Celebrity Invention: Gallagher's Animated Slot Machine

By Rebecca Greenfield

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Some celebrities aren't just pretty faces. A few of them are also touched with that Yankee prowess for tinkering and invention. In this weekly series, we introduce you to the Patents of the Rich and Famous. And maybe you learn a little bit about how patent literature works along the way.

Inventor: Leo Gallagher a.k.a. Gallagher

Known For: He calls himself a comedian, but he's not exactly known for his stand-up. He's better known for his mallet-wielding abilities. He smashes food. And, people sure are captivated by it.

As seen in this clip, he not only smashes a mean watermelon, but he wrecks all sorts of fruity (and not-so-fruity) objects.

When he's not smashing melons, he must be gambling and/or playing video games. At least that's what his pending patent application would suggest.

Invented Apparatus: "Electronic slot machine"

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It's a lot like a regular slot machine: One puts in money, pulls a lever and hopes more money will come out. Repeat. But it's a tad less depressing:

The slot machine provides some of the traditional elements of a slot machine but with improved entertainment replacing the spinning reels. Scenes may depict objects that are moving toward a line, which is reminiscent of the line in the traditional slot machine, but in this case represents something physical with which the objects interact. For example, the objects could be birds that are falling/flying down onto a wire. In another example, the objects are freely falling onto the ground or floor. The scenes depict several possible outcomes of the interaction between the objects. Based up on the resulting outcomes (e.g. matching outcomes, like a traditional slot machine) the player wins or loses.

Gallagher's invention is even better than a traditional slot machine, because captivating animations let you down more gently from your losses than still pictures of cherries and bandits. As possible animations, Gallagher suggests dancing birds and -- surprise! -- a watermelon getting demolished.

Rationale Behind Invention: Gallagher finds it completely unacceptable that slot machine technology does not cater to the video game-playing generation:

This may be acceptable for players who are only looking for a nostalgic slot machine experience; however, there are generations of potential slot machine players who grew up playing video games with much more complicated computer generated graphics. For these potential slot machine players, simply replicating the limitations of the old mechanical slot machines is unacceptable and uninteresting.

Kids today demand better graphics on slot machines, please.

Off-label Uses: Some might become so captivated by the animations that they give up on the gambling aspect of the apparatus and just stare, ogling at the dancing birds. Forever.

Future Directions: Rather than simply animate the graphics, why not convert the entire slot machine into a video game. Then the losers are at least getting some semblance of value.

Peruse more Celebrity Inventions:

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/04/celebrity-invention-gallaghers-animated-slot-machine/73332/