United States Patent 3775883

An active display technique which directs the viewer's eye sequentially to the several portions of an overall written message. In a preferred embodiment balls are serially directed through space to receiving-throwing mechanisms which support the several portions of the message and the viewer, following a single ball which is in motion, will be caused to scan the message in the proper order.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
International Classes:
G09F19/02; G09F19/12; (IPC1-7): G09F19/02
Field of Search:
40/106.25 273
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3398956Retaliatory game1968-08-27Lukes
3003769Game device1961-10-10Brandell
2998673Amusement device1961-09-05Rhodes
2886909Display device1959-05-19Hesse et al.
2318394Game apparatus1943-05-04Hooker
2101354Game apparatus1937-12-07Williams
1628903Attention arrester1927-05-17Northrop

Primary Examiner:
Michell, Robert W.
Assistant Examiner:
Pitrelli, John F.
What is claimed is

1. A method of accentuating an advertising message including the steps of:

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the objects are directed between the message portions in sequence in response to the delivery of an object from the next preceding message portion.


1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the presentation of an advertising message in an appealing and attention-getting manner. More specifically, this invention is directed to display devices and particularly to such devices which include a moving member. Accordingly, the general objects of the present invention are to provide novel and improved methods and apparatus of such character.

2. Description of the Prior Art

There are, of course, presently available numerous display devices of both the static and active variety. Because of an inherently greater capacity for attracting attention, display devices which include moving members visible to a viewer are usually desired in preference to static displays. In preparing an animated or moving display, care must be taken to maintain the prominence of the message to be conveyed. In many active displays, particularly in apparatus which employs animated figures, the message will be eclipsed by the movement or animation and the display as a whole loses its value as an advertising medium. A second and interrelated design criteria in the production of a display device is that the message should not be so readily discernible that the display will only attract a passing glance. Thus, it is believed to be desirable to provide a display which is in substantially continuous motion, thereby attracting attention, but in which the advertising message will be communicated to the viewer by a repetitive sequence of movements only. In this manner, the continuous motion will attract attention whereas the inability to readily comprehend the message will cause the viewer to continue to watch the display. The attention holding ability of the display is, of course, a measure of its effectiveness.

While prior art display devices fulfilled one of the above, briefly discussed design criteria, the balance between animation and maintaining message prominence has rarely been obtained. The presentation of the advertising message in a form which permits its being readily comprehended only through following the animation sequence has also been previously rarely obtained.


The present invention comprises a novel technique and apparatus for achieving the above, briefly discussed display design criteria. In achieving these objectives the present employs a plurality of receiving-throwing mechanisms. These mechanisms are typically in the form of open topped boxes which bear, on faces presented to a viewer of the display, portions of a total advertising message. The mechanisms are typically adjusted and positioned relative to one another in such a manner that the advertising message is scrambled and thus not readily comprehensible to a viewer. Each of the mechanisms will have temporarily stored therein an object, typically a ball, which will be thrown to the mechanism commensurate with the next succeeding portion of the advertising message. The repetitive animation sequence is started by the delivery, via a suitable mechanism, of an object to the receiving-throwing mechanism commensurate with the first portion of the advertising message. The delivery of this first object will cause the object temporarily stored in the first receiving-throwing mechanism to be thrown to the receiving-throwing mechanism commensurate with the second portion of the advertising message and the sequence will repeat until the entire message has been "scanned." The viewer's eye, following the objects which appear as a single item being thrown back and forth, will trace the message in the proper sequence.


The present invention may be better understood and its numerous objects and advantages will become apparent to those skilled in the art by reference to the accompanying drawing wherein like reference numerals refer to like elements in the several figures and in which:

FIG. 1 is a front elevation view, partly in section, of a first embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 depicts a lifting mechanism, in a side elevation view, which may be employed with the embodiment of FIG. 1 to deliver the objects to be thrown to a first receiving-throwing mechanism; and

FIG. 3 is an exploded, isometric view of a receiving-throwing mechanism which may be employed with the embodiment of FIG. 1.


FIG. 1 depicts a simplified form of the present invention wherein the advertising message to be transmitted by the device is divided into four portions. These portions are carried, in any suitable manner, by four subassemblies indicated generally at 10, 12, 14 and 16. The subassemblies 10, 12 and 14 will comprise receiving-throwing mechanisms which may be of the type to be described below in connection with the discussion of FIG. 3. Subassembly 16 will typically comprise merely an open box with an inclined plane mounted therein. The several portions of the message may be affixed to subassemblies 10, 12, 14 and 16 in innumerable ways. For example, the message portions may be painted on the front or viewed faces of the housings for the subassemblies. Alternatively, the message portions may be carried by cards which are inserted in brackets or other similar means mounted from the front sides of the subassemblies.

The subassemblies 10, 12, 14 and 16 are mounted on the viewed or front side of a panel 20 of the display device. The display device is also provided with a rectangular frame 22, extending forward from panel 20, and a front or cover plate 24. Cover plate 24 will have an opaque portion 26 about its periphery so as to cover moving parts of the apparatus which might otherwise be visible and thus detract from the message transmitting intent of the display. The region of the cover plate disposed within the frame defined by opaque portion 26 will be transparent whereby the portions of the message carried by subsassemblies 10, 12, 14 and 16 will be visible. The cover plate 24 performs the added functions of preventing viewer interference with the operating mechanisms and also of entrapping for reuse any of the thrown objects which may miss their target in the course of being propelled between the subassemblies.

The objects to be thrown between the subassemblies will typically be suitably colored spheres such as ball 28. In practice, one of balls 28 will be temporarily positioned on a throwing mechanism in each of subassemblies 10, 12 and 14. The repetitive message transmitting sequence is initiated by the dropping of a ball 28, in the manner to be described below, onto a triggering mechanism in subassembly 10. This will result in the ball stored in subassembly 10 being thrown through the air to subassembly 14. The ball landing in subassembly will activate the triggering mechanism in subassembly 14 causing a ball stored therein to be thrown to subassembly 12. The ball landing in subassembly 12 will cause the throwing of the ball stored therein into the subassembly 16. Accordingly, to a viewer, it will appear that a single ball is "bouncing" in the proper sequence, first right and then left, from the portions of the message.

A ball landing in subassembly 16 will roll down the inclined plane 18 and into a vertical track 31. The vertical track 31 is defined by frame 22 and an inwardly disposed vertical support member 30. The bottom of vertical track 31 communicates with a further inclined plane 32. The inclined plane 32 delivers the balls discharged from subassembly 16 via track 31 to the base of of a lifting mechanism indicated generally at 34.

Lifting mechanism 34, as may best be seen from a joint consideration of FIGS. 1 and 2, includes a continuous chain and a drive mechanism therefor; the drive mechanism comprising motor 36 and sprocket 38. The drive sprocket 38 engages a chain 40 which has a plurality of L-shaped arms 42 extending outwardly therefrom. The chain 40 extends vertically and passes over an idler sprocket 44 adjacent the top of the display mechanism. The chain moves in an enclosed vertical channel 45 defined by panel 20, cover plate 24 and a pair of vertical frame members 46 and 48. Channel 45 is commensurate in size with the balls 28.

Balls reaching the lower end of the inclined plane 32 will be individually picked up by the L-shaped arms 42 and move upwards in channel 45 with the chain 40 as shown in FIG. 1. Upon reaching the top of the channel, the balls will be caused to move out of engagement with the arms 42 by a camming surface on a stationary arm 50. The balls pushed off of the lifting mechanism roll down a plane 52, which comprises an extension of channel defining member 48, and fall into the receiving-throwing mchanism 10 thereby starting the throwing sequence. The speed of chain drive motor 36 and the spacing between the L-shaped arms 42 on chain 40 are selected so that the entire sequence of receiving and throwing; as performed by subassemblies 10, 12 and 14; will be completed between the delivery of successive balls from the plane 52 to subassembly 10.

Referring now to FIG. 3, an embodiment of the subassemblies 10, 12 and 14 is shown. From FIG. 3 it may be seen that the receiving-throwing mechanisms may comprise an open topped box; the front side of the box having been omitted from FIG. 3 to facilitate understanding of the invention. As noted above, a portion of the message to be transmitted will be carried by the front side of the box. Each of the subassemblies 10, 12 and 14 will typically be a self-contained unit including the throwing mechanism and a triggering device therefor. The triggering device will be responsive to impact of an object thereon and the throwing mechanism will be adjustable so as to insure a precise trajectory whereby the thrown ball may be caused to impact upon the triggering mechanism in a further or target subassembly.

Continuing with a discussion of FIG. 3, the triggering mechanism typically comprises a movable striker plate 60 which is pivotally mounted from a supporting rod 62. For reasons which will become apparent from the discussion below, striker plate 60 will be inclined so that any balls impacting thereon will roll to a particular position; to the right front corner of striker plate 60 in the embodiment of FIG. 3. The plate supporting rod 62 is mounted, as shown, from one side of the open topped box adjacent the front of the box. The other or higher side of striker plate 60 is resiliently supported, at a suitable location preferably in the general area of the upper left corner of the plate, by the spring loaded operating arm of a microswitch 64. Switch 64 will be a normally open, commercially available switch which will be momentarily closed by the impact of one of balls 28 on striker plate 60; the momentum of the impacting balls causing the plate to pivot about supporting rod 62. Accordingly, the impact of a ball on striker plate 60 will cause the closing of switch 64 thereby initiating, in the manner to be described below, the throwing sequence.

It is to be noted that the striker plate 60 does not extend across the complete width of the subassembly. The throwing mechanisms of the present invention are so constructed and are adjustable so as to insure a very high degree of consistency of ball trajectory whereby incoming balls will impact on striker plate 60 most of the time. There will, however, be an occasional overthrow. In cases of an overthrow the balls will impact upon an inclined plane 66 which, like striker plate 60, will typically be formed from sheet metal. Any balls landing on plane 66 will, due to the orientation of the plane, be caused to roll down to the left, considering the embodiment of FIG. 3, whereby they will drop off of plane 66 and onto striker plate 60. Balls dropping off of plane 66 onto striker plate 60 will have sufficient momentum to cause the closing of switch 64. It is to be noted that the plane 66 is provided with a cut-out which permits operation of the throwing mechanism and balls landing on plane 66 are prevented from rolling into the vicinity of the throwing mechanism by a shoulder 68; shoulder 68 having been formed by bending the edges of plane 66 upwardly as shown.

The throwing mechanism of the FIG. 3 embodiment comprises a spring operated throwing arm 70 which has a ball holder 72 formed or mounted thereon. Arm 70 is mounted from the base plate 74 of the subassembly via a pivot mechanism including upwardly extending projections 76 and a hinge pin 78. When released in the manner to be described below, arm 70 will pivot about pin 78 under the influence of spring 80. Spring 80 extends between a further projection 82, which extends upwardly from base plate 74, and a hook 84 or other suitable attachment mechanism. Hook 84 is affixed to arm 70 at a point disposed on the opposite side of the pivot mechanism from the projection 82.

Prior to the impact of a ball on striker plate 60, the throwing arm 70 will be in the position shown in FIG. 3 with a ball 28 in ball holder 72. The arm 70 will be held in this position against the tension of spring 80 by a latching mechanism. This latching mechanism includes a solenoid 86 and a spring biased latch member 88. The latch member 88 is mounted from an extension of the plunger in solenoid 86 and is biased in the locking direction shown in FIG. 3 by spring 90. Latch member 88 is formed with an upper camming surface 91 for the purposes to be discussed below.

A normally closed, motor control microswitch 92 is mounted on base plate 74 adjacent to solenoid 86. With arm 70 in the "cocked" position of FIG. 3, the end of arm 70 will be holding, via the spring biased operating arm 94 of switch 92, the contacts of switch 92 in the open position. When throwing arm 70 is released by the latching mechanism, the contacts of switch 92 will be permitted to return to their normally closed position for the purposes to be described below.

The throwing portion of the device also includes a cocking mechanism for arm 70. This cocking mechanism includes a drive motor 96, a cam 98 mounted on the output shaft of motor 96 and a drive mechanism mounted on the motor output shaft; the drive mechanism comprising an arm 100 and a roller 102 mounted on the end of arm 100. The cocking mechanism also comprises a normally open, motor control microswitch 104. Switch 104 has a spring biased operating arm 106 which contacts the cam 98 through a roller 107. As shown in FIG. 3, switch 104 will be closed through the cooperation between cam 98 and arm 106.

The throwing mechanism may be adjusted via a set screw 108 which is adjustable vertically. Set screw 108 cooperates with an extension 110 of arm 70 to determine the length of the arc through which the arm will move when released by the latching mechanism.

In operation, the impact of a ball 28 on striker plate 60, either directly or in rolling off of plane 66, will cause the closing of microswitch 64. The closing of switch 64 will result in the energization of solenoid 86 thus retracting latch member 88 against the bias of spring 90. The retraction of latch member 88 will permit arm 70 to swing through an arc, determined by the setting of screw 108, thus throwing ball 28 into the next subassembly. As will be described below, prior to impact of a ball on the striker plate, cam 98 will have been rotated into the position where the roller 107 at the end of switch arm 106 is on the flat side of the cam and arm 100 is rotated out of the way of arm 70. Switch 104 will be open with the cam 98 in this position.

Simultaneously with the release of arm 70 by the latching mechanism, the contacts of switch 92 will be permitted to return to their normally closed position thereby energizing motor 96. Motor 96 will thus begin to operate and the roller 107 at the end of arm 106 will pass onto the rounded surface of cam 98. This will result in the closing of normally open switch 104. The contacts of switches 92 and 104 are interconnected in a holding circuit whereby motor 96 will continue to operate, regardless of the position of operating arm 94 of switch 92, until the roller 107 at the end of arm 106 again passes onto the flat side of cam 98. As motor 98 rotates the roller 102 will force throwing arm 70 downwardly thereby extending spring 80. As will be discussed below, striker plate actuated switch 64 will at this time be open and the latch member 88 will have been extended through the action of biasing spring 90. The camming surface 91 provided at the top of member 88 will permit arm 70 to compress spring 90 as arm 70 is depressed. Arm 70 will thus pass under the end of member 88 whereby the throwing unit will be cocked and relatched. Motor 96 will continue to operate until arm 100 is again out of the way of the throwing arm and the roller at the end of switch operating arm 106 repositioned on the flat side of cam 98. At this time, as described above, both of switches 92 and 104 will be in the open condition.

The ball which has triggered the throwing action will, as noted above, roll to the lower right hand corner of striker plate 60 due to the orientation and manner of mounting of the striker plate. Plate 60 is provided with a rectangular cut-out which defines a hole in the corner to which the balls are directed. Striker plate 60 is also provided with upwardly extending sidewalls 112 and 114 which aid in directing the balls to this rectangular hole. Wall 114 has a further cut-out commensurate in size with the balls 28. The ball holder 72 has a projection 116 which extends outwardly therefrom in the direction of the rectangular hole in striker plate 60. Projection 116 may, for example, comprise a piece of music wire attached to ball holder 72. With throwing arm 70 in the raised position, the projection 116 will bridge the rectangular cut-out in striker plate 60 and a ball rolling to the vicinity of this hole will thus roll, under the influence of gravity, through the cut-out in sidewall 114 and into ball holder 72. Should there for any reason be a misfire resulting in a ball remaining on striker plate 60 while there is already a ball in the throwing mechanism, the second ball will drop through the rectangular cut-out in plate 60 when arm 70 and thus projection 116 is lowered. Extra balls falling through the hole in the striker plate will pass out through a hole, not shown, in the base plate 74 and will be returned to the lifting mechanism via inclined plane 32.

It is particularly to be observed that a second ball will not pass through the cut-out in sidewall 114, due to the presence of a ball 28 in the ball holder 72, prior to the time when arm 70 is sufficiently depressed to remove the support for the second ball provided by projection 116 and wall 112. It is also to be noted that the mere weight of a ball supported on plate 60 or projection 116 will not, due in part to the location of the contacting arm on microswitch 64, cause the closing of the switch 64.

While a preferred embodiment has been shown and described, various modifications and substitutions may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. For example, it is not necessary that the several portions of the message be scrambled or that the receiving-throwing mechanisms be positioned on different levels. Accordingly, it is to be understood that the present invention has been described by way of illustration and not limitation.