The advancements being made through the development and commercialization of high technologies are being used throughout industry to improve the quality and productivity of our every-day workplace. Some of these technologies are also being applied to standard products with the goal of developing niche markets for specific use items.
I propose that we take some of these technologies and apply them to recreational goods so that we can realize improvements in the quality of every-day life. One specific application I have in mind is the use of GPS (Global Positioning System) technology in the game of golf.
Everyone who has ever played the game, except maybe Tiger Woods, has experienced the wasted time and expense of searching for a lost ball. The adverse effects of losing a golf ball during a record-breaking round can have traumatic effects on the golfer. Time spent in searching for the lost ball breaks the rhythm that the golfer had, and shifts the focus away from the sport and into the role of "search and rescue." GPS technology applied to golf balls would also enable the game to be played quicker. Slow play has plagued the sport for decades, and it's only getting worse.
It's been said that a reduction in the number of balls used (and lost) could have a negative effect on the golf ball market, but these effects can be offset by the higher price associated with the Golfball Positioning System (GPS). After all, who wouldn't pay a little more for a ball they couldn't lose?
A quick scan of the available specialty balls on the market shows there is indeed a market for the GPS ball. Special-use balls are already designed and sold, including: floating balls for water holes, exploding balls for the quick joke, practice balls, distance balls, cut-proof balls, and glow-in-the-dark balls for golfing at night. There's even a market for "used" balls that have been found or retrieved from water hazards (I understand that the proper term for used balls is "experienced," which justifies their high price). The market for a ball you can't lose would be tremendous!
The problem before us is how to best utilize GPS technology and to develop a portable scanner (hand-held or bag-held) for the golfer to track the ball's flight and final resting spot. (Keeping in mind, of course, that the design solution should probably also be waterproof).
We need to identify the ball's design parameters to assist in development of the GPS capability:
Dimple profile in ball's cover amplifies the GPS signal (works like 382 tiny radar dishes)
These enhanced design features will be used synergistically to maintain proven ball flight characteristics while still providing full GPS capability. Who knows, we could even end up with a ball that flies farther, holds better, and travels straighter than anything already on the market.
This report is one of a series of occasional columns exploring the not-altogether-serious side of engineering by Ken Foote, a mechanical engineer at GDLS. You can reach Ken at footes@ novagate.com or e-mail your comments to us at kfield@cahners. com. For
the worked out solution, visit www.manufacturing.net/ magazine/dn/archives/headwork/headwork.html.
Ken, a beginning golfer, hits a ball at an angle▀with the horizontal. If its speed at the highest point of its trajectory is 10 ft/sec, the radius of curvature of the trajectory at that point is most nearly:
A) 0.32 ft
B) 3.11 ft
C) 3.22 ft
D) 31.1 ft
E) Cannot be determined without knowing the angle▀
See answer below.
Source: Adapted from the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination, Eugene L. Boronow, Prentice Hall Press, 1986.