Title:
Illuminated stepping stone
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides an illuminated stepping stone including a block having a top surface. At least one rod is embedded within the block, the rod having a first end and a second end, the rod being positioned such that the second end is visible from the top surface. A light source is located within the block and placed close enough to the first end to illuminate the first end. When electricity is supplied to illuminate the light source, the second end of the rod will also be illuminated. The block is preferably cement and the rods are preferably acrylic. The light source is preferably a bright, long-lasting, and energy efficient LED. In the preferred embodiment, the light source of a first stone may be connected to the light source of a second stone, thereby allowing several stones to be connected in series or in parallel.



Inventors:
Benavente, Roy C. (Olympia, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/452751
Publication Date:
12/28/2006
Filing Date:
06/13/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01F9/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
TON, ANABEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kevin, Steinacker (Ste. 1401, 1201 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA, 98402, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An illuminated stepping stone comprising: a block including a top surface; at least one rod located within the block, said rod having a first end and a second end, said second end being visible from the top surface, said rod being capable of transmitting light from said first end to said second end; at least one light source located within the block, positioned such that it will illuminate said first end, thereby illuminating said second end when said light source is illuminated; and means for providing electrical power to the light source.

2. The stepping stone of claim 1, further comprising: a cavity within the block, said first end being adjacent to or within said cavity, and said light source being located within said cavity.

3. The stepping stone of claim 1, further comprising: means to electrically connect said light source to a second light source in a second illuminated stepping stone.

4. The stepping stone of claim 1, in which said light source is comprised of an assembly with one or more light-emitting diodes (LEDs) spaced around a perimeter of the assembly, said LEDs being operably connected to the means for providing electrical power.

5. The stepping stone of claim 1, in which said rod is made of a transparent or translucent plastic such as acrylic.

6. The stepping stone of claim 1, in which said block is formed of cement.

7. The stepping stone of claim 1, in which the second end of each rod is located within an opening in said top surface, there being one opening for each rod, said second end being even with said top surface.

8. The stepping stone of claim 1, in which said top surface includes a plurality of raised portions to improve traction.

9. The stepping stone of claim 1, in which one or more pieces of acrylic are inlaid into the top surface in physical contact with at least one second end.

10. An illuminated stepping stone, comprising: a block including a top surface and a cavity, said cavity being located within said block; at least one rod located within the block, said rod having a first end and a second end, said rod being capable of transmitting light from said first end to said second end, said first end being within or adjacent to said cavity and said second end being visible from the top surface; a light source located within said cavity, said light source being comprised of an assembly, at least one light-emitting diode (LED), there being an equal number of LEDs and rods, said light source being positioned such that each LED will illuminate said first end of one of said rods, thereby illuminating said second end when said light source is illuminated, said LED being operably connected to means for providing electrical power; and means for connecting said light source to a second light source in a second illuminated stepping stone.

11. The stepping stone of claim 10, in which said rod is made of a transparent or translucent plastic such as acrylic.

12. The stepping stone of claim 10, in which said block is formed of cement.

13. The stepping stone of claim 10, in which the second end of each rod is located within an opening in said top surface, there being one opening for each rod, said second end being even with said top surface.

14. The stepping stone of claim 10, in which one or more pieces of acrylic are inlaid into the top surface in physical contact with at least one second end.

15. The stepping stone of claim 10, in which said top surface is includes a plurality of raised portions to improve traction.

16. The stepping stone of claim 3 wherein a plurality of stones are connected in series.

17. The stepping stone of claim 3 wherein a plurality of stones are connected in parallel.

18. The stepping stone of claim 10 wherein a plurality of stones are connected in series.

19. The stepping stone of claim 10 wherein a plurality of stones are connected in parallel.

20. An illuminated stepping stone, comprising: a block including a top surface, a bottom surface, and a cavity, said cavity being located within said block, and said bottom surface having an opening to said cavity; a housing located within said cavity, said housing including a perimeter with at least one hole on said perimeter; at least one rod located within the block, said rod having a first end and a second end, said rod being capable of transmitting light from said first end to said second end, said first end being attached to one of said holes on said perimeter of said housing, said second end being visible from the top surface and even with the top surface; a light source located within said housing, said light source being removable from said housing through said opening in said bottom surface, said light source being comprised of an assembly, at least one light-emitting diode (LED), there being an equal number of LEDs and rods, said light source being positioned such that each LED is in physical contact with said first end of one of said rods, thereby illuminating said second end when said light source is illuminated, said LED being operably connected to means for providing electrical power; and means for connecting said light source to a second light source in a second illuminated stepping stone.

Description:

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH:

N/A.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to illuminated landscaping products and more particularly to an illuminated stepping stone.

PRIORITY

The applicant claims priority from a Provisional Patent Application filed on Jun. 14, 2005, under Application No. 60/690,447.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The prior art includes illuminated stepping stones, bricks, and other products for landscaping and paving applications. However, the prior art objects that are intended primarily for landscaping often utilize a hollow brick or stone which affects the amount of weight the stone is able to support. Some of the prior art objects have a transparent surface so that the light within the device is visible from the top, but this surface may often be obscured by dirt, leaves, or other common debris when used in an outdoor setting, thus reducing the amount of visible light and making the object less attractive. Furthermore, prior art light sources require more power in order for the light to be clearly visible.

Thus, there is a need for a stepping stone to be used in landscaping and other applications that will support as much weight as a standard stone without damage to the stone or its light source and yet may be illuminated by light that is clearly visible without undue maintenance and does not require a significant power source. The present invention fulfills this and other needs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides an illuminated stepping stone including a block having a top surface. At least one rod is embedded within the block, the rod having a first end and a second end, the rod being positioned such that the second end is visible from the top surface. A light source is located within the block and placed close enough to the first end to illuminate the first end. When electricity is supplied to illuminate the light source, the second end of the rod will also be illuminated. The block is preferably cement and the rods are preferably acrylic. The light source is preferably a bright, long-lasting, and energy efficient LED. In the preferred embodiment, the light source of a first stone may be connected to the light source of a second stone, thereby allowing several stones to be connected in series or in parallel.

When the block is formed of cement or a similar material, with the acrylic rods embedded therein, the stepping stone is as strong and durable as a standard stone, and yet provides attractive lighting. Pieces of acrylic material may be inlaid into the top surface of the stone in physical contact with the second end of a rod so that the acrylic on the surface will also be illuminated. The block may be of virtually any shape. The top surface may have grooves or raised portions to create an attractive pattern or to provide traction.

The light source may be secured within the block via screws, for example, to allow it to be removed for maintenance. The light source may be connected to a timer, switch, photovoltaic sensor, motion detector, pressure sensor, or sound sensor to illuminate and extinguish the lighted stones according to predetermined conditions. The light source may contain a voltage transformer or regulator or additional circuitry to improve functioning of the stone.

To construct the stone, the acrylic rods may be glued to holes in a housing made of plastic or another suitable material and then placed into a mold for the stepping stone. The plastic housing is covered on one side to create a cavity inside the housing with the rods outside the cavity. Cement is poured around the rods and the plastic housing and allowed to harden. The block is thus formed around the rods. The light source is then secured in the cavity in the plastic housing.

One skilled in the art will recognize that the disclosed invention may be used indoors or in walls equally as well as in an outdoor landscaping stone context.

The above summary of the present invention is not intended to represent each embodiment, or every aspect, of the present invention. Additional features and benefits of the present invention are apparent from the detailed description, figures, and claims set forth below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the stepping stone

FIG. 2 is a side cross-sectional view taken along the line 2-2 in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a top cross-sectional view taken along the line 3-3 in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is perspective view of the bottom of the stepping stone, showing how the light unit may be inserted into a cavity in the block.

While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments are shown by way of example in the drawings and are described in detail herein. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not intended to be limited to the particular forms disclosed. Rather, the invention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIGS. 1-4, an illuminated stepping stone (10) includes a cement block (11) having a top surface (12), the top surface having a plurality of holes (13). Acrylic rods (14) are embedded within the block (11), each rod having a first end (15) and a second end (16), the second end (16) visible through the holes (13) in the top surface (12). A cavity (17) is located within the block. A light source (18) having an assembly (19) and a plurality of light-emitting diodes (20) on a perimeter of the assembly (19) is positioned within the cavity (17) such that each LED (20) is in contact with the first end (15) of each rod (14). A power cord (21) supplies electricity.

While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and herein described in detail. It should be understood, however, that it is not intended to limit the invention to the particular forms disclosed, but on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.