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Patentes

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Número de publicaciónUS20070111858 A1
Tipo de publicaciónSolicitud
Número de solicitudUS 11/620,046
Fecha de publicación17 May 2007
Fecha de presentación4 Ene 2007
Fecha de prioridad8 Mar 2001
Número de publicación11620046, 620046, US 2007/0111858 A1, US 2007/111858 A1, US 20070111858 A1, US 20070111858A1, US 2007111858 A1, US 2007111858A1, US-A1-20070111858, US-A1-2007111858, US2007/0111858A1, US2007/111858A1, US20070111858 A1, US20070111858A1, US2007111858 A1, US2007111858A1
InventoresBrian Dugan
Cesionario originalDugan Brian M
Exportar citaBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Enlaces externos: USPTO, Cesión de USPTO, Espacenet
Systems and methods for using a video game to achieve an exercise objective
US 20070111858 A1
Resumen
In a first aspect, a method is provided that includes (1) receiving input indicating an objective for a user; (2) receiving input indicating a characteristic of the user; (3) determining an exercise regimen designed to cause the user having the inputted characteristic to achieve the objective when the exercise regimen is followed; and (4) determining a video game in which successful play of the video game requires performing the exercise regimen. The video game includes a game system adapted to monitor the user and to influence game play based upon the user performing the exercise regimen. Numerous other aspects are provided.
Imágenes(9)
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Reclamaciones(22)
1. A method comprising:
receiving input indicating an objective for a user;
receiving input indicating a characteristic of the user;
determining an exercise regimen designed to cause the user having the inputted characteristic to achieve the objective when the exercise regimen is followed; and
determining a video game in which successful play of the video game requires performing the exercise regimen,
wherein the video game includes a game system adapted to monitor the user and to influence game play based upon the user performing the exercise regimen.
2. A method comprising:
receiving input indicating an objective for a user;
determining a characteristic of the user;
determining an exercise regimen designed to cause the user having the determined characteristic to achieve the objective; and
determining a game in which successful play of the game requires performing the exercise regimen,
wherein the game includes a game system capable of:
monitoring the user; and
influencing game play based upon the user performing the exercise regimen.
3. The method of claim 2 wherein receiving input includes querying the user about user objectives.
4. The method of claim 2 wherein receiving input includes receiving an indication of a desired physical characteristic that the user wants to achieve.
5. The method of claim 4 wherein determining an exercise regimen includes determining an amount and type of physical activity that the user would need to perform to alter a body of the user to achieve the desired physical characteristic.
6. The method of claim 2 wherein determining a characteristic includes sensing physical aspects of the user using one or more sensors.
7. The method of claim 2 wherein determining a game includes configuring parameters of a video game, wherein the video game is adapted to operate in response to signals, indicative of user activity, from sensors adapted to monitor the user.
8. The method of claim 7 wherein the parameters include at least one of duration, level, and frequency.
9. The method of claim 2 wherein monitoring the user includes detecting physical characteristics of the user using sensors.
10. The method of claim 2 wherein influencing game play based upon the user performing the exercise regimen includes improving user performance in the game if the user performs the exercise regimen.
11. A method comprising:
determining a user goal;
determining a user characteristic;
determining a behavior set based on the user goal and the user characteristic wherein performance of the behavior set by a user having the user characteristic will result in the user achieving the user goal;
determining a game; and
configuring the game such that successful play of the game requires performance of the behavior set.
12. A method comprising:
determining an exercise program;
determining a video game;
determining one or more properties of the video game to modify based on the selected exercise program; and
modifying the one or more properties of video game based on the selected exercise program.
13. The method of claim 12 wherein determining an exercise program comprises allowing the user of the video game to provide an exercise program.
14. The method of claim 12 wherein determining an exercise program comprises:
providing a list of exercise programs to a user;
allowing the user to select one of the exercise programs.
15. The method of claim 12 wherein determining a video game comprises:
providing a list of video games to a user;
allowing the user to select one of the video games.
16. The method of claim 12 wherein determining properties of video game to modify based on the selected exercise program comprises determining a physical attribute of a game character to modify based on an exercise level of a user of the video game.
17. The method of claim 12 wherein determining properties of video game to modify based on the selected exercise program comprises determining a physical attribute of a game character to modify based on a physical attribute of a user of the video game.
18. A method comprising:
providing a list of modifiable properties for a video game;
allowing a user of the video game to select one of the modifiable properties;
determining an exercise program for the user; and
modifying the selected modifiable property based on the exercise program for the user.
19. A method comprising:
monitoring an exercise level of a user of a video game;
determining if the monitored exercise level is consistent with an exercise program of the user; and
modifying a property of the video game based on the monitored exercise level and the exercise program of the user.
20. The method of claim 19 wherein modifying a property of the video game comprises adjusting the exercise program based on the monitored exercise level.
21. The method of claim 20 wherein adjusting the exercise program based on the monitored exercise level comprises increasing or decreasing an expectation of the exercise program.
22. The method of claim 19 further comprising determining a physical characteristic of the user and modifying a physical characteristic of a video game character based on the physical characteristic.
Descripción
  • [0001]
    The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/756,711, filed Jan. 4, 2006 and is a Continuation in Part of and claims priority to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/094,396, filed Mar. 8, 2002, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/274,306, filed Mar. 8, 2001. Each of these applications is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety for all purposes.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to exercise equipment and fitness activities, and more particularly to systems and methods for improving fitness equipment and exercise.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0003]
    A fitness craze has recently swept the United States and many other countries. From fat-free potato chips to treadmills, people around the world have become obsessed with weight loss and healthy living. Accordingly, record numbers of new fitness products/exercise equipment have emerged to meet this obsession (including stair climbers, treadmills, recumbent bicycles, ski machines, and the like).
  • [0004]
    Many pieces of exercise equipment, when used regularly, are very useful for weight loss, for improving cardiovascular stamina, and for strengthening various muscles. However, most exercise equipment suffers from a major drawback: the equipment is boring to use because of its inability to successfully encourage a user (e.g., an exerciser) to continue exercising. As a result, most purchasers of exercise equipment stop using the equipment shortly after purchasing it.
  • [0005]
    A need therefore exists for a system and a method for making both existing and new exercise equipment more enjoyable by successfully stimulating and encouraging an exerciser to continue exercising. Such a system and a method will significantly improve both existing and new exercise equipment, as well as exercise itself (e.g., by making it more enjoyable).
  • [0006]
    U.S. Pat. No. 5,947,868 (the '868 patent) discloses, among other things, a system and method for improving fitness equipment and exercise. This patent is hereby incorporated by reference herein in its entirety. In one embodiment of the '868 patent, a monitor measures a performance level of an exerciser and outputs a performance level signal to a video game player (e.g., a hand-held video game player such as a Gameboy™ manufactured by Nintendo). The video game player monitors the performance level signal and controls the performance level of a video game character based on the signal. Additional methods and apparatus for encouraging or otherwise regulating exercise would also be desirable.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0007]
    In a first embodiment of the invention, a first method is provided that includes (1) receiving input indicating an objective for a user; (2) receiving input indicating a characteristic of the user; (3) determining an exercise regimen designed to cause the user having the inputted characteristic to achieve the objective when the exercise regimen is followed; and (4) determining a video game in which successful play of the video game requires performing the exercise regimen. The video game includes a game system adapted to monitor the user and to influence game play based upon the user performing the exercise regimen.
  • [0008]
    In a second embodiment of the invention, a second method is provided that includes (1) receiving input indicating an objective for a user; (2) determining a characteristic of the user; (3) determining an exercise regimen designed to cause the user having the determined characteristic to achieve the objective; and (4) determining a game in which successful play of the game requires performing the exercise regimen. The game includes a game system capable of (a) monitoring the user; and (b) influencing game play based upon the user performing the exercise regimen.
  • [0009]
    In a third embodiment of the invention, a third method is provided that includes (1) determining a user goal; (2) determining a user characteristic; (3) determining a behavior set based on the user goal and the user characteristic wherein performance of the behavior set by a user having the user characteristic will result in the user achieving the user goal; (4) determining a game; and (5) configuring the game such that successful play of the game requires performance of the behavior set.
  • [0010]
    In a fourth embodiment of the invention, a fourth method is provided that includes (1) determining an exercise program; (2) determining a video game; (3) determining one or more properties of the video game to modify based on the selected exercise program; and (4) modifying the one or more properties of video game based on the selected exercise program.
  • [0011]
    In a fifth embodiment of the invention, a fifth method is provided that includes (1) providing a list of modifiable properties for a video game; (2) allowing a user of the video game to select one of the modifiable properties; (3) determining an exercise program for the user; and (4) modifying the selected modifiable property based on the exercise program for the user.
  • [0012]
    In a sixth embodiment of the invention, a sixth method is provided that includes (1) monitoring an exercise level of a user of a video game; (2) determining if the monitored exercise level is consistent with an exercise program of the user; and (3) modifying a property of the video game based on the monitored exercise level and the exercise program of the user. Numerous other aspects are provided, including systems and apparatus in accordance with these and other aspects.
  • [0013]
    Other features and aspects of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description, the appended claims, and the accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
  • [0014]
    FIG. 1 is a schematic view of an exercise system configured in accordance with a first embodiment of U.S. Pat. No. 5,947,868 (modified to include software and/or databases to implement the methods described below).
  • [0015]
    FIG. 2 is a schematic view of an exercise system configured in accordance with a second embodiment of U.S. Pat. No. 5,947,868 (modified to include software and/or databases to implement the methods described below).
  • [0016]
    FIG. 3 is a flowchart of a first exemplary method provided in accordance with the present invention.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 4 is a flowchart of a second exemplary method provided in accordance with the present invention.
  • [0018]
    FIG. 5 is a flowchart of a third exemplary method provided in accordance with the present invention.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 6 is a flowchart of a fourth exemplary method provided in accordance with the present invention.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 7 is a flowchart of a fifth exemplary method provided in accordance with the present invention.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 8 is a flowchart of an sixth exemplary method provided in accordance with the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0022]
    To further aid in the understanding of the present invention, the exercise system of U.S. Pat. No. 5,947,868 will be described herein. Specifically, FIG. 1 is a schematic view of an exercise system 10 configured in accordance with a first embodiment of U.S. Pat. No. 5,947,868 (modified to include software and/or databases to implement the methods described below). With reference to FIG. 1, the exercise system 10 comprises an exercise monitor 11 connected to a recumbent bicycle 13, and a computer 15 coupled to an output 11′ of the exercise monitor 11 via a cable 17. Any other piece of exercise equipment may be similarly employed (e.g., a stair climber, a stationary bicycle, a rowing machine, etc.).
  • [0023]
    The exercise monitor 11 is configured to measure the pedal rate of an exerciser 19 riding the recumbent bicycle 13, and to output an approximately real-time measure of pedal rate via the output 11′. Other or additional exerciser performance levels (e.g., a measure of the length, intensity or some other characteristic of the exercise activity) may be monitored and output by monitor 11 or by other monitors. The pedal rate output by the monitor 11 is monitored by the computer 15 while the computer 15 runs a video game such as a martial arts video game (represented in FIG. 1 by a martial arts character 21 on a computer screen 23 coupled to the computer 15).
  • [0024]
    The exerciser 19 is shown holding a joystick 25 for controlling the kicking, punching and other movements of the martial arts character 21 on the computer screen 23. The joystick 25 may be directed connected to the computer 15 or coupled to the computer 15 via the monitor 11 as shown in FIG. 1. The joystick/computer connection also may be wireless.
  • [0025]
    In operation, as the exerciser 19 pedals the recumbent bicycle 13, the monitor 11 measures and outputs (via the output 11′) a signal representative of the pedal rate of the exerciser 19. The pedal rate signal output by the monitor 11 is monitored by the computer 15 and is used to control the energy level (e.g., the strength and durability) of the martial arts character 21. Accordingly, the harder the exerciser 19 pedals the bicycle 13, the higher the energy level of the martial arts character 21, and the less likely the martial arts character 21 is to perish from an attack by an opponent martial arts character 27. By exercising harder, the exerciser 19 can therefore score higher or otherwise perform better at the video game.
  • [0026]
    Many different performance levels of the exerciser 19 can be monitored and used to control a video game character's performance levels (e.g., how the character behaves, reacts, etc.). Table 1 contains a representative list of exerciser performance levels that may be monitored as the exerciser 19 exercises on the recumbent bicycle 13 or on some other piece of exercise equipment, and possible video character performance levels that can be controlled for each monitored exerciser performance level. Table 1 is not intended as a limitation on monitorable performance levels and is merely exemplary.
    TABLE 1
    VIDEO GAME CHARACTER
    MONITORED EXERCISER PERFORMANCE
    PERFORMANCE LEVEL LEVEL CONTROLLED
    pedaling rate speed, striking force
    stepping rate speed, striking force
    rowing rate speed, striking force
    running rate speed, striking force
    pulse rate speed, energy level, accuracy
    striking force striking force
    swing velocity swing velocity
    distance traveled game level
    time exercised game level
  • [0027]
    Accordingly, exercise equipment, such as the recumbent bicycle 13, and/or exercise is modified by placing an exercise monitor 11 (e.g., a pulse monitor, a distance meter, a rate monitor, a time monitor, a calorie meter, a strain gauge, an accelerometer and/or any other sensor for measuring the physical activity/performance level of an exerciser) on the equipment and/or the exerciser 19. The exercise monitor 11 outputs a signal representative of the performance level of the exerciser 19 (e.g., pulse rate, distance traveled, time exercised, rate of exercise, etc.) to a video game player (e.g., a computer 15) wirelessly or via a cable. The video game player may be a desk top computer, or preferably comprises a hand-held video game player such as a GameBoy™ (as described with reference to FIG. 2).
  • [0028]
    To stimulate the exerciser 19, the output from the exercise monitor 11 is used to control a parameter within a video game, such as a video game character 21's lifetime, energy level, striking force, accuracy, speed or the like. Similarly, a video game character 21 may be precluded from reaching a higher level in a game unless the exerciser 19 pedals fast enough, exercises long enough, has a high (or low) enough pulse rate or reaches some other performance level. Multiple performance level measurements of the exerciser 19 may be monitored and used to control multiple performance levels of the video game character 21 (e.g., pulse rate of the exerciser 19 dictates energy level/lifetime of the video game character 21, exercise rate controls the speed of or the striking force of the video game character 21, and duration/distance of exercise controls game level).
  • [0029]
    Examples of suitable video games include action-adventure games (e.g., military games, dungeon games, murder-mystery games, etc.), martial arts games, sports games (e.g., hiking, swimming, baseball, basketball, tennis, etc.), and other similar games. For instance, during a video baseball game, the force with which a batter strikes a baseball or the speed with which a player runs around a base may be controlled by the speed with which an exerciser pedals, climbs stairs, rows, etc. Similarly, the speed with which a football player rushes or passes, the power with which a boxer punches or a martial artist kicks, or the height to which a basketball player jumps may be similarly controlled. The “energy level” (e.g., a measure of how long a character can survive an event, attack, etc.) or lifetime of a character can be similarly controlled, or controlled by the pulse rate or other cardiovascular indicator of the exerciser. The key is to make the exerciser exercise harder or longer in order to continue the game or do better in the game. Accordingly, the exerciser is stimulated to work harder in exchange for some immediate success or gratification (e.g., doing better in the game). Preferably, game score/performance will increase with an increasing level of physical fitness (e.g., reduced pulse rate for a given exercise routine, harder workouts, etc.).
  • [0030]
    If desired, the video game player may analyze the data from the exercise monitor and compile statistics on the exerciser's performance. A database can be maintained for each new exerciser and updated after each exercise session so that progress charts and other statistics can be generated for each exerciser. If desired, other relevant data such as a exerciser's weight, body fat, and the like also may be stored and used to assess progress.
  • [0031]
    FIG. 2 is a schematic view of an exercise system 30 configured in accordance with a second embodiment of U.S. Pat. No. 5,947,868 (modified to include software and/or databases to implement the methods described below). With reference to FIG. 2, the exercise system 30 comprises an exercise monitor 31 a connected to a recumbent bicycle 33, and a hand-held video game player 35 (such as a GameBoy™ marketed by Nintendo) coupled to an output 31 a′ of the exercise monitor 31 a via a first cable 37 a.
  • [0032]
    The exercise monitor 31 a is configured to measure the pedal rate of an exerciser 39 riding the recumbent bicycle 33, and to output an approximately real-time measure of pedal rate via the output 31 a′. In addition to the exercise monitor 31 a, an exercise monitor 31 b is shown connected to the exerciser 39 and to the hand-held video game player 35 via a second cable 37 b. The exercise monitor 31 b is configured to measure the pulse rate of the exerciser 39. The pedal rate output by the monitor 31 a and the pulse rate of the exerciser 39 output by the monitor 31 b are monitored by the hand-held video game player 35 while the hand-held video game player 35 runs a video game such as a martial arts video game (represented in FIG. 2 by a martial arts character 41). The exerciser 39 is shown holding the hand-held video game player 35 and can control the kicking, punching and other movements of the martial arts character 41 via buttons 43 on the front of the hand-held video game player 35.
  • [0033]
    In operation, as the exerciser 39 pedals the recumbent bicycle 33, the monitor 31 a measures and outputs a signal representative of the pedal rate of the exerciser 39, and the monitor 31 b measures and outputs a signal representative of the pulse rate of the exerciser 39. The pedal rate signal output by the monitor 31 a is monitored by the hand-held video game player 35 and is used to control the striking force of the martial arts character 41. The pulse rate signal output by the monitor 31 b is monitored by the hand-held video game player 35 and is used to control the energy level of the martial arts character 41. Accordingly, the harder the exerciser 39 pedals the bicycle 33, the harder the martial arts character 41 can strike an opponent. However, the higher the pulse rate of the exerciser 39, the lower the energy level of the martial arts character 41, making the martial arts character 41 more susceptible to attack. By using the monitored performance levels of the exerciser 39 in this manner, to obtain higher and higher game scores, the exerciser 39 must become more and more cardiovascularly fit so that the exerciser 39 can pedal faster while maintaining a lower pulse rate. Cardiovascular fitness becomes a desirable goal of the exerciser 39 because such fitness yields immediate gratification (e.g., a higher game score).
  • [0034]
    Numerous additional features may be provided. For instance, the system of the '868 patent (e.g., via computer program code, databases and/or hardware stored in either the computer 15 of FIG. 1 or in the hand-held video game player 35 of FIG. 2) may be configured to (1) at least attempt to prevent an exerciser from overexercising; (2) “reward” an exerciser for exercise performed before and/or after game play on the video game player; (3) “reward” a video game player (e.g., whether the game player is an exerciser) for behavior performed before and/or after game play.
  • [0035]
    In first aspect, the system of the '868 patent may be configured to attempt to prevent overexercising by monitoring a pulse rate of an exerciser and by stopping and/or suspending game play if the pulse rate is too high. Alternatively, blood pressure may be monitored. The appropriate pulse rate or blood pressure may be assessed based on age, weight, height, etc., of the exerciser. The video game player may be provided with any suitable interface for receiving information regarding pulse rate, blood pressure, the exerciser (e.g., age, weight, height, etc.) such as a keyboard interface, an infrared or other wireless interface, a serial or parallel cable interface, a USB connection interface, a mouse interface, a light pen interface, a network/Ethernet interface, an Internet interface, a dial-up connection interface, etc. Any other parameter or technique may be used to prevent/reduce overexercising such as monitoring time of exercise, number of steps climbed (e.g., for a stair climber), distance traveled (e.g., for a stationary bicycle or treadmill), or the like.
  • [0036]
    In a second aspect, an exerciser is rewarded after exercise is performed. For example, an exerciser may be provided with a “smart monitor” which monitors a performance level of exercise (e.g., pedal rate, step rate, length of exercise, pulse rate during exercise, or some other characteristic of exercise) and creates an “indicator” of the performance level. The indicator may be a code (e.g., an encrypted code) that is displayed to the exerciser, and that the exerciser may then provide to the video game player (e.g., via a keyboard, a light pen, via some other device such as a personal computer that couples to the video game player). Based on the code, the video game player “adjusts” the performance level of a video game character in a manner similar to that described in the '868 patent. In general the video game may be affected in any way by the code (e.g., which is a measure of exercise performance level). Thus, by improving video game character performance based on the code, an exerciser is rewarded for exercise performed before video game play.
  • [0037]
    Note that the use of a code is not required. The video game player itself may monitor exercise level for use during subsequent game play. For example, Joe may take a hand-held video game player (configured in accordance with the present invention) to a local gym, and may use the video game player to monitor his exercise level while running on a treadmill. The video game player may be provided with a clamp that holds the player on a rail of the treadmill or some other location. During exercise, the video game player may display conventional exercise information such as pulse rate, distance traveled, etc. After exercise, based on the exercise performance level of Joe, the video game player may “adjust” or otherwise affect the performance level of a video game character. Numerous options may be provided. For example, Joe may start a video game (before or during exercise), and the video game player may freeze or suspend play until Joe performs some required level of exercise (e.g., runs faster, cycles for 5 minutes, achieves a certain heart/pulse rate, etc.). Once Joe achieves the required exercise performance level, game play may be reinitiated. This may occur several times during an exercise session. Alternatively, video game character performance may only be affected after Joe has completely finished exercising.
  • [0038]
    As an additional feature, information regarding performance level of exercise may be communicated to a third party such as an insurance company, a medical facility, a weight loss clinic or any other relevant party. The third party may offer additional incentives for performing exercise (e.g., reduced insurance deductibles, free physicals, etc.), and may even set the performance level requirements for an exerciser (e.g., by programming the video game player, such as via a network like the Internet, via e-mail, etc.).
  • [0039]
    In a third aspect of the invention, a person is rewarded with improved video game play for non-exercise type activities. For example, game play may be enhanced (e.g., the performance level of a video game player may be improved) if a person (1) achieves a certain grade on a test, completes an education program or studies for a predefined time period; (2) eats at (visits) a certain restaurant (e.g., McDonalds); (3) completes a survey (e.g., by logging on to a Web site and completing the survey); (4) subscribes to a service (e.g., by switching to a certain long distance carrier or by agreeing to a magazine subscription); and/or (4) performs any other predefined task.
  • [0040]
    In some embodiments, a code may be provided to a person achieving a certain grade on a test, completing an education program, studying for a predetermined amount of time or eating at a certain restaurant and that the code may be used to improve the performance of a video game character. For example, if the game player ate at (or visited) a restaurant for example, the game player could be given the code by the restaurant (e.g., on a receipt or on pre-printed card like a scratch-off game piece, for example, in a McDonalds® Happy Meal®). Likewise a teacher or parent could give a student a code from a game manufacturer as a reward for getting a good grade. In at least one embodiment, the present invention does not require automated or even electronic monitoring or measurement of physical activity.
  • [0041]
    Another possible feature includes allowing a person to restart a video game that had previously ended (e.g., because a video game character was “killed”) based on a subsequently performed task. Exemplary tasks include, exercising, achieving a certain grade, eating at (visiting) a certain restaurant, completing a survey, subscribing to a magazine, etc.
  • [0042]
    In some embodiments, it may be desirable to track athletic progress in addition to video game progress and/or correlate video game character performance levels, as discussed above, with achievement of monitored exerciser performance levels. Accordingly, an exercise program may be configured for use with the exercise system 10. The exercise program may be implemented by incorporating a training or exercise regimen into an existing video game or may be implemented by creating a fitness video game. In this way, the exerciser 19 may be able to work toward measurable fitness goals while playing one or more video games.
  • [0043]
    The training or exercise regimen for use with the exercise system 10 may be designed to guide the exerciser 19 to achievement of a measurable and/or specific goal (e.g., completion of an international distance triathlon, qualifying for the Boston Marathon, etc.) by completing certain workouts while playing one or more video games. These workouts may vary (e.g., in intensity, duration, etc.) in accordance with training methods, such as periodization, over the course of a training regimen and may be completed while playing one or more video games. Additionally, the workouts may require one or more measured exercise performance levels as an input or standard (e.g., a certain measured performance level must be attained). Similarly, the training or exercise regimen may be structured for general fitness without a specific goal. The training or exercise regimen may also be structured to guide the exerciser 19 in a weight loss program or to achieve any other fitness goal.
  • [0044]
    The training or exercise regimen may be a pre-determined training program which may be included as part of one or more video games or may be available for use with any video game the exerciser selects. For example, a 16 week winter sports shape-up program may be provided in conjunction with a snowboard racing video game or an 18 week first-time marathon training program may be used with a racecar driving video game already commercially available. Other training programs and/or video games may be used. In some embodiments, the pre-determined training programs may be semi-customizable by the exerciser 19 to allow the exerciser 19 to vary certain parameters of workouts according to their workout and/or gaming preferences. In still other embodiments, the training or exercise regimen may be fully-customizable by the exerciser 19. That is, the exerciser 19 may be able to enter their own training regimen via hand-held video game player 35 or any other suitable input device. This training regimen may be stored (e.g., similar to and/or with game data of a commercially available video game) for use in future workouts.
  • [0045]
    Additionally, the training program may automatically be changed and/or updated based on the athletic performance of the exerciser 19. For example, if the exerciser is unable to maintain a pre-set cadence on a particular cycling workout, the training regimen may be adjusted to make one or more future workouts more attainable, thus allowing the level of gaming to increase even as athletic performance stagnates or decreases, which may help keep the exerciser 19 interested in continuing the program.
  • [0046]
    In the same or other embodiments, the training or exercise program may be a log program. That is, information corresponding to measured exercise performance levels (e.g., distance traveled, time, heart rate, etc.) may be logged to a performance chart. This performance chart may be used to provide feedback to the user, to control current and/or future video game character performance levels, and/or may be incorporated into an existing video game or newly created fitness video game. This information may be stored at the video game player 35, the exercise monitor 11, the computer 15, on computer readable medium associated with video game play, or by any other appropriate device or method.
  • [0047]
    The training or exercise regimen may allow outside information to be inputted (as discussed above) and used in association with video game play. Exemplary information may include calories consumed by the exerciser, information downloaded from other training performance devices (e.g., heart rate (“HR”) monitor, GPS monitor, power meter, etc.), and/or any other appropriate information. This outside information may be incorporated into the training or exercise regimen and may be used to affect video game character performance levels. For example, the exerciser 19 may indicate that he/she has consumed 3000 calories, which may exceed a pre-determined calorie consumption limit. Accordingly, the video game character may appear graphically as bloated, lifeless and/or lethargic and/or may have a lower striking force or other performance characteristic. Other graphic and/or video game performance representations of exercise and/or lifestyle performance may be available in one or more video games (e.g., real world injuries or other limitations of an exerciser may be mimicked within a video game).
  • [0048]
    The training or exercise program and/or associated video game (and/or monitor) may monitor one or more exerciser performance levels during exercise and video gaming sessions. These exerciser performance levels may include HR, cycling pedal rate (cadence), running cadence, cycling power exerted (wattage), pace, time elapsed, oxygen consumption (VO2), blood lactate levels, metabolic rates, etc. Similarly, the exercise system 10 may measure performance levels relative to certain pre-determined training zones (e.g., HR zones, lactate threshold, aerobic threshold (“AeT”), anaerobic threshold (“AT”), etc.). For example, the exerciser 19 may input or dynamically determine a number (typically about five) of HR zones which correspond to a certain target performance level (e.g., the aerobic zone for a particular exerciser may be from 150 to 164 beats per minute (“BPM”)) and the exercise program and/or video game may determine video game character performance levels based on which zone the exerciser 19 is exercising in.
  • [0049]
    Any appropriate method for capturing data related to exerciser performance levels may be used. For example, HR may be determined through a wrist cuff (e.g., monitor 31 b), an ear clip, or a wireless chest strap. The exercise system 10 may be capable of capturing data from non-exclusive monitors such as a Polar F11 manufactured by Polar Electro Inc. of Lake Success, N.Y. In this non-limiting example, data (e.g., HR and/or calories burned) from either the chest strap or wrist unit may be downloaded to the exercise system 10 to provide HR information. Similarly, in a cycling workout, an outside monitor such as the Polar 725X, manufactured by Polar Electro Inc. of Lake Success, N.Y., may be used to capture cadence, speed, time elapsed, power, distance traveled, HR, etc. and/or the like. Such information may be transferred to the exercise system 10 via infrared, wireless or wired transmission, or via any other appropriate method. This or other monitors may be used in conjunction with stationary or other fixed exercise equipment (or no exercise equipment) and/or may be used apart from the gaming environment and the information may then be downloaded to the gaming system for logging and/or updated video game character performance levels and/or capabilities. In certain embodiments, the exercise equipment (e.g., recumbent bicycle 13) may be capable of capturing appropriate information.
  • [0050]
    The individual exerciser performance levels may be interrelated naturally (e.g., as cadence increases, generally HR increases) and the combination of this information may be used to determine a total and/or average performance level. The total and/or average performance level may be used to provide a total and/or average video game character performance level available. Similarly, the individual performance levels may be logged and/or considered separate from each other. In this way, a particular exerciser performance level may correspond to a particular video game character performance level (e.g., HR corresponds to character life level and cadence corresponds to striking force).
  • [0051]
    Exerciser performance levels as discussed above may control or influence current or future video game character performance levels. These video game character performance levels may include speed, power, strength, life force, striking force, energy level, endurance, skill level, or any other video game character characteristic. In accordance with the training regimen discussed above, the exerciser may be rewarded (e.g., with video game character performance) by following the prescribed workout. For example, if the workout is a 60 minute cycling session at a cadence of 85-95 RPM and a HR in the aerobic zone, the video game character performance levels may be increased in 10 minute increments as long as the cadence and HR remain at the prescribed levels (e.g., the video game character may gain additional strike force without an increase in cadence from the exerciser). However, if the exerciser exceeds or fails to reach exerciser performance levels, there may be deleterious effects on the video game character. For example, if the exerciser progresses into the anaerobic HR zone, the video game character may gain speed or striking force for a very short duration, but then may be affected adversely (e.g., the character may pass out or vomit). Exerciser performance levels may affect video game performance globally and/or locally. In an exemplary football video game, the cadence of the exerciser may affect the arm strength of the quarterback while the HR may affect the speed of the rest of the offense. These may have an inverse relationship such that increasing cadence will increase quarterback arm strength, but the natural by-product of this (increased HR) may cause the remaining offensive players to slow down. Any interrelations between exerciser and video game performance levels may be used and in some embodiments may be scalable and/or controllable by the exerciser 19.
  • [0052]
    To further encourage continued exercise and adherence to the training regimen, the video game may be limited by the training regimen. The exerciser may be required to complete certain workouts and/or maintain certain exerciser performance levels for the game to progress beyond certain levels. In this way, fitness goal achievement is related back to the video game with increased video game character lives, skills, abilities, guns, available levels, etc. and gaming level advancement or supply procurement may be limited by failure to reach fitness goals. Goal achievement and reward may be for a particular workout session or any future workout, depending on game configuration. In some embodiments, feedback related to exerciser performance levels may be relayed in real time from the input (e.g., monitor) devices to the video game system to immediately affect video game character performance levels. In the same or other embodiments, this feedback may be used to affect future performance in the same or another workout and/or gaming session.
  • [0053]
    The training program and exercise gaming system described herein may be employed on or with any number of fitness apparatus (or with no fitness apparatus). For example, the exerciser 19 may pedal a recumbent bicycle 13, a stationary upright cycle, a spin bike, or a bicycle attached to a resistance unit. The exerciser may also use an advanced bicycle ergometer such as the Velotron, manufactured by RacerMate, Inc. of Seattle, Wash. or in association with other hardware and/or software fitness packages such as the CompuTrainer, manufactured by RacerMate, Inc. of Seattle, Wash. For example, the exercise program may utilize information provided by the CompuTrainer to create a racing or other game which is separate from the CompuTrainer software but has the same performance characteristics (e.g., speed, intensity, resistance, etc.). The exercise system 10 and training program of the present invention may be compatible so as to download information provided from these or other systems to update the training program and/or current or future video game performance levels. The exerciser 19 may be able to play one or more video games as discussed above while using these fitness apparatus. Similarly, the exerciser may employ the hand-held video game player 35 while using a stair climber or stepper, a treadmill, or any other similar exercise equipment. In some embodiments, workouts performed outside of the gaming environment may be inputted into the exercise system to enhance the training program and/or video game performance levels. This information may be inputted manually (e.g., through the video game player 35) or downloaded from a performance measuring device (e.g., the Polar 725X discussed above).
  • [0054]
    Any of the above embodiments may be implemented, for example, in the system of the '868 patent (e.g., via computer program code and/or hardware stored in either the computer 15 of FIG. 1 or in the hand-held video game player 35 of FIG. 2) or in any other suitable system (e.g., a Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS™, Sony PSP™, etc.).
  • [0055]
    Turning now to FIGS. 3 to 5, example process embodiments of the present invention are depicted as flowcharts. The systems discussed above, including the hardware and software components, are useful to perform the methods of the invention. However, it should be understood that not all of the above described components are necessary to perform any of the present invention's methods. In fact, in some embodiments, none of the above described systems are required to practice the present invention's methods. The systems described above are examples of a apparatus embodiments that would be useful in practicing the invention's methods. For example, the exercise monitor 11 described above with respect to FIG. 1 is useful for automatically measuring physical exertion of the user, but it is not absolutely necessary to have such a monitor in order to perform the methods of the invention. In other words, the methods described below may be practiced using, for example, a generic heart rate monitor or by counting pulse beats and a user who simply enters his heart rate or pulse count into the computer 15 (e.g., a video game system such as the Sony® PlayStation 3®).
  • [0056]
    Referring to FIG. 3, a flow chart is depicted that represents some embodiments of the present invention that may be performed using the systems described above (e.g., FIG. 1) or other devices. It must be understood that the particular arrangement of elements in the flow chart of FIG. 3, as well as the number and order of example steps of various methods discussed herein, is not meant to imply a fixed order, sequence, quantity, and/or timing to the steps; embodiments of the present invention can be practiced in any order, sequence, and/or timing that is practicable.
  • [0057]
    In general terms and referring to FIG. 3, method steps of an embodiment 300 of the present invention may be summarized as follows. In Step 302, a user goal is determined. In Step 304, one or more user characteristics are determined. In Step 306, a set of activities, or more generally, behaviors, are determined based on the user goal and the user characteristics. The behaviors are determined or selected such that performance of the behaviors will result in the user achieving the user goal. In Step 308, a game is determined, and in Step 310, the game is configured so that successful play of the game requires performing the set of behaviors determined in Step 306.
  • [0058]
    In the passages that follow, each of these steps will be discussed in greater detail. Note that not all of these steps are required to perform the methods of the present invention and that additional and/or alternative steps are also discussed below. Also note that the above general steps represent features of only some of the embodiments of the present invention and that they may be re-ordered, combined and/or subdivided in any number of different ways so that methods of the present invention include more or fewer actual steps. For example, in some embodiments many additional steps may be added to update and maintain databases that store information about the user, user goals, user characteristics, behavior sets, game parameters, etc., but as indicated, it is not necessary to use such databases in all embodiments of the invention. In other words, the methods of the present invention may contain any number of steps that are practicable to implement the several different inventive processes described herein.
  • [0059]
    Step 302, determining a user goal, may involve many different sub-processes and may be embodied many different ways. For example, a user may complete a questionnaire or an interview given by a system operator or the computer system. An artificial intelligence program may analyze the user's responses and determine what the user's goal is, for example, in terms of fitness, strength, endurance, stamina, will power, pain tolerance, lung capacity, speed, health, etc. For example, if in response to a series of questions, a user indicates that (1) he wants to participate competitively in a one mile running race, (2) there is an upcoming race scheduled for a future date that he has entered, and (3) a likely winning time would be under four minutes, the system may determine that the user has a “user goal” of being able to run a mile in under four minutes by the future race date. Alternatively, the user may indicate a goal directly by selecting a goal from among a menu of example goals.
  • [0060]
    Likewise, Step 304, determining user characteristics, may involve many different sub-processes and may be embodied many different ways. As with Step 302, Step 304 may include complete a questionnaire or an interview (given manually or in an automated manner). Alternatively or additionally, sensors may be used to determine various characteristics of the user. For example, a sensor such as a scale may be used to weigh the user. Many other types of sensors may be used. For example, height measurement sensors, heart rate monitors, blood glucose monitors, metabolic rate measuring devices, etc. may be employed.
  • [0061]
    In some embodiments, the user characteristics may be used to modify the user goal. For example, if the above example user goal is initially determined, but then the system determines that the user weighs 400 pounds, the goal may be adjusted to simply completing the one mile race. In some embodiments, the user may be enabled to override some or all such adjustments or in other embodiments, safety considerations may preclude determining user goals that are dangerous or may endanger the user's health.
  • [0062]
    Step 306, determining a behavior set, may also involve many different sub-processes and may be embodied many different ways. A set of activities or behaviors are determined that, if performed, will result in the user achieving the user goal. For example, a database of the training effects of various running exercises may be used to determine how much running exercise must be performed over a period of time to improve a person's endurance sufficient to be able to run a mile (user goal). In another example, a database that stores the caloric values of various foods may be used in conjunction with a user's metabolic rate (user characteristic) to determine an exact menu of foods that are to be consumed over a period of time in order to lose a specific amount of weight (user goal). Note that the behavior set is determined based on the user goal and the user characteristics.
  • [0063]
    Step 308, determining a game, may include allowing the user to select a game from among a number of choices, the system may select a game that has characteristics that make the game suitable for use with encouraging the user to perform the behavior set, or a combination of both. For example, if the behavior set includes performing an exercise routine for a fixed amount of time (e.g., half an hour) each day, the game may be a story based video game that unfolds in, e.g., half hour increments. The half hour story segments may be designed to each end with “cliff hanger” situations that compel the user to return to the game the next day. In another example, if the behavior set includes performing an extended activity, the games that the user may select from may include video games that can be played continuously and indefinitely.
  • [0064]
    In some embodiments, the game may be completely unrelated to the behavior set. Alternatively, in some embodiments, the game may mimic the behavior set, the user goal, and/or the user's efforts to achieve the user goal. For example, the game selected for a user training to run a four minute mile might be a running race video game. Likewise, the game may include characteristics or configurable parameters that mimic the user characteristics. For example, if the user has an injured ankle (user characteristic), a video game character may have an injured ankle that impacts the user's performance in the running race game.
  • [0065]
    Step 310, configuring the game, may include setting configurable parameters of the game such that successful play of the game requires performance of the behavior set. In other words, for example, if the behavior set includes maintaining a heart rate within a certain range for a fixed time while walking on a treadmill, a video racing game may allow a user's character to obtain a maximum speed when the heart rate is within the certain range and may slow down the character when the user's heart rate is outside (e.g., above or below) the certain range.
  • [0066]
    Turning to FIG. 4, an alternative embodiment of the above described method 300 is depicted. In Step 402 of the method 400, input indicating an objective for a user is received. In Step 404, input indicating a characteristic of the user is received. In Step 406, exercise regimen is determined that is designed to cause the user to achieve the objective when the exercise regimen is followed. In Step 408, a video game is determined in which successful play of the video game requires performing the exercise regimen. The video game may include a game system adapted to monitor the user and to influence game play based upon the user performing the exercise regimen.
  • [0067]
    Turning to FIG. 5, an alternative embodiment of the above described method 400 is depicted. In Step 502 of the method 500, input indicating an objective for a user is received. In Step 504 a characteristic of the user is determined. In Step 506, an exercise regimen designed to cause the user having the determined characteristic to achieve the objective is determine. In Step 508, a game is determined in which successful play of the game requires performing the exercise regimen. In Step 510, the user is monitored during the exercise regimen and/or at other times. In Step 512, game play is influenced based upon the user performing the exercise regimen. The method 500 may also include querying the user about user objectives, receiving an indication of a desired physical characteristic that the user wants to achieve, determining an amount and type of physical activity that the user would need to perform to alter a body of the user to achieve the desired physical characteristic, and sensing physical aspects of the user using one or more sensors. The video game may be adapted to operate in response to signals, indicative of user activity, from sensors adapted to monitor the user. The parameters may include duration, level, frequency, etc. Monitoring the user may include detecting physical characteristics of the user using sensors and influencing game play based upon the user performing the exercise regimen may include improving user performance in the game if the user performs the exercise regimen.
  • [0068]
    FIG. 6 is a flowchart of an exemplary method 600 for implementing an exercise program in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In some embodiments, completion of the video game (e.g., winning the video game, doing well at the video game or achieving a predetermined result, etc.) requires the user to obtain the objective(s) of an exercise program (e.g., being able to run a marathon, losing a predetermined amount of weight, etc.). With reference to FIG. 6, in step 601, an exercise program is determined (e.g., running an international distance triathlon, qualifying for the Boston or another marathon, a first-time marathon training program, a sports shape-up program, a weight loss program, a cardio-strengthening program, or any other exercise program).
  • [0069]
    In some embodiments, a manufacturer may wish to provide one or more exercise programs for use with a video game. Alternatively or additionally, a user of a video game may wish to associate an exercise program with the video game. For example, the user may specify the exercise program (e.g., as a stated goal of weight loss, distance and/or time to walk, run, bike, etc., or as any other stated goal). Likewise, a video game may include a list of exercise programs available to the user, and allow the user to select (and/or customize) one of the exercise programs. As one particular example, at start-up, a video game may provide a list of exercise programs that may be associated with the video game (e.g., weight loss, distance training, sprint training, etc.). A user of the video game may select one of the exercise programs and specify additional parameters for the exercise program such as how much weigh to loose and/or over what period of time, whether the distance training is for a 5K, 10K or 26K run and/or how fast the run should be completed, etc.
  • [0070]
    In step 602, a video game for use in achieving the exercise goal is determined. (Note that in some embodiments, step 602 may occur before step 601). The video game may be determined based on the exercise program determined in step 601 (e.g., a marathon training exercise program may be well suited to a battle-field video game in which a video game character runs great distances across a battle field). Alternatively, the video game may be determined based on other criteria such as user preferences, user characteristics (e.g., age, weight, gaming skills, gaming experience, etc.) or the like. In some embodiments, a video game player may provide a list of video games to a user, and allow the user to select a video game from the list.
  • [0071]
    In step 603, one or more properties of the video game to modify are determined. For instance, the video game and/or game player may have one or more properties of the video game that may be varied to assist in achieving the exercise program determined in step 601. Exemplary properties include character speed, size, life, striking force, energy level, accuracy, etc., game level, game topography, or the like. In some embodiments, such properties may be “controllable” based on an exercise level of the video game player (e.g., pedal rate, step rate, row rate, running rate, pulse rate, distance traveled, time exercised, etc.) as previously described.
  • [0072]
    In step 604, the one or more properties determined in step 603 are modified (e.g., correlated with or otherwise made dependent on exercise or other activities of the video game player). In one or more embodiments, physical characteristics of a video game player may be reflected in a video game character (e.g., to further customize the video game with the exercise program). Examples of physical characteristics of the video game player that may be reflected in a video game character include weight, height, strength, injuries, etc.
  • [0073]
    FIG. 7 is a flowchart of an exemplary method 700 for implementing an exercise program in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In some embodiments, completion of the video game (e.g., winning the video game, doing well at the video game or achieving a predetermined result, etc.) requires the user to obtain the objective(s) of an exercise program (e.g., being able to run a marathon, losing a predetermined amount of weight, etc.). With reference to FIG. 7, in step 701, a video game player may provide a list of video game properties available for selection by a user. The selectable video game properties may be properties of the video game to vary to assist in achieving an exercise program.
  • [0074]
    In step 702, a user may select one of the listed properties. For instance, a user may select character speed, size, life, striking force, energy level, accuracy, etc., game level, game topography, or the like to be “controllable” based on an exercise level of the user during game play (e.g., pedal rate, step rate, row rate, running rate, pulse rate, distance traveled, time exercised, etc.) as previously described.
  • [0075]
    In step 703, an exercise program is determined (e.g., running an international distance triathlon, qualifying for the Boston or another marathon, a first-time marathon training program, a sports shape-up program, a weight loss program, a cardio-strengthening program, or any other exercise program).
  • [0076]
    In some embodiments, a manufacture may wish to provide one or more exercise programs for use with a video game. Alternatively or additionally, a user of a video game may wish to associate an exercise program with the video game. For example, the user may specify the exercise program (e.g., as a stated goal of weight loss, distance and/or time to walk, run, bike, etc., or as any other stated goal). Likewise, a video game may include a list of exercise programs available to the user, and allow the user to select (and/or customize) one of the exercise programs. As one particular example, at start-up, a video game may provide a list of exercise programs that may be associated with the video game (e.g., weight loss, distance training, sprint training, etc.). A user of the video game may select one of the exercise programs and specify additional parameters for the exercise program such as how much weigh to loose and/or over what period of time, whether the distance training is for a 5K, 10K or 26K run and/or how fast the run should be completed, etc. In some embodiments, step 703 may occur before step 702.
  • [0077]
    In step 704, the one or more properties determined in step 703 are modified based on the exercise program (e.g., correlated with or otherwise made dependent on exercise or other activities of the video game player). For example, if the workout is a 60 minute cycling session at a cadence of 85-95 RPM and a HR in the aerobic zone, the video game character performance levels may be increased in 10 minute increments as long as the cadence and HR remain at the prescribed levels (e.g., the video game character may gain additional strike force without an increase in cadence from the exerciser). However, if the exerciser exceeds or fails to reach exerciser performance levels, there may be deleterious effects on the video game character. For example, if the exerciser progresses into the anaerobic HR zone, the video game character may gain speed or striking force for a very short duration, but then may be affected adversely (e.g., the character may pass out or vomit).
  • [0078]
    FIG. 8 is a flowchart of an exemplary method 800 for controlling a video game in accordance with a user's exercise objective. With reference to FIG. 8, a exercise level of the user of the video game is monitored (e.g., pulse rate, pedal rate, step rate, running rate, distance traveled, time exercised, etc.). Exemplary monitoring systems are described above.
  • [0079]
    In step 802, a determination is made as to which property or properties of the video game are to be affected by the exercise level of the user (e.g., speed, striking force, energy level, accuracy, game level, etc.). In step 803, the determined property or properties of the video game are modified based on the monitored exercise level and the exercise program. For example, if the workout is a 60 minute cycling session at a cadence of 85-95 RPM and a HR in the aerobic zone, the video game character performance levels may be increased in 10 minute increments as long as the cadence and HR remain at the prescribed levels (e.g., the video game character may gain additional strike force without an increase in cadence from the exerciser). However, if the exerciser exceeds or fails to reach exerciser performance levels, there may be deleterious effects on the video game character.
  • [0080]
    The foregoing description discloses only exemplary embodiments of the invention; modifications of the above disclosed apparatus and method which fall within the scope of the invention will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. For instance, any number of performance levels of an exerciser may be monitored and used to control any number of performance levels of a video game character, and the various monitors described herein may communicate with the video game player wirelessly. As well, conditions within a video game may be output by the video game player and used to increase/decrease the difficulty of exercise, or otherwise affect exercise, if so desired. Further, old video games may be modified for use with the present invention, or new video games may be developed.
  • [0081]
    Additionally, while the present invention has been described with reference to a single exerciser, it will be understood that the invention is equally applicable to multiple exerciser situations. For instance, different video game characters within the same video game may be controlled by different exercisers. That is, the performance level(s) of a first exerciser may control the performance level(s) of a first video game character, while the performance level(s) of a second exerciser may control the performance level(s) of a second video game character contained within the same video game as the first video game character. In this manner, the exerciser who exercises harder will have a gaming advantage over the other exerciser. Such multi-exerciser applications may be performed locally (e.g., all exercisers in the same room) or remotely (e.g., at least one exerciser in a different location who communicates remotely, such as over the INTERNET or the WORLD WIDE WEB).
  • [0082]
    In some embodiments, the game player described herein may be a cellular telephone or personal digital assistant that plays video games, or any other hand held video gaming device.
  • [0083]
    Accordingly, while the present invention has been disclosed in connection with the preferred embodiments thereof, it should be understood that other embodiments may fall within the spirit and scope of the invention, as defined by the following claims.
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Clasificaciones
Clasificación de EE.UU.482/8, 482/9
Clasificación internacionalA63B71/00
Clasificación cooperativaA63F2300/65, A63F13/00, A63B2230/06, A63B2225/20, A63F13/56, A63B71/0622, A63F2300/1012, A63B2220/34, A63B24/0075, A63F13/212
Clasificación europeaA63F13/00, A63B71/06D2