Color Kinetic receives patent for color-changing computers

May 6, 2005
Color Kinetics has received two more patents for color-changing applications.
Color Kinetics has received a patent covering color-changing devices for illuminating enclosures such as the cases of computers and other appliances. US patent number 6,888,322 “Systems and methods for color changing device and enclosure” was granted on May 3, 2005, based on an application filed on July 27, 2001.

The patent describes a color-changing device comprising an enclosure formed of transparent material, where illumination is provided by at least two light sources of different colors, where at least one of these is an LED.

The color-changing device could form part of a computer, peripheral or accessory, and the patent also refers to a wide range of other devices such as DVD recorders and personal digital assistants.

Interestingly, Apple Computer has filed several US patent applications relating to the use of LEDs to create a chameleon effect for computer housings. In February 2002, two applications were filed, one describing a “computing device with dynamic ornamental appearance” (US patent application number 20020190975) in which the housing is illuminated using LEDs, and the second describing an “active enclosure for a computing device” (number 20030002246) in which red, green, blue and white LEDs are used to indicate “events associated with the computing device”.

A common complaint aimed at Color Kinetics’ patents is that they contain very broad claims, and this one seems to be no exception. Claim 1 includes a partly-transparent enclosure, light sources with at least two colors, at least one being an LED, and a controller configured to control the at least one LED-based light source. One correspondent has already contacted LEDs Magazine to say that the patent “seems so generic that a color-changing light bulb with a switch on its body would be covered.”

Temperature differential causes color changing

Color Kinetics was also granted a second US patent recently. Patent number 6,883,929, issued on April 26, is directed to generating power for LED-based light sources based on a thermoelectric process called the Seebeck Effect, which allows a temperature differential to generate electricity. For example, the invention may be used in a stove where the temperature of the stove top is conveyed through the color of light emitted by a multicolor LED-based source.