US9270840B2 - Site image capture and marketing system and associated methods - Google Patents

Site image capture and marketing system and associated methods Download PDF

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US9270840B2
US9270840B2 US13594299 US201213594299A US9270840B2 US 9270840 B2 US9270840 B2 US 9270840B2 US 13594299 US13594299 US 13594299 US 201213594299 A US201213594299 A US 201213594299A US 9270840 B2 US9270840 B2 US 9270840B2
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customer
images
album
block
image
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US20130050497A1 (en )
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Clifford R. David
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FREEZE FRAME LLC
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FREEZE FRAME LLC
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N1/00Scanning, transmission or reproduction of documents or the like, e.g. facsimile transmission; Details thereof
    • H04N1/00127Connection or combination of a still picture apparatus with another apparatus, e.g. for storage, processing or transmission of still picture signals or of information associated with a still picture
    • H04N1/00132Connection or combination of a still picture apparatus with another apparatus, e.g. for storage, processing or transmission of still picture signals or of information associated with a still picture in a digital photofinishing system, i.e. a system where digital photographic images undergo typical photofinishing processing, e.g. printing ordering
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06KRECOGNITION OF DATA; PRESENTATION OF DATA; RECORD CARRIERS; HANDLING RECORD CARRIERS
    • G06K9/00Methods or arrangements for reading or recognising printed or written characters or for recognising patterns, e.g. fingerprints
    • G06K9/00221Acquiring or recognising human faces, facial parts, facial sketches, facial expressions
    • G06K9/00288Classification, e.g. identification
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/06Buying, selling or leasing transactions
    • G06Q30/0601Electronic shopping
    • G06Q30/0621Item configuration or customization
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08BSIGNALLING OR CALLING SYSTEMS; ORDER TELEGRAPHS; ALARM SYSTEMS
    • G08B13/00Burglar, theft or intruder alarms
    • G08B13/18Actuation by interference with heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength; Actuation by intruding sources of heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength
    • G08B13/189Actuation by interference with heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength; Actuation by intruding sources of heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength using passive radiation detection systems
    • G08B13/194Actuation by interference with heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength; Actuation by intruding sources of heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength using passive radiation detection systems using image scanning and comparing systems
    • G08B13/196Actuation by interference with heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength; Actuation by intruding sources of heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength using passive radiation detection systems using image scanning and comparing systems using television cameras
    • G08B13/19678User interface
    • G08B13/19684Portable terminal, e.g. mobile phone, used for viewing video remotely
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08BSIGNALLING OR CALLING SYSTEMS; ORDER TELEGRAPHS; ALARM SYSTEMS
    • G08B13/00Burglar, theft or intruder alarms
    • G08B13/18Actuation by interference with heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength; Actuation by intruding sources of heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength
    • G08B13/189Actuation by interference with heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength; Actuation by intruding sources of heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength using passive radiation detection systems
    • G08B13/194Actuation by interference with heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength; Actuation by intruding sources of heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength using passive radiation detection systems using image scanning and comparing systems
    • G08B13/196Actuation by interference with heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength; Actuation by intruding sources of heat, light or radiation of shorter wavelength using passive radiation detection systems using image scanning and comparing systems using television cameras
    • G08B13/19678User interface
    • G08B13/19689Remote control of cameras, e.g. remote orientation or image zooming control for a PTZ camera

Abstract

The present invention in one aspect is directed to systems and methods for capturing a digital image, and preferably a collection of digital images, of a customer in a defined location, such as a museum, a garden, a zoo, a religious institution, a theme park, or any such site known in the art, or in a defined time period, such as a vacation. The systems and methods provide a customer with a customized pictorial souvenir, physical and/or electronic, of a visit or vacation. The souvenir can include other elements, such as “stock” images, alone or having had an image of the customer digitally inserted thereinto, and informational material. Embodiments are also provided that employ devices such as “smart,” interactive devices and read only or read/write devices.

Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/526,823, filed Aug. 24, 2011.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention generally relates to image generation systems and methods, in particular, to photographic systems and methods, and, most particularly, to such systems and methods for capturing and distributing images to a customer visiting a location.

BACKGROUND

The sale of photographs taken by a photographer of a customer of, for example, a theme park, cruise, hotel, resort, or other event where there are large volumes of people present is known in the art. This system has inherent inefficiencies, in that the photographer typically prints many more photographs than are ultimately sold, and the sale is dependent upon the customer's viewing and agreeing to purchase the photograph displayed after the event, thereby losing any momentum caused by the excitement of the moment.

An additional problem with known systems is that images from certain vantage points, and including objects at a site being visited by the customer, which may comprise, for example, still or video images, are typically not possible when taken by a photographer at a defined location within the site. Thus achieving viable perspectives to capture an image at a site from an optimal vantage point may be impossible for the customer.

Another difficulty is that some sites do not permit photography at all, or may not permit flash photography, owing to security and/or photo-damage concerns. Such prohibitions can prevent the customer from capturing desired images that can comprise priceless memories to him/her.

Further, a customer may desire a photograph to be taken at a time when a photographer is not in the vicinity.

Another particular difficulty with photography in general is that there is no really viable system available wherein the photographer him/herself can be in the picture, nor that person with a group. Personal camera equipment is typically not sufficiently sophisticated to produce a good product, and extra equipment, such as tripods, must be hauled along to accomplish self-photos. In the realm of videography, there is no known way to film oneself when the camera is moving. Further, the technical skill of the individual is typically lacking, and good amateur photographs are rare.

Therefore, it would be desirable to provide systems and methods for more efficiently capturing and delivering photographic and/or video images to a customer. It would also be desirable to provide systems and methods wherein the customer him/herself can be a subject of the image. It would be additionally desirable to provide systems and methods for distributing a collection of images captured at a site.

SUMMARY

The present invention in one aspect is directed to a system and method for capturing a digital image, and preferably a collection of digital images, of a customer in a defined location, such as a museum, a garden, a zoo, a religious institution, a theme park, a cruise ship, a resort, a hotel, or any such site known in the art. The system and method provide a customer with a pictorial souvenir of a visit to the site that could not be accomplished by means known in the art. The souvenir can include other elements, such as “stock” images and/or descriptive verbiage or other indicia, alone or having had an image of the customer digitally inserted thereinto.

The features that characterize the invention, both as to organization and method of operation, together with further objects and advantages thereof, will be better understood from the following description used in conjunction with the accompanying drawing. It is to be expressly understood that the drawing is for the purpose of illustration and description and is not intended as a definition of the limits of the invention. These and other objects attained, and advantages offered, by the present invention will become more fully apparent as the description that now follows is read in conjunction with the accompanying drawing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a system schematic of an embodiment of an image capture system for use in a defined location.

FIGS. 2A-2B is a flowchart of exemplary methods of capturing an image in a defined location.

FIG. 3 is a system schematic of another embodiment of an image capture system.

FIGS. 4A-4D is a flowchart of another exemplary method of capturing an image in a defined location.

FIG. 5 is a system schematic of a further embodiment of an image capture system for use in a defined time period.

FIGS. 6A-6B is a flowchart of exemplary methods of capturing an image in a defined time period.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

A description of the preferred embodiments of the present invention will now be presented with reference to FIGS. 1-6B.

The present invention in one aspect is directed to a system 10 (FIG. 1) and method 100 (FIGS. 2A,2B) for capturing a digital image of a customer 11 in a defined location. The system 10 and method 100 are preferably for use in a defined location, or site 12, such as, but not intended to be limited to, a museum, a garden, a zoo, a religious institution, a theme park, a resort, a hotel, or any such site known in the art. The system 10 and method 100 provide a customer with a pictorial souvenir 13 of a visit to the site 12 that could not be accomplished by means known in the art. It will be understood by one of skill in the art that the words picture, image, camera, and photograph are not intended to be limited to a particular construction, and that still and moving images and recording devices can be contemplated thereby, and may include other media such as sound.

In a particular embodiment, a potential customer 11 enters a site 12 that has been outfitted with components for creating a pictorial memento 13 of the visit (block 101). The opportunity to purchase this souvenir 13 can be offered to the customer 11 upon entering the site 12, for example, at a pre-visit purchase and image capture site 14, an offer that can be accepted (block 102) or rejected (block 103) by the customer 11. In either case, the customer 11 can be given an encoded activation device 15 (block 104), which can comprise, for example, a card with a readable magnetic stripe such as known in the art. This device can also comprise the customer's cell phone or a remote control device, or any other such device capable of transmitting a signal such as known in the art.

A protocol is established for communication between the activation device 15 and a processor 16, which has software 17 for creating a folder 18 specific to the customer 11 (block 105). In one embodiment, an initial image of the customer 11 can be captured by an intake camera 19 and stored in the folder (block 106), for example, using “green screen” technology so that the customer's image can be embedded subsequently in other images if desired.

As the customer 11 is touring the site 12, s/he may desire to capture an image of and/or with an object at the site 12 (block 107). There are several ways in which this may be accomplished, although these examples are not intended to be limiting. In one case, the customer 11 may desire to be imaged with a first object 20 at a first image location 21 (block 109). The customer 11 uses the activation device 15 to contact a first receiver 22 (block 108), which is in signal communication with the processor 16. A first customer image spot 23 is indicated near the first object 20, and a first image location camera 24 images the customer 11 (block 110) and transmits the image to the processor 16, which stores the image in the customer's folder 18 (block 111).

Another option includes the customer 11 desiring his/her image to be inserted into a scene with a second object 25, for example, at a second location 26 (block 112). Again, the customer 11 uses the activation device 15 to contact a second receiver 34, which communicates the customer's order to the processor 16, which stores the order in the folder 18 (block 113).

A further option includes the customer 11 desiring a reproduction of an image of a third object 27 at a third image location 28, without the customer image therein (block 114). The customer 11 uses the activation device 15 to contact a third receiver 29, which communicates this order to the processor 16, which in turn stores the order in the folder 18 (block 113).

In some embodiments it may be desirable that the camera 24 be placed so as to capture an object that can move, for example, a ride in an amusement park, a performer, or an animal in a zoo. In this case, the camera 24 may be mounted for movement on a platform 36 that can be placed in signal communication with the activation device 15. This configuration would permit the customer 11 to control camera 24 movement to capture a desired object within range of the camera's panning ability.

It will be understood by one of skill in the art that other methods of communication and customer identification can be used. For example, instead of having an activation device 15, one or more forms of biometric identification could inform the system as to the customer's identity, such as, but not intended to be limited to, fingerprint, iris scan, and facial recognition. As facial recognition technology is not yet exact, additional data can be collected to increase the chance that the system will recognize a particular customer, such as searching for a particular item of clothing or color worn by the customer, imaging more than one customer at a time (for example, a companion), or imaging a numerical identifier worn by the customer.

In addition, the location of the customer can be determined “passively,” by GPS 35 sensing of the customer's activation device 15. This option also permits the system to sense the customer's location and associate the location with data stored in a database 31 in signal communication with the processor 16.

In another embodiment, the image location 21,26,28 could have signage indicating a telephone number for the customer to call. The system could then use the caller 10 from the customer's telephone to associate the customer's folder 18 with the location 21,26,28.

This process can be repeated until the customers visit is complete (block 115), at which time s/he can proceed to the viewing/sales area 30 (block 116) if desired. Using the activation device 15, the customer's folder 18 is accessed (block 117). Each image and order in the folder 18 is processed according to type (block 118). An image containing a customer 11 is retrieved from the folder 18 (block 119), and a “stock” image without the customer 11 is retrieved from the database 31 (block 120). For those images wherein the customer 11 wishes to be inserted (block 121), the associated “stock” image is retrieved from the database 31, and the customer's image, as taken in step 106, is inserted thereinto digitally (block 122).

The customer 11 can also have the option to have the souvenir 13 enhanced with material stored in the database 31, such as informational textual material and/or additional images (block 123). For example, in a museum, didactic material relating to a particular objet d'art could be inserted. A complete “album” can then be digitally created (block 124), and the customer 11 can preview the album on an output device 32 and request revisions as desired (block 125).

If the souvenir 13 had not been purchased at the start of the visit (block 124), and if the customer 11 wishes to purchase the souvenir 13 (block 127), payment is received (block 128).

The final souvenir 13 is then delivered to the customer 11 in one or more forms known in the art (block 129). For example, the souvenir 13 can take the form of a physical, printed album, which could be printed and bound on site. Alternatively, the souvenir 13 can take the form of a digital record, for example, stored on media. Further, the souvenir 13 can take the form of a digital record transmitted to the customer 11 at a desired site 33. The digital media and record can contain both still and moving images as desired.

The final souvenir 13 can comprise multiple forms and components as desired. For example, an album could include material suitable for entertaining children, such as a coloring book, which would serve the purpose of being both amusing and educational.

Further, some of the cost of producing the souvenir 13 can be defrayed by including advertising. The advertising could be “stock,” that is, directly related to the site itself or the surrounding area (local restaurants, shops, etc.). Alternatively, the advertising could be targeted to the customer from data gleaned on customer demographics and customer preferences, as determined by the software 17 from the material selected by the customer. For example, if the customer is in a museum with dissimilar items, but the customer gravitates to a particular type of display (e.g., medieval art, Civil War, etc.), correlations can be made as to vendors and merchandise that might appeal to the customer. Such preferences can then be used, not only to select advertising to appear in the souvenir 13, but also for subsequent marketing opportunities to the customer via, for example, email or direct mail marketing campaigns.

In another embodiment a system 50 (FIG. 3) for use in a defined location and a method 200 (FIGS. 4A-40) are provided that can embrace additional features. FIG. 3 is a system schematic that incorporates similar elements as in FIG. 1 discussed above, with common numerals indicative of common elements.

In the defined-location embodiment 50,200, a potential customer 11 enters the site 12 that has a membership option (block 201). The opportunity to purchase a souvenir 13 can be offered to the customer 11 upon entering the site 12, as above, an offer that can be accepted (block 202) or rejected (block 203) by the customer 11. The customer 11 is queried as to whether s/he is already a member (block 204). If so, the customer's membership card or other device is read, for example, by scanning 15′ (block 205); otherwise, the customer receives a device such as a scannable card, and the customer's pertinent data are captured (block 206), which can include a photograph/image in some embodiments, and also can include data such as age, which will be used as a basis upon which to include such material as informational narrative. The word “card” is being used herein without limitation, and one of skill in the art will appreciate that any device that can communicate in such a way as to identify the user is intended to be subsumed herein. For example, a read-only or a read/write card could be used, with a magnetic strip such as known in the art. Further “smart” devices such as cellular telephones and media playing devices can also be used.

The software 17 creates a folder 18 specific to the customer 11 (block 207). An image of the customer 11, which can comprise an image of the customer with those accompanying him/her, can be captured by the intake camera 19 and stored in the folder (block 208) and also sent to image-processing software (block 209).

As the customer 11 is touring the site 12, s/he may indicate a desire to capture an image of and/or with an object at the site 12 with the device (block 210). The selection and communication procedure can then proceed in at least two ways, which is determined by the type of device being used (block 210 a) and the site configuration (block 211). For example, for a device that does not have “write” capabilities, the following steps are taken.

There are several ways in which the device may be used, although these examples are not intended to be limiting. In one case, the customer 11 may desire to be imaged with a first object 20 at a first image location 21 (block 212). The customer 11 uses his/her device to contact a first receiver 22, which is in signal communication with the processor 16. A first customer image spot 23 is indicated near the first object 20, which can be accomplished with visual means such as known in the art. Visual and/or audio means can also be used to “count down” until the shot is taken. A first image location camera 24 images the customer 11 (block 213) and transmits the image to the processor 16, which stores the image in the customer's folder 18 (block 214).

Another option includes the customer 11 desiring his/her image to be inserted into a scene with a second object 25, for example, at a second location 26 (block 215). Again, the customer 11 uses the device to contact a second receiver 34, which communicates the customer's order to the processor 16, which stores the order in the folder 18 (block 216).

A further option includes the customer 11 desiring a reproduction of an image of a third object 27 at a third image location 28, without the customer image therein (block 217). The customer 11 uses the device to contact a third receiver 29, which communicates this order to the processor 16, which in turn stores the order in the folder 18 (block 216).

In some large installations, particularly those that can become crowded, it may be difficult to approach certain popular objects. In such cases, a multi-purpose kiosk 42 having interactivity, via, for example, a touch screen, could be provided wherein a plurality of images of objects in the installation could be displayed, from which the user could select one or more images for inclusion in his/her folder. Such a kiosk 42 could also be used to view the customer's folder in progress.

Returning to block 210, in some cases a device may be used that is in signal communication with the processor 16. An image is selected as above in blocks 211-217 (block 250). In addition, in such a case the software 17 can be used to transmit images over a network (block 251) so that the customer 11 can visualize the images as they could appear in a finished souvenir product (block 252), and thereby modify selections and captured images in “real time” if desired, which can include re-taking the image (block 253). Also, if desired, such a device can be used to present an audio and/or visual tour (block 254) through the site 12. This device could also be used in other ways known in the art, especially as such devices evolve, such as providing information on using the system 50, instructions on where to stand to have an image taken, how far along the customer is on the tour, etc. These examples are not intended to be limiting, and one of skill in the art will appreciate that such devices can be used in a myriad of ways interactively with the customer and the system.

Again returning to block 210, another process can be used to select images, if the device has read/write capabilities. This device can be used to store data instead of transmitting the data to the processor 16 during the customer's travels through the site 12.

In this embodiment, the customer 11 selects an image type as above in blocks 211-217 (block 260). An image identifier and the selected image type are then stored in a folder on the device (block 261).

The viewing and selection processes can be repeated until the customer's visit is complete (block 218), at which time s/he can proceed to the viewing/sales area 30 (block 219) if desired. Using the device, the customer's folder 18 is accessed, whether from the processor 16 or the device (block 220). Either the stored information or facial recognition software can be used to access all photographs having been taken that include the customer 11 (block 221). A benefit of having used multiple people in the customer image is that additional faces can aid in increasing the probability that the correct customer has been identified by a significant degree. For example, at present facial recognition software is known to be 70-80% accurate, whereas the addition of other data, such as other faces, clothing color, etc., can bring the probability close to 100%.

Each image and order in the folder 18 is processed according to type (block 222). An image containing a customer 11 is retrieved from the folder 18 (block 223), and a “stock” image without the customer 11 is retrieved from the database 31 (block 224). For those images wherein the customer 11 wishes to be inserted (block 225), the associated “stock” image is retrieved from the database 31, and the customer's image, as taken in step 208, is inserted thereinto digitally using techniques known in the art such as background replacement (block 226).

The customer 11 can also have the option to have the souvenir 13 enhanced with material stored in the database 31, such as age-appropriate informational textual material and/or additional images (block 227). For example, in a museum, didactic material relating to a particular objet d′art could be inserted.

Once the image collection is complete, the software 17 can be used to begin to create the customer's “album.” If the album is to be a physical object, there will typically be size limitations. The software 17 has a module for creating album pages automatically (block 228), making determinations as to page layout and relative size of images, for example. The software 17 can also select a layout and graphics based upon the customer's age. A complete “album” can then be digitally created (block 229), and the customer 11 can preview the album on a display 37 and request revisions as desired, which can be entered via an input device 38 (block 230). The “album” can be in any form known in the art. If a DVD-type souvenir is selected, stock video clips could form part of the souvenir 13.

If the souvenir 13 had not been purchased at the start of the visit (block 231), and if the customer 11 wishes to purchase the souvenir 13 (block 232), payment is received (block 233).

The final souvenir 13 can be delivered to the customer 11 in one or more forms known in the art (block 234), as discussed above.

In addition to, or instead of, a physical souvenir 13, an online option can be selected (block 235). If so, the customer data are cataloged (block 236). The images selected are correlated to determine the customers interests (block 237). Then a person website 40 can be created for the customer 11 (block 238), which can be updated periodically with continuing age- and interest-specific educational and informational materials (block 239), and is accessible over the internet 41.

A system 70 (FIG. 5) and method 300 for use in a defined time period operates similarly to the system 10 and method 100 discussed above, with common reference numerals referring to analogous elements.

The system 70 and method 300 are preferably for use in a defined time period within one or more or sites, such as, but not intended to be limited to, a cruise ship 51 or other touring vehicle used as a base of operations and at least one side excursion site, such as a locale 52 visited as a day trip from a cruise ship 51, or any such sites known in the art. Herein the system and method will be discussed in terms of a cruise ship with side excursions, but this is not intended as a limitation, and is only used for ease of discussion.

The system 70 and method 300 provide a customer with a pictorial souvenir 53 of a vacation/tour that could not be accomplished by means currently known in the art. It will be understood by one of skill in the art that the words picture, image, camera, and photograph are not intended to be limited to a particular construction, and that still and moving images and recording devices can be contemplated thereby, and may include other media such as sound.

In a particular embodiment, a potential customer 54 enters a cruise ship 51 that has been outfitted with components for creating a pictorial memento 53 of the vacation (block 301). The opportunity to purchase this souvenir 53 can be offered to the customer 54 upon entering the ship 51, for example, at a pre-visit purchase and image capture site 55, an offer that can be accepted (block 302) or rejected (block 303) by the customer 54. In either case, the customer 54 can be given an encoded activation device 56 (block 304), which can comprise, for example, a key card with a readable magnetic stripe or other storage medium such as known in the art. This device can also comprise the customer's cell phone or a remote control device, or any other such device capable of transmitting a signal such as known in the art.

A protocol is established for communication between the activation device 56 and a processor 57, which has software 58 for creating a folder 59 specific to the customer 54 (block 305), which is storable on a database 60 in signal communication with the processor 57. In one embodiment, an initial image of the customer 54 can be captured by an intake camera 61 and stored in the folder 59 (block 306), for example, using “green screen” technology so that the customer's image can be embedded subsequently in other images if desired.

On the cruise ship, the customer 54 may desire to capture an image of and/or with an object (block 307) or other people, such as a dining group. There are several ways in which this may be accomplished, as discussed above, and these options will not be repeated here. Suffice it to say that images of the types previously described above with reference to blocks 109,112,114 (FIG. 2A) can be collected and stored in the customer's folder 59.

If the customer 54 travels off the cruise ship 51 to a shore excursion locale 52, analogous opportunities exist for images to be collected (block 308), whether via an automated process with an in situ imaging device 62 or a human photographer 63 operating an imaging device 64. Images can also be taken by an imaging device 65, preferably digital, operated and/or owned by the customer 54. The customer's imaging device 65 can comprise any device known in the art, such as, but not intended to be limited to, a still camera, a video camera, and a cellular telephone having a camera associated therewith. If the customer's imaging device 65 has the capability, one or more of these collected images can be transmitted to the processor 57 for incorporation into his/her folder 59.

When the customer desires to complete a trip souvenir 53, which typically occurs at or near the end of the trip (block 309), s/he can proceed to a viewing/sales area 66 (block 310) if desired. Using the activation device 56, the customer's folder 59 is accessed (block 311). If the customer 54 wishes to augment the folder 59 with images from his/her own imaging device 65 (block 312), a transfer of such images can be made (block 313). The images are then processed as outlined above (block 314). One of skill in the art will appreciate that the customer 54 does not necessarily need to go to a physical location, and that these steps can be completed via computer from any location on the ship, or even elsewhere, on long as connectivity is achieved.

Also as above, the customer 54 can have the option to have the souvenir 53 enhanced with material stored in the database 60, such as informational textual material and/or additional images (block 315). For example didactic material relating to a particular locale 52 that was visited could be inserted, or historical information on the ship 51. A complete “album” can then be digitally created (block 316), and the customer 54 can preview the album on an output device 67 and request revisions as desired (block 317).

If the souvenir 53 had not been purchased at the start of the visit (block 318), and if the customer 54 wishes to purchase the souvenir 53 (block 319), payment is received (block 320).

The final souvenir 53 is then delivered to the customer 54 in one or more forms known in the art (block 321). For example, the souvenir 53 can take the form of a physical, printed album, which could be printed and bound on site. Alternatively, the souvenir 53 can take the form of a digital record, for example, stored on media. Further, the souvenir 53 can take the form of a digital record transmitted to the customer 54 at a desired site 68. Additionally, the souvenir 53 can be presented on a website 69 created for the customer 54 in connection with the trip. The digital media and record can contain both still and moving images as desired.

The final souvenir 53 can comprise multiple forms and components as desired. Further, as above, some of the cost of producing the souvenir 53 can be defrayed by including advertising.

The many advantages offered by the systems 10,50,70 and methods 100,200,300 of the present invention will be understood by one of skill in the art. The customer 11,54 receives a professionally imaged and assembled souvenir 13,53 containing images typically not possible to be achieved by the customer 11,54 him/herself, whether owing to perspective, vantage point, or quality, and retain all the pleasures of the visit without having to take photographs him/herself. Professional photographers are not required, since the cameras will have been set to take an optimal image, and all else is automated. “Stock” images will have been taken and stored under ideal conditions of lighting and vantage point, thereby minimizing the chance of causing damage to the objects by excess light.

Additionally, the interactivity of the systems 10,50,70 and methods 100,200,300 enable data to be collected on customers 11,54 as to their preferences individually and collectively, which can be used to inform subsequent marketing and display strategies (block 240), including providing suggestions to the customer 11,54 as to other attractions that might be of interest, based upon the customer's stored preferences.

In the case of some venues such as, without limitation, sports arenas, theme parks and museums, a customer's smart phone or tablet can serve as the activation device. For example, the phone can be provided with an application that establishes a communication link with a central computer that also communicates with automated cameras that are at selected locations in the venue and is configured through appropriate programming to operate the entire system. The customer can be offered such an application for downloading into the customer's phone or tablet, of an already configured phone or tablet can be loaned to the customer. The customer's phone or tablet can be provided with an icon that, when clicked or tapped, serves to indicate to the central computer to instruct an automated camera pointed to the current location of the customer, or to a location that the customer would like to have imaged for potential inclusion in the customer album, to take one or more images. The central computer can transmit the customer's album to the customer's phone or tablet at times selected by the customer or the system, so that the customer can view the album as it is being built and can edit the album by deleting images or other material or re-arranging images and other material, thus providing immediacy that is believed to encourage customers to have more images taken and to purchase an album. The customer's locations can be tracked automatically, for example through the use of the GPS capability embedded in the phone or tablet. The album may be delivered to the customer's phone or table via WiFi or some other electronic link, so that the customer need not take time to stop and pick up a hard copy of the album. In addition, after any editing the customer's album can become a book-like product that is printed at the venue or at another location. The customer's phone or table can further provide an audio input that is transmitted to the central computer to be merged with images in the customer's folder, for example to provide audio captions to the images.

As another example, the activation device can trigger the automated image taking by being present at a specified location. For example, ski resorts, marathon or parade routes, or other venues can be provided with sensors to detect the proximity of a device carried by the customer, such as an RF tag. The tags are associated with respective customers, so that an image of the customer is automatically taken when the customer is at the sensed locations and is added to the customer's album.

In the foregoing description, certain terms have been used for brevity, clarity, and understanding, but no unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom beyond the requirements of the prior art, because such words are used for description purposes herein and are intended to be broadly construed.

Moreover, the embodiments of the systems illustrated and described herein are by way of example, and the scope of the invention is not limited to the exact details of construction and use.

Claims (6)

The invention claimed is:
1. An automated method of producing an album comprising images of and/or for a customer, comprising:
(a) providing a customer with an activation device and creating an electronic customer's folder;
(b) upon receipt of a signal from the customer activation device indicating that the customer desires an image to he taken of a specified location that includes the customer's location, activating an automated camera system to image the specified location;
(c) electronically storing the image in the customer's folder;
(d) repeating steps (b) and (c) in response to signals from the customer pertaining to other specified locations;
(e) selectively adding, to the customer's folder, stock images that do not include the customer and composited images that include the customer;
(f) displaying to the customer at least some of the images that have been stored in the customer folder;
(g) electronically creating a customer album containing at least some of the images that were displayed to the customer;
(h) transmitting at least a portion of the album over a network to a cellular telephone carried by or for the customer so that the customer can visualize the images and thereby modify selections and images in real time;
(i) providing an editing facility configured to edit the customer album to thereby create an edited album; and
(j) finalizing the album, delivering the finalized album to the customer, and receiving payment for the finalized album.
2. The method of claim 1 in which the activation device comprises an electronic device that identifies positions of the customer.
3. The method of claim 1 in which the automated camera is at a fixed location and is in communication with the activation device through the medium of a computer system.
4. The method of claim 1 including using a computer system to track customer movement and to include in said album additional material selected based on the tracked movement.
5. The method of claim 4 in which said additional material comprises advertising or promotional material related to the tracked movement.
6. The method of claim 1, including augmenting the customer album with images taken with a customer's imaging device.
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US13594299 US9270840B2 (en) 2011-08-24 2012-08-24 Site image capture and marketing system and associated methods
US13914533 US20130275257A1 (en) 2005-04-15 2013-06-10 Interactive image capture, marketing and distribution
US14135858 US9270841B2 (en) 2005-04-15 2013-12-20 Interactive image capture, marketing and distribution
US14136044 US9214032B2 (en) 2005-04-15 2013-12-20 Interactive guest image capture using video wall/floor/ceiling displays for selections of background scenes, and selection/distribution of customized
US14952061 US9948870B2 (en) 2005-04-15 2015-11-25 Interactive guest image capture using video wall/floor/ceiling displays for selections of background scenes, and selection/distribution of customized souvenir portfolios including merged images/sound
US15000555 US20160253743A1 (en) 2005-04-15 2016-01-19 Interactive image capture, marketing and distribution
US15948301 US20180234641A1 (en) 2005-04-15 2018-04-09 Interactive guest image capture using video wall/floor/ceiling displays for selections of background scenes, and selection/distribution of customized souvenir portfolios including merged images/sound

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