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Número de publicaciónUS20050277469 A1
Tipo de publicaciónSolicitud
Número de solicitudUS 11/208,149
Fecha de publicación15 Dic 2005
Fecha de presentación19 Ago 2005
Fecha de prioridad16 Ene 2003
También publicado comoCA2454862A1, EP1439507A2, EP1439507A3, US20040142747
Número de publicación11208149, 208149, US 2005/0277469 A1, US 2005/277469 A1, US 20050277469 A1, US 20050277469A1, US 2005277469 A1, US 2005277469A1, US-A1-20050277469, US-A1-2005277469, US2005/0277469A1, US2005/277469A1, US20050277469 A1, US20050277469A1, US2005277469 A1, US2005277469A1
InventoresEric Pryzby, James Bonney
Cesionario originalWms Gaming Inc.
Exportar citaBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Enlaces externos: USPTO, Cesión de USPTO, Espacenet
Selectable audio preferences for a gaming machine
US 20050277469 A1
Resumen
A gaming machine, which provides a wagering game in response to a wager, includes a user input device, a sound processing system, and an audio-emitting system. The user input device allows for individually adjusting at least one of a sound tone preference and an audio track preference, each of the sound tone preference and the audio track preference being adjusted such that other sound tone preferences and other audio track preferences are not individually affected. The sound processing system accepts input from the user input device and processes audio data in accordance with at least one of the sound tone preference and the audio track preference. The audio-emitting system is coupled to the sound processing system and produces sound in accordance with at least one of the sound tone preference and the audio track preference.
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Reclamaciones(20)
1. A gaming machine providing a wagering game in response to a wager, comprising:
a user input device allowing for individually adjusting at least one of a sound tone preference and an audio track preference, each of said sound tone preference and said audio track preference being adjusted such that other sound tone preferences and other audio track preferences are not individually affected;
a sound processing system accepting input from said user input device and processing audio data in accordance with at least one of said sound tone preference and said audio track preference; and
an audio-emitting system coupled to said sound processing system and producing sound in accordance with at least one of said sound tone preference and said audio track preference.
2. The gaming machine of claim 1, wherein said sound tone preference is selected from a group consisting of a bass preference, a treble preference, a loudness preference, a low range frequency preference, a mid range frequency preference, a high range frequency preference, an articulation preference, and a chair tactile response preference.
3. The gaming machine of claim 1, wherein said audio track preference is selected from a group consisting of a music track, a sound effects track, an interactive dialogue track, and a reel stops track.
4. The gaming machine of claim 1, wherein each one of said sound tone preference and said audio track preference includes a plurality of settings, said plurality of settings being selected from a group consisting of a high setting, a medium setting, a low setting, an adjustable setting, an off setting, and a default setting.
5. The gaming machine of claim 1, wherein at least one of said sound tone preference and said audio track preference is individually adjusted by a player.
6. The gaming machine of claim 1, wherein at least one of said sound tone preference and said audio track preference is individually adjusted via an automated control feature.
7. The gaming machine of claim 6, wherein said automated control feature is based at least in part on one or more selectable options, said selectable options including at least one of a time of day option, a surrounding ambient levels option, a repetition of individual player option, and a repetition of a plurality of players option.
8. The gaming machine of claim 7, wherein said time of day option includes a morning setting, a noon setting, and an evening setting.
9. The gaming machine of claim 7, wherein said surrounding ambient levels option includes a high setting, a medium setting, and a low setting.
10. The gaming machine of claim 7, wherein said repetition of individual player option includes a previous player settings setting and a most-used setting during previous week setting.
11. The gaming machine of claim 7, wherein said repetition of a plurality of players option includes a most-used settings for last ten players setting and a most-used settings for all players during previous week setting.
12. A method for operating a gaming terminal in response to a wager, comprising:
conducting a wagering game via a gaming terminal;
providing selectable choices having at least one sound preference, said at least one sound preference being selected from a sound tone preference and an audio track preference;
receiving selections from a player; and
outputting audio in accordance with said selections of said at least one sound preference.
13. The method of claim 12, wherein said receiving further comprises receiving selections from said sound tone preference from a group consisting of a bass preference, a treble preference, a loudness preference, a low range frequency preference, a mid range frequency preference, a high range frequency preference, an articulation preference, and a chair tactile response preference.
14. The method of claim 12, wherein said receiving further comprises receiving selections from said audio track preference from a group consisting of a music track, a sound effects track, an interactive dialogue track, and a reel stops track.
15. The method of claim 12, wherein said receiving further comprises receiving selections from a setting for each of said sound tone preference and said audio track preference from a group consisting of a high setting, a medium setting, a low setting, an adjustable setting, an off setting, and a default setting.
16. The method of claim 12, wherein said receiving further comprises receiving an automated control selection for at least one of said sound tone preference and said audio track preference.
17. The method of claim 16, wherein said automated control selection is based at least on one option of a group consisting of a time of day option, a surrounding ambient levels option, a repetition of individual player option, and a repetition of a plurality of players option.
18. The method of claim 17, wherein said time of day option includes a morning setting, a noon setting, and an evening setting, said surrounding ambient levels option includes a high setting, a medium setting, and a low setting, said repetition of individual player option includes a previous player settings setting and a most-used setting during previous week setting, and said repetition of a plurality of players option includes a most-used settings for last ten players setting and a most-used settings for all players during previous week setting.
19. A computer readable storage medium or media encoded with instructions for directing said gaming terminal to perform the method of claim 12.
20. An electronic gaming method providing a wagering game comprising:
playing at least one electronic game on a gaming machine in response to a wager;
executing instructions of a central processing unit of said gaming machine;
storing audio data on a memory coupled to said central processing unit;
receiving selections of at least one of a sound tone preference and an audio track preference via a user input device, said selections being done such that unselected sound preferences are not individually affected;
providing said audio data in a first audio signal to a sound processing system; and
modifying said audio data in accordance with said sound preference to produce a second audio signal.
Descripción
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/342,809, entitled “Selectable Audio Preferences For A Gaming Machine,” filed Jan. 16, 2003, which is assigned to the assignee of the present application and which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

COPYRIGHT

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.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a wagering gaming system and, more particularly, to a wagering gaming system having audio preferences that are customizable by a player, operator, or other user.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Electronic gaming machines, such as mechanical reel slot machines, video slot machines, video poker machines, video bingo machines, video keno 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 each machine is roughly the same (or perceived to be the same), players are most likely to be attracted to the most entertaining and exciting of the machines. Shrewd operators, consequently, strive to employ the most entertaining and exciting machines available because such machines attract frequent play and, hence, increase profitability to the operator.

To enhance a player's entertainment experience, wagering gaming machines often include special features such as enhanced payoffs, a “secondary” or “bonus” game which may be played in conjunction with a “basic” game, and attractive audio and/or visual effects accompanying the basic and bonus games. 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 of the basic game. Generally, the bonus game provides a greater expectation of winning than the basic game. Further, attractive audio and/or visual effects accompany the basic and bonus games. Heretofore, the only sound preference operable by a user is a master volume control which controls the audio level, i.e., how loud or how soft the audio effects are.

Because wagering gaming machines are an important source of income for the gaming industry, operators continually search for new gaming strategies and features to distinguish their electronic gaming machines from competitors in the industry and to provide additional incentives for players to play longer and to return to the casino on their next trip. Accordingly, there is a continuing need for manufacturers to provide new sound techniques for enhancing the entertainment experience involved in the play of electronic gaming machines. The present invention is directed to satisfying this need.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the present invention, a gaming machine, which provides a wagering game in response to a wager, includes a user input device, a sound processing system, and an audio-emitting system. The user input device allows for individually adjusting at least one of a sound tone preference and an audio track preference, each of the sound tone preference and the audio track preference being adjusted such that other sound tone preferences and other audio track preferences are not individually affected. The sound processing system accepts input from the user input device and processes audio data in accordance with at least one of the sound tone preference and the audio track preference. The audio-emitting system is coupled to the sound processing system and produces sound in accordance with at least one of the sound tone preference and the audio track preference.

According to another aspect of the invention, a method for operating a gaming terminal in response to a wager includes conducting a wagering game via a gaming terminal. The method further includes providing selectable choices having at least one sound preference, which is selected from a sound tone preference and an audio track preference. Selections are received from a player, and audio is outputted in accordance with the selected sound preference.

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.

According to yet another aspect of the invention, an electronic gaming method provides a wagering game and includes playing at least one electronic game on a gaming machine in response to a wager. Instructions of a central processing unit of the gaming machine are executed, and audio data is stored on a memory coupled to the central processing unit. Selections of at least one of a sound tone preference and an audio track preference are received via a user input device, wherein the selections are being done such that unselected sound preferences are not individually affected. The audio data is provided to a sound processing system in a first audio signal. The audio data is modified in accordance with the sound preference to produce a second audio signal.

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.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective drawing of a wagering gaming system.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a control system for operating the gaming system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a front view of a touch panel display showing buttons for selecting gaming options for the gaming system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram showing sound preferences for the gaming system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a front view of a touch panel display showing buttons for selecting the sound preferences of FIG. 4.

FIG. 6 is a block diagram showing sound preferences for the gaming system of FIG. 1, according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a block diagram showing sound preferences for the gaming system of FIG. 1, according to another alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a front view of a touch panel display showing buttons for selecting the sound preferences of FIGS. 6 and 7.

While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail herein. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not intended to be limited to the particular forms disclosed. Rather, the invention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

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.

Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1 depicts a gaming terminal 10 operable to conduct a wagering game such as slots, poker, keno, bingo, dice games, card games, and the like. Generally, when playing a wagering game, the terminal 10 receives a wager from a player to purchase a play of the game. In response, the terminal 10 generates at least one random event using a random number generator (“RNG”) and provides an award to the player for a winning outcome of the random event. Alternatively, the terminal 10 may be linked via a communication unit 11 to a remote host computer that generates the random event and transmits the event's outcome to the terminal 10. To portray the outcome to the player, the terminal 10 includes a video display 12, as shown, or a mechanical display. The video display 12 may be implemented with a CRT, LCD, plasma, or other type of video display known in the art. To allow the player to place wagers, make game selections, and otherwise operate the terminal 10, the terminal 10 includes a physical button panel 14 and/or a touch screen or touch panel 13 over the video display 12.

Operation of the terminal 10 is described in greater detail below in the context of a video slot game. The video slot game is implemented on the video display 12 on a number of video simulated spinning reels 16 with a number of pay lines 18. According to another embodiment of the invention, each of the pay lines 18 extends through one symbol on each of the reels 16. Generally, game play is initiated by inserting money in a bill acceptor 20, by inserting a credit card in a credit card acceptor 22, or by inserting a player card in a player card acceptor 24, and playing a number of credits, causing the terminal's central processing unit to activate a number of pay lines, in a multiple pay line embodiment, corresponding to the amount of money or number of credits played. The bill acceptor 20 can be an acceptor that accepts bills, coins, or both. In one embodiment, the player selects the number of pay lines to play by pressing a “Select Lines” touch key on the display 12. The player then chooses the number of coins or credits to bet on the selected pay lines by pressing a “Bet Per Line” touch key. The gaming terminal 10 can include a coin pay chute 26 for receiving coins after winning a game.

After activation of the pay lines, the reels 16 may be set in motion by pressing a “Spin Reels” touch key or, if the player wishes to bet the maximum amount per line, by using a “Max Bet Spin” touch key on the display 12. Alternatively, other mechanisms such as a lever 28 or push button may be used to set the reels in motion. The CPU uses a random number generator to select a game outcome (e.g., “basic” game outcome) corresponding to a particular set of reel “stop positions.” The CPU then causes each of the reels 16 to stop at the appropriate stop position. Video symbols are displayed on the reels 16 to graphically illustrate the reel stop positions and to indicate whether the stop positions of the reels 16 represent a winning game outcome.

Winning basic game outcomes (e.g., symbol combinations resulting in payment of coins or credits) are identifiable to the player by a pay table. In one embodiment, the pay table is affixed to the terminal 10 and/or displayed by the display 12 in response to a command by the player (e.g., by pressing a “Pay Table” touch key). A winning basic game outcome occurs when the symbols appearing on the reels 16 along an active pay line correspond to one of the winning combinations on the pay table. According to one embodiment, a winning signal can be displayed by a Light-Emitting Diode (“LED”) 29, which is located above the display 12. A winning combination, for example, could be three or more matching symbols along an active pay line, where the award is greater as the number of matching symbols along the active pay line increases. If the displayed symbols stop in a winning combination, the game credits the player an amount corresponding to the award in the pay table for that combination multiplied by the amount of credits bet on the winning pay line. The player may collect the amount of accumulated credits by pressing a “Collect” touch key. In one implementation, the winning combinations start from the first reel (left to right) and span adjacent reels. In an alternative implementation, the winning combinations start from either the first reel (left to right) or the fifth reel (right to left) and span adjacent reels.

Included among the plurality of basic game outcomes may be one or more start-feature outcomes for triggering play of special features. A start-feature outcome may be defined in any number of ways. For example, a start-feature outcome may occur when a special start-feature symbol or a special combination of symbols appears on one or more of the reels 16. The start-feature outcome may require the combination of symbols to appear along an active pay line or may, alternatively, require that the combination of symbols appear anywhere on the display 12, regardless of whether the symbols are along an active pay line. The appearance of a start-feature outcome causes the CPU to shift operation from the video slot game to the special feature associated with that outcome.

In accordance with the present invention, the gaming terminal 10 includes one or more speakers 30 for emitting audio associated with the wagering game being played on the gaming terminal 10. The number of speakers 30 can vary, and the speakers 30 can be positioned in different speaker arrangements. For example, in one embodiment, three or more speakers 30 are used for emitting multi-channel audio associated with the wagering game in surround sound relative to a player in front of the terminal 10. Surround sound, described in more detail below, refers to the use of sound to envelop the player, making the player feel like he or she is in the middle of the action. The multi-channel audio allows the player to hear sounds that come or appear to come from around the player and may cause the player to become more captivated in the game experience. In one embodiment, the speaker arrangement for emitting the audio in surround sound includes both a “front” speaker arrangement and a “surround sound” speaker arrangement. Any speakers 30 of the speaker arrangement may be linked to the terminal by wired or wireless connections.

In another embodiment, the front speaker arrangement can include a front left speaker and a front right speaker mounted within a cabinet of the gaming terminal 10; a single front center speaker; or a front left speaker, a front right speaker, and a front center speaker. The surround sound speaker arrangement can include a rear left speaker, a rear right speaker, and an optional rear center speaker, positioned generally behind the player.

In general, the speakers 30 provide full frequency response (e.g., from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz). In addition to these speakers, the speaker arrangement may include another speaker, called a subwoofer, dedicated to lower frequency effects (e.g., 20 Hz to 120 Hz). The subwoofer may be placed anywhere near the terminal 10, including within the cabinet.

In one embodiment, the gaming terminal 10 includes an audio output receptacle 32 for connecting a headset or other audio device to the gaming terminal 10. Using a headset reduces the sound level for any non-players and may give the player a more individual gameplay experience. The output receptacle 32 can be adapted to receive more than one headset, as in the case where the wagering game is a multiplayer game, and/or to receive headset inputs of different sizes.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a control system suitable for operating gaming terminals according to the present invention. Money/credit detector 34 signals a CPU 36 when a player has inserted money or played a number of credits. The money may be provided by coins, bills, tickets, coupons, cards, etc. Using an input/output controller 38 to receive input from a device such as the button panel 14 (see FIG. 1) or the touch panel 13 (see FIG. 1), the player may select any variables associated with the wagering game (e.g., number of pay lines and bet per line in a video slot game) and place his/her wager to purchase a play of the game. In a play of the game, after the player operates a play switch 40, the CPU 36 generates at least one random event using a RNG and provides an award to the player for a winning outcome of the random event. The CPU 36 operates the display 12 to represent the random event(s) and outcome(s) in a visual form that can be understood by the player. In addition to the CPU 36, the control system may include one or more additional slave control units for operating additional video and/or mechanical displays.

Memory 42 stores control software, operational instructions and data associated with the gaming machine. In one embodiment, the memory 42 comprises read-only memory (“ROM”) and battery-backed random-access memory (“RAM”). The memory 42 may also include auxiliary memory for storing audio and/or video data. It will be appreciated, however, that the memory 42 may be implemented on any of several alternative types of memory structures or may be implemented on a single memory structure. A payoff mechanism 44 is operable in response to instructions from the CPU 36 to award a payoff to the player. The payoff may, for example, be in the form of a number of credits. According to some embodiments of the present invention the payoff is determined by one or more math tables stored in the memory 42.

According to some embodiments of the present invention, a sound processing system receives and processes audio data for producing audio to be emitted from speakers 30. A sound processing system according to some embodiments of the present invention may comprise a sound processor 46, a central processing unit 36, or both a sound processor 46 and a central processing unit 36. The audio data may be input into the sound processing system as a first audio signal, with the sound processing system modifying the first audio signal based on sound preferences to produce a second audio signal. The second audio signal may then be forwarded to an audio-emitting system, such as speakers 30, to produce sound in accordance with the sound preferences. The first audio signal incorporates audio data from an audio data source. Examples of audio data sources include a memory, a remote host, or a user first audio source, such as a CD player or MP3 player provided by a user.

According to some embodiments of the present invention, the audio data is stored in the memory 42. The audio data may be stored in any of various surround sound formats, or stored in a basic format without surround sound. In some embodiments of the present invention, the CPU 36 operates a sound processor 46, which includes decoding circuitry and amplification circuitry suitable for the selected format, wherein the speakers 30 are arranged according to the selected format.

Examples of digital and analog surround sound formats are discussed below.

In some embodiments, the CPU 36 receives information via the communication unit 11. The information can relate, for example, to upgrading the game, updating or transmitting audio data, scheduling hours of operation, or monitoring the use of the gaming machine. In one embodiment, the communication unit 11 can be connected to another computer via an Ethernet cable. Alternatively, the communication unit 11 is a receiving receptacle for a computer cable that can be connected when a technician works on the gaming terminal 10.

According to some embodiments of the present invention, the CPU 36 may be adapted to allow a user to select audio data to be processed and played back, to select sound preferences, or to select a combination of audio data and sound preferences. The sound processing system can be used, with or without the CPU 36, to receive a first audio signal, e.g., an audio signal stored in the memory 42 or a streaming audio signal, and modify the audio signal according to sound preferences selected by a user. Thus, a sound processing system modifies the inputted first audio signal in accordance with user selections, and outputs a second, modified audio signal.

A gaming terminal 10 according to some embodiments of the present invention may be linked to a remote host computer over a network such as an Ethernet-based local area network (“LAN”). The terminal 10 may, in turn, select and process audio data and video data which may be stored in its memory. Game outcomes may be determined at the host computer or locally at the terminal 10. The host computer may transmit audio and/or video content to the terminal 10 which, in turn, receives, processes (e.g., decodes and amplifies), and plays back the received content on the fly. The transmitted content may be streamed so that the terminal 10 can start playing the content before all relevant data has been transmitted. For some embodiments of streaming to work, the terminal 10 must be able to collect the content and send it as a steady stream to an application that is processing the data and converting it to sound or images. If the streaming terminal 10 receives the content more quickly than required, it may save the excess content in a buffer.

Referring now to FIG. 3, a screen display is shown offering selectable choices 50 for selecting gaming options. The selectable choices 50 enable a player, operator, or other user to customize gaming settings. The selectable choices 50 may be provided as touch panel buttons positioned on the display 12. For example, in some embodiments of the present invention a main menu button 52 enables the player to access a submenu that includes a game options button 54, a video settings button 56, and a sound settings button 58. The selectable choices 50 may alternatively or additionally be selected using mechanical or electromechanical switches, such as a main menu switch 60, a game options switch 62, a video settings switch 64, and a sound settings switch 66. The mechanical switches can be located near the display 12 for easy access during gameplay. In another embodiment, the selectable choices 50 can be activated by a voice-activation mechanism. The sound settings button 58 or switch 66 includes a further submenu that provides the player with a sound preferences button 68 and one or more standard sound settings, such as a default A button 70, a default B button 72, and a default C button 74. Mechanical or electro-mechanical switches may be included for accessing and using a sound settings submenu.

Referring now to FIG. 4, a sound preferences setting 76 includes a number of customizable preferences. In one embodiment of the present invention, the sound preferences setting 76 includes a volume settings preference 78, a speaker settings preference 80, a system sounds preference 82, and a sound field effect preference 84.

The volume settings preference 78 allows for the control of a master game volume. According to one embodiment of the present invention, the volume settings preference 78 allows a user to select one of at least four settings: a high setting 86, a medium setting 88, a low setting 90, and an adjustable setting 92. In response to the selected volume setting, the emitted audio will be louder or quieter. Furthermore, the volume settings preference 78 may have a muting option for preventing any emission of sound. The master volume 78 only controls the level of sound, not other characteristics of the sound, such as the sound tone, speaker settings, or sound field effects. For example, a sound tone preference that includes a bass setting and/or a treble setting can be included in addition to the volume settings preference 78, the speaker settings preference 80, the system sounds preference 82, and the sound field effect preference 84.

According to some embodiments of the present invention, the speaker settings preference 80 includes a surround setting 94, described in more detail below; a stereo setting 96 for transmitting audio separated into two audio channels; a mono setting 98, for transmitting audio in a single audio channel; and a headphones setting 100, for using a headset. Other settings may also be included according to particular requirements.

The surround setting 94 can include a number of available surround sound formats. One example of a surround sound format that can be used in conjunction with the surround setting 94 is DOLBY DIGITAL™ (formerly Dolby AC-3) by Dolby Laboratories, Inc. DOLBY DIGITAL™ is a digital surround sound format suitable for audio data when it is stored in a digital section of the memory 42, such as on a DVD or laserdisc. DOLBY DIGITAL™ provides up to five discrete (independent) channels of full frequency effects (e.g., from about 20 Hz to about 20,000 Hz), plus an optional sixth channel dedicated to low frequency effects (e.g., from about 20 Hz to about 120 Hz). The five discrete channels include front center, front left, front right, surround left, and surround right. The center, front left, and front right channels generally carry dialogue, music, and sound effects, while the surround left and surround right channels provide surround sound and ambient effects. The sixth channel is usually reserved for a subwoofer speaker for reproducing the low frequency effects that may come with certain wagering games. During production, the audio data is stored in the memory 42 in DOLBY DIGITAL™ format, i.e., as compressed and encoded digital data. The stored digital data is encoded with information indicating the data stream to be transmitted through each sound channel. The CPU 36 includes a digital surround sound decoder that, during playback, decodes the stored digital data into multiple data streams transmitted through the sound channels.

An extended surround version of DOLBY DIGITAL™, called DOLBY DIGITAL EX™ or SURROUND EX™, encodes the audio data with a third surround channel (i.e., surround back channel) that can be decoded for playback over a rear center speaker placed behind the player. Using matrix encoding technology, the surround back channel information is encoded into the surround left and right channels during production and later decoded (or derived) from the surround left and right channels during playback. Because of this matrix encoding scheme, the surround back channel is not a true discrete channel. This allows certain audio effects to be presented behind the player, thereby achieving more enveloping and complete 360° surround sound.

DTS DIGITAL SURROUND™ by Digital Theatre Systems, Inc., is a competing and alternative digital surround sound format to DOLBY DIGITAL™. Like DOLBY DIGITAL™, DTS DIGITAL SURROUND™ provides up to five discrete channels of full frequency effects, plus an optional sixth channel dedicated to low frequency effects. DTS DIGITAL SURROUND™, however, offers higher data rates and, therefore, uses more of the capacity of the memory 42 than DOLBY DIGITAL™.

An extended surround version of DTS DIGITAL SURROUND™, called DTS-ES MATRIX™, encodes the audio data with a third surround channel (i.e., surround back channel) that can be decoded for playback over a rear center speaker placed behind the player. Yet another extended surround version of DTS DIGITAL SURROUND™, called DTS-ES DISCRETE 6.1™, supports a fully discrete surround back channel. That is, the surround back channel has it own data stream and is truly independent from those of the surround left and right channels.

DOLBY PRO-LOGIC™ by Dolby Laboratories, Inc., is an analog surround sound format that encodes four channels of audio information onto two stereo analog channels during production. The encoded two-channel audio data is stored in an analog section of the memory 42, such as on a Hi-Fi VHS tape. The four channels include front center, front left, front right, and mono surround. The front center channel, among other things, “anchors” any dialogue in a wagering game to the image shown on the video display 12. The CPU 36 includes an analog surround sound decoder that, during playback, uses a technique called matrixing to derive the front center channel and surround sound channel from the encoded two-channel audio data stored in the memory 42. The surround channel is limited in bandwidth to frequencies from 100 Hz to 7,000 Hz.

DOLBY SURROUND™ by Dolby Laboratories, Inc., is an analog surround sound format that encodes three channels of audio information onto two stereo analog channels. The three channels include front left, front right, and surround. Relative to DOLBY PRO-LOGIC™, DOLBY SURROUND™ gives up the front center channel along with some degree of fidelity in the surround channel.

Other surround formats are also contemplated. For example, instead of true surround sound that relies upon a surround channel delivering audio to a speaker behind or to the side of a player, the present invention also contemplates “virtual” (3D) surround sound. Virtual surround sound relies upon virtual surround sound algorithms, such as QSound™ by QSound Labs, Inc., SRS™ (Sound Retrieval System) by SRS Labs, Inc., and other proprietary algorithms, which make use of only front left and right speakers and psycho-acoustic effects to emulate true surround sound formats.

According to some embodiments of the present invention, the system sounds preference 82 may be set to either a standard sound scheme 102 or a thematic sound scheme 104. According to one embodiment of the present invention, the standard sound scheme 102 utilizes generic sounds associated with casino games. The thematic sound scheme 104 may correspond to a theme chosen by the player, which is not necessarily the theme of the game. Some exemplary themes are a rock theme 106, a sports theme 108, a space theme 10, a wild west theme 112, an ocean theme 114, a jungle theme 116, or any other theme. For example, the jungle theme 116 may include a variety of intermittent animal noises, e.g., birds chirping, monkeys chattering, and tigers roaring, as well as a continuous soundtrack, e.g., African music. Theme music and sounds may be separately selected in some embodiments of the present invention.

The player may select the theme that the player prefers for a particular game according to some embodiments of the present invention regardless of whether the theme corresponds to the game. For example, even though the default theme for a wagering game may be the space theme 110, wherein the wagering game may be related to playing poker on a nearby planet, the player may select any one of the other themes, such as the jungle theme 116, for having a different gaming experience. The player has the option of selecting a different theme at any point during the game. Thus, if the action in the game changes, as it generally does when the player progresses to a different game level, the sound theme can be changed accordingly.

The sound field effect preference 84 allows a player to select a signal processing program to be used by a sound processing system for processing audio data. In some embodiments, the signal processing program can be a digital signal processing program. The signal processing programs produce different sound fields that are digital recreations of actual acoustic environments. Examples of sound fields include a small room effect 118, a stadium effect 120, an opera effect 122, and a concert hall effect 124. While the system sounds preference 82 is related to the choice of sounds transmitted, the sound field effect preference 84 is related to how the sound is perceived by the player. For example, the stadium effect 120 may add reverb (echo) to the sound to give the player a feeling of actually being in a large stadium. In contrast, the small room effect 118 may add little to no reverb to the sound for giving the player a more claustrophobic feeling, such as being in a cramped space.

Referring now to FIG. 5, a touch panel 126 according to one embodiment of the present invention displays a sound preferences button 127 which has a menu including a sound field effect button 128, a system sounds button 130, a speaker settings button 132, and a volume settings button 134. Default settings may be employed, and the default buttons according to one embodiment of the present invention are shown in FIG. 5 with a double rectangle. The menu for the sound field effect button 128 includes a stadium effect button 136, a concert hall effect button 138, an opera effect button 140, a small room effect button 142, a church effect button 144, and a standard (default) effect button 146. The menu for the system sounds button 130 includes a standard button 148 and a thematic button 150, and the menu for the thematic button 150 includes a rock theme button 152, a sports theme button 154, a space theme button 156, a wild west theme button 158, an ocean theme button 160, and a jungle theme button 162. The menu for the speaker settings button 132 includes a surround button 164, a stereo button 166, a mono button 168, and a headphones button 170. The menu for the volume settings button 134 includes a high button 172, a medium button 174, a low button 176, and an adjustable button 178. The active default preferences in the embodiment of FIG. 5 are the standard effect button 146 for field effect, the standard button 148 for sound themes, the surround button 164 for speaker settings, and the medium button 174 for volume settings.

In some embodiments of the invention, the sound preferences selected by the player can be saved to a card, such as a casino card, that the player can use in different gaming machines. For example, after the player selects desired sound preferences at a gaming terminal 10, the player has the option of saving those sound preferences on the casino card, and using the casino card to load the sound preferences in a different gaming terminal 10.

The selection of the sound preferences 76 can be limited according to the type of user in some embodiments of the invention. An operator of the gaming terminal 10 may have unlimited access to the selection of sound preferences 76, while a player may have more limited access. For example, if the operator desires to maintain a sports theme throughout a casino, such as when an anticipated sporting event occurs, then the operator could limit the player's access to sports related preferences, e.g., the sports theme 108 and the stadium effect 120. Similarly, more complex settings such as speaker settings and surround settings may be reserved for operator control, with players having the option to change simpler settings such as a system sounds preference. Thus, the selection of the sound preferences can be divided in two classes, a first class that is accessible only to a player and a second class that is accessible only to the operator of the gaming terminal 10.

In another embodiment, the sound preferences 76 can include a choice for playing licensed music. For example, similarly to playing music on a jukebox, the player could pay an extra fee for selecting a particular licensed song. Alternatively, the player could bring personal music that can be played while playing a game, such as by connecting a personal music player (e.g., a compact disc player) or music media (e.g., a compact disc) to the gaming terminal 10.

In alternative embodiments, as described below in reference to FIGS. 6-8, sound preferences settings can include at least one of a multi-mix of audio tracks setting, a master audio adjust of sound tone setting, and an automated control setting. The multi-mix setting provides for adjusting individual sound tracks outputted while playing a wagering game, e.g., adjusting a dialogue sound track without affecting a sound effects track. The master audio adjust setting provides for adjusting the sound tone, e.g., the multi-mix setting is a sound equalizer. The automated control setting provides for automatic control of sound preferences based on one or more of a plurality of conditions, e.g., automatically controlling sound preferences based on the level of ambient noise.

Referring to FIG. 6, a sound preferences setting 200 on the gaming machine 10 includes a multi-mix selection of audio tracks setting 202 and a master audio adjust of sound tone setting 204, each of which including a plurality of settings that are described in more detail below. Each one of the multi-mix selection 202 and the master audio adjust setting 204 provides an option for a player, or other entity (e.g., operator or manufacturer), to adjust the level of certain aspects of the audio output independently of other aspects of the audio output so that the entire audio output responded accordingly.

The multi-mix selection 202 provides an option for adjusting the volume level of an audio track, while the master audio adjust setting 204 provides an option for adjusting the volume level of a sound tone. For example, using the multi-mix selection 202, the player can adjust a music track without affecting a sound effects track. Similarly, using the audio adjust setting 204, the player can adjust a bass frequency without affecting a treble frequency. The multi-mix selection 202 includes, for example, a music track selection 206, a sound effects track selection 208, an interactive dialogue track selection 210, and a reel stops track selection 212 (e.g., the reel stops track uses sound effects for indicating to the player that the reels of a slots gaming machine have stopped spinning).

The master audio adjust 204 includes, for example, a low range frequency selection 214, a mid range frequency selection 216, a high range frequency selection 218, a bass selection 220, a loudness selection 222, an articulation selection 224, and a chair tactile response selection 226. Each selection of the multi-mix selection 202 and the master audio adjust 204 can have a plurality of settings, including a high setting 228, a medium setting 230, a low setting 232, an adjustable setting 234, an off setting 236, and a default setting 238.

The multi-mix selection 202 provides an option to organize and identify all audio elements into categories, such as music, dialogue, custom themed-sound effects, generic game sound effects, etc. The audio elements are, then, adjustable using an easy interface for adjusting the sound level of each category. An example of an interface is described below in reference to FIG. 8. The player can select from a variety of mixes, and/or can create his or her own mix. For example, a player that finds a narrator's voice or a certain repetitive sound effect annoying can decrease or eliminate the annoying sound. Thus, the multi-mix selection 202 allows the player to customize the audio output for a personalized gaming experience, without changing the master volume setting.

The multi-mix selection 202 can include a software and/or hardware volume control fader, which can control individual tracks of audio. Alternatively, the multi-mix selection 202 includes software control of certain code-labeled playlist identifications, file name protocol, or imbedded signals in the actual audio file. The volume can be adjusted according to the code label-type. In another alternative embodiment, depending on what style of mix is requested, the multi-mix selection 202 includes a program having a plurality of set playlists, playlist identification, audio files, and playback commands.

In one example, the player selects to play a particular wagering game (e.g., a Top Gun® slots game). Within a few spins of the reels, the player decides that he or she does not like the music in the game. Thus, the player wishes to lower the volume level of the music or to turn off the music completely. However, the player wishes to maintain the volume level for every other sound aspect at the current level. For example, the player wishes to maintain the current volume level for the game dialogue, the game sound effects, and the reel stops effects. To obtain the desired sound ambience, the player enables the multi-mix selection 202 and reduces the level of the music selection 206 from a high setting 228 to a low setting 232. Thus, the player is able to achieve a unique gaming experience in a fast, easy-to-use, and intuitive manner. Optionally, the gameplay is paused during the selection of the preferred settings of the multi-mix selection 202.

The master audio adjust 204, similar to the multi-mix selection 202, allows a player to customize the audio output of a game. Similar to the multi-mix selection 202, which allows the adjustment of an audio element without affecting other audio elements, and unlike a master volume control, which only allows the adjustment of the overall audio output, the master audio adjust 204 allows the adjustment of an audio element of the overall audio output without affecting the overall level of the audio output.

Each player is unique and, accordingly, has his or her own opinion about the kind of audio experience that he or she prefers. For example, one player might like to hear more of a “thump” of the bass while another player might like to hear less of the “thump” of the bass. In another example, a player may have severe hearing loss in the upper-mid frequencies, especially where diction is most defined, and, therefore, would like to adjust the game to emphasize the diction in the game dialogue.

Similarly, a player may enjoy the tactile response of a surround sound experience, while another player may want to disable the tactile response.

In another example, the player selects to play the Top Gun® slots game mentioned above. Within a few spins of the reels, the player decides that he or she is dissatisfied with the level of the bass frequencies in the audio output, e.g., the bass is too loud. Thus, the player wishes to adjust the level of the bass, without affecting the overall level of the audio output. To obtain the desired audio output, the player enables the master audio adjust 204 to select the most appropriate audio experience according to personal taste. Thus, similar to the multi-mix selection 202, the player is able to achieve a unique gaming experience in a fast, easy-to-use, and intuitive manner. Optionally, the gameplay is paused during the selection of the preferred settings of the master audio adjust 204.

The player has the option to select individual elements of the audio output, such as selecting the bass selection 220, the loudness selection 222, and the articulation selection 224. For example, the articulation selection 224 allows the player to adjust the intelligibility of speech. Optionally, the player can select from various preset configurations.

The master audio adjust 204 can include software and/or hardware for digital signal processing. Alternatively, the master audio adjust 204 can include software and/or hardware for analog signal processing. The software and/or hardware can adjust one or more of a master audio output, a plurality of audio tracks, a plurality of audio files, and a plurality of playlist identifications. Similarly to the multi-mix selection 202, the master audio adjust 204 can include software control of certain code-labeled playlist identifications, file name protocol, or imbedded signals in the actual audio file. For example, the master audio adjust 204 can be adjusted according to the code label-type, and/or can a program having different set playlists, playlist identification, audio files, and playback commands.

Referring to FIG. 7, an automated control option 300 is used for controlling the sound tone and/or the audio tracks. The automated control 300 includes a time of day option 302, a surrounding ambient levels option 304, a “repetition of individual player” option 306, and a “repetition of a plurality of players” option 308.

The time of day option 302 includes, for example, pre-set settings associated with a morning feature 310, a noon feature 312, and an evening feature 314. When the time of day option 302 is selected, by a player or an operator, the sound preferences adjust automatically based on the time of day. For a specific time of day, such as the morning hours, the sound preferences can use settings preset at the factory or settings preset by a player or an operator. Thus, a gaming machine can have different multi-mix selection and master audio adjust settings for three different times of the day and select the appropriate setting based on real time.

The surrounding ambient levels option 304 allows for the sound preferences to automatically adjust based, for example, on high levels 316, medium levels 318, and low levels 320. Depending on the magnitude of the surrounding ambient levels of sound, the audio output is adjusted accordingly. For example, a gaming machine will automatically increase the loudness level of the audio output if the surrounding ambient level is high. Similarly, the gaming machine will increase the level of dialogue output if surrounding gaming machines are too loud. In this example, the gaming machine will categorize the surrounding ambient sound into three categories, e.g., high, medium, and low. In other examples, the surrounding ambient sound can be categorized in any number of categories.

The “repetition of individual player” option 306 includes a “previous player settings” setting 322 and a “most-used settings during previous week” setting 324. For example, if the “previous player settings” setting 322 has been selected, the gaming machine will automatically select for the current gaming session the audio settings used by the previous player of the gaming machine 10. Alternatively, the “previous player settings” setting 322 can retrieve the current player's previous settings. Thus, the player does not have to reconfigure the audio output each time he or she begins a new gaming session. If the “most-used during previous week” setting 324 is selected, the audio output is selected based on the most popular audio setting that the current player has used during the previous seven days.

The “most-used settings during previous week” setting 324 can be selected by the player, operator, and/or the gaming machine 10. For example, the player can select the “most-used settings during previous week” setting 324 if the player wants to use the most popular choices used during the previous seven days. Alternatively, the gaming machine can randomly or automatically select the most popular choices that were used during the previous seven days.

The “repetition of a plurality of players” option 308 includes a “most-used settings for last 10 players” setting 326 and a “most-used settings for all players during previous week” setting 328. As the setting names imply, the audio output can be automatically controlled to use the most-used audio settings for a predetermined number of players or for a predetermined time period. Similar to the “most-used settings during previous week” setting 324, the “most-used settings for last 10 players” setting 326 can be selected by the player, operator, and/or the gaming machine 10.

Referring to FIG. 8, a game screen includes a plurality of buttons for allowing a player to customize the audio output of the gaming machine 10. The video display 12 includes a sound preferences button 400, which enables the player to select one of a multi-mix selection of audio tracks button 402, a master audio adjust of sound tone button 404, and an automated control 406. The sound preferences button 400 is an exemplary embodiment of the sound preferences setting 76 described above in reference to FIG. 4 and the sound preference 200 described above in reference to FIG. 6. Further, the sound preferences button 400 is similar to the sound preferences buttons 68, 127 described above in reference to FIGS. 3 and 5. As such, FIG. 8 is one possible implementation of the schematic flow charts of FIGS. 6 and 7.

When the player selects the sound preferences button 400, an informational pop-up window is located above the multi-mix selection button 402 and the master audio adjust button 404 with an instruction that the player can customize the sound preferences by selecting one of the two buttons located below the pop-up window: “For Customized Preferences Select One Of The Two Buttons Below.” Similarly, another information pop-up window is located above the automated control button 406 with an instruction that the player can automate the sound preferences by selecting the button located below the pop-up window: “For Automated Preferences Select The Button Below.”

When the player selects the multi-mix selection button 402, a choice of a music button 408, a sound effects button 410, an interactive dialogue button 412, and a reel stops button 414 is provided. Selecting the master audio adjust button 404 provided the player with a choice of a low range frequency button 416, a mid range frequency button 418, a high range frequency button 420, a bass button 422, a loudness button 424, an articulation button 426, and a chair tactile response button 428, all of which are discussed in reference to FIG. 6.

For each selected choice of the multi-mix selection 402 and the master audio adjust 404, the player can adjust the audio level using a plurality of buttons, which include a high button 430, a medium button 432, a low button 434, an adjustable button 436, an off button 438, and a default button 440.

If the automated control button 406 is selected, the player is further provided with four additional options: a time of day button 442, a surrounding ambient levels button 444, a “repetition of individual player” button 446, and a “repetition of a plurality of players” button 448. For each additional option, the player is provided with a plurality of settings, which are discussed in reference to FIG. 7.

Selecting the “repetition of individual player” button 446 provides the player with a “previous player settings” button 450 and a “most-used settings during previous week” button 452. Thus, when the “repetition of individual player” button 446 is actuated, the “previous player settings” button 450 and the “most-used settings during previous week” button 452 become active. The player, then, selects one of the “previous player settings” button 450 and the “most-used settings during previous week” button 452. If, for example, the “previous player settings” button 450 is selected, the sound preferences revert automatically to the identical sound preferences used by the immediate previous player.

Selecting the “repetition of a plurality of players” button 448 provides the player with a “most-used settings for last 10 players” button 454 and a “most-used settings for all players during previous week” button 456. Thus, when the “repetition of a plurality of players” button 448 is actuated, the “most-used settings for last 10 players” button 454 and the “most-used settings for all players during previous week” button 456 become active. The player, then, selects one of the “most-used settings for last 10 players” button 454 and the “most-used settings for all players during previous week” button 456. If, for example, the “most-used settings for last 10 players” button 456 is selected, the sound preferences revert automatically to the most popular sound preferences used by the last 10 players.

It should be understood that although many of the above settings are described as being operated by a player, each of the various settings may alternatively or additionally be operated by a casino operator (or manufacturer) depending upon whether the operator would like to give control over the settings to the player. Some settings may be operable by only the operator, other settings may be operable by only the player, and yet other settings may be operable by both the operator and the player.

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.

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Clasificaciones
Clasificación de EE.UU.463/35, 463/20
Clasificación internacionalG07F17/32
Clasificación cooperativaG07F17/32, G07F17/323, G07F17/3262
Clasificación europeaG07F17/32E4, G07F17/32M2, G07F17/32
Eventos legales
FechaCódigoEventoDescripción
19 Ago 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: WMS GAMING INC., ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:PRYZBY, ERIC M.;BOONEY, JAMES P.;REEL/FRAME:016909/0571;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050816 TO 20050817