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Numéro de publicationUS20100137105 A1
Type de publicationDemande
Numéro de demandeUS 12/325,295
Date de publication3 juin 2010
Date de dépôt1 déc. 2008
Date de priorité1 déc. 2008
Numéro de publication12325295, 325295, US 2010/0137105 A1, US 2010/137105 A1, US 20100137105 A1, US 20100137105A1, US 2010137105 A1, US 2010137105A1, US-A1-20100137105, US-A1-2010137105, US2010/0137105A1, US2010/137105A1, US20100137105 A1, US20100137105A1, US2010137105 A1, US2010137105A1
InventeursThomas McLaughlin
Cessionnaire d'origineMclaughlin Thomas
Exporter la citationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Liens externes: USPTO, Cession USPTO, Espacenet
Riding the joystick system to health and fitness
US 20100137105 A1
Résumé
An exercise device in one embodiment has a member (102) attached to a joystick control (108). A user (202) is positioned to perform push-up and squat exercises with member (102) below and against the abdomen or buttocks. Movements of user's torso down, up, forward, back, and side-to-side generate traditional control commands, including roll, pitch, and yaw. The downward motion and/or pressure by the user (202) triggers a switch (502). Control (108) collects the motion and trigger data and transmits same via an electronic link (110) to a computer (112) for processing. Hence, the user receives the benefit of a serious exercise program while playing games, thus making exercise fun.
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Revendications(33)
1. An exercise system, comprising:
a member having means for engaging a body part of an exercising user,
a hand platform having first means for functionally engaging at least one digit of a hand of said user, said hand platform having second means for communicating motion of said digit,
a joystick control having first means for providing joystick control output in the form of electrical signals and functionally coupled to said member so that movements of said member are communicated to said joystick control, said joystick control having at least one motion sensor, said joystick control having second means for receiving communication of said motion of said digit,
a circuit for communicating said output of said joystick control with a computer having a software program designed to respond to said electrical signals,
said member being attached to said joystick control so that movement of said body part of said user will urge said member to make corresponding movements which actuate said motion sensor of said joystick control,
said hand platform arranged to communicate said motion of said digit to said joystick control,
said circuit for communicating arranged to transmit said electrical signal representing said movements of said member and said motion of said digit to said computer,
whereby said user can perform body exercises while playing a game or another computer related task.
2. The exercise system of claim 1, further including said motion sensor selected from the group consisting of potentiometers, variable resistors, analog to digital converter chips, hall effect devices, and light emitting diodes.
3. The exercise system of claim 1, further including said computer, said computer having means for receiving said joystick control output.
4. The exercise system of claim 1 wherein said circuit for communicating comprises a wireless communication device selected from the group consisting of radio and infrared devices.
5. The exercise system of claim 1, further including at least one switching circuit secured at a selected location on said member and arranged to control said electrical signals to said joystick control.
6. The exercise system of claim 1, wherein said switching circuit contains a device for interrupting the flow of electrons selected from the group consisting of switches and force-sensing resistors.
7. The exercise system of claim 1 wherein said switching circuit on said member is arranged to communicate downward motion of said body part to said joystick control.
8. The exercise system of claim 1, further including at least one said switching circuit secured at a selected location on said hand platform and arranged to control said electrical signals to said joystick control.
9. The exercise system of claim 1, further including at least one height adjustment means secured at a selected location on said member and arranged to position the height of said body part of said user relative to said switching circuit.
10. The exercise system of claim 1, wherein said height adjustment means is selected from the group consisting of tubes, arms, springs, spheres, screws, rods, and stops.
11. The exercise system of claim 1, further including a height measuring assembly said height measuring assembly being secured at a selected location on said member and arranged to communicate said downward motion of said body part of said user to said joystick control.
12. The exercise system of claim 1, wherein said height adjustment means is selected from the group consisting of linear and rotary distance measurement devices.
13. The exercise system of claim 1, further including means for securing a hand of said user to said platform so that a movement of said hand urges a corresponding movement of said platform.
14. An exercise system, comprising:
a member having means for engaging a body part of an exercising user,
a joystick control having means for providing joystick control output in the form of electrical signals and functionally coupled to said member so that movements of said member are communicated to said joystick control, said joystick control having at least one motion sensor,
a circuit for communicating said output of said joystick control with a computer having a software program designed to respond to said electrical signals,
said member being attached to said joystick control so that movement of said body part of said user will urge said member to make corresponding movements which actuate said motion sensor of said joystick control,
said circuit for communicating arranged to transmit said electrical signal representing said movements of said member to said computer,
whereby said user can perform body exercises while playing a game or another computer related task.
15. The exercise system of claim 14, further including said motion sensor selected from the group consisting of potentiometers, variable resistors, analog to digital converter chips, hall effect devices, and light-emitting diodes.
16. The exercise system of claim 14, further including said computer, said computer having means for receiving said joystick control output.
17. The exercise system of claim 14, wherein said circuit for communicating comprises a wireless communication device selected from the group consisting of radio and infra-red devices.
18. The exercise system of claim 14, further including at least one switching circuit secured at a selected location on said member and arranged to control said electrical signals to said joystick control.
19. The exercise system of claim 14, wherein said switching circuit containing a device for interrupting the flow of electrons is selected from the group consisting of switches and force-sensing resistors.
20. The exercise system of claim 14, further including at least one height adjustment means secured at a selected location on said member and arranged to position the height of said body part of said user relative to said switching circuit.
21. The exercise system of claim 14, wherein said height-adjustment means is selected from the group consisting of tubes, arms, springs, spheres, screws, rods, and stops.
22. The exercise system of claim 14, further including a height measuring assembly said height measuring assembly being secured at a selected location on said member and arranged to communicate said downward motion of said body part of said user to said joystick control.
23. The exercise system of claim 14, wherein said height adjustment means is selected from the group consisting of linear and rotary distance measurement devices.
24. A method of performing exercises, comprising;
a. providing an exercise system comprising a member for engaging a body part of a user, a joystick control for transmitting command signals, a housing base for securing and stabilizing said joystick control, said member being attached to said joystick control so that motion of said body part of said user upon said member urges said joystick control to transmit said motion to a computer arranged to display movements of an object on a display corresponding to said command signals of said movements of said member, and a platform having a predetermined physical structure with means for receiving motion from at least one digit of one hand of said user, said platform having means for transmitting said motion of said digit to said joystick control,
b. situating said member below and against said body part of said user,
c. moving said body part to effect movements of said member, including down, up, left, right, forward, back, and twist left and right movements, effectively causing said control to generate trigger, roll, pitch, and yaw command signals corresponding to said movements of said body part and said member,
d. situating said digit on said platform so that activity of said digit urges said platform to transmit said electrical signals to said joystick control, effectively causing said joystick control to process said information as said command signals, and
e. transmitting the said command signals to said computer,
whereby said user can thereby interface with a computer program to effectively perform exercises while engaged in game playing and other computer related tasks.
25. The method of claim 24, further including at least one switching circuit secured at a selected location on said member and arranged to control said electrical signals to said joystick control.
29. The method of claim 24, wherein said switching circuit is arranged to control transmission of said electrical signals to said joystick control.
26. The method of claim 24, wherein said switching circuit containing a device for interrupting the flow of electrons selected from the group consisting of switches and force-sensing resistors.
27. The method of claim 24, wherein said switching circuit on said member is arranged to communicate downward motion of said body part to said joystick control.
28. The method of claim 24, wherein said switching circuit on said platform is arranged to communicate said motion of said digit to said joystick control.
29. The method of claim 24, further including at least one height adjustment means said height-adjusting means being secured at a selected location on said member and arranged to position the height of said body part of said user relative to said switching circuit.
30. The method of claim 24, wherein said height adjustment means on said member is selected from the group consisting of tubes, arms, springs, spheres, screws, rods, and stops.
31. The method of claim 24, further including a height measure assembly, said height-measure assembly being secured at a selected location to said member and arranged to communicate said downward motion of said body part of said user to said joystick control.
32. The method of claim 24, wherein said height measure assembly on said member is selected from the group consisting of linear and rotary distance measurement devices.
Description
    BACKGROUND
  • [0001]
    1. Field
  • [0002]
    This application relates to an exercise system, particularly to one which enables a user to perform exercise routines while performing another activity.
  • [0003]
    2. Prior Art
  • [0004]
    In this era of health consciousness there is an ever-growing awareness of the benefit of exercise as a key component of being and staying healthy. Within the same realm, there are weight-conscious individuals who are either trying to lose weight or stay trim. Some just want to be able to flaunt their well-built beautiful bodies at a beach, pool, etc.
  • [0005]
    Then there are those who, by some misfortune, are in need of rehabilitation. In spite of a dire need to recoup what has been lost physically, or even emotionally, the drudgery of exercise routines may delay or even forestall a full recovery.
  • [0006]
    Exercise Excuses
  • [0007]
    Many factors can play against the regiment required to achieve a real benefit in exercising. There is the boredom often associated with lifting weights, walking a treadmill, or riding an exercise bike. It may be the cost and inconvenience of traveling back and forth to a health club or being unable to maintain the needed schedule. Exercising at home may include using an exercise bike or a treadmill, but boredom may set in and dissuade one from staying with it.
  • [0008]
    Boredom Relief Options
  • [0009]
    Today, there are a number of alternatives that provide the needed relief from the boredom of intentional exercise (see Market). The computer game box industry is booming and in some cases demand even exceeds production capability. Almost every day articles and TV clips are published about new hardware and software. People from the very young to the very old are playing games on computers. But virtually no computer games provide any exercise to any part of the body except the mind and the hands. As a result, most computer gamers suffer from lack of the vigorous aerobic and strength-training exercise that the body needs to stay healthy.
  • [0010]
    Exercise
  • [0011]
    The value of exercise can hardly be overstated. Star Lawrence, in an article Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2005 for WebMD entitled “Exercise, Lose Weight With ‘Exergaming” stated, “Over half of Americans don't get enough exercise (now pegged at 30 minutes to an hour a day), and a quarter of us are total taters.” http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,144761,00.html, Jan. 18, 2005. Exergaming is a term frequently used for video games that also provide exercise.
  • [0012]
    Workout at the Office
  • [0013]
    The quest to stay healthy is not just an “at-home” thing. For example, Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic came up with the idea of a “Treadmill Desk”. He proposes slowly walk on a treadmill while working at a desk built around the treadmill. Research revealed that subjects burned 100 extra calories every hour while walking slowly at 1 mile per hour when compared to sitting in a chair . . . that's more than 50 pounds of weight loss a year, all else being equal. http://www.treadmill-desk.com, Oct. 10, 2008 and http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2005-06-07-office-fit_x.htm, Jun. 7, 2005
  • [0014]
    A post on AARP.org titled, “Energize Your Workday with Office Exercise”, recommends storing soup cans, water bottles, a resistance band, or small hand weights in one's desk or office and doing a few sets between meetings or telephone calls. The post also recommends doing some quick cardio, squeezing in a few rounds of jump rope or 10 quick push-ups or sit-ups. Readers can climb stairs during the workday and take brisk walks in or outside the building during lunch. http://www.aarp.org/health/fitness/get_motivated/a2003-08-20-officeexercise.html
  • [0015]
    Obesity
  • [0016]
    Childhood obesity is epidemic. With the advent of the Internet, social networking sites, video games, and text messaging, children have more reason than ever to stay inside and be sedentary.
  • [0017]
    Children, tweens, and teens are more at risk than ever to develop life threatening diseases and conditions as a result of how they eat and what they do or, more accurately, no longer do.
  • [0018]
    According to two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among adults aged 20 to 74 years has gone from 15% to almost 33% from 1976 to 2004. During the same period, the weight problems for children and teens aged from 2 to 19 years have more than tripled. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/trend/index.htm, April 2006
  • [0019]
    In another article “Video Games as Motivation for Exercise”, Yolanda Rankin et al. states, “ . . . stationary hours of game-play contribute to a growing obesity epidemic in America. . . . 30.4% of teenagers are overweight and 16% are obese . . . numbers indicate an urgent need to investigate alternatives that promote regular participation in physical activities”. workshopchi.pbwiki.com/f/2008CHI_yrankin.pdf, Apr. 10, 2008
  • [0020]
    Market
  • [0021]
    According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association article, “U.S. Fitness Industry: Treadmills Are #1 Attraction”, 34% of Americans exercise on a ‘frequent’ basis (100+ days a year); 10% exercise on a ‘regular’ basis (50-99 days a year); and 15% of the adult population is opposed to the concept of regular exercise. That means roughly 40% of the U.S. population is a target of opportunity for the fitness industry.
  • [0022]
    Companies have offered exercise equipment with virtual reality capability for years. With a few exceptions, such equipment failed to catch on because of its high cost and rudimentary imagery. Today, however, manufacturers are more confident. Improved computer graphics and the increasing demand for exercise alternatives are paving the way for a greater number of sales. http://www.sgma.com/press/73/U.S.-Fitness-Industry%3A-Treadmills-Are-%231-Attraction Aug. 15, 2008.
  • [0023]
    An article entitled “Nintendo set to launch Wii fit exercise game” (Reuters—May 16, 2008) states “ . . . within the fastest growing part of the exergaming market [a combination of exercise and gaming], the Nintendo Wii Fit and Wii Sport products have proven to be the runaway hits of the video-game industry, thanks to [their] easy-to-learn motion-sensing controller, simple games, and low price. US consumers bought 714,000 Wiis in April of 2008, nearly double the sales of Microsoft Corp's Xbox 360 and Sony Corp's PlayStation 3 combined. Wii Fit has sold more than two-million units in Japan since its launch late last year, and Nintendo says interest is ‘strong’ in Europe, where it went on sale last month.”
  • [0024]
    In its fourth fiscal quarter ended in March, Nintendo saw its profit jump 60 percent from a year earlier. The company is counting on Wii Fit to help drive growth this quarter. Nintendo is banking that the United States, a country whose increasingly overweight population never met an exercise craze it didn't like, will be prime territory for Wii Fit. http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN1641507620080517
  • [0025]
    As of Nov. 21, 2008 worldwide sales of the Nintendo Wii Sport were 33,601,739 within 105 weeks from introduction and Wii Fit sold 10,753,730 copies within 52 weeks. http://www.vgchartz.com/weekly.php
  • [0026]
    Pearl Research presented data on Mar. 19, 2008 that indicated that the online games market in China was up 60% in 2007. Pearl Research had also forecast that China's games market will exceed $1.3 billion in 2008. This games market will include online, packaged PC and video games. http://www.pearlresearch.com/chinareports.html
  • [0027]
    Push-Up and Leg Squat Exercise
  • [0028]
    An article in the NY Times, entitled “An Enduring Measure of Fitness: The Simple Push-Up”, by Tara Parker Pope (Mar. 11, 2008), states, “As a symbol of health and wellness, nothing surpasses the simple push-up. The push-up is the ultimate barometer of fitness. It tests the whole body, engaging muscle groups in arms, chest, abdomen, hips and legs. It requires the body to be taut like a plank with toes and palms on the floor. The act of lifting and lowering one's entire weight is taxing even for the very fit.”
  • [0029]
    Within the article, Steven G. Estes, a physical education professor and dean of the college of professional studies at Missouri Western State University states, “You are just using your own body and your body's weight . . . if you're going to demonstrate any kind of physical strength and power, that's the easiest, simplest, fastest way to do it.” http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/health/nutrition/11well.html
  • [0030]
    In a WikiHow article, “How to do a Push-up” the introduction states, “You don't need to join the Marines or the Navy to enjoy the many benefits of doing a proper push-up (sometimes referred to as a press-up). A basic push-up does not require any equipment other than your own body weight and your arms. It can be done anywhere there is a firm surface. And it works the chest, the shoulders, abs, and the triceps. So, it is an excellent exercise for general upper-body strength. It can also be varied to meet many needs.” http://www.wikihow.com/Do-a-Push-Up, Nov. 3, 2008
  • [0031]
    The A2Z of Health Beauty and Fitness site, under the heading “Chest Exercise: Push-up”, states, “Whether or not you have access to a gym facility, weight and exercise equipment, the traditional push-up is still one of the best chest-building exercises there is. The best part about them is that they can be performed just about anywhere, anytime with no equipment at all.” http://health.learninginfo.org/fitness/chest-exercise.htm
  • [0032]
    Another article, “Push-ups!” from the October 2008 issue of Your Body, states, “The push-up is a tough and unforgiving exercise and, like any great classic, never really goes out of style. Push-ups . . . use the body's own weight to build a sound fitness foundation. They promote strength, balance and stability . . . ” http://umanitoba.fitdv.com/new/articles/article.php?artid=355
  • [0033]
    In a paper, “Bodybuilding Exercises—Are Leg Squats the Most Versatile of Bodybuilding Exercises?” . . . Martin Haworth writes about leg squats being one of the easiest and quickest bodybuilding exercises. No equipment is needed to effectively maintain muscle tone and build definition in leg muscles. In addition, one can always fit leg squats into a daily schedule. http://ezinearticles.com/?Bodybuilding-Exercises-Are Leg-Squats-The-Most-Versatile-Of-Bodybuilding-Exercises?&id=647302, Jul. 16, 2007
  • [0034]
    Although there are many accolades about push-up exercise, and some about squats, insofar as I am aware, there is no adaptation of these regiments to the world of exergaming.
  • [0035]
    Patents—Push-Up Equipment
  • [0036]
    As already discussed, executing push-ups is a well-known healthful exercise for developing and maintaining a strong upper body and general cardiovascular fitness. A user faces down in a prone position and is self-supported on the knees and palms, or the toes and palms. The spacing between the hands focuses the exercise on particular muscle groups. Placing the hands close together develops the triceps region while placing the hands apart develops the shoulder region.
  • [0037]
    There have been many patents issued that relate to push-up exercises. More precisely, rotating hand grips are shown in the following patents: U.S. Pat. No. 4,768,778 to Thomas, Sep. 6, 1988 and published patent applications 2007/0184951 to James, Aug. 9, 2007 and 2008/0200318 to Hauser, et al., Aug. 21, 2008. Each device provides the means to grip a hand support rotatably connected to a base so that push-ups can be conducted and hand positions dynamically rotated during exercise, thus varying the muscle groups being strengthened.
  • [0038]
    Small and inexpensive, a pair of handgrip assemblies joined by elastic cording enhances resistance during the performance of push-ups, as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,244,998 to Hinds, Jun. 12, 2001. This device seems to make doing push-ups harder to do.
  • [0039]
    A push-up device with a pair of wood dowels that a user positions to establish hand-hold widths is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,050,926 to Purdie, Apr. 18, 2000. A device for push-ups with adjustable members is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 7,156,788 to Jackson, et al., Jan. 2, 2007 and a body-support platform to assist or resist in performing push-ups is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 7,060,014 to Bergman, et al., Jun. 13, 2006. All of these devices are quite bulky. It seems that similar results could be achieved simply by differing hand placement positions on the floor.
  • [0040]
    A device to assist exercisers that folds into a compact briefcase size is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,421,800 to Mullen, Jun. 6, 1995 and an inclined push-up platform with foot pads and hand grips is shown in published patent application 2008/0045390 to Harms, Feb. 21, 2008. These devices seem too mechanically complex to simply replace doing push-ups with one's knees on the floor.
  • [0041]
    Patents—Inverted Joystick
  • [0042]
    Before discussing an inverted joystick, it may be appropriate to establish how experts describe a regular joystick. A joystick is an input device consisting of a stick that pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction to the device it is controlling. Joysticks are often used to control video games and usually have one or more push-buttons whose state can also be read by the computer.
  • [0043]
    A popular variation of the joystick used on modern video game consoles is the analog stick, which has continuous states, i.e., it outputs an angular measurement of the movement in any direction in the plane or the space. Potentiometers are usually used to adjust the level of the analog signal as in a volume control of a radio. A joystick has been defined as, “A manual device with a moveable control lever that can be tilted in various directions to control computer, wheelchair or other target system.” www.cs.wright.edu/bie/rehabengr/AAC/glossary.htm, and, “An input device with a vertical lever moved to control pointing devices or on-screen objects.” www.jqjacobs.net/edu/cis105/concepts/CIS105_concepts4.html
  • [0044]
    The joystick has been the principal flight control in the cockpit of many aircraft, particularly military fast jets, where centre stick or side-stick location may be employed. Joysticks are also used for controlling machines such as cranes, trucks, underwater unmanned vehicles and zero turning radius lawn mowers. Miniature finger-operated joysticks have been adopted as input devices for smaller electronic equipment such as mobile phones. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joystick, Nov. 18, 2008
  • [0045]
    Additional definitions include, “A manual device with a moveable control lever that can be tilted in various directions to control computer, wheelchair or other target system.” www.cs.wright.edu/bie/rehabengr/AAC/glossary.htm, and, “An input device with a vertical lever moved to control pointing devices or on-screen objects.” www.jqjacobs.net/edu/cis105/concepts/CIS105_concepts4.html
  • [0046]
    Given these definitions, an inverted joystick is one wherein the pivot base is at the top of the embodiment and the stick is oriented in a downward direction, essentially upside-down when compared with a traditional joystick arrangement.
  • [0047]
    U.S. Pat. No. 5,252,068 to Gryder, Oct. 12, 1993 describes a large inverted joystick where the weight-shift movements of a person, suspended from a plurality of long leg members, are transformed into electrical signals. A similar device that supports the player in a tall tripod arrangement is shown in published patent application 2005/0282632 to Herbert, Dec. 22, 2005 and a device showing the player seated within a legged tripod is shown in patent U.S. Pat. No. 7,347,779 to Herbert, Mar. 25, 2008.
  • [0048]
    Although having roles as hang-glider trainers, or interesting game-playing mechanisms, the devices of these three patents seem to be much too large for general use and do not offer robust exercise as their main purpose.
  • [0049]
    Patents—Seated Embodiments
  • [0050]
    In what is described as a “recreation apparatus” U.S. Pat. No. 4,630,817 to Buckley, Dec. 23, 1986 shows a player seated on a device that becomes “ . . . a large joystick . . . used to operate a video game only through strenuous physical exertion.” This device offers exercise to the upper body region by being engaged in repositioning a vertical member with a spring, or other means of resistance.
  • [0051]
    U.S. Pat. No. 4,711,447 to Mansfield, Dec. 8, 1987 has a player seated in a similar way that seems to be even larger and more complex than U.S. Pat. No. 4,630,817 but offers a peddling feature and resistance variability. In a similar fashion, an embodiment is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,054,771 also to Mansfield Oct. 8, 1991 that uses a swing-support member with selectively provided resistance to challenge the player.
  • [0052]
    In what could be viewed as a chair positioned on top of a large joystick mechanism, U.S. Pat. No. 5,195,746 to Boyd et al., Mar. 23, 1993 enables a player to manipulate the position of the chair by exerting directional forces onto two hand grips on vertical members. In another “chair-like”arrangement U.S. Pat. No. 5,437,453 to Hineman, Aug. 1, 1995 enables a user to position a two-armed joystick apparatus, with trigger elements for output, to send output signals for playing electronic games. There is no apparent facility included for exercise beyond the tortional pressure applied to reposition the seat.
  • [0053]
    All of the seated embodiments, with the exception of Hineman's, are large, possibly quite costly, and seemingly complex mechanically. Since all provide support of a person's body weight by means of a seat, the experience of exercise is a result of the devices' internal mechanisms and not from a person having to manipulate his or her body weight as in push-up and squat exercises.
  • [0054]
    Patents—Bikes, Etc.
  • [0055]
    Popular fitness-machine activities in the U.S. include treadmills, resistance machines, stationary cycling, home gyms, and elliptical motion trainers. All of these devices are now being interfaced with computers.
  • [0056]
    More than a decade ago, U.S. Pat. No. 5,362,069 to Tipping, Nov. 8, 1994 showed a person on an exercise bicycle with joystick hand controls and resistance sensing (e.g., using heartbeat sensors) playing video games. An apparatus that measures hand-eye coordination combined with the rate of exercise is indicated for a bike rider participating in a video game is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,645,513 to Haydocy, Jul. 8, 1997.
  • [0057]
    Published patent application (Pub PA) 2003/0171190 to Rice, Sep. 11, 2003 shows an exercise apparatus controller used in combination with exercise equipment. This device has no controls responsive to the movement of handlebars to provide output signals to a microprocessor. Another exercise game machine, shown as a treadmill, tracks user's attainment of goals and displays these results on a computer screen as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,667,459, to Su, Sep. 16, 1997.
  • [0058]
    Finally, an elaborate method and apparatus is shown in Pub PA 2007/0123390 to Mathis, May 31, 2007. Mathis's device has a plurality of belts and pulleys. These have sensors to measure vibration, steering, tilt force, sound, heat, smell, and more. These are to be used as the means for interactive game inputs.
  • [0059]
    The patents mentioned under “Bikes, Etc.” above are similar to one another in the sense that they all 1) discuss being hooked up to computers and the like, 2) include internal means to provide resistance, and 3) measure exercise activities performed against those internal mechanisms. As represented, they are not portable and rely on known exercise mediums (bikes, treadmills, etc.)
  • [0060]
    Patents—Other
  • [0061]
    U.S. Pat. No. 4,448,017 to Lee, Dec. 11, 1984 has a bathroom scale-like embodiment that is a foot-operated unit using the directional tipping of one's body to communicate with video games. This device seems similar to the Wii Fit device currently in great demand (mentioned in “Market” section). Although small and possibly manufactured at a low cost, this device has neither a triggering capability nor a means to effectively exercise.
  • [0062]
    An exercise apparatus is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,489,938 to Darzinskis, Dec. 25, 1984. This device is essentially an elastic member with a handle trigger mechanism. One embodiment is used by one sitting down. Discussed as a joystick alternative, it uses the stretching of a member as the means of exercising.
  • [0063]
    A reactive control apparatus is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,660,828 to Schwab, et al. Apr. 28, 1987. A person struggles to move a long member held firmly in a vertical position by a compressed coil spring. The amount of deflection from vertical is measured and the results are used to direct a video game. Although a person's weight may be a contributing factor in the amount of deflection achieved, it is the resistance of the spring that produces the exertion.
  • [0064]
    A surfing video game is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,817,950 to Goo, Apr. 4, 1989. Goo uses a foot-activated surfboard simulator on a fulcrum to measure tilting attitudes of a person. The concept of angle measurement is similar to that of a joystick but the device has no real exercise functionality. A video game controller is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,925,189 to Braeunig, May 15, 1990. Attached like a backpack, it measures the tilt of a person's upper body. Again, this offers no component of physical exercise.
  • [0065]
    In U.S. Pat. No. 7,335,134 to LaVelle, Feb. 26, 2008 an apparatus and method uses body movement imparted by a person. Seated atop the unit, the person applies torsional forces by twisting his or her spine. Flexion forces are applied by bending side-to-side and forward and back. Sensors capture and communicate body movement to video game software. In this design a person is seated and uses resistive members to affect upper-body muscle development.
  • [0066]
    All of these patents either provide an internal resistance component or provide no meaningful means to exercise.
  • [0067]
    Patents—Isometric Joystick
  • [0068]
    A device sold under the trademark “kilowatt” by Powergrid Fitness, now InterAction Laboratories of Beltsville Md., is shown in Pub PA 2005/0130742, Jun. 16, 2005 U.S. Pat. No. 7,121,982, Oct. 17, 2006 Pub PA 2006/0260395, Nov. 23, 2006 and U.S. Pat. No. 7,331,226, Feb. 19, 2008 all to Feldman et al. This is essentially an isometric exercise device and game controller with a four-foot vertical post. The user, in a standing position, applies forces forward and back, and side-to-side to the post.
  • [0069]
    Being isometric in nature, the forces imparted to the post are measured rather than the movement of the post. The sensed force data are sent to a computer game controller for directional processing. The intent is to have the static isometric pressure that is input to the post interpreted as X and Y axis movements within the context of game-playing.
  • [0070]
    This device only corresponds to the function of a joystick in the sense that information obtained from the pressure exerted to the post is decoded as directional input. All of the exercise functionality is the result of a person's hand and arm pressure applied to the post and not to bodily movements, and thus not to post movements. Finally, this device is rather large and expensive.
  • [0071]
    A review of the literature reveals a relatively great intense interest in the development of exercise equipment and more specifically equipment that is interfaced with computers and computer game software. As discussed, this has to do with redirecting a user's interest while being engaged in an exercise routine. More important, this interest has to do with the staggering growth of the computer games industry as touched upon in the above Market section.
  • [0072]
    Generally the embodiments for integrated exercise equipment have to do with traditional machines (e.g., exercise bikes and treadmills) or totally new assemblages. Usually there is an internal means to produce physical resistance to user for the purpose of exercising. In some cases the exercise component is either lacking or missing entirely.
  • [0073]
    Advantages
  • [0074]
    The advantages of riding the joystick system in one or more embodiments of the present device are many when compared to the overall field of computer-attached exercise embodiments. Several advantages of one or more embodiments, relative to health and fitness, are:
      • 1. It has the familiar, logical, and easy to use functionality of a conventional joystick.
      • 2. No training is required to use it.
      • 3. It uses the time-tested regiment of push-ups and squats, the movement of one's body weight, as the means of exercise.
      • 4. It provides a broad range of core-body muscular development.
      • 5. It uses no weights, or resistance to accomplish exercise.
      • 6. It is simple, light in weight, and portable.
      • 7. It is inexpensive.
      • 8. It does not require any new software or development.
  • [0083]
    Further advantages of one or more embodiments will become apparent from the ensuing description and accompanying drawings.
  • SUMMARY
  • [0084]
    In accordance with one embodiment, an exerciser rides the joystick by using a traditional joystick to play a computer game. Instead of using only a hand to manipulate the joystick to effect movements of objects or players on the screen, they manipulate the joystick by moving it with large body parts or multiple body parts. Thus, they effect body exercise routines while playing a computer game.
  • DRAWINGS
  • [0085]
    In the DRAWINGS, FIGS. 1A through 2H relate to a generic embodiment, FIGS. 3 through 11B relate to a slip-tube embodiment, FIGS. 12 through 13B relate to a spherical embodiment, FIGS. 14 through 21 relate to a spring-actuator embodiment, FIGS. 22 through 30 relate to a hinged-arm embodiment, FIGS. 31A through 34 relate to a height-measure embodiment, FIGS. 35A through 36 relate to a single-arm embodiment, FIGS. 37A through 47 relate to a hand-platform embodiment, and FIGS. 48A through 51 relate to a pressure-pad embodiment.
  • [0086]
    FIG. 1A illustrates a generic embodiment with a joystick wirelessly connected to a computer.
  • [0087]
    FIG. 1B illustrates a computer with a universal serial bus dongle.
  • [0088]
    FIG. 2A illustrates a user preparing to do a push-up while atop the generic embodiment.
  • [0089]
    FIG. 2B illustrates the user in the lowered position doing a push-up while atop the generic embodiment.
  • [0090]
    FIG. 2C illustrates the user in a high-squat position while straddling the generic embodiment.
  • [0091]
    FIG. 2D illustrates the user in a low-squat position while straddling the generic embodiment.
  • [0092]
    FIG. 2E illustrates the user moving the generic embodiment forward.
  • [0093]
    FIG. 2F illustrates the user moving the generic embodiment toward the rear.
  • [0094]
    FIG. 2G illustrates the user moving the generic embodiment to the right.
  • [0095]
    FIG. 2H illustrates the user moving the generic embodiment to the left.
  • [0096]
    FIG. 3 is a representation of a slip-tube embodiment in a lowered position.
  • [0097]
    FIG. 4 is a representation of the slip-tube embodiment in a raised position.
  • [0098]
    FIG. 5A is an exploded view of the slip-tube embodiment.
  • [0099]
    FIG. 5B is an enlarged view of a height-setting part of the slip-tube embodiment.
  • [0100]
    FIG. 6A shows a side view of a height-setting part of the slip-tube embodiment.
  • [0101]
    FIG. 6B shows a diagonal view of the height-setting part of the slip-tube embodiment.
  • [0102]
    FIG. 7A is a side view of a modified joystick “stick” of the slip-tube embodiment.
  • [0103]
    FIG. 7B is a sectional view of FIG. 7A combined with an exploded view of a switch.
  • [0104]
    FIG. 8A is an isometric see-through view of FIG. 7A.
  • [0105]
    FIG. 8B is a detail view of FIG. 8A.
  • [0106]
    FIG. 9A is an exploded view of a lower section of the slip-tube embodiment.
  • [0107]
    FIG. 9B is a detail view of an actuator of the slip-tube embodiment.
  • [0108]
    FIG. 10A is an exploded view of a lower section of the slip-tube embodiment with a square structure.
  • [0109]
    FIG. 10B is a detail view of FIG. 10A.
  • [0110]
    FIG. 11A is an exploded view of a lower section of the slip-tube embodiment with a pressure-sensitive element.
  • [0111]
    FIG. 11B is a detail view of a cutout for the pressure-sensitive element of the slip-tube embodiment.
  • [0112]
    FIG. 12 is an exploded view of a spherical embodiment.
  • [0113]
    FIG. 13A is an elevational view of a smaller spherical element of the spherical embodiment.
  • [0114]
    FIG. 13B is a sectional view of the embodiment of FIG. 13A.
  • [0115]
    FIG. 13C is an elevational view of the larger spherical element for the spherical embodiment.
  • [0116]
    FIG. 14 is an exploded view of a domed pad and an actuator of a spring-actuator embodiment.
  • [0117]
    FIG. 15A shows a stackable shorter rod of the spring-actuator embodiment.
  • [0118]
    FIG. 15B shows a sectional view of FIG. 15A.
  • [0119]
    FIG. 15C shows see-through view of a stackable longer rod of the spring-actuator embodiment.
  • [0120]
    FIG. 16 is an isometric view of an extended spring-actuator embodiment.
  • [0121]
    FIG. 17A is a side view a stick designed to accept the rods of the spring-actuator embodiment.
  • [0122]
    FIG. 17B is a sectional view of FIG. 17A.
  • [0123]
    FIG. 18 is an isometric view of FIG. 16 compressed.
  • [0124]
    FIG. 19 is an isometric view of an extended spring-actuator embodiment with a pressure-sensitive strip.
  • [0125]
    FIG. 20A is a side view of a stick for the pressure sensitive strip of the spring-actuator embodiment.
  • [0126]
    FIG. 20B is a sectional view of FIG. 20A.
  • [0127]
    FIG. 21 is an isometric view of FIG. 19 compressed.
  • [0128]
    FIG. 22 is a perspective view of a hinged-arm embodiment.
  • [0129]
    FIG. 23A shows an exploded view of a stick, switch, and rod of the hinged-arm embodiment.
  • [0130]
    FIG. 23B shows an elevational view of the stick of the hinged-arm embodiment.
  • [0131]
    FIG. 23C shows a sectional view of FIG. 23B.
  • [0132]
    FIG. 24 is an isometric view of a lower bracket of the hinged-arm embodiment.
  • [0133]
    FIG. 25 illustrates an arm design of the hinged-arm embodiment.
  • [0134]
    FIG. 26 shows a spring design of the hinged-arm embodiment.
  • [0135]
    FIG. 27 is an isometric view of an upper bracket of the hinged-arm embodiment.
  • [0136]
    FIG. 28 is an exploded view of a pad and an actuator of the hinged-arm embodiment.
  • [0137]
    FIG. 29A is a perspective view of FIG. 22 in a lowered position.
  • [0138]
    FIG. 29B is a detail view of the spring positioned on a pair of arms of the hinged-arm embodiment.
  • [0139]
    FIG. 30 is an exploded view of FIG. 29A.
  • [0140]
    FIG. 31A is a perspective view of a height-measure embodiment in an upright position.
  • [0141]
    FIG. 31B is a detail view of a top-line eye of the height-measure embodiment.
  • [0142]
    FIG. 31C is an elevational view of the eye of the height-measure embodiment.
  • [0143]
    FIG. 31D is an exploded view of a pad and the eye of the height-measure embodiment.
  • [0144]
    FIG. 32 is a perspective view of FIG. 31A in a lowered position.
  • [0145]
    FIG. 33A is side view of a stick of the height-measure embodiment.
  • [0146]
    FIG. 33B is a sectional view of FIG. 33A.
  • [0147]
    FIG. 33C is a front view of FIG. 33A.
  • [0148]
    FIG. 33D is sectional view FIG. 33A.
  • [0149]
    FIG. 34 is an exploded view of the height-measure assembly of the height-measure embodiment.
  • [0150]
    FIG. 35A is a perspective view of a single-arm embodiment.
  • [0151]
    FIG. 35B is a detail view of a lower arm bracket for the single-arm embodiment.
  • [0152]
    FIG. 35C is a perspective view of the lower arm bracket of the single-arm embodiment.
  • [0153]
    FIG. 36 is an isometric view of an upper arm of FIG. 35A.
  • [0154]
    FIG. 37A is a perspective view of a right-hand support of a hand-platform embodiment.
  • [0155]
    FIG. 37B is a detail view of the finger numbering on FIG. 37A.
  • [0156]
    FIG. 38 is an exploded view of FIG. 37A.
  • [0157]
    FIG. 39A is a perspective view of a left-hand support of the hand-platform embodiment.
  • [0158]
    FIG. 39B is a detail view of the finger numbering on FIG. 39A.
  • [0159]
    FIG. 40 is a perspective view of an upper housing of the right-hand support of the hand-platform embodiment.
  • [0160]
    FIG. 41 is a perspective view of a front panel for the right-hand support of the hand-platform embodiment.
  • [0161]
    FIG. 42A is a perspective view of a base assembly for the right-hand support of the hand-platform embodiment.
  • [0162]
    FIG. 42B is a detail view of a pivot arrangement of the hand-platform embodiment.
  • [0163]
    FIG. 43 is a perspective view of a switch lever of the hand-platform embodiment.
  • [0164]
    FIGS. 44 to 47 are perspective views of features of a middle arm and an end arm of the hand-platform embodiment.
  • [0165]
    FIG. 48A is a perspective view of a left-hand controller of the pressure-pad embodiment.
  • [0166]
    FIG. 48B is a detail view of the finger numbering on FIG. 48A.
  • [0167]
    FIG. 49 is a perspective view of a left-hand joystick controller of the pressure-pad embodiment.
  • [0168]
    FIG. 50A is a perspective view of a right-hand controller of the pressure-pad embodiment.
  • [0169]
    FIG. 50B is a detail view of the finger numbering on FIG. 50A.
  • [0170]
    FIG. 51 is an exploded view of FIG. 49.
  • [0000]
    DRAWINGS - Reference Numerals
    102 Joystick Member 104 Joystick-Support Base
    106 Hand Platform 108 Joystick Control
    110 Electronic Link 112 Computer
    114 Universal Serial Bus 202 User
    Dongle
    306 Round Support Base 308 Front Indicating Fiducial
    310 Round Stick 312 Round Riser
    314 Rivet 316 Adjustment Hole
    318 Top Riser 320 Top Pad
    404 Flange 408 Pad Base
    410 Screw 502 Trigger Switch
    504 Spring 506 Switch Actuator
    508 Actuator-Rivet Hole 510 Height Adjuster
    516 Height-Adjuster Hole 518 Flange Hole
    520 Pad-Mount Hole 602 Adjuster Projection
    604 Adjuster Spring 702 Cable Channel
    704 Rotate Nub 706 Spring Cutout
    708 Switch Seat 902 Actuator Hole
    904 Nub Slot 1002 Square Stick
    1004 Square Riser 1102 Pressure-Strip Stick
    1104 Pressure-Strip Cutout 1106 Pressure Strip
    1108 Square-Switch Actuator 1202 Larger Ball
    1204 Shorter Riser 1302 Smaller Ball
    1304 Pin Actuator 1402 Trigger-Switch Actuator
    1404 Nut 1406 Pad Screw
    1408 Domed Pad 1502 Shorter Rod
    1504 Longer Rod 1506 Protrusion
    1508 Cutout 1602 Spring Stick
    1604 Spring Riser 1606 Top-Riser Washer
    1702 Rod Cutout 1704 Switch Seat
    1706 Cable Channel 1902 Spring-Pressure Stick
    2202 Square-Support Base 2204 Rectangular Stick
    2206 Lower Bracket 2208 Arm
    2210 Upper Bracket 2212 Round Pad
    2302 Rod Cutout 2304 Cable Channel
    2306 Bracket Hole 2308 Trigger Switch Seat
    2402 Rod Hole 2404 Mounting Hole
    2406 Pivot Hole 2502 Angle-Stop Pivot Hole
    2504 Pivot Hole 2506 Cutaway
    2508 Angle Stop 2602 Spring
    2604 Center Winding 2606 Extended-Spring Arm
    2704 Pad Hole 2706 Pivot Hole
    2802 Pad Screw 3102 Height-Measure Stick
    3104 Height-Measure Assembly 3106 Line
    3108 Top-Line Eye 3110 Rectangular Pad
    3112 Rectangular Pad Screw 3302 Line Channel
    3304 Pulley-Shaft Hole 3306 Reel-Bracket Hole
    3308 Mount Hole 3402 Clip
    3404 Cover 3406 Spring
    3408 Allen Screw 3410 Spring-Retaining Pin
    3412 Spring Housing 3414 Bracket
    3416 Reel 3418 Bracket Screw
    3420 Encoder 3422 Square Shaft
    3424 End Groove 3426 Encoder Hole
    3428 Encoder Screw 3430 Pulley Shaft
    3432 Pulley 3502 Upper Arm
    3504 Lower Arm Bracket 3602 Upper-Arm Hole
    3702 Right-Hand Support 3704 High-Hat Housing
    3706 High-Hat Button 3708 Front-Panel Support
    3710 Long Pivot 3712 Front Panel
    3714 Switch Lever 3716 Index-Middle Separator
    3718 Middle Separator 3720 End Separator
    3722 Finger Grip 3724 Front-Panel Support
    3726 Right-Palm Rest 3802 Pressure-Strip Cutout
    3804 Switch-Lever Pivot 3902 Left-Hand Support
    3904 Accelerator Housing 3906 Accelerator
    3908 Left-Palm Rest 4002 Upper Housing
    4004 Spring Tab 4202 Right Platform
    4204 Spring Post 4206 Spring
    4208 Terminal Block 4210 Switch Pocket
    4212 Arm-Pivot Shaft 4214 Front-Panel Lower Pin
    4216 Middle Arm 4218 End Arm
    4302 Lever-Pivot Hole 4304 Switch Actuator
    4402 Arm-Pivot Hole 4802 Left-Hand Controller
    4804 Finger Button 4806 Control Button
    4808 Palm Button 4810 Strap
    4812 Logic-Board Cover 4902 Left-Hand Joystick Controller
    4904 Finger Joystick 5002 Right-Hand Controller
    5102 Left Base 5104 Switch Pad
    5106 Joystick Contact 5108 Logic Board
    5110 Left Controller Top
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION—GENERIC EMBODIMENT—FIGS. 1A THROUGH 2H
  • [0171]
    FIGS. 1A and 1B show a generic embodiment of a joystick system, which is composed of a joystick member 102, a joystick-support base 104, and a pair of hand platforms 106. Base 104 is used to ensure that control 108 cannot be easily repositioned or tipped over during operation. Platforms 106 are used to position push buttons and controls normally found on a typical modern joystick. A joystick control 108 is used to monitor the movement of member 102 and to provide a radio or infra-red electronic link 110 to a computer 112 (FIG. 1B).
  • [0172]
    A universal serial bus dongle 114 is shown attached to computer 112. A dongle is an external hardware device that enables peripherals (i.e., joystick member 102) to communicate wirelessly to computer 112 through the universal serial bus interface. Link 110 can also be realized by a wired connection, or by other means.
  • [0173]
    A universal serial bus is a serial bus that replaces many legacy varieties of computer serial and parallel ports. This allows peripherals to be connected to computer 112 using a single standardized interface socket. The peripherals that may be used with computer 112 (not shown), such as mouse, keyboards, game pads, joysticks, scanners, digital cameras, printers, personal media players, and flash drives, can be connected through one standard socket.
  • [0174]
    FIGS. 2A through 2H are graphic representations of the generic embodiment being engaged while a user or exerciser-player 202 is performing push-up and squat-like exercises. In all embodiments, member 102 either has its height set by the user to ensure constant engagement with the user's body or has the means to be sprung upwards to ensure constant engagement with the user's body.
  • OPERATION—GENERIC EMBODIMENT
  • [0175]
    A joystick is traditionally operated with one's hand and fingers and is used to input data into computer 112 (FIG. 1B) or another device. The joystick's stick pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction by electronic signals sent to the computer. The joystick may have one or more pushbuttons whose state can also be read by computer 112 or another device.
  • [0176]
    In the generic embodiment, the user moves his or her body and hence the joystick, according to how the user wishes to move an object on the computer's screen, such as a cursor or a cannon. I.e., to exercise while using the generic embodiment to play a game, user 202, either kneeling, in a push-up position, or a semi-squat position, situates member 102 below and against the abdomen or buttocks and observes the monitor of computer 112. The user places the monitor in a convenient position so that they can view it while manipulating the joystick with their body.
  • [0177]
    E.g., a forward or rearward-body movement of user 202 (FIGS. 2E and 2F) results in a comparable forward or rearward movement of the joystick, resulting in a corresponding forward or rearward movement of a cursor or cannon on the computer's screen. A movement of the user's body left or right (FIGS. 2G and 2H) moves the joystick to the left or right and thus moves a cursor or a canon on the computer screen to the left or right in accordance with the body movement of the user. A downward bodily movement (FIGS. 2B and 2D) of sufficient depth results in a signal being sent to the computer that a trigger switch is transferred on the joystick.
  • [0178]
    In other words, user 202 moves his or her torso to effect movements in the position of member 102 (down or up, left or right, forward or back, or twist left or right) to generate the necessary trigger, roll, pitch, and yaw commands and concomitant on-screen movements required to play the game. I.e., instead of control 108 receiving positioning information from hand movements of the joystick's stick, the user now uses other body parts to effect such movements and concomitant movements on the screen of computer 112 and thereby exercises such body parts in a far more enjoyable and interesting manner.
  • [0179]
    Thus, instead of using one's hands to move a joystick and pressing a trigger switch to play a game, the user's body moves the joystick and triggers the switch to play the game. With the generic embodiment, any conventional software-based game that is played with a joystick can be played by moving the stick with one's body. This includes a huge selection of computer game activities, ranging from simple solitaire games to sophisticated multi-user competitive games. In this manner the user performs body exercises in an interesting, exciting, and boredom-free manner.
  • [0180]
    FIG. 2A illustrates user 202 positioned ready to do a push-up with member 102 positioned beneath and against the user's abdominal region with platforms 106 beneath the user's palms. FIG. 2B illustrates user 202 in a lowered push-up position, causing member 102 to compress downward towards control 108 with platforms 106 beneath the user's palms.
  • [0181]
    FIG. 2C shows user 202 in a semi-squat position with member 102 positioned beneath and against the user's buttocks region with platforms 106 positioned upon the thighs. FIG. 2D illustrates user 202 in a lowered-squat position, which compresses member 102 downward towards control 108 with platforms 106 positioned upon the thighs.
  • [0182]
    FIG. 2E shows user 202 in a pushed-up and pushed-forward position, which causes the top of member 102 to move in a forward direction. In FIG. 2F user 202 has moved to a pushed-up and pushed-rearward position, which causes the top of member 102 to move in a rearward direction. FIG. 2G illustrates user 202 in a pushed-up position and swung-right position, which causes the top of member 102 to move to the right. FIG. 2H illustrates user 202 in a pushed-up and swung-left position, which causes the top of member 102 to move to the left.
  • [0183]
    The generic embodiment has many advantages as a key component of an exercise system capable of interfacing at a high level with computer 112, a computer game, or a game box program, such as House of Cards, sold by Wild Tangent, Inc. of Redmond Wash., Herod's Lost Tomb by Merscom of Chapel Hill N.C., and Risk II by iWin, Inc. of San Francisco, Calif.
  • [0184]
    The hand platforms 106 (FIG. 1A) increases the game-playing potential for user 202 as described in detail in the hand-platform and pressure-pad embodiments yet to be presented.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION—SLIP-TUBE EMBODIMENT—FIGS. 3 THROUGH 11B
  • [0185]
    The joystick system (generic embodiment) depicted in FIGS. 1A and 1B, as well as the graphic representations shown in FIGS. 2A through 2H, can be used in the slip-tube embodiment of FIGS. 3 to 11B.
  • [0186]
    The slip-tube embodiment differs from the generic embodiment in that a base 306 (FIG. 3), is shown in place of base 104 (FIG. 1A) to ensure that control 108 (FIG. 1A) cannot be easily repositioned or tipped over during operation. Control 108 is encapsulated by base 306 and is not shown in the slip-tube embodiment. A fiducial 308, shown as an integral part of base 306, enables user 202 to be oriented to face the control's front.
  • [0187]
    In the slip-tube embodiment, a round stick 310, a round riser 312, a top riser 318, a top pad 320, and all their associated parts, illustrated in FIGS. 3 through 11A, replace member 102 shown in FIG. 1A of the generic embodiment.
  • [0188]
    In FIG. 3, stick 310 is appropriately installed into control 108 (within base 306). Riser 312 is slid down over and around stick 310. Riser 312 has a series of adjustment holes 316 arranged longitudinally along the riser's length. Riser 318 is inserted into riser 312 and pad 320 is shown immediately above riser 318.
  • [0189]
    FIG. 4 is an exploded view the slip-tube embodiment wherein both riser 318 and pad 320 are represented as being slid upward from inside riser 312. A flange 404 is illustrated as a physical part of riser 318 with a number of screws 410 shown adjacent to the bottom surface of flange 404. A pad base 408 is shown immediately above flange 404.
  • [0190]
    FIG. 5A is an exploded view of the slip-tube embodiment. A spring 504, a trigger switch 502, and stick 310 extend upward from base 306. A switch actuator 506 extends downward from inside riser 312. A rivet 314 extends perpendicular from an actuator-rivet hole 508. A height adjuster 510 extends downward from inside riser 318 and from a pair of height-adjuster holes 516. Screws 410 extend downward from a series of pad-mount holes 520 through a series of flange holes 518. Riser 318 is secured to pad 320 by screws 410 through holes 518 in flange 404 into a series of holes 520 in base 408.
  • [0191]
    FIG. 5B is a detailed view of adjuster 510. FIG. 6A is an isometric view of adjuster 510 and FIG. 6B is an elevational view of adjuster 510. Adjuster 510 has a pair of domed-adjuster projections 602 and an attached bent adjuster-spring member 604.
  • [0192]
    Riser 318, being slid inside riser 312, is secured to adjuster 510 by means of projections 602 that extend through holes 516 and are held in place by outward tension exerted by spring 604. Projections 602 extend outward to also engage holes 316 in riser 312. This allows user 202 to manually set different heights for pad 320. User 202 presses in on projections 602, and due to their curved face, adjuster 510 is allowed to slip up or down inside riser 312. Tension of spring 604 allows projections 602, when released, to be positioned into the desired set of opposing holes 316 to lock risers 312 and 318 together in a desired vertical height.
  • [0193]
    FIG. 7A shows an elevational view of stick 310 and FIG. 7B shows a sectional view of stick 310 with an exploded view of switch 502 extending upwards. A cable channel 702 within stick 310 routes wires from switch 502 to joystick control 108 (FIG. 1A) inside base 306. A spring cutout 706 positions spring 504 within stick 310 and a switch seat 708 positions and secures switch 502 to stick 310. A nub 704 is attached to stick 310 for rotating stick 310. FIG. 8A is an isometric see-through illustration of stick 310. FIG. 8B is a detailed view highlighting cutout 706 and seat 708.
  • [0194]
    FIG. 9A is an exploded view of stick 310 extending up through riser 312. Rivet 314 extends through a pair of actuator holes 902. Actuator 506 is riveted within riser 312 by rivet 314 through holes 508 and holes 902. Riser 312 has a nub slot 904. FIG. 9B is a detailed view of actuator 506.
  • [0195]
    Once riser 312 is mechanically engaged with riser 318, riser 312 is slipped over and onto stick 310. The sides of slot 904 slide down tangent to the circumference of nub 704, thus engaging nub 704 to enable an “X” axis orientation when pad 320 is rotated perpendicular to stick 310.
  • [0196]
    FIG. 10A is an exploded view of a square stick 1002 and a square riser 1004 extending downwards. FIG. 10B shows a detailed view of cutout 706 and seat 708 on stick 1002.
  • [0197]
    FIG. 11A illustrates an exploded view of a pressure-strip stick 1102 with a pressure-strip cutout 1104. A pressure-strip 1106 extends from the top of stick 1102 from cutout 1104. A square actuator 1108 is shown above strip 1106, which extends down from inside riser 1004. FIG. 11B is a detailed view of the top of stick 1102. Should stick 310 and riser 312 be made in a shape other than round, as depicted in FIGS. 10A and 11A, nub 704 and nub slot 904, used for “X” axis orientation, can be eliminated.
  • [0198]
    In FIGS. 10A and 10B, switch 502, spring 504, and actuator 1108 (replacing actuator 506) riveted in riser 1004, would assemble in a like fashion as shown for those parts in FIG. 9A.
  • OPERATION—SLIP-TUBE EMBODIMENT
  • [0199]
    The slip-tube embodiment is operated similarly to the generic embodiment except as noted.
  • [0200]
    User 202, either kneeling, in a push-up position, or a semi-squat position, situates pad 320 below and against the abdomen or buttocks. User 202 then moves his or her torso to effect movements in the position of stick 310, 1102, or 1004 (left or right, forward or back, or twist left or right) as necessary to play the game. As before, this generates the roll, pitch, and yaw commands which traditionally are performed by hand movements of the joystick.
  • [0201]
    To operate switch 502 (FIGS. 9A and 10A), e.g., to send a triggered status to control 108, user 202 exerts sufficient downward pressure on pad 320. Riser 312 and riser 318 thus move entirely downwards and actuator 506 is pressed against spring 504. When the downward pressure is sufficient to overcome the opposing spring tension of spring 504, actuator 506 operates switch 502 and thus sends a triggered status to control 108 for processing and transmission to computer 112 via link 110 and dongle 114, or by other means.
  • [0202]
    In FIGS. 11A and 11B strip 1106, or a similar device, is fitted within cutout 1104 in stick 1102, essentially replacing stick 1002, switch 502 and spring 504. Strip 1106 transmits triggering statuses to control 108 in response to a range of predetermined pressure limits exerted by user pressing down on pad 320 to compress actuator 1108 onto strip 1106. This modification provides the means for programmatically setting the amount of downward pressure exerted by user 202 on pad 320 that is needed to activate the internal trigger logic of control 108.
  • [0203]
    The slip-tube embodiment has the same advantages as the generic embodiment relative to being an exercise system capable of interfacing at a high level with computer 112, a computer game, or a game box program to play video games, as discussed in the generic embodiment.
  • [0204]
    The slip-tube embodiment is simple to manufacture with low-component costs, particularly since the embodiment can be mass-produced from a variety of inexpensive materials, such as plastics and light metals. Its small size and modular design makes this embodiment ideal for transporting and storing.
  • [0205]
    In spite of its spartan makeup, the embodiment is easy to use and delivers all of the features of a modern joystick having trigger-switch functionality. If strip 1106 is employed, there is the added benefit of regulating pressure sensitivity resulting in differing levels of operational challenge. Finally, there is the benefit of doing rigorous exercise during game play and other functions.
  • DESCRIPTION—SPHERICAL EMBODIMENT—FIGS. 12 THROUGH 13B
  • [0206]
    The joystick system of FIGS. 1A and 1B, as well as the graphic representations shown in FIGS. 2A through 2H, can be used in the spherical embodiment of FIGS. 12 to 13B.
  • [0207]
    In the spherical embodiment, FIGS. 12 through 13C illustrate a spherical design of member 102 (FIG. 1A), shown as a larger ball 1202 (FIGS. 12 and 13C), or a smaller ball 1302 (FIGS. 13A and 13B), each being an integral part of a riser 1204 (FIGS. 13A and 13B), and an actuator 1304 (FIG. 13B).
  • [0208]
    Member 102 (FIG. 1A) described in the generic embodiment as well as all of the parts (stick 310, riser 312, riser 318, pad 320, and all their associated parts, illustrated in FIGS. 3 through 11A) of the slip-tube embodiment are replaced by the spherical embodiment. Base 306 and stick 1102 are used in this embodiment. Stick 1002, riser 1004 and actuator 1108 can also be used in this embodiment in combination with switch 502, spring 504 and actuator 1108.
  • [0209]
    FIG. 12 shows an exploded view of the spherical embodiment. FIG. 13A illustrates an elevational view of ball 1302 with riser 1204. FIG. 13B is a sectional view of ball 1302 showing actuator 1304. Ball 1202 is illustrated in FIG. 13C.
  • OPERATION—SPHERICAL EMBODIMENT
  • [0210]
    The spherical embodiment is operated similarly to the generic and slip-tube embodiments except as noted.
  • [0211]
    Balls 1202 and 1302 are made in any number of sizes and shapes and are an integral part of riser 1204 and actuator 1304. When riser 1204 is slid over and around stick 1102, actuator 1304 mechanically abuts strip 1106 positioned within stick 1102.
  • [0212]
    User 202, either kneeling, in a push-up position, or a semi-squat position, situates ball 1202 or ball 1302 below and against the abdomen or buttocks. User 202 then moves his or her torso as before to effect movements in the position of stick 1102 (left or right, forward or back, or twist left or right) as necessary to play the game. As before, this generates the roll, pitch, and yaw commands which traditionally are performed by hand movements of the joystick. By exerting sufficient downward pressure on balls 1202 or 1302, user 202 triggers strip 1106, thus sending a triggered status to control 108 for processing.
  • [0213]
    The spherical embodiment has the same advantages as the generic and the slip-tube embodiments relative to being an exercise system capable of interfacing at a high level with computer 112, a computer game, or a game box program to play video games, as discussed in the generic embodiment.
  • [0214]
    The spherical embodiment is also simple to manufacture with low-component costs. This embodiment can be mass-produced from inexpensive materials, such as plastics and light metals. Although the spherical component may not be as small as the equivalent parts of the slip-tube embodiment, different sizes of this component could be made to nest as Russian Nesting Dolls so as to mitigate this minor disadvantage making the embodiment suitable for transporting and storing.
  • [0215]
    The spherical embodiment is as easy to use as the slip-tube embodiment and delivers all of the features of a modern joystick having trigger-switch functionality. If, as illustrated, strip 1106 is employed, there is the added benefit of regulating pressure sensitivity resulting in differing levels of operational challenge. Finally, rigorous exercise can be performed during game play and other functions.
  • DESCRIPTION—SPRING-ACTUATOR EMBODIMENT—FIGS. 14 THROUGH 21
  • [0216]
    The joystick system of FIGS. 1A and 1B, as well as the graphic representations shown in FIGS. 2A through 2H, can be used in the spring-actuator embodiment of FIGS. 14 to 21.
  • [0217]
    User 202 uses their body to operate the spring-actuator embodiment in a similar manner as the slip-tube and spherical embodiments in terms of the joystick-like movements that have already been discussed. The major difference is that, during use of the spring-actuator embodiment, the depth of the down and up movement of the user, as in push-up and squat exercises, can be varied relative to the amount of downwards motion required to trigger either switch 502 or strip 1106.
  • [0218]
    The spring-actuator embodiment's use of a spring riser 1604 (FIG. 16) provides the needed resistance to effectively engage the body of the user. A shorter rod 1502 and/or a longer rod 1504 (FIGS. 15A through 15C) is used to set the amount of downward movement needed to send a triggered response to control 108 (FIG. 1A).
  • [0219]
    In comparison, the slip-tube and spherical embodiments have a set operating height that is established by the user 202. When adjuster 510 is positioned within risers 312 and 318 (FIG. 5A) or by selecting different sized balls (FIGS. 12 though 13C), the height of the joystick system is set for that user 202. In the spring-actuator embodiment, the amount of downward motion needed to trigger switch 502 can be varied at any time by the use of rods 1502 and/or 1504, or by additional length rods.
  • [0220]
    FIG. 14 shows the top portion of the spring-actuator embodiment. It is an exploded view of a trigger-switch actuator 1402 projected down from a pair of nuts 1404. Both actuator 1402 and nuts 1404 thread onto a pad screw 1406 that is secured in a domed pad 1408.
  • [0221]
    FIGS. 15A through 15C illustrate two different lengths of stackable parts, rod 1502 (FIGS. 15A and 15B) and rod 1504 (FIG. 15C). Each rod has a protrusion 1506 that nests into a rod cutout 1508. FIG. 15B is a sectional view of rod 1504 illustrating cutout 1508.
  • [0222]
    FIG. 16 is a perspective view of the spring-actuator that replaces tubular risers 318, 312, and 1004 (FIGS. 4 10A and 11A) with helical spring riser 1604. This change provides a means to accomplish differing height settings relative to the depth that user 202 must move in a downwards direction to trigger switch 502, or strip 1106.
  • [0223]
    A spring stick 1602 is topped by rod 1504 that is surrounded by the lower portion of spring riser 1604. Actuator 1402 is surrounded by the top section of spring riser 1604. A top-riser washer 1606 is welded to the top of spring riser 1604 and secured to pad 1408 by nut 1404 and actuator 1402 threaded onto screw 1406 (see FIG. 14).
  • [0224]
    FIG. 17A is an elevational view and FIG. 17B is a sectional view of stick 1602. FIG. 17B shows a rod cutout 1702, a switch seat 1704, and a cable channel 1706. FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the spring-actuator embodiment with riser 1604 compressed and actuator 1402 nearly touching rod 1504.
  • [0225]
    Switch 502 is positioned within stick 1602 in seat 1704 and the wires connected to switch 502 are routed through channel 1706 to connect to control 108 (FIG. 1A) inside base 306 (FIG. 3). Rod 1504 (or rod 1502) is inserted into cutout 1702 and the lower portion of riser 1604 is positioned around the top of stick 1602. Rods 1502 and 1504 can be stacked together by inserting protrusion 1506 into cutout 1508. The combined rods are not heavy enough to trigger switch 502.
  • [0226]
    FIG. 19 is a perspective view of the spring-actuator embodiment with a spring-pressure stick 1902 replacing stick 1602. Stick 1902 is topped by a rod 1502 that is surrounded by the lower portion of spring riser 1604. Actuator 1402 is surrounded by the top section of spring riser 1604. FIG. 20A shows a see-through elevational view and FIG. 20B is a sectional view of stick 1902, both illustrating cutout 1104. FIG. 21 is a perspective view of the spring-actuator embodiment with riser 1604 compressed and actuator 1402 nearly touching rod 1502.
  • [0227]
    In a fashion similar to the slip-tube embodiment, riser 1604 is slipped over and onto stick 1602 which is appropriately installed into control 108 (FIG. 1A). Base 306 (FIG. 3) secures control 108 to ensure that it cannot be easily repositioned or tipped over during operation
  • OPERATION—SPRING-ACTUATOR EMBODIMENT
  • [0228]
    The spring-actuator embodiment is operated similarly to the prior embodiments except as noted.
  • [0229]
    In a manner similar to the prior embodiments, user 202 is positioned either kneeling, in a push-up position, or a semi-squat position with the top of pad 1408 below and against the abdomen or the buttocks. The user then moves his or her torso to effect movements in the position of stick 1602 (left or right, forward or back, or twist left or right), effectively resulting in generating the roll, pitch, and yaw commands traditionally associated with control 108 (FIG. 1A) receiving positioning status from hand movements.
  • [0230]
    To trigger switch 502, user 202 must move their torso in a downward direction sufficient to press actuator 1402 against rod or rods 1502 and 1504 with sufficient force to overcome the upward internal spring pressure of switch 502, or other added spring tension (i.e. spring 504) as needed.
  • [0231]
    In FIGS. 19 through 21, strip 1106 (or a similar device) is shown in place of switch 502 and fitted into stick 1902 within cutout 1104. Strip 1106 transmits triggering statuses to control 108 in response to a range of predetermined pressure limits. This provides the means to programmatically set different thresholds of downward pressure needed to activate the internal trigger logic of control 108.
  • [0232]
    Within the spring-actuator embodiment, triggering can then be based upon the downward pressure thresholds exerted on strip 1106. The function of strip 1106 senses the amount of pressure on its surface. The strip has a set pressure level at which it acts like a switch 502, essentially a trigger level. This level of pressure sensitivity is combined with the amount of downward movement that is needed from user 202 resulting from the length of rod or rods (i.e. rods 1502 and 1504) inserted into stick 1902.
  • [0233]
    The spring-actuator embodiment has the same advantages as the slip-tube and the spherical embodiments in being a key component of an exercise system capable of interfacing at a high level with computer 112, a computer game, or game box programs as listed above.
  • [0234]
    The spring-actuator embodiment is simple to manufacture with low-component costs, particularly since this embodiment can be mass produced from a variety of inexpensive materials, such as plastics and light metals. Its small size and modular design makes this embodiment ideal for transporting and storing.
  • [0235]
    It is also simple to use and delivers all of the features of a modern joystick having trigger-switch functionality. Most important, this embodiment adds the ability of setting differing levels of up-and-down motion needed to trigger control 108 circuitry.
  • [0236]
    Should strip 1106 be employed, there is the added benefit of regulating pressure sensitivity to address the need for differing levels of operational challenge based upon downward pressure. As before, there is the benefit of doing rigorous exercise during game play and other functions.
  • DESCRIPTION—HINGED-ARM EMBODIMENT—FIGS. 22 THROUGH 30
  • [0237]
    The joystick system depicted in FIGS. 1A and 1B, as well as the graphic representations shown in FIGS. 2A through 2H, can be used in the hinged-arm embodiment of FIGS. 22 to 30.
  • [0238]
    In this embodiment a plurality of pairs of hinged arms 2208 replace the risers (312, 318, and 1004) of the slip-tube embodiment, the balls (1202 and 1302) of the spherical embodiment and the spring riser (1604) of the spring-actuator embodiment.
  • [0239]
    Arms 2208 and adjoining parts are used to provide the level of resistance needed to remain engaged with user 202. Rods 1502 and 1504 are used in the same manner as in the spring-actuator embodiment to set the level of downward movement needed to send a triggered response to control 108. The hinged-arm embodiment is the same as the spring-actuator embodiment in that the use of pressure strip 1106 adds the means to set the amount of pressure needed to send a triggered response to control 108.
  • [0240]
    FIG. 22 is a perspective illustration of the hinged-arm embodiment in an extended-upright position. Major parts represented include a square-base 2202, a rectangular stick 2204, a lower bracket 2206, stick 1502, arms 2208, actuator 1402, an upper bracket 2210, and a round pad 2212.
  • [0241]
    Stick 2204 is appropriately installed into joystick control 108 (FIG. 1A) within base 2202. The size of base 2202 is sufficient to prevent it from being repositioned or tipped over during operation.
  • [0242]
    FIG. 23A shows an exploded view of stick 2204 with a rod cutout 2302, a cable channel 2304, and a pair of bracket holes 2306. Switch 502 extends upward, with rod 1504 extending further above. FIGS. 23B and 23C provide see-through and sectional views of stick 2204 with cutout 2302, channel 2304, holes 2306, and a trigger-switch seat 2308.
  • [0243]
    Switch 502 is positioned within stick 2204 in seat 2308. Wires from switch 502 are routed through channel 2304 to connect to electronics inside control 108 (FIG. 1A). Rods 1502 and/or 1504 are inserted into cutout 2302 through hole 2402 in bracket 2206. Rods 1502 and 1504 are not heavy enough to trigger switch 502.
  • [0244]
    FIG. 24 is a perspective view of bracket 2206 with a rod hole 2402, a pair of mounting holes 2404, and a series of pivot holes 2406. FIG. 25 is a perspective view of arm 2208 with an angle-stop pivot hole 2502, a pivot hole 2504, a cutaway 2506, and an angle stop 2508. FIG. 26 is a perspective view of a spring 2602 with a center winding 2604 and a pair of extended arms 2606.
  • [0245]
    FIG. 27 is a perspective view of bracket 2210 with a pad hole 2704 and a series of pivot holes 2706.
  • [0246]
    Bracket 2206 is attached to stick 2204 with rivets 314 through holes 2404 into holes 2306. Four of arms 2208 are attached to bracket 2206 with rivets 314 through holes 2504 and 2406 with stops 2508 positioned to the outside. Four additional arms 2208 are attached to the other ends of arms 2208, already attached to bracket 2206, with rivets 314 inserted through holes 2502. Stops 2508 are positioned on the outside of each merged set of arms 2208 with cutaway 2506 adjacent to hole 2502 in opposing arm 2208.
  • [0247]
    At the intersection of each pair of arms 2208, winding 2604 on spring 2602 is installed onto rivet 314 with arms 2606 oriented to the inside surface of arms 2208 to effect an extending force on arms 2208 until angle stops 2508 rest against the outside surface of opposing arm 2208. Upper and lower arms 2208, being angled out from the center, allow unimpeded up-and-down motion of user 202 during use. The ends of upper arms 2208 are attached to bracket 2210 with rivets 314 extending through holes 2504 and 2706.
  • [0248]
    FIG. 28 is an exploded view of pad 2212 with a pad screw 2802. Nuts 1404 and actuator 1402 extend downward. Bracket 2210 is attached to pad 2212 through hole 2704 by means of nut 1404 threaded onto screw 2802. Actuator 1402 also threads onto screw 2802.
  • [0249]
    FIG. 29A is a perspective view of the hinged-arm embodiment in a lowered state with actuator 1402 almost touching rod 1502. FIG. 29B illustrates stops 2508, and spring 2602 on arms 2208. FIG. 30 is an exploded view of the hinged-arm embodiment.
  • OPERATION—HINGED-ARM EMBODIMENT
  • [0250]
    The hinged-arm embodiment is operated similarly to the prior embodiments except as noted.
  • [0251]
    In an operation similar to the prior embodiments, user 202 is positioned either kneeling, in a push-up position, or in a semi-squat position with the top of pad 2212 below and against the abdomen or the buttocks. User 202 then moves their torso to effect movements in the position of stick 2204 (left or right, forward or back, and twist left or right), effectively resulting in generating the roll, pitch, and yaw commands traditionally associated with control 108 (FIG. 1A) receiving positioning status from hand movements.
  • [0252]
    To trigger switch 502, the user's torso is moved in a downward direction sufficient to press actuator 1402 against rod or rods 502 and 1504 with enough force to overcome the upward internal spring pressure of switch 502 or other added spring tension (e.g., spring 504) as needed.
  • [0253]
    As in the spring-actuator embodiment, when strip 1106 or similar technology is used in place of switch 502, this provides the means to programmatically set different thresholds of downward pressure to be exerted by user 202 needed to activate the internal trigger logic of control 108. Within the hinged-arm embodiment triggering can be based upon a combination of downward pressure thresholds exerted on strip 1106 and the length of rod or rods (i.e., rods 1502 and 1504) inserted into stick 2204.
  • [0254]
    The hinged-arm embodiment has many of the same advantages when compared to the prior embodiments as a key component of an exercise system capable of interfacing at a high level with computer 112, a computer game, or game box programs, as listed above.
  • [0255]
    Though a bit more complex, it is still simple to manufacture, has low component costs, is small in size, and is suitable for transporting and storing.
  • [0256]
    This embodiment is not as modular as the slip-tube and spring-actuator embodiments, but the folding arms 2208 allow this embodiment to fold down for easy shipping and storage. Aesthetically, this embodiment may be more attractive to some.
  • [0257]
    This hinged-arm embodiment is also simple to use and delivers all of the features of a modern joystick with trigger-switch functionality. Setting differing levels of up-and-down motion requires a simple change in the configuration of rod(s) being used (i.e., rods 1502 and 1504).
  • [0258]
    Including strip 1106 adds more challenge for user 202. As before, it provides the benefit of enabling a user to do rigorous exercise during game play and other functions.
  • DESCRIPTION—HEIGHT-MEASURE EMBODIMENT—FIGS. 31 THROUGH 36
  • [0259]
    The joystick system of FIGS. 1A and 1B, as well as the graphic representations shown in FIGS. 2A through 2H, can be used in the height-measure embodiment of FIGS. 31 to 36.
  • [0260]
    The height-measure embodiment is different from the spring-actuator, the spherical, and the hinged-arm embodiments in its use of a height-measure assembly 3104. Assembly 3104 can dynamically set the downward movement needed to send a triggered response to control 108 (FIG. 1A) for processing. This means that during use, as in game playing, the level of downwards motion is not established at the origination but rather can be varied during a session resulting in a much richer and varied participation by the user.
  • [0261]
    The height-measure embodiment uses the same hinged-arm 2208 arrangement to provide the level of resistance needed to remain engaged with user 202. Rods 1502, and 1504 as well as switch 502, and strip 1106 are replaced by the function of assembly 3104.
  • [0262]
    The overall assembly of the height-measure embodiment looks very much like the hinged arm embodiment as shown upright in perspective illustration FIG. 31A. A height-measure stick 3102 replaces stick 2204, a line 3106 extends from stick 3102 to a top-line eye 3108 (FIG. 31B), and a rectangular pad 3110 replaces pad 2212. Assembly 3104 is attached to stick 3102.
  • [0263]
    Arms 2208 and springs 2602, as well as brackets 2210, and 2206 are installed in the same manner as in the hinged-arm embodiment except that bracket 2206 attaches to stick 3102 with rivets 314 through holes 2404 and a pair of holes 3308. Bracket 2210 is attached to pad 3110 through hole 2704 by means of nut 1404 threaded onto a rectangular pad screw 3112. Eye 3108 also threads onto screw 3112.
  • [0264]
    FIGS. 31B and 31C are detail and elevational views of eye 3102. FIG. 31D is an exploded view of pad 3110 and eye 3108 showing screw 3112. FIG. 32 is a perspective illustration of the height-measure embodiment in a lowered position
  • [0265]
    FIGS. 33A and 33C illustrates see-through side and front views of stick 3102. FIGS. 33B and 33D show sectional views of stick 3102. A line channel 3302, a pulley-shaft hole 3304, a pair of reel-bracket holes 3306, and a pair of mount holes 3308 are shown.
  • [0266]
    FIG. 34 is an exploded view of assembly 3104 which is secured to stick 3102 by a pair of bracket screws 3418 through holes in a bracket 3414 into holes 3306. A housing 3412 is attached to bracket 3414 by a pair of Allen screws 3408. An encoder 3420 is attached to bracket 3414 by a pair of encoder screws 3428 through a pair of encoder holes 3426 and is further held in place by a C clip 3402 inserted into an end groove 3424 at the end of a square shaft 3422 which protrudes through a hole in a cover 3404.
  • [0267]
    Line 3106 wraps around a reel 3416 and extends into channel 3302. It then goes around a pulley 3432, on a pulley shaft 3430 secured in hole 3304, and extends upward through channel 3302, through hole 2402, and up to and attached to eye 3108. Line 3106 remains taut due to wound-up spring tension. This is supplied by the square coiled center of a spring 3406 being engaged with shaft 3422 with its far end restrained in position by a spring-retaining pin 3410 in a spring housing 3412. The wound-up spring 3406 tension acts upon the square center of reel 3416 through shaft 3422.
  • OPERATION—HEIGHT-MEASURE EMBODIMENT
  • [0268]
    The height-measure embodiment is operated similarly to the prior embodiments except as noted.
  • [0269]
    The height-measure embodiment uses line 3106 extended around reel 3416 to measure the distance between the user 202 and the control 108 (FIG. 1A). As eye 3108 is raised and lowered by the up-and-down motion of user 202, positioned atop pad 3110, line 3106 is wound and unwound on reel 3416. Encoder 3420 keeps track of the turns of reel 3416 and thus the distance of movement both up and down. This provides the means to programmatically assign dynamic triggering levels based upon the depth of movement of user 202 during operation.
  • [0270]
    Similar to earlier discussed embodiments, user 202 is positioned either kneeling, in a push-up position, or a semi-squat position with the top of pad 3110 below and against the abdomen or the buttocks. User 202 then moves his or her torso to effect movements in the position of stick 3102 (left or right, forward or back, and twist left or right) effectively resulting in generating the roll, pitch, and yaw commands traditionally associated with control 108 (FIG. 1A) receiving positioning status from hand movements.
  • [0271]
    User 202 triggers control 108 by moving his or her torso in a downward direction sufficient to match the pre-programmed depth of movement deemed necessary to trigger an electronic threshold in control 108.
  • [0272]
    The height-measure embodiment has the same benefits as prior embodiments relative to the advantages as a key component of an exercise system capable of interfacing at a high level with computer 112, a computer game, or a game box program as listed above.
  • [0273]
    Having the same structural design as the hinged-arm embodiment, the height-measure embodiment is simple to manufacture, has a low component cost, and is small in size. This embodiment is similar to the hinged-arm embodiment in that it folds down for packaging, shipping, transporting, and storing.
  • [0274]
    The major difference in the height-measure embodiment is the use of assembly 3104 which provides a means to dynamically establish differing levels of down-and-up motion to trigger the appropriate trigger circuit in control 108. During operation, required levels of down-and-up motions can be varied, adding further stimulation and challenge.
  • [0275]
    Assembly 3104 measures the height and depth of movement. Other means of distance measurement can be readily adapted to the embodiment, such as laser, or sonic devices, as well as other available technologies.
  • [0276]
    The height-measure embodiment is simple to use and delivers all of the features of a modern joystick with trigger-switch functionality. It also includes a dynamic means of setting levels of up-and-down motion needed to simulate the triggering of a switch circuit. Again, there is the benefit of doing rigorous exercise during game play and other functions.
  • DESCRIPTION—SINGLE-ARM EMBODIMENT—FIGS. 35A THROUGH 36
  • [0277]
    The joystick system depicted in FIGS. 1A and 1B, as well as the graphic representations shown in FIGS. 2A through 2H, can be used in the single-arm embodiment of FIGS. 35A to 36.
  • [0278]
    This embodiment is the same as the height-measure embodiment, except as shown in FIG. 35A. A single pair of arms is used where there were four pairs indicated in the height-measure embodiment. This embodiment uses one arm 2208 and an upper arm 3502. Essentially, arm 3502 is installed where arm 2208 was previously shown in an upper position. FIG. 35B shows a detailed view of a lower bracket 3504 with string 3106 extending upwards through hole 2402 (FIG. 35C). An elevational view of bracket 3504, which replaces bracket 2206 from the height-measure embodiment, is shown in FIG. 35C. FIG. 36 is an elevational view of arm 3502 including an upper-arm hole 3602
  • [0279]
    The assembly is essentially the same as for the hinged-arm embodiment except there is only one arm 2208 and arm 3502 replacing one of the arms 2208 shown in an upper position. The positioning and installation of spring 2602, lower arm 2208 to bracket 3504, and arm 3502 to arm 2208 are accomplished in the manner indicated in the hinged-arm embodiment. The upper end of arm 3502 is attached to pad 1408 by screw 1406 through hole 3602 by nut 1404. Eye 3108 also threads onto screw 1406 (FIG. 14).
  • OPERATION—SINGLE-ARM EMBODIMENT
  • [0280]
    The single-arm embodiment is operated similarly to prior embodiments except as noted. The single-arm embodiment is functionally the same as the height-measure embodiment except for the use of just one pair of arms instead of a plurality of arms. It functions in the same fashion with one set of arms. The same end result is achieved but at lower manufacturing and parts costs. Conceptually, FIG. 35A is similar in mechanical design to a swing-arm desk lamp. This adaptation can also be readily applied to the hinged-arm embodiment.
  • [0281]
    This embodiment uses the functionality of the encoder 3420 assembly to programmatically assign dynamic triggering levels based upon the depth of movement of user 202 during operation
  • [0282]
    User 202 is positioned either kneeling, in a push-up position, or a semi-squat position with the top of pad 1408 below and against the abdomen or the buttocks. User 202 then moves his or her torso to effect movements in the position of stick 3102 (left or right, forward or back, and twist left or right) effectively resulting in generating the roll, pitch, and yaw commands traditionally associated with control 108 (FIG. 1A) receiving positioning status from hand movements.
  • [0283]
    User 202 triggers control 108 by moving his or her torso in a downward direction sufficient to match the pre-programmed depth of movement deemed necessary to trigger an electronic threshold in control 108.
  • [0284]
    The single-arm embodiment has the same benefits as the height-measure embodiment relative to the advantages as a key component of an exercise system capable of interfacing at a high level with computer 112, a computer game, or a game box program as listed above.
  • [0285]
    Having a minimal structural design when compared to the hinged-arm and height-measure embodiments, the single-arm embodiment is simple to manufacture, has a low component cost, and is small in size. This embodiment is similar to the hinged-arm embodiment in that it folds down for packaging, shipping, transporting, and storing.
  • [0286]
    The single-arm embodiment is simple to use and delivers all of the features of a modern joystick with trigger-switch functionality. It also includes a dynamic means of setting levels of up-and-down motion needed to simulate the triggering of a switch circuit. Again, there is the benefit of doing rigorous exercise during game play and other functions.
  • DESCRIPTION—HAND-PLATFORM EMBODIMENT—FIGS. 37 THROUGH 47
  • [0287]
    The joystick system depicted in FIGS. 1A and 1B, as well as the graphic representations shown in FIGS. 2A through 2H, can be used in the hand-platform embodiment of FIGS. 37 to 47.
  • [0288]
    This embodiment adds to the prior embodiments and broadens the functionality of the joystick system by enabling user 202 to engage in more sophisticated game playing and other functions. In the hand-platform embodiment, platforms 106 (FIG. 1A) are replaced by right-hand support 3702 and left-hand support 3902 (FIGS. 37A and 39A), shown as perspective views.
  • [0289]
    The push button switches and controls normally found on a modern joystick are installed on supports 3702 and 3902. User 202 can now activate these switches and controls with their fingers using supports 3702 and 3902 instead of a joystick. For example, support 3702 is illustrated with a high-hat button 3706 positioned above a high-hat housing 3704 (FIG. 37A). Support 3902 is shown with an accelerator 3906 atop an accelerator housing 3904 (FIG. 39A). Both supports 3702 and 3902 have joystick switches that correspond to the switches on a joystick.
  • [0290]
    In FIG. 37A, an index-middle separator 3716, a middle separator 3718, and an end separator 3720 are shown adjacent to one another and are arranged to accommodate different sized hands of users 202. A pair of front-panel supports 3708 and 3724 position a front panel 3712. On top of support 3702 is a right-hand palm rest 3726 where user 202 positions a right hand during use.
  • [0291]
    A forward-facing finger grip 3722 protrusion is used to grip platform 3702. Also shown is the end of a long pivot 3710 upon which a switch lever 3714 pivots (top of one among four pivots 3714 illustrated). FIG. 37B is a detailed view showing the finger position numbering on rest 3726.
  • [0292]
    FIG. 38 is a partial exploded view of support 3702. Levers 3714 are illustrated extending from pivot 3710 and from a plurality of switch-lever pivots 3804. Switch 502 is shown extended out adjacent to lever 3714. Strip 1106 and rest 3726 extend above support 3702. A pressure-strip cutout 3802 is shown in the upper surface of support 3702.
  • [0293]
    FIG. 39A illustrates support 3902 with a left-palm rest 3908, housing 3904, with accelerator 3906. FIG. 39B is a detailed view of rest 3908 showing the numbering of finger positions. Other than housing 3904, accelerator 3906, and the numbering on rest 3908, left support 3902 is a mirror-image of right support 3702.
  • [0294]
    FIG. 40 is an inside perspective view of an upper housing 4002 indicating a spring tab 4004. Grip 3722 and supports 3708 and 3724 are also illustrated. FIG. 41 is a perspective view of panel 3712 for support 3702.
  • [0295]
    Movable rests 3726 (FIGS. 37A and 38) and 3908 (FIG. 39A) above strips 1106 positioned in cutout 3802 (FIG. 38), allow control 108 to sense when user 202 applies or releases their weight to either support (3702 and 3902) while engaging in exercise.
  • [0296]
    FIG. 42A is a top perspective view of a right platform 4202. Part of platform 4202 is a switch pocket 4210, an arm-pivot shaft 4212, and a pair of front panel pins 4214. A terminal block 4208 is also shown which connects the wires from switches 502 and strip 1106 to control 108 (FIG. 1A).
  • [0297]
    A spring post 4204 on an end arm 4218 is attached to one end of a spring 4206. The other end of spring 4206 attaches to tab 4004 (shown in FIG. 40). A middle arm 4216 and arm 4218 are shown pivotally attached to shaft 4212. FIG. 42B is a detail view of shaft 4212 with arms 4216, and 4218 installed on the pivot shaft 4212. Separator 3718 and pocket 4210 are part of arm 4216. Separator 3720 and two pockets 4210 are part of arm 4218. Each pocket 4210 houses a switch 502.
  • [0298]
    FIG. 43 is a perspective view of lever 3714 illustrating a lever-pivot hole 4302 and a switch actuator 4304 section. FIGS. 44 through 47 are perspective views of arm 4216 with separator 3718, and arm 4218 with separator 3720, both with an arm pivot hole 4402, pivots 3804, and pockets 4210.
  • [0299]
    Levers 3714 are held in position on their top by their holes 4302 inserted onto pivots 3710, and 3804 and at the bottom by their lower actuator 4304 section being confined within pockets 4210, adjacent to switches 502. Due to their shape and positioning, essentially any finger size or strength can pivot levers 3714 to transfer switches 502.
  • OPERATION—HAND-PLATFORM EMBODIMENT
  • [0300]
    The hand-platform embodiment is operated similarly to prior embodiments except as noted.
  • [0301]
    The introduction of a set of hand platforms 106 (FIG. 1A), shown as platforms 3702 and 3902 in the hand-platform embodiment (FIGS. 37A and 39A), increases the game-playing challenge for user 202 since the push buttons and controls found on modern joysticks are installed on platforms 3702 and 3902. This makes it possible for user 202 to change views, adjust the throttle, and operate other controls just like joystick products that feature many different configurations based upon button assignments.
  • [0302]
    For example, in a flight simulator program, default button assignments relate to frequently used controls and for cockpit views, such as:
  • [0000]
    Action Command Action Command Action Command
    Apply - Button 1 Landing Button 8 Look Move hat
    release brakes (trigger) gear up/down ahead/right switch
    up/right
    Cycle views Button 2 Bank left Move stick Look right Move hat
    (Cockpit, (ailerons) left switch right
    Tower, Bank right Move stick Look Move hat
    Track, Spot) (ailerons) right back/right switch
    Elevator Button 3 Pitch down Move stick down/right
    trim down (elevator) forward Look back Move hat
    Elevator Button 4 Pitch up Move stick switch down
    trim up (elevator) backward Look Move hat
    Extend flaps Button 5 Yaw left Twist stick back/left switch
    Retract flaps Button 6 (rudder) left down/left
    Drop Button 7 Yaw right Twist stick Look left Move hat
    objects (rudder) right switch left
    Look Move hat
    ahead/left switch
    up/left
    Look up Move hat
    switch up
  • [0303]
    A huge collection of available programs makes similar use of the buttons and controls normally found on a modern joystick while attached to computer 112 (FIG. 1B). The finger location numbers on rests 3726 and 3908, as shown in FIGS. 37A and 39A, match corresponding numbered controls for control 108 (FIG. 1A). In this manner, switches 502 and controls 3706 and 3906 on platforms 3702 and 3902 are mapped to control 108 and function as if they were switches and controls on a modern joystick installed with control 108.
  • [0304]
    The intuitive and flexible nature of the hand-platform embodiment is such that a user 202 of virtually any age, size, strength or sex can make full use of it. Given the need for clear documentation from game software developers, the directions for setting up the hand-platform embodiment to play a particular game require little advance knowledge or training.
  • [0305]
    In an operation similar to prior embodiments, user 202 is positioned either kneeling, in a push-up position, or a semi-squat position with the top of member 102 beneath and against either the abdomen or the buttocks.
  • [0306]
    When user 202 is in a push-up position, their palms are placed onto supports 3702 and 3902 situated on the floor or other surface. When in a semi-squat position, supports 3702 and 3902 are situated on the tops of the thighs. User 202 then moves his or her torso to effect movements in the position of member 102 (FIG. 1A) (down or up, left or right, forward or back, and twist left or right), effectively resulting in generating the trigger, roll, pitch, and yaw commands traditionally associated with control 108 receiving triggered and positioning status from hand and finger movements.
  • [0307]
    During operation, user 202 positions his or her fingers behind panel 3712, attached to and between supports 3708 and 3724 and secured at its bottom by pins 4214. The user's index and middle fingers are placed on each side of separator 3716. The little and ring fingers are situated on either side of separator 3720 with the ring finger adjacent to separator 3718. The palms of user 202 are set onto rests 3726 and 3908 and the fingers are curled around grips 3722.
  • [0308]
    To trigger an operation, user 202 extends their finger or fingers so that the outside finger surface (nail side) impacts and pivots selected lever or levers 3714 on pivot 3710 and/or pivot 3804 sufficient to actuate switch or switches 502 in order to send the associated signal to control 108 for processing.
  • [0309]
    In the same manner, the right thumb of user 202 is positioned on high-hat button 3706 in housing 3704. A signal is sent to control 108 for processing each time button 3706 is moved in a particular direction. The left thumb of user 202 is positioned on accelerator 3906 in housing 3904, turning it in a clockwise and counter-clockwise direction to send that signal to control 108 for processing.
  • [0310]
    Supports 3702 and 3902 are adaptable to a wide variety of hand sizes given the pivotal nature of arms 4216 and 4218. Holes 4402 are inserted onto shafts 4212. The arms 4216 and 4218 are held in a narrow fan-like position by spring 4206 being hooked between post 4204 and tab 4004 and readily fan out to accommodate different finger widths.
  • [0311]
    While holding onto grips 3722 user 202 can reposition supports 3702 and 3902 without tripping switches 502 since levers 3714 pivot only when the user's fingers are extended outward. Switches 504 and strip 1106 are wired into blocks 4208 which are then wired into control 108. Connectivity can also be accomplished by wireless means.
  • [0312]
    The hand platform embodiment adds to the advantages as a key component of an exercise system capable of interfacing at a high level with computer 112, a computer game, or game box programs, as indicated above. The addition of supports 3702 and 3902 allows for more sophisticated game playing, such as games like Grand Theft Auto, developed by Rockstar North (formerly DMA Design) of Scotland and published by Rockstar Games, Madden NFL 08 by Electronic Arts of Redwood City, Calif. and Serpentine developed by Broderbund Software of San Raphael Calif. In addition, skills training applications such as Flight Simulator X marketed by Microsoft of Redmond Wash. can also be used.
  • [0313]
    Supports 3702 and 3902 are lightweight, small in size, and simple to manufacture with a low parts cost. They can be placed and easily repositioned on the floor, or other surface, as well as upon the upper thighs. They can be readily used in the combination with any one of the prior embodiments and thus augment the overall functionality of the joystick system.
  • [0314]
    The hand-platform embodiment is simple to use and it fits essentially any hand size or strength. It has the functionality of eight button switches as well as high-hat 3706 and accelerator 3906 functionality, similar to functions found on a conventional joystick. In combination with any of the prior embodiments, it delivers all of the features of a modern control 108. The hand-platform embodiment also adds to the benefit of doing rigorous exercise during game play and other functions.
  • DESCRIPTION—PRESSURE-PAD EMBODIMENT—FIGS. 36 THROUGH 37
  • [0315]
    The joystick system of FIGS. 1A and 1B, as well as the graphic representations shown in FIGS. 2A through 2H, can be used in the pressure-pad embodiment of FIGS. 36 and 37.
  • [0316]
    In the same sense as in the hand-platform embodiment, the pressure-pad embodiment relocates pushbutton switches and other controls normally found on a modern analog joystick onto platforms 106 (FIG. 1A), shown as left-hand controller 4802 and right-hand controller 5002. Controllers 4802 and 5002 are mirror-images of one another. Dissimilarities in the illustrations (FIGS. 48A and 50A) show controller 4802 as wireless and controller 5002 as wired. In practice, controllers 4802 and 5002 would be of the same connection type.
  • [0317]
    FIG. 48A shows left-hand controller 4802 with a set of four finger buttons 4804, a set of four control buttons 4806, a palm button 4808, a strap 4810, and a logic-board cover 4812. Buttons 4804 correspond to the finger locations of the human hand. Buttons 4806 are thumb activated to be used for standard joystick accelerator and high-hat functions. Buttons 4808, located near the center of 4802 and 5002, sense the presence or absence of hand pressure. FIG. 48B is a detail view of the numbering on buttons 4804 on controller 4802.
  • [0318]
    FIG. 49 illustrates a left-hand joystick controller 4902. The inclusion of joystick 4904 on controller 4902 provides a broadening of functionality where multiple joysticks can be engaged in game playing or other functions. Joystick 4904 can be positioned in any location that addresses the game playing needs of user 202, i.e. a thumb position. The overall experience is improved by a wireless connection (i.e., board 5108) since no wires are needed between the controllers and control 108. Controllers 4802 and 4902 are identical except that the button 4804, at the index finger location on controller 4902, is replaced by a miniature finger joystick 4904.
  • [0319]
    FIG. 50A shows a wired version of a right-hand controller 5002. FIG. 50B is a detailed view of the numbering on buttons 4804 on controller 5002.
  • [0320]
    FIG. 51 is an exploded view of controller 4902 showing eight strips 1106 and a joystick contact 5106 extending above a left base 5102. An array of switch pads 5104 for strips 1106 and contact 5106 are shown on base 5102. A logic board 5108 and cover 4812 also extend above base 5102. Strap 4810 extends above a left controller top 5110 which also extends upward from base 5102.
  • [0321]
    All of buttons 4804, 4806, and 4808 are shown as molded in as a single assembly into top 5110. Controllers 4802, 4902, and 5002 can all be either wired or wireless. The exploded view in FIG. 51 shows controller 4808 with board 5008 representing a wireless component to provide connectivity to control 108 (FIG. 1A).
  • OPERATION—PRESSURE-PAD EMBODIMENT
  • [0322]
    The pressure-pad embodiment is operated similarly to prior embodiments except as noted.
  • [0323]
    The introduction of a set of hand platforms 106 (shown as platforms 4802 and 5002) in the pressure-pad embodiment increases the game-playing potential for user 202. The push buttons and controls installed on modern joysticks are installed into platforms 4802 and 5002. In the same manner as the hand-platform embodiment, user 202 can now change views, adjust the throttle, and operate other controls just like joystick products that feature many different configurations based upon button assignments as indicated in the hand-platform embodiment.
  • [0324]
    Many available programs make a similar use of the buttons and controls normally found on a modern joystick while attached to computer 112 (FIG. 1B). The finger location numbers on controllers 4802 and 5002, as shown in FIGS. 48B and 50B, match corresponding numbered controls for control 108 (FIG. 1A). In this manner, buttons 4804 and 4806 on controllers 4802 and 5002 are mapped to control 108 and function as if they were switches and controls on a joystick installed with control 108.
  • [0325]
    The intuitive and flexible nature of the pressure-pad embodiment is such that a user 202 of virtually any age, size, strength or sex can make full use of it. Setting up the pressure-pad embodiment is simple, requiring little prerequisite knowledge or training.
  • [0326]
    In an operation similar to the other embodiments, and in particular the hand-platform embodiment, user 202 is positioned either kneeling, in a push-up position, or a semi-squat position with the top of member 102 beneath and against the abdomen or the buttocks.
  • [0327]
    When user 202 is in a push-up position, their palms are placed onto controllers 4802 and 5002 situated on the floor or other surface. When user 202 is in a semi-squat position, controllers 4802 and 5002 are situated on the tops of the thighs. User 202 then moves their torso to effect movements in the position of member 102 (FIG. 1A) (down or up, left or right, forward or back, and twist left or right), effectively resulting in generating the trigger, roll, pitch, and yaw commands traditionally associated with control 108 receiving triggered and positioning status from hand and finger movements.
  • [0328]
    During operation, user 202 presses buttons 4804, 4806, and 4808 to activate strips 1106 pressed against pads 5104 to communicate with control 108. Buttons 4806 can perform accelerator and high-hat functions on either controller 4802 or 5002. Buttons 4808 allow control 108 to sense a user 202 applying or releasing weight to controller 4802 and 5002 while engaged in exercise. Straps 4810 provide the means for user 202 to readily reposition controllers 4802 and 5002 during exercise or other activities.
  • [0329]
    The pressure-pad embodiment has the same advantages as the hand-platform embodiment in being a key component of an exercise system capable of interfacing at a high level with computer 112, a computer game, or game box program, as indicated above. The addition of controllers 4802 and 4902 makes additional game playing and skill development possible, as discussed for the hand-platform embodiment.
  • [0330]
    The system is lightweight, small in size, and simple to manufacture with low parts costs. Controllers 4802, 4902, and 5002 can easily be placed on the floor, or other surface, as well as on the upper thighs to be used in the concert with any one of the prior embodiments to augment the overall functionality of the joystick system.
  • [0331]
    The pressure-pad embodiment is simple to use and delivers all of the features of a modern control 108 and adds to the benefit of doing rigorous exercise during game play and other functions.
  • CONCLUSION, RAMIFICATIONS, AND SCOPE
  • [0332]
    The title “Riding the Joystick System to Health and Fitness” has to do with using traditional joystick functionality as the means to access and play any number of video applications and games and at the same time benefit from a meaningful exercise program. Given this combination, the joystick system will have broad appeal that will attract the interest of computer software industry at large and the game software industry in particular. Thus, the joystick system uses fitness exercise to get the heart rate up, calm the mind by getting immersed in the virtual world, and having fun in the process.
  • [0333]
    It provides a large range of athletic challenges. More robust commercial models can be used by health clubs, gyms, and athletic organizations. Special health clubs can even be established for the exclusive use of the system.
  • [0334]
    It has inherent simplicity and functionality and it will work on almost all conventional computers, which are overwhelmingly connected to the Internet. This means that users of these computer systems can interact and play games over the Internet right now.
  • [0335]
    Since instant gratification may be a factor in perpetuating its use, many of the available games monitor and display proficiency improvement. This dynamic performance feedback shows an historical trend of the user's strength and agility development.
  • [0336]
    The system has an appeal to all age markets and to both sexes. It is safe to use since there are no weights, resistance members, machinery, belts, and cables. It is inherently easy to use thus no learning curve is needed. The joystick system has a high-level of visibility due to its novelty combined with an existing need looking to be satisfied.
  • [0337]
    The present joystick system provides a convenient way to take advantage of today's broad computer and Internet functionality, and at a nominal cost. To be distracted from boredom, one simply uses a familiar joystick-like device to perform an effective and well recognized set of full-body exercises. The system is adaptable and can be used right away, no matter one's physical size, level of strength, or computer expertise. The system is small, portable, and can be used essentially anywhere there is a computer.
  • [0338]
    Even the military has used video games as a training tool since the 1980s. Corporate trainers from companies like Toshiba, La Quinta, and Branch Banking and Trust Company look to use game interactivity and fun to hook young, media-savvy employees and help them grasp and retain sales, technical, and management skills
  • [0339]
    Companies like video games because they are cost-effective. Void of the expense of traveling to a training center, employees are plunked down in front of a work computer or even play the games at home on their own time. By industry standards, training games are about half the cost of sophisticated entertainment games since the corporate variety does not require dramatic, warlike explosions or complex 3D graphics.
  • [0340]
    Sales for computer games and software are at an all-time high with positive levels of continued growth given a current fad to link exercise with game playing. Research has shown a void for inexpensive portable game-playing equipment that attaches to essentially all computers and provides serious full-body exercise.
  • [0341]
    An important part of the development work is already accomplished in that modern joysticks abound and are manufactured by many sources. The addition of the member, the base, and hand platforms, whatever their ultimate design, to existing joystick technology is a nominal task from a manufacturing standpoint. The size and weight of the system makes packaging and shipping issues quite reasonable. High-demand levels and attractive margins/markup are also important factors in determining the scope of the joystick system in the marketplace.
  • [0342]
    The joystick system has the following specific advantages:
      • 1. It uses a proven and familiar system—the joystick—as its basis of operation.
      • 2. Specifically it employs the proven and robust functionality of conventional joystick technology that provides connectivity to computers, and computer game software.
      • 4. The logical function and ease of use of a joystick, being intuitively familiar to all computer users, requires no new learning.
      • 5. Push-up and squat exercise routines are time-tested and universally acclaimed by health professionals and exercise experts as being two of the best exercises to perform for improved health and personal development. The lifting and lowering of user's body weight provides input to the joystick control logic. The added variation of moving forward or back or side-to-side provides a broader range of core-muscle development as well as the strengthening and conditioning of connective tissue and related muscles groups for improved balance and gross bodily coordination.
      • 6. No user bodyweight is supported other than enough upward frictional connectivity to ensure that the member moves in locked concert with user's bodily motions.
      • 7. There is no need for resistive or supporting elements, such as; seats, slings, weights, springs, posts, clutches, motors, wheels, belts, chains, cables, pulleys, flex members, and the like to provide the means for support and muscular challenge.
      • 8. A multitude of software applications are readily available for use right away. No software development is needed for launch.
  • [0350]
    In conclusion, the joystick system is a user-friendly, cost-effective, and proven means for anyone to engage in a robust exercise program.
  • [0351]
    Although the above description contains much specificity and details, many other ramifications and variations are possible within the teachings. For example the embodiments can be made out of any number of materials, including rigid plastic or plasticized material but can also be made of nylon, rubber, laminates, metals, such as aluminum, and the like. The decisions as to materials used are determined by cost, availability, timing, durability, functionality, aesthetics, and the like.
  • [0352]
    Throughout the embodiments presented, a number of specific parts and assemblies are indicated for which there are many alternatives. The following list of specific products is representative of these alternatives:
      • Joystick Control 108 can be replaced by a Logitech Freedom 2.4 Cordless Joystick, as shown at http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/gaming/pc_gaming/joysticks/devices/286&cl=US,E
      • Dongle 114 can be replaced by a 2.4 GHz receiver, as shown at http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/gaming/pc_gaming/joysticks/devices/286&cl=US,E
      • Switch 502 can be replaced by a SPST momentary contact pushbutton switch for PC mounting, model G16486, as shown at http://www.goldmine-elec-products.com/prodinfo.asp?number=G16486
      • Strip 1106 can be replaced by a single button-force sensing resistor on a flexible printed circuit that senses contact force, as shown at http://www.tekscan.com/flexiforce/flexiforce.html
      • Encoder 3420 can be replaced by an S5 series optical shaft encoder useful for position feedback or manual interface—converts real-time shaft angle, speed, and direction, as shown at http://www.usdigital.com/products/encoders/incremental/rotary/shaft/s5/
      • Finger Joystick 4904 can be replaced by a high-precision micro joystick with continuous 360-degree directional control with cursor speed proportional to applied force, as shown at http://www.interlinkelectronics.com/force_sensors/products/integratedmouse/microjoystick.html
  • [0359]
    The structure can have single or multiple hinged arms or flexible members or can even be inflatable, like a ball. The height of the unit can be fixed or adjustable by any means including but not limited to holes with spring stops, holes with pegs, threaded members, telescoped or accordion-like members, hydraulic or air cylinders, mechanical jack assemblies, inflatable units, and so on. At its top, there can be a pad or pads of any shape or material or no pad at all. Any number of tubular risers can be used of essentially any shape, including round, oval, square, etc.
  • [0360]
    The embodiments can be wired for connectivity or be wireless. Triggering functionality can employ switches, pressure-sensitive strips, light-emitting diode technology, and the like. Linear or rotary encoders, laser or sonic measuring devices, or any number of other positional sensing devices can be used. The base can be of any shape, and design with sufficient room to house the joystick control mechanism, and a footprint sufficient to be stable when used.
  • [0361]
    Although the emphasis thus far has been on game playing, the embodiments offer the opportunity for more serious engagements. For example, an internal training game developed for Cold Stone Creamery of Scottsdale Ariz. teaches portion control and customer service in a simulation of a Cold Stone store. Employees scoop cones against the clock and try to avoid serving too much ice cream.
  • [0362]
    In addition, there is a plethora of personal learning software, for areas like pilot training, musical training (e.g. guitar, piano, and drums), brain training, and more. All of these “non-game” playing areas can be put to use by the embodiments presented and add the important exercise component.
  • [0363]
    While the above description contains many specificities, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope, but as exemplifications of some presently preferred embodiments. Thus the scope should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, and not by the examples given.
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Classifications
Classification aux États-Unis482/8
Classification internationaleA63B71/00
Classification coopérativeA63B2225/093, A63B2023/0411, A63B23/0211, A63B24/0087, A63F2300/1043, A63B2024/0093, A63B23/1281, A63F2300/8005, A63B23/0205, A63F13/80, A63F13/245, A63F13/06, A63B2220/803, A63B23/1236
Classification européenneA63B24/00R, A63B23/12K, A63B23/02A, A63F13/06