Title:
Sound-producing candle assembly
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed is a sound-producing candle assembly comprising a candle and a base which are detachable from one another. One candle can be removed from the base and replaced by another. In one embodiment, each candle contains an optical guide, which conveys light from the flame to an optical switch, the switch in turn activating a sound-generating system, rendering a stored sound audible. Each candle may contain an alignment guide, which maintains alignment between the optical guide and the optical switch. Each candle may also contain one or more fire stops to prevent the candle from burning beyond a certain point. The assembly may allow a user to choose among several sounds to be heard when the candle is lit. The assembly may also allow a user to record sound.



Inventors:
Holmburg, Keith (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Application Number:
10/829745
Publication Date:
10/27/2005
Filing Date:
04/22/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
431/289
International Classes:
C11C5/00; F21S13/12; F23D3/16; (IPC1-7): F23D3/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BARROW, JAMES G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BUCHANAN INGERSOLL PC (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
1. A candle assembly, said assembly comprising: a first candle with first and second end surfaces; a wick substantially contained within said candle; a sensor located proximate to the wick; and a base, comprising a sound-generating system, said base being detachable from said candle.

2. The candle assembly of claim 1, wherein said first candle is interchangeable with at least one second candle.

3. The candle assembly of claim 1, wherein said sensor is an optical guide.

4. The candle assembly of claim 3, wherein said optical guide is coaxial with said wick.

5. The candle assembly of claim 3 wherein said optical guide is an optical fiber.

6. The candle assembly of claim 5 wherein said optical fiber is consumable.

7. The candle assembly of claim 6 wherein said wick and optical fiber are consumable at substantially the same rate.

8. The candle assembly of claim 3 wherein said base further comprises an optical switch.

9. The candle assembly of claim 8, further comprising an alignment guide, said alignment guide maintaining alignment between said optical guide and said optical switch.

10. The candle assembly of claim 9, wherein said alignment guide comprises a block containing a hole, said optical guide passing through said hole.

11. The candle assembly of claim 9 wherein said alignment guide comprises a lip on top of said base, said lip surrounding said first candle.

12. The candle assembly of claim 9 wherein said alignment guide comprises a registration mechanism in said base and said first candle.

13. The candle assembly of claim 9, wherein said alignment guide acts as a fire stop.

14. The candle assembly of claim 1, further comprising a fire stop.

15. The candle assembly of claim 1, further comprising a switch in said base, said switch preventing the generation of sound by said sound-generating system while said base is detached from a candle.

16. The candle assembly of claim 1, wherein said sound-generating system comprises a speaker coupled to a memory, said memory capable of containing one or more sound recordings.

17. The candle assembly of claim 16, wherein said memory releases at least some of its contents upon receiving a signal from said sensor.

18. The candle assembly of claim 16, wherein said memory comprises at least one integrated circuit chip.

19. The candle assembly of claim 16, wherein said memory can be removed and replaced by a user.

20. The candle assembly of claim 16, further comprising a sound selection switch.

21. The candle assembly of claim 16 further comprising a microphone, wherein sound detected by said microphone can be stored in said memory.

22. A sound-producing candle assembly comprising: a first candle having first and second end surfaces and a wick substantially contained within said candle, the wick having a first and second end extending beyond said first and second end surfaces, respectively; an optical fiber located coaxially within said wick; a base, comprising an optical switch and a sound-generating system, said base being detachable from said first candle; an alignment guide within said first candle, said alignment guide comprising a block containing a hole, said optical fiber passing through said hole; said alignment guide acting as a fire stop; said sound-generating system comprising a speaker coupled to a memory, said memory capable of containing one or more sound recordings, said memory releasing at least some of its contents upon receiving a signal from said optical switch.

23. The sound-producing candle assembly of claim 22, wherein said first candle is interchangeable with at least one second candle.

24. The sound-producing candle assembly of claim 22 wherein said wick and said optical fiber are consumable at substantially the same rate.

25. The sound-producing candle assembly of claim 22 wherein said memory comprises at least one integrated circuit chip.

26. The sound-producing candle assembly of claim 22, wherein said memory can be removed and replaced by a user.

27. The sound-producing candle assembly of claim 22, further comprising a sound selection switch.

28. The sound-producing candle assembly of claim 22, further comprising a switch in said base, said switch preventing the generation of sound by said sound-generating system while said base is detached from a candle.

29. The sound-producing candle assembly of claim 22 further comprising a microphone, wherein sound detected by said microphone can be stored in said memory.

30. A sound producing and recording candle assembly, said assembly comprising: a candle with a wick substantially contained within said candle, a sensor proximate to said wick; and a base, comprising a sound-generating system and a sound-recording system.

31. The candle assembly of claim 30, wherein said sound-generating system comprises a speaker coupled to a memory, said memory capable of containing one or more sound recordings.

32. The candle assembly of claim 31, wherein said sound recording system comprises a microphone, said one or more sound recordings comprising sound detected by said microphone.

33. The candle assembly of claim 31, wherein said sensor generates a signal when a flame is present on said wick, said memory releasing at least some of its contents upon receiving said signal.

34. The candle assembly of claim 31, wherein said memory can be removed and replaced by a user.

35. The candle assembly of claim 31, further comprising a sound selection switch.

36. The candle assembly of claim 30, wherein said candle and said base can be detached from one another and said candle can be replaced by at least one second candle.

37. The candle assembly of claim 36, further comprising a switch in said base, said switch preventing the generation of sound by said sound-generating system while said base is detached from a candle.

38. The candle assembly of claim 30, wherein said sensor comprises an optical guide and optical switch.

39. The candle assembly of claim 38, wherein said optical guide is coaxial with said wick.

40. The candle assembly of claim 38, further comprising an alignment guide, said alignment guide maintaining alignment between said optical guide and said optical switch.

41. The candle assembly of claim 40, wherein said alignment guide acts as a fire stop.

42. The candle assembly of claim 30 further comprising a fire stop.

43. The candle of claim 33, wherein at least two of said sound recordings are automatically released sequentially.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a sound-producing candle and specifically to a candle that produces a musical tune, voice, or other pleasing sound when the candle's wick is lit. The candle can also incorporate a fragrance for aromatherapy.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Candles produce both necessary and pleasurable effects. The light can be used to illuminate rooms. As importantly, the quality of the light produces a moretranquil effect than overhead fluorescent bulbs and even incandescent bulbs. The flicker and warm glow of a candle has a soothing effect. To enhance the soothing effect, some prior art candles have incorporated a music storage device that is enabled upon the lighting of the candle.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,015,175 to Lee discloses a birthday candle that has a thermoresponsive member adjacent to the wick. When the candle is lit, the heat from the candle creates a voltage in the thermoresponsive member. The voltage drives a circuit having a memory. The memory can store a birthday tune. Therefore, when the candle is lit, the birthday tune is played. However, the Lee design has been shown to be unreliable. The heat from the flame is not constant, and if a breeze pushes the flame away from the thermoresponsive member, the tune will stop.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,477,249 to Ruzek et al. discloses a candle that includes an optical fiber adjacent to the candle's wick. The optical fiber runs through the body of the candle and is connected to an electrical circuit. When the candle is lit, its light is channeled through the optical fiber and closes an optical switch. Once the switch is closed, the circuit is completed and a semiconductor storage device containing a musical tune is activated. The tune is played on a speaker. As the wick burns, the optical fiber is melted away.

The Ruzek design suffers from the difficulty that it is easily triggered by ambient light in the room. In other words, if any light is on in the same room as the candle, then the music is played. Likewise, natural sunlight can trigger the candle. Another problem is that the electronics assembly is nested in the base of the candle, increasing the cost of producing the candle. Further, both the wick and the optical fiber must be suspended in the wax during the formation of the candle. If the spacing between the two diverges, the optical fiber may not be properly spaced for connection to the electrical circuit.

A need exists for a reliable, cost-effective candle that can play a musical tune, a sound recorded by a user, or other sound while burning. The candle should allow the user to turn off the sound even when the candle is lit. The volume of the sound should be controllable. Further, the sound should stop when the candle is extinguished. In other words, ambient light should not trigger the circuit.

Another need not met by the prior art is flexibility in the choice of candle attributes and in available sounds with a single base. In previous designs the candle, the base, and components associated with sound triggering and generation are mechanically connected, and are not designed to allow replacing the candle with a new one, while keeping the same base. The previous designs also do not enable a user to play more than one or two sound recording with a given candle. The present invention addresses these issues of flexibility. In a particular embodiment, the user may record his or her own sound. This sound is stored in a memory and made audible when the candle is lit.

Further, there is a need for such a candle that automatically extinguishes itself after burning a prescribed length. Such a candle would present additional safety and prevent undesired depletion of the candle.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention incorporates features of the candles disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,921,767 and 6,074,199. These two patents are now commonly owned by the inventors of the subject invention of this application, and both are hereby incorporated by reference.

The present invention overcomes many of the disadvantages of the prior art candles. The invention comprises an assembly of a candle and a base, with the candle detachable from the base. Once one candle has been detached from the base, other candles can be attached without affecting the functioning of the flame-induced sound generation. An advantage of this embodiment is that it allows the more expensive electronics to be placed into a reusable base, while a less expensive flame sensor, such as thermocouple or optical fiber, is placed in the disposable candle. Another advantage is that the user may easily switch at any time from one candle to others differing in attributes such as color, fragrance, surface design, or surface texture.

In one embodiment of the present invention there is an optical guide attached to the candle that conveys light from the candle flame to an optical switch attached to the base. The light acts to turn on the switch, and the switch, in turn, activates a sound-generating system attached to the base. The sound generating system includes one or more sound recordings stored in a memory device. Upon activation, the system drives a speaker, rendering the stored sounds audible to a listener. Recorded sound could be music, a voice, or other soothing sounds, such as rain, the ocean, birds or a forest. One example of such a memory device, not intended to be limiting, is a semiconductor integrated circuit. In one embodiment of the invention, the memory device could be physically removed and replaced by another memory device containing a recording of a different sound. Alternatively, a single memory device could contain a plurality of sounds and be coupled to a selection switch. Using the selection switch the user could choose which sound to listen to at any time.

The sound generating system could also include a microphone, which could detect sounds. These sounds could then be stored as a recording in the memory. As a specific example, not to be limiting, the microphone could allow a user to record a spoken message, which is then heard when the candle is lit.

Additional circuitry could be included which would enable several sound recordings to be heard in sequence when the candle is lit. As one embodiment, not to be limiting, a voice message would be recorded by a user. When the candle is lit, this voice would be heard first, followed by one or more musical recordings.

For proper operation of the assembly, the alignment of the optical guide with the optical switch must be maintained, so that while the candle is lit enough light for activating the sound generation falls on the optical switch. This alignment must be accurately duplicated whenever a candle is placed on the base.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the optical guide passes through an alignment guide, which could be embedded in the candle. The alignment guide could be a block of material containing a hole through which the optical guide passes. The alignment guide provides a well-defined, stable position for the optical guide and insures proper alignment between the optical guide and the optical switch.

In another embodiment, the lower end of the candle and the base can be configured with a registration mechanism to positively register the candle with the base. For example, the lower end of the candle can have one or more off-centered peg portions that engage similarly shaped ports in the base. This forces the user to place the candle onto the base with the correct orientation and insures necessary alignment of the optical guide and optical switch.

In another embodiment, the base has a lip on its top surface surrounding the candle. The lip prevents the candle from toppling off the base and also prevents lateral motion of the candle, which could disrupt the alignment.

It may be desirable that the sound not be generated while the candle is being replaced. In one embodiment, the optical switch lies on the surface of the base and could be switched on by ambient room light while a candle is not resting on the base. To prevent the sound generation in this situation, a switch could be included in the base, which will deactivate the sound generating system when a candle is not on the base. In one embodiment, this switch could be a mechanical switch that is activated by the weight of the candle.

The previously described embodiments are intended to be exemplary and not limiting to the scope of the invention. It should be apparent to those skilled in the art that any or all elements of the previously described embodiments can be combined in one embodiment in order to enhance the alignment preservation. Other, similar alignment schemes may occur to those skilled in the art which nevertheless do not depart from the scope of this invention.

The present invention can use an optical guide within the wick that burns away at generally the same rate as the wick. It is well known that a wick blackens upon burning. This is due to the ash from the combustion of the wick. This ash is used to shield the optical guide when the candle is not in use. In other words, when the wick is lit, the flame's light is transmitted through the optical guide to an optical switch. However, when the candle is extinguished, the soot and ash on the remaining wick generally shield the optical guide from ambient light. As a further precaution, the optical switch can be tuned to activate only upon the reception of a particular light wavelength produced by the burning candle. In this manner the switch will not be activated even if the soot and ash are insufficient to shield the optical guide from ambient light.

An embodiment of the invention may also contain a fire stop for extinguishing the candle after it burns to a certain point or series of points on the length of the candle. This is accomplished by placing in series with the wick a non-combustible material. The flame is thus extinguished when it reaches the non-combustible material. This prevents the candle from being inadvertently consumed and requires that the candle be re-ignited for it to burn further. In one embodiment, the aforementioned alignment guide may be fabricated from non-combustible material and act as a fire stop.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding of the present invention, and for further details and advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following Detailed Description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, and also in conjunction with the drawings included in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,921,767 and 6,074,199 incorporated by reference.

FIG. 1 shows an exploded side sectional view of a candle assembly according to one embodiment of the present invention, showing a candle and base detachable from one another, and an alignment guide.

FIG. 2 shows a side sectional view of a candle showing embodiments of a fire stop on the wick and a registration mechanism.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows an exploded view of a candle assembly 10 comprising a candle 12 and a base 17 which form an embodiment of the present invention. In actual use the end surface 24 of the candle 12 rests on the upper surface 25 of the base 17. The candle 12 can have a generally cylindrical body as shown or any other desirable shape. As expected, the candle will be made of a combustible material such as wax. The candle can also include coloring, a fragrance, a surface design or surface texture. A wick 14 is located within the candle, as shown. An optical guide 16, which could be an optical fiber, is located within the wick 14. In use, the wick is ignited to produce a flame 18. Once the flame is present, the wick and an amount of wax are consumed to produce the flame. The flame 18 produces sufficient light for an optical signal to be transmitted down the optical guide. In use, the optical signal is constant because the optical guide 16 is in the midst of the flame 18 thus supplying a sufficient quantity of light to the optical fiber 16. As the wick and wax are consumed, the optical fiber can also be consumed so that the wick and optical fiber will stay approximately the same height relative to the top surface of the candle.

Light 22 conveyed by the optical guide 16 exits the guide at its lower end and falls on an optical switch 20, activating the switch. The guide 16 and switch 20 are not mechanically connected, so the base 17 and candle 12 can be separated and a different candle placed in the base. The light-activated switch 20, in turn, activates the sound-generating system in the base 17, and sound is then heard by the user. When the flame 18 is extinguished, light no longer reaches the optical switch 20 and the sound ceases.

The wick 14 and optical guide 16 pass through an alignment guide 25 embedded in the candle 12. The alignment guide, in this embodiment, is a block of material with a hole bored completely through, and the wick 14 and optical guide 16 pass through the hole. The alignment guide 25 keeps the lower end of the optical guide 16 aligned with the optical switch 20, to insure that sufficient light 22 from the flame 18 falls on the switch 20 for reliable, stable triggering of the sound. Multiple candles, each one containing a similar such alignment guide, can be interchanged on the same base 17 without introducing significant variations in the reliability of the optical triggering of the sound. If the alignment guide 25 is fabricated from a non-combustible material, such as metal, it can also function as a fire stop, in the manner described previously.

The stability and reproducibility of the alignment of the optical guide 16 and optical switch 20 can be further enhanced by the presence of a lip 28 on the base 17, surrounding the candle 12. The lip prevents the candle 12 from toppling off the base 17 and prevents sideways motion of the candle 12, which could disrupt the aforementioned alignment.

FIG. 2 illustrates an alternate embodiment of a candle 12 in a detachable base 17 with a registration mechanism 40, 50 and a fire stop 42. The registration mechanism comprises an alignment tab 40 extending from the base, in a non-centered position, into an indentation 50 in the lower end of the candle. In this embodiment, the wick 14 includes a fire stop 42. The stop can be a metallic plate or other non-combustible material. Thus, if the candle is left unattended, it will be less of a safety hazard. Further, in this embodiment, the transmission guide 16 need not be located within the wick 14.

Although embodiments of the present invention have been described above and illustrated in the accompanying drawings, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited to the embodiments disclosed, but is capable of numerous rearrangements, modifications, and substitutions of steps without departing from the spirit of the invention. Accordingly, the present invention is intended to encompass such rearrangements, modifications, and substitutions of steps as fall within the scope of the appended claims.