Title:
Power system for affecting gaming conditions
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention concerns a method (300) and system (100) for affecting gaming conditions based on at least one predefined parameter of a power source (126, 131). The method can include the steps of storing (312) the predefined parameter, in a first gaming unit (110) that receives power from the power source, providing (314) a gaming environment and detecting (316) the presence of the predefined parameter of the power source. The method can also include the step of altering (320) at least one gaming condition in the gaming environment based on the detected predefined parameter.



Inventors:
Schultz, Charles P. (North Miami Beach, FL, US)
Kreitzer, Stuart S. (Coral Springs, FL, US)
Mock, Von A. (Boynton Beach, FL, US)
Patino, Joseph (Pembroke Pines, FL, US)
Perdomo, Jorge L. (Boca Raton, FL, US)
Application Number:
10/930558
Publication Date:
03/02/2006
Filing Date:
08/31/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
D'AGOSTINO, PAUL ANTHONY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lary G. Brown (Fort Lauderdale, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for affecting gaming conditions based on at least one predefined parameter of a power source, comprising the steps of: storing the predefined parameter; in a first gaming unit that receives power from the power source, providing a gaming environment; detecting the presence of the predefined parameter of the power source; and altering at least one gaming condition in the gaming environment based on the detected predefined parameter.

2. The method according to claim 1, wherein the gaming condition is selected from the availability of gaming elements, the display size of gaming elements, the strength of gaming elements in the gaming environment, the ability of gaming elements to mutate in the gaming environment, the stealthing ability of gaming elements in the gaming environment, the display color of gaming elements or the speed at which gaming elements operate in the gaming environment.

3. The method according to claim 2, wherein the altering step comprises the steps of: reducing the availability of gaming elements; decreasing the display size of gaming elements; decreasing the strength of gaming elements in the gaming environment; decreasing the ability of gaming elements to mutate in the gaming environment; decreasing the stealthing ability of gaming elements in the gaming environment; or reducing the speed at which gaming elements operate in the gaming environment.

4. The method according to claim 2, wherein the altering step comprises the steps of: increasing the availability of gaming elements; increasing the display size of gaming elements; increasing the strength of gaming elements in the gaming environment; increasing the ability of gaming elements to mutate in the gaming environment; increasing the stealthing ability of gaming elements in the gaming environment; or increasing the speed at which gaming elements operate in the gaming environment.

5. The method according to claim 1, wherein the detecting the predefined parameter of the power source comprises the steps of: determining a manufacturer of the power source; determining a voltage capacity of the power source; determining a current capacity of the power source; determining an expiration date of the power source; determining a chemical composition of the power source; or determining an identification value of the power source.

6. The method according to claim 1, wherein the power source is a rechargeable battery or a disposable battery.

7. The method according to claim 1, further comprising the steps of: providing the power source of the first gaming unit to a user of a second gaming unit; detecting in the second gaming unit the predefined parameter of the power source; and altering at least one gaming condition of a gaming environment of the second gaming unit based on the detected predefined parameter.

8. The method according to claim 1, wherein the gaming environment permits a plurality of users to participate in the gaming environment and the method further comprises the step of communicating to the users who are participating in the gaming environment the predefined parameters of the power source.

9. The method according to claim 1, further comprising the steps of: storing a game in a memory of the power source; and downloading the game from the memory to provide the gaming environment.

10. A system for affecting gaming conditions based on at least one predefined parameter of a power source, comprising: a user interface section that provides a gaming environment; a power source having a memory that stores at least one predefined parameter of the power source, wherein the power source provides power to the user interface section; and a processor, wherein the power source also provides power to the processor and the processor is programmed to: detect the presence of the predefined parameter of the power source; and when the processor detects the predefined parameter of the power source, alter at least one gaming condition in the gaming environment based on the detected predefined parameter.

11. The system according to claim 10, wherein the gaming condition is selected from the availability of gaming elements, the display size of gaming elements, the strength of gaming elements in the gaming environment, the ability of gaming elements to mutate in the gaming environment, the stealthing ability of gaming elements in the gaming environment, the display color of gaming elements or the speed at which gaming elements operate in the gaming environment.

12. The system according to claim 11, wherein the processor is further programmed to alter the gaming condition by: reducing the availability of gaming elements; decreasing the display size of gaming elements; decreasing the strength of gaming elements in the gaming environment; decreasing the ability of gaming elements to mutate in the gaming environment; decreasing the stealthing ability of gaming elements in the gaming environment; or reducing the speed at which gaming elements operate in the gaming environment.

13. The system according to claim 11, wherein the processor is further programmed to alter the gaming condition by: increasing the availability of gaming elements; increasing the display size of gaming elements; increasing the strength of gaming elements in the gaming environment; increasing the ability of gaming elements to mutate in the gaming environment; increasing the stealthing ability of gaming elements in the gaming environment; or increasing the speed at which gaming elements operate in the gaming environment.

14. The system according to claim 10, wherein the processor is further programmed to detect the defined parameter of the power source by: determining a manufacturer of the power source; determining a voltage capacity of the power source; determining a current capacity of the power source; determining an expiration date of the power source; determining a chemical composition of the power source; or determining an identification value of the power source.

15. The system according to claim 10, wherein the power source is a rechargeable battery or a disposable battery.

16. The system according to claim 10, wherein the system further comprises a second gaming unit having a processor, wherein when the power source of the first gaming unit provides power to the second gaming unit, the processor of the second gaming unit is programmed to: detect in the second gaming unit the predefined parameter of the power source of the first gaming unit; and alter at least one gaming condition of a gaming environment of the second gaming unit based on the detected predefined parameter.

17. The system according to claim 10, wherein the gaming environment permits a plurality of users to participate in the gaming environment and wherein the gaming environment communicates to the users who are participating in the gaming environment the predefined parameters of the power source.

18. The system according to claim 10, wherein the power source includes a memory for storing a game and wherein the processor is further programmed to download the game from the memory.

19. A power source for affecting gaming conditions in a gaming unit, comprising: at least one cell, wherein the cells provide power to the gaming unit; a memory for storing at least one predefined parameter of the power source; and a contact, wherein a processor of the gaming unit detects the predefined parameters through the contact and alters at least one gaming condition in a gaming environment of the gaming unit based on the detected predefined parameter.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates in general to gaming and more particularly, to games that are played on an electronic device having a portable power source.

2. Description of the Related Art

In recent years, portable electronic devices, such as cellular telephones, personal digital assistants and gaming devices, have become commonplace. Adding to their popularity, cellular telephones now have the ability to receive numerous types of gaming applications, such as through over-the-air downloads. In addition, portable gaming devices can receive many different types of gaming cartridges, which can be used to create a gaming experience on the portable gaming device.

In view of the many different types of multimedia games and the number of devices on which they can be played, there is intense competition between manufacturers of the cellular telephones, the gaming devices and the gaming applications themselves to capture customers. In particular, these entities are constantly looking for ways to induce consumers to purchase additional products, such as accessories associated with a particular mobile unit.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention concerns a method for affecting gaming conditions based on at least one predefined parameter of a power source. The method can include the steps of storing the predefined parameter, in a first gaming unit that receives power from the power source, providing a gaming environment and detecting the presence of the predefined parameter of the power source. The method can also include the step of altering at least one gaming condition in the gaming environment based on the detected predefined parameter.

In one arrangement, the gaming condition can be selected from at least one of (1) the availability of gaming elements; (2) the display size of gaming elements; (3) the strength of gaming elements in the gaming environment; (4) the ability of gaming elements to mutate in the gaming environment; (5) the stealthing ability of gaming elements in the gaming environment; (6) the display color of gaming elements; and (7) the speed at which gaming elements operate in the gaming environment.

As an example, the altering can include at least one of (1) reducing or increasing the availability of gaming elements; (2) decreasing or increasing the display size of gaming elements; (3) decreasing or increasing the strength of gaming elements in the gaming environment; (4) decreasing or increasing the ability of gaming elements to mutate in the gaming environment; (5) decreasing or increasing the stealthing ability of gaming elements in the gaming environment; and (6) reducing or increasing the speed at which gaming elements operate in the gaming environment.

As another example, the detecting the predefined parameter of the power source can include determining a manufacturer, a voltage capacity, a current capacity, an expiration date, a chemical composition or an identification value of the power source. The power source can be, for example, a rechargeable battery or a disposable battery.

In one embodiment of the invention, the method can further include the steps of providing the power source of the first gaming unit to a user of a second gaming unit, detecting in the second gaming unit the predefined parameter of the power source and altering at least one gaming condition of a gaming environment of the second gaming unit based on the detected predefined parameter. In addition, the gaming environment can permit a plurality of users to participate in the gaming environment. The method can further include the step of communicating to the users who are participating in the gaming environment the predefined parameters of the power source. In another embodiment, the method can include the steps of storing a game in a memory of the power source and downloading the game from the memory to provide the gaming environment.

The present invention also concerns a system for affecting gaming conditions based on at least one predefined parameter of a power source. The system can include a user interface section that provides a gaming environment, a power source having a memory that stores at least one predefined parameter of the power source and a processor. The power source can provide power to the user interface section and the processor. The processor can be programmed to detect the presence of the predefined parameter of the power source. When the processor detects the predefined parameter of the power source, the processor can be further programmed to alter at least one gaming condition in the gaming environment based on the detected predefined parameter. The system can also include suitable software and/or circuitry to carry out the processes described above.

The present invention also concerns a power source for affecting gaming conditions in a gaming unit. The power source can include at least one cell in which the cells provide power to the gaming unit, a memory for storing at least one predefined parameter of the power source and a contact. A processor of the gaming unit can detect the predefined parameters through the contact. This processor can also alter at least one gaming condition in a gaming environment of the gaming unit based on the detected predefined parameter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The features of the present invention, which are believed to be novel, are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention, together with further objects and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in the several figures of which like reference numerals identify like elements, and in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a system for affecting gaming conditions in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements;

FIG. 2 illustrates an example of a block diagram of a gaming unit in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements;

FIG. 3 illustrates a portion of a method for affecting gaming conditions in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements; and

FIG. 4 illustrates another portion of the method for affecting gaming conditions of FIG. 3 in accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

While the specification concludes with claims defining the features of the invention that are regarded as novel, it is believed that the invention will be better understood from a consideration of the following description in conjunction with the drawing figures, in which like reference numerals are carried forward.

As required, detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein; however, it is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention, which can be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed structure. Further, the terms and phrases used herein are not intended to be limiting but rather to provide an understandable description of the invention.

The terms a or an, as used herein, are defined as one or more than one. The term plurality, as used herein, is defined as two or more than two. The term another, as used herein, is defined as at least a second or more. The terms including and/or having, as used herein, are defined as comprising (i.e., open language). The term coupled, as used herein, is defined as connected, although not necessarily directly, and not necessarily mechanically. The terms program, software application, and the like as used herein, are defined as a sequence of instructions designed for execution on a computer system. A program, computer program, or software application may include a subroutine, a function, a procedure, an object method, an object implementation, an executable application, an applet, a servlet, a source code, an object code, a shared library/dynamic load library and/or other sequence of instructions designed for execution on a computer system.

This invention presents a method and system for affecting gaming conditions based on at least one predefined parameter of a power source. In one arrangement, the predefined parameter can be stored in a memory of the power source, and in a first gaming unit that receives power from the power source, a gaming environment can be provided. The presence of the predefined parameter of the power source can be detected, and at least one gaming condition in the gaming environment can be altered based on the detected predefined parameter.

As an example, the predefined parameter can be information identifying a manufacturer of the power source, a charge capacity of the power source, a current capacity of the power source, an expiration date of the power source or a chemical composition of the power source. The predefined parameter can also be an identification number of the power source. Although several examples are presented below in which the gaming conditions are altered based on predefined parameters of a power source, it must be stressed that the invention is not so limited. The gaming conditions can be altered based on predefined parameters that are associated with any other suitable component. In one embodiment, such a component can include accessories for a mobile unit, such as a headset.

Referring to FIG. 1, a system 100 for affecting gaming conditions is shown. Although not limited to this particular configuration, the system 100 will be useful for describing the operation of the invention. In one arrangement, the system 100 can include a first gaming unit 110 and a second gaming unit 112. The system 100, however, can include any suitable number of gaming units. Both the first gaming unit 110 and the second gaming unit 112 can include suitable software and circuitry for permitting a user to play gaming applications that are received by them. Thus, a gaming unit can be any electronic device that can allow a user to play a gaming application, including individual components of a gaming system, such as a hand-held controller.

A gaming application can be any computer program that, when loaded and executed, can create a gaming environment on a gaming unit and that can cause various gaming actions to occur in response to a user's input. In addition, a gaming environment can be one or more elements that are capable of being displayed, heard and/or felt by a human that can create a setting to permit a user to participate in a gaming activity.

As an example, the first gaming unit 110 and the second gaming unit 112 can be wireless communication devices, such as cellular telephones, two-way radios, personal digital assistants and the like. As such, the system 100 can also include a communications network 114, which can transmit wireless signals to and receive wireless signals from the first gaming unit 110 and the second gaming unit 112. Of course, the first gaming unit 110 and the second gaming unit 112 can be designed to communicate with one another without the assistance of a communications network. Moreover, the first gaming unit 110 and the second gaming unit 112 can be connected to the communications network 114 through a hard-wired connection, if such an arrangement is desired.

In view of the ability of the first gaming unit 110 and the second gaming unit 112 to communicate with one another, the units 110, 112 can be part of a multi-player gaming environment. For example, users of the first gaming unit 110 and the second gaming unit 112 can participate in a single gaming session in which inputs by both users may affect the operation and outcome of the gaming session.

The gaming applications can be loaded into the first gaming unit 110 and the second gaming unit 122 during assembly, for example, or can be downloaded from another computing system. Moreover, the first gaming unit 110 and the second gaming unit 112 can receive gaming cartridges (not shown) that can be programmed with one or more gaming applications. To facilitate the downloading of gaming applications, the system 100 can include a database 116 or some other machine readable storage that can be used to store gaming applications. The database 116 can be coupled to the communication network 114 through, for example, the Internet. Gaming applications can be transferred from the database 116 to the communication network 114 through the Internet. From there, the gaming application can be downloaded to the first gaming unit 110 and/or the second gaming unit 112.

Referring to FIG. 2, an example of a block diagram of the first gaming unit 110 is shown. Here, the first gaming unit 110 can include a processor 118, a user interface section 120, a transceiver section 122, a memory 124 and a power source 126. The user interface section 120, the transceiver section 122, the memory 124 and the power source 126 can be coupled to the processor 118. In addition, the power source 126 can provide power to the components of the first gaming unit 110. The system 100 can also include another power source 131, which can provide power to both the power source 126 and the gaming unit 110. This power source 131 can be an external power source. As an example, the power source 131 can be a portable charger that receives AC power and converts it to a DC power supply.

In one arrangement, the user interface section 120 can include a keypad 128, a keypad interface 130, a display 132, a display driver 134, a speaker 136, an audio driver 138, a microphone 140 and a vibrator 141. The keypad 128 can accept input from a user, and the keypad interface 130 can be coupled to the keypad 128 and the processor 118. In one particular arrangement, the keypad 128 can include a navigation key 129, which can permit a user to navigate through menus displayed on the display 132, for example.

The display 132 can display to a user any suitable type of imagery, and the display driver 134 can be coupled to the display 132 and the processor 118. In one embodiment, the display 132 can be a touch-screen display for accepting user input, if the display 132 has suitable software and circuitry for doing so. The speaker 136 can broadcast audio, and the audio driver 138 can be coupled to the speaker 136 and the processor 118. Additionally, the microphone 140 can receive audio signals and can transfer them to the processor 118 for further processing. The vibrator 141, when signaled by the processor 118, can generate vibrations intended to be felt by a user of the gaming unit 110. The user interface section 120 can also include colored lights (not shown) for generating unique light sequences.

In another arrangement, the transceiving section 122 can include a transmitter 142, a receiver 144, a transmitter/receiver (TX/RX) switch 146 and an antenna 148. The transmitter 142 and the receiver 144 can both be coupled to the processor 118 and the TX/RX switch 146. The TX/RX switch 146 can be coupled to the processor 118, and the antenna 148 can be coupled to the TX/RX switch 146.

Through the transmitter 142, the receiver 144, the TX/RX switch 146 and the antenna 148, the gaming unit 110 can transmit and receive wireless communications signals—such as voice and/or data signals—in a manner well known to those of skill in the art. For example, when receiving signals, the processor 118 can control the TX/RX switch 146, which can permit signals being received by the antenna 148 to pass to the receiver 144. As is known in the art, the receiver 144 can convert and demodulate these signals for further processing. When the gaming unit 110 is transmitting signals, the processor 118 can set the TX/RX switch 146 to permit the transmitter 142 to transmit communications signals though the antenna 148. Of course, the transceiving section 122 can be configured in any other suitable fashion.

The memory 124 can be used to store virtually any type of data, which the processor 118 can retrieve. As an example, the memory 124 can be used to store gaming applications, which can be, for example, loaded in the memory 124 when the gaming unit 110 is manufactured or downloaded from a suitable communication network at a later date. The memory 124 can also be used to store one or more ringtones, which can signal a user of an incoming call, for example.

The power source 126, as noted earlier, can provide power to the gaming unit 110. As an example, the power source 126 can be one or more rechargeable or disposable batteries. Those of skill in the art, however, will appreciate that other suitable components can serve as the power source 126, including solar cells, manually operable mechanisms (e.g., a hand crank) and fuel cells. In one arrangement, the power source 126 can include a memory 150, one or more cells 152 and one or more contacts 154.

The cells 152 can be the part of the power source 126 that actually supplies the power to the gaming unit 110. In addition, the memory 150 can be a programmable memory for storing certain types of predefined parameters that relate to the power source 126. For example, the memory 150 can be an electrically programmable read only memory (EPROM) or an electrically erasable programmable read only memory (EEPROM).

As another example, the type of information that the memory 150 can store about the power source 126 can include the manufacturer of the power source 126, the voltage or current capacity of the power source 126, the expiration date of the power source 126, the chemical composition of the power source 126 or an identification number of the power source 126. The listing above is not comprehensive, as other suitable forms of data may be stored in the memory 150. Moreover, these predefined parameters can be modified through any suitable technique that is capable of altering information stored in a memory. The processor 118 can access this information stored in the memory 150 through the contact 154.

The power source 131 can include one or more contacts 156 and an identifier 158, which can help identify the power source 131. As an example, the identifier 158 can be a resistor identification (ID) scheme in which—as is known in the art—a voltage divider network is used to identify a component. The identifier 158 may also be a programmable memory. The gaming unit 110 can also include one or more contacts 160 that can correspond to the contacts 156. Through the contacts 156, 160, the processor 118 can receive an input that the processor 118 can use to identify the power source 131.

For example, if the identifier 158 is a resistor ID scheme, and the processor 118, through an analog-to-digital converter (not shown), can measure the voltage of the voltage divider to determine the value of the resistor ID. Subsequently, the processor 118 can access a memory (e.g., the memory 124) to compare the measured value with those stored in memory to identify the power source 131. If the identifier 158 is a programmable memory, the processor 118 can also access the identifier 158 through the contacts 156, 160. In accordance with an embodiment of the inventive arrangements and as will be explained further below, the predefined data from the power source 126 or the identification of the power source 131 can be used to alter gaming conditions.

Referring to FIG. 3, a method 300 for affecting gaming conditions is shown. To describe the method 300, reference may be made to FIGS. 1 and 2, although the method 300 can be practiced in other situations using any other suitable devices or systems. Moreover, the method 300 is not limited to the particular steps that are shown in FIG. 3 (or FIG. 4) or to the order in which they are depicted. The inventive method 300 may also include a fewer number of steps as compared to what is shown in FIG. 3 (and FIG. 4).

At step 310, the method 300 can begin. At step 312, one or more predefined parameters of a power source can be stored, and at step 314, a gaming environment can be provided in a first gaming unit that receives power from the power source. In addition, at step 316, the presence of the predefined parameters of the power source can be detected. At option step 318, the detecting the predefined parameters can include determining a manufacturer of the power source, a charge or current capacity of the power source, an expiration date of the power source or a chemical composition of the power source. At option step 318, detecting the predefined parameter can also include determining an identification value of the power source.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, one or more predefined parameters of the power source 126 or the power source 131 can be stored. For example, certain attributes of the power source 126 can be stored in the memory 124, such as the voltage capacity or the manufacturer of the power source 126 (other examples will be listed below). As another example, the identifier 158 can be a resistor ID having an identification value. For purposes of the invention, a predefined parameter can be any criteria that describes a characteristic of a power source or some other portable component that is attachable to a mobile unit in which the criteria is storable in some form of memory. The term predefined parameter and predefined parameters can be considered synonymous for purposes of this invention.

The predefined parameters can be modified, if so desired. For example, the memory 150 or the identifier 158 can be a programmable memory, which can permit predefined parameters to be adjusted, added or even deleted. Further, if the identifier 158 is a resistor ID, its value can be changed, as those of skill in the art will appreciate. In any event, it is understood that the invention is not limited in this regard, as components other than the memory 150 and the identifier 158 can be used to store predefined parameters. Predefined parameters of other suitable components, including accessories like headsets, can be stored as well.

As noted earlier, the gaming unit 110 can receive its power from the power source 126 or the power source 131. Through the user interface section 120, the gaming unit 110 can provide a gaming environment. That is, the visual aspect of a game can be displayed on the display 132, and the audio aspect can be broadcast over the speaker 136. Additionally, the vibrator 141 can generate any vibrational effects that are associated with the game. A user can use the keypad 128, for example, to cause certain elements of the gaming environment to change. For example, a user can cause a game character to move in a certain direction at a particular speed. The gaming environment can be based on any suitable game that can be played on the gaming unit 110. It is understood that providing a gaming environment in a gaming unit can also include the process of receiving input from a user using a hand-held controller and altering a gaming environment based on this input.

As explained earlier in reference to FIG. 1, the first gaming unit 110 and the second gaming unit 112 can be part of a multi-player gaming environment. Thus, a gaming environment can also be provided at the second gaming unit 112, if so desired. As is known in the art, user inputs received at the first gaming unit 110 can affect the gaming environment of the second gaming unit 112, and vice-versa, if these units 110, 112 are in a multi-player gaming environment. Such a scenario is common where two opponents are pitted against one another in a multi-player gaming environment.

In one arrangement, the processor 118 can detect the presence of predefined parameters of the power source 126 or the power source 131 (or any other suitable component, like a mobile unit accessory). For example, the processor 118 can signal the memory 150 of the power source 126 through the contact 154. In response, the memory 150 can transmit the predefined parameters to the processor 118 for evaluation. Any suitable type of information can be a predefined parameter. As explained earlier, several examples of a predefined parameter for the power source 126 include the following: (1) the manufacturer of the power source 126, 131; (2) the voltage capacity of the power source 126, 131; (3) the current capacity of the power source 126, 131; (4) an expiration date of the power source 126; (5) a chemical composition of the power source 126; or (6) an identification value of the power source 126, 131.

The expiration date parameter may apply, for example, if the power source 126 is a disposable battery. In addition, the chemical composition parameter may apply if the power source 126 is a rechargeable battery, i.e., whether the rechargeable battery is a Lithium-Ion or a Nickel-Cadmium battery. The identification value can be, for example, a serial number, a lot number or a date code. As another example, the identification value can be a resistor ID value, if the power source 131 includes a resistor ID scheme. Of course, the invention is not limited to these particular examples, as other suitable criteria may be a predefined parameter. Moreover, the predefined parameters are not limited to being associated with a power source, as predefined parameters of other suitable components may be detected.

Referring back to the method 300 of FIG. 3, at step 320, at least one gaming condition in the gaming environment can be altered based on the detected predefined parameters. At option step 322, there are several ways to alter the gaming environment: (1) by reducing or increasing the availability of gaming elements; (2) by decreasing or increasing the display size of gaming elements; (3) by decreasing or increasing the strength of gaming elements in the gaming environment; (4) by decreasing or increasing the ability of gaming elements to mutate in the gaming environment; (5) by decreasing or increasing the stealthing ability of gaming elements in the gaming environment; or (6) by reducing or increasing the speed at which gaming elements operate in the gaming environment.

Referring to FIG. 2, once the processor 118 detects the predefined parameter, the processor 118 can execute various steps to alter one or more gaming conditions in the gaming environment. For example, the processor 118 can execute code that may cause the availability or display size of gaming elements to be reduced or increased. For purposes of the invention, a gaming element can be any character, symbol, noise or vibration in the gaming environment that can be perceived by the user. As a more specific example, if the user is involved in a game that involves a soldier shooting at enemy targets, the processor 118 may signal the display driver 134 to cause the display 132 to increase the number of enemy targets available for destruction and their size as seen on the display 132. The availability of a gaming element can also include access to a certain level, setting or a rate at which points are awarded in the gaming environment. The availability of a gaming element can even include the behavior or physical or mental capabilities of a gaming element.

As another example, the processor 118 can execute code that can cause—in the gaming environment—the strength of a gaming element, the mutating ability of the gaming element or the stealthing ability of the gaming element to increase or decrease. For instance, if the gaming element is a superhero, the processor 118 may cause to be increased the strength of the superhero or the superhero's ability to be invisible to opponents as perceived by the user in the gaming environment. The term stealthing ability can refer to the ability to effect any change that may modify the visibility of a gaming element. The processor 118 can also cause to be increased the ability of the superhero to transform himself into another character in the gaming environment. The processor 118 can also execute code that can cause the speed at which the gaming element operates to increase or decrease. For example, referring back to the superhero, the processor 118 can cause the speed at which the superhero flies to be increased.

These altered game conditions can be related to the detected, predefined parameters. For example, the manufacturer of the power source 126, 131 may be the same manufacturer who produced the gaming unit 110. When the processor 118 detects this predefined parameter, the processor 118 can cause certain favorable gaming conditions for the user of the gaming unit 110. In particular, the processor 118 may cause the strength of a gaming character assigned to the user to become faster or stronger in the gaming environment.

Conversely, if the processor 118 detects that the power source 126, 131 was made by a manufacturer different from the entity that produced the gaming unit 110, the processor 118 can cause certain unfavorable gaming conditions for the user. For instance, the processor 118 may cause the strength or speed of the gaming character assigned to the user to decrease. Such an arrangement can encourage users to purchase, for example, rechargeable batteries made by the manufacturer of the gaming unit 110.

As another example, the processor 118 may determine that the predefined parameters that it has detected indicate that the power source 126, 131 is a higher-end or relatively expensive unit. Specifically, the processor 118 may determine that the power source 126, 131 may have a high voltage or current capacity, which may reflect that the power source 131 is a higher-priced model. This principle can also apply to identification values of the power source 126, 131. Alternatively, the processor 118 may determine that the power source 126 has a chemical composition (e.g., Lithium-Ion) or an expiration date that indicates that the power source 126 is a more expensive unit. The processor 118 can cause gaming conditions to be favorably altered, such as the manner described above.

If these predefined parameters indicate, however, that the power source 126, 131 is a cheaper model, the processor 118 can cause the gaming conditions to be unfavorably altered. For example, the processor 118 can cause the strength or speed of a gaming character assigned to the user to diminish. Again, these actions may induce the user to purchase a more expensive power source. The above examples are meant to explain the invention and are not intended to limit the invention in any way. In fact, altering a game condition can include any action that generates a difference that may be detected by a user of a gaming unit. These game conditions are not necessarily limited to visual or audio aspects, though. Also, the altering the game conditions principle may apply to other accessories, which may cause a consumer to purchase a more expensive headset, for example.

In another arrangement, data concerning predefined parameters of a particular power source 126, 131 can be stored in the memory 124. When a new power source 126, 131 is used, the processor 118 can access the new predefined parameters as discussed above. The processor 118 can also access the data concerning the predefined parameters of previously used power sources 126, 131. In response, the processor 118 can cause, for example, gaming conditions to be favorably altered, which may prompt a user to buy various types of power sources 126, 131. These favorable alterations may exceed in scope and quality the type of conditions that would be created by the use of a single power source 126, 131.

Referring back to the method 300 of FIG. 3, at step 324, the gaming unit can be a wireless communication device, and the operation of at least one operating feature of the wireless communication device can be altered. In addition, at step 326 of FIG. 4 (through jump circle A), the wireless communication device can include one or more ringtones, a navigation key and a display; the operation of the wireless communication device can be altered by at least one of the following: (1) selectively controlling access to the ringtones; (2) selectively controlling the response times of the navigation key; or (3) selectively controlling the images shown on the display.

For example, referring to FIG. 2, the gaming unit 110 can be a wireless communication device, such as a cellular telephone, a personal digital assistant, a two-way radio, etc. Similar to the process of altering gaming conditions, when the processor 118 detects the predefined parameters, the processor 118 can cause the operation of the ringtones, the navigation key 129 and the display 132 to be altered. These alterations can be designed to encourage a user to purchase a more expensive power source or some other component.

When the processor 118 detects, for example, a higher-end rechargeable battery, the processor 118 can grant to the user access to a number of ringtones. In addition, the processor 118 can decrease the response time of the navigation key 129, which can allow a user to scroll through menus faster. As another example, the processor 118 can signal the display driver 134 to cause more colors to be seen on the display 132.

Conversely, if the processor 118 detects a lower-end rechargeable battery, the processor 118 can limit access to the ringtones and can cause the response time of the navigation key 129 to increase. As another example, the processor 118 can signal the display driver 134 to reduce the number of displayable colors. The invention is not limited to the above examples, as other suitable operating features of the gaming unit 110 can be altered, including (but not limited to) light patterns, operating range, etc.

Referring back to FIG. 4, at step 328, the power source of the first gaming unit can be provided to a second gaming unit. In the second gaming unit, the predefined parameter of the power source can be detected, as shown at step 330. At step 332, at least one gaming condition of a gaming environment of the second gaming unit can be altered based on the detected predefined parameter.

For example, referring back to FIGS. 1 and 2, the power source 126 and the power source 131 can both be portable devices. As a result, the power sources 126, 131 can be removed from the first gaming unit 110 and provided to the second gaming unit 112. In this case, the power source 126 or the power source 131 can provide power to the second gaming unit 112. A processor (not shown) in the second gaming unit 112 can detect at least one of the predefined parameters of the power source 126 or the power source 131.

In response, the processor of the second gaming unit 112 can alter one or more gaming conditions of a gaming environment of the second gaming unit 112. This process can be similar to that described above with respect to the first gaming unit 110 in which certain gaming conditions are affected to encourage a user to buy higher-end products.

Referring once again to the method 300 of FIG. 4, at step 334, the gaming environment can permit a plurality of users to participate in the gaming environment. The predefined parameters of the power source can be communicated to one or more of the users who are participating in the gaming environment.

For example, referring back to FIGS. 1 and 2, as explained previously, the first gaming unit 110 and the second gaming unit 112 can be part of a multi-player gaming environment. Other users may also participate in such a setting. As is known in the art, participants in multi-player settings may be able to access information about one or more of the participants. In one arrangement, the first gaming unit 110 can transmit information about the user of the gaming unit 110 and the attributes of the gaming unit 110 to the database 116 through the communications network 114 and the Internet. This information can include a user name and that user's particular specialties relating to the gaming environment, for instance. As another example, the predefined parameters of the power source 126 or 131 can be sent to the database 116, as well.

When a participant joins the multi-player gaming environment, the information about the other players and any predefined parameters of their power sources (or other suitable component) can be forwarded to the new participant's gaming unit. For example, a user of the first gaming unit 110 can be involved in a multi-player setting. The predefined parameters of the power source 126 or 131 of the first gaming unit 110 can be downloaded to the second gaming unit 112 when the user of the second gaming unit 112 joins the multi-player gaming environment. These parameters can be stored in any suitable memory (not shown) of the second gaming unit 112.

The user of the second gaming unit 112 may notice the superior performance of, for example, a gaming character that is assigned to the user of the first gaming unit 110. The user of the second gaming unit 112 can access the predefined parameters of the power source 126 or 131 of the first gaming unit 110. This information can be displayed to the user of the second gaming unit 112 through any suitable user interface. A message may also be displayed to this user that the performance of the gaming character assigned to the user of the first gaming unit 110 is directly related to the predefined parameters of the power source 126 or 131. As a result, the user of the second gaming unit 112 may be enticed into buying a more expensive power source (or other suitable component, such as an accessory) to improve his performance in the multi-player setting.

It is understood, however, that the invention is not so limited. In particular, any type of information can be transmitted between gaming units that are participating in a multi-player environment in any suitable manner. Also, the transmitted information can be related to any other suitable components, like a headset or some other accessory.

Referring back to the method 300 of FIG. 4, at step 336, a game can be stored in a memory of the power source. The game can be downloaded from the memory to provide the gaming environment. At step 340, the method 300 can end. For example, referring to FIG. 2, a game can be stored in the power source 126.

In one arrangement, the game can be stored in the memory 150. The game can be downloaded into the memory 150 of the power source 126 at the time the power source 126 is manufactured or later. When the power source 126 is coupled to the gaming unit 110, the processor 118 can detect the presence of the game. In response, the processor 118 can download the game into the memory 124 for present or later use. As such, a game can be tied to a particular power source, like a rechargeable battery. In addition, the type of gaming conditions that are altered can be related to the gaming elements that are part of the game. As another example, the game that is stored in the memory 150 can be a trial or sample version of the game. Prompts for ordering a power source 126 that will provide the full version of the game can be provided through the user interface section 120. In another arrangement, the identifier 158 of the power source 131 can be configured to store a game. This game can also be downloaded to the gaming unit 110 similar to the process explained above.

The present invention can be realized in hardware, software or a combination of hardware and software. Any kind of computer system or other apparatus adapted for carrying out the methods described herein are suitable. A typical combination of hardware and software can be a mobile communication device with a computer program that, when being loaded and executed, can control the mobile communication device such that it carries out the methods described herein. The present invention can also be embedded in a computer program product, which comprises all the features enabling the implementation of the methods described herein and which when loaded in a computer system, is able to carry out these methods.

While the preferred embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described, it will be clear that the invention is not so limited. Numerous modifications, changes, variations, substitutions and equivalents will occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.