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Publication numberUS20070021194 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/419,991
Publication date25 Jan 2007
Filing date23 May 2006
Priority date28 Jun 2005
Also published asCA2549449A1
Publication number11419991, 419991, US 2007/0021194 A1, US 2007/021194 A1, US 20070021194 A1, US 20070021194A1, US 2007021194 A1, US 2007021194A1, US-A1-20070021194, US-A1-2007021194, US2007/0021194A1, US2007/021194A1, US20070021194 A1, US20070021194A1, US2007021194 A1, US2007021194A1
InventorsEiji Aida
Original AssigneeKonami Gaming Incorporated
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Authentication device and gaming machine equipped with the same
US 20070021194 A1
Abstract
An authentication device according to the present invention is preferably installed in a gaming machine. In this authentication device, in particular, an authentication data input unit is located on the rear side of a display unit. Furthermore, the screen of the display unit includes an authentication position where an authentication object (for example, a player's finger) is to approach or touch the screen. The authentication data input unit reads the authentication data (for example, fingerprint pattern data) through the screen from the authentication object approaching or touching the screen of the display unit.
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Claims(12)
1. An authentication device, comprising:
a display unit comprising a screen, and configured to display an image on the screen;
an authentication data input unit located on a rear side of the display unit or the vicinity thereof, the authentication data input unit configured to read authentication data from an authentication object approaching or touching the screen; and
an authentication unit configured to perform an authentication process based on the authentication data read by the authentication data input unit.
2. The authentication device according to claim 1, wherein the authentication data input unit comprises:
an electromagnetic wave irradiation unit which irradiates the authentication object with electromagnetic waves through the screen of the display unit; and
an electromagnetic wave detecting unit configured to receive electromagnetic waves transmitted from the authentication object in response to the electromagnetic waves irradiated by the electromagnetic wave irradiation unit, and configured to read the authentication data from the received electromagnetic waves.
3. The authentication device according to claim 2, further comprising a detection unit configured to detect the authentication object when the authentication object approaches or touches the screen of the display unit;
wherein the electromagnetic wave irradiation unit irradiates the electromagnetic waves in response to the output of the detection unit.
4. The authentication device according to claim 3, wherein the detection unit is comprised of a transparent touch sensor arranged on the screen of the display unit.
5. The authentication device according to claim 1, wherein the authentication data input unit comprises:
a magnetic field generating unit configured to generate a magnetic field in the vicinity of the screen of the display unit in order to supply electric power to the authentication object with the magnetic field; and
a receiving unit configured to use the electric power received from the magnetic field to read the authentication data transmitted from the authentication object.
6. The authentication device according to claim 5, further comprising a detection unit configured to detect the authentication object when the authentication object approaches or touches the screen of the display unit;
wherein the magnetic field generating unit is configured to generate the magnetic field in response to the output of the detection unit.
7. The authentication device according to claim 6, wherein the detection unit is comprised of a transparent touch sensor arranged on the screen of the display unit.
8. The authentication device according to claim 1, wherein the display unit is configured to display a guidance image which indicates an authentication position on the screen of the display unit at which the authentication object is to be brought near or placed in contact therewith.
9. The authentication device according to claim 8, wherein the display unit displays a plurality of guidance images that indicate different authentication positions on the screen; and
the authentication data input unit is configured to read authentication data from the authentication object which approaches or touches one of the plurality of the authentication positions.
10. The authentication device according to claim 1, further comprising a data communications unit configured to perform wireless data communications with the authentication object after the authentication unit completes the authentication process.
11. The authentication device according to claim 1, wherein the authentication data is biometric authentication data which indicates biometric characteristics that are capable of identifying individuals.
12. A gaming machine, comprising:
a game control unit configured to control a game in accordance with a predetermined game program;
a display unit comprising a screen, and configured to display images on the screen based on the progress of the game; and
an authentication device comprising an authentication data input unit located on the rear side of the display unit or the vicinity thereof, the authentication device configured to read authentication data from an authentication object that approaches or touches the screen; and
an authentication unit configured to perform an authentication process based on the authentication data read by the authentication data input unit.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to authentication devices, and more particularly to authentication devices provided in gaming machines.

2. Background Information

An authentication device reads authentication data from an authentication object which approaches or touches a predetermined authentication position, and then performs an authentication process based on the authentication data. A biometric authentication device is one such authentication device. See, for example, Japan Published Patent Application 2002-318648. A biometric authentication device uses biometric characteristics (a fingerprint pattern, a retina pattern, a vein pattern, etc.) as authentication data which can identify individuals. More specifically, when a body part (authentication object) that includes biometric characteristics approaches or touches a sensor (predetermined authentication position) of the biometric authentication device, the biometric authentication device reads the biometric authentication data (fingerprint, retina, or vein pattern data, etc.) from the body part through the sensor. Then, the biometric authentication device performs an authentication process based on the read biometric authentication data, and determines whether or not the person who has the biometric characteristics is a person who has proper authority. For example, if the person is determined to be a person with the proper authority, he will be allowed to proceed with the specific process or operation; however, if this person is determined to not have the proper authority, he will be prohibited from proceeding with the intended process or operation.

A device installed in a non-contact IC tag reader unit is known as another authentication device. See Japan Published Patent Application 2001-325572. When a non-contact IC tag (authentication object) approaches or touches a predetermined authentication position which is provided on the surface of an authentication device installed in a non-contact IC tag reader unit, the non-contact IC tag transmits authentication data. The non-contact IC tag reader unit receives the authentication data, and performs an authentication process based on the authentication data to determine whether the non-contact IC tag is valid or not. If the IC tag is determined to be valid, the person in possession of the IC tag will be, for example, allowed to proceed with a specific process or operation, or perform data communications with the non-contact IC tag. On the other hand, if the non-contact IC tag is determined to be invalid, the person in possession of the non-contact IC tag will be prohibited from performing a specific process or operation, and prohibited from performing data communications with the non-contact IC tag.

A region (hereafter referred to as an authentication space) is provided on the surface of every conventional authentication device, and is used as the authentication position at which the authentication object is to approach or touch the surface of the authentication device. For example, gaming machines and portable electronic appliances (such as notebook computers and cellular phones) are generally equipped with a display. There are demands to increase the screen size of the display on these products. On the other hand, when an authentication device is installed in these products, it is desirable that the authentication position is placed where a user can easily operate the device, e.g., on the front surface of the product. However, the screen size of the display must be limited in order to provide an authentication space on the front surface, because the display screen is usually located on the front surface. As a result, further increasing the screen size of the display is difficult. Compatibility between the allocation of authentication space and an increase in screen size is difficult, particularly when a product whose miniaturization is strongly desired, such as a portable electronic appliance, is equipped with an authentication device.

In view of the above, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure that there exists a need for an improved authentication device, and a gaming machine equipped with the authentication device, in which an authentication position can be allocated on the surface in which the screen of a display unit is provided, without limiting an increase in screen size of the display unit. This invention addresses this need in the art as well as other needs, which will become apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An authentication device according to the present invention preferably comprises a display unit which includes a screen and which displays an image on the screen; an authentication data input unit which is located on the rear side of the display unit or the vicinity thereof, and which reads authentication data from an authentication object approaching or touching the screen; and an authentication unit which performs an authentication process based on the authentication data read by the authentication data input unit. Here, it is preferable that the authentication data is biometric authentication data which shows biometric characteristics (such as fingerprints, retinas, or veins) that can identify individuals. In this authentication device, the authentication data input unit is located on the rear side of the display unit or the vicinity thereof, and the authentication position exists on the screen of the display unit. Therefore, the authentication position can be provided on the surface in which the display unit is mounted, without limiting any further increase in the screen size of the display unit.

In the above-described authentication device according to the present invention, the authentication data input unit preferably includes an electromagnetic wave irradiation unit which irradiates the authentication object with electromagnetic waves through the screen of the display unit; and an electromagnetic wave detecting unit which receives an electromagnetic wave transmitted from the authentication object in response to the electromagnetic wave applied by the electromagnetic wave irradiation unit, and which reads the authentication data from the received electromagnetic wave. For example, the electromagnetic wave irradiation unit irradiates a portion of a person's body (the authentication object) with electromagnetic waves (in particular, infrared rays). Furthermore, an electromagnetic wave detecting unit detects the electromagnetic wave radiated from the body portion in response to the irradiation of the electromagnetic wave irradiation unit, and then reads biometric authentication data of the body portion from the detected electromagnetic waves. Alternatively, the electromagnetic wave irradiation unit, for example, transmits specific data in order to request authentication data from an authentication data storage device (the authentication object), using electromagnetic waves. The authentication data storage device which received this data then transmits the authentication data using wireless communications. The electromagnetic wave detecting unit reads the transmitted authentication data.

Alternatively, the authentication data input in the above-described authentication device according to the present invention unit may include a magnetic field generating unit which generates a magnetic field in the vicinity of the screen of the display unit in order to supply electric power to the authentication object with the magnetic field; and a receiving unit which uses the electric power provided from the magnetic field to read the authentication data when the authentication object transmits the authentication data. Here, it is preferable that the authentication object is an authentication data storage device (such as an IC tag).

The above-described authentication device according to the present invention preferably comprises a detection unit which detects the authentication object when it approaches or touches the screen of the display unit. In that case, the electromagnetic wave irradiation unit further preferably irradiates electromagnetic waves in response to the output of the detection unit. Alternatively, the magnetic field generating unit generates a magnetic field in response to the output of the detection unit. Thus, the electromagnetic wave irradiation unit and the magnetic field generating unit operate when the authentication object approaches or touches the screen of the display unit. In other words, the electromagnetic wave irradiation unit and the magnetic field generating unit activate and generate the electromagnetic wave and the magnetic field, respectively, only when necessary. Accordingly, the device can easily save more energy. Further preferably, the detection unit is a transparent touch sensor which is provided on the screen of the display unit. Here, the touch sensor can detect contact of the authentication object with the screen of the display unit. Specific examples of such touch sensors are analog capacitive coupling touch sensors, and touch sensors which use ultrasonic waves (surface acoustic waves).

The display unit preferably displays a guidance image which shows the position (hereinafter referred to as the authentication position) on the screen of the display unit at which the authentication object is to approach or touch the screen, in the above-described authentication device according to the present invention. Thus, a user can easily locate the authentication position on the screen. Further preferably, the display unit displays the plurality of the guidance images that show different authentication positions on the screen, and the authentication data input unit reads authentication data from the authentication object which approaches or touches one of the plurality of the authentication positions. Here, the authentication data input unit may be designed such that the authentication data of the authentication object that approaches or touches other authentication positions will not be read. The display of more than one such guidance image can provide an unprecedented new authentication process. For example, the device can pose a question to the user and display several possible answers thereto at more than one authentication position on the screen. In this case, a more accurate authentication is possible by having previously registered a correct answer, which only the user know, in the authentication device. Alternatively, when the authentication device is installed in a gaming machine, the gaming machine may provide a bonus to a player who succeeds in authentication by selecting the correct authentication position.

The above-described authentication device according to the present invention preferably further comprises a data communications unit which performs wireless data communications with the authentication object after the authentication unit completes the authentication process. In that case, the data communication is performed after the authentication process, and accordingly, this prevents any illegal data communications from being performed with the authentication objects before the authentication process is completed.

The above-described authentication device according to the present invention is preferably installed in a gaming machine. Here, the gaming machine preferably further comprises a game control unit which controls a game in accordance with a predetermined game program. In that case, the display unit displays, in particular, images on the screen that are based on the progress of the game. This gaming machine is provided with the authentication position on the screen of the display unit (in particular, on the game screen) in which the authentication object is to approach or touch. Therefore, the authentication position can be provided on the surface in which the display unit is mounted, without limiting any further increase in the screen size of the display unit.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Referring now to the attached drawings which form a part of this original disclosure:

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary cross sectional view of a monitor included in a slot machine according to Embodiment 1 of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view which shows the appearance of the slot machine according to Embodiment 1 of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram which shows the hardware configuration of a main control unit included in the slot machine according to Embodiment 1 of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram which shows the hardware configuration of a sub-control unit included in the slot machine according to Embodiment 1 of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a flow chart which shows the progress of a game performed in the slot machine according to Embodiment 1 of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a flow chart which shows the control performed by the control unit of the slot machine according to Embodiment 1 of the present invention, when a player plays a game using the player's credit data registered in a management server;

FIG. 7 schematically shows an individual authentication screen displayed in the slot machine according to Embodiment 1 of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a block diagram which shows the hardware configuration of a sub-control unit included in a slot machine according to Embodiment 2 of the present invention;

FIG. 9 schematically shows a game screen displayed when the slot machine according to Embodiment 2 of the present invention performs an ID authentication process;

FIG. 10 is a flow chart which shows the control performed by the control unit of a slot machine according to Embodiment 3 of the present invention, when a player plays a game using the player's credit data registered in a management server; and

FIG. 11 schematically shows a personal authentication screen displayed in the slot machine according to Embodiment 3 of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Selected embodiments of the present invention will now be explained with reference to the drawings. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure that the following descriptions of the embodiments of the present invention are provided for illustration only and not for the purpose of limiting the invention as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

Embodiment 1

Embodiment 1 of the present invention is a gaming machine, in particular, a video slot machine which is placed in a casino. First, the fundamental configuration of the slot machine will be explained (see FIG. 2). This slot machine 1 comprises a box-shape cabinet 2, and a front panel 3 which is installed on the front surface of the cabinet 2 so as to be freely openable and closable. A display window 4, a coin slot 5 a, a bill slot 5 b, a spin button 6 a, a credit payout button 6 b, various types of BET buttons 7 a, 7 b, 7 c, winning line selection buttons 8 a, 8 b, 8 c, a coin receiver 9, a coin outlet 9 a, and various types of lamps 10 a, 10 b are provided on the front panel 3. A player can see the screen of a monitor 11 through the display window 4. The coin slot 5 a and the bill slot 5 b constitute a money input unit. Each of the spin button 6 a, the credit payout button 6 b, the BET buttons 7 a, 7 b, 7 c, and the winning line selection buttons 8 a, 8 b, and 8 c is a lamp button, and in other words, includes a light emission unit and emits light when pushed by the player.

The monitor 11 is placed inside the slot machine 1. The monitor 11 is preferably a liquid crystal display, or alternatively may be a plasma display or another type of flat-panel display. However, the monitor 11 in Embodiment 1 must allow infrared rays to pass between the rear of the monitor 11 and the display screen of the monitor 11, as described below in greater detail. Five symbol display regions 11 a are, in particular, included on the monitor 11. A plurality of symbols are aligned in a specific order and displayed in each symbol display region 11 a. A touch panel 17 is further provided on the screen of the monitor 11. The touch panel 17 includes a transparent touch sensor, preferably an analog capacitive coupling touch sensor, or alternatively, may be an ultrasonic wave (surface elastic wave) touch sensor. Additionally, a credit display unit 11 b, a BET display unit 11 c, and an award display unit 11 d are displayed on the screen of the monitor 11. The total number of credits belonging to the player (the money which the player inserted into the coin slot 5 a or the bill slot 5 b) is displayed on the credit display unit 11 b. The amount that the player has bet is displayed on the BET display unit 11 c. Here, the player operates the BET buttons 7 a, 7 b, and 7 c to set the amount of the bet. The number of credits which the player has won as a result of the game is displayed on the award display region 11 d. An inspection device (which authenticates the coins and the bills inserted by the player), a hopper (which stores a plurality of coins), a coin payout device (which uses the hopper to discharge a predetermined number of coins through the coin outlet 9 a), a speaker, a main control unit, and a sub-control unit are further included inside the slot machine 1.

A reset switch 12 is provided on the side of the slot machine 1. There is a keyhole in this reset switch 12. The reset switch 12 can be activated by inserting a specific key into this keyhole. The specific keys are held by one or more casino workers, and accordingly players cannot operate the reset switch 12.

A card slot 13 and a display device 14 are provided on the top of the slot machine 1. A house card (a removable recording medium used in the casino) is inserted into the card slot 13. The house card is provided to each player. The house card stores identification data (player ID) of the player. A management server of the casino matches players' personal data (which players register at the reception desk or the like of the casino) to the respective player IDs. The amount of money that the player has spent on the games, and the points corresponding to the amount of money spent, are also recorded on the house card. In particular, a player can receive a bonus such as a free accommodation coupon based on the number of points the player has. The display device 14 displays the number of points the player has received. Moreover, the house card is used when the player uses the money previously deposited in the casino to play a game on the slot machine 1 (described below in greater detail).

The main control unit 20 includes a first CPU 21, a first input/output port 21 a, a first ROM 22, a first RAM 23, a random number generating circuit 24, a first display control unit 25, a lighting control unit 26, a sound control unit 27, and a payout control unit 28 (see FIG. 3). The first CPU 21 is connected to an operating unit and an inserted money counting device (not shown in the figures) in addition to the other components of the main control unit 20. The operating unit includes the spin button 6 a, the credit payout button 6 b, the BET buttons 7 a, 7 b, 7 c, the winning line selection buttons 8 a, 8 b, 8 c, the touch panel 17, and the like (see FIG. 2). The inserted money counting device counts the amount of money inserted into the coin slot 5 a and the bill slot 5 b. The first CPU 21 controls the other components of the main control unit 20 based on data from the operating unit and the inserted money counting device. The first I/O port 21 a is used for data communications between the main control unit 20 and the sub-control unit 30. The first ROM 22 stores various programs and databases used by the first CPU 21. The first RAM 23 temporarily stores variable data and the like that is calculated by the first CPU 21. The random number generating circuit 24 generates and outputs random number(s) to the first CPU 21 at predetermined intervals. The first display control unit 25 and the monitor 11 constitute a display unit. The first display control unit 25 in particular controls the screen display of the monitor 11. The lighting control unit 26 controls the lighting of the lamps 10 a and 10 b. The sound control unit 27 controls the speaker 15 so as to output voice announcements and sound effects. The payout control unit 28 controls the coin payout device 16 so as to discharge a predetermined number of coins from the hopper through the coin outlet 9 a to the coin receiver 9.

The sub-control unit 30 includes a second CPU 31, a second ROM 32, a second RAM 33, a card reader 34, a second display control unit 35, a second input/output port 36, a third I/O port 37, and an authentication data input unit (an infrared ray irradiation unit 38 and a fingerprint sensor 39) (see FIG. 4). The second CPU 31 controls the other components of the sub-control unit 30. The second ROM 32 stores various programs and databases used by the second CPU 31. The second RAM 33 temporarily stores variable data and the like that is calculated by the second CPU 31. The card reader 34 reads data (in particular, a player ID) from a house card inserted into the card slot 13, and outputs the data to the second CPU 31. The second display control unit 35 controls the display device 14. The second I/O port 36 is used for data communications between the sub-control unit 30 and the main control unit 20. The third I/O port 37 is used for data communications between the sub-control unit 30 and the management server 40 of the casino.

The authentication data input unit, that is, the infrared ray irradiation unit 38 and the fingerprint sensor 39, is placed on the rear side of the monitor 11, preferably at the lower right portion of the screen when seen by the player (see FIG. 1). In particular, the infrared ray irradiation surface of the infrared ray irradiation unit 38 and the reading surface of the fingerprint sensor 39 are each positioned so as to face the rear side of the monitor 11. Accordingly, the authentication position is set at the lower right portion of the screen of the monitor 11, when seen by the player. The infrared ray irradiation unit 38 irradiates the rear side of the monitor 11 with infrared rays emitted from the infrared ray irradiation surface thereof, under the control of the second CPU 31. The infrared rays that reach the back of the monitor 11 penetrate the monitor 11 and the touch panel 17, and are then reflected by the finger of the player that has been placed on the authentication position. The reflected light penetrates the touch panel 17 and the monitor 11, and then reaches the rear side of the monitor 11. The fingerprint sensor 39 detects the reflected light that has passed through the monitor 11, and then decodes the fingerprint pattern of the player from the reflected light. The fingerprint sensor 39 further generates fingerprint pattern data based on the decoded fingerprint pattern, and sends the data to the second CPU 31.

The following explains each operation of the above-described units in accordance with the flow of a game performed in the slot machine 1 (see FIG. 5). The player inserts coins or bills in advance into the coin or bill slot 5 a or 5 b, respectively. The inserted money counting device counts the inserted coins and/or bills, and then creates and outputs inserted money data to the first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20. The player can also request a credit payout process (described in greater detail below) on the slot machine 1, and thereby use the credits previously deposited in the casino. The first CPU 21 creates credit data based on the inserted money data, or in accordance with the credit payout process, and then records the credit data in the first RAM 23.

The player operates the winning line selection buttons 8 a, 8 b, 8 c, and the BET buttons 7 a, 7 b, and 7 c, in order to enter selected winning lines and the amount to be bet (step S1). For example, 1-3 winning lines are selected, and 1-3 bet credits are selected. Here, the operational contents of each button are sent to the first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20 as operation signals. The first CPU 21 processes credit data recorded in the first RAM 23 in order to reduce the number of credits in the credit data by the credits represented by the operation signal (step S2). For example, when three winning lines and two bet credits per winning line are selected, the number of credits in the credit data recorded in the first RAM 23 are reduced by 6 (i.e., 2×3) credits.

Then, the first CPU 21 will accept an operation signal from the spin button 6 a. In other words, the operation of the spin button 6 a by the player will be allowed. When the player operates the spin button 6 a, the first CPU 21 generates and sends a start signal to the first display control unit 25 and the random number generating circuit 24 (step S3). The first display control unit 25 starts a moving symbol display control in response to the start signal, and thereby continues to change the symbols displayed in each symbol display region 11 a on the monitor 11 (step S4). The random number generating circuit 24 generates five random numbers in response to the start signal, and then sends these random numbers to the first CPU 21 in the order they are generated (step S5). Each random number is allocated to each symbol display region 11 a displayed on the monitor 11. Each time a random number is received from the random number generating circuit 24, the first CPU 21 accesses stop position tables stored in the first ROM 22. Here, the stop position tables show the corresponding relationship between random numbers and the display patterns of the symbols, and preferably one table is prepared for each symbol display region 11 a. The first CPU 21 retrieves from the stop position tables a display pattern of the symbols which corresponds to each random number for each symbol display region 11 a. The retrieved display pattern of the symbols indicates the arrangement (the stop positions) of the symbols to be displayed in each symbol display region 11 a at the end of the moving symbol display. The first CPU 21 further performs a lottery process based on the five random numbers sent from the random number generating circuit 24 (step S6). In other words, the first CPU 21 retrieves the combination of the random numbers from a winning determination table stored in the first ROM 22, and then determines whether or not the player wins an award based on the combination. Here, the awards provided to the player preferably include a right (bonus) to proceed to a special game (a bonus game such as an event, a free game, or a feature game), in addition to a predetermined number of credits. In that case, the winning determination table used for the special game is stored in the first ROM 22, in addition to the winning determination table used for a normal game. Furthermore, a different winning determination table may be prepared for each of the winning lines selected by using the winning line selection buttons 8 a, 8 b, and 8 c.

After the lottery process (step S6), the first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20 controls the first display control unit 25 to stop the moving symbol display in each symbol display region 11 a and display the symbols at their stop positions (step S7). After the symbols are displayed at the stop positions in each symbol display region 11 a, the first CPU 21 outputs predetermined effect signals to the lighting control unit 26 and the sound control unit 27. The lighting control unit 26 controls each light emission unit included in the various lamps 10 a, 10 b, and lamp buttons (for example, the spin button 6 a, the credit payout button 6 b, the BET buttons 7 a, 7 b, 7 c, and the winning line selection buttons 8 a, 8 b, and 8 c), to blink in a pattern according to the received effect signal. The sound control unit 27 switches the sound effect coming out of the speaker 15 to the sound effect according to the received effect signal. When a payout of credits has been determined in the lottery process (step S6, S8, S9), the first CPU 21 then performs a payout process, and thereby adds credits to be awarded to the number of credits in the credit data recorded in the first RAM 23 (step S10). On the other hand, when the grant of a bonus is determined in the lottery process (step S6, S8, S9), the first CPU 21 switches from the usual control mode to the special control mode (an event or a bonus game) which corresponds to the bonus (step S11).

The slot machine 1 according to Embodiment 1 of the present invention converts credits spent on the games by the player to points, and then provides various services to the player depending on the number of points accumulated. A player who wants the chance to earn these services will register at the reception desk of the casino prior to playing a game on the slot machine 1. In this registration process, for example, the player will provide his/her personal data (such as the player's name and address) on a form, and then submits the form at the reception desk in order to receive a house card in which a player ID is recorded. The submitted personal data of the player is registered in the database of the management server 40 via a terminal.

A service which allows a player to use credit data that indicates the amount of money (credit) deposited in the casino for the game is provided in Embodiment 1 of the present invention. More specifically, the player deposits money at a specific location in the casino, such as the reception desk. The amount of money deposited is shown in the credit data, which is recorded in the database of the management server 40. The player's player ID is linked to the credit data. This makes games more enjoyable for the player, because the player can play games at the slot machine 1 without carrying money. Here, a sufficiently high level of security to protect the credit data registered in the management sever 40 essential in order to achieve such a service. Embodiment 1 of the present invention ensures this sufficiently high level of security as follows.

The following describes a method of using the credit data registered in the management server 40, which is a distinctive characteristic of the present invention (see FIG. 6). Before the player can use the credit data to play games, the player must first provide his/her fingerprint pattern (for example, a fingerprint of the index finger on the right hand) when depositing money at the reception desk of the casino. Thereby, credit data which shows the amount of money deposited, and the fingerprint pattern, are registered in the database of the management server 40. When using the registered credit data for a game in the slot machine 1, the player inserts the house card in which the player ID is stored into the card slot 13 (step S21). At that time, the card reader 34 of the sub-control unit 30 reads the recorded player ID from the inserted house card, and sends the player ID to the second CPU 31 of the sub-control unit 30 (step S22). When receiving the player ID from the card reader 34, the second CPU 31 determines whether the player ID is valid or not (step S23). Note that the management server 40 may perform the determination instead of the control unit of the slot machine 1. In this case, the second CPU 31 sends the received player ID to the management server 40, and then receives the results of the determination of the management server 40 as a response.

When the player ID is determined to be invalid in step S23, the second CPU 31 informs the first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20 of the results of this determination. The first CPU 21 then commands the first display control unit 25 to display an error message on the monitor 11 (step S31). On the other hand, in the sub-control unit 30, the second CPU 31 sends a card discharge signal to the card reader 34 in order to discharge the house card (step S32). When the player ID is determined to be valid in step S23, the second CPU 31 informs the first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20 of the results of the determination. The first CPU 21 then commands the first display control unit 25 to display a personal authentication screen on the monitor 11 as shown in FIG. 7 (step S24). On this personal authentication screen, a guidance message 11 e is displayed as a guidance image, and overlaps the original image in the symbol display region 11 a. The authentication position is located at the lower right portion of the screen in Embodiment 1 of the present invention, as described above (see FIG. 1). Accordingly, the text characters 11 g which read “Authentication Frame” and guide the authentication position, and an image 11 f of an authentication frame, are displayed as a guidance image at the lower right portion of the screen. In addition, a guidance message 11 e that states “Touch authentication frame at the lower right portion of the screen with your right index finger.” is displayed at the center of the screen (see FIG. 7). The images inform the player that the player's right index finger (authentication object) should touch the inside of the authentication frame displayed on the screen of the monitor 11. Note that, for example, images similar to the text characters 11 g that read “Authentication Frame”, and the image 11 f of the authentication frame, may be drawn in ink directly on the screen of the monitor 11, instead of the display of the guidance image on the screen of the monitor 11 shown in FIG. 7. Alternatively, stickers on which similar images are drawn may be applied to the screen of the monitor 11.

When the player touches the inside of the authentication frame of the image 11 f with his/her right index finger, the touch panel 17 detects this act (step S25). The result of the detection is sent from the touch panel 17 through the first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20 to the second CPU 31 of the sub-control unit 30. The second CPU 31 then sends a command to the infrared ray irradiation unit 38 to irradiate infrared rays, and the infrared ray irradiation unit 38 emits infrared rays from its infrared ray irradiating surface. The infrared rays emitted from the infrared ray irradiation unit 38 penetrate the screen of the monitor 11 and the touch panel 17, and are then reflected by the right index finger of the player placed on the authentication position. The reflected light penetrates the screen of the monitor 11 and the touch panel 17, and is then detected by the fingerprint sensor 39. The fingerprint sensor 39 decodes the fingerprint pattern of the right index finger from the detected light, and then generates fingerprint pattern data, which is sent to the second CPU 31 (step S26).

The second CPU 31 performs a fingerprint authentication process to match the fingerprint pattern data received from the fingerprint sensor 39 with the fingerprint pattern data which matches the player ID received from the card reader 34 (step S27). More specifically, after having received the fingerprint pattern data from the fingerprint sensor 39, the second CPU 31 sends a request for fingerprint pattern data (which includes the player ID received from the card reader 34) through the third I/O port 37 to the management server 40. After receiving this request, the management server 40 reads the fingerprint pattern data which matches the player ID included in the request from the database, and then transmits the data to the sub-control unit 30 of the slot machine 1. The fingerprint pattern data received by the third I/O port 37 is sent to the second CPU 31, which matches the received fingerprint pattern data with the fingerprint pattern data received from the fingerprint sensor 39. This fingerprint authentication process determines whether or not the player is the person who has the authority to use the credit data which matches the player ID recorded in the house card that is inserted into the card reader 34 (in other words, whether or not the player is the person that requested registration of the credit data). Note that the management server 40 may perform the above-described fingerprint authentication process, instead of the control unit of the slot machine 1. In this case, the second CPU 31 sends the fingerprint pattern data received from the fingerprint sensor 39 to the management server 40, and then receives the results of the determination of the management server 40 as a response. When the fingerprint pattern data read from the player does not match the registered fingerprint pattern data in the above-described fingerprint authentication process, the second CPU 31 informs the first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20 of the authentication results (step S28). The first CPU 21 then commands the first display control unit 25 to display an error message on the monitor 11 (step S31). The second CPU 31 sends a card discharge signal to the card reader 34 to discharge the house card (step S32). When the fingerprint pattern data read from the player matches the registered fingerprint pattern data in the above-described fingerprint authentication process, the second CPU 31 performs an acquisition process which matches the credit data with the player ID received from the card leader 34 (step S28, S29). More specifically, the second CPU 31 sends a request for the credit data (which includes the player ID received from the card reader 34) to the management server 40 through the third I/O port 37. After receiving the request, the management device 40 reads the credit data which matches the player ID included in the request from the database, and then transmits the credit data to the sub-control unit 30 of the slot machine 1. The credit data received by the third I/O port 37 is sent to the second CPU 31, which then sends the credit data to the first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20. The first CPU 21 records the received credit data in the first RAM 23 (step S30). In this manner, the player's credit data can be used for the game on the slot machine 1.

In Embodiment 1 of the present invention, the points are provided to the player depending on the amount of money or the like which the player has spent on the game, and managed by the management server 40 as described above. In this case, the response to the request for the credit data includes point data which matches the player ID. Here, the point data preferably indicates the total points which has been provided to the player in all the games played by the player in the casino. When a player plays a game in the casino for the first time, the player's point data indicates “0”. When a player has previously played one or more games in the casino, the player's point data indicates the total points which the player has previously earned. The second CPU 31 of the sub-control unit 30 stores the point data received from the management server 40 in the second RAM 33 for a period of time. After that, the second CPU 31 outputs an instruction to the second display control unit 35 that is displayed in accordance with the point data. Thus, the second display control unit 35 controls the display device 14 so as to display character data that indicates the number of points available. On the other hand, every time the player performs a game in the slot machine 1, the first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20 outputs the credit consumption data (which indicates the number of credits that have been consumed) recorded in the first RAM 23 through the first I/O port 21 a to the sub-control unit 30. The credit consumption data is input into the second CPU 31 through the second I/O port 36 of the sub-control unit 30. The second CPU 31 converts the credit consumption data to points, and then adds the points to the points in the point data stored in the second RAM 33. After the points are added, the point data can be displayed at any time by the display device 14. The second CPU 31 further outputs data which indicates the converted points to the player ID, as well as to the management server 40, through the third I/O port 37. The management server 40 retrieves the point data from the database which matches the received player ID, and adds the received points to the points in the retrieved point data. The player can use the points in the point data registered in the database of the management server 40 in exchange for services, depending on the total points the player has, at places in the casino such as the reception desk.

In Embodiment 1 of the present invention, the authentication data input unit (the infrared ray irradiation unit 38 and the fingerprint sensor 39) is located on the rear side of the monitor 11, and reads the fingerprint pattern of the right index finger of the player that is touching the screen of the monitor 11, through the screen of the monitor 11, as mentioned above. In particular, the authentication position which the player's right index finger (authentication object) is to touch exists on the screen of the monitor 11 (inside the authentication frame shown in FIG. 7). Accordingly, the authentication position is placed in a location that the player can easily access without increasing the screen size of the monitor 11.

Embodiment 2

Embodiment 2 of the present invention is applied to a video slot machine that is similar to the slot machine described in Embodiment 1. Here, the slot machine according to Embodiment 2 of the present invention differs from the slot machine of Embodiment 1 in the way a player ID is read from a house card and the structure used to perform the same. The other basis structures and operations of the slot machine of Embodiment 2 are similar to those of Embodiment 1. Accordingly, the following will describe the portions of the slot machine of Embodiment 2 that are different than that of Embodiment 1.

The configuration of the main control unit of the slot machine 1 according to Embodiment 2 of the present invention is similar to the configuration of the main control unit according to the above-described Embodiment 1 shown in FIG. 3. On the other hand, the sub-control unit 130 includes an IC tag reader unit 138 and 139 instead of the card reader 34 (see FIG. 8), unlike the sub-control unit of Embodiment 1. The IC tag reader unit serves as a new authentication data input unit, and is located on the rear side of the monitor 11. The IC tag reader unit preferably includes a magnetic field generating unit 138, and a card communications unit 139. The magnetic field generating unit 138 generates magnetic fields in the vicinity of the screen of the monitor 11, and by using the magnetic fields, supplies electric power to an IC tag (authentication object) mounted in the house card. Here, the IC tag is preferably a magnetic coupling non-contact IC tag, comprising an antenna coil that has both a power supply function and a wireless communication function, a storage unit which stores a player ID, and a communications circuit unit which performs external near field wireless communications. The IC tag may separately comprise a coil for use in power supply and an antenna for use in wireless communications, instead of the antenna coil. The IC tag receives electric power from the magnetic fields through the antenna coil, and uses the electric power to send the player ID (authentication data) stored in the storage unit from the communications circuit unit to the outside. The card communications unit 139 performs near field wireless communications with the communications circuit unit of the IC tag, and then receives, in particular, the player ID sent from the IC tag. The card communications unit 139 is preferably designed so that its communications antenna is positioned opposite to the rear side of the monitor 11. In Embodiment 2 of the present invention, it is preferable that the magnetic field generating unit 138 and the card communications unit 139 are placed at the lower left portion of the screen as seen from the player. Therefore, the lower left portion of the screen of the monitor 11 is the authentication position. Preferably, a card reading region (the authentication position) over which a house card is to be placed is always displayed on the lower left portion of the screen of the monitor 11, as shown in FIG. 9. In particular, text characters 11 h which read “Hold your card here”, and text characters 11 i “Card Reading Region”, which indicates the region over which the card is to be read, are displayed as guidance images on the screen. Note that these guidance images may be drawn in ink directly on the screen of the monitor 11, or alternatively, stickers on which the guidance images are drawn may be placed on the screen of the monitor 11.

When the player uses the registered credit data for the game in the slot machine 1, the player holds the house card over the card reading region in accordance with the guidance images displayed on the screen. Because the magnetic field generating unit 138 always generates the magnetic fields in the vicinity of the card reading region, the IC tag inside the house card receives electric power when the house card is held near the card reading region. By using the electric power, the communications circuit unit of the IC tag transmits the player ID stored in the storage unit from the antenna coil. The transmitted player ID is received by the card communications unit 139 on the rear of the monitor 11. The card communications unit 139 performs an ID authentication process to determine whether the received player ID is valid or not.

Preferably, the IC tag reader unit includes a detection unit. The detection unit is preferably an infrared ray sensor, which detects the house card when it is held near the card reading region. In this case, the magnetic field generating unit 138 may not always have to generate magnetic fields. For example, when the detection unit detects the approach of the house card to the card reading region, the result of the detection is sent to the second CPU 31 of the sub-control unit 30. The second CPU 31 then starts the magnetic field generating unit 138 to generate the magnetic fields for a predetermined period of time.

The second CPU 31 informs the first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20 of the results of the ID authentication process by the card communications unit 139. When the player ID received by the card communications unit 139 is determined to be invalid, the first CPU 21 controls the first display control unit 25 so as to display an error message on the screen of the monitor 11. When the player ID received by the card communications unit 139 is determined to be valid, the first CPU 21 controls the first display control unit 25 so as to display the personal authentication screen on the monitor 11, as shown in FIG. 7. After that, an authentication processes is performed, similar to the authentication process of Embodiment 1.

As described above, in the slot machine according to Embodiment 2 of the present invention, the authentication data input unit (the magnetic field generating unit 138 and the card communications unit 139) is located on the rear side of the monitor 11, and reads the player ID through the screen of the monitor 11 from the house card held near the screen of the monitor 11. In particular, the authentication position (the card reading region) where the house card needs to be held is on the screen of the monitor 11. Accordingly, the authentication position is placed in a location that the player can easily access without increasing the screen size of the monitor 11.

When a non-contact IC tag is mounted in the house card as in Embodiment 2 of the present invention, credit data may be stored in the storage unit inside the non-contact IC tag. In this case, the card communications unit 139 receives the credit data from the IC tag of the house card by near field wireless communications, instead of the acquisition process of the credit data from the management server 40 according to Embodiment 1. More specifically, the second CPU 31 of the sub-control unit 30 transmits a request for the credit data through the card communications unit 139 to the IC tag of the house card. The IC tag then reads the credit data from the storage unit, and transmits the credit data from the antenna coil. The second CPU 31 receives the credit data through the card communications unit 139, and then sends the credit data to the first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20. The first CPU 21 records the received credit data in the first RAM 23, and then uses the credit data for the game in the slot machine 1. In such a configuration, the management server 40 does not have to manage the credit data.

Embodiment 3

Embodiment 3 of the present invention is applied to a video slot machine, similar to Embodiment 1. Here, the slot machine according to Embodiment 3 of the present invention differs from the slot machine of Embodiment 1, in the way personal authentication is performed by using a fingerprint authentication process, and the structure used to perform the same. The other basic structures and operations of this slot machine are similar to those of Embodiment 1. Accordingly, the following will describe the portions of the slot machine of Embodiment 3 that differ from those of Embodiment 1.

When the player uses the credit data registered in the management server 40 for a game, the control unit of the slot machine of Embodiment 3 of the present invention performs the following control procedures (see FIG. 10). Here, when depositing money at certain places such as the reception desk and the like in the casino, the player provides a combination of a question and a correct answer which only the player knows, and the fingerprint pattern of his or her the right index finger. Thus, the credit data which indicates the deposited money, the fingerprint pattern, and the combination of the question and the answer, are registered in the database of the management server 40, and organized to match the player ID. The player inserts the house card into the card slot 13. When the player ID stored in the house card is determined to be valid (steps S21-S23), the control unit of the slot machine acquires the question and correct answer combination, which matches the player ID received from the card reader 34, from the management server 40 (step S41). More specifically, the second CPU 31 of the sub-control unit 30 sends a request for the question and correct answer combination (which includes the player ID received from the card reader 34) from the third I/O port 37 to the management server 40. The management server 40 reads data from the database which indicates the question and correct answer combination which matches the player ID included in the request, and then transmits the data to the sub-control unit 30 of the slot machine. The data which indicates the problem and the correct answer combination is received by the third I/O port 37, and is then sent to the second CPU 31. The second CPU 31 further sends the data to the first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20.

The first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20 controls the first display control unit 25 based on the received data which indicates the question and correct answer combination, so as to display the personal authentication screen on the screen of the monitor 11 shown in FIG. 11 (step S24). On this personal authentication screen, text characters 11 j which show the registered question are displayed as a guidance image, and overlap the original images displayed in the symbol display regions 11 a. The name of the player's pet is asked in the example shown in FIG. 11. On the other hand, three answer frames 11 k and the corresponding text characters 11 l (which indicates the choice of answers) are displayed as guidance images at the bottom of the personal authentication screen. Only one of the answers of the text characters 11 l is the registered correct answer. Furthermore, three authentication data input units (the three pairs of infrared ray irradiation units 38 and the fingerprint sensors 39) are placed at positions on the rear side of the monitor 11 (not shown), in which each corresponds to the display positions of the three answer frames 11 k. The player reads the question 11 j, selects one answer from the three choices, and then touches the corresponding answer frame 11 k with the right index finger. The touch position is detected by the touch panel 17 provided on the screen of the monitor 11. This result of detection is sent from the touch panel 17 to the first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20. The first CPU 21 identifies the selected answer frame 11 k from the detection results of the touch panel 17, and determines whether or not the answer frame 11 k matches the correct answer (step S42). When it is determined that the selected answer frame 11 k does not match the correct answer, the first CPU 21 controls the first display control unit 25 to display an error message on the screen of the monitor 11 (step S31). The first CPU 21 further informs the second CPU 31 of the sub-control unit 30 of the result of the determination. The second CPU 31 sends a card discharge signal to the card reader 34 to discharge the house card (step S32). When it is determined that the selected answer frame 11 k matches the correct answer, the first CPU 21 informs the second CPU 31 of the sub-control unit 30 of the result of the determination. The second CPU 31 sends a command to the infrared ray irradiation unit 38 to irradiate infrared rays. Thus, infrared rays are emitted from the infrared ray irradiation unit 38 through the screen of the monitor 11, and are then reflected by the player's right index finger. The reflected light goes through the screen of the monitor 11, and is detected by the fingerprint sensor 39. The fingerprint sensor 39 reads the fingerprint pattern from the detected reflected light, and s the fingerprint pattern data which indicates the read fingerprint pattern to the second CPU 31 (step S26). After that, an authentication process is performed, similar to the authentication process of Embodiment 1 (see FIG. 6).

The slot machine according to Embodiment 3 of the present invention displays the three choices of answers 11 l on the screen of the monitor 11, and allows the player to select one of them, as described above. When the player's finger touches the authentication position corresponding to the correct answer (e.g., “MAX”, where the finger touches the inside of the answer frame corresponding to “MAX”), the fingerprint pattern is read. On the other hand, when the player's finger touches the other authentication position corresponding to another answer (that is, the inside of the answer frame corresponding to “JAKE” or “ROCKY”), the fingerprint pattern is not read. Thus, only the player who can select the correct answer will undergo fingerprint authentication. As a result, the security of personal data such as credit data is ensured at an even higher level, because the reliability of the player's authentication is higher than that of an authentication that is based only on a fingerprint authentication process as in Embodiment 1.

Instead of the above-described authentication process, for example, the following service may be offered: specific questions and choices 11 l of answers are displayed on the screen of the monitor 11; the player is allowed to select one of the choices 11 l by using his or her finger; and when the player touches the answer frame corresponding to the correct answer, the player wins a predetermined number of points. In this case, the first CPU 21 of the main control unit 20 determines whether or not the player has selected the correct answer, based on a result of detection of the touch panel 17. When the player has selected the correct answer, the first CPU 21 informs the second CPU 31 of the sub-control unit 30 of the result of the determination. The second CPU 31 then adds bonus points to be awarded to the player to the points in the point data stored in the second RAM 33.

Note that each of the above-described embodiments of the present invention is applied to a slot machine installed in a casino. However, the present invention is not limited to use in slot machines. In other words, the present invention is applicable to general electronic appliances equipped with both a monitor and an authentication device. In particular, the authentication position overlaps with the screen according to the present invention, which achieves both a further increase in screen size and a further simplification of the authentication process, while keeping the overall size of the appliance sufficiently small. Accordingly, the present invention is particularly advantageous when applied to portable electronic appliances, such as notebook computers and cellular phones.

General Interpretation of Terms

In understanding the scope of the present invention, the term “configured” as used herein to describe a component, section or part of a device includes hardware and/or software that is constructed and/or programmed to carry out the desired function. In understanding the scope of the present invention, the term “comprising” and its derivatives, as used herein, are intended to be open ended terms that specify the presence of the stated features, elements, components, groups, integers, and/or steps, but do not exclude the presence of other unstated features, elements, components, groups, integers and/or steps. The foregoing also applies to words having similar meanings such as the terms, “including”, “having” and their derivatives. Also, the terms “part,” “section,” “portion,” “member” or “element” when used in the singular can have the dual meaning of a single part or a plurality of parts. Finally, terms of degree such as “substantially”, “about” and “approximately” as used herein mean a reasonable amount of deviation of the modified term such that the end result is not significantly changed. For example, these terms can be construed as including a deviation of at least ±5% of the modified term if this deviation would not negate the meaning of the word it modifies.

While only selected embodiments have been chosen to illustrate the present invention, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art from this disclosure that various changes and modifications can be made herein without departing from the scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims. Furthermore, the foregoing descriptions of the embodiments according to the present invention are provided for illustration only, and not for the purpose of limiting the invention as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US74911229 Jul 200317 Feb 2009Wms Gaming Inc.Gaming machine having targeted run-time software authentication
US789674116 Oct 20061 Mar 2011IgtProgressive controller
US793499325 Jan 20073 May 2011IgtSecure progressive controller
US803853017 Feb 200618 Oct 2011Wms Gaming Inc.Method and apparatus for filtering wagering game content
US80525266 Sep 20068 Nov 2011IgtMethod and apparatus for peer-to-peer wagering game
US20090083850 *9 Sep 200826 Mar 2009Apple Inc.Embedded authentication systems in an electronic device
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/29
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationG07F17/3211, G07F17/3206
European ClassificationG07F17/32C2F, G07F17/32C2B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
25 May 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: KONAMI GAMING INCORPORATED, NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:AIDA, EIJI;REEL/FRAME:017679/0339
Effective date: 20060421