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Title:
COMPARTMENTALIZED REFRIGERATOR
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/211821
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A compartmentalized refrigerator is an apparatus that stores food items at appropriate temperatures in separate, individually-climate-controlled compartments. The apparatus is also configured to consume a minimal amount of space within a kitchen or living space. The apparatus includes a frame, a plurality of storage compartments, a controller, and a control panel. The frame supports the various apparatus components relative to each other. The plurality of storage compartments allows for storage of food and other items in a thermally-controlled environment. The controller receives electrical signals from various sensors and inputs, performs logical operations to convert those input signals into electrical output signals, and sends those output signals to appropriate mechanisms and systems. The control panel allows the user to interact with the apparatus. The control panel may be a touchscreen interface, allowing for intuitive menu navigation and customization of various controls. This configuration allows the apparatus to provide several climate-controlled spaces.

Inventors:
PORTEROS DE LUZ, Veronica (185 Heritage Lake Blvd, De Winton, Alberta T0L 0X0, T0L0X0, CA)
Application Number:
IB2019/053704
Publication Date:
November 07, 2019
Filing Date:
May 06, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PORTEROS DE LUZ, Veronica (185 Heritage Lake Blvd, De Winton, Alberta T0L 0X0, T0L0X0, CA)
International Classes:
F25D11/02; F25D13/04; F25D25/00
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Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A compartmentalized refrigerator comprises:

a frame;

a plurality of storage compartments;

a controller;

a control panel;

each of the plurality of storage compartments comprises a drawer, a thermally-insulated receptacle, and a climate-control unit;

the thermally-insulated receptacle of each of the plurality of storage compartments being arranged into a cubby configuration by the frame;

the drawer being slidably mounted into the thermally-insulated receptacle; the climate-control unit being mounted within the thermally-insulated receptacle;

the climate-control unit of each of the plurality of storage compartments and the control panel being electronically connected to the controller;

the controller being mounted within the frame; and

the control panel being externally mounted to the frame.

2. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 1 comprises:

each of the plurality of storage compartments further comprises a locking mechanism;

the thermally-insulated receptacle comprises an opening rim; the locking mechanism being operatively integrated into the drawer and the opening rim, wherein the locking mechanism is used to selectively secure the drawer to the opening rim; and

the locking mechanism being electronically connected to the controller.

3. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 1 comprises:

the climate-control unit comprises a cooler and a temperature sensor; the temperature sensor being in thermal communication with the thermally-insulated receptacle; and the controller being electronically connected to the cooler and the temperature sensor.

4. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 1 comprises:

the drawer comprises a door and a shelving rack;

the shelving rack comprises a first rack end and a second rack end; the first rack end traversing into the thermally-insulated receptacle; and the door being connected adjacent to the second rack end.

5. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 4 comprises:

wherein the drawer and the thermally-insulated receptacle are arranged into a closed configuration;

the thermally-insulated receptacle comprises an opening rim; the shelving rack being positioned within the thermally-insulated receptacle; and

the door being hermetically pressed against the opening rim.

6. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 4 comprises:

wherein the drawer and the thermally-insulated receptacle are arranged into an open configuration;

the thermally-insulated receptacle comprises an opening rim; and the door being positioned offset from the opening rim.

7. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 4 comprises:

the shelving rack comprises a height-adjustment mechanism and a plurality of displaceable shelves;

the height-adjustment mechanism being integrated into the door; and the plurality of displaceable shelves being attached along the height- adjustment mechanism.

8. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 4 comprises: the drawer further comprises a handle; and

the handle being connected adjacent to the door, opposite to the shelving rack.

9. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 1 comprises:

a beverage dispenser;

the beverage dispenser being externally mounted to the frame; and the beverage dispenser being electronically connected to the controller.

10. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 1 comprises:

a wireless communication module; and

the wireless communication module being electronically connected to the controller.

11. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 1 comprises:

each of the plurality of storage compartments further comprises at least one inventory-tracking sensor;

the at least one inventory-tracking sensor being mounted within the thermally-insulated receptacle; and

the at least one inventory-tracking sensor of each of the plurality of storage compartments being electronically connected to the controller.

12. A compartmentalized refrigerator comprises:

a frame;

a plurality of storage compartments;

a controller;

a control panel;

each of the plurality of storage compartments comprises a drawer, a thermally-insulated receptacle, and a climate-control unit;

the climate-control unit comprises a cooler and a temperature sensor; the drawer comprises a door and a shelving rack; the shelving rack comprises a first rack end and a second rack end;

the thermally-insulated receptacle of each of the plurality of storage compartments being arranged into a cubby configuration by the frame;

the drawer being slidably mounted into the thermally-insulated receptacle; the climate-control unit being mounted within the thermally-insulated receptacle;

the climate-control unit of each of the plurality of storage compartments and the control panel being electronically connected to the controller;

the controller being mounted within the frame;

the control panel being externally mounted to the frame;

the temperature sensor being in thermal communication with the thermally-insulated receptacle;

the controller being electronically connected to the cooler and the temperature sensor;

the first rack end traversing into the thermally-insulated receptacle; and the door being connected adjacent to the second rack end.

13. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 12 comprises:

each of the plurality of storage compartments further comprises a locking mechanism;

the thermally-insulated receptacle comprises an opening rim; the locking mechanism being operatively integrated into the drawer and the opening rim, wherein the locking mechanism is used to selectively secure the drawer to the opening rim; and

the locking mechanism being electronically connected to the controller.

14. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 12 comprises:

wherein the drawer and the thermally-insulated receptacle are arranged into a closed configuration;

the thermally-insulated receptacle comprises an opening rim; the shelving rack being positioned within the thermally-insulated receptacle; and

the door being hermetically pressed against the opening rim.

15. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 12 comprises:

wherein the drawer and the thermally-insulated receptacle are arranged into an open configuration;

the thermally-insulated receptacle comprises an opening rim; and the door being positioned offset from the opening rim.

16. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 12 comprises:

the shelving rack comprises a height-adjustment mechanism and a plurality of displaceable shelves;

the height-adjustment mechanism being integrated into the door; and the plurality of displaceable shelves being attached along the height- adjustment mechanism.

17. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 12 comprises:

the drawer further comprises a handle; and

the handle being connected adjacent to the door, opposite to the shelving rack.

18. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 12 comprises:

a beverage dispenser;

the beverage dispenser being externally mounted to the frame; and the beverage dispenser being electronically connected to the controller.

19. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 12 comprises:

a wireless communication module; and

the wireless communication module being electronically connected to the controller.

20. The compartmentalized refrigerator as claimed in claim 12 comprises:

each of the plurality of storage compartments further comprises at least one inventory-tracking sensor;

the at least one inventory-tracking sensor being mounted within the thermally-insulated receptacle; and

the at least one inventory-tracking sensor of each of the plurality of storage compartments being electronically connected to the controller.

Description:
Compartmentalized Refrigerator

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to appliances and electronic devices. More specifically, the present invention relates to new and improved refrigeration systems and devices.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Food preservation is essential in order to allow humans to survive through winters and famines, and good preservation allows people to devote their energy to productive tasks rather than to constantly collecting food. The most common mechanism for protecting food from spoiling is by cooling the food to a temperature that slows the inevitable deterioration of helpful macronutrients, micronutrients, and vitamins. Thus, refrigeration systems have found themselves becoming a staple of society over thousands of years. Without refrigeration systems, safely preserving food for later consumption or providing aid to people in remote locations would be impossible. Today, common refrigeration systems found in most households and many commercial places are refrigerators. Traditionally, refrigerators provide a large body of enclosed storage space which is electrically cooled. Refrigeration systems monitor and maintain the temperature of the enclosed space, thus lengthening the lifespan of various contained foods. Over time, refrigerators have been improved and upgraded to increase their functionality, such as being able to produce ice or provide cold water.

However, most currently available refrigerators provide a structure which is not suitable for most locations. For example, most refrigerators provide doors which swing around hinges on the lateral edges of the refrigerators. This refrigerator structure requires ample space in front of the refrigerator in order to allow users to comfortably access the inside of the refrigerators. The required space is either entirely unavailable in many locations, such as within trailers and small residences, or highly inconvenient to provide, such as in a studio apartment, often resulting in refrigerator doors colliding with adjacent walls, furniture, or kitchen drawers. In addition, most currently available refrigerators provide a number of shelves inside the refrigerator upon which items can be placed. Most of the shelves tend to be static, which results in complications including difficulty reaching the back of the shelves or forgetting about items placed on the back of the shelves as the items can become hidden from view. Furthermore, different food items require different levels of refrigeration. For example, ice cream must be stored at a temperature that prevents it from melting, but that temperature would be too cold for milk or fruit, which would freeze and become inedible. What is needed is a refrigerator structure that minimizes the amount of space required for usage. Further desirable is a device with shelves that allow for easy access to the back of the refrigerator. Further desirable is a device which allows for independent thermal control over different areas within the refrigerator.

The present invention addresses these issues. The compartmentalized refrigerator provides a structure which overcomes the limitations of currently available refrigerators. The present invention provides a structure with a plurality of compartments which are actuated drawer-style. Each compartment is operated independently from the other compartments, allowing users to store foods within an appropriately-cooled

compartment. The present invention is energy efficient, allowing users to only open the door which is needed without having to expose every item within the present invention to warmer external air. The present invention allows users to more easily organize items and helps prevent food from being wasted by allowing users to clearly see what is stored. The present invention can be fitted to be used in a variety of cooling applications. Users are less limited by space constraints because sliding individual compartments of the present invention do not require excessive space to open. In the preferred embodiment, specific settings for the present invention can be customized depending on the application.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front-right perspective view of the present invention. FIG. 2 is a front-right perspective view of the present invention without the drawers.

FIG. 3 is a front-left perspective view of the present invention with an open drawer.

FIG. 4 is a right view of the drawer of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a detailed view about circle 5 of FIG. 4 of the locking mechanism.

FIG. 6 is a schematic view representing the electronic connections through the controller.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

All illustrations of the drawings are for the purpose of describing selected versions of the present invention and are not intended to limit the scope of the present invention.

The present invention is a compartmentalized refrigerator that is used to store food items at appropriate temperatures in separate, individually-climate-controlled compartments. The present invention is also configured to consume a minimal amount of space within a kitchen or living space. The present invention comprises a frame 1, a plurality of storage compartments 2, a controller 18, and a control panel 19. The frame 1 is a structure, as seen in FIG. 1, that supports the plurality of storage compartments 2, the controller 18, and the control panel 19 relative to each other. The plurality of storage compartments 2 is a set of containers that allow for storage of food and other items in a thermally-controlled environment. The controller 18 is a unit which receives electronic signals from various sensors and inputs, performs pre-programmed logical operations to convert those electronic input signals into electronic output signals, and sends those output signals to appropriate mechanisms and systems within the present invention. The control panel 19 is a series of inputs that allow the user to interact with the present invention. In the preferred embodiment, the control panel 19 is a touchscreen interface, thus allowing for intuitive menu navigation and customization of various controls.

The general configuration of the aforementioned components allows the present invention to efficiently and effectively provide several climate-controlled spaces, particularly for storage and preservation of food items. Each of the plurality of storage compartments 2 comprises a drawer 3, a thermally-insulated receptacle 11, and a climate- control unit 13. The drawer 3 is a rigid container that supports each of the plurality of storage compartments 2 relative to the frame 1, as well as allowing for separation and arrangement of items within each of the plurality of storage compartments 2, as seen in FIG. 4. The thermally-insulated receptacle 11 is the series of temperature-resistant materials, layers, or surfaces that prevent lower temperatures from seeping out of the drawer 3, thus preventing inefficient cooling. The climate-control unit 13 is an electrical unit that controls the internal temperature of each of the plurality of storage

compartments 2. The thermally-insulated receptacle 11 of each of the plurality of storage compartments 2 is arranged into a cubby configuration by the frame 1. Thus, the plurality of storage compartments 2 spans across the full width and height of the frame 1, ensuring optimal utilization of space within the frame 1. In addition, an access opening for the thermally-insulated receptacle 11 of each of the plurality of storage compartments 2 is coplanar to each other on a face of the frame 1. The drawer 3 is slidably mounted into the thermally-insulated receptacle 11. While most refrigerators actuate on a hinge, thus consuming an excessive amount of space, this arrangement allows the drawer 3 to open and close without hinging by respectively sliding out of and into the thermally-insulated receptacle 11, thus improving the space efficiency of the present invention. The climate- control unit 13 is mounted within the thermally-insulated receptacle 11. In this configuration, the climate-control unit 13 is positioned optimally for influencing the temperature of the thermally-insulated receptacle 11. The climate-control unit 13 of each of the plurality of storage compartments 2 and the control panel 19 are electronically connected to the controller 18. Such an arrangement allows the controller 18 to interact with the climate-control unit 13, increasing or decreasing cold output into the thermally- insulated receptacle 11 as necessary. Furthermore, the electronic connection between the control panel 19 and the controller 18 allows a user to input a desired temperature for the thermally-insulated receptacle 11. The controller 18 is mounted within the frame 1. Thus, the controller 18 is positioned in appropriate proximity to the plurality of storage compartments 2. The control panel 19 is externally mounted to the frame 1. This arrangement provides the user with easy access to the control panel 19 and

simultaneously allows the control panel 19 to easily communicate with the controller 18. Often, refrigerators shared by multiple people or parties are utilized

inappropriately, as is often the case with, for example, children obtaining ice cream at night. The present invention therefore benefits from incorporating a mechanism for providing selective access to the plurality of storage compartments 2. To this end, each of the plurality of storage compartments 2 further comprises a locking mechanism 16. The locking mechanism 16 is a set of features which prevent the related storage compartment of the plurality of storage compartments 2 from opening without proper user access. The thermally-insulated receptacle 11 comprises an opening rim 12. The opening rim 12, as seen in FIG. 2, is the structural portion of the thermally-insulated receptacle 11 that delineated the access opening for the thermally-insulated receptacle 11. The locking mechanism 16 is operatively integrated into the drawer 3 and the opening rim 12, wherein the locking mechanism 16 is used to selectively secure the drawer 3 to the opening rim 12. Such an arrangement allows the drawer 3 to slide into and out from the thermally-insulated receptacle 11 only when the locking mechanism 16 is not engaged. The locking mechanism 16 is electronically connected to the controller 18. This arrangement allows the controller 18, and therefore the control panel 19, to interact with the locking mechanism 16, determining presets related to time or user authentication as desired.

In order to interact appropriately with the thermally- insulated receptacle 11, the climate-control unit 13 must be equipped to receive and react to the ambient temperature within the climate-control unit 13. To this end, the climate-control unit 13 comprises a cooler 14 and a temperature sensor 15, as seen in FIG. 6. The cooler 14 is a unit which radiates coldness into the climate-control unit 13. The temperature sensor 15 is an electrical unit which detects the ambient temperature as a temperature reading and consequently generates electrical signals in order to communicate the temperature reading. The temperature sensor 15 is in thermal communication with the thermally- insulated receptacle 11. In this arrangement, the temperature sensor 15 is positioned to accurately measure temperature data from the thermally-insulated receptacle 11. The controller 18 is electronically connected to the cooler 14 and the temperature sensor 15. Thus, the temperature data collected by the temperature sensor 15 is sent to the controller 18, which determines the appropriate output for the cooler 14 and relays the resulting electrical signal to the cooler 14. This arrangement allows the cooler 14 to respond to fluctuations in the temperature of the thermally-insulated receptacle 11 that may result from general use of the thermally- insulated receptacle 11.

The present invention must be arranged to accommodate large numbers of items by taking advantage of all available volume within each thermally-insulated receptacle 11. To this end, the drawer 3 comprises a door 4 and a shelving rack 5. The door 4 is a surface which the user interacts with to operate the drawer 3. The shelving rack 5 is a mounting unit that allows for the addition of different types of shelves or item-supporting platforms. The shelving rack 5 comprises a first rack end 6 and a second rack end 7. The first rack end 6 is a series of protrusions opposite the second rack end 7 that allows for connection of various shelving units. The first rack end 6 traverses into the thermally- insulated receptacle 11, as seen in FIG. 3. In this way, the first rack end 6 is positioned optimally for orientation of shelving within the thermally-insulated receptacle 11. The door 4 is connected adjacent to the second rack end 7. Thus, the first rack end 6 extends into the thermally-insulated receptacle 11 opposite the door 4 and the second rack end 7.

The drawer 3 and the thermally-insulated receptacle 11 may be configured relative to each other in a closed configuration, wherein the drawer 3 contacts the thermally-insulated receptacle 11, or an open configuration, wherein the drawer 3 is not in contact with the thermally-insulated receptacle 11. When the drawer 3 and the thermally-insulated receptacle 11 are arranged into a closed configuration, cold air cannot escape the thermally-insulated receptacle 11 and contained items cannot be accessed. The shelving rack 5 is positioned within the thermally-insulated receptacle 11, as seen in FIG. 4. This arrangement allows the shelving rack 5 to subsequently orient shelves within the thermally-insulated receptacle 11. The door 4 is hermetically pressed against the opening rim 12. Such an arrangement ensures that cold air cannot exit the thermally-insulated receptacle 11. In the open configuration, the user may reach into the storage compartment of the plurality of storage compartments 2 and claim contained items within. In the open configuration, the door 4 is positioned offset from the opening rim 12. This arrangement allows the user to access items contained within the thermally-insulated receptacle 11.

For optimal arrangement of items within the plurality of storage compartments 2, the present invention must be able to optimize the volume within each of the plurality of storage compartments 2. To this end, the shelving rack 5 comprises a height-adjustment mechanism 8 and a plurality of displaceable shelves 9. The height-adjustment mechanism 8 is preferably a mount with notches and features that allow for adjustment of the vertical positioning of the plurality of displaceable shelves 9. The plurality of displaceable shelves 9 is preferably a set of rectangular extrusions that provide support for items within the thermally-insulated receptacle 11. The height-adjustment mechanism 8 is integrated into the door 4, as seen in FIG. 5. Thus, the height- adjustment mechanism 8 is optimally positioned for supporting and orienting the plurality of displaceable shelves 9. The plurality of displaceable shelves 9 is attached along the height-adjustment mechanism 8. In this way, the plurality of displaceable shelves 9 is arranged within the thermally-insulated receptacle 11.

The drawer 3 may be difficult to operate with only the door 4 to grasp. To address this concern, the drawer 3 further comprises a handle 10, as seen in FIG. 1. The handle 10 is a preferably curved extrusion that provides a more convenient mechanism for the user to grasp the door 4 for subsequent operation. The handle 10 is connected adjacent to the door 4, opposite to the shelving rack 5. This arrangement positions the handle 10 appropriately for a user to grasp.

Many modern refrigerators utilize their own cooling properties to provide additional services to the user. To this end, the present invention comprises a beverage dispenser 20. The beverage dispenser 20, as seen in FIG. 1, is a unit that stores water and ice for dispensation by the user at the user’s discretion. The beverage dispenser 20 is externally mounted to the frame 1. In this arrangement, the beverage dispenser 20 is made readily available to the user. The beverage dispenser 20 is electronically connected to the controller 18. Thus, the user may dispense water or ice from the beverage dispenser 20 by interacting with corresponding controls on the control panel 19, thereby sending appropriate signals through the controller 18 to open or shut the beverage dispenser 20.

In an exemplary embodiment, the present invention allows the user to interact with the controller 18 remotely from use of a software application. To this end, the present invention comprises a wireless communication module 21. The wireless communication module 21, as seen in FIG. 6, is an electrical unit that enables connection of the controller 18 to the Internet, where the user may access controls through any of a variety of personal computing (PC) devices. The wireless communication module 21 is electronically connected to the controller 18. Such a connection enables the controller 18 to interact with, and respond to, signals and commands from users on the Internet. This allows the user to determine various settings and controls remotely through the use of connected PC devices.

Modern refrigerators are often lacking in their ability to provide information about contained items. To this end, each of the plurality of storage compartments 2 further comprises at least one inventory-tracking sensor 17. The at least one inventory tracking sensor 17, as seen in FIG. 6, is series of electrical units that determines the presence or absence of various refrigerator items. In an exemplary embodiment, the at least one inventory-tracking sensor 17 is an item barcode scanner. In another exemplary embodiment, the at least one inventory-tracking sensor 17 includes at least one camera, which records visual data regarding stored items. This arrangement allows the user to scan items and store the related data within the controller 18 for subsequent access. The at least one inventory-tracking sensor 17 is mounted within the thermally-insulated receptacle 11. In this way, the at least one inventory- tracking sensor 17 is positioned to record contained items. The at least one inventory-tracking sensor 17 of each of the plurality of storage compartments 2 is electronically connected to the controller 18. In this way, the controller 18 can store collected data for subsequent access by the user.

In the preferred usage of the present invention the user acquires and installs the present invention in a kitchen or other living space. The user arranges the plurality of displaceable shelves 9 against the height-adjustment mechanism 8. The user then arranges the door 4 in the closed configuration. Subsequently, the user may interact with the control panel 19 to determine the various desired temperature settings for each storage compartment of the plurality of storage compartments 2. The user may further decide upon appropriate access controls for use by the locking mechanism 16. When the cooler 14 has effectively cooled the thermally-insulated receptacle 11, the user may load items into the thermally-insulated receptacle 11, thus slowing the decay or deterioration of stored items.

In an exemplary embodiment, the plurality of storage compartments 2 further comprises a plurality of first compartments, a plurality of second compartments, and at least one third compartment. The plurality of first compartments cools appropriately to allow for refrigeration, typically set to a temperature of approximately 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The plurality of first compartments is positioned generally above the plurality of second compartments, adjacent to the at least one third compartment. The plurality of second compartments cools appropriately to allow for freezing of contained items, typically set to a temperature of approximately zero degrees Fahrenheit. The at least one third compartment is a series of storage spaces that is positioned anywhere adjacent to the plurality of first compartments, preferably beneath the control panel 19. This arrangement of the plurality of first compartments, the plurality of second compartments, and the at least one third compartment results in a convenient and intuitive refrigerator layout.

In a further exemplary embodiment, the locking mechanism 16 allows users to prevent unauthorized access to the plurality of storage compartments 2 at specific time periods in pre-determined schedules. The locking mechanism 16 further allows users to grant permission to chosen users so only authorized users can access the present invention. The present invention further comprises an inventory management system which keeps track of the quantity and relative age of stored items inside. The inventory management system comprises a plurality of sensors and/or monitoring devices which record the quantity and age of stored items. The inventory management system can further notify the users of the lack of or decreasing number of items through a software application. In this embodiment, users can remotely control the plurality of storage compartments 2 and monitor item inventory through the application, which may be installed on a variety of electronic devices. The software application includes, but is not limited to, desktop applications, mobile applications, cloud applications, and more. The software application may further be accessed through third-party software in the form of websites, add-ons, widgets, etc.

Although the invention has been explained in relation to its preferred

embodiment, it is to be understood that many other possible modifications and variations can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as hereinafter claimed.