Title:
Foldable structure capable of being configured as a book
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A foldable structure is disclosed. The foldable structure includes a foldable body including a front side and a back side, and a plurality of sections. A folding region in the foldable body is between each of pair of adjacent sections. At least one attachment element is on the back side of the foldable body, where the at least one attachment element is capable of coupling the pair of adjacent sections together to form a page of a book. The foldable body is capable of being in an open position or a closed position that forms a book.



Inventors:
Laguatan, Roseld (Richmond, CA, US)
Hendrickson, Craig R. (Fremont, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/961357
Publication Date:
04/14/2005
Filing Date:
10/07/2004
Assignee:
LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. (Emeryville, CA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/904, 5/946
International Classes:
A47C27/08; A47D15/00; (IPC1-7): A47C27/08; A47D15/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLINSKI, ALYSSA MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KILPATRICK TOWNSEND & STOCKTON LLP (Atlanta, GA, US)
Claims:
1. A foldable structure comprising: a foldable body including a front side and a back side, and a plurality of sections; a folding region in the foldable body between each of pair of adjacent sections; at least one attachment element on the back side of the foldable body, wherein the at least one attachment element is capable of coupling the pair of adjacent sections together to form a page of a book, wherein the foldable body is capable of being in an open position or a closed position that forms the book; a processor unit coupled to the foldable body; a memory unit comprising code for audio coupled to the processor unit; and a speaker coupled to the processor unit.

2. The foldable structure of claim 1 wherein the foldable body includes a cushion material.

3. The foldable structure of claim 1 wherein the foldable structure is capable of being used as a crib bumper.

4. The foldable structure of claim 1 wherein the at least one image comprises an animal image.

5. The foldable structure of claim 1 wherein the memory unit comprises code for a story mode, a music mode, or a lullaby mode.

6. The foldable structure of claim 1 further comprising a speech synthesizer coupled to the processor unit.

7. The foldable structure of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of tie ends coupled to the foldable body.

8. The foldable structure of claim 1 further comprising at least one three-dimensional actuator coupled to the foldable body, wherein the three-dimensional actuator is configured to be grasped by a child.

9. The foldable structure of claim 1 further comprising at least one three-dimensional actuator and at least one two-dimensional actuator coupled to the processor unit in the foldable structure.

10. The foldable structure of claim 1 further comprising a mode selection element coupled to the processor unit.

11. The foldable structure of claim 1 wherein the attachment element comprises a strip including a hook and loop fastener.

12. The foldable structure of claim 1 wherein the memory unit comprises code for music.

13. The foldable structure of claim 1 further comprising a display coupled to the processor unit.

14. The foldable structure of claim 1 wherein the foldable body comprises a cloth material.

15. The foldable structure of claim 1 wherein the foldable structure has pages when the foldable structure is in the form of a book.

16. The foldable structure of claim 17 wherein the foldable structure has at least one image on the front side of the foldable structure.

17. A crib apparatus comprising: a crib; and the foldable structure of claim 1 attached to the crib.

18. A method comprising: obtaining the foldable structure of claim 1; attaching the foldable structure to a support structure; and configuring the foldable structure into a book.

19. The method of claim 18 wherein the support structure is part of a crib, and wherein the foldable structure includes tie ends for attaching the foldable structure to the crib.

20. The method of claim 18 wherein the book is a children's book.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This patent application is a non-provisional of and claims the benefit of the filing date of U.S. Patent Application No. 60/509,985, filed on Oct. 8, 2003, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety for all purposes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many products are commercially available for infants. One infant product is a crib bumper. Crib bumpers are colorful, padded structures that are tied to the bars of a crib. A crib bumper serves as a cushion in case the infant that is in the crib inadvertently contacts the crib's bars. Crib bumpers are also used to help decorate a crib. Other commercial products are also used with cribs. For example, one product that is commercially available is a keyboard that attaches to the bars of a crib. The infant's feet play the keyboard so that the infant can play music while in the crib.

Although such products are useful, they could be improved. For example, both of the above products are basically used for only one stage in a child's life. Once the infant becomes a toddler, the child has outgrown the above-noted crib products and they can no longer be used. In addition, many commercially available infant products do not prepare infants for reading. It would be desirable if such infant products could begin to introduce children to the concept of reading even at an early age. Lastly, many commercially available crib products are not particularly interactive. It would be desirable to provide for an infant product that is more interactive than many commercially available infant products.

Embodiments of the invention address these and other problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the invention are directed to foldable structures and methods for using foldable structures. The foldable structures according to embodiments of the invention can be coupled to a structure such as a crib. They can alternatively be configured into a book.

One embodiment of the invention is directed to a foldable structure comprising: a foldable body including a front side and a back side, and a plurality of sections; a folding region in the foldable body between each of pair of adjacent sections; at least one attachment element on the back side of the foldable body, wherein the at least one attachment element is capable of coupling the pair of adjacent sections together to form a page of a book, wherein the foldable body is capable of being in an open position or a closed position that forms a book; a processor unit coupled to the foldable body; a memory unit comprising code for audio coupled to the processor unit; and a speaker coupled to the processor unit.

Another embodiment of the invention is directed to a crib structure including a foldable structure and a crib.

Yet another embodiment of the invention is directed to a method for using a foldable structure including: obtaining a foldable structure; attaching the foldable structure to a support structure; and configuring the foldable structure into a book.

These and other embodiments of the invention will be described in further detail below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a front view of a foldable structure in an open position.

FIG. 2 shows a rear view of a foldable structure in a closed, book positon.

FIG. 3 shows a front, perspective view of a foldable structure in an open book

FIG. 4(a) shows a foldable structure attached to a crib.

FIG. 4(b) shows a foldable structure when it is in the form of a book.

FIG. 5 shows a block diagram of some electrical components according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 6(a) and 6(b) show exemplary electrical schematic diagrams for embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the invention are directed to foldable structures that can form a book. They can also be used as crib bumpers, or as decorative articles for a crib, wall, playpen, or other structure.

In some embodiments, the foldable structure comprises a foldable body including a front side and a back side. The foldable body includes a plurality of sections, and a folding region is between each pair of adjacent sections. At least one image can be on the front side and/or the back side of the foldable body, and at least one attachment element (e.g., hook and loop fasteners, button snaps, tape, etc.) is on the back side of the foldable body. The at least one attachment element is capable of coupling the pair of adjacent sections together to form a page of a book. Accordingly, the foldable structure is capable of being in an open position or in a closed a book position. When it is an open position, the foldable structure can be used as a crib bumper, or a decorative article for a crib, wall, or other structure.

In some embodiments, the images on the front side of the foldable structure may include a number of actuators associated with them. The actuators may be in any suitable form. Exemplary actuators include, but are not limited to pull strings and push buttons that can be actuated by an infant or toddler. In embodiments of the invention, actuating an actuator causes another portion of the foldable structure to move. Sound may or may not sound from the foldable structure in response to the actuation of the actuator. For example, pulling an elephant's trunk may cause the elephant's ears to move up and down, and may simultaneously cause an elephant sound to sound from a speaker in the foldable structure.

FIG. 1 shows a front view of a foldable structure 100 according to an embodiment of the invention in an open position.

The foldable structure 100 includes a foldable body 102 having plurality of sections 70(a)-70(f). Foldable regions 94(a)-94(e) are respectively between adjacent sections 70(a)-70(f). When the foldable structure 100 is configured as a book, adjacent sections in the foldable structure 100 can be joined together to form a page in the book. For example, sections 70(a) and 70(b) in FIG. 1 can fold about the foldable region 94(a) and can form a page in the book.

The foldable structure 100 may have any suitable size. In one embodiment, the foldable structure 100 may be 6″×6″×3″ when it is in book form. The foldable structure may be 36″×6″×5″ when it is in open form. Of course, the foldable structure 100 may have dimensions larger or smaller than this in other embodiments.

Each section 70(a)-70(f) can have images and/or text on it. The images and/or text can be embroidered on the sections in the foldable body 102 or can be printed on the sections 70(a)-70(f) of the foldable body 102. The text and images on the foldable body 102 may form a story and may correspond to a single theme. For example, the single theme may be animals and the images may include pictures of animals, while the text may be directed to facts or stories about those animals. The theme may also correspond to letters, numbers or shapes.

The foldable body 102 may comprise any suitable material. Preferably, the foldable body 102 has a cloth or soft exterior, with interior cushioning. The outer surface of the foldable body 102 could alternatively comprise paper or a flexible or rigid plastic material instead of cloth. Suitable electronics including a processor unit, a memory unit, and a speaker, may be coupled to the foldable body 102. They can be included in a plastic box in the interior of the foldable body 102 or the plastic box may be outside of the foldable body 102.

The foldable structure 100 includes a plurality of tie ends 92 attached to the foldable body 102. These tie ends 92 can be used to tie the foldable structure 100 to the bars or the rails of a crib so that the images on the front of the foldable structure 100 are displayed to the infant in the crib. In other embodiments, other types of coupling elements can be used. For example, instead of tie ends, cloth loops, hook and loop fasteners, clips or other coupling elements can be used. Such coupling elements can be used to attach the foldable structure 100 to a structure such as a crib or wall.

The foldable structure 100 may also include a number of actuators 92(a)-92(c). A child can actuate the actuators 92(a)-92(c) and the electronics in the foldable structure 100 can provide an appropriate response. A first actuator 92(a) includes a cloth body with a picture of a banana and a first ring attached to the cloth body. A second actuator 92(b) includes a cloth body with a picture of an elephant's trunk and a second ring attached to the cloth body. A third actuator 92(c) includes another cloth body with a third ring on the cloth body. The third actuator 92(c) is just below the picture of a panda. The first, second, and third rings are different colors such as green, yellow, and red.

As shown in FIG. 1, the foldable structure 100 includes mode selection elements 90. The selection elements in this embodiment are in the form of four depressible buttons for four operational modes. The buttons may comprise pressure switches that are in the interior of the foldable structure 100. In other embodiments, instead of four depressible buttons, a slide switch or other mode selector may be used. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, however, the foldable structure 100 can be placed in an explore mode, a story mode, a music mode, or a lullaby mode by selecting the appropriate buttons. Accordingly, the foldable structure may be considered a “multi-modal device”.

In an explore mode, each pull of the ring reads the rhymes written on that page complete with fun sound effects and endearing animal voices. As the child interacts with the actuators, animals introduce themselves with animal sounds, and brief rhymes about themselves.

In a story mode, each pull of the activity ring activates a unique musical story about that animal and features a “playing together” theme. As the child interacts with the actuators, the foldable structure can produce a synthesized voice that reads a story.

In a music mode, five or more minutes of engaging music may play. Music plays in three segments that match to each animal. A child can pull an animal activity ring to hear the music and to change the music being played. In some embodiments, parents can slide the switch to produce 5 or more minutes of soothing music.

In a lullaby mode, the child can hear one of five classic lullabies for a relaxing, soothing experience. In the lullaby mode, a child can pull an animal activity ring to hear a fun animal sound effect.

The foldable structure 100 may include one or more additional modes in addition to (or as alternatives to) the modes mentioned above. Other modes many relate to letter recognition or pronunciation, word recognition or pronunciation, number recognition and pronunciation, color recognition or pronunciation, shape recognition or pronunciation, pattern recognition, memory games, phonemes, addition, subtraction, fun facts, counting, etc. Other modes are discussed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,403,965, 5,944,533, and 5,813,861, all of which are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety for all purposes.

FIG. 2 shows a rear view of the foldable structure 100 in a closed book configuration. An attachment element 86 includes a cloth portion 86(a) with a hook and loop portion (e.g., Velcro) 86(b), which attaches to another hook and loop portion on an outer section of the foldable structure 100. Although one type of attachment element is shown, other types of attachment elements could be used. For example, button snaps or adhesive structures could be used instead of a hook and loop type fastener. The attachment element binds the previously described foldable regions together to form the spine of the book. A handle 88 is present at the formed spine of the book to allow a child to easily carry the book. A number of tie ends 92 are also shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 3 shows a front perspective view of the foldable structure 100 when it is in a closed book form. As shown, the previously described sections form a number of pages 86(a)-86(d) in the book. The book can be carried with the child and used by the child when s/he becomes a toddler.

FIG. 4(a) shows the foldable structure 100 when it is attached to a crib 102. When it is attached to the crib 102, the combination of these may form a crib apparatus. The foldable structure 100 may be attached to any part of the crib, including a crib rail.

FIG. 4(b) shows a toddler reading the foldable structure 100 when it is in the form of a book.

FIG. 5 shows a block diagram showing some electronic components that may be used in embodiments of the invention. As shown in FIG. 5, the foldable structure may include a processor unit 12. The processor unit 12 can be coupled to the foldable body (e.g., it may be within the foldable body or outside of the foldable body). The processor unit 12 may include one or more microprocessors which may incorporate or be coupled to speech synthesizing circuitry. A suitable power source (not shown) may also be coupled to the processor unit 12. In some embodiments, batteries can be used as the power source. A three position switch for on, off, and volume may also be coupled to the processor unit 12.

A memory unit 20 may be coupled to the processor unit 12 and may store computer code for performing any of the functions and/or operating any of the modes of the foldable structure. The memory unit 20 may comprise any suitable combination of magnetic, optical, or electrical memory storage devices. For example, the memory unit 20 may comprise one or more memory chips. The memory unit 20 may also comprise any suitable combination of removable and/or non-removable computer readable media. Removable storage storage media include memory disks, sticks, or cartridges. Computer code for performing any of the functions or for any of the modes of the foldable structure (as described in this application) may be on the computer readable media.

Various output devices may be coupled to the processor unit 18. For example, a speech or sound synthesizer 18 and an audio output device 22 may be coupled to the processor unit 18 to produce sounds such as music or synthesized speech. The audio output device 22 may be a speaker. While any type of speaker may be used, the speaker may be 36 mm in diameter and may be a 16 ohm Mylar-type speaker in one embodiment.

A display 24 may optionally be coupled to the processor unit 18. The display 24 may comprise one or more LEDs (light emitting diodes), an LCD (liquid crystal display) or any other suitable type of display. The display 24 may illuminate after the child selects one or more actuators 16. Alternatively, the display 24 may show entertaining or educational images such as the moon, star, and/or sun.

As noted above, various actuators 16 may be coupled to the processor unit 12. The actuators 16 may be actuated by a child in response to a query or a question produced by the foldable structure. A child may also actuate the actuators 16 on his or her own to produce an output for the child. Examples of audio outputs include questions, music, and sound effects that relate to the images on the foldable structure. In some embodiments, the actuators 16 may be two-dimensional buttons that can be depressed by a child. The buttons may comprise pressure switches.

Alternatively or additionally, the actuators 16 may be three-dimensional actuators that can be grasped by a child. Such three-dimensional actuators may be pulled, pushed, or otherwise manipulated to cause the foldable structure to produce some type of response. For example, the mechanical actuators may activate a pop-out feature, provide tactile feedback, and/or provide audio or visual feedback. For example, pulling a three-dimensional depiction of an elephant's trunk may cause three-dimensional depictions of the elephant's ears to flap. In another example, a child may pull a three-dimensional depiction of a banana that is associated with a monkey, and the banana may vibrate as it retracts back to its original position. In yet another example, pulling down a three-dimensional depiction of a panda's arm may cause the panda bear to produce a playful roar or a playful yawn. A three-dimensional depiction of the panda's mouth may move in response to the pulling action.

One or more mode selection elements 14 can be coupled to the processor unit 12 to provide the foldable structure with the desired operating mode. In one embodiment, a multi-position mode switch can be located near the spine of the book and can be manipulated to put the foldable structure in the desired operating mode. In another embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1, an array of mode selection elements in the form of buttons can be provided and the appropriate button can be selected to put the foldable structure in the desired operating mode.

Although the various components in FIG. 5 are shown as being separate blocks, it is understood that the components may be embodied by any number of physical embodiments. For example, in some embodiments, the speech or sound synthesizer 18, the processor unit 12, and the memory unit 20 may be embodied by a single computer chip. For instance, an SPDS 105 chip commercially available from SunPlus, Inc. may be used.

FIGS. 6A and 6B show exemplary electrical schematic diagrams for an embodiment of the invention. FIG. 6A shows an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) that can be used in an embodiment of the invention, while FIG. 6B shows the various input switches and output devices that can be used in embodiments of the invention. It is understood that other electrical schematics could be used in other embodiments of the invention.

Embodiments of the invention provide for a number of advantages. For example, the foldable structure may be characterized as a “crib bumper book”. It can be a baby's first bumper book for the baby's crib, and the book can transform into a real book that can be carried elsewhere. Thus, unlike conventional infant toys, the foldable structure can be used anywhere and will “grow” with the child. The crib bumper book can also advantageously teach animal names and sounds, reading concepts, colors and musical sounds.

The terms and expressions which have been employed herein are used as terms of description and not of limitation, and there is no intention in the use of such terms and expressions of excluding equivalents of the features shown and described, or portions thereof, it being recognized that various modifications are possible within the scope of the invention claimed. Moreover, any one or more features of any embodiment of the invention may be combined with any one or more other features of any other embodiment of the invention, without departing from the scope of the invention.

Also, it should be understood that the present invention as described above can be implemented in the form of control logic using computer software in a modular or integrated manner. Based on the disclosure and teachings provided herein, a person of ordinary skill in the art will know and appreciate other ways and/or methods to implement the present invention using hardware and a combination of hardware and software.

All references, patent applications, and patents mentioned above are herein incorporated by reference in their entirety for all purposes. None of them are admitted to be prior art to the presently claimed inventions.