US20120196685A1 - System and method of using directed energy to monitor or manipulate a gaming device - Google Patents

System and method of using directed energy to monitor or manipulate a gaming device Download PDF

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US20120196685A1
US20120196685A1 US13/360,586 US201213360586A US2012196685A1 US 20120196685 A1 US20120196685 A1 US 20120196685A1 US 201213360586 A US201213360586 A US 201213360586A US 2012196685 A1 US2012196685 A1 US 2012196685A1
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server
data exchange
relay node
gaming machine
exchange relay
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US13/360,586
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II Albert Leroy Perrien
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AHA CONCEPTS Inc
AHA CONCEPTS Inc A DELAWARE CORP
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AHA CONCEPTS Inc A DELAWARE CORP
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Priority to US13/360,586 priority patent/US20120196685A1/en
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3202Hardware aspects of a gaming system, e.g. components, construction, architecture thereof
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3202Hardware aspects of a gaming system, e.g. components, construction, architecture thereof
    • G07F17/3223Architectural aspects of a gaming system, e.g. internal configuration, master/slave, wireless communication
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F17/00Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services
    • G07F17/32Coin-freed apparatus for hiring articles; Coin-freed facilities or services for games, toys, sports or amusements, e.g. casino games, online gambling or betting
    • G07F17/3225Data transfer within a gaming system, e.g. data sent between gaming machines and users

Abstract

A system and method for retrofitting an existing casino server and at least one server-based gaming machine in a room to make the gaming machine communicatively-interactive within a communication network (e.g., multi-media enabled), without the use of Wi-Fi, wherein there is an existing data/communication exchange (e.g., DSL) between the existing server and the at least one server-based gaming machine. The system includes a pair of network switches, where one is hardwired to the existing server and other is hardwired to the gaming machine or machines. A pair of data exchange relay nodes is communicatively connected to their respective switch and transmits/receives data up to Gigabits through a directed energy beam, such as an infrared laser beam. A security globe may be used to conceal the server side data exchange relay node(s) or the gaming machine-side data exchange relay nodes, or both.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATION
  • This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/437,710, filed Jan. 31, 2011, and entitled “A method of using directed energy to monitor or manipulate a gaming device.”
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • The present invention relates generally to a system and method of monitoring gaming machines in a casino, more specifically the present invention is directed to providing a new interactive data/communication link between the gaming machines and the casino server through a beam of directed energy, such as an infrared laser beam.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Most casino gaming floors consist of a variety of table games, random number ticket games, and electronic gaming machines. Traditionally, electronic gaming machines, also known as slot machines, have been operated by a lever on the side of the gaming machine or a button on the front panel. More modern gaming machines are operated by touching a graphical button located on a touch-sensitive video screen on the front of a gaming machine. These modern gaming machines can be dynamically updated to display not only the main game being played, but also additional video, graphical, Internet, or background (e.g., player tracking, accounting) content. Many of the newer gaming machines have more interactive features where access to the Internet is desired.
  • In order to monitor and provide updated content to the gaming machines, casino operators physically connect the gaming machines, using Ethernet cable, to central servers that contain specialized security protocols or various types of content. Physical, or hardwired connections, such as Ethernet cable, are customarily used to exchange data between central servers and gaming machines on casino floors since hardwired connections are more secure than wireless data exchange mechanisms, such as Wi-Fi, that can be intercepted, redirected or hacked by a skilled network specialist.
  • One of the primary technologies used in a modem casino for data transfer is DSL (Digital
  • Subscriber Line), a means of transferring high-speed communications (currently up to 12 megabits per second) over a regular phone line. In a typical casino, a DSL cable, (AKA telephone wire) is run underneath the carpet of a casino floor, with padding placed on top of it for protection. However, due to the high-traffic nature of casino floors, degradation of the cable eventually occurs, which results in decreased data exchange speed and quality over time. As well, the speed limitations of DSL, while well suited to delivering player tracking and accounting data, currently pose a problem when trying to deliver multiple large multimedia and other data streams to groups of players at the same time.
  • Alternately, Ethernet cable is run along the ceiling of a casino room and concealed using a drop ceiling. Ethernet cable is then dropped from the ceiling through a conduit to a bank of machines that is often times located ten or more feet below the ceiling, since many casinos have high ceilings. This can result in dozens of unsightly conduits or Ethernet cable lines.
  • One solution is to take the gaming machines out of service and off a casino floor in order to build a raised floor under which new Ethernet cable can be run that can then be connected to each bank of gaining machines. However, electronic gaming machines are one of the most popular gaming methods in casinos and constitute a large portion of U.S. casino operators' income. Taking gaming machines offline to conduct such infrastructure improvements would not only result in millions of dollars in direct renovation costs, but also lost revenue from offline gaming machines.
  • 802.11 technologies, also known as “Wi-Fi”, have also been considered for use on a casino gaming floor. There have been several problems slowing the adoption of this technology. Wi-Fi data is readable from anywhere within the range of the data transmission, and since this necessarily includes the casino floor, simple things like telephones, tablets and other electronic devices can interfere with the signal inadvertently or through malicious intent. Malicious interference can present a large problem, as there is no way to distinguish between simple noise and legitimate signals. Massive Wi-Fi networks suffer from performance problems due to CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) errors in data transmission. This is known as the Near-Far problem. Due to these problems, operators have given pause in the selection of this technology for the gaming floor.
  • Therefore, a need exists for a system and method that leverages existing server and communication networks white allowing casino operators to securely control and monitor gaming machines without expensive infrastructure improvements using the current means of physical data exchange.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention is directed to a system and method for retrofitting a casino gaming room having an existing server and existing gaming machines, such as slot machines, in order to make the existing gaming machines communicatively interactive, (e.g., multi-media) without disruption of the existing communication system, without major infrastructure cost, and without having to take the gaming machines offline. Alternatively, the present communication/network system may be installed as the primary communication network between casino servers and the gaming machines that need to be monitored and manipulated and does not require existing infrastructure. Here, the term manipulated is not intended to impart a negative connotation, but rather the ability to control the gaming machine as the casino owner/operator so intends.
  • The system of the present invention includes the addition of two network switches, where each network switch is hardwired (such as through Ethernet cable) to a respective server (or plurality of servers) and gaming machine, or bank of gaming machines, that are to be, controlled by the server or servers. Each network switch is communicatively connected to at least one data exchange relay node. Each server-side data exchange relay node is paired with a corresponding gaming machine-side data exchange relay node and positioned relative to each other in order to transmit and receive a directed energy beam therebetween. The directed energy beam may be an infrared laser beam, visible light beam, electromagnetic radiation, or sound. In this way, the data/communication transmitted between the pair of respective network switches and the pair of respective data exchange relay nodes via the directed energy beam allow for the monitoring and manipulation of data/communications between the server and the respective gaming machines at up to Gigabit speed.
  • In one form of the invention, the gaming machine-side switch may include ports to up to 48 gaming machines.
  • Each data exchange relay node may further include a data transmitter, a receiver, and a monitoring module. Each transmitter may also include an external “chimney” or other reflector to aid in directing the beam toward the receiver of the corresponding data exchange relay node receiver.
  • In another form of the invention, the server-side switch may be positioned within a ceiling of a casino room in which the gaming machines are controlled. The server-side data exchange relay node or nodes may then be mounted to the ceiling within the casino room and are positioned to transmit/receive data from corresponding gaming machine-side data exchange relay node or nodes. An optional security globe may be used to conceal the server-side data exchange relay node or nodes, yet allow the transmission and receipt of each directed energy beam between corresponding pairs of server-side and gaming machine-side data exchange relay nodes.
  • In yet another form of the invention, each server-side data exchange relay node may be physically connected to a mounting point through a swing bevel. In this embodiment, each mounting point is connected to the ceiling of the casino room. The swing bevel allows for maximum flexibility with respect to the positioning of each server-side data exchange relay node relative to its corresponding gaming machine-side data exchange relay node.
  • Further the invention may include a second security globe that conceals the gaming machine-side data exchange relay node and, optionally, the gaming machine-side switch as well. In this embodiment, the security globe may be placed atop of a post that is at or near the gaming machines or bank of gaming machines. The gaming machine-side data exchange relay node is positioned within the second security globe to transmit and receive the directed energy beam from its corresponding server-side data exchange relay node from within the first security globe. Similarly, the gaming machine-side data exchange relay node may be connected to the post through a swing bevel and mounting point to allow maximum rotational and lateral flexibility to accurately align the gaming machine-side data exchange relay node to its corresponding server-side data exchange relay node.
  • Each corresponding pair of data exchange relay nodes, whether concealed or not, are directed at each other in order to transmit and receive the directed energy beam to the other. If each pair of corresponding data exchange relay nodes is positioned relative to a planar floor and a planar ceiling of the casino room and the planar floor and planar ceiling are parallel to each other, the angle created by positioning the server-side data exchange relay mode as measured from the ceiling and the angle created by the gaming machine-side data exchange relay node relative to the planar floor should be the same value.
  • The invention further includes a method of directing energy to make a server-based gaming device interactive (e.g., multi-media enabled). The method includes adding a server network switch and a gaming machine network switch and hardwiring, such as through Ethernet cable, to a respective casino gaming server and a casino gaming machine or bank of machines. The server and gaming machine(s) may be existing or new construction. The server network switch and gaming machine network switch are each communicatively connected to a pair of data exchange relay nodes, where one relay node is the server relay node and the other is the gaming machine relay node. Each set of relay nodes are positioned relative to the other in order to transmit and receive a directed energy beam, such as infrared or visible light, electromagnetic radiation, or sound. The directed energy beam allows gigabits of data to be transmitted and received between the two relay nodes and ultimately between the server and gaming machine(s). Other variations to the structure are discussed above.
  • The method further includes a ping test that allows the casino operations to test whether the beam has been interrupted. If the beam has been interrupted such that it is not being transmitted or received, an alarm is triggered. Similarly, the method may further include a polarization test that allows the casino operations to test whether the directed beam wave intensity has diminished such that operation is compromised. If the beam intensity is below a certain established level, an alarm will trigger.
  • In the event that the present invention multi-media network is a retrofit to an existing server and gaming machine(s) that were controlled and monitored through an existing communication system with traditional DSL cables run under casino floor carpeting, the method may further include removing the existing and unsightly and potentially dangerous DSL cables under the carpets once the present invention multi-media network is in place.
  • The present system and method provide a low cost way to retrofit existing casino gaming machine to make it interactive (multi-media enabled) without taking the existing gaming machines offline. Additionally, because the system relies on a directed energy beam, there is high security in the transmission—certainly much higher than Wi-Fi. Additional security can be provided with us of one or more security globes that conceal the gaming side switch and relay node from consumer tampering and from view of the ordinary casino patron and the same for the corresponding server side relay node or nodes. Further security enhancements can be incorporated into the system to better detect security breaches (e.g:, beam interruption, beam intensity diminution).
  • These and other advantages will become more apparent upon review of the. Drawings, the Detailed Description of the Invention, and the Claims.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • Like reference numerals are used to designate like parts throughout the several views of the drawings, wherein:
  • FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a configuration whereby an interactive data/communications system of the present invention can be retrofitted to an existing casino server communication system that serves at least one casino gaming machine whereby to make the existing casino gaming machine interactive;
  • FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of a casino room configuration where multiple banks of existing casino gaming machines are retrofitted with the new interactive data/communication system wherein two switches and pairs of data exchange relay nodes transmit and receive data through beams of directed energy;
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of a representative (gaming machine-side illustrated) data exchange relay node consisting of a data transmitter, a receiver, and a monitoring module;
  • FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a data exchange relay node better illustrating the lens assembly for transmitting and receiving;
  • FIG. 5 is a bottom view of FIG. 4 with the internal components illustrated in cutaway;
  • FIG. 6 is a section view taken substantially along lines 6-6 of FIG. 4 and better illustrating the lens assembly;
  • FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram illustrating a plurality of server-side data exchange relay nodes transmitting a beam of directed energy to a corresponding gaming machine-side data exchange relay node (not illustrated) and wherein each server-side data exchange relay node may be mounted to the ceiling of the casino room through a mounting point and swing bevel and wherein all of the server side data exchange relay nodes related mounting components are shown concealed by an optional security globe;
  • FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram like that of FIG. 2 but illustrating an optional second security globe concealing the gaming machine-side data exchange node and gaming machine-side switch;
  • FIG. 9 is an enlarged schematic view of the optional second security globe assembly;
  • FIG. 10 is an enlarged side view of a gaming machine-side data exchange relay node and its mounting components;
  • FIG. 11 is a schematic diagram of a pair of corresponding data exchange relay nodes illustrating the representative angles for positioning the directed beam of energy;
  • FIG. 12 is a flow diagram illustrating a ping test;
  • FIG. 13 is a flow diagram illustrating a polarization test; and
  • FIG. 14 is a block diagram like that of FIG. 1, except illustrating another embodiment where the interactive data/communication casino network is adapted for new casino systems.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention is directed to a system and method for retrofitting an existing casino server(s) and gaming machine data/communication network for interactively monitoring and manipulating the gaming machines through the existing server(s) without costly infrastructure upgrades or requiring that the gaming machines, go offline during the retrofit. Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the new interactive data/communication system 100 includes adding network switches 102, 104, data exchange relay nodes 200, 300, and a directed beam of energy 106 between the corresponding data exchange relay nodes between an existing casino server or servers 10 and existing gaming machines 20 that are already communicatively connected, typically through a DSL cable 30 that runs underneath carpeting 40 covering the floor 50 of a casino room 60.
  • Interactive data/communications system 100 includes the addition of a gaming machine-side network switch 102 and server-side network switch 104, and a pair or pairs of data exchange relay nodes (gaming machine-side) 200, (server-side) 300 that exchange data through a beam of directed energy 106. The beam of directed energy 106 may be infrared light, visible light, electromagnetic radiation, or sound.
  • Gaming machine-side network switch 102 is hardwired, such as through Ethernet cable 108, to a corresponding gaming machine 20. Likewise, server-side network switch 104 is, hardwired to the server (or servers) 10. Network'switches 102, 104 are communicatively connected to respective data exchange relay nodes 200, 300. Gaming machine-side network switch 102 is communicatively-connected to gaming machine-side data exchange relay node 200 and server-side network switch 104 is communicatively connected to server-side data exchange relay node or nodes 300. In one form of the invention, each network switch 102, 104 is hardwired, again through Ethernet cable 108, to its respective data exchange relay node 200, 300.
  • As illustrated in FIG. 2, network switch 102 may be external of the, gaming machines 20 to accommodate interactive data/communication exchange for more than one gaming machine 20. However, network switch 102 may be installed internally of each gaming machine or in an alternate embodiment discussed further herein.
  • Network switch 104, which is hardwired to the server or bank of servers, may be installed above the casino room 60's ceiling 110. Casino server or bank of servers 10 may be in a special room or closet within the casino room or in a different part of the casino. In this embodiment, Ethernet cable 108 runs from the server or servers overhead to switch 104, which is then preferably hardwired to a corresponding data exchange relay node 300 or a bank of corresponding data exchange relay nodes 300 that is/are mounted at or near ceiling 110 but positioned within casino room 60 generally centrally of gaming machines or banks of gaming machines 20.
  • As schematically illustrated in the broken lines of FIG. 2, the gaming machine-side network switch 102 and the gaming machine-side data exchange relay node may be combined into a single unit. Network switch 102 may be ported to up to 48 gaming machines.
  • Referring also FIGS. 3-6, a representative data exchange unit is illustrated. For clarity, the gaming machine-side data exchange nomenclature is used, although each data exchange relay node 200, 300 can be identical to each other. FIG. 3 shows a schematic representation of the main components of the data exchange relay node 200. Relay node 200 may consist of a data transmitter 202, a receiver 204, and a monitoring module 206.
  • The directed beam of energy transmission may be like that of RONJA technology developed by Twibright Laboratories of Zurich, Switzerland and Prague, Czech Republic.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 4-6, illustrations of one embodiment of the relay node 200 (or 300) are shown. Relay node 200 further includes a lens assembly 208 (receptor transmitter marked 208A and receptor marked 208B) with polarization plate 210, an LED 212 for emitting a laser beam 214, preferably infrared, a photodiode 216, a laser guide mount 218, a control circuit 220 (the monitoring module which includes a light (wave) level sensor), a power source 222, a cable jack 224 (e.g., Ethernet cable jack RJ45), and an enclosure case 226. Control circuit 220 includes a transmitter chip 220A and a receiver chip 220B, which may be like the RONJA control circuits disclosed in Appendix A and Appendix B, respectively. Control circuit 220 includes a twister chip 220C that converts the LED transmissions to Ethernet, such as disclosed in the RONJA twister control circuit in Appendix C. In addition to the polarization plate 210 (FIG. 6), lens assembly 208 further includes an input lens 228 and an output lens 230, that may be convex for a focal length of 20 meters. A chimney 232 functions as a reflector to direct the energy (laser) beam.
  • The component parts are generally considered off the shelf items. The LED may be similar to LUMILEDS SuperFlex HPWT LED series. The photodiode may be similar to VISHAY Semiconductors' BPW34 series or OSRAM's SFH 203 series.
  • Referring also to FIG. 7, data exchange relay node 200 receives data from and transmits data to its corresponding (or partner) data exchange relay node 300 via the beam of directed energy 106. A plurality of partner data exchange relay nodes 300 may be grouped and concealed by a security globe 400 that would conceal the group of relay nodes, but would allow the beam of directed energy 106 to pass through the security globe to be received by a corresponding relay node 200. In one form of the invention, the security globe may be or be like a disco ball that has opaque properties with respect to regular light but is transparent to infrared light. Further the disco ball appearance will likely blend in with the decor of many existing and new casinos.
  • Each server-side relay node 300 may be attached to a mount point 302 via a swing bevel 304. According to one embodiment of the invention, the mount point 302 is attached to casino room ceiling 110. Each mount point is communicatively connected, such as through Ethernet cable, to switch 108. The swing bevel allows for rotational and lateral movement in order to align the lens assembly transmitter and receptor to align with its corresponding gaming machine-side relay node 200.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 8-10, an optional embodiment is illustrated where a second security globe or globes 402 are added on the gaming machine-side. The gaming side security globe assembly 404 conceals the gaming machine-side data exchange relay 200 (illustrated with its lens assembly and LED 212 shown in broken lines. Relay node 200 is mounted to a mounting point 234 and swing bevel 236, similar to those illustrated at “302” and “304”, respectively, in FIG. 7. Mounting point 234 is attached to a base 238, such as by a restraining bolt and fly washer assembly 240, as illustrated. Base 238 is attached to a post 242 that provides structural support for the security globe 402 and the relay node 200, but also includes the cabling and circuit control boards 244. The Ethernet cable 108 from the relay node 200 connects with the circuit control boards 244. Post 242 may be seated atop a base 246 to which it and the gaming machines may be atop of. Ethernet cable 108 may be guided by a wire guide 247 in base 246. Base 246 may include the gaming machine side switch 102 and an Ethernet jack 248 (which may be like the Ethernet jack designated 224). An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) 250 is connected to each gaming machine 20 to avoid power shutdown when adding the new system components to the existing casino server-gaming machine system.
  • Referring now to FIG. 11, a relay station 200 is paired to a relay node 300 by equating the inside angle “α” created by the imaginary plane 112, which is parallel to the floor 50, and the beam of directed energy 106, with the inside angle “β” created by the imaginary plane 114, which is parallel to the ceiling 110, and the beam of directed energy 106. If the floor 50 and the ceiling are parallel to each other, the angles α and β are equal. However, the angles will be determined by the specific casino room requirements and where the gaming machine-side relay node is positioned relative to the server-side relay node.
  • Referring to FIGS. 12 and 13, the gaming machine monitoring method 1000 and 2000 consist of server side software for monitoring the communication between each data exchange relay node 200, 300. Each method is testing for whether a defect (fault) has occurred.
  • The flow diagram of FIG. 12 illustrates a ping test that monitors and tests for beam interruption where an alarm would trigger. A paired and synchronized relay node 200 or 300 starts in block 1200. In block 1200, the casino data network operator may set the ping anomaly frequency threshold variable, X2, at server 10. The ping anomaly frequency threshold variable, X2, is the number of consecutive anomalies that will grant the condition of the alarm being tripped. In block 1300, a casino data network operator may set a ping timing threshold variable X3 and ping anomaly frequency threshold X2 at the server. The ping timing threshold variable X3 is measured in milliseconds, preferably between one and 100 milliseconds. In block 1400, a casino data network operator transmits a ping from the server 10 to the server-side relay node 300. In decision block 1500, the software depicted by gaming machine monitoring method 1000 transmits a ping from a server 10 to a connected relay node 300 wherein the relay node monitoring module (such as the schematic representation identified as “206”) receives and transmits the ping and then listens for a response ping from the corresponding data exchange relay node monitoring module. If the ping is returned within the ping timing threshold X3, the gaming machine monitoring method returns to block 1400. If the ping is not returned, a counter X4 is incremented, until the timing threshold is reached. Once the timing threshold is reached, the alarm is tripped as illustrated in block 1600.
  • The invention further includes a polarization test that detects a decrease in the beam 106 (or wave) intensity. Referring to FIG. 13, a casino data network operator may set the polarization tolerance variable, Z1, at each server 10 for content being transmitted to server-side relay node 300 as illustrated in block 2100. The polarization tolerance variable, Z1, is a signal strength measured as a percentage of the initial beam signal strength set at each relay node and is preferably set to a value between one and ten percent. A light level sensor (LLS) [or wave level sensor] at block 2200 senses the beam intensity level and a determination is made if the LSS level is below threshold Z1. If so, an alarm is tripped (block 2500).
  • The polarization test may also include an intermediate step to account for anomalies as taken at blocks 2110, 2300 and 2400 where an incremental anomaly threshold, Z2 (e.g., 2-3 anomalies) is set by the a casino data network operator at a server 10 as illustrated in block 2110. A counter measurement of the number of anomalies is taken at block 2300 and compared to whether the increment counter exceeds the anomaly count threshold Z2 in block 2400. If the number of counted incremental anomalies exceeds the incremental anomaly threshold Z2, the alarm (at block 2500) is tripped.
  • Because specks of dust or an insect may unintentionally decrease the beam intensity for a very small increment of time, the polarization test may also include a short delay before the alarm is tripped. Referring to block 2120 of FIG. 13, a sensor repeat delay variable, Z3, may be set again at the server. The LSS determines the number of anomalies and waits the set amount variable Z3 in block 2250. The period of delay is in terms of five to 15 milliseconds, similar to the timing range as in the ping test. Once the period of delay as set by variable Z3 has run, the anomaly counter in block 2300 is compared to the Z2 threshold. If the anomaly increment count exceeds the Z2 threshold, the alarm is tripped (block 2500).
  • Referring now again to FIGS. 1 and 2, once the retrofitted interactive data/communications network is installed between the server and the gaming machine(s), the existing DSL communication system may be removed altogether or may continue to act as a secondary backup system.
  • An optional reflector 116 (FIG. 2), such as a mirror, may be installed in the casino room to provide additional beam direction in the event that space constraints exist.
  • Referring also to FIG. 14, the present interactive data/communications system and method may be applicable to new casino servers and gaming machines. New server or servers 130 and new gaming machines 140 may be installed along with the interactive data/communication network as described above.
  • Advantages of the present interactive data/communications system include the ability to effectively and inexpensively retrofit existing casino gaming machines without taking the casino machines off-line. Further, the new interactive data/communication system and method is highly secure and can be used in new construction or original equipment manufacturing (OEM) applications.
  • The illustrated embodiments are only examples of the present invention and, therefore, are non-limitive. It is to be understood that many changes in the particular structure, materials, and features of the invention may be made without departing, from the spirit and scope of the invention. Therefore, it is the Applicant's intention that his patent rights not be limited by the particular embodiments illustrated and described herein, but rather by the following claims interpreted according to accepted doctrines of claim interpretation, including the Doctrine of Equivalents and Reversal of Parts.

Claims (17)

1. A system for retrofitting an existing casino server and at least one server-based gaming machine in a room of a casino to make the gaming machine and interactive within a communication network, wherein there is an existing data/communication exchange between the existing server and the at least one server-based gaming machine; said system comprising:
a gaming machine network switch that is hardwired with communication cable to the at least one existing gaming machine;
a gaming machine data exchange relay node that is communicatively connected to the gaming machine network switch and that such data exchange can be monitored and manipulated;
a corresponding server data exchange relay node that is communicatively connected to the gaming machine data exchange relay node via a directed energy beam and that such data exchange can be monitored and manipulated;
a server network switch that is hardwired with communication cable between the server data exchange relay node and the existing server.
2. The system according to claim 1 wherein the directed energy beam is one of the following: infrared light, visible light, electromagnetic radiation, or sound.
3. The system according to claim 1 wherein the directed energy beam is a low-energy infrared laser beam.
4. The system according to claim 1 wherein the server network switch is concealed outside of the room and the server data exchange relay node is positioned within the casino room; and
the system further comprising a security globe to conceal the server data exchange relay node from view but allows the directed energy beam to pass through the security globe in order to transmit and receive data exchanged with its corresponding gaming machine data exchange relation node.
5. The system according to claim 4 wherein each server data exchange relay node is connected to a mounting point connected to the ceiling and communicatively connected to the server switch via a swing bevel that allows the server data exchange relay node a range of rotational and lateral movement and wherein the security globe conceals the mounting point, swing bevel, and server data exchange relay node from view of an ordinary casino patron while in the room.
6. The system according to claim 4 wherein each gaming machine data exchange relay node is concealed within a second security globe.
7. The system according to claim 1 wherein each data exchange relay node further includes a data transmitter, a receiver, and a monitor module.
8. The system according to claim 7 wherein each data exchange relay node further includes an LED, a photodiode, a lens assembly having a transmitter lens and a receptor lens, control circuit, power source, and communication link.
9. The system according to claim 8 wherein the lens assembly further includes a chimney reflector for the transmitter lens and receptor lens.
10. The system according to claim 1 wherein an external reflector may be added to aid in directing the energy beam.
11. A system for making one or more server-based gaming machines multi-media enabled; said system comprising:
a gaming machine network switch that is hardwired with communication cable to the at least one existing gaming machine;
a gaming machine data exchange relay node that is communicatively connected to the gaming machine switch;
a corresponding server data exchange relay node that is communicatively connected to the gaming machine data exchange relay node via a directed energy beam;
a server network switch that is hardwired with communication cable between the server data exchange relay node and a server that controls the one or more gaming machines.
12. A method for providing a multi-media communication network between one or more casino servers and at least one server-based gaming machine within a casino room; said method comprising:
providing a pair of network switches, wherein one network switch is hardwired to the at least one server and the other network switch is hardwired to the at least one gaming machine;
providing a pair of data exchange relay nodes that are capable of transmitting and receiving a data signal through a directed beam of energy and being monitored, wherein said pair of data exchange relay nodes are each communicatively connected between the two network switches;
positioning the one data exchange relay node near the gaming machine and the other data exchange relay node apart from the other data exchange relay node, but within the casino room, so that the two data exchange relay nodes are aligned in order to transmit the directed beam of energy to the receptor of the corresponding data exchange relay node and vice-versa; and
monitoring the data exchange between the server and the gaming machine.
13. The method according to claim 12 further comprising:
adding a ping test to test for the presence or absence of the directed energy beam comprising the steps of:
setting a ping timer for an acceptable threshold limit for when ping signal must be received;
sending out a ping signal via the server through the data exchange relay node, near the server;
determining if the ping signal returned to the pinging data exchange relay node from the data exchange relay node near the gaming machine was within the accepted threshold level; and
tripping an alarm when the ping signal did not return within the threshold limits.
14. The method according to claim 12 further comprising adding a polarization test to determine if the beam intensity is diminished below an established threshold level by:
setting a polarization tolerance that measures acceptable beam intensity level at the server;
sensing the beam intensity of the energy beam transmitted from the data exchange relay node closest to the server to the corresponding data exchange relay node;
determining if the beam intensity level is within the, set polarization tolerance; and
tripping the alarm if the sensed beam intensity level is below the set tolerance.
15. The method according to claim 13 further comprising the incremental step of setting a threshold anomaly count, sensing incremental anomalies, counting each incremental anomaly, and comparing the sensed incremental count to the threshold anomaly count, and triggering the alarm if the determined incremental anomaly count exceeds the threshold anomaly count.
16. The method according to claim 15 further comprising setting a sensor repeat delay in a small increment of time and delaying the polarization test the amount of the sensor repeat delay before the final incremental anomalies are counted and compared to the threshold anomaly count, and wherein the alarm is triggered if the determined incremental anomaly count exceeds the threshold anomaly count.
17. The method according to claim 16 wherein the sensor repeat delay is set within a range of 1 to 100 milliseconds.
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