US 20050153785 A1
An automatic instant video replay apparatus system for sporting, which relates to a computerized video recording and automatic instant replay apparatus system, can be used for providing instant video visualization of a golfer's swing at home, at golf driving ranges, and at outdoor natural grass, and for other sport activities.
1. An instant automatic video replay system for recording and instantly replaying motion images, comprising:
(a) a time and motion trigger point, capable of placing a golf ball on it and to be used as a point for receiving an impact force onto the golf ball;
(b) a camera, installed near said time and motion trigger point, and adjusted to said point so as to acquire motion images of balls such as golf ball and players;
(c) a computerized image analysis and storing system, connected to said camera and then process, analyze and store the images caught by said camera;
(d) a display, connected to said computer system to display the images of said camera or the images analyzed by or stored in said computer;
(e) a control panel, connected to said computer system so as to monitor said computer system and said camera;
wherein said computerized image analysis and storing apparatus periodically analyzes the image frames of said computerized image analysis and storing apparatus and then determines whether said time and motion trigger point has already been activated;
if the time and motion trigger point has not yet been activated, then said display displays current images of said time and motion trigger point and the player; if the time and motion trigger point has already been activated, then said computer system retrieves the complete motions of the players (consisting of the pre-hit, hit, and post-hit motion in the golfing) from the memory of said computer and then displays them on the display; if said images have been completely displayed, then the display returns to said time and motion trigger point and the current images of the player.
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8. An instant automatic video replay system for recording and instant and automatic replay of motion images is composed of:
(a) a hitting area, on which a golf ball can be placed;
(b) a camera, installed near said hitting area and adjusted to said hitting area to catch the swing images of the golf ball and the golfers.
(c) a computerized image analysis and storing apparatus, connected to said camera to process, analyze and store the images caught by said camera;
(d) a display, connected to said computer system to display the images from said cameras or the images analyzed by or stored in said computer;
(e) a control panel, connected to said computer system to monitor said computer system and camera(s);
wherein said computerized image analysis and storing apparatus periodically analyzes the image frames stored in the computerized image analysis and storing apparatus based on colors and then determines whether the golf ball placed in said hitting area has already been hit;
if the golf ball has not yet been hit, then said display displays current images of said hitting area and the golfer; if the golf ball has already been hit, then said computer system retrieves the complete swing motion (including the pre-hit, hit, and post-hit motion) of the golfer from the memory and then displays them on the display until the display of these images is completed such that afterwards, the computer returns to the current images of said hitting and the golfer's swing motion.
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1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to the application of a computer, cameras, and image analyzing technology for a video recording and automatic instant video replay apparatus system of a golfer's swing or other sporting activities, and the application of the apparatus for the golfer's swing practice at home, at golf driving ranges, and at outdoor natural grass, or for other spoilt activities.
2. Description of the Prior Art
The golf is one of the most popular sports in the world. According to recent statistics released by the Department of Commerce of the USA, there are 23 million occasional or frequent golfers in the USA. Moreover, there is a trend of gradual decreasing age with these golfers. The golf is also one of the most difficult sports recognized by the people of the world to learn. In terms of the quantity and the types of learning materials, apparatuses, or equipment, the golf is second to none among the world's sports. The golf swing motion requires the accurate coordination of different body parts (such as hands, elbows, alms, shoulders, waists, hips, thighs, legs, feet, heads, and necks) in time, force, and movement so as to produce good impact at golf balls. However, as the golfer cannot see his own bodily golf swing motion (without the assistance of any equipment, the golfer can only see a partial vision of his golf swing motion of the hands, feet, and abdomen.) Consequently, there are a lot of difficulties in learning it. To overcome these difficulties, some golfers place one or several upright mirrors on the floor or walls indoors so as to assist themselves in observing their own swing movements. Moreover, some other golfers record their own swing movements by means of a portable camera supported on a tripod (or a camera operated by the others.) To facilitate subsequent evaluation, generally speaking, a full-set of computerized swing-analyzing apparatus is always installed in some well-established golf-learning schools. This type of apparatus generally includes computers, one or several cameras, image analyzing software, and graphic software, which can record the swing images of the golfers at several angles under the operation of one or several persons. After the images have been subject to digital transformation, they are stored in the memory of the computer, then replayed from the memory, and subsequently are subject to further image analysis of each image frame by means of graphic software. Finally, the results of the analysis are interpreted and illustrated by the trainer. Some of these swing practice accessory equipment cannot provide whole-body images (such as upright mirrors), and others require the assistance of the others in the operation (such as computers and several cameras). Their greatest common disadvantage is the inability to replay the swing movement instantly. In the cases of portable cameras, after having recorded a pair of the swing motion, it is necessary to press keys such as the “Rewind” key and the “Replay” key on the cameras so as to see the pre-recorded swing movement. Similarly, the functions of the computerized swing analyzing equipment in the golf-learning schools have to be operated by golfers or the third party so as to replay the pre-recorded images. To alleviate the burden caused by the repetition of these complicated operations, most of the golfers or trainers will record several swing movements (such as five to ten movements) at one time, then replay and analyze these movements.
In Europe and America, there is a swing-analyzing equipment called theMotionCoach™ (the company web-site at http://motioncoach.com; the company name is Mediavention Inc., which is a company registered in Guelph, Ontario. Canada), which is widely used in a lot of golf-learning schools. This equipment can be set up by the users to record, replay, and pause motions in an automatic manner. For example, the users can program to record the motions for five minutes, replay the motions for five minutes, and then pause the motions for one minute. Although this equipment can obviate the above-mentioned complicated key-pressing operations, it cannot instantly and automatically replay the images right after the ball impact of each swing. In terms of the efficiency of swing video training tools, a single complete swing motion (starting from the address, back swing, down swing, ball hitting, to follow-through, which generally lasts approximately 3˜6 seconds) is the most basic step and the most suitable cycle unit for recording and replay analysis. For the golfers or the trainers, they can all analyze the merits and shortcomings of the swing motion right after each swing with the objective that the merits can be enhanced and the shortcomings can be got rid of in their next swing. In general it is not necessary to record and replay the scenes of body movements in between two swing motions, the mis-hit, or those unrelated to golf swings. Consequently, there is a need for an apparatus capable of instantly and automatically recording and replaying the images whenever the swing motion has been made so as to assist the golfers in self-practice or practice under the guidance of trainers to increase learning effects. The U.S. Pat. No. 5,342,054 has already disclosed the application of computers, a plurality of color image cameras, an infra-red (IR) camera, and an infrared flash lamp (which is a group of optical sensors). This invention applies infrared cameras and image analysis to detect whether the golfer has already placed the golf ball on the golf hitting mat, and then turn on the photodetector sensor array to determine the time spot at which the golf club strikes at the hitting area, and within this period, a series of club head images are photographed by the infrared cameras and the infrared flash lamp so as to calculate the speed of the club heads. Although in this cited invention, the golfer can replay the images after the swing has been made, it needs at least two cameras (one of them is an expensive infrared camera), an infrared flash lamp, and a photodetector sensor array. The users of the cited invention should at least press a key for instant video replay. Also, the core technology of the cited invention relies on detecting whether the golf ball has been placed in the hitting area. Obviously, the technology disclosed in the cited invention differs from the present application in many ways. First, the present invention requires a minimum of one camera without key pressing for video replay. The cited patent needs at least two cameras and the users must press at least one button for video replay Secondly, on the image analyzing technology (please refer to the following illustration), the present application determines whether the golf ball has been hit, while the cited patent detects whether the ball is placed on the hitting mat. Another U.S. Pat. No. 6,042,483 has already disclosed the application of two optic sensors, two high-speed CCD cameras, and one control unit to record the characteristics (speed of the ball, impact angle, and amount of backspin) of the golf ball when the golf ball is hit and then calculate the carry and the trajectory. The cited invention detects the impact time by means of optic sensors and then starts the CCD cameras based on this impact time, but no related technology in connection with instant replay of the swing motion has been mentioned in the cited invention. The present invention is intended to provide an apparatus capable of recording, storing, and instantly automatically replaying and the method thereof, and then apply the technology in the golfer's swing practice at home, at golf driving ranges, and at outdoor natural grass, and for other sport activities.
In order to rectify the above-mentioned disadvantages inherent to the conventional techniques, the inventor has endeavored for years by continuous research and experimentation attempting to find out the remedies for such disadvantages, and at last has succeeded in realizing the present invention.
As the above-mentioned disadvantages are inherent in the conventional golf swing accessory equipment, the present invention is intended to provide an apparatus capable of recording, storing, and instant and automatic replaying of the golfer's motions by means of image technology to be used in the golfer's swing practice at home, at golf driving ranges, and at outdoor natural grass, and for other spoilt activities.
Unlike the common computerized swing analyzing equipment, the instant automatic image video replay apparatus of the present invention is composed of computers, one or a plurality of cameras, image analyzing software, and graphic software so that it can first record the swing images of the golfer at different angles under the operation of one person or several persons and then the images are subject to digital transformation, stored in the memory of the computer and subsequently replayed from the memory These images are later subject to further individual image frame analysis by means of graphic software. In this way, this can assist the golfer in self-practice or practice under the instruction of trainers so as to increase the learning effectiveness, which is an object of the present invention.
The instant automatic image video replay apparatus of the present invention also does not need to be constructed from a lot of expensive equipment, unlike the above-mentioned computerized swing-analyzing equipment. Hence, this can allow people to have an apparatus of better functions and effects at a lower price, which is another object of the present invention.
The instant automatic image video replay apparatus of the present invention does not need a plurality of cameras (and even extremely expensive infrared cameras), and only one camera is required to achieve the function. Moreover, the users do not need to press any key to achieve the function of replaying after the recording has been made. Moreover, its operations become even simpler, which is another object of the present invention.
For fuller understanding of the nature and objects of the invention, reference should be made to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
The object of the present invention is to provide the sport circles with a multiple-angle video recording and automatic instant video replay system that meet the imminent needs of the spoilt circles. For a clearer explanation, the golf is taken as an example here, and the application of the apparatus in the other sports will be explained later. In its broadest sense, the apparatus of the present invention includes one or a plurality of cameras so as to catch one-angle or multiple-angle images of the swing motion of the golfer; analogical image data is digitalized and then stored and the results are subsequently used to determine whether the ball has been hit by means of an image processing, analyzing and storing system; a frame display instantly displays or replays the swing motion of the golfer on the frame; and a control keyboard to monitor the entire apparatus system. Likewise, taking the indoor golf swing practice as an example, as shown in
A host (15), a control panel (16), and a frame display (17) provided by the present invention can be placed at the back of the artificial golf mat to facilitate front viewing and operation of the golfer.
A front camera (18) provided by the present invention can also be placed together with the computer on the same frame and then connected to the computer by means of a socket (generally speaking, USB 1394 in series parallel or parallel) provided by the computer.
After a side camera (19) provided by the present invention is connected to the computer by means of a socket, it can be moved by the golfer to the required position, but the commonly used position is the backside of the golfer (as shown in
The above-mentioned “mirror” mode and the operation of the computerized image system are shown in
The software flow chart of the above-mentioned image frame analyzing technology is shown in
Until the above-mentioned, the main difference between the system disclosed in the present invention and the above-mentioned U.S. Pat. No. 5,342,034 lies in the fact that the present invention applies a visible ray image analysis of a low-priced CCD camera to determine whether the golfer has already swung the golf club, whereas the cited US patent applies the infrared ray image data of an expensive infrared camera for analysis. Moreover, the main difference between the present invention and the cited invention is that the present invention uses ball hitting as the trigger point for starting the automatic replay. However, the disadvantage of the cited US patent is that a lot of golfers are used to place the ball in the hitting area but they do not hurry to swing the golf club, thereby causing an early start of the camera, overflow of images in the storage area, and the recording of the non-swing frame. Furthermore, the users of the cited US patent need to press at least one key for instant replay. However, no key pressing is required for instant replay in the present invention.
The above-mentioned swing speed and time settings are primarily adjusted based on the swing properties of different golfers. For example, some people are slow in back swinging but fast in down swinging, whereas some other people are slow or fast both in back swinging and in down swinging. The technology disclosed in the present invention takes ball hitting as the reference point and allows the golfers to set the pre-hit swing time (generally ranging from approximately 1.5 to 3 seconds) and the post-hit swing time (generally ranging from approximately 1.5 to 3 seconds). If the golfers do not change the settings in the setting window of the software, then the default settings (for example, 2 seconds for the pre-hit swing time; 2 seconds for the post-hit swing time) are taken as the standard. To make the technology disclosed in the present application more applicable, no-manual operation, automatic “mirror” mode and replay function are installed. Moreover, additional five function keys (except the Start/Power key) are provided as shown in
The system disclosed by the present invention can be applied both in the indoor golf (golf mat) practice and outdoor grasslands. The difference between them is that for indoor practice, the hitting area of the white golf ball is the golf mat (or an area covering a larger or smaller golf mat) whereas for outdoor practice, there is no specific ball-placing area or ball-hitting area. However, because the color of natural grass (green or pale green), the color of mud (yellowish), the color of shrubs (gray or brown), and the color of pebbles (gray or brown) all differ from the white color of the white golf ball, the technology disclosed in the present invention can determine whether the ball has been placed and the ball has been hit by means of the above-mentioned image analyzing software so as to activate the instant replay function. To further prevent the interference of foreign colors (such as the color of the white golfer's shoes or socks) on the color analysis procedure of the image, the present invention can separately provide a rectangular (or other shaped) border on the lower region of the frame as shown in
The inventor also finds that the system disclosed in the present invention can be applied to the other sports that requires instant image replay such as the tennis service practice. As the tennis ball is greenish yellow in color and the tennis racket (mostly black or silver; the tennis player should avoid using a yellowish green racket) and the player's skin and clothes (the player should avoid wearing yellowish green clothes) for being differentiated from the tennis ball. Consequently, one of the cameras of the system disclosed in the subject application is adjusted to the ball throwing location of the player up in the sky so that the image color can be analyzed to determine whether the player has already thrown the ball and the ball has already been hit beyond the hitting area so as to activate the automatic instant video replay function, whereas another or several cameras can provide multiple-angle images. Likewise, the player can set the pre-hit and the post-hit time (or use the default settings); for example, for the ball pitching practice of the baseball, as the color (grayish white) of the baseball and the color (yellowish brown) of the baseball glove, or the batter's palm (yellowish white) or clothes (the batter should avoid wearing grayish white clothes) can be differentiated from each other. Consequently only one camera of the system disclosed in the present application is adjusted to the area at which the batter raises his arm to pitch the ball so as to determine whether the baseball has already been thrown based on the image color analysis so as to activate the instant automatic replay function. For example, the service of table tennis ball follows the similar practice. For example, for the specific postures (such as triple loop jump) of figure skating, as it is difficult for the ice skaters to recognize the fault in their posture, if the technology disclosed in the present application is used, then one camera is adjusted to the indoor rink at which the skater jumps, and when the skater glides into the frame, then the image color analysis software can determine whether the skater has already glided inside the video recording area based on the data (all white before the skater glides into the area; additional colors shown for the ice-skates and clothes after the skater has glided into the area) so as to start the automatic video replay to fully record the motion of the skater. To facilitate viewing, the computer, keys, and screen display of the present invention can be placed near the location at which the skater has already finished a specific motion. Likewise, the ice skater can set (or use default settings) the recording time after gliding into the jumping area. To take the different application fields and the users' habits into account, the present application separately allows the users to adjust the settings in the settings window of the software for the lag time for automatic replay. Taking the indoor golf swing practice as an example, once the image color analysis software detects that the ball has already been hit, it continues to record the subsequent motion (ranging from 1.5 to 3 seconds; can be adjusted by the player) after the ball has been hit. Then if there is no lag, then instantly retrieve the complete swing motion before and after the ball has been hit from the memory for video replay. However sometimes the golfer is used to stand for a while after the follow-through and then view the replay frame again. Consequently, under these two conditions, its replay lag time differs and should be set by the user on his own. The other sports can also have the requirement of a replay lag time. Like the other settings, this setting can be adjusted in the settings window of the software once the computer is started.
Concluding the different sports applications of the above-mentioned system disclosed in the present application, the following points can be summarized (Please refer to Table 1 and
(1) Time & Motion Trigger Point: This is a point selected from the repetitive motions starting from the time at which recording and automatic replay are intended to be taken and the instantaneous time is taken as the trigger point for recording and replay. For example, in Table 1, the trigger point of the golf swing motion is the “point at which the ball has been hit” in the golf; the trigger point for serving the tennis ball is “the point at which the tennis ball has been hit” in the tennis; the trigger point of the baseball batter is “the point at which the baseball has been pitched” in the baseball; the trigger point of the table tennis service practice is “the point at which the table tennis ball has been hit”; the trigger point of the triple loop jump of the figure skating is “the point at which the skater glides into the jump area.” The repetition motion of the other similar spoils can also take the trigger point as the specific motion of image color differentiation.
(2) The pre-launch motion, subsequent motion and time at the trigger point: Once the trigger point has been selected, the system disclosed in the present application sets the video recording time for the pre-launch practice and the subsequent motion of the golf swing practice. For example as shown in Table 1, the pre-launch motion of the golf swing practice is the grip, address, back swinging, and down swinging (until the hitting area), which generally take 1.5 to 3 seconds overall whereas the subsequent motion is the post-hit launch, follow through, and the viewing of carry and trajectory for outdoor practice, which generally takes 1.5 to 5 seconds; the pre-launch motion of the tennis is the grip, ball throwing, and patting (until the teeing ground is reached), which generally takes 1 to 2 seconds, and the other subsequent motion is the post-hit pat, follow-through, and viewing that the ball has hit the ground, which generally takes 2 to 4 seconds; the pre-launch motion of the baseball pitching practice is the grip, ball raising, and throwing (till the ball leaves the batter's glove), which generally takes 2˜3 seconds; the post-launch motion of the baseball pitching practice is the subsequent motion after the baseball has left the glove and the viewing that the baseball has fallen into the glove of the catcher, which generally takes 2 to 3 seconds; the pre-launch motion of table tennis is the upward throwing and patting the ball (until the ball has been hit), which generally takes approximately 1˜2 seconds whereas the subsequent motion is the subsequent motion after the ball has been hit and the view of the location at which the ball has fallen and its effects, which generally takes 1 to 2 seconds; the pre-launch motion of the triple loop jump of the figure ice skating is flexing and speeding, which generally takes 0.5 to 1 second, whereas the subsequent motion is the jump, teeing to the ground, and the subsequent gliding motion, which generally takes 1 to 2 seconds. The other similar sports follow the same principle to determine the pre-launch and subsequent motion.
(3) Install one commonly visible ray camera (such as CCD or CMOS camera) near the players to catch the continuous frames at the time and motion trigger point and then periodically draw out the frames to check if a specific area (or a complete frame) is analyzed based on the color parameters (international standard colors such as RGB, HSB, and Grayscale) and then to determine whether the trigger point has already been activated.
(4) Separately install one or a plurality of visible ray cameras near the players (selectively) and the camera is used to catch the multiple-angle frames of the above-mentioned pre-launch and the subsequent motion.
(5) Store the digitalized images from different cameras into the memory and then display them on the screen; if there is a plurality of cameras, then it is possible to partition the screen into several regions to display multiple continuous frames. This function is known as “mirror mode.” If the size of the memory of the computer is not sufficient or already full, then new images can be used to replace the memory taken by the old images. In this way, one or a plurality of complete motions can be repetitively stored.
(6) When the image color analysis software checks that the motion at the trigger point has already been activated, then the computer system will retrieve the pre-launch, the trigger point, and the subsequent motion from the memory and replay them on the screen. Afterwards, the computer returns to the original mirror mode once the replay is completed. In this way, this series of motions repeats.
The system of the present invention is composed of a computer, which can be but is not limited to common desktops or portable lap computers, which consist of software and hardware, which are used to digitalize, store, analyze, and display the images transmitted from the cameras, which can be but not limited to common visible ray CCD or CMOS cameras or portable V 8 cameras, which are used to record the motions of the players and then transmit these images to the computer wherein the display can be but not be limited to common LCD, digitalized television (HDTV), and CRT (cathode ray tube), wherein the control keyboard can be but not be limited to common computer keyboard, soft press, and start/power, which is used to transmit the control signals to the computer and cameras so as to monitor the apparatus system of the present invention; the memory can be but not be limited to common RAM, compact flash, fixed hard disk, and portable hard disk.
Although the present invention has been described with a certain degree of particularity, the present disclosure has been made by way of example and changes in details of structure may be made without departing from the spirit thereof.