News Column

Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Game Controller Hand Grip for Coupling with Associated Support Apparatus", for Approval

August 7, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Computer Weekly News -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventors BARES, WILLIAM (JACKSON, MS); BARES, PETER (LAFAYETTE, LA), filed on January 14, 2013, was made available online on July 24, 2014.

No assignee for this patent application has been made.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "(1) Field of the Invention

"The field of this invention relates to hand-held game controllers and support apparatus to which said hand-held game controllers may be attached for the benefit of handling or operating said game controller in conjunction with said support apparatus. Said support apparatus may subsequently attach to, contain, or otherwise support the user's choice of desired equipment including any one of a portable display device, a mobile computing device, a tablet or slate computing device, or motion-sensing equipment.

"(2) Description of Related Art

"The subject matter discussed in the background section should not be assumed to be prior art merely as a result of its mention in the background section. Similarly, a problem mentioned in the background section or associated with the subject matter of the background section should not be assumed to have been previously recognized in the prior art. The subject matter in the background section merely represents different approaches, which in and of themselves may also be inventions.

"Video game players commonly interact with entertainment software using hand-held game controllers that feature one or more actuators comprising any one or more of buttons or joysticks that generate a corresponding control signal when they are pressed. Some hand-held game controllers also feature embedded motion-sensing equipment that detects physical movement or turning of the entire game controller and generates a corresponding control signal. In some instances, a player may choose to install a hand-held game controller into a holder that is shaped to look or feel like an object that is related to the type of game being played such as a table-tennis racquet. Some existing game controller accessories help enhance one's grip while operating a game controller. Others provide improved aesthetics or ornamental design.

"Portable game machines are hand-held devices that combine into a single integral package the compute processing, game control actuators, display device, and audio output. However, these devices integrate all components so a player cannot separately choose the control actuators, processing unit, display, nor customize its physical configuration such as the angle of the display screen in relation to the integrated game control actuators.

"Mobile computing devices such as cellular telephones, tablets, or slate computers have become a popular platform for experiencing interactive software including video games due to their ubiquity, ease of mobility, and sufficient processing power and real-time graphics rendering capability. However, these mobile computing devices do not include hand-held game controllers since they would clutter the design of what are usually elegant, smooth slabs of glass and metal. One solution is to affix a joystick-shaped physical form onto the screen of the mobile computing device. As the user's fingers push this joystick-shaped form, pressure transferred from the finger causes the touch-sensitive screen of the mobile device to register a push gesture. However, this method cannot fully replicate the physical feel and the number and complexity of control actuators found in hand-held game controllers. In addition, affixing physical buttons and joysticks on-screen partially obscures part of the display and some such designs are subject to slipping loose during play. Another existing solution is to insert the mobile computing device into a specially-designed docking base that contains the physical buttons and joysticks. However, since the game controller actuators are embedded in the docking base, the player is not free to choose the type of game controller to use with his or her mobile computing device. The size and weight of the docking base may limit the ability of the player to move about while holding the docking base and installed mobile computing device. Some have devised adapters that can attach a game controller to a portable game device, to a cell phone, or to a portable display device. However, each of these solutions is intended to operate in a single anticipated physical configuration such as being held by both hands or with an anticipated type and model of attached device.

"Professional video camera operators often utilize specialized support apparatus which we will refer to as camera support apparatus to assist in operating and handling video equipment that is attached to the support apparatus. Many forms of camera support apparatus are commercially available and include, but are not limited to, any combination of one or more of the following components: rods, clamps to attach one rod to another (sometimes at various angles), handles, articulated arms, shoulder pads, and further forms of support apparatus that may attach at least one piece of supported equipment to at least one component of a camera support apparatus. The desired components of camera support apparatus can be readily assembled into a wide variety of configurations to facilitate hand-held or shoulder-resting support for any optionally attached and appropriately-compatible supported equipment. Camera support apparatus typically conforms to industry standards such as the use of rigid, but lightweight cylindrical rods. The rods are commonly 15 millimeters in diameters, but other sizes may be used. These rods are commonly available in varying lengths and may be comprised of a strong, but lightweight material such as aluminum or carbon fiber.

"Rod clamps are another commonly-used camera support assembly component. A rod clamp features at least one aperture whose diameter matches that of the rods. A rod clamp typically includes a hand-turned screw to loosen and tighten the clamp around a rod having been inserted into the aperture of the rod clamp. Multiple rods can be secured together into a wide variety of assemblages using one or more rod clamps. Some rod clamps feature more than one aperture, so more than one rod may be secured.

"Many forms of equipment such as cameras may be attached to a camera support assembly using appropriate fasteners that are commonly in the form of a one-quarter inch-twenty threaded aperture or threaded bolt. The threaded apertures and threaded bolts are often one-quarter inch-twenty threaded, but other sizes and thread configurations may be used. For example, a rod clamp may provide a threaded aperture or threaded bolt onto which an appropriate piece of supported equipment such as a camera may be secured. Alternately, a rod clamp may secure a length of rod that is terminated by a threaded bolt, which in turn is used to secure a camera. Other forms of camera support apparatus components are possible such as the spring-loaded clamping frame seen in FIG. 2C, which is used to secure a mobile computing device. The clamping frame includes a threaded aperture that permits itself and the supported portable computing device to be in turn secured to a camera support assembly.

"With respect to attaching hand-held game controllers to camera support apparatus or generally to other forms of support apparatus, existing game controllers are not designed with the intent of being mounted to support apparatus. Existing game controllers lack an appropriate mount feature (such as the threaded apertures or bolts found in camera support apparatus). Existing game controllers are typically constructed of lightweight plastics which are not strong enough to carry the weight of an attached support apparatus that may in turn carry additional supported equipment. Furthermore, some game controllers have irregular or curved shapes that do not afford their being attached to support apparatus. Many other forms of support apparatus presently exist and are commercially available including, for example, cases or sleeves that fully or partly enclose supported equipment including mobile computing devices. However, existing cases or sleeves designed to enclose supported equipment such as mobile computing devices, portable display screens, etc. provide no facility for attaching a game controller to be used in conjunction with the enclosed supported equipment.

"Presently, no product exists that would enable a user to hold or operate a game controller with an associated support apparatus such that the following utility is provided: i) the fingers of one hand can manipulate the actuators of the attached game controller; and ii) simultaneously allowing the user to freely move or turn while carrying the associated support apparatus and any optionally supported equipment being carried by the support apparatus. A further desirable, but optional feature, is for a product that would enable the user to configure the game controller and associated support apparatus in a variety of handling or operating postures. Different postures include, but are not limited to, holding the game controller and associated support apparatus with a single hand, with two hands, or a combination of one or two hands and resting part of the support apparatus on the user's shoulders to better distribute the combined weight of the support assembly and any optional supported equipment installed in the support assembly. In yet other applications in which the user wishes to operate the supported equipment while holding it below his or her waist or above his or her shoulders, it would be desirable to have the ability to adjust the relative angle between any supported equipment (e.g., portable display device) and the game controller."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter.

"Towards the object of improved game controller handling and additional objects that are made obvious in light of the present disclosure, a hand grip that can accept and attach a game controller for the purpose of handling or operating the user's choice of supported equipment while the user grasps at least one instance of the disclosed hand grip is provided. One preferred embodiment of the disclosed hand grip provides a means by which a support apparatus may be attached to said hand grip. Said support apparatus may attach, enclose, be coupled with or otherwise support a piece of supported equipment. Said supported equipment may include, but is not limited to, at least one of a variety of existing products including a portable display device, mobile computing device, slate computing device, tablet computing device, motion-sensing equipment, or a further support assembly. For example, a user may attach two instances of hand grips to an industry-standard camera support apparatus. Such an exemplar embodiment of the disclosed hand grip would comprise at least one appropriate mount feature to attach the hand grip to the camera support assembly. The user could then freely adjust the camera support assembly as desired to subsequently support a mobile computing device, for example. The user could then enjoy the utility of handling or operating the mobile computing device in conjunction with two game controllers, where each of the two controllers is attached to a hand grip placed on either side of the supported mobile computing device. The disclosed hand grip in all preferred embodiments is designed so that a user can simultaneously grasp a hand grip while his or her fingers can freely manipulate any one or more actuators that may be provided by the attached game controller with a same or other hand, and while he or she is able to carry or operate any optionally attached support apparatus and any further optional supported equipment held by said support apparatus in a coupling with, wearing by or attachment to the user's trunk or limbs.

"One preferred embodiment of the disclosed hand grip comprises an integrated form that includes at least one hand grip and a support assembly. In the case of this integrated embodiment, particular variants on this concept could place mount features at least on the integral support assembly, or at least on at least one integral hand grip, or on both the integral support assembly and on at least one integral hand grip. For example, an embodiment of this integrated concept might feature two hand grips, each of which can accept and attach a game controller, and an integral support assembly in the form of a crossbar that joins and separates each hand grip by a sufficient distance so that a desired mobile computing device may be attached between the hand grips. This exemplar crossbar may in one instance be molded of the same piece of material as the two hand grips or the opposing ends of the crossbar may be integrally joined to each hand grip by a form of ratcheted ball and socket joint that would permit some degree of adjustment of the angle between the integral hand grip and the integral crossbar. The mobile computing device could be supported by a separate form of support apparatus such as an articulated arm, one end of which may attach to a mount feature on the crossbar and the other to the mobile computing device or an appropriate case that encloses the mobile computing device.

"The following summarizes general characteristics desirable of the various disclosed preferred embodiments. A hand grip in this disclosure is shaped and sized to be proportionate to the space enclosed by the four curled fingers of a single human hand, and may generally be, in whole or in part, rectangular, bar-shaped or cylindrical form in certain preferred embodiments of the present invention. Optionally, alternatively or additionally the invented hand grip is shaped and sized to be proportionate to the space enclosed by the four curled fingers of a single human hand while coupled with a game controller or a mobile computing device. Still additionally, optionally or alternatively the invented hand grip may shaped and sized to be proportionate to the space enclosed by the four curled fingers of an adult single human adult hand while coupled with a game controller or a mobile computing device, in the alternative the invented hand grip may shaped and sized to be proportionate to the space enclosed by the four curled fingers of a single human child's hand while coupled with a game controller or a mobile computing device A hand grip in this disclosure is sized and shaped so as to offer a seating surface that contacts at least one surface of a game controller. A hand grip in this disclosure provides one or more means (employed singly or in combination) to accomplish the function of attaching a hand-held game controller to a hand grip. Embodiments of a hand grip may therefore utilize a seating surface made of or coated by a material that resists movement of said game controller while it is in contact with said seating surface, a seating surface having a concave shape that helps keep the game controller from moving out of contact with the seating surface, a seating surface having sides that apply pressure on opposing sides of the installed game controller, or a fastening mechanism that applies pressure onto the game controller to press it fixedly into contact with the seating surface. A hand grip in this disclosure is shaped such that a user's fingers can freely access and manipulate any one or more of the actuators of a game controller while it is fixedly attached to said hand grip. A hand grip in this disclosure is shaped and sized so that a user can securely grasp the hand grip and an attached game controller while the fingers of this same grasping hand simultaneously contact or manipulate any one or more actuators provided by the attached game controller and while the user is free to move about carrying the support apparatus that is optionally attached to said hand grip and in turn any optionally attached supported equipment. In descriptions of embodiments that integrate hand grip and support apparatus, it is understood that appropriate references to properties of a hand grip such having a seating surface to accept a game controller can be read as to also apply to any portion of the integral hand grip and support assembly embodiment at which the user will grasp with his or her hand.

"The means for attaching a separate support apparatus to a mount feature may, for example, consist of an appropriate threaded aperture, threaded bolt, clamping mechanism, magnetic lock, or other mechanisms that provide a similar function. In another embodiment of the disclosed hand grip, the hand grip's mount feature may be an appropriately compatible point of contact which affords itself to being secured by the mount feature mechanism of a support apparatus.

"This disclosure does not claim game controllers, industry-standard camera support assemblies, nor supported equipment such as mobile computing devices, portable display screens, or motion-tracking equipment all of which are known to prior art and commercially available. Examples of these work pieces will appear in the disclosed figures for the purpose of providing examples of how embodiments of the disclosed hand grip may be put into practical use.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

"FIG. 1A. Side view of the first embodiment of the hand grip with seating surface appropriately shaped to receive a hand-held game controller. In this example the seating surface is curved and concave to afford a compatible match for the underside of the game controller shown.

"FIG. 1B. Side and overhead views of first embodiment of hand grip seen in the previous figure.

"FIG. 2A. Perspective view of second embodiment of the hand grip with largely flat seating surface.

"FIG. 2B. Side view of a second embodiment of the hand grip shown with optional straps added to help secure a game controller to the hand grip.

"FIG. 2C. Front view of a second embodiment of the hand grip (with attached game controller) attached to a support apparatus consisting of a cylindrical rod, rod clamps, a rubberized handle, and a clamping frame that secures a mobile computing device to the support apparatus.

"FIG. 2D. Side and overhead views of a second embodiment of the invented hand grip.

"FIG. 3A. Perspective view of a third embodiment of the hand grip having a seating surface whose raised sides help press against an installed game controller from opposing sides.

"FIG. 3B. Perspective view of a third embodiment of the hand grip attached to a shoulder-carried camera support apparatus that in turn carries a portable display device and reflective motion-tracking markers. Since this embodiment offers a single mount feature at the lower end of the hand grip, additional camera support assembly components are used to lower the hand grip to the same level as a user's outstretched arm in front of his or her body.

"FIG. 4A. Perspective view of a fourth embodiment as an integral design comprising of dual hand grips and a support apparatus bar that joins the two hand grips.

"FIG. 4B. Perspective view of a fourth embodiment as an integral design where we see a game controller is attached to each of the hand grips. An articulated arm support apparatus is attached to the mount feature on the upper side of the integral support apparatus bar. The articulated arm in turn is attached to a second support apparatus, a clamping frame, which contains a mobile computing device. The example clamping frame offers a compatible mount for attachment to the articulated arm.

"FIG. 4C. Perspective view of a variation of the fourth embodiment as an integral design where the mount feature comprises one or more slots into which is inserted an instance of supported equipment such as a tablet device."

For additional information on this patent application, see: BARES, WILLIAM; BARES, PETER. Game Controller Hand Grip for Coupling with Associated Support Apparatus. Filed January 14, 2013 and posted July 24, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=1793&p=36&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140717.PD.&OS=PD/20140717&RS=PD/20140717

Keywords for this news article include: Patents, Software.

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Source: Computer Weekly News


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