US 20040007243 A1
An array of light emitting diodes supported on a self-contained battery-powered microprocessor-controlled decorative hair barrette, hair comb, tiara or like hair ornament are selectively energized to produce dynamic illuminated colored patterns of display.
1. A decorative hair ornament comprising:
a physical body attachable to a wearer's hair;
a plurality of arrayed electrical light sources upon the body; and
a controller, affixed to the body and electrically connected to the plurality light sources, sequencing the plurality of light sources to illuminate in a predetermined pattern of display.
2. The decorative hair ornament according to
a barrette/hair clip attachable to the wearer's hair by clamping.
3. The decorative hair ornament according to
a plurality of light emitting diodes.
4. The decorative hair ornament according to
5. The decorative hair ornament according to
6. The decorative hair ornament according to
7. The decorative hair ornament according to
8. The decorative hair ornament according to
9. The decorative hair ornament according to
a microphone sensing sound to trigger the controller to sequence the plurality of light sources to illuminate in a predetermined pattern of display when a certain sound level is sensed.
10. The decorative hair ornament according to
an illumination sensor sensing ambient illumination to trigger the controller to sequence the plurality of light sources to illuminate in a predetermined pattern of display when a certain level of illumination is sensed.
11. The decorative hair ornament according to
12. The decorative hair ornament according to
a microprocessor; connected to
one or more latches; with an output of each latch connected to an associated one of the plurality of electrical light sources, a setting or a clearing of each latch as is determined by the microprocessor causing the associated one of the plurality of electrical light sources to respectively illuminate of fail to illuminate;
wherein the microprocessor thus controls the sequencing of the plurality of light sources to illuminate in the predetermined pattern of display.
13. The decorative hair ornament according to
14. The decorative hair ornament according to
a source of electrical energy;
wherein the controller selectively gates electrical energy from the source of electrical energy to selected ones of the plurality of light sources so as to control the sequencing of the plurality of light sources to illuminate in the predetermined pattern of display.
15. The decorative hair ornament according to
16. The decorative hair ornament according to
15. The decorative hair ornament according to
16. The decorative hair ornament according to
17. The decorative hair ornament according to
18. A decorative hair ornament comprising:
a barrette/hair clip attachable to the wearer's hair by clamping;
a plurality of arrayed Light Emitting Diode light sources upon the barrette/hair clip; and
a microprocessor controller, affixed to the barrette/hair clip and electrically connected to the plurality light sources, selectively electrically energizing ones of the plurality of light sources to cause the plurality of light sources to selectively illuminate in a predetermined pattern of display.
 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.
 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.
 Referring particularly to the drawings for the purpose of illustration only and not to limit the scope of the invention in any way, these illustrations follow:
FIG. 1, consisting of FIGS. 1a and 1 b, are plan views respectively on the top, and the side, of a preferred embodiment of the present invention in the configuration of a barrette.
FIG. 2, consisting of FIGS. 2a and 2 b, is a schematic diagram of the preferred embodiment of a hair ornament in accordance with the present invention previously seen in FIG. 1.
 The following description is of the best mode presently contemplated for the carrying out of the invention. This description is made for the purpose of illustrating the general principles of the invention, and is not to be taken in a limiting sense. The scope of the invention is best determined by reference to the appended claims.
 Although specific embodiments of the invention will now be described with reference to the drawings, it should be understood that such embodiments are by way of example only and are merely illustrative of but a small number of the many possible specific embodiments to which the principles of the invention may be applied. Various changes and modifications obvious to one skilled in the art to which the invention pertains are deemed to be within the spirit, scope and contemplation of the invention as further defined in the appended claims.
 An exemplary embodiment of the present invention in the configuration of a barrette 1 is shown in top plan view in FIG. 1a, and in side plan view in FIG. 1b. The barrette 1 has within its preferably plastic body 11 an arrayed plurality of light sources 12, preferably light emitting diodes. The barrette is held to the hair of a wearer (not shown) by a pivoting clip 13, normally and preferably made of spring steel.
 A body of a decorative hair ornament in accordance with the present invention may alternatively be configured as a hair comb having teeth, the comb being attachable to the wearer's hair by having its teeth lodged within the hair. Still further alternatively, the body of the decorative hair ornament may be configured as (i) a tiara, the tiara being attachable to the wearer's hair by spanning over a portion of the head of the wearer with compressive grasping force, or even (ii) a stick pin, the ornament being attachable to the wearer's hair by having its stick pin stuck into the wearer's hair. It will be understood the gravamen of the present invention is the production of sequential illuminated patterns of display with and in a hair ornament, and not in the gross physical shape of the ornament, which may be substantially conventionally (i) sized and (ii) mounted to the hair in accordance with innumerable historical ornaments for the hair.
 The LEDs 12 of the barrette 1 are arrayed in a regular geometric pattern, here some three (3) rows of sixteen (16) LEDs each row collectively occupying the area of a rectangle. Other shapes of the plastic body 11, and other patterns and areas of the arrayed LEDs 12—such as concentric rings that collectively enclose a circle—are possible.
 The body 11 optionally, but preferably, further mounts a microphone 14, or a photocell 15, or both. Each of a battery 16 and sequencing controller circuits 17 are concealed in associated cavities at the underside of the body 11. Connection of all electrical components, including the LEDs 12, is via flexible printed circuit cable 18, shown in edge view in FIG. 1b. The substantial portions of each of the LEDs 12, the microphone 14 and the photocell 15 as well as, most typically, all of the sequencing controller circuits 17 and the flexible printed circuit cable 18, are concealed within the plastic body 11, which body 11 is normally molded about these components. The only electrical component subject to detachment/replacement is the battery 16, and access to this is normally obtained by a small rotary or sliding cover of conventional construction.
 The LEDs 12 are preferably of the surface mount type, widely available from suppliers such as Radio Shack Corporation.
 The microphone 14 is preferably type Horn Ind EM6050.
 The photocell 15 is preferably type PerkinElmer VT90N2.
 The battery 16 is preferably type Panasonic CR2354.
 These and other electrical components are shown in the schematic diagram of FIG. 2, consisting of FIGS. 2a and 2 b. Referring to FIG. 2, a microprocessor 171, preferably type PIC16F872, is powered for operation by voltage from battery 16.
 The microprocessor 171, which runs a contained control microprogram, is, however, optionally keyed for operation by signals above a certain threshold as are received from either the microphone 14, or the photocell 15, or both. For example, the microprocessor 171 may be keyed to initiate sequencing of the LEDs 12, or to stepwise advance in the sequencing, only upon the detection of a change of state—such as indicative of sound level, or “beat”—in a signal from the microphone 14.
 Alternatively, or complementarily, the microprocessor 171 may be keyed to initiate sequencing of the LEDs 12 only upon detection of a signal from photocell 15 indicating such a low detected light level as would dictate that the LEDs 12, as and when illuminated by signals from the microprocessor 171, might reasonably be seen.
 The LEDs 12, nominally grouped as six groups of eight LEDs each, shown within FIG. 2b, are coupled so that three (3) LEDs are electrically connected to each of the sixteen output signal lines of the microprocessor 171, making forty-eight (48) LEDs 12 in total number. Clearly all three LEDs that are electrically connected in parallel upon a same signal line can be independently controlled by the microprocessor 171 to illuminate, or to extinguish, as a group. The (nominal) three (3) LEDS 12 of each group may be, and preferably are, arranged as one line, or row, of the array shown in FIG. 1, but this is not the only possible manner of locating the LEDs of a group,
 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.
 In accordance with the preceding explanation, variations and adaptations of the hair ornament presenting sequenced decorative illumination patterns in accordance with the present invention will suggest themselves to a practitioner of the electromechanical arts. For example, the presented surface of the ornament and its light sources can be circular and, depending upon how the ornament's light sources (the LEDs 12) are both (i) placed and (ii) wired, various patterns of flashing concentric rings (in one embodiment) or spirals (in another embodiment) can be realized.
 In accordance with these and other possible variations and adaptations of the present invention, the scope of the invention should be determined in accordance with the following claims, only, and not solely in accordance with that embodiment within which the invention has been taught.