Patent application title: EXERCISE AND PLAY HOOP (RAIN HOOP)
Brian D. Kessler (Los Angeles, CA, US)
MAUI TOYS INC.
IPC8 Class: AA63H3302FI
Class name: Amusement devices: toys rotating or having visible rotating portion (e.g., spinning or whirling, not rolling)
Publication date: 2012-08-02
Patent application number: 20120196501
A play and/or exercise hoop is formed by a hollow tube containing hard
particles, wherein the hollow tube has a non-circular internal
cross-section, preferably adjacent flat surfaces, whereby the hard beads
fall from one surface to another as the hoop is rotated about the body,
so as to produce the sound of falling rain.
1. A hoop for rotation about a user, formed of a generally circular
hollow tube of hard material, the hollow tube containing a plurality of
beads therewithin, and the interior of the hoop having a non-circular
cross-section, whereby the sound of rain is provided by the hard beads
moving along the non-circular internal cross-section and moving or
falling from one internal part thereof to another internal part thereof.
2. The hoop of claim 1 formed of hard plastic.
3. The hoop of claim 2 wherein the hard plastic is translucent or transparent.
4. The hoop of claim 1 wherein the non-circular internal cross-section of the hoop comprises a plurality of flat surfaces.
5. A hoop in accordance with claim 4 wherein the non-circular internal cross-section of the hoop comprises 5-7 flat surfaces.
6. The hoop of claim 5 wherein the flat surfaces extend spirally along the interior length of the hoop.
 The present invention relates to play and/or exercise hoops of the
type commonly known as "HULA HOOPS".
DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART
 Play hoops for rotation about the body are widely known, and used for rolling and gyrating about the hips and other parts of the body. These hoops are typically made from a length of plastic tubing having a circular cross-section. The plastic tubing is bent into the length of a circle and the ends are joined to form the hoop. Decoration is commonly provided by covering or wrapping the curved cylindrical surface, e.g. see Kessler U.S. Pat. No. 5,538,454; Kessler U.S. Pat. No. 6,482,136 and Kessler U.S. Pat. No. 6,494,760.
 Such hoops may take other forms as well, noting Roh et al U.S. Pat. No. 6,431,939, and be internally weighted (Kessler '136 and '760 and Roh '939), but such hoops are still formed of tubes having an internal circular cross-section, i.e. an annular profile in cross-section through the interior of the tubing.
 It is also well known to provide a freely flowing material within the hoop, e.g. hard beads, small ball bearings, sand or liquid, e.g. water, or even a mixture of such materials. As the ends of the tube which form the hoop must be joined, it is well known to use a connector plug which is hollow and has a bore of substantial cross-section which permits substantially unrestricted flow of the freely flowing material within the hoop.
SUMMARY OF INVENTION
 The present invention is directed to a play and/or exercise hoop of the general type discussed above, and is characterized by a construction which produces a particular sound when in use, and more particularly the sound of rain falling when the hoop is used by rotation about the body. The unique sound of rain provided by the present invention is achieved primarily by two features in combination, namely (1) the provision of a non-circular internal cross-section of the hoop, and (2) the provision of freely flowing hard particles within the hoop. The unique sound of falling rain is achieved by movement and falling from one internal surface to another of the freely flowing hard particles over the irregular internal surface of the hoop tubing, defined by its non-circular internal cross-section.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF DRAWING
 FIG. 1 is an exterior view of a play and/or exercise hoop in accordance with the present invention.
 FIG. 2 is a cross-section of such a hoop, along lines 2-2 of FIGS. 1 and 3.
 FIG. 3 is a partial exterior view, with the internal configuration shown in broken lines, of the hoop tube of FIGS. 1 and 2.
 FIG. 4 is a partial perspective view of the hoop interior with particulate material therewithin.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS
 A hoop 10 is shown according to the present invention formed of a tube 12 having an internal cross-section of irregular configuration, such as shown in FIGS. 2 and 4 wherein the internal cross section if formed of six flat surfaces 14 in a preferred embodiment of the present invention. In accordance with conventional practice, the ends of the tube 12 are joined together to form the hoop 10 by a connector plug (not shown), wherein the connector plug may optionally be itself hollow so that the particulate material 16 within the tube may optionally flow past the connector plug. In accordance with standard practice, the connector plug has an outer dimension sufficiently close to the internal dimensions of the tube 12 so as to provide a good tight friction fit. Alternatively, or in addition to the friction fit, staples are driven through the tube 12 and the connector plug from the exterior of the tube 12.
 The tube 12 of the hoop 10 is formed of rigid or semi-rigid plastic, extruded polyethylene or polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG) being conventional. The tube 12 is preferably formed of PETG, although other relatively hard plastics such as PVC can be used as well. Preferably, the plastic of the tube 12 of the hoop 10 is transparent or translucent so as that the interior can be seen showing the moving particulate material.
 In a presently preferred cross-sectional embodiment as shown in FIG. 2, the internal diameter of the tube 12 of the hoop 10 is 0.585-0.81 inches, although the range is more desirably 0.30-1.50 inches. Returning to the specific embodiment, the external diameter of the tube 12 of the hoop 10 is 0.75 inches, the thickness of the wall varies in the illustrated embodiment with the maximum thickness being approximately 0.065 inches; and the width of each of the six internal sides of the tube is 0.33 inches. The internal dimensions are only limited by the effect produced, namely the sound created by the particulate material 16 as it moves along the varying interior of the tube 12.
 To facilitate this unique sound, the interior configuration changes along the length of the tube 12, namely around the circumference of the hoop 10. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the internal configuration as shown in FIGS. 2 and 4 rotates in the form of a spiral, with one complete spiral length spanning approximately 11.5 inches in the preferred embodiment. The faceted cross-section coupled with the spiral twist along the interior of the tube 12 of the hoop 10, as best shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, provides unique optical elements as the particulate material e.g. beads 16 travel, along the length of the hoop 10. This channeled effect along the interior of the hoop 10, created by the facets and twists, also helps to slow down the travel of the beads 16, prolonging the sound of rain as the beads strike the surfaces 14.
 It will be understood, however, that the sound desired and provided according to the present invention is not limited to the particular configuration shown in the drawing. For example, instead of the internal configuration shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, there may instead be provided a series of ribs or ridges. Or in the case where there are flat surfaces similar to that shown in FIGS. 2 and 4, the number of flat surfaces can vary, preferably within the range of 5-7 or the surfaces need not be flat and need not all be of the same size. In the embodiment illustrated, one complete spiral spans 11.5 inches, but the length of each spiral and the number of spirals can vary considerably.
 As noted above, the hoop 10 contains a plurality of hard beads 16 which produce the sound of falling rain as they rotate about the interior of the hoop 10 and fall from one internal surface 14 to other such surfaces. The beads 16 are preferably spherical so as to roll more easily, although other shapes may be used so long as the beads 16 are capable of rolling. The beads 16 are preferably formed of hard plastic, although they may be formed of metal or ceramic, so long as the sound of falling rain is capable of being produced by the aforementioned rotation.
 In a presently preferred embodiment, there are approximately 100 glass beads used, these glass beads each being of approximately 3 mm to 5 mm diameter. While the beads 16 are desirably all approximately the same size an shape, this is not essential and different size beads or metal ball bearings may be used.
 Providing the tube 12 of the hoop 10 of clear or translucent plastic also produces an enhanced visual effect in addition to the sound of rain. Because the wall thickness of the hoop 10 varies circumferentially, viewing the beads 16 through the wall gives the appearance that the beads are elongated.
 As shown in FIG. 1, the hoop 10 is preferably fully circular to enhance rotation by the user. The optical and auditory effects produced according to the present invention result entirely from the combination of the hard beads and the internal configuration of the tube 12 of the hoop 10. Thus, any variations in the overall outside circular configuration of the hoop 10 should be kept to a minimum.
 The exterior of the tube 12 is desirably circular in cross-section as illustrated, although this is not essential. Various external configurations of the tube 12 can be used without departing from the present invention. However, for ease of use by the user, it is desirable that at least the hemisphere of the tube 12 facing inwardly in the hoop 10 has a semi-circular configuration.
 The illustrated embodiments are configured with an internal surface of the hoop 10 containing six (6) flat walls 14 as illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 4, and which spiral as shown in FIG. 2. However, as already mentioned other configurations can be provided within the scope of the invention having different internal configurations, so long as the sound of falling rain is produced by the hard beads 16 moving from one location within the hoop to another location. Thus, other means for producing the sound of falling rain as the hoop rotates about the user and the beads move within the hoop include the provision of ridges and/or valleys within the interior of the hoop 10. The provision of such ridges and/or valleys, not shown, also need not be uniform along the internal radius of the hoop tube.
 The foregoing description of the specific embodiments will so fully reveal the general nature of the invention that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily modify and/or adapt for various applications such specific embodiments without undue experimentation and without departing from the generic concept, and, therefore, such adaptations and modifications should and are intended to be comprehended within the meaning and range of equivalents of the disclosed embodiments. It is to be understood that the phraseology or terminology employed herein is for the purpose of description and not of limitation. The means, materials, and steps for carrying out various disclosed functions may take a variety of alternative forms without departing from the invention.
 Thus the expressions "means to . . . " and "means for . . . ", or any method step language, as may be found in the specification above and/or in the claims below, followed by a functional statement, are intended to define and cover whatever structural, physical, chemical or electrical element or structure, or whatever method step, which may now or in the future exist which carries out the recited function, whether or not precisely equivalent to the embodiment or embodiments disclosed in the specification above, i.e., other means or steps for carrying out the same functions can be used; and it is intended that such expressions be given their broadest interpretation.
Patent applications by Brian D. Kessler, Los Angeles, CA US
Patent applications by MAUI TOYS INC.
Patent applications in class ROTATING OR HAVING VISIBLE ROTATING PORTION (E.G., SPINNING OR WHIRLING, NOT ROLLING)
Patent applications in all subclasses ROTATING OR HAVING VISIBLE ROTATING PORTION (E.G., SPINNING OR WHIRLING, NOT ROLLING)