Title:
Product dispenser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
According to one embodiment of the present invention, a product dispenser for dispensing a plurality of items is provided. The product dispenser comprises a housing, cradle and a movable platform. The housing has a sidewall and a substantially planar base. The base has an aperture configured to permit at least one item to fit therethrough. The cradle is disposed within the housing. The movable platform is disposed within the housing adjacent to the cradle and is configured to support the plurality of items. The movable platform is movable between a first and a second position. When the movable platform is in the first position, the movable platform is substantially parallel to the base. When the movable platform is in the second position, the movable platform is at an acute angle relative to the base. In response to movement to the second position, the cradle is adapted to receive the item.



Inventors:
Hartelius, Mark (Chicago, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/399270
Publication Date:
10/12/2006
Filing Date:
04/05/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A24F15/04
View Patent Images:
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20070170198Hinge feederJuly, 2007Kvalheim
20090223993MEN'S PERSONAL HYGIENE NAPKIN DISPENSER AND WASTE RECEPTACLESeptember, 2009Lorenzati
20020032582System for medication dispensing and integrated data managementMarch, 2002Robert Jr. et al.
20100044391ICE DISPENSER HAVING A SAFETY APPARATUSFebruary, 2010Fallon et al.
20060000843Tissue supply and waste disposal systemJanuary, 2006Stubbs
20100088794FINGER COVERS AND DEVICES FOR DISPENSING FINGER COVERSApril, 2010Oradini Sr.



Primary Examiner:
WAGGONER, TIMOTHY R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ROBERT W. JUSHER (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A product dispenser for dispensing a plurality of items comprising: a housing having a sidewall and a substantially planar base, the base having an aperture configured to permit at least one item to fit therethrough; a cradle disposed within the housing; and a movable platform disposed within the housing adjacent to the cradle and configured to support the plurality of items, the movable platform movable between a first and a second position, wherein when the movable platform is in the first position the movable platform is substantially parallel to the base, and when the movable platform is in the second position the movable platform is at an acute angle relative to the base, and wherein in response to movement to the second position, the cradle is adapted to receive the item.

2. The product dispenser of claim 1 wherein in response to movement to the first position, the item fits through the aperture.

3. The product dispenser of claim 1 wherein a substantial portion of the housing is transparent.

4. The product dispenser of claim 1 wherein the base is substantially circular.

5. The product dispenser of claim 1 wherein the acute angle is less than 45 degrees.

6. The product dispenser of claim 1 wherein the acute angle is approximately 30 degrees.

7. The product dispenser of claim 1 wherein the movable platform is substantially flat.

8. The product dispenser of claim 1 further comprising a spring capable of biasing the movable platform to the first position.

9. The product dispenser of claim 8 wherein the spring automatically returns the movable platform to the first position from the second position.

10. The product dispenser of claim 1 further comprising a lever capable of moving the movable platform from the first position to the second position.

11. The product dispenser of claim 1 further comprising a first and a second tab integral with the cradle, the first tab being taller than the second tab.

12. The product dispenser of claim 1 wherein the housing is in the shape of a bell.

13. A product dispenser for dispensing a plurality of items comprising: a housing top having a sidewall; a housing bottom having a plurality of spaced-apart lights having an active mode and an inactive mode, an aperture configured to permit the single item to fit therethrough, wherein the housing top and the housing bottom align to form a housing assembly; and a platform configured to support the plurality of items disposed within the housing assembly, wherein when the lights are in the active mode, the lights illuminate in a random sequence and when the lights are in the inactive mode, all of the lights are off.

14. The product dispenser of claim 13 wherein the lights are light emitting diodes.

15. The product dispenser of claim 13 wherein when the lights are in the active mode, only one light is illuminated at a time.

16. The product dispenser of claim 13 wherein the lights are equally spaced-apart along the housing bottom.

17. The product dispenser of claim 13 wherein each light is associated with a fortune event.

18. The product dispenser of claim 13 wherein when the lights are in the active mode, the lights are illuminated for between one and four seconds.

19. The product dispenser of claim 13 wherein the plurality of lights consist of six lights.

20. A candy dispenser comprising: a housing having a sidewall and a base, the base having an aperture; a movable platform having a first position and a second position, the movable platform being disposed completely within the housing; a candy item disposed on the movable platform when the movable platform is in the first position; a moving means for moving the movable platform from the first position to the second position; a return means for moving the movable platform from the second position to the first position; and a curvilinear cradle having a first and a second integral tab for receiving the candy item from the movable platform when the movable platform is in the second position and for positioning the candy item adjacent to the aperture.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/668,638, filed Apr. 6, 2005.

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to a product dispenser, and more particularly to a product dispenser with a movable platform.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Children and others often desire candy dispensers to eject individual servings of a candy item. One problem typically associated with candy dispensers is that it is difficult to consistently dispense the candy item in a particular orientation. Specifically, for certain candy items such as Hershey's Kisses®, it is desirable to deliver the candy item with the larger bottom down. In addition, children desire amusement and entertainment from fortune telling or other games.

The present invention is provided to solve the problems discussed above and other problems, and to provide advantages and aspects not provided by prior product dispensers of this type. A full discussion of the features and advantages of the present invention is deferred to the following detailed description, which proceeds with reference to the accompanying drawings.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a product dispenser. In one embodiment, the product dispenser dispenses a piece of candy. When a user presses the top of the housing, an internal platform is tilted. The piece of candy on the platform slides into a cradle and eventually is expelled through an aperture in the bottom of the housing. In one embodiment, the product dispenser uses LED lights to provide entertainment, by for example, fortune telling or question answering.

According to one embodiment of the present invention, a product dispenser for dispensing a plurality of items is provided. The product dispenser comprises a housing, cradle and a movable platform. The housing has a sidewall and a substantially planar base. The base has an aperture configured to permit at least one item to fit therethrough. The cradle is disposed within the housing. The movable platform is disposed within the housing adjacent to the cradle and is configured to support the plurality of items. The movable platform is movable between a first and a second position. When the movable platform is in the first position, the movable platform is substantially parallel to the base. When the movable platform is in the second position, the movable platform is at an acute angle relative to the base. In response to movement to the second position, the cradle is adapted to receive the item.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, a product dispenser for dispensing a plurality of items is provided. The product dispenser comprises a housing top, a housing bottom and a platform. The housing bottom has a plurality of spaced-apart lights. The housing bottom also has an aperture configured to permit the single item to fit therethrough. The housing top and the housing bottom align to form a housing assembly. The platform is configured to support the plurality of items disposed within the housing assembly. The lights have an active mode and an inactive mode. When the lights are in the active mode, the lights illuminate in a random sequence. When the lights are in the inactive mode, all of the lights are off.

According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, a product dispenser is provided. The product dispenser comprises a housing, a movable platform, an item, a moving means, a return means and a curvilinear cradle. The housing has a sidewall and a base. The base has an aperture. The movable platform is disposed completely within the housing and has a first position and a second position. The item is disposed on the movable platform when the movable platform is in the first position. The moving means moves the movable platform from the first position to the second position. The return means moves the movable platform from the second position to the first position. The cradle has a first and a second tab and is capable of receiving the item from the movable platform when the movable platform is in the second position and of positioning the item adjacent to the aperture.

Other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following specification taken in conjunction with the following drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

To understand the present invention, it will now be described by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a bottom view of one embodiment of the product dispenser of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side view of one embodiment of the product dispenser of the present invention having a movable platform in a first position;

FIG. 3 is a side view of one embodiment of the product dispenser of the present invention having a movable platform in a second position;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the product dispenser of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the housing bottom of one embodiment of the product dispenser of the present invention in a first position; and,

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the housing bottom of one embodiment of the product dispenser of the present invention in a second position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

While this invention is susceptible of embodiments in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail preferred embodiments of the invention with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the broad aspect of the invention to the embodiments illustrated.

Referring to FIGS. 1-6, a product dispenser 10 is provided. Product dispenser 10 may dispense toys, tokens, candy, food and other objects and items. By way of example and without limiting the scope of the invention, product dispenser 10 is illustrated as a candy dispenser and, item 12 is shown as candy in the Figures. The product dispenser 10 includes a housing 14, a cradle 26, and a movable platform 28.

Turning first to FIGS. 1-3, the housing 14 has a sidewall 20. The housing 14 also has a substantially planar base 22. In one embodiment, the base 22 is substantially circular. The base 22 has an aperture 24 configured to permit at least one item 12 to fit therethrough. Typically, the aperture 24 is located on the side of base 22.

In one embodiment of the present invention, a substantial portion of the housing 14 is transparent. Housing 14 may be formed of plastic or glass. Having a portion of the housing 14 transparent permits viewers to see the items 12 within the product dispenser 10. In one embodiment, the housing 14 is in the shape of a bell and is used for dispensing Hershey's Kisses® candy. However, as will be understood by those of skill in the art, the housing 14 may be shaped in other configurations and used to dispense any candy or other item. Optionally a banner 38 may be attached or affixed to housing 14.

The housing 14 may be composed of two components, housing top 16 and housing bottom 18. The plastic housing allows the consumer to remove the clear housing top 16, fill with toys, tokens, food, candy or chocolates, then by bayonet mount, attach the bottom housing 18 with mechanism inside.

Cradle 26 is disposed within the housing 14. Cradle or smaller platform 26 may be continuously curvilinear and generally a semi-circle in shape. As shown in FIG. 5, cradle 26 may include one or more tabs 27. In a preferred embodiment, two tabs 27 are present, one taller than the other, and both are molded to be part of and integral with cradle 26. Cradle 26 holds an item 12 adjacent to the aperture 24. Preferably, cradle 26 is of a size to only hold a single item 12. A lever 33 moves cradle 26 from an initial position to a second position. The second position places the item 12 in spaced-relationship with the aperture 24 so that the item 12 can be easily fitted through the aperture 24. Tabs 27 are designed to assist a bell-shaped item, such as a Hershey's Kiss® to become upright in the cradle 26. The longer tab 27 will flip the base of the Hershey's Kiss® over so it is upright. The smaller tab 27 prevents the item from falling back onto the movable platform 28. As the cradle 26 moves between positions, the tabs 27 slide into slots on the housing 14 as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6.

The movable platform 28 is disposed within the housing 14. The movable platform 28 is adjacent to the cradle 26 and is configured to support the plurality of items 12. The movable platform 28 is substantially flat and may extend along the entire width of housing 14.

The movable platform 28 moves between a first and a second position. The product dispenser 10 is illustrated in the first position in FIG. 2 and in the second position in FIG. 3. When the movable platform 28 is in the first position, the movable platform 28 is substantially parallel to the base 22. When the movable platform 28 is in the second position, the movable platform 28 is at an acute angle relative to the base 22. The acute angle is preferably less than 45 degrees, and more preferably approximately 30 degrees.

In response to movement to the second position, the cradle 26 is adapted to receive the item 12, preferably a single item 12. In response to movement to the first position, cradle 26 moves back to its original position and the item 12 fits through the aperture 24.

The product dispenser 10 also may include a spring 30. Spring 30 biases the movable platform 28 to the first position. Thus, when the movable platform 28 moves into the second position, the spring 30 expands. The bias will aid in automatically moving and returning the movable platform 28 back to the first position.

The product dispenser 10 further may include a lever 32. The lever 32 is capable of moving the movable platform 28 from the first position to the second position. The lever 32 also aids in positioning the item 12 into the cradle 26 adjacent to the aperture 24.

Turning now to another embodiment of the present invention, a product dispenser 10 for dispensing a plurality of items 12 is provided. Product dispenser 10 comprises a housing top 16 having a sidewall 20, a housing bottom 18 having a plurality of spaced-apart lights 36, an aperture 24 configured to permit the single item 12 to fit therethrough, and a platform 28 configured to support the plurality of items 12 disposed within the housing assembly 14. The housing top 16 and the housing bottom 18 align to form a housing assembly 14.

As shown in FIG. 4, the lights 36 may be any suitable light source including for example light emitted diodes. There may be any number of lights, and in one embodiment there are six lights. The lights 36 have an active mode and an inactive mode. When the lights 36 are in the active mode, the lights 36 illuminate in a random sequence. The random sequence can be determined by use of a randomizer. When the lights 36 are in the inactive mode, all of the lights 36 are off. In one embodiment, when the lights 36 are in the active mode, only one light 36 is illuminated at a time. When the lights 36 are in the active mode, the lights 36 are illuminated for between one and four seconds. The lights 36 are preferably equally spaced-apart along the housing bottom 18.

In one embodiment, the product dispenser 10 of the present invention uses LED lights to provide entertainment by showing value to the light that is illuminated at the end, in a manner of amusement that is similar to fortune telling or question answering. Each light 36 may be associated with a fortune event or other value. The association may be through writing on the product, stickers or the color of the light itself. The value permits a user to ask the device a question and obtain an answer.

The product dispenser 10 of the present invention is easily utilized by children or other users. When the top housing 16 is pressed, it slides inside of the bottom housing 18 which allows the side walls 20 to activate a lever 32 that will tilt the internal platform 28. Simultaneously, there is a lever 33 that forces the cradle or small internal platform 26 to tilt towards the center of the product dispenser 10. As the top housing 16 is released, there is an internal spring 30 that forces the housing 14 up. In doing that the internal platform 28 goes back to horizontal and the small internal platform or cradle 26 rotates back to the first position.

As the internal platform 28 is tilted towards the smaller internal platform or cradle 26, the item 12 is then forced to the smaller platform or cradle 26 by gravity. In one embodiment, once an item 12 is centered on the smaller internal platform or cradle 26, no other item can be placed on the smaller internal platform or cradle 26.

Then, when the smaller internal platform or cradle 26 is rotated back to the first position, the item 12 is carried with and out the aperture 24 of the lower housing 16 or base 22, thus dispensing the item 12.

In one embodiment, as the item 12 is centered on the smaller internal platform or cradle 26, there are two integral tabs 27 that allow the shape of a Hershey Kiss® to be dispensed in an upright position. These two tabs 27 are at different heights to allow the Kiss® to fall on the flat side of the candy item, thus having it upright consistently.

As the main housing 14 is pressed to actuate the candy dispensing sequence described above, there are 6 LED lights 36 on the outside of the base housing, that are equally distanced apart and have decoration of value placed on the outside of the housing by each LED, now will light up in random sequence at a pace of 1 light per second which then will slow to 1 light being illuminated after 4 seconds. At that time, the associated value is then recognized by the stationary light and such value can be read by the user.

While the specific embodiments have been illustrated and described, numerous modifications come to mind without significantly departing from the spirit of the invention, and the scope of protection is only limited by the scope of the accompanying claims.