Title:
Underdesk apparatus for organizing electronics and connections
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An under desk system is described for mounting electrical devices and their cords to home and office furniture, in particular beneath the desk to remove the clutter and mess often strewn about a computer laden desk. By way of example a rigid planar base member is adapted with engagement structures to retain a power strip, and further adapted with a plurality of band retention fingers configured for engaging elastic bands for being strapped between retention fingers on opposite sides of the power strip to retain AC adapters plugged into the power strip. Devices are also described for retaining modems, routers, wireless communication ports, and other small electrical devices to vertical surfaces, or more preferably beneath desk or other furnishings. These devices can be manufactured using molding processes or any other desired methods.



Inventors:
Rast, Rodger H. (Gold River, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/418966
Publication Date:
12/14/2006
Filing Date:
05/05/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B91/00; A47G29/00; B65D19/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SMITH, NKEISHA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Rodger Rast (Rastar Corp) (GOLD RIVER, CA, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An apparatus for mounting electrical devices and their power and communications cords to home and office furniture, comprising: at least one base plate; a mounting means coupled to said base plate which is configured for attaching said base plate vertically or underneath home and office furniture; at least one elongate support element protruding from each said base plate, said support element adapted for restraining the movement of electrical devices, power strips, or electrical cabling in relation to home and office furniture; and a plurality of band retention fingers extending from each said base plate; said band retention fingers are configured for engaging elastic bands to be coupled between separate band retention fingers and passing over said support element and the electrical devices, power strips, or electrical cabling to retain these against said support element.

2. An apparatus as recited in claim 1, wherein said support element comprises means for releasably or permanently engaging an AC power strip, having one or more AC power sockets and an AC cord, to said base plate.

3. An apparatus as recited in claim 1, wherein said support element comprises protrusions for inserting into and releasably engaging the AC power strip.

4. An apparatus as recited in claim 1: wherein at least two rows of said elongate support elements protrude from a single base plate; wherein at least two rows of band retention fingers extend on either side of the rows of said elongate support elements; and wherein said support elements are adapted with grooves and/or slots to engage power or communication cords through said support elements for retention by elastic bands.

5. An apparatus as recited in claim 1: wherein said at least one base plate comprises a first and second base plate; wherein said support element extends from each said first and second base plate; and wherein a row of said band retention fingers extends from each said first and second base plate and are adapted for engaging elastic bands from said band retention fingers on said first base plate to said band retention fingers on said second base plate and passing over said support elements toward retaining an electrical device between said first and second base plates under said elastic bands.

6. An apparatus for mounting an electrical distribution device to home and office furniture, comprising: a base plate formed from a rigid material; a mounting means coupled to said base plate which is configured for attaching said base plate vertically or underneath a desk or cabinet; means for engaging an electrical distribution device as an AC power strip to said base plate having one or more AC power sockets and an AC cord; and a plurality of releasable band retention fingers extending from said base plate which are configured for engaging elastic bands to be coupled between opposing band retention fingers and passing over the AC power strip to secure AC adapters plugged therein to prevent disengagement of AC adapters.

7. An apparatus as recited in claim 6, wherein said mounting means comprises apertures for engagement by fasteners for attachment of said base plate to the desk or cabinet, or an adhesive material for adhering said base plate to the desk or cabinet to which it is to be fastened.

8. An apparatus as recited in claim 6: further comprising an AC power strip; and wherein said means for engaging comprises a permanent attachment of said AC power strip to said base plate.

9. An apparatus as recited in claim 6, wherein said means for engaging comprises engagement members on said base plate which are configured for attachment to the AC power strip.

10. An apparatus as recited in claim 9, wherein said engagement members comprise at least two protrusions adapted for slidably engaging recesses on the AC power strip.

11. An apparatus as recited in claim 6, wherein said band retention fingers extend at least approximately one-quarter to one-half inch from said base plate and are configured for hooking said elastic bands upon.

12. An apparatus as recited in claim 6, wherein said base plate, device interface, engagement members, and plurality of releasable band retention members are molded in a single piece.

13. An apparatus as recited in claim 6, further comprising a locking element configured for engaging said base member to prevent the AC power strip, which is slidably engaged on said engagement means, from inadvertently sliding away from and becoming disengaged from said engagement means.

14. An apparatus as recited in claim 6, wherein said band retention fingers are molded into said base plate.

15. An apparatus for mounting an electrical distribution device to home or office furniture, comprising: a base plate formed from a rigid material; mounting means comprising either apertures for engagement by fasteners for attachment of said base plate to the home or office furniture, or an adhesive material for adhering said base plate to the home or office furniture to which it is to be fastened in a vertical or underside orientation; at least two engagement structures on said base plate which are configured for releasable mating engagement with an electrical distribution, AC power strip, to said base plate having one or more AC power sockets and an AC cord; and a plurality of releasable band retention fingers extending from said base plate which are configured for engaging elastic bands to be coupled between opposing band retention fingers and passing over the AC power strip to secure AC adapters plugged therein to prevent disengagement of AC adapters.

16. An apparatus as recited in claim 15, wherein said band retention fingers extend at least approximately one-quarter to one-half inch from said base plate and are configured for hooking said elastic bands upon.

17. An apparatus as recited in claim 15, wherein said base plate, engagement structures, and plurality of releasable band retention fingers are molded in a single piece.

18. An apparatus as recited in claim 15, further comprising a locking pin configured for engaging said base member to prevent sliding of an AC power strip engaged on said base member, toward preventing inadvertent disengagement of the AC power strip from said base member.

19. An apparatus as recited in claim 15, wherein said band retention fingers are molded into said base plate.

20. An apparatus as recited in claim 15, wherein said base plate is comprises a substantially planar element of a rigid material, and from which said band retention fingers extend therefrom.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/678,732 filed May 6, 2005.

STATEMENT OF FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO A MICROFICHE APPENDIX

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention pertains generally to office equipment and more particularly to office and desk accessories.

2. Description of the Background Art

Currently it is difficult to organize the electronics and connections needed with home office and small office computer systems. A number and variety of desk electronics must be positioned proximal to the desk and connected. The electronics can comprise peripherals (e.g., displays, printers, scanners, tablets, audio equipment, camera caddies, PDA ports and so forth), communications devices (e.g., telephones, voice recorders, Caller ID units, Faxes, modems, hubs, routers, gateways, wireless devices and so forth), and the like. These devices often have their own power supplies and each receives power over a power cord and may have additional connections for communication.

In typical installations power strips often lie on the ground and connections are strewn about between the various elements, creating a rats-nest of wires cables and boxes. Many problems arise as desk space is usually at a premium and the clutter and tangle of connections unsightly. Installing AC power adapters into vertical or inverted positions often leads to loss of connection, and the risk of personal or equipment damage. Current desk practices allow connections to dangle, get banged around, get snagged and damaged.

Office workers may spend 8-12 hours at their desk area in a given day, wherein comfort, convenience, and aesthetics are all important factors. In addition, it should be appreciated that the jungle of wiring of connections is subject to damage, disconnection, and possibly injuries.

Therefore a need exists for an apparatus for organizing the clutter of cords and electronics about the desk. The underdesk apparatus in accordance with the present invention satisfies that need, as well as others, and overcomes deficiencies in previously known techniques.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a desk organizational system for controlling element positioning and connectivity utilizing a set of clasper devices. By way of example the system is often referred to herein as the “under desk collection”, which provides a system of devices for retaining power devices, cords, and other computer desk related items, such as in a home or small office. Many of the primary aspects of the invention are configured with releasable band retention members coupled to a base plate configured for receiving one or more articles, or connections, and adapted for mounting beneath the desk.

The system includes elements which are particularly well suited for retaining AC power adapters, cords, small electronic items such as modems and routers, other common equipment and other items such as for allowing the feet of the user to comfortably hang under the table.

Embodiments of the present invention can provide a number of beneficial aspects which can be implemented either separately or in any desired combination without departing from the present teachings.

An aspect of the invention is to provide a mechanism for organizing modems, routers, power packs, and associated cords for a computer.

Another aspect of the invention is to utilize the existing space under a desk for retaining a plurality of computer and phone related items for an office worker.

Another aspect of the invention is to provide a system for retaining a range of power supplies and small electronics beneath a desk, while allowing those items to be readily released or moved.

Another aspect of the invention is to retain power supplies within a power strip and assure their retention without risk of falling.

Another aspect of the invention is to provide a foot rest apparatus adapted for mounted under a conventional desk.

Another aspect of the invention is to provide a mechanism for interconnecting telephone equipment on the underside of the desk.

Further aspect and advantages of the invention will be brought out in the following portions of the specification, wherein the detailed description is for the purpose of fully disclosing preferred embodiments of the invention without placing limitations thereon.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention will be more fully understood by reference to the following drawings which are for illustrative purposes only:

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a power strip clasper mechanism according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the power strip clasper mechanism shown in FIG. 1, shown retaining two AC adapter power packs according to an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a short power pack adapter according to an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a connection bundle clasper according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a single clasper strip according to an aspect of the present invention, showing attachment of any desired size module under a desk.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a power clasper integrated within a power strip according to an aspect of the present invention, showing a plurality of protrusions for engaging elastic bands in the retention of AC adapters.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a bundle clasper for organizing wiring underneath the desk according to an aspect of the present invention, showing a plurality of protrusions for engaging elastics bands for engaging and retaining the wiring.

FIG. 8 is a rear-side view of a foot retention device according to an aspect of the present invention, shown retaining the feet of a person operating the computer.

FIG. 9 is a front view of a foot retention device having a different mounting configuration than that shown in FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 and 11 are front and side views of a pivoting assembly for a foot retention device according to an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a facing view of a retractable foot retention device according to an aspect of the present invention, showing a retracted position A and extended position B.

FIG. 13 is a facing view of a multi-position foot retention device according to an aspect of the present invention, showing an extended position with storage means.

FIG. 14 and 15 are facing views of an underdesk lighting device configured for either fixed position, handheld or head-band style use according to an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 16 is a side view of the underdesk lighting device shown in FIG. 14 and 15, shown retained in a position under the desk for illuminating stored accessories, or removal for other uses.

FIG. 17 is a side view of a modular lighting element according to an aspect of the present invention.

FIG. 18 is a facing view of an underdesk phone junction unit according to an aspect of the present invention, shown interconnecting one or two phone lines and being snapped on or off from an underdesk mounting device.

FIG. 19 and 20 are side views of an underdesk stowable fan device according to an aspect of the present invention, shown a retracted and deployed position respectively.

FIG. 21A and 21B are facing and side views of a time multiplexing clock according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of a time multiplexing clock according to an embodiment of the present invention, shown with notepad mountings and pencil holder.

FIG. 23 is a perspective view of a time multiplexing clock according to an embodiment of the present invention, shown with vertical wheel notepad mountings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENT(S)

Referring more specifically to the drawings for illustrative purposes, the present invention is embodied in the method generally described in FIG. 1 to FIG. 23. The following description is presented to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention as provided in the context of a particular application and its requirements. Unnecessary technical details, which extend beyond the necessary information allowing a person of ordinary skill in the art to practice the invention, are preferably absent for the sake of clarity and brevity. Furthermore, it is to be understood that inventive aspects may be practiced in numerous alternative ways by one or ordinary skill without departing from the teachings of the invention. Therefore, various modifications to the preferred embodiments will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art, and the principles defined here may be applied to other embodiments. Thus the present invention is not intended to be limited to the embodiments shown, but is to be accorded the widest scope consistent with the principles and novel features disclosed herein.

1 Organizing Electronics and Cords at the Desktop.

1.1 DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

1.1.1 Introduction.

The present invention describes an assortment of desk clasper apparatus that can be utilized for organizing a variety of desk related electronic elements and connections. By way of example the apparatus is described with embodiments specifically directed at a number of applications. Although all the embodiments have common features of the invention, each also has its own attributes directed to address one or more specific applications. For the sake of convenience, the system of these different devices is generally referred to herein as the “under desk” series.

1.1.2 Clasper Construction.

Each of the clasper devices described below is preferably fabricated from a substantially rigid material that is easily formed into these shapes. A preferred form of fabrication is the molding of these devices, such as in an injection molding process, from a hard plastic for example polycarbonate. Although somewhat more costly than many other plastics polycarbonate is extremely breakage resistant, while it is still readily molded to the desired shape. It should be appreciated that some of the features on the following diagram may not have not been optimized to best suit the injection molding process; but are shown to best represent the functionality provided.

1.1.3 Clasper Mounting.

Each of the clasper devices is adapted for secure attachment on the underside portions of the desk, such as under the desktop or upon the vertical sidewalls of a desk.

It is preferred that the clasper devices be universally mounted on any desk. In one preferred embodiment a thin foam material is attached to the underside of each clasper having a high-tack adhesive that can be exposed by peeling back a protection layer just prior to installation. Optionally, the devices can be provided with structures to allow mounting with glue or fasteners. For example a drill bit having a depth limiting stop is used for creating mounting holes in (and not through) the desk allowing mounting with provided screws. Other forms of mounting can be adopted, such as epoxy, and so forth without departing from the teachings of the present invention.

1.1.4 Power Retention.

FIG. 1 illustrates by way of example, a power strip clasper embodiment 10 that is particularly well suited for mounting a power strip to a desk. A power strip 12 is shown having a number of AC outlets for mounting AC power modules and establishing AC connections. The embodiment has a power retention clasper body 14 formed from a substantially planar material 16, preferably a stiff material. A device interface is exemplified in this figure as a fixed number of plastic nubs 18 for insertion within mounting holes of the power-strip, such as by slipping them in and sliding the power strip in one direction. A locking means is preferably provided, such as comprising a locking pin 22 for retention within a locking structure 20, such threadably engaged although other clasp, slider, and similar mechanisms can be substituted.

Extending from base 14 is also a plurality of releasable band retention members (BRMs) 24a-24L, which are depicted in this example having curving heads adapted for securely but releasable retaining an elastomeric band, or similar stretchable retention member, under tension between BRMs at different locations.

Optional screw mounting apertures 26a-26f are shown to allow adapting the unit for different mounting configurations or to increase mounting security.

FIG. 2 illustrates the power retention clasper body 14 upon which a power strip 12 has been slidably engaged and retained by lock 22. Two AC power adapters 30a-30c are shown engaged in the AC sockets of power strip 12 and retained by polymeric bands 28a-28c stretching between select BRMs. It will be appreciated that the present invention assures that the power supplies are securely retained in the power strips.

It should also be noted that space are created for routing connections on either side of the power strip. These spaces can be further defined by longitudinal fences, which preferably are configured with slots and other structures, such as shown in FIG. 4, to enhance connection retention and adaptability. The polymeric bands may comprise silicon bands or conventional “rubber bands” of proper sizes.

1.1.5 Sidelined Power Retention.

FIG. 3 illustrates an embodiment 40 of a specialized short power connector for use with power packs 42 to be mounted with the system. There is often insufficient room for mounting large AC power packs directly into the AC power strip. However, connecting them remotely leads to having an overly long connection and to the possibility that either or both ends of the connection can work loose.

This aspect of the invention provides a mechanism for securely mounting these AC power packs under the desk while maintaining aesthetics. Connector 40 is shown with a plate 44 extending from a female power receptacle 46 from which the AC wire bundle extends to a male plug end 48. It will be appreciated that elastic bands retaining power module 42, such as according to the device shown in FIG. 5, or FIG. 4 or FIG. 7, can be oriented over plate 44 therein retaining a tight connection with the power pack while retaining the pack to the desk. In one embodiment of the invention plate 44 can be configured with protruding structures 49A, 49b for preventing elastic bands from slipping off of plate 44 and the power supply. In another embodiment plug end 49 is configured with protrusions 49c for being engaged with elastic bands to assure its retention within the power strip. It should be appreciated that these structures can be implemented in a variety of ways for retaining the elastic bands. It should be noted that protrusions 49c are preferably mounted at least a slight distance away from the bottom 49d of plug 48; thus allowing the elastic band to apply a desired bias force onto plug. Similarly, structures 49a are shown configured to extend up from plate 44, and retain an elastic band extending over it with optional protruding ends 49e, to assure the plate is biased toward the power pack and that the retention bands are not displaced.

1.1.6 Connection Bundle Retention.

FIG. 4 illustrates by way of example embodiment a connection bundle clasper 50 which constricts connection bundles as well as routed connections. Clasper 50 is shown configured with a substantially planar body 52, preferably of a stiff molded material, and a device interface exemplified in this figure as a plurality of extended protrusions 54a, 54b, shown in a preferred configuration in two adjacent rows, although more than two rows can be utilized and the protrusions need not be aligned in a row. In one embodiment at least one of the interfacing protrusions 54a, 54b are adapted with connection slots 56 to enhance retention flexibility. In addition, the protrusion are preferably adapted, for example with recessed portions 58, to assure non-slip retention of elastic members between the releasable band retention members (BRMs) 60. The BRMs are shown formed in a “question mark” style shape, although it should be appreciated that any structure which can releasable retain the bands can be utilized without departing from the teachings of the present invention. Optional mounting holes 62 are shown in case additional mounting security is desired, or for use after removal from a first use in cases where the user did not wish to obtain additional double-sided mounting foam. A few elastic band paths 64, 66, 68 are shown by way of example passing over and through various portions of the device between CRMs, although it should be realized that the present structure provides numerous connection path alternatives depending on the retention situation. A preferred adhesive mounting layer 70 is shown by way of example as a layer of double adhesive sided foam, which may cover all or a portion of the backside of the clasper device.

In variations of device 50 it should be appreciated that protrusions 54a, 54b may be formed of different shapes, may be curved toward one another to aid retention, may provide additional protrusions into area 72 for retaining connection reels, or other items between the protrusion rows.

In use connections are routed through the bundle clasper 50 with the excess length being rolled or otherwise stuffed into the area between the protruding rows 54a, 54b. Elastic bands are then applied between BRMs for providing retention into the device.

1.1.7 Module Retention.

FIG. 5 illustrates by way of example an embodiment 90 of a single clasper strip, as part of a pair of claspers used for retaining modems, routers, switch boxes, and the like having unknown size. A base 92 is shown having a mounting means, such as double-sided adhesive tape 94. A raised retention bar 95 provides for retaining the positions of modules against the clasper, while a plurality of BRMs 96 extend from base 92 for retaining elastic bands 98 over the module 100 (shown in phantom) to be retained. Retention bar 95 may be adapted of different sizes, breakaway unused portions, or other structures to aid retention. Module clasper 90 may be adapted, such as with a series of perforations 102 to allow it to be divided into a number of portions. Additional mounting adaptations 104, such as apertures, may be incorporated to facilitate mounting in alternative ways.

1.1.8 Connection Management.

The above elements can be utilized in conjunction with various forms of devices for retaining connections, such as miniature reels, or the like. In one example a miniature elongated device having two y-shaped ends allows the elongated portion of the connections to be wound prior to retention within the clasper of FIG. 4, or less preferably the claspers shown in FIG. 1, 2, or 5. In addition, cable bundling straps can be utilized with the system, such as elongated straps with opposing parts of hook-and-loop fastener (i.e., Velcro®). Furthermore, tags can be provided for labeling the connections, modules, and other items being retained in the under desk mounting system.

1.1.9 Alternative Power Retention.

FIG. 6 illustrates by way of example an embodiment 110 of a power clasper which is integrated into the power strip 12. In this embodiment arms 112 extend from the exterior of the power strip configured with BRM structures 114 for retaining elastic bands between opposing BRMs, wherein power modules can be retained inserted within the power strip. It should be appreciated that the power strip of this aspect of the invention can be configured with BRMs of various shapes and sizes. It is preferred that the elastic interface of the BRM be slightly separated from the exterior of the power strip (though not necessary) wherein it is easier to route elastic retention bands over a power pack that is significantly wider than the power strip. It will be appreciated that a strip, such as module mounting strip shown in FIG. 5, or similar, can be attached to the sides of the power strip (with or without a spacer) to provide the power pack retention means.

1.1.10 Alternate Bundle Retention.

FIG. 7 illustrates by way of example embodiment a portion 130 of a bundle clasper having alternative forms of BRMs and extended protrusions. Adhesive backing portions 132a, 132b (i.e., double-sided adhesive foam) are shown attached to base 134.

In this example the BRMs are implemented with protrusions 136 shaped (i.e., such as with recess) to retain an elastic band from slipping when engaged therein. A slot 138 is shown beneath the BRM, which facilitates the fabrication of device 130. It will be appreciated that if device 130 is formed from metal, such as aluminum, then BRMs can be cut and formed from the base material 134. In addition, when device 130 is fabricated in a molding process, then slots 138 facilitate creation of a simple mold and the ability to release that mold. The protruding portions 140 are also shown with some variations, specifically, slotted exterior surfaces 142, engagement slots 144, and so forth. It will be recognized that these variations can accommodate a variety of connection retention duties as well as for holding the elastic bands in a desired non-slip manner.

1.1.11 Foot Retention.

The following describes a foot hangar device aspect of the under desk collection that provides a hanging loop device which attaches under tables desks and the like allowing the user to selectively prop their feet.

FIG. 8 and FIG. 9 illustrates by way of example embodiment 150 a foot retention device according to the invention. By way of example a desk is shown 152 upon which is positioned a PC 154 (view shown from the rear). An elongated strap assembly 158 is shown with a padded portion 160 surrounding a high strength strap 162 (i.e., capable of retaining at least approximately 100 pounds). One embodiment of the strap can be implemented as a stretchable material, preferably with a stop limit wherein breakage does not occur, providing flexibility while reducing the length of material deployed beneath the desk when not in use. An optional buckle 164 is shown on strap 162 to allow adjusting the length of the strap and thus the position at which feet are retained below the desk. Alternately, the ends of the strap may be adjustable at the attachment point to the underside of the desk to adjust the drop length. According to one embodiment the fastener can be engaged in different locations along the length of the strap material, such as into reinforced eyelets along the strap length. Alternatively, the strap fasteners can be configured for selectively deploying a desired length, such as from a spool. Strap assembly 158 is retained to the desk by at its ends by a mounting hangar 166 having elongated portion 168 with releasable end 170.

It is preferable that the feet hangar device be readily stowable under the desk, wherein it can not be seen or inadvertently interacted with. In this embodiment a first mounting device 172 is shown attached under the desk with second mating fasteners 174 attached to a portion of strap assembly 158. Alternatively, a container, or other means of holding a portion of strap assembly 158 can be provided to eliminate the excess material hanging beneath the desk.

In one embodiment of the invention the strap is configured with at least one intermediate releasable attachment point, or retention means, wherein the vertical displacement of the device can be limited, such as to increase aesthetic appeal.

FIG. 9 depicts a foot retention device 180 shown with two different forms of retracting extended retention means. The left side of the figure depicts an elongate member 168 having interconnecting end 186 configured for attachment to a distal end connector 184 of strap 182. Elongate member 168 attaches to a pivoting assembly 188, such as containing an axle and spring assembly (i.e., coil spring) or other biasing means. In response to force F strap 180 with cushion 160 is pulled down into the comfortable use position as shown. When the feet are removed the biasing force causes member 168 to rotate into a substantially horizontal position thus reducing the length that strap 180 extends below the desk.

The right side of FIG. 9 depicts a similar rotating elongate member, which is canted so that it not only retracts upon releasing force F, but swings away from the center thus taking up more of the slack from strap 180. In other words, when the user inserts a foot or feet and applies pressure the member 168 rotates downward and inward wherein the distance between connection points 186 on each member 168 is a first distance X. Upon releasing tension, the bias force takes over and connection points 186 rotate on members 168 up toward a horizontal position wherein the distance between connection points 186 is given by X+V. Typically the value of V can be any desired value up to approximately ±10 inches. In this way the foot hanger can be formed without the need of additional under desk retention means, thereby increasing convenience.

FIG. 10 and FIG. 11 depict facing and side views, respectively, of pivoting assembly 188 from which elongate members 168 extend. A housing 190 is shown attached by axle 192 to bracket 193. Elongate member 168 is shown attached to pivoting member 188 and having a strap connection fastener 186, depicted as a overlapping metal clip section. Bracket 193 is shown configured for mounting to the underside of the desk with fasteners 194, preferably sheet metal or other screws.

It is preferred, although not necessary, that pivoting assembly 188 be configured to allow user adjustability. For example, a rotational adjust screw is shown 196 to adjust the amount of rotation, while a depth stop 198 allows adjusting the depth (or angle) of elongate member 168 retained in the assembly 188. The length of elongate member 168 can be optional cut to a desired depth or members of different length provided to further provide adjustability. An intermediate member 199 can be coupled to the strap or padding 160 to prevent chaffing between the shoes of the user, although it is typically more comfortable to use the device with socked feet.

FIG. 12 illustrates an alternate embodiment 200 wherein each of the pivoting assemblies 166 of FIG. 8, or 188 in FIG. 9, are replaced with a retraction spool 206 for selectively retaining strap 204. The use of retraction spools 206 allows keeping the strap held close beneath the desk (Position A shown in phantom) when not in use.

Preferably a “toe insertion gap” is formed allowing the user to insert the tip of one foot to pull the device into the active position. Straps 204 may be a single strap of any desired cross-section or multiple straps. In one embodiment the straps comprise a planar nylon belt material having a tensile strength preferably at or exceeding about 100-200 pounds.

The reels can be configured to extend only in response to sufficient pressure, wherein upon the user removing their feet from the device it automatically retracts. Alternatively, the reels can provide controlled retraction using a latching means which is responsive to user input by way of levers, pull cords, magnets over the top of desk, fixed latches, and so forth. In one embodiment the latches are activated in response to a quick downward acceleration which causes the latch to disengage and straps 204 to retract into the reels. It will be appreciated that numerous reel retraction mechanisms exist wherein that aspect of the invention need not be described in further detail.

It should be appreciated that a single spool may be used on a first side with the other end of the foot strap not capable of being extended, for example being fixed to the desk, although the positioning of the pad may need to be adjusted during deployment. Alternatively, a single spool may feed strap simultaneous through pulleys at the ends of the foot hangar position, wherein it can be made to extend and retract equally using a single reel. It will be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that a number of alternative mechanisms can be implemented without departing from the teachings of the present invention.

The spool is preferably similarly configured to adjust the amount of strap that is released, the maximum drop length, and optionally the minimal drop length. The spool can be adapted with a latching mechanism allowing the strap to retain in the down and locked position until the user applies a temporary override pulse force to unlatch the spool for retraction. In this way the user can leave the strap in the down position, until it is desired to stow it away, wherein they can “kick” it down with a foot and release it back into the stowed position.

FIG. 13 illustrates another embodiment 200′ in which the reels 206 of FIG. 12 are replaced with fixed retention clips 206′ for fixedly retaining the strap 204, which in this embodiment is adapted 204′ for being retained at a desired position within clips 206′, such as having eyelets 205 along its length for engaging clip 206′. Preferably the clips have retainers to prevent the strap from becoming disengaged, although a number of other mechanisms, such as buckles, retention bias members, and so forth can be utilized without departing from the teachings of the present invention. It will be recognized that this embodiment represents a very low cost approach, while still allowing the user to stow the strap away in a desk, or more preferably in an under desk retention device 210a or housing 201b, when not in use.

It should be appreciated that the foot hanger aspect of the invention can be implemented in a number of alternative ways without departing from the teachings of the present invention. The following are provided by way of example and not limitation.

Multipoint connection (triple connection), and/or multi-level connection to provide a variety of positions for the device. The foot hanger can be fabricated as a substantially rigid structure, for example with a metal frame having adequate padding on the drop bar, which still may be preferably compliant. In one embodiment the rigid frame is configured with a U-shaped frame whose ends engage rotating pivots allowing the foot hangar to assume a stored position against the underside of the desk and a usable position hanging beneath the desk. The foot hangar can be formed as two separate sections, one for each foot although this is generally less preferable.

In addition the foot hangar device can be changed to and from a stored position (if this feature is desired) in a number of alternative ways, the following being given by way of example. (1) attachment points (e.g., fasteners, magnets, hook and loop fasteners, and the like. (2) pull string with retention clip—preferably actuatable without climbing under the desk. (3) Storage housing into which at least a portion of device is pressed. It is also preferred that the user can move the device into or out of the stored position with either the feet, manually from the top or front of the desk (reachable without climbing under the desk).

1.1.12 Lichting Retention.

In one aspect of the system a flashlight is configured for convenient attachment under the desk, or near the top portion of a side or rear desk kick-panel. It may be configured with a housing to appear like a modem or similar box unit, or formed in a more conventional shape to allow for various manual retention. Preferably the flashlight is configured to have its light directed under the desk for viewing connections, modules, and module interconnections without the need for removal, while it should allow for convenient removal if the user needs a closer look at module and connections.

In one embodiment the light is configured with an integral strap for head mounting for deep or close-up under-desk work. Therefore, the unit can be removed and used as a hand-held light source or a strap extended to allow mounting on the head of the wearer.

FIG. 14-FIG. 16 illustrate an embodiment 210 of the under desk lighting device configured for fixed position use, handheld use, and head light style use. In this embodiment the unit is configured with an elongated housing with an elastic head strap extending proximal to both ends. The light can thus be retained above the ear on the side of head and its angle both vertically and horizontally can thus be readily adjusted. It will be appreciated that, by contrast, forehead mounted lights have limited adjustability in the vertical direction. A body 212 of the flashlight is configured for retaining batteries or other power sources to power one or more LEDs or other light generating means retained in proximal end 214, which preferably houses a reflector assembly and protection lens. A distal end 216 is preferably configured with a retraction reel for a strap 220 whose opposing end has a fixed attachment 218 near the proximal end of light 210. The strap can be formed with an elastic material, wherein it need not have an adjustable length retraction mechanism.

Alternatively, or additionally, the retraction reel may be provided with an extension button 224, adjustment screws, or similar to allow the user to adapt the amount of strap which can be extended for the size of their head. Using the extension button, the user presses the button to release the strap latch and applies an extension force on the strap until is it pulled to a desired loop size (i.e., which can be marked on the strap for each user). Then the user can slip it over their head with the flashlight portion preferably retained above an ear. It should be recognized that the body portion 212 may be fabricated to follow a curve to more readily fit alongside of the user's head. FIG. 14 depicts the strap in the retracted position, while FIG. 15 depicts the strap in the extended position.

FIG. 16 illustrates one mode of mounting light 210 under desk with housing 226 having clips 228 adapted to engage the light. Optionally, the light can be held with elastic bands within one of the retention devices described previously. In this embodiment the device can be mounted under the desk, or on a side panel, oriented with the light source facing rearward to illuminate under desk modules and wiring when activated by pressing button 222, or other means of actuation.

The unit can be configured with a large switch surface for easy activation. The unit is preferably configured to automatically turn itself off after a period of time, such as one to three minutes, wherein inadvertent activation will not unduly run down the batteries. Alternatively, or additionally, the unit can be configured with an audio annunciator that announces, at least periodically, that the device is active therein preventing unwanted activation.

FIG. 17 illustrates an embodiment 250 of the light shaped as a module, such as a modem or similar, having body 252 with light output 254 directed to the under desk area and retention means 256 such as elastic bands holding the module to a retention device such as depicted in FIG. 5. Optionally the unit can provide forward facing flashing lights to simulate a modem, while providing storage for small items, change and so forth.

1.1.13 Underdesk Connection Panel

One aspect of the system is a multiple line phone junction unit, for example two or three lines, that allows the user to connect to any of the incoming lines and route inner or outer pairs as desired.

FIG. 18 illustrates one example embodiment 270 of a two line junction preferably comprising five RJ-11 connectors. A base plate 272 is shown configured for mounting to the underside of the desk, such as with cutouts 274, adapted for removable insertion upon a junction retainer 282, for instance held by clips 284 extending from a retention plate 282 configured for mounting under desk such as with adhesive tape, adhesive, or fasteners for instance through aperture 286.

The junction is preferably configured with one input 276 with two connectors on each line for output, line one shown with two outputs 278 and line two also having two outputs 280. In this way the user can bring in their phone lines to under the desk and from there can route to any device at the desk or thereabouts. The input lines or lines are connected with cross-coupling so that the inner and outer pair are swapped on different lines.

1.1.14 Under Desk Fan-Heater.

FIG. 19 and FIG. 20 illustrate one aspect of the system by way of example with an optional flip down fan and/or heater 290 mounted on a desk 292, fan 294 which can have a heater element or provide simply a fan or could have an air conditioning element. In this embodiment a hinge 296 attaches to the unit 294, with power cord 298. A locking clasp 300 is configured for latching fan/heater 294 into a horizontal position for storage. A switch can be incorporated so that the fan can automatically switch on when the fan is swung down into the vertical position.

1.1.15 Miscellaneous Element Retention.

The under desk mounting system of the present invention can include a large number of additional mounting devices. The following list of retention devices being provided by way of example: air can retention, remote control retention, favorite pen(s) holder, desk wipe container retention, duster retention (i.e., can include in set), meter stick/ruler retention; pull down facial tissues retention, and/or wipes retention.

1.1.16 SOHO Guide to Under Desk Retention.

The under desk system of the present invention is preferably accompanied by an Instruction booklet on how to tame the wiring jungle for small offices and home offices. The guide provides basics on how to check for usable mounting area, routing of connections, attachment, order to attach items (large and limited connection runs and devices first), tips on which units to use, test layouts, connection pulling, and the like. A computer program may also be provide to aid in this, or to provide a more easily storable set of information, although since the system is rather intuitive there may be little need.

2 Time Multiplexing Clock, New Embodiment.

2.1 REFERENCES

Incorporates by reference copending application(s):

Utility patent application describing a time multiplexing clock within docket “TMux0338 Ser. No. 10/971,680 filed Oct. 22, 2004; which is a continuation in part of Ser. No. 10/039,709 filed Jan. 4, 2002, and the following provisional applications: Ser. No. 60/302,897 filed Jul. 2, 2001; Ser. No. 60/301/193 filed Jun. 26, 2001; Ser. No. 60/259,955 filed Jan. 5, 2001; and Ser. No. 60/260,106 filed Jan. 6, 2001. The applications are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

2.2 BACKGROUND

Presently it is difficult to readily track time being used by a number of tasks, or according to different billing categories, customers and the like. The present invention provides a simple at hand mechanism allowing the user to track the amount of elapsed time expended in a number of alternative categories.

2.3 SUMMARY

A multitasking clock embodiment which is inexpensively implemented as an attractive desk accessory according to a number of alternative embodiments. The embodiment herein described utilizes peel off writing surface, such as of one or more paper pads, post it notes, peel up rewritable surface and the like.

2.4 DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

2.4.1 Rotating Housing TMux with w/Integral Notepad.

The following embodiment describes a TMux clock embodiment which is adapted for being positioned at one of a number of different positions along its side. This is as described in the preceding application to which this references. In one embodiment positioning on the side is accomplished by making the device in the shape of a polygon (e.g., triangle, square, pentagon, star, hexagon, and so forth), although it can be round, oval and so forth so long as it is configured, such as with legs or similar, so that it retains its position.

FIG. 21A and 21B illustrate an example embodiment 10 (front and side views) of this form of TMux clock which utilizes a custom note pad for use with the device. A housing 12 is adapted with a means for receiving a note pad, such as a recessed portion 14, adhesive, or other mechanism for retaining a note pad 16. The use of a recess has the benefit that the note pad can be of loose pieces of paper, and need not be bound, although a releasable tack adhesive, similar to that used in so called “Post-it-Notes” may be preferred. Note pad 16 is shown cut for fitting the TMux clock, in this case having a hexagonal exterior shape and interior circular cutout 18. The note pad allows the user to jot notes 20 about the activities being timed. The note pad may be configured with markings, serrations, or other indicia 30 indicating the boundaries of each note section. Alternatively, the housing can be adapted for receiving a plurality of separate note pads 32, such as Post-it Style notes. Use of separate note pads has a number of advantages, in that less paper can be used as written notes can be removed from timer sections that are completed and have been reset—the elapsed time being written on the sheet prior to removal.

Time multiplexing clock 22 is shown in an analog LCD format, as described in the previous application capable of displaying minute and hour hands 24, 26 respectively, and hour marker ticks 28. Preferably, the clock output can be generated so that 12 o'clock markers and other markers are in conventional vertical orientation despite the rotation of the housing. As described in the other application a sensor, such as a simple tilt, or ball cage, switch detector, for determining what orientation the clock is in.

2.4.2 TMux Having Selectable Position Note Pad.

FIG. 22 illustrates an example embodiment 50 in which a note pad, or a plurality of note pads, is positioned depending on the task to be timed. The note pad preferably comprises a conventional bound, unbound, or lightly bound (i.e., “sticky” notes) paper pads, although it can less preferably comprise other writable surfaces (e.g., peel layer erasing polymeric, electronic ink, or any other convenient writable media).

The housing of embodiment 50 comprises a stationary upper portion 52, having a vertical opening 54, which in this example serves as a pencil holder. All or a portion of the exterior of upper portion 52 is preferably adapted with magnetic areas 55 for retaining paper clips (shown), or holding other non-sticky notes or cards. It should be appreciated that all the TMux embodiments can be similarly combined in any desired way with known elements to enhance the utility of the device in a variety of ways.

A time multiplexing clock display 56 is shown for displaying the elapsed time for the currently selected task. It is preferred that the display comprise two displays 58, 60, one for representing real time, and the other for displaying elapsed time on one task. As described in the pending application any number of display elements may be included, and the display preferably include insignia 62 to provide feedback on user input, modes, and so forth. Control interface buttons 64, 66 are shown with a task selection indicator 68. The buttons allow the user to reset, or manually adjust the elapsed time for a given task. The control buttons can control the setting of the real time clock, and special features, such as summing the time associated with all or select tasks, setting alarms, or other features implemented according to the desired application.

A rotatable lower portion 69 is adapted for retaining a writing surface. The writing surface for example may comprise recesses 70 adapted for receiving separate note pads 72. This embodiment is shown for receiving six individual sticky-note style note pads, allowing notes 74 to be written according to any task being timed. In one embodiment rotatable lower surface 69 may comprise a circular element that is slipped over upper housing 52 and rests on an inner support base 75 (mostly hidden), preferably weighted with metal/lead and/or batteries for operating the TMux clock, that extends at an angle outwardly and down from the upper housing. The positioning of rotatable lower surface 69 is preferably aided by a simple index mechanism, for example a roller that drops into a recess when a task pad on lower surface 69 is aligned with mark 68. Although any convenient form of indexing mechanism can be utilized. It is preferred that an additional index be provided intermediate of each task pad, for pausing the task timing, therein allowing the user to stop all task timing, but be ready to quickly move the surface 69 to start TMux timing.

It is preferred that if a second display is available that the time of day be displayed. If a display is not available then the time of day can be displayed when the no tasks are selected. In addition date can be displayed in response to modes of the TMux, such as when the unit is setup for timing activity that over a period of days.

The TMux clock is configured for sensing the position of lower surface 69 so that it can properly start and stop the tasks. Any convenient form of sensors (e.g., switches, combination LED and photo transistor, pressure sensors, Hall effect sensors, and so forth) can be utilized. In one embodiment three very small mechanical switches are attached to the stationary portion of the device for sensing the alignment of slot structures along a track which protrudes from the underside of upper housing 69. For example when none of the task pads are aligned then the switches can be fully depressed to an ON state (000b) as no slots are positioned over the switches. If the upper housing 69 is not properly received by the inner support base 75, then all switches are not depressed and in an OFF state (111b). The other six binary states (001b, 010b, 011b, 100b, 101b, and 110b) provide information on which task pad is currently selected. It will be appreciated that switches are inexpensive to implement and can draw very meager amounts of current. For example they may be used as inputs to a microprocessor, and may further comprise inputs that are capable of generating an interrupt to awaken the processor from a sleep or power-down mode, therein reducing power consumption. In another embodiment, the switches are only depressed as periodic structures engage the switches as a task pad comes into alignment with the task selector 68. Another form of very low current sensing involves the use of reed switches (or Hall effect sensors) whose state is controlled by magnets on the rotatable surface 69.

FIG. 23 illustrates by way of example embodiment 90 another selectable position note pad holder TMux having a vertically oriented rotatable note pad holder. In this embodiment a housing 92 is adapted with the TMux display 94. Housing 92 may be adapted with a top side opening for holding pencils or other structures to provide combination functionality with any conventional desktop accessory or accessory directed toward the application at hand. A support base 96 is shown and a separate support 98 shown to support wheel 100 on axle 102. An optional lock 103 is depicted for preventing wheel movement, such as when the user is writing on one of the note pads 104 retained on the wheel. Similar to the previous embodiment the position of the task pads are sensed by the TMux circuit.

The time multiplexing circuit of the present invention was described fully in the prior application and provides for retaining a plurality of task elapsed times and the starting and stopping of timing thereof. Additional functionality can be provided to describe daily versus overall totals and other optional features which were described in the prior application.

2.5 CLAIM LANGUAGE

The device can be described according to the following claim language, although it can be described in a number of alternative ways.

1. An apparatus for tracking time according to a plurality of tasks, comprising:

a housing;

a display coupled to said housing for displaying an elapsed time value;

a memory configured for retaining at least an elapsed time value for each of a plurality of tasks;

means for generating an electrical signal in response to sensing which task of a plurality of tasks has been selected; and

means for modifying said memory in response to registering elapsed time for one of a plurality in response to said electrical signal and displaying the elapsed time on said display.

3 Bite Registration Tactile Sensing Input Device.

3.1 REFERENCES

Incorporates by reference copending application(s):

Utility patent application describing keyboard functionality which is particularly well suited for use by the bed-ridden or disabled within docket “KeyboardRAST070103” Ser. No. 10/612,777 filed Jul. 1, 2003;

Provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/394,160 filed Jul. 1, 2002.

3.2 BACKGROUND

Presently paraplegics have a limited repertoire on keyboard style encoding devices, many require a great deal of dexterity as well as being slow. Furthermore, these device often prevent the user from speaking when using the device.

3.3 SUMMARY

A device for entering keystrokes in response to the relative motion between upper and lower bite wings. The user can performing keyboard entry and pointer device functionality using only their teeth. The device also allows the user to still speak without being hindered.

3.4 DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

3.4.1 Teeth Motion Keyboard Translation.

The input device for the present invention comprises a mouthpiece which preferably fits conformally over the teeth of the user. The portion fitting over the teeth, or a portion thereof can be thin and clear, therein not disruptive to speech. The device can even be fabricated to engage between the teeth to allow even eating.

Sensing means are coupled to both top and bottom teeth to sense their relative position. For example a group of four Hall effect sensors in close proximity to one another for a frontal location on the top teeth and a small magnet or electromagnet coupled for a matching frontal position in the bottom row of teeth. The use multiple sensors in a single sense head allows the relative direction to be sensed as well as the distance based on intensity. The sensor can be coupled to a single tooth with a removable cap device (or permanently as desired) and the magnet can be coupled to another removable cap device (or similarly permanently mounted). The devices can coupled through wiring to a conditioning and data acquisition module, or may be more preferably configured to communicate as a passive RFID device configured for communicating sense data preferably asynchronously, which has been described in other applications by the inventor. In another embodiment the sensors are coupled to a small transmitter module attached to the sensor, such as held within one cheek.

The sensing means allows the circuitry to detect the relative positioning of the upper and lower teeth, which the computer then maps to the keyboard. For instance consider the upper tooth as B and lower tooth as A (with sensor): then an entire 2 dimensional range of values exists for the position of B relative to A, such to right of, left of, forward of, or behind, and the intensity in each of those directions. It will be readily appreciated that this range of motion is then mapped to a 2D grid of keys for the keyboard. The keyboard can be a conventional one with the English alphabet, one with shorthand, or any other desired input mapping. The relative motion is sensed as a preselection according to applicant's previous keyboard invention included by reference.

In one embodiment detection of the closure between the teeth initiates the keystroke of the key which has been displayed as a preselection. The closure can be readily sensed acoustically by attaching an acoustic sensor, such as a microphone selective for sensing vibration through the teeth, and/or in-mouth acoustics. Alternatively, hall effect sensors or other sensor types may be utilized for detecting a full closure. A means of sensing a switch between keyboard and joystick mode is also preferably provided, such as by detecting a closed overbite, a double teeth click, or some other element using the same or different sensing means.

The microprocessor circuitry analyzes the A to B positioning data relative to calibration factors stored for the individual in a learning mode. This positioning data is then used to create the 2D mapping to the keyboard. In addition, the sensing can be switched to a joystick mode wherein the motion is provided for moving the cursor. As data is received from the user, the microprocessor performs continuous mapping of the positions to keys which are temporarily displayed as a pre-sense display. Upon the user closing the teeth the displayed key is then entered as a keystroke. When in joystick mode the cursor is continuously updated based on the sensed data, and the click used for selection. The joystick preferably uses the same learned data set on positioning, but maps it through a different conversion to control a joystick, the direction from center being used and the distances from center mapping to increased velocity.

This keyboard and joystick works in conjunction with the keyboard software which was previously described by the inventor wherein the a display of the keys is shown prior to a key strike.

It should be appreciated that selections according to the invention can be triggered and different modes activated in a number of different ways. The following is described according to an embodiment provided by way of example and not limitation.

Sustained overbite closure bite in this embodiment is used to register a transition between keyboard and joystick mode. A keystroke or left click with the joystick can be detected from the short bite with teeth in any non-overbite relationship. A right click on the joystick can be registered from a short overbite closure.

The device is preferably externally powered with an inductive or RF coupling, although capacitors, batteries, or the like may be utilized. In another power option, motion responsive devices, such as piezoelectric, which generate a voltage in response to being flexed can be integrated such that the jaw movements themselves generate the power from flexing, compressing, or otherwise creating relative physical movement or change to the power producing device. In one embodiment inductive coupling is used in which an interface unit is retained near the mouth of the individual, such as on a device attached to a lanyard around the neck of the individual.

According to one example embodiment, the teeth keyboard is preferably produced by creating impressions of the user's teeth, as would be performed prior to dental procedures or when creating bleach trays. These forms would then be modified to accommodate the electronics.

3.4.2 Tongue Motion Keyboard Translation.

The input device for this aspect of the present invention comprises a plurality of sensors which are attached to portions of the teeth, or more preferably as small (i.e., rice kernel sized) sensor heads mounted between teeth. The positioning of the tongue is sensed in relation to the teeth, or more precisely the sensors positioned on or near the teeth. Different positions in the mouth then are mapped to correspond to different key locations on the keyboard. Using the key pre-sensing described from the associated keyboard invention the position is first indicated before the key is pressed, wherein the user can hunt for the right “key” which corresponds to a particular position. In this way the user can readily learn a key map with their tongue; but while learning can still use the device, albeit somewhat more slowly.

In one embodiment wires lead from these small sensors to a conditioning circuit containing or coupled to a data acquisition module. In one embodiment the sensor heads can be implemented as small inductors wherein the inductance changes for each unit in relation to the proximity and positioning of the tongue. This aspect of the invention can be utilized separately to control the keyboard fully through tongue motion, or more preferably in combination with the above teeth motion sensing apparatus so that closing the teeth then acts as an actual key press.

In either embodiment, once the key or cursor motion is mapped and entered it is treated conventionally and sent to the computer for processing. It should be appreciated that the present invention is amenable to embodiment in a number of different ways and in combination with elements from a variety of systems without departing from the teachings herein.

4. Invention Scope.

The aspects, modes, embodiments, variations, and features described are considered beneficial to the embodiments described or select applications or uses; but are illustrative of the invention wherein they may be left off or substituted for without departing from the scope of the invention. Preferred elements of the invention may be referred to whose inclusion is generally optional, limited to specific applications or embodiment, or with respect to desired uses, results, cost factors and so forth which would be known to one practicing said invention or variations thereof. For example, one of ordinary skill may find other suitable substitutes for certain applications, expressed as types, configurations, placement, number of, etc.

Moreover, a system, apparatus, or method according to the various embodiments of the invention may be provided with all with all of features described herein, or only portions thereof, which combinations may be practiced and/or sold together or separately. For example, a system, apparatus, or method may be manufactured and sold without certain desired equipment for later assembly. In this regard, such equipment may be “adapted to” include or otherwise couple to such equipment without departing from the intended scope hereof.

It should be appreciated that each aspect of the invention may generally be practiced independently, or in combinations with elements described herein or elsewhere depending on the application and desired use. Modes may be utilized with the aspects described or similar aspects of this or other devices and/or methods. Embodiments exemplify the modes and aspects of the invention and may include any number of variations and features which may be practiced with the embodiment, separately or in various combinations with other embodiments.

Although the description above contains many specificities, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments of this invention. Thus the scope of this invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents. Therefore, it will be appreciated that the scope of the present invention fully encompasses other embodiments which may become obvious to those skilled in the art, and that the scope of the present invention is accordingly to be limited by nothing other than the appended claims, in which reference to an element in the singular is not intended to mean “one and only one” unless explicitly so stated, but rather “one or more.” All structural, chemical, and functional equivalents to the elements of the above-described preferred embodiment that are known to those of ordinary skill in the art are expressly incorporated herein by reference and are intended to be encompassed by the present claims. Moreover, it is not necessary for a device or method to address each and every problem sought to be solved by the present invention, for it to be encompassed by the present claims. Furthermore, no element, component, or method step in the present disclosure is intended to be dedicated to the public regardless of whether the element, component, or method step is explicitly recited in the claims. No claim element herein is to be construed under the provisions of 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph, unless the element is expressly recited using the phrase “means for.”