US 20050209066 A1
A voice-controlled martial arts exercise device is comprised of targets for the user to strike with hands, feet, elbows, or knees. A processor system is interfaced to recognize voice commands from the user and to detect when a target has been hit and also controls a pixelized visual display and audio system. These elements are used to provide an entertaining and challenging assortment of games and drills with which the user can interact by voice commands as well as by striking the targets. Additionally, motorized limbs are optionally included which can strike at the user under processor or manual control; the user must block or avoid these strikers. The method of using voice command recognition and a pixelized visual display controlled by a processor system provides unique advantages, including much more abstract and complicated interaction than is otherwise possible for a martial arts exercise system, which allows for much more entertaining and sustained use.
1. A martial arts exercise device comprising:
a target means configured to receive strikes from said user;
a target hit detector means of detecting when said target means has been struck by said user;
a visual signaling means for signaling to said user;
a voice command recognition means of recognizing voice commands from said user, and;
a control means, operatively interfaced to said target hit detector means and to said visual signaling means and to said voice command recognition means.
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20. A method of martial arts exercise comprising the steps of:
providing a target means configured to receive strikes from said user;
providing a target hit detector means of detecting when said target means has been struck by said user;
providing a visual signaling means for signaling to said user;
providing a voice command recognition means of recognizing voice commands from said user;
providing a control means, operatively interfaced to said target hit detector means and to said visual signaling means and to said voice command recognition means;
said control means controlling a game, said game being responsive to said target hit detector means, and said game being responsive to said voice command recognition means;
said control means controlling said visual signaling means in response to the programmed instructions of said game, including those instructions that are responsive to said target hit detector means and said voice command recognition means.
21. The method of
using a network operatively interfaced to said control means so that multiple users can simultaneously exercise together and compete against each other.
22. The method of
said control means controlling a game that is unrelated to the striking of said target means for the purpose of improving mental technique for physical action.
For proper health, it is necessary for a person to maintain some level of cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone, but many people today do not meet that requirement in their normal activities. In fact, obesity and its related health problems are currently a rampant problem in the USA and other countries. The need to provide effective exercise devices that encourage prolonged use to combat this problem is immense.
A wide variety of methods and devices currently exist that provide effective cardiovascular and toning exercise, including those designed for martial exercise such as boxing. However, some level of physical discomfort is necessarily required for any exercise in order to achieve the desired benefit and therefore it is very typical for equipment of this type to not be used for very long, because the user does not care to continue the physical discomfort or because the exercise becomes too boring. To attempt to address these problems, martial arts exercise devices exist that include provision for some type of interactive gaming in order to alleviate the boredom and to distract the user from the physical discomfort of the exercise. The games for prior art devices are relatively simple; for example, the device in U.S. Pat. No. 4,088,315 simply signals the sequence of targets to be struck and verifies it. The devices' of U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,401,303, 4,765,609, 5,613,925, and 5,735,775 only interactivity is to use strikers to strike at the user. The devices of U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,974,833, 6,110,079, and 6,464,622 simply signal the target to be struck and indicate the location, intensity, or speed of the corresponding strike. The devices of U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,503,606 and 5,509,875 simply vary the speed and direction of moving targets to be struck by the user.
Unfortunately, the games provided by the prior art devices and methods are too simple and repetitive to succeed in retaining the long-term interest of most prospective users. It is desirable to provide games that are more complex, providing a higher level of entertainment and abstract thought. A wide variety of interactive games such as computer or “video” games are known which provide interesting and prolonged entertainment, including those with higher levels of abstraction such as strategy games and Role Playing Games (RPG), which include the feature of engaging the user in a quest-driven storyline with other characters. Video games are very successful in distraction; in fact, these games are so engrossing that are they are known to be addictive to many people. It would be very desirable to combine a martial arts exercise device with video games in order to achieve the benefit of the greater entertainment and distraction, thereby prolonging the use of the exercise device. However, this has not been possible with prior art devices and methods because at least the hands and sometimes the feet are occupied with striking and perhaps with blocking, and are therefore generally unavailable to interact with the video game in any way other than striking the target. Most video games are not amenable to such a restriction; generally, with the increase in the game's complexity, more complex interactive control is required.
A related drawback of the prior art devices and methods is that they are generally very limited with respect to the number of unique games they are able to provide, in contrast with video games which are virtually infinite in variety, type, and kind. This limitation contributes to the tendency of most users to discontinue the use of the exercise device after becoming bored with the available games.
A closely related problem to the aforementioned issue of obesity and poor cardiovascular health is ironically related to the appeal and attraction of video games: little or no aerobic benefit is achieved when playing, and in fact, these games are a concern due to their addictive nature and because of how many people have substituted playing these games in lieu of physical activities, especially adolescents. Most recently, there has been noted an alarming rise in the trend of obesity in children, and it appears that video games are a contributing factor. Thus, there is a need to couple video games with some form of physical activity to attempt to address this problem. However, prior art martial arts exercise devices and methods have been unable to include games with enough entertainment appeal to most attract people to their use instead of video games, despite the obvious benefits of the exercise provided, and despite the favorable interest of large numbers of health-conscious individuals and parents today.
It is significant that none of the prior art martial arts exercise devices or methods can provide to most users a level of entertainment able to encourage prolonged use due to not having a control means for more complex games, nor are they able to provide enough variety of different games, nor are they able to provide a viable alternative to the attraction of contemporary and physically passive video games. It is clear that there is a continuing need for improved, effective devices and methods that overcome these disadvantages.
The solution of the present invention to the problems described previously involves the use of a set of targets, a voice recognition system, and a centrally located pixelized display device, all of which are interfaced to a computer. The computer and display device allows the playing of customized computer games suitable for some degree of martial interaction. The continuous mode voice recognition system matches voice commands to those stored in memory appropriate for the context of the game being played. In addition to the game control allowed by simply striking the targets, the voice recognition system provides practically infinite additional control capability, allowing the play of computer games of almost any complexity, which is in contrast to the prior art martial exercise devices and methods.
The visual display and computer are used to indicate which target to strike and to provide user interaction with the game based on the timing, speed, and sequence of the target strikes. The computer can also control an audio system to enhance gameplay with appropriate sound effects, speech, and music (in fact, audio cues alone can be used to indicate which target to strike). Training drills and non-game exercises can also be provided, and any of the routines (game or otherwise) can include feedback of reaction time, number of target strikes in a given time, calories burned, etc. The inclusion of the computer also facilitates connection to a network, both local and remote (internet), allowing multi-player gaming and interaction. The computer can also optionally be used to control motorized strikers, which strike at the user in accordance with game play or drill. The user would dodge or block the striker in addition to the user striking the targets and issuing voice commands. This addition can enhance the enjoyment of the exercise and allow new variation of games and drills, especially when multiple gamers are involved, such as allowing one user to remotely control the speed and timing of the other user's exercise device's strikers. Other optional computer-controlled enhancements are listed the Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments.
An important advantage of this invention is how the striking of the targets and the issuing of voice commands are used in cooperation to more completely engross the user. For instance, if the game being played represents the target as a “monster” to be killed, the user would physically strike it and also be able to give voice commands to virtual game character allies that could also attack the monster. The synergism of these elements of the invention causes the user to be engaged in both the immediate physical level and a more abstract mental level, which allows a much greater enjoyment and distraction from the physical discomfort of the exercise required to play the game. This type of control can more readily capture the imagination and excitement of the user, thus greatly prolonging the length and number of exercise sessions spent with the device.
Another important advantage is how the new control capability allows an infinite number of new and distinct games to be played, instead of being limited to that subset of games that can be controlled by merely striking the targets. Typical control requirement of game characters such as moving, attacking, using magic, etc. can be simply verbalized and therefore executed without the use of hands.
Yet another important advantage is how the present invention allows the addition of martial arts exercise to contemporary video games, which can help address the problem of physical inactivity suffered during the playing of these games, especially by adolescents. Striking devices are very appealing to adolescents especially and martial arts exercise is ideal in many ways, developing aerobic conditioning, strength, coordination, and reflexes. Until the present invention, there has not been an effective way to mate video games with martial arts exercise and the commercial availability of this device should be of great interest to the many parents concerned about their children's passive game playing.
Another advantage of the present invention is that it allows the ability to simultaneously engage in abstract game playing which can be unrelated to the martial arts exercise, such as a chess game or puzzle solving. This method is useful for allowing the subconscious to direct physical movement while allowing the conscious mind to relax and focus on the strategic thinking required by the game. This technique has been found to be useful to develop a performance-enhancing state of mind for various athletics, such as golf, and may be developed through practice and training with the present invention.
Additional objects, advantages, and features of the invention may become apparent to the reader from the detailed description of the preferred embodiments which follows, or from the appended claims and accompanying drawings, or may be learned by practice of the invention.
Also depicted in
Ports available from the audio subsystem inside computer 30 are also electrically interfaced to wireless base receiver/transmitter 32. Wireless base receiver/transmitter 32 is configured to receive and send wireless transmissions from and to wireless remote receiver/transmitter 34. Wireless remote receiver/transmitter 34 is arranged to be worn on an article of the users clothing and is electrically wired to headphone speaker 36 and microphone 38. The headphone speaker 36 and microphone 38 are arranged to be worn on the user's head such that microphone 38 placed close the to the user's mouth and headphone speaker 36 is placed close to the user's ear, and are used to allow voice commands to be received by computer 30 and for computer 30 to send audible signals to the user. Voice commands received by the computer can then be subjected to analysis in real time, so that these elements together comprise a voice command recognition means, and are operatively interfaced to the control means comprised of computer 30. The audio subsystem inside computer 30 wirelessly interfaced to headphone speaker 36 comprises an audio signaling means and can be used to provide game sound effects, music, speech effects, etc. to the user.
The target mount plates 52 and 44 each also include a target hit detector means comprised of an attached accelerometer integrated circuit 66. Each accelerometer integrated circuit 66 is capable of measuring acceleration in both the vertical and lateral directions and is operatively interfaced to control unit 28 by electrical wiring. In addition to providing indication of when a specific target has been hit, each accelerometer integrated circuit 66 also comprises hit strength sensing means that can discriminate the strength of the strike on the target by indicating the amount of acceleration.
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Processor 108 is also connected to a Universal Serial Bus (USB) port 119 to receive and send data to control unit 28. Control unit 28 also contains a USB port 120 and a processor 122. The processor 122 of control unit 28 is operatively interfaced to the various portions of the martial arts exercise device such as the accelerometer integrated circuits 66 and the striker micro controllers 72 and the electronic tilt switch 106. By this arrangement, the detection of hits on the target means, the speed and timing and direction of the strikers 20, and any occurrence of tilt are incorporated into computer 30 software programming, such as a video game program.
An infinite variety of other games and drills can be made available with the present invention, including Role Playing Games (RPG), as well as simple drills for speed and timing, workout videos featuring an instructor to be mimicked, and so on. Sample RPG themes might be as martial artist character or as a professional boxer. An example of a simple game is Simon Says, where a combination of several strike cues is displayed and then the user must perform the strikes in correct sequence from memory. Such a game could give progressively longer sequences to remember and also become progressively faster. Other interesting games could use audio strikes cues instead of visual strike cues. For these, the computer might use audible phrases such as “BOTTOM CENTER!” or “TOP RIGHT!” to indicate which target to strike (this technique is preferably employed with multiple target sets as described in
Additional user voice commands might include “PAUSE,” to pause the game; “RESUME,” to continue after a PAUSE; “SET DIFFICULTY,” to set the difficulty level. Difficulty levels can be related to both the Artificial Intelligence (AI) level of the computer opponent in strategy games, but also the duration, pace, and type of the strike cues. Voice commands can also be used to change the background music or to select a game from a menu or to instruct the computer to perform any other task that can otherwise be accomplished with use of a keyboard or mouse.
Similarly the upper targets 12 and lower targets 10 will prompt the user to turn to the left and right to strike the appropriate targets. These enhanced requirements make for an even greater aerobic benefit in using the present invention, as well increasing the difficulty and the entertainment properties. The plurality of the configurable pixelized displays comprised of the additional monitors 40 to the left and the right can help increase the immersion of the user into the game or drill by showing corresponding left and right views of the game scenes in a “panoramic” type of display.
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From the foregoing description, the reader will see that the martial arts exercise device of the present invention provides unique advantages, including much more abstract and complicated interaction than is otherwise possible for a martial arts exercise system, allowing an infinite variety of different games, providing a viable alternative to contemporary and physically passive video games, and providing much more entertaining and sustained use.
While the invention has been described with respect to preferred embodiments, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made without departing from the scope of the invention herein described. For example, the targets can be motorized to provide moving targets or the strikers could be modified to provide different angles of attack such as an overhead circular swing downward or lateral straight jabs. Accordingly, the description and illustration of the invention is by way of example, and the scope of the invention is not limited to the exact details shown or described.