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US20040072498A1 - System and method for controlling toy using web - Google Patents

System and method for controlling toy using web Download PDF

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Publication number
US20040072498A1
US20040072498A1 US10424534 US42453403A US2004072498A1 US 20040072498 A1 US20040072498 A1 US 20040072498A1 US 10424534 US10424534 US 10424534 US 42453403 A US42453403 A US 42453403A US 2004072498 A1 US2004072498 A1 US 2004072498A1
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Prior art keywords
toy
sound
control
site
data
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US10424534
Inventor
Ku Yeon
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
WEFRIEND CO Ltd
Institute Information Tech Assessment
Original Assignee
WEFRIEND CO Ltd
Institute Information Tech Assessment
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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H30/00Remote-control arrangements specially adapted for toys, e.g. for toy vehicles
    • A63H30/02Electrical arrangements

Abstract

A system and method for controlling a toy using a web are disclosed. The system includes a toy that receives operation control data and a sound signal from the outside to output a sound while being moved in a specific form and a toy controller installed in a personal computer in such a manner as to be connected to the toy. The toy controller displays information about at least one Internet site, automatically accesses an Internet site selected by a user to receive sound data, and transmits sounds received from the Internet site and a sound for speech to the toy together with the control data.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    The present application derives priority from Korean Patent Application No. 2002-62625 filed on Oct. 15, 2002.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0003]
    The present invention relates to a system and a method for controlling a toy using a web, and more particularly, to a system and a method for controlling a toy using a web, which allows a moving toy to output sounds of fairy story/children's song received from an Internet site or sounds of specific speech, to thereby obtain the same effect as a mother reads a fairy story for her child personally through the toy.
  • [0004]
    2. Description of the Background
  • [0005]
    A toy that moves in a specific movement form in response to the driving of a motor built therein is being manufactured in various ways and sold. The moving toy is apt to arouse children's interest easier than a toy that does not move. Furthermore, a toy designed to be connected to an audio medium or a personal computer has been developed and used.
  • [0006]
    For example, Korean Patent No. 2000-12005 entitled “Internet service system connected with toys” transmits sound and control data provided by an Internet site to a toy through a user computer. In addition, Korean Utility Model Patent No. 2001-27547 entitled “Toy operating in connection with computer sounds” provides a toy that automatically senses sounds output from a to operate, and Korean Utility Model Patent No. 2002-9246 entitled “Oral narration toy for children” wirelessly transmits sounds to a toy through transmission means connected to an earphone jack of an audio output device such as a CD player or a tape player.
  • [0007]
    Although the aforementioned proposals add interesting effects to toys in their own ways, user's convenience, amusements arousing children's interest, various user interfaces, toy's price or the like should be taken into consideration in order to develop more interesting and instructive toys. Especially, development of toys capable of more intimately accessing children's emotion is meaningful from a social standpoint as well as a commercial standpoint in view of the influence of toys on children.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0008]
    Therefore, the present invention has been proposed to meet the above-mentioned need, and it is an object of the present invention is to provide a system and method for controlling a toy using a web, which allows children to hear a fairy tale or a children's song, provided by an Internet site, with predetermined speech (“Mommy loves you”, for example) through a moving toy, to thereby obtain the same effect as a mommy reads a fairy tale for her child personally.
  • [0009]
    To accomplish the above object, according to one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a system for controlling a toy using a web, comprising a toy that receives control data and a sound signal from the outside, operates a motor to move in a specific movement form in response to the received control data, and outputs the sound signal through a speaker, and a toy controller installed in a personal computer in such a manner as to be connected to the toy for controlling the overall operation of the toy.
  • [0010]
    The toy controller includes a site access unit for displaying information about at least one Internet sites, and automatically accessing an Internet site selected by a user to receive sound data provided by the Internet site, a communication unit for communicating with the toy to transmit the control data and the sound data to the toy, a first speech storage unit for storing sound information of speech, and a controller for transmitting the control data, sounds received from the Internet site through the site access unit, and the sound of speech stored in the first speech storage unit to the toy through the communication unit.
  • [0011]
    To accomplish the above object, according to another aspect of the present invention, there is also provided a method for controlling a toy using a web, which controls the toy with a personal computer wiredly connected to the toy, the method comprising a first step of displaying toy control menus, displaying information about at least one Internet site according to a user's choice to allow the user to select an Internet site, and then automatically accessing the Internet site selected by the user; a second step of automatically monitoring if there is no input from input devices such as a keyboard and a mouse for a predetermined period of time and whether or not a sound is being output through the speaker; a third step of transmitting the sound signal to the toy together with the control data when the sound signal is being output through the speaker at the second step; and a fourth step of periodically transmitting a sound of specific speech to the toy together with the control data when there is no input from the input devices such as the keyboard and the mouse for a predetermined period of time and a sound is not being output through the speaker at the second step.
  • [0012]
    It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description of the present invention are exemplary and explanatory and are intended to provide further explanation of the invention as claimed.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0013]
    The above objects, and other features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent after a reading of the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the drawings, in which:
  • [0014]
    [0014]FIG. 1 illustrates the configuration of a toy control system using a web according to the present invention;
  • [0015]
    [0015]FIG. 2 illustrates an example of the configuration of a toy moving in response to an external signal;
  • [0016]
    [0016]FIG. 3 illustrates an embodiment of the toy control system according to the present invention;
  • [0017]
    [0017]FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment of the displaying of Internet site information; and
  • [0018]
    [0018]FIG. 5 illustrates an embodiment of a toy control method using a web according to the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0019]
    Reference will now be made in greater detail to the preferred embodiments of the present invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
  • [0020]
    A toy control system 10 using a web according to the present invention will be explained with reference to FIG. 1. A toy 12 is wiredly connected to a toy controller 11 to receive control data and a sound signal from the toy controller 11. The toy 12 operates its motor in response to the control data to move in a specific movement form and outputs the received sound signal to the outside through a speaker.
  • [0021]
    Though the toy controller 11 can transmit the control data and sound signal to the toy 12 while reproducing sound information (children's story or children's song, for example) recorded in a storage medium such as CD-ROM, it is desirable to construct the toy controller in such a manner that the toy controller accesses an Internet site 30 through the Internet network 20 to transmit sounds provided by the Internet site 30 to the toy 12 for diversity of services. Preferably, the toy controller 11 is constructed using a personal computer PC. In this case, the toy controller 11 is configured with computer program executing each of various functions and it is connected to a corresponding hardware component of the personal computer to carry out the corresponding function.
  • [0022]
    The Internet site 30 includes sites that provide services including sounds. A fairy tale can foster children's imagination, provide indirect experiences through characters thereof to children, cultivate children's emotions and let the children learn beautiful words and letters. A web site providing images/motion-pictures and sounds associated with the fairy tale is a good example of the aforementioned Internet site. The present invention will be described below by taking a fairy-tale site that provides sounds along with specific images or motion pictures associated with fairy tales as an example.
  • [0023]
    An embodiment of the configuration of the toy 12 will be described hereinafter with reference to FIG. 2.
  • [0024]
    The toy 12 has a specific shape (shape of a bear, for example) and includes electronic circuits for motions and sounds of the toy therein. Specifically, the toy 12 includes a microcomputer 12-1, a computer interface 12-2, a motor driver 12-3, a motor 12-4 and a speaker 12-5.
  • [0025]
    The computer interface 12-2 wiredly connects the toy controller 11 to the toy 12 and it may have various forms according to a computer port used for connection. A power source required for operating the toy 12 can use an independent battery set inside the toy or power inputted from the toy controller (computer). In the case where the computer power is used, it is is desirable to provide the power through the computer interface 12-2.
  • [0026]
    The motor 12-4 is installed at a joint of the toy 12 (that is, a region requiring a movement) to move arms, legs, head or waste of the toy. The motor driver 12-3 provides a driving signal for driving the motor 12-4 in response to a motion instruction inputted from the microcomputer 12-1. Means such as a solenoid other than the motor can be also used as an actuator for moving the toy 12.
  • [0027]
    The microcomputer 12-1 communicates with the toy controller 11 through the computer interface 12-2 and outputs the motion instruction to the motor driver 12-3 in response to control data received from the toy controller 11. In addition, the microcomputer transmits sounds received from the toy controller 11 to the speaker 12-5. In an embodiment where the toy controller 11 is composed of computer program and installed in a personal computer, the toy 12 can serve as the speaker of the personal computer when the toy controller 11 is in an off state.
  • [0028]
    The toy 12, above-described with reference to FIG. 2, is merely an embodiment of the invention. That is, the present invention can be applied to any toy that receives control data and a sound signal through a wired path from the outside to operate and output sounds in response to the received control data.
  • [0029]
    A preferred embodiment of the toy controller 11 according to the present invention will be described hereinafter with reference to FIG. 3.
  • [0030]
    A site access unit 11-1 displays a list of information about at least one Internet site (connection information of fairy-tale sites, for instance), automatically accessing a fairy-tale site selected by a user, and then receive sound data provided by this fairy-tale site. Here, although the site access unit may be constructed in such a manner that the user has an access to the home page (initial picture) of the fairy-tale site when he/she selects the site, it is more convenient to construct the site access unit such that the user is directly connected to a web page providing fairy tale service among the web pages constructing the fairy-tale site. At the user side, when the user selects one item from the list of fairy-tale sites, the web page of the selected fairy-tale site is displayed and, at the same time, fairy tale service starts.
  • [0031]
    A communication unit 11-7 is a constitutional element used for communicating with the toy 12. A communication controller 11 communicates with the toy 12 through the communication unit 11-7 to transmit control data and sound data to the toy. In an embodiment where the communication controller is composed of computer program installed in a personal computer, the communication controller is wiredly connected to the toy. Thus, it is desirable that the control data is transmitted to the toy through a USB port or a serial communication port and the sound is delivered through an earphone jack or the output port of a sound card of the personal computer.
  • [0032]
    A first speech storage unit 11-2, a constitutional element for storing sound information of speech, stores speech information therein in the form of sound data and, preferably, wav files. Speech means a predetermined sound (“Mommy loves you”, for example) children hear while fairy-tale sounds are not output. Accordingly, the children can hear affectionate voice even when the fairy story is not read for them.
  • [0033]
    A control unit 11-6 controls each of components of the toy controller 11. Specifically, the control unit transmits control data, sounds received from the fairy-tale site 30 through the site access unit 11-1 and the speech sound stored in the first speech storage unit 11-2 to the toy 12 through the communication unit 11-1. Preferably, the control data is transmitted to the toy at the same time when a sound signal is delivered. Furthermore, the control data can be transmitted continuously or at a specific time interval.
  • [0034]
    In the case where the sound signal is received from the fairy-tale site 30 through the site access unit 11-1, the control unit transmits this sound signal to the toy 12 together with the control data. When the sound signal is not received from the fairy-tale site 30, it is desirable that the control unit deliver the speech sound stored in the first speech storage unit 11-2 to the toy 12 periodically.
  • [0035]
    Furthermore, the control unit 11-6 may be designed to periodically transmit the speech sound stored in the first speech storage unit 11-2 and the control data to the toy 12 when any signal is not input from an input device such as the keyboard and mouse of the personal computer for a predetermined period of time.
  • [0036]
    Moreover, the control unit 11-6 should be able to detect if the personal computer is currently outputting sounds in order to transmit the sounds received from the fairy-tale site 30 to the toy 12. That is, it is desirable that the control unit 11-6 do not recognize the sound reception state in connection with the fairy-tale site 30 but monitors the personal computer to judge if the personal computer is currently outputting the sounds.
  • [0037]
    An example of monitoring whether or not the personal computer is currently outputting sounds will be explained hereinafter. Program called Vxd (used for Window 98 or less) or WDM (used for Window 200 or more) is used for controlling various hardware components (sound card, LAN card or the like) included in the personal computer. Vxd stands for “Virtual x device”. When k is substituted for x, it means a keyboard. The one that Vxd has been programmed is a driver (virtual x device driver: printer driver, mouse driver and so on). When the personal computer is booted, it is checked which devices are currently being used through BIOS ROM of a main board and displayed on the screen of the personal computer. Representative ones include irq/various disc drivers (c:, a: and e:). The personal computer uses irq/IO port numbers of the sound card. In order to output a certain signal (sounds of a fairy tale or a children's song) to the sound card, the personal computer first confirms that its main board will use the sound card using the interrupt number (Window 98, for example) and opens the I/O port to allow the sounds to be output therethrough.
  • [0038]
    The control unit 11-6 can hook this message to know whether the sound card will be used or it is being currently used. When the sound card is being currently used, the control unit 11-6 transmits the control data to the toy 12.
  • [0039]
    Now, an embodiment for processing the speech in convenient and various ways will be explained hereinafter.
  • [0040]
    In the present invention, the speech plays a role independent of the fairy tale sounds provided by the fairy-tale site 30. Accordingly, it is desirable that the user input the speech personally. In this case, a mother can talk to her child what she wants to say. For this purpose, when the mother inputs her voice for speech using a microphone and a voice processing program included in the general personal computer, the voice can be converted into digital data and stored in the first speech storage unit 11-2 in the form of sound file.
  • [0041]
    In order to input the speech more conveniently, however, it is desirable that the speech be input in the form of a text and then converted into a voice using TTS (Text-To-Speech) function.
  • [0042]
    In this embodiment, the toy controller 11 additionally includes a second speech storage unit 11-3 for storing information of speech in the text form, a sound source storage unit 11-4 for storing a sound source, and a TTS engine 11-5 for converting the text for speech into a voice using a sound source of the sound source storage unit 11-4. Here, the sound source means a source of sounds (ex: children's voice, female voice, male voice and so on) is for realizing the TTS function and it is, preferably, selected by the user. The control unit 11-6 includes a function of periodically transmitting a sound signal, converted into a voice by the TTS engine 11-5, to the toy 12 when sounds are not received from the fairy-tale site 30 or there is no input from any input device for a predetermined period of time.
  • [0043]
    To this end, the toy controller 11 can provide a text editing means by which the user can newly input a text for speech, correct or delete the existing text for speech. Since the speech is input in the text form, a conventional text editor may be used.
  • [0044]
    A method for controlling a toy using a web according to the present invention will be explained hereinafter in detail through an embodiment in which program is installed in a personal computer with reference to FIG. 5.
  • [0045]
    First of all, a user who has bought the toy including a wire for connecting the toy to a personal computer connects the toy to his/her PC using the connection wire and installs toy control program provided together with the toy in his/her PC. As described above, the toy control program operates in cooperation with a corresponding hardware component of the personal computer to serve as the toy controller 11.
  • [0046]
    When the toy control program starts to be executed, a screen including control menus is displayed in the same manner as a general Window-based program executes, at step S5-1. The user can select a desired menu from the displayed menus. These menus can be arbitrarily constructed for convenience of service. They may include an automatic communication port setting function that automatically finds a toy connection port to set it, a test function of outputting a predetermined sound signal and control data for testing if the toy is currently operating properly, and a program finishing function (S5-2 and S5-3).
  • [0047]
    Meanwhile, when the user selects an Internet-related menu as a menu for carrying out a characteristic function of the present invention, information about at least one Internet site (preferably, a list of fairy-tale sites) is displayed to allow the user to select one of the sites at step S5-4. Then, the toy controller 11 automatically accesses the Internet site he/she selects at step S5-5 (a first stage).
  • [0048]
    [0048]FIG. 4 illustrates a displayed list of fairy-tale sites. It is desirable that the displayed Internet site list be automatically updated. To this end, inherent version information is stored in a registry of the personal computer when the toy control program is installed therein, and the toy control program automatically connects the personal computer to a specific server when the computer is booted to check the current version information. When the version was updated, the toy control program displays a message inquiring of the user whether or not he/she wants to update the version to the user, and then receives an updated Internet site list from the specific server to update the list to a new list according to the user's choice. Here, the specific server means the server of a provider that provides a toy service using a web (for example, a provider that provides the toy and toy control program) and it is distinguished from the fairy-tale site.
  • [0049]
    Furthermore, the toy control program automatically monitors if there is no input from input devices such as keyboard, mouse or the like for a predetermined period of time and if a sound is being output through the speaker at the same time when it starts to be executed, at step S5-6 (a second stage). Explanation for the technique of monitoring the state of input from the input device is omitted because it is well-known in the art. The toy control program monitors whether or not the personal computer is currently outputting a sound in order to separate reception of sounds from the Internet site from control of the toy, as described above. That is, the toy control program automatically detects whether or not the personal computer is currently outputting a sound independently and transmits the sound to the toy.
  • [0050]
    When the toy control program judges that a sound signal is being output through the speaker at step S5-6, it transmits this sound signal to the toy together with the control data at steps S5-7 and S5-8 (a third stage). On the other hand, when the toy control program judges that there is no input from the input devices such as keyboard and mouse for a predetermined period of time and any sound is not output through the speaker at step S5-6, it periodically transmits the speech sound to the toy together with the control data at steps S5-9 and S5-10 (a fourth stage).
  • [0051]
    From the standpoint of the user, accordingly, a fairy tale is read through the moving toy while the toy controller is accessing a fairy-tale site, and the speech like “Mommy loves you”, helpful to cultivate children's emotions, is read at a specific period when the toy controller does not access the site.
  • [0052]
    The sound data for the speech, stored in the first speech storage unit 11-2, can be automatically updated through a specific server, as described above. Specifically, the toy control program can automatically access the specific server to check if there is updated sound data for speech and receive the updated sound data to update the contents of the first speech storage unit 11-2.
  • [0053]
    As described above, the toy control system according to the present invention can be preferably embodied using the computer program installed in the personal computer. Accordingly, the present invention can be applied to a recording medium for storing computer program capable of executing the first to fourth stages.
  • [0054]
    Moreover, the form of the control data and control of motion of the toy according to the control data can be made in various manners according to well-known techniques so that the present invention is not limited by the form of the control data and the motion of the toy. That is, the present invention can be applied to any toy that includes a function capable of receiving specific control data from the outside and moves in a specific movement form in response to this control data.
  • [0055]
    The present invention can allow children to hear sounds of a fairy tale or children's song provided by an Internet site through a moving toy. Furthermore, the user can input speech to obtain the same effect as a mother reads a fairy tale for her child personally. Accordingly, the invention can allow the children to hear the fairy tale or children's song while arousing their interests and realize a toy helpful to cultivate the children's emotions.
  • [0056]
    While the present invention has been described with reference to the particular illustrative embodiment, it is not to be restricted by the embodiment but only by the appended claims. It is to be appreciated that those skilled in the art can change or modify the embodiments without departing from the scope and spirit of the present invention

Claims (8)

  1. 1. A system for controlling a toy using a web, comprising:
    a toy that receives control data and a sound signal from the outside, operates a motor to move in a specific movement form in response to the received control data, and outputs the sound signal through a speaker; and
    a toy controller installed in a personal computer in such a manner as to be connected to the toy for controlling the overall operation of the toy,
    wherein the toy controller includes:
    a site access unit for displaying information about at least one Internet sites, and automatically accessing an Internet site selected by a user to receive sound data provided by the Internet site;
    a communication unit for communicating with the toy to transmit the control data and the sound data to the toy;
    a first speech storage unit for storing sound information of speech; and
    a controller for transmitting the control data, sounds received from the Internet site through the site access unit, and the sound of speech stored in the first speech storage unit to the toy through the communication unit.
  2. 2. The system as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a second speech storage unit for storing speech information in a text form, a sound source storage unit for storing a sound source, and a TTS engine for converting the text for speech into a voice using a sound source stored in the sound source storage unit, the controller including a function of transmitting a speech sound, converted by the TTS engine, to the toy together with the control data.
  3. 3. The system as claimed in claim 2, wherein the text for speech, stored in the second speech storage unit, can be input/corrected/deleted by the user.
  4. 4. The system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the controller periodically transmits the speech sound and the control data to the toy when there is no signal input from input devices including a keyboard and a mouse of the personal computer for a predetermined period of time.
  5. 5. The system as claimed in claim 2, wherein the controller periodically transmits the speech sound and the control data to the toy when there is no signal input from input devices including a keyboard and a mouse of the personal computer for a predetermined period of time.
  6. 6. The system as claimed in claim 3, wherein the controller periodically transmits the speech sound and the control data to the toy when there is no signal input from input devices including a keyboard and a mouse of the personal computer for a predetermined period of time.
  7. 7. A method for controlling a toy having a function of receiving control data and a sound signal from the outside, operating a motor to move in a specific movement form in response to the control data and outputting the sound signal through a speaker using a web, which controls the toy with a personal computer wiredly connected to the toy, the method comprising:
    a first step of displaying toy control menus, displaying information about at least one Internet site according to a user's choice to allow the user to select an Internet site, and then automatically accessing the Internet site selected by the user;
    a second step of automatically monitoring if there is no input from input devices such as a keyboard and a mouse for a predetermined period of the and whether or not a sound is being output through the speaker;
    a third step of transmitting the sound signal to the toy together with the control data when the sound signal is being output through the speaker at the second step; and
    a fourth step of periodically transmitting a sound of specific speech to the toy together with the control data when there is no input from the input devices such as the keyboard and the mouse for a predetermined period of time and a sound is not being output through the speaker at the second step.
  8. 8. A recording medium readable by a computer, which stores computer program capable of executing the first to fourth steps of claim 7.
US10424534 2002-10-15 2003-04-25 System and method for controlling toy using web Abandoned US20040072498A1 (en)

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US20090187687A1 (en) * 2006-01-05 2009-07-23 Visible Computing Limited Portable, Computer-Peripheral Apparatus Including a Universal Serial Bus (USB) Connector
US20120185254A1 (en) * 2011-01-18 2012-07-19 Biehler William A Interactive figurine in a communications system incorporating selective content delivery
US20140099856A1 (en) * 2012-10-10 2014-04-10 David Chen Audible responsive toy

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