Title:
Chair with retractable cable unit
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A chair that includes a cable unit with a connection plug for a portable media unit. A cable housed in the cable unit can provide a signal from the media unit to a device such as a speaker or video panel located in or near the chair. In addition, the cable can provide a power source and control signals to the media unit. The cable can be retractable and move between an extended position where it can be operably attached to the media unit or a retracted position.



Inventors:
Thalheimer, Richard J. (San Francisco, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/228054
Publication Date:
05/18/2006
Filing Date:
09/16/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C7/62
View Patent Images:
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20090195040Variable configuration seatingAugust, 2009Birkbeck
20090152917APPARATUS, SYSTEM, AND METHOD FOR TUNEFUL ATTENUATIONJune, 2009Ostler et al.
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20060103195Automotive headrest coverMay, 2006Stanley



Primary Examiner:
BARFIELD, ANTHONY DERRELL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Bell, Boyd & Lloyd LLC (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A chair comprising: a cable unit, the cable unit including a connection cable with a plug adapted to be connected to a portable media-unit to provide an audio signal to the chair, wherein the cable is movable between an extended position and a retracted position, wherein a portion of the cable is extended outside of the cable unit in the extended position.

2. The chair of claim 1, wherein the cable unit is retractable.

3. The chair of claim 1, wherein the cable unit is removable.

4. The chair of claim 1, wherein the cable unit has another plug on the cable to operably connect the cable to the chair.

5. The chair of claim 1, wherein the cable unit in the chair has a cover adapted to allow access to the cable unit.

6. The chair of claim 1, wherein the cable unit includes a spool on which a section of the cable is wrapped in the retracted position.

7. The chair of claim 1, wherein the cable unit includes a tensioning spring communicating with a spool for wrapping the cable in a retracted position.

8. The chair of claim 1, wherein the cable unit includes a ratchet to hold the cable in the extended position.

9. The chair of claim 1, wherein the plug is a stereo plug.

10. The chair of claim 1, wherein the chair has a holder adapted for a portable musical unit.

11. The chair of claim 1, wherein the chair detects when the plug is connected to a portable media unit.

12. The chair of claim 1, wherein the chair has an audio source.

13. The chair of claim 1, including a port that can removably receive the cable unit.

14. The chair of claim 1, wherein the chair has at least one speaker and the audio signal is provided to the speaker.

15. The chair of claim 1, wherein the chair is a massage chair.

16. The chair of claim 15, wherein the massage chair uses the audio signal to control a massage.

17. The chair of claim 1, wherein the cable unit is in an arm rest.

18. A chair comprising: at least one speaker; and a cable unit, the cable unit including a connection cable with a plug adapted to be connected to a portable media unit to provide an audio signal to the speaker, wherein the cable is movable between an extended position and a retracted position, wherein a portion of the cable is extended outside of the cable unit in the extended position.

19. A method for manufacturing a chair comprising: attaching a cable unit receptacle to an arm of the chair, attaching a speaker to the chair, assembling the chair such that the cable unit is adapted to communicate a signal to the speaker.

20. The method for manufacturing a chair of claim 19, further comprising inserting into the cable unit receptacle a cable unit, the cable unit including a connection cable with a plug adapted to be connected to a portable media unit to provide an audio signal to the speaker, wherein the cable is movable between an extended position and a retracted position, wherein a portion of the cable is extended outside of the cable unit in the extended position.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

Portable media units such as MP3 players and other digital and/or analog music players have become quite popular in recent years. Some portable music players use a hard disk or flash memory to store music files, such as MP3s. Such portable music players use these music files to create an audio signal. The audio signal created by the portable media unit is typically sent to a headphone output jack on the portable media unit. Headphones or an external speaker can be plugged into the headphone output jack so that the user can listen to the music. Some portable media units also have proprietary connections for use in transferring music files and signals as well as providing power to the portable media unit.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A and 1B are perspective views of a device with a speaker of one embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate a device with a retractable cable unit of one embodiment of the present invention; FIG. 2A shows the cable in a retracted position and FIG. 2B shows the cable in an extended position.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional diagram of an exemplary retractable cable unit of one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a exploded diagram of components of the retractable cable unit of one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a diagram that illustrates an embodiment where the plug fits against a surface shaped to hold the plug.

FIG. 6A is a perspective view of a retractable cable unit of one embodiment.

FIG. 6B is a diagram of a retractable cable module that fits in a slot of a device with a speaker.

FIG. 7 illustrates a retractable cable unit attached to the outside of the housing of a device with a speaker.

FIG. 8 illustrates a device with a speaker having a recess for storing a cable for connection to a portable media unit.

FIGS. 9A-9C illustrate holders for a portable media unit including a retractable cable unit.

FIG. 10A illustrates a chair with a retractable cable unit.

FIG. 10B illustrates a chair with a port connector for a portable media unit.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Embodiments of the present invention concern a retractable cable unit attached to the housing of a device including at least one speaker. The retractable cable unit can include a connection cable with a plug connectable to a portable media unit to provide an audio signal to the at least one speaker. The cable can be moveable between an extended position and a retracted position.

The retractable cable unit allows the user to extend the cable from the device to the portable media unit. The user need not plug the cable into the device each time a connection is to be made, nor need there be any loose wires connected to the back of the device. The retractable cable unit can use a tensioning spring to wind the cable in from the extended position to the retracted position. The housing of the device can also include a mount for the portable media unit.

Further embodiments of the invention include a portable music player mount that is adapted to be removably or permanently positioned on a device with a speaker, and wherein the mount incorporates a retractable cable unit with a plug connectable to a portable media unit such as a portable music player. Still further embodiments of the invention include a retractable cable unit that can be selectable and removably mounted into a port of a housing of a device with at least one speaker. Insertion of the retractable unit can simultaneously make electrical contact between contacts on the outside of the retractable cable unit and the port of the housing.

As depicted on FIGS. 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B, one embodiment of the present invention is a device comprising a housing, at least one speaker within the housing and a retractable cable unit attached to the housing. The retractable cable unit can include a connection cable with a plug connectable to a portable media unit to provide an audio signal to the at least one speaker. The cable is movable between an extended position and a retracted position. Preferably, a portion of the cable is extended outside of the retractable cable unit in the extended position, but, preferably, not in the retracted position. In one embodiment, the retractable cable unit is positioned within the housing. In one embodiment, the retractable cable unit is permanently affixed on or in the housing with the speaker. In another embodiment the retractable cable unit is removably positionable on or in the housing with the speaker.

FIGS. 1A and 1B illustrate an embodiment of a device 100 including at least one speaker 102. Embodiments of devices with speakers can include tape players, CD players, stand-alone speakers, radios, sound generators, audio-visual systems and the like. FIGS. 1A and 1B illustrate an embodiment in which a portable media unit 106 can be positioned on the device 100 in a holder 108. The portable media unit 106 can be any portable unit including an MP3 player, a radio, a Compact Disk (CD) player or a video player, such as a portable digital video player that stores digital video files (An audio component of the video signal can be played through the speakers 102). In this embodiment, the holder includes a well or recess 109 which is adapted to receive the bottom of the portable media unit as well as backrest 113 (FIG. 2A) against which the portable music player can lean against.

FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrates the movement of a cable from the retracted position to the extended position. As shown in FIG. 2A, in the retracted position, the plug 110 can be positioned adjacent to the housing of the device 100. The plug 110 can be positioned in a recess 111. As shown in FIG. 2B, the cable 112 can be pulled out so that the plug 110 can be connected to the portable media unit 106. In one embodiment, the retractable cable unit can allow for the cable to be extended to a variety of lengths so there is effectively a range of extended positions. The cable 112 can transfer an audio signal which can be any type of analog or digital audio signal or file. In one embodiment, the plug 110 is a stereo music plug, such as a 3.5 mm stereo plug. In some embodiments, the plug and cable may also transfer power to the portable music player 106.

In one embodiment, the device 100 auto-detects when the plug 110 is connected to the portable media unit 106. This can be done by detecting when the plug 110 is placed within a jack of the portable media unit 106, by detecting a signal from the portable media unit 106, or by some other means. When the device 100 detects that the plug is connected to the portable media unit 106, the device can interrupt any other audio sources of the device 110. Alternately, the device can wait until the audio signal is detected from the portable media unit to interrupt any other audio source. The retractable cable unit can act as an auxiliary audio input for the device.

FIG. 3 illustrates an exemplary retractable cable unit of one embodiment of the present invention. People skilled in the art will understand that alternate retractable cable unit designs can be used. In the example of FIG. 3, the retractable cable unit includes a coiled tensioning spring 122, such as a coiled tensioning spring. The tensioning spring 122 can be used to wind up the cable on the spool 124. The other end 126 of the cable can be permanently attached to the electronics of the device or can have a second plug to plug into a jack of the device. As the wire 112 is pulled from the retractable cable unit 120, the tensioning spring 122 stores energy. The tensioning spring 122 can use this stored energy to pull in the cable from the extended position to the retracted position.

The retractable cable unit 120 can include a ratchet (not shown) for holding the cable 112 in an extended position. The ratchet can be operably connected to the spool 124 to hold the spool and thus the cable in the extended position. When the ratchet is disengaged, the cable can then be pulled back into the retractable cable unit under the tension provided by the tensioning spring 122. The ratchet can be disengaged using an external button or by slightly pulling on the cable.

FIG. 4 illustrates an exploded view of components of the retractable unit of one embodiment, illustrating the tensioning spring 122 and the spool 124. The tensioning spring 122 can be a metal ribbon coil that is connected to the spool 124.

FIG. 5 illustrates an embodiment where the plug 110 fits against a surface shaped to hold the plug 110. A door 111 can be used to provide access to the plug 110. The door 111 can tilt, pivot, slide or open in some other fashion. A mechanism can be used such that when the plug or door is pushed on, the plug is released freeing some of cable so that the cable can be easily removed. Such a mechanism can include a latch with a spring.

The retractable cable unit 120 can be removable from the device. FIG. 6A illustrates an example in which the retractable cable unit is a removable module 190. In this example, the module 190 can be screwed into the housing of the device. In one embodiment, a second plug 192 of the module can connect to the device. After the module 190 is partially removed from the device, the plug 192 can be unplugged from the device. This can allow for easy service or replacement of the module 190. In one embodiment, the housing can have a door to allow access to the retractable cable unit.

As shown in FIG. 6B, a module 200 with the retractable cable unit can fit into a slot 202 in the housing of the device 100. The module 200 can click into place or be held in place by friction. The module 200 can have a connector 204 on the module housing to operably connect to a connector 206 on the device 100. The connectors 204 and 206 can be used to transfer the audio signal from the module 200 into the device 100.

The device can also use other modules that fit into the same slot 202 of the device 100. For example, a female input module or other auxiliary input connection port module can be used interchangeably with the retractable cable unit module. The auxiliary input connection can be of the type found on the back of a conventional stereo sound system.

The retractable cable unit can be at least partially or completely within the housing as shown in FIG. 3. Alternately, as shown in FIG. 7, the retractable cable unit 194 can be attached to the outside of the device 100. The retractable cable unit 194 can be attached with a screws, bolts, sticky pads or adhesive to the outside of the housing. The retractable cable unit can use a second male plug to, for example, plug into an auxiliary input of the device or make some other operable connection to the device. In another embodiment, the retractable cable unit can be removably or permanently inserted into a port of the housing with the speaker.

In one embodiment, other ways of storing the cable in the housing of the device can be used. FIG. 8 illustrates one embodiment in which the device 100 includes a recess 184 for storing the cable 180 with the plug 182 within the housing. In one embodiment, the housing can include a door 186 that closes over the recess 184. The plug 182 can be removed from the housing and connected to the portable media unit 106 in an extended position. The cable 180 and plug 182 can be returned to the retracted position in the housing after use.

One embodiment of the present invention is a holder for a portable media unit comprising a holder body to receive a portable media unit and a retractable cable unit within the holder body. The retractable cable unit can include a connection cable to transfer an audio signal. The cable is movable between an extended position and a retracted position. A portion of the cable is extended outside of the holder body in the extended position, but preferably not in the retracted position.

FIGS. 9A-9C illustrate an embodiment in which a holder 150 for a portable musical device 160 includes a holder body to receive the portable media unit 160. In the example of FIG. 9A, the holder 150 has a connector 156 to receive a connection on the bottom of the portable media unit 160. The connector can include connections for audio signal transfer and power. The retractable cable unit can be used with a cable 152 to transfer both the audio signal and the power. The plug 154 can then be connected to a device with speakers to play music from the portable media unit 160 while providing power and recharging the portable musical unit 160. In the example of FIG. 9A, a sticky pad 151 can be used to connect the holder 150 to a device. Other mechanisms including bolts and/or other fastening devices can be used to secure the holder 150 to, for example, a housing with a speaker. Further it is to be understood that the base 155 can be weighted to allow the holder 150 to stand upright on a surface with out the need to secure the holder 150 to the surface with a sticky pad, bolts or any other mechanism. In this case a sticky pad or other securing mechanism of the holder 150 could be removed as desired. The example shown in FIG. 9A-9C shows a backrest on the holder for the portable media unit 160. The backrest is not required. The retractable cable unit can be positioned in a base 155 of the holder. The retractable cable unit can be removable from the holder for servicing. In one embodiment, in the retracted position, when the plug is pushed on, a mechanism releases some of the cable so that the cable can be easily removed. The retraction mechanism depicted in FIG. 3 can be used in the embodiment of FIG. 9A to store and selectively deploy the cable 152. In one embodiment, the connection cable is used for connecting to a device with a speaker.

As shown in FIG. 9B, in one embodiment, the holder 150 can be part of device 166 with a speaker. In this embodiment, the retractable cable unit can provide a stereo cable 162 and plug 164 for connecting to a jack on the top of the portable media unit 160. The device 166 can include speakers to play music from the portable media unit.

FIG. 9C illustrates an embodiment in which the holder 150 has a second connection cable 174. The second connection cable 174 can be connected to the speaker output jack of the portable media unit 160. The signal can then go through the retractable cable unit 150 to plug 172 which can be connected to a device with speakers. In one embodiment, the second connection cable 174 does not retract. In another embodiment, the second connection cable can retract. In this embodiment, the retractable cable unit can be a dual retraction unit.

FIG. 10A illustrates a chair 300 with a retractable cable unit 302. In one embodiment, the chair 300 comprises a back portion 304; a seat portion 306; and a retractable cable unit 302. The retractable cable unit 302 can include a connection cable with a plug 310 adapted to be connected to a portable media unit 312 to provide an audio signal to the chair 300, wherein the cable is movable between an extended position and a retracted position, wherein a portion of the cable is extended outside of the retractable cable unit in the extended position.

In one embodiment, the chair 300 has at least one speaker 314 and 316 and the audio signal is provided to the at least one speaker 314 and 316. The at least one speaker 314 and 316 can be in the back portion 304.

The chair 300 can be a massage chair. The audio signal can be sent to control a massage. For example, message chair can vibrate at a rate corresponding to a base portion of the audio signal.

The retractable cable unit 302 can be in a console 320. In one example, the console 320 is in the armrest 322. In the example of FIG. 10A, the armrest 324 includes another console 326.

The retractable cable unit 302 can be removable. The retractable cable unit can be screwed on to the chair 300. As shown in FIGS. 3, 4 and 6A, the retractable cable unit 302 can have another plug on the cable to operably connect the cable to the chair. The chair 300 can have at least one door to allow for access to the retractable cable unit 302.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the retractable cable unit can include as spool on which a section of the cable is wrapped in the retracted position. The retractable cable unit can include a tensioning spring. The tensioning spring can be used to wind up the cable on the spool. The retractable cable unit can include a ratchet to hold the cable in the extended position.

The plug can be a stereo plug. The chair 300 can include holder 328 adapted for a portable musical unit 312. The chair 300 can auto detect when the plug is connected to a portable media unit. The chair 300 can have an audio source within the housing. Similar to FIG. 6B, a port that can removably receive the retractable cable unit.

FIG. 10B illustrates a chair 300 with a port connector for a portable media unit. The chair 300 can comprise a seat portion 306; and a mount 330 adapted to receive a portable media unit, the mount 330 including a connector 332 adapted to receive an audio signal from the portable media unit.

The mount 330 can be a recess in the console 320 that can receive a portable music unit. The connector 332 can be fixed within the mount 330 to connect with a connector on the portable media player.

In one embodiment, the connector 332 can also be adapted to provide power to the portable media unit. The 32-pin port connector used with iPodsĀ® is an example of such a connector that can provide both power and an audio signal. The chair 300 can include a wall socket plug and a transformer to provide the power to the portable media unit.

The chair 300 can have a holder adapted for a portable musical unit. The chair 300 can have an additional audio source.

The chair can have at least one speaker 314 and 316 and the audio signal can be provided to the at least one speaker 314 and 316. The at least one speaker 314 and 316 can be in a back portion 304 of the chair.

The chair 300 can be a massage chair. The massage chair can use the audio signal to control a massage.

The portable media unit can be an MP3 player, a portable video player, a portable music player or the like.

The foregoing description of preferred embodiments of the present invention has been provided for the purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Many embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application, thereby enabling others skilled in the art to understand the invention for various embodiments and with various modifications that are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the claims and their equivalents.