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by: Gene Koprowski.
A Silicon Valley start-up has reached a deal with International Game Technology Inc., the world\'s largest maker of slot machines, and is planning to incorporate technology...

"Fighter Pilot Graphics" Forecast for Next Generation of Slot Machines

A Silicon Valley start-up has reached a deal with International Game Technology Inc., the world's largest maker of slot machines, and is planning to incorporate technology that it has developed for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force in the next generation of video games. The company is called PureDepth, Inc., and industry experts who follow the firm believe that a "realistic digital video display" is the final technology, in a handful of technologies, that will completely digitize one-armed bandits, or slot machines. The new displays by PureDepth — set to debut this year — may dramatically change the $85 billion U.S. gambling industry, and even change how it's regulated by the government, experts said.

Programmers will be able to control nearly every aspect of the game — cost, payout, even the images that line up on the payline, and savvy casino operators will be able to make changes in real time through back-end servers that talk to computer chips inside the slots.

According to financial analyst Aimee Marcel Remey, who tracks the gaming industry for Jefferies & Co. "these new systems are so different from the slots out there now? You feel like it's an exact science, every time you pull."

Remey said that if a band, like Duran Duran, are playing the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas, next-generation slots could display images of band members instead of cherries, numbers or other symbols. If band members' faces line up, an embedded printer could spit out front-row tickets for the winner, she said.
Or, take for instance, the penny slots area at a tribal casino, which generally empty out around 7 p.m., when the big spenders arrive. With a few keystrokes, programmers can change the minimum bet to $1 and offer a progressive jackpot with all slots in the house.
"If the NASCAR folks are coming to Vegas, they could change the fruits to cars," said Fred Angelopoulos, CEO of Redwood Shores, Calif.-based PureDepth.

Digital Displays

Without these digital displays and servers, employees have to manually close out meters, change glass, change reel strips, and physically relocate the machines.
Innovation may be slowed by regulatory authorities.
For example, The Nevada Gaming Control Board, which sets the pace for regulators in America, adopted new rules last year for these forthcoming digital machines. The board has the authority to approve all software modifications, and the approval process generally takes up to 30 days.

The board employs 11 experts in computer science, electronic security and wireless networking. It will double the number of these specialists by late 2007 and build a new research facility to deal with an expected profusion of digital slot machines, said Mark Clayton, who heads the board's technology division.
Roughly half the 835,000 slot machines in the U.S. have video displays and many are networked, but industry officials acknowledge that most are flops, lacking the visceral "clunk-clunk-clunk" of wheels hitting the payline.

With the price of liquid crystal displays dropping, engineers at PureDepth's lab decided to locate two or more LCDs in one physical unit to create depth, a deceptively simple idea protected with 45 patents and roughly 70 patents pending.
Reno, Nevada-based IGT is hoping to debut the first machines with PureDepth's multi-layer video display in November at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.

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