The Making of Basculo

Exercising can be fun if done with others and only for some. Doing it alone is more than a chore. Anything that can make the activity less than “mandatory” can only lead to build up the necessary confidence to perform the task more frequently and with a due rhythm. The last two are key to actually gain any benefit fro the activities.

A gaming experience meshed within some type of workout is hardly a nuance those days. However, as all fads the excitement tend to fade out when the link between the investment in time and sweat doesn’t balance with the perceived results.

With that, I set to build something that could be multi purpose, easy to store and shareable regardless of the body size.

Entering... BASCULO. The word tipping in Italian is translated with bascolare. That is what I picked for codename of a device that among other things let you exercise the core of your body while playing games that keep your mind busy. The idea is far from being "new", as matter of fact I own two of this and I also participated to their kickstarter when it came out years ago.

You place a smartphone on the board and using your balance and weight play a game. However, I found that with that device there are the following limitations:

  • You can't stand on it like on a bosu ball. They have warnings all over the device about that.
  • If you do push ups before the plan your elbows are pushed out of the platform under the resistance of gravity
  • The pads are neither soft nor grippy making you slipping off if you plan for more than ~2+ minutes
  • Overall you body built and the design conflict a lot so your milage vary with usage
  • It's too expensive for one activity device

I wanted to fix those things and in the process I unearthed many other options that the team behind those devices have not put in focus.

This invention is patent pending US9136092C2. However, in my usual spirit of sharing innovation and fostering improvements, let me tell you the story of how all this came about.

The design started with a semi triangle shape but after talking to folks coming out of several gyms I ended up on the oldest shape of the human race. A CIRCLE. That addresses the storage issue as it is easier to store when compared to existing options.

Regardless of the shape there are three staples components of the design that are:
  • An extrusion that host the phone where a custom app runs for the coaching and fun. The extrusion have chambers on the side to echo the speaker's audio of the phone to leverage 3D spacial sound techniques. 
  • Sunken silicon pads to host and hold the elbows if planking or to host the feet if doing balancing exercises standing on the top
  • Cut outs to have anchors for hands when necessary
  • The surface changes color when the body heat increases which produce chromotherapy benefits.

The initial rudimental thought was not taking in accounts some of those ideas, as the early sketch of the idea shows.

Making the whole surface floatable was crucial. I had initially calculated angles based on various constrains that later I revisited due to forces and inertial shifts that were less heavy that I had originally estimated.

The base of the device had to be smooth enough to oscillate in any direction with the same degree of curvature at same time strong enough to handle heavy duty body weight. One device to rule them all. The choice ended up being a bowling ball.

My mom (70) was the leading inspiration has per many other evolution of my design and life. Grazie Mama!

My wonderful cousin Ciro kindly helped me to speak to the owner of the local bowling place where I was spending the holidays. I retrieved a dismissed bowl that served wonderfully the purpose. Ciro wasn’t as lucky as my mom’s and brother in ending up on the podium for our traditional bowling throw and brag ritual.

My youth old friend Vincenzo Colonnese kindly allowed the use of his heavy metal shop to cut the bowl. 

The material inside the bowl is different based on the effect that one is aiming for performance and weight. Generally speaking bowling balls are made of four main different types of Coverstocks-Plastic, Urethane, Reactive Resin, and Particle (Proactive). The big difference between these coverstock materials is how they perform and react on the lane's surface when they are thrown. As matter of fact, the making of a bowling ball is quite fascinating.

The base of the device ended up being a cutting board with a lazy Susan support. The reason why I went with that and not just the board is because I wanted the center of the device to have double support to hold the ball, raise the from the ground and avoiding that it would split in half. The screws in the center could have put strain on the very soft wood that the cutting board.

My partners in crime (Bro on the left and cousin on the right) were huge supporter of this prototype making, while spending time with family in Italy.

The assembling of all parts was pretty straightforward. I removed the plastic layer that allows the lazy susan to work. 

Then we locked the bottom using four screws that would not exit the other side.

We then improvised a holding phone socket with a slut we found around the garden. In my US invention shop I have everything a maker can desire but at mom's I had to just do what I used to when I was in trouble and asked for explanation of my misbehavior. Improvise and hope it would work.

We used four screws from the top and some nail glue in the holes to make sure that the body of the bowl was going to become one piece for the whole structure.

Then we tested it using a young floppy man (bro) and a stronger older man (Mom's partner). 

Feedback were pretty solid despite of the very large skepticism that initially sported from the moment that I floated the idea over our whatsapp family channel. But that would not be a new thing for me :-) As inventor I never heard anyone getting excited until it is actually done-done, the story of evolution will never evolve...

An inventor never stops and so the ability to make it happen. Big thanks to all my supporters in the making of this prototype even while I was enjoy some well deserved time from my intense Google work. Grazie family!

The video below, made out of my iPhone as I had everything back home, gives a gist of my description above. Enjoy.

I will post an update once the software components:
  1. Watch for standing
  2. Phone for planking
  3. And TV for balancing
have passed by check and balances... also once the lawyer tells me that the second patent is filed :-)



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