Liquid pourer with illumination efects
A liquid pourer for a container of liquid includes a circuit actuable in response to inversion of the bottle during pouring to activate one or more LEDs that illuminate the liquid in the container.
This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/683,792 entitled “Light Emitting Liquid Pourer,” filed May 24, 2005. The disclosure of this provisional patent application is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present pertains invention pertains to a method and apparatus for pouring liquids with pourers of the type that are commonly used with bottles of alcoholic beverages and, more particularly, to illuminating the liquid in the bottle during pouring.
2. Description of the Related Art
Examples of pourers are described and disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,123,225, the entire contents of which are expressly incorporated herein by reference. An example of a pourer having an illuminating device for the contents of a container is found in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2005/0167445.SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention, in its preferred embodiment, is a liquid pourer provided with an illuminating device which includes an electronic assembly, a switch, one or more light sources such as light emitting diodes (LEDs), a power source, and/or optical fibers, all encased in or secured to the pourer. In the preferred embodiment the pourer is a measured pourer of the type commonly used by barkeeps for pouring a predetermined amount (e.g., one ounce) of alcohol from a bottle. The light sources are actuated as liquid is being poured from the pourer to illuminate the liquid in the bottle and/or in the outflow. The result is an eye-appealing illumination display that is enhanced by the movement in the liquid.
The above features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon consideration of the following definitions, descriptions and descriptive figures of specific embodiments thereof wherein like reference numerals in the various figures are utilized to designate like components. While these descriptions go into specific details of the invention, it should be understood that variations may and do exist and would be apparent to those skilled in the art based on the descriptions herein.BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The following detailed explanations of drawings and of the preferred embodiments reveal the methods and apparatus of the present invention.
The primary elements in a preferred embodiment of the invention are:
an electronic assembly including an integrated circuit 10 for receiving power from a voltage source (e.g., three batteries) 11 disposed in an electronic component housing member 13;
a light source comprising one or more LEDs 15 coupled to the electronic assembly in order to emit light; and
a toggle or actuator switch 17 coupled to the electronic assembly in order to selectively apply actuation voltage from the voltage source to the light source. Switch 17 is typically of the type that is actuated by motion (e.g., tipping of the bottle during pouring), but may alternatively be of the type that is actuated by sound, vibration, voice, light sensitivity, touch, change in resistance, ultrasonic signal, radio frequency (RF) signal, infra-red signal and/or temperature.
The light source preferably comprises three light emitting diodes (LEDs) 15 of various compositions and colors, including multicolor, and may alternatively comprise surface mount lasers or any other light source suitable for the functions described herein.
Also housed in member 13 is a magnetically actuable single-pole double-throw (SPDT) power switch 19 that functions to selectively open the electrical circuit and prevent actuation of the light source when a magnet 18 is positioned adjacent the housing member 13 near that switch. The magnet 18 is used to prevent actuation of the LEDs during shipment and storage of the assembly. Switch 19 includes a metal member that magnetically attracts magnet 18 and holds it in place against housing 13. When the assembly is installed on a bottle the magnet is removed from the unit.
Housing member 13 is made of hard plastic material and is waterproof to protect the electrical components housed therein from exposure to liquid. Housing member 15 is made of two generally cylindrical segments. A lower segment 13a is of larger diameter and houses the light source 15, circuitry 10 and batteries 11 as well as a portion of actuator 17. The outside diameter of lower portion 13a must be large enough to house the electrical components but smaller than the neck of the bottle into which it will be inserted when the assembly is in use. In addition, at least the bottom portion of segment 13a is transparent or translucent so that light emitted from light source 15 is transmitted through the housing wall toward liquid in a bottle on which the assembly is mounted. The upper cylindrical segment 13b is of smaller diameter and extends axially upward from segment 13a with its axis laterally offset from the axis of segment 13a. Segment 13b houses the other portion of actuator switch 17 as well as power switch 19 located near the upper end of the segment.
Connecting member 20 is made of a soft rubber member and serves to connect the housing member 13 to the pouring spout 30. Connecting member 20 includes two side by side hollow cylinders 21 and 23 having parallel axes and joined along a common edge. The shorter cylinder has a larger diameter and receives the upper housing segment 13b of housing member 13 in a tight resilient fit. The longer cylinder 23 has the smaller diameter and is inserted into the input tube 31 of the pourer spout 30 in a tight resilient fit. The outer periphery of the connecting member 20 is generally oval-shaped.
Pourer spout 30 includes an input tube 31 at its lower end that is extended in flow communication with an output tube 32 in a configuration that is conventional in pourer spouts. A filter or screen 33 is positioned at the outlet end of tube 32. Outlet tube 32 is bent at an angle of approximately 30° from vertical to facilitate pouring of liquid. A vent tube 34 is formed in the same structure and extends from the ambient environment to inside the bottle to deliver vent air that replaces poured liquid to facilitate pouring in a conventional manner. A laterally extending annular flange 35 is disposed exteriorly of the pourer spout 30 at the juncture of tubes 31 and 32.
A cap 40 is in the form of an inverted cup with a central opening through which input tube 31 extends downwardly. The annular peripheral wall of the cap extends downwardly in spaced relation to tube 31. An annular stopper 43 takes the form of a rubber or soft plastic resilient hollow shaft disposed in a tight fit concentrically about tube 31. A plurality of axially spaced annular ridges extends radially outward from the shaft to a diameter slightly larger than the inner diameter of the bottle with which the assembly is to be used. The stopper thus serves as a seal between the interior and exterior of the bottle.
In operation, when power switch 19 is open due to the presence of magnet i3 adjacent the switch at the exterior of housing 13, current through the integrated circuit 10 is blocked. If the magnet is removed, power switch 19 is closed, thereby enabling the circuit in a standby mode. Typically, the assembly is inserted in the neck of a bottle with the pourer spout extending upwardly. When the bottle is inverted, as in pouring contents therefrom, actuator switch 17 is closed and activates an oscillator in integrated circuit 10. The oscillator output signal causes the LEDs to be energized in a periodic manner, and the resulting flashes of light are directed toward the content of the bottle to produce the desired effect. If plural LEDs and produce respective differently colored light, the visual effects are particularly appealing.
The pourer is preferably a controlled amount pourer of a conventional type, but may alternatively be a free flowing liquid pourer. The pourers may also include a built in dust cover. The housing 13 encases the power source, electronic assembly, switch, and light emitting source, and is also waterproof.
The housing may be made of any of the following materials: plastic, metal (such as stainless steel), fiberglass, composites, or any other material suitable for the functions described herein.
Power for the light source is preferably derived from one or more included voltage sources which may, without limitation, be of the following types: direct current, alternating current, rechargeable batteries, solar power devices, and induction power devices (such as recharging a capacitor through induction). The voltage source can be located anywhere in the unit.
Illumination effects produced by the invention include one or more of the following, without limitation: moving light, individual alphanumeric characters, words, random pattern effects, strobe effects, streaming effects, phrases, names, logos, designs, which effects may be customized for various applications. The illumination effects may also be time sequenced to produce timed patterns as well as timing for duration of illumination after the switch has returned to the “off” position. The light sources may be located in any convenient location.
The illumination source may include optical fiber elements of the same or different lengths.
The present invention may be used in a number of applications such as, but not limited to: novelty items, toys, safety devices, medical devices, textiles (including clothing), food and beverages, and measuring liquid volume and/or liquid levels.
The invention has application for the following: bottles, liquor bottles, wine bottles, champagne bottles, other beverage containers, vases, flower pots, decorative items, toys, plates, coasters, drinking glasses/cups, pitchers, drinking fountains, soda fountains, taps, beer taps, water fountains, drinking straws, bottle stoppers, corks, caps, wine saver, wine pourers, champagne saver, champagne pourers, can covers, and other such applications.
Having described preferred embodiments of new and improved liquid pourer with illumination effects, it is believed that other modifications, variations and changes will be suggested to those skilled in the art in view of the teachings set forth herein. It is therefore to be understood that all such variations, modifications and changes are believed to fall within the scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims. Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation.
1. A liquid pourer adapted for attachment to a container of liquid comprising:
- an electronic component housing;
- electronic components disposed in said electronic component housing and including a voltage source, and an integrated circuit connected for receiving current from said voltage source;
- a light source disposed in said component housing and comprising at least one LED coupled to the electronic assembly in order to emit light in response to actuation of said integrated circuit; and
- an actuator switch disposed in said component housing and coupled to the integrated circuit to selectively apply actuation voltage from the voltage source to the light source in response to inversion of said housing;
- wherein said light source is positioned to direct its emitted light into the liquid in said container.
2. The liquid pourer of claim 1 wherein said actuator switch is of the type that is actuated by movement thereof such that inversion of said housing closes said actuator switch.
3. The liquid pourer of claim 1 further comprising a selectively actuable power switch disposed in said component housing to selectively block and unblock application of voltage from said voltage source to said integrated circuit during transportation and storage of said pourer.
4. A method of pouring a liquid from a bottle comprising the step of illuminating the poured liquid from a location inside the bottle during pouring.
5. A pouring spout assembly adapted to be employed in a pour opening of a container such as a bottle, said assembly comprising:
- a pouring passage defined through said assembly for conducting liquid out from said container;
- an electronic component housing disposed in said assembly and having at least one boundary wall portion capable of transmitting light therethrough;
- a light source disposed in said component housing and responsive to an actuation signal applied thereto for emitting light through said boundary wall portion;
- a voltage source disposed in said component housing;
- an electronic circuit disposed in said component housing and responsive to voltage applied thereto for applying said actuation signal to said light source; and
- an actuator switch disposed in said component housing and coupled to the integrated circuit to selectively apply voltage from the voltage source to the electronic circuit in response to inversion of said assembly.
6. The pouring spout assembly of claim 5 wherein said component housing is water-tight sealed.
7. The pouring spout assembly of claim 6 wherein said actuator switch is of the type that is actuated by movement thereof such that inversion of said bottle closes said actuator switch.
8. The pouring spout assembly of claim 6 further comprising a selectively actuable power switch disposed in said component housing to selectively block and unblock application of voltage from said voltage source to said integrated circuit during transportation and storage of said assembly.
9. The pouring spout assembly of claim 6 wherein said light source comprises a plurality of LEDs, each LED emitting a different color.
10. The pouring spout assembly of claim 9 wherein the integrated circuit includes an oscillator for cyclically individually actuating said LEDs.
International Classification: B65D 5/66 (20060101);