US20140018153A1 - Audio playback and control between an electronic gaming machine and a mobile device - Google Patents

Audio playback and control between an electronic gaming machine and a mobile device Download PDF

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Publication number
US20140018153A1
US20140018153A1 US13/546,841 US201213546841A US2014018153A1 US 20140018153 A1 US20140018153 A1 US 20140018153A1 US 201213546841 A US201213546841 A US 201213546841A US 2014018153 A1 US2014018153 A1 US 2014018153A1
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audio
egm
mobile device
music
recited
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US13/546,841
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Dwayne R. Nelson
Steven G. LeMay
Scott T. Gowin
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IGT Inc
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IGT Inc
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Publication of US20140018153A1 publication Critical patent/US20140018153A1/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
    • 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
    • G07F17/3227Configuring a gaming machine, e.g. downloading personal settings, selecting working parameters

Abstract

Music and sounds from a player's mobile device, such as a smart phone or tablet, can be played on an electronic gaming machine during game play. The invention enables a player of an electronic gaming machine to have music from his mobile device be played on the gaming machine as background music during game play. Music files from the player's mobile device are transmitted or streamed to the EGM and the audio is output during game play. A casino may have an audio files library where the files are tagged with certain categories (e.g., game type, specific game, promotion type, etc.). These tags are used to facilitate music and sound selection for the EGM. Music and sounds may be sourced from the player's mobile device, the casino's audio library, or from online sources.

Description

    BACKGROUND
  • 1. Field of the Described Embodiments
  • The described embodiments relate generally to gaming systems, such as gaming systems deployed in a casino enterprise. More particularly, it relates to controlling and outputting audio content between an electronic gaming machine and a mobile device.
  • 2. Description of the Related Art
  • Developing and maintaining a loyal customer base is a critical component of operating a successful casino enterprise. To develop a loyal customer base, casino enterprises attempt to generate interactions with their patrons that provide a unique and personalized game playing experience.
  • An ever increasing portion of patrons that visit casinos are regularly carrying mobile devices, such as smart phones, laptops, netbooks, and tablet/slate computers. The mobile devices provide entertainment features, such as audio playback and often store a repository of music and lists of a player's favorite music. For this and other reasons, mobile devices, such as smart phones, have become essential tools and in some instances, the primary electronic interface for many individuals.
  • The popularity of mobile devices allows for the possibility of utilizing their capabilities to further personalize and enhance a player's gaming experience through better utilizing music and audio in general in a casino gaming environment, in particular when playing an electronic gaming machine. As such, it would be desirable to bring audio to the gaming machine experience by leveraging a player's mobile device.
  • SUMMARY OF THE DESCRIBED EMBODIMENTS
  • One aspect of the present invention enables a player of an electronic gaming machine to have music from his mobile device be played on the gaming machine as background music during game play. Music files from the player's mobile device are transmitted or streamed to the EGM and the audio is output during game play. In another aspect of the present invention, the casino may have an audio files library where the files are tagged with certain categories (e.g., game type, specific game, promotion type, etc.). These tags are used to facilitate music and sound selection for the EGM. Music and sounds may be sourced from the player's mobile device, the casino's audio library, or from online sources. The music may be blended or be played in various ways (e.g., fade-in, fade-out) on the EGM depending on who the player is, what games are played, EGM data, whether the player is a hotel guest, and so on. The personalization and customization of the music and sounds on the EGM to suit the player's preferences enhances the overall gaming experience of the player.
  • Another aspect of the present invention is a method of playing music from a mobile device on a gaming machine. The gaming machine receives a file containing audio data from the mobile device. It also receives input from a player which causes the audio file to be played on the gaming machine. It is then determined when to play the audio file on the gaming machine during game play. The audio file from the mobile device and gaming machine audio are then played at different times during game play.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The embodiments will be readily understood by the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals designate like structural elements, and in which:
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective drawing of a gaming system that allows for interactions between a mobile device and an EGM in accordance with one embodiment;
  • FIGS. 2A and 2B are block diagrams illustrating communication pathways between the EGM, a mobile device, and a server in accordance with one embodiment;
  • FIG. 3 is a network diagram of a gaming machine, a mobile device, and related components in accordance with one embodiment;
  • FIG. 4 is a block diagram of an audio library as it may be stored on a server in a gaming network in a casino in accordance with one embodiment; and
  • FIG. 5 is a flow diagram of a process of playing music from a player's mobile device on an EGM during game play in accordance with one embodiment.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Methods and systems for enabling the transmission, blending, and overlaying of audio, in particular music, sourced from a player's mobile device and an electronic gaming machine (EGM) during game play are described in the various figures. In one embodiment, music from a player's mobile device is transmitted to the gaming machine and played through the machine's speakers and audio components during game play. In this manner, the player's gaming experience on the EGM is enhanced because the player's preferred music (e.g., a favorite play list) may be played as background music continuously during game play, thereby providing a more personalized and memorable experience for the player.
  • Music from the player's mobile device can be blended or combined with music and other sounds that would normally be outputted by the EGM. For example, a player's favorite song may be heard during game play while in the time between games, conventional audio from the EGM may be played, such as various sound effects, commercials, promotional messages, and the like. That is, audio from both sources can fade in and out depending on EGM and game play status. The player can control playback, skip songs, repeat songs, search, etc, using physical or virtual (touch screen) buttons on the EGM. In another embodiment, the player can listen to audio, both music from his mobile device and audio from the gaming machine, through headphones connected to his mobile device (e.g., via Bluetooth). In this embodiment, all or most of the audio during game play is being outputted through the mobile device. In these and other embodiments, the player's gaming experience is enhanced because of the personalized music. Other variations of these embodiments provide the same advantages and are described below.
  • One of the necessary aspects of the present invention is the coupling or communication between the mobile device and the EGM, which may also be connected to a server in a gaming network. From a broader perspective, the present invention describes a gaming machine or system that is compatible with mobile devices controlled by users who are also players of the EGM. The mobile devices can be configured to transmit and receive information, specifically audio-related data, used on a gaming machine. Audio on the EGM and on the mobile device may be controlled, in certain embodiments, from either the EGMs or the devices. With respect to the following figures, methods and apparatus that allow a mobile device to interact with a EGM, namely playing and sharing audio between them and controlling the playback of the audio are described.
  • The described embodiments may be practiced without some or all of these specific details. In other instances, well known process steps have not been described in detail in order to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the underlying concepts.
  • A gaming system, specifically an EGM, compatible with mobile devices controlled by users of the gaming system is described. In one embodiment, the mobile devices can be configured to transmit and receive audio data used on a wager-based EGM. The various embodiments describe mobile devices that transmit music files to the EGM to be played as background music during game play. The EGM and mobile device can be configured to allow audio controls on the EGM. For instance, via virtual buttons on the EGM, it is possible to control volume and other playback functions.
  • With respect to FIGS. 1, 2A and 2B, methods and apparatus that allow a mobile device to interact with an EGM are described. In particular, with respect to FIG. 1, interactions between a mobile device and an EGM are described. With respect to FIGS. 2A and 2B, different instantiations of communication pathways between a mobile device and an EGM are described.
  • FIG. 3 is a block diagram showing components and modules in a mobile device and an EGM.
  • EGM-Mobile Device Interactions in a Gaming System
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective drawing of a gaming system that allows for interactions between a mobile device 34 and an EGM 2. A gaming system server 10 is shown connected to EGM 2. The connection 12 between server 10 and EGM 2 can be via wireless and/or wired communication links. In a casino environment, EGM 2 can be connected to multiple servers and gaming system server 10 can be connected to multiple EGMs.
  • EGM 2 is configured to communicate with the mobile device 34. In some instances, EGM 2 can communicate directly with the mobile device via a wired or wireless communication interface located on the EGM 2. Also, the EGM 2 can be in communication with mobile device 34 via multiple communication channels simultaneously, such as via two different wireless communication channels (e.g., Wi-Fi or Bluetooth™).
  • In other embodiments, a portion of the communications between the EGM 2 and the mobile device can be through an intermediary device, such as server 10. For instance, a communication channel can be first initiated between server 10 and mobile device 34. Then, in instances where it is determined mobile device 34 is near a particular EGM, server 10 can open up a communication channel between the server and the EGM determined to be near the mobile device. Then, server 10 can act as intermediary device where communications between mobile device 34 and EGM 2 are routed through server 10.
  • The location of mobile device 34 can be determined by server 10, EGM 2 or mobile device 34, alone or in combination with one another. For instance, mobile device 34 can gather information that is transmitted to sever 10 and/or EGM 2 that allows mobile device 34 location to be determined. In another example, EGM 2 can include a detection mechanism, such as a Near-field communication (NFC) interface, that allows the presence of mobile device 34 at the EGM 2 to be detected.
  • Mobile device 34 can be configured to initiate and maintain multiple simultaneous communication channels with different devices in the gaming system. For instance, a first direct communication channel between mobile device 34 and EGM 2 can be established for some types of information that are communicated between the devices. Whereas a second communication channel can be opened between mobile device 34 and EGM 2 for communicating various types of information where the communications are routed through system server 10 including audio files and related playback controls. In general, mobile device 34, EGM 2 and/or server 10 can maintain multiple simultaneous communication channels for communicating different types of information between mobile device 34 and EGM 2 where one or more different communication protocol are used.
  • In one embodiment, server 10 can act as a gateway for communications between mobile device 34 and different EGMs. For instance, the communication session between mobile device 34 and server 10 can be maintained as the mobile device is moved from EGM to EGM in an environment with multiple EGMs, such as a casino. However, server 10 can be configured to terminate a communication session between mobile device 34 and a first EGM when mobile device 34 is moved from the vicinity of the first EGM and instantiate a communication session between the mobile device and a new EGM when the mobile device is moved to the vicinity of the new EGM. Server 10 can repeat this process as mobile device 34 is moved from device to device by the user.
  • Once a communication session is established between mobile device 34 and EGM 2, mobile device 34 and EGM 2 can begin interacting. The interactions can be in the context of a wager-based gaming environment and can depend on the respective capabilities of mobile device 34 and EGM 2. Thus, as follows, EGM 2 and its capabilities are briefly described and then interactions involving mobile device 34, EGM 2 and/or server 10 are discussed. In particular, examples of interactions between EGM 2 and mobile device 34 are described where audio files and playback controls are shared.
  • EGM 2 can include multiple displays, such as displays 14 and 16. The displays can be used to output video images associated with a wager-based game play, such as a presentation associated with a main game or a bonus game. Each of the displays on EGM 2, such as 14 and 16, can be configured to receive content from a game controller within EGM 2, a remote device, such as server 10, mobile device 34 or combinations thereof.
  • Game play decisions can be entered via a player input panel 28. Player input panel 28 can include mechanical buttons. One or more of the mechanical buttons can include a display screen that allows at least some information about a function of a button to be displayed and changed over time. Player input panel 28 can also include a touch screen display that allows a selection of displayed buttons to be selected. These may include audio/music playback controls to allow the player to control game play background music. In addition, displays 14 and/or 16 can be provided with a touch screen interface and an associated touch screen controller. The touch screen interfaces can be used to enter information about decisions associated with game play as well as information associated with audio or music playback.
  • Input panel 28 or another input device on the EGM 2 can also be used to provide an input that affects a state of mobile device 34. For instance, actuation of one of the input buttons can cause a state change on the mobile device or music playback on the device. For instance, actuation of the button can cause the mobile device 34 to play a music track or emit a sound.
  • EGM 2 can include a number of devices used in cash handling transactions. The cash handling devices can include 1) a bill acceptor 22 configured to accept cash and/or ticket vouchers, a printer 38 configured to generate printed ticket vouchers and 3) a card reader 36 which can be configured to read a magnetic striped card or a smart card. The magnetic striped card or the smart card can be used to store account information used to transfer funds, such as funds stored on a debit card. In another example, the magnetic striped card or smart card can store information associated with a loyalty program account and the card reader 36 can be used to read account information associated with a loyalty program account from the card.
  • In a particular embodiment, a wireless interface 18 can be configured to receive information, such as music files from mobile device 34 or music data stream. As an example, wireless interface 18 can be configured to implement a near field communication (NFC) protocol. The NFC protocol is designed with a communication range of 4 cm or less. NFC can involve an initiator and a target. The initiator actively generates an RF field that can power a passive target. This enables NFC targets to take very simple form factors such as tags, stickers, key fobs, or cards that do not require batteries. In other embodiments, the NFC functions can be integrated into a device, such as mobile device 34. NFC peer-to-peer communication is of course possible, where both devices are powered. For instance, device 34 (for example, a smart phone or tablet) and EGM 2 can be configured to implement a peer-to-peer communication.
  • Wireless interface 18 can be used to accept information from a digital wallet application, such an E-wallet application. E-wallets can store passwords, credit card numbers, email contacts and identification data like driver's license or social security numbers. In some instances, an E-wallet can be linked to a bank account. An E-wallet application can be used to transfer “cash” electronically to an EGM that can be used for wagers. When funds are received electronically, such as via an E-wallet transaction, EGM 2 can be configured to store an electronic record of the transaction in a manner similar to cash transactions involving physical currency. The E-wallet like application can also be used to store a loyalty program account information that can be used to initiate a player tracking system on EGM 2.
  • Other wireless interface protocols can also be implemented on EGM 2. For instance, EGM 2 can be configured to provide Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth™ communications. These protocols can be used in lieu of or in combination with NFC. For instance, an NFC communication can be used to instantiate a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth™ communication between EGM 2 and mobile device 34, such as secure pairing using one of these protocols. To initiate a pairing, an NFC and Bluetooth-enabled EGM 2 can be tapped by an NFC and Bluetooth enabled mobile device, such as device 34, to instantiate Bluetooth pairing between the devices. Instantiating pairing between EGM 2 and an NFC enabled device, can save time related to searching, waiting, and entering codes. In another example, a gaming device, such as EGM 2, can be configured as an NFC enabled router, such as a router supporting a Wi-Fi communication standard. Tapping an NFC enabled device to an NFC enabled and Wi-Fi enabled gaming device can be used to establish a Wi-Fi connection between the two devices.
  • An NFC interface on an EGM 2 can be used to receive information that allows a higher speed communication to be set-up between the EGM 2 and another NFC enabled device such as mobile device 34. The higher speed communications can occur via wireless interface 18 or another wireless interface on the EGM 2. The higher speed communication rates can be used for expanded content sharing. For instance, the higher speed communications can be used to transmit a high volume of music files from device 34 to EGM 2.
  • When a device is carried by a player, such as in a pocket, EGM 2 can detect the presence of a wireless device via continual wireless communications with the mobile device or the signal strength detected from the mobile device remains above a certain level. When wireless communications are lost or the signal strength drops below a certain level, EGM 2 can end a session.
  • Communications Between an EGM and a Mobile Device
  • Details regarding how mobile device data files and information can be handled and routed to an EGM and within a gaming system are described with respect to FIGS. 2A and 2B. FIGS. 2A and 2B are block diagrams illustrating communication pathways between server 10, EGM 2 including a game controller 50 and mobile device 34. In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 2A, the communications between mobile device 34 and the EGM 2 can be through an intermediary device, such as server 10. For instance, mobile device 34 can establish communications with server 10 via the wireless interface 18 a. Then, via network interface 56 on EGM 2, server 10 can establish a communication link with EGM 2 that allows communications between mobile device 34 and EGM 2.
  • In another example, wireless interface 18 a can be configured as a wireless access point that provides access to an internal network 55. As an example, each bank of EGMs can be equipped with a wireless access point. A plurality of EGMs can be coupled to internal network 55. Mobile device 34 can access the wireless interface 18 a via a direct connection (e.g., a Wi-Fi connection) and then can access internal network 55 to communicate with one or more of the EGMs or servers. In another example, via cellular data communication on network 45, the mobile device can access wireless interface 18 a and be routed onto internal network 55 to communicate with EGMs or servers. The cellular data communications can be on a network associated with mobile device 34 service provider, such as a 3G or 4G network. Once on the network 55, the mobile device can communicate using one or more protocols instantiated on the network, such as an NTP (network time protocol).
  • In one embodiment, EGM 2 may not include a wired or wireless interface that allows direct communications between EGM 2 and mobile device 34. In other embodiments, EGM 2 can include an interface that allows for direct communications between mobile device 34 and EGM 2 but optionally the communications can also be performed via server 10. In yet other embodiments, as described above, server 10 and EGM 2 can be configured to allow certain information to be transmitted directly to EGM 2 while other types information are communicated only through a server to the EGM, such as via server 10. Thus, in some instances, the gaming system may allow the mobile device to communicate simultaneously with multiple devices. For example, the mobile device can be linked to server 10 and can be simultaneously linked to EGM 2 via a direct connection.
  • Once information, such as audio files and playback controls, arrives at EGM 2 via the network interface it can be routed to different devices via different communications pathways. For instance, in one embodiment, the information can be sent to audio components and related logic which can output to speakers.
  • In one embodiment, game controller 50 may not include features that allow it to communicate with or respond to information received from a mobile device. For instance, game controller 50 can be on an older device that has been deployed without mobile device interaction capabilities. In these embodiments, the audio files and/or audio commands related to mobile device communications can bypass a game controller. For instance, the audio information can go to the speakers.
  • FIG. 2B, communications between a server 10, a mobile device 34 and EGM 2 are described. In this example, the EGM 2 includes a wireless interface 18 b that allows information to be directly received from mobile device 34. A wired interface can also be provided. The information can be, for example, audio files and controls.
  • Once music files or other information has arrived on EGM 2 it can routed to different devices, such as a sound chair or headphones, via different communication pathways. For instance, communications between mobile device 34 and server 10 can be enabled by routing information from wireless interface 18 b directly to network interface 56, to network interface 56 via secondary device 52, to network interface via the game controller 50 or to network interface 56 via first game controller 50 and then secondary device 52. When mobile device 34 provides information that can be output to speakers, such as audio files it can be routed to game controller 50 and then directly out to the one of the speakers or game controller 50 can route the audio information to another device.
  • FIG. 3 is a network diagram of a gaming machine, a mobile device, and related components in accordance with one embodiment. A mobile device 302, such as a smart phone or a tablet, has a wired or wireless connection with an EGM 304. An enterprise (casino) music library 306 on a server may be accessed by EGM 304, typically through a wired connection as part of a gaming network. EGM 304 may also be connected to the Internet 308 through Web servers (not shown) in a gaming network or EGM 304 may be connected directly to Internet 308.
  • Mobile device 302 may have at least two apps that are relevant to the present invention. One app 310 may be referred to as an EGM audio import app. It is responsible for receiving or importing audio files, which may consist of music files, sounds, and other types of audio data, from EGM 304. This audio data may be streamed from EGM 304 and an app for implementing this streaming (not shown) may be utilized. A player may activate app 310 when she wants to play EGM music and sounds on her mobile device 302, for example, to listen using headphone 312.
  • Another app 314 may be referred to as an audio source mixing or blending app. The function of this app may be to mix audio that is sourced from mobile device 302 and EGM 304. For example, it may enable fade in and fade out of music from device 302 (i.e., resident music files) and audio from EGM 304, such as sounds related to promotions or music played when changing games. In other embodiments, these apps may not reside on mobile device 302 or their functionality may be combined in one app. If the player does not want any EGM music files to be imported onto device 302 or if the player is not interested in listening to game-play audio through her device and ear phones 312, then apps 310 and 314 are not needed. As described in FIG. 5, music files may be transmitted or streamed to an EGM to be played during game play.
  • Mobile device 302 also has a library of music files 316. As is known in the art, these files may be organized and categorized in many different ways and may consist of playlists, albums, individual tracks, and so on. For illustrative purposes, library 316 shows two playlists and two tracks. It is expected that these files contain music, whereas the files on EGM 304, described below, have a wider range of audio, which includes not only music, but sounds related to promotions, marketing, game play status, and the like (for this reason those files are referred to as audio files). Device 302 also has playback controls 318, such as volume, skip forward/backward, repeat, search, random, and so on. Of course, this functionality already exists on device 302; it is shown for reference in describing how some or all of this functionality may be controlled from a display area on EGM 304.
  • EGM 304 has numerous components that are relevant to the present invention. In one embodiment, it has an audio/music library 320. This may be comprised of resident audio files 322. Other audio files may be retrieved from enterprise music library 306. The organization and categorization of the content of music libraries 322 and 306 are described in FIG. 4. In the described embodiment, music files 324 from mobile device 302 may be imported onto EGM 304. Applications (not shown) for importing device 302 music files and mixing them with EGM resident audio files may be present on EGM 304.
  • As described above, EGM 304 can play sounds and music that are resident on the gaming machine or received from enterprise/casino music library 306. It can also play music from mobile device 304, which it receives through a previously established connection. In one embodiment, an audio selection/transition logic module 326 has software that determines which music and sounds to play on EGM 304. For example, module 326 determines which music and sounds to play depending on the type of game being played, the specific game being played, player's account data and preferences, game play status (game transition, base game, bonus game, etc.), and other factors. Module 326 determines when a promotion or ad should be played or when music from player's mobile device 302 should be played instead of sounds from EGM's music library 322.
  • Another module is an audio playback control module 328 that implements functionality related to controlling the audio on EGM 304. In one embodiment, it has software for controlling playback on mobile device 302, shown as mobile device playback control proxy 330. This allows a player to control the volume and other playback functions, such as repeat, skip, random, and the like, of the mobile device using controls on EGM 304, such as physical buttons or through virtual touch screen buttons. In one scenario, the player has her mobile device connected to EGM and is listening to the EGM sounds through ear phones connected to mobile device 302. She can control the volume of the sounds or search for a favorite song which she wants to hear while playing a game on the machine using controls on EGM 304. These controls can be touch screen buttons shown, for example, in a service window on the EGM display. These controls can control the volume and other playback functionality on mobile device 302.
  • EGM 304 may also have online apps 332 for playing music from Internet 308. For example, EGM 304 can execute applications such as Pandora, Spotify, and other music playing apps that can be played during game play on the machine. In this embodiment, EGM 304 has a connection to Internet 308 either directly or through Web servers in a gaming network. Audio selection/transition logic module 326 can use online apps 332 as another source of music in its determination of what to play on EGM 304.
  • Audio components 334 are the physical components of EGM 304 that output the audio, such as speakers, amplifiers, ear phone jacks, and other audio hardware and modules. It may also include devices connected to EGM 304, such as a sound chair, which may have its own software and hardware for playing audio that is separate from EGM 304.
  • FIG. 4 is a block diagram of an audio library as it may be stored on a server in a gaming network in a casino. Block 402 contains an audio selection logic module 403 which executes logic for determining which audio files are played on an EGM. For example, the logic may examine a player's account data, the collective music and sound lists available for that EGM, what game is being played, and other factors as noted above with respect to audio selection module 326. A library of audio files 405 is stored on a server. In one embodiment, each audio file may have one or more tags associated with it. The tags are used by a casino to select songs and themes that appeal to a particular player or, more generally, to its player (i.e., customer) base.
  • In the described embodiment, a tag indicates different characteristics of the audio file. For example, a tag may indicate music/sound type or category, such as classical, rock, jazz, pop, electronic, and so on. There may be numerous music/sound categories. This is shown in box 404, which can be stored on a server as a table in a relational database. In this table, each music/sound type is listed and a subset of audio files that have this tag is provided. Thus, if logic module needs an audio file that has rock music, then it may reference table 404, find the rock music category and select one of the audio files from audio file subset B, shown as an example.
  • Another tag may be for a specific game, such as Star Wars, Wheel of Fortune, The Sopranos, and so on. This is shown in box 406. The games may be a listing of all the games the casino offers or may be games from a specific gaming manufacturer, such as IGT of Reno, Nev. An audio file having a “game specific” tag of Sex and the City means that the audio file would be an appropriate selection if that game is being played or if a promotion somehow related to the game or the show is executing on the machine. In box or table 406, a specific game, such as All for One, may have associated with it audio files that are classical or Hollywood theme music and the like. Stars Wars may have a classical audio files associated with it and so on.
  • Another tag may be game type, shown in box 408, such as poker, Black Jack, slot, high roller, bar, and so on. The casino may determine what audio is suitable for each of these types of games. For example, if a game type is known to be played by an older demographic, then audio files that may appeal more to this customer base may be associated with that game type. If a game type is an offshoot of a current, popular online game that is played by a younger customer base, the music files associated with it may be more rock or pop oriented, and so on.
  • Finally, another tag type may be promotion type as shown in box 410. The types of promotions may vary in different casinos. Some examples are buffet, show, holiday, hotel services, and the like. The casino marketing group may be aware of the best type of music or sounds to play for each type of promotion and the audio files for each promotion type can be selected accordingly. Thus, when a promotion for the casino buffet is being run on an EGM, audio selection logic module 403 can select an audio file associated with buffet. In this manner, tags can be used to ensure that appropriate audio is played at each stage of the EGM and that this will result in an enhanced experience for the player. In the described embodiment, there is logic for selecting audio both on the server and on EGM 304. In other embodiments, the logic for selecting and transitioning audio may only reside on EGM 304. The configuration described in FIG. 4 is one of many that can be used to organize and categorize the audio files to facilitate audio selection on EGM 304. A person of ordinary skill in the art would recognize that there are others ways to arrange this data and that other types of modifiers, other than tags, may be used to classify the audio. Classifications other than those shown (music type, game type, promotion type, etc.) may also be used to make audio selection more efficient and targeted.
  • FIG. 5 is a flow diagram of a process of playing music from a player's mobile device on an EGM during game play in accordance with one embodiment. Some of the steps described here are also relevant in the scenario where audio from the EGM is transmitted to the mobile device, mixed or blended with music on the device, and listened to through ear phones connected to the device and not through the EGM. At step 502 a connection is established between the mobile device and the EGM. Processes for establishing this connection are described in detail above with respect to FIGS. 1, 2A, and 2B. The connection may be wired or wireless, which is more likely if the device is a smart phone or tablet.
  • At step 504 the player (device owner) initiates a process for transmitting music files from the device to the EGM. This may be started by pressing virtual (touch screen) buttons in a service window area on the EGM. For example, there may be a button labeled “Customize Game Play Music—Download Favorite Songs from your Mobile Device” or something similar. There may be other virtual buttons for downloading or streaming music from the Internet using apps (e.g., “Stream Music from Pandora!” and the like). In step 504, a process of transmitting music files from the mobile device executes and the files are stored on the EGM. There may be an app on the device that works with the EGM in coordinating the download and providing the user experience for selecting which songs, playlists, artists, etc. to download. There will likely be processes on the EGM to ensure that the files downloaded or that it receives are safe, malware-free and the like. For example, the music files may be stored in a secure or separate memory. At step 506, music and audio from other sources, such as the Internet or from a casino music library may be retrieved. As described above, audio may be retrieved or accessed when needed from different sources. The present embodiment described in FIG. 5 focuses on receiving music from a player's mobile device. The music from the device may be stored as shown in FIG. 3.
  • At step 508 an audio selection logic module on the EGM examines various data to determine which music or sounds to play. This logic may be bypassed if the player manually selects tracks, playlists, albums, artists, etc. to play during game play. Audio selection and transition may be determined based on factors such as game type, specific game, player account information, game play status, EGM data, and other factors. For example, one type of music or sounds may be played during the base game and a different type may be played during a bonus game. One type of music, such as a favorite track downloaded from the player's device, may be played if there is a win over a certain amount. As is evident, there is a wide variety of scenarios that may occur during and between game play that gives rise to opportunities to play many different types of music and sounds. The implementation and embodiments of the present invention enable a more customized and enhanced game play experience for the player by leveraging music sourced from the player's device and from a growing library of music and sounds maintained and operated by the casino.
  • At step 510 music playback controls for controlling music on the EGM are enabled on the EGM. These are controls as described above (volume, search, skip, etc.) that the player would normally use on the player's device. At step 510 these controls are made available either through physical or virtual buttons on the EGM. For example, during game play, the player can use a skip forward button in the service interface window on the EGM display to skip tracks to get to a particular song or search for a playlist, and so on. Some of these controls may not apply in all scenarios, for example, if a promotion is running on the EGM, the player's the ability to skip forward or turn down the volume may be temporarily disabled. At step 512 the music or sounds are outputted from the EGM through audio components, namely the EGM speakers. The player may have the option of plugging ear phones into the EGM.
  • As described above, a player of an EGM has a mobile device which may be a smart phone, tablet or laptop. The player connects the mobile device using a wired or wireless connection, physically or virtually to the EGM. The player is able to use the mobile device to provide music to the EGM game experience. The music can be playing in the background continuously on the EGM.
  • The EGM can provide volume controls to adjust the volume of the music, downloaded or streamed from the mobile device, and other sounds on the EGM. These controls can be physical buttons or controls displayed on the screen to adjust, for example, the volume. The EGM can provide other controls such as play, stop, fast forward, rewind, song change, artist change, etc. For example, the player could listen to his iTunes music instead of the EGM game background music. The EGM will have the ability to not play the game background music and instead play the music from the mobile device.
  • A mobile device application or the EGM may introduce additional sounds, voices or music along with the player's music. For example, the EGM may introduce a commercial for the player to hear or it may announce a promotion for casino services. The EGM may make selections from the mobile device music content to coincide with the game content. For example, the EGM might pick a particular song from the mobile device during the bonus round but another for the base game. For example, the EGM might choose classical music during a Star Wars bonus game since that music theme matches the game better than other music themes. The EGM has logic to transition between its sounds and the player's music from the mobile device. For example, the EGM can wait until the end of one song before switching to another or it may fade out one song to switch to another.
  • The operation might work in an inverse fashion where the EGM provides the connection to the mobile music and that music is sent to the player's mobile device. In this configuration the player hears the music on their mobile device. The player might choose this method so that they can use their headphones or wireless Bluetooth headset. The EGM would provide the connection to the internet or other library for the music. For example the EGM could run an application like Pandora and send the music stream to the mobile device.
  • The casino may have a music library stored on a server in a gaming network. This would allow the casino to choose songs and themes that appeal to its customer base. This would also allow the music to be categorized so that the EGM is better able to select music during game play. For example, the casino might put songs on its server and tag them as “classical” or “Star Wars”. These tags would help the Star Wars game find the correct content to use. Or the casino may tag the sounds with grouping like “poker”, “slot”, “high roller”, or “bar”. Or the casino may tag the sounds with promotional items such as “buffet”, “magic show” or “holiday”. The logic for selecting the music may reside on the server. The server might provide the EGM with a song or list of songs to play based on information from the player account, music list, or EGM information.
  • The mobile device may not link to the EGM itself but to a device on the EGM. For example, the mobile device might connect to an EGM sound chair. The sound chair could then play the music with or without the involvement of EGM software. Or the mobile device may connect with a device on the cabinet which provides the sound controls and displays necessary to control music playback. The music library might be stored in the “cloud” or, essentially on a server on the Internet. For example, the source of the music might be the Pandora music service.
  • The foregoing description, for purposes of explanation, used specific nomenclature to provide a thorough understanding of the invention. However, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that the specific details are not required in order to practice the invention. Thus, the foregoing descriptions of specific embodiments of the present invention are presented for purposes of illustration and description. They are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. It will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art that many modifications and variations are possible in view of the above teachings.
  • The embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical applications, to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention and various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the following claims and their equivalents.
  • While the embodiments have been described in terms of several particular embodiments, there are alterations, permutations, and equivalents, which fall within the scope of these general concepts. It should also be noted that there are many alternative ways of implementing the methods and apparatuses of the present embodiments. It is therefore intended that the following appended claims be interpreted as including all such alterations, permutations, and equivalents as fall within the true spirit and scope of the described embodiments.

Claims (24)

We claim:
1. A method of playing audio on a wager-based electronic gaming machine (EGM) having a processor and a memory, the method comprising:
establishing a connection with a mobile device;
detecting a command to control audio on the EGM;
enabling a player to control audio functions on the EGM;
providing audio to a player by utilizing one of solely the mobile device, solely the EGM, or a combination of the mobile device and the EGM; and
transitioning between outputting audio from the EGM and outputting audio from the mobile device.
2. A method as recited in claim 1 wherein the mobile device has a first app that receives and processes audio from the EGM and a second app that mixes audio on the mobile device and audio on the EGM.
3. A method as recited in claim 1 wherein a combination is one of a gradual blending of audio, a fade-in and fade-out of audio, or a simultaneous overlaying of audio from either the mobile device or the EGM.
4. A method as recited in claim 1 wherein transitioning between outputting audio is based on game play on the EGM or on song status.
5. A method as recited in claim 1 wherein audio is categorized in a casino audio library.
6. A method as recited in claim 5 wherein tags are used to categorize audio in the casino audio library, said tags including game-specific tags, game-type tags, and promotional-type tags.
7. A method as recited in claim 1 further comprising:
selecting audio from the mobile device to coincide with game content on the EGM.
8. A method as recited in claim 1 further comprising:
transmitting audio to the mobile device.
9. A method as recited in claim 1 further comprising:
providing a connection to the Internet or to a music library.
10. A method as recited in claim 1 further comprising:
executing an audio-related app on the EGM; and
streaming audio from the audio-related app to the mobile device.
11. A method as recited in claim 1 further comprising:
selecting music based on player account data, music lists, or game information.
12. A method as recited in claim 1 wherein the EGM initiates connection to the mobile device or the mobile device initiates connection with the EGM.
13. A method as recited in claim 1 wherein establishing a connection further comprises:
connecting to an EGM component that plays audio using software that is separate from the EGM.
14. A method of playing music on an electronic gaming machine (EGM), the music originating from a mobile device, the method comprising:
receiving, at the EGM, a file containing audio data from the mobile device;
receiving input from a player, said input causing the audio file to be played on the gaming machine;
determining when to play the audio file on the gaming machine during game play; and
playing the audio file and gaming machine audio at different times during game play.
15. A method as recited in claim 14 wherein determining when to play the audio file further comprises:
playing the audio file to coincide with game content.
16. A method as recited in claim 14 wherein the mobile device has a first app that receives and processes audio from the EGM and a second app that mixes audio on the mobile device and audio on the EGM.
17. A method as recited in claim 14 further comprising:
establishing a connection with the mobile device.
18. A method as recited in claim 14 further comprising:
detecting a command to control audio on the EGM.
19. A method as recited in claim 14 further comprising:
selecting audio from the mobile device to coincide with game content on the EGM.
20. A method as recited in claim 14 further comprising:
executing an audio-related app on the EGM; and
streaming audio from the audio-related app to the mobile device.
21. An electronic gaming machine (EGM) comprising:
a processor;
a network interface;
a memory storing music files imported from a player mobile device, wherein the imported music files are played on the EGM during wager game play;
an audio source selection and transition module to determine which audio is played during wager game play, said audio originally sourced from the player mobile device or from the EGM;
a mobile device playback proxy module to control playback of music files from the player mobile device; and
a display component displaying a service window containing playback controls for controlling playback functions on the EGM.
22. An EGM as recited in claim 21 wherein audio from the music files imported from the player mobile device is mixed with audio from EGM resident audio files.
23. An EGM as recited in claim 21 wherein the audio source selection and transition module selects audio from the Internet and from a casino music library.
24. An EGM as recited in claim 21 wherein the memory stores EGM audio files that are categorized based on game type, specific game, player account data, player preferences, game play status, promotions, and ads for a casino.
US13/546,841 2012-07-11 2012-07-11 Audio playback and control between an electronic gaming machine and a mobile device Abandoned US20140018153A1 (en)

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