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Publication numberUS20040077438 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/274,349
Publication dateApr 22, 2004
Filing dateOct 21, 2002
Priority dateOct 21, 2002
Publication number10274349, 274349, US 2004/0077438 A1, US 2004/077438 A1, US 20040077438 A1, US 20040077438A1, US 2004077438 A1, US 2004077438A1, US-A1-20040077438, US-A1-2004077438, US2004/0077438A1, US2004/077438A1, US20040077438 A1, US20040077438A1, US2004077438 A1, US2004077438A1
InventorsIn Choi
Original AssigneeIn Choi
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Racket orientation indicator device and associated method of operation
US 20040077438 A1
Abstract
A device and method for determining whether or not the string face of a racket is held in a vertical plane as the racket is swung. At least one sensor is attached to a racket. The sensors detect when the string face of the racket is in a vertical plane and when the string face deviates from that vertical plane. An indicator is also attached to the racket, wherein the indicator produces a perceivable indication to the user of the racket wher activated. A logic circuit is used to connect the sensors to the indicator. When the sensors detect that the string face of the racket has wandered from the vertical plane, the indicator is activated and the player holding the racket is informed of the lapse in form. By repeatedly swinging the racket and trying to avoid activating the indicator, a player can train to have a proper level swing.
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Claims(20)
What is claimed is:
1. A racket assembly comprising:
a handle;
a racket head supported by said handle;
a string face strung across said racket head, wherein said string face extends in a common plane;
at least one sensor for detecting when said common plane of said string face deviates from a vertical plane;
an indicator for providing a perceivable indication when said common plane of said string face is detected deviating from said vertical plane.
2. The assembly according to claim 1, wherein said perceivable indication is an audible indication.
3. The assembly according to claim 1, wherein said at least one senor detects multiple degrees of deviation of said string face from said vertical plane.
4. The assembly according to claim 3, wherein said indicator provides a different indication for each of said multiple degrees of deviation detected.
5. The assembly according to claim 1, wherein said at least one sensor and said indicator are contained in an electronic subassembly.
6. The assembly according to claim 5, wherein said electronic subassembly is selectively detachable from said racket assembly.
7. The assembly according to claim 5, further including a neck region between said handle and said enlarged head, wherein said electronic assembly is disposed in said neck region.
8. The assembly according to claim 1, further including an impact sensor for detecting when said string face of said racket has contacted a ball.
9. The assembly according to claim 8, wherein said indicator is enabled only when said impact sensor senses said string face has impacted a ball.
10. The assembly according to claim 1 further including a disabling sensor that detects when said handle is held in a generally vertical orientation.
11. The assembly according to claim 10, wherein said indicator is deactivated when said disabling sensor detects that said handle is being held in a generally vertical orientation.
12. A method of indicating when the string face of a racket is not being held in a vertical plane, said method comprising the steps of:
providing at least one sensor to a racket that detects when the string face of the racket is oriented outside of a vertical plane;
providing an indicator on said racket that is capable of producing a perceivable indication when activated; and
activating said indicator when said sensors detect that the string face of the racket is oriented outside the vertical plane.
13. The method according to claim 12, wherein said perceivable indication produced by said indicator is an audible indication.
14. The method according to claim 12, wherein said at least one sensor detects degrees of deviation of said string face from the vertical plane.
15. The method according to claim 14, wherein said indicator provides a different perceivable indication for each of said degrees of deviation detected.
16. The method according to claim 12, further including the step of detecting when the string face of the racket has contacted a ball.
17. The method according to claim 16, further including the step of enabling said indicator only after it has been detected that the string face of the racket has contacted a ball.
18. A tennis training assembly that attaches to a tennis racket having a string face, said assembly including:
at least one sensor for detecting when said string face deviates from a vertical plane; and
an indicator for providing a perceivable indication when said string face is detected deviating from said vertical plane.
19. The assembly according to claim 18, wherein said at least one senor detects multiple degrees of deviation of said string face from said vertical plane.
20. The assembly according to claim 18, wherein said indicator provides a different indication for each of said multiple degrees of deviation detected.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to rackets that are used in sports activities such as tennis, squash, badminton and the like. More particularly, the present invention relates to electronic devices that are integrated into such rackets, or attachable to such rackets, that help a person train to properly use those rackets.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] There are many sports that are played with a racket. One of the most popular of these sports is tennis. In the game of tennis, the racket includes an oblong head section supported by a handle. A string is strung back and forth through the head section of the racket, thereby producing a mesh structure that is known as the string face of the racket. The string face of the racket is the surface of the racket that is used in the game to contact the ball.

[0005] The string face of the racket extends in a single plane. During play, it is the orientation of the plane of the string face that mostly determines the direction of a ball or other projectile struck by the racket.

[0006] In the game of tennis, players are taught to hold the tennis racket in their hands so that the plane of the string face extends vertically. This vertical orientation of the string face should be maintained as the racket is swung and contacts the tennis ball. Presently, a determination of whether or not a racket's string face is held vertically as it contacts a ball can only be determined from the trajectory of the ball after the ball leaves the string face. If a ball, having a level trajectory prior to striking the string face of the racket, has either an ascending or descending trajectory after impacting the string face, then it can be determined that the string face was not vertical at the time of impact. Accordingly, the ability of a person to practice holding a racket vertically when swinging the racket could formally be done only by actually striking a ball. Consequently, practice time was limited to the time a player actually spends on a court striking balls.

[0007] A need therefore exists for a device that can help a person determine if they are holding the string face of a racket vertically during a swing without having to strike a ball. As such, a person can practice their racket swing in any location and at any time. This need is met by the present invention as described and claimed below.

SUMMARY Of THE INVENTION

[0008] The present invention is a device and method for determining whether or not the string face of a racket is held in a vertical plane as the racket is swung. At least one sensor is attached to a racket, either retroactively, or at the time of the racket's manufacture. The sensors detect when the string face of the racket is in a vertical plane and when the string face deviates from that vertical plane. An indicator is also attached to the racket, wherein the indicator produces a perceivable indication to the user of the racket when activated. A logic circuit is used to connect the sensors to the indicator. When the sensors detect that the string face of the racket has wandered from the vertical plane, the indicator is activated and the player holding the racket is informed of the lapse in form. By repeatedly swinging the racket and trying to avoid activating the indicator, a player can train to have a proper level swing.

[0009] Other sensors may be present that detect when the racket has contacted a ball or when the racket is being used to serve a ball. These sensors, either activate or deactivate the normal functioning of the indicator to prevent the indicator from producing false error indications.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010] For a better understanding of the present invention, reference is made to the following description of exemplary embodiments thereof, considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0011]FIG. 1 is a side view of a first exemplary embodiment of a tennis racket in accordance with the present invention;

[0012]FIG. 2 is a schematic block diagram illustrating the electronic components of a simple version of the present invention; and

[0013]FIG. 3 is a schematic block diagram illustrating the electronic components of a complex version of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0014] Although the present invention device can be used in association with any strung racket, such as a racquetball racket, a squash racket, a badminton racket or the like, the present invention device is particularly well suited for use as a tennis racket. Accordingly, the exemplary embodiment of the present invention will be described as a tennis racket in order to set forth the best mode contemplated for the invention. However, it will be understood that any other type of racket can be substituted for the tennis racket described.

[0015] Referring to FIG. 1, a tennis racket 10 is shown in accordance with the present invention. The tennis racket 10 has a handle 12, an enlarged head 14 and a neck region 16 where there is a transition between the handle 12 and the enlarged head 14. A string face 20 is strung within the confines of the enlarged head 14, wherein the string face 20 lays in a flat plane.

[0016] The tennis racket 10 has an imaginary centerline 22 that extends down the center of the racket 10. The handle 12 of the racket 10, the enlarged head 14 of the racket 10 and its string face 20 are all symmetrically disposed around the centerline 22.

[0017] In the game of tennis, it is desirable to keep the string face 20 of the racket 10 in a vertical plane during many types of swings. It is especially important to hold the string face 20 of the racket 10 vertically during a swing at the point of contact with a tennis ball. Using the imaginary centerline 22 of the tennis racket 10 as a reference, it can be seen that when the string face 20 of the racket 10 is vertical, the string face 20 extends vertically both above and below the centerline 22. However, when the string face 20 of the racket 10 is not vertical, it means that the racket 10 has been turned about the centerline 22 in one of the directions of rotation arrows 24. As such, the string face 20 of the racket 10 extends above and below the centerline 22 at complementary angles.

[0018] An electronic assembly 30 is affixed to the racket 10 in the neck region 16 of the racket 10. The electronic assembly 30 contains at least one sensor that detects when the string face 20 of the racket 10 is in a vertical plane and when it is not. If the string face 20 of the tennis racket 10 is sensed to be not vertical, the electronic assembly 30 produces an audible tone that can be heard by the player holding the racket 10. As such, by listening to the audible signal, a player can tell if the string face 20 of the racket 10 is being held vertically during a swing. By adjusting the racket 10 in response to the audible signals, a player can correct his/her swing so that the swing keeps the string face 20 of the racket 10 vertical.

[0019] Furthermore, the audible signals generated by the racket 10 can be produced during any swing, whether or not the swing produces contact with a ball. Consequently, a person can practice swinging the racket 10 without having to strike a ball and the racket 10 will provide an indication as to whether or not the racket string face 20 was held vertically throughout the swing. A tennis swing can therefore be practiced at any time, in a confined space, without need of a ball.

[0020] From the embodiment of FIG. 1, it can be seen that the electronic assembly 30 is preferably positioned in the neck section 16 of the racket 10, in between the handle 12 and the enlarged head 14. The electronic assembly 30 can be manufactured as part of the racket 10, or can be retroactively added to the racket 10. On the exterior of the electronic assembly 30 is a speaker port 32 and an on/off switch 34. Optional adjustment controls 36 can be present depending upon the embodiment of the present invention used.

[0021] Referring to FIG. 2, a schematic for a simple embodiment of the present invention is shown. In this embodiment, audible tones are broadcast aloud by a speaker 40. A tone generator 42 produces the tones broadcast by the speaker 40. The tone generator 42 is capable of producing a plurality of distinct tones that are readily discernable by a person holding the tennis racket. A volume control 44 is provided, so that a player can adjust the volume of the tones according to the needs of the tennis player in light of the surrounding ambient noise.

[0022] Within the electronic assembly 30 are sensors 46. The sensors 46 are oriented with respect to the tennis racket so that the sensors 46 detect when the string face 20 (FIG. 1) of the racket is tilted out of a vertical plane. In the embodiment of FIG. 2, multiple sensors 46 are used. Each sensor 46 has a different degree of sensitivity. Accordingly, if the string face of the racket is tilted only slightly out of the vertical, only one of the sensors 46 will detect the deviation. However, as the degree of deviation from the vertical increases, subsequent sensors 46 will detect the increasing deviation.

[0023] The sensors are coupled to a logic circuit 48. The logic circuit 48 directs the tone generator 42, thereby instructing the tone generator 42 to produce a tone. Depending upon the degree of deviation from vertical and the number of sensors 46 activated, the logic circuit 48 instructs the tone generator 42 to produce different tones. For example, if the string face 20 (FIG. 1) is titled only a few degrees from vertical, only one highly sensitive sensor may detect the deviation. The sensor signal is read by the logic circuit 48 and activates the tone generator 42 to produce a first tone. If the angle of deviation from vertical increases, a medium sensitivity sensor detects the angle and the logic circuit 48 activates the tone generator 42 to produce a second tone. In the same manner, the tone generated is changed as the string face experiences different angles of inclination and different combinations of the sensors 46 are activated.

[0024] Accordingly, when the string face 20 (FIG. 1) of the tennis racket is vertical, no audible indication is produced. However, as the string face of the racket is tilted out of the vertical, an audible tone is produced that varies with the angle of inclination experienced by the string face. Accordingly, as a tennis player swings the tennis racket, the player will be able to hear when the string face of the racket moves out of the vertical plane. By the tone generated, the tennis player will also be able to hear a signal that tells the player how far from the vertical the string face was moved. Furthermore, by listening to the generated tones and adjusting the racket during the swing, a player can practice perfecting their swing so that there is little deviation of the string face during the swing.

[0025] In the embodiment of FIG. 2, a plurality of different sensors 46 are used to detect various degrees of deviation of the string face from the vertical plane. The use of multiple sensors 46 is merely exemplary and it should be understood that only a single sensor need be used. Single tilt sensors do exist that produce an analog output that is dependent upon the angle of inclination experienced. Any such sensor can be used. Similarly, a simple tilt senor that produces only one signal when tilted beyond a threshold angle of inclination can also be used in an inexpensive, simple embodiment of the present invention.

[0026] In the game of tennis, there are times when the string face of the racket is purposely moved out of the vertical plane, for example, during an overhead lob or an overhead serve. Also, due to differences in the ability and size of people who play tennis, not everyone does have, or should have, a perfectly level swing throughout their entire swing. Rather, they have swings that hold the string face level primarily just before, during and immediately after contact with the ball.

[0027] Referring to FIG. 3, a schematic of a more complex embodiment of the present invention is shown. Since the schematic of FIG. 3 shares many components with the schematic of FIG. 2, like parts share the same reference numbers in order to reduce confusion. In the embodiment of FIG. 3, there is at least one sensor 46 that detects when the string face of the racket is turned out of a vertical plane. The sensors 46 are read by a logic circuit 48, that directs a tone generator 42 to create tones. This method of operation is the same as was previously described with regard to the embodiment of FIG. 2. What differs about the embodiment of FIG. 3, is the addition of two more sensors. One sensor is a handle orientation sensor 52. The handle orientation sensor 52 detects when the handle 12 (FIG. 1) of the racket is held vertically up, as during the height of a serve, or vertically down, as during a lob shot. In such orientations, the handle orientation sensor 52 produces a signal that instructs the logic circuit 48 to not activate the tone generator 42 regardless of the angle of inclination of the racket's string face. Accordingly, a tennis player will not have to be distracted with tones during a serve.

[0028] In the embodiment of FIG. 3, an impact sensor 50 is also present. The impact sensor 50 is an accelerometer that can sense the impact of when the string face of the racket comes in contact with a ball. The logic circuit 48 can be configured so that it is capable of activating the tone generator 42 only during and immediately following the impact sensor 50 detecting contact with the ball. Accordingly, the tone generator 42 will only generate a tone as the string face of the racket contacts a ball. If the string face of the racket is vertical at the time of impact, then no tone is generated. If the string face of the racket is not vertical at the time of impact, taken a tone is generated that informs the player of the error. This method of operation enables the present invention to help tennis players who do not have a level swing and are not inclined to change their swing.

[0029] It will be understood that the embodiments of the present invention described and illustrated are merely exemplary and that a person skilled in the art can make numerous modifications and variations to the shown embodiments. For example, the electronic assembly can be contained within the handle of the racket, rather than in the neck region of the racket. The electronic assembly can be either manufactured as part of the racket or selectively attached to an existing racket. All such alternate embodiments are intended to be included in the present invention as claimed below.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7326133 *Oct 7, 2005Feb 5, 2008In Young ChoiRacket assembly that warns of a fatigued string condition
US7383728Jul 12, 2006Jun 10, 2008Ultimate Balance, Inc.Orientation and motion sensing in athletic training systems, physical rehabilitation and evaluation systems, and hand-held devices
US7634379Mar 21, 2008Dec 15, 2009Ultimate Balance, Inc.Newtonian physical activity monitor
US20100279800 *Sep 14, 2007Nov 4, 2010Zueger ChristianSystem for capturing tennis match data
Classifications
U.S. Classification473/553
International ClassificationA63B69/36, A63B49/02, A63B69/38, A63B49/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63B49/027, A63B69/38, A63B69/3614, A63B2071/0627, A63B49/00
European ClassificationA63B69/38, A63B49/00