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This application claims priority to provisional Application No. 60/469,601, filed on May 7, 2003.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a game ball that contains the number of times a player(s) hits the ball.
2. Prior Art
There have been marketed game balls that can be kicked between players. Balls such as HACKY SACK (registered trademark of Wham-O Corp.) are constructed from a soft cover material that is filled with an impact absorbing material such as cloth wadding. One object of the game is to see how many times the ball can be successively kicked between players. The players must count each time the ball is kicked, requiring dual concentration to both kick and count.
There have been marketed balls that contain internal electronic circuits and devices that can detect and display the speed of the ball. For example, Tron Link Co. markets a baseball under the name LASER BALL that has an LCD which displays the speed of the ball. This product does not count the number of times the ball is thrown or makes impact with another object such as a player. It would be desirable to provide a soft ball that can automatically count and indicate the number of times the ball makes contact with another object such as a player of the game.
A game ball that has an impact detector located within a housing. The ball also has a circuit that counts the detected impacts and drives an output device to provide an indication of a number of housing impacts.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a game ball;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the game ball being kicked by a player;
FIG. 3 is a schematic of a circuit and output devices of the game ball;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the game ball;
FIG. 5 is an illustration of an impact detector;
FIG. 6 is an illustration of an alternate embodiment of the impact detector;
FIG. 7 is a perspective view showing the game ball being hit with a plurality of paddles.
Disclosed is a game ball that can count and indicate the number of times the ball has been hit by a player(s). The game ball includes an impact detector located within a ball housing. The impact detector can detect each time the ball housing is hit. The impact detector is coupled to a circuit that can count each impact detection. The circuit drives an output device to indicate, visually and/or audibly, a number of detected impacts. This allows a player(s) to determine the number of times the ball is successively hit without having to manually count during play of the game.
Referring to the drawings more particularly by reference numbers, FIG. 1 shows an embodiment of a game ball 10. The game ball 10 includes an outer housing 12 that is preferably constructed from a soft material such as leather or vinyl. Within the housing 12 is an impact absorbing material 14 such as cloth wadding or plastic beads, etc. The ball 10 may have one or more light emitting diodes (“LEDs”) 16 attached to the housing 14.
As shown in FIG. 2 the ball 10 is typically small enough to be kicked by a player. The game ball 10 can be used in a game where the ball 10 is kicked between multiple players. In general, the ball 10 is constructed to be deformable. For example, the ball 10 is much like a sack that can be balanced on a player's leg.
As shown in FIG. 3 the game ball 10 may include an impact detector 18 that is coupled to a circuit 20. The impact detector 18 may detect the number of times the ball housing 12 is impacted by an external object such as the foot or leg of a player. The circuit 20 may contain a counter that counts the number of times the detector 18 detects impact. By way of example, the circuit 20 may include a controller 22 that is mounted to a printed circuit board 24.
The controller 22 may operate in accordance with data and operating instructions stored on-board, or in a separate memory device (not shown). The controller 22 may drive a speaker 26 that is attached to the housing 12. The controller 22 and speaker 26 may generate an audible sound each time the impact detector 18 detects impact of the ball 10. Additionally, the controller 22 may operate a program to count the number of impacts and then generate an audible output that indicates the number of times the ball is impacted. By way of example, the speaker 26 may emit a voice sound such as “8” or “12”. Alternatively, the speaker 26 may emit 8 or 12 beeping sounds.
The controller 22 may also be connected to a light indicator 28 such as the LEDs 16 shown in FIG. 1, or a display 30 as shown in FIG. 4. The controller 22 and light indicator 28 can provide a visual indication of when the detector 18 detects impact. The indicator 28 may also provide an indication of how many times the ball has been impacted. The LEDs 16 may sequentially illuminate (“blink”) a number of times the ball was impacted. The display 30 may provide an alphanumeric indication of the impact count.
The controller 22 may operate in accordance with a program that stops counting when the detector 18 has not detected impact for a predetermined amount of time, indicative of the game ball having been dropped to the ground. The controller 22 may then subtract 1 (to not include the impact of the ground) and then drive the speaker 26 and/or light indicator 28 to indicate a number of detected impacts, typically the number of detected impacts minus one.
As shown in FIG. 4, the ball 10′ may have one or more buttons 32 that can be depressed to change modes or sequence through a menu(s) of the circuit 20. For example, the user can change the audible indication to be either beeps or voice by depressing one of the buttons 32. The user may be able to repeat the count or access a previous high count through depression of the buttons 32. Although depress buttons are shown, it is to be understood that other input devices such as a slide switch may be employed.
Referring to FIG. 3, the ball may include an ON/OFF switch 34 that is connected to the circuit 20 and a power source 36 such as a battery. The switch 34 is typically located on the outer housing 12 of the ball 10. The battery 36 may be accessible through an outer plate (not shown). The controller 22 may be programmed to enter a sleep mode if the ball 10 is not being used while the switch 34 is in an ON position. The ball 10 may emit a unique sound and/or visual indicator when a game was over.
As shown in FIG. 5, the impact detector 18 may include an electrically conductive spring 40 located adjacent to an electrically conductive rod 42. The spring 40 and rod 42 are coupled to the controller 22 (not shown). Impact on the soft housing 12 induces contact between the spring 40 and 42, closing a circuit that can be sensed by the controller 22.
FIG. 6 shows an alternate embodiment of an impact detector 18′ that includes an electrically conductive spring 46 located within an electrically conductive sleeve 48. Housing impact induces contact between the spring 46 and sleeve 48 that is sensed by the controller 22.
The ball 10 may have multiple impact detectors located throughout the housing 12. The circuit 20 may have means for not double counting impact sensed by multiple detectors. By way of example, the circuit 20 may ignore detection by all other detectors within a predetermined time interval after detection by one of the detectors. Although contact impact detectors are shown and described, it is to be understood that other types of detectors such as accelerometers may be employed.
As shown in FIG. 7, the game ball 10 may be hit with paddles 50 held by the players of the game.
While certain exemplary embodiments have been described and shown in the accompanying drawings, it is to be understood that such embodiments are merely illustrative of and not restrictive on the broad invention, and that this invention not be limited to the specific constructions and arrangements shown and described, since various other modifications may occur to those ordinarily skilled in the art.