Patent application title: BAREFOOT SHOE
Jörg Peitzker (Mönchengladbach, DE)
IPC8 Class: AA43B312FI
Class name: Boots, shoes, and leggings boots and shoes sandals
Publication date: 2015-11-12
Patent application number: 20150320139
A barefoot shoe with bottom and upper, and with fasteners for fastening
the barefoot shoe on the foot of a person wearing the barefoot shoe, has
a bottom consisting entirely or at least almost exclusively of ring
structures. Preferably, the upper also consists entirely of ring
structures, or the upper has areas consisting at least almost exclusively
of ring structures. A barefoot shoe is thus created by which the feet of
a person wearing the barefoot shoe are, in quick succession, kept wet,
dry, cold, warm, etc., without there being any danger of injury and
without there being any danger of annoying foreign bodies entering the
shoe. The barefoot shoe also has good static friction properties, even on
irregular ground surfaces. The barefoot shoe can be quickly cleaned and
has sufficient hygiene properties. The barefoot shoe is also light and
flexible and can be given an attractive appearance.
21. A barefoot shoe, comprising: a bottom, and an upper, and fasteners for fastening the barefoot shoe to a foot of a person wearing the barefoot shoe, said bottom being configured in one of two ways, a first way in which the bottom is made entirely of ring structures and the fasteners are provided at least partially in areas of the upper located in an area of the arch of the foot when the shoe is worn, a second way in which the bottom includes areas composed in part of ring structures.
22. The barefoot shoe of claim 21, wherein the ring structures are formed so as to be at least partially open.
23. The barefoot shoe of claim 21, wherein the barefoot shoe and the ring structures are constructed such that environmental influences can have a direct effect on the foot of the person wearing the barefoot shoe.
24. The barefoot shoe of claim 21, wherein the upper is composed entirely of ring structures or has areas that at least in part exclusively composed of ring structures.
25. The barefoot shoe of claim 24, wherein the areas of the bottom and the areas of the upper composed of ring structures are constructed so as to continuously transition into each other.
26. The barefoot shoe of claim 25, wherein rings of the ring structures at least in partial areas of the bottom or the upper, or both, comprise at least one of different materials, different sizes and different cross-sectional profiles.
27. The barefoot shoe of claim 25, wherein rings of the ring structures have identical sizes or are made of identical materials, or both.
28. The barefoot shoe of claim 25, wherein rings of the ring structures are made of at least one material selected from metal, plastic and a composite material.
29. The barefoot shoe of claim 21, wherein the ring structures of the bottom comprise grip-enhancing surface structures providing enhanced gripping properties in comparison with gripping properties of the ring structures.
30. The barefoot shoe of claim 21, wherein the ring structures of the bottom comprise surface structures made of natural or synthetic rubber and having a shape of a sole or a shape of a section of a sole are introduced into or applied onto the ring structures, with the surface structures completely or partially covering the bottom area.
31. The barefoot shoe of claim 21, wherein the ring structures of the bottom comprise in at least one of a toe area and the heel area of the barefoot shoe surface structures made of natural or synthetic rubber and introduced into or applied onto the ring structures.
32. The barefoot shoe of claim 21, wherein partial areas of the ring structures comprise additional individual rings which each enclose an overlap region of two interconnected rings and which have an identical or shorter circumference than the interconnected rings.
33. The barefoot shoe of claim 24, wherein the ring structures of at least one of the bottom and the upper comprise at least in partial regions a second ring structure layer, wherein the second ring structure layer is connected with the ring structures by way of additional individual rings.
34. The barefoot shoe of claim 24, wherein the ring structures of at least one of the bottom and the upper are connected with at least one additional woven layer having crossed threads that extend coplanar with the ring structures, for increasing dimensional stability of the ring structures.
35. The barefoot shoe of claim 24, wherein at least one flexible rail made of metal or plastic and having a shape fitting the foot or a leg of the person wearing the shoe is disposed in an area of the ring structures of the upper.
36. The barefoot shoe of claim 35, wherein the at least one flexible rail comprises a ring structure cuff arranged in an end region and extending transversely to a longitudinal direction of the flexible rail in a position of use.
37. The barefoot shoe of claim 21, wherein the fasteners comprise at least one fastener selected from a spring-biased fastening hook, leather, textile, plastics, shoelaces, a strap, a zipper, a stretch material, a Velcro closure, a reinforcement disposed on soles, side areas, heels, tips, arch of the foot and made in part or entirely of metal, plastic, natural rubber and synthetic rubber, a buckle and a snap fastener.
38. The barefoot shoe of claim 21, wherein the bottom is completely or partially formed of a closed material in at least one of an area of the toe, an area of the bunion of the big toe and an area of the heel, whereas at least one adjacent area of the bottom comprises ring structures.
39. The barefoot shoe of claim 21, wherein the bottom is completely or partially formed of ring structures in at least one of an area of the toe, an area of the bunion of the big toe and an area of the heel, whereas at least one adjacent area of the bottom is formed of a closed material.
40. The barefoot shoe of claim 21, further comprising a sock disposed inside the barefoot shoe, wherein the sock is completely closed in an area of the foot or has one or more openings in at least one of a toe area, a midfoot area, an area of the arch of the foot and a heel area.
 The invention relates to a barefoot shoe with a bottom and an upper
and with fasteners for fastening the shoe to the foot of a person wearing
the shoe, and to the use of a shoe as a barefoot shoe.
 Many diseases in the civilized world are caused by improper treatment of the feet and especially to wearing the wrong shoes. It is generally known that walking barefoot or running barefoot strengthens muscles, ligaments and joints, improves motor skills, promotes the sense of balance and prevents injury. The spine and the entire rest of the body also benefit therefrom. Walking barefoot or running barefoot strengthens the immune system, especially in cold weather. When feet are already injured, discomforts can often be better corrected or alleviated by running barefoot than with orthopedic devices.
 Running barefoot is considered extremely healthy and viewed in many areas of daily life as possible and desirable. In principle, one would therefore forego shoes, were it not for the risk of injury caused by scattered objects, debris, broken glass, sharp stones, bottle caps, insects, small animals and the like.
 Against this background, so-called "outdoor shoes" have already been proposed which are intended to give the person wearing such shoes the benefits of walking or running barefoot while at the same time protecting against injury.
 A known outdoor shoe of this type, which can be described rather as a sock than a shoe, has a dimpled rubber sole, which is connected to an upper made of a textile fabric. This outdoor shoe proves particularly problematic when used in wet conditions, since the rubber sole and the fabric cannot give off stored moisture as quickly as desired, and the foot lacks adequate support when wet. This known outdoor shoe is not able to convey the desired barefoot feeling and is thus rather unsuitable as a "barefoot shoe".
 Furthermore, an outdoor shoe formed like a sock is known, wherein the bottom and the upper includes knitwear from a mixture of textile and plastic, and wherein a dimpled sole made of polyester is welded to the bottom thereof. So-called toe compartments for individual toes are provided in the knitwear. This outdoor shoe also conveys to the person wearing it no real barefoot feeling and is also problematic in wet conditions.
 Attempts to use for this purpose outdoor shoes designed for walking on boats and in aquatic environment with holes in the bottom, through which entering water can escape, have shown that the feet of a person wearing these shoes remain wet. This outdoor shoe is thus also unsuitable as a "barefoot shoe".
 Furthermore, so-called swim shoes are known which firmly enclose the wearer's foot with proper size selection. Due to the use of thinner materials, these swim shoes let a person wearing these shoes better feel the ground and also convey a sense of security. Disadvantageously, a person wearing swim shoes tends to sweat profusely and swim shoes also do not last long when used "on land". Moreover, water accumulates in the swim shoes in the presence of moisture and the feet not only stay moist, but downright wet. Swim shoes are therefore also unsuitable for use as a "barefoot shoes".
 Furthermore, an outdoor shoe with a grooved sole made of natural rubber and an upper made of a polyamide stretch fabric is known. When using this outdoor footwear as a "barefoot shoe", the feet disadvantageously sweat quickly and the entering moisture cannot adequately escape. The sole of this outdoor shoe also does not provide adequate support, in particular on slippery surfaces. Overall, this outdoor shoe is therefore also unsuitable for use as a "barefoot shoe".
 U.S. Pat. No. 4,841,577 A discloses various articles of clothing made of chain fabrics, for example long socks made of chain fabrics. Such known chain-fabric socks typically serve to protect against foot injuries, especially in harsh working environments (e.g. when working with chainsaws), and are therefore not designed to be worn like a "barefoot shoe" without additional overshoes and undershoes or socks. Moreover, the chain-fabric socks which have only a very coarse fit that is not tight and does not allow no quick movements, such as walking, running, rock climbing over large distances, because the loose, very heavy material would shake too strongly. Their use is therefore limited exclusively to body protection while working at a fixed location. Since protection of the arch of the foot is of particular importance for the protective effect of such articles of clothing, the known long socks are constructed in the arch area of the foot or instep of a closed chain fabric and more particularly lack fasteners in this area. The design as a closed chain fabric also applies to the bottom. As far as fasteners are provided at all for the chain fabric socks disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,841,577 A, these are located on the upper collar, i.e. already almost in the knee area of a person wearing the long-chain fabric socks designed as long socks.
 It is the object of the present invention to provide a barefoot shoe which encloses the feet of a person wearing the barefoot shoe with a close and tight fit and which lets the person feel in rapid succession wet, dry, cold, warm, etc. without the risk of injury. Accordingly, the shoe should be well ventilated and respond rapidly to changing environmental conditions, adapt to the foot like a "second skin", be usable if possible also during the cold season and firmly fit the foot under all weather conditions. Furthermore, formation of pressure sores, blisters, abrasions or the like should be prevented. Movements of muscles and tendons in the foot should not be hindered by the barefoot shoe in any way. The foot should be reliably protected against injury and should also be protected against intrusion of interfering foreign objects. Furthermore, the barefoot shoe should be as durable as possible despite constant changes between heat, cold, wet and dry. Furthermore, the static friction properties (so-called "grip") of the barefoot shoe should be sufficient, even on variable ground surfaces. The barefoot shoe should be quick to clean and should offer better hygienic properties than other so-called barefoot products. In addition, the barefoot shoe should also be lightweight and flexible and have an attractive appearance.
 The object underlying the invention is attained for a barefoot shoe according to the preamble of claim 1 by the combination of features of the characterizing part of claim 1. Advantageous embodiments and improvements of the invention are apparent from the dependent claims.
 The object is also attained by using as a barefoot shoe a shoe with a bottom and upper as well as with fasteners for fastening the shoe to the foot of a person wearing the footwear, wherein the bottom has areas that are completely or partly composed of ring structures.
 By the characterizing feature of the present invention, according to which a barefoot shoe is provided which has a base and an upper, as well as fasteners for fastening the barefoot shoe on the foot of a person wearing the barefoot shoe, wherein the bottom is made entirely of ring structures or has at least partially areas composed exclusively of ring structures, effects arise on the skin of the feet of a person wearing such a shoe, in particular when used in an "outdoor" setting, that are comparable to or approximate "actually" walking barefoot, because the wearer of the shoe can directly feel environmental influences, such as humidity, temperature (heat, cold), ground conditions and the like.
 A tightly fitting shoe that can be easily to put on and taken off is created with the context of the present invention by at least partially providing the fasteners of a barefoot shoe having a bottom that is completely composed of ring structures in the areas of the upper that are located in the arch of the foot or the insole, when the shoe is worn. In contrast to the known chain-fabric socks designed as long socks, the fact that the fasteners are disposed in the area of the arch of the foot is not disadvantageous for barefoot shoe, since the protection of the arch of the foot is of secondary importance for a barefoot shoe. Rather, it is particularly advantageous for achieving an optimal barefoot effect to arrange fasteners in the area of the arch of the foot, because the ring structures then tightly abut the sole area, so that the shoe is worn directly on the bare foot and is ideally perceived as a "second skin". Within the context of the invention, the shoe can have a larger opening in the area of the arch of the foot much like a ballerina shoe, wherein the fasteners are designed so that an elastic clamping force is applied to the edge of the opening in the manner of a tensioning cable. Alternatively, the fasteners may also be formed as conventional shoelaces or as buckles or straps affixed with Velcro closures.
 Alternatively, within the context of the present invention and independent of the positioning of the fasteners, the bottom may only partly be composed of ring structures. Thus, portions of the bottom, for example in areas of the arch of the foot, which typically have no direct contact with the ground due to the anatomy of the arch of the foot sole, can be realized by using other materials. With such a "mixed" design of the barefoot shoe in the area of the bottom or "sole", the advantages of the ring structures of the invention as well as the advantages of conventional shoe materials may be combined. Of course, the fasteners may also be provided in the area of the arch of the foot even with a shoe that has only partial ring fabric structures in the area of the bottom of the shoe.
 In one advantageous embodiment of the invention, the ring structures are designed to be open, as opposed for example to ring structures vulcanized in a rubber layer which may be useful as penetration protection for nails or the like in the field of clothing articles for workplace protection. Open ring structures may within the scope of the invention also include embodiments where in addition to the ring structures additional substantially permeable sheet members, such as coarse-mesh fabric, are provided.
 Advantageously, the barefoot shoe and the structure of the ring structures are formed so that environmental influences may act directly on the foot of a person wearing the barefoot shoe, i.e. the ergonomics of the barefoot shoe and the ring structures is designed so that the shoes may be worn by a user preferentially without additional intermediate socks disposed between the wearer's foot--although the application of the intermediate socks is possible, as explained below--and without an overshoe. In conjunction with the aforementioned open design of the ring structures, this advantageously provides an almost direct contact between the foot sole and the ground while providing at the same time excellent ventilation and quick drying and removal of particles like pebbles, sand, as well as simultaneously unlimited protection from injury.
 In a particularly advantageous embodiment, the bottom of the barefoot shoe may be made entirely of ring structures and the areas of the upper abutting the bottom, particularly the areas enclosing the toes in the front shoe area and the heel in the rear shoe area, of the person wearing the shoe are formed integral with the ring structures of the bottom and thus also consist of ring structures.
 In principle, the advantages of the present invention can be substantially achieved in that at least a partial region of the bottom is formed as ring structures and the entire barefoot shoe is designed such that these ring structure areas can form an open and/or permeable separating structure between the foot sole and the bottom, i.e. that the shoe can be worn comfortably without extra socks or overshoes. The remaining parts of the shoe, i.e. the other parts of the bottom and the upper can--depending on the specific requirement profiles--either also be constructed of ring structures, or can be made wholly or partly of other materials customarily used for footwear.
 Ring structures within the context of the present invention are to be understood as fine-mesh flexible surface elements in form of a permeable raster which have when loaded by the weight of a person wearing the barefoot shoe rigidly acting (surface-stable) rings that wrap around each other or around central holding elements made, for example, of metal and/or plastic. The rings of the ring structures may be round, polygonal (e.g. 4, 6, 8 corners) or oval.
 Advantageously, with the inventive use of ring structures, the bottom of the barefoot shoe can individually adjust to uneven ground as opposed to solid soles. This provides good retention properties even under difficult ground conditions such as in damp moss growing on roots. Because due to the relatively small ground contact surface of the individual rings of the ring structures and the relatively high weight of the person wearing the shoe, the foot adapts with a high specific pressure to the ground, with the rings of the ring structures pressing for example in the presence of moss growing on roots through to the harder wood, making slipping unlikely--even on an incline.
 A person wearing the shoe immediately feels at every step the properties of the ground as well as differences in temperature and humidity. Yet, the foot is better protected by the ring structures from stings and cuts than in conventional barefoot shoes. Another advantage is that the barefoot shoe can be easily cleaned, for example by rinsing under running water. Experiments have shown that the barefoot shoe according to the invention does not cause sores, abrasions or pressure points on the foot, because although the material makes contact, it causes no permanent friction or constant pressure at discrete locations due to a precise fit.
 Tests have also shown that the desired barefoot sensation when wearing the barefoot shoe of the invention (in particular to natural grounds) comes very close to a "real" barefoot sensation (walking or running without shoes).
 The barefoot shoe according to the invention is permeable to air and therefore well ventilated as a result of completely permeable raster structure of the ring structures. Due to the flexibility of the ring structures, the area of the barefoot shoe in contact with the ground adapts perfectly to the respective ground profile.
 Especially in the cold season, the foot can be protected from the cold, as necessary, by thin socks arranged inside the barefoot shoe and made, for example, of chloroprene rubber or other suitable materials known for example from designs used in orthopedics and rehabilitation settings. An example of such a suitable material is the lining designed for the care of diabetes patients with the product designation. Diatex from the company Erkodent Erich Kopp GmbH (DE).
 In certain situations, an additional sock made of, for example, chloroprene rubber or other suitable materials may be pulled over the barefoot shoe. This may be useful in situations where the adhesion of the ring structures on certain, in particular artificially created surfaces, such as polished granite, is to be improved without losing the additional massage effect.
 The barefoot shoes according to the invention also have good slip resistance properties, to particular on natural soil, because the rings of the ring structures rise slightly at each ground contact, so that the remaining, comparatively small contact area with the ground results in a high surface pressure, preventing slipping.
 The design of the rings of the ring structures can be chosen with respect to both the ring connections and the number of rings so that, for example, thorny brambles or nettles have no chance of touching the foot of the person wearing the barefoot shoe. While dust particles can generally enter the barefoot shoe, they are then, so to speak, "screened" by the interstices in the fabric of the ring structures, and are subsequently pushed out again by the counterpressure of the foot. Due to the small openings remaining between the rings of the ring structures, only particles having correspondingly small dimensions are able to reach the skin of the foot. However, these particles are not irritating and are visible only when the shoe is taken off. The ring structures used for the barefoot shoe according to the invention are durable and easily withstand changes between hot and cold, dry and wet, or the like. After contact with moisture, the foot is again dry after a few steps. When walking through a puddle of water, the foot of a person wearing the barefoot shoe is pleasantly cooled and is soon thereafter dry again. As a result of the open structure of the ring structures and their permeability, the desired environmental effects when running barefoot have thus a direct effect an on the foot of the person wearing the barefoot shoe, as is otherwise the case only when actually running or walking barefoot.
 Advantageously, the barefoot shoe according to the invention is also flexible owing to its ring structure, and can be formed into virtually any desired shape for storage, transport, or the like of the barefoot shoe and hence takes up much less space than conventional shoes.
 The ring structures themselves can have individual rings which are directly hooked together or are hooked into a central retaining element. Suitable materials may be selected from the group of metals, metal alloys, the (optionally modified) polymers, fiber materials or composites. Specific examples of suitable materials are steel and steel alloys, aluminum or aluminum alloys, titanium/stainless steel or corresponding alloys, silver/gold, brass and brass alloys, copper and copper alloys (including bronze), hard plastics, fiber glass, carbon fiber or aramide.
 When metal rings are employed, the rings may be welded or soldered. When the rings are made of plastic, they may be fused or bonded. The number of rings hooked together depends on the particular application and may be varied. Preferably, the ring structure has a plurality of interconnected raster elements, wherein each raster element has preferably four rings, which are hooked to a common coupling ring. The individual raster elements are connected to one another in that the aforementioned four or more rings are each hooked into correspondingly formed central retaining elements configured as coupling rings or as differently designed central retaining elements of additional suitably formed raster elements.
 Ring structures within the context of the present invention include flexible structures referred to as so-called metal ring braids or as a so-called "flexible scale braids", where a number of elements called "scales" or "capsules" are interconnected by hinged rings. The scales or capsules each have closed flat sides and rings hooked to edge regions of the scales or capsules. For example, for scales or capsules having octagonal flat sides, four rings are each hooked in respective opposite edge regions and form together with the respective scale or capsule a raster element, which is connected with the correspondingly designed further raster elements in that each of these four rings is hooked to edge regions of four additional scales or capsules. The scales or capsules have through-openings disposed between the scales and capsules through which the desired environmental influences when running barefoot can reach the foot of a person wearing the barefoot shoe.
 When using a ring structure on the bottom, scales or capsules with bottom-side structures (so-called "grip support") may be used as a central retaining element or as central retaining elements.
 The bottom of the barefoot shoe can--depending on the design--have areas with fewer rings or areas with additional rings of different orientation. Such measures can affect the "grip" behavior of the barefoot shoe.
 Ring structures made of metal have the advantage of being particularly resistant compared to ring structures made of other materials. Ring structures made of metal are particularly suitable for use in areas with high mechanical stresses (e.g., changing terrain, hard ground, steep inclines and the like). Metal-ring structures protect particularly well against injury.
 Ring structures made of plastic have the advantage of being lighter than ring structures made of metal and also to be more flexible. Ring structures made of plastic are preferred when used in applications with low mechanical stress (meadows, beaches, soft ground, low risk of injury and the like). Barefoot shoes with plastic ring structures have a high wearing comfort.
 Preferred dimensions of the rings of the inventive ring structures may be, for example:
 Outside diameter of the ring: between 2 mm and 7 mm, wire diameter of the ring: between 0.4 mm and 1.25 mm. In a particularly preferred embodiment, ring structures made of stainless steel are used. The rings have outside diameters of 4.0 mm, and inside diameters of 2.9 mm. The wire diameter is 0.55 mm.
 Shape and construction of the barefoot shoe according to the invention are variable: many variations are conceivable between the shape of a so-called footie or lightweight ballerina shoe and the shape of a high-necked, optionally additionally reinforced outdoor shoe, also in the shape of a boot above the ankle. The barefoot shoe may also be designed as a simple stretch stocking (with toe compartments or without toe compartments). Toe compartments are useful, for example, when the barefoot shoe is subject to special requirements (for example, climbing requirements).
 Fasteners for fastening the shoe on the foot of a person wearing the shoe can be designed in a conventional manner. Barefoot shoes according to the invention may also include reinforcements and/or additional elements for increasing the skid resistance (so-called "grip-improvement"), and also elements for cushioning, insulation and the like.
 For example, spring-biased fastening hooks may be provided as fasteners for fastening the ring structures, by means of which continuous attachment in correspondingly mounted eyelets and the ring fabrics can be performed. However, the fasteners may also have a combination of materials known from conventional footwear, such as leather, textile fabrics, plastics, ribbons, laces, straps, zippers, stretch fabrics, Velcro closures, partial or full reinforcements made of metal, plastic or rubber and rubber reinforcements on soles, side areas, heels, tips, arch of the foot, etc., or even buckles and/or snap fasteners.
 In an advantageous embodiment, the bottom of the barefoot shoe may be made wholly or partly of a closed material in the area of the big toe bunion and/or in the heel area and/or in the toe area, whereas ring structures are provided in at least one adjacent bottom area. By using conventional soles at least partially in the areas of the primary load-bearing anatomical areas of the sole, the conventional sole areas which may also have shock absorption properties are operational essentially on hard, smooth surfaces, such as asphalt or marble. Conversely, on softer, pliant grounds, e.g. in sand, larger areas of the foot sole tend to be in contact with the ground, providing a more intense specific barefoot sensation. Such a shoe thus practically automatically adapts to the respective ground.
 Alternatively, the material distribution can also be reversed, for example to provide ring structures for softer grounds in the bunion areas and to protect at the same time the more sensitive midfoot area via continuous sole portions.
 Exemplary embodiments of the invention will be explained below with reference to the drawings. The drawings show in:
 FIG. 1a a side view of a barefoot shoe according to the invention in the shape of a ballerina shoe;
 FIG. 1b a plan view of the shoe of FIG. 1a;
 FIG. 1c a bottom view of the shoe of FIG. 1a;
 FIG. 1d a view of the heel region of the shoe shown in FIG. 1 in an enlarged scale;
 FIG. 2 a view of another embodiment of the shoe according to the invention;
 FIG. 3 a representation of a detail of an embodiment of a ring structure;
 FIG. 4 a schematic representation of another embodiment of the ring structure;
 FIG. 5 a schematic representation of another embodiment of the ring structure;
 FIGS. 6a to c representations of possible cross-sectional shapes of the rings of the ring structure;
 FIGS. 7a to d schematic representations of the rail-like reinforcements the ring structure of other embodiments of the shoe according to the invention;
 FIG. 8a a schematic representation of another embodiment with an embodiment of the fastener;
 FIG. 8b a representation corresponding to FIG. 8a for another embodiment;
 FIG. 8c a representation corresponding to FIG. 8a for another embodiment;
 FIG. 8d a representation corresponding to FIG. 8a for another embodiment of the invention;
 FIG. 8e a representation corresponding to FIG. 8a for another embodiment of the invention;
 FIG. 8f a representation corresponding to FIG. 8a for another embodiment of the invention;
 FIG. 9 a schematic representation of a fastener abutting the ring structure area in an embodiment in the form of spring-biased hooks;
 FIG. 10 a plan view of a raster element of an embodiment of metal fabrics as a flexible scale mesh;
 FIG. 11 a schematic cross-sectional view of a detail of the ring structures forming the bottom, with a grip-enhancing surface structure;
 FIG. 12 a top view of the arrangement shown in FIG. 11;
 FIG. 13 a schematic view of the bottom portion of an embodiment of barefoot shoe with a representation of a possible arrangement of the surface structure of FIG. 11 and FIG. 12;
 FIG. 14 a representation of a portion of a ring structure with additional individual rings provided in partial areas;
 FIG. 15 a representation of a ring structure portion having a second ring structure layer in partial areas;
 FIG. 16 a representation of a ring structure portion, which is connected with an additional woven layer having crossed threads extending in the direction of the plane of the ring structure;
 FIG. 17 a plan view of a partial area of another embodiment of the ring structure;
 FIG. 18 a side view of FIG. 10 in an enlarged scale;
 FIG. 19 a side view of another embodiment in a representation according to FIG. 18;
 FIG. 20 a side view of another embodiment in a representation according to FIG. 18;
 FIGS. 21 a, b schematic cross-sectional views of ring arrangements with anti-slip tendency to be used for ring structures within the context of the invention;
 FIG. 22 a schematic representation of a stitching technique for coupling ring structures and other surface structures;
 FIG. 23 a schematic representation of a connection of ring structures and other materials by vulcanization;
 FIG. 24a, b schematic representations of barefoot shoes with ring structures with additional surface structures in the heel and toe areas;
 FIG. 25a, b schematic representations of barefoot shoes with only partially arranged ring structures with surface structures lacking a ring structure in the heel and toe areas;
 FIG. 26 a view from the sole side of a barefoot shoe that is partially open in the sole area, with ring structures disposed only in the bunion area and the heel area;
 FIGS. 27a to c different embodiments of barefoot shoes with different upper configurations and fasteners, and
 FIGS. 28a to c representations of a barefoot shoe with inner socks partially surrounding the foot and having exemplary recesses.
 A barefoot shoe shown in FIGS. 1a to 1d in the shape of a Ballerina shoe according to the present invention includes a bottom 1 and an upper 2. The upper edge of the upper 2 (as can be seen in the arch of the foot or the instep area) has a fastener 3 with a closure strap 5 inserted into a circumferential channel 4 and being provided at the ends of 6 and 7 with button-like reinforcements which prevent the closure strap from slipping out. An adjustable and lockable closure device 8 is disposed in the heel area.
 Both the bottom 1 and the upper 2 are entirely made of ring structures. The ring structures of the bottom 1 and the upper 2 are formed so as to transition into one another.
 A person wearing the barefoot shoe according to FIGS. 1a to 1d preferably on bare feet makes contact with the ground by way of the foot soles and the areas of the foot adjacent to the foot soles exclusively through the ring structures. As already mentioned, this has for the person wearing the shoe the effect of running barefoot, albeit without the risks involved in "actually" running barefoot. In addition, the foot undergoes due to the action of the ring structures a foot reflex zone massage, which rejuvenates, relaxes and activates important self-healing processes of the body.
 FIG. 2 shows another embodiment, wherein the (unillustrated) foot of a person wearing the shoe can be surrounded by a barefoot shoe 9 in form of a stocking. The bottom of the shoe 9 consists here also of ring structure to which ring structure areas 10 enclosing a portion of the upper are connected without a transition. The foot of the person wearing the shoe is here also enclosed in the adjacent, upwardly connected region by the ring structure 11, which is held in place by straps 12 and 13. The top edge of the ring structure area 10 is held in place by a strap 14, as can be seen area of the arch of the foot or the instep area.
 FIG. 3 shows a section of a ring structure 15 that can be used according to the invention. The ring structure 15 is composed of individual interconnected rings, wherein respective four rings 16, 17, 18 and 19 are each hooked into a common coupling ring 20. The coupling ring 20 in conjunction with the four rings 16 to 19 forms a raster element. The rings 16, 17, 18 and 19 form at the same time coupling rings of adjacent raster elements, into which the respective four rings are hooked, etc.
 FIG. 4 and FIG. 5 show additional possible embodiments. For example, coupling rings 21 and 22 of equal size and arranged in parallel may be provided, into each of which rings 23 to 28 are hooked.
 According to FIG. 5, coupling rings 29 and 30 are provided into which the rings 31 to 36 are hooked.
 As described in more detail further below with reference to FIG. 14 and FIG. 18, the ring structure may in partial areas also have additional individual rings, each enclosing the overlap region of two interconnected rings and having an equal or shorter circumference than these rings.
 Furthermore, as described in more detail below with reference to FIG. 15, the (first) ring structures of the bottom and the upper may at least in partial areas have a second ring structure layer extending parallel to the ring structures, wherein the second ring structure layer is interconnected with the (first) ring structures by way of additional individual rings.
 As shown in FIGS. 6a to 6c, the cross-sections of the rings may be designed differently. The ring cross-section according to FIG. 6a is round, according to FIG. 6b hexagonal, and according to FIG. 6c oval. In addition, the rings may have different shapes (e.g. round, oval, polygonal and the like).
 The bottom and upper of the barefoot shoes according to the invention shown in FIGS. 7a to 8e are largely composed of ring structures, which are not marked separately for ease of illustration. The shoe 37 shown in FIG. 7a has a rail 38 made of metal or plastic, which is flexible and serves to stabilize the portion of the upper. A differently designed and differently arranged rail 39 is provided in the top region of the upper of a shoe 40 illustrated in FIG. 7b.
 As evident from FIGS. 7c and 7d, the ring structures can be stabilized and fastened on the foot 41 of a person wearing the respective shoe 42 or 43 by providing cuffs 44 and 45, which may also be in the form of ring structures. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 7c and FIG. 7d, the cuffs 44 or 45 are disposed in the upper end portions of the flexible rails 46, 47, 48, 49 stabilizing the ring structures of the top region of the upper.
 The barefoot shoe 50 schematically illustrated in FIG. 8a has a fastener (as can be seen, located in the area of the arch of the foot or in the instep area) formed as a lacing arrangement 51 with a shoelace 52 and a schematically illustrated top closure device 53 which may be designed with or without a lock.
 The other shoe 54 illustrated in FIG. 8b has also a fastener formed as a lacing arrangement 51' (as evident, located in the area of the arch of the foot or in the instep area) and a closure 53', which may be designed with or without a lock.
 The barefoot shoe 55 according to the invention schematically illustrated in FIG. 8c has a fastener formed as a Velcro fastener 56, 57 which is also arranged in the area of the arch of the foot or the instep area. The same applies to the barefoot shoe 58 schematically illustrated in FIG. 8d, which has a fastener formed as a Velcro fastener 56', 57'.
 FIG. 8e shows another barefoot shoe 59 designed according to the invention, wherein a stretch fabric 60 is provided as a fastener, which is also arranged in the area of the arch of the foot or the instep area. A fastener constructed as a stretch fabric 60' is also provided in the additional barefoot shoe 61 illustrated in FIG. 8f.
 FIG. 9 shows schematically rings of the ring structure portion 15', to which a holder 63 having a hook area 64 with a plurality of hooks 65, 66, 67, 68 is connected by way of a spring system 62 attached to the edge of the ring structure area. The arrangement shown in FIG. 9 may form part of a fastener for fastening a barefoot shoe according to a person wearing the barefoot shoe. For fastening, the hooks 65 to 68 can be hooked to an adjacent ring structure area or eyelets provided there.
 FIG. 10 shows a plan view of a raster element of a metal fabric in an embodiment as a flexible scale fabric. An element 69 referred to as a "scale" or "capsule" has closed flat sides, which are delimited by an octagon. Rings 74, 75, 76, 77 are hooked into respective opposite edge portions 70, 71, 72, 73. The illustrated raster element is connected with other correspondingly designed raster elements by hooking the rings 74, 75, 76, 77 into corresponding edge portions of other (unillustrated) scales or capsules that have a similar appearance as the scale or capsule 69.
 FIG. 11 shows schematically a portion of the ring fabric 15, on which a grip-enhancing surface structure 78 (shown in FIG. 12 in plan view) is attached by hook elements 79, 80.
 FIG. 13 shows schematically options for incorporating the grip-enhancing surface structure 78 in the ring structures distributed in the bottom area of a barefoot shoe. Such surface structures can be attached on the underside of the bottom as well as on the inside of the bottom of the barefoot shoe.
 FIG. 14 shows a portion of ring structures 15 wherein additional individual rings 81, 82 are provided in partial areas. The individual rings 81, 82 each enclose the overlap region of two interconnected rings 15a, 15b of the ring structures 15 and have an equal or shorter circumference than the rings 15a, 15b.
 FIG. 15 shows a portion of ring structures 15, which have a second ring structure layer 83 has in a partial region, of which rings 84, 85, 86 are shown. The second ring structure layer 83 is connected to the ring structures 15 via additional individual rings 87, 88, 89, 90.
 FIG. 16 shows a portion of ring structures 15, which is connected with an additional woven layer 91 extending in a direction of the ring structure 15 and having crossed threads 92, 93 to increase the dimensional stability of the ring structures.
 FIG. 17 shows a coupling ring 20' with rings 16', 17', 18', 19' hooked to the coupling ring 20', wherein a respective further ring 94 is hooked to the rings 16' and 17' and a respective further ring 95 is hooked to the rings 18', 19', respectively.
 FIG. 18 shows a side view of FIG. 10.
 FIGS. 19 and 20 show that the capsules or scales 69' and 69'' may have "gripping aids" 96 or 97 in the area of the bottom.
 FIGS. 21a and 21b show in a schematic sectional view ring structures wherein by meshing of two rows of rings 100, 100', 101, 101' shown in FIG. 21a, which are alternately aligned relative to each other by about 90°, an overall imbricated structure is created which results in a particularly well gripping structure of the ring fabric, which can at the same time also generate stronger massaging effect in the foot sole area. The thickness d and the ring spacing a at the surface can be set to different values by selecting different diameters of the alternately used rings 100, 101, 100', 101'.
 FIG. 22 shows a schematic representation of a stitching technique for coupling ring structures with other surface structures, such as an outer material. Two such surface structures 102, 102' with sandwiched ring structures 100, 101 are stitched together with a thread 103 that alternately pierces the gaps between the rings and the surface structure.
 An alternative is schematically shown in FIG. 23, where a portion of the rings 100, 101 is molded or vulcanized in the surface structure 104 to be connected.
 FIGS. 24a and 24b show schematically barefoot shoes according to the invention wherein a toe area 108, an insole area 107, a heel portion 106 and a heel portion 105 are composed of ring structures; the remaining areas (not shown) are made of other materials. As shown in FIG. 24a in a kind of exploded view, the ring structures in the highly stressed toe areas and heel areas may additionally be provided with caps 106', 108' made of a closed material, which provide extended mechanical protection from injury to the particularly exposed parts of the foot in the walking direction, for example in the event of collisions with rocks, etc. The caps 106', 108' can be arranged on the outside in relation to the ring fabric, as shown, and/or may be arranged on the inside or intimately connected with the ring fabric by vulcanization and the like.
 In an alternative embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 25a and 25b, the more stressed toe portions 108' and the heel portions 106' may be made exclusively of a conventional impervious material, and the area of the arch of the foot 107 and the heel area 105 may be made of a ring fabric.
 FIGS. 25a and 25b illustrate possible exemplary embodiments of a barefoot shoe, wherein the parts of the sole that for anatomical reasons carry the main load, especially the big toe bunion and the heel area and possibly the toe area, are completely or partially supported by a conventional sole, whereas ring structures are provided in at least one adjacent sole area. This not only ensures that the foot is well ventilated and protected from injury, but also ensures that essentially the conventional sole areas are used, which may also have, for example, shock absorption properties, on hard and slippery surfaces, such as asphalt. On the other hand, larger parts of the sole of the foot tend to come into contact with the ground on softer, pliant surfaces, such as on sand, so that the specific barefoot feeling is enhanced here. Such shoe therefore adapts quasi automatically to the respective ground.
 FIG. 26 shows a barefoot shoe sandal in a bottom view, wherein ring tissue structures 111, 112 make contact only with the bunion and heel areas of a foot having the reference numeral 110 on the side of the sole, which are surrounded at their edges by conventional materials 111', 112'. The arch area of the sole and the toe area remain free in this embodiment.
 FIGS. 27a to 27c illustrate various embodiments of barefoot shoes according to the invention with sole areas consisting of continuous ring structures and different material designs for the upper and fasteners.
 FIG. 27a shows a shoe with a fastener, which is configured as a cord encircling the top of the shoe and which can be tightened with a cord stopper 113.
 FIG. 27b shows a classic laced shoe, whereas fastening in the barefoot shoe shown in FIG. 27c is performed with Velcro straps.
 In the barefoot shoe illustrated in FIGS. 28a-c, a sock 115 that only partially encloses the foot and is made of a chloroprene rubber (in Germany known under the brand name "Neopren®") is provided as a support layer underneath the otherwise ballerina-like constructed ring fabric shoe (see FIGS. 1a and 1b).
 This "partial sock" 115 is in the representation of FIGS. 28a-c designed to be open in the midfoot and heel area. An open area may alternatively or in additionally also be provided in the toe area. This variant provides an excellent barefoot feeling with simultaneously enhanced wear comfort. The material of the socks prevents, among other things, irritation of the skin or at the pressure points in the area of the arch of the foot caused by the fasteners in that area; in addition, in the front of the shoe, the tips of the toes, especially the toenails, are protected from entanglement with the ring fabrics.
LIST OF REFERENCE SYMBOLS
 1 bottom
 2 upper
 3 fastener
 4 channel
 5 closure strap
 6, 7 ends
 8 heel-side closure device
 9 sock-like barefoot shoe
 10 sole-side ring structure areas
 11 upper-side ring structure areas
 12, 13, 14 straps
 15, 15', 15 a/b ring structure area
 16, 17, 18, 19 rings
 16', 17', 18', 19' rings
 20, 20', 21, 22 coupling rings
 23-28 rings
 29, 30 coupling rings
 31-36 rings
 37, 40, 42, 43 barefoot shoes
 38, 39 rails
 41 foot
 44, 45 cuff
 46, 47, 48, 49 flexible rails
 50, 54, 55 barefoot shoes
 51, 51' laced closure
 52 shoelaces
 53, 53' closure device
 59, 61 barefoot shoes
 56, 57, 56', 57' Velcro fasteners
 60, 60' stretch fabric
 62 spring system
 63 Holder
 64 hook field
 65, 66, 67, 68 hooks
 69, 69', 69'' scales/capsules
 71, 71, 72, 73 edge portions
 74, 75, 76, 77 rings
 78 surface structure
 79, 80 hook elements
 81, 82 additional individual rings
 83 second ring structure layer
 87, 88, 89, 90 additional individual rings
 92, 93 crossed threads
 94, 95 additional rings
 96, 97 gripping aids
 100, 100' ring structures
 101, 101' ring structures
 102, 102' surface structure
 103 thread
 104 surface structure
 105 heel bone area
 106, 106' heel region
 107 sole arch area
 108, 108' toe area
 110 foot
 111, 112 ring structures
 111', 112' enclosure areas
 113 cord stopper
 115 sock
Patent applications in class Sandals
Patent applications in all subclasses Sandals