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The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/102,504, filed Oct. 3, 2008.
The present invention relates generally to a breathable and cushioning helmet design for use by individuals, such as engaged in contact sporting events, including auto racing, equestrian events and the like. More specifically, the present invention discloses a combination breathable and position restraining/impact resistant helmet, such as which incorporates features drawn from biasing springs or fluid absorption/redirection elements, which are incorporated into interior recess locations of the helmet and which serve to absorb, redirect and dissipate inertial and/or impact forces resulting from such as contact sports or the like.
The prior art is documented with various examples of helmets, the purpose for which being to absorb or cushion impact forces. Such helmets are particularly useful in certain type specific contact sports, and in which impact forces can otherwise cause injury to the wearer in instances where the force of such contact is not capable of being dissipated or lessened.
The present invention discloses a wearable helmet for providing at least one of impact force cushioning and redirection, anti-rotation and breathability. The helmet exhibits a concave shaped body dimensioned for placement over a user's head, with a plurality of individual and inward projecting elements associated with an interior facing surface of the body and contacting locations of the wearer's head. In this fashion, the projections exhibit a biasing component for cushioning and/or redirecting impact forces to the helmet.
Additional features include at least one anti-rotation projection extending from THE helmet in order to minimize rotational movement of the wearer's head. The anti-rotation projections can further include a back/shoulder contacting projection extending from a lower rear location of a helmet rim, and which terminates in a lower end portion contacting a midpoint location of the user's back which applies downward pressure during an impact event/collision.
Other features include first and second side projecting contact portions extending from side midpoint locations of the helmet rim. Each of the side contact portions terminate at a downward extending end in an arcuate shaped and shoulder supporting location to prevent side to side rotation of the helmet.
An ergonomically contoured and skull surface pad is supported by a plurality of the inward extending projecting elements, at least one of which may further include a pneumatic inflated impact absorbing element constructed of a semi-soft and inflatable plastic. Alternatively, the projecting elements can include one or more of mechanical spring impact absorbing/redirecting element, fluid retaining elements, pluralities of three dimensional oval stacked elements, and combinations of spring and fluid biasing elements.
Reference will now be made to the attached drawings, when read in combination with the following detailed description, wherein like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout the several views, and in which:
FIG. 1 is a first side view of the helmet design according to a first preferred embodiment of the present invention and further illustrating anti-rotation back and shoulder contacting projections extending from lowermost side and rear locations of the helmet rim;
FIG. 1A is a top view of the helmet design of FIG. 1;
FIG. 2 is an underside view of a helmet design according to a further embodiment and showing one desired pattern/array of impact absorbing/redirecting elements built into the helmet interior;
FIG. 2A is a rear side operational view of the helmet shown in FIG. 2 and further illustrating multiple anti-rotation and back/shoulder contacting projections extending from lower rear locations of the helmet rim, and contacting both the back and shoulders of the wearer to prevent rearward rotation of the user's head relative to the neck, such as in response to a rearward experienced impact;
FIG. 2B is a top view of the helmet shown in FIG. 2;
FIG. 3 is a side view of a variation of helmet design similar to that shown in FIG. 1;
FIG. 3A is a top view of the helmet design of FIG. 3;
FIG. 4 is an underside view of a helmet design, similar to that previously shown in FIG. 2, and according to a further embodiment which illustrates a further possible pattern/array of impact absorbing/redirecting elements built into the helmet interior;
FIG. 5 is an illustration similar to that shown in FIG. 4 of a yet further version of impact absorbing/redirecting elements built into a helmet interior;
FIG. 6 is a cutaway and enlarged side partial view of a contoured surface of a helmet and further showing a plurality of force absorbing and redirecting elements supporting a skull contacting pad, such as shown FIGS. 4 and 5;
FIG. 7 is a cutaway illustration taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 6 and showing a planar profile of the skull contacting pad and supporting elements;
FIG. 8 is an illustration similar to that shown in FIG. 6 of a cutaway and enlarged side partial view of a contoured helmet surface exhibiting a pair of force absorbing/redirecting elements supporting associated contact pad;
FIG. 9 is a cutaway illustration taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 8 and showing a planar profile of the pair of opposing and skull contacting pad and supporting elements;
FIG. 10a is a sectional illustration of a first type of pneumatic inflated impact absorbing element and such as which is incorporated into any of the helmet designs described herein;
FIG. 10b is a succeeding illustration of a mechanical spring impact absorbing/redirecting element;
FIG. 10c is an illustration of a fluid retaining element functionally similar to the items shown in either FIGS. 10a and 10b;
FIG. 10d is an illustration of a further variant of biasing element incorporating three dimensional oval stacked elements;
FIG. 10e is an illustration of a further modified spring configuration alternative to that shown in FIG. 10b;
FIG. 10f is an illustration of a combination spring and fluid biasing element; and
FIG. 10g is an illustration of a further type of spring absorbing element and in which collapsing hinges are defined at specified locations.
As will be described with reference to the several embodiments described herein, the present invention discloses a breathable and cushioning helmet design for use by individuals, such as engaged in various types of contact sporting events, these including auto racing, equestrian events and the like. As will be disclosed with reference to the succeeding embodiments, the present invention discloses a combination breathable and position restraining/impact resistant helmet, such as which incorporates features drawn from biasing springs or fluid absorption/redirection elements, which are incorporated into interior recess locations of the helmet to absorb, redirect and dissipate inertial and/or impact forces resulting from such as contact sports or the like. The ability to restrain the rotating and/or bending motions of the helmet contribute to minimizing or avoiding injury to the wearer engaged in various sport related activities.
Referring first to FIGS. 1 and 1A, both side and top views are shown at 10 of the helmet design according to a first and non-limiting embodiment of the present invention. A concave shaped helmet portion 12 exhibits an arcuate, generally bowl shape. Additional features include a forward positioned bill 14, as well as side ear/strap portions 16. The helmet and its associated extending appendages is constructed of a durable plastic or other synthetic material exhibiting the properties of controlled rigidity and impact resistance.
Anti-rotation projections are associated with the helmet and include a back/shoulder contacting projection 18 extending in a generally downwardly and contoured fashion from a lower rear location of a helmet rim 20. The back contacting portion terminates in a lower end portion 22, such as configured in an ergonomically supporting ball or other suitable shape for contacting an upper midpoint location of a wearer's back in a comfort inducing fashion. The rear contacting portion 18, in use, applies downward pressure during an impact event/collision, this in order to minimize rearward rotational movement of the wearer's head.
First and second side projecting contact portions are further illustrated by selected right side contact portion 24, this extending from a side midpoint location 25 of the helmet rim. The contact portion 24 terminates at a downward extending end in a generally concave, arcuate shaped and shoulder supporting location, see arcuate shoulder support 26. The provision of contact locations for both shoulders, in combination with the back contacting portion 22, further prevents side to side rotation of the helmet, in combination with the anti-rearward rotational support established by the rear projecting portion 18.
The sizing, position and dimensioning of the rear 18 and side 24 contact projections are such that they comfortably contact the back and shoulders of the wearer in use, this in order to prevent a rear-side experienced impact force from causing an undesirable rotation of the wearer's head, about the neck, thus causing injury. It is further envisioned and understood that, in one preferred variant, the dimensions of the helmet and associated rear and side contacting portions can be custom sized to correspond to the anatomical specifics of a given wearer, with additional variants also potentially providing a degree of desired adjustability such as associated with length adjustment structure incorporated into the interconnecting stem projecting portions 18 and 24.
FIG. 2 is an underside view of a helmet design 28, such as identical to the previously described variant 10 or alternatively according to a further embodiment. The helmet 28 focuses on the inside force cushioning and absorbing aspects and, in particular, illustrates one non-limiting pattern or array of impact absorbing/redirecting elements, see at 30, 32, 34, et. seq., built into the helmet interior. The elements 30, 32, and 34 each exhibit a cushioning and wearer contacting portion (such as a durable foam or soft plastic) as well as an underside extending and inner concave surface contacting stem portion, see respectively shown at 31, 33 and 35 for elements 30, 32 and 34. and which can further include either or both of a dynamic metal or plastic for accomplishing the desired features of force absorption and redirection for forces generated by the reaction forces of the user's head against the array of elements 30, 32 and 34 (this following and in response to an initial and external impact at a selected location).
The first indicated plurality of lower/inward facing support elements are referenced at 30, and which extend about an inner facing periphery of an outer convex/inner concave helmet surface 36. The additional sub-pluralities of support elements are shown at 32 and 34, these corresponding respectively to inner crown contacting locations 32 and uppermost locations 34 of the concave shaped helmet underside and which, in combination with the outer most peripheral extending impact portions 30, provide the combined features of redistribution of any localized impact force located at any edge, crown or upper head location. The spatial arrangement established by the support elements relative to the surface of the wearer's head further promotes a desired degree of ventilation/breathability when being worn by the user.
Referring to the side view FIG. 2A, in combination with the overhead view of FIG. 2B, the helmet 28 further illustrates a variant of the multiple anti-rotation and back/shoulder contacting projections, see back portion 38 terminating in a midpoint and ergonomically contacting location 40, as well as first (right) side extending portion 42 with like terminating location 44 and second (left) side extending portion 46 with terminating location 48. For purposes of ease of clarity of illustration, the rear and side extending portions are not shown in the underside facing view of FIG. 2. Also, and as with the variant disclosed at 10 in FIG. 1, the rear 38 and left 42/right 46 extending portions extend from respective lower rear and side locations of a helmet rim (see at 47 in FIG. 2A), and contact both the back 1 and shoulders 2 and 3 of the wearer 4, this in order to prevent rearward rotation of the user's head 5 relative to the neck 6 (see as shown in FIG. 2A), this again such as in response to a rearward experienced impact such as often associated with motor vehicle racing.
FIGS. 3 and 3A illustrate both side and top views, at 50, of a variation of helmet design similar to that shown in FIG. 1. Helmet 50 is similar to those previously disclosed at 10 in FIG. 1 and at 28 in FIG. 2, and illustrates an exteriorly convex/internally concave surface 52 with rearward downward projection 54 terminating in a back contacting (anti-rearward head rotating) portion 56 (such as which is ergonomically configured consistent with that previously described). The contacting portions, such as again shown at 56, can exhibit a generally cylindrical shape, however it is also envisioned and understood that such can also exhibit a wearer contacting ergonomic taper or profile. As with the earlier variants, a forward bill portion is also shown at 58.
Referring now to FIG. 4, referenced at 60 is an underside view of a helmet design, similar to that previously shown in FIG. 2, and according to a further embodiment which illustrates a further possible pattern/array of impact absorbing/redirecting (e.g. bumper) elements, see perimeter located and inwardly facing elements at 62, as well as inner and downwardly facing elements 64, which is further built into the concave helmet interior. The bumper elements 62 and 64 can each include a first wearer contacting and cushioning head portion (see again as selectively shown at 62) combined with an underside mounting and spring biasing portion (see as further shown by biasing coils 63 employed in associated with specified portions 62) which is in turn mounted to selected inner concave surface locations of the helmet interior.
The surface configuration of the bumper-like elements can also be varied and which is reflected in FIG. 4 by the generally triangular shape evidenced by selected elements 64, as well as a generally four-pointed star shape 65 evidenced by an inner and central-most located member. FIG. 5 further illustrates, at 66, a similar illustration to that shown in FIG. 4 of a further version of impact absorbing/redirecting elements, as shown by surface spaced and wearer contacting bumper elements 68 and 70, built into a helmet interior.
Referring now to FIG. 6, a cutaway and enlarged side partial view is illustrated at 72 of a contoured surface of a helmet, such as referenced in FIG. 4 but equally applicable to any of the disclosed embodiments. The illustration 72 shows a selected skull contacting portion, such as which is provided by a durable plastic or other material exhibiting an ergonomically contoured (see generally concave shaped surface) and skull surface contacting location, referenced by example as element 64 in FIG. 4.
Further illustrated is a plurality of individual underside extending, biasing and force absorbing/redirecting elements, at 74, 76 and 78, these supporting the wearer (skull) contacting pad 64 in a spaced and secured fashion relative to an inner arcuate (e.g. again concave) surface 80 of the helmet. FIG. 7 is a further cutaway illustration, taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 6, and showing a planar profile of the skull contacting pad 64 (such as which can be constructed of a durable foam or sponge-like wearer contacting portion) and the underlying supporting elements 74, 76 and 78 (which can further include any type of dynamic biasing component including both metal, plastic and admixed composites formed in a spring coil or like fashion and which provide the requisite characteristics of force absorption and redirection).
Referring now to FIG. 8, an illustration similar to that shown in FIG. 6 is generally shown at 80 of a cutaway and enlarged side partial view of a contoured helmet surface 82 (see as shown in FIG. 5) exhibiting a pair of force absorbing/redirecting elements, at 84 and 86, supporting associated contact pads 88 and 90 (see as also shown in FIG. 5 and which can again include a cushioning and durable foam or suitable soft plastic). FIG. 9 is a cutaway illustration taken along line 9-9 of FIG. 8 and, in combination with FIG. 8, shows a planar/ergonomic supporting profile of the pair of opposing and skull contacting pad and supporting elements 88 and 90 and which is supported atop the absorbing/redirecting element 84 and 86 (again including any type of metal/plastic spring biasing component) in a desired arrayed pattern from the inner concave surface 82 of the helmet. The coil shaped element 84 and 86 are also envisioned to include metal substrate portions coated with a suitable polymeric material.
Referring now to FIGS. 10A-10G, a series of sectional illustrations are shown of varying types of force absorbing/redirecting elements for mounting to interior (skull or crown contacting) locations of a helmet. As will be described in reference to each succeeding figure illustration, the elements described can include either or both the stem and interconnecting wearer surface contacting portions of a given element. FIG. 10A is a sectional illustration 92 of a first type of pneumatic inflated impact absorbing element, this exhibiting a hollow interior and which is accessible by a surface located nipple 93, and such as which is incorporated into any of the helmet designs described herein.
Although not shown, an air bladder can be built into the body of the element 92, and which can be accessible through the surface located nipple 93. A further variant also contemplates mounting a plurality of individual contacting elements 92 to various locations along a common bladder, such as covering the internal surface area of a helmet inner liner and which can access selected, or all, of the plurality of individual contacting elements 92 which are arrayed on the inside of the helmet in contacting and biasing fashion against the surfaces of the user's skull (forehead, crown and the like).
Referring to FIG. 10B, a succeeding illustration is shown at 94 of a mechanical spring impact absorbing/redirecting element. FIG. 10C is an illustration, at 96, of a fluid retaining element functionally similar to the items shown in either FIGS. 10A and 10B, and by which the pneumatic/air pressurization element of FIG. 10A is substituted by a hydraulic (more viscous) based fluid, such as primarily a water based fluid medium, although it is further understood that oils or other fluid medium can be substituted in order to achieve differing degrees of impact force absorption/redirection.
FIG. 10D is an illustration of a further variant of biasing element incorporating three dimensional oval stacked, integrally formed and fluidly interconnecting elements 98, such as which can be constructed of a semi-soft plastic material exhibiting fluid sealing and biasing properties. FIG. 10E is an illustration, at 100, of a further modified spring configuration alternative to that shown at 94 in FIG. 10B and by which a plurality of individual hinge contacting locations 102 are arranged at vertical spaced intervals along the length of the element 100 to establish controlled force absorption and collapse.
FIG. 10F is an illustration of a selected hybrid element exhibiting combined and alternating cross shaped spring 104 and fluid filled and biasing elements 106 arranged in stacked and alternating fashion. Finally, FIG. 10G is an illustration (such as in lengthwise extending cutaway) of a further type of spring absorbing element, at 108, and in which collapsing hinges 110 are defined at specified perimeter locations between individual subset segments making up a given cushioning/redirecting element. Depending upon the material content, thickness and configuration of the element 108, varying collapsing properties are designed into the element 108. It is also envisioned and understood that a fluid or air pressurizing medium can be incorporated into a sealed interior of the element 108, such as in order to further vary its performance characteristics.
As described above, the helmet provides for either immobilization or limited range of motion of the head and neck of the user, such as in given situations where it is desired restrain the range of motion to minimize the risk of injury. In combination, the force absorption and redirection elements protect against excessive injury from an impact force exerted at a specific location, and by absorbing and redirecting the force over a wider area associated with a plurality of such elements.
Having described my invention, other and additional preferred embodiments will become apparent to those skilled in the art to which it pertains, and without deviating from the scope of the appended claims.