Title:
INFLATABLE JUMPING DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The most broadly used jumping device today is a mini trampoline. This design has limitations and drawbacks: only one person may jump on it at any given time, the jumping techniques are limited to high jumps in the center of the jumping bed, and there is a risk of injury caused by the hard metal frame. Attempts of creating jumping devices without these disadvantages on the basis of an inflatable hose have failed due to their low positional stability—they shift and lift off the ground. The invention therefore provides the following solutions to the problem. In order to stabilize the jumping device comprising an enclosed tube (1), the device is weighted down by partially filling it with liquid (3) or bulk material. In order to prevent the filling from flowing off on an inclined subsurface, it is filled into a separate container that is located outside or inside of the air tube. In order to stabilize the device without any filling, the hose is attached to the ground by means of retaining fixtures. The stabilization types described above are used for jumping devices made of inflatable, preferably enclosed tubes.



Inventors:
Dukart, Waldemar (Brucken, DE)
Application Number:
12/312565
Publication Date:
02/11/2010
Filing Date:
11/16/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B5/11
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DONNELLY, JEROME W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Friedrich, Kueffner (317 MADISON AVENUE, SUITE 910, NEW YORK, NY, 10017, US)
Claims:
1. An inflatable jumping device for games and sport, especially for carrying out a succession of different kinds of jumps, which consists of a horizontally positioned tube, which preferably has a closed form and whose upper surface forms an elastic jumping surface, such that the tube has devices for stabilizing the position of the jumping device on its foundation, wherein the stabilizing device has a filler material that provides weighting.

2. A jumping device in accordance with claim 1, wherein the weighting filler material consists of a liquid or a bulk material.

3. A jumping device in accordance with claim 1, wherein the weighting filler material is located directly in the tube.

4. A jumping device in accordance with, claim 1, wherein the tube is joined with at least one container for holding the weighting filler material, said container being permanently or removably mounted on the tube.

5. A jumping device in accordance with claim 4, wherein the container is installed inside or outside the tube.

6. A jumping device in accordance with claim 4, wherein the container extends over the entire length or a portion of the length of the tube.

7. A jumping device in accordance with claim 4, wherein several separate containers are provided, which are distributed over the length of the tube.

8. A jumping device in accordance with claim 7, wherein each of the separate containers consists of a pocket.

9. A jumping device in accordance with claim 8, wherein the pocket is used to hold another container that contains the weighting filler material.

10. An inflatable jumping device for games and sport, especially for carrying out a succession of different kinds of jumps, which consists of a horizontally positioned tube, which preferably has a closed form and whose upper surface forms an elastic jumping surface, such that the tube has devices for stabilizing the position of the jumping device on its foundation, wherein the stabilizing device provides for direct mounting on the available supporting foundation, for example, the ground or indoor floor.

11. A jumping device in accordance with claim 10, wherein the stabilizing device has mounting fixtures in the lower region of the tube for mounting the tube on the ground.

12. A jumping device in accordance with claim 11, wherein the mounting fixtures comprise cables, loops, straps, knobs, and grips.

13. A jumping device in accordance with claim 11, wherein the mounting fixtures allow the tube to be fastened to a bracing device, for example, a ground anchor, either directly or by means of cables or chains.

14. An inflatable jumping device for games and sport, especially for carrying out a succession of different kinds of jumps, which consists of a horizontally positioned tube, which preferably has a closed form and whose upper surface forms an elastic jumping surface, such that the tube has devices for stabilizing the position of the jumping device on its foundation, wherein the stabilizing device provides for direct mounting on the available supporting foundation, for example, the ground or indoor floor, wherein a stabilizing filling according to claim 1 is additionally provided.

15. An inflatable jumping device for games and sport, especially for carrying out a succession of different kinds of jumps, with an elastic jumping surface, which is formed by the upper surface of a horizontally positioned tube, which preferably has a closed form, and/or with a jumping mat stretched over the tube, wherein a stabilizing device according to claim 1 is provided.

16. A jumping device in accordance with claim 1, wherein two or more jumping devices are placed alongside one another and/or surrounding one another to form a common jumping surface.

Description:

The invention belongs to a general class of varied and widely used play and sport devices designed for carrying out a succession of jumps. It allows the use of novel inflatable jumping devices that have important advantages over minitrampolines and thus represent an alternative to minitrampolines.

The most widely used jumping device today is the minitrampoline, which consists of a metal frame and a trampoline mat that is stretched by means of springs. An embodiment of a device of this type is described in German Utility Patent DE 20001391 U1. This simple and economical design presently dominates the minitrampoline market but has the following limitations and shortcomings:

(a) only one person at a time can jump on it

(b) the only possible jumping technique is high jumping in the middle of the trampoline mat

(c) the hard metal frame poses a threat of injury.

German Utility Patent DE 7911698 U1 and Offenlegunsschrift (Early Disclosure) DE 2333672 A2 disclose inflatable trampolines in the form of a tire tube over which a trampoline mat is stretched. This structure does not have a hard frame, so the threat of injury is eliminated. It also seems to offer new possibilities based on the fact that one can jump not only in the middle region of the trampoline mat but also on the tube in the edge region. In fact, however, when one jumps on the tube, the position of the structure becomes very unstable. First, the trampoline slips. In the case of jumps to the opposite side, it is pushed away by being kicked with the feet. The change in the position of the tube makes landing on it difficult. Second, the tube rebounds from the ground. When the user jumps onto it, the round tube is compressed between the feet and the ground, which causes it to flatten. When the user jumps off, the tube tries to assume its original round shape again, which causes it to push off from the ground. Since this process repeats itself over and over, the tube bounces on the ground like a ball with increasing amplitude until the user can no longer maintain his balance due to the overly unstable foundation. Third, the trampoline stands on edge. When the user jumps on the tube, a torque is produced, which stands the structure on edge and makes it impossible for the user to keep his balance. For these reasons, this type of trampoline only allows jumps in the inner region of the trampoline mat, which is no different from a conventional trampoline.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,734,496 describes one possible means of stabilizing this structure. This structure consists of a tire tube that is provided with a taut web on top and with stabilizing supports on the outer underside of the tube that prevent the tube from rolling away. This prevents the trampoline from tipping up on edge. The other two cases of instability, slipping and rebounding of the jumping device, could be prevented here only by making the stabilizing supports very massive, so that their great weight would be able to hold the tube on the ground. Stabilizing supports of this type are expensive and could also be a cause of injury. For the reasons that have been described, this structure, despite its stabilizing supports, only allows jumping in the inner region of the jumping mat. This device has the same limitations as conventional trampolines with respect to the number of persons who can use it at one time and with respect to jumping techniques. Devices of this type have not been commercially successful.

U.S. Pat. No. 2,775,452 discloses an inflatable jumping device for children that consists of a tire tube, in the center of which is installed a post that is anchored in the ground. The tube is permanently joined with a circular foundation that has a central circular opening for the post. The foundation surrounds the post and thus secures the device against lateral shifting. Children sit astride the tube and bounce their way around its circumference by pushing off the mat with their feet and repeatedly landing on the tube. The actual jumping surface here is the foundation, while the tube serves as a landing surface. Children do the same type of jumping on a jumping ball. The post with the foundation and the jumping activity in a sitting position ensure that the tube stays in a stable position on the ground. The device can be used by several persons at the same time. However, it only allows jumping in a sitting position, because the post in the middle of the device excludes other jumping techniques due to a considerable risk of injury. Other jumping techniques would be possible if there were no post, but without the post the stability problems described above would arise. To solve these stability problems, it would be necessary to provide a heavy and stable foundation, but this would be expensive and impractical to use. In this structure, positional stability was achieved at the expense of the available number of jumping techniques, thereby reducing the utility of the device, which was not commercially successful.

Attempts to create novel jumping devices with a tube as the jumping body that would be more advantageous than a conventional minitrampoline were confronted with the problem of insufficient positional stability. To solve this problem, relatively complicated structures were designed, and it was necessary to make compromises that limited the variety of possible jumping techniques. The fact that these kinds of trampolines are not present in the market shows that the proposed solutions are not sufficiently economical and effective and above all sufficiently attractive, since they do not offer any new possibilities for jumping techniques compared to conventional minitrampolines.

The objective of the invention was to solve the stability problems of jumping devices with a jumping surface formed by a horizontally positioned tube. The goal of the invention is to create a jumping device which does not have the limitations and shortcomings of previously known minitrampolines, such as the restriction to use by one person at a time, simple jumping techniques, risk of injury on the frame or other structural parts, and which thus offers new possibilities.

It seems obvious that a person can jump on an inflated elastic tube, provided that its position remains stable and its diameter is sufficiently great that flattening down to the ground is prevented. The tube can have a variety of cross-sectional shapes, but a circular cross section functions best. Due to its elongated shape, a tube offers a usable area that is much larger than the deformation area that arises when one person jumps on it. This fact makes it possible for several persons to jump on it at the same time. If the tube is formed into a closed shape, for example, a circle, ellipse or polygon, then it does not roll away and is more resistant to twisting. Furthermore, these shapes allow new jumping techniques, e.g., long jumps from one side to the other, jumps around the circumference, synchronized jumps by several persons, and other jumping techniques. For these reasons, closed forms are strongly favored as shapes for jumping devices. This type of tube seems to be an attractive jumping device that is simple and allows a variety of jumping techniques. However, despite their positive characteristics, there are no jumping devices of this type on the market. As has already been discussed, the specific problem of this structure, namely, its poor positional stability on the ground, is to blame for this. The positional stability is affected mainly by three factors: the weight of the tube, the weight of the jumper, and the dimensions of the jumping device. To increase the positional stability, it is necessary to increase the weight of the tube, decrease the allowable weight of the jumper, or increase the dimensions of the jumping device. Since regulation of the last two factors, results in limitation of the range of potential users, or is not economical, the problem must be solved by increasing the weight of the tube. Conceivable solutions would be a thick, heavy tube casing or, as mentioned above, a heavy, stable artificial foundation that is permanently joined with the tube. Both possibilities are expensive and impractical to use.

To stabilize inflatable jumping devices, whose jumping surface is formed by the elastic upper side of a horizontally positioned tube, the invention proposes a simple method, which consists in weighting the jumping device with a filler material. The filler material is an inexpensive material, and no great technical know-how is needed to place it in the jumping device. In many cases, it can be placed directly in the existing cavities of the structure.

If the filler material for weighting the jumping device is a liquid or bulk material, then it can also be fed in or removed through a relatively small opening, for example, a compressed air connection. Another advantage of a filler of this kind is that it does not have solid forms and therefore does not pose a risk of injury during jumping. Water is preferably used as the filler material. To make it possible for the device to be used even at subfreezing temperatures, the water is replaced by a nonfreezing liquid or sand. Since the liquid or bulk material runs off to one side on an inclined surface and thus causes instability, the type of weighting of the jumping device depends on the angle of inclination of the foundation.

For use on a horizontal or slightly inclined foundation, the air tube is directly filled with the weighting filler material. As a rule, 15 to 30 kg of additional weight are enough to ensure positional stability. For the specified amounts of weight, the level of filling in the voluminous tube is only a few cm high, so that even if the foundation is only slightly inclined, the filler material flows away from the higher side, which thus remains unweighted. To increase the permissible angle of inclination, a filler material of low density, for example, hollow plastic balls, can be used. At the same weight, it increases the level of filling, so that greater angles of inclination can be reached before too much filler material flows away from the higher side.

To be able to use the device on an inclined surface without the filler material flowing away, the filler material is placed in a container that is stably installed on the air tube. The container is located inside or outside the air tube. It is permanently joined with the air tube, for example, by adhesive bonding, or removably mounted on mounting fixtures. To be able to mount the removable container, mounting fixtures in the form of cables, loops, straps or the like, which are made of a flexible material, are provided in the lower region of the tube. Depending on the manufacturing process, the mounting fixtures are formed together with the body of the tube or are subsequently mounted on the tube. The container is mounted on it directly or by a cable. To reduce the damping effect of the resonant container, it should be placed in the lower region of the tube, resting on the bottom.

In one embodiment, the container extends over the entire length of the air tube and can also have a closed form. The container is completely filled with filler material. Accordingly, the filler material cannot flow away, and the device stays uniformly weighted even on an inclined foundation. Several containers of this type can be arranged on the tube, for example, for reasons of easier handling during the installation and removal of the containers.

In another embodiment, the filler material that provides weighting is placed in several separate containers distributed over the length of the air tube. This arrangement, combined with the possibility of removing the containers, offers an advantage if it is necessary for the jumping device to be frequently repositioned or stowed away, because the filler material, which weighs 15-30 kg, is distributed among several containers.

A special form of container is a pocket, which can hold a nonhomogeneous filler material, for example, locally available sand. The filler material can be placed directly in the pocket or in containers in the pocket. The containers that may be used include ordinary household packaging means, for example, plastic bags. The container prevents direct contact with the filler material and thus keeps the jumper and the jumping device from becoming dirty. The advantages of the pocket are that they can be quickly filled or emptied and that they eliminate the need to transport filler material to the site at which the jumping device is to be set up.

To stabilize the jumping device even without a filling or specially created structures, such as stabilizing supports, foundations with posts, etc., the invention proposes to use the mass and stability of the available supporting foundation, for example, the ground or indoor floor. To this end, the tube is stably mounted on the foundation by means of mounting fixtures. To avoid the danger of tripping, the mounting fixtures are positioned on the lower part of the tube near the contact surface with the foundation, as the foot does not come close to this area during jumping. As a rule, there are three of more mounting fixtures, which are uniformly distributed along the circumference of the jumping device. They can be produced as cables, loops, straps, knobs, grips or the like from flexible material or from metal covered with the same material used to make the tube. Depending on the manufacturing process, the mounting fixtures are formed together with the body of the tube or are subsequently mounted on the tube, for example, by adhesive bonding or vulcanizing. They are fastened, either directly or by means of cables or chains, to a bracing device installed in the foundation. The bracing device can be a ground anchor in the ground or a hook screwed into an indoor floor level with the surface of the floor. To avoid risk of injury, the mounting fixtures may not extend beyond the ground area occupied by the jumping device. Since there is no need for filling if this type of stabilization is used, the jumping device is very light and therefore very suitable for cases in which it must be frequently stowed away. A disadvantage is that one is bound to the location where the anchors are placed.

Each type of stabilization provided for an inclined foundation can automatically be used for a horizontal foundation as well.

The combination of different types of stabilization in a jumping device allows adaptation to a broad spectrum of circumstances and requirements.

A modification of the jumping device described above, which consists of a tube with a jumping mat stretched over it, can also be stabilized by the means of the invention. In this regard, it does not matter whether the tube forms an additional jumping surface or serves only for mounting the jumping mat.

The placement of several jumping devices of the invention alongside one another and/or surrounding one another, e.g., concentrically, allows a person to jump from one jumping device to another and makes room for even more persons to jump. New jumping techniques are made possible in this way, for example, competitive jumping around a loop formed by arranging several jumping devices in a closed line. This design variant can be used above all on playgrounds or in schools.

The invention discloses favorable and effective means for stabilizing inflatable jumping devices whose jumping surface is formed by a horizontal tube. The invention makes proper functioning possible and thus allows it to be used. Compared to conventional minitrampolines, these jumping devices have the following advantages:

1. They allow several persons to jump at the same time, which is fun, especially for children.

2. They allow a variety of jumping techniques, e.g., jumping around the circumference, long jumps to the opposite side, possibly with rotation of the body around its vertical axis, high jumping in place, jumping onto the knees, jumping in a sitting position, synchronized jumping of 2-3 persons, and other techniques.

3. They reduce the risk of injury, since they have no frame or other hard parts.

4. When empty, they are compact and light and can be conveniently transported and, when not in use, e.g., during the winter, they can be stowed away in a small space.

5. They are maintenance-free and very simple in design and construction, which makes them inexpensive and user-friendly.

The invention will now be explained in greater detail on the basis of the specific embodiments illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of the jumping device in use.

FIG. 2 shows a sectional view of the tube with filler material and the dimensions for the illustrated embodiment.

FIG. 3 shows a sectional view with a container that runs circumferentially inside the tube. The dotted line indicates an alternative arrangement of the container outside the tube.

FIG. 4 shows a front view of the jumping device with separate containers distributed over the length of the tube.

FIG. 5 shows a sectional view of the jumping device with mounting fixtures and ground anchors.

FIG. 6 shows a sectional view of the jumping device with a jumping mat stretched across the inside diameter of the tube.

The simplest design of the jumping device consists of three elements: an inflated, circularly closed tube 1 (FIG. 2), the air connection 2, and the filling 3. The jumping device can be used on a foundation that is horizontal or inclined up to 1%. The tube is manufactured from rubber or other elastic material by the same process used to manufacture a tractor tire inner tube. The wall thickness is 1.5 mm, and the cross-sectional diameter is 40 cm. This cross section allows jumps with an amplitude greater than 40 cm. With an inside diameter of 70 cm, the jumping device is large enough to allow several persons to jump at the same time. Long jumps from one side to the other can also be performed well by children on a jumping device with these dimensions. Due to the risk of injury it would otherwise pose, the air connection extends into the interior of the tube. It has a standard size with an inside diameter of 18 mm, which allows standard commercial air pumps to be connected. This diameter also allows water or bulk material to flow through easily. Before the tube is inflated with air, it is filled with 20 liters of water through the air connection. This results in a water level of about 3 cm. It is then inflated to the point that the heaviest jumper cannot flatten it to the ground.

The jumping devices discussed below contain the tube described above and were assembled by the installation of various supplementary devices. They can be used on both horizontal and inclined foundations.

The jumping device shown in FIG. 3 lies on an inclined foundation and has a container 5 that runs around the circumference of the tube. The container in this case is a closed tube with an inside diameter of 8.5 cm that is made of the same material as the air tube. It has a volume of 20 liters and is permanently mounted inside the air tube during the manufacturing process. It is completely filled with water or sand through the connection 7 before being inflated with air.

The jumping device shown in FIG. 4 is equipped with eight separate containers 8. To prevent injuries during jumping and to save space during storage and shipping, the containers are made of the same elastic material as the air tube. Each container holds 2.5 liters of water. With a diameter of 10 cm, its length is slightly more than 30 cm. Due to this relatively large diameter, there is the possibility that a person jumping on the tube could flatten the tube all the way down to the container. In this case, it is necessary for the container to yield without much resistance. For this reason, it may be filled only with water and not with sand. To mount the container on the tube, the container is provided with circumferential recesses and the tube is provided with mounting devices in the form of loops 9. The loops consist of the same material as the tube and are vulcanized onto the tube. The filled container is pulled through the loops until the loops rest in the recesses. This prevents the container from becoming detached from its connection with the loops. The loops are positioned in such a way that the container rests on the foundation.

In another embodiment, the jumping device is provided with pockets. The pocket consists of the same material as the tube. It is formed by a rectangular piece of flat material 20 cm wide and 25 cm high, and three of its sides are vulcanized onto the tube. It starts at the bottom at the contact line with the ground and extends upward along the outside of the tube. There are sixteen pockets all together, each filled with 1 liter of sand weighing 1.3 kg. To empty the pockets, the jumping device is turned upside down.

To stabilize the jumping device without filling, it is equipped with mounting fixtures. The four mounting fixtures 10 (see FIG. 5) are realized as knobs made of the same material as the tube. They are vulcanized onto the lower outside surface of the tube at equal distances from one another. A concrete cube 13 with an embedded chain 12 is cast in the ground at a depth of about 30 cm opposite each mounting fixture. With a chain length of 13 cm, it weighs about 5 kg. The chain ends at the surface of the ground and is connected with the knob by means of a cable 11.

The embodiments and space conditions presented in the examples show that the installation of two stabilizing devices, namely, the containers and the ground mounting fixtures, on a jumping devices is possible with no limitations.

In a jumping device with a jumping mat, the jumping mat 14 is stretched across the inside diameter of the tube, as shown in FIG. 6. The stabilizing devices do not get in the way, because they are installed on the outside or in the interior of the tube. For this reason, a device with a jumping mat can be stabilized by each of the methods described above.

The examples that have been given show that the stabilizing devices are located mostly within the ground area occupied by the tube. This allows any desired arrangement of several jumping device, including directly alongside one another, for the purpose of forming a large common jumping surface. This type of installation does not require any additional devices and presents no obstacles to or hazards for jumping from one jumping device to another. Since the jumping devices are not joined with one another, the arrangement can be quickly and easily changed, set up or taken down.

The jumping device does not differ in its structure or materials from a tubular flotation device or tire tube. Accordingly, it can be manufactured with the same technologies. Inexpensive means, such as water, sand or ground anchors, are used for the positional stabilization of the jumping device. The jumping device can be used privately, in schools or in fitness clubs, indoors or outdoors. Due to the variety of jumping techniques that the jumping device makes possible and its voluminous appearance, it provides an attractive incentive for use and thus can contribute to better athletic development of children, adolescents and adults.