Title:
Multimedia sunshade
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A multimedia sunshade apparatus for shading a chair has one or more support arms that are adjustably coupled to a chair at one end and a shade at another end. The shade is configured to display one or more media messages such as advertisements on both the inner and outer surfaces of the shade. The media messages can be displayed in a variety of forms, including direct printing, a detachable substrate, or an electronic display. The multimedia sunshade can also be fit with a unique universal adapter that allows the multimedia sunshade to be easily fit to a variety of existing chairs.


Inventors:
Pirshafiey, Nasser (Thousand Oaks, CA, US)
Cross Combs, Leigh (Reno, NV, US)
Application Number:
12/932725
Publication Date:
08/23/2012
Filing Date:
03/04/2011
Assignee:
PIRSHAFIEY NASSER
CROSS COMBS LEIGH
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H15/02
View Patent Images:
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20060249193TENT FRAMENovember, 2006Choi
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20080283104REINFORCED AXILLARY CRUTCH WITH ADJUSTABLE HANDGRIPNovember, 2008Weng
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Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A sunshade apparatus for attachment to a chair having a frame member, the sunshade apparatus comprising: a support arm having a proximal end and a distal end, the proximal end coupled to the frame member; a shade coupled to the distal end of the support arm, the shade having an inner surface that faces the chair and an opposing outer surface; and a first media displayed on the outer surface of the shade.

2. The sunshade apparatus of claim one, further comprising a second media displayed on the inner surface of the shade.

3. The sunshade apparatus of claim one, further comprising a second media displayed proximal to the inner surface of the shade.

4. The sunshade apparatus of claim three, further comprising a clamping member coupled to the shade and to the second media.

5. The sunshade apparatus of claim three, further comprising a transparent pocket coupled to the shade, the transparent pocket configured to retain the second media.

6. The sunshade of claim four, wherein the second media comprises an article readily capable of receiving print.

7. The sunshade of claim six, further comprising a third media displayed proximal to the inner surface of the shade.

8. A sunshade apparatus for attachment to a chair having a frame member, the sunshade apparatus comprising: support means for supporting a shade above the chair, wherein the shade has an inner surface that faces the chair and an opposing outer surface; and means for displaying a first media on the outer surface of the shade.

9. The sunshade apparatus of claim eight, further comprising means for displaying a second media on the inner surface of the shade.

10. The sunshade apparatus of claim eight, further comprising means for displaying a second media proximal to the inner surface of the shade.

11. The sunshade of claim ten, further comprising clamping means for displaying the second media proximal to the inner surface of the shade.

12. The sunshade of claim eleven, further comprising means for displaying a third media proximal to the inner surface of the shade.

13. The sunshade of claim twelve, further comprising universal adapter means for securing the sunshade apparatus to the chair.

14. A sunshade apparatus for attachment to a chair having a frame member, the sunshade apparatus comprising: a universal adapter coupled to the frame member, the universal adapter comprising: an outside gripping member having a top surface that defines a first opening and a gripping surface configured to receive a portion of the frame member; an inside gripping member having a gripping surface configured to receive a portion of the frame member; and a fastener that couples the outside gripping member to the inside gripping member, wherein a portion of the frame member is retained between the inside gripping member and the outside gripping member; a support arm having a proximal end and a distal end, the proximal end positioned in the first opening of the outside gripping member; a shade coupled to the distal end of the support arm, the shade having an inner surface that faces the chair and an opposing outer surface; and a first media displayed on the outer surface of the shade.

15. The sunshade apparatus of claim fourteen, further comprising a second media displayed on the inner surface of the shade.

16. The sunshade apparatus of claim fourteen, further comprising a second media displayed proximal to the inner surface of the shade.

17. The sunshade apparatus of claim sixteen, further comprising a clamping member coupled to the shade and to the second media.

18. The sunshade apparatus of claim sixteen, further comprising a transparent pocket coupled to the shade, the transparent pocket configured to retain the second media.

19. The sunshade of claim seventeen, wherein the second media comprises an article readily capable of receiving print.

20. The sunshade of claim nineteen, further comprising a third media displayed proximal to the inner surface of the shade.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority from provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/339,792, filed Mar. 8, 2010.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

REFERENCE TO A “MICROFICHE APPENDIX”

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Inventions

The field of the invention relates generally to sunshades, and more particularly, to multi-feature sunshades that also serve as advertising vehicles and can be connected to existing chairs.

2. Background Information

Individuals often use chairs of various types while spending leisure time outdoors at beaches and pools, for example. However, it has become well known that it is beneficial for individuals to limit their exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays while outdoors. Accordingly, various sunshades have been developed for use with chairs to limit the user's exposure to the sun. Such sunshades may be adjustable and capable of providing varying degrees of coverage to the user.

Nevertheless, the availability of such sunshades remains limited to individuals who wish to fit their personal chairs with sunshades in an effective, aesthetically pleasing, and cost efficient manner. Similarly, in many locations, chairs featuring sunshades are often unavailable to individuals when they visit commercial establishments such as hotels, resorts and cruise ships, for example. These situations may be attributed to a number of factors including the shortcomings of currently available sunshades.

For example, the designs of current sunshades may have limited ability to be easily and economically modified for connection to existing chairs. This may be due to the fact that the frames of existing chairs can be made from a variety of different materials and have a variety of different sizes and geometries to which the sunshades must be connected. Current designs are largely unable to provide an economical and universal solution to accommodate such different designs.

In addition, current sunshades lack a full range of adjustment capabilities. For example, current sunshades can typically be raised and lowered, but they cannot be adjusted laterally. Accordingly, the user often is required to move the chair as the sun moves rather than simply moving the sunshade in a lateral direction.

Current sunshades may also lack additional design features and performance capabilities that both commercial and individual purchasers may demand. For example, sunshades are often located and used in areas such as resort swimming pools, for example, that often attract large crowds. Yet, current sunshades are typically plain in color and fail to make use of their surface area that is capable of carrying branding and advertising media that could be presented to the many individuals that use or view the sunshades. In addition, current sunshades used in a typical resort environment lack technological and customer service-friendly features that could be used to enhance the experience of the user. Accordingly, there is a need for an improved sunshade that will overcome at least some of these problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Systems and methods for the use of a multimedia sunshade are disclosed. In one aspect, the sunshade apparatus described herein comprises a support arm having a proximal end coupled to a chair and a shade coupled to the proximal end of the support arm. The shade has an inner surfaces that faces the chair and an opposing outer surface.

In another aspect, the sunshade apparatus described herein comprises means for displaying one or more media messages on the sunshade. A first media is displayed on the outer surface of the shade. Additionally a second and third and any number of additional media messages can be displayed directly on or proximal to the inner surface of the shade. Clamps or transparent pockets can be provided to retain media messages proximal to the inner surface of the shade.

In another aspect, the sunshade apparatus described herein comprises a universal adapter to allow the sunshade apparatus to be easily connected to a variety of chairs having a variety of different frame geometries. The universal adapter has an outside gripping member having a top surface that defines an opening and a gripping surface configured to receive a portion of the frame member, an inside gripping member having a gripping surface configured to receive a portion of the frame member, and a fastener that couples the outside gripping member to the inside gripping member wherein a portion of the frame member is retained between the inside gripping member and the outside gripping member. The support arm of the sunshade apparatus is coupled to the opening in the top surface of the outside gripping member.

In another aspect, a portion or the entire outer surface of the shade, a portion or the entire inner surface of the shade, or any combination thereof, can comprise a screen such as an LCD capable of displaying digital images. The display may be connected to a wired or wireless network or linked to a wireless closed circuit system tied into a hotel or resorts own network system, allowing the touch screen display or a display with another user input device to be tied into services such as the hotel's reservation system, gambling and related entertainment, and food and beverage ordering, providing access to such systems to the user while positioned under the sunshade. In addition, the network can also be used to provide general interne access to the user through the display.

These and other features, aspects, and embodiments of the invention are described below in the section entitled “Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments.”

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Features, aspects, and embodiments of the inventions are described in conjunction with the attached drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of the sunshade connected to a chair in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates another perspective view of the sunshade connected to a chair in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates a top side view of the sunshade connected to a chair in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates a right side view of the sunshade connected to a chair in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 illustrates a close up view of the sunshade connected to a chair in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 6 illustrates an exploded perspective view of the components of the shade and shade frame in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 7 illustrates a sectional view of a corner member of the shade frame in another example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 8 illustrates a close up exploded view of the connection between a corner member and a cross member of the shade frame in another example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 9 illustrates a side perspective view of a portion of the shade connected to the shade frame in another example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 10 illustrates an exploded view of the upper joint in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 11 illustrates another exploded view of the upper joint in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 12 illustrates a side perspective view of the lower joint in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 13 illustrates an exploded view of the lower joint in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 14 illustrates a perspective view of a sunshade connected to a chair via universal adapters in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 15 illustrates another perspective view of a sunshade connected to a chair via universal adapters in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 16 illustrates a perspective view of a universal adapter in isolation in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 17 illustrates another perspective view of a universal adapter in isolation in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 18 illustrates a close up view of a sunshade connected to a chair via a universal adapter in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 19 illustrates a perspective view of a mediashade displaying various media in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 20 illustrates a close up view of a portion of a mediashade displaying various media in one example embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 21 illustrates another close up view of a portion of a mediashade displaying various media in one example embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIGS. 1 to 5, exemplary embodiments of a sunshade 10 are illustrated. Sunshade 10 is coupled to chair 12. As FIGS. 1 to 5 illustrate, a user 16 lays on chair 12 to position his head beneath sunshade 10 which provides shade to the user. While chair 12 is illustrated as a typical lounge chair in FIGS. 1 to 5, it can be appreciated that chair 12 can take on a variety of forms that are well known to persons of skill in the art. Also, while chair 12 is illustrated with a generally tubular framework 14, it is well known to persons of skill in the art that chair 12 can be constructed in a variety of different ways and of different geometries. As discussed in more detail below, sunshade 10 can be adapted to fit to virtually any type of chairs with the universal adapter disclosed herein.

Again referring to FIGS. 1 to 5, in one embodiment, sunshade 10 comprises a shade 18, a shade frame 20, upper joints 22, support arms 24 and lower joints 26. While FIGS. 1 through 5 illustrate sunshade 10 having a pair of support arms, there is no requirement that sunshade 10 actually includes two support arms. Instead, sunshade 10 can optionally be constructed having just one support arm if desired. A single-support arm design has the advantage of fewer installation components, fewer pieces to interfere with the user's experience, and lower manufacturing costs for sunshade 10, for example. Accordingly, the following description of all aspects of sunshade 10 described herein apply to both a single-support arm design as well as a dual support arm design.

In FIGS. 1 to 5, both the upper joints 22 and lower joints 26 provide for independent adjustment of the position of shade 18. For example, shade frame 20 and shade 18 can be rotated about the axis of upper joints 22. Similarly, support arms 24 can be rotated about the axis of lower joints 26, which in turn affect the position of shade 18. In combination, upper joints 22 and lower joints 26 provide for a wide variety of adjustment for shade 18. The position of shade 18 may be varied, for example, over the course of the day as the position of the sun changes to ensure that the user 16 remains shaded as desired. In another embodiment, upper joints 22 and lower joints 26 can be configured to provide for lateral movement of shade 18 by allowing for side to side movement of the support arms 24 in relation to the user. The ability to move sunshade 10 laterally can minimize the required movement of the chair as the sun changes position throughout the day.

Turning now to FIG. 6, one embodiment of shade 18 and shade frame 20 of sunshade 10 is illustrated in greater detail in an exploded view. In one embodiment, shade frame 20 comprises side members 28 and 30 and cross members 32 and 34 which are coupled to corner members 36, 38, 40 and 42.

FIG. 7 illustrates corner member 42 in greater detail and in cross section. In one embodiment, corner member 42 is formed from first half 44 and second half 46. In one embodiment, first half 44 and second half 46 are identical pieces, which has the additional benefit of minimizing manufacturing costs. Corner member 42 comprises a curved section 48 coupled to arms 50 and 52. As shown, curved section 48 comprises concentric arcs 54 and 56 and end walls 58 and 60. In one embodiment, curved section 48 includes one or more joining members. The joining member may comprise a male joint 64 configured to be received by female joint 62 to result in a secure fit of first half 44 and second half 46. Curved section 48 is coupled to arms 50 and 52 which extend substantially perpendicularly to end walls 58 and 60. In one embodiment, arms 50 and 52 may include cross members 66 and 68 which provide extra strength. As shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, in one embodiment, arm 52 of first half 44 also includes a spring loaded detent 70 which is discussed further below.

FIG. 8 illustrates a close up view of corner member 42 and cross member 34. As shown, in one embodiment, cross member 34 is constructed to define a hollow interior cavity 72 as well as detent receiving opening 74. In use, the geometry of hollow interior cavity 72 is configured to mate with the corresponding geometry of arm 52. Spring loaded detent 70 can be depressed slightly to allow arm 52 to be inserted into hollow interior cavity 72. Once arm 52 is inside hollow interior cavity 72 the spring loaded detent 70 is released and can extend into detent receiving opening 74 to lock corner member 42 and cross member 34 together. In other embodiments, spring loaded detent 70 could be replaced by other fasteners such as screws, nuts and bolts, or adhesives, for example.

FIGS. 8 and 9 also illustrate that in another embodiment, cross members 32 and 34 are formed to define a receiving channel 76 that is adjacent to and shares a side wall with hollow interior cavity 72. In one embodiment, receiving channel 76 is substantially circular. As shown in FIG. 9, shade 18 can include edge portion 78. In the embodiment that is illustrated in FIG. 9, edge portion 78 is circular and is configured to mate with receiving channel 76. Receiving channel 76 is configured to hold edge portion 78 to secure shade 18 in place. In one embodiment, edge portion 78 comprises a hemmed section of shade 18, and a rod is slipped through the hemmed portion and edge portion 78 is inserted into receiving channel 76. Shade 18 can be made from any suitable strong, weather resistant material. Suitable fabrics include but are not limited to nylon, cotton, rayon, fiberglass fabrics and flexible plastic sheets.

Turning now to FIGS. 10 and 11, upper joint 22 is shown in greater detail in an exploded view. Upper joint 22 comprises gripping member 80 and rotator 82. Gripping member 80 comprises a generally u-shaped member whose geometry is configured to receive side member 28 of shade frame 20. Gripping member 80 is dimensioned such that the volume within the u-shaped area is slightly smaller than that of the corresponding mating portion of side member 28. The side walls of the u-shaped gripping member 80 are also slightly flexible and are configured to expand slightly when made with side member 28. Gripping member 80 then exerts a gripping force on side member 28 to retain the upper joint in position. In another embodiment, a fastener or detent feature is used to further secure the position of gripping member 80 on side member 28.

Gripping member 80 also includes bolt 84 that pass through an opening in gripping member 80 and extends laterally away from side member 28. Bolt 84 passes through another opening in rotator 82 where it can then be secured with means such as spring washer 86, spacer 88, and nut 90. In one embodiment, rotator 82 utilizes spring washer 86 to allow for rotation around the axis of bolt 84 and to provide friction between the rotator 82 and member 80. In one embodiment, the inside wall of rotator 82 provides a bushing surface and the compression induced by spring washer 86 generates a friction fit between rotator 82 and gripping member 80 to maintain shade 18 in a desired position while also allowing for adjustment upon the application of minimal force. Rotator 82 can either be formed integral with or coupled to extension arm 92 that mates with support arm 24 in a manner similar to those described above for the components of shade frame 20, including standard fasteners or a detent feature.

Turning now to FIG. 12, lower joint 26 is illustrated. In one embodiment, lower joint 26 comprises frame connector 94, rotator 96, and connection arm 98. As discussed in more detail below, frame connector 94 is configured to have a geometry that is capable of mating with the geometry of the framework 14 of chair 12. In FIG. 12, the framework 14 is generally tubular. Thus, the corresponding portion of frame connector 94 is formed as a general u-shaped member that corresponds to the generally tubular framework 14. Although not illustrated, it should be understood that the geometry of frame connector 94 can be modified to accommodate different chairs having different frame geometry thereby allowing frame connector 94 to connect with chair framework of various types and shapes.

In one embodiment, lower joint 26 is connected to chair 12 with one or more bolts 100 and 102. One or more corresponding holes are drilled in framework 14 to accommodate bolts 100 and 102 which can then be secured by nuts. In other embodiments, other fasteners such as screws and adhesives, for example, can also be used.

FIG. 13 illustrates lower joint 22 in greater detail in an exploded view. Frame connector 94 comprises connector body 104 and face plate 106. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 13, connector body 104 comprises a generally u-shaped member whose geometry is configured to receive the tubular framework 14 of chair 12. Connector body 104 can also include guides 108 that comprise tubes that provide additional support for a fastener such as a bolt or screw that can be used to secure connector body 104 to chair 12. Connector body 104 can also include one or more female joints 110 that are configured to receive corresponding male joints disposed on face plate 106.

In one embodiment, connector body 104 is dimensioned such that the volume within the u-shaped area is slightly smaller than that of the mating portion of framework 14. The side walls of the u-shaped connector body 104 are also slightly flexible and are configured to expand slightly when mated with framework 14. Connector body 104 then exerts a gripping force on framework 14 to help retain the lower joint in position.

Connector body 104 also comprises bolt 112 that passes through an opening in connector body 104 and extends laterally away from framework 14. Bolt 112 passes through another opening in face plate 106 and rotator 96 where it can then be secured with means such as washers 114, spring washer 115, and nut 116. Rotator 96 can also include end cap 120.

In one embodiment, face plate 106 includes a dial 118 that includes a series of circular detents positioned in a circular pattern as illustrated. The circular detents of dial 118 are configured to work in conjunction with a plurality of positioning protrusions (not illustrated) disposed on the opposing surface of rotator 96. In use, one or more of the positioning protrusions extends into the circular detents of dial 118 to retain lower joint 22 in position. However, the positioning protrusions are also configured so that rotator 96 can be adjusted through the application of force to rotator 96. As the force is applied by spring washer 115 or other spring devices, the positioning protrusion(s) slide until it reaches the adjacent detent where it again extends into a detent to retain the lower joint 22 in its new position. The user can adjust rotator 96 to any desired position to affect the position of shade 18. Rotator 96 can either be formed integral with or coupled to extension arm 98 that mates with support arm 24 in a manner similar to those described above for the components of shade frame 20.

In yet another embodiment of the inventions described herein, FIGS. 14 through 18 illustrate universal adapter 500 that can be used to connect either sunshade 10 (“sunshade 10” references the sunshade system and methods described above with reference to FIGS. 1 through 13; lower joint 26 of sunshade 10 can be modified to include a linking member that can be connected to universal adapter 500 as discussed below), or a variety of commercially available sunshades that are known to persons of ordinary skill in the art, to a wide variety of chairs, such as chair 502. Moreover, in other embodiments, universal adapter 500 can be used to secure a wide variety of items to a variety of chairs. While universal adapter 500 is primarily discussed in the context of connecting a sunshade to a chair herein, universal adapter simply requires that a portion of the object that is intended to be connected to the chair be capable of connecting through the opening in the top surface of universal 500 adapter as discussed below. For example, universal adapter can be used to connect items such as umbrellas, beacons for use in identifying the chairs location to other individuals such as wait staff, and for use in posting various signage such as “reserved for . . .” or other messages.

While chair 502 is illustrated as having a generally tubular frame, it can be appreciated that chairs are constructed with frames that have a variety of different sizes and geometries including but not limited to square, rectangular, hexagonal, circular, elliptical, etc., and can be made from a variety of materials such as metal or wood, for example. As discussed below, the unique design of universal adapter 500 allows it to be used to connect sunshades to a wide variety of chairs having varying geometric shapes and sizes, and chairs that are constructed from a wide variety of materials and methods of construction

In addition, it can be appreciated by persons of ordinary skill in the art that sunshade 504 illustrated in FIG. 14 is shown as just one example of a type of sunshade that is presently available. Persons of skill in the art recognize that such exemplary shades typically include some form of a shade 506 for shielding the sun, and one or more support arms 508 that function to create space between the chair 502 and the shade 506 wherein the user can position his or her head. Currently available shades may also include some form of a joint or pivot point at one or both ends of the support arms to allow for adjustment of the shade. As discussed in detail below, universal adapter 500 is configured to connect with a portion of support arm 506 or a similar portion of the sunshade such as a pivot point or joint and provide for the attachment of sunshade 504 to a wide variety of chairs.

Turning now to FIGS. 16 and 17, one exemplary embodiment of universal adapter 500 is illustrated in isolation. In one embodiment, universal adapter 500 is comprised of outside gripping member 600 and inside gripping member 602, which are preferably formed as two separate pieces. In another embodiment, outside gripping member 600 can also be formed of two separate pieces along the line indicated by reference number 603, which can simplify the process of manufacturing outside gripping member 600 in some instances.

As illustrated in FIGS. 16 and 17, outside gripping member 600 comprises top surface 604, face plate 606, a pair of side walls 608, bottom surface 610, and interior surface 612.

Top surface 606 defines opening 614 that extends into the interior of outside gripping member 600. In FIGS. 16 and 17, the perimeter of opening 614 is shaped with a horizontal segment at one end, a pair of substantially parallel side walls disposed perpendicularly to the horizontal segment, and an arched segment disposed at the opposite end from the horizontal segment. However, as described in further detail below, the purpose of opening 612 is to receive a portion of the support arm or similar structure of the sunshade. Thus, the geometry of opening 612 is not limited to the geometry that is illustrated, but rather can easily be modified to match the geometry of the support arm or similar structure of any particular sunshade that is to be used as a linking member to provide a connection to the chair 502.

In one embodiment, face plate 606 is a substantially planar surface. Face plate 606 can include preformed openings 618 and 620. Openings 618 and 620 are configured to receive fasteners such screws or bolts, and openings 618 and 620 can be internally threaded but are not required to be. While not illustrated in FIGS. 16 and 17 (see FIG. 18), it can be appreciated that when a portion of the sunshade such as a support arm or other portion that is to be used as a linking member to provide a connection to the chair is inserted into opening 612, a fastener such as a screw or a bolt can subsequently be inserted into the threaded opening 618 to secure the portion of the sunshade that has been inserted into opening 612 and help lock it into position. In another embodiment, such fasteners may not be required as the clamping force exerted by universal adapter 500 can be sufficient to retain the portion of the sunshade that has been inserted into opening 612 and secure it in place.

In another embodiment, holes 620 are provided to allow for one alternative method of connecting universal adapter 500 to chair 502. For example, holes can be drilled through the chair frame where it aligns with holes 620, and fasteners such as screws, bolts, or pins can be inserted into holes 620, through the chair frame, and secured in place either with a nut or via internal threading on a corresponding hole 653 formed in internal gripping member 602 on the opposing side. In another embodiment, where outside gripping member 600 is formed as two separate pieces, fasteners can be inserted through holes 620 to secure the two pieces that form outside gripping member 600 either with a nut and bolt combination or via internal threading used with a screw.

Side walls 608 are disposed generally perpendicular to top surface 604, face plate 606, and bottom surface 610 as illustrated. The junction of the side walls 608 and top surface 604 forms a downward sloping angle extending from the interior surface 612 toward face plate 606. Similarly, the junction of side walls 608 and bottom surface 610 form a downward sloping angle extending from face plate 606 toward interior surface 612.

Interior surface 612 comprises upper wall segment 622 that is adjacent to top surface 604 and extends downward therefrom, externally sloping segment 624 adjacent to upper wall segment 622, first internally sloping segment 626 disposed below and adjacent to externally sloping segment 624, second internally sloping segment 628 disposed below first internally sloping segment 626, and bottom segment 630 extending downward and disposed below and adjacent to second internally sloping segment 618. Each of these segments extends for the entire width of top surface 604 and bottom surface 610. Ultimately, due to the angles formed by their junctions, externally sloping segment 624, first internally sloping segment 626 and second internally sloping segment 628 can be used to form a clamping force on a variety of geometric shapes of frames of chairs when used in conjunction with corresponding segments of inside gripping member 602 described in further detail below. The relative angles formed between the segments that comprise interior surface 612 can be varied to allow universal adapter 500 to be coupled to chairs having a wide range of sizes and frame geometries.

Inside gripping member 602 is configured to be coupled with and mirror the structure of interior surface 612 of outside gripping member 600. When connected together, inside gripping member 602 and outside gripping member 600 define an interior space that is configured to receive a portion of a chair to which universal adapter 500 is connected as shown in FIG. 18.

Inside gripping member comprises top surface 632, exterior wall 634, a pair of side walls 636, bottom surface 638, and interior surface 640. Top surface 632 extends between side walls 636 and is disposed substantially perpendicular thereto. Side walls 636 extend from top surface 632 to bottom surface 638, and conform to the angles formed by exterior wall 634 and interior surface 640. Bottom surface 638 extends between side walls 636 and is disposed substantially perpendicular thereto.

Exterior wall 634 comprises externally sloping segment 642 adjacent to top surface 632, internally sloping segment 644 disposed below and adjacent to externally sloping segment 642, and bottom segment 646 extending downward and disposed below and adjacent to internally sloping segment 644. Each of these segments extends for the entire width of top surface 632 and bottom surface 638.

Similarly, interior surface 640 comprises externally sloping segment 648 adjacent to top surface 632, internally sloping segment 650 disposed below and adjacent to externally sloping segment 648, and bottom segment 652 extending downward and disposed below and adjacent to internally sloping segment 638. Each of these segments extends for the entire width of top surface 632 and bottom surface 638. The relative angles formed between the segments that comprise interior surface 640 can be varied to allow universal adapter 500 to be coupled to chairs having a wide range of sizes and frame geometries.

In addition, in one embodiment, exterior wall 634 defines one or more holes 653 that extend from exterior wall 634 through interior surface 640 and can receive a fastener that has been inserted through holes 620 and through the frame of the chair in one embodiment of securing universal adapter 500 to the chair.

In yet another embodiment, exterior wall 634 defines one or more additional holes (not illustrated) in bottom segment 646 that extend from exterior wall 634 through interior surface 640. The holes are configured to receive a fastener such as a screw or bolt that can be used to couple inside gripping member 602 with outside griping member 600. In one embodiment, holes corresponding to the holes formed in exterior wall 634 are also formed in bottom segment 630, and such holes can be internally threaded to allow a screw to secure the two components to each other when a screw is inserted through exterior wall and into the threaded openings. The securing of such fasteners thereby cause the interior surfaces of the gripping members to exert a gripping force on the frame of the chair 502 to produce the final assembly illustrated in FIG. 18. In a preferred embodiment, universal adapter 500 is made from aluminum and formed through a CNC machining process. However, universal adapter can be made from any desired materials and methods that provide sufficient strength for universal adapter 500 to perform its functions. In addition, in the embodiments where screws are used to secure the various components of universal adapter and/or the sunshade to the adapter, additional security can be added by implementing a screw with a head that has a unique design that can only be removed with a uniquely shaped tool that corresponds to the design of the screw head. In another embodiment, a security cover can be placed over the screws that are used to couple the shade to universal adapter 500 and the universal adapter to the chair, wherein the security cover requires a unique tool to open the security cover and gain access to the underlying screws.

Accordingly, universal adapter 500 can be used in a method for securing a sunshade to a chair. In a first step, the outside gripping member is disposed onto the frame of the chair. In a second step, the internal gripping member is disposed onto the frame of the chair and the fasteners such as screws are used to couple the internal gripping member with the external gripping member. This causes a clamping effect whereby the internal surfaces of the internal and external gripping members exert a force on the frame of the chair. In a third step, a portion of the sunshade (or a portion of another device or object that is to be connected to the chair), such as a support arm, is inserted into the opening formed in the top surface of the external gripping member. In another step, additional fasteners, such as screws, for example, can then be inserted through the holes formed in the external gripping member to secure the portion of the sunshade that has been inserted into the opening formed in the top surface of the external gripping member to secure the sunshade in place. In another embodiment, additional fasteners can also be inserted through the universal adapter and through holes that have been drilled through the chair to further secure the shade in another step. Of course, the steps above do not necessarily have to be performed precisely in order as written, but rather can be performed in an order that is most efficient for attaching a particular shade to a particular chair.

Turning now to FIGS. 19-21, in yet another aspect of the inventions described herein, mediashade 700, in addition to providing shade from the sun, is also used as a vehicle to display and convey an advertising, branding, or promotional type message or other communication. For ease of description, the term “media” shall be used to refer to any type of advertising, branding, or promotional type message or other communication that is displayed on or connected to mediashade 700. For the exemplary embodiments described herein, although mediashade 700 is illustrated as one particular type of sunshade being used as the advertising vehicle, the sunshade that is used as the advertising vehicle according to the systems and methods described herein may be any type of existing sunshade that is capable of being modified to display the advertisements as described herein and then attached to a chair. Of course, sunshade 10 described in detail above can be used as an advertising vehicle as well.

Exemplary mediashade 700 comprises frame 702 coupled to shade 704 and support arms 706 that are coupled to universal adapter 500 which in turn connects mediashade 700 to chair 708. Shade 704 comprises outer surface 710 and inner surface 712. Outer surface 710 faces toward the sky and away from chair 708, while inner surface 712 faces toward chair 708 and the user's face when the user is lying on chair 708. It should be noted that in FIGS. 19 and 20, shade 704 is illustrated as being partially transparent. This has been done for purposes of better illustrating the media related features of the shade. In actual use, it is obviously preferable for shade 704 to be substantially opaque to maximize the shade's ability to block the sun.

In one embodiment, mediashade 700 includes first media 714 that is located on outer surface 710, second media 716 that is attached near inner surface 712, and third media 718 that is also attached near inner surface 712. The volume, location, and method of displaying the media illustrated in FIG. 19 are simply preferred embodiments, and there is no limitation or requirement that the media be positioned and displayed in the manner illustrated. Instead, media can be placed directly on or attached to any portion of outer surface 710 or inner surface 712 as discussed in further detail below.

Media 714 is displayed on outer surface 710 of shade 704. In FIG. 19, the exemplary media 714 is the word “MediaShade.” However, there is no limit on the content of the media that can be displayed on shade 704. For example, the media may include a brand name, slogan, logo, trademark, or virtually any other type of display or message. In one embodiment, media 714 can be painted, printed, silkscreened, stitched, overlaid, printed to another substrate and attached to the shade, or otherwise directly displayed on outer surface 710. Alternatively, media 714 can be a separate, removable attachment as described in more detail with reference to media 716 and 718.

With reference now to FIGS. 19-21, exemplary embodiments of media 716 and media 718 are displayed when connected near inner surface 712. In one embodiment, media 716 can present one advertisement or message, while media 718 can present a separate advertisement or message. As shown, media 716 and media 718 are positioned near the lower corners of inner surface 712. However, there is no limitation on the position of the media, and the only limitation on the number of media that can be included is the size and surface are of the shade.

In one embodiment, media 716 and media 718 are formed as a separate pieces (rather than being directly printed on the shade) that are then coupled to frame 706 via clamping members 720. Of course, media 716 and/or media 718 can be printed or otherwise positioned directly on inner surface 712 through the methods discussed above with respect to media 714. Media 716 and media 718 can take on any shape or style and can contain a brand name, slogan, logo, trademark, or virtually any other type of display or message, for example. In exemplary embodiments, media 716 and media 718 can be made from plastic, stock paper, laminate, sheet metal, or other suitable material and can be die cut, sheared, router cut, saw cut, laser cut, water jet cut, or prepared through any other method that provides a desired result having any desired geometry or dimensions.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 19-21, clamping member 720 comprises top clamp 724 and bottom camp 722. Top clamp 724 and bottom clamp 722 each comprise a c-shaped portion that is configured to receive the tubular geometry of frame 702 and a tab portion that extends toward the interior of the shade 704. In one embodiment, clamping member is coupled to frame with a fastener such as a screw or a bolt and nut combination. As shown in FIGS. 20 and 21, the tab portion of top clamp 724 and bottom clamp 722 define a slight opening into which a corresponding portion of media 716 and 718 can be inserted. In one embodiment, media 716 and 718 can include predrilled holes that allow one or more screws to be inserted through the tab portion of top clamp 702, through the media 716 or 718, and into the tab portion of bottom clamp 722 to secure the media 716 or 718 in place. In another embodiment, the connection of the media can be further stabilized by implementing one or more rivets, fasteners, adhesives or magnets to secure a portion of the media to the shade at the point on the media that is positioned toward the interior of the shade and away from clamp 720.

In yet another embodiment (not illustrated) the clamping member comprises a bottom camp only, and the top clamp is omitted. The bottom clamp still comprises a c-shaped portion that is configured to receive the tubular geometry of frame and a tab portion that extends toward the interior of the shade. In one embodiment, the clamping member is coupled to frame with a fastener such as a screw or a bolt and nut combination. Again, the tab portion of the bottom clamp can be coupled to the media to provide an attachment of the media to the frame of the mediashade.

In an alternative embodiment, clamping member 720 can also be used to secure a pocket or sleeve into which media can be easily inserted and displayed. In yet another embodiment, the media can be attached to the shade through the use of rivets, fasteners, adhesives, or magnets and connected directly to the shade or to any location on the shade frame.

Thus, it can be appreciated that the mediashade systems and methods described herein provide a method for providing advertising and promotional materials on a sunshade. In a first step, a first media is displayed on a first portion of the sunshade. In a second step, a second media is displayed on a second portion of the sunshade. In a third step, a third media is displayed on a third portion of the sunshade. In a fourth step, the sunshade is coupled to a chair. Of course, the number of steps of displaying media on any particular shade can vary, and the volume of unique media is only limited by the surface area of the sunshade.

In addition, the mediashade provides the basis for several embodiments of business methods for generating revenue from a mediashade. In one embodiment, “Entity A” provides the mediashade to “Entity B” which can be a hotel, resort, or cruise ship, for example. In one embodiment, the mediashade is provided to “Entity B” at a set lease rate which allows “Entity B” to control the media that is displayed on the shade. “Entity B” can choose to display its own media or contract with any number of third parties to display their media, for example. In this embodiment, “Entity A” retains ownership of the mediashade.

In another embodiment of the business method, the mediashade is owned by “Entity A” who provides the mediashade to “Entity B” which can be a hotel, resort, or cruise ship, for example. In one embodiment, the sunshade is provided to “Entity B” at no charge or cost to “Entity B.” “Entity B” is thereby able to provide its guests with the added luxury of a sunshade at no cost to itself. In this embodiment, “Entity A” retains ownership and control of the mediashade. “Entity A” then engages with “Entity C” which pays an agreed to fee (for example, a monthly rental fee) to “Entity A” to place media on the mediashade to promote the business or an interest of “Entity C.” “Entity A” can then repeat this process and sell or lease various portions of the mediashade to “Entity D,” “Entity E”, and “Entity F,” for example.

In another embodiment of the business method, the mediashade is owned by “Entity A” who provides the mediashade to “Entity B” which can be a hotel, resort, or cruise ship, for example. In one embodiment, the sunshade is provided to “Entity B” either at no cost to “Entity B,” or at an agreed upon lease rate. In this embodiment, “Entity A” retains ownership of the mediashade, but the parties split control of the content displayed on the mediashade. For example, “Entity A” can be in control of the outer surface of the mediashade and “Entity B” can be in control of the inner surface of the mediashade. “Entity A” can then display its own media or engage with “Entity C” which pays an agreed to fee (for example, a monthly rental fee) to “Entity A” to place media on the mediashade to promote the business or an interest of “Entity C.” “Entity A” can then repeat this process and sell or lease various portions of the outer surface of the mediashade to “Entity D,” “Entity E”, and “Entity F,” for example. At the same time, “Entity B,” which has control of the inner surface of the mediashade, can display its own media or engage with “Entity G” which pays an agreed to fee (for example, a monthly rental fee) to “Entity B” to place media on the mediashade to promote the business or an interest of “Entity G.” “Entity B” can then repeat this process and sell or lease various portions of the outer surface of the mediashade to “Entity H,” “Entity I”, and “Entity J,” for example. Of course, these examples are given for illustration purposes only, and one can appreciate that the different entities involved can agree to allocate control of the mediashade and its media content in a variety of methods and ways.

In another embodiment of the business method, the mediashade is owned by “Entity A” who provides the mediashade to “Entity B” which can be a hotel, resort, or cruise ship, for example. In one embodiment, the sunshade is provided to “Entity B” at no charge or cost to “Entity B.” “Entity B” is thereby able to provide its guests with the added luxury of a sunshade at no cost to itself. In this embodiment, “Entity A” retains ownership and control of the mediashade. “Entity B” can then charge a daily fee, for example, to each guest to utilize the added luxury of the sunshade, and “Entity A” and “Entity B” can share in the proceeds from such fees. The daily use of the sunshade can be monitored and regulated, for example, through the use of a tag that must be removed by an agent of “Entity A” before the shade can be used. He tag can include unique identifying information that can be entered into a database (either manually or through the use of RF-ID or equivalent technology as described below) to track the daily use and fees associated with the use of each sunshade.

In another embodiment, of the systems and methods described herein, each mediashade can include its own unique identification. For example, each mediashade can be fit with technology such as an RF-ID tag or an equivalent. When the mediashade is then put into use at a particular destination, a scanner or similar device or computer can be used to register each mediashade and information associated with each shade can be recorded in a database. The information associated with each mediashade includes but is not limited to the serial number of the mediashade, the date the mediashade was installed, the date the mediashade was used, how old the mediashade is, a current roster of advertising clients, and details regarding the lease or contractual arrangement for each aspect of the mediashade. In another embodiment, each mediashade can also include an internal GPS (Global Position System) that allows the position of each mediashade to be tracked globally. The GPS system can be powered with a battery or through solar panels located on the mediashade, for example.

The identification technology (such as RF-ID tags) and/or the GPS technology can be used in conjunction with all of the business methods described above. In such embodiments, the business method will include the additional steps related to using a scanner or similar device or computer to register each mediashade and record the desired information associated with each shade in a database. Similar steps can be implemented to use a computer to track the location of each mediashade that has been placed through the business method using the GPS technology found in each shade.

In yet another embodiment of the inventions described herein, the sunshade can also include a variety of electronic and related technological features that can further enhance the experience of the user.

For example, in one embodiment, a portion or the entire outer surface of the shade can comprise a solar panel or similar technology that is configured to convert solar energy into electrical power either for immediate consumption or for storage in a battery. The electrical power can then be used to power many personal entertainment devices and productivity devices such as music players, speakers, laptop computers, cameras, etc. Similarly, the electrical power can be used to power docking stations where such devices can have their batteries charged. In other embodiments, solar panels can be used to power vanity lights, reading lights, landscape lighting, decorative/cosmetic lighting or color induced themes, or virtually any other desired electronic device on or near the sunshade or chair.

In another embodiment, a portion or the entire outer surface of the shade, a portion or the entire inner surface of the shade, or any combination thereof, can comprise a screen such as an LCD capable of displaying digital images. In one embodiment, the display is also linked to a processer. In another embodiment the display may be connected to a wired or wireless network. In one embodiment, the display is linked to a wireless closed circuit system tied into a hotel or resorts own network system. As discussed in detail below, this allows the touch screen display or a display with another user input device to be tied into services such as the hotel's reservation system, gambling and related entertainment, and food and beverage ordering, providing access to such systems to the user while positioned under the sunshade. In addition, the network can also be used to provide general internet access to the user through the display.

In one embodiment, when coupled to a processor or to a network, the electronic screens discussed above can be used as interactive devices and configured to perform a variety of functions when operated by the individual using the chair. For example, in one embodiment, the display can be configured to operate as a touch screen gaming device whereby the user can play and/or wager on any number of games including casino style games while positioned in the chair beneath the sunshade. In another embodiment, the display can be configured as an interactive touch screen that allows the user to call a waitress to the user's specific chair location. In another embodiment, the display can be configured as an interactive touch screen that allows the user to place an order for any number of goods and services such as food and drink, and the processor or network can convey the identification and location of the chair to instruct a server where to deliver the food or drink. As yet another example, the display can be used to promote specific events or activities that are taking place at the hotel or resort where the sunshade is located. For example, the display could be used to advertise a golf course, a musical performance, or a meal special. The user could then interact through the touch screen of the display panel to make a tee time, buy tickets to the performance, or make dinner reservations, for example.

Also, with the continued popularity of cellular telephones, personal digital assistants, and other similar, wireless handheld communication devices, specific applications can be created for use with a sunshade at a resort or hotel. In one embodiment, each sunshade features a unique identifier such as a number or other sequence of alphanumeric characters. The user can then input the unique identifier into the application in the user's cellular phone or similar device. The application can be configured to allow the user to place an order for food or drinks, and the application then automatically conveys the requested order to the appropriate wait staff as well as the identification and location of the user's chair, thus allowing the wait staff to deliver the order directly to the user.

While certain embodiments of the inventions have been described above, it will be understood that the embodiments described are by way of example only. Accordingly, the inventions should not be limited based on the described embodiments. Rather, the scope of the inventions described herein should only be limited in light of the claims that follow when taken in conjunction with the above description and accompanying drawings.