Title:
Manners of Using a Sports Ball Parameter Determining Instrument
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system and an apparatus for providing data relating to a sports club/bat and/or a sports ball before, during or after launch. The data may be used for testing the club/ball or for introduction into a video feed of the club/ball in order to enhance TV broadcasting of sports tournaments or training. Additionally, games may be played where ball data are projected into a virtual reality, such as a virtual golf course, so that the ball path in the virtual reality may be seen. The system is suitable for e.g. golf, cricket, and baseball.



Inventors:
Tuxen, Fredrik (Horsholm, DK)
Application Number:
11/793993
Publication Date:
10/23/2008
Filing Date:
12/13/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
73/495, 473/223, 473/407, 700/91
International Classes:
A63B69/36; A63B59/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HENRY, THOMAS HAYNES
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HARNESS, DICKEY & PIERCE, P.L.C. (RESTON, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A system comprising: an apparatus for providing data relating to a golf club and/or a golf ball before, during, or after impact, the apparatus outputting data relating to a movement of the club and/or ball, means for providing a video signal relating to the golf club and/or ball before, during, or after impact, means for providing data relating to the data in the video signal.

2. A system comprising an apparatus for providing data relating to a golf club and/or a golf ball before, during, or after impact, the apparatus outputting data relating to a movement of the club and/or ball, the system further comprising means for gathering data relating to multiple clubs, balls, launchings, persons or the like and providing comparative data relating to the data.

Description:

The present invention relates to the use of measuring instruments for use in relation to sports equipment, such as golf balls and golf clubs, or balls and clubs/bats used in cricket or baseball.

Golf parameters have been measured using a number of apparatus, as may be seen in WO03/032006, WO 91/06348, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,700,204, 6,547,671, 5,092,602, 4,509,052, 3,798,644, 6,133,946, 5,489,099, 6,244,971, 6,456,232, and 5,495,249 in JP-A-6126015 and 8266701 as well as the present applicants three co-pending applications.

Launching a sports ball, a number of parameters may be of interest in relation to the club/bat or the ball during launch, flight, landing, bouncing and final resting position.

Such parameters may be:

    • Club/bat path and velocity (such as the position/velocity/acceleration determined in 2 or 3 dimensions)
    • Ball launch data (position/velocity/acceleration/spin/drag/lift etc determined in 2 or 3 dimensions),
    • Ball Flight data (position/velocity/acceleration/spin/drag/lift etc. determined in 2 or 3 dimensions)
    • Ball landing data (position/velocity/acceleration/spin/drag/lift etc. determined in 2 or 3 dimensions)
    • Ball bouncing data position/velocity/acceleration/spin/drag/lift etc. determined in 2 or 3 dimensions),
    • Ball roll data (position/velocity/acceleration/spin/drag/lift/friction etc. determined in 2 or 3 dimensions)
    • The final position of the ball (determined in 2 or 3 dimensions)

A parameter may be derived from the whole of the club/bat swing or ball path or only part thereof.

Depending on the type of activity, any type of shot, such as, in golf, a drive, an iron-shot, a pitch, a flop-shot, chip, a put or the like may be the target of measurement of both parameters of the ball and the club/bat.

Different apparatus for providing these parameters may require different positioning thereof in relation to the ball/club/bat, such as behind or at the side of the golfer/athlete.

The parameters determined may be used in a number of different manners of which some are provided below primarily described in relation to golf. However, it should be noted that the same data may be derived in the same manner for cricket or baseball.

One manner of determining and using parameters determined from club/ball is during a practice session of a golfer. The parameters may help the golfer improve his game in that parameters may be provided faster and more precisely (e.g. the length of a shot or the distance of the landing zone from a given target) than if the golfer himself had to make the determination.

Naturally, this manner may be used both indoors and outside on the golf course or practice area.

The parameters may be stored and compared to other parameters, such as parameters relating to different weather conditions, different golf course conditions, different clubs, different balls, different points in time—or comparisons may be made between different golfers.

Another manner of using the parameters may be seen in combination with a virtual reality where the parameters derived from the actual club or ball movement are converted into parameters in a virtual space in which e.g. a golf course is illustrated. In this manner, the path of the golf course may be illustrated in the virtual space.

Thus, even if the path of the club or ball is interrupted, such as when launching the ball indoors, the full path of the club/ball may be calculated in a virtual course or space and illustrated to the golfer.

Naturally, this may be used not only for playing a game of golf on the virtual course. Also, the golfer may practice his game by seeing how the actual flight would be in the virtual course. Different parameters may be varied at the will of the golfer (such as weather conditions).

In one situation, a flag or other target or marker may be provided to the golfer in the real world, such as on a golf course or a driving range. A similar flag or marker may be provided in the virtual reality space and in a corresponding position in order to assist the golfer in “navigating” in the virtual reality space. In order to increase the “illusion”, the virtual reality space may additionally provide an environment similar to that of the golf course (the same surroundings (trees, hills or other land marks, the same height difference from the golfer to the marker). Also or alternatively, parameters of the real world may be altered in the virtual reality space, such as bunkers/lakes/trees which may be added or removed. Thus, the golfer's imagination is helped in the direction as to how the virtual golf course is positioned in relation to himself and his surroundings. Multiple golfers may therefore play the same virtual course and compare their games.

The flags or markers may then have to be provided in the same relative positions relating to the golfers positions—or the actual positions of the flags or markers at the golfers may be provided so as to correspond to the positions in the virtual reality courses of the system.

Then, the golf match may be stored and analyzed at a later date. In fact, a game may be played or re-played later on with multiple players on the course, where the games of the individual players are then combined.

For a cricket or baseball player, the flag might illustrate the position of a batter or positions in the field.

A third manner relates to games of different types which may be played either alone or against other real or virtual golfers. Games may be related to who is the closest to a target, who is inside/outside a predetermined (target) area, who the fastest launch speed of the ball, who shoots the farthest, puts the best, has the most perfect swing, or the like. Points may be awarded relating to the velocity, length, distance to target, time or the like. These parameters may be determined in a virtual reality space or in the real world.

Naturally, parameters may be saved and analyzed later, or the games may be re-played at a later date.

The same types of data may be derived for other sports.

A fourth manner is used for acquiring club and/or ball flight data from a robotic golfer. This may be in order to characterize the club and/or ball.

Robotic golfers are known for characterizing clubs or balls where the robot is used for performing standardized or repeatable launches using either a standard club (for characterizing balls) or a club for which parameters are to be determined. The same is true for standardizing balls and bats/clubs for cricket/baseball.

The parameters of a plurality of ball launches using a club are derived and compared. Statistics may be calculated in order to characterize the club and/or ball.

The use of a robot increases the repeatability of the measurements and the use of the parameter determining apparatus speeds up the determination and makes it possible to obtain a larger quantum of data for the characterization.

A fifth manner is used for acquiring data relating to balls. The parameter determining apparatus is provided adjacent to a ball launcher, and parameters of e.g. ball flight are determined. Then, a plurality of balls are launched from the launcher (or the same ball is launched a plurality of times) maybe not using a club/bat but launching balls in other manners in which e.g. the spin and speed of the ball is controlled. Again, the use of a launcher increases the repeatability of the measurements and the use of the parameter determining apparatus speeds up the determination and makes it possible to obtain a larger quantum of data for the characterization.

Interesting parameters of this aspect are spin, carry dispersion, drag, lift etc. of the ball.

A sixth manner uses data derived relating to a path of a sports ball during e.g. a tournament or a game covered by TV. In this manner, the ball flight data are synchronized with the video signal. Thus, the data may be synchronized with the video of e.g. the golfer teeing off on TV or the baseball pitcher pitching. Thus, the video signal of the golfer/pitcher or flying ball may also comprise real time data relating to the parameters of the club/ball, such as carry distance, height, velocity or the like. The video feed may be real time, semi real time or may be provided subsequent to the game.

The sixth manner may also be used for illustrating the ball path over the course in real time while the ball is in the air. An illustration may be shown of the course, such as seen from above, where the real time position of the ball, and maybe also the track taken, is illustrated. Also illustrated may be the flag and the position of tee off as well as obstructions on the fairway etc.

A seventh manner also relates to live or semi-live TV coverage of golfers/athletes. In this situation, the practice, such as on the driving range, may be covered by TV images completed with data provided relating to the practicing, such as data relating to the club/bat swing or ball data. If the practice is a driving practice, drive length and dispersion, spin, drag, etc. may be provided on the TV monitor as well as a distance to a given target if applicable.

This data may also be provided on monitors or big screens for spectators to see.

Naturally, as is seen in an eighth manner, the TV feeding (real time, semi real time or taped video) may also be used in a shoot-out or competition in the field or on the driving range, where the data again is fed to the spectator or viewer on the screen or monitor which may also comprise images of the golfers/athletes or other interesting elements, such as the balls, the tee off etc.

A different manner is one where the ball or club/bat data are used for club/bat-, gap and/or ball-fitting to the particular golfer/athlete. In this manner, the data are used for determining changes to a club or which club/bat and/or balls are suitable for a particular golfer/athlete.

In this manner, the data from the club/bat and/or ball may be compared to expected data in order be able to quantify a variation from a desired level of the parameters. An example is that a person with a given gender, height and weight should be able to launch a given ball a in a given ball flight with a certain club/bat. If the person is not able to do that, the variation from the desired ball flight may be quantified and may be converted into changes desired in the club/bat or ball. For this use, the repeatability of the measurements and the speed and precision obtainable in the measurements will increase the speed and precision of this fitting.

A manner relates to the movement of the ball after the flight. Normal data providers relating to golf balls use radar for determining the ball flight path. However, the ball will both bounce and roll after landing the first time. In order to obtain also this data, radars or other data providers (e.g. using video cameras) may be provided at or near the expected position of landing of the ball in order to give more accurate ball flight data of the end trajectory and bouncing/rolling of the golf ball.

Naturally, multiple data providers or radars may be provided also along the trajectory in order to be able to cover the full path of the ball and increase the accuracy of the data providing. The data from these multiple data providers may be merged in real time and may even be merged with a video signal. Also, a post analysis may be performed in order to get a more accurate total flight data set for the golf ball including both flight, bouncing, and roll of the ball.

Instead of the usually most popular tee-offs and long shots, the data providers may also be used for chipping and putting, usually near the green of the course. Again, both the movement of the club and the ball are interesting. Also, TV coverage may be enhanced by providing this data and interesting data may be both spin, velocity, friction, angle to horizontal, and the like.

In addition to the above manners, the data provider may be used in general as an engineering tool to develop golf shafts, clubs and balls. This is the situation both when a robot is used for performing actions and increase the repeatability of the measurements and when a person is used, such as for adapting a club or balls to the person.

Naturally, one data provider or one data providing method may be selected as a reference device. This device may be used for validation of other test equipment. Also, the device may be used for determining whether golf equipment complies to certain rules or not. Normally, such tests are provided under controlled circumstances, and the actual measuring principle also plays a role in this respect.

Some of these manners are illustrated in the figures, wherein:

FIG. 1 illustrates a ball before launch and the positions of the radars,

FIG. 2 illustrates a golf course seen from above during TV coverage,

FIG. 3 illustrates a golf club swinging robot,

FIG. 4 illustrates a golf ball launcher, and

FIG. 5 illustrates a driving range and a virtual space illustrating a golf course.

In FIG. 1, the situation illustrated in most of the above patent literature is provided, namely the launch of a golf ball 10 toward a flag 12. The ball 10 is hit by a club 14, and the movement(s) of the club and/or ball are measured using one or more radars 16, which may be positioned at any desired position, such as behind the ball 10 or beside the ball 10 at launch.

All the above parameters (velocity, smash factor, angle, spin, drag, . . . ) may be determined using this set-up.

FIG. 2 illustrates TV coverage of a golf match or the like. The monitor 20, which receives a real-time, semi-real-time or a taped video feed, illustrates the golf course seen from above. Trees 22 and ponds/bunkers 24 may be present. The fairway 26 may be illustrated, as may the flag 28 and the position of tee off 30.

The position 32 of the ball during flight is provided in real time or semi real time on the monitor as well as data 34 relating to the ball flight. Also, the path already covered may be illustrated.

In the course, a number of data providers 16, such as radars, may be provided along the course or fairway. The data or signals from these may be combined in order to provide a higher precision of the data providing during all of the flight.

In this situation, also data relating to the ball impact position, bouncing and roll may be provided and illustrated on the monitor 20.

FIG. 3 illustrates a golf club swinging robot 40 swinging a golf club 14, striking a ball 10, and where a radar 16 determines data relating to the club and/or ball. This may be used for characterizing the club and/or ball. Alternatively, the set-up may be used for ensuring or testing whether the ball or club fulfils international requirements.

Naturally, the same set-up may be used when replacing the robot 40 with a person. In this manner, the data gathered may be used for selecting or adapting a club or balls to that person.

FIG. 4 illustrates a golf ball launching robot 42 launching golf balls 10. The radar 16 provides data relating to the flight of the golf balls in order to characterize these or ensure that the balls fulfil international requirements.

FIG. 5 illustrates a real-life driving range or practising area 50 comprising a flag or marker 52 positioned in the area. Also illustrated in FIG. 5 is a monitor 54 illustrating a virtual space 56 having a golf course 58 also having a flag or marker 60 but also having a number of obstructions 62, such as bunkers.

The golf course 58 may be a fully virtual course or may resemble or look like an existing golf course.

The flags 52 and 60 help the golfer to correlate the course 58 to the area 50 in that the distance (vertically and/or horizontally) from a present position of a ball to the flag 52 may be taken as the distance from a ball in the course 58 to the flag 60. The distance in the virtual space 56 may be defined in any suitable manner.

When the golfer launches the ball toward the flag 52, the true parameters of the ball are converted into parameters of a ball in the virtual space 56. Preferably, if the ball hits the flag 52, the ball in the virtual space 56 will also hit the flag 60. However, in the golf course 58, the ball may now land in the obstructions 62 which are not present in the real area 50.

The flag 60 in the virtual space 56 may be the actual flag of the golf course 58 or may simply be a reference point relating to the flag 52 in the real area. The positions of the flags 52 or 60 may be varied from shot to shot or may be fixed. The position of one of the flags may be alterable in order for it to correspond to the position of the other.

Thus, the golf match may be recorded in the virtual space 56 and golf course 58. The virtual golf course may be distributed to a number of golfers, where after golf matches may be played virtually by replaying the matches of individual players.

It should be noted that the above described embodiments would be equally well suited for use in cricket or baseball.