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Publication numberUS20070196158 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/609,670
Publication dateAug 23, 2007
Filing dateDec 12, 2006
Priority dateDec 12, 2005
Also published asWO2007070480A2, WO2007070480A3
Publication number11609670, 609670, US 2007/0196158 A1, US 2007/196158 A1, US 20070196158 A1, US 20070196158A1, US 2007196158 A1, US 2007196158A1, US-A1-20070196158, US-A1-2007196158, US2007/0196158A1, US2007/196158A1, US20070196158 A1, US20070196158A1, US2007196158 A1, US2007196158A1
InventorsColin Roche, Robert Ronsse
Original AssigneePacific Writing Instruments, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Ergonomic device
US 20070196158 A1
Abstract
An ergonomic instrument is comprised of an elongated body with a writing tip or tool at the lower end, and an upper end for supporting the base of the index finger. Arcuate arms extending up from the upper end of the body are arranged for being positioned on the sides of the index finger. A concave front groove is arranged along the front side of the body for cradling the tip of the index finger. Concave side grooves are arranged along the sides of the body for cradling the tips of the thumb and middle finger. Forwardly protruding ears are arranged between the front and respective sides for being pinched between the index finger and the thumb, and between the index finger and the middle finger.
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Claims(17)
1. An ergonomic instrument, comprising: an elongated body adapted for being held in a human hand, wherein said elongated body includes a longitudinal axis, a forward portion facing away from the hand, a rear portion facing the hand, top and bottom surfaces, the top surface adapted for supporting a base of an index finger, said body having pair of arms extending up from said rear portion of said body, and being positioned on opposite sides of the index finger, wherein a tip on the forward portion of the body has at least one of a marker tip, a collet for holding a tool, and a pencil lead feed.
2. The ergonomic instrument of claim 1, wherein said body is about as long as said index finger, so that a fingertip of said index finger is supported adjacent to and proximate said tip, on said top surface of said body.
3. The ergonomic instrument of claim 1, wherein said arms are symmetric and curved, such that they emanate from the body in approximately antiparallel directions, and terminate in parallel directions.
4. The ergonomic instrument of claim 1, wherein said tip comprises a porous marker.
5. The ergonomic instrument of claim 1, wherein said tip comprises a collet for holding a tool.
6. The ergonomic instrument of claim 1, wherein said tip comprises an aperture adapted to feed and retain a series of ferrules.
7. The ergonomic instrument of claim 6, wherein each ferrule comprises a presharpened pencil lead.
9. The ergonomic instrument of claim 1, wherein said tip comprises arms a collet for holding a tool, said collet having a screw-type locking mechanism.
10. The ergonomic instrument of claim 1, wherein said tip comprises arms a collet for holding a tool, said collet having a nut-type locking mechanism.
11. The ergonomic instrument of claim 1, wherein said tip comprises arms a collet for holding a tool, said collet comprising a quick-release mechanism.
12. The ergonomic instrument according to claim 1, wherein said tip comprises an element for placing a marking, and at least one arm comprises an element for erasing a marking placed by said tip.
13. The ergonomic instrument according to claim 1, wherein said tip comprises a pencil lead, and at least one arm comprises a replaceable eraser disposed at a distal portion thereof.
14. The ergonomic instrument according to claim 1, wherein said tip comprises a porous marker, further comprising a retainer for retaining a cap over said porous marker.
15. The ergonomic instrument according to claim 14, further comprising a second retainer for retaining said cap in a position different than over said porous marker.
16. The ergonomic instrument according to claim 1, wherein said tip comprises a collet for holding a sheet instrument, further comprising a sheet instrument having a knife edge held in said collet.
17. The ergonomic instrument according to claim 1, wherein said tip comprises a collet for holding a sheet instrument, further comprising a kit comprising a plurality of instruments, each having a knife edge, adapted to be held in said collet.
18. The ergonomic instrument according to claim 1, wherein at least one arm terminates in a nub, further comprising a rubber eraser having an indentation, said nub being adapted to engage said indentation to retain said eraser in position.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a non-provisional of, and claims benefit of priority from, U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/749,524, filed Dec. 12, 2005, expressly incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to ergonomic grips for hand-held instruments.

2. Prior Art

U.S. Pat. No. 6,637,962, expressly incorporated herein by reference, discloses an ergonomic pen having a wishbone-shaped body.

Conventional straight writing instruments such as ink pens, ball point pens, and pencils have straight and narrow cylindrical bodies. The lower portion of a typical writing instrument is arranged to be held between the tips of the thumb, index finger, and middle finger. The upper portion of the pen is arranged to rest between the bases of the thumb and index finger. The narrow round bodies of conventional writing instruments require a relatively firm grip to prevent them from slipping, and to push the pen onto the writing surface. Therefore, they are uncomfortable to use for long periods.

Many other alternative writing instruments that attempt to provide a better grip are known among the prior art. U.S. Pat. No. 336,540 to Wyttenbach and U.S. Pat. No. 340,382 to Smith each disclose a pen with a short tip and a pair of bifurcated arms extending from the tip. The arms rest on opposite sides of the index finger. The tip is round and suffers the same gripping problems as a conventional pen. U.S. Pat. No. 4,127,338 to Laybourne discloses a fingertip pen with a ring at an upper end for being positioned forward of the middle joint of the index finger. A curved depression on a top side is arranged for supporting the tip of the index finger. However, the tip is round and suffers the same gripping problems as a conventional pen.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,391,010 to Gorbunov discloses a pen with a ring arranged for being positioned around the base of the index finger. It includes a depression at the tip for supporting the tip of the index finger, but the depression is curved about an axis which is transverse to the axis of the pen. The index finger can thus slip sideways in the depression. The sides of the pen are cylindrical, and suffers the same gripping problems as a conventional pen. U.S. Pat. No. 5,885,018 to Sato discloses a pen with a round shaft attached on the lower surface of a curved plate. A partial ring is formed at the top end of the plate for gripping the finger forward of the middle joint. The shaft is about the diameter of an ink tube inside a conventional ballpoint pen. The plate is much wider than the shaft, which is so narrow that it cannot be gripped securely. The fingers can only grip the top and bottom surfaces of the thin plate.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,161,974 to Nakagawa discloses a pen with a ring. The axis of the ring is transverse to the axis of the pen for passing the index finger, which is held in a fully curled position. Only the thumb and the index finger are available for gripping the tip of the pen. Further, the tip is cylindrical, and suffers the same gripping problems as a conventional pen. U.S. Pat. No. Des. 246,904 to MacIntosh discloses a fingertip pen with a cylindrical tip, a concave upper body, and a ring attached to the upper body. The tip is round and suffers the same gripping problems as a conventional pen.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The objects of the present invention are to provide an ergonomic handle for a variety of hand-held devices, including a pencil, a highlighter, and a cutting tool. The design provides the advantages of requiring less gripping force to hold for improved comfort; securely cradles the tips of the thumb and fingers for preventing slipping; and can be pressed onto the writing surface by the base of the index finger.

The present ergonomic handle is comprised of an elongated body with a writing point at the lower end, and an upper end for supporting the base of the index finger. Arcuate arms extending up from the upper end of the body are arranged for being positioned on the sides of the index finger. A concave front groove with an arcuate cross section is arranged along the front side of the body, and curved about an axis parallel to the axis of the body for cradling the tip of the index finger and preventing it from slipping sideways. The upper end of the front groove is flared into the upper end of the body for cradling the lower side of the base of the index finger. The lower end of the front groove is rounded for preventing the index finger from slipping downward. Concave side grooves with arcuate cross sections are arranged along the sides of the body, and curved about axes parallel to the axis of the body for cradling the tips of the thumb and middle finger to prevent them from slipping forward. The body has a generally trapezoidal cross section wherein the front is wider than the rear, and the sides taper toward the rear. Forwardly protruding ears are arranged between the front and sides for being pinched between the index finger and the thumb, and between the index finger and the middle finger.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a writing instrument.

FIG. 2 is a front view thereof.

FIG. 3 is a left side view thereof.

FIG. 4 is a lower end view thereof.

FIG. 5 is a front perspective view thereof in use.

FIG. 6 is a front view thereof in use.

FIG. 7 is a lower end perspective view thereof in use.

FIG. 8 is a rear perspective view thereof when a cap is retracted.

FIG. 9 is a rear perspective view thereof when the cap is extended.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the invention with a cap detached.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the invention with a cap attached.

FIGS. 12A-G show various views of a sequential feed pencil embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 13-15 show various views of a tool holder according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A writing instrument also described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,637,962, expressly incorporated herein by reference, is shown in a front perspective view in FIG. 1, a front view in FIG. 2, a side view in FIG. 3, and a lower end view in FIG. 4. It may be an ink pen, a ball point pen, a felt tip pen, a pencil, a stylus, a digital pen, or any other tool for writing. It is comprised of an elongated body 10 with a writing point 11 projecting from the lower end, and an upper end for supporting the base of the index finger. Body 10 is preferably about as long as the index finger so that its upper end is positioned for supporting the base of the index finger.

A pair of arms 12 and 13 extending up from the upper end of body 10 are arranged for being positioned on either side of the index finger. The upper ends of arms 12 and 13 are disconnected from each other for allowing the index finger to easily move in between them. Arms 12 and 13 are generally coplanar with body 10. Arms 12 and 13 are preferably arcuate arms that are curved about respective axes perpendicular to the axis of body 10.

A concave front groove 14 with an arcuate cross section is arranged along the front side of body 10, and curved about an axis parallel to the axis of body 10 for cradling the tip of the index finger and preventing it from slipping sideways. The upper end of front groove 14 has a flared portion 15 into the upper end of the body 10 for supporting the lower side of the base of the index finger. The lower end of front groove 14 has a rounded portion 16 for preventing the tip of the index finger from slipping downward. Concave side grooves 17 and 18 with arcuate cross sections are arranged along the sides of body 10, and curved about respective axes parallel to the axis of body 10 for cradling the tips of the thumb and middle finger to prevent them from slipping forward toward the index finger.

As shown in FIG. 4, body 10 has a generally trapezoidal cross section wherein the front is wider than the rear, and the sides taper toward the rear. Outwardly protruding ears 19 and 20 are respectively arranged between concave front groove 14 and concave side groove 17, and between concave front groove 14 and concave side groove 18. Ears 19 and 20 are respectively arranged for being pinched between the index finger and the thumb, and between the index finger and the middle finger. A cap 21 is movably attached to the lower end of body 10 and connected to a cap control knob 22 on the rear of body 10. Alternately, the ink cartridge can extent and retract from the body 10.

The writing instrument is shown in use in FIGS. 5-7. The lower end of body 10 is gripped between the tips of the thumb, index finger, and middle finger. The base of the index finger is positioned between arms 12 and 13, and the lower side of the base of the index finger is supported on the upper end of body 10.

As shown in FIG. 7, the index finger is pressed against front groove 14, which prevents the index finger from slipping sideways. The thumb is pressed against left side groove 17, which prevents the thumb from slipping forwardly toward the index finger. The middle finger is pressed against right side groove 18, which prevents the middle finger from slipping forwardly toward the index finger. Left ear 19 is pinched between the thumb and the index finger, and right ear 20 is pinched between the middle finger and the index finger. The writing instrument is thus shaped for a better grip, so that it may be gripped with less force for improved comfort.

As shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, body 10 is sized to support the lower side of the base of the index finger with its upper end. Therefore, the weight of the hand is partially supported by body 10, and the writing tip is pressed by the weight of the hand onto the writing surface. The need for the fingertips to press the writing instrument onto the writing surface is greatly reduced, which further reduces the need for a firm grip and further improves comfort.

As shown in FIGS. 8-9, knob 22 is movable upward to retract cap 21 and expose writing point 11, and movable downward to extend cap 21 to cover writing point 11.

FIGS. 10 and 11 show a first embodiment according to the present invention, employing an ergonomic handle similar to that shown in FIGS. 1-9. In this case, instead of a pen, the working end of the instrument is a porous tip marker 105, such as a highlighter, permanent ink marker, water color marker, or the like. A removable cap 106 is provided which snaps over the tip of the marker 105. Alternately, the marker may be retractable, having an ink suitable for this application. The ink for the marker is contained within the body 10 of the handle, for example using the entire space within the body as a reservoir, or a central portion only. The reservoir is typically filled with a fibrous material or sponge to keep the ink from frothing and to damp waves. Likewise, the material may act as a wick, or a separate wick may be provided. The cap 106 has a rim 102 which snaps over the edge 101 of the body 10. The cap 106 has a cylindrical bore 104 in which the ferrule 103 from which the marker tip 105 extends.

Other types of liquids may also be dispensed in like manner, for example, eradicating fluid, fabric bleach, makeup, glue or other adhesive, lubricant, etc.

See, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,659,672, 6,179,501, 6,004,057; 5,203,638; 5,174,814, 5,888,007, 6,075,070, 6,004,058, 5,964,931, 5,915,872, 5,261,755, 5,123,766, 5,056,949, 4,923,317, 4,917,521, 6,866,436, 6,946,023, expressly incorporated herein by reference.

Another embodiment of the invention provides a tape or film transfer dispenser, for example, highlighter tape (e.g., a transparent tinted film transfer), eradicating tape (e.g., an opaque film transfer), or message applicator (e.g., a transfer film with graphic or text, such as “sign here”). See, U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,461,068, 6,112,796, 5,820,728, 5,792,263, 5,714,035, 5,310,437, 5,393,368, 5,702,482, 5,076,883 and 4,913,946, expressly incorporated herein by reference. The transfer blade is preferably angled such that the edge is about 20-60 degrees inclined to the major axis of the handle, permitting an ergonomic holding angle. Likewise, the blade is preferably transparent, to facilitate viewing of the point of contact. In this embodiment, the film spool is preferably located proximal to the junction of the “Y” of the handle, and thus the design is “bulbous” in this section. The spool section preferably is distant from the tip, to permit comfortable holding.

FIGS. 12A-G show a second embodiment of the invention, which provides a sequential feed pencil. See, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,966,478, 5,292,202, 6,161,976, 3,790,291, 3,898,009 expressly incorporated by reference.

As shown in FIGS. 12A-G, the pencil includes a conduit 110 formed centrally within the body 10, having therein a set of stacked writing elements 112, each comprising a presharpened lead 114 surrounded by a ferrule 116, wherein the ferrules are stackable within the inner tube 114. The ferrule 116 is hollow in the rear, such that the lead 114 of a succeeding writing element 112 fits within the ferrule 116 of the preceding writing element 112. The ferrule 116 is friction fed into the conduit 110, such that pressure on the first lead 114′ does not cause the ferrule 116′ of the first writing element 112′ to recede into the conduit 110. In order to replace an exhausted or broken lead 114′, the first writing element 112′ is extracted from the tip, and pushed into the back of the conduit 110, forcing the next writing element 112 in line to advance to the first position.

The rear tips 118, 119 on the arms of the body 10 are each preferably formed of an eraser material, and are retained by a nub 120 which fits into a hollow space in the rear tip 118 or 119.

FIGS. 13-15 show a third embodiment of the invention, which provides an ergonomic handle cutting tool. See, U.S. Pat. No. 4,071,952 (Meshulam, et al.), U.S. Pat. No. 6,328,494 (Moxon), and U.S. Pat. No. 2,619,724, expressly incorporated by reference. A knife shown in FIG. 13, consists of an ergonomically adapted handle, as described in FIGS. 1-9, which may be solid plastic or metal (e.g., aluminum) 10 having a blade receiving end with a diameter of about five-sixteenths inch. A blade 120 is detachably secured to one end of the handle by a chuck comprising a blade holder 122, in which the blade 120 is locked by a collar 124. An insert 126 is molded into the barrel of the body 10, which holds the blade holder 122 within the barrel of the body 10.

The blade 120 is, for example, an X-Acto® Hobby No. 11 Knife blade, although the blade itself is replaceable and does not limit the invention. A kit of blades may be provided with the handle.

A variety of tool attachment means 12 can be employed, to accommodate a wide variety of tools for use with the custom-fitted tool holder 8. Such tool attachment means for small hand tools are well known in the art, e.g. the X-Acto® series of holders or handles for various hobby knives and the like. Exemplary tool attachment means are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,867,912 (blade mounting swivel head), U.S. Pat. No. 5,405,206 (replaceable highlighter mount), U.S. Pat. No. 5,868,509 (frictional sleeves and the like), U.S. Pat. No. 5,791,705 (grooves and elastic bands; recess with frictional fit; and threaded couplings), and U.S. Pat. No. 4,906,109 (frictional sockets, horizontal or vertical). All these patents are incorporated herein by reference. A quick-release (e.g., quarter turn locking) collet may also be provided.

A variety of suitable small hand tools can also be used in the tool holders described above. The ergonomic body is designed to improve the user's fine motor control, so as to permit more precise work on small scale projects and/or to improve the performance of users who lack sufficient motor control to otherwise use such a tool. For example, the tool can be various sorts of knives, chisels and other cutting tools; surgical and dental instruments; scribes and other tools for scoring or cutting metal; styluses for marking upon the screens of computers and other electronic devices such as “personal digital assistants”; burnishing tools; brushes, airbrushes or other applicators for applying paints, stains, cosmetics or other marking materials; probes or electrodes for making electrical contact with electrical circuits or other apparatus; various marking media; and heated tools such as soldering irons, miniature torches or wood-burning tools.

Although the foregoing description is specific, it should not be considered as a limitation on the scope of the invention, but only as an example of the preferred embodiment. Many variations are possible within the teachings of the invention. Therefore, the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, not by the examples given.

Classifications
U.S. Classification401/7, 401/6
International ClassificationA46B5/02, A46B5/04
Cooperative ClassificationB43K24/04, B43K24/026, B43K27/04, B43K21/006, B43K29/02, B43K21/003, B43L19/0018, B43K23/008, B43K8/003, B43K23/004, B26B5/00, B43L19/0068, B43M11/06, B43K5/005, B43K7/005
European ClassificationB43K5/00G, B43K8/00G, B43K21/00G, B43K7/00G, B43K21/00B, B43L19/00H3, B43K23/004, B43K29/02, B43K24/04, B43K27/04, B43K24/02C, B43M11/06, B43L19/00B, B43K23/008, B26B5/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 5, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: PACIFIC WRITING INSTRUMENTS, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:ROCHE, COLIN, MR.;RONSSE, ROBERT, MR.;REEL/FRAME:018960/0518;SIGNING DATES FROM 20061211 TO 20061213