CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/520,352, filed on Jun. 7, 2011; the content of which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
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The present invention relates to the field of electronic cigarettes. More specifically, the present invention relates to systems and methods for enhancing the use of electronic cigarettes.
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Electronic cigarettes are devices designed and constructed to simulate traditional tobacco smoking Electronic cigarettes are used as an alternative to tobacco smoking Electronic cigarettes may provide a user with the experience of smoking a traditional tobacco cigarette without the burning of tobacco.
In operation, electronic cigarettes usually produce a vapor for inhalation by the user that mimics the physical sensation, appearance, and often the flavor of inhaled tobacco smoke. The vapor is typically produced by an atomizer, such as a heating element or an ultrasonic element, to vaporize a liquid solution into an aerosol. Liquids that produce vapor for electronic cigarettes are available in many different flavor varieties and nicotine concentrations, including nicotine-free versions. Electronic cigarettes are reusable, with replaceable and refillable components, or disposable.
An electronic cigarette's components usually include a housing, a power source, a liquid reservoir, and an atomizer. The housing may include a cartridge that is typically a disposable plastic container open at either end. A first end is placed in the user's mouth, and the other end attaches to the rest of the housing. The cartridge may store the liquid reservoir and act as a mouthpiece. The cartridge typically allows passage of liquid from the liquid source to the atomizer and vapor from the atomizer to the user's mouth.
Electronic cigarettes are currently made of metal and plastic. While their use simulates the act of smoking a traditional tobacco cigarette, the tactile feel is different due to the materials currently used in construction of electronic cigarettes. Needs exist for improved tactile feel for electronic cigarettes.
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Embodiments of the present invention may provide systems and methods for an electronic smoking apparatus including a main body and a cartridge section coupled to the main body. The cartridge section may include a rigid support and a padded material surrounding the rigid support. The cartridge section may be constructed of a padded material.
Additional features, advantages, and embodiments of the invention are set forth or apparent from consideration of the following detailed description, drawings and claims. Moreover, it is to be understood that both the foregoing summary of the invention and the following detailed description are exemplary and intended to provide further explanation without limiting the scope of the invention as claimed.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
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The accompanying drawings, which are included to provide a further understanding of the invention and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate preferred embodiments of the invention and together with the detailed description serve to explain the principles of the invention. While these drawings only show a particular embodiment, for that embodiment they are roughly drawn to scale.
FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a padded material covering an electronic cigarette cartridge, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 2 shows a cutaway view of an electronic cigarette, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 3 shows a cutaway view of an electronic cigarette, according to an embodiment of the present invention.
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OF THE EMBODIMENTS
Systems and methods are described for an electronic cigarette with a soft padded cartridge. The cartridge preferably has a tactile feel similar to a burning tobacco cigarette filter on the user\'s lips and mouth. The examples described herein relate to cigarettes for illustrative purposes only. The systems and methods described herein may be used for many different systems, including, for example, cigars, pipes, inhalers, nebulizers, and other simulated smoking devices or inhalation devices. Preferably, embodiments of the present invention may be used for electronic cigarettes, as opposed to other non-electronic smoking substitutes or smoking reduction devices, as electronic cigarettes typically require use of rigid materials and components in a mouthpiece section of the device.
FIG. 1 shows an exemplary padded material 101. The padded material 101 may at least partially cover and/or surround the region of an electronic cigarette that makes contact with a user\'s mouth, referred to herein as a cartridge. The cartridge may replace a filter as found on a tobacco cigarette. The cartridge may be integral with a shell of an electronic cigarette or may be a separate piece coupled to the shell. The cartridge may be constructed of or wrapped in the padded material 101.
The cartridge may be coupled to the shell of the electronic cigarette. The method of coupling may depend on the model of electronic cigarette. For one piece disposal electronic cigarettes, the cartridge may not be detachable from the rest of the electronic cigarette. Therefore, the cartridge may be integral with the shell or may be permanently coupled to the shell. For multi-piece electronic cigarettes, the cartridge may screw, clip, slide, snap fit, or otherwise couple to the shell of the electronic cigarette.
In preferred embodiments, padded material may be more or different than simple paper, stickers, tape, etc. Padded material may be a foam-like solid, other at least minimally compressible materials, combinations of materials, or layers of materials applied over and or wrapped around a harder, more rigid structure. Layers may be applied over one another around the circumference of the rigid structure. The rigid structure may be metal and/or metal enclosed in hard plastic or simply just a hard plastic support. The rigid structure may be a reservoir or chamber where a liquid solution is vaporized or atomized. The rigid structure may be generally cylindrical and at least partially hollow. The rigid structure may provide structural support for the cartridge and may house a liquid reservoir or chamber and/or may house a vaporization or atomization chamber. The rigid structure may separate the user\'s mouth from interior components, such as an atomizer or vaporizer and internal chambers or reservoirs. The rigid structure may be continuous along its circumference or may have breaks or perforations. Preferably, the rigid structure does not contact the user\'s mouth, but is instead covered by the padded material in locations that may contact the user\'s mouth. In certain embodiments, the rigid structure has two or more sections and is not a continuous shell. In certain embodiments, the padded material at least partially surrounds the rigid structure, but does not surround the atomizer.
Foam, memory foam, rubber, silicone, paper, waxed paper, cotton, cork, and/or others materials may be used as the padded material. Preferably, the padded material forms a moisture barrier between the user\'s mouth and the rigid structure. Moisture barriers may be used to prevent degradation of the padded material due to continued use by the user and contact with saliva in a user\'s mouth. Furthermore, in certain embodiments the padded material is selected such that the padded material does not burn or otherwise stain or discolor due to the contact with the vaporization or atomization reservoir or chamber, which may operate at elevated temperatures.
The padded material may be adhered to the rigid structure. In preferred embodiments of the present invention, glue, double sided tape, and/or other adhesives may be used to couple the padded material to the rigid structure. In alternative embodiments of the present invention, the padded material may be placed on and/or formed to the rigid structure and wrapped around and/or placed on the rigid structure. A wrapper may surround and couple the padded material to the rigid structure. In certain embodiments the wrapper may provide a moisture barrier instead of or in addition to the padded material acting as a moisture barrier. In certain embodiments, the padded material is not a sleeve that slides onto or surrounds the rigid structure.
Embodiments of the present invention may be distinct from other substitute smoking systems, which often use traditional cigarette filters using materials such as cotton, fiber, sponges, etc. to provide a more “realistic” feel. Embodiments of the present invention preferably do not include fiber material or filler of soft sponge structure within a filter section and/or do not include fiber, cotton or sponge within rolling paper. Due to the nature of the rigid materials used for many electronic cigarettes, such as plastic and metal, traditional cigarette filters cannot be used to provide a more realistic tactile sensation for the user.
In certain embodiments of the present invention, the padded material and/or wrapper may be antimicrobial. The antimicrobial properties may be inherent in the materials used, or the materials used may be treated with antimicrobial compounds to create an antimicrobial material. For example, the padded material and/or wrapper may be coated, impregnated, etc. with one or more antimicrobial compounds. Various antimicrobial compounds and methods of applying antimicrobial compounds are known.
The combined dimensions, such as the circumference and diameter, of the rigid structure and the padded material may be roughly equal to the dimensions, such as circumference and diameter, of a traditional tobacco cigarette. In certain embodiments, the dimensions may be approximately 120 mm in length, approximately 10 mm in diameter, and filter lengths of approximately 20 mm, but other dimensions may be used for different purposes.
FIGS. 2 and 3 show exemplary embodiments of electronic cigarettes using the soft padded cartridge of the present invention.
FIG. 2 shows an electronic cigarette 201 with a cartridge section 203 and a main body 205. The cartridge section 203 may include a heating vapor coil 207 and/or an atomization chamber 209. The cartridge section 203 may be screwed onto the main body 205 via threads 211. Padded material 213 may surround the cartridge section 203, particularly a rigid support 215. The main body 205 may include a shell 217. The shell 217 may house a power source 219, such as a lithium ion or other type of battery, an operating mode or other type of sensor 221, a smart chip or other type of controller 223, and/or an indicator light 225. Gas and/or vapor may flow through the device from an inlet to an outlet in communication with the user\'s mouth.
FIG. 3 shows an electronic cigarette 301 with a cartridge section 303, an atomization section 305 and a main body 307. The cartridge section 303 may include a rigid shell 309 surrounding a liquid reservoir or chamber 311. The atomization section 305 may be screwed onto the main body 307 via threads 313. The atomization section 305 may be separate from the cartridge section 303 or may be inserted into the rigid shell 309 of the cartridge section 303. Padded material 315 may surround the cartridge section 303, particularly the rigid shell 309. The main body 307 may include a shell 317. The shell 317 may house a power source 319, such as a lithium ion or other type of battery, an operating mode or other type of sensor 321, a smart chip or other type of controller 323, and/or an indicator light 325.