Title:
Method and system for optimiza of baseball bats and the like
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system, method and computer program product for measuring batted ball performance, including measuring bat and ball speeds using two or more speed measuring devices; and determining elevation and azimuth of a batted ball using a target backstop with elevation and azimuth markings.



Inventors:
Krickler, Roger D. (Derry, NH, US)
Application Number:
11/484845
Publication Date:
01/25/2007
Filing Date:
07/12/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
473/453
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MCCLELLAN, JAMES S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIXON PEABODY, LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for measuring batted ball performance, comprising the steps of: measuring bat and ball speeds using two or more speed measuring devices; and determining elevation and azimuth of a batted ball using a target backstop with elevation and azimuth markings.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising providing a database of test results collected by the method and for comparison at levels of play and locality.

3. The method of claim 1, further comprising implementing the method via a computer program product including one or more computer-readable instructions embedded on a computer readable medium and configured to cause one or more computer processors to perform the steps of the method.

4. The method of claim 1, further comprising implementing the method via one or more hardware and software components configured to perform the steps of the method.

5. A system for measuring batted ball performance, comprising: two or more speed measuring devices for measuring bat and ball speeds; and a target backstop with elevation and azimuth markings for determining elevation and azimuth of a batted ball.

6. The system of claim 5, further comprising a database of test results collected by the system and for comparison at levels of play and locality.

7. The system of claim 5, wherein the system includes a computer program product including one or more computer-readable instructions embedded on a computer readable medium and configured to cause one or more computer processors to implement the system.

8. The system of claim 5, wherein the system includes one or more hardware and software components configured to implement the system.

9. A computer program product for measuring batted ball performance including one or more computer-readable instructions embedded on a computer readable medium and configured to cause one or more computer processors to perform the steps of: measunng bat and ball speeds using two or more speed measuring devices; and determining elevation and azimuth of a batted ball using a target backstop with elevation and azimuth markings.

10. The computer program product of claim 9, wherein the one or more computer-readable instructions are further configured to cause the one or more computer processors to perform the step providing a database of test results collected by the computer program product and for comparison at levels of play and locality.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to co-pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/699,385 of Krickler, filed on Jul. 15, 2005, entitled “METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR OPTIMIZATION OF BASEBALL BATS AND THE LIKE,” U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/719,199 of Krickler, filed on Sep. 22, 2005, entitled “METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR OPTIMIZATION OF BASEBALL BATS AND THE LIKE,” and U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/722,009 of Krickler, filed on Sep. 30, 2005, entitled “METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR OPTIMIZATION OF BASEBALL BATS AND THE LIKE,” the entire disclosures of all of which are hereby incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to method and systems for simulating sports performance, and more particularly to a method and system for optimization of the performance of a sport using a bat and a ball.

2. Discussion of the Background

Over the years, methods and systems employing the use of radar(s) in object speed detection in sports and impact detection and targets, and other means for measuring object speed, software, etc., related to sports have been developed. However, such methods and systems fail to provide a robust method and system for optimization of the performance of a sport using a bat and a ball.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, there is a need for a method and system that addresses the above and other problems. The above and other problems are addressed by the exemplary embodiments of the present invention, which provide an improved method and system for optimization of the performance of a sport using a bat and a ball, for example, including bat and ball detection using a plurality of radars within a batting cage and employing a target.

Accordingly, in exemplary aspects of the present invention there is provided a system, method and computer program product for measuring batted ball performance, including measuring bat and ball speeds using two or more speed measuring devices; and determining elevation and azimuth of a batted ball using a target backstop with elevation and azimuth markings.

Still other aspects, features, and advantages of the present invention are readily apparent from the following detailed description, by illustrating a number of exemplary embodiments and implementations, including the best mode contemplated for carrying out the present invention. The present invention is also capable of other and different embodiments, and its several details can be modified in various respects, all without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Accordingly, the drawings and descriptions are to be regarded as illustrative in nature, and not as restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The embodiments of the present invention are illustrated by way of example, and not by way of limitation, in the figures of the accompanying drawings and in which like reference numerals refer to similar elements and in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary Batted Ball Performance Measuring System;

FIGS. 2-6 illustrate exemplary test results, as presented by an exemplary software analysis program or tool;

FIG. 7 illustrates an exemplary Batted Ball Performance Measuring System employing five or more radars;

FIG. 8 illustrates an exemplary Batted Ball Performance Measuring System employing three radars;

FIG. 9 illustrates an exemplary Batted Ball Performance Measuring System employing a pitcher or pitching mechanism;

FIG. 10 illustrates an exemplary Batted Ball Performance Measuring System employing a pitcher or pitching mechanism with tracking radar;

FIG. 11 illustrates an exemplary system for measuring Response, Attention Span, and Reaction Time;

FIG. 12 illustrates different exemplary test environments;

FIG. 13 illustrates exemplary test results shown on a backstop;

FIG. 14 illustrates an exemplary Player and Test Configuration Interface;

FIG. 15 illustrates exemplary test results, including reaction time and response to stimulus;

FIG. 16 illustrates exemplary test results for ball out side the strike zone in the horizontal;

FIG. 17 illustrates exemplary test results for ball out side the strike zone in the vertical;

FIG. 18 illustrates exemplary sensors under the swing path;

FIG. 19 illustrates exemplary five point senor array and bat speed position equations; and

FIG. 20 illustrates exemplary test results for inner and outer bat speed, acceleration and position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The exemplary embodiments describe a method and system, including a software analysis program and process for measuring batted ball performance. The batted ball performance can be determined from measuring the batted ball speed, batted ball elevation and azimuth impact points, bat swing speed, and the like. The bat can be constructed from any suitable material, weight or have any suitable moment of inertia, and the like. The batted ball speed can be a function of the bat material, weight, player's ability to swing the bat, and the like. The bat swing speed can be a function of the player's swing mechanics, strength, bat characteristics, and the like. To normalize the player-bat interface, a number of swings at a ball placed on a tee, and the like, that the player can focus on and strike can be performed. Each batted ball can be measured for batted ball performance. Some of the test data can be averaged and some can be used as independent measurements. For example, measurement averaging can be used on the data to be plotted and independent data can be used to determine individual batter ball performance, swing consistency, and the like.

Referring now to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals designate identical or corresponding parts throughout the several views, and more particularly to FIG. 1 thereof, there is illustrated an exemplary Batted Ball Performance Measuring System, according to an exemplary embodiment. In FIG. 1, the exemplary system can include two or more Doppler radars, a target backstop with elevation marks, for example, shown in 10 degree increments 10, 20, 30 and 40, and azimuth marks labeled Left Field, Left Center, Center, Right Center, and Right Field.

FIGS. 2 through 6 illustrate exemplary test results, as presented by an exemplary software analysis program or tool. The exemplary results illustrate the various types of exemplary data that can be displayed using the exemplary software analysis program.

FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary Batted Ball Speed versus bat type for a stationary ball off the tee (e.g., where pitch speed equals zero). For this example, the bat type is tracked using bat weight. The color code shows the results for each batted ball performance.

FIG. 3 illustrates exemplary Bat Ball Distance for the stationary ball off the tee (e.g., pitch speed equals zero). For this example, the bat type is tracked using bat weight. The color code shows the results for each batted ball performance.

FIG. 4 illustrates exemplary predicted Bat Ball Distance for the pitched ball. In this example, the pitch speed was 40 miles per hour. The plots uses the measure launch angles and bat swing speed to determine the batted ball trajectory. For this example, the bat type is tracked using bat weight. The color code shows the results for each batted ball performance.

FIG. 5 illustrates exemplary Batted Ball Azimuth and Elevation performance. The three sets of color coded data represent the swing consistency of the bats under test.

FIG. 6 illustrates exemplary Batted Ball Azimuth and Elevation impacts on the target backstop of the exemplary system of FIG. 1. The batted ball impacts shown in FIG. 6 correlate to the test results shown in FIG. 5.

An exemplary process, according to the exemplary embodiments, can include a swing technician entering, for example, a bat name, age of a player, height of the player, the bat weight, the bat type, and the like, into a swing analysis test data record of the exemplary software program. The swing technician can select 3 different bats for the player to test. The swing technician places a baseball or softball on the Tee shown in FIG. 1. The player swings the bat striking the ball. The swing technician observes where the ball strikes the backstop to obtain the elevation and azimuth angle information. The swing technician records the elevation and azimuth angle information into the swing analysis test data record. The swing technician records the bat swing speed from the Doppler radar into the swing analysis test data record. The swing technician records the batted ball speed from the Doppler radar into swing analysis test data record. The process can be repeated a number of times (e.g., 5 time) for each bat under test. For each batted ball, the swing analysis technician records the test results. The swing technician enters the test results into the exemplary software.

The exemplary software then can provide (1) the average bat swing speed, the average batted ball speed, (2) the average elevation angle, (3) a plot of batted ball trajectory for the stationary ball (e.g., the ball placed on the tee), (4) a plot of the batted ball trajectory against a pitched ball of a speed determined by the swing technician, wherein the pitch speed can be determined and agreed to between the player and swing technician, (5) a plot of bat swing speed versus bat weight, (6) a plot of batted ball velocity versus bat weight, (7) a plot of the ball impact points on the target backstop, and the like. The exemplary software can also provide the test results in a text format.

FIG. 7 illustrates a further exemplary system employing five or more radars to capture the bat swing speed and batted ball speed. For example, the bat swing speed can be captured by Radar 1 located behind the batter and tee, whereas Radars 2-5 can be located in front of the batter and can be aimed towards the backstop, as shown in FIG. 7.

Advantageously, the batted ball can be detected by one or more of the radars, depending on the path of the ball, wherein the beamwidths of the radars can overlap so as to provide full coverage of the hitting zone. In most cases, the highest reading of the radars can correspond to the most accurate measurement of the batted ball speed.

The position of the radars can be important. For example, to reduce interference between the batter and Radars 2-5, the batter can be positioned far enough behind the Radars 2-5, such that the back and side lobes of the Radars 2-5 do not detect the bat swing.

The position of the tee also can be important. For example, the distance from the backstop and the height of the tee form two legs of a triangle, with the third leg corresponding to the batted ball path, and by observing the ball impact on the backstop, an elevation and launch angle can be determined. In an exemplary embodiment, the configuration shown in FIG. 7 can be about 20′ deep by 12′ wide by 10′ tall, and bands on the backstop can be configured to represent areas for determining ball impact angles, plus or minus a predetermined tolerance.

FIG. 8 illustrates an alternative to the exemplary system of FIG. 7, wherein the depth can be reduced from 20′ to about 12′, and the width can be reduced from 10′ to 5′, corresponding to about a 12′×5′×10′ system configuration. Advantageously, the reduction in width allows for the deletion of Radars 4 and 5, as shown in FIG. 8.

With the exemplary configuration of FIG. 8, the remaining forward Radars 2 and 3 can detect the batted ball, wherein Radar 2 can be configured to cover the upper half of the backstop, and Radar 3 can be configured to cover the lower half of the backstop. Although the reduction in width may limit the amount of azimuth angle information, full elevation angles can still be measured, as with the larger system configuration of FIG. 7.

In an exemplary embodiment, the enclosure for Radars 2 and 3 can be lined with an RF absorbing material, and the like. The addition of the RF absorbing material can be used to reduce the signal strength of the back and side lobes of the Radars 2 and 3 to such a point that the bat swinging behind Radars 2 and 3 is not detected. Advantageously, with the addition of the RF absorbing material, the forward Radars 2 and 3 can accurately measure the batted ball speed without the interference from the bat swung by the batter, even when the batter is located closer to the forward Radars 2 and 3.

In further exemplary embodiments, rather than employing a tee, an actual pitcher or pitching mechanism can be employed, for a more realistic effect. With such embodiments, additional radars can be employed as needed to measure pitch speed, and the like.

FIG. 9 illustrates an exemplary embodiment, as previously described, wherein the stationary ball on the batter's tee can be replaced with a live pitch, via a human or robotic pitcher, pitching machine, and the like. Accordingly, the live pitch can come from a person or robot throwing the ball (e.g., a pitcher), a pitching machine, etc., wherein within the exemplary software the pitch speed, which was previously entered by the end user as an assumed value can be replaced with an actually measured value. By adding a pitch speed radar to measure the actual pitch speed, the actual pitch speed can be employed for a more realistic environment and analysis. In an exemplary embodiment, the measurements can be repeated for different bat types, ball types, and the like, and comparisons can made between the batted ball performance and bat type, ball type, etc.

FIG. 10 illustrates another exemplary embodiment, wherein the batting cage environment can be replaced with a tracking radar, advantageously, providing a more realistic baseball or softball environment, and the like. As shown in FIG. 10, the tracking radar and the swing speed radar can be connected to a computer, and the like, wherein the tracking radar can be used to measure the pitch speed of the ball, the batted ball speed, and the like, and the swing speed radar can be used to measure the speed of the bat, and the like. For example, the tracking radar can be used to track and measure the batted ball throughout the complete flight of the batted ball, and can interface with the computer, which can record the batted ball position (e.g., in x, y, z coordinates), the batted ball acceleration, the batted ball speed, and the like.

In an exemplary embodiment, the data from both the tracking and swing speed radars can be used to determine the trajectory (e.g., 2D plots, 3D plots, etc.), batted ball speed, batted ball acceleration, bat swing speed, and the like. Advantageously, such measurements can be repeated for different bat types, ball types, and the like, and comparisons can be made between the batted ball performance and bat type, ball type, etc.

Accordingly, the exemplary embodiments, advantageously, can determine the bat swing speed, batted ball speed, launch angle (e.g., determined from target backstop with azimuth and elevation marks) of a player's bat-ball impact performance. The exemplary embodiments can determine the batted ball performance for an individual player, and can be configured using hardware and/or software to determine the batted ball performance for each individual batted ball under test. The exemplary embodiments can include two or more Doppler radars to measure bat swing speed, batted ball speed, and the like. The radars can be independent of each other and can measure the Doppler shift in frequency caused by the movement of the bat and the ball through the radar beams. The readout from the radar can be in miles per hour or kilometer per hour.

The ball can be placed on a tee for the batter to focus on, swing at and strike with the bat. The backstop marked with elevation readouts can be used to determine launch angle. By observing where the ball impacts the target backstop, a reasonable estimate can be made as to the launch angle. The distance between the tee and the target backstop can be short, advantageously, reducing launch angle error. The backstop marked with azimuth readouts can be used to determine azimuth angle. By observing where the ball impacts the target backstop, a reasonable estimate can be made as to the azimuth angle. The distance between the tee and the target backstop can be short, advantageously, reducing azimuth angle error. Advantageously, the combination of both azimuth and elevation impact points can be used to determine swing consistency.

The test data can be recorded on a form for data entry into the exemplary software upon completion of the bats under test. The test data can be entered into the exemplary software either manually or automatically for analysis. The exemplary software can determine the batted ball performance for each bat under test. The end user can compare test results for each bat, as to distance, swing consistency, bat swing speed, predicted batted ball distance under a pitched ball condition with a pitch speed greater than zero, and the like. The end user can vary pitch speed and use previously measured test data to predict batted ball performance for each bat under test.

The test results for each player can be saved by the exemplary software and used later for comparison to track performance of players over time, and the like. As the player's swing mechanics and strength change over time, the analysis can be repeated and the various data sets compared. Advantageously, the comparison can be used to show if a change is required to improve the batted ball performance of a player.

The exemplary embodiments can be useful for comparing batted ball performance for various bat weights and types (e.g., aluminum versus wood, different moments of inertia), and the like. For example, players who are using too heavy or too light a bat can be identified. The exemplary embodiments can be used by a coach to determine which player has the best batted ball performance, which bat provided the best results, and the like. The coach can use the exemplary embodiments to determine the best batted ball performance on a player-by-player basis to determine player hitting order, and the like. The exemplary embodiments can be used by hitting coaches to determine how effective training is for swing mechanics, and the like. Hitting coaches can use launch angle information to determine which player is or is not making contact with the ball effectively. The exemplary embodiments can be used on game day to see if adjustments to equipment are needed before game time. Hitting coaches using the target backstop and elevation marks can determine a player's swing consistency. Hitting coaches can estimate distance based on launch angle for various pitch speeds. Hitting coaches can determine what bat swing speed can be employed for various weighted bats, for example, to hit home runs. Parents and players can use the exemplary embodiments, for example, to determine which bat to purchase. Advantageously, the exemplary embodiments can be used for the above and various many other uses, and the like.

The exemplary embodiments can include the exemplary software that analyzes batted ball performance based on measured data taken as part of the swing analysis. The analysis can be conducted on any suitable baseball or softball bat, and the like. Accordingly, although the exemplary embodiments are described in terms of applications to baseball, softball, and the like, the exemplary embodiments can also be applied to various other sports that involve a bat, club or stick, and ball (e.g., as spherical object), such as cricket, field hockey, tennis, golf, and the like.

The exemplary embodiments can combine first and second sets of information to determine the batted ball performance for a baseball or softball bat under test, and the like. For example, the first set of information that can be entered can be user defined inputs, including (i) characteristics of the bats, such as model, type, material (e.g., aluminum or wood), weight, length or moment of inertia, (ii) player information name, age, weight and height, a selected a pitched ball speed (e.g., from 0 to 120 miles per hour), and the like. The second set of information can be measured data, including bat swing speed, batted ball speed, elevation impact point (e.g., used to determine the launch angle), azimuth impact points (e.g., used to determine swing consistency), and the like. The ball impact angles can be defined by where the ball hits the target backstop in relation to the elevation and azimuth markings labeled on the backstop, for example, as shown in FIG. 6.

Thus, a software analysis program combined with a system to measure baseball and or softball batted ball performance. Similar games involving a stick, club, bat and spherical object (a ball) can be analyzed as well. The system will measure the bat swing speed of the player, the elevation and azimuth angles of the batted ball and the speed of the batted ball. The system uses Doppler radars to measure bat swing speed and batted ball speed. The observance of elevation and azimuth batted ball impacts serve to determine trajectory launch angles. The software using the measured data will plot batted ball performance. For each bat tested the software will plot the batted ball flight, batted ball velocities, batted ball impact points, and bat swing speeds. The software includes a user defined pitch speed which when used with batted ball performance can predict the batted ball trajectory. The software will plot the batted ball trajectories using pitch speed and the measured data to provide batted ball performance against a pitched ball.

The exemplary embodiments can include other means to detect bat swing speed, for example:

(1) GPS installed in the bat: used to measure distance and time to determine speed.

(2) RF emitter installed in the bat: a detector can measure RF energy, positional data, and time to determine speed.

(3) Light beams shooting up or down over the batter and swing path: As the bat passes through the light beams, a detector can measure the interrupt and the time difference between the interrupt can be measured to determine the speed.

(4) Microwave energy emitted from a transmitter shooting up or down over the batter and swing path: As the bat passes through the microwave energy, a detector can measure the interrupt and the time difference between the interrupt can be measured to determine the speed.

(5) Use of microphones (e.g., an array) that can detect the sound of the bat as it moves through the air. Measuring the Doppler shift of the sound waves, the speed of the bat can be derived.

(6) Use of multiple radar beams (e.g., an array) that can triangulate the position of the bat and time tag. The positional and time data can be used to calculate the bat speed.

(7) Use of laser beams that can triangulate (e.g., an array) the position of the bat and time tag. The positional and time data can be used to calculate the bat speed.

(8) High speed photography with time tag information can be used to determine bat speed. The photos can indicate position and time data that can be used to calculate bat speed.

The exemplary embodiments can include other means to detect batted ball speed, for example:

(1) GPS installed in a ball: used to measure distance and time to determine speed.

(2) RF emitter installed in a ball: a detector can measure RF energy, positional data, and time to determine speed.

(3) Light beams shooting up or down covering the paths the batted ball can take: As the ball passes through the light beams, a detector can measure the interrupt and the time difference between the interrupt can be measured to determine the speed.

(4) Microwave energy emitted from a transmitter shooting up or down covering the paths the batted ball can take: As the ball passes through the microwave energy, a detector can measure the interrupt and the time difference between the interrupt can be measured to determine the speed.

(5) Use of microphones (e.g., an array) that can detect the sound of the ball as it moves through the air. Measuring the Doppler shift of the sound waves, the speed of the bat can be derived.

(6) Use of multiple radar beams (e.g., an array) that can triangulate the position of the ball and time tag. The positional and time data can be used to calculate the ball speed.

(7) Use of laser beams (e.g., an array) that can triangulate the position of the ball and time tag. The positional and time data can be used to calculate the ball speed.

(8) High speed photography with time tag information can be used to determine ball speed. The photos can indicate position and time data that can be used to calculate ball speed.

The exemplary embodiments can include other means to determine elevation and azimuth angles, for example:

(1) The target backstop can include an electronic mesh or grid in both the vertical and horizontal directions. When the ball strikes the backstop, the grid location can be detected or determined. The angles can be derived by knowing the location of the tee and its relation to the impact point on the target backstop.

(2) The target backstop can include lights located within the backstop in a mesh or grid like layout. When the ball strikes the backstop, the grid location can be detected or determined by the illumination of the light. The angles can be derived by knowing the location of the tee and its relation to the impact point on the target backstop.

(3) The target backstop can include speakers and distinct sounds located within the backstop in a mesh or grid like layout. When the ball strikes the backstop, the grid location can be detected by the particular sound emitted. The angles can be derived by knowing the location of the tee and its relation to the impact point on the target backstop. The lights can include LEDs located on or off the target backstop.

(4) Use of microphones in an array that can detect the sound of the ball makes with the backstop. Measuring the Doppler shift of the sound waves, the location of the ball impact can be derived.

(5) The use of a projector displaying a grid/mesh of the target backstop can be used to determine location based on impact point of the ball. This technique can use a projected grid instead of a grid as part of the target backstop.

(6) High speed photography of impact points can be used to post-process the ball impact. Using the impact point and tee location, elevation and azimuth angles can be determined.

In the context of the present invention, a ball can include an object, which is propelled to the near vicinity of a player and/or at which the player swings a bat, and the like; a bat can include the piece of material with which the player swings and, upon occasion, makes contact with the ball; the batted ball can include the ball after collision with the bat; the cosine effect can include the angle between the radar and the target direction of travel referring to FIG. 6; a player can include a person who is using the exemplary embodiments, for example, to improve their hitting ability using batted ball performance as a method of feedback, the bat swing speed, batted ball speed and azimuth and elevation impact points of which is being measured by the exemplary embodiments.

Accordingly, novel features of the exemplary embodiments can include the exemplary software using the measured data to plot batted ball trajectories for a stationary ball (e.g., a ball placed on a Tee), for a pitched ball (e.g., a ball traveling toward the batter), and the like. For example, the pitched ball trajectory can employ the measured elevation data for the initial launch angle and the incoming pitch speed to determine a predicted ball trajectory. The ball speed can be determined by the user. In addition to plotted test results, for example, easy to read text-based comments can be provided to help explain the meaning of the graphical test results, and the like.

Novel features of the exemplary embodiments can include obtaining the bat swing speed before bat-ball impact, at bat-ball impact, after bat-ball impact, and the like, wherein the bat swing speed can be measured, for example, with a Doppler radar, and the like, located behind the tee holding the ball as shown in FIG. 1.

Novel features of the exemplary embodiments can include obtaining the batted ball speed after impact with the bat, wherein the batted ball speed can be measured, for example, with a Doppler radar located in front of the tee holding the ball. The location of the radar can employ compensation due to the off angle measurement, wherein such an effect is known as the cosine effect. To derive a more accurate batted ball speed, the cosine error can be determined and added to the measure batted ball speed from the Doppler radar.

Novel features of the exemplary embodiments can include obtaining the batted ball launch angle after bat-ball impact, for example, by using a target (e.g., a backstop) with elevation marks, wherein the elevation marks can range from 0 to 90 degrees.

Novel features of the exemplary embodiments can include obtaining the batted ball azimuth angle after bat-ball impact, for example, by using a target (e.g., a backstop) with azimuth marks, wherein the azimuth marks can labeled Left Field, Left Center, Center, Right Center, and Right Field.

Novel features of the exemplary embodiments can include graphing of the measured batted ball performance from a single bat or multiple bats, for example, wherein up to three different batted ball performance results can be displayed simultaneously.

Novel features of the exemplary embodiments can include graphing the test results, including the batted ball trajectory for a stationary ball (e.g., ball hit from the tee with a pitch speed of zero), and the predicted batted ball trajectory with a pitch speed (e.g., a ball thrown from a pitcher or pitching machine with a speed of greater than zero). Using the measured batted ball speed and elevation launch angle information, the predicted batted ball trajectory can be plotted for a pitch speed. Scatter plots showing batted ball impact points can be used to derive a swing consistency plot. The graphical test results also can include bat swing speed versus bat characteristics, such as weight, type (e.g., aluminum versus wood) length, and/or different moments of inertia.

Novel features of the exemplary embodiments can include providing bat length information, as it pertains to bat weight and barrel size.

Novel features of the exemplary embodiments can include providing textual information on each batted ball performance measurement.

Novel features of the exemplary embodiments can include determining batted ball performance using user defined input conditions and measured test data. The user defined input data can include bat characteristics, such as model, type, material (e.g., aluminum or wood), weight, length or moment of inertia and incoming pitch speed. The measured test data can include bat swing speed, batted ball speed, elevation impact points, and azimuth impact points.

Novel features of the exemplary embodiments can include determining the performance for each batted ball tested and providing the test results.

Novel features of the exemplary embodiments can include the radar measurements being recorded and entered into the exemplary software.

Novel features of the exemplary embodiments can include calculating the predicted batted ball trajectory using the incoming ball speed, coefficient of restitution, bat characteristics; mass, length, ball mass, air resistance, and the effects of gravity.

The batted ball performance as a function of swing speed is further analyzed by measuring the swing reaction time. For example, using one or more sensors in and around the swing zone the time and position of the bat can be measured. The example that follows is for baseball, however the measurement system can also be used with any other suitable sports or applications where a bat or club and ball or the like is used.

The system with the addition of sensors (sensor types included but no limited too; video, photographic, micro phonic, photoelectric, laser, ultrasonic, Doppler, RF, light curtain, break thru beam, reflective beam or other wireless type) located under the bat swing path and in the batter box can measure the reaction time of the player's hands and feet. The batted ball speed is measured by the Doppler radars. The placement of the sensors is shown in FIG. 11. The sensors are connected to the computer via a data and power cable (and/or via wireless devices) where a signal can be detected to indicate that the player swung the bat and the point in time when the bat was detected by the sensor. The time difference between the appearance of the baseball icon and the bat detection signal is the reaction time of the individual.

The reaction time is related to a stimulus which can be similar to those described, for example, in FIGS. 7, 8, 9, and 10 where a real ball is struck. The start time can be in reference to the start of the ball traveling toward the batter or an arbitrary start signal or sound. The system can also be used without using a physical ball in further exemplary embodiments.

As shown in FIG. 11, a projected strike zone on the back stop is adjustable to match the player's physical size and strike zone. The computer can queue the player that a ball (e.g., a ball image) is about to appear by placing a ‘ready’ icon on the screen. In FIG. 11, the icon can be black dot located in the upper left of the strike zone. The icon can be placed in the upper left hand comer representing a right-handed pitcher and similarly in the upper right-hand comer representing a left-handed pitcher. A dot in these locations can represent the ball release from the pitched hand. The dot image may also take the form of but limited to video, photographic, sound or lights.

Shortly after the appearance of the dot image a baseball image (e.g., picture, art, video, etc.) can appear. The baseball then can appear either in or out side of the strike zone. The player's response to these image locations can be recorded. The results can indicate a player's ability to identify the location of the ball in relation to the strike zone and then either respond or not. If the ball is within the bounds of the strike zone and the player swings the bat a proper response can be recorded. If the player does not swing an incorrect response can be recorded. If the location of the ball is outside the strike zone and the player swings the bat an incorrect response can be recorded. If the player does not swing a proper response can be recorded. The intent is to measure the player's spatial recognition of the stimulus and their response with and without external distractions. On the event where the player swings the bat, the hand and foot reaction time can be measured and recorded.

The test condition can be changed by changing the scenery (e.g., different backstops, etc.), lighting conditions, sounds, and the like. To illustrate the various conditions, FIG. 12 shows candidate changes. By changing the test environment, the response, spatial separation, recognition and reaction time measurements can be repeated and compared to the test results with a less complicated test configuration.

The test results can be captured by the computer for analysis and archiving data. The test data can also appear on the back stop as instant feedback to the player. The test results can include the correctness to the stimulus, the reaction time, and the position of the ball during at the time of the swing, if appropriate, batted ball speed, and the like. The position of the ball represents the location between the origin of the ball flight (e.g., pitchers mound) and the terminal point of the ball flight (e.g., home plate). The player can determine if the swing was to early or late or just in time. The concept of instant feedback is shown in FIG. 13. The test results can also be shown for the case where a physical ball in not used. In this case, the batted ball speed need not be measured.

The software for the measurement system can include a user friendly interface to capture player information, the test environment and conditions, control system timing, record and display test results, and the like. The software can include the capability to self calibrate with the host computer and which will ensure accurate timing and test results.

The user interface can capture the player's information and test set up. The player information can be categorized and used to compare individual player skills to the data set that best matches the player information, including age, gender, corrective lens, etc. The test set up can set test condition's under which the measurement can be performed and recorded.

The end user can configure the test conditions by selecting from a menu of options, for example, as shown in FIG. 14. The end user can enter the pitch speed, bat characteristics used for the measurement, and the like. Upon completion of the player and test condition entries, the end user can start the test.

The measurement starts with a notice to the player to get ready to swing. An icon can appear shortly before the baseball image appears. When the baseball image appears, the player can assess whether the ball is inside or outside the strike zone. This can be accomplished by noticing the positional relationship of the baseball image to the strike zone image. If the baseball image is within the strike zone, the correct response can be to swing and the reaction time can be recorded. If the baseball image is outside the strike zone and the player swings, this can be recorded as incorrect response. If the baseball image is outside the strike zone and the player does not swing, that can be recorded as a correct response. If the baseball image is inside the strike zone and the player does not swing, that can be recorded as an incorrect response. A database can store the test results for each player and which can be retrieved for further analysis.

The test results can be sorted and analyzed in various ways depending on the analysis sought. A exemplary set of test results is shown in FIG. 15, including reaction times, correct and incorrect responses, how the individual compares to his/her peers, and the like.

A more comprehensive analysis can show the results against balls thrown outside the strike zone, for example, as shown in FIGS. 16 and 17. For example, the results can show a player's affinity for a particular ball location.

The measurement system and software analysis provide the end user with swing mechanic test results for actual measurements. The benefits of the additional sensors to the batted ball measurement can provide test data, for example, that can determine:

The player's ability to know their strengths and weakness on ball recognition

The player's ability to know their strengths and weakness on ball recognition under adverse conditions

The player's ability to know their strengths and weakness on spatial separation

The player's to visualize their strike zone

The player's to know the reaction time and compare against ball location

The coaches will know each players ability and where to provide more instruction

The coaches can optimize their line up know each player's test results

Individual test results can be compared to a larger database which provides a ranking on the individual compared this his/her peers

Parents, and Coaches will know how the player ranks to the “NORM”

Hitting coaches will know if a player is more prone to swing a bad pitches

Hitting coaches will know what distracts a player, colors, lights, and or sound

The batted ball measurement system can measure batted ball speed and acceleration through the swing path. The system configuration can include multiple sensors (e.g., video, photographic, micro phonic, photoelectric, laser, ultrasonic, Doppler, RF, light curtain, break thru beam, reflective beam or other wireless type, and the like, sensors) projecting upward and under the swing path (e.g., home plate), as shown in FIG. 18. The difference in detection times can be used to calculate the handle speed and acceleration, the barrel speed and acceleration, the bat orientation, and the like.

Using time and space techniques, different segments of the bat can be measured to determine inner and outer bat swing speeds, accelerations, bat orientation, bat height, and the like. The differences in time with a known distance between sensors can be used to calculate the speeds. Various sensor arrays can be employed, including a five point array and equations, as shown in FIG. 19.

The inner and outer bat acceleration can be calculated using the known distance between the sensors and the speed squared. The bat orientation can be determined by comparing time difference between sensors. For example, using sensor number 1 as a reference, the time difference between sensors 2 and 3 can determine if the handle or the barrel of the bat lead or lag one to the other. Sensors 4 and 5 can used to determine the same information later in the swing. A textual form of the test results is shown in FIG. 20.

The height of the bat when it crosses over the sensor can be measured by dividing the total travel time of the sensor signal by the speed of the sensor signal. The basic principle is analogous to the radar range equation.

The measured result are used to calculate batted ball performance, including ball trajectory for the bat under test, and the like. Advantageously, the data collected can provide a better choice of bat to batted ball performance for the individual.

Advantageously, the data collected for bat type and weight, bat swing speed, batted ball speed, launch angle, proper response to stimulus, reaction time for both hand and foot, and the like, can be stored to archive the test and for comparison. The stored data can represent a running collection of tests used as a local, state, or nationwide database. The comparison can be to the same player of 2 or more tests to measure individual improvements. The comparison can be against a local, state or national set of criteria selected by the user for comparison. Such difference can point how the individual ranks among his or her peers, and the like. Major league teams can use the difference to make a more informed decision on who to draft for their team.

The above-described devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments can include, for example, any suitable servers, workstations, PCs, laptop computers, PDAs, Internet appliances, handheld devices, cellular telephones, wireless devices, other devices, and the like, capable of performing the processes of the exemplary embodiments. The devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments can communicate with each other using any suitable protocol and can be implemented using one or more programmed computer systems or devices.

One or more interface mechanisms can be used with the exemplary embodiments, including, for example, Internet access, telecommunications in any suitable form (e.g., voice, modem, and the like), wireless communications media, and the like. For example, employed communications networks or links can include one or more wireless communications networks, cellular communications networks, G3 communications networks, Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTNs), Packet Data Networks (PDNs), the Internet, intranets, a combination thereof, and the like.

It is to be understood that the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments are for exemplary purposes, as many variations of the specific hardware used to implement the exemplary embodiments are possible, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the relevant art(s). For example, the functionality of one or more of the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments can be implemented via one or more programmed computer systems or devices.

To implement such variations as well as other variations, a single computer system can be programmed to perform the special purpose functions of one or more of the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments. On the other hand, two or more programmed computer systems or devices can be substituted for any one of the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments. Accordingly, principles and advantages of distributed processing, such as redundancy, replication, and the like, also can be implemented, as desired, to increase the robustness and performance of the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments.

The devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments can store information relating to various processes described herein. This information can be stored in one or more memories, such as a hard disk, optical disk, magneto-optical disk, RAM, and the like, of the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments. One or more databases of the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments can store the information used to implement the exemplary embodiments of the present inventions. The databases can be organized using data structures (e.g., records, tables, arrays, fields, graphs, trees, lists, and the like) included in one or more memories or storage devices listed herein. The processes described with respect to the exemplary embodiments can include appropriate data structures for storing data collected and/or generated by the processes of the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments in one or more databases thereof.

All or a portion of the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments can be conveniently implemented using one or more general purpose computer systems, microprocessors, digital signal processors, micro-controllers, and the like, programmed according to the teachings of the exemplary embodiments of the present inventions, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the computer and software arts. Appropriate software can be readily prepared by programmers of ordinary skill based on the teachings of the exemplary embodiments, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the software art. Further, the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments can be implemented on the World Wide Web. In addition, the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments can be implemented by the preparation of application-specific integrated circuits or by interconnecting an appropriate network of conventional component circuits, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the electrical art(s). Thus, the exemplary embodiments are not limited to any specific combination of hardware circuitry and/or software.

Stored on any one or on a combination of computer readable media, the exemplary embodiments of the present inventions can include software for controlling the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments, for driving the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments, for enabling the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments to interact with a human user, and the like. Such software can include, but is not limited to, device drivers, firmware, operating systems, development tools, applications software, and the like. Such computer readable media further can include the computer program product of an embodiment of the present inventions for performing all or a portion (if processing is distributed) of the processing performed in implementing the inventions. Computer code devices of the exemplary embodiments of the present inventions can include any suitable interpretable or executable code mechanism, including but not limited to scripts, interpretable programs, dynamic link libraries (DLLs), Java classes and applets, complete executable programs, Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) objects, and the like. Moreover, parts of the processing of the exemplary embodiments of the present inventions can be distributed for better performance, reliability, cost, and the like.

As stated above, the devices and subsystems of the exemplary embodiments can include computer readable medium or memories for holding instructions programmed according to the teachings of the present inventions and for holding data structures, tables, records, and/or other data described herein. Computer readable medium can include any suitable medium that participates in providing instructions to a processor for execution. Such a medium can take many forms, including but not limited to, non-volatile media, volatile media, transmission media, and the like. Non-volatile media can include, for example, optical or magnetic disks, magneto-optical disks, and the like. Volatile media can include dynamic memories, and the like. Transmission media can include coaxial cables, copper wire, fiber optics, and the like. Transmission media also can take the form of acoustic, optical, electromagnetic waves, and the like, such as those generated during radio frequency (RF) communications, infrared (IR) data communications, and the like. Common forms of computer-readable media can include, for example, a floppy disk, a flexible disk, hard disk, magnetic tape, any other suitable magnetic medium, a CD-ROM, CDRW, DVD, any other suitable optical medium, punch cards, paper tape, optical mark sheets, any other suitable physical medium with patterns of holes or other optically recognizable indicia, a RAM, a PROM, an EPROM, a FLASH-EPROM, any other suitable memory chip or cartridge, a carrier wave or any other suitable medium from which a computer can read.

While the present inventions have been described in connection with a number of exemplary embodiments, and implementations, the present inventions are not so limited, but rather cover various modifications, and equivalent arrangements thereof.