US 3806116 A
A balancing device is described comprising a rigid platform with a plurality of recesses of different configurations formed in its underside and distributed in spaced relationship. At least one support member is selectively insertable into any of the recesses for providing a support for the platform at the region of the recess into which it is inserted. The upper side of the platform is adapted for supporting a person balancing the platform on the support member
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Malmberg et al.
[451 Apr. 23, 1974 BALANCING DEVICE  Inventors: John H. Malmberg, 445 Van Dyke,
Del Mar, Calif. 92014; Donald G. Bornell, Leone, Island of Tutuila, American Samoa, 96920 96920  Filed: Aug. 28, 1972  Appl. No.: 284,354
 U.S. Cl. 272/57 A, 272/57 .1, 272/60 R  Int. Cl...., A63g 23/00  Field of Search 272/1 R, 57 A, 57 J, 57 D,
 References Cited UNl TED STATES PATENTS 2,764,411 9/1956 Washburn, Jr 272/1 R 3,309,051 3/1967 Pina 108/156 X 543,794 7/1895 Zalikowski.. 108/156 X 2,520,810 8/1950 Ohlsson 108/156 475,980 5/1892 Holt 108/156 2,546,439 3/1951 Green 108/156 3,464,662 9/1969 Myers 248/1888 X 3,351,353 11/1967 Weitzner 272/57 D UX 117,277 7/1871 Hallowell et a1 108/156 568,380 9/1896 Theiring..- 272/57 A UX 1,597,086 8/1926 Lutz 108/156 X Primary Examiner-Richard C. Pinkham Assistant Examiner-R. T. Stouffer Attorney, Agent, or FirmFitch, Even, Tabin & Luedeka  ABSTRACT A balancing device is described comprising a rigid platform with a plurality of recesses of different configurations formed in its underside and distributed in spaced relationship. At least one support member is selectively insertable into any of the recesses for providing a support for the platform at the region of the recess into which it is inserted. The upper side of the platform is adapted for supporting a person balancing the platform on the support member 9 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures BALANCING DEVICE This invention relates to devices employed for amusement or for developing physical skills and strength and, more particularly, to a balancing device.
Many different types of devices are known for amusement or athletic purposes which require the expenditure of some degree of physical effort. Such devices include various forms of muscle-toners, reducing aids, etc. One highly successful form of such devices is the balancing device or balance board. Basically, such a device involves the use of a flat board and some type of support which provides a fulcrum upon which the board is balanced by persons standing on the board.
Although balancing devices or balancing boards of various types are known in the prior art, such devices typically have certain inherent drawbacks. Many prior art devices are relatively expensive to manufacture. In addition, prior art devices often have been suitable for only one type of exercise or use, and have not offered any degree of versatility in the manner of their use.
It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved device for amusement or physical development.
Another object of the invention is to provide an improved balancing device.
A further object of the invention is to provide a balancing device which is low in cost.
It is another object of the invention to provide a balancing device which is highly versatile in the manner in which it may be used.
Other objects of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating the use of the balancing device of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a full section view illustrating, in a combined form, various manners in which the balancing device of the invention may be used; and
FIGS. 3, 4 and 5 illustrate different configurations of the balancing device of the invention.
Very generally, the balancing device of the invention comprises a rigid platform 11 having an underside 12 with a plurality of recesses l3, l4 and 15 formed therein. The recesses are distributed in spaced relationship on the underside of the platform. At least one support member 17 is provided selectively insertable into the recesses for providing a support for the platform at the region of the one of the recesses into which it is inserted. The platform also has an upper side 19 adapted for supporting a person balancing the platform on the support member.
Referring now more particularly to the drawings, FIG. 1 illustrates a person using the balancing device of the invention. As illustrated, the balancing device comprises a platform 11 which is 'a planar or flat circular disc. This particular form is, however, not necessarily the case, as various othershapes of platforms may be utilized. The upper side of the platform may be left plain, or may be provided with a suitable substance such as a thin rubber mat to aid the persons using the device in gripping the platform with their feet.
FIG. 2 illustrates in cross section several forms of recesses and support members. The figure is a composite of several combinations of recesses and support members, and is not intended as a representation of the entire device in actual use. It may be seen that the various recesses 13 and 14 are formed in the platform by means of providing an opening or penetration passing completely through the platform. For reasons which will be subsequently explained, these recesses or penetrations may be circular as in the case of the hole 13, or may be elongated slots as in the case of the recesses 14. The recesses 14, as may be seen in the latter figures, are straight elongated slots, however, the slots 15 (FIGS. 3-5) described subsequently, are curved. The edges or corners of the recesses 13, 14 and 15 may be bevelled or rounded if desired, thus minimizing damage to the support members, described below.
The support members 17 are solid spheres comprised of wood, plastic, or other suitable material. The spheres are of a diameter to partially extend into the elongated slots 14 or the circular openings 13. When weight is placed on the upper side of the platform and the support members are placed on a hard surface indicated at 21 in FIG. 2, the platform may be balanced on a support member. The support member 17 may be moved in the elongated recesses or slots 14 as shown in the phantom positions in FIG. 2. This means that the platform may be moved on a spherical support member, with the spherical support member rolling along the slot to accommodate translational motion. Of course, in the event the spherical support member 17 is inserted into a circular recess 13, only pivotal motion of the platform with respect to the hard surface 21 is possible, with the member 17 rolling on the surface 21 as the platform tilts. An alternative form of support member is also illustrated in FIG. 2 as the support member 23. The support member 23 comprises a peg having a smaller diameter upper portion 25 for insertion into a circular recess or hole 13, and having a rounded lower portion 27 to provide the balancing contact with the hard surface 21. In the case of using the support member or peg 23, the recess or hole 13 may, as shown, be not bevelled at its lower edge, or a bevelled recess or hole may be used. The pegs may be force fit in the recesses, or may be provided with a suitable lock, not shown, such as threads, a detent or a nut. If the pegs are made to project above the platform, they may be held in place with the side of ones foot as the device is used. Thus, the platform and the support member 23, may be raised as a unit off the supporting surface 21.
Typical use of the balancing device of the invention may be made by placing a support member or sphere 17 on the floor in a circular recess 13 positioned in the center of the platform 11. One or more persons may then stand on the platform and attempt to balance the platform so that the edge of the platform does not touch the floor. The persons may attempt to rotate the platform about a vertical axis at the sametime.
A slightly easier activity may be accomplished by placing two spherical support members 17 in circular recesses 13 spaced on opposite sides of the center of the platform. In the event that the spherical support members are placed in elongated recesses 14 or curved recesses 15, various combinations of balancingactivities may be achieved. This is because the support members are able to roll along the elongated or curved recesses in response to translational motion of the platform.
Similar balancing activities may be performed by the utilization of the peg type support members 23. However, because the peg type support members come out of the recesses into which they are inserted less easily, less balancing skill is required. Thus, such support members are especially suitable for very young children.
If the peg type support members 23 are placed in holes or circular recesses disposed on a diameter and spaced equidistant from each other on opposite sides of the center of the platform, and if feet are placed on the same diameter outside the pegs, the platform may be balanced and simultaneously walked. This may be accomplished by the person using the device shifting his weight from side to side. If two or more balancing devices are used, races may be held.
Preferably, the platform is circular. A 24 inch diameter is quite satisfactory. A smaller diameter may be suitable for young children and a larger diameter may be suitable for more than one person at a time utilizing the balancing device. The materials used for the platform and support members may be of any suitable type, but preferably are durable and attractive.
The platform, as previously mentioned, may be any convenient cross section, but is preferably planar or flat. The thickness is determined by the various strength and rigidity requirements, and by the most aesthetic appearance of the device. For a 21 inch diameter disc, /1 to 1 inch thicknesses are suitable, if plywood is used. Greater or lesser thicknesses may be suitable for other types of materials, and for various diameters and patterns of recesses.
Various patterns of recesses may be utilized, depending upon the desired balancing activities. Thus, any combination of slots, holes, or curved slots may be used arranged in any desired pattern. In this manner, various types of motion or balancing patterns may be achieved. By using a single circular recess in the center of the platform, balancing may be achieved with two degrees of freedom. By placing two circular recesses equally spaced from the center along a diameter, balancing may be accomplished with one degree of freedom, as in a teeter-totter. A pair of linear recesses spaced equidistant from the center and parallel with each other may be used to provide one balance degree of freedom and one translational degree of freedom (that is, the platform may be both rocked and moved relative to the surface upon which it is being balanced). In such case, the balance axis is perpendicular to the translational degree of freedom. By using a pair of linear recesses aligned with each other, a single balanced degree of freedom is achieved with an additional translational degree of freedom which extends along the balance axis. By using curved recesses in pairs or threes at a radius from the center, a twisting motion plus balancing is achievable.
Referring now to FIG. 3, a particular pattern in the arrangement of recesses in the platform 11 may be seen. In this pattern, a circular recess 13 is positioned in the center of the platform, which is in the form of a circular disc. Circular recesses 13 are placed on opposite sides of the center spaced equidistant therefrom. A pair of elongated linear recesses 14 are placed on opposite sides of the center of the platform spaced equidistant therefrom and in parallel'relationship. A pair of elongated recesses 14 are also placed on opposite sides of the center of the platform placed equidistant therefrom and arranged in alignment with each other. Finally, two pairs of curved recesses 15 are arranged so that the recesses lie in quadrants of the disc, the curved recess in each pair being spaced equidistant from the center of the disc and being curved on a radius having a center at the center of the disc. Two spherical support members 17 are shown in use in a pair of the curved recesses 15.
Another pattern of distribution for the recesses is illustrated in FIG. 4. In this pattern, a circular recess 13 is placed at the center of the platform, and two additional pairs of circular recesses are placed in alignment along a diameter of the platform. Another pair of circu- Iar recesses 13 are arranged on a diameter normal to the diameter of the five aligned circular recesses spaced equidistant from the center of the platform. A pair of linear recesses 14 are provided spaced equidistant from the center of the platform and arranged parallel with each other. Finally, curved recesses 15 are provided in the various quadrants of the platform as was the case in the pattern illustrated in FIG. 3.
Another pattern is illustrated in FIG. 5 wherein, once again, a circular recess 13 is provided in the center of the platform. A pair of circular recesses 13 is provided with each recess being on opposite sides of the center of the platform spaced equidistant therefrom. In two opposite quadrants of the circular platform, linear recesses 14 are provided spaced equidistant from the center of the platform and parallel with each other. In the other two quadrants of the circular platform, two pairs of curved recesses 15 are provided. The curved recesses in each pair are spaced equidistant from the center of the platform and are curved on a radius having its center at the center of the platform.
Other patterns and recesses may be provided in the underside of the platform to enable the spherical support or supports to follow various patterns. In the event a thin platform is used wherein the recesses penetrate through the platform, non-penetratingrecesses in the form of grooves may be used connecting the penetrating recesses so that the balls or spherical support members may be maneuvered from one penetrating recess to another.
It may therefore be seen that the invention provides an improved balancing device which affords a very large number of different activities of a great range of difficulty. The device is very simple andof low cost construction, and yet is durable. The wide variety of activities in which the device may be employed enables use of the device to achieve body awareness, body control, muscle toning, and various psychological benefits. In developing physical fitness, leg, ankle and foot strength are improved, as well as cardiorespiratory endurance, agility, balance, coordination and suppleness. The balancing device is capable of being balanced in various degrees of freedom, spinning in various directions, may be walked forward or backward, may be rocked, may be balanced by more than one person, may be twisted, and may be used as a competition device in races.
Various modifications of the invention in addition to those shown and described herein will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the foregoing description and accompanying drawings. Such modifications are intended to fall within the scope of the appended claims.
What is claimed is:
1. A balancing device for amusement or athletic purposes comprising, a flat circular disc having a penetration in the center therof and having a plurality of pairs of further penetrations therethrough distributed in spaced relationship, said penetrations in each of said pairs being equidistant from the center of said disc on opposite sides of said central penetration, and a plurality of support members selectively insertable into said penetrations for providing a support for said disc at the region of said penetrations into which said support members are inserted and being unconnected to said disc for ready removal from said penetrations, said disc having an upper side adapted for supporting a person and allowing such person to shift their position on said disc for balancing said disc on said support members, said penetrations with said support members therein being positioned such that said disc is tiltable in accordance with the position of the person balancing said disc.
2. A balancing device according to claim 1 wherein at least some of said pairs of penetrations are elongated, and wherein at least some of said support members are spherical.
3. A balancing device for amusement or athletic purposes comprising a rigid planar platform having a plurality of spaced recesses formed in its underside, at least some of said recesses being located on opposite sides of the center of said platform, at least some of said recesses being of different configurationin the plane of said underside than others of said recesses, with at least one of said recesses being of elongated form, a plurality of support members, each support member being selectively locatable in any one of said recesses for providing a support for said platform, said support members being unconnected to said platform for ready removal from said recesses, the upper surface of said platform being adaptable for supporting a person and allowing such person to shift his position on said platform for balancing said platform on said support members, said recesses and said support members therein being posi tioned such that the platform is tiltable in accordance with the position of the person balancing said platform.
4. A balancing device in accordance with claim 3 which includes a circular recess positioned substantially in the center of said platform.
5. A balancing device in accordance with claim 4 wherein at least two of said recesses are in the shape of an elongated curve.
6. A balancing device according to claim 3 wherein said recesses are penetrations formed in said platform.
7. A balancing device in accordance with claim 3 wherein said support members are spherical.
8. A balancing device in accordance with claim 3 wherein at least one of said support members comprises a peg having a rounded end.
9. A balancing device in accordance with claim 3 wherein at least one of said recesses is straight, and wherein at least one of said recesses is the shape of an elongated curve.