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Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Rotatable Animation Devices with Staggered Illumination Sources", for Approval

June 25, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Electronics Newsweekly -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventors Seder, Rufus Butler (Arlington, MA); Favalora, Gregg E. (Bedford, MA); Eames, Dexter (Cambridge, MA), filed on June 25, 2013, was made available online on June 12, 2014.

No assignee for this patent application has been made.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The prior art has disclosed numerous two-dimensional illuminated displays. For instance, information and entertainment displays have been disclosed with linear and two-dimensional arrays of selectively activated light sources, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Two-dimensional arrays of light sources are typically arranged in a planar configuration. A display may thus be created by selectively illuminating the light sources. In certain instances, the arrays may be movable thereby to increase the display effect. By way of example, devices of the prior art have disposed linear and two-dimensional arrays of light sources on flat and sometimes arcuate or cylindrical rotatable members, such as fan blades, rotating drums, and other structures whereby messages and animated images can be displayed over a range of angles. While advantageous in certain applications, two-dimensional arrays are obviously limited in their ability to display images and information.

"Accordingly, further teachings of the prior art have sought to provide three-dimensional displays, such as by use of a two-dimensional array of light sources disposed on a rotatable panel. The array can then be rotated about a central axis while the light sources are activated in sequence and at an effective rate thereby to present an image to a viewer. The image can be a moving image or a fixed image, each being perceived by the viewer as a result of the persistence of vision phenomenon associated with the human eye. Such rotating, three-dimensional displays can provide enhanced detail to the viewer and are commonly considered to have greater appeal aesthetically and for conveying advertising and information. When such three-dimensional displays are interfaced with electronic controls, a variable three-dimensional image can be created with a degree of complexity. Such displays can be exploited for numerous purposes, including entertainment, education, and conveying three-dimensional data, such as in the fields of medicine, non-destructive testing, air traffic control, and computer aided design.

"One of the earliest volumetric three-dimensional displays was designed by Schipper and was protected by U.S. Pat. No. 3,097,261. There, a rotating electroluminescent panel has an embedded high-speed light emitter array. With that, by controlling the timing of the x-y addressing of the light emitter array and the rotation of the panel, three-dimensional images can be formed within the volume swept by the rotating panel. Further three-dimensional display devices with an array of light sources retained on a rotatable flat panel are found, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 3,154,636 to Schwertz and in the U.S. Pat. No. 4,160,973 to Berlin. Berlin sought to develop an approach to solve a recognized high-bandwidth data transmission problem using an optical link and exploiting a high speed LED matrix with the LEDs again rotated to sweep out a three-dimensional volume. A curved rotatable screen is taught in U.S. Pat. No. 3,204,238 to Skellet, and a spherical spiral screen is used in U.S. Pat. No. 3,202,985 to Perkins, both disclosed for use as radar displays. In each instance, when the panel is rotated and the light sources selectively illuminated, the two-dimensional array produces volumetric, three-dimensional displays.

"In each of these systems, the resolution of the two-dimensional image or, as applicable, the three-dimensional volume is inherently limited by the number and density of LEDs or other light sources that are rotated to produce the two-dimensional or three-dimensional image. Even where light sources are disposed to opposed sides of an axis of rotation seeking to produce brighter and crisper animation, corresponding light sources will tend to travel along the same illumination paths. Therefore, while there may actually be multiple light sources in a given illumination path, the light sources will not yield an increase in the resolution of the animation provided by the system."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "With an understanding of the foregoing, the present invention was founded on the object of providing rotatable animation devices with illuminated animation of enhanced resolution and clarity.

"A related object of the invention is to provide a rotatable animation device where light sources have distinct paths of illumination thereby to provide greater resolution in the depicted image.

"Embodiments of the invention have the further object of producing illuminated animation in a handheld device.

"Certain embodiments of the invention seek to provide illuminated animation with greater resolution in two dimensions while others seek to provide three-dimensional animation of enhanced resolution.

"These and further objects and advantages of embodiments of the invention will become obvious not only to one who reviews the present specification and drawings but also to those who have an opportunity to enjoy the use of an embodiment of the rotatable animation devices with staggered illumination sources disclosed herein. However, it will be appreciated that, although the accomplishment of each of the foregoing objects in a single embodiment of the invention may be possible and indeed preferred, not all embodiments will seek or need to accomplish each and every potential object and advantage. Nonetheless, all such embodiments should be considered within the scope of the present invention.

"In one embodiment, the illuminated animation device with staggered sources of illumination is founded on a rotatable member rotatable about an axis of rotation. First and second pluralities of sources of illumination are retained to rotate with the rotatable member. The first and second pluralities of sources of illumination are actuatable between illuminated and non-illuminated conditions, and the first plurality of sources of illumination are staggered in relation to the second sources of illumination. Under this construction, when the rotatable member is rotated and the sources of illumination are actuated, the sources of illumination will produce paths of illumination. The paths of illumination produced by the first plurality of sources of illumination are advantageously staggered in relation to the paths of illumination produced by the second plurality of sources of illumination. As a result, illuminated images, whether in two or three dimensions, can be displayed by the illuminated animation device with a resolution deriving from the paths of illumination of both the first and second pluralities of sources of illumination.

"In certain embodiments, the rotatable member can take the form of a rotatable panel with a longitudinal axis of rotation. A first panel half is disposed to one side of the longitudinal axis of rotation, and a second panel half is disposed to a second side of the longitudinal axis of rotation. The first plurality of sources of illumination are retained in a longitudinally and laterally spaced array by the first panel half, and the second plurality of sources of illumination are retained in a longitudinally and laterally spaced array by the second panel half. With this, the illuminated animation device can produce three-dimensional images and animation by a rotation of the rotatable panel in combination with an actuation of the first and second pluralities of sources of illumination. As disclosed herein, the first plurality of sources of illumination can be longitudinally, laterally, or laterally and longitudinally staggered in relation to the second plurality of sources of illumination.

"With or without such a rotatable panel, the first plurality of sources of illumination can be retained in a longitudinally and laterally spaced array, and the second plurality of sources of illumination can be retained in a longitudinally and laterally spaced array spaced from the array of the first plurality of sources of illumination. The first and second pluralities of sources of illumination in such embodiments can be rotatable about a longitudinal axis of rotation whereby the illuminated animation device can produce three-dimensional images and animation by a rotation of the rotatable member in combination with an actuation of the first and second pluralities of sources of illumination. While it need not necessarily be the case, the array of the first plurality of sources of illumination can be disposed substantially in diametric opposition to the array of the second plurality of sources of illumination. The first and second pluralities of sources of animation can be approximately equal in number, and the first and second pluralities of sources of illumination can be disposed in substantially matching patterns. For instance, the first and second pluralities of sources of illumination can be substantially evenly spaced, and the first and second pluralities of sources of illumination can be staggered in lateral and longitudinal positions by approximately one-half a distance between adjacent sources of illumination.

"In other embodiments, the first plurality of sources of illumination can be retained in a radially spaced array, such as a substantially straight line, and the second plurality of sources of illumination can likewise be retained in a radially spaced array, again potentially in a straight line, but spaced from the array of the first plurality of sources of illumination. So configured, the illuminated animation device can produce two-dimensional images and animation by a rotation of the rotatable member in combination with an actuation of the first and second pluralities of sources of illumination. Again, the array of the first plurality of sources of illumination can be disposed substantially in diametric opposition to the array of the second plurality of sources of illumination. Moreover, the pluralities of sources of illumination in each array can be substantially evenly spaced and staggered in radial position by approximately one-half a distance between adjacent sources of illumination. With that, the paths of illumination established by the first plurality of sources of illumination will be interposed between the paths of illumination established by the second plurality of sources of illumination. Such embodiments could take the form of a rotatable fan blade or other member, a manually rotatable top, or any other construction except as the invention might be limited by the claims. Where the animation device takes the form of a top, it can be calibrated to have a rate of playback of animated images as a function of the actual or estimated angular velocity of the top.

"It is contemplated that a circuit board can be retained to rotate with the rotatable member, and a motor can be disposed, for instance, in a handle portion of the device for rotating the rotatable member. A power source, such as a battery, can be provided for powering the motor.

"In still other embodiments, the rotatable member can be rotatable about first and second axes of rotation. The first plurality of sources of illumination can again be retained in a radially spaced array, and the second plurality of sources of illumination can again be retained in a radially spaced array spaced from the array of the first plurality of sources of illumination. With this, the illuminated animation device can produce three-dimensional volumetric images and animation by a rotation of the rotatable member about the first and second axes of rotation in combination with an actuation of the first and second pluralities of sources of illumination.

"As noted, the illuminated animation device can be handheld. In such constructions, it can have a handle portion that rotatably retains the rotatable member. A motor can be provided for rotating the rotatable member, and a power source can be incorporated for powering the motor. A user control interface can be included for permitting selective control of, for instance, the rotation of the rotatable member, the illumination of the sources of illumination, and the animation speed of three-dimensional animation displayed by the animation device. A power circuit board can be retained by the handle portion, a display circuit board can be retained to rotate with the rotatable member, and rotary electrical interfaces can transmit power and control signals between the power circuit board and the display circuit board. Further, a memory chip can be retained to rotate with the rotatable member, a data connector can permit loading data files onto the memory chip, and a programming connector can rotate with the rotatable member to permit a programming of the display circuit board. Still further, the device can incorporate means for adjusting the brightness of the sources of illumination dependent on a distance of the source of illumination from the axis of rotation.

"One will appreciate that the foregoing discussion broadly outlines the more important goals and features of the invention to enable a better understanding of the detailed description that follows and to instill a better appreciation of the inventors' contribution to the art. Before any particular embodiment or aspect thereof is explained in detail, it must be made clear that the following details of construction and illustrations of inventive concepts are mere examples of the many possible manifestations of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"In the accompanying drawings:

"FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an illuminated three-dimensional animation device pursuant to the present invention;

"FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the head portion of the illuminated three-dimensional animation device of FIG. 1 with the animation panel in a first orientation and with the dome removed;

"FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the head portion of the illuminated three-dimensional animation device of FIG. 1 with the animation panel in a second orientation, again with the dome removed;

"FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the head portion of the illuminated three-dimensional animation device of FIG. 1 during three-dimensional animation;

"FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the head portion of the illuminated three-dimensional animation device of FIG. 1 depicting the rotational support of the animation panel with the animation panel in a first orientation;

"FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the head portion of the illuminated three-dimensional animation device of FIG. 1 again depicting the rotational support of the animation panel but with the animation panel in a second orientation;

"FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the head portion of the illuminated three dimensional animation device with the motor and animation panel partially removed from the head portion;

"FIG. 8 is an electrical power schematic for use under the present invention;

"FIG. 9 is a schematic of the electrical connections driving the animation panel according to an embodiment of the invention;

"FIG. 10 is a schematic of the electrical connections of a first portion of the animation panel;

"FIG. 11 is a schematic of the electrical connections of a second portion of the animation panel;

"FIGS. 12A through 12D depict volumetric animation images of a running boy;

"FIGS. 13A through 13C depict volumetric animation images of a galloping horse;

"FIGS. 14A through 14C depict volumetric animation images of a hummingbird;

"FIG. 15 is a view in front elevation of an animation panel with staggered light sources as disclosed herein;

"FIG. 16 is a view in front elevation of the animation panel of FIG. 15 depicting the illumination fields produced by the light sources during rotation of the panel;

"FIG. 17 is a top plan view of a two-dimensional animation device with staggered illumination sources;

"FIG. 18 is a top plan view of the two-dimensional animation device of FIG. 17 depicting the illumination paths followed by the staggered light sources;

"FIG. 19 is a view in front elevation of a handheld two-dimensional animation device as taught herein in operation;

"FIG. 20 is a perspective view of the handheld animation device of FIG. 19;

"FIG. 21 is a view in side elevation of the handheld animation device of FIG. 19;

"FIG. 22 is a top plan view of a circuit board for use in the handheld animation device of FIG. 19;

"FIG. 23 is an electrical schematic for the handheld animation device of FIG. 19;

"FIG. 24 is a chart of the mapping bits for a handheld animation device according to the invention;

"FIG. 25 is a perspective view of a manually rotated animation device with staggered light sources as disclosed herein;

"FIG. 26 is a perspective view of the manually rotated animation device of FIG. 25 in operation;

"FIG. 27 is a perspective view of an alternative manually rotated animation device with staggered light sources as disclosed herein;

"FIG. 28 is a perspective view of the manually rotated animation device of FIG. 27 in operation;

"FIG. 29 is a schematic view in front elevation of an alternative rotatable animation device pursuant to the invention; and

"FIG. 30 is a view in front elevation of the rotatable animation device of FIG. 29 in operation."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Seder, Rufus Butler; Favalora, Gregg E.; Eames, Dexter. Rotatable Animation Devices with Staggered Illumination Sources. Filed June 25, 2013 and posted June 12, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=4800&p=96&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140605.PD.&OS=PD/20140605&RS=PD/20140605

Keywords for this news article include: Patents, Electronics, Circuit Board.

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Source: Electronics Newsweekly


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