Title:
Interlocking blocks
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provides an apparatus to form a 2 or 3 dimensional array of blocks. Each block has a cross-section of a plurality of sides with a tongue-groove pair per side, such that the tongue-groove pair is adjacent to each other and in the middle of each side. Each block has a cylindrical section protruding up from the center of the top of the block and a cylindrical section protruding in the center of the bottom of the block. Each block can be connected to other blocks to form a 2-dimensional array of blocks and to at most 2 other blocks to form a 3-dimensional array of blocks. The other blocks can be connected to a block to form a right angled 2-dimensional array or a skewed 2-dimensional array. Each block is transparent, translucent in various degrees, or opaque.



Inventors:
Rincover, Aaron (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/852882
Publication Date:
05/19/2005
Filing Date:
05/24/2004
Assignee:
RINCOVER AARON
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/08; (IPC1-7): A63H33/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
MILLER, BENA B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STEPTOE & JOHNSON LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
1. An interlocking block, comprising: a cross-section with a plurality of identical sides; said block with a top and a bottom different from said top, wherein both said top and said bottom different from said sides; said block able to interlock with another block along each of said sides of said another block; and said block able to interlock into a first block and a second block to form a three dimensional array of blocks, wherein either one of said first block or said second block interlocks along said top of said block and either one of said first block or said second block interlocks along said bottom of said block.

2. The block of claim 1 wherein a number of said plurality of identical sides is three or more.

3. The block of claim 2 wherein each of said plurality of identical sides define a tongue and a groove adjacent to each other to form a tongue-groove pair.

4. The block of claim 3 wherein said tongue-groove pair is disposed equidistance from a left corner and a right corner of each side.

5. The block of claim 4 wherein said tongue-groove pair is disposed along a x-axis and a z-axis of a x-y-z co-ordinate system.

6. The block of claim 5 wherein said tongue-groove pair has an identical mating outline shape.

7. The block of claim 6 wherein a size of said tongue outline shape is enlarged just enough so that when said tongue of a first block is connected to said groove of a second block, said first block and said second block are interlocked and can only be unlocked when said first block is held stationary while moving said second block along a y-axis of said x-y-z co-ordinate system or said second block is held stationary while moving said first along said y-axis of said x-y-z co-ordinate system.

8. The block of claim 6 wherein said tongue of first block can be connected to said grove of second block such that when said first block and said second block are viewed from either said x-axis or said z-axis of said x-y-z co-ordinate system, said first block and said second block are perfectly aligned behind each other.

9. The block of claim 6 wherein said tongue of first block can be connected to said grove of second block such that when said first block and said second block are viewed from either said x-axis or said z-axis of said x-y-z co-ordinate system, said first block is skewed to said second block by half a side of said second block.

10. The block of claim 1 wherein said top has a solid cylindrical cross-section smaller in diameter than dimension of top, wherein said solid cylindrical cross-section protrudes up from center of said top along said y-axis of said x-y-z co-ordinate system.

11. The block of claim 1 wherein said bottom has a hollow cylindrical cross-section smaller in diameter than dimension of bottom, wherein said hollow cylindrical cross-section protrudes within said block from center of said bottom along said y-axis of said x-y-z co-ordinate system.

12. The block of claim 11 wherein said hollow cylindrical cross-section is larger in diameter than said solid cylindrical cross-section, wherein a solid cylindrical cross-section of said first block can fit tightly within a hollow cylindrical cross-section of said second block when said first block and said second block are interlocked.

13. The block of claim 12 wherein when said first block and said second block are interlocked and viewed from said y-axis of said x-y-z co-ordinate system, said first block is perfectly aligned under said second block.

14. The block of claim 12 wherein when said first block and said second block are interlocked and viewed from said y-axis of said x-y-z co-ordinate system, said first block makes an angle larger than zero but smaller than ninety along said x-axis or said z-axis of said x-y-z co-ordinate system.

15. The block of claim 1 is transparent in color.

16. The block of claim 1 is opaque in color.

17. The block of claim 1 ranges from translucent in color to a plurality of shades of said color.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)

The present application claims the benefit of priority from pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/520,855, entitled “Interlocking Blocks”, filed on Nov. 17, 2003, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to graphic arts, and more particularly it relates to interlocking blocks configured as elements which may be combined to create two- and three-dimensional graphic art.

Portions of the disclosure of this patent document contain material that is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office file or records, but otherwise reserves all rights whatsoever.

2. Background Art

Building blocks have conventionally been used by children as toys to build buildings, vehicles, and the like, but computer technology and advancement in materials have opened up the potential of new approaches to providing building blocks for graphic creations. These creations could be patterns, pictures, sculpture, and the like.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to interlocking blocks where each block has a cross-section with identical sides and a top and a bottom that are different from each other. Each side defines a tongue and a groove adjacent to each other in a complimentary configuration such that an adjacent block can interlock to form a 2-dimensional array of blocks. Each tongue and groove pair is in the center of its side, and each block has a cylindrical section protruding up from the center of the top of the block and a cylindrical section protruding within the block from the center of the bottom of the block. Adjacent blocks can be interlocked to the cylindrical section protruding from the top or within the bottom to form a 3-dimensional array of blocks. Thus, each block can be connected together to a plurality of other blocks to form a 2-dimensional array of blocks and to at most 2 other blocks to form a 3-dimensional array of blocks. These “other” blocks can be similar in shape and size to the block they are connected to, or can be different in shape and size. The other blocks can be connected in two configurations to a block such that there is a block per side. In one configuration, the blocks form a right angled 2-dimensional array, and in the other configuration, the blocks form a skewed 2-dimensional array. According to another embodiment, each block can be transparent, translucent in various degrees, or opaque. By combining blocks of various colors and light properties, sizes, and shapes a number of blocks may be interlocked together to create a variety of graphic art such as patterns, pictures, sculpture and the like.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with regard to the following description, appended claims and accompanying drawings where:

FIG. 1 illustrates plan views of interlocking blocks with different number of sides.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an interlocking block of the present invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates 3 interlocking blocks, according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates a plan view and a 3-dimensional view of interlocking blocks, according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 5A-5E are perspective views of the different embodiments of the tongue-groove pair of a interlocking block of the present invention.

FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate some of the many different configurations of connecting interlocking blocks of different shapes and sizes.

FIG. 8 is a plan view of a configuration of two interlocking blocks of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a plan view of another configuration of two interlocking blocks of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a 3-dimensional view of an interlocking block, according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 11 is another 3-dimensional view of two interlocking blocks, according to another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The embodiments of the present invention are directed to interlocking blocks where each block has a cross-section with identical sides and a top and a bottom that are different from each other. In the following description, numerous specific details are set forth to provide a more thorough description of embodiments of the invention. It will be apparent, however, to one skilled in the art, that the embodiments of the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well known features have not been described in detail so as not to obscure the invention.

Interlocking Blocks

According to one embodiment, the interlocking blocks come in various shapes and sizes, but each block has a cross-section having identical sides and a top and a bottom that are different from each other. Each side defines a tongue and a groove pair adjacent to each other in a complimentary configuration such that adjacent blocks can interlock to form a 2-dimensional array of blocks. The tongue and groove pair on each side is adjacent to each other and equidistance from the two corners of the side. Adjacent blocks can be interlocked using these tongue and groove pairs to form a 2-dimensional array of blocks. According to one embodiment, when the adjacent blocks are of the same size (the shape can be the same or different) then the tongue on one of the adjacent blocks is interlocked with the groove on the other (see FIG. 5). According to another embodiment, when the adjacent blocks are not of the same size but of the same shape then the smaller of the two adjacent blocks slides completely within the groove of the larger block (see FIG. 3). Each block also has a cylindrical section that protrudes up from the center of the top face and a similar cylindrical section that protrudes within the block from the center of the bottom face. According to another embodiment, adjacent blocks can be interlocked using these cylindrical sections to form a 3-dimensional array of blocks.

FIG. 1 illustrates plan views of interlocking blocks with different number of sides. The figure shows a 3 sided block (top), a 4 sided block, a 5 sided block, a 6 sided block, a 8 sided block, and finally a 12 sided block (bottom). It should be noted that the number of sides per block illustrated in FIG. 1 are for purposes of illustration, and other number of sides per block are possible without departing from the invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a block 200. The 4 sides 210 each have a tongue 220 and a groove 230 adjacent to each other and centered on the side such that there is a flat section 240 on either side of the tongue-groove pair. The tongue and grove pair of each side have an identical mating outline shape which coupled with the enlargement of a portion of the tongue and groove outline shape, and according to one embodiment allow adjacent blocks of similar size to be assembled together in an interlocking manner by sliding them into the mating shape. The outline shape of the tongue and groove shown in FIG. 1 is just one of many other shapes that are possible. These other shapes are illustrated, and not limited to the ones in FIGS. 5A-5E. FIG. 2 also illustrates a x-y-z co-ordinate system to demonstrate the axis along which the tongue-groove pairs are disposed and along which the top and bottom are disposed. For example, the tongue and groove pairs are disposed along either the x-axis or the z-axis, while the top and bottom are disposed along the y-axis.

FIG. 3 illustrates a plan view of a cube shaped interlocking block 300 connected to two other interlocking blocks of the same shape, but smaller in size. Block 310 is smaller in size than block 300 and can be locked within groove 320 of block 300 as illustrated. Block 310 in turn is connected as illustrated to block 330 which is smaller in size than block 310.

FIG. 4 illustrates a 3-dimensional view and corresponding plan view of interlocking blocks, according to one embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 4 illustrates a pair of interlocking blocks 400 and 410 of same size and shape interlocked in each other. Block 400 is connected by block 420 which is similar in shape to block 400 but smaller in size. Block 420 fits entirely within groove 430 of block 400. Similarly, block 410 is connected by block 440 which is similar in shape to block 410 but smaller in size. Block 440 fits entirely within groove 450 of block 410. Block 420 is connected on one side to block 400 and is connected on an opposite side by block 460, which is not only similar in shape to block 420, but also of the same size. Similarly, block 440 is connected on one side to block 410 and is connected on an opposite side by block 470, which is not only similar in shape to block 440, but also of the same size. Blocks 460 and 470 are connected together via intermediate blocks 480A-480D all of which are the same size and shape as block 460 (or 470). Block 460 is connected on a third side by block 480E as illustrated, and block 470 is connected on a third side by block 480F as illustrated. The 3-dimensional view of the blocks 400-480F explained above illustrates the manner in which the blocks are connected to each other. It should be noted that FIG. 4 is just one of many configurations of the present invention and there are virtually countless others configurations without departing from the invention.

Tongue-Groove Pair

FIGS. 5A-5E illustrate some other outline shapes of the tongue-groove pair 500 and 510 respectively as alternatives to the shape shown in FIG. 2. It should be noted here that these are just some of the many shapes possible where the basic requirement of the shape is to provide a tongue (or head 500) and a groove (or neck 510) with sufficient enlargement at the head portion to ensure that the attached blocks do not become detached other than by sliding them apart along the y-axis in a x-y-z co-ordinate system as shown in FIG. 2.

According to one embodiment, each block can be connected to other blocks to form a 2-dimensional array of blocks such that there is a block on at least one side. As explained above, the other blocks can have the same shape and size as the block to which they are connected, or can have different shape and size. The blocks can be connected to each block in two configurations explained in more detail below. FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate some of the many different configurations to connect interlocking blocks of similar or different shapes and sizes.

FIG. 2 also shows cylindrical section 250 protruding from the center of the top surface 260. There is a similar cylindrical section (see FIG. 10) that protrudes within block 200 from the center of the bottom surface. According to another embodiment, the cylindrical section protruding from the top of the block can be easily plugged into the cylindrical section protruding within the center of the bottom of another block. Thus each block can be connected to at most 2 other blocks to form a 3-dimensional array of blocks such that there is a block on the top and bottom.

Cylindrical Section

FIG. 10 illustrates cylindrical section 1000 protruding within block 1010. The physical shape of this cylindrical section is the same as the cylindrical section protruding from the centre of the top of the block (see FIG. 2). The cylindrical section 1000 is situated in the centre of bottom 1020 of block 1010. The main function of cylindrical section 1000 is to aid block 1010 to interlock with another block (for example block 200 of FIG. 2) such that block 200 is either on top of block 1010 or below block 1010. In one embodiment, block 200 is attached to block 1010 using the cylindrical section of block 200 that protrudes above the block (see item 250 in FIG. 2) to interlock within cylindrical section 1000 of block 1010. In this embodiment, item 250 acts as a tongue and item 1000 acts as a groove. In another embodiment, the cylindrical section of block 200 that protrudes within the block is plugged by the cylindrical section 1030 that protrudes from the center of the top of block 1010. In this embodiment, item 1030 acts as the tongue and the cylindrical section of block 200 within which it plugs (not shown in FIG. 2) acts as the groove.

Using either of the two embodiments discussed above, blocks 200 and 1010 can be attached to each other, according to another embodiment, such that they are perfectly aligned with each other. In other words, looking vertically down upon blocks 200 and 1010, a user will see that the tongues and grooves of block 200 and 1010 match each other. In another embodiment, blocks 200 and 1010 can be attached to each other so that the tongues and grooves of each block do not perfectly match each other when viewed from vertically above. In other words, the blocks are skewed at some horizontal angle with each other. Using either of the embodiments shown above, a user can create a 3-dimensional array of blocks such that the array will have a length and breath equal to the length and breath of the number of blocks in the array, and a height equal to the combined height of the blocks above and below a horizontal plane.

2 and 3-Dimensional Art

The illusion of a 2-dimensional array of blocks can also be formed by combining blocks of a single opaque color or blocks of different opaque colors. The illusion of a 3-dimensional array of blocks can also be formed by combining blocks of various translucent degrees of color. According to another embodiment, a graphic art can have a combination of both 2 and 3-dimensional arrays of blocks. For example, a view of a city formed by blocks could have a combination of opaque, transparent, and various translucent degrees of colors of blocks coupled with blocks interlocking to the sides, top, and bottom of other blocks.

Full Lock Configuration

According to one embodiment, each block can be connected to other blocks in a “full lock” position. FIG. 8 illustrates a perspective view of block 800 in a “full lock” configuration with block 810. In this configuration, tongue 820 and grove 830 of block 810 slides into groove 840 and tongue 850, respectively, of block 800.

Half Lock Configuration

According to another embodiment, each block can be connected to other blocks in a “half lock” position. FIG. 9 illustrates a perspective view of block 900 in a “half lock” configuration with block 910. In this configuration, groove 920 of block 910 slides into flat section 930 of block 900.

FIG. 11 illustrates two blocks 1100 and 1110 in a half lock position with each other. In this configuration, the blocks are skewed with respect to each other. In other words the tongues and grooves of block 1100 do not align with the tongue and groves of block 1110 such that when viewed in the direction of the arrow 1120, a viewer will not see block 1100 perfectly aligned behind block 1110.

Thus, interlocking blocks are described in conjunction with one or more specific embodiments. The invention is defined by the following claims and their full scope of equivalents.