Title:
SPOON
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A spoon for feeding an infant or an invalid has an elastic bladder that is compressed to distend a pliable bowl from a food conveying position to a food transfer position to positively transfer food into the mouth of the infant or invalid being fed.



Inventors:
Wood, Zak (Santa Monica, CA, US)
Application Number:
13/781767
Publication Date:
09/04/2014
Filing Date:
03/01/2013
Assignee:
WOOD ZAK
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G21/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DONG, LIANG
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Zak Wood (1517 Harvard Street Unit #4 Santa Monica CA 90404)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A spoon, comprising: a handle that supports an elastic bladder; a pliable bowl that is connected to the handle, the bowl having a outer surface, an inner surface, and a void that at least partially separates the outer surface from the inner surface; and a fluid passage that provides fluid communication between the elastic bladder and the void; whereby manual compression of the elastic bladder transfers fluid from the elastic bladder to the void to move the pliable bowl from a food conveying position toward a food transfer position.

2. The spoon as claimed in claim 1 wherein the elastic bladder is on a top surface of the handle.

3. The spoon as claimed in claim 1 wherein the elastic bladder is on a side surface of the handle.

4. The spoon as claimed in claim 3 wherein the elastic bladder is on opposite side surfaces of the handle.

5. The spoon as claimed in claim 1 wherein the elastic bladder is on a bottom surface of the handle.

6. The spoon as claimed in claim 1 wherein the handle comprises a core of a first plastic material and an outer surface of a second, softer plastic material that provides a slip-resistant grip.

7. The spoon as claimed in claim 6 wherein the second plastic material forms the inner surface and the outer surface of the bowl.

8. The spoon as claimed in claim 7 wherein the second plastic material comprises a food-grade silicone rubber composition.

9. The spoon as claimed in claim 8 wherein the fluid passage is formed in the first plastic material and the elastic bladder is formed of the second plastic material.

10. The spoon as claimed in claim 9 wherein the first plastic material extends past the handle under the inner surface of the bowl.

11. The spoon as claimed in claim 9 wherein the first plastic material extends past the handle under the inner surface of the bowl and is bonded to a portion of the outer surface of the bowl.

12. A spoon comprising: a handle; an elastic bladder; a pliable bowl that is an extension of the handle, the pliable bowl having an outer surface and an inner surface that are at least partially separated by a void; and a fluid passage that provides fluid communication between the elastic bladder and the void; whereby compression of the elastic bladder transfers fluid from the elastic bladder to the void to deform the pliable bowl from a food conveying position in which the inner surface is concave toward a food transfer position in which the inner surface is substantially flat.

13. The spoon as claimed in claim 12 wherein the elastic bladder is on a top surface of the handle.

14. The spoon as claimed in claim 12 wherein the elastic bladder is on at least one side surface of the handle.

15. The spoon as claimed in claim 12 wherein the elastic bladder is on a bottom surface of the handle.

16. The spoon as claimed in claim 12 wherein the handle comprises a core of a first plastic material and an outer surface of a second, softer plastic material that provides a slip-resistant grip, and the second plastic material forms the inner surface and the outer surface of the bowl.

17. The spoon as claimed in claim 16 wherein the second plastic material comprises one or more of a silicone rubber composition and a butyl rubber copolymer.

18. The spoon as claimed in claim 16 wherein the fluid passage is formed in the first plastic material and the elastic bladder is formed of the second plastic material.

19. A spoon comprising: a handle; a pliable bowl that is an extension of the handle, the pliable bowl having an outer surface and an inner surface that are at least partially separated by a void filled with a fluid; an elastic bladder filled with the fluid; and a fluid passage filled with the fluid and providing fluid communication between the elastic bladder and the void so that compression of the elastic bladder transfers the fluid from the elastic bladder to the void to distend the pliable bowl from a food conveying position to a food transfer position and releasing the elastic bladder returns the fluid to the elastic bladder and the pliable bowl to the food conveying position.

20. The spoon as claimed in claim 19 wherein the elastic bladder is supported by the handle and the fluid passage extends through the handle between the elastic bladder and the void.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This is the first application filed for this invention.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates in general to eating utensils and, in particular, to a spoon for feeding infants or invalids who find it a challenge to positively transfer food contained in a bowl of a spoon to their mouth.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Infants are commonly fed with a baby spoon having a bowl with pliable edges to protect the infant's mouth. However, because young infants and certain invalids do not have the muscle control required to positively transfer food from the bowl of the spoon to their mouth, feeding them tends to be a prolonged and messy process.

Consequently, a spoon for positively transferring food from a spoon bowl has been invented and is described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,851,574 which issued Feb. 8, 2005. However, this spoon has moving parts that may cause discomfort to the person being fed, and it is difficult to clean between the moving parts.

There therefore exists a need for a spoon for feeding infants or invalids that is easy to clean, stays hygienic and has no moving parts that can cause discomfort to a person being fed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore an object of the invention to provide a spoon for feeding infants or invalids that is easy to clean, stays hygienic and has no moving parts that can cause discomfort to a person being fed.

The invention therefore provides a spoon, comprising: a handle that supports an elastic bladder; a pliable bowl that is connected to the handle, the bowl having a outer surface, an inner surface, and a void that at least partially separates the outer surface from the inner surface; and a fluid passage that provides fluid communication between the elastic bladder and the void; whereby manual compression of the elastic bladder transfers fluid from the elastic bladder to the void to move the pliable bowl from a food conveying position toward a food transfer position.

The invention further provides a spoon comprising: a handle; an elastic bladder; a pliable bowl that is an extension of the handle, the pliable bowl having an outer surface and an inner surface that are at least partially separated by a void; and a fluid passage that provides fluid communication between the elastic bladder and the void; whereby compression of the elastic bladder transfers fluid from the elastic bladder to the void to deform the pliable bowl from a food conveying position in which the inner surface is concave toward a food transfer position in which the inner surface is substantially flat.

The invention yet further provides a spoon comprising: a handle; a pliable bowl that is an extension of the handle, the pliable bowl having an outer surface and an inner surface that are at least partially separated by a void filled with a fluid; an elastic bladder filled with the fluid; and a fluid passage filled with the fluid and providing fluid communication between the elastic bladder and the void so that compression of the elastic bladder transfers the fluid from the elastic bladder to the void to distend the pliable bowl from a food conveying position to a food transfer position and releasing the elastic bladder returns the fluid to the elastic bladder and the pliable bowl to the food conveying position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Having thus generally described the nature of the invention, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of one embodiment of the spoon in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of another embodiment of the spoon in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of yet another embodiment of the spoon in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 4 is an isometric view of yet a further embodiment of the spoon in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 5 is a schematic cross-sectional view taken along lines 5-5 of the spoon shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the spoon shown in FIG. 5 with the elastic bladder compressed and the bowl in the food transfer position;

FIG. 7 is a schematic cross-sectional view of another embodiment of a bowl of the spoons shown in FIGS. 1-4; and

FIG. 8 is a schematic cross-sectional view of yet a further embodiment of a bowl of the spoons shown in FIGS. 1-4.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The invention provides a spoon with a pliable bowl for feeding an infant or an invalid that positively transfers food into the mouth of the infant or the invalid. The spoon is hygienic, easy to clean and has no moving parts that can cause discomfort to the person being fed. An elastic bladder associated with the spoon is compressed to transfer a captive fluid from the elastic bladder to a void within the pliable bowl of the spoon. The captive fluid urges the pliable bowl from a food conveying position to a food transfer position in which food conveyed in the bowl is positively transferred to the mouth of the person being fed. When the elastic bladder is released, elastic memory of the elastic bladder and the pliable bowl return the pliable bowl to the food conveying position, ready to continue the feeding process.

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of one embodiment of a spoon 10 in accordance with the invention. The spoon 10 has a pliable bowl 12 with an inner surface 14 and a soft rim 16. A handle 18 is connected to the pliable bowl 12. In one embodiment the soft material of the rim 16 also covers at least the side surfaces 20 of the handle 18 to provide a slip resistant grip. A top surface 22 of the handle 18 has an enlarged circular section 24 that supports a compressible elastic bladder 26. As will be explained below with reference to FIGS. 5-8, the elastic bladder 26 is filled with a non-viscous fluid, and compression of the elastic bladder 26 by a person feeding an infant or an invalid transfers the fluid into a void within the pliable bowl 12 and causes the pliable bowl 12 to distend from a normal food conveying position in which the inner surface 14 of the pliable bowl 12 is concave to a food transfer position in which the inner surface 14 of the pliable bowl 12 is substantially flat (see FIG. 6). In use, the handle 18 of the spoon 10 may be supported by the middle finger and the webbing between the thumb and the index finger. In this position, the elastic bladder 26 may be compressed by downward pressure of the thumb.

FIG. 2 is an isometric view of another embodiment of a spoon 30 in accordance with the invention. The spoon 30 has a pliable bowl 32 with an inner surface 34 and a soft rim 36. A handle 38 is connected to the pliable bowl 32. In one embodiment the soft material of the rim 36 also covers at least the side surfaces 40 of the handle 38 to provide a slip resistant grip. A circular portion 42 of the handle 38 surrounds a compressible elastic bladder 44. The circular portion 42 is shown in a transverse plane with respect to side surfaces of the handle 38, but the circular portion 42 may be in another plane as a matter of design choice. It should also be noted that the elastic bladder 44 may be single-sided or double-sided, also as a matter of design choice. As explained above with reference to FIG. 1, the elastic bladder 44 is filled with the non-viscous fluid, and compression of the elastic bladder 44 transfers the fluid into the void within the pliable bowl 32 and causes the pliable bowl 32 to distend from the normal food conveying position in which the inner surface 34 of the pliable bowl 32 is concave to the food transfer position in which the inner surface 34 of the pliable bowl 32 is substantially flat. In use, the handle 38 of the spoon 30 is supported by the middle finger and the webbing between the thumb and the index finger. In this position, the elastic bladder 44 may be compressed between the thumb and the index finger.

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of yet another embodiment of a spoon 50 in accordance with the invention. The spoon 50 has a pliable bowl 52 with an inner surface 54 and a soft rim 56. A handle 58 is connected to the pliable bowl 52. In one embodiment the soft material of the rim 56 also covers at least the side surfaces 60 of the handle 58 to provide a slip resistant grip. A top surface 62 of the handle 58 supports a compressible elastic bladder 64 surrounded by a semicircular rigid rim 66. As explained above with reference to FIG. 1, the elastic bladder 64 is filled with the non-viscous fluid, and compression of the elastic bladder 64 transfers the fluid into the void within the pliable bowl 52 and causes the pliable bowl 52 to distend from the normal food conveying position in which the inner surface 54 of the pliable bowl 52 is concave to the food transfer position in which the inner surface 54 of the pliable bowl 52 is substantially flat. The elastic bladder 64 may be single-sided or double-sided. In use, the handle 58 of the spoon 50 is supported between the middle finger and the webbing between the thumb and index finger of a person feeding the infant or the invalid. In this position, the elastic bladder 64 may be compressed between the thumb and the index finger.

FIG. 4 is an isometric view of yet a further embodiment of a spoon 70 in accordance with the invention. The spoon 70 has a pliable bowl 72 with an inner surface 74 and a soft rim 76. A handle 78 is connected to the pliable bowl 72. In one embodiment the soft material of the rim 76 also covers at least the side surfaces 80 of the handle 78 to provide a slip resistant grip. A bottom surface 82 of the handle 78 supports a downward appendage 84 that in turn supports a compressible elastic bladder 86. As explained above with reference to FIG. 1, the elastic bladder 86 is filled with the non-viscous fluid, and compression of the elastic bladder 86 transfers the fluid into the void within the pliable bowl 72 and causes the pliable bowl 72 to stretch from the normal food conveying position in which the inner surface 74 of the pliable bowl 72 is concave to the food transfer position in which the inner surface 74 of the pliable bowl 72 is substantially flat. In use, the handle 78 of the spoon 70 is supported by the index finger, the thumb and the webbing between the index finger and thumb of a person feeding the infant or the invalid. In this position, the elastic bladder 86 may be compressed using the index finger.

FIG. 5 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the spoon 10 taken along lines 5-5 shown in FIG. 1, to provide an example of the construction and use of the embodiments of the spoons 10, 30, 50 and 70 shown in FIGS. 1-4. As shown in FIG. 5, the bowl 12 of the spoon 10 is in the normal, food conveying position. As can also be seen, the bowl 12 of the spoon 10 is hollow. A void 27 separates a convex bottom surface 15 of the bowl 12 from the concave top surface 14. The void 27 is a sealed cavity having fluid communication with the elastic bladder 26 via a narrow fluid passage 28 through the handle 18. A fluid 29 fills the elastic bladder 26, the passage 28 and the void 27. The fluid 29 may be, by way of example only, a light food-grade mineral oil, or if the elastic bladder 26 and the void 27 are made of, or lined with, a gas impermeable membrane such as a butyl rubber, the fluid 29 may be a gas such as air. The handle 18 of the spoon 10 is made of a rigid but flexible polymer such as polystyrene or high density polyethylene, for example. The bowl 12 is made of an elastomeric composition with elastic memory. For example, a food-grade silicone rubber, and/or a food-grade butyl rubber that is bonded to the handle 18 in a manner known in the art.

FIG. 6 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the spoon shown in FIG. 1 with the elastic bladder 26 compressed and the bowl 12 in the food transfer position in which the top surface 14 of the bowl 12 is substantially flat. When the elastic bladder 26 is compressed by a person feeding an infant or an invalid, the fluid 29 in the elastic bladder 26 is displaced through the passage 28 into the void 27. The void 27 is then distended, which forces the lower surface 15 downward. This pulls the rim 16 of the bowl 12 downward, which moves the inner surface 14 to the substantially flat food transfer position. Any food in the bowl 12 is thus positively transferred into the mouth of the infant or invalid being fed. When the elastic bladder 26 is released, elastic memory of the bowl 12 and the elastic bladder 26 return the expelled fluid 29 to the elastic bladder 26 and the bowl 12 returns to the food conveying position shown in FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a schematic cross-sectional view of another embodiment of a bowl 90 of the spoons 10, 30, 50 and 70 shown in FIGS. 1-4 in the food conveying position. In this embodiment the bowl 90 has a top surface 92 and a bottom surface 94 separated by a void 96. A fluid passage 98 through a handle 100 opens under the top surface 92 and provides fluid communication between the void 96 and the elastic bladder 26, 44, 64, 86. Fluid 102 fills the void 96 and passage 98, and causes the void to distend when the elastic bladder 26, 44, 64, 86 is compressed as explained above. As the void 96 distends, the top surface 92 is forced upwardly and outwardly to the substantially flat food transfer position.

FIG. 8 is a schematic cross-sectional view of yet a further embodiment of a bowl 110 of the spoons 10, 30, 50 and 70 shown in FIGS. 1-4 in the food conveying position. In this embodiment the bowl 110 has a top surface 112 and a bottom surface 114 separated by a void 116. A passage 118 through a handle 120 opens under the top surface 112 and provides fluid communication between the void 116 and the elastic bladder 26, 44, 64, 86. Fluid 122 fills the void 116 and passage 118, and causes the void to distend when the elastic bladder 26, 44, 64, 86 is compressed as explained above. As the void 116 distends, the top surface 112 is forced upwardly and outwardly to the substantially flat food transfer position.

In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 the handles 100, 120 extend further under the bowl 90, 110 of the spoon to provide extra support. As a matter of design choice, further support of the bowl 90, 110 may be provided by extending the rigid plastic of the handle up opposite sides of the bottom surfaces 94, 114.

Although the invention has been described with reference to various embodiments, the description provided and the embodiments shown are exemplary only. The scope of the invention is therefore to be limited solely by the scope of the appended claims.