Title:
Helmet chinstrap
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A helmet chinstrap system having attachment straps looped through a stiff molded and perforated cup that is suitably shaped to fit across the user's chin. The system also includes one or more removable cup liners, a center flexible bumper fitted across the center perforation of the cup. Each attachment strap has an adjustable slider mechanism that allows the chinstrap system to be variably attached to the helmet attachment snaps.



Inventors:
Schiebl, Paul (Houston, TX, US)
Application Number:
10/463774
Publication Date:
01/08/2004
Filing Date:
06/16/2003
Assignee:
SCHIEBL PAUL
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/413, 2/DIG.3
International Classes:
A42B3/08; (IPC1-7): A42B7/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080047049Headwear with a crown manufactured by the adhesive methodFebruary, 2008Park
20090178182Undergarment for hernia relief and other purposesJuly, 2009Dahlquist
20070271672JACKSON-PRATT.TM post surgical drain facilitator gownNovember, 2007Lentini
20080005825Garments with removable attachmentsJanuary, 2008Tronvold
20070199134Hosiery Garment and Method of Making the SameAugust, 2007Duckman et al.
20080083055Sports GarmentApril, 2008Onda
20060048262Fashion conceptMarch, 2006Sencion
20070192933Spectacle support systemAugust, 2007Kam
20100071117DANCE TIGHT WITH EMBELLISHMENT TO FACILITATE INSTRUCTION OF JUVENILE DANCERSMarch, 2010Rubin et al.
20090276943IMPACT DISPERSION SYSTEMS AND METHODSNovember, 2009Balolia
20090293180Protective helmet, especially bicycle helmetDecember, 2009Grau



Primary Examiner:
LINDSEY, RODNEY M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Matthews, Lawson, McCutcheon & Joseph, PLLC (HOUSTON, TX, US)
Claims:

What I claim is:



1. A helmet chin strap system comprised of: a. An outer hard cup containing material selected from a group comprising polycarbonate and Titanium; b. at least one inner compressible pad, of which a portion of one is shaped to fit within the hard cup, and selected from a group comprising closed cell foam, closed cell foam at least partially covered with moisture absorptive fabric, Sorbaothane, molded and non viscous gel, fluid gel or air filled bladder, and fluid gel or air filled bladder at least partially covered with moisture absorptive fabric, and c. a plurality of flexible straps and strap splitters that allow the helmet chin strap system to be removably attached to different locations on a helmet or upon different helmets.

2. The helmet chinstrap system of claim one further comprising an outer hard cup having at least one perforation that can receive a flexible bumper and having a reinforcing lip on the cup edge.

3. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 2 further comprising a plurality of perforations through the outer hard cup and at least one inner compressible pad.

4. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 2 further comprising flexible straps looped through the adjustable strap splitter mechanism and having a snap attachment on each strap end for removably connecting the helmet chinstrap system to the helmet.

5. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 2 further comprising a flexible bumper attached to the outer hard cup in conjunction with at least one of the hard cup perforations.

6. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 5 wherein the flexible bumper contains visible information.

7. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 5 wherein the visible information is at least one of a group of information topics comprising, the name of the individual wearing the helmet, identification number of the individual, the name of the organization to which the user is affiliated, the logo of the organization, the manufacturer of the helmet, the maker of the invention, an advertiser, and name of an event.

8. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 5 wherein the flexible bumper is removable.

9. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 2 wherein at least one cushion pad is removable from the cup.

10. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 2 wherein the compressible pad is from a group comprising non-absorbent closed cell foam.

11. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 5 wherein the flexible bumper is replaceable.

12. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 2 wherein the flexible strap is of a selected color within a clear or translucent coating.

13. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 12 wherein the flexible strap provides visible information.

14. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 13 wherein the visible information of the flexible strap is at least one of a group of information topics comprising the name of the individual wearing the helmet, identification number of the individual, the name of the organization to which the user is affiliated, the logo of the organization, the manufacturer of the helmet, the maker of the invention, an advertiser, and name of an event.

15. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 2 further comprising at least one compressible pad that containing indentations to facilitate the placement of an additional compressible pad.

16. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 2 further comprising a compressible pad containing indentations that facilitate creation of a small space between a portion of the user's skin and the chinstrap system.

17. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 2 further comprising antibacterial fabric covered compressible pads capable of absorbing skin moisture.

18. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 2 further comprising a compressible pad having a closed foam component and a fluid bladder component.

19. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 4 wherein the snap attachments are of a selected color.

20. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 2 wherein the fluid within at least one bladder can be activated to produce a temperature change.

21. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 2 further comprising a fluid gel bladder wherein the fluid gel changes to non fluid phase upon contact with ambient air.

22. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 2 further comprising a fluid gel filled bladder wherein the fluid gel is of a color to identify when the bladder has been ruptured.

23. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 2 further comprising a fluid bladder containing a valve.

24. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 23 wherein the valve permits controlled fluid escape upon impact.

25. The helmet chinstrap system of claim 23 wherein the valve allows air to be pumped into the bladder.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] The invention claims the benefit of and priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/389074 filed Jun. 14, 2002 and entitled Helmet Chinstrap.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of Use

[0003] The invention subject of this specification is an improved chinstrap for use with protective headgear, including helmets used in sports, industry or military applications. The invention provides improved protection for the user's face, chin and jaw, as well as improves comfort and performance of other portions of the head protection device, hereinafter “helmet.”

[0004] 2. Summary of Related Technology

[0005] Helmets are used in a variety of activities and styles. It is often useful to secure the helmet on the user's head for obvious convenience and to improve performance. Some methods of securing a helmet have been a loosely worn strap under the user's chin. Other methods have be a more tightly worn strap across the front of the jaw. Other variations have utilized a strap that covers both the front and bottom portion of the jaw, with the goal to hold the helmet more tightly to the user's head, and maintain the helmet in a more fixed position upon the user, thus enhancing the protective aspects of the helmet and, hopefully the user's comfort. More recently, the chinstraps have been adapted to provide additional protection to the user, independent of simply holding the helmet on the user's head.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

[0006] Protective helmets are of course well known. Also, securing the helmet to the user's head with a chinstrap is also well known. However, changes in helmet styles and materials have resulted in a variety of differing attachment configurations. Also, the applications or activities in which helmets are worn has also changed and expanded as result of new technology, occupational activities and sports activities. Increasing emphasis on personal safety and protection, in both work and sports activities has accelerated the change in helmet design and use.

[0007] It is therefore a goal of the invention to provide a chinstrap that improves user comfort.

[0008] It is a further goal of the invention to improve the protection provided by the helmet.

[0009] It is yet another goal to provide improved protection to the face, chin and jaw of each user.

[0010] It is still yet another goal to provide a chinstrap that can be used in conjunction with other devices for face, jaw and head protection, including improved protection against concussion or similar injury.

[0011] It is still yet another goal of the invention to provide a chinstrap that can be adjusted or adapted to a variety of helmet designs and helmet—chinstrap attachment configurations.

[0012] It is also a goal of the invention to provide improved strength in multiple components of the chinstrap and to provide means that wear and weakness can be detected.

[0013] It is also a goal of the invention to allow adjustment by each user to provide optimum fit for improved comfort and protection.

[0014] It is another goal of the invention to provide protection means that utilize replaceable components, thereby allowing energy to be absorbed or dissipated in the destruction of the protective device, which can then be easily replaced to provide continued optimum protection.

SUMMARY OF DRAWINGS

[0015] The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of the specification, illustrate preferred embodiments of the invention. These drawing, together with the general description of the invention given above and the detailed description of the preferred embodiments given below, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

[0016] FIG. 1 illustrates the gel or air pad that may be incorporated as a component of the invention.

[0017] FIG. 1A illustrates a side depiction of the gel or air pad in conjunction with the other components of the invention.

[0018] FIG. 2 illustrates a side depiction of the formed foam padding and conforming lip component of the invention.

[0019] FIG. 2A illustrates an embodiment of the foam pad component of the invention with a formed footprint adapted to fit with a gel or air pad component.

[0020] FIG. 3 illustrates a side depiction of the outer hard cup shell with a reinforcing lip and openings.

[0021] FIG. 4 illustrates a frontal perspective of the outer hard cup, flexible bumper, and helmet attaching straps.

[0022] FIG. 5 illustrates an embodiment of the invention depicting the helmet, attachment snaps, flexible straps, adjustment slider and outer hard cup.

[0023] FIG. 6A illustrates a top view of one embodiment of the adjustable strap slider component of the invention.

[0024] FIG. 6B illustrates another embodiment of the adjustable strap slider component of the invention.

[0025] FIG. 6C illustrates a side view of the adjustable strap slider component of the invention.

[0026] FIG. 6D illustrates a sectional view of the slider component along the axis TT-TT of FIG. 6A and XX-XX of FIG. 6B.

[0027] FIG. 7A illustrates a perspective of the interior of the hard cup component of the invention.

[0028] FIG. 7B illustrates a perspective of the interior of the compression pad in conjunction with the outer hard cup.

[0029] FIG. 7C illustrates a flexible bumper designed to be inserted into an outer hard cup shell.

[0030] FIG. 8A illustrates a sectional view of the outer hard cup and compression pad along the axis YY-YY depicted in FIG. 7B.

[0031] FIG. 8B illustrates the sectional view depicted in FIG. 8A in conjunction with a fluid bladder.

[0032] FIG. 9 illustrates an embodiment of the compression pad component subject of the invention with a footprint indentation to accept a fluid bladder.

[0033] The above general description and the following detailed description are merely illustrative of the subject invention, and additional modes, advantages, and particulars of this invention will be readily suggested to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIBTION OF INVENTION

[0034] The chin strap protection system subject of this invention provides a flexible, adjustable attachment that securely fits a helmet to the desired position upon the user's head, as well as provides protection to the lower portion of the user's face, particularly the chin, jaw and throat. The system may be adjusted by each user to the individual's face and to multiple alterative helmet attachment points for enhanced comfort or adaptation to helmet use or other protective accessories.

[0035] One embodiment of the invention incorporates use of a fluid gel bladder component such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,298,483. This embodiment of this component is shown in FIG. 1, comprising a plurality of fingers 273, 274, 276, 277, 278, and 279. The invention provides improved fit and comfort by placement of a flexible gel pad against the user's face. The gel pad 275 can incorporate hydraulic properties that also provide additional protection by dispersing energy created from a blow on the outer portion of the chin protection system. The gel can also have the additional benefit of providing the user relief from hot or cold weather. The gel can be made of components that, when mixed current to use, triggers a chemical reaction, which causes the gel temperature to either increase or decrease. This temperature change can provide temperature relief to the skin surface.

[0036] As part of this protection system of the present invention, the fluid gel bladder or pad can be made to withstand one or several impacts of a minimum force. However, upon a sufficiently large impact, the bladder can rupture, providing additional cushioning effect, and then be replaced with a new gel bladder.

[0037] This fluid gel bladder component can be used with or incorporate an air filled bladder. It may be used in conjunction with a separate fluid air bladder or be replaced by an air bladder. The air bladder utilizes both the fluid and compressive properties of a gas. This modification may be used to enhance fit and comfort; as well as adjust the level of protection provided by the invention. The air bladder can provide additional protection by dispensing energy through the cushion of air. The air bladder may be recharged by use of air valve. The individual user can also adjust the level of air bladder firmness. The air bladder can be filled with a static amount of air or it can be adjustable by the user through a pumping device either using an athletic ball needle and pump. These are use to inflate athletic balls and in some football helmets model to adjust the helmet to the individual user. The inflation device can also be of the nature used in athletic shoes, which allow the user to regulate the amount of air in the bladder by squeezing a small, built in pump. It may also be a small hand squeezed pump that can be removeably inserted into the bladder.

[0038] Not pictured is a cushion made of material such as Sorbothane™ cushion. This material may also provide additional or alternative protection by absorbing impact energy. Sorbothane cushion is a proprietary product of Sorbothane Company.

[0039] FIG. 1A illustrates a side view of the fluid gel bladder 275 in conjunction with a foam compression pad 101 in FIG. 2. The foam padding 101 provides protection by dispersing the energy of a blow or impact. It is molded to conform to the shape of the hard cup, also illustrated 200 in adjoining FIG. 3. The compression pad can be constructed from any non-absorbent closed cell foam. The most desirable of these foams is a micro cellular cross-linked polyethylene with a relatively high EVA (ethylvinylacetate) content. The EVA provides a fleshy feel. It is available in most any color. It is closed celled and moldable. The compression pad 101 can be covered, in whole or in part, by moisture absorbing material (not shown). This material can also contain anti-bacterial agents. The moisture absorption can increase the user's comfort, thereby facilitating the protective purpose of the chin guard cup and the helmet.

[0040] The gel pad or bladder in FIG. 1 can be held in place with an aggressive two-sided adhesive (not shown). The foam pad illustrated in FIG. 2 has holes 102, 103 through it to allow or airflow and serves as an exhaust outlet for the gel should the bladder (275 of FIG. 1) rupture due to an extreme blow. This provides additional protection, as energy is redirect out this outlet. The opening also has the advantage allowing the distinctive gel bladder color to be seen form the outside of the shell. The foam padding provides enough protection to allow this chinstrap to be fully functional with or without the gel pad in place. The foam pad illustrated in FIG. 2 also comprises a foam lip 110 that extends over the outer hard shell as discussed below. The gel bladder can have both air and gel components.

[0041] FIG. 2A illustrates the interior of the foam pad 101, including the foam lip 110. This foam pad may have a footprint 270 approximately matching the extended fingers 274-279 of the gel pad illustrated in FIG. 1. The gel pad can thus be inserted or set into the matching indentation. This is also illustrated in FIG. 8B. The footprint can enhance ventilation for user comfort when not used in conjunction with a fluid gel pad.

[0042] FIG. 7B illustrate the interior of the foam pad 101 within the hard outer hard cup shell 200. Also shown is the relationship of perforations which may be contained in both the hard cup 202 203 250 and the compression pad 103 104 150. It will be appreciated that the perforations are contained in the compression pad 150 and the hard cup 250 for attachment of flexible straps (not shown) for attaching the system to the helmet. The hard cup may contain an indentation 251 or other modification to facilitate use with the flexible attaching straps.

[0043] Also illustrated in FIG. 7B is an optional flexible bumper 204A that can be used in conjunction with the hard cup. FIG. 7B also more fully illustrates the relationship between the hard cup lip 210 and the covering user protecting compression pad lip 110. FIGS. 2 and 3 also provide illustration of the relationship.

[0044] FIG. 3 illustrates the hard outer hard cup shell 200 of the chinstrap invention. This shell is made from a rigid material best suited to disperse energy over a wide area. The edges 210 may be rolled and smooth to insure comfort and provide protection from abrasion. The outer hard cup shell may also contain reinforcing ridges or surface contours (not shown). The rolled edges, ridges or contours may also generate additional strength in the same was as “I” beam configurations add strength to a steel beam. The construction of the shell may be of a hard rigid material such as hard plastic, polycarbonate, Titanium (Ti) or other lightweight metal or metal alloy. Polycarbonate is injection molded. Ti is compression molded. A Ti part could be electro statically coated in any color or left uncoated.

[0045] The outer hard cup shell also may contain a co-molded shock bumper 205 that further absorbs and reduces energy through the addition of this shock absorbing material. This may be rubber, Sorbothane or some material that has shock absorbing properties. The attaching component of the bumper is shown 204 in FIG. 7A and 204A in FIG. 7B. FIG. 7C illustrates one embodiment for a hard cup bumper 204. The bumper includes a series of “step like” flexible sections 542A 542B 542C that can be inserted into an opening of the hard cup. Each section has a narrow portion 561 562 and an offsetting step portion 543A 543B.

[0046] FIGS. 3, 4 and 7A illustrate the outer hard cup shell 200 containing one or more holes or openings 202, 203 through which the distinctive color of the gel bladder (not shown but item 275 in FIG. 1 and FIG. 1A) can be seen. These holes also serve to provide ventilation for improved user comfort. The holes may also provide means for gel or other fluid to escape after rupture. Of course, the escape of the gel through these holes to the exterior of the outer hard cup shell will identify the need for replacement of the protective gel pad.

[0047] The strap 300 illustrated in FIG. 4 holds the cup 200 firmly in place on the user's chin. It may be desirable that any strap material 300 be coated or otherwise be non-absorbent. The strap consists of a woven fabric material that may allow limited or no stretching, e.g., nylon or polyester. The strap is coated with a flexible vinyl or urethane. The chinstrap subject of this invention is also unique in that the woven fabric may be encased in a clear vinyl or urethane. Such strapping is available from Bioplastic, located in Ohio. This allows the user to note any excessive wear at points of stress. The woven fabric may contain visible information such as, but not limited to, a school, team or other organization name. The strapping consists of a single strap on each side that loops through a slot 250 on the chinstrap. Currently most chinstrap manufacturers use a vinyl-coated strapping such as the strapping manufactured by Plexon located in Peizer, S.C.

[0048] Also illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4 is the bumper 205 that spans across the center opening 203. It will be appreciated that this opening 203 corresponds to the opening 103 of the compression pad illustrated in FIG. 2. Considering FIGS. 1A, 2, 3 and 4 together, it will be further appreciated that a gel pad (illustrated 275 in FIGS. 1 and 1A) incorporated into the combined foam pad 101 and cup 200, may be visible from the exterior of the cup through holes 203 and 103.) Of course, the openings 202 in the cup 200 also align with openings 102 of the foam pad 101.

[0049] FIG. 8B illustrates the combined elements illustrated in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 from the side or prospective opposite of FIG. 4. Shown are the gel pad 275, that may be sitting within the footprint (270 of FIG. 2A) of the foam pad 101, the foam lip 110.

[0050] FIGS. 5A and 5B illustrate the two different points of attachment currently available on a football helmets. They are the high hookup as illustrated in FIG. 6A or the low hookup illustrated in FIG. 6B. One end of the strap 300 fits to the rear most snap 601 on a helmet 650 and the other attaches to the high hook up post 603 or the low hook up post 602. FIGS. 5A and 5B each illustrate an unoccupied male component post 602 and 603 respectively of the snap assembly.

[0051] FIGS. 5A and 5B also illustrates a strap splitter 350 allowing the strap 300 to fit either a high or a low hookup that is unique to this invention. The splitter also allows the user to adjust the strapping to insure that the cup 200 can be adjusted in such a manner that the angle of the cup is always as the most desirable angle to the chin in order to provide the maximum comfort and protection. No other chinstrap allows such precise adjustments. No other chinstrap is designed to fit either a high or low hook up equally well. Typically the splitter is adjusted up or away from the cup for a high hook up and down toward the cup for a low hook up. Other chinstraps may be forced to fit one or the other but the user will sacrifice a proper or optimal fit that will result in less comfort and safety.

[0052] FIGS. 6A through 6D further illustrate a general depiction of a splitter component. The splitter 350 may be made of nylon, plastic, rubber, acetal (Dupont Delvin™) or Ti materials. The splitter may incorporate two or more traverse elements 310 320 around which the flexible straps are placed (not shown). An angled covering subcomponent 330 located at the narrowed end 353 of the splitter may contain a logo or other element 305. The splitter also contains a broader, curved subcomponent 351 containing a first traverse element 310 with a corresponding annulus 315. The splitter 350 depicted in FIGS. 6A-through 6D illustrates a second traverse element 320 offset L (322A and 322B) to the thickness 312 of the first traverse element 310 to facilitate use with multiple straps. To facilitate adjustment of the straps to obtain improve placement of the chin guard, ridged “grippers” 307 are placed on opposite sides of the broad segment of the splitter. A second annulus 325 is provided after the offset traverse element 320. The straps connecting to the hard cup pass uner the 330 and past the narrowed end 353.

[0053] FIG. 5 also illustrates the cup reinforcing lip 210, the bumper 205 spanning opening 203, and the openings 202.

[0054] FIGS. 9A, 9B and 9C illustrate snap attachments looped or threaded onto each strap end. FIG. 9C show the construction and design of the snaps 606 used in one embodiment of the invention. The snap attachments 606 comprises two attachable components, one 601A attached to strap (not shown) and suitably sized to mate over and with a counter part snap attachment 601B on the helmet 650. These components are used to secure the chinstrap to the helmet. The snap arrangement typically is a male 601 B-female 601A type configuration or other configuration as known in the industry. They may be made from metal or plastic or acetyl with or without a metal ring inserted inside the circle area which mates with the snap (male) post 601B shown on FIGS. 9A and 9B. FIG. 9A shows the snaps secured to a football helmet 650 in the high hook up position. The unused snap (male) post 601B for the low hookup alternative is also shown. FIG. 9B shows the snaps secured to the helmet in the low hook up position.

[0055] FIG. 7A shows another front perspective (similar to FIG. 4) of the rigid cup. Illustrated is the bumper 205 crossing the center opening 203, the slots or openings 250 for the strap (not shown) and additional openings 202. FIG. 7B illustrates a cross sectional view of the invention, including the rigid cup 200, the foam pad 101 and the gel pad 275. Also illustrated is the center hole 203 of the rigid cup and bumper 205 aligned with the center hole 103 of the foam pad. The relationship to the foam pad lip and the reinforcing lip 210 of the cup 200 is also illustrated.

[0056] The bumper 205 illustrated in FIG. 7A may be shaped or otherwise configured to containing information such as, but not limited to, a school or team name or logo, the users name or number, or similar information. It may also provide advertising or promotional information.

[0057] FIG. 8 illustrates the embodiments and components of the invention discussed in conjunction with FIGS. 1, 2, 2A, 2B, 3 and 4. The numbering sequence used for the identification of components is continued from the other Figures and above text.

[0058] FIG. 9 illustrates an embodiment of the invention comprising the helmet snaps 606, the connecting woven and coated strap 300, the adjustable splitter 350, outer hard cup shell 200, flexible bumper 205, center perforation 303 and additional holes 202.

[0059] While the narration and illustrations show the chin strap subject of this invention used in conjunction with a football helmet, it should be noted that many of the same claims can be made for other helmets including hockey, lacrosse, military and more.

[0060] Further modifications and alternative embodiments of this invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art in view of this specification. Accordingly, this specification is to be construed as illustrative only and is for the purpose of teaching those skilled in the art the manner of carrying out the invention. It is to be understood that the forms of the invention herein shown and describe are to be taken as the presently preferred embodiments. Various changes may be made in the shape, size and arrangement of components. For example, equivalent elements may be substituted for those illustrated and described herein and certain features of the invention may be utilized independently of the use of other features, all as would be apparent to one skilled in the art after having the benefit of this description of the invention.