GAME CONTROLLER DEVICE

- SPLITFISH GAMEWARE INC.

A video game controller device includes a left hand controller having standard left hand video game controls, and a right hand controller having motion detection means to translate game user input into video game movement. Both the left hand and right hand controllers are operatively connected to a video game console.

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Description

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the priority benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/884,765 filed on Jan. 12, 2007 entitled “Game Controller Device”, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a video game controller device which is intended to allow the user to have better control and minimize fatigue while playing a video game.

To date, the Sony Playstation™ has been in existence since the Sony Playstation™ 1 and has evolved to the Sony Playstation™ 2 and the Sony Playstation™ 3. The Microsoft XBOX™ has been in existence since the first generation XBOX™ and more recently has been replaced with the XBOX 360™. Nintendo's Game Cube™ has evolved into the Wii™. With the continuing development of such sophisticated video game consoles and video games, the number of users and the amount of time spent on game playing have increased considerably. A controller is typically connected to a video game console and allows the user to interact with the video game, governing the movement or action of a game element, for example, a character's movement or control of a vehicle. The controller usually provides buttons for simulating shooting, flight or driving; scrolling or carrying out sport actions. Video games often require accuracy for targeting, aiming and shooting.

All leading video game consoles have limitations with respect to their controllers which have been similarly designed to include left and right controllers, thumbsticks, and a single control pad containing buttons for manipulation by both left and right hand fingers. Controllers for the Sony Playstation 2™, XBOX™, and XBOX 360™ consoles have two thumbsticks positioned on the top of the controller which are programmed to allow a user's character or vehicle to move forward, backward, to the left or to the right with the left thumbstick, and to move left, right, up or down with the right thumbstick. Both the left and right thumbsticks are moved by the user's thumbs. Thumbstick movements are extensive in video games as the main means by which a user can move his character or vehicle. Since complex video games require the user to play for longer time periods before game completion, the user may be more susceptible to fatigue and injuries (i.e., calluses and sores on the thumbs and repetitive strain injuries).

Current controllers include electronics which translate movements of the left and right thumbsticks. The controllers are fixed with respect to the movement that the thumbsticks allow. The thumbsticks are hardwired to an average game; however, not all video games use the same movement standards for their own programming. Consequently, certain video games respond far too little or far too much, hampering video game accuracy.

Further, current controllers may be suitable for only certain styles of games such as side scrolling or puzzle games; however, they may not enable the quick response time required for driving or shooting games, or competitive play among several users. What is needed is an improved video game controller device which mitigates these disadvantages of the prior art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a video game controller device. In one aspect of the invention, the invention comprises a video game controller device comprising a left hand controller comprising standard left hand video game controls, and a right hand controller comprising motion detection means to translate game user input into video game movement, wherein both left hand and right hand controllers are operatively connected to a video game console.

In one embodiment, the device further comprises a lap pad having a planar surface for supporting the left and right hand controllers. In one embodiment, the lap pad defines a longitudinal, curved seat or cradle shaped to rest the left hand controller.

In one embodiment, the motion detection means are selected from an optical infrared sensor; a roller ball and shaft encoders; inertial components; and a light-emitting diode and photodiodes. In one embodiment, the right hand controller further comprises standard right hand video controls. In one embodiment, the left hand controller includes a speed module. In one embodiment, one or both of the left hand controller and right hand controller have sensitivity modules.

In one embodiment, the left and right hand controllers are electrically connected to the controller by cable or wireless connection. In one embodiment, the device further comprises synchronous programmable electronic chips.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will now be described by way of an exemplary embodiment with reference to the accompanying simplified, diagrammatic, not-to-scale drawing.

FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention provides a video game controller device. When describing the present invention, all terms not defined herein have their common art-recognized meanings. To the extent that the following description is of a specific embodiment or a particular use of the invention, it is intended to be illustrative only, and not limiting of the claimed invention. The following description is intended to cover all alternatives, modifications and equivalents that are included in the spirit and scope of the invention, as defined in the appended claims.

The invention will now be described having regard to the accompanying FIGURE. The video game controller device is shown generally at 1 in FIG. 1 to include a lap pad (10), a left hand controller (12) and a right hand controller (14). The controller device (1) is used with a video game console system (16) which is electrically connected to a conventional video display (18).

The controller device (1) includes electronic circuitry to communicate via the bi-directional signals output from the console system (16). The controller device (1) translates the desired movements activated by the user and inputs the data into the bi-directional data stream of the console system (16), thus controlling onscreen activity of the video game. The alteration of the data stream includes the insertion of corresponding button and thumbstick data from the left and right hand controllers (12, 14) into the bi-directional data stream which is processed by the console system (16) and video game programming.

Suitable video displays include, for example, a computer monitor, a TV screen, a projection screen or any other device which displays the video and graphics of the video game for viewing by the user. In one embodiment, the console system (16) is electrically connected to the video display (18) by a cable (20). In one embodiment, the console system (16) is electrically connected to the video display (18) by a wireless connection such as, for example, radio frequency or infrared communication. In one embodiment, the console system (16) may have an integral video display.

The video game console system (16) may be a personal computer or a commercially available console such as, for example, Sony's PlayStation™, Microsoft's XBOX™ and Nintendo's Game Cube™ or Wii™. Although the controller device (1) of the present invention is described for currently available computers and consoles, it is contemplated that the controller device (1) of the present invention can be adapted for use with older or future computers or consoles. In one embodiment, the console system (16) accommodates a game memory (for example, a removable cartridge or disc) and a central processing unit (CPU) for executing the game software stored in the game memory and depicting game play elements (for example, characters, background, vehicles) associated with the game software on the video display (18). The CPU manipulates the game play elements in response to user inputs transmitted from the left hand controller (12) and the right hand controller (14).

The console system (16) may also transmit signals to either or both the left hand controller (12) and the right hand controller (14) to provide tactile or visual feedback. In one embodiment, the console system (16) activates one or more rumble or vibration motors housed within either or both the left hand controller (12) and the right hand controller (14) to vibrate. In one embodiment, the console system (16) activates stationary or flashing lights positioned on either or both the left hand controller (12) and the right hand controller (14) to provide visual feedback.

The lap pad (10) comprises a planar surface for supporting the left hand controller (12) and the right hand controller (14). The lap pad (10) is sized to accommodate the left hand controller (12) and the right hand controller (14) on its surface. The lap pad (10) may be in the form of any number of different symmetrical (for example, square, rectangular, etc.) or asymmetrical configurations (for example, wedge-shaped, etc.). In one embodiment, the lap pad (10) is in the shape of a rectangle as shown in FIG. 1. The lap pad (10) can be formed of any suitable material, although for strength and to withstand prolonged use, the lap pad (10) may be formed of resilient, rubber-like materials, foam rubber, plastics, or high-tech fibres. In one embodiment, the lap pad (10) is formed of a rigid material. In one embodiment, the lap pad (10) has an undersurface formed of a tacky or non-slip material to prevent the lap pad (10) from sliding on the user's lap or other surface such as for example, a TV tray, dinner tray or table.

In one embodiment, the lap pad (10) defines a longitudinal, curved seat or cradle shaped to rest the left hand controller (12). The user's left hand thus holds the left hand controller (12) and grips the lap pad (10) simultaneously, thereby applying a firm hold to both components (10, 12).

In one embodiment, the left hand controller (12) and the right hand controller (14) are operatively connected to the console system (16) or computer. In one embodiment, the left and right hand controllers (12, 14) are electrically connected to the console system (16) by a cable (22) which extends from the bases of the left and right hand controllers (12, 14) into suitable parallel, serial, or Universal Serial Bus ports of the console system (16) or computer. In one embodiment, the left hand controller (12) and the right hand controller (14) are electrically connected to the console system (16) by a wireless connection such as, for example, radio frequency or infrared communication, or other wireless technologies such as, for example, Bluetooth™ or Wi-Fi™. The wireless connection allows the user additional freedom of movement, since the user is not limited by the length of a cable connecting the controller device (1) to the console system (16). It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that more than one controller device (1) may be operatively connected to the console system (16) or computer to allow more than one player to play the video game simultaneously.

The left hand controller (12) and the right hand controller (14) are ergonomically shaped to be held under the respective hands of the user, and to maintain the hands in a relaxed position to reduce cramping and soreness and to avoid injuries with prolonged use. In one embodiment, the left hand controller (12) is held stationary under the user's left hand, while the right hand controller (14) is moved under the right hand over the lap pad (10).

In one embodiment, the left and right hand controllers (12, 14) comprise durable cases which house and protect the electronic circuitry and control elements. The cases are sized to accommodate these components and to fit comfortably within the palms of the hands. In one embodiment, the cases are formed of plastic or other resilient material.

The electronic circuitry translates the corresponding activation of the control elements into electrical signals, formats the electrical signals into the correct protocol, and inserts the signals back into the bi-directional data stream which is processed by the console system (16).

The control elements are associated with a particular action within the video game and can be manipulated by the user to perform the action. Upon manipulation of the control element, the input provided by the user is converted to electrical signals which are then translated by the console system (16) to manipulate images output to the video display (18). Suitable control elements include, for example, buttons, switches, analog sticks, thumbsticks, joysticks, dials, scroll wheels, trackballs, standard video game controls and the like. Control elements are typically formed of mobile and soft rubber parts.

In one embodiment, the left hand controller (12) comprises standard left hand video game controls mounted on electronic circuits. In one embodiment, the left hand controller (12) has control elements (24) including standard video game controls such as, for example, a directional pad (D-pad); L1, L2, L3, Select or Analog buttons; and a thumbstick or analog stick (26). The D-pad comprises a digital, cross-shaped pad which allows the user to input the desired direction of events within the video game (for example, left, right, up, down or diagonal movements of a video character or vehicle). Motion features are generally adjusted within a video game menu and thus may vary from game to game. The L1, L2, L3, Select or Analog buttons comprise depressible buttons to perform distinctive actions specified by the particular video game. Each button generally has a curved disk attached to its base. When the button is depressed, the disk is pushed against a conductive strip mounted on the circuit board. The thumbstick (26) comprises an upwardly extending protrusion which is rotatable by the user's thumb. The thumbstick (26) enables two-dimensional input based upon the position of the protrusion, and uses continuous electrical activity running through potentiometers. In one embodiment, the thumbstick (26) controls “camera” movements for the video game. The thumbstick (26) is formed of rubber or other suitable materials as commonly used in the art.

In one embodiment, the left hand controller (12) includes a sensitivity button for adjusting the overall speed of the video game. In one embodiment, the sensitivity button is positioned to be depressed by the user's left hand thumb. The sensitivity button enables fine-tuning of the overall speed in a particular video game to minimize user fatigue.

In one embodiment, the left hand controller (12) includes a speed adjustment button for providing accelerated speed. In one embodiment, the speed adjustment button is positioned to be depressed by the user's left index finger to accelerate the movement of the video game temporarily while it is pressed. Releasing the speed adjustment button returns the video game to its normal speed. This feature is advantageous for slowing down the video game for example, when accurate targeting or aiming in a shooting game is required. In one embodiment, the speed button has electronic chips to control the speed of events which have been activated by control elements of the right hand controller (14). It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the sensitivity and/or speed adjustment buttons may be included in the right hand controller (14) or lap pad (10).

In one embodiment, the right hand controller (14) comprises standard right hand video game controls mounted on electronic circuits, and motion detection means. In one embodiment, the right hand controller (14) has control elements (28) including standard video game controls such as, for example, Start, R1, R2, R3, Circle, Square, Triangle, X and Y buttons which comprise depressible buttons to perform distinctive actions specified by the particular video game. Each button generally has a curved disk attached to its base. When the button is depressed, the disk is pushed against a conductive strip mounted on the circuit board.

The right hand controller (14) includes motion detection means (not shown) so as to function similar to an optical computer mouse to enhance video game interactivity. In one embodiment, the motion detection means detects motion in two dimensions. Suitable motion detection means include for example, an optical infrared sensor; a roller ball and shaft encoders; inertial components; and a light-emitting diode and photodiodes to detect motion relative to the underlying lap pad (10) and to translate such motion to the electronic circuitry for input into the console system (16).

In one embodiment, the right hand controller (14) includes an optical infrared sensor on its undersurface to detect motion over the lap pad (10). The user drags the right hand controller (14) over the lap pad (10) in the manner of moving a computer mouse. Electronic circuitry detects motion via the infrared transmitter and translates the motion into corresponding electrical signals which are input into the bi-directional data stream.

In one embodiment, the right hand controller (14) may include a roller ball and shaft encoders as are commonly used in a ball-type computer mouse. As the right hand controller (14) is moved, the roller ball rolls in the direction of the movement which, in turn, moves a roller which represents an X or Y axis (i.e., the horizontal or vertical movement of the right hand controller). Rotation of the roller causes rotation of a gear having notches formed within or around its edges. As the gear rotates, light shines through the notches and is detected by light sensors which send a signal to the console system. The offset of the light received by the light sensors determines the direction of each axis.

In one embodiment, the right hand controller (14) may include inertial components as are commonly used in an inertial computer mouse. Such inertial components include for example, inertial sensors or accelerometers to detect movement for each axis supported.

In one embodiment, the right hand controller (14) includes a camera which takes thousands of images every second, and a red light-emitting diode which bounces light off the lap pad (10) onto a complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor sensor (CMOS). The CMOS sensor sends each image to a digital signal processor (DSP) for analysis. The DSP detects patterns in the images and examines how the patterns have moved since the previous image. Based upon the change in patterns over a sequence of images, the DSP determines how far the right hand controller (14) has moved and sends the corresponding coordinates to the console system (16). The console system (16) outputs the actions on the video display (18) based on the coordinates received from the right hand controller (14). This sequence repeats each second, making the actions on the video display (18) move smoothly. The right hand controller (14) with the aid of the lap pad (10) provides greater accuracy, speed and user comfort.

In one embodiment, one or both of the left hand controller (12) and right hand controller (14) have an adjustable switch for adjusting the sensitivity of the controller device (1). In one embodiment, the left hand controller (12) includes a left switch (30) connected to electronic circuitry within the left hand controller (12). The left switch (30) has an electronic chip or circuitry which adjusts the sensitivity by augmenting or diminishing the movement signal.

In one embodiment, both of the left and right hand controllers (12, 14) include adjustable switches. In one embodiment, the adjustable switches are slider switches. In one embodiment, the switches may have five different adjustments, which add offsets in the amounts of −2, −1, 0, +1, and +2 to the SPI protocol which is sent to the console system (16). It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the amounts of the offsets can be varied. The video game software processes the offsets as if the user pressed the left thumbstick or controller right thumbstick or controller less or more depending upon the offsets chosen by the user. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that alternative electrical components can be used to adjust the offsets; for example, adjustment may be performed by a thumbwheel.

In one embodiment, the controller device (1) includes programmable electronic chips which decode, modify and encode the bi-directional electronic signals sent among the left hand controller (12), the right hand controller (14) and the console system (16). In one embodiment, two programmable electronic chips are used. In one embodiment, synchronous programmable electronic chips are used. In one embodiment, two synchronous programmable electronic chips are used. In one embodiment, pre-programmed chips which include compatible SPI protocols already used by the Sony Playstation 2™ are used. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that a variety of synchronous chip arrays may be employed to accomplish the same results. Further, it will be appreciated that electronic configurations other than electronic programmable chips may be employed to decode, modify and encode the bi-directional electronic signals. In one embodiment, a programmable electronic ship array and electronic circuit may be placed in between the cable (22) and the console system (16).

Where power requirements for the controller device or any component thereof is described, one skilled in the art will realize that any suitable power source may be used, including, without limitation, electrical systems, rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries, self-contained power units, power adapters, electrical generators, wall power outlets or other appropriate sources.

During game play, the user is seated with the lap pad (10) resting on his lap, and faces the console system (16) and video display (18). The user may hold the left hand controller (14) freely with the left hand, or hold the left hand controller (14) under the hand within the cradle of the lap pad (10). The user holds the right hand controller (14) under the right hand to rest upon the lap pad (10). The user drags the right hand controller (14) over the lap pad (10) in the intended direction. In one embodiment, the user drags the right hand controller (14) over the lap pad (10) in the direction of any of two axes (i.e., horizontal or vertical). The motion detecting means of the right hand controller (14) detects such motion relative to the underlying lap pad (10). Electronic circuitry translates the detected motions into the formatted protocol of the bi-directional data stream. The console system (16) translates the electrical signals to manipulate images output to the video display (18).

The present invention is advantageous over designs of the prior art. Importantly, there is provided a video game controller device which allows a user to play more accurately and rapidly, while minimizing fatigue and injuries. The controller device includes a left hand controller comprising standard left hand video game controls, and a right hand controller comprising motion detection means. The ability to move the right hand controller freely in any direction upon the lap pad in the manner of a computer mouse confers greater control over the video game elements, allows the user to play more intuitively and spontaneously, and enhances video game interactivity. Reduction in reaction time adds excitement to the video game. The left hand controller can be held separately or rest within a cradle of the lap pad, thereby minimizing user fatigue. Further, the controller device is constructed of durable materials which can withstand prolonged use and wear.

As will be apparent to those skilled in the art, various modifications, adaptations and variations of the foregoing specific disclosure can be made without departing from the scope of the invention claimed herein. The various features and elements of the described invention may be combined in a manner different from the combinations described or claimed herein, without departing from the scope of the invention.

Claims

1. A video game controller device comprising a left hand controller comprising standard left hand video game controls, and a right hand controller comprising motion detection means to translate game user input into video game movement, wherein both left hand and right hand controllers are operatively connected to a video game console.

2. The device of claim 1, further comprising a lap pad having a planar surface for supporting the left and right hand controllers.

3. The device of claim 2, wherein the lap pad defines a longitudinal, curved seat or cradle shaped to rest the left hand controller.

4. The device of claim 3, wherein the motion detection means are selected from an optical infrared sensor; a roller ball and shaft encoders; inertial components; and a light-emitting diode and photodiodes.

5. The device of claim 4, wherein the right hand controller further comprises standard right hand video game controls.

6. The device of claim 4, wherein the left hand controller includes a speed module.

7. The device of claim 4, wherein one or both of the left hand controller and right hand controller have sensitivity modules.

8. The device of claim 4, wherein the left and right hand controllers are electrically connected to the controller by cable or wireless connection.

9. The device of claim 4, further comprising synchronous programmable electronic chips.

Patent History

Publication number: 20080188306
Type: Application
Filed: Dec 17, 2007
Publication Date: Aug 7, 2008
Applicant: SPLITFISH GAMEWARE INC. (Edmonton)
Inventors: Kenneth TETTERINGTON (Edmonton), Nan LIU (Edmonton)
Application Number: 11/957,944

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Hand Manipulated (e.g., Keyboard, Mouse, Touch Panel, Etc.) (463/37)
International Classification: A63F 9/24 (20060101);