Title:
SIGNALING APPARATUS
United States Patent 3863207


Abstract:
The apparatus consists of a housing having a face with two adjacent illuminable lenses of red and green color and of different configuration. Around each lens, an contour of amber color is provided with the same geometrical configuration as that of the corresponding enclosed lens. The apparatus is principally used in connection with traffic light signals and is particularly intended to convey adequate signal indication to color-blind persons.



Inventors:
GALELLA OTTAVIO
Application Number:
05/327809
Publication Date:
01/28/1975
Filing Date:
01/29/1973
Assignee:
GALELLA; OTTAVIO
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
D10/115
International Classes:
F21S8/00; G08G1/095; (IPC1-7): G08G1/095
Field of Search:
D72/1R,1G 340
View Patent Images:
US Patent References:
3529287TRAFFIC CIRCLE AMBER LIGHT1970-09-15Southerland
3466600TRAFFIC CONTROL SIGNALS1969-09-09Smoot
2903684Speed alarm indicator for automotive vehicles1959-09-08McClintock
2779932Traffic signal with time lapse indication1957-01-29Wagner
2228835Traffic signal1941-01-14Leppert
1616604Traffic signal1927-02-08Brophy



Primary Examiner:
Caldwell, John W.
Assistant Examiner:
Curtis, Marshall M.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Goudreau, Gage and Associates
Claims:
1. A signaling apparatus including a housing having two adjacent illuminable signaling means; a first of said signaling means including a red signal light means having a first geometrical configuration and an amber light means surrounding said red signal light means and having an outer contour substantially similar in shape to the said first geometrical configuration of said red signal light means; a second of said signaling means including a green signal light means having a second geometrical configuration distinct from the said first configuration of the red signal light means and a second amber signal light means surrounding the green signal light means and having a contour substantially similar in shape to the said second geometrical configuration of the green signal light means.

2. A signaling apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein the geometrical configuration of the red signal light means and the contour of said first

3. A signaling apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein said geometrical configuration of said green signal light means and the contour of said

4. A signaling apparatus as defined in claim 1, further comprising means for illuminating said signal light means and for controlling the

5. A signaling apparatus including a housing having two adjacent illuminable signal units; a first of said signal units including a first signal light means of a first color and having a first geometrical configuration, and a second signal light means of a second color different from the first color, surrounding said first signal light means and having an outer contour substantially similar in shape to the said first geometrical configuration; a second of said signal units including a third signal light means of a third color different from said first and second colors and having a second geometrical configuration distinct from the said first geometrical configuration, and a fourth signal light means having said second color and surrounding the third signal light means and having a contour substantially similar in shape to the said second

6. A signaling apparatus according to claim 5, wherein the first color is red and said first geometrical configuration is a square configuration and wherein the third color is green signal and the second geometrical configuration is a hexagonal configuration; said second color being amber; means for lighting the red signal light means and its surrounding amber light to transmit a STOP signal; and means for lighting the green signal

7. A signaling apparatus as defined in claim 9, further comprising means for flashing said red signal light whereby during a transition period in a traffic signal system, both units are illuminated and the red signal is made to flash over its illuminated background.

Description:
The present invention relates generally to a signaling apparatus; more particularly, the invention pertains to such signaling apparatus which includes a red signal light and a green signal light for effectively attracting attention and conveying information.

In general, traffic signal lights include three illuminable faces of different configurations and colours for conveying the stop, go and caution signals at traffic light controlled crossings. It is statistically proven that more than half the accidents occur at city crossings provided with traffic signal lights. On the other hand, it has been established that the number of colour-blind people is about 8% of the male population and 0.5% of the female population. Through experiments, it has been observed that many colour-blind drivers rely exclusively on the relative positions of the red, amber and green colours of traffic lights. However, this method requires the perception of the entire light housing which is very often not visible, especially at night. Also, for those who rely that the red, amber and green lights are disposed in a particular way, confusion frequently occurs when the lights are horizontally disposed.

It has been suggested, in order to assist the colour-blind people, to add orange to the red colour and blue to the green colour (on the basis that the red-green deficient person is generally capable of discerning orange from blue). However, it has been proven that this alteration reduces the signal brightness and that a reduction of brightness often results in an over-estimation of distance; hence, the motorist's safety is seriously jeopardized. Moreover, the reduction in brightness of the red signal light also renders perception more difficult for red-blind persons.

Depending on the classification of colour-blind people, colour deficiency may involve the following characteristics: (a) shade, which is responsible for colour distinction; (b) value, which represents colour brightness; (c) a chromatic characteristic that denotes the saturation aspect; or (d) a combination thereof. The more serious deficiency is that of the brightness of red which affects between 1.2% to 2.1% of men. Scientists have shown that the red, amber and green colours are confusing; what is seen as red for a normal motorist can be called amber by a deuteranomal. The protanopes and protanomalous persons are affected by a reduced sensitivity for red signals. The protanope clearly sees the brightness of the amber colour but very poorly the brightness of the red colour. Clinical studies have shown that the protanope lives extremely dangerous experiences. Obviously, the colour-blind motorist is definitely handicaped in comparison with the normal motorist; the reaction time to colours is double.

It is possible to physically measure the index of visibility of colours. The following indices have been published by the "U.S.A. National Bureau of Standards" wherein 556 millimicrons = 1 (under adequate illumination):

COLOUR INDEX ______________________________________ Amber 0.952 Green 0.710 Red 0.107 Blue 0.038 Violet 0.004 ______________________________________

It is also known that there is a relation between colour and form and some scientists have made experiments to show that colour depends from the form of an object. Some colour and form associations are indicated as follows:

COLOUR FORM ______________________________________ Red Square Green Hexagon Amber Pyramid Blue Circle Orange Rectangle Purple Oval ______________________________________

Certain psychological and physiological notions are also known concerning colours, such as the phenomena of irradiation. Furthermore, the shortest reaction time is obtained when a signal flashes on a fixed background; it is the longest when the signal flashes on a flashing background. However, the advantage obtained through flashing is completely eliminated if only one background light flashes. Another notion is that white and yellow surfaces appear to be larger than red, green and blue surfaces. Another observation is that an object changes colour with the colours of its surrounding. It has also been shown through tests that every person is somewhat colour blind to some degree.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a signaling apparatus which is more adapted for colour-blind people.

Based on the above known notions and experiments, the inventor has devised a signaling system which includes basically two adjacent illuminable faces; a first face includes a red signal light means having a geometrical configuration and a amber signal light means surrounding the red signal light means and having a contour corresponding substantially to the configuration of the red signal light means; the other face includes a green signal light means having a geometrical configuration distinct from the configuration of the red signal light means and a second amber signal light means surrounding the green signal light means and having a contour corresponding substantially to the geometrical configuration of the green signal light means.

In a preferred form of the invention, the geometrical configuration of the red signal light means and the contour of the first amber light means define a square.

In another preferred form of the invention, the geometrical configuration of the green signal light means as well as its surrounding amber light means define a hexagon.

Other objects, purposes and characteristic features of the present invention will be in part obvious in the accompanying drawings and in part pointed out as the description of the invention progresses.

In describing the invention in details, reference will be made to the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters refer to corresponding parts throughout the several views, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a front perspective representation of a signaling apparatus made in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 1A is a front schematic view of FIG. 1 with suitable electric controls therefor also shown schematically.

FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic view showing a go to stop sequence when the novel signaling system is incorporated in a traffic signaling system.

Referring to FIG. 1 of the drawings, essentially, the novel signaling system includes a housing, generally denoted by reference 10, having two adjacent faces 12 and 14.

One face 12 consists of a red signal light means 16 which has a square configuration and of a amber signal light means 18 which has a contour which is square shaped and corresponds to the shape of the red signal light means 16.

The other face 14 consists of a green signal light means 20 which has the configuration of a hexagon and a amber signal light means 22 which surrounds the green signal light means 20 and has a contour which is also hexagonal and corresponds substantially to the configuration of the green signal light means.

Therefore, the present invention essentially consists of two faces, each having a distinct shape and each including two portions having the same contour. In each case, the outer portion is of the same colour and serves as a background to inner portion. The outer portion is always illuminated at the same time as the inner portion of the face.

This novel system, when specifically applied to traffic signal lights is particularly of great advantage, especially for colour-blind persons. For such application, the construction of the housing is similar to that of light fixtures which may be found at street intersections and is well known in the art. FIG. 2 illustrates the GO to STOP sequence of such traffic signal lights. The GO signal is transmitted by illuminating the green light and its hexagonal amber light while the red light and its square-shaped amber light are turned off. The transition period is obtained by further illuminating the red light and its amber light. The STOP signal is obtained by turning off the green signal and its amber background. Other combinations are also possible, especially for the transition period: the red light could be made to flash over its illuminated non-flashing amber square-shaped background; or, both red light and associated amber background could be made to flash; or, both amber lights could be flashing with the red and green lights illuminated, but not flashing; or, both units 12 and 24 flashing, etc. . . However, as mentioned above, the motorist reaction time will vary from one combination to another. The control mechanism for the various lights involves the usual switches, timers and the like which are well known in the art. A suitable control arrangement is shown schematically in FIG. 1A. A conventional timing switch 25 receives current and delivers the same to each of the four lighted areas 16, 18, 20 and 22 with a first possibility for direct light and a second possibility for flashing light. For this purpose two electrical lines are shown leading from the switch 25 to each of the said lights, one of these including a flasher unit F.

With a system made in accordance with the present invention, the configuration, the colour, or both, combine to provide the motorist or the pedestrian with the signaling message in accordance with its physical and mental condition. For example, persons under the influence of drugs normally visualize configuration in a dynamic way: for these people, colour is of prime importance. Persons under the influence of alcohol, on the other hand, may have a blue vision; therefore, for these persons, shape is essential.

It has been indicated above that, in the analysis of permanent colour-blind vision, between 1.2% and 2.1% of men do not even see the brightness of the red signal. Hence, the function of an amber background having a square-shaped contour becomes evident in that this category of colour-blind motorists will now see the brightness of the STOP signal through the amber background.

The transition period becomes clear for everyone. From a distance, both units are seen illuminated and the message is transmitted without the need to perceive shape or colour.

Although not illustrated in the accompanying drawings, means are provided for illuminating the different signal light means and, in some cases, for causing the flashing of one or more of these light means. It is expected from the man skilled in this art to construct and arrange such lighting means and appropriate control means so that the various lighting means may be switched on and off in accordance with a predetermined sequence.

Although the invention has been described above in relation to one specific form of the invention, it will be evident to the person skilled in the art that it may be modified and refined in various ways. For example, the hexagonal unit 14 could be rotated 15° to further accentuate the difference in shape between units 12 and 14. Also, the signaling apparatus, instead of being applied to traffic light signals, could also be applied to other means of providing a signal, such as rear lights of vehicles. It is therefore wished to have it understood that the present invention is not limited in interpretation except by the terms of the following claims.