Imported: 13 Feb '17 | Published: 10 Feb '15
USPTO - Utility Patents
A personal lock box with a timer comprising a hinged strongbox with an internal cavity that is large enough to contain small personal items therein. The lock box is controlled by an electronic circuit. The lock box further comprises a user interface, a timer, a power source, and associated circuitry. The user interface allows a user to activate the device, selectively program a locked time, and initiate a locked cycle during which time the lockbox cannot be opened. Additionally, the lock box comprises a retractable locking cord for securing the lock box to large items.
The present invention was first described in and claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/432,665 filed on Jan. 14, 2011, the entire disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.
The present invention relates generally to a lock-out box, and in particular, to a lock-out box with a timer.
Many people use certain items such as cell phones, keys, cigarettes, or similar item too many times throughout a day. So much in fact that these people need a way to cut-off access to these items for certain predetermined amounts of times. Lock-out boxes are known and used to prevent a person from accessing certain items or only accessing the items at certain programmed times.
Daily life is filled with many distractions for all of us. While most of these distractions are necessary to help keep a balance of work and play in our lives, many people may occasionally have the tendency to allow some of these distractions to take control of their lives. Age is typically not a factor in the amount of distraction time, although the items doing the distracting may change over time. Young children may spend an inordinate amount of time in front of the television or computer, while adults may spend too much time doing some online gambling or spending money on credit cards. Accordingly, while self control and realization of one's limits is critical, there exists a need for a means by which physical items that allow for such distractions and which allow for unlimited usage impulses can be controlled.
Various attempts have been made to provide a lock-out box. Examples of these attempts can be seen by reference to several U.S. patents. U.S. Patent No. 2007/0180873, issued in the name of Yen et al., describes a lockable container for securing items.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,129,536, issued in the name of Robinson, describes a sealable food storage container with a timed locking mechanism.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,825,753, issued in the name of Cardinale et al., describes a lockbox having a programmable opening to provide access to the contents at desired times.
While these devices fulfill their respective, particular objectives, each of these references suffer from one (1) or more disadvantages. Many such devices are not suited for items which need charged from a power source. Other devices are too large in size to be transported by a user. Accordingly, there exists a need for a lock-out box without the disadvantages as described above. The development of the present invention substantially departs from the conventional solutions and in doing so fulfills this need.
The inventor has recognized the aforementioned inherent problems and lack in the art and observed that there is a need for a lock-out box with timer.
Accordingly, it is an object of the present embodiments of the invention to solve at least one (1) of these problems. The inventor has addressed this need by developing a lock-out box with a timer.
To achieve the above objectives, it is an object of the present invention to provide a lock-out box with timer.
Another object of the present invention is to provide the lock-out box with timer with a housing assembly.
Yet still another object of the present invention is to provide the housing assembly with a hinge, a housing lid, and a housing base.
Yet still another object of the present invention is to provide the housing base with a latching mechanism.
Yet still another object of the present invention is to provide a means to program the time by utilizing an information display and programming buttons.
Yet still another object of the present invention is to provide a first aperture between the housing base and the housing lid to entrap a plug.
Yet still another object of the present invention is to provide a locking cord to secures a target item which is external to the lock-out box.
Yet still another object of the present invention is to provide a power adapter to charge batteries.
Yet still another object of the present invention is to provide an inner space to retain desired items.
Yet still another object of the present invention is to provide a control module to control the lock-out box.
Yet still another object of the present invention is to provide a method of utilizing the device that provides a unique means of using the power adapter to charge the battery, pressing desired programming buttons to activate the lock-out box, placing items within the inner space, closing the lid, programming a period of time during, and restraining the user's access to the locked items.
Further objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from a consideration of the drawings and ensuing description.
The best mode for carrying out the invention is presented in terms of its preferred embodiment, herein depicted within FIGS. 1 through 5. However, the invention is not limited to the described embodiment and a person skilled in the art will appreciate that many other embodiments of the invention are possible without deviating from the basic concept of the invention, and that any such work around will also fall under scope of this invention. It is envisioned that other styles and configurations of the present invention can be easily incorporated into the teachings of the present invention, and only one particular configuration shall be shown and described for purposes of clarity and disclosure and not by way of limitation of scope.
The terms “a” and “an” herein do not denote a limitation of quantity, but rather denote the presence of at least one of the referenced items.
The present disclosure describes the personal lock-out box with timer (herein described as the “device”) 10, which provides containment of small items in a locked and inaccessible container for a pre-programmed period of time. The device 10 is preferably suited to reduce distractions and curb impulses. The device 10 includes a clam-shell housing assembly 20 approximately six (6) inches deep, four (4) inches wide, and two (2) inches high. The device 10 is envisioned to be constructed of a durable plastic material which when locked, cannot be opened without damaging the device 10. A digital display 28 and a plurality of keypad buttons upon a housing lid 24 allows a user to electronically program a locked period of time. The device 10 is powered by one (1) or more disposable or rechargeable batteries 23 located within the housing base 22 which can only be accessed through the interior space 48 of the device 10. The construction of the device 10 allows the user to place items within the interior space 48 such as cigarettes, power cords 100, keys 105, cell phones 110, prescription drugs, credit cards, and other items that cause a distraction or temptation.
Referring now to FIG. 1, a right side perspective view of the device 10 depicted in a closed state, is disclosed. The plastic clam-shell housing assembly 20 which comprises a hinge 31 along a rear edge provides a means by which a user may selectively pre-program a period of time electronically, during which the housing lid 24 of the device 10 will be locked against a housing base 22, thereby preventing access to items contained within. The housing base 22 includes a solenoid latching mechanism 25 which when actuated prevents the user from opening the lid (see FIG. 4).
Programming of the locking time is performed with the information display 28 and the plurality of programming buttons 34, 36, 40, 42 incorporated into the housing lid 24. The display 28 is envisioned to be a liquid-crystal-display (LCD) or equivalent technology and is further envisioned to include a bar-graph type battery charge indicator 30 to communicate to the user the remaining life of the internal batteries 23. The programming buttons 34, 36, 40, 42 preferably include, but are not limited to: a plurality of mode selection buttons 34, a cycle initiation button 36, a plurality of time period buttons 40, and a plurality of numeric buttons 42. The housing lid 24 further comprises a plurality of indicator lamps 44 envisioned to be located above the display 28. The mode selection buttons 34 are envisioned to include functions such as “SET DATE”, “SET”, “ENTER”, and the like. The time period buttons 40 are envisioned to indicate selections such as “5 MIN”, “20 MIN”, “1 HOUR”, “12 HOURS”, and the like. The indicator lamps 44 are envisioned to communicate status information such as “SET”, “TIME OUT”, “LOW BATTERY”, and the like. Additionally, the housing lid 24 is envisioned to include a power button 32 to electrically activate the aforementioned electronic features.
Referring now to FIG. 2, a left side perspective view of the device 10 depicted in a closed state is disclosed. The device 10 includes a first aperture 26 being split in half between the housing base 22 and the housing lid 24 along a forward edge into an upper half 27a and a lower half 27b, respectively. The first aperture 26 is sized to entrap a plug from a power cord 100 and enabling the cord 100 to be routed therethrough and similarly shaped objects within the device 10. The device 10 further includes a locking cord 50 and a second aperture 46. The locking cord 50 comprises a length of wire-rope which is wrapped around a large target object and secured within a second aperture 46 along an opposite side of the housing assembly 20 (see FIG. 3b). The second aperture 46 is divided into an upper half 47a and a lower half 47b being positioned along a side edge of the housing lid 24 and the housing base 22, respectively, in a similar fashion as the aforementioned first aperture 26 and sized to permit the locking cord 50 to pass through and retain the locking feature 52 within the inner space 48 of the device 10.
The device 10 provides a means of operation which utilizes available alternating current (AC) power as well as provides a means to charge the internal batteries 23 via an AC power adapter 70 being removably attached to the housing base 22 via an integral adapter socket 72 along a side surface. The power adapter 70 is envisioned to comprise a standard AC to DC unit having prong portions which plug into and utilize a standard household electrical outlet in a conventional manner.
Referring now to FIG. 3a, a left-side perspective view of the device 10 depicted in an open state, is disclosed. The device 10 includes a generally rectangular inner space 48 capable of concealing personal items such as a pack of cigarettes, power cords 100, keys 105, cell phones 110, prescription drugs, credit cards, and other similarly sized items. The first aperture 26 allows the user to extend the power cord 100 through the first aperture 26, thereby entrapping a plug portion of the power cord 100 within the device 10.
The housing base 22 also provides a housing and attachment means to the batteries 23 and a control module 29 along a rearward internal area. Said control module 29 provides microprocessor-based electronic control of the device 10 (see FIG. 5).
Referring now to FIG. 3b, a partial break-away right-side perspective view of the device 10 depicting a recoil mechanism portion 54, according to a preferred embodiment, is disclosed. The recoil mechanism 54 is stationarily mounted to an interior surface of the housing base 22 and provides a winding means to collect the locking cord 50 within. The locking cord 50 in turn secures a target object being external to the device 10. The said locking cord 50 works in conjunction with a second aperture 46, a locking feature 52, and a third aperture 53. The locking cord 50 is envisioned to include a length of small diameter wire-rope capable of encompassing objects such as a refrigerator, a drawer, or the like. The locking cord 50 comprises a integral button-shaped locking feature 52 permanently affixed to a free end portion which is extended from the internal recoil mechanism 54; exits the housing base 22 through a third aperture portion 53; wraps around the target object; and is finally secured by entrapping the locking feature 52 within the second aperture 46 along an opposite side of the housing assembly 20. The retracting function of the recoil mechanism 54 and the locking cord 50 allows the user to cinch up an excess length of the locking cord 50 into said recoil mechanism portion 54 of the device 10. Said recoil mechanism 54 is envisioned to be similar to commercially available locking devices made by companies such as PACKRIGHT™, LIFEVENTURE™, and the like.
Referring now to FIG. 4, a left-side section view of a solenoid latching mechanism 25 portion of the device 10 taken along section line A-A (see FIG. 3a), according to a preferred embodiment, is disclosed. The solenoid latching mechanism 25 further comprises a solenoid 60, a shot pin 61, a pair of first posts 63, a second post 65, and an electrical wire 66. The solenoid portion 60 of the solenoid latching mechanism 25, when actuated, magnetically motions a spring-return shot pin 61 which is inserted into corresponding first 62 and second 64 keeper apertures of the second post 65 and pair of first posts 63, respectively. Said keeper apertures 62, 64 comprise integrally molded portions of the housing base 22 and housing lid 24, respectively. Said posts 63, 65 comprise appendages with the keeper apertures 62, 64 such that they are aligned with each other and with the shot pin 61 along a common centerline when the housing lid 24 is closed. Said solenoid latching mechanism 25 prevents the user from opening the lid. It is understood that other types of locking mechanisms may be utilized with equal benefit without deviating from the teachings of the invention, and as such should not be interpreted as a limiting factor of the device 10.
Referring now to FIG. 5, an electrical block diagram of the device 10, according to a preferred embodiment, is disclosed. The device 10 comprises one (1) or more rechargeable or disposable batteries 23 which provide power to the control module 29. The device 10 comprises an AC power adapter 70 which may be utilized to charge said batteries 23 as well as enabling extended operation of the device 10 using available AC power from a standard household electrical outlet. Said control module 29 provides microprocessor-based electronic control of the major components of the device 10 and provides a housing means to electrical and electronic equipment necessary for the operation of the device 10. The control module 29 contains such items as, but is not limited to: a printed circuit board, microprocessors, memory chips, embedded software, I/O circuitry, relays, and the like. The control module 29 is electrically interconnected to the major components of the device 10 via common copper wiring 66. The control module 29 is in electronic communication with the previously described programming and activation buttons 32, 34, 36, 40, 42 to provide programming input signals. Said control module 29 is also in electronic communication with output devices including the display 28, the indicator lamps 44, and the solenoid 60, thereby communicating operational status to the user as well as locking the housing lid portion 24 of the device 10.
It is envisioned that other styles and configurations of the present invention can be easily incorporated into the teachings of the present invention, and only one particular configuration shall be shown and described for purposes of clarity and disclosure and not by way of limitation of scope.
The preferred embodiment of the present invention can be utilized by the common user in a simple and effortless manner with little or no training. After initial purchase or acquisition of the device 10, it would be utilized as indicated in FIGS. 1 through 4.
The method of utilizing the device 10 can be achieved by performing the following steps: procuring an instance of the device 10; recharging the batteries 23 using the power adapter 70; activating the device 10 by pressing the power button 32; placing items such as power cords 100, keys 105, cell phones 110, or the like within the inner space 48; closing the housing lid 24 about the hinge 31; programming a period of time during which the device 10 will remain locked shut by using the mode selection buttons 34, time period buttons 40, and numeric buttons 42; observing programmed locking time information on the display 28; pressing the cycle initiation button 36 to actuate the solenoid latching mechanism 25 to lock the housing lid 24 and begin the time cycle; restraining the user's access to the locked items 100, 105, 110 during the locking time; and, benefiting from forced restraint from tempting items 100, 105, 110 afforded by the present device 10.
Additional large items such as a refrigerator door, a drawer, and the like can be locked shut using the device 10 by performing the following steps: grasping the locking feature 52 and extending the locking cord 50 outwardly from the third aperture portion 53 of the housing base 22; wrapping the locking cord 50 around or through said large item; securing the locking feature portion 52 of the locking cord 50 into the second aperture 46 prior to closing and locking the housing lid 24; closing the housing lid 24; cinching the locking cord 50 tightly around said large item by allowing any excess locking cord 50 to be retracted into the recoil mechanism 54; and, securing the housing lid 24 and programming a locking time as described above.
The use of the device 10 allows the user to increase their self-control over distractions of daily life in a manner that is quick, easy, and effective.
The foregoing descriptions of specific embodiments of the present invention have been presented for purposes of illustration and description. They are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention and method of use to the precise forms disclosed. Obviously many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. The embodiment was chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application, and to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention and various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is understood that various omissions or substitutions of equivalents are contemplated as circumstance may suggest or render expedient, but is intended to cover the application or implementation without departing from the spirit or scope of the claims of the present invention.