U.S. Patent No. 10,569,171: TV-to-game sync

Issued February 25, 2020, to Disney Enterprises Inc.
Priority Date: July 2, 2012

U.S. Patent No. 10,569,171 (the ’171 Patent) relates to unlocking premium in-game content for a video game through associated media content, such as a television show. The ’171 Patent details a method of a video game application being played concurrently with media content that, in some embodiments, uses the microphone of a gaming device to detect the media content and unlock associated gameplay keyed to that media content. In another embodiment, the media content may be watermarked in a way that is imperceptible to the human eye, but can be decoded by the video game application and used to unlock associated in-game content. Unlockable content may have a specified period in which it can be unlocked, such as a 48-hour window from the first airing of an episode of television. 

Techniques are disclosed for unlocking in-game content for a video game application. In one embodiment, the video game application may be operated by a user that is concurrently viewing media content. The video game application captures an audio signal from the concurrently-playing media content, performs content recognition on the captured audio signal, and determines whether to unlock one or more portions of in-game content based on the identified media content.

Illustrative Claim:
1. A computer-implemented method for a game environment to ascertain and reward concurrent viewership of preapproved media content external to the game environment, the computer-implemented method comprising: executing a computer game providing a game environment having locked content with a predefined association with one or more keys, the computer game being executed by a computing device of a user of the game environment; detecting, via a sensor of the computing device and from a media device other than the computing device, audio data of media content having audiovisual data and external to the game environment; generating a key based on the detected audio data and by operation of one or more computer processors of the computing device; ascertaining, based on the media content, that the user of the game environment is concurrently viewing the preapproved media content via the media device, including determining that the generated key matches at least one of the one or more keys with the predefined association with the locked content; in response to the ascertaining, rewarding the concurrent viewing of the preapproved media content by unlocking the locked content that augments gameplay within the game environment, whereafter the unlocked content is accessible by the user; generating an output based on the unlocked content; and conveying the output to the user via the computing device.

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