Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
LIGHT EMITTING DIODE FIXTURES FOR VEHICLE PHOTOGRAPHIC SYSTEMS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/021864
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A modular lighting fixture is provided for use in photographic chambers that provides a combination of high flux, the ability to place/tuck the lighting fixture against a wall, and the ability to flash/tune the lighting fixture dynamically. The lighting fixture is based on light emitting diode elements to provide an energy efficient light source that generates far less heat than traditional mercury arc based lamps. The lighting fixture is modular and can be daisy chained to supply power and/or control signals to multiple attached lighting fixtures. Individual lighting fixtures may be joined together to form an array of lighting fixtures. The lighting fixtures may utilize the digital multiplex DMX512 standard for digital communication networks for controlling the lighting elements within the fixtures. The lighting fixture has a light output that is capable of providing a wide beam angle.

More Like This:
JPH10171393HOUSE
WO/2013/186037MACHINE TOOL
JPS5914202ILLUMINATOR WITH BLOWER
Inventors:
SCHEICH DAVO (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2020/043966
Publication Date:
February 04, 2021
Filing Date:
July 29, 2020
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
OVAD CUSTOM STAGES LLC (US)
International Classes:
F21V33/00; B08B3/02; F21S2/00; F21V5/04; F21V15/01; G06K7/00; H04N5/225; F21Y115/10
Foreign References:
US20100027276A12010-02-04
US20050077843A12005-04-14
KR20140013740A2014-02-05
KR101121752B12012-03-22
US20060114531A12006-06-01
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GOLDSTEIN, Avery, N. (US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A modular light fixture, the fixture comprising:

a housing;

a heatsink secured to the housing with securements;

a lighting lens containing an array of light elements, said lighting lens supported on said heatsink;

one or more fans within said housing; and

a set of power and data connections.

2. The fixture of claim 1 wherein said light elements are light emitting diodes (LED).

3. The fixture of claim 1 wherein said light elements are dynamically controlled via a digital multiplex DMX512 standard.

4. The fixture of claim 1 further comprising an airline with a set of nozzles that supply air in periodic bursts to clean said one or more fans.

5. The fixture of claim 1 further comprising an airline with a set of nozzles that supply a continuous supply of air to cool said fixture.

6. The fixture of claim 1 wherein two or more of said fixtures are daisy chained with respect to power and data connections.

7. The fixture of claim 1 further comprising a decoder/controher.

8. The fixture of any of claims 1 to 7 wherein said fixture is mountable to an adjustable arm mount.

9. The fixture of claim 1 wherein two or more of said fixtures are joined in an array.

10. The fixture of claim 9 wherein said two or more fixtures are joined in an array without the use of mounting hardware by placing said two or more fixtures next to each other on a surface.

11. The fixture of claim 9 further comprising a cable management system for routing said set of power and data connections between said two or more fixtures that are joined in an array.

12. The fixture of claim 1 wherein rotation of said heatsink and said supported lighting lens results in a different lighting effect.

13. The fixture of claim 12 wherein two lighting effects are available per said lighting lens.

14. A vehicle photographic system comprising:

a photographic booth or structure;

one or more cameras;

one or more of said light fixtures as claimed in claim 1 ;

a computer workstation; and

a controller for said one or more cameras and said one or more light fixtures.

15. The system of claim 14 wherein said computer workstation further comprises a graphical user interface (GUI) with which an operator can, zoom, pan, and change the lighting as needed.

16. The system of claim 14 further comprising a radio frequency identification (RFID) reader or alphanumeric reader for identifying vehicle and client parameters upon entry into said structure.

17. The system of claim 16 wherein said RFID reader or said alphanumeric reader obtains the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle to be processed;

wherein a set of information related to the vehicle is encoded in said VIN, said set of information comprising one or more of vehicle make, model, body style, and vehicle color.

18. The system of any one of claims 14 to 16 further comprising a central process unit (CPU), said CPU coordinates and controls said cameras, said lighting system; and

wherein a communication interface connects said plurality of cameras via one or more of wired and wireless links, optical drives, universal serial bus (USB), flash memory slot, and combinations thereof for receiving and sending data.

19. The system of any one of claims 14 to 16 further comprising a database with vehicle and client information.

Description:
LIGHT EMITTING DIODE FIXTURES FOR VEHICLE PHOTOGRAPHIC SYSTEMS

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Serial Number 62/880,313 filed 30 July 2019, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention in general relates to a system for photographing vehicles; and in particular, to a modular light fixture for use in photographic enclosures for vehicle photography.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Online auto sales and auto auctions have been growing in popularity. One of the most popular online auctions to buy vehicles from is eBay™. On eBay Motors™, a user can create an account and put their vehicles up for auction. Other popular websites include cars.com™. Typically, online vehicle sales are based solely on images of the vehicle, since the buyer is in a remote location and is unable to view the vehicle in question in person. Thus, many high quality images are required of the vehicle from many perspectives to allow a buyer to gain an understanding of a subject vehicle's condition and appearance. FIGs. 1A and IB are line drawings of typical non-studio quality vehicle photographs that are used to list vehicles for sale. The images shown in FIGs. 1A and IB are of low quality and require a dedicated employee to move vehicles and physically move around the subject vehicle to take the pictures. FIG. 1C illustrates reflection of the floor on the surfaces of the vehicle. The photographer also has to manually collate the images, name, and upload the files, which is a labor intensive and time consuming task, considering one photographer may be required to shoot upwards of 75 vehicles a day. [0004] Furthermore, producing high quality images is not only time consuming, but is costly and requires a studio set up. Vehicle images are particularly hard to obtain without unwanted reflections of the photographer or the surroundings; however reflection free images are critical to be able to discern surface imperfections, scratches, and dents on a vehicle surface. FIGs. 2A and 2B illustrate an existing studio configuration 1 for generating a contrast break line 2 on a vehicle with additive lighting. The bottom edge 4 of a light box 6 creates the break line 2 between highlight and shadow. FIGs. 3A and 3B illustrate an existing studio configuration 8 for generating a contrast break line 2 on a vehicle with subtractive lighting. The bounce fill light is a large source and makes a soft reflection in the sheet metal. A gray wall is added to“subtract” the reflection from the lower half of the truck to create contrast and shape.

[0005] While these studio shots are effective in creating high quality vehicle images, the studio shots are not amenable to the high throughput required for high volume vehicle sales. Thus there is a need to be able to rapidly produce high quality reflection free images of vehicles from multiple angles and perspectives.

[0006] In order to increase throughput for creating high quality vehicle images a drive through photographic tunnel as disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 10,063,758 issued August 28, 2018 and a circular dome photographic booth as disclosed in U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 15/834,374 filed December 7, 2017 both of which are included herein in their entirety have been implemented. Both the photographic tunnel and circular dome have a plurality of cameras mounted within the walls for recording images of a vehicle that are uploaded to a database that is used to generate image data from the vehicle positioned in the structure. The systems further include a lighting system and a tracking system to actuate one or more of the plurality of cameras and lights in a predetermined sequence and combination based on the position of the vehicle within the photographic structure. [0007] U.S. Patent No. 9,046,740 discloses a vehicle photographic studio with a stationary circular platform a vertical upright curved wall defining a backdrop that partially surrounds the platform, a front curved overhead member mounted across a side opening in the wall, and a plurality of spaced apart rollers rotatably mounted on a lower end portion of the wall and engaged with the track so as to mount the wall upon the track for undergoing revolvable movement along the track and about the platform to relocate the side opening of the wall at any selected angular position in relation to the platform.

[0008] However, these existing vehicle photographic solutions utilize lighting systems that have lighting elements that do not provide a combination of high flux, the ability to place/tuck the lighting element against a wall, and the ability to flash/tune the lighting element dynamically. Existing strobe lights 10 are shown in a vehicle photographic booth in FIGs. 4A-4D. The strobe lights 10 are shown positioned or mounted behind a gray wall 12, and projecting light on to a wall 14. However, the strobe lights 10 generate bright light using mercury arc elements that are very hot and need to be well ventilated and cannot be placed against surfaces in order to avoid overheating or fire. Furthermore, mercury arc lights and other intense flux lights lack the ability to flash or tune dynamically.

[0009] Thus, there continues to be need for improved lighting fixtures for use in photographic chambers that provide a combination of high flux, the ability to place/tuck the lighting element against a wall, and the ability to flash/tune the lighting element dynamically.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] A modular light fixture is provided. The modular light fixture includes a housing, a heatsink secured to the housing with securements, and a lighting lens supported on the heatsink that contains an array of light elements. One or more fans are within the housing, along with a set of power and data connections.

[0011] A vehicle photographic system is provided. The vehicle photographic system includes a photographic booth or structure, one or more cameras, one or more of the light fixtures as disclosed above, a computer workstation, and a controller for the one or more cameras and the one or more light fixtures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] The subject matter that is regarded as the invention is particularly pointed out and distinctly claimed in the claims at the conclusion of the specification. The foregoing and other objects, features, and advantages of the invention are apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

[0013] FIGs. 1A and IB are typical non- studio quality vehicle photographs rendered as line drawings;

[0014] FIG. 1C illustrates a photograph of a studio shot with uncontrolled reflections in a vehicle surface;

[0015] FIGs. 2A and 2B illustrate an existing studio configuration for generating a contrast break line photographs on a vehicle with additive lighting rendered as line drawings;

[0016] FIGs. 3 A and 3B illustrate an existing studio configuration for generating a contrast break line photographs on a vehicle with subtractive lighting rendered as line drawings;

[0017] FIGs. 4A-4D illustrate the use of existing strobe lighting elements in a vehicle photographic booth;

[0018] FIGs. 5A-5C are a series of perspective views of a modular light fixture in accordance with embodiments of the invention; [0019] FIG. 6 illustrates air blower nozzles for cooling and for cleaning hard to reach fans in an array of modular light fixtures in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

[0020] FIGs. 7A-7E illustrate power connections between the modular light fixtures of FIG. 5 according to an embodiment of the invention;

[0021] FIGs. 8A-8D illustrate control line connections between the modular light fixtures of FIG. 5 in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

[0022] FIGs. 9 A and 9B are pictures showing the placement of the modular light fixture of FIG. 5 on the floor and against a wall of a photographic chamber, and mounted to a VESA mount, respectively, in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

[0023] FIGs. 10A-10C illustrate the rotation of the lens assembly to change the spread of the light from the modular light fixture in accordance with embodiments of the invention;

[0024] FIGs. 10D and 10E illustrate a naturally occurring sundog and a sundog generated in a photographic dome structure with an embodiment of the modular light fixture of FIG. 5, respectively;

[0025] FIGs. 11A and 11B illustrate arrays and signal connections formed there between with the modular light fixtures of FIG. 5 in accordance with embodiments of the invention; and [0026] FIG. 12 is a system block diagram of the major components for photographing vehicles in accordance with embodiments of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0027] The present invention has utility as a modular lighting fixture for use in photographic chambers that provides a combination of high flux, the ability to place/tuck the lighting fixture against a wall, and the ability to flash/tune the lighting fixture dynamically. Embodiments of the inventive lighting fixture may be based on light emitting diode elements to provide an energy efficient light source that generates far less heat than tradition mercury arc based lamps. Embodiments of the inventive lighting fixture may be modular and may be daisy chained to supply power and/or control signals to multiple attached lighting fixtures. In a specific inventive embodiment individual lighting fixtures may be joined together to form an array of lighting fixtures. Specific inventive embodiments of the lighting fixtures may utilize the digital multiplex DMX512 standard for digital communication networks for controlling the lighting elements within the fixtures. In a specific inventive embodiment of the lighting fixture, light output is rated at 300 Watts (94 CRI) and is capable of providing a wide beam angle.

[0028] In addition to the use of inventive embodiments of the modular lighting fixture in photographic chambers, the modular lighting fixtures are also very good lights for lighting theatrical backgrounds and green screens. The high output and low profile of the modular lighting fixture allows the lighting fixtures to be easily hidden. Furthermore, the extra wide lenses allow that bright lights to be evenly spread and provide exceptional blending with a neighboring fixture.

[0029] It is to be understood that in instances where a range of values are provided herein, that the range is intended to encompass not only the end point values of the range, but also intermediate values of the range as explicitly being included within the range and varying by the last significant figure of the range. By way of example, a recited range of from 1 to 4 is intended to include 1-2, 1-3, 2-4, 3-4, and 1-4.

[0030] Referring now to the figures, FIGs. 5A-5C are a series of perspective views of an inventive embodiment of a modular light fixture 20. The modular light fixture 20 has a housing 22 that is secured to a heatsink 24 with securements 26. The heatsink 24 provides a surface that supports an array of lighting elements in a lighting lens 28. The heatsinks 24 spreads and dissipates heat generated by the lighting elements. One or more fans 30 provide cooling within the housing 22. Electrical connections 32 supply current to a transformer or power supply (not shown) within the housing 22. Control signal connections 34 supply signals for controlling the switching (on/off) and intensity and dimming of the array of lighting elements in a lighting lens 28. FIG. 5C is a top view of the lighting lens 28 that more clearly shows the array of individual lighting elements 29, which as previously noted may be light emitting diodes (LED) held in the lighting lens 28. The individual lighting elements 29 may be evenly spaced in a series of rows that form the array in the lighting lens 28. Different lighting lenses 28 may be used to create varying lighting effects. In a specific embodiment the color of the individual LEDs may be controlled.

[0031] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an airline 36 and nozzles 38 that may be used for self cleaning in an array installation of lighting fixtures 20 as shown in FIGs. 11A and 1 IB. In an array installation the fans 30 of each lighting fixture 20 may be difficult to access for cleaning, and the nozzles 38 may provide a blast of air into a fan 30 on a periodic basis, for example hourly, to clear any dust or debris that may have accumulated in the vicinity of the fan 30. In addition to self cleaning in specific inventive embodiments, a continuous low volume of air may be supplied to keep the housing 22 of the lighting fixture 20 extra cool.

[0032] FIGs. 7A-7E illustrate power connections between the modular light fixtures 20. Inventive embodiments may use daisy chain power connections for simplified and quick installations. In a specific inventive embodiment using a 220 volt alternating current (VAC) power supply with a 20 amp rating up to sixteen lighting fixtures may be daisy chained or connected together. In 220 VAC operation a National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) 6-20P to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) C13 power cord 40, as shown in FIG. 7A, may be used to supply power to the first lighting fixture 20 in a daisy chain configuration, an example of which is shown in FIG. 7C. In a specific inventive embodiment using a 115 volt alternating current (VAC) power supply with a 15 amp rating up to six lighting fixtures may be daisy chained or connected together. In 115 VAC operation a NEMA 5-15P to IEC C13 power cord 42, as shown in FIG. 7B, may be used to supply power to the first lighting fixture 20 in a daisy chain configuration, an example of which is shown in FIG. 7C. In a specific inventive embodiment, each lighting fixture 20 draws a maximum of 2.5 amps at 115 VAC. In either 115 or 220 VAC operating configurations, an electrical cord, such as an IEC C14 to IEC C13 cord, and electrical junction connectors 32, as shown in close up in FIGs. 7D and 7E, respectively are used to establish connections between each of the lighting fixtures 20. It is appreciated that additional electrical standards may be used for power connection and distribution.

[0033] FIGs. 8A-8D illustrate control line connections between the modular lighting fixtures 20. In specific inventive embodiments the digital multiplex DMX 512 standard is used to send control signals to the lighting fixtures 20. FIG. 8A shows a standalone DMX 512 network controller 46 connected to a series of embodiments of the inventive lighting fixtures 20 in a daisy chain configuration. As best seen in FIG. 8B and 8C data connection jacks 34 may be based on the RJ45 standard which is typically used with Ethernet cables. FIG. 8C shows an inventive embodiment of the lighting fixture 20’ with a built in DMX 512 decoder or manual standalone controller 48. FIG. 8D is a close-up view of the decoder/controller 48. It is appreciated that additional signal control standards may be used for power connection and distribution.

[0034] FIGs. 9 A and 9B are pictures showing the placement of the modular light fixture 20 on the floor 50 and against a wall 14 of a photographic chamber, and mounted to an adjustable arm mount that may be compatible with a Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) mount, respectively. The lay flat design of the modular light fixture 20 allows for minimal or no additional mounting hardware or brackets when resting on a flat surface. The lay flat/set-down design makes installing the modular light fixture 20 into a photographic booth or car stage fast and efficient with minimal labor with no additional hardware needed. As seen in FIG. 5B, a modular light fixture 20 may also be placed in a standing position with no additional hardware required.

[0035] FIGs. 10A-10C illustrate the rotation of the lens assembly 28 to change the spread of the light from the modular light fixture. In FIG. 10A securements 26 are removed to detach the heatsink 24 with the mounted lighting lens 28. As further shown in FIG. 10A, the heatsink 24 is rotated 180 degrees to change the spread of the light. FIGs. 10B and IOC illustrate the differences in the light spread between the rotated lighting lens. The rotation of the heatsink 24 result in the flipping (rotation) of the lighting lens 28 which provides two lighting effects per each available lighting lens. FIG. 10D is a photograph of a naturally occurring sundog. A sundog is a concentrated patch of sunlight occasionally seen about 22° to the left or right of the sun. Sundogs often form in pairs on either side of the sun when sunlight refracts through icy clouds containing hexagonal platecrystals aligned with their large, flat faces parallel to the ground. In a specific embodiment the modular light fixture (20, 20’) may be arraigned to mimic a sundog in a domed structure as shown in FIG. 10E where the light is cast on the wall 14 of a photographic chamber from behind the gray wall 12.

[0036] FIGs. 11A and 11B illustrate arrays and signal connections formed therebetween with the modular light fixtures 20. FIG. 11A shows an array 60 formed with six modular light fixtures 20. The overhang of the heatsink 24 beyond the housing 22 allows for an offset area for cabling to be run between the light fixtures 20 in the array. The offset area provides for cable management of power and control lines between the individual lighting fixtures 20. FIG. 11B shows a signal bus 62 running between the light fixtures 20 in a three unit array 70.

[0037] FIG. 12 is a system block diagram 100 of the major components for photographing vehicles in accordance with embodiments of the invention. A central process unit (CPU) 122 coordinates and controls the overall operation of the photographing system 100 that may be operated in a photographic structure or booth. The communication interface 124 is representative of various links and input connections and devices illustratively including but not limited to wired and wireless links, optical drives, universal serial bus (USB), flash memory slot, and combinations thereof, for receiving and sending data that may or may not be in real time. The bus 102 links the various components in the system. Memory 116 serves as storage for operating programs and firmware for the photographic system 100. A database with vehicle and client information is stored in Memory 116. Memory 116 is made up of read-only memory ROM and random access memory (RAM). Graphics chipset 120 drives a display. The display may be liquid crystal display (LCD), light emitting diode (LED), or other known display technologies. Control interface 106 may include knobs, buttons, and other touch sensitive controls for selecting various menu items or for inputting alphanumeric information. Sensors 104 sense the presence of a vehicle and the vehicle position. RFID/barcode 108 is a reader that detects and interprets tags mounted to vehicles or driver identification (ID) cards. Cameras 110 and lighting 114, which include embodiments of the modular light fixture 20, are controlled and sequenced by the CPU 122. The CPU may utilize the DMX 512 standard to control the lighting fixtures 20. Indicators 112 provide visual feedback to system users. In inventive embodiments, the central process unit (CPU) 122, or master and node computers, in the case of many cameras in use - these processing nodes speedup download and system throughput, and the CPU 122 coordinates and controls the plurality of cameras in the photographic structure. In specific inventive embodiments, a communication interface connects the plurality of cameras via one or more of wired and wireless links, optical drives, universal serial bus (USB), flash memory slot, and combinations thereof for receiving and sending data.

[0038] The use of sequenced and automated image capture allows for the rapid image processing of vehicles for auction sales, dealer records, as well as car condition assessments for rental agencies, fleet management companies, public safety agencies, municipal and government agencies, etc. A complete set of vehicle images are collected in between 5 and 90 seconds allowing for high throughput imaging associated with an auto auction or manufacturer.

[0039] Embodiments of the inventive enclosable photographic booth allow for a complete set of multi perspective high quality vehicle images to be obtained and recorded into a template or placed in a shared network folder in less than 90 seconds, and in some instances in approximately 5, 10, or 15 seconds. Thus, once a subject vehicle is photographed in the inventive enclosable oblong hemispherical domed photographic booth, the vehicle is available and ready for sale online based on the uploaded images and vehicle identification number (VIN) uploaded information. The rapid image processing and recordation of vehicle condition allows for new business models such as creating virtual or cyber dealerships where a wholesale customer never takes possession of a subject vehicle, and the vehicle is dropped shipped to the end retail customer. Photos obtained with the inventive system may be sold along with the subject vehicle for use by a purchasing used car retailer, and as it typically takes four days for the buyer to take delivery of the wholesale vehicle, with instant access to the vehicle photos the purchaser can start advertising the vehicle typically four days prior to physically taking possession of the vehicle.

[0040] Embodiments of the inventive photographic booth may utilize radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to identify and record vehicles as the vehicles are processed through the system. The RFID may be related to the vehicle identification number (VIN) of a vehicle to be processed. It is further appreciated that additional identifiers may be used illustratively including barcodes that relate to the VIN. Information related to the vehicle, such as vehicle make, model, body style, and color encoded in the VIN may be used to automatically adjust lighting. Further information that may be related to the RFID or barcode may include a dealership setting that may also indicate which dealer the vehicle is being shot for, and incorporate that dealer’s specific preferences such as lighting style, file size and format, number of photo shots and angles to be recorded. RFID or bar code information, read manually or automatically may also be used to project text onto the background of the shot or overlay text onto the file during processing, such as price, dealer name, vehicle specifications, mileage, etc.

[0041] As a person skilled in the art will recognize from the previous detailed description and from the figures and claims, modifications and changes can be made to the preferred embodiments of the invention without departing from the scope of this invention defined in the following claims.