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Location-Based Themes for Children's Virtual Worlds Disclosure Number: IPCOM000179142D
Original Publication Date: 2009-Feb-06
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2009-Feb-06
Document File: 2 page(s) / 28K

Publishing Venue



Disclosed is a system that can change the theme of a virtual world based on a child's location, if the child is using the virtual world on a mobile device. The mobile device sends a GPS location to a database to check for the existence of any virtual world themes related to the child's location (e.g., library, gas station, fire house, police station, farm, amusement park, etc.), and the server then returns a URL that passes in a parameter to present a relevant themed world to the child's portable client.

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Location-Based Themes for Children's Virtual Worlds

Imagine a child in a waiting room at a hospital because the child's sibling is having a tonsillectomy. The child has a next-generation Gameboy* that has functionality similar
to an Android device or an iPhone**. The child goes to Webkinz*** and the Webkinz client says after login that the child can go to the Webkinz hospital if they would like. They click "Yes" and the background changes to a hospital. The child meets many other friendly hospital personnel. The child can play games that relate to a hospital as well. The avatars can have a doctor's clothing or nurse's clothing. If the child gets a virtual job then some new occupations can be available in the Webkinz world with healthcare jobs.

This system would work as follows:

1) When the user logs into the web-based virtual world, the client displaying the world checks to see if there is a location that describes the local area. This location is ideally as accurate as a GPS point, although it can be as general as a zipcode obtained from an IP address lookup.

2) On the server-side the system calculates to see if there is a theme based on that specific location point. For a GPS-point this can be as specific as a business or other location (e.g., IBM site, firehouse, hospital, library, etc.). Each point is weighted based on the distance to the point and a weight rank is created. Therefore if someone is in a hospital then that weight will be higher than a more general weight (e.g., Denver or Colorado).

3) The user is asked if they want to play with a special theme applied.

4) If the user says "Yes" then the server provides a list of choices to allow the user to select the option that they want. The more highly-weighted themes appear near the top of the list (e.g., if the user is close to a hospital and a library it puts the hospital more towards the top if the child was closer to that). When the user makes a choice the server records a session variable that describes the theme that will be active for the session.

5) When the server sends the pages down to the client a theme is applied. This theme can cover:
a) The look and feel of the interface (e.g., familiar characters are dressed as doctors or nurses and locations include hospital hallways and operating rooms, etc.).
b) Games in the virtual world can be chang...