CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
- STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH
- FIELD OF INVENTION
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to digital jukebox apparatus and systems that allow users to input, store, and transmit digital information. In particular, the invention is directed to a digital jukebox apparatus and system that comprises a means for manually inputting the results of one or more pool matches, leagues, or tournaments, and uploading those results to a database management system for storage, review, and analysis.
Digital jukeboxes are well known. Frequently positioned inside a gathering place such as a bar, club, or restaurant, digital jukeboxes allow consumers to select one or more songs that are stored on a hard drive or remote server computer to be played aloud. Many digital jukebox embodiments comprise at least one (1) electronic display. In many digital jukebox embodiments, the display is a touchscreen that displays the music available for play and allows consumers to make selections of desired songs by simply touching a screen icon representing the desired song and depositing money into the jukebox. While music is playing or when no one is using the jukebox, typical digital jukeboxes use the electronic display to display advertising in an effort to increase revenues. In addition, many digital jukeboxes have access to the internet to update the music available on the jukebox and advertisements.
In many of the same establishments housing digital jukeboxes, owners make multiple pool (i.e., billiards) tables available to patrons (e.g., a pool hall). Such locations are popular for hosting pool leagues and tournaments. In addition, certain pool leagues conduct league matches at more than one location. The results and standings of pool league and tournament matches are typically recorded by hand and communicated to league/tournament participants via poster or newsletter.
In addition, typical pool leagues and tournaments require all participants to make some form of financial contribution, such as a league due or a tournament entry fee, in order to participate in league and tournament matches. Traditionally, league dues and tournament fees are collected by a team captain or tournament administrator by hand. This requires that such individuals manually maintain the accounting of the dues/fees they collect and monitor which players have paid and which have not. Failing to accurately keep track of dues/fees is unfair to the players who do pay the dues/fees and raises questions of legitimacy about the particular pool league/tournament, ultimately resulting in fewer players.
Some known methods for improving upon the recording and communication of pool league and tournament results have been invented. For example, the method disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/552,801 comprises manually filling out a scorecard by hand with match results and inserting the scorecard into a bill acceptor assembly whereby the results are transmitted to a remote processor where they are compiled. As another example, the method disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/953,315 comprises the electronic communication of match results to a host game server.
While the aforementioned methods make easier the recording and compilation of pool match results, there is still a need for single apparatus and system that provides users with a user-friendly and efficient means for entering match results, recording and compiling those results, making the results available to users on a plurality of platforms, and providing a convenient means for collecting and monitoring the payment of dues/fees associated with pool leagues and tournaments. There is a further need for an all-inclusive apparatus that is capable of performing the aforementioned pool league/tournament functions as well as performing the known functions of a digital jukebox, which allow both pool players and non-pool players to play selected music aloud. Finally, there is a need for a system that an establishment owner can deploy using a digital jukebox that he or she already owns that will allow for the effective management of pool matches, leagues, and tournaments that take place in the owner's establishment.
No system for effectively recording and communicating results of pool matches, leagues, and tournaments currently exists that takes advantage of existing apparatus already in use by establishment owners and allows patrons to play music aloud. Furthermore, there is no device or system that allows for the remote collection of required fees and dues from players participating in a pool match, tournament, or league.
It is an object of the present invention to provide, using a single device that an establishment owner may already own, the ability to play selected music in a place of public gathering and allow consumers to easily record, analyze, and communicate the results of pool matches, leagues, tournaments, as well as collect dues/fees from match, league, and tournament participants.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present invention generally comprises a digital jukebox that is comprised of at least one (1) electronic touchscreen, at least one (1) central processing unit, at least one (1) database management system installed on the jukebox itself or on a computer that is located remotely from the jukebox, and an electronic communication means (e.g., the internet) connecting the jukebox a network. Jukeboxes consistent with the present invention preferably also comprise a means for collecting money from pool league/tournament participants. The digital jukebox is connected to the electronic communications means in such a way that enables the jukebox to receive and transmit data. Consumers use the touchscreen display to manually input the results of the latest pool match. The results are then transmitted, either directly or through the electronic communications means, to the database management system where they are stored and analyzed. The database management system can be additionally capable of performing tasks such as tracking league results and comparing players who may compete at different locations. Furthermore, the database management system can be programmed to allow consumers to access a user interface (e.g., a website), that is updated by the database management system, from a personal computer and view information such as league/tournament standings and individual player statistics.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a digital jukebox device which may be utilized in certain embodiments of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a block diagram of an embodiment of a system that is consistent with the present invention.
The apparatus 1 shown in FIG. 1 is a preferred embodiment of a digital jukebox that may be used in the present invention. The apparatus 1 shown in FIG. 1 is an example of a wall-mounted digital jukebox. Notwithstanding the apparatus 1 shown in FIG. 1, any digital jukebox can be used for the present invention (e.g., a wall-mounted jukebox, a freestanding jukebox, a tabletop jukebox, etc.). The preferred embodiment of the apparatus 1 is comprised of at least one (1) electronic touchscreen 2, a central processing unit, a database management system, and either a hard drive capable of electronically storing the database management system and information typed into the electronic display 2 or a electronic communication means 5 that allows for information typed into the electronic display 2 to be communicated to a database management system when installed remotely. In preferred embodiments of the invention, the electronic display 2 comprises a “split screen,” where the top side of the screen is used to input information related to the applicable pool match, league, and/or tournament, and the bottom side of the screen is used for standard-jukebox-related functions such as music selection. As shown in FIG. 1, the electronic communications means 5 may be comprised of a standard Ethernet jack 5 capable of connection to Ethernet cable that allows the apparatus 1 to send and receive data through an internet connection, but any electronic communications means capable of transmitting data can be used. In more preferred embodiments of the apparatus 1, the apparatus comprises a means for collecting money from a user. As shown in FIG. 1, such money-collecting means may comprise a coin slot 4 and/or a bill acceptor 3.
As shown in FIG. 2, a preferred system consistent with the present invention begins with a player approaching a digital jukebox apparatus, such as the one 1 shown in FIG. 1, and typing 12 his or her username, which could be his or her actual name or a unique username, into a username field displayed on the electronic touchscreen. The username that is typed 12 by the player is then uploaded 15 to the database management system. In preferred embodiments of the present invention, the database management system is installed and executed on a remotely-located server and the username is uploaded using the electronic communications means. The database management system then determines 21 if the player is a known or new player. If a new player, the database management system creates 21 a new player profile and user account in a player database used by the database management system. If the player has an established player profile and user account, the database management system retrieves 21 the profile and account from the player database. The database management system can also link the known player to identified teams, tournaments, and leagues.
Preferred embodiments of the system consistent with the present invention are comprised of a means for collecting money from players. When a new or existing player profile and user account is retrieved 21 from the player database, the database management system determines 24 if the player is current with his or her league dues, tournament fees, or any other sums the player may owe in order to participate in a particular pool match. If the player is current in his or her payments, the database management system automatically moves on 27 to prompt the player to identify 37 the match that was either just played or is about to be played. If the player is not current in his or her payments, the database management system will alert the player of the outstanding balance owed and require 30 that the player bring his or her account current before being allowed to identify 37 the match that was either just played or is about to be played. If the player fails to pay the required dues/fees, the database management system can be programmed to refuse to receive statistics regarding that player, effectively shutting the player out of the match, league or tournament. In addition, by automatically collecting all required dues/fees from players, the present invention allows for local managers of leagues and tournaments to easily and effectively collect such dues/fees and track who has not yet paid the required dues/fees, thereby boosting the credibility of the league/tournament and increasing the number of players who participate.
Once the player is current with his or her dues/fees, the player is then asked to identify 37 the type of match the player has played or is about to play. The match could be a one-time “friendly” match, a regularly-scheduled league match, or part of a tournament. Once identified, and if the match has been played, the player types 39 the results of the match into the touchscreen. If the match has not yet been played, the player can save the match in the apparatus's random access memory, and the match results can be typed 39 into the touchscreen upon completion of the match.
Once inputted 39 into the digital jukebox apparatus, the match results are then uploaded 41 to the database management system (e.g., by using the electronic communication means). The database management system then electronically stores 43 the results in one or more databases. After the results have been stored, the database management system may be programmed in a variety of known ways to analyze 48 the stored match results by, e.g., comparing different players or teams to one another and tracking league results and standings over time.
The database management system can be further programmed to publish 60 both the stored and analyzed match results, e.g., by posting the analyzed results on a publicly-available or encrypted website. Players and other users can then remotely access the stored and analyzed match results through the jukebox apparatus itself or a personal computer with an internet connection. In preferred embodiments of the system, the database management system is comprised of a user interface (e.g., a webpage) that allows players and users to access stored and analyzed match results and view information such as player rankings, league standings, and tournament results.