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First Claim
1. Apparatus comprising in combination:
 (a) a net;
(b) at least one sensor; and
(c) at least one processor;
wherein;
(i) the net includes one or more components, each of which components comprises a material that has an electrical resistance that varies depending on the extent to which the material is stretched, (ii) the at least one sensor is configured to take measurements of changes in electrical resistance of each of the one or more components, respectively, (iii) the at least one processor is configured (A) to perform a computation to calculate, based at least in part on the measurements, a calculated value indicative of the translational kinetic energy of a ball that strikes or passes through the net, and (B) to output signals to cause an output device to render the calculated value in a humanreadable form; and
(iv) the calculated value is in a range, which range is the range of values that may be outputted by the computation, and which range includes more than two values.
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Abstract
In exemplary implementations of this invention, a basketball net or flat net measures the translational kinetic energy of a ball that passes through an aperture in the net or impacts the net. The net includes one or more electrically conductive cords, which have a resistance that varies depending on the degree to which the cord is stretched. From sensor measurements, a processor determines: (a) instantaneous rate of change of resistance, and (b) duration of a time period that begins when resistance exceeds a baseline (with hysteresis). In the case of a basketball net, a processor may calculate the translational kinetic energy of the ball as equal to a sum of two terms. The first term is inversely proportional to the square of the duration; the second is proportional to the square of the integral of the instantaneous rate of change of resistance over the time period.
11 Citations
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Patent #
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Current Assignee
Shottracker Inc.

Sponsoring Entity
Shottracker Inc.

BASKETBALL SHOTTRACKING SYSTEM  
Patent #
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Current Assignee
Shottracker Inc.

Sponsoring Entity
Shottracker Inc.

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Patent #
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Filed 05/27/2015

Current Assignee
Shottracker Inc.

Sponsoring Entity
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Patent #
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Filed 05/27/2015

Current Assignee
Shottracker Inc.

Sponsoring Entity
Shottracker Inc.

BASKETBALL NET WHICH DETECTS SHOTS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE SUCCESSFULLY  
Patent #
US 20160096067A1
Filed 10/06/2015

Current Assignee
Shottracker Inc.

Sponsoring Entity
Shottracker Inc.

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Patent #
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Current Assignee
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Sponsoring Entity
Wilson Sporting Goods Company

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Patent #
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Current Assignee
Wilson Sporting Goods Company

Sponsoring Entity
Wilson Sporting Goods Company

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Patent #
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Current Assignee
Wilson Sporting Goods Company

Sponsoring Entity
Wilson Sporting Goods Company

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Patent #
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Current Assignee
Shottracker Inc.

Sponsoring Entity
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Current Assignee
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Patent #
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Current Assignee
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Sponsoring Entity
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20 Claims
 1. Apparatus comprising in combination:
 (a) a net;
(b) at least one sensor; and
(c) at least one processor;
wherein;
(i) the net includes one or more components, each of which components comprises a material that has an electrical resistance that varies depending on the extent to which the material is stretched, (ii) the at least one sensor is configured to take measurements of changes in electrical resistance of each of the one or more components, respectively, (iii) the at least one processor is configured (A) to perform a computation to calculate, based at least in part on the measurements, a calculated value indicative of the translational kinetic energy of a ball that strikes or passes through the net, and (B) to output signals to cause an output device to render the calculated value in a humanreadable form; and
(iv) the calculated value is in a range, which range is the range of values that may be outputted by the computation, and which range includes more than two values.  View Dependent Claims (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17)
 (a) a net;
 18. A method comprising in combination:
 (a) using at least one sensor to take measurements of changes in electrical resistance of each of the one or more components, which components are part of a net and each comprise a material that has an electrical resistance that varies depending on the extent to which the material is stretched; and
(b) using at least one processor (i) to perform a computation to calculate, based at least in part on the measurements, a calculated value indicative of the translational kinetic energy of a ball that strikes or passes through the net, and (ii) to output signals to cause an output device to render the calculated value in a humanreadable form;
wherein the calculated value is in a range, which range is the range of values that may be outputted by the computation, and which range includes more than two values.  View Dependent Claims (19, 20)
 (a) using at least one sensor to take measurements of changes in electrical resistance of each of the one or more components, which components are part of a net and each comprise a material that has an electrical resistance that varies depending on the extent to which the material is stretched; and
1 Specification
This application is a nonprovisional of, and claims the benefit of the filing date of, U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/583,120, filed Jan. 4, 2012, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/603,013, filed Feb. 24, 2012, the entire disclosures of which are herein incorporated by reference.
The present invention relates generally to nets.
In exemplary implementations of this invention, a net is configured to measure the translational kinetic energy of a ball that passes through an aperture in the net or that impacts the net. For example, the net may be a basketball net or a flat net.
The net includes one or more electrically conductive cords. These cords may, or may not, be aligned with conventional cords in the net. Each of these electrically conductive cords has an electrical resistance that varies depending on the degree to which the cords are stretched.
At least one sensor measures change in resistance of the components as a ball impacts (or passes through an aperture in) the net. From these measurements, at least two parameters can be determined: (a) instantaneous rate of change of resistance, and (b) duration of a time period that begins when resistance exceeds a baseline plus a threshold and ends when resistance is less than a baseline minus a threshold.
At least one processor performs an algorithm that calculates an approximation of the translational kinetic energy of the ball. The approximation is equal to a sum of two terms. The first term is inversely proportional to the square of the duration; the second term is proportional to the square of the integral of the instantaneous rate of change of resistance over the time period. In the case of a sampled digital system with a sufficiently fast sampling rate, the integral may be approximated by a sum of the samples during the duration of the period.
The velocity of a ball that impacts or passes through a basketball net has both a vertical and horizontal component, each of which have a very different effect on the stretch (and thus resistance) of the conductive cords. This invention can determine both the horizontal and vertical components, based on sensor measurements from a single conductive cord. In the algorithm described above, the first term in the sum predominates in the case of the vertical component of the velocity; the second term in the sum predominates in the case of the horizontal component.
If the net is a flat net, the net may have N electrically conductive cords oriented in a horizontal direction and M electrically conductive cords oriented in a vertical direction. Further, the flat net may have N+M conventional cords aligned with the conductive cords. When a ball impacts the flat net, the peak stretch occurs at an x, y position approximately equal to the intersection of two cords: the conductive cord with the greatest stretch (and thus greatest resistance) in the horizontal direction and the conductive cord with the greatest stretch (and thus greatest resistance) in the vertical direction. In order to calculate the translational kinetic energy of a ball that impacts the flat net, the processor identifies these two cords, and then performs the above algorithm, using resistance measurements from one of these two cords.
However, in the flat net case, the first of the two terms in the sum of terms may be set to zero. That is, in the flat net case, translational kinetic energy may be wellapproximated by using only the second term described above (which is proportional to the square of the integral of the instantaneous rate of change of resistance over the time period).
The processor may also derive, in conjunction with calculating the kinetic energy: (i) the ball's speed; and (ii) a force that the ball applies to the net, or that was applied to the ball.
The calculated kinetic energy or speed of the ball (or the force) may be rendered by an output device in humanreadable form.
This invention has many practical uses. For example, in the case of a basketball net, this invention may be used to measure the kinetic energy and speed of a basketball that is being dunked. Or, for example, in the case of a flat net, this invention may be used to measure the kinetic energy and speed of a baseball or soccer ball that is kicked, hit, or thrown into the net.
The description of the present invention in the Summary and Abstract sections hereof is just a summary. It is intended only to give a general introduction to some illustrative implementations of this invention. It does not describe all of the details of this invention. This invention may be implemented in many other ways.
The above Figures illustrate some illustrative implementations of this invention, or provide information that relates to those implementations. However, this invention may be implemented in many other ways. The above Figures do not show all of the details of this invention.
In exemplary implementations of this invention, a basketball net includes one or more segments of conductive cord whose resistance changes with degree of stretch. For example, the resistance may increase as the stretch increases. Examples of such material include carbonimpregnated silicone cord and metalized textile threads and yarns.
In some cases, the conductive cords are roughly aligned with at least some of the conventional cords in the net. For example, the conductive cords may be inserted into a hollow conventional cord making up the net, or may be woven into the conventional cord itself.
By passing a low voltage and current through the conductive material and measuring the resistance over time (e.g., taking samples using analogtodigital conversion circuitry), computing hardware associated with this net can calculate energy and speed of a basketball traveling through the net. Applications include training, toys that indicate the energy and speed on a display, “dunk competitions,” and augmented reality effects on television broadcasts driven by the data from the net.
In exemplary implementations, the net is less expensive and more robust than conventional approaches to measuring data about the ball (e.g., photosensors or ultrasonic sensors) and doesn't require a physical change to the hoop or backboard other than providing electrical connections to the net. If the basketball hoop is made of metal and thus conductive, it is preferable to arrange for the conductive segments and their electrical connections to be insulated from the hoop where the hoop contacts the net.
The conductive material can extend throughout the entire net or can be incorporated into one or more smaller sections.
In the example shown in
In the example shown in
This invention may be implemented as a flat net that can measure translational kinetic energy and velocity of a ball hit or pitched into it (as in baseball or tennis). In some implementations, the flat net is divided electrically into multiple zones and can also measure position of the ball's impact (e.g., for determining whether a practice baseball pitch would have been a strike) through comparison of the resistances of the various segments over time. These different resistive segments may be measured simultaneously or may be scanned rapidly in a timemultiplexed arrangement.
Other arrangements besides those shown in
In exemplary implementations of this invention, a basketball net incorporates one or more segments of conductive fiber or cord whose resistance changes with degree of stretch. This resistance is measured. The resistance measurement is used for computing energy of a basketball that passes through a basketball net (e.g., by dunking).
The passage of a ball is detected by setting a threshold (with hysteresis) depending on the baseline resistance of the net. Thus, two parameters are available: instantaneous increase in resistance and time duration of the increase (effectively the duration of the ball's contact with the net). Depending on the trajectory of the ball its velocity can have a vertical and a horizontal component, and each of these has a very different effect on the stretch (and thus resistance) over time, leading to a dunk of equal energy producing very different readings when it hits the net at different angles.
One possible solution is to segment the net and compare the stretch applied to different segments, but in some situations it is impractical to have more than one set of electrical connections to the net.
Thus, in preferred embodiments of this invention, separate resistance readings for different segments of the net are not taken. Instead, a single resistance reading (at any given time) is taken, from which the problem is solved.
In exemplary implementations of this invention, a basketball net is sufficiently tightly constructed that a ball going through vertically will experience some friction with the net and produce a measurable stretch. Such a vertical velocity will result in the ball being in contact (and the resistance reading changing) for a time interval that decreases with the ball's velocity. The energy associated with this velocity is proportional to the square of the velocity (and thus to the reciprocal of the square of the duration).
A ball traveling through the net but hitting the net mostly horizontally, on the other hand, has an energy proportional to the square of the integral of the change in resistance over the time duration.
Thus in the general case the translational kinetic energy is wellapproximated as the sum of two terms:
where R is resistance, t is time, and k_{1 }and k_{2 }are constants that are determined by calibrating experiments.
The first term dominates for a ball moving quickly through the net vertically, and the second term dominates for a ball that hits the side of the net and remains inside the net for a longer period. In the case of a sampled digital system the integral is approximated by a sum of samples during the duration (assuming a high enough sampling rate to estimate the duration with reasonable precision).
In exemplary implementations, the energy of a ball passing through a forcesensing net (e.g., by dunking) may be calculated using Equation 1. The algorithm shown in
One or more processors may be used for these calculations. (For example, rectangles 123, 223, 323 in
This invention may be implemented as a flat, twodimensional net, where N sensor circuits in one dimension are insulated from M sensor circuits in the other dimension, and where N+M resistance readings can be taken by scanning along each dimension. The (x, y) coordinates of the point of contact by the ball can be estimated as the locations of the peak resistance values (once an abovethreshold value is detected) along each dimension. Interpolation (such as bicubic) can be applied if a finer location estimate is desired.
In some implementations, sensors take the N+M resistance readings for the flat net simultaneously. Alternately, the N+M resistance readings may be taken sequentially.
In the flat net case, the same energyestimating algorithm (Equation 1 and
Even in the roundnet case (e.g., a basketball net), it may suffice in some circumstances to calculate only one of the two terms in Equation 1: i.e., to set one of the two proportionality constants (k_{1 }and k_{2}) in Equation 1 to zero. Whether such an approach would suffice may depend on the expected trajectory of the ball and the orientation of the net. For example, if a basketball is expected to pass vertically through a net (on a straightdown dunk), using only the first term on the right (k_{1}/duration^{2}) in Equation 1 may achieve a close approximation. Likewise, if the basketball is expected to strike the basketball net almost horizontally, then using only the second term on the right (k_{2}[∫ΔRdt]^{2}) in Equation 1 may suffice.
Because the sensor material may not respond uniformly throughout a twodimensional net (e.g., the ball may create less stretch near the supported edges of the net than in the center) the detection thresholds or the constants in the energycalculation algorithm may be varied as a function of position, based on calibrated measurements.
In some alternative implementations, the resistance of the electrically conductive material decreases as stretch increases (rather than increasing as stretch increases). In those alternative implementations, the above algorithm and flow charts are modified accordingly. For example, in those implementations, the time period measured may begin when resistance is less than a baseline minus a first amount and end when resistance exceeds the baseline plus a second amount
Here are a few definitions and clarifications. As used herein:
The terms “a” and “an”, when modifying a noun, do not imply that only one of the noun exists.
The term “comprise” (and grammatical variations thereof) shall be construed broadly, as if followed by “without limitation”. If A comprises B, then A includes B and may include other things.
The term “cord” shall be construed broadly. For example, one or more fibers may comprise a cord.
The term “e.g.,” means including without limitation.
The fact that an “example” or multiple examples of something are given does not imply that they are the only instances of that thing. An example (or a group of examples) is merely a nonexhaustive and nonlimiting illustration.
Unless the context clearly indicates otherwise: (1) a phrase that includes “a first” thing and “a second” thing does not imply an order of the two things (or that there are only two of the things); and (2) such a phrase is simply a way of identifying the two things, respectively, so that they each can be referred to later with specificity (e.g., by referring to “the first” thing and “the second” thing later). For example, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, if an equation has a first term and a second term, then the equation may (or may not) have more than two terms, and the first term may occur before or after the second term in the equation. A phrase that includes “a third” thing, a “fourth” thing and so on shall be construed in like manner.
The terms “horizontal” and “vertical” shall be construed broadly. For example, “horizontal” and “vertical” may refer to two arbitrarily chosen coordinate axes in a Euclidian two dimensional space.
The term “include” (and grammatical variations thereof) shall be construed broadly, as if followed by “without limitation”.
The term “or” is inclusive, not exclusive. For example “A or B” is true if A is true, or B is true, or both A or B are true. Also, for example, a calculation of “A or B” means a calculation of A, or a calculation of B, or a calculation of A and B.
A parenthesis is simply to make text easier to read, by indicating a grouping of words. A parenthesis does not mean that the parenthetical material is optional or can be ignored.
The phrase “to render in human readable form” (and other phrases of similar import) shall be construed broadly. For example, it includes outputting audio or visual stimuli that are perceivable by unaided human perception.
Variations:
This invention may be implemented in many different ways. Here are some nonlimiting examples.
This invention may be implemented as apparatus comprising in combination: (a) a net; (b) at least one sensor; and (c) at least one processor; wherein: (i) the net includes one or more components, each of which components comprises a material that has an electrical resistance that varies depending on the extent to which the material is stretched, (ii) the at least one sensor is configured to take measurements of changes in electrical resistance of each of the one or more components, respectively, (iii) the at least one processor is configured (A) to perform a computation to calculate, based at least in part on the measurements, a calculated value indicative of the translational kinetic energy of a ball that strikes or passes through the net, and (B) to output signals to cause an output device to render the calculated value in a humanreadable form; and (iv) the calculated value is in a range, which range is the range of values that may be outputted by the computation, and which range includes more than two values. Furthermore: (1) the net may comprise a basketball net; (2) the net may comprise a flat net; (3) the computation may include a calculation of an instantaneous rate of change in resistance; (4) the computation may include a calculation of duration of a time period, which period starts when resistance exceeds a baseline plus a first amount and ends when resistance is less than the baseline minus a second amount; (5) the first and second amounts may be different; (6) the computation may include one or more calculations of (a) an instantaneous rate of change in resistance, or (b) a duration of a time period, which period starts when resistance exceeds a baseline plus a first amount and ends when resistance is less than the baseline minus a second amount; (7) the computation may include a mathematical operation involving a first term that is inversely proportional to the square of the duration, or that is proportional to the square of speed of the ball; (8) the computation may include a mathematical operation involving a second term that is proportional to the square of the integral of the change in resistance over the time period; (9) the computation may include approximating the integral by performing a calculation that includes computing a sum of samples taken during the time period; (10) the first term may be proportional to a first constant and the second term may be proportional to a second constant; (11) a computation for a single impact of the ball on the net may be based on measurements readings from a single component; (12) (i) the net may be a flat net, (ii) the one or more components may include N elongated components oriented in along a first direction and M elongated components oriented along a second direction, (iii) the at least one sensor may be configured to measure resistance in each of the N+M components respectively, (iv) the at least one processor may be configured to identify a particular component that exhibits maximum resistance out of the M components, or out of the N components, or out of the N+M components, during the time period, and (v) measurements of resistance for the particular component taken during time period may be either the sole measurements of resistance taken during the time period that are inputted into the computation, or may be weighted more heavily in the computation than measurements of resistance of other components taken during the time period; (13) the at least one sensor may be configured to measure resistance in each of the N+M components simultaneously; (14) the at least one sensor may be configured to measure resistance in each of the N+M components sequentially; (15) the computation may further include a calculation of a calculated speed of the ball, and the processor may be further configured to output signals to cause the output device to render the calculated speed in a humanreadable form; and (16) the electrical resistance of the material may decrease as stretch of the material increases, and the computation may include one or more calculations of an instantaneous rate of change in resistance or a duration of a time period, which period starts when resistance is less than a baseline minus a first amount and ends when resistance exceeds the baseline plus a second amount.
This invention may be implemented as a method comprising in combination: (a) using at least one sensor to take measurements of changes in electrical resistance of each of the one or more components, which components are part of a net and each comprise a material that has an electrical resistance that varies depending on the extent to which the material is stretched; and (b) using at least one processor (i) to perform a computation to calculate, based at least in part on the measurements, a calculated value indicative of the translational kinetic energy of a ball that strikes or passes through the net, and (ii) to output signals to cause an output device to render the calculated value in a humanreadable form; wherein the calculated value is in a range, which range is the range of values that may be outputted by the computation, and which range includes more than two values. Furthermore: (1) the computation may include a calculation of an instantaneous rate of change in resistance; and (2) the computation may include a calculation of duration of a time period, which period starts when resistance exceeds a baseline plus a first amount and ends when resistance is less than the baseline minus a second amount.
It is to be understood that the methods and apparatus that are described herein are merely illustrative applications of the principles of the invention. Numerous modifications may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the invention.