Title:
Device and method for shading a window
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shade assembly for shading a window opening comprising a double pane formed of two panes of transparent material disposed substantially parallel with a space therebetween, a light blocking member deployable within the space, a storage unit for stowing the light blocking member when retracted, and a drive mechanism for deploying and retracting light blocking member. Also claimed is a method of shading a window opening in a motor vehicle with the described shade assembly.



Inventors:
Nagar, Haim (Yahud, IL)
Application Number:
10/230366
Publication Date:
03/04/2004
Filing Date:
08/29/2002
Assignee:
NAGAR HAIM
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B60J1/20; B60J11/00; E06B9/264; (IPC1-7): A47H1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LEV, BRUCE ALLEN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
G.E. EHRLICH (1995) LTD. (ARLINGTON, VA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A shade assembly for shading a window opening, said shade assembly comprising a. two panes of transparent material disposed substantially parallel with a space therebetween, said two panes forming a double pane, said double pane having at least one open edge in communication with said space; b. a light blocking member deployable within said space and retractable from within said space; and c. a drive mechanism for deploying and retracting said light blocking member; said shade assembly being for deployment within said window opening.

2. The shade assembly of claim 1, further comprising a storage unit for stowing said light blocking member when said light blocking member is retracted;

3. The shade assembly of claim 1, wherein said double pane is for replacing a window unit within said window opening.

4. The shade assembly of claim 1, wherein said window opening is in a building.

5. The shade assembly of claim 1, wherein said window opening is in a motor vehicle.

6. The shade assembly of claim 1, wherein said light blocking member is substantially opaque.

7. The shade assembly of claim 1, wherein said light blocking member is partially translucent.

8. The shade assembly of claim 1, wherein said light blocking member is a film.

9. The shade assembly of claim 8, wherein said film is flexible.

10. The shade assembly of claim 8, wherein said film is a mesh.

11. The shade assembly of claim 8, wherein said film is formed of at least one material of the group consisting of a plastic, a rubber, a polymer, a polycarbonate and a metal.

12. The shade assembly of claim 2, wherein said storage unit comprises two guide tracks extending in parallel from said at least one open edge, said guide tracks being of sufficient length to contain said light blocking member when said light blocking member is in a retracted position, said guide tracks being oriented to guide the deployment and retraction of said film.

13. The shade assembly of claim 12, wherein said guide tracks are pivotable relative to said double pane.

14. The shade assembly of claim 2, wherein said storage unit comprises a roller for containing said film when said film is in a retracted position, said roller being oriented to guide the deployment and retraction of said film.

15. The shade assembly of claim 1, wherein said light blocking member is partially deployable to create a partially translucent state.

16. A shade assembly for shading a window opening, said shade assembly comprising a. two panes of transparent material disposed substantially parallel with a space therebetween, said two panes forming a double pane sealed around its perimeter; b. a light blocking fluid deployable within said space and retractable from within said space, said double pane having at least one opening in an edge thereof for the deployment and retraction of said fluid; c. a reservoir for containing said fluid, said reservoir being in fluid communication with said at least one opening; and d. a pump for deploying and retracting said fluid; said shade assembly being for deployment within said window opening.

17. The shade assembly of claim 16, further comprising an air pump for aiding in deploying and retracting said fluid.

18. The shade assembly of claim 16, wherein said shade assembly is in a building.

19. The shade assembly of claim 16, wherein said shade assembly is in a motor vehicle.

20. The shade assembly of claim 16, wherein said fluid is mercury.

21. The shade assembly of claim 16, wherein said fluid is substantially opaque.

22. The window unit of claim 16, wherein said fluid is partially translucent.

23. The shade assembly of claim 16, wherein said pump is powered by a motor.

24. The shade assembly of claim 16, wherein said fluid is partially deployable to create a partially translucent state.

25. A motor vehicle having installed therein a shade assembly for shading at least one window of said motor vehicle, said shade assembly comprising a. two panes of transparent material disposed substantially parallel with a space therebetween, said two panes forming a double pane; and b. a light blocking member deployable within said space and retractable from within said space.

26. A method of shading a window opening in a motor vehicle, said method comprising a. deploying within said window opening a shading assembly comprising two panes of transparent material disposed substantially parallel with a space therebetween, said two panes forming a double pane; a light blocking member deployable within said space and retractable from within said space; and a mechanism for deploying and retracting said light blocking member; and b. deploying said light blocking member within said space.

Description:

FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to the field of window shades and, more particularly, to a window shading assembly that includes a shading element within a double pane unit that is usable in a building or motor vehicle.

[0002] It is common to shade windows from the entry of light and there are many reasons for doing so. In buildings, shaded windows provide privacy, glare control and protection from damage from UV radiation. In vehicles, shaded windows are used for the same purposes as well as to reduce the interior temperature of parked vehicles and to secure the safety of dignitaries.

[0003] There is almost no end to the array of decorative and functional devices and methods for shading windows, ranging from technologically enhanced glazing to the application of decorative window coverings.

[0004] Window shading known in the art includes the use of special substrates having light absorptive or reflective properties. Such glazing materials reduce the entry of heat and light producing radiation. One such glazing is disclosed by U.S. Pat. No. 6,387,514 which teaches a solar control substrate comprising a pyrolytically-formed coating layer containing oxides of tin and antimony which is highly reflective. Many others are known.

[0005] Special glazings may vary the amount of light that passes, as taught in U.S. Pat. No. 5,822,107 which shows an electrochromic glazing which permits the user, by applying an electrical current, to cause the glazing to pass from one degree of coloration to another.

[0006] Another common method of window shading is the application of a light absorptive or reflective film to an otherwise transparent or translucent window. Such films typically adhere to an existing pane and may contain many different optical properties, depending upon the application.

[0007] Less technically oriented shading is achieved by the application of window coverings such as drapery, curtains, window shades, venetian or slat blinds, and similar extra-window devices.

[0008] With respect to shading the windows of motor vehicles, the prior art is copious, as overheated parked vehicles is a serious problem to be solved. U.S. Pat. No. 3,046,048 discloses a magnetically secured windshield cover, which overlies and remains contiguous with the exterior of the automobile windshield. U.S. Pat. No. 2,843,421 shows an automobile windshield awning extending forward of the windshield to protect it against the elements. U.S. Pat. No. 3,184,264 shows a related type of windshield protector. U.S. Pat. No. 4,863,943 discloses an adjustable vehicle sunshade for fitting externally over the windshield and over the driver and passenger side windows. U.S. Pat. No. 4,784,215 discloses a thermal insulating shade for application over a vehicle window or windshield. U.S. Pat. No. 4,736,980 discloses another form of more permanent type of windshield shade. U.S. Pat. No. 4,560,245 discloses a vehicular windshield curtain for inhibiting heat transfer. U.S. Pat. No. 3,336,969 shows a vehicle windshield and rear window cover. U.S. Pat. No. 1,732,447 discloses a sun shield formed as a curtain for application inside an automobile window. U.S. Pat. No. 4,818,007 discloses a vehicle screen/shade. U.S. Pat. No. 4,790,591 shows a removable protective vehicle windshield screen. U.S. Pat. No. 4,671,558 discloses a rollable sunshield. U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,652,039 and 4,763,947 show other forms of windshield shade made out of paperboard which are collapsible into a smaller configuration for storage. U.S. Pat. No. 2,596,836 shows a glare shield for use inside an automobile window. U.S. Pat. No. 2,598,770 shows a flexible window screen. U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,614,630 and 2,979,129 show covers for application over the windshield. U.S. Pat. No. 2,065,242, shows another form of exterior windshield protector. U.S. Pat. No. 1,475,647, discloses an adjustable visor for vehicle windshields.

[0009] U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,332,414; 4,606,572; 4,861,090; 5,598,883 and 5,660,220 all teach fan like devices which unfold to provide shade and fold out of the way when not needed. U.S. Pat. No. 6,192,967 discloses a pivoting combination of fan sections. U.S. Pat. No. 6,402,222 teaches a fan type shade usable only for the side windows of automobiles.

[0010] Many of the listed shade devices are removable, and are simply folded up and put in the trunk or glove compartment. There are also many that are permanently installed and are stored out of the way when not in use. U.S. Pat. No. 6,086,133 shows a roll-up shade stowable in a horizontal surface such as the dashboard at the base of the window. U.S. Pat. No. 6,216,762 shows a shade which is stowed in its own base and extends by means of pivotal arms. U.S. Pat. No. 6,227,601 discloses an expanding and contracting slat shade stowed in the headliner of a vehicle.

[0011] As can be seen, there is almost no end to the devices that may be used to shade the windows of a motor vehicle. However, the recent innovations in shading devices and methods which include disposing the shading element within the window itself, such as between the two panes of a double glazed window, have not been applied to motor vehicles. Examples of such innovations include enclosing a pleated blind between the window panes, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,913,213. Venetian blinds or slat blinds between panes of glass are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,687,040, 4,664,169 and 5,379,825. U.S. Pat. No. 6,397,917 teaches a more variable shade consisting of venetian blinds having an upper section which is adapted to redirect light entering the window upwardly against the ceiling of the room, and a lower section which is adapted to inhibit light from entering the room. The slats of the lower section can be pivoted independently of the slats of the upper section. All such devices are well known in the art.

[0012] Also well known in the art are control mechanisms for activating blinds within a double pane window. Such controls for lifting, lowering and tilting the blinds are preferably actuatable while maintaining the window seal and the insulating advantage of the double glazing. The prior art shows many different manually operated systems of cords, cables and gears as the control means, such as shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,687,040. U.S. Pat. No. 6,070,638 teaches a window in which the blind can be raised, lowered and tilted while maintaining a seal between the window frame and the window panes.

[0013] Many of the double glazed windows containing venetian blinds have motorized control assemblies, as described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,723,586 and 4,979,552. U.S. Pat. No. 6,332,491 discloses an actuation assembly which relies for power upon permanent magnets and electromagnets.

[0014] Containing a shading device within a double pane window provides advantages, such as protecting the moving parts of the shade, ease of cleaning and avoiding external attachments hanging on the window.

[0015] However, none of the cited shading assemblies internal to double pane windows have been applied to motor vehicles for a number of reasons. First, a totally transparent window may not be achieved because elements of the system often cannot be totally removed from the field of view of the window without having an unnecessarily wide frame or housing around the panes. Thus, visibility is restricted. Second, the mounting of a venetian blind between the panes requires a space wide enough to accommodate the blind in the open position in which the slats lay horizontally, resulting in a very thick window unit, unusable for many applications including within motor vehicles. Third, because of the complexity of the shading member, such systems cannot be curved, such as to fit the contours of a motor vehicle. Fourth, because motor vehicles have irregularly shaped window openings, no light blocking member has been found that effectively shades the window.

[0016] There is thus a widely recognized need for, and it would be highly advantageous to have, a double pane window shading assembly that may be used in a motor vehicle and that does not suffer from the limitations and disabilities of the prior art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0017] Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a double pane shading assembly for use in a motor vehicle.

[0018] It is a further object of the present invention to provide a double pane shading assembly that is this and adaptable to a wide variety of applications.

[0019] According to one aspect of the present invention there is provided a shade assembly for shading a window opening comprising (a) two panes of transparent material disposed substantially parallel with a space therebetween forming a double pane having at least one open edge in communication with the space; (b) a light blocking member deployable within the space and retractable from within the space; and (c) a drive mechanism for deploying and retracting the light blocking member; the shade assembly being for deployment within the window opening.

[0020] According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided a shade assembly for shading a window opening comprising (a) two panes of transparent material disposed substantially parallel with a space therebetween forming a double pane sealed around its perimeter; (b) a light blocking fluid deployable within the space and retractable from within the space, the double pane having at least one opening in an edge thereof for the deployment and retraction of the fluid; (c) a reservoir for containing the fluid in fluid communication with the opening; and (d) a pump for deploying and retracting fluid; the shade assembly being for deployment within the window opening.

[0021] According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided a motor vehicle having installed therein a shade assembly for shading at least one window comprising (a) two panes of transparent material disposed substantially parallel with a space therebetween forming a double pane; and (b) a light blocking member deployable within the space and retractable from within space.

[0022] According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of shading a window opening in a motor vehicle comprising (a) deploying within the window opening a shading assembly comprising two panes of transparent material disposed substantially parallel with a space therebetween forming a double pane; a light blocking member deployable within the space and retractable from within the space; and a mechanism for deploying and retracting the light blocking member; and (b) deploying the light blocking member within the space.

[0023] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the shade assembly further comprises a storage unit for stowing the light blocking member when the light blocking member is retracted.

[0024] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the double pane is for replacing a window unit within the window opening.

[0025] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the window opening is in a building.

[0026] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the window opening is in a motor vehicle.

[0027] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the light blocking member is substantially opaque.

[0028] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the light blocking member is partially translucent.

[0029] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the light blocking member is a film.

[0030] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the film is flexible.

[0031] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the film is a mesh.

[0032] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the film is formed of at least one material of the group consisting of a plastic, a rubber, a polymer, a polycarbonate and a metal.

[0033] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the storage unit comprises two guide tracks extending in parallel from said at least one open edge, said guide tracks being of sufficient length to contain said light blocking member when said light blocking member is in a retracted position, said guide tracks being oriented to guide the deployment and retraction of said film.

[0034] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the guide tracks are pivotable relative to the double pane.

[0035] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the storage unit comprises a roller for containing the film when the film is in a retracted position, the roller being oriented to guide the deployment and retraction of the film.

[0036] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the light blocking member is partially deployable to create a partially translucent state. According to features in the described preferred embodiments the shade assembly further comprises an air pump for aiding in deploying and retracting the fluid.

[0037] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the shade assembly is in a building.

[0038] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the shade assembly is in a motor vehicle.

[0039] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the fluid is mercury.

[0040] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the fluid is substantially opaque.

[0041] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the fluid is partially translucent.

[0042] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the pump is powered by a motor.

[0043] According to features in the described preferred embodiments the fluid is partially deployable to create a partially translucent state.

[0044] The present invention successfully addresses the shortcomings of the presently known configurations by providing a versatile double pane shading assembly that may be effectively used within a motor vehicle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0045] With specific reference now to the drawings in detail, it is stressed that the particulars shown are by way of example and for the purposes of illustrative discussion of the preferred embodiment of the present invention only, and are presented in the cause of providing what is believed to be the most useful and readily understood description of the principles and conceptual aspects of the invention. In this regard, no attempt is made to show structural details of the invention in more detail that is necessary for a fundamental understanding of the invention, the description taken with the drawings making apparent to those skilled in the art how the several forms of the invention may be embodied in practice.

[0046] In the drawings:

[0047] FIG. 1a is a diagrammatic illustration of a shade assembly constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

[0048] FIG. 1b is a diagrammatic illustration of the shade assembly of FIG. 1a in a different orientation;

[0049] FIGS. 2a and 2b are diagrammatic illustrations of the drive mechanism of the shade assembly of FIG. 1a;

[0050] FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic illustration of the shade assembly of FIG. 1a installed in a building;

[0051] FIGS. 4a, 4b and 4c are diagrammatic illustrations of the shade assembly of FIG. 1a installed in a motor vehicle in different states of deployment;

[0052] FIGS. 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 are diagrammatic illustrations of different installation alternatives of the shade assembly of FIG. 1a;

[0053] FIG. 10 is a diagrammatic illustration of a shade assembly constructed in accordance with an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

[0054] FIG. 11 is a diagrammatic illustration of the shade assembly of FIG. 10 installed in a motor vehicle;

[0055] FIG. 12 is a diagrammatic illustration of a shade assembly constructed in accordance with a further alternative embodiment of the present invention;

[0056] FIG. 13 is a diagrammatic illustration of the shade assembly of FIG. 12 installed in a motor vehicle;

[0057] FIG. 14 is a diagrammatic illustration of a shade assembly constructed in accordance with a yet further alternative embodiment of the present invention;

[0058] FIG. 15 is a diagrammatic illustration of the shade assembly of FIG. 14 installed in a motor vehicle; and

[0059] FIG. 16 is a flow chart illustrating the method of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0060] The present invention is of a window shade assembly comprising a light blocking member deployable within the space between the two panes of a double pane window.

[0061] The principles and operation of a window shade assembly according to the present invention may be better understood with reference to the drawings and accompanying descriptions.

[0062] Before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in this application to the details of construction and the arrangement of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is applicable to other embodiments or of being practiced or carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

[0063] Reference is now made to FIG. 1 which shows a shade assembly in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, which is referred to hereinbelow as shade assembly 10.

[0064] Shade assembly 10 is for shading a window opening in a building, such as a residence, office or other inhabited space, or in a motor vehicle. The window opening in which shade assembly 10 is deployed is hereinafter referred to as window opening 11, irrespective of its nature or location. Accordingly, shade assembly 10 is installable in window opening 11 in place of an existing window unit or on the inside of an existing window unit or on the outside of an existing window unit.

[0065] According to a preferred embodiment, shade assembly 10 replaces an existing static window unit that does not open, such as is found in climate controlled buildings or motor vehicle windshields and rear windows. According to an alternative embodiment, shade assembly 10 also replaces a translating window unit that raises and lowers to allow air entry, in which case shade assembly 10 will also be capable of raising and lowering to allow the entry of air. Such an embodiment is described hereinafter.

[0066] Shade assembly 10 includes two panes of transparent material disposed substantially parallel with a uniform distance therebetween, forming a double pane, hereinafter referred to as pane 12. Such double glazing is well known and commonly in use, particularly where thermal insulation is needed. The transparent material of pane 12 may be any glazing material desired according to the application. Although glass is a common and preferred glazing material, pane 12 may incorporate any glazing materials of any thickness desired, provided that it is appropriate to the specific application.

[0067] Pane 12 is formed with a space, hereinafter referred to as space 14, between the two panes. The two panes of pane 12 are preferably joined around their perimeter. According to the preferred embodiment, it is not essential that the joint be sealed, rather it is necessary that the two panes simply be held in a stable manner in parallel at their edges, with space 14 substantially unobstructed. Such joining may be accomplished in many ways, including by fusing a spacer between the panes around the perimeter or by enclosing pane 12 within a perimeter frame which serves to retain the panes the desired distance apart.

[0068] Further according to the preferred embodiment, pane 12 has at least one edge open in communication with space 14. This open edge is hereinafter referred to as opening 16. Accordingly, the edges of the two panes at opening 16 will not be joined in any fashion nor contained within a frame. In the majority of applications, pane 12 will be shaped as a four sided polygon oriented substantially vertically with opening 16 as its lower edge.

[0069] Shade assembly 10 includes a light blocking member, which, according to the preferred embodiment, is a film, hereinafter referred to as film 18. Film 18 is deployable within space 14 to prevent or impede the passage of light through pane 12 and is retractable to end the shading effect and restore full translucency to pane 12.

[0070] Film 18 is preferably fabricated of plastic, rubber, polymer, polycarbonate or metal. The specific composition of film 18 is not a material element of the invention, provided that film 18 has the required degree of flexibility to deploy and retract as needed. It is understood that the various applications to which shade assembly 10 will be applied may require different degrees of flexibility. Therefore, the material of film 18 may vary according to the flexibility required by the specific embodiment.

[0071] Film 18 may have varying degrees of opacity and translucency, according to desire. In some applications, such as in a motor vehicle windshield, a totally opaque, ultra-violet blocking effect will be desired, whereas within an inhabited building, a certain degree of shading may be desirable. Accordingly, film 18 may be a mesh or a screen or any other appropriately translucent material.

[0072] Moreover, film 18 may have additional uses such as to provide one way visibility such that a person within the building or motor vehicle may see out while those outside may not see in; to add a decorative effect to the window by being colored or bearing a design; or to include a commercial element such as advertising. It is appreciated that film 18 is a versatile element subject to many forms and uses.

[0073] Shade assembly 10 also includes a storage unit for stowing film 18 when it is retracted, hereinafter referred to as storage unit 20. According to the preferred embodiment, storage unit 20 comprises two guide tracks oriented in parallel and a connecting member, hereinafter referred to collectively as guide 21, constituting a left guide 21a, a right guide 21b and a connecting member 21c. Left guide 21a and right guide 21b are positioned such that they extend from the sides of pane 12 perpendicularly from opening 16. Connecting member 21c is attached therebetween at the distal ends of guides 21a and 21b in order to retain guides 21a and 21b in parallel orientation. Guide 21 is preferably formed of a rigid and durable material.

[0074] Left guide 21a and right guide 21b preferably have “U” shaped profiles oriented such that the interior of each “U” is facing one another, thus forming a continuous guide channel for the movement of film 18 such that film 18 may move unimpeded from space 14 into and out of guide 21.

[0075] In some applications, storage unit 20 will form a continuous plane with pane 12, such as when shade assembly 10 is installed in window opening 11 in a building with a straight vertical wall and guide 21 is positioned within the wall structure adjacent to window opening 11. In other applications, such as in the windshield or rear window of a motor vehicle, storage unit 20 may be positioned along the hood, trunk lid or ceiling and therefore not in the same plane as pane 12. For example, if storage unit 20 is positioned along the ceiling of a motor vehicle and pane 12 is for shading the windshield, pane 12 and shade assembly 10 will be fixed in an angular position relative to one another. In other applications, such as if storage unit 20 is positioned under the hood of a motor vehicle and pane 12 is for shading the windshield, pane 12 and storage unit 20 will require a variable angle therebetween in order to accommodate the raising and lowering of the hood so that guide 21 doesn't impede access to the engine when the hood is open. Accordingly, storage unit 20 will be pivotally attached to pane 12 at pivot point 19, allowing storage unit 20 to pivot relative to pane 12 according to the requirements of its deployment.

[0076] Guide tracks 21a and 21b will preferably be of sufficient length to contain film 18 such that film 18 is completely out of space 14 or is not visible in pane 12 when film 18 is in a retracted position.

[0077] Reference is now made to FIGS. 2a and 2b which are diagrammatic illustrations of the drive mechanism of shade assembly 10, hereinafter referred to as mechanism 22. Shade assembly 10 comprises mechanism 22 for deploying and retracting film 18 from within space 14. According to the preferred embodiment, the elements of mechanism 22 are located within the confines of guide 21. FIG. 2a shows mechanism 22 removed from guide 21 in order to provide visibility to all of its elements. FIG. 2b shows mechanism 22 within guide 21, with portions in phantom lines in order to show their position and orientation.

[0078] Mechanism 22 includes a motor, hereinafter referred to as motor 24, which is preferably a DC electric motor suitable for motor vehicle current or may be an AC electric motor for installation within buildings. The voltage may vary depending upon location. Motor 24 will preferably include an integral speed reducing means such that the speed of rotation is appropriately slow. Many small motors for many different purposes are commercially available and the precise nature and size of motor 24 is not a material feature of the invention.

[0079] Motor 24 is preferably wired and switched such that its rotating shaft, hereinafter referred to as drive shaft 28, rotates clockwise and counter clockwise. Motor 24 is preferably disposed within or adjacent to connecting member 21c, oriented such that drive shaft 28 extends in both directions from motor 24 parallel to connecting member 21c. Drive shaft 28 extends substantially to the ends of connecting member 21c and inserts within the “U” shaped channels of guides 21a and 21b. Positioned on each end of drive shaft 28 are drive pulleys 30 which drive belts 32. Positioned toward the upper ends of guides 21a and 21b and rotationally affixed thereto are corresponding pulleys 34, which are respectively positioned coplanularly with drive pulleys 30 such that they may be driven by belts 32. Accordingly, pulleys 30, belts 32 and pulleys 34 move within the same plane and are preferably disposed within the “U” shaped channels of guides 21a and 21b. It is appreciated that the function of pulleys 30 and 34 and belts 32 may be carried out by corresponding sprockets and chains, cables and other rotational elements, or other similar mechanisms.

[0080] In both FIGS. 2a and 2b, film 18 is shown extending from opening 16 into guide 21 and terminating a short distance from connecting member 21c. The lower terminal end of film 18 is preferably fitted with a rigid rod, hereinafter referred to as rod 36, extending from within the channel of guide 21a to within the channel of guide 21b beyond the plane formed by pulleys 30 and 34 and belts 32. Affixed to each of belts 32 is a holding device such as a ring, hereinafter referred to as rings 40, for securing each end of rod 36 to a fixed position relative to belts 32 such that when belts 32 move, force is exerted against rod 36. The nature of the holding device is not a material element and any holding device will suffice provided that it secures rod 36 to the designated location on belts 32. Accordingly, the movement of belts 32 causes the movement of rod 36 and with it film 18.

[0081] Motor 24 will preferably have a reversible switch such that it may be controlled by a user to rotate in either direction. Rotating in one direction will cause rings 40 on belt 32 to move toward opening 16, thereby pulling rod 36 toward opening 16, thus pushing film 18 into space 14. Rotating in the opposite direction will cause rings 40 on belt 32 to move away from opening 16, thereby pulling rod 36 away from opening 16, thus pulling film 18 out of space 14.

[0082] Mechanism 22 will further comprise a pair of micro switches 42 affixed to guide 21 in order to stop the movement of motor 24 when tripped. One micro switch 42 is positioned where it will be tripped by rod 36 when rod 36 is at its most extended position, thus stopping the retraction movement of film 18 when it substantially reaches the distal end of guide 21. The other micro switch 42 is positioned where it will be tripped by rod 36 when rod 36 is at its most proximal location relative to opening 16, thus stopping the deployment movement of film 18 when it substantially reaches the distal end of space 14.

[0083] In addition, mechanism 22 may preferably be connected to any alarm system that may be installed within a building or motor vehicle, such that tampering with shade assembly 10 will actuate the alarm, or tampering with the window, building or motor vehicle itself will activate shade assembly 10 causing it to shade or unshade the window as may be desired. When shade assembly 10 is installed in a motor vehicle, mechanism 22 may preferably be actuatable in conjunction with the operable elements of the motor vehicle in order to provide safety or security, for example, by shading the windows only when the transmission is in “neutral” or “park”. All such actuation methods or uses are contemplated as being within the scope of the present invention.

[0084] According to the above described configuration, mechanism 22 will preferably push film 18 into space 14 in order to deploy it and pull film 18 out of space 14 in order to retract it. It is understood that other deployment mechanisms may be employed which pull film 18 into space 14 for deployment and push film 18 out of space 14 for retraction, or deploy and retract it in different manners. Many different deployment mechanisms are known in the art for deploying different shading elements between the panes of double glazed windows. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,086,133 shows a mechanism that includes parallel threaded rods that rotate causing holders fixed on nuts threaded on the rods to move with respect to the rods according to the direction of rotation. Any of such mechanisms that may be effective in deploying and retracting film 18 may be applied to shade assembly 10 without detracting from the novelty of the present invention. The described mechanism 22 is a simple and effective drive mechanism and it is appreciated that it is not the only drive mechanism that may be applied.

[0085] Reference is now made to FIG. 3 which is a diagrammatic illustration of shade assembly 10 installed in a wall of a building 44. Shown is pane 12 with film 18 approximately 80% deployed therein. Storage unit 20 is shown in phantom lines hidden within the wall structure beneath window 11.

[0086] Reference is now made to FIGS. 4a, 4b and 4c which are diagrammatic illustrations of shade assembly 10 installed in the windshield 45 of a motor vehicle 46 in different states of deployment. Shown in all three figures is pane 12 in identity with windshield 45, film 18 in various stages of deployment, and storage unit 20 in phantom lines under the hood of motor vehicle 46. FIG. 4a shows film 18 fully retracted. FIG. 4b shows film 18 partially deployed. FIG. 4c shows film 18 fully deployed. It is observed that storage unit 20 is stowed adjacent to the underside of the hood of motor vehicle 46 and is therefore not in the same plane as pane 12. As described hereinbefore, it is necessary that storage unit 20 be capable of pivoting relative to pane 12 as the hood of motor vehicle 46 is opened and closed so that storage unit 20 does not impede access to the engine of motor vehicle 46. It is understood that in such embodiments in which pane 12 replaces an exterior window of a motor vehicle, pane 12 must meet all applicable safety and optical standards.

[0087] Reference is now made to FIGS. 5, 6 and 7 which are diagrammatic illustrations of different installation alternatives of shade assembly 10. Shown in all three figures is pane 12 installed to shade rear window 47, with film 18 in partial deployment, and with storage unit 20 in phantom lines stored under the trunk lid of motor vehicle 46. FIGS. 5, 6 and 7 respectively show shade assembly 10 installed with pane 12 on the inside of an existing window unit, on the outside of an existing window unit and in place of an existing window unit. It is understood that the three different dispositions shown are applicable to any window opening 11 in which shade assembly 10 is installed.

[0088] FIG. 5 shows pane 12 disposed outside of and adjacent to rear window 47. In such a disposition, pane 12 will be strongly attached to either rear window 47 or to the body of motor vehicle 46 surrounding rear window 47 so that it does not detach therefrom as a result of driving agitation or wind forces. In such a configuration, the body of motor vehicle 46 must be modified to provide for an opening sufficiently large to allow pane 12 to pass therethrough in order to lie adjacent to the outside of rear window 47.

[0089] FIG. 6 shows pane 12 in identity with rear window 47. In such a disposition, pane 12 serves as rear window 47.

[0090] FIG. 7 shows pane 12 disposed inside of and adjacent to rear window 47.

[0091] In all three dispositions shown, it is necessary that storage unit 20 be capable of pivoting relative to pane 12 as the trunk lid of motor vehicle 46 is opened and closed so that storage unit 20 does not impede access to the trunk of motor vehicle 46.

[0092] Reference is now made to FIGS. 8 and 9 which show further installation alternatives of shade assembly 10 in a motor vehicle. Both figures show shade assembly 10 disposed on the ceiling 48 of motor vehicle 46, with phantom lines showing the location of storage unit 20 and with film 18 partially deployed. FIG. 8 shows pane 12 in identity with windshield 45 and FIG. 9 shows pane 12 in identity with rear window 47. In both figures it is noted that storage unit 20 is in an angular orientation with respect to pane 12.

[0093] Reference is now made to FIG. 10 which shows an alternative embodiment of shade assembly 10 which is particularly applicable for installations in which pane 12 replaces a window unit that opens and closes by raising and lowering into a window opening, such as the side windows of motor vehicles. The illustrated alternative embodiment is similar to the preferred embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 and employs the majority of the elements of storage unit 20 and drive mechanism 22. Therefore, where the alternative embodiment shown in FIG. 10 includes the same parts as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the same numbers are used in FIG. 10.

[0094] According to the alternative embodiment, shade assembly 10 may preferably include an identical pane 12 and mechanism 22 as is included in the preferred embodiment. One difference will be that pane 12 is not attached to storage unit 20, as provided in the preferred embodiment. Rather, pane 12 will not be pivotally or otherwise connected to guide 21, but will fit within guide 21. Guide 21 will be configured sufficiently wide between the legs of its “U” profile such that pane 12 may move up and down the channel formed by the opposite guides 21a and 21b. The presence of pane 12 within guide 21 need not interrupt nor disturb the operation of mechanism 22.

[0095] Accordingly, both film 18 and pane 12 will move up and down within guide 21, with film 18 oriented such that it slides into and out of space 14 as needed by the relative positions of pane 12 and film 18. For example, when pane 12 is in the up or closed position, film 18 may be in its deployed state within space 14 or in its retracted state stowed within guide 21. When pane 12 is in its down or open state, film 18 must be in its retracted state within guide 21, but pane 12 will have descended also within guide 21 and will fit over film 18 such that film 18 is within space 14 even while retracted.

[0096] Both pane 12 and film 18 require drive mechanisms for their respective movements. Pane 12, which replaces the window unit, will preferably be operable by the existing window drive mechanism which normally operates the window unit. Film 18 may be operable by mechanism 22, as shown in the preferred embodiment. It is appreciated that the respective drive mechanisms may be combined in various aspects or one or the other of the two drive mechanisms may be modified to operate both pane 12 and film 18. Such drive mechanisms that operate a plurality of parallel moving members are known in the art.

[0097] The electrical system of mechanism 22 must be modified in order to provide for this difference in operation from the preferred embodiment. For example, film 18 must be prevented from deploying when pane 12 is in the down or open position. In addition, when pane 12 is in the up or closed position and film 18 is deployed therein, moving pane 12 down must also cause film 18 to retract. Both of such requirements may be met by simple switching arrangements that are well known in the art and commonly in use.

[0098] Reference is made to FIG. 11 which shows the alternative embodiment of FIG. 10 installed in a side window of motor vehicle 46. Shown is pane 12 partially raised with film 18 deployed therein. Storage unit 20 is shown in phantom lines within the door of motor vehicle 46.

[0099] Reference is now made to FIG. 12 which shows an alternative embodiment of shade assembly 10 which is particularly applicable for installations in which there is not sufficient space to accommodate storage unit 20 in the form of guide 21, which extends from pane 12, effectively doubling its size. Such an embodiment may be installed below windshields or rear windows or within doors of motor vehicles to shade the side windows.

[0100] According to the alternative embodiment, storage unit 20 comprises a roller, hereinafter referred to as roller 50, for containing film 18 in its retracted state rather than the extending guide 21 of the preferred embodiment. However, the illustrated alternative embodiment remains similar to the preferred embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 in many respects and employs the majority of the elements of drive mechanism 22. Therefore, where the alternative embodiment shown in FIG. 12 includes the same parts as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the same numbers are used in FIG. 12.

[0101] As shown, roller 50 will preferably be disposed below motor 24 and drive shaft 28, oriented with its axis parallel to drive shaft 28 and to opening 16 of pane 12. Roller 50 will be so positioned that film 18 will be deployed from roller 50 into space 14 and retracted from space 14 on to roller 50 without impediment. Accordingly, roller 50 will preferably be located close to and aligned with opening 16.

[0102] Roller 50 will rotate about an axial shaft 51 which will preferably be supported on both ends by guide 21 (not shown) which are positioned adjacent to the sides of pane 12, rather than extending from the sides of pane 12 as is shown in Figure. Accordingly, the same mechanism 22 of the preferred embodiment may be employed in the alternative embodiment with only slight modification. According to this alternative embodiment, motor 24 and drive shaft 28 with pulleys 30 thereon are the same and remain supported by guide 21 (not shown). The remainder of mechanism 22, specifically pulleys 34 and belts 32, will similarly be disposed within guide 21 which is positioned adjacent to the sides of pane 12. Therefore, in order to accommodate this new position of mechanism 22, rod 36 is attached at the top end of film 18 rather than at the bottom end of film 18. In order for this configuration to be effective, another modification of the preferred embodiment is needed. Rod 36 must pass into space 14 and extend beyond the sides of pane 12 in order to engage rings 40 of mechanism 22, which is now positioned adjacent to the sides of pane 12. Therefore, according to the alternative embodiment, the sides of pane 12 are provided with longitudinal slots 52 such that rod 36 may extend therethrough order to move with respect to pane 12 as propelled by rings 40. It is appreciated that according to the alternative embodiment, rod 36 pulls film 18 into space 14 upon deployment and pushes film 18 out of space 14 upon retraction.

[0103] In a variation of the alternative embodiment, an electromagnet may preferably be disposed in the distal end of space 14 and rod 36 may be formed of a ferrous metal in order to create a magnetic force that will assist in the deployment of film 18. In a further variation of the alternative embodiment, roller 50 may preferably be provided with a coiled spring which is tensioned by the rotation of roller 50 in the direction of the deployment of film 18, thus storing energy which assists in the retraction of film 18. Such springs are commonly in use in window shades and other applications.

[0104] Reference is now made to FIG. 13 which shows the alternative embodiment of FIG. 12 installed in a rear window of motor vehicle 46. Shown is pane 12 with film 18 partially deployed therein. Roller 50 is shown in phantom lines below pane 12.

[0105] Reference is now made to FIG. 14 which shows yet a further alternative embodiment of shade assembly 10 which is particularly applicable for installations in which the window unit is irregularly shaped or curved. According to the alternative embodiment, shade assembly 10 comprises pane 12, similar in configuration and materials to pane 12 of the preferred embodiment, but sealed around its perimeter such that it retains fluid within space 14 without leakage.

[0106] According to the alternative embodiment, shade assembly 10 comprises a light blocking fluid, hereinafter referred to as fluid 60, that is deployable within space 14 in order to block the passage of light through pane 12. Fluid 60 has certain required properties that enable it to function effectively in the described application. First, it must have a certain degree of opacity/translucency according to desire. In some applications, such as in a motor vehicle windshield, a totally opaque, ultra-violet blocking effect will be desired, whereas within an inhabited building, a certain degree of shading may be desirable. Accordingly, fluid 60 may be totally impervious to light passage or it may be slightly “smoky”, “milky” or colored in order to provide the desired degree of translucency and/or visibility.

[0107] Second, to be effective as fluid 60, a fluid must not adhere to the inside surfaces of pane 12 after retraction. Therefore, fluid 60 must have low adhesion characteristics. Adhesion is herein defined to mean the propensity of a fluid to adhere to a body with which it comes into contact. Fluids are often differentiated by their ratio of adhesive force/cohesive force. For example, highly volatile fluids like alcohols typically have high adhesive force and low cohesive force. Thus, a quantity of such a fluid coming into contact with an object will not stick together but will adhere and spread widely on the surface of the object Conversely, a fluid like mercury has extremely high cohesive force and low adhesive force. Therefore, a quantity of mercury that comes into contact with an object will tend to stick together rather than disperse or adhere to the object. Further measures that may be taken to avoid residual deposits of fluid 60 within space 14 include coating the inside surface of space 14 with a substance that is inherently non adhesive, such as TEFLON™, or coating the surface of space 14 with a charged substance and selecting an ionized fluid 60 that will be repelled by the coating, or fabricating pane 12 of water repellant glass and selecting a water-based fluid 60.

[0108] Third, fluid 60 must be capable of withstanding the high temperatures produced by sunlight without evaporating.

[0109] Finally, fluid 60 must have an appropriate viscosity such that it may be deployed by pumping into space 14 and retracted by vacuum or by air pressure from space 14.

[0110] Accordingly, an effective fluid 60 to serve as a light blocking fluid is mercury. Additional fluids that may be used include oil based, water based or antifreeze based fluids in conjunction with appropriate repellent coatings on the interior surfaces of space 14. It is appreciated that the specific fluid serving as fluid 60 is not a material element of the invention and any fluid that exhibits the required properties and that may be deployed into space 14 and retracted therefrom without a residue may be used.

[0111] According to the alternative embodiment, shade assembly 10 further comprises a reservoir, hereinafter referred to as reservoir 62, for containing fluid 60. Reservoir 62 may be of any shape required in order to fit into the space provided for it and may be made of any durable material impervious to disintegration or dissolution as a result of contact with fluid 60. Reservoir 62 will be in fluid communication with space 14 via fluid tube 66 which is in fluid communication with space 14 via at least one opening in pane 12, hereinafter referred to as opening 64. Opening 64 is preferably located on a bottom edge of pane 12 in order to allow gravity to aid in the retraction of fluid 60 from space 14.

[0112] According to the alternative embodiment, shade assembly 10 further comprises a fluid pump, hereinafter referred to as pump 68, which is interposed within fluid tube 66 for deploying fluid 60 by pumping fluid 60 from reservoir 62 into space 14 and for retracting fluid 60 by pumping fluid 60 from space 14 into reservoir 62. Many suitable manual and powered fluid pumps are commercially available for two-way transfer of fluids from one container to another. The specific pump selected as pump 68 is not a material element of the present invention.

[0113] Pump 68 is preferably powered by an electric motor (not shown) which is preferably a DC electric motor suitable for motor vehicle current or may be an AC electric motor for installation within buildings. The precise nature and size of the electric motor is not a material feature of the invention provided that it is suitable for activating pump 68.

[0114] According to the alternative embodiment, shade assembly 10 further comprises an air pump, hereinafter referred to as pump 70, which is in fluid communication with space 14 via an opening 72 in pane 12. Pump 70 is useful in the retraction of fluid 60 by causing positive pressure within space 14 to exert force on fluid 60 and assist the pumping action of pump 68. Pump 70 is also preferably reversible such that it is operable to remove air from within space 14 to aid in the deployment of fluid 60. No specific air pump is designated as pump 70 as many small capacity pumps are commercially available that will serve the function of pump 70.

[0115] Opening 72 is preferably located on a top edge of pane 12 so that it will not be blocked as fluid 60 enters space 14. Moreover, in instances in which pump 68 retracts fluid 60 from space 14 without the aid of pump 70, opening 72 so located will serve as a pressure equalizer so that air may enter to replace the retracted fluid 60.

[0116] It is appreciated that a motor vehicle may have multiple window units of shade assembly 10 to be shaded according to the above described alternative embodiment. Accordingly, it is within the scope of the present invention to equip motor vehicle 46 with a system which includes a common reservoir 62, a common fluid pump 68 and a common air pump 70 for deploying and retracting fluid 60 within each window unit to be shaded. According to such a system, fluid tube 66 will necessarily comprise a network of fluid tubes 66 leading from the common pump 68 to each window, and air pump 70 will similarly have a network of air tubes 74 leading to each separate window unit. It is understood that each network of fluid tubes 66 and air tubes 74 will necessarily require careful and intricate valving to assure the passage of fluid and air to the desired window unit.

[0117] Reference is now made to FIG. 15 which shows the alternative embodiment of FIG. 14 installed in a rear window of motor vehicle 46. Shown is pane 12 with fluid 60 partially deployed therein. Reservoir 62, pump 68, fluid tube 66, air pump 70 and air tube 74 are shown in phantom lines below pane 12.

[0118] Reference is now made to FIG. 16 which shows a flow chart illustrating a method of shading a window opening in a motor vehicle, hereinafter referred to as method 80. Method 80 comprises the following steps:

[0119] Step 1. Deploying within a window opening in a motor vehicle a shading assembly comprising a double pane formed of two panes of transparent material disposed substantially parallel with a space therebetween, and a light blocking member deployable within the space and retractable from within the space.

[0120] Step 2. Deploying the light blocking member within the space of the double pane.

[0121] It is understood that the various embodiments of shade assembly 10 hereinbefore described are appropriate for use in method 80. It is also understood that any variations of any of the embodiments of shade assembly 10 will similarly be appropriate for use in method 80 and are contemplated as being within the scope of the present invention so long as they include the elements set forth in the above two steps constituting method 80

[0122] It is appreciated that certain features of the invention, which are, for clarity, described in the context of separate embodiments, may also be provided in combination in a single embodiment. Conversely, various features of the invention which are, for brevity, described in the context of a single embodiment, may also be provided separately or in any suitable subcombination.

[0123] It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that the present invention is not limited to what has been particularly shown and described hereinabove. Rather, the scope of the present invention is defined by the appended claims and includes both combinations and subcombinations of the various features described hereinabove as well as variations and modifications thereof which would occur to persons skilled in the art upon reading the foregoing description. Accordingly, it is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations that fall within the spirit and broad scope of the appended claims.