Title:
Storage pillow
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A storage pillow is provided having a flexible casing formed by two body panels joined together with an unjoined portion in the form of a mouth that communicates with an interior. The body panels may be constructed of a water resistant material and the casing mouth may have an associated closure. There may also be a cushioning layer interposed between the body panels. The pillow also includes an inflatable bladder that is removably disposed inside the casing. The bladder may be filled with air via an inflation valve that communicates with an array of inflatable cells in communication with one another. The inflated bladder provides protection for the storage of items or may be used as a cushioned support. The bladder has an associated closure to enable it to retain personal items within its interior.



Inventors:
Dickinson, Kent H. (Covington, GA, US)
Application Number:
10/196348
Publication Date:
03/20/2003
Filing Date:
07/15/2002
Assignee:
DICKINSON KENT H.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
383/3, 383/5, 383/64
International Classes:
B65D5/42; B65D30/08; B65D33/00; B65D33/16; B65D33/25; B65D33/34; B65D71/00; B65D81/03; B65D85/00; B65D85/30; B65D85/84; G06F7/00; G06F17/00; G06K21/06; G08B5/22; G08B13/14; G09F23/00; B65D71/02; B65D; (IPC1-7): B65D30/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LUONG, SHIAN TINH NHAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TIMOTHY J. MARTIN, P.C. (LAKEWOOD, CO, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A storage pillow, comprising: a. a flexible outer casing having a casing interior and formed by first and second flexible body panels joined about a majority of a perimeter of said outer casing, with an unjoined portion defining a mouth communicating with the casing interior; b. an inflatable bladder removably disposed in the casing interior and having an associated bladder interior for receiving and storing the personal items, said inflatable bladder adapted to be filled with a selected quantity of air to provide cushioned protection for said personal items as well as cushioned support for the user; and c. a closure associated with said inflatable bladder and movable between a closure open position such that the personal items may be inserted into and removed from the bladder interior and a closure closed position to retain the personal items in the bladder interior.

2. A pillow according to claim 1 wherein each of said first and second flexible body panels is formed as a multi-layered construction.

3. A pillow according to claim 2 including a cushioning layer interposed between said first and second flexible body panels.

4. A pillow according to claim 1 including a first grommet disposed on said first flexible body panel and a second grommet disposed on said second flexible body panel.

5. A pillow according to claim 1 wherein said inflatable bladder includes an inflation valve having a valve stem adapted to receive the selected quantity of air from an air source.

6. A pillow according to claim 5 wherein said inflatable bladder includes an array of cells which communicate with said inflation valve.

7. A pillow according to claim 1 wherein said closure is formed by cooperative hook and loop fasteners.

8. A pillow according to claim 1 wherein said closure is formed by matable tongue and groove structures.

9. A pillow adapted to provide a substantially dry storage for personal items while providing cushioned support to a user, said pillow comprising: a. a flexible outer casing having a casing interior and including: (i) first and second flexible casing body panels joined about a majority of a perimeter of said casing with an unjoined portion defining a casing mouth communicating with the casing interior; (ii) an outer casing closure selectively movable between open and closed positions; and b. an inflatable bladder removably disposed in the casing interior and having an associated bladder interior for storing the personal items, said inflatable bladder adapted to receive a selected quantity of air to provide cushioned protection for said personal items as well as cushioned support for the user, said inflatable bladder including: (i) first and second bladder body panels each formed of a water resistant material and sealed about a majority of a perimeter of said inflatable bladder to define a sealed edge, with an unjoined portion defining a bladder mouth communicating with the bladder interior; and (ii) a bladder closure movable between an associated open position such that the personal items may be inserted into and removed from the bladder interior and an associated closed position to sealably retain the personal items in the bladder interior.

10. A pillow according to claim wherein each of said first and second flexible casing body panels is formed of a fabric material.

11. A pillow according to claim wherein each of said first and second flexible casing body panels is formed as a multi-layered construction.

12. A pillow according to claim 11 including a cushioning layer interposed between said first and second flexible casing body panels.

13. A pillow according to claim 9 including a first grommet disposed on said first flexible casing body panel and a second grommet disposed on said second flexible casing body panel in opposed relationship to said first grommet so that an elongated securement member can be inserted through said first and second grommets and fastened to said flexible outer casing.

14. A pillow according to claim 9 wherein said inflatable bladder is a multilayer plastic construction and includes an array of inflatable cells in fluid communication with one another.

15. A pillow according to claim 14 wherein said inflatable bladder includes an inflation valve in fluid communication with each of said inflatable cells and having a valve stem adapted to couple to an air source.

16. A pillow according to claim 9 and 13 wherein said outer casing closure is a zipper having a pull tab.

17. A pillow according to any of claims 9 and 16 wherein said bladder closure is formed by cooperative hook and loop fasteners secured to said bladder mouth.

18. A pillow according to claim any of claims 9 and 16 wherein said bladder closure is formed by matable tongue and groove structures secured to said bladder mouth.

19. A container adapted to provide protected storage for personal items, comprising: a. a casing having a casing interior and a mouth communicating with the casing interior; b. a fillable insert structure removably disposed in the casing interior and having an associated insert interior for receiving the personal items and an associated mouth communicating with the insert interior, said fillable insert structure adapted to receive a selected quantity of a filling medium to provide a cushioned protection for the personal items stored in the insert interior; and c. a closure associated with said fillable insert structure and movable between an open position such that the personal items may be inserted into and removed from the insert interior and a closed position to retain the personal items in the insert interior.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application is a continuation-in-part of my co-pending application Ser. No. 10/170,013, filed Jun. 10, 2002 and entitled “Shipping Container Along With Shipping Method Employing The Same”, which itself is a continuation-in-part of my co-pending application Ser. No. 09/956,478, also entitled “Shipping Container And System Along With Shipping Method Employing The Same”, and filed on Sep. 18, 2001.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention broadly relates to the field of containers for storing personal items. The present invention more particularly concerns containers in the form of travel-sized pillows for providing substantially dry storage of personal items as well as cushioned support to a user.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] The prior art demonstrates numerous attempts to provide pillow constructions which are comfortable to users, as well as those which also serve a therapeutic purpose. Pillows come in a variety of contours, shapes and materials for providing a comfortable article for moderately supporting a user's head, neck or back. A basic pillow design incorporates a deformable cushion having a selected shape and made from any of a variety of materials including foam, goose down, and the like, which is generally covered by an appropriately sized pillowcase serving as an outer protective covering.

[0004] A variety of different pillow constructions have been developed over the years to serve particular needs. Many appropriately contoured pillows are available for reducing muscle strain and tension along the head, neck and shoulder region of the body when one is in a reposed position. Other pillow constructions are particularly suited to enable travelers in airplanes, cars, trains and the like to more easily sleep while traveling. Many such pillows are configured generally as a collar for stationarily supporting the head by providing a neck engaging yoke. Generally speaking, travel pillows have a reduced size in comparison to conventional pillows. Indeed, some travel pillow constructions are inflatable/deflatable so they can be conveniently compacted and stored away when not in use without taking up precious space.

[0005] A pillow is also a necessary travel item for many campers. Depending upon one's particular travel accommodations, such as a cabin, camper or tent, for example, the particular pillow of choice may be determined based on comfort, available space and weight considerations. For instance, backpackers who need to carry all of their necessary provisions with them will be focused primarily on size and weight considerations for their various provisions, including the pillow. With these considerations in mind, a variety of suitable pillows are readily available from recreational equipment retailers.

[0006] Another important consideration for travelers in general, and campers in particular, is providing safe storage for personal articles such as wallets, keys, watches, jewelry and even smaller electronic devices, to name only a few. There may be a variety of places where one can store these personal items to reduce the risk of theft or damage. Oftentimes such items are locked in one's car, room, luggage, or a hotel safe. However, such conveniences are not readily available to others, such as backpackers, or even others who would simply prefer to have such personal items near them at all times. For these individuals, it is desirable to provide protective storage for items which reduces the risk of damage thereto while at the same time being conveniently accessible. In addition, for those outdoors adventurers such as canoeists, kayakers, boaters and the like who are near water, it is also important for obvious reasons to provide a dry storage device which is floatable. It has been surprisingly found that all of these needs can be satisfied by providing such a storage device for personal articles which conveniently also serves as a pillow. The present invention is suitably directed to meeting these needs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] It is an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved pillow for protected storage of personal items.

[0008] Another object of the present invention is to provide a pillow adapted to receive personal items for storage, while also providing cushioned support to a user.

[0009] A further object of the present invention is to provide such a pillow which is travel-sized and provides substantially dry storage for one's personal items.

[0010] Still a further object of the present invention is to provide such a new and improved pillow construction which is also floatable and adapted to be anchored to an object, such as a canoe, kayak, boat or the like, so that it does not drift away.

[0011] In accordance with these objectives, the present invention broadly relates to a container adapted to provide protected storage for personal items. The container broadly comprises a casing, a fillable insert structure removably disposed in the casing, and a closure for the fillable insert structure. The casing has a casing interior and a mouth communicating therewith. The fillable insert structure has an associated insert interior for receiving the personal items and an associated mouth communicating with the insert interior. The fillable insert structure is adapted to receive a quantity of a filling medium to provide a cushioned protection for personal items stored in the insert interior. The closure associated with the fillable insert structure is movable between an open position such that the personal items may be inserted into and removed from the insert interior and a closed position to retain the personal items in the insert interior.

[0012] In its preferred form, the container of the present invention has the characteristics of a storage pillow and provides cushioned support to a user, while also being adapted to receive the personal items. The pillow's outer casing is preferably flexible and formed by first and second flexible body panels joined about majority of a perimeter thereof, with an unjoined portion defining a mouth for the casing which communicates with the casing interior. These first and second flexible body panels may be formed as a multi-layered construction with a cushioning layer interposed between them. First and second grommets may be disposed, respectively, on the first and second flexible body panels in opposed relationship to one another so that a securement member, such as a rope, can be inserted through the first and second grommets and fastened to the flexible outer casing. The outer casing may also have an associated closure, such as a zipper with a pull tab, which is selectively movable between open and closed positions to, respectively, allow for insertion and removal of the inflatable bladder.

[0013] The inflatable bladder, itself, preferably includes first and second bladder body panels that are each formed of a water resistant material. These bladder body panels are sealed about a majority of a perimeter to define a sealed edge, with an unjoined portion defining a bladder mouth communicating with the bladder interior. Each of the bladder's first and second body panels is also a multi-layered construction, such as plastic or nylon, which includes an array of inflatable cells in communication with one another. An inflation valve is provided in fluid communication with the array of cells, and this inflation valve includes a valve stem adapted to receive air from an air source so that the bladder can be inflated to a desired level. The inflatable bladder preferably provides a substantially dry storage for personal articles retained therein. To this end, it's closure may take on a variety of constructions, including cooperative hook and loop fasteners or matable tongue and groove structures, to name a few.

[0014] These and other objects of the present invention will become more readily appreciated and understood from a consideration of the following detailed description of the exemplary embodiments of the present invention when taken together with the accompanying drawings, in which:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0015] FIG. 1 is a partial perspective view illustrating one possible use for the storage pillow of the present invention;

[0016] FIG. 2 is a perspective view illustrating another possible use for the storage pillow of the present invention;

[0017] FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view illustrating a variety of personal items which can be removably stored in the storage pillow of the present invention;

[0018] FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view showing the outer casing and the inflatable bladder for the storage pillow of FIGS. 1-3;

[0019] FIG. 5 is a is a cross-sectional showing the grommet structure for the pillow's outer casing;

[0020] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of one corner of the storage pillow when in the closed state, and showing the fastening of a securement member thereto;

[0021] FIG. 7 is an enlarged exploded view showing the inflatable bladder's inflation valve and the squeeze bulb for use therewith;

[0022] FIG. 8 is a perspective view, partially cut-away, of the inflatable bladder having it's mouth in a partially open state;

[0023] FIG. 9(a) is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the inflatable bladder's mouth region as viewed about lines 9-9 in FIG. 8, and showing the mouth prior to being sealed;

[0024] FIG. 9(a) is an enlarged cross-sectional view of the inflatable bladder's mouth region as viewed about lines 9-9 in FIG. 8, and showing the mouth after being sealed; and

[0025] FIG. 10 is a perspective view showing an alternative mouth construction for the inflatable bladder, with a portion of the bladder's panel pulled apart.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

[0026] According to the present invention, then, a container in the form of a pillow is provided which is adapted to receive personal items for storage while providing cushioned support to a user. The pillow has water resistant characteristics so that it is particularly suited to provide a substantially dry storage for the personal items. While such a pillow can fulfill the needs of a variety of users, it is contemplated that it will be particularly well received by travels, campers, canoers and the like who desire both a travel pillow as well as a means for protectively storing their belongings in a manner which is space efficient.

[0027] Examples of some uses for the storage pillow of the present invention are illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. In FIG. 1 it may be seen that the pillow 10 of the present invention can be used by one in a canoe 2 and propped up against the canoe's backrest 4 to provide a cushioned support for one's back, while at the same time providing a dry storage environment for personal items. Pillow 10 is constructed so that it can also be appropriately anchored to the canoe via a securement member, such as rope 6, which has a first end portion 5 tied to pillow 10 and an opposite second end portion 7 tied to an appropriate portion of the canoe such as webbing cords 8. As such, were canoe 2 to tip over during use, storage pillow 10 would float but not drift away. In FIG. 2, it may be seen that pillow 10 can be used by a camper or the like while sleeping in a sleeping bag 9. FIGS. 1 and 2, of course, only illustrate two possible uses for storage pillow 10 of the present invention.

[0028] In FIG. 3 it may be seen that a variety of personal items 11 such as one's personal organizer 12, cell phone 13 and keys 14 can be conveniently placed within the pillow's interior, after which the pillow 10 can be appropriately inflated to a desired level and sealed in a manner which is water resistant to provide a dry, protected storage environment for the personal items 11. Indeed, any of a variety of personal belongings could be stored, so that those shown in FIG. 3 are for illustrative purposes only.

[0029] Storage pillow 10 of the present invention incorporates the construction of components which have been described in one or both of my earlier co-pending application Ser. No. 09/956,478 filed Sep. 18, 2001 and Ser. No. 10/170,013 filed Jun. 10, 2002, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference. As such, with initial reference to FIG. 4, it may be seen that storage pillow 10 broadly comprises an outer casing or pouch 15 having an interior 17 in which a fillable insert structure, such as inflatable bladder 80 can be inserted. Casing 15 of container 10 includes a front casing panel 16 and a back casing panel 18 which are rectangular in shape and joined about three edges 21, 22 and 23 which are located at the perimeter thereof. Panels 16 and 18 are open along a portion of the perimeter to define a mouth 20 through which inflatable bladder 80 may be inserted. A zipper 30 is provided and includes a pull-tab 32 shown in an open position so that mouth 20 is open. Zipper 30 is preferably a number 10 type luggage pull zipper available from a variety of suppliers.

[0030] With reference to FIG. 5, the perimeter edges of casing 12, such as edge 22, is formed by sewing margins 17 and 19 of panels 16 and 18 together, as is known in the art. Furthermore, it may be seen that front panel 16 is formed out of fabric layers 34 and 36, while back panel 18 is formed by fabric layers 38 and 40. In the preferred embodiment, each of panels 16 and 18 is flexible. Outer fabric layers 34 and 38, as well as inner fabric layers 36 and 40, may be formed of any suitable material, such as soft two-ply “cotton-like” polyester blend so that it becomes very durable and stain resistant. Of course, casing 11 could alternatively be made out of plastic, nylon or other water proof/water resistant material as desired. Thus, the material of choice will depend on the intended use but can be any appropriate material without restriction.

[0031] Storage pillow 10 can be placed in a closed state once the inflatable bladder and personal items have been inserted by manipulating zipper 30 to close mouth 20. When open (FIG. 4) pull tab 32 is thus located at one corner 42 of pillow 10 but, when closed (FIG. 6) it is located proximate to a second corner 44 of pillow 10. As shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, front panel 16 is provided with a metal grommet 46 located proximately to corner 44. Back panel 18 is similarly provided with an associated metal grommet that is also located proximately to corner 44 so that the two metal grommets are in opposed relationship to one another. Moreover, these grommets may be located proximately to pull-tab 32 when zipper 30 is shut with pillow 10 being in the closed state. From this, it can be appreciated that zipper 30 provides a closure for pillow 10 that is movable between an open position such that the inflatable bladder can be inserted and removed from the interior 17 of pillow 10, and a closed position so as to retain the inflatable bladder in the interior 17. With reference particularly to FIG. 6, a securement member, such as a rope 6, can be inserted through the metal grommets and tied down to fasten rope 6 to pillow 10.

[0032] With reference again to FIG. 4, and as discussed in my co-pending application Ser. No. 10/170,013, inflatable bladder 80 is also a generally rectangular flexible member formed of a multi-layered construction to include a matrix of cells 84 which communicate with one another to receive air via inflation valve 84. This provides a cushion of air to protect the personal items while additional providing a cushioned support to either the user's head region, neck region or back. With reference generally to FIGS. 4 and 7, inflatable bladder 80 is formed by a pair of flexible panel sections 81 and 83 which are sealed together along their surrounding peripheral edge margin, such as through heat sealing or the like, as known in the art. Panels 81 and 83 are also secured by a matrix of spot “welds” to create the array of cells 84 to be inflated. To provide the bladder's open mouth 82, after the flexible panels 81 and 83 are appropriately sealed together, the sealed structure is then folded over upon itself about fold line 88 and appropriately sealed again to create a pouch-like structure. It can be appreciated, then, that the sealing of the peripheral margin of bladder 80 and the spot welding creates a confined volume between the panels 81 and 83 so that the cells 84 can be inflated to a desired level. Accordingly, the “welds” limit the expansion of the bladder while preferably providing a ¾″ to 1-½″ layer of expansion air protection for one's personal items. While the welds are shown in the figures to be evenly distributed to create the array of cells 84, these welds may be located in a different patterned arrangement, as desired. This would permit different regions of the bladder to have varying degrees of air cushioning so the bladder can be tailored to accommodate different configurations of received items or provide varying degrees of air cushioning to the user.

[0033] As shown in FIG. 7, inflation may be accomplished by injecting air through the bladder's inflation valve 86, such as through the use of a squeeze bulb 90. Squeeze bulb 90 is similar to that conventionally found on a medical blood pressure cuff, and has a pair of opposed nipples 91 and 94 which are each sized and adapted for attachment to the valve stem 86 of bladder 80 to, correspondingly, inflate and deflate the bladder 80 when the bulbous body 92 of the squeeze bulb 90 is compressed, all as is known in the art. Advantageously, the squeeze bulb 90 can be appropriately attached to the bladder through any appropriate means or simply inserted into the pillow when not in use. As also discussed in my co-pending application Ser. 10/170,013, inflatable bladder 80 can be provided with different inflation valve structures and inflated/deflated through a variety of means such as by mouth, with a hand pump or through a compressor. However, it is believed that users wanting to conserve space will either orally inflate the bladder or utilize the squeeze bulb 90.

[0034] Inflatable bladder 80 has an associated closure construction which permits the mouth 82 of the bag to be releasably sealed, preferably in a water tight and air tight engagement, to provide a protected and dry storage environment for personal articles stored within bag 80. This closure for inflatable bladder 80 is best seen with reference to FIGS. 8, 9(a) and 9(b). The transverse mouth margin 90 of inflatable bladder 80 has a pair of opposed margin portions 92 and 94 which releaseably engage one another. Margin portions 92 and 94 are, respectively, joined to bag panels 81 and 83 by any conventional means. Margin portions 92 and 94 are preferably formed of a polyurethane material, while upper and lower bag panels 81 and 83 are preferably formed of nylon, plastic or other water proof/water resistant material.

[0035] The sealing means for the bladder's mouth region 90 is akin to that conventionally found on sandwich bags, freezer bags and other types of bag structures where either an air tight seal or water tight seal is desired. Accordingly, the bag's lower mouth margin 94 is formed to include a pair of transversely extending ridges 91 and 93 which are separated from one another by an elongated transversely extending channel 95. The bag's upper mouth portion 92 has an associated elongated rib 96 which has a width that is preferably slightly larger than the width of channel 95, as shown in FIG. 9(a), so that when margins 92 and 94 are compressed, ridge 96 becomes seated in a close friction engagement within channel 95 and compressed between ridges 91 and 93, as shown in FIG. 9(b). This friction engagement is sufficient to maintain the bag's mouth 92 in the closed orientation as shown in FIG. 9(b) so that the seal is not broken. Of course, to open inflatable bladder 80, one simply urges margin portions 92 and 94 apart from one another to overcome the sealed engagement, thereby permitting insertion and removal of personal items into the bag's interior.

[0036] Another type of closure for the inflatable bladder is shown with reference now to FIG. 10. Here, inflatable bladder 180 is provided with hook and loop fastening strips 193 and 194 disposed, respectively, on upper mouth margin 192 and lower mouth margin 194 by any conventional means, such as by sewing, through adhesion or the like. While this construction would not provide as much of an airtight and water tight seal as that discussed in FIGS. 8-9(b), it will nonetheless serve the purpose of substantially affording a dry storage environment for the received personal items. Of course, a variety of other closure constructions for both the inflatable bladder 80 and the outer casing 11 associated with storage pillow 10 would be well within the purview of the ordinarily skilled artisan, so that the figures herein only illustrate representative constructions.

[0037] Accordingly, the present invention has been described with some degree of particularity directed to the exemplary embodiments of the present invention. It should be appreciated, though, that the present invention is defined by the following claims construed in light of the prior art so that modifications or changes may be made to the exemplary embodiments of the present invention without departing from the inventive concepts contained herein.