Title:
Humidity-Controlled Housing for a Leather-Based Product
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides devices and methods in which humidity is regulated within a housing to reduce over-drying of moisture, sweat, and any other deteriorating liquids introduced into a leather-based product by its use. This over-drying of the leather-based product results in an undesired reduction in the amount of moisture content remaining in the leather which decreases the life span and tactile sensitivity of the leather-based product. A moisture-absorbing chemical, enclosed within a container, is positioned within the housing to stabilize a humidity level within a desired range. This humidity level reduces over-drying of the leather-based product by regulating the amount of moisture that escapes the leather-based product while in the housing. As a result, the life of a leather-based product, such as a sporting glove, is extended by reducing the deleterious effects caused by over-drying of the leather within the product.



Inventors:
Hultz, Eric (Discovery Bay, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/935361
Publication Date:
05/07/2009
Filing Date:
11/05/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
34/81, 34/416, 34/417, 206/459.1, 383/24, 383/61.3
International Classes:
B65D81/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BUI, LUAN KIM
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NORTH, WEBER & BAUGH LLP (3260 Hillview Avenue, 1st floor, PALO ALTO, CA, 94304, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An apparatus for storing a leather-based product, the apparatus comprising: a housing, having an opening through which the leather-based product may be inserted, that has a variable humidity level; a sealing component, located on the housing, that at least partially seals the housing; a container, having an inner chamber, that contains a moisture absorbing and emitting chemical that maintains the variable humidity level in the housing within a preferred range; and an internal attachment, located within the housing, that allows the container to be removably coupled within the housing.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 further comprising an external attachment located on the housing that allows the apparatus to hang from a supporting device.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the external attachment is a loop having a velcro portion inner side, in a secured position, attaches to a mesh outer side of the attachment device allowing the housing to be attached to a remote equipment.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the moisture absorbing chemical comprises a propylene glycol.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the moisture absorbing chemical comprises a potassium polyacrylate.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the container comprises an indicator line that identifies a threshold level for the moisture absorbing chemical to notify a user that additional moisture absorbing chemical should be inserted within the container.

7. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the leather-based product is a product selected from a group consisting of a golf glove, a batting glove, a football glove, a driving glove, and a goalie glove

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the preferred range is a range of 65%-75% relative humidity.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the housing comprises a zipper, which slides from a proximal end to a distal end of the housing, that sets the housing in an open position for allowing insertion of leather-based products into the housing.

10. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the housing is comprised of plastic-based material.

11. A golf glove storage device comprising: a sealable housing having an inner chamber defined by a plurality of walls in which a golf glove is stored; a sealing mechanism that seals the inner chamber from an external environment; and a container, coupled within the inner chamber, that contains a moisture absorbing chemical that regulates a humidity level within the inner chamber.

12. The golf glove storage device of claim 11 further comprising an external attachment loop that allows the sealable housing to hang on a golf bag.

13. The golf glove storage device of claim 12 wherein the external attachment loop comprises a hook and loop portion that allows a user to disconnect and reconnect the external attachment loop.

14. The golf glove storage device of claim 11 further comprising an internal attachment, located within the inner chamber, that secures the container within the housing.

15. The golf glove storage device of claim 11 wherein the moisture absorbing chemical comprises a propylene glycol.

16. The golf glove storage device of claim 11 wherein the moisture absorbing chemical comprises a potassium polyacrylate.

17. The golf glove storage device of claim 11 wherein the moisture absorbing chemical maintains a humidity level within a range of 65% -75% relative humidity.

18. A method for maintaining humidity-controlled storage for leather-based product, the method comprising: securing a container, within a housing, that has a moisture absorbing chemical which absorbs moisture content within the housing; monitoring the moisture absorbing chemical within the housing to identify if an additional amount of regulated humidity level; placing the leather-based product within the housing; and sealing the housing to reduce moisture from leaking from the housing.

19. The method of claim 18 where the moisture absorbing chemical is selected from a group consisting of propylene glycol and potassium polyacrylate.

20. The method of claim 18 wherein the leather-based product is a sporting glove.

Description:

BACKGROUND

A. Technical Field

The present invention relates generally to extending the useful life of leather-based products, and more particularly, to the maintenance of humidity within a housing in which the leather-based product is stored in order to reduce the amount of over-drying experienced by the leather-based products, such as leather gloves, after being used.

B. Background of the Invention

Leather-based products, such as leather-based gloves, have a preferred softness, suppleness, shape, gripping, and tactile sensitivity that allow the leather-based product to function properly. One important characteristic of leather-based products is the moisture content within the leather that results in the suppleness and gripping ability of the leather. As the leather-based product is used, this moisture content within the leather may vary which causes the leather to oscillate from being overly wet to over-dry during the life of the product. This oscillation of moisture content adversely affects the useful life of the leather and eventually causes the leather to become hard, brittle, and slippery.

The lifecycle of a golf glove provides a good illustration of this decay of leather caused by variance of moisture within the glove. At the time a golf glove is purchased, the characteristics of the glove provide a golfer certain functionality, such as supplementing the gripping of a club and the protection of hands from friction on the club, which aid in the performance of the golfer. In particular, the leather glove enhances the golfer's grip of a club to enhance control of the club and protects the golfer's hand from damage caused by friction between the hand and the grip on the club. However, one skilled in the art will recognize that the ability of the glove to supplement the gripping of the club and reduce friction on the hands decays as the glove is used by the golfer over time.

One reason for this decay in a golf glove is the introduction of sweat into the leather portions of the glove, and the subsequent over-drying of this leather after its use. This over-drying effectively causes the leather to lose some of its moisture content and causes the leather to start to become brittle and stiffen.

The maintenance of moisture content within these leather-based gloves is critical in the performance of the glove. Once the glove becomes too brittle and dry, the advantages of using the glove dissipate and the use of the glove may actually adversely affect the performance of the individual using it. As a result, leather-based gloves typically have a lifecycle during which the glove is purchased, used for a period of time, and eventually discarded because the decay of the leather therein. This lifecycle is at least partially affected by the frequency of use of the glove and the amount of moisture or sweat introduced into the glove during its use.

The cost of ensuring that properly functioning, leather-based gloves may become significant. For example, a golfer may cycle through 10-20 golf gloves in a year which may result in a significant coast to the golfer. This cost becomes even more evident in which athletic teams, such as golf teams, baseball teams, football teams and the like, require many hundreds of leather-based gloves for it players/

Accordingly, what is needed is a device and method for extending the useful life of leather-based products, such as leather-based gloves.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides devices and methods in which humidity is regulated within a housing to reduce over-drying of moisture, sweat, and any other deteriorating liquids introduced into a leather-based product by its use. This over-drying of the leather-based product results in an undesired reduction in the amount of moisture content remaining in the leather which decreases the life span and tactile sensitivity of the leather-based product. A moisture-absorbing chemical, enclosed within a container, is positioned within the housing to stabilize a humidity level within a desired range. This humidity level reduces over-drying of the leather-based product by regulating the amount of moisture that escapes the leather-based product while in the housing. As a result, the life of a leather-based product, such as a sporting glove, is extended by reducing the deleterious effects caused by over-drying of the leather within the product.

In various embodiments of the invention, the housing comprises an inner chamber in which the humidity level is regulated and in which a leather-based product may be sealed. The inner chamber has a removable container that has a moisture absorbing chemical that absorbs moisture within the inner chamber when the humidity level exceeds a particular threshold. In certain embodiments, the moisture absorbing chemical stabilizes the humidity within the inner chamber to between 65% and 75% relative humidity.

The storage of the leather-based product within the humidity-controlled storage device extends the useful life of the product. The leather-based product is able to maintain a desired suppleness, softness, shape, and tactile sensitivity for a longer period of time by eliminating moisture, sweat, and other liquids from the product in a preferred drying environment. As a result, the amount of dryness, cracking, loss of tactile sensitivity and shriveling is reduced when compared to a leather-based product that is allowed to dry in an open-air environment.

In various embodiments of the invention, the moisture absorbing chemical located within the container may comprise propylene glycol or potassium polyacrylate. These are intended as exemplary chemicals and one skilled in the art will recognize that other moisture absorbing chemicals may be used within the spirit and scope of the invention. The amount of the moisture absorbing chemical may decrease over time so that additional material may be need within the container. Accordingly, a threshold marker is provided on the container that indicates to a user when additional moisture absorbing chemical should be added within the container.

According to various embodiments, the housing can hold at least one glove but is not limited to securing only one glove but rather a plurality of gloves may be inserted into the housing. The container, in which the moisture absorbing chemical is located, may also be attached, fixed, or remain lose within the housing. The housing may also contain an external attachment, such as a loop, that allows it to be fixed to a device. For example, the housing may be used to store golf gloves and comprise a loop that allows the housing to hang from a golf bag.

Other objects, features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the drawings, and from the detailed description that follows below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Reference will be made to embodiments of the invention, examples of which may be illustrated in the accompanying figures. These figures are intended to be illustrative, not limiting. Although the invention is generally described in the context of these embodiments, it should be understood that it is not intended to limit the scope of the invention to these particular embodiments.

FIG. 1A illustrates a housing environment in a secured state according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 1B illustrates a housing environment including a hook and loop attachment in a secured state according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 1C illustrates a housing environment including a tube that houses a liquid chemical gel and a hook and loop attachment according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2A illustrates a housing environment in a non-sealed position according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2B illustrates a housing environment, in a sealed position, that includes a glove, a tube, and a hook and loop attachment according to various embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates a method of storing a leather-based product within a humidity-controlled housing according to various embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention provides devices and methods in which humidity is regulated within a housing to reduce over-drying of moisture, sweat, and any other deteriorating liquids introduced into a leather-based product by its use. This over-drying of the leather-based product results in an undesired reduction in the amount of moisture content remaining in the leather which decreases the life span and tactile sensitivity of the leather-based product. A moisture-absorbing chemical, enclosed within a container, is positioned within the housing to stabilize a humidity level within a desired range. This humidity level reduces over-drying of the leather-based product by regulating the amount of moisture that escapes the leather-based product while in the housing. As a result, the life of a leather-based product, such as a sporting glove, is extended by reducing the deleterious effects caused by over-drying of the leather within the product.

The following description is set forth for purpose of explanation in order to provide an understanding of the invention. However, it is apparent that one skilled in the art will recognize that embodiments of the present invention, some of which are described below, may be incorporated into a number of different computing systems and devices.

Structures and devices shown below in block diagram are illustrative of exemplary embodiments of the invention and are meant to avoid obscuring the invention. Furthermore, connections between components within the figures are not intended to be limited to direct connections. Rather, data between these components may be modified, re-formatted or otherwise changed by intermediary components.

Reference in the specification to “one embodiment”, “in one embodiment” or “an embodiment” etc. means that a particular feature, structure, characteristic, or function described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the invention. The appearances of the phrase “in one embodiment” in various places in the specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment.

In an embodiment of the present invention, FIGS. 1A, 1B and 1C illustrate a housing in which a preferred humidity level is stabilized for storage of a leather-based product. A leather-based product is any product comprising leather that may become overly moist, sweaty or saturated with water. Examples of such leather-based products include, but are not limited to, golf gloves, batting gloves, football gloves, soccer gloves, and driving gloves.

In various embodiments, the housing 100 is comprised of a plastic-based material and may be flexible or rigid in nature. The housing 100 may also be made of other materials besides plastic such as vinyl, Tupperware, and/or wood. The housing 100 comprises a front side 135 and a back side 140 wherein both the front 135 and back side 140 may be transparent in nature allowing a user to see the materials inside the housing 100.

The housing 100 has an opening 110 whereby the interior of the housing 100 is accessed and a leather-based product, such as a glove(s), may be inserted into the housing 100 for storage. The opening 110 may extend from a proximal end 120 to a distal end 130 of the housing 100. The opening 110 to the housing 100 may be accessed by sliding a zipper 125 from the proximal end 120 to the distal end 130. Using this sliding zipper 125, the housing 100 may also be sealed so that a large amount of moisture is not allowed to escape into the external environment. In various embodiments, the zipper 125 may consist of a plastic material in nature, but may also consist of any other types of materials used to construct zippers. The housing 100 has an opening 115 that allows a user to insert a fixture that would allow the housing 100 to be secured to a separate apparatus such as a golf bag, shelf, or equipment bag.

The housing's enclosure comprises a front inside 145 and a back inside 150 wherein an attachment 155 is secured within the housing 100, such as to the back inside 150. One skilled in the art that the attachment 155 may be realized using various structures. For example, the attachment 155 may be a hook and loop structure, such as Velcro, but can also be made of any other substance(s) or material(s) in which a device may be attached and secured to, and fixed within the housing 100. A container 160 is attached to the attachment 155 with a mate attachment that is securely fixed to the container 160. In certain embodiments, the attachment 155 may be placed along the back inside 150 in any desired location(s), position(s), or angle(s).

In various examples of the invention, the container 160 is a cylindrical tube which comprises an opening at both a proximal end 165 and a distal end 170. The proximal end 165 has an opening that is secured by a removable top 175 where the removable top 175 has an opening that allows chemical substances to be added or removed from the container 160. The distal end 165 has a removable top but remains in a secure position as to allow only the proximal end 165 removable top 175 to function in a removable capacity. One skilled in the art will recognize that the container 160 may be in any shape.

In certain embodiments of the invention, a chemical is inserted in an inner chamber within the container 160 that controls the humidity level within the housing 100 to reduce the deleterious effects of over-drying of a leather-based product. For example, this chemical may be propylene glycol, which is inserted within the container 160 to regulate humidity within the housing 100. The propylene glycol stabilizes the relative humidity at a desired percentage between the range of 65% and 75% so that a preferred environment is maintained for leather-based products after use.

For example, a sweaty sporting glove may raise the relative humidity to over 95%, but the propylene glycol absorbs this moisture to bring the humidity down when the humidity goes outside the desired boundaries of 65% to 75%. It is important to note that when the humidity is over 75%, mold may grow into the environment and when the humidity is under 65%, an extreme dryness may occur. If propylene glycol is used as the chemical discussed above, it is important that a sufficient amount of the propylene glycol is present to keep the relative humidity between 65% and 75%, which provides an optimal drying environment.

In various embodiments, the container 160 is secured inside the housing 100 by a Velcro attachment 155. The propylene glycol performs a humidification function by crystallizing, within the container 160, moisture from the air and emitting vapors to increase humidity depending on the relative humidity within the housing 100. The humidification process allows the leather-based product, such as a glove(s), located within the housing 100 to maintain tactile sensitivity for a longer period of time wherein the life of the glove(s) is extended and useability increased. In other words, the glove(s) playability, longevity, and pliancy will be lengthened and enhanced from the aforementioned humidification process involving propylene glycol.

Propylene glycol is an organic compound, usually a tasteless, odorless, and colorless clear oily liquid that is hygroscopic and miscible with water, acetone, and chloroform. Crystals keep the propylene glycol from coming out through the cap of the container 160. The crystals function as super sponges whereby the crystals can soak up to 100 times there own weight. Furthermore, one pound of crystals can soak up to 25 gallons of water. The crystals grow as they continue to soak up liquid from the glove(s) and/or housing 100. The crystals also decrease in size as the water evaporates.

This aforementioned growth function of the crystals allows a user to have a visual indication of when it is time to add water to the container 160, which allows the crystals to add moisture within the housing 100. In certain embodiments, the container 160 has an indicator line 180 inscribed on the outer portion of the container 160 where a user is alerted to add water once the crystals fall below the indication line 180.

In another embodiment of the present invention, FIG. 2A illustrates the housing 100 in an open position in which a glove may be inserted within the housing 100. Furthermore, FIG. 2B illustrates the housing 100 in a secured or closed position in which a glove 220, container 160, and Velcro attachment 155 are sealed inside the housing 100. The container 160 may be placed anywhere inside the housing 100 as long as the propylene glycol chemical within the tube 160 is enclosed within the housing 100 when zipper 125 is in a closed position.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the glove(s) 220 may be attached to either the front inside 145 or back inside 150, wherein the glove(s) 220 will hang from the proximal end 120 to the distal end 130 of the housing 100. The aforementioned embodiments may be encapsulated within this embodiment as well. The housing 100 may also have an insert or opening at the proximal end 120 of the housing wherein a securement device 230 allows a user to hang, mount, secure, dangle, or shelve the housing 100 onto some other platform or device (e.g., golf bag, shelf, locker, or equipment).

In yet another embodiment of the present invention, a user may elect to use the chemical potassium polyacrylate as a substitute for propylene glycol within the container 160 to perform humidification process. Potassium polyacrylate is another known super absorbent that act like a sponge. The similarity to propylene glycol ends at the sponge stage as potassium polyacrylate absorption of water occurs at the molecular level.

Potassium polyacrylate comprises a single polymer crystal that contains many long “springs” which can be both stretched and relaxed as water molecules come in contact with the “springs”. As the water vaporizes and leaves the bond, the “spring” comes back to its original compressed state. This expansion and contraction can occur hundreds of times before the crystals become used up. One skilled in the art will recognize that other chemical materials may be used that regulate a humidity level within a housing.

FIG. 3 illustrates a method, independent of structure, for storing a leather-based product within a humidity-regulated housing according to various embodiments of the invention. The leather-based product is positioned 310 within the humidity-regulated housing and the housing is sealed. The humidity level within the housing is controlled 320 so that it stabilizes within a preferred humidity range. In certain embodiments, this preferred humidity range is 65% -75% relative humidity.

The leather-based product is allowed 330 to dry within the humidity-regulated housing to provide a preferred environment for drying. If a leather-based product is inserted within the housing after being used and is sweaty, then the relative humidity within the housing will rise. Moisture absorbing chemicals are located within the housing that absorb this moisture to re-stabilize the humidity within the preferred range. If the humidity drops below the preferred range, then these chemical emit moisture into the housing to re-stabilize the humidity within the preferred range.

The process of absorbing and emitting moisture by the moisture absorbing chemical may result in a loss of moisture content within the chemical. As a result, the moisture content within the moisture absorbing material should be properly maintained 340 so that these chemicals are able to stabilize the humidity level within the housing.

The foregoing description of the invention has been described for purposes of clarity and understanding. It is not intended to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Various modifications may be possible within the scope and equivalence of the appended claims.