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Title:
INTERNAL SHOCK-ABSORBING APPARATUS FOR IMPACT SPORT BALLS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/160811
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A game ball apparatus comprises a substantially spherical housing having an internal storage area and an external surface. The internal storage area stores an object therein. The housing includes a plurality of apertures positioned at the external surface. At least one of the plurality of apertures is designed to receive and remove the object therethrough. An inflation valve is positioned at the external surface to inflate the housing. A non- pressurized passageway is positioned at the internal storage area. The object received at the at least one of the plurality of apertures passes through the non-pressurized passageway and is stored in the internal storage area. At least one inwardly projecting fin firmly secures the at least one object at the internal storage area utilizing frictional force. A shock-absorbing element at the passageway provides rigidity to the housing.

Inventors:
PENNISI, Anthony, J. L. (PO Box 2323, Paradise, CA, 95967, US)
Application Number:
US2015/025756
Publication Date:
October 22, 2015
Filing Date:
April 14, 2015
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
PENNISI, Anthony, J. L. (PO Box 2323, Paradise, CA, 95967, US)
PENNISI, Anthony, J. (352 Camino Canoa, Rio Rico, AZ, 85648, US)
International Classes:
A63B41/00; A63B43/00
Foreign References:
US5102131A1992-04-07
US3229976A1966-01-18
FR2797776A12001-03-02
US4776589A1988-10-11
US3106397A1963-10-08
US4232477A1980-11-11
US5041047A1991-08-20
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TEMMERMAN, Mathew, J. (Temmerman Law Office, One Market Street Spear Tower,36th Floor, San Francisco California, 94105, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A game ball apparatus comprising:

a housing having an internal storage area and an external surface, the internal storage area stores at least one object therein, the housing comprising:

a plurality of apertures positioned at the external surface, at least one of the plurality of apertures being designed to receive and remove the at least one object therethrough;

an inflation valve positioned at the external surface to inflate the housing, the inflation valve being in fluid communication with the internal storage area;

a non-pressurized passageway positioned at the internal storage area, the at least one object received at the at least one of the plurality of apertures passes through the passageway and is stored in the internal storage area, the passageway facilitates the insertion and removal of the at least one object when the housing being in an inflated state;

at least one inwardly projecting fin positioned at the internal storage area, the at least one inwardly projecting fin extends longitudinally down the length of the passageway, the at least one inwardly projecting fin firmly secures the at least one object at the internal storage area utilizing frictional force; and

a shock absorbing element at the passageway to provide rigidity to the housing;

whereby the at least one inwardly projecting fin frictionally engages the at least one object inside the internal storage area thereby securing the at least one object in place even when the game ball being used by a user.

2. The game ball apparatus of claim 1 wherein the housing is substantially spherical shaped.

3. The game ball apparatus of claim 1 wherein the non-pressurized passageway includes a plurality of end portions.

4. The game ball apparatus of claim 3 wherein each of the plurality of end portions is connected with each of the plurality of apertures.

5. A game ball apparatus comprising:

a housing having an internal storage area and an external surface, the internal storage area stores at least one object therein, the housing comprising:

a plurality of apertures positioned at the external surface, at least one of the plurality of apertures being designed to receive and remove the at least one object therethrough;

an inflation valve positioned at the external surface to inflate the housing, the inflation valve being in fluid communication with the internal storage area;

a non-pressurized passageway positioned at the internal storage area, the non-pressurized passageway includes a plurality of end portions, the at least one object received at the at least one of the plurality of apertures passes through the non-pressurized passageway and is stored in the internal storage area, the passageway facilitates the insertion and removal of the at least one object when the housing being in an inflated state;

at least one inwardly projecting fin positioned at the internal storage area, the at least one inwardly projecting fin extends longitudinally down the length of the non-pressurized passageway, the at least one inwardly projecting fin firmly secures the at least one object at the internal storage area utilizing frictional force; and a shock absorbing element at the passageway to provide rigidity to the housing;

whereby the at least one inwardly projecting fin frictionally engages the at least one object inside the internal storage area thereby securing the object in place even when the game ball being used by a user.

6. The game ball apparatus of claim 5 wherein the housing is substantially spherical shaped.

7. The game ball apparatus of claim 5 wherein each of the plurality of end portions is connected with each of the plurality of apertures.

8. The game ball apparatus of claim 5 wherein the plurality of apertures is designed to receive the at least one object therethrough while the game ball is in a used state and in an unused state.

9. A game ball apparatus for sport and recreation, the game ball apparatus comprising:

a substantially spherical housing having an internal storage area and an external surface, the internal storage area stores at least one object therein, the housing comprising:

a plurality of apertures positioned at the external surface, at least one of the plurality of apertures being designed to receive and remove the at least one object therethrough;

an inflation valve positioned at the external surface to inflate the housing, the inflation valve being in fluid communication with the internal storage area;

a non-pressurized passageway positioned at the internal storage area, the non-pressurized passageway includes a plurality of end portions, each of the plurality of end portions being connected with each of the plurality of apertures, the at least one object received at the at least one of the plurality of apertures passes through the non-pressurized passageway and is stored in the internal storage area, the passageway facilitates the insertion and removal of the at least one object when the housing being in an inflated state;

at least one inwardly projecting fin positioned at the internal storage area, the at least one inwardly projecting fin extends longitudinally down the length of the non-pressurized passageway, the at least one inwardly projecting fin firmly secures the at least one object at the internal storage area utilizing factional force; and a shock absorbing element at the passageway to provide rigidity to the housing; whereby the at least one inwardly projecting fin frictionally engages the at least one object inside the internal storage area thereby securing the at least one object in place even when the game ball being used by a user.

10. The game ball apparatus of claim 9 wherein the plurality of apertures is designed to receive the at least one object therethrough while the game ball is in a used state and in an unused state.

Description:
INTERNAL SHOCK- ABSORBING APPARATUS FOR IMPACT SPORT BALLS

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority to United States Provisional Patent Application 61/979250, filed April 14, 2014. That patent application is incorporated herein in its entirety as if set out in full.

BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE DISCLOSURE

[0002] The present embodiment relates generally to sports and recreational devices, and more particularly to a pressurized game ball apparatus having a non-pressurized passageway and a plurality of inwardly projecting structural fins for securing objects within the ball.

DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART

[0003] Specially designed game balls incorporating usable spaces therein are well known in the art. These usable spaces are utilized to store game objects, decorative objects, lights, and the like. The items placed inside the ball or other game device may be for purposes of entertainment or modifications to the sports game. In some cases, a light source may be placed inside the object, which makes the ball or other game device easier to see in darkness. With the recent advances and improvements in battery technology and light emitting diode (LED) technology, such game balls are becoming more popular.

[0004] One such game ball includes a pliable translucent plastic and an interior tube that houses a battery powered light source. The interior tube spans the diameter of the ball and includes caps on each end so that the battery- powered light source stays secured therein. This game ball does not possess the capability to allow for the insertion or removal of illuminating objects nor does the patent disclose a means for securing them during vigorous use. Further, the disclosed ball does not include illustrations on the inner surface of the outer wall that are illuminated by an internal light source.

[0005] Another embodiment describes an inflatable boxing glove with a casing having an axially disposed sleeve that is open only on one end and which is encompassed by an annular cylindrical band to which bell shaped end shell sections are fixed along the opposing edges. The bell shaped sections are provided with axial openings in which the ends of the sleeve are fixed. When the boxing glove is inflated via an air valve provided in the casing, air pressure on the interior sleeve secures a user's hand in the approximate center of the casing.

[0006] Yet another embodiment describes a chemical lighting assembly comprising a translucent, flexible glove and spherically shaped chemiluminescent device inserted into the globe. The device comprises two separate side -by-side semi-circular chambers, each with one liquid component of the two component chemiluminescent system. In operation, the user manually activates an activator that interconnects the two chambers such that the two liquid components are mixed, thereby causing a light- producing reaction.

[0007] Still another embodiment describes a foot bag comprising a flexible outer skin composed of a translucent plastic material and an interior filled with translucent or fluorescent beads. An aperture provided in the skin has a diameter that permits a chemiluminescent light stick to be inserted into the foot bag. A generally cylindrical translucent sack is connected to the aperture and extends into the interior of the foot bag. A partially attached flexible flap covers the aperture and is permanently secured to the skin at a portion of the perimeter of the aperture, and only temporarily secured to other portions of the perimeter via a hook and loop type fastener. Retention of the light stick within this foot bag requires the flap to be closed and secured via the hook and loop fasteners, and the ball is not pressurized.

[0008] Another embodiment describes an improved game foot bag including an opening of sufficient diameter to receive a light stick. Yet another method describes a translucent or transparent game ball comprising a pressurized ball having a non- pressurized passageway for securing interior lights for illuminating the ball in dark conditions. The passageway includes numerous structural features that extend inwardly to frictionally engage objects in the passageway, which has a pair of ends that do not extend to be flush with the outer surface of the ball. The passageway runs diametrically across from nearly end-to-end and is all molded as one piece. The shaft is fabricated from the same material as the rest of the ball and houses a light assembly with a removable battery. Light sources may be used inside the ball such as an electric light or a chemiluminescent substance and are secured in place upon inflation of the ball, wherein the passageway contracts around the light assembly to hold it securely in place. The ends of the passageway are not flush with the surface of the ball because a flush mounted cap closure for sealing out water is present instead.

[0009] Still another embodiment describes an inflatable toy comprising a first inner balloon encompassed by a partially transparent second outer balloon. A passageway connects the stem of the outer balloon to the inner balloon, thereby allowing the equalization of air pressure between the two. The ball may be pressurized by filling either balloon with air, which via the passageway allows the pressurized air to inflate both. The inner balloon may include an illustration such as a well-known image, cartoon character, and the like.

[0010] Yet another embodiment describes an illuminated balloon assembly comprising a balloon having a main body with a neck portion and a light assembly including an electric lamp attachable to the outer surface of the balloon such that the light emitted from the electric lamp is directed through an interior chamber of the balloon thereby effectively illuminating the balloon and any illustration printed thereon. Another method describes a game ball comprising a central shaft that receives a chemiluminescent light stick for illumination purposes.

[0011] Most of the above-mentioned conventional balls and other devices equipped to receive removable components suffer from certain disadvantages. In conventional systems, a rigid tube diametrically runs through the center of the flexible ball. However, the presence of the tube can disrupt the weight, balance, and bouncing characteristics of the ball. Furthermore, due to the rigid nature of the tube, if the ball is bounced such that its orientation upon landing on the ground compresses the ball longitudinally along the length of the tube, the rigid tube would resist the compression and the ball would fail to bounce properly. Alternatively, the rigid tube potentially causes greater bounce-back and the ball or other game device bounces higher than expected. In either case, the ball may not bounce properly every time, potentially causing frustration to the user.

[0012] One solution to overcome the above-shortcomings involves the use of a flanged gasket. In this solution, an inflatable gasket is used, where a primary point on the inflatable gasket is secured by a second component opposite the flange. On such devices, when the tube is manufactured, a circular groove around the flange is manufactured and then molten rubber in injected therein, holding everything together.

[0013] There is thus a need for a non-pressurized ball apparatus having a non- pressurized passageway for securing objects within the ball. Such an apparatus would include a plurality of inwardly projecting structural fins that frictionally engage a variety of objects when placed inside the passageway. Such a needed apparatus would include a passageway that causes minimum disruption to the ball's weight, balance, and bouncing characteristics. Such a game ball apparatus would include a passageway for capturing a light source that illuminates the illustrations attached on the inner lining of the outer surface of the game ball. The present embodiment accomplishes these objectives.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

[0014] To minimize the limitations found in the prior art, and to minimize other limitations that will be apparent upon the reading of this specification, the preferred embodiment of the present invention provides a pressurized game or play ball apparatus for sport and recreation. The game ball apparatus comprises a substantially spherical housing having an internal storage area and an external surface. The internal storage area stores at least one object therein. The housing includes a plurality of apertures positioned at the external surface. At least one of the plurality of apertures is designed to receive and remove the at least one object therethrough. An inflation valve is positioned at the external surface to inflate the housing. The inflation valve is in fluid communication with the internal storage area. A non-pressurized passageway is positioned at the internal storage area. The non-pressurized passage way includes a plurality of end portions. Each of the plurality of end portions is connected with each of the plurality of apertures. [0015] The at least one object received at the at least one of the plurality of apertures passes through the non-pressurized passageway and is stored in the internal storage area. The passageway facilitates the insertion and removal of the at least one object when the housing is in an inflated state. At least one inwardly projecting fin positioned at the internal storage area. The at least one inwardly projecting fin extends longitudinally down the length of the non-pressurized passageway. The at least one inwardly projecting fin firmly secures the at least one object at the internal storage area utilizing frictional force. The housing further comprises a shock-absorbing element at the passage way to provide rigidity to the housing.

[0016] The at least one inwardly projecting fin frictionally engages the at least one object inside the internal storage area thereby securing the at least one object in place even when the game ball is used by a user. The plurality of apertures is designed to receive the at least one object therethrough while the game ball is in a used state and in an unused state. The at least one object placed inside the internal storage area may be character figurines, toys, weights, light sources and generally any object suitably sized for fitment in the interior space of the game ball. In an embodiment wherein a light source is secured inside, the inner lining of the outside of the game ball may include illustrations thereon, and these illustrations are illuminated by the internal light source so that they project to the outer surface of the game ball for the entertainment of the user.

[0017] A first objective of the present invention is to provide a game ball apparatus having a non-pressurized passageway for securing objects within the game ball.

[0018] A second objective of the present invention is to provide a game ball apparatus to provide a game ball with a passageway that causes only minimum disruption to the ball's weight, balance and bouncing characteristics.

[0019] A third objective of the present invention is to provide a game ball apparatus with a passageway for capturing a light source that illuminates illustrations affixed on the inner lining of an external surface of the game ball.

[0020] A fourth objective of the present invention is to provide a game ball apparatus having a plurality of inwardly projecting structural fins that frictionally engages a variety of objects that may be placed at an internal storage compartment.

[0021 ] These and other advantages and features of the present invention are described with specificity so as to make the present invention understandable to one of ordinary skill in the art.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0022] Elements in the figures have not necessarily been drawn to scale in order to enhance their clarity and improve understanding of these various elements and embodiments of the invention. Furthermore, elements that are known to be common and well understood to those in the industry are not depicted in order to provide a clear view of the various embodiments of the invention, thus the drawings are generalized in form in the interest of clarity and conciseness.

[0023] FIG. 1 is a cross sectional view of a preferred embodiment of a game ball in accordance with the present invention; [0024] FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view of the game ball taken along cutline A— A shown in FIG. 1 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0025] FIG. 3A is a perspective view of the game ball, illustrating a shock absorbing element having a corrugated structure according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0026] FIG. 3B is a perspective view of another embodiment of the game ball, illustrating the shock absorbing element arranged as a series of rings according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0027] FIG. 3C is a perspective view of another embodiment of the game ball, illustrating the shock absorbing element arranged as a series of cylinders according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0028] FIG. 3D is a perspective view of another embodiment of a non-pressurized passageway, illustrating the passageway having a tendril configuration according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0029] FIG. 3E is a perspective view of another embodiment of the non-pressurized passageway, illustrating the passageway having a resilient panel according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0030] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the game ball, illustrating a non-pressurized passageway having the tendril configuration as shown in FIG. 3D according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0031] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the present invention, illustrating a non-pressurized passageway resembling a cartoon character according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0032] FIG. 6 is a partially cut-away view of another embodiment of the present invention, illustrating a non-pressurized passageway holding a light stick according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0033] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the present invention, illustrating a non-pressurized game ball having a plurality of welded panels according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention; [0034] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a multiple internal seam configuration for a non-pressurized passageway according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and

[0035] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a single internal seam configuration for a non-pressurized passageway according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS [0036] In the following discussion that addresses a number of embodiments and applications of the present invention, reference is made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention.

[0037] Various inventive features are described below that can each be used independently of one another or in combination with other features. However, any single inventive feature may not address any of the problems discussed above or only address one of the problems discussed above. Further, one or more of the problems discussed above may not be fully addressed by any of the features described below.

[0038] Turning first to FIG. 1, a game ball apparatus for sport and recreation according to the present invention is illustrated in different views and generally designated by the reference numeral 10. The game ball apparatus 10 comprises a substantially spherical housing 12 having an internal storage area 16 and an external surface 14. The internal storage area 16 is designed to store at least one object 98 (See FIG. 4) therein. The at least one object 98 stored inside the internal storage area 16 may be character figurines, toys, weights, light sources and generally any object suitably sized for fitment in the internal storage area 16 of the game ball 10. The housing 12 comprises a plurality of apertures 18 positioned at the external surface 14 wherein at least one of the plurality of apertures 18 is designed to receive and remove the at least one object 98 therethrough. An inflation valve 110 (See FIG. 4) is positioned at the external surface 14 to inflate the housing 12. The inflation valve 110 (See FIG. 4) is in fluid communication with the internal storage area 16. A non-pressurized passageway 20 is positioned at the internal storage area 16.

[0039] The non-pressurized passage way 20 includes a plurality of end portions 26, 28 and each of the plurality of end portions is connected with each of the plurality of apertures 18. The at least one object 98 received at the at least one of the plurality of apertures 18 passes through the non-pressurized passageway 20 and is stored in the internal storage area 16. The plurality of apertures 18 is designed to receive the at least one object 98 therethrough while the game ball 10 is in a used state and in an unused state. The passageway 20 facilitates the insertion and removal of the at least one object 98 when the housing 12 is in an inflated state. Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the spherical housing 12 further comprises at least one inwardly projecting fin 22 positioned at the internal storage area 16. The at least one inwardly projecting fin 22 extends longitudinally down the length of the non-pressurized passageway 20 as shown best in FIG. 1. The at least one inwardly projecting fin 22 firmly secures the at least one object 98 at the internal storage area 16 utilizing frictional force. The at least one inwardly projecting fin 22 frictionally engages the at least one object 98 inside the internal storage area 16 thereby securing the at least one object 98 in place even when the game ball 10 is used by a user.

[0040] Each of the plurality of apertures 18 terminates at the passageway 20 as shown in FIG. 1. In the preferred embodiment, the plurality of end portions includes a first end 26 and a second end 28. These end portions 26, 28 do not require a closing cap as these ends portions 26, 28 are integrated with the external surface 14 of the housing 12.

[0041] As shown in FIG. 1, the non-pressurized passage way 20 includes a shock absorbing element 24 at the passageway 20 to provide rigidity to the housing 12. The shock absorbing element 24 at each of the plurality of apertures 18 compensate for the rigidity of the housing otherwise imparted to the game ball 10 by the presence of the passageway 20 and the inwardly projecting fins 22. In one configuration of the present invention as depicted in FIG. 3A, a game ball 30 includes a shock absorbing element 34 having a corrugated structure formed on at least one segment of the passageway 36. The corrugated structure comprises radially outward crests 46 and are separated and connected by intervening valleys. The game ball 30 comprises an internal storage area 40 and an external surface 42. The internal storage area 40 includes a plurality of apertures 32 and at least one inwardly projecting fin 38 to securely hold at least one object 98 (See FIG. 4)·

[0042] FIG. 3B shows another configuration of the present invention. In this configuration, a game ball 50 includes a housing 64 having an internal storage area 54 and an external surface 52. The internal storage area 54 includes a non-pressurized passageway 60, a plurality of apertures 56 and at least one fin 62. As shown in FIG. 3B, the shock absorbing element 34 depicted in FIG. 3A is replaced with a series of rings 58 of decreasing diameter. Although FIG. 3B illustrates a plurality of rings 58 of decreasing diameter, the rings 58 also can be arranged in the order of increasing diameter such that the ring 58 with largest diameter comes close to middle portion of the game ball 50.

[0043] FIG. 3C illustrates yet another configuration of the present invention. In this configuration, a game ball 70 includes a housing 84 having a shock absorbing element 78 arranged in the form of a plurality of cylinders 86. The plurality of cylinders 86 is arranged in the decreasing order of their diameter. Although FIG. 3C depicts cylinders 86 of decreasing diameter, the cylinders 86 can be arranged in the order of increasing diameter such that the cylinder 86 with largest diameter comes close to middle portion of the game ball 70. The housing 84 further comprises a plurality of apertures 76, an external surface 72 and an internal storage area 74 with a passageway 80 and at least one fin 82.

[0044] FIG. 3D is a perspective view of another configuration of a non-pressurized passageway 94. In this configuration, the non-pressurized passageway 94 includes a tendril configuration 90 having four substantially equally spaced and inwardly projecting fins 92. These flexible fins 92 serve to frictionally engage variety of objects of various diameters inserted through the passageway 94.

[0045] FIG. 3E is a perspective view of yet another configuration of a non- pressurized passageway 100. In this configuration, the passageway 100 is a resilient panel 102 attached to the interior sides 104 of the non-pressurized passageway 100 for releasably capturing objects of suitable size. The captured objects force the resilient panel 102 towards one side and at the same time, the resilient panel 102 urges the objects against the other side to hold the objects firmly in place.

[0046] In yet another configuration, the non-pressurized passageway 20 (FIG. 1) is made of a very thin membrane-like material. This membrane material causes little change in the bouncing characteristics of the game ball 10 (FIG. 1) even if the game ball 10 is bounced directly on one of the plurality of apertures 18. Not only this passageway material is very light and thin, but also is strong and highly resistant to tearing.

[0047] In another configuration of the passageway 20, the at least one object 98 (FIG. 4) inserted into the passageway 20 is a light source. In this embodiment, the passageway may be referred to as a flexible light tube. Here, the external surface 14 (FIG. 1) of the game ball 10 has an outwardly facing portion and an inwardly facing portion. An illustration having an image is affixed on either the outward facing portion or on the inwardly facing portion, or on both. When the light source inside the flexible light tube is activated, the illustration on the outer wall of the game ball 10 gets illuminated. The image is projected to the outside of the game ball 10 and is visible to the user. The light source may be of any color or may change during usage, such as when the game ball 10 is bounced, struck, or otherwise subjected to gravitational forces normally associated with play.

[0048] In yet another configuration, the at least one object 98 inserted within the game ball is a miniature projector in combination with a light source. Here, an image may be selected by the user and is then projected on the external surface 14 of the game ball 10. In this embodiment, the external surface 14 is coated with a material selected from a group consisting of a translucent material, a white material, a fluorescent material or any other suitable material that easily displays the projected image. In certain embodiments, the entire external surface 14 of the game ball 10 is coated with the material while in certain other embodiments the inward facing side of the external surface 14 is coated with the material. The image projected may also vary based on game conditions, such as the gravitational forces on the game ball 10 or a timer. [0049] FIG. 4 is a perspective view showing the preferred embodiment of the game ball 10 having the at least one object 98 inserted into the non-pressurized passageway 94. In this configuration, the passageway 94 at the internal storage area 16 has the tendril configuration 90 featuring the plurality of flexible fins 92 illustrated in FIG. 3D. As shown in FIG. 4, the inflation valve 110 which is in fluid communication with the pressurized chamber 112 of the game ball 10 is separated from the non-pressurized passageway 94 and has a non-permeable barrier to prevent gas escape. The passageway 94 is preferably rigid or semi-rigid, or at least of a sufficient diameter so that the passageway 94 is not itself distorted by inflation of the game ball 10 so much as to capture the at least one object 98, rather, it is the presence of the inwardly projecting structural features such as longitudinal fin which serve to frictionally engage the at least one object. In the preferred embodiment, the plurality of apertures 96A, 96B is either integrated with the external surface 14 of the game ball 10 or recessed from the external surface 14. The game ball 10 is preferably transparent, semi-transparent, or translucent, so that illumination from the light source will be effective.

[0050] FIG. 5 is a perspective view showing another configuration of a game ball 120 having a housing 132 with an external surface 122 and an internal storage area 124. A non-pressurized passageway 128 is positioned at the internal storage area 124. At the time of manufacture, the non-pressurized passageway 128 can be formed to resemble objects of many shapes or can be formed for display of viewable elements. For this configuration also, the material for passageway is transparent or semi-transparent so that a chemiluminescent light stick or other light source is able to illuminate the at least one object 126 and/or markings affixed on the at least one object 126.

[0051] The at least one object 126 may be bust and profile of famous persons and celebrities, monsters, landscapes, and cartoon characters, such as character. In this configuration, the housing 132 is preferably transparent or semi-transparent, so that the at least one object 126 can be viewed without any obstruction. Optionally, the displayed object 126 may be configured to spin inside the housing 132. The passageway 128 is constructed to include a ball bearing ring 130 or other support to allow the object 126 to spin about the passageway axis. The spinning motion is imparted by external spinning of the game ball 120 itself, or by incorporation of a pull string or spring to spin the object 126 directly.

[0052] The object 126 placed inside the internal storage area may be character figurines, toys, weights, light sources and generally any object suitably sized for fitment in the interior space of the game ball 120. In an embodiment wherein a light source is secured inside, the inner lining of the outside of the game ball 120 may include illustrations thereon, and these illustrations are illuminated by the internal light source so that they project to the outer surface of the game ball 10 for the entertainment of the user.

[0053] FIG. 6 shows a partially cut-away view in elevation of a game ball 140, which would be suitable for playing a volleyball game. The game ball 140 includes a non- pressurized passageway 150. The game ball 140 includes a housing 152 having an external surface 142, an internal storage area 144 and an inflation valve 146. The non-pressurized passageway 150 holding a light stick 148 is located at the internal storage area 144. This game ball 140 is an 18-panel volleyball made from heavy vinyl using a heat-sealing machine to weld the panels together. In this configuration, the passageway 150 is designed to capture the light stick 148 only when the game ball 140 is inflated to a given pressure and releases the light stick when the game ball 140 is deflated.

[0054] FIG. 7 illustrates a radio frequency welded polyvinyl chloride (PVC) chambered inflatable game ball 160 having a non-pressurized passageway 174. The game ball 160 is designed as a beach ball. The game ball 160 includes a housing 176 having an external surface 162, an internal storage area 164 and an inflation valve 172. In this configuration, the game ball 160 has welded panels or alternatively, halves or a single welded edge. An end portion 166 of the passageway 174 includes a cap seal expansion 168 which is set into and approximated to at least one fin 178 of an aperture 170 through which the passageway 174 is inserted. A radio frequency (RF) welder is then placed at the intersection of the cap seal expansion and at the at least one fin 178 and finally, the passageway 174 is activated.

[0055] As will be appreciated, the manufacturing steps to create the above-mentioned game ball 160 include: (a) cutting panels according to ball design requirements; (b) forming a tube from a flat sheet of flexible material; (c) rolling and sealing the material into a tube shape; (d) attaching end caps on each end of the tube; (e) assembling the panels (except for the final seam) so that the panels collectively form a sphere having north and south poles; (f) attaching an air valve to a panel; (g) attaching one end cap to one of the poles of the ball; and (h) attaching the other end cap to the other pole of the game ball 160 with a hinge seal.

[0056] FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a multiple internal fin embodiment 180 for a non-pressurized passageway to capture at least one object. This internal fin grip configuration 180 is particularly well suited for use with welded vinyl balls such as beach balls. A plurality of fins 184 and a plurality of edges 186 extend generally radially inwardly relative to the passageway 182.

[0057] FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a single internal seam embodiment 190 for a non-pressurized passageway for capturing objects. A seam 196 and a plurality of free or untrimmed edges 194 extend radially inwardly to provide the desired structural feature for frictional engagement. This seam embodiment may be constructed in the following manner: a length of plastic sheet is folded in half, and a weld is placed down the length of the sheet a slight distance from the free edges, but leaving the edges themselves unattached. The resultant tube like structure is then pulled inside out to create a generally cylindrical passageway 192 with the radially inward-directed seam 196 and the plurality of edges 194, which create a grip for objects inserted therein.

[0058] An image can be printed on the internal storage area 16 (FIG. 1) or on the external surface 14 (FIG. 1) of the game ball 10 (FIG. 1). It can also be located around the cylindrical opening through the middle potion of the game ball 10. Also, the inside of the game ball 10 could be coated or made from a reflective material such as silver oxide mixed with the plastic of the ball and then a mini projector inside the ball can project an image against a colorant. Further, the entire game ball apparatus 10 can also be sewn into a fabric or a plastic cover can be utilized to enclose the entire outer surface 14 as in a soccer ball.

[0059] The foregoing description of the preferred embodiment of the present invention has been presented for the purpose of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teachings. It is intended that the scope of the present invention not be limited by this detailed description, but by the claims and the equivalents to the claims appended hereto.