Title:
Hands free umbrella apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hands free umbrella apparatus includes a harness comprising a shoulder strap and a chest-encircling belt. The shoulder strap is configured to overlap the user's shoulder in a generally vertical configuration. It has slots adjacent its ends for receiving the chest encircling belt. The belt is provided with an adjustable quick-disconnect buckle for securing the belt around the user's lower chest or upper abdominal region and allowing the user to adjust the length of the belt to accommodate different size individuals. An automatically deployable umbrella is secured to the front-facing external surface of the shoulder strap about midway between the belt and the top of the shoulder curve. The umbrella stem is secured to the shoulder strap by an adjustable joint having a full 180° of elevation adjustment so that the umbrella can be moved from a fully vertical upward direction to a fully vertical downward direction by rotating the stem around the joint in a vertical plane.



Inventors:
Jennings, Kenneth L. (Springfield, MO, US)
Application Number:
10/961715
Publication Date:
04/13/2006
Filing Date:
10/08/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
224/625
International Classes:
A45F3/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAI, TRI M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEONARD TACHNER, A PROFESSIONAL LAW (IRVINE, CA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A hands free umbrella apparatus comprising: an umbrella having a stem upon which there is at least one latch for opening and closing the umbrella; a shoulder strap having front and rear-facing surfaces and a belt for encircling the torso of a user and securing the shoulder strap in a substantially vertical position over a shoulder of the user; and an elevation-adjustable joint affixed to said shoulder strap on the front-facing surface thereof, said umbrella stem affixed to said joint for selective elevational adjustment in at least a substantially vertical plane and anywhere between a substantially upward and a substantially downward position in said plane.

2. The apparatus recited in claim 1 wherein said joint has sufficient friction to maintain said umbrella stem in any selected elevation between fully upward and fully downward.

3. The apparatus recited in claim 1 wherein said shoulder strap comprises slots on said front and rear facing surfaces and wherein said belt is threaded through said slots.

4. The apparatus recited in claim 1 wherein said belt comprises a buckle for securing said belt around the torso of a user.

5. The apparatus recited in claim 4 wherein said buckle is configured as a quick-release buckle.

6. The apparatus recited in claim 4 wherein said buckle has an adjustable portion for selectively altering the length of said belt.

7. A hands free umbrella apparatus comprising: a shoulder encircling portion having an articulatable joint for receiving an umbrella; a belt for encircling the torso of a user and adjustably affixed to said shoulder encircling portion; said joint being adjustable in elevation between at least a vertical position and a horizontal position for facilitating the opening and the closing of an umbrella attached to said joint.

8. The apparatus recited in claim 7 wherein said joint has sufficient friction for maintaining said horizontal position of said joint with an umbrella attached thereto.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention pertains generally to an apparatus for hands free support of an umbrella. More specifically, the invention relates to a hands free umbrella apparatus such as for postal carriers and the like wherein an umbrella is supported on a belt system on either shoulder, is easily opened and closed without removal and is readily adjusted to avoid interference with normal activities such as driving a vehicle and using a seat belt.

2. Background Art

There are many issued U.S. Patents with disclosures which relate to supporting an umbrella somewhere on or near the human torso in a hands free configuration. The following patents appear to be the most relevant to such a supporting structure for umbrellas:

    • U.S. Pat. No. 877,802 Shuster
    • U.S. Pat. No. 903,682 Cumpston
    • U.S. Pat. No. 1,066,205 Henry
    • U.S. Pat. No. 1,205,917 Merrill
    • U.S. Pat. No. 1,262,402 Stuckey
    • U.S. Pat. No. 1,347,540 Godard
    • U.S. Pat. No. 1,460,821 Morris
    • U.S. Pat. No. 1,466,715 Hart
    • U.S. Pat. No. 1,657,263 Lauby
    • U.S. Pat. No. 1,704,407 Rice
    • U.S. Pat. No. 2,085,984 Kruithof
    • U.S. Pat. No. 3,120,332 White
    • U.S. Pat. No. 3,204,650 Shinew
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,188,965 Morman
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,537,339 Pearson
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,263,837 Dompe
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,353,977 Schiro, Jr. et al
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,513,786 Drane

Of the foregoing patents, those that disclose a structure for supporting an umbrella on a user's back are clearly distinguishable because a postal carrier or other user would have to remove the supporting structure to open or close the umbrella. This would be an intolerable inconvenience particularly for postal carriers who frequently enter and exit buildings and residences to deliver mail. Others of the above-listed patents describe structures which cannot be worn on either side of the body which thus requires separate configurations for left-handed users as opposed to right-handed users. Still others do not easily allow for folding the umbrella into a stored configuration such as for entering and driving a vehicle. Still others do not have sufficient adjustment to permit opening and closing without interfering with the user's head or shoulders and do not allow automatic opening of the umbrella. Thus, while there are many prior art disclosures of hands free umbrella devices, there is none which appears to be suitable for postal carriers or other users who require the aforementioned convenience features in order to make such devices practical for everyday use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention, in its preferred embodiment, comprises a hands free umbrella apparatus which overcomes the above-noted deficiencies of the prior art. Its principal components include a harness comprising a shoulder strap and a chest-encircling belt. The shoulder strap is configured to overlap the user's shoulder in a generally vertical configuration. It has slots adjacent its ends for receiving the chest encircling belt. The belt is provided with an adjustable quick-disconnect buckle for securing the belt around the user's lower chest or upper abdominal region and allowing the user to adjust the length of the belt to accommodate different size individuals. An automatically deployable umbrella is secured to the front-facing external surface of the shoulder strap about midway between the belt and the top of the shoulder curve. The umbrella stem is secured to the shoulder strap by an adjustable joint having a full 180° of elevation adjustment so that the umbrella can be moved from a fully vertical upward direction to a fully vertical downward direction by rotating the stem around the joint in a vertical plane. While the preferred embodiment uses a single plane joint, it is contemplated that the joint could be fully articulated in all directions (i.e., ball and socket joint) which would provide for tilting the umbrella out of the vertical plane if so desired to provide angle adjustment for inclement weather conditions such as blowing rain, protection of direct sun rays, snow, etc. The specific configuration of the preferred embodiment will be described hereinafter in conjunction with the appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The aforementioned objects and advantages of the present invention, as well as additional objects and advantages thereof, will be more fully understood herein after as a result of a detailed description of a preferred embodiment when taken in conjunction with the following drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a three-dimensional view of the preferred embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a view of the invention similar to that of FIG. 1 but shown being worn by a user;

FIG. 3 is a side view of the preferred embodiment shown on a user and in a closed configuration and a view of the embodiment stored in the up or down position;

FIG. 4 is a view similar to FIG. 3 but illustrating the opening of the umbrella while on the user and ready to pivot into protective position without interfering with users head or face;

FIG. 5 is a view similar to FIG. 4 but illustrating the fully opened and deployed configuration on a user; and

FIG. 6 is a view of the stowed configuration being worn by a user while driving a vehicle.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to the accompanying drawings comprising FIGS. 1-6, it will be seen that a hands free umbrella apparatus 10 comprises an umbrella 12, a shoulder strap 14, an adjustable joint 16 and a belt 18, the latter having a quick release adjustable buckle 20.

Umbrella 12 is preferably the type of umbrella which opens automatically upon release of a latch 22 (see FIG. 4) as is well known in the umbrella art. Joint 16 is preferably one having sufficient friction between the umbrella stem 24 and the joint axis 26 so that the umbrella will only rotate upon application of a manual force and will remain fixed at any selected elevation between +90° (upwardly as shown in FIGS. 1 and 5) and −90° downwardly shown in FIG. 3).

Shoulder strap 14 preferably has a pair of slotted openings 28 on its front surface 30 and on its rear surface 32 so that belt 18 may be threaded through such openings to support the strap in its nominal vertical position on the user. (See FIGS. 2 and 3). Buckle 20 is preferably of the quick release type and has an adjustment portion 25 to permit the user to obtain a snug, but yet comfortable fit of the belt 18 around the lower chest or upper abdomen region of the body.

Opening and closing of the umbrella is preferably made while the umbrella stem is rotated to the zero degree position in elevation (see FIGS. 3 and 4). This portion permits the user to conveniently open and close the umbrella without interfering with his or her head or shoulders and then rotate the stem up into the deployed (FIG. 5) or stowed (FIG. 6) positions. As shown in FIG. 6, a feature of the present invention is that it can be stowed while being worn so that it will not interfere with normal activities such as driving a vehicle or walking through a doorway. Moreover, it is configured to accommodate virtually any size torso, including a women's bust, and can be worn on either left or right shoulders depending upon which way belt 18 is threaded through openings 28 of shoulder strap 14.

It will now be understood that the present invention provides a hands free umbrella apparatus which is particularly advantageous for postal carriers and others who need to have their hands available for other tasks, but who nevertheless need to frequently open and close an umbrella during their daily activities. It will also be understood that although a preferred embodiment has been disclosed herein, numerous modifications may be made without deviating from the advantageous features of the invention. By way of example, the joint 16 as well as the manner in which belt 18 interfaces with shoulder strap 14, may be accomplished in many other ways. Therefore, the scope hereof is limited only by the appended claims and their equivalents.