Title:
METHODS AND APPARATUSES FOR FACILITATING USER VERIFICATION
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Methods and apparatuses are provided for facilitating user verification. A method may include accessing an image captured of a user of a computing device being used by a plurality of players to play a multiplayer game. The method may further include determining based at least in part on the image whether the user is a player from among the plurality of players that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game. The method may additionally include granting game play privileges to the user when it is determined that the user is the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game. The method may also include denying the user game play privileges when it is determined that the user is not the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game. Corresponding apparatuses are also provided.



Inventors:
Steeves, Gregory John Paul (London, GB)
Application Number:
12/726831
Publication Date:
09/22/2011
Filing Date:
03/18/2010
Assignee:
Nokia Corporation
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HUANG, JAY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Nokia Corporation and Alston & Bird LLP (Charlotte, NC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method comprising: accessing an image captured of a user of a computing device being used by a plurality of players to play a multiplayer game; determining, by verification circuitry, based at least in part on the image whether the user is a player from among the plurality of players that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game; granting game play privileges to the user when it is determined that the user is the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game; and denying the user game play privileges when it is determined that the user is not the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game.

2. The method according to claim 1, wherein determining whether the user is a player presently authorized to perform an action in the game comprises comparing the image of the user to a reference image for the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game.

3. The method according to claim 2, wherein the image captured of the user comprises an image of at least a portion of the user's face and the reference image comprises an image of at least a portion of the face of the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game, and wherein comparing the image of the user to the reference image comprises using a face recognition algorithm.

4. The method according to claim 2, further comprising: registering each of the plurality of players in response to initiation of the game, wherein registering a player comprises obtaining a reference image captured of the player.

5. The method according to claim 1, wherein the multiplayer game comprises a turn-based multiplayer game, and wherein determining whether the user is a player presently authorized to perform an action in the game comprises determining whether the user is a player having a present turn in the game.

6. The method according to claim 1, wherein: determining whether the user is the player that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game comprises determining whether the user is the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game prior to display of personal game data privileged to the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game; granting game play privileges to the user comprises causing display of the personal game data; and denying the user game play privileges comprises not displaying the personal game data.

7. The method according to claim 1, further comprising: causing display of an indication of the player that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game; determining an assertion that the user of the computing device is the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game; and causing capture of the image of the user of the computing device in response to determining the assertion.

8. An apparatus comprising at least one processor and at least one memory storing computer program code, wherein the at least one memory and stored computer program code are configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus to at least: access an image captured of a user of a computing device being used by a plurality of players to play a multiplayer game; determine based at least in part on the image whether the user is a player from among the plurality of players that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game; grant game play privileges to the user when it is determined that the user is the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game; and deny the user game play privileges when it is determined that the user is not the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game.

9. The apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the at least one memory and stored computer program code are configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus to determine whether the user is a player presently authorized to perform an action in the game by comparing the image of the user to a reference image for the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game.

10. The apparatus according to claim 9, wherein the image captured of the user comprises an image of at least a portion of the user's face and the reference image comprises an image of at least a portion of the face of the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game, and wherein the at least one memory and stored computer program code are configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus to compare the image of the user to the reference image by using a face recognition algorithm.

11. The apparatus according to claim 9, wherein the at least one memory and stored computer program code are configured, with the at least one processor, to further cause the apparatus to register each of the plurality of players in response to initiation of the game, wherein registering a player comprises obtaining a reference image captured of the player.

12. The apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the multiplayer game comprises a turn-based multiplayer game, and wherein the at least one memory and stored computer program code are configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus to determine whether the user is a player presently authorized to perform an action in the game by determining whether the user is a player having a present turn in the game.

13. The apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the at least one memory and stored computer program code are configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus to: determine whether the user is the player that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game prior to display of personal game data privileged to the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game; grant game play privileges to the user by causing display of the personal game data; and deny the user game play privileges by not displaying the personal game data.

14. The apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the apparatus comprises the computing device being used to play the game.

15. The apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the computing device being used to play the game is remote from the apparatus.

16. The apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the apparatus comprises or is embodied on a mobile phone, the mobile phone comprising user interface circuitry and user interface software stored on one or more of the at least one memory; wherein the user interface circuitry and user interface software are configured to: facilitate user control of at least some functions of the mobile phone through use of a display; and cause at least a portion of a user interface of the mobile phone to be displayed on the display to facilitate user control of at least some functions of the mobile phone.

17. A computer program product comprising at least one computer-readable storage medium having computer-readable program instructions stored therein, the computer-readable program instructions comprising: program instructions configured to access an image captured of a user of a computing device being used by a plurality of players to play a multiplayer game; program instructions configured to determine based at least in part on the image whether the user is a player from among the plurality of players that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game; program instructions configured to grant game play privileges to the user when it is determined that the user is the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game; and program instructions configured to deny the user game play privileges when it is determined that the user is not the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game.

18. The computer program product according to claim 17, wherein the program instructions configured to determine whether the user is a player presently authorized to perform an action in the game comprise program instructions configured to use a face recognition algorithm to compare the image of the user to a reference image for the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game.

19. The computer program product according to claim 17, wherein the multiplayer game comprises a turn-based multiplayer game, and wherein the program instructions configured to determine whether the user is a player presently authorized to perform an action in the game comprise program instructions configured to determine whether the user is a player having a present turn in the game.

20. The computer program product according to claim 17, wherein: the program instructions configured to determine whether the user is the player that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game comprise program instructions configured to determine whether the user is the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game prior to display of personal game data privileged to the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game; the program instructions configured to grant game play privileges to the user comprise program instructions configured to cause display of the personal game data; and the program instructions configured to deny the user game play privileges comprise program instructions configured to not display the personal game data.

Description:

TECHNOLOGICAL FIELD

Embodiments of the present invention relate generally to computer security technology and, more particularly, relate to methods and apparatuses for facilitating user verification.

BACKGROUND

The modern computing era has brought about a tremendous expansion in computing power as well as increased affordability of computing devices. This expansion in computing power has led to a reduction in the size of computing devices and given rise to a new generation of mobile devices that are capable of performing functionality that only a few years ago required processing power provided only by the most advanced desktop computers. Consequently, mobile computing devices having a small form factor have become ubiquitous and are used for execution of a wide range of applications.

One application which mobile computing devices are commonly used for is electronic gaming. In this regard, many modern mobile computing devices have sufficient computing power and display resolution to provide users with an engaging and satisfying gaming experience. Additionally, the portability of mobile computing devices provides users with a convenient portable gaming platform. In some instances, multiple users may share a single mobile computing device to engage in playing a multiplayer game.

BRIEF SUMMARY

Methods, apparatuses, and computer program products are herein provided for facilitating user verification. Systems, methods, apparatuses, and computer program products in accordance with various embodiments may provide several advantages to computing devices and computing device users. Some example embodiments provide for verification of a user of a computing device being used by a plurality of players to play a multiplayer game. In this regard, some example embodiments verify whether a user of a computing device is the player presently authorized to perform an action in a multiplayer game being played on the computing device. Such embodiments may be particularly beneficial in turn-based multiplayer games wherein some example embodiments of the invention verify that a user of a computing device is the player having a current turn in the game. Accordingly, embodiments of the invention may be used to enforce player turns in a turn-based multiplayer game. Some example embodiments hide personal game data privileged to a particular player until the user of the computing device has been verified to be the player privy to the privileged personal game data. Accordingly, sensitive game data may be hidden from unauthorized players such that a player may be prevented from gaining an unfair advantage by viewing privileged game data of another player.

In a first example embodiment, a method is provided, which comprises accessing an image captured of a user of a computing device being used by a plurality of players to play a multiplayer game. The method of this embodiment further comprises determining based at least in part on the image whether the user is a player from among the plurality of players that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game. The method of this embodiment additionally comprises granting game play privileges to the user when it is determined that the user is the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game. The method of this embodiment also comprises denying the user game play privileges when it is determined that the user is not the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game.

In another example embodiment, an apparatus is provided. The apparatus of this embodiment comprises at least one processor and at least one memory storing computer program code, wherein the at least one memory and stored computer program code are configured, with the at least one processor, to cause the apparatus to at least access an image captured of a user of a computing device being used by a plurality of players to play a multiplayer game. The at least one memory and stored computer program code are configured, with the at least one processor, to further cause the apparatus of this embodiment to determine based at least in part on the image whether the user is a player from among the plurality of players that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game. The at least one memory and stored computer program code are configured, with the at least one processor, to additionally cause the apparatus of this embodiment to grant game play privileges to the user when it is determined that the user is the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game. The at least one memory and stored computer program code are configured, with the at least one processor, to also cause the apparatus of this embodiment to deny the user game play privileges when it is determined that the user is not the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game.

In another example embodiment, a computer program product is provided. The computer program product of this embodiment includes at least one computer-readable storage medium having computer-readable program instructions stored therein. The program instructions of this embodiment comprise program instructions configured to access an image captured of a user of a computing device being used by a plurality of players to play a multiplayer game. The program instructions of this embodiment further comprise program instructions configured to determine based at least in part on the image whether the user is a player from among the plurality of players that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game. The program instructions of this embodiment additionally comprise program instructions configured to grant game play privileges to the user when it is determined that the user is the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game. The program instructions of this embodiment also comprise program instructions configured to deny the user game play privileges when it is determined that the user is not the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game.

In another example embodiment, a computer-readable storage medium carrying computer-readable program instructions is provided. The computer-readable program instructions of this embodiment comprise program instructions configured to access an image captured of a user of a computing device being used by a plurality of players to play a multiplayer game. The computer-readable program instructions of this embodiment further comprise program instructions configured to determine based at least in part on the image whether the user is a player from among the plurality of players that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game. The computer-readable program instructions of this embodiment additionally comprise program instructions configured to grant game play privileges to the user when it is determined that the user is the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game. The computer-readable program instructions of this embodiment also comprise program instructions configured to deny the user game play privileges when it is determined that the user is not the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game.

In another example embodiment, an apparatus is provided that comprises means for accessing an image captured of a user of a computing device being used by a plurality of players to play a multiplayer game. The apparatus of this embodiment further comprises means for determining based at least in part on the image whether the user is a player from among the plurality of players that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game. The apparatus of this embodiment additionally comprises means for granting game play privileges to the user when it is determined that the user is the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game. The apparatus of this embodiment also comprises means for denying the user game play privileges when it is determined that the user is not the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game.

The above summary is provided merely for purposes of summarizing some example embodiments of the invention so as to provide a basic understanding of some aspects of the invention. Accordingly, it will be appreciated that the above described example embodiments are merely examples and should not be construed to narrow the scope or spirit of the invention in any way. It will be appreciated that the scope of the invention encompasses many potential embodiments, some of which will be further described below, in addition to those here summarized.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING(S)

Having thus described embodiments of the invention in general terms, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, and wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates a block diagram of an apparatus for facilitating user verification according to an example embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic block diagram of a mobile terminal according to an example embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates a system for facilitating user verification according to an example embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 illustrates a system for facilitating user verification according to an example embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 5 illustrates a flowchart according to an example method for facilitating user verification according to an example embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Some embodiments of the present invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which some, but not all embodiments of the invention are shown. Indeed, the invention may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will satisfy applicable legal requirements. Like reference numerals refer to like elements throughout.

As used herein, the term ‘circuitry’ refers to (a) hardware-only circuit implementations (e.g., implementations in analog circuitry and/or digital circuitry); (b) combinations of circuits and computer program product(s) comprising software and/or firmware instructions stored on one or more computer readable memories that work together to cause an apparatus to perform one or more functions described herein; and (c) circuits, such as, for example, a microprocessor(s) or a portion of a microprocessor(s), that require software or firmware for operation even if the software or firmware is not physically present. This definition of ‘circuitry’ applies to all uses of this term herein, including in any claims. As a further example, as used herein, the term ‘circuitry’ also includes an implementation comprising one or more processors and/or portion(s) thereof and accompanying software and/or firmware. As another example, the term ‘circuitry’ as used herein also includes, for example, a baseband integrated circuit or applications processor integrated circuit for a mobile phone or a similar integrated circuit in a server, a cellular network device, other network device, and/or other computing device.

FIG. 1 illustrates a block diagram of a verification apparatus 102 for facilitating user verification according to an example embodiment of the present invention. It will be appreciated that the verification apparatus 102 is provided as an example of one embodiment of the invention and should not be construed to narrow the scope or spirit of the invention in any way. In this regard, the scope of the disclosure encompasses many potential embodiments in addition to those illustrated and described herein. As such, while FIG. 1 illustrates one example of a configuration of a verification apparatus for facilitating user verification, numerous other configurations may also be used to implement embodiments of the present invention.

The verification apparatus 102 may be embodied as a desktop computer, laptop computer, mobile terminal, mobile computer, mobile phone, mobile communication device, mobile gaming device, gaming device, one or more servers, one or more network nodes, digital camera/camcorder, audio/video player, television device, radio receiver, digital video recorder, positioning device, any combination thereof, and/or the like. In an example embodiment, the verification apparatus 102 is embodied as a mobile terminal, such as that illustrated in FIG. 2.

In this regard, FIG. 2 illustrates a block diagram of a mobile terminal 10 representative of one embodiment of a verification apparatus 102. It should be understood, however, that the mobile terminal 10 illustrated and hereinafter described is merely illustrative of one type of verification apparatus 102 that may implement and/or benefit from embodiments of the present invention and, therefore, should not be taken to limit the scope of the present invention. While several embodiments of the electronic device are illustrated and will be hereinafter described for purposes of example, other types of electronic devices, such as mobile telephones, mobile computers, portable digital assistants (PDAs), pagers, laptop computers, desktop computers, gaming devices, televisions, and other types of electronic systems, may employ embodiments of the present invention.

As shown, the mobile terminal 10 may include an antenna 12 (or multiple antennas 12) in communication with a transmitter 14 and a receiver 16. The mobile terminal 10 may also include a processor 20 configured to provide signals to and receive signals from the transmitter and receiver, respectively. The processor 20 may, for example, be embodied as various means including circuitry, one or more microprocessors with accompanying digital signal processor(s), one or more processor(s) without an accompanying digital signal processor, one or more coprocessors, one or more multi-core processors, one or more controllers, processing circuitry, one or more computers, various other processing elements including integrated circuits such as, for example, an ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) or FPGA (field programmable gate array), or some combination thereof. Accordingly, although illustrated in FIG. 2 as a single processor, in some embodiments the processor 20 comprises a plurality of processors. These signals sent and received by the processor 20 may include signaling information in accordance with an air interface standard of an applicable cellular system, and/or any number of different wireline or wireless networking techniques, comprising but not limited to Wireless-Fidelity (Wi-Fi), wireless local access network (WLAN) techniques such as Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11, 802.16, and/or the like. In addition, these signals may include speech data, user generated data, user requested data, and/or the like. In this regard, the mobile terminal may be capable of operating with one or more air interface standards, communication protocols, modulation types, access types, and/or the like. More particularly, the mobile terminal may be capable of operating in accordance with various first generation (1G), second generation (2G), 2.5G, third-generation (3G) communication protocols, fourth-generation (4G) communication protocols, Internet Protocol Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) communication protocols (e.g., session initiation protocol (SIP)), and/or the like. For example, the mobile terminal may be capable of operating in accordance with 2G wireless communication protocols IS-136 (Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA)), Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), IS-95 (Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA)), and/or the like. Also, for example, the mobile terminal may be capable of operating in accordance with 2.5G wireless communication protocols General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE), and/or the like. Further, for example, the mobile terminal may be capable of operating in accordance with 3G wireless communication protocols such as Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), Code Division Multiple Access 2000 (CDMA2000), Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA), Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (TD-SCDMA), and/or the like. The mobile terminal may be additionally capable of operating in accordance with 3.9G wireless communication protocols such as Long Term Evolution (LTE) or Evolved Universal Terrestrial Radio Access Network (E-UTRAN) and/or the like. Additionally, for example, the mobile terminal may be capable of operating in accordance with fourth-generation (4G) wireless communication protocols and/or the like as well as similar wireless communication protocols that may be developed in the future.

Some Narrow-band Advanced Mobile Phone System (NAMPS), as well as Total Access Communication System (TACS), mobile terminals may also benefit from embodiments of this invention, as should dual or higher mode phones (e.g., digital/analog or TDMA/CDMA/analog phones). Additionally, the mobile terminal 10 may be capable of operating according to Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) or Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) protocols.

It is understood that the processor 20 may comprise circuitry for implementing audio/video and logic functions of the mobile terminal 10. For example, the processor 20 may comprise a digital signal processor device, a microprocessor device, an analog-to-digital converter, a digital-to-analog converter, and/or the like. Control and signal processing functions of the mobile terminal may be allocated between these devices according to their respective capabilities. The processor may additionally comprise an internal voice coder (VC) 20a, an internal data modem (DM) 20b, and/or the like. Further, the processor may comprise functionality to operate one or more software programs, which may be stored in memory. For example, the processor 20 may be capable of operating a connectivity program, such as a web browser. The connectivity program may allow the mobile terminal 10 to transmit and receive web content, such as location-based content, according to a protocol, such as Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), and/or the like. The mobile terminal 10 may be capable of using a Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) to transmit and receive web content across the internet or other networks.

The mobile terminal 10 may also comprise a user interface including, for example, an earphone or speaker 24, a ringer 22, a microphone 26, a display 28, a user input interface, and/or the like, which may be operationally coupled to the processor 20. In this regard, the processor 20 may comprise user interface circuitry configured to control at least some functions of one or more elements of the user interface, such as, for example, the speaker 24, the ringer 22, the microphone 26, the display 28, and/or the like. The processor 20 and/or user interface circuitry comprising the processor 20 may be configured to control one or more functions of one or more elements of the user interface through computer program instructions (e.g., software and/or firmware) stored on a memory accessible to the processor 20 (e.g., volatile memory 40, non-volatile memory 42, and/or the like). Although not shown, the mobile terminal may comprise a battery for powering various circuits related to the mobile terminal, for example, a circuit to provide mechanical vibration as a detectable output. The user input interface may comprise devices allowing the mobile terminal to receive data, such as a keypad 30, a touch display (not shown), a joystick (not shown), and/or other input device. In embodiments including a keypad, the keypad may comprise numeric (0-9) and related keys (#, *), and/or other keys for operating the mobile terminal.

As shown in FIG. 2, the mobile terminal 10 may also include one or more means for sharing and/or obtaining data. For example, the mobile terminal may comprise a short-range radio frequency (RF) transceiver and/or interrogator 64 so data may be shared with and/or obtained from electronic devices in accordance with RF techniques. The mobile terminal may comprise other short-range transceivers, such as, for example, an infrared (IR) transceiver 66, a Bluetooth™ (BT) transceiver 68 operating using Bluetooth™ brand wireless technology developed by the Bluetooth™ Special Interest Group, a wireless universal serial bus (USB) transceiver 70 and/or the like. The Bluetooth™ transceiver 68 may be capable of operating according to ultra-low power Bluetooth™ technology (e.g., Wibree™) radio standards. In this regard, the mobile terminal 10 and, in particular, the short-range transceiver may be capable of transmitting data to and/or receiving data from electronic devices within a proximity of the mobile terminal, such as within 10 meters, for example. Although not shown, the mobile terminal may be capable of transmitting and/or receiving data from electronic devices according to various wireless networking techniques, including Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi), WLAN techniques such as IEEE 802.11 techniques, IEEE 802.15 techniques, IEEE 802.16 techniques, and/or the like.

The mobile terminal 10 may include a media capturing element, such as a camera, video and/or audio module, in communication with the processor 20. The media capturing element may comprise any means for capturing an image, video and/or audio for storage, display or transmission. For example, in an example embodiment in which the media capturing element comprises camera circuitry 36, the camera circuitry 36 may include a digital camera configured to form a digital image file from a captured image. In addition, the digital camera of the camera circuitry 36 may be configured to capture a video clip. As such, the camera circuitry 36 may include all hardware, such as a lens or other optical component(s), and software necessary for creating a digital image file from a captured image as well as a digital video file from a captured video clip. Alternatively, the camera circuitry 36 may include only the hardware needed to view an image, while a memory device of the mobile terminal 10 stores instructions for execution by the processor 20 in the form of software necessary to create a digital image file from a captured image. As yet another alternative, an object or objects within a field of view of the camera circuitry 36 may be displayed on the display 28 of the mobile terminal 10 to illustrate a view of an image currently displayed which may be captured if desired by the user. As such, a captured image may, for example, comprise an image captured by the camera circuitry 36 and stored in an image file. As another example, a captured image may comprise an object or objects currently displayed by a display or viewfinder of the mobile terminal 10, but not necessarily stored in an image file. In an example embodiment, the camera circuitry 36 may further include a processing element such as a co-processor configured to assist the processor 20 in processing image data and an encoder and/or decoder for compressing and/or decompressing image data. The encoder and/or decoder may encode and/or decode according to, for example, a joint photographic experts group (JPEG) standard, a moving picture experts group (MPEG) standard, or other format.

The mobile terminal 10 may comprise memory, such as a subscriber identity module (SIM) 38, a removable user identity module (R-UIM), and/or the like, which may store information elements related to a mobile subscriber. In addition to the SIM, the mobile terminal may comprise other removable and/or fixed memory. The mobile terminal 10 may include volatile memory 40 and/or non-volatile memory 42. For example, volatile memory 40 may include Random Access Memory (RAM) including dynamic and/or static RAM, on-chip or off-chip cache memory, and/or the like. Non-volatile memory 42, which may be embedded and/or removable, may include, for example, read-only memory, flash memory, magnetic storage devices (e.g., hard disks, floppy disk drives, magnetic tape, etc.), optical disc drives and/or media, non-volatile random access memory (NVRAM), and/or the like. Like volatile memory 40 non-volatile memory 42 may include a cache area for temporary storage of data. The memories may store one or more software programs, instructions, pieces of information, data, and/or the like which may be used by the mobile terminal for performing functions of the mobile terminal. For example, the memories may comprise an identifier, such as an international mobile equipment identification (IMEI) code, capable of uniquely identifying the mobile terminal 10.

Returning to FIG. 1, in an example embodiment, the verification apparatus 102 includes various means for performing the various functions herein described. These means may comprise one or more of a processor 110, memory 112, communication interface 114, user interface 116, image capture circuitry 118, or verification circuitry 120. The means of the verification apparatus 102 as described herein may be embodied as, for example, circuitry, hardware elements (e.g., a suitably programmed processor, combinational logic circuit, and/or the like), a computer program product comprising computer-readable program instructions (e.g., software or firmware) stored on a computer-readable medium (e.g. memory 112) that is executable by a suitably configured processing device (e.g., the processor 110), or some combination thereof.

The processor 110 may, for example, be embodied as various means including one or more microprocessors with accompanying digital signal processor(s), one or more processor(s) without an accompanying digital signal processor, one or more coprocessors, one or more multi-core processors, one or more controllers, processing circuitry, one or more computers, various other processing elements including integrated circuits such as, for example, an ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) or FPGA (field programmable gate array), or some combination thereof. Accordingly, although illustrated in FIG. 1 as a single processor, in some embodiments the processor 110 comprises a plurality of processors. The plurality of processors may be in operative communication with each other and may be collectively configured to perform one or more functionalities of the verification apparatus 102 as described herein. The plurality of processors may be embodied on a single computing device or distributed across a plurality of computing devices collectively configured to function as the verification apparatus 102. In embodiments wherein the verification apparatus 102 is embodied as a mobile terminal 10, the processor 110 may be embodied as or comprise the processor 20. In an example embodiment, the processor 110 is configured to execute instructions stored in the memory 112 or otherwise accessible to the processor 110. These instructions, when executed by the processor 110, may cause the verification apparatus 102 to perform one or more of the functionalities of the verification apparatus 102 as described herein. As such, whether configured by hardware or software methods, or by a combination thereof, the processor 110 may comprise an entity capable of performing operations according to embodiments of the present invention while configured accordingly. Thus, for example, when the processor 110 is embodied as an ASIC, FPGA or the like, the processor 110 may comprise specifically configured hardware for conducting one or more operations described herein. Alternatively, as another example, when the processor 110 is embodied as an executor of instructions, such as may be stored in the memory 112, the instructions may specifically configure the processor 110 to perform one or more algorithms and operations described herein.

The memory 112 may comprise, for example, volatile memory, non-volatile memory, or some combination thereof. Although illustrated in FIG. 1 as a single memory, the memory 112 may comprise a plurality of memories. The plurality of memories may be embodied on a single computing device or may be distributed across a plurality of computing devices collectively configured to function as the verification apparatus 102. In various example embodiments, the memory 112 may comprise, for example, a hard disk, random access memory, cache memory, flash memory, a compact disc read only memory (CD-ROM), digital versatile disc read only memory (DVD-ROM), an optical disc, circuitry configured to store information, or some combination thereof. In embodiments wherein the verification apparatus 102 is embodied as a mobile terminal 10, the memory 112 may comprise the volatile memory 40 and/or the non-volatile memory 42. The memory 112 may be configured to store information, data, applications, instructions, or the like for enabling the verification apparatus 102 to carry out various functions in accordance with various example embodiments. For example, in at least some embodiments, the memory 112 is configured to buffer input data for processing by the processor 110. Additionally or alternatively, in at least some embodiments, the memory 112 is configured to store program instructions for execution by the processor 110. The memory 112 may store information in the form of static and/or dynamic information. The stored information may include, for example, reference images for players of a multiplayer game. This stored information may be stored and/or used by the image capture circuitry 118 and/or verification circuitry 120 during the course of performing their functionalities.

The communication interface 114 may be embodied as any device or means embodied in circuitry, hardware, a computer program product comprising computer readable program instructions stored on a computer readable medium (e.g., the memory 112) and executed by a processing device (e.g., the processor 110), or a combination thereof that is configured to receive and/or transmit data from/to another computing device. For example, the communication interface 114 may be configured to receive gaming data from a game server over a network. As another example, the communication interface 114 may be configured to receive data representing an image captured of a user of a remote user terminal (e.g., a user terminal 304) over a network. In this regard, in embodiments wherein the verification apparatus 102 comprises a server, network node, or the like, the communication interface 114 may be configured to communicate with a remote user terminal (e.g., the user terminal 304) to allow a user of and/or a game or other application implemented on the remote user terminal to access user verification functionality provided by the verification apparatus 102. In an example embodiment, the communication interface 114 is at least partially embodied as or otherwise controlled by the processor 110. In this regard, the communication interface 114 may be in communication with the processor 110, such as via a bus. The communication interface 114 may include, for example, an antenna, a transmitter, a receiver, a transceiver and/or supporting hardware or software for enabling communications with one or more remote computing devices. The communication interface 114 may be configured to receive and/or transmit data using any protocol that may be used for communications between computing devices. In this regard, the communication interface 114 may be configured to receive and/or transmit data using any protocol that may be used for transmission of data over a wireless network, wireline network, some combination thereof, or the like by which the verification apparatus 102 and one or more computing devices are in communication. The communication interface 114 may additionally be in communication with the memory 112, user interface 116, image capture circuitry 118, and/or verification circuitry 120, such as via a bus.

The user interface 116 may be in communication with the processor 110 to receive an indication of a user input and/or to provide an audible, visual, mechanical, or other output to a user. As such, the user interface 116 may include, for example, a keyboard, a mouse, a joystick, a display, a touch screen display, a microphone, a speaker, and/or other input/output mechanisms. In embodiments wherein the verification apparatus 102 is embodied as one or more servers, aspects of the user interface 116 may be reduced or the user interface 116 may even be eliminated. The user interface 116 may be in communication with the memory 112, communication interface 114, image capture circuitry 118, and/or verification circuitry 120, such as via a bus.

The image capture circuitry 118 may be embodied as various means, such as circuitry, hardware, a computer program product comprising computer readable program instructions stored on a computer readable medium (e.g., the memory 112) and executed by a processing device (e.g., the processor 110), or some combination thereof and, in one embodiment, is embodied as or otherwise controlled by the processor 110. In embodiments wherein the image capture circuitry 118 is embodied separately from the processor 110, the image capture circuitry 118 may be in communication with the processor 110. The image capture circuitry 118 may further be in communication with one or more of the memory 112, communication interface 114, user interface 116, or verification circuitry 120, such as via a bus.

The image capture circuitry 118 may comprise hardware configured to capture an image of a user of the verification apparatus 102. In this regard, the image capture circuitry 118 may comprise a camera lens and/or other optical components for capturing a digital image. As another example, the image capture circuitry 118 may comprise circuitry, hardware, a computer program product, or some combination thereof that is configured to direct the capture of an image by a separate camera module embodied on or otherwise operatively connected to the verification apparatus 102. In embodiments wherein the verification apparatus 102 is embodied as a mobile terminal 10, the image capture circuitry 118 may comprise the camera circuitry 36. In embodiments wherein the verification apparatus 102 is embodied as one or more servers or other network nodes remote from a user terminal being used by a user whose identity is to be verified, aspects of the image capture circuitry 118 may be reduced or the image capture circuitry 118 may even be eliminated. In this regard, in such embodiments the verification apparatus 102 may be configured to receive images from remote user terminals rather than directly capture images.

The verification circuitry 120 may be embodied as various means, such as circuitry, hardware, a computer program product comprising computer readable program instructions stored on a computer readable medium (e.g., the memory 112) and executed by a processing device (e.g., the processor 110), or some combination thereof and, in one embodiment, is embodied as or otherwise controlled by the processor 110. In embodiments wherein the verification circuitry 120 is embodied separately from the processor 110, the verification circuitry 120 may be in communication with the processor 110. The verification circuitry 120 may further be in communication with one or more of the memory 112, communication interface 114, user interface 116, or image capture circuitry 118, such as via a bus.

FIG. 3 illustrates a system 300 for facilitating user verification according to an example embodiment of the invention. The system 300 comprises a verification apparatus 302 and a user terminal 304 configured to communicate over the network 306. The verification apparatus 302 may, for example, comprise an embodiment of the verification apparatus 102 wherein the verification apparatus 102 is embodied as one or more servers, one or more network nodes, or the like that is configured to provide user verification services to a user and/or application (e.g., a multiplayer game) of a remote user terminal. The user terminal 304 may comprise any computing device configured to access the network 306 and communicate with the verification apparatus 302 in order to access user verification services provided by the verification apparatus 302. The user terminal 304 may, for example, be embodied as a desktop computer, laptop computer, mobile terminal, mobile computer, mobile phone, mobile communication device, mobile terminal 10, mobile gaming device, game device, digital camera/camcorder, audio/video player, television device, radio receiver, digital video recorder, positioning device, any combination thereof, and/or the like. The network 306 may comprise a wireline network, wireless network (e.g., a cellular network, wireless local area network, wireless wide area network, some combination thereof, or the like), or a combination thereof, and in one embodiment comprises the internet.

In the example system illustrated in FIG. 3, the user terminal 304 may be used by one or more users to play a game or use an application. The user terminal 304 in combination with the verification apparatus 302 may be configured to enforce user privileges related to the game being played on the user terminal 304. In this regard, the user terminal 304 may be configured to capture an image of a user of the user terminal 304 and provide the image to the verification apparatus 302 to enable the verification apparatus 302 to verify the identity of the user of the user terminal 304, such as in accordance with any of the verification methods described further herein below with respect to the verification apparatus 102. The verification apparatus 302 may provide the verification results to the user terminal 304 so that the user terminal 304 may enforce user privileges based on the verification results. Accordingly, in embodiments such as that illustrated in FIG. 3, it will be appreciated that at least some aspects of the user interface 116, verification circuitry 120, and/or image capture circuitry 118 may be embodied on the user terminal 304. Therefore, it will be appreciated that where the verification circuitry 120 is described to cause a graphical user interface, prompt, image, game data, and/or the like to be displayed, the image verification circuitry 120 may cause display on a display operably connected to the verification apparatus 102 or may cause display on a display of a remote user terminal to which data is transmitted over a network. Similarly, it will be appreciated that where the verification circuitry 120 is described to be configured to access an image captured of a user of a computing device being used to play a game, the verification circuitry 120 may be configured to access an image captured by image capture circuitry 118 of a user of the verification apparatus 102 or may be configured to access an image captured by a camera of a remote user terminal 304 that is provided to the verification apparatus 302 to facilitate verification of the user. Further, where the verification circuitry 120 is said to be configured to determine a user input and/or to make a determination based on user input, the verification circuitry 120 may be configured to make the determination based on user input to a user interface 116 of the verification apparatus 102 or may be configured to make the determination based on a user input to a remote user terminal, an indication of which is transmitted to the verification apparatus 102 over a network.

In another example embodiment of the system 300, aspects of the verification circuitry 120 may be distributed between the user terminal 304 and verification apparatus 302. In this example embodiment, the verification apparatus 302 may handle certain processing tasks required for user verification, such as implementing a face recognition algorithm for identifying a user, while actual enforcement of access permissions may be handled by the user terminal 304 based on user verification (e.g., face recognition) results determined by the verification apparatus 302 and provided to the user terminal 304.

FIG. 4 illustrates a system 400 for facilitating user verification according to an example embodiment of the invention. The system 400 comprises a verification apparatus 402 and a game server 404 configured to communicate over the network 406. The network 406 may comprise a wireline network, wireless network (e.g., a cellular network, wireless local area network, wireless wide area network, some combination thereof, or the like), or a combination thereof, and in one embodiment comprises the internet. The verification apparatus 402 may, for example, comprise an embodiment of the verification apparatus 102. The verification apparatus 402 may be configured to use game data for a game provided to the verification apparatus 402 by the game server 404 to allow a user(s) of the verification apparatus 102 to play the game on the verification apparatus. Accordingly, it will be appreciated that where a user of a verification apparatus, user terminal, or other computing device is described to be using the computing device to play a game, the game may be executed on the computing device being used to play the game or may be at least partially executed on a network server and accessed remotely by the computing device used to play the game.

Returning now to FIG. 1, some example embodiments will be described with respect to the verification apparatus 102. These example embodiments will be described within the context of multiplayer gaming on a single computing device. However, it will be appreciated that user verification in accordance with the example embodiments is not limited to usage in the context of multiplayer gaming, but can be applied to any application wherein a plurality of users are using the application and certain features or data are privileged to only a subset of the plurality of users.

At the outset of a game, players may register themselves by providing registration information to the verification apparatus 102. In this regard, the verification circuitry 120 may be configured to detect initiation of a multiplayer game and prompt players to register themselves. The verification circuitry 120 may be configured to determine the registration information and register a player based on the registration information. The registration information may comprise a reference image of the player. The reference image may comprise an image of at least a portion of a player's face and/or some other distinguishing visual feature associated with the player's person that may later be used to verify the player's identity. The registration information for a player may further comprise a name of the player. The name of the player may comprise the player's legal name, a nickname, a user handle, and/or the like and may, for example, be entered by the player via the user interface 116.

When registering a player, the verification circuitry 120 may be configured to obtain a reference image captured subsequent to initiation of the game. In one example embodiment, the verification circuitry 120 is configured to direct the image capture circuitry 120 to capture a reference image of a player. As another example, a player may trigger capture of a reference image, such as through an input to the user interface 116. The player may then select the captured image as a reference image for use in verifying the player's identity during game play.

Alternatively, a player may have preregistered for a game prior to initiation of the game, such as during a previous gaming session. In this regard, a registration profile comprising a reference image for a player may be stored in the memory 112. When registering himself for a current gaming session, a player may select his stored registration profile for use in the current gaming session. The verification circuitry 120 may accordingly be configured to access a stored registration profile and extract the player's reference image, other registration data, profile data, and/or the like to enable registration of the player for a current gaming session.

During play of the multiplayer game, a subset of the players may be authorized at any given time to perform an action in the game. The player(s) that comprise the subset of players authorized to perform an action in the game at any given time may be determined based on the rules of the game being played. For example, in a turn-based game, the player authorized to perform an action may rotate in turns among the players playing the game.

The verification circuitry 120 may accordingly be configured to verify that a current user of a computing device being used to play the multiplayer game is a player presently authorized to perform an action in the game prior to granting game play privileges to the user. In an example embodiment, the image capture circuitry 118 is configured to capture an image of a current user. The image capture circuitry 118 may capture the image in response to instruction from the verification circuitry 120. For example, the verification circuitry 120 may instruct the image capture circuitry 118 to capture an image of the user in response to a game play event (e.g., a rotation in turn). As another example, the verification circuitry 120 may instruct the image capture circuitry 118 to capture an image of the user in response to an assertion by the user entered via the user interface 116 that the user is a player presently authorized to perform an action in the game.

In an example embodiment, the verification circuitry 120 is configured to cause display of an indication of a player that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game, such as in response to a game play event bringing about a change in the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game (e.g., a rotation in turn). The indication may comprise the reference image of the player, the name of the player, or other indication of the player, such as may have been provided as registration information when the player was registered. The image capture circuitry 118 and/or verification circuitry 120 may be configured to cause capture of an image of a current user in response to determining an assertion that the user is the indicated player. This assertion may comprise an active assertion by the user. For example, the user may enter or select a “player ready” indication or the like via the user interface 116. Alternatively the assertion may comprise a passive assertion by the user. For example, the verification circuitry 120 may detect a change of user within the field of view of the image capture circuitry 118, such as may occur when a computing device being used to play the game is passed from one player to another. The verification circuitry 120 may be configured to cause capture of an image of the current user by the image capture circuitry 118 in response to determining the assertion.

The image captured of the current user may comprise an image of at least a portion of the user's face and/or some other distinguishing visual feature associated with the user's person that may be used for verification of the user's identity. In some embodiments, the image captured of the current user may comprise a video stream or video capture of the user. The verification circuitry 120 may accordingly be configured to extract a frame from the video and/or to use a segment of the video to facilitate verification of the identity of the user.

The verification circuitry 120 may be configured to access the image captured of the current user and determine whether the user is a player that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game by comparing the image of the user to the reference image(s) for the player(s) presently authorized to perform an action in the game. In this regard, the verification circuitry 120 may be configured to compare a distinguishing visual feature of the player in a reference image to a distinguishing visual feature of the current user in the image of the user to determine if the user matches the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game. For example, the verification circuitry 120 may be configured to use a face recognition algorithm to determine whether one or more facial features of the current user match one or more facial features of a player presently authorized to perform an action in the game. It will be appreciated that the verification circuitry 120 may be configured to use any face recognition algorithm or any combination of face recognition algorithms in performing user verification. Example face recognition algorithms that the verification circuitry 120 may use when comparing an image of a current user to a reference image of a player presently authorized to perform an action in a game include Principal Component Analysis (PCA), Independent Component Analysis (ICA), Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA), Evolutionary Pursuit (EP), Elastic Bunch Graph Matching (EBGM), a kernel method, trace transform, Active Appearance Model (AAM), a 3-D morphable face model, a 3-D face recognition algorithm, a Bayesian framework, a Support Vector Machine (SVM), a Hidden Markov Model (HMM), and/or the like.

If the verification circuitry 120 determines that the current user is a player presently authorized to perform an action in the game, the verification circuitry 120 may be configured to grant game play privileges to the user. In this regard, the verification circuitry 120 may be configured to grant the user the privilege to manipulate game action (e.g., to move a game piece, manipulate a character in the game, engage in a play, and/or the like). As another example, the verification circuitry 120 may be configured to cause or otherwise allow display of personal game data that is privileged to the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game that had been hidden from the user prior to verification of the user's identity. This personal game data may comprise any game data that is to be maintained in secrecy from other players. For example, the personal game data may comprise the cards in the player's hand in a card game.

If, on the other hand, the verification circuitry 120 determines that the current user is not a player presently authorized to perform an action in the game, the verification circuitry 120 may be configured to deny the user game play privileges. In this regard, the verification circuitry 120 may, for example, be configured to prevent the user from manipulating game action. As another example, the verification circuitry 120 may be configured to not allow display of personal game data privileged to the player presently authorized to perform an action in the game.

FIG. 5 illustrates a flowchart according to an example method for facilitating user verification according to an example embodiment of the invention. The operations illustrated in and described with respect to FIG. 5 may, for example, be performed by, under the control of, and/or with the assistance of one or more of the processor 110, memory 112, communication interface 114, user interface 116, image capture circuitry 118, or verification circuitry 120. Operation 500 may comprise registering a plurality of players of a multiplayer game. Registering the plurality of players may comprise obtaining a reference image of each of the plurality of players. Operation 510 may comprise accessing an image of a user of a computing device being used by the players to play the multiplayer game. Operation 520 may comprise determining based on the image accessed in Operation 510 whether the user is a player that is presently authorized to perform an action in the game. In this regard, Operation 520 may comprise comparing the image of the user to a reference image(s) for the player(s) presently authorized to perform an action in the game, such as by using a face recognition algorithm. Operation 530 may comprise granting game play privileges to the user only when the user is determined to be a player presently authorized to perform an action in the game.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart of a system, method, and computer program product according to example embodiments of the invention. It will be understood that each block of the flowchart, and combinations of blocks in the flowchart, may be implemented by various means, such as hardware and/or a computer program product comprising one or more computer-readable mediums having computer readable program instructions stored thereon. For example, one or more of the procedures described herein may be embodied by computer program instructions of a computer program product. In this regard, the computer program product(s) which embody the procedures described herein may be stored by one or more memory devices of a mobile terminal, server, or other computing device and executed by a processor in the computing device. In some embodiments, the computer program instructions comprising the computer program product(s) which embody the procedures described above may be stored by memory devices of a plurality of computing devices. As will be appreciated, any such computer program product may be loaded onto a computer or other programmable apparatus to produce a machine, such that the computer program product including the instructions which execute on the computer or other programmable apparatus creates means for implementing the functions specified in the flowchart block(s). Further, the computer program product may comprise one or more computer-readable memories on which the computer program instructions may be stored such that the one or more computer-readable memories can direct a computer or other programmable apparatus to function in a particular manner, such that the computer program product comprises an article of manufacture which implements the function specified in the flowchart block(s). The computer program instructions of one or more computer program products may also be loaded onto a computer or other programmable apparatus (e.g., a verification apparatus 102) to cause a series of operations to be performed on the computer or other programmable apparatus to produce a computer-implemented process such that the instructions which execute on the computer or other programmable apparatus implement the functions specified in the flowchart block(s).

Accordingly, blocks of the flowchart support combinations of means for performing the specified functions. It will also be understood that one or more blocks of the flowchart, and combinations of blocks in the flowchart, may be implemented by special purpose hardware-based computer systems which perform the specified functions, or combinations of special purpose hardware and computer program product(s).

The above described functions may be carried out in many ways. For example, any suitable means for carrying out each of the functions described above may be employed to carry out embodiments of the invention. In one embodiment, a suitably configured processor may provide all or a portion of the elements. In another embodiment, all or a portion of the elements may be configured by and operate under control of a computer program product. The computer program product for performing the methods of embodiments of the invention includes a computer-readable storage medium, such as the non-volatile storage medium, and computer-readable program code portions, such as a series of computer instructions, embodied in the computer-readable storage medium.

As such, then, some embodiments of the invention provide several advantages to computing devices and computing device users. Some example embodiments provide for verification of a user of a computing device being used by a plurality of players to play a multiplayer game. In this regard, some example embodiments verify whether a user of a computing device is the player presently authorized to perform an action in a multiplayer game being played on the computing device. Such embodiments may be particularly beneficial in turn-based multiplayer games wherein some example embodiments of the invention verify that a user of a computing device is the player having a current turn in the game. Accordingly, embodiments of the invention may be used to enforce player turns in a turn-based multiplayer game. Some example embodiments hide personal game data privileged to a particular player until the user of the computing device has been verified to be the player privy to the privileged personal game data. Accordingly, sensitive game data may be hidden from unauthorized players such that a player may be prevented from gaining an unfair advantage by viewing privileged game data of another player.

Some example embodiments further provide for testing the skeletal animation or portions thereof prior to recording the animation. Accordingly, users may be provided with an intuitive way to adjust portions of the animation based on the tests. Additionally, user interfaces provided by some example embodiments allow users to generate skeletal animations on mobile devices and/or using inputs to a touch screen display. In this regard, users may be enabled to relatively quickly create a skeletal animation and distribute the skeletal animation over a network.

Many modifications and other embodiments of the inventions set forth herein will come to mind to one skilled in the art to which these inventions pertain having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. Therefore, it is to be understood that the embodiments of the invention are not to be limited to the specific embodiments disclosed and that modifications and other embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the invention. Moreover, although the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings describe example embodiments in the context of certain example combinations of elements and/or functions, it should be appreciated that different combinations of elements and/or functions may be provided by alternative embodiments without departing from the scope of the invention. In this regard, for example, different combinations of elements and/or functions than those explicitly described above are also contemplated within the scope of the invention. Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation.