Title:
Toy with remote media source
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An amusement device is in wireless communication with a remote media source via an interface. The amusement device includes a receiver/transmitter for receiving electromagnetic waves indicative of media content signals from the corresponding interface. The amusement device plays media content from the remote media source in conjunction with music or other sounds in response to user input.



Inventors:
Smith, Steven (Stow, OH, US)
Mceachen, Peter C. (Macedonia, OH, US)
Hui, Chi Kong (Stanley) (Hong Kong, HK)
Keller, Mike (Tallmadge, OH, US)
Kanoza, Jason (Cuyahoga Falls, OH, US)
Application Number:
10/768468
Publication Date:
08/04/2005
Filing Date:
01/30/2004
Assignee:
SMITH STEVEN
MCEACHEN PETER C.
HUI CHI K.(.
KELLER MIKE
KANOZA JASON
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H3/28; A63H5/00; A63H33/00; (IPC1-7): A63H3/28
View Patent Images:
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20030190858Interactive amusement deviceOctober, 2003Thomas
20070111633Decorative balloon holder for holding party favors or decorative materialMay, 2007Novak
20050159072Dress-up activity toyJuly, 2005Brown et al.
20070117492Flying toy for propeller launching with liquid dispersing partsMay, 2007Sze et al.
20030017778Aerial plainJanuary, 2003Gibbs
20070212974Stuffed Toy With Simulated Heartbeat and Method of Making SameSeptember, 2007Brewer
20080188159Mechanical Plush CharacterAugust, 2008Lund et al.



Primary Examiner:
RADA, ALEX P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Jason A. Worgull (Cleveland, OH, US)
Claims:
1. An amusement device having a remote media source, said amusement device comprising: a data receiving system for wirelessly receiving media content signals from an associated interface, said interface being electrically coupled to the remote media source.

2. The amusement device as set forth in claim 1, wherein the remote media source is a home audio source.

3. The amusement device as set forth in claim 1, wherein the data receiving system includes an infrared (IR) receiver.

4. The amusement device as set forth in claim 1, wherein the data receiving system includes a radio frequency (RF) receiver.

5. The amusement device as set forth in claim 1, wherein the interface includes: a first amplifier which receives and amplifies input signals from the remote media source; a modulator which modulates the amplified input signals with a carrier signal; and a transmitter which wirelessly transmits the amplified, modulated input signals to the data receiving system as electromagnetic waves.

6. The amusement device as set forth in claim 5, wherein the data receiving system includes: a receiver/transmitter for receiving the electromagnetic waves from the transmitter and generating a corresponding received media content signal; and a demodulator for demodulating the received media content signal.

7. The amusement device as set forth in claim 6, further comprising: an amusement device audio output signal generator for generating an audio output signal responsive to a user input; a mixer for mixing the audio output signal with the received media content signal.

8. The amusement device as set forth in claim 7, further comprising: an amplifier for amplifying the mixed audio output and received media content signals.

9. The amusement device as set forth in claim 8, further comprising: a speaker for generating an audio output responsive to the signal received from at least one of (I) the mixer and (ii) the amplifier.

10. The amusement device as set forth in claim 9, further comprising: a light output generator for generating a light output responsive to at least one of (i) a user input and (ii) the received media content signal.

11. The amusement device as set forth in claim 6, further comprising at least one user input interface.

12. The amusement device as set forth in claim 11, wherein the at least one user input interface generates a media source control signal responsive to a user input, said media source control signal being wirelessly transmitted from the receiver/transmitter to a controller within the interface.

13. The amusement device as set forth in claim 12, wherein the media source control signal is transmitted to the remote media source to control at least one media source operation.

14. The amusement device as set forth in claim 13, wherein the media source operation includes at least one of (i) media source power, (ii) media source track number, (iii) media source start, and (iv) media source stop.

15. The amusement device as set forth in claim 1, wherein the amusement device is a toy.

16. A system comprising: an interface coupled to a remote media source; and a toy, said toy including a receiver/transmitter for wireless communication with the interface to receive media content for playback.

17. The system as set forth in claim 16, wherein the interface includes: an amplifier which receives and amplifies input signals from the remote media source; a modulator which modulates the amplified input signals; and a transmitter which transmits the amplified, modulated input signals to the receiver/transmitter.

18. The system as set forth in claim 17, wherein the transmitter and receiver/transmitter communicate wirelessly via an infrared light link.

19. The system as set forth in claim 17, wherein the transmitter and receiver/transmitter communicate wirelessly via a radio frequency link.

20. The system as set forth in claim 17, wherein the toy includes at least one user input interface.

21. The system as set forth in claim 20, wherein the at least one user input interface generates a media source control signal responsive to actuation by a user, said media source control signal being wirelessly transmitted from the receiver/transmitter to a controller within the interface.

22. The system as set forth in claim 21, wherein the media source control signal is transmitted to the remote media source to control remote media source operation.

23. A system comprising: a remote media source: an interface electrically coupled to a remote media source; and a plurality of amusement devices, said amusement devices each including a receiver/transmitter for wireless communication with the interface to receive media content for playback.

24. A method of providing media content to a toy from a remote media source, said method comprising: electrically coupling an interface to the remote media source; electrically coupling a receiver to the toy; coupling the interface to the receiver such that media content is wirelessly transmitted by the interface to the receiver for playback through at least one speaker within the toy.

25. A toy comprising: a re-programmable memory for storing desired media content data.

26. The toy as set forth in claim 25, further comprising: a speaker for generating an audio output corresponding to the media content data stored in the re-programmable memory.

27. The toy as set forth in claim 26, further comprising: a light output generator for generating a light output responsive to at least one of (i) a user input and (ii) audio output.

28. The toy as set forth in claim 25, wherein the re-programmable memory is a removable flash memory cartridge.

29. The toy as set forth in claim 25, further comprising: an input for receiving media content data to be stored in the re-programmable memory.

30. The toy as set forth in claim 29, wherein the input is a USB input.

31. The toy as set forth in claim 25, wherein the media content data is in MP3 format.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to the field of sound generating amusement devices and, more particularly, to a toy playing media content received from a remote media source.

BACKGROUND

Children of all ages enjoy playing with toys that generate audio and visual output, such as sounds, music and lights. Such toys include musical mobiles for entertaining an infant in a crib or playpen, interactive teaching toys, such as toys for associating related symbols, words and/or letters, and other toys that produce sounds and/or music in response to the child's input.

Existing sound generating toys, however, have a number of drawbacks for both children and parents or other supervising adults. Many conventional toys are limited to producing sounds/music of a rather low sound quality. For example, most music produced by such toys consists of instrumental melodies without any voice singing.

In addition, existing toys offer a limited selection of lower sound quality music. For example, some devices include a few pre-programmed songs. Other existing devices include a cartridge-based memory, which requires a user to continuously purchase additional music. Typically, these music cartridges include a limited number of songs and require the user to change the cartridges frequently.

Accordingly, a need exists for a toy that provides higher quality sound generation along with versatility in song selection, which overcomes the above-referenced problems and others.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the invention, the invention is directed to an amusement device having a remote media source. The amusement device includes a data receiving system for wirelessly receiving media content signals from an associated interface. The interface is electrically coupled to the remote media source.

According to another aspect of the invention, the invention is directed to a system. The system includes an interface electrically coupled to a remote media source and a toy. The toy includes a receiver/transmitter for wireless communication with the interface to receive media content for playback.

According to another aspect of the invention, the invention is directed to a system. The system includes a remote media source and an interface electrically coupled to the remote media source. The system further includes a plurality of amusement devices, where the amusement devices each include a receiver/transmitter for wireless communication with the interface to receive media content for playback.

According to another aspect of the invention, the invention is directed to a method of providing media content to a toy from a remote media source. The method includes electrically coupling an interface to the remote media source and electrically coupling a receiver to the toy. The interface is coupled to the receiver such that media content is wirelessly transmitted by the interface to the receiver for playback through at least one speaker within the toy.

The foregoing and other features of the invention are hereinafter more fully described and particularly pointed out in the claims, the following description setting forth in detail certain illustrative embodiments of the invention, these being indicative, however, of but a few of the various ways in which the principles of the invention may be employed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

These and further features of the present invention will be apparent with reference to the following description and drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of an amusement device for use with a remote media source in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a detailed schematic diagram of an amusement device for use with a remote media source in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a schematic view of an exemplary amusement device in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a schematic view of another exemplary amusement device in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a schematic view of another exemplary amusement device in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a schematic view of another exemplary amusement device in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram of a system including a plurality of amusement devices in wireless communication with a remote media source.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

In the detailed description that follows, corresponding components have been given the same reference numerals regardless of whether they are shown in different embodiments of the present invention. To illustrate the present invention in a clear and concise manner, the drawings may not necessarily be to scale and certain features may be shown in somewhat schematic form.

With reference to FIG. 1, an amusement device 10, such as a toy or other child's play device, is provided. The amusement device 10 can be part of a system in which the amusement device 10 is in wireless communication with a remote media source 12 via an interface 14. The remote media source 12 can include a home audio source, such as a home stereo or portable stereo, including an AM/FM receiver, cassette player, compact disk (CD) player, digital audio tape player, MP3 player, or the like. In addition, the remote media source 12 can include a personal computer, optionally connected to the Internet, and the like. In an alternative embodiment, the remote media source can include a video source. In one embodiment, the remote media source 12 would not include “non-media sources,” such as walkie talkies, child monitors or the like.

The remote media source 12 is coupled or otherwise electrically connected to an interface 14, such as a wireless data transmission unit or the like. The interface 14 is in electrical communication with the remote media source 12 such that it receives appropriate signals containing media content. The interface 14 is in wireless communication with a corresponding receiver/transmitter 16 within or otherwise coupled to the amusement device 10. As is described more fully below, media content data received by the receiver/transmitter 16 within the amusement device 10 is processed appropriately for playback by the amusement device 10. In one embodiment, the interface 14 and receiver/transmitter 16 communicate wirelessly via an infrared (IR) light link. Alternatively, the interface 14 can include a radio frequency (RF) link to transmit media content data to the receiver/transmitter 16 within or otherwise coupled to the amusement device 10 for playback by the amusement device 10. As is described more fully below, in one embodiment, the receiver/transmitter 16 can transmit appropriate command signals, which are generated responsive to user input, back to the remote media source 12.

With reference now to FIG. 2 and continued reference to FIG. 1, in one embodiment in which the remote media source 12 can be a home audio source, the interface 14 includes an input amplifier 22. The input amplifier 22 can receive input signals from the home audio source and amplify the input signals. The interface 14 can include a modulator 24, which receives the amplified input signal from the input amplifier 22 and modulates the amplified input signal with an appropriate carrier signal. Artisans will appreciate that the amplified input signal can be frequency modulated and/or amplitude modulated with the carrier signal as appropriate. In addition, spread spectrum techniques, phase shift keying techniques and the like can be employed. The interface 14 can include a transmitter 26 (or, optionally, a transmitter/receiver) for transmitting the amplified, modulated input signal.

In one embodiment, the transmitter 26 is an infrared (IR) transmitter, which transmits the audio input signal as an infrared electromagnetic wave. Alternatively, the transmitter 26 can be a radio frequency (RF) transmitter for transmitting the audio input signal as a RF electromagnetic wave. It is to be appreciated that other wireless transmission devices, such as ultrasound or infrasound transmitters, can be employed without departing from the scope of the present invention. In addition, it is to be appreciated that other remote media sources, as are described above, can be employed with the present invention.

The amusement device 10 can include a receiver/transmitter 16 for receiving the transmitted signals from the transmitter 26. It is to be appreciated that the transmitter 26 and receiver/transmitter 16 are selected to facilitate wireless data transmission therebetween. For example, if an IR transmitter is employed, the receiver/transmitter 16 will be an IR receiver/transmitter. Likewise, if the transmitter 26 is a radio frequency transmitter, the corresponding receiver/transmitter 16 within the amusement device 10 will be a radio frequency receiver/transmitter. The receiver/transmitter 16 receives the electromagnetic waves from the transmitter 26 and generates a corresponding received media content data signal. The received media content data signal can be demodulated using an appropriate demodulator 28. Artisans will appreciate that the demodulator operates to separate the data signal from the carrier signal. In one embodiment, as is described more fully below, the demodulated audio signal can be mixed, using an appropriate mixer 30, with an amusement device, such as a toy, audio source 32 signal and/or an amusement device visual source 38 signal generated automatically or in response to user input by the amusement device. The mixed audio signal can be amplified using an appropriate amplifier 34 and output to a speaker 36 for playback and/or a visual source signal (e.g., a light output) can be output by a light source 40 in rhythm or in another fashion complementary to the output audio signal. It is to be appreciated that appropriate digital-to-analog conversion, along with reciprocal analog-to-digital conversion, may take place within either or both of the interface 14 and amusement device 10 as appropriate.

It is to be appreciated that the present invention allows a parent, child or other user to provide a variety of high sound quality music to an amusement device using already existing investments in music content, such as CD's, MP3's, and the like. In one embodiment, the interface 14 can be connected to an output of the home audio source, for example, a standard headphone jack output, or another appropriate output, such as a MIDI output. In one embodiment, the amusement device 10 can include one or more user input interfaces 38. Such user input interfaces can include, but are not limited to, buttons, switches, dials, alphanumeric keys, and the like.

The interface 14 can also include a control device or controller 40 capable of receiving commands from the user input interfaces 38 via the receiver/transmitter 16. These commands can, in turn, be relayed to the home audio source for remote control thereof, such that media content is delivered to the amusement device 10 in response to user input. In other words, the amusement device 10, based on user input, can control a variety of functions of the home audio source, including, but not limited to, power on/off, input source (to choose among different audio components), which tracks to play, start music, stop music, skip, and other useful commands normally present on remote controls or audio units. Alternatively, a user can play games by engaging the user input interfaces.

In addition, the user input 38 can trigger other pre-programmed amusement device audio source 32 outputs and/or visual source 38 outputs to be mixed or played concurrently or complementary with the received audio content from the remote audio source. Such amusement device audio device outputs can include a variety of sounds that are pleasing to children, including, but not limited to, bells, whistles, sirens, and musical sounds. In addition, as is described more fully below, the amusement device 10, either in response to user input 38 or automatically in response to signals or data patterns received from the remote audio source, can generate a plurality of light and other output signals via, for example, a light source 40, for the enjoyment of the user. In addition, the amusement device can generate motion output signals via, for example, motors and actuators (e.g., electrically actuated plastics), and/or visual output signals, such as visual content displayed an LCD or full video.

It is to be appreciated that the present invention may be employed in conjunction with any child's amusement device without departing from the scope of the present invention. For example, with reference to FIG. 3, the amusement device may include a musical mobile 50, as illustrated, for use with a playpen or crib 52. As shown, the remote media source, in this case, a personal audio source, such as a boombox 54, can communicate wirelessly with the mobile 50 in the manner described more fully above. Accordingly, rather than be limited to a single song of lower sound quality as in conventional devices, the mobile illustrated in FIG. 3 can play back a variety of higher sound quality songs, which may be varied and/or selected by the user as desired. For example, softer lullaby-type songs may be played during times where the infant is going to sleep and more upbeat songs can be played through the mobile when the child is awake and enjoying play time or other stimulation. Optionally, as described above, the amusement device, in this embodiment, a mobile, may also play radio transmissions through the link between the interface 14 and the receiver/transmitter 16. In one embodiment, the mobile 50 or other amusement device can change lighting and/or motion in response to signals or data patterns received from the remote media source.

FIG. 4 illustrates another amusement device in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the amusement device may include an upright dance bar device 60 for use and enjoyment by young or older children. In this exemplary embodiment, the amusement device includes a segmented ring 62. In one embodiment, the ring 62 may spin or be spun by the user in such a manner as to speed up or otherwise slow down the tempo at which the music from the remote audio source is played. In addition, the segmented ring 62 may be held or otherwise squeezed by the user to activate the device. Also, the various portions of the segmented ring may be used to select different media output. For example, one portion of the segmented ring 62 could be used to activate play of one type of song, while another portion of the segmented ring could be used to activate play of another type of song. Further, the amusement device may include a variety of user input interfaces 64 for generating sounds to be mixed with the audio from the remote audio source and/or control various play features/commands of the remote audio source. In addition, the amusement device can include a light-emitting portion 66, which emits light in response to the music received from the remote audio source and/or user input via the user input interfaces 64.

FIG. 5 illustrates an amusement device in accordance with an alternative exemplary embodiment the present invention. In this embodiment, the amusement device is a dance floor toy 70, which can receive audio content for playback from a remote audio source (not shown) in the manner described more fully above. As shown, this toy 70 includes a plurality of user input buttons 74 in the corners, as well as a plurality of user input buttons and/or light emitting portions 76 around the center of the device. For example, the corner button user input 74 may be used to select a desired type of music or to otherwise control features of the remote audio device in the manner described more fully above.

FIG. 6 illustrates another amusement device in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the amusement device is a musical ball 80, which can include optional light emitting portions 82 as well as user input control buttons 84. As described above, the light emitting portions 82 of the ball 80 may emit light, for example, shimmering like a disco ball in response to music played from the remote audio source and/or movement of the ball by the user. Further, the user inputs 84 may control features of the remote audio device, such as power, volume, song selection, and the like.

With continued reference to FIGS. 3-6, in one embodiment, musical or other media content data can be uploaded or otherwise transferred to the amusement device using techniques such as USB cable, wireless USB transmission, and/or use of re-programmable flash media type cartridges 68, 78 (see FIGS. 4 and 5, for example). In these embodiments, a plurality of digital songs (e.g., MP3 format songs) may be repeatedly downloaded such that the user's music selection is continuously updated. For example, in an embodiment employing USB cable transmission, the amusement device can include a re-programmable memory, such as, for example a flash memory. A source of media content, such as a personal computer or MP3 player can be connected to the amusement device via a USB cable. Media content can then be transferred to and saved on the re-programmable memory within the amusement device. Alternatively, a re-programmable flash memory chip or cartridge (such as is illustrated at 68 and 78 in FIGS. 4 and 5) can be programmed and reprogrammed with desired media content and then inserted and reinserted into the amusement device. In an alternative embodiment, the amusement device can include an appropriate media storage device to record and a player to play back within the amusement device. This media could include formats such as CD, EEPROM, and FLASH memory.

With reference now to FIG. 7, a system including a plurality of amusement devices 10 is illustrated. It is to be appreciated that a single remote media source 12 may be employed to provide media content to a plurality of amusement devices 10 in a manner described above. For example, signals from the remote media source 12 may be communicated wirelessly to a receiver/transmitter 16 within or otherwise coupled to each amusement device via an appropriate interface 14. As described above, the interface 14 can be an IR interface, an RF interface or any other suitable interface. In this manner, a number of children can each enjoy their own amusement device 10 (e.g., a toy) as well as media playback from a single remote media source 12.

Although particular embodiments of the invention have been described in detail, it is understood that the invention is not limited correspondingly in scope, but includes all changes, modifications and equivalents.

For example, while the present invention has been described with respect to the amusement devices illustrated in FIGS. 3-6, is to be appreciated that the present invention is applicable to any amusement or play device or multiple amusement or play devices, which each includes a media output without departing from the scope of the present invention.

Although the invention has been shown and described with respect to a certain preferred embodiment or embodiments, it is obvious that equivalent alterations and modifications will occur to others skilled in the art upon the reading and understanding of this specification and the annexed drawings. In particular regard to the various functions performed by the above described elements (components, assemblies, devices, compositions, etc.), the terms (including a reference to a “means”) used to describe such elements are intended to correspond, unless otherwise indicated, to any element which performs the specified function of the described element (i.e., that is functionally equivalent), even though not structurally equivalent to the disclosed structure which performs the function in the herein illustrated exemplary embodiment or embodiments of the invention. In addition, while a particular feature of the invention may have been described above with respect to only one or more of several illustrated embodiments, such feature may be combined with one or more other features of the other embodiments, as may be desired and advantageous for any given or particular application.





 
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