US20060240947A1 - Apparatus and methods for transmitting programming, receiving and displaying programming, communicating with exercise equipment, and accessing and passing data to and from applications - Google Patents

Apparatus and methods for transmitting programming, receiving and displaying programming, communicating with exercise equipment, and accessing and passing data to and from applications Download PDF

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US20060240947A1
US20060240947A1 US11/377,600 US37760006A US2006240947A1 US 20060240947 A1 US20060240947 A1 US 20060240947A1 US 37760006 A US37760006 A US 37760006A US 2006240947 A1 US2006240947 A1 US 2006240947A1
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programming
server
exercise
communication network
adapted
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US11/377,600
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Yanzhen Qu
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Nautilus Inc
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Nautilus Inc
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Abstract

A communication network for establishing communication channels and distributing programming between and to exercise devices or other equipment. The communication network includes server side components for wirelessly transmitting and coding programming (e.g., television programming) to the exercised devices, serving applications, and establishing a network gateway. The communication network further includes client side components, e.g., exercise devices, for wirelessly receiving and decoding programming, accessing and running applications, and establishing a network connection by way of the server side gateway. The communication network also establishes a platform for interaction between client devices.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • The present application is a non-provisional application claiming priority to co-pending provisional application No. 60/662,326 titled “Apparatus and Methods for Transmitting Programming, Receiving and Displaying Programming, Communicating With Exercise Equipment, and Accessing and Passing Data to and from Applications,” filed on Mar. 16, 2005, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • Aspects of the present invention involve wirelessly networking a plurality of exercise devices to allow for transmission and receipt of programming, communication and tracking of fitness information, communication and tracking of information concerning the exercise equipment, and the interactivity of exercise device users.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Exercise equipment is typically focused on providing an individual user with some form of exercise, but is not focused on entertainment, news, network access, communication between users, etc. Occasionally, a gym will place a television or television in the work out area. However, users must share the television. Moreover, gyms like exercise equipment, are typically not focused on interaction between users, network access, user information, and other sources of data and information. It is with some of these issues in mind that various aspects of the present invention have been developed.
  • SUMMARY
  • One aspect of the invention involves a communication network for an exercise facility comprising a server and client. The server includes a programming server adapted to receive a programming signal comprising a plurality of channels of programming signals, the programming server further adapted to tune at least one channel of programming signal. The server further includes an encoding server adapted to receive the at least one channel and encode the at least one channel of programming signal. Finally, the server includes one or more access points adapted to transmit the at least one channel of programming signal. The client includes at least one client device including an exercise device comprising a processor, a display, and a wireless transceiver adapted to receive, decode and display the at least one channel of programming signal. In one arrangement, an access point array is employed and is arranged to unicast the programming signal.
  • Another aspect of the invention involves an exercise assembly for a user to engage in exercise. The exercise assembly includes a console comprising at least one processor in communication with a wireless transceiver and a display wherein the wireless transceiver is adapted to receive and transmit signals.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a system layout, communication, and high-level flow diagram of a computing system including a TV program server in communication with a CODEC server, in communication with a streaming media server coupled with a wireless router, along with an application server and a web data gateway, and an exercise device with a wireless transceiver in communication with an embedded computer in communication with an LCD TFT display, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 2A is a software diagram of a portion of the exercise device processor and wireless transceiver and software diagram of the access point;
  • FIG. 2B is diagram illustrating communication between client groups by way of an access point array;
  • FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a television program server, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a CODEC server, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 5 is a block diagram of an application server and/or streaming media server, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 6 is a block diagram of a computing system for an exercise device, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 7 is a system diagram of a central data warehouse and central management server in communication with a plurality of computing systems connected by way of a network connection, such as the internet;
  • FIG. 8 is a flow diagram of a system adviser application, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 9 is a screen shot of a system adviser home page, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 10 is a screen shot of a system adviser facility home page, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 11 is a screen shot of an equipment spreadsheet, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 12 is a screen shot of an equipment floor plan, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 13 is a screen shot of an equipment floor plan, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 14 is a screen shot of an equipment level usage, and service and warranty information screen, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 15 is a screen shot of a usage and alert screen, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 16 is a screen shot of a usage and service and warranty information screen, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 17 is a screen shot of a usage and equipment documentation screen, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 18 is a screen shot of the default display shown on the LCD of the exercise device, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 19 is a screen shot of the first screen of a fitness adviser application, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 20 is a display screen for various selectable workouts accessible by the select workouts button or fitness advisor button of FIG. 17, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 21 is a screen shot illustrating one example of a heart rate control workout where the user enters his weight, age, target heart rate, heart rate control mode, and the workout time, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 22 is a screen shot of a single channel of video and audio being presented on the display, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention;
  • FIG. 23 is a screen shot of a display of a random workout, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention; and
  • FIG. 24 is a screen shot of a trail run animation, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention, in accordance with various aspects of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
  • Aspects of the present invention involve a client-server arrangement particularly oriented for deployment in an exercise facility, but also deployable in other settings. The server, which may involve one or more computers arranged to perform various tasking is adapted to receive one or more channels of broadcast programming, such as analog programming from a satellite, cable, or other broadcast, and encode one or more of the plurality of channels. The server is further adapted to wireless transmit a signal or signals including the encoded channels. At the client side, aspects of the present invention further involve an exercise device, such as a treadmill, Treadclimber™, elliptical, stepper, exercise bicycle, spinner, ski machine, skating machine, climbing machine, rowing machine, strength training machine, or the like, including a computer system and a display, which may be a touch screen display, adapted to receive and decode the wireless encoded channel signal or signals and display the one or more channels of programming content.
  • Further, aspects of the invention involve a computer system, such as a client device, adapted to display an exercise animation configured to interface with an exercise program such that changing visual representations of an exercise animation are accompanied by corresponding changes to the configuration of the exercise device to simulate the changing visual representations. For example, a treadmill type exercise device may include a computer system adapted to display a running trail animation. While the running trail animation is presented to the user, when a hill or grade change is displayed, an elevation control of the treadmill may be automatically commanded to increase the treadmill grade to simulate the animation grade. Conversely, should the user increase speed of the tread belt, the animation pace will increase.
  • FIG. 1 is a client-server system diagram illustrating several aspects of the present invention. On the server side 10, a computing platform is wirelessly coupled with a plurality of client side exercise devices 12. Each exercise device has an embedded computer 14 and a wireless transceiver 16 adapted to receive and transmit signals to and from the computing platform, process those signals in the embedded computer, and display programming, application, etc., on a display 18. The client-server arrangement may be deployed in a health club, home exercise room, and/or other facilities. The server side system 10 is adapted to receive programming signals and wirelessly transmit a representation of the programming signals to the exercise equipment. The computing platform is also adapted to serve applications for access by the exercise equipment, communicate with a centralized data warehouse and application server, as well as provide an internet or network gateway for the exercise equipment.
  • The server side system includes a television program server 02. The television program server receives a programming signal 22 from a programming source, such as a broadcast television source, a cable programming source, a satellite programming source, or other source of programming. As such, the program server may include a cable port, antennae and associated receiver, satellite dish connection and receiver hardware, etc. The programming signal may include audio, video, test, control, embedded applications, animation, and other data in analog or digital form. For example, the programming signal may include one or more channels of programming, such as the History Channel™, ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox News channels, etc., along with close caption data, vertical blanking interval control codes, program guide data, etc. The television program server receives the programming signal and divides the signal into one or more programming channels along with other data.
  • The server side platform further includes a CODEC (Code Decode) server 24 adapted to receive the one or more programming channels from the server and encode the programming information into a Moving Picture Experts Group (“MPEG”) format, Windows Media format, H.263 format, H.264 format, or other standardized digitization and/or compression format. In one particular example, the CODEC server converts the programming information into MPEG-4 file or files. MPEG-4 files can include video, audio, text, graphics, 2-D and 3-D animation, and other data commensurate with the programming signals. In another example, the server encodes the programming information into Windows Media 9 (WM9) format.
  • The encoded programming signals are transmitted to a streaming media server 26 that converts the encoded signals into packetized data that may be transmitted wirelessly by way of a wireless router/Access Point 28. The wireless router, in one example, transmits the packetized data over an IEEE 802.11 (WiFi) wireless non-licensed radio frequency band. In one particular example, wireless signals are transmitted according to the 802.11a and 802.11g standards, which transmits data in 5.0 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands at up to 108 Mbps. The 802.11b standard or other wireless protocols, such as Bluetooth, may be employed alone or in combination in other embodiments.
  • Referring to FIGS. 2A and 2B, in one particular implementation, programming signals are unicast to the client devices. In contrast with a wired network, which can support TCP/IP multicasting very well, multicasting has been found to be troublesome in a wireless network. For example, when multicasting video data (MPEG4 or other data format) with a bit rate larger than 1 Mbps, the client side sometimes shows a problematic amount of mosaic (signs of severe interference) and the wireless access point devices (AP), such as Netgear wpn824, wg602 and Orinoco ap-4000, do not function reliably. Although functional, the performance is not optimal. One reasons appears to be that existing WiFi standards do not support multicasting well. Therefore, one possible convenient path to support data communication between a large numbers of concurrent clients through a WiFi wireless network is not available, at least not in a cost effective or efficient platform.
  • As such, one implementation employs a TCP/IP “unicasting” arrangement, which provides each pair of communication parties (access point and client) a dedicated “channel”, for wireless communication. To achieve supporting larger number of concurrent users, in addition to adjust the bit rate of the source data (for example increasing compress ratio on video data, or reducing the video resolution ratio, etc.), a plurality of access points are provided. The access points are tuned on all available 802.11g and 802.11a interference free radio frequency channels to utilize the maximum available free-licensed physical radio frequency channels.
  • Each AP is tuned to a specific radio frequency channel where radio frequency interference with the neighboring AP does not occur, and is assigned one unique identifier called as the SSID to permit a group of clients (such as the consoles of a group of exercise devices) to connect to a specified access point. Therefore, each of the access points will be corresponding to one and only one client group. Each client in a client group can communicate with any other client (within or outside of the same client group), thus providing for interaction between clients or users associated with particular clients. Further, each client in a client group can communicate with any application/functional server connected on a wired LAN, though the access point corresponding to the client group that the client belongs to.
  • FIG. 2A illustrates the server side and client side aspects of the access point configuration. The server side resides on the access point computer and the client side resides on the exercise device computer 14. Each client device includes a client OS and WLAN driver 11. The server includes BIOS 13, OS 15, LAN and WLAN drivers 17, and access point communication bridger and coordinator 19. These software modules work together to ensure that if the radio frequency channel or SSID of one of access points is changed, all the other access points would modify the radio frequency channel and SSID automatically to the next channel or SSID. For example, if we change an access points radio frequency channel from one radio frequency channel to another radio frequency channel, all the other access point radio frequency channels will be automatically reset into proper ones, and all the console side parameters will also be automatically updated to the new ones through the access points configuration coordinator client software.
  • Referring to FIG. 2B, the access point communication bridger functions as a “traffic police” to “bridge” the data flows between access points. There are three different scenarios: bridging the communication between the wired LAN and any of access points, bridging the communication between any two access points, and bridging any two clients belonged to the same client group to communicate through to the same access point.
  • The server side computing platform may be adapted to receive programming and other content from a variety of other sources 30, such as DVD, etc. The server side platform further includes an application server 32 coupled with the wireless router 28 and further coupled with a web data gateway 34, the application server is adapted to wirelessly serve various exercise related or other applications to the exercise devices 12 by way of the wireless router, and also provides a network connection, such as to the Internet 36, by way of the web data gateway.
  • Each exercise device 12 includes the embedded computer 14 coupled with the active-matrix (TFT) liquid crystal display 18, also referred to as a “touch screen”, which is also coupled with the wireless transceiver 16. In one example, the embedded computer is a “single board computer” running Microsoft Windows CE™ operating system. The wireless transceiver is adapted to receive and/or communicate with the wireless router and/or access point 28 array of the server side system. The touch screen display is adapted to display applications and/or programming information by way of the embedded computer in the exercise device console, as well as provide an input interface to the application and embedded computer.
  • FIG. 3 is a block diagram of one example of the TV program server 20, conforming to aspects of the present invention. The programming server includes a microcontroller 38 coupled with flash memory 40. The microcontroller provides control and programmability to other components of the server. The flash memory may include applications, data and other information to manage the program server and microcontroller. The program server includes a coaxial cable input interface 42 to receive a cable-based programming signal. In one example, a single cable plug or cable is coupled with the cable input interface, and a programming signal is received by way of the cable. The cable interface is connected with a signal divider and amplifier 44 that has a plurality of outputs to one or more television tuners 46. The outputs of the signal divider and amplifier are amplified versions of the programming signal. Each television tuner 46 is adapted to extract one channel of programming from the cable input. For example, a first television tuner would have as its input all programming information in the programming signal from the coaxial cable input, and would have as its output one channel of programming information. In one example, ten television tuners are provided in the programming server; thus, ten possible channels of output programming are possible from the program server. In another example, four television tuners are provided in the programming server; these four possible channels of output programming are possible from the program server. Each television tuner is connected with a corresponding television signal output interface 48. Each output interface may include multiple plugs for each channel input, such as a video and audio output.
  • Referring now to FIG. 4, the CODEC server 24 includes a microcontroller 50, which may be any suitable CPU or processor, a flash memory 52, and SDRAM 60. The microcontroller is adapted to control and program various computing elements of the CODEC server and is coupled with the flash memory, which includes data, applications, and other information for running and managing the CODEC server as well as programming various computing elements of the CODEC server. The CODEC server includes a multiple channel programming signal input interface 54 adapted to receive the four, ten, or some other number of channels of programming from the television program server 20. Each channel of programming information is transmitted to an encoder 56. In one implementation, there is a dedicated encoder for each channel. The encoder converts analog channel programming information into MPEG-4 video/audio encoded files. In another example, the encoder converts analog channel programming into Windows™ Media 9 (WM9) format. Each encoder is coupled with an Ethernet interface 58. In one example, the CODEC server includes ten encoders 56 adapted to receive and encode the ten separate channels of programming information from the programming server. In another example, the CODEC server includes four encoders adapted to receive and encode four channels of programming information.
  • Referring to FIG. 1, the CODEC server 24 is in communication with streaming media server 26. The encoded channels are transmitted to the streaming media server that packetizes the data. In one particular example, the streaming media server is a Windows 2003 Server machine running the Windows Media Services component. The ten analog channels of programming are transmitted into the CODEC server 24 at about 120 Mbps. The output from the encoders on a per channel basis is about 3 Mbps. As such, the ten analog channels at 120 Mbps are converted to ten encoded digital channels at 30 Mbps. As mentioned above, the ten digitized and encoded programming channels are coupled with the wireless router 28 adapted to wirelessly transmit data in accordance with the 802.11g IEEE standard. The 802.11g standard can transmit data at about 54 Mbps, with about 20 Mbps of overhead. As such, the 802.11g standard has about 34 Mbps of remaining bandwidth to transmit the ten programming channels, which occupy a bandwidth of approximately 30 Mbps.
  • The server side computing system 10 further includes the application server 32. The application server may be a personal computer. Referring to FIG. 5, one example of an application server conforming to aspects of the present invention is shown. The application server includes a processing unit 62, hard drive (“HDD”) 64, RAM 66, USB interface 68, DVD read/write memory interface 70, Ethernet port or ports 72, RS-232 communication port 74, and IDE 76, as well as a power supply 78. The application server diagram illustrates a functional diagram of a conventional application server. The application server is coupled with the wireless router and access point 28 and the web data gateway 34. The application server is adapted to serve various applications discussed in more detail below.
  • FIG. 6 is a functional block diagram of the embedded computer 14 of an exercise device 12, conforming to aspects of the present invention. The embedded computer may be housed in a console or other portion of the exercise device. The embedded computer includes a processor 80 coupled with memory 82, such as RAM and a hard drive. The RAM includes various applications adapted to run various components of the console and is in communication with the processor. The console includes a wireless transceiver 84 adapted to receive information from the wireless router 28 of the computing system. In one example, the transceiver conforms to the IEEE 802.11g and 8022.11a WiFi standards. The console further includes a decoder 86 coupled with the processor and the transceiver. The decoder is adapted to receive wirelessly streamed programming signals encoded by the CODEC server 24. The decoder translates the streamed encoded programming information into a form that may be displayed on the display 18. As mentioned above, in one example, the display is an active matrix TFT type touch screen LCD display, which provides a display platform for the programming as well as an input and display interface for various applications that may be received and/or accessed from the application server. The LCD display is coupled with a touch screen control 90 and TFT LCD control 92 the audio and video decoder 86 as well as the processor. In certain embodiments, the display may be any type of display, and need not be a touch screen.
  • The embedded computer may further include a motor controller 94 coupled with the processor. The motor control may be coupled with any type of motor of the exercise device. For example, a treadmill type exercise device may include a belt motor as well as an incline motor, and a motor controller is adapted to send appropriate signals to the belt speed controller as well as the incline motor controller. In one example discussed below, the touch screen display 18 includes interface buttons for controlling belt speed as well as incline.
  • The embedded computer 14 further includes RS-232 96 and USB 98 interfaces for receiving and transmitting information to and from the processor as well as other components of the embedded computer. The embedded computer may further include video and audio interfaces 100. The video and audio interfaces are adapted to couple with the audio and video controller and display selected channel information received by way of the streaming media server, CODEC server and program server. The console may further include heart rate detection 102 such as a “grip” heart rate or telemetric heart rate detection arrangement. The processor may include appropriate hardware and software to receive and compute heart rates for a user grasping the contact heart rate.
  • FIG. 7 is a system level diagram showing the streaming media server 26 and application servers 3 coupled by way of web data gateways 24 to the Internet 36 or other network. The system further includes a data warehouse 104 and management server 106, also coupled to the network 36 by way of a web data gateway 34. The data warehouse and management server may be centralized or may be dispersed in a plurality of locations. The management server includes entertainment content applications, and any number of other possible applications, accessible by the computing systems at the remote exercise facility. The data warehouse is adapted to store and update data particular to various possible applications, as well as possible exercise facilities.
  • FIGS. 8-17 illustrate various aspects of one particular software application that runs on the application server 32 and/or the management server 106. Data accessible by the application may be stored locally at the application server or embedded computer 14, or stored at the central data warehouse 104. Referring first to FIG. 8, a high level flow and block diagram of an exercise management application is shown. The exercise management application allows an exercise facility manager or other personnel to track usage of exercise equipment, track and manage locations of various exercise equipment, track and manage exercise equipment maintenance, receive exercise equipment, alerts, documentation, other exercise equipment and club related information. In one example, the exercise management application is accessible by way of a login 110, which requires a login name and identification. By way of the login name and identification the user is associated with one or more particular exercise facilities. After login, the user selects a facility (112) if a plurality of facilities are accessible through the exercise management application.
  • In one example, at login, the screen illustrated in FIG. 9 is displayed for the user. The exercise management application may be accessed by way of a browser, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, NetScape, or the like. Referring again to FIG. 1, an exercise facility may include one or more system communication terminals 114, which include an embedded computer and wireless transceiver, or which may be a conventional computer system having wireless connectivity. Alternatively, the user may access the exercise management application through any conventional computer with network access. The user accesses the HTP network address for the exercise management application and is wirelessly coupled with the application server 32, or the management server 106 by way of a network connection. After login, the user is presented with the screen shown in FIG. 9.
  • Referring particularly to FIG. 9, in this example, the user is logged into the system application as the XYZ gym administrator. As the XYZ gym administrator, the user has access or is linked with three separate exercise facilities. In the example of FIG. 9, the facilities are located in New York, Denver, and Los Angeles. The user may select any one of the three associated facilities to obtain more information about the facility or the exercise equipment in the facility. Referring to FIG. 8, the user selects a facility (112) and is then linked with the facility's home page (114). Referring again to FIG. 9, the user selects the New York facility, and is presented with the screen shown in FIG. 10. The screen of FIG. 10 is the “Home” page for the New York facility. The Home page includes an equipment overview for the facility 116, and equipment alerts 118 for the facility, as well as various links 120 to other pages discussed in more detail below.
  • The equipment overview section of the Home page includes a listing of all the types of exercise equipment at the facility. In the example of FIG. 10, the New York facility includes 18 treadmills, five ellipticals, two recumbent bikes, five upright bikes, five steppers, and six IC bikes, as well as 25 strength pieces. The equipment overview further includes utilization tracking 122 for all of the pieces of equipment as well as each piece of equipment individually. In the example of FIG. 10, overall utilization of the facility equipment is 54.8%, treadmill utilization is 56.2%, elliptical utilization is 47.6%, recumbent bike utilization is 61%, upright bike utilization is 55%, stepper utilization is 58.4%, IC bike utilization is 52%, and strength utilization is 59%.
  • The Home page further includes equipment alerts 118, which are subdivided into an alert type 124, date 126, equipment ID 128, and a text message 130 associated with each alert. In the example of FIG. 10, four types of alerts are shown, a user generated service alert, a warranty expiration alert, a non-usage alert, and an automated alert. Each alert associated with a single piece of equipment with identification number 25.
  • Generally, an “alert” is a message, generated by the embedded computer 14, remote application, and/or a user, associated with a particular exercise device and providing a message regarding the usage, maintenance, service, or other information about the device. In one example, there are five possible types of service alerts, including: warranty expiration alerts that advise the user as to nearing parts and labor warranty expirations, which is generated by the exercise management application logic and user input data; a non-usage alert that advises the user when a certain piece of equipment has not been used for an extended period of time, which is generated by the exercise management application or embedded and data collected wirelessly from equipment; a wear item alert that advises the user when a “wearable item” (such as a treadmill belt) has received usage equivalent to its' expected lifespan, which is generated by the exercise management application logic, user input data, and data collected wirelessly; user service alerts that are generated by the user to alert staff or service technicians to equipment that requires maintenance or service; and automated alerts that advise the user when an error is generated directly from the equipment console, which are generated by the exercise management application and data collected wirelessly from equipment.
  • By selecting the “View Equipment Listing” link 120B on the Home page, the user is presented with the equipment spreadsheet shown in FIG. 11. The equipment spreadsheet includes a listing of each particular piece of exercise equipment in the facility, an identification of the type of equipment (132), the equipment manufacturer 134, the equipment model 136, the location of the equipment 138, the serial number for the equipment 140, the utilization for each piece of equipment 142, and the number of alerts associated with the piece of equipment 146. A user may select any piece of equipment listed on the spreadsheet to obtain more information about that piece of equipment which is discussed in more detail with respect to FIGS. 14-17.
  • Referring again to FIG. 10, the user may select a “view facility floor plan” link 120C or referring to FIG. 11, the user may select the equipment floor plan tab 120C at the top of the screen, to access the equipment floor plan screens shown in FIGS. 12 and 13. FIG. 12 is a floor plan layout for a room in the New York facility titled “Cardio Room 1”. The floor plan shows the arrangement and type of each piece of exercise equipment located in that room. FIG. 13 is a layout of a room in a New York facility referred to as the “Strength Room”. Again, the floor plan includes a layout of each piece of strength type equipment located in the room, as well as an identification of each piece of equipment in the room. In one example, the layout includes visual identifiers 148 for each piece of equipment, which further serve as links to further information about each piece of equipment. By selecting any of the images, a user is presented with one of the screens shown in FIGS. 14-17. With the layout, a user may manage his facility and usually access further information about all equipment in the facility.
  • Referring to FIGS. 14-17, screen shots of examples of equipment specific information are shown. FIG. 14-17 include a usage window 150 with usage information arranged on a day-to-day basis for the elliptical exercise device associated with the screen. As shown, on Monday the usage of the exercise device is 70%, on Tuesday the usage is 95%, on Wednesday the usage is 61%, on Thursday the usage is 64%, on Friday the usage is 78%, on Saturday the usage is 95%, and the Sunday usage is also provided but not shown in the Figures.
  • Referring to FIG. 14, the bottom section of the screen includes four tabs, including: an alert tab 152, a service and warranty information tab 154, a service history tab 156, and an equipment documentation tab 158. In FIG. 14, the service and warranty information tab 154 has been selected, and various contact information for service and warranty information is shown. Referring to FIG. 15, the alert tab 152 has been selected, and alerts for the elliptical exercise device are shown in the window. For this piece of exercise equipment, there are six alerts shown and each alert is associated with an alert type, a date, a priority, a description, a dismiss and e-mail column. Priorities may be arranged as red, yellow or green, with red being the highest priority and a suggested immediate action, a yellow alert relating to something that needs to be done soon but not immediately or perhaps not requiring attention but simply information, and a green being an alert but not associated with any sort of possible problem with the device. A description is associated with each alert to more particularly describe the alert types. For example, the user generated alert indicates that the device “needs cleaning”. As such a user has entered this information indicating that the exercise device requires cleaning. Other alert descriptions are also shown.
  • Referring to FIG. 17, the equipment documentation tab 158 has been selected and the window includes a plurality of selectable document links 160, each including a document type indicator, and a name of a document. In this example, two PDF type files are associated with an owner's manual and technical drawings respectively and an Excel spreadsheet is associated with a parts list. By selecting the PDF files or the Excel™ spreadsheet, the exercise management application automatically launches the appropriate software and loads those documents for viewing by the user. The service history tab, while not shown, includes an input for each service operation performed on the exercise device and a description thereof along with a date.
  • FIG. 18 is a screen shot of the default display shown on the LCD of the exercise device. The default screen includes a fitness adviser button 162, a select workout button 164, and a TV button 166. The fitness adviser button launches a fitness adviser application from the application server of the computer system. The select workout button provides access to various preprogrammed possible workouts as well as user customizability of the workout, and the TV button launches a television selection interface which allows the user to display one of the plurality of possible channels being wirelessly strained from the computer system.
  • FIG. 19 is a screen shot of the first screen of a fitness adviser application. To enter the fitness adviser application the user enters a PIN number by way of the illustrated keypad. The user's PIN number is associated with a particular user.
  • FIG. 20 is a display screen for various selectable workouts 168 accessible by the select workouts button or fitness advisor button of FIG. 17. Numerous possible workouts may be configured. Additionally, the types of workouts may depend upon the type of exercise equipment in which the touch screen control and embedded computer are implemented. In this example, the user may select from a five minute demonstration of a treadmill workout, a manual workout where the user manually selects both an incline and/or the speed, an interval workout that is a preset interval workout, a random workout, and a heart rate control workout that adjusts both speed and/or incline based upon the user's heart rate. A fitness test 170 may also be provided by way of the fitness test button.
  • FIG. 21 is a screen shot illustrating one example of a heart rate control workout where the user enters his weight, age, target heart rate, heart rate control mode, and the workout time. The heart rate control mode may be either based upon speed or incline, in this example. The user grasps the grip heart rate electrodes on the console or wears a telemetric strap, which sends signals to the embedded computer or dedicated processor to calculate the user's heart rate. The system then adjusts either speed or incline to automatically adjust the user's heart rate so that it is about the target heart rate. Thus, if the user's heart rate increases above the target heart rate, then the system will decrease the speed, incline, or both to attempt to bring the user's heart rate down. In contrast, if the user's actual heart rate is below the target heart rate, then the system will adjust the speed, incline, or both to increase the user's heart rate. The same basic heart rate control may be used in other types of exercise devices with the appropriate controls.
  • FIG. 22 is a screen shot of a single channel of video 172 and audio being presented on the display. In the center of the display, the programming is presented. To the left of the display user workout criteria are displayed, including: time of workout, speed, incline, heart rate, distance, and calories burned. The right side of the screen includes programming control buttons with an up/down channel increment button which allows the user to select from a plurality of possible channels. The programming control buttons also include up/down volume controls.
  • FIG. 23 is a screen shot of a display of a random workout. The center of the screen illustrates elevation times that are adjusted automatically at preset cycles. The left side of the screen includes displays for the various workout characteristics. The center bottom portion of the screen includes line graphs that compare heart rate with belt speed and elevation. Finally, the right side of the screen is a trail run button 174.
  • The trail run button accesses a video animation 176 that is streamed to the exercise device by way of the other program source section 30 of the computing system. Referring again to FIG. 1, the computing system may include other program sources accessible by the CODEC server. Program sources include radio, MP3 files, training videos, programming videos, programming provided on DVD or other memory formats. In this example, animation is stored in the programming source section of the computing system and is wirelessly streamed out to the various exercise devices in the facility. It is possible to buffer the animation into the embedded computer of an exercise device or store the animation locally. The animation may be simply a visual implementation, or may include related control functionality that modifies the performance of the exercise device in accordance with the animation shown.
  • In one particular example, as shown in FIG. 24, a trail run is provided on an exercise treadmill, and the trail run includes elevation changes. As the animation video is run, the trail run changes and as elevation changes, control codes are included to automatically incline the treadmill deck in accordance with the animation. If the user increases the speed of the treadmill deck, the control codes are included to increase the pace of the animation to simulate running faster on the trail. The animation may further be provided with branches 178 in which the user is able to select a turn on the trail by selecting onscreen arrow keys. Each branch of the trail may present a different workout to the runner providing an enhanced workout experience as well as a more real life workout experience. The virtual world of the trail run may be appropriately modified for the particular exercise device being employed. For example, in an exercise bicycle, the resistance on the wheels may be appropriately modified based on the incline of the road where in an upward grade increases resistance on the wheel when a downward grade allows more free wheeling. A virtual world animation type platform as shown in FIG. 24 may also facilitate multiple party workouts, races, and other interactive activities which may be communicated between exercise devices either within a facility by way of wireless interconnections or between facilities and users therein by way of the network connection.
  • The fitness adviser application may also manage workouts and store data of workouts for each user. For example, the user may customize and store a workout by way of the fitness adviser application, and during the customized workout the fitness adviser application periodically corrects user workout data and stores that data so that the user has a stored profile of various workouts that have been performed. Further, other characteristics of the user such as weight, heart rate and the like may be stored so that the user can track overall fitness progress. Further, the fitness adviser application may include graphical information of past workouts for the user and may include integrated e-mail so that the user can send and receive e-mail by way of the console and receive specific fitness type e-mail through a prescription service.
  • The system or the exercise management functionality and/or the embedded computer of the exercise equipment may be adapted to receive and/or automatically upgrade system software for the exercise machine by way of the wireless network and/or the centralized application server. With the networking connections associated with the exercise equipment, voice over IP may also be integrated directly into the exercise machine providing a way for the user to verbally communicate with other users in the club, or other people outside the club, when the user establishes a voice over IP connection.
  • The fitness adviser and exercise management applications as well as the hardware components of the exercise machine and the computing system may be deployed in accordance with CSAFE (Communications Specification for Fitness Equipment) standard or compatibility. This allows the exercise equipment to communicate with other CSAFE compatible components. The data gateway server illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 6 may be deployed as a software application running on a multipurpose server or as a standalone server, and may communicate with the network via the HTTP or HTTPS protocols.
  • Various aspects of the present invention, whether alone or in combination with other aspects of the invention, may be implemented in C++ code running on a computing platform operating in a Linux, Unix, Windows, or other environment. However, aspects of the invention provided herein may be implemented in other programming languages adapted to operate in other operating system environments. Further, methodologies may be implemented in any type of computing platform, including but not limited to, personal computers, mini-computers, main-frames, workstations, networked or distributed computing environments, computer platforms separate, integral to, or in communication with charged particle tools, and the like. Further, aspects of the present invention may be implemented in machine readable code provided in any memory medium, whether removable or integral to the computing platform, such as a hard disc, optical read and/or write storage mediums, RAM, ROM, and the like. Moreover, machine readable code, or portions thereof, may be transmitted over a wired or wireless network.
  • Various examples of “screen shots” are provided to illustrate particular features and aspects of embodiments of the invention. These screen shots are meant to only illustrate platforms for communicating with a computer platform, and/or applications implemented to run on the computer platform, and are not meant to limit the invention to the particular screens or arrangements of screens described herein. Other computer communication mediums may be used, such as “hot keys,” line entry, and the like, without departing from the invention subject matter defined in the claims.
  • Some aspects of the present invention are illustrated in a client-server relationship; however, certain aspects of the invention may not be implemented as a “server” or as “client”.
  • Although various representative embodiments of this invention have been described above with a certain degree of particularity, those skilled in the art could make numerous alterations to the disclosed embodiments without departing from the spirit or scope of the inventive subject matter set forth in the specification and claims. In methodologies directly or indirectly set forth herein, various steps and operations are described in one possible order of operation, but those skilled in the art will recognize that steps and operations may be rearranged, replaced, or eliminated without necessarily departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. It is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative only and not limiting.

Claims (18)

1. A communication network for an exercise facility comprising:
a server including:
a programming server adapted to receive a programming signal comprising a plurality of channels of programming signals, the programming server further adapted to tune at least one channel of programming signal;
an encoding server adapted to receive the at least one channel and encode the at least one channel of programming signal;
one or more access points adapted to transmit the at least one channel of programming signal; and
at least one client device including:
an exercise device comprising a processor, a display, and a wireless transceiver adapted to receive, decode and display the at least one channel of programming signal.
2. The communication network of claim 1 wherein the server further comprises:
an application server adapted to serve one or more applications to the at least one client device.
3. The communication network of claim 1 wherein server further comprises:
a network connection adapted to provide a link to a public or private network.
4. The communication network of claim 1 wherein the one or more access points are configured according to the 802.11a wi-fi standard.
5. The communication network of claim 1 wherein the one or more access points are configured according to the 802.1g wi-fi standard.
6. The communication network of claim 1 wherein the one or more access points are configured according to the 801.11a and 802.11g standards.
7. The communication network of claim 1 wherein the one or more access points are configured to unicast the programming signal.
8. The communication network of claim 1 wherein the at least one client device includes:
a plurality of client devices arranged to communicate with each other.
9. The communication network of claim 1 wherein the program server comprises one tuner for each channel of programming signal intended for display at a client device.
10. The communication network of claim 9 wherein the encoding server includes an encoder for each channel of programming signal intended for display at a client device.
11. The communication network of claim 2 wherein the client device is further configured to provide communicate with the application server.
12. The communication network of claim 1 wherein the client device is configured to establish a public network connection.
13. An exercise device comprising:
an exercise assembly for a user to engage in exercise;
a console comprising at least one processor in communication with a wireless transceiver and a display; and
wherein the wireless transceiver is adapted to receive and transmit signals.
14. The exercise device of claim 13 wherein the wireless transceiver is configured to transmit and receive wi-fi signals.
15. The exercise device of claim 14 wherein the signals are encoded programming signals.
16. The exercise device of claim 14 wherein the console further includes a decoder adapted to decode the programming signals.
17. The exercise device of claim 15 wherein the programming signals include television programming signals.
18. The exercise device of claim 13 wherein the signals comprise software application information.
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