Title:
Voice-Activated Toy Wand and Method of Play
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A toy wand consisting of a cylindrical housing with a proximal and distal end, power source, voice-activated functionality, a plurality of LEDs, an input microphone, an output speaker, a plurality of control mechanisms, a means of direct-contact data communication port, and a variety of sensors. The LEDs and speaker provide visual and audible output in response to the voice-activated control unit recognition of user spoken commands. The voice-activate toy wand may also interact with other toys of similar construction employing infrared or other means of wireless signal emission and wireless signal detection.



Inventors:
Galbiati, Scott (Watervliet, NY, US)
Bartlet, John P. (Aurora, CA)
Application Number:
11/307432
Publication Date:
11/08/2007
Filing Date:
02/07/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/28
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RADA, ALEX P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SCOTT GALBIATI (VINELAND, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A voice-activated toy wand, comprising: (a) an elongated hollow cylindrical housing, and (b) a voice-activated control unit, and (c) a means of audible input, and (d) an illumination source, and (e) a means of producing a plurality of audible tones, whereby said voice-activated toy wand provides a seemingly magical play experience.

2. The voice-activated toy wand of claim 1, further comprising a means of producing an illuminated output.

3. The voice-activated toy wand of claim 1, further comprising a means of producing a plurality of audible tones.

4. The means of producing an illuminated output of claim 2 wherein said illumination source comprises a plurality of light emitting diodes.

5. The voice-activated toy wand of claim 1 wherein said means of audible input comprises a microphone.

6. The voice-activated toy wand of claim 1, further comprising a means of wireless signal emission.

7. The voice-activated toy wand of claim 1, further comprising a means of wireless signal detection.

8. The means of wireless signal emission of claim 6 wherein said means of wireless signal emission comprises an infrared wavelength emitter.

9. The means of wireless signal detection of claim 7 wherein said means of wireless signal detection comprises an infrared wavelength sensor.

10. An attachable component, comprising: (a) a plurality of LEDs, and (b) a means of wireless signal emission, and (c) a means of wireless signal detection, and (d) a means of direct contact data communication, whereby said attachable component provides additional functionality to enhance said magical play experience of said voice-activated toy wand.

11. The attachable component of claim 10 wherein said means of wireless signal emission comprises an infrared wavelength emitter.

12. The attachable component of claim 10 wherein said means of wireless signal detection comprises an infrared wavelength sensor.

13. The voice-activated toy wand of claim 1 further comprising a means of direct contact data communication.

14. The voice-activated toy wand of claim 1 further comprising a means of detecting the attachment of said attachable component.

15. A method of interactive play incorporating said voice-activated toy wand, comprising the steps of: (a) equipping a plurality of participants each with said voice-activated toy wand, and (b) providing a means of communication between said plurality of users equipped with said voice-activated toy wand employing wireless signal transmission, and (c) culminating said method of interactive play when said voice-activated microcontroller attains the predetermined quantity of event occurrences, whereby participants of said interactive play compete to trigger an event on one of said plurality of voice-activated toy wands.

16. The method of interactive play of claim 15 wherein said event trigger comprises the detection of said infrared wavelength.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to voice-activated toys and methods of play which accept spoken commands from a user to provide a magical play experience.

DISCUSSION OF THE BACKGROUND

Toys that include voice-recognition circuitry are currently known and available. Primarily, such toys that exist in this domain include dolls or other personified objects. The incorporation of voice-activated technology to these devices has become an important feature to their usability and market potential. Also currently available are toys specifically designed to replicate a magical or wizard-oriented play experience, many originating in association with the Harry Potter™ book series created by J. K Rowling and accompanying motion pictures, produced by Warner Bros. Studios. Based on the success of both the books and movies, a substantial market exists for toys relating to wizards and more specifically, Harry Potter™.

However, current state of the art toy wands do not offer a voice-activated interface, and are limited to perform basic output of light and sound functions directly controlled though the manual actuation of buttons or switches. These toys do not provide a simulated “magical” play experience.

Some patents are issued relating to the goal of simulating a magical play experience. Specifically, Weston, et al. (U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,761,637/2004, 6,967,566/2005) describe a wand used as a part of a simulated ride or a part of a play environment. The wand described in these patents is only used to interact and control the surroundings and is not primarily voice-controlled. Weston's device primarily uses RFID and interacts with the environment through a central master control system. The present invention does not require any exterior control system and will only interact with like toys.

The present invention is not to be confused with common wand lights as used in directing airport traffic and in other like applications such as in Riblett U.S. Pat. No. 6,293,684/2001. The present invention is also not to be confused with an LED flashlight such as Neiser describes in U.S. Pat. No. 6,942,358/2005 because the single purpose of these devices is to provide light and the present invention will emit light as one part of a complex combination of output signals.

A more similar invention is that of Holt U.S. Pat. No. 6,626,728/2003 that is a wand in which all input is received through motion sensors and there is no voice-activated control. This invention is only similar in that it represents a toy magic wand used to simulate a magical play experience.

The goal of the present invention is to provide a simulated magical play experience for a user that resembles the casting of magical spells by popular literary and cinematic characters with greater accuracy and usability than currently available devices. These characters traditionally use a magical wand and spoken incantation to channel their magical ability. Incorporation of the voice-activated control unit allows the user to initiate functions by speaking an otherwise vain incantation, thereby providing a more accurate representation of a magical experience. The present invention produces new and unexpected results where no other toy wand is controlled via voice interface. This deviation in interface provides the most accurate magical play experience compared to the known prior art. Presently, no such invention exists which provides such accurate replication of the magical adeptness possessed by the aforementioned literary and cinematic characters.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention describes a toy wand equipped with speech-recognition circuitry to act as the sole interface between device and user. This technology provides a more authentic magical play experience to the user who may initiate functions of the toy wand employing a known incantation.

Additional functionality may be incorporated to the toy wand through the attachment of an accessory. A method of play, both interactive and individual, is also disclosed incorporating the aforementioned voice-activated toy wand. A toy wand that can be turned on or off and also switched between operation modes, including single user mode, herein referred to as “individual mode”, and multi-user mode, herein referred to as “interactive mode”. The interactive mode is initiated by the attachment of an accessory herein referred to as the interactive accessory.

Additional aspects, features, and advantages of the present invention are readily apparent from the following detailed description, by illustrating a number of exemplary embodiments and implementations, including the best mode contemplated for carrying out the present invention. The present invention is also capable of other and different embodiments, and several details of the invention can be modified in various respects, all without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The embodiments of the present invention are illustrated by way of example, and not by way of limitation, in the figures of the accompanying drawings and in which like reference numerals refer to similar elements and in which:

FIG. 1-A illustrates an exemplary embodiment of the proximal end of the voice-activated toy wand;

FIG. 1-B illustrates an exemplary embodiment of the distal end of the voice-activated toy wand;

FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary detail of the distal end of the voice-activated toy wand with emphasis on the system power switch and control switch locations;

FIG. 3-A illustrates an exemplary embodiment of the proximal end of the voice-activated toy wand with interactive accessory attached;

FIG. 3-B illustrates an exemplary embodiment of the distal end of the voice-activated toy wand with interactive accessory attached;

FIG. 4-A illustrates an exemplary embodiment of the distal end of the interactive accessory;

FIG. 4-B illustrates an exemplary embodiment of the proximal end of the interactive accessory;

FIG. 5 illustrates an exemplary exploded view of the preferred embodiment;

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram illustrating component interaction of the voice-activated toy wand voice-activated control unit;

FIG. 7 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of the voice-activated control unit;

FIG. 8 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of the voice-activated toy wand's means of direct contact data communications with the interactive accessory communication bus;

FIG. 9 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a plurality of wands operating under interactive mode with interactive accessories attached;

FIG. 10 is a flow diagram illustrating logical system operation;

FIG. 11 is pseudo code of the sub-function executed in response to wireless signal detection by the wireless signal sensors; and

FIG. 12 is a detailed view of the voice-activated toy wand input-interface switch, communication bus, and communication bus contacts.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

In the following detailed description of the present invention, specific details are set forth to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. However, it will be recognized by one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details or with equivalents thereof. In other instances, well-known methods, procedures, components, and circuits have not been described in detail as not to unnecessarily obscure aspects of the present invention.

Voice-Activated Wand Specification

The voice-activated toy wand 20 consists of a hollow housing 52, a voice-activated control unit 26, a means for accepting an audible input 24, an input interface switch 36, a system power switch 34, a means for producing an audible output 22, a plurality of light emitting diodes 38 (LEDs), and a power source 32. The hollow housing 52 comprises a translucent polymer tip 40, wherein said tip 40 protects the plurality of LEDs 38 while permitting the transmission of visible and non-visible wavelengths of light. The voice-activated toy wand may further comprise a means of emitting a wireless signal 48 and a means of detecting a wireless signal 50. The voice-activated toy wand may further comprise a means of direct contact data communication 28 whereby said means of direct contact data communication provides a connection to the interactive accessory internal components 84. The voice-activated control unit is responsible for controlling all functions of the voice-activated toy wand 20 and attachable accessory 30.

Voice-Activated Wand—Control Unit Specification

The preferred embodiment of the voice-activated control unit 26 shall comprise the Sensory RSC-4128 voice-activated microcontroller 66 manufactured by Sensory, Inc. FIG. 7 provides a block diagram of the Sensory RSC-4128 voice-activated microcontroller 66, provided by Sensory Inc. (www.sensoryinc.com). The preferred embodiment of the voice-activated control unit 26 features highly accurate voice recognition and system control capability. The circuitry is capable of providing a speaker-independent interface that may accept spoken commands from a diverse variety of users, regardless of the age or gender of said speaker. The voice-activated control unit 26 shall control the components, functions, and features of the voice-activated toy wand 20. The general-purpose I/O 3×8 bit ports 54 provide a means of communication between the means of direct contact data communication 28 and the voice-activated control unit 26. Details relating to specific circuit layout and assembly of the voice-activated control unit system are readily appreciated by one skilled in the art.

Voice-Activated Wand—Control Unit Operation Modes

Operating modes govern the system control capability of the voice-activated control unit 26, wherein each operating mode is responsible for executing system code dependent on the system configuration. The user may adjust the system configuration through activation of a switch 34 or button 36. Under a preferred embodiment, the user shall adjust the system configuration per the attachment of an accessory 30 to the voice-activated control unit 26 via the voice-activated toy wand communication bus 82 or detachment of an accessory 30 from the voice-activated control unit 26 via the voice activated toy wand communication bus 82. The preferred embodiment of available operating modes shall comprise “individual mode” and “interactive mode”. Under a preferred embodiment, the default operating mode of the voice-activated control unit is individual mode.

Under a preferred embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 8, the voice-activated control unit 26 shall detect the attachment of the attachable accessory 30 through the detection of conductivity among a known plurality of conductive communication bus contacts 68. Furthermore, the voice-activated control unit 26 shall detect components within the attachable accessory 30 through the detection of conductivity among a known plurality of conductive communication bus contacts 68. Upon the attachment and detection of an attachable accessory 30, the voice-activated control unit 26 may amend the operating mode to one of a plurality of available operating modes. The connection and detection of the interactive accessory 30 shall amend the operating mode of the voice-activated control 26 unit to interactive mode. Upon the removal of an attachable accessory 30 from the voice-activated toy wand 20, the operating mode of the voice-activated control unit 26 shall return to the default operating mode.

Voice-Activated Wand—Input Interface Switch Specification

The disclosed invention shall comprise a minimum quantity of switches or buttons visible from the exterior of voice-activated toy wand 20, thereby limiting the quantity of non-magical features providing a more magical play experience for the user.

FIG. 2 illustrates the input interface switch 36 and the system power switch 34. The input interface switch 36 controls connectivity between the microphone 24 and voice-activated control unit 26. The system power switch 34 controls the flow of electricity between the power source and the voice-activated control unit 26. Additionally, the system power switch 34 or input interface switch 36 may also control the operating mode of the voice-activated control unit 26 by substituting SPST (single pole single throw) switches with DPST (double pole single throw switches) as appreciated by one skilled in the art.

Voice-Activated Wand—Microphone Specification

The voice-activated control unit 26 shall receive spoken commands by a user 64 via a microphone 24 connected to said voice-activated control unit 26. The microphone 24 type may include high-impedance or low-impedance. The pickup pattern of the microphone may include omni-directional, bi-directional, cardioid, hyper-cardioid, or shotgun. A preferred embodiment of the current invention shall incorporate a low-impedance omni directional microphone. A small bore 56 shall be present through the housing of the voice-activated toy wand 20, whereby said bore 56 permits the microphone 24 to more accurately receive the user spoken command 64.

Voice-Activated Wand—Communication Bus

The voice-activated control unit 26 may provide a means of direct contact data communication 28 comprising a communication bus 82. Furthermore, the communication bus shall comprise a plurality of conductive contacts 68. The voice-activated toy wand communication bus conductive contacts 68 shall connect to a corresponding plurality of attachable accessory communication bus conductive contacts 70.

Voice-Activated Wand—LEDs, Infrared Emitters, Infrared Sensors, & Speaker

A plurality of LEDs 38 may be located at the distal end of the voice-activated toy wand 20 to provide illumination 60 in response to a user spoken command 64 recognized by the voice-activated control unit 26. The plurality of LEDs 38 located at the distal end of the voice-activated toy wand 20 may comprise one or a plurality of infrared (IR) emitters 48. Furthermore, the plurality of LEDs 38 located at the distal end of the voice-activated toy wand 26 may include one or a plurality of IR sensors 50. An output speaker 22 located at the proximal end of the voice-activated toy wand 20 may provide audible output 58 in response to a user spoken command 64 recognized by the voice-activated control unit 26.

Interactive Accessory—Specification

A preferred embodiment of the voice-activated toy wand 20 shall include the interactive accessory. The interactive accessory may comprise, wireless signal emitters 72, wireless signal detectors 74, a plurality of user-communication display LEDs 42, and a means of direct contact data communication 44. Under a preferred embodiment, the wireless signal emitters shall comprise an IR emitter 72. Furthermore, a preferred embodiment of the wireless signal detectors shall comprise an IR sensor 74. The means of attachment 46 of the interactive accessory 30 to the voice-activated toy wand housing 52 may comprise spring-loaded clips, threaded holes, nuts and bolts, chemical adhesive, or press/interference fit 46 as readily appreciated by one skilled in the art.

Interactive Accessory—Wireless Signal Emission and Detection

A preferred embodiment of the interactive accessory means of wireless signal emission 76 shall comprise one or a plurality of IR LEDs 72. Furthermore, a preferred embodiment of the interactive accessory means of wireless signal detection 78 shall comprise one or a plurality of IR sensors 74.

Interactive Accessory—LED Specification and Function

The interactive accessory 30 may further comprise a means for displaying a quantity 96 to the user of the voice-activated toy wand 20. Under a preferred embodiment, the quantity of illuminated display LEDs 42 shall represent a score of remaining life points relevant to the disclosed method of interactive play. The plurality of display LEDs 42 shall align with the user to provide optimal observation of said plurality of display LEDs 42 from the distal end viewpoint of the voice-activated toy wand 20. The state of each of the display LEDs 42 may comprise either illuminated or not illuminated. The voice-activated control unit 26 shall control the state of the plurality of interactive accessory display LEDs 42.

Wireless Signal Detection Sub-Function Pseudo Code

Upon detection of a wireless signal 62 by the voice-activated toy wand wireless signal sensors 88 or the attachable accessory wireless signal sensors 78, an event is triggered 80. The result of a triggered event may comprise a plurality of functions and sub-functions, including the Wireless Signal Detection Sub Function 90, illustrated in FIG. 11. The Wireless Signal Detection Sub-Function 90 may comprise actions including emission of audible tones 58 and patterns of illuminated LEDs 60. If the operating mode of the voice-activated control unit 26 is operating in interactive mode, the Wireless Signal Detection Sub-Function 90 may further comprise actions including the calculation of a number. The calculated number directs the quantity of illuminated accessory display LEDs 42. Under a preferred embodiment, a user will have an allowance of 5 event occurrences, thus 5 illuminated accessory display LEDs 42 at the start of interactive play. As wireless signals are detected, events are triggered, resulting in execution of the Wireless Signal Detection Sub-Function 90. The voice-activated control unit 26 will calculate the quantity of remaining illuminated accessory display LEDs 42, and display the corresponding quantity of illuminated accessory display LEDs 42. If the voice-activated microcontroller 26 does not detect that the interactive accessory is attached, the Wireless Signal Detection Sub-Function will skip the illuminated accessory display LED 42 calculation.

Toy Wand Operating Procedure—Method of Individual Play

The user initiates operation of the voice-activated toy wand 20 by switching the system power switch 34 to allow the flow of electricity from the power source 32 to the voice-activated control unit 26. The user shall speak a command 64 while depressing the input interface switch 36. Depressing the input interface switch 36 activates the microphone 24 connected to the voice-activated control unit 26, permitting said voice-activated control unit 26 to receive and process the spoken command 64. Depressing the input interface switch 36 ensures that the voice-activated control unit 26 receives only the intended spoken command 64, thereby reducing the occurrence of unintended mistaken command recognition resulting in unintended audio output 58 and visual output 60. If the voice-activated control unit 26 recognizes the received spoken command 64, an audible output 58 and visual output 60 unique to said received spoken command 64, shall result.

If the operating mode of the voice-activated control 26 unit has been amended to “individual mode”, output generated in response to a recognized spoken command 64 by the voice-activated control unit 26 may comprise illumination 60 of a plurality of LEDS 38 and output of audible output 58 from the output speaker 22.

Toy Wand Operating Procedure—Method of Interactive Play

The user initiates operation of the voice-activated toy wand 20 by switching the system power switch 34 to allow the flow of electricity from the power source 32 to the voice-activated control unit 26. Under a preferred embodiment, the user initiates interactive play of the voice-activated toy wand 20 by attaching the interactive accessory 30. Depressing the input interface switch 36 activates the microphone 24 connected to the voice-activated control unit 26, thereby permitting said voice-activated control unit 26 to receive and process the spoken command 64. Depressing the input interface switch 36 ensures that the voice-activated control unit 26 receives only the intended spoken command 64, thereby reducing the occurrence of unintended mistaken command recognition resulting in unintended audio output 58 and visual output 60. If the voice-activated control unit 26 recognizes the spoken command 64, an output unique to said spoken command 64 shall result.

If the operating mode of the voice-activated control unit 26 is interactive mode, said voice-activated control unit 26 may produce an output in response to a recognized spoken command 64 further comprising the emission of an IR signal 62 by the interactive accessory IR emitter 72. If the operating mode of the voice-activated control unit 26 is interactive mode, said voice-activated control unit 26 may activate the interactive accessory IR sensor 74. If the interactive accessory IR sensor 74 detects an IR signal 62, the voice-activated control unit 26 may adjust the state of the plurality of interactive accessory display LEDs 42 to display one fewer illuminated LED than was displayed immediately before said IR sensor 74 detected said IR signal 62. The interactive magical play experience continues until the state of the plurality of interactive accessory display LEDs 42 is devoid of illuminated LEDs.

While the present invention has been described in connection with a number of exemplary embodiments and implementations, the present invention is not so limited, but rather covers various modifications, and equivalent arrangements, which fall within the purview of prospective claims.