Patent application title: AutoClock: a timer for fencing scoring apparatus
Todd Rutledge Brown (Portland, OR, US)
IPC8 Class: AA63B6700FI
Class name: Amusement devices: games fencing
Publication date: 2009-06-18
Patent application number: 20090156316
A device to activate a timer integrated into, or attached to, an
electronic fencing apparatus whereby the fencers themselves may activate
the timer with their fencing equipment, eliminating the need for an
official, thereby facilitating training. Upon activation, the device will
wait an unpredictable amount of time before starting the timer,
preventing competitors from anticipating when the event will begin, which
facilitates a fair competition. When a third party is present and able to
activate the timer, the unpredictable delay also eliminates intentional
or unintentional unfairness on the part of the third party.
1. A device integrated into or attached to a fencing scoring apparatus
comprising:(a) a timer(b) a means of activation(c) a visual or audible
signal to indicate said device has been activated(d) a circuit to produce
an unpredictable delay prior to starting said timer(e) a visual or
audible signal to indicate said timer has started running.
2. The device of claim 1 wherein said means of activation is response to a touch signal executed with a fencing weapon.
3. The device of claim 1 wherein said means of activation is remote-control.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH
SEQUENCE LISTING OR PROGRAM
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of Invention
This invention generally relates to the sport of fencing, specifically to electronically-scored fencing.
2. Prior Art
Most fencers, even if they have taken up the sport for recreational reasons only, will compete at some point. Because of this, most fencing training programs are geared towards practicing in the same environment that would be encountered in a competition. According to the rules of fencing, each bout has a time limit--and this is the rule that is most often ignored during practice. This is to the detriment of fencers, because a fencer not practiced in paying attention to the remaining time in their bout could lose by allowing time to expire. At a competition, the clock is started and stopped by a third party--either a dedicated timekeeper, or the bout official. When two fencers meet in a club to practice, there is often not a third person available to keep time, and it's impractical for the fencers to operate the clock themselves. Even scoring apparatus with integrated clocks are designed to be activated by a third party via a remote control. Often fencers will seek another fencer not currently engaged in a bout to officiate, but even in this circumstance, time is rarely kept, since fencers often don't wear watches or carry stopwatches during practice.
When an official is present, and is keeping time, there is still a drawback with existing timekeeping devices (most commonly a stopwatch or, in some cases, a clock integrated into the scoring apparatus): fairness in starting and stopping the clock. A competent official will vary his or her start signal so that the fencers can't predict when the clock will be started, allowing neither fencer an unfair advantage. Often, though, officials lack the training or ability to ensure an unbiased start signal. Additionally, it's an unfortunate reality that occasionally officials are not unbiased and may (consciously or not) favor one competitor over another when starting the clock.
In accordance with one embodiment, a device designed for use with electronic fencing scoring apparatus such that following activation of the device there will be an unpredictable delay before the clock starts. The device may be activated either by the fencers themselves (using their own fencing equipment) or via remote control so that it may be activated by an official.
FIG. 1 shows a block diagram of a possible implementation of the device in accordance with one embodiment.
10 Activation input 12 Latch 14 Connection to indicators to signal device activation 16 Connection to downcounter to initiate unpredictable delay 18 Downcounter 20 Timing clock 22 Free-running counter 24 High-speed clock 26 Fixed delay 28 Parallel OR gates 30 Borrow line from downcounter 32 Audible and/or visible indicators 34 Event timer/clock 36 External devices
FIG. 1--First Embodiment
One embodiment of the automatic clock is an integration with an electronic scoring apparatus for sport fencing. A block diagram for an implementation of this embodiment is shown in FIG. 1. The device would be activated by an electronic input (10). The input could either come from one of the fencers' weapons, a switch on the device, or by remote-control. In the case of saber, where the weapons have no physical switch, the signal would come from touching the saber itself to the metallic vest, completing a circuit. The touch-detection mechanisms of existing scoring apparatus would not need to be modified in any way to provide the appropriate signal. A latch (12) would prevent multiple activations. The latch is connected (14) to audible or visible indicators (32) to indicate that the device has been activated (this is a signal to the competitors to be ready to begin).
Following activation, a downcounter (18) driven by a timing clock (20) would be started by the latch output (16). The downcounter is responsible for producing an unpredictable delay prior to starting the clock. The unpredictability of this delay is generated by a free-running counter (22) which is driven by a high-speed clock (24). The seemingly random value of the free-running counter is combined with a fixed value (26) by parallel OR gates (28). Thus, at the instant of activation, the downcounter will be loaded with the combined value of the free-running counter and the fixed delay, ensuring a non-zero, unpredictable delay before the downcounter reaches zero, causing the borrow line (30) to assert.
When the downcounter reaches zero, asserting the borrow line, the audible and visible indicators (32) an event timer (34) and any optional external devices (36) will be activated via the borrow line. In addition, the latch will be reset, allowing the device to be activated again.
The audible indicators could be simple tones, or more complicated tones such as polyphonic tones or even voice commands ("ready", "fence", "allez", etc.). Once the event timer has started, it could be stopped as in existing scoring apparatus with integrated clocks: either when a touch is detected, or by remote-control.
CONCLUSION, RAMIFICATIONS, AND SCOPE
Accordingly the reader will see that I have provided a timing device for use with electronic scoring apparatus for the sport of fencing. Said timer may be activated by the contestants themselves, eliminating the need of a third party. Being unable to predict when the clock will start prevents one competitor from starting early, thereby gaining an advantage on his or her opponent. Furthermore, allowing the competitors to activate the device with their own fencing equipment is easy, quick, and non-disruptive in a practice or training environment. When a third party is available, the device may be activated by remote-control. In this mode of operation, neither the third party nor the competitors may predict when the clock will start which eliminates any unfairness due to malicious intent or incompetence.
Although the description above contains many specificities, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the embodiment but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments. For example, instead of staring a bout between two fencers, the device could be used to measure reaction time to some unpredictable stimulus. Also, the embodiment described above could be implemented in microcode instead of with discrete components.
Thus the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, and not by the examples given.