US 3900710 A
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United States Patent [191 Potter 1 1 SQUEEZABLY ACTUATED GENERAL PURPOSE ELECTRIC SWITCH  Inventor: John Potter, Star Rt. Box 47, Rt.
515, Vernon, NJ. 07462  Filed: Oct. 1, 1973  Appl. No.: 402,007
 Field of Search... 200/83 B, 83 Z, 81 H, 51.14, ZOO/51.16, 61.04, 168 1,172,159 R, 159 B, 157, 329, 330, 333, 82 R, 82 Y, 82 V;
[ 1 Aug. 19, 1975 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 825,731 12/1959 United Kingdom 200/81 H Primary ExaminerGerald P. Tolin Attorney, Agent, or Firm-James J. Cannon, .lr.; James .I. Cannon  ABSTRACT A squeezably actuated electric switch is disclosed comprising a standard push on push off electric switch mounted in a housing; and a flexible, hollow squeezable switch member filled with a liquid attached to the housing. The squeezable switch member has an expandable surface portion in contact with the push on push off switch actuator end face. The expandable surface portion bulges upon squeezing the body of the switch in any position forcing the switch actuator inward to throw the push switch. The housing may comprise among other things an incandescent lamp socket.
2 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,119.146 5/1938 Adams ZOO/51.16
2,534.875 12/1950 Miller ZOO/51.16
2.786909 3/1957 Goldman v ZOO/51.14
3,541,485 11/[970 Moret ZOO/51.16
I l 34 A SQL'EEZABLY ACTUATED GENERAL PURPOSE ELECTRIC SWITCH BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The invention resides in the field of hand actuated electric switches and more particularly those of the type usually employed in home appliances such as lamp sockets or convenience switches attached to extension cords.
2. Description of the Prior Art The prior art is repleat with a multiplicity of hand actuated electric switches for home appliances such as rotary. flip. single button push. chain. dual button push and slideable bar switches plus many others too numerous to mention. Each has its own merits and disadvantages which depend on the application of the switch. The present invention is designed to reduce the certain amount of fumbling or groping which is inherent in the use of all switches with a small actuating member as well as to provide a switch of great convenience for those who have difficulty operating commonly available switches such as blind persons or invalids.
One form of the invention comprises a donut or to mid shaped flexible switch member which surrounds an incandescent lamp socket. Several patents, particularly US. Pat. Nos. 2.446.768: 2.786.909; and 2.985.729 show structures which appear similar. However. those inventions all consist of solid rings which are either rotated about the socket or slide back and forth along its axis. In contrast. and as will be described in greater detail below. the ring shaped embodiment of the present invention is flexible and is designed to be squeezed by exerting minor pressure with one or two fingers in any position to achieve the desired result of actuating the switch.
Additionally. US. Pat. No. 2.119.146 discloses a flexible lamp socket casing which when squeezed in the proper spot actuatcs a push type switch by direct contact through the casing. the casing serving as an insulating barrier. As will be further seen the instant invention differs from this structure as well. particularly in the construction and disposition of the flexible, squeezable switch member. Other differences and advantages will become more clear from the following summary.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION As stated above. the invention comprises a squeezably actuated electric switch utilizing a push on push off switch mounted in a housing and an actuator for the push switch slideably mounted to said switch and within said housing. The face end of the actuator is exposed to the exterior of the housing where it is contacted by an expandable surface portion of a hollow. flexible. liquid-filled squeezable switch member. Squeezing the switch member in any position causes the expandable surface portion to bulge forcing the switch actuator inward to throw the push switch. Each squeeze causes the push switch to change state. either on or off. just as pushing the switch actuator directly would. The push switch is of the conventional ty pe hav ing an input and output for supplying electricity to an appliance. Either one or both lines of a standard electrical cord may be controlled by the push switch depending upon which of a number of conventional designs is chosen.
l taken with the drawings.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional schematic view of one embodiment of the invention; and
FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. I along line AA; and
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional schematic view of an additional embodiment of the invention.
FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate alternate embodiments ofthc squeezable switch member of the present invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring first to FIG. I, there is illustrated in crosssectional schematic representation a particularly useful embodiment of the invention comprising a lamp socket and housing IOcontaining light bulb 12 having base I4. Push on push off switch I6 is mounted in socket and housing 10. which switch can be any conventional design of this general type. Particular mounting means,
not shown. are a matter of choice as would be obvious to those skilled in the art. Switch 16 has input terminal IS, a screw terminal for example. and an output terminal 20, a domed contact for the tip of the lamp bulb as shown.
Screw receptical 22 for receiving lamp base I4 is supplied with input screw terminal 24. Dual wire electric cord 26 enters socket 10 through base aperture 28 and terminates at screw terminals 30 and 32. Internal connections are made between terminals 30 and I8, and 32 and 24 by wires 34 and 36 respectively. It shouldbe understood that the internal electrical connections of the socket are shown for representational purposes only and are subject to modification as would best suit the needs of the industrial designers and manufacturers.
Switch actuator 38 is slideably mounted to said push switch 16 as a part thereof and within said housing l0 and connects to push switch 16 such that a forward thrust on the face 40 of the actuator 38 turns the switch either on or off and an additional thrust reverses the previous state. The face 40 as shown is of substantially larger cross-section than the shaft of the actuator and protrudes slightly through wall 42 of socket housing I0. Squeezable switch member 44 is flexible. hollow and filled with a substantially non-compressible liquid 46 which should also be of low conductivity in the event of accidental rupture of the switch member surface. The squeezable switch member 44 in this embodiment takes the form of a donut or toroid and is secured in place by flange rings 48 molded into the housing 10.
A thin. expandable surface portion 50 is molded into the surface of the squeezable member 44 and is aligned with actuator face 40. Upon squeezing the switch member 44 from any angle or orientation with the tips of the fingers. the expandable portion will bulge inwardly through the aperture in the socket wall 42. driving the actuator 38 forward to throw the push switch I6. Since the donut can be grasped in any position about the circumference. fumbling and groping in the dark is eliminated to a large degreev The benefit to blind people at anytime of day is equally great especially since the donut can be made substantiallyI larger than is illustrated. Similarly. and as will be described below. the squeezable switch may be made as large as the palm of a hand to enable arthritic persons to grasp the switch with the entire hand to reduce pain and remove the difficulty of manipulating individual fingers.
Referring now to FIG. 2 where like members signify like parts of the apparatus of FIG. I. a cross-sectional representation illustrating the thin expandable surface or wall portion of the squeezable switch member 44 is shown. As described above. push switch 16 is mounted in housing 10. Inner wall 52 and outer wall 54 of the squeezable switch member 44 contain liquid 46. The walls are composed, for example, of any tough flexible plastic or other resilient material. When the outer wall is squeezed. the liquid displaces and forces the thinner section of inner wall 52 to bulge through the aperture in socket wall 42 and against the actuator face 40. The actuator 38 is then driven forward and the push switch thrown.
Referring next to FIG. 3, an alternative embodiment of the invention is illustrated. Line cord 56 enters housing 58 through apertures 60 and 62. One wire 64 of the cord passes through the housing 58, and out aperture 66 uninterupted. The other wire 68 is connected to push switch 70. mounted in the housing, at screw terminal 72. An additional output screw terminal 74 is located on switch push to which is connected :1 continuation 76 of wire 68. Switch actuator 78 is slideably mounted to said push switch 70 and within said housing 58. and has a face 80 of larger cross-section than the g shaft.
Squeezable switch member 82 is composed ofa flexible hollow elongated tube which is held in place in the housing by a double molded ring 84 in the wall 85 of the switch in the manner of a grommet. The thin wall or expandable portion of the tube is the end surface and abuts face 80 of the switch actuator. The operation is the same as described above. When the tube is squeezed by fingers or hand 86 as is shown. the end of the tube forces actuator 78 forward and throws the push switch. Another squeeze and the state of the switch is reversedv ln addition to being adaptable to a lamp socket in the manner described above. this general purpose switch has particular applications in an extension cord since one end of wire 56 may be fitted with an ordinary electric plug for a wall socket and the other end with a receptacle for plugging in household appliances. The cord may then be concealed but the tube exposed for operating the appliance. This embodiment is particularly useful where the user is bed-ridden and wishes to operate a tclevison. radio or other appliance from a distance. An embodiment of such a design is illustrated in FIG. 4. In addition. the principles disclosed in this specification are easily adaptable to a wall switch, an embodiment of which is illustrated in FIG. 5. The squeezable switch member would be in the form of a hemisphere which when squeezed or touched would move a switch actuator to change the state of a switch. This embodiment would be particularly useful for blind or otherwise physically handicapped persons and for small children. Other variations. modifications, and uses of the invention will now become obvious from the foregoing drawings and specification.
What is claimed is:
l. A squeczably actuated general purpose electric switch comprising in combination:
a. a housing;
b. a push on-push otT electrical switch mounted within said housing having an electrical input ter minal for receiving a conductor of electrical power and an electrical output terminal for transmitting electrical power to an appliance;
e. an actuator for said push switch slidcably mounted within said housing. said actuator having an end face communicating with the exterior of said housing; and
d. a flexible hollow squcezable switch member in the shape of a toroid surrounding said housing filled with a substantially non-compressible liquid secured to said housing. said member having an expandable surface portion in communication with said actuator end face. said expandable surface portion being relatively thinner than the remaining surface of said member.
2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said housing comprises a lamp socket.