Title:
Drop-down eye protection for safety helmets
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Hinged receivers are provided in the space above the wearer's ears on either side of a helmet, and protective eyewear received within the receivers is accommodated for stowage in a space toward or at the front of the helmet.



Inventors:
Rogers, David C. (Boston, MA, US)
Hall, Edward R. (Somerville, MA, US)
Patterson, Joseph E. (Auburn, MA, US)
Application Number:
11/348425
Publication Date:
10/26/2006
Filing Date:
02/06/2006
Assignee:
Artisent, Inc. (Boston, MA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F41H1/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SUTTON, ANDREW W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GOODWIN PROCTER LLP (BOSTON, MA, US)
Claims:
1. For use in connection with a protective helmet comprising a shell, a rotational assembly facilitating stowage and withdrawal of protective eyewear, the assembly comprising: a. a pair of receivers for receiving the eyewear; and b. means facilitating rotation of the receivers between a stowage position, with the eyewear within the helmet shell, and an operational position in front of a wearer's eyes.

2. The rotational assembly of claim 1 wherein the eyewear comprises a pair of substantially straight arms and the receivers frictionally engage the arms.

3. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the rotation-facilitating means is attached to at least one receiver and extends so as to be accessible to the wearer when the eyewear is in the stowage position.

4. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the rotation-facilitating means are configured to act on the eyewear and extend so as to be accessible to the wearer when the eyewear is in the stowage position.

5. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the helmet comprises a headband and the rotational assembly is configured to engage the headband.

6. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the rotational assembly is configured to engage an interior surface of the helmet shell.

7. The assembly of claim 1 wherein the helmet comprises a liner and the rotational assembly is configured to engage the liner.

8. The assembly of claim 1 wherein each receiver comprises a draw line.

9. A protective helmet comprising: a. a shell comprising an interior with sufficient space to contain, when the helmet is worn, protective eyewear in a stowed configuration; and b. within the shell, a rotational assembly configured to receive the eyewear and facilitate movement between a stowage position, with the eyewear within the helmet shell, and an operational position in front of a wearer's eyes.

10. The helmet of claim 9 wherein the eyewear comprises a pair of substantially straight arms that are frictionally engaged by the rotational assembly.

11. The helmet of claim 9 further comprising a compressible material within the shell for frictionally engaging the eyewear to retain it in the stowed position.

12. The helmet of claim 9 further comprising a flexible protruding member within the shell for mechanically engaging the eyewear to retain it in the stowed position.

13. The helmet of claim 9 wherein the rotational assembly is configured to engage an interior surface of the helmet shell.

14. The helmet of claim 9 further comprising a liner, the rotational assembly being configured to engage the liner.

15. The helmet of claim 9 further comprising a headband, the rotational assembly being configured to engage the headband.

16. The helmet of claim 15 wherein the headband comprises a flexible loop for engaging the eyewear, downward pressure on the flexible loop brings the eyewear into the operational position.

17. The helmet of claim 9 wherein each receiver comprises a draw line.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to and the benefits of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/650,147, filed on Feb. 7, 2005, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

GOVERNMENT FUNDING

This invention was made with Government support under Contract No. DAAD16-01-C-0061 awarded by the U.S. Army. The Government has certain rights in the invention.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to safety helmets, in particular a device to provide integrated eye protection which may be used by the helmet wearer or optionally stowed in a protected area.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Helmets for head protection are worn in a variety of environments and for various purposes. While some helmets provide full-face protection by means of a transparent face shield, other helmets are open-faced. In open-face helmets, if eye protection is desired, it may be added by the wearer optionally wearing eyeglasses or goggles. In either case there are disadvantages. For example, the fit of the helmet around the temples may interfere with the eyeglass frames, making it difficult or uncomfortable for the eyeglasses to slide back and over the ears. The elastic strap or the frames of goggles may also interfere with the helmet shell or other accessories on the helmet. Even when glasses or goggles are properly adapted to a helmet, sometimes by special designs, often they must be stowed in a separate area when they are not needed. As a result, eyeglasses or goggles may be lost or damaged while not in use. Additionally, the need to stow the eye protection in a separate area can result in delay or difficulty in locating and adjusting it when the need arises. A need therefore exists for attaching commercially available eyewear to a protective helmet such that it can be readily deployed or stowed according to the user's need, and optionally removed from the helmet for stand-alone use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, hinged tubular receivers are provided in the space above the wearer's ears on either side of a helmet, and the protective eyewear is accommodated for stowage in a space toward or at the front of the helmet. The receivers may be attached to the helmet, the liner, or components of the suspension system such as a headband that circumscribes the head. Protective eyewear having substantially straight arms is manually inserted into the receivers. The eyewear may be adjusted for proper fit by sliding the arms within the tubes of the receivers, which may, in some embodiments, engage the arms of the eyewear frictionally to maintain position following wearer adjustment of the eyewear to properly sit on the bridge of the nose.

The receivers themselves may be attached by a rotating, hinged or otherwise pivotable element, typically at a point rearward of the wearer's ear, for wearer adjustment as well as for rotating the eyewear upward to a stowed position. Space is provided within the helmet (e.g., between the shell and the impact liner and suspension components at the front of the helmet) to accommodate protective stowage of the eyewear between the wearer's head and the outer shell of the helmet. Means for securing the eyewear in the stowed position and allowing it to be deployed easily may include, for example, a flexible clip attached to the headband or the helmet shell within the stowage area and extending downward so that it is accessible to the wearer. When the eyewear is placed in the up position, the flexible clip mechanically engages it to resist the eyewear inadvertently dropping down. When the wearer wants to deploy the eyewear, the flexible clip is pulled, thereby releasing the eyewear so that it can be manually pulled down and adjusted to fit the wearer's face. Alternatively or in addition, the stowage area can be lined with a compressible foam sized so that the eyewear is frictionally engaged between the compressible foam and the impact liner (or suspension components at the front of the helmet) when the eyewear is pushed up for stowage by the wearer.

The present invention thereby provides protected and readily available stowage for the eyewear when not in use, and allows the use of many standard eyewear products that easily can be fitted to the helmet without the need for tools.

Accordingly, in a first aspect, the invention comprises a pivoting assembly facilitating stowage and withdrawal of protective eyewear with respect to a helmet. The assembly comprises a pair of receivers for receiving the eyewear and means facilitating rotation of the receivers between a stowage position, with the eyewear within the helmet shell, and an operational position in front of a wearer's eyes. In general, the eyewear comprises a pair of arms and the receivers frictionally engage the arms.

In a second aspect, the invention comprises a safety helmet including a shell and, within the shell, a pivoting assembly facilitating stowage and withdrawal of protective eyewear. The pivoting assembly comprises a pair of receivers for receiving the eyewear, and means facilitating rotation of the receivers between a stowage position, with the eyewear within the helmet shell, and an operational position in front of a wearer's eyes.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings, like reference characters generally refer to the same parts throughout the different views. Also, the drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead generally being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. In the following description, various embodiments of the present invention are described with reference to the following drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 shows the right side of a helmet with protective eyewear in the down position;

FIG. 2 shows the right side of a helmet with protective eyewear indicated in the stowed position.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the preferred embodiment of one of the receivers, in this case the receiver on the right side of the helmet.

FIG. 4 is an exploded view of an alternate embodiment of one of the receivers.

FIG. 5 is a bottom view of a helmet with protective eyewear in accordance with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

With reference to FIG. 1, a helmet shell 51 is shown from the right side of the wearer's head (the left side has symmetrical features). Protective eyewear 53 is shown in its normally worn position on the wearer's face with arms 55 inserted into the receivers 57 of the present invention, as further described below. A stowage space 60, described in greater detail in connection with FIG. 5, is located inside the front of helmet shell 51. FIG. 2 shows the eyewear 53 in the stowed position in the stowage space 60. In the stowed position, the eyewear 53 is within the envelope of the helmet shell.

The helmet 51 is secured to the wearer's head by a conventional chin-strap 61. In a preferred embodiment, a pair of pull-tabs 63 (the right tab being shown in FIGS. 1 and 2) slide along the downward portion of chin-strap 61 and are attached to the receivers 57 by a draw line 69. To lower the eyewear from the stowage space 60, the wearer pulls downward on the pull-tabs 63 on left and right sides of the helmet 51. This pulling action is transmitted via the draw line 69 to the receivers 57, causing the receivers to rotate about a pivot 72 until the eyewear 53 descends from the stowage space 60. Additional adjustment by the wearer to fit the eyewear 53 precisely onto the bridge of the wearer's nose may be accomplished by sliding the arms 55 of the eyewear 53 longitudinally within the receivers 57.

One embodiment of the receivers 57 (in this case the receiver on the right side of the helmet 51) is shown in FIG. 3. The receiver 57 is preferably fabricated from a semi-flexible material (e.g., ABS or polyethylene plastic) to form an elongated tubular shape. The opening 75 at the front of the receiver is sized to allow the arms 55 of eyewear frames to be inserted and to flex the material of the receiver 57 as necessary to provide a frictional engagement therewith. The receiver 57 also has a mounting hole 72, which fits over a post 78 on an interior element—e.g., the headband 81—of the helmet. The receiver 57 can be retained on the post 78, while remaining free to rotate, by any suitable expedient; the preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 3 uses a pair of cut-outs 84a, 84b, which fit over complementary tabs 87a, 87b of retention post 78. When the receiver 57 is first mounted onto the headband 81, it is oriented such that the cut-outs 84a, 84b align with and pass over the tabs 87a, 87b. The angular displacement between cut-outs 84a, 84b and the tabs 87a, 87b is such that receiver 57 may be rotated through its normal range of positions without aligning the tabs and the cut-outs, thereby ensuring retention of receiver 57 on post 78.

Also shown in FIG. 3 is the pull-tab 63 attached by means of draw line 69 to a connecting area 90 of the receiver 57. The draw line 69 can be made of plastic (e.g., nylon or polyester) or natural fibers such as cotton, woven or monofilament, and may be secured to the pull-tab 63 and connecting area 90 by a knot, loop, welding or other means conventional in the art. The length of the draw line 69 is chosen so that when the receiver 57 is rotated to the uppermost position for stowage, the pull-tab 63 is still accessible below the edge of the helmet shell 51.

An alternate embodiment of the present invention, which dispenses with the draw line, is shown in FIG. 4. In this embodiment, a flexible loop 93 is provided at the front of the headband 81, and may be attached to or integral with the headband. The headband 81 and flexible loop 93 may be fabricated from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic. Flexible loop 93 has a protruding feature 95 designed to mechanically engage the bridge 96 of the eyewear 53 when the latter is pushed up into the stowed position. The loop 93 extends downward to provide an exposed end 99, which is accessible to the wearer when the eyewear 53 is in the stowed position. To lower the eyewear to the operational position, the wearer pulls on the exposed end 99 of flexible loop 93, thereby urging the eyewear downward and releasing the engagement between protruding feature 95 and bridge 96. Further adjustment is accomplished by the wearer manually pulling the eyewear the remaining distance to fully remove it from stowage area 60 and sliding the arms 55 within the opening 75 in each of the receivers 57 so that the eyewear rests comfortably on the wearer's nose.

A better view of the interior of a helmet in accordance with the invention is shown in FIG. 5. The helmet shell 51 includes an interior wall 100, the headband 81 mounted to the shell and generally concentric with its outer contour, and, optionally, a liner 105. The headband 81 generally comprises a flexible (e.g., plastic) band that may be fabricated as a thin, flat component which is curved into a circular shape by, for example, joining its ends together. The band may, for example, be fabricated by injection molding, but alternative fabrication techniques as are well known in the art can also be used. The ends of the band 107a, 107b, may be joined at the back of the wearer's head in a manner that allows adjustment of the circumference of the headband. The headband 81 generally also comprises a plurality of connecting arms 108 to facilitate joinder to the helmet shell 51 at multiple positions. The receivers 57 may be pivotably engaged to headband 81, as described above, or may instead be pivotably engaged to the interior wall 100 or even to the liner 105 as indicated at 109 and 110, respectively.

The stowage space 60 is generally between the interior wall 100 and the headband 81. A compressible foam pad 111 lies between the interior wall 100 and the protective eyewear 53 to protect the lenses from abrasion. The eyewear 53 can be retained in the stowed position by frictional contact with pad 111 or other suitable expedient; the embodiment shown in FIG. 5 uses a mechanical engagement between protruding feature 95 and the bridge 96 of the eyewear 53. A cutout 114 in pad 111 allows the flexible loop 93 to move when the exposed end 99 is manually pulled by the wearer.

Having described certain embodiments of the invention, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that other embodiments incorporating the concepts disclosed herein may be used without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects as only illustrative and not restrictive.





 
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