US20110269601A1 - Sensor based exercise control system - Google Patents

Sensor based exercise control system Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110269601A1
US20110269601A1 US13097209 US201113097209A US20110269601A1 US 20110269601 A1 US20110269601 A1 US 20110269601A1 US 13097209 US13097209 US 13097209 US 201113097209 A US201113097209 A US 201113097209A US 20110269601 A1 US20110269601 A1 US 20110269601A1
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user
sensor
system
exercise
computer
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Abandoned
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US13097209
Inventor
Craig Allen Nelson
Eric H. Ledet
William Joseph Devan
Christine G. Skrzypiec
Joseph Thomas Kersch
Rachel Paige Arnott
Eric Craig Wyler
Kevin M. Morenski
Kwame Kutten
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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
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    • A47CCHAIRS; SOFAS; BEDS
    • A47C31/00Details or accessories for chairs, beds, or the like, not provided for in other groups of this subclass, e.g. upholstery fasteners, mattress protectors, stretching devices for mattress nets
    • A47C31/12Means, e.g. measuring means for adapting chairs, beds or mattresses to the shape or weight of persons
    • A47C31/126Means, e.g. measuring means for adapting chairs, beds or mattresses to the shape or weight of persons for chairs
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
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Abstract

A system and method for exercising core muscles, particularly the lumbar intrinsic musculature, including the multifidi. A system is disclosed that includes: a first sensor for detecting upper body exertions of a user engaged in an exercise; a second sensor for detecting lower torso exertions for the user engaged in the exercise; a third sensor for detecting lower extremity exertions for the user engaged in the exercise; a control system for processing sensor data from the first, second and third sensor, said control system including: a user interface system for communicating information with the user; a data collection system for collecting sensor data; an analysis system for analyzing the sensor data and determining if the user is performing the exercise in a technically correct manner; and a feedback system for alerting the user when the exercise is not being performed in the technically correct manner.

Description

    BACKGROUND
  • [0001]
    The present invention relates to a system and method for facilitating proper exercise techniques and more particularly to a sensor based feedback system and method for facilitating pelvic and spine exercise techniques to strengthen core muscles, namely the lumbar intrinsic musculature and abdominal muscles.
  • [0002]
    Lower back pain is a chronic medical problem in today's society, and the yearly cost can reach as high as $600 billion per year. The economic impact of lower back pain can be subdivided into direct and indirect costs; indirect costs primarily relate to employment and household productivity, while the direct costs involve physician services, medical devices, medications, hospital services, and diagnostic testing. An estimated 8 out of 10 Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain lasting longer than two weeks occurs in 16% of the population between the ages of 24 and 75, as reported by The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey II. The ramifications of this pain contribute to 149 million lost workdays in the United States annually, with an estimated cost of $1,230 per male worker and $773 per female worker. The net effect of these lost workdays translates to a loss of approximately $28 billion per year in the United States, and £1.6 billion in the United Kingdom.
  • [0003]
    Presently, many solutions exist to purportedly reduce lower back pain, including both established medical therapies and alternative therapeutic treatments. Standard medical treatments for acute low back pain include analgesic and anti-inflammatory treatments, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, heat and cold therapy, and various back exercises and stretches to relieve the stress on the lower back. Chronic lower back pain is more heavily contended, with a wide range of available solutions.
  • [0004]
    Physical therapy and chiropractic approaches utilize a broad range of exercises to strengthen portions of the lower back and additionally to increase flexibility. The currently espoused belief is that these exercises would decrease the deleterious effects of lower back pain. In all of the aforementioned approaches, the muscles strengthened and stretched are user-specific and dependent upon the nature of the injury, including cause, symptoms, and pain location. Surgery can only be applied to specific situations and is generally reserved for the most severe cases, such as osteomyelitis, spinal fractures, nerve compressions, stenosis, severe disc degeneration, and disc herniations. In addition to general approaches, specific devices have been developed to facilitate lower back exercises.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY
  • [0005]
    The present invention provides a system, method and program product for facilitating exercise techniques to strengthen core muscles, namely intrinsic muscles of the spine including the lumbar multifidi. A sensor based exercise system and method is disclosed to, among other things: (a) provide sufferers of low back pain with a simple, enjoyable, video game-like interface that provides them with real-time in-home guidance on the proper techniques for exercises that strengthen core muscles and ultimately reduce low back pain; and (b) provide a system to workers in occupations involving prolonged sitting that prompts and guides them when to take short breaks from working and perform core muscle strengthening exercises and do them properly. The system will reduce employee low back pain, employer liability and lost work time.
  • [0006]
    According to one embodiment of the present invention, there is a system for exercising core muscles, comprising: a first sensor for detecting an upper body exertion of a user engaged in an exercise; a second sensor for detecting a lower torso exertion of the user engaged in the exercise; and a control system for processing sensor data from the first and second sensor, said control system including: a user interface system for communicating information with the user; a data collection system for collecting sensor data; an analysis system for analyzing the sensor data and determining if the user is performing the exercise in a technically correct manner; and a feedback system for alerting the user in response to the exercise not being performed in the technically correct manner.
  • [0007]
    According to a second embodiment of the present invention, there is a method for exercising core muscles, comprising: providing a user interface system for communicating information with a user engaged in an exercise; collecting data from a first sensor adapted to detect an upper body exertion of the user engaged in the exercise; collecting data from a second sensor adapted to detect a lower torso exertion of the user engaged in the exercise; analyzing the data from the first and second sensor to determine whether the user is performing the exercise in a technically correct manner; and alerting the user in response to the exercise not being performed in the technically correct manner.
  • [0008]
    According to a third embodiment of the present invention, program product stored on a tangible computer readable medium, which when executed by a computer system, facilitates exercising of core muscles, comprising: program code for providing a user interface system for communicating information with a user engaged in an exercise; program code for collecting data from a first sensor adapted to detect an upper body exertion of the user engaged in the exercise; program code for collecting data from a second sensor adapted to detect a lower torso exertion of the user engaged in the exercise; program code for analyzing the data from the first and second sensor to determine whether the user is performing the exercise in a technically correct manner; and program code for providing feedback to the user regarding the exercise not being performed in the technically correct manner.
  • [0009]
    According to a fourth embodiment of the present invention, there is a sensor system, comprising: a sensor board adapted to detect exertions at different areas on a surface of the sensor board and communicate the exertions to an analysis system; and a passive cushion adapted to be removably placed on the sensor board to provide a seat for a user; wherein lower torso movements by the user seated on the passive cushion result in detected exertions by the sensor board that are indicative of the user performing an exercise in a prescribed manner.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0010]
    These and other features of this invention will be more readily understood from the following detailed description of the various aspects of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
  • [0011]
    FIG. 1 depicts a sensor based exercise system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
  • [0012]
    FIGS. 2A and 2B depicts a sensor that the users sits on in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0013]
    FIGS. 3A and 3B depicts a lower extremity sensor in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0014]
    FIG. 4 depicts a feedback interface in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0015]
    FIG. 5 depicts a feedback interface in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0016]
    FIG. 6 depicts a flow diagram showing a method of the present invention.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 7 depicts a sensor that the user sits on in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0018]
    The drawings are merely schematic representations, not intended to portray specific parameters of the invention. The drawings are intended to depict only typical embodiments of the invention, and therefore should not be considered as limiting the scope of the invention. In the drawings, like reference numbering represents like elements.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION Overview
  • [0019]
    The present invention provides a sensor based feedback system and method for addressing lower back pain by isolating and strengthening core musculature, including “intrinsic” muscles in the lower back, such as the lumbar multifidi. The invention is based on the theory that lower back pain is often the result of dysfunctional lumbar multifidi, which in turn causes the user to compensate by using other “extrinsic” muscle groups. That is, dysfunction of the intrinsic musculature, which normally stabilizes the lumbar spine, forces the prime movers or locomotive muscles to become reflexively hypertonic to compensate. The most commonly noted compensatory musculature in lumbo-pelvic derangement includes the hamstring, piriformis, erector spinae, psoas, and quadratus lumborum. Damage or misuse of the multifidi leads to compensation by the muscles previously mentioned, and may cause abnormal motion (or alignment) of the spine. Abnormal motion or alignment of the spine has been shown to be a cause of chronic lower back pain. Lumbar exercises have been shown to be effective for treating chronic low back pain. Note that for the purposes of this disclosure, the term core muscles may refer to, e.g., spinal, abdominal, and pelvic muscles.
  • [0020]
    In accordance with an embodiment of the invention, there are three primary exercises (referred to herein as core, pelvic or lumbar multifidi exercises) that are used to strengthen the core and alleviate lower back pain.
  • [0021]
    I. The anterior/posterior pelvic tilt involves front-to-back movement of the lumbar spine and pelvis.
  • [0022]
    II. The side-to-side pelvic tilt is similar, but uses a lateral sway.
  • [0023]
    III. The “pelvic circles” exercise describes a clockwise and counterclockwise circular movement of the pelvis.
  • [0024]
    For those with compromised intrinsic muscles, these core exercises initially can be difficult to perform properly and often there is compensation by other muscles, reducing the effectiveness of the exercises. Compensation by incorrect muscles is verified by cues such as raising the shoulders unilaterally or bilaterally, flexion or extension of the torso, and/or movement of the lower extremities, e.g., lifting the heels or pushing down with the feet while seated on an unstable surface or seat (such as a large ball or cushion).
  • [0025]
    The present invention utilizes a sensor based feedback system to assist users, e.g., with visual and audio clues, to properly perform above noted core exercises. Without such feedback, users would typically have a hard time isolating the correct muscles to move. With time however, the final result is the correction of the poor motor patterns and amelioration of the lower back pain with the user having the ability to discern proper lumbo-pelvic movements from improper movement. Ultimately, the user is empowered to erase or decrease fear avoidance behavior and regain confidence in their lower back movements.
  • Illustrative Embodiments
  • [0026]
    Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 depicts an illustrative sensor-based core exercise system 11 for providing sensor based feedback and guidance to a user 40 performing any one of the three core exercises noted above. This embodiment utilizes three systems of sensors 34, 36, and 38, to collect data from the user 40 that is analyzed by computer system 10 to ensure that the exercises are being done correctly. For the purposes of this disclosure, the term sensor or sensor system refers to any device or mechanism that can detect an exertion from a user. An exertion may include any type of movement, pressure change, or applied force from a body part of the user 40. Note that FIG. 1 describes an embodiment with three sensor systems 34, 36, and 38 for collecting readings from three areas, upper body, lower torso, and lower extremity. However, it is understood that the invention may be implemented less than three sensor systems, i.e., an embodiment with just one or two sensor systems may be utilized.
  • [0027]
    Each of the three core exercises are performed with the user seated, in this case on a chair 42. While seated, the user must typically remain in a relatively upright and neutral position. From the position, the user 40 is instructed by computer system 10 to perform: anterior/posterior pelvic tilts, involves front-to-back movements of the lumbar spine and pelvis; side-to-side pelvic tilts, using a lateral sway; and/or “pelvic circles” using a circular movement of the pelvis. As noted, pelvic tilt exercises initially can be difficult to perform properly and often there is compensation by other muscles, reducing the effectiveness of the exercises.
  • [0028]
    By analyzing data from the three sensors 34, 36, 38, a determination is made whether the user is performing the exercise in a technically correct manner. In this embodiment, sensor 34 is affixed to the user's upper body, e.g., torso or shoulders and measures or detects upper body exertions, e.g., forward-back, side-to-side, and up-down motions; sensor 36 comprises a seat that the user 40 sits on and detects the user's lower torso (e.g., pelvic, spine, abdomen, etc.) exertions relative to a central neutral position; and sensor 38 comprises a foot rest and detects a lower extremity exertion, e.g., foot pressure, force or motion. Sensors 39 a, 39 b, 39 c depict alternative sensor locations/embodiments for measuring lower extremity exertion. Sensor 39 a is shown attached to the user's thigh, sensor 39 b is shown attached to the user's shin, and sensor 39 c is shown on top of the user's foot. As is evident, the particular location for detecting lower extremity exertion can vary, and any location that is suitable for detecting exertion may be utilized.
  • [0029]
    During the performance of the core exercises, there should be little or no upper body motion (as monitored by sensor 34), and no lower extremity exertion (as monitored by sensor 38). The lower torso region of the user, as monitored by sensor 36, should exhibit a specific range of motion depending on the exercise. For instance, while performing anterior/posterior pelvic tilts, there should be an exertion (i.e., pressure, force or motion) change detected in the forward/rear directions, but none in the side-to-side directions.
  • [0030]
    In this example, a video interface device 32 is provided to interface with, guide and provide feedback to the user performing the exercises. Although not shown, other devices could similarly be utilized to interface with the user, e.g., keyboard, remote control device, TV, audio, holography, smart phone, tablet, GPS, etc. As the user performs the exercises, sensor data from the three sensors is transmitted via a data interface 30 into computer system 10. Data may be transmitted in any manner (wired, wireless, Bluetooth, etc.). Computer system 10 collects and analyzes the sensor data and determines if the user 40 is performing a core exercise correctly. If the user 40 is utilizing incorrect technique, feedback is provided to the user 40 to change/correct the technique.
  • [0031]
    Computer system 10 includes a core exercise control system 18, which may for example be implemented as a computer program product stored in memory 16 and executable by processor 12. Core exercise control system 18 generally includes: (1) a user interface system 20 that generally provides a suite of interface modes for user 40 including, e.g., a sign-in mode, a set-up mode, a calibration mode, a user training mode, an exercise mode, etc.; (2) a data collection system 22 for collecting sensor data streamed in from data interface 30; (3) an analysis system 24 for analyzing the sensor data; and (4) a feedback system 26 for providing information back to the user 40 regarding the performance of the exercise by the user. Computer system 10 may also include a database 28 that may for instance include user specific data (e.g., past exercise regimens, calibration data, interface settings, etc.) and may store data for multiple users.
  • [0032]
    As noted, in order to assess whether the user's technique is correct, the three sensors 34, 36, 38 are adapted to collect data about (1) upper body exertion, (2) lower torso exertion, and (3) lower extremity exertion. Sensors 34, 36, 38 may be implemented using any type of sensing devices, and various examples are discussed herein.
  • [0033]
    In one illustrative embodiment, upper body sensor 34 is implemented with an accelerometer device (such as a Wii remote) strapped to the user's torso. The accelerometer detects roll and pitch of the shoulders and torso to ensure the shoulders are properly positioned. It is understood however, that any device for detecting upper body movement could be utilized.
  • [0034]
    Lower torso sensor 36 generally comprises a seat that senses exertion, e.g., pressure force or motion, over different points on the surface of the seat. In one embodiment, the distribution of pressure among the sensors monitors the user's center of gravity and movement of the pelvis while the user performs the core exercises. When the exercises are being performed properly, the pressure distribution should follow a consistent pattern. An aberrant change in exertion indicates that the user is improperly compensating during the exercises.
  • [0035]
    In one illustrative embodiment shown in FIGS. 2A and B, lower torso sensor 36 comprises a cushioned disc 53 with a plurality of air bladders 55, each having a sensor for monitoring its internal air pressure (or force or motion). When the user moves, air pressure (or force or motion) changes are detected and converted to electrical signals. Note that the bladders 55 could be filled with any type of fluid, (i.e., liquid or gas).
  • [0036]
    FIGS. 7A and 7B depict an alternative embodiment of a Lower torso sensor system 60. Lower torso sensor system 60 includes a sensor board 62 and a passive cushion 64 that rests on top of the sensor board 62. Sensor board 62 generally comprises a rigid platform that can sense exertions at different points on a surface 68. An example of such a device is a Wii Fit Board®. Also included is a mechanism 68 that communicates sensor readings e.g., via Bluetooth, infrared, etc., to an analysis system, e.g., a Wii console. Passive cushion 64 generally comprises a pliable (e.g., rubber, plastic, etc.) material that can be placed onto the surface 68 of the sensor board 62. The lower torso sensor system 60 as shown in FIG. 7B can be placed on, e.g., on a chair, with the user seated on the passive cushion 64. As the user performs pelvic exercises, the sensor board 62 detects exertions at different points on the sensor board 62 and communicates that data for analysis.
  • [0037]
    As noted the lower extremity sensor 38 monitors exertions of the lower extremity, e.g., lifting or pressing of the feet, thighs or legs during performance of the exercises. An illustrative unit such as that shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B may be comprised of contact sensors 57 for each foot that detect when exertions under the feet is reduced below or exceeds a preset threshold. As noted, detecting exertions may include detecting force, pressure or motion. There should be little or no movement of the feet when the exercises are performed properly. A detection of lower extremity movement indicates that the user is improperly compensating during the exercises. In an alternative embodiment, a accelerometer, such as a Wii controller, could be affixed to the user's leg, such as that shown by reference numbers 39 a-c in FIG. 1.
  • [0038]
    FIG. 4 depicts an illustrative interface for providing feedback to the user. A bar 50 is utilized to depict the position of the upper body and a grid 52 is utilized to show a pressure point of the pelvis. FIG. 5 depicts an animated feedback interface in which an avatar of the user is shown performing the exercises. Obviously, FIGS. 4 and 5 depict a few interface examples, and any type, design, layout, device, etc., may be utilized to provide feedback.
  • [0039]
    FIG. 6 depicts a flow chart of an illustrative methodology for implementing a sensor based pelvic exercise regimen. First, at S1, the user logs into (or otherwise activates) the exercise control system 18 and places himself/herself in a ready position with the sensors engaged. Next, the exercise regimen begins at S2. The user may for instance be instructed and guided through an exercise routine via a video interface. Sensor data is continuously collected and transmitted to the control system 18 at S3. The control system 18 then analyzes the data and determines if too much upper body movement is detected at S4, if the pelvic motion is outside expected movement thresholds at S5 and if a foot exertion is detected at S6. If any of these conditions occur, the user is notified via feedback at S7 (e.g., by a video alert, an audio message, a tactile feedback such as a vibration, etc.). If not, more sensor data is collected and the process repeats until the exercise regimen ends.
  • Further Illustrative Embodiments
  • [0040]
    The system described above could also be integrated into the seat of cars (such as taxi cabs), trucks, buses, airplanes, and office or task chairs. In the case where the system was being used by the operator of a vehicle, only the upper body and lower torso sensors would be used. In such an embodiment, a small, portable, handheld (or dashboard mounted) display could be used to provide the user with a prompt as to when it is time to take a break and do the exercises, as well as provide the user with the necessary feedback while the user conducts the exercises (as described above). The system can also record when and how often the user uses the system and if they are compliant with the exercise regimen. This will not only reduce the incidence of low back pain for a worker, but also reduce liability for the employer.
  • [0041]
    For workers who spend time sitting in front of a computer, a wireless connection (such as Bluetooth) could be made from the chair to the computer to provide the user with the same type of feedback as described above, but using the computer display rather than a portable one.
  • [0042]
    Moreover, although generally described with reference to exercises for strengthening the core, the system and method described herein could be utilized for any exercise in which a user is seated.
  • [0043]
    An illustrative list of embodiments and features are outlined below:
    • 1. Measurement of upper body, e.g., torso/shoulder, movement during exercise
      • a. Measure change in position via:
        • i. Electromagnetic tracking device(s)
        • ii. Infrared tracking device(s)
        • iii. Laser tracking device(s)
        • iv. One or more photo/image tracking device(s)
        • v. Inertial device(s)
        • vi. GPS device(s)
      • b. Measure change in angle.
        • i. Inclinometer(s)
        • ii. Accelerometer(s)
        • iii. Electromagnetic tracking device(s)
        • iv. Infrared tracking device(s)
        • v. Laser tracking device(s)
        • vi. One or more photo/image tracking device(s)
    • 2. Measurement of lower torso/pelvic movement during exercise
      • a. Measure change in pressure (or force or motion) distribution
        • i. Pressure transducer(s) in an air bladder(s) under pelvis
        • ii. Pressure transducer(s) in a fluid-filled chamber(s) under pelvis
        • iii. Flat array of pressure transducers under pelvis
        • iv. Array of contact switches under pelvis
      • b. Measure change in force distribution
        • i. Flat array of load cells under pelvis
        • ii. Force sensing resistor(s) under pelvis
        • iii. Array of springs with displacement sensors (F=kx) under pelvis
        • iv. Array of contact switches under pelvis
      • c. Measure change in position
        • i. Electromagnetic tracking device(s) attached to pelvis
        • ii. Infrared tracking device(s) attached to pelvis
        • iii. Laser tracking device(s) attached to pelvis
        • iv. One or more photo/image tracking device(s) attached to pelvis
        • v. Inertial device(s) attached to pelvis
        • vi. GPS device(s) attached to pelvis
        • vii. Array of contact switches under pelvis
      • d. Measure change in angle.
        • i. Inclinometer(s) attached to pelvis
        • ii. Accelerometer(s) attached to pelvis
        • iii. Electromagnetic tracking device(s) attached to pelvis
        • iv. Infrared tracking device(s) attached to pelvis
        • v. Laser tracking device(s) attached to pelvis
        • vi. One or more photo/image tracking device(s) attached to pelvis
    • 3. Measurement of lower extremity movement during exercise
      • a. Measure change in pressure (or force or motion) distribution
        • i. Pressure transducer(s) in an air bladder(s) under foot/feet
        • ii. Pressure transducer(s) in a fluid-filled chamber(s) under foot/feet
        • iii. Flat array of pressure transducers under pelvis
      • b. Measure change in force distribution
        • i. Flat array of load cells under pelvis
        • ii. Force sensing resistor(s)
        • iii. Array of springs with displacement sensors (F=kx)
      • c. Measure change in position
        • i. Electromagnetic tracking device(s)
        • ii. Infrared tracking device(s)
        • iii. Laser tracking device(s)
        • iv. One or more photo/image tracking device(s)
        • v. Inertial device(s)
        • vi. GPS device(s)
      • d. Measure change in angle.
        • i. Inclinometer(s)
        • ii. Accelerometer(s)
        • iii. Electromagnetic tracking device(s)
        • iv. Infrared tracking device(s)
        • v. Laser tracking device(s)
        • vi. One or more photo/image tracking device(s)
    • 4. A central module for processing the data.
      • a. Computer
      • b. Digital signal processor
      • c. Signal conditioning module
      • d. Game console
    • 5. A device for providing feedback to the user.
      • a. Video
        • i. Monitor(s) display information/instructions for the user.
        • ii. Television(s) display information/instructions for the user.
        • iii. A computer screen(s) display information/instructions for the user.
        • iv. A smart phone or tablet that days information/instructions for the user.
      • b. Audio
        • i. Sound generating device (speakers) provides audible information/instructions to the user.
        • ii. Television provides audible information/instructions to the user.
        • iii. A computer provides audible information/instructions to the user.
        • iv. Person audio system (i.e. iPod) provides audible information/instructions to the user.
        • v. A smart phone or tablet that provides audible information/instructions for the user.
      • c. Tactile/haptic
        • i. Vibration through the feet, pelvis, or torso/shoulders gives user feedback.
        • ii. Forces through the feet, pelvis, or torso/shoulders gives user feedback.
    • 6. A chair, stool, seat, cushion, disk, ball, or bladder on which a user sits. Said chair, stool, seat, cushion, disk, ball or bladder is comprised of:
      • a. A flat or curved surface on which the user sits which incorporates pressure, motion or force sensors.
      • b. A combination of a sensor board and a cushion.
    • 7. A pad, mat, platform, stool, footrest, ottoman on which a user places their feet or a device for detecting lower extremity comprised of:
      • a. A flat or curved surface on which the user places their feet which incorporates anything described herein.
      • b. A motion detector affixed to the user's lower extremity.
  • [0134]
    As will be appreciated by one skilled in the art, aspects of the present invention may be embodied as a system, method or computer program product. Accordingly, aspects of the present invention may take the form of an entirely hardware embodiment, an entirely software embodiment (including firmware, resident software, micro-code, etc.) or an embodiment combining software and hardware aspects that may all generally be referred to herein as a “circuit,” “module” or “system.” Furthermore, aspects of the present invention may take the form of a computer program product embodied in one or more computer readable medium(s) having computer readable program code embodied thereon.
  • [0135]
    Any combination of one or more computer readable medium(s) may be utilized. The computer readable medium may be a computer readable signal medium or a computer readable storage medium. A computer readable storage medium may be, for example, but not limited to, an electronic, magnetic, optical, electromagnetic, infrared, or semiconductor system, apparatus, or device, or any suitable combination of the foregoing. More specific examples (a non-exhaustive list) of the computer readable storage medium would include the following: an electrical connection having one or more wires, a portable computer diskette, a hard disk, a random access memory (RAM), a read-only memory (ROM), an erasable programmable read-only memory (EPROM or Flash memory), an optical fiber, a portable compact disc read-only memory (CD-ROM), DVD-ROM, Blu-Ray-ROM, an optical storage device, a magnetic storage device, or any suitable combination of the foregoing. In the context of this document, a computer readable storage medium may be any tangible medium that can contain, or store a program for use by or in connection with an instruction execution system, apparatus, or device.
  • [0136]
    A computer readable signal medium may include a propagated data signal with computer readable program code embodied therein, for example, in baseband or as part of a carrier wave. Such a propagated signal may take any of a variety of forms, including, but not limited to, electro-magnetic, optical, or any suitable combination thereof. A computer readable signal medium may be any computer readable medium that is not a computer readable storage medium and that can communicate, propagate, or transport a program for use by or in connection with an instruction execution system, apparatus, or device.
  • [0137]
    Program code embodied on a computer readable medium may be transmitted using any appropriate medium, including but not limited to wireless, wireline, optical fiber cable, RF, etc., or any suitable combination of the foregoing.
  • [0138]
    Computer program code for carrying out operations for aspects of the present invention may be written in any combination of one or more programming languages, including an object oriented programming language such as Java, Smalltalk, C++ or the like and conventional procedural programming languages, such as the “C” programming language or similar programming languages. The program code may execute entirely on the user's computer, partly on the user's computer, as a stand-alone software package, partly on the user's computer and partly on a remote computer or entirely on the remote computer or server. In the latter scenario, the remote computer may be connected to the user's computer through any type of network, including a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN), or the connection may be made to an external computer (for example, through the Internet using an Internet Service Provider).
  • [0139]
    Aspects of the present invention are described below with reference to flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams of methods, apparatus (systems) and computer program products according to embodiments of the invention. It will be understood that each block of the flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams, and combinations of blocks in the flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams, can be implemented by computer program instructions. These computer program instructions may be provided to a processor of a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or other programmable data processing apparatus to produce a machine, such that the instructions, which execute via the processor of the computer or other programmable data processing apparatus, create means for implementing the functions/acts specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.
  • [0140]
    These computer program instructions may also be stored in a computer readable medium that can direct a computer, other programmable data processing apparatus, or other devices to function in a particular manner, such that the instructions stored in the computer readable medium produce an article of manufacture including instructions which implement the function/act specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.
  • [0141]
    The computer program instructions may also be loaded onto a computer, other programmable data processing apparatus, or other devices to cause a series of operational steps to be performed on the computer, other programmable apparatus or other devices to produce a computer implemented process such that the instructions which execute on the computer or other programmable apparatus provide processes for implementing the functions/acts specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.
  • [0142]
    The flowchart and block diagrams in the Figures illustrate the architecture, functionality, and operation of possible implementations of systems, methods and computer program products according to various embodiments of the present invention. In this regard, each block in the flowchart or block diagrams may represent a module, segment, or portion of code, which comprises one or more executable instructions for implementing the specified logical function(s). It should also be noted that, in some alternative implementations, the functions noted in the block may occur out of the order noted in the figures. For example, two blocks shown in succession may, in fact, be executed substantially concurrently, or the blocks may sometimes be executed in the reverse order, depending upon the functionality involved. It will also be noted that each block of the block diagrams and/or flowchart illustration, and combinations of blocks in the block diagrams and/or flowchart illustration, can be implemented by special purpose hardware-based systems that perform the specified functions or acts, or combinations of special purpose hardware and computer instructions.
  • [0143]
    In addition, the core exercise control system 18 may be implemented by a service provider over a network such as the Internet/Web. In such an embodiment, a client-server infrastructure could be implemented.
  • [0144]
    The terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only and is not intended to be limiting of the invention. As used herein, the singular forms “a”, “an” and “the” are intended to include the plural forms as well, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. It will be further understood that the terms “comprises” and/or “comprising,” when used in this specification, specify the presence of stated features, integers, steps, operations, elements, and/or components, but do not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, integers, steps, operations, elements, components, and/or groups thereof.
  • [0145]
    The corresponding structures, materials, acts, and equivalents of all means or step plus function elements in the claims below are intended to include any structure, material, or act for performing the function in combination with other claimed elements as specifically claimed. The description of the present invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description, but is not intended to be exhaustive or limited to the invention in the form disclosed. Many modifications and variations will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. The embodiment was chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and the practical application, and to enable others of ordinary skill in the art to understand the invention for various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. A system for exercising core muscles, comprising:
    a first sensor for detecting an upper body exertion of a user engaged in an exercise;
    a second sensor for detecting a lower torso exertion of the user engaged in the exercise; and
    a control system for processing sensor data from the first and second sensor, said control system including:
    a user interface system for communicating information with the user;
    a data collection system for collecting sensor data;
    an analysis system for analyzing the sensor data and determining if the user is performing the exercise in a technically correct manner; and
    a feedback system for alerting the user in response to the exercise not being performed in the technically correct manner.
  2. 2. The system of claim 1, further comprising a third sensor for detecting a lower extremity exertion of the user engaged in the exercise, wherein the control system processes sensor data from the third sensor.
  3. 3. The system of claim 2, wherein the lower extremity exertion includes at least one of a movement and an exerted pressure from at least one of a foot, a leg, and a thigh.
  4. 4. The system of claim 1, wherein the upper body exertion includes at least one of a movement and an exerted pressure from at least one of a torso and a shoulder.
  5. 5. The system of claim 1, wherein the lower torso exertion includes at least one of a pelvic movement and an exerted pressure.
  6. 6. The system of claim 1, wherein the first and second sensors are integrated into a seat or a cushion adapted to be placed on a seat.
  7. 7. The system of claim 1, wherein the second sensor comprises a sensor board and a passive cushion adapted for placement onto the sensor board.
  8. 8. A method for exercising core muscles, comprising:
    providing a user interface system for communicating information with a user engaged in an exercise;
    collecting data from a first sensor adapted to detect an upper body exertion of the user engaged in the exercise;
    collecting data from a second sensor adapted to detect a lower torso exertion of the user engaged in the exercise;
    analyzing the data from the first and second sensor to determine whether the user is performing the exercise in a technically correct manner; and
    alerting the user in response to the exercise not being performed in the technically correct manner.
  9. 9. The method of claim 8, further comprising:
    collecting data from a third sensor adapted to detect a lower extremity exertion of the user engaged in the exercise;
    analyzing the data from the third sensor to determine whether the user is performing the exercise in the technically correct manner.
  10. 10. The method of claim 9, wherein the lower extremity exertion includes at least one of a movement and an exerted pressure from at least one of a foot, a leg and a thigh.
  11. 11. The method of claim 8, wherein the upper body exertion includes at least one of a movement and an exerted pressure from at least one of a torso and a shoulder.
  12. 12. The method of claim 8, wherein the lower torso exertion includes at least one of a movement and an exerted pressure.
  13. 13. The method of claim 8, wherein the user interface includes at least one of an audio, video and tactile interface.
  14. 14. A program product stored on a tangible computer readable medium, which when executed by a computer system, facilitates exercising of core muscles, comprising:
    program code for providing a user interface system for communicating information with a user engaged in an exercise;
    program code for collecting data from a first sensor adapted to detect an upper body exertion of the user engaged in the exercise;
    program code for collecting data from a second sensor adapted to detect a lower torso exertion of the user engaged in the exercise;
    program code for analyzing the data from the first and second sensor to determine whether the user is performing the exercise in a technically correct manner; and
    program code for providing feedback to the user regarding the exercise not being performed in the technically correct manner.
  15. 15. The program product of claim 14, further comprising:
    program code for collecting data from a third sensor adapted to detect a lower extremity exertion of the user engaged in the exercise; and
    program code for analyzing the data from the third sensor.
  16. 16. The program product of claim 15, wherein the lower extremity exertion includes at least one of a movement and an exerted pressure from at least one of a foot, a leg and a thigh.
  17. 17. The program product of claim 14, wherein the upper body exertion includes at least one of a movement and an exerted pressure from at least one of a torso and a shoulder.
  18. 18. The program product of claim 14, wherein the lower torso exertion includes at least one of a movement and an exerted pressure.
  19. 19. The program product of claim 14, wherein the user interface includes at least one of an audio, video and tactile interface.
  20. 20. A sensor system, comprising:
    a sensor board adapted to detect exertions at different areas on a surface of the sensor board and communicate the exertions to an analysis system; and
    a passive cushion adapted to be removably placed on the sensor board to provide a seat for a user;
    wherein lower torso movements by the user seated on the passive cushion result in detected exertions by the sensor board that are indicative of the user performing an exercise in a prescribed manner.
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