Title:
Programmable baby mobiles and baby soothing devices
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Baby soothing devices for soothing a baby to sleep and/or for entertaining a baby. The device is mountable to a crib and includes a central operating unit including an interface component adapted to electronically interface with a portable music player. A speaker is operatively coupled to the central operating unit. A visual stimulation device is operatively coupled to the central operating unit and presents a visual stimulus above the baby crib. An attachment bracket is coupled to the central operating unit and is adapted to mount the central operating unit to the baby crib. The visual stimulation device may be in the form of a mobile, a projector or a side panel display. The interface component may be in the form of a docking station, a USB port or other type of port. The central operating unit may be powered by AC current, by batteries or other power means.



Inventors:
Osborn, Kathy (Indianapolis, IN, US)
Application Number:
11/490561
Publication Date:
01/24/2008
Filing Date:
07/21/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20100048088STUFFED ANIMAL WITH REMOVABLY ATTACHABLE TAILFebruary, 2010Cardinale et al.
20060270318Transformation toy interchangeabilityNovember, 2006Campbell
20100099330Pocket AudienceApril, 2010Digiovanni
20080108273Vehicular towed aircraft toy for passenger operation and message displayMay, 2008Alden
20040209545Remote signal responsive small vehicle with free wheeling featureOctober, 2004Rudell et al.
20030162474Interactive coloring toyAugust, 2003Horchler et al.
20060292959Ornate adjustable weight for helium balloonDecember, 2006Greenwald et al.
20090227176Puppet with detachable weightSeptember, 2009Skourtis
20060154557gravity deviceJuly, 2006Petkovic
20090298381Shadow Activity BookDecember, 2009Fink
20090004947MOLDED FABRIC DOLL ACCESSORYJanuary, 2009Dale et al.



Primary Examiner:
DENNIS, MICHAEL DAVID
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FAEGRE DRINKER BIDDLE & REATH LLP (INDIANAPOLIS, IN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A baby soothing device for mounting to a baby crib comprising: a central operating unit including an interface component adapted to electronically interface with a portable music player; a speaker operatively coupled to said central operating unit; a visual stimulation device operatively coupled to said central operating unit and presenting a visual stimulus above the baby crib; and an attachment bracket coupled to said central operating unit and adapted to mount said central operating unit to the baby crib.

2. The baby soothing device of claim 1 wherein said visual stimulation device includes a mobile, said mobile having an arm coupled at one end to and extending from said central operating unit and said visual stimulus is rotatably coupled to an opposite end of said arm.

3. The baby soothing device of claim 1 wherein said visual stimulation device includes projector, said projector projecting said visual stimulus in an area above said central operating unit.

4. The baby soothing device of claim 1 wherein said interface component includes a docking station having a recess for receiving and holding the portable music player and a dock connector disposed in said recess, said dock connector adapted to electronically mate with a mating port on the portable music player.

5. The baby soothing device of claim 1 wherein said interface component includes a port for electronically coupling with the portable music player.

6. The baby soothing device of claim 1 wherein said central operating unit includes a power source, said power source including a battery.

7. The baby soothing device of claim 1 wherein said central operating unit includes an electrical cord adapted to couple with an AC outlet.

8. The baby soothing device of claim 8 wherein said electrical cord is housed within a rigid cover.

9. The baby soothing device of claim 1 further including a remote controller and wherein said central operating unit includes a remote sensor, said remote controller operative to control said central operating unit.

10. A baby soothing device comprising: a central operating unit including an interface component adapted to electronically interface with a portable music player; a speaker operatively coupled to said central operating unit; and a mobile operatively coupled to said central operating unit, said mobile including an elongated arm coupled at one end to and extending from said central operating unit, said mobile including a visual stimulus coupled to an opposite end of said elongated arm.

11. The baby soothing device of claim 10 further including an attachment bracket, said attachment bracket coupled to said central operating unit.

12. The baby soothing device of claim 10 further including a remote controller and wherein said central operating unit includes a remote sensor, said remote sensor receiving signals from said remote controller.

13. The baby soothing device of claim 10 wherein said central operating unit further includes a projector, said projector projecting an image in an area away from said central operating unit.

14. The baby soothing device of claim 10 wherein said interface includes a docking station having a recess for receiving and holding the portable music player and a dock connector disposed in said recess, said dock connector adapted to electronically mate with a mating port on the portable music player.

15. The baby soothing device of claim 10 wherein said interface component includes an electronic port for electronically coupling with the portable music player.

16. A baby soothing device for use in a room having a wall or a ceiling, the baby soothing device comprising: a central operating unit including an interface component adapted to electronically interface with an portable music player; a speaker operatively coupled to said central operating unit; and a projector operatively coupled to said central operating unit, said projector adapted to project an image on at least one of the wall or the ceiling of the room.

17. The baby soothing device of claim 16 further including an attachment bracket, said attachment bracket coupled to said central operating unit.

18. The baby soothing device of claim 16 further including a mobile operatively coupled to said central operating unit, said mobile including an elongated arm coupled at one end to and extending from said central operating unit, said mobile including a visual stimulus coupled to an opposite end of said elongated arm.

19. The baby soothing device of claim 16 wherein said interface includes a docking station having a recess for receiving and holding the portable music player and a dock connector disposed in said recess, said dock connector adapted to electronically mate with a mating port on the portable music player.

20. The baby soothing device of claim 16 wherein said central operating unit includes an electrical cord adapted to couple with an AC outlet.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to baby mobiles and baby soothing devices.

Traditional baby mobiles are mountable to a baby's crib and include a music box, an arm extending from a music box over the baby crib, and a plurality of objects or toys suspended from the arm. The music box typically stores only a few songs. The music box is powered by batteries and operates to play the songs and rotate the objects above the crib. The mechanism for activating the mobile (i.e. playing the songs and rotating the objects) is often in the form of a wind up music box. In these cases the mechanism for playing the music is usually a mechanical music player and the music is played for the duration of the wind. In other words, the play length of the music box is determined by the wind up capacity. In other cases, the mechanism for activating the mobile is electronic and a button is pushed to activate the mobile. In these cases, the playback mechanism is digital in nature and typically plays less soothing and more robotic sounding renditions of the music. The play length of these electronic playback music boxes is determined by the length of the song.

Oftentimes, the length of the playback is not long enough to soothe a baby to sleep and parents are forced to sneak back into the baby's room to re-activate the music box. In addition, the variety of songs and sound quality is limited. It can be rather frustrating to come home with a baby mobile that plays a song that, for one reason or another, is not soothing to the baby. It would be beneficial to provide a baby soothing device that would allow parents to program and play back any variety of songs for any desired duration. It would be of further benefit to provide a baby soothing device that provided improved sound quality.

SUMMARY

The present invention provides baby soothing devices for soothing a baby to sleep and/or for entertaining a baby. In one aspect, the baby soothing device is mountable to a crib and includes a central operating unit including an interface component adapted to electronically interface with a portable music player. A speaker is operatively coupled to the central operating unit. A visual stimulation device is operatively coupled to the central operating unit and presents a visual stimulus above the baby crib. An attachment bracket is coupled to the central operating unit and is adapted to mount the central operating unit to the baby crib. The visual stimulation device may be in the form of a mobile, a projector or a side panel display. The interface component may be in the form of a docking station, a USB port or other type of port. The central operating unit may be powered by AC current through an electrical cord, by batteries or other power means. The baby soothing device may include a remote controller and a remote sensor. The remote controller is operative to control the central operating unit.

In another aspect, the baby soothing device includes a central operating unit including an interface component adapted to electronically interface with a portable music player, a speaker operatively coupled to the central operating unit, and a mobile operatively coupled to the central operating unit. The mobile includes an elongated arm coupled at one end to and extending from the central operating unit. The mobile includes a visual stimulus coupled to an opposite end of the elongated arm.

In still another aspect, the baby soothing device includes a central operating unit including an interface component adapted to electronically interface with an portable music player, a speaker operatively coupled to the central operating unit, and a projector operatively coupled to the central operating unit. The projector is adapted to project an image on at least one of the walls or the ceiling of the room near the baby's crib.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above mentioned and other features and objects of this invention, and the manner of attaining them, will become more apparent and the invention itself will be better understood by reference to the following description of an embodiment of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a sectional view of a crib having a baby soothing device according to one embodiment of the present invention mounted thereon;

FIG. 2 is a top view of the baby soothing device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view of a crib having a baby soothing device according to another embodiment of the present invention mounted thereon; and

FIG. 4 is a sectional view of a crib having a baby soothing device according to another embodiment of the present invention mounted thereon.

Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views. Although the drawings represent embodiments of the present invention, the drawings are not necessarily to scale and certain features may be exaggerated in order to better illustrate and explain the present invention. Although the exemplification set out herein illustrates embodiments of the invention, in several forms, the embodiments disclosed below are not intended to be exhaustive or to be construed as limiting the scope of the invention to the precise forms disclosed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The embodiments hereinafter disclosed are not intended to be exhaustive or limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed in the following description. Rather the embodiments are chosen and described so that others skilled in the art may utilize its teachings.

Referring first to FIG. 1, baby soothing device 20 according to one embodiment of the present invention will now be described. Baby soothing device 20 is adapted for mounting on baby crib 10, as described in further detail below. Crib 10 generally includes headboard panel 12, footboard panel (not shown) and side panels 14 extending between headboard 12 and footboard (not shown). Headboard 12, footboard (not shown) and side panels 14 cooperate to surround mattress 16.

Baby soothing device 20 generally includes central operating unit or base 22, attachment bracket 32 coupling central operating unit to crib 10, and visual stimulation device or mobile 36 operatively coupled to central operating unit 22. Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, central operating unit 22 includes interface component 24, which is adapted to electronically interface with mp3 player or iPod 26. It should be understood that interface component 24 may be adapted to interface with any portable music player, digital music player or music storage device including an mp3 player, flash drive, satellite radio receiver, and CD player. As illustrated in FIG. 2, interface component 24 acts as a docking station for mp3 player 26 and includes recess 24a, in which mp3 player 26 may be cradled, and dock connector 24b disposed within recess 24a. Dock connector 24b is adapted to electronically couple with a mating port or connector (not shown) on mp3 player 26. For example, dock connector 24b may be in the form of a male connector mateable with a standard female connector (not shown) on mp3 player 26. Central operating unit 22 operatively couples and communicates with mp3 player 26 via dock connector 24b. Central operating unit 22 also includes speaker 28, which is operatively coupled with mp3 player 26 via dock connector 24b and is adapted to transmit the sound and music stored in mp3 player 26. Central operating unit 22 may also include remote sensor 30, which is adapted to receive signals from a remote controller (not shown) to control central operating unit in response to the signals received.

Attachment bracket 32 is coupled to central operating unit 22 and is adapted to mount central operating unit 22 to side panel 14 of crib 10. Attachment bracket 32 may be in the form of any known attachment bracket used for mounting mobiles or other devices to a crib. Alternatively, attachment bracket 32 may be configured to mount central operating unit 22 to a wall near crib 10.

Referring still to FIG. 1, visual stimulation device 36 is in the form of a mobile having arm 38 and visual stimuli 40. Arm 38 is operatively attached at one end to arm receiving opening 37 (FIG. 2) of central operating unit 22. Visual stimuli 40 in the form of small stuffed animals are rotably mounted to the opposite end of arm 38. Arm 38 is configured to position visual stimuli 40 over mattress 16. Central operating unit 22 is adapted to drive the rotation of visual stimuli 40 about the end of arm 38 in a manner similar to conventional mobiles. It should be understood that visual stimuli 40 need not be in the form of stuffed animals, but could be in the form of lights, toys, shapes and other visually stimulating objects.

Central operating unit 22 includes power cord 42, which is adapted to be plugged into AC outlet 44 and to deliver electrical current from outlet 44 to central operating unit 22. For added safety, cord 42 may be housed within rigid cover 46 extending from central operating unit 22 to below mattress 16 such that cord 42 is out of the reach of a baby in crib 10.

In use, central operating unit 22 is mounted to side panel 14 of crib 10 using attachment bracket 32. Visual stimulation device 36 is coupled to central operating unit 22 by inserting arm 38 into arm receiving opening 37 (FIG. 2) such that visual stimuli 40 are positioned above mattress 16. Power cord 42 is then plugged into outlet 44. Mp3 player 26 is then cradled in recess 24a such that dock connector 24b electronically couples with a mating port (not shown) on mp3 player 26. A play list (i.e. a list of songs stored on the mp3 player) is selected using the keys (not shown) on mp3 player 26. Mp3 player 26 communicates the audio signals from the play list to speaker 28 via central operating unit 22 thereby causing speaker 28 to play the songs on the play list. When audio signals are being transmitted from mp3 player 26 to speaker 28, central operating unit 22 operates to rotate visual stimuli 40 about the end of arm 38.

A standard remote controller may be configured to operate central operating unit 22 by transmitting signals to remote sensor 30. Accordingly, central operating unit 22 may be adapted such that a user can turn off speaker 28, control the volume of speaker 28, repeat the selected play list, select a new play list, turn off central operating unit or perform other operating tasks. Central operating unit 22 may include other useful components such as an on/off switch or volume control knob.

Unlike prior baby mobiles, baby soothing device 20 allows the user to program a play list containing any variety of songs to soothe the baby to sleep. The user is not limited to just one or two songs stored in the conventional mobile music boxes. In addition, the user can create a play list of any length to provide longer soothing time. Also, the user can create multiple play lists and/or modify current play lists to provide a variety of music to sooth the baby and/or stimulate brain development. Finally, device 20 provides improved sound quality in comparison to the music boxes of prior mobiles.

Turning now to FIG. 3, baby soothing device 120 according to another embodiment of the present invention is shown. Similar to device 20 (FIG. 1), baby soothing device 120 includes central operating unit 122, interface component 124 and speaker 128. Interface component 124 operates in a manner similar to interface component 24 (FIG. 2) to operatively couple central operating unit 122 to mp3 player 26. Central operating unit 122 is mountable to crib 10, as described above, using attachment bracket 132. Rather than employing AC current through an electrical cord, central operating unit 122 is adapted to be powered by batteries and includes battery compartment 142 for housing batteries.

Rather than a mobile, visual stimulus device 134 of baby soothing device 120 is in the form of a light projector. Light projector 134 is operatively coupled to central operating unit 122 and is adapted to project lights and/or images on ceiling C above mattress 16. The lights or images may be in the form of animals, stars, or other shapes and may be a variety of colors. Furthermore, light projector 134 may be adapted to project moving images on ceiling C.

In operation, baby soothing device 120 operates as described above with respect to device 20 (FIG. 1). However, rather than rotating a mobile, central operating unit 22 causes projector 134 to project and/or move images and lights on ceiling C when music is played through speaker 128. Central operating unit 122 may be configured to operate in music only mode, whereby the music is played but projector 134 is turned off; projector only mode, whereby images are projected but speaker 128 is turned off; or combined music and projector mode, whereby images are projected and music is played. In the combined music and projector mode, central operating unit 122 may be adapted to move or project images on ceiling C in synchrony with the music being played. The images may include photos that are stored in the iPod or digital/portable music device.

Turning now to FIG. 4, baby soothing device 220 according to another embodiment of the present invention is shown. Baby soothing device 220 includes central operating unit 222, mobile 236, battery compartment 242, speaker 228 attachment bracket 232, and interface component 224. In addition or in the alternative to mobile 236, baby soothing device 220 may also include side panel visual stimulation device 248. Side panel visual stimulation device 248 extends downward from attachment bracket 232 such that visual stimulation device 248 is displayed to the side of the baby in crib 10. Device 248 includes visual stimuli 248a, which may be in the form of flashing lights or moving characters. For instance, device 248 may mimic an aquarium, which may contain water and stimuli 248a moving within the water. The stimuli, in this case, may be in the form of fish or other sea creatures. Of course, this aquarium concept is just on example of the a side panel visual stimulation device. Various other concepts may be used. Central operating unit 222 is adapted to activate (i.e. move and/or illuminate) stimuli 248 when a play list is selected in mp3 player 26.

It should be understood that although each of the illustrated embodiments described above employ a docking station arrangement for electronically coupling the central operating unit to the mp3 player, other means may be employed. For instance, the central operating unit may include a USB port adapted to receive the USB connector end of a standard mp3 connector cable. The central operating unit may also include a mechanism to communicate with the home computer network or bluetooth technology. Furthermore, the central operating unit of the present invention need not include a mounting bracket and need not be mounted on the crib or wall. Instead, central operating unit may be adapted to simply sit on a dresser or table in the room and project images or extend mobile over the mattress of the crib. In addition, safety features may be added to the devices of the present invention. For instance, a locking device or cover may be employed to keep the mp3 player from coming out of the docking station and to prevent a child in the crib from dislodging the mp3 player.

While this invention has been described as having an exemplary design, the present invention may be further modified within the spirit and scope of this disclosure. This application is therefore intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the invention using its general principles. Further, this application is intended to cover such departures from the present disclosure as come within known or customary practice in the art to which this invention pertains.