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Publication numberUS20080207347 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/069,010
Publication dateAug 28, 2008
Filing dateFeb 6, 2008
Priority dateFeb 8, 2007
Publication number069010, 12069010, US 2008/0207347 A1, US 2008/207347 A1, US 20080207347 A1, US 20080207347A1, US 2008207347 A1, US 2008207347A1, US-A1-20080207347, US-A1-2008207347, US2008/0207347A1, US2008/207347A1, US20080207347 A1, US20080207347A1, US2008207347 A1, US2008207347A1
InventorsFloyd D. Rose
Original AssigneeRose Floyd D
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Golf swing trainer and method of improving a golf swing
US 20080207347 A1
Abstract
The present invention relates to a golf swing trainer. The golf swing trainer includes a body member including a first surface; a first elongated array of light emitting elements arranged in a longitudinal direction on the first surface of the longitudinal body member; and a controller configured actuate the first elongated array of light emitting elements to generate a moving light pattern representing a position of a simulated golf club head during a simulated swing with at least one of the light emitting elements of the first elongated array.
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Claims(17)
1. A golf swing trainer, comprising:
a body member including a first surface;
a first elongated array of light emitting elements arranged in a longitudinal direction on the first surface of the body member; and
a controller configured to actuate the first elongated array of light emitting elements to generate a moving light pattern simulating a position of a simulated golf club head during a simulated golf club swing with at least one of the light emitting elements of the first elongated array.
2. The golf swing trainer according to claim 1, further comprising one or more input elements, the microcontroller being arranged to vary at least one parameter of the simulated swing responsive to operation of at least one of the one or more input elements.
3. The golf swing trainer according to claim 2, wherein at least one of the one or more input elements is arranged on the body member and is configured to be activated by an actual golf club head.
4. The golf swing trainer according to claim 2, further comprising:
a display device configured to display at least one operation mode of the golf swing trainer, and at least one of the parameters of the simulated swing.
5. The golf swing trainer according to claim 4, wherein the parameters of the simulated swing include:
a tempo of the simulated swing; and
a length of the simulated swing.
6. The golf swing trainer according to claim 1, wherein the controller is operative to actuate the first elongated array of light emitting elements to display a front and back maximal amplitude and a starting point of the simulated golf club head.
7. The golf swing trainer according to claim 1, wherein a start of the simulated golf head during the simulated swing is indicated with a first flash of at least one of the light emitting elements, a second flash of at least one of the light emitting elements, and a movement of the moving light pattern along the first elongated array of light emitting elements, and
wherein the timing between the first and second flash, and the second flash and the start of the movement are substantially the same duration.
8. The golf swing trainer according to claim 1, further comprising:
a pointing device mounted to the body member,
wherein the pointing device is arranged to project a light beam along the longitudinal direction of the body member.
9. The golf swing trainer according to claim 1, further comprising one or more sensor elements mounted to the body member and arranged to detect positions of an actual golf club head during an actual swing of an actual club.
10. The golf swing trainer according to claim 1 wherein the one or more sensor elements include an elongated array of sensor elements arranged substantially in parallel with the first elongated array of light emitting elements.
11. The golf swing trainer according to claim 9, further comprising:
a second elongated array of light emitting elements arranged substantially in parallel with the first elongated array of light emitting elements, the controller being operative to actuate the second elongated array of light emitting elements to display positions of the actual golf club head measured by said one or more sensor elements.
12. The golf swing trainer according to claim 1, further comprising:
a remote control separate from the body element, and a remote control input sensor mounted to the body element configured to receive commands from the remote control, the controller configured to set one or more parameters of the simulated swing responsive to the commands received by the remote control input sensor.
13. The golf swing trainer according to claim 9, wherein the controller is configured to capture information representing the actual golf swing from the one or more sensor elements, and reuse the captured information to generate the simulated golf swing.
14. A method of training a golf swing, comprising the steps of:
displaying a moving light pattern simulating a position of a simulated golf club head in a simulated golf club swing along a longitudinal direction of a body with a first elongated array of light emitting elements; and
attempting to match the position of the simulated golf head with an actual position of an actual golf club head in an actual golf club swing.
15. The method of training a golf swing according to claim 14, further comprising the step of:
indicating a start position of the simulated golf club head on the first elongated array of light emitting elements.
16. The method of training a golf swing according to claim 14, further comprising the steps of:
measuring the actual position of the actual golf club head simultaneously with said step of displaying the moving light pattern representing the position of the simulated golf club; and
displaying the actual measured position of the actual golf club head on a second elongated array of light emitting elements.
17. The method of training a golf swing according to claim 16, further comprising the steps of:
comparing the position of the simulated golf club head with the measured actual position of the actual golf club head; and
displaying the difference between positions.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application No. 60,900,644, filed Feb. 8, 2007, entitled Golf Swing Trainer And Method of Improving A Golf Swing, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a golf training device and method, and more particularly a device and method for practicing a swing of a golf club, such as, for example, a golf putter.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Numerous golf training devices have been proposed to improve a golfer's swing of the club. Golfers know how important a correct swing is to achieve a desired speed and trajectory of the golf ball. This is true whether putting, chipping, pitching, or during a full swing. In particular, high precision is required during putting to improve a golfer's score. Many things influence the speed and trajectory of a golf ball while in flight or while rolling on a green. Two main factors that can be controlled by a golfer when striking a golf ball are the angle of the club face at impact and the speed of the club at impact. While many devices have been proposed to improve the direction of the golf club when striking a golf ball, as for example in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,282,627 and 5,350,177, only a few propose a training device or method to control and improve the distance traveled by the golf ball after a strike with a golf club.

Thus, there is a substantial need for golf swing training devices and methods to improve and control the distance traveled by the golf ball when putting, chipping, pitching, or taking a full swing.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a golf swing trainer. Preferably the golf swing trainer includes a body member including a first surface, and also includes a first elongated array of light emitting elements arranged in the longitudinal direction on the first surface of the body member. Preferably, the golf swing trainer also includes a controller, wherein the controller is configured to actuate the first elongated array of light emitting elements to generate a moving light pattern simulating a position of a simulated golf club head during a simulated golf club swing with at least one of the light emitting elements of the first elongated array.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method of training a golf swing. The method includes a step of displaying a moving light pattern simulating a position of a simulated golf club head during a simulated golf club swing along a longitudinal direction of a body member with a first elongated array of light emitting elements. Preferably, the method also includes a step of attempting to match the position of the simulated golf club head with an actual position of an actual golf club head in an actual golf club swing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with regard to the following description, appended claims and accompanying drawings where:

FIGS. 1 a-c are top views according to a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic representation of an electronic system for the first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a top view according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a top view according to yet another embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 5 a-d are screenshots of a graphical user interface of the display of one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of yet another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a frontal side view of still another embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of yet another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a top view according to another embodiment of the present invention.

It should be noted that the dimensions of the assemblies shown in the Figures may be distorted for clarity of the illustration, and different proportions of the different dimensions are also possible. Furthermore, like numbers represent similar elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A golf swing trainer 10 in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention, illustrated in FIG. 1 a, includes a body member 12, in the variant shown being of longitudinal shape, and being approximately 25 inches long, 2 inches wide, and about 0.5 inches thick. These dimensions are exemplary only, and many other dimensions are possible to implement the trainer 10. As used in this disclosure, terms such as “upper,” “upwardly,” “top,” “lower,” “bottom,” “left,” “right,” “vertically,” and “longitudinally” should be understood as referring to the body 10 as shown in FIG. 1 a, where the body 10 is seen from a top perspective, and need not conform to the normal gravitation frame of reference. In FIG. 1 a, the upward direction is the direction towards the viewer of the drawing. FIG. 1 a is for representative purposes only.

The body member 12 has a ruler-like shape and includes a scale 30 that is printed on the top surface 19 of the golf swing trainer 10. The scale 30 is arranged in parallel to an array of light emitting elements 20. Preferably, the light emitting elements are light emitting diodes (LEDs) that are arranged on an upper surface of the body member 12. The scale numbering to both left and right directions starts in the middle of the golf swing trainer 10 at the center line 32 indicating the center of the golf swing trainer 10. In the variant shown, the numbering of the scale 30 increments to the left and right side of the scale from 1 to 12 inches, and indicates possible lengths of a back or front swing. The numbering of the scale 30 is also exemplary, and other scales and range of the values are also possible. The lights of the array of light emitting elements 20 can be controlled by a controller 58 that is located inside the body member 12. The controller 58 controls the light emitting elements 20, for example via a driver circuit to selectively turn on and off at least some of the light emitting elements 20. Thereby it is possible to generate light position patterns 22 that can move longitudinally on the array of light emitting elements 20. The location of the controller 58 is indicated with dashed lines in FIG. 1 a, since the controller is located inside the body member 12. The dashed lines are therefore only used for representation purposes, and may not be physically present in on the golf swing trainer. Other electronic elements may be also present in the body 12 (See FIG. 2). The controller 58 is powered, for example, by a battery 64, and a voltage controller (not shown), may further control the supply voltage. A power port 77 can be arranged on the body 12 of the golf swing trainer 10, and can be used to connect a battery charger or an external power supply, to provide power to the trainer 10.

The golf swing trainer 10 also includes a number of input devices in the form of buttons and switches 52, 54, 60, 62, 70, 80 and 90, display device 50, and indicators 72, 82, and 92, at least some of them interconnected to the controller 58. Buttons 52, 54, 60 and 62 can be push buttons. In the variant shown, the push buttons are made of plastic or rubber material. They are sufficient in size and preferably at least a portion of the push button elements sticks out of the upper surface of the body member 12, so that they can be easily pushed by a golf club 110. These buttons can be used for selecting functions, parameters or settings that may be varied by the golf player, hereinafter called the user, when using the golf swing trainer. In addition to the push buttons, switch buttons 70, 80, and 90 are arranged on the upper surface 19 of the body 12. Switch 70 is configured to turn the trainer 10 on and off, and switches 80 and 90 can set different types of parameters regarding the type of swing that is chosen to be practiced by the user. An upper surface of the switch buttons 70, 80 and 90 may be arranged at the same height or lower with respect to the upper surface 19 of the body 12, so that a golf club that is erroneously swung by a user cannot inadvertently touch the switches and thereby change the settings or turn the device off. Light emitting elements 72, 82 and 92 can show the status of the golf swing trainer 10. Information 94 as to the function associated with a button, switch, display or light emitting element can be printed on the upper surface of the body 12, or can be glued as labels onto the upper surface 19 of the body 12.

A laser pointing device 40 can be optionally arranged on either end of the longitudinal body 12, or on both ends. In the variant shown, one laser pointing device 40 is arranged on the left side for right-hand users. The laser pointing device 40 can be used as a guide to align the golf swing trainer 10 with the target direction of the golf swing, and is arranged to project a laser light beam in the direction of a longitudinal axis of the body member 12. For left and right hitters, it is desirable that a laser 40 is arranged on both ends of the trainer 10, and optionally the lasers 10 can be switched on and off by an additional switch. The output power of the laser pointing device 40 is preferentially limited to 5 mW, to meet the legal requirements of the FDA.

The basic principle of operation of the golf swing trainer 10 is that the array of light emitting elements 20 will show a simulated movement of a simulated golf club head along the array, and a user of the actual golf club 110 has to try or attempt to match the simulated movement displayed by the array of light emitting elements 20 with the actual movement of the actual golf club head 112. In order to perform an ideal golf swing to hit a ball at a target speed or tempo, the user has to swing the golf club 110 so that the golf club head 112 accelerates and then slows down in a fashion that is reproducible by the user. Thereby substantially the same distance will be traveled by the golf ball 100. Preferably, the acceleration and slowing of the actual golf swing does not undergo sudden changes. Depending on the different styles of different users, the swing can be short or long, and the golf club head 112 has to accelerate and slow down inversely proportional to the length of the swing, if the same distance has to be traveled by the golf ball 100 regardless of a short or long swing.

In this way, it is possible for the user to propel the golf ball 100 with a speed that is reproducible to achieve a target distance. Preferably, the golf club head 112 accelerates during the front swing until the point of impact of the golf club head 112 with the ball 100, and then de-accelerates or slows down. The acceleration and de-acceleration is done in a smooth way to avoid sudden changes in speed. The trainer 10 can therefore be configured to show a simulated movement of the simulated golf club head by showing a position pattern 22 that moves along the array of light emitting elements 20 in such manner.

In particular, to display the simulated movement, one or more light emitting elements will be lit to form a light position pattern 22, and the light position pattern 22 will move along the longitudinal direction of the array 20 by sequentially turning on and off the neighboring or close light emitting elements, thereby forming a moving light pattern. The moving light pattern indicates a desired position of the actual golf club head that will move over a certain time period. The pattern 22 can move in both left and right directions. The actual swing will typically start at the center line 32, where the user will position his golf club head 112. Preferably, the simulated golf swing will be automatically shown by the trainer 10 in a regular interval, for example an interval of 5-60 seconds, and more preferably at an interval of 5-15 seconds.

To indicate to the user that a simulated golf swing with a moving light pattern on the array 20 will shortly be displayed by trainer 10, the pattern 22 will remain at the center line position 32 and can flash twice, and after the same time period between the first and second flash the pattern 22 will move along the longitudinal axis to display a golf swing by indicating the longitudinal position. This wait period between flashes may be approximately 1 second or less. Desirably, there will be a first flash of pattern 22, and after a wait period of 1 second or less, there will be a second flash of pattern 22. After a substantially identical wait period, the pattern 22 will start to move and will thereby show the simulated swing by moving along the array of light emitting elements 20. It is thereby possible that the maximal amplitude of the front swing and the back swing will be constantly displayed on the array 20, with the front and back amplitude indicators 24 and 26. After displaying the simulated swing, the light position pattern 22 will be turned off, and after a certain idle period, the light position pattern will restart to flash twice at the center line to show the next swing. During this process of displaying the moving light pattern represented by the light position pattern 22, the user can attempt to match the position of the pattern 22 with a golf club head 112 by an actual swing. The actual swing can be performed with or without a golf ball 100. In the variant shown with respect to FIG. 1 b, a right-handed putting golf swing will be displayed by moving the pattern 22′ from the center line 32 to the right, until pattern 22′ reaches the back amplitude indicator 26. The user moves the golf club head 112 to the right to attempt matching the position of the pattern 22′. The movement of the golf club head 112 during an actual swing is visualized by arrow 114.

After pattern 22′ reaches the back amplitude indicator 26, pattern 22″ moves back to the left side over the middle line 32 until it reaches the front amplitude 24 (FIG. 1 c). Similarly, the user moves the golf club head 112 to the left to attempt to follow pattern 22″ with a left swing, which is visualized with arrow 116.

The golf ball 100 should be impacted approximately when the golf club 110 passes the center line 32. The golf ball 100 moves to the right after the impact, visualized by arrow 118. The direction of movement of the golf club 110 and ball 100 is visualized with arrows 114, 116, 118 for representation purposes only, and these arrows may not physically present on the putting green or on any other surface where the trainer 10 is located. After displaying the swing, the pattern 22 will disappear or be turned off, until the next swing is shown. This type of training of the swing allows the user to focus on the actual swing by following the pattern 22, instead of focusing on the location of the golf ball 100 and the hit of the golf ball 100. The golf club head 112 in FIG. 1 is shown to practice a swing for a right-handed golfer, with the ball being hit from the right side.

The user has further the possibility to configure the type of golf swing that he wants to practice. With switch 70, the user can turn the trainer 10 on and off, and a signal light 72 can indicate the status. Exemplarily, if the light 72 is off, the trainer 10 is off; if the light 72 is blinking, the device is starting up; and if the light is on, the trainer 10 is ready to be used. In a low-cost variant, there may be no signal lights 72, 82, 92 at all. With switch 80 right-handed or left-handed golf swings can be chosen. For a left-handed golf swing, the above-described moving light pattern using position patterns 22, 22′ and 22″ will be axi-symmetric relative to the center line 32, compared to the right-handed swing. To better match the position of the pattern 22 by the user, it is possible for the golf club head 112 to be equipped with light emitting elements (not shown) that generate a matching pattern similar to pattern 22, to facilitate the optical matching of the position of the golf head 112 and the pattern 22. Such variant is preferable if the practicing is performed in low light conditions.

The user can further adapt or change the simulated golf swing type with parameters. With buttons 52 and 54, the user can decrement or increment the tempo or speed of the simulated golf swing. The selected speed of the tempo can be indicated in a display 50 by numerical values, for example varying between 1, a very slow tempo, to 20 being a high tempo. These values don't have to correspond to real speed values. With buttons 60 and 62, the length of the simulated swing can be varied. The length of the simulated swing can be displayed by the array 20 with the front and back amplitude indicators 24 and 26. Indicators 24 and 26 will move away or towards each other, if the swing length is increased or decreased, respectively. It is also possible that the period of repetition of the simulated golf swings are manually modified with buttons, for example between 5 and 60 seconds, more preferably an interval of 5-15 seconds. In a low-cost version of the trainer 10, it is possible that the period of repetition cannot be varied at all.

With the switch 90, the user can also choose between different types of simulated swings. These types can include a putting swing, chipping swing, pitching swing, and a full swing. Different types of swings will have different types of moving light patterns, including a different speed, back amplitude and front amplitude. While a putting pattern can be substantially symmetrical to the center axis 32 and is limited with front and back amplitudes, a chipping pattern may not be limited with a front or back amplitude indicator 24 and 26. Preferably, in the chipping mode, only the back swing amplitude indicator 26 will be turned on to limit the back swing to the scale 30 of the trainer 10. When the moving light pattern for the front swing is generated, the light position pattern 22 will move all the way up to the end of the array 20, indicating that the front swing amplitude 24 is out of the range of the array 20.

In the full swing/pitching mode, the trainer 10 can initiate a simulated right-hand swing by flashing the light emitting elements at the center line 32, indicating a proximate start of the swing. When the backswing starts, the light position pattern 22 moves backwards until the back swing amplitude indicator 26 is lit. At this point of the timing, the backswing ends. At the same moment, this can be indicated by the light emitting elements at the center line 32 flashing up, thereby indicating that the front swing should be initiated. The pattern 22 will start moving to the left. At the correct impact timing with the golf ball 100 the light emitting elements at the center line 32 will flash up again. Therefore the user can verify optically if he is hitting the ball 100 at the correct time. The front swing itself may or may not be displayed by the light position pattern 22. For a left-hand swing, the displaying of the swing will be axi-symmetrical to the center line 32.

Alternatively, the simulated front and back swing may exceed the scale 30 of the trainer 10, and therefore neither the front swing indicator 24 nor the back swing indicator 26 will be lit. In this variation, the pattern 22 will move to the right out of the range of the scale 30, and at the moment the golf club 110 is supposed to reach the end of the actual back swing, lights at the center line 32 of the array of light emitting elements 20 could flash up once.

The parameters on tempo, length and type of the simulated swing can be read and processed by controller 58, to generate a simulated swing with the pattern 22. For example, all or a combination of these parameters can calculate an ideal swing, or can be read from a pre-stored look-up table that is stored in a memory 69 (FIG. 2) associated with the controller 58. It is also possible that a professional golfer's successful hits for various swing lengths, tempo and swing types were previously recorded and processed to generate data for moving light patterns that are stored in the trainer 10. These patterns can be recorded to the trainer 10 at time of manufacture.

In FIG. 2, a schematic representation of the electronic circuit that is integrated into the longitudinal body 12 of the golf swing trainer 10 is presented. A controller 58, for example a microcontroller with various input/output ports, operates many peripheral electronic devices by a system bus 56. All the electronic devices requiring power are fed through power distribution lines 53 of the voltage controller 75. The voltage controller 75 may consist of multiple independent voltage controllers, and can generate different voltage levels, depending on the requirements of the electronic devices. Different voltage levels may be required for feeding the light emitting elements, the driver circuits, the controller 58, etc. For example, while most of the electronic devices may operate at 2.7V, the array of light emitting elements 20 may require a different voltage and also has to be controlled separately to avoid noise interfering with the controller 58 and other electronic devices when switching the light emitting elements 20. The voltage controller 75 can be fed by a chargeable or non-chargeable battery 64, that itself can be charged by an external charger (not shown), or can be by-passed with an external power means connected to power port 77. The power on/off switch 70 can cut the power supply to the voltage controller, thereby turning the trainer 10 off.

A driver circuit 68 allows the controller 58 to address individual light emitting elements 20 over the system bus 56, and can also include power circuitry with transistors that turn the said light emitting elements on and off. The light emitting elements 20 may be turned on and off by a buck or boost driving circuit. For displaying the tempo set by the user on a display 50, and showing the status of the trainer 10 with some light emitting elements 72, 82, and 92, these elements are coupled to a display driver 65, that itself is coupled to the system bus 56 or another bus of the system, for example an I2C bus. The display elements 50, 72, 82 and 92 can therefore be addressed by the controller 58. Status of switches 80, 90 and buttons 52, 54, 60, 62 can be transmitted by a multiplexer 76 to a register circuitry 66. The register circuitry can be connected to an interrupt line of the controller 58 (not shown) to inform the controller 58 in a rapid way on the changes of the status, for example by a user pressing the buttons 52, 54, 60, 62. The status of the buttons is stored on the register 66, and can be read, after an interrupt, by the controller 58. As an optional element, the laser 40 can be connected through a driver circuit 42 to the bus system 56, so that the controller 58 can control the laser 40. However, in a variant the controller 58 is not in communication with laser 40, and is only supplied with power from voltage controller 75. Switches (not shown) may turn the laser 40 off by interrupting the power supply line.

While the controller 58 may have internal memory for processing and temporary storage purposes, a non-volatile memory 69, for example a FLASH memory, can include an operation software or program code that is loaded into the controller 58 for operation of the trainer 10. The software or program code, when executed on the controller 58, will operate the golf swing trainer with the above described functions or steps. Such functional steps may be the displaying of the moving light patterns on the array 20, or reading the status of the buttons 52, 54, 60, 62 and switches 80, 90 to change the operation mode of the displaying, etc.

In the variant shown, pattern 22 is formed by three lights that are alit. Alternatively, the position pattern 22 can be formed by a single light that is turned on, but can also be formed by more than one light element of the array 20. It is also possible that pattern 22 is formed by a pattern of lights, for example by having a center light and two neighboring lights lit that are not adjacent to the center light. In addition, the array of light emitting elements 20 need not necessarily be made of lights that show the position pattern 22. It is also possible that a mechanical or electro-mechanical indicators or changeable patterns are used. For example, the simulated position of the simulated golf club head can be shown with a linearly translating indication needle that would take over the function of the light position pattern 22. Alternatively, and individual light of the array 20 may be replaced by an electro-mechanic device that can change position of a metal plate that is partially covered with a fluorescent or white paint that can be moved relative to a hole exposing either the fluorescent or white paint, or a dark surface.

FIG. 3 shows another embodiment of the golf swing trainer 210. In this embodiment, the display 250 not only can display the current simulated swing tempo, but includes a graphical user interface that generates graphic or textual representation with values regarding distance settings, swing modes, status of the trainer 10, etc. The display 250 can be a matrix TFT display having sufficient resolution to show settings and status information to the user. The settings and parameters can be varied by a graphical menus system generated by software code that is executed by the controller 58 or an additional display driver (not shown). Buttons 260 serve to navigate through these menus. Buttons 260 include up and down buttons 252, enter button 254, clear button 256 and escape button 258, and allow navigation to change settings, parameters and modes, and view information. In the variant shown, these buttons are operable by the golf club 310.

Instead of purely relying on optical display of the start of a simulated swing with a position pattern 222, this embodiment includes a loudspeaker 266 arranged on the upper surface of the longitudinal body 12 that can produce sequences of beeps to inform the user when to start a swing, for example by generating a count-down acoustic signal. It is also possible the controller of the trainer 10 has pre-stored speech sentences like “steady,” “go,” etc., to talk to the user to start his swing, or to indicate when to get ready, by saying: “please get ready for your next swing.” The beeps or spoken passages can be produced in combination with the flashing light pattern indicating the next swing. Alternatively, a user may configure if he wants optical, acoustical, or both signals, by changing settings in a submenu by using operating buttons 260 and the display 250.

Another feature of this embodiment is the golf club detection sensor 240 that is arranged substantially at the center line 232, facing a position of the golf club 310 when the user is ready for a swing. The club detection sensor 240 may detect the golf club 310 without contacting the club, for example by using optical or magnetic measurement principles. Such sensors may include capacitive or inductive measurement sensors. It is also possible that the golf club 310 be equipped with an active sensor element 270, mounted to the front portion of the golf club head 312 to assist the detection of the golf club 310. The element 270 can be a permanent magnet that can be detected by a magnetic sensor element in the trainer 210, for example a proximity hall effect sensor. However, since most putting and chipping golf clubs are metallic, it is also possible to realize a passive detection of the club without sensor 270.

The golf club detection sensor 240 is connected to the controller 58 of the trainer 10, and can be configured to cause an interrupt of the program executed by the controller. Since the sensor 240 can therefore detect presence or absence of the golf club, this interrupt information delivered to the controller can be used to automatically start a moving light pattern moving over array 220 when the user starts his swing.

Unlike the first embodiment, where the starting time of the simulated swing is set by the controller and where the trainer 210 is in a master mode, it is possible for the controller of this embodiment to first wait for the user to move golf club 310 in an actual swing, thereby being in a slave mode. In a variant, an optical signal with the array 220 or the display 250, or an acoustic signal can indicate a time period where the user has to get ready for a hit, and then has to place the golf club in vicinity of the golf club detection sensor 240. As soon as the controller, by using the detection sensor 240, detects presence of the club head 312, the controller waits for the user to move the golf club 310 before displaying a moving light pattern simulating a simulated swing. Alternatively, as soon as the controller detects the presence of the golf club head 112, and after a wait period for example between 1 to 5 seconds, the controller can again generate the flashing lights at the center line, or the acoustic signal to indicate a proximate start of the simulated golf swing. In a variant, also by using buttons 260 and display 250, the sensitivity of the detection sensor 240 can be set.

In the variant shown, the array of light emitting elements 220 is made of a number of round LEDs. However, it is also possible to use different types of light emitting elements, such as small light bulbs, and also it would be possible to use display technology such as backlight TFT screens, LCD screens, etc., to display a moving light pattern with a position pattern 222 along a longitudinal axis of the body 212. If display technology is used, the position pattern 222 may be a graphic display like a target symbol, arrow, etc.

An additional embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIG. 4. In this embodiment, the trainer 410 has a first and second array of light emitting elements 420 and 480, both arranged substantially in parallel with each other in close proximity along a longitudinal edge 413 of the body 412. It also includes a linear position sensor or an elongated array of sensor elements 440, arranged between the second array 480 and the longitudinal edge 413 facing the swing area of golf club 510, to facilitate detection of a golf club 510. In the variant shown, the linear position sensor 440 is configured to detect a golf club 510 along at least a portion or the entire swing area of the trainer 410, and is therefore has substantially the same longitudinal coverage of the length of arrays 420, 480. The edge 413 of the body 412 is beveled so that the linear detection sensor is oriented with an angle relative to the upper surface of the body 412, and therefore faces the front portion of the golf club head 512.

The linear position sensor 440 is configured to measure the actual position of a golf club 510, and deliver data on a position to the controller of the trainer 410. While the first array of light emitting elements 420 may be used to display a moving light pattern simulating a simulated golf swing that has to be matched by the user during an actual swing, the second array of light emitting elements 480 may be used to display the measured position of the golf club 510 in real time, for example with a light pattern 482. Light pattern 482 may be made of one or more adjacent light emitting elements that are alit. When a user tries to match the movement of a light position pattern 422 moving along the array 420, his golf club position during the actual swing will be represented with pattern 482 on second array 480, and therefore can be better compared visually to the position of pattern 422. It is possible that first and second arrays 420 and 480 use different colors of light emitting elements. In a variant, the displaying of measured position, and the displaying of the simulated swing are shown only on one elongated array of light emitting elements, as shown in the embodiments with respect to FIGS. 1 and 3. Such embodiment could save costs of an additional array of light emitting elements.

In addition, the trainer 410 with the linear position sensor 440 can also include a function to measure and save golf swings that were performed by a user. For example, if an experienced golfer, such as a golf teacher or a professional, wants to save his own swing so that he or someone else can try to match it, the linear position sensor 440 can capture the swing. The captured swing can be processed by the controller of the trainer 410, and stored for further usage in the memory. Processing of the measured swing by the controller can include the detection of start and end point of the swing, filtering functions to eliminate noise and glitches from the measured swing, etc. Special menu functions can be shown on the display 450 with the graphical user interface to capture and save the swing.

The embodiment of FIG. 4 also includes a sensor 460 for a remote control unit 490, preferably an infrared remote control sensor. Instead of having numerous buttons on the upper surface of the body 412, a remote control unit 490 can include such buttons 492, and can send signals by an emitter 494 to the golf swing trainer 410. All control signals, settings and parameters can be sent to the trainer 410, so that the user does not have to bend down to the trainer 410, nor does he have to operate the trainer 410 with the golf club 510. In the variant shown, no buttons or switches other than the power switch 470 is arranged on the trainer 410, thereby facilitating the mechanical design of the trainer 410. The power switch 470 is associated with an indicator 472. Such embodiment may be preferred if the design of the trainer 410 has to be waterproof, for example for outdoor usage in rainy weather.

In addition, the trainer 410 includes a graphical display 450 that can represent a graphical user interface 455 with menus and other graphical representation of information. The display 450 is arranged in the middle of the trainer 410 centered to the line 435, and may be connected to a graphics processor (not shown) that is also connected to the controller of the golf swing trainer 410. It is therefore possible that the display 450 shows all kinds of graphs of measured and preprogrammed data for the user's information. For example, as shown in FIG. 5 a, the graphical user interface 610 shows a menu or submenu where different setting can be modified with graphically represented sliders 612 and buttons 614. Text blocks for the sliders 612 and buttons 614 will label them respective functions and information. In the variant shown, the sliders 612 can modify tempo, offset and length of the swing. Other parameters can also be set, for example conditions of the putting green or pitching grass, environmental conditions with humidity, rain, etc. The sliders 612 can be activated by navigating through menus by the remote control 490.

As shown in FIG. 5 b, graphical user interface 620 can represent the results of a golf strike after the user has performed the strike. In the variant shown, the relative speed is represented. For this purpose, the timely evolution of the strike was measured by linear position sensor 440. The controller calculated the difference between the desired speed of the golf club head at a certain position, and the measured speed at the same position along the linear position sensor 440. The resulting graph 622 can be displayed in a Cartesian coordinate system, with the x-axis showing the position of the golf club and in the y-axis the calculated speed difference. The user can thereby see at which positions he was moving too fast or too slow relative to the ideal swing that corresponds to the x-axis. The x-axis labeling thereby corresponds to the scale 430 printed on the trainer 410. Alternatively, display 450 may be as long as the width of the first and second arrays 420, 480, and the linear position sensor 440, and thereby the display 450 can show the graphs that represent the real positions of the swing along the x-axis.

The user can operate the trainer 410 to show other types of graphs on the display 450. In FIG. 5 c, absolute speed is represented in a Cartesian coordinate system, showing a graph 632 with an ideal, pre-programmed golf club swing, and a graph 634 with the measured swing. The absolute speeds are shown relative to the position of the golf club on the x-axis. The graphics processor may also rescale the graphs 632, 634 depending on the settings of the length settings of the swing, and therefore a rescaled graph along the x-axis may be shown on the display 450. Alternatively, it is possible to show average values of multiple measured swings, and display statistical data by analyzing two or more swings that have been measured. Statistical data of trends can be represented graphically on the display 450. Alternatively, a captured and saved swing from a user or swings that are pre-stored in the memory can be visualized with the graphical user interface 455.

FIG. 5 d shows another screen shot 640 of a menu page of the graphical user interface 455 of the display 450. On this page, the user can choose different types of ideal golf swings, for example by choosing swing types from professional golfers 643 that have been previously recorded in the trainer 710. Once the user has chosen his preferred golf athlete, the user can start practicing the professional golfer's swing.

In addition, trainer 410 also includes a microphone 465. The microphone is preferentially arranged close to the center of the longitudinal body 412, in proximity to the center line 435, and close to the lower border that faces the golf swing area. The microphone 465 is coupled to the controller of the trainer, and the acoustic signals of the microphone 465 can be processed by the controller or by a co-processor aiding the controller to gather this information. The controller or co-processor may have instruction code performing an algorithm that can detect the signal of the golf club 510 hitting the golf ball 400 from the acoustic information of the microphone 465 and therefore can gain additional data on the user's swing other than the golf club position.

A yet another embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIG. 9. In this embodiment, generic menu buttons 552 and 554 collectively labeled as “Menu” are provided on trainer 500. Menu buttons 552 and 554 allow the user to selectively cycle through the various functions provided by the trainer. By way of example only, menu button 554 may be configured to cycle through the list of functions provided by trainer 500 in one direction, whereas menu button 552 may be configured to cycle through the list of functions in the reverse direction. Alternatively, a single menu button 552 may be provided in a low cost version of the trainer to selectively cycle through the various functions provided by trainer 500 in a single direction only. A user can repeatedly press menu button 552 or 554 until the desired function, such as the tempo function or the length function, is indicated by the trainer 500. Simultaneously, the display 550 on trainer 500 can indicate the currently configured value of the selected function. At this point, the user can press button 560 or 562 to configure the selected function to a new value which is shown on display 550. For example, with the tempo function selected, the user may press button 562 labeled with the “+” symbol to increase the tempo of trainer 500 until the desired value is displayed as the currently configured value on display 550. Alternatively, the user may press button 560 labeled with the “−” symbol to decrease the tempo of the trainer 500 until the desired lower value is displayed as the currently configured value on display 550. In addition to displaying the currently configured value, display 560 may also indicate the function selected by the user through the menu buttons 552 and 554. Alternatively, the function selected by the user may be indicated to the user with a single LED (not shown) that flashes a set number of times to indicate which function has been selected. Still another way of indicating which function has been selected includes lighting or flashing a single LED in a set of LEDs (not shown), where each LED of the set of LEDs corresponds to a different function and is used to indicate to the user that a particular function has been selected.

Yet another embodiment of the present invention is shown on FIG. 6. In the previous embodiments, the golf trainers were stand-alone devices not depending on any other electronic device to operate, other than the remote control 490. In this embodiment, however, instead of having a powerful- controller or graphics processor with a display 450 inside the trainer 710, as explained with reference to an earlier embodiment, a personal computer 780 (PC) may be connected with a cable 790 using a data interface. Thereby any powerful processing is performed by the computer 780, for analysis, storage or display purposes. Data between PC 780 and the trainer 710 may be exchanged, and software running on the PC 780 may manage all the data. For example measured swings can be uploaded to the computer 780 and subsequently stored and analyzed, and pre-programmed swings and swing sequences can be downloaded to the trainer 710 for configuration of the trainer. During or after the training session of the user, the data can be shown by management software that can manage one or more trainers 710. Data can be represented by a graphical user interface 770, with graphs and user functions as shown with respect to FIGS. 5 a-5 c.

Alternatively, the data connection between PC 780 and trainer 710 may also be a wireless communication, for example by using a WIFI network or Bluetooth connection. Trainer 710 can be equipped with such wireless communication interface. Multiple trainers 710 can also be connected with cables or wirelessly to one PC 780, acting as a server, with management software to manage multiple trainers 710. It is possible that multiple users can log in and create their golfing profiles and preferred training swings, before they start using the trainer 710. Data generated by any of the trainers 710 could subsequently be uploaded to the server and managed under their profile name, for tracking the improvement of their game. The data can further stored in a database. If a fee has to be paid to a golf club for the use of such trainers, the software may manage time and usage of the trainers 710 for billing purposes. It is thereby possible that the trainer 710 can be positioned anywhere on a putting green, and the trainer 710 can communicate the data for later analysis to a server, for example located at the golf center of the golf club.

The PC 780 can further be connected to the internet via a modem (not shown), that allows sharing data with other PCs and users, and that also allows download of other data towards the trainer 410. For example, a server can manage user accounts for individual users of the trainer 410, and a user can access the accounts online to visualize the improvement of his game, follow statistics of the performed swings, etc. It is also possible that new firmware and other data such as special golf swings can be downloaded from a server and installed or stored into the trainer. If the trainers 410 are connected to the internet, they can be remotely diagnosed and updated with new firmware by maintenance software that runs on a server.

Still another embodiment of the present invention is shown with respect to FIG. 7. The trainer 810 is shown in a direction parallel to a putting green 920, perpendicular to a front side wall 818 of the trainer body 812, when the trainer 810 is placed on the putting green 920. Instead of having a ruler-like flat shape, as shown with reference to FIGS. 1, 3 and 4, the body 812 has an arc-like shape, where the upper surface 819 of the body 812 is curved to a radius that substantially corresponds to a radius of a golf swing of a potential user. This body shape is preferable if swings with longer amplitude have to be practiced, for example swings exceeding amplitudes of 25 inches, such as long puts or chipping swings. The radius can be designed to match a plurality of golfer sizes, and will depend on the golfer's swing style and his body height.

It is therefore possible that the trainer 810 is sold with a range of different swing radii for different types of heights of the users. For many golfers, the pivotal axis of the golf swing is at the height of the shoulders, and therefore the trainers could be manufactured to match a range of different shoulder heights. In addition, trainer 810 is shown with spikes 816 that are arranged on the lower surface of the body 812, so that the trainer can be stuck at a safe position into the green 920. Alternatively, the upper surface 819 of the body 812 may have a substantially flat portion in a center area where the golf club 910 and the golf ball 800 is shown, and can have upwardly bent portions at the extremities of the body 812. In the embodiments shown, the front side wall 818 is flat; however, it is also possible that the front side wall 818 has a curved shape, curved towards the position of the user, or being curved towards the pivotal point of his swing, such as his shoulders. The array of light emitting elements could also be arranged in such curved arrangement, and also need not to be on the upper surface 819 of the trainer 810, but can alternatively be arranged along an upper edge of the side wall 818, or on a beveled edge between the front side wall 818 and the upper surface 819.

Yet another embodiment of the present invention is shown with respect to FIG. 8. In this embodiment, the distance 1042 that the ball 1000 will travel after a hit by a user can be measured by a measurement system 1050, and the distance can subsequently be transmitted to the trainer 1010. The trainer 1010 can compare the measured distance 1042 with a stored, desired distance, or the measurement system 1050 can also measure a desired distance 1044 of the golf ball hit, and transmit data of the desired distance to the trainer 1010. The desired distance can be visually marked on the training putting green 1080 by a marker line 1040 easy detectable by system 1050, and also being visible to a user. Preferably, the desired distance 1044 where the ball 1000 is supposed to stop is a little longer than the distance to hole 1030, in the range of 10-15 inches. The desired distance can also simply be calculated by the measurement system by the detection of the location of the hole 1030.

The result of the comparison between measured distance 1042 and desired distance 1044 can be used by the trainer 1010 to adapt the simulated swing in tempo and amplitude, to correct the difference or error between desired and measured distance 1044, 1042, respectively. The trainer 1010 can also measure the user's swing with a linear detection sensor arranged in the trainer 1010, to thereby take the measured swing into account. Based on the measurement of the distances 1042, 1044, and alternatively the performed swing, the trainer 1010 can propose a faster or slower tempo and longer or shorter amplitude of the swing. If the performed swing is far of a certain tolerance of the simulated swing, the trainer 1010 can inform the user by an acoustic or optic signal. Since the distance 1042 of the golf ball 1000 is measured and fed-back to the user of the trainer, this operation mode could be called closed-loop mode.

In the variant shown, the measurement system 1050 is an optical measurement system including a camera and a vision processor (not shown) having optics 1060 configured to substantially cover the training putting green 1080, and also to avoid the user obstructing the golf ball 1000, line 1040, and trainer 1010 from the camera. The field of view 1065 of the optics 1060 can at least capture images covering the ball 1000, and the marker line 1040. The camera may be coupled to a vision processor that can perform image processing such as object detection, pattern matching and calibration of the field of view to detect the relative distances 1042, 1044 from the starting point of the golf ball 1000.

To detect the starting point of ball 1000, the vision system can either assume a fixed starting point, or a starting point that is manually set by the user and communicated to the trainer 1010 or the vision processor, or can detect the trainer 1010 optically based on visible markers 1070 that are located on the trainer. Alternatively, the optical measurement system can detect the starting position of the ball 1000 itself. Pattern matching algorithms and other image processing algorithms can be used to detect markers 1070 or ball 1000, to calculate the center line 1032, or the starting point of the ball 1000, respectively.

The marker line 1040 showing the target distance 1044 can be for example made of a bright-colored or fluorescent tape, having a color that substantially differs from the surface of the training putting green 1080. The golf ball 1000 as well as markers 1070 are preferably made of a color or patterns that are easily identifiable by the optical measurement system. The optical measurement system can also easily detect the orientation of the trainer 1010, and the two markers 1070 arranged on opposing ends of the longitudinal body of the trainer 1010 facilitate such detection. The vision processor can therefore also calculate the deviation of the golf hit from the axis of the longitudinal body of the trainer.

When operating the trainer 1010 with the measurement system 1050, the user can position the ball 1000 close to the center line 1032 of the trainer 1010. The measurement system will detect the position of the center line 1032 or the golf ball 1000, and will send this information to the trainer 1010. This may be indicated to the user by a light signal or an acoustic signal, and will then show the blinking sequence to indicate the initiation of a golf hit, for example after a certain wait period. The user thereby has time to prepare for the golf swing. The user then attempts to match the moving pattern of the trainer 1010, and hits the golf ball 1000. During the time of initiating the golf swing the measurement system 1050 can be idle.

The measurement system 1050 can either wait a preprogrammed period, but can also detect and track the movement of the ball 1000, and as soon as the ball is not moving, detect the position 1042 of the ball and then forward the position to the trainer 1010. The measurement system 1050 can also calculated the distance between the starting point of the golf ball and the line 1040, and also send this information to the trainer. The trainer 1010 perform an algorithm to correct the simulated golf swing based on the measurements of system 1050, for example by using a PI control algorithm for correcting the error.

The vision processor can be integrated into the trainer 1010, can be part of the camera, or can be an external computer system such as a PC that also includes other functionalities to manage the golf swing training, as described with reference to FIG. 6. In a simplified version of the measurement system, a camera is arranged above the hole 1030 and will only cover a field of view around the hole 1030. The measurement system will simply measure the distance of the ball 1000 towards to hole 1030 and send this information to the trainer 1010 for further processing to adapt the simulated golf swing. It is also possible that other systems are used to detect the position of the ball, for example by using radar effects, electronic tags inside the ball, etc., instead of using an optical detection system.

The invention herein as described includes various features that were presented with reference to particular embodiments. The features of one embodiment are not limited to that particular embodiment. Features may be interchangeable with other embodiments, as one with ordinary skill in the art will understand and appreciate. For example, the loudspeaker 266 and the associated features of the embodiment shown with respect to FIG. 3 may also be part of the features of all other embodiments shown. Of course, this rationale is not only limited to the feature of the loudspeaker 266, but applies to many other features described in this invention.

Although the invention herein has been described with reference to particular embodiments, it is to be understood that these embodiments are merely illustrative of the principles and applications of the present invention. It is therefore to be understood that numerous modifications may be made to the illustrative embodiments and that other arrangements may be devised without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7631437 *Sep 12, 2007Dec 15, 2009Sanderson Dylan LElectronic ruler
US8747244Feb 8, 2012Jun 10, 2014Gary Mitchell BolenPutt break visualization instrument and method of use thereof
US8968113Nov 20, 2013Mar 3, 2015John R SpelmanGolf putting trainer device
US20090062027 *Jun 25, 2008Mar 5, 2009Bridgestone Sports Co., LtdGolf club shaft simulation method
US20140100047 *May 28, 2013Apr 10, 2014Jae Yeon NohPendulum type golf putting practice device
WO2013119707A1 *Feb 6, 2013Aug 15, 2013Bolen GaryPutt break visualization instrument and method of use thereof
Classifications
U.S. Classification473/222, 473/409, 473/220, 473/223
International ClassificationA63B69/36
Cooperative ClassificationA63B2220/89, A63B69/3623, A63B2220/805, A63B2071/0625, A63B2220/808, A63B69/3614, A63B71/0686, A63B69/3676, A63B69/3632, A63B69/3641, A63B2209/08, A63B2071/0694
European ClassificationA63B69/36P, A63B69/36C2