Title:
Virtual reality complete interactive system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention is a device which allows for a full range of motions from a users upper and lower body for the purpose of enhancing a virtual simulation. The purpose of this device is to allow users to run both foreword, backwards, and side-to-side, and to allow the user to jump, crouch, prone, twist and turn while remaining centered over a control pad. The devices supports the user via the user's back allowing the user to perform any of the mentioned movements without having to hold onto any means of support with their hands. Any of the user's movements can be superimposed into a virtual scenario such as a video game, tactical simulator, physical fitness training software, etc. The invention includes a vest that attaches to the base on the user's back. This vest is highly adjustable allowing for a snug fit on the user for stability. The base itself consists of a floor piece that not only interprets the users footsteps but also can be manipulated by software to simulate a wide variety of terrains. The second part of the base is the swing arm that translates the users orientation while keeping the user centered over the floor piece.



Inventors:
Stabile, Michael John (Morristown, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/463944
Publication Date:
12/23/2004
Filing Date:
06/19/2003
Assignee:
STABILE MICHAEL JOHN
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
434/247
International Classes:
A63B21/00; G06F3/01; (IPC1-7): A63B15/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
RICHMAN, GLENN E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MICHAEL STABILE (1 TALL TIMBER DRIVE, MORRISTOWN, NJ, 07960, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A device that supports a person by their back via a vest or harness that allows said person to perform a full range of motion with their upper and lower body while translating said persons movements into a computer system with computer generated visual images of an environment presented on a display, said system comprising: a. A base on which a person stands that allows said person the use of their legs by using a low-friction system. Other methods of allowing a person these motions can be a positive and negative airflow system (much like air hockey)(FIG. 1), treadmill belts, or free-floating balls (FIG. 2). b. A stabilizing arm that connects the base to the users back giving said user full freedom of use of their upper and lower body movements c. The means of recording and translating the users upper and lower body motions to sensors that can be interpreted by a computer. d. Means for allowing the base to adjust itself to simulate a multitude of terrains e. Means for a braking system on the base area allowing for safe entering and exiting of the device f. Means for connecting a specially designed vest or harness to the base swing arm assembly. The vest can either be fixed to the swing arm or detachable. g. Means for connecting said invention to a computer using hard-wired or wireless h. Means for allowing a display device to work directly with this invention i. Means for the support arm to hold the user securely and safely centered over the base plate while allowing a full range of motions from said users upper and lower body. j. Means for a force-feedback system within the arm and base to allow for more realistic movements and counter movements.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] U.S. Pat. No. 5,577,981 entitled Virtual reality exercise machine and computer controlled video system: This invention relates to computer controlled exercise machines and provides the user with a wide variety of interactive exercise options controlled by software. A virtual reality hybrid of virtual and real environments is provided which permits the user to perform significant physical exertion by applying forces to the machine while viewing images on a head mounted display. The invention permits the user to view his own hands and body superimposed over a computer generated image of objects that are not actually present while maintaining parts of the exercise machine that the user physically contacts, such as a handle, superimposed over the computer generated image. As the user exerts forces against the machine (such as the handle) he perceives that he is exerting forces against the objects the images represent. The invention includes a video camera and computer adapted to record images from the real world which may be combined with computer generated images while retaining the proper spatial orientation to produce a composite virtual reality environment. Virtual reality exercise regimens adapted to the user's individual capabilities, virtual reality exercise games, virtual reality competitive sports, and virtual reality team sports are disclosed.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Simulator and video game technological advances have led to more and more realistic looking virtual reality environments but the interface between the user and the game/simulator has remained the same. Previous ways of using this software include game pads, joysticks, virtual reality gloves, keyboards, and mice—all of these confine a user to a static posture thus limiting an individual to minimal exercise and movement.

[0003] Most fitness equipment used today allows people to walk and run in place. This equipment is minimizes the user's ability to use his upper extremities. Often this restricts the user from the use of his hands. Exercise equipment such as treadmills, elliptical runners, and stair climbers also prevent freedom of movement by the user—the specific path of motion allowed by the machine.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] This invention gives the user the means of controlling situations within virtual reality with their entire body. They are no longer confined to supporting themselves with their hands, and no longer restricted to a path of motion. This invention allows a user to step their feet in any direction and have independent use of their hands.

[0005] This invention allows a user to interactively participate in the virtual reality environment It is attached to the back of a special vest leaving the user's hands free to perform a multitude of tasks relevant to the software used. This invention allows a user to act out any motion such as running, walking, jumping, crouching, bending over, lying in a proned position, or twisting and turning and translates those motions into the virtual environments such as a video game or simulator for thereby enhancing the entertainment value of the game and for simulating a realistic experience. This invention can be used in conjunction with a computer, console game, or tied into a network. It's potential applications include an independent military combat and tactical training simulator, exercise equipment, and to enhance the realism and entertainment of video games.

[0006] When interacting with software simulations and video games, users have been confined to hand-held controllers, keyboards, mice, or other restrictive simulation equipment, but this invention allows a user to actively participate in the game or simulation by supporting the user and giving full freedom of movement. The user's movements are then translated in real time by a computer into the program's specific virtual reality.

[0007] For the purpose of military simulation, this device allows soldiers to perform realistic maneuvers for the purpose of offensive and defensive training. It allows an individual soldier to work independently or in conjunction with other soldiers for team tactical training. A soldier's actions, movements, strategies and skill can be monitored, recorded, and then evaluated in real time by training officers. Soldiers using this invention can be linked together via the Internet, a LAN (local area network) or WAN (wide area network) to train as a unit. Linking systems will allow soldiers to train with and against other soldiers under varying conditions enhancing the realism of the simulation.

[0008] Another commercial aspect of this invention would allow a more interactive interface between a user and software such as a video game. Video games are becoming increasingly more realistic while the interfaces that exist to play these games are restricted to hand-held controllers that offer the user very little in the way of physical activity. This invention allows a user to perform a multitude of motions increasing the realism and entertainment value, and giving the user a chance to exercise in an enjoyable and exciting “environment” of his choice.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0009] FIG. 1: Enlarged cross-section of FIG. 14. Shows positive and negative air pressure can be used to simulate terrains of varying surface characteristics to enhance the reality of the application.

[0010] FIG. 2: Enlarged cross-section of FIG. 14. Shows how a free-floating ball system can be used to simulate terrains of varying surface characteristics to enhance the reality of the application.

[0011] FIG. 3: Exploded perspective view of this invention without the vest attachment.

[0012] FIG. 4: Ball and socket joint: This assembly gives the user more freedom of motion; particularly fine motions such as slight twists, leans, and bends. It also helps to keep the user centered within the base plate. This area also contains sensors that can record and interpret the users motions and translate those motions to a computer

[0013] FIG. 5: Adjustment holes: These adjustment holes allow a user the freedom to change the length of the arm assembly to allow for the comfort and functionality of people of different sizes.

[0014] FIG. 6: Vertical pivot arm assembly: This piece connects with the horizontal pivot assembly. It allows a user to raise and lower him with very little resistance. This piece helps keep the user centered within the base plate. This piece contains sensors that can record and interpret the users vertical movements and translate those movements to a computer.

[0015] FIG. 7: Horizontal pivot assembly: This piece connects to the adjustable arm stand. This piece allows a user to move from side to side while keeping the user centered over the base plate. This piece contains sensors that can record and interpret the users lateral movements and translate those movements into the computer.

[0016] FIG. 8: Adjustment pin (1): This pin may be used to lock the horizontal pivot assembly once adjusted for length

[0017] FIG. 9: Adjustable arm stand: This piece adjusts vertically to accommodate users of different heights. The range of movement this piece allows can accommodate a range of users from small children to large adults.

[0018] FIG. 10: Adjustment holes: These adjustment holes allow a user the freedom to change the height of the arm assembly to allow for the comfort and functionality of people of different sizes.

[0019] FIG. 11: Adjustment pin (2): This pin may be used to lock the horizontal pivot assembly once adjusted for length

[0020] FIG. 12: Foundation: The arm assembly attaches to the base via this piece. It ensures the arm is stable. This area is the hub for all the information gathered by the sensors of the device.

[0021] FIG. 13: Base Assembly: This piece is the bottom of the invention. It sits firmly on the ground ensuring stability for the piece. This piece contains sensors for recording the footsteps of the user. The floor piece can react with the software and adjust itself to incline, decline, roll left roll right, and adjust itself to simulate a multitude of terrains. This piece contains a brake system for the low-friction-walking surface to prevent the user from slipping when entering and exiting the device.

[0022] FIG. 16, FIG. 17, and FIG. 18: Shows how the vest connects to the base and arm. The vest secures the user to the base at the users back because it gives the user the use of his hands and does not interfere with the users natural motions.

[0023] FIG. 19: Front perspective of the assembled system.

[0024] FIG. 20: Rear perspective of the assembled system

[0025] FIG. 21-24 show the range of motions allowed by the invention and how the arm assembly reacts to different movements. FIG. 21 shows how the arm can twist and bend to accommodate the user should he twist or lean to one side. FIG. 22 shows how the arm reacts to the user jumping in the air. FIG. 23 shows how the arm can react to the user bending down. FIG. 24 shows how a user is even able to lie on their stomach in a proned position.

[0026] FIG. 25: Front perspective showing the relationship between the user and this invention. FIG. 26 is a rear perspective showing said relationship. The users depicted in FIG. 25 and FIG. 26 would be using a television, computer monitor, projected image, or holographic image for visual stimulation.

[0027] FIG. 27: Front perspective of a user and this invention using a virtual reality headset for visual stimulation and having two independent hand controllers for interacting with the software. Virtual reality gloves may also be worn.

[0028] FIG. 28: Front perspective of a military or police personnel training with this invention. Said user would be attached to this invention via their Kevlar vest or utility vest and able to use a weapon firing blanks equipped with sensors to register shots fired. Said user may also use existing thermal or night vision goggles for visual stimulation.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0029] This invention is a way of interpreting human motion into a virtual environment for the purpose of enhancing entertainment, to encourage and enhance physical fitness regiments, to act as an independent military simulations, sports training, to study human motion, to serve as physical therapy for the injured or disabled, or to allow a user to actively participate in any other virtual or digital environment. The key advantage to this invention over any other is it allows a person to perform full range of human motions while keeping the users hands free to operate another type of interface such as a joystick, game controller, virtual weaponry, motion controlled devices, virtual reality gloves, etc.

[0030] This invention can work as a stand-alone or in conjunction with other machines via a LAN or over the Internet. This can further enhance the reality of the device for such purposes as playing video games or training a team of soldiers because users can interacting with real people and are not limited to performing only against computer generated artificial intelligence. This invention is an interface to a computer, so a users motions can be translated to any multitude of purposes such as controlling a virtual character, piloting a ship or swinging a virtual bat in a virtual baseball game against the virtual Yankees (and even running the virtual bases).

[0031] This invention works by translating the natural motions of a human to a digital world. A person steps onto the base plate and attaches themselves to the swing arm. Said user then attaches a vest outfitted with a special connector plate located on the backside of the vest (see FIG. 16-18). This connector plate attaches firmly and securely to the end of the lower back attachment piece. The arm assembly can be adjusted to accommodate a range of users from a small child to a large adult by adjusting the vertical height of the arm assembly, and the lateral distance of the upper arm assembly.

[0032] Interactive “virtual reality” exercise machines of the present invention provide a visual image of an illusory environment with which the user interacts by walking and running on the base plate. The user can would run or walk in place in actual reality and see in virtual reality either a character performing the exact motions as the user, or the user would view the world through the eyes of the gaming character performing the exact motions of the user. This allows for complete interactive control over the virtual environment. Used in conjunction with a form of hand controllers, the user can perform an unlimited range of realistic motions that can be translated into virtual reality thus allowing this invention to be used with most video games that are on the market today. The software required to translate the users motions to the computer would be very similar to existing game controller software drivers and mouse drivers.

[0033] As an example, to envision the range this invention entails imagine you are playing a video game that requires you to walk fifty feet across a construction yard. You are seeing the virtual world through the eyes of the gaming character. You are wearing virtual reality goggles and headphones in conjunction with this invention. You begin by standing in place and turning you head to look around at you environment. When you physically turn you head, your gaming character turns his head exactly as you did, and because you are looking through this characters eye, you see a virtual construction yard. You begin to walk foreword. Although you remain centered over the base plate of this invention, your gaming character begins to move foreword through the virtual construction yard. Every step you take is interpreted as a step taken by the gaming character. You see an open manhole and have to jump over it. You pick up your pace a little then jump. While in reality you are still centered over the base plate your gaming character has run and jumped over the virtual pothole. You continue walking and the virtual ground looks uneven ahead. As you begin to walk on the uneven virtual ground, the actual base plate registers from the computer the uneven ground, and distorts itself to simulate uneven ground. A few steps later you come to a virtual incline. The base plate then adjusts itself to go on an incline to give the realism of the environment. You take a few more steps and you hear a noise in your right earphone. You turn you head and twist you body to the right in reality, and your gaming character turns himself to the right. You see a virtual I beam slip from some workers and as it swings towards you so you quickly duck in reality—your digital counter part does the same and your character safely avoids the swinging I beam.

[0034] The users perception of virtual reality would be greatly enhanced with this invention. This invention keeps you positioned in one place and allows the user a full range of motion while returning the user back to his centered position. Because the user is seeing a virtual world, his perception of that world takes on a new level of reality.