US20160030825A1 - Multiple target speed and/or agility training systems - Google Patents

Multiple target speed and/or agility training systems Download PDF

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Publication number
US20160030825A1
US20160030825A1 US14/774,358 US201414774358A US2016030825A1 US 20160030825 A1 US20160030825 A1 US 20160030825A1 US 201414774358 A US201414774358 A US 201414774358A US 2016030825 A1 US2016030825 A1 US 2016030825A1
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module
device
training
sensor
seconds
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Abandoned
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US14/774,358
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Paul Mazzanobile
Evan Baumgarten
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Paul Mazzanobile
Evan Baumgarten
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Application filed by Paul Mazzanobile, Evan Baumgarten filed Critical Paul Mazzanobile
Priority to US14/774,358 priority patent/US20160030825A1/en
Priority to PCT/US2014/026609 priority patent/WO2014151880A1/en
Publication of US20160030825A1 publication Critical patent/US20160030825A1/en
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Abstract

Described herein are training systems comprising more than one training device useful for improving the agility and/or speed of a trainee. At least two of the training devices in a system comprise signaling modules that can be used to engage or dis-engage the trainee. The disclosed systems more accurately re-create actual “play” environments in sports or any other endeavors having more than one potential target of engagement (e.g., team sports).

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a national phase application based on International Application No. PCT/US2014/026609, filed on Mar. 13, 2014, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/784,519, filed Mar. 14, 2013, each of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE
  • The present disclosure relates generally to training systems and methods of their use for improving a trainee's speed and/or agility.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE ART
  • Speed and agility are critical in numerous sports and other activities. However, motion in predictable patterns and/or on agility courses can be seen in advance and can be quickly learned by athletes. Conventional training systems include stationary courses such as ladder drills, running through tires, or basketball “suicide” drills. Further systems exist, such as targeted chasing systems wherein an athlete moves as rapidly as possible towards a selected one of a set of illuminable lights. However, the selectively illuminable lights are stationary and thus the athlete can quickly adapt and/or anticipate the illumination sequence and/or memorize the locations of the fixed number of illuminable lights. In actual play, however, the motion may be unpredictable, and athletes must be able to react and move quickly. Devices that can move randomly so that athletes or trainees cannot learn or predict a pattern have also been developed. These devices, however, still do not accurately capture real “play” in many situations because they are singular in nature whereas numerous sports have a number of players engaged during play.
  • SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE
  • Disclosed herein are training systems and methods of their use that provide multiple targets that can move unpredictably and independently, simulating an environment more similar to actual play in team games and/or games with more than one moving target than conventional systems and methods. The system and methods can be used by any of a variety of trainees including athletes, aspiring athletes, those undergoing physical or recuperative training or therapies, and/or those using prosthetics.
  • One embodiment includes a training system comprising more than one training device wherein each of the more than one training devices comprises: a drive device module comprising at least one moving agency; a control module operatively associated with the drive device module, at least one input module to the control module; and wherein at least two of the training devices comprises a signaling module.
  • In another embodiment, the signaling modules create a visual cue, an auditory cue, and/or a visual cue and an auditory cue.
  • In another embodiment, at least two of the training devices further comprise a housing having an opening and a shut-off unit removably mated with the opening, wherein the control module is further operatively associated with the shut-off unit, the control module enabling the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the training device when the shut-off unit is mated with the opening and to not propel the device when the shut-off unit is not mated with the opening.
  • In another embodiment, each of the training devices further comprises a first sensor operably associated with a first sensor input module that provides input to the control module.
  • In another embodiment, the control module enables the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the training device in a direction associated with a second sensor based on input from a second sensor input module. In one embodiment, the second sensor can be worn by a trainee and transmit signals to the second sensor input module.
  • In another embodiment, the control module enables the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to stop propelling the training device when an input module signals that the distance between a first sensor and a second sensor falls below a distance value, or when someone physically dislodges the connection by removing a flag or any other device attached to the starting mechanism.
  • In another embodiment, the control module enables the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the training device towards a second sensor when an input module signals distance between a first sensor and the second sensor exceeds a distance value.
  • In another embodiment, the motion-control module that provides an input to the control module to cause the training device to move in a random movement pattern.
  • In another embodiment, the housings comprise a marker.
  • In another embodiment, the devices further comprise a memory unit module operatively associated with the drive device module, wherein the memory unit is configured to store movement data associated with the training device.
  • In another embodiment, the devices further comprise a movement selector module that provides an input to the control module to execute a pre-programmed movement pattern.
  • In another embodiment, the pre-programmed movement patterns comprise a plurality of difficulty settings.
  • In another embodiment, the first sensor is configured to detect a stationary or slow-moving object in the device's current path and to provide input to the control module causing the control module to stop or change the direction of device.
  • In another embodiment, the data stored by the memory unit module can be transferred to a computer.
  • Another embodiment includes a system comprising more than one training device, each of the more than one training devices comprising: a drive device module comprising at least one moving agency; a control module operatively associated with the drive device module, at least one input module to the control module; a signaling module; and a housing, wherein the housing comprises (i) an on/off switch, (ii) an opening and (iii) a shut-off unit removably mated with the opening, wherein the control module is further operatively associated with the shut-off unit, the control module enabling the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the training device when the shut-off unit is mated with the opening and to not propel the device when the shut-off unit is not mated with the opening.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1A depicts a perspective view of an exterior of a training device disclosed herein. FIG. 1B depicts a bottom view of an exterior of a training device disclosed herein.
  • FIG. 2 depicts a detail perspective view of an embodiment of a shut-off unit of the device disclosed herein.
  • FIGS. 3A and 3B depict another embodiment of the device disclosed herein (FIG. 3B), further comprising a remote-control unit (FIG. 3A).
  • FIG. 4A depicts a schematic diagram of modules of exemplary devices disclosed herein. FIG. 4B depicts additional optional input modules for various devices.
  • FIG. 5 depicts a schematic diagram of a device disclosed herein.
  • FIG. 6 depicts a bottom view of a device disclosed herein that can operate in an aquatic environment.
  • FIG. 7 depicts a perspective view of an exterior of a device disclosed herein comprising a marker and signaling module.
  • FIG. 8 depicts a perspective view of an exterior of a device disclosed herein with a sensor.
  • FIG. 9 depicts a top view of an embodiment of the device disclosed herein, wherein the device is configured to change directions to avoid colliding with an object.
  • FIG. 10 depicts a schematic diagram of a device disclosed herein with a sensor and CPU.
  • FIGS. 11A, 11B, and 11C depict perspective views of training devices disclosed herein utilizing visual and/or auditory cues to engage a trainee. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 11A, the device comprises a marker and a signaling module which provides an auditory cue. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 11B, the device comprises a marker and a signaling module which rises through and above the marker and which provides an auditory cue. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 11C, the device comprises a marker and a signaling module which rises through and above the marker and which provides a visual cue.
  • FIG. 12 depicts an embodiment of the system disclosed herein in use, wherein the system is used for individual play or training. In FIG. 12, a signaling module of one of the training devices signals the trainee that it is the current target of engagement, based on visual cues emitted from the signaling module. FIG. 12 also depicts a trainee chasing one of the training devices that is the current target of engagement, based on the visual cues emitted from the signaling module.
  • FIG. 13 depicts an embodiment of the system disclosed herein, wherein more than one trainee can participate in a training session. In FIG. 13, a signaling module of a training device signals the trainees that it is the current target of engagement, based on visual cues emitted from the signaling module.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Disclosed herein are training systems, training devices, and methods of using the same. The systems, devices, and methods utilize multiple training devices that move in pre-selected or random movement patterns unknown in advance to a trainee, which the trainee can chase. Additionally, in some embodiments one or more of the training devices can chase the trainee.
  • The term “trainee” means the individual who chases or is chased by the one or more training device for the purpose of improving speed and/or agility and awareness. A “user” can include the trainee, as well as a coach, a trainer, a therapist, a teammate, or any other individual.
  • While this disclosure has been presented as systems, devices, and methods for training, it can also beneficially be used in various embodiments as simply for exercise, such as aerobic exercise, individual or group play, team games, or other recreation, as well as physical therapy, teaching people to walk, training people to use prosthetics, and measuring their progress. This disclosure may also be used to train and/or improve the skills of a non-human animal.
  • Because the systems and methods described herein utilize multiple devices (i.e., more than one), the trainee must observe and track more than one device in order to sense when the device to engage has changed. These systems and methods serve to increase the trainee's speed, agility, and awareness of the playing atmosphere and events within it.
  • In practice, discrete training sessions can end when the trainee stops an “engaged” training device's movement and/or the emission of signal from its signaling module, in any of various ways. Such stopping of an engaged training device can be, in the example of embodiments comprising a sensor, by triggering the engaged training device's sensor, for example by touching the training device, or by approaching within a certain distance of the device. In other embodiments, for example comprising a shut-off unit, the stopping can be by removing a shut-off unit from the engaged device, thus causing the device to stop its movement and/or signaling as a result. In other embodiments, the stopping of movement or signaling can be by the trainee flipping an on/off switch of the device from “on” to “off.” In one embodiment, the trainee must stop the movement of all devices or a number of devices within a system to end a particular training session. As will be described in further detail below, the signaling module of the training devices can be motion-sensored so as to change the emitted signal, or turn off or on, based on the trainee's movement and the sensor falling under a set or variable distance. The distance can be a larger distance based on the proximity between the trainee's body and the sensor or a smaller distance based on the proximity between the trainee's body and hand or foot, for example. In other embodiments, the movement and/or signal emission of the training devices can be associated with a shut-off unit, can be remote controlled, and/or can follow a pre-programmed or random movement pattern.
  • The training devices can be used on land or in aquatic environments, as is described below. In some embodiments, the signaling module may be operatively associated with a shut-off unit. In one embodiment, the training devices include a base with a propulsion mechanism such as any number of wheels, belts, propellers, fans, jets, etc. “Base,” as used herein, is synonymous with “housing.” A base may be any shape, and in some embodiments is round (see, e.g., the housing 102 of FIG. 1), and in others is square or rectangular (see, e.g., the base 102 of FIG. 7). Bases can also include a signaling module and/or visual enhancement comprising a telescoping pole or other mechanism which can raise or lower the signaling module and/or visual enhancement; e.g., in some embodiments the mechanism can raise a signaling module to a level approximately equal to the trainee's line of sight or higher or lower as the particular training requires. In some embodiments, the mechanism can raise the signaling module to a height of 12 feet. In a particular embodiment wherein the training device comprises a base and a marker, as described below, the signaling module can be attached to the base and extend upwards through the top of the marker.
  • The at least two training devices of each system have the ability to identify themselves as a current target of engagement by incorporating a signaling module. The signaling module signals the trainee by altering its signal, such as for example by changing its lighting status, changing colors, vibrating, emitting a sound, odor, or chemical, or any other manner that can signal a trainee, or any combination thereof. In this manner, various devices can sequentially or simultaneously “engage” the trainee by signaling to the trainee that the particular device is the one to be chased or avoided, or is the one that will be doing the chasing. In some embodiments the signaling module can comprise a light, light bar, or series of lights. The light(s) can be flashing on and off, changing colors, changing intensity of the lights, or changing patterns where there is a series of lights, etc. Further, the light(s) can be white and/or colored; or, in embodiments comprising a series of lights, the lights can be all the same color or a variety of colors.
  • Note that a “visual enhancement,” as used herein, refers to a static visual enhancement of the device, such as an object rising from the base of the device, or coloring or any other demarcation or decoration of any part of the training device. Such a visual enhancement can be, for example but without limitation, a flag, two-dimensional or three-dimensional graphic, or a simple pole, rod, or stick of any color and material, and of whatever height such that it protrudes from the base sufficiently as to be visible to the user. In contrast, the signaling module provides dynamic, changing visual cues to the trainee.
  • In particular embodiments, the visual enhancement and/or signaling module can be adjustable. For example, the visual enhancement and/or signaling module can be adjustable to suit particular use characteristics such as the height of the trainee or the physical environment such as the presence of grasses or other visual obstructions or winds. In more particular embodiments, one or more of the height, position, angle, tilt, and/or rotational position (relative to the housing) of the visual enhancement and/or signaling module can be adjustable. As an example, when the visual enhancement is a flag, the height of the flag may be adjustable by constructing the flag of a telescoping material, such a series of coaxial tubes. As another example, when the signaling module includes a speaker emitting sounds, the volume of the sound can be adjusted up or down. As another example, when the signaling module comprises a light bar, the lights may be adjusted to be brighter for day use and dimmer for night use or vice versa.
  • Multiple visual enhancements and/or signaling modules may be available in a single device, such that the user could select one or more visual enhancement(s) and/or signaling module(s) depending on the characteristics or preference of the trainee and/or the physical environment. The visual enhancement and/or signaling module may also be removably connected such that they are interchangeable and the user can select a particular visual enhancement and/or signaling module depending on the characteristics or preference of the trainee and/or the physical environment and install it on the training device. In various embodiments wherein each training device comprises more than one signaling module, a signaling module that creates sound can be turned off while a signaling module creates light can be turned on, and vice versa. As is understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, various other hinges, sliders, locking devices, etc. can be used to create adjustable visual enhancements and/or signaling modules.
  • As described thus forth, the visual and auditory cues of the training devices have been described as “engaging” a trainee; that is to signal to the trainee that a particular device is the “one” to engage. The systems described herein also include, however, other approaches to signaling or “engaging” the trainee. For example, in one embodiment, the signaling module can provide a signal to avoid engaging with a particular device. This approach could help train an athlete to avoid engaging with decoys or distracters during play. In another embodiment, devices signaling a visual cue could be primary targets to pursue or avoid; devices signaling auditory cues could be secondary targets to pursue or avoid; and non-signaling modules could be tertiary targets to pursue or avoid. Thus, trainees could obtain additional points or credit scores in a training round for capturing or avoiding the most primary devices. Performance could also require capture or avoidance of one primary signaling module, one secondary signaling module, and one tertiary signaling module in any order or a predetermined order.
  • In a particular embodiment, the base is associated with a marker. “Marker,” as used herein, is meant to include any of various structures recognizable to a trainee as delineating a training course, and can be similar to those as are commonly used in traffic management such as to control or direct traffic, or in non-traffic uses such as in public spaces to mark off areas. Some examples of markers include, without limitation, a bollard, a pylon, a post, and a cone. The marker can be made of any of a variety of materials as are known in the art, such as rubber, plastic, thermoplastic, a lightweight metal, etc. In some embodiments, such as where it is desired to have a disposable marker or one that is easily replaceable, the marker can be made of material such as paper, cardboard, or some recyclable material, and can be easily attached to the base for use, and then detached from the base after use. The markers can be any of a variety of sizes and heights as may be desired; for example, in some embodiments a marker can have a height of about 5 cm or smaller, 10 in., 12 in., 18 in., 28 in., 36 in., 1 m or larger, or any size in between. The marker can be of any color, and the color of the marker can be specifically selected to increase its visibility, such as for example bright or fluorescent colors, “safety” orange, lime green, yellow, orange, pink, red, white, green, blue, etc. The marker can also have reflective material or striping on it, or itself be made of reflective material, to further increase its visibility at night.
  • Any type of detector known in the art may be used for the sensors disclosed herein, such as a mechanical sensor (e.g., whisker-like fiber), an electronic sensor (e.g., ultrasonic, microwave, infrared, laser, videographic, tomographic), or combinations thereof and as is understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, sensors can be positioned at various locations on the device to facilitate sensing in 360 degrees and/or three dimensions. In particular embodiments such as that shown in FIG. 9, the device is configured to stop or change speed and/or direction to avoid an object detected by the at least one sensor. As used herein, a “slow-moving object” is one that would not escape the device's intended path, but for the device's stopping or changing direction. In some embodiments, the device can be configured to change its signal emission when the distance between it and another object or individual is greater than or less than a certain amount.
  • Embodiments disclosed herein also include interactive training systems. As used herein, the term “interactive” refers to communication between two or more entities. Interaction can occur between a human and a machine, between humans, between machines, and so forth. In these embodiments, any of the more than one training devices described herein may comprise a sensor configured to communicate with at least one complementary sensor worn by one or more trainees. In particular embodiments, each device is configured to determine the distance and/or directional relationship between the device and the at least one sensor worn by the trainee. In some embodiments the trainee can wear the at least one sensor, for example, but without limitation, on the trainee's ankle or both ankles, wrist or both wrists, a bib, a vest, any other body part, and so on, and/or any combination or multiple of the above. In particular embodiments the sensor can comprise a mask, cuff, or some other article worn by the trainee such that trainee diagnostics can be monitored during, before and/or after training. Also, as above for detecting a slow-moving object, the at least one sensor can also be positioned at various locations on the device to facilitate sensing the complementary sensor in 360 degrees and/or three dimensions.
  • In particular embodiments, the sensor and a complementary sensor worn by a trainee comprise a wireless sensor network (WSN). In one embodiment, a distance between the device and one or more trainees is determined by a received signal strength (RSS) protocol (e.g., based on the attenuation between a transmitted signal and the corresponding received signal). In another embodiment, a distance between the device and one or more trainees is determined by a time of arrival (TOA) or a time difference of arrival (TDOA) protocol (e.g., by calculating a time of flight of a packet transmitted from the device and received by a complementary sensor or vice versa). In another embodiment, a distance and/or directional relationship between the device and one or more trainees is determined by the use of a global positioning satellite (GPS) system.
  • In particular embodiments comprising a sensor, the control module is configured to enable the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the one or more training devices in a direction associated with the trainee's sensor. These interactive training systems allow the device and trainee to interact, that is the behavior of each can change based on the activity of the other. This device/trainee interaction can improve the benefit obtained by the trainee over multiple practice sessions.
  • In particular embodiments, the at least one sensor worn by a trainee is configured to measure and/or monitor one or more of various diagnostics of the trainee, including without limitation heart rate, oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide emission, chemicals exhaled, calories consumed, fat burned, various parameters of metabolism such as lactic acid levels, skin conductivity, blood pressure, hydration level, lung capacity, and so forth. In some embodiments, the various one or more devices can significantly slow or stop movement and/or signal when one or more of a diagnostic of the trainee attains, surpasses, or falls below a particular level, threshold, and/or rate, and/or after one or more diagnostics has been maintained at a particular level over a period of time, and so forth.
  • In particular embodiments, the training device comprises a movement and/or a signaling pattern selector, to select the movement patterns of the device and/or the signaling patterns of the device's signaling module. The movement and/or signaling pattern selector can be, without limitation, a switch, a button, a toggle, a dial or a touchpad, or any combination thereof. The movement and/or signaling pattern selector can also be a cellular phone, smartphone, electronic book reader, tablet computers, notebook computer, personal data assistant, video gaming console or controller, television set top box and portable media player, or any mobile or electronic device, among others. In particular embodiments, the movement and/or signaling pattern selector can be associated with a remote-control unit (such as 302 of FIG. 3A). As is understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, the movement and/or signaling pattern selector is appropriately coupled to the control module and central processing unit (CPU). See, e.g., FIG. 10.
  • In particular embodiments, the training device is configured to move in a pattern. The pattern can include, without limitation, a line, a zigzag, an arc, a curve, a sinusoidal curve, a circle, a semi-circle, an oval, a random path, and combinations thereof. In particular embodiments, the pattern is selected by a user before initiating the training session. The pattern can also be randomly selected by the device and in certain embodiments, can change during the training session. In other embodiments, the training device remains stationary, but the signaling module is configured to change signaling patterns, such as flashing lights on and off for a set period of time, emitting sound for a set period of time, etc.
  • In particular embodiments, a motion-control module and/or movement-selection module may be configured to cause the device to: (a) move up to 1 mile per hour (mph), up to 2 mph, up to 3 mph, up to 4 mph, up to 5 mph, up to 6 mph, up to 7 mph, up to 8 mph, up to 9 mph, up to 10 mph, up to 15 mph, up to 20 mph, up to 25 mph, up to 30 mph, up to 35 mph, up to 40 mph, and/or up to 45 mph; (b) change speeds at a particular frequency, e.g. abruptly starting and stopping and speeding up or slowing down with changes occurring every 1 second, every 2 seconds, every 3 seconds, every 4 seconds, every 5 seconds, every 6 seconds, every 7 seconds, every 8 seconds, every 9 seconds, every 10 seconds, every 11 seconds, every 12 seconds, every 13 seconds, every 14 seconds, every 15 seconds, every 16 seconds, every 17 seconds, every 18 seconds, every 19 seconds, every 20 seconds, every 21 seconds, every 22 seconds, every 23 seconds, every 24 seconds, every 25 seconds, every 26 seconds, every 27 seconds, every 28 seconds, every 29 seconds, every 30 seconds and combinations of the foregoing intervals; (c) change directions at a high frequency, e.g. one directional change every 1 second, every 2 seconds, every 3 seconds, every 4 seconds, every 5 seconds, every 6 seconds, every 7 seconds, every 8 seconds, every 9 seconds, every 10 seconds, every 11 seconds, every 12 seconds, every 13 seconds, every 14 seconds, every 15 seconds, every 16 seconds, every 17 seconds, every 18 seconds, every 19 seconds, every 20 seconds, every 21 seconds, every 22 seconds, every 23 seconds, every 24 seconds, every 25 seconds, every 26 seconds, every 27 seconds, every 28 seconds, every 29 seconds, every 30 seconds, every 31 seconds, every 32 seconds, every 33 seconds, every 34 seconds, every 35 seconds, every 36 seconds, every 37 seconds, every 38 seconds, every 39 seconds, every 40 seconds, every 41 seconds, every 42 seconds, every 43 seconds, every 44 seconds, every 45 seconds, every 46 seconds, every 47 seconds, every 48 seconds, every 49 seconds, every 50 seconds, every 51 seconds, every 52 seconds, every 53 seconds, every 54 seconds, every 55 seconds, every 56 seconds, every 57 seconds, every 58 seconds, every 59 seconds, every 60 seconds, and combinations of the foregoing intervals; and/or, (d) change directions at an angle, e.g. 1° to 359° and every degree in between, including 1°, 10°, 20°, 30°, 40°, 50°, 60°, 70°, 80°, 90°, 100°, 110°, 120°, 130°, 140°, 150°, 160°, 170°, 180°, 190°, 200°, 210°, 220°, 230°, 240°, 250°, 260°, 270°, 280°, 290°, 300°, 310°, 320°, 330°, 340°, 350°, and 359°, from a current direction of travel in either direction at an interval of every 1 second, every 2 seconds, every 3 seconds, every 4 seconds, every 5 seconds, every 6 seconds, every 7 seconds, every 8 seconds, every 9 seconds, every 10 seconds, every 11 seconds, every 12 seconds, every 13 seconds, every 14 seconds, every 15 seconds, every 16 seconds, every 17 seconds, every 18 seconds, every 19 seconds, every 20 seconds, every 21 seconds, every 22 seconds, every 23 seconds, every 24 seconds, every 25 seconds, every 26 seconds, every 27 seconds, every 28 seconds, every 29 seconds, every 30 seconds, every 31 seconds, every 32 seconds, every 33 seconds, every 34 seconds, every 35 seconds, every 36 seconds, every 37 seconds, every 38 seconds, every 39 seconds, every 40 seconds, every 41 seconds, every 42 seconds, every 43 seconds, every 44 seconds, every 45 seconds, every 46 seconds, every 47 seconds, every 48 seconds, every 49 seconds, every 50 seconds, every 51 seconds, every 52 seconds, every 53 seconds, every 54 seconds, every 55 seconds, every 56 seconds, every 57 seconds, every 58 seconds, every 59 seconds, every 60 seconds, and combinations of the foregoing intervals. Each of these parameters can be combined in numerous combinations randomly or according to chosen selection logic parameters to generate a large number of movement patterns.
  • In particular embodiments, the distance value is selected by a user before initiating a training session. In particular embodiments, the distance value is selected by a user from a list of minimum distance values. In particular embodiments, the minimum distance value is programmed or entered into one or more of the devices by a user. In particular embodiments, the minimum distance value is selected by each of the devices. In particular embodiments, the minimum distance value is programmed into the CPU. In particular embodiments, a separation value is 1 foot to 20 feet; for example, 1 foot, 2 feet, 3 feet, 4 feet, 5 feet, 6 feet, 7 feet, 8 feet, 9 feet, 10 feet, 11 feet, 12 feet, 13 feet, 14 feet, 15 feet, 16 feet, 17 feet, 18 feet, 19 feet, or 20 feet. This distance can also be extended to, for example, a distance such as 50 feet or 100 feet or more depending on the physical space available and the skill and speed level of the trainee. In another embodiment, the separation value is selected by a user from a list of separation values stored in a memory unit operatively associated with the devices.
  • In various embodiments, a device can significantly slow or stop when the distance between the sensor on the device and the sensor on the trainee falls below a predetermined separation value. In other embodiments, a device can significantly slow or stop when the distance between the senor on the device and the sensor on the trainee exceeds a predetermined separation value. In other embodiments, a device may propel away from the trainee when the distance between the respective sensors falls below a predetermined separation value. In various embodiments, a device may change modes, from being the chasee to being the chaser, when the distance between the sensor on the device and the sensor on the trainee falls below a predetermined separation value. In various embodiments, a device may change modes, from being the chaser to being the chasee, when the distance between the sensor on the device and the senor on the trainee exceeds a predetermined separation value. In various embodiments, a device may change modes, from being the chasee to being the chaser, when the distance between the sensor on the device and the sensor on the trainee exceeds a predetermined separation value. In various embodiments, a device may be propelled toward the trainee's sensor when the distance between the sensor on the device and the sensor on the trainee exceeds a predetermined separation value.
  • In particular embodiments, a rest interval occurs between mode changes or training sessions. In other embodiments, there is no rest interval. When a rest interval is employed it can be a set or variable amount of time (for example, 5 seconds to 5 minutes) or can be based on a characteristic of the trainee, such as heart rate. In this embodiment, a heart rate sensor can be linked to the trainee's sensor such that the trainee's sensor signals a rest stop to the system of devices until a predetermined heart rate is achieved.
  • In particular embodiments, a CPU is configured to store movement and other data associated with the trainee such as the trainee's speed, direction, type of course, time to capture or be captured by the devices generally and within particular settings, diagnostics related to the trainee, etc. In particular embodiments, each of the devices further comprises a CPU associated with the memory unit that is capable of connecting to an external computer or other device to download such information. In some embodiments the external computer or other device is one or more of a mobile device, a laptop computer, a desktop or personal computer (PC), a mobile digital device such as an iPod® (Apple, Cupertino, Calif.), a cellular phone, or other electronic device, etc. The data can be used to provide feedback to a user to further improve the trainee's speed, agility, and/or reaction time. The data can also be used for additional purposes such as, without limitation, research or marketing purposes. In some embodiments the external computer or other device comprises or is connected to a monitor or other viewing devise such that the downloaded information can be viewed. In particular embodiments the downloaded information is viewable on the remote control. See, e.g., FIGS. 3A and 3B.
  • In various embodiments, the CPU can be configured to cause the device to stop or change direction and/or speed when a sensor associated with the CPU senses a stationary or slow-moving object in its path. In particular embodiments, the device is configured such that, when the at least one sensor detects an object, the control module causes the device to change speed and/or direction in a manner to avoid colliding with the object. In another embodiment, the at least one drive device module is configured to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the device in a manner to avoid colliding with the object detected by the first sensor. In particular embodiments of the system described herein, the first sensor is configured such that it can distinguish between a corresponding second sensor associated with a particular trainee and second sensors worn by other trainees. In particular embodiments the first sensor is configured such that it can distinguish between a corresponding second sensor associated with one or more trainees, and an object, such as a wall or obstacle the training device can thus avoid.
  • In some embodiments, the training devices can be interactive through a user interface device. For example, a user may have an interface device that communicates with the training device. In certain embodiments, the interface device may display possible movement patterns suggested by the CPU of the training device based on the length of time the trainee wishes to use the device, the size of the training space available, the difficulty requested, the skill the trainee wishes to improve, etc. and the user can select from those possible movement patterns. The user's selection would then be transmitted to the training device. In additional embodiments, the user can change the movement pattern, speed, difficulty, range, mode, etc. of the training device in real-time using an interface device.
  • In some embodiments, the training devices can have a user interface device and/or a receiving device by which the user can communicate with the training device in real-time or to preprogram the device. As used herein, the term “user interface device” is intended to include, but is not limited to, remote-control units. In various embodiments, a user interface device could be integrated in to the training device, for example, without limitation, one or more switches, toggles, keys, sliders, buttons, digital interfaces, touchscreen interfaces, or a combination thereof. In various embodiments, interface devices and receiving devices that can be used in the systems and methods disclosed herein can be portable. It should be understood, however, that any type of computing and transmitting/receiving device capable of determining, processing, and transmitting and/or receiving user input can be used in accordance with various embodiments disclosed herein. The interface devices and receiving devices can include, for example, smartphones, electronic book readers, tablet computers, notebook computers, personal data assistants, cellular phones, video gaming consoles or controllers, television set top boxes and portable media players, among others. The transmitting and receiving aspects of the systems and methods disclosed herein can include wired or wireless components operable to communicate with one or more separate devices within a communication range of the particular wireless protocol. The wireless protocol can be any appropriate protocol used to enable devices to communicate wirelessly, such as Bluetooth, cellular, or IEEE 802.11. It should be understood that the computing device may also include one or more wired communications interfaces for coupling and communicating with other devices. In additional embodiments, the user interface device could also be a portable device that is capable of being docked with the training device, and can function either remotely or while docked to the training device.
  • As used herein, the term “real-time” or “real-time interaction” means that a response to an input is “current” as opposed to “delayed.” A response in “real-time” typically occurs prior to additional input being sent, similar to a conversation in which each party takes turns speaking. “Real-time” can also refer to a system that provides a response to an external event within a given time period, i.e., such as satisfying a customer need. As used herein, “real-time” information-processing interaction refers to a reasonable amount of time given user set-up and bandwidth, i.e., a response occurring as soon as possible for a given workload.
  • In certain embodiments, a user can select from a plurality of difficulty settings. Higher difficulty settings can be associated with one or more of increasing speed of the engaged device, increased number of changes between devices to engage; changing between devices to engage that have higher distances between them; increased frequency of changes in speed and/or direction of engaged devices, increased magnitude of directional changes and/or combinations of the foregoing. In another embodiment, the device is configured to prompt a user to select an initial difficulty setting, wherein to “unlock” a subsequent, more challenging difficulty setting, a trainee must complete the initial difficulty setting. In particular embodiments, the CPU (for example, 406 in FIG. 5) is configured to require a trainee to complete a first level of difficulty before selecting a second, more advanced level of difficulty. Moreover, different settings can be chosen for different training purposes. For example, some settings may be geared towards enhancing speed over agility and these settings could have the devices and/or engaged devices travel in straighter paths for longer periods of time at higher speeds than other settings geared more towards agility.
  • Within a system, devices can have different priorities or hierarchies. For example, one primary device can emit signals to control movement of other devices individually or in groups. The primary device can be pre-determined within a given set of devices at the time of manufacturing (and optionally given a characteristic or mark to designate it as such). The identity of a primary device can also change between training sessions based on its selection by a user. Such selection can be by actuating a primary device module on a device or simply by selecting training session parameters on the particular device.
  • In some embodiments a trainee can also chase the device without the goal of removing a shut-off unit (for example, 112 in FIG. 1A) or otherwise stopping the device, but rather to follow a prescribed pattern. In some embodiments, motion of the device can be determined by a magnetostatic device that produces a random movement pattern. In other embodiments, motion can be controlled by a remote user via a remote-control unit (such as 302 in FIG. 3A). Either way, the unknown and/or erratic movement of the device of the present disclosure can require the trainee chasing the device to change speed and direction quickly, therefore developing speed and agility. Depending on changing signals produced by signaling modules, the trainee must always be prepared to change his or her focus to a different device within the system.
  • In various embodiments, the devices and/or methods disclosed herein can be used for exercise, such as aerobic exercise, individual or group play, team games, or other recreation. In various embodiments, the devices and/or methods disclosed herein can be used to improve speed and/or agility and/or awareness in group play and/or team games.
  • In one embodiment, a plurality of trainees can simultaneously train with a system disclosed herein (see, e.g., FIG. 13). In some embodiments, when the distance between one of the more than one devices and any one of the plurality of trainees falls below a value, the device can signal that a trainee “won” by significantly slowing or stopping movement, and/or changing its emission signal. Different trainees may also have different objectives during a training session. For example, in one embodiment, one trainee may be tasked with catching and stopping all devices emitting a visual cue and a second trainee may be tasked with chasing and stopping all devices emitting an auditory cue (or non-signaling devices).
  • In various embodiments, the devices and methods described herein can also be used for physical and/or recuperative therapies. For example, the devices and methods of this disclosure can be used for rehabilitation in an institutional or private residence setting. The ability to adjust the difficulty provides a user the flexibility to increase or decrease the required exertion by the trainee based on their current needs. Although the devices and methods described herein allow for the assistance of a therapist, they can also be performed by the trainee alone. Additionally, the data collected during training sessions can be used to monitor the progress of a user and/or to design further treatment programs.
  • In various embodiments, the devices and methods described herein are employed as a diagnostic tool for a physician and/or therapist. For example, as a portion of a patient intake, a therapist or physician (user) may have a patient (trainee) attempt a variety of difficulty settings and/or movement patterns to assess their abilities.
  • As used herein, “trainee” is not meant to be limited to human individuals, and is meant to include any species of animal that is capable of being trained, such as, without limitation, dogs, cats, rats, dolphins, pigeons, parakeets, horses, pigs, elephants, etc.
  • In various embodiments, the trainee may be a non-human animal. For example, the trainee may be a dog, and the devices and methods described herein may be used to improve the ability to distinguish non-engaged devices from engaged devices, speed, and/or agility of the dog for the purposes of, for example, without limitation, herding livestock, speed and/or agility competitions, rescue situations, and/or hunting. As an example, a sensor can be worn by the dog, sensors can be present on the devices, and the more than one device can emit sounds like livestock animals. When the distance between the sensor on the dog and the sensor on one of the devices falls below a certain predetermined separation value, the device can act as the livestock would, and be propelled away from the dog. Thus, the dog can be trained to herd the devices, or it can improve its herding ability. In another example, the more than one devices can have removably mated shut-off units with visual enhancements that are three-dimensional representations of a single animal or a variety of animals, such as rabbits or ducks. The device(s) can then engage the trainee(s) by emitting the odor of the animal the visual enhancement resembles, and the training session ends when one of the trainees catches the device and removes the visual enhancement. The non-engaged devices may or may not emit a different odor in order to signal to the trainee(s) that they are decoy devices.
  • In another example, the trainee may be a dolphin or a sea lion, and the devices and methods described herein can be used to train the dolphin or sea lion for the purposes of, for example, without limitation, rescue situations, or the pursuit and retrieval of underwater devices. In another example, the trainee may be a pigeon, and the devices and methods described herein may be used to train the pigeon to be a carrier pigeon or homing pigeon. In a further example, the trainee may be a horse, and the devices and methods described herein may be used to improve the horse's performance in a variety of competition events such as, without limitation, eventing, show jumping, and/or rodeo events.
  • Methods of Use
  • With the devices and systems described herein, one or more trainees can participate within a training session. For example, one trainee can use the devices alone acting as trainee and user with no other individuals present. Alternatively, a number of trainees can use the devices serially, each having an individual training session. A number of trainees can also simultaneously chase the devices with the trainee removing the shut-off unit of the currently-signaling module being declared the winner. Winning a training session could be associated with various incentives or prizes. Additionally, trainees could be grouped in pairs or teams to compete against other pairs or teams. In addition to improving the speed and/or agility of the individual trainees, such pair or teamwork could also serve to improve communication and coordination between members of a pair or team.
  • With the systems described herein, more than one trainee can also participate within a training session. The number of trainees is limited solely by, for example, the capabilities of the various devices' sensors to communicate, track, and respond to more than one trainee sensor. As is understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, simultaneous interaction is available based on use of different channels, signals, and/or frequencies.
  • In particular embodiments, a method includes enabling a trainee to improve speed and/or agility by exposing the trainee to a training system comprising more than one training device, each of which comprises a housing comprising a signaling module, an on/off switch and a control module, wherein the control module is operatively associated with at least one moving agency, a drive device module operatively associated with the control module and the at least one moving agency.
  • In additional embodiments, the methods include enabling a trainee to improve speed and/or agility by exposing the trainee to a training system comprising (a) more than one training device, each of which comprises a housing comprising a signaling module, an on/off switch and a control module, wherein the control module is operatively associated with at least one moving agency, a drive device module operatively associated with the control module and the at least one moving agency and a first sensor operatively associated with the control module; and (b) a second sensor not associated with the housing, wherein the control module is configured to enable the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the training device when the on/off switch is in an “on” position, and wherein the first sensor is configured to communicate with the second sensor.
  • In particular embodiments, methods disclosed herein include improving the speed and/or agility of a trainee, by (a) providing a training system as disclosed herein; (b) turning the on-off switch of the training devices to an “on” position; (c) prompting the trainee to chase the training device that is signaling at any given time; and (d) repeating steps (b) and (c) a plurality of times.
  • In additional embodiments disclosed herein, methods include improving the speed and/or agility of a trainee by transferring movement data associated with the trainee and/or devices to a computer. The movement data can then be analyzed to monitor the trainee's form, agility, speed, responsiveness, time to complete a difficulty level, and the like. Over time, the movement data is useful in monitoring a trainee's improvement in agility and/or speed through repeated iterations of the training methods disclosed herein.
  • In some embodiments disclosed herein, a training session can start or stop based on one or more of the trainee's data monitored by the various devices, as described above, or based on a measurement of time such as time until the next competition, time passed since the last competition, etc.
  • Methods disclosed herein also comprise providing a set of training devices, each device comprising: a housing comprising a signaling module and an opening, wherein the housing is operatively associated with at least one moving agency, a shut-off unit removably mated with the opening, a control module operatively associated with the shut-off unit and a drive device module the control module enabling the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the training device when the shut-off unit is mated with the opening and a first sensor operatively associated with the control module.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the control module is configured to enable the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the training device in a direction associated with a second sensor.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the control module is configured to enable the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to stop propelling the training device when a distance between the first sensor and a second sensor falls below a minimum distance value.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the control module is configured to enable the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the training device towards a second sensor when a distance between the first sensor and the second sensor exceeds a separation value.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the providing further includes a motion control device configured to cause the device to move in a random movement pattern.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the shut-off unit comprises a visual enhancement and/or signaling module.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the visual enhancement is a flag, a two dimensional graphic or a three-dimensional graphic.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the visual enhancement is a three dimensional graphic of any sort.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the signaling module comprises one or more lights. In other embodiments, the signaling module provides an auditory cue.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the providing further includes a motion control device configured to cause the training device to move in a particular movement pattern.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the visual enhancement is a flag and wherein the height of the flag is adjustable. In other embodiments of the methods, the signaling module is one or more lights. In other embodiments of the methods, the signaling module is provides an auditory cues.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the providing further includes a memory unit operatively associated with the drive device module, wherein the memory unit is configured to store movement data associated with the device.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the providing further includes a movement selector operatively associated with the drive device module.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the providing further includes a memory unit operatively associated with the drive device module and the movement selector, wherein the memory unit is configured to store movement data associated with the device and the movement selector is configured to allow a user to select a movement pattern stored in the memory unit.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the device is configured to allow a user to select from a plurality of difficulty settings.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the first sensor is configured to detect a stationary or slow-moving object in its current path and the drive device module is configured to cause the at least one moving agency to stop or change direction upon the detection.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the device is configured such that movement data is capable of being transferred from the memory unit to a computer or any other device.
  • Another embodiment includes a method of providing a training device comprising: a housing comprising a signaling module and an on/off switch, wherein the housing is operatively associated with at least one moving agency; a first sensor associated with the housing; a drive device module operatively associated with the at least one moving agency; and, a control module operatively associated with the first sensor and the drive device module, the control module configured to enable the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the training device towards or away from a second sensor when the on/off switch is set to an “on” position.
  • In another embodiment of the methods, the control module is configured to stop propelling the device when the distance between the first and second sensors (a) falls below a separation value, or (b) exceeds a separation value.
  • Another embodiment includes a method of providing more than one training device, each device comprising: a housing comprising a signaling module and an opening, wherein the housing is operatively associated with at least one moving agency; a first sensor associated with the housing; a drive device module operatively associated with the at least one moving agency; a control module operatively associated with the first sensor and the drive device module; and, a visual enhancement and/or signaling module removably associated with the opening and comprising a motion-control module configured to cause the device to change directions in one or more preselected movement patterns and/or propel the device at one or more speeds and such that when the visual enhancement and/or signaling module is removably mated with the opening, the control module is configured to enable the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the training device in a direction away from a second sensor when a distance value between the first and second sensors is below a separation value.
  • The Examples below describe the optimization of the methods disclosed herein. These Examples are included to demonstrate particular embodiments of the disclosure. Those of ordinary skill in the art should recognize in light of the present disclosure that many changes can be made to the specific embodiments disclosed herein and still obtain a like or similar result without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure. In the Examples and Figures described below, each individual component is assigned one numerical identifier across various embodiments of the component. For example, 202 refers to the various signaling modules described in FIGS. 1A, 2, 4A, 4B, 7, 11A, 11B, 11C, 12, and 13.
  • Exemplary Training Devices
  • FIGS. 1A and 1B depict various views of a device disclosed herein. FIG. 1A depicts a perspective exterior view of one embodiment of a device disclosed herein. In some embodiments of the base, a housing 102 can comprise a plurality of sections 104, which can be coupled together. In such embodiments, sections 104 can move independently of each other, or in coordinated movements with each other. However, in other embodiments, a housing 102 can comprise a single hollow member. In still other embodiments, a housing 102 can comprise a skeleton or scaffolding to which the various components described herein are attached. In still other embodiments, a housing 102 can comprise a shell or skin inside of which the various components described herein are encased. As shown in FIG. 1A, such a housing 102 can be substantially circular in shape, but in other embodiments can have any other known and/or convenient geometry, such as rectangular or square. In some embodiments, a housing 102 can be made of a resilient plastic, polymer, polycarbonate, metal, alloy, or any other known and/or convenient material. As shown in FIG. 1A, a housing 102 can be coupled with a timing mechanism 120, such as but not limited to, a timer, stopwatch, clock, and/or any other known and/or convenient mechanism for timing a trainee and/or displaying time. The device depicted in FIG. 1A also has a signaling module 202 that produces a visual or auditory cue. In this depicted embodiment, the signaling module is part of a shut-off unit 112.
  • As shown in FIG. 1B, a plurality of moving agencies 106 can be coupled with a drive device module and housing 102. Moving agencies 106 can be wheels, casters, bearings, or any other known and/or convenient device. In some embodiments, moving agencies 106 can have a rotational range of motion of 360 degrees, or any other known and/or convenient range. As shown in FIG. 1B, moving agencies 106 can be coupled with a drive device module and housing 102 at points on the underside of and, in some embodiments, substantially proximal to the periphery of a housing 102. However, in other embodiments, moving agencies 106 can be coupled with a housing 102 in any known and/or convenient locations.
  • In some embodiments, at least one of the moving agencies 106 can be configured to drive a housing 102 in any desired direction. In some embodiments, the moving agencies 106 can be configured to randomly drive a housing 102 in any direction. In alternate embodiments, more than one of the moving agencies 106 can be configured to drive the housing 102 either separately and/or simultaneously.
  • In some embodiments, a switch 108 can be located on a surface of a housing 102. In FIG. 1A this switch 108 is shown for convenience on the surface of the housing, but the switch 108 can be located on any surface of a housing 102, such as a side or underside surface. The switch 108 can be an on-off switch 108, which can be adapted to selectively control the operation of the moving agencies 106 and the drive device module 114, and/or can be adapted to power the device on and off.
  • In the embodiment of the base depicted in FIG. 1A, a housing 102 can further include an opening 110 adapted to receive a shut-off unit 112. In some embodiments, an opening 110 can be substantially circular, but in other embodiments can have any other known and/or convenient geometry. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 1A, a shut-off unit 112 can be selectively and operatively mated with an opening 110 such that a device will not be propelled and/or its signaling module will not signal when a shut-off unit 112 is not mated with an opening 110. A shut-off unit 112 can have a substantially cylindrical shape, as shown in FIG. 1A, but in other embodiments can have any other known and/or convenient geometry. In some embodiments a shut-off unit 112 can be magnetized in a desired configuration and an opening 110 can include a magnetic reader such that the pattern and/or random sequence can be defined by the magnetic configuration of a shut-off unit 112 and/or the speed of insertion of a shut-off unit 112 into an opening 110.
  • As shown in FIG. 1B, a drive device module 114 can be coupled to a first moving agency 106 and coupled to a power supply 118. In some embodiments, a power supply 118 can be a battery, but in other embodiments can be a solar cell or any other known and/or convenient device. In some embodiments, a drive device module 114 can be a motor, but in other embodiments can be any other known and/or convenient mechanism. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1B, a drive device module 114 can be connected to at least one moving agency 106 such as a wheel, but in other embodiments, without limitation, a caster, bearing, or any other known and/or convenient device.
  • In alternate embodiments, a drive device module 114 can further comprise a pump and/or turbine system. In such embodiments, a drive device module 114 can be a nozzle, propeller, or any other known and/or convenient device to produce thrust. In such embodiments, moving agencies 106 can be fins or any other known and/or convenient device.
  • FIG. 2 depicts a detail view of one embodiment of a shut-off unit 112. As shown in FIG. 2, a shut-off unit 112 can further comprise a visual enhancement and/or signaling module 202 (in the particular embodiment pictured here, a visual enhancement that is a flag). It is understood that in some embodiments, the signaling module 202 could emit any other sort of non-visual signals, such as sounds, vibrations, etc., to signal a trainee. And indeed, in embodiments wherein the signaling module emits non-visual signals, the signaling module 202 need not be elevated above the base of the training device, or even visible to the trainee.
  • A shut-off unit 112 can be coupled to a control module 204 that can control stop-and-go motion of the device and/or the signaling of the signaling module. In some embodiments, a control module 204 can comprise an electrical coupling 206 that, when disrupted, causes the device to cease motion, and/or cease or alter the signaling of the signaling module. In some embodiments, an electrical coupling 206 can further comprise magnetic components. However, in other embodiments, any other known and/or convenient control module can be used.
  • In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 2, a shut-off unit 112 can further comprise a motion-control module 208, which can further comprise at least one magnet 210. In some embodiments, a motion-control module 208 can be a magnetostatic device with said at least one magnet 210 capable of producing an electrical current that can be used to create a seed value for input into a random-pattern generator. A reader 212 can be located in an opening 110 such that a pattern and/or random sequence can be defined by a magnetic configuration of at least one magnet 210 on a shut-off unit 112 and/or the speed of insertion of a shut-off unit into an opening 110.
  • FIGS. 3A and 3B depict another embodiment of the device disclosed herein, further comprising a remote-control unit 302. A remote-control unit 302 (FIG. 3A) can operate on the more than one training device (FIG. 3B) via a wireless connection or any other known and/or convenient mechanism. As depicted in FIG. 3A, the remote control 302 can have one or more various controls 116, 117 for controlling features such as stop, go, speed, direction, on/off status, volume of sound emitted from the signaling module, brightness of light emitted from the signaling module, or any other known and/or desired parameters. The remote control can further comprise various channels so as to enable the control of the various more than one training devices in play at the same time. In various embodiments the remote control user can thus select which training device is in play, control the signaling emissions of the training device, and/or control the movement of the training device. One example of a practical application of such an embodiment is that of a coach who controls the training devices of the system for the training of an individual or a team.
  • FIGS. 4A and 4B depict modular elements of devices disclosed herein. The embodiment depicted in FIG. 4A depicts a device 1000 having a drive device module 114 having at least one moving agency 106 to propel the device; a control module 204 to control the drive device module; an input module 1031 to provide data for analysis and potential execution by the control module; and a signaling module 202. FIG. 4B depicts a similar arrangement of device modules with additional potential and optional input modules including, without limitation, a motion-control input module, a movement selector input module, a remote control input module, a first sensor input module, a second sensor input module; a distance between first and second sensor input module and a signaling input module. In practice, the control module can receive input from a variety of input modules and calibrate its control of the drive device module according to preprogrammed priority algorithms. For example, in one embodiment, input from a remote control input module may override input from all other modules. In other embodiments, input from various modules can be weighted to achieve particular objectives over the course of a training session.
  • Turning to FIG. 5, in particular embodiments, the shut-off unit 112 comprises a motion-control module 208 which is configured to select a movement pattern from a plurality of movement patterns stored on the CPU 406. In other embodiments, a user is prompted to select a movement pattern from a list of movement patterns upon mating a shut-off unit 112 with the opening 110.
  • In other embodiments, the shut-off unit 112 comprises a signaling-control device 214 which is configured to select a signaling pattern from a plurality of signaling patterns stored on the CPU 406. In particular embodiments, the signaling pattern is automatically selected when the shut-off unit 112 is mated with the opening 110. For example, a shut-off unit associated with a signaling module can be configured to automatically select a signaling pattern associated with the signaling module. In other embodiments, a user is prompted to select a signaling pattern from a list of signaling patterns upon mating a shut-off unit 112 with the opening 110.
  • FIG. 5 depicts an electro-mechanical schematic of particular embodiment disclosed herein. A drive-control circuit, which may also be referred to herein simply as a drive circuit, 402 and a directional-control circuit 404 can both be connected to a CPU 406. A CPU 406 can be connected to an input device/receiver 408, which can be connected to a power supply 410. Power supply 410 may or may not be the same type of device as power supply 118 and/or power supply 416 (described below). A motion-control module 208 can be connected to an input device/receiver 408 via an op-amp circuit 412. A remote-control 302, as illustrated in FIG. 3A, can also provide input to an input device/receiver 408 via a wireless connection or any other known and/or convenient method. In some embodiments, a CPU 406 can also be capable of collecting motion information from the device and connecting to an external personal computer to download such information. Further, in some alternate embodiments, a device can include a timing mechanism 120 (as shown in FIG. 1) to record and optionally display chronological information regarding motion of the device.
  • In a drive-control circuit 402, a power supply 118 can be connected to a shut-off unit 112, an on-off switch 108, a drive device module 114, and a resistor 414. In some embodiments, a drive device module 114 can be a motor, but in other embodiments can be any other known and/or convenient device. As shown in FIG. 2, a power supply 118 can be a variable power supply, or in other embodiments can be any other known and/or convenient device.
  • In a directional-control circuit 404, a power supply 416 can be connected to a resistor 418 and a drive device module 420. In some embodiments, a power supply 416 can be a battery, but in other embodiments can be a solar cell or any other known and/or convenient device. Power supply 416 may or may not be the same type of device as power supply 118 (described above). In some embodiments, a drive device module 420 can be a motor, but in other embodiments can be any other known and/or convenient device, similar to the drive device module 114 (described above). Drive device module 420 may or may not be the same type of device as drive device module 114.
  • A CPU 406 can be connected to a power supply 118 for a drive circuit 402 via an amplifier 422, and also to a power supply 416 for a directional-control circuit 404 via an amplifier 424. In such embodiments, a CPU can, therefore, provide input to control a drive circuit 402 and a directional-control circuit 404.
  • As shown in FIG. 5, a motion-control module 208 can, in some embodiments, be incorporated into a shut-off unit 112. A magnet 210 (as shown in FIG. 2) on a shut-off unit 112 can, when in motion, produce a current that can be read by a reader 212. An induced current can vary depending upon the orientation of magnets 210 in relation to readers 212 and the speed of magnets 210 in moving past readers 212. In embodiments having multiple magnets 210 and readers 212, as shown in FIG. 5, the electrical signals resulting from an induced current can be summed in an op-amp circuit 412 and sent to a CPU 406 via an input device/receiver 408. A CPU 406 can process these electrical signals to provide control information to a drive-control circuit 402 and a directional-control circuit 404 by using electrical signals to establish a seed value for a random-number generator in a CPU 406. In some embodiments, a random number generator can translate an electrical signal into numerical values. In such embodiments, a numerical value can be parsed into separate values, each of which can be used to control speed and direction. For example, in some embodiments, a numerical value can have a plurality of digits. One or more digits can correspond to a seed value for speed control, one or more other digits can correspond to a seed value for the control time period, and at least one remaining digit can correspond to a seed value for directional control.
  • In particular embodiments, the CPU 406 is configured to automatically select control information when a shut-off unit 112 comprising a motion-control module 208 is mated with an opening 110. In particular embodiments, the control information can cause the drive-control unit 402 and directional-control unit 404 to cause the device to move about in a particular manner, such as a preprogrammed manner for particularly desired training. A visual enhancement and/or signaling module may be further associated with the shut-off unit 112 as described above. Particularly, in one example, the shut-off unit can be operatively associated with the visual enhancement and/or signaling module and further comprise a motion-control module 208 configured to cause a CPU 406 to provide control information to a drive-control unit 402 and a directional-control unit 404, in a manner that causes the device to move in a particular manner, such as in a preprogrammed manner.
  • In use, a user can turn a switch 108 in the device to the “on” position. See, e.g., FIGS. 1A and 8. In embodiments comprising a shut-off unit, the user can turn the switch to the “on” position and additionally insert a shut-off unit 112 into an opening 110. See FIG. 8. In certain embodiments the shut-off unit itself can also function as an on/off switch for the device. As stated, any one or any number of the training devices in the training system disclosed herein can then begin to move about and be chased by a trainee, who could have the goal of overtaking the device and removing the shut-off unit 112 which results in the device stopping. In other embodiments, the trainee can stop the device by simply touching the training device, such as at the location of a sensor 103, to cause the device to stop moving. In other embodiments, the sensor 103 is a motion sensor, and the device can shut off when motion of the trainee, or other object or individual, is detected.
  • In some embodiments a trainee can also chase the device without the goal of removing a shut-off unit 112 or otherwise stopping the device, but rather to follow a prescribed pattern. In some embodiments, motion of the device can be determined by a magnetostatic device that produces a random movement pattern. In other embodiments, motion can be controlled by a remote user via a remote-control unit 302. Either way, the unknown and/or erratic movement of the device of the present disclosure can require the trainee chasing the device to change speed and direction quickly, therefore developing speed and/or agility. Depending on changing signals produced by signaling modules, the trainee must always be prepared to change his or her focus to a different device within the system.
  • In particular embodiments, a CPU 406 is configured to store movement data associated with the device. In particular embodiments, the CPU 406 automatically stores movement data. In additional embodiments, the device is configured to prompt a user to select a prior movement pattern stored in a memory unit associated with the CPU 406. In particular embodiments, the remote-control unit 302 comprises a memory selector configured to cause the device to repeat a prior movement pattern stored in a memory unit associated with the CPU 406. In more particular embodiments, the CPU 406 is configured to store movement data from operation of the device when controlled by the remote-control unit 302.
  • FIG. 6 depicts another embodiment of the device disclosed herein that can operate in an aquatic environment. Such embodiments can further comprise a flotation device 502, which can be located circumferentially around a housing 102 of the base, or in any other known and/or convenient position. In some embodiments, a housing 102 itself can be comprised of a buoyant material. Such aquatic-environment embodiments permit the device to be used for training, therapy, play or sport in aquatic environments such as a swimming pool or body of open water, for such activities as, e.g., water polo training, swim drills, synchronized swimming, physical therapy such as water walking, aquatic games for children, and so forth.
  • FIG. 7 depicts a side view of an embodiment of the training device disclosed herein. In some embodiments, a housing 102 can include a marker 601 and a signaling module 202, which in the particular embodiment pictured in FIG. 7 is a flashing light.
  • As shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, some embodiments of the training device can further comprise at least one sensor 103 configured to detect an object, such as a stationary or slow-moving object (e.g., a wall, furniture, a curb, a vehicle, a person, and the like) within the device's path. For example, CPU 406 can be configured to cause the device to stop, change direction and/or speed when a sensor associated with the CPU 406 senses a stationary or slow-moving object in its path.
  • Exemplary Interactive Training Systems
  • FIGS. 11A, 11B and 11C depict perspective views of embodiments of training devices disclosed herein utilizing visual and/or auditory cues to engage the trainee. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 11A, the device comprises a marker 601 and a signaling module 202 which provides an auditory cue as a signal. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 11B, the device comprises a marker 601 and a signaling module 202 which rises through and above the marker and which provides an auditory cue as a signal. In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 11C, the device comprises a marker 601 and a signaling module 202 which rises through and above the marker and which provides a visual cue as a signal. Note here that in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 11C, an actual light emission that provides a visual cue is not required and the visual cue could be provided simply by the silent rising of a visual cue through and above the marker. It should also be noted that the sound emitting device of FIG. 10A could also be a light emitting device (i.e. visual cues need not rise above a marker).
  • As will be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, each embodiment disclosed herein can comprise, consist essentially of or consist of its particular stated element, step or component. As used herein, the transition term “comprise” or “comprises” means includes, but is not limited to, and allows for the inclusion of unspecified elements, steps, or components, even in major amounts. The transitional phrase “consisting of” excludes any element, step, or component not specified. The transition phrase “consisting essentially of” limits the scope of the embodiment to the specified elements, steps, or components and to those that do not materially affect the embodiment. As used herein, a material effect would prevent the devices from performing their functions as described herein, not enable a trainee to improve his or her speed and/or agility, and/or not provide the devices as described herein.
  • Unless otherwise indicated, all numbers expressing quantities of time, distance, angles, and so forth used in the specification and claims are to be understood as being modified in all instances by the term “about.” Accordingly, unless indicated to the contrary, the numerical parameters set forth in the specification and attached claims are approximations that may vary depending upon the desired properties sought to be obtained by the present invention. At the very least, and not as an attempt to limit the application of the doctrine of equivalents to the scope of the claims, each numerical parameter should at least be construed in light of the number of reported significant digits and by applying ordinary rounding techniques. When further clarity is required, the term “about” has the meaning reasonably ascribed to it by a person skilled in the art when used in conjunction with a stated numerical value or range, i.e. denoting somewhat more or somewhat less than the stated value or range, to within a range of ±20% of the stated value; ±19% of the stated value; ±18% of the stated value; ±17% of the stated value; ±16% of the stated value; ±15% of the stated value; ±14% of the stated value; ±13% of the stated value; ±12% of the stated value; ±11% of the stated value; ±10% of the stated value; ±9% of the stated value; ±8% of the stated value; ±7% of the stated value; ±6% of the stated value; ±5% of the stated value; ±4% of the stated value; ±3% of the stated value; ±2% of the stated value; or ±1% of the stated value.
  • Notwithstanding that the numerical ranges and parameters setting forth the broad scope of the invention are approximations, the numerical values set forth in the specific examples are reported as precisely as possible. Any numerical value, however, inherently contains certain errors necessarily resulting from the standard deviation found in their respective testing measurements.
  • The terms “a,” “an,” “the” and similar referents used in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) are to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. Recitation of ranges of values herein is merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range. Unless otherwise indicated herein, each individual value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., “such as”) provided herein is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element essential to the practice of the invention.
  • Groupings of alternative elements or embodiments of the invention disclosed herein are not to be construed as limitations. Each group member may be referred to and claimed individually or in any combination with other members of the group or other elements found herein. It is anticipated that one or more members of a group may be included in, or deleted from, a group for reasons of convenience and/or patentability. When any such inclusion or deletion occurs, the specification is deemed to contain the group as modified thus fulfilling the written description of all Markush groups used in the appended claims.
  • Certain embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventors for carrying out the invention. Of course, variations on these described embodiments will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventors expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventors intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.
  • The particulars shown herein are by way of example and for purposes of illustrative discussion of the preferred embodiments of the present invention only and are presented in the cause of providing what is believed to be the most useful and readily understood description of the principles and conceptual aspects of various embodiments of the invention. In this regard, no attempt is made to show structural details of the invention in more detail than is necessary for the fundamental understanding of the invention, the description taken with the drawings and/or examples making apparent to those skilled in the art how the several forms of the invention may be embodied in practice.
  • In closing, it is to be understood that the embodiments of the invention disclosed herein are illustrative of the principles of the present invention. Other modifications that may be employed are within the scope of the invention. Thus, by way of example, but not of limitation, alternative configurations of the present invention may be utilized in accordance with the teachings herein. Accordingly, the present invention is not limited to that precisely as shown and described.
  • Definitions and explanations used in the present disclosure are meant and intended to be controlling in any future construction unless clearly and unambiguously modified in the following examples or when application of the meaning renders any construction meaningless or essentially meaningless. In cases where the construction of the term would render it meaningless or essentially meaningless, the definition should be taken from Webster's Dictionary, 3rd Edition or a dictionary known to those of ordinary skill in the art, such as the Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Ed. Anthony Smith, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004).

Claims (15)

What is claimed is:
1. A training system comprising more than one training device wherein each of the more than one training devices comprises:
a drive device module comprising at least one moving agency;
a control module operatively associated with the drive device module,
at least one input module to the control module; and at least two of the training devices comprises a signaling module.
2. The system of claim 2, wherein the signaling modules create a visual cue, an auditory cue and/or a visual cue and an auditory cue.
3. The system of claim 1 wherein at least two of the training devices further comprise a housing having an opening and a shut-off unit removably mated with the opening, wherein the control module is further operatively associated with the shut-off unit, the control module enabling the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the training device when the shut-off unit is mated with the opening and to not propel the training device when the shut-off unit is not mated with the opening.
4. The system of claim 1, wherein each of the training devices further comprises a first sensor operably associated with a first sensor input module that provides input to the control module.
5. The system of claim 4, wherein the control module enables the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the training device in a direction associated with a second sensor based on input from a second sensor input module.
6. The system of claim 1, wherein the control module enables the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to stop propelling the training device when an input module signals distance between a first sensor and a second sensor falls below a distance value.
7. The system of claim 1, wherein the control module enables the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the training device towards a second sensor when an input module signals distance between a first sensor and the second sensor exceeds a distance value.
8. The system of claim 1, further comprising a motion-control module that provides an input to the control module to cause the training device to move in a random movement pattern.
9. The system of claim 3, wherein the housings comprise a marker.
10. The system of claim 1 further comprising a memory unit module operatively associated with the drive device module, wherein the memory unit is configured to store movement data associated with the training device.
11. The system of claim 1 further comprising a movement selector module that provides an input to the control module to execute a pre-programmed movement pattern.
12. The system of claim 11, wherein the pre-programmed movement patterns comprise a plurality of difficulty settings.
13. The system of claim 4, wherein the first sensor is configured to detect a stationary or slow-moving object in the device's current path and to provide input to the control module causing the control module to stop or change the direction of device.
14. The system of claim 10, wherein data stored by the memory unit module can be transferred to a computer, cellular phone, smartphone, tablet computer, and/or personal data assistant.
15. A training system comprising more than one training device, each of the more than one training devices comprising:
a drive device module comprising at least one moving agency;
a control module operatively associated with the drive device module, at least one input module to the control module;
a signaling module; and
a housing, wherein the housing comprises (i) an on/off switch, (ii) an opening, and (iii) a shut-off unit removably mated with the opening, wherein the control module is further operatively associated with the shut-off unit, the control module enabling the drive device module to cause the at least one moving agency to propel the training device when the shut-off unit is mated with the opening and to not propel the device when the shut-off unit is not mated with the opening.
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