Title:
Ball-Shaped Object with Bouncing and Non-Bouncing Features
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An object, such as a ball-shaped object, suitable for games and amusement purposes has a first portion made of an elastic material and a second portion made of a non-elastic material. The combination of the elastic first portion and the non-elastic second portion renders the object to bounce unpredictably upon impacting a solid flat surface.



Inventors:
Rastegar, Jahangir S. (STONY BROOK, NY, US)
Rastegar, Andre T. (STONY BROOK, NY, US)
Rastegar, Jason T. (STONY BROOK, NY, US)
Rastegar, Cyrus T. (STONY BROOK, NY, US)
Spinelli, Thomas (NORTHPORT, NY, US)
TU, Qing (STONY BROOK, NY, US)
TU, Qing (STONY BROOK, NY, US)
TU, Qing (STONY BROOK, NY, US)
Application Number:
12/723629
Publication Date:
09/15/2011
Filing Date:
03/13/2010
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B43/00
View Patent Images:
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20090023521GOLF TEE MARKER SYSTEMJanuary, 2009Macdougall
20060199666Golf driver with selective head weighting systemSeptember, 2006De La
20080207359Practice BatAugust, 2008Gibadlo
20070191124Handle leveraged billiard ball rackAugust, 2007Thorpe
20070049392Extendable billiard cueMarch, 2007Li
20060229147Sport item handle end capOctober, 2006Nusbaum et al.
20070021237Golf putter with reflective head and method of using the sameJanuary, 2007Haack
20090280932Hand implement vibration isolation systemNovember, 2009Tinti
20050107192Rolling Play ToyMay, 2005Desmarais



Foreign References:
GB2401058A
Primary Examiner:
MENDIRATTA, VISHU K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Thomas Spinelli, Esq. (14 Mystic Lane, Northprot, NY, 11768, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An object, comprising: at least a first portion comprising an elastic material; and at least a second portion comprising a non-elastic material.

2. The object according to claim 1, wherein the second portion comprises an impact energy absorbent material.

3. The object according to claim 1, further comprising at least a third portion comprising a semi-elastic material.

4. The object according to claim 1, further comprising a junction surface where the first portion and the second portion are joined to each other.

5. The object according to claim 1, wherein the first portion comprises a first color and the second portion comprises a second color, the first color being different from the second color.

6. The object according to claim 1, wherein the first portion and the second portion comprise a same color.

7. The object according to claim 1, wherein the first portion and the second portion are substantially symmetrical to one another relative to a substantially horizontal axis of the object.

8. The object according to claim 1, wherein the first portion and the second portion are substantially symmetrical to one another relative to a substantially vertical axis of the object.

9. The object according to claim 1, wherein the first portion comprises a plurality of first portions.

10. The object according to claim 9, wherein the second portion comprises a plurality of second portions.

11. The object according to claim 10, wherein each of the plurality of first portions is separated from another of the plurality of first portions by one or more of the plurality of second portions.

12. The object according to claim 1, wherein the second portion comprises a plurality of second portions.

13. The object according to claim 12, wherein the first portion comprises a plurality of first portions.

14. The object according to claim 13, wherein each of the plurality of second portions is separated from another of the plurality of second portions by one or more of the plurality of first portions.

15. A method of playing a game with an object, the object comprising a first portion made of an elastic material and a second portion made of an impact energy absorbent material, the first portion and the second portion having different colors, the method comprising: selectively identifying one of the first portion and the second portion of the object; and impacting, directly or indirectly through an implement, the identified portion of the object.

16. The method according to claim 15, wherein the selectively identifying comprises identifying the first portion of the object and the impacting comprises impacting the first portion with the implement.

17. The method according to claim 15, wherein the selectively identifying comprises identifying the first portion of the object and the impacting comprises kicking the first portion with a foot.

18. The method according to claim 15, wherein the selectively identifying comprises identifying the second portion of the object and the impacting comprises causing the second portion to impact a surface.

19. A method for playing a game with an object, the object comprising a first portion made of an elastic material and a second portion made of an impact energy absorbent material, the first portion and the second portion being indistinguishable from each other, the method comprising; causing the object to impact a surface; counting a number of consecutive times that the first portion of the object impacts the surface before the second portion impacts the surface; and using the number in playing the game.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the using comprises moving a game piece the number of spaces on a game board.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

The present invention relates generally to an object suitable for game and amusement purposes. More specifically, the present invention relates to a ball-shaped object having a portion made of an elastic material and a portion made of a non-elastic material, to implement an irregular and unpredictable bouncing characterization.

2. Description of Related Art

Bouncing balls have been widely used for game and amusement purposes. Traditionally, the bouncing balls are constructed with highly resilient elastomers, such as natural rubber, to exhibit a satisfactory bouncing property, which is substantially unitary and consistent along any radial direction of the ball.

On the other hand, non-bouncing balls have also been known and used in conjunction with the known bouncing balls for game and amusement purposes. The non-bouncing balls are usually made of butyl rubber or other highly impact energy absorbent materials, which offers the balls a non-bouncing property substantially unitary and consistent along any radial direction of the ball.

In use, the bouncing balls and the non-bouncing balls are profiled visually identical and also constructed to provide a same touch feeling for players. The bouncing balls and the non-bouncing balls are mixed together to provide a game kit. A random selected ball from the game kit may bounce like a super ball or essentially not bounce at all. Since the balls look and feel the same, it is easy to cleverly switch the balls or perform other acts to raise questions and laughter.

However, under some game or amusement circumstances, it is desirable and even required to have a bouncing ball, which exhibits anisotropic and inconsistent bouncing or non-bouncing properties along different radial directions of the ball, so as to achieve unexpected bouncing results.

Accordingly, there is a need for a novel ball having bouncing and non-bouncing features to meet the above requirement.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, an object, such as a substantially ball-shaped object, is provided. The object comprises at least a first portion comprising an elastic material and at least a second portion comprising a non-elastic material.

The second portion can comprise an impact energy absorbent material.

The object can further comprise at least a third portion comprising a semi-elastic material.

The object can further comprise a junction surface where the first portion and the second portion are joined to each other.

The first portion can comprise a first color and the second portion can comprise a second color, and the first color is different from the second color.

The first portion and the second portion can comprise a same color.

The first portion and the second portion can be substantially symmetrical to one another relative to a substantially horizontal axis of the object.

The first portion and the second portion can be substantially symmetrical to one another relative to a substantially vertical axis of the object.

The first portion can comprise a plurality of first portions. The second portion can comprise a plurality of second portions. Each of the plurality of first portions can be separated from another of the plurality of first portions by one or more of the plurality of second portions. Each of the plurality of second portions can be separated from another of the plurality of second portions by one or more of the plurality of first portions.

Also provided is a method of playing a game with an object. The object comprises a first portion made of an elastic material and a second portion made of an impact energy absorbent material, the first portion and the second portion having different colors. The method comprises selectively identifying one of the first portion and the second portion of the object and impacting, directly or indirectly through an implement, the identified portion of the object.

The selectively identifying can comprise identifying the first portion of the object and the impacting can comprise impacting the first portion with the implement.

The selectively identifying can comprise identifying the first portion of the object and the impacting can comprise kicking the first portion with a foot.

The selectively identifying can comprise identifying the second portion of the object and the impacting can comprise causing the second portion to impact a surface.

Also provided is a method of playing a game with an object. The object comprises a first portion made of an elastic material and a second portion made of an impact energy absorbent material. The first portion and the second portion are indistinguishable from each other. The method comprises causing the object to impact a surface, counting a number of consecutive times that the first portion impacts the surface before the second portion impacts the surface, and using the number in playing the game.

The using can comprise moving a game piece the number of spaces on a game board.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects and benefits will be made apparent with reference to the following specification and accompanying drawings, where like reference numerals refer to like features across the several views, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a sectional view of a ball-shaped object according to one exemplary embodiment;

FIGS. 2(a)-2(c) is a series of schematic views illustrating an unexpected bouncing result of the ball-shaped object shown in FIG. 1, wherein FIG. 2(a) illustrates a regular bouncing of the object, FIG. 2(b) illustrates a regular non-bouncing of the object and FIG. 2(c) illustrates an unpredictable bouncing of the object;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view of a ball-shaped object according to another exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view of a ball-shaped object according to yet another exemplary embodiment; and

FIG. 5 illustrates a ball-shaped object according to still another exemplary embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, illustrated is a ball-shaped object 10 according to an exemplary embodiment. Specifically, the object 10 is provided with bouncing and non-bouncing structural and material features, to offer unexpected bouncing results. The object 10 can assume any suitable and desirable configuration or profile of a ball, for example, including but not limited to a base ball, a soccer ball, a volleyball, a football, and so on. Alternatively, the object 10 can also be formed to partially assume a ball-shaped profile.

As shown, the object 10 includes a first portion 12 and a second portion 14, joined to each other at a junction surface 16. The first portion 12 is made of an elastic material, including but not limited to elastic rubber. The second portion 14 is made of a non-elastic material, such as an impact energy absorbent rubber. The first portion 12 and the second portion 14 are joined together by any known and suitable means, such as an adhesive layer commonly used in the art to join two rubber materials.

In this exemplary embodiment, the first portion 12 and the second portion 14 each substantially consist of one half of the volume of the object 10, and the junction surface 16 is positioned substantially at the middle of the object 10. However, it should be understood by a person of ordinary skill in the art that the first portion 12 and the second portion 14 can be of any suitable and desirable proportion of the object 10 and any other interfering material can be disposed between the first portion 12 and the second portion 14 depending on the application circumstances of the object 10.

The unexpected bouncing results of the object 10 will be explained referring to FIGS. 2(a)-2(c), wherein FIGS. 2(a), 2(b) and 2(c) depict three different bouncing results of the object 10, respectively.

FIG. 2(a) schematically illustrates the bouncing result of the object 10, when the first portion 12 of the object 10, made of an elastic material, impacts a relatively rigid reference object 15. The reference object 15 can include a flat horizontal surface 17, upon which the first portion 12 of the object 10 impacts. Further, for the purpose of simplicity of explanation, the object 10 impacts the surface 17 in a direction substantially perpendicular to the surface 17, as shown by arrow A in FIG. 2(a). Since the object 10 impacts essentially on its first portion 12 made of an elastic material, the object 10 bounces back, in a direction indicated by a phantom lined arrow A′, to a latitudinal position indicated by a phantom lined circle 10′, depending on the elasticity of the first portion 12. In this case, the object 10 bounces as expected from commonly used elastic balls.

FIG. 2(b) schematically illustrates the bouncing result of the object 10, when the second portion 12 of the object 10, made of a non-elastic material, impacts the surface 17 of the reference object 15. Similarly, for the purpose of simplicity, the second portion 14 of the object 10 impacts the surface 17 in a direction substantially perpendicular to the surface 17, as shown by arrow B in FIG. 2(b). Since the object 10 impacts essentially on its second portion 12 made of a non-elastic material (e.g., impact energy absorbent material), the object 10 does not bounce back or bounces back a very limited distance as compared to the distance the object 10 bounces back when the first portion 12 impacts the surface 17. Accordingly, the object 10 may stay on the surface 17 of the reference object 15, as shown by the phantom lined circle 10″ in FIG. 2(b). In this case, the object 10 does not bounce or bounces very little, as expected from commonly used non-bouncing balls.

FIG. 2(c) schematically illustrates the bouncing result of the object 10, when the object 10 impacts the surface 17 of the reference object 15, by a portion adjacent to the junction surface 16. In this case, the fusion of the elastic material and the non-elastic material adjacent to the junction surface 16 offers the object 15 a mechanical property to bounce in an unexpected direction and to an unexpected height 10′″.

As illustrated in FIG. 2(c), the object 10 impacts the surface 17 in a direction substantially perpendicular to the surface 17, as indicated by the arrow C. Subsequently, the object 10 bounces sideways, in a direction indicated by the phantom lined arrow C′, to a position indicated by the phantom lined circle 10′″. The bouncing back direction C′ of the object 10 is determined by the direction of the net elastic force exerted on the object by the deformation of the first portion 12. Accordingly, the bouncing direction of the object 10 is unpredictable.

The foregoing description in connection with FIGS. 2(a)-2(c) explains the mechanical property of the object 10, with the first portion 12 thereof made of an elastic material and the second portion 14 thereof made of a non-elastic material. In the above, description, for the purpose of simplicity, the object 10 according to the exemplary embodiment is illustrated including a half made of elastic material and another half made of energy absorbent material. However, the object 10 can have other suitable structural variations without departing from the invention, such as those illustrated in FIGS. 3-5 discussed below.

FIG. 3 illustrates a substantially ball-shaped object 20 according to another exemplary embodiment. The object 20 includes a first portion 22 and the second portion 24, made of one or more elastic materials. The first portion 22 and the second portion 24 are substantially symmetrical to each other along a vertical axis YY′ shown in FIG. 3. The elastic materials of the first portion 22 and the second portion 24 are evenly distributed at both the left and right sides of the object 20.

The object 30 further includes a third portion 26, substantially made of one or more non-elastic materials, such as impact energy absorbent materials. The third portion 26 is joined to the first portion 22 along a junction surface 27, and to the second portion 24 along a junction surface 29, through any known means in the art. Accordingly, the third portion 26 is sandwiched between the two elastic portions. The fusion of the elastic and non-elastic materials along the junction surfaces 27 and 29 offers the ball-shaped object 20 unexpected bouncing results when the object 20 impacts a reference object adjacent to the junction surfaces 27 and 29. The first portion 22 and the second portion 24 can be made of different elastic materials having different elasticity, to further enhance the unpredictable bouncing results of the object 20. In addition, the first elastic portion 22 and second elastic portion 24 can be unsymmetrical to each other.

FIG. 4 illustrates a substantially ball-shaped object 30 according to still another exemplary embodiment. The object 30 includes a first portion 32 and the second portion 34, made of one or more elastic materials. The first portion 32 and the second portion 34 are symmetrical to each other along a horizontal axis XX′ shown in FIG. 4. The elastic materials of the first portion 32 and the second portion 34 are evenly distributed at both the upper and lower sides of the object 30.

The object 20 further includes a third portion 36, substantially made of one or more non-elastic materials, such as impact energy absorbent materials. The third portion 36 is formed to have first blind hole 37 and a second blind hole 39, indicated by the phantom lines in FIG. 4, to substantially enclose and receive the first portion 32 and the second portion 34, respectively.

The third portion 36 is joined to the first portion 32 along the surfaces of the first blind hole 37, and to the second portion 34 along the surfaces of the second blind hole 39, through any known means in the art. The fusion of the elastic and non-elastic materials along the surfaces of the first blind hole 37 and the second blind hole 39 offers the ball-shaped object 30 unexpected bouncing results when the object 30 impacts a reference object adjacent to surfaces of the carve outs 37 and 39. The first portion 32 and the second portion 34 can be made of different elastic materials having different elasticity, to further enhance the unpredictable bouncing results of the object 30. In addition, the first elastic portion 32 and second elastic portion 34 can be unsymmetrical to each other.

FIG. 5 illustrates a substantially ball-shaped object 40 according to yet another exemplary embodiment. The object 40 includes a surface having a plurality of first pentagonal portions 42 (illustrated as black portions) and a plurality of second hexagonal portions 44 (illustrated as white), wherein each black pentagonal portion 42 is surrounded by five white hexagonal portions 44, similar to a known configuration of a soccer ball. The first pentagonal portions 42 are made of one or more elastic materials and the second hexagonal portions 44 are made of one or more non-elastic materials, such as impact energy absorbent materials. Similar to the ball-shaped objects 20 and 30, the object 40 offers unexpected bouncing results. Furthermore, it should be understood by a person of ordinary skill in the art that the object 40 can assume any suitable surface pattern, with different portion of the pattern selectively made of elastic or non-elastic materials. For example, the ball-shaped object can have a surface pattern similar to a soccer ball wherein the adjacent polygonal portions are alternatively made of an elastic material and a non-elastic material.

Regarding the elastic or non-elastic materials applied to the ball-shaped object according to the present invention, it should be appreciated by a person of ordinary skill in the art that more than one elastic rubber and/or impact energy absorbent rubber can be used for the construction of the object, each distributed in any desirable manner over the total volume of the ball. The resultant object maintains the mechanical and material properties as explained above in connection with the exemplary embodiments.

Furthermore, depending on the application circumstances, the object can be formed to have predictable and expected bouncing property along certain radial directions of the object or at certain surface regions of the object.

It is further appreciated by a person of ordinary skill in the art that the object can be constructed with different elastic materials having different levels of elasticity and different non-elastic materials having different levels of energy absorbent properties, along different radial directions of the object. For example, the object includes a super elastic portion made of a super elastic material, a semi-elastic portion made of a moderate elastic material, and a non-elastic portion made of an energy absorbent material. Accordingly, a plurality of bouncing modes, similar to the above-described bouncing modes, can be implemented, responsive to an impact.

Regarding the structure of the object, the object can be of any suitable configuration, including but not limited to, a ball, a semi-sphere, a disc, a cone, an elongated shaft and so on. Furthermore, the object can be a solid object, or a hollow object having a wall with desirable thickness. In the latter case, the interior volume of the object can be sealed, or in fluid communication with the environment by one or more ports, through which the interior volume can be filled or pressurized with a fluid medium, such as air.

According to an exemplary embodiment, the object can be constructed to have a uniformed surface color, texture and firmness, such that the portions constructed with highly elastic materials, impact energy absorbent materials or semi-elastic materials cannot be distinguished by the user and/or an observer. Consequently, the user and/or observer are not able to predict the reactions of the object ball responsive to impacts, which make the object suitable for an amusement toy.

On the other hand, the different portions of the surface of the object can be constructed to have different colors, decorations, patterns, textures and so on. The different surface portions are selectively formed with an elastic or non-elastic material, for example, to render the object to be visually or physically distinguishable by the user and/or observer. In that case, the user and/or observer can predict or determine the bouncing results of the object, so as to manipulate the motion of the object according to the user and/or observer's need. This characterization allows the object to be used in competitive games that require the user to train to gain the skill to strike the object at the desired (distinguishable) surface(s) to achieve the desired behavior of the object upon impact. Accordingly, the object can be suitable for a wide variety of competitive games. Exemplary games utilizing this characterization will be described below.

Another aspect discloses a method of playing a game. Different exemplary embodiments according to this aspect are now described with respect to the object 10 according to the first aspect. However, it should be understood by a person of ordinary skill in the art that any suitable variation of the object 10 can also be used to implement the method.

According to another aspect, a method of playing a game is disclosed. The method requires a substantially ball-shaped object, comprising a first portion made of an elastic material and a second portion made of a non-elastic material, such as an impact energy absorbent material, the first portion and the second portion having different colors. The method comprises the steps of selectively identifying one of the first portion and the second portion of the object, and impacting, directly or indirectly through an implement, the identified portion of the object.

According to an exemplary embodiment, the method comprises identifying the first portion of the object and hitting the first portion with a racket to bounce the object a plurality of time. The racket can have a relatively solid and flat surface similar to that of a ping-pong racket. The player tries to hit the elastic portion of object, to bounce the ball up as many times as he/she can. The player needs to control the hitting direction and bouncing direction of the object to achieve a bouncing result as indicated in FIG. 2(a). If the player hits the non-elastic portion of the object, the object would not bounce, and if the player hits the object close to the junction area between the elastic portion and the non-elastic portion, the bouncing direction of the object would be unpredictable, which make it difficult for the player to maintain the bouncing. Once the bouncing of the object terminates, the game is over. Whoever bounces the object more times wins the game. Similarly, the number of bounces before the object does not bounce can be used as a die (or dice) to determine a number for use with another game. For example, a game piece can be moved on a game board the number of spaces equal to the number of bounces of the object before a no-bounce event occurs. Thus, the object can replace a die (or dice) in any game that uses such die (or dice).

According to another exemplary embodiment, the game further requires at least a first player and a second player and a net positioned between the first player and the second player, and the method comprises the first player identifying the first portion of the object, the first player hitting the first portion of the object to send the object over the net and toward the second player, the second player identifying the first portion of the object, and the second player hitting the first portion of the object to send the object over the net and toward the first player. In this embodiment, the object can be formed like a volleyball.

In order to send the object to the opponent, each player needs to identify the elastic portion of the ball and hit the elastic portion of the ball. If a player hits the non-elastic portion, the ball will not bounce and accordingly the player loses a point. If the player hits the ball close to the junction area between the elastic portion and the non-elastic portion, the bouncing direction of the ball would be unpredictable, which makes it difficult for the player to send the ball over the net.

According to still another exemplary embodiment, the method comprises selectively identifying the first portion or the second portion of the object and hitting the identified portion of the object with a racket to send the object toward a target. In this embodiment, the object can be thrown toward a player by another player or a machine, and the target includes a pocket into which the player tries to send the object by hitting the elastic portion of the object or an opening through which the player tries to send the object by hitting the elastic portion of the object.

According to yet another exemplary embodiment, the method comprises selectively identifying the first portion or the second portion of the object and sending the object toward the obstacle to land the identified portion against the obstacle. A player can throw the object against the obstacle, such as a wall, to impact the elastic portion against the wall to achieve a predictable bouncing, so that the player is able to catch the object and throw it again. Alternatively, a player throws the object against the obstacle to land the non-elastic portion or the junction portion of the object onto the wall, to achieve an unpredictable bouncing, so as to make it difficult for an opponent to catch it.

According to still another exemplary embodiment, the game requires a substantially horizontal board with a circular ring attached to the board. The method comprises identifying the first portion or the second portion of the object, impacting the identified portion against the board to achieve a desired bouncing and causing the object to go through the ring. The ring can include a closed bottom forming a container for receiving the objection.

According to still another exemplary embodiment, the method comprises selectively identifying the first portion or the second portion of the object and hitting the identified portion of the object with a bat to achieve a desired trajectory of the object. In this embodiment, the bat can be a baseball bat and the object can be formed like a baseball. A hitter tries to hit desired portions of the ball to achieve desired trajectories, such as hitting the elastic portion of the ball to score a homerun.

According to still yet another exemplary embodiment, the method comprises identifying the first portion of the object, kicking the first portion of the object to send the object over a relatively long distance, identifying the second portion of the object, and kicking the second portion of the object to send the object over a relatively short distance. In this embodiment, the object can be formed as a soccer ball. A player tries to strike the elastic portion of the ball to send it over a long distance to his/her teammates and tries to strike the non-elastic portion of the ball to pass it to an opponent with the ball kept close by.

In summary, the games played with the object can involve chance (i.e., the unpredictable results depending upon if the elastic or non-elastic portion impacts a surface or implement) or involve the skill of the player(s) to identify the elastic and non-elastic portions of the object and selectively impact (or cause an implement to impact) the same.

The present invention has been described with respect to certain exemplary embodiments. Certain alterations and/or modifications will be apparent to those skilled in the art, in light of the instant disclosure, without departing from the spirit or the scope of the invention. These embodiments are offered as merely illustrative, and not limiting, on the scope of the invention, which is defined solely with reference to the following appended claims.