SOFT BODY TOY WITH PRESSURE SENSING
A system and method for detecting pressure within a soft toy is presented. A soft toy has a soft toy body and an air bladder inside the soft toy body. A pressure sensing logic internal to the soft toy body measures a pressure of air inside the air bladder. When the pressure sensing logic measures air inside the air bladder is within a predetermined pressure range, control logic in the soft toy generates at least one output to at least one output device mounted in or on the soft toy.
1. Field of Invention
The current invention relates generally to apparatus, systems and methods related to toys. More particularly, the apparatus, systems and methods relate to soft body toys. Specifically, the apparatus, systems and methods provide for soft body toys with pressure sensing.
2. Description of Related Art
Stuffed toys are popular with a wide age group of people. For example, small children often like to play with stuffed toys resembling stuffed bears, horses, automobiles, etc. These stuffed toys are sized so that a child can carry, hug and otherwise play with them. A soft toy can provide a sense of safety and security to its owner.
Conventional stuffed toys can suffer from the problem that once they are fabricated they cannot be changed. A toy that does not change or interact with its owner will soon become boring to the child/owner. More specifically, since the conventional stuffed toys do not effectively communicate by themselves with a small child (or other persons) that interacts with that toy, the owner of that toy may soon become bored with it. When a small child becomes bored with playing with a soft stuffed toy, it becomes a mere ornament. What is needed is a better stuffed toy.SUMMARY
The preferred embodiment of the invention includes a soft toy. The soft toy may be a stuffed toy and can take the form of an animal, character, a doll, a pillow, a cushion or the like. The soft toy has a soft toy body and an air bladder inside the soft toy body. A pressure sensing logic internal to the soft toy body measures the pressure of air inside the air bladder. When the pressure sensing logic measures that air inside the air bladder is within a predetermined pressure range, control logic in the soft toy generates at least one output to at least one output device mounted in or on the soft toy.
Another configuration of the preferred embodiment is a method for generating outputs on/from a soft toy. The method measures the toy pressure within the soft toy. A determination is then made if the pressure crosses a threshold pressure. When the pressure is determined to have crossed the threshold pressure, the method generates at least one output from the soft toy.
In another configuration of the method, the air pressure is a first pressure, the threshold pressure is a first threshold pressure and the at least one output is a first output. Later, after the first pressure is measured, a second pressure measurement is made within the soft toy. A determination is made if a second pressure crossed a second threshold pressure that is different than the first threshold pressure. When the second pressure crossed the second threshold pressure, the method generates at least one second output from the soft toy that is different than the first output.BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
One or more preferred embodiments that illustrate the best mode(s) are set forth in the drawings and in the following description. The appended claims particularly and distinctly point out and set forth the invention.
The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of the specification, illustrate various example methods, and other example embodiments of various aspects of the invention. It will be appreciated that the illustrated element boundaries (e.g., boxes, groups of boxes, or other shapes) in the figures represent one example of the boundaries. One of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that in some examples one element may be designed as multiple elements or that multiple elements may be designed as one element. In some examples, an element shown as an internal component of another element may be implemented as an external component and vice versa. Furthermore, elements may not be drawn to scale.
Similar numbers refer to similar parts throughout the drawings.DETAILED DESCRIPTION
The soft toy 1 includes a main body 7. The main body 7 has a front side 9, a top side 11, a left side 13, a right side 15, a bottom side 17 and back side 19 that is somewhat rectangular in shape. The main body 7 is filled with stuffing 38 (
To make the toy 1 more attractive, it can be decorated with other features. For example, the soft toy of
As best seen in
The air bladder 40 is connected with an air bladder line 41 to an air pressure sensor 46 that is connected to printed circuit board (PCB) 42. The air bladder line 41 is inserted into the opening 72 in the top edge 64 of the air bladder 40. The air bladder line 41 is preferably formed out of flexible tube material that has a hollow hose like central portion for delivering air from the air bladder 40 to the PCB 42. The pressure sensor can be at least partially mechanic in nature, for example, pressure may compress a spring and the pressure sensor 46 may detect the deflection of the spring. The pressure sensor 46 an also be electronic in nature where electronic circuits can detect the pressure of the air bladder or the pressure sensor 46 can be a combination and mechanical and electric components that cooperate together to detect pressure and it can include other components or be another type of pressure sensor.
Other components and devices can be mounted on or connected to the PCB 42. For example, a battery housing 44 can be connected to the PCB 42 via a connector 48. The battery housing 44 provides a housing for batteries that power components and logic on the PCB 42 or that are connected to it. The output device 3 that is a display 5 in the preferred embodiment is electrically connected to the PCB 42 with a connector 51. The connector 51 may be a bundle of electrical wires carrying a variety of signals. The display 5 includes a screen 52 that may be an LCD screen. The screen 52 forms part of the top side 11 of the main body so that it is not covered with any fabric or other material. A housing 50 contains the internal components of the LCD display 5 and the screen 52 is mounted to the top of the display housing 50. A speaker 53 (or piezo) can also be connected to or mounted on the PCB 42. Other components 54 may also be mounted on the PCB 42 and may include resistors, capacitors, integrated chips (ICs), operational amplifiers, crystals, and other electrical components. As a whole, the PCB and the devices connected to it form a pressure sensing logic 56.
“Logic”, as used herein, includes but is not limited to hardware, firmware, software and/or combinations of each to perform a function(s) or an action(s), and/or to cause a function or action from another logic, method, and/or system. For example, based on a desired application or need, logic may include a software controlled microprocessor, discrete logic like an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC), a programmed logic device, a memory device containing instructions, or the like. Logic may include one or more gates, combinations of gates, or other circuit components. Logic may also be fully embodied as software. Where multiple logics are described, it may be possible to incorporate the multiple logics into one physical logic. Similarly, where a single logic is described, it may be possible to distribute that single logic between multiple physical logics.
The air pressure sensor S1, 46 receives voltage VuC that is proportional to the pressure it senses in the air bladder 40 and outputs V+out and V-out to resistors R2 and R3 respectively. These resisters R2, R3 along with operational amplifier U3 and resistors R1 and R4 condition V+out and V−out into a voltage format that is expected by controller U2.
A controller U2 controls the output device 3 which in the preferred embodiment is a display 5/LCD (U4). The controller U2 implements a solid state machine that determines what actions the soft toy 1 performs and when. It creates the waveform for PZ1 to chirp and it drives the LCD (U4). Finally, it converts the analog representation of the pressure into a digital value that the display 5 can understand so that the display 5 can display the proper graphics 58 on the display 5. PZ1 is a piezo type of speaker that can produce tones and other sounds.
Example methods may be better appreciated with reference to flow diagrams. While for purposes of simplicity of explanation, the illustrated methodologies are shown and described as a series of blocks, it is to be appreciated that the methodologies are not limited by the order of the blocks, as some blocks can occur in different orders and/or concurrently with other blocks from that shown and described. Moreover, less than all the illustrated blocks may be required to implement an example methodology. Blocks may be combined or separated into multiple components. Furthermore, additional and/or alternative methodologies can employ additional, not illustrated blocks.
Next, a child (or any person) will begin to squeeze or hug the soft toy and as shown in
The method 700 begins by measuring a pressure within the soft toy, at 702. For example, when the pressure sense logic 56 detects a change in pressure it can move from a sleep state to an active state. Once everything is powered up the air pressure sensor 46 can measure the pressure of the air 190 within the air bladder 40.
Next, the pressure sense logic 56 can determine if the pressure crossed a pressure threshold, at 704. If the pressure in the air bladder 40 crossed the pressure threshold, the method 700 generates an output from the soft toy. For example, method 700 can display the graphical images 58 on the display 5 as shown in
In other configurations, the method 700 can output first outputs when the pressure crosses a first pressure threshold (or is in a first pressure range) and output second outputs when the pressure crosses a second pressure threshold (or is in a second pressure range) and so on. The method 700 can generate the first outputs for at least a fixed amount of time before changing them to correspond to another pressure threshold. When all pressure is removed from the air bladder 40 it can begin to re-expand.
At block 808, a decision is made as to if the pressure is at a first level or a second level. For example, these two (or more) levels could correspond to crossing a pressure threshold or to two (or more) pressure ranges. If the pressure is at the second level, then the method generates outputs, at 810. For example, an LCD may be illuminated with appropriate graphics, a speaker may generate audio output and/or other outputs can be generated. Another pressure is then read, at 812.
A decision is made, at block 814, to determine if the latest pressure reading is the highest pressure reading. If it is not the highest pressure reading, a determination is made, at 816, to determine if a timer has expired. In the preferred embodiment, the timer is a three second timer but it can be other values. The idea is to detect if the toy is still being squeezed after three seconds (or any fixed time period) and if it is not then it will go back to sleep. If the timer has not expired then flow returns to block 812 where the pressure is re-measured. If the timer has expired, then the output(s) are turned off, at 818, and the highest pressure record is reset, at 820. The pressure sense logic 56 and outputs 3 go to sleep, at 822, and enter a wait state, at 824, before they are again re-woken, at 804.
If, at 814, the latest pressure reading is determined to be the highest reading, then the highest reading value is recorded and updated, at 826. After that, appropriate output(s) are generated, at 828. The timer is then reset, at 830, and the method 800 flow returns to block 816 to determine when the timer expires.
The head 82 of the soft toy bear 80 includes two ears 94 and a face 96. The face 96 includes a pair of eyes 98 and eyebrows 100 as well has a nose/mouth region 102 that may be protruding outward from the face 96 in a forward direction. The nose/mouth region 102 includes a nose 104 and a mouth 106. The soft toy bear 80 can be sewed together with fabric with seams 108 formed where two or more pieces of fabric are connected together.
The soft bear toy 80 can also have a speaker or piezo similar to the soft toy 1 discussed above. The soft bear toy 80 would also have a bladder and a PCB with area pressure sensing logic similar to the soft toy discussed above and because it is similar it is not redrawn nor discussed again here. Of course, other output devices could be used to generate other outputs based on the pressure of the air bladder in the soft toy bear 80.
As discussed with reference to the preferred embodiment above, circuitry within the soft toy bear 80 can detected how much pressure is being exerted on the air bladder within the soft toy bear 80. Different messages and graphics can be displayed on the display 92 in response to the pressure.
Similar to the toys discussed above, the toy cushion 114 contains an output device 141 that can be a display 142. As discussed with reference to the preferred embodiment above, circuitry within toy cushion 114 can detected how much pressure is being exerted on the air bladder within the toy cushion 114. Different messages and graphics can be displayed on the display 142 in response to the pressure.
In the foregoing description, certain terms have been used for brevity, clearness, and understanding. No unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom beyond the requirement of the prior art because such terms are used for descriptive purposes and are intended to be broadly construed. Therefore, the invention is not limited to the specific details, the representative embodiments, and illustrative examples shown and described. Thus, this application is intended to embrace alterations, modifications, and variations that fall within the scope of the appended claims.
Moreover, the description and illustration of the invention is an example and the invention is not limited to the exact details shown or described. References to “the preferred embodiment”, “an embodiment”, “one example”, “an example”, and so on, indicate that the embodiment(s) or example(s) so described may include a particular feature, structure, characteristic, property, element, or limitation, but that not every embodiment or example necessarily includes that particular feature, structure, characteristic, property, element or limitation. Furthermore, repeated use of the phrase “in the preferred embodiment” does not necessarily refer to the same embodiment, though it may.
1. A soft toy comprising:
- a soft toy body;
- a pressure sensing logic internal to the soft toy body configured to measure a pressure exerted on the soft toy body;
- at least one output device; and
- control logic configured to generate at least one output at the at least one output device when the pressure sensing logic measures that a pressure exerted on the soft toy body is within a predetermined pressure range.
2. The soft toy of claim 1 further comprising:
- a spring, and wherein the pressure sensing logic is configured to measure the pressure exerted on the soft boy toy based, at least in part, a compression of the spring.
3. The soft toy of claim 1 further comprising:
- an air bladder inside the soft toy body, and wherein the pressure sensing logic is configured to measure a pressure of air in the air bladder.
4. The soft toy of claim 3 wherein the pressure sensing logic is configured to be activated by air movement from the air bladder into the pressure sensing logic.
5. The soft toy of claim 1 wherein the at least one output device further comprises:
- a display configured to display images.
6. The soft toy of claim 5 wherein the soft toy body further comprises:
- flexible fabric forming an outside surface of the soft toy body, wherein the display is configured to be mounted in an opening in the flexible fabric.
7. The soft toy of claim 5 wherein the display further comprises:
- a display screen in a same plain of flexible fabric surrounding the display screen.
8. The soft toy of claim 5 wherein the display is a liquid crystal display (LCD).
9. The soft toy of claim 5 wherein the display is further configured to display at least one of the group of: graphical images and text messages
10. The soft toy of claim 1 further comprising:
- a battery internal inside the soft toy body configured to power the control logic and the pressure sensing logic.
11. The soft toy of claim 1 wherein the at least on output device further comprises:
- a speaker configured to generate sounds.
12. The soft toy of claim 10 further comprising:
- a speaker, wherein the control logic is configured activate the speaker to generate sounds proportional to pressure measured by the pressure sensing logic.
13. The soft toy of claim 1 wherein the soft toy is sized to be squeezed by at least one of the group of: one human hand, two human hands, one human arm, two human arms, a combination of a human hand and a human body, and a combination of a human arm and a human body.
14. A method for generating outputs at a soft toy comprising: when the toy pressure exceeds the threshold pressure, generating at least one output from the soft toy.
- measuring a toy pressure within the soft toy;
- determining if the pressure exceeds a threshold pressure;
15. The method for generating outputs at a soft toy of claim 14 wherein the measuring further comprises:
- measuring the toy pressure within an air bladder that is located inside the soft toy.
16. The method for generating outputs at a soft toy of claim 14 wherein the measuring further comprises:
- measuring the pressure using an electronic measuring sensor located inside the soft toy
17. The method for generating outputs at a soft toy of claim 14 where the air pressure is a first pressure, the threshold pressure is a first threshold pressure and the at least one output is a first output and further comprising:
- measuring a second pressure within the soft toy;
- determining if the second pressure exceeds a second threshold pressure; and
- when the second pressure exceeds the second threshold pressure, generating at least one second output from the soft toy that is different than the first output.
18. The method for generating outputs at a soft toy of claim 14 further comprising
- waiting a predetermined amount of time; and
- turning off the at least one output after the predetermined time.
19. The method for generating outputs at a soft toy of claim 14 further comprising
- when no change in pressure has been detected for a timer period, placing electronic components in the soft toy in a sleep state to save power.
20. The method for generating outputs at a soft toy of claim 14 further comprising at least one of the group of:
- generating an image on a display of the soft toy and generating sounds on a speaker of the soft toy.
Filed: Mar 7, 2013
Publication Date: Sep 11, 2014
Inventors: Steve Copeland (Barrie), Graham Mottram (Collingwood), Daniel Kowalewski (Maple)
Application Number: 13/788,447
International Classification: A63H 3/00 (20060101);