Title:
Method and system for locating a lost golf ball
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An object is applied to a golf ball after the golf ball is manufactured for the purpose of allowing the golf ball to be easily located if lost during play in a round of golf. The object is applied to the golf ball without adversely affecting the aerodynamic properties of the golf ball. The object can be applied using Pin Printing technology to at least one dimple of a golf ball. The object applied can be detected by a hand-held device operable to detect one or more properties of the object.



Inventors:
Zanzucchi, Peter John (Princeton Junction, NJ, US)
Bernstein, Jonathan (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/357222
Publication Date:
08/24/2006
Filing Date:
02/21/2006
Assignee:
Blue Marlin LLC
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B57/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
SHAH, MILAP
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MORGAN, LEWIS & BOCKIUS LLP (BO) (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What we claim is:

1. A method of detecting the location of an golf ball, the method comprising: receiving a golf ball; locating an area on the golf ball; transferring an object to the area on the golf ball; detecting a property of the object transferred to the golf ball.

2. The method according to claim 1, wherein locating an area on the golf ball further comprises rotating the golf ball.

3. The method according to claim 1, wherein the area on the golf ball is a dimple.

4. The method according to claim 1, further comprising storing the object in a reservoir

5. The method according to claim 4, further comprising removing the object from the reservoir.

6. The method according to claim 1, wherein the object is one of: a highly reflective substance, a naturally radioactive substance, a RFID chip, and an organic substance.

7. The method according to claim 1, wherein the property includes any one of: reflected light, vapor, radioactivity and RF signal.

8. An apparatus for determining detecting the location of an golf ball comprising: a processor operable to execute computer program instructions; and a memory operable to store computer program instructions executable by the processor, for performing the steps of: receiving a golf ball; locating an area on the golf ball; transferring an object to the area on the golf ball; detecting a property of the object transferred to the golf ball.

9. The apparatus according to claim 8, wherein locating an area on the golf ball further comprises rotating the golf ball.

10. The apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the area on the golf ball is a dimple.

11. The apparatus according to claim 8, further comprising computer program instructions executable by the processor, for removing the object from a reservoir

12. The apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the object is one of: a highly reflective substance, a naturally radioactive substance, a RFID chip, and an organic substance.

13. The apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the property includes any one of: reflected light, vapor, radioactivity and RF signal.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a method, a system and a computer program product for locating a lost golf ball. More particularly, the present invention relates to a method, a device and a computer program product for detecting the location of a lost golf.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Typically, the sport of golf is played on terrain having a variety of characteristics, such as grass, sand, trees, water, a specified distance, etc. It is not uncommon for a golf ball to become lost while playing golf due to the characteristics of the environment in which it is played. Once a golf ball is lost, a substantial amount of time can be spent trying to find it. This results in an increase of playing time for the player who lost the ball, as well as other players playing behind or with the player. In cases where the golf ball cannot be located, the player who lost the ball is accessed a penalty stroke increasing the player's final score. There are a variety of techniques that have been implemented to assist a golfer locate a lost golf ball in a more expedient manner than combing through the area where the golf ball is believed to have been lost. Some techniques implement a golf ball including an electromagnetic signal transmitter that transmits a signal that can be detected by a receiver antenna. Another technique implements a golf ball that has been subjected to an aroma that can be detected by an electronic detection circuit. Yet another technique implements a golf ball with a radioactive core, where the golf ball's radioactive rays can be detected. However each of these techniques require that the golf ball is modified in some capacity during the manufacturing of the golf ball. Because the rules of golf restrict the inclusion of object in a golf ball or the modification of a golf ball, these methods of locating a golf ball are undesirable.

Accordingly, there is a need for a device that detects the location of a golf ball. There is further need for the device to be mobile. There is a further need for the device to detect the location of a golf ball over long distances. There is a need for the device to locate a golf ball without modifying the golf ball at the time of manufacturing. There is a need for the device to apply an object or an amount material to the interior of a golf ball to enable detection of the golf ball. There is a need for the device to apply an object or an amount of material to the exterior of a golf ball to enable the detection of the golf ball. There is a need for the application of the object or the material to not adversely affect the aerodynamic properties of the golf ball. There is a need for the device to decrease the amount of time required to locate an object.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to embodiments of the present invention, a method, a device and a computer program product for detecting the location of a golf ball are provided. The method applies an object to a golf ball without adversely affecting the aerodynamic properties of the golf ball. The object can be applied using Pin Printing technology to at least one dimple of a golf ball.

According to a method of the present invention detecting the location of a golf ball includes receiving a golf ball, locating an area on the golf ball, transferring an object to the area on the golf ball by removing the object from a reservoir of objects, and detecting a property of the object transferred to the golf ball. The object can be one of: a highly reflective substance, a naturally radioactive substance, a RFID chip, and an organic substance. The property detected can include any one of: reflected light, vapor, radioactivity and RF signal.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above described features and advantages of the present invention will be more fully appreciated with reference to the detailed description and appended figures in which:

FIG. 1 depicts an exemplary functional block diagram of a device in which the present invention can find application;

FIG. 2 depicts an exemplary diagram of Pin Printing system depicted in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 depicts an exemplary flow diagram for a method of detecting the location of a golf ball Pin Printed with an object.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is now described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings that show embodiments of the present invention. The present invention, however, may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to embodiments set forth herein. Appropriately, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the present invention.

FIG. 1 depicts a functional block diagram of a system 100 in which the present invention can find application. In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the system 100 is a hand-held device operable to determine the location of a golf ball and apply an object to the golf ball that is detectable by the device. In the FIG. 1 embodiment of the present invention, the system 100 includes a processor (CPU) 102, Pin Printing system 104, detection circuitry 106, memory 110, data 112, display 108, and program 114. In an embodiment of the present invention, Pin Printing system 104 is a separate standalone system from system 100. In the FIG. 1 embodiment, detection circuitry 106 detects a golf ball that has been applied with an object using Pin Printing system 104. The detection circuitry 106 detects the location of the golf ball by monitoring for the properties of the object applied to the golf ball. The objects detected include, but are not limited to, distinctive high vapor pressure organic materials, unregulated materials that exhibit natural radioactivity, phosphors materials, fluorescent materials, highly reflective materials, and RFID chips. In an embodiment of the present invention, the object is applied to the golf ball after the golf ball has been manufactured and is to be used in a round of golf. In an embodiment of the present invention, detection circuitry 106 detects a weak emission of the properties of the object. While the present invention described herein may be described to a particular object, such as a golf ball, it will be understood that this is just an example for illustrative purposes only.

The vapor properties of organic materials may be detected by well known analytical techniques such as mass spectrometry or various types of gas chromatography. The natural radioactivity properties of certain materials, such as clays, marble and thorium compounds, is readily detected by various forms of a Geiger counter. The reflective properties of materials, such as phosphors and other fluorescent substances, may be detected using laser lights sources in the near infrared region (NIR). For example, the backscatter of the laser light can be detected and locate golf ball Pin Printed with such reflective substances. An RFID chip's signal can be detected by the RF receiver antenna that may be incorporated in system 100. The details of ultra high frequency (UHF) RFID chips and detection are given in, e.g., Gildden et al, “Design of Ultra-Low-Cost UHF RFID Tags for Supply Chain Applications, IEEE Communications Magazine, August 2004, 140-150, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

In the FIG. 1 embodiment of the present invention, Pin Printing system 104 applies at least one object into a dimple of a golf ball. In an embodiment of the present invention, an object is applied into a plurality of dimples of a golf ball. In the FIG. 1 embodiment of the present invention, at least one pin in Pin Printing system 104 is inserted into at least one dimple of a golf ball and transfers an object into the at least one dimple. In an embodiment of the present invention, the object transferred to the dimple of the golf ball has a property that is detectable by system 100. The Pin Printing system 104 can be of the type used in biochemistry and described in Schena, Microarray Analysis, Wiley-Liss, 2003, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. The properties of the object are received for further digital signal processing by CPU 102. The CPU 102 is a microprocessor, such as an INTEL PENTIUM® or AMD® processor, but can be any processor that executes program instructions in order to carry out the functions of the present invention. In the FIG. 1 embodiment of the present invention, memory 110, Pin Printing system 104, detection circuitry 106, CPU 102, display 108 and network interface 116 communicate using bus 118.

In the FIG. 1 embodiment of the present invention, the memory 110 is coupled to CPU 102 and stores program 114 and data 112. The data 112 includes, but is not limited to, information pertaining to the properties of objects to be detected and data related to the evaluation of the detected properties. In the FIG. 1 embodiment of the present invention, the program 114 provides the functionality associated with detecting the properties of an object applied to a golf ball and operating Pin Printing system 104, as executed by the CPU 102. In an embodiment of the present invention, the program 114 is designed to detect the properties of objects and presenting the results on display 108

FIG. 2 depicts an exemplary schematic of a Pin Printing system 104 shown in FIG. 1. In an embodiment of the present invention, the Pin Printing system 104 includes an object reservoir 202, pin printer head and printer assembly 204, golf ball 206, stage and stepper motor assembly 208, battery casing 210, Pin Printing system housing 212, door 214, shaft assembly 216 and reservoir door 218. The object reservoir 202 stores objects for application to golf ball 206 using pin printer head and printer assembly 204. The object reservoir 202 can be loaded with objects through door 218. The objects that can be loaded into reservoir 202 include, but are not limited to, highly reflective substances, naturally radioactive substances, RFID chips, and organic substances.

In the FIG. 2 embodiment of the present invention, the motor assembly 208 receives an object, such as a golf ball, and rotates the golf ball in response to feedback received from pin printing head and printer assembly 204. In an embodiment of the present invention, the motor assembly 208 includes a stage and a stepper motor. The stage of motor assembly 208 receives an object, such as a golf ball, for Pin Printing in accordance with the present invention. In an embodiment of the present invention, the stage can have a concave configuration to increase the stability of the object on the stage. Batteries in case 210 provide power to the stepper motor 208 and pin printer head and printing assembly 204.

The door 214 allows for the object to be inserted into Pin Printing system 104 and includes a shaft 216 that centers the golf ball into the concave surface of the stage to allow for wobble-free rotation of the golf ball. In an embodiment of the present invention, the shaft 216 is made from an appropriate plastic, such as nylon, so that the golf ball is supported, but not damaged during Pin Printing. In an embodiment of the present invention, the end of this shaft 216 is concave to better support the golf ball. The Pin Printing system housing 212 houses the components of Pin Printing system 104.

In the FIG. 2 embodiment of the present invention, the pin printer head and printing assembly 204 is a miniaturized robotic device with the ability to move back and forth as well as rotate. In an embodiment of the present invention, the pin printer senses the maximum and minimum in depth of the golf ball surface in order to locate the dimple bottom. This sensing operation is based on feedback provided to the stepper motor 208 so that the stepper motor 208 moves the golf ball back and forth until the pin finds the dimple minimum. Once the minimum is located, the pin printer head rotates to face reservoir 202 and removes a sample of material from the reservoir and prints this material in the center of the dimple of the golf ball through the surface of the golf ball or on the surface of the golf ball. The printing may be repeated several times to provide sufficient material for detection. In an embodiment of the present invention, the pin of pin printing head and printer assembly 204 can be split acting like tweezers or have a capillary core to allow fluid transfer. In an embodiment of the present invention, the pin of pin printing head and printer assembly 204 can be a millimeter or less in diameter and used to transfer small amounts of an object as described herein to the center of dimples on golf balls.

FIG. 3 is an exemplary flow chart for a method of detecting the location of a golf ball Pin Printed with an object. The method begins in step 302. In step 302, an object, such as a golf ball is positioned on a stage of stepper motor. In step 304, the bottom of a dimple on the golf ball is located by a pin printer head. In an embodiment of the present invention, locating the bottom of a dimple on a golf ball includes the pin printer head providing feedback to the stepper motor to move the golf ball back and forth until the pin printer head finds the dimple minimum. In step 306, the pin printer head rotates to face the reservoir storing objects for application to golf ball. In step 308, the pin printer head removes a sample of the objects from the reservoir. In step 310, the pin printer head transfers the object to the golf ball dimple. In an embodiment of the present invention, the object is printed to the exterior surface of the golf ball. In an embodiment of the present invention, the object is printed in the interior of the golf ball though the golf ball's surface. In an embodiment of the present invention, steps 304-310 can be repeated to other dimples of the golf ball. In step 312, the golf ball can be located by detecting the properties of the object.

While specific embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it will be understood by those having ordinary skill in the art that changes can be made to those embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.