Title:
Games rewarding systems
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system including provision of predetermined reward points based upon a portion of a player's “entry fee”, wager, play, ticket purchase price, or other such fixed amount for provision to the player separately from credits awarded for game play including a monitor and a button panel, with a card reader, bill-ticket validator and a ticket printer. The monitor displays the game and other information that may include the amount of bet, win, credit, Comps rewarded and Comps balance to show total amounts. The button panel includes display Comps and collect buttons. The card reader is used to transfer credits and reward points. The bill-ticket validator collects money or tickets. The ticket printer prints the credits and reward points. A wager of money, credits, tokens, game score, game value, or equivalents is placed in a first process, and a second process operates a game program in relation to a game activity and game outcome. A third process calculates a reward value as a predetermined portion of the credits wagered, and a fourth process records the reward value issued. A visual display provides the second region on the game machine for presenting the reward value to the user with the user interface. The system may be connected with other systems electronically, which may be connected to a server using a network, etc. Reward points can be withdrawn from the machine and used by the player for rewards, independently or in combination with credits.



Inventors:
Huang, Sming (Monmouth Junction, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/450018
Publication Date:
12/27/2007
Filing Date:
06/09/2006
Assignee:
American Alpha, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20090291750SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR GAME BROKERINGNovember, 2009Herrmann
20050288102Method of enabling electronic devices to play an online game at the same timeDecember, 2005Tsai et al.
20060025217Ergonomically cofigurable video game controllerFebruary, 2006Hussaini et al.
20050064939Electronic mail gaming systemMarch, 2005Mcsheffrey et al.
20050233791System and method for conducting a gameOctober, 2005Kane
20080139267Multi-hand blackjack video gameJune, 2008Jackson
20060189381Collusion detection and controlAugust, 2006Daniel et al.
20080200239Gaming Machine with Non-Credit Based OutcomesAugust, 2008Gilmore et al.
20080300032Golf Solitaire Video GameDecember, 2008Cutter et al.
20100016055Gaming Machine Having Player Selectable VolatilityJanuary, 2010Englman



Primary Examiner:
LEE, WEI
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PERRY HOFFMAN & ASSOCIATES P.C. (DEERFIELD, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An information processing method for a game machine, comprising: a first process for a wager of credits comprising one or more of money, tokens, game score, game value, sweepstakes play, or equivalents and representations thereof to be placed; a second process following the placement of said wager for a game program operating in relation to a game activity and game outcome; a third process for a reward program calculating a reward value as a predetermined portion of the credits wagered; and a fourth process to record the reward value issued by the reward program.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein said third process for a reward program calculating a reward value as a predetermined portion of the credits wagered is independent of the game activity and any outcome of any game activity described in the second process.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein said third process for a reward program calculating a reward value as a predetermined portion of the credits wagered is at least partially dependent on the game activity and/or any outcome of any game activity described in the second process.

4. The method in claim 1 comprising a visual display for presenting the reward value to a user.

5. The method in claim 1 comprising a sensory mechanism including audible, visual or tactile output for presenting the reward value to a user.

6. The method in claim 1 comprising an automatic dispensing of the reward value issued in the form of merchandise or other goods, money, tickets, tokens or representations of value.

7. The method in claim 1 comprising a manually operated dispensing of the reward value issued in the form of merchandise or other goods, money, tickets, tokens or representations of value.

8. The method in claim 1 wherein said first process for a wager of credits and said fourth process providing for receipt of the reward value issued comprises a user interface.

9. The method in claim 8 wherein said user interface comprises a wireless user interface.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein said second process for the game program comprises one or more games of skills and/or games of random chance.

11. The method of claim 1, wherein said third process for a reward program calculating the reward value as a predetermined portion of the wager amount is linked electronically with at least one other information processing game machine system.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein said third process being linked electronically with at least one other information processing game machine system comprises a server to download programs to a client configured information processing game machine system.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein said third process comprises said reward value comprises progressive reward points.

14. The method of claim 1, wherein said third process for a reward program calculating the reward value as a predetermined portion of the wager amount is based on a fixed rate of the wager amount as the reward.

15. The method of claim 1, wherein said third process for a reward program calculating the reward value as a predetermined portion of the wager amount is based on a variable rate of the wager amount as the reward.

16. The method of claim 14, wherein said third process for a reward program calculating the reward value as a predetermined portion of the wager amount is based on the wager amount and the reward value balance.

17. The method of claim 14, wherein said third process for a reward program calculating the reward value as a predetermined portion of the wager amount is based on the wager amount and the number of games played.

18. The method of claim 14, wherein said third process for a reward program calculating the reward value as a predetermined portion of the wager amount is based on the wager amount and the duration of time played.

19. The method of claim 15, wherein the rates can be selected by the machine operation management.

20. A game machine comprising: a collection mechanism for receiving money or credit for operating the game machine; a visual display on the game machine for displaying a first region for displaying a game activity; an information processor operating a first process for a wager of credits comprising one or more of money, tokens, game score, game value, sweepstakes play, or equivalents and representations thereof to be placed; said information processor operating a second process following the placement of said wager for a game program operating in relation to a game activity and game outcome displayed on the first region of the visual display, and a third process for a reward program calculating a reward value as a predetermined portion of the credits wagered; said visual display providing a second region on the game machine for presenting the reward value to a user according to a fourth process to record the reward value issued by the reward program with said information processor; and a user interface providing for receipt or credit of the reward value.

21. The game system of claim 20, wherein said user interface comprises receipt or credit of the reward value or a dispensing output mechanism to dispense the reward value issued in the form of merchandise or other goods, money, tickets, tokens or representations of value.

22. The game system of claim 20, wherein said collection mechanism comprises a collection input device and a ticket printer wherein when the player activates the collect input device, the reward value balance is transferred to the ticket printer to be printed.

23. The game system of claim 20, wherein said collection mechanism comprises a collection input device and a card reader wherein when the player activates the collect input device, the reward value balance is transferred to the card reader.

24. The game system of claim 20, wherein said collection mechanism comprises a collect input device that is only accessible by the machine operation management.

25. The game system of claim 20, wherein said third process for a reward program calculating the reward value as a predetermined portion of the money or credit received is based on a fixed or variable rate of the wager amount as the reward.

26. The game system of claim 25, wherein said third process for a reward program calculating the reward value as a predetermined portion of the money or credit received is based on the wager amount and one or more of the number of games played or the duration of time played.

27. The game system of claim 20, wherein said information processor operating said third process for a reward program calculating the reward value as a predetermined portion of the wager amount is linked electronically with at least one other game system.

28. The game system of claim 27, wherein said information processor operating said third process being linked electronically with at least one other information processing game machine system comprises a server to download programs to a client configured information processing game machine system.

29. The game system of claim 28, wherein said information processor operating said third process comprises progressive reward points.

30. The game system of claim 20, comprising an initial credit deposit mechanism comprising a deposit input device and a card reader for the reward value balance stored in the card being added to the reward value balance of the machine prior to the card insertion with the display of the reward value balance on the visual display being an updated reward value balance.

31. The game system of claim 30, comprising a deposit input device for activation with said initial credit deposit mechanism for at least a portion of the reward value balance stored in the card being added to the reward value balance of the machine for the updated reward value balance.

32. The game system of claim 20, wherein said user interface provides for receipt or credit of the reward value responsive to one or more of the operating management, the player or automatically based on the number of game plays or reward value balance at the completion of the transferring process.

33. The game system in claim 20 comprising a sensory mechanism including audible, visual or tactile output for presenting the reward value to a user.

34. An Intranet or Internet based game system comprising: a visual display of the Internet terminal for displaying a first region for displaying a game activity; an information processor operating a first process for a player wager of credits; said information processor operating a second process for a game program in relation to the game activity displayed on the first region of the visual display; said information processor operating a third process for a reward program calculating a reward value as a predetermined portion of the wager amount; and said visual display providing a second region on the Internet terminal for presenting the reward value to a user.

35. The game system of claim 34, wherein said third process for a reward program calculating the reward value as a predetermined portion of the wager is based on a fixed or variable rate of the wager as the reward.

36. The game system of claim 34, wherein said third process for a reward program calculating the reward value as a predetermined portion of the wager is based on the wager and one or more of the number of games played or the duration of time played.

37. The game system of claim 34, wherein said information processor operating said third process for a reward program calculating the reward value as a predetermined portion of the wager is linked electronically with at least one other game system.

38. The game system of claim 34, comprising a sensory mechanism including audible, visual or tactile output for presenting the reward value to a user.

39. The game system of claim 37, wherein said information processor operating said third process being linked electronically with at least one other information processing game machine system comprises a server to download programs to a client configured information processing game machine system.

40. The game system of claim 39, wherein said information processor operating said third process comprises progressive reward points managed by the server.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to game play rewarding systems and methods, and more particularly to the provision of predetermined reward points based upon a portion of player entry fee, wager or play for provision to the player separately from credits awarded for game play, identified independent of the credits awarded or game outcome.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Traditional gambling games generally include certain versions of slot machines, bingo, keno, blackjack, lottery, roulette, video poker, etc. that operate by chance or partially by chance such that as a result of the play or operation of the devices award credits or free games. Credits allow a player to play games and can be won or lost based upon game play results. The credits can also be redeemed directly for cash.

On the other hand, predetermined reward points, or Comps used interchangeably herein, are awarded to players for every game played regardless of game outcome (win or loss). Sometimes however such Comps or other rewards are not readily observed or observable by players, and thus it would be advantageous to provide a system that rewards players based on Comps while allowing players to realize their Comps balance(s) and see such amounts being earned based on entry fee, wager or play. Accordingly it would be desirable to provide a system that rewards the player with reward points rather than solely outcomes of games, i.e., not paying for outcome uncertainty. To this end, it would be desirable to generate real time Comps earnings balances for viewing and review by players. Further it would be desirable to provide each game played with predetermined reward points that may be stored with the machine. For example, the amount of reward points awarded may be advantageously based upon a portion of the total bets made by the player.

Moreover, with the growing popularity of newer gaming markets such as internet gaming, the need to distinguish games from a product competition and legal operation perspective becomes more important. A game system that rewards players with redeemable Comps separately from credits and displays such Comp earnings balances to the player may have certain marketing and operational advantages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Reward points may be defined, e.g., as a predetermined percentage of an “entry fee”, wager, play, ticket purchase price, or other such fixed amount where players know in advance the reward points in connection with the wager amount and independent of game outcome. Reward points can be withdrawn from the machine and used by the player for rewards, independently or in combination with credits. The amount of reward points earned is based on a portion of the total bet. The amount of reward points may be based on the balance of reward points, the number of games played, the amount of time played, or other factors attributed to the machine being played. Real time feedback of rewards for playing a game machine on a per machine basis thus may be made known to players.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For the purpose of facilitating an understanding of the inventions, the accompanying drawings and description illustrate a preferred embodiment thereof, from which the inventions, structure, construction and operation, and many related advantages may be readily understood and appreciated.

FIGS. 1A-D illustrate game system embodiments for playing card or other games with the provision of predetermined reward points based upon a portion of a player entry fee for provision to the player separately from credits awarded for game play for operating with a ticket printer or a card reader (FIGS. 1A and 1B) or alternatively a hopper or a ticket dispenser (FIGS. 1C and 1D) in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a game system embodied using a networked approach;

FIG. 3 shows an example of a first ticket with reward points;

FIG. 4 illustrates a ticket example that includes a second ticket only showing a credit balance; and

FIG. 5 illustrates a ticket example providing a single ticket with both reward points and credit balance.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The following description is provided to enable those skilled in the art to make and use the described embodiments set forth in the best modes contemplated for carrying out the invention. Various modifications, however, will remain readily apparent to those skilled in the art. Any and all such modifications, equivalents, and alternatives are intended to fall within the spirit and scope of the present invention. According to one embodiment of the invention illustrated in FIGS. 1A-D there is provided a game system 10 that can be employed for the playing of a card game such as blackjack. The system 10 contains a central processing unit, CPU 12 that executes game programs provided with memory devices including read only memory, ROM 14 which stores game programs, and random access memory, RAM 16 for storing game data, with which the processing program are stored for controlling operations of the system 10. As discussed herein, the system 10 alternately may be implemented via connection to a network such as the Internet or other communications and processing. The network interface may be provided as wireless. With the CPU 12 storing the game programs in ROM 14 and game data in RAM 16, the game data may include balances of credits and reward points. The CPU 12 provides an information processor operating a series of processes including a first process for a player entry fee, and a second process for a game program in relation to the game activity displayed on the first region of the visual display of a monitor 18 for displaying a first region for displaying a game activity. The information processor also may operate processes described further below for a reward program calculating a reward value as a predetermined portion of the wager amount, and recording of the reward value issued by the reward program. The CPU 12 information processor is operating an additional process for a reward program calculating a reward value as a predetermined portion of the money or credit received at the collection mechanism, e.g., rewards to the player on a predetermined portion of the bet. As discussed further the additional process is operating independent of the game activity displayed on the monitor 18 for presenting the reward value to a user. In alternate embodiments, reward points may be further determined as at least partially dependent on the game activity and/or an outcome of such game activity, wherein the process for the reward program may be calculated partially dependent on the game outcome of described game activity.

The system 10 of FIGS. 1A-D can include the additional illustrated components, including: the monitor 18 of a terminal device such as a computer, phone device kiosk or the like, a button panel 20, a card reader 22, a bill-ticket validator 24 collection mechanism or the like for receiving money or credit for operating the game machine, and a ticket printer 26 (see, e.g., FIGS. 1A and 1B); or alternatively a hopper 52 or ticket dispenser 54 (see, e.g., FIGS. 1C and 1D) as user interface providing for receipt or credit of the reward value. Thus a player's “entry fee”, wager, play, ticket purchase price or other such fixed amount for provision to the player game play is received via the bill-ticket validator 24 being provided as a collection mechanism for receiving money or credit for operating the game machine of the system 10. Examples of player's “entry fee” as used herein include, but are not intended to be limited to, total or partial bet values, wagers, as well as reward or Comps points and the like used in connection with game play. The monitor 18 displays the game and other information that may include the amount of bet 28, win 30, credit 32, Comps rewarded 34 and Comps balance 36 to show total amounts. The monitor 18 may include a touch screen. The button panel 20 has the following buttons: start 38, bet 40, display Comps 42, help 44 and collect 46. The card reader 22 is used to transfer credits and reward points. The bill-ticket validator 24 collects money or tickets. The ticket printer 26 prints the credits and reward points. System 10 may be connected with other systems 11 electronically, which may be connected to a server 50, e.g., using a network such as the Internet. The described system 10 also may be connected with a Casino server or Intranet configuration linked in accordance with FIG. 2.

With reference to Internet gaming applications of the described system 10, a legal game application may be provided with rewards to players for game playing (use), rather than via speculative outcome of games thus not merely paying for outcome uncertainty, i.e., gambling. To this end, real time earnings balances are generated for viewing and review by players, by providing each game played with predetermined reward points. This may be generated in the Internet environment as well for legal, predetermined exchange. In alternate embodiments, reward points may be further determined as at least partially dependent on the game activity and/or an outcome of such game activity, wherein the process for the reward program may be calculated partially dependent on the game outcome of described game activity.

The system tracks the balances of both credits and reward points in the machine. Each time a game is played, some reward points will be stored in the system 10 random access memory, RAM 16 for storing reward amounts. The amount of reward points awarded is based upon a portion of the total bets made by the player. The wager or play of credits include value for wager or an initial conversion into credits and may include one or more of money, tokens, game score, game value, sweepstakes play, or equivalents and representations thereof to be placed. The initial conversion into credits may be provided in connection, e.g., with sweepstakes plays for use thereafter as the wager of credit. Thus sweepstakes plays or chances may be converted into credits prior to game play. In addition, the total wager value may include the bets made during bonus games. The bet or wager can include the bonus game as part of the game activity. Thus the wager could include a double up, free bet, free play or the like to allow the players to wager their winnings. The reward also may be provided cumulatively with the reward value as a predetermined portion of the money or credit received based on the money or credit received and the reward value balance, with wagers relating to bonus games. The bets in bonus games may or may not be subtracted from the credit like regular games. Real time feedback of rewards for playing a game machine of system 10, on a per machine basis, thus may be made known to players. The amount of reward points may be based on the balance of reward points or other factors attributed to the machine being played such as a portion of the bet and the number of games played, or the duration of time played. The reward program also may calculate cumulatively with the reward value as a predetermined portion of the money or credit received based on the money or credit received and the reward value balance.

The defined system tracks the balances of both credits and reward points for each machine. Credits are defined to allow a player to play games and can be won or lost based upon game play results. In the preferred embodiment, reward points are awarded to the player for every game played with credits, regardless of the outcome (win or loss). In alternate embodiments, reward points may be further determined as at least partially dependent on the game activity and/or an outcome of such game activity, wherein the process for the reward program may be calculated partially dependent on the game outcome of described game activity. Reward points can be withdrawn from the player's account and used by the player for goods or services. Each time a game is played, some reward points will be added into the player's account. The amount of reward points awarded is based upon a portion of the total bets made by the player. Comps or other such rewards are provided as readily observable by players, thus rewarding players based on Comps while allowing players to look at their Comps or reward value balances and see such amounts being earned based on entry fee, wager or play. As described, predetermined reward points are based upon a portion of a player's “entry fee”, wager, play, ticket purchase price, or other such fixed amount for provision to the player separately from credits awarded for game play including a monitor and a button panel, with a card reader, bill-ticket validator and a ticket printer. The monitor displays the game and other information that may include the amount of bet, win, credit, Comps rewarded and Comps balance to show total amounts. The button panel includes display Comps and collect buttons. The card reader is used to transfer credits and reward points. The bill-ticket validator collects money or tickets. The ticket printer prints the credits and reward points. A wager of money, credits, tokens, game score, game value, or equivalents is placed in a first process, and a further process operates a game program in relation to a game activity and game outcome and independently calculates a reward value as a predetermined portion of the amount played. Accordingly the system 10 rewards the player with reward points rather than solely outcomes of games and not merely paying for outcome uncertainty or gambling. To this end, real time earnings balances are generated for viewing and review by players, by providing each game played with predetermined reward points that may be stored with the machine.

The information processing method for a game machine thus receives money or credit for operating the game machine, and displaying a game activity in a first region of a visual display of the game machine. A first process for a game program operates in relation to the game activity displayed on the first region of the visual display, with the first process for a wager (“Wager”) of money, credits, tokens, game score, game value, or equivalents and representations thereof (herein “Credits”) to be placed. A second process is provided following the placement of the wager for a game program operating in relation to a game activity and game outcome. The second process independently calculates the reward value as a predetermined portion of the amount played. The second process is operating independent of the game activity displayed on the first region of the visual display. A third process for the reward program calculates a reward value as a predetermined portion of the credits wagered. In the preferred embodiments described, the third process for the reward program is provided as completely independent of the game activity and any outcome of any game activity described. Alternately this may be determined partially dependent on the game activity and/or any outcome of any game activity described in the second process. The rates can be selected by the machine operation management personnel.

A fourth process is provided to record the reward value issued by the reward program. The visual display provides the second region on the game machine for presenting the reward value to a user, and the system 10 in accordance with the described methods provides for receipt or credit of the reward value with the user interface. The user interface may be provided as wireless. Alternately a sensory or tactile mechanism may be provided for presenting the reward value to a user visually, audibly or through olfactory senses and the like.

With reference to FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, and particular FIG. 3 an example secure ticket printed by the game system 10 is shown. The example ticket of FIG. 3 has a ticket ID of 7000-11669-2425-17662. When the game system 10 prints the ticket, the system 10 generates a record with the ticket ID and all of the information printed on the ticket in the record. The information includes the reward point amount, the time of the ticket printed and location of the game system. For example, the above ticket was printed at 14:11:00 on Oct. 13th, 2005. If the game system is electronically linked with a server, the record will be passed and stored in the server. When the player goes to a reward redemption kiosk to redeem the ticket, the kiosk will scan in the bar code which is the ticket ID. The kiosk will transmit the ticket ID to the server to be authenticated. By checking the information from the game system and the information from the redemption kiosk, the server can determinate whether the ticket is authentic or not.

FIG. 4 illustrates a ticket example that includes a second ticket only showing a credit balance for use with the ticket of FIG. 3. Further FIG. 5 illustrates a ticket example providing a single ticket with both reward points and credit balance. Various options of secure ticket printing may be employed such as the described three different ways to print tickets, including: One ticket with reward points as shown in FIG. 3; Two tickets: One ticket with reward points and one ticket with credit balance as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4; or One ticket with both reward points and credit balance as shown in FIG. 5.

With reference to Table 1 below, the game method is considered to include a collect input device, such as a card reader to transfer the Comps balance which rewards the player based on a portion of the bet, including both games of skills and games of random chances. The player activates the collect input device and a transferred reward value balance is added to the reward value balance of the machine prior to the card insertion with the display of the reward value balance on the visual display, as an updated reward value balance at the completion of the transferring process. When the player activates the collect input device, the Comps balance will be transferred to a ticket printer to be printed and the display of the Comps balance on the screen will be reset. The Comps balance in a card will be transferred to the machine when the card is inserted into the machine. The transferred Comps balance will be added into the Comps balance of the machine prior to the card insertion. The machine will display the new Comps balance at the completion of the transferring process.

TABLE 1
Comp balanceComp balance
Player's actionComp grantedof the machineof the card
010
Insert the card100
into the machine
Play game #12120
Play game #23150
Play game #31160
Press016
COLLECT
button
Remove the016
card from the
machine

The collect input device may be provided as only accessible by the machine operation owner. Additionally, the rates may be selectable by the machine operation owner. With reference to Table 2 below, the game method is considered to include a collect input device, such as a card reader to transfer the Comps balance which rewards the player based on a portion of the bet, including both games of skills and games of random chances. The collection mechanism herein includes the collect input device with the transferred reward value balance being added to the reward value balance of the card prior to the card insertion. The Comps balance in a card will not be transferred to the machine when the card is inserted into the machine. When the player activates the collect input device, the Comps balance of the machine will be transferred to the card. The transferred Comps balance will be added into the Comps balance of the card.

TABLE 2
Comp balanceComp balance
Player's actionComp grantedof the machineof the card
010
Insert the card010
into the machine
Play game #12210
Play game #23510
Play game #31610
Press016
COLLECT
button
Remove the016
card from the
machine

EXAMPLES OF GAME RULES

Example 1

Reward Points are Based on a Fixed Percentage of the Bet

CreditsRewardCreditsRewardReward
balanceBet per% ofbalancepointspoints
Games(Begin)gamebetWin(End)grantedbalance
1200100215025022
2250150220030035
330020025015049
4150150200312

Let's assume that reward points are 2% of the bet. A player starts with 200 credits. The player bets 100 credits and wins 150 credits in game 1. The player receives 100*0.02=2 reward points. In game 2, the player bets 150 credits and wins 200 credits. The player receives additional 3 reward points in game 2 because 150*0.02=3. At the end of game 4, the player has 0 credits and 12 reward points.

Example 2

Reward Points are Based on a Variable Percentage of the Bet

CreditsRewardCreditsRewardReward
balanceBet per% ofbalancepointspoints
Games(Begin)gamebetWin(End)grantedbalance
1200100115025011
2250150210020034
32002003150150610
4150150200313

Let's assume that reward points are 1% of the bet if the bet is 100 or less. Reward points are 2% of the bet if the bet is more than 100 but less than 200. Reward points are 3% of the bet if the bet is 200 or more. A player starts with 200 credits. The player bets 100 credits and wins 150 credits in game 1. The player receives 100*0.01=1 reward point. In game 2, the player bets 150 credits and wins 100 credits. The player receives additional 3 reward points in game 2 because 150*0.02=3. At the end of game 4, the player has 0 credits and 13 reward points. Additionally the system and method may employ progressive reward points.

From the foregoing, it can be seen that there has been provided features for improved game rewarding systems and methods. While a particular embodiment of the present invention has been shown and described, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made without departing from the invention in its broader aspects. Therefore, the aim is to cover all such changes and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention. The matter set forth in the foregoing description and accompanying drawings is offered by way of illustration only and not as a limitation. The actual scope of the invention is intended to be defined by subsequent claims when viewed in their proper perspective based on the prior art.