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Title:
Modular mask system
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A modular mask system comprises a frame for fitting over a user's head, and a set of interchangeable mask components. Each interchangeable mask components can be removeably attachable to the frame. Each of the interchangeable mask components is one of a top panel, a side panel assembly, an eyepiece and a nosepiece. The interchangeable side panel assemblies can be different sizes to accommodate the user's face or have different patterns or have different configurations of ventilation holes. The interchangeable eyepieces allow the user to choose from dual lenses and a single shield. The eyepieces can include optically powered lenses, shaded lenses, dual lenses tinted lenses, photochromatic lenses and polarized lenses.


Inventors:
Gagnon, Mario (Montreal, CA)
Pilon, Christian (Montreal, CA)
Lebeuf, Jean-francois (Montreal, CA)
Sheldon, Brent (Montreal, CA)
Application Number:
10/425596
Publication Date:
06/17/2004
Filing Date:
04/30/2003
Primary Class:
2/9
Other Classes:
2/206
International Classes:
A42B3/20; A42B3/24; A63B71/10; A61F9/02; (IPC1-7): A42B1/00
View Patent Images:
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Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BORDEN LADNER GERVAIS LLP (WORLD EXCHANGE PLAZA, OTTAWA, ON, K1P 1J9, CA)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A modular mask, comprising: a frame for fitting over a user's head; and at least one mask component removably attachable to the frame, the at least one mask component selected from the group consisting of: a top panel, a side panel assembly, a nosepiece and a dual lens eyepiece.

2. The modular mask system of claim 1, wherein the at least one mask component comprises a plurality of eyepieces.

3. The modular mask system of claim 2, wherein each of the plurality of eyepieces comprises one of: a mirrored eyepiece, a reflective eyepiece, a tinted eyepiece, an optically powered eyepiece, a polarized eyepiece and a photochromatic eyepiece.

4. The modular mask system of claim 1, wherein the at least one mask component comprises further comprises a one-piece eye shield.

5. The modular mask system of claim 1, wherein the at least one mask component comprises a plurality of side panel assemblies.

6. The modular mask system of claim 5, wherein one of the plurality of side panel assemblies comprises one of a left side panel and a right side panel.

7. The modular mask system of claim 5, wherein one of the side panel assembly comprises a left side panel and a right side panel.

8. The modular mask system of claim 5, wherein each of the plurality of interchangeable side panel assemblies comprises one of: a side panel assembly for camouflage, a shock absorbent side panel assembly, an patterned side panel assembly, a side panel assembly bearing a design, a skirted side panel assembly, and a ventilated side panel assembly.

9. The modular mask of claim 1, wherein the at least one mask component comprises a plurality of interchangeable top panels.

10. The modular mask system of claim 1, wherein the frame is formed of one of thermoplastic rubber, metal and plastic.

11. The modular mask system of claim 1, wherein the frame comprises an arcuate top portion from which two forked members depend.

12. The modular mask system of claim 1, wherein the frame further comprises an attachment strap for enabling the user to wear the mask.

13. The modular mask system of claim 12, wherein the attachment strap comprises a dual attachment strap.

14. A modular mask, comprising: a frame for fitting over a user's head; an eyepiece; and a plurality of face panel components, each face panel component removably attachable to the frame.

15. The modular mask of claim 14, wherein the plurality of face panel components comprises one of: a plurality of interchangeable top panels, a plurality of interchangeable side panel assemblies, a plurality of top panels and a plurality of nosepieces.

16. The modular mask system of claim 15, wherein one of the plurality of interchangeable face panel components comprises a face panel having a nosepiece integrally formed with a side panel assembly.

17. The modular mask system of claim 15, wherein the plurality of interchangeable eyepieces includes an eyepiece, the eyepiece being one of: a mirrored eyepiece, a reflective eyepiece, a tinted eyepiece, an optically powered eyepiece, a polarized eyepiece and a photochromatic eyepiece and a transparent protective eyepiece.

18. The modular mask system of claim 17, wherein the eyepiece comprises dual lenses.

19. The modular mask system of claim 17, wherein the eyepiece comprises a one piece shield.

20. The modular mask system of claim 14, wherein the plurality of face panel components comprises a top panel, a side panel assembly, a nosepiece and an eyepiece.

21. The modular mask system of claim 14 wherein each face panel component is removably attached to the frame by attachment elements provided on the face panel component and corresponding attachment element holders provided on the frame.

22. A modular mask system, comprising: a frame for fitting over the user's head; and a set of interchangeable mask components removably attachable to the frame, the set of interchangeable mask components comprising a plurality of one of: a top panel, a side panel assembly, an eyepiece and a nosepiece.

Description:

[0001] The present application is a continuation-in-part of prior U.S. Design patent application No. 29/172,595 filed Dec. 16, 2002 entitled “Modular Mask”.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to a protective headgear and more particularly, to a modular mask system adapted to protect people engaging in physical activities.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] A wide variety of protective head gear such as masks are available for use in activities where physical danger to the head of the user is inherent. An example of such an activity is the game of paintball where players try to hit their opponents by projecting paintballs. In order to protect the player's head, components are designed to protect various parts of the head such as the eyes, nose, forehead, cheeks and ears. These components are assembled to form a mask. However, once a mask becomes assembled, the components of the mask cannot be removed or replaced, except possibly the exact replacement of a damaged one-piece eye shield or visor by another eyepiece or visor. As a result, when a mask's protective components such as protective panels are damaged the entire mask must be replaced.

[0004] Another disadvantage of a conventional mask is that it cannot be modified to adapt to a new environment. In the game of paintball, to reduce the chances of being spotted by an opponent, it is desirable that the player's mask provide camouflage suitable to its surrounding terrain or environment. Examples of such environments include a woodland forest, a grass covered field and a snow-covered field. Each of these terrains has colour patterns that are natural to that area. For example, in a snow-covered field, a mask with an effective camouflage comprises snow-white panels. By contrast, in a grassy field, a mask with an effective camouflage comprises green panels. In addition, different environments also have different climate conditions. As a result, masks should be able to provide suitable ventilation or insulation for its surrounding climate. For example, a mask suitable for a warmer climate can comprise panels with greater ventilation than a mask suitable for cooler climates. However, since the components of a conventional mask cannot be replaced, the conventional mask cannot be adapted to provide appropriate ventilation or camouflage in different environments. Additionally, conventional modular masks are not responsive to changing lighting conditions. Conventional clear eyepieces afford physical protection from objects only and do not enhance vision or reduce undesirable environmental factors such as very bright light, glare, etc.

[0005] A further disadvantage of a conventional modular mask is that the components are typically created of the similar material. This prevents the panels from accommodating different functions. For example, in the game of paintball it can be preferable to use softer material in the protective side panels to resist breakage of an impacting paintball. It can also be preferable to use a material with less weight on the protective side panels to achieve a more comfortable fit. Alternatively, heavier rigid panes may be desirable to afford maximum protection for the player, for example, from the impact of physical collision or paint balls.

[0006] It is, therefore, desirable to provide a mask having interchangeable components which can be easily added or removed for providing a mask that can readily adapt to a new environment and accommodate different functions. In this regard, the present invention substantially fulfils this need.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] It is an object of the present invention to obviate or mitigate at least one disadvantage of conventional protective headgear.

[0008] It is even another object of the present invention to provide a double lens that comprises of specialty lenses.

[0009] It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a double strap in the back for a more stable fit to the user's head.

[0010] Therefore, the present invention relates to the use of a modular mask for protecting the head of a user engaged in physical activities.

[0011] According to an embodiment of the present invention, a modular mask system comprises: a frame for fitting over the user's head; and a set of interchangeable mask components removably attachable to the frame, the set of interchangeable mask components comprising a plurality of one of: a top panel, a side panel assembly, an eyepiece and a nosepiece.

[0012] According to an aspect of the present invention, a modular mask system comprises of a pair of protective side panels, a frontal panel and a nose panel, whereby each panel consists of small openings that engage and disengage with the main skeleton's “C” channel and finger via a snap in or snap out movement.

[0013] Typically, the protective side panels cover and protect wearer's cheeks, the top protective piece covers the forehead and a nosepiece covers the nose and mouth region of the wearer's face. In addition, an eyepiece comprising of dual lenses can be attached to the frame to protect the eyes. The components of the mask can be made of different materials to accommodate different functions. For example, it may be desirable to use soft material in the protective side panels to resist breakage of an impacting paintball. It can also be advantageous to have camouflage patterned panels including, for example, combat style forest camouflage or uniform colours such as black or white in order to allow the user to hide more effectively or blend into a given environment or terrain.

[0014] Advantageously, the modular mask system of the present invention enables the wearer to adapt to different environmental conditions and activities.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0015] Embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the attached Figures, wherein:

[0016] FIG. 1 illustrates an exploded view of according to an embodiment of the present invention;

[0017] FIG. 2 illustrates a top view of the embodiment of FIG. 1;

[0018] FIG. 3 illustrates a bottom view of the embodiment of FIG. 1;

[0019] FIG. 4 illustrates a front view of the embodiment of FIG. 1;

[0020] FIG. 5 illustrates a back view of the embodiment of FIG. 1;

[0021] FIG. 6 illustrates a left view of the embodiment of FIG. 1;

[0022] FIG. 7 illustrates a right view of the embodiment of FIG. 1;

[0023] FIG. 8 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the invention in which the top panel does not have ventilation holes;

[0024] FIG. 9 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the invention in which the eyepiece comprises dual double walled lenses;

[0025] FIG. 10 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the invention in which the eyepiece comprises dual mirrored lenses

[0026] FIG. 11 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the invention in which the eyepiece comprises dual shaded lenses;

[0027] FIG. 12 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the invention in which the eyepiece comprises a one piece eye shield;

[0028] FIG. 13 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the invention in which the side panels and top panel have a camouflage pattern;

[0029] FIG. 14 illustrates differently sized interchangeable side panels; and

[0030] FIG. 15 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the invention in which the side panels are provided with a covering or skirt;

[0031] FIG. 16 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the invention in which the nosepiece and side panels are integrally formed; and

[0032] FIG. 17 illustrates a dual strap according to an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0033] Generally, the present invention provides a modular mask system. The modular mask system of the present invention can be used to protect the head of a user engaged in physical activities such as the game of paint ball, hockey, lacrosse, cycling, motorcycling including the sport of motocross, skiing and any other activity where the use of protective head gear is desirable. In addition, the present invention can be used for military purposes, such as training, reconnaissance, rescue and combat. Although the present invention is primarily intended for use by a person, the modular mask system can be used by non-humans such as animals.

[0034] FIGS. 1 to 7 illustrate an embodiment of the present invention. Referring to FIG. 1, a modular mask system 100 includes a skeleton or frame 110 to which a number of interchangeable mask components can be removably attached. According to the embodiment of FIG. 1, these mask components include a top panel 120, an eyepiece 130 for covering wearer's eyes, side panels 140 for covering the wearer's cheeks and a nosepiece 150 for covering the wearer's nose. Face panel refers to any component of the mask other than the eyepiece and can refer to the nosepiece, the top panel or one or more side panels. The expression face panel can also refer to any combination of the face panel components such as a one-piece side panel for covering both sides of the face or an integrated nosepiece and side panels. The expression side panel generally refers to a left side panel or a right side. The expression side panel assembly refers to a pair consisting of a left side panel and a right side panel or a single side panel having both left and right sides or a single side panel. Although these mask components typically provide a protective function against weather or impact, they need not do so, for example, the side panels can simply cover the wearer's cheeks in order to better camouflage the wearer.

[0035] Referring to FIG. 1, the frame 110 is a structure adapted to be worn over a wearer's head. The frame can be made of a suitable material such as plastic or rubber material. The frame of the present embodiment comprises an arcuate top portion 112 from which two forked members depend. According to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the forked members and top member are integrally formed. The two forked members are attached by upper and lower bridge members 116, 118.

[0036] The top panel 120 is an arcuate panel for covering a top portion of the wearer's head such as the forehead. The top panel includes ventilation holes 122. An alternative top panel is illustrated in FIG. 8 which does not have ventilation holes. Referring to FIG. 8, the top panel 120 comprises a central region 122 and wing portions 124.

[0037] Referring to FIG. 1, attachment elements such as attachment tabs 119 are used to removably attach components to the frame. For example, attachment elements are used to attach the top panel to the frame. FIG. 8 shows an alternative attachment tab 819. On the inside wall of each wing portion 124 of the top panel 120 there are raised tab holders 126 which cooperate with the tab elements 119 to attach each component to the frame. The attachment tabs 119 and attachment tab holders 126 are preferably integrally formed with the top panel. The attachment tab holders 126 cooperate with the inside wall of each wing portion to form a slot or pocket for receiving a corresponding attachment tab on the frame. The attachment elements illustrated in FIG. 1 are generally “C” shaped, however, other shapes or mechanisms, such as loops are possible. Referring to FIG. 1, similar attachment elements are used for the side panel assembly and the nosepiece.

[0038] Eyepiece 130 includes a frame having lenses 132. The lenses can be made of a transparent material such as clear plastic or glass. The lenses can be plain material serving a purely protective function. Alternative eyepieces can be treated or incorporate special properties. For example, the lenses can be polarized to reduce glare, photochromatic to automatically adjust to light conditions, optically powered to correct vision, double walled to reduce fogging (lenses 932 in FIG. 9), provided with an anti-fogging coating or tinted (to vary light transmittance). The lenses can also be mirrored (lenses 1032 in FIG. 10) or shaded (lenses 1132 in FIG. 11), for example, to facilitate camouflage.

[0039] Preferably, the eyepiece fits over the front of frame so that it resists contact with the wearer's face and eyes if it is subjected to an impact. Integrally formed wings at the ends of the eyepiece are received in recesses in the frame. Preferably the walls of the recesses are channeled to receive the wings in a tongue and groove (or pocket) manner. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 12, the eyepiece 1232 can be a single-piece forming a shield. Note that the single-piece eye shield or visor of FIG. 12 is different from the dual lens eyepieces of FIGS. 9, 10 and 11. Dual lens eyepieces offer additional options, such as powered lenses, that are unavailable to one-piece eye shields. Furthermore, dual lens eyepieces can be treated by coating or multiple coating of the lenses or other processes to obtain photochromatic lenses, polarized lenses or lenses with additional desirable properties whereas such treatments or processes may be infeasible with one-piece shields, for example, due to the width and large surface area of one-piece shields. Certain desirable treatments can only be applied to small blanks which is compatible with treated dual lens eyepieces but exclude the possibility of one piece eye shields when the eye shield is larger than the size of the blank.

[0040] Side panels 140 include ventilation holes 142. According to an alterative embodiment, no ventilation holes are present. The side panels 140 of FIG. 7 are made of a suitable thermoplastic material to resist impact and provide adequate protection to the wearer. Alternative materials, such as soft impact absorbent material such as rubber or fabric, can be used to for the side panels for example, to reduce the chances of a paint ball breaking upon impact in the game of paint ball. Alternatively, the side panels can have a double walled construction or consist of a panel laminated with a cushion. The outside wall of the panel illustrated in FIG. 7 is plain., the panel can be a solid colour. Alternatively the outside walls of the side panels can be patterned to facilitate camouflage (side panels 1340 in FIG. 13) or the outside walls of the panels can consist of a solid colour or any desirable ornamentation or design. An attachment mechanism similar to that of the top panel is used to attach the side panels to forked members of the frame.

[0041] A wearer can also switch between different panels in order to accommodate the demands of different activities or simply to achieve greater comfort. For example, FIG. 14 illustrates snugly fitting side panels 1442 which are interchangeable with looser side panels 1444.

[0042] FIG. 15 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the invention in which each side panel 140 is provided with a covering or skirt 1546. The skirt can afford additional functionality, for example, reducing the chances of a kill in a game of paintball or provide greater comfort against the environment, for example, serving as netting against mosquitoes or facilitating camouflage if suitably patterned. The skirt can be made of any suitable material, such as a woven fabric or mesh.

[0043] Nosepiece 150 is shaped to correspond to the space between the two forked members 114 and the upper 116 and lower bridges 118. Preferably the nosepiece 150 includes ventilation holes 152. Alternative ventilation patterns are also possible to increase or reduce the amount of ventilation. As with the side panels, and eyepiece, the nosepiece can be interchanged with alternative nosepieces to provide camouflage to reduce the likelihood of impact of a paint ball or to provide greater protection.

[0044] Alternatively, as shown if FIG. 16, the covering component 1640 includes integrally formed side panels and a nosepiece. Accordingly, the nosepiece 150 and side panels 140 can be removed from the frame 110 and replaced by integral covering component 1650 if desired. In other words, the covering component 1640 and the combination of nosepiece 150 and side panels 140 are interchangeable.

[0045] Attachment of the components such as the top and side panels to the frame is easily achieved by a simple snap in movement. Detachment of the panels from the frame is achieved by a simple snap out movement. This design allows the user to easily and quickly attach and detach parts from the mask to replace damaged components (including the frame), to adapt to different environmental conditions such as terrain and weather, to better suit a different activity such as motor cross or slam skiing and to adopt a different “skin” or visual appearance (for example to appear more menacing or to identify the wearer as a member of a team or to distinguish the wearer as a matter of style). In addition, greater customization can be effected by the wearer to improve ergonomic factors or functionality.

[0046] The attachment mechanism of the modular mask comprises a strapping system provided at the back of the mask. Either a single strap or a double strap can be used. FIG. 17 illustrates a preferred embodiment having a dual strap 1700. The strapping system 1700 includes a bridge 1710 with buckles 1722 on the upper end and buckles 1732 on the lower end. The buckles allow the straps to adjustably and releasably attach to the bridge. Top straps 1720 are attached at one end to the upper end of the bridge and to the top panel 120 at the other end. Similarly, bottom straps 1730 are attached at one end to the lower end of the bridge and to the frame or side panels (or other suitable site of the mask) at the other end. In FIG. 17 each of the upper and lower straps comprise a left strap and a right strap. Alternatively, the upper strap could comprise one strap which attaches to the left side of the mask, the right side of the mask and the upper end of the bridge. Similarly the lower strap can comprise one strap.

[0047] The bridge and straps fit over the wearer's head, for example, the occiput to ensure a comfortable fit without undesirable movement or slipping of the mask. The strapping system can be adjusted using the buckles of the bridge.

[0048] Alternatively, the a single strapping system can be used where a single strap is replaces the upper and lower straps.

[0049] The above-described embodiments of the present invention are intended to be examples only. Alterations, modifications and variations may be effected to the particular embodiments by those of skill in the art without departing from the scope of the invention, which is defined solely by the claims appended hereto.





 
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