Title:
Heated kneeling tray
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A kneeling tray, for use by a worker when kneeling upon a ground surface, comprising a housing having a bottom which is positionable on the ground surface and a top having a cushion. A heating element is located within the cushion for warming the cushion. The heating element may be powered by line current and by rechargeable battery packs. The rechargeable battery packs may be recharged when the tray is connected to a line power source.



Inventors:
Tyler, Paul (Oakland, CA, US)
Application Number:
09/898836
Publication Date:
01/09/2003
Filing Date:
07/03/2001
Assignee:
TYLER PAUL
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C16/04; (IPC1-7): A47C7/50
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WHITE, RODNEY BARNETT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Richard W. Goldstein (Staten Island, NY, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A kneeling tray, for use upon a ground surface comprising: a housing, slab-like in shape, having a bottom for resting upon the ground surface, a top, and a pair of handles; a cushion, mounted in the housing and exposed at the top of the housing; and a heating element, within the cushion for imparting heat to the cushion.

2. The kneeling tray as recited in claim 1, further comprising at least one battery receptacle, for releasably engaging a battery power pack, and powering the heating element using that battery pack.

3. The kneeling tray as recited in claim 2, further comprising a line power cord, for powering the heating element with an AC power source.

4. The kneeling tray as recited in claim 3, further comprising a charging circuit, for interconnecting the line power cord with the battery receptacle for charging the battery power pack while the battery power pack is engaged with the battery receptacle and while the line power cord is connected to the AC power source.

5. The kneeling tray as recited in claim 4, wherein battery power packs are configured to supply power to cordless power tools such that the battery power packs may be removable from both the tray and the cordless power tools.

6. The kneeling tray as recited in claim 5, wherein the housing further comprises a charging port having an opening and wherein one of the battery receptacles is located within the opening, such that the battery pack may be inserted into the opening to engage that battery receptacle.

7. The kneeling tray as recited in claim 6, wherein the housing is slab-like in shape, having a pair of sides, and wherein the charging port is located in one of the sides.

8. A kneeling tray method, for use by a worker, working upon a ground surface, using a tray having a cushion and a heating element within the cushion and power tools having rechargeable removable battery packs, comprising the steps of: engaging one of the battery packs with the tray; heating the cushion with the heating element by powering the heating element with said battery pack; and kneeling upon the cushion by the worker.

9. The kneeling tray method as recited in claim 8, wherein the tray has a charging circuit, and further comprising the steps of: connecting the tray to an AC line power source; and charging the battery pack by interconnecting the AC line power source with the battery pack using the charging circuit.

10. The kneeling tray method as recited in claim 9, wherein the step of charging the battery pack is followed by: disengaging the battery pack from the tray; engaging the battery pack with one of the power tools; and powering one of the power tools with the battery pack.

11. A kneeling tray method, for use by a worker, working upon a ground surface, using a tray having a cushion and a heating element within the cushion and power tools having rechargeable removable battery packs, comprising the steps of: positioning the tray upon the ground surface; connecting the tray to an AC line power source; heating the cushion with the heating element by powering the heating element with the AC line power source; and kneeling upon the cushion by the worker.

12. The kneeling tray method as recited in claim 11, wherein the tray has a charging circuit, and further comprising the steps of: engaging one of the battery packs with the tray; and charging the battery pack by interconnecting the AC line power source with the battery pack using the charging circuit.

13. The kneeling tray method as recited in claim 12, wherein the step of charging the battery pack is followed by: disengaging the battery pack from the tray; engaging the battery pack with one of the power tools; and powering one of the power tools with the battery pack.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The invention relates to a heated kneeling tray. More particularly, the invention relates to a heated kneeling tray which is electrically heated using power from a cordless tool battery pack or AC line current.

[0002] Many occupations require that a worker kneel while carrying out their work activities. Often these activities require that the worker kneel on a hard, cold, floor or ground surface for an extended period of time. Such practice not only can cause considerable fatigue to the worker, but can rapidly remove body heat from the worker.

[0003] U.S. Pat. No. 2,829,705 to Godshalk et al.; Des. No. 376,481 to Bidwell; and No. 830,103 to Rundell each disclose various devices which provide a substantially flat, cushioned surface to kneel upon, and provide some type of side handles for portability.

[0004] U.S. Pat. No. 4,394,049 to Ward; U.S. Pat. No. 5,733,011 to Young et al.; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,882,081 to Earl, Jr. disclose devices having various configurations which provide support for the lower legs so that the user can enter a modified kneeling position.

[0005] U.S. Pat. No. 1,460,915 discloses a shoe salesman's stool which has built in heater and fan.

[0006] While these units may be suitable for the particular purpose employed, or for general use, they would not be as suitable for the purposes of the present invention as disclosed hereafter.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] It is an object of the invention to provide a kneeling tray which allows a worker to comfortably kneel upon a ground surface when necessary. Accordingly, the tray is repositionable on the ground surface using a pair of handles, and has a cushion upon which the worker can kneel.

[0008] It is another object of the invention to provide a kneeling tray which is well suited for use in a cold location. Accordingly, a heating element is provided within the cushion which heats the cushion and enhances the comfort of the worker.

[0009] It is yet another object of the invention to allow the device to be portable, so that it can be used in remote locations which line power is not available. Accordingly, the device may be powered using rechargeable battery packs. By a preferred embodiment the device is powered using rechargeable battery packs which are compatible with cordless power tools.

[0010] It is still a further object of the invention to allow the rechargeable battery packs to be recharged when the device is situated near a line power source. Accordingly, the device employs a built-in battery charger circuit, so that when line power is available, both the heating element and the charging circuit may be simultaneously powered so that the cushion is warmed and the battery packs are recharged for subsequent use in powering the heating element or other power tools.

[0011] The invention is a kneeling tray, for use by a worker when kneeling upon a ground surface, comprising a housing having a bottom which is positionable on the ground surface and a top having a cushion. A heating element is located within the cushion for warming the cushion. The heating element may be powered by line current and by rechargeable battery packs. The rechargeable battery packs may be recharged when the tray is connected to a line power source.

[0012] To the accomplishment of the above and related objects the invention may be embodied in the form illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Attention is called to the fact, however, that the drawings are illustrative only. Variations are contemplated as being part of the invention, limited only by the scope of the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] In the drawings, like elements are depicted by like reference numerals. The drawings are briefly described as follows.

[0014] FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic perspective view, illustrating the kneeling tray, per se.

[0015] FIG. 2 is a top plan view, with parts broken away, illustrating the heating element within the cushion.

[0016] FIG. 3 is a bottom plan view, illustrating exemplative locations for the line power cord and battery charging ports.

[0017] FIG. 4 is side elevational view, illustrating the kneeling tray in use, wherein a user/worker is kneeling upon the cushion.

[0018] FIG. 5 is a block diagram, illustrating functional interconnection of the major components of the kneeling tray.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0019] FIG. 1 illustrates a kneeling tray 10, comprising a main housing 12 including a slab 14, including a top 14T, a bottom 14B, and a pair of sides 14S. The housing 12 also has a pair of handles 16 which extend upward from the top 14T near the sides 14S. The handles 16 may be constructed as illustrated, substantially solid with hand cut-outs 18 for accommodating the hand of a user. The handles 16 and associated hand cutouts 18 allow the tray 10 to be easily repositioned by the user, even during the act of kneeling upon the tray 10.

[0020] A cushion 19 is located within the housing 12, such that it is exposed at the top 14T of the housing 12. The cushion 19 has a broad surface area and sufficient resilience and padding to absorb and distribute the weight of the user, and provide a comfortable surface upon which the user can kneel.

[0021] In addition, illustrated in FIG. 1 is a charging port 20, located in one of the sides 14S, and a charging light 22, for indicating status of a charging operation. The charging port 20 and charging indicator light 22 may of course be repositioned on the housing 12 wherever convenient, according to the particular design for the kneeling tray 10, created in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

[0022] FIG. 2 illustrates the tray 10, wherein a portion of the cushion 19 has been broken away to reveal a heating element 24. The heating element 24 includes numerous heating coils 26 distributed beneath the cushion 19 so as to substantially heat the entire broad surface of the cushion 19. The heating element 24 may alternatively comprise other types of devices which convert electricity to heat, such as a ceramic heating element, a solid state heating element, or even a device which can provide both heating and cooling using the Peltier effect.

[0023] FIG. 3 is a bottom view of an embodiment of the tray 10, wherein a line storage compartment 30 allows a line cord 32 to be extended a considerable distance from the housing 12 for connection to an AC power source, or retracted for storage. In addition, a battery compartment 34 may be provided for holding one or more battery packs 36. Battery receptacles 38 are located within the battery compartment to facilitate electrical connection with the battery packs 36. Also, the charging port 20 has one of the battery receptacles 38, and allows one of the battery packs 36 to be inserted into the charging port. The charging port 20 includes an opening 21 into which the battery receptacles 38 may be inserted to engage the battery receptacle 38 located within that opening. In addition, a spring-loaded door 23 may be provided (see FIG. 1), for covering the opening 21 when no battery pack is present within the opening, but which moves easily aside when the battery pack is inserted. Such spring-loaded doors 23 are commonly found in laptop computers, and other devices in which batteries are frequently replaced.

[0024] In FIG. 3, both the charging port 36 and the battery compartment 34 is illustrated. In practice, a particular embodiment of the tray 10 would likely use one or the other—the battery compartment provides less convenient access to the battery packs 36, but allows the battery packs 36 to be securely contained within the housing without risk of them becoming separated from the housing during use. On the other hand, the charging ports 20 allow the battery packs to be easily inserted and removed “on the fly”. Generally, with the charging port, when the battery pack is engaged with the battery receptacle, a portion of the battery pack is still exposed (as seen in FIG. 3), so that it can be easily grasped and removed. If charging ports 20 are employed, generally they would be symmetrically arranged, with one of the charging ports 20 located near each of the sides 12S of the housing.

[0025] FIG. 5 is a block diagram, illustrating functional interconnection of various components of the tray 10. In particular, a charging circuit 40 can provide the central interconnection for other electrical components, wherein power to the heating element is selectively supplied by an AC power connection/line cord 32 connected to an AC power source, or by one of the battery packs 36 that is connected to one of the battery receptacles 38. In addition, the charging circuit 40 can also direct power from the AC power connection 32 to one of the battery packs 36 through one of the battery receptacles 38.

[0026] According to the present invention, the battery packs 36 are configured so that they are used in conjunction with standard cordless power tools which themselves are powered by the battery packs. Thus, a worker may use engage one or more of the battery packs with the tray to power the heating element; remove one or more of the battery packs from the tray to power one of his cordless power tools; or charge one of the battery packs using the charging circuit of the tray when the tray is connected to the AC power source.

[0027] Referring now to FIG. 4, the tray 10 is positioned upon a ground surface 11. A user 50 is shown, having a knee 52. The user 50 is kneeling upon the tray 10, with his knee 52 upon the cushion 19. Accordingly, the tray 10 provides a more comfortable kneeling surface than the ground surface 11, and can provide heat to the user 50 as well.

[0028] During use, the user would typically position the tray 10 upon the ground surface 11, and connect the line power cord to an AC power source. Accordingly, the heating element will convert power from the AC power source into heat, and warm the cushion. Any battery packs engaged with the tray will be charged by the charging circuit, which interconnects the line power cord with the battery packs, provides conversion between AC and DC electricity, and provides voltage conversion as necessary, to facilitate safe charging of the battery packs. Once charged, the battery packs may be removed from the tray, engaged with a cordless power tool, and used to power the cordless power tool. If the tray must be positioned in a location which is not convenient to an AC power source, then power from the battery packs is supplied to the heating element.

[0029] In conclusion, herein is presented a kneeling tray which is heated to provide additional comfort to the user. The tray is selectively powered using battery packs as well as AC line power, and doubles as a battery charger for the battery packs when connected to a line power source. The invention is illustrated by example in the accompanying drawing figures and the foregoing description. However, such illustrations are exemplative of the inventive concepts. Numerous variations are possible while adhering to these inventive concepts. Such variations are contemplated as being a part of the present invention.