Title:
Interactive real world gaming supported over internet protocol multimedia subsystem
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method is provided for administering an interactive real world game in which a player (20) is to find a designated target. Suitably, the player (20) employs mobile user equipment (UE) (40) to participate in the game, wherein the UE (40) is served by a wireless access network (32) providing the UE (40) access to an Internet Protocol (IP) Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) (30). The method includes: sending a clue to the UE (40) via the IMS (30), the clue hinting at an identity of the designated target; receiving an answer to the clue, the answer being submitted from the UE (40) via the IMS (30); and, determining whether the received answer correctly or incorrectly identifies the designated target.



Inventors:
Benco, David S. (Winfield, IL, US)
Lee, Anne Yin-fee (Naperville, IL, US)
Mathai, Stinson S. (Wheaton, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/888990
Publication Date:
02/05/2009
Filing Date:
08/03/2007
Assignee:
Lucent Technologies Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
WONG, JEFFREY KEITH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Fay, Sharpe/lucent (1100 SUPERIOR AVE, SEVENTH FLOOR, CLEVELAND, OH, 44114, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for administering an interactive real world game in which a player is to find a designated target, wherein said player employs mobile user equipment (UE) to participate in the game, said UE being served by a wireless access network providing the UE access to an Internet Protocol (IP) Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), said method comprising: (a) sending a clue to the UE via the IMS, said clue hinting at an identity of the designated target; (b) receiving an answer to the clue, said answer being submitted from the UE via the IMS; and, (c) determining whether the received answer correctly or incorrectly identifies the designated target.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein said received answer includes an image obtained by the UE and step (d) comprises: analyzing the image included in the received answer to determine whether or not the image included in the received answer depicts the designated target such that if the image included in the received answer is determined to depict the designated target, then the received answer is determined to correctly identify the designated target, otherwise if the image included in the received answer is determined not to depict the designated target, then the received answer is determined to incorrectly identify the designated target.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein said analyzing comprises: comparing the image included in the received answer to a reference image of the designated target such that if the image included in the received answer sufficiently matches the reference image, then the image included in the received answer is determined to depict the designated target, otherwise if the image included in the received answer does not sufficiently match the reference image, then the image included in the received answer is determined to not depict the designated target.

4. The method of claim 2, said method further comprising: (e) establishing a position of the UE at a selected point in time; and, (f) determining whether the received answer is valid or invalid based upon the established position of the UE.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein step (e) comprises: employing a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver provisioned in the UE to establish the position of the UE.

6. The method of claim 4, wherein step (f) comprises: determining that the received answer is valid if the established position of the UE sufficiently matches an actual location of the designated target, otherwise determining that the received answer is invalid if the established position of the UE does not sufficiently match the actual location of the designated target.

7. The method of claim 6, wherein the selected point in time is one of a time when the image is obtained by the UE, a time when the answer is received and a time when the answer is submitted by the UE.

8. A system for administering an interactive real world game in which a player is to find a designated target, wherein said player employs mobile user equipment (UE) to participate in the game, said UE being served by a wireless access network providing the UE access to an Internet Protocol (IP) Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), said system comprising: clue supplying means for sending a clue to the UE via the IMS, said clue hinting at an identity of the designated target; answer receiving means for receiving an answer to the clue, said answer being submitted from the UE via the IMS; and, answer evaluation means for determining whether the received answer correctly or incorrectly identifies the designated target.

9. The system of claim 8, wherein said received answer includes an image obtained by the UE and the answer evaluation means comprises: image analysis means for analyzing the image included in the received answer to determine whether or not the image included in the received answer depicts the designated target such that if the image analysis means determines that image included in the received answer does depict the designated target, then the answer evaluation means determines that the received answer correctly identifies the designated target, otherwise if the image analysis means determines that the image included in the received answer does not depict the designated target, then the answer evaluation means determines that the received answer incorrectly identifies the designated target.

10. The system of claim 9, wherein said image analysis means is operative to compare the image included in the received answer to a reference image of the designated target such that if the image included in the received answer sufficiently matches the reference image, then the image analysis means determines that the image included in the received answer does depict the designated target, otherwise if the image included in the received answer does not sufficiently match the reference image, then the image analysis means determines that the image included in the received answer does not depict the designated target.

11. The system of claim 9, said system further comprising: positioning means for establishing a position of the UE at a selected point in time; and, validation means for determining whether the received answer is valid or invalid based upon the established position of the UE.

12. The system of claim 11, wherein said positioning means comprise: a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver provisioned in the UE to establish the position of the UE.

13. The system of claim 11, wherein said validation means determine that the received answer is valid if the established position of the UE sufficiently matches an actual location of the designated target, otherwise said validation means determine that the received answer is invalid if the established position of the UE does not sufficiently match the actual location of the designated target.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the selected point in time is one of a time when the image is obtained by the UE, a time when the answer is received and a time when the answer is submitted by the UE.

Description:

FIELD

The present inventive subject matter relates to the art of wireless telecommunications networks. Particular application is found in conjunction with an Internet Protocol (IP) Multimedia Subsystem, and the specification makes particular reference thereto. However, it is to be appreciated that aspects of the present inventive subject matter are also amenable to other like networks, devices and/or applications.

BACKGROUND

Generally, multiplayer interactive games played over computer networks, such as the Internet, are widely popular. High resolution computer graphics and broadband connection speeds have further encouraged on-line game playing through the enhancement of virtual reality environments. However, computer simulations can only emulate the real world or true reality to a limited extent. Accordingly, there remains a strong desire to physically compete in real world multiplayer interactive games.

For example, a scavenger hunt is a well known interactive multiplayer real world game whereby players uncover or otherwise use clues to find designated objects and/or locations within a particular geographic region or set of boundaries. Such games can be used on corporate retreats, organization meeting or the like as a team building, educational, motivational and/or other like exercise. Additionally, a scavenger hunt game may also be a tool used to provide or enhance a guided tour of a particular location, e.g., a museum, zoo, public garden, park, city, etc.

Ultimately, to ensure compliance with the rules of the game, it is desirable to validate that a player has indeed found the appropriate objects and/or reached the designated locations. Traditionally, computer networks have been unable to provide suitable validation or they could be easily spoofed or fooled, e.g., by falsified, illegitimate or inaccurate input from a player. Accordingly, the playing of multiplayer interactive games in a real world environment can give rise to other burdens. For example, in connection with the aforementioned scavenger hunt game, game marshals are commonly employed to manually verify compliance with the game rules. However, such a solution can be both expensive and/or error-prone, e.g., including manual data entry, dedicated human observers, etc.

Accordingly, a new and improved system and/or method is provided that overcomes the above-referenced problems and others.

SUMMARY

In accordance with one embodiment, a method is provided for administering an interactive real world game in which a player is to find a designated target(s). Suitably, the player employs mobile user equipment (UE) to participate in the game, wherein the UE is served by a wireless access network providing the UE access to an Internet Protocol (IP) Multimedia Subsystem (IMS). The method includes: sending a clue to the UE via the IMS, the clue hinting at an identity of the designated target; receiving an answer to the clue, the answer being submitted from the UE via the IMS; and, determining whether the received answer correctly or incorrectly identifies the designated target.

In accordance with another embodiment, a system is provided for administering an interactive real world game in which a player is to find a designated target. Suitably, the player employs mobile user equipment (UE) to participate in the game, wherein the UE is served by a wireless access network providing the UE access to an Internet Protocol (IP) Multimedia Subsystem (IMS). The system includes: clue supplying means for sending a clue to the UE via the IMS, the clue hinting at an identity of the designated target; answer receiving means for receiving an answer to the clue, the answer being submitted from the UE via the IMS; and, answer evaluation means for determining whether the received answer correctly or incorrectly identifies the designated target.

Numerous advantages and benefits of the inventive subject matter disclosed herein will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading and understanding the present specification.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The inventive subject matter may take form in various components and arrangements of components, and in various steps and arrangements of steps. The drawings are only for purposes of illustrating preferred embodiments and are not to be construed as limiting. Further, it is to be appreciated that the drawings are not to scale.

FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating an exemplary network architecture suitable for practicing aspects of the present inventive subject matter.

FIG. 2 is a post and rail call flow diagram showing an exemplary manner for administering a real world interactive game in accordance with aspects of the present inventive subject matter.

FIG. 3 is a flow chart illustrating an exemplary process executed by a game server to administer a real world interactive game in accordance with aspects of the present inventive subject matter.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

For clarity and simplicity, the present specification shall refer to structural and/or functional elements, relevant communication standards, protocols and/or services, and other components that are commonly known in the art without further detailed explanation as to their configuration or operation except to the extent they have been modified or altered in accordance with and/or to accommodate the preferred embodiment(s) presented herein.

Generally, the present specification relates to a real world interactive game administered to players by an application or game server via an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS). As is known in the wireless telecommunication arts, the IMS is an architectural framework (originally designed by the wireless standards body known as the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)) for delivering IP multimedia to wireless mobile device users. That is to say, the IMS supports the use of IP multimedia applications and/or services within a wireless telecommunications system or network. Generally, the IMS enables wireless network service providers and/or operators to offer their subscribers (i.e., mobile users) multimedia services based on and/or built upon Internet applications, services and/or protocols (e.g., including SIP (Session Initiation Protocol), which is used to manage the IP multimedia sessions).

More specifically, the present specification relates to a scavenger hunt game, e.g., in which one or more players participate in the game using their mobile user equipment (UE) which is served by a wireless telecommunications network providing access to the game server via the IMS. Suitably, based upon one or more clues, each player attempts to find one more designated objects and/or to reach one or more designated locations within a set geographic region or some particular bounded area. The aforementioned clues are, e.g., provided to each player's UE by the game server via the IMS.

In one suitable embodiment, a player indicates that they have found what they believe to be one of the designated objects by taking, recording or otherwise capturing a still or video image of the found object, e.g., with a camera equipped on their UE. The captured image is submit from the UE via the IMS to the game server which determines if the submitted image sufficiently matches the designated object which the player was suppose to find. For example, the game server suitably has access to an image recognition function which is used to make the foregoing determination.

Additionally, the game server also has access to UE position or location information. For example, the UE is optionally equipped or otherwise provisioned with a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or the like from which the position or location of the UE can be determined at a given time in the usual manner. Suitably, the GPS receiver is used to calculate or otherwise obtain the position or location of the UE and the UE communicates this information to the game server or the game server otherwise obtains this information to determine the position or location of the UE at selected times. Accordingly, the game server can optionally verify that a player has reached a designated location.

In one suitable embodiment, the UE position or location information is used by the game server to ensure that submitted images received from the UE are obtained by the players from the actual locations where designated objects are to be found by the players. In this manner, the game server guards against players submitting fraudulent images, i.e., images which may be obtained in some way other than the players themselves actually capturing the images of the designated objects at their actual locations.

For example, assume one of the designated objects the players are supposed to find is a particular landmark at a specific location. A player may deduce from the provided clues the identity of the landmark. However, rather than going to the specific location of the actual landmark and capturing an image of the same to submit to the game server, an unscrupulous player may attempt to cheat by downloading an image of the landmark to their UE, e.g., from the Internet, and submitting the downloaded image (i.e., the fraudulent image) to the game server in lieu of an image the player actually captures themselves at the landmark's specific location. However, using the UE position or location information available to the game server, the game server optionally verifies the position or location of the UE at or about the time the image is captured and/or submitted. Therefore, if the image is captured and/or submitted when the UE is not at or within a threshold proximity to the specific location of the landmark, then the game server optionally refuses to accept the image or otherwise does not credit the player with having successfully found the landmark. Accordingly, in order to obtain credit for having found the landmark, the player is obligated to go to the specific location of the actual landmark where the player can themselves capture an image of the actual landmark and submit the same to the game server.

With reference now to FIG. 1, there is shown an application server or game server 10 that is operative to administer a real world interactive game (e.g., a scavenger hunt game) to a player 20 via an IMS 30. Suitably, the player 20 participates in the game by using the UE 40 which is served by a wireless access network 32 that provides the UE 40 access to the game server 10 via the IMS 30. While only a single player 20 and UE 40 are illustrated in FIG. 1 for clarity and simplicity herein, it is to be appreciated that in practice the game server 10 generally administers the game at any given time to a plurality of similarly situated players employing similarly provisioned UE.

In a suitable embodiment, the UE 40 is a mobile node (MN), e.g., a mobile telephone, wireless Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) or other suitable mobile station (MS) or mobile terminal (MT), that operatively communicates with the wireless access network 32 in the usual manner. As illustrated, the UE 40 is equipped or otherwise provisioned as is generally known in the art with a camera 42 suitable for selectively taking, recording or otherwise capturing still or video images of objects or targets at which the camera 42 is pointed or otherwise directed. Additionally, the UE 40 is also optionally equipped or otherwise provisioned in the usual manner with a GPS receiver 44 that is operable to monitor, track or other determine the position or location of the UE 40 at selected times. Alternatively, location of the user can be obtained by wireless network-based location determination means.

Generally, the wireless access network 32 is implemented as an IMS Radio Access Network (RAN) or similar subsystem operatively connected to and/or in communication with the IMS 30 in the usual manner. For example, in the RAN, one or more base stations are employed to provide a radio frequency (RF) or other suitable wireless or over-the-air-interface with the UE 40. Each base station (BS) suitably provides the aforementioned interface in a designated geographic area served by the BS—i.e., in a particular cell served by the BS. Accordingly, as the UE 40 is carried from cell to cell by the player 20, the respective base stations serving those cells provide the UE 40 with the aforementioned interface to the RAN thereby operatively connecting the UE 40 with the IMS 30. Additionally, the RAN may also include a wide area local access network (WLAN) through which the UE 40 is operatively connected to the IMS 30 in the usual manner.

In one exemplary embodiment, during game play, one or more clues are provided to the player's UE 40 by the game server 10 via the IMS 30. Optionally, the clues are provided to the UE 40 in any one or more various media formats, e.g., including a Short Message Service (SMS) message or other appropriate text message or instant message (IM), an e-mail message, a still or video image, a voice message, etc. Suitably, the clues provide hints to the identity of one more designated targets (i.e., objects or locations) which the player 20 is to find and/or reach within a set geographic region or some particular bounded area. Accordingly, the goal of the game is for the player 20 to return answers or responses to the game server 10 via the IMS 30 which prove or otherwise provide suitable evidence that the player 20 has indeed correctly deciphered the clues and found and/or reached the correct targets identified by the clues. For example, once the player 20 has deduced what they believe to be the identity of a designated target, the player 20 proceeds with their UE 40 to the actual location of the proposed target and submits their answer or response to the game server 10 via the IMS 30. Suitably, the aforementioned answer or response includes an image (i.e., still or video) of the proposed target captured with the camera 42 provisioned in the UE 40. Alternately, an answer or response that adequately describes or identifies the proposed target is provided to the game server 10 in any one or more various media formats, e.g., including a SMS message or other appropriate text message or IM, an e-mail message, a voice message, etc.

Having received an answer or response from the UE 40 via the IMS 30, the game server 10 validates the submitted answer or response, i.e., determines whether or not the submitted answer or response is correct. If the answer or response is correct and/or otherwise validated by the game server 10, then the player 20 is given credit for having found and/or reached a designated target. Otherwise, if the answer or response is incorrect or not validated by the game server 10, then the player 20 is not given credit for having found and/or reached a designated target.

As previously indicated, in one suitable embodiment, the answer or response generally takes the form of an image (i.e., still or video) of a proposed target, e.g., captured by the player 20 using the camera 42, and submitted by the UE 40 to the game server 10 via the IMS 30. In this case, suitably, the game server 10 employs an optional image recognition function 12 to analyze the submitted image and determine if the corresponding answer or response is correct, i.e., if the submitted image does in fact show or depict a designated target. In practice, the image recognition function 12 may be implemented in any one of a variety of known manners. For example, suitably, the image recognition function 12 compares the submitted image with one or more reference images of the corresponding designated target to determine if there is a sufficient match there between. Optionally, the reference images for various targets designated in the particular game are maintained in a reference image database (RIDB) 14 accessible by the reference image function 12. Accordingly, if a submitted image sufficiently matches the corresponding reference image, then the answer or response including the submitted image is generally deemed to be correct by the game server 10. Otherwise, if the submitted image does not sufficiently match the corresponding reference image, then the answer or response including the submitted image is generally deemed to be incorrect by the game server 10. Suitably, when the submitted image is in video format, optionally one or more frames may be selected from the video for the foregoing comparison.

In one exemplary embodiment, the game server 10 also optionally tracks, determines or otherwise obtains the position or location of the UE 40 from time to time so as to ensure compliance with game rules, e.g., to validate that designate target locations have been reached by the player 20 and/or to confirm that answers or responses provided by the player 20 are obtained at and/or submitted from the actual specific locations of designated target objects. For example, by employing the optional GPS receiver 44 in the usual manner, the UE 40 optionally provides the game server 10 its current position or location for time to time. Alternately, any one or more other well known techniques are optionally used to track, monitor and/or detect the location of the UE 40 at any given time such that the determined UE position or location information is supplied, provided and/or otherwise made available to the game server 10. For example, a network or UE-based technique is employed to determine or measure the position or location of the UE 40, e.g., using over-the-air-interfaces and/or signals exchanged between the UE 40 and one or more base stations of the RAN. More specifically, suitable known network and/or UE-based solutions for determining the location of the UE 40 include, without limitation: observed time difference (OTD); time of arrival (TOA); time difference of arrival (TDOA); angle of arrival (AOA); multipath fingerprinting; timing advance (TA); enhanced forward link triangulation (E-FLT); received signal strength (RSS); etc. Optionally, a hybrid location determination solution combining one or more of the aforementioned techniques is employed or so-called assisted-GPS may also be employed.

Optionally, each time an answer or response is submitted to the game server 10, the location or position of the UE 40 is determined and/or otherwise obtained by the game server 10. Suitably, at the time the answer or response is submitted by the UE 40, the current location of the UE 40 is submitted along therewith from the UE 40. Alternately, e.g., in an embodiment where the camera 42 is used to capture an image which is to be included in the answer or response, the UE 40 optionally records or otherwise notes the position of the UE 40 at the time the image is captured or otherwise obtained by the camera 42. Accordingly, when the answer or response containing the captured image is submitted to the game server 10 via the IMS 30, the location of the UE 40 at the time the image was captured or otherwise obtained by the camera 42 is optionally forwarded along with the answer or response, e.g., rather than the current location of the UE 40 which may have changed in the interim. In this manner, the player 20 is able to submit an answer or response from a location other than where the image was captured, while still supplying the game server 10 the accurate location from which the image was obtained. This allows the player 20 to begin searching for and/or moving toward the next designated target while the answer or response associated with the prior designated target is being submitted.

As previously indicated, in one optional embodiment, the clues provided to the UE 40 from the game server 10 via the IMS 30 relate to a designated target location that the player 20 is suppose to reach. The player 20 accordingly travels or otherwise moves to a particular location they think the clues are hinting at or otherwise identifying. When the player 20 reaches the proposed target location, they suitably employ the UE 40 to signal the game server 10, at which time the game server 10 optionally obtains or otherwise determines the current location of the UE 40. Accordingly, if it is determined by the game server 10 that the UE 40 is at or within a threshold proximity of the correct designated location which the player 20 is suppose to reach, then the player 20 is given credit for reaching the designated location in question; otherwise, if it is determined by the game server 10 that the UE 40 is not at or is outside the threshold proximity of the correct designated location which the player 20 is suppose to reach, then the player 20 is not given credit for reaching the designated location in question.

Similarly, in another optional embodiment, the clues provided to the UE 40 may relate to a designated target object that the player 20 is suppose to find. The player 20 accordingly travels or otherwise moves to a particular location in which they think they will find the designated object the clues are hinting at or otherwise identifying. When the player 20 finds the proposed target object at the location where it was sought, they suitably employ the UE 40 to generate an answer or response (e.g., including capturing an image of the proposed target object with the camera 42) and submit the answer or response to the game server 10 via the IMS 30. Suitably, in addition to verifying that the answer or response is correct or accurate (e.g., in the manner described above), the game server 10 also verifies that the answer or response was generated at or submitted from the actual location where the designated target object was to be found. For example, at the time the answer or response is submitted, the game server 10 optionally determines or otherwise obtains the current location of the UE 40. Alternately, the game server 10 references UE position or location information supplied with the answer or response to determine the position or location of the UE 40 at the time the answer or response was generated. In either case, if it is determined by the game server 10 that an otherwise correct answer or response was generated or was submitted when the UE 40 was at or within a threshold proximity of the actual location of a designated object which the player 20 was suppose to find, then the player 20 is given credit for finding the designated object in question; otherwise, if it is determined by the game server 10 that an answer or response (even if it is otherwise correct) was generated or was submitted when the UE 40 was not at or was outside the threshold proximity of the actual location of the designated object which the player 20 was suppose to find, then the player 20 is not given credit for finding the designated object in question.

In yet another optional embodiment, the game server 10 tracks the location of the UE 40 and maintains a record of the UE's positions at given time intervals. Optionally, when the camera 42 is used by the player 20 to capture an image of a proposed target object, the image is time stamped with the time and/or date of its capture. Accordingly, when a captured image is included in an answer or response submitted by the UE 40 to the game server 10 via the IMS 30, the game server 10 compares the associated time stamp against the maintained record of the UE's positions over time. Accordingly, if the time stamp corroborates that the image was captured while the UE 40 was at or within a threshold proximity of the actual location of a designated object which the player 20 was suppose to find, then the player 20 is given credit for finding the designated object in question; otherwise, if time stamp indicates that the image was captured while the UE 40 was not at or was outside the threshold proximity of the actual location of the designated object which the player 20 was suppose to find, then the player 20 is not given credit for finding the designated object in question.

With reference now to FIG. 2, the illustrated call flow demonstrates an exemplary manner in which a suitable game is administered by the game server 10. Suitably, the player 20 first employs the UE 40 to place a “Registration Request” to join the game being administered by the game server 10. Optionally, there are various ways provided to register for participation in the game, e.g., including SMS, IM, e-mail, webpage access, voice call, etc. Suitably, at this time, any appropriate billing can be done to the player's account.

The ISM 30 generally recognizes the “Registration Request” received from the UE 40 and forwards it to the game server 10 where appropriate actions are taken for the player 20 to be authorized and/or registered for participation in the game. After the player 20 is registered for the game, the game server 10 suitably returns an acknowledgement or “ACK” back to the player's UE 40 via the IMS 30. Optionally, the “ACK” is sent as any of a variety of media types, e.g., including SMS message, IM, e-mail, voice message, etc.

Once the player 20 has registered for the game, the game server 10 suitably sends the clues to the UE 40 via the IMS 30. Again, the clues may optionally be sent as any of a variety of media types, e.g., including SMS message, IM, e-mail, voice message, still image or video, etc. Suitably, one or more clues are sent for each designated target location or object the player 20 is to reach and/or find. Optionally, the clues for all the targets are sent up-front so that the player 20 may choose the order in which to find and/or reach them. Alternately, the clues for each target are sent successively after each target is correctly reached or found by the player 20 such that the player is obligated to follow a set order.

As described above, the player 20 deciphers the clues and uses the UE 40 to submit their “Answers” to the game server 10 via the IMS 30. Again, the “Answers” can optionally be submitted in any one or more of a variety of media formats, e.g., including SMS message, IM, e-mail, voice message, still or video image, etc. The game server 10 in turn validates and/or otherwise determines the accuracy or correctness of the submitted answers, e.g., as described above. Optionally, e.g., the player 20 may have to be at a particular location to be able to submit a correct or otherwise valid answer. The image recognition function 12 may also optionally be used to verify that an image submitted with the answer does in fact show or depict the corresponding target object hinted at or identified by the previously supplied clues.

Once validated, the game server 10 optionally returns an “Answer Response” to the UE 40 via the IMS 30. Suitably, for example, the “Answer Response” indicates to the player 20 whether or not the previously submitted answer was correct and/or valid. Again, the “Answer Response” can optionally be returned to the UE 40 in any one or more of a variety of media formats, e.g., including SMS message, IM, e-mail, voice message, still or video image, etc. Suitably, the winner of the game is the player, e.g., that is first to provide all the correct/valid answers or that provides all the correct/valid answers in the shortest amount of time or that provides the most correct/valid answers in a determined time period or over a set amount of time. Optionally, points or credit may be deduced for incorrect or invalid answers supplied by the player 20.

With reference now to FIG. 3, the illustrated flow chart shows an exemplary process carried out by the game server 10 to administered a scavenger hunt game wherein the goal is for the player 20 to capture an image of a designated target object at its actual location with the camera 42 of the UE 40.

Suitably, the process begins at step 100 with the game server 10 receiving a submitted image from the UE 40 via the IMS 30. At step 102, the game server 10 obtains, determines or otherwise establishes a position or location of the UE 40. For example, optionally, the UE 40 employs the GPS receiver 44 to determine its current position and communicate the same to the game server 10 when the image is submitted. Alternately, the UE 40 employs the GPS receiver 44 to determine the position of the UE 40 at the time the image was captured (e.g., with the camera 42) and this position is communicated to the game server 10 along with the submitted image. In still other suitable embodiments, alternate means and/or methods (e.g., as indicated above) are optionally used to determine the position or location of the UE 40 at the appropriate point in time (i.e., either at the time the image is submitted or at the time the image is captured).

At step 104, the game server 10 analyzes the received image, e.g., using the image recognition function 12 as described above. That is to say, suitably the received image is compared to one or more reference images of the designated target object, e.g., obtained from the RIDB 14. Accordingly, at decision step 106, the game server 10 determines if the received image sufficiently matches one or more of the reference images to which it was compared. If there is a sufficient match, then the received image is deemed correct (i.e., the received image in fact depicts or shows the designate target object) and the process continues to step 108. Otherwise, if there is not a sufficient match, then the received image is deemed incorrect (i.e., the received image does not in fact depict or show the designate target object) and the process branches to step 110.

At step 108, the game server 10 analyzes the position of the UE 40 established in step 102. For example, the established position of the UE 40 is compared to an actual location where the designated target object is to be found. Suitably, (as shown in FIG. 1) the actual location of designated targets are maintained in a target location database (TLDB) 16 that is accessible by the game server 10. Accordingly, at decision step 112, the game server 10 determines if the established position of the UE 40 sufficiently matches the actual location of the designated target object—i.e., if the established position of the UE 40 is at or is within a threshold proximity of the actual location of the designated target object. If the established UE position sufficiently matches the actual designated object's location, then the received image is deemed valid (i.e., the received image was in fact obtained or captured at or was in fact submitted from the actual location of the designated target object) and the process continues to step 114. Otherwise, if the established UE position does not sufficiently match the actual designated object's location, then the received image is deemed invalid (i.e., the received image was not in fact obtained or captured at or was not in fact submitted from the actual location of the designated target object) and the process branches to step 110.

Suitably, when step 110 is reached, the player 20 is not credited with having found the designated target object and the game server 10 notifies the player 20 with an appropriate message or signal sent to the UE 40 via the IMS 30 that the submitted image received by the game server 10 has been deemed incorrect or invalid as the case may be. Alternately, when step 114 is reached, the player 20 is credited with having found the designated target object and the game server 10 notifies the player 20 with an appropriate message or signal sent to the UE 40 via the IMS 30 that the submitted image received by the game server 10 has been deemed correct and valid.

In conclusion, it is to be appreciated that in connection with the particular exemplary embodiments presented herein certain structural and/or function features are described as being incorporated in defined elements and/or components. However, it is contemplated that these features may, to the same or similar benefit, also likewise be incorporated in other elements and/or components where appropriate. It is also to be appreciated that different aspects of the exemplary embodiments may be selectively employed as appropriate to achieve other alternate embodiments suited for desired applications, the other alternate embodiments thereby realizing the respective advantages of the aspects incorporated therein.

It is also to be appreciated that particular elements or components described herein may have their functionality suitably implemented via hardware, software, firmware or a combination thereof. Additionally, it is to be appreciated that certain elements described herein as incorporated together may under suitable circumstances be stand-alone elements or otherwise divided. Similarly, a plurality of particular functions described as being carried out by one particular element may be carried out by a plurality of distinct elements acting independently to carry out individual functions, or certain individual functions may be split-up and carried out by a plurality of distinct elements acting in concert. Alternately, some elements or components otherwise described and/or shown herein as distinct from one another may be physically or functionally combined where appropriate.

In short, the present specification has been set forth with reference to preferred embodiments. Obviously, modifications and alterations will occur to others upon reading and understanding the present specification. It is intended that the invention be construed as including all such modifications and alterations insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims or the equivalents thereof.





 
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