WO2001069829A2 - Networked interactive toy apparatus operative to promote sales - Google Patents

Networked interactive toy apparatus operative to promote sales

Info

Publication number
WO2001069829A2
WO2001069829A2 PCT/IL2001/000247 IL0100247W WO2001069829A2 WO 2001069829 A2 WO2001069829 A2 WO 2001069829A2 IL 0100247 W IL0100247 W IL 0100247W WO 2001069829 A2 WO2001069829 A2 WO 2001069829A2
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
toy
user
interactive
sales
sales promotion
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/IL2001/000247
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO2001069829A3 (en )
Inventor
Oz Gabai
Jacob Gabai
Nimrod Sandlerman
Nathan Weiss
Original Assignee
Creator Ltd.
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

Links

Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H3/00Dolls
    • A63H3/28Arrangements of sound-producing means in dolls; Means in dolls for producing sounds
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H30/00Remote-control arrangements specially adapted for toys, e.g. for toy vehicles
    • A63H30/02Electrical arrangements
    • A63H30/04Electrical arrangements using wireless transmission
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/02Marketing, e.g. market research and analysis, surveying, promotions, advertising, buyer profiling, customer management or rewards; Price estimation or determination
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H2200/00Computerized interactive toys, e.g. dolls

Abstract

Sales promotion apparatus and methods employing interactive toys are described. Interactive toys (20) have real time conversations with users (10), preferably employing speech recognition. Interactive toys are preferably connected to at least one interactive toy server which is preferably connected to entertainment, education and sales promotion servers possibly via Internet communication systems utilizing, for example, telephone lines, coaxial cables, satellite or other broadband systems. Interactive toys are preferably connected to a computing device such as a home computer (70) or an Interactive Television set-top box via a wireless link. They may support mobile cellular or satellite communication.

Description

NETWORKED INTERACTIVE TOY APPARATUS OPERATIVE TO PROMOTE SALES

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to computerized toys.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Toys used in conjunction with a computer system are well known in the art. The following patents are believed to represent the state of the art: U.S. Patent No. 5,746,602' to Kikinis entitled "PC Peripheral Interactive Doll"; US Patent No.5,752,880 to Gabai et al. entitled "Interactive Doll"; U.S. Patent No. 6,022,273 to Gabai et al. entitled "Interactive Doll"; U.S. Patent No. 6,053,797 to Tsang entitled "Interactive Toy"; U.S. Patent No. 6,059,237 to Choi entitled "Interactive Toy Train"; U.S. Patent No. 6,064,854 to Peters et al. entitled "Computer assisted interactive entertainment/educational character goods"; U.S. Patent No. 6,089,942 to Chan entitled "Interactive Toys"; U.S. Patent No. 6,149,490 to Hampton entitled "Interactive Toy"; U.S. Patent No. 6,160,986 to Gabai et al. entitled "Interactive Toy"; and U.S. Patent No. 6,075,195 to Gabai et al. They are further described in U.S. Patents 5,636,994 to Tong, and 5,855,483 to Compaq.

Computerized toys are also described in the following published PCT applications:

PCT/IL96/00157 (WO 97/18871); PCT/IL98/00223 (WO 98/53456); PCT/IL98/00224 (WO 98/52667); PCT/IL98/00225 (WO 98/53567); PCT/IL98/00392 (WO 99/08762); PCT/IL98/00406 (WO99/10065); PCT/IL99/00202 (WO99/54015); PCT/IL99/00271 (WO 99/60358); PCT/IL99/00637 (WO 00/31613); PCT/IL00/00130 (WO 00/51697).

The disclosures of all publications mentioned in the specification and of the publications cited therein are hereby incorporated by reference. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention seeks to provide methods and apparatus employing a system of networked interactive toys for the purpose of effecting interactive sales promotion scenarios.

There is thus provided in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention a description of sales promotion apparatus and methods employing interactive toys. Interactive toys have real time conversations with users, preferably employing speech recognition. Interactive toys are preferably connected to at least one interactive toy server which is preferably connected to entertainment, education and sales promotion servers possibly via Internet communication systems utilizing, for example, telephone lines, coaxial cables, satellite or other broadband systems. Interactive toys are preferably connected to a computing device such as a home computer or an Interactive Television set-top box via a wireless link.

They may support mobile cellular or satellite communication. These toys are therefore able to provide numerous methodologies for promoting sales to a user. Interactive toys may be customized to user requirements, for example, by employing a modular design. Content is provided to users for their toys which enables toys to form relationships with users. This feature is then used to enhance entertainment, education and the promotion of sales. Interactive Toys further utilize user knowledge bases to match sales promotions to user histories, behaviors and purchasing habits. Content, including entertainment, educational and sales promotional content, is thus personalized to an individual user. Application of a population of interactive toys in methods of sales promotion to a community of users is described.

One of the more accepted marketing solutions of recent years is the effectiveness and profitability resulting from retailers and manufacturers getting closer to their customers, getting to know them intimately and developing an on going dialogue with them. The most common terms given to this marketing strategy are "Database Marketing" or "After-Marketing".

Traditionally, retailers and manufacturers have concentrated on creating customers. Over the past several years, many successful marketers have begun shifting emphasis from customers' "conquest" to an "after-marketing" strategy. After-marketing focuses on customer retention and generating additional revenue from a retailer's current customer base. This movement makes considerable sense, given the high cost of selling to new customers, the increased competition many retailers are now facing. Many retailers and manufacturers work hard and commit a significant portion of their resources to creating new customers. It is a well-established fact that the cost of winning a new customer is higher than retaining current customers. In fact, the cost of selling to new customers can be three to four times higher than selling to existing customers. This has been shown in several key studies by McKinsey (1990), and Reichheld and Sasser (1990).

The benefits of keeping a customer over time are well documented. Perhaps the biggest factor is the lifetime value each customer represents as they make repeat purchases over time. Research presented by Frederick Reichheld, Bain & Co. and W. Earl Sasser, Harvard Business School in Zero Defects: Quality Comes to Services, (Harvard Business Review, Sep - Oct 1990) indicates that as a customers' relationship with a company lengthens, profits rise. And not just a little. Retailers can boost profits by almost 100% by retaining just 5% more of its customers.

Equally important is the reduced selling cost associated with selling to these existing customers. Focusing on customers and listening to them will tell retailers what to do with their current product offerings and what new products to introduce. Additionally, a customer focus will offer valuable insights into market trends, and provide the credibility and reference base necessary to successfully sell old and new products alike. Other benefits derived from focusing on customers include important referrals, increased account penetration, and price premiums.

Research reported in Michael LeBouef s book How to Win Customers and Keep Them for Life indicates that more than two-thirds of customers who quit using the products or services of a vendor do so because of an indifferent attitude toward them by the vendor. When customers are dissatisfied, only 4% complain to the vendor. The other 96% go quietly away, and 91% never come back. The same dissatisfied customers tell eight to ten people about vendor problems while satisfied customers only tell five people about their good experiences.

The System, the method and the service discussed employ the affiliation method used in the Web for r-stores (real world stores, unlike e-stores that are web based stores). According to the Web affiliation method, an affiliated sites that references a surfer to a merchant (e-commerce) site receives a commission on the sale made by the merchant site. Most commissions range between 5% and 15%. The advantage to the merchant is that it does not have to pay for the advertisement, the affiliated site does the advertising at no charge (except for the commission). The advantage to the affiliated site is that for a "small site" (relatively not so popular) it is easier to sign an affiliation agreement than to sell advertising space.

There are many known products available on a pay-as-you-order basis. These include films and videos, which may be downloaded from the Internet, or via other electronic systems. Other items include music, MP3, games, Internet products, and the like.

Similarly, there are many known services, which are provided on a pay-per- item basis. These include wake-up services, advice services, information services, and the like.

There is thus provided in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention an interactive, personalized system of sales promotion preferably relying at least partly on verbal communication between a toy and a toy's user. An example of a sales promotion scenario employing such a system occurs when an advertiser promotes a product or service via a toy, controlled by a networked computer, in which said toy uses recorded, simulated, computer generated or other verbal means in order to present said advertiser's message. It is preferred that the content of the toy's speech and/or its other actions depends on said user's response to some or all of the toy's previous speech and/or actions in which case the sales promotion is interactive. A user's response is sensed by a toy preferably using a microphone as well as possibly other sensors and it is preferably processed by a computer connected to said toy preferably via a wireless communication link and preferably using speech recognition technology. The toy thus gives the impression of interacting with its user in a manner similar to that of a human salesman.

Sales promotion is preferably personalized to an individual user using an extensive knowledge base regarding said user. Said knowledge base may be located partly or entirely on a central Interactive Toy Server or alternatively, it may be kept entirely on a user's personal computer so as to enhance protection of said user's privacy.

The toy sales promotion scenario may also use reactions of a user to modify sales promotion strategies to other users.

Another embodiment of this invention describes a method by which interactive toys encourage a user to visit a store or a web site. Once a user is in a store or at a web site he or she is likely to buy more than he/she originally intended to buy. Furthermore once a person becomes a customer, it is much easier and less expensive, to sell the person other items..

The present invention relates to the use of Interactive toys in general and Networked Interactive toys in particular to send users to or to interface with, online shopping sites which may use, in addition to traditional forms of payment such as credit cards, a point system. Credit points may be purchased or may be given to the user or may be won by the user. This system is ideal for use by people who do not have credit cards or who do not wish to use them. Such people include children (whose parents may purchase credit points for them) and people with mental handicaps or any person who finds it either better or more enjoyable to use credit points instead of money.

This invention further describes the use of networked interactive toys in providing items to one or more users. Interactive toys preferably provide users with items, preferably on a "pay-per-item" basis.

There is thus provided in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention a method for sales promotion including the steps of causing an interactive toy to establish bi-directional communication with a user, employing the interactive toy to establish a knowledge base regarding the user, interactively employing the knowledge base and a sales promotion database to create a personalized sales promotion scenario for the user, and effecting the scenario. Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the bi-directional communication comprises at least verbal communication.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the bi-directional communication also includes at least one of visual, tactile, kinetic, olfactory, audio, emotional and positional communication.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the knowledge base includes an interaction database.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the knowledge base includes a user environment database.

Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the step of employing the interactive toy to establish a knowledge base regarding the user includes at least one of logging, filtering, ordering, categorizing, storing and deleting occurrences.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, prior to the step of interactively employing the knowledge base and a sales promotion database to create a personalized sales promotion scenario for the user, the method includes the step of employing the knowledge base to create a personalized scenario for the user, which is operative for conditioning, the user.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the step of conditioning the user includes conditioning the user to be amenable to the personalized sales promotion scenario.

Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the step of employing the interactive toy to effect the scenario includes the use of at least one of visual, tactile, kinetic, olfactory, audio, emotional and positional communication.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the effecting step comprises employing the interactive toy to effect the scenario.

There is provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention, a method for sales including the steps of causing an interactive toy to establish bi-directional communication with a user, employing the interactive toy to establish a knowledge base regarding the user, interactively employing the knowledge base and a sales promotion database to create a personalized sales promotion scenario for the user, effecting the scenario, and billing a sales promoter.

Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the step of billing a sales promoter includes billing an amount which is a function of user interaction with the scenario.

Additionally, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the step of billing is dependent on fulfillment of at least one of the following interactivity levels, presentation of sales promotion content to user, user interactive response during scenario, user interactive response following scenario, and purchase responsive to user interaction with scenario.

There is thus further provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention, sales promotion server apparatus including at least one computers linked to a first population of toys and to a second population of sales promoters via a network, wherein sales distribution software resides in the at least one computers, the sales distribution software being operative to receive sales promotion content from at least one sales promoter from among the second population of sales promoters and to present the sales promotion content to at least one user of at least one individual toy from among the first population of toys, via the toy.

There is further provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention, sales promotion server apparatus including at least one computers linked to a first population of toys and to a second population of sales promoters via a network, wherein sales distribution software resides in the at least one computers, the sales distribution software being operative to employ the interactive toy to establish a knowledge base regarding the user of the toy, to interactively employ the knowledge base and a sales promotion database to create a personalized sales promotion scenario for the user and to employ the interactive toy to effect the scenario.

Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the personalized sales promotion scenario presented to an individual user is based on at least one of the following context elements a characteristic of the individual user's environment, an aspect of the individual user's hobby, at least one of the individual user's likes and dislikes, a characteristic of the environment of at least one additional user within the individual user's social milieu, an aspect of at least one hobby of at least one additional user within the individual user's social milieu, and likes and dislikes of at least one additional user within the individual user's social milieu. Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the interactively employing step includes employing the knowledge base of at least one toy belonging to at least one individual user to create the personalized sales promotion scenario for a different user.

Yet further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the causing, employing, interactively employing and employing steps are performed for each toy from among a population of networked interactive toys.

Additionally, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the sales promotion database includes at least one advertisement campaign including at least one related advertisements having selectable advertisement attributes and wherein the interactively employing step includes employing information in the knowledge database to select the advertisement attributes.

Also, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the at least one computers include at least one game program, in which at least one advertising template is embedded, wherein sales content of one of a plurality of sales promoters is plugged into the template.

Further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, , wherein the game program, wherein the game includes at least one of the following -a dialogue, a word game, a quiz, a verbal game, an educational game, a riddle, a puzzle, a guessing game, a computer game, and an interactive game,

Yet further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the advertisement template includes a user-triggered template, which is presented responsive to a defined user-generated stimulus.

Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, apparatus also includes the sales promotion presentation controller operative to present sales promotion content to a user responsive to sales-related events.

There is further provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention, a toy system including an interactive toy operative to maintain bidirectional communication with the user including sensing at least one user-generated stimulus, and a sales promotion content database storing at least one sales promotion content item for presentation to the user, and a sales promotion presentation controller operative to present at least one sales promotion content item responsive to a defined user-generated stimulus.

There is thus also provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention, a method wherein a plurality of sales promotion content items are stored in the sales promotion database, and wherein a presentation trigger is linked to at least one individual item from among the sales promotion content items and wherein the step of employing the toy includes presenting the individual sales promotion content item responsive to the presentation trigger.

Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the interactive toy is operative to sense at least one user-generated action and the presentation trigger includes the user-generated action.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the user-generated action includes a motor action.

Yet further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the user-generated action includes an audio action such as an utterance.

Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the sales promotion database includes at least one sales promotion content item in which an advertising style template is embedded, and wherein a plurality of different styled template options are linked to the content item and wherein the step of interactively employing includes selecting an individual one of the' plurality of options for each of a multiplicity of users.

Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, at least one characteristic of the personalized sales promotion scenario is determined by at least one characteristic of the toy.

There is thus provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention, a multimedia sales promotion system including a sales promotion content database operative to store sales promotion content, and a sales promotion content controller operative to actuate a plurality of networked sales promotion presentation media including at least one toy to jointly present the sales promotion content to a user.

Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the system also includes a plurality of networked sales promotion presentation media including at least one toy.

Further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the plurality of media includes at least one television media.

Yet further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the television media includes at least one of the following static TV, and interactive TV.

Additionally, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the media includes a computer monitor.

Further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the toy is operative to prompt the user to approach other presentation media. There is thus provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention, a toy system including a sales promotion content database operative to store sales promotion content including a prompt to a user to visit a physical sales facility bearing a physical object which identifies the user, and a plurality of verbal toys each operative to verbally present the prompt to their respective users, a database storing at least one characteristics of each of the plurality of users of the plurality of toys, a user recognizer residing at the physical sales facility, operative to detect presence of the user at the physical sales facility, by detecting and identifying the physical object, and a controller operative to control at least one future interaction with the user, based on output from the user recognizer and the user characteristic database..

Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the physical object includes a coupon. Additionally, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the physical object includes the toy itself.

Further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the controller is operative to select additional sales promotion content for presentation to the user, depending on the at least one characteristics of the user.

Yet further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the toy is also actuated, when in the physical sales facility, to prompt the user to make purchases at the physical sales facility.

Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a method is provided, wherein the personalized sales promotion scenario presented to an individual user depends in part on the user's physical location.

There is thus provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention, a system for sales promotion including at least one interactive toy including bi-directional communication apparatus providing bi-directional communication the interactive toy with a user, a knowledge base regarding the user, wherein the information in the knowledge base is established at least partly via the interactive toy, a sales promotion database storing sales promotion information, a personalized sales promotion scenario builder operative to interactively employ the knowledge base and the sales promotion database to create a personalized sales promotion scenario for the user, and a scenario effector operative to effect the personalized scenario for the user.

Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a system is provided, wherein the interactive toy is a mobile interactive toy and also includes a toy tracker operative to track the mobile toy, thereby to identify, on an ongoing basis, a current location thereof.

Additionally, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the scenario builder is operative to create a personalized sales promotion scenario for an individual user's toy based at least partly on the current location of the individual user's toy.

Further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the method also includes the steps of performing an analysis of sales success and failure patterns over the population of networked interactive toys and employing a result of the analysis in order to create additional personalized sales promotion scenarios for toys within the population. Yet further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the toy is actuated, when in the physical sales facility, to identify the user to the user recognizer.

Still further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a system is provide, wherein the toy is actuated, when in the physical sales facility, to provide entertainment to the user.

There is thus provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention, at least one interactive point-of-sale toy is located within the physical sales facility and wherein the physical toy is actuated, when in the physical sales facility, to interact with the interactive point-of-sale toy.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will be understood and appreciated from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the drawings in which

Figs. 1A-1C is a diagrammatic illustration of a sequence of events incorporating embodiments of this invention in which a user receives an interactive toy, the interactive toy is registered with the interactive toy server, and the toy then becomes interactive with its user;

Fig. 2 is a schematic diagram of one embodiment of an introductory interactive conversation between an interactive toy and its user;

Fig. 3 is one embodiment of a computer registration screen for an interactive toy user's registration to an interactive toy server;

Fig. 4 is a schematic diagram of one embodiment of a two-user and two-toy communication scenario;

Fig. 5 is a flow chart showing a typical establishment of multi-user communication with toys, when a toy "visits" the base computer of another toy;

Fig. 6 is a flow chart of one embodiment of a set-up of an interactive toy server knowledge base, and links to a user interaction database and environment database, and information flow to and from these databases;

Fig. 7 is a schematic diagram of one embodiment of an interactive toy and its wireless communication when away from its base, including cellular communication and location tracking, and its links to Internet and Interactive Toy Server via a cellular server; Fig. 8 is a flow chart showing one embodiment of how information from the user interaction database may be combined with information from a sales promotion database to provide a personalized advertisement to a user;

Fig. 9 is a schematic diagram showing one embodiment of how an interactive toy receives communications to promote sales whilst at a physical sales outlet;

Fig. 10 is a schematic diagram of one embodiment of how sales information is tracked by a toy and an interactive toy server system;

Fig. 11 is a schematic diagram of one embodiment of sales promotion information described in Fig. 10 for a single user may be combined from the information of many users into a multi-user summary for each sales promoter;

Fig. 12 is one embodiment of a report which may be sent by the Interactive Toy Server to a given sales promoter for the purposes of billing;

Fig. 13 is a flow chart of a typical toy user interaction wherein a toy checks user response to story telling by toy, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 14 is a schematic diagram showing one embodiment of how information learned from previous sales promotions may be used to improve future sales promotions;

Fig. 15 is a flow chart showing one embodiment of an interactive toy server users' knowledge database being employed to improve potential sales promotion success on a particular user;

Fig. 16 is a schematic diagram of one embodiment of showing how profiles on a user's friends may be used to enhance effectiveness of sales promotion;

Fig. 17 is a schematic diagram showing one embodiment of how an advertisement on a Television may be synchronized with a user's toy to provide more effective advertising;

Fig. 18 A is a schematic diagram showing one embodiment of how a toy sends a user to the computer screen for a visual presentation of a commercial message;

Fig. 18B is a flow chart of a typical toy-user interaction wherein a toy checks (child) user response to a scenario and toy then promotes items to parents in line with child's response, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 19 describes the main parts of an interactive toy server system, preferably including an interactive toy, a controller, via a radio transceiver, with a home computer, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention; Fig. 20 describes the main entities of an interactive toy system and the main communications between them, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 21 describes a possible implementation of an interactive toy, and its preferable major entities parts, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 22 is a block diagram of an interactive toy controller system wherein a radio base station is connected via a sound board to a computer, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 23 is a block diagram of an interactive toy controller system wherein a radio base station is connected via a computer's serial or parallel ports to a computer, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 24 is a typical user registration screen for a user to register with an interactive toy server, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 25 is a schematic of a typical sales promotion process via an interactive toy system, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 26 is a flowchart of a typical method of personalized sales promotion, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 27 is a schematic flowchart of sales promotion strategy of a marketer/advertiser station, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 28 is a schematic flow chart of a method of analyzing both users' and marketers'/advertisers' information for an interactive toy server, such as that of "Creator", for the purpose of further advertising, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 29 is a flow chart of a typical game of an interactive toy with a user, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 30 is a diagrammatic scheme of one embodiment of the main entities and main communication systems for mobile interactive toys, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 31 is a schematic diagram of the main elements of a mobile toy and its communication links, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention; Fig. 32 shows schematically one embodiment of typical inputs and outputs to an interactive toy, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 33 shows a schematic of the hardware in a typical setup of an interactive toy, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 34 describes some of the many possible ways in which an interactive toy may access information, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 35 describes a typical method by which a networked interactive toy provides items to its user, preferably employing a "pay-per-item" system, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 36 describes a typical method by which a networked interactive toy finds a suitable diet for its user, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 37 describes a typical conversation of a toy and its user. Typically, the toy tries to control the user's eating habits by stopping him from eating food, which is not on his diet, and to encourage him to stay on his diet, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 38 describes typical items, which are available to a toy user via his interactive toy, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 39 presents a typical screen display for user account management, in accordance with a prefen*ed embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 40A shows three independent Child Accounts for music content, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 40B shows a tree-like linking of three vendor specific Child Accounts linked to a master, subject specific, child account, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 40C shows a child account that is linked to three parent accounts, all providing music content, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 41 presents a screen display for managing a parent account, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 42 describes the main elements of a typical system for controlling interactive toys when at home, when at a commercial site, and when roaming, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention; Fig. 43 shows a typical scenario of a toy in a commercial center and its connection to the Internet via a computer system located in a store. The toy server system encourages users to bring their toys to specific locations, in order to obtain discounts, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 44 shows a toy encouraging a user to go to a specific commercial outlet, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 45 shows an example of interactive responsive advertising, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 46 shows how the system uses other users and their toys as part of the sales force, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 47 shows an example of an Artificial Intelligence system used for generating toy responses to user conversation;

Fig. 48 shows an example of a conversation, taking the form of a game, between a user and a toy, which advertises a product, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 49 describes a typical conversation of a toy with a user, in which the toy identifies certain key words employing speech recognition, and uses them to advertise items to the user, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 50 shows an example of the toy introducing a user (child) to a media character in a store to promote further items to the user,' in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 51 shows an example in which a toy advertises a new toothpaste for children in reaction to a conversation between a mother and a child at a dinner, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 52 describes an example of a toy responding to an external situation and advertising a product to a user, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 53 shows an example of a scenario in which a toy may attempt to guess a user's preference, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 54 shows an example of point allocation for different purposes for an interactive toy user, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 55 shows an example of a computer screen used by the gift purchaser, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention; Fig. 56 shows an example of verbal and other interaction with a user, and using an interactive toy server database for a toy to discover the interests of a user and suggests interesting web sites which that user should visit, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 57 shows schematically a possible structure of a database for use with Networked interactive Toys including the location of its various components, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 58 shows several examples of types of events for which information may be sent, after a toy-to-user interaction, to a database on a server, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 59 shows schematically an example of a procedure for handling information, concerning coupons, which has been collected in the course of a relatively short period of time, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 60 describes a typical procedure for updating a record of user information, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 61 describes a typical example of a record of user information, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 62 describes a typical example of a procedure of analyzing user habits, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 63 describes a typical record of an interactive toy life history, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 64 describes a typical example of using a record of toy travels, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 65 describes and example of a database of content providers, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 66 shows a typical example of a commercial database, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 67 shows an example of database input to a security unit, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 68 shows a typical location of a private database, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 69 shows an example of the use of a private database, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention; Fig. 70 shows one typical connection of an interactive toy to a computer connected to the Internet, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 71 shows a situation in which the toy is connected via a wireless link to a home (or office or other) computer with a direct wireless link but that the commands for operation of the computer come either partially or entirely from one or more computers on a network, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 72 shows a basic method of connecting a toy to computers on a network using a standard phone line, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 73 shows a typical setup for RF transmission to and from a toy and connections with typical elements such as RF modulator/demodulator, and analog and digital converter control unit to a serial port of an RF unit, to phone links, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 74 shows a flowchart of a typical sequence of signals following a user activating a toy up to a toy sending a message to a controlling computer, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 75 shows an example of a setup in a shopping mall in which one or more central computer run software to control all toys within the mall, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 76 shows an example of how an onboard "mini computer", an electronic device with a direct wireless link to a toy, as well as one or more computers on a network combine either individually or together to control a toy, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 77A shows part of the general principle behind a method of connecting a toy to a network such as the Internet, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 77B shows another part of the general principle behind a method of connecting a toy to a network such as the Internet, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 78 gives an example of how the cellular connection can be implemented using a standard toy controller for connecting a toy to a local PC, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and Fig. 79 shows an example of how a networked interactive toy is connected to such a "set-top box" by providing an RF link between a toy and a set-top box within RF range of the toy, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy interacts with one or more users. In another preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy establishes bi-directional communication with a user. This is exemplified in Figs. la, lb and lc.

Fig. 1A shows a user 10, in this case a child, receiving an interactive toy 20 as a gift. The box 30 shown includes a toy 20 with a fanciful figure known to be attractive to children of the user's age, as well as another box 40 including hardware and software needed to operate the toy as an interactive toy. The figure shows the excitement expressed by the user upon receiving the toy. The toy is attractive and exciting to the user even before its interactivity is made operable i.e. even before it is connected to a computer and turned on.

Fig. IB shows the child's parent 50 activating the toy. The parent has already connected the base unit 60 to the computer 70. Having completed installation of required software using the CD 80 the parent is now registering the toy with a central server using an Internet connection 90. While the parent is installing the toy, the child 10 is sitting on the floor playing with the toy 20 even though it is not yet active.

Fig. 1C shows the situation after registration is complete and the toy is functional. In this example the toy 20 is in wireless contact with the base unit 60 and thus with the user's computer and thus with all computers on the Internet. The software loaded in Fig. lb by the parent now controls the toy and allows it to communicate with the child 10. In this figure the child 10 is hugging the toy 20. The toy senses that it is being hugged and, in this example, it responds to the hug by saying "Hi! I'm a Murphy! That hug feels so good after being in that box for so long!" The toy is thus giving the user the impression that it has humanlike feelings, that it appreciates hugs and that it was lonely all by itself in the box.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy, develops bi-directional communication with a user, and tries to evoke an emotional response from a user thus giving the impression that an emotional relationship is formed between user and toy. This is exemplified in Fig. 2.

Fig. 2 describes a script which runs, in this example, on the user's local computer, and which is designed to introduce the toy to the user and to give the impression that the toy has humanlike feelings. In yet another preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy establishes a knowledge base regarding a user. This information may be passed from a user, preferably via an interactive toy, to an interactive toy server in at least one of the following forms: - verbal, audio, electronic, paper, and the like. A user may choose to provide information to a toy server via conversations with an interactive toy, via a home computer, telephone, or the like. A user may provide personal information for registration with an interactive toy server. A user may be asked if user is willing to provide more detailed information which is possibly more personal that the basic registration information. This is exemplified in Fig. 3. which portrays an example of a user registration screen requesting detailed personal information. A user is asked for information concerning relatives and other users. Such information may include, but is not limited to, personal details and preferences, social status, consumer information, and the like.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy employs a knowledge base regarding a user and receives information from one or more sales promotion databases to create a personalized sales promotion scenario for a user. Sales promotion may include sales of products and services, points and credits systems, prizes or other incentives for involving interactive toys in sales scenarios, and the like. This is exemplified in Example I.

Example I. An interactive toy initiates an interaction and dialog with a user as follows:

Toy: We're going to be best friends! I'll show you lots of tricks and teach you lots of new things and we'll have lots of fun together!

Toy: What's your favorite food, Peter?

Child: I really love hamburgers.

Toy identifies words "love" and "hamburger" in same sentence. Toy (via computer via Interactive Toy Server) checks database of sales promotion for hamburgers and finds a promotion for Burger Boy located not far from user's home. Server downloads promotion script to user's computer.

Toy: Don't you love the burgers at Burger Boy?

Child: Wow! Those burgers are great!

Toy identifies the phrase "those burgers are great" Toy: Next time you go to Burger Boy take me with you and you'll get a special prize! But don't forget to show me to the cashier at Burger Boy! Child: That's great!

Example I also shows how "communication" between toy and user helps to build a relationship between toy and user. In Example I the sales promotion scenario offers a prize to user for bringing toy to a physical store. It is also an example of how the choice of product to promote depends on previous interaction between user and toy. Speech recognition is used, in this example, as a part of the interactive process between user and toy.

Appropriate commercially available software for speech recognition is available from companies include, but are not limited to, Via Voice and Voice Dictation by IBM; Naturally Speaking by Dragon Systems, L&H Voice Xpress by Lernout & Hauspie, and Conversa by Conversa.

Typical sources of techniques and applications of Speech Recognition are provided below and are incorporated herein by reference.

1) Speech and Language Processing: An Introduction to Natural Language Processing, Computational Linguistics and Speech Recognition by Dan Jurafsky, James H. Martin, Nigel Ward and Daniel Jurafsky; Published by Prentice Hall, January 2000.

2) Fundamentals of Speech Recognition by Lawrence Rabiner, Biing-Hwang Juang, Bilng-Hwang Juang; Published by Prentice Hall, April 1993.

3) The Dragon Naturally Speaking Guide: Speech Recognition made Fast and Simple by Dan Newman &, James Baker; Published by Waveside Pub, September 1999.

4) How to Build a Speech Recognition Application by Bruce Balentine, David P. Morgan and William S. Meisel; Published by Enterprise Integration Group, April 1999.

5) Computer Speech: Recognition, Compression, Synthesis; by Manfred R. Schroeder; Springer Series in Information Sciences, 35; Published by Springer Verlag, May 1999

6) Electronic Speech Recognition: Techniques, Technology & Applications; Geoff Bristow (Editor); McGraw Hill 1986;

It should be noted further, that definitions of expressions such as "toy does" "toy searches" "toy queries" actually may mean that a computer program on the toy controlling computer or equipment does these things. The computer may or may not be on-board the toy, and may even be remote relative to the toy.

The word toy encompasses toys for adults, or animals, and is not limited to children's toys. Furthermore, toys may be any object used for a person's amusement, and may not have the outer appearance or construction of classical toys.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, bi-directional communication includes speech recognition. An interactive toy server may employ speech recognition and parsing of user communications This idea is illustrated in Example II.

Example II. The toy in this example is a pretty doll.

Toy senses no activity for an extended period of time.

Toy: "I'm lonely! Let's go to the park together!"

Child: "I'll ask mom!"

Toy, via toy controlling server parses phrase "I'll ask mom" as a possible expected reply and waits for further comment from child. Child: "Mom's too busy!" Toy does not manage to parse the phrase. Toy: Does that mean we can go or we can't go! Child: No we can't go! Toy recognized "no".

Toy: Too bad! but let's play a game instead! Toy suggests a favorite game to play with child.

Example II is a further example of how interaction between toy and helps to build a relationship between them. In Example II toy helps user to solve a problem and indicates its desire to spend time with user. It thus acts as user's friend. It also shows an example of how toy behaves if it cannot parse a response of a user.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy develops bi-directional communication, which preferably comprises at least on of the following types of communication:- visual, tactile, kinetic, olfactory, audio, emotional, and positional. An example of the development of such bi-directional communication is portrayed henceforth:-

The toy is a pretty doll with long hair. A user plays with the doll's hair as is sensed by several partly insulated wires in hair which create electrical noise when touched. This idea is illustrated in Example III. Example III.

Toy: Ah! That feels good! What color is YOUR hair?

(Note: At this stage toy is trying to collect information for future use.)

Child: I dunno!

Toy identifies expression "dunno"

Toy: Ask your mom!

(Note: At this stage toy is giving advice - and helping!)

Child returns after a short while.

Child: Brown!

Toy: You have brown Hair?

Child: Yes!

Toy recognizes response.

Toy: Is your hair long?

Child: Yes.

Toy: I bet you look great when your hair is in a pony tail!

(Note: this step leads to development of friendship)

Child: I guess.

In the example above, not only is a communication line established, but the toy also subtly collects information concerning a user in order to build a database concerning that particular user. The toy further gives its user advice, and compliments its user. These modes of toy behavior enhance the development of a friendship between a toy and its user.

The above example also shows use of a confirmation request question to handle a situation in which toy does not understand user response.

Fig. 4 shows a child 10 with his toy 20 which, in this example is an "action toy" representing a powerful figure, visiting the home of another child 510 with his toy 520 which, in this example, is a cute, cuddly Teddy Bear. Each of the toys 20 and 520 is, in this example, in wireless contact with base unit 560 which is connected to the computer belonging to the user 510. The computer is further connected to the Internet via the connection 590. The children 10 and 510 are portrayed, in this example, to be friends who are playing with each other. Meanwhile their toys 20 and 520 sense each other's presence and act as if they are friends as well. The "action toy" 520 retrieves the name of the toy (in this case "Tedd") 20 from the Interactive Toy Server via the Internet connection 590 and then says "Hi Tedd!". The toy 20 responds by saying to the "action toy": "Wow! you're so strong!". The figure shows the excitement of the children realizing that their toys are communicating saying "Hey look! our toys really like each other".

Fig. 5 is a flow chart showing how multi-user communication is established when a toy "visits" the base computer of another toy. The computer occasionally sends an RF signal to its environment which identifies itself to any toy in its vicinity. A visiting toy, having detected such an RF signal, sends an acknowledgement with its unique identification code to the computer. The computer then establishes an Internet connection with the Interactive Toy Server, which has a database of all registered toys. The Server, after checking security authorization, downloads, to the computer, all basic information about the visiting toy together with scripts specially written for communication between toys. The server chooses such scripts based on the profiles (e.g. age, gender, interests) of each user and the characteristics (e.g. action toy vs. doll vs. stuffed animal) of each user's toy.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a toy requests yes/no confirmation to validate recognition of words, phrases and sentences spoken by a user and recognized by the toy's speech recognition system.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a toy tries to guess the meaning of a word, which is not recognized by its speech recognition system. A toy may ask a user questions concerning the word. These may take the form of a game.

In yet another preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy uses information from a conversation to develop relationship. Such information is stored in an interaction database. This may include examples of finding likes/dislikes (in this case likes) of a user and using them to enhance a relationship, a toy and user doing things together to aid bonding between them. This preferably leads to a toy promoting sales, and consequently to creating a personalized scenario for a user, which is operative for conditioning of a user.

An example of a scenario of sales promotion via an interactive toy utilizing and interaction database, which leads to user conditioning is described below in Example IV.

Example IV

Day l

Toy asks child: What's your favorite show?

Child: Teletubbies ™.

Toy (via computer & information from server) parses and recognizes response as a TV program. Toy finds sales promotion material for Sesame St. ™. (TV program) in its sales promotion database. It checks and confirms appropriateness for child's age.

Toy: What about Sesame Street™?

Child: No! I like Teletubbies™!

Toy recognizes the words "no" and the phrase "I like Teletubbies™".

Toy updates user information database with the fact that this user prefers the TV program "Teletubbies™" over "Sesame St™." Toy further checks its TV program database and finds that Teletubbies™ is on TV on Day 2 at 4 PM.

Day 2 3:45 PM

Toy: Hey! Teletubbies™ is on in 15 minutes. Let's watch it together.

At this point toy sings the theme of the Teletubbies™ TV program and makes body or face motions which remind user of Teletubbies™. Child: OK. Toy reminds child again at 4:00 PM and they watch the program together.

Day 3 3.45 PM

Child: Toy -don't you want to watch Teletubbies™ with me today?

Toy: Of course, I do. If I forget, then remind me, OK! Day 4 3.25 PM C Chhiilldd:: HHeeyy tt<oy, I can't wait to watch Teletubbies™. Toy: Thanks for reminding me!

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, a toy gathers information concerning the environment of a user. This information may arise from at least one of the following communications visual, audio, sensory, and bi-directional communication. For example, a toy may promote sales of ice cream during the summer. It may receive information about local ambient temperature from a heat/temperature sensor, from local news broadcasts, from its user directly, or the like.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention an interactive toy acts as a friend of a user. This friendship may preferably be used to increase effectiveness of sales promotion. This idea is illustrated in Example V.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention an interactive toy enters a conversation between a user and user's friend. Toy may use such an opportunity to promote sales. This idea is also illustrated in Example V. Example V: A user and his friend are discussing a baseball game in the presence of an interactive toy. The toy hears the word " baseball, and says "Hey, I like baseball too!" The user and his friend are exited that the toy has entered the conversation. After giving some rare baseball statistics to the users the toy finally says "But one thing is for sure! The only good baseball gloves are made by "Wilson". If a user responds positively (e.g. "yeh, I really need a new glove!". The toy offers its user a discount on Internet purchase of a glove.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy enables a user to obtain items that the user wants. This is preferably employing highly targeted advertising based on knowledge from a user knowledge base including, but not limited to, details of a user's age, ethnic group, location, interests, and the like. The knowledge from a user knowledge base is preferably combined with inputs from a sales promotion base to provide a personalized sales promotion scenario. This idea is illustrated in Example VI. Example VI:

Child: I'm bored!

Toy recognizes the phrase "I'm bored" and responds

Toy: Let's do a puzzle! I'll try to help you!

Child: I'm bored of all my puzzles!

Toy recognizes the words "bored of and "puzzles but requires confirmation

Toy: Are you bored of ALL your puzzles?

Child: yes!

Toy recognizes the word "yes". Toy realizes it's close to Christmas and downloads a sales and relationship development script appropriate to the situation:

Toy: Would you like a new puzzle for Christmas?

Child: Sure!

Toy recognizes the word "sure".

Toy: Do you want me to tell Santa?

Child: Yeh!

Toy sends email to parents of child (as if they were Santa). The email informs parents of child's desire for a new puzzle, offers parents a discount on a new puzzle at a local store (by offering to print a discount coupon on the local computer's printer and offers suggestions for puzzles appropriate to child's age.

Follow-up: Puzzle arrives at Christmas

Child: Thank you toy for telling Santa about the puzzle I wanted!

In the above example toy helps user acquire items which user needs as well as helping user find an activity when user is bored. This is especially useful for children who often complain about being bored. A computer controlled toy can help such children (of even a bored adult) find an appropriate activity.

Fig. 6 shows examples of the type of information which a user's toy is able to collect and which the user's computer and the Interactive Toy Server can then place in a user knowledge base. In a preferred embodiment of this invention a user's information database is located on the Interactive Toy Server. In another preferred embodiment of this invention some or all of a user's information may be kept on user's computer. Reference is now made to Fig. 13 in which is showman example of a feedback question in which a user is asked whether he enjoyed a particular story. Such feedback questions provide an example of a means by which user participation and enjoyment can be determined for entry into an information database.

Other methods of developing a sales promotion database are exemplified below. In these examples a toy wants to find out some of the user's favorite foods. This may be performed in one of many ways, including, direct conversation with user, indirect conversation with user, via a computer, via emails or hard copy letters sent to a user, and the like. This idea is illustrated in Example VII.

Example VII: Method 1: Registration/on screen question

(It is appreciated that if user is a small child then parents or older friends would aid user in filling out onscreen questions.) Onscreen questions: What is your favorite food? Do you like hamburgers? If you like hamburgers do you like to eat them with fries?

Method 2: Direct Script

Toy: What is your favorite food?

Child: Hamburger.

Toy recognizes the word "hamburger".

Toy: If I could eat real food I'd like hamburgers too! Do you like fries with your

Burgers? Child: Yeh! I sure do!

Method 3: Indirect subtle script

Toy: What did you eat for supper tonight?

Child: Hamburger.

Toy recognizes the word "hamburger".

Toy: Wow, I wish I could eat hamburgers! Did you have fries with your Burgers?

Child: Yeh! We did!

Toy recognizes "Yeh".

Toy: Did you eat your fries? Child: No, not really!

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy may extend its sale promotion to other potential interactive toy users. This may involve speech recognition, which may reveal when a non-user is within the immediate environment of an interactive toy. This idea is illustrated in Example VIII. Example VIII: Toy: I hear a second voice besides yours. Do you have a friend visiting? User: Yes!

Toy: What's your friend's name? User: Susie. Toy: How old is Susie? User: 10.

Toy: Oh! So your friend Susie is 10 years old? (This is a request for confirmation to partly compensate for some speech recognition errors.) User: Yes.

Toy: Does Susie have a living toy like me? User: No.

Toy: Too Bad! Does Susie want to get to know me better? At this point if user responds affirmatively the toy begins processing a script which attempts to learn more about Susie from Susie directly or from the original user. Toy may also further promote sales of Interactive toys.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy inputs information to a user knowledge base for use in sales promotion. This information may be logged, filtered, categorized, stored, or deleted. The information may be retrieved at a later date for further sales promotion. The old information may be used to obtain further information from a user. This idea is illustrated in Example IX.

Example IX:

Toy uses information from user database obtained at registration, for example, to determine that it is the user's Birthday. ' Toy: Happy Birthday! Toy sings "Happy Birthday" song with motions of its body to show excitement. Toy: When is your Birthday Party! Don't forget to invite me! Child: On Wednesday!

Toy recognizes the word "Wednesday" but seeks confirmation. Toy: Did you say Wednesday? Child: Yes!

Toy waits until Thursday. Toy: Did you have a party yesterday? Child: Yes!

Toy: What did you get for your birthday? Child: A paint set, a toy car, a red calendar and a new puzzle. Toy recognizes the phrases "paint set", "toy car", "puzzle". Toy fails to recognize the Expression "red calendar" and chooses to ignore this gift.

Toy: Did you like your paint set? Child: Yes.

Toy: What about the toy car? Child: It's OK. Toy: Do you like puzzles? Child: Not really.

Toy then enters "paint set" into the list of child's likes and "puzzles" into the list of dislikes and "toy car" into list of neutral objects.

The above shows by example how objects may be categorized in a database. It also shows toy acting as friend by asking to be invited to a party. It further shows toy using previous knowledge to learn new information and the entry of the newly acquired information into user's knowledge database.

Fig. 7 is a part pictorial and part block diagram representation of a family, in this case a parent, a child 540 and the child's toy 550, visiting a well-known site such as the World Trade Center in New York City. In the example shown toy is equipped with cellular communication capability which establish wireless connection between the toy and a nearby cellular phone antenna. The cellular antenna is connected, in this example, to a digital cellular telephone system (such as the WAP system) operative to connect the toy to the Internet via a Cellular Phone Server. Control signals for the toy are, in this example, sent from the Interactive Toy Server to the toy via the Internet and the cellular phone system. In the present example the Cellular Phone Server utilizes the Cellular Phone Network to identify the location of the toy. This location is provided to the Interactive Toy Server via an Internet connection. The server, if authorized to do so, makes an entry into user's information database stating that at a given time on a given day the user visited the World Trade Center and spent a given amount of time there. This provides a method for automatically obtaining information about user's habits such as places which user has visited.

An further example of information retrieval from a knowledge database for the purpose of further sales promotion is described below. This idea is illustrated in Example X.

Example X:

Adult user is interested in a story.

Toy (via control program on computer) checks user database and determines that user is a male accountant aged 50. Toy queries sales promotion database and finds a story expected to be of interest which contains embedded advertising for the New York Times. Toy queries user database and determines that user reads newspapers but is not subscribed to New York Times. Toy chooses this story. Toy: Tells story in which the protagonist reads the newspaper several times during the story and each time the story emphasizes that the newspaper being read is the New York Times.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, an environment database may be utilized together with a sales promotion database to design a sales promotion scenario. This may be customized to suit a specific user. Thus, the same item preferably has different a sales promotion scenarios for different users. Below appears an example of how the same product is marketed to two different users in a different manner depending, in this case, on the characteristics of the user's toy. This has the advantage of minimizing superfluous advertising and making the advertising experience more palatable to user and thus making user more receptive to the advertising. This idea is illustrated in Example XL

Example XI:

A controlling program on computer receives signal from toy that it's batteries are low. A "low battery" program or script is run which first checks the sales promotion database on the Interactive Toy Server and finds a promotion on Synergizer batteries and a "low battery promotion script" for the batteries. Following is a simplified version of such a script-

Check user environment database for category of toy:

Case A. Toy is an "action toy".

Toy: Hey! I'm low on batteries! Do something!

Toy waits for response. If none received it repeats statement above at 5 minute intervals. Upon receiving any response it says - while raising its arms in a show of strength: Toy: Buy me some Synergizer batteries! Synergizer batteries will make me very powerful!

Case B. Toy is a "pretty doll".

Toy: I'm low on batteries! Please help me!

Toy waits for response. If none received it repeats statement above at 5 minute intervals. Upon receiving any response it says - while fluttering its eyelids: Toy: If you buy me Synergizer batteries I'll feel much better and my hair will look much nicer!

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a user is conditioned to be amenable to a personalized sales promotion scenario. For example, a child who often plays with a particular toy is conditioned to respond favorably to a personalized sales promotion scenario. This leads to certain types of items preferably being promoted by certain types of toys to certain types of user. This idea is illustrated in Example XII.

Example XII:

Example Dialog A: Toy is a pretty doll. Child is dressing her doll, which has sensors on it which sense that doll is being dressed. As an example such a sensor may be snaps on toy's clothes which snap into toy and thus make an electrical connection which is sensed by a control unit inside the toy.

Toy senses that it is being dressed.

Toy: Wow I really love this dress. It's very pretty! Thanks for putting it on me!

Child: You look great!

Toy, in response to any user statement: I bet you like pretty dresses too!

Child: Yes!

Toy recognizes the word "yes".

Toy: Tell your mother to check her email - I'll show her where she can buy you some very cute dresses just like mine! Child: Wow! Toy recognizes the word "wow" and sends email to parent (email address from user database) including name of the store and a discount coupon. Toy: Make sure your mother takes you with her to the store and don't forget to bring me along! I want to be the first to see your new dress on you!

Example Dialog B: Toy is an action toy.

Child is actively playing with toy as if it was motorized - making motor sounds. Toy identifies buzzing sounds as possibly motorized sounds.

Toy: I bet you really like motorized toys!

Child: Sure!

Toy recognizes the word "sure".

Toy: Would you like a motorized lego™ set?

User: Sure! What land?

Toy: Come to the computer screen and I'll show you.

Toy, after checking that no one else is using the computer monitor, Arranges for download of specific demo of lego™ product from sales promotion database and presents it on screen to user. Toy: Do you like that? User: Yeh! Toy: OK, if you go to the store "Toys and You" you can get it for a really good price! Just take the coupon, which I'm printing for you on your printer! Toy controlling program prints a coupon as downloaded from sales promotion Data-base and sends confirmation to sales promoter that coupon has been Issued. Coupon may contain a bar code or other identification identifying the specific toy and user and the sales promotion during which coupon was presented.

The above shows an example of how a single sales promotion script promotes a different product to different toys (unlike a previous example in which the same product was promoted via a different message). It also shows how a user may be encouraged to visit a store by being offered a discount coupon printed on the computer. It further shows that instead of having the child handle the purchase, an email (or other form of communication) may be sent to a child's parent (or any user's gift giver) indicating that child is interested in a given product and that a discount may be available.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, information from a user interaction database may be combined with information from a sales promotion database to advertise a product to a user. This is exemplified in Fig. 8. A toy begins by checking user's interaction database and determines that child user likes fairy tales. Toy checks sales promotion database and finds a fairy tale which tells a story of a chocolate house and contains within it embedded advertising for Hermies brand of chocolate. Before presenting the story with its embedded advertisement, toy again checks the user interaction database and determines that the child likes chocolate and is permitted, by parents, to buy chocolate. The chosen fairy tale (which is actually an interactive script which accepts user input and is modified according to such input) tells a story of a girl visiting this chocolate house. The color of the girl's hair is deteπnined by the color of hair of the child if known (and a default color - blonde, for example, - if child's hair color is unknown. As the toy (who is playing the role of the protagonist in the story) describes in detail the various kinds of Hermies chocolates found in the house, the child may respond by saying "Yummy!" or some other expression expressing its love of chocolate. At this point the toy may or may not (depending on the wishes of the script writer) take a break from telling the story and discuss how child can acquire more Hermies chocolate at a discount.

Fig. 8 thus also shows how advertising need not be overt but may be embedded in stories. Such advertising is quite common in Television and Movies in which products with brand names are featured. The brand names are promoted simply by being present in the movie or in the show. Such advertising is generally more acceptable than direct advertising especially to children. In the example shown a user's response directs the toy away from purely embedded advertising and begins more active promotion of the product. Thus the chocolate is only advertised aggressively to a user who indicates his wish to have- the product. This prevents much unnecessary advertising from reaching consumers who are disinterested in it.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, a sales promotion scenario leads to billing a sales promoter. This billing is preferably a function of user interaction with the scenario. This is exemplified below. This shows how a toy is employed to attract a user to visit a web site which may either be a web site belonging to the sales promoter or to some other organization with which the sales promoter has a suitable business arrangement. (It is appreciated that "sending to a web site" may also be useful for purely entertainment and educational value in which case the toy helps its user by finding web sites of entertainment or educational interest.) Such web sites may contain more advertising as well as opportunity to sell more products to user.

The example begins with a simple script in which toy uses its relationship with user to attract user to the web site of a major theme park "Misney Land". The toy establishes the internet connection with the 8isney web site and opens an appropriate web page at the site using, in this example, standard HTTP requests. Misney web site includes, besides entertainment and information, many promotions for products including for example sales banners and methods for purchasing items. In the current example the user makes no purchases at the web site and Misney is charged a fee based on the number of advertising banners seen by the user during his visit to the web site.

It is appreciated that in the current example there is an entry in the Sales Promotion database indicating that Misney is willing to pay a fee for users being sent to its web site and that there is an agreement between Misney Inc. and operators of the Interactive Toy Server to this effect.

This example also shows how entertainment on the computer screen may be coordinated with entertainment by a toy. In this example the multimedia file run on the Misney server would be managed by a program run on the Misney computer which is operative to send coordinating messages to the toy controlling program on the user's computer which synchronizes the motions of the toy with the computer monitor.

This idea is illustrated in Example XIII.

Example XIII:

"Misney" is a major theme park with famous character "Ronald Goose". Knowledge base of users is checked to determine that children of user's age, gender and socio-economic status enjoy the character "Ronald Goose".

[N.B. that the following is simply an example interaction. A full script contains cases when both opposite responses are give by user, other alternate responses are given, and a default action when no response is given or response is not recognized.]

Toy: Hey Billy, would you like to go visit Ronald Goose!

Child: Sure!

Toy checks that no other family member is using the home computer.

Toy establishes connection with Misney Web Site and requests a web page containing an audio/video presentation featuring Ronald Goose. In the header of the request for the HTML page from Misney are included parameters identifying the request as coming from an interactive toy as well as the toy's unique identification code. (Other parameters may be sent as well.) The requested Misney web page, according to its agreement with the Interactive Toy Server runs a program whose purpose is to parse the parameters which are sent in the HTML page and thus to make an entry into a database on its computer that a toy with those specific parameters visited the web site. All further activities in the current session with the Misney server will be logged as coming from an Interactive Toy with the given identification. The logging of all activities by visitors to a web site is standard practice. Meanwhile the user's computer also keeps track of all activities at the site. This information is all stored in the sales promotion database and is used for later billing to Misney for activities at their web site. Toy: So come to the computer for a surprise!

Child arrives at computer to find the aforementioned audio/video presentation. Child: Wow! Toy: Isn't that great! Now just have fun hearing all about Ronald Goose's new

Adventures. Toy sings along with Ronald Goose. Toy: Look what Ronald is going to do now! Ronald then jumps high in the air! Child: Wow! How did you know he was going to do that? Toy fails to identify user's sentence but identifies the word "Wow!" Toy: Isn't this fun! Child: Sure! Toy (via controlling program on computer) makes an entry into the user knowledge base that the user enjoyed the interaction with Ronald Goose. Child now spends 30 minutes at the web site and sees 20 advertisements but decides not to purchase anything. Toy makes sends message to Interactive Toy Server to make an entry into the sales promotion database detailing the interaction with the Misney server. Information about ads seen and purchases made are also entered into database fields used to determine effectiveness of specific ads. This information is further entered into a database which is later used to prepare a billing report to Misney.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a personalized sales promotion scenario bills a sales promoter including an amount which is a function of user interaction with that scenario.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy sends a user to a physical sales outlet (store). This is exemplified in the example below. In this case a child is sent by a toy to a store. In this example the child is encouraged to bring his toy to the store. This has two advantages. The first is that the toy is visible to other people in the store and encourages them to buy such a toy - especially if they see that the toy has allowed the child to receive a discount. The second advantage is that by bringing his toy to a store a user allows an interactive toy server to track sales. This example also shows how advertising may be targeted to the location of a user, i.e. how a toy knows the location of a user and targets advertising accordingly. This idea is illustrated in Example XIV.

Example XIV:

Child user is in a car with his parent who is driving on an inter-city highway.

Child: I'm Hungry!

Toy identifies the phrase "I'm hungry" .

Toy uses services of cellular phone provider to identify the location of user and the direction of travel. Toy queries sales promotion database for restaurants which are located nearby the user and in the direction the user is traveling. Toy: There is a "Burger Boy" restaurant just 2 minutes ahead!

Scenario A

Child: But I'm in the mood for Pizza!

Toy identifies the word "Pizza" checks database for Pizza restaurants

Toy: There is a Mr. Pizza just 5 minutes ahead.

Child: But I like "Pizza Me"!

Toy identifies "Pizza Me" as a branded Pizza chain for which a sales promotion exists in its sales promotion database. Toy: There is a "Pizza Me" ahead but you'll have to wait an hour to get there! But if you wait and bring me into the store you get 20% off! Child informs parent and agrees to go to "Pizza Me". The Pizza Me store does not have facilities for communicating with Interactive

Toys but is aware of the 20% discount offer. Store proprietor scans or reads code from back of toy and enters it into his computer. Toy server enters information regarding sale into its database for later billing the store or the advertising agent.

Scenario B

Child: Yuk! I only like Burger Queen! Toy identifies the phrase "Burger Queen!". No promotion for Burger Queen exists in database.

Toy "But Burger Boy is best! Have you tried their nuggets?"

Child "No"

Toy: OK ask your parent to stop at Burger Boy and you'll get a free order of fries with your nuggets. But remember to bring me along.

At Burger Boy there is a "point of sale" interactive toy in the form of a talking Burger. This situation is shown pictorially in Fig. 9 and is described in more detail following this example. A computer in the store recognizes and is operative to interact with the visiting toy. The Interactive Toy Server has sent a message to the toy controlling program at the store with information regarding the expected visiting toy and child. When child arrives with his toy the toy begins interacting with store's computer which then knows that the particular child who was offered the free fries has come into the store.

Burger Toy: Welcome to the store! Are you going to order those nuggets!

Child's Toy: And don't forget! You get a free order of fries!

Child orders nuggets. Discount is managed by store's computer which is operative to allow linkage between its sales and billing software and the toy control software.

Toy server enters information regarding sale into its database for later billing the store or the advertising agent.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a user is using a mobile toy. Fig. 9 shows this situation pictorially.

The toy, in this example, comprises a toy controller and an RF transceiver operative to connect to the Internet via a commercial cellular phone network. Software for controlling the toy is run on any computer on a network (the Internet, for example) possibly the user's home computer or on the Interactive Toy Server. Fig. 9 shows pictorially a child in a Burger Boy restaurant. The restaurant has a point-of-sale talldng burger 670.

The toy is passively listening for keywords and hears the child say that he is hungry. The toy makes a suggestion for a restaurant and then, depending on whether the suggestion was accepted or rejected it either directs the user to the suggested store or it suggests alternatives. In either case the toy offers incentives for the child to bring toy into store. If the store's computer does not have Interactive Toy controlling capabilities then any incentive such as free products or discount is achieved by other means such as, in this example, by scanning or reading a toy identification code off the body of the toy. If the store computer does have the capability to control the interactive toy then, upon recognizing the presence of the toy, sends a message via the network to the toy's controlling computer, to allow it to control the toy temporarily. In the current example the store's computer also controls another toy which is a talking burger. This "point of sale" toy helps make the sale by entertaining the user in a manner coordinated with his own toy. When the user's toy leaves the store it senses that the store's computer is no longer within range and it re-establishes its connection with the cellular system. It is appreciated that a point of sale toy may also interact with users who do not have their own toys. It thus acts as part of the sales force in the store. Thus, for example, a well known hamburger chain with a famous mascot (such as Ronald Macdonald for the chain Macdonald'sR) with the Living Object technology described in this and previous patents. Customers entering the store would be entertained by this mascot which would also help advise and advertise on products and promotions.

The following example shows how an interactive toy may be used to send a user to a major theme park. In the current example the theme park is again called Misney and the user's toy is in the figure of Ronald Goose which is, in this example, a well known character featured at the Misney theme park. In this example the scenario begins a week before the user's birthday.

This example also shows how parents may be called to help make decisions regarding purchases and to help with the actual sales and purchases.

It is appreciated that using voice recognition technology it is possible to confirm credit card purchase using voice acknowledgement rather than requiring parent to come to the computer screen for confirmation. Confirmation on the computer screen may require entry of a secret identification code to avoid fraudulent purchases.

In this example, two payment scenarios are presented. In the first instance user pays online with credit card and is given a voucher to take to the theme park. In the second instance the user takes his toy to the theme park where the park operators either read a code off the toy's body or where the park has Interactive Toy technology which is operative to control both their toys as well as user's toy. This then allows user to interact directly with his toy as well as with other toys at the theme park in a manner in which the theme park toys and the user's toy are aware of each other's activities via an Interactive Toy controlling computer possibly located at the theme park. There are other possible forms of payment including the printing of a coupon by the user's home computer which may be brought, without the toy, to the theme park in order to receive a discount.

This idea is illustrated in Example XV.

Example XV:

Toy obtains from user database that user's birthday is in a week. Toy queries sales promotion database for appropriate gifts and finds a suitable sales promotion for Misney World. Toy obtains from the user knowledge database the fact that child lives within a reasonable drive from Misney World and that his family income is such that his parents can afford to go there for a visit and that gifts of similar value have been given to the child for his birthday in the past.

Toy is in the figure of "Ronald Goose"

Ronald begins to sing "Happy Birthday" and says: Hey Billy, don't you have a Birthday in a week!

Child: Yes.

Ronald: You'll be six years old, right!

Child: Yes.

Ronald: Have you ever been to Misney World?

Child: No.

Ronald: Would you like to go there with your family for your Birthday?

Child: Sure!

Ronald: Now go call one of your parents and give me a big hug when you get back and I'll tell them about a very special deal at Misney World just for them!

Child goes to parent - excited - and says to parent: "Hey mom, Ronald invited all of us to Misney World for my Birthday! Can we go!"

Parent: It's pretty expensive!

Child: But Ronald says he has a special deal for us. Come and listen!

Child returns with parent to Ronald and gives Ronald a hug. Ronald senses the hug using a contact sensor in his mid body which makes an electrical contact when squeezed. Ronald interprets this as the return of child with parent. Ronald: If you take Billy to Misney World for his Birthday it will only cost you

$20. per ticket. That's half the regular price! Parent: Great! Ronald: Should I order you five tickets directly, charge your credit card and print you a voucher to take to Misney World?

Parent: Yes!

Toy controlling program manages credit card transaction with user credit card number stored in user knowledge database. Ronald: Just go to your screen and you'll see a request for confirmation to charge five tickets to your credit card account for a total of $100. Parent goes to screen, enters her identification code and authorizes purchase.

Vouchers are printed on a printer attached to the computer. Misney is informed of details of transaction and they are paid - less any commissions.

Parent: No! I'd like to pay when we get there.

Toy identifies "No" and suggests:

Toy: Would you like to pay when you get there?

Parent: Yes.

Toy: So make sure you bring me to Misney World. If you bring me they will give you your discount and also you will be able to play with me and all the other Living Toys at Misney!

Fig. 10 and Fig. 11 show how sales information is tracked by a toy and the Toy Server system for two promoters named Promoter A and Promoter B. A functional sketch of a database is shown in which an entry is made for each user. In this figure a portion of the database corresponding to a single user labeled User 1 is shown. The entry of each user is divided into sales promotion data from various promoters labeled Promoter A, Promoter B etc. Each promoter has possibly presented to the user one of many ads labeled Ad 1 A, Ad 2A,... for promoter A and Ad IB, Ad 2B .. for promoter B etc. Each such advertisement or sales promotion is detailed in a record in the aforementioned database. The details which are actually kept in such a record may differ from application to application. They may include the full details of all scripts or simply a code indicating which style of ad was presented, whether user was sent to a store or web site, whether coupon was printed etc.. The record will, in general contain information such as the precise time of the ad, the nature of the user's response and data regarding effectiveness of said ad e.g. whether user went to the store or web site, whether user purchased any items, if so how many items, whether toy was brought to store, whether any other items were purchased, whether this visit to store resulted in future visits to store and resulting purchases.

The summary report serves many purposes including providing billing information to each sale promoter and providing information on results and effectiveness of various forms of advertising. User information may thus be included in report to promoter as a key element in such a report so that advertising effectiveness can be tied to specific information about user as discussed in detail in many parts of this patent. Total invoice may also include a detailed report of detailed charges for each advertisement and for each part of each advertisement. Reporting is further described in Fig. 11 and Example XVI

Fig. 12 shows a sketch of how the sales promotion information described in Fig. 10 and Fig. 11 for a single user may be combined from the information of many users into a multi-user summary for each promoter. Such a summary may serve both advertising and billing needs.

Example XII is a simplified sample of a report, which may be sent by the Interactive Toy Server to a given sales promoter. In this example the amount billed to a sales promoter is a function of a user's interaction with a sales promotion scenario e.g. how many times a promotional item was presented to user, how many times user responded positively to the item, whether user bought the item, whether user brought his toy to a physical store, whether a user visited a participating web site etc. It is appreciated that the cost per occurrence may also depend on other factors including, for example, the nature of the advertisement, the user and advertiser's geographical location, the means by which user's toy is connected to Interactive Toy Server. Thus, for example, a different fee may be charged if user is connected via a local computer than via an Interactive Television set-top box or via a cable modem or via a direct home internet connection as provided by many telecommunication companies worldwide or via a cellular phone connection or via a satellite connection or by any combination of these or any other means. Example XII:

January 1- January 31 2001

Item Number Cost per Total Cost of occurrence occurrenc es of item

Advert 1 Presented to user Positive responses to advertisement User went to store Brought toy to store User went to web site

Pages visited by user at web 2 3.0 6.00 site

Ads seen at web site

Items bought at web site 0

Coupons received 0

Used coupon 0

Bought with toy at store 0

Other items bought at store 0

Future visits to store with toy 0

Future purchases with toy 0

Advert 1 requested again 0

Other items 1 7.00

Total 1 13.00

Advert 2 0

Advert 3 0

Total 13.00

Charges

Fig. 13 shows an example of a feedback question in which a user is asked whether he enjoyed a particular story. Such feedback questions provide an example of a means by which user participation and enjoyment can be determined for entry into an information database.

Fig. 14 shows how information learned from previous advertisements with a single user can be used to improve future advertisements. In this example there are two styles of advertisements: one aimed at those who like to be like everyone else and the other aimed at those who are more individualistic. Decision on which ad to present is made by first checking the user's database to determine which ad has been more effective in the past and then using the more effective ad on this occasion as well.

Effectiveness of an a promotional item can be measured, for example, by referring to Example XII and deciding on a point value (a measure of effectiveness) for each element of interaction between a user and a sales promotion item. Thus, for example, one may assign 10 points if a particular user responded positively to a particular sales promotion item and 30 additional points if the item was purchased within a given period of time. In this way a total number of points may be assigned to every event in which a promotional item is presented thus obtaining a measure of the effectiveness of a given item. Effectiveness of a particular style of advertising can, for example, be determined by talcing all advertisements which used that particular style and computing the mean point value over all such given events. It is appreciated that measurement of the effectiveness of sales promotion may further require the use of sophisticated statistical analysis techniques including regression analysis. Such techniques are well known in the advertising industry.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention an interactive toy is stimulated by a user by a user activating one of its sensors, queries a sales promotion database for appropriate sales promotion content responsive to the stimulus and presents appropriate sales promotion content to user via a toy. The steps involved in this process are as follows:

1. User stimulates toy

2. Toy passes information to toy controlling computer (controller)

3. Controller queries sales promotion database for items related to particular stimulus

4. Controller chooses promotion item and fills in user and stimulus specific information into a promotion template

5. Controller sends promotion item to toy to be then presented to user

Fig. 15 shows by means of a flow chart how the database on all users may be combined to improve advertisement success on a particular user . In this example the individual user's database contains no useful information regarding the effectiveness of two different ads - one emphasizing price and the other quality. The program then queries the full database of all users for information on other users with similar profiles e.g. similar ages, genders, income levels and ethnic groups and uses the advertisement style most suited to them for the given user.

Fig. 16 shows how profiles on a user's friends may be used to enhance effectiveness of advertising. In this example user has six friends who are Interactive Toy users and since there is no information about this specific user regarding the effectiveness of the various sales styles available, the program uses the style most commonly accepted by the user's friends.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention sales promotion may be embedded in a game played by a user with user's interactive toy.

This idea is illustrated in Example XVII.

Example XVII:

Toy: I'm thinldng of something that you can buy that you really like. It starts with the letter "C". If you guess what it is you will get 100 club points and a great discount on it!

Child: Candy!

Toy: No I'm thinking of something much better! It's a liquid.

Child: Chocolate!

Toy: Chocolate is not a liquid! ! I mean something that you can drink!

Child: CokeR!

Toy: that's right. But only Coca ColaR- it's the most refreshing of all drinks!! You get 50 club points and I'm printing you a coupon for a can of CokeR at the "Six and Seven" store which you can purchase for only 50 cents.

Toy prints coupon on thee child's printer and adds 50 club points to the child's account at the Interactive Toy Server User Club.

The example above shows how advertising with an interactive toy can be embedded in a game played between the toy an a user, in this case a child. As an incentive to play a game the toy offers the child both a discount on the item guessed and club points for guessing the correct food product. For the purposes of this example is assumed that the Interactive Toy Server has in place a Users' Club at which points are gained for performing certain tasks such as, in this case, winning a game. Points may be used, for example, for purchasing items including but not limited to additional content for user's toy.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, a toy effects a sales promotion scenario using at least one of audio, emotional and positional communication. This idea is illustrated in Example XVIII. Example XVIII:

Step 1. Toy sings a song well known from Television and other media to be a promotional song for Bernie's Bagels. The song may include explicit reference to Bernie's Bagels. While singing the song toy moves its head back and forth and raises its arms.

Step 2. Toy then says "It's cheaper at Bernie's if you bring Me along!"

Step 3. Toy repeats steps 1 and 2 for many occasions on different days.

Step 4. Toy simply makes the head gesture and raises its arm.

Step 5. User recognizes gestures as a commercial message for Bernie's Bagels and is entertained by the method by which the toy delivers the message.

Step 6. Toy prints coupon for Bernie's Bagels.

This example shows how a toy can promote sales without using verbal expression. Most of the examples up to this point have used verbal expression by a toy possibly combined with motions or possibly lights on the toy. In this example a toy is operative to make head gestures and to make arm gestures in addition to verbal communication. The toy begins by conditioning a user to identify a particular product with a particular motion such as, for example, raising arms and moving head back and forth. The toy does this by first singing a well known advertising song (such as one played often on radio or television) associated with the product while simultaneously making the motion. The toy also ads a message informing the user that if he brings the toy to the store he gets a discount. The toy repeats the message and the motions many times possibly on many different days until the user identifies the motions with the product. At this point the toy is able to simply make the motion of moving its head back and forth while raising its arm and the user immediately identifies with the product. This motion may occasionally be supplemented by printing a coupon for purchase of the product at a discount or possibly other verbal instructions regarding purchase of product. Fig. 17 shows how an advertisement on a Television may be synchronized with a user's toy to provide more effective advertising. In this example the television is advertising a new hair product for a doll. The user's doll comments on how pretty the Television doll's hair looks and the excited child informs her parent that even her doll likes this new product. Synchronization between television and Interactive Toy may be achieved, for example, by a user downloading content related to a given television show.

A timing signal may be sent at the beginning of the television show from a computer at the television studio connected to the Internet to the child's computer at home. The child may be informed by the toy, at that point, to turn his television to the required station and the toy content runs synchronously with the television show. Occasional new timing signals sent subsequently by the television studio to the user's compute may help keep the toy and the television synchronized.

An alternative method is possible if the user has in his home an Interactive Television system. The Interactive Toy Server or the Television studio may upload software to the microprocessor on the Interactive Television set-top box which is operative to connect to an RF unit connected to the serial or USB port of the set-top box. The purpose of this software is to control an Interactive Toy in the same manner as it is controlled by user's computer. The Television studio may then control directly both the television program and commercial message as well as simultaneously controlling the toy.

It further shows another method of effecting sale of a product namely by sending a message, in this case and email, to a user's friend or relative, in this case a parent, with information regarding the wishes of the user. This can be used for requests for gifts from friends, grandparents etc. This example also shows that this message can be entertaining for the parent since it contains a header indicating that it is the toy itself who sent the message.

Fig. 18 shows how an interactive toy can help a user, in this case a child, deal with a difficult situation and, at the same time, promote the sale of a gift to the child. In this example a child is going for a walk with his mobile toy as well as with his older sibling. Suddenly the child is frightened by a dog who is barking loudly. The frightened child hugs his toy. The toy senses the hug and recognizes the sound as the bark of a dog, for example, by matching the digital sound file resulting from the dog's bark with specimen sound files on the toy-controlling computer. A program on the toy-controlling computer has been programmed to recognize the combination of a dog bark and a subsequent hug as a sign that the child is frightened. The toy then says "Wow that was scary!" and awaits a response from child. Child's response indicates how brave the child is. An email is sent to parent at work describing the incident and suggesting a gift the nature of which depends on how frightened the child was. The Interactive Toy Server arranges prompt delivery.

In yet another preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy may request permission or authorization for a transaction from a child-user's guardian. This idea is illustrated in Example XIX.

Example XIX:

Doll's name is "Cindy".

Doll: "Come to the computer screen, I have something to show you!"

At the computer screen - picture of many dolls all wearing the latest fashions for dolls. Doll: "I'd like some of these clothes too!" Child: "I'll ask Mom!"

Doll identifies phrase, checks calendar and notices that Mom is likely at work. Doll queries Mom's computer at work and establishes that Mom's computer is active. Doll assumes that mom is at work. Doll: Hey! Mom's at work! I'll ask Mom for you! Would you like me to? Child: Yeh! Doll sends child's motheran email at work with mail header "From Cindy" requesting one of the nice new doll fashions and with a link to the internet site displaying the fashions and with a suggestion for a sale price on those fashions.

Toy Entertainment Systems Used for Sales Promotion

Toys, by their very nature, are designed to entertain children and adults so that even in their current form, toys are a type of entertainment medium. Even inanimate toys can form a relationship with a user that may even take the form of "bonding". This bonding enhances the creative play of a user, which may be a child, and allows users to imagine that a toy has certain human (or superhuman or animal or alien or other) characteristics. Thus toys entertain users by focusing their imaginative play on certain characters or characteristics.

Inanimate toys are, however, limited in their abilities. First of all they entertain mostly by harnessing a user's imagination. Furthermore the entertainment is usually very localized since only toys which are actually at the same location as users can entertain users. The actual content of the entertainment is either wholly or partially predetermined by the designer/manufacturer of the toy. It may also be derived from the imagination of one or more users and/or their playmates.

Interactive Toys Provides A Novel Medium for Entertainment.

One purpose of the preferred embodiment shown and described herein is to apply the "Living Objects" computer controlled toy technology to totally change the way in which people are entertained by toys. Thus, interactive networked toys allow one or more users' toys to become a mechanism for passive entertainment, in which a user is passively entertained by actions of one or more toys. Interactive networked toys may also provide active entertainment, in which a user participates interactively in the content of the entertainment provided by the toys. Entertainment may be a combination or active and passive forms.

The content for entertainment is provided in a wide variety of ways. It may either follow the model of the television in which a single distant provider provides content or, alternatively, the origin of the content may be distributed among many providers and many users throughout a network. Content may be provided both by network and by one or more single sources.

In any of these cases, such content can be individualized for each user, since the delivery of content is computer controlled. Thus, entertainment (which may include games) may be local (i.e. played by one or more users situated at the same location), or it may be entirely global (i.e. the content being determined by a possibly complex interaction of all users and providers on such a system). Such a feature is made possible by interconnectivity of all toys and providers on one or more suitable networks, such as the Internet.

Entertainment content may be totally predetermined, or it may evolve dynamically, based on its previous history, and upon inputs of one or many of users of such systems. Commercial Aspects of Interactive Toy Technology are designated "T- Commerce".

A further purpose of a preferred embodiment of this invention is to have in place a system, which utilizes this new medium for commercial purposes. Currently, all entertainment media such as, but not limited to, television, movies, and theatre, have enormous commercial possibilities. Commercial applications include charges for providing content, advertising, merchandising and many others.

Besides providing an opportunity for each and every one of the traditional commercial possibilities, networked interactive toys provide several entirely new mechanisms for generating commercial revenue. These mechanisms are described in the sections below. This new system of commerce, based on computer controlled networked interactive toys, is called "T-Commerce" (hinting to "Toy commerce"). T- Comrnerce includes both traditional methods for generating revenue from an entertainment medium, and many new opportunities unique to the novel interactive toy medium.

The commercial opportunities of T-Commerce include, but are not limited to, charges for content, advertising, providing discount coupons, encouraging a user to visit a particular store, and possibly bring his toy to the store, as well as using the relationship of user(s) with the toy(s). The toy, which may be a doll, cuddly stuffed animal or any other form of toy provides user(s) patriotism to one or more particular products.

Structure of an Interactive Toy System

The system described by a preferred embodiment of this invention includes a multitude of interactive toys (to be described in detail below). These toys are individually placed at a "site" which may be a home, an office, a retail store, a shopping mall, an entertainment outlet (such as an amusement park), or at any other location.

Each such site contains either one or many computers, which may be connected by a local network. These sites may contain any other type of electronic devices capable of connecting to a computer, which is capable of controlling the toy. Electronic devices include and are not limited to cable modems and Web TV. Each such site also contains one or many toys, each of which may be connected via any fonn of wireless communication (including, but not limited to radio and infrared), with one or more of the computers at the site. It is desirable but not essential that each toy uses one such site and one computer on this site as its "home base".

It is preferred that each computer at a site communicates with one or more toys, and is connected to a network or to a series of interconnected networks. Such a computer may have software running on it, which can utilize one or more networks, in order to perform its various functions.

It is preferred that each toy can be a guest at any other site. Such sites have computers ranning the aforementioned software. An individual toy on such a network may contain hardware, which allows it to roam between different sites. If such hardware exists it could be connected to any suitable wireless network (such as the cellular or the satellite network) using the standard technology for connecting to this network. This allows such a toy to function with full capabilities when away from its home base (either by containing a powerful processor of its own or by connecting through the aforementioned networks to a central server or to the user's "home" computer). Such an interactive toy may only function with limited capabilities, in order to reduce cost to its user.

In most cases, a roaming toy may update its home base with all newly acquired information upon its return, or, if possible, at some convenient time while the toy is roving. The toy may also contain hardware (such as, for example, any light sensitive device, which could be used as a bar code scanner,) which would allow it to interact with standard equipment in a retail outlet such as a cash register. This feature allows a toy to send information about its user's purchase to the system's server, which would enable the store, or other outlet, to be charged a fee since such a toy "brought a user to a store or other outlet".

It is preferred that such a system contains one or more servers whose main purpose is to serve the global community of toys. Such a server may serve many functions including, but not limited to, providing support to the local computers, providing new content for the toys, providing teclmical support for the toys, and providing software support and upgrades.

Such a server may serve many other functions including providing an online store and user's club and, most important of all, coordinating all the commercial concerns of such a system. One or more servers receive information and content from users and provide content and information to users by means of one of the networks described above.

It is preferred that such a system contains one or more Entertainment Providers which may be individuals, companies or any other entities which provide any form of entertainment content, which may include educational or commercial content, to one or many of the toys on the system. This content is either provided directly by the Entertainment Provider to a user via any public network, or is provided to one or more aforementioned servers (either via a public network or by a secure private line or by any other means). When content is provided via a server, content is processed by the server, as required, and then sent to the consumer via a public network.

Interactive toy systems further contain retail outlets (which may be actual stores, online stores or other forms of sales outlets) which sell the interactive toys, as well as entertainment content on physical media and any other related items.

The Functioning of a T-Commerce System.

The functioning of one such T-Commerce system is summarized as follows: One or more Entertainment Providers provide Entertainment content. This content serves two purposes. The first is to entertain the user/users via their toy/toys, and the second is to derive the commercial benefit, which arises from the provision of this entertainment.

This commercial benefit comes in several forms. First of all the system allows for all the traditional commercial opportunities of any entertainment medium, including but not limited to advertising, charging for content and merchandising. Secondly, all traditional forms of e-commerce are now available using such a novel and exciting medium. Thirdly, there are several new exciting opportunities, arising from T- Commerce, which are described below.

Finally, the presence of a huge number of toys in so many homes and commercial establishments leads to a unique opportunity for collection of data and profiling of consumers. This enormous new database of information can also be used for Research and Development purposes as described below. •

The various kinds of interactive toys have unique properties. These features are described below. The second is a unique and complex security system whose key feature is an extensive network of adaptable, multi-point context based content filters. This system is also described further below.

Features of Interactive Toys

Each toy in such a system typically includes a wireless transmitter and receiver (though some versions of the toy may include only a transmitter or only a receiver). (The use of wireless communication is intended to make the use of the toy more convenient though in an unusual case in which wire communication is more useful, this could be used as well for all or part of the system.) Each toy may contain a mechanical system, which allows physical motion of parts of the toy and/or motion of the toy as a whole.

Each toy may contain one or more sensors which may include sensors of sound (preferably one or more microphones), vibrations, touch, heat, light, motion, vision or any other sensor or combination of sensors. It is preferred that each toy contains an audio speaker or a system of such speakers. All these components are included in the toy in order to allow the toy to act as closely as possible as a human, an animal, any other living being or any imagined living being (such as an alien, a cartoon character or a science fiction character).

It is preferred that each toy have a unique electronic identification code so that it may be uniquely identified by the computer system which runs our entertainment system.

Interactive toys on the system have a variety of capabilities, ranging from simply receiving and playing sounds, to providing full portable functionality. This allows toys to be bought in a wide variety of price ranges. A "top of the line" version of the toy might also have one or more video or other cameras which would provide vision capabilities for the toy.

Toys include but are not limited to the conventional definition of a toys. Thus, a toy may include any object into which some form of the "Living Object" technology may be incorporated. This may include home appliances or any inanimate object. Such objects can either be used alone, or they can be used in conjunction with more conventional toys to enhance the entertainment quality of the toy. For example, an adult who enjoys talking to himself, may want to put this technology into a mirror, and then carry on conversations with "himself, using either prepared scripts or some currently existing or future "Artificial Intelligence" technology. This is designed to simulate human response to a user's statements as described below.

The entertainment value of such toys is greatly enhanced when a user owns more than one toy. This may not be difficult for commercial enterprises, but many individuals may not be able to afford to buy a large number of toys. Such a system provides several solutions to this problem. One first solution relies on of modular toys. A user may purchase many outer shells containing some of the mechanical and electronic devices needed to perform its various tasks, but as much as possible of the mechanical and electrical machinery as well as the core communication and processing unit is transferable from toy to toy. The system of the present a preferred embodiment of the present invention also typically provides for the possibility of manufacturing relatively inexpensive toys with limited capabilities. A small toy with only a wireless receiving unit and a speaker would be able to entertain its user in conjunction with a more sophisticated "owner-toy" and the host computer. Intermediate complexities of toys are also envisioned. Alternately some form of portable object such as a necldace or belt could contain limited capabilities such as wireless communication, speech and hearing and it could be placed on conventional toys, which already exist in the home and transferred from one to the other. This would allow users to- "bring to life" the various objects such as stuffed animals, which they already have in their home. In all the above cases the host computer, or possibly one of the other toys in the system, would be responsible for coordinating the identities of the various toys. It is preferred that each site contain one or more toys with the capability to receive input from the user and that this input is used to recognize one or many characteristics of the user. This information is then passed on to a computer, which may pass some or all of this information to a main server for further processing, storage or for contribution to a database of profiles of people's behavior, both commercial and otherwise.

Such information may be used for other purposes, including but not limited to enhancing the security of the system using the context based filtering method described below. "Pattern matching" technology including, but not limited to, technology which uses neural networks for predicting market trends and other business needs may be used to study trends in the toy's user's behavior.

Such system technology may receive as input direct active interactions of a user and his toy(s) (such as in the case of speech, touch or information about the changes in physical location of the toy). Such system technology may receive as input passive actions of users. For example, in the case of listening or possibly seeing what is happening in the user's room and correlating it with other input such as, for example, temperature, time of day, lighting and many other possible inputs).

This information, either in its raw form, or once processed by a pattern matching engine, can be added to a server's database. This database application is discussed further in a later section of this document. Furthermore one or more toys, a site's computer (or computers), or one or more servers may provide a mechanism by which a toy can learn from its own previous experiences, or from those of other toys and/or users. This may be accomplished using currently available Artificial Intelligence technology, and the aforementioned pattern matching ability, or other techniques, which may be developed in the future.

Artificial Intelligence technology with the aid of voice recognition and "text to speech" technology may be used to allow entertaining non-scripted speech interaction between one or more users, and one or more toys which may either be in a single location or distributed throughout the network. This level of voice . recognition and interactivity will require the latest technology in echo cancellation so that the toy can understand the user while the toy itself is spealdng.

Some or all of the toys on a network may have the capability to communicate with a wireless network such as, but not limited to, one or more existing cellular networks or satellite networks. A cellular phone or hardware-containing cellular phone technology connects a user to any server or Internet Service Provider on the cellular phone network. Any one of these servers or a user's home computer, when connected to a network may be the server for the toy's functions.

When the toy is within range of one of a system's sites, it may switch from using this global wireless network to using a local computer at the site. A toy with this capability would also be capable of using all the features of Mobile Commerce and such a system's server, or any other server, could provide remote computer services to the user. A remote toy could also help direct a user to a specific retail or service location, such as the nearest Fast Food Restaurant, or the like, or .the nearest movie theatre, showing a particular movie.

Such a system encourages users to bring their toys to specific locations, in order to obtain discounts. Such an interactive toy system may receive a fee or commission for bringing each and every user to each and every retail or service establishment.

A further advantage of mobile capability is the ability to track the location of users remotely. This proves useful when one or more toys or their users are lost. Furthermore, in cases where relatives and/or friends, are concerned about the location of a user, or in any other circumstances. In a case where a user is lost, his toy can help him communicate with his relatives and/or friends, and/or the Authorities. This avoids panic and allows such a user to be found more easily.

Many of the toys described above may use a significant amount of electrical (or other forms) of power for their operation. In many cases the batteries (or other mobile power supply) which are used in toys last for a very limited amount of time. It is preferred; those one or more toys in such a system contain a "power management" scheme, whose purpose is to minimize the power used by toys. This power management scheme may cause toys to turn off automatically when they have not been used for a certain period of time.

Alternatively, toys run in a mode requiring reduced power consumption, under certain predetermined (or possibly programmable) circumstances. In some cases, toys may be plugged into a charger some time, just as a cordless phone is plugged into a charger when not in use. A toy, while plugged into a charger, may function fully including, possibly, the ability to detect motion and sound and respond to a person entering a room, or any other toy capabilities.

The toy may contain a "wake up on signal" system which turns on a local computer when that toy receives a signal (much as current "wake up on ring" systems for modems operate). This allows users' families to turn their home computers off, yet still allows users to play with their toys.

Entertainment Possibilities with Networked Interactive Toys

There are a multitude of ways the interactive toy system, described above, may be used to entertain a user or a large collection of users, who are either located at a single site or at many sites, either simultaneously or at different times.

Typically, one or more toys entertain users by interacting with them through one or more toy communication mechanisms or structures. These include microphones, one or more audio speakers, motors or other devices causing motion of the toy, as well as any other mechanisms, and especially by voice input.

Interactive toys respond to user inputs. They respond to input in a way determined by the hardware and software on each specific toy, as well as by software on one or more host computers. Their response includes, but is not limited to sound (including voice), motion and light.

Responses may be generated either by predetermined scripts, or by entertainment content, provided via one or more networks. Some form of computer program, such as currently available "Artificial Intelligence" programs may also provide them. These parse user input for content, and use this to determine output, or by some local or global game with predetermined, or adaptable rules which is played by one or more users on the network. In one very simple application of this, two users who are possibly located at a great distance from each other could simply use the toy as an intermediary to carry on a conversation.

It is preferred that interactive toys be part of a global entertainment network. One way to understand such a system is to draw an analogy with traditional entertainment, such as television. In the case of television, there are many content providers, which provide content to the television station. The television station may also produce some of the content on its own. This content is then transmitted to the user's television, which provides the entertainment to the user who is watching the television.

In the case of an interactive toy system, there are many content providers of entertainment of various kinds, for use with interactive toys in such a system.

These or other entertainment providers may provide their entertainment directly to a user's computer through one or more networks, or, preferably, provide their content to such a system's server, which then passes it on to user(s). In either case, an entertainment provider can design content, which affects the entire community of toys directly and can adapt content interactively, in response to the input of one or more members of this community. Furthermore software may be provided to users, so users may write their own content.

The entertainment provided by content providers may be very broad in its possible types. Simple content includes predetermined interactive scripts written by a content provider, which may make use of the specific characters of each toy, which is being animated. Thus, for example, Disney could write a script for one or many conversations (including physical actions) which would be appropriate to a toy such as Mickey Mouse™. The provider could enhance this script or any other kind of content discussed below. A provider could employ any one of the many Artificial Intelligence programs currently available on the market or any future applications. These are designed to provide a computer with the ability to have conversations (or any other form of interaction) with a human being in such a way that the computer responds as much as possible as a human. One or more users are then able to hold a conversation (or other interaction) with one or more toys without using a predetermined script. This is extended to any other program, which is written and defines toy response as a function of user (s) inputs that of other toys in one or more systems.

In addition, content providers provide clips of movies or plays, either by purely audio means, or by combining audio and other possible movements of toy(s). This form of entertainment is greatly enhanced when one or more users have many interactive toys, even when some are limited in their abilities, or if some are modular in nature, as discussed in the previous section. In such a case, one or more content providers may have the various toys act out one or more scenes of a movie or a play. As technology of interactive toys is improved, a play may be designed whose actors are a collection of toys.

The entertainment value improves yet further, if some of the toys are inanimate objects, such as toy cars or furniture, and are controlled by one or more content providers, thus providing props for the play. Allowing many users on a network to see such entertainment simultaneously may further enhance this multi-user, multi-toy entertainment approach.

As a further possibility, there may be made available for purchase an entire suite of characters from a particular movie, play or television show, which could then collectively act out, possibly interactive, scenes prepared by the producers of the particular show (or by any other person(s)).

A related application of this is to turn a collection of dolls, such as Barbie™ dolls, into a full entertainment center. Further enhancement occurs when users' response to such a play would affect further development of the play. There currently exist books and movies on CD-ROM, which use this technique. In such a case, development of a theme of a play could possibly be performed online, while one or more content providers send content, and the response of one or many users affect the progress of the play for all other viewers. One possible example, if a majority of people "boo" at a particular scene, the scene could be changed for everyone, thus giving one user a feeling for what is happening globally.

A further possibility is that of character animation which can take several forms. In one form one or more users purchase a particular character whose content provider programs or scripts animate features and personalities.

The aforementioned modular technology is useful but not essential for this purpose in that cost to consumers is reduced. Specific characters may be designed by special request, although this is quite expensive. The animated character may be a character (either human, animal, alien or other). This may be from a movie, television show, play or other famous, real or fictitious entertainment figure. It may also be any other publicly known personality, possibly a sports figure, a religious leader, or a historical figure.

In case of a special order interactive toy, this may include a figure of oneself, or a family member, or friend, or, in fact any character human, or otherwise of one's imagination. Content is then provided to animate these characters in either a passive or, preferably, in an interactive way to simulate the characters, which they represent.

It is also possible to produce an animation of an entertainer, or politician, or other historical figure of the past, performing his famous act. Thus, for example, an Elvis Presley doll may perform his songs "live". It is clear that this technology is not limited a particular character receiving content related only to its specific character. Thus for example, it is entirely possible that a user may want to use a Mickey Mouse ™ doll to act as if he were a football star.

Another form of character animation utilizes the imagination of the user to enhance the entertainment value. A preferred method for achieving this would be to provide some mechanism for some or all of the active components of a toy to be put on an existing toy which were not designed with the Living Toy technology. Thus, for example, a necklace is designed containing a radio transmitter and receiver as well as a microphone and speaker. This is attached to any one of the user's existing toys. When many such necklaces are used, a user animates a large number of his toys. This kind of entertainment is enhanced by the Artificial Intelligence technology discussed above, since a user is able to hold conversations with his/her toys which may, for example, be having a (fictitious) dinner party. Interactions with other toys on one or more networks would make this even more exciting and entertaining.

Such an interactive toy system may be used to simulate live performances such as, but not limited to, sports games. Thus, for example, a sports club or a bar purchases a set of figures representing two or more sports teams. This may be too expensive for most individual users to purchase. These figures each contain the Living Toys technology.

During a live sports event, various cameras may be used to generate images. These images may be analyzed to determine the motion of the various parts of each player on the field, as well as the motion of the ball or any other objects used in a game. This information is passed on to one or more user computers using a network, and then passed on to various toys representing the sports players.

A suitable arrangement would then allow the toy players, balls and any other objects in the game, to move around on an artificially designed field. A feedback mechanism allowing the reactions of the crowds at home to affect the play of the players (probably though cheers and other crowd comments) could be incorporated.

Interconnectivity of all toys on one or more network provides unique opportunity for multi-player interactive gaming. The multi-player nature of these games may range from being very localized (i.e. just among friends) or it can be global in nature, thus joining users from different cultures and countries in a global game.

Language barriers may be overcome, either by translation of some simple or standardized content, or by using computerized translators (combined with voice recognition and text to speech technologies). Another alternative is by using the movements of the toys to use some existing or new form of communication via "sign language" which is any form of communication using the motion of (in this case) toys as the medium.

It is the role of entertainment providers to design games for use by such a system. The nature of such games can range from very simple to very complex. The simplest form of these games may be adaptations of existing computer games, possibly but not limited to strategy games, to the world of interactive . toys. More interesting games make use of the interactive nature of interactive toys, and global network(s) to which they are connected.

Thus, for example, a user sends his toy on a trip to one or more far away lands, in search of one or more users with certain characteristics. Alternately a toy, in response to certain criteria set up by the producers of the game, may decide to do this on its own. It will then return from this virtual trip with some or all of the characteristics and/or experiences of some or all of these toys. Such a game may be designed so that this trip is presented to user(s) as a "party" or other social or business gathering to which the toy has gone. The results of this party or meeting can then be presented to user (s) (possibly by animating the meeting with more than one toy) and the results (including users' interaction) are then used to decide on new and exciting adventures. Such a game may be an educational experience, as a toy is visiting interesting lands and cultures and finding out the actual properties of people in that area. Education applications of this technology are discussed further below.

One or more interactive toy systems provide a unique gaming opportunity for adults. Games may have a goal of changing the course of user life. A game could may lead a user to get another job, meet a new mate, make new business contacts, move to a new place in the world, meet a group of people with different lifestyles or to make many other such changes in an adult's life.

Interactive toy systems hold several advantages in controlling such a game. First of all, Interactive Toy system is aware of many of the characteristics and habits of its users. Such information is obtained both by asking users for information, and by passively observing users' habits. These habits are analyzed using either a pattern matching program, such as is available for analyzing business trends, or by any other means. Secondly information is collected by Interactive Toy System using the special relationship created between an animated characters chosen by users, and those users. These relationships are also utilized to help convince users to follow the instructions of their toys.

It is preferred that such games are closely tied to the commercial applications of this system. Thus, for example, an Interactive Toy System, knowing that a male and a female user are basically compatible and that they both like a particular play, may offer them tickets to this play and give them seats together. The system may also, for example, provide them with a discount coupon for a restaurant which might only be valid if both halves of the coupon (the half given to the male and the half given to the female) are used together (or if both toys are present). This increases the possibility that such a pair would meet. The Interactive Toy System analyzes the results of the meeting by communicating with the users, and uses this information to design further adventures for that pair. Various content providers may design different games with this or other themes.

Interactive toys may also be used as one or more diaries, organizers and reminders. Much of this functionality parallels the standard electronic diaries, organizers and reminders, and uses toy speech capability, possibly with text to speech technology, to pass the reminders to the user. Entry of items in the diary, organizer or reminder can be done either via the user's computer or via the toy itself, using speech recognition, for all or part of this process. This system has several advantages over traditional electronic organizers and reminders especially when applied to users.

First of all, a user is much more likely to listen to a reminder by a toy of personal significance, such as a Mickey Mouse ™ toy, than a reminder by even an animated character on a computer screen.

For example, imagine a parent who leaves for work in the morning before the user, and, for example, the user's older sibling takes him her to school. Before the parent goes to sleep, he/she may remind the toy to remind the child that he has certain subjects in school, or to go home with a particular parent, or to have some particular food for breakfast. The child enjoys this communication with the toy and he will thus be more likely to cooperate. The toy may also ask the child whether he did what he was told, and provide positive or negative reinforcement depending on the situation.

A sophisticated version of an interactive toy includes a video camera. This may be able to check whether the child did what he was supposed to do. The toy may reward the child for compliance by providing coupons or other commercial benefits. The diary, organizer or reminder can also be used for advertising purposes by adding reminders and notices as dictated by the advertisers. Thus, for example. The user could be reminded about the release date of a new movie or about the expiration of a major sale of airline tickets.

One of the most valuable services provided by the traditional entertainment media is Education. Television, radio, theatre and cinema provide a significant amount of educational content. Interactive toys provide a unique opportunity for a variety of types of education especially for (but not limited to) children who are favorably influenced by their special relationship with certain toys with special personalities.

One form of educational content is the teaching of academic subjects in an interesting and personalized way. Thus, for example, a user, or his/her parents, or anyone else, may purchase an educational package on Mathematics, Science, History or even Religion, all at various levels, and for various ages.

A user learns much more willingly from a toy of personal significance, such as a Mickey Mouse ™ toy, than from a computer screen, especially if this learning is spontaneous and unstructured.

For example, a toy can offer a user a prize, in exchange for the correct answer to some math questions. It is preferable for the prize to be commercial in nature. It may be a coupon (or points) to buy more content for a toy. It may be a coupon to go to a store or other outlet, and buy some product or service. This advertises one or more products/services, and may encourage a user's family/fiends to accompany him to that store/outlet. A further advantage of an Interactive Toy System is that the leading world experts on any given subject can provide the content for any of these courses. These courses may be very flexible and unstructured in nature. A course in Geography may include a virtual visit to the land or city in question to meet some of the toys or toy users who "live" there and learn from them about life in that particular place.

A particularly important educational application of interactive toys is in language education. Here too, language courses prepared by leading world experts can be applied to users' toys, and may teach these courses in an animated, personalized and interactive way.

One further advantage of an Interactive Toy System is that it allows language to be taught to infants and babies in a very subtle way. Thus, for example, even before a parent purchases a language module, a toy could teach a child an interesting word in a foreign language. That toy then persuades the child to show his parents that he knows this word. When the parent sees what the child has learnt, he/she is encouraged to purchase a language module. The interactive toy encourages the parent to tell friends about this wonderful toy. This, in turn, will increase not only sales of the toy and related entertainment content, but also all advertising revenue resulting from the toy, as will is described below.

Another educational role of toys in general and toys in particular is in role- modeling good behavior. Thus particular content is provided which teaches proper behavior under various circumstances, or which explains to a user interactively, why stealing, hitting, cheating or other behavior is wrong. This content may be individualized for different cultures. Thus, for example, one toy teaches environmental awareness, whereas another role models or teaches some cultural or religious behavior.

Using more than one toy to role -model behavior enhances educational experience. Thus, for example, two or more toys act out a situation at school, which leads to a fight, and they then suggest some techniques of how to avoid such fights.

Another possibility is the use of Artificial Intelligence technology to create a conversation between one or more users and one or more toys regarding any of the above examples, or any other moral issues.

Another educational application of interactive toys, which is related to the toy as a role model, is called "Corrective Toy". When a particular user shows certain consistent inappropriate behavior, he or his guardian may purchase, or otherwise acquire, a content module, which is designed to "correct" user behavior. Interactive toys thus act, in a limited manner, as counselors, consultants or psychologists who use any available techniques such as, but not limited to, behavior modification techniques to help users to correct their inappropriate behavior.

It is conceivable that, if necessary, interactive toys' speech and actions are controlled by human psychologists or others, who see and/or hear user reactions (from the comfort of their own offices), and who then tell toys such as these, what actions to take next. Tins is very useful and potent in many kinds of counseling. Commercial Applications of Toy Entertainment Medium

All entertainment media provide enormous opportunity for commercial utilization. One or more interactive toy systems, besides providing all the traditional methods of commercial utilization of entertainment, provide significant additional opportunity for commerce. These new opportunities are strongly enhanced by the interactive characteristics of the toys. This new system of commerce, termed herein "T- Commerce", is further described below.

Commercial Applications of Traditional Entertainment:

T-Commerce provides all the commercial opportunities of the traditional entertainment media. A basic one of these applications is charging for content. It costs money to go and see a play or a movie and PAY-TV is increasing in popularity. Subscription to Cable TV is, in fact, simply a charge for a package of content. T- Commerce utilizes this method, as well by charging for content by purchases at physical stores, at web stores, directly through entertainment providers, or by a prepaid subscription.

Another important way in which entertainment media produce revenue is by advertising. Use of interactive toys as advertisers, is discussed further below.

Yet another method of generating revenue is by sponsorships. Thus, certain advertisers sponsor certain shows especially major sporting events. In interactive toy systems, opportunity is given to advertisers to sponsor certain entertainment or educational programs, which are provided to the users.

E-Commerce and M-Commerce Applications to Interactive Toys Systems.

A full range of e-commerce applications is made possible employing interactive toy systems, due to network interconnectivity of the community of toys. One or more web sites and users' clubs are provided on the Internet. These are designed to inform and entertain users, and also offer many products and services for sale (including entertainment and other content).

Interactive toy system users may be children and/or parents. Parents may allow their children to spend money at the site. Parents maintain control over the total amount by prepaying for content, and allowing the children to use the credits as they see fit. Children or other users may also earn credits by listening to or responding to advertising, or by doing well in certain games, educational or otherwise. Access may also be provided to other web sites and advertising may appear on the system's web site so that the web site has the potential of providing a full-service e-commerce center.

The e-commerce shopping experience is enhanced if shopping is done via one or more toys, rather than users sitting at their computers. Thus, for example, a user may ask his toy(s) what books are available for his age on dinosaurs. The toy may respond by saying that there are too many to list. It may offer to print the long list or ask the user to be more specific. After a brief discussion the toy might suggest a few books to the user and ask if he wants to purchase it and give him some options of suppliers. The parents may need to be involved if the purchaser is a young child.

The T-commerce equivalent of "one click shopping" is that a user asks his toy to see if an electronic bookstore, such as "Amazon" has a particular book, and then authorize him to buy it. It is possible but not essential to secure the purchase using a voiceprint.

It was mentioned previously that some of the toys have mobile technology, which connects to a mobile network. Thus all the applications of "Mobile-Commerce" will apply to this system. A mobile toy is able to order theatre tickets, pay for parking, order restaurants and do anything which an internet enabled cellular phone can do either using the voice technology described in the previous paragraph or by providing a toy with a small LCD or other monitor. This may be integrated into toys in an entertaining way, either openly or hidden behind some part of the toy. Thus all M-Comrnerce applications become T-Commerce applications.

Unique Commercial Applications of T-Commerce

Networked interactive toys provide a unique opportunity for commercial utilization of this entertainment medium. A child, teenager or adult's interactive toy is absolutely unique in its role and in its abilities as an advertiser. Such a toy may be characterized as an "interactive and responsive advertiser".

A toy may advertise by simply presenting a user with a predetermined advertisement, which the toy animates for user entertainment. Though this is similar to advertising on television and other media, it has the unique feature that the user has developed a relationship with his toy(s) and he is thus much more likely to be influenced by advertising.

It is true that even in television users develop a relationship with television characters. It is clear that most users are much more likely to listen to their cute cuddly bear, which tells them to buy a product, than to an image of that bear on a television screen.

A major advantage of toys as advertisers is provided by the unique database, which interactive toy servers have accumulated. First of all, the interactive toy system knows the basis characteristics of users, such as age, gender, nationality, location, and interests, simply by a registration procedure, which may be required for receiving support. Secondly, an advanced version of this system is constructed, in which one or more toys study user behaviors, and develop a profile of each and every user. Toys thus becomes extremely well informed salespeople who know all about the habits and behaviors of users, and can thus advertise the products, which users are most likely to buy.

Toys may ask a user whether he bought a product, or, preferably, use one of the tracking techniques, described below, to track user purchases. Furthermore, since toys are networked, a toy may track it user's reaction to a specific purchase as time progresses, and use this information to plan further advertising strategy for sales in the user's area, or in other parts of the world. Powerful sales and profiling systems develop in which buying habits and product satisfaction can carefully be tracked as a function of many parameters. Thus, such systems may decide that a certain ethnic group with a certain income level with users in a given age group buys a particular product at a certain rate.

One real advantage of an interactive toy server system is that the information in the profile may be much more specific and personal than profiles developed by other means. Standard pattern matching technology such as used for analyzing business trends can be used to analyze these profiles.

An interactive toy is thus preferably an interactive and responsive advertiser. It reacts to known features of the user as derived from its database and advertises accordingly. It reacts to the answers to the questions, which it asks the user and it reacts to trends and behaviors, which it notices from the user using the aforementioned pattern matching technology.

The toy of the present invention can be viewed as a "super salesman". Besides knowing everything about its user, a toy also knows everything about all the other users on the system. Thus, in a virtual sense, the various toys can have a "sales meeting" in which they combine all their knowledge about sales and create new strategies and techniques for selling to certain kinds of people and groups of people.

By learning each other's experiences, toys can also create fads and trends, and thus direct the users' shopping in a more significant way.

A toy may or may not also be used as a negotiator, and it can thus serve a useful educational function by teaching users the skills of negotiation. Negotiation could be as simple as requesting that the seller sell at a lower price due to limitations of a particular user's budget, or it could take a more proactive role modeled after current sites such as prieeline.com. The idea is that a user asks his toy to find a certain product at a certain price, and the toy (virtually) scans a network, and finds out whether any sellers are willing to sell for that price. Similarly the Interactive Toy System also helps users buy and sell used items.

Suppose a user is looking for a particular type of used doll, for example a Barbie ™ Doll, then some or all of the toys in the system can ask their users whether they have such a Barbie ™ Doll, which they would like to sell. After the sale is completed an Interactive Toy System would charge the buyer and/or the seller a fee for negotiating the deal. This can be extended to online auctions and modeled after current services such as "e-bay".

Toys' advertising takes many forms. It may either advertise a product directly as mentioned previously, or, in addition, it may direct advertising to its own needs. Thus, for example, if a toy's batteries are running out, it could suggest to its user that the batteries be replaced by a specific brand. A toy could advertise products appropriate to its personality. For example, a Barbie ™ doll could advertise cosmetics.

Toys may advertise other toys (either Living Objects or ordinary toys) and insist that they need these other toys to make them happy. A toy may suggest that its user should go and see some new movie, and possibly provide a discount coupon for the movie. Similarly, a toy may advertise any product or service in a user specific manner.

Alternately, a toy may attract its user or his/her parents to go to the system's web site or to the advertiser's web site. If a toy attracts its user to an advertiser's web site, then Interactive Toy System may charge a fee to that web site in exchange for attracting the customer to that site.

A toy may encourage a child and his family to go to a particular store to purchase a particular item. The toy may offer a user a coupon or it might insist that the specific user (a certain child) take the toy to the store in order to receive a discount. This latter method would empower that child in his family since the family needs to take that child to the store in order to get the discount. The presence of that specific child may be verified using a voiceprint. The presence of that toy at the store has significant commercial value, since the toy, when connected to the store's system (assuming they have the Living Objects software installed) informs the server that a purchase was made. This is a consequence of following advice of the toy, and thus allows an Interactive Toy System to charge a fee. A mechanism is provided for tracking the future purchases of that user's family at that store, which arise as a direct result of the toy's initial advertising.

An additional advantage of having a user's toy at the store physically is that other customers in the store will see the toy and will see it getting a discount, and they will be encouraged to purchase a toy themselves. This leads to an increase in the number of users, and thus the value of an Interactive Toy System. Furthermore, many stores may have Living Object toys as well as "point of sale" items. These stores essentially act as salesmen for Living Object toys. A user who brings his/her toy to a store may be provided with content, which allows interaction of such a user's toy with the point of sale toys thus providing an enhanced shopping experience.

The use of interactive toys for playing games also provides many commercial opportunities. Games may have embedded advertising. Users may be sent to certain movies, restaurants or other establishments as part of a game. In the case of strategy games, users may be given some prize for doing well in the game. It is even conceivable that if the game were large enough, the prize may be very large. Thus, for example, every user pays a few dollars to play a long and interesting game, and one or more winners may win millions of dollars.

Enhancing consumer database and profiling via T-Commerce.

A network of toys, as described herein, provides an opportunity for the creation of a unique database of consumer information. As the use of toys in such a network increases, this database may increase in size and complexity, and eventually construction of detailed profiles of consumers may be possible. This database and consumer profiles contained therein are of significant commercial value.

The collection of information about a user begins when he registers his toy on an interactive toy system's server. Users are encouraged to register, and are offered free support services at an online shop and club, as well as other online services, in exchange for registering their toys. During registration, certain basic information about each user is requested (some of which may be required for registration) including but not limited to gender, age, cultural background, school grade (for a child), level of education and occupation (for an adult), hobbies and interests. This information is stored in an online database.

Information in such a database may be updated whenever a user interacts in any way with his toy, or whenever a user performs any action at the system's online server's web site. It is preferred that not all such information be stored in a database, but rather that such a database is selective about which information is relevant and is stored. . It is preferred that such a database stores information about all commercial activities, which one or more users performs via one or more toys or via the system's web site. This includes all requests for commercial information and all purchases (and returns of goods) that can be tracked by toys. Various methods of tracking the commercial activity of users have been discussed previously in this document. These include but are not limited to direct purchase requests through toys, purchases with coupons provided by toys, and purchases in which a certain toy was physically brought to a store (possibly in exchange for that user receiving a discount or other benefit).

The power of such a database described in this section is further enhanced by the ability of one or more toys to directly gauge their user's or users' response to advertising.

Such a database is initially used to choose suitable advertising for any given user. Since it is preferred that all advertising include some form of encouragement (such as a discount) for use of a toy in a purchase, it is possible to track whether a specific advertisement or form of advertisement was effective in selling a particular item to a particular user. This information, correlated with the personal infonnation of the user, provides a powerful profile of consumer response to advertising.

The ability to track the effectiveness of advertising is enhanced dramatically by utilization of the unique personal relationship that will, in many cases, develop between a toy and its user. Such a user may, in many cases, be willing to "tell" his toy(s) whether he enjoyed the advertisement and whether he intends to purchase the item. It is then possible to know not only whether the item was purchased, but also whether there was an initial intention to purchase. The information about initial intention, combined with information about an actual purchase, may be combined with a question to that specific user as to why that purchase was not made. The answer may be, for example, be that the parents were unwilling to spend the sum of money required for that specific purchase.

The relationship of a user with his toy may also be used to study user satisfaction with their purchase. After a purchase is made, a user might be asked whether he enjoys the purchase. This question may be asked several times possibly days or weeks apart. Information about user satisfaction is thus gathered as time progresses. Thus, for example, it may be possible to determine the length of time a child is interested in a particular toy before becoming bored with it. This information is, as usual, correlated with the personal information about every individual user.

It is possible that the use of toy-user relationships for receipt of information be made voluntary. A user should be able to configure his computer so that the toy sends only certain information to a database and keeps other information private.

As discussed in previous sections, some toys in the system have the ability to function while they are away from their base station, and even whilst traveling. They communicate with the server via a mobile communication network. This network has the ability to track the location of the user and suggest products and services relevant to the location and other personal information about a specific user.

An Interactive Toy System ha,s the capability of tracking user location and storing this information. It is more likely that users will be willing to release this information than would be the case for users of cellular phones, as toys use this information to suggest products and services to their users. These products and services may have significant discounts, relevant to the current location of the user. In order to reduce user resistance of use and storage of such information, there is an option available to store this information in a less personalized manner. In such a case, user identity remains anonymous but only certain properties of the user such as, for example, age, gender and interests, are correlated with the movements of a user with his toy.

Toys provide a very effective method of market research about existing and future products. If, for example, a company would like to know whether a certain product would be accepted in a certain type of market, the company can arrange for the toys to ask questions to their users to learn about whether they would like such a product. Again a user's relationship with his toy plays an essential role here as well as the existing information in the database about user interests and consumer related habits.

The possibility that a toy is active even when its user is not interacting with it was discussed in previous sections. In this case, a toy may be passively "listening" to activities in a room, and, if equipped with light sensing or video camera equipment it may also be "watching" these activities. A toy may thus "learn" about activities of its user and his family, for example, by interjecting at certain points and asking about the type of game that they are playing.

The power of an interactive toy system's database may be greatly enhanced if its information is shared with other commercial or any other database. Thus, for example, an interactive toy system can benefit from receiving information about the users of cellular phones, not all of who will have toys, and the cellular phone companies benefit from receiving information from such an interactive toy system database. Such a database contains information received using one or many of the unique possibilities described above.

Interactive Toys as an R&D tool.

The unique information retrieval ability of a network of toys that was detailed in the previous section has a further application as a tool for Research and Development (R&D). It is possible to perform R&D in areas directly related to the functioning of toys in an interactive toy system. For example, research and development in, but not limited to, speech recognition, text to speech processing and shape recognition in computerized "vision". This R&D may be extremely useful for all commercial and other applications of these subjects. It is further possible to use a network of toys to do R&D in areas with other direct commercial applications such as, but not limited to, marketing, sales and advertising.

Finally it is possible to do research into areas with indirect commercial value such as, but not limited to methods of teaching various academic subjects, mechanisms by which children and adults learn and sociological behavior.

Speech processing, both voice recognition and text to speech, are areas which have very active R&D programs and which still require much work. Although there exist many techniques on the market for using the sound of a human voice and converting it into text and for taking text and converting it into various human voices, the results are still quite poor and the techniques require much improvement.

One of the most effective methods for suggesting which techniques work best is to have as many users as possible test the system, and to analyze in as much detail as possible the results of these tests. This holds true for directing researchers to new methods of speech recognition, and text to speech processing.

Interactive toy networks provide a unique opportunity for such tests. In such a system, there will be a huge number of users with different ages, languages, education levels and personalities. They listen to their toys and respond to them. Thus, for any speech generated from text by a user's computer, and then "spoken" by his toy, response of that user is stored and may be quantified (as to whether it is one of a variety of suitable responses). Furthermore when a user speaks, his computer's attempts to understand this speech can be recorded and tested by asking him further questions, which are designed to determine whether the speech was correctly understood.

Given the huge number of users expected to use this system, it may provide a huge database of information to help in choosing the best techniques for voice processing and for suggesting new techniques.

Another area for R&D using the network of toys is in Artificial Intelligence. There are a variety of methods in existence for simulating intelligent response to a human's conversation. More precisely a human speaks to a computer (either using voice or direct text input) and a computer analyzes the content of the speech, and attempts to respond to it in a manner that simulates the response of a human to the initial statement. Thus a computer carries on a conversation with a person. Although such methods exist they also require much improvement.

An interactive toy network system provides an opportunity for aiding this research by allowing a multitude of users to carry on such conversations with their toys. When toys respond to a user, the user's reaction to that toy's statement may be analyzed to determine whether that toy spoke in a reasonably human manner. Thus, for example, a user's response of "what did you say!" would indicate a failure of the toy to communicate in such a case. This information is then used to improve the Artificial Intelligence system.

An R&D application that was discussed several times in this document is the ability to analyze advertising, marketing and sales strategy. Thus, the enormous commercial network created by T-Commerce provides a huge testing ground for R&D in all areas concerned with advertising, marketing and sales.

Since toys in such an interactive toy system are used for education, a huge opportunity for all forms of research into education exists here. This includes research into which educational techniques are more effective, as well as, research to determine how children learn and develop. The toys can also be used to give informal tests to users, either standardized or individualized, as a researcher may see fit.

Some toys in such a system may have the ability to leam from their environment. Thus, for example, a toy may begin with a very limited vocabulary of words and phrases (possibly containing no words) and may attempt to repeat words and phrases that it hears. It may gauge user response to its or other toys' phrases. Thus, a toy acts in a similar way to a baby that is learning to speak. Thus, for example, a researcher may design such a learning system to suit his theory of how humans leam speech and then test this theory out on the toys to see how much the toys can learn using the given method.

Securing the T-Commerce Entertainment Network

Security issues unique to this type of network:

The network of toys described in this document requires an excellent security system. First of all, such network contains a database of user information including highly confidential personal information and commercial information including possibly credit card and bank information. Secondly there is a constant flow of information in this system, both content information, personal user information and credit card information. All this information needs to be secured.

Possibly the most dangerous of all security risks in our system is the potential for delivery of inappropriate content, especially to children. Inappropriate content includes primarily speech and action, which are either obscene or age inappropriate, but may also include unwanted inappropriate or unauthorized commercial content. Thus an advertiser may try to send an advertisement to a user without proper authorization, or which the user has specifically requested that he should not receive.

Fake scripts can be particularly dangerous. Imagine, for example, that due to a security violation, all toys say something horrible to all the children on the system at a particular moment. The reaction to such an event could harm the operation of such a system significantly, and causes damage to the system users.

Even if it is found out that such a system has been compromised, and it is turned off and fixed, there may still be some content that was already passed to the computers on the specific system. Thus the inappropriate content already exists in one or more users' computer, and it may be designed to cause damage at some later time. It is very difficult to fix all these systems since many of them will not be connected to the computer network and thus not all users will get the message that their system needs to be cleaned of inappropriate content.

This problem is especially serious since most users are likely to be children.

Preferred Security System for the Toy Network

The security system for such a network begins with the usual tight security of a properly secured computer system. All servers are behind "firewalls" which allow very limited and controlled access through the network. It is preferred that the database itself be stored on a device that is physically read-only so that it cannot be modified except by replacing the actual physical device.

All changes are preferably done on another computer, which later updates the full database. It is preferred that there is a mechanism for virus and intrusion detection, as well as encryption of information transfer whenever personal or other private information is being transferred on the network. The network may contain one or more private secure lines connecting the content providers to one or more servers, or connecting any other two sensitive parts of such a system to each other.

It is preferred that all the above standard security procedures be combined with what we have designated a system of "Multi-point, Adaptable, Context based Filters".

According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a network of filters is set up at many points in the network, which filter content. The content that is filtered includes both text and non-text content and will include sound files (which are filtered using voice recognition or using direct filtering of certain sound bites) as well as commands for actions to be taken by the toy.

A key feature of such filters is that they are context based. In other words, one may utilize a system's unique ability of having detailed information about who the sender and the receiver are supposed to be, and about who the receiver actually is. Thus one may know that this content is intended to be between Mickey Mouse™ and Furby™ or between Darth Vader and R2D2. The supposed age of the sending and receiving users is also known. This information enhances the filters. For example one may filter out a case in which Furby sends Mickey information about wars! Thus, besides simply having a security system based on user authentication, user content authentication may be based on the context of the message.

It is preferred that such a security system be adaptable. This means that it responds to its detailed knowledge of the current state of the system, and its users. Thus, for example, one can set up a system of alerts. So, for example, if there is no reason to be particularly concerned about exceptional security risks, the system might be on a low alert, which causes some default level of filtering to be used. However if the system is known to have been under attack, or if part of the system has been attacked with attempts to send inappropriate content, then the alert level can be changed. This may apply to all or in parts of this network, and both the general security and the filtering may be increased as required.

For example, a particular type of filter is described as follows: A filter which is placed at some point in the network receives input which includes the content itself together with information about the supposed sender and the intended recipient and the supposed type of content. It then queries the database on the server for characteristic features of sender and receiver (such as thee age of the user, personality of the toy, habits and interests of the user etc.) and requests further information about the type of content expected.

The database also knows the full history of alerts and security violations on the system as well as the experience of other parts of the system with such content. Thus, for example, suppose that a given user receives inappropriate content that is caught by one of the filters on his system. The system then informs the server that then updates the filter engine and, if necessary, it may disallow content from that particular sender until the situation is cleared. The filter then checks the current level of any alerts that exists and then decides whether the content should be passed. If it passes the content then the system just continues. If it decides that the content should not be passed it rejects the content and sends the content to the server with all the information it has about the incident. The server then decides whether to set an alarm. If it decides not to set an alarm it still stores all information about the incident. If an alarm is set, the server decides based on the history of all previous alarms whether there is a pattern to be concerned about and thus decides which filters are to be modified, at what level and for how long.

The server sends off the alarm codes to the affected filters and then decides whether human intervention is needed, whether users should be informed and whether users should be urged to reset their system. In a serious case users may have to be informed by telephone or mail if their network connection is consistently down.

It is preferred that for serious cases there may be available groups of people working in geographically separated areas which can check content manually. Thus when there are serious security alarms on the system, content can be sent to these people for analysis.

It is preferred that filters be placed at many points on such a network especially between the content providers and the system's server, at points within the server's system, between the server and the user and within the user's software on his computer. One of the key points to place a filter is at the final stage between a user's computer and the transmission unit that transmits the content to his toy. This final check can be incorporated in the hardware of the transmission unit to avoid any external tampering. This provides a final check for fake content.

One traditional method for securing content is the coding of information to make sure that the information sent is that being received (this is often called an electronic signature). This is not sufficient in this case since one can imagine a scenario in which a person working for a content provider is paid by a competitor to send false information. His signature is accepted despite the improper content of the information.

This invention preferably provides several methods to avoid this problem. First of all such a network of filters may filter out this unwanted information. Secondly it is possible to minimize the damage caused by this scenario by informing the user when he opens up the content that it comes directly from the content provider. The rest of the system is properly secured so that it is known that the user is receiving the content in its original form. Thus the content provider will be blamed for the inappropriate content rather than those responsible for the system's server.

It is also possible to have a filter that only passes certain pre-authorized content rather than rejecting inappropriate content. This is likely to be used only in special cases, in which there are exceptionally serious concerns about security. It is also possible to restrict inputs into a certain filter only to pre-approved persons.

If, for example, the content relates to a game being played then the previous results of the game can be used to help verify the content.

It is preferred that the level of filtering is configurable by a user, so that if, for example, a child user's parents want to use Furby to obtain some material appropriate to Darth Vader, they would be able to do so. Thus, with the parent's pennission, a child could use one toy to represent another toy with a totally different personality.

A System, Method and Service for the Promotion of Shopping Retail stores advertise to draw people to the stores. Once a person is in the store he or she is bound to buy more than they have intended to. Once a person becomes a customer it is much easier, and much less expensive, to sell him anything. All this is being changed by the Web (Internet):

The manufacturers bypass the retailers and sell directly to the consumers

It is much more difficult to develop and preserve loyal customers

The system and the service use the Web to drive buyers back to the physical stores. Furthermore, the system and the service are oriented towards children and children needs.

Toys and similar portable devices are used to convey promotional and advertising material to users, preferably in verbally interactive form, encourage the users to visit specific shops.

Fig. 19 describes the main parts of the system. The system comprises a toy or a similar device having a fanciful appearance. The toy incorporates a controller that controls the peripheral components of the toy (see Fig. 20 below) and is in wireless communication, via a radio transceiver, with a home computer. Alternatively the toy controller can communicate with a mobile entertainment server via a mobile public communication network, such as a cellular network. Alternatively the toy controller can communicate with a local public server serving a store or a mall, via a local communication network such as a PCS service, CT3 network (such as DECT) or a proprietary network similar or the same as the wireless communication network operated by the home computer at home. Therefore the toy can communicate with a controlling computer in the home, at the street and in the store or mall. The controlling computer hosts the software that operates the toy and the content delivered via the toy to the user. Practically the user interacts with the entertainment content provided and processed by the controlling computer. Content, or entertainment content in this respect includes games, information, education material, promotion and advertising materials.

Fig. 21 describes the main entities of the systems and the main communications between them. The main entities are:

1. The computer (server) controlling the toy at the place where the toy is in the time of operation.

2. The computer (server) of the entity that provides the entertainment content that the user has selected. 3. The computer (server) of the entity that provides the promotional or advertising material to be communicated to the user with the selected content.

4. The network supervising computer (An interactive toy server's maintenance server).

The system can track the whereabouts of the user whenever the toy is operative and in communication range with a controlling computer. The controlling computers, namely the home computer, the public mobile network computer and the store/mall computers, are synchronized by the network supervising computer so that the user and her toy can roam between them.

The Toy

Fig. 21 describes a possible implementation of the toy part of the present invention. The toy comprises sensors such as touch sensitive sensors, position sensors, motion sensors and light sensors, actuators such as motors and solenoids, speaker and microphone. The controlling computer can transmit to the toy controller audio content, including speech, to be produced by the speaker and can receive from the toy controller audio, including speech, collected by the microphone. The controlling computer can process the recorded audio by means of speech recognition software. The controlling computer can therefore operate the toy and provide the user fully interactive content, comprising bi-directional verbal communication with motions and gestures of the toy.

Figs. 22 and 23 are block diagrams of the computer (300 and 430 respectively), the toy controller (330 and 520 respectively) and the radio base station (320 and 450 respectively). The two figures differ in the connection between the radio base station and the computer, where Fig. 22 describes a connection via a sound board and Fig. 24. describes a connection via the computer's serial or parallel ports.

A personal companion

One advantage of the present invention is that the toy becomes a personal companion of the user, typically a child.

Personification

To support and enhance the personal touch of the toy each toy has a persona. The persona can be an imaginative character (like a cartoon character) or a celebrity. The entertainment content processed by the controlling computer is adapted to the persona of the toy. Personalization

The user identifies himself to the toy, typically as a part of the entertainment content. The controlling computer hosts information about the user that is being collected continuously by all entertainment content. This personal information is used by the every entertainment content to further improve the personal touch of the toy. Personalization, namely the introduction of user characteristics and preferences to the computer, is typically performed via the computer terminal (or monitor). Fig. 24 presents a sample personalization screen.

General operation of the system

Figs 25 to 29 describe in a general form of block diagrams the main processes that take place in the system to distribute the relevant content and advertising materials to the appropriate users.

Send to store

The objective of the promotional and advertising materials provided by the toy to the user is to encourage the user to visit specific stores. Typically the promotional and advertising material is embedded within the entertainment content. For example, the toy can tell a story of a prince and a princess throwing a feast and mention a present the child can receive at the nearest food parlor. Alternatively, when it is time for lunch and the child is nearing a food parlor the toy can complain that it is hungry and would like to eat the delicious hamburger available around the corner.

Alternatively the content may comprise a game where, when it is time for lunch, and the user is approaching a food parlor, the toy can complain that it is hungry and would like to eat the delicious hamburger available around the corner.

The points are collected and the user gets a prize. Points can be earned in many ways including finding a treasure in a store (gets child into the store to look and then encourages purchase). Toy may have point of sale toys or just the computer but the child brings bis toy to verify he was there. An interactive toy server bills advertiser for getting child to store.

Since the system and the service are deployed in the home, the street and the store (or mall) advertising is provided practically continuously and personally. The system and the service are capable of "Advertise on the move" through the toy to the user (in verbal form) according to user profile, preferences, location and buying pattern (personal and statistical characteristics). Sources of revenues

While the store increases its revenues from new and from frequent customers the other parties of the network also benefit. The toy vendor, the content an interactive toy server, the advertising agency and the service operator (herein below collectively "the parties") collect revenues from various sources such as the selling of advertising space or a commission on the sale made by the store.

Identify the client to the store as an interactive toy server's referral.

Since the promotion and advertising is personal the parties can collect revenues for successful advertising. A success can be defined as an actual sale and the revenues to the parties will be a commission on the sale. The success can also be defined as the user entry to the store (or mall). To achieve this goal the user has to be identified at the store and to the store. Furthermore identifying the specific advertising and the content in which the advertising was embedded enables specific distribution of the advertising revenues between the parties.

An interactive toy is preferably operative to perform at least one or more of the following:

1) Identify transaction in the store for billing commission;

2) Track personal buying patterns;

3) Identify purchased product or service and associate interests and successive buying possibilities for further advertising and promotion;

4) Create promotional programs and content;

5) Develop and maintain "buyers clubs" and coupons;

6) Integrate at home and out-of-home advertising and "couponing" systems;

7) Use "pet-toy" to locate and identify user-buyer;

8) Operate in store/mall wireless communication infrastructure (multiport) - less costly air-time, more accurate location; and

9) Use SMS (short message service) for short advertising.

Pay Content Toys There are many known products available on a pay-as-you-order basis. These include films and videos, which may be downloaded from the Internet, or via other electronic systems. Other items include music, MP3, games, Internet products, and the like. Similarly, there are many known services, which are provided on a pay-per- item basis. These include wake-up services, advice services, information services, and the like.

Interactive networked toys are known, and are described in numerous US provisional patent applications, and US patent applications as described herein.,

A preferred embodiment of the present invention describes the use of networked interactive toys in providing items to one or more users. These are preferably on a "pay-per-item" basis.

The network comprises one, or preferably many, interactive toys each of which is located at a "site" which may be a home, an office, a retail store, a shopping mall, an entertainment outlet (such as an amusement park) or at any other location. Each such site preferably contains either one or many computers, which may be connected by a local network, as well as one or many interactive toys. Each toy may be connected via any form of wireless communication (including, but not limited to radio and infrared) with one or more of the computers at the site (see Fig. 1). It is desirable but not essential that each toy uses one such site and one computer on this site as its "home base".

Toys may be equipped with one or more controllers with wireless communication with one or more computer systems. Wireless communication may be achieved by providing toys with a cellular, or other, mobile phone, or with some or all of the hardware contained in a cellular phone, or with some other wireless systems.

Interactive toys, preferably containing a cellular phone or other wireless communicator, preferably dial a computer on a phone network, for example. This may be a central server of a cellular phone network; a central server dedicated to serving toys, one or more user's home computer, or any other computer, which is capable of connecting to a phone network. It is preferred that such a computer be then connected to a global network such as the Internet. Such a configuration allows communication with other computers, and with other computer controlled interactive toys.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive cell -phone toy contains a cell phone, which has direct Internet connections, and appropriate hardware.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy runs on batteries. A toy is preferably fully active when batteries are being recharged and/or it is plugged into a charger. In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a toy operates using one or more solar panels.

Interactive toys preferably have interactive speaking, listening and sensing functionality, as described in the patent applications mentioned above.

An interactive toy may be equipped with one or more speakers, microphones, sensors and actuators (solenoids, motors, and lights) and the like. These control the motion and other abilities of the toy. Interaction with one or more users is mainly but not entirely verbal using speech, recognition technology processed by the computer, which may be remote from the toy. A user may be able to adjust the audible level (volume) of the toy. Interactive toys may be able to communicate in one or more languages. Alternative systems for the hard of hearing are described below.

An interactive toy may have a screen such as an LCD screen for viewing information or it may transfer information to the user through sound (possibly using text-to-speech technology) and motions. An interactive toy may also be equipped with one or more video cameras, which can be used either passively to send pictures over the network or actively to identify the environment of the user using software on the computer. Figs. 2 & 3 show this schematically.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive cell-phone toy has a keypad for input of phone numbers and other information though this function can also be performed using speech combined with voice recognition.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, transaction of sales and/or services is performed employing voice recognition codes.

TOY MODULARITY

Interactive toys may be built modularly, such that there will be different basic interior electronic components, reflecting the cost and range of functions of the toy as defined by design, producers and/or by toy users. The exterior parts, "externals", henceforth, are also modular. They can be removed, updated, and exchanged to suit user requirements. Externals are designed to envelop any of the modular inner component configurations. In another preferred embodiment of this invention, interactive toy externals are "camouflaged" in ordinary objects such as a bicycle helmet or schoolbag. The toy may have a casing of a known or unknown toy personality, or in a soft toy. Users choose the complexity and modular internals and externals of their toys, and hence, their price. In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a toy's exterior and interior parts can be upgraded/downgraded according to user requirement.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a baby safe design version is available.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a waterproof, rustproof external option is available.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, an Interactive Toy System- preferred equipment supplier defines toy user requirements

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a toy and its modular sensors and gadgets, are matched to the requirements of a specific user by an Interactive Toy Server-preferred equipment supplier.

In yet another preferred embodiment of this invention, the requirements of a specific user are defined for the purpose of providing a "tailor-made" toy and accessories, sensors and gadgets to suit a user's specific requirements. The matching of is preferably carried out by a professional person providing services via an Interactive Toy System Numerous gadgets, sensors and accessories may be added to the basic toy. Some sensors are described in previous US Provisional patent applications mentioned .above (such as Networked Interactive Toys Providing Medical Services, sent for filing on 6th April, 2000). The gadgets, sensors, and accessories described herein serves to exemplify the large range of possibilities for adaptation to interactive toys, but is not limited to the specific sensors, gadgets and accessories mentioned here.

INTERACTIVETOY SYSTEMVOICE BANKS

Interactive Toy System servers were described in one or more applications mentioned above. In a preferred embodiment of this invention, an Interactive Toy System server may have a voice bank. A server may allocate one or more voices to each toy. The server may push a toy to speak, apparently at random times, and try to market produces, services and the like.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy may "stick to the conversation" of its user(s), or may intentionally change the subject, and/or add new elements to the currently running conversation. An interactive toy may thus be able to push many products and or services, which were not directly related to conversation responses. An interactive toy may imitate one or more persona when talking to its user. This is preferably related to the appearance of the toy.

TOY HAS VOICE RECOGNITION FUNCTIONALITY.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy is adapted to one or several users according to their language abilities, and may identify them according to their voice using known voice recognition software.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a toy sets off an alarm if after defined time his user is silent /missing, but a stranger speaks to him.

TOY HAS MOVEMENT FUNCTIONALITY.

Toys may have movement functionality, which may be coordinated with their speaking function, as described previously. An interactive toy may have breathing, phrasing, and intonation simulation functionality.

TOY HAS REAL-TIME CONVERSATIONS WITH USER.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, a toy employs artificial intelligence systems, as described in previous applications, and toy simulates real-time human conversation.

TOY HAS A JOKE PROVISION FUNCTION

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive toy server provides the toy with access to a joke-bank. In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a toy interactively entertains its user with jokes on subjects or words mentioned by the user.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, one or more interactive toy improves user's mood with humor.

TOY HAS MUSIC PROVISION FUNCTION.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, a toy provides classical /popular/other music according to user -defined preferences with respect to style/type/artist etc.

TOY IS PERSONIFIED.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, one of many set-ups of externals and internals of the toy may match voice and intonation of one, or multiple personas, or may appear as randomly generated persona.

TOYS INTERPRET CHANGES IN SPEECH PATTERN OF USERS.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention', a toy monitors speech pattern of one or more users. This includes monitoring of user tone of voice, speech rate, volume of speech, and the like.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a toy responds interactively to changes in tone of voice, speech rate, loudness of speech of user.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a toy activates an alarm system, should any of the parameters being monitored by the sensing features (described in previous applications mentioned above) show some anomaly.

INTERACTIVE TOY IS LINKED UP TO SENSORS

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, one or more interactive toys are linked up to sensors, which monitor parameters and provide indication of user behavior and/or status.

Interactive toys may also be able to send electronic mail and facsimiles via their own hardware.

Fig. 30 describes mobile interactive toys and their associated network. One or more interactive toys containing cellular phones dial a computer on a phone network, for example. This may be a central server of a cellular phone network; a central server dedicated to serving toys, one or more user's home computer, or any other computer, which is capable of connecting to a phone network. It is preferred that such a computer be then connected to a global network such as the Internet. Such a configuration allows communication with other computers, and with other computer controlled interactive toys.

Fig. 31 shows schematically that an interactive toy may be equipped with one or more speakers, microphones, sensors and actuators (solenoids, motors, and lights) and the like. These control the motion of the toy. Interaction with one or more users may be verbal using speech recognition technology processed by the computer, which may be remote from the toy.

An interactive toy may have a screen such as an LCD screen for viewing information or it may transfer information to the user through sound (possibly using text-to-speech technology) and motions. An interactive toy may also be equipped with one or more video cameras, which can be used either passively to send pictures to the network or actively to identify the environment of the user using software on the computer.

Fig. 32 shows schematically interactions between an interactive toy and its surroundings. It may use a direct link to its computer while at home, and a cellular network, which away from home.

Fig. 33 shows a schematic of the hardware in the situation described in Fig. 32.

Fig. 34 describes the numerous ways in which an interactive toy may access information. This may be directly via wired/unwired connection to a telephone network, via unwired cell-phone connection, or directly to Internet or the like. It may be indirectly via a home computer to Internet web-sites, such as information and item providing services, Interactive toy support services or other database, or computer connected up to a telephone network or cell-phone network, or the like. It may be indirectly via an interactive toy server to a cell-phone network, telephone network, or Internet, or the like. These, in turn may be linked up to item provider and/or Interactive Toy company's databases/telephones and the like. It may be indirectly via a home computer or other computer linked up to an interactive toy server, which links up to cell-phone network, telephone network, or Internet system or the like, or via any other similar combination.

Fig. 35 describes a typical method by which a networked interactive toy provides items to its user, preferably employing a "pay-per-item" system. This may employ one-word-buy authorization of payments. A user asks to hear a Mozart opera. The toy accesses information in a number of ways, as described in Fig. 34. Its sources of information may be web- sites, web-TV, yellow pages, local service providers, stores, and the like. The toy makes several suggestions to the user about purchasing a disc, listening to music via the user's home computer, or via the toy, itself. The toy also provides music in the form of an imitation of a known singer. The toy also pushes sales of tickets to a local opera. The user then decides which offers to take up, if any. If he decides against them all, then the toy will ask him for new ideas. Equally, the toy may provide the user with new ideas.

If the user decides to take up offers made by the toy, then he is charged for items supplied. The Interactive Toy System transfers payment to the item suppliers and then charges commission to the item supplier(s) for the service that the Interactive Toy System has provided in providing customers and transfer of payment, for example.

When user has paid for items provided, and Interactive Toy System received its commission, the user receives the items (it may be a matter of a few seconds before all payment transactions occur, particularly if all are pre-authorized).

Fig. 36 describes a typical method by which a networked interactive toy finds a suitable diet for its user. The user asks the toy for a' crash diet, for example. The toy accesses information from the Internet/web TV/ yellow pages, for example. It finds options, which fit the user requirements and location, and then verbally suggests them to the user. The user may choose one or more of these options, or may ask for other suggestions. In this particular example, the user decides to take up the offer of ready- made low calorie meals from "Trim-Food". The Interactive Toy System charges for the item provided, transfers payment to the item provider, and when all payments have been transferred, the user receives the item.

Fig. 37 describes a typical conversation of a toy and its user. The toy tries to control the user's eating habits by stopping him from eating food, which is not on his diet, and to encourage him to stay on his diet. Such diets are personalized. A networked interactive toy is able to use information gathered previously concerning its user to persuade the user in a very personalized and individual way to stick to his diet. For, example, the toy has information about the marital status, age, behavior, occupation, and income of its user. The toy thus suggests that he will report the user's behavior to his wife. This is enough to stop the user from indulging in strawberry shortcake.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, an interactive networked toy provides its user with items on a "Pay-per-item" basis. A "Pay-per-item" basis means that the user pays for each item received via an interactive toy server, via that same server. An interactive toy server may charge item providers commission for business provided from toy users. Examples of such items are shown, but are not limited to, those in Fig. 38. These items include products and services.

For example, a user who takes his toy on holiday may use his toy as a personalized tour guide. When in Copenhagen, he may ask the toy to take him from the little Mermaid down past the harbor, to Amalienborg Palace to see the changing of the guards, walk to the Opera House, stroll down Str get, and to tell him how to walk to Tivoli Gardens. The toy's server charges the user for this service, and may charge commission to Tivoli for bringing clientele.

Another example is when a user asks an Interactive Toy System to take care of all his home accounting. All bills are preferably sent to an Interactive Toy System address. The Interactive Toy System accounting service pays the bills following pre- authorization by the user, and the Interactive Toy System charges the user a certain fee or percentage on each bill, which the Interactive Toy System handled.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a toy pushes its user to acquire items or to use services. This is preferably on a "Pay-per-item" basis. A toy may suggest to its user to link-up to a specific web-site and purchase a specific item. Items include products and services.

For example, a toy may suggest to a user who likes country music to listen to the voice of a certain artist. This may be based on the prior purchasing history of that user. Such information is personalized. It is preferably known and recorded by an Interactive Toy System database. A toy may use such information to strategically market items to a user. For example, John Smith previously purchased CDs of Joan Boez, MP3 tracks of Elton John, and video tapes of live concerts of the BeeGees™. Based on this information, his toy tries to market Carole King and Leonard Cohen concerts to him.

For example, Bill Gites goes to Spain once a year for his summer holidays, and books his tickets from Espania tours via his toy. His toy then tries to sell him a short course in Spanish from a language school, a new set of luggage shortly before his journey, and car rental for the duration of his stay in Spain.

Billing for T-Commerce Introduction to Billing:

T-Commerce is a process by which a consumer, preferably a child, uses a toy to buy something. The object bought may be a physical product, content, service, etc. that will be collectively named herein "the goods". There are several reasons that make T-Commerce billing considerably different from any other billing process, including evolving Internet billing mechanisms and methods:

A) The buyer is a child and is legally not accountable financially

B) The point of sale is a toy and the interaction is preferably verbal

C) The process may have several parts that take place in different places at different times.

The entity the provides the budget for the child is usually a parent but may also be a grand parent, a relative or a friend of the family or the child offering a gift, a charity organization, a commercial sponsor by way of a gift, a prize or a promotion, etc.

The objective of the financing entity is to provide a well-oriented and well- measured budget that will still be manageable by the child. Namely, the budget will be used for specific goals and will be spent at a certain rate and distribution. For example: the budget will allow the child will be able to buy music, downloaded from the Internet and played by the toy. The music can be limited to a specific type (classic, country) or make (singer, publisher) and no more than one piece of music per day.

The system supports intentional and unintentional buying. Intentional buying occurs when the child knows that he or she is buying something. This will always be true for physical goods. However, in some cases, content can be purchased unintentionally. For example:

A)The parent purchased for the child a weather report each morning.

B) The child is allowed ten jokes per week, but when the child selects to hear a joke the child does not know that he or she is actually buying the joke. However, when the limit is reached the child will not be offered to hear jokes for the rest of the week. The Players

Several players take part in the process:

1. The user preferably a child, makes the purchase

2. The financial provider preferably a parent, sets the purchasing rules and pays the bills

3. The source vendor produces the entities on sale, may sell directly or through a retailer, receives the major share of the payment

4. The retailer from which the entity was bought, may store the entity and deliver to the user or order delivery from the source vendor, receives a major share of the revenues, in most cases forward the source vendor its share of the revenues

5. The operator provides the communication infrastructure

6. The advertiser provides user oriented content with advertising payload.

Receives advertising fee and/or commission on the transaction.

7. The affiliate web site that referenced the buyer to the retailer. Receives commission on the transaction.

8. Financial Service a bank, credit card service, etc. that actually bills the financial provider and provides the funds to the appropriate parties.

The financial provider is usually a parent or a custodian that serves as the primary financial provider. Other financial providers may be a grand parent, a relative or a friend of the family or the child offering a gift, a charity organization, a commercial sponsor by way of a gift, a prize or a promotion, etc,' herein below secondary financial provider. The difference between the primary and the secondary financial providers is that the primary provider is able to control the budgets and budgeting rules of the secondary providers.

In many cases the source vendor and the retailer are the same entity.

The operator provides the communication infrastructure, supports and secures the communication between the other players. However the operator is an optional entity and the system can function without it. The operator is particularly useful to cumulate, aggregate and distribute revenues, commissions and other benefits between the parties involved (such as the source vendor, retailer, affiliate, advertiser, etc.) Preferably the operator aggregates micro-payments and then processes sizable transactions effectively. The operator sends billing data to the financial services, collects the funds and distributes them between the other parties. The operator receives operating fee and/or commission on the transaction.

The affiliate is also an optional player.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, a billing system is devised with the following features: it provides means to budget a person that is not accountable financially. It further preferably provides means to control the budget automatically, based on a free set of spending rule. It further preferably provides means for secondary financial providers to provide financing, including budget details and budgeting rules, and enable the primary financing provider to control the budget details and budgeting rules of the secondary financial providers.

It preferably further provides means to cumulate and distribute revenues, commissions and other benefits (financial and other) between the parties such as the source vendor, retailer, affiliate, advertiser and operator.

Accounting Mechanism

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention, there is an accounting mechanism, which is made of an inter-linked set of accounts, where each account is a data structure that can be processed by a computer. In a preferred implementation of the current invention the computer is the computer that controls the toy. However the computer can alternatively, or additionally, be the computer provided by the operator or be distributed between the buy-side computer (that controls the toy), the operator's computer and the vendor's/retailer's computer. There are two major types of accounts: buy-side accounts and sell side accounts. According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, some or all of the following accounts are provided:

Buy-side Accounts

One objective of a preferred embodiment of the present invention is to provide a mechanism for the financial provider to set the budgets and budgeting rules for the user (child). In the preferred implementation of the current invention the mechanism is provided by a set of buy-side accounts.

Fig. 39 describes an example of a computer screen for user account management. One way of setting the buy-side accounts is by means of the display of the computer that controls the toy . This method is oriented for the use of the primary financial provider, namely the parent. Another means for setting buy-side accounts, which is useful for secondary financial providers, is via the Internet.

Secondary financial providers may provide budgets and budgeting rules in an automatic online method (e.g. via the Internet) in two modes:

A parent can define an account that is open to receive budgeting data from a specific secondary financial provider. Any number of such receptacle accounts can be opened.

A parent can define an account that will poll budgeting data from a specific web site of a secondary financial provider. Any number of such receptacle accounts can be opened.

Child Account

A child may have one or more accounts to which procurements are billed. A child account is associated with one or more sources of goods. When the child places an order for specific goods from a specific vendor the associated account is billed, if the account permits the buy. The account can be set to permit buying of specific goods at certain sums and frequency. Fig. 40A shows three independent Child Accounts for music content.

A child account can be linked to another child account to provide multi-level limits. For example, the child can be allowed to buy content, such as music or songs, from three sources, but can not spend more than $10 a week and not more than $5 per week from any of the sources. Fig. 40B shows a tree-like linking of three vendor specific Child Accounts linked to a master, subject specific, child account. Parent Account

A child account preferably is always linked to a parent account. Several child accounts can be linked to one parent account. Different child accounts can be linked to different parent accounts. A child account can be linked to more than one parent account. Usually parent account belongs to the child's parent, however in some cases a parent account can belong to an organization (such as kindergarten or school) or a merchant. Fig. 40C shows a child account that is linked to three parent accounts, all providing music content.

The parent account contains the link to the Commercial Account (see below) and usually a commercial account is linked to only one parent account. Parent accounts are used to cumulate micro-payments to same commercial accounts. Child accounts of different children can be linked to the same parent account. Parent accounts can also be linked to other parent accounts to provide family- wide budget limits. Fig. 41 presents a screen display for managing a parent account of a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

Commercial Account

A parent account is preferably always linked to a Commercial Account from which funds are drawn to execute the payments. Commercial account can be regular financial accounts such as a bank account or a credit card account or service accounts such as ISP (Internet Service Provider) or telephone operator accounts.

Credit Account

Credit Account is a type of a child account that enables the parent to set limits on the spending budget of a child.

Debit Account

Debit Account is a pre-paid child account. Pre-payment of a debit account is usually executed once, either by a parent or by a sponsor, but it can also be executed automatically, periodically, from a parent account.

Subscription Account Subscription Account is a periodically pre-paid child account that is usually associated with a certain program or a service from a specific vendor or retailer.

Coupon Account

Coupon Account is a pre-paid child account provided by a sponsor for specific type of goods. Sell Side Accounts

Merchant Account A Merchant is an entity that receives that payment from the Operator - namely An interactive toy server. The merchant has an account with the Operator and the Operator can credit the account with payment funds received from the buyer and debit the account if the buyer has waived the transaction (charge-back).

There are three main types of merchants:

Vendor: the entity that sold the goods: an original provider of the goods (source vendor), a distributor, a retailer, etc. Carrier: the entities that provided the background for the transaction and share a commission: the toy manufacturer, the advertiser, the content provider in which the advertising has been inserted, etc. Affiliate: a third party that took part in the transaction by referring the child to the advertising, etc., by sponsoring, via a (joined) coupon account, etc.

The system described in this invention preferably comprises of a multitude of interactive toys. These toys are individually placed at a "site" which may be a home, an office, a retail store, a shopping mall, an entertainment outlet (such as an amusement park), or at any other location. Each such site contains either one or many computers (or, alternatively, any other computing device such as a Web-TV or a Web-Cable controller which allows connection to another computer on a network), which may be connected by a local network. Each such site also contains one or many toys, each of which may be connected via any form of wireless communication (including, but not limited to radio and infrared), with one or more of the computers at the site. It is desirable but not essential that each toy uses one such site and one computer on this site as its "home base".

It is preferred that each computer at a site communicates with one or more toys, and is connected to a network or to a series of interconnected networks. Such a computer may have software running on it, which may utilize one or more networks, in order to perform the various functions described in this document. A diagrammatic representation of the system is shown in Fig. 42.

Fig. 42 shows pictorially that preferably some or all of the toys on a network may have the capability to communicate with a wireless network such as, but not limited to, one or more existing cellular networks or satellite networks. A cellular phone or hardware-containing cellular phone technology connects a user to any server or Internet Service Provider on the cellular phone network. Any one of these servers or a user's home computer, when connected to a network may be the server for the toy's functions.

When the toy is within range of one of a system's sites, it may switch from using this global wireless network to using a local computer at the site. A toy with this capability would also be capable of using all the features of Mobile Commerce and such a system's server, or any other server, could provide remote computer services to the user. A remote toy could also help direct a user to a specific retail or service location, such as the nearest Fast Food Restaurant, or the like, or the nearest movie theatre, showing a particular movie.

Fig. 43 shows an example of how such a system encourages users to bring their toys to specific locations, in order to obtain discounts. Such an interactive toy system receives a fee or commission for bringing each and every user to each and every retail or service establishment.

Fig. 44 shows yet another example of how such a system encourages users to bring their toys to specific locations, in order to obtain discounts. Such an interactive toy system receives a fee or commission for bringing each and every user to each and every retail or service establishment.

Fig. 45 shows a simplified flowchart of a simplified example of interactive responsive advertising.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention a toy interactively advertises products using a fixed script which uses voice interaction as well as possibly interaction via other sensors and/or actuators located on the toy.

Fig. 46 shows how the system uses other users and their toys as part of the sales force. Fig. 47 shows an example of a toy generating its own responses based on previous statements by or actions of the user using, for example, the Artificial Intelligence system.

Fig. 48 shows an example of a conversation, taking the form of a game, between a user and a toy which advertises a product.

A conversation between a user and a toy which advertises a product may take the form of a game

Fig. 49 describes a typical conversation of a toy with a user, in which the toy identifies certain key words employing speech recognition, and uses them to advertise items to the user. A toy may up certain key words, phrases or actions it can recognize in the course of an interaction with its user or between its user and any other person or object. In response to such words, phrases or actions, the toy presents to its user advertising related to the current situation.

Fig. 50 shows an example of the toy introducing a user (child) to a media character in a store to promote further items to the user. An interactive toy placed in a store or other retail establishment selectively recommends one or more of various products offered by the store. The toy then analyzes the user's response and, depending the user's response, directs a user (and possibly his parents if the user is a child) to a part of the store where the specific product required by the child may be found.

Fig. 51 shows an example in which a toy advertises a new toothpaste for children in reaction to a conversation between a mother and a child at a dinner. One preferred sales strategy used by the toy to promote one or more products and/or services is modified by the toy in response to responses by one or more users to previous conversations or previous portions of the same conversation with one or more toys.

It is preferred that the script or other program used by an interactive toy can be updated so that the advertising strategy can be changed. Thus, for example, an interactive toy in a store can be programmed to interactively advertise a single product and can be updated whenever a new product requiring advertising, arrives in the store..

An interactive toy becomes a point of attraction for shoppers in a store or a shopping center. While continuously attracting their attention the toy possibly advertises a different product depending on the needs and interests of the shopper as determined by conversation and other interaction with him.

Interactivity between, for example, a shopper and a toy at a shopping center, which represents a famous media character, can add significantly to the effectiveness of advertising presented by the toy. This method of advertising also familiarizes users with characters with which they are not familiar.

The cartoon-like features and behavior of interactive toys attract the attention of children and other people more easily than either a human salesman or a character in ordinary advertising such as in a television commercial. Thus visits to a store are made more pleasurable encouraging sales and future visits. The ITS (Interactive Toy Server) may receive commissions on all sales promoted by interactive toys on the network.

Networking of toys further enhances the effect of interactive advertising in the following ways:

1. Diverse advertising content may be written by many authors including prominent and highly talented advertising agencies.

2. Content may be controlled by a central server both for security and appropriateness of content.

3. Interactivity of the advertising by networked toys may be context based. A networked interactive toy can suggest products based not only on the response of the user but also on its knowledge of the user's environment including recent conversations.

4. Use may also be made of an extensive database on the Interactive Toy Server which includes the user's hobbies, likes and dislikes as well as the life history of the toy.

5. Use may also be made using the aforementioned database of the life experience of all toys on the network.

6. Fig. 51 shows an example in which a toy advertises a new toothpaste for children in reaction to a conversation between a mother and a child at a dinner table. Interactive advertising may thus elegantly enter casual, domestic situations, and win approval of advertising with a toy.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention an interactive toy is equipped with additional sensors and actuators which allow for multiple ways in which the toy may react to a user's input. These sensors and actuators may be used in an advertising context. For example, on being dressed in fancy clothes, a doll may advertise fashion products.

Fig. 52 describes an example of a toy responding to an external situation and advertising a product to a user A toy may, for example, recommend new music compact discs if a certain type of music is being played in the background. In another preferred embodiment of this invention the interactive toy is connected to a mobile communication network. Mobility of an interactive toy expands the possibilities for context-based interaction. One reason for this is that a mobile communication network may know the location of a user. Thus an interactive toy may suggest products and firms that can be found near the current or expected location of a user. Information about location may also be combined with input from other sensors to create livelier outdoors interaction.

Interactive advertising contributes to a relationship which is gradually developed between a toy and its user. A user is more likely to be influenced by an interactive toy that acts as a friend. In this way, the interactive toy becomes a personal salesman that acts on the behalf of its user. Users will prefer such a personal salesman whose suggestions are relevant to situations in their lives.

Interactive advertising contributes to the life experience of every participating toy. This enhances the individuality of the toy and contributes greatly to the life experience database as well as to a database which keeps track of all sales experience of toys thus making this database much more valuable commercially.

A networked interactive toy system contains connections between each toy and a central database. Information can be stored about each and every user including basic personal information submitted during registration. The system may store additional information obtained by observing the interaction between a user and a toy. This growing database information can than be used to improve interaction and give the user's relationship with his toy many unique characteristics.

The personal profile developed by the aforementioned database enhances interactive advertising. A personal profile of a user may include information about his habits, likes and dislikes. This kind of information can be used to suggest one or more new products. For example, a toy might suggest that its user watch a new film on television by reminding the user of his habit of normally watching a related television program at that particular time.

A personal profile can include a history of a user's purchases and response to advertising. Information of this kind can be used for deciding upon the advertising strategy that is more likely to influence a particular user.

The storage of information about particular users is but one of the uses of a central database. A networked interactive toy system with a large number of users worldwide has the advantage of gradually developing information about collective trends. Through continuous interaction with many users through many toys, a networked system can learn a great deal about the behavior of its users in a relatively short period of time. Database information can be sliced according to characteristics such as age-group and geographical location and statistical information can be compiled about the advertising strategies most suited to each of these groups as well as on their shopping habits. Thus, in the course of time, a toy connected to this system can interact with its user in new and surprising ways. This helps to create a more exciting and humanlike interaction and thus also to expand the possibilities of interactive advertising.

Fig. 53 shows an example of a scenario in which a toy may attempt to guess a user's preference. For example, once a user rejects a certain product, the toy may attempt to guess the user's preference. A successful guess would make interaction with the toy more fascinating. An unsuccessful guess may be used to update the database and help to increase the chances of a successful guess in the future.

In this way, the whole system may develop as a single big organization of salesmen who share information and improve advertising strategies. During a conversation between a user and a toy the entire database of user, sales and life history of some or all toys on the system may be available. Thus the product to be advertised as well as the advertising strategy as a whole may be changed within the course of the same conversation. This results in a much more personalized interaction between a toy and a user. The interaction does not take the form of a simple choosing from a preexisting list of products and strategies. It rather takes the form of a more humanlike conversation in which an advertising toy comes up with strategy unique to its user.

The entertainment content for Networked Interactive Toys may contain "embedded advertising". For example a toy may, during a conversation related to entertainment content, use the name of a recognizable product in a manner which seems random but which suggests to the user that the product which has been mentioned is more desirable than other products.

The sales pitch which the toy uses may become more focused as the toy learns more about the user's needs and desires. This may occur during a given conversation. Thus, for example, a toy may begin by suggesting sports items in general and when the toy hears that the user is mostly interested in tennis (possibly at the time of the given conversation) the toy discusses tennis equipment. Soon when the toy finds out or realizes that the child's budget is very limited it suggests new tennis balls which the user then may accept. A major advantage of this focused advertising is that it limits the amount of advertising to which a user is subjected by being more selective about which advertisements any given user hears.

Credit Point System:

A preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises a method of carrying out commercial transactions related to a system of Networked Interactive Toys using credit points either exclusively or in addition to credit cards and other forms of payment as well as a method by which such toys enable and encourage users to visit commercial and other web sites.

The system of Networked Interactive Toys has been described in the preceding sections of this document. It is preferred that Interactive Toys are used as the main advertisers and salesmen in all transactions described below. Alternatively a toy may send a user to a physical computer screen on which software (such as a Web Browser or other software) is running which allows the user to be involved in commercial transactions. The toy may continue to interact with the user even while the user is using the computer's screen directly. It is through a toy's unique ability to enable commercial transactions (as described in the previous sections) that we are preferably able to make the system described by this invention more profitable, more useful, more efficient and more friendly to the user.

When dealing with interactive toys; especially when using speech as the method of communication, it is often inconvenient and sometimes unreliable to use precise amounts of money for transactions. This is especially the case when users of the toys are small children. A "credit point" system for payment is very useful in these and similar circumstances.

The interaction of a user with a toy is often in the form of a game. The use of points as opposed to the transfer of money enhances the feeling of a game which exists between a user and a toy.

Users are assigned credit points which have commercial value.

Users may receive a certain number of credit points when their toy is registered with the Interactive Toy Server (ITS). Credit points may be bought by a user or, in the case of children or other individuals who are not able to handle their own finances, they may be bought by the user's parent or guardian.

Credit points may be purchased by an individual who may or may not be a toy user and then given as a gift to a toy owner. This gift may either be transferred only via the computer system (i.e. virtually) or a gift certificate may be issued to be physically given to the user. The above two methods may user or, in the case of a child or other individual who cannot handle money (such as a mentally handicapped be combined so that the points are available to the user immediately while the physical certificate serves only as notification.

It is preferred that users be given credit points for performing a variety of tasks which are of commercial benefit to the Interactive Toy System (ITS). Examples of such tasks are:

A) listening to advertising

B) purchasing products sold by the ITS advertisers

C) encouraging a friend to buy an Interactive Toy or content for such a toy

D) allowing certain information (such as, for example, details of the interaction between the toy and user or any other information) to be sent to the ITS.

E) points may be given by the ITS for Birthdays, anniversaries

F) points may be given by the ITS for exceeding a certain amount of usage of the system either in time or in quantity of information or in quantity of commercial activity.

G) points may be gained by playing games (These games may contain advertising or other commercial content.) H) points may be gained by reaching certain levels in a game or by winning a game or by

1. joining in networking activity of the toys

2. bringing a toy to a retail store

3. purchasing content for the toy and using this content

4. visiting web sites supported by the ITS

As a user becomes more familiar with use of his toy he may be granted more points i.e. points may be granted for passing certain stages of familiarity with toy. This may be done to encourage users to keep playing with their toys and becoming more familiar with them. Points may be given for allowing the ITS database access to all or part of the information about the activities of a toy and its user

An agreement may be made between the ITS and other commercial establishment to allow these establishments to give points to toy users.

There are many ways in which users can use their credit points. These include but are not limited to:

Purchasing goods and/or services from through the Interactive Toy Service either via their web site or via the toy directly or via software on the user's computer or any other computer which has the capability of handling purchases with the ITS credit points;

Purchasing goods and services from other retailers, web sites or other commercial establishments which are able and authorized to handle credit point purchases;

Purchasing content for their toy or for another user's toy;

Participating in networked games which preferably use interactive toys;

Use of credit points is less stressful and more fun for users of all ages.

It is possible to have pre-approved budgets assigned by parents, guardians or by the user himself for various kinds of items to be purchased. Thus, for example, a certain number of points may be set aside for purchase of toy content and another amount may be set aside for purchase of clothes etc.

Fig. 54 shows an example of point allocation for different purposes for an interactive toy user.

It is possible for a person to purchase points as a gift for a toy user and then assign this gift to be used for only certain types of items. Thus, for example, a grandparent may purchase points for a child which he stipulates be used only for the purchase of books.

Fig. 55 shows an example of a computer screen used by the gift purchaser. "

The Interactive Toy Server or another commercial establishment may run a lottery in which lottery tickets are purchased with points or money and in which the prize is goods or services or points. t

Sending to Web Sites:

Toy encourages user to visit web sites of commercial and other establishments. Using verbal and other interaction with user and using the ITS database the toy discovers the interests of a user and suggests interesting web sites which the user should visit.

Fig. 56 shows an example of verbal and other interaction with a user, and using an interactive toy server database for a toy to discover the interests of a user and suggests interesting web sites which that user should visit.

The toy (via the ITS) may inform the web site that it has been suggested to the user and thus a fee may be charged if the user subsequently visits that site.

The toy may open a web browser (or other software which accesses a computer network) on the user's computer and direct the web browser to a specific site of interest to the user. A fee may be charged for this service and for any subsequent web or commercial activity resulting from the toy sending him to the web site.

A toy may be given credit points for visiting web sites. This may encourage users to visit such web sites.

This method of sending to web sites allows for indirect advertising to a user. Thus, for example, the toy might suggest that a user visit the Disney web site and offer him points (or possibly a discount on a Disney movie) for this. At the Disney Web site the latest Disney movie may be advertised.

Application of A Credit Point System to an Interactive Toy Server.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, one or more interactive toy server companies create a points system for charging users.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, one or more interactive toy server companies create a points system for rewarding users.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, one or more ITS companies make points competition, whereby users are rewarded with credit points.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, one or more ITS companies make points competition, whereby users with most points receive prizes. These prizes may or may not include meeting Hollywood stars, trips to Hollywood, Hollywood souvenirs, and the like.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, one or more interactive toy server companies make it possible for users to exchange interactive toys, and/or their externals, and/or their internals, and/or their accessories, for upgraded/downgraded toy models, and/or for money, and/or for points. In another preferred embodiment of this invention, one or more interactive toy server companies make it possible for users to exchange used interactive toys, and/or their externals, and/or their internals, and/or their accessories, for upgraded/downgraded toy models, and/or for money, and/or for points.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, a user no longer wishes to keep his interactive toy. In such a case, it may be possible for him to return it to the ITS company for upgraded/downgraded toy models, and or for money, and/or for points.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, a user can swap his interactive toy for another interactive toy, and/or internals, and/or externals, and/or accessories, and/or for upgraded/downgraded toy models, and/or for money, and/or for points to the ITS company. This transaction may or may not be with parental consent, if the user is a child.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, a user can swap his interactive toy internals and/or externals/ and or accessories for another interactive toy, and/or internals, and/or externals, and/or accessories, and/or for upgraded/downgraded toy models, and/or for money, and/or for points. This may or may not be with parental consent, if the user is a child.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention, one or more users can swap their interactive toy(s) for another interactive toy, and/or internals, and/or externals, and/or accessories, and/or for upgraded downgraded toy models, and/or for money, and/or for points with one or more interactive toy users. One or more ITS company may or may not debit and or credit the two parties in the swap transaction for or "for money, and/or for points.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, interactive toy users receive points, in exchange for persuading friends to buy media products or services via their interactive toys.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, the more toys a family possesses, the more points and/or discounts the family receives.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention, interactive toys market national and international flights and travel packages and the like to individuals, families and groups at discounted prices to toy users in exchange for points. Interactive Toys Bring new users to the Internet:

Toys provide a friendly environment for the use of the internet especially but not exclusively for people (in particular small children) who may find it difficult to use the web.

The toy develops a relationship with a child or other user and thus helps the user in a more human way with his choice.

A user, especially a child, is more likely to tell his toy that he wants to make a purchase than to log onto the internet and tell some web server.

An interactive toy server may or may not deal with suppliers ourselves. An Interactive toy servermay also use, if convenient, an agent to deal with suppliers. The dealings with users directly whether as buyers or sellers is preferred to be via our server.

The use of speech instead of typing as a mode of communication is especially useful for some users.

A unique database of user profiles which know the likes and dislikes and habits of users allows us to help the user choose products to purchase, make suggestions for alternate purchases and help find users who may be willing to sell or barter a particular product.

Toy can help user find product even if the computer is being used by another member of the family or someone else.

Each toy is a member of a community of toys. The community of toys functions in many ways like an ordinary community of people. There are sub- communities i.e. toys and/or users with certain personalities and interest, in certain age groups, in certain geographic locations, of certain cultural, ethnic or religious groups or with any other special characteristics imaginable.

A toy can also play any game with the user and suggest, as a prize, that the toy will find a fascinating web site and/or give the user more credit points.

If the user is looking for an activity (he's bored) the toy can suggest playing a game relating to credit points or to web browsing.

A toy may suggest a game related to web browsing. Thus, for example, the user may be asked to guess how many web sites sell a particularly popular toy. Such a game can be played in a networked manner as well. Thus, for example, thousands of toys may ask their users the same question and the user who guessed the closest number wins many points or receives another prize. Database for Networked Interactive Toys

A computer controlled Networked Interactive Toy system offers a unique opportunity to record and track all actions, a selection of actions or a summary of actions of all users, toys, content providers and commercial establishments which use the system. The resulting database of information is essential for the proper operation of a system of interactive toys. Such a database enhances the entertainment value of the system and, due the enormous number of its possible users, greatly expands its commercial applications.

Since the amount of information to be stored is extremely large, it is possible to discard part of the information available to the system. However, considering the latest techniques of data storage, it may be possible to store most if not all of the information for future analysis.

A procedure for handling such an enormous amount of data requires procedures of extracting the most important items of information as well as a division of the information into separate categories. It is thus preferred that the system's database contains many other databases each of which provides information of a more specific nature. Examples of this are given below.

A networked system of toys is intended to serve a constantly changing community of users. Thus the database must itself be dynamic. In other words not only the information of the database but also the structure of the database itself, including the various categories and types of information may be able to change with time. It may be necessary to have direct human intervention to modify the database structure. Alternately automated techniques using Artificial Intelligence or pattern matching technology may be employed in order to update the database dynamically.

The information collected and processed by the database system described by a preferred embodiment of the present invention provides a powerful consumer database and profiling system which is of great commercial value even to commercial establishments which are unrelated to toys.

Structure of database:

Fig. 57 shows schematically a possible structure of a database for use with Networked Interactive Toys including the location of its various components.

It is preferred that the main part the database is located on a computer which is part of the system's server. This main part is divided into two main categories: 1) records of user related information i.e. information related to individual users

2) records of toy related information including the life history information of an individual toy

3)"community" records i.e. information related to the interaction of various users and their toys. This includes various commercial databases which serve the whole community of toys.

The first category includes records of users. It is preferred that a database include for each user a record of user information as well as events records whose function is discussed in detail bellow.

It is also preferred that a database include for each toy its own record of "life history". This would enable the system to keep track of interactions between any particular user and any number of toys, and also between a particular toy and any number of users in the system.

Another section of a database on a server - the community records - includes first of all a content database in which the system stores contents it provides to its users. It is preferred, however, that content providers should also be connected to the system and provide content to the users under control of a system's server. In this case, a content database would include records of the various providers of content.

Due to the many commercial applications of a networked system as such and of its option of data storage in particular, it is highly desirable to include in a system's database a commercial database with records of all commercial establishment including but not limited to retail stores on the system. Bearing in mind the centrality of security issues to the system it is also desirable to include a special database of security events. The use of such a security database in enhancing the security in the system is discussed below.

It is preferred that apart from records of individual users a database include a central record of all users' habits. As this record is updated in the course of time, it would enable to enhance research and development (R&D) issues as well as commercial applications that are not immediately related to one firm or another but are rather broader in nature. It is also preferred for a networked system to have its own knowledge resource, its "Encyclopedia" so to speak. This database of knowledge may be either full or indexed, namely able to find required sources of knowledge. It is preferred to include for each user in the system his/her own private database in order to store personal conversation or any data otherwise declared private by the user. As shown in Fig. 57, a private database might be located separately on a user's personal computer. Further options of storing private data are discussed below.

Record of Events.

As already mentioned above, it is possible, in principle, to record the entire interaction between all users and toys in a system. This, however, requires an enormous amount of storage capacity and computing power. Thus, in order to extract the essential features of toy-to-user interactions the system keeps track of special events and stores information about them in special records. Thus, for example, an "event" may signify that a certain script of interaction between a user and a toy, or a portion of such a script, is completed.

Fig. 58 shows several examples of types of events for which information may be sent, after a toy-to-user interaction, to a database on a server. A simple example of an event is when a coupon is given to a user by a toy (possibly via the computer's printer). The information related to such an event includes the time of occurrence and the type of product concerned. It is preferred that the merchant involved in such a transaction is also connected to the system, and thus it is possible to store information about an action that is expected to follow the event concerned. In the case of the coupon, the expected event which may follow the giving of the coupon is the usage of the coupon by the user for purchase of goods or services. The following table shows an example:

Similarly, one may record other types of events that occur within a toy-to-user interaction, such as, for example, entertainment content being requested by the user. A record of this type of event may include information about the time of occurrence, the type of entertainment content, and about whether the entertainment session was allowed to continue. In case of a request for educational content, a toy may present questions to its user, and on the basis of the user's response the system can determine whether he/she has understood ϋie nature of the content concerned. This information can then be added to a record of requests for educational content.

Analysis of record of events.

Information concerning particular events can be collected over any period of time and then processed in various ways.

Fig. 59 shows schematically an example of a procedure for handling information, concerning coupons, which has been collected in the course of a relatively short period of time (two weeks in the given example). When a coupon is given to a user the system checks, after a predetermined length of time, whether it was used to purchase the product concemed. In either case, information is added to the record of events for future analysis. However, in case of a coupon that was not used, the system checks whether and how many times this happened in the past two weeks (for this example). This information then serves as input for interaction and enables the toy to surprise its user with meaningful conversation such as: "I gave you quite a few coupons for Macdonald'sR, but you did not even bother to use them!"

In another preferred embodiment of this invention information collected in many records of events is analyzed over a longer period of time, such as, for example, over a period of a whole year.

Fig. 60 schematically shows a possible procedure by which an analysis of a record of events can be used to update a record of user information. Such an analysis may be statistical in nature in which case it may receive two inputs. The first input comes from a selection from records of events of a particular user collected over a long period of time: for example, the total number of coupons for hamburger given and used in the course of a year. The second input may come from a parallel selection from records of events from the entire community of users. It is possible, for example, to take only the top ten percent of those who used their hamburger coupons and designate them as "hamburger eaters". The decision of the statistical analysis concerning the particular user is then sent to his record of user information.

Record of user information.

The basic parts of a personal record of user information are shown in Fig.61. It is preferred that a record of user information includes a special record of the user's personal details. These details, possibly submitted at registration, may include gender, age, nationality and fields of interest. It is also preferred, especially but not exclusively in case the user is a child, that a record of personal details includes information about the type of content that is allowed to be sent to the user's toy. This would reduce the chances of inappropriate content and thus enhance the security in the system. Through analysis of users' records of events as described above (Fig. 60) the system may collect in the course of time a considerable amount of information concerning the habits of any one of its users. This information is to be stored in a record of user habits that might eventually comprise the larger part of the record of user information.

The ability to collect reliable information about habits of many users whose personal details may also be known, offers a unique option for research with a considerable commercial value.

Fig. 62 shows a simple example of analyzing information about user habits that is collected over a large number of users. The habit analyzed in this example is that of "hamburger eater" already encountered in a previous example. Now, however, the system checks for possible correlation between this habit and other characteristics of users such as age or nationality. The networked system's database plays an essential role in the processing of this information.

Apart from the immediate commercial relevance of the results of this analysis for the commercial establishments concerned, the analysis may also have other, less immediate marketing and/or other implications. For this reason, these results are added not only to records of dealers in the commercial database but preferably also to a central record of all users' habits (see Fig. 57) where they might be processed together with other community related data.

Another type of user related information concerns interaction between a particular user and other users on the system. It is therefore preferred that a record of user information should include a special record of interactions with other users. Such a record could be used, for example, for storing information about games that users can play with one another from different sites possibly without knowing one another. Thus, when the system looks for a proper opponent for a particular user it may, if required, avoid choosing one with whom the user concerned has already played.

Record of toy life history.

As mentioned above, it is preferred that each toy in the system has its own record of its life history.

Fig. 63 shows a typical record of toy life history. It is preferred that the toy's life history include summaries of all interactions of the toy with its user, summaries of all advertising made by the toy and of all purchases made by the toy's user or users. The toy's life history further includes summaries of all travels of a toy (if available) as well as all the basic information about the toy such as its basic personality traits. Its history also includes a record of allowed and disallowed content as dictated either by the toy's manufacturer, by the user or by any other authorized party. It may be possible to update this record to suit certain unique requirements of particular user.

It is preferred that commercial establishments be permitted to connect to the Interactive Toy Server (ITS) so that users can interactively use their toys in a store. Thus, a record of toy life history might also include a special record for storing information about a toy's travels to other possibly commercial sites.

Fig. 64 shows an example of how a record of toy's travels might be used. Information about new products in commercial sites is supplied from a commercial database. This information is compared to information stored in a record of toy travels. The results of this analysis can be used to enable the toy to suggest to its user additional commercial travels. This might prove especially useful if a user visited a store just before new products arrived and therefore needs an explanation why he/she would like to visit the same store once more.

Another record preferably included in a record of toy life history is a record of interaction with various users. Such a record could be used to enable a toy to develop a web of relationships with a number of users. It would then be possible for a toy to "remember" the peculiar voice of a user and associate it with events specifically related to that particular user on the basis of information stored in this special record of interaction with users.

The toy life history may be used to modify the responses of the toy to inputs by the user. Thus the same toy with different life histories may have different personalities. Thus the life history database contributes to the individuality of toys.

Content database

A content database contains among other things, entertainment, educational and other content either in the form of scripts or in the form of other interactive routines that are provided to users by the system's server.

As mentioned above, it is preferred that content would be sent to users from content providers as well, and that a server may control the passage of content from a content provider to a user. If this preferred option is realized, a content database should include records of all content providers connected to the system. A record of content provider might include details of the types of the various items of content it provides, requests for content by users and users' response to content.

A user's response is collected over time, and may be used to update the details of content type as initially declared by the content provider.

Fig. 65 shows an example of a possible structure of a content database.

Commercial database

Commercial applications are central to part played by data storage in a networked interactive toy system. It is therefore highly desirable that a system's database includes a commercial database for storing all information related to the system's commercial aspects.

Fig. 66 schematically shows a possible structure of a commercial database. It includes records of all commercial establishments and dealers commercially connected with the system. A dealer's record should include information about all purchases by users - for charging a fee. It might also include information about users' satisfaction with purchased items over time. Once analyzed this information might or might not be shared with the dealer or firm concerned.

Database of security events

The importance of security in a networked system has already been described in detail in a US provisional application filed on March 16, 2000 titled "Secure Systems for Interactive Toys".

Besides the security risks inherent in all networked computer systems the toy system must also be concerned with the passage of inappropriate content to users and with the possibility that users or other people may be able to harm the system through a judicious choice of interaction with the toys. In the aforementioned application, this danger is handled b the use of filters and security units that control, at various points, the flow of content to users beginning from whatever source this content might be provided and all the way to the final user.

The functioning of such a security system enhanced if information about security events is available. A database of security events stores information on all security violations which, have occurred including a list of content providers involved in sending inappropriate content. It may also include information about users with whom greater caution is required.

Fig. 67 shows an example of how database input to a security system may work with information from various parts of a database. A security unit, namely a computer located at a system's server, receives, in this example, four types of information. Firstly, information about the content allowed to be sent to a particular toy stored in that toy's record of life history. Secondly, information about the content requirements of a user, supplied from that user record of information. Thirdly, information about the content possibly arriving from a content provider and therefore stored in the record of that content provider in a commercial database. And fourthly, information about security events stored in that special database. This last type of information improves the functioning of the security unit. It points out cases where special caution is required and also enables to avoid unnecessary alert when this possible.

Private database

It may be desirable that some information obtained by a toy from its user or from its environment should remain private and not be sent to the system's server. It is therefore preferred that a mechanism is provided whereby users can declare their private conversations and any other information as private. Such information would be stored in a special private database and either located on the user's computer or held in a special private database on the server.

Since it is possible that some toys in the system are also connected to a mobile communication network, it is preferred that a system's database should also include semi-private database.

Fig. 68 shows a typical location of a private database. As shown in Fig. 68 a semi-private database may be located at a system's server, yet it is otherwise private.

It preferred that the system might use information about users' conversations under certain conditions.

Fig. 69 shows an example of the use of a private database In this example, only in special cases in which a user's speech is made in response to commercial issues is it allowed to be sent to a record other than a private database. It is possible that this information is sent anonymously i.e. without reference to the identity of the sending toy. Interactive Toys Controlled by Networked Computer via Interactive Television, Cable Modem or other Method of Networked Connection

An interactive toy system, as described in US Pat. No. 5,752,880, to Gabai et al. , includes a toy with one or many sensors and actuators including a microphone and a speaker, and connected, via a wireless connection to a computer which is usually a Personal Computer which runs programs to control the toy including interactive programs in which the commands sent to the toy by the computer depend partly or wholly on previous communication from the toy to the computer. This computer is preferably connected to a computer network such as the Intemet and it is thus connected to many other computers including those which many are controlling additional toys.

Fig. 70 illustrates one typical connection of an interactive toy to a computer connected to the Internet.

As a result of the advent of reliable high-speed network connections it is no longer necessary for an interactive toy to be controlled by a computer to which it is directly connected e.g. by a wireless link as described in the previous paragraph. Thus, for example, a toy may be connected to a home computer via a wireless link (as above) but the home computer may not provide some or all of the controlling commands for the toy. Any other computer on a computer network such as a local Intranet or the Internet may provide the commands. This (i.e. the partial or full control of a toy by a remote computer) may be desirable if, for example, the home computer is not very powerful and or it is being heavily used by other users and/or if the software for controlling toys is not present on such a local home computer and/or if more powerful software for controlling a toy is available on another computer on the network and/or if access to specific or all software for controlling a toy is commercially controlled and available primarily or entirely via the Internet and/or for any other reason.

Fig. 71 shows a situation in which the toy is connected via a wireless link to a home (or office or other) computer with a direct wireless link but that the commands for operation of the computer come either partially or entirely from one or more computers on a network. Some of the commands may come from the local computer. (Below is described a situation in which some of the commands come from hardware within the toy itself.)

In the case in which one or more network computers control the operation of a toy it is no longer necessary to use a home or other local computer. This allows toy owners who do not have available a personal or other computers to operate interactive toys. Furthermore commercial or other establishments which wish to host users of toys would not need to own or use computers for this purpose. Several ways to accomplish this are described in the following paragraphs.

Fig. 72 shows a basic method of connecting a toy to computers on a network using a standard phone line. The system comprises of an interactive toy connected by an RF link to an RF unit capable of transmission and reception. The RF unit contains hardware which converts a signal received from the toy to a signal capable of being sent by a standard modem connected to a telephone line (i.e. it demodulates the signal and digitizes it in case it is an analog signal) and, conversely it receives a digital signal from the modem and modulates it so that it can be sent to the toy by the RF unit.

Fig. 73 shows the basic components of such an RF unit. In a preferred embodiment of this invention the modem is an integral part of the RF unit. In this case a user plugs such an RF unit into a standard telephone line. A controller contained within the RF unit dials an Internet Service Provider and establishes an Internet connection and subsequently controls the connection. In another preferred embodiment of this invention all activity related to connection to the Internet is handled by the toy controller contained within a toy rather than by the RF controller. The controller within the toy must then be able to sense whether it is communicating with a computer, with an RF controller connected to a modem or to any other possible internet connection mechanism such as may be described later in this document. In either of the above cases a controller (either on the toy or on the RF unit) makes contact with a computer on the network whose role it is to control the toy's operation. Methods for establishing this connection are described in the following paragraph.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention the hardware in the above mentioned controller contains the Internet address (possibly the IP address) of a computer on the network which is authorized to control a toy. In another preferred embodiment of this invention the controller contains non- volatile read-write memory (such as eeprom memory) which stores the Internet address of the controlling computer so that the contents of this memory can be modified as required. In another preferred embodiment of this invention the controller contacts one or more servers on the internet which are programmed to respond to such a contact by providing the internet address of one or more computers which control the toy's operation. An example of this is shown in Fig. 5. In another preferred embodiment of this invention a controller broadcasts its internet address (as assigned to it either dynamically or permanently by an Internet Service Provider or by any other means) to a computer network and requests computers connected to the network which are capable and authorized to control a toy. In a preferred embodiment of this invention each toy is assigned a permanent Internet address. In another preferred embodiment of this invention each RF control unit (such as in Fig. 73) is assigned a permanent Internet address. In a preferred embodiment of this invention specific Internet Service Providers (ISP's) are provided whose main purpose is to serve the community of toys discussed later in this document. In another preferred embodiment of this invention these special ISP's are the same as the Interactive Toy Servers (ITS) discussed later in this document. In yet another preferred embodiment of this invention ISP's which serve the general community of computer users provide special services to aid toy controllers with their connection to the Internet.

In another preferred embodiment of this invention the home, office, commercial or other establishment has a permanently established direct cable connection or a permanently established wireless connection to a computer network such as the internet. In this case the toy connects to via its (first) RF unit to a (second) RF unit which is permanently connected to a computer network. The second RF unit contains hardware to convert a signal from a toy to a signal appropriate for transmission through the network or, alternately, to convert a signal from the network to a signal which controls a toy. A basic embodiment of this invention uses a setup as shown in Fig. 73 in which the modem is replaced by a device, which connects to the serial port of an RF unit. As a basic example this device is a device provided by the ISP for connecting a computer to its network.

An example of the situation described in the previous paragraph is provided by Internet systems, which are set up by cable television companies. These companies use the same cable (usually coaxial cables though fiber optic cables are used for parts of their network) that they use for providing television service to homes and other sites, in order to provide internet service to these sites. Typically a device called a "cable modem" is provided which connects to the serial or other port of a user's computer and to the cable of the service provider. A Networked Interactive Toy utilizes this system in a manner similar to that shown in Fig. 73 in which the modem of Fig. 73 is replaced by the cable modem of a service provider. Another example is provided by packet- switched internet service often provided by telephone companies in which a user's computer is connected via a serial port or other port (often a USB port) to the service provider's line which is either a standard phone line or an upgraded line possibly using "twisted pair" lines. The service provider provides hardware to connect a computer to the Internet via these lines. The setup of Fig. 73 can also be used in this case with the service provider's hardware replacing the modem of Fig. 73.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention hardware, which receives an RF signal from a toy and then converts it to a form capable of being transmitted directly through the above described cable or packet-switched phone line, is integrated into an RF base unit without necessarily using a serial port such as is shown in Fig. 73.

Another application of the use of RF units connected to the internet either directly or via a modem occurs in the case of very large homes or business establishments in which the RF unit on a toy is not always within range of a main computer containing software for controlling a toy. In such a case several computers or preferably a single computer together with several RF units as described in the previous paragraphs, may be set up which are connected via a network to the main computer. The toy then receives its control commands from the same computer on the network while it is mobile throughout the large home or business establishment.

Fig. 74 shows a flowchart of a typical sequence of signals following a user activating a toy up to a toy sending a message to a controlling computer,

Fig.75 shows an example of a setup in a shopping mall in which one or more central computer run software to control all toys within the mall. In case the mall is large, many RF units are set up throughout the mall, which are connected via a computer network to the central computer or computers. A toy, which roves throughout the mall, connects to the closest RF unit. A central computer decides which RF unit receives the signal by choosing the RF unit with the strongest signal from the toy. (This is similar to methods employed in cellular phone systems.) Signals to and from a roving toy are then processed via this RF unit with the strongest signal.

The preceding paragraphs describe many examples of a general principle, which forms a major part of preferred embodiments of the current invention. This principle is summarized as follows: A toy is connected via a wireless linlc to an electronic device, which is connected to a computer network. The electronic device is capable of establishing a network connection so that the toy is effectively comiected to the computer network. Sensor and other signals from the toy as well as control signals to the toy are provided by one or more of the following: The electronic device, which may be a personal computer, or any other device capable of controlling the toy. A device with significant computing power is preferred in order to provide speech recognition services and possibly video recognition services if one or more video cameras are provided on the toy.

One or more computer on the computer network. The computer network may be a local network such as an Intranet or a global network such as the Internet. In the latter case the possibly slow speed of distant connections may lead to a desire to provide some control by a local electronic device such as a computer.

Hardware on the toy. For example the toy may have an onboard computer which may provide some or all of the basic toy control services. Connection to a local computer and to the internet is used to provide more computing power, to allow the downloading of more content, to access a vast database of knowledge of interest to the toy (see later for details), to allow communication between two or more toys as well as other possible uses.

Fig. 76 shows an example of how an onboard "mini computer", an electronic device with a direct wireless link to a toy (if provided with independent computing ability) as well as one or more computers on a network combine either individually or together to control a toy. As an example, an onboard computer may provide service for basic scripts involving short questions with short expected answers whereas more complicated scripts may be referred to a local PC or any computer on a network.

Thus far several examples of an "electronic device" which connects an interactive toy to a network have been mentioned including a computer, a specially designed RF unit connected to a modem, an RF unit connected to a cable modem and an RF unit connected to a packet-switched phone line. Several other examples are now described in more detail.

An Interactive Toy may connect to a computer network such as the Internet via a wireless phone system such as a cellular phone system or a satellite phone system. In this case a toy is provided with hardware which allows wireless communication with a cellular phone tower or a satellite and which allows the subsequent establishment of a network connection between the toy and a computer network.

Figs. 77A shows part of the general principle behind a method of connecting a toy to a network such as the Internet.

Fig. 77B shows another part of the general principle behind a method of connecting a toy to a network such as the Internet. Figs. 77 A and 77B together show the general principle behind this method of connecting a toy to a network such as the Internet.

Fig. 78 gives an example of how the cellular connection can be implemented using a standard toy controller for comiecting a toy to a local PC as in US Patent No. 5,752,880, to Gabai et al. Current analog version of a standard toy controller encodes all speech and toy action in standard format suitable for transmission through standard audio cables to a computer (PC) sound card. Such an audio signal is, in fact, sent to an RF unit to be transmitted to a local computer. Both input and output sound and action are transferred to an RF unit in a standardized manner capable of being directly connected to the input and output ports of a standard PC sound card such as, for example, a Sound Blaster compatible sound card. In the example . of Fig. 78 a toy contains a possibly small computer (preferably a handheld computer) with a sound card and with a modem capable of connection to a cellular phone. The toy further contains a cellular phone (preferably a small phone) which is capable of connecting to the modem and of connecting the computer onboard the toy to a computer network such as the Internet. The toy further contains a standard toy controller which connects to the computer by means of a sound card with which the computer is equipped. As in situations mentioned previously control of a toy may be done partly or mostly by the computer which is within the toy or, preferably, much of the control of the toy is done by a computer on the network to which the cellular or satellite phone connects the toy. The procedure for establishing a network connection may be similar to that shown in Fig. 74 as follows:

1. User touches or otherwise turns on toy;

2. Toy controller senses this and causes computer within toy to be activated (either (preferably) woken from a sleep state or booted);

3. Computer loads and runs local toy control software and attempts to control toy locally.

If requested actions are too complicated (such as, for example, the running of scripts which require significant speech recognition) or if network activity is requested (such as connection to other toys, downloading of content, or advertising or sales activity) then local computer uses cellular modem and phone to establish a network connection and finds (using one of the methods describe previously) a computer on the network which can be used to help control the toy. In cases where all toy control is done on the network the above step is performed immediately when the toy is turned on.

Yet another example of an electronic device which provides a medium for connecting Interactive Toys to a network such as the Internet (see Fig. 76) is a Web Television (or an Interactive Television) system. This method of Internet connection is especially suited for people who do not have a computer or who do not wish to use a local computer to connect to the Internet. Standard operation of such a unit is often used as follows: A so-called "set-top box" is connected between a user's television set and the cable (such as, for example, a coaxial cable) provided by a Cable company or other Interactive or Web Television service provider. This set-top box serves both as a decoder of a Cable Television signal so that it can be viewed on a Television set and as an Internet connection box allowing the Television to act as a network terminal. Thus, for example, email can be sent and received using either a cordless keyboard and mouse or the Televisions remote control switch, the net can be browsed and, especially, television programs and other internet content can be downloaded via the cable network and the set-top box to the television. In some versions of such a system users may choose programs interactively and television programs may be written in such a manner as to allow users to interact with the show by clicking on certain parts of the screen and thus changing the content provided by the cable service provider.

Fig. 79 shows an example of how a networked interactive toy is connected to such a "set-top box" by providing an RF link between a toy and a set-top box within RF range of the toy. In Fig. 79 an RF base unit which contains an RF receiver and transmitter is attached to a serial port on a set-top box. The RF base unit communicates with a toy via the toy's RF unit. In another preferred embodiment of this invention the RF base unit is integrated into the set-top box. A toy now can form an integral part of the Interactive Television experience.

In a preferred embodiment of this invention a toy connected to a "set-top box" such as described above is controlled by one or more computers on a computer network such as the Internet. In another preferred embodiment of this invention the toy is wholly or partly controlled by a computer which is also responsible for the transfer of Interactive Television content from the Cable Television service provider. In another preferred embodiment of this invention the set-top box contains hardware capable of partly or wholly controlling a toy. In yet another preferred embodiment of this invention one or more toys plays a role in Interactive Television entertainment, which is sent to a Television viewer. Thus, for example, a toy may perform certain actions or make certain sounds, which are coordinated with related actions, and/or sounds on a television. The television program may respond in reaction to speech or other sensory input from a user to a toy. For example a user may say "I hate this program" and the television may respond by offering a different selection of programs.

Some other items related to Interactive Television with Toys:

Toy may be used as an advertising medium both due to its inherent entertainment value and due to a user profile, which a computer maintains relating to a user and its toy.

Toy aids characters in advertisements to send user to a store or a web sites.

Game may be played which requires user to visit another Interactive TV site and bring his toy to win prizes or better content.

It is preferred that such a site be a commercial establishment.

Interactive Toy adds speech recognition as well as other sensors and actuators of a toy to the interactive ability of Interactive TV.

Toys with personalities or physical forms similar to characters on television may be used to make shows more entertaining.

Toys at various sites (e.g. homes) may be used together (collectively) to aid in entertainment value or to play multi-user games. As an example, a scene in a movie may proceed differently depending on whether most people cheered or booed at a specific previous scene.

It is appreciated that the software components of the present invention may, if desired, be implemented in ROM (read-only memory) form. The software components may, generally, be implemented in hardware, if desired, using conventional techniques.

It is appreciated that various features of the invention which are, for clarity, described in the contexts of separate embodiments may also be provided in combination in a single embodiment. Conversely, various features of the invention which are, for brevity, described in the context of a single embodiment may also be provided separately or in any suitable sub combination.

It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that the present invention is not limited to what has been particularly shown and described hereinabove. Rather, the scope of the present invention is defined only by the claims that follow:

Claims

1. A method for sale promotion comprising the steps of: causing an interactive toy to establish bi-directional communication with a user; employing said interactive toy to establish a knowledge base regarding the user; interactively employing said knowledge base and a sales promotion database to create a personalized sales promotion scenario for the user; and effecting said scenario.
2. A method for sales promotion according to claim 1 and wherein said bidirectional communication comprises at least verbal communication.
3. A method for sales promotion according to claim 2 and wherein said bidirectional communication also comprises at least one of visual, tactile, kinetic, olfactory, audio, emotional and positional communication.
4. A method for sales promotion according to claim 1 and wherein said knowledge base includes an interaction database.
5. A method for sales promotion according to claim 1 and wherein said knowledge base includes a user environment database.
6. A method for sales promotion according to claim 1 and wherein said step of employing said interactive toy to establish a knowledge base regarding the user includes at least one of logging, filtering, ordering, categorizing, storing and deleting occurrences.
7. A method for sales promotion according to claim 1 and wherein prior to said step of interactively employing said knowledge base and a sales promotion database to create a personalized sales promotion scenario for the user, the method includes the step of: employing said knowledge base to create a personalized scenario for the user, which is operative for conditioning, said user.
8. A method for sales promotion according to claim 7 and wherein said step of conditioning said user includes conditioning said user to be amenable to said personalized sales promotion scenario.
9. A method for sales promotion according to claim 1 and wherein said step of employing said interactive toy to effect said scenario includes the use of at least one of visual, tactile, kinetic, olfactory, audio, emotional and positional communication.
10. A method according to claim 1 wherein said effecting step comprises employing said interactive toy to effect said scenario.
11. A method for sales comprising the steps of: causing an interactive toy to establish bi-directional communication with a user; employing said interactive toy to establish a knowledge base regarding the user; interactively employing said knowledge base and a sales promotion database to create a personalized sales promotion scenario for the user; effecting said scenario; and billing a sales promoter.
12. A method for sales according to claim 11 and wherein said step of billing a sales promoter includes billing an amount which is a function of user interaction with said scenario.
13. A method for sales according to claim 12 and wherein said step of billing is dependent on fulfillment of at least one of the following interactivity levels: presentation of sales promotion content to user; user interactive response during scenario; user interactive response following scenario; and purchase responsive to user interaction with scenario.
14. Sales promotion server apparatus comprising: at least one computers linked to a first population of toys and to a second population of sales promoters via a network; wherein sales distribution software resides in the at least one computers, the sales distribution software being operative to receive sales promotion content from at least one sales promoter from among said second population of sales promoters and to present said sales promotion content to at least one user of at least one individual toy from among the first population of toys, via said toy.
15. Sales promotion server apparatus comprising: at least one computers linked to a first population of toys and to a second population of sales promoters via a network; wherein sales distribution software resides in the at least one computers, the sales distribution software being operative to employ said interactive toy to establish a knowledge base regarding the user of the toy, to interactively employ said knowledge base and a sales promotion database to create a personalized sales promotion scenario for the user and to employ said interactive toy to effect said scenario.
16. A method according to claim 1 wherein said personalized sales promotion scenario presented to an individual user is based on at least one of the following context elements: a characteristic of the individual user's environment; an aspect of the individual user's hobby; at least one of the individual user's likes and dislikes; a characteristic of the environment of at least one additional user within said individual user's social milieu; an aspect of at least one hobby of at least one additional user within said individual user's social milieu; and likes and dislikes of at least one additional user within said individual user's social milieu.
17. A method according to claim 1 wherein said interactively employing step comprises employing the knowledge base of at least one toy belonging to at least one individual user to create the personalized sales promotion scenario for a different user.
18. A method according to claim 1 and wherein said causing, employing, interactively employing and employing steps are performed for each toy from among a population of networked interactive toys.
19. A method according to claim 1 wherein said sales promotion database comprises at least one advertisement campaign comprising at least one related advertisements having selectable advertisement attributes and wherein said interactively employing step comprises employing information in said knowledge database to select said advertisement attributes.
20. Apparatus according to claim 15 wherein said at least one computers include at least one game program in which at least one advertising template is embedded, wherein sales content of one of a plurality of sales promoters is plugged into the template.
21 Apparatus according to claim 20 wherein said game program, said game comprises at least one of the following: - a dialogue, a word game, a quiz, a verbal game, an educational game, a riddle, a puzzle, a guessing game, a computer game, and an interactive game.
22 Apparatus according to claim 20 wherein said advertisement template comprises a user-triggered template, which is presented responsive to a defined user- generated stimulus.
23 Apparatus according to claim 14 and also comprising a sales promotion presentation controller operative to present sales promotion content to a user responsive to sales-related events.
24. A toy system comprising: an interactive toy operative to maintain bi-directional communication with the user including sensing at least one user-generated stimulus; and a sales promotion content database storing at least one sales promotion content item for presentation to the user; and a sales promotion presentation controller operative to present at least one sales promotion content item responsive to a defined user-generated stimulus.
25. A method according to claim 1 wherein a plurality of sales promotion content items are stored in said sales promotion database, and wherein a presentation trigger is linked to at least one individual item from among the sales promotion content items and wherein said step of employing the toy comprises presenting the individual sales promotion content item responsive to said presentation trigger.
26. A method according to claim 25 wherein the interactive toy is operative to sense at least one user-generated action and said presentation trigger comprises said user-generated action.
27. A method according to claim 26 wherein said user-generated action comprises a motor action.
28. A method according to claim 26 wherein said user-generated action comprises an audio action such as an utterance.
29. A method according to claim 1, wherein said sales promotion database comprises at least one sales promotion content item in which an advertising style template is embedded, and wherein a plurality of different styled template options are linked to said content item and wherein said step of interactively employing comprises selecting an individual one of the plurality of options for each of a multiplicity of users.
30. A method according to claim 1 wherein at least one characteristic of said personalized sales promotion scenario is determined by at least one characteristic of said toy.
31. A multimedia sales promotion system comprising: a sales promotion content database operative to store sales promotion content; and a sales promotion content controller operative to actuate a plurality of networked sales promotion presentation media including at least one toy to jointly present said sales promotion content to a user.
32. A system according to claim 31 and also comprising a plurality of networked sales promotion presentation media including at least one toy.
33. A system according to claim 32 wherein said plurality of media comprises at least one television media.
34. A system according to claim 32 wherein said television media comprises at least one of the following: static TV; and interactive TV.
35. A system according to claim 32 wherein said media comprises a computer monitor.
36. A system according to claim 32 wherein said toy is operative to prompt the user to approach other presentation media.
37. A toy system comprising: a sales promotion content database operative to store sales promotion content including a prompt to a user to visit a physical sales facility bearing a physical object which identifies the user; a plurality of verbal toys each operative to verbally present said prompt to their respective users; a database storing at least one characteristics of each of the plurality of users of the plurality of toys; a user recognizer residing at the physical sales facility, operative to detect presence of the user at the physical sales facility, by detecting and identifying said physical object; and a controller operative to control at least one future interaction with the user, based on output from the user recognizer and the user characteristic database.
38. A system according to claim 37 wherein said physical object comprises a coupon.
39. A system according to claim 37 wherein said physical object comprises the toy itself.
40. A system according to claim 37 wherein said controller is operative to select additional sales promotion content for presentation to the user, depending on said at least one characteristics of the user.
41. A system according to claim 39, wherein said toy is also actuated, when in said physical sales facility to prompt the user to make purchases at said physical sales facility.
42. A method according to claim 1 wherein said personalized sales promotion scenario presented to an individual user depends in part on the user's physical location.
43. A system for sales promotion comprising: at least one interactive toy including bi-directional communication apparatus providing bi-directional communication the interactive toy with a user; a knowledge base regarding the user, wherein the information in the knowledge base is established at least partly via the interactive toy; a sales promotion database storing sales promotion information; a personalized sales promotion scenario builder operative to interactively employ said knowledge base and said sales promotion database to create a personalized sales promotion scenario for the user; and a scenario effector operative to effect the personalized scenario for the user.
44. A system according to claim 43 wherein said interactive toy comprises a mobile interactive toy and also comprising a toy tracker operative to track the mobile toy, thereby to identify, on an ongoing basis, a current location thereof.
45. A system according to claim 44 wherein the scenario builder is operative to create a personalized sales promotion scenario for an individual user's toy based at least partly on the current location of the individual user's toy.
46. A method according to claim 18 and also comprising performing an analysis of sales success and failure patterns over the population of networked interactive toys and employing a result of said analysis in order to create additional personalized sales promotion scenarios for toys within said population.
47. A system according to claim 39 wherein said toy is actuated, when in said physical sales facility, to identify the user to the user recognizer.
48. A system according to claim 39 wherein said toy is actuated, when in said physical sales facility, to provide entertainment to the user.
49. A system according to claim 39 wherein at least one interactive point-of- sale toy is located within the physical sales facility and wherein said physical toy is actuated, when in said physical sales facility, to interact with said interactive point-of- sale toy.
PCT/IL2001/000247 2000-03-16 2001-03-14 Networked interactive toy apparatus operative to promote sales WO2001069829A3 (en)

Priority Applications (138)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US18991600 true 2000-03-16 2000-03-16
US18991500 true 2000-03-16 2000-03-16
US18991400 true 2000-03-16 2000-03-16
US60/189,914 2000-03-16
US60/189,915 2000-03-16
US60/189,916 2000-03-16
US19130000 true 2000-03-21 2000-03-21
US19087400 true 2000-03-21 2000-03-21
US60/190,874 2000-03-21
US60/191,300 2000-03-21
US19201200 true 2000-03-24 2000-03-24
US19201300 true 2000-03-24 2000-03-24
US19201400 true 2000-03-24 2000-03-24
US19201100 true 2000-03-24 2000-03-24
US60/192,014 2000-03-24
US60/192,012 2000-03-24
US60/192,013 2000-03-24
US60/192,011 2000-03-24
US19370400 true 2000-03-31 2000-03-31
US19370200 true 2000-03-31 2000-03-31
US19369700 true 2000-03-31 2000-03-31
US19369900 true 2000-03-31 2000-03-31
US19370300 true 2000-03-31 2000-03-31
US60/193,704 2000-03-31
US60/193,702 2000-03-31
US60/204,201 2000-03-31
US60/193,699 2000-03-31
US60/193,703 2000-03-31
US60/193,697 2000-03-31
US19586100 true 2000-04-07 2000-04-07
US19586600 true 2000-04-07 2000-04-07
US19586400 true 2000-04-07 2000-04-07
US19586500 true 2000-04-07 2000-04-07
US19586300 true 2000-04-07 2000-04-07
US19586200 true 2000-04-07 2000-04-07
US60/195,865 2000-04-07
US60/195,863 2000-04-07
US60/195,862 2000-04-07
US60/195,864 2000-04-07
US60/195,861 2000-04-07
US60/195,866 2000-04-07
US19622700 true 2000-04-10 2000-04-10
US60/196,227 2000-04-10
US19757700 true 2000-04-17 2000-04-17
US19757800 true 2000-04-17 2000-04-17
US19757300 true 2000-04-17 2000-04-17
US19757600 true 2000-04-17 2000-04-17
US19757900 true 2000-04-17 2000-04-17
US60/197,573 2000-04-17
US60/197,576 2000-04-17
US60/197,577 2000-04-17
US60/197,578 2000-04-17
US60/197,579 2000-04-17
US20051300 true 2000-04-28 2000-04-28
US20064100 true 2000-04-28 2000-04-28
US20064700 true 2000-04-28 2000-04-28
US20063900 true 2000-04-28 2000-04-28
US20050800 true 2000-04-28 2000-04-28
US20064000 true 2000-04-28 2000-04-28
US60/200,639 2000-04-28
US60/200,647 2000-04-28
US60/200,513 2000-04-28
US60/200,641 2000-04-28
US60/200,508 2000-04-28
US60/200,640 2000-04-28
US20317500 true 2000-05-08 2000-05-08
US20324400 true 2000-05-08 2000-05-08
US20318200 true 2000-05-08 2000-05-08
US20317700 true 2000-05-08 2000-05-08
US60/203,177 2000-05-08
US60/203,182 2000-05-08
US60/203,175 2000-05-08
US60/203,244 2000-05-08
US20420000 true 2000-05-15 2000-05-15
US20420100 true 2000-05-15 2000-05-15
US60/204,200 2000-05-15
US20712800 true 2000-05-25 2000-05-25
US20712600 true 2000-05-25 2000-05-25
US60/207,128 2000-05-25
US60/207,126 2000-05-25
US20810500 true 2000-05-26 2000-05-26
US60/208,105 2000-05-26
US20839000 true 2000-05-30 2000-05-30
US20839100 true 2000-05-30 2000-05-30
US20839200 true 2000-05-30 2000-05-30
US60/208,390 2000-05-30
US60/208,392 2000-05-30
US60/208,391 2000-05-30
US20947100 true 2000-06-05 2000-06-05
US60/209,471 2000-06-05
US21044300 true 2000-06-08 2000-06-08
US21044500 true 2000-06-08 2000-06-08
US60/210,443 2000-06-08
US60/210,445 2000-06-08
US21269600 true 2000-06-19 2000-06-19
US60/212,696 2000-06-19
US21536000 true 2000-06-30 2000-06-30
US60872000 true 2000-06-30 2000-06-30
US09/608,720 2000-06-30
US60/215,360 2000-06-30
US21623800 true 2000-07-05 2000-07-05
US21623700 true 2000-07-05 2000-07-05
US60/216,238 2000-07-05
US60/216,237 2000-07-05
US21735700 true 2000-07-12 2000-07-12
US60/217,357 2000-07-12
US21923400 true 2000-07-18 2000-07-18
US60/219,234 2000-07-18
US22027600 true 2000-07-24 2000-07-24
US60/220,276 2000-07-24
US22193300 true 2000-07-31 2000-07-31
US60/221,933 2000-07-31
US22387700 true 2000-08-08 2000-08-08
US60/223,877 2000-08-08
US22711200 true 2000-08-22 2000-08-22
US60/227,112 2000-08-22
US22937100 true 2000-08-30 2000-08-30
US60/229,371 2000-08-30
US22964800 true 2000-08-31 2000-08-31
US60/229,648 2000-08-31
US60/231,105 2000-09-06
US23110300 true 2000-09-08 2000-09-08
US23110500 true 2000-09-08 2000-09-08
US60/231,103 2000-09-08
US23489500 true 2000-09-25 2000-09-25
US23488300 true 2000-09-25 2000-09-25
US60/234,895 2000-09-25
US60/234,883 2000-09-25
US23932900 true 2000-10-10 2000-10-10
US60/239,329 2000-10-10
US25336200 true 2000-11-27 2000-11-27
US60/253,362 2000-11-27
US25033200 true 2000-11-29 2000-11-29
US60/250,332 2000-11-29
US60/254,699 2000-12-07
US25469900 true 2000-12-11 2000-12-11
US26735001 true 2001-02-08 2001-02-08
US60/267,350 2001-02-08

Publications (2)

Publication Number Publication Date
WO2001069829A2 true true WO2001069829A2 (en) 2001-09-20
WO2001069829A3 true WO2001069829A3 (en) 2002-08-29

Family

ID=27587064

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
PCT/IL2001/000247 WO2001069829A3 (en) 2000-03-16 2001-03-14 Networked interactive toy apparatus operative to promote sales

Country Status (1)

Country Link
WO (1) WO2001069829A3 (en)

Cited By (29)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP1641545A2 (en) * 2003-06-09 2006-04-05 Palwintec Systems Ltd. Story-telling doll
GB2448883A (en) * 2007-04-30 2008-11-05 Sony Comp Entertainment Europe Interactive toy and entertainment device
US7921067B2 (en) 2006-09-04 2011-04-05 Sony Deutschland Gmbh Method and device for mood detection
US7970663B2 (en) 2007-05-02 2011-06-28 Ganz Method of calculating an estimated market value of a character
US7983955B2 (en) 2006-12-06 2011-07-19 Ganz System and method for tiered website access
US8088002B2 (en) 2007-11-19 2012-01-03 Ganz Transfer of rewards between websites
US8118636B2 (en) 2007-08-27 2012-02-21 Ganz Pet of the month exclusive limited time rewards
US8128500B1 (en) 2007-07-13 2012-03-06 Ganz System and method for generating a virtual environment for land-based and underwater virtual characters
US20120158897A1 (en) * 2010-12-15 2012-06-21 Iyer Holdings, Inc. System and method for interactive multimedia products platform
US8316097B2 (en) 2008-03-04 2012-11-20 Ganz Multiple-layer chat filter system and method
US8348716B2 (en) 2007-09-19 2013-01-08 Ganz Pet of the month with music player
US8380725B2 (en) 2010-08-03 2013-02-19 Ganz Message filter with replacement text
US8464166B2 (en) 2008-02-11 2013-06-11 Ganz Friends list management
US8510800B2 (en) 2008-10-27 2013-08-13 Ganz Temporary user account for a virtual world website
US8612302B2 (en) 2007-11-19 2013-12-17 Ganz Credit swap in a virtual world
US8626819B2 (en) 2007-11-19 2014-01-07 Ganz Transfer of items between social networking websites
US8900030B2 (en) 2003-12-31 2014-12-02 Ganz System and method for toy adoption and marketing
US9037486B2 (en) 2008-03-28 2015-05-19 Ganz Method for disabling and re-enabling third-party ads
US9132344B2 (en) 2003-07-02 2015-09-15 Ganz Interactive action figures for gaming system
US9396437B2 (en) 2013-11-11 2016-07-19 Mera Software Services, Inc. Interface apparatus and method for providing interaction of a user with network entities
EP3090787A1 (en) * 2015-05-07 2016-11-09 Deutsche Telekom AG Toy doll and set comprising a toy doll and a receiving device
US9526979B2 (en) 2014-03-11 2016-12-27 Microsoft Technology Licensing, Llc Storing state for physical modular toys
US9555326B2 (en) 2014-03-11 2017-01-31 Microsoft Technology Licensing, Llc Gaming system for modular toys
US9592443B2 (en) 2014-03-11 2017-03-14 Microsoft Technology Licensing, Llc Data store for a modular assembly system
US9610513B2 (en) 2003-12-31 2017-04-04 Ganz System and method for toy adoption and marketing
US9696757B2 (en) 2014-10-08 2017-07-04 Microsoft Corporation Transfer of attributes between generations of characters
US9703896B2 (en) 2014-03-11 2017-07-11 Microsoft Technology Licensing, Llc Generation of custom modular objects
US9814993B2 (en) 2013-11-11 2017-11-14 Mera Software Services, Inc. Interactive toy plaything having wireless communication of interaction-related information with remote entities
US9919226B2 (en) 2014-10-08 2018-03-20 Microsoft Technology Licensing, Llc Storage and charging device for game pieces

Citations (7)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US4846693A (en) * 1987-01-08 1989-07-11 Smith Engineering Video based instructional and entertainment system using animated figure
US4857030A (en) * 1987-02-06 1989-08-15 Coleco Industries, Inc. Conversing dolls
US5636994A (en) * 1995-11-09 1997-06-10 Tong; Vincent M. K. Interactive computer controlled doll
US5752880A (en) * 1995-11-20 1998-05-19 Creator Ltd. Interactive doll
US5769269A (en) * 1994-04-28 1998-06-23 Peters; Steven A. Vending system
US6012961A (en) * 1997-05-14 2000-01-11 Design Lab, Llc Electronic toy including a reprogrammable data storage device
US6368177B1 (en) * 1995-11-20 2002-04-09 Creator, Ltd. Method for using a toy to conduct sales over a network

Patent Citations (7)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US4846693A (en) * 1987-01-08 1989-07-11 Smith Engineering Video based instructional and entertainment system using animated figure
US4857030A (en) * 1987-02-06 1989-08-15 Coleco Industries, Inc. Conversing dolls
US5769269A (en) * 1994-04-28 1998-06-23 Peters; Steven A. Vending system
US5636994A (en) * 1995-11-09 1997-06-10 Tong; Vincent M. K. Interactive computer controlled doll
US5752880A (en) * 1995-11-20 1998-05-19 Creator Ltd. Interactive doll
US6368177B1 (en) * 1995-11-20 2002-04-09 Creator, Ltd. Method for using a toy to conduct sales over a network
US6012961A (en) * 1997-05-14 2000-01-11 Design Lab, Llc Electronic toy including a reprogrammable data storage device

Cited By (43)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP1641545A4 (en) * 2003-06-09 2008-03-05 Unity Interactive Llc Story-telling doll
EP1641545A2 (en) * 2003-06-09 2006-04-05 Palwintec Systems Ltd. Story-telling doll
US9132344B2 (en) 2003-07-02 2015-09-15 Ganz Interactive action figures for gaming system
US9427658B2 (en) 2003-07-02 2016-08-30 Ganz Interactive action figures for gaming systems
US9238171B2 (en) 2003-12-31 2016-01-19 Howard Ganz System and method for toy adoption and marketing
US9721269B2 (en) 2003-12-31 2017-08-01 Ganz System and method for toy adoption and marketing
US9947023B2 (en) 2003-12-31 2018-04-17 Ganz System and method for toy adoption and marketing
US9610513B2 (en) 2003-12-31 2017-04-04 Ganz System and method for toy adoption and marketing
US8900030B2 (en) 2003-12-31 2014-12-02 Ganz System and method for toy adoption and marketing
US7921067B2 (en) 2006-09-04 2011-04-05 Sony Deutschland Gmbh Method and device for mood detection
US7983955B2 (en) 2006-12-06 2011-07-19 Ganz System and method for tiered website access
GB2448883A (en) * 2007-04-30 2008-11-05 Sony Comp Entertainment Europe Interactive toy and entertainment device
US8636558B2 (en) 2007-04-30 2014-01-28 Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited Interactive toy and entertainment device
US8401912B2 (en) 2007-05-02 2013-03-19 Ganz Method for using unique codes to trade virtual characters
US7970663B2 (en) 2007-05-02 2011-06-28 Ganz Method of calculating an estimated market value of a character
US8353767B1 (en) 2007-07-13 2013-01-15 Ganz System and method for a virtual character in a virtual world to interact with a user
US8128500B1 (en) 2007-07-13 2012-03-06 Ganz System and method for generating a virtual environment for land-based and underwater virtual characters
US8753167B2 (en) 2007-08-27 2014-06-17 Ganz Pet of the month exclusive limited time rewards
US8118636B2 (en) 2007-08-27 2012-02-21 Ganz Pet of the month exclusive limited time rewards
US8348716B2 (en) 2007-09-19 2013-01-08 Ganz Pet of the month with music player
US8612302B2 (en) 2007-11-19 2013-12-17 Ganz Credit swap in a virtual world
US8626819B2 (en) 2007-11-19 2014-01-07 Ganz Transfer of items between social networking websites
US9516074B2 (en) 2007-11-19 2016-12-06 Ganz Transfer of items between social networking websites
US8088002B2 (en) 2007-11-19 2012-01-03 Ganz Transfer of rewards between websites
US8464166B2 (en) 2008-02-11 2013-06-11 Ganz Friends list management
US8321513B2 (en) 2008-03-04 2012-11-27 Ganz Multiple-layer chat filter system and method
US8316097B2 (en) 2008-03-04 2012-11-20 Ganz Multiple-layer chat filter system and method
US9037486B2 (en) 2008-03-28 2015-05-19 Ganz Method for disabling and re-enabling third-party ads
US8826383B2 (en) 2008-10-27 2014-09-02 Ganz Temporary user account for a virtual world website
US8516553B2 (en) 2008-10-27 2013-08-20 Ganz Temporary user account for a virtual world website
US8510800B2 (en) 2008-10-27 2013-08-13 Ganz Temporary user account for a virtual world website
US8380725B2 (en) 2010-08-03 2013-02-19 Ganz Message filter with replacement text
US20120158897A1 (en) * 2010-12-15 2012-06-21 Iyer Holdings, Inc. System and method for interactive multimedia products platform
US9814993B2 (en) 2013-11-11 2017-11-14 Mera Software Services, Inc. Interactive toy plaything having wireless communication of interaction-related information with remote entities
US9691018B2 (en) 2013-11-11 2017-06-27 Mera Software Services, Inc. Interface apparatus and method for providing interaction of a user with network entities
US9396437B2 (en) 2013-11-11 2016-07-19 Mera Software Services, Inc. Interface apparatus and method for providing interaction of a user with network entities
US9592443B2 (en) 2014-03-11 2017-03-14 Microsoft Technology Licensing, Llc Data store for a modular assembly system
US9555326B2 (en) 2014-03-11 2017-01-31 Microsoft Technology Licensing, Llc Gaming system for modular toys
US9703896B2 (en) 2014-03-11 2017-07-11 Microsoft Technology Licensing, Llc Generation of custom modular objects
US9526979B2 (en) 2014-03-11 2016-12-27 Microsoft Technology Licensing, Llc Storing state for physical modular toys
US9696757B2 (en) 2014-10-08 2017-07-04 Microsoft Corporation Transfer of attributes between generations of characters
US9919226B2 (en) 2014-10-08 2018-03-20 Microsoft Technology Licensing, Llc Storage and charging device for game pieces
EP3090787A1 (en) * 2015-05-07 2016-11-09 Deutsche Telekom AG Toy doll and set comprising a toy doll and a receiving device

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date Type
WO2001069829A3 (en) 2002-08-29 application

Similar Documents

Publication Publication Date Title
Boswijk et al. The experience economy: A new perspective
Bedbury A new brand world: 8 principles for achieving brand leadership in the 21st century
Williams Tourism and hospitality marketing: fantasy, feeling and fun
Hemp Avatar-based marketing
Shaw Revolutionize your customer experience
US7546254B2 (en) System and method for promoting commerce, including sales agent assisted commerce, in a networked economy
Schmitt Customer experience management: A revolutionary approach to connecting with your customers
Peter et al. Consumer behavior and marketing strategy
Solomon Consumer behaviour: A European perspective
Denegri‐Knott et al. Concepts and practices of digital virtual consumption
US7618303B2 (en) System and method for toy adoption marketing
Williams Inside toyland: Working, shopping, and social inequality
US20060100018A1 (en) System and method for toy adoption and marketing
US20040242326A1 (en) On-line game method
Messinger et al. Virtual worlds—past, present, and future: New directions in social computing
US20050096975A1 (en) Method and system for interactive advertisement
Lindstrom Brandchild: Remarkable insights into the minds of today's global kids and their relationship with brands
Shaw et al. Building great customer experiences
Montgomery Generation digital: Politics, commerce, and childhood in the age of the Internet
Hill Emotionomics: Leveraging emotions for business success
Godin Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
US7465212B2 (en) System and method for toy adoption and marketing
US6729884B1 (en) E-Critter game for teaching personal values and financial responsibility to a child
US20080270240A1 (en) Systems and methods of managing tasks assigned to an individual
Linn Consuming kids: Protecting our children from the onslaught of marketing and advertising

Legal Events

Date Code Title Description
AK Designated states

Kind code of ref document: A2

Designated state(s): AE AG AL AM AT AU AZ BA BB BG BR BY BZ CA CH CN CO CR CU CZ DE DK DM DZ EE ES FI GB GD GE GH GM HR HU ID IL IN IS JP KE KG KP KR KZ LC LK LR LS LT LU LV MA MD MG MK MN MW MX MZ NO NZ PL PT RO RU SD SE SG SI SK SL TJ TM TR TT TZ UA UG US UZ VN YU ZA ZW

AL Designated countries for regional patents

Kind code of ref document: A2

Designated state(s): GH GM KE LS MW MZ SD SL SZ TZ UG ZW AM AZ BY KG KZ MD RU TJ TM AT BE CH CY DE DK ES FI FR GB GR IE IT LU MC NL PT SE TR BF BJ CF CG CI CM GA GN GW ML MR NE SN TD TG

121 Ep: the epo has been informed by wipo that ep was designated in this application
AL Designated countries for regional patents

Kind code of ref document: A3

Designated state(s): GH GM KE LS MW MZ SD SL SZ TZ UG ZW AM AZ BY KG KZ MD RU TJ TM AT BE CH CY DE DK ES FI FR GB GR IE IT LU MC NL PT SE TR BF BJ CF CG CI CM GA GN GW ML MR NE SN TD TG

AK Designated states

Kind code of ref document: A3

Designated state(s): AE AG AL AM AT AU AZ BA BB BG BR BY BZ CA CH CN CO CR CU CZ DE DK DM DZ EE ES FI GB GD GE GH GM HR HU ID IL IN IS JP KE KG KP KR KZ LC LK LR LS LT LU LV MA MD MG MK MN MW MX MZ NO NZ PL PT RO RU SD SE SG SI SK SL TJ TM TR TT TZ UA UG US UZ VN YU ZA ZW

32PN Ep: public notification in the ep bulletin as address of the adressee cannot be established

Free format text: COMMUNICATION PURSUANT TO RULES 85A AND 85B EPC FORM 1217-1218 SENT 050603

122 Ep: pct application non-entry in european phase
122 Ep: pct application non-entry in european phase
NENP Non-entry into the national phase in:

Ref country code: JP