Title:
Game apparatus and methods employing wearable tracks
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A game apparatus has a wearable track, a start cup and an end cup. The track is configured for maneuvering a ball through the track from the start cup to the end cup. The track may include milestones for gauging the progress of the ball through the course. The track may have branches, dead ends, traps and/or mechanical switches, and may include two or more levels. The track may include one or more devices that respond to progress of the ball through the track; these devices may communicate information about the position of the ball to timing and/or scoring devices. A game apparatus for use by two players has a first player track with a start cup, a shared track, and a second player track with an end cup, with each of the tracks configured for maneuvering a ball through the track from the start cup to the end cup.



Inventors:
Ware, Brock A. (Bozeman, MT, US)
Application Number:
11/338099
Publication Date:
08/10/2006
Filing Date:
01/24/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
273/121A
International Classes:
A63D3/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090160131Sudoku-Type GameJune, 2009Chen
20030178772User friendly convenience gameSeptember, 2003Gan
20050156381Do or die game apparatus and methodJuly, 2005Carlson et al.
20070290444Blackjack game with side bet wagerDecember, 2007Moses
20090166972Scramble 500July, 2009Douglas
20040219999Reinforced goal connectorsNovember, 2004Oister et al.
20090072478Puzzle game apparatus and computer readable storage medium having puzzle game program stored thereonMarch, 2009Tawara et al.
20090014951METHOD OF ADMINISTERING A GREETING CARD AND LOTTERY GAME COMBINATIONJanuary, 2009Gough
20060244218Methods of playing Pai Gow gamesNovember, 2006Frankel et al.
20030062683Playing cards inscribed with jokesApril, 2003Abrams
20040243463Publicity planning packDecember, 2004Wells



Primary Examiner:
CHIU, RALEIGH W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LATHROP & GAGE LC (4845 PEARL EAST CIRCLE, SUITE 300, BOULDER, CO, 80301, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A game apparatus comprising a wearable track, a start cup and an end cup; the track configured for maneuvering a ball therethrough.

2. The game apparatus of claim 1, the track being worn on one of a glove, a foot, a knee and a head.

3. The game apparatus of claim 1, the track being disposed on a track support, the track support being one of (a) concave, (b) convex, (c) both concave and convex, and (d) wrapped around a glove.

4. The game apparatus of claim 1, the track including milestones.

5. The game apparatus of claim 1, the track comprising two or more levels.

6. The game apparatus of claim 1, the track comprising at least one of branches, dead ends, traps and mechanical switches.

7. The game apparatus of claim 1, the track comprising at least one device that responds to progress of the ball through the track.

8. The game apparatus of claim 7, the at least one device being one of a mechanical device, an electronic device, an electromechanical device, an electromagnetic device and an optoelectronic device.

9. The game apparatus of claim 7, the at least one device communicating position information to a scoring device.

10. The game apparatus of claim 7, the at least one device communicating position information to a timing device.

11. A game apparatus for use by two players, comprising a first player track with a start cup, a shared track, and a second player track with an end cup; each of the tracks configured for maneuvering a ball therethrough.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Patent Application Ser. No. 60/646,952, filed Jan. 25, 2005, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

Games, sports and toys that test coordination and agility of participants are popular. Some games and sports test the performance of players via direct competition and interaction (e.g., baseball, boxing, auto racing) or head-to-head competition that involves little or no direct interaction (e.g., running, swimming). Other games, sports and toys test the performance of individuals by assigning a score to a participant's performance of a task (e.g., golf, bowling, video games) or by timing (e.g., ski racing), thus allowing the participants to compete indirectly.

SUMMARY

A game apparatus has a wearable track, a start cup and an end cup. The track is configured for maneuvering a ball through the track from the start cup to the end cup. The track may include milestones for gauging the progress of the ball through the course. The track may have branches, dead ends, traps and/or mechanical switches, and may include two or more levels. The track may include one or more devices that respond to progress of the ball through the track; these devices may communicate information about the position of the ball to timing and/or scoring devices. A game apparatus for use by two players has a first player track with a start cup, a shared track, and a second player track with an end cup, with each of the tracks configured for maneuvering a ball through the track from the start cup to the end cup.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows one game apparatus employing wearable tracks, in accord with one embodiment, utilized by a player.

FIG. 2A, FIG. 2B, FIG. 2C, FIG. 2D and FIG. 2E show cross-sectional views of tracks used in embodiments of a game apparatus employing wearable tracks.

FIG. 3A and FIG. 3B show exemplary features for one track, in accord with one embodiment, to facilitate scoring.

FIG. 4A and 4B show a top view and a side view, respectively, of one game apparatus worn on a foot of a player.

FIG. 5A and 5B show a top view and a side view, respectively, of one game apparatus worn on a knee of a player.

FIG. 6A and 6B show a top view and a side view, respectively, of one game apparatus worn on a head of a player.

FIG. 7A shows one track support that forms a convex shape and attaches to a glove.

FIG. 7B shows one track support that forms a concave shape and attaches to a glove.

FIG. 7C shows one track support that has convex and concave shapes.

FIG. 8 shows one game apparatus employing wearable tracks that includes a track attached to a glove.

FIG. 9A, FIG. 9B and FIG. 9C show track supports in accord with certain embodiments.

FIG. 10 shows a top view of one game apparatus employing wearable tracks in accord with one embodiment.

FIG. 11A, FIG. 11B and FIG. 11C show a top view and two cross-sectional views, respectively, of a two-level game apparatus employing wearable tracks in accord with one embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows one game apparatus 100 employing a wearable track 150, in accord with one embodiment. A player 10 is shown using apparatus 100. A track support 110 may be used to support track 150 and may, for example, attach to a forearm 20 of player 10 by straps 120. Track 150 may for example be formed in track support 110 (e.g., by carving or molding) or may attach to track support 110. In one embodiment, track 150 connects to a start cup 140 and an end cup 160, as shown.

In operation of game apparatus 100, player 10 may attach apparatus 100 to forearm 20 using straps 120, place a ball 170 in start cup 140 and maneuver ball 170 from start cup 140 to end cup 160 by tilting or twisting forearm 20 so that gravity and motions of forearm 20 force ball 170 from start cup 140 along track 150 to end cup 160. A score may be assigned to player 10 based on how fast ball 170 is maneuvered to end cup 160. In one embodiment, a different score may be assigned to player 10 if ball 170 leaves track 150; for example, player 10 may receive a score based on the amount or percentage of track 150 traversed by ball 170 before ball 170 leaves track 150. When player 10 completes one attempt at maneuvering ball 170 through track 150, game apparatus 100 may be removed from forearm 20 and passed to another player; or that other player may use a different but identical game apparatus 100. Players may thus compete on the basis of score, since each player plays a similarly configured track 150.

In other embodiments, track support 110 of game apparatus 100 may be held to forearm 20 of player 10 with attachments other than straps 120; for example, track support 110 may include a glove that fits over the forearm (see, for example, FIG. 7 and FIG. 7C). Other embodiments of game apparatus 100 may be adapted to fit other parts of a human body than forearm 20. For example, track support 110 may be substantially flat or may form one or more curved surfaces. Track support 110 and track 150 may also include a variety of features, as discussed below, to (a) increase or decrease the difficulty of completing track 150, (b) facilitate scoring, and/or (c) enhance player interest. In the following descriptions, numerals corresponding to those used in FIG. 1 may be used to describe similar features in other embodiments.

FIG. 2A, FIG. 2B, FIG. 2C, FIG. 2D and FIG. 2E illustrate cross-sectional views of tracks used in embodiments of a game apparatus employing wearable tracks. For example, FIG. 2A shows a cross-section of track 150(1) formed by two ridges 152(1) and 152(2) adjoining track support 110. FIG. 2B shows a cross-section of track 150(2) formed by two ridges 152(3) and 152(4) adjoining track support 110. Ridges 152(3) and 152(4) are higher than ridges 152(1) and 152(2), and thus contain a ball (e.g., ball 170, FIG. 1) within track 150(2) better than ridges 152(1) and 152(2); it may therefore be easier to move the ball through track 150(2) than track 150(1) without the ball leaving the track.

FIG. 2C shows a a cross-section of track 150(3) formed by a tube 154 adjoining track support 110; a ball cannot leave track 150(3). Tube 154 may be translucent or transparent so that player 10 may see the location of a ball within track 150(3). FIG. 2D shows a a cross-section of track 150(4) formed by two ridges 152(5) and 152(6) that are lower than ridges 152(1) and 152(2); it is correspondingly more difficult for a player to keep a ball in track 150(4), as compared to track 150(1). FIG. 2E shows a a cross-section of track 150(5) formed by two ridges 152(7) and 152(8) that are about as high as ridges 152(5) and 152(6), but ridges 152(7) and 152(8) are sloped more gently, making it correspondingly more difficult to keep a ball within track 150(5) as compared to track 150(4).

As previously noted, tracks 150(1)-150(5) may be formed of the same structure as track support 110. For example, these tracks may be molded with plastic that also forms track support 110. Alternatively, these tracks may be independently manufactured (e.g., as plastic molding) and then attached to track support 110.

FIG. 3A and FIG. 3B show exemplary features for one track 150, in accord with one embodiment, to facilitate scoring. In FIG. 3A, a section of track 150(6) contains two markers (hereinafter “milestones”) 158 within a track surface 156, as shown. Milestones 158 may contain numerals, as shown, or other characters or information. A player 10 who attempts to maneuver a ball 170 through a track 150 but does not get ball 170 to end cup 160 without the ball leaving the track may record a score corresponding to the last milestone crossed by ball 170 before it left the track. Thus, players may compare their performance to each other for tracks 150 that are so difficult to play that they cannot be completed without a lot of practice. FIG. 3B shows a cross section of track surface 156 along the line 3B-3B of FIG. 3A. In FIG. 3B, milestones 158 are illustratively dimples or recesses in an otherwise smooth track surface 156, so that players may easily observe whether a milestone 158 has been reached by behavior of a ball 170 rolling across milestone 158 (e.g., a ball may jiggle or momentarily pause as it crosses text missing or illegible when filed one. Certain embodiments of game apparatus 100 may be configured for wearing on other body parts of a player. For example, FIG. 4A and FIG. 4B show a top view and a side view, respectively, of one game apparatus 100(1) worn on a foot 30 of a player 10. Straps 120(1) and 120(2) hold track support 110(1) to foot 30. Player 10 may move foot 30 to maneuver a ball (not shown) from a start cup 140(1) through a track 150(7) to an end cup 160(1) to play a game.

In another example, FIGS. 5A and 5B show a top view and a side view, respectively, of one game apparatus 100(2) worn on a knee 40 of a player. Strap 120(3) holds track support 110(2) to knee 40. A player may move knee 40 to maneuver a ball (not shown) from a start cup 140(2) through a track 150(8) to an end cup 160(2) to play a game.

FIG. 6A and 6B show a top view and a side view, respectively, of one game apparatus 100(3) worn on a head 50 of player 10. Earpieces 122(1) and 122(2) and nose bridge 124 hold track support 110(3) to head 50. Player 10 may move his head 50 to maneuver a ball (not shown) from a start cup 140(3) through a track 150(9) to an end cup 160(3) to play a game.

Track supports (e.g., supports 110, FIG. 1) may for different shapes. For example, FIG. 7A illustrates one track support 110(4) for a game apparatus 100(4) employing a wearable track (not shown). Track support 110(4) forms a convex surface and may attach to a glove 126, as shown. In another example, FIG. 7B shows one track support 110(5) for a game apparatus 100(5) employing a wearable track (not shown). Track support 110(5) forms a concave surface and may attach to glove 126, as shown. In another example, FIG. 7C shows one track support 110(6) for a game apparatus 100(6) employing a wearable track (not shown). Track support 110(6) forms both convex and concave shapes and may attach to a glove 126, as shown. Track supports 110(4), 110(5) and 110(6) provide additional challenges to a player 10, to enhance player interest. Track supports 110(4)-110(6) may be manufactured integrally with glove 126. A player may then slide his arm into glove 126 to play the game apparatus.

FIG. 8 shows one game apparatus 100(7) employing a wearable track; apparatus 100(7) includes a track 150(10) that is shown attached to a glove 126(1) on forearm 20 of player 10. Player 10 maneuvers ball 170 from a start cup 140(4) through track 150(10) to an end cup 160(4) to play a game. A player thus has to maneuver forearm 20 in a complex circular manner to keep the ball from falling out of the track. Game apparatus 100(7) provides an advanced level of challenge to a player 10.

FIG. 9A, FIG. 9B and FIG. 9C show track supports 110 in accord with certain embodiments. FIG. 9A shows one track support 110(7). FIG. 9B shows a track support 110(8) that is wider than track support 110. FIG. 9C shows a track support 110(9) that is diamond shaped.

FIG. 10 shows a top view of one game apparatus 100(8) employing wearable tracks. Two players 10(1) and 10(2) may cooperate to play apparatus 100(8). Apparatus 100(8) is shown with a first track support 110(11), a shared track support 110(12) and a second track support 110(13). To use apparatus 100(8), player 10(1) places a ball 170 in a start cup 140(5) and maneuvers it into track 150(11). Flexible interfaces 180(1) and 180(2) allow player 10(1) to maneuver first track support 110(11) somewhat independently of shared track support 110(12) and second track support 110(13). Player 10(1) maneuvers ball 170 through track 150(11) until it reaches a first ramp 190(1) connecting track 150(11) with track 150(12) on shared track support 110(12). Once ball 170 is on track 150(12), players 10(1) and 10(2) coordinate to maneuver ball 170 through track 150(12) to a second ramp 190(2) connecting track 150(12) with track 150(13) on second track support 110(13). Once ball 170 is on track 150(13), player 10(2) maneuvers ball 170 through track 150(13) until it reaches an end cup 160(5). The time required for players 10(1) and 10(2) to maneuver ball 170 from start cup 140(5) to end cup 160(5) is a measure of their performance using game apparatus 100(8); alternatively, the performance of players 10(1) and 10(2) may be gauged by the use of milestones, as discussed above.

FIG. 11A, FIG. 11B and FIG. 11C show a top view and two cross-sectional views, respectively, of a two-level game apparatus 100(9) employing wearable tracks in accord with one embodiment. Cross-sectional views FIG. 11B and FIG. 11C are taken at dashed lines 12B-12B and 12C-12C, respectively, of FIG. 11A. Apparatus 100(9) is shown with one track 150(14) that is partially on an upper level 200(1) and partially on a lower level 200(2) to challenge and interest players of apparatus 100(9). Ball 170 rolling along track 150(14) may move from upper level 200(1) to lower level 200(2), and/or vice versa, through holes 202 and ramps 204.

For example, in game apparatus 100(9), a player may start ball 170 at start cup 140(6) on upper level 200(1) and maneuver it to branch point 206. At branch point 206, track segment 208(1) of track 150(14) leads to a hole 202(1), as shown. If ball 170 drops through hole 202(1), it enters tube 154(2) on lower level 200(2). If ball 170 rolls through tube 154(2), it will proceed to segment 208(3) in cutout area 210(1). In cutout area 210(1), upper level 200(1) does not exist and segment 208(3) is bounded by ridges 152 (e.g., in the way that ridges 152 form tracks 150 in FIG. 2A, FIG. 2B, FIG. 2C, FIG. 2D and FIG. 2E). If ball 170 proceeds through segment 208(3), it will arrive at hole 202(2). As shown in FIG. 11B, hole 202(2) includes a ramp 204(1) that enables a player to maneuver ball 170 from lower level 200(2) to upper level 200(1).

Alternatively, at branch point 206, the player may maneuver ball 170 into segment 208(2) that also proceeds to hole 202(2). In the vicinity of hole 202(2), track 150 forms a recess 212 on upper level 200(1), which provides a way around ramp 204(1) and hole 201(2), as shown. The player may maneuver ball 170 within recess 212 around ramp 204(1) in order to move ball 170 into segment 208(4) and thus continue moving ball 170 through track 150(14). Thus, game apparatus 100(9) presents both a physical challenge and an element of strategy by offering the player alternative routes (e.g., segments 208(1) and 208(2), or segment 208(3)), each route having advantages and disadvantages for the player to choose.

FIG. 11A and FIG. 11B also show a ramp 204(2) that connects a track segment 208(5) (on lower level 200(2), in cutout area 210(1)) with a track segment 208(6) on upper level 200(1). Ramp 204(2) is bounded by ridges 152, as shown. A player maneuvers ball 170 up ramp 204(2) while keeping ball 170 within ridges 152. FIG. 11B also shows track support 110(8) upon which lower level 200(2), upper level 200(1) and ridges 152 are located.

FIG. 11A also shows segment 208(6) connecting with tube 154(5) at hole 202(4), tube 154(5) leading to cutout 210(2) to become segment 208(7) on lower level 200(2), and segment 208(7) connecting with segment 208(8) on upper level 200(1) at ramp 204(3).

FIG. 11A and FIG. 11C show track segment 208(8) bounded by ridges 152 connecting with tube 154(6) at hole 202(5). Tube 154(6) becomes track segment 208(10) at cutout area 210(3) and connects with end cup 160(6), as shown.

It will be apparent that the two-level game apparatus 100(9) of FIG. 11A, FIG. 11B and FIG. 11C may be extended to any number of levels, for increased player interest. As discussed above with respect to tube 154(1), materials used to make tubes 154 may be transparent or translucent so that the player may follow the progress of ball 170.

The changes described above, and others, may be made in the game apparatus described herein without departing from the scope hereof. For example, a game apparatus 100 may include mechanical, electronic, electromechanical, electromagnetic or optoelectronic devices that respond to the progress of a ball 170 through a track 150. Sensors may detect a position of the ball on the track, and communicate position information to a scoring device and/or a timing device. For example, a wireless transmitter can communicate position or scoring information to a remote receiver, which may be viewed by one or more players. The timing device may for example calculate time elapsed between the ball's exit from a start cup 140, travel time past milestones 158, and arrival time at an end cup 160. A scoring device may calculate a score that depends on elapsed time, travel of the ball past milestones, or both. The scoring and/or timing devices may activate visual displays (e.g., score displays or lights) or audio devices (e.g., buzzers or speakers) corresponding to position of the ball or to a player's score. Tracks 150 may include features such as branches, dead ends, traps or mechanical switches (e.g., gates that open and close, to allow or deny access of ball 170 to certain track segments 208), for increased player interest.

It should thus be noted that the matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings should be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense. The following claims are intended to cover all generic and specific features described herein, as well as all statements of the scope of the present method and system, which, as a matter of language, might be said to fall there between.