Patent application title: LIGHTED INFLATABLE TUBE
Thomas M. Plante (Woodbury, MN, US)
REVEL MATCH LLC DBA RAVE SPORTS
IPC8 Class: AB63C920FI
Class name: Buoys, rafts, and aquatic devices body supporting buoyant device
Publication date: 2016-04-21
Patent application number: 20160107732
This invention relates to a lighted inflatable tube, preferably with
internal LED light embedded therein.
1. An inflatable water support device, comprising: an inflatable body; a
pocket in the body; and an illumination device that can be releasably
secured in the pocket.
2. The device of claim 1 wherein the device is a doughnut shaped inflatable tube.
3. The device of claim 1 wherein the illumination device comprises an LED light strip.
4. The device of claim 1 wherein the illumination device comprises a glow stick.
5. The device of claim 1 wherein the pockets are clear.
6. The device of claim 1 wherein the pockets are frosted.
7. The device of claim 1 wherein the pockets comprises a lens.
8. The device of claim 1 wherein the device is a doughnut shaped inflatable tube, and the illumination device comprises a strip of LED lights, and the pocket is a panel located on the inside of a hole in the doughnut.
9. The device of claim 1 further comprising a controller for controlling the illumination device.
10. The device of claim 9 wherein the controller is housed in a water tight capsule embedded in the device.
11. The device of claim 1 wherein the illumination device is battery powered.
12. The device of claim 1 further comprising a solar panel and wherein the illumination device if powered by the solar panel.
13. The device of claim 12 further comprising a battery wherein the solar panel charges a battery that powers the illumination device.
14. The device of claim 1 further comprising a photocell that turns the illumination device on or off based on the ambient light conditions.
15. The device of claim 1 wherein the illumination device is textured to allow it to easily be inserted into the device.
 The present application claims priority to and incorporates by reference U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62,055,067 filed on Sep. 25, 2014.
 1. Field of the Invention
 This invention relates to a lighted or illuminated inflatable tube. In particular, to an inflated tube of the type commonly used at water parks, which contains LED or other illumination devices embedded therein to create an illuminated tube. Besides use in waterparks, this invention could be used and adapted for use on a wide variety of inflatable products for use on land or water and in indoor or outdoor environments.
 2. Background of the Invention
 Inflatable tubes are commonly used in a variety of environments. For example, water parks use donut shaped, FIG. 8 shaped (and other shapes) tubes for attractions like water slides, lazy river rides, and the like. The tubes are air inflated, have at least one seat opening, and frequently include handles for the user to grip during use. Tubes can accommodate 2, 3, 4, or more riders, and have shapes corresponding there to. Also, tubes can have open middles or include floors and seating areas.
 The tubes can also be used in connection with river tubing, snow tubing, towed behind a boat on a lake, and the like. The tubes can be constructed from vinyl, flexible PVC, tarpaulin, or other suitable materials. They include molded, heat welded, or glued seams to make them air tight. They come in a wide variety of colors, or can be clear.
 While prior art tubes work sufficiently well, they lack design or ornamental aspects and are typically bland in appearance. Use of material colors and printed graphics have been the means for creating excitement and visual appeal.
 Accordingly, a need exists for an improved inflatable tube.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
 FIGS. 1A, B, C show views of an inflatable tube with internal lighting placed in clear pockets.
 FIGS. 1D, E, F show view of the inflatable tube with internal lighting placed in frosted pockets.
 FIG. 1G shows top views of the inflatable tube with frosted and clear pockets.
 FIG. 1H shows side view of the inflatable tube with frosted and clear pockets.
 FIG. 2 shows views of LED Sticks which can comprise the internal lighting medium used with the inflatable tubes.
 FIG. 3A and B show top views of the inflatable tubes with internal lighting inserted in clear and frosted pockets (respectively).
 FIG. 3C and D FIG. 3A show side views of the inflatable tubes with internal lighting inserted in clear and frosted pockets (respectively).
 FIG. 4A shows a frosted pocket of the inflatable tube.
 FIG. 4B shows a clear pocket of the inflatable tube.
 FIG. 4C and D show internal lighting mediums being inserted into pockets of the inflatable tubes.
 FIG. 5 shows the inflatable tube with a series of LED lights embedded in a pocket along the edge of the inside ring of the tube.
 FIG. 6 shows a capsule that can be embedded into the inflatable tube to house an electronic controller used with the illumination devices.
 FIG. 7 is a flow chart for a solar powered version of the inflatable tube.
 FIG. 8 shows a solar panel that can be attached to the exterior of the tube to provide power for the illumination device.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 In the Figures, is shown an inflatable tube. The tube is a conventional type commonly used at water parks, snow parks, or as a towable device behind a boat. The tubes are constructed as described herein above.
 The tubes, however, include internal lighting of a kind not found in the prior art. In the first embodiment, the tubes include an LED light strip embedded into a panel located in the interior adjacent to the inner diameter of the seating area. The LED lights are located inside a sealed chamber located in, on, or outside the tube, and thus are water and air tight. It is preferable to locate the LEDs in a place where moisture will develop thereby clouding the illumination path. Even in the interior of a sealed tube moisture can develop. The LED lights can be any color, or multiple colors, and can change colors or illuminate in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
 The electronics are most preferably internally located as well, however, there needs to be some access to the electronics--to turn the device on or off or most importantly to replace batteries (device turn on/off can be accomplished in other ways as described herein). Alternatively, a photo cell can be included to automatically turn the lights on or off depending on light conditions. Use of a photocell would greatly enhance battery life since the illumination device would automatically turn off when the tube was exposed to daylight. In the Figures, is shown a controller (labeled Maxable) which is self contained and can be placed in a water tight capsule located along the exterior of the tube. A water tight cover can be removed to access electronics that can turn the lights on and off, allow for battery changes, and to configure other settings such as the mode/style of the light or the color.
 The LED light strip can be housed in a strip or pocket that is built into the tube using the same seam technology that is used to create the tube in the first place. Given the long life of LED lights, relative to the life of the tube itself, it may not be necessary to ever replace the lights, however, the strip of pocket could be configured to allow removal and replacement of the lights.
 The effect of the lights is quite dramatic, especially at night or in dark environments such as a dark tunnel in a waterpark lazy river. The lights illuminate the entire interior of the tube causing the entire tube to glow. The effect is enhanced as the lights change colors or cycle through various patterns. The color of the tube is also a factor in the overall display. The tube can be opaque/frosted to partially reflect/refract the light to further enhance illumination of the interior. Without wishing to be bound by any particular theory of operation or preferred configuration, it is believed that an opaque/frosted tube combined with encasing the lights in a clear cover would produce the best illumination results. Other colors can be used which will interact with the lights. The tube can also be clear, however, this might allow the light to pass to easily from the interior of the tube and would create "hot spots" of light intensity, rather than a very uniform dispersement of light within the tube when using frosted material.
 As an alternative to conventional batteries, the lights can be solar powered by placing small solar panels on or about the exterior of the tube, which of course would need to be encased in a water tight manner. Or, the solar panels can be used to charge a battery when the device is not in use. Solar panels could be used to charge permanent batteries housed within the tube (these would be a battery storage device that do not need to be replaced) or they could be used to charge batteries that are removable, replaceable such as those commonly available.
 In another embodiment of the invention the lights are not placed in a sealed chamber or slot. Instead, one or more pockets or sleeves are placed in strategic locations around the tube and lights can be slide into and out of the pockets. In this manner, no separate electronics are needed, and no accommodations needs to be made to locate a controller or battery pack in the tube. LED light sticks or chemically activated glow sticks can then be inserted into the pockets as needed, and removed periodically.
 Also, this method reduces the cost of the tubes by reducing the amount of labor and material needed to construct the tubes, making replacement of the lights easier, and allows for use of lower cost lighting devices. Caps could be included with the pockets to make them water tight, or, water tight lights sources can be used. The pocket can be colored, frosted, or clear, however, a clear pocket likely better transmits light to the interior of the tube. Also, the pockets or the light itself could include lensing or prismatic surfaces to enhance the light effect. Preferably, the surface of the illumination device (LED light stick or Glow Stick) would be textured, or the equivalent, to allow the lights to be easily inserted and removed (some surfaces might cause the lights to stick to the surface making them hard to remove and insert).
 Unless otherwise defined, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Although methods and materials similar to or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, suitable methods and materials are described below. All publications, patent applications, patents, and other references mentioned herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety to the extent allowed by applicable law and regulations. In case of conflict, the present specification, including definitions, will control.
 The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential attributes thereof, and it is therefore desired that the present embodiment be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, reference being made to the appended claims rather than to the foregoing description to indicate the scope of the invention. Those of ordinary skill in the art that have the disclosure before them will be able to make modifications and variations therein without departing from the scope of the invention.
Patent applications by Thomas M. Plante, Woodbury, MN US
Patent applications by REVEL MATCH LLC DBA RAVE SPORTS
Patent applications in class BODY SUPPORTING BUOYANT DEVICE
Patent applications in all subclasses BODY SUPPORTING BUOYANT DEVICE