Title:
Knock down foam bed
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A mattress system that can be readily broken down into components sized for shipment by common carrier. The system may include a top layer, bottom and sides, for capturing foam blocks in the body of the mattress. The top layer may be a foam and silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC laminate, or it may be wholly foam, wholly silicone rubber, wholly viscoelastic PVC, or fabric enclosed foam particulates. If desired magnets may be glued or otherwise affixed to the top layer. Various components of the system may be made fire retardant.



Inventors:
Boyd, Dennis Michael (Chesterfield, MO, US)
Application Number:
10/935567
Publication Date:
03/09/2006
Filing Date:
09/07/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/698, 5/740
International Classes:
A47C27/15
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LIU, JONATHAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HUSCH BLACKWELL LLP (ST. LOUIS, MO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A mattress system comprising: a pair of foam side members to form the side of a cavity; a head foam member and a foot foam member to form the head and foot of said cavity; a bottom of said cavity connected to said side members and said head and foot members; a set of at least two separable foam blocks sized so that the set of foam blocks fits within and substantially fills said cavity; a relatively flat layer dimensioned to cover the top of said cavity and to be disposed at least partially over said side members, said head member and said foot member; and a fastening system directly connected to the flat layer, the head foam member, the foot foam member and the side foam members to prevent relative movement of the flat layer with respect to the side members, the head member and the foot member.

2. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the bottom of the cavity is formed of foldable sheets.

3. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the set of foam blocks includes at least separable three foam blocks, at least one of said foam blocks of the set having a load responsive characteristic value different from the load responsive characteristic value of one of the other foam blocks of the set.

4. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the flat layer is dimensioned to substantially cover the tops of the side members and the tops of the head member and the foot member when fastened thereto.

5. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the fastening system is hidden from view when the flat layer is fastened to the head member, the foot member, and the side members.

6. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the flat layer is latex foam.

7. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the flat layer is memory foam.

8. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the foam blocks are all substantially the same size.

9. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the flat layer is sculpted.

10. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the flat layer is unsculpted.

11. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the flat layer is dimensioned to capture the foam blocks in the cavity when fastened to the side members, the head member and the foot member.

12. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 further including a mattress cover with an opening sized to accept said members, said blocks, and said flat layer in assembled form, said mattress cover further including an openable top for covering said opening.

13. The mattress system as set forth in claim 12 wherein the mattress cover is quilted.

14. The mattress system as set forth in claim 12 wherein the mattress cover is unquilted.

15. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein all the components of the system are fire retardant.

16. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein at least some of the components of the system are fire retardant.

17. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the flat layer is a single sheet of silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC material.

18. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the flat layer is composed of multiple sections of silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC material.

19. The mattress system as set forth in claim 18 wherein at least two of the multiple sections have different durometers.

20. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the flat layer is composed of a foam and silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC laminate.

21. The mattress system as set form in claim 20 wherein the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC forms the top of the flat layer.

22. The mattress system as set forth in claim 21 wherein the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC is formed in sections having at least two different durometers.

23. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 further including magnets affixed to the flat layer.

24. The mattress system as set forth in claim 23 wherein the magnets are bipolar.

25. The mattress system as set forth in claim 23 wherein the magnets are unipolar.

26. The mattress system as set forth in claim 1 wherein the flat layer is composed of foam particulates enclosed in a fabric covering.

27. The mattress system as set forth in claim 26 wherein the fabric covering is elastic.

28. The mattress system as set forth in claim 26 wherein the fabric covering has a plurality of separate enclosures, at least some of which enclosures contain foam particulates.

29. A mattress system comprising: separable foam members defining a cavity; a bottom of said cavity; at least two separable foam blocks sized to fit within and substantially fill the cavity; a separable relatively flat layer dimensioned to cover the cavity; said members, bottom, foam blocks and flat layer being compressible so that they fit in one or more boxes each having a shipping dimension, obtained by adding the length and the girth of said box, of no more than 130 inches.

30. The mattress system as set forth in claim 29 wherein the bottom of the cavity is formed of foldable sheets, said bottom being secured to the members.

31. The mattress system as set forth in claim 29 wherein the set of foam blocks includes at least separable three foam blocks, at least one of said foam blocks of the set having a load responsive characteristic value different from the load responsive characteristic value of one of the other foam blocks of the set.

32. The mattress system as set forth in claim 29 wherein the flat layer is dimensioned to substantially cover the tops of the members in addition to covering the cavity.

33. The mattress system as set forth in claim 29 further including a fastening system adapted to fasten the flat layer to the members defining the cavity.

34. The mattress system as set forth in claim 33 wherein the fastening system is hidden from view when the flat layer is fastened to the members.

35. The mattress system as set forth in claim 33 wherein the fastening system is a hook and pile fastening system.

36. The mattress system as set forth in claim 29 wherein the flat layer is latex foam.

37. The mattress system as set forth in claim 29 wherein the flat layer is memory foam.

38. The mattress system as set forth in claim 29 wherein the flat layer is dimensioned to capture the foam blocks in the cavity when fastened to the members.

39. The mattress system as set forth in claim 29 further including a mattress cover with an opening sized to accept said members, said blocks, and said flat layer in assembled form, said mattress cover further including an openable top for covering said opening.

40. The mattress system as set forth in claim 29 wherein all the components of the system are fire retardant.

41. The mattress system as set forth in claim 29 wherein at least some of the components of the system are fire retardant.

42. A mattress system comprising: a pair of foam side members connected by a first foldable sheet, said first foldable sheet being disposed substantially at the bottom of said foam side members; a head foam member and a foot foam member connected by a second foldable sheet, said second foldable sheet being disposed substantially at the bottom of said head foam member and at the bottom of said foot foam member, said side members, head member and foot member being disposable with said first and second foldable sheets adjacent each other to form a cavity whose bottom is defined by the foldable sheets and whose sides are defined by the side, head and foot members; a set of at least two separable foam blocks sized so that the set fits within said cavity; a relatively flat layer dimensioned to cover the top of said cavity; and a fastening system directly connected to the flat layer, the head foam member, the foot foam member and the side foam members to fasten the flat layer to the side members and to the head and foot members so that the separable foam blocks are captured in the cavity.

43. The mattress system as set forth in claim 42 wherein the fastening system prevents movement of the flat layer with respect to the members.

44. The mattress system as set forth in claim 42 wherein the set of foam blocks includes at least separable three foam blocks, at least one of said foam blocks of the set having a load responsive characteristic value different from the load responsive characteristic value of one of the other foam blocks of the set.

45. The mattress system as set forth in claim 42 wherein the flat layer is dimensioned to substantially cover the tops of the side members and the tops of the head member and the foot member when fastened thereto.

46. The mattress system as set forth in claim 42 wherein the fastening system is hidden from view when the flat layer is fastened to the head member, the foot member, and the side members.

47. The mattress system as set forth in claim 46 wherein the fastening system is a hook and pile fastening system.

48. The mattress system as set forth in claim 42 wherein the foam blocks are all substantially the same size.

49. The mattress system as set forth in claim 42 wherein the flat layer is sculpted.

50. The mattress system as set forth in claim 42 wherein the flat layer is unsculpted.

51. The mattress system as set forth in claim 42 further including a mattress cover with an opening sized to accept said members, said blocks, and said flat layer in assembled form, said mattress cover further including an openable top for covering said opening.

52. The mattress system as set forth in claim 42 wherein all the components of the system are fire retardant.

53. The mattress system as set forth in claim 42 wherein at least some of the components of the system are fire retardant.

54. A mattress component for a mattress for a human user comprising: a layer of foam having a top and a bottom; a layer of silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC secured to the top of the foam layer; said foam layer and said silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer being sized to receive at least a portion of a human body, and having in combination a resilience and a resistance to deformation selected to support a human body in comfort.

55. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 wherein the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer is generally from ¼″ to 6″ thick.

56. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 wherein the foam layer constitutes a first layer of foam, further including a second layer of foam secured to the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer opposite the first layer of foam.

57. The mattress component as set forth in claim 56 wherein the second foam layer is at least approximately ¼″ thick and the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer is generally from ¼″ to 6″ thick.

58. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 wherein the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer has a Shore 00 durometer of no greater than 75.

59. The mattress component as set forth in claim 58 wherein the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer has a Shore 00 durometer of no greater than 50.

60. The mattress component as set forth in claim 59 wherein the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer has a Shore 00 durometer of no greater than 40.

61. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 wherein the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer has a rebound percentage of less than 50.

62. The mattress component as set forth in claim 61 wherein the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer has a rebound percentage of less than 20.

63. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 wherein the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer includes embedded bubbles.

64. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 wherein the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer constitutes two separate layers.

65. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 wherein the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer is solid.

66. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 wherein the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer is porous.

67. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 wherein foam layer and the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer both extend horizontally substantially the entire extent of the mattress.

68. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 wherein at least the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer is disposed only in a lumbar section of the mattress.

69. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 wherein the foam layer is viscoelastic foam, said silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer being laminated to the viscoelastic foam.

70. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 wherein the foam layer is polyurethane foam, said silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer being laminated to the polyurethane foam.

71. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 wherein the foam layer is latex foam, said silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer being laminated to the latex foam.

72. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 wherein silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer is laminated to the foam layer.

73. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 further including a heating device.

74. The mattress component as set forth in claim 54 which is fire retardant.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

None.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

APPENDIX

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to mattress systems for human users and, more particularly, to mattress systems and components providing improved convenience, shipability, and comfort.

2. Related Art

Various patents are known that disclose improved mattresses. Among these are the following U.S. patents of the present inventor: 6,709,246; 6,662,393; 6,256,821; 6,253,401; 5,960,496; 5,740,573; 5,617,596; 5,594,964; 5,490,295; 5,479,663; 5,226,186; 5,222,262; 5,115,526; 5,107,557; 5,077,847; 5,072,469; 4,934,006; 4,914,761; 4,658,453. Many of these patents are directed to improved waterbed and air mattress systems, which provide superior comfort and convenience. Others, such as U.S. Pat. No. 6,662,393 for example, are directed to foam mattress systems. The '393 patent, by way of example, includes a composite mattress made of both high resilience foam and low resilience foam which provides desirable use characteristics at a reasonable cost. Systems such as that shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,256,821 are made of separable components that make the mattress system more easily shippable by common carrier. But all these systems could be improved.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Among the several objects and features of the present invention may be noted the provision of an improved mattress system and mattress components with improved comfort.

Another object is the provision of such a system and components that is relatively economical.

A third object is the provision of such a system and components that may be shipped by conventional common carriers such as UPS.

A fourth object is the provision of such a system and components that have the advantages of foam mattresses with improved characteristics.

Various aspects of the invention may include one or more of the above objects and features. Other objects and features may be noted in the detailed description of the invention below.

In a first aspect of the present invention, a mattress system includes a pair of foam side members to form the side of a cavity, a head foam member and a foot foam member to form the head and foot of the cavity, a bottom of the cavity connected to the side members and the head and foot members, a set of at least two separable foam blocks sized so that the set of foam blocks fits within and substantially fills the cavity, a relatively flat foam layer dimensioned to cover the top of said cavity and to be disposed at least partially over the side members, the head member and the foot member, and a fastening system directly connected to the foam layer, the head foam member, the foot foam member and the side foam members to prevent relative movement of the foam layer with respect to the side members, the head member and the foot member.

In a second aspect of the present invention, a mattress system includes a separable foam members defining a cavity, a bottom of the cavity, at least two separable foam blocks sized to fit within and substantially fill the cavity, and a separable relatively flat foam layer dimensioned to cover the cavity. The members, bottom, foam blocks and foam layer are compressible so that they fit in one or more boxes each having a shipping dimension, obtained by adding the length and the girth of said box, of no more than 130 inches.

In a third aspect of the present invention, a mattress system includes a pair of foam side members connected by a first foldable sheet, said first foldable sheet being disposed substantially at the bottom of the foam side members, a head foam member and a foot foam member connected by a second foldable sheet, the second foldable sheet being disposed substantially at the bottom of the head foam member and at the bottom of the foot foam member, the side members, head member and foot member being disposable with said first and second foldable sheets adjacent each other to form a cavity whose bottom is defined by the foldable sheets and whose sides are defined by the side, head and foot members, a set of at least two separable foam blocks sized so that the set fits within said cavity, a relatively flat foam layer dimensioned to cover the top of said cavity, and a fastening system directly connected to the foam layer, the head foam member, the foot foam member and the side foam members to fasten the foam layer to the side members and to the head and foot members so that the separable foam blocks are captured in the cavity.

In a fourth aspect of the present invention a mattress component for a mattress for a human user includes a layer of foam having a top and a bottom, and a layer of silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC secured to the top of the foam layer. The foam layer and the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC layer are sized to receive at least a portion of a human body, and having in combination a resilience and a resistance to deformation selected to support a human body in comfort.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and form a part of the specification, illustrate the embodiments of the present invention and together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is an exploded view illustrating a first embodiment of the mattress system of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view illustrating a second embodiment of the mattress system of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of a mattress component of the present invention; and

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of an alternative embodiment of the mattress component of the present invention.

Similar reference characters indicate similar parts throughout the several views of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to the accompanying drawings in which like reference numbers indicate like elements, a mattress system 11 of the present invention is shown that includes a pair of foam side members 13, 15 that form the side of a cavity 17. A shown in FIG. 1, side members 13, 15 are preferably secured to and jointed together by a thin, flexible, foldable sheet 19 made of a suitable material such as vinyl. Alternatively, sheet 19 could have some considerable thickness, so long as that thickness does not interfere with the ability to pack side members 13, 15 and attached sheet 19 together in a single box suitable for shipping by a conventional common carrier such as UPS.

System 11 also includes a head foam member 21 and a foot foam member 23 to form the head and foot of the cavity 17. Head and foot members are likewise connected by a sheet 25 of thin, flexible, foldable material. Sheet 25, like sheet 19, may have some thickness so long as it does not interfere with the packaging of head and foot members 21, 23 and sheet 25 for shipping by conventional common carriers like UPS. Although head and foot members 21, 23 are shown below side members 13, 15 in FIG. 1, it should be understood that they could be disposed above the side members if desired with no change in the present invention. No matter which elements are on top, the flexible sheets 19, 25 form a bottom of cavity 17.

A set of separable foam blocks 31-36 are sized so that the set of foam blocks fits within and substantially fills cavity 17. The number of foam blocks and their sizes are not particularly significant, but it is desired that the individual blocks be sized so that they can be packaged so as to be shipped by a conventional common carrier such as UPS. Blocks of uniform size are preferred but not necessary. Blocks 31-36 may, if desired, have different load responsive characteristics, such as different firmnesses. For example, blocks 31, 32, 35, and 36 may be composed of a plush, relatively soft foam for supporting the head and feet regions of the human user, while blocks 33 and 34 may be composed of a firmer foam, for supporting the lumbar region.

A relatively flat layer 37 is dimensioned to cover the top of cavity 17 and to be disposed at least partially over side members 13, 15 and head and foot members 21, 23. As will be seen, layer 37 serves to capture the foam blocks in the cavity. It is preferred that layer 37 substantially entirely cover cavity 17 and the tops of the side members and the head and foot members. The layer 37 can be latex foam or memory foam, or a suitable composite such as the foam/silicone rubber (or viscoelastic PVC) composite described below. Alternatively, layer 37 can be formed from one or more sections or sheets of silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC material. If desired, when silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC are used (whether or not in combination with foam), various sections of the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC may differ in durometer so as to provide different support and “feel” in the different parts of the mattress. For example, a lumbar support area can be provided by using three sections of silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC with two different durometers—the lower durometer sections being at the head and feet and the higher durometer section being disposed in the lumbar section of the mattress. Although variation in the durometer of the silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC have been described above as occurring from top to bottom of the bed, it should be understood that such variations could also occur from side to side if desired to give the two sides of the mattress different characteristics.

If desired, unipolar or bipolar magnets could affixed in a regular or intermittent pattern on layer 37, as indicated by the optional magnets 38 shown in dashed lines in FIG. 1. In addition, although layer 37 has been described above as a single unitary layer, that unitary layer may be replaced by a layer of fabric-enclosed foam particulates. Preferably the fabric in that case is elastic. If desired, the fabric may form several enclosed sections to prevent shifting of the foam particulates. Six or more enclosed sections is preferred.

A fastening system 39 is directly connected to layer 37, the head foam member 21, the foot foam member 23, and the side foam members 13, 15 to prevent relative movement of the foam layer 37 with respect to the side members 13, 15, the head member 21 and the foot member 23. Although any suitable fastening system may be used, it is preferred that fastening system 39 be composed of a hook-and-pile fastener including a first hook-and-pile fastener strip along the underside perimeter of layer 37 and mating hook-and-pile fastener strips 43, 45, 47, 49 along the top sides of the side members and the head and foot members. Note that placing fasteners in these locations results in a fastening system that is hidden from view when the foam layer is fastened to the head member, the foot member, and the side members.

As can be seen from FIG. 1, layer 37 is unsculpted foam (or silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC). However, (see FIG. 2), this layer (labeled 37A in FIG. 2) can alternatively be sculpted in any desired manner, including uniform sculpting and non-uniform sculpting. Non-uniform sculpting (as shown in FIG. 2) provides a density differential. For example, ⅛″ wide by ½″ deep grooves in the lumbar region 51 of layer 37A provides a higher density than 1½″ deep grooves spaced at ¾″ intervals in the head and foot layers 53, 55.

The combination of side members 13, 15, head and foot members 21, 23, bottoms 19, 25, blocks 31-36, and top layer 37 form a mattress which is usable in the conventional manner. All the components can be easily packaged in containers suitable for shipment by conventional commercial carriers such as UPS. That is, it is preferred that said members, bottom, foam blocks and foam layer be compressible so that they fit in one or more boxes each having a shipping dimension, obtained by adding the length and the girth of said box, of no more than 130 inches.

If desired, the mattress system may further include other items such as a mattress cover 61 with an opening 63 sized to accept these members, the blocks, and layer 37 in assembled form. Mattress cover 61 further includes an openable top 65 for covering opening 63. The mattress cover may be quilted or unquilted, as desired. The various components may be used, if desired, with a foundation 67 suspended on a frame 69. It is preferred that the various components of the mattress system 11 be fire retardant.

As mentioned above, top layer 37 may be composed of a foam/silicone rubber laminate mattress component 71, as shown more clearly in FIG. 3. (Alternatively, a viscoelastic PVC may be used in place of the silicone rubber.) Mattress component 71 is, not, however, limited to use in the mattress system 11 of the present invention. It may also be used in combination with a waterbed, a futon, or an innerspring mattress, among other possibilities.

Turning now to FIG. 3, mattress component 71 includes a foam layer 73 having a top and a bottom. The foam may be any desired foam, such as latex foam, a viscoelastic foam, a polyurethane foam, or other type of foam. Laminated or otherwise secured to foam layer 73 is a layer 75 of silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC. The foam layer 73 and the silicone rubber layer (or viscoelastic PVC layer) 75 are sized to receive at least a portion of a human body. For example, they can be sized so as to form top layer 37 of mattress system 11 such that they extend horizontally substantially the entire extent of the mattress. Alternatively, they can be sized to extend over only a portion of the mattress, such as the lumbar portion. In any event, the foam layer 73 and silicone rubber layer (or viscoelastic PVC layer) 75 have in combination a resilience and a deformation selected to support a human body in comfort.

It is preferred that the silicone rubber layer (or the viscoelastic PVC layer) be generally from ¼″ to 6″ thick. It is further preferred that the thickness of layer 75 be at the lower end of that range, such as from ¼″ to ¾″. The foam layer 73 may be of a similar thickness or even thicker. If desired, a second foam layer 77 may be secured to the top of layer 75 to separate the human user from the silicone rubber layer.

Although a wide variety of silicone rubbers or viscoelastic PVC materials may be used in the mattress component 71 of the present invention, it is preferred that the layer 75 have a Shore 00 durometer of no greater than 75. It is further preferred that the layer 75 has a Shore 00 durometer of no greater than 50. In one preferred embodiment, the Shore 00 durometer of the layer 75 is no greater than 40. Different durometers provide different feels to the mattress component, so the durometer may be desired as necessary to achieve the desired feel. The layer 75 has a rebound percentage of less than 50, and preferably a rebound percentage of less than 20. It may include embedded bubbles, or it may be bubble free. The layer 75 may be continuous (as shown in FIG. 3), or it may have pores 81 or larger openings 83 (as shown in FIG. 4).

Although the present invention has been described in connection with a single layer 75 of silicone rubber or viscoelastic PVC, it should be appreciated that a sandwich of multiple layers of silicone rubber (or viscoelastic PVC) and/or multiple layers of foam could also be used.

If desired, a conventional heating device 91 (such as the electrical heating device shown) may be included in mattress component 71 (or alternatively, may be disposed adjacent mattress component 71. It should be understood that mattress component 71 may be used in any of the various types of mattresses described in the abovementioned patents, and in any variation thereof.

It is preferred, but not required, that various components of the present invention be fire retardant. For example, the cover 65 could be designed to be fire retardant so as to protect the various foam material held inside the cover from fire. Alternatively, the foam components themselves could also be fire retardant or otherwise treated with fire retardant materials.

In view of the foregoing, it will be seen that the several advantages of the invention are achieved and attained.

The embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated.

As various modifications could be made in the constructions and methods herein described and illustrated without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the foregoing description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative rather than limiting. Thus, the breadth and scope of the present invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the following claims appended hereto and their equivalents.