US20130307683A1 - Method and Apparatus for Automated Messaging in Beverage Containers - Google Patents

Method and Apparatus for Automated Messaging in Beverage Containers Download PDF

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Publication number
US20130307683A1
US20130307683A1 US13982017 US201113982017A US2013307683A1 US 20130307683 A1 US20130307683 A1 US 20130307683A1 US 13982017 US13982017 US 13982017 US 201113982017 A US201113982017 A US 201113982017A US 2013307683 A1 US2013307683 A1 US 2013307683A1
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US
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
container
coupled
opening
apparatus
opening mechanism
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US13982017
Inventor
Moore Greenberg
Marcel Illouz
Renee Talor
Nitzan Talor
Dustin McIntire
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SAY IT CORP
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SAY IT CORP
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47GHOUSEHOLD OR TABLE EQUIPMENT
    • A47G19/00Table service
    • A47G19/22Drinking vessels or saucers used for table service
    • A47G19/2205Drinking glasses or vessels
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47GHOUSEHOLD OR TABLE EQUIPMENT
    • A47G19/00Table service
    • A47G19/22Drinking vessels or saucers used for table service
    • A47G19/2205Drinking glasses or vessels
    • A47G19/2227Drinking glasses or vessels with means for amusing or giving information to the user
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61JCONTAINERS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR MEDICAL OR PHARMACEUTICAL PURPOSES; DEVICES OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR BRINGING PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS INTO PARTICULAR PHYSICAL OR ADMINISTERING FORMS; DEVICES FOR ADMINISTERING FOOD OR MEDICINES ORALLY; BABY COMFORTERS; DEVICES FOR RECEIVING SPITTLE
    • A61J7/00Devices for administering medicines orally, e.g. spoons; Pill counting devices; Arrangements for time indication or reminder for taking medicine
    • A61J7/04Arrangements for time indication or reminder for taking medicine, e.g. programmed dispensers
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D17/00Rigid or semi-rigid containers specially constructed to be opened by cutting or piercing, or by tearing of frangible members or portions
    • B65D17/28Rigid or semi-rigid containers specially constructed to be opened by cutting or piercing, or by tearing of frangible members or portions at lines or points of weakness
    • B65D17/401Rigid or semi-rigid containers specially constructed to be opened by cutting or piercing, or by tearing of frangible members or portions at lines or points of weakness characterised by having the line of weakness provided in an end wall
    • B65D17/4012Rigid or semi-rigid containers specially constructed to be opened by cutting or piercing, or by tearing of frangible members or portions at lines or points of weakness characterised by having the line of weakness provided in an end wall for opening partially by means of a tearing tab
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D55/00Accessories for container closures not otherwise provided for
    • B65D55/02Locking devices; Means for discouraging or indicating unauthorised opening or removal of closure
    • B65D55/028Locking devices; Means for discouraging or indicating unauthorised opening or removal of closure initial opening or unauthorised access being indicated by the presence or absence of an audible or electrical signal
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09FDISPLAYING; ADVERTISING; SIGNS; LABELS OR NAME-PLATES; SEALS
    • G09F23/00Advertising on or in specific articles, e.g. ashtrays, letter-boxes
    • G09F23/0091Advertising on or in specific articles, e.g. ashtrays, letter-boxes on soda or beer cans
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09FDISPLAYING; ADVERTISING; SIGNS; LABELS OR NAME-PLATES; SEALS
    • G09F23/00Advertising on or in specific articles, e.g. ashtrays, letter-boxes
    • G09F23/02Advertising on or in specific articles, e.g. ashtrays, letter-boxes the advertising matter being displayed by the operation of the article
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09FDISPLAYING; ADVERTISING; SIGNS; LABELS OR NAME-PLATES; SEALS
    • G09F27/00Combined visual and audible advertising or displaying, e.g. for public address
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61JCONTAINERS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR MEDICAL OR PHARMACEUTICAL PURPOSES; DEVICES OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR BRINGING PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS INTO PARTICULAR PHYSICAL OR ADMINISTERING FORMS; DEVICES FOR ADMINISTERING FOOD OR MEDICINES ORALLY; BABY COMFORTERS; DEVICES FOR RECEIVING SPITTLE
    • A61J2200/00General characteristics or adaptations
    • A61J2200/30Compliance analysis for taking medication
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61JCONTAINERS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR MEDICAL OR PHARMACEUTICAL PURPOSES; DEVICES OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR BRINGING PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS INTO PARTICULAR PHYSICAL OR ADMINISTERING FORMS; DEVICES FOR ADMINISTERING FOOD OR MEDICINES ORALLY; BABY COMFORTERS; DEVICES FOR RECEIVING SPITTLE
    • A61J7/00Devices for administering medicines orally, e.g. spoons; Pill counting devices; Arrangements for time indication or reminder for taking medicine
    • A61J7/04Arrangements for time indication or reminder for taking medicine, e.g. programmed dispensers
    • A61J7/0409Arrangements for time indication or reminder for taking medicine, e.g. programmed dispensers with timers
    • A61J7/0427Arrangements for time indication or reminder for taking medicine, e.g. programmed dispensers with timers with direct interaction with a dispensing or delivery system
    • A61J7/0436Arrangements for time indication or reminder for taking medicine, e.g. programmed dispensers with timers with direct interaction with a dispensing or delivery system resulting from removing a drug from, or opening, a container
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B65CONVEYING; PACKING; STORING; HANDLING THIN OR FILAMENTARY MATERIAL
    • B65DCONTAINERS FOR STORAGE OR TRANSPORT OF ARTICLES OR MATERIALS, e.g. BAGS, BARRELS, BOTTLES, BOXES, CANS, CARTONS, CRATES, DRUMS, JARS, TANKS, HOPPERS, FORWARDING CONTAINERS; ACCESSORIES, CLOSURES, OR FITTINGS THEREFOR; PACKAGING ELEMENTS; PACKAGES
    • B65D2203/00Decoration means, markings, information elements, contents indicators
    • B65D2203/12Audible, olfactory or visual signalling means

Abstract

An apparatus generates an audio and/or visual signal or message when a container having an opening mechanism is opened. An activation trigger is coupled to the container to determine when the container has been opened. An integrated circuit is mounted on or within the container or opening mechanism and coupled to the activation trigger to determine the sealing status of the container and to generate the audio and/or visual signal or message when a determination is made that the container has been opened. An output device is coupled to the integrated circuit for outputting a signal related to a status of container usage, a last opening of the container and/or scheduled next opening of the container.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • The present application is related to U.S. Provisional Patent Application, Ser. No. 61/437,539, filed on Jan. 28, 2011, which is incorporated herein by reference and to which priority is claimed pursuant to 35 USC 119.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The invention relates to devices which detect the opening or closing of a container and more particularly to containers having a signaling device which generates a message when the container is opened or closed.
  • 2. Description of the Prior Art
  • Numerous audio generating devices have long been used for use on beverage devices and pharmaceutical containers, including pill bottles, glass bottles, aluminum cans, tin cans, and paper cups. In general these devices are intended to detect when the vessel is moved in order to trigger playback of an audio signal. Activation methods of these devices include light sensors, straw suction, and vessel pressure sensors. Other additional activation methods include the breaking of a sealing member of an aluminum can, for example when the tab of the can is opened, or when internal pressure within the can is released. The electronics responsible for generating an audio signal may be disposed either internally or externally on the beverage container. Examples are shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,575,383; 5,130,696; 7,888,898; 6,992,586; 6,557,728; 7,269,476 and US Patent Publication 2009/0281657.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The illustrated embodiments of the invention include a method and apparatus for using a preexisting beverage container, specifically a metal beverage can as a means for advertising through an audio sample when the can has been activated. However, it is to be expressly understood that the scope of the invention is not limited to metal beverage cans, but in addition specifically includes any kind of food, health and beauty, household and industrial container now known or later devised. Further, the invention includes not just a metal pull tabs, but also a plastic pull tabs, metal/plastic twist offs, metal/plastic pop top and any other release or opening device now known or later devised.
  • The illustrated embodiments of the invention include an apparatus for playing an audio file when a container is opened. The apparatus includes a stacked electronics assembly, and a device activation trigger coupled to the pull tab of the container and the stacked electronics assembly, where the device activation trigger comprises means for detecting when the seal of the container has been opened.
  • The device activation trigger is a resistive switch comprising an actuation switch disposed across the stacked assembly to an extended tab rivet; and a conductive path commencing and terminating at the stacked assembly and forming a loop through the actuation switch.
  • The device activation trigger is a mechanical switch, magnetic switch, and/or inductive switch.
  • The stacked assembly includes a speaker, a substrate, a battery; and an integrated chip-on-board assembly.
  • The illustrated embodiments of the invention include an apparatus for generating an audio signal or message when a container is opened, which comprises an activation trigger coupled to the container to determine when the container has been opened, the trigger characterized by an electrical parameter which is dependent on the sealing status of the container, an integrated circuit mounted on the container and coupled to the activation trigger to measure the electrical parameter to determine the sealing status of the container and to generate an audio signal or message when a determination is made that the container has been opened, a speaker coupled to the integrated circuit, and a battery coupled to the integrated circuit, where the integrated circuit, speaker and battery are combined into a laminated stacked assembly coupled to the container and coupled to an opening mechanism provided in or on the container.
  • The stacked assembly is integrated into the opening mechanism provided in or on the container.
  • The stacked assembly comprises the opening mechanism provided in or on the container.
  • The stacked assembly further comprises an acoustic resonator cavity.
  • In another embodiment, programming of the audio data content may be achieved through wireless transmission methods. In this instantiation an additional wireless transceiver is included in a chip-on-board (COB) component. The wireless transceiver receives data from a programming terminal for the purpose of saving audio data in the device's non volatile storage component.
  • More specifically, the illustrated embodiments of the invention include an apparatus for generating an audio and/or visual signal or message when a container having an opening mechanism is opened. An activation trigger is coupled to the container to determine when the container has been opened, the trigger characterized by an electrical parameter which is dependent on the sealing status of the container. An integrated circuit is mounted on or within the container or opening mechanism and coupled to the activation trigger to measure the electrical parameter to determine the sealing status of the container and to generate the audio and/or visual signal or message when a determination is made that the container has been opened. An acoustic transducer is coupled to the integrated circuit. A battery is coupled to the integrated circuit, where the integrated circuit, acoustic transducer and battery are combined into a laminated stacked assembly coupled to the container and coupled to the opening mechanism provided in or on the container.
  • The stacked assembly is integrated into the opening mechanism provided in or on the container. The stacked assembly comprises the opening mechanism provided in or on the container. The opening mechanism of the container has a closure with a separable seam. The stacked assembly is included on or in the closure and having a conductive path through or across the seam, where the stacked assembly is activated by separation of the seam upon opening of the closure. The stacked assembly is disposed on or in a resealable closure of a container through which closure a interruptible circuit path is defined.
  • The apparatus further includes a clock to measure or record the time, since the last loss of continuity on container, where the assembly audible announces the time elapsed since the last time container was opened.
  • The apparatus is usable in combination with a plurality of stacked assemblies forming a peer-to-peer network or to a local computer network and further comprising an RF communication module included in the stacked assembly, which wirelessly communicates information pertaining to container and/or opening mechanism and its opening or closure to other ones of the plurality of stacked assemblies forming the peer-to-peer network or to the local computer network.
  • The stacked assembly is provided with isolated onboard or intercommunicated intelligence from other sources to interact with a user according to usage of the containers as detected by the stacked assemblies.
  • The container comprises a dispenser of an item and is arranged and configured not only to allow detection of opening or closure of container, but dispensing of the item.
  • The illustrated embodiments can also be characterized as an apparatus for generating an audio and/or visual signal or message when a container having an opening mechanism is opened. An activation trigger is coupled to the container to determine when the container has been opened. An integrated circuit is mounted on or within the container or opening mechanism and coupled to the activation trigger to determine the sealing status of the container and to generate the audio and/or visual signal or message when a determination is made that the container has been opened. An output device is coupled to the integrated circuit for outputting a signal related to a status of container usage, a last opening of the container and/or scheduled next opening of the container.
  • In one embodiment the trigger is a membrane switch and where the opening mechanism is a cap for the container, the membrane switch being disposed between the cap and container and activated by the closure or opening of the container by the cap.
  • The embodiments may further include an adapter ring, where the cap comprises a standardized design and where the adapter ring couples the cap to the container, the container having one predetermined design of a plurality of possible designs for sealing the container, and where the adapter ring adapts the standardized cap to the one predetermined design of the container.
  • The embodiments may further include a data connector included within or on the opening mechanism or container and coupled to the integrated circuit.
  • The embodiments may further include a wireless transceiver included within or on the opening mechanism or container and coupled to the integrated circuit.
  • The embodiments may further include a battery and an inductive charging circuit coupled to the battery included within or on the opening mechanism or container and coupled to the integrated circuit.
  • The embodiments may further include a debouncing circuit coupled to the integrated circuit to reliably detect opening or closure of the opening mechanism by delaying activation of the trigger by a predetermined time period after first detection of an opening or closure.
  • The embodiments may further include a replaceable overlay disposed on the standardized cap, the overlay selectively provided with a symbol, word or graphic for identification of the container to a user.
  • The embodiments may further include a security device coupled to the opening mechanism for selectively locking and unlocking the opening mechanism based on user presentation of a security key to the security device.
  • The illustrated embodiments of the invention can still further be characterized as a method of management of drug or medicament usage including the steps of providing a container for holding or dispensing the drug or medicament, the container having an opening mechanism for selectively closing and opening the container, detecting a usage status of the container, including an opening or closing of the container, by means of a sensor included on or within the opening mechanism or container, communicating the detected usage status of the container from the sensor to an integrated circuit included on or within the opening mechanism or container, and automatically outputting a message to a user dependent on the detected usage status of the container and dependent on an intended usage of the drug or medicament by means of the integrated circuit and an output device included on or within the opening mechanism or container.
  • The method may further include the step of communicating with the integrated circuit with a computer or data source separate from the opening mechanism and container to determine the message communicated to the user by the integrated circuit and output device.
  • While the apparatus and method has or will be described for the sake of grammatical fluidity with functional explanations, it is to be expressly understood that the claims, unless expressly formulated under 35 USC 112, are not to be construed as necessarily limited in any way by the construction of “means” or “steps” limitations, but are to be accorded the full scope of the meaning and equivalents of the definition provided by the claims under the judicial doctrine of equivalents, and in the case where the claims are expressly formulated under 35 USC 112 are to be accorded full statutory equivalents under 35 USC 112. The invention can be better visualized by turning now to the following drawings wherein like elements are referenced by like numerals.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a circuit of the illustrated embodiment showing an integrated circuit board coupled to a permanent magnet speaker.
  • FIG. 2 is a schematic top plan view of a pop-top can on which the illustrated embodiment has been deployed.
  • FIG. 3 is a side plan view of a diagram in enlarged scale of the integrated package of the illustrated embodiment.
  • FIG. 4 is a diagram of a side view of a screw cap container with a tearable seam, the rupture of which is used to active the assembly of the illustrated embodiment.
  • FIG. 5 is a diagram of an embodiment of the invention where the assemblies are incorporated into or on a resealable closure and provided with or communicated with a source of intelligent to detect, record and manage use of the container relating to its opening, closing or dispensing of contents.
  • FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic illustration of a pill cap with a visual display incorporated in or coupled to the pill cap.
  • FIG. 7 is a diagrammatic illustration of a pill cap with a membrane switch and adapter rings incorporated in or coupled to the pill cap.
  • FIG. 8 is a diagrammatic illustration of a pill cap with a data port incorporated in or coupled to the pill cap.
  • FIG. 9 is a diagrammatic illustration of a pill cap with a wireless communication system incorporated in or coupled to the pill cap.
  • FIG. 10 is a diagrammatic illustration of a pill cap with an inductive charging device communicated or coupled with the pill cap.
  • FIG. 11 is a diagrammatic illustration of a pill cap with an acoustic resonator incorporated in or coupled to the pill cap.
  • FIG. 12 is a diagrammatic illustration of a pill cap with an overlay incorporated in or coupled to the pill cap.
  • FIG. 13 is a diagrammatic illustration of a pill cap with security devices incorporated in or coupled to the pill cap.
  • The invention and its various embodiments can now be better understood by turning to the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments which are presented as illustrated examples of the invention defined in the claims. It is expressly understood that the invention as defined by the claims may be broader than the illustrated embodiments described below.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • The advertising beverage can of the illustrated embodiment of the current invention requires several basic functions to be implemented, principally first among these is a device activation trigger used to determine when the can, generally denoted by reference numeral 10 in FIG. 2, has been opened. Although a beverage can is illustrated any kind or type of container for any type of goods with any kind of opening seal or mechanism may be employed with the illustrated embodiments of the invention. In one embodiment, the can 10 comprises a stacked assembly 12 coupled to a pull tab 16 of the can 10. The pull tab 16 is coupled to the can 10 by a tab rivet 20 which is surrounded by an extended rivet tab 22. Coupled between to the stacked assembly 12 and the extended rivet tab 22 is one-time use actuation switch 32. The actuation switch 32 is comprised of two halves, namely an assembly half 26 and a can half 28. The assembly half 26 is permanently coupled to the stacked assembly 12 while the can half 28 is permanently coupled to the extended rivet tab 22 by means of soldering or conductive epoxy. The assembly and can halves 26, 28 are temporarily coupled together via a perforated tab tearing seam 24. A conductive path 30 comprised of light weight wire couples the stacked assembly 12 to the actuation switch 3. The conductive path 30 forms a loop which travels from the stacked assembly 12 through both halves 26, 28 of the actuation switch 32 via the center of the perforated tab tearing seam 24, and then back into the stacked assembly 12 as seen in FIG. 2. The stacked assembly 12, conductive path 30, actuation switch 32, and extended rivet tab 22 together form a resistive switch as is known in the art. Briefly, resistive switches use electrical current to detect whether a continuous electrical path exists between two points. The cost of manufacturing resistive switches is negligible as it can be implemented in standard integrated circuit manufacturing processes as is known in the art. Resistive switches help comprise an active circuit meaning that power is discharged continuously in order to determine if the switch is open or closed. Since the can 10 is made of a conductive metal (aluminum), in one embodiment the structure of the can 10 itself can be used as a means to provide the switch ‘wiring’ or replace the conductive path 30.
  • With the conductive path 30 in tact as depicted in FIG. 2, the stacked assembly 12 supplies a low electrical current through the actuation switch 24. When the pull tab 16 is lifted from the can 10, the actuation switch 32 tears along the perforated tab tearing seam 24 causing the actuation switch 32 to break, leaving the assembly half 26 and can half 28 coupled to the stacked assembly 12 and extended rivet tab 22 respectively. The severed actuation switch 32 interrupts the flow of electrical current through the conductive path 30 causing an open circuit to be detected by the stacked assembly 12 as discussed below. This open circuit can then be used as the device activation trigger.
  • In an alternative embodiment, the device activation trigger may be a plurality of magnetic switches. Magnetic switches use the proximity of a magnetic field to determine if a switch is open or closed. In this embodiment, iron additives are coupled or integrated into the can lid 10 at a plurality of locations to make the material ferrous. Additionally a permanent magnet is coupled to the pull tab 16. In this embodiment, the conductive path 30 runs from the stacked assembly 12 through the permanent magnet disposed on the pull tab 16, through at least one iron additive or secondary magnet disposed within the lid of the can 10 and then back into the stacked assembly. Alternatively, the pull tab 16 itself may be comprised of the permanent magnet. When the pull tab 16 is lifted from the can 10, the permanent magnet is lifted away from the secondary magnet severing the connection between the two magnets. The loss of contact between the two magnets stops the current flowing through the conductive path 30 which signals the stacked assembly 12 that the can 10 is open.
  • In yet another embodiment, a mechanical switch may be used as the device activation trigger. A mechanical switch is passive and uses the physical movement of objects to make a connection between a power source and an audio playback device. This switch is ideal from the standpoint that it uses no power until the switch is closed and when a mechanical connection is made between the power source and audio playback device. For example, when the pull tab 16 is pulled away from the can 10, a mechanical switch coupled to both the pull tab 16 and slidably coupled within the stacked assembly 12 is moved accordingly. When the mechanical switch has moved far enough, a circuit is created between a power source and an audio playback device allowing an audio message to be heard. The mechanical switch is maintained in the closed position until the audio signal emitted from the audio playback device has been completely played back to the user.
  • In a further embodiment, the device activation trigger is an inductive switch which detects the proximity of a device in a similar fashion to a traditional metal detector device. An inductive switch determines the presence of a metallic objects by generating an electromagnetic field and sensing changes in the field. This type of device requires continuous power dissipation in order to generate the electromagnetic field. In this embodiment, the pull tab 16 comprises a primary inductive element and the lid of the can comprises a secondary inductive element disposed directly beneath that of the primary element when the seal 18 of the can 10 is closed. The stacked assembly 12 is coupled to both the primary and secondary inductive elements independently. When the pull tab 16 is pulled away from the can 10, the primary inductive element is pulled away from the secondary inductive element causing a change in the magnetic field disposed there between. This change in magnetic field creates a corresponding change in electrical current flowing through the conductive path 30 which signals the stacked assembly 12 that the seal 18 of the can 10 is now open.
  • Turning now to FIG. 3, the plurality of components comprising the stacked assembly 12 may be seen. The stacked assembly 12 preferably comprises a piezoelectric speaker or resonator 14, a substrate 34, a battery 36, and a chip-on-board (COB) assembly or audio tone generator electronics 38. The components of the stacked assembly 12 are laminated together into a single unit which is sufficiently rigid and robust enough to be used as a functional part of the pull tab 16. In other words, the stacked assembly 12 may be pulled away from the can 10 in addition to the pull tab 16 in order to open up the seal 18. All of the components of the stacked assembly 12 comprise a reduced height to provide a slim, easy to open replacement for the pull tab 16.
  • The speaker 14 of the stacked assembly 12 is preferably a piezoelectric speaker or a piezoelectric resonator which uses an electric field to cause a thin insulating substance such as quartz to vibrate and generate acoustic sounds. These devices are extremely thin and low cost due to their simple construction. Alternatively, a wire wound speaker may be used. A wire wound speaker is well known in the art and is used in a majority of speaker applications. Briefly, a wire wound speaker uses a small magnet and coiled wire to move a membrane which produces sound. The cost of a wire wound speaker is driven by the need for both a magnet and a significant amount of copper wire to drive the speaker membrane. The thickness of the speaker 14 may be adjusted by changing the amount of coiled wire employed.
  • The speaker 14 of the stacked assembly 12 is disposed on top of the substrate 34 which is comprised of plastic, metal, fiberglass, or a combination thereof. The substrate 34 comprises a cavity or a hollow void in the center to allow the audio signal that is emitted from the speaker 14 to resonate for effective audio playback.
  • The battery 36 stores the electrical charge necessary needed to drive the speaker 14 during audio playback. The battery 36 preferably only comprises enough storage to drive the speaker 14 once so as to reduce the cost of manufacturing of the battery 36 and to reduce its overall physical profile within the stacked assembly 12. In one embodiment, the battery 36 is a chemical battery. Chemical batteries are the most widely used charge storage device. They are available in many different compositions including lithium, alkaline, nickel hydride, and others. The most preferred composition for the battery 36 is alkaline, which provides approximately 1.5V. The stacked assembly 12 may therefore comprise a plurality of at least two alkaline batteries coupled together in series within the same layer of the stacked assembly 12. The battery 36 may also comprise a voltage doubling circuit as is known in the art so as to maintain a slim profile. Newer compositions of batteries such as nickel-zinc or other non-toxic compositions now known or later devised may also be used without departing from the original spirit and scope of the invention. In another embodiment, the battery 36 may be a capacitor capable of maintaining a large energy density when fully charged.
  • The COB assembly or audio tone generator and electronics 38 is an integrated circuit as seen in FIG. 1 within the stacked assembly 12 that is responsible for generating an electrical audio signal which converted into audible sound waves by the speaker or resonator 14. The COB assembly 38 comprises a microcontroller and a ROM chip containing a pre-recorded or pre-programmed audio file. The audio file may be any sort of audio file desired including but not limited to advertisements, music, or the like.
  • The battery 36 and COB assembly 38 work in conjunction to provide constant, low electrical current running through the conductive path 30 when the seal 18 of the can 10 is closed. The conductive path 30 is shown in FIG. 1 as part of activation trigger 39, which includes any kind of mechanism or circuit element which can be used to trigger COB assembly 38 to detect an activation event, whether it be a container opening, closing or other manipulation of the container. When the pull tab 16 is lifted from the can 10, the seal 18 is opened and the conductive path 30 is severed by one of the device activation triggers discussed above. With the conductive path 30 severed, the microcontroller on the COB assembly 38 executes a pre-programmed routine that renders the pre-programmed audio file stored on the ROM chip into an electrical signal. This signal is then transmitted to the speaker 14 for conversion into an audible tone. After the audio file has been initiated by the microcontroller, it continually plays through the speaker 14 until the battery 36 expends the last of its stored charge and the COB assembly 38 powers down, thus ceasing any further audio playback through the speaker 14.
  • FIG. 4 is a perspective diagram of the assembly 12 of FIG. 3 mounted on or in a lid or cap 42 of a pharmaceutical, food, health and beauty, household or industrial container 40. It is to be expressly understood that the teachings of the illustrated embodiments applied to and can be extended to all types of containers or packaging now known or later devised. Thus it is to be expressly understood that the illustrated embodiments of the invention include not just a metal pull tabs, but a plastic pull tabs, metal/plastic twist offs, metal/plastic pop top, screw top caps and lids and other release or opening devices. Cap 42 includes a tearing seam 44 integrated into cap 42. Separable, tearable or rupturable seams 44 are conventional and well known to those of ordinary skill in the packaging arts. A conductive path 46 is coupled from assembly 12 through cap 42 through or across seam 44, so that when cap 42 is opened and seam 44 torn, separated or ruptured, path 46 is broken or becomes electrically discontinuous. The discontinuity is detected by assembly 12, which is then activated.
  • FIG. 5 is a diagram of another embodiment of the invention in which assembly 12 is disposed on or in a resealable closure 48 of a container 50 through which closure 48 a interruptible circuit path 56 is defined. There are virtually an unlimited number of ways in which circuit path 56 could be devised. One embodiment includes a conductive lead 64 from assembly 12 on the inside threading or interior compression sealing surface of cap 48. A corresponding conductive lead 62 is provided on the exterior threading or exterior compression surface of the connection portion of container 50 which mates with cap 48. These two leads 62 and 64 overlap 58 when cap 48 is disposed on container 50 and arranged in the closed configuration. The overlap 58 defines a pair of electrical contacts to establish electrical continuity. When cap 48 is opened by unscrewing or snapping off container 50, the overlap 58 is lost and electrically continuity is interrupted. This interruption is detected by assembly 12 and can be exploited in a multiplicity of ways for plurality of objects.
  • For example, assembly 12 comprises a clock (not shown) which may either be synchronized with the chronological time or may be a timer recording the time which has past since the last loss of continuity on container 50. The sound recording stored in assembly 12 may then audible announce the time elapsed since the last time container 50 was opened. This information is a material utility in the case that container 50 is a pharmaceutical container and drug dosage management is being performed. The user is thus reminded that he or she probably took a dosage of the drug at the time announced by assembly 12. This prevents accidental overdoses, which may have deleterious and even possibly fatal results.
  • Further, assembly 12 in some embodiments further comprises an RF communication module, like RFID chips, which wirelessly communicates information pertaining to container 50 and its opening or closure to other ones of a plurality of similar assemblies 12 forming a peer-to-peer network or to a local network through router 54 to computer 52. The information includes not only the event and time of opening or closure of container 50, but the expected contents of or identity of container 50 as well. Thus, among a plurality of containers 50 so equipped, drug interactions can be checked according to stored programs in memories and microprocessors included in assemblies 12 or via stored programs in memories in computer 52. Computer 52 may be communicated to the internet 60 by conventional means and thus be connected with an external network, which may include the user's physician, pharmacy or wellness provider. The user's drug compliance can then be monitored and recorded directly by an external monitoring expert system. Failure of compliance or misuse can be detected and automatic messages via computer 52 or the telephone can be initiated to remind the user to take or refrain from taking a particular course of action with respect to drug usage as determined by actual openings of the pharmaceutical containers. A message may then be communicated to assembly 12 through computer 52 or from the onboard memory of the appropriate container 50 among a plurality of containers to provide a customized message concerning the usage of the drug in the container 50. Further, all messages announced by assemblies 12 can be selectively programmed to provide the messages in a language which is native to the user on a case-by-case basis. Such monitoring is particularly useful for senior patients, whose cognitive ability to maintain reliable drug compliance usages may be impaired by age. In other words, assemblies 12 may be provided with isolated onboard or intercommunicated intelligence from other sources to interact with the user according to usage of the containers 50 as detected by assemblies 12.
  • It is also contemplated within the scope of the invention that containers 50 may be arranged and configured not only to allow detection of opening or closure of container 50, but also to be structured as dispensers. In other words, instead of simply a bottle with a cap, container 50 may dispense the medicaments by dosage units like a candy dispenser in which case assemblies 12 detect the dispensing of a dosage unit directly rather than by presumption. The various mechanisms whereby tablets or other dosages units of a drug or item may be effected is again virtually limitless and are well known to those with ordinary skill in the packaging arts. Regardless of the specific dispensing mechanism, the dispensing of a dosage unit occurs through the actuation of some kind of a mechanical element, which actuation can be electrically detected by assembly 12 and exploited as disclosed above.
  • The embodiments of the invention are further illustrated in the context of a pharmaceutical container or pill cap 66. The pill cap 66 has many feature variations. In one embodiment, a visual electronic display 68 is included or coupled to the pill cap 66 for the purpose of indicating to the patient when a medication dose is next scheduled as shown diagrammatically in FIG. 6. Display 68 may be comprised of one or more light emitting diodes (LED). The LED's may be of multiple colors to indicate status information to the patient, namely whether the pill cap 66 has been opened and a dosage dispensed, showing for example a black color, is to be dispensed at a future date, showing for example a green color, and time or is overdue for dispensing, showing for example a red color. The display may show a different color, sound an audible alarm or enter a flashing mode, for example, if opened for dispensing a dosage, which would be duplicate dosage if taken. Display 68 could also comprises an embedded liquid crystal display (LCD) capable of displaying text or graphical information to the patient. The LCD display 68 may also contain an LED backlight light source (not shown) to make viewing in low light conditions easier. The display 68 may be viewed from the top and/or in a side profile of the pill container 66 simultaneously as shown in FIG. 6 to allow the pill cap 66 to be effectively utilized in either a horizontal or vertical stacking arrangement. The display 68 may be modified to contain specific images, such as universal man/woman gender symbols or patient selected identifiers.
  • The illustrated embodiments also include a universal mechanism for indicating when a pill cap 66 has been removed. The mechanism is comprised of an elastomeric membrane switch 72 inset on the inside of the pill cap as depicted in FIG. 7. When the pill cap 66 is attached or coupled to the pill container body 70, the membrane switch 72 is compressed between the cap 66 and top of the pill bottle 70, forcing the membrane switch 72 to be in the closed position. When the pill bottle cap 66 is removed, the membrane switch 72 is no longer compressed between the cap 66 and pill container body 70, thus it is in the open position. An additional time delay is added in programmable circuitry (not shown) coupled to switch 72 between the opening and closing to prevent false detection of a cap removal due to cap misalignment.
  • In addition to the elastomeric switch 72 to provide the pill cap status, a set of pill cap adapter rings 74 is included. The adapter rings 74 are sets of keyed threads designed to mate with the various pill container bodies 70 including those with safety cap features. It is known that the safety features of different off-the-shelf pill container bodies 70 vary by manufacturer. The pill cap 66 with the combination of universal membrane switch 72 and threaded adapter rings 74 provide a method to attach to a wide variety of pill bottles 70 with a single cap design and maintain the ability to detect cap installation and removal events across the entire set of pill bottle varieties.
  • In one embodiment the pill cap 66 may contain a cabled programming port 76 (via USB or any other standardized or proprietary wired interface) as depicted in FIG. 8. A programming cable 78 is connected between the pill cap 66 and a personal computer or some other electronic device such as a smart phone 80 . The purpose of the connection allows the following actions to be performed: data stored on the pill cap 66 may be uploaded to a personal computer or iphone 80. This data may contain information related to the pill cap's usage patterns and battery status. Information regarding the number of times the pill cap 66 was removed and how long it was removed from the pill bottle 70 can be used to derive the frequency of use. Data may be downloaded from the personal computer or iphone 80 to the pill cap 66. The data may contain changes to the dose information including frequency of use or clock update information to circuitry (not shown) included in pill cap 66. This could be used to adjust prescription dosing mid-course. For instance, the patient's doctor can determine that based on at home vital signs or symptoms, that the dosage frequency needs modification. Power may be provided from the programming port 76 to recharge the pill cap battery (not shown). This allows a permanent battery to be installed without the requirement for patient to periodically replace the primary battery. The visual display elements (LED or LCD) may be used to display the charge level of the primary battery to warn the patient of low battery status.
  • In another embodiment, a wireless communications device 82 is included in pill cap 66. The communications device 82 includes a passive, near field communications device using backscatter techniques such as that provided by conventional RFID tags. In this embodiment the patient places the pill bottles 70 on or near a tag reader device 84, which detect which medications are present by interrogating the pill cap 66 through methods such as that conventionally provided by RFID readers.
  • Wireless battery charging of pill cap 66 using an inductive charging process can be employed. The patient sets the pill bottles 70 on a tray or mat 84 that serves as a charging station. The pill caps 66 need not be removed from the pill bottle 70 for charging to occur. Using off the shelf technology for inductive charging is possible with the integration of a spiral PCB antenna (not shown) incorporated in the cap 66. The antenna would be coupled to a battery charging circuit included in cap 66.
  • Cabled programming and wireless communication disclosed above may be combined into a single capability that provides both data communications and power transfer. In this embodiment, the tray or mat 84 previously used for charging also contains a wireless communications device using RF tag technology. When the patient places the pill bottle 70 on the mat 84, the data synchronization with the patient's personal computer or smart device 80 begins. Simultaneously the battery charging function begins using the inductive charging technique disclosed above.
  • Integration of a real time clock into the pill cap 66 is contemplated as a feature in various ones of the illustrated embodiments. The clock maintains the current local time and compares local to a downloaded pill-dispensing schedule. The real time clock is synchronized when connected via the programming port or is set with wireless programming.
  • An acoustic resonator 86 is included in or coupled to cap 66 for generation of audio tones. The sounds may be simple tones or speech playback. The audio tones will be generated from data stored in memory circuitry (not shown) included in the pill cap 66. This data is updated through either the wired programming port or through the wireless data transfer. When the pill cap 66 is removed, a “debouncing period” begins to prevent false detection of a removal. After a fixed period of time if the lid of pill cap 66 remains detached from bottle 70, the audio tone generation begins. The tone samples can be selected based upon patient information such as time of day, required dosage, and/or the next dose schedule.
  • The modularized pill cap design provides the ability to create custom decorative or marked overlays or skins 88 for pill cap 66 as depicted in FIG. 12. Since the cap 66 utilizes keyed adapter rings 74 in order to fit to multiple types of pill bottles, the basic pill cap outline is the same for all pill bottles 70 fitted with the adapter rings 74. Using the fixed outline of the pill cap 66, the decorative or marked overlays 88 may be fabricated to a single design specification. The overlays 88 allow the patient to install custom visual identifiers onto the pill cap 66 to quickly locate medication based on familiar or customized queues selected by the patient.
  • In another embodiment the pill bottle 70 may contain an access security device for PRN Class 2 medications. One method for access security is through the wireless communications feature disclosed above. The patient is issued a paired communications device 90 similar to a key fob. In order for the pill bottle 70 to be opened or opened without an unlawful entry being stored in the pill cap memory, the fob device 90 needs to be in proximity to the pill cap 66. When the fob device 90 and pill bottle were within communications range the pill cap LED 68 changes colors to indicate the bottle 70 is authorized to be open. A another security embodiment includes the integration of a biometric sensor 92 such as a fingerprint scanner as is conventionally used in consumer electronics devices, such as laptops. The fingerprint scanner 92 needs to be accessed by the patient's contact of an index finger, whose finger print pattern has been pre-scanned and downloaded into cap 66, in order to change the pill cap LED color and to allow authorized entry.
  • Many alterations and modifications may be made by those having ordinary skill in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Therefore, it must be understood that the illustrated embodiment has been set forth only for the purposes of example and that it should not be taken as limiting the invention as defined by the following invention and its various embodiments.
  • Therefore, it must be understood that the illustrated embodiment has been set forth only for the purposes of example and that it should not be taken as limiting the invention as defined by the following claims. For example, notwithstanding the fact that the elements of a claim are set forth below in a certain combination, it must be expressly understood that the invention includes other combinations of fewer, more or different elements, which are disclosed in above even when not initially claimed in such combinations. A teaching that two elements are combined in a claimed combination is further to be understood as also allowing for a claimed combination in which the two elements are not combined with each other, but may be used alone or combined in other combinations. The excision of any disclosed element of the invention is explicitly contemplated as within the scope of the invention.
  • The words used in this specification to describe the invention and its various embodiments are to be understood not only in the sense of their commonly defined meanings, but to include by special definition in this specification structure, material or acts beyond the scope of the commonly defined meanings. Thus if an element can be understood in the context of this specification as including more than one meaning, then its use in a claim must be understood as being generic to all possible meanings supported by the specification and by the word itself.
  • The definitions of the words or elements of the following claims are, therefore, defined in this specification to include not only the combination of elements which are literally set forth, but all equivalent structure, material or acts for performing substantially the same function in substantially the same way to obtain substantially the same result. In this sense it is therefore contemplated that an equivalent substitution of two or more elements may be made for any one of the elements in the claims below or that a single element may be substituted for two or more elements in a claim. Although elements may be described above as acting in certain combinations and even initially claimed as such, it is to be expressly understood that one or more elements from a claimed combination can in some cases be excised from the combination and that the claimed combination may be directed to a subcombination or variation of a subcombination.
  • Insubstantial changes from the claimed subject matter as viewed by a person with ordinary skill in the art, now known or later devised, are expressly contemplated as being equivalently within the scope of the claims. Therefore, obvious substitutions now or later known to one with ordinary skill in the art are defined to be within the scope of the defined elements.
  • The claims are thus to be understood to include what is specifically illustrated and described above, what is conceptionally equivalent, what can be obviously substituted and also what essentially incorporates the essential idea of the invention.

Claims (20)

    We claim:
  1. 1. An apparatus for generating an audio and/or visual signal or message when a container having an opening mechanism is opened comprising:
    an activation trigger coupled to the container to determine when the container has been opened, the trigger characterized by an electrical parameter which is dependent on the sealing status of the container;
    an integrated circuit mounted on or within the container or opening mechanism and coupled to the activation trigger to measure the electrical parameter to determine the sealing status of the container and to generate the audio and/or visual signal or message when a determination is made that the container has been opened;
    an acoustic transducer coupled to the integrated circuit; and
    a battery coupled to the integrated circuit, where the integrated circuit, acoustic transducer and battery are combined into a laminated stacked assembly coupled to the container and coupled to the opening mechanism provided in or on the container.
  2. 2. The apparatus of claim 1 where the stacked assembly is integrated into the opening mechanism provided in or on the container.
  3. 3. The apparatus of claim 1 where the stacked assembly comprises the opening mechanism provided in or on the container.
  4. 4. The apparatus of claim 1 where the opening mechanism of the container has a closure with a separable seam, the stacked assembly being included on or in the closure and having a conductive path through or across the seam, where the stacked assembly is activated by separation of the seam upon opening of the closure.
  5. 5. The apparatus of claim 1 where the stacked assembly is disposed on or in a resealable closure of a container through which closure a interruptible circuit path is defined.
  6. 6. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a clock to measure or record the time, since the last loss of continuity on container, where the assembly audible announces the time elapsed since the last time container was opened.
  7. 7. The apparatus of claim 1 in combination with a plurality of stacked assemblies forming a peer-to-peer network or to a local computer network and further comprising an RF communication module included in the stacked assembly, which wirelessly communicates information pertaining to container and/or opening mechanism and its opening or closure to other ones of the plurality of stacked assemblies forming the peer-to-peer network or to the local computer network.
  8. 8. The apparatus of claim 1 where the stacked assembly is provided with isolated onboard or intercommunicated intelligence from other sources to interact with a user according to usage of the containers as detected by the stacked assemblies.
  9. 9. The apparatus of claim 1 where the container comprises a dispenser of an item and is arranged and configured not only to allow detection of opening or closure of container, but dispensing of the item.
  10. 10. An apparatus for generating an audio and/or visual signal or message when a container having an opening mechanism is opened comprising:
    an activation trigger coupled to the container to determine when the container has been opened;
    an integrated circuit mounted on or within the container or opening mechanism and coupled to the activation trigger to determine the sealing status of the container and to generate the audio and/or visual signal or message when a determination is made that the container has been opened; and
    an output device coupled to the integrated circuit for outputting a signal related to a status of container usage, a last opening of the container and/or scheduled next opening of the container.
  11. 11. The apparatus of claim 10 where the trigger is a membrane switch and where the opening mechanism is a cap for the container, the membrane switch being disposed between the cap and container and activated by the closure or opening of the container by the cap.
  12. 12. The apparatus of claim 11 further comprising an adapter ring, where the cap comprises a standardized design and where the adapter ring couples the cap to the container, the container having one predetermined design of a plurality of possible designs for sealing the container, and where the adapter ring adapts the standardized cap to the one predetermined design of the container.
  13. 13. The apparatus of claim 10 further comprising a data connector included within or on the opening mechanism or container and coupled to the integrated circuit.
  14. 14. The apparatus of claim 10 further comprising a wireless transceiver included within or on the opening mechanism or container and coupled to the integrated circuit.
  15. 15. The apparatus of claim 10 further comprising a battery and an inductive charging circuit coupled to the battery included within or on the opening mechanism or container and coupled to the integrated circuit.
  16. 16. The apparatus of claim 10 further comprising a debouncing circuit coupled to the integrated circuit to reliably detect opening or closure of the opening mechanism by delaying activation of the trigger by a predetermined time period after first detection of an opening or closure.
  17. 17. The apparatus of claim 12 further comprising a replaceable overlay disposed on the standardized cap, the overlay selectively provided with a symbol, word or graphic for identification of the container to a user.
  18. 18. The apparatus of claim 10 further comprising a security device coupled to the opening mechanism for selectively locking and unlocking the opening mechanism based on user presentation of a security key to the security device.
  19. 19. A method of management of drug or medicament usage comprising:
    providing a container for holding or dispensing the drug or medicament, the container having an opening mechanism for selectively closing and opening the container;
    detecting a usage status of the container, including an opening or closing of the container, by means of a sensor included on or within the opening mechanism or container;
    communicating the detected usage status of the container from the sensor to an integrated circuit included on or within the opening mechanism or container; and
    automatically outputting a message to a user dependent on the detected usage status of the container and dependent on an intended usage of the drug or medicament by means of the integrated circuit and an output device included on or within the opening mechanism or container.
  20. 20. The method of claim 19 further comprising communicating with the integrated circuit with a computer or data source separate from the opening mechanism and container to determine the message communicated to the user by the integrated circuit and output device.
US13982017 2011-01-28 2011-08-09 Method and Apparatus for Automated Messaging in Beverage Containers Abandoned US20130307683A1 (en)

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US13982017 US20130307683A1 (en) 2011-01-28 2011-08-09 Method and Apparatus for Automated Messaging in Beverage Containers

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WO2012102759A1 (en) 2012-08-02 application
CN103429500A (en) 2013-12-04 application

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