Title:
METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR TRACKING PARLOR GAME STATISTICS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method of tracking parlor game statistics and results includes filling in a scorecard at a location of a parlor game, feeding the scorecard into a bill acceptor assembly, scanning the filled-in scorecard with a scanner housed within the bill acceptor assembly, analyzing scanned information within the scorecard through the use of a processing unit, and transmitting analyzed information provided from the scorecard to a results and statistics compiling facility that is remotely located from the parlor game.



Inventors:
Rice, Patrick G. (Loves Park, IL, US)
Bonilla, Marcio (San Rafael, CR)
Application Number:
12/552801
Publication Date:
03/11/2010
Filing Date:
09/02/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
463/43
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
LARSEN, CARL VICTOR
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCANDREWS HELD & MALLOY, LTD (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A method of tracking parlor game statistics and results, the method comprising: filling in a scorecard at a location of a parlor game; feeding the scorecard into a bill acceptor assembly; scanning the filled-in scorecard with a scanner housed within the bill acceptor assembly; analyzing scanned information within the scorecard through the use of a processing unit; and transmitting analyzed information provided from the scorecard to a results and statistics compiling facility that is remotely located from the parlor game.

2. The method of claim 1, comprising storing game results and statistics in a database at the results and statistics compiling facility.

3. The method of claim 2, comprising transmitting the game results and statistics to the bill acceptor assembly.

4. The method of claim 3, comprising displaying the game results and statistics on a monitor proximate the parlor game.

5. The method of claim 4, comprising selecting particular game results and statistics to be displayed on the monitor through a user interface.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein the bill acceptor is operatively connected to an electronic dart game machine.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein said filling in the scorecard comprises darkening defined areas on the scorecard.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein said filling in the scorecard comprises writing on the scorecard.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein the parlor game comprises a billiards table.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein the scorecard is sized and shaped like a dollar bill.

11. A system of tracking parlor game statistics and results, the system comprising: a parlor game at a first geographic location; an electronic dart game machine at the first geographic location, said electronic dart game machine being separate and distinct from said parlor game, said electronic dart game machine comprising a bill acceptor assembly having a processor in communication with a scanner, said bill acceptor configured to receive, accept and discern between dollar bills and scorecards for the parlor game, said bill acceptor scanning and analyzing the scorecards for game results related to said parlor game; and a league operator processing unit in bidirectional communication with said bill acceptor assembly of said electronic dart game machine, said league operator processing unit being in a second geographic location that is separate and distinct from the first location, said league operator processing unit receiving the game results from said bill acceptor assembly, said league operator processing unit storing game results and compiling statistics based on the game results received from the bill acceptor assembly, and said league operator processing unit transmitting the statistics to said bill acceptor assembly.

12. The system of claim 11, comprising a monitor in communication with said bill acceptor assembly at the first location, wherein the statistics are displayed on said monitor.

13. The system of claim 12, comprising a user interface connected to said bill acceptor assembly, said user interface being operable to allow a user to select between statistics and results displayed on said monitor.

14. The system of claim 11, wherein said league operator processing unit comprises a memory storage unit, said league operator processing unit storing the game results and the statistics in said memory storage unit.

15. The system of claim 11, wherein said scorecards are sized and shaped like dollar bills.

16. The system of claim 11, wherein said parlor game comprises a billiards table.

17. A method of tracking billiards statistics and results, the method comprising: filling in a scorecard sized and shaped like a dollar bill at a location of a billiards table; feeding the scorecard into a bill acceptor assembly of an electronic dart game machine that is proximate the billiards table; scanning the filled-in scorecard with a scanner housed within the bill acceptor assembly; analyzing scanned information within the scorecard through the use of a processing unit contained within the bill acceptor assembly; transmitting analyzed information provided from the scorecard to a league operator that is remotely located from the billiards table; storing the analyzed information in a database at the league operator; using the analyzed information stored in the database to determine player and/or team statistics; transmitting the game results and statistics from the league operator to the bill acceptor assembly; and displaying the game results and statistics on a monitor proximate the parlor game.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein said filling in the scorecard comprises darkening defined areas on the scorecard.

19. The method of claim 17, wherein said filling in the scorecard comprises writing on the scorecard.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application relates to and claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/095,831, entitled “Multi-Purpose Bill Acceptor,” filed Sep. 10, 2008, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

Parlor games and other such competitive pursuits are popular in social gathering places, such as bars, taverns and bowling alleys. For example, various establishments provide dart boards, foosball, shuffle board tables, video games and the like for patrons to use. Patrons already within a particular establishment that offers competitive games for play may challenge each other in a game of darts, pool, foosball or the like. Moreover, some individuals choose to form teams with their friends to compete in leagues against other teams. As an example, various bars offer dart and/or pool leagues for patrons to enjoy.

Some games of skill are sophisticated enough to track results automatically, via electromechanical sensors and corresponding circuitry. For example, electronic dart machines and modern bowling alleys free up players from tracking their ongoing results during match play by recording all events in the background, and reporting summary results to the players at the appropriate interval, such as before the next round of game play. For instance, many bowling alleys provide automatic scoring and monitors that display updated scores during the course of games, series and even particular bowling seasons.

Other games of skill like pool typically do not offer this luxury due to the cost/benefit limitation of adding the necessary electromechanical hardware to a pool table to make automatic scoring feasible. Due to this limitation, league players typically keep score manually on score sheets of paper during league match play. These results are then left on location for later collection and manual processing by a League operator hosting the league.

After processing, league results and standings may be mailed back to each participating location for display in a designated viewing area. The manual processing of league results and statistics turnaround time is not convenient for league participants. While dart league players are typically able to come back to the location the next day to view their standings on a monitor on the dart board for the whole league, pool league players often have to wait several days or up to a week to visit the location again to be able to view league wide standings.

One method of speeding up the pool league statistics process includes players entering their own scores, such as disclosed in U.S. application Ser. No. 11/953,315, entitled “System and Method for Communicating and Compiling Game Play Information,” filed Dec. 10, 2007, and U.S. application Ser. No. 11/965,306, entitled “System and Method for Controlling the Operation of an Entertainment Unit,” filed Dec. 27, 2007, both of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entireties.

Another method includes players filling in score sheets designed like SAT test entry sheets. In this case, players mark in the appropriate areas of a predesigned paper form with a number 2 pencil, and then fax the sheets to the league operator for processing. This process eliminates the necessity of the League operator from collecting score sheets from each location, thereby removing that amount of time from the complete processing cycle. The operator at the fax destination then receives and interprets form entries and translates the league results input into the required database format.

However, the faxing approach generally requires a fax machine available for players' use, or a designated team member to take the responsibility to locate a fax machine in relation to the location that is utilized to make the fax delivery to the league operator. If a fax machine is not available at the location, once again, additional time is added to the league results processing cycle.

SUMMARY OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

Certain embodiments of the present invention provide a method of tracking parlor game statistics and results. The method includes filling in a scorecard at a location of a parlor game, feeding the scorecard into a bill acceptor assembly, scanning the filled-in scorecard with a scanner housed within the bill acceptor assembly, analyzing scanned information within the scorecard through the use of a processing unit, and transmitting analyzed information provided from the scorecard to a results and statistics compiling facility, such as a league operator central processing unit, that is remotely located from the parlor game.

The method may also include storing game results and statistics in a database of a memory storage unit at the results and statistics compiling facility. The method may also include transmitting the game results and statistics to the bill acceptor assembly, displaying the game results and statistics on a monitor proximate the parlor game, and selecting particular game results and statistics to be displayed on the monitor through a user interface.

The bill acceptor may be part of and/or operatively connected to an electronic dart game machine. The scorecard itself may be sized and shaped like a dollar bill, so that the bill acceptor may easily receive and accept the scorecard.

The filling in the scorecard step may include darkening defined areas, such as ovals or rectangles, on the scorecard. Alternatively, the filling in the scorecard step may include writing letters and/or numbers on the scorecard.

The parlor game may be one of various types of games. For example, the parlor game may be pool/billiards, foosball, shuffleboard, horseshoes, bean bags, rings or the like.

Certain embodiments of the present invention provide a system of tracking parlor game statistics and results. The system may include a parlor game, an electronic dart game machine and a league operator processing unit.

The parlor game and electronic dart game machine may both located at a first geographic location, such as a bar, restaurant, bowling alley or the like. The electronic dart game machine is separate and distinct from the parlor game. For example, the parlor game may include a billiards/pool table.

The electronic dart game machine includes a bill acceptor assembly having a processor in communication with a scanner. The bill acceptor is configured to receive, accept and discern between dollar bills and scorecards for the parlor game. The bill acceptor scans and analyzes the scorecards for game results related to the parlor game.

The league operator processing unit is in bi-directional communication with the bill acceptor assembly of the electronic dart game machine. The league operator processing unit is in a second geographic location that is separate and distinct from the first location. For example, the league operator processing unit may be located at a “hub” that is remotely located (i.e., miles away) from the location of the parlor game and various other parlor game locations. The league operator processing unit receives the game results from the bill acceptor assembly. The league operator processing unit stores the game results and compiles statistics based on the game results received from the bill acceptor assembly. The league operator processing unit transmits the statistics to the bill acceptor assembly.

Certain embodiments of the present invention provide a method of tracking billiards statistics and results. The method may include (a) filling in a scorecard sized and shaped like a dollar bill at a location of a billiards table, (b) feeding the scorecard into a bill acceptor assembly of an electronic dart game machine that is proximate the billiards table, (c) scanning the filled-in scorecard with a scanner housed within the bill acceptor assembly, (d) analyzing scanned information within the scorecard through the use of a processing unit contained within the bill acceptor assembly, (e) transmitting analyzed information provided from the scorecard to a league operator that is remotely located from the billiards table, (f) storing the analyzed information in a database at the league operator, (g) using the analyzed information stored in the database to determine player and/or team statistics, (h) transmitting the game results and statistics from the league operator to the bill acceptor assembly, and (i) displaying the game results and statistics on a monitor proximate the parlor game.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a simplified representation of a parlor game system according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a schematic diagram of a bill acceptor assembly according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates a top view of a parlor game scorecard, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates a top view of a parlor game scorecard with results filled in, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 illustrates a top view of a scorecard, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 illustrates a top view of a scorecard, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 illustrates a top view of a scorecard, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 illustrates a top view of a scorecard, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 illustrates a front view of an electronic dart game machine, according to an embodiment of the present invention.

The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of certain embodiments of the present invention, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there are shown in the drawings, certain embodiments. It should be understood, however, that the present invention is not limited to the arrangements and instrumentalities shown in the attached drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention provide an improved system and method of tracking league statistics, particularly for pool leagues. The system and method generally speed up results collection, processing and viewing for pool league players.

Embodiments of the present invention provide a system and method that includes a scanning device operably connected to, or part of, a processing unit. Both the scanning device and the processing unit may be located within a gaming device or in close proximity thereto, such as shown and described in U.S. application Ser. No. 11/940,372, entitled “Improved Parlor Game,” filed Nov. 15, 2007, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. For example, the player may fill out the scoring forms and input them into a bill acceptor, which is adapted to receive such forms in addition to currency, such as may be found on the Galaxy, Galaxy II and Black Widow dart game machines, manufactured by Arachnid, Inc. The forms are received by the bill acceptor and passed through a scanning device, which reads and interprets the scoring information.

As noted above, one such device commonly found in locations today is a bill acceptor/validator. The bill acceptors are configured to accept and validate paper currency in exchange for a product or service. The user inserts a bill into the device, which grabs the bill, scans it for validity, and sends a corresponding I/O signal to its output. After a bill is validated, it is stacked in a bill cassette or cashbox for easy removal. Bill acceptor/validators generally determine that a bill is not a counterfeit and its correct denomination.

Embodiments of the present invention leverage the scanning technology built into bill acceptor/validators in such a way that acceptable form-factor, predesigned, customized league score sheets can be filled in by team players during a league match, and then inserted into a bill acceptor in the location for scanning, storing and transferring league results to the League operator for rapid processing.

The bill acceptor/validator used is specially adapted for this purpose, and resides in a designated entry type of kiosk, such as a bill acceptor equipped dart machine. Thus, after league play, a filled-in bill acceptor suitable score card may be inserted into a bill acceptor equipped dart machine during attract mode. Detecting that a score card and not a valid bill has been inserted, software within the device, such as an electronic dart game machine, launches a score card processing task to interpret/translate the score card entries into a suitable format for storage and temporary summarizing.

The temporary summary, for example, may total the league results for each team that played the match to announce a winner, or acknowledge outstanding accomplishments, etc. Later, the stored file is transferred to the league operator via a network/modem, etc. At the league operator facility, all league match files received during that time frame are processed and summarized for league wide reporting. The results are then transferred (downloaded, emailed, etc.) to all league locations for viewing by league players the next day. Consequently, processing of score sheets and statistical summaries are efficiently processed.

Embodiments of the present invention utilize bill acceptors to scan league score sheets to greatly speed up the processing and viewing of league results, which is a novel and nonobvious method of scoring and processing league information.

FIG. 1 illustrates a simplified representation of a parlor game system 10 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The system includes a parlor game 12, such as a pool table, a bill acceptor assembly 14, a monitor 16 and a league operator central processing unit (CPU) 18 that is remotely located from the location of the parlor game 12. Optionally, the league operator (CPU) may be in the same geographic location as the parlor game 12. In either case, the bill acceptor assembly 14 communicates in a bidirectional manner with the league operator CPU 18. Game results are communicated from the bill acceptor assembly 14 to the league operator CPU 18. The league operator CPU 18 compiles and organizes the game results into statistics that are transmitted back to the bill acceptor assembly 14, which may then display the game results and team and individual statistics on the monitor 16 through a wired or wireless connection. Alternatively, a network configuration such as shown and described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,114,155, entitled “System for Automatic Collection and Distribution of Player Statistics for Electronic Dart Games,” which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety, may be used.

The parlor game 12, such as the pool table shown in FIG. 1, is supported by a floor 20, and the bill acceptor assembly 14 may be mounted on a wall 22 of the establishment in which the parlor game 12 resides. Optionally, the bill acceptor assembly 14 may be an upright, stand-alone unit supported by the floor 20, or mounted to the underside of the parlor game 12. Also, alternatively, the bill acceptor assembly 14 may be part of another parlor game, such as an electronic dart machine. That is, the bill acceptor assembly 14 may be an integral part of an electronic dart machine housing.

The parlor game 12 may be a standard pool table including a felt playing surface (not shown) bounded by rails 24 (or bumpers) and pockets 26. Alternatively, the parlor game 12 may be a foosball table, shuffleboard table or the like.

FIG. 2 illustrates a schematic diagram of the bill acceptor assembly 14. The bill acceptor assembly 14 includes a main body 28 housing a central processing unit 30 therein. The central processing unit (CPU) 30 is electrically connected to a bill acceptor 32, an optional coin acceptor 34 and a scanner 35. The scanner 35 scans bills and scorecards received through the bill acceptor 32. If the bill acceptor assembly 14 is part of an electronic game machine, the bill acceptor 14 may also include a play activation button 36 electronically connected to the CPU 30. The bill acceptor assembly 14 may also include a transmitting antenna 38 connected to the CPU 30 through internal wiring 40. The transmitting antenna 38 may be used to bi-directionally communicate with the league operator CPU 18, shown in FIG. 1. However, instead of using the transmitting antenna 38, the CPU 30 may simply communicate with the league operator CPU 18 through a modem, DSL connection or various other broadband type connections used for Internet communication. While the transmitting antenna 38 is shown external to the main body 28, the transmitting antenna 38 may be housed within the main body 28.

FIG. 3 illustrates a top view of a parlor game scorecard 50, according to an embodiment of the present invention. The scorecard 50 may be formed of paper and sized the same as standard currency, such as a U.S. dollar bill. The scorecard 50 includes a leading end 52 integrally connected to a results area 54, which is, in turn, integrally connected to a league area 56. The leading end 52 includes instructions with respect to proper insertion of the scorecard 50 into the bill acceptor assembly 14 (shown in FIGS. 1 and 2). The results area 54 includes score areas for various games for players to fill in, depending on the results of various contests. As shown in FIG. 3, the scorecard 50 is configured for pool games, but various other scorecards may be used for various other parlor games, such as foosball and shuffle board. The league area 56 includes locations for players to enter team and captain information, which the CPU 30 and/or the league operator CPU 18 (shown in FIG. 1) may later discern.

In operation, during a parlor game, players fill in the scorecard 50 according to game results. For example, players may use a number 2 pencil or specialized marker to completely fill in particular ovals depending on game play. FIG. 4 illustrates a top view of the parlor game scorecard 50 with results filled in, according to an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 4, the results of Games 1-10 have been entered on the scorecard 50. Once all games are complete, the scorecard 50 may be inserted into the bill acceptor assembly 14, shown in FIGS. 1-2.

Referring to FIGS. 1-4, the completed scorecard 50 shown in FIG. 4 is inserted into the bill acceptor 32 of the assembly 14. The leading end 52 of the scorecard 50 directs the player to insert the scorecard 50 into the bill acceptor 32 in the proper fashion. Because the scorecard 50 is shaped and sized like a normal bill, the bill acceptor 32 is able to accept and receive the scorecard 50. Optionally, the assembly 14 may include a separate and distinct scorecard acceptor that may accept and receive scorecards of varying shapes and sizes.

Once the bill acceptor 32 receives the scorecard 50, the scanner 35 scans the scorecard 50 and the CPU 30 analyzes the scanned information from the scanner 35. The CPU 30 is programmed to discern between bills and scorecards, as noted above. That is, the CPU 30 is able to discern the difference between bills and scorecards through the scanned information received from the scanner 35. The scanning process may include signature recognition, OCR and/or OMR (Optical Character Recognition, Optical Mark Recognition).

Before sending the results to the league operator CPU 18, the CPU 30 may display the game results on the monitor 16 for verification. If correct, the player may be prompted to engage a submit button located on an interface 60, such as a keyboard or touchscreen. If incorrect, the player may correct the inaccuracies through the interface 60 and then submit the results.

The monitor 16 may simply reproduce an image of the scorecard itself. Optionally, the CPU 30 may present the game results in a player-friendly format (for example, in larger text and easy-to-read terminology, as opposed to codes and numbers) on the monitor 16. In this manner, the players may easily compare and contrast the game results on the monitor 16 to those filled in on the scorecard.

Once the CPU 30 is finished scanning the scorecard, the CPU 30 directs the bill acceptor 32 to return the scorecard to the player. Optionally, the completed scorecard may be stacked and/or otherwise stored within the assembly 14.

The CPU 30 then transmits the results of the games, as filled in on the scorecard 50, to the league operator CPU 18. The league operator CPU 18 logs the game results and compiles team and player statistics and stores them in a central database within the league operator CPU 18. The league operator CPU 18 then transmits the results and statistics back to the assembly 14, which may then display the results and statistics on the monitor 16 for the players to view. The assembly 14 may also include or be connected to the interface 60, such as a keyboard or touchscreen, that allows players to toggle through and select various game results and team and player statistics.

FIG. 5 illustrates a top view of a scorecard 70, according to an embodiment of the present invention. The scorecard 70 includes a league ID field 72, a team ID field 74, a captain number field 76 and a sub license field 78. In contrast to the scorecard 50 that is configured to have players write in team names, captain names, etc., that are subsequently discerned by the CPU 30 and/or the league operator CPU 18, the various fields 72, 74, 76 and 78 are configured to have players fill in ovals, similar to game result ovals in the game field 80. In this manner, the CPU 30 and league operator CPU 18 are able to discern team and league identities through filled in oval patterns, as opposed to scanning and recognizing handwriting.

FIG. 6 illustrates a top view of a scorecard 82, according to an embodiment of the present invention. The scorecard 82 is similar to the scorecard 70, except that the league ID field 84 includes a unique bar code 86 that identifies a particular league, thereby providing a quick and efficient way of identifying the league that minimizes human error (for example, if a user filled in the league ID wrong). The CPU 30 and/or the league operator CPU 18 is configured to recognize the particular league through the unique bar code 86.

FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate top views of home and away scorecards 88 and 90, respectively, according to an embodiment of the present invention. Optionally, the scorecards 88 and 90 may be different sides of the same scorecard. The scorecards 88 and 90 are configured so that players may write in league, player and result info, instead of merely filling in ovals. The CPU 30 and/or the league operator CPU 18 is configured to be able to recognize and discern the filled-in information.

Various scorecards may be used. League operators may provide custom score sheets designed for various games and provide them in pad form to league locations. Both sides of the scorecards may be used. The players may visit a designated website to print out predesigned forms. The forms may include the appropriate information already coded in place. For example, league name, team name, shooting order, etc. These preceded areas can be similar in appearance to what the users will write, or darken in, or they can be barcodes. Filled-in score sheets may be retained in the bill storage compartment, or returned to the player once validated.

FIG. 9 illustrates a front view of an electronic dart game machine 100, according to an embodiment of the present invention. The dart game machine 100 may include the bill acceptor assembly 14, shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The dart game machine 100 may include one or more dart boards 104, 106, a monitor 108, and a user interface 1 10. The user interface 110 may be used to select various modes, such as dart play or game result transmission of separate and distinct parlor games, as described above.

When game result transmission is selected, a user is prompted to insert a parlor game scorecard into the bill acceptor assembly 14, as described above. The game results are then transmitted to the league operator CPU 18 (shown in FIG. 1), which may then transmit game results and statistics back to the bill acceptor assembly 14. The results and statistics may then be displayed on the monitor 108. The players may then select various statistical categories through the user interface 110.

As detailed above, embodiments of the present invention provide an improved system and method of scoring and tracking parlor game results.

While the invention has been described with reference to certain embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from its scope. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiments disclosed, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims.