BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention generally concerns electrically illuminated decorations for the hair.
The present invention more particularly concerns self-contained decorative hair barrettes, combs, ornaments and like hair pieces having (1) a large number of light sources that are typically both (2a) arrayed, and (2b) sequenced so as to produce not merely light emissions, but decorative colored patterns of display.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Hair decorations of many varieties are well known in the art. Such decorations are normally held by hair barrettes, clips, combs, or other variety of means used to temporarily secure ornaments or decorations to the hair. It is also known to make hair decorations that are electrically illuminated.
Specifically, illuminating ornamentation and decorations known in the prior art include those of U.S. Pat. No. 3,501,628 which discloses an illuminated hair ornament that provides tiny lamps placed throughout the hair to give an illuminated or sparkling effect. The lamps are operated by a battery housing through the use of concealed wires which are connected thereto. The device tends to be cumbersome and is a problem in that considerable attention must be paid to properly placing the device and the individual lamps in one's hair.
In a similar fashion, the device of U.S. Pat. No. 3,758,771, is used to illuminate a wig through the use of fiber optic members. The light emitting ends of the fibers are interspersed throughout the hair and connect to a miniaturized light source made of a battery, an electric lamp, and a switch. The device is cumbersome and not practical for routine use to decorate the hair.
In U.S. Pat. No. 4,998,186 to Cocca a decorative hair ornament is described in which a light source is provided for illuminating optical fibers. This patent for a DECORATIVE HAIR ORNAMENT shows (1) a decorative hair ornament using (2) optic fibers attached to (3) a means of fastening the ornament to the hair. A plurality of optic fibers are extended outwardly controlled by a light source including a battery and diode. Decorations such as gemstones, artificial flowers, and the like are provided to conceal the elements of the light source for the fiber optics. However, the preferred power is from a 3.5 V battery, which can present problems of obscuration.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,463,537 to Trattner, et al., for a FLASHING LIGHT DEVICE concerns a device capable of flashing upon movement. The device has (1) at least one light emitting diode having a first preformed conductor connected to a cathode of the diode and a second preformed conductor connected to an anode of the diode; (2) a first arrangement providing a power source having a positive terminal and a negative terminal, the negative terminal being connected to the first conductor; (3) a normally open contact lever coupled to the positive terminal capable of closing a connection to the second conductor resulting in light being emitted from the diode; and (4) a second arrangement associated with a lever responsive to movement of the device to cause intermittent closing of the connection to the second conductor resulting in the diode flashing.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,573,017 to Post for an OPTICAL ORNAMENT shows an optical ornament where optic fibers are attached to a fastener for purpose of attaching the ornament to a person's hair, clothing or body, or else to an object. A number of optical fibers are extended outwardly from a portion of the ornament adapted to receive and focus light and are illuminated in the absence of added electrical energy. Decorations such as gemstones, artificial flowers, and the like are provided to decorate the fastener and to color the light transmitted through the fibers from a portion of the ornament adapted to receive and focus light.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,727,577 to Post for an OPTICAL ORNAMENT concerns an optical ornament having optic fibers, which ornament can be attached to clothing, hair, a person's body, an animal, or an object. Light is received and focused onto a plurality of optic fibers which can be extended outwardly, whereby the optic fibers are illuminated in the absence of added electrical energy. Decorations such as gemstones, artificial flowers, and the like are provided to decorate the optical ornament and to color the light transmitted through the fibers.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,934,784 to Dion for an ILLUMINATED ARTICLE OF APPAREL concerns an intermittently illuminated article of apparel which including a light source and a flasher connected to the light source. The flasher may include a pulse generator, which, in turn, may further include a digital oscillator for generating sequential pulses of voltage, which are supplied to the light source. The article further includes a battery holder connected to the flasher for holding a battery, and a ball mountable on the hair of a wearer by an elastic member connected thereto. This ball may be made in two separable and re-assemblable sections, to provide ready access to the interior thereof as needed. These sections may be configured so that they can be snapped together and pulled apart readily by the user.
Accordingly, within the prior art there have been no ornamentation devices that, while being quickly and efficiently attached to the hair (i.e., not being of the kinds of specialty headdress featured in festivals such as Mardi Gras), feature sequenced illumination from a number of light sources. Also, the devices of the prior art, because of their technology, tent to have problems with obscuration, and must be very carefully placed in one's hair so as to conceal any of wires, sockets and mountings for light sources, batteries, or any number of elements that are not intended to be a part of the sought after aesthetic effect.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention contemplates self-contained decorative hair barrettes, combs, ornaments and like hair pieces integrally containing each of (i) an energy source, (ii) a number of miniature light sources that are most typically arrayed, and (iii) control circuitry for sequencing the light sources in various decorative patterns of display.
The electric hair piece of the present invention depends upon a number of electronic technologies that, while having variously existed some few decades, have only now, circa 2002, come to be of such modest cost that their use can be contemplated in a decorative item intended to be inexpensively produced and sold in mass quantities at prices suitable for purchase and use by, among other individuals, young girls and children. Namely, the most preferred embodiment of the electric hair piece preferably uses (i) a plastic and metal barrette, on and to which is aesthetically mounted each of (ii) subminiature, “hearing aid type” batteries, (iii) arrayed Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), (iv) integrated semiconductor control circuitry, and (v) printed flexible conductor cable. Use of parts that are uniformly “modern” and “state of the art” permits realization of a wearable and self-contained small device that is (i) capable of producing relatively sophisticated, sequenced, colored displays nonetheless to being each of (ii) small, (iii) ruggeded and long lasting, (iv) simple of operation, and (v) economical.
Accordingly, it is a first object of the present invention to provide a decorative hair ornament that is attractive, and that presents interesting and noticeable displays. To this end (i) the ornament and its exposed surfaces of the ornament are conventional in sizes and types for objects held in the hair; (ii) a sequencing controller (preferably a microprocessor) and a battery power source and their associated circuitry are artfully concealed; and (iii) the light sources, preferably light emitting diodes, are each of regularly arrayed, suitably exposed, and dynamically sequenced in patterns of display that are regular (at least in desired parts), colorful, long ongoing before repeating and generally interesting, especially to children.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a decorative hair ornament that is readily understandable, and operable, including both in its attachment to the hair and in its initiation of the sequenced illumination, including by children.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a decorative hair ornament that uses inexpensive colored light emitting diodes (LEDs) in a decorative pattern.
It is still another object of the present invention to provide a decorative hair ornament in all control circuitry and a battery are attached to the ornament and concealed from view by decorative means such as the body of the ornament, decorative gemstones, artificial flowers and the like.
These and other objects are accomplished by a decorative hair ornament in accordance with the present invention using both (i) arrayed colored LEDs, and (ii) a controller of the LEDs to produce sequenced colored patterns of display.
These and other aspects and attributes of the present invention will become increasingly clear upon reference to the following drawings and accompanying specification.
The microprocessor-controlled illumination of the arrayed LEDs 12, most readily visible in FIG. 1a, most commonly produces “marching”, or “stepping”, or “skipping”, or “scanning” lines and/or also bars. Insofar as successive groups of three LEDs each group have differing colors one group to the next, the sequenced display will flash different colors. In accordance with such microprogrammed control as will be obvious to a practitioner of the digital control arts, the LEDs 12 can normally be selectively turned on (and selectively off) (i) independently one line or bar at a time, and/or, at separate times, (ii) as multiple lines, or bars, at the same time, up to and including turning all LEDs on at one. Furthermore, all LEDs of all groups that are a one color can be illuminated at one time, followed by another color, and then by yet another, third, color. Still other diverse patterns of array organization, and sequenced displays, are possible—all as is substantially routine in the illuminated display art.