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Publication numberUS20080254944 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/735,453
Publication dateOct 16, 2008
Filing dateApr 14, 2007
Priority dateApr 14, 2007
Publication number11735453, 735453, US 2008/0254944 A1, US 2008/254944 A1, US 20080254944 A1, US 20080254944A1, US 2008254944 A1, US 2008254944A1, US-A1-20080254944, US-A1-2008254944, US2008/0254944A1, US2008/254944A1, US20080254944 A1, US20080254944A1, US2008254944 A1, US2008254944A1
InventorsJohn I. Muri, Gabriella I. Muri
Original AssigneeMuri John I, Muri Gabriella I
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Monitoring of a Wearable Athletic Device
US 20080254944 A1
Abstract
An athletic system for monitoring the condition of a wearable athletic device includes the wearable athletic device, first and second input parameters, a computer readable memory, and a microprocessor. At least one of the parameters may be provided a measurement device that may also be part of the athletic system or may be separate therefrom. The first parameter comprises at least one of an event count and a travel distance, while the second parameter comprises at least one of an athletic footwear device identifier, a physical property of the athletic footwear device, a physiological condition, an environmental condition, an event rate, a velocity, and an acceleration. The computer readable memory contains instructions for calculating a condition of the athletic footwear device. The microprocessor is configured to perform the instructions in order to calculate the condition of the athletic footwear device, the calculation being based at least in part on the parameters.
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Claims(20)
1. An athletic system for monitoring the condition of athletic footwear, comprising:
an athletic footwear device;
a first parameter comprising at least one of an event count and a travel distance;
a second parameter comprising at least one of an athletic footwear device identifier, a physical property of the athletic footwear device, a physiological condition, an environmental condition, an event rate, a velocity, and an acceleration;
computer readable memory containing instructions for calculating a condition of the athletic footwear device;
a microprocessor configured to perform the instructions to calculate the condition of the athletic footwear device, the calculation based at least in part on the parameters.
2. The athletic system of claim 1, wherein the athletic footwear device comprises an athletic shoe or a pair of athletic shoes.
3. The athletic system of claim 1, wherein the athletic footwear device comprises a tennis shoe, a jogging shoe, a running shoe, a basketball shoe, a soccer shoe, a hiking boot, a climbing boot, a snow boot, a downhill ski, or a cross-country ski.
4. The athletic system of claim 1, further comprising a measurement device configured to provide a first parameter.
5. The athletic system of claim 4, wherein the measurement device comprises at least one of a counter, a pedometer, an accelerometer, an altimeter, a compass, a watch, a stopwatch, an exercise machine, a treadmill, and a GPS device.
6. The athletic system of claim 4, wherein at least one of the measurement device, the microprocessor, the instructions, the first parameter, and the second parameter is located on the athletic footwear device.
7. The athletic system of claim 4, wherein at least one of the measurement device, the microprocessor, the instructions, the first parameter, and the second parameter is located on a wearer of the athletic footwear device.
8. The athletic system of claim 4, wherein at least one of the measurement device, the microprocessor, the instructions, the first parameter, and the second parameter is located on a computer, the computer being at least one of a custom circuit, a custom electronic device, a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a notebook computer, and a mainframe computer.
9. The athletic system of claim 4, wherein at least one of measurement device, the microprocessor, the instructions, the first parameter, and the second parameter is located at a remote cite accessible via a network connection.
10. The athletic system of claim 4, further comprising a second measurement device configured to provide the second parameter, the second measurement device comprising at least one of a counter, a pedometer, an accelerometer, an altimeter, a compass, a watch, a stopwatch, an exercise machine, a treadmill, and a GPS device.
11. The athletic system of claim 1, wherein the physiological condition is that of a user of the athletic footwear device, the physiological condition comprising at least one of a heart rate, a pulse rate, a blood pressure, a respiration rate, a body temperature, an age of the user, a weight of the user, a height of the user, a length of a body part of the user, and a stride length of the user.
12. The athletic system of claim 1, wherein the environmental condition comprises at least one of an inclination, an altitude, a temperature, a surface type, a surface roughness, a surface condition, a stress in the athletic footwear device, a type of exercise machine, a weather condition, the presence of rain, the presence of snow, and the presence of ice.
13. The athletic system of claim 1, further comprising a third parameter, wherein the calculation is based at least in part on the third parameter, the third parameter comprising at least one of an athletic footwear device identifier, a physical property of the athletic footwear device, a physiological condition, an environmental condition, an event rate, a velocity, and an acceleration.
14. The athletic system of claim 1, further comprising at least one of an input device for entering at least one of the parameters and an output device for communicating the results of the calculation.
15. The athletic system of claim 14, wherein the output device comprises a video display and/or an audio device.
16. The athletic system of claim 1, wherein the condition of the athletic footwear device is at least one of an amount of usable life of the athletic footwear device, the amount of wear experience by the athletic footwear device, the amount of use time left until the athletic footwear device should be replaced, and the distance remaining before the athletic footwear device should be replaced.
17. The athletic system of claim 1, wherein the microprocessor is further configured to calculate at least one of a distance, a velocity, and an acceleration.
18. The athletic system of claim 1, wherein the athletic footwear device identifier is at least one of a model number, a brand name, a shoe size, a tread dimension, and a tread area.
19. A monitoring system for athletic footwear, comprising:
a first parameter comprising at least one of an event count and a travel distance;
a second parameter comprising at least one of an athletic footwear device identifier, a physical property of the athletic footwear device, a physiological condition, an environmental condition, an event rate, a velocity, and an acceleration;
computer readable memory containing instructions for calculating a condition of an athletic footwear device;
a microprocessor configured to perform the instructions to calculate the condition of the athletic footwear device, the calculation based at least in part on the parameters.
20. A method monitoring the condition of athletic footwear, comprising:
supplying an athletic footwear device for placement onto a user;
supplying or measuring a first parameter comprising at least one of an event count and a travel distance;
supplying or measuring a second parameter comprising at least one of an athletic footwear device identifier, a physical property of the athletic footwear device, a physiological condition, an environmental condition, an event rate, a velocity, and an acceleration;
supplying a microprocessor with instructions for calculating a condition of the athletic footwear device;
using the microprocessor to calculate the condition of the athletic footwear device, the calculation being based at least in part on the parameters.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention is generally directed to wearable athletic devices and more specifically directed to devices, systems, and method of monitoring the condition, wear, and/or remaining life of wearable athletic devices.

2. Description of the Related Art

Athletic footwear is generally designed to protect the feet of the wearer under the demands of specific types of athletic events or training regimen. For example, running shoes incorporate devices such as highly cushioned materials and/or air soles to protect the runner from excessive joint fatigue during high-speed sprinting and/or extended periods of running. The amount of protection provided by the footwear can vary depending on many factors, such as the amount of cushioning in the shoe, the type foot (pronator, supinator, neutral foot), the fit of the shoe to the foot, and running/surface conditions. The selection of the correct footwear based on these and other factors is important in avoiding unwanted injuries to the ankles, legs, and/or back.

While selection of the proper footwear is critical in preventing injuries, timely replacement of footwear as it ages has also been found to be very important. This can be especially important for the more serious runners who push their bodies and equipment to the limit, or for older runners who may be more prone to injuries and require more time to recover from such injuries when they do occur. In any event, the appropriate time for replacing older footwear may occur before obvious signs of shoe fatigue or wear are generally visible. Thus, injury may occur long before a runner realizes that it is time to look for new shoes. This problem can become particularly complicated when an individual has multiple pairs of athletic shoes and/or uses their shoes are used in varying levels of athletic demand or in a variety of environmental conditions.

In recent years, various technologies have matured to allow a person to more easily monitor their athletic performance in an automated fashion. This includes the use of various electronic devices such as pedometers or GPS devices that may be attached to the user, or even disposed on or within the user's shoe. These devices can be used to determine the velocity and/or distance traveled by a person during competitive event or exercising session. The use of such technologies is disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,771,394; 5,640,786; and 6,882,955, and U.S. Patent Application No. 2006/0283050, all of which are herein incorporated by reference.

Other information and/or aspects of athletic performance such foot position or “hang time” of the foot in the air have also been disclosed, for example, as in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,452,269 and 6,616,544, which are also herein incorporated by reference. Furthermore, current technology has also been incorporated into systems that allow the user to more easily and pleasingly track their performance during an individual athletic activity and/or over an extended period of time, for example, to track improvements in performance. Examples of such systems include U.S. Pat. No. 6,819,258 and U.S. Patent Application Nos. 2006/0283050; 2006/136173; 2007/021269, which are also herein incorporated by reference.

In light of the problems associated old or worn out athletic footwear, devices and methods are needed (e.g., similar to those used to evaluate an athlete's performance) to monitor and evaluate the condition, wear, and/or life expectancy of the athletic footwear, allowing users to be alerted to replace the footwear before the risk of injury reaches an undesirable level.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention are directed to devices and methods for monitoring and evaluating of the condition or wear of wearable athletic devices (e.g., athletic footwear such as sports shoes, athletic boots, or snow skis). In one aspect of the invention, an athletic system for monitoring and/or evaluating the condition of a wearable athletic device includes the wearable athletic device, first and second input parameters, a computer readable memory, and a microprocessor. At least one of the parameters may be provided by a measurement device that may be part of the athletic system or may be separate therefrom. The first parameter comprises at least one of an event count and a distance, while the second parameter comprises at least one of a wearable athletic devices identifier, a physical property of the wearable athletic device, a physiological condition of a user, an environmental condition, an event rate, a velocity, and an acceleration. The computer readable memory contains instructions for calculating a condition (e.g., an amount of wear or a remaining life) of the wearable athletic device. The microprocessor is configured to perform the instructions for calculating the condition of the wearable athletic device, the calculation being based at least in part on the parameters.

In another aspect of the present invention, a monitoring system for monitoring and/or evaluating the condition of a wearable athletic device, includes first and second input parameters, a computer readable memory, and a microprocessor. The first parameter comprises at least one of an event count and a distance, while the second parameter comprises at least one of a wearable athletic device identifier, a physical property of the wearable athletic device, a physiological condition, an environmental condition, an event rate, a velocity, and an acceleration. The computer readable memory contains instructions for calculating a condition of a wearable athletic device. The microprocessor is configured to perform the instructions in order to calculate the condition of the wearable athletic device, the calculation being based at least in part on the parameters.

In yet another aspect of the present invention, a method monitoring the condition of a wearable athletic device comprises supplying a wearable athletic device for placement onto a user. The method further comprises supplying or measuring a first parameter comprising at least one of an event count and a travel distance. The method additionally comprises supplying or measuring a second parameter comprising at least one of a wearable athletic device identifier, a physical property of the wearable athletic device, a physiological condition, an environmental condition, an event rate, a velocity, and an acceleration. The method also comprises supplying a microprocessor with instructions for calculating a condition of the wearable athletic device and using the microprocessor to calculate the condition of the wearable athletic device, the calculation being based at least in part on the parameters.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the present invention may be better understood from the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. Such embodiments, which are for illustrative purposes only, depict novel and non-obvious aspects of the invention. The drawings include the following figures.

FIG. 1 is a schematic of a monitoring system for determining the condition, wear, and/or remaining life of a wearable athletic device according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a representation of at least a portion of an athletic system according to an embodiment of the present invention illustrating a runner wearing a portable device in communication with a running shoe.

FIG. 3 is a front view of the portable device illustrated in FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a front view of the portable device illustrated in FIG. 2 in communication with a personal computer.

FIG. 5 is a block diagram representation of a method according to the present invention for monitoring the condition of a wearable athletic device.

FIG. 6 is a schematic of a monitoring system for determining the condition, wear, or remaining life of a plurality of wearable athletic devices.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention is generally directed to devices, systems, and methods for evaluating the performance of a wearable athletic device (e.g., athletic footwear such as athletic shoes, athletic boots, or snow skis) and/or determining or estimating the condition, wear, and/or remaining life of a wearable athletic device.

Referring to FIG. 1, in certain embodiments of the invention, an athletic system 10 for monitoring a wearable athletic device comprises a wearable athletic device 12 and a monitoring or tracking system 14 for monitoring or tracking the condition or health of the wearable athletic device 12. The wearable athletic device 12 may interact with the monitoring system 14, for example, by supplying one or more inputs into the monitoring system 14 (e.g., by supplying identity information such as a model number or serial number, or by supplying environmental or structural information of the wearable athletic device 12 such as a stress, load, impact/step count, temperature, and the like). Conversely, the monitoring system 14 may interact with the wearable athletic device 12 providing an output that results in an action being taken on the wearable athletic device 12 (e.g., resulting in the wearable athletic device 12 being replaced, reconditioned, or otherwise adjusted). In some embodiments, the only interaction between the monitoring system 14 and the wearable athletic device 12 is that the wearable athletic device 12 is replaced, reconditioned, or repaired based on an output from the monitoring system 14.

As illustrated in the FIG. 1, the monitoring system 14 comprises a first parameter 20 that is generally, but not necessarily, supplied by a first measurement device 16. The first parameter 20 is used to determine or estimate the condition, wear, and/or remaining life of the wearable athletic device 12. The monitoring system 14 further comprises a second parameter 22 that provides additional information for making the determination or estimate. Alternatively, the second parameter 22 may provide redundant information similar to that contained in the first parameter 21. The monitoring system 14 also comprises a computer readable memory 24 and a processor or microprocessor 26. The computer readable memory 24 may contain instructions 30 for determining a condition, wear, and/or remaining life of the wearable athletic device 24. The computer readable memory 24 may also contain other information used by the microprocessor 26, such as stored values for the first and/or second parameters 20, 22. The microprocessor 26 is generally configured to perform the instructions 30 so as to calculate the condition of the wearable athletic device 12, the calculation being based at least in part on the parameters 20, 22. As used herein, the term “condition” of a wearable athletic device includes the general condition of the device, an amount of wear, or a remaining life of the wearable athletic device. The term may additionally or alternatively include the amount of fatigue or deterioration experienced by the wearable athletic device. As used herein, the term “wear” generally refers gradual removal of material from a wearable athletic device and/or the deterioration in the properties or performance of a wearable athletic device or material used therein during use thereof or over a specific period of time. The “remaining life” of wearable athletic device may generally be related in an inverse manner to the “wear” of the wearable athletic device (e.g., as the amount of wear increases, the remaining life decreases).

The wearable athletic device 12 may comprise an athletic shoe (or pair of athletic shoes) or other athletic footwear, for example, a tennis shoe, a jogging shoe, a running shoe, a basketball shoe, a soccer shoe, and so forth. Alternatively, the wearable athletic device 12 may comprise a boot for outdoor sporting use, such as a hiking boot, a climbing boot, or a snow boot. In some embodiments, the wearable athletic device 12 comprises a device that is attached to the foot such as a ski, for example a downhill ski or a cross-country ski. The criteria and/or methodology for determining the condition of the wearable athletic device 12 will generally vary in accordance with the type of device it is and possibly on other parameters, for example, the amount and accuracy of information available for making a determination of the condition of the wearable athletic device 12.

The monitoring system 14 is generally configured to determine a condition of the wearable athletic device 12. The condition may comprise, but is not limited to, the amount of wear and/or deterioration experienced by the wearable athletic device 14, the remaining amount of usable life of the wearable athletic device 14, the amount of use time left until the wearable athletic device 14 should be replaced, the distance remaining before the wearable athletic device 14 should be replaced, and the like. At least a portion of one or more elements of the monitoring system 14 may be partially or entirely disposed on or inside the wearable athletic device 12. Also, at least a portion of one or more elements of the monitoring system 14 may be disposed on a personal computer, on a portable device carried by or attached to the user, and/or at a remote location that is accessible via a local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN), such as the internet or World Wide Web.

The first parameter 20 may be either an event count (e.g., a number of steps taken) or a distance traveled by the wearable athletic device 12 and/or by a user (not shown) that is wearing the wearable athletic device 12. An event may include, but is not limited to, an individual step, completion of a predetermined number of steps, completion of a cycle (or predetermined number of cycles or portion of a cycle), an electrical signal (e.g., a voltage, current, impedance, or phase), passage of a predetermined duration of time (e.g., a millisecond, second, minute, hour, or day), or an electrical signal or code indicative of a total number of steps taken, distance travel, or duration of time. The first parameter 20 may be provided in a automated manner by the measurement device 16 or may be manually provide by a user, for example, using an input device such as a keyboard, keypad, computer mouse, or a touch screen. When the first parameter 20 is a distance traveled, the distance may be the result of a direct measurement (e.g., base on the output of a GPS device) or be based on a calculation (e.g., based on the number of step taken by the user or based on a velocity, acceleration, or rate that is integrated over a time period).

The first measurement device 16 may include a counter or a pedometer for determining the number of steps taken by a wearer of the wearable athletic device 12, wherein the microprocessor 26 can correlate the number of steps to a condition of the wearable athletic device 12, either based on the number of steps alone or in conjunction with other information. Alternatively, the microprocessor 26 or another processor or microprocessor may convert steps to a distance from which the condition of the wearable athletic device 12 is calculated or estimated. In some embodiments, the first measurement device 16 is an accelerometer or strain gauge from which the number of steps or distance traveled may be determined or estimated. In other embodiments, the first measurement device is an altimeter, a compass, a watch, or a stopwatch.

In certain embodiments, the first measurement device 16 is a GPS device. In such embodiment, the distance traveled may be determined from coordinates provided by the GPS device. This information may be used directly by the microprocessor 26 to determine an amount of wear. Alternatively, the distance traveled may be converted to an estimated number of steps taken based either on a predetermined stride length or an estimated stride length, where the stride length estimate may be based on a user input or other information available to the monitoring system 14 (e.g., from an accelerometer).

In other embodiments, the first measurement device 16 is at least a portion of an exercise machine (e.g., a treadmill). For example, the exercise machine may provide the monitoring system a distance, velocity, number of steps, machine characteristic (e.g., model number or running surface hardness), pulse rate, and the like. The microprocessor 26 may then determine a condition of the wearable athletic device 12 based at least in part on this information. In some embodiments, a portion of the monitoring system 14 or the entire monitoring system 14 is incorporated into the exercise machine. In such embodiments, the monitoring system 14 may be used in combination with another monitoring system to allow the cumulative wear of the wearable athletic device 12 to be determined or estimated based on use of the wearable athletic device 12 both on and off of the exercise machine.

The second parameter 22 is generally used in conjunction with the first parameter 20 to determine a condition of the wearable athletic device 12. In certain embodiments, the second parameter 22 may be an event count or a distance traveled that may, for example, replace or supplement the first parameter 20. As such, the second parameter 22 may be used to check the accuracy of the first parameter 20, calibrate the first parameter 20, provide a redundant input value that is averaged with the value provided by the first parameter 20, or be used as an alternative to the first parameter 20. As an example of the latter, the first parameter 20 may be the output from a GPS device (e.g., when the wearable athletic device 12 traverses a distance during use) and the second parameter is the output of a exercise machine such as a treadmill, wherein the wearable athletic device 12 is stationary during use, but still experiences a certain degree of wear. Thus, the monitoring system 12 and/or a user can select either the first parameter 20 or the second parameter 22 depending on the circumstances or conditions under which the wearable athletic device 12 is used. In such embodiments, a calculated rate of wear of the wearable athletic device 12 may vary depending on whether the first parameter 20 or the second parameter 22 has been selected.

In other embodiments, the second parameter 22 may comprises information that is of a different type from that of the first parameter 20. In such embodiments, the second parameter 22 may be used in combination with the first parameter 20 to determine a condition of the wearable athletic device 12. For example, the second parameter 22 may comprise a wearable athletic device 12 identifier, a physical property of the wearable athletic device 12, a physiological condition of a wearer, an environmental condition, an event rate (e.g., step rate), a velocity and/or acceleration of a user, or the like. In certain embodiments, the second parameter 22 is a rate of wear of the wearable athletic device 12 or is proportional to an expected rate of wear of the wearable athletic device 12.

When the second parameter 22 is physiological condition, this may include a heart rate, a pulse rate, a blood pressure, a respiration rate, a body temperature, the age of the user, the weight of the user, the height of the user, the length of a body part of the user (e.g., the leg length), or the stride length of the user. For example, the rate of wear per step or unit distance may be at least partially correlated to the weight of the wearer, the model number of the wearable athletic device 12, or the condition of the surface upon which the wearable athletic device 12 is being used, and the like. In some embodiments, an increase in heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, or body temperature may be correlated with an increased rate of wear of the wearable athletic device 12.

When the second parameter 22 includes a wearable athletic device 12 identifier, the identifier may include a model number or a brand name of the wearable athletic device 12. In such cases, the rate of wear or total allowable wear of the wearable athletic device 12 may depend on the identifier information. Alternatively or additionally, the wearable athletic device 12 identifier may include such information as a shoe size, a tread dimension, a tread area, or some structural or material property of the wearable athletic device 12. In the case of a ski, the wearable athletic device identifier may include the length of the ski, the width of the ski, ski material, and/or other physical characteristics of the ski.

When the second parameter is the environmental condition, this may include such information as an inclination (e.g., of a hill), an altitude, a temperature, a surface type, a surface roughness, a surface condition, a stress in the wearable athletic device (e.g., provided by a stain gauge disposed on or within the device 12), a type of exercise machine, a weather condition, the presence or amount of rain, the presence or quality of snow, the presence or quality of ice, etc. Such environmental conditions may be used to adjust a wear calculation or rate of wear of the wearable athletic device 12. For example, a rough surface (e.g., asphalt or cement), or a high temperature or inclination, may be correlated with a higher amount of wear per step or unit distance traveled.

In certain embodiments, at least one of the parameters 20, 22 may comprise an array of inputs, for example, similar to a record item in a database structure. For instance, the first parameter 20 may be a step count or travel distance, while the second parameter 22 is an array of inputs such as a shoe identifier, a user weight, and/or a surface condition. It will be appreciated that other combinations of input parameters may be selected depending on considerations such as the desired accuracy of a wear calculation or what parameters in a particular situation are determined to have a greater impact on the wear or life of the wearable athletic device 12. In some embodiments, the elements of the array of input may change during use of the wearable athletic device 12. For example, one of the array inputs may be a velocity of a user, which in term may affect the rate of wear of the athletic wearable device 12.

The parameters 20, 22 may be automatically or semi-automatically input into the monitoring system 14. For example, the first parameter 20 may be a step count that is provided to the monitoring system 14 by a pedometer, while the second parameter 22 is an identifier code of the wearable athletic device 12 that is semi-automatically input by a user by scanning a barcode located on the wearable athletic device 12 itself or associated with the wearable athletic device 12. Alternatively, at least one of the parameters may be manually input by a user. For example, the identifier code may be manually input by typing in the code on a keypad or touch screen. In some embodiments, at least one of the parameters 20, 22 is automatically or semi-automatically input, but then manually overridden by the user. For example, the identifier may be initially scanned from a barcode, but then manually overridden when it is discovered that the identification information is incorrect. As another example, the distance input by a pedometer is converted to a distance; however, the distance is latter overridden by the user based on a priori knowledge (e.g., knowing that six times around a track is equal to 1.00 miles, while the calculated distance based on the pedometer is only 0.95 miles).

In some embodiments, the second parameter 22 may be provided by a user input 32, as illustrated by the dashed box and connected line in FIG. 1 (e.g., from a keyboard, keypad, touch screen, or audible or voice command). In other embodiments, the second parameter 22 may be provided by a second measurement device 32 (again illustrated by the dashed box and connected line in FIG. 1). The second measurement device 32 may comprise a counter, a pedometer, an accelerometer, an altimeter, a compass, a watch, a stopwatch, at least a portion of a treadmill or other exercise machine, or a GPS device. For example, when the first device 16 is a treadmill, the second device 32 may be a pedometer located in the wearable athletic device 12 or attached to the body of a wearer of the wearable athletic device 12, thereby allowing the user to use either the treadmill and/or the pedometer, either in the alternative or in combination with one another (e.g., to increase accuracy of a wear measurement). Alternatively, first measurement device 16 may be a pedometer and the second measurement device 32 may be altimeter, where the altimeter is used to determine an inclination in the terrain, which might impact the rate of wear of\the wearable athletic device 12.

In some embodiments, the first and/or second parameters 20, 22 are stored in the computer readable memory 24 for use by the microprocessor 26. Alternatively or additionally, at least one of the parameters 20, 22 is directly sent to the microprocessor 26 or to a memory location on the microprocessor 26. Such a configuration is illustrated by the dashed line between the first parameter 20 and the computer readable memory 24 and the dashed line between the second parameter 22 and the computer readable memory 24.

While the monitoring system 14 will generally comprise at least two parameters 20, 22, the monitoring system 14 may alternatively comprise only a single parameter 20. For example, the monitoring system 14 may comprise a single parameter 20 that is a count of the number of steps taken by a user while using the wearable athletic device 12. Thus, a user may be able to obtain at least an approximation of amount a wear for any pair of athletic shoes, even when no other information is available regarding the identity of the shoes, the material properties of the shoes, the environment in which the shoes are used, or the like. In some embodiments, the monitoring system 14 provides an approximate wear calculation for a wearable athletic device 12 when only a single parameter 20 is available, for example, because a second parameter 22 is temporarily or permanently unavailable (e.g., due to a sensor defect or poor signal quality). If the second parameter 22 subsequently becomes available again, the system 14 may resume making a more accurate wear calculation based on both the first and second parameters 20, 22. In such embodiments, the computer readable memory 24 may comprise instructions for use by the microprocessor 26 when only one of the first and second parameters 20, 22 is available. Under normal circumstances, the microprocessor 26 calculates a condition or wear of the wearable athletic device 12 with a first accuracy when both the first and second parameters 20, 22 are available. However, the microprocessor is also configured to estimate a condition or wear of the wearable athletic device 12 with a reduced second accuracy when only one of the first and second parameters 20, 22 is available.

The monitoring system 14 may comprise additional parameters (e.g., a third, fourth, and/or fifth parameter; not illustrated), wherein the calculation is based at least in part on the additional parameter(s). The additional parameter(s) may comprise, but is not limited to, an event count, a distance traveled, a wearable athletic device identifier, a physical property of the wearable athletic device, a physiological condition, an environmental condition, an event rate, a velocity, or an acceleration. The additional parameter(s) may be used, for example, to provide redundancy, check accuracy of the first or second parameters 20, 22, provide calibration, and/or provide additional information that is different from that provided by either the first or second parameters 20, 22.

The microprocessor 26, in conjunction with the readable computer memory 24, is used to provide a calculation or estimate of the condition of the wearable athletic device 12. For example the microprocessor 26 may be provided with instructions contained in the readable computer memory 24 for making a wear or remaining life calculation. The calculation may be used to determine the amount of wear the device 12 has experience and/or the amount useful or expected remaining life of the device 12 (e.g., in terms of a time, distance, or number of steps). The microprocessor 26 may be such as is commonly known in the art, or may comprise a custom designed chip or circuit specifically configured to provide a wear or remaining life calculation. The output from the microprocessor 26 includes information regarding the condition of the wearable athletic device 12. This output may be sent to the output device 34 and/or stored on the computer readable memory 24 or other memory device for later use. In one embodiment the output from the microprocessor includes other information (e.g., time and/or date information, temperature, environmental conditions, etc.) that is periodically stored along with the condition data to a storage device such as the computer readable memory 24. In this manner, a user or another device can later access this information to track this information and/or perform other functions (e.g., produce a graphical display or provide an analysis, such as statistical analysis).

The computer readable memory 24 may be provided by an off-the-shelf memory chip or may be custom made. In some embodiments, at least a portion of the computer readable memory 24 is physically located the same integrated circuit or chip as the microprocessor 26. For example, the instructions 30 may be located in a memory area of the microprocessor 26 and the parameters 20, 22 are stored on an external memory chip that is in communication with the microprocessor 26. In some embodiments, the output of the microprocessor 26 may be stored on the computer readable memory 24 or on a separate memory chip and subsequently sent to an output device 34 for display and/or audio notification of a user.

The output device 34 is configured to receive and relay information regarding the condition of the wearable athletic device 12 (or for allowing calculation of the condition) and other optional information (e.g., time, date, and/or environmental information) from the microprocessor 26 or other elements of the monitoring system 14. Information from the monitoring system 14 may be automatically sent to the output device 34 when a certain condition or conditions of the wearable athletic device 12 has been reached. Additionally or alternatively, information from the monitoring system 14 may be manually requested by a user and then sent to the output device 34. The output device 34 may comprise a computer monitor, an audio device, a portable audio device, a portable video device, or a combined portable audio/video device. In some embodiments, the output device 34 comprises a radio, a cell phone, an earphone, an earbud, a headset (e.g., a handsfree headset), and/or a compact disc or MP3 player. The output device 34 may be in the form of an audio signal that advises a user that the condition of the wearable athletic device 12 has reached a predetermined level and/or that it is recommended that the wearable athletic device 12 be replaced, either eminently or within a prescribed time period. The audio signal can be in the form of a verbal indication, a tone, a pitch, a series or tones, and the like. In some embodiments, a different verbal indication is provided depending on differing wear conditions of the wearable athletic device 12. For example, a change in pitch or a different verbal command may be produced, depending on the value of an estimate of the wear or remaining usable life of the wearable athletic device 12.

Input to and output from the monitoring system 14 may be provided via a wired and/or wireless connection. Similarly, communication between the various elements, components, or subsystems of the monitoring system 14 may be provided by wired and/or wireless connections therebetween. For example, the first and/or second parameters 20, 22 may be located on or inside the wearable athletic device 12 and delivered to the microprocessor 26 and/or the computer readable memory via a wireless connection, the latter components being located on a device worn by a user and/or on a portable computer (e.g., a laptop or desktop computer). Similarly, the computer readable memory 24 may be disposed inside the wearable athletic device 12 or on a portable device that is strapped to or carried by a user, whereby communication therebetween is provided by a wired and/or wireless connection. In any event, a wireless connection may comprise, but is not limited to, a wireless local area networks (WLAN), for example one based on the IEEE 802.11 specifications. A suitable WLAN includes, but is not limited to, those defined under the Bluetooth or Wi-Fi standards.

All, or nearly all, the elements of the monitoring system 14 shown in FIG. 1 may be disposed on a single device, such as a portable device that is carried or worn by a user of the athletic system 10. Alternatively, one or more of the elements of the monitoring system 14 may be distributed on different device with communications between individual elements provided using a wired or wireless connection. In some embodiments, an individual element of the monitoring system 14 may be distributed between different devices or systems. For example, the microprocessor 26 may comprise two or more processor systems (e.g., one processor system may be disposed on a portable device carried by a user for accumulating and/or storing data received by one or more measurement systems, while a second processor system disposed on a desktop or portable computer may be used to calculate the condition or wear of the wearable athletic device 12).

In certain embodiments, one or more of the elements of the monitoring system 14 (e.g., at least one of the measurement devices 16, 32, the microprocessor 26, the instructions 30, and at least one of the parameters 20, 22) is located on the wearable athletic device 12. Alternatively or additionally, at least one of these elements may be located on a user of the wearable athletic device 12. Alternatively or additionally, at least one of these elements may be located on a local computer and/or at a remote cite accessible via a network connection such as a LAN connection or an internet connection. For example, one or more of the elements of the monitoring system 14 may be associated with an address on the internet or World Wide Web.

With further reference to FIG. 2, in certain embodiments, a runner 50 utilizes an athletic system 10′ according to an embodiment of the present invention. The athletic system 10′ comprises athletic footwear 52 (which is an example of a wearable athletic device 12) and a portable device 54 that is carried by the runner 50. The athletic footwear 52 and the portable device 54 together include at least some of the elements of the monitoring system 14 schematically represented in FIG. 1. In the illustrated embodiment, the athletic footwear 52 comprises a pair of running shoes 52A and 52B, at least one of which includes a pedometer 16′ operably coupled to an antenna 56 for transmitting step or travel distance information from the pedometer 16′ to the portable device 54. The portable device 54 may include the microprocessor 26 and an antenna 60 for receiving the step information from the pedometer 16′. The microprocessor 26 may utilize the step or distance information to determine or estimate the condition of one or both of the running shoes 52A, 52B. Alternatively, the portable device 54 does not contain the microprocessor 26, but instead comprises at least a portion of the computer readable memory 24 for storing step information received from the pedometer 16′, which is later utilized by a microprocessor 26 elsewhere disposed (e.g., on a personal computer or internet site).

With further reference to FIG. 3, the portable device 54 may include a display 62 and a keypad or other input device 64 that may be used to access, configure, calibrate, and/or otherwise communicate with the monitoring system 14. It will be appreciated that the portable device 54 may also incorporate other devices, systems, and functionality. For example, the portable device 54 may include entertainment functions in the form of an audio and/or visual output. Additionally, the portable device 54 may utilize elements of the monitoring system for providing other information such as information regarding the athletic performance of the runner 50. In some embodiments, at least some of the elements and functionality of the monitoring system 14 are incorporated into a portable audio and/or video device, such as an MP3 player or compact disc player, a cell phone, a radio, an earphone, an earbud, or a headset.

In the illustrated embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the input device 64 and the display 62 may be configured to allow the user to input information into the monitoring system 14. A menu 66 may be displayed for allowing the user to input a shoe type or other information previously discussed herein. The display device 62 may also be used to display the condition of the athletic footwear 52, for example, the amount of wear or remaining life of the athletic footwear 52 (e.g., in units of hours, miles, kilometers, or steps). The portable device 54 may also provide audio or verbal indications regarding the condition of the athletic footwear 52 as described in greater detail above herein with regard to the output device 34.

With further reference to FIG. 4, the portable device 54 may be coupled to another device or system, for example, a personal computer 66. Communication may include, but is not limited to, transfer of output from the portable device 54 to the personal computer 66 (e.g., wear/condition data or calculations) or information from the personal computer 66 to the portable device 54 (e.g., for configuring or calibrating the portable device 54 or the monitoring system 14). The transfer of information from the portable device 54 may be used to display data regarding the condition or wear of the footwear 52, the performance of the runner, and the like. Communication between the portable device 54 and the personal computer 66 may be via a hardwire connection 70, such as a serial or parallel port connection (e.g., a USB port, IEEE 1394 interface, etc.). Alternatively or additionally, communication between the portable device 54 and the personal computer 66 may be made via a wireless connection (e.g., utilizing the antenna 60 of the portable device 54 and an antenna). In some embodiments, the portable device 54 or other portions of the monitoring system 14 communicate to a remote computer or site via network system such as a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN), for example, via an internet connection to a location on the World Wide Web.

Referring again to FIG. 1, in certain embodiments, the condition of the wearable athletic device 12 is the total wear on the wearable athletic device 12, and depends on the amount of time the wearable athletic device 12 is in use, the distance over which the wearable athletic device 12 device travels while worn, or the total number of steps taken while worn. In such embodiments the total wear at any given time may be compared to a predetermined upper limit and an output signal generated when the total wear exceeds the predetermined upper limit. In such events, a signal may be provided to notify a user that the wearable athletic device 12 should be replaced. The upper limit may be varied, depending of the type, brand, model, age, etc. of the wearable athletic device 12. In other embodiments, various predetermined wear levels may be selected at which different output signals are generated as the total wear exceeds each level. Alternatively or additionally, the user may manually monitor the wear of the wearable athletic device 12. The rate at which the total wear of the wearable athletic device 12 increases may be adjusted according to certain parameters that are input into the monitoring system 14 such as, but not limited to, the weight of a user or the hardness of a surface of the wearable athletic device 12 (e.g., the hardness of the sole of an athletic shoe).

In certain embodiments, a method 100 of monitoring a wearable athletic device 12 (e.g., the athletic footwear 52) comprises an operational block 110 of supplying the wearable athletic device 12 for placement onto a user. The method further comprises an operational block 120 of supplying or measuring the first parameter 20. The method also comprises an operational block 130 of supplying or measuring the second parameter 22. The method additionally comprises an operational block 140 of supplying the microprocessor 26 with instructions for determining a condition of the wearable athletic device 12. The method also comprises an operational block 150 of using the microprocessor 26 to calculate the condition of the athletic footwear device based at least in part on the parameters 20, 22.

In certain embodiments, the wear of the wearable athletic device 12 may be calculated based on the amount of use (e.g., number of steps, distance, or period of use) multiplied by a predetermined estimated wear rate at which the wearable athletic device 12 deteriorates with use. In some embodiments, the wear of the wearable athletic device 12 may be related to the product of the first parameter 20 multiplied by the second parameter 22:


w=Cp 1 p 2,  (1)

where C is a constant of proportionality, p1 is the number of steps taken with the wearable athletic device 12 and p2 is a valued based on a wearable athletic device identifier or on a physical property of the wearable athletic device 12 (e.g., the reciprocal of the hardness of the sole material of a running shoe). Alternatively, p1 may be a distance traveled by the wearable athletic device 12 or an amount of use time of the wearable athletic device 12.

In other embodiments, the wear of the wearable athletic device 12 depends on parameters that may vary during use of the wearable athletic device 12. Such parameters may include, but are not limited to, the instantaneous velocity or acceleration of the user, the inclination terrain over which the wearable athletic device 12 is used, or the type of surface over which the wearable athletic device 12 is used at a particular moment or for a particular event or exercise session. Such parameters may be accounted for by integrating the instantaneous rate of wear over a time, distance, or number of steps. This may be calculated base on a relationship such as:


w=C∫ t f 1(x 1)f 2(x 2)dt,  (2)

where w is the total integrated amount of wear, t is a number of steps taken (or a duration of time or a travel distance), f1, f2 are functions, and x1, x2 are parameters affecting the rate of wear. As a hypothetical example, the rate of wear may varying as a function of the surface hardness (e.g., f1(x1)=A+Bx 1 , where x1 is the surface roughness and A, B are constants) and as a function of velocity or a step rate (e.g., f2(x2)=C+Dx 2 2, where x2 is the instantaneous velocity and C, D are constants). In some embodiments, the instantaneous value of one of the functions f1(x1),f2(x2) may be a determined by reference to a lookup table.

Equations (1) and (2) are illustrative only and should not be interpreted as limiting the scope of the present invention. Other forms and relationships for correlating the total wear or expected remaining life of the wearable athletic device 12 are anticipated. It will also be appreciated that equations similar to those of Equations (1) and (2) may be used to calculate an expected remaining life of the wearable athletic device 12. Alternatively or additionally, the expected remaining life of the wearable athletic device 12 may be determined from a calculated wear of the wearable athletic device 12 using a wear equation such as Equations 1 and/or 2.

As previously described, the monitoring system 14 may be used to track the wear or life of a plurality of wearable athletic devices 12. In such embodiments, the values for the parameters used in a wear or remaining life calculation (e.g., in Equations 1 or 2), or the form of the equation itself, may be varied by a user or the monitoring system 14, depending on which wearable athletic device 12 of the plurality is in current use. In some embodiments, the parameters of a wear equation or remaining life equation may be manually changed by a user, for instance to see the change affects the remaining life of the wearable athletic device 12. For example, a user may change a weight parameter or an expected running condition parameter in order to determine how such a change might increase or decrease remaining life of the wearable athletic device 12.

Referring to FIG. 6, in certain embodiments, the monitoring system 14 and/or the method 100 (or similar such method) may be used to track or monitor the condition or wear of a plurality 80 of wearable athletic devices 12 (e.g., various pairs of athletic footwear 52). In such embodiments, each of the plurality 80 of wearable athletic devices 12 (labeled 12A, 12B, and 12C) may be registered with or paired to the monitoring system and each assigned an identifier or code to distinguish it from other wearable athletic devices 12 of the plurality 80. Each of the wearable athletic devices 12A-C may be manually registered with the monitoring system 14, for example, using an input device and display such as that for the portable device 54. Alternatively, a wired or wireless communication between the wearable athletic devices 12A-C may be used register at least some of the members of the plurality 80 in an automated or semi-automated manner. For example, the plurality 70 of wearable athletic devices 12 may be configured to conform to a Bluetooth standard and registered in a manner similar to that used in pairing one or more hands free headsets to a cell phone. Additionally or alternatively, one or more of the plurality 80 of wearable athletic devices 12 may comprise a readable barcode or radio frequency code that is readable by the monitoring system 14 and/or the portable device 54.

The above description of the invention and its applications as set forth herein is illustrative only and should be interpreted as limiting the scope of the invention. Variations and modifications of the embodiments disclosed herein are anticipated. Practical alternatives to the various elements of the embodiments would be understood to those of ordinary skill in the art. These and other variations and modifications of the embodiments disclosed herein may be made without departing from the scope of the invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
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Classifications
U.S. Classification482/8, 702/34
International ClassificationA63B71/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63B2220/30, A63B2225/20, A63B24/0062, A63B2220/836, A63B69/0028, A63B2071/063, A63B2230/30, A63B2225/15, A63B2220/22, A63B2230/01, A63B2220/803, A63B2225/50, A63B2230/06, A63B2220/12, A63B2220/40
European ClassificationA63B69/00J, A63B24/00G