US20140221160A1 - Sensor Device and System for Fitness Equipment - Google Patents

Sensor Device and System for Fitness Equipment Download PDF

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Publication number
US20140221160A1
US20140221160A1 US14/343,379 US201214343379A US2014221160A1 US 20140221160 A1 US20140221160 A1 US 20140221160A1 US 201214343379 A US201214343379 A US 201214343379A US 2014221160 A1 US2014221160 A1 US 2014221160A1
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Prior art keywords
sensor
sensor device
user
wheel
pedal
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Abandoned
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US14/343,379
Inventor
Marc Scott Hardy
Andrei Richard Frank
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Paofit Holdings Pte Ltd
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Paofit Holdings Pte. Ltd.
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Priority to US201161532464P priority Critical
Application filed by Paofit Holdings Pte. Ltd. filed Critical Paofit Holdings Pte. Ltd.
Priority to US14/343,379 priority patent/US20140221160A1/en
Priority to PCT/IB2012/002552 priority patent/WO2013034987A2/en
Assigned to PAOFIT HOLDINGS PTE LTD. reassignment PAOFIT HOLDINGS PTE LTD. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: FRANK, ANDREI RICHARD, HARDY, MARC SCOTT
Publication of US20140221160A1 publication Critical patent/US20140221160A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B24/00Electric or electronic controls for exercising apparatus of preceding groups; Controlling or monitoring of exercises, sportive games, training or athletic performances
    • A63B24/0062Monitoring athletic performances, e.g. for determining the work of a user on an exercise apparatus, the completed jogging or cycling distance
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/103Detecting, measuring or recording devices for testing the shape, pattern, colour, size or movement of the body or parts thereof, for diagnostic purposes
    • A61B5/11Measuring movement of the entire body or parts thereof, e.g. head or hand tremor, mobility of a limb
    • A61B5/1118Determining activity level
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B5/00Detecting, measuring or recording for diagnostic purposes; Identification of persons
    • A61B5/68Arrangements of detecting, measuring or recording means, e.g. sensors, in relation to patient
    • A61B5/6887Arrangements of detecting, measuring or recording means, e.g. sensors, in relation to patient mounted on external non-worn devices, e.g. non-medical devices
    • A61B5/6895Sport equipment
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61BDIAGNOSIS; SURGERY; IDENTIFICATION
    • A61B2560/00Constructional details of operational features of apparatus; Accessories for medical measuring apparatus
    • A61B2560/02Operational features
    • A61B2560/0204Operational features of power management
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B24/00Electric or electronic controls for exercising apparatus of preceding groups; Controlling or monitoring of exercises, sportive games, training or athletic performances
    • A63B24/0062Monitoring athletic performances, e.g. for determining the work of a user on an exercise apparatus, the completed jogging or cycling distance
    • A63B2024/0065Evaluating the fitness, e.g. fitness level or fitness index
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B21/00Exercising apparatus for developing or strengthening the muscles or joints of the body by working against a counterforce, with or without measuring devices
    • A63B21/005Exercising apparatus for developing or strengthening the muscles or joints of the body by working against a counterforce, with or without measuring devices using electromagnetic or electric force-resisters
    • A63B21/0053Exercising apparatus for developing or strengthening the muscles or joints of the body by working against a counterforce, with or without measuring devices using electromagnetic or electric force-resisters using alternators or dynamos
    • A63B21/0054Exercising apparatus for developing or strengthening the muscles or joints of the body by working against a counterforce, with or without measuring devices using electromagnetic or electric force-resisters using alternators or dynamos for charging a battery
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B22/00Exercising apparatus specially adapted for conditioning the cardio-vascular system, for training agility or co-ordination of movements
    • A63B22/0076Rowing machines for conditioning the cardio-vascular system
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B22/00Exercising apparatus specially adapted for conditioning the cardio-vascular system, for training agility or co-ordination of movements
    • A63B22/02Exercising apparatus specially adapted for conditioning the cardio-vascular system, for training agility or co-ordination of movements with movable endless bands, e.g. treadmills
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B22/00Exercising apparatus specially adapted for conditioning the cardio-vascular system, for training agility or co-ordination of movements
    • A63B22/06Exercising apparatus specially adapted for conditioning the cardio-vascular system, for training agility or co-ordination of movements with support elements performing a rotating cycling movement, i.e. a closed path movement
    • A63B22/0605Exercising apparatus specially adapted for conditioning the cardio-vascular system, for training agility or co-ordination of movements with support elements performing a rotating cycling movement, i.e. a closed path movement performing a circular movement, e.g. ergometers
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B22/00Exercising apparatus specially adapted for conditioning the cardio-vascular system, for training agility or co-ordination of movements
    • A63B22/06Exercising apparatus specially adapted for conditioning the cardio-vascular system, for training agility or co-ordination of movements with support elements performing a rotating cycling movement, i.e. a closed path movement
    • A63B22/0664Exercising apparatus specially adapted for conditioning the cardio-vascular system, for training agility or co-ordination of movements with support elements performing a rotating cycling movement, i.e. a closed path movement performing an elliptic movement
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2220/00Measuring of physical parameters relating to sporting activity
    • A63B2220/10Positions
    • A63B2220/16Angular positions
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2220/00Measuring of physical parameters relating to sporting activity
    • A63B2220/30Speed
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2220/00Measuring of physical parameters relating to sporting activity
    • A63B2220/40Acceleration
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2220/00Measuring of physical parameters relating to sporting activity
    • A63B2220/50Force related parameters
    • A63B2220/51Force
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2220/00Measuring of physical parameters relating to sporting activity
    • A63B2220/80Special sensors, transducers or devices therefor
    • A63B2220/805Optical or opto-electronic sensors
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2220/00Measuring of physical parameters relating to sporting activity
    • A63B2220/80Special sensors, transducers or devices therefor
    • A63B2220/806Video cameras
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2225/00Other characteristics of sports equipment
    • A63B2225/20Other characteristics of sports equipment with means for remote communication, e.g. internet or the like
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2225/00Other characteristics of sports equipment
    • A63B2225/50Wireless data transmission, e.g. by radio transmitters or telemetry

Abstract

Embodiments of the present disclosure provide a sensor devices and corresponding systems for various fitness equipments to determine information corresponding to one or more activities of a user utilizing the equipments. The information may include speed, pressure, stride, and one or more other activities of the user. In an embodiment, the information may be measured when the sensor device is in constant contact with a fitness equipment (treadmill) but is not fastened to the exercise treadmill equipment. The information may be measured by one or more sensors that may be embedded in the sensor device. The measured information may be transmitted from the sensor device to data processor of an external device. Such information corresponding to various activities of the user may be utilized further for various applications.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application relates to U.S. Provisional Patent Application, “System and method for merging objects with a real-life video stream,” filed on Sep. 8, 2011, Ser. No. 61/532,464, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • The present invention generally relates to sensors technology, and in particular, to a sensor device and system for detecting user information through fitness equipment.
  • BACKGROUND ART
  • There is a growing interest in developing entertainment or other types of application for fitness equipment. Some equipment manufacturers have added viewing screens, plug-in capabilities for music players such as the iPod or iPhone, and even Internet connecting capabilities to some fitness equipment machines. In some cases the information about the user's performance is logged in such a way as to be accessible at a later point in time or shared with others on the web. Further, there is interest in using the fitness equipment as part of a wider entertainment or gaming experience, where the activity itself (for example jogging, cycling, etc.) or parameters thereof (for example speed, direction, force) are used as controls of computer games, video players or other entertaining add-ons to the exercise activity.
  • Further, information regarding user's exercise pattern may need to be recorded for determining health status of the user. For example, the exercise parameters such as speed, direction, pressure may need to be checked regularly so as to keep the health of the user under control. Existing systems provide options for ways to open up or bolt on permanent hardware add-ons to these machines for measuring some parameters such as speed of the user, direction of the user and calories burnt by the user. However opening up a particular equipment to add any functionality is a complicated, expensive and time consuming task, and will in most cases permanently alter or damage the equipment. For example, if ten equipments are placed in a gym then each equipment needs to be configured separately to provide the functionality for measuring some parameters related to user's performance on the equipment. This adds on to the expense of any fitness centre in configuring or reconfiguring the equipment for measuring performance of the user.
  • Based on the aforementioned and to provide further related functionalities and convenience, there is a need for means by which usage information related to a user (such as speed, direction, force, incline, etc.) can be extracted real time from a fitness equipment machine without altering or damaging the equipment itself and with minimal fitting requirement. Thus, the means should be arranged in minimal time and cost to provide an ease in determining various information related to the user.
  • DISCLOSURE OF THE EMBODIMENTS
  • Embodiments for the present invention provide a sensor system for collecting user activity data from an exercise apparatus. The sensor system may include a wheel mechanism configured to be in physical contact with a moving tread of the exercise apparatus for measuring a plurality of characteristics corresponding to the moving tread. Further, the sensor system may include a plurality of sensors configured for determining a plurality of parameters corresponding to one or more activities performed by a user of the exercise apparatus. The plurality of parameters may be determined based on the measured plurality of characteristics of the moving tread. Further, the sensor may include a data communication interface for transmitting the measured plurality of parameters to a data processor. Herein, the physical contact between the wheel mechanism and the moving tread is maintained by a spring-based mechanism.
  • Hereinabove, the exercise apparatus may have a tread (such as a treadmill) that needs to be in contact with the sensor device. The abovementioned sensor system may be implemented by a sensor device for determining information corresponding to activities of the user on the exercise apparatus.
  • Further, embodiments of the present invention provide a sensor device for collecting user activity data from an exercise apparatus. The sensor device includes a housing comprising multiple layers containing a plurality of sensors, a circuit board and a power source. The housing may be attached to a pedal of the exercise apparatus. The plurality of sensors measures one or more parameters corresponding to one or more activities performed by a user on the pedal of the exercise apparatus. Further, the sensor device may include a data communication interface coupled to the circuit board, the data communication interface configured for transmitting the measured parameters to a data processor.
  • Herein above, the multiple layers may include an upper layer against which the user's foot is placed and a lower layer that is placed against a pedal surface of the exercise apparatus. Further, sensors and data communication interface, and a board-based electrical circuit for managing the power sources, sensor data and data communication interface may be provided. Also, a system may be provided to attach the housing (plate-type structure) to the pedal of the exercise apparatus. Additionally, in an embodiment, the sensor device may implement a system to determine information corresponding to activities of the user.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • Having thus described the invention in general terms, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, and wherein
  • FIG. 1 is an exemplary block diagram representing implementation of a sensor system, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 2 depicts an exemplary implementation of a sensor device in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 3 depicts a more detailed diagram of the sensor device in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 4 illustrates a more detailed diagram of an alternative structure of the sensor device in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 5 illustrates a process of measuring tilt or angle of a treadmill using the sensor device in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 6 illustrates components of a base of the sensor device in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 7 illustrates a detailed view of a Primary Wheel of the sensor device in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 8 illustrates a schematic diagram of the Main Circuit Board in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 9 illustrates a schematic diagram of the Sub Circuit Board in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure;
  • FIGS. 10A, 10B and 10C illustrate a primary wheel, a main circuit board and a sub circuit board in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure;
  • FIGS. 11A and 11B depict pictorial view of the sensor device in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 12 illustrates implementation of the sensor device by utilizing an infrared sensor, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 13 illustrates a sensor device depicting the underside of a pedal plate in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 14 illustrates a sensor device depicting the top side of the pedal plate in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure;
  • FIG. 15 illustrates a side view of peizo-based sensors that connects to the pedal plate in accordance with some embodiments of the present invention;
  • FIG. 16 is a diagram depicting underside view of the piezo-based sensor that may be utilized for the pedal plate in accordance with some embodiments of the present invention;
  • FIG. 17 illustrates an implementation of the sensor device utilizing a pedal plate in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure; and
  • FIG. 18 illustrates a flow chart depicting power management in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure.
  • MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION AND INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY
  • Illustrative embodiments of the invention now will be described more fully henceforth with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which some, but not all embodiments of the invention are shown. Indeed, the invention may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will satisfy applicable legal requirements. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.
  • The present disclosure provides a device implementing a sensor system that may be utilized with an exercise apparatus for determining and transferring information corresponding to one or more activities performed by a user on the exercise apparatus. The exercise apparatus may include, but is not limited to, an apparatus that involves usage of a tread, such as a treadmill and any apparatus involving usage of pedals, such as elliptical machines, rowers, cycles, bicycles and the like. In an embodiment, the device implementing the sensor system may be placed under the exercise apparatus in a way that the device comes in contact with the tread of the exercise apparatus but does not require configuring the exercise apparatus in anyway. The device may measure data related to the user's activities on the tread of the exercise apparatus through variations in the moving tread.
  • In another embodiment, the device may include independent plate sensors for various exercise apparatuses such as, but are not limited to, elliptical machines, rowers and cycles. An independent pedal plate sensor may include a flexible plate that may be placed on a pedal area of any fitness machine having a pedal. The user may apply pressure to the pedal or may move thereon. Such pressure and movement may be measured by the device having plate sensors.
  • The measured data may be stored and/or transmitted to an external data processor. The measured data may help in determining user's information such as, but is not limited to, movement (e.g., cadence) and force (pressure). In an embodiment, the data may be utilized further to know the health status of the user utilizing the exercise apparatus for fitness.
  • Referring now to FIG. 1 that illustrates an exemplary block diagram 100 representing implementation of a sensor system 102, in accordance with various embodiments of the present disclosure. The sensor system 102 may be a device or implemented by a device for determining and transmitting data related to a user's activities, on an exercise apparatus 104, to any external data processor 106 of any external device such as a PC, a laptop, a smart-phone and a like. As represented through a connection link, the device or the sensor system 102 may be in physical contact with the exercise apparatus 104. For example, the exercise apparatus 104 may be a treadmill and the device implementing the sensor system 102 may be placed on the floor directly underneath the treadmill where a section of the tread on the underside is exposed.
  • The sensor system 102 may include a wheel mechanism 108 that may be linked with a plurality of sensors 110 for determining information corresponding to the user of the exercise apparatus 104 based on the functioning of wheel mechanism 108. The determined information (hereinafter may interchangeably be referred to as ‘sensor data’) may be transmitted to the external processor 106 through a communication interface 112.
  • The wheel mechanism 108 may be in physical contact with a moving tread of the exercise apparatus for measuring a plurality of characteristics related to the moving tread. The characteristics related to the moving tread may include, but are not limited to, variations in speed of the moving tread, and tilt of the moving tread. The wheel mechanism 108 may include a primary wheel and a secondary wheel that may be utilized for measuring speed and tilt of the moving tread. In an embodiment, the secondary wheel may be smaller in size and lighter than the primary wheel. The wheels (primary wheel and the secondary wheel) may be placed in contact with the tread from underside of the tread of the exercise apparatus 104 as the wheels mechanism 108 may allow the wheels to swing upwards to the underside of the tread.
  • Further, the wheels mechanism may include support means such as swing arms with each wheel. For example, the primary wheel may be connected to a primary swing arm from one side; and the secondary wheel may be connected to one side of a secondary swing arm. Further, the secondary wheel may be connected to the primary wheel through the other side thereof. Hereinafter, the primary wheel and the secondary wheel may collectively be referred to as ‘wheels’. The concept of the primary wheel and the secondary wheel is explained in detail further in conjunction with FIGS. 3, 4, 5 and 7 of this disclosure.
  • Further, the primary wheel may include a sub circuit board (explained further in conjunction with FIG. 7) that may include the sensors 110 to determine a plurality of parameters corresponding to one or more activities performed by a user of the exercise apparatus. The plurality of parameters may be determined by the sensors 110 based on the measured plurality of characteristics of the moving tread. For example, rotation speed of the primary wheel may increase or decrease based on the moving tread of the exercise apparatus 104. Similarly, the height of the wheels may vary based on variation in the angle of the moving tread. Thus, accordingly, based on the characteristics of the moving tread (such as speed and height of the moving tread, downward force applied (on the wheels) by the moving tread and the like), as determined by the wheels mechanism, the sensors 110 may detect one or more activities performed by the user on the moving tread. For example, the sensors 110 may determine the speed of the user; and pressure/force applied by the user by analyzing rotation speed of the primary wheel, variation in heights between the primary and secondary wheels, downwards pressure applied to the moving tread by the user on the tread.
  • Further, a range of sensors may be used to measure the parameters related to activities of the user as explained in detail in conjunction with FIGS. 2 and 7. The measured plurality of parameters may be transmitted to the external processor 106 via the communication interface 112.
  • The communication interface 112 may utilize wireless data transmission technology to transmit the determined sensor data to a remote data processor. Such wireless data transmission technology may include, but is not limited to, radio frequency, blue tooth, Wi-Fi, NFC (Near Field Communications) and infrared. Further, the communication interface 112 may utilize a wired connection by using USB HID protocol or the like to transmit the determined sensor data to the data processor 106.
  • In an embodiment, the communication interface 112 may include a transceiver that may be placed onto the floor near the exercise apparatus 104 for receiving the sensor data and transmitting the received sensor data to the external device (such as a PC or a laptop and the like). For example, a transceiver may be placed on the floor close to pedal plates (of the exercise apparatus) for receiving the sensor data wirelessly from the pedal plates and then transmitting it wirelessly or via wired transmission, to the external device that may include a software for using the received data (sensor data). Further, in an embodiment, the sensor data may be processed by a processor (not shown) of the sensor system 102. For example, the sensor system 102 may utilize an inbuilt processor to convert Analog signals of the sensor data into digital signals before transmitting the data to the external processor 106. Similarly, a USB HID transceiver may be plugged into the external device, having the processor 106, to receive the sensor data and transmit the received sensor data to another external device.
  • Further, the sensor system 102 may include a power source 114 and a main circuit board, such as a circuit board 116. The power source 114 may be utilized for powering the sensors 110 and the communication interface 112. The power source 114 and the communication interface 112 may be managed by a circuit board 116. In an embodiment, power source 114 may be implemented through a power management circuit that may be managed through the circuit board 116. The circuit board 116 is explained further in conjunction with FIG. 6.
  • FIG. 2 depicts an exemplary implementation of a sensor device in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure. As shown, a sensor device 202 may be placed below an exercise apparatus, such as a treadmill 204 to make a physical contact with a tread 206 of the treadmill 204. Such physical contact between the sensor device 202 and the tread of the treadmill 204 may be required for measuring data corresponding to activities of a user on the treadmill 204. For example, if a user changes an angle of the treadmill 204, increases a speed of the treadmill 204 or performs any other activity on the treadmill 204 then the sensor device 202 may sense the user's activities accordingly.
  • Further, the sensor device 202 may transmit the data corresponding to the user's activities through radio frequency signal transmission 208 to a USB HID radio frequency transceiver 210 that may be placed into an external device 212. The external device 212 may include, but is not limited to, a PC, a laptop, and a mobile device. The external device 212 may be placed in the vicinity of the treadmill 204 to receive the data from the sensor device 202 and to transmit the data further to any other device.
  • The sensor device 202 may include a base 214 that may be placed on the floor under the treadmill 204. The base 214 may include a main circuit board, a power management circuit, and a communication interface. Further, the base 214 may be linked to a wheel mechanism (including, but is not limited to, a primary wheel and a secondary wheel) through a primary swing arm. Hereinafter, the primary wheel and the secondary wheel may collectively be referred to as ‘wheels’. The primary swing arm 216 may be attached to the base at one end and to a primary wheel at another end so that a force that may be applied to the primary swing arm 216 may cause the other arm to swing in upward direction until the wheels (the primary wheel and the secondary wheel) make contact with the underside of the tread of the treadmill 204.
  • Further, the primary swing arm 216 may be attached to a secondary swing arm axis at the other end. The secondary swing arm axis corresponds to a secondary swing arm that may be attached to the primary wheel at one end and a secondary wheel at another end. The secondary swing arm may also be linked to a sub circuit board that may be located next to the primary wheel. Thus, the secondary swing arm may be linked to the primary swing arm 216 at the secondary swing axis that may be positioned in a manner such that the primary wheel and the secondary wheel may remain in suspended broadly horizontal balance (like traditional scales).
  • The wheels may measure the characteristics related to tread's movements and accordingly the sensor device 202 may determine various parameters corresponding to one or more activities of the user of the treadmill 204. The concept of the wheels (the primary wheel and the secondary wheel) is explained further in conjunction with FIGS. 3, 4, 7 and 10A.
  • In an embodiment, the sensor device 202 may include a pressure pad 218 between floor and the tread 206. The pressure pad 218 may be connected to an extendable detachable electrical cord 220 that may be attached to the base 214 and ultimately connected to the main circuit board of the sensor device 202. The pressure pad 218 may include a pressure sensor to determine if actually anyone is present and moving on the treadmill when the treadmill is in motion. A secondary benefit of the pressure pad 218 (may be referred to as ‘pressure sensor 218’) may include an ability to derive the runners pace and therefore stride (when combined with speed data).
  • Further, the pressure sensor 218 may be connected to an extendable cord that may be attached to the base 214 and thereby ultimately linked to the main circuit board (not shown) located in the base 214. The pressure pad (or the pressure sensor) 218 may be placed directly under one of the load bearing points of contact between the treadmill and the ground on which it is placed as illustrated by FIG. 2. The pressure pad 218 may measure a change in pressure and relay this data back to the main circuit board of the base 214. In an embodiment, the pressure sensor may include a tailor-made piezo sensor pressure pad that may include reverse amplification of the sensor output signal. The pressure sensor 218 may be designed to require a degree of pressure to be applied to determine the force applied by a user of the treadmill. For example, a light touch may not be utilized in determining a load and thereby enhance accuracy in determining exact load through the user's weight/activities when the user uses the treadmill (or any other similar exercise apparatus).
  • Further, information corresponding to the force or pressure applied by the user may be determined by utilizing the pressure sensor. The information may be analyzed to measure various parameters corresponding to activities of the user. The measured parameters may be transmitted through the base 214 to the external device 212 that may have a software to receive and further utilize the received data for various applications. The measured parameters may determine if there is a frequent change in pressure exerted by the user that may be attributed to activities of the user on the treadmill. The sensor device 202 may transmit its sensor readings (data) either directly (i.e. wired) with a remote computer through a USB interface 210 that may be using USB HID protocol and transmitting 50 data packets per second. Further, the sensor data may be transmitted wirelessly using a monolithic RF GFSK transceiver which may receive and transmit data intelligently. In an embodiment, the working ISM frequency band of the monolithic RF GFSK transceiver may vary between 2.4 and 2.5 GHz.
  • It may be appreciated by a person skilled in the art that the device may have a built-in frequency synthesizer, power amplifier, crystal oscillator, modulator and other functional modules. By using Radio Frequency transmission 208, the sensor device 202 may transmit data for up to 20 meters and may require no line of sight. Further, in an embodiment, the sensor device 202 itself may include a software application (that may be embedded in the base 214 (of the sensor device 202)) to analyze the sensor's data corresponding to activities (such as pressure exerted) performed by the user on the treadmill (or any other similar exercise apparatus).
  • Further, in an embodiment, the information determined by the sensor device 202 may be processed by an inbuilt processor and/or an external processor. For example, the sensor device 202 may include a processor for converting an analog signal into a digital signal prior to transmitting the determined information to the external device 212. In another embodiment, the sensor device 202 may transmit the determined information to the external device 212 that may have a software application to utilize the information corresponding to the user's activities.
  • Referring to FIG. 3 that depicts a more detailed diagram of the sensor device 202 in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure. As shown, the sensor device 202 may communicate with an external device 212, such as a laptop, through a USB interface 210 utilized by the external device. The sensor device 202 may be placed under an exercise apparatus, such as treadmill, as explained previously in conjunction with FIG. 2.
  • The sensor device 202 may include a base 302 that may be placed on the floor 304. The base 302 may be in contact with a wheel mechanism containing a primary wheel 306 and a secondary wheel 308. The secondary wheel 308 may be smaller and lighter than the primary wheel 306. Hereinafter, the primary wheel 306 and the secondary wheel 308 may collectively be referred to as ‘wheels’. The base 302 may be connected to the primary wheel 306 through a main swing arm 310 (may interchangeably be referred to as a ‘primary arm’). The main swing arm 310 may further be attached to an axis of a secondary swing arm 314. Further, a primary spring system 316 may be fixed to an axis of the main swing arm 310 so that a force that may be applied to the main swing arm 310 may cause another end of the primary swing arm 310 to move upward until the wheels make contact with underside of the treadmill's tread, such as the tread 206.
  • Further, the secondary swing arm 312 may be connected to the primary wheel 306 at one end and the secondary wheel 308 at another end. Further, the secondary swing arm 312 may be attached to a sub circuit board 318 that may be located alongside the primary wheel 306. Additionally, the secondary swing arm 312 may be linked to the primary swing arm 310 at the axis 314 of the secondary swing arm. The axis 314 may be positioned such that the two wheels at either end remain in suspended broadly horizontal balance.
  • In an embodiment, the primary wheel 306 may contain plurality of magnets that may be placed in sequence of alternative directions, such as north, south, north . . . and so on. Further, the primary wheel 306 may contain internal bearings that may enable the wheel to spin around a fixed axis. An image of the primary wheel is provided in FIG. 10A.
  • Further, the base 302 may include a main circuit board 320 that may be a 32-bit embedded chip based on the ARM Cortex-M3 Kernel. The main circuit board 320 may manage a USB interface, a power management circuit, a radio frequency (wireless) interface, pressure measurement circuit and RS232 communication interface. In an embodiment, the RS232 communication interface may receive data packets every 13 ms from the sub circuit board 318. Further, the RS232 may be a source of power for the sub circuit board 318. The base 302 may further include a rechargeable lithium battery 322 (located near to the main circuit board 320) and a USB input port 324 that may link to the Main Circuit Board 320. The USB port 324 may provide (optional) a data transfer link and a power source to recharge the battery. Further, a pressure pad 218 on an extendable detachable electrical cord 220 may be attached to the base 302 and ultimately be connected to the main circuit board 320. A schematic of the main circuit board 320 is provided in FIG. 8 and an image of the main circuit board is provided in FIG. 10B.
  • Further, the sub circuit board 318 may be an 8-bit microcontroller among STM8S series of ST Microelectronics. The Sub Circuit Board may include an RS232 interface that may connect via a wire link to the main circuit board 320, a speed sensor circuit (not shown) and tilt angle circuit (not shown). A schematic of the Sub Circuit Board is provided in FIG. 9 and an image of the Sub Circuit Board is provided in FIG. 10C.
  • Further, a radio frequency signal transmission 208 may be from the main circuit board 320 that may be received by a USB HID radio frequency transceiver 210 that is placed into the external device 212 (such as a laptop, a desktop, a smart-phone and the like) positioned in the vicinity of the exercise apparatus, such as a treadmill.
  • The sensor device 202 may be implemented to measure activities performed by a user of the exercise apparatus by maintaining contact with an exposed underside of the tread. As shown the sensor device 202 may be placed on the floor 304 making contact with the tread 206 of the treadmill. The main swing arm 310 may lift the primary wheel 306 and the secondary Wheel 308 until both the swing arms make contact with the underside of the tread 206. It may be noted that the sensor device 202 may be placed in a position to enable the wheels clear unimpeded access to the tread so that the wheels do not come into contact with the treadmill's frame. The sustained upward force of the primary swing arm 310 may ensure that both the primary wheel 30 and the secondary wheel 308 retain contact with the tread even if the tread bounces, changes angle or changes height. The height of the base 302 may be extended or the main swing arm 310 may be extended to further expand the height of the sensor device 202.
  • FIG. 4 illustrates a more detailed diagram of an alternative structure of the sensor device in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure. FIG. 4 includes a sensor device 202 that may include a wheel mechanism (containing a primary wheel 306 and a secondary wheel 308, as explained previously in conjunction with FIG. 3) to measure characteristics (such as the variation in the movement and tilt) of a tread, a plurality of sensors for sensing and collecting the information corresponding to a user of an exercise apparatus (such as a treadmill) based on the measured characteristic. The collected information may be processed and provided to an external device (such as the external device 212) through a communication interface (such as a USB port 324).
  • Further, the collected information may be processed by transforming analog signal information into digital signal information prior to transmitting the information to the external device 212. In an embodiment, the collected information may directly be sent to the external device 212 having suitable software to utilize the collected information for any required application. Due to this, no prior processing of the collected information may be required before sending the information to the external device 212. For example, if the information corresponding to user's activities is required for entertainment purposes or measuring health status for the user, the collected information may be processed and provided to a software application that may be required for analyzing the collected information for the required application, such as for providing entertainment, determining the health status of the user and so on.
  • The external device 212 may include a USB HID radio frequency transceiver for receiving the collected information from the sensor device and the received information may further be transmitted to any other device for the required usage. Additionally, the USB HID radio frequency transceiver may be utilized to transmit initial data values to the sensor device 202 for further processing of the collected information. Thus, it may be appreciated by a person skilled in the art that the sensor device 202 may further be advanced according to the required usage of the user's activities data (as collected by the sensor device 202).
  • A key objective of the structure outlined in FIG. 2 is to keep both the primary wheel and the secondary wheel in contact with a tread regardless of the height, tilt or bounce of the treadmill. The present disclosure may provide a number of different embodiments for maintaining the contacts of the wheels with the tread. FIG. 4 may outline one such embodiment that may be understood more clearly in conjunction with descriptions of FIGS. 2 and 3.
  • Specifically, FIG. 4 shows that the primary wheel 306 is placed at the end of the main swing arm 310 instead of the end of the secondary swing arm 312 (as shown in FIG. 2). The secondary swing arm axis 314 is changed so that it may also double up as the primary wheel axis. Further, the secondary swing arm axis 314 may also have an extension bit that may be linked to a position cable 402. The primary wheel 306 may rotate around the secondary swing arm axis 314 with the axis itself only rotating with the movement of the secondary swing arm 312. Further, at the secondary swing arm axis 314, a secondary spring system 404 may be attached that may apply an upward force to the secondary swing arm 312 so that the secondary wheel 308 may also be forced up.
  • The position cable 402 may be connected at one end to an axis of the main swing arm 310 located at the base 302 and at the other end the secondary swing arm 312. The position cable 402 may be of a fixed length and set such that the highest point of the secondary wheel 308 is higher than the highest point of the primary wheel 306. The difference in height of the primary wheel 306 and the secondary wheel 308 may approximate between 20 and 30 degrees (i.e. a bit more than the maximum tilt of treadmills). Further, the secondary wheel 308 may maintain the higher position via the upward force applied from the secondary spring system 404. In an embodiment, if the treadmill tread is at a tilt of 25 degrees, then the wheels will remain in the same position relative to each other. If the treadmill tread is at a lesser angel or horizontal, then the small wheel (secondary wheel 308) may be correspondingly forced down. Further, in case, the small wheel is forced down, there is some slack built up in the position cable 402, however, the slack may be minor. Further, the process of measuring tilt or angle of a treadmill using the sensor device 202 is explained further in conjunction with FIG. 5.
  • FIG. 5 illustrates a process of measuring tilt or angle of a treadmill using the sensor device in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure. As shown, a tread 206 of an exercise apparatus (treadmill) has changed from an original horizontal position (represented by a dark grey line) to a new tilted position (shown by a dotted line). In such tilted position of the tread, a primary wheel 306 and a secondary wheel 308 may be pressed up against the tread surface 206 (dotted line) and thus may change their vertical heights relative to one another.
  • Further, as shown the secondary wheel 308 may be lifted higher than the primary wheel 306. The change in heights of the secondary wheel 308 is illustrated by an arrow 502. Further, the secondary swing arm 312 may also change its angle as the secondary swing arm 312 is linked to the axis of both wheels. This change in the secondary swing arm 312 is depicted as change in its position from a dotted line of the secondary swing arm 312 to a grey solid line of the secondary swings arm 312. Further, the change in the angle of the secondary swing arm 312 may be measured by an angle sensor located on a sub circuit board 318 that is attached to the secondary swing arm 312. This change in the angle of the secondary swing arm 312 may provide data that may be needed to calculate the tilt of the treadmill.
  • In this embodiment, the angle sensor that may include a G-Cell capacitive tri-axel accelerometer (MEMS) to measure accelerated forces along the X, Y and Z axis. The sensor may be calibrated for a non-linear angle measurement and the analog data output. The analog data output may then be converted into a digital data, via a separate analogue-to-digital converter, before being transmitted to the main circuit board 320 via an RS232 interface. The data may be stored to the main circuit board's flash memory where the data may be read and converted into a degree reading prior to an external transmission via the RF transceiver.
  • Alternative arrangements for measuring tilt in the secondary swing arm 312 (based on the change in the angle of the tread 206) may include placement of the tilt sensor directly on the secondary swing arm 312 or on the secondary wheel 308 instead of the sub circuit board 318 located next to the primary wheel 306. Another embodiment may be the inclusion of several radar based sensors onto the base 302 and linking such sensors into the main circuit board 320.
  • Further, the information measured by the sensor device may be communicated to an external device through a communication interface 324 of the base 302. The description corresponding to the base 302 and transmission of the sensor information to the external device is explained previously in conjunction with FIGS. 2, 3, and 4, thus not repeated here for the sake of brevity.
  • FIG. 6 illustrates components of a base of the sensor device in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure. Specifically, FIG. 6 depicts various components that may be involved in power management depending on available power source. The base 302 may include, but is not limited to, a main circuit board 320, a battery 322 and a USB port (interface) 324. The external power source may be provided through the USB interface 324 connected to the main circuit board 320 in the Base 302.
  • In an embodiment, a 5V power cable is connected to the USB interface 324. A Low Drop Out (LDO) voltage regulator may then be applied to reduce the working voltage used by the Circuit Board to 3.3V. An internal power source may include the battery 322 such as a rechargeable lithium battery 322. The battery's regular power supply may be in the range of 3.6V to 4.2V. The LDO voltage regulator used for the external power source is similarly used to reduce the battery's power supply to 3.3V. It may be appreciated by a person skilled in the art that the system embodied in this example can power itself for between 20 and 40 hours.
  • Further, in an embodiment, if there is no external (USB) power source, the core chip of the sensor system (implemented by the sensor device) may rely on the lithium battery 322. If the lithium battery is in use, the core chip may lower the operating frequency of the sensor system to help extend the life of the battery before recharge is needed.
  • An LED light is also added to the main circuit board 320 to detect if the battery output is below 3.6V. If it is determined that the battery output is below 3.6V, then the battery 322 may need to be recharged. Further, if there is an external (USB) power source and the core chip also detects the lithium battery 322, the core chip may use the external (USB) power source to both power the circuit boards (such as the main circuit board 320) and recharge the lithium battery.
  • Further, it may be appreciated by a person skilled in the art that the system described above may also include an energy harvesting system to further prolong the energy sources or indeed potentially render the sensor device wholly self sufficient. Using magnets in a rotating wheel to measure speed also allows the magnetic energy to be harvested for energy purposes. Further, brushless rotor motor may also be attached to a small wheel to ensure decent rotations speed. Alternatively, new technologies that can harvest energy from motion like “reverse electro-wetting” or variants thereof may be applied. However, in all instances, the level of energy harvested may need to be balanced against the total force applied to the treadmill surface which may interfere with the treadmills performance. The process of power management system of the sensor device is explained further in detail in conjunction with FIG. 18.
  • Referring now to FIG. 7 illustrates a detailed view of a Primary Wheel of the sensor device, such as the sensor device 202, in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure. Specifically, FIG. 7 depicts magnets formation of the primary wheel 306 that may be utilized by a wheel mechanism of the sensor device. The description of the FIG. 4 is to focus on the primary wheel system of the wheel mechanism of the sensor device.
  • It may be appreciated by a person skilled in the art that the wheel mechanism may be implemented by the sensor system of the sensor device to determine the variations in various characteristics of the tread. Further, the usage of wheel mechanism may provide many advantageous features to implement the sensor system. Some of the benefits may include cheap (less cost), simple and reliable. More specifically, the wheel mechanism utilized by the sensor device may be resilient against vibration levels, various features of the tread's surface, speed, and environmental conditions. Additionally, the sensor device and wheel mechanism thereof requires just a sustained contact with the tread surface that enables movement in the wheels (of the wheel mechanism) with the movement in the tread of the treadmill and thus requires no special fitting of any kind. Further, various other aspects of the wheel mechanism (of the sensor device) may be understood when read in conjunction with description of FIGS. 2, 3, 4 and 5.
  • As depicted, the detailed view of the primary wheel that may interface with a system of a speed sensor is provided. One of the objectives of the sensor device is to independently measure the speed of the movement of a tread of an exercise apparatus (such as treadmill) without requiring any interference with the treadmill. A number of sensors may apply, although in many cases sensors may require some form of interference such as special treadmill fittings, markings applied to the tread, etc.
  • As shown in FIG. 4, the primary wheel 306 may have a sub circuit board 318 that may be located next to the primary wheel 306 of the sensor device. The sub circuit board 318 may have a sensor system that may measure the rotation of the primary wheel 306. The Sub Circuit Board 318 may not rotate with the Primary Wheel 306 but rather is fixed to the movement of a Secondary Swing Arm 312. One end of the Secondary Swing Arm 312 may be attached to the Primary Wheel 306 and another end of the secondary swing arm 312 may be connected to a Secondary Wheel (shown in FIG. 3) of the wheel mechanism. The secondary swing arm 312 is explained previously in conjunction with FIGS. 3, 4 and 5. Further, a range of sensor solutions may be utilized to independently measure the rotation of the Primary Wheel 306.
  • In one embodiment, a speed sensor may be utilized to measure speed of the rotation of the primary wheel 306. The speed sensor may include, but is not restricted to, one or more Hall switches that may be fixed into the Sub Circuit Board 318. The positions of the Hall switches may be tailored to a specific configuration of the Primary Wheel 306 and, in particular, the placement of magnets 702 that may be built inside the Primary Wheel 306.
  • In an embodiment, the magnets may be built into the Primary Wheel 306 in a sequence of alternative directions such as first north, then south, and then north and so on. A chip timer counter may be set to generate a signal based on the movement of magnets with the movement of the primary wheel 306. For example, a signal may be generated in case pulse is rising that is the case when a magnet approaches a hall switch. Similarly, a signal may be generated when pulse falls that is case the magnet departs a hall switch. Due to this, two signals may be generated for every instance a magnet passes by a hall switch (although only every other magnet is valid). It may be appreciated by a person skilled in the art that more than one hall switches may be utilized for determining more data per revolution and thus increasing the accuracy of the data for a given rotation.
  • In another embodiment, instead of building magnets 702 into the Primary Wheel 306, slots or reflectors may be used in their place. For example, an LED or similar light emission may be positioned next to the slots or reflectors that may be built into the Primary Wheel 306. Accordingly, an LED or similar light sensor may position to count the light emissions that may appear through the slots or bounce off the reflectors as the Primary Wheel 306 rotates.
  • Additionally, in another embodiment, instead of building magnets, slots or reflectors into the Primary Wheel 306, a rotation sensor may be attached directly to an axis of the Primary Wheel 306. Herein, the axis of the primary wheel 306 may be fixed such that the rotation sensor may rotate with the Primary Wheel 306.
  • FIG. 8 illustrates a schematic diagram of a Main Circuit Board, such as the main circuit board 320, in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure. The main circuit board may be utilized to enable functioning of a sensor device, such as the sensor device 202, for determining activities of a user on an exercise apparatus, such as a treadmill. The main circuit board may be a 32-bit embedded chip based on the ARM Cortex-M3 kernel. Further, the main circuit board may include various components that may be connected with conductive cables.
  • The main circuit board may include, but is not limited to, a USB interface, a power management circuit, a wireless interface, such as radio frequency interface, a pressure management circuit and RS232 communication interface. The power to the main circuit board may be provided through a rechargeable battery, such as a lithium battery. Further, battery may be recharged through a USB input port that may be externally connected to the main circuit board. Further, the USB port may provide a data transfer link. Further, the data may be transferred through the radio frequency interface of the main circuit board. A radio frequency may be transmitted from the main circuit board that may be received by a USB HID radio frequency transceiver that may be connected to an external device placed in the vicinity of the treadmill.
  • Further, the main circuit board may be connected with other circuits of the sensor device. The main circuit board may receive data from a plurality of sensors and may store the received data in a flash memory of the main circuit board. The stored data may be read and processed or converted into a degree reading corresponding to the activities of the user on the tread. The processed data may be transmitted to an external device through a radio frequency transceiver.
  • The RS232 interface of the main circuit board may receive data packets every 13 ms from a sub circuit board. Further, the RS232 interface of the main circuit board may be a source of power for the sub circuit board. The sub circuit board is explained further in conjunction with FIG. 9.
  • Referring now to FIG. 9 that illustrates a schematic diagram of the Sub Circuit Board, such as the sub circuit board 318, in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure. The sub circuit board may be positioned alongside a primary wheel, such as the primary wheel 306, of the wheel mechanism of the sensor device. The sub circuit board may include an RS232 interface that may connect to the main circuit board of the sensor device, a speed sensor circuit, and a tilt angle circuit via wired link.
  • The sub circuit board may include a range of sensor solutions that may be used to independently measure the rotation of the primary wheel. The sub circuit board may not rotate with the rotation of the primary wheel but may be fixed to the movement of a secondary swing arm, such as the secondary swing arm 312 (as explained previously in conjunction with FIGS. 3 and 7.
  • In an embodiment, a speed sensor may include one or more Hall switches that may be fixed into the sub circuit board. The positions of the Hall switches may be tailored according to the specific configuration of the primary wheel. Particularly, the hall switches may be positioned based on the placement of magnets in the primary wheel. Further, a chip timer counter may be set to generate a signal for both pulse rising (when the magnet approaches a hall switch) and pulse falling state (the case when the magnet departs a hall switch). The sub circuit board may receive a power for operation from the main circuit board. Further, the functioning of the sub circuit board is explained previously in conjunction with FIGS. 3, 4, 5 and 7. The image of the sub circuit board is depicted in FIG. 10C.
  • FIGS. 10A, 10B and 10C illustrate a primary wheel, a main circuit board and a sub circuit board, respectively, in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure. A sensor device, such as the sensor device 202, may implement a sensor system based on a wheel mechanism, a plurality of sensors, and circuitry to provide support for implementing the operations of the sensor system. The sensor system may be implemented to determine a user's activities on an exercise apparatus without requiring any fitting mechanism for the sensor device into the exercise apparatus.
  • FIG. 10A depicts a primary wheel, such as the primary wheel 304 (as described previously in conjunction with FIG. 3) that is a part of the wheel mechanism of the sensor device (or sensor system). The primary wheel 304 may be in touch with a tread of an exercise apparatus (such as treadmill) and may be utilized to estimate speed of the user on the treadmill. The primary wheel 304 may include, but is not limited to, a plurality of magnets, such as the plurality of magnets 702 (as depicted in FIG. 7) that may be arranged in sequence of alternate directions. For example, a North Pole of a magnet may be next to a South Pole of another magnet and then North Pole of a third magnet and so on.
  • The primary wheel may be alongside a sub circuit board that may include one or more Hall switches. The positions of the Hall switches may be tailored according to the specific configuration of the primary wheel. Particularly, the hall switches may be positioned based on the placement of magnets in the primary wheel. The primary wheel 306 is explained previously in conjunction with FIGS. 3, 4, 5 and 7 thus detailed description for the primary wheel is not repeated here for the sake of brevity.
  • Further, FIG. 10B depicts an image of a main circuit board 1002 that may be utilized by a sensor device. The main circuit board 1003 may be same as the main circuit board 320 (as explained previously in conjunction with FIGS. 3 and 6). Thus, the description corresponding to main circuit board is not repeated here for the sake of brevity. Further, a cable 1004 may be utilized for connecting the main circuit board 1002 with various other components such as the wheel mechanism and sub circuit board of the sensor device. Further, FIG. 10C depicts an image of a sub circuit board 1006 that is explained previously as the sub circuit board 318 in conjunction with FIGS. 3, 7 and 9.
  • FIGS. 11A and 11B depict pictorial views 1100 of the sensor device, such as the sensor device 202, in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure. As shown, the sensor device 1100 may include, but is not limited to, a base 1102, a primary wheel 1104, a secondary wheel 1106, a primary swing arm 1108, and a secondary swing arm 1110. The base 1102, such as the base 302, may include a main circuit board, a battery and a USB port, as explained previously in conjunction with FIG. 6. Further, the primary swing arm 1108 is shown as connected to the base 1102 through one end thereof and to the secondary swing arm 1110 through another end of the primary swing arm 1108. Further, as shown, the primary wheel 1104 and the secondary wheel 1106 may be connected through the secondary swing arm 1110.
  • The sensor device 1100 may be placed on the floor underside of a tread of an exercise apparatus (such as a treadmill). The Primary Swing Arm 1108 may lift the Primary wheel 1104 and the Secondary Wheels 1106 upwards until both the wheels make contact with the underside of the tread. It may be noted that the sensor device may be placed in a position that enables the wheels clear unimpeded access to the tread such that the wheels do not come into contact with the treadmill frame. The sustained upward force of the Primary Swing arm 1108 may ensure both Wheels (the primary wheel 1104 and the secondary wheel 1106) retain in contact with the tread even if the tread is bouncing, changes angle or changes height. Further, height extensions may be added to the base 1102 to raise the height of the wheels so as to make contact with the tread. Further, to raise the height of the wheels, the Primary Swing Arm 1108 may be extended to further expand the height range of the sensor device.
  • For example, as shown, FIG. 11A shows the wheels in lower position with the bent state of the primary swing arm 1108. Alternatively, FIG. 11B shows the raised primary swing arm 1108 so as to raise the wheels up to the level of the tread (not shown).
  • The ‘base 1102’, the ‘primary wheel 1104’, the ‘secondary wheel 1106’, the ‘primary swing arm 1108’ and the ‘secondary swing arm 1110’ are explained previously as the ‘base 302’, the ‘primary wheel 306’, the ‘secondary wheel 308’, the ‘primary swing arm 310’ and the ‘secondary swing arm 312’ respectively in conjunction with FIGS. 2 to 5. Thus the detailed functional implementation of the sensor device 1100 is not repeated here for the sake of brevity.
  • FIG. 12 illustrates implementation of a sensor device utilizing an infrared sensor, in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. FIG. 12 depicts a rearview of a treadmill 1202, a sensor base 1204, an infrared sensor 1206, an adjustable stand 1208 for the infrared sensor 1206, and a wired link 1210 to link the infrared sensor 1206 with the sensor base 1204 for base power and wireless transmission of data that may be collected by the infrared sensor 1206.
  • As depicted, the infrared sensor 1206 may be placed next to the treadmill to get a clear view of the surface of tread of the treadmill 1202. An infrared sensor 1206 (laser sensor) that may or may not be combined with a monochrome CMOS sensor for added sensitivity, may be mounted on a small stand 1208 that may provide the infrared sensor 1206 with a clear view of the area of contact between the user and the tread.
  • The infrared sensor 1206 may be linked to a Main Circuit Board, such as the main circuit board 320, located in the sensor base 1204 via a wired connection 1210. The data from the infrared sensor 1206 may be used to track movements of the user on the treadmill without requiring any contact with the user. This data (from the infrared sensor 1206) may be used in place of a Primary Wheel, such as the primary wheel 306, to estimate the speed of the user on the treadmill. Further, the data from the infrared sensor 1206 may be utilized in place of using a pressure sensor, such as the pressure sensor 218 (as depicted in FIG. 3), to indentify the presence of the user and force/pace corresponding to the user.
  • In another embodiment, a video camera (not shown) may be used in place of the infrared sensor 1206. The video camera may capture information corresponding to activities of the user using the treadmill. The video camera may be used with video analytics that may be applied to the information captured by the video camera for calculating the user's movements (if any) on the treadmill.
  • In yet another embodiment, a sensor may be placed on the user themselves to collect data corresponding to the user's activities that may be transmitted to the Main Circuit Board of the sensor base 1204. Such sensor may be an accelerometer included in a device or object that may be held or worn by the user. For example, the sensor may be implemented through a smart phone that may collect data and can then transmit that data to the main circuit board of the sensor base 1204. Further, for example, a separate accelerometer may be attached to the user's shoes that may determine the user's information such as the pace, speed and pressure applied by the user on the treadmill. The data may be transmitted from the sensor to the main circuit board via Bluetooth or an alternative wireless technology.
  • FIG. 13 illustrates a sensor device depicting the underside of a pedal plate 1300 in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure. The pedal plate may be attached to a pedal area of an exercise apparatus, such as elliptical machines, rowers, cycles and similar other apparatuses having pedal functionalities. A user of the exercise apparatus may apply a pressure to the pedal plate that may be placed over the pedal area to use the exercise apparatus. The sensor device 1300 may be utilized to measure various parameters, such as movement (e.g., cadence) and force (pressure) associated with one or more activities of the user on the exercise apparatus. The various parameters may be measured without requiring access to the mechanics of the exercise apparatus.
  • The pedal plate may be housing for number of layers containing, but is not limited to, a plurality of sensors, a circuit board and a power source. The circuit board and the power source may be designed and housed in between the user's feet and the pedal of the exercise apparatus so as to remain isolated from a pressure applied by the user on the sensor device. The multiple layers of the pedal plate (may hereinafter interchangeably be referred to as ‘plate’ or ‘housing’) may include, but are not limited to, one or more upper layers (upper plates and a center plate) for enabling the user to place foot (feet) thereon and one or more lower layers (underplate plates) that may be placed on a surface of the pedal.
  • As shown, the plate (housing) may include a number of layers such as upper plates 1302, 1304, 1306, 1308 and a center plate 1310 for facilitating the user to place his/her feet thereon. The upper plates may then be affixed to one of two underplates, such as an underplate 1312 and an underplate 1314, using plate position adjustment screws (as shown in FIG. 14). The underplate 1312 and the underplate 1314 may collectively be referred to as ‘underplates’. The positions of the upper plates may be adjusted in and out along plate adjustment grooves 1316, 1318, 1320 and 1322 located in the underplates. The underplates may be moved closer together or further apart with an adjustable underplate 1324 that may be a part of 1312. The adjustable underplate 1324 may allow the underplate 1312 to move in and out of the underplate 1314. The position of the underplates may be fixed using a width adjuster.
  • Further, the plurality of sensors may be attached to the underside of the underplates 1312 and 1314. The plurality of sensors may include a sensor 1326, a sensor 1328, a sensor 1330, a sensor 1332 and a sensor 1334 (hereinafter may be referred to as the ‘sensors’). Further, a rechargeable power source 1336 (such as a battery), a plate circuit board 1338 and strap linkages 1340, 1342, 1344, and 1346 may also be attached to the underside of the underplate. The plate circuit board 1338 may be connected to the power source 1336 and to the sensors.
  • The sensors may measure data, such as speed, force/pressure applied by the user on the pedal plate (the housing placed on the pedal of the exercise apparatus), based on one or more activities of the user on the pedal plate. For example, one or more pressure sensors may be placed between the multiple layers. The pressure sensors (such as piezoelectric sensors) may capture a change in the pressure, applied by the user, when the multiple layers are compressed between the user's foot and the pedal. The plate circuit board 1338 may collect the data from the sensors (hereinafter may be referred to as ‘sensor data’) and transmits the sensor data via radio frequency to a data processor of an external device, such as a personal computer, a laptop, mobile device (e.g., smartphone) and the like. The plate circuit board 1338 may include a USB port 1348.
  • The sensors and plate circuit board 1338 may be powered by an independent power source, such as a rechargeable lithium battery 1336. The battery 1336 may be recharged via a USB plug 1348 that is attached to the plate circuit board 1338 which in turn directs energy towards the battery 1336. In an embodiment, power may also be energy that may be harvested from alternative forms of battery and energy such as micro solar panels, kinetic movement and/or pressure applied (by the user) to the pedal.
  • It may be appreciated by a person skilled in the art that all sources of energy may be viable but it is important that associated methods used for harvesting power do not detract from the users experience or cardio machine's performance. A sensor system implemented by the sensor device by utilizing a power source through a wireless means. The power through the wireless means may be because of the physical moving nature of the pedal plate of the sensor device (sensor system) and the importance of preventing potential for damage to the wires or even user injury through entanglement in the wires.
  • The sensor device (having pedal plate) may include a system to transmit the sensor data wireless to a remotely located receiver. This may use a range of possible technologies including, but are not limited to, radio frequency, blue tooth and infrared. The receiver may have a transceiver that may receive the sensor data from the pedal plate (e.g. a USB plugged into a nearby PC, laptop or similar). The transceiver may then present the data to the software that uses the pedal plate data. Alternatively, the system may rely on Bluetooth or similar type of technology.
  • The sensor system (corresponding to the sensor device) may also include a small interim transceiver that may be placed closed to the pedal plate, such as the pedal plate 1300. This interim transceiver may both receive the wireless data sent by the pedal plates and then on-sends it, wireless or via wired transmission, to the host device housing the software that may use the sensor data received from the pedal plate. The benefit of the interim transceiver is that it makes the pedal plate design for data transmission easier (closer distance, low energy consumption, line of sight option, etc). This small transceiver may also apply extra processing of the pedal data before on sending further and thus reduce the technical complexity (and energy needs) of the pedal plate.
  • FIG. 14 illustrates a sensor device depicting the top side of the pedal plate in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure. The top side of the pedal plate may be understood more clearly when read in conjunction with FIG. 13 that depicts underside of the pedal plate of the sensor device. The upper plates 1302, 1304, 1306, 1308 and center plate 1310 may be of a very hard material like steel or aluminium or hard plastic or a combination or similar. The hard material of the plates may enhance tolerance to bear a huge pressure that may be exerted by a user of an exercise apparatus. The upper surface of the upper plates may incorporate non-slip qualities (e.g. rubberized paint covering or similar effect).
  • The position of the upper plates may be adjusted to help enable the overall plate shape and size closely match with the pedal shape or size on to which the plates are being placed. As described previously in conjunction with FIG. 13, the adjustment of the upper plates may be by moving the plates along adjustment grooves 1316, 1318, 1320 and 1322 located in the underplates as illustrated in FIG. 13. Once the plates are in position that may be fixed using plate position adjustment screws 1402, 1404, 1406, 1408, the user may use the pedal plates for performing fitness activities on the exercise apparatus. The underplates 1312 and 1314 may also have a non-slip covering on the top side.
  • Besides the non-slip benefit, this covering may also have a degree of absorption flex, like a rubber layer. This may allow the upper plates to slightly embed themselves into the underplate surfaces when the upper plate position adjusters 1402, 1404, 1406 and 1408 are tightened. This may help to prevent upper plate slip and also helps the upper plates and underplates to merge more closely into a single surface for users to place their feet thereon.
  • FIG. 15 illustrates a side view of peizo-based sensors that connects to the pedal plate in accordance with some embodiments of the present invention. Specifically, a side view of sensors attached to an underplate of sensor device is depicted. The sensor device may measure information (hereinafter may be referred to as ‘sensor data’) corresponding to a user's activities performed on a pedal plate of the sensor device.
  • The sensor data may be a combination of pressure (force applied) and, potentially, movement (e.g., cadence) of the user on the pedal plate (on the exercise apparatus). The combination of force and movement may provide the necessary speed data or at least change in speed to enable software to reasonably accurately adjust for changing effort/speed of the user. In the case of a cadence, the peak and trough pattern of pressure may also be used by the software to identify when a full rotation has occurred. Alternatively, an additional independent movement sensor may be used, like an accelerometer. The benefit of analyzing the changing pressure is that no further sensors are needed and thus saving cost and preserving energy. The benefit of using an independent movement sensor like an accelerometer is increased accuracy/reliability and simpler software.
  • The pressure sensing system may use a range of standard pressure sensing technologies. In an instance, piezo based sensors may be used, one for each corner of the plate and one in the center of the plate (as shown in FIG. 13). However, alternative sensor arrays may achieve the same function. The important point is that a number of sensors may be needed to ensure that all the pressure applied to the pedal plate is captured even if the foot is placed only on a part of the pedal surface.
  • As shown, in an embodiment, the sensors in our example comprise two layers: a piezo sensor layer 1502 that may be fixed underneath an underplate, such as the underplate 1312 or the underplate 1314 (as depicted in FIG. 13) and may incorporate a hole through the center of it. The second layer may be a sensor metal base layer 1504. The sensor metal base layer 1504 may be in direct contact with the surface of the pedal of the exercise apparatus. The sensor metal base layer 1504 may have a column 1506 in the center thereof. The column 1506 may go through the hole of the piezo sensor layer 1502 and into a cavity 1508 just above the piezo sensor layer 1502. The top of the column 1506 where it is inside the cavity 1508, the column 1506 may widen out much like the head of a nail.
  • The column 1506 and the cavity 1508 may enable the sensor metal base layer 1504 to have a tiny amount of movement latitude relative to the rest of the plate items which are fixed together. This movement latitude may allow the pressure exerted by the piezo sensor layer 1502 that may be in direct contact with the sensor metal base layer 1504 to vary. It is this variance that may be measured by the piezo sensor. Data comprising the total variance of all the sensors may be used to calculate the total pressure being applied by the user to the pedal. Each sensor may be attached by a wire 1510 to the plate circuit board 1338 shown in FIG. 13.
  • Reference is now made to FIG. 16 that shows an underside view of the piezo-based sensor that may be utilized for the pedal plate in accordance with some embodiments of the present invention. The underside view of the piezo-based sensor may be understood more clearly when read in conjunction with FIG. 15. As shown, the circumference of the metal base layer 1504 of the piezo-based sensor may be marginally smaller than the circumference of the piezo sensor layer 1502 as illustrated by the underside view of sensors in FIG. 16. This ensures that the entire downward force that may ultimately be taken by the sensor metal base plates (metal base layer 1504) such as is fully captured by the piezo sensor area (i.e., piezo sensor layer 1502).
  • An alternative to the piezo sensor technology may be a system of interconnected compressible chambers containing fluid (hereinafter may be referred to as ‘liquid chambers’) and may be connected to a liquid pressure sensor. The chambers may be placed in between multiple layers of the pedal plate. As downward pressure may be applied via the underplate, the multiple layers may press upon the chambers forcing the liquid to exert pressure on the connected liquid pressure sensor.
  • Further, it may be appreciated by a person skilled in the art that functioning of the sensor system (sensor device) is not restricted to usage of piezo-based sensor or a liquid sensor. Further, a plurality of sensors may be utilized based on a requirement for measuring various parameters associated with the force and motion applied by the user on the pedal plate of the sensor device.
  • FIG. 17 illustrates an implementation of the sensor device utilizing a pedal plate in accordance with some embodiments of the present disclosure. Specifically, FIG. 17 depicts a plate-type structure (housing, as explained previously in conjunction with FIG. 13) on top of a pedal (of an exercise apparatus) with a foot placed on top of the plate and straps that hold the plate onto the pedal. The plate may be attached to the pedal by any one of a variety of means depending on circumstances and pedal attributes.
  • As shown, in an embodiment, the design assumes stretchy robust material straps 1702, 1704 that may connect to four strap linkages 1340, 1342, 1344 and 1346 (shown in FIG. 12) placed on underplates, such as the underplates 1312, 1314. These may include, but are not restricted to, (i) micro Velcro pads attached to each side with adhesive (ii) a stretchable fabric into which the plates may be inserted and the fabric may then be wrapped around the pedal like a sock (iii) tiny plates that may be fitted and able to clamp on the vertical edges and then may provide a means for connecting with the plate.
  • The material straps 1702 and 1704 may join at the strap underside 1706 that may be on the opposite side to the side with the plate. The strap underside 1706 may include a counterweight of sorts that can help to maintain any original intended pedal weight equilibrium (e.g., one side of the pedal is designed through weight distribution to always be facing upwards). The strap underside 1706 or other areas of the strap may also support some of the components shown in the diagrams as being in the plate. For example, the battery and USB connection may be house somewhere within the straps that fix the plate to the pedal. This may help to minimize the required size of the plate and may provide natural counter balance for the pedal.
  • Further, sensors, such as the sensors 1326, 1328, 1330, 1332, and 1334 (as shown in FIG. 13) may be embedded below the under plates. As shown, in FIG. 17, the sensor 1326 (and others sensors) may be placed below the under plates 1312 and 1314 that are placed below upper plates, such as the upper plates 1302, 1304, 1306 and 1308. The plate-structure (including sensors) may be placed above a pedal 1708 of the exercise apparatus (as shown by a rotating axel 1710 for linking the pedal 1708 with the exercise apparatus).
  • As shown, a foot 1712 of the user may be placed on the plate (on the upper plates 1312 and 1314) that may be linked to the pedal. The movement (speed) and/or force (pressure) applied by the user may be measured by the sensors, such as the sensor 1326. The measured data may be transmitted through radio signal 1714 from a circuit board of the plate to an external device. The external device may have a radio frequency transceiver 1716 to receive the radio signals 1714 corresponding to the measured sensor data that may be utilized further based on the requirement. For example, the received data may be analyzed to determine fitness status of the user.
  • FIG. 18 illustrates a flow chart of a method of power management in accordance with an embodiment of the present disclosure. The power management in a sensor system while determining a plurality of characteristics of a user's activities on an exercise apparatus may be understood more clearly when read in conjunction with FIG. 6. The order in which the method is performed is not intended to be construed as limitation, and further any number of the method steps may be combined in order to implement the method or an alternative method without departing from the scope of this disclosure.
  • At step 1802, it is determined that If there is an external (USB) power source is available to provide power to the sensor device. If no external (USB) power source is available then the method may proceed to step 1804 (as shown by ‘No’ pointer from step 1802). At step 1804, the core chip of the sensor device may rely on lithium battery and may receive power from the lithium battery power circuit boards. Further, if the lithium battery is being used, the core chip will lower the operating frequency of the system to help extend the life of the battery before recharge is needed. An LED light may also be added to Circuit Board to detect when the battery output is below 3.6V (i.e. it needs to be recharged).
  • Further, If at step 1802, it is determined that a USB is connected as an external power source, then the method may proceed to step 1806 (as shown by ‘Yes’ pointer from step 1802) to determine if lithium battery is also connected. If, at step 1806, the presence of lithium battery is determined (as shown by ‘Yes’ pointer from step 1806), it depicts that both the sources (USB and lithium batteries) are present and accordingly the core chip may use the external (USB) power source to both power the circuit boards and recharge the lithium battery. Further, if, at step 1806, it is determined that the lithium battery is not connected (as shown by ‘Yes’ pointer from step 1806), then USB power source may be utilized for powering the system.
  • Further, the method implemented by the sensor device is not restricted to above mentioned embodiment of power management, as mentioned herein. Further, various embodiments that are explained in FIGS. 1 to 17 may be utilized to implement various method steps to carry out processes that may be implemented by the sensor device (sensor system) as explained here above. Further, the invention is not limited to above-mentioned embodiments and examples and many other embodiments and examples may be implemented in light of the invention without departing from the scope of the invention.
  • Advantageously, the present disclosure provides a fitness equipment sensor device and a system for determining various parameters corresponding to user's activities on an exercise apparatus. Such parameters may be used further for various other applications such as, but not limited to, providing interactive interface, entertainment, determining fitness status of a user and so on. The sensor device does not require any special fitting to receive information corresponding to the user using the exercise apparatus. In one embodiment, the sensor device may use wheel mechanism for the exercise apparatuses having a tread surface (such as treadmill). Due to usage of wheel mechanism, the sensor device provides cheap, simple and reliable solutions. Further, embodiments of the present disclosure provide a sensor device that may be utilized for exercise apparatuses having pedals system, such as cycles, rowers and the like. The information corresponding to the user may include, but is not limited to, user's speed (and therefore stride, when combined with information related to speed), and force applied on the exercise apparatus.
  • An additional advantageous feature of the sensor device is that the device can work with any kind of treadmill regardless of age, brand, size or design. All treadmills will have a section of the tread exposed on the underside when the treadmill is in its ready-for-use position. The one variable is the height of the underside tread from the ground and the level of variation in height while in use. To accommodate this, a mechanical system may be applied that enables the device's wheels to maintain contact with the exposed underside tread.
  • Further, to provide accuracy in determining the user's information, the sensor device for exercise apparatuses such as treadmills may uses magnets in the wheels that may passes by hall switches to determine data per revolution of the wheels more accurately.
  • In various embodiments of the present disclosure, the sensor device may implement a system to process the information measured by the sensor device (‘sensor data’) prior to transmitting the information to another device for further usage thereof. Also, the sensor device may implement a method for power management that may utilize rechargeable battery system. Further, the sensor device may implement a system for harvesting energy from various ways that may provide prolong energy source for the system. For example, the system may utilize kinetic energy from the user's motion on the exercise apparatus.
  • Further, the system may use magnets in a rotating wheel to measure speed that may allow the magnetic energy to be harvested for energy purposes. Further, brushless rotor motor may also be attached to a small wheel to ensure decent rotations speed. Alternatively, new technologies that can harvest energy from motion like “reverse electrowetting” or variants thereof may be applied. However, in all instances, the level of energy harvested may be balanced against the total force applied to the treadmill surface which may otherwise interfere with the treadmills performance.
  • It may be appreciated by a person skilled in the art that the present invention is not limited to the above-mentioned embodiments. Further, various other embodiments may also be implemented through the features provided by the system. Also, the usage of terminology such as ‘first user’, ‘second user’ may not be considered a restrictive aspect of the present invention as such terminologies are used just for the purpose of better explanation. It may be appreciated by a person skilled in the art that the invention is not limited to the advantages as mentioned here above. Further many other advantages may be understood in light of the description given above without departing from the scope of the invention.
  • The foregoing description, for purpose of explanation, has been described with reference to specific embodiments. However, the illustrative discussions above are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in view of the above teachings. The embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical applications, to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention and various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated.
  • Embodiments of the invention are described above with reference to block diagrams and schematic illustrations of methods and systems according to embodiments of the invention. It will be understood that each block of the diagrams and combinations of blocks in the diagrams can be implemented by computer program instructions. These computer program instructions may be loaded onto one or more general purpose computers, special purpose computers, or other programmable data processing translator to produce machines, such that the instructions that execute on the computers or other programmable data processing translators create means for implementing the functions specified in the block or blocks. Such computer program instructions may also be stored in a computer-readable memory that can direct a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to function in a particular manner, such that the instructions stored in the computer-readable memory produce an article of manufacture including instruction means that implement the function specified in the block or blocks.
  • While the invention has been described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and various embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the disclosed embodiments, but on the contrary, is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims. The invention has been described in the general context of computing devices, phone and computer-executable instructions, such as program modules, being executed by a computer. Generally, program modules include routines, programs, characters, components, data structures, etc., that perform particular tasks or implement particular abstract data types. A person skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention may be practiced with other computer system configurations, including hand-held devices, multiprocessor systems, microprocessor-based or programmable consumer electronics, network PCs, minicomputers, mainframe computers, and the like. Further, the invention may also be practiced in distributed computing worlds where tasks are performed by remote processing devices that are linked through a communications network. In a distributed computing world, program modules may be located in both local and remote memory storage devices.
  • This written description uses examples to disclose the invention, including the best mode, and also to enable any person skilled in the art to practice the invention, including making and using any devices or systems and performing any incorporated methods. The patentable scope of the invention is defined in the claims, and may include other examples that occur to those skilled in the art. Such other examples are intended to be within the scope of the claims if they have structural elements that do not differ from the literal language of the claims, or if they include equivalent structural elements with insubstantial differences from the literal languages of the claims.

Claims (40)

1. A sensor system for collecting user activity data from an exercise apparatus, the sensor system comprising:
a wheel mechanism for measuring a plurality of characteristics corresponding to a moving tread of the exercise apparatus, wherein the wheel mechanism is in physical contact with the moving tread, without having to be fastened to the exercise apparatus;
a plurality of sensors configured for determining a plurality of parameters corresponding to one or more activities performed by a user of the exercise apparatus, the plurality of parameters being determined based on the measured plurality of characteristics of the moving tread; and
a data communication interface for transmitting the measured plurality of parameters to a data processor,
wherein the physical contact between the wheel mechanism and the moving tread is maintained by a spring-based mechanism.
2. The sensor system of claim 1, wherein the wheel mechanism comprises a primary wheel and a secondary wheel, the primary wheel being utilized for measuring a speed of the moving tread and the secondary wheel being utilized for measuring tilt of the moving tread in conjunction with the primary wheel.
3. The sensor system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of parameters comprises speed of the user, downward pressure applied to the moving tread by the user, and the one or more activities of the user on the moving tread.
4. The sensor system of claim 1 further comprising:
a power source for powering the plurality of sensors and the data communication interface; and
a circuit board for managing the power sources, the plurality of parameters and the data communication interface.
5. The sensor system of claim 2, wherein the primary wheel comprises a series of magnets adjoined thereto, the series of magnets being utilized to interface with a magnetic based sensor, of the plurality of sensors, for measuring rotation of the primary wheel.
6. The sensor system of claim 2, wherein the primary wheel incorporates a regular pattern of grooves, and wherein an LED light and LED sensor are used to measure the rotation of the primary wheel through the grooves.
7. The sensor system of claim 2, wherein the primary wheel comprises a pattern of reflective surfaces and a sensor for counting changes in surface reflection for measuring the rotation of the primary wheel.
8. The sensor system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of sensors comprises a rotation sensor attached to an axis of the primary wheel for measuring a rotation speed of the wheel.
9. The sensor system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of sensors comprises a piezoelectric sensor for measuring downward pressure exerted towards floor by the exercise apparatus, the piezoelectric sensor being placed under a load bearing point of the exercise apparatus.
10. The sensor system of claim 1, wherein an infrared sensor is placed alongside the exercise apparatus for capturing data about the user's activity when moving on the exercise apparatus.
11. The sensor system of claim 10, wherein a monochrome CMOS sensor is used to enhance an effectiveness of the infrared sensor.
12. The sensor system of claim 1 further comprising a camera pointed at the moving tread of the exercise apparatus, the camera being used to capture data about the user's activity when moving on the exercise apparatus.
13. The sensor system of claim 1, wherein the wheel mechanism comprises a primary arm and a secondary arm corresponding to a primary wheel and a secondary wheel of the wheel mechanism, the spring-based mechanism corresponds to the primary arm and the secondary arm to force at least one of the primary wheel and the secondary wheel in upward direction towards the tread of the exercise apparatus.
14. The sensor system of claim 13, wherein the wheel mechanism maintains the secondary arm at a constant angle range relative to a horizontal line and irrespective of the primary arm's angle relative to the horizontal line.
15. The sensor system of claim 13, wherein the upward force exerted through a spring-based mechanism linked to the secondary arm is independent of the spring based force exerted on the primary arm connected to the secondary arm.
16. The sensor system of claim 1, wherein the data communication interface comprises a transceiver and utilizes at least one of a wireless and a wired data transmission technology to transmit the measured plurality of parameters to the data processor.
17. The sensor system of claim 4, wherein the power source is a lithium battery, the battery is rechargeable.
18. The sensor system of claim 4, wherein the power source is managed by a protocol for utilizing power from the wired connection when power from both a wired connection and a battery source are detected as available, and wherein unused power from the wired connection is utilized for recharging the battery source.
19. The sensor system of claim 4, wherein the power source is managed by a protocol to reduce power consumption by lowering an operating cycle of the circuit board when the power source is a battery.
20. The sensor system of claim 4, wherein the power source corresponds to harvested renewable sources comprising at least one of solar panels and the kinetic energy generated by at least one of the exercise apparatus and the activities of the user on the exercise apparatus, and wherein the renewable sources are used for at least one of supplying power and recharging a battery.
21. A sensor device for collecting user activity data from an exercise apparatus without requiring access to mechanics of the exercise apparatus, the sensor device comprising:
a housing comprising multiple layers containing a plurality of sensors, a circuit board and a power source, the housing being attached to a pedal of the exercise apparatus,
the plurality of sensors configured for measuring one or more parameters corresponding to one or more activities performed by a user on the pedal of the exercise apparatus; and
a data communication interface coupled to the circuit board, the data communication interface configured for transmitting the measured parameters to a data processor.
22. The sensor device of claim 21, wherein the one or more parameters comprises at least one of pressure applied to the pedal and motion of the pedal.
23. The sensor device of claim 21 wherein the multiple layers comprise:
one or more upper layers for enabling the user to place foot thereon; and
one or more lower layers placed on a surface of the pedal.
24. The sensor device of claim 21 further comprising:
a power source for powering the sensors and the data communication interface; and
a board-based electrical circuit for managing the power sources, sensor data and data communication interface.
25. The sensor device of claim 21, wherein the housing is of a plate-type structure, the plate-type structure being adjustable based on an original surface area of the pedal.
26. The sensor device of claim 21, wherein the circuit board and battery are designed and housed in a manner to remain isolated from a pressure applied by the user's foot.
27. The sensor device of claim 21, wherein one or more pressure sensors are placed between the multiple layers, the one or more pressure sensors configured to capture a change in a pressure when the multiple layers are compressed between the user's foot and the pedal.
28. The sensor device of claim 21 comprises one or more piezoelectric sensors.
29. The sensor device of claim 21 further comprising a series of interconnected compressible chambers containing liquid and connected up to a liquid pressure sensor, the chambers being placed in between the multiple layers, wherein on applying the pressure, the multiple layers press upon the chambers forcing the liquid to exert pressure on the connected liquid pressure sensor.
30. The sensor device in claim 21 wherein the plurality of sensors comprise at least one accelerometer-type sensor for providing data about motion of the pedal.
31. The sensor device of claim 21, wherein the data communication interface comprises a transceiver and utilizes at least one of a wireless and a wired data transmission technology to transmit the measured plurality of parameters to the data processor.
32. The sensor device in claim 24, wherein the power source is a rechargeable lithium battery for providing power for one or more operations of the sensor device.
33. The sensor device in claim 24, wherein the power source is managed by a protocol for utilizing power from the wired connection when power from both a wired connection and a battery source are detected as available, and wherein unused power from the wired connection is utilized for recharging the battery source.
34. The sensor device of claim 24, wherein the power source is a wired connection and utilized via one of USB connection using USB HID protocol and an external plug.
35. The sensor device in claim 24, wherein the power source is managed by a protocol to reduce power consumption by lowering an operating cycle of the circuit board when the power source is a battery.
36. The sensor device in claim 24 wherein the power source corresponds to harvested renewable sources comprising of at least one of solar panels and kinetic energy generated by a force applied by the user to the pedal, wherein the renewable sources are used for at least one of supplying power to the sensor device and recharging the battery.
37. The sensor device of claim 21 further comprising a mechanism for preventing slippage of the user from the housing placed over the pedal of the exercise apparatus.
38. The sensor device of claim 21 further comprising a system to attach the housing to the pedal, the system includes counterweights placed on an opposite side to the multiple layers to provide the pedal with a counter weight to maintain a pedal balance.
39. The sensor device of claim 38, wherein the system to attach the housing to the pedal includes brackets for locking around one or more edges of the pedal, the brackets allow attaching and detaching the plurality of sensors contained by the housing.
40. The sensor device of claim 21, wherein small plates are attached with an adhesive to a surface of the pedal allowing attaching and detaching of the housing.
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