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This invention relates to a container, and particularly to a container for retaining a structure.
Although the following description refers almost exclusively to a container for retaining a tent like structure, it will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that the structure can be any suitable structure.
Tent like structures are generally movable between a collapsed condition and an erect condition. In the collapsed condition, the tent like structure is typically stored in a container, such as a bag, to prevent the elements of the tent from becoming lost or damaged when not in use. In order to erect the tent, the tent components are removed and separated from the bag and the tent is erected at a suitable location. The tent erection typically involves erecting one or more frame members, joining the frame members together and locating the tent material over the frame members. This is time consuming and requires a certain level of skill to know how to attach the frame members together and how to locate the tent material in a required orientation with respect to the tent material. When the tent is erect, the bag in which the tent was originally contained in is typically stored at a suitable location so it can be retrieved at a later time when the tent is to be collapsed and located therein. However, the bag can easily become lost.
It is an aim of the present invention to provide a container which increases the case with which a structure can be constructed and which reduces the likelihood of the container in which the structure is contained from being lost.
It is a further aim of the present invention to provide a method of construction of a structure.
It is a yet further aim of the present invention to provide toy apparatus including a container for retaining a further structure.
According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a container, said container having one or more walls defining an interior space of said container and closure means movable between open and closed positions, access being provided to the interior space of said container with the closure means in said open position, and wherein at least part of a structure is housed in and joined to said container, said at least structure part movable between a first substantially collapsed condition and a second substantially erect condition.
Thus, the container of the present invention in which the structure is being stored in when not in use typically forms part of the structure when said structure is erect, thereby preventing loss of the container. The structure can be integrally formed with, attached or detachably attached to the container via attachment means. The attachment means can include any or any combination of stitching, VELCRO (hook and loop fastening), welding, adhesive, friction fit, one or more clips, ties, zips, buckles, magnetic means, inter-engaging means and/or the like. In addition, the structure is arranged with respect to the container such that it can be easily moved between substantially collapsed and erect conditions.
The structure is preferably a three dimensional structure in the erect condition having one or more walls and an interior cavity defined therein.
In a preferred embodiment the structure is in the form of a tent like structure. Preferably the tent like structure has at least one opening for allowing access to an interior space therein. A door or other closure means can be provided to allow closing of said at least one opening. One or more windows and/or openings can be provided in the structure if required.
In one embodiment the tent like structure is of a size suitable for at least a small child to enter. In an alternative embodiment the tent like structure is of a size suitable for one or more toys. Thus, in one embodiment the container forms part of a toy apparatus.
The structure can include any three dimensional structure, such as a play structure which can be used to locate one or more toy members therein or thereon and/or which can be entered by a person, animal and/or the like.
Preferably the container has different functions when the structure is in the collapsed or erect conditions. For example, in the erect condition, the container can form part of a tent. In the collapsed condition, the container can form part of a bag.
Preferably the container includes at least a first compartment for containment of the structure when in the collapsed condition and said structure at least partially protrudes from the compartment when in the second erect condition.
In one embodiment the structure is resiliently biased to an erect condition via resilient biasing means. The biasing force of the biasing means typically is required to be overcome in order to collapse the structure. The biasing means can include a spring, sprung material and/or the like. Engagement means can be provided to retain the structure in a collapsed condition. The engagement means can be associated with the container, compartment and/or compartment. For example, releasable engagement means maintaining the first compartment in a closed condition can be used to retain the structure in a collapsed condition until use of the structure is required.
The structure can automatically move to the substantially erect condition on movement of said closure means between the closed and open positions. Alternatively, or in addition to, the structure itself or user actuation means associated with said structure may need to be actuated or moved manually to move said structure between said erect and/or collapsed conditions. The user actuation means can cause movement manually, mechanically, electrically and/or via other suitable means. Furthermore, actuation of the user actuation means can be independent to opening of the closure means if required. The user actuation means can include one or more buttons, levers, handles and/or the like.
One or more further items can be contained in the first compartment in addition to the structure.
In one embodiment the container includes at least a second compartment for the containment of one or more items therein, said second compartment being provided in addition to said first compartment.
The at least second compartment can be accessed via the first compartment and/or access to the second compartment can be independent from access to the first compartment.
The first and/or second compartments can be provided with closure means for allowing the or each of the compartments to be moved together or independently between open and closed conditions.
Engagement means can be provided on said structure, container and/or said closure means to allow said container to remain in said open and/or closed conditions in use. The engagement means can include any or any combination of one or more clips, VELCRO, ties, buttons, zips, inter-engaging members, friction fit, toggles, buckle and strap, magnetic means and/or the like.
In one embodiment the container is provided with handle means for allowing the container to be easily transported and/or carried by a user. The handle means can include any or any combination of one or more straps, apertures and/or the like.
In one embodiment the container is in the form of carrying apparatus, a bag, satchel, case, brief case, rucksack and/or the like.
The container can be formed from substantially rigid material and/or substantially flexible material.
Preferably the housing includes frame means and said frame means are movable between a partially or wholly collapsed and/or folded position and a substantially erect condition (erect at least relative to said collapsed condition). The frame means typically form part of the structure.
The frame means can be movable between the collapsed and erect condition on movement of the structure between said collapsed and erect conditions or can be moved independently thereof.
The frame means are preferably contained in or form part of the at least first compartment and are movable with said compartment on opening and/or closing of said compartment. The frame means typically form or allow erection of the structure when the compartment is in an open condition.
The frame means can include one or a plurality of frame members as required. The plurality of frame members can be integrally formed, detachably attached and/or joined together.
The frame means can include any or any combination of sprung material, springs, one or more elongate rod like members and/or the like.
Preferably the structure is defined by one or more walls and said walls move with said frame means between said collapsed and erect conditions.
In one embodiment one or more walls of the play structure are formed from substantially flexible material. The flexible material can be attached to or integrally formed with said frame means and movable with said frame means in use. For example, the flexible material can include fabric, sheet like material, plastic and/or the like.
In one embodiment the flexible material is moved from a partially or substantially folded condition when the frame means are in the partial or wholly collapsed condition and is moved to a substantially taut condition when the frame means is in a substantially erect condition.
The at least first compartment can include at least front and rear walls and said front and rear walls can be moved between a substantially parallel or acute angled condition when in a closed condition, wherein the front and rear walls can be adjacent to each other or a spaced distance apart, and a substantially co-linear or planar position when in an open condition.
Preferably the front and/or rear walls form part of the exterior of the container when in a closed condition and/or the base of the structure when in an erect condition.
According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of using a container, said container having one or more walls defining an interior space of said container and closure means movable between open and closed positions, access being provided to the interior space of said container with the closure means in said open position, at least part of a structure is housed in said container, and wherein said method includes opening said closure means and moving said at least structure part between a first substantially collapsed condition and a second substantially erect condition.
According to separate and independent aspects of the present invention there is provided a bag; carrying apparatus; a tent like structure; toy apparatus and a structure for use with a container.
Embodiments of the present invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying figures, wherein:
FIG. 1a illustrates a container of the present invention in the form of a bag in use by a person;
FIG. 1b illustrates a container of the present invention in the form of a backpack in use by a person;
FIGS. 2a &2c illustrate a more detailed view of the bag in FIG. 1a;
FIG. 2b illustrates how the bag in FIG. 2a can be converted to a backpack similar to the type shown in FIG. 1b;
FIGS. 3a-3c illustrate the steps in opening the first compartment of said bag in FIG. 2c to form a tent like structure;
FIGS. 4a-4b illustrate examples of tent like structures of the present invention;
FIG. 4c illustrates closure means for use with a tent like structure;
FIG. 4d illustrates accessories for use with a tent like structure;
FIGS. 5a-5c illustrate examples of use of a second compartment of a bag according to an embodiment of the present invention;
FIGS. 6a and 6b illustrate a front elevation and side elevation respectively of frame means in the form of a foldable spring according to an embodiment of the present invention;
FIGS. 7a-7d illustrate the components of the structure in one embodiment of the present invention; and
FIGS. 8a-8d illustrate the components of the structure in a further embodiment of the present invention.
Referring firstly to FIGS. 1a-2c, there is illustrated a container in the form of a bag 2 comprising a housing portion 4 and a handle portion in the form of an elongate strap 6. The strap can be arranged so as to form a shoulder bag, as shown in FIG. 1a. Alternatively, a clip 8 can be provided on the housing portion 4 of the bag 2 to divide strap 6 into two portions 6′ and 6″, thereby allowing bag 2 to be worn as a back pack, as shown in FIGS. 1b and 2b.
The housing portion 4 includes a front panel 10, rear panel 12, top panel 14, base panel 16 and side walls 18.
Two compartments are defined in bag 2; a first compartment is provided for the containment of a tent like structure 20, as shown in FIGS. 3a-3c, and a second compartment is provided for the containment of one or more items. The second compartment is defined in the front part of the bag between the front panel 10, side walls 18 and an interior panel (not shown) and has an opening which is provided with closure means in the form of a lid 22. The lid 22 is joined to top panel 14 and is hingedly opened about a fold line 24 to allow access to said second compartment.
More particularly, side walls 18 are provided in two parts, a front wall part 18′ and a rear side wall part 18″. The front side wall part 18′ forms the walls of the second compartment and the rear side wall part 18″ forms the walls of the first compartment. Alternatively, the first compartment could be provided in the front of the bag and defined by front side wall part 18′ and the second compartment could be provided in the rear of the bag and defined by rear side wall part 18″.
In the illustrated embodiment, rear side wall part 18″ is composed of two parts; a first part 26 joined to rear panel 12 and a second part 28 joined to front side wall part 18′. Front and rear parts 26, 28 are releasably engaged together via a zip 30.
The first compartment is opened by unzipping said zip 30, thereby allowing rear panel 12 to be moved from a closed position, wherein rear panel 12 is at an acute angle to front panel 10, to an open position, wherein rear panel is substantially co-linear or horizontal with front panel 10, as shown in FIG. 3c. The front and rear panels 10, 12 typically pivotably move about top panel 14.
A tent structure 20 is contained in the first compartment in a collapsed state when the compartment is closed and is movable to a substantially erect condition, as shown in FIG. 3c, when the first compartment is opened. The tent structure 20 includes frame means with flexible material 32 attached to the exterior of the frame means. The flexible material 32 moves with the frame means from a partially folded state, as shown in FIG. 3a, to a substantially erect and taut state, as shown in FIG. 3c, to form the walls of the tent 20. The base 34 of the tent 20 typically includes the front and rear panels 10, 12 but other panels can additionally be provided depending on the size of the tent. These additional panels can be folded in the first compartment when the compartment is in the closed position.
Referring to FIGS. 4a-4b, the tent 20 can be provided in any suitable size, shape and/or design. It can have one or more windows, such as a mesh window 36 and/or it can have one or more openings in the form of windows or a doorway 38 to allow access to an interior space defined in said tent 20. The doorway 30 can have closure means to allow closure of the opening. In the illustrated embodiment, a beaded curtain 40 is provided in the doorway 30, as shown in FIGS. 4b and 4c.
The tent can be a size to allow a person or animal, such as a child, to enter the interior of the tent or it can be of a size to allow one or more toys only to be located in the tent.
Accessories in the form of releasably attached toys 42 can be hooked onto one or more surfaces of the tent 20 if required, as shown in FIG. 4d.
Access to the second compartment 43 can be provided via the first compartment when in an open condition. For example, closure means in the form of a movable flap 44 can be provided on an interior surface of base 34, as shown in FIG. 5a, and said flap 44 can be moved to allow access to the second compartment. The second compartment can also be accessed via lid 22 if required. In addition, or as an alternative, the flap could be opened to reveal a further compartment or surface for the containment of one or more toy, games, items and/or the like, as shown in FIGS. 5b, wherein a diary 46 is located in the compartment, and as shown in FIG. 5c wherein a game board 48 is provided on a surface under flap 44.
The frame means providing the structure support, in one embodiment, is in the form of a foldable spring 50, as shown in FIGS. 6a and 6b. The spring 50 is movable in a concertina like manner between a folded/collapsed condition, to a substantially erect or extended condition.
FIGS. 7a-8d illustrate the components of the tent structure 20. The base 34 of the structure includes a plurality of sections 52 joined together along their respective sides and ends to form a substantially flat structure, as shown in FIG. 7a. One or more of the sections 52 are typically foldably or hingedly movable with respect to an adjacent section, via fold lines 54, to allow base 34 to be moved between an erect, expanded or flat structure to a substantially folded structure where it can be located in the first compartment and said compartment can be closed. The sections 52 can be substantially flexible or rigid as required.
In the illustrated example, each section 52 comprises a substantially rigid insert, such as board material, covered by padding and/or flexible material. Each section is joined together via sewing but a small gap is left between and sections to allow articulated movement between said sections.
The front and rear end walls of the tent 20 include wall panels 56, 58 respectively, as shown in FIGS. 7c and 7d. One or more openings 38 and windows 36 can be provided in the wall panels as required.
The roof 60 of the tent 20 includes a sleeve member 62 having two compartments 64, 66 defined therein. A spring 50 is located in each compartment 64, 66 such that the springs are substantially parallel but separate to each other. The springs 50 are provided under slight compression in sleeve member 62, such that the substantially flexible material forming sleeve member 62 is taut with the springs located therein. This results in the roof being biased to an expanded or erect condition. The front and rear wall panels 56, 58 are joined to roof 60, such that expansion of the roof 60 moves wall panels 56, 58 to a taut and erect condition.
In order to collapse tent 20, the roof 60 is required to be folded in on itself and is maintained in the collapsed condition via the closure means of the first compartment.
Thus, the tent structure 20 provided in the first compartment is resiliently biased to an erect condition. Structure 20 is maintained in a collapsed condition via the engaging force of engaging means maintaining the first compartment in a closed position.
Reinforcing means can be provided in sleeve member 62 if required, such as pockets 64 of stronger material than the material from which the roof material is formed from, being provided at the corners of the sleeve member or areas of increased tension.