CROSS REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/773,353 which was filed Feb. 5, 2004.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to light display structures and lighted commodities that include these structures.
2. Description of the Related Art
A variety of light display structures have been provided in response to the advantageous features of light-emitting diodes (e.g., low voltage, low heating, low maintenance, color diversity and long life). These structures, however, have generally been complex and expensive to produce.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Advantageous light display structure embodiments are formed with light-emitting elements. The drawings and the following description provide an enabling disclosure and the appended claims particularly point out and distinctly claim disclosed subject matter and equivalents thereof.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIGS. 1A and 1B are top and side views of a light display structure embodiment of the present invention and FIG. 1C is an enlarged view of another embodiment for structure within the curved line 1C of FIG. 1B;
FIG. 2 is an enlarged isometric view of the light display structure of FIGS. 1A and 1B that illustrates additional light display structure embodiments;
FIGS. 3A-3D are views along the plane 3-3 of FIG. 1B that illustrate additional light display structure embodiments;
FIG. 4 is an isometric view of the light display structure of FIG. 3C which emphasizes its flexible, elongate form;
FIGS. 5A and 5B are views of additional light display structures that can be carried on the structure of FIG. 4;
FIGS. 6A-6C are enlarged plan views of another light display structure embodiment;
FIGS. 7A and 7B are enlarged views along the plane 7-7 of FIG. 6B that illustrate additional light display structure embodiments;
views along the plane 5-5 of FIG. 4B that illustrate additional light display structure embodiments;
FIG. 8 is an enlarged view similar to FIG. 6B that illustrates additional light display structure embodiments;
FIG. 9 is an enlarged view along the plane 9-9 of FIG. 8 that illustrates additional light display structure embodiments;
FIG. 10A is a top view of another light display structure embodiment embodiments;
FIG. 10B is a view along the plane 10B-10B of FIG. 10A;
FIG. 10C is a top view of another light display structure embodiment;
FIG. 10D is a view along the plane 10D-10D of FIG. 10C;
FIG. 11 is a plan view of another light display structure embodiment;
FIGS. 12A-12D are enlarged views of structural embodiments within the curved line 12 of FIG. 11;
FIGS. 13A-13D are views that illustrate assembly of another light display structure embodiment;
FIG. 14A is a plan view of another light display structure embodiment;
FIG. 14B is a view along the plane 14B-14B in FIG. 14A;
FIG. 15A shows plan and side views of another light display structure embodiment;
FIG. 15B is an isometric view which shows the embodiment of FIG. 15A arranged in an array of similar embodiments; and
FIGS. 16-21 show light display structure embodiments in association with different articles of merchandise
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIGS. 1-21 illustrate advantageous light display structure embodiments that can be economically fabricated and assembled.
Attention is initially directed to FIGS. 1A and 1B which illustrate a display structure embodiment 20 for energizing at least one light-emitting element 22. The structure includes first and second spaced elongate conductors 24 and 25 and at least one support member in the form of a spacer that is coupled and positioned to support the spaced conductors.
In particular and as indicated by a spacer 26A, the spacers each define an aperture 28 to receive the light-emitting element as it contacts the first and second conductors 24 and 25. The spacer 26A illustrates the aperture 28 while the spacer 26B illustrates reception of the light-emitting element 22 into the aperture. Each spacer 26 also defines at least one light redirector 30 that is positioned to redirect light away from its respective light-emitting element 22.
In particular, the light redirector may be configured in any of various forms (e.g., a reflective wall or a refractive wall) that will direct at least a portion of the light away from the spacer. For simplicity, the light redirector will subsequently be referred to as a wall which may be flat in one embodiment. In another embodiment, it preferably has a concave shape as shown in FIG. 1A. In another embodiment, the wall may have a substantially parabolic shape to enhance redirection of the light.
In the structure embodiment of FIGS. 1A and 1B, each spacer 26 defines first and second walls 32 and 33 that diverge with increasing distance from one side of their aperture 28 and third and fourth walls 34 and 35 that diverge with increasing distance from another side of their aperture 28. In one embodiment, the spacer may include a base 38 that defines the aperture 28 and the walls extend upward from the base.
As shown in FIG. 1B, the display structure may include a polymer (e.g., a thermoplastic or a thermosetting polymer) insulator 40 that encloses the second conductor 25. In this case, the insulator preferably defines an opening 41 positioned to facilitate contact between the light-emitting element and the second conductor 25. The spacers 22 are positioned to space the first and second conductors apart locally while the insulator 40 insures they do not contact elsewhere.
Although the light display structures of the invention may carry various light-emitting elements, the structure 20 of FIGS. 1A and 1B is especially suited to carry a light-emitting diode (LED) which is received in the aperture 28 with its cathode in contact with the second conductor 25 and its anode in contact with the first conductor 24.
In operation of the light display structure 20, a voltage is applied between the first and second conductors 24 and 25 which energizes the LED and causes light to be emitted from its light-emitting junction 44. As shown in FIG. 1A, the light radiates from the junction so that some light rays 46 issue directly away from the spacer 26B and other light rays 48 are redirected by the walls 32-34 to also radiate away from the spacer 26B.
As shown in FIG. 1C, another display structure may apply (e.g., by printing, transfer printing, silkscreening) an insulator 50 on the second conductor 25. The insulator is arranged (e.g., by masking or by ablating) to define a gap or aperture 52 into which the LED is received, i.e., the insulator 50 is configured to permit coupling of the LED to the second conductor.
The enlarged isometric view 60 of FIG. 2 supplements FIGS. 1A and 1B. It shows a strip 62 that facilitates fabrication of the spacers (26 in FIGS. 1A and 1B). The strip can be easily molded from a polymer and has a base 38 that defines apertures 28 and walls 30 that extend upward from the base. For example, the walls may include the first and second walls 32 and 33 that diverge with increasing distance from one side of their aperture 28 and the third and fourth walls 34 and 35 that diverge with increasing distance from another side of their aperture 28. Although not required, the diverging walls preferably abut at their ends that are proximate to their respective aperture. The walls terminate in a back wall 63 and a top wall 64.
A light-emitting element 22 in the form of an LED is shown in the process of being received into an aperture 28. Joining elements 65 and 66 are preferably formed of conductive materials (e.g., conductive epoxy, solder, reflow solder) and are provided to join the diode's anode to the first conductor 24 and the diode's cathode to the second conductor 25. This operation insures electrical continuity between the first and second conductors and their respective contacts of the LED. When a voltage is imposed between the conductors, the LED is energized and light is radiated from the diode's junction 44 and at least a portion of that light is redirected latterly away from the conductors 24 and 25 by the walls 30.
The strip 62 may be formed with a notch 68 that facilitates separation of one spacer from an adjoining spacer. As shown in FIG. 2, various other strip embodiments may be formed. For example, the spacer structure 70 defines two wall structures that face oppositely to be operative with apertures 28A and 28B. In an assembly process, spacers can be easily broken from the strip 62 (with aid, for example, from the notch 68) and spaced along the first and second conductors as shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B.
The first and second conductors 24 and 25 and their spacers 26 may be enclosed with various substantially-transparent structures to form elongate radiating elements. For example, FIG. 3A (a view along the plane 3-3 of FIG. 1B) shows them enclosed in a thermoplastic shrink tube 80 and FIG. 3B shows them enclosed by a thermoplastic molded cover 82 (the spacer's back wall 63 is indicated in each of these figures). In FIG. 3C, the cover 82 has been modified to a cover 84 that defines a mounting surface 85 that can abut, for example, a floor or wall.
In FIG. 3D, the cover 82 of FIG. 3B has been modified to a cover 86 that defines a pair of protrusions 87 in addition to defining the mounting surface 85 of FIG. 3C (the protrusions appear as outward-extending ribs when envisioned in the elongate structure 90 of FIG. 4 which is described below). Because of the flexible nature of these protrusions or ribs, they flex and absorb the pressure of an impinging object (e.g., a pedestrian's shoe) to thereby prevent damage to light-emitting elements within (as shown in FIG. 2).
In FIG. 3E, the cover 82 of FIG. 3B has been modified to a cover 88 that defines a mounting flange 89 which can facilitate attachment (e.g., with adhesive, with mechanical elements such as rivets or by sewing) to various objects (e.g., footwear, clothing apparel and architectural mountings).
Structures such as those of FIGS. 3A-3E can be used to form elongate light display structures such as the structure 90 of FIG. 4 which can be bent into various forms and which radiates light laterally when a voltage is placed across the first and second conductors 24 and 25.
Transparent or translucent decorative FIG. 92 can be molded in various forms that slide onto (or snap over) the structure 90 as shown in FIG. 5A. Alternatively, a decorative FIG. 94 can include a hinged member 95 (a non-engaged position is shown in broken lines) which facilitates its installation over the structure 90 as shown in FIG. 5B.
FIGS. 6A-6C illustrate another display structure embodiment 100 for carrying at least one light-emitting element 22. As shown particularly in FIG. 6A, a spacer 102 is shaped to define an array of apertures 22 and also to define an array of cup-shaped walls 104 that each surround a respective one of the apertures. FIG. 6B shows an array of light-emitting elements 22 that are each received in a respective one of the apertures. FIG. 6B also shows a plurality of first conductors 24 that each contact a first side of a selected group of the light-emitting elements 22. These conductors are also shown in FIG. 7A which is an enlarged view along the plane 7-7 of FIG. 6B.
In particular, FIG. 7A shows the spacer 102 positioned to space the first and second conductors 24 and 25 with a light-emitting element received in an aperture to contact the first and second conductors. The second conductor 25 may comprise a plurality of elongate conductors (similar to the first conductors 24 in FIG. 6B) or may comprise a conductive sheet that contacts all of the light-emitting elements of FIG. 6B.
In one light display embodiment, the light-emitting elements are LEDs which radiate light from their light-emitting junctions 44. When a voltage is placed across the first and second conductors, the LEDs are energized and light rays 106 are radiated from the junction 44 and redirected laterally from the plane of the spacer 102 by the cup-shaped wall 104 as shown in FIG. 7A.
The first conductors 24 of FIG. 6B are shown to have a linear form but this is one of many possible embodiments. FIG. 6C, for example, shows a first elongate conductor 24A which is configured to contact various selected light-emitting elements that do not lie along a linear path. These elements can be selected so that the radiated light forms various figures (e.g., a letter, a number or a word) frofm the array of light-emitting elements.
The cup-shaped wall 104 of FIG. 7A is shown to have a concave shape which may be substantially parabolic to enhance the redirected radiation. FIG. 7B is similar to FIG. 7A with like elements indicated by like reference numbers. Similar to the spacer 102 of FIG. 7A, a spacer 110 is positioned to space the first and second conductors and it defines an array of apertures to each receive a respective one of the light-emitting elements 22 as it contacts respective ones of the first and second conductors.
In contrast to the spacer 102, however, the spacer 110 defines a cup-shaped wall 112 that has a flat shape rather than the concave shape of the wall 104 of FIG. 7A. Also the spacer 110 spaces the first and second conductors apart without completely filling the space between these conductors. Instead, the spacer 110 comprises a sheet that is formed to define the cup-shaped wall 112 and to contact the second conductor 25 locally and contact the first conductor 24 in other regions.
FIG. 8 illustrates another light-emitting structure 120 which is similar to the structure 100 of FIG. 6B with like elements indicated by like reference numbers. The structure 120, however, includes a substantially-transparent sheet 122 formed of a suitable polymer (e.g., mylar). The first conductors 24 can be bonded to the sheet 122 and the sheet is then placed to bring these conductors into contact with their respective light-emitting elements 22.
As shown in FIG. 9 (a view along the plane 9-9 of FIG. 8), the sheet 122 and its first conductors 24 may be locally shaped to form dimples 124 that enhance contact between the conductors and their respective light-emitting elements 22. In another light-emitting structure embodiment, the sheet 124 may carry photoluminescent films 126 (e.g., phosphor films, conjugated polymer, organic phosphor). In operation of this embodiment, light rays 128 from the light-emitting element 22 are redirected by the cup-shaped wall (104 in FIG. 8) to strike the phosphor films. In response to this excitation, the luminescent films emit light rays 130. Different luminescent films may be used to selectively display different colors.
Semiconductor LEDs have been configured to emit light with a variety of wavelengths and, generally, the forward voltage drop of these LEDs increases as the wavelength decreases. For example, red, yellow and green LEDs typically exhibit forward voltage drops in the respective ranges of 1.8-2.0 volts, 2.0-2.2 volts and 2.2-2.5 volts. In addition, each LED typically has a specified forward current that is recommended to enhance LED performance parameters (e.g., intensity, dissipation and lifetime).
Accordingly, it may be desirable to insert a resistive member between the LEDs of the light display structures and their associated first and second conductors. This is exemplified in FIG. 2 where a resistive member 136 (e.g., a resistive film such as a thin film resistor, a thick film resistor, conductive paste, conductive epoxy) is inserted between the anode of the LED 22 and the first conductor 24 (the insertion is indicated by insertion arrow 138—e.g., the member can be carried over the anode). Alternatively, the resistive member may be inserted between the cathode of the LED 22 and the second conductor 25.
The resistivity and cross section of the resistive member 136 are configured to realize a predetermined resistance which will provide the specified forward current when a selected supply voltage is applied via the first and second conductors 24 and 25. An exemplary green LED, for example, is specified to have a forward voltage drop of 2.8 volts and a forward current of 20 milliamps. For this particular LED, the resistivity and cross section of the resistive member 136 would preferably be configured to provide a resistance that increases through the range of 10 to 100 ohms when the selected supply voltage increases through the range of 3.0 to 4.8 volts.
In general, the resistivity and cross section of the resistive member 136 are chosen to realize the specified forward current in response to a provided supply voltage. To enhance conductivity between elements, conductive films may be carried on the anode and cathode surfaces and also inserted between the resistive member and its associated one of the first and second conductors.
FIGS. 10A-10D illustrate other light display embodiments of the present invention. In particular, FIG. 10 A shows a light display embodiment 140 in which the first and second conductors 24 and 25 are arranged (e.g., side by side) to facilitate the insertion of wire bonds 142 that couple a selected one of the anode and cathode surfaces (wherein the anode surface has been selected in FIG. 10A) of LEDs 22 to the first conductor 24.
As shown in FIG. 10B, a resistive member 136 (introduced in FIG. 2) is preferably inserted between the LED 22 and the wire bond 142. In addition, the LED's anode and cathode (and the resistive member 136) may be joined to the wire bond 136 and the second conductor 25 with conductive elements 65 and 66 (also introduced in FIG. 2).
FIG. 10C illustrates a light display embodiment 160 that is similar to the embodiment 140 of FIG. 10A with like elements indicated by like reference numbers. In this embodiment, however, the first conductor 24 is modified to a conductor 164 which defines a plurality of tabs 166. Each of the LEDs 22 is then coupled between the second conductor 25 and a respective one of the tabs 166. FIG. 10D is similar to FIG. 10B except that the conductor 164 and its tab 166 is substituted for the first conductor 24 and the wire bond 142.
The light display embodiments of FIGS. 10A-10D may also be enclosed with various substantially-transparent structures to form elongate radiating elements. In FIGS. 3A-3D, for example, they can be substituted for the light display embodiments of FIGS. 1A-1C and 2 (which are represented in FIGS. 3A-3D by first and second conductors 24 and 25 and a spacer's back wall 63).
The light display structure embodiments shown in FIGS. 1-10D are simple and comprise few parts so that they can be economically fabricated from various polymers and quickly assembled. They lend themselves for realization in a variety of forms. For example, they can be realized in elongate display structures wherein light is directed laterally from the elongate shape or sheet-like display structures wherein light is directed laterally from the sheet. The descriptions of these embodiments include walls which are light redirectors that may be configured in various forms (e.g., reflective or refractive walls).
The spacers (e.g., 26, 102) shown in various ones of the figures, the insulator 40 of FIG. 1B, the tube 80 of FIG. 3A, the cover 82 of FIG. 3B and the transparent sheet 122 of FIGS. 8 and 9 can be fabricated from various insulators such as polymers (e.g., polyimide and mylar). The first and second conductors (24 and 25 in FIG. 2) may be formed from various conductive metal foils (e.g., copper and silver). The spacers may also be fabricated in colors that enhance the light redirected from their respective LEDs.
In an exemplary display embodiment, the photoluminescent films 126 of FIG. 9 may include conjugate polymers and organic phosphors that are excited, for example, by blue LEDs to thereby cause the redirected light rays 130 to be substantially white.
FIG. 11 illustrates another light display structure in the form of a flexible light wire 200 which can provide an extensive set of light source embodiments 202 that are spaced along a substrate 204 which is preferably formed from a flexible material (e.g., a polymer). FIG. 12A is an enlarged view of the area 12 in FIG. 11 and FIG. 12B is a sectioned side view of the structure of FIG. 12A. These figures show that an embodiment 202A of the light source is formed with the aid of apertures 205 in the substrate 204. Received within each aperture is a light-emitting element which, in this embodiment, is an LED 206 that has a light-emitting junction 44 defined by abutted upper and lower electrodes 207 and 208 (a more general designation of the structures previously referred to as anode and cathode).
To facilitate energization of the light source 202A, first and second conductors 211 and 212 are respectively dispensed along the upper and lower surfaces of the substrate 204 with the first conductor contacting the upper electrode 207 and the second conductor 212 contacting the lower electrode 208. In one forming embodiment, this may be quickly accomplished with conventional wire bonding processes and equipment. For example, the first conductor 211 can be rapidly dispensed along the substrate 204 to a point adjacent the aperture 205.
A first bond 221 is then formed at the substrate adjacent the aperture 205 after which the first conductor continues to be dispensed. A second bond 222 is then formed and attached to the upper electrode 207 after which the first conductor continues to be dispensed. A third bond 223 is then formed and attached to the substrate adjacent the aperture.
Having formed and attached the first, second and third bonds, the first conductor is subsequently pulled down to the next aperture and the wire bonding process continued. A similar wire bonding process is used to rapidly install the second conductor 212 to the substrate 204 and the lower electrode 208. Each LED will then be energized when a voltage potential is placed across the first and second conductors.
Various wire bonding processes may be used (e.g., the bonds 221, 222 and 223 may be balls formed by melting of gold wire or may be wedge contacts formed with ultrasonic processes). In other embodiments of the first and second conductors 211 and 21-2, segments of these conductors may be printed-circuit paths formed with conventional printed circuit processes. In one embodiment, for example, only those segments of the first conductor 211 of FIGS. 12A and 12B between the bonds 221 and 223 are formed with wire bonding processes and the other segments of the first conductor are formed with printed circuit processes. The second conductor can be formed with a similar combination of processes.
FIGS. 12C and 12D show another light source embodiment 202B that is similar to the light source 202A of FIGS. 12A and 12B with like elements indicated by like reference numbers. In contrast, however, a portion 225 of the upper electrode 207 is broken away to expose a portion of the lower electrode 208. This permits the second conductor 212 to be moved from its location in FIG. 12B (i.e., adjacent the lower substrate surface) to join the first conductor 211 adjacent the upper substrate surface. In FIG. 12C, accordingly, the second conductor 212 is now wire bonded to the upper substrate surface and to the exposed portion of the lower electrode 208.
From FIGS. 11-12D, it is thus apparent that the structures of the light wires 202A and 202B facilitate a rapid, economical fabrication process. Once fabricated and installed, an energy source (e.g., battery) can be placed across the first and second conductors 211 and 212 to simultaneously energize each LED 206 along the light wire so that it emits light 226 as shown in FIGS. 12B and 12D. The substrate 204 may be formed of a variety of materials such as a laminated film or an extruded polymer (e.g., thermoplastic or thermosetting polymer). Flexibility of the substrate will enhance the flexibility of the light wire 200 of FIG. 11.
The light wire 200 can be environmentally protected with an applied overcoat 228 formed, for example, of heat-shrinkable tubing, a polymer sleeve or a conformal coat. Prior to the overcoat, each LED 206 can be surrounded by a protective coat 229 of a substantially transparent material (e.g., epoxy). This coat may be configured with an index of refraction that enhances emission of the light 226. The coat and the overcoat are especially suitable if the LEDs have not been passivated.
In another light source embodiment, a resistive member 230 (similar to resistive member 136 introduced with respect to FIG. 2) is inserted in FIG. 12B between a second bond 222 and the upper electrode 207 of the LED 206 as indicated by insertion arrow 232. The resistive member facilitates control of the emitted light 226. As previously disclosed, for example, it facilitates control over the forward voltage drop and/or the forward current of the LED to thereby alter and enhance the appearance of the emitted light 226.
In another light source embodiment, the resistive member may be inserted between the lower electrode 208 of the LED and its respective bond. Alternatively, resistive members can be inserted to abut each of the upper and lower electrodes. In other light source embodiments, resistive members may be inserted in similar manners in the light source embodiment of FIGS. 12C and 12D. In these latter embodiments, the resistive members will abut the upper electrode and/or the exposed portion 208 of the lower electrode.
It is noted that FIGS. 12B and 12D show the LED 206 and the substrate 204 to have substantially-similar heights or thicknesses. In other light display embodiments, however, they may differ. For example, the thickness of the substrate 204 may be reduced so that the LED junction 44 is above the substrate which may enhance emission of the light 226.
FIGS. 13A-13D illustrate another light display structure in the form of a light bulb 240 (shown in 3 orthogonal views in FIG. 13D) which is formed with a light wire 242 that provides a set of light sources 202C that are spaced along a polymer substrate 244 (shown, for example, in FIG. 13A). The polymer substrate 244 is similar in composition to the polymer substrate 204 in FIG. 11 but its form differs as it has a cross-like shape which includes legs 245 that couple to a longer leg 246. A first conductor 211 runs through some of the light sources 202C and is coupled to an orthogonal conductor 247 which runs through the other light sources 202C.
FIG. 13B illustrates an elongate metallic heat sink 250 in association with the light wire 242. This figure shows the legs 245 and the longer leg 246 in a fabrication process wherein they are being bent so that they can each run down a respective side of the heat sink 250. As shown in FIG. 13C, this process has been continued until each of the legs (e.g., the legs 245) are in contact with the sides of the heat sink 250.
The light source 202C is similar to the light source 202A of FIG. 12A with like elements indicated by like reference numbers. In contrast to the light source 202A, however, the light source 202C lacks the second conductor 212 of the light source 202B. Instead, the heat sink 247 abuts the electrode 208 of the LED to serve as an electrical connection to this electrode and to also provide a conduction path which transports heat away from the light sources 202C.
The first conductor 211 can be installed with a wire bonding process similar to that introduced with reference to FIG. 12A. For example, FIG. 13C shows first, second and third bonds 221, 222 and 223 that can be successively installed to secure the first conductor respectively to one of the substrate legs 245, the upper electrode 207 and another of the substrate legs 245.
When the light wire 242 and heat sink 250 are assembled together, they are then received within the globe 260 and base 261 of the light bulb 240 of FIG. 13D. In this arrangement, the conductor 211 is electrically connected to one of the base 261 and the bulb terminal 262 (that is surrounded by the base) and the heat sink 250 is electrically connected to the other. A voltage across the base and terminal is communicated via the first conductor 211 and the heat sink 250 to energize the LED in each of the light sources 202C. In response, each of the LEDs radiates the light 226 shown in FIG. 13C. The lifetime of the LEDs is substantially enhanced because heat is rapidly carried away from them along the conduction path provided by the heat sink 250.
FIGS. 14A and 14B illustrate another light display structure in the form of a segmented display 270 which is formed with light wires 271 that each provides a plurality of light sources 202D. The display is formed with first conductors 211, a substrate 271, and a plurality of electrically conductive ground planes 272. The substrate defines a plurality of apertures 205 and each of a plurality of LEDs 206 is received within a respective one of the apertures.
Each of the ground planes 272 abuts the back of the substrate 271 and is in contact with lower electrodes of a respective set 273 of the LEDs 206. That is, the LEDs are grouped in sets 273 and each of the ground planes contacts lower electrodes of LEDs in its respective one of the sets. Each ground plane is associated with a respective one of switches 274 that can selectively couple that ground plane to a voltage potential (e.g., ground). Each light source 202D is similar to the light source 202C of FIG. 13C except that the substrate, 245 is replaced with the substrate 271 and the heat sink 250 is replaced by a ground plane 272.
In FIG. 14A, the first conductors 211 bear the designations of A through G. As shown, each of these conductors can be wire bonded to the substrate 271 and wire bonded to the upper electrode of a respective LED in each of the sets 273. In each set, the LEDs are arranged as segments of a number. The conductor labeled A is wire bonded to the upper LED 206 in each of the sets 273, the conductor labeled B is wire bonded to an upper left LED 207 in each of the sets 273 and so on for the rest of the conductors 211.
In a first operational phase of the segmented display 270, the switch 274 of one of the ground planes 272 is closed to couple that ground plane to a first voltage potential (e.g., ground). At this time, all of the other switches 274 are open. A second voltage potential is placed upon a first selected group of the conductors A-G to thereby energize a selected group of the LEDs 206 of the ground plane whose switch 274 is closed. LEDs in the other sets 273 will not be energized because their respective switches 274 are open. Accordingly, a selected number is displayed by the LEDs associated with the closed switch.
In a second operational phase of the segmented display 270, the switch 274 of a different one of the ground planes 272 is closed and the remainder of the other switches 274 are open. The second voltage potential is placed upon a second selected group of the conductors A-G. The second selected group of conductors is not necessarily the same as the first selected group. Accordingly, the selected number that is displayed by the LEDs associated with the closed switch is not necessarily the same as the earlier displayed number.
Additional operational phases are conducted for each of the remaining ground planes after which the entire process is rapidly repeated. Although each of these operational phases is quite brief (e.g., a fraction of a second), each displayed number will appear to be continuous because of the rapid repetition and the retinal retention of light in the human eye.
In another light display embodiment, the substrate 271 is formed of a flexible polymer and the ground planes 272 is formed of flexible and electrically conductive material to enhance flexibility of the segmented display 270. Such embodiments are useful in applications in which it is desired to conform the display to a curved surface.
FIG. 14B is a view along the plane 14B-14B of FIG. 14A. This sectional view shows one of the ground planes 272 abutting the back of the substrate 271 and one of the LEDs 206 within an aperture 205. In another light display embodiment, the surface 272S of the ground plane 272 is configured with a reflective surface that provides a high degree of reflection while maintaining electrical conductivity. The reflective surface may, for example, be realized with a color (e.g., white) and/or a finish (e.g., gloss finish) that enhances light reflection. This reflective ground plane enhances the intensity of the emitted light 226 of the LED 206.
In another light display embodiment, a reflective member 275 is inserted between the ground plane 272 and the LED 206 as indicated by insertion arrow 276. The reflective member is configured as described above in order to reflectively enhance the emitted light 226.
As further shown in FIG. 14B, each LED 206 may be covered with a light-enhancing member 279. In one embodiment, this light-enhancing member may be a substantially transparent material (e.g., epoxy) that has an index of refraction that enhances the emitted light 226. In another embodiment, the light-enhancing member may be a holographic member that alters and enhances the appearance of the emitted light 226. For example, the holographic member may any of various polymers whose surface has been configured to diffuse light in manners that achieve a holographic effect. In each of the sets 273 of LEDs, these holographic members may be oriented in different directions to obtain different holographic effects in the LEDs of that set.
FIG. 15A illustrates side and front views of another light display structure in the form of an array member 280 which is formed with first conductors 211, a substrate 282, a conductive block 283 and a plurality of insulated metallic pins 284. The block 283 contacts the lower surface of the substrate 282 and the lower electrode of each of LEDs 206 that are received in the apertures 205 of the substrate 282. The insulated pins 284 extend through the substrate and the block so that they are accessible at each side of the combined substrate and block.
Each first conductor 211 can be installed with a wire bonding process similar to that introduced with reference to FIG. 12A. For example, the first, second and third bonds of FIG. 12A can be used in a similar manner to successively secure a first conductor 211 to one of the pins 284, the upper surface of the substrate 282, and to the upper electrode of a corresponding one of the LEDS 206. Light sources 202E are thus formed which are each similar to the light source 202C of FIG. 13D except that the substrate 244 is replaced with the substrate 282 and the heat sink 250 is replaced by the conductive block 283.
In operation of the array member 280, a first potential is applied to the block 283 and a second potential is applied to a selected one of the pins 284. Accordingly, a selected one of the LEDs 206 is energized. In a display embodiment, each of the LEDs is associated with a phosphor film which causes its emitted light to have a selected color. For example, the LEDs in FIG. 15A are indicated with letters R, G and B indicating that they emit red, green and blue light when the second potential is applied to their respective ones of the pins 284. Because green light is generally not as intense as the other colors, two of the LEDs are structured to emit green light as they are simultaneously energized.
The structure of the array member 280 of FIG. 15A is particularly suited for use in a light display array 290 that is shown in FIG. 15B. The array is formed by arranging a plurality of the array members 280 in an array relationship which is indicated by broken lines 292. Although only one array member 280 is shown in FIG. 15B, each of the spaces defined by the broken lines 292 would be filled with a respective one of the array members.
Because of the structure shown in FIG. 15A, the array members 280 can be tightly arranged in FIG. 15B with their pins 284 each available at the rear of the array and they're LEDs forming a lighted array at the front of the array. Heat from the LEDs is quickly carried away by the conduction path formed by the blocks 283. Various light patterns can be displayed by placing potentials on selected ones of the pins 284. The blocks 283 may be formed from any material (e.g., a metal) that is electrically and thermally conductive.
Other embodiments of the array member 280 are formed by those which include a reflective back member 294 which is inserted (as exemplified by insertion arrow 295) between the block 283 and its LEDs 206 to thereby redirect any light that emits from the back sides of the LEDs. The reflection substantially enhances the light intensity visible to a viewer of the array member. Although shown having a size similar to that of the substrate 282, there may, for example, be smaller back films that are each inserted between the block 283 and a respective one of the LEDs.
Another array member embodiment includes an opaque overlay 296 which is positioned (as indicated by positioning arrow 297) over the substrate 282. The overlay defines apertures similar to the apertures 205 of the substrate 282 and these apertures are positioned to each pass light emitted from respective one of the LEDs 206. Various overlay embodiments may be formed with masking processes (e.g., silk screening or the use of decals). The overlay 296 is configured to enhance the appearance of the array member.
Yet another array member embodiment includes epoxy coatings 298 (one is indicated by a broken-line ellipse) that are positioned over each LED 206. Each coating may include light dispersing particles formed of reflective material (e.g., titanium oxide and silver) so that it disperses the light emitted from its respective LED. This embodiment particularly enhances the appearance of the array member.
In still another array member embodiment, the broken-line ellipse 298 represents a holographic lens which is positioned proximate to the LEDs 206 to further enhance the appearance of the array member 280.
It is noted that various structures have been described above in FIGS. 12A-15B to enhance emitted light of LEDs. These include substantially transparent material (e.g., epoxy) configured with a selected index of refraction, substantially transparent material configured with light dispersing particles formed of reflective material (e.g., titanium oxide and silver), phosphor films which cause the emitted light to have a selected color, and holographic members whose surface has been configured to diffuse light in manners that achieve holographic effects. These light-enhancing structures may be used in conjunction with (e.g., disposed proximate to) any of the light display embodiments described above.
Light display embodiments of the invention are particularly suited for combination with articles of merchandise (i.e., goods which may be offered for sale) to form commodities (i.e., economic goods, articles of commerce) such as the lighted commodity embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 16-21. In general, the light display structures shown in these lighted commodity embodiments may be formed with light display structure embodiments exemplified by those illustrated in FIGS. 1-15A. Although the lighted commodities are shown in the form of exemplary objects (e.g., a Christmas tree), they may generally be arranged in any desired graphic or textual form.
FIG. 16, for example, shows a lighted commodity embodiment 300 that is particularly suited for forming lighted signs. It includes a panel 302 and light display structures 303 and 304 carried on the panel. The display structures are formed with first and second conductors (22 and 24 in FIG. 1A), spacers (26 in FIG. 1A) and light-emitting elements (22 in FIG. 1A). For simplicity of illustration, the first and second conductors of the display structure 303 are shown as a single line, the spacers are not explicitly shown and the light-emitting elements are indicated as dots with light rays radiating therefrom. The display structure 304 is only indicated by broken lines to indicate that it is not currently selected. In an important feature of the invention, the display structures are nearly invisible when not illuminated.
In an exemplary form, the display structure 303 is shaped to spell the word “open” and the display structure 304 is shaped to spell the word “closed”. The letters of these words are preferably formed by a single display structure but, for clarity of illustration, the conductors between letters are not shown. In an exemplary use of the commodity 300, a power source (e.g., a battery or a permanent power source) would be switched to illuminate, at different times, a selected one of the display structures 303 and 304 to indicate the present status of something associated with the sign (e.g., a business).
The panel 304 is preferably formed from any of a variety of translucent plastics (e.g., acrylic) which will receive and spread a portion of the light emitted by the display structures 303 and 304 to thereby present a pleasing effect to the lighted sign. To further enhance the lighted sign, the commodity 300 may include a reflecting sheet 306 (e.g., a white sheet of paper, plastic or other thin material) positioned on one side of the panel 300 to thereby spread and redirect emitted light back through the panel.
FIG. 17 is a view along the plane 17-17 in FIG. 16 which shows another commodity embodiment in which an edge of the panel 302 is shaped to define a channel 307 which receives another display structure 308. The channel 307 and display structure 308 may run along a portion of or all of the perimeter of the panel 302. The channel can be shaped in forms (e.g., a parabola) that facilitate passage of emitted light through the panel 302 to thereby further enhance the appearance of the lighted sign. In addition, a reflective sheet 309 (similar to the reflective sheet 306) may be positioned to cover the groove and further redirect light through the panel. Although the reflective sheets 306 and 309 are slightly spaced from the panel 302 in FIGS. 16 and 17 to better delineate them, they would generally abut the panel.
Another lighted commodity embodiment is shown with front, side and back views of the lighted sign 310 of FIG. 18. This sign includes a panel 311 and a message 312 that is carried on either the front side 314 of the panel or on the back side 315. Similar to the panel 304 of FIG. 16, the panel 311 may be formed from any of a variety of translucent plastics (e.g., acrylic) which will receive and spread a portion of the light emitted by a light display structure 316 which is preferably carried on the back side 315.
Although the message 312 is indicated by an exemplary text “message”, it may be in the form of any message structure such as text, graphics or combinations of text and graphics. Although the message is shown on the front side 314, it may be carried on the back side 315 in other embodiments.
The light from the light display structure 316 is spread throughout the panel 311 and enhances the appearance of the message 312. Accordingly, this light display structure is arranged in a form (e.g., the serpentine form of FIG. 18) that effectively illuminates the panel 311. A diffusing sheet 318 may be inserted between the panel 311 and the display structure 316 to diffuse the structure's light and further enhance the appearance of the lighted commodity 310.
Another lighted commodity embodiment 320 is shown in FIG. 19 to be a shoe 322 and a light display structure that is carried on the shoe. For example, the shoe includes a tongue 323 and a light display structure 324 that is carried on the tongue. For another example, the shoe has a body 325 and a light display structure 326 that is carried on the body. It is noted that the laces of the shoe 322 are schematically shown over the tongue and on the body.
The tongue 323 and its associated display structure 324 may be removably coupled to the body 325 with first and second fasteners 321 (e.g., engagable snaps) to facilitate its replacement with another tongue that carries a different display structure. The fasteners may also be part of first and second electrical paths associated with a battery 328 that powers the display structure 324. A switch 329 (e.g., a pressure-activated switch) may be inserted between the battery and the display structure to provide a means of activating (i.e., energizing) the display (e.g., by interrupting at least one of the electrical paths).
In FIG. 19, another light display structure 330 is carried on a removable body portion 332. In particular, the example arrow 334 is associated with a portion of the boundary between the body 325 and the body portion 332 and indicates that this portion can be removably coupled to the body with a fastener in the form of a zipper 334. This fastener facilitates the replacement of this body portion with another body portion that carries a different display structure.
FIG. 20 illustrates another lighted commodity embodiment 340 which is formed with a clothing item 342 (in particular, a T shirt) and a light display structure 344 that is carried on the clothing item.
Another lighted commodity embodiment 350 is shown in FIG. 21 to be formed with a container 342 (in particular, a bottle) and a light display structure 344 that is carried on the container.
As disclosed above, various light display structure embodiments include conductors having path segments formed with wire bonding processes. It is to be understood that, in other embodiments of these light display structures, some or all conductor path segments may be formed with wire bonding processes and some or all conductor path segments may be formed with printed circuit processes. An exemplary example was disclosed in which those path segments of the first conductor 211 of FIGS. 12A and 12B between the bonds 221 and 223 are formed with wire bonding processes and the other path segments of the first conductor are formed with printed circuit processes.
Although not explicitly shown in all of the lighted commodity embodiments of FIGS. 16-21, their light display structures may be activated with a battery (e.g., the battery 328 of FIG. 19) and this activation may be accomplished with a switch (e.g., the switch 329 of FIG. 19). Alternatively, they may be activated with other power sources (e.g., permanent power sources) that are spaced away from the lighted commodity embodiments.
The embodiments of the invention described herein are exemplary and numerous modifications, variations and rearrangements can be readily envisioned to achieve substantially equivalent results, all of which are intended to be embraced within the spirit and scope of the appended claims