Have you ever watched dancers on stage and think, how do they learn to do every moment at exactly the same time? The answer: lots and lots of practice. But, what if there was a way that would save them time and make sure they still perform in perfect unison? A system that a dance teacher could easily use in class? What if there was also a system that could help people track their own improvement at home? Recently, there has been a huge need for home devices for personal training. However, at home training lacks in instructor feedback and also real-time evaluation and feedback. This led to the creation of the Footwork Training System and Method. I will explore this patent in how it works and the applications it is used for.
Patent Title: Footwork Training System and Method
Patent Number: US20080258921A1
Patent Filing Date: April 19, 2007
Patent Issue Date: October 23, 2008
How Long it Took to Issue: 1.5 years
Inventors: Helen Woo and Allan M.
Assignee: Nike, Inc.
U.S. Classification: A63B24/0006 – a computerized comparison for qualitative assessment of motion sequences or the course of movement
The system is comprised of several components: an article of clothing fit for the user’s body, a sensor attached to the article of clothing to detect the impact of the article of clothing against the surface, a processor connected to the sensor through a communication link, a target impact pattern accessible by the processor, and a display. The system is designed for a shoe. The processor and display are both a computer or portable electronic device. The purpose of this system is to provide an evaluation system for the user where while performing an activity, the sensor they are wearing can detect a performance impact pattern generated by the user. Then, the device can communicate the pattern to an evaluation system which will compare the performance impact pattern to the target impact pattern. The device can also store the information from the performance impact pattern.
Figure 1: The image on the left shows the shoe with sensors on it. The image on the right shows how when a person dances, the sensors in the shoe will collect the impact.
The system works by determining a first performance metric based upon step, then the user can repeat the activity to generate a new performance pattern. Then, the system compares the new performance pattern to the target pattern to determine a new performance metric and finally, comparing the new performance pattern to the first performance metric to determine progress. The system will then display the performance pattern, new performance pattern, the target pattern, the first performance metric, and the new performance metric. The system can also be used for multiple users. This works by having a target impact pattern and then having each user wear the sensor. Then, the device compares the performance of the impact patter to the target impact pattern. Then the device will communicate the evaluation characteristics for the multiple users to a remote evaluation module via a communications network, which will compare the performances. The communication all occurs via the Internet and each user has access to a website that displays the results.
Figure 2: This chart depicts a simplified version of how the system works.
In the references cited, there are various different patents that the device drew from including: music systems, shoe activated sound synthesized device, human movement measurement system, interactive surface and display system, sports electronic training system, and many others. The main difference with this device is that it incorporates different things from these patents to create a brand new device. It measures human movement patterns based on impact, which is different than some devices that record measurements visually. It also incorporates an interactive system and display which some devices have and others do not. It also is based on other shoe-like devices that have sensors or pads in them.
What I like about this device is that it can be used anywhere: it can be used at home, in class, in a gym, and a variety of other places. The creators list that this device is primarily used for dance, yoga posture, boxing moves, and martial arts movement. I primarily chose this patent because I thought how it was interesting how it is an evaluation tool for performance but can be used anywhere. I also liked how specifically the creators looked at how this device is used for dance. As a former dancer, I can clearly see the advantages of having a device like this. Not only can it be used to measure individual performance, it can also be used for multiple dancers which is definitely an advantage – it can help show if they are all performing in unison. When performing, all dancers want to be doing the same moves at the same time, and this device will help to evaluate that. I think that this device has so many applications and it can be further incorporated into not only a shoe, but a torso covering, leg covering, band, and jewelry. The possibilities seem endless for Footwork Training System and Method and it is really interesting to see where this goes in the future.