WO2001058548A1 - System and method for integrating virtual representation of a real event with a remote participant - Google Patents

System and method for integrating virtual representation of a real event with a remote participant Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2001058548A1
WO2001058548A1 PCT/US2001/004509 US0104509W WO0158548A1 WO 2001058548 A1 WO2001058548 A1 WO 2001058548A1 US 0104509 W US0104509 W US 0104509W WO 0158548 A1 WO0158548 A1 WO 0158548A1
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Prior art keywords
real
event
virtual
information
competing
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PCT/US2001/004509
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French (fr)
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WO2001058548A9 (en )
Inventor
Kevin I. Robertson
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Robertson Kevin I
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    • 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

Abstract

A system and method of representing real-world events as virtual-world representations of those events and integrating remotely located participant(s) (30) into the virtual-world representations of the real world events (10). By integrating the remote participant(s) (30) into the virtual event (25), where virtual representations of the real event characteristics (11), and the real competing object(s) (13) are represented, the remote participant(s) (30) may participate in the virtual event (25) along with the real competing object(s) (13).

Description

SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR INTEGRATING VIRTUAL REPRESENTATION OF A REAL EVENT WITH A REMOTE PARTICIPANT

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

This invention is directed to a system and method of representing real-world events, including, for example, sporting or competition events, as virtual-world representations of that event and the integration of one or more remote real-world participants into that virtual- world representation.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many simulation computer games or computer simulation systems are designed to present a user with simulated or virtual- world representations of a real -world environment. The user of such systems is able to experience the particular real- world environment without physically being present in the real-world environment. Various computer games such as, simulated auto racing games and simulated golf games are some examples.

The quality of the virtual- world representation of a particular real-world environment and the quality of the user's experience will depend on the quality of the particular simulation system. In simulated auto racing computer games, for example, the simulation system or software presents the user with one or more virtual representations of real-world racing tracks. That simulation system, a computer or a video game, for example, may present the user with a virtual race track that has the same layout as the actual race track. The simulation may duplicate many characteristics of the race track such as the incline angles of the track around the banked turns, any elevation changes around the race track, and any track surface changes.

The simulation may even present the user with different weather conditions to simulate the various actual racing conditions that exist at the actual race track. The simulation may also include other simulation elements such as the spectators' stand, the noise of the spectators, etc. to complete the simulated experience for the user.

The user will then typically be provided with a simulated virtual race car to drive around the virtual race track. Similar to the simulation of the virtual race track, the virtual race car may be provided with a number of characteristics of the actual race cars. The virtual race car may produce an engine sound similar to the real race cars and computer simulation software may incorporate certain driving characteristics of the real cars so that the virtual car behaves in a manner similar to the real race car as the user drives it around the virtual race track. In these simulation systems, computer software typically controls the other participants against whom the participant races.

The actual driving of the virtual race car on the virtual race track may be achieved by using one of the many computer input devices available such as: a keyboard, a mouse, a joystick, or a driving wheel console.

The user may drive around the virtual race track alone or the computer simulation may provide other race cars for the user to race against. And in computer simulation games designed for multiple users the users can race against each other as well as against the computer provided virtual race cars.

Although, the existing computer simulation systems such as the computer simulation games described above provide the user with the ability to experience a real-world environment using a virtual representation, they do not provide the user with the thrill and excitement of being able to participate in a real event along with or compete against the real participants of the real event.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention is a system and method of integrating a remotely located participant into a virtual-world representation of the real event where the remotely located real participant may participate in the virtual- world representation of the real event and compete against virtual- world representations of the actual competitors who participate or participated in the real event. The virtual-world representation of the real event includes the real event environment's characteristics as well as the real event's actual competitors so that the remotely located participant may experience not only the environment of the real event but the thrill and excitement of participating or competing against the actual participants.

A preferred embodiment is a system for simulating a real event as virtual-world representations and integrating remotely located participants. The system is provided with one or more monitoring devices adapted and configured to monitor one or more real event characteristics and another set of one or more monitoring devices adapted and configured to monitor one or more real competing objects. The information collected by the real event characteristics monitoring devices, the real competing object monitoring devices, are transmitted to a virtual event simulation device. Input information from one or more remote participants are input through one or more remote participant interface devices to the virtual event simulation device. The virtual event simulation device utilizes this information to integrate virtual representations of the real competing objects and virtual representations of the remote participants into a virtual event.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIGURE 1 is a diagram illustrating the elements of a system and method implementing the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

One or more aspects will now be illustrated in some specific preferred embodiments. It will be appreciated by the one skilled in the art that the same principle is also applicable in other applications and areas where it is desired to integrate remote participants into a virtual event and participate along with and against the virtual representations of the real competing objects.

Figure 1 is a diagram illustrating the elements of the system for creating a virtual event from a real event and integrating a remote participant into the virtual representation of the real world event. The "real event" or "real- world event" 10 may include any activity related to a primary event whether that is before, during, or after the primary event. In auto racing for example, the actual race is the primary event and the real event may include all pre- race activities, such as the practice runs, the time qualifying races, the actual race, the award ceremonies, and all post-race activities. The "virtual event" is a simulation or virtual-world representation of the real event created by an electronic device, such as, for example, a computer capable of creating a virtual-world depiction or simulation of the real event.

Real event characteristics information 11 and real competing object information 13 are collected by real event characteristics monitoring devices 12 and real competing object monitoring devices 14 respectively and transmitted to a virtual event simulation device 20. "Real event characteristics" are information about the real event other than the real competing objects or participants. In auto racing, for example, this would include environmental information such as the track surface condition, the track layout, the topography, the safety features, the spectators, the weather condition, etc., and the event information like the race distance, duration, etc. The "real competing object" or "real competing participant" are the objects or participants in the real event. In auto racing, for example, this may include the driver, the race car, or anything that is regarded as part or associated with the actual participants. For purposes of this specification "real competing objects," "real competing participants" and "real competing objects or participants" shall be used interchangeably.

These monitoring devices may be any commercially available sensors, transponders, transducers, cameras, etc. appropriate for monitoring the particular real event characteristics and the real competing objects. For example, in auto racing, the sensors for collecting real event characteristics 11 could be anemometers, rain sensors, thermometers, surface friction meters, etc., while the sensors for collecting data on the real competing objects may include speedometers, Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) devices, cameras, accelerometers for measuring G-forces, etc. Where the real event is a running event and the real competing objects are the human runners, a transponder could be worn by each runner to transmit a unique code identifying the runner and the location of the runner.

The virtual event simulation device 20 utilizes the real event characteristics information 11 and real competing object information 13 to create corresponding virtual event characteristics 22 and virtual competing objects 24 respectively which are used to form the virtual event 25. The "virtual event characteristics" would include information about the virtual event corresponding to the real event characteristics, i.e., information about the virtual event other than the virtual competing object(s). This representation may not replicate the actual real event characteristics, and the real world events may be represented differently in the virtual event. In auto racing, for example, this may include information about the race track, the spectators, the weather condition, etc. The "virtual competing object(s)" are the virtual representations of the real competing objects in the virtual event. The virtual event simulation device 20 may typically be a computer system appropriately equipped and configured to create a virtual event. During the duration of the real event, the real event characteristics information 11 and the real competing object information 13 are collected and transmitted to the virtual event simulation device 20 so that the simulation device may generate the corresponding virtual event 25 that represents the changing conditions of the real event.

In another preferred embodiment, some of the real event characteristics information

11 provided to the virtual event simulation device 20 may be predefined information and not necessarily updated using the various monitoring devices discussed above during the course of the real event. An example of such information in auto racing example is the track information such as the layout and the track surface condition.

A remote participant 30, which may include one or more persons that participate remotely in the virtual event, may then participate in the virtual event 25 by transmitting virtual remote participant information 32 to the virtual event simulation device 20. The virtual event simulation device uses this information to create virtual remote participant(s) 23 which becomes part of the virtual event 25 and interacts with the virtual competing objects 24 according to the inputs received from the remote participant(s) 30. The "virtual remote participant" would be the remote participant participating in the virtual event. In auto racing, for example, this would include the remote participant as the driver, the race car, or anything that is regarded as part or associated with a remote participant.

It can be appreciated by one skilled in the art that although a large number of remote participants may participate in the virtual event 25, each participant is not necessarily presented with virtual representations of each and every other virtual remote participants at his/her output device 39. For example, in the auto racing example, there might be millions of remote participants participating in the virtual event race, but not all of them will be depicted on each remote participant's output device 39 as driving down the virtual race track. The system may allow each remote participant to select the number of other virtual remote participants that are visible on his/her output device. The virtual remote participant information 32 may be input into an interface device 37 using an appropriate data input device 35. The interface device 37 then transmits the information to the virtual event simulation device 20.

The interface device 37 may be the remote participant's personal computer and the data input device 35 may be any one of the available data input devices such as a joystick, a computer keyboard, a driving wheel console, etc. The particular input device chosen would be determined by the particular activity required to participate in the virtual event. In another preferred embodiment, the interface device 37 and the data input device 35 may be one and the same device. In a virtual marathon event example, a treadmill machine provided with an appropriate microprocessor would be able to perform the task of both devices. A communications link could be established between the treadmill and the virtual event simulation device 20 such that the treadmill would perform its data input function and collect the virtual remote participant information (e.g., the running speed and the distance ran by the remote participant) and transmit the information to the virtual event simulation device 20.

The virtual event simulation devices 20 may be similar to the computer systems used in many of the existing live-action computer simulation games and the virtual event 25 may be presented to the remote participant via an output device 39 that is connected to the interface device 37. In another embodiment of the invention, the interface device 37 may be a single purpose computer custom configured for a particular type of real event, rather than a general purpose personal computer. For example, the interface device 37 may be a video game console or a complicated driving simulation machines equipped to give the remote participant a realistic driving experience, similar to the flight training simulators utilized by the professional pilots.

A particular output device 39 in a given application may be selected to be optimal for the particular event. For example, it may be a display screen with audio allowing the remote participants to participate in the virtual event in a manner similar to which computer games are played.

In an application where the virtual event is a running event, like the marathon example discussed below, the output device 39 and the input device 35 may be combined into one treadmill machine. In that example, the treadmill may function as an input device, collecting and transmitting the real remote participant's running speed and distance information to the virtual event simulation device 20. And it may also be used as an output device by the interface device 37 which can control the treadmill machine to change the incline angle in response to the virtual event information received from the virtual event simulation device 20 to simulate the changing road elevations along the marathon course. The virtual event simulation device 20 may be a remotely located computer system.

The remote participant would establish a communications link between the interface device 37 and the virtual event simulation device 20 when he/she wishes to participate in a particular virtual event. This communications link may be a direct link between the two devices or a link through a network such as the Internet, Intranet or Extranet.

The actual communications link may be established utilizing any one of the existing or then available communication technologies for linking computers, such as, a dial-up connection through modems, broadband wired connections through cable modems or DSL modems, or even wireless connections. If appropriate, the virtual event simulation device and the interface computer may be the same computer system so that the virtual event simulation device is remotely located from the real event but the remote participant and the virtual event simulation device are at the same location.

It should also be noted that there may be multiple virtual event simulation devices remotely located at various geographical locations to serve a large number of remote participants.

The virtual event simulation device 20 receives the virtual remote participant information 32 transmitted by the interface device 37 and integrates that information along with the virtual event characteristics 22 into the virtual event 25. The virtual event information 34 is then transmitted to the interface device 37 and displayed on an appropriate output device 39 for the remote participant 30.

The result is that the remote participant may participate in a virtual representation of the real event, including virtual representations of the real competing objects of the real event. The collection of the real characteristic information and real object information and their integration into the virtual event as virtual characteristic and the virtual competing object information along with the integration of the virtual remote participant information may be processed by the virtual event simulation device 20 in real time, i.e., as the real event takes place, or on a time-delayed basis.

To further assist in understanding, an auto racing example will be used as an illustration with references to the elements illustrated in Figure 1. The auto racing example is illustrative only and should not be construed to narrow or limit the invention.

In this example, the real event 10 is the auto race and the associated activities that occur before and after the actual racing on the track. The real event characteristics information 11 and the real competing object information 13 are collected, the race track, using appropriate sensor devices 12, 14, and transmitted to the virtual event simulation device 20. The real event characteristics 11 may include environmental information such as the track surface condition, the track layout, the topography, the safety features, the spectators, the weather conditions, etc. and the event information such as the race distance, duration, etc. The real competing object information 13 may include the driver attributes, the race car attributes, or anything that is regarded as part of or associated with the real race participants.

This information is transmitted to the virtual event simulation device 20 during or after the real event, in this example the auto race, so that the simulation device may generate the corresponding virtual event 25 that represents the changing conditions at the real event 10. More specifically, the virtual event simulation device 20 generates a corresponding set of virtual event characteristics 22 and virtual competing objects 24 which create the virtual event. In other words, the virtual event simulation device 20 creates a virtual event where there are virtual representations of the real competing objects racing around the virtual race track matching the movements of the real competing objects. A remote participant 30 may then participate in the virtual event by driving a virtual race car using an appropriate input device 35. In this example, a steering wheel console may be an appropriate input device. The remote participant's input using the input device 35 forms virtual remote participant information 32 and may be transmitted to the virtual event simulation device 20 via the interface computer 37 over a communications link established between the two devices.

The virtual event simulation device 20 receives the virtual remote participant information transmitted by the interface computer 37 and integrates that information along with the virtual event characteristics information and the virtual competing object information into the virtual event. The virtual event information is transmitted to the interface computer 37 and displayed in an appropriate display device for the remote participant.

The result is that the remote participant 30 may drive a virtual race car against the drivers who drive real race cars in the real-world racing event through a virtual event that is a virtual- world representation or simulation of the real- world racing.

In another example of the application of the invention, a virtual representation of a marathon may be created and allow the remote participants 30 to run in the marathon. In this example, the input device 35 at the remote participant's location may be a treadmill machine. The treadmill machine may be connected to the interface computer 37 so that the remote participant's running speed and distance can be transmitted to the virtual event simulation device 20 for appropriate integration into the virtual marathon event.

The treadmill machine 35 may also be controlled by the interface computer 37 so that the interface computer may change the incline of the treadmill to simulate the terrain of the marathon course as the remote participant advances through the marathon. The virtual event information 34 containing the course terrain information would be sent by the virtual event simulation device 20 to the interface computer 37 which in turn sends an appropriate feedback signal 38 to the treadmill 35 to effectuate the adjustment of the treadmill's incline to correspond to the actual course terrain. The treadmill machine may also be inclined to simulate a head-on wind and it may also be placed in a room whose environmental controls are controlled by the interface computer 37 to simulate some of the changing weather conditions, such as the temperature, at the marathon course.

Although the present invention has been described with particular reference to some embodiments, it should be understood that many variations and modifications will now be obvious to those skilled in that art, and therefore, that the scope of the invention should not be limited by the specific disclosure herein, but only by the appended claims and their equivalents.

Claims

I claim:
L A system for simulating a real event as virtual world representations and integrating remotely located participants, comprising: one or more real event characteristic monitoring devices adapted and configured to monitor one or more real event characteristics; one or more real competing object monitoring devices adapted and configured to monitor one or more real competing objects; a virtual event simulation device which receives information from the real event characteristics monitoring devices and the real competing object monitoring devices; and one or more remote participant interface devices adapted and configured to input information from one or more remote participants to the virtual event simulation device; wherein the virtual event simulation device integrates virtual representations of the real competing objects and virtual representations of the remote participants based on the real event characteristics information, real competing objects information, and the virtual remote participants' information.
2. A system according to claim 1, wherein the virtual event is a virtual representation of a competitive sporting event and the remote participants can compete against the virtual representations of the real competing objects.
3. A system according to claim 1, wherein the interface device includes a personal computer.
4. A system according to claim 1 , wherein the real event is an auto racing event.
5. A system according to claim 1, wherein the real event is a running race.
6. A system according to claim 1 , wherein the information from one or more remote participants is input to the virtual event simulation device through a dial-up communications link between the interface device and the virtual event simulation device.
7. A system according to claim 1, wherein the information from one or more remote participants to the virtual event simulation device is through the Internet.
8. A system according to claim 1, wherein the integration of the real event characteristics information and the real competing objects information is processed in real time.
9. A method of simulating a real event as virtual world representations and integrating remotely located real participants, comprising: monitoring one or more real event characteristics using one or more real event characteristic monitoring devices; monitoring one or more real competing objects using one or more real competing object monitoring devices; providing a virtual event simulation device; inputting real event characteristics information and real competing objects information from the real event characteristic monitoring devices and the real competing object monitoring devices respectively, and one or more remote participants' input information to the virtual event simulation device; generating the virtual event; and presenting the virtual event to the remote participant.
10. A method according to claim 9, further comprising the step of: including virtual representations of the real competing objects, based on the real event characteristics information, real competing objects information, and the virtual remote participants information.
PCT/US2001/004509 2000-02-11 2001-02-12 System and method for integrating virtual representation of a real event with a remote participant WO2001058548A9 (en)

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US18189600 true 2000-02-11 2000-02-11
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US60/183,863 2000-02-22

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