Title:
Sensory Coordination System for Sports, Therapy and Exercise
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A sensory coordination system for sports, occupational therapy, physical therapy and general exercise.



Inventors:
Bavaro, Louis M. (St. Paul, MN, US)
Durfee, William K. (Edina, MN, US)
Erdman, Arthur G. (New Brighton, MN, US)
Fairman, James E. (Bloomington, MN, US)
Monnier, Christopher S. (Eden Prairie, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/988632
Publication Date:
05/07/2009
Filing Date:
07/13/2006
Assignee:
PANDO TECHNOLOGIES, LLC (Bloomington, MN, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B69/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
RICHMAN, GLENN E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATTERSON THUENTE PEDERSEN, P.A. (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
1. A sensory coordination system, comprising: an electronic controller; a first display, the first display controlled by the controller and capable of providing one or more cues to a user to indicate an action to be performed by the user in accordance with at least one signal from the controller; at least one sensor in communication with the controller, the at least one sensor capable of determining whether the action has been performed by the user and further capable of reporting at least one attribute of the action performed by the user to the controller; and a second display, the second display controlled by the controller and capable of displaying at least one measure of the action performed by the user in accordance with the at least one attribute reported to the controller by the sensor; wherein the sensory coordination system is used to train the user to manipulate a ball in a sequence programmed into the electronic controller.

2. The sensory coordination system of claim 1, wherein the ball is selected from the group consisting of a basketball, a soccer ball, a baseball, a cricket ball, a volleyball, a football, a tennis ball, a lacrosse ball or a hockey puck.

3. The sensory coordination system of claim 2, wherein the at least one sensor is disposed on a floor.

4. The sensory coordination system of claim 2, wherein the at least one sensor is disposed on a vertical or near vertical surface.

5. The sensory coordination system of claim 3, wherein the at least one sensor is a mechanical contact switch comprising two conductive elements that are brought into contact when the ball impacts the switch.

6. The sensory coordination system of claim 3, wherein the at least one sensor is disposed in a mat in contact with the floor.

7. The sensory coordination system of claim 5, wherein a plurality of sensors are disposed in the mat.

8. The sensory coordination system of claim 7, wherein nine sensors are disposed in the mat.

9. The sensory coordination system of claim 2, wherein the at least one sensor is selected from the group consisting of a capacitive sensor, an infrared detector and an acoustic sensor.

10. The sensory coordination system of claim 2, wherein the at least one sensor is placed in the base of a sports cone and is capable of sensing a ball within a predetermined area in the vicinity of the cone.

11. The sensory coordination system of claim 2, wherein the at least one sensor communicates with the controller via wired electrical communication.

12. The sensory coordination system of claim 2, wherein the at least one sensor communicates with the controller via wireless signal.

13. The sensory coordination system of claim 2, wherein the at least one sensor communicates with the controller via light signal.

14. The sensory coordination system of claim 3, wherein a plurality of sensors are distributed across the floor to create a course for the user to navigate while simultaneously performing the indicated actions.

15. The sensory coordination system of claim 2, wherein the position of at least one of the user's feet is determined in addition to the actions of the user.

16. The sensory coordination system of claim 1, wherein the first display comprises an auditory output capable of emitting an auditory cue.

17. The sensory coordination system of claim 1, wherein the auditory output is further capable of emitting recorded musical signals.

18. The sensory coordination system of claim 1, wherein the electronic controller is capable of directing the first display to provide feedback to the user.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/699,046 filed Jul. 13, 2005, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a sensory coordination system for sports, occupational therapy, physical therapy and general exercise. The invention more particularly relates to a method and apparatus for improving basketball-handling skills.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Sports training requires repetition of various actions in order to improve a player's skill in performing the action, to increase the speed at which a player can perform the action and to make certain actions reflexive or automatic. Such training is optimally done in the presence of a coach or skilled player who can evaluate and correct the actions being performed as necessary. Often, however, players must carry out such training for long periods with no such supervision. Therefore, a system with which a player could interact and that would provide meaningful feedback regarding parameters of a performance would be desirable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides training methods that will help users improve their hand-eye coordination along with their proprioception, which refers to sensory and muscle movements. This training will be accomplished by teaching, and improving, a user's ability to look up and at the same time control an external object (such as a basketball, soccer ball, etc) based on direction from external stimuli. In one embodiment, the training is directed toward basketball skills and may teach players to look up and react to external stimuli while improving their dribbling skills.

In one embodiment, the invention is directed toward a sensory coordination system having an electronic controller, a first display, wherein the first display is controlled by the controller and is capable of providing one or more cues to a user to indicate an action to be performed by the user in accordance with at least one signal from the controller, at least one sensor in communication with the controller, the at least one sensor capable of determining whether the action has been performed by the user and further capable of reporting at least one attribute of the action performed by the user to the controller and a second display, wherein the second display is controlled by the controller and is capable of displaying at least one measure of the action performed by the user in accordance with the at least one attribute reported to the controller by the sensor and wherein the sensory coordination system is used to train the user to manipulate a ball in a sequence programmed into the electronic controller. For the purpose of the present invention, the term “ball” includes almost any object manipulated for sporting purposes. The ball may be a basketball, a soccer ball, a baseball, a cricket ball, a volleyball, a football, a tennis ball, a lacrosse ball or a hockey puck.

The sensor or sensors may be disposed on a floor. Alternatively, the sensor or sensors may be disposed on a vertical or near vertical surface, such as a wall, a fence, a tennis net, a volleyball net, a basketball backboard, boards on a hockey rink, or another target surface. The sensor or sensors may be a mechanical contact switch (such as a switch having two conductive elements that are brought into contact when the ball impacts the switch), a capacitive sensor, an infrared detector or an acoustic sensor. The sensor or sensors may be disposed in a mat in contact with the floor. The sensor or sensors may be placed in the base of a sports cone and be capable of sensing a ball within a predetermined area in the vicinity of the cone. The sensor or sensors may communicate with the controller via wired electrical communication, wireless signal or light signal. A plurality of sensors may be distributed across a floor to create a course for the user to navigate while simultaneously performing actions indicated by the first display. The sensory coordination system may also be capable of determining the position of at least one of the user's feet in addition to the actions of the user. The first display may include an auditory output capable of emitting an auditory cue and may be capable of emitting recorded musical signals. In addition, the electronic controller may be capable of directing the first display to provide feedback to the user.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates the relationship of a sensory trigger or output and an input component for sensing reaction by a user.

FIG. 2 depicts a top view of a mat input component with four sensor areas.

FIG. 3 depicts a top view of a mat input component with sensors arrayed in a circular pattern.

FIG. 4 depicts a top view of a mat input component with no guides or indicia present on the mat in a default mode.

FIG. 5 depicts a sensory trigger configuration with indicators for movement by a user and a real-time feedback indication.

FIG. 6 depicts a perspective view of a mat input component wherein the mat is a hard plastic such as a LEXAN® polycarbonate and has sensor components in communication with a wireless (e.g. radio or infrared) communication means for enabling communication between the mat input component and the sensory trigger.

FIG. 7 depicts a sensory trigger configuration in which performance results for two players can be displayed side by side.

FIG. 8 depicts a sensory trigger configuration in the shape of a basketball and which may be used in conjunction with a mat input component that is similarly shaped.

FIG. 9 depicts a mat input component with basketball court markings.

FIG. 10 depicts a mat input component with sensors arrayed in a circular pattern.

FIG. 11 shows a front view of a sports cone according to the present invention with a sensor mounted on the side.

FIG. 12 shows a bottom perspective view of a sports cone according to the present invention with the remote communications system visible.

FIG. 13 shows a flow chart of an exemplary training system according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The training system may consist of two components: an output component or sensory trigger which indicates how a user needs to respond and an input component that uses sensors to indicate a response to the output. In one system, the output component may be a scoreboard and the input component may be a mat or other sensory input device. Different sections of the output component (such as a scoreboard) can light tip indicating to the user where to dribble the ball on corresponding sections of the mat. The user can either stand in the middle of the mat and the sections for dribbling will surround the user or the user may stand off of the mat and move to separate sensors. The mat may have one or more rings surrounding a portion or portions of the mat with which a user may be directed to interact. A scoreboard and mat useful in this system is shown in FIG. 1. The training system may have an indoor version for use on carpeted or wood floors, an outdoor version for use on hard floors such as pavement or concrete, and an arcade version.

In one embodiment, eight sensors may be placed within a square mat. Four sensors are placed equidistant from each other in a square pattern at a first distance from the center of the mat and four more sensors may be placed equidistant from each other in a second square pattern and at a second distance from the center of the mat. The two square patterns are offset by 45°. The first distance may be eighteen to thirty six inches and the second distance may be twenty two to forty inches. In one embodiment, the first distance is eighteen inches and the second distance is twenty six inches.

The sensory input may consist of the following: an input signal that can be active or passive; a signal that is generated by the player or of the system or any of the components of the system including the input component, the output component, the player, and/or the corresponding athletic equipment used by the player of the system. The signal may be sensed or measured by, but is not limited to utilizing, physical (such as mechanical, pressure or contact switches), acoustical inputs (such as vibrations, sonar, as shown in), optical (such as laser beams, image recognition), and/or position related sensors (such as GPS, local GPS, RFID).

If the input component uses acoustical inputs, a single acoustic microphone may be used to sense interaction with a sensor region. The acoustic microphone detects the sound and the resulting signal is then processed by the system. Each sensor can be fixed or independently arrayed and each sensor responds to interaction with the use by emitting a unique sound.

The input component may use which a single camera or light receiving device is used to sense interaction with a sensor region. Each sensor can be fixed or independently arrayed and each sensor responds to interaction with the use by emitting a unique light signal. The signal is detected by the light-receiving device and is then processed by the system.

In any case, the generated signal is either “on” or “off” and “on” or “off” are labeled as “correct” or “incorrect”, labeling depends on whether the system is active or passive. A sensor will be used to measure the “correct” or “incorrect” signal and may utilize physical actuation (such as a switch mat) or non-physical actuation (such as lasers). The sensors may be attached as one piece with multiple sensors, or they may be individual entities. If individual entities, the sensors may be located anywhere within a designated area. The design of the mat may change and the mat will be constructed in such a way as to allow for customized designs.

The output component may consist of a computerized program and/or a physical case or scoreboard and may have a counter which tallies the “correct” and/or “incorrect” signals received from the input component. The signals may be received from the input component using a vision system capable of registering and recording actions of a user and relaying those actions to a host component. The vision system may use visible or other (such as IR) light spectra.

The output component may generate an output signal to the user that is visual or auditory. The output signal or the level of difficulty may be based upon the input signal, the counted “on” and/or “off” inputs, and/or the time. The output component may display values or quantities of interest such as score, length of time, level, and other related values and may contain an adjustable timer. The output component may utilize a digital/analog/LCD display that visually shows the number of correct sensors hit compared to those attempted. The system may contain the ability to retain high scores and/or send the scoring to database via a wireless or other connection to the internet.

The training system may contain and generate auditory sounds, music, songs, voices, noises based on the input provided by the user's activity or independent of the user's activity. The training system may use auditory stimuli including notes, music, lyrics, voices, songs, sounds or random noises, thereof and may use stimuli that correspond to correct or incorrect inputs. In one embodiment, the stimuli may contain commentary from a well known coach or announcer, or consist of a crowd cheering or booing. The training system may possess the ability to connect a music playback apparatus, such as an MP3 player or an iPod™ music player (Apple Computer, Inc.), to the device to play personal music selections or may contain predetermined music. The training system may contain a microphone for recording and play back purposes.

The training system may be fabricated and/or decorated to look like various athletic equipment. That is, the mat can be patterned to look like a basketball court or basketball and the output component scoreboard to look like a basketball court or a basketball, etc.

Versions of the Training System

The following lists how the game may be programmed as well as other versions of the above-described system:

    • A preprogrammed version that consists of a set pattern for the indicator lights on the scoreboard for the different levels, which the user attempts to repeat on the input portion of the system. As the user attempts to repeat and match the pattern in real time, the system will measure the speed and accuracy of the attempt. The pattern will get increasingly difficult as user progresses through the levels.
    • A programmable version that would allow for a user or their coach or therapist to determine what pattern should be followed with the ability to focus on specific areas. The pattern can change for each individual and be unique from the default version. The patterns can be stored and retrieved for each unique individual user.
    • A one-on-one competitive version where one player creates their own individual unique pattern which another player must immediately replicate to avoid negative feedback or losing.
    • A version where each individual sensor has a unique note, sound or portion of a song associated with it. A user can string together notes, sounds or portions of songs by hitting sensors in succession to create musical patterns. A user will be able to save the musical patterns created.
    • Other versions or additions may focus on training footwork, training the use of peripheral vision, or training other related hand-eye and/or foot-eye and/or other skills. Versions will allow for a user to turn on or off the auditory component and will allow for choice in auditory styles, for example: basketball sounds like squeaking shoes, horns or whistles; hip-hop sound and music; rock sounds and music; country music, etc.
    • The device can be produced for use in most sports involving hand-eye and/or foot-eye coordination: Soccer (shot placement, ball dribbling), Baseball (pitch placement, hit placement), Hockey (shot placement, foot work), Tennis (hit placement), Boxing, Volleyball, etc. The input component described earlier may be placed vertically against a wall or other hard surface, or may be placed horizontally against the floor or other hard surface.
    • A version may consist of an input and/or output component that may be directly connected to a television or monitor or through a gaming system such as Playstation (Sony Corporation), Gamecube (Nintendo), Xavix (SSD Company Limited) or XBOX (Microsoft) or future related gaming system.
    • A version may consist of a device where the input and output component are combined into one device that may utilize a visual projection system to both indicate where to dribble and also sense where the dribbling has occurred (use of lights or lasers that are broken indicating a “on” or “off” input).
    • A version may consist of a device where the input and output component are combined into one device that is located on the floor.).
    • A version may utilize movable sections and/or sensors to increase dribbling distance and/or change the sensor layout, or it may consist of individual sensors that are separate from one another as shown.
    • A version may have multiple player capabilities either using the same mat sequentially or using more than one mat at the same time by connecting them so multiple players may use them.
    • A version with a digital video camera or recorder that can be used to capture play by play action, which can then be replayed at another time on a TV using a DVD or VHS player.
    • A version capable of connection to the internet in which:
      • players can compete against one another via a web-based interface; or
      • players can be assigned (based, for example, on measured performance criteria or by cumulative win-loss ratio) or can self-assign to a skill level to compete against similarly skilled players; or
      • scores for single player or multiplayer games can be uploaded; or
      • software for new games can be accessed as they become available; or
      • software updates can be accessed as they become available.

EXAMPLES

A system according to the present invention is composed of a series of independent remote stations, each of which includes an infrared sensor, microcontroller, and wireless transmitter, installed in standard orange sports cones that transmit information wirelessly to a base station. Each remote station is capable of detecting a basketball (or any other object, such as a soccer ball) within a certain area in front of the cone in which it is housed. FIG. 13 shows a complete flow chart of the entire system.

As discussed above, the remote station is packaged inside an orange sports cone. This makes each remote station easily portable and relatively inconspicuous on a basketball court, as cones are often used in basketball drills. The range finding sensor is mounted to the inside surface of the cone, which protects it from direct impact by the basketball while also making it easy to orient toward the location of the dribbling target.

When the basketball is detected in fiont of the sensor, the microcontroller in the remote station then starts the process of sending data to the base station.

The wireless receiver in the base station receives the wireless signal broadcast by each of the remote station and triggers the microprocessor in the base station to update the game conditions.

To engage users of the system, the front end utilizes a semi-animated basketball, continually updated simulated LCD scoreboard, and various sound clips.

The game is very straightforward—the player simply dribbles in front of the cone that corresponds to the position where the basketball is displayed onscreen. The onscreen configuration naturally maps to the real-world configuration, so dribble placement is intuitive for players. Each time the player successfully dribbles in front of the cone they have been prompted to dribble in front of, they earn points. Points are calculated based on the time between when the new position of the ball is shown onscreen and when the player successfully dribbles in front of the corresponding cone. The less time between a screen update and a successful dribble, the more points that are awarded.

Clips of popular songs, such as rock and hip hop songs, and other songs played at sporting events may be played.

At a predetermined time, a crowd begins to cheer, and the familiar crowd-rousing cheer (two foot stomps and 1 hand clap), begins to play. This further engages users with the intent of simulating a situation one might experience as a close basketball game draws to a close.

Those skilled in the art will recognize that numerous modifications can be made to this disclosure without departing from the spirit on the inventions described herein. Therefore, it is not intended to limit the breadth of the invention to the embodiments illustrated and described. Rather, the scope of the invention is to be interpreted by the appended claims and their equivalents. Each publication, patent, patent application, and reference cited herein is hereby incorporated herein by reference.