Patent application title: Versatile expansion device
Sunny E. L. Huang (Claremont, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AB63B3573FI
Class name: Supports armrest or headrest
Publication date: 2010-09-23
Patent application number: 20100237204
Patent application title: Versatile expansion device
Sunny E. L. Huang
Paul M. Denk
Origin: ST. LOUIS, MI US
IPC8 Class: AB63B3573FI
Publication date: 09/23/2010
Patent application number: 20100237204
An expansion device, for use for flotation and as a headrest, is formed of
flexible corrugated tubing capable of contracting into a compact size for
storage, and said tubing capable of expanding for application about the
body of the wearer, the expandable tubing including end caps capable of
hermetic sealing to seal the interior of the expansion device when used
for floatation. The end caps that have an eyelet provided there through,
for the application of strapping, when the expansion device is applied to
the body of the wearer when used as a flotation support. The expandable
tubing is made of polymer, and can include a spiral wire integrated in
one of the apex or valley of one tubing to reinforce the expandable
tubing during repeated application.
1. An expandable device for use for floatation, including an expandable
corrugated tube like member, which can be contracted into a smaller
dimension, but expanded for use in application as a flotation device
about either the neck or the waist of its wearer, said expansion device
having a pair of ends, each end capable of being sealed so as to furnish
a hermetic seal for the expansion device when expanded and prepared for
usage and application, whereby the expansion device may be applied about
the person, for application as a flotation device as required.
2. The flotation device of claim 1 wherein said ends of the floatation device are sealed, to provide for a hermetic seal within the interior of said device.
3. The flotation device of claim 2 wherein the end seals include a pair of sleeves, one sleeve being of lesser diameter than the other, and wherein said pair of end sleeves may telescopically slide one within the other, to hermetically seal the ends of the expansion device during its usage for flotation purposes.
4. The flotation device of claim 2 wherein each end of said flotation device has an end cap, hermetically sealed to said end of said flotation device, and an upstanding sleeve, said sleeve having a aperture there through, and a plug for placement within said aperture to hermetically seal the interior of the flotation device during its usage.
5. The flotation device of claim 2 and including an end cap, said end cap being hermetically sealed to said end of the expansion tubing, said end cap having an upstanding eyelet, said eyelet having an aperture provided there through for the application of strapping to provide for securement of the flotation device to the wearer, during usage and application.
6. The flotation device of claim 1, wherein said expandable corrugated tubing includes reinforcement means, said reinforcement means comprising a wire integrated into the structure of the expansion device at one of its apex or valley to reinforce the structure of the expansion device when expanded and contracted during usage.
7. The expansion device of claim 6 wherein the expansion device is used for flotation purposes.
8. The expansion device of claim 6 wherein the expansion device is used as a headrest.
9. An expansion device, formed of corrugated tubing, said corrugated tubing capable of being contracted into a compact form for storage, and said corrugated tubing capable of being expanded, and wrapped about the neck of the wearer to function as a neck brace while resting.
10. The expansion device of claim 9 wherein each end of said expansion device has an end cap, hermetically sealed to said end of said flotation device, and an upstanding sleeve, said sleeve having a aperture there through, and a plug for placement within said aperture to hermetically seal the interior of the expansion device during its usage.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
This non provisional patent application claims priority to the provisional patent application having Ser. No. 61/210,412, having filing date Mar. 19, 2009.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to the application of an expandable device, generally fabricated from polymer, and sometimes being reinforced with an integral spiral wire, where its ends may be sealed off, or applied by interconnecting upon itself, or fasten by a belt, to the user, to function as a float, a swim training device, a neck rest, or for a variety of other purposes.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Various types of expandable devices have long been available in the art. For example, ductwork, such as used for venting a close dryer from a building, to the exterior, has long utilized a flexible polymer sheet type of tubing, that is reinforced with a strand of spiral wire located integrally therein, which is normally condensed when displayed for marketing, or shipment, but can be readily pulled into expansion, for extending to the exterior of a building, or to an exterior vent. Similar types of expandable ductwork have been employed for heating and air conditioning purposes, and for myriad of other uses. Usually these tubes are extremely thin polymer film.
A variety of other expandable types of tubes have been available, and have been used for various purposes, whether its toys, flow lines, or for other and related applications.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
This invention contemplates the usage of a polymer tube, incorporating sufficient flexibility that it can be expanded into a lengthy configuration, as during usage, or it can be forced back into a contracted state, as when it is to be stored, as during non usage. Generally, such flexible tubing is made of a expandable polymer, or at least having sufficient flexibility to allow it to be manipulated into various configuration, shapes, as during usage. Furthermore, such tubing is made into a corrugated configuration, that allows for expansion, or its compressed contraction, as explained. In addition, and while the tube may be made totally of polymer alone, to add to its reinforcement, it may incorporate along the outer edges of its corrugated configuration an integrated and embedded wire, of a spiral configuration, that adds to the reinforcement of the tube, during usage and application. Furthermore, it tends to resist collapsing of the polymer tube, since the wire may absorb the flexibility of the tube, during its manipulation, and relieves stress upon the polymer covering itself, Such polymers normally may comprise of polyurethane, polyethylene, and even a thin walled polypropylene.
The various specific usages of the tube may include its application as a waist float, for use by the beginning swimmer, or perhaps have application as a safety means, for boaters, sail boaters, or the like. Or, the tube may be expanded and rest behind the neck, and extend down the front of the wear, and strapped onto position, to function as a float, as while swimming, or even for use for emergency purposes. Or, the expanded tube may be somewhat lengthened, and extended around the neck, to act as a neck brace or rest, when a user desires to attain a comfortable position, as while resting, or taking a nap. The expandable tube may have smooth exterior surface, at select locations, as at the point of its contact with the back of the neck of the wearer, when it is being used as a head rest, in order to add to the comfort. The expandable corrugated portions will extend there from, and will allow for the neck rest to be extended downwardly, and to the front, to keep the head into position, while resting.
The structure of the expandable tube, when used in various configurations, may be modified, depending upon its application. For example, integrally formed on the end of the length of expandable corrugated tube are end caps, at each end, and which may include a closure, such as a stopper, that can be compressed into position, once the expandable tubing has been located into position, to seal off its interior, when the tubing is to function as a float. Or, the end closure for the tube may include an eyelet, so that strapping, rope, or other fastening means can be included there through, as when the expandable tubing is to be used as a float device. In addition, integral segments of lengths of straight tubing can be integrated into the ends of the expandable device, and the two ends may telescope together, and seal, where the float is to be used as a waist float, so that air may be entrapped therein, and sealed in position, once the expandable device has been located around the waste around the swimmer, for use for safety purposes.
There may also be formed upon the surface of the expandable tubing various smooth length of tube, integrated therein, so as to add to the comfort of the device, as for example, when used as a head or neck rest.
The tubing may be reinforced by adding, during its fabrication, a spiral wire to its integral construction, so as to add to its resiliency, when expanded or contracted, to add to its reinforcement as a corrugated tubing, and to further add to the strength of the expandable tubing, for sustained and continuous usage, for some extended length of time.
It is, therefore, the principal object of this invention to provide a length of expandable tubing, which may also be contracted, that may be applied for a variety of purposes.
Another object of this invention is to provide an expansion device that may be hermetically sealed, to function as a float for the user.
Yet another object of this invention is to provide an expandable device where its ends may accept a strap, to allow it to be fastened to the user as a float during swimming, boating, or for other emergency purposes.
Still another object of this invention is to provide an expansion device that may hermetically seal by interconnecting its ends, when functioning as a waist float during usage.
Another object is to provide a float device that may be applied around the neck, and hermetically sealed at its ends, to ensure that the user can maintain his/her head above the water, when applied.
Another object of this invention is to provide an expanding device that can be used as a neck rest, as while driving, on a airplane, or even as a neck brace, during convalescences.
A further object of this invention is to provide an expandable tubing device, of a corrugated style, that may be reinforced with metal to sustain its useful life.
These and other objects may become more apparent to those skilled in the art upon review of the summary of the invention as provided herein, and upon undertaken a study of the description of its preferred embodiment, in view of the drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In referring to the drawings,
FIG. 1 shows the expansion device of this invention as applied around the neck of the user;
FIG. 2 shows the expansion device of this invention, as stretched downwardly upon the user, and then strapped into position when applied as a floatation device;
FIG. 3 shows the expansion device applied around the waist, and hermetically sealed at its ends, to function as a further type of floatation;
FIG. 4 shows an end of the expansion device which may accommodate a seal, when the device is hermetically sealed for functioning as a float;
FIG. 4A shows another end view of the expansion device wherein its seal is a flapper type valve;
FIG. 5 shows an end of the expansion device with a closure, and an eyelet, that allows other fasteners to be secured there through;
FIG. 6 shows a segment of the expansion device, or its corrugated tubing, and how it is reinforced with a metallic, plastic, or other wire to enhance its useful life;
FIG. 7 shows the expansion device, with a pair of turns, as for example when employed as a neck rest;
FIG. 8 shows a similar type of expansion device of FIG. 7, but with a segment of smooth tubing integrated therein and function to comfortably support the neck, during usage as a headrest;
FIG. 9 shows a segment of the expansion device that may be further used as a neck rest;
FIG. 10 shows yet another embodiment for the expansion device; and,
FIG. 11 illustrates another embodiment of the expansion device where one end has a smooth part and the other end has corrugations.
The same reference numerals refer to the same parts throughout the various figures.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
In referring to the figures of the drawings, the various uses and applications of the versatile expansion device of this invention are readily disclosed. Initially, in FIGS. 4-6, the construction and variations upon the structure of the devices are shown, depending upon the application and usage to be made of the expansion device. For example, FIG. 6 shows how the expansion tubing 1 is fabricated generally of a polymer, that is reasonably flexible, and which can be expanded, from a contracted state, where the corrugation rest contiguously against each other, or can be stretched outwardly, into some length, generally as shown in said figure. The expandable covering for the tubing may be of a polymer, whether it be polyethylene, polypropylene, polyurethane, or any other type of flexible polymer sheeting, which can be extruded or molded into the configuration of corrugated tubing. In addition, reinforcement of the form of a metal wire, or polymer wire, as at 2, can be added either at the apex, as at 3, of the spiral tubing, or may also be added, or in lieu thereof, to the valleys, as at 4, to add reinforcement to the expandable tubing, during its manufacture. FIG. 4 shows how the ends of the tubing 1 may be sealed with an end cap 5 where the end cap includes an extension portion 6 having an aperture 7 provided therein. The aperture may be plugged by a stopper 8, when it is desired to hermetically seal the interior of the tubing, when it is to be employed as a flotation device. FIG. 4A shows how a flapper valve 8a may be used in lieu of a stopper to seal the vent cap of the extension portion, after air has been injected into the expansion device. By simply pushing upon the flapper valve, the air may be released from the tubing. An end cap of this type, as noted at 5, can be provided at each end of the tubing, where it may be employed for flotation purposes, quickly hermetically sealed by plugging it, as at 8, to assure its retention of the internal air, to add to the enhanced flotation of the device.
As can be seen in FIG. 5, a modification upon the floatation device is noted. As can be seen, the end of the expansion device 1 is likewise sealed with a cap 9, and integrally extending upwardly from the cap is an eyelet 10 having an aperture 11 provided there through, to function as a fastening means for securement of the expansion device during usage. For example, as can be seen in FIG. 2, the expansion device is therein functioning as a floatation means, and has a strap provided there through. Such a strap may locate through the aperture 11 of the eyelet 10, when securement of the expansion device, when used as a floatation means, is being applied about the user.
Various examples of different uses for the expansion device of this invention can be readily determined upon reviewing the figures of the drawings. For example, in FIG. 1, it can be seen that the expansion device includes a length of the expandable tubing 1, which can be draped about the neck of the wearer, and then at its end includes an extending sleeve 12 and 13, at each end, so as to provide either a neck rest for the user, as noted, or perhaps can be connected, in a manner to be subsequently described, and function as a form of floatation device, for the user, at that location. For example, as can be seen in FIG. 3, the expansion device 1 can be applied around the waist of the user. Its telescoping sleeves 12 and 13 can be interconnected together, by sliding the smaller sleeve within the bigger sleeve, into a tight fit, which becomes hermetically sealed, and thereby can function as a floatation device about the waist of the wearer, since it will be sealed from entrance of water or additional air. The same can be done with the floatation device as shown in FIG. 1, as it is being installed.
As an alternative, the floatation device, and more particularly its expansion means 1 can likewise be draped about the neck of the wearer, in the manner as shown in FIG. 1, and then expanded and pulled down to the vicinity of the waist of the wearer. Then, a strap 14 can located through each of the end caps 15 and 16, through sealed slots provided there through, so that the expansion device will become hermetically sealed, and can function as a floatation device, in the manner of a lifejacket, for the wearer, as can be readily determined.
Other types of uses for this particular invention can be seen in FIGS. 7-10. In most of these instances, the expansion device will be used to function as a neck or head brace, as for example as a means to allow for resting of the head, as upon an airline flight, or for other related uses. For example, as seen in FIG. 7, the expansion device 1 will be a length of the tubing, which can be pulled into an expansive state, as shown, and then turned at the corners 17 and 18, so that the intermediate portion 19 can rest against the neck of the wearer, to function for that purposes, as a headrest, during the taking of a nap, or for just resting in generally, as upon an airline flight, or for use at home. The entire device can be contracted into a short length of unexpanded corrugated tubing, and stored in a purse, or elsewhere, when not in use. But, it can be expanded, into the configuration as shown in FIG. 7, when desired for usage. Further, a cap 9 can be used to seal the tubing, or expansion device, and retain air within the tubing for the comfort of the user. A user can retain much air in the tubing for a rigid headrest or less air in the tubing for a soft, or compressible, headrest. Alternately, the cap can be removed so that the tubing compresses readily and air enters and departs the tubing freely. A stopper 8 or flapper valve 8a can be substituted for the cap 9.
FIG. 8 shows how the intermediate portion 20 in this particular instance can be of an integrally smooth design, so that as the head or neck rest upon it, it will be more comfortable for the user. The intermediate portion 20 has two opposite ends 20a, 20b, that adjoin the corrugated portions. The intermediate portion may have a smooth texture provided as a lining by fabric, soft rubber, EVA foam, and the like. In an alternate embodiment, the ends 20a, 20b are generally sealed so that the intermediate portion does not collapse during usage against the body of a user. Outwardly of the intermediate portion, the corrugated portions can bend, flex, partially collapse, and collapse at the discretion of the user.
In another embodiment, the intermediate portion 20 has its two opposite ends 20a, 20b, that adjoin the corrugated portions. The intermediate portion has a smooth texture provided as a lining by fabric, soft rubber, EVA foam, and the like. The intermediate portion has fluid communication through the remainder of the tubing, or expansion device. As described in FIGS. 4, 4a, stoppers and flapper valves can control the inflow and outflow of air from within the tubing. In this alternate embodiment, at least one end of the tubing, proximate the outer end of a corrugated section, has an opening with a flapper vale 8a upon the interior face of the end. When the tubing is pulled, or expanded lengthwise, air pressure depresses the flapper valve to allow entry of air therein. When the tubing is pushed, or partly compressed, the flapper valve seals the opening and the tubing has some rigidity because of the entrained air. The tubing can be repeatedly pulled and pushed in a pump like action add more air within the tubing, particularly for the intermediate portion. In time, storing of the invention may be required. To compact the invention into a small volume, a user takes a stopper 6 and places it into the opening against the flapper valve 8a and releases the air from within the tubing. The tubing can them be compressed into a compact form for storage.
FIG. 9 shows how the expansion device 1 can be formed having the lower sleeves, as at 21 and 22, wherein 1 may fit within the other, so as to accommodate the expansion device not only as a headrest, as perhaps during airline travel, but in the event that a flotation device is needed, and one sleeve may insert within the other, become hermetically sealed, and instantly be used as a floatation means, should an emergency require such.
Obviously, similar type of flotation device could be used, for example, with children, as they are being trained for swimming, to give them some feeling of security that may help them float upon the surface of the water, while being instructed regarding the art of swimming.
FIG. 10 shows the floatation means 1 of a similar design, but the smooth part of the sleeves, as at 23 and 24 are provided at a different location, during usage. This will allow the head to rest upon the smooth part, when it is turned to the side, and the neck encounters the smooth portions as 23 and 24, during application and usage.
And FIG. 11 shows a floatation means, which may be applied as a headrest, that indicates how the expansion means may include its expansion portion 25 is provided upon one side, while the smooth parts, such as may be applied as a headrest, as at 26, 27, form the remaining portions of the device. It is likely that the smooth parts, for example those placed against the neck and head of a user, may be padded, covered with a soft fabric, or provided with another lining such as soft rubber, polymer, and the like to cushion its usage during application upon a user.
Variations or modifications to this subject matter of this invention may occur to those skilled in the art upon review of the development as provided herein. Such variations, if within the spirit of this invention, and the scope of the development as defined herein, are intend to me encompassed within the subject matter of this invention, as understood. The description of the invention in the preferred embodiment, and its depiction in the drawings, are set forth for illustrative purposes only.
Patent applications in class ARMREST OR HEADREST
Patent applications in all subclasses ARMREST OR HEADREST