US 20060135248 A1
A gaming machine for conducting a wagering game includes a value input device for receiving a wager and at least one rotatable reel. The reel comprises a reel strip arranged about the periphery of a cage. The reel strip comprises an alterable film for displaying a plurality of symbols. The gaming machine further comprises a controller operative to alter the appearance of at least one of the plurality of symbols displayed on the film.
1. A gaming machine comprising:
a value input device for receiving a wager;
at least one rotatable reel, the reel comprising a reel strip arranged about the periphery of a cage, the reel strip comprising an alterable film for displaying a plurality of symbols,
a controller operative to alter the appearance of at least one of the plurality of symbols displayed on the film.
2. The gaming machine of
3. The gaming machine of
4. The gaming machine of
5. The gaming machine of
6. The gaming machine of
7. The gaming machine of
8. The gaming machine of
9. The gaming machine of
10. A method of conducting a wagering game on a gaming machine, the method comprising:
receiving a wager from a player;
rotating at least one rotatable reel, the reel including a plurality of symbols, the reel comprising a reel strip arranged about the periphery of a cage, the reel strip comprising an alterable film for displaying a plurality of symbols, the film comprising a plurality of charged particles positioned between a top electrode and a bottom electrode; and
altering the appearance of at least one of the plurality of symbols displayed on the film.
11. The method of
12. The method of
13. The method of
14. A gaming machine comprising:
a value input device for receiving a wager;
a display for displaying a plurality of symbols, the symbols indicating a randomly-selected outcome selected from a plurality of possible outcomes, the plurality of outcomes including at least one winning outcome;
at least one electrophoretic film forming an alterable display; and
a controller operative to alter the appearance of the film.
15. The gaming machine of
16. The gaming machine of
17. The gaming machine of
18. The gaming machine of
19. The gaming machine of
20. A computer readable storage medium encoded with instructions for directing a gaming device to perform the method of
This application is a Continuation-in-Part under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) of International Application No. PCT/US2005/029919, filed Aug. 24, 2005, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/606,381, filed Sep. 1, 2004, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.
A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.
The present invention relates generally to gaming machines, and methods for playing wagering games, and more particularly, to a gaming machine having one or more electrophoretic displays.
Gaming machines, such as slot machines, video poker machines and the like, have been a cornerstone of the gaming industry for several years. Generally, the popularity of such machines with players is dependent on the likelihood (or perceived likelihood) of winning money at the machine and the intrinsic entertainment value of the machine relative to other available gaming options. Where the available gaming options include a number of competing machines and the expectation of winning at each machine is roughly the same (or believed to be the same), players are likely to be attracted to the most entertaining and exciting machines. Shrewd operators consequently strive to employ the most entertaining and exciting machines, features, and enhancements available because such machines attract frequent play and hence increase profitability to the operator. Therefore, there is a continuing need for gaming machine manufacturers to continuously develop new games and improved gaming enhancements that will attract frequent play through enhanced entertainment value to the player.
One concept that has been successfully employed to enhance the entertainment value of a game is the concept of a “secondary” or “bonus” game that may be played in conjunction with a “basic” game. The bonus game may comprise any type of game, either similar to or completely different from the basic game, which is entered upon the occurrence of a selected event or outcome in the basic game. Generally, bonus games provide a greater expectation of winning than the basic game and may also be accompanied with more attractive or unusual video displays and/or audio. Bonus games may additionally award players with “progressive jackpot” awards that are funded, at least in part, by a percentage of coin-in from the gaming machine or a plurality of participating gaming machines. Because the bonus game concept offers tremendous advantages in player appeal and excitement relative to other known games, and because such games are attractive to both players and operators, there is a continuing need to develop gaming machines with new types of bonus games to satisfy the demands of players and operators.
Traditional gaming machines have incorporated a variety of displays to improve gameplay depiction, as well as provide signage on the gaming machine. However, displays in traditional mechanical reel gaming machines are limited given the static nature of the reel strips on each reel. One limitation with traditional mechanical reel slot machines is that in order for the gaming machine to be updated with a new or different game, the physical reel strips on the reels must be manually changed. Moreover, traditional displays such as LCD video displays and LEDS consume considerable quantities of power, particularly as gaming machine manufacturers strive to add more displays to increase the aesthetics and attraction of their products. Traditional displays also lack versatility due to their rigidity, viewing angle, and lower contrast. The present invention is directed to solving one or more of these and other problems.
According to one aspect of the present invention, a gaming machine for conducting a wagering game includes a value input device for receiving a wager and at least one rotatable reel. The reel comprises a reel strip arranged about the periphery of a cage. The reel strip comprises an alterable film for displaying a plurality of symbols. The gaming machine further comprises a controller operative to alter the appearance of at least one of the plurality of symbols displayed on the film.
According to another aspect of the invention, a method of conducting a wagering game on a gaming machine comprises receiving a wager from a player and rotating at least one rotatable reel, the reel including a plurality of symbols, the reel comprising a reel strip arranged about the periphery of a cage, the reel strip comprising an alterable film for displaying a plurality of symbols. The film comprises a plurality of charged particles positioned between a top electrode and a bottom electrode. The method further comprises altering the appearance of at least one of the plurality of symbols displayed on the film.
According to yet another aspect of the invention, a gaming machine for conducting a wagering game includes a value input device for receiving a wager, a housing, and a display for displaying a plurality of symbols, the symbols indicating a randomly-selected outcome selected from a plurality of possible outcomes, the plurality of outcomes including at least one winning outcome. The gaming machine further includes at least one electrophoretic film forming an alterable display, and a controller operative to alter the appearance of the film.
According to another aspect of the invention, a method for changing reel symbols on a mechanical reel of a gaming machine includes positioning a flexible electrophoretic image display over a reel wherein the electrophoretic image displays reel symbols the are generated by instructions from a computing device.
According to yet another aspect of the invention, a computer readable storage medium is encoded with instructions for directing a gaming device to perform the above method.
Additional aspects of the invention will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the detailed description of various embodiments, which is made with reference to the drawings, a brief description of which is provided below.
While this invention is susceptible of embodiment in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail preferred embodiments of the invention with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the broad aspect of the invention to the embodiments illustrated.
The gaming machine 10 comprises a housing 12 and includes input devices, including a value input device 18 and a player input device 24. For output the gaming machine 10 includes a primary display 14 for displaying information about the basic wagering game. The primary display 14 can also display information about a bonus wagering game and a progressive wagering game. The gaming machine 10 may also include a secondary display 16 for displaying game events, game outcomes, and/or signage information. While these typical components found in the gaming machine 10 are described below, it should be understood that numerous other elements may exist and may be used in any number of combinations to create various forms of a gaming machine 10.
The value input device 18 may be provided in many forms, individually or in combination, and is preferably located on the front of the housing 12. The value input device 18 receives currency and/or credits that are inserted by a player. The value input device 18 may include a coin acceptor 20 for receiving coin currency (see
The player input device 24 comprises a plurality of push buttons 26 on a button panel for operating the gaming machine 10. In addition, or alternatively, the player input device 24 may comprise a touch screen 28 mounted by adhesive, tape, or the like over the primary display 14 and/or secondary display 16. The touch screen 28 contains soft touch keys 30 denoted by graphics on the underlying primary display 14 and used to operate the gaming machine 10. The touch screen 28 provides players with an alternative method of input. A player enables a desired function either by touching the touch screen 28 at an appropriate touch key 30 or by pressing an appropriate push button 26 on the button panel. The touch keys 30 may be used to implement the same functions as push buttons 26. Alternatively, the push buttons 26 may provide inputs for one aspect of the operating the game, while the touch keys 30 may allow for input needed for another aspect of the game.
The various components of the gaming machine 10 may be connected directly to, or contained within, the housing 12, as seen in
The operation of the basic wagering game is displayed to the player on the primary display 14. The primary display 14 can also display the bonus game associated with the basic wagering game. Preferably, as seen in
A player begins play of the basic wagering game by making a wager via the value input device 18 of the gaming machine 10. A player can select play by using the player input device 24, via the buttons 26 or the touch screen keys 30. The basic game consists of a plurality of symbols arranged in an array, and includes at least one payline 32 that indicates one or more outcomes of the basic game. Such outcomes are randomly selected in response to the wagering input by the player. At least one of the plurality of randomly-selected outcomes may be a start-bonus outcome, which can include any variations of symbols or symbol combinations triggering a bonus game.
In some embodiments, the gaming machine 10 may also include a player information reader 52 that allows for identification of a player by reading a card with information indicating his or her true identity. The player information reader 52 is shown in
Turning now to
The controller 34 is also coupled to the system memory 36 and a money/credit detector 38. The system memory 36 may comprise a volatile memory (e.g., a random-access memory (RAM)) and a non-volatile memory (e.g., an EEPROM). The system memory 36 may include multiple RAM and multiple program memories. The money/credit detector 38 signals the processor that money and/or credits have been input via the value input device 18. Preferably, these components are located within the housing 12 of the gaming machine 10. However, as explained above, these components may be located outboard of the housing 12 and connected to the remainder of the components of the gaming machine 10 via a variety of different wired or wireless connection methods.
As seen in
Communications between the controller 34 and both the peripheral components of the gaming machine 10 and external systems 50 occur through input/output (I/O) circuits 46, 48. More specifically, the controller 34 controls and receives inputs from the peripheral components of the gaming machine 10 through the input/output circuits 46. Further, the controller 34 communicates with the external systems 50 via the I/O circuits 48 and a communication path (e.g., serial, parallel, IR, RC, 10bT, etc.). The external systems 50 may include a gaming network, other gaming machines, a gaming server, communications hardware, or a variety of other interfaced systems or components. Although the I/O circuits 46, 48 may be shown as a single block, it should be appreciated that each of the I/O circuits 46, 48 may include a number of different types of I/O circuits.
Controller 34, as used herein, comprises any combination of hardware, software, and/or firmware that may be disposed or resident inside and/or outside of the gaming machine 10 that may communicate with and/or control the transfer of data between the gaming machine 10 and a bus, another computer, processor, or device and/or a service and/or a network. The controller 34 may comprise one or more controllers or processors. In
Turning now to
A cross-section of the electrophoretic film 80 is depicted in
The bottom electrode 84 comprises a plurality of charge points 94. Each microcapsule is associated with one or more charge points 94 as seen in
A second example is shown by a second microcapsule 86 b in
The electrophoretic film 80 may be placed in proximity to a data source 100 which controls the nature and strength of the charges points 94. Preferably, the film 80 is laminated to a layer of circuitry which serves as the data source 100 for the charge points 94, although a variety of data sources 100 may be used to transfer data and information to the film 80 containing the video images to be displayed. The circuitry forms a pattern of pixels at the charge points 94 that can be controlled by a display driver in communication with the circuitry. Furthermore, the microcapsules 86 may be suspended in a liquid medium which permits them to be printed onto virtually any surface using screen printing and other printing techniques. This permits the microcapsules 86 to be applied or “printed” on virtually any medium including glass, plastic, fabric, and even paper. One embodiment of an electrophoretic display is formed by printing the microcapsules onto a layer of plastic or other substrate and then laminating the substrate over a layer of circuitry. Because the substrate is configured to be relatively thin, the charge points 94 remain in communication with the microcapsules 86 for purposes of activating color changes in the microcapsules 86 as described.
Alternate embodiments of reels 60 using electrophoretic films 80 are depicted in
One of the benefits of the electrophoretic film 80 is its flexibility, thereby permitting the film 80 to be used to create a dynamic electronic display on a variety of curved and non-rigid surfaces. For example, as described with relation to
In an alternative embodiment, the reel strips 64 of the gaming machine 10, rather than comprising electrophoretic film 80, comprises flexible LCD displays wrapped around and mounted to the reel cage 66. The flexible LCD displays are arranged circumferentially about the cage 66 to produce a dynamic display on the reel 60. The flexible LCD displays are manufactured using plastic substrates rather than rigid glass substrates, thereby allowing the LCD display to bend and be flexible such that it may be mounted about the cage. The flexible LCD displays include many of the properties of traditional LCD displays such as ability to display many colors. Flexible LCD displays are commercially available from Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. of Seoul, South Korea. The flexible LCD displays mounted on the cage 66 to form the reel 60 may receive image and display data from the data source 100. Such information, as with the electrophoretic film 80, may be communicated through wired transmissions, contactless or wireless transmissions, or rotating brush contacts. Moreover, the flexible LCD display may be used in conjunction with traditional reel strips or electrophoretic film 80 to create a multi-layered reel 60.
One example of contactless communications which may be used to configure communications between the data source 100 and the film forming the reel strip 64, such as that depicted in
In addition to the reel strips 64, the electrophoretic film 80 may be applied to various other components or portions of the gaming machine 10 for purposes of producing a variable electronic display. For example, the film 80 may be mounted on a top box of the machine 10, or on the secondary display 16 of the machine 10 for purposes of providing gameplay information, casino information, or signage on the gaming machine 10. The film 80 may also be mounted on various portions of the housing 12, including the sides, front, and top of the housing 12, to provide various visual information to players and casino personnel. In another embodiment, the film 80 may be applied to various peripherals on the gaming machine 10, such as the buttons 26 of the player input device 24. Specifically, the buttons 26 of the player input device 24, which may be mechanical, electro-mechanical, or soft buttons, may comprise one or more labels, indicators, designs, or indicia formed by one or more piece of electrophoretic film 80. The film 80 on the buttons 26 may in turn be in communication with the processor 34 such that the labels or indicia on the buttons 26 may be dynamically configured. In this way, for example, the processor 34 may download a different game to be played on the machine 10, which may include a different set of indicia on the buttons 26. The film 80 on the buttons 26 may then be modified by the processor 34 to display the new indicia for the new game on the gaming machine 10. Thus, the film 80 on the buttons 26 serves as a dynamic button display or label, and may be used for altering button displays, animations, indicia, labels, or other purposes. The payoff mechanism 40, player information reader 52, and other peripherals on the machine 10 may also be configured to display information with a modifiable display formed of electrophoretic film 80. Moreover, the film 80 may be used in conjunction with one or more standard video displays, such as a CRT or LCD display. The film 80 may also be utilized in conjunction with a touch screen 28 and soft touch keys 30 to form an alternate player input device 24 on the gaming machine 10.
Moreover, the electrophoretic film 80 may be applied to a variety of removable or interfaceable media utilized in conjunction with the gaming machine 10 to create a variable display thereon. For example, a player tracking card used in conjunction with the player information reader 52 may be outfitted with a display formed from electrophoretic film 80. The film 80 on the tracking card may be modified by the player information reader 52 when the card is inserted or removed from the reader 52. The film 80 on the tracking card may be utilized to provide various gaming and casino information to the player, for example, gaming and statistical information tracked by the tracking card. In this way, the player may receive a visual display of the status of current information tracked on the card each time the card is inserted and removed from the reader 52. In another embodiment, the ticket printer 42 may print tickets bearing a display formed by the electrophoretic film 80. Thus each time a player cashes out credit from the machine 10 via the ticket printer 42, he or she may receive a ticket bearing a variable display formed from the film 80. The film 80 on the ticket may be used to display gaming and casino information to the player, such as credit balances on the ticket, for example. The types of information visually displayed by the film may vary and is virtually limitless.
The electrophoretic film 80 may be used to dynamically alter the reels 60, displays 14,16, or other signage on the housing 12 of the gaming machine 10 by interfacing with the external systems 50, such as a gaming network, other gaming machines, a gaming server, communications hardware, etc. The external systems 50 may include a download server that communicates with the processor 34 of the gaming machine 10 to download a variety of images, graphics, and display elements to be displayed on the electrophoretic film 80. Specifically, the download server may transfer image data to gaming machine 10, which may transfer the image data to the data source 100 under control of the processor 34. The data source 100 may then utilize the downloaded image data to rewrite or alter the image displayed on the film 80 in communication with the data source 100. This allows, for example, the symbols 62 on the reel 60 to be altered, modified, or exchanged from one set of symbols 62 to another set of symbols 62. Alternatively, the symbols 62 may be modified slightly for visual effect, or even animated. The image data from the external systems 50 may also be transferred directly to the film 80, such as electrophoretic film 80 forming a signage display on the housing 12 of the gaming machine 10. In such a direct configuration, the data source 100 is not required, and the image data is communicated to the film 80 by the processor 34 of the machine 10. Any number of downloadable scenarios exists for downloading image data from external systems 50 to various electrophoretic films 80 on the gaming machine 10. Furthermore, it should be understood that some or all of the image data may be stored locally on the machine in system memory 36 or other storage devices.
The gaming machine 10 of the present invention offers a number of benefits and advantages over traditional gaming machines. Firstly, configuring reel strips 64 out of electrophoretic film 80 permits the use of mechanical reels 60 which have dynamically alterable image displays on them. Such a configuration allows the symbols 62 on the reel strips 64 to be altered, animated, or changed without the need to physically alter the machine 10. This provides a large benefit in reducing the amount of time the gaming machine 10 is unavailable for play and thereby increases profit on the machine 10. Furthermore, the use of the electrophoretic film 80 on other components of the gaming machine 10, such as a secondary display 16, signage on the housing 12, or input buttons 26, improves the esthetic value of these components and permits them to be altered or changed without physically altering the machine 10. This allows the operator of such a gaming machine 10 to download a new theme and game to the gaming machine 10 from external systems 50, which would include altering the buttons 26, signage on the housing 12 and displays 14,16 to display images associated with the new downloaded game or theme. This provides a significant benefit by allowing dynamic electronic modification of the displays of the gaming machine 10. Moreover, the electrophoretic film 80 provides the added benefits including providing superior viewing characteristics of paper such as high contrast, wide viewing angle and bright background; versatility in that the electrophoretic film may comprise many surfaces including plastic, metal and paper; and cost savings through low power dissipation relative to traditional displays.
Each of these embodiments and obvious variations thereof is contemplated as falling within the spirit and scope of the claimed invention, which is set forth in the following claims.