Title:
Hockey Exhibit with Hockey Simulation and Promotional Methods Used in Connection Therewith
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Promotional methods used in connection with hockey exhibits and hockey simulations are disclosed. A hockey simulation is provided comprising at least one mannequin resembling a hockey player arranged on a playing surface adjacent a target. The target is adapted to receive a hockey puck directed by a participant in the simulation positioned on the playing surface in the simulation. The at least one mannequin has an indicia area for displaying promotional material, and the hockey simulation further comprises a participant input device that among other things stores in a database information representative of the participant's effectiveness in interacting with the simulation in the database. A sponsor is associated with the hockey simulation, and promotional material associated with the sponsor of the simulation is displayed in at least one of indicia area of the hockey player mannequin and the promotional display area of the participant input device.



Inventors:
Salvador, Bryce (Creve Coeur, MO, US)
Mckinney, Brian Michael (Lakeville, MN, US)
Application Number:
12/163096
Publication Date:
12/31/2009
Filing Date:
06/27/2008
Assignee:
KP VISIONARIES, LLC (Lakeville, MN, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
273/127R, 273/461
International Classes:
A63B67/00; A63B71/00; A63F7/30
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, ANH-VO V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THOMPSON COBURN LLP (ONE US BANK PLAZA SUITE 3500, ST LOUIS, MO, 63101, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A hockey simulation comprising: a hockey goal mounted on a playing surface; a first mannequin resembling a hockey goalie mounted on the playing surface and arranged in a position defending the goal; at least one other mannequin resembling a hockey player mounted on the playing surface and arranged in a position adjacent the goal; indicia sufficient to instruct a participant in the simulation to direct a hockey puck from the playing surface toward the hockey player adjacent the goal to cause the puck to deflect off the hockey player into the goal; a display displaying a score representative of the number of goals scored by the participant by deflection off the hockey player; and a participant input device operatively connected to a database, the participant input device configured to display prompts to receive information relating to a participant in the simulation and store the participant information in the database, the participant information including data relating to the participant's score in the simulation.

2. The hockey simulation of claim 1, wherein the at least one other player mannequin adjacent the goal has a hockey stick arranged in an out-stretched fashion.

3. The hockey simulation of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of mannequins resembling players adjacent the goal.

4. The hockey simulation of claim 1, wherein the player mannequin hockey stick has a target area angled toward the goal.

5. The hockey simulation of claim 1, further comprising an impact sensor provided on the player mannequin hockey stick target area to sense a puck impacting the player mannequin hockey stick.

6. The hockey simulation of claim 5, further comprising goal sensors provided on the hockey goal cooperating with the impact sensor to sense deflected shots entering the goal.

7. The hockey simulation of claim 6, further comprising an actuator mounted in the goal operatively connected to the goal sensors, the actuator being adapted to actuate in response to a deflected shot entering the goal, and move a water bottle in a simulated bouncing motion on top of the goal.

8. The hockey simulation of claim 1, wherein the display displays a ranking associated with the participant compared to other participants in the simulation.

9. The hockey simulation of claim 5, wherein at least one of the mannequins has an audio control operatively connected to at least one of the sensors, the audio control controlling an audio device to provide audio in response the participant's interaction with the simulation.

10. The hockey simulation of claim 1, further comprising a basket unit forming at least a portion of a hockey goal, the basket unit having a front and back, left and right sides, a top and a bottom, the front having at least one opening to receive hockey pucks directed toward the goal, the back, left and right sides and top and bottom being enclosed to retain pucks entering the basket through the opening, the basket being positionable to form the portion of the goal such that the bottom of the basket is below the playing surface.

11. The hockey simulation of claim 10, wherein the basket has a rear wheel adjacent the back.

12. The hockey simulation of claim 10, wherein the basket has an outward appearance resembling a hockey net

13. The hockey simulation of claim 10, wherein the basket has a door providing access to an interior of the basket

14. The hockey simulation of claim 10, wherein the basket has a plurality of openings that correspond to the corners or the goal.

15. The hockey simulation of claim 10, wherein the basket has a guide shoot in an interior of the basket at the opening to direct pucks toward the bottom back of the basket.

16. The hockey simulation of claim 10, wherein the basket is positionable behind a generally rectangular frame defining the goal.

17. A hockey simulation comprising: a playing surface; a first mannequin resembling a hockey player of a team of a participant in the simulation, the teammate hockey player being mounted on the playing surface and arranged in a position to receive a hockey puck directed from a participant in the simulation; at least one other mannequin resembling a hockey player of an opponent team of a participant in the simulation, the at least one other mannequin being mounted on the playing surface and arranged in a position to block a hockey puck directed to the teammate hockey player from a participant in the simulation; indicia sufficient to instruct a participant in the simulation to direct a hockey puck from the playing surface toward the teammate hockey player; a display displaying a score indicative of the number of hockey pucks successfully directed toward the teammate hockey player past the opponent player; and an participant input device operatively connected to a database, the participant input device configured to display prompts to receive information about a participant in the simulation and store the participant information in the database, the participant information including data relating to the participant's score in the simulation.

18. The hockey simulation of claim 17, further comprising a sensor arranged on the teammate hockey player sensing a puck successfully directed to the teammate hockey player past the opponent hockey player.

19. The hockey simulation of claim 18, wherein the sensor is arranged on a hockey stick of the teammate hockey player.

20. The hockey simulation of claim 17, further comprising a plurality of spatially separately sensors arranged on teammate hockey player each sensing a puck successfully directed to the teammate hockey player past the opponent hockey player.

21. The hockey simulation of claim 20, wherein one of the plurality of sensors positioned on the teammate hockey player to sense an elevated pass over a hockey stick of the opponent player.

22. The hockey simulation of claim 20, wherein one of the plurality of sensors positioned on the teammate hockey player to sense an elevated pass over the opponent player positioned in a blocking position.

23. The hockey simulation of claim 20, wherein one of the plurality of sensors positioned on the teammate hockey player to sense a playing surface level pass through the opponent player positioned in a blocking position.

24. The hockey simulation of claim 20, wherein one of the sensors has a first point level associated with the sensor and another of the sensors has a second point level associated with the sensor, the first point level being different than the second point level.

25. The hockey simulation of claim 20, wherein at least one of the mannequins has an audio device operatively connected to at least one of the sensors, the audio device providing audio in response the participant's interaction with the simulation.

26. The hockey simulation of claim 17, wherein the display displays a ranking associated with the participant compared to other participants in the simulation.

27. A method comprising: providing a hockey simulation comprising at least one mannequin resembling a hockey player arranged in a fixed pattern on a playing surface adjacent a target, the target being adapted to receive a hockey puck directed by a participant in the simulation positioned on the playing surface in the simulation, the at least one mannequin having an indicia area for displaying promotional material, and the hockey simulation further comprising a participant input device operatively connected to a database, the participant input device configured to display prompts to receive information relating to a participant in the simulation and store the participant information in the database, the participant information being representative of the participant's effectiveness in interacting with the simulation, the input device having a promotional display area; associating a sponsor with the hockey simulation; and displaying promotional material associated with the sponsor of the simulation in at least one of the indicia area of the hockey player mannequin and the promotional display area of the participant input device.

28. The method of claim 27, wherein the simulation comprises a hockey goal, the at least one mannequin resembles a hockey goalie arranged in a position defending goal; and the method further comprises: providing at least one other mannequin resembling a hockey player arranged in a position adjacent the goal; providing indicia sufficient to instruct a participant in the simulation to direct a hockey puck toward the mannequin hockey player to cause the puck to deflect off the hockey player into the goal past the goalie mannequin.

29. The method of claim 28, further comprising: displaying a score indicative of the number of goals scored by the participant by deflection off the hockey player.

30. The method of claim 27, wherein the simulation comprises a hockey goal, the at least one mannequin resembles a hockey goalie arranged in a position defending goal; and the method further comprises: providing indicia sufficient to instruct a participant in the simulation to direct a hockey puck toward the goal past the goalie mannequin.

31. The method of claim 30, further comprising: displaying a score indicative of the number of goals scored by the participant.

32. The method of claim 27, wherein the at least one mannequin resembles a hockey player of a team of a participant in the simulation, the teammate hockey player being arranged in a position to receive a hockey puck directed from a participant in the simulation; and the method further comprises: providing at least one other mannequin resembling a hockey player of an opponent team, the opponent team mannequin being arranged in a position to block the hockey puck directed from a participant in the simulation to the teammate hockey player; and providing indicia sufficient to instruct a participant in the simulation to direct a hockey puck toward the teammate hockey player.

33. The method of claim 27, further comprising: displaying a score indicative of the number of hockey puck successfully directed to the teammate hockey player past the opponent player.

34. The method of claim 27, wherein the indicia area of at least one of the mannequin comprises at least one of the player's socks, player's sweater, player's pants, player's stick shaft, player's stick blade, player's skates, player's gloves.

35. A hockey simulation comprising: a playing surface; at least two obstacles mounted to the playing surface in a spaced-apart relationship; a first mannequin resembling a hockey player mounted on the playing surface and arranged in a position adjacent at least one of the obstacles; indicia sufficient to instruct a participant in the simulation to direct the hockey puck successively about the obstacles; a display displaying a score indicative of a participant successfully successively directing a hockey puck about the obstacles; and an participant input device operatively connected to a database, the participant input device configured to display prompts to receive information about a participant in the simulation and store the participant information in the database, the participant information including data relating to the participant's score in the simulation.

36. The hockey simulation of claim 35, wherein each of the obstacles has an opening formed therein sized to allow a hockey puck to pass therethrough.

37. The hockey simulation of claim 36, wherein the obstacles comprises hockey sticks with the opening formed in the blade of the stick.

38. The hockey simulation of claim 35, further comprising a first sensor mounted on at least one of obstacles associated with a start of the stick handling simulation and a second sensor mounted on the other of the obstacles associated with an end of the stick handling simulation, the first and second sensors being configured to determine a time for a participant to begin and finish successively directing hockey pucks about the obstacles of the stick handling simulation.

39. The hockey simulation of claim 38, wherein the participant's score is based in part upon the time taken by the participant to begin and finish successively directing hockey pucks about the obstacles of the stick handling simulation as determined by the first and second sensors.

40. The hockey simulation of claim 38, further comprising a first light mounted on at least one of obstacles associated with a start of the stick handling simulation and a second sensor mounted on the other of the obstacles associated with an end of the stick handling simulation, the first and second lights being operatively connected to the first and second sensors, respectively, and illuminating when the participant begins and finishes stick handling simulation.

41. The hockey simulation of claim 36, further comprising a sensor arranged adjacent the opening and adapted to sense a puck passing through the opening.

42. The hockey simulation of claim 35, wherein the mannequin has an audio device providing audio in response the participant's interaction with the simulation.

43. The hockey simulation of claim 35, wherein the display displays a ranking associated with the participant compared to other participants in the simulation.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present disclosure is directed to a hockey exhibit having at least one hockey simulation and promotional methods used in connection with the hockey exhibit and the hockey simulation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a top elevational view of a hockey exhibit with a plurality of hockey simulations assembled to form an interactive center for participants and visitors to the exhibit;

FIG. 2 is drawing of a kiosk used in the hockey exhibit of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a series of screen shots and graphics presented on a display of the kiosk of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a top view of a shooting lane hockey simulation of the hockey exhibit of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a front view of a goal used in the shooting lane hockey simulation of FIG. 5;

FIG. 6 is a top view of a deflection lane hockey simulation of the hockey exhibit of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a front view of a goal used in the deflection lane hockey simulation of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a detailed view of a target area of a stick used by a mannequin in the deflection lane hockey simulation of FIG. 6;

FIG. 9 shows a puck basket that may be used as a goal in the shooting lane simulation of FIG. 5 or the deflection lane simulation of FIG. 6;

FIG. 10 is a side elevational view of the basket of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a rear view of the basket of FIG. 9;

FIG. 12 is a top view of a passing lane hockey simulation of the exhibit of FIG. 1 configured for a left-handed shooting participant;

FIG. 13 is a top view of a passing lane hockey simulation of the exhibit of FIG. 1 configured for a right-hand shooting participant;

FIG. 14 shows a hockey stick used by a mannequin comprising a teammate player of a participant in the passing lane hockey simulations of FIGS. 12 and 13;

FIG. 15 is a top view of the hockey stick of FIG. 14;

FIG. 16 shows a pose of a mannequin comprising an opponent player of a participant in the passing lane hockey simulations of FIGS. 12 and 13;

FIG. 17 shows an alternate pose of a mannequin comprising an opponent player of a participant in the passing lane hockey simulations of FIGS. 12 and 13;

FIG. 18 shows an alternate pose of a mannequin comprising an opponent player of a participant in the passing lane hockey simulations of FIGS. 12 and 13;

FIG. 19 is a top view of an embodiment of the stick handling hockey simulation of the exhibit of FIG. 1;

FIG. 20 is a side elevational view of an embodiment of an obstacle used in the stick handling simulation of FIG. 19 comprising a hockey stick with blade opening; and

FIG. 21 is a schematic diagram of an information gathering system used in the exhibit comprising a database, kiosks such as that shown in FIG. 2, controls used in the simulations of FIGS. 4, 6, 12, 13, and 19, and the data line connections therebetween.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1 shows a top view of a hockey exhibit 10 comprising a plurality of hockey simulations. The exhibit may be associated with a sponsor and promotional material of the sponsor may be displayed in at least one of the hockey simulations of the exhibit. Preferably, the exhibit contains multiple simulations to spark the interest of visitors to the exhibit and prompt at least some of the visitors to become participants in one or more of the simulations. The simulations are designed to generate traffic through the exhibit to assist the sponsor in promoting the sponsor's products and services, thereby enabling the exhibit to be used at a large event allowing the general public to encounter the sponsor and the sponsor's goods and services. As shown in FIG. 1, the exhibit 10 contains several different hockey simulations: a shooting lane 20, a deflection lane 30, passing lanes 40,42, and a stick handling lane 50. It should be appreciated that the exhibit may have more or less, or multiples of the aforementioned simulations, depending upon allocated space for the exhibit and expected traffic through the exhibit.

The general features that may be provided in any one or all of the simulations will be described below to provide an overview of various aspects of the exhibit. Preferably, mannequins resembling hockey players are used in the simulations to provide visitors and participants with a life-like and near-real hockey experience. The mannequins may be equipped with audio controls to provide voice commands and other sounds to increase realism of the simulation, and as will described below, the mannequins may have sensors to facilitate data collection associated with a specific simulation. The mannequins may also be fitted with internal actuators and controls to enable limb(s), a hockey stick, a head, or torso of the mannequins to move. The mannequins may also be fixed to the playing surface via a translation mechanism that allows the mannequin to move relative to the playing surface. For instance, the translation mechanism may have a movable member that may be fixed to the mannequin and a base member that is fixed to the playing surface. The translation mechanism may be a pneumatic or hydraulic cylinder, or a motorized assembly driving a screw/nut, gear, pulley/belt, or chain/sprocket system, with associated motor/drive controls, power supplies, and accessory equipment. The pucks used in the simulation may also have sensors and/or transmitters that interact and/or cooperate with sensors on a mannequin and/or a mannequin's equipment and/or controls. The puck sensors may enhance the operation of the mannequin-based sensors and/or may be configured to effectuate specific voice commands from the mannequin, movements of the mannequin, or other audio-visual outcomes associated with a simulation, as may be desired depending upon the nature of the simulation.

Preferably, a simulation of the exhibit 10 is arranged to resemble a hockey rink. A simulation may have a synthetic ice playing surface 52 with boards 54 and glass 56 extending therefrom enclosing the simulation, and a redline, blue line(s), goal line, goal crease, face-off spot(s), face-off circle(s) may be displayed on the playing surface, as applicable depending upon the nature of the simulation. Sponsor and other promotional information may be displayed in promotion indicia areas 60 of the simulation. The promotion indicia areas 60 may include the boards 54 and/or the playing surface, kiosks and/or card readers associated with each simulation, and other displays, such as video displays associated with the simulations. One or more mannequins in the simulation may also have one or more promotion indicia areas 60 formed thereon allowing for the display of promotional material associated with a sponsor of the hockey exhibit and/or simulation. The mannequin promotion indicia areas 60 may include the player's socks, player's sweater, player's pants, player's stick shaft, player's stick blade, player's skates, and player's gloves.

A simulation may also have instruction indicia areas 62 with instruction indicia sufficient to instruct a participant in participating in the simulation. For instance, the instruction indicia 62 may be presented to the participant via a display at the simulation, including a video display, voice commands projected from a mannequin in the simulation, and/or instructions located at the simulation. A simulation may also have a video capture device 64 to allow the participant to record a video, for instance, in a DVD format, of the participant participating in the simulation.

A representative kiosk 70 which may be positioned around the exhibit and/or at each simulation, is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Preferably, the kiosk has a touch screen 72 graphical user interface to accept and display information to a user. The kiosk 70 has a microprocessor and other computer controls 80 that may be positioned in the base of the kiosk, and the kiosk may have a promotion indicia area 60 on a front panel to display promotional material associated with the sponsor of the exhibit and/or simulation. The sponsor(s) of the exhibit may use the kiosk to provide information about the exhibit and/or to gather demographic information about visitors to the exhibit and particularly participants in the simulations. For instance, the kiosk may present a visitor with a survey and then collect information the visitor's responses, which may be used by the sponsor of the event for marketing purposes. The kiosks may also provide instructions to the participant on how to participate in a simulation, and may be enabled to collect information on a participant's participation in a simulation. FIG. 3 shows a representative illustration of screens 90, 92, 94, 96 that may be presented to the participant and/or visitor. The kiosks may be configured to track information regarding the participant's interaction with a particular hockey simulation, including, for instance, the participant's effectiveness in interacting with the simulation, providing a participant with a score in a simulation based upon the effectiveness of the interaction, and a ranking relative to other participants of the hockey simulation. The kiosks may also process a fee for the participant to participate in the hockey simulation. The kiosks 70 may provide the participants with a swipe card, and a swipe card reader 98 may be integrated into the kiosk, for instance, to facilitate credit card payment features, or be a stand alone module at a simulation. Swipe card readers positioned at the entrance to each simulation may allow the participant to quickly log into each simulation in the exhibit, and enable automatic start and stop of the simulation, including the automatic collection and recording of data associated with, and/or via the video capture device 64 video recording of, the participant's participation in a hockey simulation. The use of a swipe card at log-in to a simulation enables the rapid reset of the simulation and real-time capture of data associated with the participant's participation in a simulation. The video capture system 64 may be inter-connected to the kiosk/swipe card reader information such that as the participant swipes into a simulation, the video capture system may be coded to record that participant's participation in the simulation to allow later retrieval of the video for purchase via the internet. The kiosks may also be configured to allow a participant to go back to a kiosk at a later date, run his or her swipe card through the kiosk card reader, and retrieve his or her score for a simulation. As will be described below, scores from participants' participation in the simulations may be uploaded to a central database and displayed via the internet for participants and the general public to view.

FIG. 4 shows a top view of a shooting lane simulation 20 of the hockey exhibit. In the shooting lane hockey simulation 20, the participant is instructed to direct hockey pucks to the goal 90 from a start point 92. Possible shooting lanes on goal are shown by arrows indicated by reference character 94. Preferably, the goal is defended by a mannequin 96 mounted on the playing surface 52 positioned in front of the goal in a typical goal defending position such as a butterfly position, a kick/block/save position, or a blocking position where the goalie's pads are stacked on top of one another. It should be appreciated that the goalie mannequin may be arranged in other positions. Instructions for the participant in the shooting lane simulation may be provided via a video board 100 adjacent the goal, voice commands from the goalie mannequin, a light system 102, or via the instruction indicia 62 on the kiosks 70 associated with the shooting lane simulation. The goal area display 100 may indicate the participant's score in the shooting lane simulation and/or a timer indicating the time the participant has left to participate in the simulation when the simulation is so configured to monitor time. Sensors may be provided on the goal to sense hockey pucks entering the goal area past the goalie. The sensors may be operatively connected to a control 104 configured to generate output commands when a goal is scored. The control 104 may also have programming to tally the number of goals scored by a participant and/or the control may calculate time. The score for the simulation may be based upon the number of shots taken, the number of goals scored, and a corresponding time period. For instance, the participant may be given 60 seconds to shoot 10 pucks toward the net and the score may be based upon the number of goals scored out of the 10 shots within the 60 seconds. The shooting lane may also gauge the velocity of a participant's shot. A participant's score in the shooting lane simulation may include the participant's shot velocity as well as the number of goals scored and relative accuracy.

The goal in the shooting lane simulation 20 may be a conventional hockey net with the mannequin positioned in front thereof as shown in FIG. 4. The goal may also have the configuration shown in FIG. 5 with or without a mannequin positioned in front thereof. In the goal of FIG. 5, target areas 108 are positioned in the upper left and right corners, the lower left and right corners, and the bottom center. Each of the target areas 108 may be framed with structural material comprising the goal with sensors positioned therearound to sense when the puck enters the target area. To facilitate rapid change-over of the simulation between participants, the target areas 108 may have chutes 110 to direct the pucks into buckets 112 or the back rear of the goal to reduce blocking the goal with pucks. A participant's score may be based upon the participant's ability to direct a puck to a specific target area. Lights 114 may be provided around the framing of the target area to prompt the participant to shoot a puck toward a specific illuminated target area. In such a case, a participant's score may be based upon the participant's ability to identify the illuminated target area and successfully direct a puck toward the target area within a specified time period, and/or include a component based upon the participant's shot velocity.

The output commands of the control 104 may actuate an actuator 118 connected to a simulated water bottle 120 positioned on top of the goal. Thus, when the participant successfully directs a puck to the goal or target area, the sensor sends a signal to the control and the control generates commands to actuate the actuator and move the water bottle to simulate a bouncing motion of the water bottle on the top of the goal. The output commands of the control 104 may also illuminate a goal light 122 and/or sound a horn in the simulation, for instance, when time expires in the simulation, to provide added realism for the simulation.

FIG. 6 shows a top view of the deflection lane hockey simulation 30 in the hockey exhibit of FIG. 1. In the deflection lane hockey simulation 30, the participant is instructed to direct hockey pucks from the start area 102 along possible shooting lanes 104 to players surrounding a goal so as to deflect or redirect the hockey puck from the players surrounding the goal into the goal past a goalie. Preferably, the players surrounding the goal and the goalie are mannequins. As with the shooting lane, the goalie mannequin 106 may be positioned in a typical goal defending position, such as a butterfly position, a laying down position, or a blocking position with goalie pads stacked on top of one another. As with the shooting lane simulation, instructions for the participant in deflection lane may also be provided via a video board adjacent the goal, voice commands from the goalie and/or players surrounding the goal, a light system, or via the instruction indicia 62 on the kiosks 70 associated with the deflection lane simulation. The goal area may also include a display which may indicate the participant's score in the shooting lane simulation and/or a timer indicating the time the participant has to participate in the simulation when the simulation is so configured to monitor time.

Redirection or deflection may be effectuated by directing the puck to strike the mannequin itself or a stick held by the mannequin, so a mannequin may have its hockey stick held in an outstretched position, and/or an elevated position above the playing surface or on the playing surface, as may be desired in the simulation. As shown in FIG. 6, six player mannequins and the goalie mannequin are mounted on the playing surface in an arrangement surrounding the goal in three lines. A first line of mannequins 132, closest to the participant, has stick blades positioned on the playing surface 52 generally transverse to the direction of the shooting lanes 94 for deflection into the goal. The third line of mannequins 134 closest to the goal at the goal line has stick shafts positioned at the height of the cross bar of the goal for deflection into the goal—primarily the upper left and right corners of the goal. The second line of mannequins 136, positioned between the first and third lines, has stick blades elevated from the playing surface and obliquely angled toward the goal to re-direct the incident shot from the participant into the goal. It should be appreciated that the deflection lane may have fewer than the six mannequins shown in FIG. 6, and the mannequins surrounding the goal may be a combination of players resembling opponent hockey players and/or teammate hockey players of the participant.

The deflection lane hockey simulation may comprise sensors provided on and/or around the goal to automatically detect when a puck is deflected into the goal. Sensors may be provided on the mannequin to assist in determining whether a shot has been deflected or re-directed from the player into the goal. The sensors may be operatively connected to the control 104 that generates output commands when a goal is scored. The control 104 may also have programming to tally the number of goals scored by a participant and to calculate time. As with the shooting lane simulation, the participant may be given a set number of hockey pucks to shoot toward the goal within a specified time period. The participant's score in the simulation may be based upon the number of shots successfully deflected or re-directed into the goal within the specified time period. For instance, the participant may be given 60 seconds to deflect or redirect 10 pucks into the net and the score may be based upon the number of goals scored out of the 10 shots within the 60 seconds.

As shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, the hockey players positioned at the goal line may have their hockey sticks 138 positioned in an outstretched and elevated fashion at the goal cross bar. The stick shafts may be provided with a target area 140 adjacent the stick blade shaped to allow deflection of the puck from the target area directly to the upper left and right corners of the goal. Each of the mannequins that are specifically positioned at the goal line may have a sensor sensing whether a puck has impacted the target area 140 of the stick shaft. The target area may comprise a small ramp shoot projecting from the bottom of the stick shaft that angles the pucks into the upper left and right corners of the goal. The participant may receive an enhanced score by successfully re-directing shots into the goal from the target area of the stick shafts of sticks held by the third line 134 of mannequins in comparison to shots deflected or re-directed from the first line 132 and/or second line 136 of players shown in FIG. 6.

As with the shooting lane, the control 104 in the deflection lane may also generate output commands to actuate an actuator connected to a simulated water bottle positioned on top of the goal. Thus, when the participant successfully re-directs or deflects a puck to the goal or target area, the sensor sends a signal to the control to actuate the actuator and move the water bottle in a simulated bouncing motion on top of the goal. The control output commands may also illuminate a goal light and/or sound a horn, for instance, when time expires in the simulation, to provide added realism for the simulation.

FIGS. 9, 10 and 11 show one embodiment of a puck basket 150 that may be used as a goal or in connection with a goal in the deflection and/or shooting lane simulations. The puck baskets 150 assist operators of the simulation in changing over the simulations between participants. Several puck baskets may be staged next to a simulation, and as the puck baskets in the simulation fill up with pucks, the full baskets may be wheeled out of the simulation and empty baskets may be wheeled into the simulation to rapidly change over the simulation. The puck baskets may be generally cubical in shape and have a front 152 and a back 154, left and right sides 156,158, and a top and a bottom. The front 150 has at least one opening 164 to receive a hockey puck directed toward the goal. The back 154, left and right sides 156,158, and top and bottom 160,162 are enclosed to retain pucks entering the basket through the opening. The left and right sides, top and bottom, and back may be formed from a net or a solid panel adorned to resemble a net and/or hockey goal with netting and a red outline resembling post(s) and/or a cross bar. The puck basket has a handle 164 and wheels 166 to allow it to be rolled into position, for instance, behind the frame of the goal. The puck basket has an access 168 positioned at the back to allow access into the interior of the basket to retrieve pucks. FIGS. 9, 10, and 11 show a puck basket with three openings 164 at the top, center and bottom that form target areas that may be used, for instance, with the shooting lane or deflection lane. Internal chutes 170 may be arranged in an interior of the puck basket adjacent the openings to direct pucks toward the back of the basket to prevent pucks from obstructing the openings. Three puck baskets having the configuration shown in FIG. 9 may be arranged side-by-side to form a goal. However, it should be appreciated that the puck baskets may be configured with one or more openings, and have a wider girth and/or a smaller relative height, for instance, for the center bottom position (the “five hole”). The openings on the front may be positioned and sized as necessary to correspond with selected target areas of the goal for the shooting and/or deflection lanes and may include sensors to sense when a puck enters an opening. As shown in FIGS. 9, 10 and 11, the wheels 166 are positioned above the bottom 162 of the basket thereby allowing the basket to be placed in a cut-out in the playing surface 52. This allows pucks to fall to the bottom of the basket without obstructing the bottom opening positioned at the level of the playing surface, for instance, the bottom left and right corners of the goal. The wheels may also be positioned at the bottom corner of the basket such that the basket sits on top of the playing surface, thus positioning the bottom opening above the playing surface for providing a target area into the goal with a goalie in a kick/block/save defensive position, as may be desired depending upon the simulation.

FIGS. 12 and 13 show passing lane simulations 40,42 of the hockey exhibit of FIG. 1. FIG. 12 shows a configuration of the passing lane simulation 40 adapted for a left-handed shooting participant, and FIG. 13 shows a configuration of the passing lane simulation 42 for a right-handed shooting participant. In the passing lane hockey simulations 40,42, the participant is instructed to direct a hockey puck to a teammate hockey player past an opponent hockey player in a simulated pass. Potential passing lanes are shown by the arrows indicated by reference characters 180,182. In the passing lane simulations shown 40,42, three mannequins 190 are mounted on a playing surface in positions to resemble teammates of the participant and three mannequins 192 are mounted on the playing surface in positions to resemble opponent players of the participant. However, it should be appreciated that the number of mannequins may be varied as well as the number of opponent player mannequins used in combination with each teammate player mannequin (i.e., simulated double coverage). The teammate player mannequins are arranged to receive a pass from the participant and the opponent team player mannequins are arranged in a defensive position covering the teammate player mannequin so as to obstruct the ability of the participant to successfully direct a pass to a teammate player mannequin. Instructions for the participant in the passing lane simulation may be provided via a video board display, voice commands from one or more of the mannequins, a light system, or via the instruction indicia 62 on the kiosks 70. The video board display may indicate the participant's score in the passing lane simulation and/or a timer indicating the time the participant has left to participate in the simulation, when the simulation is so configured to monitor time. A horn and/or light may also be used, as described above, to indicate to the participant that time has expired in the simulation.

Via the instruction indicia 62, the participant is prompted to direct hockey pucks past the opponent player to the teammate player by passing the puck through openings created by the positioning of the opponent player mannequin relative to the playing surface and the teammate player mannequin. The teammate player mannequin is equipped with a hockey stick with sensors to sense when the participant successfully directs a hockey puck past the opponent player mannequin to the teammate player mannequin. For instance, the teammate player mannequin hockey sticks 194 shown in FIGS. 14 and 15 have a blade 196 comprising an opening 198 and a basket 200 behind the opening sufficiently large to accommodate several pucks that may be successfully directed by the participant past the opponent player mannequin. The blade opening has sensors 202 that sense when a hockey puck enters the basket. The sensors may be operatively connected to the control 104 that generates output commands when puck passes through the blade opening or enters the basket, thus representing a successful pass. The control 104 may also have programming to tally the number of successful passes and to calculate time. The participant may be given a set number of hockey pucks to pass within a specified time period. The participant's score in the simulation may be based upon the number of passes successfully made within the specified time period. The control may also drive voice commands from the mannequin and/or lights that prompt the participant to direct passes to certain players. The participant's score may be representative of the participant's success in identifying the correct player and successfully completing the pass within the set time.

The score may also be representative of the relative difficulty level of specific passes, for instance, awarding more points for a successfully completed “saucer” pass as opposed to a “playing surface” level pass. The sensors and baskets may also be placed at different heights or elevations relative to the playing surface to provide the participant with different scores depending upon the location of the pass. Sensors may be spatially separated on the teammate player's stick to sense the elevated pass and playing surface level pass. For instance, if the participant successfully completes a playing surface level pass as measured by the puck entering a basket positioned adjacent the playing surface, the participant may receive a score. If the participant successfully completes a pass at an elevated height (i.e., “a saucer pass”), as measured by the puck successfully entering a basket on the stick at an elevated distance from the playing surface, the participant may receive an enhanced score, given the difficulty in successfully completing a saucer pass. FIG. 16 shows an opponent player positioned in a “diving” blocking position. The participant may achieve a different score depending upon the location of the pass. For instance, a pass along passing lane 180 at position D (and position F depending upon the positioning of the opponent mannequin relative to the teammate mannequin) may achieve a relatively low score while a pass along passing lane 182 at position B (and C and G depending upon the positioning of the opponent mannequin relative to the teammate mannequin) may achieve an enhanced or higher score. FIGS. 17 and 18 show alternate embodiments of mannequins comprising opponent players. In FIG. 17, the participant may obtain an enhanced score by completing the “saucer pass” along passing lane 182 at position A. The participant may achieve the normal score by completing a pass along passing lane 180 at position B (FIG. 18).

FIGS. 19 shows a top view of a stick handling lane simulation 50 of the exhibit of FIG. 1. In the stick handling simulation 50, the participant is instructed to successfully navigate a puck around successive obstacles 220a-220m disposed on the playing surface 52. Mannequins may be positioned on the playing surface as additional obstacles. Instructions for the participant in the stick handling lane simulation may be provided via a video board display, voice commands from one or more of the mannequins, a light system, or via the instruction indicia 62 on the kiosks 70. The video board display may indicate the participant's score in the stick handling lane simulation and/or a timer indicating the time the participant has left to participate in the simulation, when the simulation is so configured to monitor time. In the stick handling simulation, points may be awarded based upon the time it takes for the participant to successfully navigate the stick handling simulation. The score may also be based upon the number of obstacles successfully navigated by the participant.

The stick handling simulation obstacles 220a-220j may be formed from a hockey stick having the configuration shown in FIG. 20. The hockey stick has a blade 222 fixed to the playing surface 52 with an opening 224 sufficiently large to accommodate a puck traveling through the opening. A stick shaft 226 may extend from the blade as shown in FIG. 20 or may be omitted, for instance, forming the end obstacles 220k-220m as shown in FIG. 19. The blade opening 224 has sensors 226 that sense when a hockey puck passes through the opening. When the participant successfully navigates a puck through the opening, the participant receives a score. Lights 228 and other effects may be operatively connected to the sensors to illuminate obstacles, and a control 230 may be operatively connected to the sensors 226 to generate commands to illuminate the lights and/or to automate scoring. For instance, in response to an object passing through the obstacle opening (i.e., stick blade opening), the control 230 may generates an output command to illuminate the light associated with the obstacle. The control may have programming to determine a time lapse from when the puck passes through the opening of the first obstacle (i.e., 220a or 220b) in the stick handling simulation to when the puck passes through the opening of the last obstacle 220m in the stick handling simulation. As a further example, the control may generate an output command to illuminate a start light and/or an end or finish light. The control may also drive a display that displays the time lapse between the puck passing through the opening of the start obstacle (i.e., 220a or 220b) and the opening of the end or finish obstacle 220m. The control may have an output interface adapted to transmit signals representative of the time lapse to a remote device wirelessly or through a hardwired connection, or network. The control 230 may be provided locally on the stick shaft as shown in FIG. 20, or the control 104 may be centrally located receiving inputs from the obstacle-based sensors through the connections 250 as shown in FIG. 19. As a further example, in response to an object passing through the obstacle opening, the control may generate an output command to illuminate a light of the next successive obstacle in the series, for instance, the obstacle or stick openings in a path to guide the participant through the simulation. Although not shown in the drawings, the stick handling simulation may also be integrated into any of the other aforementioned simulations, for instance before, taking a shot in the deflection lane, the participant must first navigate a stick handling simulation portion.

For illustrative purposes, the manner in which a participant navigates the obstacles 220a to 220m of the stick handling simulation of FIG. 19 will be described, although it should be realized that the simulation may be varied in arrangement as may be desired. FIG. 19 shows a top view of plurality of hockey sticks (i.e., blades and shafts) in a generally rectangular shape in first (top in FIG. 19) and second (bottom in FIG. 19) forked patterns. The first forked pattern (top in FIG. 19) has a distance between its two legs that is relatively larger than the distance between the legs of the second forked pattern (bottom in FIG. 19). Each stick and/or blade in the pattern represents an obstacle that must be successfully navigated. The participant starts the simulation in front of a stick/blade on an end of one of the legs depending upon the participant's preference in beginning the stick handling simulation (i.e., 220a or 220b). The participant stickhandles or navigates a puck through the opening of the first blade to the opening of the blade next in line on the opposite leg of the fork (for instance, 220a to 220d, or 220b to 220c), and then back to the opening of the blade next in line on the opposite (i.e., the starting) leg of the fork (for instance, 220d to 220e, or 220c to 220f), and so on, in a zig-zag-like pattern, until the participant completes the simulation by stick handling the puck through the end obstacle(s) 220k, 220l, 220m, which may comprise several blade openings successively arranged in a line as shown in FIG. 19. The distance between the legs of the forked pattern may be reduced to increase difficulty associated with the simulation. Thus, FIG. 19 shows a simulation with two levels of difficulty: a simulation at the top that is less difficult than the simulation at the bottom. It should be appreciated that one or more levels of difficulty may be provided in the simulation.

FIG. 21 shows a schematic drawing of the data gathering system 300 associated with the exhibit. As described previously, kiosks 70 may be located at multiple positions in the exhibit 10 to allow the participant to enter data, including marketing and demographic data, relating to the participant and may include additional data relative to the sponsor, such as marketing data. The control 104 associated with each simulation may automatically process scoring information as described above and generate output commands to transmit the scoring information via a network 310 to a central processing unit and/or database 320. Swipe card readers may provide inputs to the controls at the simulation to allow the participant to quickly log into each simulation in the exhibit, and enable automatic start and stop of the simulation, including the automatic collection and recording of data associated with, and/or via the video capture device 64 video recording of, the participant's participation in a hockey simulation. The central processing unit and/or database 320 may also be configured to process unprocessed data transmitted by the control of each simulation and generate output commands to drive displays at the simulations or in the exhibit. Processed information may also be uploaded to the internet 330. The data gathering system allows for collecting, updating and display of participant score information for specific simulations, for instance, participant high score and ranking information which may be displayed in real-time via video display boards or via the displays at the kiosks. The automatic data gathering system shown in FIG. 21 may be operatively connected to a lighting system to automatically update and flash information as necessary. For instance, a lighting system 102 (FIG. 5) may be provided at each of the simulations to indicate whether a participant holds a record at a particular simulation for an age category. By way of example, a red light may indicate that the participant holds first place, a yellow light may indicate that the participant holds second place, and a blue light may indicate that the participant holds third place. The lights may flash when a participant achieves a score that places the participant in a first, second or third place position.

While specific embodiments have been described in detail in the foregoing detailed description and illustrated in the accompanying drawings, those with ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that various modifications and alternatives to those details could be developed in light of the overall teachings of the disclosure. Accordingly, the particular arrangements disclosed are meant to be illustrative only and not limiting as to the scope of the invention, which is to be given the full breadth of the appended claims and any and all equivalents thereof.