Title:
Harness for lighted sports article
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A harness (10) for illuminating a sports article (39) is provided. The harness (10) includes elongated means (11) of elastic material that can be releasably secured to an exterior surface of the sports article (39). The harness (10) further comprise transparent generally flat and planar members (22), transparent sections (18), holes (16) and passageways (36) to releasably secure a light source such as a chemi-luminescent light stick (23) and light emitting diodes (33).



Inventors:
Sullivan, Earl W. (Wall, NJ, US)
Application Number:
12/074690
Publication Date:
08/07/2008
Filing Date:
03/06/2008
Assignee:
Sullivan, Earl W.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
362/310, 473/570
International Classes:
A63B43/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WONG, STEVEN B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lyman H. Moulton III, Esq. (South Jordan, UT, US)
Claims:
1. A method for illuminating a sports article consisting of multiple specie types of attachment means comprising: an elastically moldable harness adapted to conform with the contour of a sports article, comprising elongated means to encompass said sports article in multiple directions, said elongated means comprising a generally flat and planar surface with opposed interior and exterior surfaces defining a wall there between comprising, in combination: a first attachment means comprising at least two holes through the wall of said elongated means along one of said directions, and light means adapted to be frictionally engaged by weaving through said holes, said light means adapted to be activated by bending, snapping and shaking; a second attachment means comprising at least one transparent section of said elongated means along one of said directions, and light means adapted to be frictionally engaged between said transparent section and said sports article, said light means adapted to be activated by bending, snapping and shaking; a third attachment means comprising at least one transparent generally flat and planar member within said elongated means along one of said directions, and a housing defining an interior closed to the ambient atmosphere within said transparent generally flat and planar member comprising at least one frangible divider and at least two compartments for separating a chemi-luminescent mixture of chemicals and fluorescent dyes, light means adapted to be activated by bending and snapping said frangible divider and allowing chemi-luminescent chemicals and fluorescent dyes to mix; a fourth attachment means comprising at least one transparent generally flat and planar member within said elongate means along one of said directions, and a housing of electro-luminescent material supported inside of said transparent generally flat and planar member, said electro-luminescent material comprising at least one battery, at least one light means, a switching means and a loop of conductive material connecting said battery, said light means and said switching means, light means adapted to be activated by said switching means; and a fifth attachment means comprising a translucent portion of said elongated means along one of said directions comprising a passageway within the wall of said elongated means, and a housing of material supported throughout said passageway comprising at least one battery, at least one lamp, a switching means and a loop of conductive material connecting said battery, said lamp and said switching means, light means adapted to be activated by said switching means.

2. A harness in accordance with claim 1, in which said harness comprising of a single specie attachment means for illuminating an article.

3. A harness in accordance with claim 1, wherein said switching means comprising a motion activated means.

4. A harness in accordance with claim 1, wherein said switching means is activated when the harness is in a stretched state.

5. A harness in accordance with claim 1, wherein said sports article is a ball

6. A harness in accordance with claim 1, wherein the elongated means comprises of an elastic material selected from the group consisting of a natural rubber, a synthetic rubber, elastic or an elastic textile.

7. A harness in accordance with claim 6, in which said elongated means vary in numerous sizes, shapes and colors.

8. A harness in accordance with claim 7, in which said elongated means comprises a quick release section.

9. A harness in accordance with claim 7, in which said elongated means further comprising at least two pockets spaced apart from one another and formed through the interior surface wall for stabilizing the ends of said light means.

10. A harness in accordance with claim 8, in which said quick release section comprises a hook and loop material, Velcro “trademark”.

11. A harness in accordance with claim 1, in which said light means varies in numerous sizes, shapes and colors.

12. A harness in accordance with claim 11, in which said light means is a mixture of chemi-luminescent chemicals and fluorescent dyes separately contained in a resilient housing and comprising of at least one frangible divider.

13. A harness in accordance with claim 11, in which said light means is a resilient housing comprising of at least one battery, at least one light emitting diode, a switching means and a loop of conductive material connecting said battery, said light emitting diodes and switching means.

14. A harness in accordance with claim 1, in which said transparent generally flat and planar members are resilient members comprising of a variety of sizes and shapes.

15. A harness in accordance with claim 14, where in said members further comprising an opening through the interior surface wall for replacing a light means.

16. A harness in accordance with claim 14, wherein said transparent generally flat and planar members comprise of at least two opposed ends which are connected to the ends of said elongated means.

17. A harness for the attachment of lights to a sports article comprising, in combination: an elastically moldable harness adapted to conform with the contour of a sports article, comprising elongated means to encompass said sports article in multiple directions, said elongated means comprising a generally flat and planar surface with opposed interior and exterior surfaces defining a wall there between; at least two holes through the wall of said elongated means along one of said directions; and a light stick adapted to be frictionally engaged by weaving through said holes, said light sticks adapted to be activated by bending, snapping and shaking.

18. A harness in accordance with claim 17, in which said elongated means further comprising at least two pockets, for receiving the ends of a light stick, spaced a part from one another and formed through the interior surface wall of said elongated means.

19. A harness in accordance with claim 17, wherein said sports article is a ball.

20. An illuminable transparent harness for releasable attachment to a sports article comprising, in combination: an elastically moldable harness adapted to conform with the contour of a sports article, comprising a translucent elongated means to encompass said sports article in multiple directions, said translucent elongated means comprising a generally flat and planar surface with opposed interior and exterior surfaces defining a wall there between; a passageway within said wall of said elongated means; and a housing of material supported within said passageway comprising at least one battery, at least one light emitting diode, a switching means and a loop of conductive material connecting said battery, said light emitting diodes and said switching means, light means adapted to be activated by said switching means.

21. A harness in accordance with claim 20, in which said switching means comprises an inertia switch shifting between first and second states of conductivity in response to the movement of said harness, and a time delay switching means being energized to close the circuit between said battery and said light emitting diode for any given period of time whenever said inertia switch shifts from the first to the second state of conductivity.

22. A harness in accordance with claim 21, in which said light emitting diode is connected to at least one light emitting optical fiber.

23. A harness in accordance with claim 20, wherein said sports article is a ball.

Description:

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/498/183, filed Jun. 7, 2004.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a lighted sport article. More specifically, the present invention relates to a harness for securely maintaining a light to a sports article, for example, a recreational ball.

BACKGROUND OF RELATED TECHNOLOGY

Sport articles, such as balls, rackets and the like, have been illuminated for recreational play during dark hours of the evening or nighttime. Illuminated sports articles, however, are often specifically designed and manufactured to provide such lighted articles. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,186,458 describes a ball made of translucent material having a light source positioned within the ball. When the light source is activated, the ball is illuminated via its translucent material of construction. The ball, however, is made of two releasable halves which connect to activate the light source and to form the playing shape of the ball.

Other designs have included a light source within a ball without having to assemble or disassemble the ball itself for example; U.S. Pat. No. 4,479,649 describes an inflatable play ball having a preformed interior passage for receiving a light source, such as a light stick. The ball, however, must be deflated for placing the light source therein and must be subsequently inflated to hold the light source within the ball during use of the ball. Alternatively, to inflating and deflating a ball, U.S. Pat. No. 4,002,893 describes the press-fitting of a light source within a hollow passageway of the ball. Moreover, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,776,587 and 5,066,012 describe a ball having a hollow passageway for holding a light source. The passageway for the ball is covered by a cap or collar after the light source is placed with the passageway.

These illuminated sports balls, however, require specially designed articles or hollow passageways with such articles for holding their light source. Such designs complicate the design and increase the cost for manufacturing an illuminated sports ball.

To avoid making hollow passageways within sports articles, exterior portions of sports articles have been altered to provide securement light sources. Grooves on exterior surfaces of sports balls and croquet mallets have been described respectively in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,683,316 and 5,370,390. Clips for holding lights have been molded to exterior surfaces of toys, for example a flying saucer toy in U.S. Pat. No. 4,086,723. Moreover, lights have been screwed onto sports articles, for example roller skates in U.S. Pat. No. 5,855,382. All of these techniques, however, require modification of a sports article's surface or a surface adapted for securely receiving screws or the like for holding a light source.

To avoid specially designed sports articles, a harness for holding a light stick around a sports ball has been described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,979,751. The harness, however, requires hollow tubular members for holding light sticks. Such hollow tubular members make the harness bulky and also limit the type and size of light stick useful to one that can be releasably secured within the hollow tubular members.

Thus, there is a need in the art for a device for illuminating a sports article without the disadvantages of the prior art. More particularly, there is a need for a device for illuminating a sports article that does not require modification of the sports article itself and one that is not bulky.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a harness for releasably securing a variety of light sources around a sports article. The harness includes a variety of attachment means comprising of elastically resilient material. The harness is capable of being securely fitted over an exterior surface of a sports article by stretching the harness and slipping onto the article.

The harness of the present invention includes an elongated means comprising of at least one elastic elongate member. This member is a generally flat planar strip which forms the harness. In one embodiment, the elongate member is molded into a one piece harness comprising of multiple holes through the wall of the member. Portions of the member proximal to the hole are configured to frictionally engage a light stick and secure the light stick to the harness. The harness is capable of snugly fitting over a sports article. Portions of the light stick are thereby engaged between the interior of the harness and the exterior of the sports article to securely hold the light stick in place during use of the sports article. Upon activation of the light sticks, the article becomes illuminated.

The harness of the present invention may have a plurality of holes in the elongate member for securably holding a light source. Desirably, the elongate members of the present invention have at least four holes for securably holding the light source.

In one aspect of the present invention, a harness for attachment of lights to a sports article is provided. The harness includes, but is not limited to, an elastic elongate member that does not have any holes through the wall, but instead the elastic elongate member connects directly to at least one transparent generally flat and planar member. A transparent generally flat and planar member comprises opposed interior and exterior surfaces defining a wall there between and opposed ends. Each of these members has a housing defining an interior closed to the ambient atmosphere, comprising at least one frangible divider and at least two compartments for separating a chemi-luminescent mixture of chemicals and fluorescent dyes, the light means adapted to be activated by bending and snapping said frangible divider and allowing chemi-luminescent chemicals and fluorescent dyes to mix. These members can additionally include an opening through the interior wall for replacing a light source. The opening preferably would be a split through the wall and of a size big enough for replacing the glow stick. Additionally, a battery powered glow stick would also be usable. Desirably, the elongate member and the transparent generally flat and planar members have elasticity to releasably secure the harness over an external surface of the article.

The harness of the present invention may further include two pockets for stabilizing the ends of the light source. A pocket is molded through the interior surface wall of the elongate member.

Moreover, the harness of the present invention may include elongate members that have an elastic portion. The elastic portion or, alternatively, the elastic members themselves may be made from elastic material selected from the group consisting of natural rubbers, synthetic rubbers, elastic plastics or elastic textiles. The use of elastic materials facilitates the securement of the harness over the sports article and further facilitates the securement of the light source to the elongate members.

The harness of the present invention may further include a light source capable of releasable securement to the harness by frictional engagement between a transparent section and sports article, a transparent section can be of a material that is transparent or translucent, additionally the transparent section is the elongated member itself and can include two pockets for stabilizing the ends of a light stick. Desirably, the light source is a chemi-luminescent light stick, but other light sources may suitably be used. For example, an electroluminescent, battery-operated light stick or an incandescent, battery-operated light stick is useful with the practice of the present invention. The harness of the present invention may further include a battery securing portion.

Sports articles that may be illuminated with the harness of the present invention include, but are not limited to, a play toy or a ball.

In another aspect of the present invention, an illuminated play toy is provided. The play toy has an exterior surface for securement of the inventive harness thereto. An elastic harness for covering a portion of the exterior surface of the play toy and for releasably attaching the harness to the play toy is also provided. The elastic harness includes, but is not limited to, (1) at least two elongate members molded to form a one piece harness member, the member having opposed interior and exterior surfaces defining a wall there between, the member having at least two holes through the wall, a hole being of a size to securely hold a light source, wherein one of the surfaces is a substantially planar surface; and (2) a light stick securely attached by weaving through the holes. The play toy may be, but is not limited to, a sport article or a ball. The present invention is not limited to any particular type of light stick, and a chemi-luminescent light stick, an electro-luminescent light stick or an incandescent light stick may suitably be used.

In yet another aspect of the present invention, a method for illuminating a ball is provided. The method includes, but is not limited to, the steps of (1) forming an elastically deformable harness having resilient elongate members; (2) providing a plurality holes through the elongate members of the harness; (3) providing light stick for securement to the harness; (4) weaving the light stick through the holes to secure the light stick to the harness; (5) providing two pockets opposite each other on the interior surface of the elongated member for stabilizing the ends of the light stick; and (5) placing the harness over an exterior surface of the ball to releasably secure the harness to the ball.

In yet another aspect of the present invention, a harness for illuminating a sports article includes, but is not limited to, elastic, light-emitting elongate members securely attached to one and the other to form a harness, wherein the harness is releasably slideable over the article. The elastic, light emitting members may further include light sources interconnected to elastic harness portions. Moreover, the elastic, light-emitting members desirably include elastic, light sources. The elastic, light-emitting members may also include replaceable light sources, which may be refillable with light emitting devices or chemicals.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a top view of an elongated member of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of a harness of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the harness of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a portion of the harness of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is an illustration of a light stick secured to a portion of the harness of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is an illustration of a portion of the harness having a pocket for stabilizing the end of a light stick.

FIG. 7 is an illustration of another aspect of the present invention showing a portion of a translucent generally flat and planar member and a chemical light means within the housing of the member.

FIG. 8 is bottom view showing an opening for replacing a light source and a side view of a transparent generally flat and planar member.

FIG. 9A is an illustration showing breakable beads as the light means within the housing of the transparent generally flat and planar member of FIG. 7

FIG. 9B is a closer view as depicted in FIG. 9A showing a breakable bead, with a frangible divider, housing one part of a chemical luminescent mix.

FIG. 10 is a cross-section view of a glow stick wedged between a transparent section and a ball.

FIG. 11A is a perspective view of another aspect of the harness of the present invention.

FIG. 11B is an illustration of FIG. 11A showing a portion of the elongated member comprising diodes.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of another aspect of the harness of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a harness around a football with electrical light sticks weaved through the holes.

FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view of a portion of FIG. 13 showing the elongate member with feathered edges adapting to the contour of the football.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention is a harness 10 for releasably securing several types of illuminating light sources to a sports article 39, such as a ball. The harness 10 has a variety of ways to attach different types of lights. The main structure of the harness is the elongated means 11 which are generally flat and planar rubber members. The elongated means 11 are molded to form a one piece harness 10 but, additionally a harness holding multiple light sources may require several elongated members 11 in order to secure the light sources. The elongated means 11 can secure a light source by up to four different attachment means. A first attachment means is to connect the ends of a translucent generally flat and planar member 22 to the ends of the elongated means 11 by injection molding them together or by using a quick release means comprising of a hook and loop locking material, snaps or buttons. A second attachment means is to provide holes 16 through the wall of the elongated means 11 for securing a light source by weaving the light source through the holes 16. A third attachment means is to include a housing or passageway 36 within the wall of the elongated means 11 for supporting a light source, and a fourth attachment means is a light source wedged between a transparent section 18 of the elongated means 11 and sports article 39. The elongate means 11 also have elasticity to allow the harness 10 to be stretched and securely fitted over the sports article 39.

The harness of the present invention does not require all the attachment methods, as stated in paragraph [0034], in order to work. For example, one preferred embodiment of the present invention is a rubber harness 10 as shown in FIG. 2 and in FIG. 3, consisting of 24 holes spaced apart on four opposed sides which is capable of holding up to four glow sticks around a basketball. The one piece rubber harness is formed by a process of using an injection mold. Each side consisting of six holes spaced apart and a glow stick is used to weave through the holes. Additionally, the harness 10 of the present invention is not limited to holding only four lights.

Another preferred embodiment of the present invention is a rubber harness that holds four transparent generally flat and planar members around a translucent volleyball. The harness is formed by injection molding the ends of a transparent generally flat and planar member to the ends of the elongated means 11. When the harness is stretched around a ball it would have four opposed sides equally around the ball as to not throw the balance off. A harness holding three lights, five light or six lights would work just as well as long as they are equally spaced around the ball. The light sources can be replaceable with an optional opening in the transparent generally flat and planar member. Additionally, the transparent generally flat and planar members can house a chemi-luminescent light means 23 or an electro-luminescent light means 34.

Another preferred embodiment of the present invention is a translucent or transparent resilient harness that holds a light source within its own walls. The harness is formed by injection molding a passageway within the wall and the passageway can run along the entire elongated means of the harness. The passageway supports a housing of material comprising of at least one battery, a bunch of diodes, a switching means and a loop of conductive material connecting them all together. Additionally, optical fibers can be connected to the diodes for additional light effects. The switching means is activated by movement and, may include an execceloro meter or an inertia switch, both are activated by the shifting of first and second states of conductivity in response to the movement of the harness. A time delay is also used to automatically shut off the lights to extend the life of the battery, additionally, the harness may include an opening for replacing a battery. The harness may optionally house chemi-luminescent light means 23 within the passageway in addition to the electro-luminescent light means 34 or the harness can comprise of only a chemi-luminescent light means 23 which can also be replaceable.

Another preferred embodiment of the present invention is a harness comprising a switching means that activates a power source when stretched around a sports article. The switching means is activated by stretching a portion of the elongated means causing contact points to make contact (or vise versa), when the harness is in a stretched state, the light source would turn on and when the harness returns to its regular state, the light source would turn off. Additionally, the switching means can be activated by a on and off button.

Sports articles that can be illuminated with the harness of the present invention, include, but are not limited to, any size or shape ball, such as a basketball, football, volleyball, dodge ball, kick ball, play ground ball, beach ball, soft ball, soccer ball, wiffle ball, tennis ball, croquet balls, and the like, and sports articles, such as a basketball rim, football goal posts, soccer ball goals, Frisbee, a tennis racket, horse shoes, a baseball bat, a wiffle ball bat, volleyball net, horse shoe poles and the like. The illuminating harness may also be used on the players to distinguish the different team members. In addition, the illuminating harness can also be used as a safety device, such as providing illumination to joggers, bicycles, sports shoes, helmets and the like. The harness is useful with any sports article where illumination for safety, play or appearance is desired.

FIG. 1 depicts a top view showing a portion of the harness of the present invention. The ends 40 of the elongate member 11 are used for connecting to transparent generally flat and planar members 22, transparent sections 18 and/or quick release attachment means 38.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the harness 10 of the present invention. This preferred embodiment is manufactured into a one piece rubber harness 10 by injection mold. The elongated means 11 has four opposed sides with each side comprising of 6 holes 16 for frictionally engaging a light stick. The harness 10 is stretched around a sports article 39 such as a ball and the glow sticks are weaved through the holes.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of FIG. 2 additionally showing a round sports article 39 as a ball. In this view you can see the interior 12 and exterior 15 surfaces of the elongated means 11.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an exterior 15 portion of the elongated means 11 that forms a harness, the portion shows a wall 14 and a hole 16 through the wall 14 used for weaving a light stick through.

FIG. 5 is a side view of a portion of the elongated means 11 that depicts a light stick as a chemi-luminescent light means 23 releasably secured to the elongate means 11, the light stick is slipped or weaved or otherwise placed through the holes 16 of the elongated means 11, portions of the elongated means 11 frictionally engage portions of the light stick to releasably secure the light stick to the elongated means 11 furthermore, when the harness is placed over an article, such as a ball, the light stick is further secured between an exterior surface of a sports article and an interior surface 12 of the elongated means 11. This view also shows the exterior surface 15 of the elongated means 11 and the wall 14 that comprises the holes 16.

FIG. 6 is a side view of a portion of the elongated means 11 with an interior surface 12 and an exterior surface 15 showing a glow stick woven through a hole 16 and inserted into a pocket 20. The pocket is formed through the elongated means 11 interior surface 12 wall and is used for stabilizing the end of the glow stick.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of a portion of a transparent generally flat and planar member 22 comprising of an interior surface 12 and an exterior surface 15 defining a wall 14 in between, the wall 14 comprising of a housing 24 for supporting a chemi-luminescent light means 23, a chemi-luminescent light means 23 comprising of a mixture of chemicals and dyes separated by a frangible divider 25 additionally, the transparent generally flat and planar member 22 can also house a electro-luminescent light means 34.

FIG. 8 is a bottom and side view of a transparent generally flat and planar member 22 connected to a portion of the elongated means 11, the elongated means 11 is connected to the transparent generally flat and planar member 22 by molding the ends 40 together additionally, an opening 29 is provided for replacing a chemi-luminescent light means 23 or a electro-luminescent light means 34.

FIG. 9A is a cross-section view of a transparent generally flat and planar member 22 comprising of a housing 24 filled with a chemi-luminescent light means 23 in the form of breakable beads and, FIG. 9B is a close up view of one of the beads comprising a frangible divider 25 filled with one part of a chemi-luminescent light means 23.

FIG. 10 is a cross-section view of a transparent section 18 of an elongated means 11 showing a feathered edge 41, a glow stick is wedged between the sports article 39 and the transparent section 18.

FIG. 11A is a perspective view of a harness of the present invention sporting a variety of attachment means, for multiple combinations of light effects, when the harness is attached to a sports article 39 such as a ball and used in the dark. The possible combinations are not limited to including all the attachment means together on one harness, for example, a harness comprising of any one attachment means or a harness comprising of any two attachment means or so on would have its own unique light effect. The harness of FIG. 11A includes all the attachment means, including a round transparent generally flat and planar member 22, comprising of a electro-luminescent light means 34 consisting of light emitting diodes 33, an elongated transparent generally flat and planar member 22 comprising of a chemi-luminescent light means 23 is also used in this harness. The transparent section 18 attachment means is shown with a glow stick as the chemi-luminescent light means 23 inserted in the pockets 20, an attachment means comprising of holes 16 is used for weaving a light stick and, a portion of the harness comprising of a passageway 36 is used for the attachment of an electro-luminescent light means 34 attached to a light emitting optical fiber 35.

FIG. 11B is a perspective view of a portion of a transparent generally flat and planar member 22 containing an electro-luminescent light means 34 with light emitting diodes 33.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the harness 10 of the present invention comprising of an elongated means 11 with passageways 36 supporting an electro-luminescent light means 34, light emitting diodes 33 are used in this configuration.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the harness 10 around a football comprising an electro-luminescent light means 34 with a housing of light emitting diodes 33 that are weaved through the holes 16 of the elongated means 11.

FIG. 14 is a cross-section view of XIV in FIG. 13 demonstrating a glow stick housing of light emitting diodes 33 and, FIG. 14 also demonstrates the elongated means 11 having feathered edges 41.

The present invention is not limited to any specific type of light stick for example, in one aspect of the present invention the light stick may be a chemi-luminescent light means 23. A chemi-luminescent light means 23 typically contain liquid chemicals separated by a frangible divider 25. A typical chemi-luminescent light means 23 holds a hydrogen peroxide solution in one section and a phenyl oxalate ester solution and a fluorescent dye in another section. When the chemicals co-mingle, upon breaking of the frangible divider 25, a chemical reaction between the chemicals produce light. Examples of such light sticks are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,597,362 and 3,539,794, whose contents are incorporated herein by reference. These light sticks may be activated by bending, snapping and shaking the light stick as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,979,751, whose contents are incorporated herein by reference. Chemi-luminescent light sticks are also commercially available from, for example, from Omniglow Corporation, W. Springfield, Mass.

Electro-luminescent light means 34 are also useful with the practice of the present invention. Electro-luminescent light sticks or lamps consist of a dielectric layer and a light-emitting phosphor layer sandwiched between two conductive surfaces. An electric field is generated across the phosphor and dielectric layers thereby exciting electrons which emit light as they return to their ground state. Electro-luminescent lights may be powered by direct current through use of an AC-DC converter. Both the converter and the power source can be miniaturized by use, for example, solid state electronics and lithium batteries. Electro chemical light sticks are commercially available from Kriana Corp., Alpine, Calif.

As depicted in FIG. 11B, the harness 10 of the present invention may include a electro-luminescent light means 34 consisting of a battery, an AC-DC converter and an electro-luminescent light stick. Alternatively, in another aspect of the present invention as depicted in FIG. 11A, the harness 10 may include a light source, an optical fiber 35 for transmitting light from the light source, and a transparent member 22. The member 22 may be translucent plastic tubing or strips, or may be a fiber optic cable for transmitting light from the light source. The light source may be a chemi-luminescent, electro-luminescent or an incandescent light source.

The harness 10, including elongate members 11 may suitably be constructed of elastic materials. Such elastic materials include, but are not limited to, natural rubber and synthetic rubber or plastics, such as polyisoprene polymers, polybutadiene polymers, copolymers of dienes and hydrocarbons or amorphous (non-crystalline) polyolefins, and copolymers of acrylonitrile and a diene, such as butadiene. These elastic materials may be molded to form portions of the harness 10 of the present invention. Alternatively, portions of the harness 10 may be a textile that is woven, braided or knitted from an elastomeric fiber, such as Spandex®.

The harness 10 of the present invention may be a unitary structure, i.e., a unitary molded structure. Alternatively, the elongate members 11 and the transparent generally flat and planar members 22 may be securely attached by other means, such as, but not limited to, adhesively bonded, mechanically bonded, such as riveted and the like, or heat bonded to form the harness 10 of the present invention. Moreover, some or all of the transparent generally flat and planar members 22 and the elongate members 11 may be releasably attached to one and the other. For example, members may be mechanically attached in a releasable manner, such as through the use of Velcro securement, snaps, ties and the like. Furthermore, portions of the harness 10, such as portions of the elongate members 11, may also have adhesive, for example, two-sided adhesive tape, to further secure the harness 10 to an exterior surface of a sports article.

A perspective view of the harness 10 is depicted in FIG. 3. As depicted in FIG. 3, the harness 10 maybe capable of achieving a generally spherical shape for securement over a ball. The harness 10 need not be self-supporting, but only needs to be capable of securement over a ball and maintaining a generally spherical shape thereover. If the ball is not spherical, for example a football, the harness 10 need not be capable of achieving a spherical shape, but rather is capable of achieving a shape that generally conforms to the external profile of the ball. The elastic elongate members 11 are generally configured as elongate strips having at least one substantially planar surface. Such elongate members exhibit a low profile such that the harness 10 does not substantially interfere with the intended use of the ball. Additionally, the elongate members 11 exhibit feathered edges 41 to maintain a low profile around a ball.

Desirably, the harness 10 is sized to be slightly smaller than the exterior portion of the ball or article over which it is to be placed. For example, the exterior portion of a standard college basketball has a diameter of approximately 9.5 inches. The harness 10 of FIG. 3 may have a spherical diameter of about 8.3 inches, which is about five percent smaller than the diameter of the ball. In such a manner, the harness 10 may be securely placed over the ball by stretching the elongated means 11 and sliding the harness 10 over the ball. The degree of undersizing the harness for securement over an article object, however, is not limited to such a five percent undersizing. An undersizing of twenty-five percent of less is useful with the practice of the present invention. Desirably, an undersizing from one to twenty percent is useful with the practice of the present invention. Other undersizings, such as 1 to 15%, 1 to 10%, 5 to 10%, 15 to 20% and 1 to 5% may suitably be used. The degree of undersizing depends, in part, on the elastic nature, i.e., stretchability, of the harness and shape of the article over which the harness is to be placed.

In yet another aspect of the present invention, the harness of the present invention may be capable of securely holding the light stick against the sports article. As depicted in FIG. 10, the elongated means 11 is elastically deformable to secure a light stick to the exterior surface of a sports article 39. In this aspect of the present invention, the elongated means 11 or a portion thereof may be made from a translucent or transparent material which allows light from the light source to be visible.

Although the present invention has been described with the use of tubular light sticks, the present invention is not so limited. Other shaped light sources may suitable be used. For example, a generally flat and planar light source would also be useful with the practice of the present invention. Such a flat light source may provide an overall lower profile to the lighted harness 10 of the present invention and maybe secured to the harness by any of the above-described techniques. Moreover, the shape of the light source is not limited to an elongate shape, such as a light stick, but could have greater breadth or width than an elongate light stick.

Shapes having greater dimensional breadths or widths include, but are not limited to, shapes such as circles, disks, squares, rectangles, elliptical shape, irregular geometric shapes, and the like. Such wider shapes also have the advantage of illuminating a greater amount of light per unit length as compared to thin elongate shapes. Such shape could also have an adhesive containing side for securement purposes.

Furthermore, the light sources may also be used, in part, to interconnect portions of the harness of the present invention. For example, as depicted in FIG. 11A, a light source may connect to the ends 40 of an elongate member 11. The light source may be connected to the harness members by any of the above-described connecting means. Desirably, such light sources are snap-fitted, such as frictional engagements between the harness member 11 and the sports article 39 via a connecting member such as through the use of Velcro.

Still furthermore, the elongated means 11 of the present invention or portions of the elongated means 11 of the present invention may be made from transparent or translucent elastic materials such as clear or partially clear elastic plastics or polymers. Such transparent or translucent elastic materials desirably contain a light source therein, In this aspect of the present invention, the harness or portions of the harness also act as the illuminating source. Such a harness or portions of the harness may be a single-use light source. Alternatively, multi-use elastic light sources may be suitable be used. In such a case, the light source within the elastic harness or elastic harness portion may be refilled with chemi-luminescent chemicals and fluorescent dyes or refilled with devices containing the same. For example, the chemi-luminescent chemicals and fluorescent dyes may be separately contained in small breakable beads or the like which could be placed within the housing or passageway of the elastic harness or elastic harness portions.

Moreover, the low profile of the present invention may allow a user to better grip a sports article over which the harness has been placed. For example, the harness of the present invention may allow one to better grip a basketball over which the inventive harness has been placed. In such a case, the harness of the present invention may be one as described in conjunction FIG. 10, where the light stick is securely held between the harness and the ball. Desirably, such a harness has transparent or translucent portions for emitting light therethrough.

Furthermore, the harness of the present invention may be used to attach or secure other items in addition to the above-described light sources. For example, decorative streamers or sound-emitting whistles could also be suitably attached to the harness.

Furthermore, the harness of the present invention may include a color of a glow in the dark material which is added to the elongated means. The ingredients of the color comprise a phosphor of zinc sulfide or strontium aluminate which is mixed together with the material used for the elongated means. The harness glows after placing it in front of a light to energize for several minutes.

The invention being thus described, it will be clear to those persons of skill in the art that the same may be varied in many ways. Such variations are not to be regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the invention and all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the claims.





 
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