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Title:
HYGIENIC FINGER PROTECTOR
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2011/146693
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An inexpensive, practical hygienic finger protector is provided, which includes a tubular sheath having a proximal open end and a distal closed end. The open end is adapted to receive a human finger to approximately the first joint with the tip of the finger, when inserted, abutting the closed end. The finger protector further includes a knob like protuberance imbedded into the closed end of the sheath, disposed below the downward-facing fingertip of the inserted finger. The finger protector guards against contamination by dirt or microorganisms, while allowing the wearer to input data or signatures into public data input devices such as keypads or s keypads, card readers, and signature recorders. Optionally aspects, including a keychain attachment, embedded data storage, and aesthetic cut-outs are presented.

Inventors:
ROBB, Stephen (212 South Parawan Street, Henderson, NV, 89015, US)
Application Number:
US2011/037114
Publication Date:
November 24, 2011
Filing Date:
May 19, 2011
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
ROBB, Stephen (212 South Parawan Street, Henderson, NV, 89015, US)
International Classes:
D05B91/04
Foreign References:
US1160522A
US20070245454A1
US20090078478A1
US20080005822A1
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MOY, Jeffrey, D. (Weiss & Moy, P.C.4204 N. Brown Avenu, Scottsdale Arizona, 85251, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
I Claim:

1. A protector for a fingertip, comprising: a tubular sheath sized to accommodate the fingertip; configured to fit over the fingertip to approximately the first joint of a finger; configured with a closed distal end; and configured with a proximal open end adapted with a finger-receiving opening configured and sized to allow the insertion of the fingertip; and a knob-like protuberance disposed within said distal end of said sheath and configured to allow a focus of pressure of the fingertip.

2. The protector for a fingertip as recited in

Claim 1, wherein said closed distal end is configured with a cutout configured to allow at least a portion of a fingernail of the inserted finger to be viewed.

3. The protector for a fingertip as recited in

Claim 2 , wherein said cutout is finger-nail shaped.

4. The protector for a fingertip as recited in

Claim 3, wherein the edge of said cutout comprises a

rounded rim.

5. The protector for a fingertip as recited in

Claim 1, wherein said closed distal end is configured with a contour generally corresponding to the shape of the end of the fingertip.

6. The protector for a fingertip as recited in

Claim 1, wherein said closed distal end is generally cone- shaped .

7. The protector for a fingertip as recited in

Claim 1, wherein said sheath is imprinted with an indicium.

8. The protector for a fingertip as recited in

Claim 7, wherein said indicium is a logo.

9. The protector for a fingertip as recited in

Claim 1, wherein said sheath is formed of a flexible rubber-like material.

10. The protector for a fingertip as recited in Claim 9, wherein said protuberance is formed integrally with said sheath.

11. The protector for a fingertip as recited in

Claim 9, wherein said protuberance is formed of a hardened plastic material.

12. The protector for a fingertip as recited in

Claim 1, wherein said protuberance comprises an operable electromagnetic pen.

13. The protector for a fingertip as recited in

Claim 1, wherein said protuberance is embedded within said sheath .

14. The protector for a fingertip as recited in

Claim 1, wherein said proximal open end of said sheath comprises a circumferential ridge.

15. A protector for a fingertip, comprising: a tubular sheath sized to accommodate the fingertip; configured to fit over the fingertip to approximately the first joint of a finger; configured with a closed distal end configured with a contour generally corresponding to the shape of the end of the fingertip; configured with a proximal open end; and formed of a flexible rubber-like material that can receive printing of an indicium; wherein said proximal open end is adapted with a finger-receiving opening configured, is sized to allow the insertion of the fingertip, and is configured with a circumferential ridge; and a knob-like protuberance embedded within said distal end of said sheath and configured to allow a focus of pressure of the fingertip.

16. The protector for a fingertip as recited in

Claim 15, wherein said closed distal end is configured with a cutout configured to allow at least a portion of a fingernail of the inserted finger to be viewed.

17. A method for using a protector for a fingertip, comprising: obtaining a fingertip protector; inserting the tip of a finger into said fingertip protector to approximately the length of the first joint of the finger; positioning a hardened protuberance disposed on the distal end of said fingertip protector upon a digital input device; and using said protuberance to contact said digital input device to input data.

18. The method for using a protector for a fingertip, as recited in Claim 17, further comprising placing said fingertip protector on a key ring by inserting the key ring into a provided aperture configured to receive the key ring .

19. The method for using a protector for a fingertip, as recited in Claim 17, wherein said fingertip protector is imprinted with indicium.

20. The method for using a protector for a fingertip, as recited in Claim 17, wherein said fingertip protector is configured with a cutout adapted to allow at least a portion of a fingernail of the finger to be viewed.

Description:
Hygienic Finger Protector

Field of the Invention

[0001] The present invention relates generally to hygienic products, and more particularly, to an inexpensive finger protection device usable on public keypads and the like.

Background Information

[0002] Store customers are routinely required to interact with public data input devices. These public data input devices include keypads, card readers, and signature capture devices used by customers at checkout counters as they pay for merchandise and services. Public data input devices also include airline check-in kiosks, bank and ATM keypads, and the like where transactions are initiated, executed, and/or completed.

[0003] The practicality and usability of the public data input devices has led to great popularity, with large numbers of customers being required to touch the same relatively small contact surfaces throughout the day. The cleanliness of these contact surfaces thus suffers.

Customers inadvertently transfer dirt and illness-causing microorganisms to the public data input devices simply by using them for their intended purpose.

[0004] The fingers of the customers may be particularly unsanitary at the end of a shopping trip due to the

multitude of diverse surfaces touched as items for purchase are selected. Customers shopping in the garden section may have dirt from plants or chemicals from fertilizer

remaining on their hands . The hands of customers buying raw meat may come into contact with dripping juices containing dangerous- (and increasingly antibiotic-resistant)

Campylobacter, salmonella, or other bacteria. Other

customers may have a cold or other virus or may be

supervising children who do. Other customers may have grease or oil on their hands from their places of business.

[0005] Currently there is no practical means or method to protect one customer from the dirt and microorganisms left on the public data input devices by the previous customers. Particularly when customers have a nick or cut on their hands, they are vulnerable to infection from common

bacteria and viruses, as well as more alarming HIV,

Hepatitis, herpes, blood-borne pathogens, or other

infectious diseases. Placing gloves on the hand could protect the hand, but gloves are bulky, awkward, and inconvenient. Thus a need exists for a convenient

protective device.

[0006] Further, the public data input devices may be

impaired or damaged by the dirt from the customers' hands, thus necessitating repair. For example, dirt under a key of a keypad may cause that number or letter to become

unfunctional . Thus a device to protect the signature capture devices, keypads, and other digital input devices is advantageous.

[0007] Additionally, many companies give inexpensive

promotional items to clients or tradeshow attendees to advertise their services or products. These items may be marked with logos, slogans, the company name, or other brand-image promoting graphics. Though numerous items are available, current inexpensive promotional items have been used repetitively, thus diminishing their impact and desirability. A new inexpensive, functional item that can be marked with promotional graphics is beneficial.

[0008] Accordingly, there is an established need for a

practical, convenient hygienic finger protector capable of effectively protecting customers' fingers from

microorganisms and dirt and capable of protecting public data input devices from dirt from fingers, yet inexpensive enough to be provided complimentarily by companies as a advertising or promotional item.

Summary of the Invention

[0009] The present invention is directed to an inexpensive, practical hygienic finger protector for protecting against contamination by dirt or microorganisms, while allowing the wearer to input data or a signature into public data input devices such as keypads, ATM PIN pads, and signature capture devices.

[0010] The hygienic finger protector preferably includes a flexible, rubber-like, tubular sheath having a proximal open end and a distal closed end. The open end is adapted to receive a human finger. The finger protector is designed to reach to approximately the first finger joint.

[0011] The finger protector further includes a knob-like protuberance imbedded into the closed end of the sheath, disposed below the downward-facing fingertip of the

inserted finger. The protuberance allows a user to input his or her signature into a digital signature capture device, such as used when signing for payment by a credit card of purchases at a retail store. [0012] Optional aspects, including a keychain attachment, embedded data storage, and aesthetic cut-outs are

presented.

[0013] An object of the present invention is to provide a hygienic finger protector that protects a finger from unsanitary conditions .

[0014] A further object of the present invention is to

provide a hygienic finger protector that is practical to use for inputting a digital signature in a signature capture device.

[0015] Another object of the present invention is to

provide a hygienic finger protector that provides a

suitable carrier for a logo or other graphic.

[0016] An additional object of the present invention is to provide a hygienic finger protector that can be customized.

[0017] These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more readily apparent from the attached drawings and from the detailed

description of the preferred embodiments, which follow. Brief Description of the Drawings

[0018] The preferred embodiments of the invention will

hereinafter be described in conjunction with the appended drawings, provided to illustrate and not to limit the invention, where like designations denote like elements, and in which:

[0019] FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a first

embodiment of the hygienic finger protector of the present invention as utilized on an index finger of a wearer;

[0020] FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing a first

embodiment of the hygienic finger protector of the present invention;

[0021] FIG. 3 is a cut view taken along the lines 3-3 of

FIG. 2, showing a first embodiment of the hygienic finger protector of the present invention;

[0022] FIG. 4 is a side view showing a second embodiment of the hygienic finger protector of the present invention;

[0023] FIG. 5 is a front view showing a second embodiment of the hygienic finger protector of the present invention;

[0024] FIG. 6 is a cut view taken along the lines 6-6 of

FIG. 5, showing a second embodiment of the hygienic finger protector of the present invention; [0025] FIG. 7 is a front view showing a third embodiment of the hygienic finger protector of the present invention;

[0026] FIG. 8 is a side view showing a fourth embodiment of the hygienic finger protector of the present invention;

[0027] FIG. 9 is a side view showing a fifth embodiment of the hygienic finger protector of the present invention;

[0028] FIG. 10 is a side perspective view showing a sixth preferred embodiment of the hygienic finger protector of the present invention;

[0029] FIG. 11 is a side perspective view showing the sixth preferred embodiment of the hygienic finger protector of the present invention;

[0030] FIG. 12 is an end perspective view showing the sixth preferred embodiment of the hygienic finger protector of the present invention;

[0031] FIG. 13 is a rear side perspective view showing the sixth preferred embodiment of the hygienic finger protector of the present invention; and

[0032] FIG. 14 is a side perspective view showing the

seventh embodiment of the hygienic finger protector of the present invention. [0033] Like reference numerals refer to like parts

throughout the several views of the drawings.

Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments

[0034] - Shown throughout the figures, the present invention is directed toward a hygienic finger protector that is easily and quickly donned when needed for shielding the finger from dirt, contamination, and microorganisms, yet allows the wearer to directly sign a signature capture device to input a digital signature, as well as to input data into keypads, number pads, PIN pads, and the like. Further, the hygienic finger protector is inexpensive and easily imprintable, allowing usage as a carrier for logos, slogans, the company name, or other brand-image promoting graphics. Additionally, the hygienic finger protector of the present invention permits incorporation of one or more cutouts of any of a variety of shapes, permitting further customization .

[0035] Seven embodiments are presented, a first embodiment,

(FIG. 1 to FIG. 3) , a second embodiment illustrating a fingernail-shaped cutout 27 (FIG. 4 to FIG. 6) , a third embodiment illustrating a customized cutout 28 (FIG. 7) , a fourth embodiment illustrating an indicium (such as an imprinted logo or brand-image promoting graphic 33) and a keychain attachment 30 (FIG. 8), a fifth embodiment

illustrating an embedded data storage device 35 (FIG. 9), a contoured sixth preferred embodiment, (FIG. 10 to FIG. 13), a contoured seventh embodiment with a fingernail-shaped cutout 27 (FIG. 14) .

[0036] Referring now to FIG. 1, a hygienic finger

protector, shown generally as reference number 10, is illustrated in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention, as being utilized on a wearer's index finger for directly signing a signature capture device 11 or for inputting data into the number Pad 12. As shown, the hygienic finger protector 10 comprises a tubular sheath 20 and a knob-like protuberance 25 embedded within the tubular sheath 20.

[0037] The tubular sheath 20 has a proximal open end 21, has a distal closed end 29, and has a sheath wall 23 of an adequate thickness to retain embedded knob-like

protuberance 25. The distal closed end 29 is cone-shaped with a somewhat elongated tube extending to open end 21. The tubular sheath 20 is sized and configured to receive a human finger (generally an index finger) . When inserted, the fingertip generally abuts the closed end 29. The proximal open end 21 is configured with a finger-receiving opening sized to allow a fingertip to be inserted.

[0038] The hygienic finger protector may be offered in

multiple sizes to accommodate fingers of differing sizes (such as, small, medium, and large), with the tubular sheath 20 varying both in length and in diameter of the open end 21. Preferably the tubular sheath 20 is configured to reach to approximately the first joint of the finger, though variations in length are within the scope of the invention.

[0039] The sheath wall 23 is preferably formed of a natural or man-made rubber-like material. The rubber-like material is thicker than commonly available latex finger cots, thereby increasing strength and durability. Also, the rubber-like material is sufficiently thick (FIG. 2, FIG. 3) to retain the embedded knob-like protuberance 25 within the sheath wall 23. Optionally, the sheath wall 23 may be formed of a rigid plastic, flexible plastic, or a

combination of rigid plastic and flexible plastic. For example, the distal end may be formed of a rigid plastic with the protuberance 25 formed unitarily with the distal end, with a flexible plastic proximal portion non-removably joined to the rigid plastic distal portion. Or,

alternatively, the entire sheath wall 23 could be formed integrally with the protuberance 25 of a rigid plastic. Preferably the sheath, open end 21, and closed end 29 are formed of flexible, rubber-like material with the

protuberance 25 formed of a more rigid plastic.

[0040] The knob-like protuberance 25 is preferably a

spheroidal or ovoidal bead of plastic, with the plastic having a sufficient rigidity to impress a signature into a signature capture device. The protuberance 25 is adapted to be pressed against the signature capture device to create a focus of pressure satisfactory to input the signature.

Optionally, the protuberance 25 may be formed of metal, may be magnetized, or have the operative properties of an electromagnetic pen meeting the standard specifications for electromagnetic pens used with electronic signature pad sensors to create a digital signature.

[0041] The protuberance 25 is located in a downward-facing position toward the closed end 29, situated under the fingertip of the wearer for convenience of inputting a signature. Protuberance 25 may be approximately 1/8 to 3/8 inches in diameter, as illustrated. During manufacture the knob-like protuberance 25 may be placed and positioned in the viscous rubber-like material before hardening.

[0042] Referring now to FIG. 4 to FIG. 6, the second

embodiment of the hygienic finger protector 10 provides a fingernail-shaped cutout 27 configured to allow the nail of the wearer to be displayed through cutout 27 and configured to accommodate longer nails, artificial nail tips, fashion nails, nail enhancements, or nail extensions. The cutout 27 allows the display of nail polish and nail art designs.

[0043] The third embodiment of FIG. 7 illustrates a

customized cutout 28. The customized cutout 28 provides a high degree of adaptability to current trends and marketing needs, allowing customization for particular companies (via logos or other brand-image promoting shapes) and/or for timely retail sales (seasonal shapes) .

[0044] Cutout 27 and cutout 28 may be cut or trimmed after fabrication of sheath 20 or sheath 20 may be molded with cutout 27, 28 formed unitarily.

[0045] The fourth embodiment illustrates the utilization of printing to customize the hygienic finger protector 10. The sheath 20 is imprinted with indicium or indicia 33, such as a desirable, marketable graphic. The marketable graphic 33 is designed to increase the desirability and personalization of the hygienic finger protector 10. For example, the indicium 33 may be artwork; a slogan, saying, or other text; or a company-related image, logo, or other brand-image promoting graphic.

[0046] Optionally, cutout 27 or customized cutout 28 may be utilized with the imprinting of the brand-image promoting graphic, indicium 33.

[0047] The fourth embodiment of FIG. 8 further includes an extended bulge 30 or thickened region of sheath 23 having an aperture 38 configured to receive a key ring or keychain 31. The aperture 38 may be simply an opening in the

extended bulge 30 or, for more durability, may have a grommet embedded into extended bulge 30 with a center aperture to receive a key ring or keychain 31.

[0048] The fifth embodiment of FIG. 9 illustrates an

embedded data storage device 35. The embedded data storage device 35 is operable to store data and, in some aspects, to transmit data. The data storage device 35 may be a bar code, RFID tag (radio frequency identification label

generally configured with a integrated circuit to store and process data and to modulate and demodulate a radio- frequency signal and configured with an antenna) , a keycard (configured to store a digital signature) , a smart card (operable to process data by way of an integrated circuit and to receive input and deliver output), or the like.

[0049] The embedded data storage device 35 allows enhanced customization. The embedded data storage device 35 can be configured to supply identification information. For example, the stored data may be a preferred shopper number to allow the customer wearing the hygienic finger protector to obtain discounts or the stored data may designate a group affiliation, such as allowing the customer to be identified with a particular school for enabling school rewards .

[0050] FIG. 10 to FIG. 13 illustrate the sixth embodiment of the hygienic finger protector 10, which includes a contour 26 of sheath 20 and a raised rim 36. An alternate keychain attachment 30 is also shown. The keychain

attachment 30 has an interior aperture 38 sized and

configured for receiving a keychain, a ring, a cord, a cable, or the like.

[0051] The contour 26 is a curved shape that allows the

distal end 29 of sheath 20 to generally conform to the shape of a typical fingertip. The incorporation of the contour 26 reduces or prevents rotation of the finger protector 10 with relation to the inserted fingertip. The contour 26 may include both an interior contour and/or an exterior contour.

[0052] The raised rim 36 is a circumferential rounded rim at the edge of proximal open end 21. The raised rim 36 provides a smooth entrance for the fingertip, allowing quick and easy insertion. Allowing the finger protector 10 to be quickly donned provides an advantage in rushed situations, such as when ready to sign a digital signature pad or input a PIN number at a busy store checkout counter. Additionally, the raised rim 36 provides an aesthetically pleasing, finished appearance for the edge. Optionally, the raised rim 36 or other portion of the sheath may be formed in a second color to enhance the appeal of the finger protector 10.

[0053] FIG. 14 illustrates the seventh embodiment of the present invention, which incorporates the features of the sixth embodiment and adds a cutout rim 34. The cutout rim 34 is a rounded rim at the edge of cutout 27. Similar to the circumferential raised rim 36, the cutout rim 34

provides a smooth, pleasing finished appearance for the edge. Preferably both the circumferential raised rim 36 and the cutout rim 34 are unitarily molded with sheath 20. [0054] To use the hygienic finger protector 10, the customer inserts his finger (generally the index finger) into the sheath 20 until the tip of the finger abuts the distal closed end 29 of sheath 20. The finger, covered by the hygienic finger protector 10, may be used to input numbers into the keypad 12 (such as PIN numbers, phone numbers, etc.). Optionally, the protuberance 25 may be pressed against the signature capture device 12 and moved to create a signature. The finger is thus protected from dirt and bacteria and viruses (such as, for example, HIV, Hepatitis, herpes, blood-borne pathogens, and other infections) that contaminate the keypad 12 or signature capture device 11. Also", the keypad 12 and signature capture device 11 are protected from dirt from customers' hands, which may lead to less maintenance and cleaning, saving employee time and reducing costs.

[0055] Companies may choose to customize the hygienic

finger protector 10 and to provide the customized finger protectors 10 to clients and customers to create goodwill, brand recognition, and the like. Due to the low cost per hygienic finger protector 10, they may advantageously be used as complimentary promotional items to give to

tradeshow attendees to advertise services or products. 6] Since many modifications, variations and changes in detail can be made to the described preferred embodiments of the invention, it is intended that all matters in the foregoing description and shown in the accompanying drawings be interpreted as illustrative, and not in a limiting sense. Thus, the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal

equivalents.