Title:
Pedestrian air bag device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pedestrian air bag device includes a housing for at least one air bag; an attachment connected to the housing for attachment to a pedestrian; the air bag(s) contained with a compressed gas chamber for release of compressed gas into and deployment of the air bag(s); and sensor(s) and release mechanism connected to the compressed gas chamber for opening it in response to the sensor(s) sensing a predetermined change in a physical characteristic, such as a predetermined change that is selected from the group consisting of an angle change of a predetermined angle, an altitude change of a predetermined altitude characteristic, or a combination thereof For example, it may be a predetermined change in an angle of at least 45 degrees. Alternatively, it could be a predetermined altitude characteristic change could be a decrease in gravitational pull or a negative difference in actual altitude measurements.



Inventors:
Mahoney, Jerome R. (Colts Neck, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/087055
Publication Date:
09/28/2006
Filing Date:
03/23/2005
Assignee:
iVoice, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41D13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PATEL, TAJASH D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kenneth P. Glynn (Flemington, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A pedestrian air bag device, which comprises: (a) a containment and deployment housing for at least one air bag; (b) attachment means connected to said housing for attachment to a pedestrian; (c) said at least one air bag contained within said housing and having at least one compressed gas chamber for release of compressed gas into and deployment of said at least one air bag; and (d) at least one sensor and release mechanism connected to said compressed gas chamber for opening said at least one compressed gas chamber in response to said at least one sensor sensing a predetermined change in a physical characteristic.

2. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 1 wherein said predetermined change is selected from the group consisting of an angle change of a predetermined angle, an altitude change of a predetermined altitude characteristic, or a combination thereof

3. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 2 wherein said predetermined change is an angle change of at least 45 degrees.

4. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 2 wherein said predetermined change is an altitude characteristic change selected from the group consisting of decrease in gravitational pull and negative difference in actual altitude measurements.

5. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 1 wherein said attachment means is selected from the group consisting of apparel and strapping.

6. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 5 wherein said apparel is selected from the group consisting of a jacket, a vest, top outerwear, pants and jumpsuit.

7. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 1 wherein said at least one air bag is adapted and positioned to be deployed in an area of a pedestrian selected from the group consisting of chest, neck, head, back and side.

8. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 7 wherein there is at least a second air bag that is adapted and positioned to be deployed in an area of a pedestrian selected from the group consisting of buttock, arms, knees, ankles and thighs.

9. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 1 wherein there is an on/off mechanism to deactivate all sensors of said at least one sensor so that a pedestrian may wear said device when not in harms way and when intentionally effecting an otherwise sensed physical characteristic.

10. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 1 wherein said at least one air bag, said at least one sensor and said at least one compressed gas chamber are modular and removeable from said housing and are replaceable.

11. A pedestrian air bag device, which comprises: (a) a containment and deployment housing for at least one air bag; (b) attachment means connected to said housing for attachment to a pedestrian; (c) said at least one air bag contained within said housing and having at least one compressed gas chamber for release of compressed gas into and deployment of said at least one air bag; (d) at least one sensor and release mechanism connected to said compressed gas chamber for opening said at least one compressed gas chamber in response to said at least one sensor sensing a predetermined change in a physical characteristic; and (e) an alarm mechanism attached to said at least one sensor and release mechanism, said alarm mechanism adapted activate when said compressed gas is released and said at least one air bag is deployed, and to send a wireless signal to a receiver for response.

12. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 11 wherein said predetermined change is selected from the group consisting of an angle change of a predetermined angle, an altitude change of a predetermined altitude characteristic, or a combination thereof.

13. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 12 wherein said predetermined change is an angle change of at least 45 degrees.

14. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 12 wherein said predetermined change is an altitude characteristic change selected from the group consisting of decrease in gravitational pull and negative difference in actual altitude measurements.

15. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 11 wherein said attachment means is selected from the group consisting of apparel and strapping.

16. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 15 wherein said apparel is selected from the group consisting of a jacket, a vest, top outerwear, pants and jumpsuit.

17. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 11 wherein said at least one air bag is adapted and positioned to be deployed in an area of a pedestrian selected from the group consisting of chest, neck, head, back and side.

18. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 17 wherein there is at least a second air bag that is adapted and positioned to be deployed in an area of a pedestrian selected from the group consisting of buttock, arms, knees, ankles and thighs.

19. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 11 wherein there is an on/off mechanism to deactivate all sensors of said at least one sensor so that a pedestrian may wear said device when not in harms way and when intentionally effecting an otherwise sensed physical characteristic.

20. The pedestrian air bag device of claim 11 wherein said at least one air bag, said at least one sensor and said at least one compressed gas chamber are modular and removeable from said housing and are replaceable.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the safety of elderly, disabled and other persons in potential harms way from falling. Thus, the present invention is a pedestrian air bag device adapted to deploy upon change in a condition, e.g., elevational change or angle change. The device is worn by the pedestrian and has one or more air bags that inflate to protect the user from injuries upon falling. The term “pedestrian” as used herein is intended to be broadly interpreted as a person not in a confined motor vehicle. Thus, pedestrian is meant to include persons who may or may not be ambulatory, but are not riding in a car or truck. “Pedestrian” includes any person not protected by a separate air bag. The user could be an ambulatory or non-ambulatory elder person, a person in a wheelchair or other confinement, a person working on a ladder, hoist, scaffold or other hazardous altitude, or even a fireman or a motorcycle rider. The device is worn by the user and has at least one sensor that will detect a characteristic change, such as a severe angle change (e.g. greater than 45 degrees) or negative altitude change (e.g. decrease in gravity pull). When the sensor is triggered, compressed air rapidly fills the air bags before the user hits the ground and reduces or prevents injury. An optional but very beneficial added feature is an alarm that wirelessly signals a fall to a receiving facility for possible response. This alarm may trigger a phone call, a GPS locating effort and transmission of assistance, a transmission to police, nursemaid, relative, ambulance or other assistance.

2. Information Disclosure Statement

The following patents are representative of prior art of interest to the present invention technology:

U.S. Pat. No. 4,737,994 to Harry A. Galton describes a garment for protecting a wearer against bone fracture resulting from accidental falling comprises an undergarment to which is applied pocket-forming fabric comprising a pair of portions forming pockets positioned so as to overlie opposite hip regions of the wearer and a connecting portion extending along the waist line of the garment and forming a passage joining the two pockets. A seam joins the pocket-forming fabric portion with the garment along the waist line and along outer, lower and inner margins of the pocket-forming portions. A lower edge of the connecting portion is left free from the garment to provide an entrance to the pockets. An impervious inflatable bag inserted through the entrance into the pockets has an inflatable cushion-forming portion in each pocket and a connecting portion joining the cushion-forming portions. The bag is inserted in deflated condition and is then inflated to provide over each hip region of the wearer an air cushion for cushioning the impact in the event of a fall.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,086,514 to Gary Ross describes an inflatable protective cushion to be worn by people in high speed and high impact sports such as snowboarding for cushioning the blow when falling on their rear, or for sitting on as a seat when working on their boot bindings. The inflatable protective cushion comprises a pouch made of flexible and non-stretchable fabric material. The pouch has at least four constricted compartments parallel to one another, each constricted compartment containing an inflatable membrane made of flexible impervious material, where the inflatable membrane is arranged in constricted configuration. The inflatable protective cushion further comprises a valve means for inflating the inflatable membrane and maintaining a desired pressure therein, and means for attaching the pouch to the wearer, such that each of the two opposite hip regions of the wearer's body is overlapped by at least two of the at least four constricted compartments of the pouch.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,150,767 to Ralph A. Miller describes an impact system that features an integral stored gas inflation source augmented by an ejector which entrains ambient air to rapidly deploy and inflate a safety cushion. The cushion has a plurality of chambers and each chamber is interconnected to an adjacent chamber by valves connected in opposing directions. When a particular cushion chamber is impacted, gas in the impacted chamber is forced via the valve arrangement into an adjacent lower pressure chamber. Upon the impacting object being removed from the cushion, the valve arrangement permits a reverse flow of gas to equilibrate the pressure in the adjacent chambers whereby the system is ready for accepting a subsequent impact without the need for reinflating the cushion. The system is of a size and weight so as to be within the limits of portability by a minimum of using personnel without being otherwise assisted.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,190,313 to Robert Hickling describes an impact cushioning device for use in preventing direct contact between terminal end portion of an elongated object and a person that may be driven toward the object of any reason. The cushioning device has application in a vehicle to protect an occupant from impacting an elongated object upon sudden deceleration of the vehicle and comprises an inflatable safety bag having a reservoir portion, a cushioning portion, and an elongated inflatable duct portion which provides fluid communication between the reservoir and the cushion. The duct portion includes flow baffles and orifices for restricting free-flow of pressurized gas between the reservoir and the cushion until the duct portion is substantially fully inflated and providing a pressure gradient from the cushion to the reservoir through a period in which impact can occur. The cushion includes two complementary sections which abut each other in an axial direction when the cushion is fully inflated, in which condition the cushion engages the terminal end of the elongated object. The complementary cushion sections abut along an interface that is interlocked to prevent separation of the cushion sections in the event of impact with the cushion by an object moving axially towards the cushion. The complementary cushion sections may also have an inflatable cover portion to prevent cushion separation and provide smoother surface for impact. The cushion is normally stowed at a position along the elongated object remote from the terminal end and, when inflated, moves over the terminal end and covers the latter.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,325,537 to Sebastino T. Marion describes an athletic safety jacket operable to reduce the shock to the body resulting from impact of a fast moving game projectile such as a hockey puck or baseball.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,558,395 to Yin-jun Huang describes an inflatable air cushion that has an integrally formed extension tube of zig-zag form with its free end attached to another cushion or to a pump assembly for inflating the cushion. By separating the limbs of the zig-zag tube, the cushions, or the cushion and pump assembly can be spaced apart at different distances to suit different applications. The pump may include a pressure limiting chamber integrated therewith for limiting the maximum inflation pressure of the cushion. In a preferred embodiment, the inflatable air cushion is shaped to fit a bicycle saddle.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,727,260 to Tia Torch et al. describes a garment for protecting the hip and coccyx area while roller blading without inhibiting the freedom of maneuverability. It comprises a generally triangular garment worn over the derriere increasing in thickness from the sides to the center and tapering down between the legs. Straps around the upper legs and waist secure it to the user.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,497,302 B2 to Shawn Gregory Ryan describes an air bag assembly for use in a vehicle at a location exterior to the passenger compartment. The air bag assembly includes an inflator for discharging inflation gas and a gas receiving expansible air bag cushion disposed in fluid communication with the inflator such that upon release of inflation gas from the inflator, the air bag cushion is deployed across a region immediately below the windshield of the vehicle as well as over the lower portion of the windshield and adjacent frame pillar elements surrounding the windshield. The extent of coverage over the windshield is such that the vehicle operator retains a degree of visibility over the deployed air bag cushion after deployment has taken place.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,564,387 B2 to Jo Ann Leigh Willoughby describes inflatable clothing that includes a garment having a manually inflatable air capsule. The air capsule may be pivotally mounted on the back panel of the garment so that the air capsule may be pivoted between a raised portion, wherein the capsule may be releasably secured by a fastener so as to remain in the raised position, and a lowered position disposed adjacent the buttocks of a user wearing the garment.

Notwithstanding the prior art, the present invention is neither taught nor rendered obvious thereby.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention pedestrian air bag device includes (a) a containment and deployment housing for at least one air bag; (b) attachment means connected to the housing for attachment to a pedestrian; (c) the air bag(s) contained within the housing and having at least one compressed gas chamber for release of compressed gas into and deployment of the air bag(s); and (d) at least one sensor and release mechanism connected to the compressed gas chamber for opening at least one compressed gas chamber in response to the sensor(s) sensing a predetermined change in a physical characteristic.

In some preferred embodiments, the present invention pedestrian air bag device senses a predetermined change that is selected from the group consisting of an angle change of a predetermined angle, an altitude change of a predetermined altitude characteristic, or a combination thereof For example, it may be a predetermined change in an angle of at least 45 degrees. Alternatively, it could be a predetermined altitude characteristic change that is selected from the group consisting of decrease in gravitational pull and negative difference in actual altitude measurements.

The pedestrian air bag device attachment means could be selected from the group consisting of apparel and strapping. The apparel could be selected from the group consisting of a jacket, a vest, top outerwear, pants and jumpsuit.

In some preferred embodiments, at least one air bag is adapted and positioned to be deployed in an area of a pedestrian selected from the group consisting of chest, neck, head, back and side. In other embodiments, there is also at least a second air bag that is adapted and positioned to be deployed in an area of a pedestrian selected from the group consisting of buttock, arms, knees, ankles and thighs.

An optional but useful on/off mechanism may be included to deactivate all sensors so that a pedestrian may wear the device when not in harms way and when intentionally effecting an otherwise sensed physical characteristic.

In some preferred embodiments of the pedestrian air bag device, the at least one air bag, the at least one sensor and the at least one compressed gas chamber are modular and removeable from the housing and are replaceable.

Another present invention pedestrian air bag device, has the features described above, namely, (a) a containment and deployment housing for at least one air bag; (b) attachment means connected to the housing for attachment to a pedestrian; (c) the at least one air bag contained within the housing and having at least one compressed gas chamber for release of compressed gas into and deployment of the at least one air bag, and (d) at least one sensor and release mechanism connected to the compressed gas chamber for opening the at least one compressed gas chamber in response to the at least one sensor sensing a predetermined change in a physical characteristic; and further includes (e) an alarm mechanism attached to the at least one sensor and release mechanism, the alarm mechanism adapted to activate when the compressed gas is released and the at least one air bag is deployed, and to send a wireless signal to a receiver for response.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention should be more fully understood when the specification herein is taken in conjunction with the drawings appended hereto wherein:

FIG. 1 shows a front view of a jump suit embodiment of a present invention pedestrian air bag device;

FIG. 2 diagrammatically illustrates one preferred arrangement of the functional components of a present invention pedestrian air bag device;

FIGS. 3 and 4 show side views of a standing and falling user of a present invention air bag device in the form of a vest device;

FIG. 5 illustrates a set of separate jacket and pants present invention air bag devices; and,

FIG. 6 shows a strap-on version of a present invention pedestrian air bag device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

FIG. 1 shows a front view of a present invention pedestrian air bag device 1 in the form of a jumpsuit. It includes an upper torso section 3 and a pants section 21. Upper torso section 3 includes arms 5 and 7, as well as a closing means 9 such as buttons, a zipper, hook and loop fastener or the like. There are two air bags 11 and 15 located opposite one another in the chest area that each include a supply and control module 13 and 17, respectively. These modules are described in more detail with respect to FIG. 2 below and include sensors, control chips, compressed gas chambers and compressed gas release mechanisms. Present invention jumpsuit pants section 21 includes legs 31 and 33, with air bags 35 and 37 and supply and control modules 39 and 41. When wearer 10 falls in any direction (forward, backward, sideways, askew), the modules will be activated by their sensors and chips, responding to a predetermined characteristic change, e.g., an angle change of greater than, for example, 35 or 40 or 45 degrees, and the air bags will rapidly and fully deploy before the wearer 10 hits the ground, significantly reducing or even avoiding injury. From fragile elderly in a walking mode, to bicyclists and motorcyclists, to scaffold workers and ladder workers, and many other fall-risk task personnel, this device will be useful to reduce or eliminate injuries from falls. In the case of firefighters, the inclusion of outer fireproof fabric would be beneficial; for motorcyclists, outer slide fabric like baggy leather of other fabric would be beneficial. Because this is a front view, similar upper torso air bag systems, and butt air bag systems in the back, could be included and are not shown.

FIG. 2 diagrammatically illustrates one preferred arrangement of the functional components of a present invention pedestrian air bag device. The block diagram shows a sensor 51, which may be an angle change sensor, an altitude sensor, a G-force decrease sensor or other sensor, that will recognize some characteristic change that accompanies a fall. There is a power source 55, such as a small battery (like a watch battery or a camera battery), a control chip 53, alarm(s) 57, a compressed air (or other gas) chamber 59, and an air bag 61 to each module of FIG. 1 above. Likewise, the same or similar modules may be used in any of the present invention devices described herein. When sensor 51 sends a signal of a shift in a characteristic to chip 53 and chip 53 recognizes it as one beyond a setting or limit, chip 53 actuates a release valve for compressed air chamber to rapidly release its contents to air bag 61 for full deployment. On/off switch 63 may be utilized to deactivate the module so that a wearer may change any characteristic without setting off the air bags. In other words, the device can be turned on and off as desired, e. g., a motorcyclist can turn it on when embarking and shut it off when disembarking.

FIGS. 3 and 4 show side views of a standing and falling user 71 with a present invention two air bag device in the form of a vest device 80. The vest device 80 has a front bag 83 and a supply and control module 87, as well as a rear bag 81 and a supply and control module 85. In FIG. 3 it is not deployed, but turned on. When user 71 starts to fall, as in FIG. 4, a change in a predetermined characteristic is sensed and recognized, and the air bags 81 and 83 are deployed in time to create a soft fall. As shown in FIG. 4, front air bag blows up to support the chin and neck but not to shut off breathing, while rear air bag 81 extends up the back of the neck and the back of the head to protect both the neck and the back of the head.

FIG. 5 illustrates a set of separate jacket and pants present invention air bag devices. Here jacket 101 has a hood 103 with a head back air bag system (this system includes at least one air bag 105 and at least one module 107), arms 109 and 123 with air bags 111 and 115 and modules 113 and 117, as shown. There is also a front chest bag 119 and a module 121.

Pants 131 includes hip units, such as left hip air bag 133 and module 135, as well as leg units, such as leg air bag 13 and module 135. The jacket and pants function in a manner the same as described above.

FIG. 6 shows a strap-on version of a present invention pedestrian air bag device 150. This device has a single air bag 153, a housing 151 as a support base, a module 155, and various attachments means. Here, attachment means such as belt strap 157 and latch 161 and corresponding belt strap 159 and buckle 163 are exemplary and can be used to attach to a torso, back or buttocks. Alternatively, it could be in the form of a belt and attached to a waist.

Obviously, numerous modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is therefore understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein.