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Title:
PORTABLE PERSONAL SHELTER AND RELATED METHODS
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A portable personal shelter device includes a foldable support base having two base portions pivotally connected to each other and is foldable between an unfolded position in which the two portions are substantially coplanar and a folded position in which the two portions generally face each other. A collapsible hood having a cover and a plurality of pivoted support members for the cover is connected to the support base and arranged such that, the hood can be moved from a deployed state to a collapsed state by folding the support base. A method of making the shelter and a method of sheltering a person in need of shelter are also provided.


Inventors:
Torres, Julio F. (Bronx, NY, US)
Application Number:
12/123338
Publication Date:
11/20/2008
Filing Date:
05/19/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H15/48
View Patent Images:
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Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MILES & STOCKBRIDGE PC (1751 PINNACLE DRIVE, SUITE 500, MCLEAN, VA, 22102-3833, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A portable shelter device comprising: a) a foldable support base having a first base portion and a second base portion pivotally connected to each other so as to be foldable from an unfolded position, in which said first and second base portions are generally coplanar and define a support surface dimensioned to support a person lying at rest thereon, to a folded position in which said first and second base portions generally face each other; and b) a collapsible hood including a cover and a plurality of support members supporting said cover, said support members being pivotally connected to said support base such that, by pivotal movement of said support members, said hood can be moved between a collapsed state and a deployed state in which said hood covers a portion of said support surface to shelter the person lying at rest thereon, and said hood being arranged such that it is caused to move from the deployed state to a collapsed state by folding said support base from said unfolded position to said folded position.

2. A portable shelter device as claimed in claim 1, wherein when said hood can be deployed so as to cover said support surface to define an enclosed space.

3. A portable shelter device as claimed in claim 1, wherein said first and second base portions and said support members have a common pivot axis.

4. A portable shelter device as claimed in claim 1, wherein said first base portion and said second base portion are connected to each other by a hinge attached to adjacent ends of said first and second base portions.

5. A portable shelter device as claimed in claim 4, wherein each of said support members has a first end portion and a second end portion, and said first end portion and said second end portion are pivotally coupled to said hinge.

6. A portable shelter device as claimed in claim 1, wherein each of said first base portion and said second base portion comprises a frame having a plurality of internal spaces disposed between a top wall portion and a bottom wall portion.

7. A portable shelter device as claimed in claim 6, wherein said internal spaces have insulating inserts disposed therein, and a thickness of each insert substantially matches a height of the corresponding internal space.

8. A portable shelter device as claimed in claim 1, wherein said support base comprises a plurality of depending foot members.

9. A portable shelter device as claimed in claim 1, wherein said support base is provided with a securing strap to hold said support base in said folded position, and shoulder straps that enable said portable shelter device to be carried as a backpack when said support base is in said folded position.

10. A portable shelter device as claimed in claim 1, wherein one end of said hood is secured to said support base.

11. A method of making a portable shelter device, comprising the steps of: a) pivotally connecting a first base portion to a second base portion so as to form a support base which is foldable from an unfolded position, in which said first and second base portions are generally coplanar and define a support surface dimensioned to support a person lying at rest thereon, to a folded position in which said first and second base portions generally face each other; and b) providing a collapsible hood on said support base, said collapsible hood including a cover and a plurality of support members supporting said cover, said support members being pivotally connected to said support base such that, by pivotal movement of said support members, said hood can be moved between a collapsed state and a deployed state in which said hood covers a portion of said support surface to shelter the person lying at rest thereon, and said hood being arranged such that it is caused to move from the deployed state to a collapsed state by folding said support base from said unfolded position to said folded position.

12. A method of making a portable shelter device as claimed in claim 11, wherein when said hood can be deployed so as to cover said support surface to define an enclosed space.

13. A method of making a portable shelter device as claimed in claim 11, wherein said first and second base portions and said support members are arranged to have a common pivot axis.

14. A method of making a portable shelter device as claimed in claim 11, wherein said first base portion and said second base portion are connected to each other using a hinge attached to adjacent ends of said first and second base portions.

15. A method of making a portable shelter device as claimed in claim 14, wherein each of said support members has a first end portion and a second end portion, and said first end portion and said second end portion are pivotally coupled to said hinge.

16. A method of making a shelter device as claimed in claim 11, wherein each of said first base portion and said second base portion comprises a frame having a plurality of internal spaces disposed between a top wall portion and a bottom wall portion.

17. A method of making a shelter device as claimed in claim 16, wherein insulating inserts are disposed in said internal spaces, a thickness of each insert substantially matching a height of the corresponding internal space.

18. A method of making a portable shelter device as claimed in claim 11, wherein said support base is provided with a plurality of depending foot members.

19. A method of making a portable shelter device as claimed in claim 11, wherein said support base is provided with a securing strap to hold said support base in said folded position, and shoulder straps that enable said portable shelter device to be carried as a backpack when said support base is in said folded position.

20. A method of making a portable shelter device as claimed in claim 11, wherein one end of said hood is secured to said support base.

21. A method of sheltering a person in need of shelter, comprising the steps of: a) providing a portable shelter device including: a1) a foldable support base having a first base portion and a second base portion pivotally connected to each other so as to be foldable from an unfolded position, in which said first and second base portions are generally coplanar and define a support surface dimensioned to support the person lying at rest thereon, to a folded position in which said first and second base portions generally face each other; and a2) a collapsible hood including a cover and a plurality of support members supporting said cover, said support members being pivotally connected to said support base such that, by pivotal movement of said support members, said hood can be moved between a collapsed state and a deployed state in which said hood covers a portion of said support surface to shelter the person lying at rest thereon, and said hood being arranged such that it is caused to move from the deployed state to a collapsed state by folding said support base from said unfolded position to said folded position; and b) arranging the portable shelter device with said support base in said unfolded position and said hood in said deployed position to provide an at least partially sheltered space for the person over said support surface.

22. A method as claimed in claim 21, further comprising the step of: c) folding said support base from said unfolded position to said folded position, and thereby collapsing said hood, to enable transport of the portable shelter device.

23. A method as claimed in claim 21, wherein said hood can be deployed so as to cover said support surface to define an enclosed space.

24. A method as claimed in claim 21, wherein said first and second base portions and said support members have a common pivot axis.

25. A method as claimed in claim 21, wherein said first base portion and said second base portion are connected to each other by a hinge attached to adjacent ends of said first and second base portions.

26. A method as claimed in claim 25, wherein each of said support members has a first end portion and a second end portion, and said first end portion and said second end portion are pivotally coupled to said hinge.

27. A method as claimed in claim 21, wherein each of said first base portion and said second base portion comprises a frame having a plurality of internal spaces disposed between a top wall portion and a bottom wall portion.

28. A method as claimed in claim 27, wherein insulating inserts are disposed in said internal spaces, a thickness of each insert substantially matching a height of the corresponding internal space.

29. A method as claimed in claim 21, wherein said support base comprises a plurality of depending foot members.

30. A method as claimed in claim 21, wherein said support base is provided with a securing strap to hold said support base in said folded position, and shoulder straps that enable said shelter device to be carried as a backpack when said support base is in said folded position.

31. A method as claimed in claim 21, wherein one end of said hood is secured to said support base.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of provisional Application No. 60/938,954, filed on May 18, 2007, which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a portable shelter, such as for the homeless or for those requiring temporary shelter as a result of natural or other disaster. The invention is more particularly concerned with a portable personal shelter that provides effective protection from the elements and that is foldable for easy set-up and easy portability. The invention additionally relates to a method of making a portable personal shelter and to a method of sheltering a person in need of shelter.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with one of its principal aspects, the present invention provides a portable shelter device which comprises a foldable support base having a first base portion and a second base portion pivotally connected to each other so as to be foldable from an unfolded position, in which the first and second base portions are generally coplanar and define a support surface dimensioned to support a person lying at rest thereon, to a folded position in which the first and second base portions generally face each other. The portable shelter device additionally comprises a collapsible hood including a cover and a plurality of support members supporting the cover. The support members are pivotally connected to the support base such that, by pivotal movement of the support members, the hood can be moved between a collapsed state and a deployed state in which the hood at least partially covers the support surface to shelter the person lying at rest thereon. The hood is arranged such that it is caused to move from the deployed state to a collapsed state by folding the support base from the unfolded position to the folded position. A preferred design allows for an easy one-step folding of the shelter for transport. The materials used for the base, the support structures that support the hood, as well as the hood itself allow for the shelter to be lightweight and therefore, easily carried by one person.

In accordance with another of its principal aspects, the present invention provides a method of making a portable shelter device. The method comprises a step of pivotally connecting a first base portion to a second base portion so as to form a support base which is foldable from an unfolded position, in which the first and second base portions are generally coplanar and define a support surface dimensioned to support a person lying at rest thereon, to a folded position in which the first and second base portions generally face each other. The method additionally comprises a step of providing a collapsible hood on the support base, the collapsible hood including a cover and a plurality of support members supporting the cover. The support members are pivotally connected to the support base such that, by pivotal movement of the support members, the hood can be moved between a collapsed state and a deployed state in which the hood at least partially covers the support surface to shelter the person lying at rest thereon. The hood is further arranged such that it is caused to move from the deployed state to a collapsed state by folding the support base from the unfolded position to the folded position.

In accordance with still another of its principal aspects, the present invention provides a method of sheltering a person in need of shelter. The method comprises a step of providing a portable shelter device including a foldable support base having a first base portion and a second base portion pivotally connected to each other so as to be foldable from an unfolded position, in which the first and second base portions are generally coplanar and define a support surface dimensioned to support the person lying at rest thereon, to a folded position in which the first and second base portions generally face each other. The shelter device further includes a collapsible hood including a cover and a plurality of support members supporting the cover. The support members are pivotally connected to the support base such that, by pivotal movement of the support members, the hood can be moved between a collapsed state and a deployed state in which the hood covers a portion of the support surface to shelter the person lying at rest thereon. The hood is arranged such that it is caused to move from the deployed state to a collapsed state by folding the support base from the unfolded position to the folded position. The method additionally comprises a step of arranging the portable shelter device with the support base in the unfolded position and the hood in the deployed position to provide an at least partially sheltered space for the person over the support surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing and other aspects, features and advantages of the present invention will be better appreciated from the following description of the preferred embodiments, considered with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a portable shelter device according to a first embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view showing a variation of the portable shelter device of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is view showing structural details of the foldable support and the support members of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIGS. 4A and 4B are diagrammatic top plan and side views, respectively, of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, with views A-D showing certain details of construction;

FIG. 5 is a sequence of views depicting the manner of folding and carrying a portable shelter device according to the invention; and

FIGS. 6A and 6B are views showing the portable shelter device arranged for transport on a shopping cart.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1 and 2 are perspective views of two portable shelters 10 according to the invention. Each shelter 10 includes an insulating, foldable base 12, which serves as a sleeping support for the user. The support base 12 includes a support board portion 13 provided with a sleeping surface 14, which may be of a suitably comfortable pad material to facilitate restful sleep. The support base, which will be described in detail later, preferably includes a plurality of depending foot members 16 to raise the support board portion 13 above the ground or floor surface on which the shelter is placed for use.

A collapsible hood 20 is attached to the support base 12 to cover the user and provide a desired degree of privacy and protection from the elements. The hood 20 may be deployed to provide partial or full coverage of the sleeping surface 14. The hood includes a cover 22 of protective material, such as neoprene, supported at positions R by a plurality of U-shaped support members 24 (shown in FIG. 3 to be discussed later). Each of the support members 24 has its opposite ends pivotally supported to the support base 12. In the form shown in FIG. 1, the support members 24 are situated between layers of cover material, such that they are not exposed. However, one or more of the support members 24 may be exposed on the outside and/or the inside of the cover 22, as desired. An illustrative arrangement is shown in FIG. 2, where the front (left-most) support member is exposed. Otherwise, the shelters of FIGS. 1 and 2 are the same, except for color. The cover 22 may be attached to the support members 24 in any desired manner, such as by tacking, bonding, or forming the cover with channel-like pockets in which the support members 24 are inserted and confined. Other techniques will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art. Support members 24 can be made of plastic, such as PVC, or of any other suitable material, such as aluminum or other metal.

One end of the hood 20 is preferably affixed to the foldable support base 12 to increase stability and to simplify use of the shelter. With the hood 20 fully deployed to provide full coverage of the sleeping surface 14, the user is afforded complete privacy within an enclosed space beneath the hood and is effectively protected from the surrounding environment. The hood 20 may include one or more screened window openings with zippered covers (not shown), which may be open to allow for air flow between the surrounding environment and the space beneath the hood. Partial deployment of the hood as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 provides partial privacy for the user. The arrow in FIG. 2 indicates that the free end of the hood may be pulled fully forward and downward such that its inner periphery is juxtaposed to the outer periphery of the support board structure 13, thus providing a fully enclosed space.

FIG. 3 illustrates the construction of the foldable support base 12 in more detail. The foldable support base 12 is made of two portions, which are foldably coupled to one another by a hinge 26 (shown in FIG. 4 to be discussed later). In a preferred embodiment the U-shaped support members 24 are also pivotally supported on the hinge, such that the support base 12 and the hood 20 share a common pivot axis to facilitate quick and easy folding and unfolding of the personal shelter for transport and subsequent use.

The two portions of the foldable support base 12 can be constructed as identical U-shaped halves 12a, and 12b. Each half of the support base 12 includes a corresponding half of the support board 13 provided with a plurality of foot members 16. Each half of the support board 13 is constructed with a frame portion 30, preferably made of PVC or other suitably strong and lightweight material. The frame portion 30, has a plurality of axially extending internal dividers 31 and a surrounding peripheral wall 31a between its top and bottom walls 32, 33 to define a plurality of internal spaces 34. Spaces 34 are filled with corresponding inserts 36 preferably rigid foam insulation, such as rigid polystyrene. The thickness of each insert 36 is selected to match the height of dividers 31 and peripheral wall 31a. In practice, the top wall 32 of the frame portion 30 can be attached or molded to the remainder of the frame portion after installation of inserts 36, followed by attachment of a corresponding half of the comfort pad 14 to the top wall of the finished frame portion. The foot members 16 are conveniently made of the same material as the frame portion, so that the foot members 16 and the frame portion bottom wall, peripheral walls 31a and dividers 31 can be formed as a single molding.

FIGS. 4A and 4B are diagrammatic top plan and side views, respectively, of the illustrative embodiment of the invention. Sectional views A and B represent cross-sections through the support base at the positions indicated in FIG. 4A. View 4C illustrates a hinge connector 26, which connects the two halves 12a, 12b of the foldable support base 12 together and having the U-shaped support members 24 of hood 20 pivotally mounted thereon. The hinge connector 26 may be of any design suitable for attachment to the two halves 12a, 12b of the foldable support base 12 to couple the halves together. For example, the plates of the hinge connector may be made of PVC and bonded to the respective halves 12a, 12b of the support base 12. As shown in view 4B, the straight end of each support base half may be provided with a recessed portion 38 to receive a corresponding hinge plate, so that the foot members 16 at the center of the assembled support base 12 come into face-to-face engagement, the foot members thus acting as stops which limit unfolding the foldable base 12 to a state in which the sleeping surface portions of the halves 12a and 12b are coplanar. View 4D illustrates a support member 24 supporting cover 22 of the hood 20.

FIG. 5 is a series of views illustrating the manner in which the personal shelter 10 of the invention is folded for transport. Basically, the two halves 12a, 12b of the foldable support base 12 are folded upwardly about a hinge 26 and brought substantially together, causing the hood 20 to collapse with the cover support members 24 pivoting about hinge 26 and gathering together between the support base halves. The opposite ends of the support base 12 may be provided with straps 40 or other means to secure the ends together to prevent unintended unfolding of the shelter 10. As shown, the foldable support base 12 may also be provided with shoulder straps 42 to permit carriage of the shelter 10 in the manner of a backpack.

In large numbers, the portable shelter 10 of the present invention can be used as an effective means in the battle against homelessness and in situations, such as natural disasters, where mass sheltering of numerous people is required. Many homeless individuals own a shopping cart, which they use to transport their belongings. As shown in FIGS. 6A and 6B, the straps 42 may be used to secure the shelter 10 of the invention to the front end or undercarriage of a shopping cart for transport. When mounted as shown in FIG. 6A, the weight of the shelter is conveniently borne by one foot member 16 resting on the top front edge of the shopping cart basket. The shelter of the invention may also be used for recreational purposes.

It should be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described herein. Rather, those skilled in the art will appreciate that various changes and modifications can be made in keeping with the principles exemplified by the illustrative embodiments.