Title:
Poker training devices and games using the devices
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method and equipment for playing a game of a type wherein a player conceals his emotional state from other players. A device translates an internal emotional state of a player into a display perceptible by others near the player. The device may comprise a sensor unit, and a securing device for securing the sensor unit in contact with the player's skin, the sensor unit detecting a physical parameter indicative of the player's emotional state and issuing a detection signal; and a display unit attached to the sensor unit for receiving the detection signal and issuing a display indicative of the player's emotional state.



Inventors:
Sunnen, Gerard V. (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/218377
Publication Date:
01/25/2007
Filing Date:
08/31/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
HYLINSKI, STEVEN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OSTROLENK FABER LLP (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for translating an internal emotional state of a user into a display perceptible by others near the user, comprising: a sensor unit, and a securing device for securing the sensor unit in contact with the skin of a user, said sensor unit comprising a sensor for detecting at least one physical parameter indicative of said user's emotional state and issuing a detection signal; and a display unit attached to said sensor unit for receiving said detection signal and issuing a display indicative of said emotional state.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein said sensor comprises at least one of a temperature sensor, an EMG sensor, and a GSR sensor.

3. The device of claim 2, further comprising circuitry for processing said detection signal by amplifying said detection signal, or by selecting components of said detection signal indicative of said emotional state, or both.

4. The device of claim 1, wherein said sensor circuit, display unit and securing arrangement form a headband.

5. The device of claim 1, wherein said sensor circuit, display unit and securing arrangement further comprise lenses and thereby form eyeglasses.

6. The device of claim 1, wherein said sensor unit is securable in a position in which said display is not visible to the user.

7. The device of claim 1, wherein said display comprises at least one of a light display, a sound generator, and a vibration generator.

8. The device of claim 7, further comprising circuitry for selecting one or more of said light, sound and vibration display.

9. The device of claim 8, wherein said circuitry further sets the intensity of said one or more display.

10. A method of translating an internal emotional state of a user into a display perceptible by others near the user, comprising the steps of: securing a sensor unit in contact with the skin of a user, in a position in which said display is perceptible by others near the user, detecting with said sensor unit a physical parameter indicative of said user's emotional state and issuing a detection signal; and receiving said detection signal with a display unit attached to said sensor unit and issuing a display indicative of said emotional state.

11. The method of claim 10, comprising the step of sensing at least one of temperature, muscle tension and skin resistance of said user.

12. The method of claim 10, comprising the step of securing said sensor unit in a position in which said display is not visible to the user.

13. A method of playing a game having a predetermined set of equipment and rules, including a step wherein a player conceals his emotional state from other players, said method comprising the steps of: providing said players with said game equipment and said rules; providing each of said players with a device capable of translating an internal emotional state of a player into a display perceptible by others near the player, said device comprising: a sensor unit, and a securing device for securing the sensor unit in contact with the skin of the player, said sensor unit comprising a sensor for detecting a physical parameter indicative of said player's emotional state and issuing a detection signal; and a display unit attached to said sensor unit for receiving said detection signal and issuing a display indicative of said emotional state; wherein each player secures said device in a place on said player's body where said display unit is perceptible by the other players.

14. The method of claim 13, comprising the step of sensing at least one of temperature, muscle tension and skin resistance of said user.

15. The method of claim 13, wherein said sensor unit is securable in a position in which said display is not visible to the user.

16. A method of playing a game having a predetermined set of equipment and rules, including a step wherein a player conceals his emotional state from other players, said method comprising the steps of: providing said players with said game equipment and said rules; providing said players with a device which translates an internal emotional state of a player into a display perceptible by others near the player.

17. Equipment for a game having a predetermined set of equipment and rules, including a step wherein a player conceals his emotional state from other players, comprising: said game equipment and said rules; in combination with a device for translating an internal emotional state of a player into a display perceptible by others near the player, said device comprising: a sensor unit, and a securing device for securing the sensor unit in contact with the skin of the player, said sensor unit comprising a sensor for detecting a physical parameter indicative of said player's emotional state and issuing a detection signal; and a display unit attached to said sensor unit for receiving said detection signal and issuing a display indicative of said emotional state; said device being securable in a place on said player's body where said display unit is perceptible by the other players.

18. The equipment of claim 17, wherein said sensor comprises at least one of a temperature sensor, an EMG sensor, and a GSR sensor.

19. The equipment of claim 17, wherein said sensor unit is securable in a position in which said display is not visible to the user.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is based upon and claims priority of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/697,275, filed Jul. 8, 2005, incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to mood-sensing biofeedback devices, and more particularly to biofeedback devices and methods for use in games, such as poker.

2. Background Art

Poker playing is an art and a science. Woven into the fabric of the game is a sophisticated personal skill, namely the ability to communicate—or to inhibit from communicating—non-verbal behavioral signals.

It has long been observed that emotional states are expressed through the skin. In nervous tension, for example, the skin arterioles constrict, thus reducing blood flow and lowering skin temperature. In relaxation, blood vessels expand, warming the skin.

Electrical skin resistance falls in states of tension because of increased skin moisture. In relaxation, the skin becomes dryer, increasing its electrical resistance.

Muscle action potentials decrease with relaxation and increase with tension. Muscles in the face for example may, at rest, show voltages ranging from approximately 0.5 to 3 microvolts. In states of tension, the voltages may far exceed that range.

Devices capable of reading a player's emotional state may rely on the measurement of body temperature, of galvanic skin resistance (GSR), and/or of muscular tension (EMG). Body temperature, galvanic skin response, and muscular tension are readily translated to a light display via liquid crystal display (LCD) technology; and to a sound via a transducer, an amplifier, and a speaker; and to a vibration via a vibrational unit.

Known biofeedback devices are capable of translating skin temperature, skin resistance, and/or muscle action potential into light, color, and sound.

The devices are capable of translating skin temperature, skin resistance, and/or muscle action potentials into light, color, and sound. Rather than acting as clinical biofeedback instruments, however, this invention applies the use of these devices for entertainment purposes, especially for improving the user's poker playing.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the invention relates to biofeedback devices and methods, and to games played with the devices and methods.

It is an object of the present invention to apply biofeedback devices to enhance the play of certain games, including but not limited to poker and the like.

The devices in this invention, particularly adapted for poker training, contain sensors capable of translating changes in skin temperature, skin electrical conductivity, and/or muscle action potentials into perceptible stimuli such as light, sound, and vibration. The vibration feature allows the player to privately guage the presence and intensity of his/her own internal reactions.

This invention contains elements found in most biofeedback circuits: A transducer receives bodily signals, converting them to forms readable by instruments. An amplifier augments the strength of the signals received from the transducer. A signal processor narrows or selects the spectrum of signals received, selecting the most fruitful for processing by the signal display which converts the signal into perceivable stimuli—in the case of this invention, light and sound.

In poker for example, the devices' purpose is to signal to other players the status of a player's internal emotional state, such as nervous tension, or of another type of emotional arousal, in order to infuse the playing field with novel levels of divertissement intrigue.

The disclosed game example is a poker game played in similar fashion to any one of the varieties of poker enjoyed today except that it adds the additional feature wherein the players wear a small device on their heads designed to “read” their emotional states and to convey them to other players. The device translates the player's emotional disposition into a light display and/or a sound, and/or a vibration. The intensity of light, sound, or vibration is proportional to the player's level of internal arousal.

The disclosed training devices have the capacity to integrate skin temperature, skin resistance, and muscle action potentials, via a microprocessor, in order to achieve accuracy in translating states of autonomic nervous system activation.

The tension level of each individual player is translated via sensors on the device and displayed for other players to take note. With higher states of internal tension, the light displays increasing brightness and color and the sound is driven to a higher pitch or to a different tone.

The light, sound and vibration may each be displayed individually, or conjointly. Light, sound and vibration may be selected in any combination. The choice is left to the players, who decide as a group at the start of the game which modalities will be displayed.

If only the light display is chosen, the device may be constructed so that either (1) the players are not able to observe their own light displays, or (2) the players can observe both their own displays and the displays of the others.

If only the sound option is chosen, the players will be exposed to the auditory signals of all the players. A higher pitch sound or tone from one player will signify that the stress level of that player has increased.

If both the light and the sound displays are activated for all players, everyone will have a chance to both see and hear the inner emotional workings of their fellow players.

Since each player wears a device open to the direct observation of all other players, the ordinary poker game achieves a new level of enjoyment and psychological complexity.

In many games, foremost of which is poker, bluffing is a central part of game strategy. Bluffing, to be done correctly, necessitates either a complete absence of giveaway facial and bodily expressions, or behavioral expressions deliberately opposite to the ones actually experienced.

Bluffing, however, skillfully as it may inhibit any outward behavioral display, invariably creates internal tension which translates into arousal of the autonomic nervous system, expressed through alterations of skin temperature, skin electrical conductivity, and muscle action potentials. Several poker situations may, in addition to bluffing, intensify internal tension. Consider, for example, the act of being dealt a winning card. Can players inhibit their internal responses so as not to give themselves away? Can players, not only inhibit, but also deliberately create internal responses to confuse other players?

The idea of using these devices to convey a poker player's emotional state to other players may, at first glance, seem counter-intuitive. What advantage, one may ask, could be bestowed on an individual player by wearing a device that telegraphs his/her inner emotional workings to his adversaries?

The answer lies not so much in enhancing any one player's personal advantage in the game. The purpose of the device becomes clear when one considers that all the players are wearing the same device. The game then achieves an interactive group dynamic, where each player is able to observe the emotional states of all the other players, and, importantly, receives feedback from other players about his/her own emotional state.

The presence of other players has a marked influence upon the individual player's poker playing. Other players may bluff or use intimidation, or humor, to distract and perhaps derail the game of their opponents. The individual poker player, given all the data furnished by all the devices worn by the other players, then has the opportunity to modulate his/her internal reactions in order to master the art of controlling their degree of communication to the other players. With sustained training, this skill will carry over when the training device is not in use.

Importantly, the disclosed devices can be useful in honing one's intuition. Indeed, it is increasingly appreciated that hunches are first perceived below the level of awareness and that expert poker players are the ones that are mot attuned to their internal states. The devices can thus teach players how to become increasingly sensitive to their own subconscious signals.

Devices designed to translate internal emotional arousal into visual, auditory and/or vibrational displays for use as learning tools for card games such as, but not limited to poker, are presented herein.

These devices may be used in any one of the many varieties of poker games including “Texas Hold'em.”

These devices make possible:

  • 1. Personal training in sharpening one's self-awareness—and consequently, intuition—in the context of poker playing by presenting the player with a vibrational signal reflecting his/her state of inner tension. The usefulness of this training is derived from data showing that expert players are more finely attuned than most in listening to their visceral signals. With continued use, these devices enable the player to become more rapidly conscious of his/her hunches.
  • 2. Interactive training. When all poker players are wearing the devices there are mutual player interactions influencing individual play. The devices sharpen the player's awareness of how the other players influence personal play.

Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of embodiments of the invention which refers to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a first device in the form of a headband in frontal view.

FIG. 2 shows the headband in lateral view.

FIG. 3 shows the device as it is worn on the head.

FIG. 4 is a back view of the device, namely the surface that is in contact with the skin.

FIG. 5 shows a second device, designed for wearing as glasses, in frontal view.

FIG. 6 shows the glasses from the side apposing the face.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 shows a first device designed in the form of a headband, in frontal view. The sensor housing unit (1) is apposed to the forehead and is held to the head by straps (2). The sensor housing unit connects with the light display (3). The mini-speaker (4) is also visible in the frontal view.

FIG. 2 shows the headband in lateral view. The sensor housing unit (1) wraps around the forehead by means of straps (2). The sensor housing unit attaches to the light display (3).

FIG. 3 shows the device as it is worn on the head. The sensor housing unit (1) is held in place by the strap (2). The mini-speaker (4) is visible. The light display (3) rises above the sensor unit and may be disposed so as to be either visible or not visible to the wearer.

FIG. 4 is a back view of the device, the surface that is in contact with the skin. The sensor housing unit (1) is held to the skin of the forehead by means of straps (2). The battery (5) powers the microprocessor (6). The microprocessor is connected to the input of several sensors, among them the temperature sensor (7), the EMG sensor (8), and the GSR sensor (9). The microprocessor's output is to the light display (3), which may include one or a plurality of LED's presenting one or a plurality of colors, to the mini-speaker (4), and to the vibration unit (11). A control button, dial or the like (10) regulates the functions of the microprocessor including selection of options including the light display and the sound and vibration functions. The mini-speaker may emit tones, music or any other sound.

The microprocessor advantageously may process or filter the detection signals from the sensors, for example reducing or limiting their frequency range, so as to obtain a processed signal with better correlation to the user's emotional state than the raw detection signal. An amplifier, not shown, may also be provided for amplifying the detection signal and/or the outputs to the display devices.

FIG. 5 shows the device designed for wearing as glasses, in frontal view. The light display (3) forms the rim of the glasses. The mini-speaker (4) is shown in the nose bridge.

FIG. 6 shows the glasses from the side apposing the face. The battery (5) powers the microprocessor (6). The microprocessor receives signals from the sensors, namely the temperature sensor (7), the EMG sensor (8), and the GSR sensor (9). The microprocessor modulates the output of the speaker (4) and of the light display (3), and the vibration unit (11) in the same manner as in the first device.

The devices may be provided in a kit containing all the elements necessary for a poker game: cards, chips, and instructions.

In use, each player places one of the disclosed devices on his/her head.

At the beginning of the game all players decide on any one of four options regarding setting their devices, namely to:

  • 1. Turn on the light display only
  • 2. Turn on the auditory display only
  • 3. Turn on both the light and sound displays
  • 4. Turn on the private vibrational mode, alone or in conjunction with other modalities.

As the game proceeds, each player will have the opportunity to observe the displays of other players in relation to the evolution of the game. Poker situations will become connected to patterns of response in individual players and each player will attempt to use the data gleaned from the signals of fellow players to advance his or her own game.

Although the present invention has been described in relation to particular embodiments thereof, many other variations and modifications and other uses will become apparent to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the present invention is not limited by the specific disclosure herein.