US 20080301853 A1
A customizable elastic band includes a means for coupling at least one secondary component thereto, the secondary component adapted to individualize the elastic band. In one aspect of the present invention, the elastic band includes a recess adapted to receive and hold the secondary component. In a further aspect of the present invention, the secondary component includes a printed message, a design, or a combination thereof. In a still further aspect of the present invention, the secondary component includes electronic circuitry. In a still further aspect of the present invention, the system including the elastic band and the secondary component are adapted to interact with a point of sale system.
1. A wearable product, comprising:
an elastic band configured as a continuous loop having at least one recess formed therein, the elastic band having a first thickness in a portion outside an area in which the at least one recess is disposed, and having a second thickness, different from the first thickness, in a portion in the area in which the at least one recess is disposed;
wherein each recess is adapted to receive and hold at least one secondary component.
2. The wearable product of
3. The wearable product of
4. The wearable product of
5. The wearable product of
6. The wearable product of
7. The wearable product of
8. The wearable product of
9. The wearable product of
10. The wearable product of
11. The wearable product of
12. The wearable product of
13. The wearable product of
at least one attachment structure extending outwardly from the elastic band;
wherein the at least one attachment structure includes a flanged topside, and is adapted to engage with a secondary component having a recess therein.
14. A wearable product, comprising:
an elastic band configured as a continuous loop having at least one outwardly extending attachment structure formed thereon;
wherein each attachment structure is adapted to receive and hold at least one secondary component, the secondary component having a recess formed therein, the recess adapted to engage with at least one of the at least one attachment structures.
15. The wearable product of
This non-provisional application claims the benefit of provisional application No. 60/696,725, filed 5 Jul. 2005, and entitled “Voice Band” . . . . A Customizable Elastic Wristband, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference.
The present invention relates generally to customizable fashion accessories, and more particularly relates to elastic bands having one or more recesses into which a secondary component, operable to individualize the elastic band, may be inserted.
In modern times, many items are mass-produced in order to reduce the costs of individual items. Among these manufactured items are fashion accessories such as, for example, elastic wristbands. High-volume manufacturing allows these items be made at low cost and to be widely distributed. One of the common constraints on high-volume manufacturing operations is the minimization of differences between each item that is so manufactured. Generally, low-cost, high-volume manufacturing requires the items to be identical, and for many such applications this is perfectly acceptable. However, in some product areas it may be desirable to offer some degree of customization, or individualization. One such product area relates to the field of wearable items, or fashion accessories.
Unfortunately, conventional designs and high-volume manufacturing techniques do not lend themselves to the customization, or individualization, of wearable items, or fashion accessories.
What is needed are methods and apparatus for customizing, or individualizing, fashion accessories while preserving the benefits of high-volume manufacturing.
Briefly, a customizable elastic band includes a means for coupling at least one secondary component thereto, the secondary component adapted to individualize the elastic band.
In one aspect of the present invention, the elastic band includes a recess adapted to receive and hold the secondary component.
In a further aspect of the present invention, the secondary component includes a printed message, a design, or a combination thereof.
In a still further aspect of the present invention, the secondary component includes electronic circuitry.
In a still further aspect of the present invention, the system including the elastic band and the secondary component are adapted to interact with a point of sale system.
Various embodiments of the present invention provide an elastic band having at least one cavity formed therein, into which a secondary part may be placed, or inserted. The secondary parts may incorporate different messages, designs, or functionality, and are generally interchangeable such that a given elastic band in accordance with the present invention is customizable by selecting various secondary parts and combining with an elastic band in accordance with the present invention.
Reference herein to “one embodiment”, “an embodiment”, or similar formulations, means that a particular feature, structure, operation, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment, is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, the appearances of such phrases or formulations herein are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment. Furthermore, various particular features, structures, operations, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments.
Wristbands, or bracelets, are described below as illustrative embodiments of the present invention. It will be appreciated that the present invention is not limited to wristbands, and that the invention is applicable generally to elastic bands.
Currently, decorative and/or “cause” wristbands have their message either embossed or de-bossed into an elastic material. This is conventionally accomplished by a specific mold in order to get the desired message placed into or onto the band material.
As noted above, various embodiments of the present invention provide an elastic band having a cavity, or recess, formed therein, into which a secondary part, or component, may be inserted, applied, permanently or removably attached, or otherwise incorporated. Such an elastic band may be comprised of silicone, thermo-plastic rubber, thermo-plastic urethane, or similar pliable materials. The secondary component is sometimes referred to as a “jewel”, and typically contains a printed message or design. Since the secondary component may be selected from a plurality of such jewels, each with a different message or design, an elastic band in accordance with the present invention may be customized by inserting a particular one of the plurality of different secondary components into the cavity.
The secondary component may be comprised of the same material as the elastic band, and it may be of the same or a different color than the elastic band. In such embodiments of the present invention, the secondary components are generally ornamental in nature, although the secondary components may include messages or designs that serve purposes such as, but not limited to, identification and expression of ideas. Alternatively, the secondary components may be, or may contain, active devices such as, but not limited to, electronic circuits.
In alternative embodiments of the present invention, the thickness of wristband 102 may be greater in the region in which recess 106 is formed.
The secondary parts, or jewels, may have a name or slogan printed thereon, or otherwise incorporated therein. Similarly, designs or logos may be present on, or in, these jewels. The writings, designs, or combination of writings and designs may form inspirational messages. Similarly, the writings, designs, or combination of writings and designs may form “fortunes” such as those found in fortune cookies, and may be used in a similar manner. In other words, a plurality of jewels with different messages (i.e., fortunes) may be distributed as part of a game, or as part of commercial transaction. In various commercial transactions the jewels may be redeemed for value, including monetary and/or other consideration.
As indicated above, the secondary parts, or jewels, in addition to serving a decorative or message purpose, may also be constructed so as to provide various functionalities.
In one example, the jewel may act as an optical magnifier, thereby allowing a user to remove the jewel from the wristband, use it to magnify an image, and then re-store the jewel to the wristband.
In an alternative arrangement, the secondary component, or jewel, may be a relatively small power cell, battery, or similar device that can be used to supply electric power an electronic circuit or device. In this way a spare power cell, or battery may be carried. Alternatively, in an elastic band with a plurality of recesses, the power cell may be installed in a first recesses, and used to provide electrical power to a jewel incorporating electronic functionality, and which is installed in a second recess of the elastic band. In such embodiments, a conductive pathway is provided between the power source and the device to be powered. It will be appreciated that a single power cell may be used to power two or more electronic circuits disposed in a corresponding two or more recesses of the elastic band. In a variation of the foregoing, multiple power cells may be coupled in series in order to provide a higher voltage to one or more jewels containing electronic circuits.
In another alternative arrangement, the secondary component, or jewel, may be an electronic memory module. In such an arrangement a memory circuit may be embedded within the jewel body along with electrical contact points that extend from the memory circuit to the outer surface of the jewel body so that electrical connection may be made between the memory circuit and other electrical components. The memory circuit is typically a non-volatile type of memory such as flash.
In view of the advances in miniaturization due to improvements in semiconductor manufacturing processes, other alternative arrangements provide secondary components, or jewels, that may each include an electronic module of arbitrary functionality. For example, wireless communication circuits may be embedded within the body of the secondary component. Some exemplary wireless communication circuits include Bluetooth, 802.11, and cellular communications circuits. It is noted that the present invention is not limited to any particular wireless architecture or design. While these circuits generally require a power supply (e.g., a battery), other wireless communication circuits, which do not require a battery, such as passive RFID devices may also be incorporated into the secondary components.
It is known that passive RFID devices include energy harvesting circuitry which is energized by an external RF field, and once energized provides power to the circuitry of the RFID device coupled thereto. Simple RFID devices provide some identification information in response to being energized. More complex RFID devices may include computational circuitry and/or memory such that they may act in a more sophisticated manner. Such sophisticated RFID devices, when incorporated into the secondary component, or jewels, of the present invention, provide the ability to interact with, for example, point-of-sale devices. In such circumstances, a corporate sponsor may provide such secondary components in place of conventional gift cards (i.e., the credit card like plastic form factor with magnetic stripe). In this way, a consumer may simply pass a wristband through a point-of-sale RFID reader to engage in a commercial transaction in which a payment is made and/or some other record-keeping transaction occurs.
In addition to the wireless circuits mentioned above, it is noted that secondary components in accordance with the present invention may also be implemented with an embedded GPS receiver and associated circuitry for providing a user with the time and location information acquired from the processing signals from the GPS satellites. This information may be provided to the user either through a display device incorporated in the elastic band which includes the GPS receiver secondary component, or through a display that may be wirelessly coupled to the GPS receiver secondary component.
Various embodiments of the present invention include apparatus and methods for customizing, or individualizing, mass-produced elastic bands.
Embodiments of the present invention may find application in the fields of wearable items, fashion accessories, commercial transactions, and consumer electronics.
It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the subjoined Claims and their equivalents.