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Publication numberUS20070059675 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/460,573
Publication dateMar 15, 2007
Filing dateJul 27, 2006
Priority dateJul 29, 2005
Also published asCN101198382A, CN101198382B, CN101232923A, CN101232923B, DE102005036355A1, DE502006002656D1, DE502006002898D1, EP1866039A1, EP1866039B1, EP1909925A1, EP1909925B1, US7891666, US20070060425, US20070191083, US20110119022, WO2007014700A1, WO2007014701A1, WO2007014702A1
Publication number11460573, 460573, US 2007/0059675 A1, US 2007/059675 A1, US 20070059675 A1, US 20070059675A1, US 2007059675 A1, US 2007059675A1, US-A1-20070059675, US-A1-2007059675, US2007/0059675A1, US2007/059675A1, US20070059675 A1, US20070059675A1, US2007059675 A1, US2007059675A1
InventorsUdo Kuenzler, Walter Englert
Original AssigneeUdo Kuenzler, Walter Englert
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Device and method for measuring a rotational frequency of a movable game device
US 20070059675 A1
Abstract
For measuring the rotational frequency of a movable game device, one resorts to an existing radio signal in the form of a broadcast signal or mobile communication signal within the framework of an open system, or to a radio signal of an evaluation unit within the framework of a closed system, so as to obtain, by means of an antenna having a directivity characteristic, a time-varying radio antenna receive signal which has a low-frequency modulation portion, the frequency of which corresponding to the rotational frequency of the movable game device.
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Claims(25)
1. A device for measuring a rotational frequency of a movable game device using a high-frequency radio signal, the device comprising:
a provider for providing a time-varying radio antenna receive signal; and
a detector for detecting a low-frequency frequency, which has been modulated onto the high-frequency radio signal, using the time-varying radio antenna receive signal,
the low-frequency frequency of the time-varying radio antenna receive signal representing the rotational frequency of the movable game device.
2. The device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the provider comprises a radio antenna designed for a frequency band used by a broadcasting signal or television signal or mobile communication signal, and which has a radiation characteristic which deviates from an ideal isotropic radiator, so that a rotation of the radio antenna provides a high-frequency carrier signal having a low-frequency modulation portion.
3. The device as claimed in claim 1, wherein the provider comprises a selector for selecting a low-frequency modulation portion.
4. The device as claimed in claim 3, wherein the detector is configured to determine a frequency of the low-frequency modulation signal as the rotational frequency.
5. The device as claimed in claim 1,
wherein the detector comprises an extreme-value detector or zero-crossing detector and a chronometer to determine a time duration between two extreme values or between an extreme value and a zero crossing, and to determine the rotational frequency from the time duration.
6. The device as claimed in claim 1,
wherein the detector is configured to suppress a carrier frequency of a high-frequency electromagnetic field to extract a low-frequency modulation portion.
7. The device as claimed in claim 1,
wherein the detector is configured to detect a low-frequency envelope of the radio antenna receive signal.
8. The device as claimed in claim 1,
wherein the provider is configured to provide a radio antenna receive signal having two channels,
a first channel representing a radio signal of a first receive antenna, and
a second channel representing a receive signal of a second receive antenna having an antenna characteristic which differs from an antenna characteristic of the first antenna.
9. The device as claimed in claim 8,
wherein the first radio antenna comprises a first antenna characteristic having a first direction of the highest sensitivity, and wherein the second radio
antenna comprises a second antenna characteristic having a second direction of the highest sensitivity,
wherein the first and second directions differ from each other.
10. The device as claimed in claim 9, wherein a difference in the directions of the highest sensitivities is present which lies within a range of angles between 70° and 110°.
11. The device as claimed in claim 1,
wherein the provider comprises a dipole antenna or a ferrite antenna or a mobile communication antenna.
12. The device as claimed in claim 1,
wherein the provider is designed for a long-wave band, a medium-wave band or a short-wave band.
13. The device as claimed in claim 1, which is mechanically connected to the movable game device and further comprises an output interface for transferring a piece of information indicating the rotational frequency to a receiver.
14. The device as claimed in claim 1,
the provider being mechanically connected to the movable game device, and the detector being located at a distance from the movable game device,
the movable game device comprising an output interface for transferring the time-varying radio antenna receive signal to the detector, and
the detector which is located at a distance comprising a receive interface to receive a signal stemming from the output interface of the movable game device.
15. The device as claimed in claim 1, which is configured at a distance from the movable game device,
the provider being an input interface to receive a signal which stems from the movable game device and which comprises information about the time-varying radio antenna receive signal.
16. The device as claimed in claim 1, further comprising:
a transmitter for transmitting information to an external transmitter, the information causing the external transmitter to radiate a radio transmit signal,
the provider comprising a receive antenna, and
the transmitter being configured to use the receive antenna when transmitting the information.
17. The device as claimed in claim 8,
the detector being configured to receive the first and second channels and to select the channel having a higher LF amplitude within a range smaller than 150 Hz.
18. The device as claimed in claim 1,
wherein the provider is configured to provide a broad-band radio antenna receive signal comprising several high-frequency carriers modulated using low frequencies,
wherein the provider is configured to select an LF component which occurs in several modulated high-frequency carriers.
19. The device as claimed in claim 1,
wherein the provider is configured to provide a high-frequency radio antenna receive signal or a low-frequency radio antenna receive signal.
20. The device as claimed in claim 1,
wherein the provider or the extractor is configured to extract a low-frequency portion having a frequency of less than 100 Hz.
21. A method of measuring a rotational frequency of a movable game device using a high-frequency radio signal, the method comprising:
providing a time-varying radio antenna receive signal; and
detecting a low-frequency frequency, which has been modulated onto the high-frequency radio signal, using the time-varying radio antenna receive signal,
the low-frequency frequency of the time-varying radio antenna receive signal representing the rotational frequency of the movable game device.
22. A movable game device comprising:
a radio antenna for providing a time-varying radio antenna receive signal having a high-frequency carrier portion and a low-frequency modulation portion;
a selector for extracting the low-frequency modulation portion; and
an interface for outputting the selected low-frequency modulation portion.
23. The movable game device as claimed in claim 22, further comprising:
a detector for detecting a low-frequency frequency, which has been modulated onto the high-frequency radio signal, using the time-varying radio antenna receive signal,
wherein the interface is configured to transfer information about a frequency underlying the low-frequency modulation portion instead of a time curve of the selected low-frequency modulation portion.
24. The movable game device as claimed in claim 22, further comprising:
a transmitter for transmitting information to an external transmitter, the information causing the external transmitter to radiate a radio transmit signal,
the provider comprising a receive antenna, and
the transmitter being configured to use the receive antenna when transmitting the information.
25. A computer program having a program code for performing the method of measuring a rotational frequency of a movable game device using a high-frequency radio signal, the method comprising:
providing a time-varying radio antenna receive signal; and
detecting a low-frequency frequency, which has been modulated onto the high-frequency radio signal, using the time-varying radio antenna receive signal,
the low-frequency frequency of the time-varying radio antenna receive signal representing the rotational frequency of the movable game device,
when the program runs on a computer.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority from German Patent Application No. 102005036355.5, which was filed on Jul. 29, 2005, and is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to movable devices and in particular to game devices such as balls, and to concepts for measuring a rotational frequency of a movable game device.

2. Description of Prior Art

For quite some time, various interest groups have wished to study and understand the sequence of movements of moving objects and/or persons, which requires an exact indication of the object's position in space and time. What is of particular interest here are, among other things, game balls, in particular in commercialized types of sport, such as footballs, or soccer balls, which are highly accelerated in three-dimensional space, as well as tennis or golf balls. The question of who was the last to touch the object of the game, how it was hit and in which direction it was accelerated further may be decisive for the outcome of the game, depending on the type of game.

Game devices that are used in high-performance sports, such as tennis balls, golf balls, footballs and the like, nowadays can be accelerated to extremely high speeds, so that the detection of the object during the movement requires highly sophisticated technology. The technical means employed so far—mainly cameras—either completely fail to meet the requirements set forth above, or meet them only to an insufficient degree; also the methods, hitherto known, for position finding by means of various transmitter and receiver combinations still leave a large error margin with regard to the spatial resolution of the position indication, with regard to the ease of use of the transmitter/receiver components required, and above all with regard to evaluating the data obtained by means of the transmitter/receiver system, so that it is not yet possible, or at least requires a large amount of effort, to evaluate the results obtained from this data as fast as possible.

It is not only in the field of commercial sports, where movable game devices may be employed, but it is also in the personal field that users have become more and more used to electronic devices indicating various pieces of information to give a user feedback as to how he/she has affected an object, or to provide him/her with information about how a player has affected a gaming device.

Current statistics methods in commercial applications, such as of the German first football division (Bundesliga), work with recording relatively simple statistics, such as the percentage of ball contacts of a team or the number of corners, free kicks or fouls.

On the other hand, there have been means, for example in tennis, where there is a very plannable, clearly arranged environment with only two players, which measure, for example, the speed of the tennis ball at the serve, such that a viewer is in a position to assess whether a serve was “hard” or “soft”.

What is problematic about such speed measurements which may occur by optical methods is the fact that they do not function within an environment where there is a muddle of players, such as on a football pitch where there are not only two persons being active, but 22 persons, who, in addition—unlike in tennis for a serve—are not positioned in more or less the same place but may form any constellation on the pitch. On the other hand, particularly in football, it is interesting, both for the feedback of the players in training and for the viewers to know, for example, how a shot actually came about and/or how large the force of the shot was.

Thus, kicking a ball in football or soccer or hitting a ball in tennis represents the actual “base” impact, as it were, on the game device which is always decisive of how the game continues, since ultimately everything is about doing something with the movable game device, such as playing it into an opponent's field (as in tennis) or moving it into a goal (as in football, or soccer) or into a basket (as in basketball) or to cause it to contact the floor of the opponent's pitch (as in volleyball). Due to the difficulty of the continuously changing constellations in dynamic games, in particular team games, however also in tennis when no serve is currently played, but the ball is played in one move, external speed measurements will fail, which has lead to the fact that there are currently no shot force detection systems that could be employed in a flexible manner.

On the other hand, for the field of sports, but also for the field of leisure, there is a further limitation resulting from the fact that these fields are highly commercialized. All systems providing additional information, in particular when they are intended for leisure of for leisure sports, must enable to be offered at a low price since they are objects which a user never “absolutely needs” but might like to have anyway. Particularly in such a market, it is decisive to be able to offer a robust system at low price. For example, a system must not require a high level of maintenance or of equipment such as, for example, a speed measurement system for measuring the serve of a tennis player. Due to the relatively high cost associated, a small tennis club would never acquire such a system for training purposes, which applies even more to a private person who wishes to play tennis in a slightly more ambitioned manner in his/her leisure time.

When considering the impact experienced by a game device, such as when it is shot by a racket or a leg or an arm or a hand of a player, one will find that most of the time, the movable game device will be made to rotate. Part of the energy transmitted to the device is thus converted into rotational energy rather than into, e.g., kinetic or potential energy. This rotation of the movable game device has a considerable effect with regard to a trajectory of the movable game device, since a trajectory thereby may be influenced in that the trajectory will deviate from a normal trajectory which would be followed, e.g., by a non-rotating object in the air. In football, one knows of so-called “curling crosses” which occur due to the fact that a ball rotates in the air and its trajectory is influenced by the rotation. One also knows of free kicks which are lowered down into the goal after they have passed the wall and represent a challenge for each goal keeper. Here, too, the rotation of the game device plays an important part.

A further decisive part is played by a rotation when the rotating object hits the ground. Everybody knows this phenomenon for example in table tennis, tennis or even football. The ball will jump off differently when it is rotating than when it is not rotating. Thus, a so-called “stopped” ball in tennis will hardly continue its direction of flight once it bounces on the ground, but will be highly decelerated and then tend to jump off high and thus contribute to the opponent's confusion. On the other hand, an accelerated ball will, when it hits the ground, jump off at a very much smaller angle with the floor and in a highly accelerated manner, which results solely from the rotation of the ball.

Measuring a rotation of a movable game device is thus a good measure of being able to predict the behavior of a movable game device or to receive feedback or to accumulate further statistical data with regard to, e.g., a football match in terms of which player not only has the hardest shot but may also give a ball the highest level of rotation when he/she shoots.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,151,563 discloses a device for measuring a movable object such as a baseball, football, hockey puck, football, tennis ball, bowling ball or golf ball. A detection unit mounted to the ball includes a spin detection circuit, an electronic processor circuit, a magnetic field sensor and a radio transmitter. A monitoring unit is worn, or carried, by a user and serves as a user interface for the detection device. The monitoring unit has a radio receiver, a processor, a keyboard and an output display displaying various movement characteristics measured of the movable object, such as flying time, speed, height of trajectory, spin rate or curve of the movable object. Particularly, a spin detection is performed in that a measurement of the earth's magnetic field is performed using a magneto-inductive sensor, which is an inductive element within an oscillator. If the sensor rotates by 1800 relative to the earth's magnetic field, a frequency shift of the oscillator of up to 100% may be achieved. Thus, the frequency of the oscillator tuned by the variable inductance is varied between a maximum and a minimum value, an interval being measured between frequency peaks to determine the spin rate of the object.

What is disadvantageous about this concept is the fact that the entire detection is based on the earth's magnetic field which may vary considerably from area to area and thus will lead to a pronounced or weak frequency variation, depending on the intensity of the earth's magnetic field.

In addition, measuring the earth's magnetic field requires a lot of effort, particularly as an oscillator must be provided which additionally must be energized. This problem is a large one, particularly since this oscillator would have to be arranged within the ball, but replacing batteries within the ball or recharging the ball is problematic, if not impossible. In addition, this concept of the tuned oscillator is also problematic, with regard to the energy consumption, in that the oscillator must be kept switched on irrespective of whether a rotation is detected, and will thus consume as much valuable battery energy of the ball as in those cases when no rotation is measured.

In addition, provision of an oscillator with a wide tuning range is expensive and problematic particularly for low frequencies, unless one resorts to digital circuits which, however, require a lot more energy than analog circuits while being more prone to defects. On the other hand, to build analog circuits with oscillation characteristics at low frequencies, these circuits would have to have either high capacitances or high inductances, which in turn contributes to the sensor being expensive, to a large volume required and, possibly, even to a heavy weight of the sensor. In particular, however, volume, energy consumption and especially also the weight of the sensor are measures which should be kept as small as possible, since a ball without a sensor actually must not differ, with regard to its properties for the player, from a ball having a sensor.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is the object of the present invention to provide an efficient, low-cost but nevertheless flexible concept for measuring a rotational frequency of a movable game device.

In accordance with a first aspect, the invention provides a device for measuring a rotational frequency of a movable game device using a high-frequency radio signal, the device including:

  • a provider for providing a time-varying radio antenna receive signal; and
  • a detector for detecting a low-frequency frequency, which has been modulated onto the high-frequency radio signal, using the time-varying radio antenna receive signal,
  • the low-frequency frequency of the time-varying radio antenna receive signal representing the rotational frequency of the movable game device.

In accordance with a second aspect, the invention provides a method of measuring a rotational frequency of a movable game device using a high-frequency radio signal, the method including the steps of:

  • providing a time-varying radio antenna receive signal; and
  • detecting a low-frequency frequency, which has been modulated onto the high-frequency radio signal, using the time-varying radio antenna receive signal,
  • the low-frequency frequency of the time-varying radio antenna receive signal representing the rotational frequency of the movable game device.

In accordance with a third aspect, the invention provides a movable game device including:

  • a radio antenna for providing a time-varying radio antenna receive signal having a high-frequency carrier portion and a low-frequency modulation portion;
  • a selector for extracting the low-frequency modulation portion; and
  • an interface for outputting the selected low-frequency modulation portion.

In accordance with a fourth aspect, the invention provides a computer program having a program code for performing the method of measuring a rotational frequency of a movable game device using a high-frequency radio signal, the method including the steps of:

    • providing a time-varying radio antenna receive signal; and
    • detecting a low-frequency frequency, which has been modulated onto the high-frequency radio signal, using the time-varying radio antenna receive signal,
    • the low-frequency frequency of the time-varying radio antenna receive signal representing the rotational frequency of the movable game device,
      when the program runs on a computer.

The present invention is based on the findings that one does not resort to the natural magnetic field, which for various locations on the earth deviates considerably and thus may cause the sensitivity problems, but that one will resort to a radio hop, or radio field, which does not naturally exist but is created by man and exists, in sufficient intensity, wherever there is a need to employ movable game devices. Radio fields which exist almost everywhere are long-wave fields, medium-wave fields, short-wave fields or ultrashort-wave fields. In every more or less developed area, however, there are not only such broadcast fields, but also higher-frequency fields which are even higher in energy, for example mobile communication fields. High-frequency mobile communication fields, just like broadcast and television fields, have the property that they are radiated almost with circular radiation characteristic and thus are available wherever the rotation of movable game devices is to be measured. Depending on the “carrier” field intended, different receive antennas may be installed within the movable game device, all of which, however, have the property that they have hardly any weight, are easy to implement and are cheap, particularly due to the high level of research/knowledge regarding radio antennas, and are even available on the market in one-chip solutions together with a corresponding front-end RF circuit. For lower frequencies, ferrite antennas may be employed. For higher frequencies, dipole antennas may be employed which are mounted, e.g., within the ball, e.g. on the inside of the outer shell, or which are mounted within the ball itself.

In accordance with the invention, one must simply evaluate the field-strength variation of such an antenna in order to detect the rotational frequency, since almost every antenna—whether one likes it or not—has a directivity characteristic and will emit, when it is rotated in an existing electromagnetic radio field, a higher or lower field strength depending on the orientation of the directivity characteristic of the antenna with the electromagnetic field.

This field strength represents a variable which is easy to measure and to process further, such as voltage or current at the output of the antenna, whose envelope is to be detected in order to obtain the frequency of the envelope, which is the same as the rotational frequency of the game device. By resorting, in accordance with the invention, to the radio field which exists wherever movable game devices are to be measured with regard to the rotational frequency, all problems associated with the magnetic field in terms of volume, weight, sensitivity variations, etc., are solved.

Antennas for detecting any wavelength ranges desired for radio antennas exist in any sizes and may thus be adapted to the size of the movable game device in any manner desired, since in each wavelength range and, in particular, also in the high-frequency wave range, at or above one GHz, there is typically sufficient radio energy present on the basis of which the rotation may be measured.

Even if no ambient field is present, the inventive detection device may nevertheless operate in a reliable manner when, using the game device which is typically always communicated with an external transmitter via a radio interface, the external transmitter is given the instruction to generate a radio field whose modulation will then simply be measured by the very same antenna of the movable game device with which the movable game device communicates with the external device anyway. Thus, a self-contained system may readily be implemented as an alternative to the open radio system, while no high-energy steps are required within the movable game device. Within a closed system, it is only the external communication device that must transmit energy. When this is done by a clock, or watch, or something similar, then the battery in this clock will need replacing more often. Alternatively, however, one may also take an energy supply line fixedly installed, e.g., at a sports field, so that no battery operation whatsoever will be required. Even if battery operation is still necessary, a battery replacement and, in particular, utilization of accumulators is considerably easier and less costly than if a battery replacement within the ball would become necessary, which is either not possible or may only be accomplished at high expense and at the price of a downtime of the game device if the characteristics of the game device are not to be greatly influenced.

Preferably, the mobile game device further comprises a shot-force measuring means based on the fact that a shot-force measurement which is accurate, low in maintenance and, at the same time, may be used in a flexible manner may be achieved in that a time curve of an acceleration or a time curve of an internal pressure of a movable game device is provided so as then to process this time curve, specifically with the aim of obtaining a measure of energy which depends on the energy transmitted to the object by the shot. In addition, a means for providing information about the force of the shot is provided which uses the synergy measure for determining the force of the shot. Thus, what is performed is not direct speed measurement but, in preferred embodiments, at the most an indirect speed measurement, to the effect that a temporal acceleration curve and a temporal pressure curve are detected, and that is these time curves, or temporal curves, are processed to obtain a measure of energy, that is some quantity which is somehow connected to the energy in a linear or non-linear or in some other manner. This measure is then used to provide force-of-shot information. This force-of-shot information may be a quantitative value which is, however, free from units, e.g. on a scale between 1 and 10, or it may be a value on an open-ended scale, or it may be a value representing a force exerted on the movable game device at the time of the shot, or it may be an energy value, i.e. a value of the energy imparted on the movable game device at the shot.

Alternatively, the shot force may also be an indication of length providing a measure of how far the ball would have flown, for example, if the ball had been shot at an optimum angle and without any rotation. Such a shot-force result is interesting, in particular, for ball sports such as soccer or American football, since to the players there, a measure of length, for example how far a pass or kickout will have gone, means more than quantitative values or physical force or energy units. However, for a comparison with other players, the non-unit quantitative scale is highly interesting, whether it is finite or open-ended.

In preferred embodiments, ball contacts are also detected. Here, various components may be employed for both tasks. To this end, the use of two signals having different signal speeds is ideal to achieve a robust but nevertheless efficient and accurate detection of a contact with a movable device. Thus, a detector within the movable device, e.g. in a football, detects whether an object, such as a player's leg, is located in the vicinity of the football. This is effected, for example, by pressure, acceleration or vibration measurement or by non-contact measurement.

Once a detection has been made to the effect that the object is located in the vicinity of the movable device, the transmitter module is controlled to transmit two signals having different signal speeds. A receiver device connected to the object will detect the first signal and then wait for a certain time period for reception of the second signal having a lower signal speed. If the signal having the lower signal speed is detected within the predetermined time period which starts upon reception of the first, fast signal, it shall be assumed that the object which has received both the first and, within the predetermined time period, also the second signal, was in contact with the movable device. This is reflected in that a detector which has detected reception of the second signal within the predetermined time period provides a detector output signal, a memory subsequently storing the fact that there has been a detector output signal, i.e. that it is very likely for a ball contact to have occurred. Alternatively or in addition, an absolute moment in time at which the detector signal has occurred may be stored in the memory, so that when one thinks of a football match, a sequence of moments result which may then, e.g. after a match or during a match, be read out to ascertain, as a function thereof, how many ball contacts a player had, or generally speaking; how many contacts an object had with the movable device.

If one assumes that, e.g., several football players are near a ball, the fast signal will be detected by several receiver devices. However, if the predetermined time duration is selected such that it is very likely that really only that receiver device which is located closest to the movable device can receive the second signal within the predetermined time period, while receiver devices which are more remote will also receive the second signal, but only after the predetermined time duration has expired, no ball contact will be registered for those players.

By setting the predetermined time duration in the receiver devices worn, or carried, by the player, it is thus possible to set the accuracy and/or the range to be detected. For this purpose, no access to the ball itself is required.

In addition, the use of two signals of different speeds allows to dispense with any complicated and, thus, failure-prone electronics in the ball itself. One only needs to make sure that the ball has a proximity detector which operates in a contact-controlled or non-contact manner and which will then control the transmission of the two signals of different delay times. Thus, no complicated electronics are required within the ball itself, which is a considerable advantage in particular since the forces and accelerations acting on the ball may be huge, so that there is a very rough environment for there to be an electronic system within the ball.

On the receiver side, no personal identification or the like is required, which is of considerable advantage—particularly if one considers that what is dealt with here is a mass product, i.e. that may players are to be provided with receiver devices—since thus, all receiver devices may operate in an identical manner and do not require any specific identification, which also renders the receiver devices simple and low in or even completely free from maintenance. In addition, a simple and robust structure also ensures safety from tampering.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other objects and features of the present invention will become clear from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic sketch of a pitch including a movable device and several objects provided with receivers;

FIG. 2 depicts a player with a football as an example of a movable device;

FIG. 3 is a schematic system sketch;

FIG. 4 a is a more detailed view of the functional groups within the movable device;

FIG. 4 b is a more detailed representation of the transmitter module of FIG. 4 a;

FIG. 5 a is a block diagram representation of the receiver device; and

FIG. 5 b is a more detailed representation of the receiver device of FIG. 5 a;

FIG. 6 a depicts a qualitative schematic curve of the acceleration over time during a shot;

FIG. 6 b depicts a qualitative curve of the speed over time during a shot;

FIG. 6 c shows a qualitative curve of the force exerted on the movable game device during a shot,

FIG. 6 d shows a qualitative curve of the force as a function of the distance covered, the force being exerted on a movable game device during a shot;

FIG. 6 e shows a preferred allocation table between the energy measure and the force of the shot;

FIG. 7 shows a qualitative curve of the internal pressure of a movable game device;

FIG. 8 shows a group of straight lines for determining the shot force using the idle-state internal pressure as the parameter;

FIG. 9 shows a schematic block diagram of the device for measuring a force of shot exerted on a movable game device;

FIG. 10 shows a flow diagram for a preferred force-of-shot measurement by means of a temporal pressure curve;

FIG. 11 shows a schematic block diagram of the inventive concept for measuring a rotational frequency of a movable game device;

FIG. 12 a shows a spectrum of a radio-antenna receive signal prior to selection;

FIG. 12 b shows a spectrum of the radio-antenna receive signal after the selection;

FIG. 13 is a schematic representation of the orientation of two receive antennas with directivity characteristics which have different directions of maximum sensitivity;

FIG. 14 depicts a scenario on a football pitch comprising various transmitters, such as broadcast transmitters, mobile telephones or other radio transmitters;

FIG. 15 is a flowchart of the communication within a self-contained system; and

FIG. 16 is a block diagram of a preferred implementation of the assembly within the mobile game device.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

To improve one's skills in a ball game or to be able to compare oneself to other players, objective data must be obtained in a simple manner. This data must be visualized such that a training feedback or a comparison to other players is possible. To this end, respective components are provided within the game device, and, if need be, a data detection device including a display unit is provided.

In a low-cost system, recognition of a person cannot be effected via delay times of the radio signals. To this end, the incoming radio signals would have to be compared to a highly accurate time reference. Also, a network would have to be built within which all times measured are compared to determine that player who is closest to the ball. Therefore, one concludes, from the transmission of a radio signal and an acoustic signal, as to who had the last ball contact.

By measuring the forces acting on the game device, one may also infer the shot force or the rotational speed of the game device. If this entails an energy observation, the individual player can learn to control his/her influence on the game device.

Further advantages result from the further claims and subclaims and from the following description.

Before the invention will be described in detail, it shall be pointed out that it is not limited to the particular components of the device or to the procedure discussed, since these components and methods may vary. The expressions used here are merely intended to describe particular embodiments, and are not used by way of limitation. If the singular form or indefinite articles are used in the description and in the claims, they also relate to the plural form of these elements, unless the overall context clearly indicates otherwise. The same applies in the opposite direction.

FIG. 3 shows a schematic system sketch. In particular, it shows a device for detecting the force and/or motion ratios on a game device 7, such as a ball, an assembly 15 being provided in the ball which is populated with several electronic components. Instead of the assembly, the electronic components may also be disposed on the ball's jacket, for example on the inside, or be suspended within the center of the ball.

At least one of the following electronic components is provided within the game device:

  • a transmitter 4 for acoustic or ultrasonic waves for transmitting an acoustic signal,
  • a pressure sensor 10,
  • an acceleration sensor,
  • at least one Hall sensor 16,
  • at least two magnetoresistive sensors,
  • at least two coils.

The electronic components are in connection with a receiver 2 via transmitter 4 for the acoustic or ultrasonic waves, or at least via a radio transmitter 3, for example via radio 1, for example to transfer the data detected by the electronic components. In addition, a microcontroller 11 is provided for processing the data. This data can then be transferred to a data detection device 12. An evaluation unit 13 is provided for evaluating the data detected which is presented, if need be, on a display unit 14. Data detection device 12 preferably is associated with at least one player 6, preferably however with all players of a game to thereby perform a localization, for example, of the nearest player, as will be explained later on.

For some games, such as in a football match, it is often interesting to know who had the most ball contacts. To determine this, one must ascertain, during the ball contact, who has touched the ball.

In a low-cost system, recognition of the person cannot be performed via delay times of the radio signals. To this end, the arriving radio signals would have to be compared with a highly accurate time reference, and a network would have to be built wherein all measured times are compared in order to determine that player who is located closest to the ball. Alternatively, the field strength of the transmitter at the ball could be used to estimate a distance. However, this is imprecise.

To keep cost low, the delay time of sound. is measured within the device. To this end, game device 7 emits, when recognizing a force being exerted upon it, an acoustic signal as a sound or ultrasound by a transmitter 4. At the same time, a radio transmitter 3 transmits a radio signal. The receiver 2 of a data detection device associated with player 6 registers the acoustic signal and also the radio signal. The time difference yields the distance from the ball. As soon as the radio signal is recognized, the acoustic signal is awaited to arrive for 5 ms. If an acoustic impulse is recognized within this time period, one may assume that receiver 2 of the data detection device 12 associated with player 6 is spaced away from the ball by 1.5 meters at a maximum. It is then very likely that this player has touched the ball. Preferably, each player 6 carries, or wears, such a receiver. The number of acoustic impulses recognized is counted and displayed. Using this information and the hour of the event, one may then determine, in a subsequent interplay of all data of all data detection units 12, how many ball contacts a player 6 had. It is even possible to make statistic statements about how successful passes were, since the target of a pass may be determined by a time comparison. This may be used to detect the following, for example:

  • Who lost the ball how many times to the opponent?
  • Were the ball contacts constant over the playing time and was there a drop in performance?
  • Who played how many passes to whom?
  • How often did a move pass several players of the same team?

The evaluation unit 13 thus has a means for evaluating whether an acoustic signal of transmitter 4 for the ball or ultrasonic waves arrives within a predetermined time period after the arrival of the radio signal.

A device for measuring a shot force exerted on a movable game device is depicted in FIG. 9. The device includes a means 90 for providing a time curve of an acceleration or an (internal) pressure of a movable game device, the time curve occurring when there is an impact on the game device caused by a shot.

Depending on the type of sport, the object acting upon the movable game device is a tennis racket, a leg of a football player, a hand of a handball player, a table tennis paddle, etc., if the movable game device is a ball. Because of the fact that an object acts upon the movable game device within the framework of a shot, an acceleration is exerted upon the movable game device which—it being assumed that the movable object was at rest before—was zero, and which, at a time t0 at which the object hits the game device, will suddenly increase and will decrease, as is shown in FIG. 6 a, until a time t1 at which the movable game device leaves the object that has impacted the movable game device.

This drop at time t1 may be more or less abrupt, or the case may occur where the acceleration curve a(t) relatively “softly” approximates the value of zero, at which a constant speed is achieved which will become negative at some point in time due to the deceleration caused by air friction. The deceleration of the movable game device due to friction or catching objects is initially irrelevant to the force-of-shot measurement, or is to be taken into account in dependence on the definition of the force of the shot. The latter case will occur when, for example, a distance over which a football would fly is indicated in meters as the force of the shot. Then, the deceleration of the game device by air friction would have to be taken into account, specifically it would have to be taken into account on the basis of the energy measure when calculating the information about the force of the shot.

Specifically, the device depicted in FIG. 9 includes a means 92 for processing the time curve of the acceleration or the time curve of the internal pressure to obtain an energy measure which depends on an energy imparted onto the object by the shot. This energy measure may be, e.g., the speed at time t1 exerted upon the movable game device by the shot. Such a situation is shown in FIG. 6 b. If it shall be assumed, again, that the object was at rest at time t0, its speed will increase due to the acceleration exerted at time t0, and will rise up until time t1. At time t1, for example, the football leaves the football player's leg, and a maximum speed vmax is reached which will then decrease again due to air friction. The instantaneous velocity at time t between t0 and t1 may readily be currently calculated by the equation shown on the right-hand side of FIG. 6 b.

However, a preferred energy measure is the maximum speed at time t1, since this energy—apart from a potential energy which will typically be negligible—is the energy transferred by the player onto the game device. If the player has transferred a lot of energy, his/her force of shot is high. If, on the other hand, the player has transferred little energy, his/her force of shot was low, provided that for both cases other circumstances of the game device, for example the internal pressure, are comparable, as will be explained in detail later on with reference to FIG. 8.

Thus, means 92 may calculate, for example, the maximum speed as an energy measure, or may even calculate, using the ball mass, the energy associated with the maximum speed and referred to as Emax.

The device depicted in FIG. 9 further comprises a means 94 for providing information about the shot force on the basis of the energy measure. The functionality of means 94 will be explained with reference to FIG. 6 e and may in this case be simply an allocation table which maps the energy measure calculated to a scale between, e.g., 1 and 10, as in the case of FIG. 6 e, or to an open-ended scale or to a tendency indication.

A tendency indication would consist in that a comparison of the current energy measure with a previously determined energy measure which was associated with another player is performed so as to be able to state, as the tendency indication, i.e. as information about the shot force, that the shot force of the current player was larger, equal to or smaller than the shot force of the previous player.

Mapping the energy measure to force-of-shot information in such a manner may be conducted using any energy measures desired, i.e. even in the event that the force as is depicted in FIG. 6 c as a curve over time is evaluated. Thus, the force curve is proportional to the acceleration curve, to be precise with the mass of the movable game device as the proportionality constant. The curve of the force over time also provides an energy measure which could be calculated, for example, by integrating the force over time.

Alternatively, as is shown in FIG. 6 d, the directional force exerted on the ball may also be measured as a function of the locus on which the ball moves during the shot. Thus, the force at the location point ×=0, at which the ball is located before it is hit by the player's leg, will increase to a high value which will fall down to a certain value. The ball leaves the player's foot at the location point so on the locus, so that no more driving force is exerted on the ball, but only deceleration forces which are present due to the air friction and which, however, are not taken into account in FIG. 6 d.

Thus, an energy measure also represents the integration of the force measured (acceleration) across the locus covered by the ball. The locus may be measured, for example, at the same time with the acceleration sensor within the ball if the acceleration sensor is an acceleration sensor which operates in a three-dimensional manner and is sensitive in terms of direction. Alternatively, the locus of a projectile may also be calculated in different manners, such as by using highly accurate satellite- or ground-based positioning systems or by accessing predetermined tables. However, micromechanical positioning systems using vibrating gyroscopes may also be employed for determining the locus so as to be able to numerically evaluate the integral depicted in FIG. 6.

However, the preferred embodiment of the present invention is to provide a pressure sensor within the movable game device. When the movable game device is shot, it could have a pressure curve as is qualitatively depicted in FIG. 7. At a time t0, the object hits the movable game device, which will lead to a pressure increase in the movable game device, since the movable game device is deformed by the object impacting the movable game device. This pressure increase will then increase up to a maximum pressure Pmax and will then decrease again so as to diminish again down to the pressure at rest around time t1 which is characterized in that the movable game device has no more contact with the object.

It has thus been found out that the integral regarding the pressure change, i.e. the area fill within the area shaded in FIG. 7, is connected to the energy exerted on the ball, so that the time curve of the pressure may advantageously be employed for determining the force of the shot.

The utilization of a pressure sensor is particularly advantageous, compared to an acceleration sensor, since the pressure sensor may be configured in a simple manner and to be robust, in comparison with an acceleration sensor which, e.g., has large masses of bending beams. In addition, it is inherent for a pressure sensor not to emit a directional quantity, but to emit a non-directional quantity if it is arranged within the movable game device, which in acceleration sensors could only be achieved by expensive provision of an acceleration sensor array which must be sensitive in three spatial directions. On the other hand, one single pressure sensor is sufficient to provide a pressure curve of the internal pressure of the movable game device.

Thus, utilization of a pressure sensor provides a maintenance-free, robust and, at the same time, low-cost possibility of measuring the pressure curve within a movable game device and of obtaining force-of-shot information, as will be set forth later on with reference to FIGS. 8 and 10.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the pressure curve over time is integrated between t0 and t1, specifically in accordance with the equation as is shown in FIG. 7. This shows that what is integrated is not the absolute pressure curve, but the curve of the pressure change in comparison to the pressure at rest, p0. However, it would also be possible to integrate the absolute pressure curve so as then to subtract area 97 following the integration. This results simply from the product of time duration Δt and the pressure at rest.

As may be seen from FIG. 8, the shot force is highly dependent on the level of the pressure at rest. This result from FIG. 8 on the basis of the various parameter curves, one parameter curve 97 being plotted for a small pressure at rest, p0, whereas a different parameter curve is plotted for a high pressure p0 at 98. In particular, the x axis of the group of curves of FIG. 8 represents the integrated pressure change as a measure of the energy., i.e.—calculated in physical units—a measure which has (Pascal×seconds) as a unit. In illustrative terms, area 96 of the curve shown in FIG. 7 is plotted over the x axis. If one assumes a ball having a small internal pressure, a force-of-shot value will result along the straight line depending on how hard the ball was hit, i.e. how high the shot force is. If, on the other hand, a highly inflated ball is used for playing, a very much higher force of shot has been obtained as a measure of the energy, with the same integrated pressure change, in comparison with curve 97. This is due to the fact that a highly inflated ball is deformed only to a small degree even by a very hard shot, whereas a ball inflated to a very small degree is deformed by a relatively soft shot already, the deformation corresponding to the integrated pressure change.

Alternatively or in addition, the maximum pressure Pmax of the pressure curve over time may also be determined by means 92 of FIG. 9. Specifically, one may assume, for simpler evaluations, that the curve of the pressure over time, i.e. the manner in which the shot impacts the object, is assumed to be roughly the same for all shots, such that then solely the maximum value will be decisive. In this case, a group of straight lines would be provided which is similar to the group of curves in FIG. 8 but which would not have, as the x axis, an integrated pressure change as the measure of the energy, but the maximum pressure.

As another alternative, one could also determine the time duration of the curve of the pressure deviation which, if typical pressure curves are taken to be approximately the same with regard to their shapes, is also a measure of the energy imparted on the game device during the shot.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the internal pressure at rest p0 is initially determined in a step 100, as is depicted in FIG. 10. This determination may either occur prior to or after the shot and is used to select one of the curves in the group of curves of FIG. 8. In addition, the pressure change is integrated over time in a step 102, specifically from time t0 to time t1, using the temporal pressure curve p(t) determined in a step 101. Thus, the integration regarding the pressure change or regarding the pressure deviation from the pressure at rest, set forth in step 102, provides the energy measure which will then be used to determine a value on the parameter curve selected. Preferably, the access made to a table comprising a group of curves is conducted, in a step 103, such that a three-dimensional table is given which comprises groups of three values, a first value of the group of three being the pressure at rest p0, a second value of the group of three being the integrated pressure change, and a third value then being the shot force as is plotted on the y axis of FIG. 8. This force-of-shot information is provided by step 103. When comparing FIG. 9 and FIG. 10, it is obvious that steps 100 and 101 are performed by means 90, that step 102 is performed by means 92, and that step 103 is performed by means 94.

Depending on the implementation of the system, i.e. on the diversity required, information about the type of game device which is fed in at 104 may also be taken into account in step 103. For example, the shot force may depend on whether the ball is a tennis ball or a football. In addition, the shot force will vary from brand to brand. This is relevant particularly when the “ideal range” of the ball, which will then also depend on the surface of the ball, is taken as the shot force. A smoother surface of the ball has a smaller air resistance, so that with the same energy transmitted, the shot force—measured in meters—will be higher than that of a ball having a rougher surface. Nevertheless, both force-of-shot results depend on the energy imparted on the ball, and additionally depend on the type of game device fed in via line 104.

Depending on the implementation, all or only some of the components shown in FIG. 9 will be arranged within the game device itself or within a central device located at a distance from the game device.

In the first embodiment of such a system, only an acceleration sensor or a pressure sensor configured to store a time curve of acceleration or pressure will be located within the game device itself. This time curve of acceleration or pressure may then be transferred, e.g. via a radio transmitter, to a receiver which could be present with the player in the form of a watch, for example. Alternatively, the ball need not necessarily have a radio sensor but may have an output interface which, when the ball is placed into a specifically configured docking station, will read out the stored curves of acceleration or pressure. Then, the processing in block 92 and the provision of force-of-shot information in block 94 would take place in an external station, such as the player's watch or in a central receiving station on a football pitch, etc.

Alternatively, both the functionality of means 90 and means 92 may be integrated into the ball, and the ball already supplies the energy measure to an external receiving station. This results in that less data must be transferred from the ball to the outside, but that more processor power is required within the game device.

Alternatively, all means 90, 92, 94 may be implemented within the mobile game device, so that only the information about the shot force is indicated by the ball even in a direct manner, or is output via an output interface which may be, e.g., a radio interface or a contact interface.

The system depicted in FIG. 9 also includes the functionality of the external receive interface 6 if only one sensor is present within the ball and if the ball outputs the time curve of the acceleration or internal pressure. Then, means 90 for providing a time curve of acceleration or internal pressure of FIG. 9 is an input interface of the external calculator which additionally also comprises means 92 and means 94.

For example, the device for measuring the shot force may be arranged and implemented fully within the mobile game device or fully outside the game device or partly within and partly outside the mobile game device.

In this sense, the method for measuring a force of shot exerted on the movable game device in such a partial implementation both includes the game device and the evaluation device or only the game device or only the evaluation device.

The game device thus provides detection of the shot force and the flying speed of a game device 7 which may be determined therefrom. Thus, in a football game there is often the question of who has the “hardest” shot. In particular for this embodiment, but also for the other embodiments there is the possibility of integrating the evaluation unit 13 also into the assembly 15 within the game device 7. A sensor measuring the shot force may be mounted in game device 7. This sensor is preferably a pressure sensor 10 or an acceleration sensor. The information of this sensor is measured by an internal microcontroller and transferred, for example, to display unit 14 on data detection device 12 of the player. For determining the shot force, it is necessary to measure the energy the ball has been imparted during the shot. To this end, the evaluation unit 13 has means for detecting the pressure, determined by pressure sensor 10, over time or for detecting the acceleration detected by the acceleration sensor. In addition, provision is made for calculating means for calculating the force applied to ball 7 on the part of player 6 using the pressure curve or acceleration curve.

With the acceleration sensor, the acceleration is measured directly and reported to the microcontroller within game device 7. Said microcontroller calculates the force that has acted upon the ball from the known mass of the ball and the acceleration measured. These calculations also include the aerodynamics and the time curve of the energy transferred to the ball. The calculation comprises not only transferring the overall energy to the evaluation unit 13, but also comprises transferring the time curve of the energy transferral to the ball.

In the alternative use of a pressure sensor 10, one measures how the internal pressure of the ball increases during a shot. These pressure changes and the associated time curve allow the microcontroller within the ball to determine the force that has been exerted on the ball. Using the pressure measurement, it is possible to ascertain how much the ball was deformed. The higher the level of deformation, the larger the shot force. To this end, the peak value and the pressure curve of the internal pressure are measured using pressure sensor 10. Using a group of curves, the energy supplied to the ball is measured. For example, the group of curves may be determined in advance in a empirical manner, by means of a shooting system and is different for each type of ball.

Then the shot force may be determined in very accurately from the energy transferred and the time curve. Beside the shot force, the overall energy may also be displayed. This allows to obtain information about the type of shot. Thus, the ball may be played with much more precision on an even energy supply. Thus, if the duration of the energy supply is displayed additionally, for which purpose additional detection means may be provided, this may also be trained.

The energy may be used to infer the flying speed the ball has obtained. To this end, the weight and aerodynamics of the ball are taken into account. The flying speed determined is the value that is reached when the ball may fly off freely after the shot. In addition to the action of force, the time of the ball being hit, and the time of the ball touching down may also be determined using pressure sensor 10 and/or the acceleration sensor. By means of the force information and the time duration of the flight, it is quite readily possible to calculate the distance the ball must have flown.

In addition to the above implementations of ball contact detection or of shot force measuring, or as an alternative to these concepts, the inventive rotation measurement concept is implemented which, if it is implemented on its own, requires all of the components described below, but which, if it is implemented in addition to the other aspects of contact measuring and shot force measuring, advantageously resorts to the already existing components, such as the radio interface or a small. programmable processor within the ball and/or the entire RF front end of the ball.

The device for measuring a rotational frequency of a movable game device using a high-frequency radio signal initially includes a means 120 for providing a time-varying radio antenna receive signal. Means 120 may then, if it is implemented within the game device, include one or several antennas which may be configured for certain reception frequency ranges. However, if the device shown in FIG. 12 is fully integrated externally within a monitoring device, such as a clock, or watch, means 120 for providing the radio antenna receive signal is configured as a radio input interface of the clock, or watch, i.e. of the remote communication device not integrated into the ball.

Depending on the implementation, the radio antenna receive signal is a signal having an exemplary spectrum as in FIG. 12 a prior to the selection. Alternatively, the radio antenna receive signal is already a baseband signal after a selection, as is depicted in FIG. 12 b. If the device in accordance with FIG. 11 is configured within the mobile game device, the means for providing the radio antenna receive signal will be implemented as an antenna providing the spectrum of FIG. 12 a, a means 122 connected downstream for detecting a comparatively low-frequency frequency which has been modulated onto the high-frequency radio signal initially conducting the selection to obtain the spectrum of FIG. 12 b and to then determine the frequency of the dominant component of this spectrum.

If, on the other hand, the radio antenna receive signal is already a selected signal having a spectrum in accordance with FIG. 12 b, means 122 for detecting the comparatively low-frequency frequency which has been modulated onto the high-frequency radio signal will already obtain the low-frequency frequency, and now only has to measure the value of this frequency to provide a rotational-frequency indication on the output side.

A spectrum of the radio antenna receive signal prior to selection is shown, by way of example, in FIG. 12 a, the transmitter frequency, i.e. the carrier frequency of a broadcast transmitter, television transmitter or mobile communication transmitter being designated by ftransmitter. The two bands of an amplitude modulation resulting from a rotation of the mobile game device in the field are also shown, the value of Δf, i.e. the distance of the two sidebands from the carrier frequency, being identical with the rotational frequency.

If the radio field “exploited” for rotation detection. has itself a modulation in the range of the rotational frequency, the modulation will superimpose onto this modulation, which is already radio-inherent, due to the rotational frequency. Due to the fact that typical dipole antennas have, e.g., intense directivity characteristics, the modulation will be very high due to the rotation, so that actually, clear sidebands will always be detectable. If, however, this is not the case on one occasion, one may readily resort to any other transmitter that is currently active in the entire spectrum of radio frequencies and does not have such a radio-inherent low-frequency modulation. Thus, it is extremely unlikely that not even one single sender should be available that does not have such a low-frequency modulation. In this case, however, the inventive concept could still activate the closed system function, as will be explained with reference to FIG. 15.

The radio antenna receive signal after the selection is shown in FIG. 12 b. It may be generated in various manners, such as by downmixing the spectrum of FIG. 12 a. However, detection is simpler when a simple envelope detection is performed or when one resorts to typical broadcast receivers such as, e.g., a ratio detector. The simplest manner of selection, however, is to perform an envelope detection using a peak-value detector to extract the low-frequency modulation component. FIG. 12 b, for example, depicts a radio antenna receive signal after the selection which now includes only a low-frequency modulation oscillation, the frequency of which may be detected in various manners by means 122 for detecting. For example, means 122 may be configured to perform an extreme-value detection in the time signal after the selection, for example to determine two adjacent maxima, two adjacent minima or an adjacent maximum and an adjacent minimum and to calculate therefrom the temporal distance associated with the rotational frequency. In case two adjacent maxima or two adjacent minima are detected, the rotational frequency equals the reciprocal of the time duration expired between two adjacent maxima or minima. In case one maximum and one minimum are detected, the rotational frequency equals the reciprocal of double the time that has passed. In case two adjacent zero crossings of the low-frequency time signal are detected, the rotational frequency equals the reciprocal of double the time period that lies between two adjacent zero crossings.

When there is a highly directional field, it may be possible for the ball to rotate in such a manner with regard to the field that no, or only a very weak, modulation of a certain transmitter is detected. In this case, it is preferred to employ two antennas whose directions of maximum sensitivity diverge by 90 degrees, as is depicted in FIG. 13. A first antenna 130 a has a schematic directivity characteristic as is shown at 132 a. A second antenna 130 b has a directivity characteristic as is shown at 132 b in FIG. 13. Both antennas have directions of maximum sensitivity, as are drawn in at 134 a and 134 b, respectively. Since both directions have an angle of 90° toward one another, one of the two antenna signals will in any case have a higher modulation than the other antenna signal. When contemplating FIG. 16, which depicts a preferred implementation of the assembly within the mobile game device, a selection of the two antenna receive signals in two selector elements which may be configured, for example, as envelope detectors 160 a and 160 b is now conducted, the selected low-frequency signal portions then being examined within a control 162 to select the better signal for a transmission via a downstream RF front end 164 and the subsequent transmission via RF antenna 166. Alternatively, control 162 may also be configured to add both selector output signals. Alternatively, an advantage may also be rendered by performing an addition on the RF side, so that only one single selector is required which subjects the added antenna signals to a selection. Still further alternatives are to transmit both RF antenna signals from the ball to the evaluation device either prior to or after the selection, all signal processing taking place in the evaluation device when the RF signals are transmitted from the ball to the evaluation device. The individual implementation will depend on other boundary conditions, such as the availability of electrical current within the game device, as few radio signals as possible being transmitted if the battery requirements are particularly large, since transmitting requires a considerable proportion of the energy required for overall processing. However, if the requirements placed upon the energy consumption of the game device are not quite as large, the game device will transmit, in specific implementations; both or only one RF signal or both or only one LF signal to the evaluation station, since still other evaluations may be performed using this information, such as aerodynamic calculations, velocity calculations, etc.

FIG. 14 shows an overall scenario comprising three different transmitters S1, S2, S3, all having such antennas that they have circular radiation characteristic, which is particularly true if the transmitters are television transmitters, radio transmitters or generally speaking broadcast transmitters or if the transmitters are mobile phone base stations or even individual mobile phones which are typically present in large numbers in a football stadium, which is schematically depicted at 140 in FIG. 14.

Also, in FIG. 14 a mobile game device 142 is drawn, by way of example, as a football, the antenna direction maxima 134 a, 134 b, as have been set forth with reference to FIG. 13, having also been drawn in. In addition, an evaluation device 144 is drawn which is either located outside the pitch, as shown in FIG. 14, e.g. stationary or carried, or worn, by a person, or which may alternatively be configured as a watch worn by a user on his/her wrist.

Typically, the transmitters will be arranged at different heights and have different transmit characteristics, so that it is very likely that already one single antenna arranged within ball 142 will provide a radio antenna receive signal, due to a rotation of the ball, prior to the selection or after the selection, which has a significant LF amplitude due to the rotation of the ball. Typically, these LF amplitudes will be below 100 Hz if footballs are contemplated. However, other applications exist wherein the rotations can be higher or lower. Depending on the ball equipped with the invention, one may thus search for other low-frequency components.

So far, the present invention has been described by means of an open system, wherein one resorts to external radio fields, the presence of which, in accordance with the present invention, is not interpreted as “electrosmog” or the like, but as a detection field advantageously exploited for measuring rotational frequency.

Alternatively or additionally, the present invention may also be operated as a closed system, which is to be implemented with the smallest of effort particularly if the ball has a radio interface comprising an RF front end and an antenna anyhow, as is the case with preferred embodiments. Then the ball, for example when it finds that no reasonable radio field exists, or simply upon the demand of a user or when no additional receive antennas are provided, may send a radiation command to the remote evaluation device 150. The remote evaluation unit will then typically send an unmodulated radio signal because of the radiation instruction by the evaluation unit, as is shown at 152. Thereupon, the mobile game device measures a time variation of the received field strength. Alternatively, this measurement may also take place without the evaluation device so as to achieve a measurement in accordance with step 154. Finally, the mobile game device sends information indicating the rotational frequency of the mobile game device to the evaluation device, as is depicted at 156. It is then left to the evaluation device to output the rotational frequency, as is shown at 158 in FIG. 15.

The rotation information may be used for training so-called “curling crosses” in football. To this end, it is important for the user to immediately get a feedback about his/her shot. For this purpose, the rotational speed within the ball is measured and transmitted via radio 1 to the player's data detection device 12. The components are to be arranged such that during their movement when the game device 7 is rotating in a radio energy field, a modulation frequency determinable by the evaluation unit 13 will result which can be converted into the rotational speed.

Thus, the sensor measures the radio field and determines the field strength. When the ball rotates, the field strength undergoes a modulation. The frequency of the modulation is directly proportional to the rotational speed of the ball. During the measurement of the radio field, the directional vector of the radio field is determined. The rotation of this vector is proportional to the rotation of the ball. For the purposes of measuring the rotation, neither a linearity of the measurement nor a determination of the direction of the field is required. When the ball rotates, the input voltage has an alternating voltage superimposed on it, the frequency of which is the rotational frequency of the ball. The frequency of this alternating voltage is the rotational frequency of the ball. Evaluation of this voltage may either be performed discretely via an analog circuit or using a microcontroller. To obtain a signal that can be evaluated for each possible axis of rotation of the ball, two receive antennas offset by 90° are used, as has been set forth.

In accordance with the invention, radio transmitters are thus used which in an open system are typically existing radio transmitters, and in a closed system are created by the evaluation unit itself.

To determine the rotational speed, radio transmitters may also be used. In this case, the change of the field strength of any radio transmitter, for example a medium-wave transmitter, is used. The frequency of the change in field strength is proportional to the rotational frequency. Beside a dipole, a coil or a ferrite antenna may be used as an antenna. Since there are enough active long-, medium-, and short-wave transmitters in each country, there is no need in the system to operate one's own transmitters. If transmitters having a relatively high frequency are to be used as the reference, a dipole antenna is a possibility, which dipole antenna may be deposited, for example, on the ball's electronic system or even on the ball's envelope in the form of conductive traces. A frame antenna is suitable for low frequencies. It may be deposited as a coil in the form of conductive traces for assembly 15 of the ball's electronic system. A ferrite antenna is suitable for low frequencies. It may be constructed to be very small and will nevertheless generate a relatively large output signal. With all antennas it is necessary for two receive directions to be built up, so that a signal can be measured at any axis of rotation. The only thing that is important with signal measurement is the field strength. For this purpose, an amplifier having a high level of dynamics is necessary. The amplification should be logarithmic, for example, so that the A/D converter of the microcontroller need not be too wide.

An extremely low-power microcontroller takes on the data and the control of the ball's electronic system. Said microcontroller is woken up at the start of the game. If the microcontroller has not observed any game for a relatively long period, it will automatically switch off. The main task of microcontroller 11, which may be integrated in the data detection device in the game device as well as, or in addition to, microcontroller 11, is to process the data such that it can be transmitted via radio 1 with as little energy as possible. The data is preferably transmitted several times via radio, e.g. via a 2.4 GHz radio link, so as to be able to correct any errors.

Current supply may be realized in two known ways. On the one hand, one may use an accumulator, which, however, requires charging equipment. On the other hand, one may use a primary battery 21 within the data detection device and a primary battery 22 within game device 7, it not being possible, however, for the latter to be replaced within the ball.

In the accumulator version, a charging coil is mounted within the ball, using which the accumulator may be loaded in an inductive manner. With the version including battery 22, the ball is supplied using lithium batteries. The capacitance is designed such that the functionality of the electronic system is ensured for 1000 hours. With an average playing time of 1 hour per day, the battery would last for three years.

Within data detection device 12, a transceiver is integrated as a receive unit 2. Said transceiver receives the data from the ball and/or can establish a connection to other data detection devices in order to exchange data. Transmission and reception of data takes place, e.g., within the 2.4 GHz band.

The transceiver may receive and transmit data. Thus, it is possible to couple the data detection devices to one another. Thereby, the ball contacts can be transmitted to the other data detection devices during the game, so that a very accurate statistical set of data will be created in the network so as to be able to judge the game. If need be, it is also possible, by means of the data transmission, to facilitate small computer games in which the users may play in a networked manner.

The data within data detection device 12 is processed using a relatively large microcontroller 11. This microcontroller is extremely low in its power consumption. The data is exchanged via the transceiver and visualized on a display unit 14.

The data processed is displayed using a graphic display. The display has an integrated controller, to which the microcontroller is connected. Operation is effected via several keys 20, the function of which is dynamic.

The current supply of data detection device 12 must be highly power-saving. Battery 21 may be replaced. Microcontroller 11 and the display are extremely power-saving. Data transmission is designed such that the transceiver is in operation only for a very short time in each case.

With the ball version including an accumulator, a charging station is necessary. Since there is no line connection to the ball's electronic system, it is necessary to inductively charge the ball in a known manner. To this end, the charging station comprises a transmitter coil with which the energy is transferred into the ball.

In order to be able to communicate with other evaluation units, it is necessary to convert the radio communication to a different protocol. Since it is with a probability of 99 % that a common PC will be used, a conversion in accordance with, e.g., USB is envisaged.

A more detailed description will be given below of the interacting components of the preferred concept, i.e. of the movable device of FIG. 4 a and FIG. 4 b, and of the receiver device of FIGS. 5 a and 5 b. Movable device 7 contains a detector 23 which may be, e.g., the pressure sensor 10 of FIG. 3 and which detects if ball 7 is touched. However, detector 23 may include a contactless sensor which operates in an electric, acoustic, optical or electromagnetic manner and detects, for example, whether a magnetic or electric field of any kind which is generated, e.g., by a respective transmitter within a football player's shoe approaches the ball. Detector 23 is configured to detect that an object, i.e., for example, a leg, a foot, a shoe, a racket, a bat, or the like, is positioned in the vicinity of or at the game device.

In addition, mobile device 7 includes a transmitter module 24 configured to transmit a first signal having a first signal speed, and to further transmit a second signal having a second signal speed which is smaller than the first signal speed. The transmitter module is configured to transmit the first and second signals in response to a detector output signal, as is shown by signal arrow 25 in FIG. 4 a.

As has already been set forth, detector 23 is a touch sensor configured to detect the movable device being touched by the object. Such a touch sensor is, for example, the pressure sensor, however, it is also an acceleration sensor or any other sensor detecting whether the object engages with the surface of game device 7. Alternatively, the detector may also be configured as a contactless sensor which, as has been set forth, detects in some way that there is an object in the vicinity of the movable device. A contactless sensor which detects whether an object is located at a predetermined distance, which is smaller than or equal to 10 cm, from the movable device is suitable for specific embodiments. Then it is very likely for the object to actually touch the movable device, since the only aim is to cause the object to touch the movable device, for example when one thinks of a football as the movable device, or of a tennis ball. One may assume, with a probability of almost one hundred percent, that once the object is located within the predetermined distance, the object will eventually have contact with the movable device.

The transmitter module is configured to send two signals having different signal speeds. Preferably, a radio signal generated by radio transmitter 3 is used as the first, fast signal. The second signal is generated by a sound transmitter 26 preferably configured as an ultrasonic transmitter. Both transmitters are controlled by the detector signal supplied via line 25, so as to send both signals at the same time or essentially at the same time, i.e. within a period of, e.g., 1 to 2 ms, in response to the detector signal. Alternatively, however, the transmitters may be configured such that the radio transmitter sends the first signal at a specific moment determined by detector signal 25, and that the ultrasonic transmitter then waits for a predetermined time duration before the ultrasonic signal is transmitted. Here, the reception of the radio transmitter would also not immediately cause a chronometer to be activated on the receiver side, but the chronometer would be activated within a predefined time duration upon reception of the first signal, i.e. not immediately upon reception of the first signal, but depending on the reception of the first signal.

Alternatively, ball-contact detection could also be used to initially send the ultrasonic signal and then, after a specific time duration, the radio signal which will then overtake the ultrasonic signal, as it were, so that on the receiver side, a very short predetermined time duration is sufficient, within which the radio signal and the ultrasonic signal will arrive. However, it is preferred that both transmitters send their signals at the same time and that an accordingly longer predetermined time duration be employed on the receiver side, and/or that on the receiver side, the chronometer be started immediately upon reception of the radio transmitter.

The predetermined time duration depends on the difference of the speeds of the first, fast signal and the second, slow signal. The smaller this difference in speeds, the smaller the predetermined time duration that may be selected. The larger the difference in speeds, the longer the predetermined time duration that must be set. In addition, the predetermined time duration depends on whether the first and second signals are really sent at the same time, or whether the first and second signals are sent with an offset in time, a delay in the second signal with regard to the first signals leading to a delay in the start of the predetermined time duration, while a delay of the first signal relative to the second signal leads to a smaller predetermined time duration. In general, however, predetermined time durations of less than 5 ms are preferred, as has already been set forth.

As is depicted in FIG. 5 b, on the receiver side, the receiver module is in connection with a detector 28 which may be coupled to a memory 29 or which may be coupled to a further radio transmitter within the receiver device, which is not shown in FIG. 5 a, however. The detector and memory 29 are preferably contained within evaluation unit 13 of FIG. 3. The receiver device overall shown at the bottom of FIG. 3, or the receiver device shown in FIG. 5 a, is preferably configured such that it is integrated into a watch, or has the shape and looks of a watch, so that it may readily be worn by, e.g., a football player or a tennis player without said player being adversely affected in practicing his/her sport. Generally speaking, the receiver device is mountable to the object whose vicinity to the mobile device is detected by detector 23 in FIG. 4 a, and comprises an appropriate fixing device which is not shown in FIG. 5 a but which has the shape, for example, of a watchstrap, a fixture for a watchstrap, a clip or a different mounting device which may be secured in some way to the object and/or to a player.

The receiver module 2 is configured to receive the first signal having the first signal speed and the second signal having the second signal speed, which is smaller than the first signal speed. In addition, detector 28 is configured to provide a detector signal indicating whether the second signal has been received within a predetermined time duration since reception of the first signal. In addition, the detector is preferably coupled to memory 29 which is configured to store the moment when the detector provides the detector signal. Alternatively, a further transmitter may be present instead of the memory, the transmitter being configured to send the detector signal to a central detection point where, e.g., an online evaluation of ball contacts for the individual players is performed.

Such an online detection point would be, for example, a receiver arranged somewhere in the vicinity of a football pitch. In this case, any receiver device would send, on the output side, a contact with the movable device together with an identification for the player wearing the receiver device, so that indisputable statistical data can be obtained as to which player had how many ball contacts.

Recently, one has found that such information about ball contacts etc. are increasingly detected, shown and provided to a large audience and/or the commentator, for example, in football matches, so as to increase the information content for the viewers.

In the implementation with memory 29, for example, no central receiver device is required on the football pitch. Instead, the memory may be evaluated, for example, at half-time or at the end of the game, or in a contactless manner during the game without any interaction on the part of any player, so as to either obtain a count value for each player indicating how often the player had contact with the movable device. In this case, player 29 would be implemented as a counter incremented by 1 during each detection of the detector signal. Alternatively or in addition, the memory may also detect an absolute time of a clock, or watch, preferably contained within the receiver device and depicted at 30 in FIG. 5 b. Then the memory would store a sequence of moments in time which may then be evaluated to be able to establish, for each player, a “ball-contact profile” over time. Here, it may also be possible to subsequently correct any erroneous detections that may have taken place, for example if one found out that more than two players had contact with the ball at the same time. Simultaneous contact of two players is relatively likely, for example when one thinks of a “50/50 ball”. However, a contact of, e.g., three players with the ball at the same time, becomes very unlikely in football. However, in tennis, for example, a contact of two tennis rackets at the same time is already impossible, so that here, additional information about typical situations, in a sport, involving the movable game device may be used to perform an evaluation wherein errors may be eliminated.

FIG. 5 b shows a more specific embodiment of the receiver shown in FIG. 5 a. The receiver module comprises, on the one hand, a radio receiver 32 for receiving the first, fast signal, and an ultrasonic receiver 32 for receiving the second, slower signal. Radio receivers and ultrasonic receivers may also be configured differently, as long as they receive any signals having different signal speeds. Depending on a radio signal received, a detector 28 activates a chronometer 31 via a start line 35. Once a predetermined time duration and/or the predetermined time period has expired, the chronometer is stopped, which will typically be performed such that the chronometer 31, which is set to the predetermined time period, will provide a stop signal to the detector via a stop line 36.

If the detector detects an ultrasonic signal upon receiving the stop signal, no detector signal will be output on a line 37. In this case, it is actually assumed that the receiver device is located at such a long distance from the movable device that it is very likely for the movable device to not have been hit. However, if an ultrasonic signal is received by the detector before receiving the stop signal, i.e. before the predetermined time period has expired, the detector signal 37 will be output, which will then be stored by the memory, the memory being, for example, a counter incremented by 1 by the detector signal.

Alternatively, the detector signal is supplied to a clock, or watch, which performs absolute time measurement, which, e.g., may be an actual absolute time of the day, but which, e.g., is also an absolute time which begins, e.g., at the beginning of the game and is thus not directly an absolute time, but renders one minute of, e.g., a football game. At the time of the detector signal, clock 30 will then provide its current reading via a data line 38, so that the memory is then able to store this specific moment in time. A random evaluation of the players' activity may be performed by means of an evaluation unit having an interface, as may be implemented, for example, by display unit 14 in FIG. 3 or in FIG. 5 b, which cooperates, in particular, with microcontroller 11 of FIG. 3.

Depending on the circumstances, the inventive methods may be implemented in hardware or in software. The implementation may be on a digital storage medium, in particular a disk or a CD with electronically readable control signals which may cooperate with a programmable computer system in such a manner that the respective method is performed. Generally, the invention thus also consists in a computer program product having a program code, stored on a machine-readable carrier, for performing the inventive method, when the computer program product runs on a computer. In other words, the present invention is thus also a computer program having a program code for performing the method of converting, when the computer program runs on a computer.

While this invention has been described in terms of several preferred embodiments, there are alterations, permutations, and equivalents which fall within the scope of this invention. It should also be noted that there are many alternative ways of implementing the methods and compositions of the present invention. It is therefore intended that the following appended claims be interpreted as including all such alterations, permutations, and equivalents as fall within the true-spirit and scope of the present invention.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification434/251
International ClassificationA63B69/00
Cooperative ClassificationG01S13/862, G01S13/74, A63B2225/30, A63B43/00, A63B41/00, A63B2225/50, A63B2220/40, A63B2220/833, A63B69/002, A63B71/0605, A63B2225/52
European ClassificationA63B43/00, G01S13/74, G01S13/86, A63B71/06B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 14, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: CAIROS TECHNOLOGIES AG, GERMANY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:KUENZLER, UDO;ENGLERT, WALTER;REEL/FRAME:018519/0243;SIGNING DATES FROM 20060913 TO 20060915