Title:
DISPOSABLE LIGHTER FOR SIGHT-IMPAIRED USERS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A disposable lighter having a surface comprised of different elevations and different materials, which permit blind or sight-impaired users to know the proper orientation to use the lighter by feel alone and also improve gripping of the lighter.



Inventors:
Ochiai, Yuzo (Shizuoka, JP)
Application Number:
12/122605
Publication Date:
11/19/2009
Filing Date:
05/16/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
431/344
International Classes:
F23Q2/36; F23Q2/02; F23Q2/32
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070224560Outdoors gas fireplaceSeptember, 2007Stainrod et al.
20080241772Device for the Multifunctional Control of the Supply of a Combustible Gas to a Burner ApparatusOctober, 2008Zanella et al.
20060234177Time knob for gas and electric heaterOctober, 2006Yu et al.
20040166452Candle wick clipperAugust, 2004Mcinnis
20040067460System and method for pollutant reduction in a boilerApril, 2004Monro
20100047728COMBUSTION APPARATUS FOR A GAS BOILERFebruary, 2010Kim
20020073985Pulsed sequence burner control with valveJune, 2002Alan Leukhardt III et al.
20090226852PREMIX LEAN BURNERSeptember, 2009Feese et al.
20030091950Industrial gas burner packageMay, 2003Pijper
20080038681Display controller for gas burnersFebruary, 2008Huang
20060169181Method and burner apparatus for injecting a pulverized coal into rotary kilns, method and apparatus for producing cao using themAugust, 2006Youn et al.



Primary Examiner:
PRICE, CARL D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TROJAN LAW OFFICES (BEVERLY HILLS, CA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A lighter comprising: a tank for holding fuel, said tank having a top, a front, and a back; a flame ignition mechanism mounted on said top of said tank; a valve connected to said fuel and arranged to permit said ignition mechanism to ignite said fuel, said valve positioned on said top of said tank and in proximity to said front of said tank; said tank having a surface, said surface having at least a first elevation and a second elevation, said first elevation located in proximity to said front of said tank and said second elevation located in proximity to said back of said tank, whereby said differences in elevations between said front and said back surfaces of said tank permit the user to know the proper orientation to use the lighter by feel alone.

2. A lighter comprising: a tank for holding fuel, said tank having a top, a front, and a back; a flame ignition mechanism mounted on said top of said tank; a valve connected to said fuel and arranged to permit said ignition mechanism to ignite said fuel, said valve positioned on said top of said tank and in proximity to said front of said tank; said tank having a surface, said surface comprising at least two different materials having distinguishable tactile characteristics, said first material located in proximity to said front of said tank and said second material located in proximity to said back of said tank, whereby said differences in materials between said front and said back surfaces of said tank permit the user to know the proper orientation to use the lighter by feel alone.

3. A lighter comprising: a tank for holding fuel, said tank having a top, a front, and a back; a flame ignition mechanism mounted on said top of said tank; a valve connected to said fuel and arranged to permit said ignition mechanism to ignite said fuel, said valve positioned on said top of said tank and in proximity to said front of said tank; said tank having a surface, said surface having at least a first elevation and a second elevation, said first elevation comprised of a first material, said second elevation comprised of a second material, wherein said first material and said second material have distinguishable tactile characteristics so as to permit the user to know the proper orientation to use the lighter by feel alone.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a gas lighter; more particularly, it relates to a disposable gas lighter for use by blind or sight-impaired users.

2. Description of the Prior Art

A disposable lighter is a portable igniter used to create a flame. It generally comprises a tank containing fuel and an ignition means for lighting the fuel. In one kind of conventional disposable lighter, a metal strike wheel is mounted above a flint that communicates with the fuel contained in the tank of the lighter. The lighter is actuated by striking the metal wheel against the flint to create a spark. When the lighter is actuated by striking the wheel, gas is contemporaneously released by depression of a gas lever located in proximity to the strike wheel. The spark created by the strike wheel ignites the released gas to create a flame. In another lighter of this kind, the ignition means is comprised of a piezoelectric unit instead of a strike wheel. A spark is created by actuating a button that compresses the piezoelectric unit to generate a discharge voltage, which ignites the gas to create a flame.

Disposable lighters can be dangerous if misused. It is common to provide safety mechanisms for such disposable lighters, especially child-resistant mechanisms to prevent misuse of the lighters by children. However, there is a need to make disposable lighters safe not only for children but for blind or sight-impaired users as well. The lighter of the present invention permits visually impaired users to know by touch alone whether they are holding the lighter properly to operate it. Since the top of the lighter where the flame is generated can become hot after operation, if visually impaired people use the top of the lighter to determine the proper orientation of the lighter, they can burn their finger by touching the hot metal near the ignition means. Even if the top of the lighter is not hot from previous use, it can be frustrating and time consuming for visually impaired users to fumble with a lighter to determine its proper orientation. The lighter of the present invention solves these problems by permitting sight-impaired users to know the orientation of the lighter by feeling the tank of the lighter.

The advantages of the present invention are not limited to sight-impaired users. It is also often necessary for people with normal vision to determine the orientation of the lighter by feel alone. For example, a person with normal vision may need to operate a disposable lighter in the dark, such as at night or in a dark bar or night club. In situations where there is inadequate lighting, it can be frustrating and time consuming for to fumble with a lighter to determine its proper orientation. The present invention allows users to safely operate the lighter in the dark. Furthermore, another common problem with disposable lighters is that it can be difficult to grip. Disposable lighters are small and they are generally made of plastic or metal, which can make the lighters difficult to grip. The present invention provides improved gripping of the lighter.

For the foregoing reasons, there is a need for a disposable lighter that is safe for use by blind or sight-impaired users, and easy to use for unimpaired users who need to operate a lighter in the dark.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a disposable lighter for blind or sight-impaired users. It is an object of the invention to provide a disposable lighter having a tank configured to permit users to know the orientation of the lighter by feel of the tank alone.

A disposable lighter having the features of the present invention comprises an elongated fuel tank with a flame ignition mechanism mounted on its top side. As shown in FIG. 1, an example of the flame ignition mechanism is comprised of a conventional strike wheel located in proximity to a gas lever. The gas lever is mounted on the top side of the tank and in proximity to the front side of the tank. The strike wheel is mounted over a flint (not shown). The flame ignition mechanism is positioned in proximity to a valve that is connected to the fuel tank and arranged to permit the flame ignition mechanism to ignite the fuel when the strike wheel and gas lever are actuated.

As shown in FIG. 1, the tank has a surface with at least two elevations. The first elevation forms substantially the front side of tank and the second elevation wraps over the front side and back side of the tank. The difference in elevations between front and back sides of the tank permits the user to know the proper orientation to use the lighter by feel alone.

Further, as shown in FIG. 2, the first and second elevations form channels or furrows on the back side of the tank, which provide for better gripping of the lighter.

A lighter according to the present invention, having a tank with at least two elevations to permit users to know the orientation of the lighter by feel of the tank alone and to provide better grip, can employ a flame mechanism based on a piezoelectric unit instead of a strike wheel. As shown in FIG. 7, a flame ignition mechanism of this embodiment is mounted on the top side of the tank, comprising a button that communicates with a piezoelectric unit (not shown). A valve (not shown) is connected to the fuel supply in the tank and arranged to permit the ignition mechanism to ignite the fuel when the piezoelectric unit is actuated. FIGS. 7-10 show a tank with a surface having at least two elevations, wherein the difference in elevations between front and back sides of the tank permits the user to know the proper orientation to use the lighter by feel alone.

A lighter according to another embodiment of the invention comprises an elongated tank for holding fuel therein, having a top side, a front side, and a back side. The tank has a surface comprising at least two different materials having distinguishable tactile characteristics. One material is located in proximity to front side of the tank and a second material is located in proximity to the back side the of tank. The differences in materials between front and said back surfaces of the tank permit the user not only to know the proper orientation to use the lighter by feel alone, but also provide the user with better grip of the lighter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

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

FIG. 2 is a side view of an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a back view of an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a front view of an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a top view of an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 is a bottom view of an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 7 is a perspective of another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 8 is a side view of an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 9 is a back view of an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 10 is a front view of an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 11 is a top view of an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 12 is a bottom view of an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 13 is a perspective of another embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference to the accompanying drawings, a lighter (1) in accordance with an embodiment of the invention comprises a tank (10) for holding fuel therein. The tank (10) is typically elongated as shown in FIG. 1. Tank (10) has a top side (12), a front side (14), and a back side (16). A flame ignition mechanism (20) is mounted on top side (12) of tank (10). The flame ignition mechanism (20) is positioned in proximity to a valve (not shown), which is connected to the fuel in tank (10) and arranged to permit the flame ignition mechanism (20) to ignite the fuel. As shown in FIG. 5, an aperture (30) of the valve is positioned on the top side (12) of tank (10) and in proximity to the back side (16) of tank (10).

Tank (10) has a surface (40) with at least a first elevation (42) and a second elevation (44). The first elevation (42) forms substantially the front side (14) of tank (10). The second elevation (44) wraps over the front side (14) and back side (16) of tank (10). The difference in elevations between front side (14) and back side (16) of tank (10) permits the user to know the proper orientation to use the lighter by feel alone.

A lighter according to another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 7-12. A lighter according to this embodiment of the invention comprises an elongated tank (110) for holding fuel having a top side (112), a front side (114), and a back side (116). A flame ignition mechanism (120) is located on top side (112) of said tank (110). A valve (not shown) is connected to a fuel supply in tank (110) and arranged to permit ignition mechanism (120) to ignite the fuel. The valve is positioned on top side (112) of tank (110) and positioned in proximity to the front side (114) of tank (110).

Tank (110) has a surface (140) comprising at least two different materials having distinguishable tactile characteristics. One material (142) is located in proximity to front side (114) of tank (110) and a second material (144) is located in proximity to back side (116) of tank (110), whereby the differences in materials between front and said back surfaces of tank permit the user to know the proper orientation to use the lighter by feel alone.

Yet another embodiment of the invention is shown in FIG. 13. A lighter according to this embodiment of the invention comprises a tank having one elevation made of at least two different materials having distinguishable tactile characteristics.

In either or both embodiments of the invention, the first and second elevations form channels or furrows on the back side of the tank, which provide for better gripping of the lighter. The different materials of the surfaces also improve gripping.

This invention is not to be limited by the embodiment shown in the drawings and described in the description, which is given by way of example and not of limitation, but only in accordance with the scope of the appended claims.