Title:
MALEABLE OBSTACLE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In a flat road surface obstacle having a very thin profile and comprised of a malleable structure such as silicone rubber. The obstacle may be combined with a portion of adhesive to attach the obstacle to a play structure surface to be used in combination with wheeled conveyances such as skateboards, roller skates, in-line skates, tricycles and the like. The obstacle may further be used in combination with a skate park structure to provide markers and/or obstacles to be used in game play or instruction.



Inventors:
Kennedy, James R. (Camano Island, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/941657
Publication Date:
05/21/2009
Filing Date:
11/16/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
404/10, 473/490, 273/108
International Classes:
A63C19/06; A63B67/00; A63B71/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, KIEN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Hughes Law Firm, PLLC (Bellingham, WA, US)
Claims:
Therefore I claim:

1. An obstacle for activities performed on a play structure having a surface, the obstacle comprising: a. a pliable body comprised of a material having a durometer hardness substantially between 50 and 90; b. a first surface comprised of a material operatively configured to resist wear from wheeled conveyances contacting the first surface of the obstacle; c. a second surface comprised of a material operatively configured to resist movement in the transverse or longitudinal direction and substantially adhere to the play structure; and d. wherein the obstacle has an overall thickness substantially between 1/16 to ½ of an inch.

2. The obstacle of claim 1, wherein the first surface further comprises a color operatively configured to contrast to the color of the surface of the play structure.

3. The obstacle of claim 2, wherein the first surface further comprises indicia to identify one obstacle from other obstacles.

4. The obstacle of claim 1, further comprising an adhesive substance operatively configured to substantially and removeably adhere the second surface of the obstacle to the play structure

5. The obstacle of claim 1, wherein the obstacle is substantially rectangular.

6. The obstacle of claim 1, wherein the obstacle is substantially oval.

7. The obstacle of claim 1, wherein the obstacle has an overall thickness substantially between 3/16 to 7/16 of an inch.

8. The obstacle of claim 1, wherein the obstacle comprises edge portions which are substantially vertical to the second surface.

9. The obstacle of claim 1, wherein the first surface comprises a fabric material.

10. The obstacle of claim 1, wherein the pliable body is comprised of silicone rubber.

11. The obstacle of claim 1, wherein the obstacle is comprised of a material having a thickness, width, and length operatively configured such that a user utilizing a wheeled conveyance having wheels of less than 8 inches in diameter will detect contact with the obstacle by a change in the sound of the wheels contacting the material of the obstacle, and a slight change in orientation of the conveyance, but will not be impacted such that the user is caused to lose control of their conveyance.

12. An obstacle for activities performed on a play structure having a surface, the obstacle comprising: a. a pliable body comprised of a material having a durometer hardness substantially between 50 and 90; b. a first surface comprised of a material operatively configured to resist wear from wheeled conveyances contacting the first surface of the obstacle; c. a second surface comprised of a material operatively configured to resist movement in the transverse or longitudinal direction and substantially adhere to the play structure; d. wherein the first surface comprises a fabric material; e. wherein the first surface further comprises a color operatively configured to contrast to the color of the surface of the play structure; f. wherein the obstacle comprises edge portions which are substantially vertical to the second surface; and k. wherein the obstacle has an overall thickness substantially between 1/16 to ½ of an inch.

13. The obstacle of claim 10, wherein the wheeled conveyance is selected from the list consisting of bicycles, in-line skates, scooters, skateboards, tricycles, roller skates, and wagons.

14. A method for providing an obstacle for users engaging in play on a play structure comprising the steps of: l. providing an obstacle having a pliable body, a durometer hardness substantially between 50 and 90, and an overall thickness of between 1/16 to ½ of an inch; and m. placing the obstacle upon the surface of the play structure in a specific orientation to provide an obstacle.

15. The method of claim 10 further comprising the step of providing an adhesive substance operatively configured to adhere the obstacle to the surface of the play structure.

16. A method of providing a game for a skateboarder utilizing a skateboard comprised in part of a plurality of skateboard wheels and a skateboard surface, the method comprising: a. positioning a plurality of obstacles being sufficiently flexible to conform to the skateboard surface and having a sufficient thickness to raise at least one of the skateboard wheels when the skateboard wheels travel upon an upper surface of one of the obstacles, b. positioning the plurality of obstacles in a manner to conform to a prescribed path for the skateboarder to substantially conform to the path along the skateboard surface, c. providing the plurality of obstacles to be removable and repositionable by way of lifting them from the skateboard surface and repositioning them to a second location if desired, d. whereas the plurality of obstacles are operatively configured so as to provide a tactile and audio signal to the skateboarder when a wheel of the skateboard travels over the upper surface of one of the obstacles so as the skateboarder does not control of the skateboard.

17. The method of providing a game as recited in claim 16 where the upper surface has a substantially constant thickness in a vertical direction.

18. The method of providing a game as recited in claim 16 where the durometer hardness of the plurality of obstacles is substantially between 50 and 90 on the Shore durometer scale.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

a) Field of the Disclosure

Generally, the object of this disclosure is in the field of activities and sports wherein a wheeled conveyance is utilized and an obstacle is desired for instruction or for playing of particular games.

b) Background Art

Traffic cones and the like are often used as obstacles for sports and activities such as bicycling, skateboarding, in-line skating, tricycles, and roller-skating. The size and dimension of these traffic cones often negatively interfere with the sport or play, resulting in damage to the obstacle and perhaps injury to the user. Often users are involved in these activities on driveways, streets, parking lots, and skate parks. Furthermore, these activities are often performed on a road which may not be free of automobile traffic, the traffic cones interfere with traffic, and while the users can easily remove themselves and their conveyance from the road, moving the obstacles is often more difficult. This may also provide an unsafe environment should small children or other users try to remove objects from the road in the face of oncoming traffic.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

What is generally disclosed herein is an obstacle which is configured to be used as an obstacle on a road surface, sidewalk, or other surface of a play structure, which can be repositioned at will, and will not interfere with traffic nor cause significant hindrance to a user on a wheeled conveyance having small diameter wheels such as a skateboard, rollerblades, etc. To accomplish this, a relatively soft, pliable material is formed into small pads, such as rectangles or ovals. The obstacle may be provided with a surface which contrasts with the surface of the play structure. For example, where a tricycle is to be used on a sidewalk, a bright orange obstacle would be easily identified as contrasting with the surrounding concrete. Furthermore, the top surface of the obstacle may be provided with identifying indicia, such as letters or numbers, so that when a plurality of the obstacles are used in a series they can be identified one from another. For example, in an obstacle course wherein a user is to go around the obstacles in a particular order, obstacles may be arranged such that the user would go around the obstacle with the numeral 1 disposed on the top surface then proceed to the obstacle with a number 2 disposed on its top surface, etc. to the end of the course.

Wherein these obstacles of the disclosure are very thin, they do not interfere with road traffic when used in a street or road, but still operate as a visual and audio obstacle. An automobile or motorcycle would not be damaged when driving over the obstacle. Wherein they have some thickness to them perhaps within the range of 1/16 of an inch to ½ of an inch, a user on a skateboard, etc. would feel the bump as they encountered the obstacle, and would simultaneously hear a change in tone of the wheels as they leave the play structure surface and ride upon the relatively soft obstacle. Thus, a tactile and audio cessation can be observed by the user and those surrounding to identify when a user has contacted said obstacle.

Whereas it is often desired for instructional purposes or game playing to identify very specific locations upon a play structure, such as a skateboard ramp or half-pipe, obstacles which can be placed on a horizontal or substantially vertical surface are desired. Permanent markings, such as spray paint, are usually against city ordinance, and are also difficult to remove. Thus, the obstacle of this disclosure in one form can be provided such that it substantially adheres to the surface of the play structure providing a series of markers or obstacles for a user to indicate desired positions upon the surface of the play structure. For those surfaces which are substantially vertical, an adhesive may also be provided which is disposed between the bottom surface of the obstacle and the surface of the play structure to substantially and removeably adhere the obstacle to the surface of the play structure. For example, wherein a marker is desired at a specific location on the relatively vertical portion of a half pipe of a skateboard park for instruction or play, a material of putty-like adhesive may be utilized to adhere the obstacle to the surface of the play structure. Thus, an instructor or another observer could request a user to go around said obstacle using it as a marker. Should the user encounter the obstacle, they would feel a tactile and audio signal but would not be significantly interfered with to the point that they would lose control of their conveyance and possibly injure themselves or the play structure. While any obstacle or marker upon the surface of the play structure may cause a user to lose control of their conveyance, the obstacle as herein disclosed has less likelihood of that outcome than prior art examples, for example, traffic cones which are also very difficult to adhere to a substantially vertical surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an environmental view of a skate park including the object of the disclosure in one form being utilized upon the surface of a skateboard ramp;

FIG. 2 is a detail view of the object of the disclosure in one form;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of an obstacle course using one form of the disclosure;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of an obstacle course using one form of the disclosure;

FIG. 5 is a plan view of an obstacle course using one form of the disclosure; and

FIG. 6 is a side sectional view of the object of the disclosure in one form.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Before going into a detailed description of the object of this disclosure, an axis system 10 is disclosed in FIG. 2. The axis system 10 includes a vertical direction 12, a longitudinal direction 14, and a transverse direction 16.

Similar elements will have the same numbering for ease of understanding. For example, an obstacle 20 is disclosed in general, with a specific example 2a shown in FIG. 2, another example shown in FIG. 3 as 20b, etc. As another example, the course 6 is shown in FIG. 1 as course 6a, in FIG. 3 as course 6b, etc.

Referring now to FIG. 1, a user 2 is shown, and in this example the user 2 is riding a skateboard. This is an example; other wheeled conveyances 8 having wheels 46 are equally suitable for the object of this disclosure. Furthermore, a play structure 4 is shown as a portion of a skateboard park. Of course, streets, sidewalks, and other surfaces are equally suited for use of the object of this disclosure. A plurality of obstacles 20a are shown in this example of FIG. 1, and a course 6a is shown as a line traversing a plurality of the obstacle 20a. The obstacle 28a is shown as substantially rectangular, however, other shapes, such as a circle shown at 20b, are equally useful and in some instances are preferred over an object having straight edge portions. While a substantially rectangular obstacle 20 is disclosed in FIG. 2, it may be desired to round off or chamfer 53 the corners 36 laterally to increase stability of the obstacle 20 when in position on the play structure 4. Looking at FIG. 2, the obstacle 20a has a top (first) surface 22, a bottom (second) surface 24, and a plurality of sides. One corner has been chamfered 53, while the corner at 36 has not been. The sides are described as a transverse side 26 generally aligned in the longitudinal direction 14, and a longitudinal side 28 generally aligned in the transverse direction 16.

While it is often desired to provide an obstacle for marking a specific location on a play structure 4, it is often not desired that the obstacle negatively interfere with play. As opposed to prior art examples, such as traffic cones where it is desired that impacting the obstacle would have a detriment to the user, such as in football where impacting a traffic cone would tend to trip a player causing them to have a physical response and gaining muscle memory which will teach them not to impact the device. Wherein small children may be riding tricycles on a road or sidewalk surface 5, it is desired to have an obstacle that will form a marker which the user is to avoid, but upon impacting the obstacle will not negatively affect the user such as tripping them up. In the sports of skateboarding, and especially rollerblading, a negative impact upon an obstacle could cause significant injury. Wrist injuries as a result of rollerblading accidents are quite common, as are tailbone injuries. Thus, it is desired to have an obstacle which will form a marker obstacle on a surface 5 of a play structure 4, but will not negatively impact a user, and will have the added benefit of not interfering with traffic when the play is conducted upon the street.

One method of measuring the hardness of a material is the Shore durometer. It is estimated that a Shore durometer which has a hardness of between 50 and 90 is one preferred range for the body 30 of the obstacle 20. This range forms a pliable apparatus 20 which will conform to slight irregularities in the surface 5 of the play structure 4 whether it is a road, sidewalk, skate park, or other structure. A narrower range is between 65 and 75 of the Shore durometer scale. In this range, a wheel, such as a skateboard wheel 46 (having a durometer rating of about 98) would substantially impact and deform the body 30 of the obstacle 20 resulting in less loss of control of the conveyance. Impacting the obstacle 20 will result in a vertical acceleration of the wheel 46 and attached elements, such as a skateboard, resulting in a tactile response. The wheel 46 and attached elements would be accelerated vertically a portion of the apparatus thickness 52. This tactile response would indicate to the user that they had impacted the obstacle 20, but would not overly disrupt the motion of the conveyance to the point of causing the user to lose control. Were the obstacle to be made of a harder material, the body 30 of the obstacle 20 would not deform and would tend to overly disrupt the motion of the conveyance, possibly causing injury to the users. In one embodiment of the disclosure, the wheel 46 having a radius 50 will be raised by the obstacle 20 within ⅛ of a rotation of the wheel. While these dimensions work well in conjunction with wheeled conveyances having diameters of 8 inches and less, other dimensions are conceived which work well with wheels of larger diameter.

The body 30 of the apparatus 20 may be made of one of many different substances that fall within the desired hardness range. Several polymers, including rubber, closed-cell foams, and silicone rubber, fit the desired range. These substances when extended to the bottom (second) surface 24 also substantially maintain the position of the apparatus 20 upon the surface of the play structure 4 in the same manner as mouse pads maintain their position upon a user's desk when lateral and longitudinal forces are exerted by a user while moving the mouse.

Tests have shown that when the transverse sides 26, and longitudinal sides 28 of the apparatus 20 are substantially perpendicular to the second surface 24, wear resistance is significantly increased. When the transverse and longitudinal sides of the obstacle are significantly beveled, the fine point tends to break off and wear much faster.

FIG. 6 shows another embodiment of the disclosure wherein an obstacle 20e has a transverse side 26 with a vertically radiused portion 48. This radiused portion could result in a significant tactile response in that there will be a sudden vertical acceleration (shown at 44) when the wheel 46 impacts the transverse side 26 of the obstacle 20e. Furthermore, when the wheel 46 contacts the top surface 22 there will be a change in the pitch and tone of the wheel riding upon the top surface 22, as opposed to the surface of the play structure 4.

The top (first) surface 22 may include a contrasting color 32 on the play structure 4. For example, bright orange, yellow or blue obstacles would contrast well against half-pipe sidewalls and gray streets. The first (top) surface 22 may be formed of a fabric or fabric-like material. This increases wear-resistance and also forms a more stable surface for coloring the surface and printing indicia 34 therupon.

Users 2 commonly do not wish to place permanent graffiti upon the surfaces around their play area where it is to be near their home or alternatively at a skate park. In one embodiment of the disclosure, users would be able to individually mark the top surface 22 of the apparatus 20a with their own graffiti or markings. In this way, they could transport the device to the skate park, and place it upon the surface providing a temporary territorial marking. These could be used to identify individual groups of users to mark their boundaries for a short period of time, or could alternatively be used to indicate specific teams which may be practicing upon the play structure 4.

In one form shown in FIG. 2, indicia 34 are disposed upon the top surface 22 of the obstacle 20. These indicia may be utilized to identify individual obstacles 20 from nearby nearly identical obstacles 20 and may be used to perform a sequential series of maneuvers or skills. Furthermore, the indicia 34 may include advertising material or instructions on how to use the obstacle to achieve a particular pattern such as shown in FIGS. 3-5.

Furthermore, an adhesive substance 38 is disclosed which may be utilized to substantially and removeably adhere the obstacle 20 to the play structure 4. The adhesive 38 is disposed between the bottom surface 24 and the surface of the play structure 4. This is especially useful in areas of high traffic or in use wherein the surface of the play structure 4 is not substantially horizontal. While a great number of adhesives can be utilized to attach the obstacle 20 to the surface of the play structure 4, specific examples have shown to hold the obstacle 20 in place even on a substantially vertical surface and do not leave adhesive residue when removed. Duct tape and similar substantially permanent adhesive methods can be very useful in attaching the obstacles to the surface of the play structure. Products commonly known as “adhesive putty” offer the advantage of being removable from the obstacle 20 when not desired and adhering the obstacle 20 to the surface of the play structure 4, and these adhesives do not leave a residue on either the obstacle 20, nor the surface of the play structure 4. These products commonly known as “adhesive putty, removable putty, poster putty, sticky putty”, etc., are very advantageous as they are designed to hold similar elements such as posters to vertical surfaces such as walls and usually leave no significant residue when removed. As the bottom surface 24 of the obstacle 20 is configured to substantially restrict lateral and transverse movement of the obstacle 20 in relation to the surface of the play structure 4, adhesive elements which perform this task are not necessary. Should a more permanent adhesive be utilized, most glues, or two-sided tapes, especially two-sided foam tape, would be exemplary for this purpose.

Several games may be played on bicycles, tricycles, scooters, roller-skates, in-line skates, and skateboards, etc. They may be played on driveways, streets, parking lots, and skate parks. As ability levels vary from expert bikers and skateboarders to young children on tricycles, an obstacle 20 which can be utilized in a wide variety of applications is disclosed herein. The obstacle 20 as described in one form includes a half-pipe kit for those who wish to utilize the apparatus on such structures. This half-pipe kit may comprise a plurality of obstacles 20, a portion of adhesive 38, instructions, diagrams, and/or a bag or box configured to contain all of these elements. These games may be played by one user, one user against another, or may be played team against team, perhaps in a relay situation. Each user may pick their own level of difficulty, whether alone or against others. The challenge is up to the user. A game in one form contains six flat discs half-pipe reusable adhesive pieces, and directions for a variety of games that may be played using the obstacles.

FIG. 4, shows a zigzag pattern and the user 2 would start at start point 40 traversing around the obstacles 20c, and finish at the end point 42. The course 6 that the user would take around the obstacle 20c is indicated at 6c. The game may be timed wherein a plurality of users 2 traverse the course 6c, measuring the length of time from the start point 43 to the end point 42 and adapting points based on contact with the obstacles 20c.

Another form of the game, such as a slalom course, as shown in FIG. 3 is disclosed as being very similar to the zigzag course of FIG. 4; however the obstacles 20b are placed at a lateral distance further apart from one another. This course would take more skill to traverse than the zigzag course of FIG. 4 as the angle around the obstacles 20b is much more acute.

Another version of a game which may be played using one embodiment of this disclosure is a free-form game, such as shown in FIG. 5. In this embodiment, the obstacles 20b are placed upon a surface of a play structure 4, possibly in the formation of a side of a die. For example, as shown in FIG. 5, four obstacles 20d are shown as commonly seen on the number 4 side of a standard die. However, a fifth element placed in the middle of these four elements could also be utilized, or two rows of three parallel obstacles 20, as is seen on the side of a die with six dots. The obstacles 20d may be arranged in any form, and the users navigate around the obstacles 20 as in course 6d. Other courses around this plurality of obstacles 20d are just as easily conceived. Once again users 2 may keep track of the time it takes from the start point 40 to the end point 42 adjusting points or time for contacting the obstacles 20d. A user with the best overall score or time is declared. As these sorts of games are very common, most users are very adept at creating new and innovative courses and ways of scoring said games.

Another form of this game may be played wherein a parallel course is provided, wherein a first user 2 and a second user begin parallel courses at the same time traversing the course and the first user to the end would be declared the winner of that heat. Olympic slalom and giant slalom courses are often run this way, as are exhibition slalom courses in downhill skiing.

The difficulty of each game is increased by narrowing the distance between the obstacles 20 utilizing more difficult terrain, or adding other challenges, such as ramps or other obstacles.

In another game utilizing a form of the disclosure, a user performs a skill, and a second user is required to complete the same skill or earn a letter of a word, such as “skate”. This game is similar to the common game “horse” played in basketball. Users will simply place the obstacles 20d in a desired location, and then perform a specific skill. The second user is required to complete the identical skill. If the second user is successful in performing that skill, then that user goes first the next time, and challenges the first user to a different skill. The game continues until one user fails to complete enough skills to earn all the letters of the name such as “skate”.

Another game utilizing a form of the disclosure is similar to the children's game “follow the leader”. In this game, one user leads another user, or plurality of users, where the other users follow the first user around a plurality of the obstacles 20. In this game, many different ability levels, and age levels are equally able to participate. Some users will find this game to be simple, and some will find it much more difficult.

Another method of using the obstacles 20 would be a half-pipe challenge type game. When using the half-pipe kit, an adhesive substance may be placed on the second surface of the obstacle 20, and then the obstacles may be placed at any height desired upon the surface of the structure. These half-pipes and other skateboard, bicycle, rollerblade park elements are very common, however it is usually against city ordinance to permanently mark the surface of them, and while users often consider these places a home away from home, they do not wish to deface them. Once the obstacles 20 have been adhered to the surface of the half-pipe, the adhesive operates to maintain the position even after contact by wheeled conveniences such as skateboards. The obstacles and adhesive may be removed and reused in a different location. Users can then set up any of the above-mentioned games on a non-horizontal surface. A user could go around one and then perform a skill, and then go on to a second obstacle. The height from the horizontal base level and the distance between the plurality of obstacles will tend to vary the difficulty of the course 6 such that all users can be challenged in play.

Yet another version of a game which may be played using one embodiment of this disclosure is a towed object game. In this version, a plurality of obstacles 20 would be placed upon the surface of the place structure 4 and then a user 2 would traverse this course 6 while towing a ball, wheeled toy, or other objects at the end of the row or chain. Users could keep track of the time it takes to traverse the course 6 and adjust time or points based on the user, or the towed object contacting the obstacles.

While the present invention is illustrated by description of several embodiments and while the illustrative embodiments are described in detail, it is not the intention of the applicants to restrict or in any way limit the scope of the appended claims to such detail. Additional advantages and modifications within the scope of the appended claims will readily appear to those sufficed in the art. The invention in its broader aspects is therefore not limited to the specific details, representative obstacle and methods, and illustrative examples shown and described. Accordingly, departures may be made from such details without departing from the spirit or scope of applicants' general concept.