Title:
Stabalising & locking drinking device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A stabilising drinking device, including a handle (21) attached within a set range of points to an outer ring (20) that pivots about a middle ring (30) that orthogonally pivots about a cradle (40) within which a cup (50) resides, and all parts made at such dimensions to enable the mechanism to lock when the handle is sufficiently turned to pour drinks into users' mouths.



Inventors:
Peacock, Christopher James (London, GB)
Application Number:
12/215056
Publication Date:
03/26/2009
Filing Date:
06/26/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/703
International Classes:
B65D85/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
POOS, MADISON LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MR. CHRISTOPHER JAMES PEACOCK (LONDON, GB)
Claims:
1. A mechanism for holding a vessel, e.g. a drinking vessel, comprising an outer ring supporting within it a middle ring and an inner ring, each of which is configured to pivot about an axis and that together form a pair of gimbals, wherein the inner ring is configured to hold the drinking vessel wherein the outer ring has a handle or indicia indicating where the outer ring should be grasped so that the mechanism has a tipping axis about which the outer ring is tipped by rotating the forearm of a user holding the mechanism by the handle or at the indicia, wherein the tipping axis is not aligned with the pivoting axis of either the middle ring or the inner ring, whereby, on tipping the outer ring about the tipping axis, (a) a vessel held by the inner ring or (b) an element that is attached to the inner ring and that extends above or below the inner ring is brought into engagement with both the middle ring and the outer ring, thereby causing the vessel or the said element to tip with the outer ring.

2. A mechanism as claimed in claim 1, which has a handle and wherein the tipping axis lies substantially along the diameter of the inner gimbal and passes though the handle.

3. A mechanism as claimed in claim 1, which has indicia on opposed sides of the outer ring indicating where the outer ring should be grasped and wherein the tipping axis lies approximately at right angle to a line joining the indicia.

4. A mechanism as claimed in claim 1, wherein the tipping axis lies at an angle β of 10° to 80° to each of the pivoting axes of the inner and the middle rings.

5. A mechanism as claimed in claim 4, wherein the angle β is in the range 20° to 70°, e.g. 30° to 60°, such as approximately about 45°.

6. A mechanism as claimed in claim 1, which includes a cradle attached to the inner ring for holding a vessel, which cradle extends below the inner ring, and wherein, on tipping the outer ring about the tipping axis, each of the middle ring and the outer ring are engaged by the cradle or a vessel held by the cradle, thereby causing the cradle to tip with the outer ring.

7. A mechanism as claimed in claim 1, wherein the arrangement is such that a cylindrical vessel having a diameter equal to the internal diameter of the inner ring or the said element attached to the inner ring is brought into engagement with both the middle ring and the outer ring when the outer ring has been tipped about the tipping axis by an angle greater than a threshold angle α that is at least 10°, e.g. at least 20° and optionally about 30°.

8. A mechanism as claimed in claim 1, wherein adjacent rings are connected by means of arms on one ring engaging in holes in the adjacent ring.

9. A mechanism as claimed in any claim 8, wherein projections are provided on the ends of the arms and the holes have corresponding recesses so that the arms with their projections can pushed into the holes to assemble the mechanism but in use the projections are not in register with the recesses.

10. A mechanism as claimed in any claim 8, wherein the part of each arm that contacts its adjacent ring is a sharp edge.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a mechanism for holding a cup in such a way as to enable people with the neurological disorder of tremor to hold the cup while reducing the risk of spilling a drink from the cup.

2. Background of the Invention

Tremor is the uncontrollable rhythmic shaking of limbs. All humans experience a slight tremor, which can be seen, for instance, when hands are put out and this is called Physiological tremor. However, at least 1 in 50 people experience Pathological tremor which is tremor of inappropriate size that may interfere with normal functioning or be a ‘cosmetic nuisance’. Tremor can be a common symptom of a neurological disease and may also be due to trauma, tumor, stroke or degenerative disease such as Parkinsons Disease or Essential Tremor. Tremor can affect many parts of the body, but most often it affects the hands. Holding a cup, for example, exagerates the tremor and usually manifests itself in an oscillating twisting of the forearm. This causes drinks to spill resulting in scolding, pain, dirtying of clothes, frustration and embarrassment.

Sufferers of tremor currently use straws which result in burning of the mouth for hot beverages, and cups with lids, which are difficult to bring to the lips due to the cups oscillating motion caused by the tremor. These are no adequately suited for this activity of daily living.

3. Description of Prior Art

Cup holders using gimbals to stablise cups are known in the prior art, however, they do not provide a gimbal mechanism (a) that enables cups to remain stabilised when held or when brought to the mouth through free space and (b) that subsequently locks the cup relative to the holder by simply tilting the mechanism, thereby enabling a user to tip the contents of the cup into his/her mouth. In summary, the prior art focuses on stabilising cups at a time when they are not being held by the user and fails to solve the problem being addressed by this invention.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,437,636, issued to Anthory Mazzurco & Richard L. Miller on Mar. 20, 1984, discloses a Self-Orientating Fluid Container Device which includes a handle and a pair of gimbals that stabilise the cup when resting on a surface. It also includes a locking mechanism that locks the gimbals when the device is lifted vertically by the handle, i.e. when a user wants to drink from a cup, he/she lifts the handle at a 0 degrees tilt to the vertical, which locks the gimbal to allow drinking. Unlike the present invention, the invention of the '636 patent only stabilises the cup when it rests on a surface and locks the mechanism only at 0 degree tilt. The handle is also situated along the axis of the outer ring gimbal.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,819,843, issued to Hiromichi Nakayama on Apr. 11, 1989, discloses a Drink Container Holder which includes a mounting ring having a gimbal structure within it with a middle ring and a cradle. The mounting ring can be attached to a vehicle so that the drink does not spill from the container due to movement of the vehicle, e.g. when it travels over bumps. To drink from the container, the user simply lifts the container completely out from the holder and tips it into his/her mouth. The device can not be lifted to drink from, it has no handle, and the attachment between the mounting ring and the vehicle lies along one of the gimbal axes; finally, it does not include a locking mechanism for restricting the movement of the gimbals.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,340,006, issued to Tianhou Li on Aug. 23, 1994, discloses a Head-Supported Cup Holder which includes apparatus strapped to the user's head that supports a middle ring and an inner ring acting as a drink holder. Unlike the present invention, the invention of the '006 patent allows the cup to turn 360 degrees towards the user, which would cause the drink the spill if used by a person with a tremor to drink from and also would cause much discomfort to the user. It has no handle and has no lock to enable pouring.

The following patent documents pertaining to cup holders with gimbals don't include handles to hold the device and all fail to lock the cup in both degrees of freedom for pouring into the mouth. Even when they have shafts for holding the gimbal mechanism, and even if such shafts were used as handles, they would not operate in the same way as the present invention because the shafts are aligned with one of the gimbal axes. These patents are U.S. Pat. No. 2003/0,197,104, which issued to Randy Heybl & Brett Keshtkar on Oct. 23, 2003 and discloses a Gimballed and Adjustable Beverage Holder; U.S. Pat. No. 5,664,718, which issued to Michael P. Vine on Sep. 9, 2007 and discloses a Drink Holder; U.S. Pat. No. 5,489,055, which issued to Dror Levy on Feb. 6, 1996 and discloses a Cup Holder for Automobile.

None of the above inventions and patents, take either singly or in combination, is seen to describe the instant invention as claimed. Their respective defects as mentioned above are overcome by our invention as described forthwith.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention discloses a mechanism for holding a cup in such a way that the cup is stabilised using gravity when held in mid-air and locks when the mechanism is tilted beyond a particular angle to enable pouring (e.g. drinking) from the cup.

One embodiment according to the present invention, comprises an outer ring, which may incorporate a handle on the external face, a middle ring and an inner ring for holding a cup. The rings need not be circular and need not form a closed loop. The rings may be connected by means of arms on one ring engaging in holes in the adjacent ring. In one arrangement, the outer and inner rings each includes a pair of arms extending towards the middle ring and the middle ring includes corresponding holes for receiving the arms and forming a gimbal mechanism. The two arms connecting the outer ring to the middle ring are situated opposite to each other and are not aligned with or orthogonal to the handle or indicia indicating where to grasp the outer ring. The arms connecting the middle ring to the inner ring may be orthogonal to the arms connecting the middle and the outer rings. This arrangement creates a two-axis gimbal and uses gravity to keep the cup upright.

To stop the arms coming out of the holes in use, projections may be provided on the ends of the arms and the holes may have corresponding openings so that the arms with their projections can be pushed into the holes to assemble the mechanism but in use the projections are not in register with the openings so that the mechanism does not fall apart. Such an arrangement enables the device to be assembled by a simple process, without the need for glue. When the cup enters the cradle it tensions the mechanism in place, so that the device can not be dismantled when in use.

In the above mechanism, the arms support one of the rings and allow it to pivot. The part of each arm supporting the other ring may have a knife like profile to maintain a low coefficient of friction between the two rings.

The outer ring is free to move in relation to the gimbal mechanism and the vessel supported by it until it reaches a limit set by the dimensions of the rings and the diameter of the vessel, which causes the middle ring and the outer ring to push against the vessel and cause it to tip, thus allowing a user to pour its contents into the his/her mouth.

Another embodiment of the devise according to the present invention is particularly suitable for holding wine glasses instead of normal sized cups. It comprises of an outer ring with no handle but indications of where to hold between the thumb and the fingers. This is connected in the same way to the middle ring which in turn connects with an inner ring. The inner ring is shaped as such to hold a wine glass.

The present invention also provides a mechanism as described herein which includes a vessel that is either integral with the inner ring or separable from the inner ring.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the present invention

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the device in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top view of the device in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a side view of the device in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a top view of the device in FIG. 1 when the handle has been tilted to cause the outer ring and middle ring to push against the vessel in order to pour the contents in the user's mouth;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of the present invention;

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIGS. 1-5 show one embodiment of the device 10 in accordance with the present invention which is arranged for holding a standard sized tumbler. The device according to the present invention can be arranged for use with many varieties of cup sizes and shapes.

The device 10 comprises an outer ring 20, a middle ring 30, a cradle 40 and a cup 50. The device is held in the hand of the user by the handle 21 and liquid for drinking resides in the cup 50.

The middle ring 30 is attached to the outer ring 20 by positioning the outer ring 20 orthogonally to the middle ring 30, then pushing notch 26, which is attached to the arm 22 which in turn is attached to the inner face of the outer ring 20, through the appropriately shaped hole 34 in the middle ring 30. The middle ring 30 is then moved further down the arm 22 so that the hole 33, on the opposite side of the middle ring 30 to hole 34, can be pushed over the notch 27 and along the arm 23, until the external face of the middle ring 30 is equal distance from the outer ring 20. The middle ring 30 is then rotated 90 degrees to lock it on the arms 22 and 23 of the outer ring 20. In turn, the notches 26 and 27 prevent the middle ring 30 from coming away from the outer ring 20. If so desired, the order of assembly could be reversed so that the notch 27 instead of the notch 26 of the outer ring 20 can be first pushed through the holes 33 or 34 of the middle ring 30, as desired.

The arms 22 and 23 are designed such that there is a knife like profile pointing upwards. This connects with an arched shape groove in holes 33 and 34. These holes, like holes 35 and 32 are designed so that the arms 22, 23, 45 and 44 have minimal contact with the middle ring, are allowed to move by an angle of at least a on both directions, are shaped to prevent the notches 26, 27, 46 and 47 from coming through the holes when the cup 50 is inside the device. To provide additional structural strength there is more material above the holes 33 and 34 as gravity pulls the middle ring 30 down whilst the outer ring 20 is pulled upwards against gravity by the user using handle 21. The notches 26 and 27 are designed such that they fit through the holes 33 and 34 when the middle ring 30 is orthogonal to the outer ring 20. As will be discussed later, the cup 50 in the final set-up of the device prevents the middle ring from moving beyond angle α which is significantly below 90 degrees.

The middle ring 30, with attached outer ring 20, is then attached to the cradle 40 by positioning the cradle 40 at 45 degrees to the middle ring 30 so to align notch 46 on the cradle 40 to the hole 32 in the middle ring 30. The notch 46 is positioned at 45 degrees to the arm 44 so that the cradle 40 can be attached to the middle ring 30. The notch 46 of the cradle 40 is then pushed through the hole 32 of the middle ring. The middle ring 30 is then moved further down the arm 44 of the cradle 40. The middle ring 30, with attached outer ring 20, is then rotated 90 degrees so to align notch 47 on the cradle 40 to the hole 35 on the opposite side of the middle ring 30 to hole 32. The notch 47 is then pushed through the hole 35 and along the arm 45 until the middle ring 30 is equally distanced from both notches 46 and 47. The cradle 40 is then rotated by 45 degrees so that the ring 43 of the cradle 40 is concentric with the middle ring 30. If so desired, the order of assembly could be reversed so that the notch 47 instead of the notch 46 is first pushed through holes 35 or 32 of the middle ring 30, as desired.

The arms 45 and 44 are designed such that there is a knife like profile pointing downwards. This connects with an arched shape groove in holes 35 and 32. To provide additional structural strength there is more material below the holes 35 and 32 than above in the middle ring 30. The crest of the arches of the holes 45, 44, 33 and 34 in the middle ring 30 are level with each other, so to ensure the two axis of motion of the gimbal aspect of the device intersect at the axis of gravity going through the cup 50 in the centre. Gravity pulls the cradle 40 downwards against the middle ring 30 and for this reason arms 45 and 44 have a sharp profile in a downward direction.

A cup 50 is then inserted into the cradle 40 and this is held in place by gravity. The cup 50 prevents the middle ring 30 and outer ring 20 from coming apart as discussed previously with the orientation of the notches 26, 27, 46 and 47. The device as a whole then works as a 2-axis gimbal, with minimal friction due to the profile of the arms 22, 23, 44 and 45. The diameter and height of the middle ring 30 and the outer ring 20 are such that they have sufficient space to allow the handle 21 to move about the cup 50 in both axis to an angle α, in the plane orthogonal to the ground and about axis 24, when the top edge 39 of the middle ring 30 touches the cup 50 at point 55 and the top edge 29 of the outer ring 20 touches the cup 50 at point 56 which causes the cup 50 to adequately lock in both dimensions to enable the user to pour the contents of the cup 50 into their mouth. In other words, the cup or cradle abuts against both the middle and the outer rings and this abutment prevents further movement of the middle and inner rings relative to the outer ring, even if the outer ring is tipped further and angle α is increased. When the cup abuts the middle and outer rings in this way, the middle and inner rings and the cup are tipped with the outer ring to enable a user to pour the contents of the cup, e.g to drink from the cup.

That said, in another embodiment of the current invention the bottom edge 28 of the outer ring 20 can come into contact with the cup 50 when the handle is tilted by an angle α at the same time as the bottom edge 38 of the middle ring 30 making contact with the cup 50 so to again lock the cup and enable pouring of the contents into the users mouths. For additional structural strength, A further embodiment could enable both the top edges 29 and 39, and the bottom edges 28 and 38 to come into contact with the cup 50 when the handle 21 is tilted by an angle α. Furtherstill, another embodiment of the present invention has a cradle 40 designed such that the edge 28, 29, 38 and 39 come into contact with the cradle 40 (or indeed any part attached to the inner ring that projects above or below the plane of the inner ring) as opposed to the cup 50.

In the case of the embodiment 10, the angle α is 30 degrees from the vertical line. This is chosen because the severest amplitude of tremor is 30 degrees. The position of the handle 21 is at an angle β from the axis 49. In the case of embodiment 10 this is 45 degrees and is at this position to enable drinking of the contents of the cup 50 from 90 degrees to the handle 21 in the top plane, at a point when the handle 21 is tilted by an angle of α.

In further embodiment, 11, as drawn in FIG. 6, the outer ring 60 has no handle, however in this case there are markings 63 and 64 to indicate where to put your fingers and thumb, and markings 61 and 62 to indicate where to drink from. This embodiment is particularly useful when the outer ring 60 is small enough in diameter to make holding it comfortable for the user. Again, markings 63 and 64 are situated such that their mid-point is at an angle β in same way as embodiment 10.