Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR POSITIONING A COOKING INSTRUMENT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/002861
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention discloses an apparatus and method for flagging a location on an object with a light image so that when a line of sight of the object is later obstructed, the light flagged location is known available to be utilized. A light is projected onto a cooktop to flag a burner location in order to use that location for centering of a pot over on burner when the pot being placed on the burner obstructs the line of sight of the cook to the burner.

Inventors:
SCHULTERBRANDT TAKISHA (US)
Application Number:
US2019/040513
Publication Date:
January 07, 2021
Filing Date:
July 03, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
SCHULTERBRANDT TAKISHA (US)
International Classes:
F24B1/20; F21V33/00; F24C15/00
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A cooking instrument comprising:

a cooktop including a burner with a heat source, the burner including a center;

a light source distant from the cooktop, the light source projecting a directed image at the cooktop; and

wherein the image is projected at a location on the cooktop that corresponds to the center of the burner and the image aids a user in accurately positioning a cooking implement on the burner relative to a center of the burner even when the cooking implement blocks a line of sight to at least a portion of the burner during placement of the cooking implement on the burner.

2. The cooking instrument of claim 1, wherein the image directed at the cooktop is directed onto the cooktop.

3. The cooking instrument of claim 1, wherein the light source is supported by a housing.

4. The cooking instrument of claim 3, wherein the housing is connected to the cooking instrument.

5. The cooking instrument of claim 3, wherein the light source is pivotable relative to the housing to allow the user to adjust a direction of projection of the image.

6. The cooking instrument of claim 5, wherein a switch remote from the housing controls power to the light source.

7. The cooking instrument of claim 3, wherein the cooking instrument further incudes a light sensor; and wherein the light sensor senses a presence of the cooking implement in proximity to the burner and the image is projected when a cooking implement is sensed.

8. The cooking instrument of claim 1, wherein a laser is the source of the projected directed image.

9. The cooking instrument claim 3, wherein the image is projected onto the burner and centered on the burner.

10. The cooking instrument of claim 2, wherein the cooking instrument includes a plurality of light sources each directing an image onto the cooktop.

11. The cooking instrument of claim, 1 further including a switch and a timer, wherein when the switch is closed the timer energizes the light source for a predetermined period of time.

12. A cooking instrument positioner for positioning a cooking instrument on a cook top burner, the positioner comprising:

a base and a light source,

the base including a connector for connecting the positioner to a structure, the base further including a pivot member, the pivot member permitting the light source to pivot relative to the base and the structure;

the light source including a power source for powering a light beam that is projectable from the light source, a light emitter for emitting a light beam from the light source, and a switch for controlling power between the power source and the light source.

13. The positioner of claim 12, wherein the switch further includes a timer such that when the switch is closed, the light beam projects from the light source for a predetermined time period and then no longer projects.

14. The positioner of claim 12, further including a sensor for sensing a cooking movement, wherein when the sensor senses the cooking movement the sensor sends a signal to close a light source circuit to energize the light source.

15. The position of claim 12, further including a sensor for sensing a presence of the cooking instrument, and further including a timer such that when the presence of the cooking instrument is sensed, the switch is closed and the timer energizes light source to project the light beam for a predetermined time period.

16. A method of positioning a cooking instrument on a cooktop which includes at least one burner, the method comprising the steps of:

providing a directed light source;

providing a power source;

providing a control switch for controlling power between the power source and the directed light source;

securing the directed light source to a kitchen support;

energizing the directed light source by closing the control switch;

directing a light beam from the directed light source to project an image onto a portion of a burner of a cooktop;

positioning a cooking implement on the burner in the path of the light beam so that the image appears on the cooking instrument;

adjusting a position of the cooking instrument relative to the image until a predetermined relative position between the image and the cooking instrument is achieved.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the step of projecting an image onto a portion of a burner includes projecting the image onto a center of the burner.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the relative adjusting of a position of the cooking instrument includes a relative adjusting of a center of the cooking instrument to generally coincide with the image projected onto the cooking instrument.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the control switch is a sensor for sensing a presence of one of a user’s hand or a cooking instrument.

20. The method of claim 16, wherein the control switch is a sensor for sensing a cooking activity movement at the cooktop.

Description:
[0001] APPPARATUS AND METHOD FOR POSITIONING A COOKING

INSTRUMENT

[0002] BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] A typical cooking instrument such as a stove may include multiple burners on a cook top. The burners generate cooking heat and are positioned in various locations on or in the general plane of the cooktop. When placing a cooking implement (e.g., a pot or pan] on a burner, a user may want to ensure that the cooking instrument is perfectly centered on the burner or as close to perfect as possible. For example, perfect centering enables food to cook more evenly.

[0004] One of the challenges of such a centering process is that centering generally requires the user to be able to see the burner as the center of the pot is being adjusted to coincide with the center of the burner. This is especially true for large pots where the larger the pot, the harder to center. Unless the cooking instrument is transparent, as soon as any portion of the cooking instrument is placed over the burner, the user faces challenges seeing both the instrument and the burner simultaneously. Therefore, it becomes more difficult for the user to adjust or superimpose the center position of the implement to coincide with center of the burner and would have to guess as to the accuracy of the centering.

[0005] It would be beneficial to develop a mechanism, method, or system for aiding a user to more accurately center a cooking instrument on a burner.

Specifically, it would be beneficial to develop a system for flagging (e.g., visually] a center position of a burner and to visually project that flagged image onto the cooktop and/or to the cooking instrument so that (when placing a cooking instrument] the user can adjust the center position of the cooking instrument to the projected, flagged center position. [0006] SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

[0007] The present invention discloses an apparatus for projecting a directed light source toward and/or onto a location in order to flag such location. When the location is no longer visible the flagging light source continues to direct light and remains visible to tell the user where the location is. For example, a portion of a burner on a cooktop is flagged by directing a light image thereon. When a pot or cooking instrument is being placed on a burner, the pot inevitably blocks the cook’s view of the burner. The cook is then unable to judge whether the cooking instrument is placed centrally on the burner. However, since the light image projected on the pot flags the location of the burner, centering that image relative to the pot centers the pot on the burner.

[0008] BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] Figure 1 shows an image of the cooking instrument positioner of the present invention.

[0010] Figure 2 shows a cooktop and the apparatus of claim 1 supported from a microwave of the cooktop and directing a light toward a burner of the cooktop.

[0011] Figure 3A shows a first arrangement of the present invention of

Figure 1 with the control supported independently from the light source.

[0012] Figure 3B shows a second arrangement of the present invention of

Figure 1 with the control supported on the light source. [0013] Figure 4A shows an example electrical schematic of the apparatus of

Figure 1 including a proximity sensor module and a timer module.

[0014] Figure 4B shows an example electrical schematic of the apparatus of

Figure 1 including a module which combines a proximity sensor module and a timer module.

[0015] Figure 5A shows an example electrical schematic of the apparatus of

Figure 1 including a transistor and a resistor for boosting a laser signal and turning laser off when a signal is received.

[0016] Figure 5B shows an example electrical schematic of the apparatus of

Figure 1 including a transistor and a resistor for boosting a laser signal and turning laser on when a signal is received.

[0016] DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0017] Figures 1 and 2 show a cook top 5 including a burner 10 thereon and a center location 15 of the burner. A cooking instrument such as a pot is also shown at 20 with a pot center shown at 25. A light emitter 100 is shown supported from a kitchen structure 210 via a pivotable base 105. Pivot base 105 may include a connection element 200. Connection element 200 may include at least one of temporary connector (e.g., an adhesive or a magnet] or a permanent connector (e.g., a mechanical connection such as a (e.g. a rivet or threaded member]]. Other suitable connection means may be employed. Pivotable base 105 may also include a ball and socket or other pivotable element such as a bendable memory element (e.g., metal] that holds a selectable bent configuration and that allows light emitter 100 to supportably pivot relative to kitchen structure 210 so that a user may selectively direct a light stream 110 in a variably selectable direction R. Direction R includes any and all 3D polar positions about pivotal base 105 and kitchen structure 210 may be an appliance or a kitchen wall or a ceiling.

[0018] In the embodiment of Figure 1, light emitter 100 includes a housing

115. Inside housing 115 may be a power supply such as a battery 120, may include a control switch 130 actuated by a button 150, and may include a light emitter 140 and a lens 145 for focusing the light directed from light source 100. Battery 120 may be replaced with another source of power (e.g., hard wired power from a house wall socket or from cooktop 5).

[0019] Control switch 130 may be controlled by a button 150 on the light emitter, or a button 12 on cook top 5 when the system is integrated into cooktop 5. Furthermore, switch 130 could be triggered by a turn of the burner ignition knob 3. Specifically, control switch 130 which may be onboard light emitter 100 or may be on cooktop 5 or remote from the light emitter 100. Switch 130 of the positioner of the present invention may also include button 150 such that one button depression turns on light source 100 and release of button 150 stops light source 100. In another embodiment, a depression of button 150 closes switch 130 the light source 100 remains on after release. A subsequent button depression turns light source 100 off and it remains off after release.

[0020] Switch 130 may also include or be replaced by a voice activator or a proximity sensor. Figure 3A shows an embodiment of the present invention positioner including a housing 300. Housing 300 is attachable to a kitchen structure 210 (not shown] via connection element 200 and may include a proximity sensor module 310. Proximity sensor 310 may be for example, a capacitive sensor switch or an IR sensor switch (e.g., HC-SR505 mini infrared PIR motion body sensor module]. Module 310 controls the flow of power from a battery or hardwire to light source 100. For example, the motion of a users hand or motion of a pot might energize the light source 100. Housing 300 has a portion A which may contain the switch 130 (e.g., a proximity sensor 310], battery 120 and other control circuitry. A portion B of the positioner of Figure 3A may include pivot mechanism 105 that enables light source 100 to direct light beam 110 in a continuum of 3D polar directions. Portion A and portion B are shown connected, but may be separable in order to position light source 100 in sight of burner 10 while placing switch 130 in a convenient place for control by a user/cook.

[0021] Figure 3B shows an embodiment of the positioner of claim 1 which further includes a proximity sensor module 310 (e.g., an 1R sensor module) connected to and supported from light source 100. In this embodiment, a base 105 which (as discussed above) is connectable to kitchen structure 210 includes a pivot member 105 and both light source 100, sensor module 310, and battery 120 pivot together relative to kitchen structure 210. A housing such as a plastic housing 305 may secure each (i.e., light source 100, sensor module 310, and battery 120) together for pivoting by pivot member 105.

[0022] The duration of time in which light source 100 is energized may also be controlled by employing a timer as shown in Figure 4A between switch 130 and/or 310 and the light source 100 to control the supply of power therebetween. For example, a button 150 depression or sensed movement may energize light source 100 for a predetermined period (e.g., 30 seconds) to give a user sufficient time to accurately position cooking instrument 20 on burner 10.

[0023] In order for Proximity sensor 310 to be continusously ready to sense a cooking activity (such as a movement of a pot or a wave of a hand of a cook), it uses a small continuous amount of power. When both Switch 130 and sensor switch 310 are simultaneously employed, switch 130 may be employed as a master switch 405 which opens between battery 120 and sensor switch 310 to control power to censor switch 310. The ability of master switch 405 to cut off power to sensor switch 310 preserves battery power. [0024] As mentioned above, the light source controller may be dependent on a sensor which senses the presence of the hand of a cook or senses the presence of a cooking implement 20. Figure 4A shows a proximity sensor module 310. Proximity sensor electronic module 310 receives power from battery 120 and outputs a high output control signal when movement of an object (e.g., a pot or a hand) is detected. Timer relay module 410 (i.e., widely commercially available) receives an input control signal from proximity sensor module 310 to tell the normally open terminals 421 and 422 of timer 410 to close. The closed circuit allows the light source/laser circuit to be complete in order to energize laser light source 100 for a period of time (e.g., 10 seconds).

[0025] In another embodiment shown in Figure 4B, a single sensor delay module 440 includes the elements of both sensor 310 and timer 410 to control light source 100. The modules 310, 410, and 440 include electronic elements such as resistors, capacitors, diodes, transistors, and relay coils in addition to any proximity sensing elements.

[0026] Alternatively, the cooktop 5 or specifically the burner 10 may include a button 12 which when depressed by cooking instrument 20 sends a signal to power light source 100 at least for a predetermined period. Other types of proximity sensors besides 1R sensors, or capacitive sensors may be used to detect the presence of cooking implement 20 on the burner 10.

[0027] Light emitter 140 may be a diode or other light- emitting element and may include a lens 145 through which emitted light 110 passes before projecting the centering image 15. The light emitter 140 may be of any kind (e.g., laser) so long as the visual indication projected is effective to identify/locate/specify a particular position/location.

[0028] In use, a user places a cooking instrument 20 on burner 10. Because cooking instrument 20 may be significantly larger than burner 10, as soon as a cooking instrument 20 cuts off a portion of a user’s line of sight to burner 10, the user has diminished ability to center cooking instrument 20 on burner 10. This is so because the best way to ensure a relative centering between cooking instrument 20 and burner 10 is to view them simultaneously while positioning them centrally. Again, because in the process of placing cooking instrument 20, cooking instrument 20 obstructs a users line of sight to burner 10, the user is unable to see both simultaneously.

[0029] To over come this impediment, before placing cooking instrument 20, the user directs light stream 110 at burner center 15 (e.g., by triggering a proximity sensor with the wave of a hand). Light 110 projects a visual indication onto a center location of burner 10 (e.g., for 10 seconds then goes off). The visual indication may be a dot or some other shape or form that when projected onto the cooking instrument aids the user in positioning cooing instrument 20. Now when cooking instrument 20 is placed over burner 10, the visual indication appears on cooking instrument 20, but in the same location as the center of burner 10. The visual light indicator directed on the cooking instrument therefore represents an actual location of the center of burner 10. The user can then judge the actual center of cooking implement 20 and adjust the position of cooking instrument 20 (e.g., in a direction D) until the light representing the visually indicated burner center corresponds with the perceived center of cooking instrument 20. Alternatively, a marking or indicia representing a center of the cooking implement 20 may be placed thereon. In that case, the position of cooking instrument 20 would be adjusted until a location of the visual indicator coincides with the light indicia.

[0030] The circuit of the present invention may also employ a transistor 525

(e.g., ON semiconductor FDN327N mosfet, 2A, 20V, 0.04 ohm, 4.5V, 400mv) and a 90 or less ohm resistor 530. Specifically, such a transistor 525 may be employed as shown in Figures 5 in order to boost the signal of laser 100 when multiple lasers are being employed. Each laser 100 in the cooking instrument may be controlled by its own sensor 440 or set of sensors (e.g., proximity/motion sensor(s)), all lasers may be controlled by a single sensor, or subsets of laser(s) may be controlled by certain sensor(s).

[0031] Sensors (e.g., proximity or motion sensors) may be directed in a direction not only to detect movement at the cook top, but also to detect the presence of a cook (i.e., a person cooking) at the cooktop. A signal from a sensor detecting a cook can be made to be necessary before the pot centralizing lasers can be activated. Otherwise, the lasers can be independently controlled. In addition, the centralizer lasers can be normally on and deactivated when no signal is detected indicating that a cook is present at the cooktop.

[0032] Other stovetop features may be controlled by the proximity/motion sensors such as turning on a work light. For example, motion of a pot at the stove, a waved hand at the stove, or a cook approaching the stove may signal an energizing of one or more of the centering lasers and/or a turning on of some other cooktop feature such as a work light for enhancing visibility at the stove. Furthermore, certain cooktop features may be activated only when certain combination(s) of sensor signals are activated together or in the alternative. For example, the certain cooktop features (e.g., pot centering or work light) may be shut off if no movement of a cook is detected at the stove.

[0033] Other temperature, smoke, gas, or moisture sensors may be employed at the cook top to signal alarms. For example, a signal that the stove is on and that a moisture sensor at a burner senses moisture may generate an alarm indicating a pot has boiled over, but only if the proximity sensor detects no cooker at the cooktop. Otherwise, the alarm could sound regardless of the sensor detecting a presence of a cooker. A gas sensor could detect that someone is either present or absent from the cooktop and too much uncumbusted gas is at the stove top indicating that dangerous gasses may be present at the cooktop or in the kitchen. [0034] The arrangement of the basic elements may be varied. As discussed above the basic elements include a power source, a light source (e.g., a laser) and an electronic controller which controls the flow of power to the laser. The controller may include one or more of a switch, a proximity sensor, and a timer. The basic elements also include a pivot support for selectively and supportingly aiming the light source. If the positioner of the present invention is incorporated/integrated into an appliance, the light source or laser may be permanently positioned to direct a centering image so that no pivotal adjustment is necessary. Any of these basic elements may be rearranged. For example, the laser may be separated from the switch by hard wire or by wireless control. The switch may be supported on the light source or the switch may be remote from the light source.

[0035] Furthermore, the invention contemplates incorporation of one or more of the basic elements into a cooktop. For example, a microwave with a built in light source, switch control system, or power source as might be included by an appliance manufacturer.




 
Previous Patent: FITTING

Next Patent: ACOUSTIC ECHO CANCELLATION