US20150148140A1 - Sporting equipment including integrated diffused indicator - Google Patents

Sporting equipment including integrated diffused indicator Download PDF

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Publication number
US20150148140A1
US20150148140A1 US13/998,679 US201313998679A US2015148140A1 US 20150148140 A1 US20150148140 A1 US 20150148140A1 US 201313998679 A US201313998679 A US 201313998679A US 2015148140 A1 US2015148140 A1 US 2015148140A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
weapon
fencing
fencing weapon
light
indicator
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Abandoned
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US13/998,679
Inventor
Timothy Morehouse
Jimmy Chion
Elger Oberwelz
Chris Glastier
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Morehouse USA Creative LLC
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Morehouse USA Creative LLC
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Publication date
Application filed by Morehouse USA Creative LLC filed Critical Morehouse USA Creative LLC
Priority to US13/998,679 priority Critical patent/US20150148140A1/en
Publication of US20150148140A1 publication Critical patent/US20150148140A1/en
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B69/00Training appliances or apparatus for special sports
    • A63B69/02Training appliances or apparatus for special sports for fencing, e.g. means for indicating hits
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B49/00Stringed rackets, e.g. for tennis
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B53/00Golf clubs
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B59/00Bats, rackets or the like, not covered by groups A63B49/00 - A63B57/00
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B59/00Bats, rackets or the like, not covered by groups A63B49/00 - A63B57/00
    • A63B59/20Bats, rackets or the like, not covered by groups A63B49/00 - A63B57/00 having means, e.g. pockets, netting or adhesive type surfaces, for catching or holding a ball, e.g. for lacrosse or pelota
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B59/00Bats, rackets or the like, not covered by groups A63B49/00 - A63B57/00
    • A63B59/70Bats, rackets or the like, not covered by groups A63B49/00 - A63B57/00 with bent or angled lower parts for hitting a ball on the ground, on an ice-covered surface, or in the air, e.g. for hockey or hurling
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2102/00Application of clubs, bats, rackets or the like to the sporting activity ; particular sports involving the use of balls and clubs, bats, rackets, or the like
    • A63B2102/22Field hockey
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2207/00Exercising or sporting devices provided with means enabling use in the dark
    • A63B2207/02Powered illuminating means
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B51/00Stringing tennis, badminton or like rackets; Strings therefor; Maintenance of racket strings
    • A63B51/02Strings; String substitutes; Products applied on strings, e.g. for protection against humidity or wear

Abstract

A fencing weapon or piece of sporting equipment includes a diffused indictor light visible through at least one aperture. For the sport of fencing the diffused indictor light can signal valid and invalid touches. Sports equipment benefits in particular from this diffused indictor light configuration to provide instantaneous feedback to the bearer of such equipment, their teammates and competitors, and viewers of play involving such equipment.

Description

    BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY
  • The modern sport of fencing is hundreds of years old. Historically, referees and bout directors awarded points (or touches—where one opponent's weapon blade or tip makes contact with the target area of the other opponent) by visually observing two opponents and determining whether a touch occurred and whether the fencer scoring the touch should be awarded a point based on existing rules. The object of saber fencing, based on cavalry fencing on horseback, is to score touches by contacting a blade or tip of a fencer's weapon with an opponent's target area (above that opponent's waist including his arms and head). The object of foil fencing is to score touches by contacting the tip of a fencer's weapon with an opponent's target area (the opponent's torso). The object of epee fencing, based on first-blood duels, is to score touches by contacting the tip of a fencer's weapon with an opponent's target area (any part of the opponent's body). Each form of modern sport of fencing is very rapid. Often actions, contacts, and target areas are difficult to visually see. Modern fencing weapons are so light that skilled fencers can manipulate them with extreme speed in flurries of action. This speed renders it difficult to determine when touches are scored. Even where several officials are employed to judge a match, visual identification of scoring maneuvers is difficult. Disagreement between officials often occurs, due to the inconsistency in the quality of perspective enjoyed by the various officials. Moreover, judgment by visual observation is a subjective criterion, and the acuity of vision may vary among officials, and even in the same official.
  • In the 1970s electronic circuits were used to aid in awarding touches. FIG. 1 depicts the current state of the art fencing scoring system. Each fencer X, Y holds a weapon 12, 14 which includes a blade 20 connected to a wire running down each fencer's sleeve (not shown) and connected behind each fencer to a reel wire 24, 26 affixed to a retractable reel 28, 30. Each fencer X, Y wears a jacket 21, 22 which can be made of a conductive material, a mask 30 which can be made of conductive material, and a wire 31 connecting the mask to the jacket 21. The terminal of the reel wire 24, 26 is also connected electrically to the fencer's jacket 21, 22. Each reel 28, 30 is connected to an electrical scoring apparatus 10 that has indicators Wx, Cx, Wy, Cy which alternately illuminate to indicate a touch. If the weapon being fenced is saber, then when fencer Y in FIG. 1 contacts fencer X with any portion of the blade 20 of weapon 14 on a conductive area of either jacket 22 or mask 33, a circuit connects and indicator light Wy indicates fencer A scored a touch. A referee or director D will use this information and his or her visualization of the action to decide whether fender Y's touch should be awarded a point. When fencer X in FIG. 1 contacts fencer Y with the blade 16 of saber 12 on fencer Y's conductive area of either jacket 22 or mask 33, a circuit connects and indicator light Wx illuminates. Often both lights Wy and Wx will illuminate and a director or referee will need to determine to which fencer, if any, a touch should be awarded according to the rules of saber fencing.
  • Foil fencing includes a similar configuration to the saber configuration of FIG. 1, except each fencer X, Y hold a foil and jackets 21, 22 have a conductive target area comprising the fencer's torso. A valid touch signal in foil includes the breaking of a first circuit and completing a second. A foil has a movable contact on its tip, which is depressed whenever the tip 16 touches an object, breaking the first electrical circuit. Each contestant wears a vest-like garment which covers the valid target portion of his body. The vest has a conductive surface, and is connected in a second circuit between the electrical scoring apparatus 10 and the opponent's foil. The movable contact on each foil is itself conductive. When the movable contact of one fencer's foil touches the opponent's conductive vest, the second electrical circuit is completed, and the first circuit is broken, producing a valid touch signal (thus illuminating respective indicator Wx or Wy). An invalid touch in foil is indicated merely by the breaking of the first circuit (thus illuminating respective indicator Cx, Cy), since in an invalid touch, the foil fails to contact the opponent's vest.
  • Epee fencing includes a similar configuration to the saber configuration of FIG. 1, except each fencer X, Y hold an epee and wear a jacket 21, 22 that need not include a conductive area. A touch signal in epee constitutes simply the making of one circuit. The movable contact in the epee touch sensor assembly completes the circuit on depression in the course of a touch. Errant touches on the piste 35 or on the opponent's weapon body are not scored. Accordingly, if a fencer's epee tip touches the piste 35, or his opponent's weapon, the electrical scoring apparatus 10 disables the scoring indicators, preventing the registration of a touch in response to such errant touches. The movable contact on the epee tip is conductive as in the case of the foil. It is connected to a portion of the electrical scoring apparatus 10 which, if grounded, prevents actuation of the valid touch indicators. The piste 35 is grounded, as is the body of each weapon 12, 14, so that errant touches on the weapon body or the piste 35 are not counted as scores.
  • A problem associated with the state of the art fencing system is that electrical scoring apparatuses are often difficult to see for fencers and referees who must rapidly turn their attention from the fencing action to observe indicator lights on the apparatus. They can be confusing to spectators who have to associate one color light with each fencer and often are unsure which light represents which fencer. One way to combat this to include indicator lights in a fencer's mask. When a touch is scored, lights or LED arrays situated in a fencers mask illuminate based on control signals from electrical scoring apparatus 10. Control signals can be sent wirelessly or via a wired connection. Illuminating masks are helpful in that they allow easy viewing when touches are scored by fencers, referees, and observers. However, they are often costly and may require after market electronics and batteries in order to function properly. Also, each fencer is only able to see the mask of the other which indicates a touch scored. They are unable to see the indicator contained in their own mask or may not have a mask that contains indicators. Thus they may have to look to an external scoring apparatus 10 to determine whether they also scored a touch which requires altering a field of view away from the fencing action.
  • Alternatively an external device situated either on the fencers' garments or connected to a socket on the underside of a fencer's weapon guard may emit a signal indicator such as a light or sound. These devices are often less costly, however, they are of limited use in that they can easily be misheard and do not offer a convenient vantage for fencers, referees, and observers.
  • Further, many other sports could benefit from equipment having indicator feedback where presently the equipment for engaging in the play of the sport has none. Some examples of such equipment that include no indicator component include tennis rackets, golf clubs, baseball bats, hockey sticks, lacrosse sticks, etc.
  • The invention overcomes the problems of the prior art by providing a pattern of apertures in a piece of sporting equipment, for example a fencing weapon. The fencing weapon has a guard through which light emits from a diffusive substance that is illuminated by an indicator light or an array of lights. Such a light or array of lights which illuminate the diffusive substance visibly makes clear indication of which fencer made contact and can easily be observed in the course of action during a fencing match.
  • The invention achieves this in a first aspect by a fencing weapon which includes a blade portion; a handle; and a guard portion having an integrated indicator device.
  • In one embodiment the integrated indicator device further can be an indicator light and in another embodiment it can be an array of indicator lights.
  • In one embodiment, the indicator light receives a signal from an electrical scoring apparatus and in other embodiments the electrical scoring apparatus is contained within the fencing weapon itself or is located remotely from the fencing weapon.
  • Indicator lights can be light emitting diodes and can be recessed below an outer surface of said guard portion to prevent that contacting it with an opponent's weapon or weapon tip will register a valid touch.
  • In one embodiment, the fencing weapon includes a power source for providing power to the integrated indicator device. In another embodiment, the fencing weapon comprises a counter for outputting a count of indicator signals and a memory for storing the count. The integrated indicator device can include a display for displaying the count. The fencing weapon can also include a wireless communication device for receiving at least one indicator signal from at least one other device.
  • FIGURES
  • FIG. 1 depicts a prior art fencing system;
  • FIG. 2 depicts a first view of a fencing weapon according to the invention;
  • FIG. 3 depicts a second view in the plane of line A-A from FIG. 2 of a foil or epee according to the invention;
  • FIG. 4 depicts an alternate configuration of the foil or epee in FIG. 3 according to the invention;
  • FIG. 5 depicts a second view in the plane of line A-A from FIG. 2 of a saber according to the invention;
  • FIG. 6 depicts a tennis racket according to the invention;
  • FIG. 7 depicts a golf club according to the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • FIG. 2 depicts a fencing weapon from the view of the weapon blade extending out of the plane of FIG. 2 toward the observer. In the present example, FIG. 2 depicts a weapon 12. Weapon 12 includes a blade 16, a handle (not shown), and a guard 46. Blade 16 is conductive, frequently made of steel or any other metal or metal alloy known to one of skill in the art. Blade 16 can also be made from plastic or foam or any other substance, especially when configured for use as practice weapons, or as toys. Guard 46 is made of an opaque substance such as metal or plastic or any other substance known in the art. Guard 46 contains a pattern of individual apertures 47. Apertures 47 allow visible light to pass through guard such that emitted light beneath the apertures 47 will be visible to one observing guard 46 from its front surface (i.e., the portion of guard 46 on the same side as blade 16).
  • Guard 46 can be electrically grounded or otherwise undetectable when contacted by an opponent's weapon. Apertures 47 can be small enough to prevent false connections from being detected by an opponent's weapon tip or blade. Additionally, apertures 47 can be filled wholly or in part with a substance that will be sense-invisible to an opponent's weapon but still allow transmission of visible light. An example of such a substance is wire mesh. Guard 46 can contain a single aperture 47 or any number of apertures 47. Apertures 47 can be configured in any pattern, for example, in a pattern which optimizes visibility transmitted light while maintaining the sense-invisibility of guard 46 to an opponent's weapon. Additionally apertures 47 can be configured in a pattern unique to a particular fencer to further allow for personalization and to prevent confusion between weapons. Apertures 47 can extend to the edge of guard 46 and partial apertures such as aperture 48 can also extend to the edge of guard 46.
  • FIG. 3 depicts a foil or epee 12 along plane A-A in FIG. 2. Foil or epee 12 contains blade portion 20 and tip portion 16 which, when depressed on an opponent's target area causes a signal to be sent to at least one indicator light 55. Guard 46 is held in place between blade 20 and handle 61 by affixing mechanism 60. Affixing mechanism 60 can be, for example, a screw terminal of blade portion 20 which screws into a socket within handle 61. When indicator light 55 illuminates it produces light which diffusion layer 51 diffuses such that it is visible through at least aperture 47. Diffusion layer 51 can also be configured to diffuse light from indicator light 55 through multiple apertures, i.e., 47 and 49. Diffusion layer 51 can be composed of, for example, a translucent plastic material or any other material known in the art which allows for diffusion or other transmission of visible light. Alternatively indicator lights 55, 56, and 57 are individually addressable different colored light emitting diodes (LEDs) and can be configured in an array to deliver a variety of colors of visible light when activated. Further, a second array of LEDs 58 can also be individually addressed such that when activated, a first color can be produced by the array of indicator lights 55, 56, 57 and a second color can be produced by array 58. Diffusion layer 51 can also be configured or composed of materials which allow array 58 to deliver a first color of visible light to aperture 49 and indicator lights 55, 56, 57 can deliver a second color of visible light to aperture 47 and/or 48.
  • Indicator control mechanism 62 connects to indicator lights 55, 56, 57 and array 58 by an electrical/signaling connection 63. Indicator control mechanism 62 can include a power source for providing power over electrical/signaling connection 63. Alternatively indicator control mechanism 62 can be powered by connector 64 connected to wire 65 which draws power and/or receives signal information from a source external to foil or epee 12. When indicator control mechanism 62 either generates a signal or relays a signal from connector 64, it provides power to at least one of indicator lights 55, 56, 57 and array 58. Indicator control mechanism 62 can also provide a signal containing control information which directs at least one of indicator lights 55, 56, 57, and array 58 to emit light, at a particular brightness, color, frequency, and illumination time. Alternatively indicator lights 55, 56, 57 can be situated within an LED package (not shown), such as a semiconductor package with a control driver and color programming included.
  • Indicator lights 55, 56, 57, array 58, diffusion layer 51, and indicator control mechanism 62 components are protected from damage by covered 53. Cover 53 can be formed of a pad made from a material which is substantially malleable to protect the aforementioned components. Alternatively, cover 53 can be formed from a packaging material which substantially encapsulates the aforementioned components or completely envelops them, such as a hard plastic material so that indicator lights 55, 56, 57, array 58, diffusion layer 51, indicator control mechanism 62 and diffusion layer 51 form a single package. Further, diffusion layer can include a reflective surface disposed oppose guard 46 which aids in reflecting light from at least one indicator lights 55, 56, 57 and array 58 toward at least one of apertures 47, 48, and 49. FIG. 4 depicts a configuration of foil or epee 12 as in FIG. 3, except that raised portion 71 of diffusion layer 51 extends at least partially into aperture 49 to allow guard 46, aperture 49 and raised portion 71 of diffusion layer 51 to have a substantially planar surface. This may further be useful to prevent ridges from apertures from causing damage to an opponent's weapon or for causing contacts to fail to ground properly on guard 46. It may further allow better visibility of diffused light emitted beyond guard 46. Alternatively, raised portion 71 may be composed of a different material than diffusion layer 51. The material may be selected to permits the transmittance of at least some visible light from diffusion layer 51 and at least partially fill aperture 49 to, for example, better protect diffusion layer 51 from impact, allow conductance across guard 46 for grounding purposes, or to magnify or enhance diffused light from diffusion layer 51.
  • FIG. 5 depicts a saber 12 along plane A-A in FIG. 2. Saber 12 contains blade portion 20 which, when contacting on an opponent's target area causes a signal to be sent to at least one indicator light 55. Guard 46 includes a parabolic extension portion which protects a fencer's hand along the distance of handle 61. Guard 46 in a saber configuration of FIG. 5 can include an aperture 81 at a location along the extension portion and diffusion layer 51 can extend such that light from array 58 or indicator lights 55, 56, 57 may be visible through aperture 81.
  • The examples in FIGS. 2-5 can be applied to other sporting equipment as well, including, for example tennis rackets, baseball bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs, etc. Such a piece of sporting equipment will have the same at least one aperture, light diffusing portion, and integrated illumination device as in the guard 46 in FIG. 3 and can contain an array composed of multiple apertures in a portion as depicted in FIG. 2. Such lights can provide integrated indicator light feedback to a competitor, an opponent, a teammate, or a spectator to allow for better scoring, training, game play, visibility, and appreciation of the sport. FIG. 6 depicts a tennis racket 600 with a handle 601, a racket frame 602, and strings 603. Racket frame 602 includes apertures 49 with diffusion portions 51 for diffusing illumination from an integrated indicator illumination device (not shown) which can be, for example, contained within racket frame 602 or handle 601. Alternatively, strings 603 can be diffusion portions 51 such that integrated indicator illumination device can cause strings 603 to diffuse and light so that strings 603 provide indication of an event such as topspin, swing speed, ball contact with a particular portion of racket 600, etc. The invention of FIG. 6 an also apply to squash rackets, racketball rackets, table tennis paddles, badminton rackets, etc.
  • FIG. 7 depicts a golf club 700 having a handle portion 701, a shaft 702, and a club head 703 for striking a golf ball (i.e., effectuating portion). Shaft 702 can contain apertures 49 containing diffusion portions 51 such that integrated indicator illumination device (not shown) provides indication of an event such as topspin, swing speed, ball contact with a particular portion of club head 703, etc. The invention of FIG. 7 can also apply to hockey sticks, baseball bats and other sporting equipment used for striking a target.
  • While the invention has been shown and described with reference to certain exemplary embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and details may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

Claims (26)

1. A fencing weapon comprising:
a blade portion;
a handle; and
a guard portion, wherein said guard portion further comprises at least one aperture, a light diffusing portion and at least one integrated indicator illumination device.
2. The fencing weapon of claim 1, wherein the at least one integrated indicator illumination device further comprises at least one indicator light.
3. The fencing weapon of claim 1, wherein the at least one integrated indicator illumination device further comprises an array of indicator lights.
4. The fencing weapon of claim 3, wherein said at array of indicator lights can be programmed to output at least two of colors of visible light.
5. The fencing weapon of claim 3, wherein said array of indicator lights can illuminate a light diffusing portion such that a first color is visible through a first of said at least one aperture and a second color is visible through a second of said at least one aperture.
6. The fencing weapon of claim 2, wherein the at least one indicator light further comprises an input for receipt of a signal from an electrical scoring apparatus to turn on or to turn off.
7. The fencing weapon of claim 6, wherein said electrical scoring apparatus connects to said at least one indicator light by at least one wire connected to said fencing weapon.
8. The fencing weapon of claim 1, wherein said light diffusing portion further comprises a diffusive substance.
9. The fencing weapon of claim 8, wherein said plastic diffusive substance further comprises a plastic with adequate hardness to prevent breaking during fencing action.
10. The fencing weapon of claim 1, wherein said light diffusing portion and at least one integrated indicator illumination device are substantially covered by a cover.
11. The fencing weapon of claim 1, wherein said light diffusion portion substantially encapsulates said at least one integrated indicator illumination device.
12. The fencing weapon of claim 10, wherein said cover further comprises at least one reflective surface for reflecting light from said at least one integrated indicator illumination device toward said at least one aperture.
13. The fencing weapon of claim 2, wherein said at least one indicator light further comprises at least one light emitting diode.
14. The fencing weapon of claim 1, wherein said at least one aperture and said light diffusion portion further comprise a coating material which prevents that contacting said at least one aperture or said light diffusion portion with an opponent's weapon or weapon tip will register a valid touch.
15. The fencing weapon of claim 1, wherein the fencing weapon further comprises a power source for providing power to said integrated illumination device.
16. The fencing weapon of claim 1, wherein at least a portion of said light diffusing portion extends into said at least one aperture.
17. The fencing weapon of claim 1, wherein said at least one aperture is at least partially filled by a light transmitting substance.
18. A fencing weapon guard comprising:
a first layer comprising a guard containing at least one aperture,
a second layer disposed next to said guard comprising a light diffusing portion,
at least one integrated indicator illumination device adjacent to said light diffusion portion, and
a protective layer substantially covering said at least one integrated indicator illumination device and said second layer,
wherein said first layer, said second layer and said protective layer further comprise an opening for insertion of a fencing weapon blade.
19. The fencing weapon guard of claim 18, wherein said fencing weapon guard further comprises a power supply for providing power to said at least one integrated indicator illumination device.
20. The fencing weapon guard of claim 18, wherein said at least one aperture further comprises a series of apertures substantially forming a pattern.
21. The fencing weapon guard of claim 18, wherein said at least one integrated indicator illumination device is situated substantially beneath said at least one aperture.
22. The fencing weapon guard of claim 18, wherein said at least one integrated indicator illumination device is situated beneath at least a portion of said metal layer.
23. (canceled)
24. A piece of sporting equipment comprising:
a frame or shaft;
a handle;
wherein said frame, shaft, or handle, further comprises at least one aperture and a light diffusing portion and said piece of sporting equipment further comprises at least one integrated indicator illumination device which can provide illumination to said diffusing portion.
25. The piece of sporting equipment of claim 24, wherein the sporting equipment is a fencing weapon, a racket, a golf club, a baseball bat, a hockey stick, or a lacrosse stick.
26. The piece of sporting equipment of claim 24, wherein the sporting equipment is a stringed racket and said strings at least partially comprise the light diffusing portion.
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