US20090221372A1 - Footpad-based game and gaming system - Google Patents

Footpad-based game and gaming system Download PDF

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Publication number
US20090221372A1
US20090221372A1 US12/396,251 US39625109A US2009221372A1 US 20090221372 A1 US20090221372 A1 US 20090221372A1 US 39625109 A US39625109 A US 39625109A US 2009221372 A1 US2009221372 A1 US 2009221372A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
text
game
keypad
system
mat
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Abandoned
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US12/396,251
Inventor
Molly Casey
Patricia L. CHRISTEN
Frederick P. Dillon, IV
Nicole Lee Guthrie
Ellen Louise LaPointe
Lalita Kikuyo Suzuki
II Richard L. Tate
Mark A. Wallace
Elizabeth Ji-Eun Song
Daniel E. Cawley
Christine B. Brumback
Sven D. Newman
Rajiv Kantilal Patel
Phong David Ngo
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HopeLab Foundation Inc
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HopeLab Foundation Inc
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Priority to US3287608P priority Critical
Priority to US3285408P priority
Application filed by HopeLab Foundation Inc filed Critical HopeLab Foundation Inc
Priority to US12/396,251 priority patent/US20090221372A1/en
Publication of US20090221372A1 publication Critical patent/US20090221372A1/en
Assigned to HOPELAB FOUNDATION, INC. reassignment HOPELAB FOUNDATION, INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: PATEL, RAJIV KANTILAL, NEWMAN, SVEN D., NGO, PHONG DAVID, CASEY, MOLLY, BRUMBACK, CHRISTINE B., CAWLEY, DANIEL E., CHRISTEN, PATRICIA L., DILLON, FREDERICK P., IV, GUTHRIE, NICOLE LEE, LAPOINTE, ELLEN LOUISE, SONG, ELIZABETH JI-EUN, SUZUKI, LALITA KIKUYO, TATE, RICHARD L., II, WALLACE, MARK A.
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/20Input arrangements for video game devices
    • A63F13/21Input arrangements for video game devices characterised by their sensors, purposes or types
    • A63F13/212Input arrangements for video game devices characterised by their sensors, purposes or types using sensors worn by the player, e.g. for measuring heart beat or leg activity
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/02Accessories
    • A63F13/06Accessories using player-operated means for controlling the position of a specific area display
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/20Input arrangements for video game devices
    • A63F13/21Input arrangements for video game devices characterised by their sensors, purposes or types
    • A63F13/214Input arrangements for video game devices characterised by their sensors, purposes or types for locating contacts on a surface, e.g. floor mats or touch pads
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/40Processing input control signals of video game devices, e.g. signals generated by the player or derived from the environment
    • A63F13/42Processing input control signals of video game devices, e.g. signals generated by the player or derived from the environment by mapping the input signals into game commands, e.g. mapping the displacement of a stylus on a touch screen to the steering angle of a virtual vehicle
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F13/00Video games, i.e. games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions
    • A63F13/20Input arrangements for video game devices
    • A63F13/23Input arrangements for video game devices for interfacing with the game device, e.g. specific interfaces between game controller and console
    • A63F13/235Input arrangements for video game devices for interfacing with the game device, e.g. specific interfaces between game controller and console using a wireless connection, e.g. infrared or piconet
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F2300/00Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game
    • A63F2300/10Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game characterized by input arrangements for converting player-generated signals into game device control signals
    • A63F2300/1012Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game characterized by input arrangements for converting player-generated signals into game device control signals involving biosensors worn by the player, e.g. for measuring heart beat, limb activity
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F2300/00Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game
    • A63F2300/10Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game characterized by input arrangements for converting player-generated signals into game device control signals
    • A63F2300/1068Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game characterized by input arrangements for converting player-generated signals into game device control signals being specially adapted to detect the point of contact of the player on a surface, e.g. floor mat, touch pad

Abstract

Described herein are games and game systems including a text messaging phone keypad foot mat. The phone keypad foot mat typically includes regions similar to the buttons of an enlarged telephone keypad. A user can step on these input regions (“buttons” or “keys”) to type a text. Thus, a player “types” a text message by stepping or dancing on the keyboard foot mat similar to the way that a text message may be typed by hand on a telephone keypad (e.g., sending a text message from a cell phone). Various games can be played using the devices, systems and methods described herein.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This patent application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/032,854, filed on Feb. 29, 2008, titled (“TXT IT: A Physical Activity-Promoting Game”) and to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/032,876, filed on Feb. 29, 2008, titled (“HONEYCOMB: A Physical Exercise Game”).
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Childhood obesity is on the rise both within the United States and throughout the world. This condition poses a serious problem not only for the affected children, but for the burden on public health and the healthcare system at large. Obesity is associated with many comorbidities, including vascular diseases such as hypertension and heart disease, chronic inflammation, depression and metabolic diseases, such as glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, as well as full blown type 2 diabetes.
  • In addition to extensive documentation of the association between childhood obesity and poor health outcomes, a number of studies document the positive effects that physical activity has in reducing the risk of poor health outcomes associated with obesity, including reductions in the development of diabetes and heart disease. Physical activity also helps control weight, promotes psychological well-being, and reduces the risk of premature death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that young people engage in at least 1 hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day to maintain good health.
  • While the positive effects of regular physical activity are well documented, motivation to maintain adequate levels of activity over the long term is often lacking. Many young people engage in sedentary behaviors (e.g., watching TV, surfing the Internet) and do not meet the CDC recommendations for physical activity. Research has found that physical activity rates decline with age among young people, with overall levels of physical activity typically beginning to decrease when children are of middle school age.
  • It is recognized that fun, engaging games or related products that require physical activity can be a way to increase physical activity among young people. To succeed in increasing physical activity, games need to appeal to the target population and to fit easily within the existing social, educational, and cultural environment.
  • Accordingly, there is a need in the commercial and healthcare product markets for smart games and related products that address and counter the growing tendency toward sedentary behaviors and that are directed toward the specific goal of increasing the overall level of physical activity of those who play the game or use the product. To succeed in this goal, products need to be easy to use, and have an immediate and enduring appeal that can be sustained over the long term. It is further desirable that such products are safe and require minimal adult supervision. Most of all, the games must be effective at their fundamental goal, which is to increase levels of physical activity.
  • A number of games have been described including floor mats such as dance mats. For example, “Dance Dance Revolution” and similar games use a dancing mat or stage to score the guided motion of a player. However, these and other, similar, foot-pad or mat type game systems often do not provide lasting interactivity and educational benefits. Examples of such dance-mat or foot-pad inventions may be found in US patents including U.S. Pat. No. 4,720,789, which describes a game including a pressure pad that inputs foot position on the pad. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 6,600,477, U.S. Pat. No. 6,091,402 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,600,477 teach methods of inputting data using a sensing pad having a “support assembly” and “foot motion indicator” on the shoe. U.S. Pat. No. 5,139,261 also teaches games that use foot position as an input, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,943,044 describes a specific way to determine foot location using a foot pad. In addition, such games do not provide a networking or online component which is desirable for ensuring a sustainable and appealing gaming experience.
  • Thus, there is a need for a game or game system that can be both educational and can provide beneficial exercise, particularly to children. The text messaging game systems described herein address many of these issues.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Described herein are games and game systems including a foot pad based input. For example, the games and game systems may include a text messaging keypad foot mat; the foot mat may be configured as a phone-type keypad. The keypad foot mat is typically a floor mat, stage or area that includes a plurality of regions representing buttons or inputs. For example, the keypad foot may include regions similar to the buttons of an enlarged telephone keypad. The “buttons” of the keypad on the foot mat typically correspond to an input region on the keypad foot mat. A user can step on these input regions (buttons) to type a “text message.” Thus, a player “types” text by stepping or dancing on the keyboard foot mat similar to the way that a text message may be typed by hand on a telephone keypad (e.g., sending a text message from a cell phone). The foot mat may be labeled with alphanumeric characters (e.g., numbers and/or letters), phrases, or functions (e.g., shift, control, alt, etc.).
  • In general, the games and game systems described herein may also include one or more controllers, for receiving and/or transmitting signals from the foot mat. The controller may be a dedicated controller (e.g., connected to the foot pad or part of the foot pad) and may include a processor, or it may be software, hardware, and/or firmware that connects to a computer processor. The computer processor may be a desktop, laptop, or other general purpose computer. In some variations, the system is configured to be directly connected to a display such as a television or other monitor. The system may be configured to plug into phone (including mobile phones and non-mobile phones), PDA, or any other electronic communications device.
  • In some variations, the game systems include game logic configured to run or operate the game.
  • The games and game systems described herein may be used as part of an interactive game, in which a subject (e.g., player) sends or receives messages (responses, questions, etc.) to one or more other subjects. As used herein a ‘subject’ may include a player, including ‘virtual’ players (e.g., computer-simulated players), particularly in multi-player embodiments. In addition, the games and game systems may include or be operated with a remote digital game media, such as a website, or other digital media. The remote digital media may send and transmit messages between users (e.g., text messages sent by the foot pad) as part of the game. In some variations, the remote digital media may be used to regulate, score, and set up the games.
  • Thus, a text messaging exercising game may include a text messaging foot mat for inputting text messages, and a controller for transmitting signals from the foot mat (and possibly interfacing with a display and/or a remote digital media). The controller may also be configured to score the text messages sent by the user.
  • For example, a text messaging exercise game system may include a keypad foot mat having a plurality of input regions for inputting alphanumeric characters (wherein the mat is configured to resemble a keypad, and to allow a user to input text by stepping on the input regions); and a game controller configured to receive data input from the keypad foot mat as text, and to output the text message to be displayed by an output device. The game controller may be a console. The keypad foot mat may be configured as a phone keypad.
  • In some variations, the system also includes an output device configured to display the output text message. Any appropriate output device may be used, including a screen such as a video screen, a TV monitor, or a cell phone. The system (e.g., the game controller) may also include an output interface for formatting or preparing the output for display. For example, the output interface may configure the output for video display or for transmission as a text message to another phone Multiple types of output may be provided by the system, for example, video, graphical, text, audible (e.g., music, or other sounds), etc.
  • The keypad foot mat may be an actual mat (e.g., a flexible mat) or it may be a stage. In some variations the foot mat is a projected image from which foot movements can be detected. The keypad foot mat can include an enlarged image of a phone keypad, in which the input regions correspond to buttons on the image of the phone keypad. The input regions of the phone keypad foot mat may each include one or more sensors configured to detect a user stepping on that input region. For example, the sensor may be a pressure sensor. Other devices and methods of detecting foot motion on the phone keypad foot mat may be used, including visual detection.
  • The game controller may include one or more processors for controlling the game play, and/or for translating the detected foot motions into text messages. For example, the game controller may include a processor configured to provide a first message output that a player can respond to using the phone keypad foot mat.
  • Also described herein are text messaging footpad game systems including: a phone keypad foot mat having a plurality of different regions corresponding to alphanumeric characters (wherein the mat is configured to allow a user to input text by stepping on the mat regions); and a game controller functionally connected to the phone keypad foot mat, and configured to provide a first text message to be responded to, and further configured to receive a response text message from the phone keypad foot mat, and to output a score based on the response and the first text message.
  • Also described herein are methods of playing a text-based game. These messages may include the steps of: presenting a first message; receiving a response text message from a phone keypad foot mat; scoring the response text message based on the first message; and providing an output based on the score or the response text message. Alternatively, the game could require the player to repeat whatever text is displayed on the screen and provide a score based on accuracy and speed.
  • The step of receiving the response text message may involve receiving the message letter-by-letter or otherwise. For example, the game controller may receive each letter as the player types it (including backspace, delete, corrections, and arrow keys), or the game controller may wait until a ‘send’ key is pressed. The response message may be displayed (e.g., on a screen) as the player types it.
  • In some variations, the method also includes the step of detecting footsteps on the phone keypad foot mat to generate a response text message. In general, steps (“typing”) on the footpad may be detected in any appropriate manner, as mentioned above. For example, steps may be detected by sensors on or in the pad (e.g., pressure sensors, motion sensors, etc.) or they may be detected optically (e.g., by a camera).
  • Game play may be timed (e.g., based on how long the player takes to type/respond to the first message). Thus, the method may also include the step of timing the receipt of the response text message. Scoring the response text message may be partially based on the timing of the receipt of the response text message (e.g., time to hit ‘send’). The timing may be adjusted for the length of the response (number of alphanumeric characters, etc.) and/or for accuracy of what was sent.
  • In some variations, scoring the response text message is based on how similar the response text message is to the first message. For example, the game controller may provide a message (e.g., a text message) to be copied as the response text message. This may serve as a tutorial on how to text message.
  • The game may also include a reward based on the score. For example, based on score, the player may be rewarded with digital (e.g., online) rewards, or with free text messages, or the like. Rewards may be redeemable coupons or points that accumulate over time and can be cashed in for rewards.
  • Animations (e.g., video animation) or video displays may be shown as part of the scoring or in response to a score. Thus, the method may include the step of displaying an animation based on the score or the response text message.
  • In general, the method of playing a text message game may also include the step of displaying the first message, the response text message, and/or the output. All of these may be displayed or otherwise represented, or only a subset of them.
  • Any appropriate game may be played with the game system as part of the methods described herein, including trivia games, word games, letter games, puzzle games, etc. Thus, the game controller may provide a first message that is a question to be answered as the response text message (e.g., “What is the capital of Germany?”). The game controller may provide a first message that is a puzzle to be solved as the response text message (e.g., “Unscramble the animal: arfifge!” or “come up with as many words as possible from the following letters: DULBMET”). Other examples of word games similar to hangman, Boggle™, Scrabble™, etc. The controller may provide the first line in a well known quote or phrase that is to be completed as the response text message (e.g. “Early to bed, early to rise . . . ”). The text based (e.g., word) games that may be played with the game systems described herein may be educational games, such as games that help improve vocabulary or spelling. For example, the game may announce (e.g., via sound) a word to spell and ask the players to spell it correctly. Alternately, the game could provide a definition and ask the player to type the corresponding word.
  • In particular, the games and the game systems described herein may be multiplayer games. One or more of the players in the multiplayer game may be a computer generated or controlled player. A multiplayer game may be played using a single keypad foot mat, or a plurality of keypad foot mats. The players may be in the same location, or they may be located (and playing) remotely of each other. For example, players may be playing from different locations after logging into an interactive media (e.g., website or webpage) to connect to other players. Players may play against each other simultaneously or sequentially, and may play against each other individually or as teams. For example, in one variation, multiple payers could enter text from their own (e.g., multiple) mats, racing to answer a trivia question the fastest.
  • Also described herein are text messaging exercise game systems that are configured for playing with one or more other remote players. For example, the players may be networked or may communicate through a digital game media such as a website or webpage. The digital game media may include social networking, and may control aspects of game play, including player selection, game selection, game operation, scoring, etc. For example, a text messaging exercise game may include a keypad foot mat having a plurality of different regions corresponding to alphanumeric characters (wherein the mat is configured to allow a first user to input text messages by stepping on the mat regions), a remote digital game media is configured to receive input from the first remote keypad and to transmit the received input to a second user, and a game controller functionally connected to the keypad foot mat, the game controller configured to transmit a text message from the keypad foot mat to a remote digital game media and to receive messages from the remote digital game media.
  • As mentioned above, the game system may include a display that is configured to display the messages received, e.g., from the remote digital game media. The remote digital game media may be configured to receive input from a plurality of remote keypads and to transit the received input to a plurality of users.
  • Also described herein are methods of playing one or more games using the game systems described herein. For example, described herein are methods of playing a text based (e.g., text messaging) game including the steps of: presenting a first question; receiving a response text from a keypad foot mat; scoring the response text based on the first question; and providing an output based on the score or the response text. The first question may be related to the nature of the game. For example, the first question may be related to a text based game such as hangman, spelling game, quiz games, number games, vocabulary games, or the like.
  • INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE
  • All publications and patent applications mentioned in this specification are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety to the same extent as if each individual publication or patent application was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 illustrates schematically one variation of a game system described herein, including a digital interactive (game) media.
  • FIG. 2A illustrates operation of one variation of a game system as described herein.
  • FIG. 2B shows another variation of the game system.
  • FIG. 2C illustrates a variation of a game system including a desktop keypad widget.
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic diagraph illustrating one variation of a game system as described herein.
  • FIG. 4A is one example of a phone keypad.
  • FIG. 4B is an example of a computer keypad that may be use as a template for the keypad foot mat described herein.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • In general, the games and game systems described herein include one or more keypad mats that may be used to “type” text by jumping, stepping, walking or otherwise touching various regions of the mat. These games and game systems may also include a game controller configured to receive and transmit signals from the keypad mat and to pass these signals on (e.g., as text messages) to an output device. The output device may be a monitor (e.g., screen, computer monitor, television, phone monitor, etc.). Any of the text entered by the device may be referred to as text messages. Shorthand text messages (e.g., “txt msgs”) may also be used. In general, the phrase “text message” may include, but is not limited to, shorthand text messages.
  • A keypad mat may be used to play a variety of games, particularly games involving text messaging, and may be used to send text messages as part of the game. For example, a text messaging game system may include a keypad mat for typing text messages by foot movement that is configured as a phone keypad. The phone keypad mat may be configured as a foot or “dance” mat that looks like a cell phone keypad. The game controller may be a small game box that is attached to (or integral with) the mat. The game controller and/or the mat can then connect to an output device, such a television, computer, cell phone, or other display.
  • Some variations of the game systems described herein may be referred to as “Txt It!” game systems; similarly any of the games described herein may be referred to as a game of “Txt It!” Other examples of games that may be played include text based (or word) games. Non-text based games may also be played. Examples of non-text message games that may be played can be found in the co-pending application titled “PHYSICAL EXERCISE VIDEO GAME METHOD AND APPARATUS”, filed concurrently herewith, claiming priority to U.S. Provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/032,876, the entire content of which is herein incorporated by its entirety. Thus, the game systems described herein may be configured to play one or more text based (or non-text based) games. For example, the game system including the controller may be configured to play one or more games, by having game logic (e.g., software, hardware, firmware) that is executable by the controller and/or other components of the game system, including a processor. In some variations the game systems may be operated with an interactive digital media, such as a webpage, website, computer software, etc. Thus, a game or game system may upload or download information to/from the interactive digital media, including game logic (for running or playing game), user information (name, age), scoring information, or text messaging information.
  • As part of the text-based games, a player (or players) can send text messages or text responses using the keypad foot mat. For example, a user may send or receive a text message by dancing, walking, stepping on, or otherwise touching the keypad foot mat. A typical keypad foot may include a plurality of regions which may be used to define characters, numbers, or control functions (e.g., shift, control, etc.). Because the size of the keypad foot mat is intended to be conducive to physical activity (e.g., exercise), the keypad foot mat may have a limited number of “keys”. For example, in some variations, less than or about 15 (e.g., 3×5) keys may be used, less than or about 12 keys (e.g., 4×3). A keypad foot mat may also include more than this number of keys; for example, in one variation, the keypad foot mat includes the same number of keys as a computer keyboard (e.g., more than 50 keys). Examples of keypad foot mats are provided below.
  • Many different games may be played with the game systems described herein, including tutorial (e.g., learning) games, word games, number games, quiz or trivia games, puzzles, and the like. In all of these games, the player may enhance their skills at text messaging while moving their body (particularly their feet) to spell messages. As used herein, “text based games” include number games and any games using alphanumeric characters.
  • The game systems described herein may be played with one or more users. As mentioned above, the games may be played interactively with multiple players playing online or in the same location. For example, any of the games described herein may communicate with an interactive media such as a website or webpage that allows multiplayer interaction. FIG. 1 schematically illustrates one variation of a game system that is configured to communicate with an interactive media such as a website.
  • In FIG. 1, the “first user” 131 may use a game system including any of the components described herein, such as a keypad foot mat 100, a controller 103, a processor 121, a display 105, and an output 123 for transmitting information (e.g., text messages) to another player or non-player. The keypad foot mat may be configured as described herein. For example, a keypad foot mat 100 may include a plurality of regions that are configured to be separately stepped on. These regions may include a sensor or sensors for determining when the player steps on them, or a detector (e.g., camera, IR detector, etc) may be used. In some variations, the detector is a pressure detector incorporated into the mat 100. The mat 100 may be labeled indicating the alphanumeric character(s) that can be sent from that ‘key’ or region, or the function of that region (shift, control, etc.). They keypad foot mat may be any size and shape, particularly sizes and shapes appropriate to being selectively stepped, jumped, or walked on. Thus, each key may be between 6 and 18 inches long, and/or separated by a region that is not pressure sensitive or does not trigger a keystroke. The keys may be arranged in any appropriate manner. For example, keys may be arranged in a grid (e.g., square grid), a radiating circular pattern, or the like. In some variations, the keys may be arranged in a pattern similar to a telephone key pad, as described in more detail below.
  • Each key or region of the pad may correspond to one or more alphanumeric characters or phrases. In some variations the same key or region may be used to signal a plurality (e.g., three or four) text characters or numbers, and in operation, a particular alphanumeric character (or phrase) may be selected by repeatedly jumping on the key or region, similar to manual text messaging. In other variations, a combination of keypad ‘moves’ may be used to select one character (or phrase) from a set of characters or phrases corresponding to the keys. As mentioned, the keys or regions of the pad may be labeled or unlabeled. For example, in some variations the keys or regions are not labeled on the pad, but are indicated on a display 105.
  • As mentioned above, a controller 103 (or controllers) may be connected to or integral with the keypad foot mat. The controller typically receives text input from the keypad foot mat and transmits or forwards it on (e.g., for display and/or transmission). The controller may include a processor 121, or a separate processor 121 may be used. The processor 121 may be a dedicated processor (for running the game logic, software, and/or firmware), or it may be a general computer (e.g., desktop or laptop). For example, the processor may be a computer that is configured to run the game logic (software) and send instructions to the controller and receive input from the keypad foot mat 100. Thus game logic (not shown) may be included as part of the system. In some variations, the processor may also receive instructions and/or data affecting game play from the interactive media, such as other software, webpages, or the like.
  • Any appropriate display 105 may be used. A display 105 may be a dedicated display (e.g., part of the game system), or it may be a monitor, television, etc. For example, when the processor is a desktop or laptop computer, the monitor for the computer may be used as the display. For example, the game system may include a keypad foot mat 100 and a controller 103 that is configured to connect to a computer for operation. The computer (not shown) may run the client software for playing a game (e.g., a text game) using the keypad foot mat 100 and controller 103.
  • In some variations, the system may also include an output 123 for sending (and/or receiving) text messages generated by the keypad foot mat 100 and controller 103. The output may be an output to a telephone (e.g., cell phone) or a wireless connection, or an output to an internet or other digital medium. In some variations the controller may be configured to connect to a cell phone directly, so that text messages can be generated and sent by the keypad foot mat and sent/received by the cell phone. Alternatively or additionally, the game system may be configured so that text messages may be sent to a target cellular or mobile device (e.g., cell phone) or email system as part of the game.
  • In FIG. 1, the first user 131 includes at least some of the components shown in the game system such as the keypad 100, controller 103, processor 121, display 105, and (optional) output 123. These components may be integral (e.g., parts of a single component), or they may be wirelessly or wired to connect. The system may be connected either directly or remotely (e.g., wirelessly) to an internet connection and thereby connect to an interactive media 150 such as a webpage.
  • Thus, the game system may be configured for operation with a website or webpage. In some variations, the game system include game logic (e.g. programming, software, firmware, etc), that controls or regulates game play. The game logic may be local (e.g., it may be run or executed on the processor 121 of the system), or it may be distributed. For example, a ‘client’ component may be executed locally, which may interface with a server (e.g., website).
  • The interactive media may control aspects of the game play such as coordinating multiplayer game play. For example, the interactive media may coordinate communication between multiple (remotely located) players, picking opponents (players), maintaining scoring, tournament play, etc. A player or user may log into the website via a profile that keeps historic information (e.g., high scores, etc.). The interactive media may include social networking.
  • FIG. 1 also illustrates how the game systems described herein may be used with multiplayer online play using the keypad foot mat to send/receive text messages or play other text based games. In this example, the first user 131 and the second user 132 are remotely located, and game play between the two is coordinated by the interactive media 150. Additional players 135 may also play, and may include players that are not using a keypad foot system. For example, a player may pay using widget (e.g., a desktop tool) to simulate the keypad foot mat system 143. For example, FIG. 2C illustrates an example of a desktop widget 252 used by a player 107′. This player 107′ may remotely interact with other users who are using the keypad foot system to play.
  • For example, in one variation of the game, which may be referred to by its own name, such as “What's The Word”, multiple users may interact to solve word puzzles, answer questions (in a quiz-type format), or the like, by sending text responses using the keypad foot mats. In some variations a user may also be permitted to play using a keypad widget 143, as mentioned (this type of play may be handicapped). The game system could allow the player to toggle between game play and messaging (e.g., “chatting”) using the same keypad foot mat.
  • In addition to the multiplayer formats of play, single-user, or tutorial modes of play may be included. In general, during game play, the player composes text messages (which may be shorthand text messages commonly associated with cellular or mobile phones, or longhand messages composed of alphanumeric text). In a tutorial, the system may indicate a first message that the player is supposed to ‘copy’ as a text message by stepping, jumping or dancing on the keypad with their feet. The response text message may be timed, and checked for accuracy to score. FIG. 2A illustrates one variation of such a game, in which the player 107 is stepping on the phone keypad mat 101 to copy the message (“Text it!”) that is shown in the upper half of the screen 105. As the player spells the text message, the response is displayed on the lower half of the screen 105. The system may be configured so that the player can select different difficulty levels.
  • As mentioned, the output device for the game system may be a computer or a phone (e.g., a cell phone). For example, the game system may be used to plug into a cell phone, and allow the player to send text messages to his or her friends while playing.
  • Playing with the game systems described herein may involve the performance of dance-like moves involving moving the feet at a fast rate across the phone keypad mat. Game levels may include a text challenges as well as speed challenges, and play may be single-player or multiple-player, so that players can compete against each other either remotely, for example, through a website, or in the same location.
  • The interactive media may include multiple games (e.g., a menu of text based games), as well as allowing social or interactive elements based on text messaging. For example a websites dedicated to the game system (and compatible with the game system) may allow players to play directly against other players, or to simply text them. The website may also include downloads of new games, or modifications of games, a bank of high scores, and a reward system. As mentioned, the devices may also be used as part of a social networking website. A player may go onto a game system website and download more games, or upload their high scores, or play games against other players. The reward system may be based on the player score, and may provide prizes such as digital prizes (e.g., additional games, or the like).
  • FIG. 3 illustrates one variation of a game system, including various optional components. In FIG. 3, a phone keypad foot mat input 201 (also referred to as simply a “phone keypad mat” or a “keypad mat”) is connected to a game controller 203. As described above, the phone keypad foot mat input is typically a foot mat that includes a plurality of “buttons” or regions that correspond to alphanumeric characters that may be used to draft and send text messages. For example, the phone keypad foot mat may be made to resemble an enlarged phone keypad (e.g., a cell phone key pad) typically used to text message. The phone keypad foot mat input is generally sufficiently large so that the matrix (e.g., 3×5) of input regions can fit on it, so that a child and/or an adult can reach and step on any of the input regions while standing on the mat. The input regions may be spaced apart sufficiently to allow the player to jump, dance or hop to step on them.
  • The input regions may also be referred to as buttons or keys. In general, the input regions are sized so that the player's foot can comfortably step on it without unintentionally activating adjacent input regions. The input regions may be marked to indicate the button or key to which they correspond. For example, the input region may include the alphanumeric keys that can be used to text message.
  • The phone keypad foot mat input may include an enlarged image of a telephone key pad. FIG. 4A illustrates one variation of a telephone keypad having buttons that may be used for text messaging. In addition to the standard 12 buttons (arranged as an array of 3×4 buttons) for a telephone key pad, the phone keypad mat, the phone keypad foot mat may also include additional input regions that correspond to other phone and/or cell phone text messaging keys, such as “send”, “shift”, arrow keys, alt, delete, punctuation keys, symbols, talk, or the like. As mentioned, the keypad foot mat may also be configured in other ways. The keypad foot mat may also be configured similar to a computer keyboard. For example, FIG. 4B illustrates the layout of a computer keyboard.
  • Returning now to FIG. 3, the phone keypad foot mat 201 may be a floor mat, or it may be stage or platform. In some variations, the phone keypad foot mat is a projected mat that can be projected onto the floor (or another surface). The input regions may include one or more sensors for detecting footsteps, or the detectors may be separate from the phone keypad foot mat. For example, an input region may include a pressure sensor, a motion detector, or the like. Separate sensors may include one or more cameras for determining position or motion relative to the mat.
  • In some variations, the system may include one or more sensors for determining the position of a players feet and/or hands or other body parts. Thus, the system may be configured for the player to send a text message (or otherwise enter text) by stepping or gesturing. In some variations the system does not include a dedicated ‘mat’, but may project a ‘mat’ on a surface (or surfaces); individual ‘buttons’ may be projected, allowing the patient to move to contact these buttons to create and/or send a text message. For example, the system may include one or more sensors configured to connect to the subject's body (e.g., ankles, shoes, feet, wrists, torso, etc.) to determine position of various body portions. In some variations, the system may include a camera for determining body movement and/or position.
  • The game controller generally includes one or more processors 215 for receiving and processing input from the phone keypad foot mat input 101. The processor may provide messages for the player to respond to, may score the player input (the received text message) by comparing it to the message provided or the response expected to the provided message, and may generate a response (including a score) to the player input. In general, the game controller regulates game play.
  • Processors or other components of the game system may also include a dictionary and/or thesaurus to aid game play and may include a dictionary of commonly used text words and phrases, such as “LOL”, “TTYL”, “How R U?”, etc. This may be particularly helpful in games having a free-composition or spelling component.
  • The game controller 203 may be a stand-alone controller (e.g., a console), including hardware and/or software, or it may be completely or partially software configured to run on a general computer (e.g., a home computer) or on a server (e.g., a website). In some variations the game controller is integral with the phone keypad mat 201. In other variations the game controller 203 is a separate unit, as shown in the example of FIG. 2A. FIG. 2B is an alternatively illustration of one variation of a computer system being used by a player 107 to send a text message (displayed on a screen 105).
  • The game controller 203 may also receive inputs other than just the phone keypad foot mat inputs 201. For example, optional inputs from a user 207 and an external input 209 are indicated in FIG. 3. A user input may include a button, switch, dial, or the like that may be on the game system. For example, the game system may include a control allowing selection of the game variation, the number of players, the difficulty level, etc. The system may also include an on/off switch. External inputs may include cell phone text messages (e.g., received by the system), inputs from a computer or external server or network (e.g., for networked game play).
  • As mentioned, any appropriate output 205 may be used with the game system. In some variations the game includes a dedicated display (e.g., screen, monitor, projector, etc.). The output may also be a television monitor 211 or computer monitor, or a computer 212 or cell phone 213. The connection to the output device may be wired (e.g., via a cable or cord), or wireless (using technologies such as Bluetooth or other wireless communication devices and methods). Thus, the game controller may also include an output interface 217 for formatting and/or controlling output. In some variations the device allows multiple outputs, either simultaneously or alternatively.
  • As mentioned above, the game system may be used to play any appropriate game. For example, the game system may be used to play a tutorial type games (e.g., copying a provided word or phrase) which may be timed or and checked for accuracy. Physical challenges (e.g., instructing which foot or other body part to use for texting) may also be part of any of the games using the system. Other types of games include quiz/answer games, including trivia games, learning games for learning spelling, vocabulary, other languages, geography, science, math, and the like. Games may include word games (e.g., hangman, fill-in-the-blank, “mad libs”, etc.), spelling challenges, or the like. Puzzle games (e.g., unscrambling words, crosswords, scrabble, etc.) may also be played. Typing of words could also lead to shooter activation or other types of game play. The game system may also be used to communicate (e.g., send/receive text messages) with other players or with other text messaging systems (cell phones, PDAs, etc.).
  • The game systems described herein may also be used with other games, including computer games, to control input, e.g., by providing text message input. For example, the game system may be used to control the actions of a video or computer game character.
  • While the devices and methods for using them have been described in some detail here by way of illustration and example, such illustration and example is for purposes of clarity of understanding only. It will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in light of the teachings herein that certain changes and modifications may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

Claims (34)

1. A text messaging exercise game system, the system comprising:
a keypad foot mat having a plurality of input regions for inputting alphanumeric characters, wherein the mat is configured to allow a user to input text by stepping on the input regions; and
a game controller configured to receive data input from the keypad foot mat as text, and to output the text to be displayed by an output device.
2. The system of claim 1, wherein the keypad foot mat resembles a phone keypad.
3. The system of claim 1, wherein the keypad foot mat resembles a computer keyboard.
4. The system of claim 1 further comprising an output device configured to display the output text.
5. The system of claim 4, wherein the output device comprises a video screen.
6. The system of claim 4, wherein the output device comprises a phone or PDA.
7. The system of claim 1, wherein the keypad foot mat is a flexible mat.
8. The system of claim 1, wherein the keypad foot mat comprises projected images of buttons or button regions.
9. The system of claim 1, wherein the foot mat includes an enlarged image of a phone keypad and the input regions correspond to buttons on the image of the phone keypad.
10. The system of claim 1, wherein the input regions of the keypad foot mat each comprises a sensor configured to detect a user stepping on that input region.
11. The system of claim 1, wherein the game controller comprises a processor configured to provide a message output to be responded to using the keypad foot mat.
12. The system of claim 1, wherein the game controller comprises an output interface for formatting the output.
13. A text messaging exercise game system, the system comprising:
a phone keypad foot mat having a plurality of different regions corresponding to alphanumeric characters, wherein the mat is configured to allow a user to input text by stepping on the mat regions; and
a game controller functionally connected to the phone keypad foot mat, and configured to provide a first text to be responded to, and further configured to receive a response text from the phone keypad foot mat, and to output a score based on the response and the first text.
14. A method of playing a text messaging game, the method comprising:
presenting a first message;
receiving a response text from a keypad foot mat;
scoring the response text based on the first message; and
providing an output based on the score or the response text.
15. The method of claim 14, further comprising detecting footsteps on the phone keypad foot mat to generate a response text.
16. The method of claim 14, further comprising timing the receipt of the response text.
17. The method of claim 14, further comprising scoring the response text based on how similar the response text is to the first message.
18. The method of claim 14, further comprising scoring the response text based on the timing of the receipt of the response text.
19. The method of claim 14, further comprising displaying the first message, the response text, and the output.
20. The method of claim 14, further comprising providing a reward based on the score.
21. The method of claim 14, further comprising displaying an animation based on the score or the response text.
22. The method of claim 14, wherein the first message comprises a text to be copied as the response text.
23. The method of claim 14, wherein the first message comprises a question to be answered as the response text.
24. The method of claim 14, wherein the first message comprises a puzzle to be solved as the response text.
25. A text messaging exercise game system, the system comprising:
a keypad foot mat having a plurality of different regions corresponding to alphanumeric characters, wherein the mat is configured to allow a first user to input texts by stepping on the mat regions;
a game controller functionally connected to the keypad foot mat, the game controller configured to transmit a text from the keypad foot mat to a remote digital game media and to receive messages from the remote digital game media; and
wherein the remote digital game media is configured to receive input from the first remote keypad and to transmit the received input to a second user.
26. The system of claim 25, wherein the remote digital game media comprises a website.
27. The system of claim 25, further comprising a display configured to display the messages received from the remote digital game media.
28. The system of claim 27, wherein the remote digital game media is configured to receive input from a plurality of remote keypads and to transit the received input to a plurality of users.
29. A method of playing a text messaging game, the method comprising:
presenting a first question;
receiving a response text from a keypad foot mat;
scoring the response text based on the first question; and
providing an output based on the score or the response text.
30. The method of claim 29, wherein the first question is related to a text based game.
31. The method of claim 30, wherein the text based game is a quiz game.
32. The method of claim 30, wherein the text based game is a number game.
33. The method of claim 30, wherein the text based game is a spelling game.
34. The method of claim 30, wherein the text based game is a vocabulary game.
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