Title:
INTERACTIVE TOY
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention is directed to an interactive toy in which a user operates an instrument in association with the toy and one or more corresponding images show up on a display.



Inventors:
Nakamura, Michael (Crystal Lake, IL, US)
Application Number:
12/267957
Publication Date:
06/11/2009
Filing Date:
11/10/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
446/71
International Classes:
A63H33/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RADA, ALEX P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PAULEY ERICKSON & SWANSON (HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A toy including: a platform wherein the platform further includes a processor, a memory, a speaker and a memory; an instrument electrically connected to the processor; a display electrically connected to the processor; a plaything; a node positioned within the plaything, so that the instrument is responsive to the node resulting in a response signal sent to the processor and to the display.

2. The toy of claim 1 further comprising a sensor positioned within the platform.

3. The toy of claim 1 further comprising a selector positioned on the platform and electrically connected to the processor.

4. The toy of claim 1 further comprising an output cable and an output plug, wherein the output cable electrically connects the processor to the output plug.

5. The toy of claim 4, wherein the output plug is a RCA plug.

6. The toy of claim 1, wherein the instrument receives radio signals and sends a responsive signal to the CPU.

7. The toy of claim 6, where in the node positioned within the plaything is an RFID tag.

8. The toy of claim 1, wherein the instrument reads magnetically encoded data and sends a responsive signal to the CPU.

9. The toy of claim 8, where in the node positioned within the plaything includes magnetically encoded data.

10. The toy of claim 1, wherein the plaything is a stuffed animal.

11. The toy of claim 1, wherein the plaything is a toy car.

12. A toy including: a platform wherein the platform further includes a processor, a memory, a speaker, a selector; an instrument electrically connected to the processor; a plaything; a node positioned within the plaything, so that the instrument is responsive to the node resulting in a response signal sent to the processor and to the display.

13. The toy of claim 12, wherein the output comprises a cable and an RCA plug.

14. The toy of claim 12, wherein the instrument receives radio frequencies and sends a responsive signal to the CPU.

15. The toy of claim 14, wherein the node positioned within the plaything is a RFID tag.

16. The toy of claim 12, wherein the instrument reads magnetically encoded data and sends a responsive signal to the CPU.

17. The toy of claim 16, where in the node positioned within the plaything includes magnetically encoded data.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/002,652, filed 9 Nov. 2007.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention is directed to an interactive toy in which a user operates an instrument in association with the toy resulting in one or more corresponding images generated on a display.

2. Discussion of Related Art

The present invention relates to a toy for the simulation of adult occupations including, veterinarians, doctors and mechanics. Known toys of this type generally include nonfunctional accessories for make believe play.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A general object of the invention is to provide a toy in which a user can simulate the activities of various occupations, for example, a doctor, a veterinarian or an auto mechanic. This invention preferably includes a plaything, such as a doll, an action figure, a stuffed animal or a toy car, which can respond to and interact with an instrument and/or a main station/platform. For example, the user could simulate the activity of a veterinarian and the associated plaything would be a stuffed animal. The user may place the stuffed animal on the platform and utilize an x-ray instrument by placing the x-ray instrument over or in association with the plaything.

According to one preferred embodiment of the invention, one or more sensors in the x-ray instrument and/or the platform communicate with one or more nodes within the stuffed animal to display a simulated medical image of the stuffed animal, for instance, paw bones when the user places the x-ray instrument over a paw of the stuffed animal or a skull image when the user places the x-ray instrument over a head the stuffed animal. Similarly, the user could pick up a stethoscope instrument and place it over a heart of the stuffed animal to hear a heartbeat on speakers while viewing a heartbeat image on a display.

Preferably, the platform and instruments cooperate with multiple playthings which provide unique, corresponding images and sounds on the display. The user may thereby simulate the activity of a veterinarian with multiple patients including, a cat patient, a dog patient, a bird patient and/or any other suitable veterinarian patient.

Further, the invention will ideally allow for the plaything to go through cycles of good and bad health or repair so that the user can “nurse” or maintain the plaything back to health or operation.

According to a preferred embodiment of the invention, the device may grow and adapt with the user by providing increasingly complex imagination scenarios as the user ages.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features of this invention will be better understood from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the drawing, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a top view of a toy according to one embodiment of this invention.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention will now be described with reference to representative FIG. 1 which, in general, relates to an interactive toy that permits a user to interact with a plaything for example with one or more instruments. In a preferred embodiment, the interactive toy provides a simulated veterinarian scenario and would preferably include a veterinarian station with one or more examining instruments and a plaything “patient,” such as a stuffed animal, so that a user may “examine” the patient with the instruments and obtain resulting interactions on a display. However, it is understood that the present invention may be adapted to provide various imaginative scenarios including doctor/patient, mechanic/automobile, scientist/insect, etc.

FIG. 1 illustrates a toy 100. The toy 100 preferably includes a platform 110, an instrument 130, a display 140 and a plaything 150. The platform 110 preferably includes a central processing unit (CPU) 112, a memory 114, an audio source, such as a speaker 116, a platform sensor 118, at least one selector 120 and a power supply 122. The plaything 150 preferably includes at least one node 152 and preferably a plurality of nodes 152. As used throughout the specification and claims a “node” is an object or device that provides data to be read or detected by one or more platform sensors 118 and the instrument 130. Additionally, the selector 120 may include one or more push-buttons, dials, and/or touch screens.

In a preferred embodiment of the toy 100, the CPU 112 is electrically connected to the data storage medium 114, the speaker 116, the memory 118, the selector 120, the power supply 122, the instrument 130 and the display 140. In an alternative embodiment, the instrument 130 is in wireless communication with the CPU 112. The node 152 is in wireless communication with the platform sensor 118 and in wireless communication with the instrument 130.

In a preferred embodiment, the power supply 122 is a battery. In an alternative embodiment, the power supply 122 is replaced by a power cord which may be plugged into a standard AC wall outlet.

In a preferred embodiment, the node 152 is a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag and the instrument 130 is able to receive radio frequencies. Further, in a preferred embodiment, the platform sensor 118 is also able to receive radio frequencies. As a result, the node 152 communicates with one or more of the instrument 130 and the platform sensor 118.

In another embodiment, the node 152 includes magnetically encoded data and the instrument 130 is able to detect and read the magnetically encoded data. Further, in a preferred embodiment, the platform sensor 118 is also able to detect and read the magnetically encoded data. As a result, the node 152 communicates with one or more of the instrument 130 and the platform sensor 118.

In operation, the plaything 150 is placed on the platform 110. The proximity of the node 152 and the platform sensor 118 causes a signal to be sent to the CPU 112. This signal permits the CPU 112 to identify the type of plaything 150 that is positioned on the platform. The CPU 112 in turn sends a signal to the display 140 and/or the speaker 116. The user may then select a mode of operation with the selector 120. For example, the user may select an “x-ray” mode. Then the user may maneuver the appropriate x-ray tool instrument 130 to x-ray their “patient” plaything 150. The invention may include a plurality of instruments 130. For example, an x-ray tool for x-rays, a stethoscope tool for listening to sounds within the patient and other instruments suitable for use in connection with the plaything 150. In an alternative embodiment, the toy 100 may not include the selector 120 and instead the mode of operation may be selected by the type of instrument 130 that is chosen by the user.

Further, the instrument 130 can be positioned near the node 152. The instrument 130 will detect the node 152 that it is near to and communicate that information to the CPU 112. The CPU 112 in turn will send the appropriate animation to be shown on the display 140 and/or the appropriate audio to be emitted from the speakers 116.

In the veterinarian scenario, the instrument 130 can be designed to provide a variety of functions including x-raying, listening to sounds within the patient, and taking temperature. For example, in the veterinarian embodiment, the instrument 130 may be utilized for x-raying and when the instrument 130 is placed over the node 152 of a foot of the stuffed animal an image of foot bones is displayed on the display 140. As the device is moved up the stuffed animal, the display 140 will generate an image of an ankle bone, a knee, a thigh bone, a hip bone and so on. In another example for the veterinarian embodiment, the instrument 130 could be a stethoscope tool and when the instrument is placed over a heart of the stuffed animal the node 152 would interact with the instrument 130 and send a signal to the CPU 112. The CPU 112 would transmit animation and/or sound to the display 140 and the speaker 116 so that the user could view a heart monitor on the display 140 and hear heartbeats on the speaker 116. In still another example, the instrument 130 may be a thermometer which the user can insert into a mouth of the stuffed animal. The instrument 130 would interact with the node 152 and send a signal to the CPU 112. The CPU 112 would transmit animation and/or sound to the display 140 and the speaker 116 so that the user could view a temperature gauge on the display 140 and hear sounds on the speakers 116.

Similarly, in the mechanic scenario, the instrument 130 can be designed to provide a variety of functions including, a tool for measuring battery voltage (a voltmeter), a tool for draining fluids from the toy car, a tool for supplying fluids to the toy car and a tool for checking exhaust. For example, the voltmeter tool may only react when it is near the node 152 that is located at a battery. When the instrument 130 is placed near the node 152 of the battery, animation representing the voltage of the car may be shown on the display 140. In another example, when the instrument 130 is placed near the node 152 of an oil drain plug, animation and/or sound representing draining oil may be shown on the display 140 and/or emitted from the speaker 116.

In an alternative embodiment, the location of the instrument 130 with respect to the plaything 150 can be determined by the CPU 112 by triangulation of the instrument 130 and the various nodes 152 located within the plaything 150. This embodiment provides for images to be displayed on the display 140 when the instrument is between two nodes 152.

In another alternative embodiment, the display 140 may be omitted and replaced, for example, with an output cable for connecting the platform to a television or monitor, allowing the television to replace the display. The output cable may also include an output plug. Possible types of output plug may include, but not limited to, an RCA plug and a co-axial cable. Additionally, it is understood that in an alternative embodiment the memory 114, the speaker 116, the platform sensor 118, and the selector 120 may be omitted.

It will be appreciated that details of the foregoing embodiments, given for purposes of illustration, are not to be construed as limiting the scope of this invention. Although only a few exemplary embodiments of this invention have been described in detail above, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible in the exemplary embodiments without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of this invention. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of this invention, which is defined in the following claims and all equivalents thereto. Further, it is recognized that many embodiments may be conceived that do not achieve all of the advantages of some embodiments, particularly of the preferred embodiments, yet the absence of a particular advantage shall not be construed to necessarily mean that such an embodiment is outside the scope of the present invention.