message from the server; and
enable functionality on the interactive toy.
27. The computer software product of
28. The computer software product of
29. The computer software product of
30. The computer software product of
31. The computer software product of
32. The computer software product of
33. The computer software product of
34. The computer software product of
35. The computer software product of
36. The computer software product of
37. The computer software product of
38. The computer software product of
receive an accomplishment from the interactive toy at the base-station;
communicate the accomplishment from the base-station to the server;
receive an enabling message from the server at the base-station; and
enable different functionality on the interactive toy based on receipt of the enabling message.
39. The computer software product of
40. The computer software product of
41. The computer software product of
42. The computer software product of
43. The computer software product of
44. The computer software product of
45. The computer software product of
46. The computer software product of
47. A base-station apparatus comprising:
a memory coupled to the processor;
a storage media coupled to the memory and the processor;
a network connection coupled to the processor and to a network;
a wireless transceiver coupled to the memory and the processor, the wireless transceiver configured to transmit and receive wireless communication signals from a plurality of interactive toys;
wherein the storage media contains a set of machine executable instructions that when executed by the processor configure the interactive play apparatus to:
receive a code from at least one of the plurality of interactive toys;
communicate the code to a server on the network;
receive a validation message from the server; and
enable functionality on the interactive toy.
48. The base-station of
49. The base-station of
50. The base-station of
51. The base-station of
52. The base-station of
53. The base-station of
54. The base-station of
55. The base-station of
56. The base-station of
57. The base-station of
58. The base-station of
59. The base-station of
receive an accomplishment from at least one of the plurality of interactive toys at the base-station;
communicate the accomplishment from the base-station to the server;
receive an enabling message from the server at the base-station; and
enable different functionality on the interactive toy based on receipt of the enabling message.
60. The base-station of
61. The base-station of
62. The base-station of
63. The base-station of
64. The base-station of
65. The base-station of
66. The base-station of
67. The base-station of
68. An interactive toy comprising:
a storage medium; and
a communication transceiver,
wherein the storage medium contains a set of executable instructions that when executed by the processor configure the interactive toy to:
communicate a code to a base-station;
receive an enabling message from the base-station, the enabling message originating from a server on a network connected to the base-station;
enable interactive toy functionality based on receiving the enabling message from the base-station.
69. The interactive toy of
70. The interactive toy of
71. The interactive toy of
72. The interactive toy of
73. The interactive toy of
74. The interactive toy of
75. The interactive toy of
76. The interactive toy of
77. The interactive toy of
78. The interactive toy of
79. The interactive toy of
enable different functionality on the interactive toy.
80. The interactive toy of
81. The interactive toy of
82. The interactive toy of
83. The interactive toy of
84. The interactive toy of
85. The interactive toy of
86. An interactive play system comprising:
a doll, the doll configured with a plurality of controls, each of the plurality of controls capable of controlling the doll to take a unique physical action the doll further configured with a first communications transceiver; and
a handheld electronic device, the handheld electronic device comprising controls a display, a processor, a second communications transceiver; a storage medium, the storage medium configured with a set of processor executable instructions that when executed by the processor configure the handheld device to allow a user to play a video game;
wherein the electronic device is further configured to receive a first communication signal and adapt the play of the video game based on the received communication signal.
87. The interactive play system of
88. The interactive play system of
89. The interactive play system of
90. The Interactive play system of
This application is a continuation-in-part of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/726,454, filed Mar. 22, 2007, which is a continuation-in-part of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/540,369, filed Sep. 29, 2006, which is a continuation-in-part of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/368,300, filed Mar. 3, 2006, which is a continuation-in-part of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/255,852, filed Oct. 21, 2005. Priority is claimed to these applications and they are incorporated by reference in their entirety.
The present invention relates generally to an interactive system. More particularly the present invention concerns a system, apparatus, and methods for interactive play.
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. Nos. 6,663,393 (Ghaly) 5,607,336 (Lebensfeld et al.), 6,648,719 (Chan) and 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.
The present invention provides a system, apparatus and methods for overcoming some of the difficulties presented above. In an exemplary embodiment, a method of validation of an interactive toy, or storage medium is provided. In this embodiment, the interactive toy communicates a code to a base-station. The base-station communicates the code to a server on the network. The server validates the code and responds to the base station with a verification message. The base station sends a verification message to the interactive toy. In response to receiving a validation message, functionality is enabled on the interactive toy.
In a another embodiment a method of updating the functionality of interactive toys is provided. In this embodiment, once an interactive toy has been validated a user can interact with the toy. Over time the interactive toy will accrue an accomplishment point total based on the user interactions. These accomplishments are communicated to the server and once they exceed a predetermined threshold, additional functionality is imparted to the interactive toy via the base-station.
In a still further embodiment, base-station apparatus is provided. In this embodiment, the base-station includes a network interface configured to communicate with a server on a network, such as the Internet. The base-station is further configured with a communications transceiver configured to communicate with interactive toys. When a new interactive toy communicates with the base-station, the toy is authenticated on the network. Additionally, the base-station is configured to send accomplishments to the server and receive additional functionality from the server based on the accomplishments.
An additional provided embodiment is an interactive toy. The interactive toy make take a plurality of forms. The toy includes a processor, a memory, a storage medium, and a communications transceiver. The toy may be configured to authenticate itself on a network via a base-station and a server. Further, in some embodiments, the interactive toy may change its functionality through the download of additional data and in some instances software. The download may be initiated once an accomplishment point total is achieved.
Various embodiments of the present invention taught herein are illustrated by way of example, and not by way of limitation, in the figures of the accompanying drawings, in which:
It will be recognized that some or all of the Figures are schematic representations for purposes of illustration and do not necessarily depict the actual relative sizes or locations of the elements shown. The Figures are provided for the purpose of illustrating one or more embodiments of the invention with the explicit understanding that they will not be used to limit the scope or the meaning of the claims.
In the following paragraphs, the present invention will be described in detail by way of example with reference to the attached drawings. While this invention is capable of embodiment in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail specific embodiments, with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an example of the principles of the invention and not intended to limit the invention to the specific embodiments shown and described. That is, throughout this description, the embodiments and examples shown should be considered as exemplars, rather than as limitations on the present invention. Descriptions of well known components, methods and/or processing techniques are omitted so as to not unnecessarily obscure the invention. As used herein, the “present invention” refers to any one of the embodiments of the invention described herein, and any equivalents. Furthermore, reference to various feature(s) of the “present invention” throughout this document does not mean that all claimed embodiments or methods must include the referenced feature(s).
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.
Embodiments of the present invention provide an interactive toy system which allows the user to enact real-life activities of a doll, animal, action-figure or similar creature. More specifically, the present invention provides a toy system 20 which provides for interactive play between the system 20 and the user. The user can select different play programs which will program the doll or toy with certain emotions, responses or characters, and which will allow or direct the user to enact selected real-life activities for the doll or toy.
According to one embodiment of the present invention, the doll or toy merely functions as an object that is used by the player to enact selected real-life activities, and does not communicate or interact with the player. According to this embodiment, the player communicates solely with a base unit or doll station, which provides instructions or messages to the player regarding how the real-life activities are to be enacted. The player then utilizes the doll or toy to carry out the enactment. In this embodiment, the doll or toy may communicate interactively with the base unit or doll station, but will not communicate directly with the player.
The storage device 26 can have a housing 28 that houses any conventional and well-known medium that includes a memory 30 (see
In addition, the storage device 26 can be coupled to a personal computer PC (see
In one embodiment doll station 24 is adapted to hold a doll 22 during use. Referring to
In one embodiment, memory 58 is used to store some or all of the programs. In this embodiment memory 30 on storage device 26 is 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
In a further embodiment speaker 38 emits sounds to provide vocal instructions and music. Speaker 38 and display screen 36 are both controlled by processor 56. Control pad 60 and buttons 62 are additionally coupled to processor 56 and may provide control signals to processor 56. One feature of this embodiment is that it allows a player to control the operation of the interactive play system 20 by interacting with control pad 60 and buttons 62. For example, the player can press selected buttons 62, or control pad 60, to select desired play modes or features, or to perform any of the play functions described herein below.
Another embodiment is illustrated by referring back to
In one embodiment rear wall 42 extends from the top rear portion of base 40, and is slightly curved to define a background wall for doll 22. An optional window 68 is provided, in some embodiments, in rear wall 42 for ornamental or functional (e.g., provide access) purposes. In further embodiments, antenna 70 is provided in the rear wall 42 (see
Roof 44 is optional, and can be attached to the top of rear wall 42 to provide a cover or shade for doll 22 when doll 22 is positioned inside the doll station 24. In some embodiments a handle (not shown) is provided on top of roof 44 to provide a mechanism for a user to carry doll station 24.
In some embodiments, illustrated in
Another embodiment is illustrated in
In one embodiment when doll 22 is placed inside interior space 50 of base 40, antennas 70 and 80 are capable of communicating with each other. In one non-limiting embodiment of the present invention, antennas 70 and 80 are selected to be used with short-range communication technologies that can only communicate wireless signals over a short distance. The use of such short-range communication technologies ensures that the doll 22 is positioned in, or in close proximity to, base 40 before that particular doll 22 can be the subject of the activity. One feature of this embodiments is that the use of short range communication technology allows base 40 to interact with multiple types of doll 22 when each is in communication range of base 40. In embodiments where longer range communication technologies are used in a multi-doll interactive play system 20, antenna 70 at base 40 can be receiving signals from multiple dolls 22.
Next, the characteristics of the doll 22 are transferred to the processor 56 at doll station 24 (see step 102 below) and processor 56 can identify doll 22. In addition, as described below, the user can select a desired application by selecting one of a variety of storage devices 26.
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 player. Many of these programs are adapted to allow the player to enact real-life activities for doll 22, as if doll 22 were alive and going through the normal daily activities of a living doll. These programs can be based on any of the following: (i) the characteristics of doll 22 that have been downloaded from memory 78 on chip 72, (ii) the nature of the environment portrayed by 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, and any of these parameters can be used together or independent of each other. It is the provision and selection of these parameters that allow the player to be able to enact the real-life activities of doll 22. The following are a few non-limiting examples of programs (enacting activities) that can be stored in memory 30 and/or 58 and/or 78 for play on doll station 24.
Processor 56 causes speaker 38 to emit an instruction, such as “I'm cold, please put a jacket on me”. The player then goes to his/her doll accessories, takes a doll jacket and dresses doll 22 with a jacket.
Processor 56 causes speaker 38 to emit an instruction, such as “I would like to go to the beach”. The player then takes doll 22 out of base 40 and takes doll 22 to another doll station 24 that represents a beach environment, and inserts doll 22 into base 40 of the beach doll station 24. The steps outlined in
Processor 56 causes the speaker 38 to emit an instruction, such as “I would like to play with a friend”. The player 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
Processor 56 causes display screen 36 to display a colorful message, accompanied by music from speaker 38. This performance can reflect the identity of doll 22. For example, if doll 22 is intended to be a happy doll, display screen 36 can be caused to display bright and colorful images, and speaker 38 can broadcast cheerful music. On the other hand, if doll 22 is intended to be an evil doll, display screen 36 can be caused to display malicious or dark images, and speaker 38 can broadcast somber music. These performances can be used to reflect the attitude, character, emotions or mood of doll 22.
In one non-limiting embodiment, the accessories that accompany doll 22 can be provided with electronic chips similar to chip 72 that allow for the accessory to communicate with doll station 24. For example,
Alternatively, a program from any of the memories 30, 58, 78, or 178 can cause speaker 38 or display screen 36 to emit an instruction, such as “Please give me my hair brush”. The player then takes hair brush 132 and places it in the doll's hand. The electronic chip 172 on hair brush 132 would communicate with processor 56 (via antennas 70 and 180) to identify hair brush 132. If the player inadvertently places the wrong accessory (e.g., hat 130) on doll 22, processor 56 can cause speaker 38 and/or display screen 36 to emit a message informing the player that the wrong accessory has been chosen.
Other play activities involving these accessories can include games and challenges. For example, a program from any of the memories 30, 58, 78, or 178 can cause speaker 38 and/or display screen 36 to guide a user through a first activity (e.g., a game or challenge) where the user can accumulate points for use in a second or subsequent activity (e.g., a shopping spree). For example, the user can accumulate points by correctly answering certain questions, successfully navigating a maze or other obstacle(s), or designing new fashion outfits. The program then guides the user through a shopping spree where the user can visit any number of shops selling these accessories, and purchase any desired accessories using the points accumulated from the first activity. For example, if a user has accumulated fifty points, the user can allocate these fifty points for use in purchasing different accessories from different shops, with each accessory having a different point requirement for purchase. As the user purchases these accessories, the user can physically dress doll 22 with the tangible embodiment of the accessory (e.g., the blouse 138) while interactive play system 20 checks to ensure that blouse 138 being worn by doll 22 corresponds to blouse 138 that had been purchased.
The processor 56 causes speaker 38 to emit an instruction, such as “I want to dance”. The player then takes doll 22 out of base 40 and plays with doll 22, pretending that doll 22 is dancing. During this time, speaker 38 can be broadcasting dance music, and display screen 36 can be displaying bright lights and other images.
The processor 56 can recognize and store information relating to the programs selected by the player, play patterns of the player, or anything related to the use and play of interactive play system 20. This information can be transferred to memory 30 in storage device 26 via ports 34 and 32. The player can select such recognition and storage functions by manipulating buttons 62 and/or control pad 60. The information in memory 30 can then be transferred by storage device 26 to a PC where the information can be analyzed, processed and stored for any desired purpose.
Memory 58 can contain programs that include diaries, directories and calendars so that the user can input important dates, addresses, and entries for either the user or doll 22. A user can access these diaries, directories and calendars via front panel 48, or base unit 24 c described below.
The interactive play system 20 c can operate in the same manner as interactive play system 20, as described above. Specifically, interactive play system 20 c allows a player to enact real-life activities of doll 22 c, such as the activities described in Examples 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9 above. The interactive play system 20 c can also implement the flowchart of
Between the interactive play systems 20 and 20 c, the interactive play system 20 c may be better suited for use with a single doll 22 c, so that base unit 24 c does not need to distinguish between signals received from a plurality of dolls 22 c that are positioned in close-enough proximity to the base unit 24 c. On the other hand, interactive play system 20 may be better suited to use with a plurality of dolls 22 because the short-range communications technology used in some embodiments of interactive play system 20 allow doll station 24 to distinguish between different dolls 22.
In some embodiments, the accessories used with doll 22 c can also include patches of conductive ink. For example, in
The principles of the present invention are not limited to action figures and fashion dolls only.
In addition, as best shown in
The teddy bear 22 d in
In some embodiments, the wireless connection via the antennas 80 d and 180 d, is replaced by, electrical contacts 77 d and 177 d which are provided on teddy bear 22 d and accessory (e.g., shirt 138 d), respectively. Referring to
In some embodiments, interactive play system 20 d is modified to include a Personal Computer (“PC”) and a PC monitor 210. The antenna 70 d on the station 24 d can communicate signals with antenna 212 on the PC or other computer, and the images displayed on screen 38 d can be replicated on monitor 210. The PC can even be used to store programs, and to transfer programs to station 24 d for execution thereat.
The principles in
The doll systems shown and described in connection with
One difference between the interactive play system 20 h and the interactive play systems 20, 20 c is in the communication modes between the respective components. In some embodiments of the interactive play system 20 h, the base 40 h does not have the front panel 48 (which is now incorporated into the base unit 24 h), but the base 40 h includes the electrical components illustrated in
The interactive play system 20 h operates in the following manner according to one non-limiting embodiment of the present invention. The doll 22 h communicates with the base station via antenna 80 h at doll 22 h and antenna 70 h at the rear wall 42 h. The controller 92 h in base 40 h receives these communications from antenna 70 h, and then communicates with base unit 24 h via the infrared transmitter 90 h and the infrared receiver 96 h to the processor 56 h.
The provision of an antenna 97 h at the storage device 26 h provides another alternative form of communication. If the base station is misplaced, omitted, or not used, doll 22 h can still communicate with station 24 h. Specifically, doll 22 h can communicate with storage device 26 h via antenna 80 h at doll 22 h and antenna 97 h at storage device 26 h. The processor 99 h in storage device 26 h receives these communications from antenna 97 h, and then communicates with station 24 h via ports 32 h and 34 h.
The interactive play system 20 h can operate in the same manner as the interactive play systems 20 and 20 c, as described above. Specifically, interactive play system 20 h also allows a player to enact real-life activities of doll 22 h, such as the activities described in Examples 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 above. In some embodiments, interactive play system 20 h implements the functionality illustrated in flowchart of
The principles in FIGS. 11 and 13-14 can be further extended to provide an interactive constructional or building system.
In some embodiments station 24 f includes all of the elements of the station 24, including a battery 66 f, a processor 56 f, a memory 58 f, a display screen 36 f, a speaker 38 f, a control pad 60 f, a control button 62 f and a port 34 f that can be the same as the corresponding elements in
In one embodiment, the station 24 f includes software that is adapted to recognize the various pieces 130 f, 132 f, 134 f, etc. In addition, each different storage device 26 f can include software for guiding a player in constructing a particular object. For example, memory 30 f in a specific storage device 26 f can contain software for guiding the player in constructing a dinosaur, and memory 30 f in another storage device 26 f can contain software for guiding the player in constructing a bird. Alternatively, storage device 26 f can be omitted, and memory 58 f in station 24 f can store the different software that can be selected by the player for guiding the player in constructing the different objects.
One possible use of the interactive play system 20 f is illustrated in the flowchart of
The interactive play system 20 f can be used to generate a variety of different activities. According to a second activity, memory 30 f in storage device 26 f or memory 58 f in base unit 24 f can store software and a database relating to the construction of different objects. This activity allows the player to initiate the construction and then gives the player choices as to what object(s) the player can assemble based on the start initiated by the player. Thus, this activity is more creative and interactive in nature. For example, in a first step, the player connects a piece (e.g., arm 132 f) to any coupling (e.g., 70 f) in station 24 f. Then, in the next block, the software will determine the different objects that can be constructed based on the initial first connection, and will display the options to the player on display screen 36 f, including instructions for assembling each option. The player can continue to connect additional pieces, and as each additional piece is connected, the software will update its identification of the connected pieces from its database, and cause display screen 36 f at station 24 f to display new and updated options for the player. This process continues until an object is completely assembled, and even at that point, the player can continue to connect additional pieces, while the software will continue to search its database for possible new objects that can be built. This activity allows the player to engage in either (i) a challenging and creative interactive building game where the player attempts to outwit the interactive play system 20 f in building an object, or (ii) an instructional interactive game where the interactive play system 20 f can guide the player in building one of many different objects.
As a non-limiting example, even though the present invention illustrates the use of antennas to facilitate communication between doll station 24 and 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 ports 32 and 34 can be replaced by wireless communication utilizing separate antennas at the locations of ports 32 and 34.
In other embodiments of an interactive play system 20 full-size clothing and accessories may interact with interactive play system 20. As used herein the term full-size refers to non-toy sized accessories. For example, clothing and carried articles, such as a backpack, that are designed for use by a person playing with interactive play system 20. Further, in some embodiments, these full-size items provide an interactive experience to a user that is independent of interactive play system 20.
The storage device 1026 can have a housing 1028 that houses any conventional and well-known medium that includes a memory 1030 (see
In addition, storage device 1026 can be coupled to a personal computer (“PC”) (see
In an exemplary embodiment, the electronics (see
In addition, an antenna 1070 can be provided in housing 1048, with antenna 1070 coupled to the electronics shown in
Even though the term “hand-held” is used to describe the unit 1024, the unit 1024 can be hand-held, or can be a main unit that is secured to any stationary or larger object, such as the dashboard of an automobile, a cabinet or piece of furniture, the wall of a building, etc. As described herein, the unit 1024 is essentially a control unit.
The clothing 1022 is provided with a chip 1072 that allows for clothing 1022 to communicate with hand-held unit 1024. For example,
In various embodiments, an electronic device 1085 can be attached to the clothing 1022, and electrically coupled to controller 1082. The electronic device 1085 can be a sensing device (e.g., a temperature sensor for measuring temperature, a CCD sensor for capturing images), or a speaker, or a display screen, among others.
The clothing 1022 can also include patches of conductive ink that are well-known in the art. For example, in
Some embodiments of the interactive system 1020 operate in the following general manner. The clothing 1022 communicates with unit 1024 via antennas 1080 and 1070. The processor 1056 in unit 1024 receives these communications from antenna 1070, and then displays images at display screen 1036 and/or broadcasts sounds or music at speaker 1038 that are dependent upon the data being communicated by clothing 1022 to unit 1024. The communication can be initiated by either controller 1082 or processor 1056, with initiating controller 1082 or processor 1056 directing a communication signal to be sent via antennas 1070, 1080 to other of processor 1056 or controller 1082. Any of the conventional communication protocols can be used to facilitate the initiation of the communication, and the continued communication between, processor 1056 and controller 1082.
The storage device 1026 can provide another alternative form of communication. In this embodiment, storage device 1026 b further includes an antenna 1097 b and communication electronics that are coupled to processor 1099 b inside storage device 1026 b, as best shown in
The following are some examples illustrating how the interactive clothing system 1020 can be used.
The electronic device 1085 can be a camera which takes photographs when actuated by a switch (not shown) provided on clothing 1022 and electrically coupled to the camera. The captured image(s) can then be transmitted (via the antennas 1080 and 1070) to the processor 1056 to be displayed by display screen 1036. The captured image(s) can be stored in memory 1078, or transferred to memories 1058 and/or 1030. This camera can be a hidden camera that appears to be a badge or accessory that is part of the clothing item 1022, and be suited for use in police or investigative work. The camera can even be positioned on the rear of a shirt or trouser so that the user can hold the unit 1024 as he/she is walking so that he/she can see if anyone is following him/her without turning the head. If used in this manner, the camera can operate as a safety device.
In one embodiment the electronic device 1085 is a thermometer which measures the temperature of the environment. The measured temperature(s) can be stored in memory 1078, and/or transmitted (via the antennas 1080 and 1070) to the processor 1056 to be displayed by the display screen 1036 or broadcast by the speaker 1038. In one application, the program in memory 1058 that is executed by the processor 1056 will only broadcast or display a temperature only if the temperature exceeds or falls below a certain threshold. Thus, in this application, the system 1020 will be used as a warning or notification device that notifies the user of a potentially dangerous situation. For example, a mountain-climber might wear a jacket having chip 1072, with electronic device 1085 measuring the temperature, wind chill, wind speed or other environmental condition, and then issuing a warning at the unit 1024 if a particular condition exceeds or falls below a certain threshold. The captured environmental condition can even be stored in memory 1078, or transferred to memories 1058 and/or 1030.
The interactive system 1020 can be used to match the colors or styles of different items of clothing 1022, or to locate items of misplaced clothing. In this Example, electronic device 1085 on clothing 1022 can be a sensor that will detect the motion, environment, or other measurable characteristic, and will convey the information to hand-held unit 1024 via antennas 1070 and 1080.
For example, a clothing line can provide electronic chips 1072 in all of its clothing 1022 sold to customers. Each item of clothing 1022 has a chip 1072, with memory 1078 in chip 1072 pre-programmed to contain information about that particular item of clothing 1022 and that line of clothing. For example, a designer can pre-program certain desired matches (e.g., a particular top with a particular skirt or a particular pair of shoes), and certain undesirable matches, into memory 1058 at unit 1024 or even in memory 1030 at storage device 1026. When a user puts on two or more items of clothing 1022 from the same line, controller 1082 in chip 1072 at the items of clothing 1022 will communicate their identities to processor 1056 at unit 1024 (via the antennas 1080 and 1070), and processor 1056 will determine whether the selected clothing items are a desirable match, and communicate to the user via speaker 1038 or display screen 1036.
The user can also use this system to locate misplaced clothing 1022. For example, the identities of all clothing items having a chip 1072 can be stored in memory 1058 or memory 1030. If the user cannot find a particular item of clothing 1022, the user can use control pad 1060 and control buttons 1062 on unit 1024 to instruct the processor 1056 to locate clothing 1022. The processor 1056 would then communicate with controller 1082 (via the antennas 1070 and 1080) on the particular clothing 1022, and controller 1082 would cause a speaker (i.e., an electronic device 1085) to emit beeps or other sounds so that the user can be led to the location of the clothing 1022.
In one embodiment the system can be used as a single user game. In this embodiment, clothing 1022 can contain a number of touch pads provided in different colors (i.e., as an electronic device 1085), and a game can be stored in any of memories 1030, 1058 and 1078. The unit 1024 can broadcast instructions via its display screen 1036 or its speaker 1038, such as “touch the red patch” or “touch the green patch”, and the user will attempt to touch the correct touch pad, earning points for each successful touch. The electronic device 1085 on clothing 1022 can also include a sensor that will detect the motion, environment, or other measurable characteristic, and will convey the information to the hand-held unit 1024 via antennas 1070 and 1080.
The same game can be modified to be more educational, for example, by providing touch pads on different parts of a long-sleeve shirt. The unit 1024 can broadcast instructions via its display screen 1036 or its speaker 1038, such as “touch your shoulder”, or “touch your chest” or “touch your back”, and the child will attempt to touch a correct touch pad that is located at the correct body area, earning points for each successful touch. This game can be effective in teaching toddlers their body parts.
In another embodiment the interactive system 1020 can be used as a multi-user game. A game can be stored in either memory 1030 or memory 1058. A first player wears clothing 1022, and a second player controls the unit 1024. The first player can attempt to run around in an irregular (or regular) manner, and the first player's movement will be displayed on display screen 1036 (via communication through antennas 1080, 1070 and processor 1056). Many different games can be played based on tracking the movement of the first player. For example, the second player can manipulate control buttons 1062 and control pad 1060 in an attempt to catch the image of the first player on display screen 1036. As another example, the game can be a version of a “hide-and-seek” game where the second player cannot see where the first player is, but can track the location of the first player on display screen 1036. These games can be extended to more than two players, where two or more players, each wearing a different clothing 1022, can be moving around and being tracked by a separate player who manipulates the unit 1024. The electronic device 1085 on clothing 1022 can also include a sensor that will detect the motion, environment, or other measurable characteristic, and will convey the information to hand-held unit 1024 via antennas 1070 and 1080.
In this embodiment, the system 1020 can be used in lieu of security tags on merchandise. Each merchandise can contain a chip 1072, and when a purchaser pays for clothing 1022, the cashier utilizes a main unit 1024 to identify the clothing 1022 that is being purchased, which will disable an alarm (e.g., the electronic device 85). If a thief removes clothing 1022 from the store without disabling the alarm, then the alarm will activate when the thief passes the security zone.
For example, interactive system 1020 can be used as part of a real-time virtual simulation system where the user U wears shoe 1022 a and goes on a walk or a jog. As the user U walks, the sensor detects the speed of the walking or jogging motion, and communicates with unit 1024 to display images on the display screen 1036 correlating to the motion. The images can depict the user walking through a scenic forest, or a hiking trail, or other virtual scene. The speed through which the user is shown navigating through the scene will depend upon the speed of the motion of shoe 1022 a. The speaker 1038 can be used to broadcast soothing and relaxing music relating to the activity or scene.
As another example, the system can be used to detect environmental characteristics associated with the ground. In this example, the user U wears the shoe 1022 a and the sensor detects the temperature or other environmental characteristic, which is then communicated to unit 1024 where it can be displayed on display screen 1036 or broadcast via speaker 1038.
As yet another example, the system can be used to simulate a dance performance. In this example, the user U wears shoe 1022 a and begins a dance routine. As the user U dances, the sensor detects the dancing motion, and communicates with unit 1024 to display images on the display screen 36 correlating to the dancing motion. The images can depict the user doing his/her dance routine, while the speaker 1038 can be used to broadcast music that accompanies the selected dance.
In all the above embodiments and Examples, processor 1056 can also recognize and store information relating to the programs selected by the player, play patterns of the player, or anything related to the use and play of the system 1020. This information can be transferred to memory 1030 in storage device 1026 via ports 1034 and 1032. The player can select such recognition and storage functions by manipulating control buttons 1062 and/or control pad 1060. The information in memory 1030 can then be transferred by storage device 1026 to a PC where the information can be analyzed, processed and stored for any desired purpose.
The system 1020 can even be modified to include a PC and a PC monitor. The antenna 1070 on unit 1024 can communicate signals with an antenna on the PC or other computer, and the images displayed on the screen 1038 can be replicated on the monitor. The PC can even be used to store programs, and to transfer programs to the unit 1024 for execution thereat.
As a further example, the PC can be used to connect to the Internet for communicating with other units 1024 at distant locations. For example, some of the activities described hereinabove for interactive system 1020 can be controlled by a user at a distant or remote location. One example is the multi-user game described in Example 5 above. The second player can be in a remote or distant location with the signals being communicated from clothing 1022 worn by the first player to unit 1024 located near the first player, and then from unit 1024 to a PC which then transmits these signals via the Internet to a PC where the second player is located.
Various provided embodiments utilize communication technologies and networks. When embodiments refer to communications via antennas one of ordinary skill will understand that there are communications transceivers coupled to the antennas. As is known in the art, networks can be classified in a number of ways. A network may be classified by the range supported by the underlying technology. For example, some network technologies are designed to provide communication across significant ranges. The Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is a network with almost global reach. Significant portions of the PSTN comprise a wired infrastructure. Portions of the PSTN comprise optical fiber media. Other portions of the PSTN infrastructure may include microwave or radio frequency links communicating across a wireless medium. Wireless and cellular telephone networks interface to the PSTN.
The development of cellular networks has evolved over time. Initially, cellular networks only supported voice traffic. More recently, data technologies have been enabled across these networks. One of the earlier cellular based data technologies was General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). GPRS is packet based wireless communication service that provides data communication services in the 50 to 100 Kilobit per second (Kbps) speed range. The GPRS standard is based on the Global System for Mobile (GSM) standard and compliments existing services such as circuit switched cellular phone connections and the Short Message Service (SMS). As used herein, the terms circuit switched and packet switched refer to types of network connections. Circuit switched connections are typically dedicated connections between users during the entirety of the communication. Packet switched refers to a connection in which packets are routed across a network based on destination and source addresses of the packets.
Other cellular based data technologies exist and others are currently under development, Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE) is a faster data transfer technology capable of data rates up to almost 400 Kbps. Like GPRS, EDGE is based on the GSM standard and uses the GSM Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) frame structure. Cellular or mobile based data technologies continue to evolve. The High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HDSPA) is one of the next steps in the evolution of the Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service (UMTS). The goal of UMTS is to provide up to 2 Megabits per second (Mbps) to the user which will allow the transmission of text, video, voice multi-media and other services. Other Third Generation (3G) cellular efforts are additionally based on the GSM architecture. The CDMA2000 based data services include Evolution Data Optimized (EV-DO) and 1X-EVDO may additionally be employed to practice aspects of the present invention. (CDMA2000 is a registered trademark of the Telecommunications Industry Association).
Other types of data networks, may or may not interface with voice networks. These networks may have essentially global ranges, such as the Internet. These networks may include wireless metropolitan area network technologies such as the technology currently referred to as WiMax. Metropolitan area networks may include wired or optical media as well as a wireless medium. Local area networks may be wired, typically employing twisted-pair wired media, or wireless. Wireless local area networks (WLANs) may include networks employing wireless technologies like Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) or Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM). These two wireless technologies are currently the basis for well known WLAN technologies commonly referred to as WiFi or 802.11a, b, g, and n.
Wireless networks may additionally be classified as Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPAN). Typically in WPAN technologies the data rates can be quite significant but the ranges may be limited to under 20 meters. One example of WPAN technology includes a frequency hopping spread spectrum technology, such as the technology currently known as BLUETOOTH (BLUETOOTH is a registered trademark of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group). Other WPAN technologies that are currently under development include Ultra-Wideband, which currently is being implemented as an impulse technology, a DSS technology, and a frequency hopping OFDM technology. Still further short range wireless technologies include RFID.
Some provided embodiment embodiments employ low range communication technologies. These low range technologies may include the WPAN technologies mentioned above or may comprise other low data rate low range communication transceivers.
Networks may be additionally, classified by structure. In client-server networks such as the one illustrated in
An embodiment of an interactive play system is illustrated in
In one embodiment, base-station 2180 comprises a wireless communications transceiver and associated antenna. Base-station 2180 is configured to communicate across a wireless medium to a plurality of interactive devices 2190. These interactive devices may include interactive dolls, accessories, handheld devices, articles of clothing, and other interactive toys. Further, base-station 2180 may communicate information received from interactive devices 2190 to server 2020 across network 2010. As illustrated server 2020 may include a database 2160. In alternate embodiments, (not shown) database 2160 may reside on other electronic devices on network 2010.
The flow of data and functionality provided by various embodiments is illustrated in
Flow continues to block 2100 where the server 2020 sends a validation message to base-station 2180 across network 2010. Once receiving an appropriate validation message from the server base-station 2180 sends a validation message to interactive toy 2190 in block 2110. Flow continues to block 2121 where functionality is enabled on interactive toy 2190.
In various embodiments, the wireless communication comprises transmitting and receiving a wireless communications signal. As is known in the art this wireless communication signal could take many forms. Exemplary forms include: a wireless local area network signal, a wireless personal area network signal, a wireless metropolitan area network signal, an orthogonal frequency division multiplexed wireless signal, a direct sequence spread spectrum wireless signal, a frequency hopped spread spectrum wireless signal, and an impulse wireless signal. Further, base-station 2180 may comprise a number of devices, exemplary devices include: a computer, a personal computer, an electronic device, a portable electronic device, a laptop computer, a desktop computer, a personal digital assistant, and a handheld electronic device.
In block 2150 an enabling message is sent from server 2020 to base-station 2180. In one embodiment this enabling message contains a code or other authentication mechanism that allows additional functionality resident on an interactive toy 2190 to be enabled. In other embodiments, this enabling message contains additional data and in some instances software that when executed by an interactive toy 2190 impart new functionality to the interactive toy 2190. In block 2160 new interactive toy 2190 functionality is enabled. The enablement of new functionality, in some embodiments, is accomplished by unlocking new functionality at a base-station 2180 where the new functionality may be stored on a storage medium suitable for use in an interactive toy 2190. As discussed above, various storage media are known and may be used to practice the current invention. Exemplary storage media include a removable storage medium, a CD, a DVD and a memory module.
In another embodiment, base-station 2180 communicates the data and potentially new software to the interactive toy 2190 through the wireless communication technology. In this embodiment, the data and software imparting the new functionality may be stored in the internal memory of the interactive toy 2190. TAs is known in the art, this internal memory may be in the form of removable memory, non-removable memory, ROM, or RAM.
One feature of this embodiment, is as a user interacts and plays with interactive toy 2190, additional functionality is imparted the system. For example, a user may play with an interactive doll 22 in a manner described above, and accrue accomplishment points. The user may then put on an article of interactive clothing, such as shoes, and an interactive back-pack. When the user approaches another interactive toy 2190 user, the interactive toys may “recognize” each other and allow the users to interact. When the users return to their respective base-station 2180, the points accrued from the interaction are “uploaded” to server 2020 across network 2010. Once the accomplishment points reach a predetermined level, additional functionality is imparted to the interactive toys 2190. In this manner the user is encouraged to find and interact with other users of the interactive toy system, and rewarded when the interaction occurs.
An embodiment of a base-station 2180 is illustrated in
In one embodiment, storage media 2250 contains a set of machine executable instructions that, when executed by processor 2210 configure base station 2180 to function as described in the flow charts illustrated in
Another embodiment of an interactive play system includes a handheld electronic device and an interactive doll 22. In this embodiment, the hand held electronic device may be configured to allow a user to play a video game. The doll may be a doll as described above but further comprises a plurality of controls such as buttons or knobs. The controls are used to configure the doll into various positions. For example, interacting with a knob may cause the doll to twist, while interaction with another control, such as a button, may cause the doll to spin or duck. Each control is associated with a unique action. In this embodiment actions taken in the video game may be supplemented by movements by the doll. For example, a user may be playing an action video game where the character in the video game is involved in a fight scene. In a situation where the video character needs to dodge or spin to avoid an action within the game, the user may pause the game, and interact with a control on the doll. This action repositions the doll and the character in the video game.
In this embodiment, the control action selected by the user indicates a unique action. Data related to this unique action is communicated via wireless communication to the handheld electronic device. When the handheld electronic device receives the data, the game-play is adapted according to this data. In another embodiment, the system includes the base station, once the user interacts with a control, the doll communicates the interaction to the base station which communicates the action to the handheld device and the character in the game responds accordingly.
Thus, it is seen that a system, method and apparatus for interactive play are provided. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the present invention can be practiced by other than the above-described embodiments, which are presented in this description for purposes of illustration and not of limitation. The specification and drawings are not intended to limit the exclusionary scope of this patent document. It is noted that various equivalents for the particular embodiments discussed in this description may practice the invention as well. That is, while the present invention has been described in conjunction with specific embodiments, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications, permutations and variations will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in light of the foregoing description. Accordingly, it is intended that the present invention embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations as fall within the scope of the appended claims. The fact that a product, process or method exhibits differences from one or more of the above-described exemplary embodiments does not mean that the product or process is outside the scope (literal scope and/or other legally-recognized scope) of the following claims.