WALK SIMULATION APPARATUS FOR EXERCISE AND VIRTUAL REALITY
A locomotion platform device enables a user to perform a simulation of various motions including walking and running. The device comprises a locomotion platform having a concave upward facing surface. The platform and/or the user's footwear incorporate a mechanism to reduce friction between the user and the surface of the platform in order to allow the user's feet to move freely.
This application is a continuation-in-part of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/853,886 filed May 26, 2004, which claimed the benefit of and priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/474,780 filed May 29, 2003, the benefit and priority of which is also claimed by the instant application.
FIELD OF INVENTION
The present invention relates in general to an exercise platform. In particular, the present invention relates to a walk simulation apparatus for exercise and virtual reality.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
There is a growing demand for exercise machines to become more entertaining and less tedious. Similarly, users of virtual reality computer games wish to enhance their experience through physical stimulation and exertion, thereby increasing their “immersion” in the game. To this end many developments have sought to improve the computer gaming experience, for instance through three-dimensional visual graphics, ‘surround sound’ audio and various devices that provide a physical feedback.
As many games require the player to walk or run around a virtual world, several inventions have attempted to simulate walking and running. The key challenge to accomplishing this is to achieve a means of multi-directional movement within the restricted space usually required of such a game, while keeping the whole device compact.
A feature of walking/running exercise devices is that they tend to be computer controlled as opposed to providing an input to a computer. For instance, a treadmill requires the user to input the desired speed at which it should operate. There are dangers associated with forcing a user to ‘keep up’ with a machine, and the user may suffer comfort and modesty issues due to the jogging motion. Another feature of many existing devices is that it can be difficult or even impossible to change direction. Ideally a locomotion platform should allow a user to traverse freely in any horizontal direction for any amount of time.
Phillips' U.S. Pat. No. 6,106,397 demonstrates that when a user is constrained to a limited platform area while performing a walking action her/her movements can be monitored and the data used as input to a computer program. However, the disclosed platform is flat.
The US Army has been very active in exploiting computer game technology for training and recruitment. Virtual reality mission rehearsal allows Military to research mission scenarios to evaluate impact of new equipment, combat techniques, tactics and procedures on mission effectiveness. America's Army is a First Person Shooter style computer game released free by the U.S. Army. It provides an indication of how seriously the U.S Army perceives game technology to be. The US Army has already installed ‘Omni-directional treadmills’ at the U.S Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. and at Dismounted Battlespace Battle Lab Simulation Center at Fort Benning, Ga. However, their design is extremely cumbersome, requiring the user to wear a harness in case he/she falls onto the 3400 computer controlled rollers. Originally built in 1997, a purchase order was approved in 2004 to spend a further $2.9M on improvements. What is needed is a device that has no moving parts and overcomes many significant drawbacks of the above design that were identified in a report by the US Naval College at Monterrey.
There is a need for improved situation awareness training. A student can be forgiven for not knowing what is happening behind them if the student is training using a traditional keypad and screen, but that serious limitation is imposed by the equipment. Situation awareness training is a serious topic of research pertaining particularly to the military and aviation.
There is a need for improved Virtual Reality (VR) therapy. VR therapy provides controlled exposure to situations that patients find stressful. A broad range of conditions are treated including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a variety of phobias and other anxiety syndromes.
There is a need for improved virtual tourism. Computer generated renditions of famous and historic places are becoming commonplace. They are generated using both computer graphics and by stitching together photographs taken from multiple angles. Now that such rich virtual environments are available, a basic human desire is to want to walk around them as any tourist would do if the tourist were actually at the real life version of the simulated environment.
Accordingly, there is a need for a simple concave platform for a user to stand on. There is a further need for a mechanism to reduce friction between a platform and a user. There is an additional need for a user to be constrained to the platform area but able to turn, jump, crouch, run and walk in any horizontal direction. The present invention satisfies these needs and provides other related advantages.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The objective of the disclosed invention is to provide a locomotion platform. The apparatus is a concave platform for a user to stand on. The platform and/or the user's footwear are manufactured in such a way as to reduce the friction between them. Further objectives are that the users remain constrained to the platform area and that they may turn and walk in any horizontal direction. The locomotion platform has been designed to encourage people to exercise as well as change the way that computer games are played. The concept is to allow a person to physically walk and run around within a first person computer game or training simulation. The present invention is simple, compact, contains no moving parts, and is easy to manufacture and maintain. The health benefits are significant. The age when many children spend a large amount of time playing games coincides with the 11 to 14 age group. This period is thought to influence a person's attitude to exercise throughout their life. Many parents are concerned about the amount of time their children spend sitting during their favorite pastimes. Brisk walking is now regarded as probably being the best form of exercise. A twenty minute walk, three times a week can provide much of the exercise people need. But no exercise device is beneficial unless it gets used. This health improving opportunity stems from providing frequent, weight-bearing, aerobic and cardiovascular exercise of sufficient duration, without it feeling like a chore. Considering that no one books a ski vacation just to get fit, exercise should be fun. The fact that the locomotion platform can be used in private will appeal to those in need of exercise but who are self-conscious about doing so in public.
The present invention makes the gaming experience much more immersive and thus far more entertaining. If greater immersion is attained, it will also make serious virtual reality training exercises more effective, and in the opinion of military leaders, fire-chiefs and many others, that saves lives. Computer game interfaces have not fundamentally changed since their inception. They require the player to view the action through a ‘window’ (screen) and control events by pressing keys. Many people think this to be a significant drawback as it prevents the player from feeling part of the action. The rapid growth of the computer games market has been driven more than anything else by achieving greater levels of immersion. The present invention recognizes that there is a limit to how immersive games can be when players remain ‘outside’ the game (i.e., looking in) rather than feeling they are ‘in’ the game.
Video glasses with head tracking have gone part of the way to overcoming this limitation but the locomotion aspect that the present invention provides has so far been missing.
Some people experience nausea when playing first and third person computer games. This may be due to the separation of perceived movement from actual movement (in a similar manner to travel sickness). The locomotion platform requires the user to physically turn around if they want to look behind them and should therefore be more natural.
In an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a locomotion platform device permits a user to walk, run, crouch, jump or change direction, and continue these motions without impediment, while actually remaining constrained to the area of the device. A platform includes an upward facing, parabolic, concave surface upon which the user stands while performing the motions; and a mechanism for reducing friction of a portion of the user's footwear or feet contacting the surface of the platform sufficiently to allow omni-directional motion; wherein users do not move substantially away from a center of the platform as the user moves his/her feet.
In another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a simulation system comprises a locomotion platform permitting a user to walk, run, crouch, jump or change direction, and continue these motions without impediment, while remaining constrained to the area of the device, where the platform includes an upward facing, parabolic, concave surface upon which the user stands while performing these motions. The system includes a mechanism for reducing friction of a portion of the user's footwear or feet contacting the surface of the platform sufficiently to allow omni-directional motion; wherein the user does not move substantially away from a center of the platform as the user moves his/her feet. A screen at least partially surrounds the platform wherein background images are projected onto the screen; and a camera is disposed between the screen and the platform.
Further features and advantages of the invention, as well as the structure and operation of various embodiments of the invention, are described in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
The foregoing and other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following, more particular description of various exemplary embodiments of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numbers generally indicate identical, functionally similar, and/or structurally similar elements, wherein:
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Notwithstanding any other forms that may fall within the scope of the present invention, preferred forms of the invention will now be described, by way of example only. A person skilled in the relevant art will recognize that other components and configurations can be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
In general, the locomotion platform is of very simple construction, comprising a two to eight (preferably three to four) foot wide dish with a very low friction coating on which the user stands wearing special footwear. The user performs a simulated walking action in any direction without actually moving any distance. The user can either be surrounded by projected computer displays (for certain professional uses such as television) or wear virtual reality eyewear.
The concave nature of the platform's upper surface 6 is of a profile or angle that facilitates a user as he/she slides his/her feet 4 (with or without footwear 10) across the upper surface 6 of the platform 2. The concave profile of the upper surface 6 is generally parabolic, preferably approximately spherical, with a radius of curvature at least equal to the length of the user's legs 20. The platform 2 lacks handles or anything for a user to grab onto with his/her hands. The platform 2 may rest upon a generally horizontal floor or ground surface with an adhesive, a fastening mechanism (e.g., suction cup) or the like used to hold the center 12 of the platform 2 stationary relative to the floor or ground surface.
In order to reduce friction between the feet 4 (with or without footwear 10) of the user and the surface 6 of the platform 2, the platform 2 may be constructed from any suitable material including, without limitation, metal, wood, plastic, ceramic, toughened glass, any polymer-based material, carbon/graphite composite, fiberglass or the like that provides a coefficient of friction low enough to allow a user's feet 4 (or footwear 10 worn on the feet 4 of the user) to slide in the manner described above with relative ease. Also, the platform 2 may be constructed from a material such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) that reduces the coefficient of friction between the user's feet 4 (with or without footwear 10) and the platform 2. Although conventional materials can be used to successfully manufacture the locomotion platform 2, suitable nano-technologies and other products that can make adequately slippery surfaces are becoming increasingly available and cost effective.
The user is illustrated wearing virtual reality eyewear 8 but the eyewear 8 is only required when the platform 2 is used as part of virtual reality simulation or the like. Eyewear 8 is not essential when the platform 2 is used for exercise. Virtual reality eyewear products such as the Z800 marketed by eMagin Corporation, 10500 NE 8th Street, Suite 1400, Bellevue, Wash. 98004 (www.emagin.com) have brought this technology within the price reach of gamers. The precise shape of two mirrors whose position can be adjusted in front of each eye to reflect images from two (2) one cm wide liquid crystal display (LCD) screens form one large field of view. The eyewear 8 are supplied with head tracking sensors and the effect of being able to look around in any direction has to be tried first hand to fully understand the sensation, but is very impressive. The integrated head tracking detects which direction a player is facing.
The need for motion sensing to detect when a player is walking can be solved in a number of ways including, without limitation, tracking the exact foot positions, enabling software to interpret any movement as it chooses. A true stereoscopic (3D) image can be viewed by virtue of the fact that each eye has its own display. Once the user can look all around and see objects in three dimensions, the compulsion will be to want to walk up to them! A video card outputs 3D as frame-sequential stereo for use with virtual reality eyewear 8. It is preferable that virtual reality eyewear 8 provides good peripheral vision and there is little or no latency in the video display as the viewer turns his/her head.
A change in direction is achieved by altering the direction in which the user's feet 4 (with or without footwear 10) are slid. As an example, to turn right, the right foot 4 (with or without footwear 10) can be slid forward and to the right simultaneously while the left foot 4 (with or without footwear 10) slides backward and to the left.
In one mode of use, the platform upper surface 6 shown in
Also, the material used to construct the platform 2 may be such that there is sufficiently low friction between the surface 6 and the user's feet 4 such that no coating for reducing friction is required.
The view from above the active platform 2 area is circular. The lowest point of the concave platform 2 is in its center 12. In this respect the platform 2 could be described as bowl or dish-shaped. The user is thus able to stand, walk, move, crouch or jump vertically, and change the direction he/she is facing without impediment.
In another exemplary embodiment shown in
Notwithstanding that the locomotion platform 2, 32 of the present invention may be used simply for the purpose of exercise, the movement thus obtained is suitable for detection via electronic sensors. The data thus derived can be used by a computer program for analysis or as user input. Multiple methods of movement detection are possible. The following examples outline some of the methods to derive the movement data.
In one mode of use, the user wears a movement detection mechanism 42 for detecting motion and position of the user, as seen in
Methods of motion detection can range from “simple” to “advanced.” A “simple” method of motion detection can occur in the context of a first-person computer game. Such first-person computer games often use keys to move forward and back but the user can only move in the direction the user is “looking” in the game (and that view is controlled by moving the mouse). Game-pads also work in a similar manner. Video glasses like virtual reality eyewear can incorporate a head-tracker having output used to control where the user is looking (e.g. as the user looks or turns right, the video view also turns right). The walk action is to slide each leg 20 in anti-phase to one another so as one leg 20 moves forward, the other legs 20 moves backward. This way, the user does not move far from the center 12 of the platform 12. The simple method of operation for the platforms 2, 32 would additionally detect any leg 20 movement and interpret this as forward movement. Backward movement, if needed, could be accomplished by (a) a button press while the user is moving their legs (e.g., press a button on a gun, sword or whatever the user may be holding), (b) the user's position with respect to the absolute center of the dish (e.g., there can be a tendency for the user to climb the side of the platform 2, 32 the user is facing, even though the user constantly slips back from it, so the relative position to center 12 of the platform 2, 32 might be used), or (c) even which of the user's legs 20 moves first (e.g., from a standing start if the user is right-footed, the user normally walks forward with his/her right foot first). Alternatively, brain sensors could be used to determine which direction the user desires to walk in. The drawback to the simple method is that if the user tried to look backward over his/her shoulder in the real world while wearing virtual reality eyewear in order to see “behind” himself/herself in the virtual world, the user might wind up travelling in that direction in the virtual world even though the user's legs are pointing “forward ahead” in the real world.
An “advanced” method of motion detection occurs, ideally, such that when the user “looks” while wearing virtual reality eyewear, the user would see the user's own virtual legs move at the same time and by the same amount as the user's real legs. The user would also be able to look over his/her shoulder and still walk in the direction the user's legs are facing. To achieve this, the software game or virtual world allows more channels of input to distinguish the field of view from the direction of travel. In hardware terms, a greater number of movement sensors are needed to track each limb. As suggested above, a variety of methods are commonly available such as optical (camera) or XYZ trackers based upon accelerometers. Preferably, movement detection is accomplished by using either accelerometers attached to the user's body or by an optical solution such as a camera (e.g., the SONY EYETOY, a color digital camera device, similar to a webcam, for a SONY PLAYSTATION that uses computer vision to process images taken by the camera, allowing players to interact with games using motion, color detection and also sound, through a built-in microphone with the camera being hand-held or mounted on a pivot to allow for positioning).
In another mode of use, as illustrated in
A suitable computer program would interpret the activated switch elements 58 to determine the position, speed and direction of the user's feet 54 (with or without footwear 60). Analyzing the sequence that the switch elements 58 are activated and released can derive the speed and directional information. The position of the switch elements 58 can be laid out so that during use slight changes in the direction that the user is sliding their feet 54 (with or without footwear 60) can be determined. Change of direction and speed of change can be derived from the switch data. Switch data from the platform surface 56 can be used to determine a change in direction that the user is sliding his/her feet 54, but the actual degree of change, or absolute direction that the user is now pointing need not always be exact. For instance, it may or may not be necessary if the user was to turn a full three hundred sixty (360) degrees for the computer program to reflect that the user is now pointing in the same direction. The switch data from the platform 52 may be used in any manner a computer program chooses. Walking/running/stopping/jumping/turning are some examples but others are possible. Relative or absolute position of feet 54 can indicate anything a computer program decides.
The switch elements 58 could be in the form of a touch-sensitive membrane adhered to the top of the platform surface 56 whose switch outputs are fed, via a suitable electrical interface, to a computer. The user stands vertically on top of the platform 52 and slides their feet 54 back and forth across the surface 56, actuating the membrane switch contacts. Alternatively the switch elements 58 could be attached to the underside of the platform surface 56, in a similar manner to some types of membrane keyboards. The concave nature of the platform surface 56 should be of a profile or angle that facilitates a user as they slide their feet 54 (with or without footwear 60) across the surface 56.
The platform upper surface 56 shown in
Examples of the footwear sole material include, without limitation, PTFE, silk or any other material designed to minimize friction between the user's feet 54 and the upper surface 56 of the platform 52. The footwear 60 may also be in the form of roller skates or similar footwear designed to roll over the fixed upper concave surface 56 of the platform 52. The upper surface 56 in this example could be treated with a polish, wax or lubricant (dependant on the particular material chosen for the platform 52) that would provide sufficient grip to prevent the wheels of the user's footwear 60 from skidding as the user moves his/her legs 40 in a manner same and/or similar to the manner described above. In the alternative, the surface 52 may not include a coating for reducing friction when roller skates are worn by the user. Also, the material used to construct the platform 52 may be such that there is sufficiently low friction between the surface 56 and the user's feet 54 or footwear 60 such that no coating for reducing friction is required. The surface 56 of the platform 52 includes a perimeter edge 66 to prevent a user's foot from sliding further than a perimeter rim of the platform 52. The user is illustrated wearing virtual reality eyewear 68 but eyewear 68 is only required when the platform 52 is used as part of virtual reality simulation or the like. Eyewear 68 is not required by the user when the platform 52 is used for exercise.
In another mode of use, as illustrated in
In yet another mode of use, as illustrated in
As illustrated in
The set-up 150 described above can be used to produce a 3D PACMAN-type game, with the player assuming the role of the ‘Muncher’. The set-up includes a number of components: (1) a maze/map with themed areas; (2) two opposing contestants playing simultaneously; (3) objects to collect for points; (4) a beast chasing them; (5) doors that the players can lock to trap their opponent in with the beast; (6) mildly comic treatment of ‘caught’ players, such as shrinking them using special effects by using a computer to manipulate the player's image relative to the background image; and (7) played over the intranet from two separate locations. The aim is for the game to be readily understood but highly unpredictable. Various options are available as a forfeit when the beast catches a player. These include going back to the start or being frozen at a location for a period. One option is shrinking the player by means of camera angles and expanding the 3D back-projected images. Sound effects will be louder the closer a player is to the source of the sound (e.g. sliding doors, beast's footsteps or the like). Infrasound can also be added to make a player feel less comfortable in areas like tombs. Simple but robust loudspeaker voice-coils are attached to the locomotion platform to provide vibration effects such as juddering and jolts. As there is no physical set required, with simple lighting and a single camera person at each site, maximum fun can be achieved for minimum cost.
In order to prevent drift over time of the three back-projected images, XYZ position network packets are broadcast from a master personal computer (PC) at roughly twenty five (25) times per second. The client PCs render their images on receipt of this information. The precise frame rate is not critical due to the image persistence of the liquid crystal display (LCD) projectors. This means that the PCs only need to be able to render about twenty five (25) frames per second, and should therefore operate well within tolerance. The synchronization network packets will only occupy about 0.01% of the available bandwidth. This enormous headroom means this solution is very flexible and should not present any problems when connecting sites over the wide area. Another great advantage is that any PC can run at any time and immediately be in sync; providing many equipment redundancy options should the shows be aired live.
As seen in
The principal problems the embodiments of the present invention overcome are that the presenters or contestants: (a) are very restricted in how far they can walk; (b) cannot see the background that the viewer sees and have to imagine; and (c) have visible ‘fringing’ where the video background and foreground touch. The exact content of the show will depend to some extent on what is technically feasible and produces the best results. For example, two contestants playing simultaneously concentrate attention on the game and are more compelling. Rather than consume time and money where it may not add to the enjoyment, or cater for situations that may not happen in practice, intriguing game rules can be devised to turn these into a feature. One illustration is that neither player might be able to see their opponent but can see the effect of their actions. Similarly the beast's view could be a monochrome background with a thermal camera type image of the contestant.
The system including the locomotion platform does not require specific game software to be written for it but will open up opportunities for game makers to exploit. The system can be connected via USB to a console or PC as a direct replacement for a hand-held gamepad. Thus, first person games will not necessarily require modification. Peripherals that enhance immersion include joysticks and steering wheels, especially with force feedback. Once a player is used to these, it is difficult to enjoy the games without them.
The concave surface of the locomotion platform 2, 32, 52, 72, 102 is very stable to stand and move on, despite the low-friction surface 6, 36, 56, 76, 106. It should therefore fall well within the ‘safety envelope’ of similar devices, for instance: roller-blades, trampolines, bicycles and skateboards. One of the key advantages is that little or no momentum is possible, so even if the user does topple over there will not be any speed element or other extraneous influence, such as being hit by a vehicle. There is also no fear that the platform 2, 32, 52, 72, 102 will run out of control or need to be stopped in an emergency.
Safety equipment will be recommended such as a cycle helmet and possibly a ring shaped inflatable crash mat (similar to a large inner-tube). Further to this any other potential safety concerns would be fully investigated. As an example, research has already identified that neither cinemas nor computer games are considered to induce epileptic seizures.
As with normal motion-capture, sensors can be placed on the player/actor to control an avatar (i.e., virtual character). However, the detected motion can be used to control the background image rather than a foreground (avatar) image. The sensor information can be used to manipulate the foreground image when that image is the camera output (i.e. the real person). Because the locomotion platform 2, 32, 52, 72, 102 confines the user to one place, sensor information can be used to control digital video effects (DVE) equipment which allows a user's camera image to be manipulated in real-time. For instance, the user's head could be altered to be as large as his/her body or some other feature that might impact on the game the user is playing. One advantage of this is that while it might be considered inappropriate for participants to be seen shooting each other (a common aspect of many computer games), a caricature of a person might be able to get away with more and be more entertaining for the viewer. In fact, any visible feature of a person could be accentuated to monitor its effect, such as making the person appear taller, thinner, thicker, larger, more tanned, hairy or blond etc. Even individual features of a user, such as the user's nose, could be modified (e.g., enlarged, shrunk, etc.). As outlined above, detection of the user's movement drives the background.
While the present invention has been described in the context of exercise and the way computer games are played, it is clear that there are many other professional applications in television production and the training of military and emergency services staff. For domestic usage, where large screens surrounding the player are prohibitive, there are two possible solutions: (a) a wireless video link to the video glasses or virtual reality eyewear; or (b) a small enough games console to be worn by the user or placed in a backpack. A wireless video link might be based on WiFi or Bluetooth technology. It is critical that the wireless video link does not introduce any latency; such as often occurs with video compression technologies which examine each frame for redundant information. One aspect in its favor is that the transmission path will be very short and should therefore require very low power.
As alluded to above, both professional and domestic versions are envisaged, with the professional market likely to be early adopters. The professional market would include military—dismounted infantry, television virtual reality studios, and personnel training for Police, Firemen, flight crews etc. First person games will become a personal experience. This in turn creates new possibilities for game and simulation makers as it opens up the possibility for people to experience new things. Imagine being able to compete in your national football team along side your favorite players. Karaoke would extend to performing on stage in front of a virtual audience. World War II (WWII) simulations would feel much more real and it will be possible to understand what it felt like at historic events and places.
While various embodiments of the present invention have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of example only, and not limitation. Thus, the breadth and scope of the present invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should instead be defined only in accordance with the following claims and their equivalents.
1. A locomotion platform device permitting a user to walk, run, crouch, jump or change direction, and continue these motions without impediment, while remaining constrained to the area of the device, the device comprising:
- a platform including an upward facing, parabolic, concave surface upon which the user stands while performing the motions; and
- means for reducing friction of a portion of the user's footwear or feet contacting the surface of the platform sufficiently to allow omni-directional motion; wherein the user does not move substantially away from a center of the platform as the user moves their feet.
2. The device of claim 1, wherein the concave surface of the platform comprises a low friction, fixed surface, firm enough to support a user's weight without substantial deformation.
3. The device of claim 1, wherein the means for reducing low friction upward facing surface is selected from the group consisting of wax, polish, lubricant and polytetrafluoroethylene.
4. The device of claim 1, wherein the user wears footwear that reduces friction between the user and the surface.
5. The device of claim 1, wherein the user wears footwear that includes a low friction sole engaging the surface of the platform.
6. The device of claim 1, wherein the user wears footwear that includes wheels engaging the surface of the platform.
7. The device of claim 1, further comprising movement detection means for detecting motion and position of the user.
8. The device of claim 7, wherein the movement detection means is embedded in the platform.
9. The device of claim 7, wherein the movement detection means is worn by the user.
10. The device of claim 1, wherein said essentially spherically concave surface has a radius at least about the distance from a base of a user's footwear to a user's hip joint.
11. The device of claim 1, including a brace connected to the platform in order to prevent movement of the platform during use.
12. The device of claim 1, wherein the surface includes a perimeter edge to prevent a user's foot from sliding further than a perimeter rim of the platform.
13. The device of claim 1, wherein the surface of the platform is constructed from a flexible material capable of minimizing injury to a user falling upon the surface.
14. A locomotion platform device lacking handles or anything for a user to grasp onto with hands that permits the user to walk, or run, crouch, jump or change direction, and continue these motions without impediment, while remaining constrained to a central area of the device, the device comprising:
- a stand-alone, stationary, dish-shaped platform having an upward facing, essentially spherically concave surface upon which the user stands while performing the motions, the surface comprising a material selected from the group consisting of wax, polish, lubricant and polytetrafluoroethylene;
- said concave surface of the platform comprising a low friction, fixed surface, firm enough to support a user's weight without substantial deformation; and
- means for reducing contact friction between feet of the user and the surface of the platform sufficiently to allow omni-directional motion; wherein the friction reducing means includes a low friction interface engaging the feet, disposed between the feet and the surface of the platform; wherein the user does not move substantially away from a center of the platform as the user moves their feet.
15. A simulation system comprising:
- a locomotion platform permitting a user to walk, run, crouch, jump or change direction, and continue these motions without impediment, while remaining constrained to the area of the device, where the platform includes an upward facing, parabolic, concave surface upon which the user stands while performing the motions;
- means for reducing friction of a portion of the user's footwear or feet contacting the surface of the platform sufficiently to allow omni-directional motion; wherein the user does not move substantially away from a center of the platform as the user moves their feet;
- a screen at least partially surrounding the platform wherein background images are projected onto the screen; and
- a camera disposed between the screen and the platform.
16. The system of claim 15, wherein the concave surface of the platform comprises a low friction, fixed surface, firm enough to support a user's weight without substantial deformation.
17. The system of claim 15, wherein the means for reducing low friction upward facing surface is selected from the group consisting of wax, polish, lubricant and polytetrafluoroethylene.
18. The system of claim 15, wherein the user wears footwear that reduces friction between the user and the surface.
19. The system of claim 15, further comprising movement detection means for detecting motion and position of the user.
20. The system of claim 15, wherein the camera comprises a plurality of cameras rotatable about the user.
Filed: Dec 29, 2008
Publication Date: Apr 30, 2009
Inventor: Julian D Williams (Bucks)
Application Number: 12/345,373
International Classification: A63B 22/14 (20060101);