Title:
APPAREL HAVING REMOVABLY SUPPORTING COMMUNICATION ELEMENTS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Apparel comprising communications elements which are removably attachable to the apparel, and which may be dynamic in nature. The apparel may comprise fasteners such hook and loop material, snap fasteners, buttons, magnets, and others. The communications elements may comprise graphic elements such as letters, numbers, symbols, and depictions of people, animals, recognizable objects, light emitting elements, sound emitting elements, and any combination of the foregoing elements. The communications elements may comprise corresponding fasteners that enable attachment to and ready removal from the apparel. Light and sound emitting elements may be provided with variable output features, such as variation in light and sound levels, frequency of intermittent operation, and the like. Control of variation may be at the discretion of the person wearing the apparel bearing such light and sound emitting elements.



Inventors:
Lee, Natasha (Sunland, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/618593
Publication Date:
03/11/2010
Filing Date:
11/13/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/244
International Classes:
A41D1/00; A41D27/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KINSAUL, ANNA KATHRYN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ITALIA IP (BURBANK, CA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. In combination, an article of apparel and selectively removable associated communications elements, comprising an article of apparel having an outer surface and at least one first fastener disposed selectively to engage and release an object; and at least one communications element having at least one second fastener which is engageably compatible with the first fastener, wherein at least one of the at least one communications element is disposed to emit at least one of light and sound.

2. The combination of claim 1, wherein at least one said communications element is disposed to emit light at a plurality of selectively variably characteristics.

3. The combination of claim 2, wherein the communications element is disposed to emit light in intermittent pulses, and the selectively variable characteristics comprise frequency of pulses of emitted light.

4. The combination of claim 2, further comprising a manual controller disposed on one of the article of apparel and a said communications element, wherein the manual controller is disposed to control variation of the selectively variable characteristics of emission of light from the communications element.

5. The combination of claim 4, wherein the manual controller is a pushbutton.

6. The combination of claim 1, wherein the first fastener comprises a plurality of strips of hook and loop material disposed on the exterior surface of the article of apparel, and wherein each said strip of hook and loop material is spaced apart from every other strip of hook and loop material.

7. The combination of claim 2, wherein the communications element comprises an electrical power source and at least one light emitting diode connected to the electrical power source.

8. The combination of claim 1, wherein at least one said communications element is disposed to emit sound at a plurality of selectively variably characteristics.

9. The combination of claim 8, wherein the selectively variable characteristics comprise frequencies of emitted sounds.

10. The combination of claim 9, further comprising a manual controller disposed on one of the article of apparel and a said communications element, wherein the manual controller is disposed to control variation of the frequency of emitted sounds from the communications element.

11. The combination of claim 10, wherein the manual controller is a pushbutton.

12. In combination, an article of apparel and selectively removable associated communications elements, comprising an article of apparel having an outer surface and at least one first fastener disposed selectively to engage and release an object; and a plurality of communications elements each having at least one second fastener which is engageably compatible with the first fastener, wherein the communications elements are dimensioned and configured to be mountable simultaneously to the article of apparel.

13. The combination of claim 12, wherein each one of the communications elements is one of the group comprising letters, numbers, graphic representations of known objects, and conventional symbolic shapes.

14. The combination of claim 12, wherein the communications elements comprise a selection of letters which when appropriately ordered spell out words.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to apparel, and more particularly, to apparel having fasteners for removably mounting communication elements such as indicia and light and sound emitting elements to the apparel.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Apparel bearing communications elements such as lettering and light emitting elements are known. For example, messages have long been printed on apparel. Also, appliqués bearing messages have been sewn to articles of apparel. Flashing lights have been incorporated into apparel such as shoes. Apparel has been provided with fasteners such as hook and loop material.

There exists room in the art of apparel for more dynamic communications to be incorporated into apparel.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides communications elements for apparel, which communications elements are both removable attachable to apparel and are more dynamic in nature than previously known communications elements which have been used with apparel. The apparel may have incorporated thereinto fasteners such a hook and loop material, snap fasteners, buttons, magnets, and the like. Communications elements, which may take the form of graphic elements such as letters, numbers, symbols, and depictions of people, animals, and recognizable objects, as well as light emitting elements, sound emitting elements, and any combination of the foregoing elements, may have corresponding fasteners that enable attachment to and ready removal from the apparel.

Light and sound emitting elements may be provided with variable output features, such as variation in light and sound levels, frequency of intermittent operation, and the like. Control of variation may be at the discretion of the person wearing the apparel bearing such light and sound emitting elements.

It is an object of the invention to provide improved elements and arrangements thereof by apparatus for the purposes described which is inexpensive, dependable, and fully effective in accomplishing its intended purposes.

These and other objects of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Various objects, features, and attendant advantages of the present invention will become more fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a front view of a shirt according to at least one aspect of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a front view of devices in the form of letters which may be attached to apparel such as the shirt of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a front view of a device configured as a symbol such as a star, which may be attached to apparel such as the shirt of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a front view of another device configured as a symbol, such as a heart, which may be attached to apparel such as the shirt of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a front view of another device, configured to depict a tool in silhouette, which may be attached to apparel such as the shirt of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a front view of another device, configured to depict a horse shoe in silhouette, which may be attached to apparel such as the shirt of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a front view of another device, configured to depict crossed swords in silhouette, which may be attached to apparel such as the shirt of FIG. 1.

FIG. 8 is a front view of another device, configured to depict crossed tennis rackets in silhouette, which may be attached to apparel such as the shirt of FIG. 1.

FIG. 9 is a front view of another device, configured to depict the Eiffel Tower in silhouette, which may be attached to apparel such as the shirt of FIG. 1.

FIG. 10 is a front view of another device, configured to depict the head of an animal in silhouette, which may be attached to apparel such as the shirt of FIG. 1.

FIG. 11 is an electrical schematic of illuminating elements which may be incorporated into a device such as those shown in FIGS. 2-10 which may be attached to apparel such as the shirt of FIG. 1.

FIG. 12 is an electrical schematic of audible elements which may be incorporated into a device such as those shown in FIGS. 2-10 which may be attached to apparel such as the shirt of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring first to FIG. 1, according to at least one aspect of the invention, there is shown a shirt 10 which may form part of a combination including an article of apparel such as the shirt 10, and one or more selectively removable associated communications elements, to be described hereinafter. The shirt 10 may have an outer surface 12 bearing a plurality of fasteners 14A, 14B, 14C for engaging and releasing other objects. In the example of FIG. 1, the fasteners 14A, 14B, 14C each comprise a strip of one type of hook and loop material. The precise type of fastener is not critical to the invention, and others such as buttons, snap fasteners, magnets embedded in or attached to the shirt 10, and others may be used thereinstead. As shown the three fasteners 14A, 14B, 14C are arrayed as parallel, spaced apart strips.

At least one communication element is provided for releasable attachment to the shirt 10. A communication element, for the purposes of this invention, is a device which bears a message capable of being communicated to others in the vicinity of the shirt 10 by direct observation or hearing, and which comprises a second fastener which is engageably compatible with and releasable from the fastener of the shirt 10, such as the fasteners 14A, 14B, 14C. In the example of hook and loop fastener material, the fasteners 14A, 14B, 14C may comprise loop elements. The engageably compatible fastener of the communication element would in this case be hook or barb elements.

A communication element may be configured as a letter, such as the letters 16A, 16B, 16C shown configured in silhouette in FIG. 2 for example. Each communication element such as the communication elements 16A, 16B, 16C may have hook or barb elements 18 of hook and loop fastener material located on the rear side of the respective communication element 16A, 16B, or 16C. A communication element such as the communication elements 16A, 16B, 16C may be removably mounted to the shirt 10 by contacting the fasteners 14A, 14B, 14C with the corresponding fasteners 16A, 16B, 16C.

A single communication element such as any of the communication elements 16A, 16B, 16C may comprise not only individual letters as depicted in FIG. 2, but may comprise plural letters, words, partial words, and the like (these options are not shown). Numerals, letters of foreign alphabets, and other recognizable symbols may also be used in place of letters of the Roman alphabet. It should be understood that depiction of the specific letters “U”, “S”, and “A” in FIG. 2 is only representative, and that any letter or any combination or number of letters may be selected as the subject matter of one or more communication elements such as the communication elements 16A, 16B, 16C. For example, letters provided by plural communications elements may comprise a selection of letters which when appropriately ordered spell out words.

A communications element may comprise any graphic depiction that when observed, conveys a recognizable thought or concept. Any well known symbol may be utilized in place of or in addition to letters, numerals, and the like. Communications elements may be configured as that 20 depicting a conventional symbolic shape such as a star (FIG. 3) or as that 22 depicting a heart (FIG. 4). Graphic representations of well known objects may also be the subject of communications elements according to further aspects of the invention. For example a communications element 24 may depict a hammer in silhouette (FIG. 5). Another communications element 26 may depict a horseshoe (FIG. 6). Another communications element 28 may depict crossed swords (FIG. 7). Still another communications element 30 may depict sports equipment such as crossed tennis racquets (FIG. 8). A communications element 32 may depict a famous landmark such as the Eiffel Tower (FIG. 9). A communications element 34 may depict an animal, such as the head of cattle seen in silhouette in FIG. 10. Many other objects or symbols may be the subject of other communications elements (not shown) according to the present invention. Subject matter of other communication elements may include known logos, names, or other graphic depictions. Regardless of the subject matter selected for depiction, a communications element such as the communications elements 16A, 16B, 16C, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, and 34 will be understood to be dimensioned and configured so as to be mountable on an associated article of apparel such as the shirt 10. Mounting may be of individual communications elements, or alternatively, of plural communications elements which are dimensioned and configured to be mountable simultaneously to the article of apparel, such as the shirt 10. Alternatively stated, communications elements are sized so that where plural communications elements are mounted on the apparel as a group, they are appropriately sized so as to fit in the available space on the front surface 12 or other surface of the apparel which has been selected for displaying the content of the communications element or elements.

It is contemplated that a communications element according to any aspect of the present invention may be substantially flat and of only nominal thickness, such as an embroidered applique (not shown). The communications element may have additional thickness where necessary to accommodate apparatus for emitting light or sound (or, of course, both).

FIG. 11 shows an electrical schematic of apparatus which may be incorporated into a communications element associated with the shirt 10, such as a communications element which in other ways may be essentially similar to the communications elements 16A, 16B, 16C, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, and 34. The apparatus of FIG. 11 includes an electrical power source such as a cell or battery 36, a controller such as a pulse width modulated controller 38 disposed to transmits electrical power in pulses, an illumination source such as a light emitting diode 40, and a manual controller such as a pushbutton 42. The battery 36, the controller 38, the light emitting diode 40, and the pushbutton 42 are mutually connected by suitable circuitry generally indicated as lines 44. Circuitry is shown in representative capacity herein, and will be understood to include numbers and arrangements of individual electrical conductors, electrical insulation, and additional electrical components as may be necessary to achieve operability as described herein. This applies both to the circuitry shown in FIG. 11 and also to the circuitry shown in FIG. 12.

Referring specifically to FIG. 11, the controller 38 may be of any suitable type which causes the light emitting diode 40 to emit light at a plurality of selectively variably characteristics. In the specific example of FIG. 11, connecting electrical power to the light emitting diode 40 in intermittent pulses will result in a flashing effect visible to observers. The pushbutton 42 may directly make and break the circuit to effect flashing, or alternatively, the pushbutton 42 may be replaced by another pushbutton (not shown) which is mounted on the controller 38 and controls pulse timing or other characteristics of electrical signals to the light emitting diode so that a desired effect is achieved. Illustratively, frequency of pulses and hence of flashing may be increased and decreased at will by pressing a pushbutton (not shown). In the scheme actually depicted, flashing may be manually controlled as to frequency and also timing and duration of illumination of the light emitting diode 40. For example, a skilled operator could utilize the light emitting diode 40 to transmit Morse code signals by appropriate manipulation of the pushbutton 42. Of course, it would be possible to incorporate a suitable microprocessor (not shown) which controls pulsing of electrical power, with the pushbutton 42 controlling the microprocessor to select a desired flashing scheme.

Other illumination characteristics which could be controllably varied may include brightness, selection of color or hue, and focus or direction of projection of light.

FIG. 12 shows an arrangement wherein illumination is replaced by sound. That is, a communications element, such as a communications element which in other ways may be essentially similar to the communications elements 16A, 16B, 16C, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, and 34, may be fitted with a generator of sounds, such as a music or speech synthesizer 46. In the arrangement of FIG. 12, power may be supplied by a cell or battery 48. Power from the cell or battery 48 may be pulsed or otherwise controlled by a suitable controller 50, which may for example, be similar to the controller 38 of FIG. 11. Power passing through circuitry 52 may be controlled in on-off fashion by a pushbutton 54. As with the arrangement of FIG. 11, the controller 50 may have an integral pushbutton or a microprocessor (not shown) for controlling sounds emitted by the music or speech synthesizer 46.

The music or speech synthesizer 46 may be disposed to emit sound at a plurality of selectively variably characteristics. One such variable characteristic is frequency or timing of sounds. For example, a communications element depicting a heart, such as the communications element 22, could be modified to have the circuitry shown in FIG. 12. The speech synthesizer 46 could be disposed to issue the sound of a beating heart. Depressing a manual controller such as the pushbutton 54 could increase frequency of audible simulated heart beats emitted from the communications element, as desired by the user.

The shirt depicted in FIG. 1 represents one of many examples of apparel which may be improved according to the present invention. The present invention may be applied to any type of apparel, not only the shirt as shown and described herein. For example, the invention may be applied to pants, sweaters, socks, any foundation garment, shoes, coats, protective apparel, hats, uniforms, gloves, and others (none shown).

Although the invention has been described in terms of certain components being referred to in either the singular or the plural, other arrangements are possible. For example, it is to be understood that due to the conceptual description presented herein, components presented in the singular may be provided in the plural. Illustratively, the light emitting diode 40 of FIG. 11 may be replaced by plural light emitting diodes (not shown), which may be either individually controlled or controlled as a group.

The present invention is susceptible to modifications and variations which may be introduced thereto without departing from the inventive concepts. For example, if desired, some electrical components of the described circuitry could be incorporated into the apparel, such as the shirt 10. The circuitry could be modified such that electrical continuity is assured between the apparel and each communications element requiring power to operate. Illustratively, metallic or other conductive snap fasteners could be used both for mechanical mounting of a communications element or of plural communications elements to an associated article of apparel, and also to complete electrical circuitry spanning the communications element or elements and the associated article of apparel.

While the present invention has been described in connection with what is considered the most practical and preferred embodiment, it is to be understood that the present invention is not to be limited to the disclosed arrangements, but is intended to cover various arrangements which are included within the spirit and scope of the broadest possible interpretation of the appended claims so as to encompass all modifications and equivalent arrangements which are possible.