CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
- FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/523,519 filed Nov. 19, 2003, the disclosure of which is specifically incorporated herein by reference thereto.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to sports equipment. The invention relates specifically to lighted sports equipment such as ski poles, and to lighted sports equipment in forms of boards such as snowboards, waterboards, and skateboards.
Sporting activities involving motion of the participant, sometimes at high speeds, have been and continue to be very popular. In the snow sports of skiing and snowboarding, among others, at least one board (hereinafter, collectively, “snowboard”) is attached to the participant by way of boots and bindings as well known, and gravity or other forces propel the participant down or across typically snow-covered terrain. The participant also, particularly when skiing, typically utilizes one or more ski poles for balance and other purposes as is well known. In the water sports of water skiing, wakeboarding, and surfing, among others, at least one board (hereinafter, collectively, “waterboard”) is attached to the participant by way of a binding, or the participant simply stands on the board. A tow rope of a tow boat or other force (e.g., wave action) propels the participant across the water. Similarly, in the dry land sport of skateboarding, among others, the participant stands on at least one board (hereinafter, collectively, “skateboard”) and gravity or another force (e.g., from foot action of the participant) propels the participant across typically hard-surfaced terrain.
Participation in these sports has always involved some risk of physical injury to the participant. Often, such injuries are due to collisions with other participants or on-terrain mechanized equipment or waterborne vessels. Such collisions are often attributed to low visibility conditions, such as during white-outs, times of diminished sunlight, or at night. In response to the problems caused by diminished visibility, various devices such as high-visibility streamers, externally-worn lights or beacons, and brightly-colored clothing have been employed with limited success to reduce risk of collision and injury.
As shown in the patent art, attempts have been made to provide lighted sports equipment, for safety and novelty purposes.
For example, lighted novelty footwear is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,033,212 issued to Evanyk; U.S. Pat. No. 5,704,705 issued to Chien; U.S. Pat. No. 5,720,121 issued to Barker; U.S. Pat. No. 5,857,273 issued to Rapisarda; U.S. Pat. No. 5,865,523 issued to Chien; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,894,686 issued to Parker, et al.
With specific reference to snowboards (as herein defined) attempts have been made to provide lighting as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,083,572 issued to May, Jr.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,039,128 issued to Romuno; U.S. Pat. No. 6,310,551 issued to Croft; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,540,384 issued to Rosevear. These patented devices, however, are for the most part bulky and cumbersome, and rely on relatively complicated assemblies and external attachment means.
With specific reference to ski poles, attempts have been made to provide lighting as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,023,817 issued to Lah, et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 4,066,889 issued to Hodgson; U.S. Pat. No. 4,129,311 issued to Hodgson, et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,056,821 issued to Fierro; U.S. Pat. No. 5,149,489 issued to Crews; U.S. Pat. No. 5,271,640 issued to Potochick, et al.; and U.S. Pat. No. 6,152,491 issued to Queentry. These patented devices, however, typically rely on relatively complicated components, assemblies, and external attachment means, and are in some cases bulky, cumbersome, and difficult to efficiently manufacture.
Additionally, sports equipment manufacturers and even the participants themselves often wish to draw attention to their equipment brands of choice. Typically, such “brand identification” has been conveyed by way of, for example, trademarks, logos, and graphics provided on or with the equipment. However, brand identification is often lost in low-visibility conditions; indeed, brand identification is usually not conveyed unless the equipment is being directly and deliberately viewed.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Therefore, there exists a need for sports equipment such as snowboards, ski poles, waterboards, skateboards, and the like, which reduce the risk of physical injuries from collisions in low visibility conditions, and which enhances brand identification. There also exists a need for such sports equipment that does not rely on complicated components, assemblies, or external attachment means, and that is generally compact, simple, and efficient to manufacture.
An object of the present invention is to provide lighted sports equipment in the form of a ski pole, which reduces the risk of physical injury from collision in low visibility conditions, and which enhances brand identification.
Another object of the present invention is to provide lighted sports equipment in the form of a snowboard, which reduces the risk of physical injury from collision in low visibility conditions, and which enhances brand identification.
A further object of the present invention is to provide lighted sports equipment in the form of a waterboard, which reduces the risk of physical injury from collision in low visibility conditions, and which enhances brand identification.
A still further object of the present invention is to provide lighted sports equipment in the form of a skateboard, which reduces the risk of physical injury from collision in low visibility conditions, and which enhances brand identification.
A yet further object of the present invention is to provide lighted sports equipment that does not rely on complicated components, assemblies, or external attachment means, and that is generally compact, simple, and efficient to manufacture.
In accordance with the present invention, lighted sports equipment comprising a ski pole includes a tip portion, an illuminable shaft portion, and a grip portion. The tip portion has a tip end and a connecting end. The illuminable shaft portion has a first engaging end, a second engaging end that is removably coupled to the connecting end of the tip portion, and an illumination means for illuminating the illuminable shaft portion in response to provision of electrical energy thereto. The grip portion has an end that is removably coupled to the first engaging end of the illuminable shaft portion. The equipment further comprises means for selectively providing electrical energy to the illuminable shaft portion.
- BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Also in accordance with the present invention, lighted sports equipment comprises a snowboard, a waterboard, and a skateboard.
FIG. 1 is a fragmentary illustration of lighted sports equipment comprising a ski pole, constructed in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional depiction of the ski pole of FIG. 1, taken along line 2-2.
FIG. 3 is a schematic representation of specific components of the ski pole of FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 is an illustration of lighted sports equipment comprising a snowboard, constructed in accordance with the present invention.
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 4 a is a cross-sectional depiction of the snowboard of FIG. 4, taken along line 4 a-4 a.
Referring to FIG. 1, an exemplary embodiment of lighted sports equipment comprising a ski pole 10 of the present invention is depicted. Therein, ski pole 10 includes (i) a tip portion 12 having a tip end 14 and a connecting end 16, (ii) an illuminable shaft portion 18 having (a) a first engaging end 20, (b) a second engaging end 22 that is removably coupled to connecting end 16 of tip portion 12, and (c) an illumination means 24 for illuminating illuminable shaft portion 18 in response to provision of electrical energy as will be further described, and (iii) a grip portion 26 having (a) an end 28 that is removably coupled to first engaging end 20 of illuminable shaft portion 18, and (b) means 30 for selectively providing electrical energy to illumination means 24 as will also be further described. Ski pole 10 also includes a switch means 32, for selectively controlling, at least in part, means 30. Although not depicted for clarity of the drawing, ski pole 10 may optionally include a basket proximate to tip portion 12; such baskets are well known.
As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, illuminable shaft portion 18 preferably has a tapered, circular external cross-sectional geometric shape and an internal cavity 18′ of a hexagonal, cross-sectional geometric shape 18′. Portion 18 may, externally and internally, alternatively have an elliptical, triangular, square, pentagonal, hexagonal, heptagonal, or octagonal shape, or any desired combination of such shapes. These shapes may be advantageous for particular purposes. For example, a triangular shape may tend to cause flexing of pole 10 against a “spine” of the pole defined by the shape, and internal cavity 18′ being of a hexagonal or octagonal shape, for example, may thus present twice as many spines to the point of flexion of the pole. Of course, shaft portion 18 could be partially solid, therefore omitting internal cavity 18′ in part. Illuminable shaft portion 18, in a preferred embodiment, is constructed at least in part from a translucent material, which may further be clear and durable such as commercially available LEXAN® brand plastic material. It is to be understood that as used herein, “clear and durable” materials are intended to include all suitable acrylics, polycarbonates, and polymer-based materials.
Although not specifically depicted, illumination means 24 of illuminable shaft portion 18 preferably comprises at least one electro-luminescent device; it is also to be understood that as used herein, the term “electro-luminescent device” is intended to include all suitable electro-luminescent (EL) sheets, neon-like devices, cathode devices, light emitting diodes (LEDs), photo-emissive wires, light-emitting polymers (LEPs), organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), short-molecule organic light emitting diodes (SMOLEDs), and dendrimers, as are known in the art. Means 30 for selectively providing electrical energy to illumination means 24 of illuminable shaft portion 18 selectively acts, at least in part, in response to switch means 32. In a preferred embodiment, switch means 32 comprises a conventional solid state switch 32. Means 30 preferably includes solid state power inverter circuitry 34. Means 30 is preferably housed within grip portion 26; alternatively, as may be desired, means 30 could be housed, partially or completely, within shaft portion 18 proximate to grip portion 26. As used herein, the term “switch” is intended to include all suitable devices for switching or controlling electrical energy, whether manual or automatic, such as a simple on-off switch, a chase sequence switch, an intermittent on-off switch, or a random chase-to-intermittent on-off switch. Further, any suitable combination of such switching devices may be used in a particular embodiment of the invention.
Although not shown in the drawings, it is to be understood that ski pole 10 of the present invention could have a unitary construction as may be desired for a particular use. In such an embodiment, the aforementioned (i) connecting end 16 of tip portion 12, (ii) first and second engaging ends 20 and 22 of shaft portion 18, and (iii) end 28 of grip portion 26 would therefore be omitted, since no distinct removable coupling would exist between them.
In a preferred embodiment, tip portion 12 and shaft portion 18 are each manufactured from a suitable, durable plastic resin, machined carbon fiber, spun metal, or combination thereof. Grip portion 26 is preferably constructed from poly-carbonate resin, but may also be fabricated from other rubber-type materials in a “two shot” or “three shot” injection molding process of several distinct plastics and metallized plastics.
It is to be understood that illumination means 24 within illuminable shaft portion 18 may provide interchangeability, such that a user of pole 10 may easily disassemble the aforedescribed components thereof and change or “swap out” an illumination means 24 that has failed or where a different means 24 is desired, perhaps to provide another lighted color scheme. In an embodiment of the invention utilizing LEDs for means 24, high-intensity and color-changeable red-green-blue (RGB) LEDs are commercially available, and are disposed within a ring (not illustrated) proximate to grip portion 26. If desired, light from the ring of RGB LEDs may be “channeled” down through a rod-like length of plastic, glass, or fiber optic material (not illustrated) that is inserted into cavity 18′ of portion 18. In an embodiment of the invention utilizing photo-emissive wires, one or more wires may be formed into one or more “braids” which may be comprised of individual strands of different colors; thereby, selection of any single or multiple colors may ultimately provide any number of lighted color effects.
A power source of means 30, for selectively providing electrical energy to illumination means 24, is generally identified as P in FIG. 3 and is preferably at least one dry cell battery or even a hydrogen fuel cell.
In FIG. 4, an exemplary embodiment of lighted sports equipment comprising a snowboard 40 of the present invention is depicted. It is to be particularly appreciated and understood that although the following description is directed to a snowboard, a waterboard or a skateboard as defined herein would have similar if not identical components. Therefore, redundant exemplary embodiments of a waterboard and a skateboard have not been depicted in the drawings, but are to be understood as equally applicable to the following description.
Turning, again, to FIG. 4, snowboard 40 (which, again, could be a waterboard or a skateboard as defined above) includes a tip portion 42, a waist portion 44, and a tail portion 46. As is customary in snowboards, and with reference to FIG. 4 a, tip portion 42 and tail portion 46 each preferably have selected and varying angles of inclination relative to waist portion 44, and waist portion 44 has a selected camber.
Similarities between snowboard (or waterboard or skateboard) 40 and the aforedescribed illuminable shaft portion 18 of ski pole 10 are as follows: portions 42, 44, and 46 of snowboard 40 are each selectively illuminable, being responsive to at least one illumination means 48 provided within, preferably, waist portion 44. Snowboard 40 includes means 49 for selectively providing electrical energy to illumination means 48. Tip portion 42, waist portion 44, and tail portion 46 may each be constructed at least in part from a translucent material, as desired in a particular embodiment of snowboard 40. The translucent material may be a clear, durable material as aforedescribed. Illumination means 48 preferably comprises at least one electro-luminescent device, also as aforedescribed. Finally, means 49 for selectively providing electrical energy to at least one illumination means preferably comprises a suitable solid state switch.
It is to be particularly appreciated and understood that the illumination means of the present invention may involve changing and/or flashing colors, for novelty, festive, advertising, signaling, or emergency purposes. Also, various artistic effects could be achieved by way of the illumination means, to provide specific points of light or to display a trademark, design, or other advertising device.
While embodiments of the present invention have been particularly shown and described with reference to the accompanying figures, it will be understood, however, that other modifications thereto are of course possible, all of which are intended to be within the true spirit and scope of the present invention. It should be appreciated that components of the invention aforedescribed may be substituted for other suitable components for achieving desired results, or that various accessories may be added thereto. For example, LEDs could be set into a “submerged” layer of material forming a snowboard, beneath or above a translucent cover or base, such that light being emitted from the illumination means would be diffused along a desired length of the snowboard, with control of color patterns being achieved as aforedescribed relative to a ski pole.
Further, the aforedescribed elements of the various exemplary embodiments of the invention may be re-arranged to an extent that it is physically possible to do so, as may be desired.
Lastly, the choice of compositions, sizes, and strengths of various aforementioned components of the embodiments of the present invention are all a matter of design choice depending upon intended uses thereof. In the present invention, such components are preferably chosen with regard to an ability to withstand both high physical stresses, and cold temperatures.
Accordingly, these and other various changes or modifications in form and detail of the present invention may also be made therein, again without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.