Title:
Inflatable apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A bedding apparatus has an inflatable base and a sleeping bag. The sleeping bag has a base portion and a cover that define a sleeping space between the base portion and the cover. The sleeping bag is supported by the base. The base can be folded into a different configuration and retained in this folded configuration for use as a different article of use.



Inventors:
Zheng, Yu (Walnut, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/897705
Publication Date:
12/23/2004
Filing Date:
07/22/2004
Assignee:
ZHENG YU
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/655.3
International Classes:
A47C4/54; A47C27/08; A47G9/08; (IPC1-7): A47G9/08
View Patent Images:
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20090167041NOVELTY TRAY AND CUSHIONJuly, 2009James et al.
20080295245HOME PERSONAL SECURITY SYSTEMDecember, 2008Lesage
20070107122PATIENT-SUPPORTING PANEL AND OPERATING TABLE HAVING A PATIENT-SUPPORTING PANELMay, 2007Georgi et al.
20090293198Covering systemDecember, 2009Fodge et al.
20090126111COMFORTER COVER AND COMFORTERMay, 2009Maimone et al.
20060021139Sleeping bag with integrated air mattressFebruary, 2006Lavigne
20090205140Infant play environmentAugust, 2009Reese et al.



Primary Examiner:
SPAHN, GAY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Raymond Sun (Tustin, CA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An apparatus comprising: an inflatable base having three separate segments that include a first segment, a second segment pivotably coupled to the first segment, and a third segment pivotably coupled to the second segment; an inflatable back rest attached to the third segment; and an inflatable arm rest attached to the back rest and the third segment.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the second segment has a first end that is coupled to the first segment, and a second end that is coupled to the third segment.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the third segment has a rear end that is attached to the back rest, and a side that is attached to the arm rest.

4. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the third segment has a rear end that is attached to the back rest, and a side that is attached to the arm rest.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the arm rest and the back rest have separate inflation chambers.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein each segment, the back rest and the arm rest are inflatable independent of each other.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, further including a covering, with the base retained inside the covering.

8. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the apparatus assumes the configuration of a seat when the segments are pivoted to be stacked on top of each other.

9. An apparatus comprising: an inflatable base having three separate segments that include a first segment and a second segment pivotably coupled to the first segment, the second segment having a rear end and a side; an inflatable back rest attached to the rear end of the second segment; and an inflatable arm rest attached to the back rest and the side of the second segment.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the arm rest and the back rest have separate inflation chambers.

11. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein each segment, the back rest and the arm rest are inflatable independent of each other.

12. The apparatus of claim 9, further including a covering, with the base retained inside the covering.

13. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the apparatus assumes the configuration of a seat when the segments are pivoted to be stacked on top of each other.

14. A method of converting a sleeping apparatus into a seat, comprising: a. providing an apparatus having: an inflatable base having two separate segments that include a first segment and a second segment pivotably coupled to the first segment; an inflatable back rest attached to the second segment; and an inflatable arm rest attached to the back rest and the second segment; and b. pivoting the first segment to be positioned on top of the second segment.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the base further includes a third segment pivotably coupled to the first segment, and further including: c. pivoting the third segment to be positioned on top of the first segment.

Description:

RELATED CASES

[0001] This is a continuation-in-part of co-pending Ser. No. 10/112,819, filed Mar. 29, 2002, entitled “Sleeping Apparatus”, whose entire disclosure is incorporated by this reference as though set forth fully herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention relates to inflatable apparatus, and in particular, to furniture assemblies that can be easily and conveniently folded or collapsed to a smaller size for storage.

[0004] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0005] Portable mattresses, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, futons and similar bed-like products have become very popular in recent times. These products are often used as temporary beds and as such, are useful in accomodating house guests, in camping or on short trips. Given these uses, it is important for these temporary beds to be convenient to use and convenient to store.

[0006] Sleeping bags have long been a popular choice for campers and overnight guests. Sleeping bags provide a covering that functions effectively as a blanket. In addition, sleeping bags are usually made entirely from a soft cloth-like or similar material which are rather comfortable for sleeping in, and which allows the sleeping bags to be easily rolled up for storage. Unfortunately, most sleeping bags have a soft base which the user lies on, and a soft base can be uncomfortable when compared with a conventional mattress. This is because the user is essentially sleeping on the ground and can often feel the different bumps and other rough spots on the ground.

[0007] Sleeping mats are similar to sleeping bags except that no covering is provided. Thus, sleeping mats not only suffer from the same drawbacks as sleeping bags, but also do not provide any blanket or covering.

[0008] Portable inflatable mattresses provide a firmer base for the user to sleep on, so the user does not feel like he or she is sleeping on the ground. In addition, the inflatability of these portable mattresses allows them to be deflated and then folded into a small configuration that is easy to move around and to store. Unfortunately, most portable inflatable mattresses do not provide any blanket or covering.

[0009] Futons are arguably more comfortable than inflatable mattresses, sleeping bags and sleeping mats because they are actually very similar to a mini-mattress. Unfortunately, futons do not provide any blanket or covering, and cannot be folded or collapsed so that they become bulky and therefore difficult to move around and to store.

[0010] Thus, there still remains a need to provide temporary bedding and related furniture assemblies that are comfortable, convenient to use, and easy to store.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

[0011] It is an object of the present invention to provide a bedding apparatus that is comfortable to the user.

[0012] It is another object of the present invention to provide a bedding apparatus that is convenient to use and easy to store.

[0013] It is yet another object of the present invention to provide an inflatable apparatus that can be converted into different furniture items.

[0014] In order to accomplish the objects of the present invention, the present invention provides a bedding apparatus that has an inflatable base and a sleeping bag. The sleeping bag can have a base portion and a cover that define a sleeping space between the base portion and the cover. In one embodiment, the base portion of the sleeping bag is attached to the top surface of the inflatable base. In another embodiment, the base is retained inside the sleeping bag. The base can be folded into a different configuration and retained in this folded configuration for use as a different article of use.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0015] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a bedding apparatus according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0016] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a bedding apparatus according to another embodiment of the present invention.

[0017] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the base of the apparatus of FIG. 2.

[0018] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a bedding apparatus according to yet another embodiment of the present invention.

[0019] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a bedding apparatus according to yet another embodiment of the present invention, illustrating modifications made to the apparatus of FIG. 4.

[0020] FIGS. 6 and 7 are perspective views of bedding apparatus according to other embodiments of the present invention.

[0021] FIGS. 8-9 are perspective views illustrating how any of the embodiments of FIGS. 1-7 can be folded to create a different article of use.

[0022] FIG. 10 is a perspective view illustrating how the apparatus of FIGS. 2-3 can be folded to create a different article of use.

[0023] FIGS. 11 and 12 illustrate modifications to the apparatus of FIG. 10.

[0024] FIG. 13 is a perspective view of an inflatable apparatus according to yet another embodiment of the present invention, shown in use as a bedding apparatus.

[0025] FIG. 14 illustrates how the apparatus of FIG. 13 can be folded to change the apparatus to a chair.

[0026] FIG. 15 is a perspective view of the apparatus of FIG. 13, shown in use as a chair.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0027] The following detailed description is of the best presently contemplated modes of carrying out the invention. This description is not to be taken in a limiting sense, but is made merely for the purpose of illustrating general principles of embodiments of the invention. The scope of the invention is best defined by the appended claims.

[0028] FIG. 1 illustrates a bedding apparatus 20 according to one embodiment of the present invention. The apparatus 20 has a base 22 and a bag 24 that can be removably attached to the base 22. The base 22 and bag 24 can both be provided with similar configurations so that the apparatus will appear to be a unitary structure after the base 22 and bag 24 have been attached. The base 22 is inflatable, and is made from an inflatable material (e.g., PVC, leather and nylon) that has an interior chamber for receiving air or fluid that is introduced through an air inlet 26. Another example of a possible material for the base 22 is a soft fabric that is lined with a plastic coating. In this regard, the base 22 can be similar to a conventional inflatable mattress.

[0029] The bag 24 can be similar to a conventional sleeping bag. In this regard, the entire bag 24 is preferably made from a soft cloth-like material, and can include soft paddings, down and any other conventional material that is typically used to provide sleeping bags with a soft and fluffy feel. The bag 24 has a base portion 28 and a cover 30 that acts as a blanket. The length of the cover 30 is shorter than the length of the base portion 28 so that the user can place his or her head on the exposed portion 32 of the base portion 28. The base portion 28 and the cover 30 define a sleeping space therebetween for the user's body. The bag 24 can be formed by providing one large piece of material, and folding the material into half so that one half forms the base portion 28 and the other half forms the cover 30. The opposing edges, such as 34 and 36, of the piece of material can be either permanently attached (e.g., by stitching), or removably attached (e.g., by VELCRO™ pads, a zipper, hooks, and similar mechanisms).

[0030] The bag 24 can be removably attached to the base 22 by a removable attachment mechanism, such as opposing VELCRO™ pads 38 provided on the bottom of the base portion 28 and the top of the base 22. Other removable attachment mechanisms can be used, including but not limited to, zippers, hooks and clasps, among others. Thus, the bag 24 can be removed from the base 22 so that the bag 24 can be washed separately from the base 22.

[0031] The apparatus 20 can be used like a sleeping bag, with the added benefit that the base 22 can provide a firmer support for the back and body. The firmness of the base 22 can also be adjusted by inflating or deflating the base 22 more or less to provide a softer or firmer back support. The bag 24 can provide a soft base portion 28 that is comfortable to lie on, and a cover 30 that can function as a blanket. The apparatus 20 can be easily and conveniently packed for storage by removing the bag 24 from the base 22, and folding the bag 24 in the same manner as folding a conventional sleeping bag, and then deflating the base 22. Once the base 22 has been completely deflated, it can be folded into a small configuration. For example, a pouch or bag (not shown) can be provided for holding the folded bag 24 and folded base 22. The pouch can then be conveniently carried around by the user.

[0032] FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate another bedding apparatus 50 that is similar to the apparatus 20 of FIG. 1. The apparatus 50 in FIGS. 2 and 3 also has an inflatable base 52 and a bag 54 that can be the same as the base 22 and bag 24, respectively, of FIG. 1, except for the differences noted below. One primary difference is that the base 52 can be provided with a plurality of different segments 56a-56d, each having its own interior chamber for holding air or fluid. Each segment 56a-56d can be made from any of the materials, and has the same characteristics as, the base 22 described above. In addition, each segment 56a-56d has its own corresponding air inlet 58a-58d throughout which air or fluid can be introduced and removed. Referring to FIG. 3, the base 52 can have a single support board 60, with the segments 56a-56d secured (e.g., by glue, heat weld, etc.) to the bottom of the board 60. The bag 54 can be removably attached to the board 60 of the base 52 using any of the removable attachment mechanisms described above, or can be permenently attached (e.g., by glue, stitching, etc.) to the base 52 as shown in FIG. 2.

[0033] The plurality of different segments 56a-56d allows for the base 52 to have varying firmness throughout. As a non-limiting example, the user can inflate selected segments 56a and 56b more than the other segments 56c and 56d, so as to obtain a firmer support for the back, neck and head regions than for the leg regions. The plurality of different segments 56a-56d also allows for the apparatus 50 to be foldable to form a different article of use, as explained in greater detail in connection with FIGS. 8-10 below.

[0034] FIG. 4 illustrates another bedding apparatus 70. The apparatus 70 in FIG. 4 has an inflatable base 72 that is removably retained inside a bag 74. The base 72 can be the same as the base 22 in FIG. 1 or base 52 in FIGS. 2-3. The bag 74 has a base portion 76 that has an internal receiving space 78 defined therein for receiving the base 72. The bag 74 also has a cover 80 that can be folded to cover the base portion 76. The opposing edges 82 and 84 of the base portion 76 and the cover 80, respectively, can be removably attached (e.g., by VELCRO™ pads, a zipper, hooks, and similar mechanisms). A sleeping space is defined between the cover 80 and the base portion 76. An opening 86 can be provided along any edge of the base portion 76 to access the internal space 78, so that the base 72 can be slid through the opening 86 into the internal space 78.

[0035] A pillow 88 can be provided adjacent the top of the base portion 76. The pillow 88 can be an inflatable pillow made of the same material as the base 22 and attached (e.g., by sewing) to the base portion 76, or can be a conventional soft cloth-like pillow attached (e.g., by sewing) to the base portion 76. If the pillow 88 is inflatable, the base portion 76 can be provided with a pillow housing that is made of the same material as the base portion 76, with the pillow housing having an interior accessed by an opening that can be closed by VELCRO™ pads, a zipper or the like.

[0036] The inflatable pillow 88 can then be inserted into, or removed from, the interior of the pillow housing via the opening. The pillow 88 itself can be provided with an air inlet 90 through which air or fluid can be introduced or removed.

[0037] Thus, the apparatus 70 in FIG. 4 is very similar to the apparatus 20 in FIG. 1 and the apparatus 50 in FIGS. 2-3, except that the apparatus 70 removably attaches the base 72 and bag 74 in a different manner. In other words, the apparatus 20 and 50 removably attach the bag 24, 54 to the base 22, 52 by using a removable attachment mechanism, while the apparatus 70 in FIG. 4 removably attaches the bag 74 to the base 72 by removably retaining the base 72 inside the base portion 76 of the bag 74. Otherwise, the construction, materials, features and uses for the bag 74 and the base 72 in the apparatus 70 of FIG. 4 is very similar to those for the bag 24 and the base 22 in the apparatus 20 of FIG. 1.

[0038] FIG. 5 illustrates a bedding apparatus 100 that includes a modification that can be made to the apparatus 70 of FIG. 4. The apparatus 100 in FIG. 5 is essentially the same as the apparatus in FIG. 4, in that the apparatus 100 also has an inflatable base (not shown) that is retained inside the base portion 102 of a bag 104. The apparatus 100 differs from the apparatus 70 in that the pillow 106 now extends from the top edge 108 of the base portion 102. The pillow 106 can be a conventional soft cloth-like pillow attached (e.g., by sewing) to the top edge 108 of the base portion 102. Alternatively, the pillow 106 can be housed in a pillow housing that is made of the same material as the base portion 102 and stitched to the top edge 108 of the base portion 102, with the pillow housing having an interior accessed by an opening that can be closed by VELCRO™ pads, a zipper or the like. The inflatable pillow 106 can then be inserted into, or removed from, the interior of the pillow housing via the opening.

[0039] FIG. 6 illustrates another bedding apparatus 120. The apparatus 120 in FIG. 6 has a inflatable base 122 that is removably retained inside the sleeping space 124 defined by the base portion 126 and the cover 128 of the bag 130. The base 122 can be the same as the base 22 in FIG. 1, and the bag 130 can be the same as the bag 24 in FIG. 1. The opposing edges 132 and 134 of the base portion 126 and the cover 128, respectively, can be removably attached (e.g., by VELCRO™ pads, a zipper, hooks, and similar mechanisms) to enclose the sleeping space 124. Thus, in this embodiment, the user actually lies directly on top of the top surface 136 of the base 122. For this reason, the top surface 136 of the base 122 can be lined or otherwise provided with a fabric material that is soft and pleasant to touch. A pillow 138 can be formed as part of the base 122, and is therefore inflatable together with the base 122. In use, the user can insert the base 122 between the base portion 126 and the cover 128, and then lie down on the base 122 between the base portion 126 and the cover 128. To store the apparatus 120, the user removes the base 122 from the interior (i.e., sleeping space 124) of the bag 130, and deflates the base 122. The user then folds the bag 130 and the base 122, either separately or together.

[0040] FIG. 7 illustrates another bedding apparatus 150. The apparatus 150 differs from the other embodiments shown in FIGS. 1-6 in that the base and the bag is combined together. In particular, the apparatus 150 has a base 152 that can be the same as the base 22 described above, except that the base 152 is not retained inside a bag. As a result, the user will lie on the top surface 154 of the base 152 when using the apparatus 150. For this reason, the top surface 154 of the base 152 can be lined or otherwise provided with a fabric material that is soft and pleasant to touch. In addition, an inflatable pillow 156 can be attached to the top surface 154 of the base 152 (as shown in FIG. 7), or can be formed as part of the base 152 so that it is inflatable together with the base 152. A cover 158, which is preferably made of the same material as the bag 24 described above, is attached (e.g., by stitching) along one side edge 160 to a side edge 162 of the base 152. The other edges 164 and 166 of the cover 158 are releasably attached to the other edges 168 and 170 of the base 152 by a releasable attachment mechanism 172. In FIG. 7, the releasable attachment mechanism 172 is a zipper, but other mechanisms such as hooks and clasps, and VELCRO™ pads, can also be used. In use, the user can partially separate the cover 158 from the base 152 by releasing a certain portion of the attachment mechanism 172. The user then crawls into the sleeping space defined between the base 152 and the cover 158. To store the apparatus 150, the user simply deflates the base 152 and then folds the cover 158 together with the base 152. Thus, the apparatus 150 is more convenient and faster to use when compared with the embodiments in FIGS. 4-6, but suffers from the drawback that the base 152 is not covered or otherwise protected from the user or the external environment, so that it is easier for the base 152 to get dirty. On the other hand, the embodiments in FIGS. 4-6 all retain the base inside the bag, so that the base is less likely to be dirtied by the external environment and/or the user.

[0041] The inflatable nature of the base of the apparatus according to the present invention allows the apparatus to be configured for different uses other than for use merely as a temporary bedding. For example, FIG. 8 illustrates an apparatus 200 that has a base 202 and a bag 204 that can be the same as any of the bases and bags for any of the embodiments above. A pillow 206 can be provided on one end of the base 202. The base 202 is shown in FIG. 8 after it has been inflated. When in the configuration shown in FIG. 8, the apparatus 200 can be used as a temporary bed in the same manner disclosed above for any of the embodiments in FIGS. 1-7. Alternatively, the base 202 of the apparatus 200 can be folded in half, as shown in FIG. 9, so that the apparatus 200 can now be used as a chair, with the pillow 206 functioning as a small backrest. Removable attachment mechanisms can be provided to retain the base 202 in its folded position for use as a chair. For example, opposing VELCRO™ pads 208 can be provided on opposite ends of the bottom surface 210 of the base 202 to removably attach the opposite ends of the base 202. Alternatively, straps 212 can also be provided on opposite ends of the base 202 to removably attach the opposite ends of the base 202. Thus, the apparatus 200 can serve a dual purpose in that it can be used as temporary bedding and as a chair, while being capable of being deflated, folded and collapsed into a small configuration for storage.

[0042] FIG. 10 extends the principles illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9 even further. The apparatus 220 in FIG. 10 has a base 222 and a bag 224 that can be the same as any of the bases and bags for any of the embodiments above. For example, the apparatus 220 can be similar to the apparatus 50 in FIGS. 2 and 3 in that the base 222 can be provided in the form of a plurality of segments 224a, 224b and 224c, and having a bag 236 attached to the top of the base 222. The base 222 can be folded at locations where adjacent segments meet. For example, the segment 224b can be pivoted upwardly (with respect to the segments 224a, 224c) at its opposite ends (see the locations 226 and 228) where the segment 224b is adjacent the segments 224a and 224c, respectively. The segment 224b can itself be folded at about the middle. One or more straps 230 can be provided along the sides of the segments 224a, 224b, 224c to secure the segments 224a, 224b and 224c at their desired orientations. FIG. 10 illustrates the segments 224a, 224b, 224c configured to resemble a recliner, with the segment 224a acting as the seat, half of the segment 224b acting as a recliner backrest, and the segment 224c acting as a base support on the other side of the seat (i.e., segment 224a). Each of the segments 224a, 224b, 224c can be the same as any of the segments 56a-56d in FIGS. 2-3.

[0043] FIG. 11 illustrates an apparatus 220×that is similar to the apparatus 220, having segments 224x and 224y that can be the same as the segments 224a and 224b, respectively. Here, straps 230x can be attached to the bottom surfaces of the segments 224x and 224y to secure the segments 224x and 224y at their desired orientations. The bottom straps 230x can be replaced by adjustable strap and buckle assemblies 230y, as shown in FIG. 12.

[0044] FIGS. 13-15 illustrate an apparatus 300 that has a base 302 and a bag 304 that can be the same as any of the bases and bags for any of the embodiments above. For example, the base 302 can be retained inside the bag 304. In addition to the base 302 and the bag 304, three additional inflatable segments are provided: a back rest 306 and two arm rests 308 and 310 that together surround the rear segment 312 of the base 302. Each of the back rest 306 and arm rests 308, 310 can be provided as separate inflatable segments, or configured as a single segment that is inflated together. As yet a further example, the back rest 306 and arm rests 308, 310 can be provided as a single segment with the rear segment 312, so that these four segments 306, 308, 310 and 312 can be inflated together. The base 302 can also include two other separate segments 314 and 316. Each of the base segments 312, 314, 316 can be provided as separate inflatable segments, or configured as a single segment that is inflated together.

[0045] The apparatus 300 can be converted from an inflatable bedding into an inflatable seat, and vice versa. FIG. 13 illustrates the apparatus 300 in use as an inflatable bedding, with the back rest 306 and the arm rests 308, 310 being used to shield the head of a user to provide a degree of privacy. Referring to FIG. 14, the segment 314 can be folded on top of the segment 312, and then the segment 316 can be folded on top of the segment 314, so that the apparatus 300 is converted into a seat, as shown in FIG. 15. Attachment mechanisms 320 (e.g., opposing VELCRO™ straps) can be provided on any of the segments 312, 314, 316, arm rests 308, 310, and/or back rest 306 to maintain the configuration of the seat shown in FIG. 15. From the orientation shown in FIG. 15, the segments 316 and 314 can be unfolded with respect to the segment 312 to convert the seat back into a bedding apparatus as shown in FIG. 13. Thus, the apparatus 300 offers further flexibility in use, since it can be used as a bed at night, and as a comfortable seat during the day.

[0046] Thus, the present invention provides temporary bedding apparatus that are more comfortable than sleeping bags and sleeping mats because (1) the inflatable base provides a back and body support whose firmness can be adjusted by the user, and (2) the inflatable base provides a more effective buffer between the user's body and the ground. In addition, the present invention provides temporary bedding apparatus that retain the convenience afforded by conventional sleeping bags in that the apparatus of the present invention can be easily and conveniently folded for storage. The present invention affords yet another benefit in that the apparatus can be folded to create different articles of use.

[0047] While the description above refers to particular embodiments of the present invention, it will be understood that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit thereof. The accompanying claims are intended to cover such modifications as would fall within the true scope and spirit of the present invention.