Title:
Game table deployment and stowage apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A game table deployment system comprises a housing adapted to be mounted to a ceiling of a room, the housing including an opening facing downward into the room, a lift mechanism contained in the housing, and a game table operatively coupled to the lift mechanism. The game table is movable by operation of the lift mechanism between a stowed position in which the game table is substantially contained within the opening of the housing and a deployed position in which the game table is deployed for use within the room. The housing may include at least one door adapted to at least partially enclose the opening. The door may further include at least one electric light oriented to provide light onto the game table below when in the deployed position and the at least one door is opened. The lift mechanism may further comprise a motor and a plurality of cables operatively driven by the motor, the game table being coupled to respective ends of the plurality of cables. The plurality of cables may further comprise fasteners enabling selective coupling to and uncoupling from engagement with the game table. The game table may further comprise at least one folding leg. The game table may be a pool table, a ping pong table, a foosball table, a card table, a gaming table, and the like.



Inventors:
Berliner, Brian M. (Palos Verdes Estates, CA, US)
Penn, Jay P. (Redondo Beach, CA, US)
Kaszas, George (Redondo Beach, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/253402
Publication Date:
04/20/2006
Filing Date:
10/18/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63D15/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ARYANPOUR, MITRA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
O''Melveny & Myers LLP (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A game table deployment system, comprising: a housing adapted to be mounted to a ceiling of a room, the housing including an opening facing downward into the room; a lift mechanism contained in the housing; and a game table operatively coupled to the lift mechanism, the game table being movable by operation of the lift mechanism between a stowed position in which the game table is substantially contained within the opening of the housing and a deployed position in which the game table is deployed for use within the room.

2. The game table deployment system of claim 1, wherein the housing further comprises at least one door adapted to at least partially enclose the opening.

3. The game table deployment system of claim 2, wherein the at least one door further comprises at least one electric light oriented to provide light onto the game table below when in the deployed position and the at least one door is opened.

4. The game table deployment system of claim 1, wherein the lift mechanism further comprises a motor and a plurality of cables operatively driven by the motor, the game table being coupled to respective ends of the plurality of cables.

5. The game table deployment system of claim 4, wherein the plurality of cables further comprise fasteners enabling selective coupling to and uncoupling from engagement with the game table.

6. The game table deployment system of claim 1, wherein the game table further comprises at least one folding leg.

7. The game table deployment system of claim 1, wherein the game table further comprises a pool table.

8. The game table deployment system of claim 1, wherein the game table further comprises a ping pong table.

9. The game table deployment system of claim 1, wherein the game table further comprises a foosball table.

10. The game table deployment system of claim 1, wherein the game table further comprises a card table.

11. The game table deployment system of claim 1, wherein the game table further comprises a gaming table.

12. A game table deployment system, comprising: a housing adapted to be coupled to a ceiling, the housing further containing a lift mechanism; and a game table provided in the housing, the game table and housing being movable by operation of the lift mechanism between a stowed position in which the housing is in direct contact with the ceiling and a deployed position in which the housing is lowered into the room, the game table thereby being available for use within the room.

13. The game table deployment system of claim 12, wherein the housing includes at least one electric light oriented to provide light onto the room when in the stowed position.

14. The game table deployment system of claim 12, wherein the lift mechanism further comprises a motor and a plurality of cables operatively driven by the motor, respective ends of the plurality of cables being coupled to the ceiling.

15. The game table deployment system of claim 14, wherein the plurality of cables further comprise fasteners enabling selective coupling to and uncoupling from engagement with the ceiling.

16. The game table deployment system of claim 12, wherein the housing further comprises at least one folding leg.

17. The game table deployment system of claim 12, wherein the game table further comprises a pool table.

18. The game table deployment system of claim 12, wherein the game table further comprises a ping pong table.

19. The game table deployment system of claim 12, wherein the game table further comprises a foosball table.

20. The game table deployment system of claim 12, wherein the game table further comprises a card table.

21. The game table deployment system of claim 12, wherein the game table further comprises a gaming table.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION DATA

This application claims priority pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to provisional application Ser. No. 60/620,089, filed on Oct. 18, 2004.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to game tables, or more particularly, to an apparatus for deploying and stowing a game table in a storage area located above a living space.

2. Description of Related Art

People of all ages enjoy playing games such as for pool, billiards, air hockey, ping pong, foosball, and assorted card games. In most cases, these games are played in commercial establishments, such as arcades, bars, recreational centers, and the like, because the size of the specialized game tables renders them generally impractical to play at all but the largest homes. Given the limited size of the average home, most homeowners either do not have sufficient space or are unwilling to devote precious living space necessary to accommodate such a game table. Some types of game tables are foldable, particularly ping pong tables, to permit them to be folded and stowed after use and thereby avoid permanent dedication of home space for the game table. But, most other game tables, such as for pool, billiards, and air hockey, cannot be easily stowed. To satisfy consumers' demand for home game tables, miniaturized versions of these game tables are known in the art. A significant drawback of these miniaturized game tables is that the quality of play is substantially less than that experienced with a full-sized (up to regulation size) table. As a result, a home game room with a full-sized game table remains a luxury item that is out of reach for most homeowners.

Thus, it would be advantageous to provide a home game table that can be easily stowed to eliminate the need for dedicated game space.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention satisfies the need for a home game table that can be easily stowed and deployed within a room, thereby eliminating the need for a dedicated game space.

In accordance with an embodiment of the invention, a game table deployment system comprises a housing adapted to be mounted to a ceiling of a room, the housing including an opening facing downward into the room, a lift mechanism contained in the housing, and a game table operatively coupled to the lift mechanism. The game table is movable by operation of the lift mechanism between a stowed position in which the game table is substantially contained within the opening of the housing and a deployed position in which the game table is deployed for use within the room. The housing may include at least one door adapted to at least partially enclose the opening. The door may further include at least one electric light oriented to provide light onto the game table below when in the deployed position and the at least one door is opened. The lift mechanism may further comprise a motor and a plurality of cables operatively driven by the motor, the game table being coupled to respective ends of the plurality of cables. The plurality of cables may further comprise fasteners enabling selective coupling to and uncoupling from engagement with the game table. The game table may further comprise at least one folding leg. The game table may be a pool table, a ping pong table, a foosball table, a card table, a gaming table, and the like.

In accordance with another embodiment of the invention, a game table deployment system comprises a housing adapted to be coupled to a ceiling, the housing further containing a lift mechanism, and a game table provided in the housing, the game table and housing being movable by operation of the lift mechanism between a stowed position in which the housing is in direct contact with the ceiling and a deployed position in which the housing is lowered into the room, the game table thereby being available for use within the room. The housing may further include at least one electric light oriented to provide light onto the room when in the stowed position. The lift mechanism may further comprises a motor and a plurality of cables operatively driven by the motor, respective ends of the plurality of cables being coupled to the ceiling. The plurality of cables may further comprise fasteners enabling selective coupling to and uncoupling from engagement with the ceiling. The housing may further comprise at least one folding leg. The game table may be a pool table, a ping pong table, a foosball table, a card table, a gaming table, and the like.

A more complete understanding of the game table apparatus will be afforded to those skilled in the art, as well as a realization of additional advantages and objects thereof, by a consideration of the following detailed description of the preferred embodiment. Reference will be made to the appended sheets of drawings, which will first be described briefly.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a side sectional view of a first embodiment of a deployable game table in a fully stowed configuration within a ceiling enclosure;

FIG. 1B is a side sectional view of the game table of FIG. 1A in a partially deployed configuration;

FIG. 1C is a top view of the game table of FIG. 1A in a fully deployed configuration;

FIG. 1D is a side sectional view of the game table of FIG. 1A in a fully deployed configuration;

FIG. 2A is an enlarged side sectional view of a foldable door of the ceiling enclosure of FIGS. 1A and 1B;

FIG. 2B is a side sectional view of the foldable door of FIG. 2A in an opened configuration;

FIG. 3 is a side sectional view of an alternative embodiment of a ceiling enclosure;

FIGS. 4A and 4B are front and side views of a latch release tool for use with the ceiling enclosure of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a side sectional view of a second embodiment of a deployable game table adapted for ceiling stowage as shown in a partially deployed configuration;

FIG. 6 is a side sectional view of a third embodiment of a deployable game table adapted for ceiling stowage as shown in a partially deployed configuration;

FIG. 7 is a side sectional view of the deployable game table of FIG. 6 with the foldable legs in a deployed configuration;

FIG. 8A is a side sectional view of a fourth embodiment of a deployable game table as shown in a stowed configuration within a ceiling enclosure;

FIG. 8B is a side sectional view of the deployable game table of FIG. 8A as shown in a partially deployed configuration; and

FIG. 9 is a bottom view of the deployable game table of FIGS. 8A and 8B in a stowed configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention satisfies the need for a full-size home game table that can be easily stowed to eliminate the need for dedicated game space. In the detailed description that follows, like element numerals are used to describe like elements illustrated in one or more figures.

More particularly, the invention provides a deployable game table that can be stowed in a ceiling enclosure. When not in use, the game table remains hidden from view within the ceiling enclosure. The ceiling enclosure may double as a light fixture that provides overhead lighting for a living space. Then, when it is desired to use the game table, the ceiling enclosure opens to permit vertical deployment of the game table, which descends from the ceiling by use of a drive system having a plurality of lift cables. The game table may be raised by withdrawing the lift cables, and lowered by paying out the lift cables. The game table may further include foldable legs that permit the game table to stand in an upright position to enable full enjoyment of the game table while in the fully deployed position. The game table may further include hidden racks for storing game play implements, such as pool cues, balls and racks.

Referring first to FIGS. 1A and 1B, a first embodiment of a deployable game table 10 is shown in fully stowed and partially deployed configurations, respectively. While fully stowed, the game table 10 is entirely contained within a ceiling enclosure that includes a housing 22 and doors 24, 26. The housing 22 is attached to and extends downward from a ceiling of a living space, and may include decoratively shaped surfaces. The doors 24, 26 are attached to the housing 22 at respective hinges 25, 27 to enable selective movement between a fully closed position (as shown in FIG. 1A) and a fully open position (as shown in FIG. 1B). As will be further described below, the doors 24, 26 may be either manually or automatically opened and closed. The doors 24, 26 may further include internally mounted light bulbs 28 disposed behind a light transmissive surface (e.g., formed of plexiglass or like materials). This way, when the doors 24, 26 are fully closed, the housing 22 may provide the function and appearance of a ceiling mounted light fixture and the game table 10 is hidden from view. The housing 22 may also include internally mounted lighting so that the housing can also provide light when the doors are opened.

When it is desired to deploy the game table 10 for use, the doors 24, 26 are fully opened and a drive mechanism is used to deploy the game table through the opening in the housing 22 formed by the open doors. The drive mechanism includes a drive motor 32 operatively connected to a cable spool 34 using a suitable belt, chain or gear connection. The cable spool 34 carries plural lengths of wound cable that are driven to rotation by the drive motor 32. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the cable spool 34 carries four separate cables that extend from the cable spool 34 to respective corners of the game table 10. As shown in FIG. 1B, two such cables 36, 38 pass through respective cable idlers 37, 38 and are redirected vertically to attach to two corners of the game table 10. When driven by the motor 32 in a first direction, the cable spool 34 pays out the wound cable to cause the game table 10 to descend from the stowed position within the ceiling enclosure. Conversely, when driven in the opposite direction, the cable spool 34 withdraws the wound cable to cause the game table 10 to rise back into the stowed position.

The game table 10 further comprises a playing surface 12 on which a game is played. It is anticipated that the game table 10 have a generally rectangular shape and configuration for playing known games such as pool, billiards, foosball, and air hockey, but may additionally have other shapes suitable for other uses including various games of chance such as blackjack, roulette, craps, and the like. The playing surface 12 may be permanently affixed to the game table 10, or in the alternative, the game table may be adapted to receive a number of different playing surfaces. This way, a single unit could be selectively transformed to provide different types of games.

The game table 10 further includes folded legs 14, 16 affixed to the bottom surface of the game table using respective hinges 15, 17. The game table 10 may further includes guide surfaces 11, 13 coupled to sides of the game table and that are oriented to engage corresponding guide surfaces 21, 23 of doors 24, 26 to facilitate guiding of the game table into the stowed position as it is raised in the ceiling enclosure. The guide surfaces 11, 13 may be removable so as to not interfere with game play. The game table 10 may further include suitable connectors 18, 19 for engaging mating elements 41, 42 arranged at the ends of the cables 36, 38. The connectors 18, 19 allow the cables 26, 38 to be disengaged from the game table 10 after deployment so that the cables do not interfere with the use and enjoyment of the game table.

FIGS. 1C and 1D illustrate an exemplary game table 10 in the fully deployed position. In FIG. 1C, the game table 10 is shown from above, and it should be apparent that the exemplary game table is configured for the game of pool, having a flat, cloth covered playing surface and plurality of pockets. It should be appreciated that the exemplary game table 10 would further include hanging pockets or channels for guiding pool balls to a central retrieval point and other features known in the art. Alternatively, the game table 10 could be configured for other gaming uses as discussed above. FIG. 1 C further illustrates connectors 18, 19 disposed in respective corners of the game table 10, as will as guide surfaces 11, 13 extending from side surfaces of the game table 10. In FIG. 1D, the folded legs 14, 16 are unfolded to support the game table 10 in the fully deployed position. The folded legs 14, 16 may additionally include adjustable feet at ends thereof to permit accurate leveling of the game table. It should be appreciated that when the game table 10 is in the fully deployed position and the cables retracted into the ceiling enclosure, the doors 24, 26 of the housing 22 may be closed and the integrated light fixture used to provide light onto the surface of the game table 10.

FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate an enlarged side sectional view of one of the foldable doors 24, 26 of the ceiling enclosure of FIGS. 1A and 1B. A door articulation mechanism includes an actuator 44 and linkages 46, 48. The actuator 44 is affixed at a first end to an actuator pivot point 51 located internal to the housing of the ceiling enclosure or mounted directly to the ceiling. The actuator 44 includes an arm 45 that extends outward coaxially of the actuator body. The first linkage 46 is coupled at one end to a pivot point 43 mounting internal to the housing of the ceiling enclosure or mounted directly to the ceiling. The second linkage 48 is coupled at one end to a pivot point 49 mounting to an interior surface of the door 26. The second ends of the first and second linkages 46, 48 are commonly coupled to the end 47 of the actuator arm 45. As shown in FIG. 2A, the actuator arm 45 is retracted into the actuator 44, pulling with it the first and second linkages 46, 48 to thereby cause the door 26 to articulate into a closed position. Conversely, as shown in FIG. 2B, the actuator arm 45 is extended from the actuator 44, pushing outwardly the common ends of the first and second linkages 46, 48 and causing the door 26 to articulate to an open position. It should be appreciated that the actuator 44 may be electrically responsive to a suitable control signal, such as provided by control unit 53, to extend and retract the arm 45. Alternatively, the actuator 44 may be manually operated and include a spring and damper or like mechanism to cause retraction and/or extension of the actuator.

Alternatively, the linkages 46, 48 may comprise a unitary rigid structure that is mounted at one end to a slide disposed in a linear track. The door 26 would opened with the slide located substantially at one end of the track, and closed with the slide located substantially at the other end of the track. As before, the actuator 44 may be automatically or manually operated.

FIG. 3 is a side sectional view of an alternative embodiment of a ceiling enclosure. In this embodiment, the doors 24, 26 are held closed by a latch mechanism that includes hooks 62, 64, catch rods 66, 68, and linkage 72. The hooks 62, 64 are suspended pivotally from the ceiling or from an interior surface of the housing 22. The catch rods 66, 68 are coupled to the doors 26, 24, respectively, through suitable brackets such that the catch rods extend parallel to the ceiling. With the doors 24, 26 in a closed position, the rods 66, 68 are oriented into alignment with the hooks 62, 64, allowing the hooks to engage the rods and thereby hold the doors in a closed position. The linkage 72 extends between the hooks 62, 64 so that upward pressure on the linkage causes the hooks to pivot inward toward each other and thereby disengage from the rods 66, 68 and allow the doors 24, 26 to open.

A gap may be provided between the doors 24, 26 to enable a tool 80 to be inserted to apply pressure to the linkage 72 and open the doors. As shown in greater detail in FIGS. 4A and 4B, the exemplary tool 80 has an elongated handle 82 with a wide blade 84 affixed to a working end thereof. The blade 84 may further include a blunt end 86 intended to come into contact with the linkage 72. The elongated handle 82 should have suitable length to permit a user to reach a ceiling mounted enclosure, and may additionally be telescoping to accommodate varying ceiling heights. The tool 80 can also be used to close the doors 24, 26 by pressing against the external surface of the doors until the hooks 62, 64 engage with the rods 66, 68. The embodiment of FIGS. 3, 4A and 4B is advantageous in that it does not require electrical power to open and close the doors 24, 26.

FIG. 5 is a side sectional view of a second embodiment of a deployable game table adapted for ceiling stowage as shown in a partially deployed configuration. In this embodiment, there is no ceiling enclosure. Instead, the entire unit deploys from the ceiling and becomes a game table. Specifically, the game table 112 includes foldable legs 114, 116 that may unfold similar to the legs 14, 16 described above in the preceding embodiments. The legs 114, 116 have adjustable feet 122, 124 to permit leveling of the game table 112 when in the fully deployed position. The legs 114, 116 may further include integrated lights 118 that are operable when the legs 114, 116 are folded and the game table 112 raised to the stowed position adjacent the ceiling. This way, the stowed game table 112 provides the appearance of a ceiling mounted light fixture when stowed. Decorative covers 126, 128 may be used to cover the adjustable feet 122, 124 of the legs while folded. Louver 120 may also be used as a decorative feature to hide the hinge mechanism when the legs are folded.

Unlike the preceding embodiments, the drive mechanism to raise and lower the game table is integrated into the game table as opposed to being in a housing that remains mounted to the ceiling. The drive mechanism includes a drive motor 132 operatively connected to a cable spool 134 using a suitable belt, chain or gear connection. The cable spool 134 carries plural lengths of wound cable that are driven to rotation by the drive motor 132. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the cable spool 134 carries four separate cables that extend from the cable spool 134 to respective corners of the game table 112. As shown in FIG. 5, two such cables 136, 138 pass through respective cable idlers 146, 148 and are redirected vertically to attach to the ceiling. The ceiling may include hooks 152, 154 that engage ends of the cables 136, 138, respectively. When driven by the motor 132 in a first direction, the cable spool 134 pays out the wound cable to cause the game table 112 to descend from the stowed position adjacent the ceiling. Conversely, when driven in the opposite direction, the cable spool 134 withdraws the wound cable to cause the game table 112 to rise back into the stowed position. The game table 112 may further include recesses 142, 144 around the exit points of the cables 136, 138 into which the hooks 152, 154 would extend when the game table 112 is in the stowed position. An electrical outlet 150 is shown mounted to the ceiling, permitting electrical wiring to follow one of the cables to the game table 112 to provide electrical power to the lights 118.

FIGS. 6 and 7 are side sectional views of a third embodiment of a deployable game table adapted for ceiling stowage. This embodiment includes a decorative trim 214 that remains mounted to the ceiling, while the rest of the game table and drive mechanism is deployed as a self-contained unit. An advantage of this embodiment is that it does not require the doors used to conceal the stowed game table in the manner described above with respect to FIGS. 1-3. The game table 212 includes foldable legs 224 (only one leg shown for simplification) that is unfolded using a slid linkage arrangement. More specifically, a slide rail 244 extends parallel with the surface of the game table 112 and carries a slide block 246. The slide block 246 is operatively coupled to the leg 224 through a linkage 242. In FIG. 6, the leg 224 is fully folded with the slide block 242 near to a first end of travel along the slide rail 244. In FIG. 7, the leg 224 is fully deployed with the slide block 242 near to the opposite end of travel along the slide rail 244. As above, the legs 224 has an adjustable foot 226 to permit leveling of the game table 212 when in the fully deployed position.

As in the preceding embodiment, the drive mechanism to raise and lower the game table is integrated into the game table as opposed to remaining with the housing mounted to the ceiling. The drive mechanism includes a drive motor (not shown) operatively connected to a cable spool 234 using a suitable belt, chain or gear connection. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the cable spool 234 carries four separate cables that extend from the cable spool 234 to respective corners of the game table 212. As shown in FIG. 6, two such cables 236, 238 pass through respective cable idlers and are redirected vertically to attach to the ceiling. The ceiling may include hooks that engage ends of the cables 136, 138, respectively. The operation of the drive mechanism is substantially as described above.

A light panel 228 is affixed to the surface of the leg 224 that is operable when the leg is folded and the game table 212 raised to the stowed position adjacent the ceiling. This way, the stowed game table 212 provides the appearance of a ceiling mounted light fixture when stowed. Decorative cover 248 may be used to cover the adjustable foot 226 of the legs while folded. The decorative cover 248 may be slidable with respect to the leg 224 so that it covers the foot 226 when folded and can be moved out of the way when the leg is unfolded. Louver 220 may also be used as a decorative feature to hide the hinge mechanism when the legs are folded.

FIGS. 8A and 8B are side sectional views of a fourth embodiment of a deployable game table adapted for ceiling stowage. This embodiment includes a decorative trim 322 that remains mounted to the ceiling, while the rest of the game table and drive mechanism is deployed as a self-contained unit. Instead of doors, the embodiment includes a cover that unrolls to conceal the game table. A housing 322 is mounted to the ceiling and a game table 312 is contained within the housing while stowed. The game table 312 includes legs 324, 326 that can be unfolded as in any of the preceding embodiments. As in the first embodiment, the drive mechanism to raise and lower the game table is integrated into the housing 322. The drive mechanism includes a drive motor 332 operatively connected to a cable spool 334 using a suitable belt, chain or gear connection. The cable spool 334 carries four separate cables that extend from the cable spool to respective corners of the game table 312. As shown in FIGS. 8A and 8B, two such cables 336, 338 pass through respective cable idlers 337, 339 and are redirected vertically to attach to the game table 312. The operation of the drive mechanism is substantially as described above.

A cover is carried by a pair of roller spools 352, 354. A length of cover material, such as a fabric, vinyl, or like material, is wound onto each spool 353, 354. As shown in FIG. 8A, the cover is fully deployed with a first cover sheet 356 extending from the first side spool 352 and a second cover sheet 358 extending from a second side spool 354. The two cover sheets 356, 358 meet in the middle, thereby substantially covering bottom surface of the game table 312. The cover sheets 356, 358 may further include an edge frame 362, 364 that define an end boundary of the respective cover sheets and which meet together to seal the opening into the housing 322. The edge frames 362, 364 may couple together, such as using magnets. In FIG. 8B, the cover sheets 356, 358 are completely rolled up onto the respective rollers spools 352, 354 to permit the game table 312 to be deployed by operation of the drive mechanism (described above). The roller spools 352, 354 may be driven to rotation by respective motors (not shown), or they may be manually operated.

Having thus described a preferred embodiment of a home game table deployment and stowage apparatus, it should be apparent to those skilled in the art that certain advantages of the described system have been achieved. It should also be appreciated that various modifications, adaptations, and alternative embodiments thereof may be made within the scope and spirit of the present invention. The invention is defined solely by the following claims.