US 20070259756 A1
A potentially infinitely variable resistance to exercise that can be incorporated into most types of exercise equipment is achieved by driving an electrical generator with the physical exertion of the user to power a sufficiently large electrical load. Physical resistance to exercise is controlled by adjusting the output of the generator.
1. A system that utilizes the kinetic energy of exercise to generate electricity to power external electrical devices, wherein such system comprises (1) at least one variable resistance exercise machine configured to convert the user's kinetic energy input into an electrical generator input; (2) an electrical generator; (3) a rectifier; and (4) current limiting means.
2. The system of
3. The system of
4. The system of
5. The system of
6. A method for the generation of electrical energy, whereby such method comprises capturing the kinetic energy generated by a user of a resistance exercise machine, converting such kinetic energy into electrical energy via an electrical generator, and controlling the electrical generator output with a rectifier and current limiting means.
7. The method of
8. The method of
This is the complete application claiming the benefit of co-pending Provisional Patent Application No. 60/798,216 filed May 5, 2006.
The present invention relates to exercise equipment and more particularly, to resistance to exercise movement. More specifically, the present invention relates to a system and a method for harnessing the exertions of persons who are utilizing exercise equipment as a means to generate energy that can be further utilized as a power source for other energy-dependent systems. The present invention particularly encompasses a system and method of converting an individual's movements and exertions against resistance into electrical energy that can either be utilized directly to power other electrical components, or be stored for subsequent utilization by such components.
Variable resistance mechanisms are well known and commonly used in the exercise equipment industry. The simplest apparatus typically employ gravity as the resistive force. The motion imparted to such apparatus causes interchangeable weights of differing masses to be raised vertically against the pull of gravity. The person who uses such an apparatus will add or subtract different masses and will exert more of less force against a gravitational force. More complex apparatus may utilize one or more polymer elastic bands or springs, and the exerciser will exert a force to expand or compress those springs. With apparatuses that are designed for continuous use in an aerobic exercise environment, resistance mechanisms may incorporate frictional components such as, for example, stationary bicycles that include flywheels and variable frictional braking mechanisms against the flywheels, and treadmills that incorporate similar frictional resistance elements. Still other resistance mechanisms incorporate magnetic or electrical resistance forces.
Exercise machines vary in complexity, theory of operation and resistance methods used. A common characteristic of the resistive components most commonly employed in modern exercise equipment is that the energy imparted to the machine through the motion of exercise is wasted in the form of heat that must be dissipated to prevent damage to the device.
Examples of variable resistance mechanisms include the friction device that is adjusted by spring tension described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,149,559 issued to Mackey. An alternate mechanism uses the electrical drag produced by one or more transducers as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,165,110 issued to Gajda. A third uses rotating magnets to produce resistance that varies automatically in response to the energy imparted by exercise, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,011,067 issued to Kolda, et al. None of these devices or apparatuses includes any system or mechanism to capture the energy that is lost to the environment.
The object of the present invention is therefore to provide a system and method to convert the motion of exercise into electrical energy that may be reused to power other devices or stored for later use.
Another object of the present invention is to describe the minimum configuration of components that are required to capture and utilize the energy that is generated when an individual exerts a force against resistance in an exercise environment.
Still another object of the present invention is to incorporate existing electricity-generating devices into exercise methods and apparatuses in order to convert kinetic energy into usable electricity. This object is accomplished via the incorporation of circuitry into the method and apparatus of the invention such that the energy output may be converted into direct current for storage in batteries and similar devices, or alternating current at a sufficient voltage to supplement standard electrical distribution systems such as those connected to public electrical utilities.
A further object of the present invention is to describe a system whereby the degree of resistance to exercise may be varied by circuitry that adjusts the electrical output, such that the output is fed into a load provided by the storage or distribution system to which it is connected.
An additional object of the present invention is to describe alternate control circuit designs that can provide manual, automatic and programmable adjustments to resistance, as required.
Initially, the user supplies kinetic energy 1 via any common form of exercise. Kinetic energy is generally supplied in an exercise environment for example, through traditional raising and lowering of weights, via movement of flywheels on stationary bicycles or treadmills, or movement of other elements in an aerobic exercise regime. In the present invention, the traditional resistance sources are supplanted by devices that move electromagnetic field coils, which are otherwise powered via any number of mechanisms that are well-known to practitioners in the art of such systems, in one or more electrical generators 2. Such movement of the powered electromagnetic field coils induced electrical current to flow through the generators' output windings to rectifier 3.
Persons skilled in the art will understand that rectifier 3 is incorporated into the system and method of the present invention in order to prevent generators 2 from acting as a motor in an otherwise idle machine. Rectifier 3 also facilitates the conversion of alternating current to direct current if an alternating current generator is used. The generators' output is determined by the speed of the motion imparted by the user and the electromagnetic field strength of the generators' exciter field coils. The field strength is directly proportional to the current that the system allows to flow through the field coils, which current is controlled by the current limiting device 4.
Initial field current may be supplied from any one of a number of well-known devices. In the preferred embodiment shown in
Increasing the current flow to the excitation field of generator 2 will cause its output voltage to rise to (but not above) the voltage supplied by the storage device 5 or conversion device 6. Additional exciter current causes generator 2 output to be consumed by loads on the grid 8 or stored in the batteries 5. The generated electricity thus consumed is produced by the user's physical exertion, and is felt by the user as resistance to his effort.
It will be apparent to those skilled in the various arts that the foregoing system can be adapted to any configuration or mode of exercise equipment, including either traditional resistance or strength training exercise machines, and other exercise machines that are designed to give the user an aerobic exercise experience. Examples of the latter include treadmills, stationary bicycles, stair-climbing replicators, and elliptical exercise trainers. In large health club facilities it is not unusual for large numbers of these machines to be located in a large, central exercise room. The system of the present invention is readily adaptable so that the multiplicity of these machines can be linked into the system in a parallel configuration to produce a significant amount of reusable electrical power.
The foregoing specification describes a system and method that is configured for one specific use, namely, conversion of kinetic energy expenditures from resistance exercise machines into usable electrical energy. The present invention may also be adapted to capture and reuse energy in other situations in which kinetic energy expenditures are otherwise lost into the general environment.
This concludes the description of a preferred embodiment of the invention. This description has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. It is not intended that the scope of the invention will be limited by the foregoing description.