Title:
Sports box
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable, easy-to-use and transport sports box for display of real-time information at an athletic event is presented. A number of embodiments are presented. Each embodiment includes a display and a transport system. The transport system is used for easy transportation of the sports box to and from the athletic event; easy storage of the sports box when not in use; and easy use of the sports box during the athletic event. In some embodiments, a controller is used to allow an operator to input the information to a digital display. In other embodiments, a sensor is employed to determine distance information to be displayed. In yet still other embodiments both a controller and a sensor are used.



Inventors:
Bailey, Berry (Crandall, TX, US)
Application Number:
12/150301
Publication Date:
10/29/2009
Filing Date:
04/28/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
700/91, 473/415
International Classes:
A63B71/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PHAM, QUANG
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Arthur, Fisher Patent Dominion Partnership Lp W. (6103 Twin Oaks Circle, Dallas, TX, 75240, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A portable digital sports box for interactive use at athletic events to display real time information about the event and which is easily transportable and useable by the operator, the sports box comprising: a transport system for enabling the operator to easily transport, carry, position and re-position the sports box to, from and during the athletic event; a digital display coupled to the transport system for displaying one or more items of real time information about the athletic event; and one or more controllers coupled to the transport system for enabling the operator to enter the real-time information to the display.

2. The sports box of claim 1 wherein the digital display is comprised of digital read-outs enabling the operator to input the one or more information items and the attendees and participants at the athletic event to view the information items.

3. The sports box of claim 1 wherein the digital display is comprised of one or more digital read-outs for displaying the information items and one or more controllers for separately inputting the information to the one or more digital read-outs.

4. The sports box of claim 1 wherein the digital display displays the one or more information items on a front side and back side simultaneously enabling attendees and participants on either side of the sports box to view the information items.

5. The sports box of claim 1 wherein the digital display is see-through enabling the operator to see through the display to the athletic event and to observe the informational items on the display.

6. The sports box of claim 1 wherein the digital display is battery operated.

7. The sports box of claim 1 wherein the controller is a keypad.

8. The sports box of claim 1 wherein the controller is a receiver and operated by means of a remote control device.

9. The sports box of claim 1 wherein the transport system is comprised of a lightweight, hollow piece of tubing.

10. The sports box of claim 9 wherein an end of the transport system is shaped as a point for easily stationing the transport system into soil.

11. The sports box of claim 9 wherein the transport system is collapsible for easy storage and transport to and from the athletic event.

12. The sports box of claim 9 wherein an end of the transport system is coupled to movable stand enabling the sports box to be rolled to different locations during the athletic event.

13. The sports box of claim 1 further comprising; a sensor coupled to the transport system for measuring distance the transport system is moved and conveying distance information to the digital display.

14. The sports box of claim 1 for use at football events and used to display down information.

15. The sports box of claim 14 and further comprising; a sensor coupled to the transport system for measuring distance the transport system is moved and enabling the digital display to display down information and distance to first down information.

16. A portable sports box for interactive use at athletic events to display real time distance information about the event and which is easily transportable and useable by the operator, the sports box comprising: a transport system for enabling the operator to easily transport, carry, position and re-position the sports box to, from and during the athletic event; a display coupled to the transport system for displaying the distance information; one or more sensors coupled to the transport system for determining the distance the transport system is moved for enabling the operator to enter the real-time information to the display; and means for conveying the determined distance information from the sensors on the display.

17. The portable sports box of claim 16 further comprising a controller coupled to the display for enabling an operator to input the distance information to the display.

18. The portable sports box of claim 16 for use at football events to display real time distance to first down information.

19. The portable sports box of claim 16 wherein the display is a digital display.

20. A method for interactively displaying distance to first down information at a football event on a sports box having a display, a portable transport system and a sensor and comprising the steps of: moving the portable transport system; sensing the distance the transport system has been moved; calculating the distance remaining to first down from the distance moved; and displaying the distance to first down information.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Description of the Related Art

At athletic events, particularly for youth leagues, amateur leagues and other non-professional events, methods of communicating important real-time information about the event to the spectators and even the participants is often limited to simple, mechanical devices.

At youth football games, for example, the down information is normally displayed on a series of flip over, metal sheets with the numbers 1-4 on them. The distance remaining for a first down is not even communicated directly. The spectator must look and the present down marker and the first down chains and then estimate the remaining distance to first down.

Even at the professional level, this method has not changed for on-field display of such information. Fixed scoreboards are a luxury most athletic programs cannot afford.

Most non-professional sports programs do not generate revenues and thus money with which to purchase equipment is always limited. Moreover, in most youth programs, the athletic events are usually varied between a variety of public and municipal parks, playgrounds, or structures completely outside the control of the athletic program operators. Thus, fixed equipment at such sites is rarely possible. Thus, whatever such equipment is on hand must be easily transportable to, from and during the athletic event and easy to use and operate.

Thus, there is a need in the art for a method and apparatus for affordable, easy to transport, easy to operate display apparatus for athletic events.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box for interactive use at athletic events to display real time information about the event and which is easily transportable and useable by the operator, the sports box comprising a transport system for enabling the operator to easily transport, carry, position and re-position the sports box to, from and during the athletic event; a digital display coupled to the transport system for displaying one or more items of real time information about the athletic event; and one or more controllers coupled to the transport system for enabling the operator to enter the real-time information to the display.

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box wherein the digital display is comprised of digital read-outs enabling the operator to input the one or more information items and the attendees and participants at the athletic event to view the information items.

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box wherein the digital display is comprised of one or more digital read-outs for displaying the information items and one or more controllers for separately inputting the information to the one or more digital read-outs.

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box wherein the digital display displays the one or more information items on a front side and back side simultaneously enabling attendees and participants on either side of the sports box to view the information items.

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box wherein the digital display is see-through enabling the operator to see through the display to the athletic event and to observe the informational items on the display.

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box wherein the digital display is battery operated.

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box wherein the controller is a keypad.

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box wherein the controller is a receiver and operated by means of a remote control device.

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box for interactive use at athletic events wherein the transport system is comprised of a lightweight, hollow piece of tubing.

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box wherein an end of the transport system is shaped as a point for easily stationing the transport system into soil.

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box wherein the transport system is collapsible for easy storage and transport to and from the athletic event.

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box wherein an end of the transport system is coupled to movable stand enabling the sports box to be rolled to different locations during the athletic event.

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box for interactive use at athletic events further comprising a sensor coupled to the transport system for measuring distance the transport system is moved and conveying distance information to the digital display.

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box for use at football events and used to display down information.

A method and apparatus for a portable digital sports box for interactive use at athletic events further comprising a sensor coupled to the transport system for measuring distance the transport system is moved and enabling the digital display to display down information and distance to first down information.

A method and apparatus for a portable sports box for interactive use at athletic events to display real time distance information about the event and which is easily transportable and useable by the operator, the sports box comprising a transport system for enabling the operator to easily transport, carry, position and re-position the sports box to, from and during the athletic event; a display coupled to the transport system for displaying the distance information; one or more sensors coupled to the transport system for determining the distance the transport system is moved for enabling the operator to enter the real-time information to the display; and means for conveying the determined distance information from the sensors on the display.

A method and apparatus for a portable sports box further comprising a controller coupled to the display for enabling an operator to input the distance information to the display.

A method and apparatus for a portable sports box for use at football events to display real time distance to first down information.

A method and apparatus for a portable sports box wherein the display is a digital display.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1a is a front view of a sports box.

FIG. 1b is a side view of a sports box with cross-sectionals.

FIG. 2a is a front view of a transport system disposed with a pointed end for easy stationing in soil.

FIG. 2b is a front view of a transport system disposed with a material at one end that will not mar a surface on which it is rested.

FIG. 2c is a front view of a transport system with an end coupled to movable stand enabling the sports box to be rolled to different locations during the athletic event.

FIG. 2d is a front view of a transport system which is collapsible for easy storage and transport to and from the athletic event.

FIG. 3 is a front view of a sports box with a sensor for computing distance.

FIG. 4 is a front view of a sports box for displaying distance information.

FIG. 5 is a front view of a sports box for displaying distance information with a controller.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

While the making and using of various embodiments of the present invention are discussed in detail below, it should be appreciated that the present invention provides many applicable inventive concepts, which can be embodied in a wide variety of specific contexts. The specific embodiments discussed herein are merely illustrative of specific ways to make and use the invention and do not limit the scope of the invention.

It should be understood that the principles and applications disclosed herein can be applied to a wide variety of athletic events. While the application of the present invention to display real-time down and distance to first down information at football events is discussed in detail herein, the present invention may be used to display inning, ball and strike count, score and the like at baseball events, or distance information at a track and field meet, time elapsed at other sporting events, etc. The specific embodiments discussed herein are merely illustrative of specific ways to make and use the invention and do not limit the scope and use of the invention.

Referring now to FIGS. 1a and 1b, a front view and a side view, respectively, of a sports box 100 is depicted. The sports box 100 comprises a digital display 101, a transport system 102 and a controller 103.

FIG. 1B depicts a partial cross-sectional view of the digital display 101 and the transport system 102. The digital display 101 may be of any suitable type and can be configured to display only 1 piece of information or a plurality of informational items and is powered by a battery pack 104. Alternatively, the digital display may be powered by AC/DC converter 105 if an electrical source is within reach. Preferably, the battery pack 104 is rechargeable by means of an AC/DC converter 105 when the sports box 100 is not in use.

The controller 103 is used by an operator of the sports box 100 to input information to be displayed on the digital display 101. The controller 103 may include dial knobs which the operator can use to input the information. Alternatively, other means may be used for inputting the information, such as, a keypad, for example. In another embodiment, the controller 103 may be a receiver which is operated by a remote control unit 109. It will be appreciated, however, that any one of a number of alternative controller 103 configurations may be used within the scope of the present invention.

The transport system 102 is used to couple together all of the pieces of the sports box 100; to transport the sports box 100 to and from athletic events, and to movably station the sports box 100 during the athletic event to the desired location as required during the event. It will be appreciated that the transport system 102 may be made from any one of a variety of configurations and materials. As depicted in FIG. 1a, the transport system 102 is comprised of a hollow piece of lightweight, plastic piping or tubing. The digital display 101 and controller 103 are coupled to the transport system 102 by any suitable means. They may be configured so that they are easily detachable from the transport system 102 during transportation or storage of the sports box 100.

In FIG. 1b, wiring 106 is depicted which connects the battery pack 104, the controller 103 and the digital display 101. The wiring 106 is configured to run through the hollow tubing and remain out of sight. It will be appreciated, however, that any one of a number of alternative wiring 106 configurations may be used within the scope of the present invention.

The sports box 100 may be used at a variety of athletic events to display information on a real-time basis. In one embodiment of the present invention, the sports box 100 may be used to digitally display “down” information at a football game. In such an embodiment, the operator turns on the sports box 100 at the appropriate time by means of a switch or any other suitable means and, at the appropriate time, would carry the sports box 100 to a point at or near the first down marker. Using the controller 103, the operator would arrange for the numeral 1 to be displayed on the digital display. After completion of the first down play, the operator would move the sports box 100 to the new line of scrimmage and using the controller 103, input the new, correct down information to the digital display 101. In this manner, real-time current down information is maintained on the digital display 101 for spectators and participants to view.

The digital display 101 may be configured to display the information on both sides of the display so that spectators and participants on either side can view the information. Alternatively, the display may be configured so that only the operator may see through the display for the purpose of easily verifying that the correct information is being displayed. As mentioned above, the digital display 101 can also be configured to display other information in addition to or in lieu of the “down” information.

Referring now to FIGS. 2a, 2b, 2c and 2d, a variety of transport system features are depicted. In FIG. 2a, an end of the transport system 202 is shaped in the form of a point 212. This configuration is particularly suitable for use of the game box 100 at football events and other athletic events played on turf and which allows the operator to station the sports box 100 easily as needed at different points and provide and easy method of anchoring the sports box 200 in a location for as long as needed.

Referring now to FIG. 2b, an end of the transport system 202 is fitted with a cover 213 of suitable material so that the sports box 200 may be moved and stationed at various locations during the event and wherein the surface on which the sports box 200 is stationed, will not be marred by the end of the transport system 202. Additionally, such a fitting 213 may prevent cuts or damage to the operator or others that could result from an uneven or rough surface at such end of the transport system 202.

Referring now to FIG. 2c, yet another embodiment for the end of the transport system 202 is depicted. More particularly, in FIG. 2c, a base 214 is coupled to such end of the transport system 202. Attached to the base 214 is a plurality of wheels or castors 215 which enable the sports box 200 to be rolled over a surface from location to location. Such a configuration can be used to free the operator from having to support the sports box 200 upright.

It will be appreciated that each of the transport system 202 end features 212, 213, and 214 and 215 depicted, respectively, in FIGS. 2a, 2b, and 2c, may be permanently coupled to the transport system 202 or removably coupled to the end of the transport system 202 thereby enabling the operator to choose from among them for use at various athletic events.

Referring now to FIG. 2d, an embodiment of the transport system 202 is depicted for easy transportation and storage of the sports box 200. In FIG. 2d, the transport system 202 is comprised of a plurality of sections which are coupled together by means of locking/unlocking pivot mechanisms 217. During use, the sections of the transportation system 202 are fully extended to form a straight line by merely pivoting each section into place. The pivot mechanisms 217 have an automatic locking device which keep the transport system 202 firmly in this straight line position. For transport or storage, the operator presses a button or similar such mechanism on each pivot mechanism 217 which unlocks the pivot mechanism 217 and allows the transport system 202 to be collapsed into an easily transportable or storable configuration.

Referring now to FIG. 3, another embodiment of the present invention is depicted. The sports box 300 in FIG. 3 comprises a digital display 301, a transport system 302, and a controller 303 operating in a similar manner to that described for FIGS. 1a and 1b. The sports box 300 also includes a sensor 304 used to determine distance information for display on the digital display 301. In one embodiment, the sensor 304 is an electro-mechanical device, well known to those skilled in the art, which, when activated by the operator, mechanically measures the distance the transport system is moved over the surface of the athletic event site by the operator and converts measured mechanical movement to an electrical signal which can be used to display the distance information on the digital display 301. In another embodiment, the sensor 304 emits a radar-like or optical [e.g. laser] signal which is targeted at a specific point and determines the distance by the characteristics of the return signal reflected back from the specific point or object 305. In one embodiment of the present invention for use at football events, the specific object 305 would be the first down pole at the end of the 10 yard chains. It will be appreciated, however, that any one of a number of alternative sensor 304 configurations may be used within the scope of the present invention.

Using the application described above for the sports box 100 of FIG. 1a for display of down information at a football event, the sports box 300 of FIG. 3 can be used to display both “down” information and “distance to first down” information separately or simultaneously on the digital display 301. For the electromechanical embodiment of sensor 304, the sports box 300 operator, activates the sensor when the operator is ready to move the sports box 300 to a new “line of scrimmage” after a play. The sensor 304 measures the collective distance moved from the “first down line of scrimmage” to the “current line of scrimmage” and retains the total until the operator re-sets it for a new “first down”. The operator may then compute the distance to “first down” from the sensor distance information or the game box 300 may be equipped with circuitry to automatically make the calculation. In another embodiment for the same application, the operator, at the time of inputting the new “down” information, also computes the new “distance to first down” from the sensor distance information signal on a panel in the controller 303 and inputs the distance to first down to the digital display 301 at the same time. In another embodiment of this application, the “distance to first down” is automatically calculated by the sports box 300 and displayed on the digital display 301 when the operator enables it.

It will be understood that the present invention may be used at a variety of different athletic events and used to display a variety of information which is occurring real-time at the athletic event. Moreover, the information may be displayed simultaneously or in any sequence.

Referring now to FIG. 4, another embodiment of the present invention is depicted. The sports box 400 in FIG. 4 comprises a display 401, a transport system 402, and a sensor 404 for determining distance information. The sensor 404 operates in the same manner as described above for sensor 304. The sports box 400 is used to display distance information at an athletic event. For sports box 400, the operator gets the distance information from a read-out on the sensor 404 and manually sets the display with the desired, real-time distance information. The transport system 402 operates in the same manner as that described for the sports box 100 and 200 above in FIGS. 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 2c and 2d.

Referring now to FIG. 5, another embodiment of the present invention is depicted. The sports box 500 in FIG. 5 comprises a digital display 501, a transport system 502, and a sensor 504 for determining distance information. Additionally, the sports box 500 includes a controller 503 to allow the operator to input the distance information from the sensor 504 to the digital display 501. The sensor 504 operates in the same manner as described above for sensor 304. The sports box 500 is used to display distance information at an athletic event. Additionally, other information may be inputted to the digital display 501 by the operator. The distance information for game box 500 may be inputted by the operator from an information read-out on the sensor 504 or the sports box 500 may be equipped to automatically compute the distance information for direct display by the digital display 501. During the athletic event, the operator of sports box 500 gets the distance information from a read-out on the sensor 504 and manually sets the display with the desired, real-time distance information. The transport system 502 operates in the same manner as that described for the game box 100 and 200 above in FIGS. 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 2c and 2d.

Thus, the present invention has been described herein with reference to particular embodiments for particular applications. Those having ordinary skill in the art and access to the present teachings will recognize additional modifications, applications, and embodiments within the scope thereof.

It is, therefore, intended by the appended claims to cover any and all such applications, modifications, and embodiments within the scope of the present invention.