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Patentes

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Número de publicaciónUS20080286733 A1
Tipo de publicaciónSolicitud
Número de solicitudUS 12/091,009
Número de PCTPCT/FR2006/002342
Fecha de publicación20 Nov 2008
Fecha de presentación18 Oct 2006
Fecha de prioridad21 Oct 2005
También publicado comoDE602006006089D1, EP1948337A1, EP1948337B1, US20120135825, WO2007045765A1
Número de publicación091009, 12091009, PCT/2006/2342, PCT/FR/2006/002342, PCT/FR/2006/02342, PCT/FR/6/002342, PCT/FR/6/02342, PCT/FR2006/002342, PCT/FR2006/02342, PCT/FR2006002342, PCT/FR200602342, PCT/FR6/002342, PCT/FR6/02342, PCT/FR6002342, PCT/FR602342, US 2008/0286733 A1, US 2008/286733 A1, US 20080286733 A1, US 20080286733A1, US 2008286733 A1, US 2008286733A1, US-A1-20080286733, US-A1-2008286733, US2008/0286733A1, US2008/286733A1, US20080286733 A1, US20080286733A1, US2008286733 A1, US2008286733A1
InventoresFrederic Claudel, Frederic Nicolas
Cesionario originalFrederic Claudel, Frederic Nicolas
Exportar citaBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Enlaces externos: USPTO, Cesión de USPTO, Espacenet
Interactive Device For Video Games
US 20080286733 A1
Resumen
The invention concerns a device for interactive football practice combined with an imaging and sound system constituting the football programme to be followed by a player, comprising an object relatively fixed to the ground (I), of spherical shape which the player can kick, and various means for determining the types of kicks practised by the player and the intensity thereof.
Imágenes(9)
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Reclamaciones(19)
1. Device for interactive football (soccer) practice combined with an imaging and sound system constituting a football program operating on a digital processing unit,
characterised in that it comprises a Ball (1) relatively fixed to the floor, with a shape and consistency resembling those of a football, sensors showing the existence and location on the surface of the Ball of a kick applied to said Ball, quantifying the intensity of said kick on said Ball and the length of travel of the leg of the user kicking said Ball and a module transforming the information supplied by these sensors into command signals sent to the digital processing unit to which the device according to the invention is connected.
2. Device according to claim 1, characterised in that the Ball is connected to a base resting on the floor by an element providing a flexible, semi-rigid link between the Ball and the base.
3. Device according to claim 1 or 2, characterised in that the module is arranged to calculate one or more command signals according to information provided by the sensors of the device when a kick is applied to the Ball and the internal consistency of this information, and then to transmit the signal or signals to the digital processing unit.
4. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the information spectra of the sensors are divided into categories which have sets of signals of the football program associated with them and in that, in order to determine the signal or signals to be sent, the module of the device according to the invention proceeds by intersecting the sets associated with the categories to which the information supplied by the sensors belongs.
5. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the means indicating whether a force is exerted on the Ball as well as the area for detecting said force on the surface of the Ball consist of at least three impact or acceleration sensors arranged at the centre of the Ball so that the information they supply allows the force exerted on the surface of the ball to be reconstructed as a vector.
6. Device according to the preceding claim, characterised in that the surface of the Ball (1) has four areas (2), (3), (4) and (5) for locating the application of the force exerted on the Ball and that these areas are independent and divide the surface of the Ball (1).
7. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the area for locating the force exerted on the Ball is sensed by sensors measuring the tilt of the Ball in relation to its vertical axis.
8. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the means indicating the trajectory of the leg that kicked the Ball consist of one or more light-ray emitters placed behind the player and one or more light-ray receivers placed opposite said emitters, signalling an interruption of their light rays, mainly caused by the player's leg passing through them according to its amplitude of movement.
9. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the means quantifying the intensity of the kick of the player's foot on the Ball consist of one or more impact or vibration sensors (22) placed in the Ball.
10. Device according to any one of the claims from 1 to 8, characterised in that the means quantifying the intensity of the kick of the player's foot on the Ball and identifying the area where said force is located on the Ball consist of one or more sensors which respond in accordance with the pressure applied to them, placed around the vertical axis of the Ball, on a surface pressed by the Ball when the latter is tilted due to a force exerted on it.
11. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the module is arranged to transmit the signal triggered by kicking the Ball for a time depending on the intensity of the kick exerted on the Ball.
12. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the module is arranged to assess a “time for pressing a force on the Ball”, assessed as a period longer than a minimum time during which the sensors for detecting a force exerted on the Ball were activated uninterruptedly.
13. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the module is arranged to take into account, when creating command signals based on sensor information, the consistency between the length of the trajectory of the leg that kicked the Ball and the intensity of the kick on the Ball and, in the event of inconsistency, the module is arranged to transmit a signal corresponding to a feint in the football program.
14. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the module is arranged to transmit a signal to the digital processing unit connected to the device when the force triggering the emission of said signal is exerted on the Ball.
15. Device according to claims 12, 13 or 14, characterised in that the module is arranged to transmit specific signal to the digital processing unit a when a pressure is exerted on the Ball, a signal which can be different from the signal of the kick initiating said pressure.
16. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the Ball is attached to a mat (11) equipped with pressure-sensitive surfaces which the player can press with his/her feet in order to send additional signals to the football program.
17. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the device is completed by a Handle (16) equipped with various buttons sending signals to the digital processing unit connected to the device.
18. Device according to the preceding claim, characterised in that the activation of one or more buttons of the Handle (16) modifies the signal sent to the digital processing unit due to an action performed on the Ball.
19. Device according to any one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the device has a connector by means of which the player can connect a gamepad of the digital processing unit to the device according to the invention, all or part of the signals of which can be sent to the digital processing unit connected to the device.
Descripción
  • [0001]
    The present invention relates to the field of devices comprising elements sensing certain actions of a user and transforming this information so as to interact with an imaging and sound system such as a television connected to a game station or a digital processing unit. The present invention relates more specifically to a device for interactive practice of the sporting activity known as football or soccer.
  • [0002]
    The main aim of the invention is to provide a new interactive leisure and sports peripheral for a digital processing unit such as, for example, a video game console or a personal computer, providing an innovative way to perform the interactive parts of football (or soccer), in particular with certain existing football programs.
  • [0003]
    Existing football games are generally complex and generally characterised by the player controlling virtual footballers chosen one by one from a team, moving said players with the help of specific directional buttons, choosing the way the ball is kicked, generally from among four major categories of kicks, controlling the intensity of the kick characterised by the time during which the button triggering the kick is kept pressed, controlling the direction of the kick generally with the help of a directional button and a number of other commands triggering variations on running, feints, dribbling, changes of team strategies, etc.
  • [0004]
    The prior art already knows video game peripherals that seek to increase leisure and sports interaction for enhanced realism in the practice of football video games.
  • [0005]
    In this way, interactive “mat” accessories have been developed, such as described in patent WO 0249731 (ESAAC COMM CO LTD—2002). This patent describes a flat accessory made up of various pressure-sensitive surfaces. By stepping on these surfaces, the player moves his/her virtual footballer in the game, making him perform passes or dribbles.
  • [0006]
    Another type of accessory, described in patent GB2409174 (FU CHEN GUO—2005), is presented in the form of a hemispheric box placed on a mat, including an infrared sensor and receiver. The latter transform the reception of an infrared signal reflected under the player's foot into a kick in the game when the player's foot passes over a transparent window in the box containing the emitter and the receiver.
  • [0007]
    In these two examples, and although the aim of these accessories is to obtain greater realism for the player in his/her interaction with a software program representing the football game, the player is not given the opportunity to do what the inventors of the device according to the invention consider to be essential in the game of football, which is to actually kick an object with similar shape and consistency to a football.
  • [0008]
    Patent JP7047156 (DAINIPPON PRINTING CO LTD—1993) describes an arcade game machine which can simulate football shots by allowing the player to kick a real ball which moves under the effect of the kick and in which the trajectory of the shot is controlled by a mechanical guide. Another accessory with a ball which can be moved is used by the product called “Madden Football—Play TV”, by the company Radica. The latter product is used for a dedicated “American football” game, and not for football (or soccer) and the ball is held in the hand, and not kicked. These two products, which are different in their general style, suffer a similar major disadvantage in the design of their application to the most popular football or soccer video games, which is that a mobile ball, due to its very mobility, does not allow the ball to be kicked several times in a short time interval, thus performing quick passes of the ball between players; and yet these actions are essential in the most popular existing football games for video game consoles or personal computers and more generally in a football game requiring quick, precise, repeated actions.
  • [0009]
    Another accessory that can be seen in some game arcades is presented in the form of a foam ball at the rear of the kicking zone of the ball extended by a relatively fixed bar attached to the body of the arcade machine. A kick given to the ball transmits its force to the bar, which analyses its direction and impact and translates it into the trajectory of the ball on the game screen. This accessory works with a dedicated football game, where the game shows what a player would see on the pitch (so-called subjective view), where the trajectories of the balls kicked by the player are always located within a cone with an axis of revolution facing the latter, only depending on the intensity and the direction of the kick. However, in popular football games for game consoles or personal computers, the view is non-subjective, but rather from above in perspective, and the trajectories of the balls kicked by the virtual player can actually be in all directions in relation to the player. In addition, in these games, the player chooses the type of kicks to be made (short pass, long pass, shot feint, lob, pass forward when the ball is send in front of the ball receiver, curve ball, pass back with the heel, etc.) regardless of the intensity to be given to the kick or the direction of the latter.
  • [0010]
    On the other hand, shot directions in the most popular football software on game consoles or personal computers are controlled by very precise specific directional buttons, as this is an aspect of the game requiring particularly fine control by the player.
  • [0011]
    Finally, other important actions in the most popular football software include “defensive pressure” (when a defending footballer exerts pressure on the player in possession of the ball) and dribbling, which cannot be performed with the ball of the accessories of the prior art, taking away from the realism of the latter.
  • [0012]
    The present invention aims to solve some of the shortcomings of the prior art through the original association of four elements: a relatively fixed object with a shape similar to that of a football designed to be kicked by the player, suitable means for locating the area where the force exerted by the player's foot is applied to said ball, quantifying the intensity of the kick as well as the amplitude of travel of the leg that kicked said ball, a module analysing the various preceding elements of information and their consistency, and using them to deduce the signal to be sent to the digital processing unit to which the device according to the invention is connected as well as the transmission time for said signal and, finally, control means sending signals that complement those described above and, in particular, directional signals.
  • [0013]
    The device according to the invention allows the practice of interactive virtual football (soccer) by giving the player the impression of playing football, since the player performs a kick of the ball in the football program by actually kicking an object that resembles a football. On the other hand, the device according to the invention is capable of differentiating between several kick categories, adapted to the nature of the football program, the intensity and direction of which can be assessed independently from said kick categories. In addition, said kicks can be performed at a sustained rate. Such an embodiment provides an original response to the needs of football programs. Finally, the device according to the invention allows the performance of other types of football actions, such as defensive pressure or dribbling, through direct use of the object resembling a football, adding realism to the use of the device.
  • [0014]
    For this purpose, the present invention relates to a device for practicing football connected to an imaging and sound system constituting the football program with which a user interacts, comprising an object attached to the floor, which has similar shape and size to a football.
  • [0015]
    According to one embodiment, the object with similar shape and size to a football, hereinafter called “Ball”, will consist of or be provided with a peripheral layer of a compact, flexible foamlike material, allowing the Ball to be kicked without causing pain.
  • [0016]
    According to a preferred embodiment, the peripheral layer of the Ball will be airtight and the Ball will be inflatable.
  • [0017]
    The Ball will be attached to the floor by an element that ensures it has a relatively fixed position allowing a player located near the ball to kick it repeatedly at quick intervals, since the ball will not move far from the player after each kick.
  • [0018]
    The Ball will advantageously be attached to the floor by an element ensuring reduced Ball mobility in order to dampen the impact received from the kicks. One possible embodiment can include an element providing an elastic, semi-rigid link between the Ball and a base resting on the floor.
  • [0019]
    According to one embodiment, the Ball will be placed in a net attached at the bottom to a flat base resting on the floor and ensuring the stability of the assembly on the floor.
  • [0020]
    According to another embodiment, the Ball will be attached to a cylinder with its axis perpendicular to the floor, which passes through all or part of the inside of the Ball in the vertical direction, and which will be attached by the bottom to a base.
  • [0021]
    According to one embodiment, the attachment of the Ball to the floor will be guaranteed by the fact that the Ball will be solidly attached to a base and said base will be solidly attached to a surface on which the player will rest his/her non-kicking foot when kicking the Ball with the other foot.
  • [0022]
    The Ball will be provided with means for indicating the area detecting the application of a force exerted on its surface. In this way, the surface of the Ball can be divided into a certain number of detection areas. Each of these detection areas will have associated with it a set of signals compatible with the game and relating to the kicks of the ball.
  • [0023]
    According to one embodiment, the means indicating the detection area will be made with the help of a differential treatment of information emitted by impact or acceleration sensors, placed in the Ball and solidly attached to same and emitting a larger or smaller signal according to whether the force applied to them is more or less aligned with a sensitivity axis which is specific to each of them. Impact or acceleration sensors placed towards the centre of the Ball so that their axes of sensitivity are perpendicular to one another can, with sufficient approximation, be considered to define an orthonormal frame of reference.
  • [0024]
    Then, when a force is exerted on the Ball, the values of the respective signals from the sensors will provide the coordinates for the vector of the force exerted on the Ball within said frame of reference, which, by raising this vector to the surface of the Ball, will provide a location for the application of said force on the surface of the Ball.
  • [0025]
    According to another embodiment of the invention, these means will be made by covering the outer surface of the Ball with one or more specific surfaces capable of indicating, independently among each other, whether or not pressure is exerted on them. These surfaces can then define areas for application of a force exerted on the Ball.
  • [0026]
    According to one embodiment, such surfaces are made by means of pressure-sensitive surfaces. A pressure-sensitive surface is characterised in that when mechanical pressure is exerted on such a surface (pressure of the foot, for example), the electrical properties of such surface are modified compared with its electrical properties when no pressure is exerted on it. Such surfaces can act, in particular, as foot-activated on-off switches. A standard modification of the electrical properties of the surface consists of closing or opening an electrical circuit according to whether or not pressure is exerted on the surface. In this case, the pressure-sensitive surface acts as an on-off switch.
  • [0027]
    Said Ball advantageously defines at least two areas for detecting the application of a force exerted on the Ball.
  • [0028]
    Advantageously, the aforementioned detection areas will define a partition of the outer surface of the Ball.
  • [0029]
    According to one embodiment of the invention, the detection areas are arranged on surfaces defined by the geometrical paths described by the intersection of the surface of the Ball with a plane perpendicular to the floor passing through the centre of the Ball when it performs rotations in which the axis of rotation is vertical and passes through the centre of the Ball. In other words, the detection areas are arranged according to vertical “quarters” on the surface of the ball. An advantageous scenario is obtained when these areas and all the signals associated with them are identical on either side of a vertical plane passing through the centre of the Ball, since these areas are then advantageously arranged in a similar manner for right-handed and left-handed players.
  • [0030]
    According to another embodiment of the invention, the detection areas are arranged according to segments that cut the surface of the Ball parallel to the floor.
  • [0031]
    Other embodiments of the invention implement other means for sensing the location of a force exerted on the surface of the Ball. Without this list being exhaustive, one method consists of pockets of air or liquids inserted in the ball near its surface under such locations and connected to pressure sensors. Another method consists of deformation sensors placed directly under the external surface of the Ball under said locations, and which will be triggered when the flexible surface of the ball is modified following a pressure exerted on it. Another method consists of allowing the element attaching the Ball to the floor to tilt in various directions, and for some of these directions to be associated with tilt sensors. Thus, if a force is exerted on the Ball, the latter tilts in the direction in which the force is exerted. The area of the Ball on which the force is exerted is thus defined as being the part of its surface which is opposite to the tilt direction. Another method consists of equipping the part of the base located in the sector touched by the Ball when the latter tilts due to a force exerted on it with sensors sending a response relating to the pressure applied to them. Four sensors arranged around the axis of the Ball, in the indicated sector, according to four equidistant points, will make it possible to determine, by comparing the intensities and the associated response times, the direction towards which the Ball tilts.
  • [0032]
    Advantageously, the sets of signals associated with the areas of the Ball where the force is exerted can be switchable in particular so as to adapt to left-handed and right-handed players.
  • [0033]
    The device according to the invention will include means for quantifying the intensity of the force possibly applied to the Ball. The range of possible values of this intensity will be divided into intervals, and each of these intervals will be associated with a set of signals compatible with the game and relating to the kicks of the ball.
  • [0034]
    According to one embodiment of the invention, the aforementioned means will be one or more sensors placed inside the Ball and solidly associated with the movements of the latter.
  • [0035]
    According to one embodiment of the invention, it will comprise one or more impact or acceleration sensors capable of converting the mechanical energy resulting from an impact or the application of a force to the Ball into an electric magnitude such as a voltage. In such an embodiment, the Ball may be relatively fixed in relation to the floor, allowing the Ball to move slightly when kicked, in order to transmit sufficient mechanical energy to the sensors solidly attached to the Ball.
  • [0036]
    Other embodiments of the invention implement other means to assess the intensity of the kick applied to the Ball such as, for example, and without this list being exhaustive, the variation of the signal from a pressure sensor connected to a pocket of air or a liquid placed under the surface of the Ball, the variation in the length of a spring connected to the mechanism retaining the Ball on the floor, pressure-sensitive sensors located in the sector of the base which the Ball touches when a force is exerted on it, and in which the response is relative to the intensity of the pressure applied to it.
  • [0037]
    According to one embodiment of the invention which takes into account deformations of the Ball that can initially absorb part of the mechanical energy transmitted to the Ball before reproducing it by a movement, the intensity of the force exerted on the Ball will be quantified by sampling the values of said sensors over a sufficient time lapse for them to be able to capture the expression of this reproduction.
  • [0038]
    The device according to the invention will comprise means for assessing, even approximately, the amplitude of travel of the foot kicking the Ball. A set of signals compatible with the game and relating to the kicks of the Ball will be associated with each of the possible categories of this travel.
  • [0039]
    According to one embodiment of the invention, these means will be implemented in the form of a certain number of light-ray emitters and an identical number of receivers, each receiver facing an emitter, translating into an electrical signal any interruption of the reception of light rays emitted by the emitters. The axes of the trajectories of the light rays will be placed at the intersection of a plane parallel to the floor and planes perpendicular to the floor. The rays will be placed several centimetres above the floor and behind the player, so that if the player moves his/her leg back to gather momentum to kick the Ball or chooses an ample trajectory for the leg kicking the Ball, this leg will cut off one or more light rays. The travel of the leg will be judged to be larger the greater the number of light rays cut off.
  • [0040]
    According to another embodiment, these means will be implemented in the form of a certain number of light-ray emitters and a certain number of light-ray receivers. The emitters will be placed behind the player, so as to emit their ray relatively vertically upwards and in a location so that, if the player moves his/her leg back, for example when gathering momentum to kick the Ball, this leg passes over at least one of said emitters, reflecting the ray or rays emitter by said emitters in the downward direction. The receiver or receivers will be placed so as to be able to receive such reflected luminous signals. If any reflected luminous signals are received, depending on the number of reflected signals recovered by the receivers, the travel of the leg will be considered to be greater or smaller.
  • [0041]
    According to another embodiment of the invention, these means will be implemented with the help of a light-ray reflecting bracelet, and the user will wear one such bracelet on each ankle. A certain number of light-ray emitters will additionally be placed behind and at the side of the player. Emitters and receivers will be placed on the same side so that the rays emitted by the emitters can only reach the receivers when the rays are reflected, which may occur in the case of the player moving his/her leg, and therefore the ankle bracelet, far enough backwards.
  • [0042]
    Other embodiments are possible in order to calculate the length of travel to gather momentum or the kicking travel of the leg kicking the Ball. It may consist of the following, without this list being exhaustive: using a bracelet reflecting the light and returning the light ray emitted by a light source to a suitable receiver, both located in front of the player near the Ball. Another solution will consist of using a proximity sensor placed near the Ball in front of the player and pointing towards the leg of the player wanting to kick the Ball. It is also possible to use a flexion-extension sensor, analogue or otherwise, placed directly on the leg the player uses to kick and making it possible to assess the preparation of the leg or the kicking travel of same. Such sensors can be provided as on-off switches fixed at the height of the player's knee, proximity sensors placed on either side of the knee joint and signalling the greater or lesser proximity to the top and bottom of the leg, or torsion sensors, for example of piezoelectric type, placed along the knee joint.
  • [0043]
    All the information described above, namely the information indicating the area for detecting the application of a force exerted on the surface of the Ball, the information quantifying the intensity of the impact exerted on the surface of the Ball and the information quantifying the amplitude of the travel of the leg that kicked the ball, is gathered in a module which processes it to extract a set of commands which will be part of the signal sent to the digital processing unit to which the device according to the invention is connected, as well as a time for transmitting said set of commands. By design, this set of commands triggers one or more kicks of the ball in the football program.
  • [0044]
    Reduced to the context of the information described above, the assessment of a command variation of the device according to the invention takes place as follows.
  • [0045]
    The first step in assessing a command variation of the device according to the invention is triggered when a force is exerted on one of the detection areas of the Ball surface. The set of signals associated with said area is then selected.
  • [0046]
    In a second step, the device according to the invention assesses the length of travel of the leg that kicked the ball. The set of signals associated with the travel of the leg that kicked the ball is then selected.
  • [0047]
    The third step in assessing the command variation of the device according to the invention is the measurement of the intensity of the kick on the Ball. The set of signals associated with kick intensity is then selected.
  • [0048]
    According to a preferred embodiment, the intensity of the force exerted must be above a minimum threshold for this step to be validated and for the process to continue. Under this threshold, the force perceived is considered to be accidental and does not generate signals.
  • [0049]
    In a preferred embodiment, the signal sets associated with strong kicks contain all the kick signals of the football program, while the sets associated with weak kicks only contain the signals which correspond to weak kicks. This allows the player, in particular when controlling kick intensity, potentially to send this type of kick only.
  • [0050]
    In a preferred embodiment, the signals belonging to the various aforementioned sets trigger actions in the program that have a certain degree of realism in relation to the real action performed by the player. Thus, for example, the signals triggering strong kicks in football games will belong to the sets associated with considerable travel of the player's leg and sufficient kick intensity.
  • [0051]
    The fourth step in assessing the command variation of the device according to the invention consists of determining the signal or signals to be sent to the digital processing unit based on previously selected sets of signals.
  • [0052]
    In a preferred embodiment, this determination is carried out by intersections of previously selected sets of signals. Other determination methods are possible according to the type of football program, for example by using fuzzy logic decision trees.
  • [0053]
    If this determination results in a non-empty set of signals, the resulting signal or signals are then sent to the digital processing unit. In the preferred case in which this result is established according to intersections of the selected sets of signals, this indicates concordance between the various types of information supplied by the sensors and, in particular, between the length of travel of the leg and the intensity of the kick.
  • [0054]
    If this determination results in an empty set of signals, this is interpreted as a discordance between the information supplied by the sensors. A signal indicating a kick feint may then be sent to the football program. Football games on game consoles or personal computers do actually take kick feints into consideration, generally characterised by a mismatch between the length of travel of the leg and a low kick intensity.
  • [0055]
    According to a preferred embodiment of the device in which the sets of signals associated with high kick intensities contain all the kick signals of the game and in which the sets of signals associated with low intensities only contain a small number of signals, it is more likely that an empty set of signals will be produced when the travel of the player's leg is long and the kick is weak, which is consistent with the idea of a kick feint.
  • [0056]
    The fifth step in assessing the command variation of the device according to the invention consists of determining the time during which the previously defined signal is emitted by the device.
  • [0057]
    In a preferred embodiment for football programs in which the intensity of the kick in the program depends directly on the time for which the button triggering the kick is held pressed, the intensity of the kick on the ball as assessed in the first step will be converted into emission time for the previously defined signal. It is foreseeable in this context, according to the specific features of the program, to define conversion coefficients specific to each kick signal, between the actual kick intensity and the emission time of said kick signal.
  • [0058]
    According to one embodiment, the sensors of the device according to the invention will be used to determine the time for which a force is exerted on the Ball. According to this embodiment, a “time for pressing the foot on the Ball” will be assessed as the period, greater than a minimum duration, during which the sensors for detecting a force exerted on the Ball are activated without interruption. According to this embodiment, it is also possible to differentiate pressures according to the location of said pressures.
  • [0059]
    According to one embodiment, when the foot of the user which triggered the four-step process described above exerts considerable pressure on the Ball, the signal generated at the end of the four preceding steps will be sent continuously to the digital processing unit.
  • [0060]
    According to one embodiment, the emission time of a signal generated at the end of the five preceding steps will be equal to the highest time value established for one according to the intensity of the kick on the Ball and for the other according to the time for which the player's foot is pressing on the Ball.
  • [0061]
    According to a preferred embodiment, the signals associated with pressing a foot on the Ball will be differentiated from the signals associated with kicking the Ball. The signals associated with pressing the foot can be, for example, associated with specific actions in football games, such as defensive pressure or dribbling.
  • [0062]
    The device according to the invention will comprise control means sending signals that complement those described above.
  • [0063]
    Advantageously, the device according to the invention can comprise at least one control button located on the Ball or near it, which can interact with the imaging and sound system.
  • [0064]
    According to one embodiment of the invention, the device according to the invention is completed by a Handle comprising control buttons triggering complementary signals to the previously described device.
  • [0065]
    Advantageously, the buttons of this Handle will include at least one directional button allowing the player to control the movements of the virtual footballer.
  • [0066]
    Advantageously, the buttons of this Handle will include at least one directional button allowing the player to control the directions of the kicks of the ball.
  • [0067]
    According to one embodiment of the invention completed by a Handle, the Handle will include a button which, when pressed, modifies the signals associated with pressing the foot on the Ball, for example changing these signals from “defensive pressure” to “dribbling”.
  • [0068]
    According to one embodiment of the invention completed by a Handle, this Handle is connected to the rest of the device according to the invention by a wireless link.
  • [0069]
    According to one embodiment of the invention, the device according to the invention is equipped with a connector for connecting a conventional gamepad to the body of the device according to the invention, with signals that can be transmitted, by means of the device according to the invention, to the game console or the personal computer. In such an embodiment, it may be advantageous in the context of the game, to offer the player the option of using all the signals from the gamepad or using only the signals that the device according to the invention does not generate.
  • [0070]
    According to one embodiment of the invention, the Ball rests on a mat on which the user can stand.
  • [0071]
    According to one embodiment with a mat, the mat is made up of surfaces arranged symmetrically on either side of a vertical plane passing through the centre of the Ball.
  • [0072]
    According to one embodiment of the invention, this mat comprises a certain number of pressure-sensitive surfaces, triggering signals which can be interpreted by the football program. These surfaces can be placed so as to be within easy reach of the player's non-kicking foot.
  • [0073]
    According to one embodiment of the invention, with pressure-sensitive surfaces arranged on the mat, these surfaces can be symmetrically doubled on the left and on the right, so that left-handed and right-handed players can enjoy similar access to these surfaces.
  • [0074]
    The set of commands of the device according to the invention, as defined at the end of the five steps described above, is completed by the set of commands of the pressure-sensitive surfaces located on the mat and the set of commands of the Handle of the device according to the invention or of the conventional gamepad that can be connected to the device, before being sent to the game console or the personal computer.
  • [0075]
    The device according to the invention can be connected to a digital processing unit which can be external or built into the device.
  • [0076]
    According to one embodiment, this connection is performed by means of a cable equipped with the suitable connector.
  • [0077]
    According to another embodiment, this connection is performed by means of a wireless link. In this case, a receiver can be connected to or built into the digital processing unit and an emitter in the device will transmit all the generated signals to the receiver. According to one embodiment comprising an emitter and a receiver, the signals sent from the digital processing unit to the peripherals will be transmitted over a wireless link to the device and, depending on the case, reproduced in the form of vibration in the Handle of the device or the conventional gamepad connected to the device.
  • [0078]
    According to one embodiment of the invention, the information assessed by the various aforementioned sensors will be transmitted to the user, for example by means of audio and/or visual signals.
  • [0079]
    According to one embodiment of the invention, the signals sent by the device according to the invention will be displayed to the player by means of a display device placed above the device. The device can then understand the operation of the device better and adjust his/her behaviour accordingly.
  • [0080]
    The device according to the invention presents an innovation in the field of interactive games and sport insofar as there is no current sport accessory or game peripheral that allows, with realism including real kicks of a ball, the production of the sufficiently complex signals required for interactive football sessions with the most popular games operating on game consoles or personal computers.
  • [0081]
    The device according to the invention is designed specifically to be able to sense and interact with movements that are specific to the game of football, including kicking a ball resembling a football, while supplying all the signals required for the correct operation of popular football programs on game consoles and personal computers,
  • [0082]
    The device according to the invention allows players, due to the greater motivation provided by the interaction and the similarity between kicking the ball and the real experience of playing football, to advance more easily from the learning stages of the football program, while receiving instant gratification from the pleasure of the interactive approach and the challenges of the game.
  • [0083]
    On the other hand, the device according to the invention is also presented as an invention that complements other interactive products (capturing images, capturing bodily movements, etc.). It can therefore be integrated in unprecedented virtual reality games, experiences or leisure activities.
  • [0084]
    The device according to the invention can be used at the same time by players playing football video games on their own or in multiplayer mode, but can also be a peripheral used by participants in sports centre classes or in amusement arcades.
  • [0085]
    The invention will be understood better from the following description, provided merely for the purpose of explanation, of one embodiment of the invention, in reference to the appended drawings:
  • [0086]
    FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of the Ball and the location of the detection areas on same;
  • [0087]
    FIG. 2 shows a top view of the process for applying a force to a detection area;
  • [0088]
    FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of the device according to the invention and a player getting ready to kick the Ball;
  • [0089]
    FIG. 4 shows a top view of the Ball, the mat and a Handle completing the signals of the device according to the invention;
  • [0090]
    FIG. 5 shows a section view of the Ball and the base that attaches it to the floor;
  • [0091]
    FIG. 6 shows the series of events and the treatment of information at the source of the emission by the device of a signal or a combination of signals to the digital processing unit;
  • [0092]
    FIG. 7 shows a method of assessing the signal based on information of a part of the device;
  • [0093]
    FIG. 8 shows the overall processing of the signals produced by the device according to the invention.
  • [0094]
    The preferred embodiment described below relates mainly to the most popular football programs, allowing four specific signals to trigger four main categories of kicks. However, the principle described can also extend to a different number of main signals.
  • [0095]
    According to an embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the surface of the Ball is divided into four areas 2, 3, 4 and 5 for detecting the application of a force exerted on the surface of said Ball. These areas are in the shape of vertical “quarters”, the term “quarter” merely indicating a general shape and not implying that these areas divide the surface of the Ball into four equal parts.
  • [0096]
    One embodiment of these areas consists of using two impact or acceleration sensors such as previously described, arranged approximately at the centre of the Ball and such that the sensitivity axes of these sensors are perpendicular to one another and on a horizontal plane 6. The axis of one of these sensors is indicated in the figure by +Y and the other by +X. The +Y axis runs from the player towards the Ball. The +X axis runs from the left to the right of the player. The +Z axis represents the vertical axis running from top to bottom.
  • [0097]
    Preference will be given to an embodiment which makes it possible to create detection areas that can differentiate the most common types of football kicks, namely kicks on the lateral parts of the Ball, naturally performed with the inside of the foot (inner edge of the foot), which are precise kicks with relatively low power; and kicks on the central part of the Ball, which are naturally performed using the hallux (1st metatarsus) or the instep, and which correspond to more powerful kicks but which are relatively less precise. The embodiment, in the attribution it gives to kicks performed in the game, will ensure consistency between the types of kicks made on the Ball as indicated and the types of kicks made by the virtual footballer.
  • [0098]
    FIG. 2 shows a top view of the Ball 1 as well as the detection areas 2, 3, 4 and 5 delimited in the Figure by dotted lines. FIG. 2 shows the creation of the vector 7 representing a force exerted on the Ball 1, in the orthonormal frame of reference of the horizontal plane formed by the two axis +X and +Y of the two sensors. This vector 7 is constructed with the components of said force such as defined on the +X axis by the abscissa 8 representing the value of the sensor with sensitivity axis +X, and on the +Y axis by the ordinate 9 representing the value of the sensor with sensitivity axis +Y. This vector 7 is related by translation with the vector 10, located on the circumference 1 of the Ball, which can be considered to be the image of the force exerted on the Ball. It makes it possible to estimate the area of the Ball on which the force was exerted. Thus, in the case of FIG. 2, the force was exerted in area 2.
  • [0099]
    In one embodiment, the detection areas are physically marked on the surface of the ball by coloured areas.
  • [0100]
    According to one embodiment shown in FIG. 3, a Ball 1 is placed in front of the player. The shape, dimensions and physical properties (in particular the elasticity and resistance) of the Ball of the device according to the invention will be chosen so as to give the player kicking the ball the impression of kicking a real football, so as to allow users of the device according to the invention to have physical sensations of kicking a Ball similar to those experienced when kicking a football.
  • [0101]
    As shown in FIG. 3, the Ball 1 is solidly attached to a mat 11 on which the player stands. This mat comprises pressure-sensitive surfaces located at 12 and 13, on which the player can rest his/her non-kicking foot or his/her other foot when not kicking the Ball, thus generating game signals.
  • [0102]
    Behind the player, a device made up of a light-ray emitter 14 and a receiver 15 for said light ray detects the interruption of the light ray when the player's foot passes through it, whether because the player moves his/her foot back beyond the light ray to gather momentum to strongly kick the Ball or when the player moves his/her foot forward to kick the Ball after having moved it backwards beyond the light ray. As can be seen in FIG. 1, the emitter 14 and the receiver 15 are equipped with feet so that they are sufficiently raised from the floor and their ray is in the path of the player's leg.
  • [0103]
    As shown in FIG. 4, a preferred embodiment of the device according to the invention includes a mat which is symmetrical according to the vertical plane passing through the centre of the Ball 1. One way in which such a mat is useful is that the weight of the player's non-kicking foot on the mat contributes to maintaining the Ball on the floor when the player kicks it with his/her other leg, since the Ball is attached to the mat.
  • [0104]
    Advantageously, the mat 11 will be made from a material that is rigid enough to guarantee that the Ball 1 and the assembly remain fixed in place in relation to the player when the latter kicks the Ball.
  • [0105]
    As shown in FIG. 4, the mat 11 can comprise areas equipped with one or more pressure-sensitive areas located at 12 and 13, the signals from which allow the player to complete the kicking signals. Thus, for example, by combining a kick and standing on one of the pressure-sensitive surfaces, the player can indicate that his/her shot is a lob and not a flat trajectory shot.
  • [0106]
    The mat 11 shown in FIG. 4 is designed so that the player can use his/her non-kicking foot or his/her kicking foot to press on the pressure-sensitive surfaces located at 12 and 13. In the preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 4, the arrangement of these surfaces allows a player to press on them when standing ready to kick or waiting to kick. It also allows the player to use one foot or both feet to press simultaneously on several pressure-sensitive surfaces arranged on the mat, and thus to combine the signals.
  • [0107]
    FIG. 4 shows, at the rear of the mat 11, a light-ray emitter 14 and its corresponding receiver 15. This emitter and this receiver are positioned so that the leg of a player gaining momentum or making a strong kick crosses and cuts off this light ray. Gaining momentum or making a strong kick reveals the player's intention to make a kick with greater intensity than a kick made with a small travel, and will be used as an indicator of a strong kick category.
  • [0108]
    According to a preferred embodiment of the device according to the invention, a distinction will be made between two types of momentum travels or kicks of the leg: a short travel, characterised in FIG. 4 in that it does not cut the light ray connecting the light emitter 14 and the light receiver 15, and a long travel which is characterised in that it cuts off the light ray connecting the light emitter 14 and the light receiver 15. Distinct sets of kicks will be associated with each of these travels in the football game. It should be noted that the player may adapt the travel of his/her leg according to his/her physical condition and the urgency of the kick to be made, either by considerably moving his/her leg backwards or by moving it backwards the minimum amount required to cut off the light ray.
  • [0109]
    As shown in FIG. 4, a Handle 16 is connected to the front of the device according to the invention by a cable 17. This Handle 16 is equipped with various buttons emitting signals that are compatible with the football programs and which complement or are identical to those supplied by the rest of the device.
  • [0110]
    In a preferred embodiment, this Handle 16 comprises at least the buttons required to direct the trajectories of the shots and the directions in which the virtual footballers run. In fact, these are two essential elements requiring great precision in football games on game consoles or personal computers, directly affecting the performance level of a player in the game. In order to take into account the fact that players of football games have developed very high dexterity with their fingers to control these two elements, the Handle of the device according to the invention allows them to be easily controlled by means of buttons similar to those of a conventional gamepad.
  • [0111]
    The device according to the invention can be connected to a digital processing unit.
  • [0112]
    According to one embodiment shown in FIG. 4, this connection is provided by a cable 18 equipped with the suitable connector.
  • [0113]
    According to one embodiment shown in FIG. 5, the Ball 1 consists of a ball made from a dense, flexible material 19 contained within a relatively flexible surface which can be continuous or in the form of a net 20. This surface 20 covering the Ball extends over and is solidly attached to a base 21 guaranteeing the stability of the Ball on the floor and the mat 11. The link between the Ball and the base is made relatively flexible with the help of the surface 20.
  • [0114]
    According to the embodiment of the device according to the invention shown in FIG. 5, inside the Ball is located a module 22 containing one or more impact or acceleration sensors capable of transforming the mechanical energy resulting from kicking the Ball 1 into a variation of an electrical magnitude, for example a voltage, thus making it possible to quantify the intensity of the kick.
  • [0115]
    The signals created when kicking certain areas of the Ball are transformed so that they can be interpreted by the type of digital processing unit to which the device according to the invention is connected and to which the device according to the invention transmits the signals. Several embodiments described below will aim in particular to describe how to generate game signals that are compatible with popular football games on game consoles or personal computers and identical to those generated using a conventional gamepad.
  • [0116]
    FIG. 6 shows, in the context of the described embodiment, how a signal is triggered as well as the type of signal sent to the digital processing unit by the device made up of the Ball 1, the detection areas 2, 3, 4 and 5 on its surface, the impact or vibration sensor or sensors 22 which it contains inside it and the leg trajectory length sensor shown by the light-ray emitter 14 and its associated receiver 15, according to the actions of the player. Reduced to this context, the assessment of a command variation of the device according to the invention is carried out as follows.
  • [0117]
    As shown in FIG. 6, the first step 23 in assessing the command variation of the device according to the invention takes place when a kick is detected on the Ball. A set of signals that can be interpreted by the football program is associated with each of the detection areas. A set of signals that can be interpreted by the program associated with the detection area is then selected.
  • [0118]
    In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 with detection areas dividing the Ball 1, if the kick is applied to area 3 located at the centre of the Ball in front of the player, a set of signals A is selected. If the kick is applied to other detection areas, a set of signals B is selected.
  • [0119]
    This division is useful in that the distinction it establishes between kicks is relevant and realistic in relation to the corpus of football kicks as seen previously.
  • [0120]
    In a preferred embodiment, sets A and B each contain two distinct signals, making up a total of four different signals, each of these signals triggering in the football program one of the four main categories of kicks that can be found generally in football programs.
  • [0121]
    As shown in FIG. 6, in a second step 24, the device according to the invention then assesses the length of travel of the leg kicking the Ball 1. A set of possible signals is associated with each possible category of travel length. The set of signals associated with the leg travel category is selected.
  • [0122]
    According to a preferred embodiment of the device according to the invention, the device according to the invention will judge the leg travel to be long if the light signal connecting the emitter 14 and the receiver 15 is cut off shortly before the pressure-sensitive surface located on the ball is pressed. In turn, the travel will be judged to be short if this light signal is not cut off for a certain time period.
  • [0123]
    According to the preferred embodiment of the device according to the invention in which the leg travel is either short or long, a set of signals C is associated with a short travel and a set of signals D is associated with a long travel. Sets C and D each contain different signals, making up a total of four different signals. The combination of sets C and D is therefore, in this embodiment, identical to the combination of sets A and B.
  • [0124]
    As shown in FIG. 6, the third step 25 in assessing the command variation of the device according to the invention assesses the intensity of the impact or vibrations resulting from kicking the Ball. A set of signals is associated with each of the possible intensity categories. The set of signals associated with the kick intensity is then selected.
  • [0125]
    In the preferred embodiment described, a distinction is made between kick intensities below a threshold, which will have associated a reduced set of signals triggering relatively short kicks in the football program, and kick intensities above said threshold, which will have associated the signals of the four aforementioned main kicks.
  • [0126]
    As shown in FIG. 6, during the fourth step 26 of assessing the command variation of the device according to the invention, the device will determine the signal or signals to be sent according to the previously selected sets of signals.
  • [0127]
    In the preferred embodiment described, the process will continue at the intersections of the previously selected sets of signals.
  • [0128]
    In addition, the sets of signals A, B, C and D will be formed so that their intersections according to the described process can only contain a single element.
  • [0129]
    FIG. 7 shows a preferred method for implementing the above. If w, x, y and z designate the signals of the four main kicks in the football program, A will contain signals w and x, B signals y and z, C signals w and z and D signals x and y. Thus, the intersection of the set of signals C with the set of signals A (or B) selected during the first assessment step, the same as the intersection of the set of signals D with the set of signals A (or B) selected during the first assessment step, can only contain a single signal, selected from among the signals of the four main kicks. The intersection of this single signal with the set associated with the intensity of the kick will make it possible to assess the consistency between kick intensity and leg travel and thus to determine the existence of a kick feint.
  • [0130]
    If the intersection of three sets of signals is not empty, it can only contain a single signal, in accordance with the preceding paragraph, which characterises the kick performed by the player.
  • [0131]
    If the intersection is empty, the signal sent will be that of a kick feint. This case can only arise, considering the types of sets of signals described above, when the kick is low intensity and the signals associated with low kicking intensity and those associated with the leg travel do not match, which will preferably be the case when the leg travel is considered to be long. It should be noted that kick feints are included in the signals of football programs and that, in real-life football, kick feints are generally characterised by a conflict between the travel of the kicking leg and a low intensity of the kick. The adoption of the preferred embodiment therefore allows the player to generate realistic kick feints.
  • [0132]
    As shown in FIG. 6, during the fifth step 27, in the preferred embodiment described, for football programs in which kick intensity depends directly on the length of time for which the button triggering the kick is kept pressed, the intensity of the kick on the Ball as assessed in the third step will be translated into emission time for the signal characterising the kick.
  • [0133]
    According to one embodiment, the set of commands of the device according to the invention as defined at the end of the five steps described above is completed by pressing on the pressure-sensitive surfaces in 12 and 13 of the mat 11.
  • [0134]
    According to one embodiment, the set of commands of the device according to the invention such as defined at the end of the four steps described above is completed by the set of control buttons of the Handle 16 of the device according to the invention or of the gamepad that can be connected to the device.
  • [0135]
    FIG. 8 shows a preferred embodiment of the invention in which the signals 28 from the five-step process described above are combined with the signals 29 generated by the Handle or the conventional gamepad connected to the device and the signals 30 generated by pressing on the sensitive surfaces of the mat 11, before being sent to the digital processing unit 31 to which the device according to the invention is connected. A preferred method of combining the signals will be the “Inclusive OR” of binary logic, namely sending a signal to the digital processing unit 31 if it is generated at least once by the elements 28, 29 or 30, and not sending it otherwise.
  • [0136]
    According to one embodiment, the device will include control buttons located on the mat, on the Ball or on the Handle. The signals generated by these buttons will also be transmitted to the digital processing unit. These buttons may be placed on one or more specific supports and be completed with diodes or various other elements designed to enhance the pleasure and richness of the user's experience.
  • [0137]
    According to one embodiment, the signals emitted by the device according to the invention will be accompanied by a specific signal for identifying whether the device emitting the signals is of the same category as the device according to the invention. Such an identifying signal makes it possible, for example, in the case of a competition or a network game involving several players located in remote locations, to make sure that all the competitors are equipped with a peripheral of the same category as the device according to the invention.
  • [0138]
    According to an embodiment with a vibration or impact sensor, the information emitted by this sensor is transmitted directly to the user by means of light or sound signals which can vary according to the intensity of the impact and are emitted directly by the device according to the invention.
  • [0139]
    According to one embodiment, the sensor or sensors used to assess the amplitude of the leg travel before the kick can be moved, so as to adapt it to the player's height or desired amplitude.
  • [0140]
    According to one embodiment, the device according to the invention can be equipped with a box allowing the user to adjust certain parameters of the device, such as the location of the areas for detecting the forces exerted on the Ball or the length of the time for emitting signals with a given kick intensity.
  • [0141]
    According to one embodiment, the set of different signals transmitted by the device according to the invention to the digital processing unit is less than or equal to the number of different signals transmitted by a conventional gamepad to a game console and can be interpreted by the latter. This embodiment is useful in that the device according to the invention can be more easily connected to a game console.
  • [0142]
    According to one possibility offered by the invention, the various areas of the mat are connected to one another so that they can be folded to form a storage case with said areas as surfaces, with the Ball in the centre and containing the whole device.
  • [0143]
    The invention is described above as an example. It is understood that those skilled in the trade will be capable of implementing different variations of the invention without thereby departing from the context of the patent.
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Clasificaciones
Clasificación de EE.UU.434/251
Clasificación internacionalA63B69/00
Clasificación cooperativaA63F13/245, A63F2300/8011, A63F13/42, A63F2300/1062, A63B69/002, A63F2300/1056, A63F13/10, A63F13/812, A63F13/06, A63F13/218, A63F13/211
Clasificación europeaA63F13/10, A63F13/06
Eventos legales
FechaCódigoEventoDescripción
21 Jul 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: XKPAD, FRANCE
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:CLAUDEL, FREDERIC;NICOLAS, FREDERIC;REEL/FRAME:021262/0866
Effective date: 20080606
9 Ene 2009ASAssignment
Owner name: WILL INTERNATIONAL LTD., UNITED KINGDOM
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:XKPAD SA;REEL/FRAME:022081/0555
Effective date: 20081027