Title:
AUDIO ANIMATION SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In one aspect, the present invention is directed to a system for rendering audio animation, the system comprising: two or more non-biotic figures; an audio player, having two or more audio sources correspondingly to the two or more non-biotic figures, for simultaneously playing the audio signals associated with the two or more non-biotic figures; and two or more speaker units corresponding to the two or more audio sources. The system may further comprise means for wireless transmission of the audio signal of at least one of the audio sources to a remote speaker unit thereof. The means for wireless transmission may comprise a wireless transmission unit deployed at the audio player, and a wireless receiving unit deployed at the speaker unit. The non-biotic figure may be a two-dimensional, three-dimensional figure, and so on.



Inventors:
Binyamin, Moshe (Jerusalem, IL)
Application Number:
12/159093
Publication Date:
09/02/2010
Filing Date:
05/26/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
381/387, 704/235, 704/E15.043
International Classes:
H04R1/02; G10L15/26; H04B3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, DAO H
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Daniel, Swirsky J. (55 REUVEN ST., BEIT SHEMESH, 99544, IL)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An audio animation system, comprising: two or more non-biotic figures; an audio player, having two or more audio sources correspondingly to said two or more non-biotic figures, for simultaneously playing the audio signals associated with said two or more non-biotic figures; and two or more speaker units corresponding to said two or more audio sources.

2. A system according to claim 1, wherein each of said speaker units is deployed closer to the non-biotic figure associated with said speaker unit than to any other of said non-biotic figures, for associating an audio signal with the non-biotic figure thereof.

3. A system according to claim 1, wherein at least one of said figures is a two-dimensional figure.

4. A system according to claim 1, wherein at least one of said figures is a three-dimensional figure.

5. A system according to claim 1, wherein said audio player is selected from a group comprising: a computer, a DVD, an MP3 player, a cassette player, a TV set, a cellular telephone.

6. A system according to claim 1, further comprising means for wireless transmission of the audio signal of at least one of said audio sources to a remote speaker unit thereof.

7. A system according to claim 6, wherein said means for wireless transmission comprises: a wireless transmission unit deployed at said audio player, and a wireless receiving unit deployed at said speaker unit.

8. A system according to claim 1, further comprising interaction means with a user.

9. A system according to claim 8, wherein said interaction means comprise speech recognition means.

10. A system according to claim 8, wherein said interaction means comprise a speech-to-text converter.

11. A system according to claim 1, wherein said two or more audio sources are of a stereophonic device.

12. A system according to claim 1, wherein the content of said two or more audio sources is provided by a remote server over a network.

13. A system according to claim 12, wherein said network is selected from a group comprising: a telephone network, a cable TV network, the Internet.

14. A system according to claim 13, further comprising means for selecting the content to be provided.

15. A system according to claim 14, wherein said means for selecting the content to be displayed is selected from a group comprising: SMS analyzer, analyzer of data sent from a Web page.

16. A system according to claim 1, wherein the content of said two or more audio sources is provided by a memory card.

17. In an audio animation system, an apparatus for operating a non-biotic figure, the apparatus comprising: a casing comprising: an audio inlet, to which an audio outlet of an audio player in connected; an RF transmitter, for transmitting the audio signal entered through said inlet; a circuitry installed in said non-biotic figure, said circuitry comprising: an RF receiver, for receiving an RF signal transmitted by said transmitter; an amplifier, for amplifying said signal; and a speaker unit, for playing said audio signal.

18. An apparatus according to claim 17, wherein said non-biotic figure further comprises means for moving one or more organs of said non-biotic figures.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of animation. More particularly, the invention relates to an audio animation system.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The term “audio-animation” refers herein to an act of creating the illusion of life to a non-biotic figure.

A talking puppet is an example of audio-animation. A talking puppet is actually a non-biotic figure adapted to play or imitate human voices. Since talking puppets are individual figures, there is no coordination between the sounds voiced by one puppet and the sounds of another puppet.

Another example of voice animation is puppet shows, very common at Disneyland and other mass entertainment centers, in which a plurality of non-biotic figures perform a show. In this case, there is coordination between the figures. A computer controls the limited movement of the puppets in coordination with a soundtrack. Since the “acting” figures and the audience are not deployed in vicinity with each other, and since the figures have a limited range of movement upon which the audience may distinguish between the talking figure and the other figures on stage, a mono sound is adequate.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a system and method for voice animation, which provides a better quality of voice animation than in the prior art.

Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent as the description proceeds.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The following embodiments and aspects thereof are described and illustrated in conjunction with systems, tools and methods, which are meant to be merely illustrative, not limiting in scope. In various embodiments, one or more of the above-described problems have been reduced or eliminated, while other embodiments are directed to other advantages or improvements.

In one aspect, the present invention is directed to an audio animation system, comprising:

    • two or more non-biotic figures;
    • an audio player, having two or more audio sources is correspondingly to the two or more non-biotic figures, for simultaneously playing the audio signals associated with the two or more non-biotic figures; and
    • two or more speaker units corresponding to the two or more audio sources.

Preferably, each of the speaker units is deployed closer to the non-biotic figure associated with the speaker unit than to any other of the non-biotic figures, thereby allowing to audience to associate an audio signal with the non-biotic figure thereof.

The non-biotic figure may be a two-dimensional, three-dimensional figure, and so on.

The audio player may be a computer, a DVD, an MP3 player, a cassette player, a TV set, a cellular telephone, and so forth.

The system may further comprise means for wireless transmission of the audio signal of at least one of the audio sources to a remote speaker unit thereof. The means for wireless transmission may comprise a wireless transmission unit deployed at the audio player, and a wireless receiving unit deployed at the speaker unit.

The system may further comprise interaction means with a user. Beyond well-known interaction means such as buttons, sliders, GUI, and so on, the interaction means may comprise also speech recognition means, speech-to-text converter, and so on.

Preferably, the two or more audio sources are of a stereophonic device, thereby using a well known technology available on the market.

In one embodiment of the invention, the content of the two or more audio sources is provided by a remote server over a network. The network may be a telephone network, a cable TV network, the Internet, and so forth. The system may further comprise means for selecting the content to be provided by the server, such as an SMS analyzer (a facility for analyzing the content of an SMS message and the like in order to “understand” to which content the user refers), analyzer of data sent from a Web page, and so on.

The content may be provided also by a memory card, such as SDCARD.

In another aspect, the present invention is directed to an apparatus for operating a non-biotic figure of an audio animation system, the apparatus comprising:

  • a casing comprising:
    • an audio inlet, to which an audio outlet of an audio player in connected;
    • an RF transmitter, for transmitting the audio signal entered through the inlet;
  • a circuitry installed in the non-biotic figure, the circuitry comprising:
    • an RF receiver, for receiving an RF signal transmitted by the transmitter;
    • an amplifier, for amplifying the signal; and
    • a speaker unit, for playing the audio signal.

In one embodiment of the invention, the apparatus further comprises means for moving one or more organs of the non-biotic figures.

In addition to the exemplary aspects and embodiments described above, further aspects and embodiments will become apparent by reference to the figures and by study of the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 pictorially illustrates an audio animation system, according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a more detailed illustration of the audio animation system illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram that schematically illustrates the electronic structure of an audio animation system, according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is schematically illustrates two non-biotic figures “having a conversation”, according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5a is an electronic scheme which illustrates the circuitry embedded inside the puppet of Boots of FIG. 4.

FIG. 5b is an electronic scheme which illustrates the circuitry embedded inside the puppet of Dora of FIG. 4.

Each of FIGS. 6 to 8 schematically illustrates an audio animation system which plays content provided over a network, according to one embodiment of the invention.

In FIG. 6 the network is the Internet, in FIG. 7 the network is a cable TV network, and in FIG. 8 the network is a cellular network.

It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed solely for purposes of illustration and not as a definition of the limits of the invention, for which reference should be made to the appended claims. It should be further understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale and that, unless otherwise indicated, they are merely intended to conceptually illustrate the structures and procedures described herein. Reference numerals may be repeated among the figures to indicate corresponding or analogous elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In the following detailed description, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the disclosure. However, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well-known methods, procedures, components and circuits have not been described in detail, so as not to obscure the present disclosure.

The term “audio player” refers herein to a system for playing audio signals.

The term “audio amplifier” refers herein to an electronic system for amplifying an audio signal.

The term “speaker unit” refers herein to a system of one or more speakers for playing an audio signal. For example, a speaker unit may comprise a bass speaker and a treble speaker.

For instance, an audio system may comprise an audio player such as a CD player, cassette player and so forth; an audio amplifier; and a plurality of speaker units.

The terms “audio source” and “audio channel” as used herein are equivalent.

According to embodiments of the present invention, an audio animation system comprises:

    • An audio player capable of playing simultaneously audio signals of two or more audio sources.
    • Two or more audio amplifiers corresponding to the audio sources, for amplifying the audio signals of the two or more audio sources.
    • Two or more speaker units, corresponding to the audio is sources, each of the speaker units being deployed in the vicinity of a figure associated with the audio signal from the speaker. A figure may be three-dimensional such as a puppet, two-dimensional such as a computer displaying a figure, and so forth.

The transmitted signal from the audio player and a speaker unit thereof may be through wired transmission, as well as through wireless transmission such as radio and infrared signals.

FIG. 1 pictorially illustrates an audio animation system, according to one embodiment of the invention. The illustration demonstrates the system from a user's point of view.

FIG. 2 is a more detailed illustration of the audio animation system illustrated in FIG. 1.

In the system illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, a user, such as an infant, may participate in a lesson, for example, a singing lesson. In the lesson, there is a teaching figure 18, and two pupils: the user (not illustrated) and the bear puppet 10.

During the lesson teacher figure 18 may ask bear puppet 10 to sing a song, and afterwards ask the user (the infant) to repeat the song. The user may communicate with the teaching figure through the user interface of the computer. For example, the teaching figure 18 may ask the user “Shall we practice today the song ‘Marry Had a Little Lamb’?” Two animated icons may appear on display 16, such as a clown that nods his head for “yes”, and another clown that shakes his head for “no”. The user may point on the desired icon. The presence of an additional puppet 10 in the lesson may be relaxing, since the puppet itself is a friendly figure.

From the technical point of view, apparatus 4 is an audio player which comprises two audio channels. The output of one of the audio channels is played by a speaker 6 which is connected to apparatus 4 by wired connection, and the output of the other channel is played by a speaker 28, which is connected to apparatus 4 by wireless connection.

Apparatus 4 is referred to herein also as “control unit”.

Speaker 6 is associated with teaching figure 18, and therefore preferably it is placed in proximity to figure 18. However, for the sake of clarity, in FIG. 1 speaker 6 is not placed in close proximity to display 16 (which displays figure 18).

Plug 20 of the stereo cord 12 has to be connected to the left or right exit of an audio player, which in FIG. 1 is the computer 2. The audio player may also be an MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3) player, a cassette player, a DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) system, and so forth.

The control unit 4 comprises two audio channels and a radio transmitter for transmitting the audio signal of one of the channels. A user may control the output volume of the audio channels by knobs 34 and 36. In order to be associated with a stereophonic audio system, volume knobs 34 and 36 are marked as “LEFT” and “RIGHT”, correspondingly. The user may adjust the volume of all audio channels by a single knob 32, while the volume ratio between the channels is maintained. Antenna 8 transmits the audio signal of the “left” audio channel. Button 38 turns apparatus 4 on and off.

The remote speaker unit, which resides inside bear puppet 10, operates as follows: an antenna 22 receives the transmitted signal from apparatus 4; the audio signal received through antenna 22 reaches receiver 24; the received audio signal is amplified by amplifier 26 and played by speaker unit 28. Elements 24, 26 and 28 are displayed in dashed lines, in order to emphasize that they are deployed inside puppet 10, and therefore are not seen.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram that schematically illustrates the electronic structure of an audio animation system, according to one embodiment of the invention.

In this scheme, two audio channels are employed, one referred as “left” and the other as “right”, as in stereophonic equipment. However, it should be understood that more audio channels may be used.

The input source, such as an MP3 player (not illustrated), must be connected to the audio input jack 20.

According to this embodiment, control unit 4 is a stereo audio player, the “left” audio channel of which is coupled with a transmitter 46 for transmitting by wireless transmission the output audio signal thereof to a corresponding remote receiver 24 (in order to be played by speaker 28). The “right” input signal is played by speaker 6, which is connected to apparatus 4 by wires.

As per the “left” audio channel, the input signal from the audio input jack 20 is amplified by amplifier 50, and transmitted via transmitter 46 and the corresponding antenna 8. The transmission (marked herein as numeral 30) is received by receiver 24 through the antenna 22 thereof, and amplified by amplifier 26. The amplified audio signal is played by speaker 28. The volume of the played signal is adjustable by the left volume knob 36.

As per the “right” audio channel, the input from the audio input jack 20 is amplified by amplifier 48, and played by speaker 6, which is connected to the control unit by wires. The volume of the played signal is adjustable by the right volume knob 34.

The volume of both speakers is adjustable by the “main” volume knob 32, while the ratio between the volume of the “left” and “right” output signal is maintained.

An important advantage of the design illustrated in FIG. 3 is that it employs a stereophonic audio system. Nowadays stereophonic audio systems are very common, and therefore they may be employed in an audio animation system of two speakers without—or almost without—further modifications. Furthermore, since stereophonic audio systems are so common, their price is relatively inexpensive.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that stereophonic display is merely an example, and other systems, featuring more audio channels, may be employed in audio animation systems.

According to one embodiment of the invention, speaker 6 may be embedded within control unit 4. In this way, the same casing may be used for control unit 4 and speaker 6.

FIG. 4 is schematically illustrates two non-biotic figures “having a conversation”, according to one embodiment of the invention.

In this case the non-biotic figures are puppets. One figure is referred to as “Dora”, and the other figure is referred to as “Boots”. The “conversation” may be such as an English lesson, a chat, and so forth.

FIG. 5a is an electronic scheme which illustrates the circuitry embedded inside the puppet of Boots of FIG. 4.

The audio player device 2 is an MP3 player, and the like.

The left speaker of the MP3 player 20 is connected to an RF transmitter 46, which transmits via antenna 8 the audio to be played by the “left” speaker 28. The right speaker 6 of the MP3 player 20 is deployed inside the puppet of Boots.

FIG. 5b is an electronic scheme which illustrates the circuitry embedded inside the puppet of Dora of FIG. 4.

The RF signal transmitted by the RF transmitter 46 of Boots is received by the RF receiver 24 of Dora through antenna 22, and played by speaker 28.

Each of FIGS. 6 to 8 schematically illustrates an audio animation system which plays content provided over a network, according to one embodiment of the invention.

According to these embodiments of the invention, a content server 52 provides the content to be played/displayed by the audio animation system. The content server may send digital data as well as analog information, such as audio and/or video signals. The content sever may comprise a computerized system, circuitry, and so on, for transmitting the content to a user's control unit 4. The transmission may be carried out via a network such as data network (e.g., the Internet), telephone network such as cellular network, cable TV network, and so on.

FIG. 6 schematically illustrates an audio animation system in which the content server 52 communicates with user's personal computer 2 via the Internet network 56.

In this embodiment the control unit 4 may be embedded within computer 2, or alternatively added externally to the computer, as explained above. Of course a relay and the like may switch between the connection with the speaker or with the control unit.

FIG. 7 schematically illustrates an audio animation system in which the content server 52 communicates with user's TV set 60 via a cable TV network 58.

In this embodiment the control unit 4 may be embedded within the TV set 60, or alternatively added externally to the TV set, as explained above. Of course a relay and the like may switch between the connection of the TV set with its speaker or with the control unit.

FIG. 8 schematically illustrates an audio animation system in which the content server 52 communicates with a user's cellular telephone 62 via a cellular network 56.

In this embodiment the control unit 4 may be embedded within the cellular telephone 62, or alternatively added externally to the telephone, as explained above. Of course a relay and the like may switch between the connection of the telephone with its speaker or with the control unit.

It should be noted that presently cellular telephones comprise also audio abilities, such as MP3 player coupled with stereophonic exits to headphones, speakers, and the like.

The use of a cellular telephone with regard to an audio animation system may be employed for determining the content sent from the content server to the control unit 4. For example, a user may select an audio animated lesson by an SMS (Short Message Service) message, a Web page, and so on.

The use of a content server may be applied in commercial models which employ the invented audio animation technology disclosed herein. For example, a user may be charged for a live broadcast or uploaded information from the content server to the control unit of the user.

The content transmitted by the content server to the user's control unit of the audio animated system may be transmitted as a live broadcast or streaming media (a multimedia continuously received by, and normally displayed to, the end-user while it is being delivered by the provider), or as information to be downloaded.

According to embodiments of the invention, the audio signal played to a user may be controlled by an input signal provided by the user, e.g., by interaction means thereof. The interaction means may include a user interface, such as mouse, keyboard, display, buttons, and so on.

According to one embodiment of the invention, the interaction means comprise speech recognition means alternatively or additionally to other interaction means. The speech recognition means provide to the system ability to interact with infants and other illiterate individuals, and therefore is suitable for carrying out interactive lessons for such persons. In such a lesson a pupils may provide an answer to a question he is asked by content played/displayed by the control unit.

Furthermore, when the system is connected to the Internet, the speech recognition means may be used also as means for interacting with an Internet browser and the like, therefore enabling an infant to interact with the browser, the Web server that operates a Web site, and so on.

Such a system may further comprise speech-to-text converter, thereby providing a user with ability to provide through the user interface textual information, even without typing the text. An older user may use the text-to-speech ability for interacting with a Web site, such as a search engine, even without typing the keywords of a search.

In the description and figures herein, the following numerals have been mentioned:

    • Numeral 2 denotes an audio player, such as a CD player, a personal computer, and so forth;
    • Numeral 4 denotes a control unit;
    • Numeral 6 denotes a speaker connected to an audio system by wired means;
    • Numeral 8 denotes an antenna of a transmitter;
    • Numeral 10 denotes a puppet comprising a receiver, an audio amplifier for amplifying signal received by the receiver, and a speaker playing the amplified signal;
    • Numeral 12 denotes a stereo cord (i.e., composed of two pairs of wires);
    • Numeral 14 denotes a cable for connecting a speaker to an amplifier;
    • Numeral 16 denotes a computer's display;
    • Numeral 18 denotes an animated figure;
    • Numeral 20 denotes a jack;
    • Numeral 22 denotes an antenna of a radio receiver;
    • Numeral 24 denotes a radio receiver;
    • Numeral 26 denotes an amplifier;
    • Numeral 28 denotes a speaker unit;
    • Numeral 30 denotes a signal of radio transmission;
    • Numeral 32 denotes a knob for adjusting the volume of all the channels;
    • Each of numerals 34 and 36 denotes a knob for adjusting the volume of an audio channel;
    • Numeral 38 denotes a button to turn apparatus 4 on and off;
    • Numeral 40 denotes a user (an infant);
    • Numeral 42 denotes a box;
    • Numeral 44 denotes a system comprising a receiver, an amplifier and speaker;
    • Numeral 46 denotes a radio transmitter;
    • Each of numerals 48 and 50 denotes an amplifier;
    • Numeral 52 denotes a content server;
    • Numeral 54 denotes the Internet network;
    • Numeral 56 denotes a cellular network;
    • Numeral 57 denotes a base station of cellular network 56;
    • Numeral 58 denotes a cable TV network;
    • Numeral 60 denotes a television set; and
    • Numeral 62 denotes a cellular telephone.

While certain features of the invention have been illustrated and described herein, the invention can be embodied in other forms, ways, modifications, substitutions, changes, equivalents, and so forth. The embodiments described herein should be considered as illustrative and not restrictive.