Title:
Electronic game board and control unit
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An electronic game board and DVD system in which the game board is provided with a plurality of game squares or spaces arranged on the surface of the game board. Each of the game squares or spaces is provided with a depressable switch. The depression of the switch would indicate a particular square or space on which a player has landed and this information is transmitted to a microprocessor by either a wired or wireless connection. A display associated with the microprocessor would project an appropriate scene, word, phrase or question based upon the position of the game piece as relayed to the microprocessor by the depression of the appropriate switch.



Inventors:
Cogliano, Mary Ann (Santa Rosa, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/633514
Publication Date:
06/05/2008
Filing Date:
12/05/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F3/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LANEAU, RONALD
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOFFMAN, WASSON & GITLER, P.C. (Arlington, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A game system comprising: a planar game board provided with a plurality of first game spaces included on said game board, each of said first game spaces provided with written indicia thereon; a plurality of switches, each of said plurality of switches connected to one of said first game spaces, wherein each of said first game spaces has only one of said switches connected thereto; an electronic game controller and memory in communication with all of said switches; one or more game pieces for movement along said first game spaces; and a display device in communication with said electronic game controller and memory, wherein, the activation of one of said switches is communicated to said electronic game controller and memory, indicating the particular game space upon which one of said game pieces has landed, but not the identity of said one of said game pieces, thereby allowing an appropriate output to be projected onto said display device based upon the depression of one of said plurality of switches.

2. The game system in accordance with claim 1, wherein said electronic game controller and memory, as well as said display device are remotely located with respect to said game board.

3. The game system in accordance with claim 1, wherein said electronic game controller and memory are provided within said game board.

4. The game system in accordance with claim 3, wherein said display device is physically attached to said game board.

5. The game system in accordance with claim 4, wherein said display device is located within the periphery of said game board.

6. The game system in accordance with claim 4, wherein said display device is physically connected to one edge of said game board.

7. The game system in accordance with claim 2, wherein each of said switches is a pressure activated switch.

8. The game system in accordance with claim 7, further including a separate coil connected to each of said switches, wherein the activation of each of said switches results in the production of a unique wireless signal transmitted to a receiver in communication with said electronic game controller and memory, allowing the appropriate output to be projected on said display device.

9. The game system in accordance with claim 3, wherein each of said switches is a pressure activated switch.

10. The game system in accordance with claim 9, wherein each of said switches is directly connected to said electronic game controller and memory, wherein the activation of each of said switches results in the appropriate output to be projected on said display device.

11. The game system in accordance with claim 6, further including at least one hinge resiliently attaching said display device to said game board, wherein said display would move from a first collapsed position in which said display overlays said game board to a second erected position with said display is substantially perpendicular to said game board.

12. The game system in accordance with claim 1, further including a battery connected to said game board.

13. The game system in accordance with claim 1, further including an overlay comprising a planar surface provided with a plurality of second game spaces corresponding to said first game spaces, said overlay removably positioned over said game board.

14. The game system in accordance with claim 7, further including an overlay comprising a planar surface provided in the plurality of game surfaces arranged along the periphery of said overlay, said overlay removably positioned over said game board.

15. The game system in accordance with claim 7, wherein each of said pressure activated switches is provided on the surface of said game board and said overlay is provided with a plurality of apertures corresponding to the position of each of said pressure activated switches, wherein each of said pressure activated switches would extend through one of said apertures when said overlay is positioned over said game board.

16. The game system in accordance with claim 3, wherein said display device is remotely located with respect to said electronic game board, said game system further provided with a wired conductor provided between to said display device and said electronic game controller and memory.

17. The game system in accordance with claim 1, wherein said first game space pieces are arranged along the periphery of said game board.

18. The game system in accordance with claim 1, wherein said first game spaces fill the entire surface are of said game board.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an electronic game board used with a visual display.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The development of electronics and microprocessor controlled computers has resulted in the evolution of various products, as well as the enhancement of older products in a manner to make our lives more enjoyable, as well as easing the burden in performing various tasks. Many consumer products, which in years past operate without the necessity of electronic or microprocessor control, now utilizes technology in the operation of these products. For example, consumer products such as refrigerators, dishwashers and ovens operate through the use of microprocessors. These microprocessors, with the help of various sensors, would monitor a number of differing operating conditions, thereby allowing each of these appliances to function more efficiently.

The use of electronics and microprocessors have also extended to amusement games and devices. Initially, amusement games employing electronics and microprocessors were very rudimentary, such as the games Pong and Battleship. Recently, these amusement games have become quite sophisticated and therefore have enhanced the enjoyment of the players of these games. Along with the pure enjoyment fact of these games, it is important to develop games and activities which can be used to teach children as well as adults various academic or artistic skills. The sophistication of these games have also included utilizing a display device, for displaying various pictures, questions, still photographs as well as the use of animation in playing a game as well as teaching both children and adults alike various facts.

U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/780,567, filed Feb. 19, 2004 and incorporated by reference herewith is directed to an electronic game in which various participants are asked to complete a picture or scene depicted upon a computer screen or similar display device. This application described a system in which only a portion of a picture would be projected upon a display screen. The same picture would be displayed upon a plurality of screens included in the same environment, such as a playroom or projected upon screens in remote locations utilizing the internet. The purpose of this game would be to identify the nature of the picture as more pieces are added to the picture. However, it was never the intention of the game described in the aforementioned application to be utilized with a game board having a plurality of squares on its periphery. Similarly, the aforementioned patent application did not contemplate a situation in which the position of a player on the game board would be communicated to a microprocessor controlling the action of the game, thereby resulting in the display of various scenes, questions or facts on a display device.

U.S. published patent application 2006/0175753 to MacIver et al describes a game system including a DVD player, DVD media, a television and an electronic game board. Various types of sensor switches would locate a game piece relative to a particular square on the game board. A wireless signal, such as a signal sensitive to a light-emitting diode would be transmitted between the game board and a remote DVD gaming system. Based upon the signals received by the DVD gaming system, various information would be displayed on the screen of the television. As illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 5, MacIver et al would utilize a specific identifier associated with each game piece. This identifier is a radio frequency identifier (RFI) used with an identifier sensor as a radio frequency identifier tag reader. Therefore, the wireless signals between the game board and the DVD gaming system would be complicated in nature, since they do identify not only a particular space on the board, but also a particular game piece.

U.S. published patent application 2003/0062675 to Noro et al describes a system for determining the position and attitude of a game piece on a game board. A game management unit would store information pertaining to a game as well as the current status or scene as the game progresses. A game console or personal computer would manage the proceedings of the game through the game management unit. A computer graphics generation unit would generate the computer graphics for a particular scene. The computer graphics are transmitted to a display mounted on the head of each of the players. Various types of sensors would be utilized by a player position and attitude determining device to indicate the position and attitude of a player upon the game board. Similar to the patent application publication to MacIver et al, the manner in which the position of the player is determined is very complicated.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,690,156 to Weiner et al details a device for detecting the position of a player piece on a game board. As illustrated in FIG. 5, playing pieces are arranged at various locations around a board and a camera would be utilized to determine the position of each piece on the board.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,659,836 to Yamasaki et al discusses a figure data input device in which the position and type of a figure is sensed when that figure is inserted into a particular position on a mounting board. Data is transmitted to a linked machine, such as a personal computer which is used to generate a scene on a display device.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,853,327 issued to Gilboa is directed to a computerized game board associated with a display screen. Various playing pieces are provided on the game board at discrete locations. Each game piece generates a unique signal so that each game piece can be uniquely identified by a processor unit.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,102,397 issued to Lee et al describes a computer interface used with a game board. The game board can contain various overlays, each of which would be removably affixed to a game base. Each of the game overlays contains a plurality of player squares, either around the periphery of the overlay or across the entire surface of the overlay. Each of these squares is provided with a hole therein. Each of these holes is connected to an identification unit for communicating both identification data as well as position data to a central processor unit. Various game pieces are employed having unique information associated therewith. Therefore, the insertion of a game piece into the hole in one of the squares would transmit information to the central processor unit detailing into which square a particular game piece has been inserted, but also the specific identity of that game piece.

U.S. published patent application 2005/0014563 to Barri discusses an interactive DVD gaming system for playing various games, such as trivia games. However, this application does not utilize a game board during the play of the game.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,186,505 issued to Perrie et al describes a casino game including an illuminated game board having a game layout provided thereon. A player table is attached to the illuminated game board and is provided with a wager area thereon. As shown in FIG. 3, a microprocessor is provided with a memory. The microprocessor is connected to a driver circuit which controls a display on the game board. This display may be a visual display, an audio display, or a combination of both in a multimedia display.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,650,870 to White et al discusses a data communication apparatus used with a toy or game. This apparatus includes a base unit provided with a recess portion, a speaker and a display. A character having a tag thereon is placed into the recessed portion with the tag lying adjacent to a tag reader. The tag contains information about the character which would then be visually displayed upon the display and/or transmitted to a speaker.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,934,674 issued to Bukowsky describes a stock market game having a game board surface defining a game piece moving pathway extending around the periphery of the game board. An electronic display is inserted within the center of the game board. This electronic display includes a processing unit for controlling a stock value and a portfolio value display.

U.S. published patent application 2005/0122995 to Walker et al displays a game board apparatus provided with a plurality of categories around the periphery of a game board. An audio/visual device comprising a display, a keypad and a speaker is associated with the game board apparatus. Electronic text, audio snippets and video snippets are displayed thereon for trivia questions for selected time periods.

Although several of the patents discussed hereinabove describe a game board provided with various sensors for transmitting the location and identify of a specific game pieced to a microprocessor, CPU or similar device, no single reference describes a situation in which only the location of a game piece is transmitted either wirelessly or through a wired connection to a device for controlling information to be projected upon a display either physically attached to the game board or provided at a distance remote from the game board.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The deficiencies of the prior art are overcome by the present invention which is directed to an electronic game board associated with a display unit. The electronic game board includes a playing surface having a plurality of playing squares or spaces provided around the entire periphery of the game board, or a portion of the periphery of the game board. Alternatively, the squares or spaces could be provided in the interior portion of the game board only, or could cover the entire surface of the game board. A switch or similar device is associated with each of the playing squares or spaces. A computer processor unit (CPU) is associated with the game board and the display. The display is either fixedly attached to the game board or provided at a location remote from the game board, such as a television screen. When the game utilizes a remote display unit, the CPU can either be located directly in or on the game board. If the display is remote from the game board, the CPU can also be provided on or in the game board or directly connected to a display screen in the form of a DVD or CD-ROM. The display screen can either be a television screen, a computer screen, or the like.

A switch is associated with each of the playing squares or spaces. Once a player lands on a particular square or space, the switch associated with that square or space would be physically depressed by the player or the player's piece. When the display is physically attached to the game board, a signal is produced which is transmitted either through a conductor provided between that particular square or space and the CPU or can be wirelessly connected to each of the switches. Based upon the particular square or space that a player has landed, various scenes, facts or questions would be projected upon the display. When the display is not physically connected to the game board and, is therefore located a distance therefrom, the depression of a particular switch, thereby indicating the particular square or spaces upon which the player has landed is wirelessly transmitted to the CPU associated with the display screen, wherein the CPU can also remotely situated with respect to the electronic game board. The DVD or CD-ROM in association with the CPU would produce the proper image to be displayed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and form a part of the specification, illustrate the embodiments of the present invention and together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a game system with a DVD player, DVD media, a television, and electronic game board;

FIG. 2 is a perspective drawing of an electronic game board having a display fixedly attached to the game board;

FIG. 3 is a perspective drawing of an electronic game board having a display provided in the middle of the game board;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram showing a wireless connection between the electronic game board and a remote DVD player;

FIG. 5 is a block diagram showing the connections between each square or space of the electronic game board and a control unit; and

FIG. 6 is a perspective drawing of an electronic game board directly provided with a CPU and utilizes a remote display.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to the accompanying drawings in which like reference numerals indicate like elements, FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment 10 of the present invention. This embodiment includes a planar electronic game board 12 provided with a plurality of squares or spaces 14, 16 extending around the entire periphery of the game board. It should be noted that the squares or spaces 14, 16 could be provided around only a portion of the periphery of the game board 12. Alternatively, the squares or spaces 14, 16 could be provided in the interior portion of the game board 12, only, or could cover the entire surface area of the game board 12. For ease of illustration, we did not include a reference numeral associated with each of the squares or spaces. The present invention is directed to a game in which various types of displays are projected, in a first embodiment, upon a display unit provided at a remote position from the electronic game board 12, or, in additional embodiments, directly attached to the electronic game board 12. The materials which are projected upon the display are dependent upon the particular square or space 14, 16 upon a player's game piece, such as 15 would land. Although FIG. 1 includes only several types of categories, such as places, art, music, history, things, animals or people, each of the game squares or spaces 14, 16 would include separate categories. Based upon the type of game which is to be played, different questions, scenes or figures would be projected upon the display screen.

Each of the squares of spaces 14, 16 would have a sensor switch 30 associated therewith. Although the type of switch which would be utilized for the play of this game is not important, it has been found that pressure switches which a particular player or player's piece would depress has been found to work particularly well. FIG. 1 describes an embodiment in which a remote DVD player 20 having a display 22 would be located remote to the electronic game board 12. In this embodiment, while the display is close to the electronic game board 12, it is not directly attached thereto. A DVD player would be provided with removable tray 26 onto which a DVD audio/visual media 27 would be inserted, allowing the DVD media 27 to move from the external position shown in FIG. 1 to a position in which the DVD audio/visual media 27 would be within the DVD player, allowing the media 27 to be connected to the various state of the art components provided within the DVD player 20, allowing the proper material to be displayed upon the display 22.

The depression of each of the respective switches 30 associated with each of the game squares or spaces 14, 16 would generate a unique signal 31 which is wirelessly transmitted from the electronic game board 12 to a wireless receiver 28 associated with the DVD player 20. It is contemplated that any kind of wireless signal could be utilized. The depression of any of the switches 30 could be noted by the illumination of a light 18 provided directly upon the electronic game board 12 or, by the production of an audio signal produced by a speaker 24 associated with the DVD player 20 or, alternatively, the speaker could also be directly provided on the game board 12. A switch connected to either the electronic game board 12 or the DVD player 20 would be used to put the game in a “play” mode, wherein the depression of only the switches 31, would result in the proper material being projected onto display 22.

As can be appreciated, the type of game or the number and type of categories provided in the game shown in FIG. 1 can easily be changed by overlaying a paper, plastic, cardboard, or the like template over the electronic game board. In this embodiment, the squares or spaces of the overlay would contain a hole, allowing access to each of the switches 30. These different games could be provided in the same audio/visual media 27 as will be used for the first game, or other audio/visual media 27 could be inserted into the tray 26 and be associated with a particular game board or overlay. A switch or switches associated with each of the games and the media would be either included on the game board or associated with the DVD monitor.

FIG. 2 shows a second embodiment of the present invention in which the game board 12 is physically attached to an upstanding display device 32 including a display screen 34. Therefore, since the display 32 is physically attached to the game board 12, there is no need to wirelessly transmit the information relating to the particular game square or board 14, 16 upon which a player has landed to the CPU which controls the material provided on each display. Although this information can be wirelessly transmitted from each of the switches 30 to a controller for controlling the play of the game, it is contemplated that a wired connection would be provided from each of the switches 31 to a controller, as will be henceforth explained. Since a remote DVD player is not required in the embodiment illustrated with respect to FIG. 2, the game board 12 is provided with a DVD loading mechanism or tray 44 into which the DVD audio/visual media 27 would be loaded. Additionally, the electronic game board 12 is provided with a device 42 for loading an additional memory card or cards into the game board to allow the play of the game. Similar to the game board shown in FIG. 1, the game board illustrated in FIG. 2 would include a light or lamp 18. A speaker 46 would be used instead of the speaker 24 shown in FIG. 1. Furthermore, an ON/OFF switch 45 would be provided to initiate the play of the game allowing the proper material to be projected on the display screen when only the switch 30 is depressed. The game board 12 would be operated either by one or more internal batteries or a wired connection to an electrical outlet.

The display unit 32 with the display 34 includes a base structure 39 directly attached to one side of the game board 12. Hinges 36, 38 will be used to move the display unit 32 from the upright position shown in FIG. 2 to a collapsible position in which the display unit 32 directly overlays the center of the game board 12.

FIG. 3 shows a third embodiment of the present invention in which the electronic game board 12 is provided with a display 45 included in the center portion of the game board, surrounded by the squares or spaces 14, 16. Similar to the embodiment illustrated with respect to FIG. 2, a wired or wireless communication would be provided between each of the squares or spaces 14, 16 based upon the depression of the proper switch 30 and a controller which would properly illuminate the display 45 based upon the depression of the proper switch 30. Additionally, similar to the embodiments shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, various overlays can be provided to the game board 12 thereby changing the particular categories illustrated around the periphery of the game board or even the character of the game. This change is based upon the proper insertion of the correct DVD audio/visual media as well as memory into the tray 44 and memory insertion device 42.

FIG. 4 illustrates a rudimentary wiring diagram used primarily with respect to FIG. 1 for wirelessly communicating which of the switches 30 was depressed by one of the players to the CPU. Each switch 30 is connected to a battery 50. Although not shown, a single battery may be connected to each of the switches, or each of the switches would be provided with a separate battery. Alternatively, each of the switches can be connected to a power source, through an electrical outlet not shown. Each of the switches 30 is connected to separate oscillators 60, 62, 64, each producing a unique frequency 66, 68 and 70 respectfully which are transmitted to a remote controller such as CPU 52. In the case of FIG. 1, the CPU as well as memory 54 and display 56 are remotely located in the DVD unit 20. A receiver 28 would receive the wireless signals produced by the depressions of each of the switches 30. Based upon the particular wireless signal 66, 68 and 70 received by the CPU 52, along with the memory unit 54, the correct material would be displayed upon display 56.

FIG. 5 illustrates the situation in which each of the switches 30 would be directly connected to the CPU 52 to display the proper information upon display unit 56. As can be appreciated, FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate only three of a plurality of switches 30.

FIG. 6 illustrates an additional embodiment of the present invention in which a display 22 is provided at a remote distance from the electronic game board 10. Similar to the embodiment shown with respect to FIG. 2, the DVD loading mechanism or tray 44 and the device 42 for loading an additional memory card or cards would be directly applied to the electronic game board 12. Connections between the switches 30 and the CPU would be wirelessly transmitted to the CPU 52 utilizing the circuits shown in FIG. 4, or, alternatively, a wired connection would be made between the switches 30 and the CPU 52 as shown in FIG. 5. Since the display 22 is not directly connected to the electronic game board 12, a wire or similar conductor 43 is provided between the electronic game board 12 and the display 22, allowing the information that is to be projected upon the display 22 to be transmitted between the CPU 52 of the electronic game board 12 and the appropriate circuitry of the display 22. It is noted that this display could be a television monitor, a computer screen, or the like.

As various modifications can be made in the constructions and methods herein described and illustrated without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the foregoing description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative rather than limiting. Thus, the breadth and scope of the present invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the following claims appended hereto and their equivalents.