US 20070161421 A1
A method and apparatus is disclosed for the customization of electronic equipment of which portable audio players, portable disc players, portable digital games and laptop computers are representative. The electronic equipment may be fitted with a substantially transparent faceplate that may cover removable inserts. These inserts may be customizable to provide unique decorative appearances to the electronic equipment upon which they may be fitted. Decorative designs may either be preprinted on the inserts or a user may produce a customized design.
1. a method comprising:
providing a user with a sheet precut to a shape suitable for use as the insert for a faceplate of an electronic device;
providing software to enable the user to select one of a plurality of designs to print on said sheet; and
providing software to enable the user to print the selected design on the sheet to make an insert for a faceplate for an electronic device.
2. The method of
3. The method of
4. The method of
This application is a continuation of U.S. Patent Application Ser. No. 10/044,613, filed Jan. 11, 2002.
This invention relates to the field of portable electronic.
Today electronic devices are ubiquitous. Cell phones, portable disc players and the like can be seen daily in most public places such as on the beach and in shopping malls. Many families own multiple portable devices and not infrequently have a number of the same make and model units. For example, the husband and wife may each have the same cell phone model. The children may each have similar looking portable disc players.
In addition, many of the devices look similar even if they are from different manufactures. For example, many of the portable disc players are manufactured from dark colored plastic and are generally square shaped. Many portable phones have a similar shape. This similarity of devices can and often does lead to confusion. The husband will take the wrong phone or the children will argue over who owns a particular disc player. There is therefore a need to be able to distinguish one device from another similar device.
There is also a need to distinguish a particular portable device for promotional or other purposes. For example, cellular service providers may desire to put their logos on the phones they provide to customers. A museum may wish to uniquely identify the tape players they rent to patrons.
Therefore a need exists for a way to change the look of electronic equipment to aid in identifying a particular unit from other similar units and to allow a user to give their unit a unique look.
The cell phone 101 may be constructed such that the replaceable insert 301 may be sandwiched between the base section 201 and the inside of the faceplate 401. As the faceplate 401 is substantially transparent, any ornamental design on the replaceable insert 301 may be viewable through the faceplate 401. The replaceable insert 301 may be constructed of any material that is advantageous for the printing technology used to print an ornamental design thereon.
For example, in some embodiments, a paper material may be used if an ink-jet or photocopy process is utilized to print a design on the insert 301. The paper may be fed into a printer or copier as a normal sheet of paper would. After the image has been transferred to the insert 301, the insert 301 may be formed to the size required and placed between the faceplate 401 and the base section 201. To assist in the printing process, the insert may be integrated into a full sheet of 8.5″ by 11″ paper with punch out tabs to assist in separating the insert 301 from the remainder of the paper.
Many of the well known graphics programs which run on home or office computers may be used to design and print a desired image on the insert 301. Alternatively, specialized programs may be designed and made available to those wishing to make custom inserts. The printing may be conveniently performed by using a home or office printer that utilizes an ink-jet, laser or other technology.
For mass produced designs, in addition to paper based materials, Mylar or other materials may be utilized to fabricate the insert should a printing technology such as silk screening or other large scale printing processes be utilized.
Another embodiment of the invention is illustrated in
A “digital audio player” as used herein is an electronic device in which audio is stored digitally in non-volatile memory and converted to an analog signal for playback. Examples of non-volatile memory are solid state memory or digital audio tape.
In one embodiment of the present invention illustrated in
The insert 601 may be manufactured of any convenient material but may be advantageously manufactured of a material such as paper which may retain an image when printed on by an ink jet, laser or other printer, or copied onto by a photocopier or other image transfer device. In this way, an image on the insert 601 may be visible to a user through the viewing section 507.
In some embodiments, insert 601 may be provided by the manufacturer of the digital audio player 501 with an image already printed on it or the user may be provided with blank inserts. The user may use a graphics software program to create a fanciful design, which may then be printed or copied onto a blank insert. To replace the insert 601, the faceplate 503 may be removed from the base 505 and a new insert substituted for the old insert 601. The faceplate 503 may then be affixed again to the base 505. In this manner a user may customize the appearance of the digital audio player 501 and change that appearance at any time.
A replaceable insert 1201 (
As in the other embodiments, the replaceable insert 1201 may be sandwiched between the base section 1101 and the inside of the faceplate 1301. As the faceplate may be generally transparent, any ornamental design such as 1203 on the replaceable insert 1201 may be visible through the faceplate 1301. By changing the replaceable insert 1201 with another insert having a different ornamental design, the appearance of the laptop computer 1001 may be customized.
As best illustrated in
In some embodiments, the digital game 1401 may be designed such that the replaceable insert 1601 may be sandwiched between the base section 1501 and the inside of the faceplate 1701. The faceplate 1701 may be designed to be affixed to the base section 1501. In this manner, the ornamental design 1601 on the replaceable insert 1601 may be visible through the faceplate 1701. As with the prior described embodiments, by changing the replaceable insert 1601, the appearance of the digital game 1401 may be customized.
In all of the above described embodiments, the faceplate and ornamental insert combination cover a substantial portion of a surface of an electronic device to provide the electronic device with a unique appearance that may be easily changed. By changing the ornamental insert, a large number of unique appearances may be achieved.
While the present invention has been described with respect to a limited number of embodiments, those skilled in the art will appreciate numerous modifications and variations therefrom. It is intended that the appended claims cover all such modifications and variations as fall within the true spirit and scope of this present invention.