Title:
SMART CUP HAVING PLAY MODULE AND METHOD OF MANUFACTURING THEREOF
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Provided is a smart cup having a sound player which is driven by sensors controlled by a micro-controller, to thus control the output of the sound player and extend function and use of a general cup to thereby give help to a daily life of users who use the smart cup. The smart cup includes: a main body of a cup; a play module case; and a silicon coupling portion. The play module detects whether a temperature change occurs in the cup or water-soluble liquid is contained in the cup, to thereby reproduce a built-in sound and includes: a cup material selection button unit; a power switch; a temperature sensor which measures temperature of the cup; an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor which measures a change of an electrostatic capacity; an electrostatic capacity analysis integrated circuit which detects sensitivity of the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor, a detection distance, a changed electrostatic capacity; and a micro-controller which determines whether or not sound will be reproduced.



Inventors:
Kang, Ho Joong (Gyeonggi-do, KR)
Application Number:
12/406415
Publication Date:
09/24/2009
Filing Date:
03/18/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/703
International Classes:
A63H5/00; A47G19/22
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Primary Examiner:
JAGAN, MIRELLYS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LADAS & PARRY LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A smart cup comprising: a main body of a cup having a cup holder or having no cup holder in which a space for installing a play module is formed at the other lower end of the cup; a play module case which is provided so as to be detached from and attached to the cup; a silicon coupling portion which enables the cup and the play module case to be coupled with each other; and the play module which is installed at the inner portion of the play module case and detects whether a temperature change occurs in the cup or water-soluble liquid is contained in the cup, to thereby reproduce a built-in sound.

2. The smart cup according to claim 1, wherein the play module comprises: a cup material selection button unit which enables a user to determine a kind and an operational mode of a sensor according to a material of the cup; a power switch which is connected to a power supply by a contact to the bottom of the cup when the play module is installed in the cup; a temperature sensor which measures temperature of the cup at a given time interval from the time when the power supply is connected with the temperature sensor; an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor which measures a change of an electrostatic capacity according to the material of the cup and the contents contained in the cup; an electrostatic capacity analysis integrated circuit which detects and amplifies sensitivity of the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor, a detection distance, a changed electrostatic capacity; and a micro-controller which determines whether or not sound will be reproduced on the basis of data of the temperature sensor and the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor.

3. The smart cup according to claim 1, wherein the silicon coupling portion comprises: a silicon ring which enables the play module case to be easily coupled with the cup; a silicon support ring which applies pressure of a predetermined magnitude between the silicon ring and the inner wall surface of the cup; and a bridge which is located between a cup-side silicon contact portion and a case-side silicon fixing portion, to thus enable the play module case to elastically move.

4. A method of manufacturing a smart cup according to another aspect of the present invention, the smart cup manufacturing method comprising the steps of: forming a main body of a cup having a cup holder or having no cup holder in which a space for installing a play module is formed at the other lower end of the cup; forming a play module case which is provided so as to be detached from and attached to the cup; forming a silicon coupling portion which enables the cup and the play module case to be coupled with each other; and coupling the play module case with the cup by using the silicon coupling portion.

5. The smart cup manufacturing method of claim 4, wherein the silicon coupling portion forming step comprises the sub-steps of: forming a silicon ring which enables the play module case to be easily coupled with the cup; forming a silicon support ring which applies pressure of a predetermined magnitude between the silicon ring and the inner wall surface of the cup; and forming a bridge which is located between a cup-side silicon contact portion and a case-side silicon fixing portion, to thus enable the play module case to elastically move.

6. A smart cup comprising: a main body of a cup having a cup holder or having no cup holder in which a space for installing a play module is formed at the other lower end of the cup; and a play module case which is provided so as to be detached from and attached to the inside of the main body of the cup, wherein the play module comprises: a temperature sensor which measures temperature of the cup; an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor which detects an access of the cup and the contents contained in the cup; and a sound output integrated circuit which outputs a built-in sound under the control of a micro-controller, and wherein the micro-controller controls the sound output integrated circuit, reads the value of the temperature sensor at a unit time interval, converts the temperature sensor value into a temperature change rate per unit time, compares the temperature change rate per unit time with a predetermined target temperature change rate, and instructs the sound output integrated circuit to output the sound when the temperature change rate per unit time is not less than the predetermined target temperature change rate.

7. The smart cup according to claim 6, wherein the play module comprises: cup material selection buttons whose target temperature change rates are differently established according to a material of the cup, and which function as basic data to determine a temperature measurement unit time; an integrated circuit which classifies the material of the cup into a non-metallic material and a metallic material when the cup material is selected, and which uses the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor in the case of the non-metallic material and uses the temperature sensor in the case of the metallic material; and a switching unit which is installed at a portion where the outer portion of the play module and the cup contact, in order to make a start time of measuring a temperature change rate of the cup performed after the play module has been installed in the cup, and interrupts the sound reproduction when necessary, to thereby control the smart cup based on respectively different specific dielectric constant according to the cup material, when a detection distance range of the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor is determined through the cup material selection buttons.

8. A method of coupling a ceramic ware product with a precise integrated circuit product in order to stably install the precise integrated circuit product at a particular position of the inside of the ceramic ware product, the coupling method comprising the step of: attaching an elastic silicon structure component to the outer portion of the precise integrated circuit product.

9. The method of coupling a ceramic ware product with a precise integrated circuit product of claim 8, further comprising the step of: forming a hard material intermediate medium on the outer portion of which the elastic silicon structure component is attached and in the inside of which the precise integrated circuit product is fixed.

10. The method of coupling a ceramic ware product with a precise integrated circuit product of claim 8, further comprising the steps of: dividing the elastic silicon structure component into three portions such as a cup adhesion portion, a precise integrated circuit product adhesion portion, and an intermediate bridge portion; fixing the elastic silicon structure component to the cup by forcing the intermediate medium from the inside of the cup adhesion portion of the elastic silicon structure component to the outside thereof; and securing degree of freedom of upward and downward movements of the precise integrated circuit product by using elasticity of the intermediate bridge portion, to thus make the upper end of the precise integrated circuit product contact the bottom of the cup even if there is an error at the height of the lower end of the cup.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of Korean Utility-model Application No. 20-2008-0003657, filed on Mar. 20, 2007, in the Korean Intellectual Property Office, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a smart cup which may be called a voice cup or an intelligence cup having a sound player which is driven by sensors which are controlled by a micro-controller, to thus control the output of the sound player and extend function and use of a general cup to thereby give help to a daily life of users who use the smart cup.

2. Description of the Related Art

The smart cup such as the voice cup or the intelligence cup includes a play module including sensors, sound and motion video playback devices, a network unit, and a power supply unit therein. In addition, ideas and technologies on technical designs and functions are included in the smart cup, in order to effectively employ the play module in the smart cup.

Accordingly, operation methods of a temperature sensor and an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor, a sound output method, and an attachment and detachment method of a play module have been proposed.

The present invention is improvement of the invention disclosed in the Korean Patent Application No. 10-2007-0028259 field on Mar. 22, 2007 by the same Applicant as this invention (its Korean Patent Publication No. 10-2007-0040768 on Apr. 17, 2007), entitled “Smart Cup Having an Output Device Controlled by the Rate of Temperature Change per Unit Time,” which was withdrawn.

The prior art invention disclosed in the Korean Patent Application No. 10-2007-0028259 field on Mar. 22, 2007 is improvement of the invention disclosed in the Korean Patent Registration No. 10-0412252 on Dec. 11, 2003, entitled “Double Walled Melody Magic Cup,” by the same Applicant as this invention.

That is, the invention disclosed in the Korean Patent Registration No. 10-0412252 uses bimetal as a sensor. As a result, the “Double Walled Melody Magic Cup” operates only in hot water more than a predetermined temperature at which bimetal operates. However, in the case of the prior art invention entitled “Smart Cup Having an Output Device Controlled by the Rate of Temperature Change per Unit Time,” information input through a temperature sensor at a regular time interval is converted into a temperature change rate per unit time by a micro-controller, and then if the converted temperature change rate reaches a preset target temperature change rate, voice is output. Thus, the “Smart Cup Having an Output Device Controlled by the Rate of Temperature Change per Unit Time” operates in cold water as well as hot water. Further, since a target temperature change rate is set up differently according to a material of a cup, even a cup of a material like plastic whose temperature transfer speed is slow could react successfully according to temperature change.

In addition, in the case of the invention entitled “Wireless Smart Cup and Network Configuration Method of the Wireless Smart Cup” registered on Jun. 19, 2007 by the same Applicant as this invention, a sound module case having a sensor and a player can be freely detachable from the wireless smart cup, to thus enable a user to exchange a battery with a new one and to replace a sound resource to a new one.

Meanwhile, there is an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor as a sensor which detects liquid of a vessel made of a non-conductive material. This electrostatic capacity proximity sensor is extensively applied to liquid level detection, detection of existence or non-existence of milk in a paper pack, a touch-type keyboard, etc.

The invention entitled “Smart Cup Having an Output Device Controlled by the Rate of Temperature Change per Unit Time” by the same Applicant as this invention can operate in cold water as well as hot water, and can be utilized widely in cups of various materials. However, since the invention entitled “Smart Cup Having an Output Device Controlled by the Rate of Temperature Change per Unit Time” by the same Applicant as this invention requires an abrupt temperature change in comparison with a normal case, it has a limitation that it does not operate in water at normal temperature.

In addition, in the case that hot water is poured into a cup when the body of the cup is hot, or cold water is poured into the cup when the body of the cup is cold, the invention entitled “Smart Cup Having an Output Device Controlled by the Rate of Temperature Change per Unit Time” by the same Applicant as this invention has a limitation that it does not operate.

When drink is poured in a cup using an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor, a particular function is carried out. However, in the case that an identical play module is used in various kinds of cups, respectively, a problem which does not happen in the existing electrostatic capacity proximity sensor may occur. That is, the proximity sensor does not play a role of unconditionally judging whether or not there is one object within a detection distance range, but it plays a role of enabling the cup to generate no sound when the proximity sensor reaches an empty cup and to generate sound only when the proximity sensor reaches a cup containing liquid, with respect to cups having a respectively different specific dielectric constant. Here, considering that the specific dielectric constant is in proportion with a detection distance, a specialized circuit should be developed in order to enable respective cups to exhibit an identical effect with a single sensor while using a play module case of an identical dimension.

Also, an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor cannot be applied or used if a material of a cup is conductive. Thus, the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor cannot be used in a stainless steel cup and a tin cup.

In the present invention, a play module case is basically designed so as to be freely detached from or attached to a main body of a cup. However, in the case of ceramic products such as ceramic ware, the ceramic surface cannot be precisely manufactured. Accordingly, a hanger from or to which the play module case can be easily detached or attached can be made at neither place of the ceramic surface. To overcome this restriction point, a plastic ring from which a hanger is protruded is bonded to the inner side of the lower end of the cup by using adhesives, and then the play module case is hung on the hanger. However, stiffness of the adhesives cannot be guaranteed, and labor costs are excessively invested in the process of attaching the plastic ring to the ceramic surface.

Thus, it is a key idea to catch change of an electrostatic capacity using an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor in the case that liquid is contained in a cup or not. Accordingly, to easily carry out this key idea, a detection distance should be delicately set up and a distance between a detection plane and a cup bottom should be consistently maintained irrespective of the material of the cup. As a result, it is necessary to find out a method which can constantly keep a distance between a detection plane of the sensor and the bottom of the cup main body even in the case that an error occurs inevitably on dimension in the process of manufacturing ceramic ware such as ceramic cups.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

To overcome inconveniences, defectives or problems of the conventional art, it is an object of the present invention to provide a smart cup in which a sensor operates even in cups of all kinds of materials which can be available on the market.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a smart cup which operates only if drink is poured into a cup of a non-conductive material irrespective of temperature of the drink, in the case of the cup of the non-conductive material, and operates according to a change speed of detected temperature in the case of a cup of a conductive material, by using a single play module in both cases.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide a method of manufacturing a smart cup having a play module in which the play module can be easily attached to and detached from the ceramic cup even in the case that there is an error in dimension of the ceramic cup.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a method of manufacturing a smart cup having a play module in which a distance between a sensor of the play module and bottom of the cup is maintained constantly.

To accomplish the above object of the present invention, according to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a smart cup comprising:

a main body of a cup having a cup holder or having no cup holder in which a space for installing a play module is formed at the other lower end of the cup;

a play module case which is provided so as to be detached from and attached to the cup;

a silicon coupling portion which enables the cup and the play module case to be coupled with each other; and

the play module which is installed at the inner portion of the play module case and detects whether a temperature change occurs in the cup or water-soluble liquid is contained in the cup, to thereby reproduce a built-in sound.

Preferably but not necessarily, the play module comprises:

a cup material selection button unit which enables a user to determine a kind and an operational mode of a sensor according to a material of the cup;

a power switch which is connected to a power supply by a contact to the bottom of the cup when the play module is installed in the cup;

a temperature sensor which measures temperature of the cup at a given time interval from the time when the power supply is connected with the temperature sensor;

an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor which measures a change of an electrostatic capacity according to the material of the cup and the contents contained in the cup;

an electrostatic capacity analysis integrated circuit which detects and amplifies sensitivity of the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor, a detection distance, a changed electrostatic capacity; and

a micro-controller which determines whether or not sound will be reproduced on the basis of data of the temperature sensor and the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor.

Preferably but not necessarily, the silicon coupling portion comprises:

a silicon ring which enables the play module case to be easily coupled with the cup;

a silicon support ring which applies pressure of a predetermined magnitude between the silicon ring and the inner wall surface of the cup; and

a bridge which is located between a cup-side silicon contact portion and a case-side silicon fixing portion, to thus enable the play module case to elastically move.

There is also provided a method of manufacturing a smart cup according to another aspect of the present invention, the smart cup manufacturing method comprising the steps of:

forming a main body of a cup having a cup holder or having no cup holder in which a space for installing a play module is formed at the other lower end of the cup;

forming a play module case which is provided so as to be detached from and attached to the cup;

forming a silicon coupling portion which enables the cup and the play module case to be coupled with each other; and

coupling the play module case with the cup by using the silicon coupling portion.

Preferably but not necessarily, the silicon coupling portion forming step comprises the sub-steps of:

forming a silicon ring which enables the play module case to be easily coupled with the cup;

forming a silicon support ring which applies pressure of a predetermined magnitude between the silicon ring and the inner wall surface of the cup; and

forming a bridge which is located between a cup-side silicon contact portion and a case-side silicon fixing portion, to thus enable the play module case to elastically move.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is also provided a smart cup comprising:

a main body of a cup having a cup holder or having no cup holder in which a space for installing a play module is formed at the other lower end of the cup; and

a play module case which is provided so as to be detached from and attached to the inside of the main body of the cup,

wherein the play module comprises:

a temperature sensor which measures temperature of the cup;

an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor which detects an access of the cup and the contents contained in the cup; and

a sound output integrated circuit which outputs a built-in sound under the control of a micro-controller, and

wherein the micro-controller controls the sound output integrated circuit, reads the value of the temperature sensor at a unit time interval, converts the temperature sensor value into a temperature change rate per unit time, compares the temperature change rate per unit time with a predetermined target temperature change rate, and instructs the sound output integrated circuit to output the sound when the temperature change rate per unit time is not less than the predetermined target temperature change rate.

Preferably but not necessarily, the play module comprises:

cup material selection buttons whose target temperature change rates are differently established according to a material of the cup, and which function as basic data to determine a temperature measurement unit time;

an integrated circuit which classifies the material of the cup into a non-metallic material and a metallic material when the cup material is selected, and which uses the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor in the case of the non-metallic material and uses the temperature sensor in the case of the metallic material; and

a switching unit which is installed at a portion where the outer portion of the play module and the cup contact, in order to make a start time of measuring a temperature change rate of the cup performed after the play module has been installed in the cup, and interrupts the sound reproduction when necessary, to thereby control the smart cup based on respectively different specific dielectric constant according to the cup material, when a detection distance range of the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor is determined through the cup material selection buttons.

According to another aspect of the present invention, there is also provided a method of coupling a ceramic ware product with a precise integrated circuit product in order to stably install the precise integrated circuit product at a particular position of the inside of the ceramic ware product, the coupling method comprising the step of: attaching an elastic silicon structure component to the outer portion of the precise integrated circuit product.

Preferably but not necessarily, the coupling method further comprises the step of: forming a hard material intermediate medium on the outer portion of which the elastic silicon structure component is attached and in the inside of which the precise integrated circuit product is fixed.

Preferably but not necessarily, the coupling method further comprises the steps of: dividing the elastic silicon structure component into three portions such as a cup adhesion portion, a precise integrated circuit product adhesion portion, and an intermediate bridge portion;

fixing the elastic silicon structure component to the cup by forcing the intermediate medium from the inside of the cup adhesion portion of the elastic silicon structure component to the outside thereof; and

securing degree of freedom of upward and downward movements of the precise integrated circuit product by using elasticity of the intermediate bridge portion, to thus make the upper end of the precise integrated circuit product contact the bottom of the cup even if there is an error at the height of the lower end of the cup.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and/or other objects and aspects of the present invention will become apparent and more readily appreciated from the following description of the exemplary embodiments, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a smart cup according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing an internal circuit of the smart cup according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor of the smart cup according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram showing an internal circuit which relates to cup material selection buttons of the smart cup according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a flow chart view of a process which outputs sound by sensors when drink is poured in the smart cup according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 6A, 6B and 6C are cross-sectional views showing a silicon ring structure and explaining a function of the silicon ring according to the structure of the cup in the smart cup according to an embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view illustrating an application of the silicon ring structure in the smart cup according to an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Hereinbelow, a smart cup according to the present invention will be described with reference to the accompanying drawings. Different reference numerals are assigned for identical elements in the respective drawings.

FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a smart cup according to an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 1, a smart cup includes: a main body of a cup 110 having a cup holder or having no cup holder in which a space for installing a play module is formed at the other lower end of the cup 110; a play module case 120 which is provided so as to be detached from and attached to the cup 110; and a silicon coupling portion which enables the cup 110 and the play module case 120 to be coupled with each other. Here, the play module is installed at the inner portion of the play module case 120 and detects whether a temperature change occurs in the cup or water-soluble liquid is contained in the cup 110, to thereby reproduce a built-in sound.

The play module includes: a cup material selection button unit 141 which enables a user to determine a kind and an operational mode of a sensor according to a material of the cup 110; a power switch 140 which is connected to a power supply by a contact to the bottom of the cup when the play module is installed in the cup 110; a temperature sensor 126 which measures temperature of the cup 110 at a given time interval from the time when the power supply is connected with the temperature sensor 126; an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 130 which measures a change of an electrostatic capacity according to the material of the cup 110 and the contents contained in the cup 110; an electrostatic capacity analysis integrated circuit 131 which detects and amplifies sensitivity of the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 130, a detection distance, a changed electrostatic capacity; and a micro-controller which determines whether or not sound will be reproduced on the basis of data of the temperature sensor 126 and the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 130.

The silicon coupling portion enables the play module case to be easily attached to the cup even if there is an error at the dimension of the cup. The silicon coupling portion includes: a silicon ring 150 which enables the play module case to be easily coupled with the cup 110; a silicon support ring 154 which applies pressure of a predetermined magnitude between the silicon ring 150 and the inner wall surface of the cup 110; and a bridge 153 which is located between a cup-side silicon contact portion 151 and a case-side silicon fixing portion 152, to thus enable the play module case 120 to elastically move.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing an internal circuit of the smart cup according to an embodiment of the present invention. In more detail, FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a mutual relationship and a configuration of a play module including cup material selection buttons, an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor, and a temperature sensor. The cup material selection buttons are divided into two parts in order to select non-metallic material cups and metallic material cups. The group of the non-metallic material cups 211-214 is connected to the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 250 in the FIG. 2 circuit diagram, and the group of the metallic material cups 215-216 is connected to the temperature sensor 252 in the FIG. 2 circuit diagram. The micro-controller 220 determines whether or not sound is output on the basis of data collected by the respective sensors 250 and 252. In this case, a sound control button 261 controls the output sound to thus make it possible to temporarily halt the output sound, to adjust volume of the output sound, and to resume to listen the output sound.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor of the smart cup according to an embodiment of the present invention. In more detail, FIG. 3 is an enlarged view showing an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 310 which corresponds to the reference numeral 130 of FIG. 1 and the reference numeral 250 of FIG. 2.

As shown in FIG. 3, when a play module is installed in a cup, a detection distance 317 should not reach the bottom surface of the cup 315 on the basis of a detection plane 313. However, when water is poured into the cup, the detection distance 317 should be larger than a distance 318 including thickness of the cup bottom and thickness of the play module case 120 of FIG. 1.

The detection distance is in proportion to a specific dielectric constant of an object to be detected and an electrostatic capacity of the object to be detected, in the case of the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 310. Thus, it can be seen that magnitude of the electrostatic capacity should be varied in order to consistently maintain the detection distance all the time by offsetting the specific dielectric constant which is varied when a cup is replaced by another cup. That is, a capacitor of an appropriate capacity should be selected so as to be connected to a polar plate of an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 431.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram showing an internal circuit which relates to cup material selection buttons of the smart cup according to an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 4 illustrates a circuit configurational idea which can use a sensor for cups of different materials, by maintaining an identical detection distance even if a specific dielectric constant is varied according to materials of the cups.

For example, if a ceramic cup button 411 is pressed to then be connected to a capacitor 1 denoted by a reference numeral 421, a detection distance 317 of FIG. 3 is determined in connection with the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 431. Here, the detection distance 317 is same as that determined by a capacitor 2 denoted by a reference numeral 422 connected with the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 431 when a paper cup button 412 is pressed. Thus, even if ceramic and paper are different in view of a specific dielectric constant, the identical detection distance is set up. As a result, even if a play module case is installed in a respectively different cup, no sound is output at the state of empty cups. However, if water whose specific dielectric constant is very large is poured into the cups, the detection distance is greatly extended and exceeds a distance 318 of FIG. 3 from the polar plate of the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 431 to the inner bottom of the cup. Accordingly, an oscillating width of voltage becomes larger abruptly. A sound player 443 is operated by amplifying the oscillating width of voltage. Likewise, a plastic cup button 413 corresponds to a capacitor 3 denoted by a reference numeral 423, and a glass cup button 414 corresponds to a capacitor 4 denoted by a reference numeral 424, in order to perform the same operation as those of the ceramic cup button 411 and the paper cup button 412.

When a stainless steel cup button 415 or a tin cup button 416 is pressed as a cup material selection button, the stainless steel cup button 415 or the tin cup button 416 is connected with a temperature sensor 432.

In FIG. 4, a reference numeral 401 denotes a battery, a reference numeral 402 denotes a power switch, a reference numeral 410 denotes cup material selection buttons, a reference numeral 441 denotes a micro-controller, a reference numeral 442 denotes a sound control button, and a reference numeral 451 denotes a speaker.

A predetermined target temperature change rate is compared with a temperature change rate per unit time considering thermal conductivities of the stainless steel and the tin. Then, if the temperature change rate per unit time is larger than the predetermined target temperature change rate, the sound player is made to operate.

It is very important to keep a distance from the cup bottom and the respective sensors in both the cases of the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor and the temperature sensor. In the case of the ceramic cup, there may be an error of 1 mm or so at the largest, due to a limit of a ceramic ware fabrication process, even if the ceramic cups are identical products. Such an error may be an important factor of malfunction of the smart cup.

The present invention solves the above-described limit of a ceramic ware fabrication process, by dividing a silicon coupling portion which enables a cup and a play module case to be coupled with each other into three parts such as a silicon ring 150 which enables the play module case to be easily coupled with the cup; a silicon support ring 154 which applies pressure of a predetermined magnitude between the silicon ring and the inner wall surface of the cup; and a bridge 153 which is located between a cup-side silicon contact portion 151 and a case-side silicon fixing portion 152, to thus enable the play module case to elastically move. The above-described three parts are assigned with particular functions, and the silicon support ring 154 may be made in the form of a plastic ring.

The error of the ceramic cup structural dimension may occur in magnitude of the diameter and height of the space formed on the bottom of the cup, and a degree of distortion of a circle on the bottom of the cup. The silicon support ring 154 made of plastic or a material having the similar elasticity to that of plastic is surrounded with contractible silicon, and then the silicon support ring 154 is fitted into the lower end of the cup. As a result, an error of the cup diameter or distortion of a circle on the bottom of the cup can be overcome and the play module case can be firmly fixed to the lower end of the cup.

Also, the bridge 153 which is formed of a thin film and a somewhat sufficient size is formed between the case-side silicon fixing portion 152 and the cup-side silicon contact portion 151. In this case, an error of the height of the space formed in the lower end of the cup can be solved as shown in FIGS. 6A, 6B and 6C.

FIG. 6A shows structure of a silicon ring when a play module case is installed in a cup of normal size. Here, since height 650 of the lower end of the cup is appropriate, the silicon ring maintains the original silicon ring structure. An underside 630 of a case-side silicon contact portion contacts the bottom of the silicon ring 620. It can be also seen that the upper end of the case and the bottom 640 of the cup contact perfectly.

FIG. 6B shows that height 651 of the lower end of the cup is shortened. Here, the entire cup is pushed up due to elasticity of the bridge 153, and a distance between the lower end 621 of the cup-side silicon fixing portion and an underside 631 of a case-side silicon contact portion becomes a little farther. However, it can be also seen that the upper end of the case and the bottom 641 of the cup contact perfectly.

FIG. 6C shows that height 652 of the lower end of the cup is lengthened. Here, a cup-side silicon contact portion 151 goes down continuously by weight of the cup from a limit point where the cup-side silicon contact portion 151 contacts the bottom 622 of the cup. During the time when the cup-side silicon contact portion 151 goes down continuously, the upper end of the case and the bottom 632 of the cup maintain a close contact state continuously.

In the present invention, a cup such as a ceramic cup, a plastic cup, a paper cup, a glass cup, a stainless steel cup or a tin cup may representatively designate all kinds of cups irrespective of a cup having a cup holder or a cup having no cup holder. An output device such as a sound player may include a video device which can output video signals and images such as a light emitting diode (LED) display or a liquid crystal display (LCD) unit. The sound source may include melody, voice, music or speech signals. The silicon representatively designates rubber or other synthetic resin having elasticity and density which can obtain the same effect as that that can be obtained when the silicon is used to realize a silicon ring. It is also apparent that positions of the play module or sensors may be located at the lower end of the cup as well as the cup holder or other cup fixing devices.

In FIGS. 6A, 6B and 6C, a reference numeral 600 denotes a bridge normal position, and reference numerals 610-612 denote a deformation of the silicon ring depending upon an error of size of a cup.

The function of the smart cup having the above-described configuration will be described below with reference to the accompanying drawings.

As shown in FIG. 1, the smart cup according to the embodiment of the present invention is fabricated by coupling the silicon support rings 154 with the silicon rings 150, coupling the play module case 120 with the coupled silicon support rings 154 and silicon rings 150, and then coupling the resulting coupled combination with the inner side of the lower end of the ceramic cup 110, at a detachable state.

The upper end of the play module 120 is covered with a cover 121 which can be opened and closed. The temperature sensors 126 and the power switch 140 are protruded upwards from the cover 121 through holes formed on the cover 121. The detection plane on the upper end of the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 130 is installed at the same height as the upper surface of the cover 121. The cup material selection button unit 141 and a sound control button 142 are exposed on the lower end of the play module case 120. A battery 125, a micro-controller 124, an electrostatic capacity analysis integrated circuit 131 are installed on a printed circuit board (PCB) which is installed at the height of the middle of the play module case 120. A speaker 123 is fixed to the lower end of the play module case 120. Here, in FIG. 1, a reference numeral 122 denotes a sound output integrated circuit, and a reference numeral 160 denotes a floor on which a cup is put.

As described above, referring to FIG. 2, the cup material selection buttons 210 are divided into two parts in order to select non-metallic material cups and metallic material cups. The non-metallic material cups 211-214 are connected to the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 250 in the FIG. 2 circuit diagram, and the metallic material cups 215-216 are connected to the temperature sensor 252 in the FIG. 2 circuit diagram. The electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 250 functions as a sensor only when the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 250 is combined with an electrostatic capacity analysis integrated circuit 251, as a set. Data which is obtained through two kinds of the sensors 250 and 252 is finally analyzed in the micro-controller 220, to thus determine whether or not sound will be output. If the micro-controller has determined that sound is output, sound data is retrieved from a memory included in a sound player 260, to then output the retrieved sound through a speaker 270. Here, when a sound control button 261 is used, volume of sound can be reduced or enlarged during reproduction of the sound. Otherwise, after sound reproduction has been ended, the sound can be listened again by manipulating the sound control button 261. In FIG. 2, a reference numeral 230 denotes a power supply and a reference numeral 240 denotes a power switch.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged diagram of the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 310 according to the embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 3, a thin silver film 311 to which a positive electrode of a power supply is connected is coated on a printed circuit board (PCB) 320, and then a column-type polar plate 312 is erected on the thin silver film 311. Then, a film which plays a role of a detection plane 313 is located on the column-type polar plate 312. The column-type polar plate 312 can be simply fabricated by surrounding a hexagon prism cubic cushion pad with a metallic wire of a good conductivity. Here, even if an error occurs in the process of opening or closing the cover, it is easy to connect to the power supply because of a cushion effect. In FIG. 3, a reference numeral 314 denotes a play module case cover, a reference numeral 316 denotes drink contents contained in the cup, and a reference numeral 321 denotes an electrostatic capacity analysis integrated circuit.

The specific dielectric constant values of various kinds of cups and water are as follows.

Ceramic cup: 10Paper cup: 2.3
Plastic cup: 3.2Glass cup: 5
Water: 80

An electrostatic capacity detection distance is proportional to both a specific dielectric constant and an electrostatic capacity of an object to be detected, and the electrostatic capacity is proportional to an amount of accumulated charges. Since dimension of the play module, size of an area of a polar plate, and voltage are inherent, they are all converted into a constant “K”, and then the following equation which obtains the electrostatic capacity can be summarized in the case that a detection distance “Sn” is constant.


Q=K*(Sn/E) (here, K=0.001129)

Here, the electrostatic capacity values necessary for restricting the detection distance “Sn” into 0.5 mm or less are as follows according to the materials of the cup.

Ceramic cup: 0.056 μFPaper cup: 0.245 μF
Plastic cup: 0.176 μFGlass cup: 0.113 μF

The detection distance values when water is poured into the cup at a predetermined electrostatic capacity as described above, are calculated as follows.

Ceramic cup: 4 mmPaper cup: 17 mm
Plastic cup: 17 mmGlass cup: 8 mm

Here, a sensor operating principle of the case when a plastic cup is used will be described below with reference to FIG. 4.

If a user presses a plastic cup button 413 among cup material selection buttons 410 before a play module is installed in a cup, only a plastic cup button 413 drives a capacitor 3 denoted by a reference numeral 423, and the other cup buttons 411, 412 and 414 do not drive capacitors 421, 422, and 424, respectively. That is, the capacitor 3 denoted by the reference numeral 423 and whose electrostatic capacity is 0.2 μF is connected with a polar plate of the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 431. Accordingly, a condition that a detection distance from a detection plane 313 of FIG. 3 can be set up to be approximately 0.6 mm as shown as a reference numeral 317 in FIG. 3 is made. In this state, a distance from the detection plane 313 to the bottom 315 of a cup 110 of FIG. 1 becomes 1 mm or longer when a play module case is installed in the cup 110. Accordingly, nothing is captured by the sensor 431. However, if water is poured into the cup, the detection distance is extended to 14 mm, to thus make the sensor detect the water contained in the cup.

FIG. 5 is a flow chart view of a total process which outputs sound by sensors when drink is poured in the smart cup according to an embodiment of the present invention. The entire process of outputting sound will be described below with reference to FIGS. 1 to 5.

Referring to FIG. 5, a user presses a button corresponding in a cup which he or she desires to use among cup material selection buttons 141 before a play module is installed in the cup (step 510).

If a play module case 120 is installed in the cup 110, a power switch 140 is pressed, to thus supply an electric power source for the entire play module (steps 511 and 512).

If a material of the selected cup belongs to a non-metallic group, the power source circuit is connected to the electrostatic capacity proximity sensor 431, and if a material of the selected cup belongs to a metallic group, the power source circuit is connected to the temperature sensor 432 (step 513).

An independent button is assigned to the cups belonging to the non-metallic group, for respective materials., and an appropriate capacitor is connected to the pressed button in correspondence to the respective materials (steps 520 and 521).

For example, if a user selects the ceramic cup button 411, the electrostatic capacity of 0.06 μF is supplied through the capacitor 1 denoted by the reference numeral 421 and the detection distance becomes about 0.6 mm. In this state, since a distance between the bottom of the cup and the detection plane is 1 mm, the cup is not detected by the sensor (step 522).

If a user pours water or water-soluble liquid into a cup, the detection distance increases to 4.8 mm. Accordingly, the cup is detected by the sensor (steps 523, 524 and 525).

Therefore, the sound play module 260 operates under the control of the micro-controller according to the result detected by the sensor (step 526).

If sound starts to be output, a current mode is changed into a sound control switching mode. At the sound control switching mode, the output sound is controlled by the sound control button 142. This sound control button 142 is controlled by the micro-controller, to thus make it possible to temporarily halt the output sound, to adjust volume of the output sound, and to resume to listen to the output sound. That is, if a user presses the sound control button 142 during reproduction of sound, an output sound volume becomes zero, to thus perform a temporary halt function of the output sound. If a user presses the sound control button 142 twice sequentially, the output sound volume becomes a quarter of the original sound volume. If a user presses the sound control button 142 three times sequentially, the output sound volume becomes a half of the original sound volume. If a user presses the sound control button 142 four times sequentially, the output sound volume becomes the original sound volume. If the sound control button 142 is pressed again within five minutes after the reproduction of the sound source has been completely finished, the sound starts to be reproduced again. In this case, even if water is poured into a cup, no sensor operates (step 527).

If five minutes elapse after the sound play has been finished, the smart cup is initialized, and thus the sensor starts again to detect whether or not water is contained in the cup. If water is detected in the cup, the sound is reproduced from the beginning portion of the sound source (steps 528 and 529).

If a metallic cup group has been selected at the cup material selection step 510, the selected metallic cup is connected to the temperature sensor in circuit. Thus, the micro-controller reads out a target temperature change rate according to the cup material (step 530).

Next, the temperature is recorded at one-second interval or two-second interval. Then, the recorded temperature is converted into a temperature change rate per unit time (steps 531 and 532).

If the temperature change rate per unit time is larger than the target temperature change rate, it means that drink is contained in the cup and thus the temperature of the cup is abruptly changed. As a result, a current mode proceeds to the sound play module. If the target temperature change rate is larger than the temperature change rate per unit time, the operation returns to the step of measuring the temperature again (step 533).

If the sound play module starts to operate, the current mode is converted into the sound control switching mode similarly in this case, and thus temporary halt and volume control functions of sound are performed only with the sound control button 142 as described above (steps 534 and 535).

If five minutes elapse after the sound play has been finished, the smart cup is initialized, and thus the operation returns to the step of recording the temperature at one-second interval, to then repeat the above-described processes (steps 536 and 537).

If the play module case is separated from the cup, the electric power source is interrupted and thus all the functions stop (steps 514 and 515).

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view illustrating an application of the silicon ring structure in the smart cup according to an embodiment of the present invention.

As shown in FIG. 7, a silicon ring structure is divided into two parts such as an elastic silicon ring portion 712, and a silicon support ring 713 which can be fabricated like plastic precisely and firmly. When a precise integrated circuit product 714 should be installed at an accurate position in the inside of the ceramic cup 711, the silicon ring portion 712 solves an error problem of the dimension of the ceramic cup 711, and the silicon support ring 713 assists the precise integrated circuit product 714 to be stably installed at an accurate position.

In the FIG. 7 embodiment of the present invention, if the silicon support ring 713 and the precise integrated circuit product 714 are engaged with nuts, the precise integrated circuit product 714 can be easily detached from and attached to the cup. In addition, the height of the precise integrated circuit product 714 can be freely adjusted. Here, if a button is exposed at a particular position on the upper end of the precise integrated circuit product 714 and an light emitting diode (LED) is exposed on the lower end thereof, the LED can be designed to flicker when the precise integrated circuit product 714 reaches within a predetermined distance from the bottom of the cup.

Here, it can be seen that the silicon coupling portion including the silicon ring structure, the shape of the cup, and the shape of the space formed at the lower end of the cup can be designed in various forms. It can be also seen that the engagement method of the silicon support ring and the precise integrated circuit product can be designed in various forms, considering the characteristics and functions of the smart cup.

As described above, a smart cup according to the present invention employs a temperature sensor and an electrostatic capacity proximity sensor, to thus operate irrespective of temperature of drink contained in the cup.

In addition, the smart cup according to the present invention solves a problem that a play module should be fabricated in correspondence to a material of a cup. That is, the smart cup according to the present invention enables a play module to be adapted to all kinds of cups available on market, to thus enhance economical effects in view of manufacturing and distributing of the smart cup.

Even if there occurs an error inevitably in the dimension of a cup such as a ceramic cup or a pottery cup, a play module case can be easily and stably fixed at an accurate position.

The present invention is not limited to the above-described embodiments. It is apparent to one who has an ordinary skill in the art that there may be many modifications and variations within the same technical spirit of the invention.