Title:
Collapsible hula hoop and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method for forming a hula hoop comprising depressing a peg member on a first terminal end section of a cylindrical member, and passing the peg member into an opening on a second terminal end section of the cylindrical member to couple the first terminal end section with the second terminal end section to form a hula hoop. A hula hoop comprising a tube member having a first terminal end section and a second terminal end section, and a connector assembly having a conduit structure coupled to the first terminal end section and slidably disposed in the second terminal end section. The connector assembly additionally has a peg assembly including a peg member passing through an aperture in the conduit structure and slidably positioned within an opening in the second terminal end section.



Inventors:
Orlowski, Boguslaw (Oceanside, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/116492
Publication Date:
11/02/2006
Filing Date:
04/28/2005
Assignee:
Wham-O Corporation (Emeryville, CA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H33/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, KIEN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Law Offices of John W. Carpenter, LLC (Placida, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for forming a hula hoop comprising: depressing a peg member on a first terminal end section of a cylindrical member; and passing the peg member into an opening on a second terminal end section of the cylindrical member to couple the first terminal end section with the second terminal end section to form a hula hoop.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein said depressing a peg member comprises depressing a peg member into a spring-biased posture.

3. The method of claim 2 additionally comprising releasing the peg member into a spring-biased relationship with the second terminal end section.

4. The method of claim 3 wherein said releasing the peg member into a spring-biased relationship with the second terminal end section is before said passing the peg member into the opening on the second terminal end section.

5. The method of claim 4 additionally comprising sliding a top of the peg member along a portion of the second terminal end section while the top of the peg member remains biased against the portion of the second terminal end section.

6. The method of claim 5 wherein said spring-biased posture on said peg member is released after said peg member enters said opening.

7. The method of claim 5 wherein said cylindrical member comprises a tube having an internal cylindrical surface.

8. The method of claim 7 wherein said sliding a top of the peg member along a portion of the second terminal end section comprises sliding a top of the peg member along the internal cylindrical surface of the second terminal end section while the top of the peg member remains biased against the internal cylindrical surface of the second terminal end section.

9. A method for forming a hula hoop comprising pressing a peg member of a peg assembly into a flex-biased posture and in general alignment with an outside cylindrical surface of a conduit member which houses the peg assembly and is coupled to a first terminal end section of a tube member; moving an end of the conduit member into a second terminal end section of the tube member; placing a top of the flex-biased peg member in biased contact with an internal cylindrical surface of the second terminal end section; sliding the top of the flex-biased peg member along the internal cylindrical surface until the peg member passes into an opening in the second terminal end section for coupling the first terminal end section with the second terminal end section to form a hula hoop.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein said peg assembly comprises a shoulder structure supporting the peg member, an arcuate structure bound to the shoulder structure, and a base structure bound to the arcuate structure.

11. A method for collapsing a hula hoop comprising: removing a peg member from an opening in a second terminal end section by pressing the peg member into a flex-biased posture and in general alignment with an outside cylindrical surface of a conduit member which is coupled to a first terminal end section of a tube member and is at least partly slidably disposed on an internal cylindrical surface in the second terminal end section; sliding the conduit member along the internal cylindrical surface within the second terminal end section to move the flex-biased peg member away from the opening and place a top of the flex-biased peg member in biased contact with a portion of the internal cylindrical surface; sliding the biased top of the flex-biased peg member along the internal cylindrical surface until the flex-biased peg member passes out of the second terminal end section to produce the tube member with the first terminal end section being decoupled from the second terminal end section; and collapsing the tube member into a generally coiled-spring configuration having a plurality of overlapping loops.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein said plurality of overlapping loops have generally identical diameters.

13. A hula hoop comprising a tube member having a first terminal end section and a second terminal end section; a connector assembly having a conduit structure coupled to the first terminal end section and slidably disposed in the second terminal end section, said connector assembly additionally having a peg assembly including a peg member passing through an aperture in said conduit structure and slidably positioned within an opening in the second terminal end section.

14. The hula hoop of claim 13 wherein said peg assembly comprises a shoulder structure supporting the peg member, an arcuate structure bound to the shoulder structure, and a base structure bound to the arcuate structure.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

The present invention relates in general to a hula-hoop. More specifically, embodiments of the present invention relate to a collapsible hula-hoop and method for exercising. Embodiments of the present invention also relate to a method of storing a hula-hoop.

2. Description of the Background Art

A hula is a Polynesian dance which may be characterized by undulating hips. The hula dance may have inspired a plastic ring sold under the trade mark Hula-Hoop, registered to Wham-O, Inc. The Hula-Hoop brand plastic ring is a light-weight plastic ring which is whirled around the body in proximity to the hips and may be used for play or for exercise.

The plastic ring possesses a relatively large diameter, and because its structural form is fixed, it has practical drawbacks. A conventional hula-hoop plastic structure is cumbersome and may not be easily transported. Also, the plastic ring when sold in a store, occupies an inordinate amount of space, since it possesses a large diameter and may not be readily collapsed to fit into a relatively small box.

Therefore, what is needed and what has been invented is a structural ring, preferably a plastic ring, which does not possess the abovementioned disadvantages. What is further needed and what has been invented is a structural ring which may be readily collapsed to facilitate transportation and storage.

SUMMARY OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention provide a method for forming a hula hoop comprising depressing (e.g., such as into a spring-biased posture) a peg member on a first terminal end section of a cylindrical member, and passing the peg member into an opening on a second terminal end section of the cylindrical member to couple the first terminal end section with the second terminal end section to form a hula hoop. The method may further comprise releasing the peg member into a spring-biased relationship with the second terminal end section. The releasing of the peg member may be before the passing of the peg member into the opening on the second terminal end section. The method may further comprise sliding a top of the peg member along a portion (e.g., an internal cylindrical surface) of the second terminal end section while the top of the peg member remains biased against the portion of the second terminal end section. After the peg member enters the opening in the second terminal end section, the spring-biased posture on the peg member is released.

Embodiments of the present invention further provide a method for forming a hula hoop comprising pressing a peg member of a peg assembly into a flex-biased posture and in general alignment with an outside cylindrical surface of a conduit member which houses the peg assembly and is coupled to a first terminal end section of a tube member. The method further comprises moving an end of the conduit member into a second terminal end section of the tube member, placing a top of the flex-biased peg member in biased contact with an internal cylindrical surface of the second terminal end section, and sliding the top of the flex-biased peg member along the internal cylindrical surface until the peg member passes into an opening in the second terminal end section for coupling the first terminal end section with the second terminal end section to form a hula hoop.

Embodiments of the present invention also further provide a method for collapsing a hula hoop comprising removing a peg member from an opening in a second terminal end section by pressing the peg member into a flex-biased posture and in general alignment with an outside cylindrical surface of a conduit member which is coupled to a first terminal end section of a tube member and is at least partly slidably disposed on an internal cylindrical surface in the second terminal end section. The method further comprises sliding the conduit member along the internal cylindrical surface within the second terminal end section to move the flex-biased peg member away from the opening and place a top of the flex-biased peg member in biased contact with a portion of the internal cylindrical surface. The method also further comprises sliding the biased top of the flex-biased peg member along the internal cylindrical surface until the flex-biased peg member passes out of the second terminal end section to produce the tube member with the first terminal end section being decoupled from the second terminal end section, and collapsing the tube member into a generally coiled-spring configuration having a plurality of overlapping loops. The plurality of overlapping loops have generally identical diameters.

Embodiments of the present invention yet also further provide a hula hoop comprising a tube member having a first terminal end section and a second terminal end section, and a connector assembly having a conduit structure coupled to the first terminal end section and slidably disposed in the second terminal end section. The connector assembly additionally has a peg assembly including a peg member passing through an aperture in the conduit structure and slidably positioned within an opening in the second terminal end section. The peg assembly comprises a shoulder structure supporting the peg member, an arcuate structure bound to the shoulder structure, and a base structure bound to the arcuate structure.

These provisions together with the various ancillary provisions and features which will become apparent to those artisans possessing skill in the art as the following description proceeds are attained by devices, assemblies, apparatuses and methods of embodiments of the present invention, various embodiments thereof being shown with reference to the accompanying drawings, by way of example only, wherein:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a pictorial view of a girl swirling the collapsible hula-hoop around her hips.

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of a hula-hoop being releasably separated and folded or collapsed into a coil shaped configuration.

FIG. 3 is a view of a girl holding the coil-shaped configured, collapsible hula-hoop.

FIG. 4 is a view of a girl carrying the coil-shaped configured, collapsible hula-hoop.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the collapsible hula-hoop after having been separated into two terminal ends and with a person holding the two terminal ends and in the process of connecting or releasably coupling together the two terminal ends to produce the collapsible hula-hoop with a generally continuous structure.

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of the connector assembly coupled to one of the terminal ends of hula-hoop.

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of the connector assembly illustrating a peg member extending through an aperture in a housing conduit.

FIG. 8 is a vertical sectional view taken in direction of the arrows and along the plane of line 8-8 in FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a vertical sectional view taken in direction of the arrows and along the plane of line 9-9 in FIG. 7.

FIG. 10 is a vertical sectional view taken in direction of the arrows and along the plane of line 10-10 in FIG. 7.

FIG. 11 is a partial top plan view of the other terminal end of the hula-hoop illustrating an opening wherein the peg slidably, releasably lodges for coupling together the terminal ends of the hula-hoop to form the collapsible hula-hoop with a generally continuous structure.

FIG. 12 is a partial top plan view of the terminal ends coupled together by the peg member of the connector assembly slidably, releasably lodged within the opening of one of the terminal ends of the hula-hoop.

FIG. 13 is a partial side elevational view of one of the terminal ends aligned with the connector assembly protruding from the other terminal end of the hula-hoop in order for the connector assembly to slidably mate with the internal cylindrical surface of the terminal end.

FIG. 14 is a partial side elevational view of the connector assembly slidably engaged to the terminal end having the opening with the peg member in a depressed posture and biasedly, slidably engaging the internal cylindrical surface of the terminal end.

FIG. 15 is a partial side elevational view of the terminal ends being releasably coupled together by the connector assembly after the peg member has been slid along the internal cylindrical surface of the terminal end while being continuously biased against the internal cylindrical surface until the peg member reaches the opening whereupon the flexible, flex-biased structure supporting the peg member causes the peg member to spring through the opening.

FIG. 16 is a partial sectional, side elevational view of another embodiment of the connector assembly.

FIG. 17 is a vertical sectional view taken in directions of the arrows and along the plane of line 17-17 in FIG. 6.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

In the description herein for embodiments of the present invention, numerous specific details are provided, such as examples of components and/or methods, to provide a thorough understanding of embodiments of the present invention. One skilled in the relevant art will recognize, however, that an embodiment of the invention can be practiced without one or more of the specific details, or with other apparatus, systems, assemblies, methods, components, materials, parts, and/or the like. In other instances, well-known structures, materials, or operations are not specifically shown or described in detail to avoid obscuring aspects of embodiments of the present invention.

Referring now to FIG. 1 there is seen a ring, generally illustrated as 10 and sold under the trade mark Hula-Hoop, registered to Wham-O, Inc. While the Hula-Hoop brand ring member will be broadly referred to hereafter as “hula hoop,” such use of the term “hula-hoop” is not to be construed as misuse of the trade mark Hula-Hoop. Nor is the use of the term “hula-hoop” to limit the spirit and scope of the present invention to any conventional Hula-Hoop brand ring member which is typically adapted to be whirled around a body 12 by movement of the hips 14. Such use may be for exercise purposes or for entertainment purposes. The hula hoop 10 may be manufactured from any suitable material, preferably any suitable plastic, such as polyethylene or polypropylene.

The hula hoop 10 comprises a connector assembly 18 for releasably coupling together sections of terminal ends 20 and 22 of the hula hoop 10 for forming a generally continuous ring structure. The connector assembly 18 is coupled to and/or slidably engaged to the terminal end section 20. Terminal end section 22 includes an opening 23. When the connector assembly 18 disengages the coupled terminal end sections 20 and 22, the hula hoop 10 may be folded or collapsed into a generally coiled-spring configuration 30, as best shown in FIG. 2. In the generally coiled-spring configuration 30, the hula hoop 10 includes a plurality of overlapping loops having generally identical diameters. In the collapsed structure or coiled-spring configuration 30, it may be easily carried and transported, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4.

In the embodiment of the connector assembly 18 illustrated in FIGS. 6-10, the connector assembly 18 has a conduit structure 18a having an outside cylindrical surface 18c and ends 32 and 34 and an opening 36. The outside diameter of the conduit structure 18a is slightly less than the internal diameter of the terminal end section 20 so that the conduit structure 18a is capable of making a snug, affixed connection with the terminal end section 20, as best shown in FIG. 17. The terminal end section 22 has an internal diameter which is larger than the outside diameter of the conduit structure 18a to facilitate the passage of the conduit structure 18a into the terminal end section 22 for coupling together terminal end sections 20 and 22 in accordance with the procedure set forth hereafter.

The connector assembly 18 also includes a peg assembly 40 having a peg member 42 (e.g., a lug) supported by a flexible, spring- or flex-biased structure 44 which biases the peg member 42 upwardly after the peg member 42 is depressed downwardly. The peg member 42 has a top peg surface 42a that generally aligns with the outside cylindrical surface 18c in the procedure of using the connector assembly 18 for coupling the terminal ends 20 and 22 together to form a continuous hula hoop structure. The flex-biased structure 44 has a shoulder structure 45 supporting the peg member 42. The spring- or flex-biased structure 44 also has a base structure 46 supported by an internal cylindrical surface 18b of the conduit structure 18a. The shoulder structure 45 and the base structure 46 terminate in an arcuate structure 48. As peg member 42 is depressed, the spring- or flex-biased structure 44 flexes into a posture having an upward bias such that when the peg member 42 is released, the upward biasing of the spring- or flex-biased structure causes the peg member 42 to spring back into its original position before being biased. As will be further explained below, when the terminal end sections 20 and 22 are being releasably coupled, the peg member 42 removably lodges in the opening 23 of the terminal end section 22.

Referring now to FIG. 16 there is seen another embodiment of the connector assembly 18 having the flex-biased structure 44 with an intermediate section 50 integrally bound to the peg member 42 and to a structure 52 which defines an arcuate channel. Structure 52 is connected to a flange member 54 which is bound to the terminal end section 20. For this embodiment of the present invention, the peg member 42 generally operates as it does for the embodiment of FIGS. 6-10. More specifically, as this embodiment of the peg member 42 is depressed, the spring- or flex-biased structure 44 (e.g., the intermediate section 50 and structure 52) flexes into a posture having an upward bias such that when the peg member 42 is released, the upward biasing of the spring- or flex-biased structure causes the peg member 42 to spring back into its original position before being biased. While the embodiment of the connector assembly 18 illustrated in FIGS. 6-10 will be used to illustrate the procedure for releasably connecting terminal end section 20 with terminal end section 22 such that the hula hoop has a general continuous structure for any suitable use, it is to be understood that the use of the embodiment of the connector assembly 18 of FIGS. 6-10 is not to limit the spirit and scope of the present invention which is to include any generally upward biasing peg member 42 for removably lodging in opening 23 on terminal end section 22.

Referring in detail now to FIGS. 13-15 for explaining the procedure for releasably coupling together terminal end sections 20 and 22, the conduit structure 18a of the connector assembly 18 is generally aligned (as best shown in FIGS. 5 and 13) with the hollow end of terminal section 22. As previously indicated, because the outside diameter of the conduit structure 18a is slightly less than the internal diameter of the terminal end section 20, the conduit structure 18a is capable of making a snug, affixed connection with the terminal end section 20, as best shown in FIG. 17. A glue solution or member (not shown) may be used to assist in connecting the outside cylindrical surface of the conduit structure 18a to the internal surface of the terminal end section 20. As further previously indicated, because the terminal end section 22 has an internal diameter which is larger than the outside diameter of the conduit structure 18a, the conduit structure 18a may easily pass into the terminal end section 22. After the conduit structure 18a of the connector assembly 18 has been generally aligned with the hollow end of terminal end section 22, peg member 42 is pushed or depressed downwardly in direction of arrow B in FIG. 13. Preferably, the peg member 42 is pushed or depressed downwardly until the top surface 42a is generally aligned with the outside cylindrical surface 18c of the conduit structure 18a. When the peg member 42 is depressed or pushed downwardly, the spring- or flex-biased structure 44 (e.g., the intermediate section 50 and structure 52) becomes flexed such that the peg member 42 has a posture including an upward bias.

Subsequently, the conduit structure 18a is moved in direction of arrows A-A in FIG. 13 and into the terminal end 22 until at least a portion of the top surface 42a of the peg member 42 is under or superimposed by the internal cylindrical surface of the terminal end section 22. The peg member 42 may then be released which causes the top surface 42a of the peg member 42 to be biased against the internal cylindrical surface of the terminal end section 22 as illustrated in FIG. 14. The conduit structure 18a is continually pushed in direction of arrow C in FIG. 14, and while the conduit structure 18a is being continually pushed, the top surface 42a of the peg member 42 remains biasedly engaged to the internal cylindrical surface of the terminal end section 22. Thus, as the conduit structure 18a is being pushed into the terminal end section 22, the top surface 42a of the peg member 42 slides along the internal cylindrical surface of the terminal end section 22 while remaining biasedly engaged thereto with an upward biased being placed on the peg member 42 by the spring- or flex-biased structure 44. The conduit structure 18a is continually pushed or moved in direction of the arrow C until the peg member 42 is under the opening 23 of the terminal end section 22 whereupon the upward bias on the peg member 42 from the spring- or flex-biased structure 44 causes the peg member 42 to be released into the opening 23 as best shown in FIG. 15. Thus, when the peg member 42 reaches the opening 23, the upward biasing of the spring- or flex-biased structure causes the peg member 42 to snap into the opening 23 and to spring back into its original position before being biased. The terminal end sections 20 and 22 are now coupled together as shown in FIG. 15, and the hula hoop ring 10 is now formed for any suitable use, such as being swirled around, and/or movably disposed on, hips of a human being, such as the girl in FIG. 1.

After the hula hoop ring 10 has been used as desired, the procedure is reversed to fold or collapsed the hula hoop ring 10 into the coiled-spring configuration 30 as seen in FIGS. 2-4. More specifically, the peg member 42 is pushed or depressed downwardly until the peg member 42 is no longer in opening 23 and the top surface 42a is below the internal cylindrical surface of the terminal end section 22 and generally aligned with the outside cylindrical surface 18c of the conduit structure 18a.

As previously indicated, when the peg member 42 is depressed or pushed downwardly, the spring- or flex-biased structure 44 (e.g., the intermediate section 50 and structure 52) becomes flexed such that the peg member 42 includes a posture having an upward bias. Subsequently, the conduit structure 18a is commenced being withdrawn from within the terminal end section 22 until the top surface 42a of the peg member 42 is not under or not superimposed by the internal cylindrical surface of the terminal section end 22. The conduit structure 18a is continually pulled in a direction opposite to the direction of arrow C in FIG. 14, and while the conduit structure 18a is being continually pulled, the top surface 42a of the peg member 42 remains biasedly engaged to the internal cylindrical surface of the terminal end section 22. Thus, as the conduit structure 18a is being withdrawn from within the terminal end section 22, the top surface 42a of the peg member 42 slides along the internal cylindrical surface of the terminal end section 22 while remaining biasedly engaged thereto with an upward biased being placed on the peg member 42 by the spring- or flex-biased structure 44.

The conduit structure 18a is continually pulled until the peg member 42 is no longer in contact with the internal cylindrical surface of the terminal end section 22, whereupon the upward bias on the peg member 42 from the spring- or flex-biased structure 44 causes the peg member 42 to be released from biased engagement with the internal cylindrical surface of the terminal end section 22 and to spring or snap back into the position illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 13 where the top surface 42a is above the outside cylindrical surface 18c of the conduit structure 18a. The hula hoop ring 10 now has decoupled and available terminal end sections 20 and 22, and the hula hoop structure may now be folded or collapsed into a coil shaped configuration 30 in accordance with the flow diagram of FIG. 2. As previously indicated, when in the coil shaped configuration 30, the coil-shaped configured, collapsible hula-hoop may be easily carried as seen in FIG. 4, or may be easily stowed in any suitable container for shipping or transportation.

Reference throughout this specification to “one embodiment”, “an embodiment”, or “a specific embodiment” means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention and not necessarily in all embodiments. Thus, respective appearances of the phrases “in one embodiment”, “in an embodiment”, or “in a specific embodiment” in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily referring to the same embodiment. Furthermore, the particular features, structures, or characteristics of any specific embodiment of the present invention may be combined in any suitable manner with one or more other embodiments. It is to be understood that other variations and modifications of the embodiments of the present invention described and illustrated herein are possible in light of the teachings herein and are to be considered as part of the spirit and scope of the present invention.

It will also be appreciated that one or more of the elements depicted in the drawings/figures can also be implemented in a more separated or integrated manner, or even removed or rendered as inoperable in certain cases, as is useful in accordance with a particular application. Additionally, any arrows in the drawings/Figures should be considered only as exemplary, and not limiting, unless otherwise specifically noted. Furthermore, the term “or” as used herein is generally intended to mean “and/or” unless otherwise indicated. Combinations of components or steps will also be considered as being noted, where terminology is foreseen as rendering the ability to separate or combine is unclear.

As used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow, “a”, “an”, and “the” includes plural references unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Also, as used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow, the meaning of “in” includes “in” and “on” unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.

The foregoing description of illustrated embodiments of the present invention, including what is described in the Abstract, is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed herein. While specific embodiments of, and examples for, the invention are described herein for illustrative purposes only, various equivalent modifications are possible within the spirit and scope of the present invention, as those skilled in the relevant art will recognize and appreciate. As indicated, these modifications may be made to the present invention in light of the foregoing description of illustrated embodiments of the present invention and are to be included within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

Thus, while the present invention has been described herein with reference to particular embodiments thereof, a latitude of modification, various changes and substitutions are intended in the foregoing disclosures, and it will be appreciated that in some instances some features of embodiments of the invention will be employed without a corresponding use of other features without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention as set forth. Therefore, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the essential scope and spirit of the present invention. It is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular terms used in following claims and/or to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include any and all embodiments and equivalents falling within the scope of the appended claims.





 
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