US 20100313334 A1
Embodiments of the invention generally provide a wearable hat to which is attached a video display 14. A central processing unit 16 within the device controls the images which are visible on display 14. The user may select digital representations of images, drawings, motion pictures or text and place these digital representations into digital data storage media accessible to central processing unit 16. The user may select the order and duration of the images to be shown on display 14, and the image display sequence is executed by 16 during the operation of the invention. Electrical energy is supplied by electrical power source 18. While the device is in operation, the user may wear this device on top of their scalp in a manner customary for the wearing of hats.
1. A headwear capable of displaying electronically generated images comprising: a hat body, an electronic screen display upon which representations of digital images may be visible, an electronic central processing unit which dictates the images visible on said electronic screen, and an electrical power source which provides electrical energy to said electronic central processing unit.
2. The headwear of
3. The headwear of
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5. The headwear of
6. The headwear of
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8. A headwear capable of displaying electronically generated images comprising: a hat body, multiple instances of electronic screen displays upon which representations of digital images may be visible, an electronic central processing unit which dictates the images visible on said electronic screens, and an electrical power source which provides electrical energy to said electronic central processing unit.
9. The headwear of
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This application claims the benefit of provisional patent application Ser. No. 61,186,370, filed 2009 Jun. 11 by the present inventor.
1. Field of Invention
This invention relates generally to a hat that is combined with an electronic visual display such that the user may convey images, messages or motion pictures to those in the proximity.
2. Prior Art
Attire worn on the head, hats in particular, are utilized by users for both physical comfort, such as providing warmth or shade, as well as a means of personal self expression. Of particular note are hats that are often decorated with static text or graphic items, such as sports team logos. Previous inventions have attempted to make hats more noticeable, distinct or customizable. In U.S. Pat. No. 7,243,377, Ashy describes an invention where the prominent graphic attached to a hat may be interchanged readily through the employment of temporary fasteners such as magnets or tape. Similarly in U.S. Pat. No. 5,359,734, Rathburn discussed an invention to exchange logos on headgear. Ferguson contemplated the idea of affixing photographs to clothing in U.S. Pat. No. 6,729,058. In both these cases, hats could be personalized by the user, but the images displayed on the hat are passive and unassuming, and changes to the images require manual interaction with the user that last many seconds.
Other inventors have attempted to add glamour to headwear through the use of electronic accoutrements. Thornock (in U.S. Pat. No. 5,088,127) and Power-fardy (in U.S. Pat. No. 5,462,471) each attached electrically powered motors to hats to attract attention by waving or rotating objects. In U.S. Pat. No. 6,168,286, Duffy describes attaching a light to the bill of a hat to illuminate from the front a logo affixed to the hat crown. The invention of Ratcliffe et al. (U.S. Pat. No. 5,680,718) created a hat graphic that appeared to be self-illuminating to spectators. Heminover, in U.S. Pat. No. 4,231,079, placed individual lights around a hat that were electronically programmed to flash in a choreographed manner. More recently, Vanderschuit used a decorative strip of light emitters affixed to the bill of a hat in U.S. Pat. No. 7,052,154.
Attaching light emitting devices to headwear may also serve a purpose other than novelty. Pfaeffle (in U.S. Pat. No. 5,931,559) and Glatt (in U.S. Pat. No. 5,758,947) combined light with helmets as a means of increasing safety by making the user more visible to others. Waters (in U.S. Pat. No. 6,659,618) and Polaire (in U.S. Pat. No. 6,721,962) each presented inventions in which lights attached to the hat illuminated the immediate area ahead of the device user. A complex invention combined a hat with a video camera and a video display as defined by Buskop in U.S. Pat. No. 7,598,928. As written in said patent, the device is primarily for use by people functioning as tour guides for groups. U. S. Design Patent D603,585 depicts a hat with a window-like area attached. However, this design patent is purely ornamental and no function or utility is represented by Capriola, the listed inventor of said design patent.
These previous attempts have suffered from the inability to quickly and easily customize the appearance of the hat after manufacture. At best, for the hats that employed a series of light emitters, the user could only adjust the frequency, intensity or pattern in which the light emitters were activated. For those inventions that offered interchangeable graphics, such changes elicited physical effort from the user which required several seconds at minimum to accomplish.
Static, passive graphics on headwear could be replaced by illuminated electronic displays that are commonplace in myriad products already. Such displays can utilize varied technical approaches, including but not limited to thin film transistor liquid crystals (U.S. Pat. No. 6,583,777), light emitting diodes (U.S. Pat. No. 5,184,114) and organic light emitting diodes (U.S. Pat. No. 7,538,343). To date, no disclosed device has mated electronically addressable image displays with headwear, as does the present invention described henceforth.
The present invention is a new device for displaying photographic, video or text images on a wearable apparatus commonly known as a hat or cap. This device is portable, allowing the user to advertise or otherwise communicate to those around him or her via a portion of the hat that conveys visual media electronically. The electronic display portion of this device generally consists of an array of picture elements which are individually addressable and changeable such that the pattern of light being emitted by this display is representative of a drawing, photograph, motion picture or conveyance of language. Current implementations of this display technology include backlit liquid crystal displays (LCD), light emitting diodes (LED), organic light emitting diodes (OLED) and electroluminescent (EL) displays, although other display technologies may be employed as part of the present invention.
A processing unit controls the images which appear on the display. A user may store digital representations of drawings, photographs, motion pictures, text and/or pictographic symbols on media accessible to the processing unit, from which the processing unit will subsequently evoke a variation of colors and intensities of light on the display such that images are externally viewable by spectators. Because the user has control of the images that are to be viewed, the invention is readily customizable in expressing or communicating that which the user desires to convey. For example, the user may wish to display digital photographs or videos of select persons, animated characters, company or sports team logos, places, machinery or ideas. In an exemplary mode of this present invention, a specific photographic image may be shown indefinitely on the display screen of the device, or a series of images and/or videos may be shown, each being shown for a given duration. The present invention need not be implemented on a specific style of hat. That is, the electronic video display may be incorporated on varying styles of headwear including, but not limited to, baseball caps, cowboy hats, stocking hats, top hats, protective helmets and the like.
The present invention may be implemented with any style of hat. The baseball cap is a popular hat style and will thus serve as the choice of hat for the illustration of the preferred embodiment. Such a hat typically is constructed in a manner that the crown portion 10 is fabricated from a pliable material. Sections of the pliable material are sewn or glued together to form the shape of 10. Brim 12 is semi-rigid such that it reasonably maintains a designed shape, although 12 need not be a necessary portion of the device. For the purposes of executing a baseball style cap, 10 attaches to 12 and together 10 and 12 form a wearable piece of headgear.
The most conspicuous portion of the present invention is the electronic display screen 14 (
Central processing unit 16 is an electronic component with the function of dictating and controlling the images displayed by 14. 16 controls the light intensities and colors emitted by the pixels of 14 in proper combination so as to generate the appearance of a recognized image on 14. 16 also controls the order and duration of when images appear on 14. In the preferred embodiment, 16 has access to an electronic storage collection which contains digital representations of images. Examples of suitable electronic storage include, but are not limited to, flash memory, hard disk drive, solid state disk drive and random access memory. 16 is then able to retrieve the digital image data from said electronic storage and instruct 14 to recreate the image based on this digital data onto the viewable screen. Access to the digital data may be through either a direct physical connection to the storage media, or through a wireless means such as radio communication or modulated photon signal. 16 conveys control signals to display screen 14 via display control conduit 20. 20 may be a single physical conduit, or may be divided into multiple instances of 20 as the fabricator of this present invention deems practical. 16 may also control the flow of electrical energy to and from electrical power source 18 via electrical power conduit 22.
Electrical power source 18 provides the electrical energy required for operation of the electrical components of the present invention. In the preferred embodiment, 18 may take the form of a rechargeable battery. That is, a battery whose internal chemical potential state may be refreshed by supplying additional external electrical current. Examples of such components are batteries employing lithium-ion, lithium polymer, nickel metal hydride or nickel cadmium electrochemical materials. The fabricator may also select other options for 18, such as, but not limited to, a non-rechargeable battery, a storage capacitor, a fuel cell or a thermo-electric generator.
In the preferred embodiment, major components of the present invention 14, 16, 18, 20 and 22 may be housed together inside display housing 24 (
To operate the device after assembly, the user may verify that the electrical power source 18 has ample stored energy to provide electrical energy to the electronic system components during use of the device. In the preferred embodiment, a source of external electrical current may be temporarily connected by the user to central processing unit 16. 16 may then redirect the current via electrical conduit 22 to 18 if the instance of 18 is a rechargeable battery. 16 may monitor the voltage level being output by 18 to determine the level of stored energy by 18, and 16 may report this value to the user by conveying a message on display screen 14 via display control conduit 20. Once 18 has been recharged to an acceptable level of stored energy, the temporary source of external current is disconnected from 16.
The user may then modify the contents of the digital data storage collection to which 16 has access. In the preferred embodiment, 16 contains an amount of digital storage volume to hold copies of digital data. This storage may take the form of, but is not limited to, flash memory or hard disk drive. The user may attach one end of a digital data transfer cable to 16, and the other end of the data transfer cable to another external device such as a computer, telephone or camera. The user then chooses the digital files to be transferred from the external device to the storage medium of 16, and then the user initiates said transfer. The digital files will contain representations of the images, videos, text, pictographs or sequence of computer instructions. After completion of the digital data transfer, the user will disconnect the external data transfer cable from 16.
The user then chooses the sequence and duration of visibility for the images, video or text to be displayed on display screen 14, as well as possible visual effects to occur during transitions between images. In the preferred embodiment, the settings and sequence for image display are communicated to the user via text and icons that are shown on 14 when 16 is in a state dedicated to defining the configuration of the device. The user may interact with 16 through electronic switches connected to 16, through a touch sensitive feedback function of display screen 14, or a combination of both. Touch sensitive feedback may be employed using common technologies such as, but not limited to, capacitive touchscreens or resistive touchscreens. In general, these touchscreens will not only allow the image from the light emitting display array 14 to be viewed, but also sense when a person or object contacts an area of the externally viewable screen with moderate force. Said touchscreen can sense where on the touchscreen physical contact has been made, and relay this information to 16 in the form of a geometric coordinate. The firmware which operates 16 may then couple the feedback from said touchscreen with locations of icons or virtual buttons which are simultaneously displayed on 14 to determine configuration or selections made by the user in defining the state of the device. Additionally, the user may elect to have the display settings determined by an algorithm built into the operating firmware of central processing unit 16.
Once the user completes configuration of the device, the user may initiate 16 to begin executing the display of selected images to be shown on display screen 14. The user may then place the hat on the top of his head in a manner customary to the wearing of headwear. Typically the inner concave portion of hat 10 makes direct contact with the outer surface of the scalp on the head of a person. When the hat has a brim it is customary to orient said brim 12 to a position such that 12 is vertically above the face of the user (
At the discretion of the user, the user may choose to initiate a state of the device such that electrical power is removed from display screen 14. During the lifetime of an instance of the fabricated invention, the user may refresh the electrical power supply 18, modify the contents of the stored digital data, or modify the sequence or algorithms selected for the display of the digital images. The user may also choose to modify the firmware instruction set which operates central processing unit 16 through the exchange of digital data. The user may choose to operate the present invention with a source of external electrical power physically connected to the device.
Alternative embodiments exist which provide slight differences in the construction or configuration of present invention, all of which continue to be encompassed by the scope and spirit of the present invention. In the preferred embodiment, central processing unit 16 had access to internally stored digital data. One alternative to internal data storage is removable data storage, such as a removable flash memory card. The user could place digital files directly on a removable flash memory card external to the present invention, and then insert said card into the present invention such that 16 has the ability to retrieve the digital data contents stored on the card. The invention could be constructed to also use a combination of internal digital data storage and removable data storage.
In the preferred embodiment a physical cable was discussed as a means to transfer digital data from external sources to the central processing unit 16. An alternative to said physical connection is a wireless transfer of data. This could be accomplished by adding functionality to 16 such that 16 may receive data via radio frequency communications or modulated light. It may also be possible for 16 to receive digital image, video or message data in real time via wireless communications instead of accessing data kept in digital storage.
In the preferred embodiment the user configured the operation of the present invention through interaction with 16 via electrical switches, touchscreen feedback, or a combination of both. It is also possible for the user to define the sequence and display of images externally from the device, such as on a computer, and create a digital data file containing these definitions. This digital definition file could then be transferred to, interpreted by and executed by 16.
In the construction of the device, the user may elect to physically separate components. One justification for this is to reduce the size of the components externally visible to casual observers of the constructed invention.
An embodiment could also be chosen that groups central processing unit 16 together with display screen 14, but locates the electrical power source 18 along the inner surface of hat crown 10.
It may also be possible to mount display screen 14 in such a manner that the image generating surface of 14 appears to be mounted flush with the outer surface of hat crown 10.
It may also be possible to construct the present invention in such a manner that display screen 14 appears to be recessed behind the outer surface of hat crown 10.
It has been stressed how the present invention may be implemented on different styles of hats.
The present invention need not be limited to a single instance of display screen 14.
Regardless of the choice of physical construction, the operation of the devices with alternative embodiments remains similar to that of the preferred embodiment. Refreshing of the electrical power source, modification of the stored digital data, and selection and execution of the image display sequence are performed in a manner similar to that previously described for the preferred embodiment.
Accordingly, the reader will understand that the hat with electronic display provides a means for the user to easily customize their headgear and convey an opinion in a novel and dazzling manner. Quite often a static fabric patch is affixed to hats, especially baseball cap style hats, which displays the logo of a particular company, product or sports organization. The present invention adds flair to headwear since the electronic screen will display images with vibrancy. Additionally, the displayed images could be motion pictures which will capture the attention of onlookers far more than an unchanging image. The use of digital media among consumers is widespread, ensuring that there is both a market for and a capability of users to transfer photos and motion pictures to the present invention in order to create a tailored, expressive piece of wardrobe. Examples of this market include customized digital wallpapers available on cellular telephones and digital photo frames.
The electronic displays need not be limited to any particular technological approach. Although the drawings presented depict image display screens with a flat, rectangular shape, the employment of screens with other shapes, or screens with curved surfaces, is also conceivable in the fabrication of the present invention. If technologically feasible, the display screen of the present invention could encompass a large circumference of the hat, or even completely surround the hat exterior. The headwear also need not be constructed from a flexible material. The present invention is equally as applicable to headwear with hard, rigid surfaces, such as helmets. Nor is it essential that the hat chosen for the implementation of the device have a brim.
It is not necessary that the contents of the digital storage media of the present invention, or the image display sequence definition, be modifiable by the end user. It is possible for the hat with electronic display to be preloaded with digital content by the distributor or agents thereof. A manufacturer could choose to sell a manifestation of this invention in unassembled form, allowing the end user to complete construction. It is conceivable that an audio speaker could be added to the present invention so that the device provides aural as well as visual stimuli.
Although the description above has presented some specificities about shape, style and choice of materials, these should only be considered aids to visualization of the construction and operation of the device. By no means should said specificities be interpreted as limitations of any embodiment. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be judged by the claims of this patent and their legal equivalents.