Title:
Playing a game of chance in space
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of playing a game of chance in space is claimed. A container houses a plurality of uniquely identifiable game pieces and the preferred embodiment utilizes balls. The balls are moved in a random fashion. Periodically a ball is removed and the value on the ball is identified. The value is transmitted from the space structure. The value is also displayed on a display and the image of the display is transmitted from the space structure.



Inventors:
Bigelow, Robert T. (Las Vegas, NV, US)
Application Number:
11/280114
Publication Date:
05/17/2007
Filing Date:
11/17/2005
Assignee:
Bigelow Aerospace
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B71/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LIM, SENG HENG
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Franklin, Esq. Gibbs Bigelow Aerospace E. (1899 West Brooks Avenue, North Las Vegas, NV, 89032, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for playing a game of chance in space, the method comprising the steps of: placing a structure in space comprising; a container having a plurality of game pieces and each game piece having a unique value thereon; at least one camera; a display screen; a display screen controller; a communications system; moving the game pieces within the container; separating a game piece from the plurality of game pieces within the container and the camera receiving the image of the value of the separated game piece; transferring the image of the unique value of the separated game piece from the camera to the communications system; transmitting the image of the unique value of the separated game piece from the communications system to a location external to the structure; transferring the image of the unique value of the separated game piece from the camera to the display controller and the display controller causing the value to be displayed on the display and a camera receiving the image of the display; transferring the image of the display from the camera to the communications system; and transmitting the image of the display from the communications system to a location external to the structure.

2. The method for playing a game of chance in a structure in space as in claim 1 wherein the game piece is substantially in the shape of a ball.

3. A method for playing a game of chance in a structure in space, the structure comprising a container having a plurality of game pieces and each game piece having a unique value thereon, at least one camera, a display screen, a display screen controller, and a communications, the method comprising the steps of: moving the game pieces within the container; separating a game piece from the plurality of game pieces within the container and the camera receiving the image of the value of the separated game piece; transferring the image of the unique value of the separated game piece from the camera to the communications system; transmitting the image of the unique value of the separated game piece from the communications system to a location external to the structure; transferring the image of the unique value of the separated game piece from the camera to the display controller and the display controller causing the value to be displayed on the display and a camera receiving the image of the display; transferring the image of the display from the camera to the communications system; transmitting the image of the display from the communications system to a location external to the structure; and causing the separated game piece to be held in a separate compartment of the container.

4. The method for playing a game of chance in a structure in space as in claim 3 wherein the game piece is substantially in the shape of a ball.

5. The method of playing a game of chance in a structure in space as in claim 3, wherein the steps are repeated at least twice.

6. The method of playing a game of chance in a space structure as in claim 5, wherein the selected game pieces are transferred from the compartment into the container with the plurality of balls.

7. The method of playing a game of chance in a space structure as in claim 5, further comprising the step of clearing the values from the display.

8. Playing a game of chance in a structure in space, the structure comprising a container with a plurality of game pieces and each game piece having a unique value thereon, at least one camera, playing the game comprising: means for moving the game pieces within the container; means for separating a game piece from the plurality of game pieces within the container; means for transmitting the image of the value of the separated game piece to a location external to the structure; means for displaying the value of the separated game piece on a display; means for transmitting the image of the display to a location external to the structure.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to gaming and in particular for playing a game of chance in space.

2. Description of the Prior Art

There are a variety of popular games that have traditionally relied upon the use of a number of uniquely identifiable game pieces pooled together in a container, mixed in a random fashion, and chosen from the pool one at a time pursuant to the rules of the particular game. Often these game pieces are in the form of balls, however the present invention is not so limited. Such games of chance include, among others, Bingo, Keno, Powerball, and a variety of lottery related games.

In most instances, players can view the action of the balls being bounced around in the container and then a ball being chosen from the pool. An air of excitement develops as the players watch in anticipation of the drawing of the balls from the pool. Each player hoping the balls chosen will provide them the opportunity to win the game.

This is repeated innumerable times in homes and gaming establishments around the world every day. While the types of games and the rules vary, many games are familiar to player worldwide. One such game is bingo.

In bingo each player has at least one Bingo card. The card has a matrix of five rows and five columns. The columns are lettered B I N G 0 from left to right across the top of the matrix and each bingo card has five numbers in each row except the center I column which has a “free space” at the intersection of the third row and the third column. Numbers 1-15 are assigned to the first or “B” row, 16-30 to the “I” row, etc. In play, there are 75 individually numbered balls mixed together and then balls are selected one at a time. When each ball is withdrawn, the number is announced to the players, who cover any corresponding number on their bingo card. When five matrix locations are covered in a vertical column, a horizontal row or along one of the two diagonals, that player yells out “Bingo!” and he wins he game.

Variations of the game exist to peek the interest of players and provide variety. In one such variation an extra colored ball can be added as a wildcard. Rather than achieving five matrix locations in a row, a pattern such as four corner spots, or each corner of the card could be identified as a winning combination. In English Bingo the pool of balls ranges from 1 to 99.

This variety attracts an assortment of players to the game and provides the players a diverse range of interesting games to play. A profitable gaming industry has risen from drawing the players into the action of the games by displaying the random movement of the balls, the numerous variations of the rules, offering of prizes to the winners, and exalting the winners with public notoriety and recognition.

However, while each adaptation may appear to be distinct from the other, there is one common thread running through the variants. The games are all being played on the planet Earth.

A variant not yet explored is playing the games in the zero gravity environment of space. In this venue, the manner in which balls are randomized must account for the lack of a gravitational field. Also, the players are given a new incentive to play.

The players would be participating in more than a game of chance. They would be integral players in a space-based enterprise allowing them to take part in the experience of space exploration and commercialization. A new level of excitement could be offered to players that would not be available on the Earth.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a method of playing a game of chance in space. A container, a number of game pieces each having a unique value, a display screen, display screen controller, at least one camera, and a communications system are placed into space. The game pieces reside in a container and are moved about in the container. A number of game pieces are chosen one at a time. A camera receives the image of the value of the chosen game piece. The communications system transmits the camera image to a ground station. The value is also transmitted to a display screen controller that controls the display screen and the display screen displays the values of the chosen game pieces. A camera receives the image of the display screen. The communications system transmits the image of the display screen to a ground station. At the end of a game, the chosen game pieces are returned to the container and the display screen is cleared.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a cutaway view of a container for playing a game;

FIG. 2 is a diagram identifying the transmission of the game piece image information from the structure;

FIG. 3 is a diagram identifying transmission of the display information from the structure; and

FIG. 4 is a diagram identifying transmission of the camera information from the structure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

The present invention is directed to the use of uniquely identifiable game pieces in a game of chance. Such game piece could be, but not limited to, coin-like, square, octagonal, or other shapes. The preferred embodiment of the present invention is directed to the use of balls. In alternate embodiments the mechanical structures used with the game pieces may vary significantly, however the principles identified remain substantially the same.

When a gaming device using balls is operated on Earth, the gravity figures into the method chosen for randomly moving the balls. The situation is different where gravity may be negligible such as when a spacecraft is in orbit about the Earth. In this situation, the method for moving the balls must account for the lack of gravity.

FIG. 1 illustrates a preferred embodiment for a gaming device that is adapted for use in a low gravity environment. The container 10 contains a plurality of balls 12. Fans 14 are used to rotate the air 16 and thereby cause the balls 12 to move within the container 10. This movement is characterized herein as random even though the fans can be used in a fashion to move the balls in a desired direction. Vents 18 allow for air 16 to flow from the container into the structure 20.

With the air 16 flowing through the container 10, the balls 12 collide with one another and with the container 10. Periodically, a valve 22 is opened. The valve 22 has small vent openings that allow for the passage of air when the valve is closed, but not the passage of a ball 12 when the valve is closed.

The opened valve 22 allows a ball to enter into a reservoir 26. The valve 22 is the closed and the ball is retained within the reservoir 26. This is the manner in which a ball 12 is separated from the balls 12 in the container 10.

It will be appreciated by those familiar with gaming equipment and the physics of space flight that the balls can be moved in a number of ways that are not limited to the air flow of the preferred embodiment. Magnetized balls and electromagnetic forces are examples of a number of alternatives that can be utilized to move the balls.

Furthermore, a valve is just one way a ball 12 can be separated from the balls 12 in the container 10. In another embodiment, a magnetized ball can be attached to an area of the wall of the container. Thus, removing the ball from play and still allowing a camera to view the unique identifier on the ball. Persons skilled in the art would appreciate the variety of ways a ball could be separated and viewed.

The positioning of the fans 14 and the air currents created can be optimized so that the chances of a ball striking the valve 22 are high enough to allow impacts on a regular basis.

A camera 28 records the image on the ball 12. The image corresponds to the unique value of each ball. Other means may also be employed to identify the value of the ball. In an alternate embodiment each ball could contain a unique magnetic signature corresponding to the value of the ball. The signature could be read to reveal the value of the ball. In another embodiment, each ball could have a bar code on the outside of the ball that would allow a bar code reader to identify the value of the ball. Still in other embodiments, each ball could have a micro controller for transferring information correlating the value of the ball. A person skilled in the art would appreciate the various ways in which to determine the unique identifier.

In FIG. 1, a reader 29 can be used to identify the value of a ball.

After the camera 28 records the image, another valve 30 that is similar to the first valve 24 is opened. A fan 32 directs air in such a fashion as to force the. ball 12 into a compartment 34.

The balls 12 that are separated out remain in the compartment 34 until the end of the game.

Once the game ends, the fans 14 are turned off, the valves 22, 30 and 36 are opened and the fan 32 directs a current or air that forces the balls 12 from the compartment 34 back into the container 10.

The valves are then closed and another game can be played.

Turning to FIG. 2, the information 38 recorded by the camera 28 is sent to a communications device 40 that transmits the information through an antenna 42 outside of the structure 20. This can include the information identified by the reader and sent to the communications device 40. A ground-based receiver 44 can then receive the signal. In an alternate embodiment, the signal could be bounced off other satellites or sent to a satellite for relaying the information to Earth.

While this indicates a one-way transmission, information can be sent from a ground station to the structure 20. In one case, the information sent from the ground station could include commands to reset the game by returning all the balls 12 into the container 10. In another instance, the information sent from the ground station could include commands for operating the fans 14 at certain levels or individually.

Furthermore, the camera 28, or other cameras, could be used to receive images of the balls 12 bouncing inside the container 10. These images could be sent to a communications device and from there forwarded to a ground station.

In FIG. 3, the information 38 received from the camera 28 is received by a display controller 46. The display controller 46 operates a display 48 that identifies the numbers that have been identified. Information from the reader 29 can also be sent to the display controller 46. The display controller 46 would translate the information for the reader 29 to correspond to a particular value by means well known in the art. The value would then be displayed on the display 48. It will be appreciated that the display 48 can take on many forms. While the display 48 in FIG. 3 is a matrix type display comprised of columns and rows, other types of displays can be used. In the preferred embodiment, the display is comprised of light emitting diodes (LEDs) that can be lighted to indicate a particular value. In alternate embodiments, the display can be comprised of specific values with a backlight to illuminate the value as desired. A camera 50 receives the image of the display 48.

Turning to FIG. 4, the information 52 from camera 50 is received by a communications device 40 that transmits the information through an antenna 42 outside of the structure 20. A ground-based receiver 44 can then receive the signal.

In alternate embodiments, the transmission of information from the antennas could be directed to other satellites of space objects.

A novel method for playing a game of chance in space has thus been described. It is important to note that many configurations can be constructed from the ideas presented. Thus, nothing in the specification should be construed to limit the scope of the claims. Further, the embodiments identified are not limiting as to the scope of the invention.