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Publication numberUS20050180146 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/098,678
Publication date18 Aug 2005
Filing date4 Apr 2005
Priority date13 Jan 2003
Also published asCN1751208A, EP1597513A2, EP1597513A4, US6874909, US20040136189, US20080165527, WO2004063625A2, WO2004063625A3
Publication number098678, 11098678, US 2005/0180146 A1, US 2005/180146 A1, US 20050180146 A1, US 20050180146A1, US 2005180146 A1, US 2005180146A1, US-A1-20050180146, US-A1-2005180146, US2005/0180146A1, US2005/180146A1, US20050180146 A1, US20050180146A1, US2005180146 A1, US2005180146A1
InventorsCarl Vanderschuit
Original AssigneeVanderschuit Carl R.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Mood-enhancing illumination apparatus
US 20050180146 A1
Abstract
An illumination apparatus includes a housing having an outer perimeter and at least one opening having a periphery. The illumination apparatus also includes at least one light source and at least one light-altering device. The light source is adjacent one of the periphery and the outer perimeter. The light-altering device is adjacent the other one of the periphery and the outer perimeter, for receiving and altering light from the light source. The illumination apparatus can be positioned relative to another component such that at least a portion of the another component is within the opening.
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Claims(20)
1. An illumination apparatus comprising a housing including an outer perimeter and at least one opening having a periphery, at least one light source adjacent one of the periphery and the outer perimeter, and at least one light-altering device adjacent the other one of said periphery and said outer perimeter, for receiving and altering light from the light source.
2. The illumination apparatus of claim 1, wherein the light-altering device includes a surface having a plurality of facets.
3. The illumination apparatus of claim 1, wherein the light-altering device alters the light by at least one of refracting, reflecting, diffracting, and dispersing.
4. The illumination apparatus of claim 1, wherein the light source comprises a plurality of light-emitting diodes positioned along at least a portion of the housing's outer perimeter, and wherein the light-altering device is positioned along at least a portion of the opening's periphery.
5. The illumination apparatus of claim 1, wherein the light source comprises a plurality of light-emitting diodes positioned along at least a portion of the opening's periphery, and wherein the light-altering device is positioned along at least a portion of the housing's outer perimeter.
6. The illumination apparatus of claim 1, wherein the light source comprises at least one light-emitting diode positioned adjacent the opening's periphery, and at least one other light-emitting diode positioned adjacent the housing's outer perimeter, and wherein the light-altering device includes a first light-altering device positioned along at least a portion of the opening's periphery, and a second light-altering device positioned along at least a portion of the housing's outer perimeter.
7. The illumination apparatus of claim 1, wherein the outer perimeter of the housing is generally circular, and wherein the periphery of the opening is generally circular.
8. The illumination apparatus of claim 1, wherein the outer perimeter of the housing is generally rectangular, and wherein the periphery of the opening is generally rectangular.
9. The illumination apparatus of claim 1, wherein the light-altering device includes indicia configured to receive light from the light source such that the light produces a representation of the indicia onto an external surface adjacent the illumination apparatus.
10. The illumination apparatus of claim 1, wherein the housing is substantially fluid-tight and the light source is positioned within the housing such that the illumination apparatus is usable underwater.
11. The illumination apparatus of claim 1, wherein the housing includes an internal faceted surface, and wherein the light-altering device comprises the internal faceted surface of the housing.
12. An illumination apparatus comprising a housing configured in a generally annular shape having a central opening, at least one light source, and at least one light-altering device including a surface having a plurality of facets positioned relative to the housing and the light source for receiving and altering light from the light source.
13. The illumination apparatus of claim 12, wherein the at least one light source comprises at least one light-emitting diode positioned adjacent one of a periphery of the opening and an outer perimeter of the housing, and wherein the at least one light-altering device includes at least one faceted surface adjacent the other one of said periphery and said outer perimeter.
14. The illumination apparatus of claim 12, wherein an outer perimeter of the housing is generally circular, and wherein a periphery of the opening is generally circular.
15. The illumination apparatus of claim 12, wherein an outer perimeter of the housing is generally rectangular, and wherein a periphery of the opening is generally rectangular.
16. The illumination apparatus of claim 12, wherein the light-altering device includes indicia configured to receive light from the light source such that the light produces a representation of the indicia onto an external surface adjacent the illumination apparatus.
17. The illumination apparatus of claim 12, wherein the housing is substantially fluid-tight and the light source is positioned within the housing such that the illumination apparatus is usable underwater.
18. The illumination apparatus of claim 12, wherein the housing includes an internal faceted surface, and wherein the light-altering device comprises the internal faceted surface of the housing.
19. A method of using an illumination apparatus having a housing including at least one opening, at least one light source, and at least one light-altering device positioned relative to the housing and the light source for receiving and altering light from the light source, the method comprising positioning the illumination apparatus relative to another component such that at least a portion of the another component is within the opening.
20. The method of claim 19, wherein positioning the illumination apparatus includes positioning the illumination apparatus against a lip of a recessed lighting fixture, and substantially aligning the opening with an opening defined by the lip.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of co-pending application Ser. No. 10/341,239, filed Jan. 13, 2003, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to light sources and more particularly to illumination apparatus that provide mood lighting or atmospheric-enhancing illumination, such as visually pleasing light effects and patterns.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Illumination devices, such as lava lamps, have been used for many years to provide atmospheric-enhancing illumination or mood lighting. Even today, there still exists a continuing demand and need for illumination devices that provide visually-pleasing illumination effects and light patterns.

In addition, jewelry, hair ornaments, and other accessory items are being provided with light sources, such as light-emitting diodes, that draw attention to the accessory item and its user. However, the inventor has recognized that these light sources are typically positioned to emit light outwardly from the accessory item without illuminating the accessory item itself, which would provide a more stimulating and pleasing visual effect.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the invention, an illumination apparatus includes a housing having an outer perimeter and at least one opening having a periphery. The illumination apparatus also includes at least one light source and at least one light-altering device. The light source is adjacent one of the periphery and the outer perimeter. The light-altering device is adjacent the other one of the periphery and the outer perimeter, for receiving and altering light from the light source. The illumination apparatus can be positioned relative to another component such that at least a portion of the another component is within the opening.

According to another aspect of the invention, an illumination apparatus includes a housing configured in a generally annular shape having a central opening. The illumination apparatus also includes at least one light source, and at least one light-altering device having a surface having a plurality of facets. The light-altering device is positioned relative to the housing and the light source for receiving and altering light from the light source. The illumination apparatus can be positioned relative to another component such that at least a portion of the another component is within the opening.

In another aspect, the invention provides method of using an illumination apparatus having at least one opening, at least one light source, and at least one light-altering device positioned relative to the housing and the light source for receiving and altering light from the light source. In one embodiment, the method generally includes positioning the illumination apparatus relative to another component such that at least a portion of the another component is within the opening.

Further areas of applicability of the present invention will become apparent from the detailed description provided hereinafter. It should be understood that the detailed description and specific examples below, while indicating exemplary embodiments of the invention, are intended for purposes of illustration only and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will be more fully understood from the detailed description and the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a side view of an illumination apparatus according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a top view of the illumination apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a bottom view of the illumination apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a side view of an illumination apparatus according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a top view of the illumination apparatus shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a top view of an illumination apparatus configured to illuminate a support surface according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a side view of an illumination apparatus configured to illuminate a support surface according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of an illumination apparatus configured to illuminate a support surface and to illuminate a housing portion positioned opposite the support surface according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a top view of an illumination apparatus configured in a shape of a letter T according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a top view of an illumination apparatus configured in a shape of a letter T according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a top view of an illuminatable accessory device according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a side view of the illumination apparatus shown in FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is a view of an illumination apparatus according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 14 is a view of an illumination apparatus according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 15 is a view of an illumination apparatus according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 16 is an exploded view of an illumination apparatus being used with a recessed ceiling light fixture according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of an illumination apparatus being used with a doorknob according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 18 is a view of an illumination apparatus according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 19 is a view of an illumination apparatus according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 20 is a view of an illumination apparatus according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 21 is a view of an illumination apparatus being used with a faceplate according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 22 is a view of an illumination apparatus being used with a cabinet door according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 23 is a view of an illumination apparatus being used with a front speaker panel according to another embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 24 is a view of an illumination apparatus being used with electrical wall outlets according to another embodiment of the present invention.

Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding features throughout the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

The following description of various embodiments is merely exemplary in nature and is in no way intended to limit the invention, its applications, or uses.

Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown an illumination apparatus, generally indicated by reference number 10, according to one embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 1, the illumination apparatus 10 includes a housing 12, at least one light source 14, and a light-altering device 18. The light-altering device 18 is positioned relative to the housing 12 and the light source 14 for receiving and altering light 16 from the light source 14 such that the altered light 28 illuminates at least a portion of the housing 12, such as the upper portion 20 of the housing 12. Alternatively, or additionally, the light-altering device 18 may be positioned relative to the housing 12 and the light source 14 such that the altered light 28 illuminates at least a portion of a surface 50 supporting the illumination apparatus 10, such as a wall, ceiling, floor, tabletop, walkway, clothing, a surface of a mobile platform, etc. During operation, the light-altering device 18 refracts, reflects, diffracts, and/or disperses the light 16 such that the altered light 28 illuminates the portion(s) of the housing 12 and/or the support surface 50 with mood-enhancing light patterns and effects.

In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 through 3, the housing 12 is substantially cube-shaped and decorated to resemble an ice cube or ice berg. It is to be understood, however, that the housing 12 may comprise any of a wide range of other shapes including, but not limited to, fruits, tear drops, rain drops, alphanumeric characters, pyramids, etc. By way of example, and as explained in greater detail below, FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate apparatus 510 and 610 shaped as the letter T.

A wide range of materials may be used for the housing 12 including, but not limited to, acrylics, glasses, plastics, among others. The surfaces of the housing 12 may be transparent, translucent, opaque, reflective, or a combination thereof. In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 through 3, the housing surface 24 positioned opposite the support surface 50 is transparent, whereas the housing side surfaces 26 are translucent or frosted to diffuse or soften the altered light 28.

To allow ready access to the light source 14, the light-altering device 18 and/or the interior of the housing 12, the illumination apparatus 10 further includes a readily removable base assembly 30. The base assembly 30 may be attached to the housing 12 using a suitable fastening system or method (e.g., an interference fit, adhesives, threaded members, resilient ribs, among others). By way of example only, the housing 12 includes an open end 31 sized to be received over and supported by the base assembly 30. Several inwardly extending resilient knobs or protuberances (not shown) are positioned on the housing side surfaces 26 adjacent the open end 31. When the housing 12 is fitted over the base assembly 30, the knobs engage the base assembly 30 to create an interference or friction fit between the housing 12 and the base assembly 30. Alternatively, the base assembly 30 and housing 12 can be formed as a single unit.

Depending on the particular application in which the illumination apparatus 10 is to be used, the illumination apparatus 10 may be configured for placement upon a horizontal support surface, such as a tabletop or desktop. Alternatively, the illumination apparatus 10 can be configured to be mounted on a wall, retrofitted to (e.g., mounted and electrically connected to) an existing wall or ceiling junction box, or attached to a surface of a mobile platform, such as an automobile.

The base assembly 30 further includes a power source 32 switchably connected to the light source 14. In the illustrated embodiment, the power source 32 comprises batteries 36 and an AC adapter port 37 to allow the illumination apparatus 10 to receive power through an electrical cord connected with a standard wall outlet. It should be noted, however, that the power source 32 contemplates any suitable means of providing energy to the light source 14 including, but not limited to, renewable batteries, rechargeable batteries, disposable batteries, and other suitable power sources that may be either external or internal to the illumination apparatus 10. If rechargeable, the power source may be rechargeable by solar, magnetic, electrical, and chemical means, and the like or any combination thereof. Accordingly, the power source mechanism should not be limited to the power source mechanisms described and shown herein.

In the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 1, the base assembly 30 also includes an actuator system for rotating the light-altering device 18 with respect to the light source 14. The actuator system includes a turntable 38 having a transparent support surface for supporting the light-altering device 18. The turntable 38 is coupled to a motor 34 that when energized rotates the turntable 38 and the light-altering device 18 thereon. Alternatively, the actuator system could instead be used to rotate the light source 14 relative to the light-altering device 18.

The light source 14 in the exemplary embodiment 10 comprises a plurality of variously colored light-emitting diodes positioned adjacent an end portion 29 of the light-altering device 18. Alternatively, any suitable light source may be employed including but not limited to fiber optics, halogen, incandescent, laser, fluorescent, magnetic, and the like.

The operation of the light source 14 and the actuator system (i.e., motor 34 and turntable 38) are controlled by a controller in accordance with user input. In one embodiment, the controller includes an integrated circuit/circuit board assembly 40 (i.e., a integrated circuit board mounted on a circuit board) and a switch 42. The switch 42, for example, may allow the user to select from a plurality of predetermined rotational speeds for the turntable 38. Or for example, the switch 42 may allow the user to select from among various display modes for the light source 14. Such display modes may include an off mode, a mode during which the light-emitting diodes blink in a predetermined sequence, and a mode during which the light-emitting diodes pulsate to sounds. The sounds may be produced by the apparatus 10 itself (e.g., via a speaker built-in to the apparatus 10) or a source external to the apparatus 10 (e.g., ambient sounds).

In the illustrated embodiment, the switch 42 comprises a push button switch disposed on a bottom portion 44 of the base assembly 30. However, and depending on the application in which the illumination apparatus 10 will be used, the switch 42 may comprise any one of a wide range of other suitable switch means. For example, the switch 42 may be provided on a cord extending from the base assembly 30. Or for example, the controller may be configured for use with an infrared remote control. In a further embodiment, the switch 42 may be disposed adjacent a lower portion of a flexible surface of the housing 12 such that application of pressure to the flexible surface causes the switch 42 to change setting.

The light-altering device 18 will now be described in more detail. As shown in FIG. 1, the light-altering device 18 is positioned on the turntable 38, which, in turn, is positioned above the light-emitting diodes 14. The light-altering device 18 and the light-emitting diodes 14 are positioned within the housing 12 at a substantially central location relative to the housing 12. The light-altering device 18 alters the light 16 from the light source 14 such that the upper portion 20 of the housing 12 is illuminated with the altered light 28. The altered light 28 is directed upwards through the transparent housing surface 24 and outwards through the translucent housing side surfaces 26, thus providing the room in which the illumination apparatus 10 is being used with mood-enhancing light patterns and effects. Alternatively, the light-altering device and the housing may be integrally formed as a single component. For example, the light-altering device may comprise an internal faceted surface of the housing.

The light-altering device 18 in the exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 1 through 3 comprises facets 46. Although not limited to any particular material, the light-altering device 18 may comprise a transparent material such as polished acrylic material, glass, plastic, crystal, among others. Alternatively, the light-altering device 18 may comprise a translucent or reflective material.

The light-altering device 18 can have a variety of shapes. In the illustrated embodiment, the light-altering device 18 is shaped in a substantially similar manner as the housing 12 (e.g., cube-shaped as in FIGS. 1 and 2, shaped as the letter T in FIG. 9). In other embodiments, the light-altering device may be substantially spherical, pyramidal, prismatic, among other shapes depending on the application for which the illumination apparatus 10 will be used.

The illumination apparatus 10 may further include one or more indicia positioned to receive the light 16 from the light source 14 and/or to receive the altered light 28 from the light-altering device 18. The indicia may be at least partially opaque, translucent, or a combination thereof such that the light 16 and/or the altered light 28 produces a silhouette of the indicia that is displayed to a user. The indicia may include any of a wide range of symbols, characters, shapes, words, logos, combinations thereof, etc.

Depending on the particular placement of the indicia, the illumination apparatus 10 may display the silhouette within the housing 12 and/or on a surface external to the housing 12, such as the support surface 50. In exemplary embodiments, the indicia is disposed on an interior surface of the housing 12, suspended within the hollow interior of the housing 12, and/or disposed on an external surface of the light-altering device 18.

Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, there is shown an illumination apparatus 110 according to another exemplary embodiment of the present invention. The illumination apparatus 110 includes a housing 112, at least one light source 114 for emitting light 116, and a light-altering device 118 positioned to receive the light 116 from the light source 114. The light-altering device 118 is positioned relative to the housing 112 and the light source 114 for receiving and altering the light 116 from the light source 114 such that the altered light 128 illuminates at least an upper portion 120 of the housing 112. The light-altering device 118 refracts, reflects, diffracts, and/or disperses the light 116 such that the altered light 128 illuminates the upper housing portion 120 with mood-enhancing light patterns and effects.

As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the illumination apparatus 110 also includes at least one other light source 115 for providing ambient lighting (such as for reading) much like a conventional lamp or light fixture. The illumination apparatus 110 may be configured such that the light sources 114 and 115 operate independent from one another. Accordingly, a user may turn on or off either one or both the light sources 114 and 115, depending on the illumination effect desired.

In the illustrated embodiment, the light source 114 comprises a plurality of light-emitting diodes positioned adjacent the end portion 129 of the light-altering device 118, which includes a plurality of facets 146. The light-altering device 118 is disposed at a centrally located position within the housing 112. The light source 115 comprises an incandescent light disposed at least partially within a hollow interior or cavity 147 defined by the light-altering device 118.

FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate exemplary embodiments of an illumination apparatus 210, 310 configured to illuminate at least a portion of the surface supporting the apparatus 210, 310. The light-altering device 218, 318 is disposed at a substantially central location relative to the housing 212, 312 and the light source 214, 314 comprises at least one light-emitting diode positioned in each corner 251, 351 of the housing 212, 312. Each light-emitting diode is oriented to emit light towards the light-altering device 218, 318 and the surface 350 supporting the apparatus 210, 310. During operation, the light-altering device 218 refracts, reflects, diffracts, and/or disperses the light 216, 316 such that the altered light 228, 328 illuminates the surface 350 supporting the apparatus 210, 310 with mood-enhancing light patterns and effects.

In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 7, the housing side surfaces 326 are truncated such that a gap 352 is defined between the housing 312 and the mounting plate 330. Accordingly, the altered light 328 passes through the gap 352 and then illuminates the support surface 350. It should be noted that although the apparatus 310 is shown supported by a floor or tabletop, the apparatus 310 can also be mounted to a wall or ceiling.

With further reference to FIG. 7, the illumination apparatus 310 further includes an optional light source 315 for providing normal lighting conditions. In the illustrated embodiment, the light source 315 comprises an incandescent light disposed at least partially within a hollow interior or cavity 347 defined by the light-altering device 318, with the light-altering device 318 disposed substantially around the optional light source 315.

In FIG. 8, there is shown an illumination apparatus 410 configured to illuminate at least the surface 450 supporting the apparatus 410 in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. As shown, the light-altering device 418 is disposed at a substantially central location within the housing 412, and the light source 414 comprises at least one light-emitting diode positioned in each corner 451 of the housing 412. Each light-emitting diode 414 is oriented to emit light towards the light-altering device 418 and the support surface 450. During operation, the altered light travels outward from the light-altering device 418 and toward the surface 450. The altered light then passes through the substantially transparent housing side surfaces 426 to illuminate the support surface 450 with a pleasing light pattern or effect.

To further enhance the illumination effect provided by the apparatus 410, the housing surface 424 opposed the support surface 450 is opaque. The housing surface 424 also defines an opening 425 through which an end portion 427 of the light-altering device 418 extends. In addition, the light source 414 may further include optional light-emitting diodes 414′ positioned adjacent the other end portion 429 of the light-altering device 418.

As before with the apparatus 10 shown in FIG. 1, the illumination apparatus 410 in the illustrated embodiment includes a base assembly 430 removably attached to the housing 412. The base assembly 430 may further include the optional light-emitting diodes 414′, an actuator system for rotating the light-altering device 418 relative to the optional light-emitting diodes 414′, and a power source 432 (e.g., batteries, etc.) switchably connected to the light-emitting diodes 414, 414′ and the actuator system. In the illustrated embodiment, the power source 432 includes a solar cell disposed on the housing surface 424, although other suitable means of providing energy to the light sources and the actuator system may be employed.

The operation of the light-emitting diodes 414, 41′ and the actuator system may be controlled by a controller in accordance with user input similar to the manner described for the first embodiment 10. For example, the controller may allow the user to choose to have the various light-emitting diodes 414 and 414′ blink, activate/deactivate at different times, or to pulsate in accordance with sound from a source external and/or internal to the apparatus 410.

Referring now to FIGS. 9 and 10, there are shown exemplary embodiments of the illumination apparatus 510 an 610, respectively, that are configured for use as signage. In the illustrated embodiments, the apparatus 510 and 610 are formed in the shape of the letter T. In other embodiments, the housing may be shaped as words, numbers, messages, signs, etc.

As shown in FIG. 9, the light source 514 includes a plurality of light-emitting diodes electrically connected to one another by a way of a electrically-conducting wire 533 or other suitable electrical conductor. The light-emitting diodes are spaced along the perimeter 554 of the housing 512 as defined by the sides 526 of the housing 512. The sides 526 of the housing 512 may be either opaque, translucent, transparent, reflective, or a combination thereof. The surface positioned opposite the surface supporting the apparatus 510 may be either transparent, translucent, or a combination thereof. In addition, the light-altering device 518 is centrally located within the housing 512 and is shaped in a manner similar to that of the housing perimeter 554, which in the illustrated embodiment is the letter T. Alternatively, one or more light-altering devices may instead be positioned on or be integrally formed with a housing surface that is either positioned opposite or attached to the support surface. In such an alternative embodiment, the light source is oriented for directing light into the light-altering device.

In the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 10, the light-altering device 618 is disposed along the perimeter 654 of the housing 612. The light-emitting diodes 614 are disposed at a substantially central location of the housing 612, with the light-altering device 618 disposed substantially around the light-emitting diodes 614.

Referring to FIGS. 11 and 12, there is shown an illumination apparatus 710 configured for use as an illuminating and portable accessory item. In the illustrated embodiment, the illumination apparatus 710 includes an attachment device (e.g., adhesive 711, clip, magnets, pins, other suitable attachment devices, etc.) for attaching the illumination apparatus 710 to a user, thus allowing the illumination apparatus 710 to be used, for example, as a jewelry, a hair ornament, an illuminating sticker, among other accessory items. Alternatively, the illumination apparatus 710 may also be attached to an automobile hood or other mobile platform surface, for example, to illuminate an automobile emblem or logo.

The illumination apparatus 710 includes a plurality of light-emitting diodes 714 and a light-altering device 718. The light-altering device 718 is positioned relative to the housing 712 and the light-emitting diodes 714 for receiving and altering the light 716 from the light-emitting diodes 714 such that the altered light 728 illuminates at least a portion of the housing 712. Thus, illuminating the accessory item. During operation, the light-altering device 718 refracts, reflects, diffracts, and/or disperses the light 716 (e.g., direction of travel, wavelength, color, phase, etc.) such that the altered light 728 illuminates the portion of the housing 712 with mood-enhancing light patterns and effects. Alternatively, the light-altering device and the housing may be integrally formed as a single component, with the light-altering device comprising an internal faceted surface of the housing.

In the illustrated embodiment, the power source 732 comprises a watch battery. In addition, a rear surface 756 of the base assembly 730 is provided with a suitable adhesive 711 that allows the illumination apparatus 710 to be used as a sticker. The illumination apparatus 710 further includes a controller, such as an integrated circuit/circuit board assembly 740 and a switch 742. The switch 742 allows the user to select from among a plurality of operating modes for the illumination apparatus 710. Alternatively, the controller may include a touch-sensitive switch that when touched by a user activates the illumination apparatus.

FIGS. 13-15 and 18-20 illustrate various illumination apparatus 810, 910, 1010, 1110, 1210, 1310 according to additional embodiments of the invention. As shown, each illumination apparatus includes a housing 812, 912, 1012, 1112, 1212, 1312, at least one light source 814, 914, 1014, 1114, 1214, 1314, and at least one light-altering device 818, 918, 1018, 1118, 1218, 1318.

In the particular illustrated embodiments of FIGS. 13-15, each housing 812, 912, 1012 includes a generally circular shape with a circular opening 819, 919, 1019. For the particular illustrated embodiments of FIGS. 18-20, each housing 1112, 1212, 1312 includes a generally rectangular shape with a rectangular opening 1119, 1219, 1319.

In alternative embodiments, however, the housing and/or the opening can include other suitable shapes, such as octagonal, hexagonal, ovular, alphanumeric characters, u-shaped, c-shaped, names, logos, etc. Accordingly, embodiments of the invention should not be limited to only circular or rectangular shaped housings and openings.

In addition, the housing and the opening need not be the same shape. Further, the size and shape of the housing and opening therethrough can vary depending, for example, on the particular application and size and shape of the component (or portion thereof) that will ultimately be positioned within the opening. By way of example only, an illumination apparatus of the present invention can be used with recessed ceiling lighting fixtures or cans (FIG. 16), doorknobs (FIG. 17), ceiling fans, appliance knobs, cabinetry handles and knobs, smoke detectors, underwater swimming pool lights and/or filters, faceplates (e.g., burglar alarm system punch-code faceplates (FIG. 21), wall outlets (FIG. 24), light switches, etc.) cabinet doors (FIG. 22), speaker panels (FIG. 23), heating and air conditioning vents, clocks, furniture, tableware, plates, dishes, clothing, furniture, jewelry, among other suitable uses.

A wide range of materials may be used for any one of the housings 812, 912, 1012, 1112, 1212, 1312 including, but not limited to, acrylics, glasses, plastics, combinations thereof, among others. In addition, the housing surfaces may be transparent, translucent, opaque, reflective, partially light-transmissive, or combinations thereof. For example, one or more housing surfaces can be translucent or frosted to diffuse or soften light.

A wide range of materials can be used for any one of the light-altering devices 818, 918, 1018, 1118, 1218, 1318 including polished acrylic materials, glasses, plastics, crystals, transparent materials, translucent materials, reflective materials, combinations thereof, among others. In the illustrated embodiments of FIGS. 13-20, the light-altering devices include facets. In further embodiments, a light-altering device can be an integral portion of the housing such that the light-altering device and the housing are monolithically formed as a single component. For example, one embodiment includes a housing having one or more internal faceted surfaces as a light-altering device.

In the embodiments 810 and 1110 shown in respectively in FIGS. 13 and 18, LEDs 814, 1114 are disposed along the opening's periphery 853, 1153. The light-altering device 818, 1118 is disposed along the housing's outer perimeter 854, 1154.

In the embodiments 910 and 1210 shown respectively in FIGS. 14 and 19, LEDs 914, 1214 are disposed along the housing's outer perimeter 954, 1254. The light-altering device 918, 1218 is disposed along the opening's periphery 953, 1253. In

In the embodiments 1010 and 1310 shown respectively in FIGS. 15 and 19, LEDs 1014′, 1314′ are disposed along the housing's outer perimeter 1054, 1354, and LEDs 1014″, 1314″ are disposed along the opening's periphery 1053, 1353. In addition, a light-altering device 1018′, 1318′ is disposed along the housing's outer perimeter 1054, 1354, and a light-altering device 1018″, 1318″ is disposed along the opening's periphery 1053, 1353.

FIGS. 16, 17, and 21-24 illustrate exemplary uses for an illumination apparatus of the present invention. For example, FIG. 16 illustrates an illumination apparatus (e.g., 810, 910, 1010) being used with a recessed ceiling light fixture. As shown, the illumination apparatus 810, 910, 1010 can be removably or fixedly attached to a lip 58 of a recessed ceiling lighting fixture or can 60. Any of a wide range of attachment methods may be used to attach the illumination apparatus to the lip 58, such as adhesives, magnets, mechanical fasteners, Velcro hook and loop fasteners, etc.

The fixture 60 includes a socket 62 for receiving a light bulb 64, such as halogen light bulb, incandescent bulb, or other light bulb type. The light bulb 64 can be engaged to the socket 62 before, while, or after the illumination apparatus 810, 910, 1010 is attached the lip 58. At least a portion of the light bulb 64 will be positioned within the opening 819, 919, 1019 of the illumination apparatus. The housing 812, 912, 1012 of the illumination apparatus can be configured (e.g., shaped and sized) for any of a wide range of lighting fixtures and light bulbs. By way of example, the housing can be sized such that it is larger, smaller, or about equal to the size of the lip 58.

FIG. 17 illustrates an illumination apparatus (e.g., 810, 910, 1010) being used with a doorknob 66. As shown, the illumination apparatus 810, 910, 1010 is positioned generally around the stem 68 of the doorknob 66. The illumination apparatus 810, 910, 1010 can be removably or fixedly attached to the doorknob stem 68 in various ways (e.g., adhesives, magnets, friction or interference fit, etc.). Alternatively, the illumination apparatus 810, 910, 1010 may be rotatably about the doorknob stem 68. The housing 812, 912, 1012 of the illumination apparatus can be configured (e.g., shaped and sized) for any of a wide range of doorknob types. For example, the housing can be sized such that its opening 819, 919, 1019 creates a friction fit with the doorknob stem, and such that its outer diameter 854, 954, 1054 is larger, smaller, or about equal to the handle portion 70.

FIG. 21 illustrates an illumination apparatus (e.g., 1110, 1210, 1310) being used with a burglar alarm entry-code faceplate 72. As shown, the illumination apparatus 1110, 1210, 1310 is positioned generally around the faceplate 72. The illumination apparatus 1110, 1210, 1310 can be removably or fixedly attached to the faceplate 72 in a various ways (e.g., adhesives, magnets, friction or interference fit, etc.). The housing 1112, 1212, 1312 of the illumination apparatus can be configured (e.g., shaped and sized) for any of a wide range of faceplate types.

FIG. 22 illustrates an illumination apparatus (e.g., 1110, 1210, 1310) being used with a cabinet door 74. As shown, the illumination apparatus 1110, 1210, 1310 is positioned generally around a peripheral edge portion 76 on the front of the cabinet door 74. The illumination apparatus 1110, 1210, 1310 can be removably or fixedly attached to the cabinet door 74 using various methods (e.g., adhesives, friction or interference fit, etc.). The housing 1112, 1212, 1312 of the illumination apparatus can be configured (e.g., shaped and sized) for a particular type of cabinet door for which the illumination apparatus 1110, 1210, 1310 is going to be used.

FIG. 23 illustrates an illumination apparatus (e.g., 1110, 1210, 1310) being used with a speaker panel 78, such as a recessed speaker panel in a ceiling, or a front speaker panel of a box. As shown, the illumination apparatus 1110, 1210, 1310 is positioned generally around the speaker panel 78. The illumination apparatus 1110, 1210, 1310 can be removably or fixedly attached to the speaker panel 78 using any suitable means (e.g., adhesives, friction or interference fit, etc.). The housing 1112, 1212, 1312 of the illumination apparatus can be configured (e.g., shaped and sized) for any of a wide range of speaker types.

In the illustrated embodiments of FIGS. 13-15 and 18-20, each housing has only one opening therethrough. In alternative embodiments, however, an illumination apparatus may include a housing having a plurality of openings therethrough.

Various embodiments include an illumination apparatus configured for use as a wall faceplate, for example, for an electrical outlet (FIG. 24), phone jack, light switch, thermostat, etc. For example, FIG. 24 illustrates one embodiment of an illumination apparatus 1410 that is configured for use as a wall faceplate for two electrical outlets 80. In this example, the illumination apparatus 1410 includes a housing 1412 with a generally rectangular outer perimeter 1454. The housing 1412 includes two openings for receiving the two electrical outlets 80 therethough. The housing 1412 is sized consistent with a standard wall faceplate for a double outlet. LEDs can be positioned along at least a portion of the housing's outer perimeter 1454, at least a portion of the periphery of either or both openings, or combinations thereof. In addition, a light-altering device can be positioned along at least a portion of the housing's outer perimeter 1454, at least a portion of the periphery of either or both openings, or combinations thereof.

The particular number of openings (i.e., one or more) and their shape and size can depend, for example, on the particular requirements for the wall faceplate. For example, another embodiment includes an illumination apparatus configured for use as a light switch faceplate. In this particular embodiment, the illumination apparatus includes a generally rectangular housing with only one rectangular opening therethrough.

In some implementations, an illumination apparatus of the present invention may take the place of an existing faceplate. Alternatively, an illumination apparatus of the present invention may be instead be positioned over and attached to the existing faceplate. As yet another example, an illumination apparatus of the present invention may be positioned generally around an existing faceplate such that a peripheral edge of the faceplate is received within an opening defined by the housing of the illumination apparatus.

As another exemplary use, any one of the various embodiments of the present invention can be positioned within a speaker box. In which case, the illumination apparatus can produce light that illuminates for illuminating (e.g., backlighting) a front panel of the speaker box.

In various embodiments of the invention, an illumination apparatus can be configured such that it is substantially fluid-tight or waterproof for underwater use. In such embodiments, a waterproof illumination apparatus may be positioned within (e.g., thrown into the water, attached to the pool bottom, side surface, or ladder, etc.) in order to provide a pleasing light pattern or effect. In one implementation, a waterproof illumination apparatus is positioned and attached to an existing lighting fixture in the swimming pool. In another implementation, one or more waterproof illumination apparatus can be used for recreational purposes in which the waterproof illumination apparatus are thrown into the pool for later retrieval by a swimmer. In one embodiment, a waterproof illumination apparatus is negatively buoyant such that the apparatus sinks. In another embodiment, a waterproof illumination apparatus is positively buoyant such that the apparatus floats. In yet another embodiment, a waterproof illumination apparatus has a buoyancy such that the apparatus is suspended between a top surface of the water and the bottom of the pool.

In various embodiments of the invention, an illumination apparatus can include a light-altering device that is an integral portion of the housing such that the light-altering device and the housing are monolithically formed as a single component. For example, one embodiment includes a housing having one or more internal faceted surfaces forming the light-altering device.

In any of the various embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 24, the illumination apparatus can include any suitable means of providing energy to the light sources, such as an AC adapter port to allow the illumination apparatus to receive power through an electrical cord connected with a standard wall outlet, renewable batteries, rechargeable batteries, disposable batteries, power cells, solar cells, watch batteries, and other suitable power sources. If rechargeable, such power sources could be rechargeable by solar, magnetic, electrical, and chemical means, and the like or any combination thereof.

In various embodiments of the invention, an illumination apparatus can include one or more indicia that are highlighted (e.g., illuminated, backlit, etc.) by light from a light source. This indicia can include a wide range of graphic images, graphic elements, graphic images, designs, artwork, distinctive marks, identifying symbols, company logos, company contact information, text, alphanumeric characters, advertisements, trademarks, trade names, service marks, sports teams insignias, names, monograms, photographs, among others.

Various embodiments include a light-altering material having indicia configured to receive light from the light source such that the light produces a representation of the indicia onto a surface external to and adjacent the illumination apparatus. In one particular embodiment, an illumination apparatus includes LEDs that are positioned about one-fourth inch from a bottom surface of the illumination apparatus. The LEDs are positioned to direct light at a generally downward angle towards indicia provided (e.g., etched, marked onto, etc.) onto a light-altering material (e.g., acetate, etc.). The indicia can be distorted such the indicia appears clear and undistorted when projected onto the support surface. By way of example only, the light-altering material 818, 1018 in FIGS. 13 and 18, respectively, may include indicia spaced around the outer perimeter such that when the LEDs 814, 1014 are activated, the light projects the indicia onto the support surface generally around but a spaced-distance away from the housing's outer perimeter 854, 1054. This can have particular commercial appeal for advertising such as when the indicia forms a company logo or other advertisement.

In any of the various embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 24, the illumination apparatus can be configured for use as a portable accessory item. In addition, the illumination apparatus can also include one or more user attachment devices (e.g., adhesives, clips, magnets, pins, other suitable attachment devices, etc.) for attaching the illumination apparatus to a user, for example to allow the illumination apparatus to be used as jewelry, a hair ornament, an illuminating sticker, among other accessory items. Alternatively, the illumination apparatus may also be attached to an automobile hood or other mobile platform surface, for example, to illuminate an automobile emblem or logo.

In various embodiments of the invention, an illumination apparatus may include a controller for controlling operation of the light source(s) in accordance with user input to provide such features as blinking, strobing and/or color changes. The controller can include an integrated circuit/printed circuit assembly (e.g., integrated circuits in a printed circuit assembly) and at least one switch. The switch may, for example, allow the user to select from among various display modes for the light sources, such as an off-light mode, an on-light mode, a mode in which each of the light sources simultaneously emit steady or non-flashing light, a mode in which the light sources emit light intermittently, a mode in which the various light sources illuminate or blink at different times in accordance with a predetermined sequence or order, a mode in which the light sources emit light that phases between or blends colors, a mode in which the light sources emit light randomly, a mode in which the light sources pulsate to sounds, and/or a mode combining one or more of the foregoing. Such sounds may be produced by the illumination apparatus itself (e.g., via a speaker built-in to the illumination apparatus) or a source external to the illumination apparatus (e.g., ambient sounds). In some embodiments, sounds can cause synchronized pulsation of the light sources of two or more different illumination apparatus, thus providing a pleasing light pattern or effect.

The controller can also include a plurality of switches each of which can be used to control the operation of an individual light source or group of light sources. For example, the controller may include a first switch for activating and deactivating LEDs that emit white light, and a second switch for activating and deactivating the LEDs that emit blue light.

Additionally, an illumination apparatus of the present invention can include a push-button switch for switchably connecting the light source to the power source. The switch can be positioned within the illumination apparatus and be coupled to an externally flexible surface portion of the illumination apparatus such that application of external pressure upon the externally flexible surface portion activates the switch, thereby causing operation of the light source. The external pressure may, for example, be applied by the user squeezing the illumination apparatus at the externally flexible surface portion. The switch may also allow the user to cycle through various display modes or select a particular color for the light by successively squeezing the illumination apparatus at about the externally flexible surface portion. Additionally, the switch may also allow the user to dim or brighten the intensity of the light, for example, by holding down the switch with continuously applied pressure to the illumination apparatus at about the externally flexible surface portion.

Alternatively, an illumination apparatus can include other suitable switching means. For example, the switch may be provided on a cord extending from an illumination apparatus. Or for example, an illumination apparatus may include a controller configured for use with an infrared remote control. As yet another example, an illumination apparatus can include electrical terminals for switchably connecting the light source to the power source. For example, the electrical terminals can be located such that a user's hand upon grasping the item completes the circuit for power delivery to the light source from the power source.

The description of the invention is merely exemplary in nature and is in no way intended to limit the invention, its application, or uses. Thus, variations that do not depart from the substance of the invention are intended to be within the scope of the invention. Such variations are not to be regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the invention.

Classifications
U.S. Classification362/367
International ClassificationF21S10/02, A61N5/06, F21S8/00, G09F13/04, F21V33/00, G09F13/14
Cooperative ClassificationY10S362/812, Y10S362/806, G09F13/0409, A61N5/0618, F21Y2101/02, F21W2121/00, F21V33/0028, F21S10/06, G09F13/14
European ClassificationF21S10/06, G09F13/14, F21V33/00A4B, G09F13/04C