Title:
Comfort cushion or bed
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cushion or bed which relieves tension in the muscles. The cushion or bed includes a frame on which a support pad unit is mounted. The support pad unit includes a plurality of support pads. The support pads can be grouped into first and second support pads. The first support pads are movable in the vertical or z direction relative to the plane formed by the plurality of support pads and the second support pads are immovable. Massaging modules, such as percussion cylinders can be provided in the support pad to provide massaging motion.



Inventors:
Heng, Soon Teck (Bishan, SG)
Application Number:
11/207468
Publication Date:
02/23/2006
Filing Date:
08/19/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/690, 5/933
International Classes:
A47C17/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CONLEY, FREDRICK C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HORIZON IP PTE LTD (SINGAPORE 199591, SG)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cushion comprising: a frame; and a support pad unit mounted on the frame, the support pad unit comprises a plurality of support pads, wherein at least one of the support pads are movable in the vertical or z direction relative to the plane formed by the plurality of support pads.

2. The cushion of claim 1 wherein the plurality of support pads are separated into first and second support pads, the first support pads being movable in the vertical direction and the second support pads being immovable.

3. The cushion of claim 2 wherein the first support pads are commonly coupled.

4. The cushion of claim 3 further comprises an actuator for commonly moving the first group of support pads.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/522,131 (Attorney Docket No. YAALP2004-13) filed on Aug. 19, 2004, which is herein incorporated by reference for all purposes.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a cushion or a bed which includes dynamic support.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Conventional massaging beds or chairs employ rollers to replicate massaging motions. The rollers typically move along the vertical axis of the spine to apply pressure, thereby relieving tension in the muscles. Since rollers move in a fixed line, they may not conform to the body contour, thus insufficiently contacting the body to adequately relieve tension in the muscles. Additionally, the use of rollers does not provide adequate support for the spine.

From the foregoing discussion, it is desirable to provide an improved cushion which avoids the disadvantages of rollers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a cushion which relieves tension in the muscles. In one embodiment, the cushion includes a frame on which a support pad unit is mounted. The support pad unit comprises a plurality of support pads, wherein at least one of the support pads are movable in the vertical or z direction relative to the plane formed by the plurality of support pads.

In one embodiment, the support pads are separated into first and second groups of support pads. The first group of support pads is movable while the second group is immovable. The first group of support pads can be commonly coupled to move as a group.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1a-b show an embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 2a-b show the operation of one embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 3a-b show an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 shows another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5 shows a movable support pad in accordance with one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6 shows another embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 7-8 show yet another embodiment of the invention;

FIGS. 8a-b show an embodiment of a pad unit;

FIG. 9 shows an embodiment of a pad unit and actuator;

FIGS. 10a-b show various embodiments of support pads in accordance with the invention; and

FIGS. 11-13 show various embodiments of massaging subunits.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIGS. 1a-b show top and cross-sectional views of one embodiment of the invention. As shown, a cushion 101 includes a frame 120. The frame can be formed using, for example, steel. Other rigid materials, such as aluminum, can also be used. Mounted on the frame is a plurality of support pads 1301-x. Illustratively, five pads (x=5) are mounted on the frame. Providing other values of x is also useful.

A protective cushion layer 190 can be provided to surround the frame and support pads. The cushion layer is made of, for example, high density foam. Other types of materials, such as latex with cotton padding, can also be used to form the protective cushion layer. Preferably, the protective cushion has an upper surface which is coplanar with the support pads in their neutral position. In addition, a surface protective cushion layer can be provided on the surface of the support pads. The thickness of the surface protective cushion is, for example, about 1-2 cm. Other thicknesses can also be useful. A cushion cover 195 is then provided to cover the cushion layer.

The support pads support, for example, the human back. In one embodiment, the support pads comprise high density foam. The foam can include springs to provide additional support. Other materials or combination of materials, such as latex and cotton padding are also useful. It is further understood that different support pads can be formed from different materials.

An upper surface 136 of the support pads are co-planar when, for example, in the neutral position. At least some of the support pads are movable along or substantially along the z-direction (positive and/or negative) to produce a non-planar upper surface. The support pads can be made movable using floating joints. Other techniques to facilitate moving support pads are also useful.

Preferably, the support pads are grouped into first and second groups, wherein the support pads of the first group are movable while the support pads of the second group are immovable. In one embodiment, alternate support pads belong to alternate groups. Grouping the support pads in other number of groups is also useful.

Preferably, the plurality of support pads comprises an odd number of support pads (x=odd number). More preferably, the group with the support pads at the end is the group with the movable support pads. For example, first, third and fifth support pads belong to the first movable group while the second and fourth support pads belong to the second non-movable group. In one embodiment, the support pads or the first group are linked, moving the same amount above and or below the neutral position. Providing supports pads which only move above or below the neutral position is also useful. Other configurations of groupings are also useful. Typically, the support pads can be moved a distance of about 2-8 inches. Other distances are also useful, depending on design or application requirements.

In operation, the first group of pads can be controlled to move either above or below the neutral position 136 of the support pads. This results in a non-planar surface, as shown in FIGS. 2a-b. By providing a non-planar surface, the support pads only contact parts of the body while providing support. For example, if the support pads are moved above the neutral position, the majority of the support comes from the first support pads. After a desired period of time, the first support pads can alternate their position, such as moving below the neutral position. When this occurs, different parts of the body are being supported by the second support pads. Alternating pressure on different parts of the body can stimulate circulation as well as reduce body aches.

In another embodiment, massaging modules are provided in at least the first support pads. The massaging module provides massaging motions, such as pounding, rotating, and/or kneading. In one embodiment, the massaging module comprises a percussion cylinder. Each of the first group support pads can include one or more percussion cylinders as desired. Providing percussion cylinders in both first and second support pads is also useful. A percussion cylinder comprises a top portion which changes or alternates pressure on the body portion with which it is in contact. Providing percussion cylinder which provides additional or other types of massaging motion is also useful. In one embodiment, the top portion oscillates in the z direction, providing a pounding massaging function. To facilitate oscillation in the z direction, a solenoid can be used. Other techniques for oscillating the top portion of the percussion cylinder in the z direction are also useful. A vibrating motor can be mounted to the frame to vibrate the cushion to provide vibrating function for the cushion.

In an alternative embodiment, the first and second groups are movable. The support pads of the first and second groups are respectively linked. In such case, the support pads preferably move in either the positive or negative z direction with respect to the neutral position. Providing support pads which move in both negative and positive z direction is also useful. Increased flexibility is achieved by having first and second movable support pad groups.

In yet another embodiment, all the support pads are movable and the movement of each is decoupled from other support pads. Providing decoupled movable support pads allows the pads to be positioned to the desired surface contour, as shown in FIG. 3a. Additionally, the alternate support pads can be assigned to alternate groups. This allows the one or the other group to be raised above or lower below the desired contour line, as shown in FIG. 3b. As previously described, the support pads can be implemented with massaging modules (e.g., percussion cylinder) and/or vibration motor. The support pads can be adjusted to the desired contour line manually or automatically. Automatic adjustment can be facilitated by the use of, for example, pressure sensors. The pressure sensors can be set to detect the desired pressure to determine the desired position.

In one embodiment, sensors are provided to determine if the support pads have reached the first or second positions. Various types of sensors are useful, such as electrical, electromechanical and/or mechanical. Additionally, sensors such as photo-sensors are located along the bed frame to ensure that the movable support pads return to the normal (e.g., neutral) position when power is off. Other techniques for determining pad positions are also useful.

FIG. 4 shows another embodiment of the invention. As shown, a cushion 401 includes a plurality of percussion cylinders 460. The percussion cylinders are supported by, for example a frame 420. Other techniques for providing support for the percussion cylinders are also useful. In one embodiment, the percussion cylinders are arranged in a matrix format. Other configurations are also useful.

A cushion layer 490 is provided to surround and/or cover the frame and percussion cylinders. The cushion layer is made of, for example, high density foam. Other types of materials, such as latex, can also be used to form the protective cushion layer. A cushion cover 495 is then provided to cover the cushion layer.

As discussed, a massaging module (e.g, percussion cylinder) comprises a top portion which changes or alternates pressure on the body portion with which it is in contact. In one embodiment, the top portion oscillates in the z direction, providing a pounding massaging function. Providing other types of massaging motion (e.g., kneading or circular) is also useful. To facilitate oscillation in the z direction, a solenoid can be used. Other techniques for oscillating the top portion of the percussion cylinder in the z direction are also useful. A vibrating motor can be mounted to the frame to vibrate the cushion to provide vibrating function for the cushion.

The cushion, as described, can be used, for example, to sit on, rest your back or any other part of the body as desired. For example, the pad can be placed on different parts or the chair as desired. Furthermore, lager cushions can be used, for example, to cover a chair or bed. For such applications, the frame can be separated into two parts, one for the base and the other for the back. Other cushion configurations are also useful.

FIG. 5 shows a movable support pad 530 in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. As shown, the movable support pad includes a pad 531. The pad comprises, in one embodiment, high density foam. Other materials or combination of materials can also be used. For example, the pad can include support springs and/or massaging modules (e.g., percussion cylinders) encased by foam.

The pad is mounted on a pad support frame 532. The support frame can be formed from metal. Other materials which can sufficiently provide support for the pad are also useful. In one embodiment, the support frame comprises a pad support portion 533 on which the pad is mounted and a vertical support portion 534 on each side. The vertical support portion includes at least one roller 538. As shown, two rollers are provided. Providing other number of rollers is also useful. The rollers are mounted on rails fixed to the frame of the cushion, allowing the pads to move along the direction of the rails. In another embodiment, the rollers can be provided with teeth which are matched with teeth formed on the rails. Other techniques for providing movable support pads are also useful.

In one embodiment, an actuator is provided to move the movable support pads. The actuator, for example, comprises an electric motor for moving the movable support pads. Other types of actuators, such as electrical, electromechanical or mechanical actuators are also useful. Such types of actuators, for example, include pumps (e.g., electrical, hydraulic, or pneumatic). For applications where the support pads can be independently movable, an actuator is provided for each support pad.

A controller coupled to the actuator is provided to control the movement of the pads. The movement can be controlled by the user using the controller. Timing of the movements and length or duration of the massaging module is activated can also be controlled by the controller. The movements and timing can also be programmed using various modes, as defined by the controller and/or programmed by the user.

FIGS. 6-7 show another embodiment of the invention. Referring to FIGS. 6-7, a bed 601 includes at least one support pad unit 635 located on an upper portion thereof. The bed can be of any size, such as king, queen, or twin. Other dimensions are also useful. Preferably, one support pad unit is provided for each person that the bed can accommodate. A lower portion of the bed includes a base 625 that includes a frame 628 for supporting the support pad unit. The frame, for example, can be formed from metal rods or tubing. Other types of materials which can adequately provide structural support is also useful. A cover, such as fabric or other suitable materials can be provided to hide the frame.

Surrounding the support pad unit in the upper portion of the bed is a protective cushion 690. The protective cushion can also cover the surface of the support pad unit. The protective cushion can be formed from, for example, high density foam. In one embodiment, the protective cushion is mounted to the frame. Various techniques, such as using Velcro straps, are useful to mount the protective cushion to the frame. The inner surface of the protective cushion can be provided with a liner 693. The liner, for example, serves as a protective barrier between the protective cushion and the support pad unit. In one embodiment, the liner comprises a latex base material. Other types of materials can also be used to form the liner. The bed can be advantageously made to look like a conventional bed.

The support pad unit comprises a plurality of support pads 6301-x. The support pads serve to support, for example, the human body. In one embodiment, the support pads comprise high density foam. The foam can include springs to provide additional support. Other materials or combination of materials are also useful. It is further understood that different support pads can be formed from different materials.

In one embodiment, a support pad includes one or more massaging modules 638. A massaging module provides a massaging motion, such as pounding, kneading and/or circular. Other types of massaging motion are also useful. As shown, a support pad includes two massaging modules spaced apart. Preferably, the massaging modules are located so that they contact the body on each side of the spine. Providing other number of massaging modules or configuration is also useful. It is also understood that not all support pads includes massaging modules or the same number of massaging subunits.

In one embodiment, at least one of the support pads is adjustable in the vertical or z direction. The support pads can be moved and/or positioned in a manner as already described earlier in the specification with respect to FIGS. 1-3. For example, the movable support pads can be moved individually or commonly as one or more groups. In another embodiment, alternate pads are movable while the others remain in a fixed position. As will be appreciated, x may vary according to the width of the pads and length of the bed and x can either be an odd or even number. Typically, the width of the pads is about 2-5 inches. Preferably, the width should sufficient to provide support without causing discomfort as a result of the pads being moved. Other widths are also useful. It is understood that not all pads need to have the same width.

In another embodiment, to accommodate additional number of people on the bed, additional support pad units can be provided. For example, y number of support units can be provided to support y number of people on the bed. As such, the dimensions of a support pad unit should be sufficient to accommodate one person. Providing a support, pad unit having other dimensions is also useful.

FIGS. 8a-b show a support pad unit 635 in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. Referring to FIGS. 8a-b, the support pad unit comprises a plurality of support pads 6301-630x. Illustratively, the support pad unit comprises 15 support pads (x=15). Providing a support pad having a different number of support pads (even or odd) is also useful. The support pads are mounted onto a support pad frame 822. The support pad frame can be integrated as part of the bed frame. Providing a support pad frame separate from the bed frame is also useful.

In one embodiment, the odd numbered support pads are immovable while the even numbered support pads are movable in the z direction. The support pads can be made movable using floating joints, rails, and/or tracks. Other techniques to facilitate moving support pads are also useful. In one embodiment, the odd numbered support pads are commonly linked, moving as a unit. Alternative configurations of movable and immovable pads are also useful. Upper surfaces 836 of the support pads are planar when, for example, in the neutral position.

In operation, the first group of pads can be controlled to move either above (FIG. 8a) or below (FIG. 8b) the neutral position of the support pads. This results in a non-planar surface, as shown in FIGS. 2a-b. By providing a non-planar surface, the support pads only contact parts of the body while providing support. For example, if the support pads are moved above the neutral position, the majority of the support comes from the first support pads. After a desired period of time, the first support pads can alternate their position, such as moving below the neutral position. When this occurs, different parts of the body are being supported by the second support pads. Alternating pressure on different parts of the body can stimulate circulation as well as reduce body aches.

In one embodiment, sensors are provided to determine if the support pads have reached the first or second positions. Various types of sensors are useful, such as electrical, electromechanical and/or mechanical. Additionally, sensors such as photo-sensors are located along the bed frame to ensure that the movable support pads return to the normal (e.g., neutral) position when power is off. Other techniques for determining pad positions are also useful.

In another embodiment, the at least some of the support pads are movable. The support pads can be grouped into movable and immovable groups. For example, alternate pads are movable while the others are immovable. Providing support unit with all support pads being movable is also useful. The movable pads can be moved as a unit or individually. Grouping movable support pads in different commonly controlled groups is also useful. Alternatively, the position of the movable support pads can be individually controlled, for example, as described in FIGS. 3a-b.

FIG. 9 shows a support pad unit and actuator in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. As shown, the support pad unit 635 includes a movable support pad frame 822 on which the movable support pads are mounted. The support frame commonly moves the movable support pads. In one embodiment, the support frame comprises metal bars. Other material and/or frame design is also useful.

An actuator 936 is coupled to the support frame. The actuator is mounted onto the bed frame 820. The actuator controls the movement of the support frame, determining the position of the movable support pads. In one embodiment, the actuator comprises an electric motor. Various types of electric motors, such as stepper, servo, or synchronous motor can be used. For example, the motor comprises a ball screw type hybrid stepper motor having a dynamic capacity 3600N, travel rate 800 mm/sec, maximum motor rating 0.5 HP, and 1.8 degrees. The motor can include a brake for load holding. Other types of actuators are also useful.

A floating joint, in one embodiment, couples the actuator to the support pad frame. Other techniques for coupling the actuator can also be used. To provide balance and prevent side loading of the support pad frame, a support shaft, such as a bearing shaft, is provided. The diameter of the bearing shaft, for example, is about 30 mm with a basic dynamic load capacity of about 166 kgf. Other types of supports can also be used to provide balance and prevent side loading.

FIGS. 10a-b show support pads in accordance with various embodiments of the invention. Referring to FIG. 10a, a support pad 630 includes at least one pocket spring module 1036 mounted on a support member 1041. The support member comprises, for example, metal or aluminum. Other materials that can provide adequate support are also useful. As shown, the support pad comprises three pocket spring modules. Providing a support pad with other number of pocket spring modules is also useful. The number of pocket spring modules depends on, for example, the length of the support pad and size of the pocket spring modules.

In one embodiment, a pocket spring module includes at least one coil spring 1082. For example, pocket spring module 1036a comprises three-coil springs while pocket spring module 1036b comprises two-coil springs. Forming pocket spring modules with other number of coil springs is also useful. Illustratively, the support pad comprises two pocket spring modules with three coil springs and one with two coil springs. It is understood that the support pad can be formed with various combinations of pocket spring modules

Various types of coil springs can be used. In one embodiment, the coil spring comprises a 6-10 cm coil spring. The pocket spring module includes a cover, such as cloth or other types covering material, to encase the coil spring or springs. Preferably, a liner is provided, such as foam, to provide padding for comfort. The liner can also include a lubricating layer or material to reduce friction. The lubricating layer or material, for example, comprises wax. Other lubricating materials can also be used. It is understood that the liner can be integrated as part of or separate from the cover.

A spacer 1052 is provided between the pocket spring module and support member. Preferably, the spacer is provided within the pocket spring module on which the coil spring is mounted. The coil springs are fixed to the spacer. Fasteners (e.g., screws, bolts or nuts) are used to mount the pocket spring module onto the support member.

Referring to FIG. 10b, a support pad includes pocket spring modules 1036 and massaging modules 1038. As shown, the support pad includes two pocket spring modules 1036b having two coil springs and one pocket spring module 1036c with one coil spring. Two massaging modules are disposed on either side of the pocket spring module with one coil springs. Other configurations or combination of pocket spring modules and massaging modules are also useful. The massaging module provides massaging motion, such as kneading, pounding or circular. Other types of massaging motion are also useful.

In one embodiment, the support pads with the massaging modules are used are configured as movable support pads while the ones without are configured as immovable support pads in the support pad unit. Other configurations of the support pad unit are also useful. Preferably but not necessarily, the immovable support pads are provided with larger coil springs (e.g., 10 cm) to improve support while the movable support pads are provided with smaller coil springs. The reason is that the smaller and lighter coil springs facilitate better motion of the support pads while the heavier coil springs improve support. The use of pocket spring and massaging modules advantageously enable replacement of the modules for easy maintenance and changing of configurations.

FIG. 11 shows a massaging unit 1038 in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. As shown, the massaging unit comprises a percussion cylinder 1039 which provides a pounding motion. The massaging unit is mounted onto the support member 1041 by a nut 1193. In one embodiment, the percussion cylinder comprises a body having upper and lower portions 1193-1194 encasing a coil spring 1174. Although the cylinder body is circular in shape, other geometric shapes are also useful. The body portions can be formed of aluminum. Other types of materials, such as metal, can also be useful. In one embodiment, the coil spring comprises an 8 cm coil spring.

At least one grove 1177 is provided along the side of one of the body portions. A pin on the other body portion allows the upper portion to move up or down relative to the lower portion. The groove determines the upper and lower limits of movement by the upper portion. As shown, the groove is located on the lower portion while the pin is located on the upper portion. Other configurations or techniques to enable the upper portion to slide up and down relative to the lower portion are also useful.

A top 1146 is mounted on the top surface of the upper body portion of the cylinder. The top comprises, in one embodiment, a hardened rubberized oval/egg shape material. Preferably, the top is padded with latex or other soft material to cushion the body. In one embodiment, an actuator 1178 is provided at the bottom of the cylinder to cause the upper portion to oscillate up and down. In one embodiment, the actuator comprises a solenoid. Other types of actuators are also useful. The solenoid can either be a pull or a push type of DC continuous solenoid. The solenoid includes a coupling member. Depending on the type of solenoid used, the coupling member pushes the top up or allows the top to retract. In one embodiment, the solenoid comprises the following specification: DC, continuous (100%) duty cycle, power=30 watts, force at 25.4 mm stroke: 2070 grams and force at 38.1 mm stroke: 737 grams. Other types of solenoids are also useful.

The height of the actuator and/or coupling member can be adjusted to calibrate to ensure contact to the body or pounding pressure. In one embodiment, the actuator includes a threaded body to facilitate height adjustment. Other techniques for height adjustment or providing a pounding motion by the massaging unit are also useful.

Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 12, the actuator 1178 is mounted on a top surface of the upper portion. In the case where the upper portion does not have a top surface, the actuator can be mounted on a bottom surface of the top 1146. In one embodiment, the top is mated to the upper portion by threads 1248. The use of the treads can also serve to adjust the height of the actuator for height adjustment. A coupling member of the actuator either pushes the upper portion of the massaging unit up or down, providing a pounding motion. A spring (not shown) can be provided in the cylinder.

FIG. 13 shows another embodiment of a massaging module 1338. The massaging unit provides a circular motion. The massaging unit comprises a body portion 1332 having a support surface 1332. At least one sphere is disposed on the support surface. As shown, the support surface includes two spheres. Providing other number of spheres on the support surface is also useful. A plate 1343 is located on the surface member. Preferably, the plate is designed to separate the spheres. The plate is coupled to an actuator for rotating it, moving the spheres in a circular motion (clockwise and/or counterclockwise). In one embodiment, the actuator comprises an electric motor. Other types of actuators are also useful.

In one embodiment, the support surface is located slightly below the top of the body portion 1249. The support surface should be located such that a portion of the spheres is exposed. Preferably at least half of the spheres are exposed. Locating the support surface on the top of the body portion is also useful.

A cover 1146 is attached to the body portion, encasing the spheres. In one embodiment, the cover is mated to the body portion. Preferably, the mating is achieved using threads. Other techniques for mounting the cover to the body portion are also useful. At least the upper portion of the cover comprises a soft material, such as fabric, allowing the body to feel the circular motion created by the rotating spheres. Other soft materials are also useful. The cover may also include a padding or liner to cushion the body for comfort.

In an alternative embodiment, an actuator for causing oscillation up and down can be included to enable the massaging unit to provide both circular and pounding motions. The body portion, for example, can include upper and lower portions as described in FIGS. 11-12. A vibrating motor can be mounted to the frame to vibrate the support pads, providing a vibrate function.

A controller coupled to the actuator or actuators is provided to control the movement of the pads. The movement can be controlled by the user using the controller. Timing of the movements and length or duration of the massaging module is activated can also be controlled by the controller. The movements and timing can also be programmed using various modes, as defined by the controller and/or programmed by the user. For beds with more than one support pad unit, additional controllers can be provided. Alternatively, one controller can be used to program or control the support pad units individually.

While the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to various embodiments, it will be recognized by those skilled in the art that modifications and changes may be made to the present invention without departing from the spirit and scope thereof. The scope of the invention should therefore be determined not with reference to the above description but with reference to the appended claims along with their full scope of equivalents.