|Title of Invention||
"A LIGHTED CONSUMER PRODUCT"
|Abstract||Attractiveness of consumer products is enhanced by use of scintillating fluorescent light collecting fibers contained in those products. The fibers collect ambient light of various wavelengths. Some not visible. Along their length which is collected within the fiber and emitted as visible light at the ends of the fibers. The emitted light can be used to enhance the consumer appeal of the product or promote its use specific consumer products disclosed include toothbrushes and liquid soap dispensers.|
|Full Text||BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Consumer research shows that toothbrush purchases are often based on impulse decisions. Thus, the appearance of a toothbrush and/or its packaging can play a role in formulating that purchase decision. For marketing purposes, it is also helpful for the toothbrush or its packaging to have an eye-catching appearance on the shelf. Also, use of a toothbrush, particularly by juveniles, can be enhanced if that brush has an attractive, novel appearance. Others have taken various approaches to create a visually attractive toothbrush and/or its packaging.
One such approach is illustrated in U.S. Patent No. 4,779,173 issued December 24, 1986. This patent discloses a battery operated bulb in a toothbrush handle. Light from the bulb is transmitted to the head of the toothbrush through a plurality of plastic filaments (column 4, line 64 to column 5, line 24). Another patent disclosing light from a power source, e.g. LED or laser, conveyed to a toothbrush head through fibers is U.S. Patent No. 5,030,090.
United States Patent No. 5,121,462 discloses a process for making scintillating optical fibers. U.S. Patent No. 5,588,084 provides additional detail of the scintillation enhancement, flours and wave-shifting dyes uniformly dissolved into the core material of the fiber and the cladding which serves to protect the core and enables the fiber
to function as an "optical pipe" . The cladding has an index of refraction which is lower than that of the core so that the light rays are retained within the fiber's core and transported along its length to appear as visible light at the fiber ends. With scintillating fibers, the light emitted at the ends is gathered from ambient light entering the side of the fibers so that an LED and battery is not needed to generate the light emitted from the fiber ends. Another patent related to scintillating fibers is U.S. Patent No. 6,078,052 issued June 20, 2000.
United States Patent No. 5,813,855 discloses an illuminated toothbrush wherein a powered light source in the toothbrush handle directs light toward cleaning elements or bristles in the toothbrush head. The bristles are illuminated by the light traveling from the source in the handle through the toothbrush handle and to the head. There it impinges on a roughened surface of the bristles embedded in the head. That light then glows from the ends of the bristles. Another lighted toothbrush is disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 5,160,194 in which a battery operated light shines directly on the user's teeth.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This invention utilizes scintillating fluorescent light collecting fibers to illuminate various consumer products and packaging for such products. The light emanating from the ends of such fibers is used to attract attention of the consumers to the products contained in the packaging. To the consumer, the visible ends of the fibers appear to
glow as if powered, e . g. ,by a battery operated bulb How-ever, these fibers do not use any powered light sources to produce this effect. The ambient light around the fibers is gathered through the sides of the fibers and is transmitted through the fibers like an optical pipe and emanates from the fiber end as a relatively bright light.
One illustrated embodiment of this invention is a toothbrush with a transparent or translucent handle. Embedded within the handle are an array of scintillating fluorescent light collecting fibers which terminate near the base of the cleaning elements or bristles in the toothbrush head. If the fibers terminate at the base of the bristles, the light from the fibers can be distributed through all of the bristles so that the bristles adopt a.glow. If a pinpoint of light is preferred, the scintillating fluorescent light collecting fibers can be placed within the bristles so that they extend to or near the working surface of the bristles. This provides a bright light display within the bristles that draws the attention of potential consumers observing the toothbrush in the store.
The light within the bristles also provides an appealing and novel appearance that would attract one to use the toothbrush, especially juveniles. Since regular use is the most important element of oral hygiene, the novelty of a lighted brush provides an important inducement and reminder for juveniles to use the toothbrush. Because the scintillating/collecting fibers are continuously collecting ambient light and displaying it through the fiber ends the novelty
look of the bristles is always presented to the user or potential customer as long as there is some ambient light around the toothbrush.
A package for the toothbrush preferably has a transparent or translucent portion generally corresponding to the area of the toothbrush containing the scintillating fluorescent light collecting fibers. This allows ambient light around the package to enter the fibers and causes them to emit light at the ends of the fiber. That light shines out of the transparent/translucent portion of the package to attract potential customers who might be shopping for a toothbrush.
In other embodiments of the invention, the ends of the scintillating fluorescent light collecting fibers can be placed at various points along the length of the toothbrush (other than in the head) to create novel points of light on the toothbrush body. That lighting pattern can also be used to attract potential consumers or users.
In other embodiments, the scintillating fluorescent light collecting fibers can be embedded in the packaging of any number of consumer products, for example, a liquid soap dispenser or shampoo bottle. If that packaging material is translucent or transparent in the area of the fibers, ambient light will reach the fibers causing the ends of the fibers to emit light. That light can be used as an adjunct to graphics on the packaging, thereby attracting consumers and encouraging use after purchase.
In all of these embodiments, different color lighting can be created by colored fibers, for example, using green, amber and red fibers.
More information regarding these fibers is available from the Website of one manufacturer of such fibers, Poly-Optical Products, Inc. of Irvine, California (www.poly-optical.com) .
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Figure 1 illustrates a prior art toothbrush 2 using a battery powered light 4 in which that light is transmitted to the embedded bristles via fibers 6, but not the fibers of this invention.
Figure 2 is a side elevational view of a scintillating fluorescent light collecting fiber of this invention.
Figure 3 is a side elevational view of a toothbrush containing embedded fibers to illuminate the toothbrush bristles.
Figure 4 is a top plan view of a toothbrush package containing a fiber illuminated toothbrush.
Figure 5 is a cross-sectional view in elevation showing scintillating fluorescent light collecting fibers embedded within the toothbrush bristles.
Figure 6 is a top plan view of a powered toothbrush with the light collecting fibers in the handle. Figure 7 is a side elevational view of a liquid soap dispenser bottle with the scintillating fluorescent
light collecting fibers illuminating ornamental features on the bottle.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Figure 2 schematically illustrates a typical scintillating fluorescent light collecting fiber 10 ( "scintillating fiber " ) . This scintillating fiber 10 collects light from many wavelengths, visible or not visible to the naked eye, along its length 12 and emits light at each end 14 of the fiber in the visible range. Thus, the light is always "on " with this fiber and no powered light source is needed, for example, an LED and battery as has been used in the prior art such as the device disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 5,813,855 (See Figure 1).
Figure 3 illustrates scintillating fibers 10 embedded in toothbrush 16. They extend from the handle 18 to head 20 of the toothbrush. At least some portion of the toothbrush 16 should be transparent or translucent to allow ambient light to reach the outer surface 12 of fibers 10. As illustrated in this Figure, one end 14 of fiber JL0 terminates immediately adjacent the cleaning elements or bristles 22 mounted in head 20 of toothbrush 16. The cleaning elements 22 may be mounted or affixed to the head 20 of toothbrush 16 in a manner that light emitted from one end 14 of fiber 10 is transmitted through the cleaning elements 22 so that the light is readily seen by a potential consumer of the toothbrush 16 when passing the area where toothbrushes are sold. In a similar vein, the lighted bristles 22 can form an attractive light pattern to encourage use of the
toothbrush and thereby improve oral hygiene of potential users, particularly juveniles. As previously discussed, fibers 10 can be treated with various chemicals to emit various light colors from their ends 14. This provides an additional attraction for consumers and users.
Any suitable form of cleaning elements may be used as the cleaning elements 22 in the embodiment of Figure 3 of this invention.
Figure 5 shows an alternative embodiment for displaying the light gathered in scintillating fiber 10. In this embodiment, the scintillating fiber 10 is bent within head 2 0 so that the end 14 of fiber 10 extends above the face 21 of the head 20 to a terminus at or about the working end 23 of cleaning elements 22. Thus, the ambient light gathered in fibers 10 is emitted as visible light from the ends 14 of scintillating fiber 10 at a point where the light is directly viewed by potential consumers or users. This embodiment provides a brighter, more direct light within the cleaning elements 22. In this embodiment, the cleaning elements themselves need not be transparent or translucent because they are not themselves transmitting light.
A package 24 containing toothbrush 16 is illustrated in Figure 4. At least that portion 2 6 of the package 2 4 overlying fibers 10 in the toothbrush 16 should be transparent or translucent to allow ambient light to reach scintillating fibers 10 and allow viewing of the light emitted from ends 14 of the fibers 10. To facilitate discussion. Figure 4 is shown without cleaning elements 22 in place.
Such elements would typically be arranged relative to fiber ends 14 on head 22 in a manner similar to that shown in Figures 3 or 5.
The term "cleaning elements" is intended to be used in a generic sense which could include conventional fiber bristles or massage elements or other forms of cleaning elements such as elastomeric fingers or walls arranged in a circular cross-sectional shape or any type of desired shape including straight portions or sinusoidal portions. Where bristles are used, the bristles could be mounted to tuft blocks or sections by extending through suitable openings in the tuft blocks so that the base of the bristles is mounted within or below the tuft block.
It is to be understood that the specific illustration of the cleaning elements is merely for exemplary purposes . The invention can be practiced with various combinations of the same or different cleaning element configurations (such as stapled or in-molded technology bristles, etc.) and/or with the same bristle or cleaning element materials (such as nylon bristles, spiral bristles, rubber bristles, etc.) Similarly, while Figures 3 and 5 illustrate the cleaning elements to be generally perpendicular to the face of head 20, some or all of the cleaning elements 22 may be angled at various angles. It is thereby possible to select the combination of cleaning element configurations, materials and orientations to achieve specific intended results to deliver additional oral health benefits, like enhanced
cleaning, tooth polishing, tooth whitening and/or massaging of the gums.
Figure 6 illustrates a toothbrush 16A which includes a power driven movable disc or section 28 having elements in the head 20 of toothbrush 16. The movable section 2 8 could be oscillated rotationally such as by using the type of drive mechanism shown in U.S. Patent No. 5,625,916, or could move in and out using the type of drive mechanism shown in U.S. Patent No. Re 35,941; all of the details of both patents are incorporated herein by reference thereto. Alternatively, the other types of drives referred to above could move section 28 in other manners and directions. Although Figure 6 shows movable section 28 to be at the one end of the head 20, the movable section(s) 28 could be located at any desired location on the head 20.
The non-powered cleaning elements 22 in the Figure 6 embodiment can be lighted as described above. Alternatively or additionally, scintillating fibers 10 can be embedded in transparent or translucent portions of the handle 18A of powered toothbrush 16A to emit light from the ends 14 of scintillating fibers 10. A switch 30 can be used to regulate the powered features of the toothbrush 16A.
The scintillating fibers 10 of this invention have wide application in a variety of consumer products. One such product, a liquid soap dispenser 32, is shown in Figure 7. As illustrated, the scintillating fibers 10 are embedded in translucent or transparent portions of the dispenser 32. At least one end 14 of fiber 10 is directed toward the sur-
face of the dispenser. Visible light emitted from the end 14 of fiber 10 can be used to enhance decorative patterns contained in the side of container
1. A lighted consumer product comprising a body, portions thereof being sufficiently translucent or transparent to permit entry of ambient light, at least one light collecting element arranged in at least some of those portions of the body, at least one end of the at least one element being directed toward an exterior surface of the body where light collected in the element through the sufficiently transparent or translucent portions is emitted from the at least one end of the element and can be seen by a person observing or using the consumer product, characterized in that said light is emitted without using a power source in the lighted consumer product.
2. The lighted consumer product as claimed in claim 1 wherein said consumer product is a toothbrush having cleaning elements in a head thereof.
3. The lighted consumer product as claimed in claim 2 wherein the at least one end of the at least one light collecting element is located adjacent said cleaning elements in the head of the toothbrush.
4. The lighted consumer product as claimed in claim 2 wherein said light collecting elements are in plurality and have ends located out of or near a working surface of the cleaning elements.
5. The lighted consumer product as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein said emitted light is collected from ambient light.
6. The lighted consumer product as claimed in claim 1 or 2 wherein said emitted light is multi-colored.
7. The lighted consumer product as claimed in claim 1 wherein said at least one light collecting element is a light collecting fiber.
8. The lighted consumer product as claimed in claim 1-7, wherein the light collecting fiber is treated to emit colored light.
9. A lighted consumer product as claimed in any of the above claims, wherein said ambient light collected in the element through the sufficiently transparent or translucent portions at a first location is emitted from a second location.
10. The lighted consumer product as claimed in claim 2, wherein said product is a toothbrush having cleaning elements in a head thereof and the second location is adjacent the cleaning elements in the head of the toothbrush.
11. The lighted consumer product as claimed in claim 10, comprising a plurality of light collecting elements having ends located out of or near a working surface of the cleaning elements.
|Indian Patent Application Number||1432/DELNP/2005|
|PG Journal Number||12/2012|
|Date of Filing||08-Apr-2005|
|Name of Patentee||COLGATE-PALMOLIVE COMPANY|
|Applicant Address||300 PARK AVENUE, NEW YORK NY 10022, USA|
|PCT International Classification Number||A46B 17/00|
|PCT International Application Number||PCT/US2003/031821|
|PCT International Filing date||2003-10-09|