US 20060109620 A1
A computer light for illuminating the computer keyboard or other items in low light environments includes a super bright white LED and a USB plug that enables it to be powered from USB connection ports. The computer light, when connected to a computer, is used by the computer to visually signal the occurrence of certain events selected by the computer, including sensing of an incoming e-mail message, an incoming internet telephone call, an incoming facsimile, and a certain network traffic level.
1. In a computer having a processing unit, an input device coupled to the processing unit; an output device coupled to the processing unit, and an LED device coupled to the processing unit through a computer port, a method of visually signaling a user of the computer, said method comprising the steps of:
sensing an event; and
in response to the sensing of the event, powering ON the LED device to signal the user of the computer.
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7. A computing device comprising:
a processing unit;
a computer port;
a power supply; and
an LED device coupled to the processing unit and the power supply through the computer port,
wherein the processing unit is programmed to sense an event and, in response to the sensing of the event, powers ON the LED device to visually signal the user of the computing device of the event.
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This application is a divisional of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/702,382, filed Nov. 4, 2003, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/847,195, filed May 1, 2001, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,680,844, which claims the benefit of Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/207,446, filed May 30, 2002.
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates generally to a computer light, and more particularly to a portable energy-efficient light that is compatible with a computer port such as the Universal Serial Bus (USB) port or the IEEE1394 (firewire) port.
2. Description of the Related Art
As computer use has increased over the years, computer use in low light environments has increased as well. In low light environments, the user is able to view the screen but oftentimes is unable to see the computer keyboard or view paper notes such as presentation notes or slides. This is inconvenient even for skilled typists because some keys (e.g., arrow, function. and delete keys) are located on the outer edges of the keyboard and thus are hard to locate by feel. At times, the user needs to look at the keyboard and locate the desired key before pressing it, but when there is little or no light for illuminating the keyboard, the user often resorts to guessing and presses the wrong key. In addition oftentimes when a user needs to remove or insert cables into the computer, there is little light in the back of the computer appliance.
Many portable light devices are available for the computer user, but these devices require their own power source and are convenient only for use in conjunction with desktop computers. These devices are simply too bulky to be carried around and used in conjunction with laptop computers. The weight that the portable light device and its power source add to the weight of the laptop computer and the laptop computer's power source is also a limiting factor. For these and other reasons, portable light devices, although useful, have not yet become popular with laptop computer users and handy for desktop computer users.
The invention provides a computer light that illuminates the computer keyboard or other items, such as a document that the computer user is working on, in low light environments. The computer light is lightweight and has a plug that is connectable to a computer port to draw power from the computer's power source. As a result, users of laptop computers may pack and carry around this device with their laptop computers without adding too much extra weight. The computer light is also energy-efficient so that it does not cause an unnecessary power drain on the power supply of the laptop computer. Furthermore, the computer light has an elongated neck that is flexible enough to allow the light head to be positioned with ease but stiff enough to allow the light head to assume a fixed position relative to the computer keyboard or other items when it is not being manipulated.
The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitutes a part of the specification, illustrate presently preferred embodiments of the invention, and together with the general description given above and the detailed description of the preferred embodiments given below, serve to explain the principles of the invention.
The preferred embodiment described below relates to a computer light that is configured to be used with a USB port on a computer, but the invention need not be limited thereto. For example, it is contemplated that a computer light embodying the features of the invention may be configured for use with other computer ports, including, but not limited to, the IEEE1394 (firewire) port.
Functionally, the computer light 10 is a USB-slave device. A USB slave device is a peripheral device that is controlled by any USB master device using a communication protocol known as the USB protocol. Other examples of a USB slave device include scanners, microphones, speakers, and game control devices. USB ports have become increasingly popular in recent years because of their high data rates, industry standard support and compact port design.
An over-molded plastic jacket 30 is formed partially over the USB plug 20. The plastic jacket 30 serves as a handle used during the insertion of the USB plug 20 into a corresponding USB connection port on a computer and a stop limit to prevent the USB plug 20 from being inserted too far into the corresponding USB connection port.
The computer light further includes a gooseneck cable 40 and a light emitting diode (LED) 50. As shown in
The rigidity or stiffness in the gooseneck cable 40 is introduced by a pair of tubings 43, 44, the cross-sections of which are shown in
In the preferred embodiment, the winding direction of the spirals of the inner tubing 43 is the same as the winding direction of the spirals of the outer tubing 44. In alternative embodiments, the winding directions may be different. Further, the invention is not limited to anyone way of introducing rigidity or stiffness to the gooseneck cable 40. Alternative ways are known to those of ordinary skill in the art and the invention is intended to cover all such variations.
The length of the gooseneck cable 40 is preferably about 16-18 inches. Other lengths of the gooseneck cable 40 may be used in accordance with the invention, but based on predictable uses of the computer light, especially with laptop computers, it was determined that the length of 16-18 inches would be convenient to the user. This length makes the computer light 10 easy to handle and allows the LED 50 to be positioned over the top, side; next to the base unit, etc.
The LED 50 produces a super bright white light and is positioned with the gooseneck cable 40 to provide illumination for the computer keyboard, display, side, etc.
When the computer light 10 is inserted into the USB connection port on the host computer or host keyboard, power from the computer's power supply is supplied to the LED 50 by way of the USB plug 20 and the wires in the gooseneck cable.
In the exemplary embodiment, the LED 50 requires 3.64.0 volts and draws approximately 0.020-0.030 milli-amperes. As such, the LED 50 consumes around 0.1 watts when connected to the computer's power supply. Since the computer provides a 5-volt source, the voltage is stepped down to 3.6 volts before being supplied to the LED 50.
Even when it is used constantly and remains ON, the LED 50 decreases the battery life of a laptop computer by only 1 to 3%. One example of an LED that has the above characteristics is an LED manufactured by Nichia. Another advantage of the LED is its very high life expectation. As a result, unlike light bulbs, which need to be replaced fairly often; with an LED, there is little or no need for replacement.
Because the LED 50 draws its power from the computer through the USB connection port, the computer light 10 does not need a battery pack as a power source. Consequently, the lamp design is greatly simplified, has less parts and minimizes weight. In the exemplary embodiment, the total weight of the computer light 10 is less than 3 ounces. In addition, the computer light 10 is very durable and shockproof. Unlike lamps that use light bulbs, there are no parts that can break easily.
As further illustrated in
The details of the LED head assembly are illustrated in
The plastic dear lens 70 alters light beam characteristics of light emitted by the LED 50, e.g., color, amount of dispersal, etc. The surface finish of the lens 70 can be changed to provide different light quality as well as provide a soft glow that can be very pleasing to the user.
Alternatively, the plastic clear lens 70 may include a silvered reflector that is positioned in front of the LED 50. The light from the LED 50 spans a small cone angle and the silvered reflector reflects the light into desirable position, spread, characteristic or intensity.
In addition, the plastic clear lens 70 may include physical or digital ‘mask’ to alter the light beam to convey information to the user such as temperature reading, time, etc. For example, a lensing element plus a miniature liquid crystal display can be used together to produce a light beam that when reflected against a wall can provide a clock feature to the user. Also, a multicolor LED can be used to convey information to the user through the change in the color.
In the three embodiments shown in
The computer program for executing the visual signaling is illustrated as a flow diagram in
In addition, the different information can be conveyed through the use of color through the use of a multicolor LED.
While particular embodiments according to the invention have been illustrated and described above, it will be clear that the invention can take a variety of forms and embodiments within the scope of the appended claims.