WO1995031264A1 - Speech enhanced game apparatus and method therefor - Google Patents

Speech enhanced game apparatus and method therefor Download PDF

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Publication number
WO1995031264A1
WO1995031264A1 PCT/US1995/006311 US9506311W WO9531264A1 WO 1995031264 A1 WO1995031264 A1 WO 1995031264A1 US 9506311 W US9506311 W US 9506311W WO 9531264 A1 WO9531264 A1 WO 9531264A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
game
speech
recited
processor
game apparatus
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US1995/006311
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Bryan M. Kelly
Matthew F. Kelly
Norman B. Petermeier
Original Assignee
Lazer-Tron Corporation
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US24346594A priority Critical
Priority to US08/243,465 priority
Application filed by Lazer-Tron Corporation filed Critical Lazer-Tron Corporation
Publication of WO1995031264A1 publication Critical patent/WO1995031264A1/en

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F9/00Games not otherwise provided for
    • A63F9/24Electric games; Games using electronic circuits not otherwise provided for
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F7/00Indoor games using small moving playing bodies, e.g. balls, discs or blocks
    • A63F7/0058Indoor games using small moving playing bodies, e.g. balls, discs or blocks electric
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F9/00Games not otherwise provided for
    • A63F9/18Question-and-answer games
    • A63F9/183Question-and-answer games electric
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F9/00Games not otherwise provided for
    • A63F9/24Electric games; Games using electronic circuits not otherwise provided for
    • A63F2009/2401Detail of input, input devices
    • A63F2009/243Detail of input, input devices with other kinds of input
    • A63F2009/2432Detail of input, input devices with other kinds of input actuated by a sound, e.g. using a microphone
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F2300/00Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game
    • A63F2300/10Features of games using an electronically generated display having two or more dimensions, e.g. on a television screen, showing representations related to the game characterized by input arrangements for converting player-generated signals into game device control signals
    • A63F2300/1081Input via voice recognition
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F9/00Games not otherwise provided for
    • A63F9/02Shooting or hurling games
    • A63F9/0204Targets therefor

Abstract

A speech enhanced game apparatus (10) includes a microphone (18) for developing a microphone output signal from a player's vocal inputs and a speech recognizer (30) operative to develop recognized utterance data from the microphone output signal. The game processor (12) controls a game in progress, wherein a game state of the game in progress can be influenced by the recognized utterance data when the recognized utterance data corresponds to a game command. The game apparatus (10) also includes feedback (24, 26) for conveying the game states, a player's performance in the game, and a game conclusion.

Description

SPEECH ENHANCED GAME APPARATUS AND METHOD THEREFOR

Description

Technical Field

This invention relates to games played in an arcade environment, and more particularly to arcade games having a mechanical or video feedback component.

Background of Art

Computerized speech recognition and applications therefor have become more prevalent in recent years. Devices for recognizing speech are used, for example, in some consumer electronic devices, such as video cassette recorders, and also in personal computer systems, toys, household appliances, etc.

In U.S. Patent 4,690,242, D. S. Mark describes a sound actuated controller for switching circuitry within a particular area. A microphone is positioned in an elastic cylinder which is affixed to a device to be monitored for acoustic frequencies. However, the controller does not use true speech recognition, as the content of an utterance is not determined or detected, only its frequency.

In U.S. Patent 4,717,364, M. Furukawa describes a voice actuated toy robot which receives commands via a radio transmitter and receiver. A user programs commands into the memory of the robot and associates each command with movement of the robot in a particular direction. When the user speaks a command to the robot, the corresponding movement command is implemented and the robot moves in the specified direction.

The voice-controlled devices of the prior art, however, are directed to practical tasks such as moving an object, controlling convenient functions of an appliance, and the like. Speech recognition devices of the prior art have not been incorporated in environments in which a user employs speech commands to influence a sequence of game states to achieve a desired, but not entirely predictable, result. Therefore, in the prior art, speech recognition is primarily used as a command or data input method, and not pan of a game-in-progress, where game states will continue to a conclusion with or without speech input.

It is contemplated that an arcade game which makes sophisticated use of speech recognition to control and/or enhance the game experience, i.e. which becomes a part of an ongoing game process, would remain more interesting to players and generate greater revenues for an arcade owner.

Disclosure of the Invention

The present invention provides an apparatus and method for a speech enhanced game. A player of the game apparatus can input voice commands to influence game states and control aspects of the game. These improvements add excitement and complexity to the game, which tends to prolong player involvement.

A game apparatus of the present invention includes a microphone for developing a microphone output signal from an acoustic input signal, such as the voice of a game player. A speech recognizer develops a recognized utterance, which is a word, phrase, or other construct having meaning, from the microphone output signal. The game apparatus further includes a game processor which is responsive to the recognized utterance. The game processor implements a game in progress which undergoes a series of game states before coming to a game conclusion. The game player can influence a game state with the recognized utterance developed from a voice input. The player's skilled performance in the game is ascertained by the game processor and communicated to the player at the game conclusion. The game apparatus also includes player feedback for conveying the influence of the recognized utterance over a game state.

The speech recognizer preferably includes an analog-to-digital (A D) converter and a digital speech processor for processing and converting the microphone analog signal into the recognized utterance. The player feedback can include a visual, auditory, or tactile feedback mechanism, such as a visual game score display. A game activation unit is preferably operative to develop a game activation signal which causes the game processor to begin the game in progress.

The game apparatus of the present invention is illustrated by several embodiments. In one embodiment, a playing surface is provided wherein a player vocally directs a playing piece across a playing surface to one of several provided targets at the other end of the playing surface. A rotatable wheel mechanism rotates in accordance with the target which received the playing piece and a point total indicated by the stopped position of the wheel is added to a game score. In another embodiment, a playing piece that is adapted to frictionally engage a playing surface, such as a coin, is directed down the playing surface. A mechanism is used for imparting an automatic displacement force on the playing piece, and a voice-controlled mechanism is used for varying an angle of the playing surface to direct the playing piece in a desired direction. The playing piece can preferably be directed into one of a plurality of apertures to add a specific amount of points to a game score. Another embodiment includes a playing surface having a plurality of apertures, wherein each aperture is receptive to a playing piece. Playing pieces may fall into the apertures, and an ejection mechanism, controlled by voice commands, ejects a playing piece from a player-designated aperture such that the playing piece may be received by a different aperture. If the playing pieces form a predetermined pattern in the apertures, a game score is increased. In another embodiment, a video screen is coupled to the game processor to display states (images) of a game in progress. Yet another embodiment includes a rotating drum or dial which a player can start and stop with voice commands to select a desired symbol or image. A speech synthesizer is preferably used for voice output from the game processor.

A method of the present invention for playing a game utilizing speech input includes the steps of initiating a game, recognizing a speech input and producing a recognized utterance therefrom, determining whether the recognized utterance is a game command, and influencing a game state in the game in progress based upon the game command. The step of initiating the game in progress is preferably accomplished when a game activation signal is received by the game processor, such as from a coin box. The step of determining whether the recognized utterance is a game command includes comparing the recognized utterance to a predetermined list of game commands and selecting a game command that matches the recognized utterance. Influencing the game states can include causing a playing piece to move along a playing surface, rotating a playing surface along an axis of rotation to guide a playing piece in a desired direction on said playing surface, ejecting a playing piece from a designated aperture in a playing surface, displaying game images on a video screen, etc.

The speech enhanced game apparatus of the present invention adds complexity and interest to games. This increases player involvement with the game and can lead to increased revenues produced by the game.

These and other advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art after reading the following descriptions and studying the various figures of the drawings. Brief Description of the Drawings

FIGURE 1 is a block diagram of a game apparatus of the present invention;

FIGURE la is a block diagram of the game processor shown in Figure 1;

FIGURE 2 is a pictorial representation of a first embodiment of the game apparatus of Figure 1;

FIGURE 3 is a pictorial representation of a second embodiment of the game apparatus of Figure 1 ;

FIGURE 4 is a pictorial representation of a third embodiment of the game apparatus of Figure 1 ;

FIGURE 5 is a pictorial representation of a fourth embodiment of the game apparatus of Figure 1;

FIGURE 6a is a pictorial representation of a fifth embodiment of the game apparatus of Figure 1;

FIGURE 6b is a pictorial representation of an alternate embodiment of the game apparatus shown in Figure 6a; and

FIGURE 7 is a flow diagram of a method for implementing a speech enhanced game of the present invention.

Best Modes for Carrying out the Invention

In Fig. 1, a speech enhanced game apparatus 10 in accordance with the present invention includes a game processor 12, a coin box 14, a start button 16, a microphone 18, a speech recognizer 20, miscellaneous user input 22, game output 24, and game result output 26.

Game processor 12 implements (i.e. controls, influences, monitors, etc.) the functions of the game apparatus and includes several input and output functions. Game processor 12 receives a recognized utterance from speech recognizer 20 and uses the recognized utterance to influence game states if the recognized utterance corresponds to a game command. As is well known by those skilled in the art, the recognized utterance can be represented by symbols, words, or other digital information or data. Game processor 12 preferably includes a digital microprocessor or similar controller device, which is described in further detail with respect to Figure la. The operation of game processor 12 is described in greater detail below.

Coin box 14 is used to receive and store coins that are inserted by a player into the game apparatus in, for example, an arcade environment, where money is collected in return for the player's use of the game apparatus. A coin deposit slot can accept standard currency coins or game tokens that are normally available in an arcade environment, and also typically includes a coin return button and coin return slot. Once a coin is accepted, a signal is sent to game processor 12 to indicate that one or more game plays have been paid for. Coin boxes suitable for use in game apparatus 10 are readily available on the commercial market. In alternate embodiments located in non-arcade environments (e.g. at home), no coin box, of course, is necessary.

Start button 16 is pressed by a player when he or she is ready to start playing game apparatus 10. Once start button 16 is pushed, a signal is sent to game processor 12 to begin the game process. In embodiments where coins are deposited into game apparatus 10 by a player, the start button will preferably initiate the game process only after a coin or coins have been inserted in the game. The start "button" can also be implemented using speech input (detailed below). Other game activation devices and mechanisms can also be used, such as levers, switches, dials, etc.

Microphone 18 is transducer which receives an acoustic input signal, such as a player's voice, and converts the acoustic signals to analog electrical signals using any one or more of a variety of well-known techniques. Microphone 18 is preferably aimed at the position where a game player stands in order to receive voice input from that area and reduce the amount of ambient noise received from the surrounding environment. Alternatively, mltiple microphones can be used to more accurately receive a player's speech inputs and/or to actively cancel background noise; these techniques are also well- known to those skilled in the art.

Microphone 18 produces a microphone output signal on a line 17 connected to an input of a speech recognizer 20. The speech recognizer 20 produces an output on a data bus 19, which is coupled to a data input of game processor 12. Speech recognizer 20 preferably includes an analog-to-digital (A/D) converter 28 and a speech processor 30. A/D converter 28 receives the analog microphone output signal and converts the signal to digitized microphone data. The digital microphone data is output from A/D converter 28 and is received by digital speech processor 30, which interprets the data and outputs recognized utterance data on bus 19. The term "recognized utterance data", as used herein, describes output of the speech processor which either has a recognized meaning or is a "null" indicating that there is no recognized meaning. The utterance can be sent as data representing a recognized word, a multiplicity of words (a phrase), a list of possible words and their rankings, or other variations on this theme. For example, if a player spoke the word "spin" into microphone 18, game processor 12 receives data representing the word "spin" from speech recognizer 20. Other typical game commands include "start," "shoot," "left," "spin left," "move right," or other words or phrases which are pertinent to influencing game states and causing game actions and results.

Game processor 12 receives the recognized utterance and can attempt to perform game output functions in response to the utterance. The game processor compares the recognized utterance to a list of predetermined game commands used to influence game states (described below). In the described embodiment, if a speech command is not received by speech recognizer 20, or if a microphone signal received by speech recognizer cannot be recognized, then a "null" recognized utterance is sent to game processor 12. Speech processor 30 can be implemented using digital microprocessors and other electronic components available on the commercial market which are well- known to those skilled in the art, including digital signal processor chips (DSP's).

In an alternate embodiment, speech recognizer 20 and game processor 12 can implemented as a single microprocessor 31, as suggested in Figure 1 by the dashed line. In such an embodiment, microprocessor 31 is powerful enough to provide enough real- time speech recognition and game process functions. Speech recognition is well-known to those skilled in the art. For example, the IBM Speech Server Series and Continuous Speech Series software automates the production of text from speech. The software has a 20,000 word vocabulary and can interpret several different languages. Speech recognition software for the present invention does not require such a large vocabulary, since the functions of games typical in an arcade or similar gaming environment require a relatively small number of commands in comparison to a general-purpose vocabulary or language. Any speech recognition device that is able to distinguish different spoken words and output particular signals corresponding to each recognized word is suitable for use in the present invention. For example, the speech recognition software of the preferred embodiment is speaker independent, i.e. the speech recognizer recognizes words spoken from any user. However, speaker dependent recognition software can also be used in some applications of the present invention, in which a specific user "trains" the speech recognizer to recognize his particular voice.

Miscellaneous user input block 22 includes other forms of input besides speech input from the player to the game apparatus. Such input includes buttons, dials, joystick controls, a touchscreen, a gun device, foot pedals, a track ball, or any other input used in playing a game. These inputs can be used in conjunction with the speech input using microphone 18; for example, buttons can be used to start a game and dispense a playing piece, and speech can be used to control or guide the playing piece on a playing surface. Miscellaneous user input 22 provides signals to game processor 12 which are readily recognized as specific game commands by the game processor. Alternatively, a game apparatus 10 can be played exclusively using speech commands, or exclusively with miscellaneous user inputs.

Game output 24 influences a state of a game in progress. For example, if a playing surface is tilted left in response to a player saying, "left", the game state is altered. Similarly, a solenoid that is activated to eject influences a game state.

Game output 24 is perceived by the player in the form of visual, audible, or tactile feedback. For example, game output 24 such as the tilting of a playing surface is visually perceived by the player. The player can further visually perceive the change in state of a playing piece in response to the tilting of the playing surface. Game output such as speech-synthesized or playback responses can be used as audible player feedback. Game output such as vibrating the game apparatus can be implemented as tactile player feedback. Game result output device 26 includes one or more devices used for displaying or implementing a partial or complete game result. For example, a score display showing the final game score or a ticket dispenser which dispenses tickets at the end of a game can be considered game result output devices. Of course, the score display can also display partial game scores during the game in progress.

A game result can occur during game play or at the end of a game, and typically occurs after a change in state of the game. For example, game score can be updated when a playing piece falls into an aperture. Undesirable game outcomes and a game conclusion can also provide game result output 26. For example, a playing piece falling off the playing surface can be considered a losing game result and can be accompanied by a score display update, sound effects, flashing lights, or other game result output from device 26.

Game result output 26 is another implementation of player feedback as described above with reference to game progress output 24. Like feedback from the game output

24, game result output can be implemented as visual, audible, or tactile feedback indicating a game result. In addition, the game result output can be an electronic apparatus, such as a display screen or 7-segment digit display, or a mechanical apparatus, such as a rotating wheel having a multiplicity of score segments and a pointer to indicate a resulting score.

Herein, a game in progress is described as undergoing a series of different "game states." A game state is defined as the state of a game at a particular point in time. The state of a game is usually changing during the game in progress. The player can influence game states with game commands, but game states will often also change without any user input. For example, a ball will continue to roll down a ramp under the influence of gravity even without any input from a user.

As another example, a game is in a particular state when a playing piece is absent from a playing surface. When a playing piece moves along the playing surface, the game undergoes a series of different game states depending upon the position of the piece. If the player causes the playing field to tilt or otherwise causes the moving playing piece to change direction, he has influenced subsequent game states. If the playing piece falls into an aperture, from a player's influence or not, the game state has changed again.

Game states and the player's influence on the change in game states are preferably perceived by the player, either as a tilt of a playing surface, a change in game score, an ejection of a playing piece from an aperture, a change of a display on a display screen, etc. The player's game commands can directly influence subsequent states of the game by changing a playing piece's direction of movement, position on a playing field, or scoring potential. Game commands can further influence images displayed on a video screen, the movement of mechanical displays and indicators, tactile and audio feedback to the player, etc.

A game implemented by game apparatus 10 undergoes a series of game states until a game conclusion is reached. The game conclusion can be triggered by a particular game state, such as a playing piece falling off a playing surface and being removed from play. Or the game can come to a conclusion after a specified period of time elapses, after which player game commands no longer have influence on game states. At the game conclusion, the player's performance and skill in the game is preferably related back to the player. This can be accomplished, for example, using game result output 26, such as a visual game score display. The player's skilled performance in the game is determined by checking if the player achieved a specific goal during the game. For example, if a player met the goals of guiding a playing piece into specific apertures on a playing surface, points can be accumulated for the accomplishment of such goals and those earned points are communicated to the player.

Figure la is a block diagram of a preferred game processor 12 of Figure 1.

Game processor 12 preferably includes a microprocessor 32, random access memory (RAM), read-only memory (ROM), and input/output (I/O) 38. Microprocessor 32 can be any processor or controller with features sufficient to control the game apparatus. For example, a suitable microprocessor for many game applications is the Intel 8031 8-bit microprocessor, which includes eight data lines and sixteen address lines. Alternatively, more powerful microprocessors, such as 80486-class or Pentium-class microprocessors, can be used, particularly if the functions of speech processor 30 and game processor 12 are to be combined in a single microprocessor. Microprocessor 32 executes a process, described by software instructions, which recognizes a game command from the recognized utterance output of speech recognizer 20. This can be accomplished using a look-up table, which is described below.

Microprocessor 32 is coupled to RAM 34 by a data (D)/address (A)/control (C) bus 40 to permit the use of RAM for scratch-pad memory. ROM 36 is preferably an erasable, programmable read-only memory (EPROM) that contains the start-up instructions and operating system for the microprocessor 32. Much of the process, illustrated in Figure 7, can be stored in ROM 36. Methods for coupling RAM 34 and ROM 36 to the microprocessor 32 by bus 40 including data, address, and control lines are well-known to those skilled in the art.

I/O 38 includes buffers, ports, registers, and other digital circuitry to interface inputs and outputs with the bus 40. For example, bus 19 is coupled to I/O block 38. Game output 24 and game result output device 26 are outputs from I/O 38.

Game processor 12 receives a recognized utterance, i.e. digital information concerning the meaning of a voice input, from speech recognizer 20. To convert the recognized utterance into a game command, the game processor can employ several methods. One method is to use a look-up table. For example, microprocessor 32 receives a recognized signal from speech recognizer 20 that represents a player's vocal command, "left". The recognized utterance can have a particular value, which the microprocessor can index in a look-up table stored in ROM 34. Or, the ASCII characters spelling "left" can be compared to a list of ASCII commands to determine if it is in the command set. The look-up table entry that is indexed or addressed by the recognized utterance can then provide a command code which causes one or more operations to be performed in response to the command. Thus, a common speech recognizer apparatus can be used for many different types of games and the look-up table can be customized to each particular game's operation.

Figure 2 is an illustration of a first embodiment 10a of game apparatus 10 of the present invention. In this embodiment, game apparatus 10a preferably includes a playing surface 51 and a rotatable wheel 44. A playing piece 47 is rolled down the playing surface and into one of several provided apertures, and the wheel rotates a certain amount depending on the specific aperture which the playing piece entered. The wheel displays a score which is added to overall game score. Such a gaming apparatus is described in greater detail in copending patent application 08/089,045 by Kelly et al., entitled, "Arcade Game", filed 7/9/93, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein.

Game apparatus 10a further includes a game processor 12, a coin box 14, a microphone 18, a speech recognizer 20, and miscellaneous user input 22, which have the functions as described with reference to Figure 1. Game processor 12 outputs control signals to a motor 42 which rotates a wheel 44. Game processor 12 also outputs control signals to a motor 46, which is operative to move a guiding mechanism 48 across one end of playing surface 51. Guiding mechanism 48 holds the playing piece 47, such as a ball. Game processor 12 outputs a signal on bus 49 to guiding mechanism 48 to release the ball, which then rolls down the playing surface and into an aperture 50. Each aperture preferably includes a sensor which detects the passage of a playing piece and sends signals to game processor 12 on bus 52.

The preferred operation of gaming apparatus 10a using the speech recognition of the present invention is described as follows. A player inserts a coin and pushes a start button; these inputs are considered to be inputs 14 and 22. Playing piece 47 is dispensed into guiding mechanism 48 from a ball return mechanism (not shown). A player then speaks into microphone 18 positioned in a convenient area of the game apparatus, such as at the front end of the apparatus. Such commands can include directional commands such as "left" or "right". These commands are interpreted by speech recognizer 20 and an appropriate recognized utterance is then sent to game processor 12. The game processor interprets the recognized utterance and outputs a control signal to motor 46 in accordance with the recognized utterance as game output 24. For example, if a recognized utterance indicating the command "left" were sent by speech recognizer 20 to game processor 12, the game processor would send a control signal to motor 46 to move guiding mechanism 48 to the left until the guiding mechanism reached the left edge of the playing surface or another command was received from the player. A player can also preferably input a voice command of "go", "down" or a similar command to release playing piece 47 from guiding mechanism 48. A player waits until the guiding mechanism is positioned in line with a specific aperture 50 and then commands the playing piece to be released. The release voice command is processed similarly to the direction voice commands described above.

Once the playing piece has been released from guiding mechanism 48, one of the apertures 50 usually receives the playing piece. The playing piece activates a switch, which sends a signal on line or bus 52 to game processor 12 indicating which aperture received the playing piece. Each aperture is associated with a different spin of wheel 44: random, clockwise a predetermined number of wheel segments, counterclockwise, etc. The game processor controls the rotation of wheel 44 by sending control signals to motor

42 on bus 53. Once the wheel stops rotating, a specific score is indicated by the position of the wheel in relation to a pointer 54. The wheel's position is sent to game processor 12 on bus 45, and the score is computed therefrom by the game processor. This score is added to the overall game score, which is displayed as game result output 26. Game result output 26 also includes the dispensing of tickets or other awards from a dispenser based upon the game score when the game is over. Figure 3 is an illustration of a second embodiment 10b of the game apparatus 10 of the present invention. Game apparatus 10b preferably includes a player-controlled tilting playing surface and a vibration mechanism for vibrating the playing surface. A playing piece moves down the playing surface due to the vibration and gravity and is guided by the player into one of several apertures. A score is computed and added to an overall game score. Such a game apparatus is described in greater detail in copending patent application 08/080,143 by Kelly et al., entitled, "Arcade Game", filed 6/18/93, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

As shown in Figure 3, game apparatus 10b includes a game processor 12, a coin box/input 14, a microphone 18, a speech recognizer 20, and miscellaneous user input 22, which have the functions as described with reference to Figure 1. Game processor 12 also outputs control signals to a motor 55 which is coupled to a playing surface 56 and operative to vibrate the playing surface. Game processor 12 also outputs game control signals to a motor 58, which is operative to rotate playing surface 56 clockwise or counterclockwise about an axis A. A playing piece 59 is guided by a player across playing surface 56 into one of several provided apertures 60. Each aperture preferably includes a sensor which detects the passage of a playing piece and sends a signal to game processor 12 on bus 57.

The preferred operation of gaming apparatus 10b using the speech recognition of the present invention is described as follows. A player inserts a coin and pushes a start button; these inputs are considered coin box input 14 and user input 22. The function of the start button can also be replaced by a speech initiated game command. The game processor sends a control signal on bus 61 to start the vibration of playing surface 56. Playing piece 59 is dispensed onto playing surface 56. Playing piece 59 can be the coin that was inserted by the player, or it can be a playing piece dispensed from a dispenser (not shown). A player then speaks towards microphone 18 (which is positioned in a convenient area of the game apparatus). Such commands can include directional commands such as "left" or "right." These commands are interpreted by speech recognizer 20 and an appropriate recognized utterance is sent to game processor 12, as described above with reference to Figure 2. The game processor then sends signals to motor 58 in accordance with the recognized utterance to rotate the playing surface clockwise or counterclockwise. This rotation can be considered a game output, since it affects game states of a game in progress. When the playing piece falls into an aperture 60, a sensor detects the passage of the playing piece and sends a signal on bus 57 to game processor 12. The game processor then increments a game score based upon a value associated with that aperture. The game score is updated and displayed as game result output 26 on a visual score display such as a 7-segment LED video or flat panel display. Game result output 26 can also include tickets or other awards that are dispensed based on the final game score.

Game apparatus 10b can be implemented in other ways. Certain controls can be implemented as speech commands or miscellaneous user input commands. For example, playing surface 56 can be tilted in certain directions, such as about an axis B, by button or other user controls, and in other directions, such as about axis A, using speech commands. In other embodiments, all the described commands can be implemented using speech commands, or all by miscellaneous user inputs 22.

Figure 4 is a block diagram of a third embodiment 10c of the game apparatus of the present invention. Game apparatus 10c preferably includes a playing field 64 having one or more apertures 66. One or more playing pieces 68 may each engage an aperture. A playing piece can be ejected from an aperture by a player command so that it may land in a different, unoccupied aperture. A game score is accumulated if a predetermined pattern (such as a cross, square, line, etc.) of playing pieces in the apertures is achieved by the player.

As shown in Figure 4, game apparatus 10c includes a game processor 12, a coin box 14, a microphone 18, a speech recognizer 20, and miscellaneous user input 22, which have the functions as described with reference to Figure 1. Game processor 12 also outputs control signals to and receives input from playing field 64. Playing field 64 includes one or more apertures 66 that hold one or more playing pieces 68. In the described embodiment, the apertures are arranged in a rectilinear grid pattern, wherein the apertures are positioned in horizontal and vertical rows. Game processor 12 sends signals on bus 67 to activate one or more solenoids 70, each of which is positioned beneath and partially within an aperture 66. An electric solenoid is used to eject a playing piece from an aperture. Other embodiments of ejectors besides electric solenoids can be used, such as pneumatic or hydraulic solenoids. Air jets can also be used, which can be positioned beneath an aperture and channel a stream or puff of air underneath the playing piece from a source such as a fan to eject the playing piece from the aperture. The game processor also receives input from sensors 72 indicating on a bus 69 if a playing piece is present in an aperture. Sensors 72 can be implemented with, for example, light emitters and detectors, where an emitter 73 is positioned on one side of an aperture 66, and a detector 75 is positioned on the other side. A beam of, for example, infrared light is transmitted by the emitter for detection by the detector. If a playing piece falls into an aperture, the infrared beam is blocked and a signal is developed on bus 69 indicating that a playing piece has been received by that aperture. The game processor can therefore determine which apertures contain playing pieces and can determine if a specific pattern of playing pieces in the apertures has been formed. If a predetermined pattern is present, the game processor updates the score display as game result output 26. If the game is over, the game processor directs the dispenser to dispense tickets or a similar award, which is also a game result output 26.

The operation of gaming apparatus 10c using the speech recognition of the present invention is described as follows. A player inserts a coin and pushes a start button; these inputs are considered coin box input 14 and miscellaneous user input 22 (the start button can alternatively be implemented using a voice command). One or more playing pieces 68 are dispensed onto playing surface 64 so that the playing pieces settle into apertures in a random configuration. In the described embodiment, 16 apertures in a 4 X 4 grid are provided, and five playing pieces are ejected from the apertures to provide a random starting configuration. A player then speaks in the general direction of microphone 18 that is positioned in a convenient area of the game apparatus, such as at the front end of the apparatus. Such commands can include an identifier for the aperture which the player wishes to have a playing piece ejected from. For example, each aperture can be assigned a number identifier in the range of one to sixteen, and the player speaks the number of the aperture from which he wishes to have a playing piece ejected. Alternatively, a player can designate the specific playing piece which he wants to be ejected by indicating a unique number, color, or other identifier which each playing piece displays. In such cases, a sensor (not shown) is provided in each aperture 66 to detect the identifier and to relay that information to game processor 12 by bus 69. The spoken commands are interpreted by speech recognizer 20 and a recognized utterance (or null) is sent to game processor 12, as described previously. The game processor then sends a signal to the solenoid 70 (or other type of ejector) that corresponds, for example, to the recognized utterance to "pop" (the ejection command) the designated playing piece from the aperture. This solenoid control can be considered a game output 24 which causes a change in state in the game in progress. The playing piece is ejected from an aperture 60 and falls into another aperture (or, possibly, the same aperture). Sensor 72 of the receiving aperture provides a signal on bus 69 to game processor 12 to indicate that a playing piece has been received. The game processor then determines the pattern of playing pieces in the apertures to see if the playing pieces have formed a predetermined pattern within those apertures. For example, the game processor can check if four playing pieces are lined up in four adjacent apertures. If a predetermined pattern is present, the game score may be updated and displayed as a game result output 26. The game processor can check for more than one predetermined pattern and different patterns can adjust the score by different amounts. For example, three playing pieces aligned in a row can increase the score by a lesser amount than if four playing pieces are aligned. Game result output 26 can also include awards that are dispensed based on the final game score. The game can be timed so that a game will end either when a player produces one of the predetermined patterns or when a time limit is reached.

Miscellaneous user input 22 can be provided as an alternate to voice commands.

A plurality of buttons, for example, can be provided in the same configuration as apertures 66 within convenient reach of the player. A player can then either use voice commands to eject a playing piece from an aperture, or he can use a corresponding button to accomplish the same result.

In an alternate embodiment, playing pieces 68 can have differing attributes, such as color. The player can be required to position the playing pieces in a pattern of apertures wherein the playing pieces also have a specific color order. For example, the two middle playing pieces of four aligned playing pieces can be required to be the same color to obtain a higher score. In such an embodiment, sensors 72 can be used to detect the presence of a playing piece in an aperture and also to detect the color of that playing piece. Alternatively, two sensors can be used: one sensor to detect the presence of a playing piece and the other sensor to detect the color of the playing piece. A color sensor suitable for use in such an embodiment is described in co-pending patent application 08/135,635 by Kelly et al., entitled, "Arcade Game with Color Sensing Apparatus", filed 10/12/93, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein. In such an embodiment, a player can input the aperture number or playing piece number as speech input. Alternatively, the player can speak the color of the playing piece (or aperture), and the playing piece(s) having that color are ejected from the apertures in which they are positioned.

In another embodiment, several playing pieces can be propelled substantially randomly around an enclosure by a fan apparatus or the like. A player can command a solenoid to open a door to let playing pieces collect in a tube coupled to the enclosure. The color of the playing pieces can be detected within the tube by a color sensor to determine if a scoring combination of playing pieces has been collected in the tube. In such an embodiment, a player can use voice commands instead of miscellaneous user input to open the door and selectively permit playing pieces of a specific color to collect in the tube. Such an embodiment is described in more detail in aforementioned co-pending patent application 08/135,635 and can be implemented with the voice components described with reference to Figure 4.

Figure 5 is a block diagram of a fourth embodiment lOd of the game apparatus of the present invention. Game apparatus lOd includes a game processor 12, microphone 18, and speech recognizer 20, which function as described previously. Miscellaneous user input 22 can originate from the previously mentioned input devices such as buttons, dials, guns, levers, etc. Game apparatus lOd also includes a display screen 76, which is coupled to game processor 12 by a bus 80 and displays images used in the game process 5 as game progress output. These images can be generated by the game processor 12 or a similar additional processor, as is well known to those skilled in the art. Display screen 76 can be a television or other video screen or a flat-panel display, computer monitor, holographic display area, etc.

Speech synthesis output 78 is used to provide speech output for a player in 1 0 response to game inputs and events. Digital speech synthesis is well known to those skilled in the art, and typically includes memory similar to ROM 36 of Figure la to store data pertaining to each voice output, a speech synthesis integrated circuit, and a loudspeaker to output the voice to the player. Speech synthesis I.C.'s are available from such manufacturers as Texas Instruments. For example, in the above-mentioned "name

1 5 that tune" game, a synthesized voice can tell the player when he or she wins a game, names a tune correctly or incorrectly, etc. Speech synthesis output 78 can also be implemented in the other embodiments 10a, 10b, and 10c of game apparatus 10. For example, a score can be displayed on a scoring display or the score can be spoken by a speech synthesizer in any of the above embodiments. Game event output 26 can be a 2.0 separate score display or an award dispenser as described previously.

One embodiment of a speech enhanced game using display screen 76 and voice synthesis output 78 is a fortune-telling game. A player inserts money into the game and several images can be displayed representing cards. A player can input speech commands to microphone 18 to choose a specific card image. The player's fortune is

2 5 told via speech synthesis output 78 and/or displayed on the screen. Alternatively, a player can be asked several questions about his or her personal attributes via speech synthesis output 78. The player can answer the questions via microphone 18, and a fortune message can be retrieved by the game processor from a predefined list stored, for example, in memory such as RAM or ROM or other memory storage. Some or all of a

3 0 player's responses can be matched to entries in the list to determine a fortune. The fortune can be displayed on display screen 76, output by speech synthesis output 78, or dispensed on a piece of paper as game result output 26. A player can also be awarded a score and dispensed an award if the player speaks a predetermined word or phrase which, for example, can be inferred by the player from the prompted questions.

3 5 In other embodiments, a player can be asked specific questions on display screen

76 or through speech synthesis output 78 and can be awarded a score if the questions are answered correctly. The player's answers can be input by voice via microphone 18, or by voice in combination with miscellaneous user input 22. For example, tunes or notes can be displayed on the screen while a connected loudspeaker plays an audio tune in a "name that tune" game. A player can vocally input a name of a song via microphone 18 when playing the game. Other trivia-type games are also possible. Similarly, action games or simulations can also be implemented which are responsive to voice commands such as "fire weapon" or "eject pilot." Video screen 76 can also be used as a touch screen for a player to enter additional user input 22 by touching displayed images on the screen with a finger, stylus, etc. The location of the player's input on the screen is sensed with a clear, pressure-sensitive film covering the screen or by other means well- known to those skilled in the art.

Figure 6a is a block diagram of a fifth embodiment lOe of the game apparatus of the present invention. Game apparatus lOe includes a game processor 12, microphone 18, and speech recognizer 20, which function as described previously. Miscellaneous user input 22 can include the input devices mentioned previously. Game apparatus lOe further includes a motor 82 controlled by game processor 12 to selectively rotate a drum

84. Drum 84 includes a number of symbols 86 on its surface, which can be numbers, pictures, letters, geometric figures, shapes, or other indicia. The drum is preferably divided into sections 87, where one symbol of each section is visible to the player at any one time. A sensor 88, which can sense the rotational position of the drum using optical sensors, mechanical indicators, or other sensors that are well known to those skilled in the art, is used to determine the rotational position of the sections 87 and, therefore, which symbols are displayed. Certain combinations of displayed shapes preferably correspond to different scores.

Microphone 18 and speech recognizer 20 are used to input voice commands to game apparatus lOe. A voice command such as "start" can be spoken to start the game.

This utterance is interpreted by the speech recognizer and implemented by the game processor to activate motor 82 as game output. Motor 82 rotates drum 84, displaying all the combinations of shapes as it rotates. When the player speaks a word such as "stop," the speech recognizer 20 interprets the utterance and the game processor 12 interprets the utterance as a command to stop motor 82. The displayed symbols are determined by game processor 12 using the input of sensor 88, and an appropriate score is awarded to the player based on the pattern of displayed symbols. The game processor 12 can match the pattern of symbols against a table of patterns to determine a score. An award can be dispensed as game output 26 from a dispenser. In other embodiments, each section 87 of drum 84 can be a separate drum which rotates in an individual direction and/or at an individual speed. The individual drums can be collectively or individually stopped by player voice commands. In another embodiment, a player can control the drum(s) to start rotating, but cannot control when the drums stop rotating. The drums can stop rotating after an indeterminate time interval or a random number of complete rotations.

Figure 6b is a pictorial diagram of a second embodiment 10e' of game apparatus lOe as shown in Figure 6a. Dials 90 are used in place of (or in addition to) drum 84 of Figure 6 and are coupled similarly to the other components of game apparatus 10. Dials 90 include a circular face divided into segments 92, where each segment 92 displays a different number 94. Instead of numbers 94, symbols, shapes, or other indicia can alternatively be displayed. Similar to the embodiment of Figure 6a, a motor can be coupled to each dial 90. A player speaks a command, such as "start," into microphone 18 to cause hands 96 attached to the centers of dials 90 to begin spinning simultaneously. A different voice command, such as "stop," causes all hands to stop spinning. The numbers pointed to by the hands are the result detected by one or more sensors 88. A game score can be adjusted and other game result output implemented in response to the pattern on the dials 90. A player can be required to stop the hands when they are pointing to specific number combinations, such as "7-7-7," to score points. In an alternate embodiment, each motor can be individually commanded by a player to start and stop an arm from spinning; for example, a command such as "stop 3" can be interpreted as an instruction to stop the arm on dial number 3. As with the embodiments described previously, non-voice game inputs can be used in conjunction with voice commands.

For example, a player can voice the command "stop" while simultaneously pushing a button marked "3" to stop the arm of dial number 3.

Figure 7 is a flow diagram describing a method of implementing game apparatus 10 of the present invention. The process begins at 100, and, in a step 102, the game processor checks if the game apparatus has been activated to begin playing the game.

This can be checked by determining if currency or token(s) has been inserted in coin box 14 and/or start button 16 input or a start voice command has been received. If the game has not been activated, the process loops until a game activation has been detected. In next step 104, the game process begins. At this point there is a game in progress. In game apparatus 10a, a ball is dispensed into guiding mechanism 48. In game apparatus

10b, motor 55 is controlled by game processor 12 to start vibrating playing surface 56. In game apparatus 10c, the playing pieces are randomly ejected into apertures on the playing surface 64. In game apparatus lOd, images are displayed on display screen 76 and voice output 78 is synthesized when appropriate to game events and actions. In game apparatus lOe and 10e', drum 84 or dial hands 96 are rotated.

In step 106, the game processor checks if a player has entered any input to the game. If the player has entered voice input, step 108 is implemented, in which the speech is converted to a recognized utterance using speech recognizer 20 as described above. The process then continues to step 112. If step 106 detects miscellaneous user input, a command is created in response to the input. For example, if a player presses a button that is the equivalent of a voice command, a command is created. If a button corresponding to an aperture 66 in game embodiment 10c is pressed, a command is created corresponding to that aperture which is the same signal that would be output from speech recognizer 20 if the player had spoken the same aperture number into microphone 18. Process control is then turned over to step 116, which is discussed subsequently.

In step 112, the game processor checks if the received recognized utterance from step 108 is a command used in the game. This can be accomplished with a simple look¬ up table. A "null" recognized utterance is not a game command. If the recognized utterance is not a command, the process continues to step 114. If the recognized utterance is a command, the process continues to step 116.

In step 116, the game processor checks if the recognized command is applicable in the current game context. For example, if a game of apparatus 10b is in progress, the player has already deposited a coin, pushed a start button, and has tilted the playing surface to guide the playing piece into an aperture on the playing surface. If a player is guiding the playing piece with vocal commands such as "left" and "right" and a recognized command such as "start game" is received, the game processor determines that the command is not applicable in the game context. If the command is not applicable, the process continues to step 114. If the command is applicable, step 118 is implemented, in which the game command is processed by the game processor. Each game command is processed in a particular way depending on the game apparatus. The command process can be as simple as a single step, or it can be a series of steps. For example, the game processor may send out control signals to activate one or more of a solenoid, motor, dispenser, etc. as game output.

In step 114, the game process is continued, i.e., the game states continue towards the ultimate completion of the game. For example, a tune may be played from a loudspeaker, images may be displayed on display screen 76 of game apparatus lOd, or a ball may continue to roll down a ramp. In step 120, the game processor checks if a goal has been achieved. A goal can be a playing piece falling into an aperture, wheel 44 stopping at a specific score, the player naming a tune, or any other game result that can cause a game score to increase. If a goal is not achieved, the process continues to step 124. If a goal is achieved, the game score is updated (game result output), for example, by adding points to the game score. It is in this manner that a player's skilled performance of the game can be ascertained. For example, if wheel 44 is rotated and stops rotating when the pointer points to "40", a score of 40 is added to the game score. If the pointer pointed to "Bankrupt", the game score is set to zero. In game apparatus 10b, if the playing piece falls into a numbered aperture, the number of the aperture is added to the game score. In game apparatus 10c, if the playing pieces are arranged in a scoring pattern, a score amount is added to the game score. The process then continues to step 124.

In step 124, the game processor checks if the game is over, i.e. has come to a game conclusion. This result occurs after the series of game states, such as the actions and events described above, and can be caused by varying circumstances. For example, in game apparatus 10a, a game is over after three playing pieces are dispensed and/or guided into apertures. In game apparatus 10b, the game is over when the playing piece either falls into an aperture or falls off an edge of the playing surface. In game apparatus 10c, a game is over when the player has arranged the playing pieces into a scoring pattern, or when a predetermined time limit has expired. In game apparatus lOd, a game is over once a player identifies three tunes, has a fortune displayed, receives a score, etc. If the game is not over, the process returns to step 106 to check for further player input. If the game is over, step 126 provides a player with feedback in the form of game result output. Player feedback can include updating a game score display as well as providing flashing lights, a specific display, sounds, etc. The player's performance in the game can also be communicated to the player in other ways, such as showing the player's accomplished game goals in relation to a main goal. If an award dispenser is present, a number of awards such as tickets, baseball cards, etc., can be dispensed in accordance with the magnitude of the score in this step 126. The process then returns to step 102 to await the commencement of a new game.

While this invention has been described in terms of several preferred embodiments, it is contemplated that alterations, modifications and permutations thereof will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon a reading of the specification and study of the drawings . For example, components of the described embodiments of game apparatus 10 can be altered in many ways. Playing surface 51 of game apparatus 10a, for example, can be situated horizontally or it can be angled such that the target end is higher than the player end of the playing surface. In game apparatus 10b, a joystick or other electronic control can be used to tilt playing surface 56 while speech commands are used for other game functions, such as opening or closing apertures when the playing piece moves nearby. In addition, various features of the described embodiments can be combined in one game apparatus. For example, the display screen 76 and voice synthesis output 78 of Figure 5 can be added to any of the other embodiments described herein. It is therefore intended that the following claims include all such alterations, modifications and permutations as fall within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

What is claimed is:

Claims

Claims
1. A speech enhanced game apparatus comprising: a microphone for developing a microphone output signal from an acoustic input signal; a speech recognizer which develops a recognized utterance from said microphone output signal when said acoustic input signal is an intelligible oral communication from a game player; a game processor responsive to said recognized utterance, said game processor providing at least partial control over a game in progress which undergoes a series of game states before coming to a game conclusion, wherein a skilled performance level of said game player is ascertained and communicated to said game player at said game conclusion by said game processor, and wherein a game state of said game in progress can be influenced by said recognized utterance; and player feedback for conveying a game state influenced by said recognized utterance.
2. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein said speech recognizer comprises: an analog-to-digital (A/D) converter having an analog input coupled to said microphone output signal and a digital output producing digitized microphone data from said microphone output signal; a digital speech processor having an input responsive to said digitized microphone data, said speech processor implementing a process for converting said digital microphone data into said recognized utterance.
3. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 2 wherein said game apparatus comprises: a game digital processor; a process implemented by said game digital processor to recognize a game command from a recognized utterance and operative to influence said game state based upon said game command and upon a current game state.
4. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 3 wherein said speech digital processor and said game digital processor are implemented as a single microprocessor.
5. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein said player feedback includes an auditory feedback mechanism.
6. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein said player feedback includes a tactile feedback mechanism.
7. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 1 wherein said player feedback includes a visual feedback mechanism.
8. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 7 wherein said visual feedback mechanism includes a visual game score display.
9. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 7 wherein said visual feedback mechanism includes a display screen.
10. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 7 wherein said visual feedback mechanism includes a movable, mechanical display.
11. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 1 further comprising a game activation mechanism operative to develop a game activation signal, and wherein said game processor begins said game in progress after receiving said game activation signal.
12. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 11 wherein said game activation mechanism is operated by at least one of a coin, currency, card, and token representing a monetary value.
13. A speech enhanced game apparatus comprising: a microphone for developing a microphone output signal; an analog-to-digital (A/D) converter having an analog input coupled to said microphone output signal and a digital output producing digital microphone data from said microphone output signal; a digital speech processor coupled to said digital output of said A/D converter and operative to produce recognized utterance data from said digital microphone data; a digital game processor coupled to said speech processor and responsive to said recognized utterance data when said recognized utterance data conveys a game command made by a game player, said game processor providing a degree of control over a game in progress which undergoes a series of game states, wherein a game state can be influenced by said game processor in response to said game command; and user feedback for conveying a result of said influence of said game command on said game states.
14. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 13 wherein said user feedback includes a game score display.
15. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 13 further comprising: a playing piece; a playing surface having a first and a second end; at least one target proximate to said second end of said playing surface, where said target is receptive to said playing piece directed along said playing surface from said first end to said second end; and a sensor coupled to said game processor for sensing when said playing piece has impinged upon said target.
16. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 15 wherein said at least one target proximate to said second end of said playing surface includes at least one aperture, and wherein said sensor comprises an array of sensors associated with said at least one aperture.
17. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 15 further comprising: a rotatable wheel for displaying a plurality of indicia associated with a game score; a wheel controller coupled to said wheel and responsive to said sensor and operative to selectively control the rotational position of said wheel; and a scorer operative to accumulate said game score based upon said position of said wheel.
18. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 17 further comprising a guide operative to guide said playing piece into one of said apertures.
19. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 18 wherein said guide is controlled by said game commands.
20. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 13 further comprising: a playing surface; a playing piece adapted to frictionally engage said playing surface; and an imparter for imparting an automatic displacement force on said playing piece.
21. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 20 further comprising a user controller for varying an angle of said playing surface to direct said playing piece in a desired direction.
22. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 21 wherein said playing surface is inclined and includes apertures into which said playing piece may fall, and wherein said playing surface includes a sensor for detecting when a playing piece has fallen into an aperture.
23. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 22 wherein said imparter includes a vibrator coupled to said playing surface.
24. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 20 wherein said user controller includes an electronic controller for rotating said playing surface about an axis in accordance with said game commands.
25. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 22 further comprising a calculator coupled to said game processor and operative to accumulate a game score, wherein said game score is based on a final position of said playing piece on said playing surface.
26. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 13 further comprising: a playing surface including a plurality of apertures, wherein each aperture is receptive to a playing piece; at least one playing piece, each positioned within a designated aperture; an ejection device coupled to said game processor and operative to eject a playing piece from a designated aperture such that said ejected playing piece is received by one of said apertures.
27. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 26 wherein said ejection device includes a plurality of ejectors, wherein each ejector is positioned within one of said apertures.
28. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 27 further comprising a scorer coupled to said game processor operative to accumulate a game score when said at least one playing piece is positioned relative to other playing pieces in a predetermined arrangement.
29. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 28 wherein at least one of said ejectors is controlled by said game commands.
30. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 29 wherein each of said ejectors includes an electric solenoid.
31. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 13 further comprising a display screen coupled to said digital game processor for displaying output from said game digital processor.
32. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 13 further comprising a speech synthesizer coupled to said digital game processor for outputting speech in accordance with said game states.
33. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 13 further comprising a rotating cylinder displaying at least one image on its surface, wherein said rotation of said cylinder is controlled by said game commands.
34. A speech enhanced game apparatus as recited in claim 13 further comprising a dispenser, wherein said dispenser dispenses an award based upon a game score accumulated by said digital game processor.
35. A method for playing a speech enhanced game, said method comprising the steps of: beginning a game in progress which undergoes a series of game states before coming to a game conclusion; recognizing spoken input and producing recognized utterance data therefrom; determining whether said recognized utterance data is a game command; and influencing said game in progress based upon said game command when said recognized utterance data is a game command.
36. A method as recited in claim 35 wherein said step of beginning a game in progress is accomplished when a game activation signal is received.
37. A method as recited in claim 35 wherein said step of recognizing a speech input includes converting an analog microphone input signal to said recognized utterance.
38. A method as recited in claim 35 wherein said step of determining whether said recognized utterance data is a game command includes comparing said recognized utterance data to a predetermined list of game commands and selecting a game command that substantially matches said recognized utterance.
39. A method as recited in claim 38 wherein said step of influencing one of said game states includes causing a playing piece to move along a playing surface.
40. A method as recited in claim 39 wherein said step of influencing one of said game states includes rotating said playing surface along an axis of rotation to guide said playing piece in a desired direction on said playing surface.
41. A method as recited in claim 38 wherein said step of influencing one of said game states includes ejecting a playing piece from a designated aperture in a playing surface.
42. A method as recited in claim 38 wherein said step of influencing one of said game state includes displaying images on a video screen.
43. A method as recited in claim 38 further comprising the steps of: receiving non-speech data; determining whether said non-speech data is a game command; and influencing said game in progress based upon said game command when said non-speech data is a game command.
PCT/US1995/006311 1994-05-16 1995-05-11 Speech enhanced game apparatus and method therefor WO1995031264A1 (en)

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US10096210B2 (en) 2005-01-10 2018-10-09 Cantor Index, Llc Method and apparatus for providing advice regarding gaming strategies
US8727352B2 (en) 2005-01-10 2014-05-20 Cantor Index Llc Method and apparatus for providing advice regarding gaming strategies
US8186682B2 (en) 2005-01-10 2012-05-29 Cantor Index Llc Method and apparatus for providing advice regarding gaming strategies
US9536396B2 (en) 2005-01-10 2017-01-03 Cantor Index Llc Method and apparatus for providing advice regarding gaming strategies
WO2007111929A2 (en) * 2006-03-22 2007-10-04 Francis Aicher Heckendorf, Iii Active play interactive game system
WO2007111929A3 (en) * 2006-03-22 2009-02-26 Francis Aicher Heckendorf Iii Active play interactive game system

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