US 20070247832 A1
A fan with illuminated blades (9) for displaying pictoral elements (19) on exposed faces of the blades. The display is provided with in situ generated light in a display device (19) or from a back lighting arrangement. The fan with illuminated blades may be utilized to display static or animated messages.
1. A fan with an illuminated blade for displaying pictoral elements on an exposed face of the blade, said fan comprising:
a power drive;
at least one blade operably connected to the power drive and operable to be moved about a central axis by the power drive, said at least one blade having a front face;
an illumination apparatus having a light projecting display device carried by at least one blade and operable to provide an illuminated pictoral element on the front face of said at least one blade at a predetermined position of movement about the central axis, said pictoral element having a width transverse to the blade length at least about 25% of the width of the blade; and
a synchronizer apparatus operable to effect lighted display of the pictoral element at at least one predetermined angular position of the display device about the central axis.
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11. A fan with illuminated blades displaying pictoral elements on exposed faces of the blades, said fan comprising:
a power drive;
at least one blade operably connected to the power drive and operable to be revolved about a central axis by the power drive, said at least one blade having a front face;
a synchronizer apparatus operable to detect at least one position of the at least one fan blade during movement about the central axis and provide a signal indicative of the at least one position of the at least one blade;
an illumination apparatus having a display device carried by at least one blade and operable to provide an illuminated pictoral element with a resolution of at least 4 dpi on a front face of at least one said blade at a predetermined position of movement about the central axis, said illumination apparatus including a pictoral element signal generator operable to transmit a pictoral element signal to the display device.
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13. A method of displaying a pictoral element on a fan, the method comprising:
moving a fan blade about an axis or rotation said blade having a front face;
intermittently illuminating a light projecting display device comprising an X-Y array of lighted areas to display at least one pictoral element at a predetermined angular position of the blade; and
sequencing the intermittent illumination to display at least one graphic element at a desired time and location.
Associating signage, designs and/or other indicia with one or more fan blades associated with a typical ceiling fan can result in a great marketing tool for advertising a wide variety of different types of goods and services if such indicia can be easily viewed when the fan blades are in motion rotating about a central axis. Such a device may be found in U.S. Pat. No. 6,213,617. Prior to the just mentioned patent, such indicia was imprinted directly onto a plurality fan blades or onto fan blade covers associated with a particular ceiling fan but was not clearly visible when the fan blades were in motion due to the rotational speed of the ceiling fan. As disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,213,617, an advance in the art was provided by front illumination of the fan blades and message thereon freezing the motion of the blades through the use of strobe lighting or other suitable lighting timed to illuminate a fan blade at a particular rotational position. The fan blades could be appropriately illuminated at any given ceiling fan rotational speed. However, the apparatus of the mentioned patent utilized front lighting resulting in lighting the areas behind or above the fan and the message could not be changed on the blades while the fan was rotating. It would be desirable to provide an illuminated fan that could provide one or more messages or an animated message during the operation to enhance its appeal and marketing effectiveness.
Accordingly, the present invention is directed to overcoming one or more of the problems as set forth above.
The present invention involves the provision of a fan with blades for displaying an illuminated pictoral element on an exposed face of a fan blade with the light source being direct lighting and not reflected lighting from front mounted lights. At least one of the fan blades has a display device mounted thereon and operable to provide an illuminated pictoral element on a substantial portion of an exposed face of the blade at a predetermined position of movement about the axis of rotation of a fan blade system. The display devices project direct light in a direction away from the blade face and are lighted on their own or from a back lighting arrangement. A synchronizer may be provided to effect operation of a display device at one or more predetermined positions of the fan blade system during rotation of the fan blade system.
The pictoral elements include graphic elements such as artwork letters that may be back lit, generated by an array of light emitting diodes, lights, LCDs, DLPs, LCOS, D-ILA, RPTU, plasma screens or other illuminating display devices operable to direct light away from the fan blade face.
These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art after considering the detailed specification of the present invention in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
Like numbers throughout the various figures designate like or similar parts.
A fan, designated generally 1, is provided. The fan includes a power drive 3 to which is operably connected a fan blade system 5 comprising at least one fan blade 7 and as shown in a preferred embodiment, a plurality of blades. The drive 3 is operable to rotate the fan blade system 5 about a central axis 8 with the blades 7 moving generally in a plane. At least one of the blades 7 has an exposed face 9 viewable from the front side 10 of the fan blade system 5. In the illustrated structure, the front side 10 is generally downwardly facing when the fan 1 is a ceiling fan. It is to be understood that although a ceiling fan is described, any bladed apparatus, such as a table fan may be utilized and the front side 10 would be that portion which a person would normally see A synchronizer designated generally 12,
The fan 1 includes the power drive 3 that is suitably suspended from a ceiling or structure under a ceiling as is well known in the art. The power drive 3 includes an electric motor and has an output 33 either as a component of the motor or through a gear drive arrangement or the like providing the central axis of rotation 8 of the output 33. Preferably, a plurality of blades 7 are mounted to the output 33 whereby the fan blade system 5 rotates about the central axis 8 with the blades generally moving in a plane about the central axis. The blades 7 each have a generally downwardly facing exposed surface 9. Fans of the type as described above are well known in the art. Such fans typically include three to six blades 7. The fan blade system may rotate at a single fixed speed or can have a speed controller to change and regulate the speed of the fan, such that the fan may operate at any one of many preselected rotational speeds. Generally, the blades 7 are set at a pitch to effect air circulation with the pitch being on the order of about 5-20 degrees.
The fan 1 includes the synchronizer 12 operable to time (sequence) the intermittent illumination of the lighted display of the pictoral elements 21 to the rotational positions of the blades 7 to provide the illumination of a graphic element 47 and pictoral element 21 at the desired location (angular position) and time. Preferably the synchronizer 12 will determine the rotational speed of the fan blade system 5 and the angular position of the blades 7 during movement about the central axis 8. Any suitable synchronizer 12 can be provided. For example, a servo-controlled motor could be used to provide such information. Additionally, and as shown, the synchronizer 12 includes a sensor device 13 that includes an electric eye emitter 42 and an electric eye sensor 44 fixedly connected to support 40 as illustrated in
The illumination apparatus 17 includes at least one display device 19 mounted on at least one of the fan blades 7 and is carried thereby during its movement about the central axis 8. The display device 19 is operable to provide an illuminated pictoral element 21 on an exposed face or at an exposed face of the blade carrying the display device 19. The display device 19 is operable to be refreshed, e.g., turned off and on or changed, at predetermined positions of the blade 7/display device 19 as it moves about the central axis 8 to provide either a static message or an animated message in the pictoral element(s) 21. The message in this case can be print, written word, graphic design elements such as people, scenery, animals or a combination of graphic elements 47. Each pictoral element 21 may be comprised of more than one graphic element 47. The display device 19 is operable to provide its illumination outwardly directed either internally or from the back side and does not utilize or does not need to utilize front lighting to provide reflected light off of the display device 19 for viewing a pictoral element 21. The light source is carried by and moves with the display device 19 and respective blade 7. The display device 19 may be an array of LEDs (light emitting diodes), lights, LCD screen, plasma screen, DLP, LCOS, D-ILA, CRT, RPTU, and the like which can include any form of electrically generated light and will generate their own light for projection during operation and display light at discrete points (dots) 49. When LEDs are used, the array will be an X-Y matrix and may include a plurality of rows 52 extending across the width of the blade 7 and a plurality of columns 54 extending along the length of the column
In a preferred embodiment, each of the blades 7 will carry its own display device 19 particularly when complex pictoral elements 21 or animated composites made from a plurality of display devices 19 are to be displayed by the display devices. The use of the described display devices 19 which utilize outwardly directed light from its own internal light or back lighting prevents diffusion of front lighting to areas behind the fan.
The illumination apparatus 17 is illustrated schematically in
The signal generator 25 may also provide animated messages to be sent for display as pictoral elements with various graphic elements contained therein. For example, a short video clip may be provided to a memory 51 of the signal generator 25. The signal generator 25 may divide the video message into various components or data sets containing portions of the pictoral elements 21 and graphic elements 47 by a segmenter 53 and the segments are comprised of data sets for transmission to the display devices 19, for display of the segments at various angular positions of the blades 7 of the fan blade assembly 5. By doing so, the fan blade assembly 5 may function as a video screen. Such messages could be music videos, movies, or the like. Animated and static displays may be accomplished so long as the refresh rate of the display device is adequate to accept the segmented message from the signal generator. Thus, the illumination apparatus 17 can provide a simple message to a simple system or a complex message that may be changed without the necessity of changing some component carried by the fan blade.
It is contemplated and anticipated that various other arrangements and embodiment of the electric eye emitter 42 and sensor 44 are usable. For example, sensor 44 may be positioned on the fan 1 so as to be located behind the fan blades 7 in line with the beam of light emitted by emitter 42, and reflector 46 may be eliminated from the apparatus. In such an arrangement the cause of beam of light between emitter 42 and sensor 44 will be interrupted each time a fan blade 7 passes therebetween, each fan blade thereby triggering sensor 44 when the fan 1 is in operation. The rotational speed of the fan blade assembly 5 may then be determined by a controller 48 as similarly discussed above taking into account the total number of fan blades 7 associated with the fan 1. Additionally, the reflector 46 may be positioned on the fan 1 so as to be located behind fan blades 7 at an appropriate location and/or angular orientation, and the emitter 42 and sensor 44 may be positioned slightly offset from each other so as to produce two separate light beams, one beam being emitted from emitter 42 to reflector 46 and because of the angular orientation of reflector 46, a second beam extending from reflector 46 to sensor 44. As a result, the emitted light beam from emitter 42 is interrupted twice by each fan blade 7, and the distance and time interval between each pair of interruptions will yield the instantaneous angular or rotational speed of the fan blade assembly 5. Alternatively, other types of sensors may be utilized such as a magnetic sensor or a halifax emitter, which sensors can trigger an appropriate signal to controller 48 in response to the rotational speed of the fan blade system 5. Accordingly, numerous such implementations are possible.
The speed sensor may be eliminated. Regulation of the output of signal generator 25 through synchronizer 12, and adjusting its output visually until a correct picture or message delivery is accomplished may be done. In this case, the sensor would be the operator of the illumination apparatus 17.
As is evident from the foregoing description, certain aspects of the present invention are not limited to the particular details of the examples illustrated herein, and it is therefore contemplated that other modifications and applications will occur to those skilled in the art. It is accordingly intended that the claim shall cover all such modifications and applications that do not depart from the spirit and scope of the present invention.
Other aspects, objects and advantages of the present invention can be obtained from a study of the drawings, the disclosure and the appended claims.