US20170216682A1 - System, apparatus, and method for using mobile sporting goods - Google Patents

System, apparatus, and method for using mobile sporting goods Download PDF

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Publication number
US20170216682A1
US20170216682A1 US15/484,996 US201715484996A US2017216682A1 US 20170216682 A1 US20170216682 A1 US 20170216682A1 US 201715484996 A US201715484996 A US 201715484996A US 2017216682 A1 US2017216682 A1 US 2017216682A1
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Prior art keywords
golf ball
sporting good
tracking device
mobile sporting
mobile
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Pending
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US15/484,996
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Michael J. Kline
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Michael J. Kline
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Priority to US14/031,500 priority Critical patent/US20150080142A1/en
Application filed by Michael J. Kline filed Critical Michael J. Kline
Priority to US15/484,996 priority patent/US20170216682A1/en
Publication of US20170216682A1 publication Critical patent/US20170216682A1/en
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Abstract

Systems, apparatus, and methods for using mobile sporting goods. In one aspect, the system permits a sporting enthusiast to track the location of a mobile sporting good, such as a golf ball, relative to a target, such as a target on a driving range, and correlate that location to a simulated location on a simulated golf hole.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/031,500, filed on Sep. 19, 2013, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • TECHNICAL FIELD
  • This technical field relates to systems, apparatus, and methods for using mobile sporting goods, including determining the location thereof on a field of play that may be used by a participant in a sporting activity, such as golf.
  • BACKGROUND
  • As anyone who has ever participated in a sporting activity knows, practice indeed makes perfect, or at least as close as one can get to perfect. It has been reported that some professional golfers, for example, practice hitting 500 golf balls per day at the driving range. Similar diligence is required in other sporting pursuits, for example, practicing free throws and jump shots in basketball, practicing passes in football, practicing pitches in baseball, rolling balls in bowling, throwing stones in curling, and shooting guns at a shooting range, for example. But in each of these cases, where consistency and accuracy are important, the sports enthusiast may experience a problem with inconsistent or inaccurate play. Free throws may tend to be thrown too far toward the back of the rim, for example. Golf shots may tend to hook or slice, be long or short. A shooter's aim may be slightly off, resulting in shots clustering off center from the intended target. The sports enthusiast, however, may not, during the practice session, be able to perceive with precision how far off from the intended target the ball, bullet, puck, or other projectile being thrown, shot, slapped, struck, or otherwise sent toward a target is off the mark. There thus exists a need for monitoring the accuracy of participation by sports enthusiasts.
  • There are currently about 60 million golfers worldwide. Thus, a relatively small percentage of the world's population plays golf. There are several reasons for this. First, a round of golf can be very expensive, with more exclusive public courses charging several hundred dollars per round, and private clubs charging thousands of dollars in annual membership fees. Second, an 18-hole round of golf is very time-consuming, often taking 4-6 hours to complete, depending on conditions, skill level, and number of players on the course. Third, golf is a difficult game that requires practice and patience to master. There exists a need for increasing the popularity of the game of golf, by decreasing its expense, the duration of play, and/or increasing the skill of those playing.
  • SUMMARY
  • These and other aspects or advantages may be achieved according to the present disclosure.
  • In one aspect of the disclosure, there is provided a group of two or more related mobile sporting goods, each comprising a codable device enabling a user to be identified to each of the related mobile sporting goods. The related mobile sporting goods may be any type of device or projectile that a user, player, or sports enthusiast might direct toward a target, and may be selected from the group comprising golf balls, tennis balls, baseballs, footballs, basketballs, hockey pucks, curling stones, bowling balls, softballs, volleyballs, squash balls, racket balls, bullets, fishing lures, arrows, etc. The codable device may comprise a configuration approximating an outer configuration of the mobile sporting goods. The codable device may be configured to provide a user of the group of mobile sporting goods access to a field of play on which the group of mobile sporting goods is intended to be used. In one aspect, the group of mobile sporting goods may comprise a plurality of golf balls, and the field of play may comprise a driving range. The codable device may be further configured to indicate the position of each of the mobile sporting goods relative to a target.
  • In another aspect of the disclosure, a system may comprise an actual mobile sporting good and an actual target. The system may further comprise a tracking device configured to enable tracking the actual mobile sporting good in relation to the actual target. The system may further comprising a signal generating device configured to relay a position of the actual mobile sporting good relative to the actual target to a display. The display may be configured to display a simulated image of a field of play, and may be configured to display an image of a simulated mobile sporting good in relation to a simulated target corresponding to a location of the actual mobile sporting good relative to the actual target.
  • According to a method of the disclosure, a method may comprise determining an actual position of a mobile sporting good; correlating the actual position of the mobile sporting good to a simulated position on a simulated field of play; and providing instructions indicative of a new actual position for the mobile sporting good based at least in part on the simulated position.
  • Another aspect of the disclosure may comprise a system comprising a field of play comprising a golf ball striking area and a fairway area; an actual target positioned in the fairway area; a golf ball tracking system configured to determine an actual position of a golf ball after it has been struck from the golf ball striking area; the golf ball tracking system further configured to determine the actual position of the golf ball relative to the actual target, correlate the actual position to a simulated position relative to a simulated target, and provide information indicative of the simulated position.
  • According to another aspect of the disclosure, there may be employed a method comprising initiating a golf playing sequence on a field of play, comprising correlating a golf ball with a particular player; providing information indicative of a simulated golf hole; following a first shot in the golf playing sequence, determining a first actual position of the golf ball relative to an actual target; correlating the first actual position of the golf ball to a first simulated position associated with the simulated golf hole; providing information indicative of a second actual position for commencing a subsequent shot in the golf playing sequence with a new golf ball correlated to the particular player, based at least in part on the first simulated position; following the subsequent shot, determining a third actual position of the new golf ball; and correlating the third actual position of the new golf ball to a second simulated position associated with the simulated golf hole.
  • Other aspects of this disclosure will become apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein are set forth, by way of illustration and example, certain embodiments of this disclosure.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a cross sectional view of a mobile sporting good of the present disclosure.
  • FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view of another mobile sporting good of the present disclosure.
  • FIG. 2A is a sectional view of a mobile sporting good of the present disclosure, such as that illustrated in FIG. 2.
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic illustration of a system and apparatus of the present disclosure.
  • FIG. 4 is a flow diagram of a method of the present disclosure.
  • FIG. 5 is a flow diagram of another method of the present disclosure.
  • FIG. 5A is a flow diagram of additional or optional operations continuing from FIG. 5.
  • FIG. 6 is a schematic illustration of an apparatus of the present disclosure.
  • FIG. 6A is a plan view of the apparatus of FIG. 6.
  • FIG. 7 is a flow diagram of another method of the present disclosure.
  • FIG. 8 is a schematic illustration of another system of the present disclosure.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS
  • Systems and tracking devices for tracking mobile sporting goods, such as golf balls at a driving range, are known, including U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,398,936; 6,093,923; 7,741,965; and 8,498,814, incorporated in their entirety by reference herein. Such systems often rely on camera systems, RFID, or other tracking systems to determine where the golf ball has landed in relation to a target. Systems and devices for tracking a golf ball in flight and projecting a simulated image thereof onto a display of a simulated golf course are also known, including systems as illustrated and described in U.S. Patent Application Publication Nos. 20110301927, and 20110294586 incorporated in their entirety by reference herein. Despite such known systems and devices, however, there exists a need for providing a more realistic experience to those practicing or participating in sports activities such as driving ranges, shooting ranges, batting cages, etc., that more closely approximates a real life experience such as playing a round of golf on a golf course or hunting for live game in the wild or hitting a baseball on a baseball diamond.
  • An aspect of the present disclosure may include a tracking system for a mobile sporting good. As used herein, the term “mobile sporting good” is intended to mean a device, such as a ball, puck, curling stone, bullet, arrow, club, bat, fishing lure, or any other object that a sports enthusiast might employ in playing or practicing a particular sporting event or contest.
  • In one aspect, the mobile sporting good may comprise, for example, a golf ball that may include a tracking device such as an RFID chip, homing beacon, transmitter, receiver, antenna, or other device that may be used to locate the mobile sporting good during a time period of interest. There exist numerous known systems and methods for tracking and locating a mobile sporting good in flight and after it has come to rest on a field of play, including tracking devices embedded or attached to the mobile sporting good, tracking devices that rely on remotely monitoring the mobile sporting good, whether or not the mobile sporting good contains a tracking device, and/or systems that rely on GPS or other geospatial positioning technology, all of which are intended to be within the scope of the present disclosure and the definition of “tracking device” as used herein.
  • In one aspect, a mobile sporting good, such as a golf ball, may include a tracking device capable of being monitored while the golf ball is at rest on a tee, and/or while it is in flight, and/or after it has come to rest after being struck. Tracking devices embedded within a sports object, such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,095,312, incorporated in its entirety by reference herein, may be advantageously used according to the systems, methods, and apparatus of the present disclosure.
  • Depending upon the type of tracking device used (which may or may not be battery powered), it may be advantageous to fashion the tracking device into a shape corresponding generally with the shape of the mobile sporting good, in order to minimize the effects of the tracking device in altering the mobile sporting good's center of gravity, and therefore its flight or movement. For example, referring to FIG. 1, in the case of a golf ball, generally 1, it may be desirable to fashion the tracking device 2 into a generally spherical configuration and position it as close to the center 3 of the golf ball 1 as possible. The tracking device 2 may comprise one or more of a microprocessor, a rechargeable power source, a motion sensor, an RF transmitter, an RF antenna, a GPS antenna, a GPS receiver, and/or a detector substantially as illustrated and described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,095,312.
  • In another example, the tracking device 2 may comprise an RFID chip or other tracking device fashioned as a thin layer that partially or substantially circumnavigates the ball, for example, forming a layer 4 beneath the outer cover 6 and the inner core 8 of the ball, as schematically illustrated in FIG. 2. As schematically illustrated in FIG. 2A, such a layer 4 may take the form of a strip 7, similar to those used by runners for tracking their participation in timed races, i.e., running tags that use ultra-high frequency technology. In this aspect, the layer 4 may partially or fully circumnavigate the ball's “equator,” as illustrated in FIG. 2A, or may form a spherical layer that substantially covers a surface of the ball, such as the entire outer surface 9 of the inner core 8. In the case of a football, the layer 4 may comprise multiple RFID tag strips 7 each running “tip to tip” along the football and placed lengthwise about the ball, or running circumferentially about the football in substantially parallel paths to each other. Such RFID tags, including those marketed under the brand names ULTRA, UPM RAFLATAC, and ALIEN (Alien Corporation, 18220 Butterfield Blvd., Morgan Hill, Calif. 95037), are low cost, i.e., ten cents per tag, light weight, may work between 865 and 950 MHz, and can be read on any EPC Generation 2 Class 1 reader.
  • Taking another example, in the case of a generally cylindrical object such as a javelin, bullet, or arrow, the tracking device may be fashioned into a generally cylindrical configuration so as to nest within the shaft, slug, or casing and minimize any effects of the mass of the tracking device on the spin or flight of the mobile sporting good. Alternatively, the tracking device may comprise a strip, similar to that illustrated in FIG. 2A, that may fully or partially circumnavigate the cylindrical object.
  • An aspect of the disclosure may include a system, such as a receiver, reader, monitor, GPS system, or other locating device configured to physically locate the mobile sporting good with which it is associated. Such a system may be similar to that disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,095,312, or to those that use GPS along with crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspots and cell tower locations to determine the location of a cellular telephone, for example. As is known, it is possible using one or more in view satellites, generally 101 in FIG. 3, to determine the location of an object, such as a cellular telephone. Generally, latitude and longitude may be determined employing three in-view satellites 101, and altitude may be determined by employing a fourth in-view satellite 101 as is generally known. According to an aspect of the present disclosure, technologies similar to those used for determining the position of various objects, i.e., cellular telephones, may be employed to determine the location of a mobile sporting good, such as a golf ball.
  • An aspect of the present disclosure may include, for example, the use of a golf ball comprising a tracking device that may be employed on a golf course or driving range to assist the golfer in determining location and accuracy of a particular golf shot. In one aspect, a driving range may include a tracking device in each ball used by a particular player. The tracking devices in each ball in the bucket or other grouping of balls may be coded with a unique identifier to associate the entire group of balls with a particular player. Such coding may be accomplished, for example, using coding or scanning techniques used in other contexts, such as identifying merchandise with RFID tags. In the case of a golf ball, RFID tags capable of withstanding high impact, such as the Poly Tag® disc-shaped RFID tag, or epoxy disc extra thin RFID tags, such as those sold by HID Global Corporation, 15370 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, Calif. 92618-3106 may be used.
  • As an example, a golfer, player ABC may request 100 balls at a driving range. The ball dispensing equipment may include a coding mechanism to code a device included with each ball, such as an RFID chip or strip, and thereby group the 100 balls as a batch assigned to player ABC. Thus, each ball in the group may be coded with a number and/or letter sequence, or other machine-readable designation representative of player ABC. Additionally, each ball in the group of 100 balls may include a specific coding unique to each ball. Thus, the 100 balls in this example might be coded as a series represented for illustrative purposes as ABC-001, ABC-002, ABC-003, . . . ABC-100. In one aspect, each ball may be comprise a scanable device such as used in identity secure smart cards and card readers, including devices manufactured by HID Global Corporation, 15370 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, Calif. 92618-3106. Just as a smart card may be thus associated with a particular individual, a mobile sporting good, such as a golf ball, may be associated with a particular user or player. When each ball is thus encoded, the “smart ball” may, as a smart card is used to gain access to a building, gate, etc., be used to gain access to field of play, such as a golf course or a driving range and/or a particular tee 100, as illustrated in FIG. 3 on the driving range, generally 10. Thus, the mobile sporting good, for example, golf ball, may include a device that serves one or more functions—associating the golf ball with a particular player, granting the player access to the driving range or course, and/or permitting the golf ball to be tracked as subsequently described.
  • In an alternative embodiment, each player may be given an ID card, tag, etc., that he or she uses by scanning the same prior to each shot; in this embodiment, the golf ball could still include a device for tracking the ball, but would not need to meet the functions of associating the ball with a particular player or granting access to the player, as the ID card, tag, etc., would serve one or both of those functions.
  • The use of one or more mobile sporting goods thus configured or associated with a tracking device, monitoring system, and/or identification system may be used on a field of play in combination with other systems and components as will now be illustrated. As used herein, the term “field of play” is intended to mean any field on which a sporting enthusiast may participate in a sporting activity, including by way of example but not limitation, a golf course, driving range, miniature golf course, shooting range, arcade, batting cage, bowling alley, tennis court, basketball court, baseball field, football field, hockey rink, etc.
  • Referring now to FIG. 3, there is illustrated a schematic diagram of a field of play comprising a golf course driving range, generally 10, of the present disclosure. Although FIG. 3 is described, for purposes of illustration, with respect to a driving range as the field of play and a golf ball as the mobile sporting good, it will be appreciated that the following description is intended to apply equally to other fields of play and other mobile sporting goods. The driving range 10 may include a striking area, generally 100, that may comprise a tee/fairway/sand/rough area, may include a field/fairway area, generally 200, and may include a putting surface 300, each of which shall now be described.
  • As illustrated, the striking area 100 may comprise a tee 102 capable of supporting a golf ball 113, which tee 102 may, for example, comprise a wooden or plastic golf tee as commonly used, or a rubberized tee commonly used at traditional driving ranges, and which may be removable in order to adjust tee height. The striking area 100 may also comprise a fairway area 104, which may comprise grass or artificial turf, as is also known. Further, the striking area 100 may comprise a sand area 106, which may comprise a pit, box, or other structure filled with sand, gravel, soil, or other substance intended to mimic sand in a standard golf course sand trap. The striking area 100 may further include a rough area 108, which may comprise grass or artificial turf of greater thickness and/or longer cut than the fairway area 104, to mimic the rough, i.e., taller, thicker grass, on a standard golf course.
  • The striking area 100 may further comprise a golf ball tracking system 110 that may be configured to correlate a golf ball, 113 to a particular player, for example, using a secure coding identification system as previously described. The golf ball tracking system 110 may include a reader 114 capable of reading the coded information of the golf ball 113 (or a scanned card or tag of the player), for example, correlating the golf ball 113 to a particular player and/or authorizing play. In this aspect, the reader 114 may be operable once the coded golf ball 113 or card or tag is positioned within a predefined range of the reader 114, such as on the tee 102, on the “fairway” 104, in the “bunker” 106, or in the “rough,” 108. The golf ball tracking system 110 may further include an indicator, such as a lamp 115 that may illuminate to indicate to the player that the golf ball 113 and/or ID card or tag has been read, and that the player is approved for play. Additionally, or optionally, the golf ball tracking system 110 may include a speaker 116 that may similarly indicate that the player's golf ball 113 and/or ID card or tag has been read and/or that the player is approved for play. The speaker 116 may also provide instructions to the player or feedback, such as applause, praise, groans, etc., in response to a shot having been taken.
  • Once the golf ball tracking system 110 has read/approved the golf ball 113, the system may initiate a playing sequence, for example, employing a display monitor, generally 120, that may display the image of a simulated target, for example a simulated golf hole 122. In the example illustrated, the simulated golf hole 122 may display a simulated green, 124, a simulated pin or target 126, a simulated fairway 128, and one or more simulated obstacles or hazards, such as trees 130, sand traps 132, and water hazards 134. Indeed, assuming the appropriate licenses are obtained, if necessary, the simulated golf hole 122 may comprise computer generated images, renderings, or photographic images of actual golf course holes, including, by way of example famous golf courses such as St. Andrews, Augusta National, Pebble Beach, Oakmont, Pinehurst, Firestone, Congressional, etc. Such images may be recorded images or may be real time images of actual golf courses and holes, such as are available using GPS based systems such as Google Earth.
  • After the simulated golf hole 122 and/or simulated target 126 is displayed, a player may be instructed as to which of several actual targets on the driving range, i.e., targets A, B, C, D, or E, corresponding, for example, to 100, 150, 200, and 250 yards from the striking area 100, and/or a green E the player is to aim for. Such instruction may be in the form of an audible instruction, for example, from the speaker 116, or may be displayed on the display monitor 120. Alternatively, the player may determine which of the several targets to aim for, for example, determining whether to go for the green “E” or to “lay up,” for example, aiming for target “A” or “B.”
  • After the player has stuck his or her tee shot, the system may track the struck golf ball, illustrated as 113A. This may be done while the ball is in flight, in which case, the display monitor 120 may display the track of the ball in relation to the simulated golf hole 122. Once the struck golf ball 113A lands on the driving range 10 and comes to rest, its position may be determined using known tracking devices and systems, including by way of example, GPS monitoring systems, camera systems, RFID tracking systems, or other systems capable of tracking the position of an object and relaying that position to a remote system such as the golf ball tracking system 110. The golf ball 113 may be configured with a motion sensor, such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,095,312, to detect when the golf ball 113 has left the tee and/or come to rest, and/or a timing mechanism that relies on an anticipated time of flight following the ball being struck after which it is assumed to be at rest such that its location may be determined.
  • In one aspect, illustrated in FIG. 3, the position of the struck golf ball 113A may be determined with reference to one or more of the actual targets such as targets A-F. Targets A-D are illustrated as targets indicative of a distance from the striking area 100, i.e., 100, 150, 200, and 250 yards. More or fewer such targets and more or fewer distance indicators are of course possible. Target “E” may comprise a putting surface remote from the striking surface 100, and may include a pin “F” that may be used as a more specific target for purposes of providing information concerning a putting sequence as shall be subsequently described. Each target A-F may include a visual indicator such as a flashing light to indicate to the player it is the target to which the shot should be directed. Alternatively, particularly on a driving range 10 with numerous players aiming at the same targets, each striking area 100 may indicate which target to which the shot should be directed, for example, by flashing an image of the actual target on the display monitor.
  • In this example, the struck golf ball 113A is illustrated as proximate target “A,” and its position relative to target “A” is illustrated by the broken line 136. The position or location of the struck golf ball 113A may comprise a distance component and/or a directional component relative to the target “A,” or may comprise actual coordinates, such as latitude, longitude, and/or altitude.
  • Once the golf ball's position relative to an actual target is determined, that position may be transmitted or relayed to the golf ball tracking system 110, for example, using antennae 138 or other known signal/position transmitting/relaying systems. The golf ball tracking system 110 may further comprise a receiver or other device for receiving such signals. At this point, it should be noted that the system disclosed in FIG. 3 is illustrative only. For example, although visual targets A-F are illustrated, each comprising an antenna 138 or other device configured to relay relative position information to the golf ball tracking system 110, it will now be appreciate that numerous receivers, antenna, transmitters, etc., may be positioned on the field of play, i.e., driving range 10, creating a matrix of devices configured to locate a mobile sporting good, i.e., struck golf ball 113A, determine its actual position relative to an actual target of interest, and relay that position to a remote location, i.e., a golf ball tracking system 110, for use in correlating the actual position to a simulated position.
  • An alternative aspect of a mobile sporting good tracking system of the disclosure is illustrated in FIG. 8. In this aspect, a field of play, generally 800, may comprise a matrix or grid, generally 810. The grid 810 may comprise a plurality of readers or receivers/transmitters 812 1-812 n represented by the intersections of horizontal and vertical lines in the grid 810. Each reader or receiver/transmitter 812 1-812 n may be configured to read the presence of a mobile sporting good, for example a golf ball. The mobile sporting good may comprise a tracking device comprising, for example, an RFID layer as illustrated in FIG. 2A, which one or more of the readers or receivers/transmitters 812 1-812 n may detect as it passes by. One or more of the readers or receiver/transmitters 812 1-812 n, or each of them, may likewise be configured with a timer and/or motion sensor that may sense when a mobile sporting good passes by. Such readers, timers, and/or motion sensors may communicate with a tracking system that may determine when the mobile sporting good has come to rest on the field of play 800.
  • For example, track 820 may represent the path of a mobile sporting good, i.e., a golf ball as it enters a field of play 800. As illustrated, the golf ball may bounce at several locations 822, 824, 826, before coming to rest at location 828. The readers or receiver/transmitters 812 1-812 n may be configured to sense the presence of the golf ball at or proximate each point 822, 824, 866, 828 the golf ball passes near or contacts the ground or surface of the field of play 800. The readers or receiver/transmitters 812 1-812 n may be above ground or may be buried in the ground comprising the field of play 800. The reader or receiver/transmitter 812 1-812 n that detects the golf ball and that is most remote from the striking area 100 may be used to approximate the ball's final resting position on the field of play 800. Alternatively, or additionally, the reader or receiver/transmitter 812 1-812 n that last detects, for example via a timer or motion sensor, the golf ball may be used to approximate the ball's final resting place on the field of play 800. The position of each reader 812 1-812 n or receiver/transmitter may be known, and thus may be correlated to an actual target 830 on the field of play, to determine the location of the golf ball or other mobile sporting good relative to the actual target 830.
  • The readers or receivers/transmitters 812 1-812 n and/or timers and/or motion sensors may communicate via wired or wireless connections with the tracking system, i.e., the golf ball tracking system 110 for purposes of providing information indicative of the location of the mobile sporting good on the field of play 800 relative to an actual target, i.e., target 830.
  • Returning now to FIG. 3, the golf ball tracking system 110 may, upon receiving the actual location of the struck golf ball 113A, correlate the actual position of the struck golf ball 113A with a simulated position of a simulated golf ball 113B relative to the simulated target 126. In this example, the simulated position of the simulated golf ball 113B is illustrated as being on the simulated green 124 and relatively near the simulated pin or target 126. Such correlation of the actual position of the struck golf ball 113A to the simulated position of the simulated golf ball 113B may be accomplished, for example, with a microprocessor associated with the golf ball tracking system 110 that may communicate with the display monitor 120, for example via a wired connection 131 or wirelessly. For example, the system may determine that the actual golf ball 113A has landed and come to rest 10 yards from the intended target, for example, target “A”, and substantially in line with the golf ball striking area, i.e., has landed 10 yards short of the target, which in this example may be the pin 126. Employing, for example, a microprocessor configured or programmed for the purpose, this actual position may then be correlated to a simulated position, i.e., that of a simulated golf ball 113B that has come to rest on a simulated green 30 feet short of the hole. This simulated position may be communicated to and/or displayed on the display monitor 120 using pre-programmed visual effects such as commonly used in the video gaming context. Such pre-programmed visual effects may comprise images and/or data stored on a hard drive, for example, associated with the golf ball tracking system 110. Alternatively, the simulated position may be communicated audibly, for example through the speaker 116, i.e., “You are on the green, 30 feet from the hole. Proceed to the putting surface and position your ball at location x.”
  • Correlating the actual location of the actual golf ball 113A to a simulated location of a simulated golf ball 113B may be useful in imparting a real life experience to the player, in terms of seeing or knowing where his or her shot would have landed on a simulated golf course being displayed on the display monitor 120, and also in terms of setting the next shot. In this example, the next shot would be on a putting surface, which will be subsequently described. But other next shots, including, for example, from a fairway lie, from a rough lie, from behind a tree, and from a sand trap lie, are also possible according to the system of the present disclosure. For example, if, instead of reaching the simulated green 124, the simulated ball 113B, as correlated from the actual position of the actual golf ball 113A, comes to rest in the simulated bunker 132, then the player may be instructed to play his or her next shot from the bunker or sand area 106 of the striking area 100, and may be further instructed to play a shot, for example, 15 yards from the pin, which may be achieved by successfully hitting a shot straight ahead coming to rest 15 yards from the sand area 106.
  • Thus, after the player has played the first, or tee shot, the system may be used for playing and simulating successive shots. As another example, in this case a par 4 simulated hole of 350 yards, after the first shot, the golf ball tracking system 110 may determine that the actual golf ball 113A has landed 200 yards from the tee, and roughly on line with the target. The golf ball tracking system may thus correlate this actual position of the struck golf ball 113A with a simulated position on the simulated golf hole 122, for example, by indicating visually on the display monitor 120 and/or via the speaker 116 that the simulated golf ball 113B is in the middle of the fairway, 200 yards from the tee, and/or may display or communicate the distance from the ideal next shot, i.e., the pin, for example, 150 yards. The golf ball tracking system may then instruct the player to aim his or her next shot at target “B,” 150 yards from the actual tee, by placing the next ball 113 on the fairway portion 104 of the striking area 100. Alternatively, the golf ball tracking system may provide information indicating that the next shot should be played toward one or more remote green areas, i.e., target “E.” Play may continue in this fashion until the player has completed the hole by putting out, as will subsequently be described.
  • The system may also be used to permit multiple players, i.e., a foursome, to play a simulated round, whereby each of the four players takes a turn at a tee shot. Each player may have a bucket or other collection of balls that has been coded for that particular player, as previously described. For example, each player may be supplied with a bucket of 100 pre-coded balls for a round of play. In this example, the golf ball tracking system 110 may include or communicate with a golf scoring system 140 that may keep track of the number of shots each player takes on a particular simulated hole. The golf scoring system 140 may keep track of the number of shots automatically, or may include a user interface, such as a keypad or touchscreen 142, whereby the user may manually enter shots taken. The golf scoring system 140 may include a monitor 144 for displaying scores, for example, in the form of a scorecard, or scoring may be displayed in a window on the display monitor 120.
  • Although the golf ball tracking system 110, display monitor 120, and golf scoring system 140 are illustrated as separate devices, it will be appreciated and understood that these components may comprise a single device. Furthermore, although the golf ball tracking system 110, display monitor 120, and golf scoring system 140 are illustrated as being hard wired, they may communicate wirelessly with each other, with the player, and with other aspects of the system. Indeed, the components of the golf ball tracking system 110, display monitor 120, and/or golf scoring system 140 may be incorporated into a wireless handheld device such as a smartphone, which may include an application for allowing a user to use the systems of the present disclosure.
  • In one aspect of the disclosure, a round of play may include 9 or 18 simulated holes, or any other number desired. Each hole may be different. Each player may have a different skill level, in which case the system may be configured to permit each player to designate which of several simulated tee locations to tee off from. For example, red, or ladies' tees are generally closer to the pin or target than white tees, which are generally closer than blue tees. The golf ball tracking system 110 may, at the start of play, instruct the player to select which skill level to play from, and may then set the relative distances from tee to green for each player accordingly. Thus, each player can play at his or her respective skill level without the need to migrate to different tees, as generally occurs when players of different skills and/or men and women play on the same course in the same group. Because the golf ball tracking system 110 of the present disclosure can identify each player by his or her coded golf balls or other coding mechanism, the players' individual skill levels can likewise be identified, and the course or particular hole adjusted accordingly. For example, a woman player who selects playing from red tees, may be instructed on a par three to aim for the 100 yard target “A,” while a male player in the same group who selects playing from the blue tees may be instructed on the same par three to aim for the 150 yard target “B.” In each case, the golf ball tracking system may correlate each player's ball to that player, and to that player's skill level and adjust the actual target recommended for each player to aim for accordingly.
  • Once a player or players has reached the simulated green 124 of a particular hole being played, the system may be configured to allow the player(s) to migrate to a putting phase of play. During the putting phase, the system may correlate the distance of the player's ball from the intended pin or target, and may instruct the player to position the ball for putting on a putting green, generally 300, at one or more locations, identified for illustrative purposes as locations 301-308 in FIG. 3. The system may select the putting location 301-308 by determining the distance and/or position of the struck golf ball 113A relative to the target “A.” The player may then commence putting from the designated location 301-308, aiming for a target or hole/cup 310. The putting surface 300 may be level or include variations in elevation to provide “break”, may comprise an actual putting green with real grass, an artificial grass surface, a carpeted surface, or any other surface suitable for putting. In the case of a driving range, there may be one putting surface 300 for the entire range, to be shared with multiple players, or there may be a separate putting surface 300 for each striking area 100, or combinations such as one putting surface 300 per 10 striking areas 100, for example. Although the putting surface 300 is illustrated as having one hole 310, as will now be appreciated, multiple holes 310 may be included on each putting surface 300.
  • It is also contemplated within the scope of the present disclosure that the putting surface 300 may comprise a hole on a miniature golf course, or may comprise the entire miniature golf course, with the locations 301-308, for example, comprising the tee for different holes on the miniature golf course. In this aspect, the green 300 may be configured with obstacles or other challenges typically associated with miniature golf courses.
  • As further illustrated in FIG. 3, the hole 310 of the putting surface 300 may be in communication with the golf ball tracking system 110 and/or the scoring system 140. Although a wired connection 309 is illustrated, it will now be appreciated that wireless connections are also contemplated to be within the scope of the present disclosure. The putting surface 300 and/or hole 310 may thus be configured with a reader, motion detector, scanner, or other device capable of monitoring when a ball 113 having or associated with a tracking device as described herein has been putted and/or has fallen into the hole 310. By way of illustration, the hole 310 may have a sensor positioned in the bottom of the cup, which may comprise, for example, a pressure sensor or motion detector that senses when a golf ball has dropped into the cup, and/or a reader or other device for correlating the dropped golf ball to a particular player and/or for relaying a signal or otherwise sending information to the golf ball tracking system 110 and/or scoring system 140. At this point, the information indicating that the ball has been putted and/or fallen in the hole 310 may be relayed to the golf ball tracking device 110 and/or scoring system 140, indicating that the player has completed the hole and concluding the scoring sequence for the hole. This information, in turn, may indicate that the next hole should be displayed, for example, when the player's presence (as determined, for example, by a new coded ball 113 being placed on the striking area 100) is next detected. The player may be instructed by the system to indicate the number of putts taken to complete the hole and enter such information into the scoring system 140. Alternatively, the putting surface 300 and/or hole 310 may include sensors, such as motion sensors and/or a video camera 312, that may be configured to count the number of putts taken by a particular player and relay that information to the golf ball tracking system 110 and/or scoring system 140.
  • Referring now to FIG. 4, there is illustrated a method of the present disclosure. As there illustrated, at operation 410 an image of a simulated target, for example, a golf hole, a bowling alley, a deer in the wild, or a football receiver may be displayed. Additionally, operation 410 may only commence upon a user being identified, for example with a coded golf ball, bowling ball, firearm, or football comprising an identification/authorization chip or tag as previously described.
  • At operation 420, an actual target corresponding to the simulated target may be identified. In the case of a golf course, the actual target may comprise a target such as targets A-F previously described. In a bowling alley scenario, the actual target may comprise, for a left-handed bowler, the space between the number 1 and 2 pins. In a hunting scenario, the actual target may comprise a target at which the shooter is directed to fire a shot, which target may be stationary or put in motion. In a football scenario, the actual target may comprise a target at which a passer is directed to throw the football, which target may be stationary or put in motion.
  • At operation 430, a mobile sporting good may be directed toward the actual target, for example, by shooting a golf ball at targets A, B, C, D, E or F; by rolling a bowling ball toward the space between the number 1 and 2 pins, by shooting a rifle at a target that mimics game, or by throwing a football at a target that mimics a receiver. Other mobile sporting goods and targets are of course possible and within the scope of the present disclosure. As used herein, the term “target” is intended to mean any target, goal line, out of bounds line, or other position to which a mobile sporting good may be directed on a field of play. In this regard, the systems, apparatus, and methods of the present disclosure may be used to advantageously eliminate human error by judges, umpires, referees, etc., in various sporting events.
  • For example, if the mobile sporting good comprises a tennis ball, and the field of play comprises a tennis court, the target may comprise the out of bounds perimeter of the court and/or the area of the service box. If a tennis ball includes a tracking device such as disclosed herein, and the entire perimeter of the tennis court has embedded therein or associated therewith a reader or string of readers or other position indicators, receivers/transmitters, etc., which communicate with a ball tracking system, the position of every shot can be determined with respect to the target, i.e., out of bounds line, and the system may include an alarm for indicating when a shot has hit outside of the target, i.e., out of bounds.
  • As another example, in football, there is often difficulty, even with slow motion video replay, in determining whether a football has broken the plane of the goal line. Placing a tracking device about substantially the entire outer surface of the football, just below the pigskin outer layer, may resolve this difficulty if the goal line includes readers or other devices configured to produce a signal in response to any portion of the football crossing the goal line or passing through the uprights. Similar results may be achieved, for example, with hockey pucks and goal lines, soccer balls and goals, and with baseballs and foul pole or home run determinations.
  • At operation 440, the position of the mobile sporting good relative to the actual target may be determined. This may be accomplished before the mobile sporting good is directed toward the target, while the mobile sporting good is traveling towards the target, and/or after the mobile sporting good has approached, hit, or come to rest proximate the target.
  • At operation 450, the actual position of the mobile sporting good may be correlated to a simulated position relative to a simulated target. For example, a golf shot that lands 10 feet short of an actual target “A,” which is intended to simulate a golf hole 126, may be correlated to a position 10 feet short of the simulated target 126.
  • At operation 460, the simulated position of a simulated mobile sporting good, such as a golf ball, may be displayed relative to the simulated target, such as the simulated golf hole 126.
  • Another method of practicing the present disclosure is illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 5A. As there illustrated, a golfing sequence may be initiated by providing information indicative of a simulated golf hole, for example, by displaying an image of a simulated golf hole 122 proximate a ball striking area 100 of a driving range, at operation 510. This operation may precede, or may be preceded by, an operation to correlate a golf ball 113 with a particular player, illustrated at operation 520. As previously described, such correlation may be achieved with a pre-coded golf ball that authorizes play and is specific to a particular player, acting as an ID badge. At operation 530, an actual target corresponding to a desired target, for example, a target A-F on a driving range corresponding to a desired target 126 on a simulated golf hole 122 may be identified. For example, if the simulated golf hole 122 is a 100-yard par 3, then target “A” illustrated in FIG. 3 may be identified as the target at which the player is to aim his or her tee shot. At operation 540, the actual position of a mobile sporting good, i.e., a golf ball, relative to an actual target, i.e., target “A,” may be determined, for example, after the golf ball is struck and comes to rest on the driving range. Such position may include the actual or approximate distance of the ball from the actual target and/or a locational component from the target, i.e., 90 degrees to the right relative to a line between the golf ball striking area and the target. Such position may also include actual geographic coordinates (i.e., latitude and/or longitude and/or altitude) as determined, for example, by GPS tracking/locating systems such as Google Earth.
  • Once the actual position of the golf ball relative to the actual target is determined, the actual position may be correlated to a simulated position relative to the simulated golf hole at operation 545. For example, if the tee shot lands 20 yards right of the actual target, target “A,” but traveled 100 yards, then the simulated position of the simulated ball would be “hole high,” but off the green, 20 yards from the hole. In such case, the player may be provided information, such as instructions to perform a chip shot toward a target more proximate the golf ball striking area, i.e., 20 yards away.
  • After the simulated position of the golf ball is determined, information indicative of the simulated position may be provided, for example, the simulated golf ball 113B may be displayed on the display monitor 120, at operation 550. Such a display may provide the golfer a measure of realism to the experience, approximating the image that might be seen were the shot played on an actual course. For example, if the simulated course is Augusta National, the display might show the player's simulated golf shot proximate Hogan's Bridge or any other recognizable feature. Similarly, if the shot lands on the simulated green 124 then the simulated ball 113B may be shown at its simulated position relative to the simulated hole 126, based on the actual struck ball 113A's position relative to the actual target.
  • FIG. 5A illustrates additional or optional operations of practicing methods of the present disclosure, for example, continuing from broken line 552 of FIG. 5. As illustrated at operation 555, according to one method and/or system subsequently described with reference to FIGS. 6 and 6A, a simulated position of a golf ball 113B may be correlated to a lie on a simulated field of play, i.e., a downhill lie, and the actual field of play, i.e., the golf ball striking 100 area and/or putting surface 300 may be altered to correspond to the simulated lie on the simulated field of play.
  • As is well known, standard driving ranges and golf courses generally include substantially level tee areas and putting areas. Often, however, actual golf courses include fairways, rough, sand traps, greens, etc. that are not level, rather, present the player with side hill, uphill, and/or downhill lies. For example, one of the more challenging golf shots is to hit a ball from a downhill lie in a sand trap, such as often occurs in deep bunkers near the green. As another example, downhill puts, particularly those with “break,” present one of the more challenging putting sequences in golf.
  • An aspect of the present disclosure may include enabling the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 to mimic these less than ideal course conditions by providing the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 with mechanisms that allow the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 to be tilted from a level orientation to one that more accurately approximates real life golf course conditions. Such conditions may be achieved with manual manipulation or with automated controls.
  • Referring to FIGS. 6 and 6A, in one aspect of the disclosure, the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 may include actuators 150 or other mechanisms such as servo or other motors, drives, linkages, pistons, etc. that may support the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 and/or actuate one or both to the desired tilt angle, i.e., downhill, side hill, uphill, or some combination thereof, i.e., downhill/side hill right, or uphill/side hill left, for example. In this aspect, the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 may be configured substantially as illustrated and described in U.S. Patent Application Publication Nos. 20070066413 and/or 20040241630, incorporated in their entirety by reference herein.
  • As illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 6A, a preferred striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 may be configured with three actuators 150, generally equally spaced about the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 in the case of a circular striking area 100 or putting surface 300, as three points define a plane. More or fewer actuators 150, however, may be employed, and indeed, a single actuator 150 may be used if properly configured and positioned, i.e., at or near the center of gravity of the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300. The striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 and/or actuators 150 may communicate with the golf ball tracking system 110, or any other simulated golf ball lie determining system, for example, via wired connections 151 or via wireless connections. For example, a simulated golf ball lie system may include coordinates that map the simulated lie of a simulated field of play at any point on the simulated field of play, such that once the simulated location of a simulated golf ball 113B is determined, the simulated lie, i.e., 10 degrees uphill slope, and 5 degrees sidehill down, associated with that position may also be determined. The system may then communicate these slope angles to the actuator(s) 151 to achieve the same or substantially same lie comprising these angles of slope.
  • Communication of the golf ball tracking system 110 to the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 and/or actuator(s) 150 may allow the system to adjust the tilt of the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 to mimic the slope or lie of the ball as it would lie on the simulated golf hole 122. In this way, particularly when the simulated golf hole 122 being displayed on the monitor 120 indicates the terrain of the hole, i.e., slope, elevations, etc., the player can direct his or her shot to attempt to reach a more level lie. But should a level lie not be reached, the system may be configured to punish the errant shot and player with a more challenging lie by adjusting the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 accordingly to create a non-level lie. In any event, after a mobile sporting good, i.e., a ball, has come to rest on a field of play, the system may adjust the actual field of play, i.e., the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 by motivating it into a new position or orientation in order to mimic the position or orientation of the simulated field of play on which the simulated mobile sporting good has landed.
  • In the aspect of the disclosure as illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 6A, the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 may be positioned in an elevated orientation relative to the deck or floor 152 of the driving range such that the deck or floor 152 does not come into play if the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 is tilted, even at a sharp incline, as could occur if the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300 when in a level orientation is positioned at the same level as the driving range floor 152. While the example illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 6A depicts a round striking area 100/putting surface 300 and three actuators 150, as will now be appreciated, other configurations, including oval, elliptical, square, rectangular, kidney-shaped, or other shapes are possible for the striking area 100/putting surface 300, and more or fewer actuators 150 are possible; indeed, it may be possible, using a robust system, to employ a single actuator 150, which may include, for example, pivotal and/or rotational attachments to enable the desired tilt of the striking area 100 and/or putting surface 300. The striking area 100 may be separate from the putting surface 300 or they may comprise a single combined area. For example, the fairway area 104 of the striking area 100 may double as a putting surface, and the striking area 100 may comprise a cup/hole 310 and one or more putting locations such as locations 301-308.
  • Returning to FIG. 5A, whether or not operation 555 is employed, a putting sequence may be initiated after the struck ball has landed at a position corresponding to a simulated putting surface. Accordingly, at operation 560, upon determining that the golf ball's actual position corresponds to a simulated position on a simulated putting green, then instructions or other information may be provided specifying where on an actual putting green, such as putting surface 300, to position a golf ball to be putted, for example, locations 301-308.
  • As previously described, it may also be determined that a putted golf ball has fallen into a cup 310 on the putting surface 300, and this may be determined at operation 565.
  • Additionally, or optionally, at operation 570, the total number of shots a particular player has taken from the tee shot to putting out on the actual golf hole or cup 310 may be determined and/or recorded. The golf hole sequence may be concluded at operation 575, and may include instructions, such as audible instructions and/or displayed instructions, for commencing the next hole, if any. Additionally, at this operation, it may be determined that a player has completed a round, i.e., 18 holes, at which point the system may provide information indicative of the total number of shots taken on the round, total putts, total fairways hit, total greens in regulation, etc. This information may be stored for the particular player by the system to permit the player to track his or her progress from one round to the next and over multiple rounds.
  • FIG. 7 illustrates another method of practicing the present disclosure. As with other methods described herein, the method illustrated in FIG. 7 may be implemented by employing hardware, software, chipsets, etc., or other devices capable of performing executable instructions on a computer, system, smartphone, tablet, or the various systems and devices described herein.
  • As illustrated, at operation 710, a player verification operation may be performed, for example, by verifying that a particular player is authorized to perform a playing sequence. Such verification may be performed, for example, by employing coding and reader technologies such as described herein, or other verification methods such as fingerprint scanning, facial recognition, etc. As used herein, the term “player” or “user” means a sports professional or enthusiast, hunter, military personnel, police personnel, etc. or any other person that uses a mobile sporting good.
  • At operation 715, the player may be requested to select a playing option. For example, in the case of a golf playing sequence, there may be different skill levels the player may select, as discussed previously. As another example, the player may be requested to select a playing option involving a particular simulated field of play, for example, a particular simulated golf course, i.e., Oakmont, or other simulated field of play, i.e., a professional football stadium and field.
  • At operation 720, a playing sequence may be initiated. For example, information may be provided to the player that he or she may begin play and the player my then perform a playing operation, for example, hitting a golf ball from a striking area 100 as previously discussed.
  • At operation 725, the actual location of a mobile sporting good on the field of play may be determined, for example, as previously described. This actual location may be, in the case of a driving range, the striking area, the green, or may be a location on the field of play, i.e., the fairway area 200, after the golf ball has been struck and come to rest.
  • At operation 730, the actual location of the mobile sporting good on the field of play may be correlated to a simulated location on a simulated field of play, as previously described.
  • At operation 735, information indicative of a suggested new actual location for commencing a subsequent playing sequence based at least in part on the simulated location may be provided. For example, if the simulated location of the mobile sporting good as determined at operation 730 is in a sand trap, the information provided may comprise instructions, i.e., a visual cue, audible command, etc. suggesting that the subsequent playing sequence, i.e., next shot, be positioned in the sand area 106 associated with the striking area 100.
  • At operation 740, a new actual location of a mobile sporting good on the field of play may be determined upon completion of a subsequent playing sequence. For example, if the mobile sporting good is a golf ball that has been played out of a sand area 106 on the striking area 100 and directed toward a target intended to represent the pin, the new actual location may comprise a location relative to the target, as previously described.
  • At operation 745, a determination may be made as to whether the new actual location corresponds with completion of the playing sequence. In the case of a golfing sequence, for example, once the player has putted out, a determination may be made that the hole has been completed, for example, with sensors indicative that the ball has fallen into the actual golf hole or cup 310, and that the playing sequence, i.e., the last shot on that particular hole, has been completed, ending the playing sequence at operation 750. If, however, at operation 745 it is determined that the playing sequence has not been completed, then the operation may return to operation 730, conducting subsequent operations until the playing sequence has been completed, for example by putting the ball into the golf hole or cup 310.
  • While example embodiments of mobile sporting good tracking devices, systems, and methods have been described in connection with various devices, the underlying concepts can be applied to any computing device or system capable of accessing an object positioning system and/or wireless data networks. The various techniques and methods described herein can be implemented in connection with hardware or software or, where appropriate, with a combination of both. Thus, the methods and apparatus described herein, including by way of example for tracking a mobile sporting good, determining its location relative to an actual target, and correlating that location to a simulated location associated with a simulated target, can take the form of program code (i.e., instructions) embodied in tangible media, such as floppy diskettes, CD-ROMs, hard drives, or any other machine-readable storage medium, wherein, when the program code is loaded into and executed by a machine, such as a computer, the machine becomes an apparatus for implementing the embodiments disclosed herein. In the case of program code executed on programmable computers, the computing device will generally include a processor, a storage medium readable by the processor (including volatile and non-volatile memory and/or storage elements), at least one input device, and at least one output device. The program(s) can be implemented in assembly or machine language, if desired. In any case, the language can be a compiled or interpreted language, and combined with hardware implementations. As described herein, a computer-readable storage medium is an article of manufacture.
  • While mobile sporting good tracking functionality has been described in connection with the various embodiments of the various figures, it is to be understood that other similar embodiments can be used or modifications and additions can be made to the described embodiments for performing the same function of tracking a mobile sporting good and determining location thereof relative to a target without deviating from the essential teachings herein. Therefore, the functionality described herein should not be limited to any single embodiment, but rather should be construed in breadth and scope in accordance with the appended claims.

Claims (20)

I claim:
1. A golf ball having a center, an equator, an outer cover, and an inner core having an outer surface, the golf ball further including, embedded therein, at least one tracking device comprising:
a. a thin layer located between the outer cover and the inner core; or
b. a sphere.
2. The golf ball of claim 1 wherein the tracking device comprises a thin layer that partially or fully circumnavigates the equator.
3. The golf ball of claim 2 wherein the tracking device comprises a spherical layer that covers the outer surface of the inner core.
4. The golf ball of claim 1 wherein the tracking device comprises a sphere located proximate the center of the golf ball.
5. The golf ball of claim 1 wherein the tracking device is configured and located to minimize effects of the tracking device on a center of gravity of the golf ball.
6. The golf ball of claim 1 wherein the tracking device comprises one or more of an RFID chip, a homing beacon, a transmitter, a receiver, an antenna, a microprocessor, and a rechargeable power source.
7. A mobile sporting good having at least one curvilinear outer surface and having a shape selected from the group consisting of round, cylindrical, bat-shaped, and football-shaped, the mobile sporting good further including at least one tracking device comprising:
a. A thin layer having a curvilinear shape conforming to the at least one curvilinear shape of the outer surface of the mobile sporting good; or
b. A shape having an outer surface conforming to the shape of the outer surface of the mobile sporting good.
8. The mobile sporting good of claim 7 wherein the mobile sporting good is selected from the group consisting of round balls, footballs, pucks, bats, and cylindrically-shaped objects.
9. The mobile sporting good of claim 7 wherein the tracking device comprises a shape having an outer surface conforming to the shape of the outer surface of the mobile sporting good, and is located within the mobile sporting good to minimize effects of the tracking device on a center of gravity of the mobile sporting good.
10. The mobile sporting good of claim 7 wherein the tracking device comprises one or more of an RFID chip, a homing beacon, a transmitter, a receiver, an antenna, a microprocessor, and a rechargeable power source.
11. The mobile sporting good of claim 7 wherein the mobile sporting good comprises a football-shaped object, and the tracking device comprises a thin strip either positioned longitudinally relative to the football-shaped object, or positioned so as to partially or fully circumnavigate the football-shaped object.
12. The mobile sporting good of claim 7 wherein the mobile sporting good comprises a round ball having a center, and the tracking device comprises a sphere located proximate the center of the round ball.
13. The mobile sporting good of claim 7 wherein the mobile sporting good comprises a cylindrical-shaped object selected from the group consisting of javelins, bullets, or arrows, and the tracking device nests within a shaft, slug, or casing of the cylindrical-shaped object.
14. A system comprising an actual mobile sporting good comprising a tracking device, a field of play comprising an actual target, the tracking device configured to enable tracking a location of the actual mobile sporting good in relation to the actual target, a signal generating device configured to relay a position of the actual mobile sporting good relative to the actual target to a display, wherein the display is configured to display an image of a simulated mobile sporting good in relation to a simulated target corresponding to the location of the actual mobile sporting good relative to the actual target, and wherein the mobile sporting good has at least one curvilinear outer surface having a shape selected from the group consisting of round, cylindrical, bat-shaped and football-shaped, the tracking device comprising:
a. a thin layer having a curvilinear shape conforming to the at least one curvilinear shape of the outer surface of the mobile sporting good; or
b. a shape having an outer surface conforming to the shape of the outer surface of the mobile sporting good.
15. The system of claim 14 further comprising a reading device configured to read the tracking device when the actual mobile sporting good is within a predetermined range of the reading device.
16. The system of claim 14 wherein the mobile sporting good comprises a golf ball, the field of play comprises a driving range, and the simulated target comprises an image associated with a golf course.
17. The system of claim 16 wherein the golf ball has a center, an equator, an outer cover, and an inner core having an outer surface, the golf ball further including, embedded therein, the tracking device, the tracking device comprising at least one of:
a. a thin layer located between the outer cover and the inner core; or
b. a sphere.
18. The system of claim 17 wherein the tracking device comprises a thin layer that partially or fully circumnavigates the equator.
19. The system of claim 18 wherein the tracking device comprises a spherical layer that covers the outer surface of the inner core.
20. The golf ball of claim 17 wherein the tracking device comprises a sphere located proximate the center of the golf ball.
US15/484,996 2013-09-19 2017-04-11 System, apparatus, and method for using mobile sporting goods Pending US20170216682A1 (en)

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US9977114B1 (en) * 2014-03-19 2018-05-22 Golf Delta, Inc. Real time object tracking system
US20170252632A1 (en) * 2016-03-03 2017-09-07 Tim Pappas Game Ball Monitoring System

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