Title:
Image viewing device and method of use
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An image viewing device that includes a housing, which can be constructed so as to be thematically related to an image to be viewed; a viewing aperture and a light induction aperture located in the housing; a light transmission channel contained within the housing to transmit light from the light induction aperture to the viewing aperture; an image bearing medium; and a media retention device, coupled to the light transmission channel to retain the image bearing medium to allow light to travel from the light induction aperture through the image bearing medium to the viewing aperture. The system may also include a light emission device and/or sound production device, coupled to the housing; a power supply source, coupled to the housing and configured to supply power to the light emission device or the sound production device.



Inventors:
Lowe, Roger (Highland, UT, US)
Shirley, Brian (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Nokes, Jason R. (Sandy, UT, US)
Application Number:
10/850139
Publication Date:
07/13/2006
Filing Date:
05/20/2004
Assignee:
Image Ball, LLC
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G1/06; G09F19/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SILBERMANN, JOANNE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Brent T. Winder (Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough Suite 1500 170 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT, 84101-1644, US)
Claims:
1. An image viewing system and device, comprising: a) a housing, designed and configured to retain a captured image; b) a viewing aperture, formed within an exterior portion of the housing; c) a light induction aperture, formed within an exterior portion of an opposite side of the housing; d) a light transmission channel, contained within an internal core of the housing to transmit light from the light induction aperture to the viewing aperture; e) an image bearing medium, designed and configured to contain the captured image; and f) a media retention device, coupled to the housing to retain the image bearing medium and to allow light to travel from the light induction aperture through the image bearing medium to the viewing aperture.

2. The image viewing system and device of claim 1, wherein the housing is designed and shaped to be thematically related to the captured image contained within the housing.

3. The image viewing system and device of claim 1, wherein lenses may be removably secured to the viewing and light induction apertures to protect the contents of the housing from exposure to dust or moisture.

4. The image viewing system and device of claim 1, further comprising: a) a light emission device, coupled to the housing within the light transmission channel; b) a power supply source, coupled to the light emission device and configured to supply power to the light emission device; and c) a light emission source initiator, coupled to the power supply source and configured to engage the power supply source to provide power to the light emission device.

5. The image viewing system and device of claim 1, further comprising: a) a sound reproduction system, coupled to the housing; b) a power supply source, coupled to the sound reproduction system and configured to supply power to the sound reproduction system; and c) a sound reproduction initiator, coupled to the power supply source and configured to engage the power supply source to provide power to the sound reproduction system

6. A method of viewing an image within a thematically designed housing, the method comprising the steps of: a) capturing an image, which image is thematically related to the design of the housing, onto an image bearing medium; b) removing one or more protective lenses, as seated within at least one aperture formed within the housing; c) placing the image bearing medium onto a media retention device, as seated within an internal core portion of the housing; d) sealing the media retention device within the housing by replacing each protective lens; and e) viewing the image thirough a viewing aperture formed within the housing.

7. The method of claim 6, further comprising the step of activating an internal light source to artificially illuminate the captured image.

8. The method of claim 6, further comprising the step of activating a sound reproduction system to play sounds recorded on a sound recording device and storage medium.

9. An image viewing system and device, comprising: a) a housing, designed and configured to retain a captured image; b) at least one viewing aperture, formed within an exterior portion of the housing; c) a light transmission channel, contained within an internal core of the housing; d) an image bearing medium, designed and configured to contain the captured image; and e) a media retention device, coupled to the housing to retain the image bearing medium.

10. The image viewing system and device of claim 9, wherein the housing is designed and shaped to be thematically related to the captured image contained within the housing.

11. The image viewing system and device of claim 9, wherein lenses may be removably secured to the viewing apertures to protect the contents of the housing from exposure to dust or moisture.

12. The image viewing system and device of claim 9, further comprising: a) a light emission device, coupled to the housing within the light transmission channel; b) a power supply source, coupled to the light emission device and configured to supply power to the light emission device; and c) a light emission source initiator, coupled to the power supply source and configured to engage the power supply source to provide power to the light emission device.

13. The image viewing system and device of claim 9, further comprising: a) a sound reproduction system, coupled to the housing; b) a power supply source, coupled to the sound reproduction system and configured to supply power to the sound reproduction system; and c) a sound reproduction initiator, coupled to the power supply source and configured to engage the power supply source to provide power to the sound reproduction system

Description:

PRIORITY INFORMATION

This application is based on, and claims priority to, the provisional application filed May 20, 2003 entitled “IMAGE VIEWING DEVICE AND METHOD”, serial number 60/472,552, as submitted by inventor.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a device and method for viewing an image. More particularly, the present invention is related to a device and method for storing an image within a stylized housing that is related, often thematically, to the content of the image. The image can then be viewed by looking through an aperture in the stylized housing of the device. The present invention also relates to storing an image and a sound producing device or light emitting device within the stylized housing, the sound producing device being configured to play a recorded message to which a viewer can listen while viewing the image, and the light emitting device being configured to illuminate the image within the device.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Thematic renderings of photographs, pictures, paintings, or similar graphic media are common and well known. Thus, it is recognized that there exists a desire to display images in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing and related to a particular theme. For this reason, a myriad of methods and devices have been developed to display images in connection with sense-stimulating devices. For example, pictures taken from a particular family vacation can be organized into a slide show presentation and shown while playing music in the background. This is often accomplished with the aid of a conventional projector or personal computer.

As another example, the common pastime of “scrap-booking” has grown increasingly popular as individuals strive to present pictorial images in a creative, unique and thematic manner. Scrap booking generally involves pasting thematically related photos on a page that contains coloring, additional images and/or textual matter. The additional images might, for example, be images of a birthday party decorated with images of balloons, cake, and similar party. The textual matter is often descriptive of the activity or the subject of the photos.

While such methods and devices allow for a sometimes pleasing presentation of images, they are either tedious to create so as to discourage frequent use, such as a slide show, or are generally bulky and not easily presentable, such as a family photo album. Accordingly, it remains problematic to present images in a convenient, aesthetically pleasing and thematic manner.

Further, the collection of nostalgia items in general, and sports memorabilia in particular, has grown into a strong and independent industry. There has been a recognized need for new theme-based products, which have the capability to display photographic and/or illustrated images. Particularly in the area of sports memorabilia, memory mates, trading cards, photographic prints, pennants and photo statuettes have been historically appealing to collectors. However, these known products do not provide a collector/user with the ability to customize images, and to do so within a thematic package.

The present articles of invention offer a unique experience while viewing images captured through photography or illustration. These articles may be designed and configured to correspond with the themes of the image(s) in view.

The following prior patents and/or patent applications are herein incorporated by reference for their supporting teachings:

U.S. design Pat. No. D401,605 of Shirley dated Nov. 24, 1998;

U.S. design Pat. No. D421,033 of Shirley, et al. dated Feb. 22, 2000;

U.S. design Pat. No. D421,034 of Shirley, et al. dated Feb. 22, 2000;

U.S. design Pat. No. D421,035 of Shirley, et al. dated Feb. 22, 2000;

U.S. design Pat. No. D421,762 of Shirley, et al. dated Mar. 22, 2000;

U.S. design application Ser. No. 29/198,959 of Shirley dated Feb. 6, 2004

U.S. design application Ser. No. 29/200,553 of Shirley dated Mar. 1, 2004

U.S. design application Ser. No. 29/200,554 of Shirley dated Mar. 1, 2004

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed generally to a method and device for viewing photographic or illustrated images through an article that may be designed to thematically correspond with the subject image. The present invention is designed and configured to resemble and feel like the actual theme based article, such as a sporting good or novelty item.

More particularly, the present invention provides, in part, for an image viewing system and device that includes a housing, which may be designed and configured so as to be thematically related to a subject image; a viewing aperture and a light induction aperture located in the housing; a light transmission channel contained within the housing to transmit light from the light induction aperture to the viewing aperture; an image bearing medium; and a media retention device, coupled to the housing to retain the image bearing medium to allow light to travel from the light induction aperture through the image bearing medium to the viewing aperture. Transparent or translucent lenses may be coupled within the viewing and light induction apertures to protect the contents of the housing from exposure to dust or moisture. A user can view the image contained on the image bearing medium by allowing light from an external source to enter the light induction aperture, the light then passing through the image bearing medium and entering the eye of the user through the image viewing aperture.

Further, the present invention provides for a method of viewing an image within an aesthetically pleasing and thematically designed housing, the method comprising the steps of: capturing an image or illustration onto an image bearing medium; placing the captured image onto a media retention device; sealing the media retention device within the housing; and viewing the image through the viewing aperture of said housing.

In accordance with a more detailed aspect of the present invention, the system includes a housing, which can be constructed so as to be thematically related to a subject image; at least one viewing apertures present in the housing; a light transmission channel contained within the housing; an image bearing medium; a media retention device, coupled to the housing to retain the image bearing medium; a light emission source, coupled to the housing; a power supply source configured to supply power to the light emission source; and a light emission source initiator, configured to engage the power supply source to provide power to the light emission source. Transparent lenses may be removably secured within the viewing apertures to protect the contents of the housing from exposure to dust or moisture. A use may then view the images contained on the image bearing medium by engaging the light emitting source and viewing the images through the viewing apertures.

In accordance with a more detailed aspect of the present invention, the system includes a housing, which can be constructed so as to be thematically related to an image to be viewed; at least two viewing apertures present in the housing; a light transmission channel contained within the housing; an image bearing medium; a media retention device, coupled to the housing to retain the image bearing medium; a light emission source, coupled to the housing; a power supply source configured to supply power to the light emission source; a light emission source initiator, configured to engage the power supply source to provide power to the light emission source; and a sound reproduction system. Transparent lenses may be removably secured within the viewing apertures to protect the contents of the housing from exposure to dust or moisture. A user may then view the images contained on the image bearing medium and listen to the sound recording on the storage device by engaging the light emitting source and sound reproduction system.

Additional features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the detailed description that follows, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which together illustrate, by way of example, features of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a front, right side perspective view of an image viewing device in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 1B is a rear, right side perspective view of the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 1A;

FIG. 1C is a right side cutaway view of an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2A is a front, left side perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2B is a rear, right side perspective view of the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 2A;

FIG. 3A is a top, front perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3B is a top, rear perspective view of the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 3A;

FIG. 4A is a front, right side perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4B is a rear, left side perspective view of the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 4A;

FIG. 5A is a front, right side perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5B is a rear, right side perspective view of the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 5A;

FIG. 6A is a front, right side perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6B is a rear, right side perspective view of the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 6A;

FIG. 7A is a front perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7B is a left perspective view of the embodiment of the present inventions shown in FIG. 7A;

FIG. 8A is a side view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8B is a top view of the embodiment of the present inventions shown in FIG. 8A;

FIG. 9A is a bottom view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9B is a top view of the embodiment of the present inventions shown in FIG. 9A;

FIG. 10 is a front view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a side view of the embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 10, with viewing and light induction lenses attached;

FIG. 12 is a side view of the embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 10, with viewing and light induction lenses removed;

FIG. 13 is a front view of the embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 12;

FIG. 14 is a front view of a diffuser assembly of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 13;

FIG. 15 is a side view of the diffuser assembly of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 13;

FIG. 16 is a rear view of the diffuser assembly of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 13, with light induction lens attached;

FIG. 17 is a side view of the diffuser assembly of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 15, with viewing and light induction lenses attached;

FIG. 18 is a top view of the diffuser assembly of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 17.

FIG. 19 is a rear view of the diffuser assembly of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 18.

FIG. 20 is a top view of a battery and light emitting source assembly of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 13;

FIG. 21 is a perspective transparent view of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 11;

FIG. 22A is a left side plan view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 22B is a rear, left side perspective view of the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 22A;

FIG. 22C is a front, left side perspective view of the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 22A;

FIG. 22D is a left side cutaway view of the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 22A;

FIG. 22E is a left side cutaway view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 13(a);

FIG. 23A is a left side plan view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 23B is a rear, left side perspective view of the embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 23A;

FIG. 23C is a front, left side perspective view of embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 23A; and

FIG. 23D is a left side cutaway view of the embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 23A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENT(S)

Reference will now be made to the exemplary embodiments illustrated in the drawings, and specific language will be used herein to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Alterations and further modifications of the inventive features illustrated herein, and additional applications of the principles of the inventions as illustrated herein, which would occur to one skilled in the relevant art and having possession of this disclosure, are to be considered within the scope of the invention.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1C, a general system 10 of the present invention is shown for an image viewing device. In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, the general system 10 provides a housing 12, in which are formed a viewing aperture 14 and a light induction aperture 16. The housing 12 can be formed of a myriad of materials, examples being plastic, wood, or cork, and can be constructed in a variety of shapes. The housing 12 of the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1A-1B is constructed in the shape of a baseball. As is illustrated in FIG. 1C, a general embodiment of the present invention, in cutaway view, shows the housing 12 contains a light transmission channel 18, which is designed and configured to transmit light to and from the viewing aperture 14 and light induction aperture 16. The housing 12 also contains a media retention device 20, which retains an image bearing medium 22. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B the image bearing medium 22 is shown as a transparent pictorial slide. In alternate embodiments, the image bearing medium may also be a photograph, a blank screen on which an image can be projected, or any image gearing medium known to one skilled in the art.

In the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIGS. 1A-1C, an image born by the image bearing medium 22 is viewed through the viewing aperture 14. Light from an external light source (not shown) passes through the light induction aperture 16. Light travels through the light transmission channel 18, through the image bearing medium 22, and into the viewing aperture 14. The resulting image transmitted through the viewing aperture 14 may be viewed by an individual looking through the viewing aperture 14. The image borne by the image bearing medium 22 can be of any type, but is preferably thematically related to the construction of the housing 12. In this embodiment, wherein the housing 12 is shaped as a baseball, the image may be of a baseball player, such as a little leaguer. Alternately, the image could be of a favorite baseball player, such as one generally contained on baseball playing cards.

The light transmission channel 18 may be configured to be of any cross-sectional shape, such as a square or rectangular, but is preferably generally cylindrical. In the embodiment of FIGS. 1A-1C, the light transmission channel 18 can taper in diameter from a larger diameter at the light induction aperture 16 to a smaller diameter at the viewing aperture 14. In this manner, the viewing and light induction apertures 14, 16 can be formed by drilling or otherwise removing material from the housing 12 through a boring or similar excavating manufacturing process. Once the general shape of the light transmission channel 18 is formed within the housing 12, the light transmission channel 18 can be inserted into the housing 12 from the larger diameter light induction aperture 16. In this manner, the housing 12 can be constructed of one continuous piece and the light transmission channel 18 can be easily assembled and inserted. For example, the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1A-1B can be formed by using a standard baseball as the housing 12. The housing 12 may also be constructed of two or more pieces and assembled around the light transmission channel 18.

The light transmission channel 18 could otherwise be of a unitary diameter or could taper from a larger diameter at the viewing aperture 14 to a smaller diameter at the light induction aperture 16. The media retention device 20 may be coupled to the interior of the housing 12 or may be coupled to the light transmission channel 18. In addition, the light transmission channel 18 can be formed by the internal walls 19 of the housing 12, without requiring additional structural support.

The viewing aperture 14 and the light induction aperture 16 may also be fitted with a viewing lens 24 and a light induction lens 26, respectively. In this manner, the interior of the housing 12 may be protected from exposure to environmental conditions, such as moisture and dust. After the general shape of the transmission channel is formed in the housing 12, the transmission channel may be inserted into the housing until the light induction lens fits snuggly against the exterior of the housing. The viewing lens 24 can then be inserted into the opposing end of the light transmission channel 18 and set into place.

The viewing lens 24 is shown in FIG. 1A is generally larger than the diameter of the viewing aperture 14 and protrudes above the surface of the housing 12. Alternately, the viewing lens 24 may be made such that it is recessed below the external surface of the housing 12. Similarly, the light induction lens 26 shown in FIG. 1B is generally larger than the light induction aperture 16 and protrudes above the surface of the housing 12. Alternately, the light induction lens may be made such that it is recessed below the external surface of the housing 12. In addition, the corners of the light induction lens 26 may be configured to have a rounded shape. The viewing aperture 14 and viewing lens 24 may be configured in a circular, rectangular, square, or other shape known to one skilled in the art. Similarly, the light induction aperture 16 and light induction lens 26 may be configured in a circular, rectangular, square, or other shape known to one skilled in the art.

Now referring to FIGS. 2A and 2B, alternate embodiments of the present invention are shown. As alternate embodiments to FIGS. 1A and 1B, a general football shaped system and housing for the present embodiment are shown in their respective figures at 200 and 220.

Now referring to FIGS. 3A and 3B, alternate embodiments of the present invention are shown. As alternate embodiments to FIGS. 1A and 1B, a general hockey puck shaped system and housing for the present embodiment are shown in their respective figures at 300 and 320.

Now referring to FIGS. 4A and 4B, alternate embodiments of the present invention are shown. As alternate embodiments to FIGS. 1A and 1B, a general basketball shaped system and housing for the present embodiment are shown in their respective figures at 400 and 420.

Now referring to FIGS. 5A and 5B, alternate embodiments of the present invention are shown. As alternate embodiments to FIGS. 1A and 1B, a general golf ball shaped system and housing for the present embodiment are shown in their respective figures at 500 and 520.

Now referring to FIGS. 6A and 6B, alternate embodiments of the present invention are shown. As alternate embodiments to FIGS. 1A and 1B, a general soccer ball shaped system and housing for the present embodiment are shown in their respective figures at 600 and 620.

Now referring to FIGS. 7A and 7B, alternate embodiments of the present invention are shown. As alternate embodiments to FIGS. 1A and 1B, a general golf club shaped system and housing for the present embodiment are shown in their respective figures at 700 and 720.

Now referring to FIGS. 8A and 8B, alternate embodiments of the present invention are shown. As alternate embodiments to FIGS. 1A and 1B, a general helmet shaped system and housing for the present embodiment are shown in their respective figures at 800 and 820.

Now referring to FIGS. 9A and 9B, alternate embodiments of the present invention are shown. As alternate embodiments to FIGS. 1A and 1B, a general model globe shaped system and housing for the present embodiment are shown in their respective figures at 900 and 920.

These embodiments are included for illustrative purposes in order to provide a small sample of the many potential thematic shapes that the housing 12 may adopt, and are thus not considered to limit the scope of the present invention in any way. For further examples of housing 12 designs, please refer to Variations Of The Invention below. All of the features and advantages of the embodiments discussed above may be present in all of the alternate embodiments.

Now referring to FIG. 10, there is shown an alternate embodiment of the present invention with the general system 1000 and housing 1012, designed and configured in a manner that is devoid of thematic design. As in previous embodiments, the light induction aperture 16 and light induction lens 26 are formed within a first side of the housing 1012. In contrast to previous embodiments, however, the light induction lens 26 is shown embedded within the housing 1012 such that the exterior surface of the light induction lens 26 is flush with the exterior of the housing 12.

Now referring to FIG. 11, there is shown the embodiment of FIG. 10 in side view. The viewing aperture 14 and viewing lens 24 are visible, wherein the viewing lens 24 is mounted atop an exterior surface of the housing 1012.

Now referring to FIG. 12, there is shown the embodiment of FIG. 10, in side view, with the viewing lens 24 and light induction lens 26 removed. Thus, the viewing aperture 14 and light induction aperture 16 are more easily recognized.

Now referring to FIG. 13, there is shown a front view of the embodiment of FIG. 10, with the light induction lens 26 removed. With the light induction lens 26 removed, the light transmission channel 18 and internal walls 19 are made more clearly visible. Further, an energy source housing 28, designed and configured to receive and store an energy source, such as a battery, is shown to be integrally attached to a top portion of the light transmission channel 18. An energy source 30, such as a battery, is shown as seated within the energy source housing 28. Also shown is an internal light source 40, designed and configured to provide artificial light to the light transmission channel 18. The internal light source 40 is shown as attached to a top portion of the light transmission channel 18, as secured to a surface of one of the internal walls 19.

Now referring to FIG. 14, there is shown the embodiment of FIG. 10 in front view, with a diffuser assembly 32 as separated from the housing 1012. The diffuser assembly 32 is designed and configured for insertion into the housing 1012, as previously described and shown. The diffuser assembly 32 may be removably secured within the housing 1012 in order to facilitate maintenance or replacement of parts appending thereto. The diffuser assembly 32, as shown, includes and forms the light transmission channel 18, the internal walls 19, the energy source housing 28, the energy source 30, and the internal light source 40.

Now referring to FIG. 15, there is shown a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 10, and more particularly the diffuser assembly 32 of FIG. 15. The diffuser assembly 32 forms and supports the viewing aperture 14 and light induction aperture 16, as previously shown and described. In addition to those elements previously identified, there is shown a pair of lead wires 34 connecting the energy source 30 to the internal light source 40.

Now referring to FIG. 16, there is shown rear view of the embodiment of FIG. 10, particularly the diffuser assembly 32 of FIG. 15. For the present view, the light induction lens 26 is shown as attached to the diffuser assembly 32.

Now referring to FIG. 17, there is shown a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 10, particularly the diffuser assembly 32 and light induction lens 26 of FIG. 16. For the present view, the viewing lens 24 is shown as attached to the diffuser assembly 32. The viewing lens 14 may be rotated such that an open circuit created by the lead wires 34, energy source 30 and internal light source 40 is closed. In this manner, the viewing lens 24 serves as a switch for closing the circuit for the internal light source 40. In furtherance of this purpose, it is necessary that the viewing lens 14, or a contact portion of the same, be constructed of a sufficiently conductive material in order to close the circuit for the internal light source 40.

Now referring to FIG. 18, there is shown a top view of the embodiment of FIG. 10, particularly the diffuser assembly 32, light induction lens 26 and viewing lens 24 of FIG. 17.

Now referring to FIG. 19, there is shown a rear view of the embodiment of FIG. 10, particularly the diffuser assembly 32, light induction lens 26 and viewing lens 24 of FIG. 18.

Now referring to FIG. 20, there is shown a side view of a light emitting source assembly 42 of the embodiment of FIG. 10. A set of battery mounts 44 is designed and configured to support the light emitting source assembly 42 and to secure the same to the diffuser assembly 32. Further, a pair of battery contacts 42 is designed and configured to connect a battery, or plurality of batteries, to the lead wires 34. The battery mounts 44 may be removably secured to the energy source housing 28 of the diffuser assembly 32. connect the energy source 30 to the internal light source 40 via the lead wires 34. Further, within the circuit created by lead wires 34, energy source 30, and internal light source 40, there is a circuit interrupt 50 for switching on and off the internal light source 40. The circuit interrupt 50 consists of a pair of switch contacts 48. When the switch pads 48 ere connected by a conductive material, such as the viewing lens 24, the circuit is closed and electricity flows to the internal light source 40.

Now referring to FIG. 21, there is shown a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 10, wherein the housing 1012 is shown in transparent form. Visible within the transparent housing 1012, is the diffuser assembly 32, the light induction lens 26, and the viewing lens 14.

A further alternate embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 22A through 22E. In addition to the features and advantages presented above, an image viewing device 2200 is provided that includes a housing 12, a first viewing aperture 14 and first viewing lens 24, and a second viewing aperture 14′ and second viewing lens 24′. As illustrated by FIG. 13D, also included in this embodiment is an internal light source 40 powered by a battery 30, or similar energy source. A light initiation device 50 is provided to energize the internal light source 40. Two media retention devices 20 and 20′ retain two image bearing media 22 and 22′. The internal light source 40, once powered by the battery 30, emits light through the light transmission channels 18 and through both image bearing media 22 and 22′. An individual may then view each image through either viewing aperture 14 or 14′.

The present embodiment is not limited to two apertures or images. Conversely, any number of either may be utilized within the scope and vision of the present disclosure. In the illustrated embodiment(s), two images, which might be thematically related, may be contained and viewed in the image viewing device. For example, such a device can be advantageously used to display an individual photo of a baseball player through one viewing aperture and a group photo of the player's team through the other aperture. Alternately, photos of both sides of a reproduced baseball trading card could be viewed.

The light initiation device 50 may be a simple switch, such as a push button, that extends above the external surface of the housing 12 and is activated when a user pushes the button. Alternately, the light initiation device 50 may be a motion sensor, that initiates the light when motion is detected, such as when the viewing device is picked up, and allows the light to turn off when stationary. Alternately, as shown in FIG. 22D, the light initiation device may be an open circuit, which is closed and activates when a circuit pad 52 is grasped by a person who is electrically grounded to the floor. It is envisioned within the scope of the present invention that any similar initiation device known to one skilled in the art could also be used.

FIG. 22E shows another embodiment 2210 of the present invention. In this embodiment, the diameter of the light transmission channel may taper from a large diameter at the image retention device 20 to a smaller diameter at the first viewing aperture 14. In this manner, the image viewing device can be formed of one continuous piece, with a portion removed for insertion of the light transmission channels 18. As discussed before, the housing 12 can also be formed of two or more pieces that can be assembled around the light transmission channels 18. Alternately, the interior walls 19 of the housing can be used as the borders of the light transmission channel 18, without requiring additional structural support.

Another embodiment of the present invention, indicated generally at 2300, is shown in FIG. 23A. This embodiment includes all of the features and advantages of the previous embodiment and also includes a sound recording storage device 54 coupled to a sound producing device 56. When activated, the sound producing device 56 reproduces the sound recording stored on the sound recording storage device 54 and plays a pre-recorded message which is broadcast at 58 from the sound producing device 56. The sound message may be thematically related to the images being viewed. For instance, a grandchild could record a message explaining that the images contained in the housing are from his or her first year of the little league baseball. The grandparent could then listen to recording while viewing the images. The present invention thus provides an aesthetically pleasing, multi-sensory image presentation.

The sound producing device 56 can include a sound recording storage device 54 and can also be coupled to and powered by the battery 30. The sound recording storage device 54 and sound producing device 56 can also be initiated by the light initiation device 50. As an alternate source of power and activation, all of the sound devices could be supplied with independent power and initiation devices (not shown).

FIGS. 23A-23C illustrate how the embodiment shown in FIG. 23D may appear from the exterior. The image viewing device 2300 will appear very much like the previous embodiments, with the addition of the sound producing device 56, which broadcasts sounds at 58. The sound producing device 56 may be located anywhere on the periphery of the housing 12. The sound producing device 56 may also be located beneath the surface of the housing so as not to be visible to a user.

It is to be understood that the above-referenced arrangements are only illustrative of the application for the principles of the present invention. Numerous modifications and alternative arrangements can be devised without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention while the present invention has been shown in the drawings and fully described above with particularity and detail in connection with what is presently deemed to be the most practical and preferred embodiment(s) of the invention, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that numerous modifications can be made without departing from the principles and concepts of the invention as set forth in this specification.

VARIATIONS OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENT(S)

It has been recognized that it would be advantageous to develop a device and method for viewing images in an aesthetically pleasing and thematic package. In addition to the specific embodiments disclosed herein, the present invention also includes a number of variations as described briefly below. For example, it is also contemplated to be within the scope of the present invention to provide for a device and method for viewing images in a generic package, i.e. void of thematic elements and design. Consistent with this purpose, the housing may be formed in wide variety of geometric configurations, such as egg-shapes, heart-shapes, pyramids, cubes, spheres, cylinders, or other shapes. Such configurations need not incorporate any specific theme or exterior design.

Further, the housing may also be formed in a wide variety of thematically related shapes and/or designs. In addition to those specifically disclosed herein, as provided for illustrative purposes only and not in limitation, the following is a list of alternate themes: bowling ball, tennis ball, football helmet, racing helmet, tennis ball, automobile tire, cruise ship, megaphone, rifle scope, fishing reel, snow ball, crystal ball, billiard ball, volley ball, softball, rugby ball, house, hotel, skate board, dancing shoe, beach ball, ornament, musical instrument, airplane, boat, or automobile.

It is also envisioned within the scope of the present to provide for image viewing devices that may be constructed of materials that are similar, or identical, to the materials used for the mimicked article and theme. Such devices may be pad-printed, decaled and autographed.

The internal light source may be an LED, bulb, or similar light source. The viewing lens may be designed such that the lens provides magnification of the image borne within.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the invention includes a projection screen, disposed within the housing, and in operative communication with a storage device. The storage device can contain, or have stored upon it, data relating to image files. The image files may include a wide array of images, such as images of children, sports figures, etc., as discussed above. The projection screen may be an LCD projector, or similar device as is known to those skilled in the art. The data storage device can be a flash memory card, microchip, etc. as is also known in the art. Activation and power means can be provided to power and control the storage device and operate the projection screen.