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This application claims priority from Patent Cooperation Treaty application number PCT/CH2006/000152, filed Mar. 15, 2006, which claims priority from Swiss patent application number 558/05, filed Mar. 30, 2005
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates to a walking-stick umbrella as well as a method for engraving a walking stick of a walking-stick umbrella.
2. Description of the Related Art
Walking-stick umbrellas, in particular umbrellas for rain, are not only indispensable articles of daily use in many parts of the world, but are often also a part of the individual image of their users, and are thus dependent on the user's personal sense of taste. As a result, the design of walking-stick umbrellas is dependent not only on the basic purpose—protection in particular against sun or rain—but also on additional aspects of a technical or design nature.
A particular design of the covering, the walking stick or the grip is intended to make a walking-stick umbrella stand out in a favorable way from the large number of other umbrella models. Walking-stick umbrellas are also popular promotional articles, since on the one hand the covering is a good vehicle for advertising messages and on the other hand users require new walking-stick umbrellas relatively frequently, because the old ones get lost or damaged.
As an example of a walking-stick umbrella with an additional technical aspect, RU 2,180,793 C2 shows a walking-stick umbrella with a luminous body which can be fitted on the tip of the walking-stick umbrella. The aim is increased safety due to improved visibility at night and in rain. CH 679,266 A5 shows a walking-stick umbrella whose light-transmitting walking stick is illuminated by an incandescent lamp located in the grip. Apart from the favorable effect of increased safety in road traffic due to the improved visibility of the umbrella user at dusk or in darkness, the walking stick capable of being illuminated also makes such a walking-stick umbrella attractive as a gift. A drawback, however, is the rapid exhaustion of the energy carrier, with the aid of which the incandescent lamps are operated. In case of need, therefore, only limited reliance can be placed on problem-free functioning of such a walking-stick umbrella. The reason for the rapid energy exhaustion is, in particular, the simple switching-on and switching-off mechanism of the incandescent lamp, for example in the form of a sliding switch which closes a corresponding electric circuit. If a user forgets to switch off the incandescent lamp after the walking-stick umbrella has been used, the batteries run flat within an extremely short time. If a walking-stick umbrella is folded together after use, the walking stick which may still be illuminated can no longer be seen, and the user is no longer able to notice his oversight.
It is desirable to make available a walking-stick umbrella, whose walking stick can be illuminated and whose fault-free function is also ensured by means of suitable means over a longer period of time.
The present invention is a walking-stick umbrella, comprising a grip element, a walking stick and a covering. The walking stick is made from an at least partially transparent or light-transmitting material. The grip element contains an energy storage element, a luminous element with which light can be irradiated into the walking stick, and an electronic device with which the luminous element can be automatically controlled.
Other objects, advantages, features and characteristics of the present invention, as well as methods, operation and function of related elements of structure, and the combination of parts and economies of deployment, will become apparent upon consideration of the following description and claims with reference to the accompanying drawing, which forms a part of this specification, wherein:
FIG. 1 shows a possible design of a walking-stick umbrella according to the invention.
FIG. 2a shows a possible design of a grip element of a walking-stick umbrella according to the invention, in longitudinal section.
FIGS. 2b and 2c show a detail of a longitudinal section through a grip element of a walking-stick umbrella according to the invention in a further possible design.
FIGS. 3a and 3b show two variants of a walking stick of a walking-stick umbrella according to the invention, said walking stick provided with graphic elements.
FIGS. 4a, 4b and 4c show possible variants of a method for engraving a walking stick of a walking-stick umbrella according to the invention.
FIG. 1 shows a walking-stick umbrella 1 according to the invention, including a walking stick 3 with a first end 3a and a second end 3b, a covering 4 and a grip element 2. Covering 4 is held taut by means of a linkage 4b, linkage 4b being centred on walking stick 3 by means of a guide element 4a and being able to be fixed. The arrangement of these elements corresponds to the prior art.
Walking stick 3 is made of at least partially transparent or light-transmitting material and is essentially rod-shaped, whereby its cross-section can have various suitable shapes, in particular round; oval; with three, four or more corners; and semicircular. A corrugated design of walking stick 3 is also possible.
Grip element 2 serves primarily for holding walking stick 1 and can have various standard design shapes, such as for example the shape of a handle, as in the example shown in FIG. 1, a cylinder, a knob, or another ergonomically functional shape. Grip element 2 can be produced from polymer, metal, wood or another suitable material.
Arranged in the interior of grip element 2 of a walking-stick umbrella 1 according to the invention (not visible in FIG. 1) is at least one energy storage element, at least one luminous element, and an electronic device. Batteries or rechargeable accumulators, for example with standard size AA (Mignon) or AAA (Micro), can be used as energy storage elements.
The luminous element illuminates transparent or light-transmitting walking stick 3 from first end 3a with electromagnetic radiation in the region of the visible spectrum and/or the adjacent infrared and ultraviolet regions. The effect of this is that the whole walking stick 3 radiates light to the exterior. Polymers, such as for example Plexiglas (polymethylmethacrylate, PMMA), are particularly well suited as the material for producing the walking stick. Other materials can however also be used which, apart from the required light-transmitting properties, possess the required mechanical strength with regard to breaking and bending, which a walking-stick umbrella 3 must possess. The optical impression of walking stick 3 is very important, especially when walking stick 3 is illuminated, since an attractive appearance of a walking-stick umbrella 1 according to the invention when in use is after all the most important reason for a purchasing decision, i.e. for a favorable emotional effect when a walking-stick umbrella according to the invention is received as a gift.
The walking-stick umbrella can be colored, for example by the addition of pigments and dyes, or it can contain other additives such as for example mica-like materials, metallic or glass particles, etc. Plexiglas rods are available in the trade which have been drawn out during extrusion, which leads to the formation of more or less large drop-shaped cavities. This creates an attractive optical effect when the walking stick is illuminated. When use is made of fluorescent dyes or pigments, it is also possible to cause walking stick 3 to fluoresce due to irradiation with ultraviolet light (black light).
FIG. 2 shows in longitudinal section a grip element 2 for use in a walking-stick umbrella 1 according to the invention, said grip element being connected to a first end 3a of walking stick 3 in a form-fit and/or friction-locked manner. In the example shown, first end 3a of walking stick 3 is inserted into a clamping sleeve 12 and is held in a friction-locked manner by the latter. Screwing or gluing is however also possible.
Clamping sleeve 12 at a front end 13a of grip element 2 has an opening in the extension of the walking-stick, in which opening a luminous element 5 is disposed. The luminous element preferably comprises a light-emitting diode or another illuminant with a low current consumption. A laser diode can also be used. A plurality of illuminants can also be combined to form a luminous element 5, which in addition can have different colors, so that color mixtures or color changes are possible. Light-emitting diode arrangements can be obtained which comprise a plurality of individually controllable light-emitting diodes integrated in a housing, which can irradiate red, green and blue light. With such luminous elements, light of any color, in particular also white light, can be generated. The light yield, and thus the operational period up to replacement of the energy storage elements, can be further optimized by using luminous elements 5 with an incorporated reflector.
Luminous element 5 is operated by means of an electronic device 7. An operation of luminous element 5 that is as energy-saving as possible is the primary purpose of electronic device 7. In particular, electronic device 7 can switch off luminous element 5 automatically. By means of a pushbutton 15 provided on the outside of grip element 2, the user can manually instruct electronic device 7 to switch on or off luminous element 5. To advantage, such a pushbutton 15 is designed watertight in order to ensure trouble-free operation even when it is raining. Pushbutton 15 can also be replaced by another kind of switch.
In an advantageous embodiment, electronic device 7 uses a measurement signal from at least one sensor element 14, 14a, 14b, to which device 7 is electrically connected. Such measurement signals can be used by electronic device 7 to control luminous element 5 according to the current ambient situation and the remaining energy supply in an as energy-efficient manner as possible.
A pressure-sensitive sensor element 14, such as for example a pressure-sensitive resistor, which is disposed at an outer side of grip element 2, can be used to ascertain whether a user is holding the walking-stick umbrella, because then pressure is exerted on grip element 2 and sensor element 14.
A luminosity-sensitive sensor element 14a, such as for example a photo resistor or light/voltage transformer, can be used to determine the ambient luminosity. On the basis of the obtained measured value, electronic device 7 can then regulate the intensity of the light irradiated by luminous element 5 into the walking stick. In particular, the light can be automatically switched on at dusk or the light intensity can be reduced in the presence of very good luminosity conditions, which subsequently also reduces the energy consumption and increases the useful life of energy storage elements 6.
In a further advantageous embodiment of a walking-stick umbrella 1 according to the invention, a sensor 14b is fitted to walking stick 3, said sensor being able to register the opening and closing of the walking-stick umbrella. This has the advantage that electronic device 7 can switch off luminous element 5 immediately when walking-stick umbrella 1 is closed. Automatic switching-on when the walking-stick umbrella is opened or a short light pulse sequence is also possible.
Various technical variants are possible for the provision of such a sensor 14b, for example a Hall sensor, which can register the passing of a guide element 4a of linkage 4b running on the walking stick. For this purpose, guide element 4a must be provided with a magnet. Other possibilities are optical or pressure-sensitive sensors 14b; electrical contacts which are closed with the passage of the guide element or with latching into an end position; or coils which change their inductance with a passage of a metallic guide element 4a.
It is also possible to equip a walking-stick umbrella 1 according to the invention with a movement or positional sensor. An electronic device 7 is thus in a position to switch off luminous element 5 in the case of continuous non-movement of walking-stick umbrella 1 or in the case of a continuous non-vertical orientation of walking stick 3, because then it can be assumed that the walking-stick umbrella has been put down by its user or, for example, has been stored in a luggage compartment or an umbrella stand. Automatic switching-on with reuse may similarly be appropriate.
As already mentioned, luminous element 5 can be fashioned in such a way that light with at least two colors can be irradiated into walking stick 3. Electronic device 7 can be equipped in such a way that a time-related variation of the resulting light color and intensity can be achieved. The user can be given an appealing optical impression with such a “play of colors”.
A further possibility is an optical and/or acoustic warning when there is a falling supply voltage of energy storage elements 6, for example with the warning flashing of luminous element 5 or with an acoustic signal of a miniaturized piezo loudspeaker.
In the example shown in FIG. 2a, two energy storage elements 6 are connected in series, which may be necessary in order to achieve the minimum voltage required for the operation of light-emitting diodes or semiconductor components present in electronic device 7. Various tried and tested solutions, in particular fixing by means of a spring, are known from the prior art for the advantageous mounting of such energy storage elements 6, usually batteries or accumulators. A rear part 13 which can be unscrewed permits the replacement of energy storage elements 6. The use of a removable holder element, in which energy storage elements 6 can be inserted, is also possible.
FIG. 2b shows a detail of a longitudinal section through front end 13a of a grip element 2 in a further embodiment. Walking stick 3 is provided at the end face of first end 3a with a recess, which can be produced for example by drilling, milling or smelting. To advantage, the shape of the recess is selected in such a way that a luminous element 5 can be fit as flush as possible. The configuration shown in FIG. 2b has the advantage that all the light irradiated by luminous element 5 passes into the interior of walking stick 3, which further improves the energy efficiency. It is also advantageous to apply a reflecting layer 18 at the luminous-element end of walking stick 3 and/or in the region of the surface of walking stick 3 that is located in the interior of grip element 2.
FIG. 2c shows a possible embodiment of a rear end 13 of a grip element 2 for use in a walking-stick umbrella 1 according to the invention. Grip element 2 is provided with additional luminous elements 5a, and can be used for example as a pocket lamp. To advantage, the control also takes place by means of electronic device 7. In such an embodiment, it is particularly advantageous to design grip element 2 removable from walking stick 3. This can be achieved by a reversible fixing of grip element 2 to walking stick 3, for example by means of a screw, plug or bayonet fastening. Such a configuration of a walking-stick umbrella according to the invention has the additional advantage that the user can use grip element 2 as an independent pocket lamp, for example when it is not raining or when the remainder of the walking-stick umbrella is damaged or is no longer fit for use.
The arrangement of the components of grip element 2 shown in FIGS. 2a, 2b and 2c is to be understood merely by way of example and can also be designed differently, as long as the technical function is still guaranteed. The example shown of grip element 2 is cylindrical. If grip element 2 has a different shape, another arrangement may perhaps also have to be selected for its components.
For the use of walking-stick umbrellas 1 according to the invention as promotional articles or personal gifts, an individual design of illuminated walking stick 3 is particularly advantageous. Apart from the already mentioned possibilities of an attractive design of the walking stick, it is also possible to apply graphic elements 16, 16a to the walking stick, for example in the form of lettering or a logo. This can be achieved by conventional printing processes, or by engraving or other physical or chemical processing methods. In particular, graphic elements 16, 16a can be produced in the interior of the walking stick by means of a laser engraving method. With such a method, a light beam, as a rule a laser beam, is irradiated from the exterior into material 10 of walking stick 3, whereby material 10, for example Plexiglas, changes at the focusing point of the laser beam. In the three-dimensional matrix of a transparent material 10, a visible dot emerges in the form of a small non-transparent, whitish volume. Two- or three-dimensional patterns can be produced by suitable displacement of the focusing point, such as are shown for example in FIGS. 3a and 3b. FIG. 3a shows on the left in a parallel projection a short section of a walking stick 3 for use in a walking-stick umbrella 1 according to the invention. In the interior of the walking stick, a graphic element 16 in the form of the lettering “Werbung” is laser-engraved in material 10. On the right in FIG. 3a, the same walking stick 3 is shown in plan view onto the longitudinal axis of the walking stick. Laser-engraved lettering 16 lies in a plane in the centre of the walking stick. When walking stick 3 is illuminated by illumination element 5, the irradiated light is scattered at the laser-engraved sites, which as a result looks as though the lettering is shining.
A word or picture mark, a logo, a company name or the name of a person to be presented with a gift, for example, can be used as graphic element 16. Depending on the use, laser-engraving can be used in mass production or in the manufacture of single units to produce a personalized gift.
FIG. 3b shows that three-dimensional graphic elements are also possible. First graphic elements 16a are located in a first plane, and second graphic elements 16 are located in a second plane.
In the production of graphic elements 16, 16a in walking sticks 3, the problem arises that a laser beam 17 is broken when it strikes the surface of a walking stick 3. If this surface is not a plane, as is the case for example with walking sticks with a round cross-section, the laser beam cannot be focused on a single point in the matrix of material 10. Laser-engraving is therefore not readily possible in such cases.
FIG. 4a illustrates schematically an advantageous method, by means of which laser-engraving can also be carried out with walking sticks 3 with a cylindrical shape. In order to compensate for the non-plane surface of walking stick 3 to be laser-engraved and to enable focusing of laser beam 17, an irradiation element 8 is applied onto the surface of walking stick 3. The surface of irradiation element 8 is provided complementary to the surface of walking stick 3, so that between walking stick 3 and irradiation element 8 there is, as far as possible, no cavity which can have an adverse effect on the focusing. Irradiation element 8 has a plane surface at its end opposite to walking stick 3. A laser beam 17 is irradiated through irradiation element 8 into walking stick 3 and focused on a specific point. In order to achieve the smallest possible refraction of laser beam 17 in the transition from material 10a of irradiation element 8 into material 10 of walking stick 3, and thus also the smallest possible misfocusing of laser beam 17, the refractive indices of the two materials 10, 10a should be as similar as possible. For irradiation element 8, therefore, a material 10a should be selected whose refractive index does not differ by more than 5% from the refractive index of material 10 of walking stick 3. More advantageously, the difference amounts to 1% or less. This can be achieved in the simplest way by selecting as similar a material as possible for both materials 10, 10a, for example the same polymer.
With laser-engraving of the type discussed, the object to be engraved advantageously has two parallel, plane surfaces. In order to achieve this advantageous configuration also with walking sticks 3 with a round cross-section, a reflecting element 9 is applied onto the surface of walking stick 3 on the side lying opposite irradiation element 8, as shown in FIG. 4b. Once again, reflecting element 9 and walking stick 3 should have surfaces as complementary as possible. The same conditions as already discussed above for irradiation element 8 apply to the refractive index of material 10b of reflecting element 9.
The introduction of a liquid 11 between the surfaces of irradiation element 8 and walking stick 3, or between reflecting element 9 and walking stick 3, is also possible, as shown in FIG. 4c. Losses of laser radiation 17 due to reflection are thus further reduced. To advantage, the refractive index of liquid 11 in turn lies as close as possible to the refractive indices of the other materials 10, 10a, 10b used. To advantage, the difference amounts to less than 5%, ideally less than 1%
|List of reference numbers:|
|5, 5a||luminous element|
|6||energy storage element|
|10||material of walking stick|
|10a||material of irradiation element|
|10b||material of reflecting element|
|14, 14a, 14b||sensor element|
|16, 16a||graphic element|