Title:
Entertainment device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An entertainment device including a housing coupled to a frame is disclosed. The frame includes end stanchions, stylized as a character and including at least one of a head portion and a torso portion, that are adapted to connect to the housing. The device further includes one or more interactive features such as hanging elements. The frame is configured to support the housing above a supporting surface such that an infant may be placed on the supporting surface, between the end stanchions and below the housing. With this configuration, the infant is capable of interacting with the hanging elements.



Inventors:
Snyder, Carol D. (East Aurora, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/068038
Publication Date:
09/07/2006
Filing Date:
03/01/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/00
View Patent Images:
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20060183401Ball toy setAugust, 2006Todokoro
20040005841SPINNING ILLUMINATED NOVELTY DEVICE AND ITS ASSOCIATED METHOD OF MANUFACTUREJanuary, 2004Chernick et al.
20070032165Bot and baby botFebruary, 2007Wilson et al.
20030220045Hipp skipNovember, 2003Haynes
20080026664Toy propeller with sound-emitting device and method of making thereofJanuary, 2008Rosenblum et al.
20080274666GAME CALL HOLDERNovember, 2008Weider



Primary Examiner:
HYLINSKI, ALYSSA MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
EDELL, SHAPIRO & FINNAN, LLC (Gaithersburg, MD, US)
Claims:
1. An infant gym comprising: a housing supporting at least one hanging entertainment element; and a support frame including a support member stylized as a first character including a head portion coupled to the housing and a leg portion configured to engage a supporting surface, said support frame positioning said housing above the supporting surface to enable an infant to be positioned on said supporting surface and beneath said housing so that the infant is capable of interacting with the hanging entertainment element.

2. The infant gym of claim 1, wherein said first character is an animal.

3. (canceled)

4. The infant gym of claim 1, wherein said support member includes a recess operable to receive a portion of said housing to removably connect said housing to said support member.

5. The infant gym of claim 1, wherein said first character is a humanoid figure.

6. The infant gym of claim 1, wherein said at least one hanging entertainment element is stylized as a second character having at least one of a head portion and a torso portion.

7. The infant gym of claim 6, wherein said second character is an animal.

8. The infant gym of claim 6, wherein said second character is a humanoid figure.

9. The infant gym of claim 2, wherein said first character is an elephant.

10. The infant gym of claim 2, wherein said first character is a giraffe.

11. The infant gym of claim 1, wherein said support frame includes: a first support member stylized as a first character having a head portion coupled to the housing and a leg portion configured to engage a supporting surface; and a second support member stylized as the first character having a head portion coupled to the housing and a leg portion configured to engage the supporting surface, wherein both support members extend upward from said supporting surface.

12. The infant gym of claim 11, wherein said housing includes a first terminal end connected to said first support member and a second terminal end connected to said second support member, and wherein said first support member, said second support member, and said housing are operably arranged to enable an infant to be positioned on said supporting surface between said first support member and said second support member.

13. An entertainment device comprising: an activity bar including at least one hanging entertainment element suspended therefrom; and a support frame configured to position said activity bar above a supporting surface including a support member stylized as a first character including a head portion, a torso portion, and a leg portion configured to engage said supporting surface, wherein said entertainment device is operably arranged to enable an infant to be positioned on said supporting surface proximate said activity bar and to interact with said at least one hanging element.

14. The entertainment device of claim 13, wherein said first character is an animal.

15. The entertainment device of claim 13, wherein said first character is a humanoid figure.

16. The entertainment device of claim 13, wherein said at least one hanging entertainment element is stylized as second character having at least one of a head portion, a torso portion, and a leg portion.

17. The entertainment device of claim 16, wherein said second character is a humanoid figure.

18. The entertainment device of claim 13, wherein said first character is an elephant.

19. The entertainment device of claim 14, wherein said first character is a giraffe.

20. The entertainment device of claim 13, wherein said support frame includes a first support member and a second support member, both support members extending upward from said supporting surface.

21. The entertainment device of claim 20, wherein said activity bar includes a first end connected to said first support member, and a second end connected to said second support member; wherein said first support member, said second support member, and said activity bar are operably arranged to enable an infant to be positioned on said supporting surface between said first support member and said second support member, and proximate said activity bar.

22. The entertainment device of claim 13, wherein said activity bar is detachable from said support frame.

23. The entertainment device of claim 13, wherein said activity bar is connected to said support frame proximate said head portion.

24. The entertainment device of claim 13, wherein said leg portion is positioned proximate said supporting surface.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an entertainment device including a housing supported by a frame stylized as a character and, in particular, to an infant gym including an activity bar and a support frame stylized as a character, wherein an infant may be positioned within the frame and below the activity bar. The activity bar may further include interactive toys such as hanging elements suspended from the bar.

BACKGROUND

Infants develop by interacting with their surrounding environment. Sensory stimuli are an infant's first sources of learning (infants learn through audio and visual stimulation related to different fields of experience). For example, seeing bright colors, bold patterns, and moving elements fosters development of visual tracking skills. Listening to music and sounds stimulates auditory skills, while touching materials of varying texture enhances tactile skills. Each of these activities, moreover, encourages an infant to use and develop its cognitive skills to differentiate among various sights, sounds, and textures. Consequently, toys are often developed to create varied interactive, sensory experiences for an infant. For example, infant gyms enhance both visual and auditory skills through stimulation by providing an infant an opportunity to use her senses while interacting with the gym. Infant gyms provide neurological stimulation, as well as develop an infant's motor and cognitive skills. Specifically, an infant gym with enhanced visual appeal, different textures, and busy activities stimulates the infant's senses, and thus her sensory development. Furthermore, infant gyms encourage an infant to kick, reach, and bat at hanging toys, developing motor skills. In addition, the infant's ability to repeatedly make things happen helps an infant understand cause and effect. Increasing interaction with an infant gym is desirable because it increases the infant's potential for learning. The more visually appealing a toy is to the child, the more the child is likely to identify that toy as a source of entertainment. Thus, it would be desirable to provide a more visually appealing toy including interactive features configured to encourage a child to use her senses. In particular, it is desirable to provide an entertainment device or toy including activities with which a child can interact to develop cognitive and/or motor skills.

The present invention is directed generally to an entertainment device or toy including a housing coupled to a frame having end stanchions stylized as a character or figure. The entertainment device further includes one or more interactive features such as hanging elements. The frame is configured to support the housing above a surface and to permit an infant to be placed on the surface and within the frame. As a result, the infant is capable of contacting the interactive features of the entertainment device.

SUMMARY

Generally, the embodiments of the present invention provide an entertainment device (e.g., an infant gym) including a housing supported by a frame stylized as a character and, in particular, to an infant gym including an activity bar and a support frame stylized as a character, wherein an infant may be positioned within the frame and below the activity bar.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a front perspective view of an entertainment device according to an embodiment of the present invention including a support frame connected to a housing.

FIG. 2 illustrates a side perspective view of the entertainment device of FIG. 1, showing an end stanchion stylized as a character.

FIG. 3A illustrates an isolated view in elevation of a support frame end stanchion of the entertainment device of FIG. 1, showing the exterior of the end stanchion in greater detail.

FIG. 3B illustrates an isolated view in elevation of a support frame end stanchion of the entertainment device of FIG. 1, showing the interior of the end stanchion in greater detail.

FIG. 4 illustrates a close-up perspective view of the end stanchion of FIG. 3B, showing a connection mechanism for receiving the housing of the device, the connection mechanism being located on the head portion of the end stanchion.

FIG. 5 illustrates a top perspective view of the end stanchion of FIG. 3B, showing a close-up of the connection mechanism.

FIG. 6 illustrates an isolated perspective view of the housing of the entertainment device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 illustrates a close-up view of a terminal end of the housing of FIG. 6.

FIGS. 8A and 8C illustrate close-up views of the entertainment device of FIG. 1, showing the mating relationship between a terminal end of the housing and the connection mechanism located on the end stanchions of the support frame.

FIG. 8B illustrates a front perspective view of the device of FIG. 1, showing the connecting relationship between the housing and the support frame according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 illustrates an isolated view in elevation of one of the hanging elements of the device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 10 illustrates a close-up view of an attachment point on the housing of FIG. 6, showing the connection of a hanging element to the attachment point.

Like reference numerals have been used to identify like elements throughout this disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In accordance with the present invention, an entertainment device including a support portion and a housing coupled to the support portion is disclosed. The support portion elevates the housing over a surface such that, when an infant is placed on the surface, the infant may interact with interactive elements disposed on the housing.

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of an entertainment device according to an embodiment of the present invention. In the embodiment shown, the entertainment device 10 includes a support section 100, a housing 200, and interactive toys or hanging elements 400 suspended from the housing 200. The support section 100 may include a structure configured to position the housing 200 above a surface and enable an infant to interact with the hanging elements 400. As shown in the embodiment of FIG. 1, the support section 100 comprises a frame including at least one support portion or end stanchion. Preferably, the support section 100 includes a first end stanchion 110A and a second end stanchion 110B extending upward from a supporting surface. The end stanchions 110A, 110B may be positioned at the terminal ends of the housing 200. The support section 100, however, is not limited to the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1. With this configuration, an infant may be placed on the supporting surface, between the end stanchions 110A, 110B and underneath the housing 200.

The end stanchions 110A, 110B include a structure operable to stably support the housing 200 above a supporting surface. Referring to FIG. 2, which illustrates a side perspective view of the entertainment device 10 of FIG. 1, the end stanchions 110A, 110B may include an exterior surface 120 (i.e., a surface facing away from the housing 200) and an interior surface 130 (i.e., a surface facing toward the housing 200). FIGS. 3A and 3B provide isolated views of the exterior 120 and interior 130 surfaces, respectively, of end stanchions 110A, 110B according to an embodiment of the present invention. As illustrated, the end stanchions 110A, 110B may comprise a generally planar structure including a raised border or lip 335 extending transversely about the periphery of the end stanchion 110A, 110B.

The end stanchion 110A is preferably stylized as a character. Stylizing the end stanchion 110A or 110B as a character increases the educational value of the entertainment device 10 because, as explained above, the more visually appealing the entertainment device 10 is to a child, the more the child is likely to identify the entertainment device 10 as a source of entertainment. This, in turn, increases the potential for learning, since an infant will want to increase her interaction with the entertainment device 10. The choice of character stylization is not limited, and includes domestic animals (e.g., a cat or a dog), wild animals (e.g., a giraffe or elephant), comic book characters, cartoon characters, and humanoid figures. By way of example, and as shown in FIG. 3A, the end stanchions 110A, 110B may comprise an animal such as an elephant.

The end stanchion 110A, 110B may comprise a lower or leg portion 305, a middle or torso portion 315, and an upper or head portion 325. The leg portion 305 of the end stanchion 110A, 110B is configured to contact a supporting surface such as a floor or table. In the embodiment of FIGS. 3A and 3B, the leg portion 305 includes a forward leg 305B and a rear leg 305A (i.e., the front and back legs of the elephant) that contact the supporting surface. The torso portion 315 connects the leg portions 305A, 305B with the head portion 325. The torso portion 315 may include one or more apertures or portals 345 to facilitate the unobscured viewing of an infant therethrough. The apertures 345 may further function as an attachment point for interactive features such as hanging elements 400 (shown in FIG. 1), and may include a raised border or lip 355 extending about the periphery of the aperture 345 to create a ledge that assists in the attachment of an hanging element 400 (as discussed below).

The head portion 325 includes a structure configured to removably secure a portion of the housing 200 to the end stanchion 110A, 110B. Referring to FIG. 3B, the head portion 325 includes a connection member 365 disposed on the interior surface 130 of end stanchions 110A, 110B. The connection member 365 may be positioned along the upper part of the head portion 325 proximate its center. FIG. 4 is a close-up view of the connection member 365 shown in FIG. 3B. The connection member 365 may comprise a casing 370 including a recess or channel 375 extending longitudinally from an opening 380 positioned along the top of the casing 370 to a position proximate the bottom of the casing 370. The channel 375 is configured to receive a tab or rib extending from a terminal end of the housing 200 (discussed in greater detail below). A pair of guide posts 385 may extend upward from the upper surface of the casing 370, positioned proximate the sides of the channel 375 to further define the opening 380. The guide posts 385 may be configured to direct a terminal end of the housing 200 into the channel 375.

FIG. 5 is a top perspective view of the end stanchion of FIG. 3B, showing the top portion of the connection member 365. As shown, the lip 335 of the end stanchions 110A, 110B may include a cut-away portion that exposes the top of the connection member 365. The casing 370 may be spaced from the interior surface 130 of the end stanchion 110A, 110B to define a gap 395. The gap 395 is sized and configured to slidably receive an outermost edge of a terminal end of the housing 200 (discussed in greater detail below). The gap 395 may run axially along the length of the casing 370.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a housing 200 according to an embodiment of the invention. The housing 200 includes a structure configured to support an interactive feature. As shown in FIG. 6, the housing 200 may comprise an activity bar configured to receive and suspend hanging elements 400. The housing 200 is not limited to the illustrated configuration, and may include various shapes and sizes, including stylizations as an animal or humanoid figure. In other embodiments, the housing 200 may contain electronic sensory stimulating devices such microprocessors, animation devices, lights, sound producing devices, etc.

The housing 200 may include a central portion 205 terminating in a first end 210A and a second end 210B. The size and shape of the central portion 205 is not limited to that which is illustrated. The central portion 205 may include a handle 215 to permit a user to manipulate and carry the entertainment device 10. The central portion 205 may also include at least one attachment point 220 for the at least one hanging element 400. By way of example, the housing 200 may include a recessed portion sized and configured to receive a generally C-shaped clasp that supports a hanging element 400 (discussed in greater detail below).

The ends 210A, 210B of the housing 200 include a structure configured to engage the connection member 365 of the end stanchions 110A, 110B (see FIG. 4) and to secure the housing 200 to the end stanchions 110A, 110B. FIG. 7 is close-up, perspective view of the first terminal end 210A of housing 200. Each of the terminal ends 210A, 210B may include a generally T-shaped configuration comprising an outermost edge 230 with a tab or rib 240 extending perpendicularly from the proximate center of the edge 230. With this configuration, the terminal ends 210A, 210B of the housing 200 are capable of mating with the connection member 365 of the end stanchions 110A, 110B of the support section 100. The terminal end configuration of the housing 200 is not limited to that shown in FIG. 7, and may include other configurations operable to secure the housing 200 to the support section 100.

FIGS. 8A, 8B, and 8C illustrate the connection of the housing 200 to the support section 100 and, in particular, the relationship between the terminal ends 210A, 210B of the housing 200 and the end stanchions 110A, 110B. The outermost edge 230 of the housing terminal end 210A, 210B may be configured to slide into the gap 395 of the connection member 365. Similarly, the rib 240 may be configured to slide into and along the channel 375 of the connection member 365. In operation, and as shown in FIG. 8A, a terminal end 210A is positioned such that the edge 230 aligns with the gap 395 and the rib 240 aligns with the channel 375. The guide posts 385 help to guide the terminal end 210A axially into the channel 375 of the connection member 365. Referring now to FIG. 8B, once each terminal end 210A, 210B of housing 200 is aligned with a corresponding opening 380 of an end stanchion 110A, 110B, a downward force F is applied to the housing 200, urging the terminal ends 210A, 210B along the channel 375 and into the gap 395. The terminal ends 210A, 210B travel along the channel 375 (shown in FIG. 8C), and may be inserted until the ends 210A, 210B extend completely into the channel 375 (as shown in shown in FIG. 1).

To separate the housing 200 from the support section 100, a reverse (upward) force is applied to pull the terminal ends 210A, 210B along the channel 375 and axially remove the ends 210A, 210B from the connection members 365. With this configuration, the housing 200 can be separated from and attached to the support section 100 whenever desired. In addition, the resulting structure created enables an infant to be positioned on a supporting surface between the end stanchions 110A, 110B and beneath the housing 200. Such a configuration permits an infant to interact with hanging elements 400 by, e.g., contacting the elements 400.

FIG. 9 shows a side view in elevation of a hanging element 400 according to an embodiment of the invention. The hanging element 400 may comprise an entertainment feature adapted to attach to the housing 200. By way of example, the hanging element 400 may include a character 410 comprising a head portion, a torso portion, and/or a leg portion. By way of further example, the character may be stylized as character such as domestic animals (e.g., a cat or a dog), wild animals (e.g., a giraffe), comic book characters, cartoon characters, and humanoid figures. The hanging element 400 may further include various colors, may be made of any suitable material (including teethable material), and may include materials having varying textures. The hanging elements 400 may further include noisemakers such as squeakers and rattles, as well as other entertainment features including, but not limited to, spinning portions, mirrors, lights, etc. The hanging element 400 may be stylized as a character the same or different from that of the end stanchions 110A, 110B.

The hanging element 400 may further include an attachment member 420 configured to engage the housing 200 and/or the support section 100. Preferably, the attachment member 420 may comprise a flexible clasp that can be manipulated so as to attach the hanging element 400 to (or remove from) the housing 200 and/or the support section 100. The attachment member 420 may be permanently attached to the character 410, or may be made detachable, e.g., by means of a fabric loop. By way of specific example, the attachment member 420 may comprise an annular clasp with an interruption along the clasp (i.e., the clasp has a generally C-shaped structure). A commercially available attachment member 420 suitable for attaching the hanging elements 400 to the entertainment device 10 is sold under the trade name of Link-a-Doos™ Links, produced by Fisher-Price, Inc. (East Aurora, N.Y.).

As discussed above, the housing 200 also includes at least one attachment point 220 for the hanging element 400. FIG. 10 illustrates a close-up view of an attachment point 220 of the housing 200 according to an embodiment of the invention. As shown, the attachment point 220 includes a recess configured to receive the ends of the flexible attachment member 420.

While the invention has been described in detail and with reference to specific embodiments thereof, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope thereof. For example, it is to be understood that terms such as “top”, “bottom”, “front”, “rear”, “side”, “height”, “length”, “width”, “upper”, “lower”, “interior”, “exterior”, “inner”, “outer”, and the like as may be used herein, merely describe points of reference and do not limit the present invention to any particular orientation or configuration. The support section 100, the housing 200, and the interactive elements 400 can be of any shape and size, including cartoon characters, humanoid figures, vehicles (cars, space ships), animals, and geometric shapes. The support section 100, the housing 200, and the interactive features 400 may be stylized as the same or different characters. The housing 200 may include an activity bar with toys suspended therefrom, or may include a sensory output generating devices such as speakers, lights, etc. The housing 200 may or may not be configured to detach from the support section 100. The number of end stanchions or support portions 110A, 110B forming the support section 100 is not limited. The number of attachment points 220 on the housing 200 is not limited. Similarly, the number of interactive elements 400 attachable to the housing 200 is not limited. Thus, it is intended that the present invention covers the modifications and variations of this invention that come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.