Title:
INTERACTIVE RESPONSE SYSTEM FOR A FIGURE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is to an interactive response system for a figure. The figure includes a first portion that includes mechanisms for mechanical movement such as the movement of arms, head and legs. A second portion, which may be removably attached, includes various electronics. In response to a user's input or a preprogrammed play routine, or in response to sounds, the figure will responds with various movement and audio content.



Inventors:
Rehkemper, Steven (Chicago, IL, US)
Kim, Daniel (Chicago, IL, US)
Swanson, Ronald (Shorewood, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/752523
Publication Date:
01/31/2008
Filing Date:
05/23/2007
Assignee:
REHCO, LLC (Chicago, IL, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
446/338
International Classes:
A63H3/36; A63H3/28
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLINSKI, ALYSSA MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ADAM K. SACHAROFF (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An interactive response system comprising: a figure containing: a means for triggering movement in the figure; a movable head connected to the figure and having a mouth pivotally connected to the head; a jaw mechanism in communication with said triggering means and linked to control movement of said mouth, such that the mouth moves in response to a first activation of said triggering means; a head pivot mechanism in communication with said triggering means and linked to control movement of the head, such that the head moves in response to a second activation of said triggering means; and a removable electronics housing positioned externally from the figure, the electronics housing containing at least a power supply and a processor for the receipt of signals generated in response to an activation of said triggering means and for controlling the movement of the figure in response to said signals, the removable electronics having a housing connector used to electronically connect to a figure connector defined on the figure.

2. The interactive response system of claim 1, wherein said processor in said removable electronics housing further includes the transfer of audio signals to a speaker in response to said activation of said triggering means.

3. The interactive figure of claim 1, wherein an activation of said triggering means includes a user moving an appendage of said figure.

4. The interactive response system of claim 1, wherein said jaw mechanism defined by the figure further comprises: a movable jaw defined in the mouth; a jaw servo in communication with a power source for operation; a jaw pin that rotatably secures said jaw servo to a jaw servo arm and further directs movement of said jaw servo arm when said jaw servo receives power and a control signal; and a jaw linkage operatively connecting said movable jaw and said jaw servo arm to transfer power from said jaw servo arm to said movable jaw such that said movable jaw will open and close in accordance to said interactive response system.

5. The interactive figure of claim 1, wherein said head is a flexible material and said mouth is defined by said jaw mechanism, whereby said flexible material enables said movable jaw to define the exterior shape of said mouth such that opening and closing of the movable jaw gives the appearance of said figure speaking or singing.

6. The interactive response system of claim 1 wherein said head pivot mechanism defined by the figure comprises: a head servo in communication with a power source for operation; a head linkage operatively connecting a head servo arm and a head pivot; a head pin extending from said head servo to securely connect said head servo to said figure where said head pin further directs said head servo arm to move based on power and control signals received by said head servo, wherein said head linkage transfers movement of said head servo arm to said head pivot; and the head secured to said head pivot such that said head pivot and head move from side to side in accordance to direction from said interactive response system.

7. The interactive figure of claim 1, wherein said triggering means includes a third activation to simultaneously direct movement of said jaw mechanism and said head pivot mechanism.

8. The interactive figure of claim 1, wherein said triggering means includes means to respond and trigger movement based on preprogramming, audio content, or user input.

9. An interactive response system for animating movements of a mouth and head on a toy figure, said interactive response system comprising: a processor that facilitates the operation of programs and access of data and content stored on a memory; at least one switch whereby upon triggering said switch, a signal is sent to said processor to direct said processor to access content based on a program and/or in accordance to said signal received from said switch wherein said processor generates a response relating to a jaw mechanism and/or a head pivot mechanism; and wherein said response includes a means to move said jaw mechanism and/or said head pivot mechanism based on content, preprogrammed signals, and/or a user's input.

10. The interactive response system of claim 9, wherein said jaw mechanism further comprises: a movable jaw; a jaw servo in communication with a power source for operation; a jaw pin that rotatably secures said jaw servo to a jaw servo arm and further directs movement of said jaw servo arm when said jaw servo receives power and a control signal; and a jaw linkage operatively connecting said movable jaw and said jaw servo arm to transfer power from said jaw servo arm to said movable jaw such that said movable jaw will open and close in accordance to said interactive response system.

11. The interactive response system of claim 10, wherein said head is a flexible material and said mouth is defined by said jaw mechanism, whereby said flexible material enables said movable jaw to define the exterior shape of said mouth portion of the head cavity such that opening and closing of the movable jaw gives the appearance of said figure speaking or singing.

12. The interactive response system of claim 11, wherein said activation of said jaw mechanism animates said mouth in combination with audio content to simulate speech and/or signing.

13. The interactive response system of claim 10, wherein said head pivot mechanism comprises: a head servo in communication with a power source for operation; a head linkage operatively connecting a head servo arm and a head pivot; a head pin extending from said head servo to securely connect said head servo to said figure where said head pin further directs said head servo arm to move based on power and control signals received by said head servo, wherein said head linkage transfers movement of said head servo arm to said head pivot; and said head secured to said head pivot such that said head pivot and head move from side to side in accordance to direction from said interactive response system.

14. The interactive response system of claim 13, further comprising a means to operably connect to an external media device, whereby said means to operably connect enables the transfer of additional audio content from said external media device to said toy figure for play in accordance therewith.

15. The interactive response system of claim 1, wherein the removable electronics housing is shaped as a stand and has a base for supporting the figure in a standing position and an arm extending upwardly therefrom, an end of the arm includes the housing connector for electronically connecting the removable electronics housing to the figure.

16. The interactive response system of claim 1, wherein the removable electronics housing is shaped as a chair with an extended base for supporting the figure in a seated position and a backing for supporting the torso of the figure, the backing defined to include the housing connector for electronically connecting the removable electronics housing to the figure.

17. The interactive response system of claim 1, wherein the removable electronics housing is shaped as a backpack and includes a pair of straps for securing around the arms of the figure and includes a portion that is positioned against the torso of the figure wherein the portion of the backpack includes the housing connector for electronically connecting the removable electronics housing to the figure.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present invention claims priority to provisional U.S. Application No. 60/803,720, filed on Jun. 2, 2006 entitled “Interactive Response for a Figure.”

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an interactive response system including a figure having electronically controlled mechanical movements of both the mouth and head, responsive to electronic music, speech and other switch inputs.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Animated dolls are popular toys for children and improving the interaction between a doll and child to resemble a more life-like interaction is desired by those in the industry. Miniaturization of electronic circuitry has enabled the incorporation of electrical components to be included in the interior of a doll. Those concerned with the development of animated dolls desire improvements in the coordinated movement of legs, arms, hands, etc. along with the addition of music and sound effects. Further, numerous mechanisms have been devised to animate different facial features. Examples of various, interactive dolls are found in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,776,681, 4,923,428, and 4,900,289.

The present invention includes improvements in the animation and child interaction with dolls by addressing the shortcomings in the prior art due to size constraints while providing an interactive response system for use in a toy figure that creates a life-like interaction utilizing mechanical animation, electrical direction and sound to enhance a child's play experience.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, there is provided in one embodiment an interactive response system that includes a figure, a means for triggering movement in the figure, a movable head connected to the figure and having a mouth pivotally connected to the head. The interactive response system includes a jaw mechanism in communication with the triggering means to control movement of the mouth in response to a first activation of the triggering means, and a head pivot mechanism in communication with the triggering means to control movement of the head in response to a second activation of the triggering means. A removable electronics housing is positioned externally from the figure and includes a power supply, a processor for the receipt of signals generated in response to an activation of the triggering means and including a housing connector to electronically connect to a figure connector defined on the figure. The processor may also transfer audio signals to a speaker in response to the activation of the triggering means.

The jaw mechanism includes a movable jaw, a jaw servo in communication with a power source for operation, a jaw pin that rotatably secures the jaw servo to a jaw servo arm and directs movement of the jaw servo arm when the jaw servo receives power and a control signal. A jaw linkage operatively connects the movable jaw and the jaw servo arm to transfer power from the jaw servo to the movable jaw, such that the movable jaw will open and close in accordance to the interactive response system.

The head pivot mechanism includes a head servo in communication with a power source for operation, a head linkage operatively connecting the head servo arm to a head pivot, a head pin to connect the head servo to the figure and to direct the head servo arm to move based on power and control signals received by the head servo, and the head linkage transfers movement of the head servo arm to the head pivot. Further, the head is secured to the head pivot such that the head pivot and head move from side to side in accordance to direction from the interactive response system.

In another embodiment of the present invention, an interactive response system for animating movements of a mouth and head on a toy figure includes a processor that facilitates the operation of programs and access of data and content stored on a memory, at least one switch which, when triggered, sends a signal to the processor to direct the processor to access content based on a program and/or in accordance to the signal where the processor generates a response relating to the jaw mechanism and/or head pivot mechanism. The head may also be made of a flexible material, where the mouth is defined by the jaw mechanism. The flexible material enables the movable jaw to define the exterior shape of the mouth portion of the head cavity such that a response animates the figure and gives the appearance of the figure speaking or singing when combined with audio content played through a speaker. A means to operably connect to an external media device provides a user with the option of transferring additional audio content to the toy figure for play in accordance therewith.

Numerous other advantages and features of the invention will become readily apparent from the following detailed description of the invention and the embodiments thereof, from the claims, and from the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A fuller understanding of the foregoing may be had by reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1a is a front view of the internal components of a figure for an interactive response system in accordance with an embodiment for an interactive response system;

FIG. 1b is a front view of the internal components of an electronics housing in accordance with an embodiment for an interactive response system;

FIG. 2a is an illustrative view of the electronics housing defined in a stand in accordance with an embodiment for an interactive response system;

FIG. 2b is an illustrative view of the electronics housing defined in a chair in accordance with an embodiment for an interactive response system;

FIG. 2c is an illustrative view of the electronics housing defined in a backpack in accordance with an embodiment for an interactive response system;

FIG. 3 is a rear view of the internal components of the figure from FIG. 1a with the torso cavity cut away;

FIG. 4 is a rear view of the internal components of the figure from FIG. 1a with the torso cavity cut away and a portion of the head cavity cut away;

FIG. 5a is a rear view of the movable jaw mechanism and the head pivot mechanism;

FIG. 5b is a front view of the movable jaw mechanism and the head pivot mechanism;

FIG. 6a is a side view of the figure from FIG. 1a where the jaw is in the closed position;

FIG. 6b is a side view of the figure from FIG. 1a where the jaw is in the open position;

FIG. 7a is a rear left view of the internal components of the figure from FIG. 1a with a portion of the torso cavity cut away when both arms are in the resting position;

FIG. 7b is a rear view of the internal components of the figure from FIG. 1a with a portion of the torso cavity cut away when the left arm is in the raised position illustrating the left arm cam triggering the head switch;

FIG. 7c is a rear right view of the internal components of the figure from FIG. 1a with a portion of the torso cavity cut away when both arms in the resting position;

FIG. 7d is a rear right view of the internal components of the figure from FIG. 1a with a portion of the torso cavity cut away when the right arm is in the raised position illustrating the right arm cam triggering the jaw switch;

FIG. 8a is a rear view of the figure from FIG. 1a where the head cavity is tilted to the right;

FIG. 8b is a rear view of the figure from FIG. 1a where the head cavity is positioned at rest;

FIG. 8c is a rear view of the figure from FIG. 1a where the head cavity is tilted to the left;

FIG. 9 is a block diagram of an interactive response system for an embodiment in accordance with the invention;

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

While the invention is susceptible to embodiments in many different forms, there are shown in the drawings and will described herein, in detail, the preferred embodiments of the present invention. It should be understood, however, that the present disclosure is to be considered an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the spirit or scope of the invention and/or claims of the embodiments illustrated.

Referring now to FIGS. 1a and 1b, in accordance to a first embodiment, there is illustrated an interactive response system 1 that includes a figure 10 that further includes a head 12, a torso 14 and a removable electronics housing 16. The size, shape or styling of the figure 10 is not critical to the present invention. As such, virtually any figure, doll or character may be used without deviating from the spirit of the invention as the outside appearance of figure 10 is not meant to limit the scope of the invention.

Further, the size, shape or styling of the electronics housing 16 is not critical to the present invention. The electronics housing 16 may be in the form of a stand or chair to support figure 10, a backpack, or any number of forms. For example, see FIGS. 2a, 2b and 2c. As such, the electronics housing 16 may have virtually any form without deviating from the spirit of the invention as the outside appearance of electronics housing 16 is not meant to limit the scope of the invention.

Continuing to refer to FIGS. 1a and 1b the figure 10 is connected to the electronics housing 16 by an electrical connection that permits the transfer of power and information. The electrical connection is shown as a female connection 33 on the lower portion of the torso 14 which mates with a male connection 32 on the electronics housing 16. The electrical connection may take on various forms or locations (as shown in FIGS. 2a through 2c) and is only shown here as a simple embodiment of well known female/male connection.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1a and 3 the head 12 is secured to a head pivot 18. As mentioned above, the shape of the head can take on many forms, such as a doll's head, an animal's head, or a character's head. Preferably, the head 12 is made of a flexible and durable material. The head 12 acts as a flexible shell and houses a jaw mechanism 19. The jaw mechanism 19 further includes a movable jaw 20, a jaw servo 22, jaw linkage 27 and a jaw servo arm 24 as shown in FIGS. 1, 4, 5a and 5b. The jaw servo 22 is in communication with a power source 26 (shown in FIG. 1b and described below), such that power can be directed to activate the jaw servo 22. The jaw servo 22 is a servo widely available and known in the art, such that further reference is not needed. A pin 25 is provided to secure the jaw servo 22 to the jaw servo arm 24, such that when the jaw servo 22 receives power and a control signal, it directs the movement of the jaw servo arm 24. This movement is transferred to the movable jaw 20 via jaw linkage 27 from the jaw servo arm 24. As such, based on a user's input or preprogrammed response, the movable jaw 20 will open and close as shown in FIGS. 6a and 6b. Though the movable jaw 20 is housed within the head 12, the flexible material of the head 12 enables the movable jaw 20 to define the exterior shape of the mouth portion of the head 12. Thus, the opening and closing of the movable jaw 20 gives the appearance of the figure 10 speaking or singing when coupled with the sound emitting from the speaker 28 (shown in FIG. 1b and described below).

Housed within the torso 14 are at least two switches, two arm cams, and a portion of a head pivot mechanism 35 as illustrated in FIGS. 3-5b and 7a-7d. The head pivot mechanism 35 includes a head servo 34, a head servo arm 36, a head linkage 38 and a head pivot 18.

The head servo 34 is in communication with a power source 26, such that power can be directed to activate the head servo 34. A pin 37 is included on the head servo 34 and extends therefrom to securely connect the head servo 34 to the Figure 10. When the head servo 34 receives power and a control signal, it directs the movement of the pin 37, which in turn directs the head servo arm 36 to move. This movement is transferred to the head pivot 18 via the head linkage 38 that operatively connects the head servo arm 36 and the head pivot 18. The head cavity 12 is secured to the head pivot 18, as such, based on a user's input or preprogrammed response, the head pivot 18 and head cavity 12 attached thereto will move from side to side as illustrated in FIGS. 8a-8c.

In the first embodiment, the interactive response system 1 includes a means for triggering movement in the figure 10 based on preprogrammed signals, user's input signals, and/or audio content. An example of the triggered movement includes the jaw and head movement described above.

The removable electronics housing includes an integrated circuit (IC) (described below) that accesses the preprogrammed signals or audio content stored on a memory in the electronics housing or that is stored on an cartridge 40 or an expandable storage medium that simply connects with the electronics housing 16 via an operable connection. Such expandable storage mediums may include but are not limited to a digital music player (IPOD MP3 player, CD players, stereo, etc.). To facilitate this operable connection, the electronics housing 16 includes a slot 41 with a connector 66 to accept a connector 68 included on the cartridge 40 as seen in FIGS. 1b and 2a-2c. This operable connection enables signals, information and audio content to transfer freely between the electronics housing and the cartridge. For example, if a digital music player is attached, it is possible to control the player from the external control buttons (not shown) on the electronics housing.

The audio content may be converted into any type of signal or format needed for playing or transferring the audio content to the speaker, such as but not limited to digital, analog, wav, etc.

As mentioned the interactive response system 1 responds and triggers movement based on the preprogramming, audio content, or input's enabling a user to interact with the figure 10 in a variety of different capacities. For example of a user's input, the user is able to move left arm 42 from a resting position to a raised position as seen in FIGS. 7a and 7b, respectively, triggering head switch 46 and generates a control signal. This control signal is transferred through the interactive response system (as described below) to direct the head servo housed within figure 10 to activate. In this example, the head servo 34 receives the generated control signal and drives the head pivot 18 and head 12 to move from side to side, as illustrated in FIGS. 8a-8c, in response to the initial triggering and generated control signal. In addition, the control signal may be used to activate other preprogrammed responses and stored audio content for the playback of other movements and the playback of the audio content.

Further and in a second example of a user's input, by moving right arm 47 from a resting position to a raised position as seen in FIGS. 7c and 7d, respectively, right arm cam 49 triggers jaw switch 51 and generates a control signal. This signal is transferred through the interactive response system (as described below) to direct the jaw servo housed within figure 10 to activate. In this example, the jaw servo 22 receives the generated control signal and drives the movable jaw 20 to open and close, as illustrated in FIGS. 6a and 6b, in response to the initial triggering and generated control signal. In addition, the generated control signal may trigger other preprogrammed responses and the playback of audio content (that is either stored within the electronics housing or received externally.

Referring now to FIG. 9, there is shown a block diagram provided for the first embodiment of the interactive response system 1. The electronics housing 16 communicates with the figure 10 via a communication means 50. Utilizing the communication means 50, power and data 52 (such as preprogrammed audio content, preprogrammed responses and/or generated signals, etc.) can travel between the electronics housing 16 and the figure 10. The power is obtained through a power source 26, while the data is obtained from a processor(s) 54. The processor(s) 54 is designed to run the program(s) stored on an internal memory 56 or an external memory 70 to the IC 48. For example, in this first embodiment, the processor(s) can access the audio content included on the external memory 70 contained on the cartridge 40. In another embodiment (as described below), the memory, with audio content, can be contained in the IC 48.

Head switch 46 and jaw switch 51 receive control signals (either generated or preprogrammed) through the communication means 50. Communication means 50 includes input/output 58 included in figure 10 and input/output 60 included in electronics housing 16 such that signals can be freely transferred between the figure 10 and the electronics housing 16. Both input/outputs can take on many forms such as a connector well known in the art that has the capability to transfer and receive several individual signals. When head switch 46 or jaw switch 51 are triggered, a signal 64 is sent via communication means 50 to the IC 48 included in electronics housing 16. The IC 48 contains the processor(s) 54 and may include memory 56. As previously mentioned, the memory 70 may also be included in the cartridge 40. The IC 48 receives signals from head switch 46 or jaw switch 51. The IC 48 further includes programming and electronic components to facilitate and direct audio content, control signals and data within interactive response system 1. The IC is also in communication with the power source 26, a speaker 28 and a connector 66. The IC 48 is further in communication with a cartridge 40, or other expandable storage medium, via an operable connection 69 between connector 66 included in the electronics housing, and connector 68 included in the cartridge 40. This cartridge 40 or expandable storage medium could provide a very expansive library of entertainment services such as games, music, information, etc.

The cartridge includes a memory 70 that contains content when the IC 48 utilizes external memory. The processor(s) 54 in the IC 48 accesses the content based on a program and/or in accordance to the generated control signals received from the switches. The processor(s) 54 then generates a response that includes signals and may be in the form of audio or control signals. From the processor(s) 54, audio signals are transferred to the speaker 28 while control signals are transferred to the figure 10 via communication means 50. Input/output 58 then directs the control signals to head servo 34 or jaw servo 22. The control signals are transferred to the servos and direct the servos to power in a desired direction, based on a program and/or in accordance a user's input or preprogrammed response.

One illustrative example can be described in the following “play pattern.” Power button 72 is pressed to activate the interactive response system 1. Once the power button 72 is pressed, an audio sound, such as a cell phone ring, emits from the speaker 28, prompting the user to move figure 10's left arm 42 from the rest position to the raised position, placing a device, such as a toy cell phone (not shown), to the figure 10's ear. Raising the arm triggers the head switch 46, and sends a signal to the processor(s) 54. The processor(s) 54 than accesses the content to retrieve audio data, which it then transfers to the speaker 28. Here, the processor(s) 54 may transfer audio data, such as a phrase “Hello? Hi, Mindy,” to the speaker 28 while the figure 10 moves its head cavity 12 and movable jaw 20 appropriately. There is a virtually unlimited amount of play patterns that can be included in the content. The example above is meant to be but one of the many and is not meant to limit the invention in any manner.

A second example can include having preprogrammed audio content and preprogrammed responses stored in the electronics housing. The user may either press the power button or move one of the arms of the figure to trigger the preprogrammed responses and audio content. The figure in response can move its head and jaw to mimic singing and talking. This in further combination with a toy microphone can further mimic singing, talking as if to a crowd or in public speaking.

It should be further contemplated that the electronics housing may form a part of the Figure 10 such that separate parts are not needed.

It is also contemplated that the figure may have necessary speech, voice and/or sound recognition software and receivers. The programming would be designed to trigger mechanical and/or audio content responses to the received speech, voice, or sound. Moreover, the triggered responses can be specifically tailored to respond to certain commands, sounds, or someone voice such that the figure appears to have intelligent responses.

From the foregoing and as mentioned above, it will be observed that numerous variations and modifications may be effected without departing from the spirit and scope of the novel concept of the invention. It is to be understood that no limitation with respect to the specific methods and apparatus illustrated herein is intended or should be inferred.