Title:
Backpack support apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention comprises a user-friendly, soft and resilient, biomimetic (mimicking biological entities) back pack weight support and mobility enhancement system that can function like a caddie and can be worn externally by people carrying a back pack to improve and enhance shoulder, back, upper body, abdomen, waist, hips, lower limb, legs, knees, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles performance in all dynamic activities while carrying a back pack. The present invention can comprise an outfit, allowing a portion of the back pack's weight to be excluded from being transmitted to the shoulder, back, upper body, abdomen, waist, hips, lower limb, legs, knees, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles; instead directly transmitting the weight to the footwear and/or the ground, through soft elastic columnar quasi-legs equipped with smart biomimetic materials such as shape memory materials and artificial muscles such as synthetic and/or ionic polymeric muscles and provide support function by buckling and bending in accordance with the dynamic maneuvering of the user. The outfit can be encapsulated by user-friendly fabric means for easy wear. The upper portion of the outfit can be in the form of a pouch equipped with fastening portions to be attached to the bottom of the back pack worn by the user while the lower portion of the outfit can be attached to the footwear while transmitting the weight of the back pack to the ground or attached to a ball and socket wheel on the ground right behind the user.



Inventors:
Shahinpoor, Mohsen (Albuquerque, NM, US)
Application Number:
11/180356
Publication Date:
10/26/2006
Filing Date:
07/13/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/62, 482/66, 224/576
International Classes:
A63B21/02; A47D13/04; A63B22/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DONNELLY, JEROME W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
The Grafe Law Office, P.C. (Corrales, NM, US)
Claims:
1. A performance enhancement apparatus for a human carrying a back pack, comprising a biomimetic resilient and bendable quasi-leg, having first and second ends, wherein the first end is adapted to be supported on the ground behind the human, and wherein the second end is adapted to mount in a weight-bearing relationship to the back pack.

2. An apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the first end comprises a ball and socket.

3. An apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the second end comprises a support platform adapted to support a backpack.

4. An apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the quasi-leg comprises a resilient column.

5. An apparatus as in claim 5, wherein the resilient column comprises a shape memory alloy.

6. An apparatus as in claim 5, wherein the resilient column comprises an artificial muscle.

7. An apparatus as in claim 1, further comprising fabric encapsulating at least a portion of the apparatus.

8. A performance enhancement apparatus for a human carrying a back pack, comprising a biomimetic resilient and bendable quasi-leg, having first and second ends, wherein the first end is adapted to mount with the foot or footwear of a human, and wherein the second end is adapted to mount in a weight-bearing relationship to the back pack.

9. An apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the first end comprises a binding strap suitable for attachment to human footwear.

10. An apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the first end comprises footwear suitable for wear by a human.

11. An apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the second end comprises a support platform adapted to support a backpack.

12. An apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the quasi-leg comprises a resilient column.

13. An apparatus as in claim 12, wherein the resilient column comprises a shape memory alloy.

14. An apparatus as in claim 12, wherein the resilient column comprises an artificial muscle.

15. An apparatus as in claim 8, further comprising fabric encapsulating at least a portion of the apparatus.

16. An apparatus as in claim 8, further comprising a second biomimetic quasi-leg, having first and second ends, wherein the first end is adapted to mount with the footwear of a human and supported on the ground, and wherein the second end is adapted to mount in a weight-bearing relationship to the back pack.

17. An apparatus as in claim 8, wherein the second end mounts securely with the backpack.

18. An apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the second end mounts securely with the backpack.

Description:

CROSSREFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. utility application Ser. No. 11/115,731, “Human lower limb performance enhancement outfit,” filed Apr. 26, 2005, which is incorporated herein by reference, and is related to U.S. utility application entitled “Human Lower Limb Performance Enhancement Outfit Systems,” filed concurrently, which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to back pack weight or load support and mobility enhancement system, and can function like a caddie and can be worn and carried externally by people carrying a heavy back pack, more particularly, of a type useful to long hikers, soldiers and mountaineers.

Soldiers, hikers, mountaineers, and others experience shoulder, back, upper body, abdomen, waist, hips, lower limb, legs, knees, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles strain and fatigue, which of course limits their mobility and maneuvering capabilities. Accordingly, soldiers and other long users of heavy back packs, and weak individuals, partially disabled individuals and the elderly, have a need for a user-friendly outfit, which could enhance their performance by lessening the strain on their shoulders, back, upper body, abdomen, waist, hips, lower limb, legs knees, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles while carrying a pack.

Previous backpack-related inventions concern certain additional features or design changes to enhance the performance of the user and functionality of the backpack. However, there has been little improvement in connection with effective reduction of the load and weight a back pack imparts on the human torso, shoulder, back, upper body, abdomen, waist, hips, lower limb, legs, knees, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles. Back packs are generally supported by shoulder straps on the back of the wearer, providing pouches and containers for carrying clothing, food, gear and equipment. With such an arrangement, the bulk of the load produces a large vertical component on the shoulder, back, upper body, abdomen, waist, hips, lower limb, legs, knees, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles tending to tire the wearer and to distort his posture.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,089,447, “Back Pack Device,” issued May 16, 1978 to Achmeteli, discusses a resilient back pack supporting member for carrying loads, particularly for hikers or mountaineers.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,131,576, “Back Pack Support Device,” issued Jul. 21, 1992 to Turnipseed, teaches a back pack support device which utilizes interconnected front and back crossing straps and a separate waist strap, the straps providing for a more even distribution of the backpack load.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,769,295, “Back Pack Holder,” issued Jun. 23, 1998 to Alves, describes a back pack holder, comprising an elongated strap having upper and lower ends, the strap upper end operatively connected to the upper extent of the back pack, and the strap lower end selectively connectible to either one of two lower extents of the back pack, the strap having a width which widens along the strap length toward the upper end.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,431,424, “Modular Load Bearing Field Support System,” issued Aug. 13, 2002 to Smith, presents a modular load bearing field support system having a waist belt, a pair of shoulder straps, each of the shoulder straps having a front end attached to the waist belt and a rear end attached to the waist belt, and a middle section disposed between said front and rear ends.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,722,543, “Backpack With Adjustable Lumbar Support Belt,” issued Apr. 20, 2004 to Fitzgerald, teaches a backpack with an adjustable lumbar support belt, having a front panel, a bottom panel, and a top panel which define an interior capable of containing various items which create a load weighty.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,742,684, “Wheeled Backpack,” issued on Jun. 1, 2004 to Oh, discusses an improved convertible luggage which conveniently converts from a wheeled suitcase to a backpack having a first compartment, a pair of wheels mounted to the first compartment, a second compartment affixed to the first compartment, a second compartment, a first cover on the backside of the first compartment forming a pocket, a frame piece situated within that pocket, a second cover, and a pair of shoulder straps.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,824,030, “Posture Pack,” issued Nov. 30, 2004 to Dolan, teaches a back pack assembly comprised of a back pack front shoulder straps and a lateral back strap designed to concentrate the weight bearing forces of the back pack assembly on the thoracic spinal column and thereby promote normal posture of the person.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,837,409, “Backpack System,” issued Jan. 4, 2005 to Lemanski, teaches a backpack system having a suspension system with a waist belt, which slidably carries a bag or pack.

None of the previous approaches allow effective reduction of the pack weight transferred to a human body, and accordingly there remains a need for an apparatus that allows more effective transport of packs, for example transport of heavier than previously practical, transport for longer times or distances than previously practical, or transport by weaker carriers than previously practical.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention comprises a back pack weight/load support and mobility enhancement system that serves like a caddie that can be worn externally by people carrying a back pack to improve and enhance shoulder, back, upper body, abdomen, waist, hips, lower limb, legs, knees, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles performance in all dynamic activities while carrying a back pack. More specifically, the present invention relates to an outfit, which allows a portion of the back pack's weight to be excluded from being transmitted to the shoulder, back, upper body, abdomen, waist, hips, lower limb, legs, knees, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles by directly transmitting them to the footwear and/or the ground, through soft elastic columnar quasi-legs that are equipped with smart biomimetic materials such as shape memory materials and artificial muscles such as synthetic and/or ionic polymeric muscles and provide support function by buckling and bending in accordance with the dynamic maneuvering of the user.

The present invention can provide an outfit, which allows a portion of the weight and load of a back pack to be excluded from being transmitted to the shoulders, back, upper body, abdomen, waist, hips, lower limb, legs knees, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles while carrying the back pack. The weight and load can instead be directly transmitted them to the ankles, footwear and/or the ground, through soft elastic columnar quasi-legs that are equipped with soft resilient elastic biomimetic smart materials such as shape memory materials and artificial muscles such as synthetic and ionic polymeric muscles as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,109,852 to Shahinpoor, et al., entitled “Soft Actuators and Artificial Muscles”, issued Aug. 29, 2000 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,475,639 to Shahinpoor, et al., entitled “Ionic Polymer Sensors and Actuators”, issued Nov. 5, 2002, each of which is incorporated herein by reference, and provide support function by buckling and bending in accordance with the maneuvering of the user. The performance-enhancing outfit can be encapsulated by user-friendly fabric means for easy wear. The upper portion of the outfit can comprise a pouch equipped with attachable portions (e.g., fitted with material like Velcro®) to be securely attached to the bottom of a back pack worn by the user while the lower portion of the outfit can be attached securely to the footwear of the user while transmitting the weight of the back pack to the ground or attached to a ball and socket wheel on the ground behind the user.

DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

The invention is explained by using embodiment examples and corresponding drawings, which are incorporated into and form part of the specification.

FIG. 1a is three-dimensional view of a quasi-leg in its initial unloaded configuration equipped with a ball and socket type wheel to support a backpack.

FIG. 1b is three-dimensional view of a quasi-leg in its bent loaded configuration equipped with a ball and socket type wheel to support a backpack.

FIG. 2a is a three-dimensional view of a pair of quasi-legs in their initial neutral configuration with footwear/ground attachment means.

FIG. 2b is a three-dimensional view of a pair of quasi-legs in their bent loaded configurations with footwear/ground attachment means.

FIGS. 3a and 3b are, respectively, side and back views of a user wearing a backpack equipped with a quasi-leg and ball and socket wheel on the ground.

FIGS. 4a and 4b are, respectively, side and back views of a user wearing a backpack equipped with a pair of quasi-legs with footwear/ground attachment means.

FIGS. 5a and 5b are, respectively, side and back views of a soldier system wearing a military backpack equipped with a quasi-leg and ball and ball and socket wheel on the ground.

FIGS. 6a and 6b are, respectively, side and back views of a soldier system wearing a military backpack equipped with a pair of quasi-legs with footwear/ground attachment means.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention comprises a user-friendly, soft and resilient, biomimetic (mimicking biological entities) back pack weight/load support and mobility enhancement system that can function like a caddie and can be worn externally by people carrying a back pack to improve and enhance shoulder, back, upper body, abdomen, waist, hips, lower limb, legs, knees, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles performance in all dynamic activities while carrying a back pack. More specifically, the present invention can comprise an outfit, which allows a portion of the back pack's weight to be excluded from being transmitted to the shoulder, back, upper body, abdomen, waist, hips, lower limb, legs, knees, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles, instead transmitting a portion of the weight to the footwear and/or the ground, through soft elastic columnar quasi-legs that are equipped with smart biomimetic materials such as shape memory materials and artificial muscles such as synthetic and/or ionic polymeric muscles as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,109,852 to Shahinpoor, et al. entitled “Soft Actuators and Artificial Muscles”, issued Aug. 29, 2000 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,475,639 to Shahinpoor, et al., entitled “Ionic Polymer Sensors and Actuators”, issued Nov. 5, 2002.

The quasi legs provide a support function by buckling and bending in accordance with dynamic maneuvering of the backpack wearer and user. The shoulder, back, upper body, abdomen, waist, hips, lower limb, legs, knees, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles performance enhancing outfit can be encapsulated by user-friendly fabric means for easy wear. The upper portion of the outfit can be in the form of a pouch equipped with fastening portions (e.g., using material like Velcro®) to be securely attached to the bottom of the back pack worn by the user while the lower portion of the outfit can be attached securely to the footwear while transmitting the weight of the back pack to the ground or attached to a ball and socket wheel on the ground right behind the user, providing multidirectional mobility.

The present invention can also provide a user friendly and soft and elastic pair of biomimetic quasi-legs that are capable of biomimetically buckling and bending to maintain a controllable force and thus providing an additional smart and elastically compliant support in a back pack carrying performance enhancement outfit.

FIG. 1a is three-dimensional view of a single biomimetic quasi-leg 1 in an initial unloaded and neutral configuration with a column portion 2 embedded with artificial muscles and smart materials 4 with back pack bottom support platform 3 and fastening portions 1′ to be securely attached to the bottom portion of a back pack and footwear/ground portion 3′ equipped with a ball and socket wheel 3″. These quasi-legs can be manufactured in one piece by molding techniques such as injection molding, compression molding, thermoforming, urethane casting, and dip molding, and then can be encapsulated in a user-friendly fabric.

FIG. 1b is three-dimensional view of a single biomimetic quasi-leg 1 in its bent and loaded configuration with a column portion 2 embedded with artificial muscles and smart materials 4 with back pack bottom support platform 3 and Velcro® portions 1′ to be securely attached to the bottom portion of a back pack and footwear/ground portion 3′ equipped with a ball and socket wheel 3″.

FIG. 2a is a three-dimensional view of a pair of biomimetic quasi-legs 1 in an initial unloaded and neutral configurations with columnar quasi legs 2 embedded with smart materials and artificial muscles 4 attached to the back pack bottom support platform 3 and fastening portions 1′ to be securely attached to the bottom portion of a back pack and footwear/ground portion 3′ equipped with binding straps 3″. These quasi-legs can be manufactured in one piece by molding techniques such as injection molding, compression molding, thermoforming, urethane casting, and dip molding, and then can be encapsulated in a user-friendly fabric.

FIG. 2b is a three-dimensional view of a pair of biomimetic quasi-legs 1 in their bent and loaded configurations with columnar quasi legs 2 embedded with smart materials and artificial muscles 4 attached to the back pack bottom support platform 3 and fastening portions 1′ to be securely attached to the bottom portion of a back pack and footwear/ground portion 3′ equipped with binding straps 3″.

FIG. 3a is a side view of a back pack wearer 1 whose back pack 2 is equipped with support body straps 3, back pack bottom support platform 6, with a quasi-leg 4 with embedded smart materials and artificial muscles 4′ and supported on the ground 7 by bracket 8 and ball and socket wheel 8′ while wearing boots 5.

FIG. 3b is a back view of a back pack wearer whose back pack 2′ is equipped with support body straps 3′, back pack bottom support platform 6′, with a quasi-leg 4 and supported on the ground 7 by bracket 9 and ball and socket wheel 9′ while wearing boots 5.

FIG. 4a is a side view of a back pack wearer 1 whose back pack 2 is equipped with support body straps 3, back pack bottom support platform 6, with a quasi-leg 4 with embedded smart materials and artificial muscles 4′ and supported on the ground 7 by shoe brackets 5′ and 5″ while wearing boots 5.

FIG. 4b is a back view of a backpack wearer whose back pack 2′ is equipped with support body straps 3′, backpack bottom support platform 6′, with quasi-legs 4′ and supported on the ground 7 by brackets 5′ and 5″.

FIG. 5a is a side view of a soldier system 1 wearing a back pack 1′ which is equipped with back pack bottom support platform 2′, with a pair of quasi-legs 2L and 2R, respectively, embedded with smart materials and artificial muscles 5 and supported on the ground 6 by brackets 3 and 3′ while wearing boots 4.

FIG. 5b is a back view of a soldier system 1 wearing a back pack 1′ which is equipped with back pack bottom support platform 2′, with a pair of quasi-legs 2L and 2R, respectively, embedded with smart materials and artificial muscles 5 and supported on the ground 6 by brackets 3′.

The portion of the load taken by the quasi legs can be estimated by using the force necessary to bend the columns. In fact, considering the Euler's critical buckling load (see J. E. Shigley, and R. Mischke, Mechanical Engineering Design, 5th ed., McGraw-Hill Co, New York 1989), namely: Pcrπ2EIleff2(1)

where E is the Young's modulus of elasticity of the quasi-legs 2, I is its moment of inertia in the plane of bending and leff is its effective length from the point of attachment to the backpack to the point of footwear/ground attachment means. If the end conditions of the quasi-legs are assumed clamped-clamped, then leff=0.51, where l is the actual length between the point of attachment of quasi-legs to the bottom of the backpack and the point of attachment to the footwear/ground bracket and column 3″ and 3′. Thus, if the width of the quasi-legs is w and its thickness is t, the moment of inertia for bending is:
I=wt3/12 (2)

Taking, for example, w=6 cm, t=2.0 cm, then l=[6×8/12]=4 cm4. Assuming the quasi-leg material to be, say, porous rubber-like material like porous Neoprene composite of length l=1 m, then the Young's modulus of Elasticity E is estimated to be about 0.1 GPa and thus the critical buckling load will be:
Pcr2×108 N/m2×4.0×10−8 m4/(0.5)2 m2=157.75 N=16.1 Kg=35.4 Lbs. (3)

This will be the initial load taken and shifted to the ground by each quasi-leg for a total load carrying of almost 71 Lbs by the pair of quasi-legs, which can be quite significant for enhancing the back pack carrying performance of the user.

The present invention can comprise various embodiments, some examples of which are discussed below.

A wearable outfit for enhancing the performance of an individual wearing a back pack and involved in prolonged hiking, battle field and other outdoor dynamic activities, by transferring a portion of the static and dynamic weight of a back pack to his or her footwear and or ground, thus partially bypassing the individual's shoulder, back, upper body, abdomen, waist, hips, lower limb, legs, knees, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles, the outfit comprising a resilient bending columnar single biomimetic quasi-leg or a pair of biomimetic quasi-legs with embedded back pack support platform to be securely attached by fastening means to the bottom portion of a back pack and connected to a resilient buckling/bending column embedded with elastic, resilient smart materials and artificial muscles, and footwear/ground binding strap means disposable about the ankle or the footwear of an individual or ball and socket wheel means to provide support and mobility on the ground. The outfit can also comprise fabric encapsulation. The outfit can also comprise synthetic rubbers such as Neoprene, Polyethylene or polychloroprene embedded in the quasi-legs and backpack support platform. The outfit can also comprise natural rubbers such as Latex or polymer of isoprene from rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) embedded in the quasi-legs and backpack support platform. The outfit can also comprise smart materials such as shape memory materials embedded in the quasi-legs and support platform. The outfit can also comprise artificial muscles such as synthetic muscles and ionic polymeric muscles embedded in the quasi-legs and support platform.

An outfit for dynamic activities of the human body wearing a back pack in every day activities and the like to lessen the effect of the back pack static and dynamic weight/load and dynamic impacts to the shoulder, back, upper body, abdomen, waist, hips, lower limb, legs, knees, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings muscles of an individual by transferring part of such back pack static and dynamic weights and dynamic impacts from the bottom of the back pack to the footwear of an individual or the ground.

The particular sizes and equipment discussed above are cited merely to illustrate particular embodiments of the invention. It is contemplated that the use of the invention may involve components having different sizes and characteristics. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the claims appended hereto.