Title:
LIGHT AND IMAGE PROJECTION IN AN AMUSEMENT DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Systems and methods for projecting indirect lighting from a gaming apparatus are provided. One aspect of the invention utilizes projected light to increase a player's desire to play or continue to play the game. In still yet another aspect of the invention, projected indirect light is utilized to enhance the game play of an amusement device. In one such embodiment, light may be projected from underneath the apparatus of a driving game to simulate the ‘under-body glow’ effect used by car customizers. This has the primary effect of creating the appearance of such a customized car but also provides a substantially differentiated presentation of the game. In still yet a further aspect, light projected from a gaming apparatus increases the perceived space occupied by the game. In one embodiment, a distinctive logo is projected onto the wall above and behind a video game.



Inventors:
Eloff, Andrew W. (Evanston, IL, US)
Davis, Matthew James (Glenview, IL, US)
Catalan, Richmond (Chicago, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/458606
Publication Date:
01/25/2007
Filing Date:
07/19/2006
Assignee:
Raw Thrills Inc. (Niles, IL, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
463/46
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
CHEUNG, VICTOR
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BANNER & WITCOFF, LTD. (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An arcade-style amusement device comprising: a housing that includes: a control unit; a user control; a display device; and a light source which projects light from the housing onto an external surface that is not in electronic communication with the device.

2. The amusement device of claim 1, wherein the housing further comprises a colored membrane positioned in-between the light source and the external surface.

3. The amusement device of claim 2, wherein the light passes through a selectively opaque surface, creating a pattern on the external surface.

4. The amusement device of claim 1, wherein the external surface is selected from the group consisting of: a wall, a ceiling, the ground, and combinations thereof.

5. The amusement device of claim 4, wherein the external surface comprises the ground and the amusement device further comprises: a seating apparatus for positioning a user during usage of the amusement device, wherein the light source is positioned substantially beneath the seating apparatus, thereby emitting light from under the seating apparatus to the ground.

6. The amusement device of claim 1, wherein the control unit further comprises a computer-readable medium having computer-executable instructions, the computer readable instructions performing the steps comprising of: (a) receiving a signal from a software application being executed by the amusement device; (b) in response to the signal, adjusting the a light source which projects light from the housing onto the external surface, wherein the adjustment of the light alters the characteristics of the lighting that strikes the surface.

7. The amusement device of claim 6, wherein the lighting characteristics are selected from the group consisting of: brightness, contrast, color, longevity, and combinations thereof.

8. The amusement device of claim 6, wherein the computer readable instructions further comprise the step of: (c) receiving a signal from a user, and in response to the signal from the user adjusting the a light source which projects light from the housing onto the external surface, wherein the adjustment of the light alters the characteristics of the lighting that strikes the surface.

9. The amusement device of claim 1, where the light passes through a two-dimensional array of computer-controlled shutter elements, creating an image.

10. The amusement device of claim 9, wherein the image is animated.

11. An amusement device having an apparatus for displaying sequences of animated graphics projected onto an external surface not in electronic communication with the device, the apparatus comprising: a video projector; an interface for a communicating with a computer readable medium which stores source data for rending animations; and an interface for communicating with a processor which generates the animations.

12. The amusement device of claim 11, further comprising a computer readable medium for storing source data for rendering the animations.

13. The amusement device of claim 11, further comprising a processor for generating the images.

14. The amusement device of claim 11, further comprising a two-dimensional array of computer-controlled shutter elements, wherein light from the video projector passes through the array to create a static or animated image.

15. The amusement device of claim 11, wherein the external surface is selected from the group consisting of: a wall, a ceiling, the ground, and combinations thereof.

16. An arcade-style amusement device comprising a housing, the housing comprising a control unit, a user control and a display device, the amusement device comprising: a seating apparatus for positioning a user during usage of the amusement device; a light source which projects light from a portion of the housing onto a surface, wherein the light source is positioned substantially beneath the seating apparatus, thereby emitting light from under the seating apparatus onto a surface, wherein the surface is external to and not in electronic communication with the device; and a computer-readable medium having computer-executable instructions, the computer readable instructions comprising software that when executed provide a driving simulation application to at least one user.

17. The amusement device of claim 16, wherein the housing further comprises a colored membrane positioned in-between the light source and the external surface.

18. The amusement device of claim 17, wherein the light sources projects the light in such a manner to create an appearance that the housing has larger than its physical dimensions.

19. The amusement device of claim 16, wherein the computer-executable instructions further include the steps of: (a) receiving a signal from the application, the signal regarding at least one aspect of driving simulation; (b) in response to the signal, adjusting the a light source which projects light from the housing onto the external surface, wherein the adjustment of the light is in response to a altered aspect of the driving game, and wherein the adjustment of the light source alters the characteristics of the lighting that strikes the surface.

20. The amusement device of claim 19, wherein the lighting characteristics are selected from the group consisting of: brightness, contrast, color, longevity, and combinations thereof.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to amusement devices, and more particularly, to systems and methods relating to increasing the noticability or desirability of an amusement device through the use of indirect lighting.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The entertainment industry continues to flourish as the public ceaselessly demands an increasing array of talent and innovation to help relax from the tumultuous reality, or simply to satisfy their specific wants. Particularly in today's technological computer era, home-gaming and other electronic devices have become very popular.

As home gaming consoles offer increasingly more realistic gaming experiences and graphics capabilities, arcades and other public amusement venues are being faced with elevated competition to retain players. This, coupled with the current trend to rapidly release arcade games on home consoles, creates a limited amount of time to generate profits in a given amusement device. While a mature subset of the gaming population still provides a demand for older games in operation, these arcade games are frequently installed and operated in dark locations, such as bars and clubs, and thus are rarely noticed and do not create a desire for users to play the game. Newer arcade games are placed in locations which have a lot of old games. Many manufacturers of these newer games use cardboard signs which attach to the game to indicate the newness of the game. In a low-light environment, or staring down a row of games, however, it is hard to see the impact of such a device. Moreover, the games are generally placed in locations where people are always standing, such as bars and theaters, thus decreasing the chance the game will be noticed.

While increasing the dimensions of an arcade game in relation to the surrounding games may increase the noticability of a game, this is not practical in most situations, since most games need to be able to go through a standard doorway, thus limiting their physical height to around the height of a tall person. Therefore, the sightlines from a person to the game are frequently obscured. Deployable lighted marquees which increase the overall height of the cabinet have been used in the past, but these are cumbersome to use and have a practical height limit which still prevents them from being tall enough to be adequately noticed. That fact, coupled with the typical placement of a game in a back wall or corner, substantially reduces the visibility of the game. Thus there is a need for an amusement device that incorporates a means to increase a game's ability to be noticed while increasing a user's desire to play the game.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to systems and methods for projecting lighting from a gaming apparatus. In one aspect of the invention, the projected light increases the likelihood of the game being played. Another aspect of the invention utilizes projected indirect light to increase a player's desire to play or continue to play the game. In still yet another aspect of the invention, projected indirect light is utilized to enhance the game play of an amusement device. In one such embodiment, light may be projected from underneath the apparatus of a driving game to simulate the ‘under-body glow’ effect used by car customizers. This has the primary effect of creating the appearance of such a customized car but also provides a substantially differentiated presentation of the game. In still yet a further aspect, light projected from a gaming apparatus increases the perceived space occupied by the game. In one embodiment, a distinctive logo is projected onto the wall above and behind a video game. The effect increases the visibility of the game even in crowded locations with high foot traffic. In another embodiment, an LCD projector is used to project game play or other attractive elements on the ceiling above a device for the benefit of potential customers. In another embodiment, a ceiling display may be used as a game play element. Additional features and advantages of the invention will be apparent upon reviewing the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 depicts an exemplary arcade-style system in which embodiments of the invention may be implemented.

FIG. 2 depicts an exemplary computer system in which embodiments of the invention may be implemented.

FIG. 3 shows an illustrative embodiment of an arcade-style amusement device projecting indirect light onto an external surface.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Introduction

An exemplary arcade-style configuration of an amusement device is illustrated in FIG. 1. The arcade video game 100 includes a control unit 105, a user controller 110, and a display 115. Unlike a traditional home game display (see, e.g., 242), the arcade game display 115 is not provided by the user, but rather may be housed in the same arcade game cabinet as the control unit 105 and the user controller 110. Within this cabinet, the user controller 110 and the display 115 are connected to the control unit 105. A central processing unit 120 in the control unit 105 executes one or more programs on a hard disk 125, or other computer-readable media, to create a visual representation on the display 115. The central processing unit 120 may also execute user-defined instructions stored in a random access memory 130. During game play, the user controller 110 is operated by a user to cause the control unit 105 to vary the visual representation on the display 115. Optionally, the configuration may include additional input/output sources (see, e.g. 135), such as, for example, LAN, WLAN, or interfaces as known in the art, for example, as illustrated in FIG. 2. While the exemplary embodiment illustrates an arcade-style configuration, the invention, however, may be configured for personal gaming systems, such as Sony® Playstation® or Microsoft® Xbox®, handheld systems such as a Palm® or Treo®, among others, for example, cellular-based applications.

Exemplary Operating Environment

FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary computer system in which embodiments of the invention may be implemented. A computer 200 is connected to a local area network (LAN) 202 and a wide area network (WAN) 204. Computer 200 includes a central processor 210 that controls the overall operation of the computer and a system bus 212 that connects central processor 210 to the components described below. System bus 212 may be implemented with any one of a variety of conventional bus architectures.

Computer 200 can include a variety of interface units and drives for reading and writing data or files. In particular, computer 200 includes a local memory interface 214 and a removable memory interface 216 respectively coupling a hard disk drive 218 and a removable memory drive 220 to system bus 212. Examples of removable memory drives include magnetic disk drives and optical disk drives. Hard disks generally include one or more read/write heads that convert bits to magnetic pulses when writing to a computer-readable medium and magnetic pulses to bits when reading data from the computer readable medium. A single hard disk drive 218 and a single removable memory drive 220 are shown for illustration purposes only and with the understanding that computer 200 may include several of such drives. Furthemore, computer 200 may include drives for interfacing with other types of computer readable media such as magneto-optical drives.

Unlike hard disks, system memories, such as system memory 226, generally read and write data electronically and do not include read/write heads. System memory 226 may be implemented with a conventional system memory having a read only memory section that stores a basic input/output system (BIOS) and a random access memory (RAM) that stores other data and files.

A user can interact with computer 200 via a variety of input devices. FIG. 2 shows a serial port interface 228 coupling a keyboard 230 and a pointing device 232 to system bus 212. Pointing device 232 may be implemented with a hard-wired or wireless mouse, track ball, pen device, or similar device.

Computer 200 may include additional interfaces for connecting peripheral devices to system bus 212. FIG. 2 shows a universal serial bus (USB) interface 234 coupling a video or digital camera 236 to system bus 212. An IEEE 1394 interface 238 may be used to couple additional devices to computer 200. Furthermore, interface 238 may configured to operate with particular manufacture interfaces such as FireWire developed by Apple Computer and i.Link developed by Sony. Peripheral devices may include touch sensitive screens, game pads scanners, printers, and other input and output devices and may be coupled to system bus 212 through parallel ports, game ports, PCI boards or any other interface used to couple peripheral devices to a computer.

Computer 200 also includes a video adapter 140 coupling a display device 242 to system bus 212. Display device 242 may include a cathode ray tube (CRT), liquid crystal display (LCD), field emission display (FED), plasma display or any other device that produces an image that is viewable by the user. Sound can be recorded and reproduced with a microphone 244 and a speaker 246. A sound card 248 may be used to couple microphone 244 and speaker 246 to system bus 212.

One skilled in the art will appreciate that the device connections shown in FIG. 2 are for illustration purposes only and that several of the peripheral devices could be coupled to system bus 212 via alternative interfaces. For example, video camera 236 could be connected to IEEE 1394 interface 238 and pointing device 232 could be connected to USB interface 234.

Computer 200 includes a network interface 250 that couples system bus 212 to LAN 202. LAN 202 may have one or more of the well-known LAN topologies and may use a variety of different protocols, such as Ethernet. Computer 200 may communicate with other computers and devices connected to LAN 202, such as computer 252 and printer 254. Computers and other devices may be connected to LAN 202 via twisted pair wires, coaxial cable, fiber optics or other media. Alternatively, radio waves may be used to connect one or more computers or devices to LAN 202.

A wide area network 204, such as the Internet, can also be accessed by computer 200. FIG. 2 shows a modem unit 256 connected to serial port interface 228 and to WAN 204. Modem unit 256 may be located within or external to computer 200 and may be any type of conventional modem, such as a cable modem or a satellite modem. LAN 202 may also be used to connect to WAN 204. FIG. 2 shows a router 258 that may connect LAN 202 to WAN 204 in a conventional manner. A server 260 is shown connected to WAN 204. Of course, numerous additional servers, computers, handheld devices, personal digital assistants, telephones and other devices may also be connected to WAN 204.

The operation of computer 200 and server 260 can be controlled by computer-executable instructions stored on a computer-readable medium. For example, computer 200 may include computer-executable instructions for transmitting information to server 260, receiving information from server 260 and displaying the received information on display device 242. Furthermore, server 260 may include computer-executable instructions for transmitting hypertext markup language (HTML) or extensible markup language (XML) computer code to computer 200.

EXAMPLES

FIG. 3 shows one illustrative embodiment of an arcade-style amusement device projecting indirect light. As seen in the figure, the device comprises a housing 305 having a display 310, user controls 315 and associated computer hardware, such as hard drives, memory, computer executable code and those shown in FIG. 2. The housing may also be further modified to have a seat 320 or other apparatus for preventing a user from having to stand during game play. As shown in the figure, the lower portion of the housing is configured to emit indirect light from the housing.

As can readily be seen in the figure, a light emitting source (not shown) within the housing is configured to emit a light 325 which is projected from the housing onto a surface, wherein the surface is external to and not in electronic communication with the device. In the illustrated device, the light is striking and therefore can be seen on the floor or ground adjacent to the amusement device. As readily understood to one skilled in the art, the term “ground” refers to the surface substantially below the gaming device and is not restricted to a walking surface, but rather includes any substantially rigid surface beneath and proximate to the amusement device.

In one embodiment, the light emitting source is configured to emit light to strike at least one external surface in a manner to increase the perceived space occupied by the gaming device. This would allow the amusement device to stand out among other surrounding amusement devices and may increase a potential player's desire to use it. While the illustrated embodiment uses the floor adjacent to the device as the external surface, one skilled in the art will appreciate that other surfaces may be used, such as for example, one or more walls, the ceiling, a panel extending from the device, nearby gaming devices or the like. Moreover, the light source itself may emit a plurality of colors. In one such embodiment, a plurality of colors are emitted to create a distinctive pattern, such as to resemble one or more aspects of the game play of the device. Of course one skilled in the art will realize a screen or other masking mechanisms may be used to alter the color or characteristics of the emitted light. In one embodiment, the light passes through a two-dimensional array of computer-controlled shutter elements to create an image.

In yet another embodiment, a distinctive logo or trademark is projected onto one or more adjacent surfaces, such as onto the wall above and behind a video game. The effect increases the visibility of the game even in crowded locations with high foot traffic. In one such embodiment, an LCD projector may be used to project game play or other attractive elements on the ceiling above a device for the benefit of potential customers. As one skilled in the art will readily appreciate, sound and or other audio-visual effects may be used to further enhance the use of the lighting according to various embodiments of the invention.

In still yet another embodiment of the invention, the projected light is utilized to further increase the enjoyment of game play of the device. For example, the illustrated amusement device is a car racing game entitled “The Fast and the Furious” aptly named after the movie under the same title, also involving racing cars. Scenes from the movie show customized racing cars having “under-body glow”. To further enhance the gaming experience, at least a portion of the light may be projected from underneath the cabinet of a driving game to simulate the ‘under-body glow’ effect used in the movie. This has an effect of creating the appearance of such a customized car but also may provide a substantially differentiated presentation of the game.

In another embodiment, at least a portion of the light sources emitting the projected light are operatively coupled to the electronic components, such as those shown in FIG. 2. In one such embodiment, the user's driving effects the projected light. For example, if a user engaged in game play of the device “drives” over an obstacle in the road or “crashes” into a hard surface, the lights could dim or a portion of the lights may deactivate, thus creating the feeling of breaking the components of the car creating the ‘under-body glow’. Yet in other embodiments, the lights may change color as the user “accelerates” or engages in other aspects of the game.

What has been described above is merely illustrative of the application of the principles of the invention. Indeed, the present invention is not limited to amusement or electronic games, but may be applied to a broad application of amusement devices, for example mechanical gaming devices. Those skilled in the art can implement other systems, configurations, arrangements, methods, and graphical user interfaces without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.