Title:
GAME APPARATUS FOR PLAYING AN ENHANCED GAME OF HIDE AND SEEK
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A game apparatus for players desiring to play an enhanced game of hide and seek, comprising: an electronic seeker unit and a plurality of portable target units for generating wireless signals. The electronic seeker unit includes: a memory configured to store sets of questions configured to be answerable by players having different levels of skill or intelligence, at least one input device and at least one output device, a first processor, and a first communication element. The first processor is operatively coupled to the memory and configured to present different sets of questions corresponding to the skill levels of each player via the at least one output device during a game of hide and seek. The first communication element is operably coupled to the first processor and the first communication element is adapted to receive output signals from the plurality of portable target units.



Inventors:
Somuah, Eddie (Milford, CT, US)
Application Number:
11/533441
Publication Date:
03/20/2008
Filing Date:
09/20/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
D'AGOSTINO, PAUL ANTHONY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
IP Law Leaders PLLC (PLG) (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A game apparatus for players desiring to play an enhanced game of hide and seek, comprising: an electronic seeker unit, said seeker unit being configured to provide each player with a player experience corresponding to the level of skill or intelligence of each player, said electronic seeker unit comprising: a first memory configured to store sets of questions, each of the sets of questions being configured to be answerable by players having different levels of skill or intelligence, wherein said first memory is further configured to store a hide and seek algorithm, a first power supply, at least one input device, at least one output device, a first processor operatively coupled to said first memory, wherein said first processor operates in response to said hide and seek algorithm, wherein said first processor is configured to present the different sets of questions via said at least one output device during a game of hide and seek, and wherein said first processor receives responses to the questions via said at least one input device and outputs responses via said at least one output device; a first communication element, wherein said first communication element is operably coupled to said first processor; and a plurality of portable target units each capable of generating wireless output signals and wherein at least one of said target units is adapted for being carried by a corresponding number of players in hiding, wherein each target unit includes a second power supply, wherein said first communication element is adapted to receive output signals from said plurality of portable target units.

2. The game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said sets of questions include sets of self-authored questions.

3. The game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said sets of questions include sets of other-authored questions.

4. The game apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said hide and seek algorithm allows a seeker player (SP) to request ad hoc questions from said seeker unit such that if the ad hoc questions are answered correctly said seeker unit provides direction information to one or more target units.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a game apparatus for players desiring to play an enhanced game of hide and seek. The invention caters to different skill levels among the players such that participants having different skill levels can competitively play the game.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The game of hide and seek is a well-known game played by children and sometimes with adults in conjunction with children. The typical game of hide and seek requires at least two participants with one participant being the seeker and the other participant(s) hiding so the seeker cannot easily find them. Typically, the seeker will cover his or her eyes to give the other participants a chance to hide. Once the allotted time has gone by for the others to hide, the seeker will begin seeking out the other participants. When the seeker is able to find and touch another participant that participant becomes the next seeker and the game is repeated.

The repetitive nature of the traditional hide and seek game can turn children off to playing the game. In addition, parents want to see their children get as much benefit as possible from game playing. Children of different ages and educational levels often participate in the same game of hide and seek. Thus, there is a need for a hide and seek game that incorporates an educational element and which caters to different ages and/or education levels among the participants such that the enhanced hide and seek game can be competitively played by participants having different skill levels.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,494,457, issued Dec. 17, 2002 to Conte et al., describes an enhanced game of hide and seek where the game participant searches for a hidden object having a transmitter device inside or attached to the object. The game participant utilizes a seeker unit that determines the distance between the object and the participant before and after the participant moves. The seeker unit uses that information to determine whether the participant is moving closer to or further away from the object and then communicates useful information to the game participant to assist the participant in finding the object. The participant interacts with the seeker unit to use and develop his or her logical reasoning skills in searching for the hidden object. The object can be a doll, stuffed animal, toy or any variety of other objects suitable for hiding and fun for finding.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,961,575, issued Oct. 9, 1990 to Perry, describes an apparatus for playing hide and seek. The '575 apparatus is described as comprising a plurality of portable units adapted for being carried by a corresponding number of individuals in hiding, for generating respective output signals each contributing to an output signal field in the vicinity of the individuals in hiding, and a further portable unit adapted for being carried by a further individual seeking to locate the individuals in hiding, the further portable unit including circuitry for measuring field strength of the output signal field and in response generating a further signal representative of relative proximity to respective ones of the individuals in hiding, whereby generation of the further signal assists the further individual in locating the individuals in hiding. The portable hider units also include a selective cloaking feature.

U.S. Publication No. 20050170873, published Aug. 4, 2005 to Fishbach et al., describes an electronic device for use by users having different levels of skill or intelligence includes a memory configured to store sets of questions, each of the sets of questions being configured to be answerable by the users having different levels of skill or intelligence; and a processor operatively coupled to the memory and configured to present the different sets of questions to the different users having different levels of skill or intelligence during a game in which the different users compete against each other.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A game apparatus for players desiring to play an enhanced game of hide and seek, comprising: an electronic seeker unit and a plurality of portable target units for generating wireless signals. The electronic seeker unit includes: a memory configured to store sets of questions configured to be answerable by players having different levels of skill or intelligence, at least one input device and at least one output device, a first processor, and a first communication element. The first processor is operatively coupled to the memory and configured to present different sets of questions corresponding to the skill levels of each player via the at least one output device during a game of hide and seek. The first communication element is operably coupled to the first processor and the first communication element is adapted to receive output signals from the plurality of portable target units. The target units may comprise a target communication element such as an RF signal transmitter or transceiver, an ultrasound transmitter or transducer with the first communication element in the seeker unit respectively incorporating complementary technology, e.g., the first communication element might be an RF transceiver if the target unit comprised an RF transceiver.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an environmental, perspective view of an enhanced game of hide and seek according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a circuit of a seeker unit according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 shows a high-level flow chart having steps for the operation of the enhanced game of hide and seek according to the present invention.

FIG. 4 shows a target unit fashioned into a bracelet shape according to the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram of a circuit of a target unit according one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 shows a non-limiting exemplary way in which a player can self-author questions to provide a set of player-authored questions.

FIG. 7 shows a non-limiting exemplary way in which a player can self-author questions to provide a set of player-authored questions.

FIG. 8 shows a non-limiting exemplary way in which a player can self-author questions to provide a set of player-authored questions.

FIG. 9 shows a perspective view of a seeker unit according to the present invention.

FIG. 10 shows a front view of a seeker unit according to the present invention.

Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a game apparatus for playing an enhanced game of hide and seek. The invention caters to different ages and/or education attainment levels among the players such that participants having different skill levels can competitively play the game. The game apparatus as a whole is denoted generally by the numeral “100”. The game apparatus 100 comprises a seeker unit 120 and mobile target units 140. A seeker player (SP) carries the seeker unit 120 and the hiding players (HP) each wear a target unit 140. It should be understood that the seeker unit 120 may be used to enter or process questions as discussed below.

The terms “RF signals”, and “radio frequency signals” are regarded as equivalent terms. The terms “ultrasound” and “high frequency sound out of human hearing range” are also regarded as equivalent terms. The term “wireless output signals” is intended to mean any kind of signal that is not transmitted along a wire; examples of wireless output signals include, but are not limited to: RF signals, and sound waves outside the normal human hearing range such as ultrasound.

Referring to FIG. 1, the game apparatus 100 includes an electronic seeker unit 120, and a plurality of portable target units 140 (represented in FIG. 1 by alphanumeric labels “140a” and “140b”). The players (hiding players, “HP”, and seeker player, “SP”) are shown for illustrative purposes only. Each of the plurality of portable target units 140 are adapted for being carried by a corresponding number of individuals in hiding, for generating respective output signals for selective detection by the seeker unit 120. The player designated as the seeker player (represented by the label “SP”) carries the seeker unit 120, and each player designated as a hiding players (“HP”) carries a target unit 140.

Referring to FIG. 2, the electronic seeker unit 120 includes a first memory 160, a first processor 180, and a first communication element 200. The seeker unit 120 may further comprise a microphone 185 (see FIGS. 9 and 10). The electronic seeker unit 120 might also include a keyboard 220, a screen display 240, a first speaker 260, an optional memory device slot 280, and an optional USB port 290. The seeker unit 120 is configured, as explained below, to provide each player with a player experience corresponding to the level of skill or intelligence of each player. The memory device slot 280 can take any suitable form such as a memory card slot or USB port capable of accommodating a memory stick 320. A first power supply 270 enables the functioning of the various elements found in the seeker unit 120. The first power supply 270 might be a battery (of the rechargeable or non-rechargeable type) or any other suitable device such as, but not limited to, a power adapter to enable the seeker unit 120 to be connected to a domestic mains power supply.

The memory device slot 280 might be disposed on the side of the seeker unit 120. The memory device slot 280 might be configured to receive a memory card 300, and the USB (universal serial bus) port 290 might be used to accommodate a memory stick 320; the optional memory card 300 and/or memory stick 320 might include game upgrades, such as new questions, software for new methods of game play or the like. The game upgrades might be transferred from the memory card 300 or memory stick 320 to first memory 160 in seeker unit 120 (see FIG. 2).

FIG. 3 shows a high-level flow chart 400 of a non-limiting example of an enhanced game of hide and seek which can be performed on the game apparatus 100. It should be understood that the high-level flow chart 400 is merely exemplary, and those of skill in the art will recognize various steps that might be added, deleted, and/or modified and are considered to be within the purview of the present invention.

Still referring to FIG. 3, the questions are preferably organized in sets of questions of predetermined difficulty to respectively correspond to the skill level (e.g., as expressed by the grade level of a child attending high school, or graduate and post-graduate attainment of an adult parent participating in the game of hide and seek). The flow chart 400 is representative of a hide and seek algorithm, which could be stored on first memory 160, which in turn is operably coupled to first processor 180. First processor 180 operates in response to a hide and seek game algorithm; for example, the first processor 180 receives responses to the questions via at least one input device (e.g., keyboard 220) and outputs responses via at least one output device (e.g., via the display screen 240 and/or audio-output such as first speaker 260). The terms “hide and seek algorithm” and “hide and seek game” are regarded as equivalent terms.

At 405, each participating player takes turns to enter a personal moniker (i.e., identifier) or select a moniker in order to distinguish one player from another. For example, a player can elect to be identified as being a particular color by selecting and pressing a button 190 (shown in FIG. 9) in an array of buttons 194 located on the front of seeker unit 120 (see FIGS. 9 and 10), each button having indicia defining a particular color such as, but not limited to, pink and gold.

At 410, each participating player takes turns to enter their skill level into the seeker unit 120. Questions pertinent to determining the skill level of each player can be displayed on display screen 240. The skill level may be regarded as a function of the age, school or college level of each respective player. For example, each player can be invited to enter his or her age and/or grade/school level.

At 420, each participating player is offered a series of questions based on their ascertained skill level as determined at 410. The skill level may be regarded as a function of the age of each respective player in which case the questions may be configured at 420 for players within a select age group. Each set of questions may include a plurality of subsets of questions as described in U.S. Publication Number 20050170873 published on Aug. 4, 2005 to Fishbach et al; U.S. Publication Number 20050170873 is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. Each subset of questions includes questions that are configured to be answered by players having a select age or an age higher than the select age. Each select age that is associated with each subset of questions is different from other select ages associated with other subsets of questions. Alternatively, each set of questions may include a plurality of subsets of questions based on skill attainment level.

Based on the player's score a hierarchy is established at 440. For example, the highest scoring player is chosen as the seeker player (SP) and the remaining players (i.e., hiding players, HPs) are allocated target units 140, each having their own independent power supply such as a button battery or one or more portable batteries such as one or more AAA batteries (not shown); the target units might correspond to a score system (see TABLE 1). The target units 140 might be color coded, or have indicia representing a distinguishing moniker imprinted on the surface of each unit 140. The target units 140 can be fashioned into any kind of suitable shape such as, but not limited to, a bracelet (see FIG. 4), button, badge, or armband.

TABLE 1
**Score**Score**Score value
value tovalue toto
**Score valueSP if foundSP if notHPs if not
Targetto SP ifbetween 60found afterfound after
Unit*found withinand 100100100
Color60 seconds***seconds***seconds***seconds***
Red100500100
Yellow9045090
Brown8040080
Light7035070
Green
Blue6030060
Purple5025050
Cream4020040
Dark3015030
Green
*Stated colors are exemplarily only, i.e., individual target units 140 can be assigned any color or distinguishing mark or indicia. Target units 140 might be allocated to respective HPs based on initial question/answer session run on the seeker unit 120.
**Stated score values are exemplarily and can vary without detracting from the spirit of the invention. For example, with respect to the last column all the HPs could be awarded a uniform score value, e.g., a default score of 50 points to each HP when the SP has not found any HP after 100 seconds.
***Stated time intervals are exemplarily only and can vary without detracting from the spirit of the invention.

In one embodiment, after the SP finds a HP, all the players (i.e., the SP and all the HPs) assemble by the seeker unit 120 for a round of questions and answers to select the next SP. Alternatively, the next SP is the HP with the highest score who is handed the seeker unit 120 and the HPs hide to begin another round of the enhanced hide and seek game. In another alternative version of the enhanced hide and seek game of the invention, the next SP is the HP with the highest score as determined in the first round of the questions and answers (see 420 and 440 in FIG. 3).

Each target unit 140 might be fashioned into a bracelet for wearing on the wrist of HPs; or fashioned into a badge, button, anything that can be easily carried by the HPs without affecting their ability to find a hiding place. The units are activated at 460 and the players designated as hiding players (HPs) each find a hiding place at 480. The designated seeker player (SP) begins his/her search for the hiding places of the SPs at 500. The word “target” in “target units 140” reflect the way the game is played, i.e., the seeker player uses the seeker unit 120 to seek out targets, target units, which are carried by each player designated as hiding players.

One or more (or all) target units 140 might be adapted to transmit an RF signal in which case the first communication element 200 is adapted to receive RF signals from each target unit 140. Alternatively, one or more (or all) target units 140 might include a transceiver to transmit and receive RF signals from the seeker unit 120 in which case the first communication element 200 might be a seeker transceiver unit adapted to transmit and receive RF signals to/from one or more target units 140.

Each target unit 140 might be adapted to transmit an ultrasonic sound signal frequency (i.e., above about 20 kHz) in which case the first communication element 200 is adapted to receive ultrasonic sound signals from each target unit 140; for example, the first communication element 200 could take the form of an ultrasonic receiving transducer and each target unit 140 could include an ultrasonic transmitting transducer. The first communication element 200 might comprise a piezoelectric quartz crystal, which generates voltage due to the energy created by the ultrasonic vibrations. These vibrations can be translated from high frequency to low level frequency sound by outputting sound in the human hearing range via first speaker 260 (or alternatively via an earpiece or headphones, not shown) thereby enabling the SP to home in on a HP. In one aspect of the invention, the SP might answer further questions while searching for the HPs and, depending on how well the SP answers the questions, the seeker unit 120 could provide information on the location of target units 140, much like the car locator feature described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,518,882 and thereby track down HPs quicker to achieve a higher score under, for example, the exemplary scoring system shown in TABLE 1. Ultrasonic signal detection is also described, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,432,755 (issued Jul. 11, 1995 to Komninos), which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

Alternatively, one or more (or all) target units 140 might include an ultrasound transducer to transmit/receive ultrasound signals to/from the seeker unit 120 in which case the first communication element 200 might be a seeker ultrasound transducer unit adapted to transmit and receive ultrasound signals to/from one or more target units 140. Ultrasonic receiving and transmitting transducers are described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,584,847 (issued Jul. 1, 2003 to Hirose), which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

Optionally, the SP can request ad hoc “help” from the seeker unit 120. For example, the SP can request more questions, and the seeker unit 120 responds with questions appropriate for the skill level of the SP. If the SP answers the questions correctly, the seeker unit 120 provides the approximate direction to one or more of the target units 140 in similar in manner as described, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,518,882, which teaches a vehicle locator feature in a key fob. Pat. No. 6,518,882 patent is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

If the SP answers questions correctly during the seeking part of the hide and seek game, the seeker unit 120 might be programmed to send a signal to one or more target units 140 to give away their position by emitting a sound (e.g., a beep in the audible frequency range). For example, one or more of the target units 140 could include a second processor 700, a second speaker 720, a second memory 740, a second communication element 760, and a second power source 780 operably coupled to all the elements requiring power (see FIG. 5). Upon receiving a “give up your position command” from the seeker unit 120, the receiving target unit 140 could respond with a beeping noise, wherein the second communication element 760 receives the “give up your position” command, which might be directed to the second processor 700, which in turn could be operably coupled to the second speaker 720 which beeps in response to the seeker unit 120 requesting such a response.

A seeker unit 120 equipped with first communication element 200, which in this example is in the form of an ultrasound transceiver or transmitter, could emit an ultrasound signal in response to the SP gaining ad hoc help from the seeker unit 120 by requesting and answering some questions correctly while looking for one or more HPs and thereby cause one or more target units 140 to emit a give away sound (e.g., a beep or regularly repeating beep) in a similar manner with respect to the car locator feature described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,518,882 issued Feb. 11, 2003 to Johnson et al, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. Alternatively, the first 200 and second 760 communication elements could communicate based on RF wireless signals.

Thus, during the seeking part of the hide and seek game, for each question successfully answered by the SP, the seeker unit 120 might provide information on the whereabouts of one or more of the hiding players (HPs), if the SP answers wrong the seeker unit 120 might be programmed to block or otherwise deny information on the location of one or more of the target units 140. In one embodiment, the seeker unit 120 has a first communication element 200 capable of determining the signal strength of signals received from each target unit 140. Thus, the seeker unit 120 (i.e., under the direction of the programmed first processor 180) can aid or hinder the SP in seeking out the hiding places of each HP. Thus, the SP is taking a calculated risk. The first processor 120 can be programmed to monitor the time taken to find each player, wherein the SP is awarded a score based on the time taken to locate one or more HPs (see TABLE 1). Thus, the hide and seek game becomes a game of cunning and strategy thereby making the game more exciting for the players. Scores are allocated to the SP and HPs at 540. The first processor 180 might be programmed to tally the scores of each player from one game to the next in the form of a table of highest scoring players; such data might be displayed on demand on output screen 240.

In one aspect of the invention one or more players (SP and/or any of the HPs) might incorporate their own questions into the game, “player-authored questions”. For example, a player might want to learn important history dates because of an upcoming history examination. For example, the player can write and set up the questions on a personal computer and download them to a memory device such as a memory stick 320 (or memory card 300) for later transfer to first memory 160. The player-authored questions might be on any school or college subject such as, but not limited to, chemistry. The player-authored questions can be in any suitable form such as YES/NO, e.g., is the formula for methane CH4; ENTER: Y for YES, N for NO. Multiplication tables could be tested in this way. The list of player-authored questions is limitless. To help with this a suitable question template 340 might be provided, wherein each player is prompted to type in a question at 345 (see FIG. 6). Each player might then be prompted to provide the correct answer at 347 and incorrect response answers at 349. Player-authored questions might instead be entered, for example, on a laptop or stand-alone PC by means of an adjunct algorithm, and such player-authored questions can be transferred, for example, to a memory stick 320 or memory card 300 for transfer to first memory 160 via a USB port 290 or memory device slot 280 on seeker unit 120. Alternatively, player-authored questions can be formulated using keyboard 220 and monitored on screen 240. The use of self-authored questions has the advantage that the skill level of the player is automatically taken into account and makes the invention very relevant to each participating player.

Alternatively, a set of other-party questions can be provided by, for example: one or more parents, a player's teacher, and/or tutor. Any responsible person can program questions into the seeker unit 120 that speak to, for example, a subject that the child is weak in, such as math or science.

Once the enhanced game of hide and seek is underway the self-authored questions are randomized and displayed at the appropriate time on screen 240 at 350. Such terms as “None of the above” can be added to the output as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 at 360. Thus, the game apparatus 100 can be used to help prepare players such as, but not limited to, young adults for the world of multiple-choice testing.

In more detail, FIG. 6 shows a non-limiting exemplary way in which a player can self-author questions to provide a set of player-authored questions. Specifically, the seeker unit 120 displays “Enter question:” on display 240 at 345. In this example, the player enters “The chemical formula for methane is?” at 348 using keyboard 220. (For convenience, all player inputs are shown in italics and device output in regular font.) Once the player has entered the correct answer, the seeker unit 120 prompts the player to enter incorrect answers. The process is repeated to build up a set of player-authored questions that can be stored in first memory 160 or on a memory card 300 and/or memory stick 320. Alternatively, an adjunct algorithm can be run on a personal computer such as a laptop or stand-along PC (or on a personal digital assistant, PDA) to enable the player to use a QWERTY keyboard to generate sets and/or subsets of questions. It should be understood that a non-player such as a parent could also build up sets and/or subsets of questions. An example of the question output format is shown at 350 (FIG. 6). The inputs of the player are randomized to provide a multiple-choice format with “None of the above” added as a possible answer at 360 (see FIG. 7).

FIG. 8 shows an example of a player-authored question based on elementary history dates. In this manner a player can save a plurality of questions to build up a set and/or subsets of questions that can be transferred to first memory 160 for later use in the enhanced game of hide and seek using seeker unit 120. It should be understood that anyone might author questions such as a parent or teacher for the benefit of a younger player such as a child or student, respectively.

In one aspect of the invention a game apparatus 100 is provided for players desiring to play an enhanced game of hide and seek. The game apparatus 100 comprises electronic seeker unit 120. The seeker unit being configured to provide each player with a player experience corresponding to the level of skill or intelligence of each player. The electronic seeker unit 120 includes a first memory 160 configured to store sets of questions, each of the sets of questions being configured to be answerable by players having different levels of skill or intelligence. The first memory 160 is further configured to store a hide and seek algorithm. It should be understood that the first memory 160 can be integrated into the first processor 180. The seeker unit 120 further includes a first power supply 270, at least one input device (such as, but not limited to, a keyboard 20), at least one output device (such as, but not limited to, a display screen 240), a first processor 180, and a first communication element 200. The first processor 180 is operatively coupled to the first memory 160. The first processor 180 operates in response to the hide and seek algorithm, and is configured to present the different sets of questions via the at least one output device during a game of hide and seek. The first processor 180 receives responses to the questions via the at least one input device and outputs responses via the at least one output device. The first communication element 200 is operably coupled to the first processor 180.

The game apparatus 100 further includes a plurality of portable target units 140 each capable of generating wireless output signals. At least one of the target units 140 is adapted for being carried by a corresponding number of players in hiding. Each target unit 140 includes a second power supply 780. The first communication element 200 is adapted to receive output signals from the target units 140.

It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.