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Title:
Self-inflating mattress
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A self-inflating mattress includes a resilient, air pressure adjustable, self-inflating foam core and a flexible, airtight covering that encloses the core. One or more drain valves extend through the covering and are communicably connected an interior of the mattress. The valves are opened for exhausting air from and at least partially collapsing the core and for allowing a core that is at least partially collapsed to draw in air and expand. The valves are closed for maintaining a selected air pressure within the core. A vacuum unit may be sealably interengaged with a valve to exhaust air from the mattress and deflate the foam core.


Inventors:
Giori, Gualtiero G. (Cape Coral, FL, US)
Giori, Janine (Cape Coral, FL, US)
Application Number:
09/800752
Publication Date:
10/03/2002
Filing Date:
03/07/2001
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/420
International Classes:
A47C27/08; (IPC1-7): A47C27/18; A47C27/14
View Patent Images:
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Attorney, Agent or Firm:
William, Noonan E. (Post Office Box 07338, Fort Myers, FL, 33919, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A self-inflating mattress comprising: a body supporting member that includes a resilient, air pressure adjustable, self-inflating foam core and a flexible, airtight covering that encloses said core; valve means connected communicably to said core and extending through said covering, said valve means being opened for exhausting air from and at least partially collapsing said core, and for allowing a core that is at least partially collapsed to draw in air and expand, said valve means being closed for maintaining a selected air pressure within said core; and a hydrophobic element attached to and extending across an inner end of said valve for permitting the passage of air but restricting the passage of liquids therethrough.

2. The mattress of claim 1 in which said covering includes upper and lower sections that are interconnected by a seam that peripherally surrounds said body supporting member.

3. The mattress of claim 1 in which said core portion includes a thickness of at least 4″, a length of at least 72″ and a width of at least 36″, at least when said foam core is in an inflated condition.

4. The mattress of claim 1 in which said core portion includes an open-celled foam.

5. The mattress of claim 1 further including vacuum means having a suction inlet that is sealably engagably with said body supporting portion and that communicates with said valve means for exhausting air from said foam core through said valve means when said valve means are open to at least partially collapse said core.

6. A self-inflating mattress comprising: a body supporting member that includes a resilient, air pressure adjustable, self-inflating foam core and a flexible, airtight covering that encloses said core; valve means connected communicably to said body supporting portion through said covering and extending through covering, said valve means being open for exhausting air from and at least partially collapsing said core, and for allowing a core that is at least partially collapsed to draw in air and expand, said valve means being closed to maintain a selected air pressure within said core; and vacuum means having a suction inlet for communicably receiving said valve means and sealably engaging said body supporting portion about said valve means whereby opening said valve means and operating said vacuum means exhausts air from said body supporting portion through said valve means to at least partially collapse said core.

7. The mattress of claim 6 in which said core includes an open-celled foam.

8. The mattress of claim 7 in which said body supporting portion includes a thickness of approximately 4″, a length of at least of 72″ and a width of at least 36″.

9. A method of deflating a self-inflating mattress, which mattress includes a body supporting portion having a resilient, air pressure adjustable, self-inflating foam core, a flexible, airtight covering that encloses said core, and valve means connected communicably to an interior of said body supporting portion and extending through said covering, which valve means are opened for exhausting air from and at least partially collapsing the core and for allowing the core that is at least partially collapsed to draw in air and expand, the valve means being closed for maintaining a selected air pressure within said core, said method comprising: opening the valve engaging a suction inlet of a vacuum pump with the valve such that the suction inlet receives said valve and sealably engages the body supporting member about the valve; and operating the vacuum pump to exhaust air from the interior of said body supporting member through the valve to at least partially deflate said core.

10. The mattress of claim 7 further including a hydrophobic element that is engaged with an extends across an inner end of said valve for allowing air to pass therethrough and for restricting the passage of liquids therethrough.

11. A method of adjusting the pressure in a self-inflating mattress, which mattress includes a body supporting member that has a resilient, air pressure adjustable, self-inflating foam core and a flexible, airtight covering that encloses said core, and a valve connected communicably to said core and extending through said covering, the valve being opened for exhausting air from and at least partially collapsing said core, and for allowing the core that is at least partially collapse to draw in air and expand, the valve being closed for maintaining the selected air pressure within the core, said method comprising: placing a human body upon an upper surface of said body supporting member with the core in a fully inflated condition wherein the core is at least 4″ thick; opening the valve and allowing air within the core to be exhausted through the valve in a gradual manner; and closing the valve before the core is fully deflated such that an impression of the person's body is formed in said body supporting member.

12. A method of adjusting the pressure in a self-inflating mattress, which mattress includes a body supporting member that has a resilient, air pressure adjustable, self-inflating foam core and a flexible, airtight covering that encloses the core, and a valve connected communicably to the core and extending through the covering, said valve being opened for exhausting air from and at least partially collapsing the core, and for allowing the core that is at least partially collapse to draw in air and expand, the valve being closed for maintaining the selected air pressure within the core, said method comprising: placing a human body upon an upper surface of the body supporting member with the core in a fully inflated condition wherein the core is at least 4″ thick; opening the valve and allowing air within the core to be exhausted through the valve in a gradual manner; and closing the valve before the core is fully deflated such that an impression of the person's body is formed in the body supporting member.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to a pressure adjustable, self-inflating mattress and to a technique for rapidly and effectively deflating the mattress so that it may be conveniently stored and transported.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Various self-inflating and pressure adjustable mattresses have been developed. See for example, Lea et al., U.S. Pat. No. 3,872,525, Nissen, U.S. Pat. No. 5,023,133, Bridgens, U.K. Patent No. 984,604 and my previous U.S. Pat. No. 6,038,722. To date, these devices have been particularly designed for outdoor and recreational use. None of the self-inflating mattresses or cushions is suitable for use as a conventional bedroom mattress. For example, the Lea product is very thin and employed primarily as a camping mat. It is difficult to successfully adjust the pressure in the Lea mattress or to provide for desired levels of comfort because of the relative thinness of the item. If a user is lays upon the Lea mattress with the valve open, the foam cushion fully deflates almost immediately. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to adjust the pressure level in either this or the other known products.

[0003] Pressure adjustability is highly desirable in mattresses intended primarily for bedroom use. People have widely varying comfort levels and require differing degrees of mattress firmness/softness. To date, however, self-inflating mattresses have not be used in indoor bedding applications. A likely reason for this fact is that the mattress for a conventional bed is typically much thicker than the standard self-inflating mattresses. In order to provide the needed support and comfort levels desired by most persons, a bedroom mattress should have a thickness of at least 4″-5″ and preferably 6″-7″. To date, this degree of thickness has not been conducive to the use of the self-inflating valve used in most available pressure adjustable mattresses. It would be extremely difficult, if not virtually impossible for the average individual to deflate a foam pad having the size and thickness of a normal bedroom mattress. For example, a twin mattress typically measures approximately 39½″×74″; a full mattress measures approximately 74″×54½″ and a queen mattress has a size of approximately 74″×60½″. Attempting to fold a foam mattress with these dimensions as well as a thickness of 6″-7″ would be incredibly difficult, tedious and time consuming. It is likely two or more individuals would be needed to deflate the mattress. Accordingly, to date, there do not appear to be any self-inflating mattresses available for indoor bedroom use.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

[0004] It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a self-inflating mattress that is uniquely suited for use as an indoor bedroom mattress.

[0005] It is a further object of this invention to provide a self-inflating mattress having the size and thickness of a conventional bedroom mattress, but which may be partially or fully deflated in a quick and convenient manner by a single person and with very little time, effort and exertion.

[0006] It is a further object of this invention to provide a self-inflating mattress that may be quickly and conveniently pressure adjusted to provide an accurate and comfortable firmness custom designed for the individual user.

[0007] It is a further object of this invention to provide a self-inflating mattress that may be quickly and conveniently collapsed, stored and transported when required.

[0008] It is a further object of this invention to provide a self-inflating mattress that is quick, convenient and virtually effortless to assemble.

[0009] It is a further object of this invention to provide a self-inflating mattress that is extremely water resistant and functions as a flotation device.

[0010] This invention results from a realization that a self-inflating mattress having the thickness of a standard bedroom mattress (e.g. 6″-7″) is uniquely able to be pressure adjusted so that the user can set the firmness, softness for his or her own individual requirements. It is further recognition of this invention that a self-inflating mattress having the size of a standard bedroom mattress can be practically, quickly and almost effortlessly deflated by engaging the suction inlet of a conventional vacuum pump with a valve of the self-inflating mattress and operating the pump to exhaust air from the mattress through the valve.

[0011] This invention features a pressure adjustable mattress including a body supporting member that has a resilient, air pressure adjustable, self-inflating foam core and flexible, airtight covering that encloses the core. There are valve means extending through the covering and connected communicably to an interior of the body supporting member. The valve means are opened for exhausting air from and at least partially collapsing the core and for allowing the core that is at least partially collapsed to draw in air and expand. The valve means are closed for maintaining a selected air pressure within the core. A hydrophobic element may be engaged with and extend across an inner end of the valve for transmitting air and restricting the passage of fluid therethrough. A vacuum pump having a suction inlet may be engaged with the valve by introducing the valve into the suction inlet and sealably engaging the suction inlet a the side surface of the body portion surrounding the valve. The vacuum pump is operated to exhaust air from the interior of the body portion through the valve and at least partially deflate the foam core.

[0012] In a preferred embodiment, the body portion has the dimensions of a standard bedroom mattress. The foam core may have a thickness of approximately 4″-7″. The mattress may have a length of approximately 72″-74″ and a width of at least 39.5″ (twin bed) -60.6″ (queen bed). The foam core may comprise an open-cell foam. The covering may constitute nylon or other synthetic material. A strap and buckle or other attachment means may be employed to secure the deflated cushion in a rolled-up condition.

[0013] This invention also features various methods of adjusting or deflating the body supporting member. In one method, the suction inlet of a standard vacuum pump is sealably interengaged with the side wall of the body supporting member such that the valve is received by the suction inlet. The vacuum pump is then operated to at least partially exhaust air from the foam core and thereby the interior of the body supporting member. In another method according to this invention, the firmness/softness of the body supporting portion is adjusted. A person lies upon the mattress and the valve is open such that mattress partially deflates. When a desired contour/firmness is achieved, the user closes the valve. The partially deflated foam core provides the body supporting member with a desired firmness/softness and a custom impression of the user's body is formed in the body supporting member.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0014] Other objects, features and advantages will occur from the following description of preferred embodiments and the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0015] FIG. 1 is a perspective, partly schematic view of a self-inflating mattress according to this invention;

[0016] FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view of a portion of the body supporting member, including the foam core, covering and one of the drain valves communicably connected to the body supporting member; these components are simplified and spaced slightly apart for clarity and illustrative purposes;

[0017] FIG. 3 is an elevational side view of the mattress after it has been deflated by a standard vacuum pump;

[0018] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the deflated mattress in a rolled-up and secured condition; and

[0019] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the mattress in a semi-deflated, pressure adjusted condition; the mattress has been adjusted for comfort such that the user's body impression is left in the partially collapsed mattress.

[0020] There is shown in FIG. 1 a self-inflating mattress 10 that is operably and releasably connected to a conventional vacuum apparatus 12. Mattress 10 is particularly suited for indoor bedroom use, although it may alternatively be used in a wide variety of other applications. In some cases, the mattress may even be employed as a floatation device for pools and other bodies of water. This use will be explained more fully below.

[0021] In order to function as a bedroom mattress, it is preferred that mattress 10 have approximately the following dimensions: 1

Twin:74″ in length × 39.6″ in width × 7″ thickness
Full:74″ in length × 54.5″ in width × 7″ thickness
Queen:74″ in length × 60.5″ in width × 7″ thickness

[0022] It should be understood that the foregoing dimensions can vary within the scope of this invention. However, it is particularly desirable for the mattress to have a thickness of at least 4″ so that the pressure control feature described below may be successfully achieved. If a thinner mattress is utilized, the mattress will deflate almost immediately when the user lies upon the mattress. This will prevent the mattress from being successfully pressure adjusted in the manner described below.

[0023] Mattress 10, a portion of which is shown cross sectionally in FIG. 2, comprises a body supporting member that includes an internal foam core 14. Core 14 preferably features a self-inflatable, resilient open-celled foam composed of polyurethane or a similar material. The core is capable of being alternately filled with or exhausted of air as required such that the core is pressure adjustable. Core 14 is enclosed by a flexible sheet-like exterior covering 16. This covering should comprise a durable, airtight and preferably waterproof material such as nylon PVC or nylon polyurethane. Preferably, covering 16 comprises upper and lower sections 18 and 20 that are interconnected along a seam 22 by various known manners such as sewing or RF welding. The latter technique is especially preferred because it renders the mattress essentially airtight and watertight. This permits the mattress to be used as a float.

[0024] Valve means are employed by mattress 10 for the purpose of selectively collapsing (deflating) and expanding (inflating) the foam core. One or more drain valves 40 are communicably connected with the interior of body supporting member 13. Preferably two valves are provided at the head of the mattress so that each of two persons lying on the mattress can individually adjust his or her side for softness/firmness. More particularly, as best shown in FIG. 2, each drain valve 40 extends through an opening 42 in covering 16. The inner end of the drain valve carries a peripheral flange 44 that is heat welded or otherwise sealed to the inner surface of covering 16. A hydrophobic member 46 is attached to and extends across the open inner end of drain valve 40. Member 46 allows air to pass through the valve, at least when the valve is open, but restricts the passage of water and other fluids through the valve. This prevents water from entering the interior of the mattress and allows the mattress to remain effectively watertight, even when the valve is opened. In this way, the mattress may be employed effectively as a flotation device.

[0025] The inner end of drain valve 40 engages or is spaced slightly apart from foam core 14. As a result, the valve communicates with the open-celled foam core. When the core is squeezed, air from the cells in the core is exhausted through the opened valve. Alternatively, when the core is in a collapsed condition, opening the valve causes the air to be drawn inwardly through the open valve and hydrophobic membrane, and absorbed by the core. This causes the mattress to inflate.

[0026] Mattress 10 is depicted in a fully expanded or inflated condition in FIG. 1. In this state the foam core has absorbed air and the mattress may be utilized as a bed, float or otherwise. During such usage, the valves 40, should be kept closed so that the air is retained within the foam core of the mattress. To deflate, partially collapsed and/or adjust the firmness of mattress 10, vacuum assembly 12 is operably interengaged with one of the drain valves 40. In FIG. 1, vacuum assembly 12 is shown attached to a lower drain valve. It should be understood that the vacuum may be alternatively attached to any of a number of drain valves formed in the mattress. The vacuum assembly comprises a standard vacuum pump 50 which may be a conventional household vacuum pump or an alternative type of vacuum means. A hose 52 having a suction inlet or nozzle 54 is operably attached to vacuum pump 50. To deflate the mattress, nozzle 54 is fit over valve 40 such that the distal end of the inlet or nozzle sealably interengages the side surface 56 of mattress 10. More particularly, the suction inlet sealably interengages the flexible covering 16 that surrounds valve 40. Before the suction inlet is engaged in this manner, the valve is opened in a known manner.

[0027] The operator then activates vacuum pump 50. This causes nozzle 54 to seal against the side 56 of mattress 10. The vacuum draws air from foam core 14 outwardly through open valve 40. As shown in FIG. 3, air continues to be drawn through inlet 54 and hose 52 in direction of arrow 60 until mattress 10 is fully deflated. The mattress is now in a substantially flattened and easy-to-manipulate condition. After the mattress is fully deflated, the user disengages nozzle 54 from valve 40 and promptly shuts the valve to prevent the foam core from re-inflating. The user then wraps, folds or rolls up the deflated mattress in the manner depicted in FIG. 4. In certain embodiments, the mattress may carry a strap 70 that encircles the rolled mattress and is secured in place by a buckle 72. The mattress is now ready for convenient transportation or storage.

[0028] By using a vacuum to exhaust air from the foam core, the user is able to quickly and conveniently flatten even a relatively large and bulky, bed-sized mattress. Considerable time is saved in collapsing the mattress, either partially or fully, because the mattress does not have to be manually squeezed and exhausted of air. Rather, the suction provided by a standard vacuum unit accomplishes this in a much faster, less strenuous and more convenient fashion.

[0029] The self-inflating mattress of this invention may also be custom adjusted in the manner shown in FIG. 5. Therein mattress 10 is shown in a partially collapsed or deflated condition that provides optimal support and comfort for a particular user of the mattress. The owner of the mattress achieves this condition by first laying on the mattress in a comfortable sleeping position to which the user is accustomed. The user then opens one or more of the valves so that the mattress deflates under the pressure of the user's body weight. The user allows the mattress to deflate until it achieves the state of firmness that the user desires. The user then re-closes the valve to maintain or hold the mattress in this state. If the user inadvertently deflates the mattress too much, he or she can simply get up from the mattress and allow the mattress to re-inflate fully by opening the valves. The adjustment operation may then be repeated. In any event, after the desired degree of firmness is finally achieved, and the valves are re-closed, the mattress will retain the pressure-adjusted condition shown in FIG. 5. An impression or imprint 80 of the user's body will remain in the upper surface of the mattress. In this condition, the mattress should provide the user with an optimal and custom degree of comfort and support. Subsequent re-inflation, full deflation and/or intermediate adjustment may be performed quickly and conveniently in the manner described above. The mattress may be deflatably adjusted either manually or using the vacuum means described herein.

[0030] Alternatively, the mattress may be adjusted from a fully deflated condition. Typically, one or more users (depending upon the width of the mattress) lie upon the mattress in a fully flattened condition. Each user reclines such that his or her head is proximate one of the drain valves 40. The user then opens the drain valve and allows that user's side of the mattress to inflate until a desired degree of firmness/softness is achieved. The user then simply closes the drain valve on his or her side so that a custom body imprint is achieved. Each user may adjust the mattress to his or her own liking.

[0031] The foregoing embodiment exhibits a number of unexpected benefits. In particular, the individual users imprints remain in the mattress regardless of pressure adjustment and/or movement by the adjacent user. In contrast to other inflatable types of mattresses, movement by one of the users does not cause waves or ripples of air to move through the mattress and disturb the other user. The foam core of the present mattress is relatively thick compared to conventional camping mats and other air mattresses. Accordingly, the present mattress acts as a shock absorber. Movement on one half of the mattress is not transmitted through the mattress to the other half. Optimal individual sleeping comfort for each user is thereby achieved.

[0032] From the foregoing it may be seen that the apparatus of this invention provides for a pressure adjustable, self-inflating mattress and to a technique for rapidly and effectively deflating the mattress so that it may be conveniently pressured adjusted, or stored and transported. While this detailed description has set forth particularly preferred embodiments of the apparatus of this invention, numerous modifications and variations of the structure of this invention, all within the scope of the invention, will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, it is understood that this description is illustrative only of the principles of the invention and is not limitative thereof.

[0033] Although specific features of the invention are shown in some of the drawings and not others, this is for convenience only, as each feature may be combined with any and all of the other features in accordance with this invention.

[0034] Other embodiments will occur to those skilled in the art and are within the following claims: