Title:
Expandable remote control organizer
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A compartmentalized organizer for accommodating one or more remote controls. The organizer has a plurality of discrete compartments which are substantially identical but variable with respect to size. Each compartment has a substantially rectangular shape, with both male and female connectors. The male connector is laterally disposed on the opposing side from the female connector allowing the compartments to be laterally arranged in releasably connectable fashion. The remotes are situated on the top panel of each compartment to allow line of sight transmission while still positioned on the compartment. Signaling means may be provided to allow for communication between compartments and the remote controls accommodated thereon.



Inventors:
Tawanapoor, Ali (Alexandria, VA, US)
Application Number:
11/086403
Publication Date:
05/04/2006
Filing Date:
03/23/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/23.4
International Classes:
B65D85/00; B65D21/02
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
PICKETT, JOHN G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
REED SMITH LLP (Falls Church, VA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An expandable remote control organizer for releasably accommodating a plurality of remote control units, each remote control unit used for remotely controlling a selected one of a plurality of disparate electronic devices, comprising: a plurality of compartments each having at least one pair of a male connector and a female connector disposed on opposing sides to be releasably connected with a female connector of one adjacent compartment and a male connector of another adjacent compartment respectively, each of said compartments having a flat surface for accommodating one of the remote control units thereon, wherein said compartments are selectively connected to provide the expandable remote control organizer.

2. The organizer according to claim 1, further comprising indicia to indicate said remote control units accommodated thereon.

3. The organizer according to claim 1, further comprising sealing means applied to said male and female connectors to create a permanent attachment.

4. The organizer according to claim 1, further comprising signaling means for signaling at least one of said remote control units.

5. The organizer according to claim 1, wherein said compartments include interior compartments and a pair of end compartments.

6. The organizer according to claim 1, wherein said male connectors are rectangular-shaped pieces and said male connectors are rectangular-shaped grooves.

7. The organizer according to claim 1, wherein said male and female connectors of one corresponding compartment are interlocked with the connectors of the adjacent compartments respectively.

8. The organizer according to claim 1, wherein said male connector is a lateral protrusion out of a first lateral edge of each compartment, and said female connector is a lateral groove in an opposite lateral edge of said compartment.

9. The organizer according to claim 8, wherein said male connector has a general V-shaped cross-section with a bottom of the V connected with the first lateral edge, and the female connector is a notch in the opposite lateral edge.

10. The organizer according to claim 8, wherein said male connector has a general T-shaped cross-section with a bottom of the T connected with the first lateral edge, and the female connector is a notch in the opposite lateral edge.

11. The organizer according to claim 8, wherein said male connector has a general column-shaped cross-section with a narrow end of the column connected with the first lateral edge, and the female connector is a general column-shaped groove in the opposite lateral edge.

12. The organizer according to claim 1, wherein each of the remote control units is releasably accommodated in the organizer via a magnetic mechanism or Velcro.

13. The organizer according to claim 2, wherein the indicia are releasably accommodated in the organizer via magnetic a mechanism or Velcro.

14. The organizer according to claim 1, wherein the compartments are made of a mixture of plastic and a magnetic material.

15. The organizer according to claim 1, wherein the compartments are made of wood, rubber, plastic, aluminum, non-magnetic stainless steel, or other non-ferrous sheet metal, and coated with a mixture of plastic and a magnetic material.

16. The organizer according to claim 1, wherein a top surface of each of the compartments is non-slip.

17. The organizer according to claim 1, wherein a top surface of each of the compartments is provided with a texture or slits thereon.

18. A remote control organizer for releasably accommodating a plurality of remote control units, each remote control unit used for remotely controlling a selected one of a plurality of disparate electronic devices, comprising: a body shaped like a tray; and at least one of: (1) indicia to indicate said remote control units accommodated thereon, (2) signaling means for signaling at least one of said remote control units, wherein each of the remote control units is releasably accommodated in the organizer via a magnetic mechanism or Velcro.

19. A method for providing an expandable remote control organizer for releasably accommodating a plurality of remote control units, each remote control unit used for remotely controlling a selected one of a plurality of disparate electronic devices, comprising: providing a plurality of compartments each having at least one pair of a male connector and a female connector disposed on opposing sides, each of said compartments having a flat surface for accommodating one of the remote control units thereon; and selectively connecting said compartments to provide the expandable remote control organizer by connecting said male connector and said female connector of a corresponding compartment with a female connector of one adjacent compartment and a male connector of another adjacent compartment respectively.

20. The method according to claim 19, whereby the connecting steps, the connectors are interlocked with each other by sliding a male connecter into a female connector.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This application is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/980,343 filed on Nov. 2, 2004.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention concerns organizing tools. More particularly, the invention is directed to an expandable organizer for accommodating remote controls thereon.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

Organizers for accommodating various household or office items are well known. These organizers are characterized by the provision of one or more compartments shaped to accommendate one or more target items. For example, letter holders for incoming male have a series of vertical or horizontal separators so that male received on different days can be separated until processed and filed.

With the proliferation of new consumer electronics, nearly all of which have a dedicated remote control, most households have several remote controls in a single room. For example, a TV remote, a cable box remote, a DVD remote, and a surround sound processor remote may be needed for a single room, and the resulting clutter often results in remotes being misplaced, stepped on, dropped, etc. Accordingly, a means for organizing several remote controls so that they can be accessible at all time is needed.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,761,010 discloses a medication organizing system for allowing patients to rapidly and easily prepare hermetically sealed dosage packages to set up their medication regime for a week, month, or longer period of time. The device includes seven hoppers to allow the patient to prepare a set of hermetically sealed medication packages for a given time for each day of the week.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,719,157 discloses an organizer for use in a closet which includes a row of side-by-side compartments at least partially formed from a flexible material. Each side-by-side compartment has a floor, a pair of side walls extending from the floor and a mouth between the side walls. The organizer further includes a suspender coupled to the row of side-by-side compartments. The suspender is configured and adapted to hang the plurality of compartments from the closet rod such that each mouth faces a forward horizontal direction perpendicular to the axis of the closet rod when the organizer is hung from the rod.

The present invention is directed to a compartmentalized organizer for accommodating one or more remote controls. The organizer has a plurality of discrete compartments which may be substantially identical. Each interior compartment has a substantially rectangular shape with both male and female connectors. The male connector is laterally disposed on the opposing side from the female connector allowing the compartments to be laterally arranged in releasably connectable fashion. The opposing exterior compartments have rounded outer edges with outward facing handles. The compartments may be packaged for sale in a vertically stacked arrangement and each compartment may have indicia for indicating the various devices associated with a particular remote control unit such as a cable box or DVD. Signaling means may be provided to allow for communication between compartments and the remote control accommodated therein.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is a major object of the invention to provide an organizer for remote controls.

It is another object of the invention to provide an organizer for remote controls comprised of a series of releasably attachable compartments.

It is another object of the invention to provide an organizer for remote controls which allows the remote to be operated while positioned on the organizer.

Finally, it is a general goal of the invention to provide improved elements and arrangements thereof in an apparatus for the purposes described which is dependable and fully effective in accomplishing its intended purposes.

These and other objects of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

The present invention meets or exceeds all the above objects and goals. Upon further study of the specification and appended claims, further objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Various other objects, features, and attendant advantages of the present invention will become more fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood when considered with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

FIG. 1 shows a plan view, partly in section, of a first embodiment of a remote control organizer formed in accordance with the concept of the present invention.

FIG. 2 shows an edge view of the organizer of FIG. 1 illustrating a pair of connecting elements.

FIG. 3 shows a plan view, partly in section, of a second embodiment of a remote control organizer formed in accordance with the concept of the present invention.

FIG. 4 shows an edge view of the organizer of FIG. 3 illustrating a pair of interlocking connectors.

FIGS. 5A-B show to variations of the pair of interlocking connectors in FIG. 4.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2, the remote control organizer of the present invention, generally indicated by the numeral 10, is shown. It can be seen that the organizer 10 is comprised of a series of individual compartments 20 which may be variable in size and shape. Interior compartments 20 have two opposing lateral edges 22 which are preferably essentially straight to facilitate lateral arrangement of the compartments 20, but the outward facing edges 23 of the end compartments 20 are rounded for safety. Each of the interior compartments 20 also has two opposing organizer edges 22″ which are preferably essentially straight to be assembled into edges of the organizer 10. Each compartment 20 includes a vertical wall portion 24 which extends around the periphery of the compartment 20, and a top panel upon 21 which a remote control 28 may be removably adhered. The organizer 10 so assembled is generally shaped like to tray to be place on any surface, e.g., a surface of a coffee table, a desk, etc., in the room where the to-be-remotely-controlled units placed. Situating the remote 28 on the top panel 21 allows each remote, which typically have line of sight IR transmitters, to be operated while still in the compartment. End compartments 20 are differentiated from interior compartments 20 in that the edges and corners are rounded and handles 25 are provided to facilitate lifting of the organizer 10.

In accordance with a first aspect of the invention, the compartments 20 are sized to “accommendate” an average sized remote control 28. However, remotes 28 vary greatly in size and accordingly the compartments 20 are preferably large enough to accommodate the largest sizes of remotes available, which are typically the “master” controllers such as those commonly sold at consumer electronics retail outlets or provided by cable and satellite TV providers. These master controllers are typically in the range of about 8 inches in length to 2½ inches wide, with varying degrees of thickness. Thus, compartments should be at least 8 by 3 inches, as a slight overhang will not affect the function of the compartment 20. The compartments 20 may be sold in packages of 6, in a vertically stacked arrangement to save space. The compartments 20 are provided with at least one pair of male and female connectors 30, 32 respectively to facilitate releasable connection of adjacent compartments. The connecters 30, 32 may be sized for snap fit or frictional engagement, or may be glued together for a permanent attachment. The end compartments 20 have either a male or female connector 30, 32 so they can be connected to each other and to avoid having an extra connector protruding proximate to the handle 25. Connectors 30, 32 must be sufficiently long to prevent twisting of the compartments 20. To that end, multiple pairs of connectors 30, 32 may be provided along the edges of the compartments 20. Connectors 30, 32 may also be reinforced with metal to reduce the possibility of fatigue or failure from repeated connections.

Instead of a rectangular-shaped connecting piece 30 or groove 32, the second embodiment of the invention shown in FIGS. 3-4, deploys a male interlocking connector 130 and a female interlocking connector 132 to be interlocked with each other. The male interlocking connector 130 is a lateral protrusion out of the left lateral edge 122 of the interior compartment 120 having a general V-shaped cross-section with the bottom of the V connected with the left lateral edge 122. The female interlocking connector 132 is a notch in the right lateral edge 122 of the interior compartment 120 having a general V-shaped cross-section with the top of the V buried inside the right lateral edge 122 for receiving the male interlocking connector 130 of another the interior compartment 120 slid therein from one of the organizer edges 122″ of the interior compartment 120.

FIGS. 5A-B show to variations of the pair of interlocking connectors in FIG. 4. In FIG. 5A shows a male interlocking connector 130′ protruding out of the left lateral edge 122 of the interior compartment 120 having a general T-shaped cross-section with the bottom of the T connected with the left lateral edge 122. A corresponding female interlocking connector 132′ is a groove in the right lateral edge 122 of the interior compartment 120 having a general T-shaped cross-section with the top of the T buried inside the right lateral edge 122 for receiving the male interlocking connector 130′ of another the interior compartment 120 to be slid therein from one of the organizer edges 122″ of the interior compartment 120. Similarly, FIG. 5B shows a column-shaped male interlocking connector 130″ protruding out of the left lateral edge 122 of the interior compartment 120 with a narrow bottom connected with the left lateral edge 122 and a corresponding groove-shaped female interlocking connector 132″ in the right lateral edge 122. Other shapes having a narrow end with a wide end or having a narrow end with a wide body section may be adopted as cross-sectional shapes for the pair of interlocking connectors.

The organizer 10 of the invention has very few parts so as to be easily assembled and cleaned.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the compartments 20 may have indicia attached or imprinted thereon to indicate the function that the device controlled by the remote 28 performs, e.g., an indicium 40 labeled with “TV” for accommodating a TV controller thereon, or labeled with “DVD” for accommodating a DVD controller, etc. Like the releasable attachment means 38 of the remote 28, the indicium 40 may be a plastic tag attached on its back a permanent magnet, a piece of velcro, or other easily releasable connector arrangement. A corresponding attachment means is provided on the top surface 21. If the compartments 20 is made of a magnetic material, the indicium 40 may be a tap made of a mixture of plastic and a magnetic material. The indicium 40 may be integrated with the compartment 20 (e.g., placed in a seat in the compartment 20) or integrally formed with the compartment 20 (e.g., embedded in the compartment 20). The thickness of the seat is kept as thin as 10 mm to ensure the indicium 40 does not pop out of the top surface 21.

At least one universal signaling means 146 may be provided to allow the organized 10 to communicate with the remotes 28. Such universal signaling means may be modified from the component of the universal remote controller described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,549,143 which is hereby incorporated by reference to track one or all remotes 28. The universal signaling means 146 may be as simple and small as a semiconductor chip embedded in the organizer 10 (e.g., in the end compartment 20) with a bottom thereon to be pressed to call up any remotes in the room. An RF transmitter receiver arrangement may be used for signaling as would be apparent to one of skill in the art, with dedicated transmitters for each compartment and detachable receiver with audio transducers for each remote 28. The universal signaling means 146 may be as big as a business-card-sized calculator embedded in the organizer 10 with bottoms thereon to be programmed to call up a particular remote 28 in the room. Alternatively, each of a plurality of signaling means is provided to each of the compartments 20 to allow communication between each remote 28 and its respective compartment 20.

The top surface 21 of each compartment 20 is provided with a releasable attachment means 36 which may be a permanent magnet, a piece of Velcro®, or other easily releasable connector arrangement. The permanent magnets can be in any shape other than a 0.5 inch×0.5 inch square, e.g., a disk with a 0.75 inch diameter, and they can be made from ferrous, ceramic, or similar magnetic material. The permanent magnets of different compartments 20 can be oriented randomly, but preferably to adjacent magnets with an identical polarity. The attachment means 36 cooperates with a corresponding attachment means 38 secured to the remote control 28. The compartments 20 may be made of a mixture of plastic and a magnetic material or coated with the mixture on the top surface 21 so that only the remote control 28 need have a magnet 38 attached. Alternatively, the compartments 20 may be made of wood, rubber, plastic, other synthetic resin material, aluminum, of other non-ferrous sheet metal and non-magnetic stainless steel, etc then coated with the mixture on the top surface 21.

The top surface 21 of the compartment 20 is preferably non-slip so that the remote 28 rests in a desired orientation without pivoting away when the organizer 10 is moved. Alternatively, the non-slip of the top surface 21 may be provided via a texture or slits thereon.

Attachment means 38 may be provided with an adhesive for attachment to each of the remotes, Attachment means 36 may be integrated with the compartment 20 (e.g., placed in a seat 142 in the compartment 120 as shown in FIGS. 3-4) or integrally formed with the compartment 20 (e.g., embedded in the compartment 20). The thickness of the seat 142 is kept as thin as 30 mm to reduce the gap between the remote 28 and the top surface 21 but still sufficiently connects and supports the remote 28.

In operation, a user would purchase a set of compartments 20 in unattached condition. An attachment means 3 8 is then attached to each remote. The user would then arrange and attach the compartments 20 as necessary by aligning the attachment means 36, 38, with each attached compartment 20 accommodating a single remote 28. The remaining unattached compartments 20 may be used as necessary when more remotes are acquired by the user. The user may then operate the remote 28 as normal, optionally removing the remote if desired.

In one other embodiment, the organizer is formed in one-piece and shaped like to tray to be place on any surface.

The principles, preferred embodiments and modes of operation of the present invention have been described in the foregoing specification. However, the invention which is intended to be protected is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed. The embodiments described herein are illustrative rather than restrictive. Variations and changes may be made by others, and equivalents employed, without departing from the spirit of the present invention. Accordingly, it is expressly intended that all such variations, changes and equivalents which fall within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined in the claims, be embraced thereby.





 
Previous Patent: Expandable remote control organizer

Next Patent: Tool holder