Title:
Footwear for use in connection with teaching
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present application is generally directed to an arrangement of first and second articles of footwear which may be used in a system or method for teaching a user a plurality of individual units according to a predetermined order. The arrangement is configured to sense movement of the feet of a user and to provide one of the individual units in response to each movement sensed of the first and second foot of a user. In an exemplary form, the arrangement may provide to the user, in proper order, the letters of the alphabet as the user walks or moves while wearing the articles of footwear.



Inventors:
Maxwell, Karen Teresa (North Liberty, IN, US)
Kennedy, Peter Edward (North Liberty, IN, US)
Application Number:
12/009040
Publication Date:
07/16/2009
Filing Date:
01/16/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
434/319
International Classes:
A43B3/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050198872Footwear wrap assemblySeptember, 2005Correa
20090272007Automatic Lacing SystemNovember, 2009Beers et al.
20070094815Orthopedic Insoles for Protecting the Metatarsal Heads of the ForefootMay, 2007Barak
20090300945Article of footwear for soccerDecember, 2009Droege et al.
20010008053Vibration absorbing device, particularly for shoes or sports implementsJuly, 2001Belli
20100088929SOLE FOR FOOTWEAR HAVING A TURNABLE ANTISLIP DEVICE AND FOOTWEAR COMPRISING SUCH SOLEApril, 2010Comoli
20080179859Motorcycle foot peg and boot cleat assemblyJuly, 2008Boehmke et al.
20090313849Ornamental upper sandal straps for the display of logos or textDecember, 2009Shelton
20090313855SELF CLEANING OUTSOLES FOR SHOESDecember, 2009Skirrow
20060059718Protective footwearMarch, 2006Dion
20100000127SHOE WITH INTERCHANGEABLE STRAP SYSTEMJanuary, 2010Feller et al.



Primary Examiner:
FRISBY, KESHA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Krieg DeVault LLP (Mishawaka, IN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system for teaching, comprising: an arrangement of a first article configured to be worn on a first foot of a user and a second article configured to be worn on a second foot of the user, wherein each of the first and second articles includes: a sensor configured to detect movement of the respective foot of the user and provide a corresponding sensor signal; a controller configured to provide an output signal in response to the sensor signal; a storage medium for storing a plurality of individual units in a predetermined order, the storage medium being configured to provide one of the individual units in an audible format in response to the output signal; and a speaker configured to broadcast the individual unit to the user; and wherein the arrangement of the first and second articles successively broadcasts one of the individual units to the user according to the predetermined order in response to each movement sensed of the first foot and the second foot of the user.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the controller of the first article is wirelessly connected with the controller of the second article.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein the controller of the first article and the second article are configured to provide an output signal corresponding to a first unit of the predetermined order in response to an initial movement of one of the first foot or the second foot of the user being sensed by the respective article.

4. The system of claim 3, wherein in response to the initial movement and each subsequent movement of one of the first foot or the second foot of the user, the controller of each of the first article and the second article is configured to: respond to each movement sensed by the respective article of footwear by incrementing to the next unit of the predetermined order to provide an output signal corresponding to the next unit of the predetermined order in response to the next movement sensed; wirelessly transmit to the controller of the other article an incrementing signal instructing the other controller to increment to the next unit of the predetermined order; and increment to the next unit of the predetermined order in response to the incrementing signal if the movement of the user was not sensed by the respective article.

5. The system of claim 4, wherein each of the first and second articles includes a reset button coupled with its respective controller, said controller being responsive to activation of the reset button to restart the output signal to correspond to the first unit of the predetermined order in response to the first movement sensed after activation of the reset button.

6. The system of claim 1, wherein the sensor is a pressure sensor configured to provide the sensor signal in response to detecting a change in the weight of the user distributed to a respective foot.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein the first and second articles are selected from the group consisting of socks, sandals, shoes, slippers and boots.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein the individual units comprise letters of the alphabet and the predetermined order corresponds to the order of the alphabet.

9. The system of claim 1, wherein the individual units comprise numbers and the predetermined order corresponds to a sequential order of the numbers.

10. A system for teaching, comprising: an arrangement of a first article of footwear configured to be worn on a first foot of a user and a second article of footwear configured to be worn on a second foot of a user, wherein each of the first and second articles of footwear includes a storage medium for storing a plurality of individual units in a predetermined order and the arrangement of the first and second articles of footwear includes means for broadcasting the individual units to the user according to the predetermined order in response to a series of movement of one or both of the first foot and the second foot of the user.

11. The system of claim 10, wherein the individual units comprise numbers and the predetermined order corresponds to a sequential listing of the numbers.

12. The system of claim 10, wherein the individual units comprise letters of the alphabet and the predetermined order corresponds to the order of the alphabet.

13. The system of claim 10, wherein the individual units are letters and the predetermined order corresponds to the spelling of a word including the letters.

14. The system of claim 10, wherein the movement includes alternating movement between the first foot of the user and the second foot of the user.

15. A method for teaching, comprising: providing a first article of footwear configured to be worn on a first foot of a user and a second article of footwear configured to be worn on a second foot of the user, each of the first and second articles of footwear including a sensor configured to detect a movement of the respective foot of the user and a storage medium for storing a plurality of individual units in a predetermined order; sensing a movement of one or both of the first foot and the second foot of the user with the sensor of the respective article of footwear; and in response to each movement sensed, successively providing an output to the user corresponding to one of the individual units according to the predetermined order.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein said output comprises broadcasting each of the individual units in an audible format.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein the sensing includes detecting a change in the weight of the user distributed to the respective foot.

18. The method of claim 15, wherein the movement includes alternating movement between the first foot of the user and the second foot of the user.

19. The method of claim 15, wherein the first and second articles of footwear are selected from the group consisting of socks, shoes, slippers, sandals and boots.

20. The method of claim 15, further comprising syncing each article of footwear such that each article of footwear is aware of the next unit in the predetermined order.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to footwear and more particularly, to footwear including electronic components configured to assist children to learn.

BACKGROUND

Many methods and systems have been employed for teaching people. In some manners, young children use books and/or videos to learn fundamental concepts, including for example, the letters of the alphabet and numbers. In these manners, time must be specifically allotted for the child to actively participate in learning these concepts. Footwear consists of garments worn on the feet and are worn for a variety of reasons including protection against the environment, hygiene and adornment. Several different types of footwear exist, but none are known to include methods or devices that are designed to help individuals, such as children, learn.

SUMMARY

One embodiment of the present application discloses a footwear system including devices configured to help individuals learn. Other embodiments include unique apparatus, devices, systems, and methods for reproducing audio signals in footwear that are designed to help a child learn. Further embodiments, forms, objects, features, advantages, aspects, and benefits of the present application shall become apparent from the detailed description and figures included herewith.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side view of an illustrative embodiment article of footwear for use in a system for teaching according to the present application.

FIG. 2 is a partial cut-away diagrammatic view of the sole of the article of footwear illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic view depicting the configuration of the controller of each article of footwear of the system of the present application.

DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention, reference will now be made to the embodiments illustrated in the drawings and specific language will be used to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Any such alterations and further modifications in the illustrated devices, and such further applications of the principles of the invention as illustrated herein are contemplated as would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which the invention relates.

The present application is generally directed to an arrangement of first and second articles of footwear which may be used in a system or method for teaching a user, preferentially a child, a plurality of individual units according to a predetermined order. The arrangement is configured to sense movement of the feet of a user and to provide one of the individual units in response to each movement sensed of the first and second foot of a user. In an exemplary form, the footwear may provide to the user, in proper order, the letters of the alphabet as the user walks or moves while wearing the articles of footwear. Further details regarding the features of the arrangement of the first and second articles of footwear will be provided herein.

Referring now to FIG. 1, there is illustrated a side view of an article of footwear 10 that includes a system for assisting a user in learning a plurality of individual units according to a predetermined order. While only a single article of footwear 10 is illustrated in FIG. 1, it should be appreciated that the systems and methods of the present application utilize two articles of footwear 10 and as such, a second article of footwear (not illustrated) including features similar to those described herein with respect to article 10 would be included in one form. Article 10 is illustrated in the form of a slide-on slipper and includes a sole portion 11 including a heel portion 14 opposite a toe portion 16. Toe portion 16 is enclosed by a foot cover 18 which extends around and covers the toes and part of the foot of the user and holds article 10 on the foot of the user. It is contemplated that article 10 in the form of a slide-on slipper may include features in addition to or in lieu of those illustrated in FIG. 1. Additionally, it is contemplated that article 10 may be configured or arranged as a sock, shoe, sandal, slipper, loafer, or boot in alternative embodiments.

Sole portion 11 of article 10 is shown in greater detail in a partial cut-away diagrammatic view in FIG. 2. Sole portion 11 includes a bottom portion 12 (see FIG. 1) and a top portion 13 between which, in one form, circuitry 19 is positioned. Circuitry 19 generally includes interconnected sensor 20, controller 24, storage medium 28, speaker 32 and power source 40. It is contemplated that in alternative embodiments not shown, circuitry 19 may include one or more components in addition to or in lieu of that illustrated in FIG. 2. It should further be understood that in various embodiments the componentry of circuitry 19 may be arranged in one or more alternative fashions to that depicted in FIG. 2.

Sensor 20 is generally structured to detect movement of the foot of the user upon which article 10 is worn. In one form, sensor 20 may be a pressure sensor configured to detect a change in the weight of the user distributed to the respective foot. For example, the change in weight detected by sensor 20 may correspond to a step taken by the user with the respective foot. In this form, sensor 20 may detect each of a successive series of movements made by the user. In response to detecting movement of the respective foot of the user, sensor 20 generates a corresponding sensor signal that is conveyed along signal pathway 22 to controller 24.

Controller 24 operates in accordance with operating logic to provide an output signal in response to the sensor signal. In one form, controller 24 is comprised of a microprocessor that includes one or more components that may be configured as a single unit, or distributed among two or more units. In other forms, controller 24 may comprise an application specific integrated circuit (“ASIC”). In yet other forms, the controller 24 may include analog circuitry, digital circuitry, and/or a hybrid combination of both of these types. In addition, in other forms, controller 24 is of the programmable variety that executes algorithms and processes data in accordance with its operating logic being defined by programming instructions (such as software or firmware). Alternatively or additionally, the operating logic for controller 24 is at least partially defined by hardwired logic or other hardware. Further details regarding the operating logic of controller 24 will be provided below.

Controller 24 is connected with transceiver 46 via pathway 45 in order to facilitate bidirectional communication between a first controller 24 of a first article 10 and a second controller 24 of a second article 10. Transceiver 46 includes a transmitter and a receiver to perform bidirectional communication between the first and second articles 10. The transmitter and receiver included in transceiver 46 may be independent of one another or combined as an integral unit.

After controller 24 receives and processes the sensor signal from sensor 20, a controller output signal is output along signal pathway 26 to storage medium 28. Storage medium 28 is generally configured to store a plurality of individual units in a predetermined ordered. For example, in one form, the individual units stored by storage medium 28 are letters and the predetermined order corresponds to the order of the alphabet. In another form, the individual units stored by storage medium 28 are numbers and the predetermined order corresponds to the sequential order of numbers, e.g. 1, 2, 3 . . . . In other embodiments, it is contemplated that the individual units may be colors or may be letters, with the predetermined order of letters corresponding to the arrangement of the letters in a word, for example, the individual units for the word “THE” would be T, H, E. In this latter form, it is contemplated that the individual unit preceding these letters and the individual unit following these letters may correspond to the word “THE.” In yet another form, it is contemplated that storage medium 28 may be programmable to change the individual units stored thereby or the order in which the individual units are arranged. In one form, controller 24 is interconnected with an external selector switch 50 to allow the user to select between numbers and letters as the individual units.

Storage medium 28 is further configured to provide one of the individual units in an audible format along pathway 33 to speaker 32 in response to the controller output signal output along signal pathway 26. In one form, storage medium 28 is connected with a digital-to-analog converter (“DAC”) 51 that converts a digital output from storage medium 28 into an analog output signal that is used to drive speaker 32 via pathway 52. In other forms, storage medium 28 comprises an ASIC that is operable to generate an analog output signal capable of driving speaker 32. It should be appreciated that the individual unit provided by storage medium 28 to speaker 32 will vary in accordance to the specific output signal provided by controller 24, further details of which shall be provided below. Speaker 32 is structured to audibly broadcast the individual unit to the user according to a standard format.

As illustrated in FIG. 2, circuitry 19 includes a power supply 40 structured to send electrical power to sensor 20, controller 24, storage medium 28, speaker 32 and/or transceiver 46, as needed. Only power supply pathway 43 to controller 24 is illustrated. It should be appreciated that certain types of sensor 20, storage medium 28, speaker 32 and/or transceiver 46 may derive any needed electrical power from pathways 22, 26, 33 and 45 as needed, and that in still other embodiments such devices are passive, not needing any type of persistent electrical power source. It is contemplated that power supply 40 is in the form of one or more electrochemical cells or battery of such cells, such as one or more replaceable batteries. It is further contemplated that in other embodiments one or more of sensor 20, controller 24, storage medium 28, speaker 32 and transceiver 46, each includes its own power source. Power source 40 is also connected to switch 42 via pathway 41. Switch 42 may be of any standard form and configured to be positioned between an open position where power is not supplied to circuitry 19 and a closed position where power is supplied to circuitry 19.

The components of circuitry 19 including sensor 20, controller 24, storage medium 28, speaker 32 and transceiver 46 may be alternatively interconnected. For example, in one arrangement the components of circuitry 19 may be interconnected using wired or wireless techniques with corresponding signals structured in an appropriate fashion. In yet other forms, the components set forth above may be provided or combined into one or more ASICs.

In FIG. 3 there is depicted a diagrammatic view of the operating logic of controller 24 of the first article of footwear 10 and controller 24a of a second article of footwear 10a, where article 10 is worn on the first foot of the user and article 10a is worn on the second foot of the user. It should be appreciated that article 10a includes features similar to those described above with respect to article 10. The wireless interconnection between controllers 24, 24a is also depicted in FIG. 3. In this illustrated embodiment, it should be appreciated that controllers 24, 24a are programmed with operating logic to be used with storage medium 28 where the individual units are letters and the predetermined order corresponds to the order of the alphabet. However, the operating logic depicted in FIG. 3 is also applicable to other arrangements where, for example, the individual units and/or predetermined order may vary.

At step 100 in FIG. 3, sensor 20 has sensed initial movement of the first foot of the user upon which article 10 is worn and has provided a corresponding sensor signal via pathway 22 to controller 24 of article 10. It should be appreciated that movement of the second foot of the user has not been sensed at stage 100. In response to receiving this sensor signal, controller 24 is programmed to provide an output signal corresponding to the first individual unit, in this example the letter “A,” such that in response to this output signal storage medium 28 provides the first individual unit “A” in an audible format and speaker 32 broadcasts the letter “A” to the user. At step 100, controller 24 is also programmed to increment I to the next individual unit of the predetermined order, which in this example is “B”. In this manner, controller 24 of article 10 will provide an output signal corresponding to the individual unit “B” if the next movement of either of the first foot or the second foot of the user is made by the first foot and sensor 20 of article 10 detects such movement. Controller 24 of article 10 is also programmed to provide a wireless signal IW to controller 24a of article 10a to instruct controller 24a to increment to the next individual unit of the predetermined order, which in this example is “B”. In this manner, controller 24a of article 10a will provide an output signal corresponding to “B” to storage medium 28a if the next movement of either of the first foot and the second foot of the user is made by the second foot and sensor 20a or article 10a detects such movement.

At step 200 illustrated in FIG. 3, the next movement of either the first foot or the second foot of the user has been made by the user and sensed by sensor 20a of article 10a. Sensor 20a has provided a corresponding sensor signal via pathway 22a to controller 24a of article 10a. In response to receiving this sensor signal, controller 24a, which was already incremented to provide an output signal corresponding to the next individual unit “B” at step 100, provides an output signal corresponding to “B” to storage medium 28a. In response to this output signal, storage medium 28a provides the individual unit “B” in an audible format to speaker 32a and speaker 32a broadcasts the letter “B” to the user.

Controller 24a is also programmed to increment I to the next individual unit of the predetermined order, which in the illustrated example is the letter “C”. In this manner, controller 24a of article 10a will provide an output signal corresponding to the individual unit “C” if the next movement of either of the first foot or the second foot of the user is made by the second foot and sensor 20a detects such movement. Controller 24a of article 10a is also programmed to provide a wireless signal IW to controller 24 of article 10 to instruct controller 24 to increment to the next individual unit of the predetermined order, which in this example is the letter “C”. In this manner, controller 24 of article 10 will provide an output signal corresponding to the individual unit “C” if the next movement of either of the first foot or the second foot of the user is made by the first foot and sensor 20 of article 10 detects such movement.

In this arrangement, as a person walks and alternates steps between the first foot and the second foot, the individual letters of the alphabet will be alternatingly supplied by the first and second articles of footwear but in accordance with the order of the alphabet. Furthermore, this operating logic allows one of the articles 10, 10a to provide consecutive ones of the individual units according to the predetermined order. For example, in the situation where a user hops on the first foot twice and then steps with the second foot, the first article 10 will provide two individual units according to the predetermined order and then the second article 10a will provide the next individual unit of the predetermined order.

In various situations, controllers 24, 24a may be instructed to increment I and also receive wireless signal IW instructing the controller to increment to the next individual unit. In these situations, controllers 24, 24a are programmed to provide an output signal corresponding to one of the individual units and respond only to the instruction to increment I. Thus, controllers 24, 24a would only increment to the next individual unit rather than increment twice consecutively. For example, in the event that a user simultaneously jumps with both feet and sensor 20 detects movement of the first foot at the same time sensor 20a detects movement of the second foot, controllers 24, 24a will each broadcast the same individual unit to the user while only incrementing to the next individual unit.

It should be appreciated that controllers 24, 24a are configured to repeat step 200 until they have provided an output signal corresponding to every individual unit stored by storage medium 28, 28a, at which point the controllers are programmed to restart at the first individual unit of the predetermined order. For example, with respect to the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3, controllers 24, 24a would repeat step 200 until they have provided an output signal corresponding to the letter “Z”, at which point controllers 24, 24a would restart at step 100 where they are programmed to provide an output signal corresponding to the first individual unit of the predetermined order, the letter “A”. It is also contemplated that controllers 24, 24a may restart with step 100 before providing an output signal corresponding to the last individual unit of the predetermined order. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 2 with respect to controller 24 (and also applicable to controller 24a), a reset button 36 is connected with controller 24 via pathway 37. Upon activation of reset button 36, the controller 24 is programmed to restart to provide an output signal corresponding to the first individual unit of the predetermined order, in this example the letter “A”, in response to the first movement sensed after activation of the reset button. It should be appreciated that if only one of controllers 24, 24a is reset, the controller which is reset can wirelessly instruct the other controller to reset and restart with step 100 in order to provide an output signal corresponding to the first individual unit of the predetermined order in response to the first movement sensed after receiving instructions to reset and restart with step 100.

There is provided systems and methods that incorporate first and second articles of footwear configured to be worn by a user and assist the user in learning individual units according to a predetermined order. In an exemplary form, the individual units correspond to letters and the predetermined order corresponds to the order of the alphabet.

According to one aspect, a system for teaching including an arrangement of a first article of footwear configured to be worn on a first foot of a user and a second article of footwear configured to be worn on a second foot of the user is provided. Each of the first and second articles of footwear includes a sensor configured to detect movement of the respective foot of the user and provide a corresponding sensor signal; a controller configured to provide an output signal in response to the sensor signal; a storage medium for storing a plurality of individual units in a predetermined order, the storage medium being configured to provide one of the individual units in an audible format in response to the output signal; and a speaker configured to broadcast the individual unit to the user. In response to each movement sensed of the first foot and the second foot of the user, the arrangement of the first and second articles of footwear successively broadcasts one of the individual units to the user according to the predetermined order. In one form, the movement sensed corresponds to alternating movement between the first foot and the second foot of the user.

According to another aspect, a system for teaching is provided which includes an arrangement of a first article of footwear and a second article of footwear. The first and second articles of footwear are configured to be worn on a first and second foot of a user, respectively. Each of the articles of footwear also includes a storage medium for storing a plurality of individual units in a predetermined order. The arrangement of the first and second articles of footwear also includes means for broadcasting the individual units to the user according to the predetermined order in response to a series of movement of one or both of the first foot and the second foot of the user.

According to a further aspect, a method for teaching is provided which includes providing a first article of footwear configured to be worn on a first foot of a user and a second article of footwear configured to be worn on a second foot of the user, each of the first and second articles of footwear including a sensor configured to detect a movement of the respective foot of the user and a storage medium for storing a plurality of individual units in a predetermined order; sensing a movement of one or both of the first foot and the second foot of the user with the sensor of the respective article of footwear; and in response to each movement sensed, successively providing an output to the user corresponding to one of the individual units according to the predetermined order.

While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, the same is to be considered illustrative and not restrictive in character, it being understood that only selected embodiments have been shown and described and that all changes, equivalents, and modifications that come within the scope of the inventions described herein or defined by the following claims are desired to be protected. Any experiments, experimental examples, or experimental results provided herein are intended to be illustrative of the present invention and should not be construed to limit or restrict the invention scope. Further, any theory, mechanism of operation, proof, or finding stated herein is meant to further enhance understanding of the present invention and is not intended to limit the present invention in any way to such theory, mechanism of operation, proof, or finding. In reading the claims, words such as “a”, “an”, “at least on”, and “at least a portion” are not intended to limit the claims to only one item unless specifically stated to the contrary. Further, when the language “at least a portion” and/or “a portion” is used, the claims may include a portion and/or the entire item unless specifically stated to the contrary.