Title:
Pill container having a visual indicator
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container for receiving a plurality of pills having a visually observable characteristic includes a receptacle having a wall forming a cavity with an open end suitable for receiving at least a portion of the plurality of pills. A lid is receivable on the wall at the open end, and a visual indicator is disposed on one of the receptacle and the lid. The visual indicator is capable of communicating the visually observable characteristic of the plurality of pills.



Inventors:
Burchell, Michael (Mentor, OH, US)
Application Number:
10/755940
Publication Date:
07/14/2005
Filing Date:
01/13/2004
Assignee:
BURCHELL MICHAEL
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/528, 206/533
International Classes:
B65D51/28; (IPC1-7): B65D85/42
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
JOHNSON, JERROLD D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FAY SHARPE LLP (Cleveland, OH, US)
Claims:
1. A container for receiving a plurality of pills having a visually observable characteristic, said container comprising: a receptacle having a receptacle wall forming a first cavity with an open end and suitable for receiving at least a portion of the plurality of pills; a lid receivable on said receptacle wall at said open end; and, a visual indicator disposed on at least one of said receptacle and said lid, said visual indicator including an indicator wall at least partially forming a second cavity and a visual representation disposed within said second cavity, said visual representation capable of communicating the visually observable characteristic of the plurality of pills.

2. A container according to claim 1, wherein at least a portion of said indicator wall is transparent.

3. A container according to claim 1, wherein said visual representation includes one pill of the plurality of pills.

4. A container according to claim 3, wherein said indicator wall is removably secured to one of said receptacle and said lid.

5. A container according to claim 1, wherein said visual indicator is disposed on said receptacle and said indicator wall is adjacent said receptacle wall.

6. A container according to claim 1, wherein said lid has an end wall and a side wall extending from said end wall; and said indicator wall includes a flange portion and a cup portion extending from said flange portion, and said indicator wall is disposed on said lid such that said flange portion is adjacent said end wall and said cup portion forms said second cavity with said end wall.

7. A container according to claim 6, further comprising a second indicator providing identification information for the plurality of pills, said second indicator having a first portion disposed on said receptacle and a corresponding second portion disposed on said lid.

8. A container according to claim 6, wherein said side wall includes a plurality of radially inwardly extending projections and said flange portion engages said projections to retain said indicator wall on said lid.

9. A container according to claim 6, wherein said flange portion has a first surface adjacent said end wall and an adhesive substance is disposed between said first surface and said end wall to retain said indicator wall on said lid.

10. A container according to claim 1, wherein said visual indicator includes a release member at least partially embedded within said indicator wall.

11. A pill container for receiving a plurality of pills having a visually observable characteristic, said pill container comprising: a receptacle having a receptacle wall forming a first chamber with an open end and suitable for receiving at least a portion of the plurality of pills; a lid receivable on said receptacle wall and securable thereto, said lid having an end wall and a side wall extending from said end wall; an inner cover supported on said lid, said inner cover forming a second chamber with said end wall of said lid; a visual representation capable of communicating the visually observable characteristic captured within said second chamber; an information label applied to said receptacle; and, indicia disposed on said lid corresponding to said information label.

12. A container according to claim 1, wherein said visual representation is one pill of the plurality of pills, and said inner cover is removably supported on said lid.

13. A container according to claim 11, wherein said inner cover is supported on said lid using an adhesive substance disposed between said inner cover and said lid.

14. A container according to claim 1, wherein at least a portion of said inner cover is transparent.

15. A container according to claim 1, wherein said inner cover includes a cover wall having a flange portion and a cup portion, said cup portion projecting outwardly from said flange portion and forming said second chamber in association with said end wall of said lid.

16. A container according to claim 15, wherein said side wall of said lid includes a plurality of radially inwardly extending projections and said flange portion of said inner cover engages said projections to retain said inner cover on said lid.

17. A pill container for receiving a plurality of pills having a visually observable characteristic, said pill container comprising: a receptacle having a receptacle wall forming a first chamber with an open end and suitable for receiving at least a portion of the plurality of pills; an indicator wall supported on said receptacle, said indicator wall at least partially forming a second chamber within said first chamber; and, a visual representation capable of communicating the visually observable characteristic captured within said second chamber.

18. A container according to claim 17, wherein said visual representation is one pill of the plurality of pills.

19. A container according to claim 17 further comprising a lid receivable on said receptacle wall and securable thereto.

20. A container according to claim 17, wherein at least a portion of said indicator wall is transparent.

21. A container according to claim 17, wherein said receptacle has a bottom wall and said indicator wall is supported in spaced relation to said bottom wall within said first chamber of said receptacle.

22. A container according to claim 21, wherein said indicator wall is supported within said first chamber on a plurality of legs extending from said indicator wall.

23. A container according to claim 17, wherein said indicator wall includes an outer peripheral portion, a side portion, a bottom portion, and a selectively closeable lid portion together defining said second chamber.

24. A container according to claim 23, wherein said receptacle wall is substantially cylindrical and includes a plurality of holes extending therethrough, said peripheral portion of said indicator wall having a substantially cylindrical conformation and being receivable within said first chamber on said receptacle wall.

25. A container according to claim 24, wherein said peripheral portion of said indicator wall includes a plurality of outwardly extending projections interengaging said plurality of holes that extend through said receptacle wall.

26. A container according to claim 17, wherein said receptacle has a bottom wall and said indicator wall has a flange portion and a cup portion.

27. A container according to claim 26, wherein said flange portion is positioned adjacent said bottom wall, and an adhesive substance is disposed between said flange portion and said bottom wall.

28. A container according to claim 27, wherein said indicator wall is releasably secured to said bottom wall using said adhesive substance.

29. A method of containing a plurality of pills having a visually observable characteristic, said method comprising steps of: a) providing a receptacle having a receptacle wall forming a first cavity with an open end; b) providing a lid adapted to be received on and secured to said receptacle wall at said open end; c) providing an indicator wall at least partially forming a second cavity; d) placing a visual representation capable of communicating the visually observable characteristic of the plurality of pills within at least a portion of said second cavity; e) securing said indicator wall to one of said receptacle and said lid; f) placing at least a portion of the plurality of pills within said first cavity; and, g) securing said lid on said receptacle wall at said open end to fully enclose said first cavity.

30. A method according to claim 29, wherein said step of securing said visual representation within said second chamber includes a step of placing said one pill of the plurality of pills within said second chamber.

31. A method according to claim 30, wherein said second wall is detachably secured to said lid, said method further comprising steps of securing first indicia on said receptacle and securing corresponding second indicia on said lid.

32. A method according to claim 31, wherein said first and second indicia include corresponding symbols on self-adhesive labels, and said steps of securing said indicia to said receptacle and said lid include applying said self-adhesive labels thereon.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates broadly to the art of containers and, more particularly, to a container having a receptacle, a lid, and a visual indicator adapted to maintain a visual association between a plurality of pills and a portion or component of the container.

The present invention finds particular application in association with prescription medicines, including human and veterinary medicines, and will be described herein with particular reference thereto. However, it is to be distinctly understood that the present invention can be used in association with any other medicines in pill form, including non-prescription medicines, without departing from the principles of the present invention.

Pharmaceutical containers are widely known and commonly used in the sale and distribution of medicines, especially those in the form of pills, such as tablets, capsules and caplets. A typical container includes a receptacle defining an open-ended chamber for receiving a plurality of pills, and a cap or lid that can be secured to the receptacle at the open end to fully enclose the chamber and thereby retain the pills therein. A label is usually applied to the exterior of the receptacle and commonly includes details regarding the brand or generic name of the medicine, the proper dosage for taking the pills, and other information.

The pills themselves typically include one or more identifying characteristics, such as a particular color, a color combination, a symbol, and/or a series of symbols. Unfortunately, these identifying characteristics are often meaningless to a user of the pills, as the name and/or dosage of the pills are rarely used as an identifying characteristic on the pills themselves. As such, if the pills become separated from the receptacle, there is normally no visual indicator common to both the container and the pills to facilitate an easy re-association of the two. This situation is particularly problematic where a user has opened a number of prescription pill containers and loses track of which pill belongs with which container.

It is well known that many people take multiple pills each day, including prescription and/or non-prescription pills, to improve and/or maintain their health. To minimize any potential confusion as to whether or not a certain pill has been taken on any given day, many people fill and use pill organizers that securely keep their pills separated and organized, such as by week, by day, or by hour. In filling these pill organizers, the user frequently spreads out many pills on a work surface, such as table top, and the pills inadvertently become disassociated with the original container in which they were supplied. Unfortunately, this original container, specifically its label, is the only indicator the user has for the dosage and other information regarding the pills. As such, it is important to maintain the association between the pills and the original container.

Unfortunately, many people have difficulties in re-associating the pills with their original container, especially where two or more kinds of pill have become separated from the original containers. As a result, some people are forced to resort to collecting the pills and the containers and returning the entire lot to the pharmacy to have a qualified technician or pharmacist reorganize and repackage the pills. This can be a tremendous source of anxiety and concern for the user, and also undesirably places an additional burden on the pharmacy personnel.

The present invention is intended to provide a system for maintaining a visual association between pills and information that identifies the pills to avoid the difficulties described above.

SUMMARY

The present invention assists in avoiding the above-discussed difficulties by providing a pill container that includes a receptacle for retaining the associated pills and a visual indicator having an indicator wall forming a chamber for retaining a visual representation of the pills. The visual indicator is adapted to maintain an association between the pills and the receptacle, which includes information related to the pills.

A container for receiving a plurality of pills having a visually observable characteristic is provided and includes a receptacle having a receptacle wall forming a first cavity with an open end. The first cavity is suitable for receiving at least a portion of the plurality of pills. A lid is receivable on the receptacle wall at the open end. A visual indicator is disposed on at least one of the receptacle and the lid. The visual indicator includes an indicator wall at least partially forming a second cavity. The visual indicator also includes a visual representation disposed within the second cavity. The visual representation is capable of communicating a visually observable characteristic of the plurality of pills. Preferably, the visual indicator is one of the pills.

A pill container for receiving a plurality of pills having a visually observable characteristic is provided and includes a receptacle having a receptacle wall forming a first chamber with an open end. The first chamber is suitable for receiving at least a portion of the plurality of pills. A lid is receivable on the receptacle wall and securable thereto. The lid has an end wall and a side wall extending from the end wall. An inner cover is supported on the lid. The inner cover forms a second chamber with the end wall of the lid. A visual representation capable of communicating the visually observable characteristic is captured within the second chamber. The pill container further indicates an information label applied to the receptacle, and indicia disposed on the lid corresponding to the information label.

A pill container for receiving a plurality of pills having a visually observable characteristic is provided and includes a receptacle having a receptacle wall forming a first chamber with an open end. The receptacle is suitable for receiving at least a portion of the plurality of pills. An indicator wall is supported on the receptacle and at least partially forms a second chamber within the first chamber. A visual representation capable of communicating the visually observable characteristic is captured within the second chamber.

A method of containing a plurality of pills having a visually observable characteristic is provided and includes a step of providing a receptacle having a receptacle wall forming a first cavity with an open end. Another step includes providing a lid adapted to be received on and secured to the receptacle wall at the open end. Still another step includes providing an indicator wall at least partially forming a second cavity. A further step includes placing a visual representation capable of communicating the visually observable characteristic of the plurality of pills within at least a portion of the second cavity. Still a further step includes detachably securing the indicator wall to one of the receptacle and the lid. Yet a further step includes placing at least a portion of the plurality of pills within the first cavity. Another step includes securing the lid on the receptacle wall at the open end to fully enclose the first cavity.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a container in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the container shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the lid and visual indicator in FIGS. 1 and 2 shown in an inverted orientation.

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of the lid and visual indicator shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of another embodiment of a container in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a side view of the visual indicator shown in FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of still another embodiment of a container in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view, in cross section, of the container shown in FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is an exploded perspective view of yet another embodiment of a container in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view, in cross section, of the container in FIG. 9 with the visual indicator associated with the receptacle.

FIG. 11 is an exploded perspective view of the lid and visual indicator of FIG. 9 shown in an inverted orientation with the visual indicator associated with the lid.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now in greater detail to the drawings, wherein the showings are for the purposes of illustrating preferred embodiments of the invention only, and not for the purpose of limiting the invention, FIG. 1 illustrates a container 100 having a receptacle 102 and a lid 104. As shown in FIG. 2, receptacle 102 has a receptacle wall 106 extending in a generally cylindrical manner with an outside surface 106A and an inside surface 106B at least partially defining a first chamber 108. Receptacle 102 has an upper, open end 110 and a bottom wall (not shown) at least partially forming a lower, closed end 112.

Lid 104 is supportable on and suitably securable to receptacle 102 on open end 110 in a manner well known by those of skill in the art, such as by tabs 114 (FIGS. 3 and 4) on lid 104 engaging suitable projections 116 on receptacle 102, for example. In this embodiment, as shown more clearly in FIGS. 3 and 4, a visual indicator, which includes an inner cover 118, is received on lid 104. Inner cover 118 includes a cover wall 120 forming a second chamber 122 that is suitable for captively receiving a visual representation or object that is representative of a plurality of pills (not shown) associated with the container. Typically, all of the pills have a common visual characteristic. The common characteristic can be of any suitable type, kind or configuration, such as a color, a color combination, a shape, a marking/symbol, and/or a series of markings/symbols, for example. Preferably, the visual representation or object that is representative of the plurality of pills will include this common visual characteristic.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-4, cover wall 120 includes an annular flange portion 124 that is received within an outer side wall 126 of lid 104. Outer side wall 126 extends from an end wall 128 of lid 104, and an annular projection 130 extends axially outwardly from the end wall in substantial alignment with side wall 126. Inner cover 118 is releasably secured to lid 104 in a suitable manner. For example, tabs 114 on the inner surface of side wall 126 can be formed from a relatively resilient material that deflects as flange portion 124 of cover wall 120 moves past the tabs. Alternately, the tabs can be formed from a substantially rigid material, such as that from which the lid is formed, and the flange portion can flex to move past the tabs. A bottom surface (not shown) of tabs 114 engages flange portion 124 and releasably retains inner cover 118 in place. A cup portion 132 of cover wall 120 is formed radially inwardly of flange portion 124 and at least partially forms second chamber 122. Preferably, at least part of cup portion 132 is transparent such that the visual representation of the pills is visible through the transparent wall portion.

In one preferred embodiment, one pill PL of the plurality of pills will be used as the visual representation. In such case, it is preferable if inner cover 118 is removably or releasably secured on lid 104, such that pill PL can be relatively easily removed from second chamber 122, as pill PL will constitute at least a portion of a dose of the prescription. It is contemplated, however, that a suitable likeness or other visual representation of the observable characteristic of the pills could be alternately used instead of an actual pill PL. In such case, however, it is preferable if the object is significantly distinguishable from an actual pill or dose so as to avoid any confusion relative thereto. For example, the visual representation could be a paper or cardboard likeness of the pills that would not be confused with an actual pill or dose. However, the likeness should clearly convey the pertinent visual characteristics of the pills.

In the present embodiment, it is desirable to ensure that lid 104, once removed from receptacle 102, can be easily re-associated with the same. Preferably, the lid includes a suitable first portion of a second visual indicator, such as a self-adhesive label 134, for example, having suitable indicia or symbols thereon that corresponds to a second portion of the second visual indicator, such as a prescription label 136, for example, disposed on the receptacle and having corresponding indicia or symbols. Among the indicia or symbols that can be used on labels 134 and 136 to permit re-association are the trademark used for the pills, the generic pharmaceutical designation for the pills, the dosage level of the pills, a graphical representation of the pills, any combination of the foregoing, and/or any other identifying indicia or symbols. This way, pills that have become disassociated with the receptacle can be re-associated therewith by comparing the visual characteristic or characteristics of the visual representation of the plurality of pills, such as pill PL, for example, which is retained on lid 104 with the disassociated pills. Thereafter, the visual indicator on the lid can be matched with the visual indicator of the corresponding receptacle. That is, the loose pills are matched with the corresponding lid, and the lid and pills are thereafter matched with the associated receptacle. The loose pills can then be replaced in first chamber 108 of receptacle 102 and lid 104 secured thereto for storage or other purposes.

Another embodiment of a container 200 is shown in FIG. 5 and includes a receptacle 202, a lid 204 securable to the receptacle in a suitable manner, and a visual indicator, such as an enclosure 206 with a pill PL or other representative object supported on receptacle 202. The receptacle includes a receptacle wall 208 that extends in a generally cylindrical manner. The receptacle wall has an outside surface 208A and an inside surface 208B that at least partially defines a first chamber 210. Receptacle 202 has an open, upper end 212 and a lower, closed end 214 at least partially formed by a bottom wall (not shown). A plurality of holes 216 extend through receptacle wall 208. Lid 204 is receivable on receptacle wall 208 at open end 212 and is securable to the receptacle wall in any suitable manner.

Enclosure 206 includes a generally cylindrical peripheral wall 218 that is suitably dimensioned to be received within and along receptacle wall 208 adjacent inside surface 208B. Preferably, peripheral wall 218 has a thin-walled ring portion 218A that minimizes any potential interference with the ingress and egress of the remaining plurality of pills (not shown). A plurality of projections 220 extend from peripheral wall 218 and are suitably dimensioned to be received within holes 216 to securely support enclosure 206 within first chamber 210 of receptacle 202. Preferably, enclosure 206 is positioned within chamber 210 such that the enclosure does not interfere with the normal operation of lid 204.

As is shown in FIG. 6, enclosure 206 includes a second chamber 222 that is formed by peripheral wall 218, a side wall 224 and a bottom wall 226. As such, second chamber 222 has an open, upper end 228 that is selectively coverable by a displaceable wall 230 secured on enclosure 206 in any suitable manner, such as by a living hinge 232 and a displaceable clasp 234. Preferably, at least a portion of enclosure 206 is transparent such that the common characteristic of the plurality of pills, as indicated by pill PL or a likeness thereof, is visually observable therethrough.

In use, a pharmacist or technician places one pill PL of the plurality of pills, or another visual representation, into second chamber 222 and secures displaceable wall 230 in a closed position either before or after inserting enclosure 206 within receptacle 202. It will be appreciated that in other arrangements, containers may be received by the pharmacy having the enclosures already assembled on the receptacle. Typically, the receptacle also includes a prescription label having dosage instructions and other information. Since the visual indicator, which in this embodiment is enclosure 206 with pill PL, is directly associated with the receptacle, need for a secondary visual indicator, such as a label on lid 204, for example, is eliminated.

Still another embodiment of a container 300 is shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. The container includes a receptacle 302 and a lid (not shown), such as lid 204 shown in and discussed with regard to FIG. 5, for example. Receptacle 302 includes a generally cylindrical receptacle wall 304 and a bottom wall 306 forming a first chamber 308 having an open, upper end 310. A visual indicator, such as a bottom cup 312 and a pill PL are fitted along a closed, lower end 314 of receptacle 302 within first chamber 308 to form a second chamber 316. Bottom cup 312 includes a cup wall 318 and wall portions 320 extending downwardly from cup wall 318. Wall portions 320 serve as legs to support cup wall 318 at a level spaced above bottom wall 306 of receptacle 302. Preferably, at least a portion of bottom cup 312, such as cup wall 318, is transparent such that the common characteristic of the plurality of pills, as indicated by pill PL, or a likeness thereof, is visually observable therethrough. In one preferred embodiment, at least a portion of bottom cup 312 lightly frictionally engages receptacle wall 304 to minimize the possibility of inadvertent removal of the bottom cup from the receptacle. However, the frictional engagement between bottom cup 312 and receptacle wall 304 should also permit the bottom cup to be easily removed when intended, such as by inverting receptacle 302 and tapping open end 310 on a suitable surface, such as a table top, for example. However, the frictional engagement should be sufficiently high so as to prevent the inadvertent removal of bottom cup 312 when dispensing one or more of a plurality of pills PL from first chamber 308. Alternately, where the visual representation is a likeness or facsimile of a pill rather than an actual pill PL, bottom cup 312 can be more firmly secured to receptacle 302, as the likeness will not need to be removed by the user as would be the case with a pill PL. Typically, the receptacle also includes a prescription label (not shown) having dosage instructions and other information. Since the visual indicator, which in this embodiment is enclosure 312 with pill PL, is directly associated with the receptacle, need for a secondary visual indicator, such as a label on an associated lid, for example, is eliminated.

A further embodiment of a container 400 is shown in FIGS. 9-11. The container includes a receptacle 402, a lid 404 and a visual indicator, such as a cover 406 and a pill PL, for example. As shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, receptacle 402 includes a generally cylindrical receptacle wall 408 and a bottom wall 410 that together form a closed, lower end 412 of the receptacle opposite an open, upper end 414. Receptacle wall 408 has an outside surface 408A and an inside surface 408B that at least partially defines a first chamber 416.

Cover 406 includes a cover wall 418 having a cup portion 420 forming a second chamber 422. Cover wall 418 also has a radially outwardly extending flange portion 424 disposed at an open end (not numbered) of cup portion 420. In one preferred embodiment, an adhesive substance (not shown) is pre-applied to a first surface 424A of flange portion 424. A removable protective sheet 426 can be secured over the adhesive to prevent the inadvertent attachment of the cover, as is well known by those of skill in the art. Cover 406 can be a self-adhesive cover having the adhesive substance pre-applied as discussed above. Alternately, the adhesive substance could be applied by a pharmacist or technician prior to attachment.

In use, sheet 426 is removed from surface 424A exposing the adhesive substance and providing access to second chamber 422. Pill PL or a suitable likeness or other visual representation of the observable characteristic of the pills is then deposited within second cavity 422 and first surface 424A is placed in abutting engagement with bottom wall 410 of receptacle 402 such that the adhesive substance engages bottom wall 410 and secures cover 406 thereto. Preferably, at least a portion of cover wall 418 is transparent such that the visually observable characteristic of pill PL is visible through the wall. To facilitate the easy removal of a pill PL from cavity 422, a release member, such as a polymeric strand 428, for example, can optionally be embedded in cover wall 418 preferably along cup portion 420. An end 430 of strand 428 remains outside and unembedded in wall 418, and can be pulled to at least partially cut through or separate at least a portion of wall 418 from flange portion 424 thereby providing access to pill PL without removal of the flange portion from the bottom wall. In such case, a stronger adhesive substance can optionally be used, as flange portion 424 would not be removed from bottom wall 410.

Alternately, the visual indicator, which in this embodiment includes self-adhesive cover 406 and pill PL, can be secured in a like manner to an end wall 432 of lid 404, as indicated by FIG. 11. It will be appreciated that lid 404 does not include an annular projection or tabs, such as items 130 and 114, respectively. However, it will be understood that such features could optionally be included. Additionally, it will be appreciated that where cover 406 is secured to lid 404, as shown in FIG. 11, for example, a second visual indicator, such as labels 134 and 136 in FIGS. 1 and 2, for example, are preferably used to ensure the proper association between the lid and the receptacle.

As discussed herein, the visual indicator in each embodiment includes a visual representation, such as a pill PL or suitable likeness thereof, for example, and a wall structure suitable for captively retaining the visual representation, such as inner cover 118, enclosure 206, bottom cup 312 and/or cover 406, for example. It will be appreciated, however, that any suitable visual indicator can be used without departing from the principles of the present invention. Furthermore, it is to be distinctly understood that the wall structures embodied herein are simply illustrative of suitable wall structures and that any other configuration of a wall structure can be used.

While the invention has been described with reference to the foregoing embodiments and considerable emphasis has been placed herein on the structures and structural interrelationships between the component parts of the embodiments disclosed, it will be appreciated that other embodiments of the invention can be made and that many changes can be made in the embodiments illustrated and described without departing from the principles of the invention. Obviously, modifications and alterations will occur to others upon reading and understanding the preceding detailed description. For example, the receptacles and lids, as well as the other components, such as inner cover 118, enclosure 206, and bottom cup 312, for example, are preferably formed from a suitable polymeric material. However, it will be appreciated that any suitable material can be used. Accordingly, it is to be distinctly understood that the foregoing descriptive matter is to be interpreted merely as illustrative of the present invention and not as a limitation. As such, it is intended that the invention be construed as including all such modifications and alterations insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims and the equivalents thereof.