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United States Patent Application 20040034898
Kind Code A1
Bruegl, Juergen February 26, 2004

Self-tinting helmet visor and method of making same

Abstract

Helmet visor with a solar cell device that is arranged directly on the helmet visor, wherein the helmet visor can be darkened or tinted through voltage that is generated by a solar cell device and loses its tint that has been created by the voltage in the de-energized state.


Inventors: Bruegl, Juergen; (Los Altos, CA)
Correspondence Address:
    CROWELL & MORING LLP
    INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY GROUP
    P.O. BOX 14300
    WASHINGTON
    DC
    20044-4300
    US
Assignee: Bayerische Motoren Werke AG

Serial No.: 227446
Series Code: 10
Filed: August 26, 2002

Current U.S. Class: 2/9; 2/424
Class at Publication: 2/9; 2/424
International Class: A42B 001/00


Claims



What is claimed is:

1. Helmet visor, wherein a solar cell device is arranged directly on or adjacent the helmet visor, and wherein the helmet visor can be darkened or tinted via voltage generated by the solar cell device and loses tint that has been created by the voltage in a de-energized state.

2. Helmet visor according to claim 1, wherein the helmet visor contains a transparent carrier body, onto which an electrically darkenable layer is applied or into which the electrically darkenable layer is integrated.

3. Helmet visor according to claim 2, wherein the layer is tinted in color in accordance with an amount of the voltage generated by the solar cell device.

4. Helmet visor according to claim 3, wherein the layer can be continuously tinted.

5. Helmet visor according to claim 3, wherein the darkenable layer is an electrically darkenable film, which is flexible, and which has been applied to the carrier body and is electrically connected with the solar cell device.

6. Helmet visor according to claim 4, wherein the darkenable layer is an electrically darkenable film, which is flexible, and which has been applied to the carrier body and is electrically connected with the solar cell device.

7. Helmet visor according to claim 1, wherein the solar cell device contains one or more solar cells.

8. Helmet visor according to claim 3, wherein the solar cell device contains one or more solar cells.

9. Helmet visor according to claim 4, wherein the solar cell device contains one or more solar cells.

10. Helmet visor according to claim 5, wherein the solar cell device contains one or more solar cells.

11. Helmet visor according to claim 2, wherein the solar cell device is a flexible solar cell film, which has been applied onto the carrier body of the helmet visor.

12. Helmet visor according to claim 3, wherein the solar cell device is a flexible solar cell film, which has been applied onto the carrier body of the helmet visor.

13. Helmet visor according to claim 4, wherein the solar cell device is a flexible solar cell film, which has been applied onto the carrier body of the helmet visor.

14. Helmet visor according to claim 5, wherein the solar cell device is a flexible solar cell film, which has been applied onto the carrier body of the helmet visor.

15. Helmet visor according to claim 7, wherein the solar cell device is a flexible solar cell film, which has been applied onto the carrier body of the helmet visor.

16. Helmet visor according to claim 11, wherein the helmet visor contains a lower edge area close to a chin and an upper edge area close to a forehead, and wherein the solar cell film is arranged in the upper edge area close to the forehead or in the lower edge area close to the chin of the helmet visor.

17. Helmet visor according to claim 11, wherein the solar cell film takes on a shape of a strip, which extends substantially transversely across the upper edge area close to the forehead of the helmet visor.

18. Helmet visor according to claim 16, wherein the solar cell film takes on a shape of a strip, which extends substantially transversely across the upper edge area close to the forehead of the helmet visor.

19. Helmet, comprising a helmet visor, wherein a solar cell device is arranged directly on or adjacent the helmet visor, and wherein the helmet visor can be darkened or tinted via voltage generated by the solar cell device and loses tint that has been created by the voltage in a de-energized state.

20. Helmet visor according to claim 19, wherein the helmet visor contains a transparent carrier body, onto which an electrically darkenable layer is applied or into which the electrically darkenable layer is integrated.

21. Helmet visor according to claim 20, wherein the layer is tinted in color in accordance with an amount of the voltage generated by the solar cell device.

22. Helmet visor according to claim 21, wherein the layer can be continuously tinted.

23. Helmet visor according to claim 21, wherein the darkenable layer is an electrically darkenable film, which is flexible, and which has been applied to the carrier body and is electrically connected with the solar cell device.

24. Helmet visor according to claim 20, wherein the solar cell device is a flexible solar cell film, which has been applied onto the carrier body of the helmet visor.

25. Helmet visor according to claim 24, wherein the helmet visor contains a lower edge area close to a chin and an upper edge area close to a forehead, and wherein the solar cell film is arranged in the upper edge area close to the forehead or in the lower edge area close to the chin of the helmet visor.

26. Helmet, comprising a helmet visor, wherein the helmet visor contains a transparent carrier body, onto which an electrically darkenable layer is applied or into which the electrically darkenable layer is integrated.

27. Glasses, comprising a solar cell device which is arranged directly on the glasses and lenses can be darkened or tinted via an voltage that is generated by the solar cell device and lose tint that has been created by the voltage in a de-energized state.

28. Helmet visor, wherein the helmet visor contains a transparent carrier body, onto which an electrically darkenable layer is applied or into which the electrically darkenable layer is integrated.

29. A tintable transparent assembly, comprising: a transparent material, a tintable layer arranged in or on the transparent material and capable of tinting or darkening a field of view of the transparent material, and a solar cell device arranged on or adjacent the transparent material, the tintable layer being darkened or tinted via voltage generated by the solar cell device, wherein the tintable material substantially loses the darkening or tinting in a de-energized state.

30. A method of making a helmet visor, comprising: providing the helmet visor which is operatively darkenable or tintable via voltage, and arranging a solar cell device directly on or adjacent the helmet visor, wherein the voltage is operatively generated by the solar cell device, and the helmet visor operatively loses tint that has been operatively created by the voltage in a de-energized state.
Description



BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to a self-tinting helmet visor, a helmet with a self-tinting helmet visor, as well as goggles or glasses.

[0002] Helmets with tinted visors are known from various fields, e.g. the motorcycle sector or automobile racing. Furthermore, we know of jet pilot helmets from the military sector, which are also equipped with tinted visors. For quite some time, goggles with self-tinting lenses have also been available, which "automatically" become darker with increasing brightness. The tint of the lenses however changes at times only relatively slowly.

[0003] It is an aspect of the invention to create a helmet visor or goggles whose tint adjusts automatically and as quickly as possible to the respective brightness situation.

[0004] This aspect is resolved in that a solar cell device is arranged directly on or adjacent the helmet visor and glasses or lenses, wherein the helmet visor and the glasses or lenses can be darkened or tinted via voltage generated by the solar cell device and lose the tint that has been created by the voltage in a de-energized state. Beneficial embodiments and further developments of the invention are revealed hereinbelow.

[0005] A basic principle of certain preferred embodiments of the invention is a self-tinting helmet visor with a tinting liquid crystal layer (Liquid Crastal), which is supplied with power by a solar cell device. The solar cell device is arranged directly on the helmet visor. By "supplying power" to the tinting layer, the tint can be increased. The tint of the electrically darkened layer can preferably be adjusted continuously, i.e., steadily.

[0006] In the de-energized state, the helmet visor exhibits its maximum transparency, i.e., its lowest tint or no tint at all. By applying voltage, the tint can be increased. In case of failure of the power supply to the helmet visor, on the other hand, the tint automatically disappears, ensuring the unobstructed view of the wearer of the helmet.

[0007] Pursuant to a further development of certain preferred embodiments of the invention, the helmet visor is made of a transparent support element, on the surface of which an electrically darkened layer is applied. Alternatively, the electrically darkened layer can also be integrated in the transparent support body and be connected electrically with a solar cell device.

[0008] The helmet visor is a completely "self-sufficiently" functioning component. Electrical connections from the helmet visor to the helmet or other components are not required. In particular, no battery is necessary. The required current and/or the necessary voltage are supplied directly by the solar cells, which are arranged in or on the helmet visor. Conventional helmets can therefore be retrofitted with such a visor without difficulty.

[0009] Depending upon the brightness conditions, the solar cell device provides more or less voltage. According to the ambient brightness or the voltage, a more or less strong tinting of the helmet visor occurs. The voltage is largely proportional to the currently required visor tint. The solar cell device and the self-tinting layer may be coordinated with each other such that the wearer of the helmet experiences a substantially consistent "transparency" of the helmet visor as a function of the brightness conditions.

[0010] Pursuant to a further development of certain preferred embodiments of the invention, the tinted layer is formed by an electrically darkenable flexible liquid crystal film. Such tinting films are available, for example, from AlphaMicron, Inc. The brightness of such tinting films can be varied within a broad range by changing the applied voltage. A considerable advantage of such tinted films is their very short response time. Within a few milliseconds, the tint adjusts accordingly to the ambient brightness. With such a tinted film, a nearly consistent tint can be guaranteed in the visual field of the visor wearer even during a drive in an avenue with trees with varying light conditions.

[0011] The tinted film can be applied directly on the transparent visor carrier body. Alternatively, the electrically darkenable flexible tinting film can also be incorporated between two transparent carrier body layers, which protects the tinting film better against damage. The tinting film is connected, for example, via strip conductors electrically with the solar cell device, which is also provided directly on or in the helmet visor.

[0012] The solar cell device can be formed by a flexible film as well. Such films with solar cells are state of the art and are offered, for example, by Iowa Thin Film Technologies Inc.

[0013] The "solar cell film" preferably takes on the shape of a strip. The strip can be arranged transversely in the upper edge area of the visor, i.e. above the self-tinting film. The solar cell strip can have a width of 10 mm for example. The solar cells are also preferably arranged on the visor on the "periphery" of the field of vision of the wearer of the helmet. They do not impair the field of vision of the visor wearer, or only do so insignificantly.

[0014] Although in the description so far only a helmet visor was mentioned, it is expressly pointed out that the invention can also be used in other areas. For example, goggles or glasses, such as sunglasses, window panes or car windows, sliding roofs etc. can be equipped with a solar cell arrangement and a tinting layer that is electrically connected with it, wherein the tint changes as a function of the voltage that is applied.

[0015] Other objects, advantages and novel features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description of the invention when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] FIG. 1 shows a helmet visor;

[0017] FIG. 2 shows goggles or glasses; and

[0018] FIG. 3 shows a helmet.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0019] FIG. 1 shows a helmet visor 1, which is fastened to a helmet 10 via joints 2, 3. In the area of its lateral ends, the visor contains a guide groove 4, 5, respectively, with which the visor is guided on the helmet during opening or closing.

[0020] In the field of vision 6, the helmet visor 1 contains an electrically tintable layer 7, the outline of which is indicated here by a dotted line. The electrically tintable layer can also extend across the entire range of the helmet visor 1. It can be applied either onto the surface of the transparent visor base body, or be incorporated in the visor base body. The electrically tintable layer 7 is connected e.g. via strip conductors 11 electrically with a solar cell arrangement 8. The solar cell arrangement 8 can also be formed by a solar cell film. It can also be installed directly upon the exterior of the helmet visor. The solar cell arrangement 8 here takes on the shape of a strip. The strip extends transversely along the upper, end face edge of the helmet visor roughly across the entire visor width.

[0021] In accordance with the brightness of the environment, the solar cell film creates voltage. The electrically tintable layer is darkened more or less as a function of the amount of voltage. In a very bright environment, e.g. solar radiation, the solar cell film generates a high voltage and the electrically tintable layer darkens accordingly. With less brightness, the voltage and therefore the tint of the helmet visor is less. In case of failure or malfunction of the solar cell film or the connecting lines between the solar cell film and the electrically tintable layer, it loses its tint. In the de-energized state, it is thus ensured that the view of the wearer or the visor is not impaired.

[0022] FIG. 2 shows a pair of glasses or goggles. The solar cell arrangement 8 may be positioned above the lenses, across the top of the glasses, or in another convenient location. The tintable layer 7 is integrated into the lenses but may also be applied to an inside or outside surface of the lenses.

[0023] FIG. 3 shows a helmet 10. The solar cell is arranged in a lower edge area of the visor 1 close to the chin of the helmet visor. The solar cell arrangement 8 may also be arranged at an upper edge area close to the forehead of the visor, as in FIG. 1.

[0024] The foregoing disclosure has been set forth merely to illustrate the invention and is not intended to be limiting. Since modifications of the disclosed embodiments incorporating the spirit and substance of the invention may occur to persons skilled in the art, the invention should be construed to include everything within the scope of the appended claims and equivalents thereof.

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