Title:
Enclosure system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A swimming or wading pool has an enclosed area for playing games such as volleyball and basketball, so that the enclosed pool serves as a game court.



Inventors:
Publicover, Mark W. (Saratoga, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/418685
Publication Date:
05/17/2007
Filing Date:
05/04/2006
Assignee:
JumpSport, Inc.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/29
International Classes:
A63B5/11
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DONNELLY, JEROME W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KLARQUIST SPARKMAN, LLP (121 SW SALMON STREET SUITE 1600, PORTLAND, OR, 97204, US)
Claims:
1. An aboveground pool and game court system comprising: a watertight vessel having a floor and a sidewall that extends upwardly from the floor; and an enclosure that extends above the sidewall to define an enclosed area above the vessel and that comprises upwardly extending supports and an expanse of fabric-like material sufficiently encompassing to block game balls from leaving the pool area.

2. The system of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of sockets that are supported by the vessel and that are configured to receive at least some of the upright members.

3. The system of claim 2 wherein at lease some of the sockets are supported by the sidewall.

4. The system of claim 1 wherein the enclosure comprises support members that contain a liquid.

5. An aboveground pool and enclosure system comprising: a watertight vessel having a floor and a sidewall that extends upwardly from the floor; an enclosure that extends above the sidewall and that comprises a plurality of upright members; and a plurality of sockets that are supported by the vessel and that are configured to receive at least some of the upright members.

6. The system of claim 5 wherein at lease some of the sockets are supported by the sidewall.

7. An aboveground pool and enclosure system comprising: a watertight vessel having a floor and a sidewall that extends upwardly from the floor; and an enclosure that extends above the sidewall and that comprises support members that contain a liquid.

8. An aboveground pool and game court system comprising: a watertight vessel having a floor and a sidewall that extends upwardly from the floor; and an enclosure that is attached to the vessel, that extends above the sidewall, and that comprises substantially straight, upwardly extending supports and an expanse of fabric-like material sufficiently encompassing to block game balls from leaving the pool area.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/800,273, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/432,998, filed Nov. 2, 1999, now U.S. Pat. Ser. No. 6,261,207, which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/100,586, filed, Jun. 19, 1998, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,053,845, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/050,323, filed Jun. 20, 1997, U.S. Provisional application No. 60/052,052, filed Jul. 9, 1997, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/087,835, filed Jun. 3, 1998. This also is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/467,684, filed Aug. 8, 2003, which is the National Stage of International Application No. PCT/US02/04150, filed Feb. 11, 2002, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/267,546, filed Feb. 9, 2001, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/276,564, filed Mar. 15, 2001. All of the above-mentioned applications are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY

The present invention relates to enclosures for swimming pools, particularly aboveground pools.

A swimming or wading pool has an enclosed area for playing games such as volleyball and basketball, so that the enclosed pool serves as a game court. Various constructions are possible. Advantageously, a pool is surrounded by an enclosure having at least one inflatable bladder.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is an oblique view of a pool and enclosure;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged, partial oblique view of the pool and enclosure of FIG. 1, with a portion of an upright member broken away to show internal structure;

FIG. 3 is an oblique view of another pool and enclosure;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged, partial oblique view of the pool and enclosure of FIG. 3, with a portion telescoped to show the attachment of an upright member,

FIG. 5 is an oblique view of another pool and enclosure;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged, partial oblique view of the pool and enclosure of FIG. 5, with a portion telescoped to show the attachment of an upright member,

FIG. 7 is an oblique view of another pool and enclosure;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged, partial oblique view of the pool and enclosure of FIG. 7, showing the attachment of an upright member;

FIG. 9 is an oblique view of another pool and enclosure; and

FIG. 10 is an oblique view of another pool and enclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Swimming or wading pools having an enclosed area for playing games such as volleyball, basketball, and the like are shown in all of the drawing figures. These enclosed pools serve as game courts. Game balls and other equipment are retained within the enclosed area; and the enclosure serves as a fence to prevent a person, who jumps up from inside the pool, from falling onto the surrounding ground. The enclosure also serves as a barrier to prevent persons from falling into the water accidentally.

FIGS. 1-7 show pools and enclosures, portions of which are inflatable bladders. In some cases, at least some of the bladders communicate with one another so that they can be filled from a common source of air or other fluid.

FIG. 1 shows a pool and enclosure system wherein the pool 20 is a watertight vessel that has a floor (not shown) and a sidewall 26. The pool contains water 28.

An enclosure 30 has base ring bladder 32 and an upper ring bladders 34 that best are vertically aligned to be concentric to a common vertical axis A1. The base ring bladder 32 in this system connects to the upper edge of the sidewall 26 and serves as a top rail for the pool 20. The sidewall 26 can be made from PVC, fabric, or any other resilient material. Enclosure upright members 40 support the upper ring bladder 34 above the base ring bladder 32. These upright members 40 are upwardly extending inflatable bladders. For additional support, inflatable sidewall upright members 44 are inflatable bladders that can be positioned below some or all of the enclosure upright members 40 or elsewhere along the sidewall 26 of the pool 20.

Flexible fencing, netting or other fabric-like material 50 extends between the rings 32, 34 to complete the enclosure. A door or opening is provided in the fabric-like material 50 to provide access to the interior of the enclosure.

FIGS. 3-4 show a pool and enclosure system can have base and upper ring bladders 132, 134 as in FIG. 1, only in the system of FIGS. 3-4 the top ring bladder 134 is supported by enclosure upright members 140 that are metal or plastic poles or tubes. The bottoms of the poles or tubes 140 are received in sockets 142 formed in the base ring bladder 132. The poles or tubes 140 should be self-supporting, but should be sufficiently flexible that they will bend elastically when lateral force is applied. The flexibility of the poles allows them to adsorb energy should a person impact the enclosure.

The upper ring bladder 134 supports generally horizontally extending cross members 136. The cross members support a roof of flexible fencing, netting or other fabric-like material that further helps retain athletic equipment within the enclosed area defined by the pool and enclosure system.

FIGS. 5-6 show an enclosure 230 that floats on top of water in a pool 220. In particular, a base ring bladder 232 floats on water of the pool, with other elements of the enclosure 230 extending upwardly from the base ring bladder. Such enclosures are designed for pools 220 having a resilient top rail 233 at the upper perimeter edge of the sidewall 226 and/or having a sidewall 226 that is resilient. The outside diameter of the ring bladder 232 should be the same as or close to the inside diameter of the resilient top rail 233 so that the ring bladder 232 nests within the top rail 233. Poles or tubes 240 arch and connect at a central apex 241 above the pool 220. The bottoms of the poles or tubes 240 are received in sockets 242 formed in the base ring bladder 232.

The pool and enclosure system of FIGS. 7-8 is similar to that of FIGS. 3-4 in that a top ring bladder 334 is supported over a base ring bladder 332, that is the top rail of a pool 320, by enclosure upright members 340 that are metal or plastic poles or tubes. In this instance, the enclosure upright members 340 extend through passageways 343 defined in the base ring bladder 332 and all the way to the bottom of the pool or to the ground. Thus each enclosure upright member 340 has an upper portion 345 that extends above the base ring bladder 332 and a lower portion 346 that extends below the base ring bladder. The bottom end of each enclosure upright member 340 is received in a socket or pocket 348 attached to the sidewall 326 of the pool 320.

The pool and enclosure systems of FIGS. 1-8 are advantageous in that any impact to the area of the enclosure above the water that is greater than 100 foot pounds of energy is partially absorbed by the water in the pool and/or by the resilient sidewalls of the pool such that an impact to the enclosure would cause the sidewall to deform or the shape of the pool perimeter to deform during an impact thereby helping to absorb the forces of impact directed at the netting or sidewall material of the enclosure.

The enclosures add structural support to pools having inflatable or resilient sidewalls, such that an impact force applied to the top or side of the pool is partially absorbed by the enclosure. These enclosures are physically or frictionally connected to the pool to accomplish this goal. The added support provided by such an enclosure reduces the amount of water that would otherwise spill out during a given impact to the top or side of the resilient pool wall.

The inflatable bladders, of the pool and enclosure systems of FIGS. 1-8, can vary in firmness from day to day, or from hour to hour within a single day due to air expansion and contraction caused by ambient temperature fluctuations.

One way to avoid such fluctuations in firmness is to use an air pump that operates to inflate the bladder(s) when the pressure is below a desired level. Such a pump could be mechanical or electrical. A mechanical pump could operate on the energy generated from the movement of persons inside the enclosure. A solar energy cell or battery could power an electrical pump.

A second method for controlling pressure variations due to temperature fluctuations is shown in FIG. 2. A spring-actuated device 60 is compressed as an air bladder expands during the heat of the day, and contracts with the cold of the night. Such a spring device could be installed in an interior portion of the enclosure as illustrated, or could be installed on the exterior (not shown).

A third method is to fill some or all of the bladders with a liquid such as water, in which case there would be substantially no expansion. An advantage of this approach is that the water would have greater mass that a gas, and thus would make the bladders more rigid to better resist impacts on exposed surfaces of the enclosure.

One could combine the second and third methods, or provide a mix air and liquid in a bladder, and/or include an air shock to give the water someplace to go when the bladder is impacted since water does not compress. Filling one or more bladder members with both air and water has important advantages. The performance of the enclosure can be tuned by varying the ration of air to water. Usually, best results are obtained when half the volume of a bladder is occupied with water and the other half of the volume is filled with air. When a pool is to be used by relatively heavy persons, more water could be used. If lighter persons will use the pool, the amount of air relative to the amount of water can be increased to achieve comparable performance.

FIGS. 9-10 each show a pool and freestanding enclosure system. During a high-energy impact, such freestanding enclosures will transfer less impact force to the pool then the enclosure systems of FIGS. 1-8, reducing the potential for stress damage to the pool. This reduction in impact force helps to reduce the amount of water that would spill out during a given impact to the top or side of a resilient pool wall. Also, an enclosure that stands independently and is not frictionally or physically connected to a pool with resilient sidewalls could be employed to limit pool sidewall deformation so that less water is lost from the pool.

FIG. 9 shows one freestanding enclosure 430 that, when impacted, does not necessarily transfer impact forces to a pool structure 420 because a freestanding enclosure can be installed so that it is not physically or frictionally connected to its pool. In the system of FIG. 9, poles 440 extend from the ground to support a top ring 434 without touching, or only lightly touching, the pool 420. The fence material 450 best will touch or lie alongside the top rail 433 of the pool so that the pool and enclosure can best serve as a game court. If the fence material 450 is spaced from the top rail 433, balls and other athletic equipment might fall to the ground thought the gap between the fence material and the pool.

FIG. 10 shows a freestanding enclosure 530 installed inside a pool 520 with the base of the enclosure contacting the floor of the pool. This enclosure has poles 540 that arch and connect at a central apex 541 above the pool 520. It is designed to absorb some of the impact force from a falling object above the pool so that if and when a falling object does impact the pool, the impact force will have been reduced.

The freestanding enclosures shown in FIGS. 9-10 are formed entirely of noninflatable elements. Freestanding enclosures having one or more inflatable bladder elements also could be constructed along the same lines.

It will be appreciated that pool and enclosure systems can be configured in numerous other ways and combinations based on the principles described herein.

For example, the base and upper rings and vertical supports could, as shown in some of the drawing figures, be made of resilient or less-resilient materials such as PVC, fiberglass, and even non-resilient tubular or solid steel members.

Although base and upper rings are most often illustrated as being generally circular, such members could have other ring shapes, including polygonal rings such as octagons, hexagons, and rectangles.

Accessories, such as squirt guns, baskets, ball tubes, lights, and water hoses, can be attached for playing games that teach eye hand coordination, timing, and the like.

An enclosure system, having one or more inflatable bladders, could also be used to surround a trampoline to provide a protective fence. To avoid fluctuations in firmness of the bladder(s), a mechanical or electrical air pump that operates to inflate the bladder(s) could be powered the bed of trampoline. The trampoline could have more than one bed for greater shock absorption. The trampoline could have a shock surface fixed to top or bottom of its bed(s). Bottom attachment helps prevent injury if bed bottoms out on ground. The trampoline could have cams attached in line with some or all of the springs or elastic members.

Many of the above-described enclosures could be used with an inflatable trampoline frame of the type that looks like a big inner tube with an elastic top surface for jumping. The inflatable ring that serves as the trampoline frame could be filled with a liquid or a liquid/gas mixture for reasons described above. And poles or tubes could extend upwardly from the frame to serve as enclosure upright members.