Reporting from the front lines of gaming innovation.

Gadgets for Gaming

For years, Bryan Kelly has run what Scientific Games calls the “Innovation Lab.” It’s where Kelly, senior VP of technology, brings wacky ideas from the wider world of consumer technology to the attention of game people who might find some new thing that would be really cool in a slot machine.

Kelly travels the world going to conferences to get these ideas, and one of the biggest certainly is the one that happened last month in Las Vegas, the famous Consumer Electronics Show, put on by the Consumer Technology Association. Held the second week of January, the CES typically reveals stuff that ends up in slot machines, or at any rate, in casino-hotel resorts in one way or another.

As your reliable reporter on the “Casino Beat,” the chief called me over to the City Desk and told me to get over to the convention center to see if I could find any “scoops” at the CES on what’s coming “next” in “casinos.” (And in “quotation marks.”) I scoured the show floor to find some stuff that Kelly and his Innovation Lab may have missed.

As you may guess, virtual reality stuff was everywhere at the Consumer Electronics Show. Black Box VR displayed a “virtual gym.” You basically become a superhero, wearing a superhero-like virtual reality headset, and exercise by overturning cars to save various non-superheroes in distress.

OK, this isn’t going into a slot machine. There’s nothing to bet on. You have to think. You have to exercise. You have to do everything I don’t want to do when I’m playing a slot machine. I suppose it could end up on the hospitality side of our industry, over in the spa. But for my gaming entertainment purposes, it needs some work. Maybe a bonus spin every time your heart fibrillates or something. Or a bonus ladder that rises with every wheeze.

The only way I could possibly do this is if the virtual gym offered “virtual exercise.” I generally don’t like any athletics that cannot be accompanied by beer-drinking, which pretty much leaves me bowling, and maybe rugby.

Staying on the hospitality side, there was a robot “porter” by LG that will get your luggage, check you into the hotel, accept payment, and spread gossip about other guests on your floor. There’s another robot from Industrial Technology that actually has hand-eye coordination. It can pour you a drink. (Presumably, it can also pour a drink on you, if you get it mad.) It can play the violin while dancing the Charleston and singing Don Ho’s “Tiny Bubbles.”

OK, I made the last bit up, but it does say on the website that the robot in question can actually sit down and play Scrabble with you. Seriously. I can’t count the times I’ve gotten up to my room after a marathon session at the craps tables or video poker machines, and all I’ve wanted was a nice game of Scrabble to top off the night. Having a robot pour my drink is just gravy.

Back on the gaming floor, the casinos could keep players relaxed, thereby keeping them at the tables or slots, with “patented relaxation technology” by Nucalm. According to its description at CES, it combines a topical cream, “microcurrent stimulation via the

Nucalm Visor,” and the “Nucalm neuroacoustic software.”

There must be some way to work all that stuff into an immersive slot chair, although the topical cream could get messy, and “microcurrent stimulation” sounds like they’re going to stick electrodes into my brain. But hey, if it improves my gaming entertainment, have at it.

Moving on from the consumer show, Western States Drilling & Blasting blew a hole in the desert last month for the foundation of the $1.8 billion stadium that the Las Vegas Raiders will open in 2020.

The Raiders coming to town, of course, is another sign of the evolution of public opinion on gaming, and its capital, as part of mainstream America.

The gaming capital already has a hockey team, and that’s great. I’m from Pittsburgh and thus a Penguins hockey fan, but my second team is definitely the Vegas Golden Knights. Unless they’re playing the Pens, I can say “Go Knights Go!” with a modicum of enthusiasm.

However, also because I’m from Pittsburgh, I’m going to have to draw the line on being a Raiders fan. I’m old enough to have been a Steelers fan in the ’70s, so I still have this thing about the Raiders… Do you think it’s time to bury that hatchet, and say “Go Raiders?”

Maybe… No! Never! Go Steelers!

And no, Franco did not trap the ball in the Immaculate Reception.

Frank Legato

Author: Frank Legato

Frank Legato is editor of Casino Connection and also editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the recently published book on gaming, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying.