US 20100041304 A1
An interactive networked toy system comprised of objects that enter into meaningful and entertaining dialog with each other and with the Child that plays with them.
1. A system comprised of circuits, software, and operating methods by which at least two nodes of an interactive toy generate the illusion of interaction with each other and with a human participant.
2. The system of
3. The system of
4. The system of
5. The system of
6. Software of
7. An externally-programmable database of responses and comments contained in the central node of
8. A pseudo-random number generator contained in the central node of
9. A wireless or wired connection between the system of
The present invention claims the benefit of priority of U.S. Provisional Application for Patent No. 61/065682, filed 13 Feb. 2007 by Henry Eisenson, content of which is incorporated herein.
The present invention relates generally to the field of interactive toys.
1. Description of the Prior Art
Application No. 20070275634 by Wright is entitled FIGURINES HAVING INTERACTIVE COMMUNICATION. That invention provides a method by which multiple figurines can appear to communicate, but in the primary configuration of that design each figurine has an internal data storage means that comprises its personality. In comparison, the present invention achieves similar or better results by incorporating intelligence, processing, and internal data storage means in only one of multiple devices, with each of the satellite devices/toys/figurines acting solely as a wireless loudspeaker, converting radio signals sent by the central intelligent unit into audible voices that appear to have been generated by the satellite. Further, that application defines a system that does not interact with a human participant, and does not generate responses based upon terms and phrases orally generated by the human.
Many toy products exist in the prior art that have the capability of generating meaningful audio, or speech, when stimulated by the Child.
Many products exist for networking to provide connectivity between diverse nodes of a system.
Speech recognition is a well-understand family of technologies.
Radio-frequency communication between nodes of a networked system has been successfully implemented for many years, and comprises few new technical adventures.
There are proven methods for combining RF networking with novelty and toy products to achieve networking, interconnectivity, or a useful interface with a human.
There are many highly interactive toys by which the human Child is enthralled and educated.
2. Existing Problems with Prior Art
One of the problems with known interactive toys is that the interactivity is limited to that between the Child and the toy.
Another limitation of such known toy products is that there is limited spontaneity, since each party to the interaction, the toy and the Child, has only one source of stimuli.
Another problem with known interactive toy products is that their repertoire is generally limited, and they soon lose the fascination of the Child.
Another problem with such toys is that their interactivity is generally of limited scope, and they lack opportunities to combine their play action with educational content.
One of the problems with the cited WRIGHT prior art is complexity, since that invention requires costly data storage and processing in each of the figurines that participate in the entertainment process.
Other problems with existing integrated generator-storage devices will become apparent when the present invention is compared with them and its advantages become obvious.
In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the known types of toy products in general, and specifically those designed to provide interactivity and educational stimulation to the Child, the present invention provides several improvements that together overcome certain deficiencies appearing in the prior art, and creates a new and unique toy category with certain advantages and characteristics not available from previously known designs.
The main objective of the present invention is to provide a system in which components of the toy set interact with each other, in a spontaneous, rational, meaningful, charming, fascinating, and captivating manner.
Another objective is to enable active components of said system to interact with and respond to the Child, enhancing the charm and fascination of the toy.
Another objective is an interactive networked system that includes moving objects that respond to the Child.
Another objective is to provide means by which the networked interactive toy system can be interfaced with a common computer to create new bodies of information and dialog databases.
Another objective is to provide means by which the system can be expanded to include educational information, to be presented interactively with the participation of the Child.
Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become obvious to the reader and it is intended that these objects and advantages be within the scope of the present invention.
To the accomplishment of the above and related objects, this invention may be embodied in the forms illustrated in the accompanying specification and drawings. However, the specification and drawings are illustrative of the basic concepts only; there are many possible configurations and derivatives lying within the intended scope of the invention.
The system comprising the present invention consists of a toy object containing battery-powered components that permit network interaction with other toy objects and voice recognition interaction with the Child.
The present invention includes a Master toy object containing a power source, a radio-frequency (RF) transceiver, memory, a microcontroller or computer, a microphone, and a speaker.
The present invention also includes a Satellite toy object containing a power source, a radio-frequency transceiver, and a speaker.
The Master object can detect the presence of a powered Satellite object, and can detect audio or voice from a Child.
The Master object can select audio streams from a data bank based upon stimuli from the Child, or from preprogrammed sequences that are selected randomly.
The Master object is connected by RF to one or more Satellite objects. By transmitting via RF, messages can be received by the Satellite objects, amplified, and output audibly via the speaker in each Satellite.
The data bank of dialog and speech sequences contained in the Master object can be updated by RF from a computer with appropriate software and an appropriate RF interface.
The present invention is comprised of at least three components.
THE MASTER OBJECT has an outer form that is a well-understood toy, such as a doll, stuffed animal, action figure, miniature vehicle, or a structure on a play set. Within the Master Object are the following components:
A SATELLITE OBJECT, which is of a form that is visually compatible with that of the Master Object; that is, if the Master Object is a stuffed animal the Satellite Object will be something similar. Within each Satellite Object are the following components:
THE CHILD, whose voice is detectable by the microphone and voice recognition circuitry in the Master Object.
The concept is to develop a complete family of toys that talk to a Child and hear the Child, and that talk TO EACH OTHER with “perfect” communication.
Dolls, vehicles, action figures, or structures on a play set can be battery-operated toys that comprise a wireless network. The Master Object has voice recognition, RF (such as Bluetooth) transmitter, a computer or microcontroller, memory, microphone, and speaker. The Satellite Object in the network have only an RF transceiver and a speaker. Additional network members (toys) can be added.
The “voice” of any object can be modified by either a switch, an RF signal, a computer interface, or random selection by the Master Object.
TOY #1—the Master—is turned ON.
TOY #2—the first of several possible Satellites—is turned ON, announces its presence in the network via RF, and goes into RECEIVE mode.
TOY #1 detects #2 joining the network and “says” something on the speaker to be heard by the Child, in Toy #1 voice.
TOY #1 then transmits a proper response (picked at random from a long list of possibilities) to the first statement.
TOY #2 “hears” perfectly since it's Bluetooth, and from its speaker comes the selected response (rarely the same twice) in Toy #2 voice.
TOY #3, a second Satellite, joins the system, announces its presence by RF, and thereafter speaks with Toy #3 voice.
The Child hears Toy #1 say “I want to play”, then hears #2 say “Let's play with our friend”, then hears from #3 “Not me. I want to go take a nap.”
Because all statements are picked from large lists of random appropriate responses, the dialogs can be complex and interactive, with any number of participating dolls or action figures.
In this manner, the toys can interact with each other, with zero errors.
The voice characteristics can be created within the amplification circuit of each toy rather than in the memory of the Master, thus reducing required memory. Or, the voice characteristics can be stored in the memory of the Master and transmitted accordingly.
The Child always hears what is being “said” via the speakers, all controlled by the Master.
The Child then begins interacting vocally, and everything the Child says can change the discussion between Objects, and between Objects and the Child.
By voice recognition the Master will understand the Child's comments, or at least key words and inflection, and when unclear can say “I don't understand. What did you mean?” or “What?”
Logic within the Master can select which of the toys will respond to the Child, what will be “said” via the speakers, and the Master will coordinate all toys by Bluetooth signal.
Thereby, the Child can enter into a simple dialog with the toys, or a complex discussion with several of them.
Any low-power RF system will serve as the communication link between the Master and the Satellites.
IR can also be made to work, but it will have limitations regarding object position and computer interface (see below).
This is for dolls, action figures, vehicles, stuffed animals, etc. There can be motion, a playset, non-interactive objects, and other features comprising the system but consistent with the basic concept.
The Child will be seen as having an interactive and complex discussion with two, three, or more dolls or action figures, of which some might move in response to commands, with great diversity of phrases and responses. The Child (and perhaps the parent) will be fascinated and charmed as the toys “talk” with each other in logical and interesting ways. Content can be elevated such that the discussion is at age 5 or 6—or even more—with great realism.
This establishes a new category of interactive toys that can be fun, educational, and highly stimulating. A computer can be added to the network, permitting the download via RF of entire discussion packages or scenarios on specific educational topics. This expands branding opportunities: Disney figures, Sesame Street, etc. can be licensed and will talk with familiar voices, but this will be the first time that they talk with each other and with the Child in interactive ways.
In its preferred embodiment, the present invention is expressed as two or more similar toy objects, of which one is the Master Object containing a microphone and voice recognition circuit (for detection and recognition of the Child's speech), a microcontroller (for operation of a pseudo-random number generator to select from a long list of phrases and words, and for selection of the responder to the Child's statements), and the other is a Satellite Object. Both contain a power source such as a battery, plus an RF transceiver, speaker, amplifier, and associated wiring.
That system thus communicates between Objects and a computer via the supplied RF transceiver, and with the Child via voice recognition and the supplied speaker, said speaker to have unique voices for each of the Objects.
In that embodiment, the physical configuration of the present invention is a set of two or more Objects that enter into dialog with each other in productive, rational, and entertaining ways that are rarely repeated, and in which the Child can get involved to affect the direction of said dialog.
The basic execution of the present invention requires two components, the Master Object and the Satellite Object, though each can take many forms depending upon the specific toy comprising the product that includes the present invention.
Both OBJECTs first include a power source, typically one or more cells to power that Object. If rechargeable, the product includes a recharging station or method.
Both OBJECTS include a speaker, which is connected to an analog audio amplifier, which is connected to the output of an RF receiver, such as a Bluetooth receiver.
The MASTER OBJECT also includes a microphone, or uses the speaker as a microphone, which is connected to the input of a voice recognition circuit which is connected to an analog to digital converter which is connected to the microcontroller or computing engine which is programmed with voice recognition circuitry, or to a stand-alone voice recognition circuit.
The MASTER OBJECT is programmable via wireless (Bluetooth, WiFi, etc.) or wired connection (USB, etc.) to permit a computer to load new tables of responses corresponding to new subject matter, such as history, spelling, geography, and ethics.