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This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/771,878, entitled “Rotary Game Controller and Method of Facilitating User Exercise During Video Game Play” and filed Feb. 10, 2006, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
Obesity is currently considered an epidemic and is blamed for a host of physical, social and economic problems. The risk of obesity increases for children within certain groups. For example, childhood obesity rates are higher in lower socioeconomic communities since children in these groups tend to remain indoors and engage in sedentary activities (e.g., such as playing video games) that provide minimal physical activity (or exercises) and burn fewer calories. This lack or reduced amount of physical activity tends to cultivate weight problems (or obesity) for the children.
Accordingly, the present invention relates to game controllers and exercise systems of the types disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,121,982 (Feldman) and U.S. Patent Application Publication Nos.: 2006/0260395 (Feldman et al.), 2006/0223634 (Feldman et al.), 2005/0130742 (Feldman et al.) and 2004/0180719 (Feldman et al.). The disclosures of the aforementioned patent and patent application publications are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties. In particular, the present invention pertains to a rotary type of game controller or exercise device enabling users to interact with a video game based on user exercise. This enables users to perform physical activity, while interacting with the video game.
According to the present invention, a game controller enables a user to perform exercises to control a gaming or virtual reality scenario. The game controller or exercise device includes an exercise structure and control circuitry. The exercise structure enables a user seated on a rotatable support member to apply forces to rotate the support member and user body. The rotation of the user on the exercise structure is measured and utilized to control the game scenario.
The above and still further features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description of specific embodiments thereof, particularly when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numerals in the various figures are utilized to designate like components.
FIG. 1 is a view in perspective of a rotary type game controller or exercise device according to the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a top cut-away view of the game controller of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a schematic block diagram of an exemplary control circuit for the game controller of FIG. 1.
A rotary type game controller or exercise device according to the present invention is illustrated in FIGS. 1-2. Initially, a rotary type game controller or exercise device 100 according to the present invention may be coupled to a game processor 200. The game processor may be coupled to a monitor 300 to display a game scenario. The game processor includes a storage drive and/or unit to receive computer readable media (e.g., CD, DVD, etc.) containing software for various games and a processing device to execute the software to provide games on the monitor. The game processor may be implemented by any conventional or other processing or gaming system (e.g., microprocessor system, personal computer, video gaming system, etc.). For example, the game processor may be implemented by conventional video games, such as PS2 available from Sony, XBOX available from Microsoft or GAMECUBE available from Nintendo. Alternatively, game controller 100 may include a processor (FIG. 3) with software for various gaming applications, and be coupled directly to monitor 300 to display a game scenario as described below.
The games generally include characters or objects that are controlled by a user via a controller. For example, the user may control movement and actions of a character or a vehicle (e.g., car, airplane, boat, etc.) to move through a virtual environment displayed on a monitor. The controller includes a plurality of input devices (e.g., joystick, buttons, etc.) to enable a user to interact with the game. A processor executing a gaming application receives signals from the controller and updates a corresponding display to reflect the movements and/or actions of the character or object as indicated by user manipulation of the controller.
Game controller 100 of the present invention enables a user to perform exercises to control a game scenario. In particular, game controller or exercise device 100 includes an exercise structure 10 and control circuitry 50. The exercise structure enables a user seated on a rotatable support member to apply forces to rotate the support member and user body. The rotation of the user on the exercise structure is measured and utilized to control the game scenario as described below. Game controller 100 is preferably utilized for vehicle steering applications (e.g., the rotation of the support member controls steering of a vehicle within a game scenario); however, the game controller may be utilized with any suitable gaming applications, where the support member rotation may be utilized to control any desired functions (e.g., throttle, direct objects or characters, accelerator and/or braking functions, etc.) within the game scenario The exercise structure may be of the types disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,170,687 (Lugger) and 3,873,087 (Burkart et al.), the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties. By way of example only, exercise structure 10 includes a base 12, a rotatable support member 14, a post 16 and a handle or grip 18. Base 12 is in the form of a substantially circular dish including a substantially circular platform 15 with a peripheral wall or lip 24 extending upward from the peripheral edge of platform 15. Support member 14 is in the form of a substantially circular dish including a substantially circular platform 17 with a peripheral wall 23 extending from the peripheral edge of platform 17. Support member 14 includes dimensions greater than those of base 12 and is disposed above, and in facing relation to, the base with peripheral walls 23, 24 extending toward each other. Support member 14 is basically disposed over the base with base peripheral wall 24 being encompassed by support member peripheral wall 23.
Post 16 is generally conical and disposed at a substantially central location of base 12 and support member 14. The post extends upward from the base and support member, where handle or grip 18 is disposed at an upper portion of the post. The handle is in the form of a substantially circular disk and is mounted on the post upper portion with the handle longitudinal axis substantially perpendicular to the post longitudinal axis (e.g., basically forming a ‘T’-type configuration). The handle includes dimensions greater than the transverse dimensions of the post, where the handle extends beyond the post periphery to enable user hands to engage the handle and rotate support member 14 as described below. The post, handle and base are stationary with respect to support member 14. The post includes a length sufficient to enable a user to attain a seated position on exercise structure 10 with user legs disposed between support member 14 and handle 18 and the post positioned between the user legs.
In order to facilitate rotation of support member 14 (e.g., relative to base 12 and about post 16 and handle 18), the base includes an annular groove 20 (FIG. 2) with a series of ball bearings 22 (e.g., marbles, metal balls, etc.) disposed therein. Support member 14 is disposed on base 12 with a support member bottom surface in contact with the ball bearings. Bearings 22 basically function as rollers to enable rotation of support member 14 relative to base 12. The rotation of support member 14 is measured to control a game scenario as described below.
Handle 18 includes a plurality of input devices preferably disposed on a handle top surface to control the game scenario. By way of example, the handle may include a joystick 42 and a series of input buttons 44. The joystick and support member may be selectively configured or assigned to game functions as described in the aforementioned patent and/or patent application publications. Basically, support member 14 may serve the function of a second controller joystick or other input device (e.g., a steering wheel, etc.) with respect to a game. The exercise structure generally includes respective signal sources (e.g., variable resistor or potentiometers) to provide signals indicating joystick motion along X (e.g., left/right motions) and Y (e.g., forward/back motions) axes. However, the exercise structure may include any quantity of any type of input devices (e.g., buttons, switches, a keypad, joystick, etc.) and corresponding signal sources disposed at any location and arranged in any fashion on the structure. The buttons and joystick may be utilized to enter any desired information (e.g., enter desired user actions for the game, game and/or options selection, etc.). Further, the handle may include input devices to control function assignment of the input devices as described in the aforementioned patent and/or patent application publications. The assignment input devices may be implemented by any conventional or other input devices (e.g., buttons, slides, switches, etc.).
The exercise structure typically includes one or more sensors 54 to measure rotation of support member 14. The sensors may be implemented by any conventional or other sensors and sensor arrangements to measure the support member rotation (e.g., potentiometers, accelerometers, contacts, switches, encoders, etc.). For example, the sensors may be in the form of one or more encoders typically including a light source, a light detector and a wheel disposed between the light source and detector and including a plurality of slots defined therein. The wheel is coupled to the support member and turns in response to support member rotation. The turning of the slotted wheel intermittently blocks the light source (e.g., the slots intermittently enable passage of light through the wheel), thereby providing light pulses to the detector. The signals from the detector indicate detection of the light pulses, where the quantity and pattern of pulses detected indicate the amount and/or direction of rotation of the wheel and, hence, support member 14. Alternatively, the sensors may be in the form of potentiometers with a resistance that is varied in proportion to the rotation of the support member (e.g., the resistance control may be coupled to the support member to vary the resistance in accordance with the support member rotation). In addition, a series of contacts or switches may be disposed within structure 10 about the bottom portion of post 16, where an actuating member or contact is disposed on the support member and actuates or contacts the stationary switches as the support member rotates. The particular switches or contacts actuated indicate the amount and/or direction of support member rotation. The sensors are connected to control circuitry 50 within the exercise structure via appropriate wiring, where game controller 100 provides appropriate information to game processor 200 or monitor 300. The sensor measurements are processed to determine the support member rotation and to display a video game scenario as described below, where the scenario is updated in accordance with the rotation of support member 14 by the user.
A display 46 may further be disposed on the top surface of handle 18 to display various information to the user (e.g., the amount of rotation, the amount of work performed by the user during a particular exercise session, the game scenario, time or elapsed time and/or any other exercise or game related information). The display is preferably implemented by a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD), but may be any type of display (e.g., LED, etc.) and may include speakers or other audio devices to provide audio.
Referring to FIG. 3, control circuitry 50 is preferably disposed within base 12 and includes a processor 52 and one or more sensors 54 measuring rotation of support member 14. The processor is coupled to sensors 54, joystick 42, buttons 44 and display 46. A conventional power supply (not shown) provides appropriate power signals to each of the game controller components. The game controller may be powered by a battery and/or any other suitable power source (e.g., game processor, etc.). A power switch (not shown) may further be included to activate the circuit components.
The signals from the sensors, buttons and joystick are transmitted to a respective predetermined memory location within processor 52. The processor may be implemented by any conventional or other processor and may include circuitry and/or convert analog signals from the various devices to digital values for processing. The processor samples the memory locations at predetermined time intervals (e.g., preferably on the order of ten milliseconds or less) to continuously process information (e.g., determine input device manipulation, determine rotation of support member 14, etc.) to update and/or respond to an executing gaming application. The processor may process raw digital values in any fashion to account for various calibrations or to properly adjust the values within quantization ranges for digitized analog signals. In addition, the processor further facilitates display of certain exercise, game or other related information on display 46 as described above. The processor receives the rotation measurements from sensors 54 and/or other information from the input devices (e.g., joystick 42, buttons 44, etc.) to determine support member rotation and input device manipulation, and may provide various information for display to a user (e.g., the amount of work performed by the user during a particular exercise session, a game scenario, time or elapsed time and/or any other exercise or game related information).
Processor 52 may process and arrange the received signals into suitable data packets for transmission to game processor 200. In this case, the data packets are in a format resembling data input from a standard peripheral device (e.g., game controller, etc.). For example, the processor may construct a data packet that includes the status of all controller input devices (e.g., joystick 42, buttons 44, etc.) and the processed values from each sensor 54. By way of example only, the data packet may include header information, X-axis information indicating a joystick measurement along this axis, Y-axis information indicating a joystick measurement along this axis, rudder or steering information in the form of rotation information for support member 14, throttle or rate information and additional information relating to the status of input devices (e.g., buttons, etc.). Additional packet locations may be associated with data received from other input devices connected with the processor, where the input devices represent additional operational criteria for the scenario (e.g., the firing of a weapon in the scenario when the user presses an input button, throttle, etc.). The game processor processes the information or data packets in substantially the same manner as that for information received from a conventional peripheral (e.g., game controller, etc.) to update and/or respond to an executing gaming application (e.g., game, etc.).
Alternatively, the processor may include and execute gaming software. In this case, processor 52 processes the received signals and updates the executing gaming scenario. Signals (e.g., video, audio, etc.) may be subsequently provided by processor 52 directly to display 46 and/or monitor 300. The signals may be provided to the monitor for display via a cable 350 (FIG. 1) connected to and extending from the base or any other suitable location. The cable may be implemented by any conventional or other cable suitable to transfer video and/or audio signals.
Game controller 100 may be operable with a wide variety of video gaming systems including, without limitation, PS2, XBOX and GAMECUBE systems, as well as different personal computers (e.g., personal computers with Microsoft WINDOWS and Apple Mac OS X operating systems). Game controller 100 may include a cable system that facilitates connection and communication with multiple (e.g., two or more) video game processors. Referring back to FIG. 1, a cable system 220 may be connected to and extend from base 12. Cable system 220 is substantially similar to the cable systems described in the aforementioned patent application publications and includes a flexible and hollow body 224 that extends into base 12 to receive and retain wiring that is connected with processor 52 within the base. Alternatively, it is noted that the cable may connect with the exercise structure at any other suitable location and/or in any other suitable manner. A number of separately and independently extending wires are sheathed within and extend the length of cable body 224. The wires are configured for providing an electrical contact or link between processor 52 and a specific video game processor as described below.
Cable body 224 extends a selected distance from base 12 and connects with a generally rectangular housing 226. A number of flexible and hollow cables 228, 230, 240, 250 extend from housing 226, where each output cable includes a wiring set that is configured for connection to a game controller port of a different video game processor. Each output cable terminates in a respective connection plug, where each connection plug is different from the others and is configured to connect with a corresponding game controller port of a respective video game processor. By way of example only, the connection plug of cable 250 is configured to connect with a game controller port of a GAMECUBE system, the connection plug of cable 240 is configured to connect with a game controller port of an XBOX system, the connection plug of cable 230 is configured to connect with a game controller port of a PS2 system, and the connection plug of cable 228 is configured to connect with a universal serial bus (USB) port of any other suitable gaming system, such as a personal computer (e.g., to facilitate gaming control of Microsoft WINDOWS or Apple Mac OS X based gaming applications). However, the cable system is not limited to this exemplary configuration, but rather can include any suitable number (e.g., two or more) of connection plugs of any suitable types and configurations to facilitate connections with any types of video game processors.
Cable 220 is of a suitable length (e.g., eight feet or greater) to facilitate a relatively easy connection between game controller 100 and game processor 200. In situations where the game controller is located a considerable distance (e.g., greater than eight feet) from a video game processor, the cable system can be configured to include an extension cable device to facilitate connection between the two systems for video gaming applications as disclosed in the aforementioned patent application publications.
Processor 52 is configured for effective communication and operability with each of the video gaming systems compatible with the cable system. In particular, when cable system 220 (optionally including the extension cable device) is connected with a video game processor in the manner described above, processor 52 identifies the specific video game processor upon receiving one or more initial electrical signals (e.g., one or more “wake-up” signals) from the video game processor. When the specific video game processor is identified, processor 52 processes and arranges signals from the sensors and input devices into suitable data packets for transmission to and recognition by the video game processor during a gaming application as described above.
Operation of game controller 100 is described with reference to FIGS. 1-2. Initially, the user may couple the game controller to game processor 200 utilizing the appropriate connection plug or plugs of cable system 220 (and/or the extension cable device). Alternatively, the user may couple the game controller directly to monitor 300 in the case where the game controller includes gaming software. Based upon the particular gaming application that is to be executed, the user may selectively assign game functions to joystick 42, support member 14 and/or other input devices as described above. The user is typically seated on support member 14 with post 16 disposed between the user legs and the user hands engaging handle 18.
When the game controller is coupled to game processor 200, processor 52 receives one or more initial signals from game processor 200 (e.g., when the game processor is powered on) and identifies the specific video game processor. Processor 52 subsequently arranges signals from the sensors and input devices in suitable data packets for recognition by the identified system during execution of the game as described above.
A game is selected and executed (e.g., by processor 52 or game processor 200), and the user engages in an exercise to interact with the game. In particular, the user applies force to the stationary handle, thereby causing support member 14 and the user body to rotate. The rotation effects corresponding movement, for example, of a character or an object in the game scenario displayed on display 46 and/or monitor 300. The user may further manipulate joystick 42, buttons 44 and/or other controller input devices for additional actions depending upon the particular game and user function assignments.
The signals from sensors 54 and input devices (e.g., joystick, buttons, etc.) are transmitted to processor 52. When game processor 200 is executing the gaming application, processor 52 generates data packets for transference to the video game processor. Game processor 200 processes the information or data packets in substantially the same manner as that for information received from a conventional peripheral (e.g., game controller, etc.) to update and/or respond to an executing gaming application. In the case of processor 52 executing the gaming application, the processor updates the executing gaming scenario and provides the appropriate signals to display 46 and/or monitor 300 for display of the updated scenario. Thus, the rotation of support member 14 by the user results in a corresponding coordinate movement or action in the scenario displayed on the display and/or monitor in accordance with the function assigned to support member by the user. In other words, user exercise serves to indicate desired user actions or movements to update movement or actions of characters or objects within the game in accordance with the function assigned to the support member. For example, when the user assigns the support member steering functions, application of forces to rotate the support member in particular directions may serve as the steering function (e.g., in racing or other gaming applications).
As noted above, a single processor is implemented in the control circuitry of the game controller, where the processor is capable of communicating with a number of different video game processors in the manner described above. However, the present invention is not limited to the use of a single processor. Rather, the game controller may include multiple processors (e.g., two or more), where each processor is configured to enable communication of signals between the game controller and at least one corresponding video game processor as disclosed in the aforementioned patent application publications. In addition, any suitable wired and/or wireless communication links can be provided that facilitate communication between one or more processors of the game controller of the present invention and two or more different video game processors as disclosed in the aforementioned patent application publications.
It will be appreciated that the embodiments described above and illustrated in the drawings represent only a few of the many ways of implementing a rotary game controller and method of facilitating user exercise during video game play.
The exercise device or game controller and components (e.g., base, support member, post, handle, etc.) may be of any size or shape, may be arranged in any fashion and may be constructed of any suitable materials. The exercise structure may include any suitable mechanisms to enable rotation of the support member in any directions relative to the base.
Any suitable number of any types of sensors (e.g., encoders, potentiometers, accelerometers, contacts, switches, etc.) may be disposed at any suitable locations to facilitate measurement of the support member rotation. Further, the sensors may include any electrical, mechanical or chemical properties that vary in a measurable manner to measure rotation of the support member. The sensors may include any desired arrangement.
The exercise structure may be adjustable in any fashion (e.g., any dimension, handle height, etc.) via any types of arrangements of components (e.g., telescoping arrangement, overlapping arrangement, extender components, etc.) to accommodate user physical characteristics. The handle of the exercise structure may be of any shape or size and disposed at any location to receive force applied by a user. The support member and/or other input devices may be assigned the gaming functions of any desired controller input devices. The game controller may further include various input or other exercise mechanisms to control the video game and provide further exercise for a user.
The game controller may include any quantity of any conventional or other types of input devices (e.g., buttons, slides, joysticks, track type balls, etc.) disposed at any locations and arranged in any fashion. The game controller may include any quantity of any types of signal source devices to generate signals in accordance with input device manipulation (e.g., variable resistors or potentiometers, switches, contacts, relays, sensors, strain gauges, etc.). The signal sources may correspond with any quantity of axes for an input device. Any input devices may be implemented as force sensing or isometric devices, while the input devices may be assigned to any suitable game functions. The game controller may include any quantity or combination of force sensing input devices and motion input devices.
The game processor may be implemented by any quantity of any personal or other type of computer or processing system (e.g., IBM-compatible, Apple, Macintosh, laptop, palm pilot, microprocessor, gaming consoles such as the XBOX system from Microsoft Corporation, the PLAY STATION 2 system from Sony Corporation, the GAMECUBE system from Nintendo of America, Inc., etc.). The game processor may be a dedicated processor or a general purpose computer system (e.g., personal computer, etc.) with any commercially available operating system (e.g., Windows, OS/2, Unix, Linux, etc.) and/or commercially available and/or custom software (e.g., communications software, application software, etc.) and any types of input devices (e.g., keyboard, mouse, microphone, etc.). The game processor may execute software from a recorded medium (e.g., hard disk, memory device, CD, DVD or other disks, etc.) or from a network or other connection (e.g., from the Internet or other network).
The processor of the exercise device or game controller may be implemented by any quantity of any conventional or other hardware (e.g., microprocessor, controller, etc.) and/or processing circuitry (e.g., logic, gates, etc.). The game controller processor may arrange data representing measurements by sensors and other information into any suitable data packet format that is recognizable by the game processor or host computer system receiving data packets from the game controller. The data packets may be of any desired length, include any desired information and be arranged in any desired format. Any suitable number of any type of conventional or other displays may be connected to the game controller or game processor to provide any type of information relating to a particular computer session. A display may be located at any suitable location on or remote from the game controller.
It is to be understood that software of the exercise device or game controller (e.g., processor, etc.) may be implemented in any desired computer language, and could be developed by one of ordinary skill in the computer and/or programming arts based on the functional description contained herein. Further, any references herein of software performing various functions generally refer to computer systems or processors performing those functions under software control. The functions of the game controller processor may be distributed among any quantity of software and/or hardware (e.g., additional processors, etc.) modules in any fashion. The functions of the game controller processor and game processor may be distributed in any fashion among any quantity of processors or processing systems.
The terms “upward”, “downward”, “top”, “bottom”, “side”, “front”, “rear”, “upper”, “lower”, “vertical”, “horizontal”, “height”, “width”, “length”, “forward, “backward”, “left”, “right” and the like are used herein merely to describe points of reference and do not limit the present invention to any specific orientation or configuration.
The present invention exercise device or game controller is not limited to the gaming applications described above, but may be utilized as a peripheral for any processing system, software or application.
From the foregoing description, it will be appreciated that the invention makes available a novel rotary game controller and method of facilitating user exercise during video game play, wherein a rotary type of game controller or exercise device enables users to interact with a video game based on user exercise.
Having described preferred embodiments of a new and improved rotary game controller and method of facilitating user exercise during video game play, it is believed that other modifications, variations and changes will be suggested to those skilled in the art in view of the teachings set forth herein. It is therefore to be understood that all such variations, modifications and changes are believed to fall within the scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.