Title:
ILLUMINATING APPARATUS FOR FREESTYLE SNOWBOARDS AND SKIS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An illuminated ski or snowboard binding is disclosed, where the source of illumination is mounted to the ski or snowboard binding. The illuminated ski or snowboard incorporates the use of an illuminated device that is detachably secured to the binding of the ski or snowboard and is powered by a 9V battery. The present invention provides increases the safety of night skiing and snowboarding by illuminating the immediate surroundings and as well as increases the visibility of the user to others.



Inventors:
Hogenmiller, Gerald Joseph (US)
Hogenmiller, Kelly Ann (US)
Hogenmiller, Joshua Gerald (Cranberry Township, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/940690
Publication Date:
06/26/2008
Filing Date:
11/15/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63C9/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VANAMAN, FRANK BENNETT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Gerald Joseph Hogenmiller (Cranberry Township, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus comprising: a ski-binding; a detachable light-emitting source; a strap for attaching the light-emitting source to the ski-binding; a detachable receptor; and a detachable power source for providing power to the light-emitting source, the detachable power source connected to the detachable receptor which is connected to the light-emitting source using conducting wires.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the light-emitting source is a light emitting diode.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the strap is electrical tape.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the strap is a flexible wire.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the strap is hook-and-loop.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the connection between the receptor and the power source is insulated against the elements.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the detachable power source is a battery.

8. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the detachable power source is a solar cell.

9. An apparatus comprising: a ski binding including a first set of holes and a second set of holes, both sets of holes on opposite sides of the ski binding; a plurality of light-emitting sources inserted into each hole such that each light source is positioned to emit light outwards from the ski binding; a receptor; a plurality of insulated wires attaching each light source to the receptor; and a power source attached to the receptor, the power source detachably attached to the ski binding.

10. An apparatus comprising: a snowboard binding; a detachable light-emitting source; a strap for attaching the light-emitting source to the snowboard binding; a detachable receptor; and a detachable power source for providing power to the light-emitting source, the detachable power source connected to the detachable receptor which is connected to the light-emitting source using conducting wires.

11. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the light-emitting source is a light emitting diode.

12. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the strap is electrical tape.

13. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the strap is a flexible wire.

14. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the strap is hook-and-loop.

15. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the connection between the receptor and the power source is insulated against the elements.

16. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the detachable power source is a battery.

17. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the detachable power source is a solar cell.

18. An apparatus comprising: a snowboard binding including a first set of holes and a second set of holes, both sets of holes on opposite sides of the snowboard binding; a plurality of light-emitting sources inserted into each hole such that each light source is positioned to emit light outwards from the snowboard binding; a receptor; a plurality of insulated wires attaching each light source to the receptor; and a power source attached to the receptor, the power source detachably attached to the snowboard binding.

19. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the light-emitting source is a light emitting diode.

20. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the strap is electrical tape.

21. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the strap is a flexible wire.

22. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the strap is hook-and-loop.

23. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the connection between the receptor and the power source is insulated against the elements.

24. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the detachable power source is a battery.

25. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein the detachable power source is a solar cell.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION DATA

This nonprovisional utility patent application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e)(1) to provisional patent application No. 60/876,914, filed on Dec. 22, 2006.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to increasing safety and providing visibility to freestyle snowboard and ski enthusiasts, and specifically, to an apparatus that attaches directly to freestyle snowboard and ski equipment for the purpose of providing illumination.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Snowboarding and skiing have increased in popularity over the years, particularly amongst individuals and families looking for a weekend getaway to the mountains during the winter months. Snowboarding and skiing have also increased in popularity amongst thrill seekers and extreme sportsmen and sportswomen who have an innate desire to take on greater risks and overcome challenging obstacles presented by nature. This increase in popularity has resulted in a record number of skiers and snowboarders on mountain slopes in recent years. Unfortunately, the large turnout of skiers and snowboarders has created “traffic” on the slopes resulting in a dramatic rise in the number of accidents and injuries involving patrons of all skill levels. For this reason, ski resorts are constantly searching for opportunities to decrease the number of patrons on the slopes at any given time, while maintaining and/or increasing public interest, enthusiasm, and safety.

Ski resorts have met this need by opening up their ski slopes and ski operations for night skiing and snowboarding. Ski resorts have taken advantage of this opportunity and have extensively marketed this unique aspect to skiing and snowboarding as a surreal experience, with an entirely different feel from skiing during the day, due to a fewer number of patrons, ambiance, mood, and the beautiful night views. However, night skiing and snowboarding present unique problems not present during daylight skiing and snowboarding. The most obvious problems are related to visibility. Most ski and snowboard areas, lighted for night skiing and snowboarding, do not use high intensity lighting because the glare reflecting from the snow would severely handicap the skier/snowboarder. Therefore, the low intensity lighting that is used creates dangerous shadows and dark areas upon the ski slope. On some ski slopes, these unlit areas may be very large. When a skier/snowboarder ventures into these areas, he or she may have his vision impaired. Other skiers will likewise have difficulty seeing patrons in these unlit areas. Many skiers further risk skiing on unlit slopes using only the natural light, such as moonlight. The potential dangers of night skiing/snowboarding are increased if a skier becomes separated from a group or takes the perilous risk of skiing/snowboarding alone. In the case of an emergency, locating such skiers/snowboarders, should they become lost or injured at night, is extremely difficult without the use of something to aid the searchers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention addresses the concerns that arise from night-time winter sports by illuminating the bindings of the ski or snowboard. This provides the night skier/snowboarder with a source of light, thereby increasing visibility for the skier/snowboarder and for others. The present invention thus allows the user to more readily identify hazards such as fallen trees, boulders, moguls, crevasses and other slower skiers or snowboarders to avoid collision and injury. If a user is caught in a blizzard or a snowstorm on the slopes where heavy snowfall has significantly impaired his or her judgment, the present invention can assist the user in judging his or her speed in relation to the objects that the user is passing.

The present invention further increases the visibility of the user on the ski slopes. Accordingly, other skiers or snowboarders, and particularly slower skiers and snowboarders can easily avoid a faster, more experienced skier with illuminated bindings. Additionally, the present invention further functions as an additional safety measure that can be relied on by emergency medical aid personnel to quickly locate and assist an immobile individual.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

The present invention is illustrated by way of example and not limitation in the figures of the accompanying drawings, in which like references indicate similar elements, and in which:

FIG. 1 depicts a side view of an embodiment of the present invention applied to the bindings of a snowboard.

FIG. 2 illustrates a rear view of one embodiment of the present invention as applied to the binding of a snowboard.

FIG. 3 depicts a side view of an embodiment of the present invention applied to a ski boot binding.

FIG. 4 illustrates a rear view of one embodiment of the present invention as applied to the binding of a ski.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides illuminating apparatuses for use on snowboard or ski bindings. The components of the preferred embodiment of the present invention include detachable light emitting sources, electrical tape or twist-on wire connector, Velcro®, a detachable power source, and a detachable receptor. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, bindings are illuminated by light emitting diodes (LEDs) coupled to a detachable power source. However, it is envisioned that instead of LEDs, solar powered lighting, fiber optics, filament-based, neon, halogen, or other gas-based, or any other light emitting source may be utilized, depending on the demands of the terrain and the desires of the user. Furthermore, the physical shape of the light source used in this embodiment can be of various sizes, colors, shapes, letters, or numbers. This stylistic feature can be utilized by members of a party or group since the color, size, shape, or other distinctive feature of the lighting may be modified to suit various needs. For example, a party of nighttime skiers/snowboarders celebrating a victory by a local team can use the team's colors as their lighting. In this way, each member of a group can be identified by other members of the group in the darkest of nights.

As illustrated in the drawings, various embodiments of the present invention may apply to either snowboard or skis. In FIG. 1, illuminating apparatuses 103 are shown to be inserted in snowboard bindings 121. FIG. 1 illustrates the snowboard bindings 121 as affixed on a snowboard 101. One will appreciate that the invention is shown on both left and right boot bindings 121. FIG. 1 further shows that the illuminating apparatuses 103 are shown to be connected to wires 105, which are further connected to a power source 110. The power source 110 is illustrated as being affixed to the snowboard binding 121, which is turn affixed to a snowboard 101. FIG. 2 illustrates a rear perspective of FIG. 1, where the power source and wiring are hidden, and all that are exposed are the illuminating apparatuses 103 affixed to snowboard bindings 121 atop snowboard 101. As shown in these exemplary depictions, the present invention is constructed so as to not impede the snowboard rider. One will appreciate that the Figures are merely exemplary of the various embodiments of the present invention and are not meant to be limiting in any fashion. Numerous other embodiments may be possible without departing from the disclosure herein or from the spirit of the invention.

For example, the illuminating aspect of the present invention is equally applicable to ski boot bindings. In FIG. 3, illuminating apparatuses 303 are affixed to ski boot bindings 321, which may be affixed to skis 301. FIG. 4 provides a rear view of an embodiment of the present invention, illustrating the illuminating apparatuses 303 inserted into ski boot bindings 321, which are affixed to a ski 301. Here, the power source and wiring as shown in FIG. 2 are hidden from external view in FIG. 4. One will appreciate that the location of the illuminating apparatuses may be situated in different portions of the ski or snowboard binding without departing from the spirit of the present invention.

Affixing the illuminating apparatuses to a ski or snowboard binding may be done using the following steps. An embodiment of the present invention is constructed by first drilling at least one hole on each side of the ski or snowboard binding. Alternatively, the bindings may come pre-drilled for ease of the user. Each hole correlates to the placement of the light source. In the preferred embodiment, four holes are drilled on the right side and the left side of the binding, but only two holes per side are used at any time due to the brightness that is given off by the illuminating apparatuses. For exemplary purposes, the illuminating apparatuses used in this embodiment is an LED. First, each LED is attached to two properly insulated wires comprising of a red wire and a black wire. Each LED is then firmly placed in the binding hole from the inside out, so that the LED rests in place. Next the two red wires and two black wires from the two LEDs from one side are carried under the padding beneath the boot rest and extended to the opposite side of the binding. Once all LED wiring is on one side of the binding, all black wires are intertwined together as one wire and all red wires are intertwined together as one wire. The intertwined black wire is then connected to the negative terminal of a female receptor and the intertwined red wire is connected to the positive terminal of a female receptor. The connection to the receptor is insulated with an appropriate connector to avoid seepage of melted snow or other foreign substances. Preferably, the connection to the receptor will be a waterproof connector such as those sold by DryConn®, though one skilled in the relevant art will appreciate that connections made by other manufacturers may be used as well. The female receptor is then plugged into the power source, which in the preferred embodiment is a 9 volt (“9V”) battery, causing the ski or snowboard binding to be illuminated.

The 9V battery is secured to the binding using Velcro® or any similar detachable binding method. The 9V battery is properly insulated using electrical tape to avoid the seepage of water, salt, or other liquids which could cause the electric connection to short circuit or corrode. It is envisioned that depending on the application, different types of insulation may be used. For example, the power source may be insulated using plastic, rubber, shrink-wrap polymer plastic material, or any other similar insulating material. It is further envisioned that in an alternative embodiment, the battery and wiring can be hidden underneath a waterproof, detachable plastic casing that is mounted directly and discreetly onto the binding. The casing can be designed to blend into the binding of the system.

In the preferred embodiment, the light sources are mounted on either side of the ski or snowboard binding. Alternatively, it is envisioned that the light sources may also be mounted to the front and/or rear of the bindings to act as a front headlight and rear light of the ski. This form of mounting would add to the catalog of safety features of the present embodiment.

It is foreseen that the present invention can be used with other applications to provide further precautionary measures. For example, global positioning system (GPS) tracking devices can be coupled to the binding along with the light sources so that in case of an emergency, the user can be easily and quickly located. It is also foreseen that the present invention can be incorporated into sleds, tubing, or equipment that can be used on ski slopes to further enhance nocturnal usability in a safe manner.

While the present invention has been described in terms of a preferred embodiment above, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that numerous modifications, substitutions and additions may be made to the disclosed embodiment without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. It is intended that all such modifications, substitutions and additions fall within the scope of the present invention. For example, although the preferred embodiment uses a 9V battery, any similar or alternative power source may be used. As further examples, for solar powered light sources, rechargeable batteries may be used, and the battery used for fiber optic lights may be at least 9V for proper illumination. Furthermore, in the preferred embodiment, the power source for the light source of the present invention is insulated and is coupled to the bindings. Alternatively, it is envisioned that the power source may be coupled to the actual ski, snowboard, boots, outerwear, and/or gear.