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This application is based on and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/239,002, filed on Sep. 1, 2009 and entitled A WATER DEVICE FOR USE IN A WATER GAME, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
1. Field of the Disclosure
The present disclosure relates to a water-based entertainment device. More specifically, the present disclosure relates to water device for use in a water-based game that allows one or more users to race a stream of water.
2. Related Art
Summer fun has commonly revolved around water-based entertainment. Whether it involves pools or the simple sprinkler in the backyard, parents have often relied on water to entertain children during the hot summer months. Unfortunately, however, even going in the pool or playing in the sprinkler can become routine.
Accordingly, it would be beneficial to provide a new and entertaining water-based game.
It is an object of the present disclosure to provide a water device for use in a water-based game that allows one or more users to race a stream of water at variable speeds.
In an embodiment, a water-based device is provided that includes a valve device having an inlet and an outlet, wherein the inlet is configured to be coupled to a water supply. The valve device is further configured to control the flow of water. A hose is coupled at a first end to the outlet of the valve device, and the hose has at least one inner channel through which the water is able to flow. The hose may be configured with a plurality of openings along one surface. In an embodiment, the hose is a flat hose, and the plurality of openings are along a top surface. Further, a starting member is provided that is coupled to the valve device and that is configured to cause the valve device to stop the water from flowing through the hose. Moreover, a finishing member is provided that is coupled to a second end of the hose, and an indicator is provided that is coupled to the finishing member that indicates when the finishing member is touched by a user or when the water reaches the second end of the hose.
Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of the invention which refers to the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 is an illustration of a water device for use in a water-based game in accordance with an embodiment of the present application;
FIG. 1A is an illustration of a portion of the water device shown in FIG. 1 and includes an aperture adjusting member, in accordance with an embodiment of the present application;
FIG. 2 is a more detailed view of a valve device thereof;
FIG. 3 is a more detailed view of a finishing member thereof; and
FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate alternative embodiments of the water device in accordance with the present application.
In an embodiment, a water-based device is provided that includes at least a hose through which water flows. The hose may be configured, for example, as a flat hose or the like, although other shaped hoses may be suitable in accordance with the teachings herein. Further and in an embodiment, a plurality of openings may be provided in the hose on a top surface, through which a portion of the water sprays. The height at which water sprays through the openings may depend upon, for example, the number of openings and/or the respective diameters thereof. In an embodiment, the water-based device is used as a game, as users race against the flow of water from the point where the water starts flowing through the hose to the end of the hose.
In one or more embodiments, the flow of water through the channel(s) is controlled by a valve device that is operatively coupled to a water source, such as a garden hose. The valve device may be mechanical, hydraulic, electric or a hybrid device. Moreover, the valve device may be activated by an automatic controller. In an alternative embodiment, the valve device is a ball valve that controls water by using a ball that rotates. The water flows freely through the valve when the hole is aligned and when the ball rotates and the hole is not aligned the water flow is stopped.
In an embodiment, the starting member is provided that is coupled to the valve device and may be used as a starting point in a race, for example, against the flow of water from one end of the channel to another. The starting member may be configured with a rocker switch that is coupled to a shut-off valve provided with the valve device to affect the control of water. For example, the starting member may be configured to rock back and forth along a pivot point such that the shut-off valve alternates between the open and closed position, accordingly.
In an embodiment, a finishing member is provided that is coupled to the flat hose at an end opposite to the starting member. The finishing member may be used as an ending point in a race, for example, against the flow of water from one end of the channel to another. The finishing member may be configured with one or more step pads that, when touched, activates an indicator. The indicator indicates that a user has reached the end of the flat hose. In an embodiment, the indicator is also configured to indicate when the water flowing through the channel reaches the end of the flat hose. Moreover and in an embodiment, the indicator indicates whether the user reached the end of the flat hose before the water, or vice-versa. In an embodiment, the finishing member may be provided with a shut off valve that, when actuated, precludes the water from reaching the end of the flat hose. When a user who is racing the water reaches the end of the flat hose before the water and the user touches the finishing member and causes the shut-off valve to close, the water flow is stopped and the indicator indicates the user won the race. Alternatively, if the water reaches the end of the flat hose before the user reaches the finishing member, then the shut-off valve is not closed and the indicator indicates that the water won the race.
FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary embodiment of a water device 10 used in a new water-based game in accordance with an embodiment of the present application. The water device 10 preferably includes a valve device 12 connected to a water supply at an inlet thereof and a flat hose 14 at an outlet thereof. A starting member 16 is preferably connected to the valve device 12 to control the flow of water from the valve device 12 to the flat hose 14. A finishing member 18 is provided at the end of the flat hose 14 and an indicator 19 may be triggered by the finishing member to indicate when the user finishes.
The valve device 12 preferably is connected at an inlet side to a water source, for example, a standard garden hose as illustrated in FIG. 1. The valve device 12 preferably provides for at least three different flow rates through the valve and to the flat hose 14. In one embodiment, three different paths are provided through the valve device 12 to provide the three different flow rates. In another embodiment, an adjustably sized path is provided through the valve device 12 to vary the flow rates. A selector 12a may be provided on the valve device 12 to select the desired flow rate. Preferably, the flow rates correspond to a low, or slow, rate, a medium rate and a high, or fast, rate (See FIG. 2, for example). Additional flow rates may be settable, if desired.
The flat hose 14 preferably includes a plurality of openings 14a that are formed on a top surface thereof, such that water will shoot out the top of the flat hose as the water flows down its length. In one embodiment, the height at which the water projects is adjustable based on one or more flow levels provided by valve device 12. In alternative embodiments, the height at which the water projects is set based on the size of openings 14a that are provided on the top surface of flat hose 14. Users may adjust the diameters of the openings 14a by inserting or removing aperture adjusting members 15 into openings 14a (see FIG. 1A). By modifying the diameters of the openings 14a, such as via aperture adjusting members 15, the speed of water flowing through the flat hose may be altered and the height at which the water sprays through the apertures 14a may be adjusted.
In an embodiment, the water-based device is used as a game, as users race against the flow of water from the point where the water meets the at least one channel to a finishing member, including the point where the channel(s) end.
The starting member 16 is preferably connected to the valve device 12 and is illustrated in further detail in FIG. 2. The valve device 12 may be used to cut off any water flow from the valve device, regardless of what flow rate is set. In a preferred embodiment, the user will step on the starting member 16 at the start line. As long as the pad 16 is pressed down, there is no flow. When the user removes his foot, the flow from the valve device 12 begins at whatever flow rate has been selected. In an embodiment, the starting member 16 is mechanically coupled to a shut-off valve (not shown) that is provided with the valve device 12 and engaged when the user has his foot on the starting member and is disengaged when the user removes his foot from the starting member 16.
In an embodiment, the starting member 16 is provided on either side of the valve device 12. By providing the starting member 16 on either side of the valve device 12, two users can use device 10, such as to race simultaneously against the flow of water and/or against each other.
The progress of the water is evident as the water exits the openings 14a along the top of the flat hose 14. The starting member 16 may include any suitable sensor or may be a physical pad or lever that is manually actuated by a user. Moreover, the starting member 16 may include an electrical powered switch that actuates a solenoid within the valve device 12.
The finishing member 18 is preferably positioned at the end of the flat hose 14 band is illustrated in more detail in FIG. 3. As illustrated, two step pads 18a are formed on either side of the finishing member 18. In a preferred embodiment, when a user touches the pad 18a, an indicator 19 is activated to indicate that the user has reached the end of the flat hose 14. Alternatively or in addition, the indicator 19 is preferably utilized to indicate whether the user or the water reaches the end of the flat hose 14 first. As illustrated herein, the indicator 19 is a flag, however, any suitable indicator may be used. For example, the indicator 19 may sound one or more audible alarms (not shown) that represents the user has reached the end of the flat hose 14. The alarm may be mechanical, such as a bell that rings when water reaches the end of the flat hose 14, or may be electric or electronic, such as a light or digital indicator. The indicator 19 may illuminate one or more light elements, including LEDs (not shown) that represent that the user has reached the end of the flat hose 14. Moreover, a second step pad 18a may be provided on the other side of the flat hose 14 to allow two users to race each other. In this case, the indicator 19 may indicate which user finished first. In addition, as illustrated in FIG. 3, for example, the finishing member 18 may include openings 18b. These openings 18b may be used to spray the user who finishes second with water as a “penalty spray”. Alternatively, the first finisher may be sprayed if desired. Different speeds of the water in the flat hose 14 are obtained by selecting different flow rates through the valve 12.
In one embodiment, a light may also be provided in the valve 12, preferably at the outlet thereof. In this case, the flat hose 14 is preferably substantially translucent such that the light at the outlet of the valve device 12 is visible in the water as it advances down the flat hose. The light preferably includes one or more LEDs, however, any light source may be used.
In an embodiment, the flat hose 14 is configured with two inner channels to enable users to race against two streams of water. Moreover, starting member 14 may be provided with two valve devices 12 to respectively adjust the flow of water within each channel to accommodate users of varying speed and skill level. For example, two racers use device 10 to race against the flow of water. One user who is twelve years old may set one of the valve devices 12 to a fast rate, while a second user who is six years old may set the other valve device 12 to a slow rate. In this way, the water in the channel associated with the twelve-year-old flows faster than the water in the channel associated with the six-year-old, and the race against the water becomes relative to the user and more fair, as a result. It is possible, in this configuration and example, that the six-year-old racer will arrive at the finishing member after the twelve-year-old, but may still win the race in case the water in the channel associated with the twelve-year-old reaches the finishing member before the twelve-year-old, but the water in the channel associated with the six-year-old reaches the finishing member after the six-year-old. Moreover, in this or other embodiments, the starting member 16 may be configured with two shut-off valves that are operable to respectively control the flow of water through each channel. Further, openings 14a may be provided on hose 14 on both channels, thereby indicating for each respective racer a relative position of the water in the hose.
In another embodiment, the hose 14 may be configured with a plurality of chambers, each chamber including at least one of the openings 14a. FIG. 4A illustrates an example of this alternative embodiment and includes the hose 14 provided with a plurality of chambers 30a-30d, each including three openings 14a. In the example shown in FIG. 4, the chambers 30 are separated by respective valves 32a-32d, which may be configured as baffle valves. When the pressure in one chamber 30 reaches a high enough level, the respective baffle valve 32 opens, thereby allowing the flow of water into the next adjacent chamber 30. This enables a timing of water flowing through the hose to be modulated. In the example shown in FIG. 4, valves 32a, 32c and 32d are closed, and valve 32b is open. Thus, and as illustrated, water has entered chamber 30c (the next adjacent chamber), and water is shown flowing through the openings 14a within chamber 32c. In this way, openings 14a can be configured to appear to turn on and turn off at distinct times. Of course, the hose 14 may be configured with more or fewer chambers 30 than are illustrated in FIG. 4.
FIG. 4B illustrates another alternative embodiment, wherein the hose 14 is configured with individual valves 34 that are provided with openings 14a and that allow or prevent the water from spraying through the openings 14a. In the example shown in FIG. 4B, valves 34 are illustrated in a closed position and water is not flowing through the respective openings 14a that are provided with valves 34. Valves 34a, on the other hand, are illustrated in an open position, and water is shown flowing through the respective openings 14a that are provided with the valves 34a. Valves 34 may be configured as small electrically controlled valves, but may be any suitably configured valve. By providing for individual control of each of the valves 34, 34a, flow of water through any of the openings 14a is individually controlled. For example, the valves 34, 34a may be controlled to provide for a flow of water that has an appearance of a wave flowing out of the top surface of the hose 14.
In yet another embodiment, valves 34 may be actuated or otherwise turned on and off by a magnet element (not shown) that travels at least a portion of the length of the hose 14. The magnet element may be provided to shuttle up and down the length of the hose 14 as a function of water pressure, as the water flows through the hose 14. As the magnet passes by each respective valve 34, the valve 34 actuates to an open position and enables the water to flow through the respective opening 14a. By using a magnetic element to control the respective valves 34, the water will appear to “snap up” through the openings 14a in a markedly defined way. Furthermore, as water pressure decreases, the valves 34 return to a closed position. The magnet element may return to the starting member 16 via a cable or other suitable mechanism (not shown).
The device 10 of the present application has been described for use in a game, if desired, the device could simply be used as a sprinkler type cooling device. In a preferred embodiment, the water will continue to flow in the flat hose 14 after the users finish the race such that they can continue to enjoy the device as a sprinkler. In addition, there is no requirement that the race actually be run at all since the device can simply be used as a sprinkler entertainment device if desired.
Although the present invention has been described in relation to particular embodiments thereof, many other variations and modifications and other uses will become apparent to those skilled in the art.