WO2001069830A2 - Networked interactive toy system - Google Patents

Networked interactive toy system Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2001069830A2
WO2001069830A2 PCT/IL2001/000248 IL0100248W WO0169830A2 WO 2001069830 A2 WO2001069830 A2 WO 2001069830A2 IL 0100248 W IL0100248 W IL 0100248W WO 0169830 A2 WO0169830 A2 WO 0169830A2
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
toy
user
interactive
toys
content
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/IL2001/000248
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO2001069830A3 (en
Inventor
Oz Gabai
Jacob Gabai
Nimrod Sandlerman
Nathan Weiss
Susan Eve Vecht-Lifschitz
Zvika Pfeffer
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
Priority to US60/189,915 priority Critical
Priority to US18991600P priority
Priority to US18991500P priority
Priority to US18991400P priority
Priority to US60/189,914 priority
Priority to US60/189,916 priority
Priority to US60/191,300 priority
Priority to US19130000P priority
Priority to US19087400P priority
Priority to US60/190,874 priority
Priority to US60/192,014 priority
Priority to US19201300P priority
Priority to US19201400P priority
Priority to US19201200P priority
Priority to US19201100P priority
Priority to US60/192,012 priority
Priority to US60/192,013 priority
Priority to US60/192,011 priority
Priority to US60/193,703 priority
Priority to US19370400P priority
Priority to US19370200P priority
Priority to US19370300P priority
Priority to US19369700P priority
Priority to US19369900P priority
Priority to US60/193,699 priority
Priority to US60/204,201 priority
Priority to US60/193,697 priority
Priority to US60/193,704 priority
Priority to US60/193,702 priority
Priority to US60/195,863 priority
Priority to US19586400P priority
Priority to US19586200P priority
Priority to US19586600P priority
Priority to US19586500P priority
Priority to US60/195,865 priority
Priority to US19586100P priority
Priority to US19586300P priority
Priority to US60/195,862 priority
Priority to US60/195,866 priority
Priority to US60/195,861 priority
Priority to US60/195,864 priority
Priority to US19622700P priority
Priority to US60/196,227 priority
Priority to US60/197,579 priority
Priority to US19757600P priority
Priority to US19757700P priority
Priority to US19757300P priority
Priority to US19757900P priority
Priority to US19757800P priority
Priority to US60/197,576 priority
Priority to US60/197,573 priority
Priority to US60/197,578 priority
Priority to US60/197,577 priority
Priority to US60/200,641 priority
Priority to US20063900P priority
Priority to US20050800P priority
Priority to US20064700P priority
Priority to US20064000P priority
Priority to US20064100P priority
Priority to US20051300P priority
Priority to US60/200,639 priority
Priority to US60/200,508 priority
Priority to US60/200,640 priority
Priority to US60/200,647 priority
Priority to US60/200,513 priority
Priority to US60/203,182 priority
Priority to US20324400P priority
Priority to US20317500P priority
Priority to US20317700P priority
Priority to US20318200P priority
Priority to US60/203,244 priority
Priority to US60/203,177 priority
Priority to US60/203,175 priority
Priority to US20420000P priority
Priority to US20420100P priority
Priority to US60/204,200 priority
Priority to US60/207,128 priority
Priority to US20712800P priority
Priority to US20712600P priority
Priority to US60/207,126 priority
Priority to US60/208,105 priority
Priority to US20810500P priority
Priority to US60/208,390 priority
Priority to US20839000P priority
Priority to US20839100P priority
Priority to US20839200P priority
Priority to US60/208,392 priority
Priority to US60/208,391 priority
Priority to US60/209,471 priority
Priority to US20947100P priority
Priority to US60/210,443 priority
Priority to US21044500P priority
Priority to US21044300P priority
Priority to US60/210,445 priority
Priority to US60/212,696 priority
Priority to US21269600P priority
Priority to US60/215,360 priority
Priority to US21536000P priority
Priority to US60/216,237 priority
Priority to US21623800P priority
Priority to US21623700P priority
Priority to US60/216,238 priority
Priority to US60/217,357 priority
Priority to US21735700P priority
Priority to US21923400P priority
Priority to US60/219,234 priority
Priority to US22027600P priority
Priority to US60/220,276 priority
Priority to US22193300P priority
Priority to US60/221,933 priority
Priority to US60/223,877 priority
Priority to US22387700P priority
Priority to US22711200P priority
Priority to US60/227,112 priority
Priority to US60/229,371 priority
Priority to US22937100P priority
Priority to US60/229,648 priority
Priority to US22964800P priority
Priority to US60/231,105 priority
Priority to US23110500P priority
Priority to US23110300P priority
Priority to US60/231,103 priority
Priority to US23488300P priority
Priority to US23489500P priority
Priority to US60/234,883 priority
Priority to US60/234,895 priority
Priority to US60/239,329 priority
Priority to US23932900P priority
Priority to US25336200P priority
Priority to US60/253,362 priority
Priority to US60/250,332 priority
Priority to US25033200P priority
Priority to US60/254,699 priority
Priority to US25469900P priority
Priority to US26735001P priority
Priority to US60/267,350 priority
Application filed by Creator Ltd. filed Critical Creator Ltd.
Priority claimed from AU42713/01A external-priority patent/AU4271301A/en
Publication of WO2001069830A2 publication Critical patent/WO2001069830A2/en
Publication of WO2001069830A3 publication Critical patent/WO2001069830A3/en

Links

Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS OR 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 OR 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
    • A63FCARD, BOARD, OR ROULETTE GAMES; INDOOR GAMES USING SMALL MOVING PLAYING BODIES; VIDEO GAMES; GAMES NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • A63F9/00Games not otherwise provided for
    • A63F9/18Question-and-answer games
    • A63F9/183Question-and-answer games electric
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS OR BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H2200/00Computerized interactive toys, e.g. dolls

Abstract

Networked interactive toys (100) have real time conversations with users using speech recognition. Toys (100) are connected to at least one interactive toy server which is connected to entertainment, education, sales promotion providers by internet communication systems. The connection may utilize telephone lines, cellular communication systems, coaxial cable, satellite, DSL or other broadband systems. Toys (100) may be connected by a wireless link to a computing device which provides internet connectivity. Content is provided to enable a user to form a relationship with the toy and is personalized for the user and their environment including location and time of use. The merge of Interactie Television techniques will enhance the content.

Description

NETWORKED INTERACTIVE TOY SYSTEM

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS This application claims priority from the following co-pending US Provisional Applications:

60/189,914; 60/189,915; 60/189,916; 60/190,874; 60/191,300; 60/192,011 60/192,012; 60/192,013; 60/192,014; 60/193,697; 60/193,699; 60/193,702; 60/193,703 60/193,704; 60/195,861; 60/195,862; 60/195,863; 60/195,864; 60/195,865; 60/195,866 60/196,227; 60/197,573; 60/197,576; 60/197,577; 60/197,578; 60/197,579; 60/200,508 60/200,513; 60/200,639; 60/200,640; 60/200,641; 60/200,647; 60/203,175; 60/203,177 60/203,182; 60/203244; 60/204200; 60/204,201; 60/207,126; 60/207,128; 60/208,105 60/208,390; 60/208,391; 60/208,392; 60/209,471; 60/210,443; 60/210,445; 60/212,696 60/215,360; 60/216,237; 60/216,238; 60/217,357; 60/219,234; 60/220,276; 60/221 ,933 60/223,877; 60/227,112; 60/229,371; 60/229,648; 60/231,103; 60/231,105; 60/234,883 60/239,329; 60/250,332; 60/253,362; 60/254,699; and also from: a) a U.S. Provisional Application sent for filing on September 22, 2000; entitled "Networked interactive toy system as a conveyer and processor of personalized toy content"; and b) a U.S. Provisional Application sent for filing on February 9, 2001 ; entitled "Interactive toy applications".

FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to toys, in general, and particularly to toys used in conjunction with a computer system.

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.

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 improved computerized toys and methods of operation and generation suitable therefor.

One of the better accepted marketing solution concepts 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 concept 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.

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 indicates that as a customers' relationship with a company lengthens, profits rise. 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 needed 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 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.

According to the Web affiliation method, affiliated sites that reference a web-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 as 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.

Toys which are controlled by integrated or remote computer circuitry and that are capable of providing sensory input and output including speech, movement, and voice input are known. Such toys generally fall within the following categories:

Toys controlled by integrated computer circuitry. Such toys are relatively expensive and have a limited flexibility of operation in that such toys either support only preprogrammed operational modes or should be periodically reprogrammed for different operational modes. One example of such a toy is Computerized LEGO™ in which modular elements having a computer control module are assembled for operation independent from external computer control. Computerized LEGO™ does not support remote computer control during operation, rather programming instructions are downloaded to the Computerized LEGO™ elements prior to operation. Another example of such a toy is Microsoft BARNEY™ which provides both operation independent from external computer control as well as optional external computer control by wireless communication but without transfer of audio signals. In external computer control mode the external computer instructs the toy to produce sounds stored in a memory assembled with the toy.

Toys controlled by external computer circuitry where the toy is connected to the external computer via a digital port, such as the parallel or serial ports, and digital signals are used for communication between the toy and the external computer. Such toys are relatively expensive in that they require integrated digital-to-analog conversion circuitry for converting digital signals received from the external computer in order to communicate with its peripherals using analog signals, and/or analog-to-digital conversion circuitry for converting analog signals received from the toy's peripherals into digital signals in order to communicate with the external computer. An example of such a toy is described in U.S. Patent Number 5,746,602 which describes a toy connected to the digital ports of an external computer. The digital signals are converted to and from analog signals at the toy.

Toys controlled by external computer circuitry where the toy is connected to the external computer via an analog port, such as the speaker and microphone ports of a sound card, and analog signals are used for communication between the toy and the external computer. Such toys do not provide for sophisticated control of doll peripherals other than to provide output via speaker and input via microphone. An example of such a toy is described in U.S. Patent Number 5,636,994.

Toys controlled wirelessfy by external computer circuitry where wireless interface and communications circuitry are connected to analog and/or digital ports of the external computer. Such toys are relatively expensive as they require wireless communications circuitry as well as digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital converters. Examples of such toys include a toy described in applicant/assignee's U.S. Patent Number 5,752,880, as well as Microsoft BARNEY described above.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a toy is provided which connects via a connector assembled with the toy to interface circuitry connected to a digital port of a computer, where both the computer and the interface circuitry are external to the toy. The connection between the toy and the interface circuitry may be by wire, cable, or any known tethered means of communication known in the art, wireless or any known untethered means of communication known in the art, or any combination of such communications means.

Communication between the external computer and the toy are via analog signals, while control signals and audio signals sent between the computer and the interface circuitry are digital, the interface circuitry being connected to the computer's digital ports, such as serial (RS-232, USB) or parallel ports. To accommodate communication between the computer and the toy, the interface circuitry converts digital signals received from the computer into analog signals to be sent to the toy, and converts analog signals received from the toy into digital signals to be input to the computer via the digital port. Analog signals may be used to emulate digital signals by transmitting or withholding an analog signal, resulting in a binary effect.

The toy may be equipped with one or more peripherals, including a speaker, a microphone, switches, sensors, motors, etc. Where multiple peripherals are provided they are configured in a star topology, with one or more wires connecting each peripheral to a hub within the toy. Either the interface circuitry or the hub may include a multiplexer for one- peripheral-at-a-time support. Optionally, the toy may operate in free-standing mode under the control of a microprocessor assembled with the toy when the toy is not connected to the interface circuitry, with the toy reverting to the control of the external computer when the toy is reconnected to the external computer.

The present invention is believed to be advantageous over the prior art in that there is no need for expensive digital control and signal conversion circuitry to be assembled with the computer-controlled toy. In addition, the interface circuitry may be used with multiple computer-controlled toys, thereby reducing the unit cost per toy.

There is thus provided in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention a talking object control system operative in conjunction with a talking object and a computer, the system including a cable configured to be connected to the talking object, and talking object interface circuitry external to the talking object and connected to a digital port of the computer and operative to convert digital signals output from the digital port into analog audio signals and to transmit the analog signals via the cable to the talking object for output via a speaker associated with the talking object, thereby to imbue the talking object with a capacity to emit audio output.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the analog signals include speech signals and the audio output includes spoken messages.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the analog signals are transmitted via cable from the interface circuitry to the talking object.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the analog signals are transmitted wirelessly from the interface circuitry to the talking object.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the system also includes a talking object having a speaker.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the talking object includes a microphone and the interface circuitry is operative to convert analog signals collected by the microphone into digital signals and to input the digital signals to the computer via the digital port.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the talking object includes at least one motor imbuing the talking object with at least one motion capacity.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the talking object interface circuitry includes talking object motion interface circuitry operative to receive a digital motion command from the computer and transmit a corresponding motion control signal via the cable to the talking object, thereby to imbue the talking object with a motion capacity.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the talking object includes an audio memory storing at least one audio message, thereby to imbue the talking object with two modes of audio output including a first mode capacity to emit audio messages originating from the audio memory and a second mode capacity to emit audio messages originating from the computer.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the talking object includes at least one sensor and the interface circuitry is operative to receive sensory information collected by the sensor, convert the sensory mformation into digital signals, and input the digital signals to the computer via the digital port.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the sensor collects sensory information indicative of human proximity to the talking object.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention connection of the cable to the talking object causes termination of the first mode of audio output and actuates the second mode of audio output.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the system also includes a population of talking objects each having a speaker and each including a connector configured to be connected to the cable.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the population of talking objects includes a plurality of different talking object configurations.

There is also provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention a talking object operative in conjunction with. a computer and including a speaker and a connector configured to be connected to the computer, and to feed to the speaker audio signals received from the computer, thereby to generate a talking object having a wireless and hence unobstructed mode of play and a wired, computer-controlled mode of play.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention connection of the talking object to the computer actuates the wired, computer-controlled mode of play.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the talking object also includes talking object interface circuitry external to the talking object and connected to a digital port of the computer and operative to convert digital signals output from the digital port into analog audio signals and to transmit the analog signals via the connector to the talking object for output via the speaker.

There is also provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention a talking object control system operative in conjunction with a computer and including a talking object including a speaker, and a connector configured to be connected to the computer via a wired connection, and to feed to the speaker audio signals received from the computer, thereby to generate a talking object having a wireless and hence unobstructed mode of play and a wired, computer-controlled mode of play.

There is further provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention a talking object operative in conjunction with a computer and including a talking object including a speaker, and a connector configured to be connected to a computer via a wired connection and to feed to the speaker, audio data received from the computer, thereby to generate a talking object having a tethered mode of play and an untethered, computer-controlled mode of play.

There is additionally provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention a talking object system operative in conjunction with a computer and including at least one talking object including a speaker, and a connector configured to be connected to a computer and to receive audio signals therefrom, thereby to generate a talking object having an untethered mode of play and a tethered, computer-controlled mode of play.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the talking object system also includes talking object interface circuitry to the talking object and connected to a digital port of the computer and operative to convert digital signals output from the digital port into analog audio signals and to transmit the analog signals via the connector to the talking object for output via the speaker.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the at least one talking object includes a population of talking objects each having a speaker and each including a connector configured to be connected to an identical cable.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the population of talking objects includes a plurality of different talking object configurations.

There is also provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention a talking and listening object including a body, a speaker operative to emit audio contents received from an audio source, a microphone operative to provide collected audio to a speech recognition unit, and a visual cuer operative to provide a user with a visual cue indicating that the speech recognition unit is currently able to receive input. Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the talking and listening object also includes a speech recognition unit.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the talking and listening object also includes an audio source.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the speech recognition unit resides in a computer.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the audio source resides in a computer.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the visual cue includes a color change of at least one part of the body.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the visual cue includes a motion performed by at least one part of the body.

There is also provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention a talking and listening object including a body, a microphone operative to provide collected audio contents to a speaker-adaptive speech recognition unit, an entertaining trainer including an audio source operative to orally present a training session having play content and being operative to improve the speech recognition capabilities of the speaker-adaptive speech recognition unit, specifically for each individual user, and a speaker emitting audio contents received from the entertaining trainer.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the talking and listening object also includes a speaker-adaptive speech recognition unit residing in a computer and operatively associated with the microphone.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the entertaining trainer resides in a computer.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the entertaining trainer includes a computer game.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the body includes a toy.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the computer game includes a child-oriented computer game.

There is additionally provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention a talking and listening object including a body, a microphone operative to provide collected audio contents to a speech recognition unit, an entertaining trainer including an audio source operative to orally present a training session having play content and being operative to train a user to utter recognizable responses, and a speaker emitting audio contents received from the entertaining trainer.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the trainer is operative to utter at least one model of a recognizable response and to prompt the user to reproduce the recognizable response.

There is also provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention a talking and listening object including a body, a microphone operative to provide collected audio contents to a speech recognition unit, an entertaining trainer including an audio source operative to orally present a training session having play content and being operative to train a user to utter recognizable responses, a speaker emitting audio contents received from the entertaining trainer, and a user response analyzer receiving collected audio contents from the microphone and operative to diagnose a deficiency in user utterances and to command the speaker to emit a user-correcting message appropriate to the diagnosed deficiency.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the analyzer is operative to diagnose deficient volume of user utterances.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the analyzer is operative to diagnose deficient timing of user utterances.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the analyzer is operative to diagnose deficient contents of user utterances by comparing the user utterance to predefined keywords which the user's utterance is expected to contain.

There is also provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention a talking and listening object including a body, a microphone operative to provide collected audio contents to a speech recognition unit, an entertaining trainer including an audio source operative to orally present a training session having play content and being operative to train a user to utter recognizable responses, a speaker emitting audio contents received from the entertaining trainer, and a user response analyzer receiving collected audio contents from the microphone and operative to identify at least one characteristic of a user utterances that could be improved, and to command the speaker to emit a user-correcting message appropriate to the required improvement of the characteristic.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the analyzer is operative to identify inappropriate volume of user utterances.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the analyzer is operative to identify inappropriate timing of user utterances. Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the analyzer is operative to identify improvable characteristics of user utterances by comparing the user utterance to predefined keywords which the user's utterance is expected to contain.

There is also provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention a communicating object control system operative in conjunction with a communicating object and a computer, the system including a cable configured' to be com ected to the talking object, object interface . circuitry external to the communicating object and connected to a digital port of the computer and operative to convert digital signals output from the digital port into analog signals and to transmit the analog signals via the cable to the communicating object, the signals being operative to prompt some response from the communicating object, and speakers associated with the computer operative to provide an audio output from audio signals received from the sound card of the computer, thereby to imbue the communicating object system with a capacity to emit audio output.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the audio signals include speech signals and the audio output includes spoken messages.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the communicating object includes a microphone and the interface circuitry is operative to convert analog signals collected by the microphone into digital signals and to input the digital signals to the computer via the digital port.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the communicating object includes at least one motor imbuing the communicating object with at least one motion capacity.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the communicating object interface circuitry includes communicating object motion interface circuitry operative to receive a digital motion command from the computer and transmit a corresponding motion control signal via the cable to the communicating object, thereby to imbue the commivnicating object with a motion capacity.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the communicating object includes at least one sensor and the interface circuitry is operative to receive sensory information collected by the sensor, convert the sensory information into digital signals, and input the digital signals to the computer via the digital port.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the sensor collects sensory information indicative of human proximity to the talking object. It is appreciated throughout the specification and claims that the term "talking object" is intended to include objects capable of producing any type of sound such as, but not limited to, music, speech and special sound effects, and is not intended to be limited to objects which actually produce speech. Examples of talking objects include fanciful figures or other figures with amusement value, such as toys and dolls, as well as any object designed for human interaction for entertainment and/or education purposes.

A variety of mechanisms for providing security to networked computer systems are known, which include the use of firewalls, encryption and virus detection. Mechanisms exists that can prevent a user accessing certain types of information from a network such as the Internet. For example, Proxy Servers can be used to filter access to certain types of websites. Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5 has a Content Advisor filter that allows parents to specify which sites and types of sites a child Internet browser can access: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/Ie/Features/ContentAdv/default.asp.

One of the most serious problems that can occur because of widespread email usage is the sending of inappropriate and harassing material. eTrust Intrusion Detection (formerly SessionWall-3) by Computer Associates allows email content to be filtered for inappropriate content, and if necessary blocked. Such inappropriate content includes messages to or from corporate competitors, messages containing confidential information and messages that contain offensive language.

There exists a need in the art for improved and more focussed methods and mechanisms for preventing transfer of inappropriate content to users across a computer network such as the Internet, particularly if the user is a child user.

It is well known that an individual's ability to learn language is greatest as a child. Children often have close attachments to toys and speak to them.

Many individuals are with learning difficulties or have otherwise below average language abilities are often very sensitive about this issue. Using an interactive toy provides a non-intimidating environment for learning language.

(Even under ordinary circumstances - people may have hied to learn language via courses, video, computer programs etc. and are no motivated to try again. Learning from a toy or a doll - especially someone they can relate to may help them get motivated to learn the language and they will have someone like a person to relate to as they are learning.)

A preferred embodiment of this invention describes a the use of an interactive toy for the development of language skills in an individual. The toy can be used as an aid to the initial learning of native language in young, children, infants and babies. The toy can be used to aid the learning of more advanced language skills in older children and adults (and also children). The toy can also be used to help redevelop speech after loss due to lost trauma, concussion, accidents, Alzheimer's disease,' amnesia, and the like. The toy can also be used to aid in the teaching of a second or foreign language in an individual.

Computerized learning and teaching courses are known. Many packages exist for learning languages, mathematics, sciences, general knowledge, and the like. These are available on CD-ROM, TV, video, at web sites, learning courses at a distance, Open University courses, and the like.

The quantity, quality and diversity of learning courses available via these media are growing. It is anticipated that many kindergarten, school, college, training course, and university curricula will become available via these and other media in modularized standardized units. Students pay per module of learning using a credit/point system.

Computerized learning and teaching courses are known. Many packages exist for learning languages, mathematics, sciences, general knowledge, and the like. These are available on CD-ROM, TV, video, at web sites, learning courses at a distance, Open University courses, and the like.

The quantity, quality and diversity of learning courses available via these' media are growing. It is anticipated that many kindergarten, school, college, training course, and university curricula will become available via these and other media in modularized standardized units. Students pay per module of learning using a credit/point system.

Electronic diaries, which can be connected up to computer systems, are well known (Palm™ and the like) Verbal diaries employing voice recognition systems are known (US 5,602,963). Interactive toys have been described previously (US patent 5,752,880).

Computer card and gambling games are known. Recently, there has been upsurge in the number of Web sites on the Internet offering gambling. These may not be restricted by one's financial bracket, or one's ability to assess risks involved.

There are many ways for accessing product, service, residential, fax, and other information items via standard telephone company directory inquiries, telephone books and yellow pages, cellular telephone information services, internet Web-sites which provide information, CD-ROM packages, and the like.

Likewise, there are many known methods for dialing up services directly from computers, and/or from information services.

There are many parameters, which a medical doctor measures, analyses, and/or diagnoses in relation to the human body. Some of these are measured directly, such as temperature, blood pressure, metabolite concentration, and the like. Some of these are measured indirectly, and are consequential to human analysis of parameter measurement, such as heart function with respect to E.C.G., and brain fimction with respect to EEG, and the like.

There are many known sensors/ pieces of equipment, henceforth, tools, which can measure such parameters, and medical doctors use these tools to make diagnoses.

There are many known Internet Web sites which use a quantitative systematic determinative methodologies to lead Internet users to the required subset specialized field of medicine. For example, a user can start off with a broad medical definition, and the site will guide him to internal medicine (subset of general medicine) and from internal medicine to endocrinology (subset of internal medicine) and from endocrinology to specific hormone imbalance (subset of endocrinology).

Fitness is an intimate part of the spectrum of health and wellness. These issues have deep personal significance. People are often reluctant to share health mformation and/or initiate changes for fear of disapproval or discouragement from others. Demanding work and family schedules, frequent travel and/or relocation and lack of equipment or facilities severely limit access to the fitness resources individuals need to initiate and adhere to a regular exercise regimen. De-personalized solutions that keep emotional risks at bay- i.e. fitness videos, CD-ROMs and books- do not adapt to individual needs. They quickly become routine and fall by the wayside. Thus on the one hand people do not have the time or are not willing to expose themselves to using a human coach but on the other hand the use of videos etc. do not provide the personalized solutions offered by human coaches. Networked Interactive Toys as coaches and trainers are not known.

Agencies for finding specialized and unspecialized personnel are known. These agencies may advertise in newspapers, specialized journals, on the radio and the like. They may also try to hunt out specific people of known reputation and offer them one or more vacancies, which suit their credentials. Internet companies for finding personnel have recently become widespread. Similarly companies requiring personnel often advertise this on their Web-site.

However, there still are many occasions when an employer cannot find the right people to do the work, and people who are looking for work who do not know about positions available which might suit them. In other words, there is still a cornmunications problem in potential employers finding employees, and vice versa. There are many known tools and services available to the handicapped. These include hearing aids and accessories available to the hard of hearing, and deaf community, magnification systems, talking systems for the visually impaired, numerous gadgets for different types of disabilities, and the like.

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 are many charities and charitable services worldwide. Many charities have Internet web sites. Sometimes, it is difficult to match the need of a poor person to the availability of the resources, and sometimes there is a problem in communication and transportation of resources to the needy, particularly in war and Third World areas.

In the past few years there has been a revolution in the manner in which entertainment, education and commerce is being delivered to homes. This is basically a result of the merging of two extremely powerful entertainment, education and commercial media namely television (including movies which have been integrated into television systems for several decades) and computer networks such as the Internet. The merging of these two systems has become possible due to the continuously improving bandwidth of communication systems which provide broadband analog and digital links to homes worldwide. On the one hand Cable Television systems provide television programming to homes worldwide by connecting televisions in homes to coaxial cables or to satellite dishes which then often use extremely broadband links such as fiber optic links to connect to the Cable Service Provider. On the other hand digital data networks are being installed in people's homes at a very high rate either by cable companies themselves using an upgraded digital infrastructure (for transmitting data on coaxial cables) or by telecommunication companies which use packet switching technologies to provide internet service to subscribers' homes.

Due to the merging of television and computer networks the distinction between browsing the internet and watching television programs and/or watching movies or commercials on television is being greatly reduced. Full length digital movies may be downloaded from the Internet as can music with CD quality (currently using MP3 or similar compression schemes) as well as a wide range of e-commerce activities.. Computers in subscribers' homes are capable of controlling this content. For example they are capable of pausing, rewinding or fast-forwarding a movie.

There are currently available worldwide a broad range of Interactive Television systems which merge computer and television technologies into an integrated solution. Interactive Television systems such as, for example the system provided by Scientific- Atlanta Inc.) give viewers a convenient way to interact with programs and advertisements while they continue to watch TV. By clicking a remote control unit during an enhanced program or by use of a cordless keyboard or mouse, a viewer can access program — related mformation such as weather, news, sports updates, trivia and interactive games. A viewer may also request product samples, product descriptions, coupons and other free offers from advertisers as well as using e-commerce facilities to make purchases online. In some systems (such as a system by Peach Networks) a viewer may use a mouse, keyboard or simply a remote unit to send and receive email and even ran any computer application by using programs installed on a server accessible via the interactive television network (which, in fact, connects to the Internet).

Interactive Television systems typically use a device called a set-top box which is connected to a viewer's television set and to the cable provider's network. The network connection is usually via a coaxial cable although there are systems in which telephone lines are used for outgoing data and coaxial cables for incoming data. Satellite communication as well as fiber optic cables are often utilized as part of the infrastructure of these systems and, in the future, individual homes may be provided with connectivity to fiber optic or other extremely high bandwidth communication lines. An Interactive TV set-top box is equipped with a microprocessor or other computer chip which controls both signals f om the service provider and signals coming from a viewer and meant to control entertainment content. Incoming signals are typically received via a remote control unit but may also be received by a cordless keyboard and/or mouse. Set-top boxes are typically provided with serial or USB (Universal Serial Bus) interfaces to enable connection of other electronic devices to the set- top box.

Another preferred embodiment of the present invention relates to the use of Interactive toys in general and Networked Interactive toys in particular to purchase goods and/or services or to offer goods and services for sale via an online (web based) auction system. The toy acts as an intermediary in the auction system - either as an auctioneer or as a facilitator and aid to the seller or purchaser. Alternatively in case many users wish to purchase the same or related items, the toy (via the server to which it is connected) organizes a volume purchase arrangement in which sellers are given the opportunity to bid for the opportunity to supply such products to users at the lowest possible price.

Preferred embodiments and features of the present invention include:

A system whereby a user uses his toy to put products up for sale via a web based auction;

A system whereby a user uses his toy to bid on items which have been put up for auction either by other toy users or by other persons or companies;

A system whereby interactive toys find many users interested in purchasing the same or similar items and then ask suppliers to bid for the right to supply the item at an attractive price;

A toy (i.e. the computer, server and database to which the toy is connected) use some or all of the information about the user and about some or all other users on the Interactive Toy System (which is either directly given to the system by the user or determined from all earlier experiences of the toy with the user) to help the user determine which products to put up for bid, which products to bid on and at what price to bid.

The toy entices the user to use the auction system by suggesting it as a game which the user can play with the toy.

The toy aids the user in the choice of product on which to bid as well as the choice of price to bid.

The toy aids the user in the choice of product and price by treating it as a game such as a guessing game or word matching game.

The toy can suggest that the prize of any other game will be the fun experience of bidding in the auction system.

The toy aids in auctioning either new or used goods.

Users, either on their own, or, preferably, via their toys may offer goods auction with or without a reserve (minimum) price.

User tells his toy that he as a given amount of money and wants a particular item. Toy then helps user find an item which is up for auction which may be available within the user's price range.

User tells toy that he has a given amount of money and wants to buy one of several. Toy helps suggest one or more items on which to bid.

Community of toys can set up a real-time auction which may be open or closed (i.e. limited participation). (For example maybe only 6yr olds can participate.) In a real time auction some of many of the toys can act as auctioneers. The toys of many members of the community can ask their users - choice of likely candidates can be made using user profiles - whether they have a particular item which they would like to auction off. This can be presented as a game. "We know you have item X, would you like to auction it! I'll play the auctioneer!" (says the toy).

Toy uses its relationship with child to aid in process of suggesting and finding appropriate items and to encourage user to participate in auction.

Toy aids users who do not like to or cannot use the internet via a computer terminal

Toy uses speech - both speech recognition, text to speech and pre-prepared speech files to communicate with user.

Toy uses other sensors such as touch, sight, light sensing etc. to communicate with user.

The community of toys aids user to find product since it motivates other users to help given user find products.

User is offered incentives (in the form of points, free content or discounts) to listen to advertising as part of the experience.

Database of all activities is added to user profiles and to database of transactions.

Life experience of toy is enhanced by the auction experience giving the toy more unique personality.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention Interactive toys in general and Networked Interactive toys in particular search for information on the World Wide Web or on any other network or computer system which contains searchable information. Information is retrieved either from an existing database or, alternatively, users are asked if they know the requested information, preferably via their interactive toys.

Other preferred embodiments and features of the present invention include one, some or all of the following:

1. A system whereby a user uses his toy to search for products or information on the web. This information can either be simply a reference to further information (such as the location of a web site to which the computer can immediately go via its web browser) or contain the actual information content requeste.

2. This search for information uses information about the user in an essential way to narrow the search and weed out irrelevant information.

3. A toy (i.e. the computer, server and database to which the toy is connected) use some or all of the information about the user and about some or all other users on the Interactive Toy System (which is either directly given to the system by the user or determined from all earlier experiences of the toy with the user) to help the user formulate the search and to help the server find the most relevant result.

4. The toy entices the user to use the search system by suggesting it as a game which the user can play with the toy.

5. The toy aids the user in the search process by treating it as a game such as a guessing game or word matching game.

6. The toy can suggest that the prize of any other game will be the fun experience of searching for some information or product or service of interest to the user.

7. The toy helps in choosing categories for the search by knowing the interests of the user. The user is able to bypass this personalized information if necessary.

8. Community of toys can set up bulletin boards with information important to certain members of the community.

9. Toy uses its relationship with child to aid in process of suggesting and finding appropriate search results.

10. Toy aids users who do not like to or cannot use the internet via a computer terminal.

11. Toy uses speech - both speech recognition, text to speech and pre-prepared speech files to communicate with user.

12. Toy uses other sensors such as touch, sight, light sensing etc. to communicate with user.

13. The community of toys aids search since it motivates other users to help given user find product or information.

14. User is offered incentives (in the form of points, free content or discounts) to listen to advertising as part of the experience.

15. Database of all activities is added to user profiles and to database of searches.

16. Life experience of toy is enhanced by the search experience giving the toy more unique personality.

17. The search capability of toys plays an important role in the functioning of the toy system since it greatly expands the toy networks database. If, for example, a toy is playing a game with a user or users and requires some further information not on the database, it can search the web for this information.

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention Interactive toys in general and Networked Interactive toys in particular are used to purchase goods and/or services via a "reverse auction" system. In such a system a purchaser sets the price he is willing to pay for a particular product and then finds a supplier who is willing to supply the product at the requested price.

Still other preferred embodiments and features of the present invention include one, some or all of the following:

1. A system whereby a user uses his toy to search for a particular product or one of several products at a predetermined price.

2. A toy (i.e. the computer, server and database to which the toy is connected) which uses some or all of the mformation about the user and about some or all other users on the Interactive Toy System (which is either directly given to the system by the user or detemxined from all earlier experiences of the toy with the user) to help the user determine which product to purchase and what price to suggest.

3. A toy which entices the user to use the reverse auction system by suggesting it as a game which the user can play with the toy.

4. A toy which aids the user in the choice of product to purchase as well as the choice of price.

5. A toy which aids the user in the choice of product and price by treating it as a game such as a guessing game or word matching game.

6. A toy which suggest that the prize of any other game will be a fun experience finding something inexpensively by means of a reverse auction as described above.

7. A toy which aids in selling either new or used goods.

8. New or used goods are sold by commercial suppliers who preset their minimum price and update it whenever the wish to do so.

9. A supplier may also be queried directly by the server to further determine whether he is willing to sell at the given price.

10. Users either on their own or, preferably via their toys may offer goods for sale at a stated minimum price.

11. User tells his toy that he has a given amount of money and wants to buy a particular item. Toy then helps user find this item at given price.

12. User tells toy that he has a given amount of money and wants to buy one of several items at that price. Toy helps find one of given items at given price. 13. User tells toy that he has a given amount of money and wishes to buy anything or a gift with that amount of money. Toy suggests appropriate products using database of user and toy profile.

14. Toy also offers for sale content for the toy itself or other toys or accessories for the given toy.

15. Products can be either sold by one user to another or a product can be bartered for another product.

16. Toy can search for items for the user by asking other members of the community of toys if they have such an item to sell or barter.

17. The toys of many members of the community can ask their users - choice of likely candidates can be made using user profiles - whether they have such and item to barter or sell.

18. Toys can ask their users if they know another person or commercial establishment which has said item for sale/barter.

19. Toy uses its relationship with child to aid in process of suggesting and finding appropriate items and to encourage user to participate in reverse auction activities.

20. Toy aids users who do not like to or cannot use the internet via a computer terminal.

21. Toy uses speech - both speech recognition, text to speech and previously prepared speech files to communicate with user.

22. Toy uses other sensors such as touch, sight, light sensing etc. to communicate with user.

23. The commivnity of toys aids user to find product since it motivates other users to help given user find products.

24. User is offered incentives (in the form of points, free content or discounts) to listen to advertising as part of the experience.

25. Database of all activities is added to user profiles and to database of transactions.

26. Life experience of toy is enhanced by the reverse auction experience thus giving the toy more unique personality.

Another preferred embodiment of the present invention uses networked interactive toys in selling and/or purchasing items for their users. The sales/purchase may be via one or more of the following systems: Internet sales, newspaper and media sales, and the like. A toy acts as an intermediary in a purchasing/selling system, either as a salesman or as a facilitator and aid to the seller or purchaser. Alternatively in case many users wish to purchase the same or related items, the toy (via the server to which it is connected) organizes a purchase arrangement in which sellers are given the opportunity to supply such products to users, preferably via an interactive toy server. The interactive toy server may charge commission for such services rendered via a toy.

Additional preferred embodiments and features of the present invention include one, some or all of the following:

1. A system whereby a user uses his toy to put products up for sale via Internet and/or standard media sales.

2. A system whereby a user uses his toy purchase items which have been put up for sale either by other toy users or by other persons or companies.

3. A system whereby interactive toys find many users interested in purchasing the ' same or similar items and then ask suppliers for the right to supply the item at an attractive price.

4. A toy (i.e. the computer, server and database to which the toy is connected) use some or all of the information about the user and about some or all other users on the Interactive Toy System (which is either directly given to the system by the user or determined from all earlier experiences of the toy with the user) to help the user determine which products to sell, which products purchase and at what price to buy .

5. A toy entices its user to use the sell/purchase system by suggesting it as a game, which the user can play with the toy.

6. A toy aids the user in the choice of product on which- to buy/sell as well as the choice of price to buy/sell.

7. A toy aids the user in the choice of product and price by treating it as a game such as a guessing game or word matching game.

8. A toy suggests that the prize of any other game will be the fun experience of buying/selling in these systems.

9. The toy aids in buying/selling either new or used goods.

10. Users either on their own or, preferably via their toys may offer goods for sale with or without a reserve (minimum) price.

11. A user tells his toy that he as a given amount of money and wants a particular item. Toy then helps user find an item, for sale, which may be available within the user's price range. 12. User tells toy that he has a given amount of money and wants to buy one of several. Toy helps suggest one or more items on which to bid.

13. Commuriity of toys may set up a real-time sale/auction which may be open or closed (i.e. limited participation). (For example maybe only 6yr olds can participate.)

14. In a real time sale/auction some of many of the toys may act as auctioneers.

15. Toys of many members of the community can ask their users - choice of likely candidates can be made using user profiles - whether they have a particular item which they would like to sell/auction off. This can be presented as a game. "We know you have item X, would you like to sell/auction it! I'll play the auctioneer!" (says the toy).

16. Toy uses its relationship with child/user to aid in process of suggesting and finding appropriate items and to encourage user to participate in sale or auction.

17. Toy aids users who do not like to or cannot use the Internet via a computer terminal.

18. A toy preferably uses speech and speech recognition, text to speech and pre- prepared speech files to communicate with user.

19. A toy preferably uses other sensors such as touch, sight, light sensing etc. to communicate with its user.

20. The community of toys aids user to find product since it motivates other users to help given user find products.

21. A user is offered incentives (in the form of points, free content or discounts) to listen to advertising as part of the experience.

22. A database of all activities is added to user profiles and to database of transactions.

23. A life experience of a toy is enhanced by the sale/auction experience giving the toy more unique personality.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a talking object control system is operative in conjunction with a talking object and a computer. The system includes a cable configured to be connected to the talking object, and talking object interface circuitry external to the talking object and connected to a digital port of the computer. It is operative to convert digital signals output from the digital port into analog audio signals and to transmit the analog signals via the cable to the talking object for output via a speaker associated with the talking object, thereby to imbue the talking object with a capacity to emit audio output.

In another preferred embodiment of the current invention, wireless communication is achieved by providing toys with a cellular, or other, mobile phone, or with some or all of the hardware contained in a cellular phone.

Another preferred embodiment of the present invention employs and alternative of the affiliation method used in the Web, that has been modified for real world stores (r-stores = real world stores; similarly to e-stores that are web based stores). Toys and similar portable devices are used to convey promotional and advertising material to users, preferable in verbally interactive form, encourage the users to visit shops.

Another preferred embodiment of the present invention describes a multipoint, adaptable, context-based system of filters system for securely preventing transmission and receipt of inappropriate content over an interactive computer-based network, particularly a network of interactive toys. These filters filter out unacceptable speech and other undesired inputs, and prevent undesired outputs to the interactive toys.

Another preferred embodiment of the present invention employs networked interactive toys to correct human behavior. Interactive toys have distinct advantages over humans, in that they can help in the same way as a human, yet remain inanimate and discreet. A toy accompanies his user and is available for being contacted, without appearing as an intrusion or invasion of user privacy.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention a system of networked interactive toys (as described in this document) is used for purposes of Research and Development (R&D) in a variety of fields of research. Research may be either in areas directly related to the interactive toy network or in areas of interest other establishments of academic and/or commercial orientation.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a system of networked interactive toys are used to obtain information from users which, together with other information collected by the Interactive Toy System (ITS) or collected by other means, may be used to enhance the entertainment, educational and commercial value of such toys. Furthermore the multitude of information collected which is related to individual users or to various categories of users makes the IT'S a powerful consumer database and profiling system which has commercial value even to commercial enterprises which are unrelated to the ITS since it contains information on users and their personal habits. 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. The buyer is a child and is legally not accountable financially. The point of sale is a toy and the interaction is preferably verbal, and 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.

A preferred embodiment of the present invention describes use of interactive networked toys as diaries and personal organizers for their users. These may employ user voice recognition systems, and user voice toy-activation. These may further employ user voice-authorization purchase of items.

Another preferred embodiment of the present invention describes one action purchase employing networked interactive toys. This may be user voice-activated, user motion activated, or the like. This system employs activation using voice recognition and preferably one- word-purchase. This utilizes organizational structure of networked toy systems and all' personal information and associated security systems to enable toy users to perform purchases, preferably, one-word purchases. A toy user embarks on his shopping experience and his access to items is limited by pre-authorized access and spending limits (credit limits). These are based his personal history (age, financial situation, payment scheme, segment entitlement, and the like) He embarks on his shopping not only with pre-authorization, but also with interactive toy server (I.T.S.) pre-approval for his shopping

This invention further allows a user to change his mind and cancel the purchase, but such a user may be penalized, and may be prevented from recurrent changing of mind/decision.

Another preferred embodiment of the present invention describes the application of a network of interactive toys to supporting teaching and learning systems, providing individualized "tailor-made" courses to suit their users learning capacity, rate, and level, and adding another dimension of learning for toy users. Networked interactive toys provide and aid teaching for users individually, in classes, with and without a computer medium. The interactive toy server charges providers of learning and teaching content commission for providing such products and services to their toy users.

In a further preferred embodiment of the present invention, a network of interactive toys is applied to providing a method and service of gambling. This may be gambling for real money or for points or for imaginary money or any combination thereof. This is preferably pre-authorized by a user to suit his income bracket, age, and the like.

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention is networked interactive toys are used and applied as a verbal directory inquiry service. This service may act in similar way to yellow pages in finding phone, facsimile, address, and other details of individuals, businesses, and services.

Directory inquiry services may be operated either by verbal word recognition, or by spelling out the required verbal inputs(s). An interactive toy is preferably able to dial/call the required numbers, and/or activate computer printer system to print out lists. An interactive toy is preferably able to place orders, buy products and services as requested by a user, having dialed one or more required telephone/fax numbers, or sent electronic mail or by any other information transfer technologies.

Another preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises networked interactive toys that are used to play music, preferably of high quality, to users in addition to other types of content provided thus enhancing the entertainment, educational and commercial value of a system of such toys.

A preferred embodiment of this invention describes use of networked interactive toys in providing medical services to their users. These services include, but are not limited to, real-time parameter measurement, wired or wireless relaying of information to and from medical centers, doctors and the like, systemic diagnoses with or without medical doctor intervention. They also include connecting to Internet sites, medical centers, help-lines, computer servers and databases and the like, biofeedback systems, preventative medicine and the like, marketing and promoting medical and health services and the like.

Interactive toys are equipped with tools for parameter measurement, as well as safety, security, and alarm systems, to enable their users to play with/use these toys without fear of losing anonymity, medical injury, or being left alone when urgent medical help is required.

A preferred invention of the present invention uses of Interactive toys in general and Networked Interactive toys in particular to assist toy users in developing, implementing and adhering to health & exercise program/s selected and designed to meet the user's individual needs and goals. The Toy may act both as a coach and as a trainer in order to achieve these goals. A further preferred embodiment of this invention describes the application of networked interactive toys in acting as a headhunting service, and as providing and employment agency service.

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention, a system of networked interactive toys is used for the purposes of interactive verbal advertising. Interactive verbal advertising occurs, for example, when an advertiser (in this case an ineractive toy) presents his "sales pitch" using recorded, simulated, computer generated or other verbal means in such a way that the content of the advertiser's speech and/or his other actions depends on the toy user's response to some or all of his previous speech and/or actions. The toy thus gives the impression of interacting with the user in a manner similar to but more powerful than that of an actual human salesman. The toy advertiser has may also use the reactions of other users to his "sales pitch" to modify his sales strategy.

Another preferred embodiment of the present invention describes a networked interactive changeable form toy whereby changes of toy content correspond to changes in the configuration of toy parts.

Another preferred embodiment of the present invention uses systems to download Internet content to talking units, to produce a "Classic" range of dolls.

A further preferred embodiment of this invention describes the application of networked interactive toys in acting to provide products and services to aid disabled and handicapped people.

Still another preferred embodiment of this invention describes the application of networked interactive toys in providing users with items, preferably on a "pay-per-item" basis.

Yet another preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises networked interactive toys that may be "cloned" in the sense that their "personality" may be transferred from one physical to another toy or to a "virtual toy" comprising an animated form of said toy appearing on a computer or other such screen. The ability to clone toys enhances both the entertainment value and the commercial value of a network of such toys.

Another preferred embodiment of 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.

Still another further preferred embodiment of this invention describes the application of networked interactive toys in raising money for charities, providing charitable services and in aiding commumcation between charity suppliers and receivers.

A further preferred embodiment of the present invention relates to a touch sensor for hair, fur or any kind of hair-like device attached to an interactive toy that is used in order to indicate that a user has touched the toy's hair in a certain way. Although the hair-sensor described by this invention in planned for a networked interactive toy as detailed below, it is appreciated that this hair sensor may be used for any electronically controlled toy with any mechanism for responding for input from such a hair sensor.

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention networked interactive toys are used to track the location of users while they are, for example, on a trip and to guide them in a variety of ways that enhance the education, entertainment and commercial value of such toys. In addition, interactive toys in action as tour-guides can be used to enhance cooperation between sites of tourism all over the world and a system of such toys. These toys can be further used to collect information on travel trends and tourism that is of value to other establishments involved in such fields.

Another preferred • embodiment of the present invention comprises a networked system of interactive toys that are used in order to visually recognize their users and/or their users' motions and/or other objects in a variety of ways which enhance the entertainment and commercial value of such toys. As a secondary function, such toys help their users to create digital films using a video camera mounted on a toy, and to send such films on a network for the purpose of entertainment or surveillance.

In a further preferred embodiment of the present invention, an interactive toy builds a relationship with its user, builds a database of information about its user, and uses that information to present a sales promotion scenario individualized to its user.

Another preferred embodiment of the present invention describes a networked interactive doll with a fanciful feminine appearance and extensive mobility of body parts, whereby content changes in correspondence to toy movement.

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention includes an authoring tool that allows time synchronized script writing of actions for an interactive toy whereby: 1) Toy hardware limitations are talcen into account; and 2) A simulator is provided whereby toy synchronized speech and motion may be previewed. A further preferred embodiment of the present invention contains a user interface for Networked Interactive Toys. Interactive toys preferably have sensors and actuators which allow tactile, kinetic and other forms of interaction with a user. 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.

Still another preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises an integrated system of home entertainment and home automation in which one or more interactive toys participates in and/or provides control of household devices including entertainment media, appliances and other electrically controlled household devices. Commercial applications of interactive toys when used in conjunction with the aforementioned system are further described below.

A further preferred embodiment of this invention comprises a user manual for an interactive development environment (I.D.E.). This allows any company or individual or other who wishes to provide content to objects such as toys employing such "Living Object" technology to create and test scripts, and other forms of content for these objects.

A still further preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises an outline and screenshots of client software for toys incorporating "Tiving objects' technology." This software which may reside on a user's local computer, or on a Web server includes s Shop and a Users' Club in which commercial and other services are provided to users.

There is thus provided in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention a toy system including: a plurality of toys, at least some of which have differing content filtering relevant characteristics, the plurality of toys being adapted for communication along a computer network, at least one content communication filter cooperating with at least some of the plurality of toys and being operative to govern the content of at least part of the communication of the plurality of toys along the computer network, the at least one content communication filter applying at least one content filtration criterion which is at least partially a function of at least one of the differing content filtering relevant characteristics.

Also in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system, wherein the at least one content communication filter governs the content received by at least one of the plurality of toys along the computer network. Additionally, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system, wherein the at least one content communication filter governs the content transmitted by at least one of the plurality of toys along the computer network.

Further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the at least one content communication filter includes a plurality of content communication filters, each cooperating with at least one the plurality of toys.

Yet further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the at least one content communication filter applies at least one content filtration criterion which is at least partially a function of dynamic content characteristics.

Still further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the at least one content communication filter applies at least one content filtration criterion which is at least partially determined by an operator of at least part of the system.

Moreover, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the at least one content communication filter applies at least one content filtration criterion, which is at least partially determined in an interactive manner.

Furthermore, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the at least one content communication filter is operative to filter content relating to toy speech.

Additionally, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system, wherein the at least one content communication filter is operative to filter content relating to physical actions of a toy.

Also, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the at least one content filtration criterion is at least partially a function of the geographical location of the toy.

Further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the at least one content filtration criterion is at least partially a fimction of the cultural milieu in which the toy is resident.

Further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the at least one content filtration criterion is at least partially a function of at least content filtering relevant characteristics of a transmitting toy transmitting the content and of at least one receiving toy, receiving the content.

Yet further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the at least one content filtration criterion is at least partially a function of at least one characteristic of a user of the at least one receiving toy, receiving the content.

Still further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the at least one content filtration criterion is at least partially a function of at least one characteristic of a user of a transmitting toy, transmitting the content.

Additionally, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the at least one content filtration criterion is at least partially a function of at least one characteristic both of a user of the at least one receiving toy, receiving the content and of a user of at least one transmitting toy, transmitting the content.

Moreover, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the content bears a digital signature confirming its origin.

There is thus provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention a toy system including: a plurality of toys, at least some of which have local databases associated therewith, at least one correlation database in communication with the local databases and being operative to store correlated, non-toy specific information based on information received from a plurality of the local databases.

Also, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the local databases are located within individual toys.

Additionally, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the local databases are located within individual computers external to and communicating with the individual toys.

Further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the at least one correlation database communicates with the local databases in a manner such that not all of information stored in the local databases is made available to the at least one correlation database.

Yet further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein at least some individual toy identification information stored in the local databases is not made available to the at least one correlation database. Still further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein no individual toy identification information stored in the local databases is made available to the at least one correlation database.

Moreover, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the local databases store information relating to individual users of the plurality of toys, including individual user identification information.

Furthermore, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein information relating to individual users of the plurality of toys, excluding individual user identification information, is made available to the at least one correlation database.

Additionally, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the plurality of toys includes at least one toy having user interaction characteristics which change over time.

Also, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the information received from the individual databases is correlated with changes in the user interaction characteristics.

Furthermore, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the information received from the individual databases relates to individual user activities.

Additionally, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the individual user activities include user physical activities and user speech.

Moreover, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the individual user activities include user activities having commercial significance.

Further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system, wherein the user activities having commercial significance are correlated with activities of the at least one toy having user interaction characteristics which change over time.

Yet further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the user interaction characteristics change over time in response to toy motivation inputs received by the at least one toy over a computer cornmunication network. Still further, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a toy system wherein the at least one correlation database contains information correlating the user interaction characteristics with the individual user activities.

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:

Fig. 1 is a block diagram of a computer communicating with a toy(s), a network, or a series of networks, in which communication may be achieved by a cell phone or hardware- containing cellular phone technology connecting a user to a server or Internet Service Provider;

Figs. 2-4 are simplified flowcharts of toys with sensors sensing sound, vibration, touch, heat, light, motion, vision, or a combination thereof;

Figs. 5-6 are pictorial illustrations of an Interactive Toy System which encourages users to bring a toy to a target destination;

Fig. 7 is a simplified flowchart illustrating a toy's interactive responsive advertising to a user;

Fig. 8 is a simplified flowchart illustrating an interactive toy employing other toy and their users in the system as part of a sales force;

Fig. 9 is a simplified pictorial illustration of a computer-controlled talking object system constructed and operative in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 10 is a simplified pictorial illustration of a computer-controlled talking object system constracted and operative in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 11 is a simplified pictorial illustration of a computer-controlled talking object system constructed and operative in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 12 is a simplified pictorial illustration of the computer-controlled talking object of Fig. 10 showing a connector and a controller in greater detail;

Fig. 13 is a simplified pictorial illustration of the computer-controlled talking object of Fig. 9 showing a connector in greater detail;

Fig. 14 is a simplified pictorial illustration of the computer-controlled talking object of Fig. 11 showing a multiplexing connector in greater detail;

Fig. 15 is a simplified block diagram of the interface circuitry of Fig. 9, constructed and operative in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention; Fig. 16 is a simplified block diagram of the interface circuitry of Fig. 11, constructed and operative in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 17 is a simplified flow illustration of modes of operation of the computer- controlled talking object system of Fig. 9, the method operative in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 18 is a simplified flow illustration of submodes of operation relating to processing digital signal data received via the serial or parallel port of a computer to which the interface circuitry of Fig. 15 is connected, the method operative in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 19 is a simplified flow illustration of submodes of operation relating to processing digital signal data received via the serial or parallel port of a computer to which the interface circuitry of Fig. 16 is connected, the method being operative in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 20 is a simplified flow illustration of a timer method useful in understanding the methods of Figs. 19 and 20, the timer method being operative in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 21 is a simplified pictorial diagram of three configurations of the computer- controlled talking object of Fig. 9, constructed and operative in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 22 is a simplified pictorial diagram of the three computer-controlled talking objects of Fig. 21, illustrating their ability to be serially connected, via a cable or multiplex cable, to interface circuitry and a computer in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 23 is a simplified operational flow chart of an entertaining trainer system for the entertaining training of a child user of a computer-controlled talking object, constructed and operative in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 24 is a simplified pictorial illustration of a computer-controlled talking object system, showing an entertaining trainer, constructed and operative in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 25 is a block diagram of an interactive toy containing a celular phone contacting a phone network, which, in turn, contacts a global network such as the Internet;

Fig. 26 is a block diagram of an interactive toy equipped with an LCD screen for viewing information or transferring information to the user via sound or motion; Fig. 27 is a pictorial illustration of a child using a direct link to his computer while at home and a cellular network, while away from home;

Fig. 28 is a pictorial illustration of hardware used in the situation in which a child uses a direct link to his computer while at home and a cellular network while away from home;

Fig. 29 is a simplified flowchart illustrating the connection between an interactive toy server and various other system computer connections and communications;

Fig. 30 is a block diagram illustrating a decision process in a case where an interactive cell phone toy links up to a computer system or communicates via a cellular system;

Fig. 31 is an illustration whereby one or more computers interact with one or more interactive toys;

Fig. 32 illustrates interactive toys providing gaming and advertising mformation for their users after receiving input from remote game and advertising servers;

Fig. 33 is a pictorial illustration depicting a user's susceptibility to advertising campaigns selling peripheral material related to his interactive toy;

Fig. 34 is a flow illustration of an interactive toy directing a user to frequent an establishment or utilize new products;

Fig. 35 is an illustration of the system involved in which the interactive toy directs the user to utilize a new product;

Fig. 36 is an illustration of the system involved in which the interactive toy influences the user to frequent a particular store and encourage a purchase;

Fig. 37 is a pictorial illustration of an interactive toy updating its server system with relevant information connected to the user's preferences, likes and dislikes, and responses to the system's advertising campaigns;

Fig. 38 is a pictorial illustration demonstrating the main parts of an Interactive Toy System (I.T.S.), comprising one or more interactive toys at various locations connected to one or many computers, which, in turn, may or may not be connected to a local area network;

Fig. 39 is a simplified flowchart depicting the main parts of an Interactive Toy System (I.T.S.);

Fig. 40 is an illustration of an interactive toy equipped with video cameras to send or receive messages to the network; Fig. 41 is a block diagram illustrating the relationship between the computer, the toy controller, and the radio base station whereby the connection between the computer and the radio base station is made through the sound board;

Fig. 42 is a block diagram illustrating the relationship between the computer, the toy controller, and the radio base station whereby the connection between the computer and the radio base station is made through the through the computer's serial or parallel ports;

Fig. 43 is a simplified flowchart of one or more interactive toys communicating via cellular phones and contacting providers and various Internet sites;

Fig. 44 is a simplified flowchart illustrating that an interactive toy may be equipped with one or more speakers, microphones, sensors and actuators, which control the motion of the toy;

Fig. 45 is a simplified flowchart illustrating the interactions between an interactive toy and its surroundings;

Fig. 46 is a block diagram of the hardware described in Fig. 45;

Figs. 47A and 47B are illustrations of one possible way in which an interactive doll markets products to a user and her friend, and pushes "have alike" and "be alike" concepts;

Figs. 48A and 48B are pictorial illustrations of the ability of an Interactive Toy System to perform and register a swap of interactive toys between two parties, and to credit/debit users according to the value of difference in "product received-product given";

Figs. 49A-49B are pictorial illustrations depicting the use of characterization in marketing media products such as movie tickets;

Fig. 50 is a pictorial illustration depicting an interactive doll entertaining and providing music upon request, and responding interactively;

Fig. 51 is a pictorial illustration demonstrating one function of an interactive toy, such as simulating human emotional attachment;

Fig. 52 is an illustration of a sample personalization screen in which the user's characteristics and preferences are conveyed to the computer via the computer terminal;

Figs. 53-56 are block diagrams illustrating the main processes that take place in the various advertising/toy and game/marketing/advertising/ and maintenance systems in distributing the relevant content and advertising materials to their users;

Fig. 57 is a block diagram showing the use of a password in identifying and locating the user by the toy with the use of a personal password;

Fig. 58 is a block diagram illustrating that a computer filter determines whether incoming content is suitable for transmission; Figs. 59-60 are block diagrams showing the functioning of a computer filter and the associated alarms which are activated in the event that the received input does not conform to preconceived input information;

Fig. 61 is a block diagram illustrating that inappropriate content received by a user can effect the receipt of future content by the same sender;

Fig. 62 is a block diagram illustrating a system's database mapping, segmenting, and slicing by criteria such as user and sender's history and toy profile;

. Fig. 63 is a simplified flowchart illustrating the placement of filters between content or entertainment providers and one or more ITS systems, and from the ITS systems to one or more users;

Fig. 64 is a block diagram illustrating the placement of filters between content or entertainment providers and one or more ITS systems, at places within ITS systems, and from the ITS systems to one or more users;

Fig. 65 illustrates a message displayed by the computer screen regarding the appropriateness of the content delivered from the entertainment provider;

Fig. 66 is a simplified flowchart depicting the specific locations of where filters may be employed in preventing inappropriate information being received in an ITS;

Fig. 67 illustrates a computer screen, in which initial settings for the teaching of a language can be entered for a particular user;

Fig. 68 is a simplified block diagram of a set up screen, in which personal details of a user can be entered;

Figs. 69A-69C are simplified flowcharts illustrating a method of language presentation by the toy;

Figs. 70A-70D are simplified flowcharts illustrating a further example of language presentation;

Fig. 71 is a simplified flowchart illustrating an example of random play for learning three animal names in English;

Fig. 72 is a block diagram illustrating an interactive toy adapting to one or several users according to their language abilities, and may or may not identify them according to their voice;

Fig. 73 is block diagram illustrating a toy's sensing mechanism in determining whether his user is asleep;

Fig. 74 is a pictorial illustration of the function and interaction of the user and the interactive toy in assisting the user to stop smoking; Fig. 75 illustrates the fimction and interactions of the user and the interactive toy in assisting the user in overcoming negative behavior patterns;

Fig. 76 is a pictorial illustration of the interactions of the user and the interactive toy in assisting the user (a spoilt child) by distracting and redirecting his attention away from a desired object or toy by evaluating the user's own voice pattern and receiving input from the I.T.S;

Fig. 77 illustrates the function and interactions of the user and the interactive toy in assisting the user in overcoming negative eating patterns;

Fig. 78 illustrates the division of a community of users into representative test groups;

Fig. 79 is simplified flowchart illustrating the use of test groups illustrated in Fig. 78 for the purpose of R&D;

Fig. 80 is a simplified flowchart illustrating the testing of a number of speech recognition techniques;

Fig. 81 is a simplified flowchart illustrating examples of research into problem detection in voice recognition;

Fig. 82 is a block diagram illustrating an example of research on toy hardware, determining the nature of typical hardware malfunctions;

Fig. 83 is a schematic illustration depicting an example of research on methods of teaching, and how such research may be useful in measuring the long-term contribution of education content to users in comparison to other users (or non-users);

Fig. 84 is a block diagram of an example of entertainment research whereby a toy collects information on the context of watching television programs;

Fig. 85 is a block diagram depicting the interaction between the user and the interactive toy and the opportunity to perform research on traffic habits;

Fig. 86 is a schematic representation of a basic structure of a database for use with Networked Interactive Toys, including the location of its various components;

Fig. 87 is a simplified flowchart illustrating several examples of types of events for which information may be sent, after a toy-to-user interaction, to a database on a server;

Fig. 88 is a block diagram illustrating an example of a procedure for handling information, which has been collected in the course of a relatively short period of time;

Fig. 89 illustrates a possible procedure by which an analysis of a record of events can be used to update a record of user information;

Fig. 90 illustrates the basic parts of a personal record of user information; Fig. 91 is a simplified flowchart illustrating an example of analysis of information about user habits that is collected over a large number of users;

Fig. 92 is a pictorial illustration depicting a typical record of toy life history;

Fig. 93 is a simplified flowchart illustrating an example of using a record of toy travels;

Fig. 94 is an illustration of an example of a database for content providers;

Fig. 95 illustrates a possible structure of a commercial database;

Fig. 96 illustrates the database input to a security unit;

Fig. 97 illustrates the possible location of a private database;

Fig. 98 is a block diagram illustrating the use of a private database;

Fig. 99 is a pictorial illustration of a preferred implementation of the present invention showing the network configuration and the main players;

Fig. 100 is a simplified flowchart of a preferred implementation of the present invention illustrating data flow between the major parties;

Fig. 101 is a pictorial illustration of a toy equipped with a toy control device;

Figs. 102-103 are block diagrams of the toy control device and the computer radio interface where the computer radio interface is connected to the computer via an analogue sound board or a digital peripheral port;

Figs. 104-105 present screen displays for setting up a user account;

Fig. 106 A is an illustration of three independent user accounts for music content;

Fig. 106B is a block diagram illustrating the tree-like linking of vendor-specific user accounts linked to a master user account;

Fig. 106C is a block diagram depicting a user account linked to three financial provider accounts, all providing music content;

Fig. 107 presents a screen display for managing a financial provider account of a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 108 illustrates the numerous ways in which an interactive toy may access information;

Figs-. 109A, 109B and 109C are block diagrams illustrating typical conversations between toy and user whereby the toy encourages the user to be entertained, order food, purchase tickets for movies and the like;

Fig. 110 is a block diagram illustrating a toy verbally reminding its user of meetings and other itinerary items; Fig. I l l is a block diagram depicting an example of a toy's function in helping a user to access diary or other information;

Fig. 112 is a block diagram illustrating an example of a "one-word-buy" (O.W.B.) flowchart;

Figs. 113A, 113B and 113C are block diagrams illustrating a typical one- word-buy routine employing an interactive networked toy and an Internet computer;

Figs. 114A, 114B and 114C are block diagrams illustrating a toy's vocalization of the mapping of fields of potential purchase for a user;

Figs. 115-116 are simplified block diagrams demonstrating the purchase routine involved when a user's voice and password have been authorized by an Interactive Toy System;

Fig. 117 is a block diagram illustrating a typical authorization subroutine;

Fig. 118 is a block diagram depicting a one-word-stop-transaction when a user does not want to purchase an item;

Fig. 119 depicts a typical screen, which an Interactive Toy System sends to a user, based upon fields of pre-authorized purchase;

Fig. 120 illustrates a screen provided by an Interactive Toy System showing a user his maximal limit for one transaction (transaction limit);

Fig. 121 illustrates examples of the numerous ways in which an interactive toy may access information from, and communicate with purchase/item supplier and toy user(s);

Fig. 122 is a simplified flowchart illustrating examples of volume purchase and auction using the current invention;

Fig. 123 is a simplified flowchart of an "auction party". in which only a limited number of users participate; the toys inform the users of what is occurring in the on-line auction and allows the users to adjust their bids;

Fig. 124 is an illustration of an auction game;

Fig. 125 is a block diagram illustrating the auction and volume purchase experience enhances the (virtual) "life experience" of the Interactive Toy and thus intensifies the uniqueness of each individual toy;

Fig. 126 is a flow illustration of an interactive toy initiating a purchase in a reverse auction;

Fig. 127 is a flow illustration of a toy obtaining information via other toys;

Fig. 128 is a simplified block diagram demonstrating the interaction between the user with a search engine via his toy, or alternatively via the computer directly; Fig. 129 is a simplified flowchart illustrating that each toy is a member of a community of toys;

Fig. 130 illustrates that a community of toys greatly enhances the search experience;

Fig. 131 is a block diagram depicting an example of a search activity and the interaction between the user and the toy;

Fig. 132 depicts the interaction via the network between the server, entertainment provider, mobile communication system, and the toy;

Fig. 133 is a simplified flowchart illustrating an example of the interactions involved between user and the toy in the reverse auction system;

Fig. 134 is a block diagram illustrating the reverse auction system;

Fig. 135 is a simplified flowchart illustrating the toy (via its computer and/or server) helping the user narrow his selection in a purchase and then search for either suppliers or other users who have specific items for sale;

Fig. 136 is a simplified flowchart illustrating the interactions involved in purchasing an item;

Fig. 137 is a simplified flowchart demonstrating a game that can be played involving the price of a particular item;

Fig. 138 is a block diagram illustrating a game a toy can play with the user and suggests, as a prize, that the toy will find the user some item which the toy ICDOWS that the user might want, at a price the user can afford;

Fig. 139 is a simplified flowchart depicting the user's initiation of the reverse auction activity;

Fig. 140 illustrates the numerous ways in which an interactive toy may access information;

Fig. 141 is a block diagram depicting the interactive toy server (I.T.S.) assisting the user in learning;

Fig. 142 is a pictorial illustration demonstrating an interactive toy server (I.T.S.) controlling learning courses for users;

Fig. 143 is a representation of an Action Panel of an action sound synchronizer in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 144 is a representation the main construction panel of an action sound synchronizer in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 145 demonstrates an example of the classic authors/characters doll in action;

Fig. 146 is a typical list of interactive networked toy diary functions; Fig. 147 is a pictorial illustration of the Internet server responsible for the network of interactive toys;

Fig. 148 A demonstrates a technological overview of an interactive toy system;

Fig 148B is a pictorial illustration demonstrating that Integrated Development Environment and Hardware are combined to create the Internet server responsible for the networked interactive toys;

Fig. 149 illustrates the numerous ways in which an interactive toy may access information;

Figs. 150A-150B depict simplified flowcharts that illustrate the interaction between user and toy;

Fig. 151 is a block diagram illustrating an example of an interactive toy's conversation~with its user in trying to find its user's person search;

Fig. 152 illustrates a system in which the community of interactive toys passes information one to/from the other;

Fig. 153 is a pictorial illustration of the numerous ways in which an interactive toy may access "yellow page" information;

Fig. 154 is a block diagram illustrating an example of a toy persuading its user to upgrade his personal computer;

Fig. 155 is a block diagram depicting an example of the procedure involved in upgrading a user's personal computer;

Fig. 156 is a block diagram depicting an example of an interactive search and the choice of musical content;

Fig. 157 is a block diagram illustrating an example of an Interactive Song Contest;

Fig. 158 is an illustration depicting a user listening to a "rock concert" performed by interactive toys;

Fig. 159 is a simplified flowchart illustrating an example of an interactive game with music;

Fig. 160 illustrates the provision of musical content in a controlled manner;

Fig. 161 is a block diagram of an interactive toy acting as a music instructor;

Fig. 162 illustrates a typical interactive networked toy doctor;

Fig. 163 is a pictorial illustration of a typical "working environment" for a toy doctor;

Fig. 164 is a block diagram illustrating a typical user-toy doctor interaction; Fig. 165 depicts a simplified flowchart illustrating that whenever an interactive toy server provides services, purchases items or information for the user, it may receive commission from the service providers;

Fig. 166 illustrates the numerous ways in which an interactive toy may access information either directly or indirectly;

Fig. 167 is a block diagram illustrating a typical method in which a toy provides its user with information such as employment information;

Fig. 168 is a block diagram demonstrating the interaction between user and interactive toy in purchasing via the Internet;

Fig. 169 is a block diagram depicting a toy advertising products interactively;

Fig. 170 illustrates a game between a user and a toy that advertises a product;

Fig. 171 is a block diagram demonstrating a toy's response to an external situation and advertises a product;

Fig. 172 is a simplified flowchart illustrating the interaction between a shopper and a toy at a shopping center that represents a famous media character;

Fig. 173 is a block diagram illustrating context-based interactive advertising;

Fig. 174 is an illustration of a toy responding to an external situation such as music being played at the background, and advertising a product;

Fig. 175 is a block diagram depicting a user's personal profile being developed by monitoring the history of a user's purchases and responses to advertising;

Fig. 176 is a pictorial illustration a toy helping its user to assemble toy parts into a valid configuration;

Fig. 177 is an illustration of various personalities or characters being depicted by a configuration of toy parts;

Fig. 178 is a simplified flowchart illustrating the correspondence between a toy character and aspects of toy behavior, and the interaction between a toy and its user;

Fig. 179 is a simplified flowchart demonstrating the attitude typical to a "vicious" character";

Fig. 180 is a block diagram illustrating of an interaction between a toy and its user where a toy changes its character in accordance with the direction from which its user approaches it;

Fig. 181 is a block diagram depicting a toy changing character in response to its user's emotional state; Fig. 182 is a block diagram demonstrating a toy assuming various characters in the course of delivering educational content;

Figs. 183-184 illustrate a series of LED 's, photoreceptors, and other components located in the toy;

Fig. 185 illustrates how motion in the toy is achieved;

Fig. 186 is a pictorial illustration of how toy parts can be assembled in various ways and into various configurations;

Fig. 187 is a block diagram demonstrating the interaction between the toy and user in locating an item the user wants to purchase;

Fig. 188 depicts examples from the Classical Collections of interactive toys;

Fig. 189 is a pictorial illustration demonstrating a user receiving a lesson in history via his interactive toy;

Fig. 190 illustrates that multiple toys, even from different collections, and can interact completely;

Fig. 191 describes the numerous ways in which an interactive toy may access mformation;

Fig. 192 is a pictorial illustration demonstrating the typical features of a walking interactive toy;

Fig. 193 is a simplified flowchart describing a typical method in which an interactive toy provides special services for the disabled users;

Fig. 194 illustrates an interactive toy accessing information either directly or indirectly on a "pay-per-item" basis;-

Fig. 195 illustrates a typical method by which a networked interactive toy provides items to its user employing a "pay-per-item" system;

Fig. 196 is a simplified flowchart demonstrating a typical method by which a networked interactive toy finds a suitable diet for its user;

Fig. 197 is a block diagram illustrating the typical interaction of a toy in persuading a user to keep to his diet regime;

Fig. 198 is an illustration depicting a toy's personality represented as a block within a toy's body;

Fig. 199 is a pictorial illustration of a toy's personality being cloned onto an animated computer image ("virtual cloning");

Fig 200 illustrates the difference between regular and merged clones; Fig. 201 is a simplified flowchart demonstrating the blending of a regular and a merged clone;

Fig. 202 illustrates that when users exchange toys with one another, concomitantly, the toys exchange personalities with one another;

Fig. 203 is a simplified flowchart illustrating how a user clones a new personality into a toy that is already in his/her possession;

Fig. 204 illustrates an example of slicing a toy's personality;

Fig. 205 illustrates the use of credit points with pre-approved budgets assigned by parents, guardians or by the user himself for various kinds of items to be purchased;

Fig. 206 is a pictorial illustration of a computer screen for point purchases;

Fig. 207 is a block diagram illustrating the interaction of the toy and user where the toy discovers the interests of the user and suggests websites that the user should visit;

Fig. 208 illustrates the numerous ways in which an interactive toy may access information such as a suitable charity;

Fig. 209 depicts a typical case in which an Interactive Toy System matches a volunteer's offer to a suitable charity;

Fig. 210 is an illustration describing the method that charities receive money on a pay-as-you-eam basis from charity donors via a toy and I.T.S.;

Fig. 211 illustrates examples of stroking a toy's hair;

Fig. 212 is a block diagram depicting the way a hair sensor in the toy is used with additional sensors;

Fig. 213 is a block diagram illustrating various examples of using a special comb with a hair sensor;

Fig. 214 is a block diagram demonstrating an episode of an interactive story with a hair sensor;

Fig. 215 is a schematic representation illustrating examples of location and direction tracking using mobile communication;

Figs. 216A and 216B are simplified flowcharts illustrating the procedure involved in choosing a website to visit;

Fig. 217 illustrates a toy tour-guide combining commentary and entertainment;

Fig. 218 is block diagram demonstrating a toy tour-guide acting as a translator;

Fig. 219 is a block diagram illustrating a trip planning procedure for a family;

Fig 220 is a simplified flowchart demonstrating the ability of a toy to recognize that a person has entered a room; Fig. 221 is a simplified flowchart depicting the ability of a toy to recognize the posture of the user;

Fig. 222 is a simplified flowchart illustrating motion recognition of a user by a toy;

Fig. 223 is a block diagram depicting motion and color recognition by a toy using a database record of relevant information;

Fig. 224A depicts a user receiving an interactive toy as a gift;

Fig. 224B illustrates a user's parent activating a toy;

Fig. 224C illustrates the situation after registration is complete and the toy is functional;

Fig. 225 is a simplified flow chart demonstrating example of a script which is designed to introduce a toy to a user and to give the impression that the toy has humanlike feelings;

Fig. 226 illustrates a user registration screen;

Fig. 227 depicts an example of the interaction and dialog that builds a relationship between a user and a toy;

Fig. 228 depicts an example of building a relationship between a user and a toy by doing things together;

Fig. 229 illustrates the interactions involved between a user and a toy that are used to develop a friendship;

Fig. 230 is a pictorial illustration of two users enjoying the interaction of their toys;

Fig. 231 is a simplified flowchart illustrating that multi-user communication is established when a toy "visits" the base computer of another toy;

Fig. 232 illustrates the use of information from a conversation between a toy and a user in developing a relationship;

Fig. 233 illustrates the use of a conversation between a user and a friend by a toy to purchase a new item;

Fig. 234 illustrates a toy assisting a user in getting what it needs by listening for key words and responding to them;

Fig. 235 is an illustration of the kind of information that may be collected by a user's toy and placed in a user information database;

Figs. 236A and 236B illustrate examples of three methods of acquiring information by either registration, a direct script, or an indirect subtle script;

Fig 237 depicts a toy obtaining information regarding a user's friends; Figs. 238A and 238B illustrate a user's likes and dislikes being determined in a context sensitive way;

Fig. 239 is a pictorial illustration depicting the updating of personal information about the user when the user and the toy visit a well-known location;

Fig. 240 illustrates the use of an environment database combined with a sales promotion database may design a sales promotion scenario;

Figs. 241 A and 241B demonstrate the selling of a different product to different toys;

Fig 242 is a block diagram illustrating that information from the user interaction database may be combined with information from a sales promotion database to advertise an item;

Fig. 243 illustrates the inclusion of a brand item in a script;

Figs. 244A and 244B demonstrate that a toy is employed to attract a user to visit a web site;

Figs. 245A and 245B depicts the employment of an interactive toy in sending a user into a store;

Fig 246 is a pictorial illustration of a child in a Burger Boy restaurant, and the restaurant has a point-of-sales talking burger;

Figs. 247A and 247B illustrate the use of an interactive toy in sending a user to a aj or theme park;

Fig. 248A and Fig. 248B demonstrate a method by which a toy and a toy server system track sales information;

Fig. 249 illustrates that sales promotion information for a single user may be combined from the information of many users into a multi-user summary for each promoter;

Fig. 250 is an illustration of a sample report that may be sent by the Interactive Toy Server to a given sales promoter for the purposes of billing;

Fig. 251 demonstrates that learned from previous advertisements with a single user can be used to improve future advertisements;

Fig. 252 is a simplified flowchart illustrating that the database on all users may be combined to improve advertisement success on a particular user;

Fig. 253 demonstrates that profiles on a user's friends may be used to enhance effectiveness of advertising;

Fig. 254 illustrates that advertising with an interactive toy can be embedded in a game played between the toy and a user;

Fig. 255 depicts that a toy can promote sales without using verbal expression; Fig. 256 illustrates that an advertisement on a television may be synchronized with a user's toy to provide more effective advertising;

Fig. 257 demonstrates that a toy can send a user to the computer screen for a visual presentation of a commercial message;

Fig. 258 A is a pictorial illustration of an interactive toy helping a user deal with a difficult situation and, at the same time, promote the sale of a gift;

Fig. 258B is a block diagram representing the illustration of Fig. 258 A;

Fig. 259 illustrates the system described by the current invention;

Fig. 260 is a simplified diagram of the system of a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. '261 is a diagram describing the employment of an Interactive Toy in changing the content of a movie, advertisement or other Interactive Television content;

Fig. 262 illustrates that a toy is an active participant in an Interactive Television program — in this case an advertisement for new doll clothes;

Fig. 263 is a pictorial representation of the interaction between a toy, a user's computer, and the Internet;

Fig. 264 illustrates 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;

Fig. 265 demonstrates a basic method of connecting a toy to computers on a network using a standard phone line;

Fig. 266 demonstrates the basic components of an RF unit;

Fig. 267 is a block diagram demonstrating that 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;

Fig. 268 is a schematic illustration of a system wherein one or more computers control toys roaming within a defined space;

Fig. 269 depicts an example of a Web Television System provides a medium for connecting Interactive Toys to a network, such as the Internet;

Figs. 270A-270B illustrate the general principle behind the method of connecting a toy to a network such as the Internet;

Fig. 271 illustrates that the cellular connection can be implemented using a standard toy controller for connecting a toy to a local PC; Fig. 272 is a pictorial illustration demonstrating that a networked interactive toy is connected to a "set-top box" by providing an RF link between a toy and a set-top box within RF range of a toy;

Fig. 273 is a block diagram illustrating a toy's response to motion and sensor's indications;

Fig. 274 is a block diagram demonstrating a conversation between a toy and a user about diet;

Fig. 275 is a block diagram illustrating that a conversation between a user and a doll can begin with one topic, change to a second topic, and progress to a third topic unrelated to the first;

Fig. 276 is a simplified flowchart illustrating a doll's response to being dressed up in a specific type of clothing;

Fig. 277 is a simplified flowchart depicting an example of an interactive doll helping its user to send and receive e-mails;

Fig. 278 illustrates a personal computer system under toy control that comprises a script- writing environment;

Fig. 279 illustrates an example of a graphic, display of a synchronized. time-line;

Fig. 280A is a pictorial illustration depicting the exterior structure of a Smart Alex type of toy; , •

Fig. 280B is a pictorial illustration demonstrating the interior structure of a SmartAlex type of toy;

Fig. 281 is a pictorial illustration depicting the rotational motor of a SmartAlex type of toy;

Fig. 282 is a pictorial representation of a computer screen display for authoring tool;

Fig. 283 illustrates an example for a procedure for generating, previewing and editing a synchronized time-line file of toy speech and motion;

Fig. 284 illustrates an example of a synchronized script for a race starter;

Fig. 285 is a pictorial representation of a computer screen display of an authoring tool in accordance with another embodiment of this invention;

Fig. 286 is a representation of an Installation computer screen;

Fig. 287 is a representation of a Setup computer screen;

Fig. 288 is a representation of a Toy Connection computer screen;

Figs 289A-289B are pictorial illustrations of the user interface of Interactive Toys;

Fig. 290 is a representation of a Toy Check computer screen; Fig. 291 is a representation of a Player screen;

Fig. 292 is a representation of a Plan and Play screen;

Figs. 293A-293B are representations of a Registration computer screen;

Fig. 294 is a representation of an Interests computer screen on which the user checks personal preferences;

Fig. 295 illustrates an Internet Library screen which permits the user to download content such as jokes, stories, songs, and games from the appropriate Internet server;

Fig. 296 is an illustration of a Mail computer screen, which allows the user to either send or receive mail;

Fig. 297 illustrates that the user can access a personal Address Book from the Inbox screen;

Figs. 298A-298B illustrate the Address book computer screens in which the user may accept or block messages by adding or removing the names of friends and their toys listed;

Fig. 299 is a pictorial representation of a Send Mail computer screen;

Fig. 300 is a representation of a Get Mail computer screen;

Fig. 301 is a representation of a Send Mail computer screen that allows for playing at a predetermined date and time;

Fig. 302 is a block diagram that illustrates a Home Automation System described by the present invention;

Fig. 303 is a pictorial representation of a household appliance controlled by a home personal computer;

Fig: 304 illustrates that a cable TV set-top box is used for connecting a variety of household appliances to a computer on a network;

Fig. 305 illustrates that a home automation system with one or more interactive toys comprises both a TV set-top box and a home personal computer;

Fig. 306 illustrates that a networked interactive toy is preferably connected to database records such as a record of weather reports that allow the toy to control household appliances more efficiently;

Fig. 307 demonstrates that an interactive toy function within a home automation system in accordance with a database record of its user's profile;

Fig. 308 is a box diagram illustrating that an interactive toy functions as an interface for controlling household appliances that is especially attuned to the needs of children; Fig. 309 is a box diagram illustrating that an interactive toy collects information about their users in the course of diverse interaction with them that enables the toy to provide incentives for handling household appliances in a personalized way;

Fig. 310 illustrates that an interactive toy can activate a household appliance and advertises products related to the appliance;

Fig. 311 is a pictorial illustration of interactive toys connecting to a network in a variety of ways;

Fig. 312 illustrates the actions of a self-recharging toy;

Fig. 313 is a pictorial illustration of a socket-device for a self-recharging toy that is sensitive to the safety needs of children;

Fig. 314 illustrates an example of a security method that is provided for verifying that a toy is plugged into the socket before recharging takes place;

Fig. 315 is a simple flowchart describing an example of complete self-recharging procedure;

Fig. 316 is a simplified flowchart illustration of the functionality of a content communication filter;

Fig. 317 is a simplified flowchart illustration of the functionality of a content communication filter governing the content transmitted along a computer network by an interactive toy;

Fig. 318 is a simplified flowchart illustration of a multi-point content filtration process;

Fig. 319 is a simplified flowchart illustration of an adaptive content filtration process;

Fig. 320 is a simplified flowchart illustration of the functionality of a content filtration criterion determined in an interactive manner;

Fig. 321 is a simplified table illustration of a keyword database record used in conjunction with a content filtration criterion, which is a function of dynamic content characteristics;

Fig. 322 is a simplified flowchart illustration of the functionality of a toy-motion filter;

Fig. 323 is a simplified flowchart illustration of the functionality of a content filter filtering content according to cultural milieu;

Fig. 324 is a simplified table illustration in the context of Fig. 323 showing a database record of filtration keywords utilized content filtration according to cultural milieu; Fig. 325 is a simplified flowchart illustration of the functionality of a content filter filtering content according to characteristics of a transmitting and a receiving toy;

Fig. 326 is a simplified table illustration in the context of Fig. 325 showing a database record of filtration keywords utilized in content filtration content according to characteristics of a transmitting and a receiving toy;

Fig. 327 is a simplified flowchart illustration of the functionality of content filter filtering content according to characteristics of a sending user and a receiving user;

Fig. 328 is a simplified flowchart illustration in the context of Fig. 327 showing a database record of filtration levels determined according to according to characteristics of a sending user and a receiving user;

Fig. 329 is a simplified block diagram illustration of a toy system comprising a plurality of toys having local databases associated therewith and a correlation database in communication with said local databases in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 330 is a simplified table illustration in the context of Fig. 329 showing a local database record located within an individual toy;

Fig. 331 is a simplified table illustration in the context of Fig. 329 showing a content database record;

Fig. 332 is a simplified table illustration in the context of Fig. 329 showing a correlation database record;

Fig. 333 is a simplified flowchart illustration in the context of Figs. 329, 330, 331 and 332 showing the information correlation functionality of the system of Fig. 329;

Fig. 334 is a simplified flowchart illustration of the functionality of toy having user interaction characteristics which change over time;

Fig. 335 is a simplified flowchart illustration in the context of Fig. 334 showing a central database obtaining information from local databases;

Fig. 336 is a simplified table illustration in the context of Fig. 335 showing a database record comprising correlated data;

Fig. 337 is a simplified flowchart illustration in the context Fig. 336 showing the functionality of toy motivation inputs sent to toy according to correlated data in a central database; DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

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