The invention described herein provides game systems or devices that typically include a projector for projecting a plurality of images or colors at different positions in space, a source of music, and a controller configured to coordinate the presentation of the images or colors with the music.

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This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/032,892, filed on Feb. 29, 2008, titled “SCOOT: A PHYSICAL ACTIVITY-PROMOTING GAME SYSTEM.”


All publications and patent applications mentioned in this specification are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety to the same extent as if each individual publication or patent application was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference.


Childhood obesity is on the rise both within the United States and throughout the world. This condition poses a serious problem not only for the affected children, but for the burden on public health and the healthcare system at large. Obesity is associated with many co-morbidities, including vascular diseases such as hypertension and heart disease, chronic inflammation, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, as well as full blown type 2 diabetes.

In addition to extensive documentation of the association between childhood obesity and poor health outcomes, a number of studies document the positive effects that physical activity has in reducing the risk of poor health outcomes associated with obesity, including reductions in the development of diabetes and heart disease. Physical activity also helps control weight, promotes psychological well-being, and reduces the risk of premature death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that young people engage in at least 1 hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day to maintain good health.

While the positive effects of regular physical activity are well documented, motivation to maintain adequate levels of activity over the long term is often lacking. Many young people engage in sedentary behaviors (e.g., watching TV, surfing the Internet) and do not meet the CDC recommendations for physical activity. Research has found that physical activity rates decline with age among young people, with overall levels of physical activity typically beginning to decrease when children are of middle school age.

It is recognized that fun, engaging games or related products that require physical activity can be a way to increase physical activity among young people. To succeed in increasing physical activity, games need to appeal the target population and to fit easily within the existing social, educational, and cultural environment.

Accordingly, there is a need in the commercial and healthcare product markets for smart games and related products that address and counter the growing tendency toward sedentary behaviors and that are directed toward the specific goal of increasing the overall level of physical activity of those who play the game or use the product. To succeed in this goal, products need to be easy to use, and have a quick appeal that can also be sustained over the long term. It is further desirable that such products are safe, and require minimal adult supervision. Most of all, the games must be effective at their fundamental goal, which is to increase levels of physical activity.


FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the projector with the core portion in the down position.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the projector with the core portion in the popped-up position.

FIG. 3A shows the game projector in the middle of a room serving as the game playing area; beside the projector is a music player. The projector is in the off position.

FIG. 3B shows a player entering the number of players in the game by pressing the control button, and thereby starting a round of the game.

FIG. 3C shows the projector while playing music, a core portion rotating within the body of the projector with the projecting lamp on, making colored spots visible on the surface of the body.

FIG. 3D shows the projector at a point when it has stopped playing music, and the core portion has popped up from the body, and colored spots on the surface of the core are being projected outward.

FIG. 3E shows a view of the room within which the game is being played at a point after the core portion has popped up, as in FIG. 3D. Projected spots from the core can be seen on the wall of the room, and game players can be seen trying to claim a projected spot by tagging it.

FIG. 3F shows a player pushing the core back into the body of the projector in order to reset it for the next round of play.

FIG. 4A is another variation of the game described herein.

FIG. 4B is another variation of the game described herein.


The invention described herein provides game systems or devices that typically include a projector for projecting a plurality of images or colors at different positions in space, a source of music, and a controller configured to coordinate the presentation of the images or colors with the music. For example, the controller may be configured to control the source of music so that it plays music for some time period, after which the controller controls the projector so that the projector statically projects the images or colors at different positions in space after the music has stopped playing. The controller may also include one or more user inputs, and one or more user displays.

As an example of games and devices provided by the invention, one particular game which bears some resemblance to the traditional game of “musical chairs” and multiple variations thereof will be described in detail. Games provided by the invention, regardless of their particular format or rules, broadly promote physical activity in a socialized context appropriate for adolescents in the 11-14 year age group. The exemplary game system described in detail below may be referred to herein by the name “Scoot”, which may also refer to one or more of the games that are playable on the game system. For example, in some variations, the game system may allow users to play a game in which they vie for one of the one-too-few images or spots of color projected onto walls or other surfaces of the area in which the game is being played by being the first to tag or otherwise occupy the projected image or spot of color. Another variation may be a game where players reach for multiple spots using various parts of their body.

In one variation, the game system includes a module or projector 10 that is in communication with a music player 50 as seen in FIGS. 1, 2, and 3A-3F. The game may be played in room or space that can be designated as the play area. The play area is typically darkened or relatively dimly lit so that projected light spots on walls and surfaces may be easily seen. The music player 50 may be of any suitable type, a typical example is an MP3 player such as an iPod™. Embodiments of the game module or projector 10 may include a housing or body portion 20 within which is seated a rotatable pop-up core portion 25. FIG. 1 shows the projector 10 with the core 25 in a “down” position, nested within the body portion 20 of the projector. FIG. 2 shows the projector 10 with the core 25 in a popped-up position. The core is configured to be able to rotate, driven by a mechanism within the body portion 20, in both the “down” position and in the “popped-up” position.

The pop-up core 25 includes a translucent wall 30 and a projecting lamp 35 situated internally within the core portion (seen as a “phantom” in FIG. 2) that is configured to project light through the translucent wall. The wall 30 includes a surface pattern that includes colored spots or representational images 40. Projected images may depict anything, but typically are simple, familiar, and recognizable objects that appeal to the 11-14 year age group. When the projecting lamp is on, images 40 corresponding to the images on the translucent wall are projected or cast outwardly onto walls or surfaces, such as the surfaces of furniture or any object within the game's play area, as seen in FIGS. 3E. The core portion 25 also may include a control button 15 mounted on the top of the core which controls various functions of the core. The core may further include electronic components that enable it to communicate with the music player 50, one or more speakers, a mechanism that rotates the core, a mechanism that controls the up or down position of the core, and a programmable memory that controls the overall operation of the projector and core, and is responsive to input from the control button 15.

Turning now to aspects of the operation of the projector and how a game may be played using the system, a “Scoot” projector 10 may be placed in the center of a play area and operates in concert with an MP3 player 50 or any other suitable music player. The game, or more specifically, a “round” of a game, typically begins after one of the players or an operator inputs a number into the Scoot module 10 by tapping the control button 15, as shown in FIG. 3B. The game begins as the module 10 and the MP3 player are activated. The MP3 player plays music while the core portion 25 rotates within the body portion 20, and the projecting lamp 35 is lit. Both the core and the body are translucent; thus the body is lit from within, and rotating spots of color can be seen. This is the time during the game when players are dancing to the music and having a grand time. The savvy players may be trying at the same time to keep themselves strategically placed in the play area with respect to other players and proximity to a wall or other surface upon which projected spots of color might land in the next step of the game.

When a player initiates a round of the game, he or she presses the control button the number of times that corresponds to the number of players or through some alternative mechanism signaling the number of players in the game. For example, with five players, the player starting a round of the game presses the button five times. The program operating the projector is thus programmed to project four images or spots (one less than five) of a given particular color or type. Any color or image is an option in the game, as long as it is distinguishable from the other colors or images. As an example, in a given round of play, “green” may be the designated color, i.e., the color of the projected spot that players will be striving to tag or occupy. The color of each round may be selected by the program memory of the game, and is unknown to the game players. At an unpredictable point during the round of play, when music is playing and players are dancing, a speaker which may be included within the projector or may be freestanding but in communication with the project abruptly announces “Scoot Green!”, or some similar command (FIG. 3D). At this point, the core portion 25 pops up from within the body 20, and the colored spots on the wall 30 of the core become visible as projected spots on the walls or surfaces of the play area (FIG. 3E).

The command “Scoot Green” tells the players that “green” is the designated color to tag or occupy, and that they need to “scoot” over to it. At this point, players stop dancing and look around the play area to find a projected green spot, and then scramble toward it in attempt to be the first to tag or occupy the spot. As with traditional musical chairs, once a spot or image is tagged or occupied, other players are excluded from the image or spot. This period of game activity, of course, is one of the high points of the game, and much excitement and flurry occurs as players maneuver their way past other players and obstacles in order to get to the spot they have targeted. As with the traditional game of musical chairs, one player will be unable to be the first to tag or occupy a projected spot, and that player is thus “out” of the game. A game typically proceeds, round-by-round, until two players remain, and of those, one is eliminated and the remaining single player is the winner. Many variations may be associated with the “tagging” aspect of the game. For example, a rule may be instituted that the projected spot must be tagged with a player's elbow, or other body part. By way of another example, a rule may be implemented that a player needs to say some particular phrase before tagging the projected image. By adding rules to the game, the game may become more challenging physically and mentally, and more fun. All such variations are included within the scope of the invention.

The players who are eliminated in each round may take on other responsibilities in order for them to continue to be engaged. For example, the player eliminated from a round, may be assigned to start the next round, by pressing the control button. Other responsibilities may include such things as selecting the music to be played in the next round. Other responsibilities or opportunities to engage may easily be developed by players of the game as the social structure of the game develops over time.

Embodiments of the game easily include many variations of the basic “musical chair” style rules. For example, the game may be played in a “lightning mode” where even with more than two players in the round, only one targeted image or colored spot is projected. In this case, the game consists of a single round, with a single winner emerging from that round.

In another variation, the number of colored spots is always one less than the total number of players, and players are not eliminated. Instead, players get awarded a point if they do not touch a spot and then proceed to participate in the next round of play. In this version of the game, the goal would be to have the fewest points possible after a set number of rounds.

Embodiments of the game may promote physical activity of the players. Physical activity is an effective means of countering the development of childhood obesity. It is believed that habits and attitudes engendered by playing the game may encourage physical activity as a way of having fun and engendering a sense of well being.

Embodiments of the game are simple, thereby making it accessible and affordable. It has very simple equipment; a manual may be printed on single card. It is easily portable, and can be battery-operated so an electrical outlet is not necessary. Adult supervision is not necessary because of the game's basic safeness and simplicity. Without adult supervision, adolescents feel more free, less inhibited, and develop a greater sense of independence.

The game is also easily modified and can thus fit into a large variety of contexts. Modifications and variations come from the variety of music that can be selected to fit the preferences of the players, and from variations in the rules. The device may include built-in (or default) music in addition to being compatible with MP3 players or other sources of music.

FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate alternative variations of the games described above. In each of these variations, the game controller may be modified as appropriate, but typically includes the same light projection that throws images onto the surrounding area, and also has a sensing capability to recognize the position of a player relative to the images. Sensing of the position of the player(s) may be done passively (e.g., picking up a reflective surface such as a bracelet, sticker or patch worn by the player(s)), or actively (e.g., an IR light source on a bracelet, sticker, patch, etc. worn by the player(s)). Through the use of the projected images and position tracking, the system can follow the players' activities in the virtual, projected environment.

For example, in FIG. 4A, a variation in which the module or projector is shown which projects letters or phrases onto surrounding surfaces, allowing the players to send text messages, or to answer questions provided by the module/projector. The player(s) may move around the room (wherever the letters or phrases are projected), to spell messages or to spell or indicate the answers to questions. In some variations, the projector may be mounted on a ceiling or wall, and project onto the floor and/or walls.

For example, FIG. 4B shows another variation, in which the projector is mounted on the ceiling or other high surface, and objects (dots, squares, etc.) are projected onto the floor. The objects may create a virtual “maze” that one or more players must traverse without contacting; contact may be sensed by projector, and may be indicated by a deduction in score, or indicating sound/light. Other variations of the games are also contemplated, including games that combine aspects of those described above.

The games described herein are grounded in the common experience of traditional childhood games, but has a layer of technology which takes it a step forward from the childhood context, and it remains current, again to a major extent, because of the central role that music has in the game experience.

The game is particularly appropriate for adolescents who are in transition individually and at various stages in their social development. More formal dances, for example, can easily create anxieties and jealousies. The game allows for dancing to be much more play-like, and allow participation by individuals without anxiety, and allow them to be increasingly comfortable and used to dancing. The game is well suited for parties of any occasion, birthdays, or holidays, and for sleepover parties.

While the devices and methods for using them have been described in some detail here by way of illustration and example, such illustration and example is for purposes of clarity of understanding only. It will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in light of the teachings herein that certain changes and modifications may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.


1. An apparatus for playing a physically-active game comprising:

a game module including a core portion nested within a body portion; the core portion configured to be rotatable within the body, and configured to be able to extend from within the body, the core further configured to project images outward when extended, the module further including a speaker, a projecting lamp, and a controller to coordinate mechanical, audio, and projecting activity of the module; and
a music player operably connected to the game module.

2. An apparatus for playing a physically-active game comprising:

a projector configured to simultaneously project a plurality of different images at different locations within a target region;
a source of sound; and
a controller including a timer that automatically coordinates the operation of the source of sound and the projector so that the source of sound indicates activation of the projector after a delay period.

3. The apparatus of claim 2, further including sensor for sensing position of one or more players relative to the projected images.

4. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the source of sound is configure to play music.

5. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the controller is configured to play music during the delay period and stop playing that music before activation of the projector.

6. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the projector is configured to project images of different colors.

7. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the projector is configured to project images of different shapes.

8. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the delay period is random.

9. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the delay period is between about 10 seconds and about 5 minutes.

10. A method of playing a physically-active game with an apparatus, the method comprising:

entering a number of players into a game device;
playing music;
rotating a portion of a game device configured to project a first number of target images, wherein the first number of target images is one fewer than the number of players entered;
simultaneously stopping music play and stopping rotation of the game device; and
projecting target images.

11. The method of claim 10, further comprising projecting additional, non-target images and announcing a target, wherein the target images correspond to the target announced.

Patent History
Publication number: 20090221211
Type: Application
Filed: Mar 2, 2009
Publication Date: Sep 3, 2009
Inventors: Phong David Ngo (San Francisco, CA), Patricia L. Christen (Piedmont, CA), Frederick P. Dillon, IV (San Francisco, CA), Nicole Lee Guthrie (San Francisco, CA), Ellen Louise LaPointe (Oakland, CA), Lalita Kikuyo Suzuki (San Francisco, CA), Richard L. Tate, II (Oakland, CA), Mark A. Wallace (Redwood City, CA), Elizabeth Ji-Eun Song (Palo Alto, CA), Daniel E. Cawley (San Fracisco, CA), Christine B. Brumback (San Francisco, CA), Sven D. Newman (Burlingame, CA), Rajiv Kantilal Patel (Menlo Park, CA)
Application Number: 12/396,194
Current U.S. Class: Including Electric Light Or Electric Sounder (446/242); Physical Education (434/247); Sounding (446/265)
International Classification: A63H 33/22 (20060101);