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Title:
A BOWLING LANE SYSTEM WITH LIGHT-EMITTING ELEMENTS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2000/076605
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A bowling lane system including a bowling lane with a pin deck, light emitting materials incorporated into the lane area and positioned to provide bowlers a plurality of visible guide indica to assist the bowlers in delivering the ball, and an energy source to activate the light emitting materials. This bowling lane system aids bowlers when bowling in dim or darkened bowling establishment.

Inventors:
Hixson, Kenneth L. (4368 Boundary Run Drive Mechanicsville, VA, 23111, US)
Wilson, Douglas S. (4565 Sandy Valley Road Mechanicsville, VA, 23111, US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2000/015822
Publication Date:
December 21, 2000
Filing Date:
June 09, 2000
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
AMF BOWLING WORLDWIDE, INC. (8100 AMF Drive Mechanicsville, VA, 23111-3700, US)
International Classes:
A63D1/00; A63D1/04; A63D5/04; (IPC1-7): A63D1/04
Foreign References:
US5846138A
US3301558A
US5683302A
US5924931A
US3301558A
US3971560A
US5489241A
US5529541A
US5888142A
US5846138A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Garrett, Arthur S. (Finnegan, Henderson Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, L.L.P. 1300 I Stree, N.W. Washington DC, 20005-3315, US)
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Claims:
Claims What is claimed is:
1. A bowling lane system comprising: a bowling lane with an upper flat surface extending from an approach area to a pin deck; light emitting materials incorporated into the lane, said light emitting materials being positioned to provide, when energized, a pattern of visible guide indica to assist the bowler in delivering the ball, said pattern including a plurality of parallel lines extending along at least half of the length of the lane between the foul line and the pin deck; and an energy source to activate said light emitting materials.
2. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein said plurality of lines extend down substantially the entire length of the lanes between the foul line and the pin deck.
3. The bowling lane system of claim 2 wherein said pattern also includes at least one set of arrowshaped markers arranged across the width of the lane.
4. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein at least some of said plurality of lines are formed by a plurality of aligned marks.
5. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein the said light emitting materials are located proximate to the approach spots on the approach area.
6. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein the said pattern includes sets of marks placed at intervals on the approach area and the lane on certain boards aligned with areas on the pin deck where the pins are placed.
7. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein at least some of said plurality of lines are solid lines.
8. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein at least some of said plurality of lines are dashed lines.
9. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein at least some of said plurality of lines are formed by a series of dots.
10. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein at least some of said plurality of lines are formed on the interface of certain boards in the lane.
11. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein at least some of said plurality of lines are aligned with areas on the pin deck where pins are placed.
12. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein said pattern includes eight lines extending along at least half of the length of the lanes between the foul line and the pin deck and wherein the lines are positioned to form seven minilanes, each minilane aligned with the one of the areas on the pin deck where the pins are placed.
13. The bowling lane system of claim 12 further including two additional parallel lines, each one being proximate the respective gutter of the lane.
14. The bowling lane of claim 12 further including an arrow positioned within each of the formed minilanes.
15. The bowling lane of claim 14 wherein the arrows are positioned to form a Vshape.
16. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein the light emitting materials are fluorescent to a light source.
17. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein the light emitting materials are phosphorescent to a light source.
18. The bowling lane system of claim 16 wherein the energy source is an ultraviolet light.
19. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein the light emitting materials are electrically activated.
20. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein the light emitting materials includes fiber optic cables.
21. The bowling lane system of claim 1 wherein some of the light emitting materials are selected from a group of dyes and pigments and other of the light emitting materials are electrically activated elements.
22. The bowling lane system of claim 21 wherein the electrically activated elements are controlled by a computer control.
Description:
A BOWLING LANE SYSTEM WITH LIGHT-EMITTING ELEMENTS This application claims the benefit under 35 U. S. C. ยง 119, of provisional application 60/138,532 filed on June 10,1999, titled Bowling Establishment and Lane with Light-Emitting, Reflecting, and Refracting Elements.

Background of the Invention Field of the Invention The present invention relates to a bowling lane system where light emitting materials or elements are incorporated into the lane and positioned to provide visible guide indica to assist the bowlers in delivering the ball.

An energy source is used to activate the light emitting materials or elements.

Description of the Prior Art It is known in the art to provide light-emitting markings on game surfaces. One such arrangement is shown in U. S. Patent No. 3,301,558, issued to Clapham, in which selectively actuated ball path indicators of an ultraviolet fluorescent material are illuminated to automatically and selectively indicate to bowlers the best path along which to roll a bowling ball to knock down various combinations of standing pins. Another such arrangement is shown in U. S. Patent No. 3,971,560, issued to Panosh, in which the outer edges and mid line of the flat upper surface of a table tennis assembly and the table tennis net are provided with a fluorescent tape.

U. S. Patent Nos. 5,489,241,5,529,541, and 5,888,142, all issued to Perrier, disclose systems in which substantially the entire bowling lane -1- from gutter to gutter has been provided with an ultraviolet light sensitive dye or pigment. When illuminated by an ultraviolet light source, the ultraviolet light sensitive dye or pigment of the Perrier patents fluoresces to illuminate the surface of the bowling lane, thereby providing bowlers with a source of light.

Still another arrangement is shown in U. S. Patent No. 5,846,138, issued to Borden et al., which discloses a fluorescent bowling lane in combination with other bowling game elements such as fluorescent pins, bowling balls, and bowling attire. The patent explains that the fluorescent portions of the bowling lane surfaces may include the foul line and the lane arrows.

Summary of the Invention An object of the present invention is to provide an improved bowling lane system. In executing a bowl, bowlers use a variety of methods to orient themselves, their approach, and the manner in which they roll the bowling ball. The present invention allows bowlers to differentiate between different portions of a lane and approach area in a dim or darkened bowling establishment, thus providing bowlers visual references while they bowl in a different bowling environment. Additional objects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the description which follows, and in part will be obvious from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention will be realized and attained by means of the elements and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.

To achieve the objects and in accordance with the purpose of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, the invention includes a bowling lane system comprised of a bowling lane with a pin deck, light emitting materials incorporated into the lane and positioned to provide bowlers a plurality of visible guide indica to assist the bowlers in delivering the ball, and an energy source is used to activate the light emitting materials.

The guide indica are preferably in the form of a plurality of parallel lines extending along at least half of the length of the lane. The parallel lines can further include indica in the shape of arrows arranged on the lane in a V-shaped formation on the lane among the lines. The lines can be solid lines, dashed lines or lines created by a series of collinear marks. The lines in certain embodiments are aligned respectively with the pins on the pin deck. In other embodiments, the lines form mini-lanes that are centered relative to the respective pins on the pin deck. In other embodiments the guide indica may be located on or near the approach spots and form several repeating sets of marks at intervals on the approach area and lane.

In one embodiment, the material which emits visible light are either dyes or pigments that visibly fluoresce when exposed to ultraviolet light, or another light source. In alternative embodiments, the dyes or pigments may be photoluminescent or phosphorescent material that can emit light following exposure to high intensity white, infrared, or ultraviolet light. In yet another embodiment of the invention, light emitting elements such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), LED materials, liquid crystal displays, gas plasma elements, light cables, or other light emitting elements are incorporated into the bowling lanes and connected to an energy source.

In another alternative embodiment of the invention, light transmitting elements such as fiber optic cables or light cables are embedded into the bowling lanes and approach areas so that the transmitted light may be seen and used by bowlers.

In all of these embodiments, these elements are arranged to provide visual reference guides to assist bowlers in rolling a ball down a bowling lane. The light emitting elements may be arranged and connected to a power source such as a computer to control which elements are activated and at what time they are activated in response to the changing conditions over the course of the game and the bowler's performance.

The present invention provides bowlers with a series of visual guide references permitting them to conceive, adjust, and execute ball deliveries, under variable conditions, with increased flexibility and skill. In addition to providing visual references, the light emitting material may be formed into logos to advertise equipment or the bowling establishment. Light emitting substances or elements can be placed on additional elements of a bowling establishment, such as masking elements, pin deck elements, pin spotting and clearing apparatus, gutter elements, the return systems, seats and scoring tables.

It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary only and are not restrictive of the invention, as claimed.

Description of the Drawings The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate several embodiments of the invention and together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 is a partial perspective view of a bowling lane according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2A is a top-view of a lane illustrated in FIG. 1.

FIG. 2B is a sectional view of a lane of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a partial perspective view of a bowling lane according to a second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a partial perspective view of a bowling lane according to a third embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a partial perspective view of a bowling lane according to a fourth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a partial perspective view of a bowling lane according to a fifth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a top view of a bowling lane approach area according to a sixth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a top view of a bowling lane approach area according to a seventh embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a close-up view of a dot found on a bowling lane of FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 is a partial perspective view of a bowling lane according to an eighth embodiment of the present invention.

Description of the Preferred Embodiments Reference will now be made in detail to the present preferred embodiments of the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers will be used throughout the drawings to refer the same or like parts.

The bowling lane system of the present invention includes a flat surface constituting an approach area, a bowling lane with a pin deck, and light emitting materials incorporated into the lane and approach area and positioned to provide bowlers a plurality of visible guide indica to assist the bowlers in delivering the ball. The system also includes an energy source to activate the light emitting materials.

As explained more fully below, the light emitting materials can be in the form of dyes or pigments that glow when light is applied to them. The materials can also be electrical light elements or light transmitting elements that emit light when energy is applied to them.

In the preferred embodiments of this invention shown in the FIGs. 1- 10, the light emitting materials are arranged into guide indica in the form of a plurality of parallel lines 61-70 extending along at least half of the length of the lane between the foul line 200 and the pin deck 210. The parallel lines can further include indica in the shape of arrows 81-87 arranged on the lane in a V-shaped formation among the lines. The lines may be solid lines, dashed lines or lines created by a series of collinear marks. The light emitting material may be placed on and around the approach dots on the approach side of the foul line. Repeating sets of light emitting marks like, or similar to, the approach dots may be placed at longer intervals on the lane and approach area on boards which correspond to certain pins as shown in FIGs. 7-8. A preferred mark in the form of a dot is shown in FIG. 9. The marks may be used in combination with other parallel lines and arrows as shown in FIG. 10.

The parallel lines are preferably aligned to lead to respective pins on the pin deck. The width of a bowling lane is comprised of 39 boards, and the lines may be located at the interface of certain boards in the bowling lane. The lines could also be aligned to form mini-lanes where the mini- lanes lead to respective pins on the pin deck, the pins being centered in the mini-lanes. Combinations of solid, broken, and collinear marks forming lines and logos, as contemplated by the present invention are shown in FIGs. 1-10.

In one preferred embodiment, depicted in FIG. 1, a bowling establishment is provided wherein the lanes have light emitting indicators in a pattern that includes a plurality of parallel lines extending along the length of the bowling lanes between the approach area and the pin deck. In this embodiment, the lines begin near the foul line and stop just before the pin deck. The patterns also include an arrangement of arrow-shaped markers placed in a V-shaped layout across the width of the lanes. The arrow- shaped markers are centrally positioned between two adjacent lines, forming a mini-lane.

In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the indica is arranged to form seven lane arrows in a V-shaped formation, and ten lines extending the length of the lanes between the foul line and the pin deck. The lines preferably are approximately 1/4 inch in width. In this embodiment, the arrows are positioned to form a V in the bowling lane that is or approximates a mirror image of the location if the pins on the pin deck.

The lines are positioned in a manner to assist the bowler. More specifically, line 61 is positioned on the boundary of boards 21 and 22 and line 62 is positioned on the boundary of boards 22 and 23. These two lines are adjacent the gutter. Arrow 81 is positioned on board 25, and makes the left end of the V. Line 63 is positioned on the boundary of boards 27 and 28. Arrow 82 is positioned on board 30. Lines 64,65,66,67,68,69 and 70 are positioned on the boundaries of boards 52-53,57- 58 and 58-59 respectively. Arrows 84,85,86 and 87 are positioned on boards 40,45,50 and 55 respectfully. Arrow 84 is located at the point of the V is lined up to the headpin 71.

As shown in FIG. 1, this arrangement of lines and arrows forms seven mini-lanes each with an arrow in the center of them. Each of the mini-lanes is preferably positioned so that its central axis is aligned with the a pin on the pin deck. The arrows are similarly aligned and point to the pins. In addition, the regions of the lanes bordering the gutters are accented by two lines only one board apart. The mini-lane containing arrow 81 leads to pin 77. The mini-lane containing arrow 82 leads to pin 74. The mini-lane containing arrow 83 leads to pins 72 and 78. The mini-lane containing arrow 84 leads to pins 71 and 75. The mini-lane containing arrow 85 leads to pins 73 and 79. The mini-lane containing arrow 86 leads to pin 76. The mini-lane containing arrow 87 leads to pin 80.

This configuration of lines of guide indica aids bowlers by showing what parts of the lane lead to the areas where the pins are. This helps them decide where they should roll the ball to knock down certain pins. The guide indica in the approach area will assist bowlers in setting up their approach and delivery of the ball.

FIGs. 3-6 show variations of the preferred embodiment by adding logo designs in addition to the line and arrow indica to various parts of the lane and approach area. In FIG. 3 an AMF logo design is incorporated onto the lane. In FIG. 4 an AMF logo design is incorporated along the length of the center portion of the lane. In FIG. 5 an AMF logo design is incorporated onto both the lane and the approach area. In FIG. 6 an AMF logo design is incorporated to only the approach area.

Different light emitting materials can be used to form the guide indica and patterns of the present invention. For example, dyes and pigments that emit visible light can be used. These dyes or pigments can be designed to emit white or colored light when exposed to ultraviolet light, or other light.

Preferably, the light emitting material is substantially colorless and transparent when, the bowling lanes and area are illuminated by ordinary daylight or electrical lights, so that these areas are not noticeable, in conventional lighting conditions.

The dyes or pigments may be photoluminescent or phosphorescent dyes which emit visible light following exposure to high intensity white, infrared, or ultraviolet light. Such materials can be designed to produce a color such as a yellowish green color. Again, the light emitting material preferably should be substantially colorless and transparent, so it is not noticeable in conventional lighting conditions.

To activate the dye or pigment used to provide the guide indicia, the bowling lane system of the present invention includes a light fixture or fixtures containing a light source, such as an ultraviolet, infrared, white, or high intensity light. The light fixture or fixtures should be installed so that when the light source is turned on, it will be sufficient to cause the dyes or pigments to emit visible light.

When dyes and pigments are used, they are preferably incorporated into the bowling lane during the manufacturing process. In a preferred embodiment, during the manufacturing process the flat surface of the bowling lane, approach area, and pin deck are comprised of several panels manufactured separately and joined together at installation. The bowling lane, not including the pin deck, is made from of five panels each about 12 feet long. When combined, the panels constitute a bowling lane about 60 feet long. Each panel is comprised of a core, which is made of a flat wood- type material such as particle board. A laminate layer is bonded to the top and bottom of the core material. FIG. 2A is a top-view of a lane composes of the laminate material and core material. FIG. 2B, is a sectional view of the lane composed of a laminate material bonded to a core material.

The laminate material is preferably made by aligning and stacking chemically treated paper or other thin layers and pressing them together.

The pattern of light emitting materials are preferably placed on one or more of the paper layers. In one embodiment, markings designed to give the appearance that the lane is comprised of strips of natural wood called boards are printed on at least one of the paper layers of the top laminate in desired areas. The light emitting dye or pigment is preferably applied to the desired areas of that or another paper by silk screening. The final two or three layers of paper are also soaked in a melamine bath and laid on top of the paper layer to which the light emitting material was applied. The layers are then placed in a heat press where heat and pressure cause the them to harden and bond together into a laminate with a smooth translucent surface.

In another preferred embodiment, light emitting elements such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), LED materials, liquid crystal display or gas plasma elements, light cables, or other light emitting elements are embedded into the bowling lanes and connected to a remote energy source.

These elements are arranged to provide the visual reference guides of the present invention. In another preferred embodiment, light transmitting elements such as fiber optic cables or light cables are incorporated or embedded into the bowling lanes and approach areas so that the transmitted light may be seen and used by bowlers. The light transmitting elements are connectedto, and activated by, a light source. Preferably, they form patterns identical or similar to those shown in FIGs. 1 thorough 10.

When light-emitting and light-transmitting elements are used to provide guide indicia according to the present invention, they can be used alone or in combination with other patterns formed by pigments or dyes. In such an embodiment, some guide indicia (formed by the pigments of dyes) would be constant, while the other indicia (formed by electronically activated materials) could be respectfully turned on and off. Such a combination can offer the additional flexibility of being controlled by a remote source such as a computer. The controlling source may cause the light emitting elements to vary the light emissions in accordance to indicate certain bowling strategies, to display different patterns or logos, or in response to input from the operators and users of the bowling establishment.

The electrical components could even be connected and controlled by a computer system that controls other aspects if the lane, such as the pin spotter and a scoring system. Preferably, the light emitting and transmitting elements are placed in the panels during construction so that the elements will emit visible light through the top layers of the laminate when activated.

In this embodiment, two laminate layers are used instead of one on the top side of the particle board. The light emitting or transmitting elements are embedded on the first laminate layer and then overlaid with a second clear laminate layer. The enabling wires are extended though the side or bottom surface of the panels so they can be connected to an external power source when the panels are installed.

In embodiments where no light sensitive dyes or pigments are used, no ultraviolet lights are required to shine on the indica to activated it.

Instead, the light emitting or transmitting elements are connected to a remote control power source when the panels are installed. When fiber optic cables are used, such cables may be composed of any conventional material and have any diameter capable of transmitting and emitting light of an intensity that may be visually perceived by bowlers. The light so transmitted may be continuous or intermittent and may be of one or more colors.

Through the present invention, bowlers can visually identify and distinguish between some of the individual boards or groups of boards in the lane to conceive, adjust, and execute ball deliveries in a dim or dark bowling establishment. The present invention provides bowlers with a series of visual references permitting them to conceive, adjust, and execute ball deliveries to the pins, under highly variable conditions of the bowling lane. As a result, the bowling game is provided with a new playing dimension in which bowlers seek not only to strike the pins, but to direct the bowling ball on a path over and between selected light-emitting areas that previously were undifferentiated portions of the lane.

The designs and combinations of guide indica described herein and shown in the figures are not intended to be exhaustive of all guide indica schemes within the scope of the invention. Countless variations of guide indica patterns, logos, and colors are within the scope of this invention. The figures are intended to illustrate certain preferred embodiments.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the placement, composition, and color of the guide indica and how it is activated without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention.

Other embodiments of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice of the invention disclosed herein. It is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with a true scope and spirit of the invention being indicated by the following claims.