US 20110092260 A1
A multifunctional self-contained golf club that wirelessly integrates actual golf equipment with a computer providing critical feedback to improve all aspects of a player's golf game and also allows players to play an actual competitive real or visually simulated golf game with one or more players. Therefore, an individual player may opt to play solo or practice to improve basic golfing skills and techniques. The system includes smart golf clubs, a golf ball receptacle and a golf club motion sensing device, all containing circuits with contact sensors and or motion sensors coupled with signal processing and radio frequency transmitter circuitry to wirelessly communicate game status and performance parameters to a remote receiver and computer. The computer then optionally displays important parameters of the impact of a golf ball with a golf club such as contact force, contact time, impact location, face angle, spatial orientation of a golf club in motion, and the subsequent energy, velocity, and trajectory of a golf ball. The golf club is further equipped with motion sensing devices and its motion and swing trajectory is visually simulated on the computer display. Standard golf clubs may be retrofitted with the device sensors and associated electronic circuitry to convert such clubs into “smart clubs” for use with the system. The system employs specially developed computer software to process player performance data, control game play, communicate game information to players, generate and control visual simulations, and display player performance information.
1. A computer golfing software, comprising:
(a) Internet sequential information exchange software, operating in conjunction with;
(b) Internal sequence and control operating software, controlling:
(i) software monitoring transmitted data from golf devices; and
(ii) golf image simulation and display software
2. The computer golfing software of
3. The computer golfing software of
4. The computer golfing software of
programming for connecting the software to single local player responsive software.
12. The method of
22. A system that responds to a predefined event occurring within a gaming environment, by automatically transmitting an alert or message to a person outside the gaming environment, comprising: a game server that includes a processor and a memory storing a plurality of machine instructions, said game server being included within a gaming service that establishes the gaming environment and further including a communication interface that couples the game server to a network; and wherein said processor executes the machine instructions stored in the memory, causing the processor to carry out a plurality of functions, including: detecting when a predefined event occurs within the gaming environment, wherein: the gaming environment provides a secure and limited access such that players only gain access to the gaming environment through a secure gateway wherein: the secure gateway is inaccessible by any person communicating over a network that is outside of the gaming environment; and the network is inaccessible from within the gaming environment by players participating in the gaming environment; and in response to detecting the predefined event, initiating transmission of an alert or message to a person outside the gaming environment over the network.
27. The system of
28. The system of
29. The system of
31. The system of
33. The system of
34. The system of
35. A messaging system comprising: a web server computer; and a self-contained sports system for executing a sports program for competitive sports play, the sports game system program being embodied on a storage device replaceably connectable by a user to the sports game system and comprising program instructions for both the sports competition and for a messaging service client, whereby the messaging service client is activated by connecting the storage device to the remote game system and executing the game program embodied thereon, the activated messaging service client establishing a connection between the game system and said web server computer via the Internet and sending status data from the game system to said web server computer that is indicative of the sports competition game program being executed by the sports game system, wherein said web server computer generates a session file when the local sports game system connects thereto, the session file comprising the status data sent from the local game system and status data indicative of the particular sports game programs being executed by the game systems of each of one or more buddies identified on a buddy list previously defined by the user, wherein the status data of the one or more buddies on the buddy list is accessible to the user even if the game system of the user and the game systems of the one or more buddies are executing sports programs for playing different games.
36. The system according to
39. The system according to
40. The system according to
41. The system according to
42. The system according to
43. The system according to
45. The messaging service client according to
receiving a message from another player while the player is playing the sports game; and
providing a prompt to the player that the message has been received.
49. The messaging service client according to
receiving and storing player preference data that is referenced when the messaging service client is executed.
Priority is claimed from U.S. Provisional Ser. Number 60/13,722, filed May 12, 1999 for all subject matter common hereto. That provisional application is incorporated by reference herein. This is a divisional application and the parent application for this divisional application is, 09/570,233.
A microfiche appendix including 1 microfiche with 27 frames accompanies and forms a part of this application.
This invention relates to a smart golf system coupling real sports equipment and a computer. More particularly, this invention relates to a system wherein a golf club communicates dynamic contact and movement parameters wirelessly to a personal computer and thereby, if desired, to the internet.
A number of patented golf club devices embody various ball contact or club swing sensing components. Typically, these devices display information related to a golf player's swing and accuracy in hitting a golf ball. In certain of these, the information is displayed or signaled by some of the golf club itself in the form of a small visual readout or an audible sound. One such device contains an array of mechanically depressible pins on the face of the golf club. When the ball is struck by the club, the pins are physically depressed in a pattern to inform the player of the location on the club face where contact with the ball occurred. Another device uses a light emission and reflection detection technique to provide a player's information, displayed on the club, regarding the alignment of the golf ball with the preferred location on the golf club face.
Also, numerous conventional computer golf game software packages and video games use a variety of unrealistic techniques to emulate the striking of a golf ball with a club. None of these cooperates with actual golf clubs, actual golf ball target or cup receptacles, or a swing detector that senses the actual golf stroke.
It is desirable to communicate actual player performance information, whereby more sophisticated analysis and prediction possibilities are realizable via computer technology and state-of-the-art display techniques. Further, it is also desirable to use such performance information in an expanded capacity to improve golfing techniques via corrective training and to provide interactive competitive play among numerous players locally in the same geographic area or if desired in locations remote from each other.
This invention relates to a system that interconnects real golf or other sports equipment to a computer and provides operational methods specifically designed and incorporated for golf course-type games which emphasize the use of a variety of golf shots and techniques. In a preferred embodiment the computer is coupled wirelessly to a golf club, a receptacle or a swing sensing component. Further, the invention, with components summarized below, allows one or more golfers to enter into a competition against each other. The computer and display show each participant's score via animation or graphics that preferably relate to a player's individual performance statistics. A single player may play without an opponent to practice and improve basic golfing skills using the computer and display to track performance.
The system application is unlimited. Much of this system can be used not only for local golfing competition and remote competition on the Internet, but for other sports as well. Sports implements other than golf clubs, swing detectors and receptacles can be outfitted with sensors according to this invention and used for training purposes, rehab, or for interactive internet sports competition.
The technology can be used for training, competition, and the improvement of player reflexes and coordination. With little or no modification, the technology also has applications in medicine, particularly physical therapy.
A wireless golf club is constructed to contain or alternatively, a standard golf club is modified to contain, a multiple sensor or transducer array located on the club head at the face or hitting surface. Upon impact of the head of the club with a golf ball, the impacted sensors produce detectable variances representing the magnitude and duration of the club-ball impact force and the proximate location of such contact relative to the preferred location, the “sweet spot”, on the face of the club head. The variances are electronically processed into digitally coded information and remotely transmitted by an electrical communication circuit either contained within or attached to the golf club.
The smart golf club system uses biofeedback to create an intelligent golf training and entertainment system. The smart golf club system is a diagnostic and analysis tool used to improve a player's skills by relatively instantaneous visual cues and acoustic feedback with little or no human intervention. The smart golf club system takes the generated data and displays actual images of the participants or reconstructs it into a useful visual format that can be presented in a variety of ways including 3-dimensional animation.
The smart golf club system integrated circuit or circuits can be located anywhere within the club including the head and or shaft.
The smart golf club has a means via its built in microcontroller to process, analyze, store, hitting pattern data and transmit it to the computer and or the Internet for further analysis. In playback mode the smart golf club system memorizes how many times each sensor was hit. This provides the golfer information about his or her hitting pattern. Using a computer algorithm, we can analyze and calculate a hitting pattern and having a personalized sports hitting detection system for each athlete.
A ball receptacle has an open end to receive a golf ball and contains a transducer located so as to sense the ball entering receptacle. Upon impact with the golf ball, the sensor produces a detectable variance representing impact with the ball. The variance is electronically processed into display coded information and remotely transmitted by an electrical communication circuit. In one preferred embodiment the communication circuit is contained within the receptacle. Preferably the communicate circuit for the receptacle is a radio frequency transmitter. The receptacle can either be designed for indoor use or can be a cup in an actual green with the communication circuit housed in the cup or elsewhere.
In each of the golf club device and golf ball receptacle device according to this invention, in a preferred embodiment the transducers are or include piezoactive elements. As used herein, “piezoactive” includes piezoelectric and piezoresistive components. Piezoactive components are defined as components the electrical properties of which, when the component is subjected to physical force, vary.
A golf club swing motion sensing device contains an array of uniformly distributed sensing transducers upon or proximate to the device surface. This motion sensing device may be formed as a mat, a plate, or other substantially flat surface from which a golf ball is hit. The transducers produce detectable varying characteristics such as capacitance representing the velocity, angle, and proximity of a golf club relative to the surface of the device. The variances are electronically processed into digitally coded information and remotely transmitted by an electrical communication circuit contained within or electronically connected to the device.
At each remote player site, wireless radio frequency equipment receives the digitally coded transmitted signals from the golf club, the golf ball receptacle, and the club swing motion sensing device. The signals are demodulated and processed into serial binary data suitable for communications to the computer via either serial or parallel ports. As the game progresses, the computer under the control of the golfing software, monitors and directs the flow of communications between the players via the internet and displays the game simulations and performance information.
At each remote player site, a computer under the control of the golfing software, monitors and controls the sequential play of the game and interacts with the player at the site and also competing players at the other remote sites via the internet. The software system generates the game simulations for display and tracks each player's performance as the game progresses.
The above and further features and advantages of the invention will be better understood with reference to the accompanying drawings and the following detailed description of preferred embodiment.
As shown in
The smart golf club 20 has a head 40 and a shaft 42. As shown in
In an alternative embodiment,
In a second alternative embodiment, to retrofit a standard golf club, contact sensors 46 are part of an adapter 40 attached to an ordinary club head as seen in
A golf ball contacting any sensor 46 produces a detectable variance indication the magnitude and duration of sensor-ball impact. The variance may be a change in resistance of a piezo-resistive transducer or a voltage change in the case of a piezo-electric transducer. As shown in
A radio frequency transmitting circuit 58 receives the serial digital data from the microprocessor 56 and wirelessly transmits the information via an internal antenna 60 to a receiver 26 (
The golf ball receptacle 22 has a top 62 shaped to allow entry of a golf ball, as shown in
A golf ball entering the receptacle 60 and containing the sensor pad 65, 66 or 67 produces a detectable variance indicating the ball entry event. The variance may be a change in resistance in the case of a piezo-resistive transducer (similar, but not limited to Cooper Instruments LPM 562) or a voltage change in the case of a piezo-electric transducer. As illustrated in
The ball return mechanism 68 can be simple as a back plate 80 located to be engaged by a golf ball entering the receptacle 22 and supported and biased by a spring or springs 82 to eject the ball. Other known ejection devices, similar to those used in pin ball machines and either mechanically or even electrically activated, can be used to improve the effect if desired.
The receptacle configuration is susceptible to much variation. The receptacle illustrated and described above is well suited to indoor use, on carpet for example. It is clear, however, that an actual cup, installed in an actual green, with real or synthetic grass, can be similarly equipped.
The golf club motion sensor plate 80 having a top motion plate 82 and a bottom motion plate 84 is diagrammatically shown in
Applying an energizing high frequency alternating electrical signal having a frequency in the range from 100 MHz to 200 MHz from an oscillator 87 to the golf club motion plate capacitive network 88 produces an electromagnetic field above the surface of each platelet 83 of the capacitive components of the motion sensor plate 80. Any object, including a golf club, passing near the surface of the energized motion plate will cause a perturbation of the electromagnetic field as illustrated by the sample possible pathways 90 across the plate in
The electrical signal from the comparative amplifier network 92 is applied to an analog to digital signal converter 94 (ADC) and the ADC digitized output signal is converted into a serial digital data stream by a multiplexer 96. This data identifies each platelet having had its field disturbed. The serial digital data can be input directly by wire from a multiplexer 96 to the computer 28 located at the site of the golf player and golf club motion sensor plate 80, or as in the preferred embodiment, illustrated in
The computer 28, under the control of the golf system software, will analyze the serial digital club motion signal, recognize from the transmitted signals the platelets 83 over which the club head passed and display the golf club swing motion.
At each player site, a wireless radio frequency signal receiver 26 is connected to the computer 28 by either the serial (USB) or parallel computer ports, as shown in the functional block diagram,
At each remote player site, the computer 28 (
If the competitive play mode has been selected, the program generates a player participation request and sends 134 the request to the GGC game internet server (GGC server) 34 (
The event at 133 also has the effect of indicating at 139 that it is no longer the local players turn and enables (as indicated by line 139) the serial port listener at 132 to detect an event from the remote player, again via the internet.
If the single player practice mode is selected, the internet communications sequences are disabled, other software sequential operating routines continue as above described and the players golf club stroke, ball-receptacle contact, and/or club swing motion sensor information are communicated only to the computer located at the players site and the performance information analyzed and displayer only at the local players site.
When a game is won, lose, or terminated, the golf software system generates the appropriate output signals 156 (
Using programming as contained in the accompanying microfiche appendix, one skilled in the art can readily accomplish the game programming described. Alternative programming too will be apparent from the foregoing functional description and the illustrations contained in the appended drawings
While a preferred embodiment has been described, it will be appreciated that many variations and modifications in the system, its operation, and its various components may be made without departure from the spirit and scope of invention as set forth in the appended claims.