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This application claims the benefit of Provisional Patent Applications Ser. No. 60/621,206 filed Oct. 23, 2004 and Ser No. 60/627,414 filed Nov. 12, 2004.
This invention relates to a sport motivation and promotion device and, more particularly, to a modified baseball or glove or baseball bat which engages the user in the sport by providing baseball-related audio segments, and optionally audible positive feedback to the user if the baseball or softball is successfully caught or struck. The motivation and promotion device is particularly useful for a novice or young player.
Appreciation of the rich and colorful tradition and history of baseball, the American national sport, is important in attracting young players to involvement in the sport, and opportunities to absorb this tradition and history are limited. The unique power and convenience of audio media in entertainment and information, particularly for young people, and the technological advances now available, demonstrate the need for attractive baseball-related audio devices to present this tradition and history in an engaging format. The attraction of sports celebrities and heroes provides the opportunity to further enhance involvement in the sport, by incorporation of a logo of a recognized ball club, the signature of a recognized baseball player or a similar visual memento.
Mementos of sporting activities and events are of great interest to spectators and fans, to young players and to professional and amateur players and coaches. Mementos related to baseball, as the “national sport”, are of particular interest. Advances in technology have been applied to a variety of sports-related collectable, novelty and toy articles. U.S. Patent Application No. US 2004/0157527 A1 discloses a method for making a sports-related collectable article using computer image visualization and manipulation methodology. A talking football, designed to interest young children in that game, is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,288,069, and a talking ball is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,445,375.
Devices have not been described that provide baseball-related audio segments from a collectable baseball glove. There is thus a need for a modified baseball glove that evokes the experience of a baseball game, by utilizing audio-chip technology to provide baseball-related audio segments, optionally in combination with visual mementos, for example baseball team logos and signatures of recognized players.
Immediate feedback as to whether a thrown baseball or softball is caught in the pocket of a ball glove, or successfully struck by a bat, is of great value to amateur players and particularly to young players. Immediate positive feedback is of particular value to novice or young players, in development of self confidence and continuation of involvement in the sport. Audible positive feedback, specifically a vocal phrase (for example, “Good catch!”) may be provided by a coach or other mentor. However, a coach or mentor is not always present, and direct feedback from a sports training device has an immediate impact, and gives the user a sense of control.
Direct feedback is provided to players by various devices, by standard and toy footballs that provide vocal feedback upon impact, by baseballs that display pitching speed on impact and other devices. However, ball gloves or bats that provide positive voice feedback on successful ball catches have not been described.
Advances in the design and production of solid state audio-chip technology provide capabilities for the use of smaller and less expensive devices (U.S. Pat. No. 5,070,758; U.S. Pat. No. 4,312,245; U.S. Pat. No. 3,792,833).
Known prior art devices do not take advantage of the capabilities of solid state control and audio generation technology or other advances that provide baseball-related experiences in combination with a baseball-related object, specifically a baseball glove or baseball bat.
The use of vocal feedback in sports training devices has been described in footballs, soccer shoes and other devices, (U.S. Pat. No. 5,445,375; U.S. Pat. No. 5,288,069; U.S. Patent Application No. US 2003/0082414 A1), but not in baseball gloves or bats, for the purpose of training in the proper technique and skills needed in the catching or hitting of thrown baseballs or softballs.
Advances in voice generation technology provide capabilities for the storage and generation of multiple vocal phrases, in many languages, and non-vocal audio segments, in predetermined or random sequences, on inexpensive and durable solid state units. The solid state units may be replaceable and may also provide capabilities for recording new vocal phrases, and non-vocal segments, allowing the device to be readily updated.
Known prior art devices do not take advantage of the full capabilities of current voice generation devices and related solid state elements, or of current impact detection and measurement devices.
Thus there is a need for a modified ball glove and ball bat, incorporating solid state audio and control technology to provide the interest and excitement of baseball-related audio segments in a convenient and flexible manner. Additionally, there is need for impact detection devices and voice generation devices to provide immediate positive vocal feedback to users who successfully catch or hit thrown baseballs or softballs.
In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the control and audio unit is incorporated into a modified baseball glove. The glove can be of any size suitable for display, if the optional impact sensor is not present. The modified baseball glove has a solid state control and audio unit, and a loudspeaker or electromechanical transducer, through which baseball-related audio segments are broadcast. The device includes an electrical power source, preferably a battery power supply. The modified baseball glove also may include an area for display of a visual baseball memento, for example a team logo or signature of a recognized baseball player. The audio element of the control and audio unit stores in digital form baseball-related audio segments, which may include music, for example “Take Me Out To The Ball Game”; voice segments, for example “Play Ball!”; baseball-related noises, for example stadium crowd noise and historical audio segments, for example broadcast recordings of historic baseball plays. The audio element may also store and broadcast promotional audio segments. The control element of the control and audio unit provides the capability to initiate generation of audio segments by the audio element, and to select audio segments to be broadcast.
It is an object of the invention to provide a motivational and promotional baseball glove having an audio-chip technology which provides a baseball-related audio signal to a loudspeaker, in response to the user activating the control switch, and to further provide an area in which a baseball-related visual memento may be displayed.
It is another object of the invention to provide a collectable baseball glove having a solid-state control and audio unit that is replaceable, so that different combinations of baseball-related audio segments can be utilized in the device.
It is still another object of the invention to provide a collectable baseball glove having a solid-state control and audio unit in which the audio segments may be recorded, so that new baseball-related audio segments can be added to the device, or can replace existing audio segments.
It is still another object of the invention to provide a collectable baseball glove having a solid-state control and audio unit in which various categories of audio segments can be stored, and chosen for broadcast, such categories including for example music, voice, game-related noise and recordings of memorable broadcast baseball plays.
It is an object of the invention to provide a sports device in the form of a modified ball glove incorporating solid state impact detection devices and voice generation devices to provide, directly to users, immediate positive vocal feedback in the training to catch thrown baseballs or softballs.
In response to the needs described I have invented a sports motivation and promotion device in the form of a modified ball glove and a modified baseball bat, having a convenient and flexible audio capability, and optionally having an impact sensor, which provides a ball impact signal to a control unit, which in turn provides an audio signal to a loudspeaker, in the form of a positive vocal sentence or phrase, when a thrown ball is caught.
Other objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein is set forth by way of illustration and example, an embodiment of this invention.
In use of the device, the user presses the on/off switch to activate the device and play the first audio segment. The user may hold down the switch to play a series of audio segments, in a predetermined sequence. The user may press the switch briefly to turn the device off. The device may optionally turn itself off after a predetermined period of non-use.
The control and audio control unit of the device may optionally include stored audio segments in various categories, for example music, voice, game-related noise and recordings of broadcast plays, and may include control functions to enable the user to choose categories and specific items of baseball-related audio segments.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a modified catching glove, including a control and audio unit having an audio segment element, and having a loudspeaker or electromechanical transducer.
FIG. 2 is a partial cutaway view showing a modified catching glove, including a control and audio unit, control switch, loudspeaker or electromechanical transducer, electrical power source, signal and power conductors and optional impact sensor.
FIG. 3 is a diagram showing elements of a solid state control and audio unit, its components including audio elements and an optional impact signal element, an optional impact sensor, an electrical power source, signal and electrical conductors, and switches and controls.
Turning more particularly to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a glove 1 modified by attachment of a solid state control and audio unit 4 and a pierced loudspeaker/microphone area 5. FIG. 1 also shows an optional endorsement area 19. FIG. 1 further shows a baseball or softball 2 approaching the target area 3 of the glove 1 to be caught by a user 6.
FIG. 2 shows the glove 1 modified by attachment of an electrical power source, preferably a miniature replaceable battery 9, connected to a control and audio unit 4 via an electrical conductor 10. An electromechanical transducer 11 is connected to the control and audio unit via the loudspeaker conductor 12. An optional impact sensor 7 is connected to the control and audio unit 4 by an impact signal conductor 8.
The control and audio unit 4 has a control unit switch 13 which functions as a combined on/off switch and audio segment switch. Control signals are transmitted from the control unit switch to other components of the control and audio unit via a control conductor 20.
FIG. 3 shows elements of a solid state control and audio unit 4 including an audio segment element 16, which may be activated by the control switch 13. The solid state control unit 4 also includes an optional impact signal element 14, which receives an impact signal from an impact sensor 7 via an impact signal conductor 8 and sends a digital signal to an audio feedback element 15 if the impact force is greater than a predetermined value, corresponding to a pitched ball 2 striking the target area 3 of the modified glove 1.
The optional audio feedback unit 15 and the audio segment element 16 are solid state voice chip units which may encode multiple audio signals, and which may cycle through the prerecorded selections, or produce them in random patterns. The voice chip units 15 and 16 may be replaceable, and may also optionally provide for recording of new audio selections, via audio signal input from the transducer 11 or an optional audio input connector 17. Audio signal inputs may be received by the voice chip units 15 and 16 from the transducer 11 via the loudspeaker conductor 12, and from the optional audio input connector 17 via the audio input connector conductor 18.
The audio selections may be provided in the English language, or in any other language desired.
It is understood that the modified glove 1 as shown is made to fit on the left hand of a user 6 who is right-handed, and that a glove made to fit on the right hand of a user 6 who is left-handed is modified in mirror image fashion for this invention. The glove can be of any size suitable for display, if the impact sensor 7 is not present.
The modified glove 1 may be of any strong and flexible material but the preferred embodiment is that the material be of leather.
It is important that the optional impact sensor 7 be located at or near the center of the catching area 3 of the glove 1, said area being positioned by the user 6 in preparation for catching the ball. The impact sensor 7 must be minimal in size so as to not to interfere with the catching of the ball 3, as the user 6 supports the glove 1, as shown in FIG. 1.
The device can also be a modified baseball bat, having the control and audio unit, control switch, electrical power supply and loudspeaker or electromechanical transducer located in the bat handle and the optional impact sensor located between the midline and outer end of the bat, near the normal baseball impact area.
The modified baseball bat may be of any strong and hard material, but the preferred embodiment is that the material be of wood.
The control and audio unit 4 is normally turned on and off by the user briefly pressing the control switch 13. The control and audio unit 4 can optionally include a function to turn itself off after a predetermined non-use time. The control and audio unit 4 can also optionally include a function to turn itself on after impact on the impact sensor 7 if the impact force is greater than a predetermined value.
The optional audio feedback element 16, in those devices having an impact sensor, is normally activated by holding down the control switch 13. The optional audio feedback element 16 can optionally be activated by an optional, separate audio feedback switch.
The electrical power source is preferably a conventional miniature replaceable battery, which can be rechargeable, or optionally can be a solar powered storage battery.
The optional impact sensor 7 may be of any strong material, but the preferred embodiment is that the material be a metal or high impact plastic.
In use of the modified glove 1 having an impact sensor, the user normally presses the control switch 13 to activate the functions; supports the glove 1 with the left or right hand, according to the glove design, and positions the catching area 3 of the glove 1 so that an approaching ball strikes the center of the catching area 3.
In use of the glove 1, the user presses the on/off switch to activate the device and play the first audio segment. The user may hold down the switch to play a series of audio segments, in a predetermined sequence. The user may press the switch briefly to turn the device off. The device may optionally turn itself off after a predetermined period of non-use.
The control and audio control unit of the device may optionally include stored audio segments in various categories, for example music, voice, game-related noise and recordings of broadcast baseball plays, and may include control switches to enable the user to choose categories and specific items of baseball-related audio segments.
It is to be understood that while certain forms of this invention have been illustrated and described, it is not limited thereto except insofar as such limitations are included in the following claims and allowable functional equivalents thereof.