Title:
Self-ventilating and self-cooling variable geometry pillow
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A self-ventilating and self-cooling variable geometry pillow comprising a middle module comprising a core composed of an open-cell shape memory material and a cores-envelope that surrounds the core; a first outer module connected to the middle module, the first outer module comprising a core composed of an open-cell shape memory material and a cores-envelope that surrounds the core; a second outer module connected to the middle module, the second outer module comprising a core composed of an open-cell shape memory material and a cores-envelope that surrounds the core; a first articulation crease that allows the first outer module to rotate with respect to the middle module; and a second articulation crease that allows the second outer module to rotate with respect to the middle module. The pillow's variable geometry accommodates various types of sleepers.



Inventors:
Rathle, Mario M. (Belmont, MA, US)
Application Number:
11/521970
Publication Date:
01/18/2007
Filing Date:
09/16/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/636
International Classes:
A47G9/00; A01K1/035; A47C21/04; A47G9/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SAFAVI, MICHAEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JUAN P. RINCON (BOCA RATON, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A pillow comprising: a middle module comprising a core composed of an open-cell shape memory material and a cores-envelope that surrounds the core; a first outer module connected to the middle module, the first outer module comprising a core composed of an open-cell shape memory material and a cores-envelope that surrounds the core; a second outer module connected to the middle module, the second outer module comprising a core composed of an open-cell shape memory material and a cores-envelope that surrounds the core; a first articulation crease that allows the first outer module to rotate with respect to the middle module; and a second articulation crease that allows the second outer module to rotate with respect to the middle module.

2. The pillow of claim 1 wherein the first outer module, the second outer module and the middle module permit air to flow through to dissipate body generated heat.

3. The pillow of claim 1 wherein the first outer module is rotated about the first articulation crease so a top surface of the first outer module contacts a top surface of the middle module.

4. The pillow of claim 1 wherein the second outer module is rotated about the second articulation crease so a top surface of the second outer module contacts a top surface of the middle module.

5. The pillow of claim 1 wherein the core and the cores-envelope are composed of open-cell shape memory materials that permit airflow to dissipate body generated heat.

6. The pillow of claim 1 wherein the first outer module and the second outer module are rotated about the first articulation crease and the second articulation crease to move the pillow from a flat configuration to a folded configuration.

7. The pillow of claim 1 further comprising a case enclosing the plurality of modules, the case composed of a breathable material having a plurality of holes.

8. The pillow of claim 1 wherein the core-envelope is composed of an open-weave shape memory material.

9. A pillow comprising: a plurality of modules wherein each of the plurality of modules is connected to at least one other module and wherein each of the plurality of modules comprises a core composed of open-cell shape memory material and a cores-envelope that surrounds the core; and at least one articulation crease that allows one of the plurality of modules to rotate with respect to the other modules, wherein the plurality of modules facilitate airflow to dissipate body generated heat.

10. The pillow of claim 9 wherein one of the plurality of modules is rotated about the articulation crease so a top surface of the module contacts a top surface of another module.

11. The pillow of claim 9 wherein at least two of the plurality of modules are rotated about at least one articulation crease to move the pillow from a flat configuration to a folded configuration.

12. The pillow of claim 9 further comprising a case enclosing the plurality of modules, the case composed of a breathable material having a plurality of holes.

13. A pillow that facilitates airflow to dissipate body generated heat comprising: a core composed of open-cell shape memory material; a core-envelope that surrounds the core to support the core; and a case enclosing the core-envelope, the case composed of a breathable material having a plurality of holes, wherein the core, the core-envelope, and the case are all permeable to the flow of air to transfer heat from the pillow to the outside environment.

14. The pillow of claim 13 wherein the core-envelope is composed of an open-weave shape memory material.

15. A pillow that permits airflow to dissipate body generated heat comprising: a perimeter having a first side, a second opposing side, a third elongated side and a fourth elongated opposing side; and a core within the perimeter having a substantial thickness of a shape memory material, wherein the shape memory material has an open-cell configuration that is permeable to the flow of air to dissipate the body generated heat.

16. The pillow of claim 15 wherein the body has an ergonomic profile to accommodate various types of sleepers.

17. The pillow of claim 15 further comprising a core-envelope surrounding the core.

18. The pillow of claim 18 further comprising a case enclosing the core-envelope, the case composed of a breathable material having a plurality of holes.

19. The pillow of claim 15 wherein the core-envelope is composed of an open-weave shape memory material.

20. The pillow of claim 15 wherein the shape memory material returns to an original configuration after removal of a load.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of PCT International Application No. PCT/US2005/008510, filed Mar. 15, 2005, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/553,793, filed Mar. 16, 2004, the entirety of all these applications are hereby incorporated herein by reference for the teachings therein.

FIELD

The present invention describes an apparatus and method for cooling the immediate vicinity of a sleeper, and more particularly to several sleeping accessories, including, but not limited to, a self-ventilating and self-cooling variable geometry pillow and a pet bed.

BACKGROUND

Many factors affect the amount and quality of sleep that a person can attain on a daily basis. Type and quality of pillow as well as climatic conditions at the sleeping space, all affect a person's sleeping experience. Individuals having difficulty sleeping or enjoying a sound, uninterrupted sleep may be experiencing physical discomfort. Such discomfort may arise as body-generated heat accumulates in the pillow or pillows on which the head of the sleeper is resting, as air cannot circulate through the pillow to dissipate the heat. This heat will eventually be radiated to the sleeping environment, which pollutes the environment and makes it more uncomfortable. Sleeper discomfort can be more pronounced in warmer, humid climates.

In response to pillows becoming warm as body-generated heat accumulates in the pillow, sleepers often flip the pillow over in search of a cool spot. Such activities can lead to a fitful period of sleep.

In prior pillows, body-generated heat accumulates in the pillow due to the nature and geometry of the materials used in pillows which have a tendency to store rather than dissipate heat. As the body of a sleeper contacts the surface of the pillow, body-generated heat is transferred to and stored in the immediate contact area of the pillow, resulting in a local temperature rise which may cause sleeper discomfort. The heat that collects in the pillow takes a significant amount of time to radiate to the environment.

Traditionally, pillows have essentially consisted of plain envelopes filled with various usually-dense materials including animal and vegetal fillers, and certain plastic foams, which are impervious to the free flow of air and, thus, store rather than dissipate heat. The prior art discloses many electro-mechanically assisted pillows to dissipate heat, but the prior art does not offer a simple, efficient and economical solution to deal with the heat-generated discomfort of a sleeper.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,770,085 to Munson discloses a heat absorbing pad comprising a pad bladder and thermoelectric cooling unit to remove heat from a person's body part or pillow. The heat absorbing pad uses a liquid medium which first vaporizes by absorbing heat and is then liquefied when the vapor is moved through a cooling unit.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,516,624 to Ichigaya discloses a cooling pillow, a cooling garment and a cooling helmet, all based on the principle of blowing air on a fibrous material which is in the vicinity of the body and contains a sufficient amount of water to promote vaporization of water so that the body can be cooled by absorption of the heat of vaporization thereupon.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,402,775 to Bieberich discloses high-efficiency cooling pads, mattresses, and sleeves which require complex equipment to cool a person through conduction and/or evaporation. Open-cell foam pads define internal air flow passages with various routings. The pad is wetted and a blower circulates air through the air passages to evaporate the water and thus cool the pad. By contacting the cooled structure, the person is cooled through conduction. The Bieberich devices may expose a person's skin to water, thus creating an uncomfortable sleeping environment.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,653,741 to Grant discloses a heating and cooling pad for heating or cooling a human or animal body part. The flexible pad contains thermoelectric modules which cool one side of the pad. Air, moving through the pad, cools the hot side of the thermoelectric modules.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,344,436 to Fontenot et al. discloses a localized heat transfer device for topically heating or cooling a human or animal body. A heating or cooling liquid is circulated in a sealed flow path between a heating or cooling device and a heating or cooling pad.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,459,468 to Bailey discloses a temperature control fluid circulating system that uses a thermal cooler to control the temperature of a fluid and pump it through a blanket that can be placed on a person or on top of a pillow to control the temperature.

The prior art discloses systems of an intricate nature, comprising several complex and expensive components which are costly to procure, operate and maintain. Such electro-mechanical systems are unreliable as a component may fail functionally when least expected, or not be available such as an electric power source. The prior art does not provide an effective solution for dissipating body heat to prevent sleeper discomfort. The prior art does not provide an air passage to improve the comfort level of a sleeper by dissipating body-generated heat. Therefore, there remains a need in the art for a method to dissipate body generated heat by natural means to prevent sleeper discomfort, provide an air passage, and provide an oxygenated air space.

SUMMARY

The present invention is a self-ventilating and self-cooling pillow. The pillow has a modular articulated easily-modifiable geometry to satisfy the user's preferred sleeping position. The pillow has a breathable structure to permit the easy through-flow of air to ventilate and cool the immediate surroundings of a sleeper.

A pillow comprising a middle module comprising a core composed of an open-cell shape memory material and a cores-envelope that surrounds the core; a first outer module connected to the middle module, the first outer module comprising a core composed of an open-cell shape memory material and a cores-envelope that surrounds the core; a second outer module connected to the middle module, the second outer module comprising a core composed of an open-cell shape memory material and a cores-envelope that surrounds the core; a first articulation crease that allows the first outer module to rotate with respect to the middle module; and a second articulation crease that allows the second outer module to rotate with respect to the middle module.

A pillow comprising a plurality of modules wherein each of the plurality of modules is connected to at least one other module and wherein each of the plurality of modules comprise a core composed of open-cell shape memory material and a cores-envelope that surrounds the core; and at least one articulation crease that allows one of the plurality of modules to rotate with respect to the other modules, wherein the plurality of modules facilitate airflow to dissipate body generated heat.

A pillow that facilitates airflow to dissipate body generated heat comprising a core composed of open-cell shape memory material; a core-envelope that surrounds the core to support the core; and a case enclosing the core-envelope, the case composed of a breathable material having a plurality of holes, wherein the core, the core-envelope, and the case are all permeable to the flow of air to transfer heat from the pillow to the outside environment.

A pillow that permits airflow to dissipate body generated heat comprising a perimeter having a first side, a second opposing side, a third elongated side and a fourth elongated opposing side; and a core within the perimeter having a substantial thickness of a shape memory material, wherein the shape memory material has an open-cell configuration that is permeable to the flow of air to dissipate the body generated heat.

A pet bed that facilitates airflow to dissipate body generated heat comprising a base portion surrounded by a raised portion along an outer surface of the base portion, wherein the base portion and the raised portion comprise a shape memory material having an open cell configuration that is permeable to the flow of air to dissipate body generated heat.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will be further explained with reference to the attached drawings, wherein like structures are referred to by like numerals throughout the several views. The drawings are not necessarily to scale, the emphasis having instead been generally placed upon illustrating the principles of the present invention.

FIG. 1A shows the pillow and pillowcase in the flat configuration, which may be preferred by a back-sleeper.

FIG. 1B shows the pillow and pillowcase transitioning from a flat configuration to a folded configuration, or vice versa.

FIG. 1C shows the pillow and pillowcase in a folded configuration, which may be preferred by a side-sleeper.

FIG. 2A shows a close-up view of shape memory materials with a large three-dimensional interconnected open-cell structure.

FIG. 2B shows a close-up view of another shape memory materials with a large three-dimensional interconnected open-cell structure.

FIGS. 3A-3D are embodiments of shape memory materials with large three-dimensional interconnected open cell structures.

FIGS. 3E-3F are embodiments of materials with an open weave structure.

FIG. 4A is a perspective view of a pillow of the present invention illustrating a module comprising a single block core of a breathable shape-memory material, and a breathable cores-envelope.

FIG. 4B is a perspective view of a pillow of the present invention illustrating a module comprising a core consisting of a plurality of pieces of breathable shape-memory materials and a breathable cores-envelope.

FIG. 4C is a cross-sectional view taken along line C-C of FIG. 4A of a pillow of the present invention illustrating the air flow through a single block core and a breathable core-envelope to carry away body-generated heat.

FIG. 5A shows a breathable cores-envelope of a pillow of the present invention in the flat configuration.

FIG. 5B shows a breathable cores-envelope of a pillow of the present invention transitioning from a flat configuration to a folded configuration, or vice versa.

FIG. 5C shows the introduction of a plurality of cores into the breathable cores-envelope of a pillow of the present invention.

FIG. 5D shows a piece of material which will form the breathable cores-envelope of a pillow of the present invention.

FIG. 6A shows a breathable pillowcase in the flat configuration with a top surface in an open position.

FIG. 6B shows a breathable pillowcase in the flat configuration with a top surface in a closed position.

FIG. 7 shows an alternative embodiment of a pillow of the present invention.

FIG. 8 shows an alternative embodiment of a pillow of the present invention having varying thickness to accommodate different types of sleepers.

FIG. 9 shows a pet bed having an open-cell structure of a shape memory material of the present invention.

While the above-identified drawings set forth preferred embodiments of the present invention, other embodiments of the present invention are also contemplated, as noted in the discussion. This disclosure presents illustrative embodiments of the present invention by way of representation and not limitation. Numerous other modifications and embodiments can be devised by those skilled in the art which fall within the scope and spirit of the principles of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention is a self-cooling and self-ventilating bedding system of variable geometry. It relates to the structures of several sleeping accessories, including, but not limited to, a pillow, other similar resting structures, and a pet bed.

Pillow

A pillow of the present invention is illustrated generally at 30 in FIGS. 1A-1C. FIGS. 1A-1C show various views of a pillow of the present invention inside its articulated pillowcase. The pillow 30 may be made from a single block of a shape memory material with a large three-dimensional open-cell structure, or from a plurality of pieces of such a material. The open-cell structure permits the pillow to have breathability, that is permeability to the free and unobstructed flow of air. All components of the pillow 30 and its accessories are breathable to dispose of body-generated heat as the heat is being produced and before the heat is stored in the pillow. The pillow 30 is modular and articulated.

As shown in FIGS. 1A, 1B and 1C, the pillow 30 comprises a first perimeter wall 32, a second opposing perimeter wall 34, a third elongated perimeter wall 36, and a fourth elongated opposing perimeter wall 38. The pillow 30 is composed of a plurality of modular cores. The pillow 30 has a middle core 33 with outer cores 31, 35 located alongside the middle core 33. Each of the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 is inserted into a cores-envelope 50 (FIGS. 5A-5C) which is then inserted into a pillowcase 60 (FIGS. 6A-6B). As shown in FIG. 1A, the middle core 33 may be longer than the outer cores 31, 35. The plurality of modular cores have similar design and construction characteristics, although having different types of cores within the same pillow 30 is within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the middle core 33 is about sixteen inches long by eleven inches deep by three inches thick and the outer cores 31, 35 are each about eight inches long by eleven inches deep by three inches thick.

The pillow is articulated so that the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 can move and pivot about one another.

The articulation is provided by the gusseted construction of the three compartments of the pillowcase 60, which are sized to respectively accept the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35. The pillowcase 60 allows the cores to pivot and rotate about each other along articulation creases 39.

The articulation creases 39 allow the quick repositioning of the outer cores 31, 35 relative to the middle core 33, to convert the pillow 30 from a back-sleeper pillow (FIG. 1A) to a side-sleeper pillow (FIG. 1C), and vice-versa.

In a “flat” configuration shown in FIG. 1A, the thickness of the pillow 30 is designed for stomach and back-sleepers since it allows the head of a user to be positioned at a natural, restful angle. In a “folded” configuration shown in FIG. 1C, the increased thickness of the pillow 30 is such that the head of a side-sleeper would be supported at the proper height so that the spine be properly aligned, thus reducing spinal pressure and increasing sleeper comfort. FIG. 1B shows the assembly of the pillow of the present invention and of the pillowcase of the present invention transitioning from a flat configuration to a folded configuration, or vice versa.

In an embodiment, the pillow 30 in the flat configuration shown in FIG. 1A has a thickness of about three inches and a length of about thirty-two inches, which is approximately the width of a single bed. In the folded configuration shown in FIG. 1C, the pillow 30 has a thickness of about six inches and a length of about sixteen inches. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the dimensions, including thickness and length, of the present invention may be varied and still be within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

FIG. 2A and FIG. 2B show close up views of shape memory materials with large three dimensional interconnected open-cell structures. The larger the open-cell structure of the pillow core, the easier the through-flow of air, the greater the amount of body-generated heat it will carry away, thus reducing sleeper discomfort and keeping the local temperature low. Permeability to the flow of air is another aspect of the open-cell structure. The open-cell structure can be a man-made material or a natural material. Examples of man-made materials include, but are not limited to, nonwoven extruded nylon polymers, in three-dimensionally-knitted fabrics made of artificial fibers such as polyesters. Examples of natural materials include, but are not limited to, cotton, or in blends thereof. The softness and firmness of the pillow 30 can be varied by controlling the size of the filament extruded and the number of filaments per unit of volume of the open-cell structure.

Open-cell configurations of the shape memory material known in the art can be used for the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 of the pillow 30. FIGS. 3A-3D show embodiments of various shape memory materials with large three-dimensional open cells particularly well suited for the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35. Examples of open-cell structures vary from regular repeating patterns of the plurality of fibers to non-repeating, more random three-dimensional patterns of the plurality of fibers. While the sparsity of the open-cell structure of the shape memory material can vary, this structure is chosen because it permits air to flow freely and dissipate body-generated heat. The porosity of the open-cell structure of the shape memory material facilitates air flow.

A material of such an open structure will allow air to flow freely through the pillow to dissipate body-generated heat. A material with a large open-cell structure that is totally permeable to the flow of air in all directions would allow air circulation, facilitate the flushing of and eliminate the pockets of stagnant hot, spent air, and thus reduce the discomfort by eliminating the accumulation of heat.

The open-cell structure may comprise alternatively overlapping fibers. The open-cell structure may comprise a plurality of ridges to facilitate air flow through each of the plurality of ridges and through the area between each of the plurality of ridges. The open-cell structure may comprise a plurality of channels to direct airflow through and out of the pillow 30.

The open-cell structure of the present invention provides strength to support the weight of the head of a user, reduces the pressure points created by engagement with the surface, and improves blood circulation.

The open-cell structure also supports properties such as fire retardancy, resiliency, and absorbancy. All the materials used in all the cores, the cores-envelope and the pillowcase are totally permeable to the free flow of air through them.

The large open-cell structure of the core material of the pillow 30 provides a plurality of channels for the air to flow through unrestricted and carry the heat away. Heat transfer is enhanced by the high volume-to-surface ratio of the pillow. The flow and motion of the air consequently follow the natural laws of heat and mass transfer. Warmer air rises, cooler air falls. Heavier gases will settle below lighter ones.

As their motion and flow will not depend on any electromechanical assist, this exchange will be totally silent and totally mobile with nothing that can break or fail, and will require no maintenance personnel or operating budget.

Due to its open-cell configuration, the present invention dissipates body-generated heat to relieve discomfort that is generally caused by the interaction of the body with the bedding system. As a portion of the body of a sleeper engages a contacting surface of the pillow 30, body-generated heat is stored in the local environment where the body engages the contacting surface. Heat transfer from the contacting surface by conduction, convection and thermal radiation is enhanced by the open-cell structure which provides a plurality of channels for the air to flow through and carry away the heat.

Heat transfers by conduction, convection and thermal radiation. Heat transfer is a function of both temperature and flow of heat. Temperature is one measure of the amount of thermal energy available. Flow of heat is the movement of that thermal energy from place to place. Heat always transfers from a higher temperature body to a lower temperature body. In the absence of a temperature gradient, there will be no heat transfer, and no heat flow. Heat transfer changes the internal energy of both the high temperature body and the low temperature body in accordance with the first law of thermodynamics, that the amount of energy lost (given-up) by the higher temperature body is equal to the amount of energy gained (received) by the lower temperature body. The first law of thermodynamics is the application of the principle of conservation of energy to heat.

In conduction, heat transfers by molecular agitation only, within a material, and without any motion of the material as a whole. As the heat energy flows from the region of high temperature to the region of low temperature, the hotter higher-energy, higher-speed particles agitate and collide internally with the colder lower-energy, lower-speed particles, imparting their energy and raising their temperatures. In the present invention, some heat also dissipates by conduction along the cell nodes.

In convection, heat transfers by the bodily movement of a mass of fluid such as air or water. The fluid moves away from the source of heat, carrying heat energy with it. When heating occurs to a static fluid, there is a local volumetric expansion accompanied by a local corresponding drop in density. Gravity-induced pressure gradients cause the expanded fluid to become buoyant and displaced, transferring heat by motion of the hot fluid.

Thermal radiation is the transfer of heat energy emanating from warm surfaces in the form of electromagnetic waves. Thermal radiation does not require a medium for propagation. Heat transfer by thermal radiation occurs between solid surfaces, even in a vacuum.

Ambient air present in the room will flow freely through any of the faces of the pillow delineated by its perimeter. The open-cell configuration of the present invention offers a high volume-to-surface ratio to the free flowing air, and thus enhances the extraction of any heat from the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 of the pillow 30, and carries it to the atmosphere. Some heat is also dissipated by conduction along the cell nodes. Discomfort caused to a sleeper by a temperature rise due to body-generated heat is eliminated.

The open-cell configuration and the modular construction of the pillow 30 of the present invention provide a matrix that is easy to clean when necessary. FIGS. 4A, 4B and 4C show a module of the pillow 30. The modules are composed one of the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 inserted in a cores-envelope 50. The pillow 30 of the present invention has a plurality of modules. In an embodiment shown in FIGS. 1A-1C, the pillow has three modules. Pillows having one, two, four or more modules are also within the spirit and scope of the present invention. The pillow modules can be soaked in a cleaning solution then rinsed. Because of their open-cell geometry, pillow modules will dry rapidly.

By allowing air to flow through the open-cell structure, the local environments of the pillow 30 and of its user become more oxygenated than those of the prior art which lack the permeability to air flow. This particular feature may have a useful application in conquering sudden infant death syndrome deaths (SIDS) of babies in their cribs which has been theorized as caused by self-poisoning—the infants breathing their own exhaled carbon dioxide. The lack of air movement in their cribs and the greater density of carbon dioxide compared to that of oxygenated air could explain the presence of CO2 stagnating in the immediate vicinity of the infants, in amounts which gradually become deadly. This would be particularly true in the case of infants in the prone position, when their face and nose touch the pillow or crib sheet. By providing a more oxygenated air space, the open-cell configuration can be used to prevent SIDS. The air flowing through the open-cell structure would carry away the exhaled carbon dioxide and bring in a fresh oxygen-rich air for the infant.

The elastic shape memory material comprising the pillow 30 of the present invention will recover from its stresses and strains when a load is removed. Upon receiving the weight of the head of a user, the shape memory material of the pillow 30 of the present invention does not return a force directly proportional to its deflection. The shape memory material of the pillow 30 relaxes under the load while providing pressure distribution across the head of the user. The distribution of pressure reduces pressure points, eliminates potential vascular restrictions and improves comfort. After removal of the weight load of the head, the shape memory material returns the pillow 30 back to an original unloaded configuration.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the shape memory material is visco-elastic. A visco-elastic material exhibits both viscous behavior and elastic behavior. In a viscous material, all energy added is dissipated into heat. In an elastic material, all energy added is stored in the material.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the shape-memory material is a naturally occurring material with an open-cell structure (e.g., loufa materials or similar structures). In another embodiment of the present invention, the shape memory material is antimicrobial. An antimicrobial material is capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth of disease-causing microorganisms. In an embodiment of the present invention, the shape memory material is biocompatible.

As discussed above, since the density and type of the open-cell configuration of the pillow 30 of the present invention control the firmness of the pillow, by changing them, the firmness and softness of the pillow can be varied. Whereas the firmness of the pillow 30 of the present invention can be changed, the large size of the open-cell structure will remain unaltered in order to maintain the free and easy through-flow of air and dissipate the body-generated heat.

FIG. 4A is a perspective view of a pillow of the present invention illustrating a module 40 comprising a single block core 31 of a breathable shape-memory material, and a breathable core-envelope 50.

FIG. 4B is a perspective view of a pillow of the present invention illustrating a module 40 comprising a core consisting of a plurality of pieces of breathable shape-memory materials 42 and the breathable cores-envelope 50.

The cores are made of breathable shape-memory materials with large three-dimensional open-cell structures which allow the free and unobstructed flow of air and of body-generated heat it is carrying away, as illustrated in FIG. 4C. FIG. 4C is a cross-sectional view taken along line C-C of FIG. 4A of a pillow of the present invention illustrating an air flow 45 through the single block core 31 of a breathable shape-memory material and the breathable core-envelope 50 to carry away body-generated heat. The permeability of the core 31 and the core-envelope 50 permit the air flow 45 to dissipate heat.

Cores-Envelope

The plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 are assembled in a breathable articulated cores-envelope 50 shown in FIGS. 5A-5C. FIG. 5A shows the breathable cores-envelope 50 of a pillow 30 of the present invention in the flat configuration. The cores-envelope 50 has a plurality of compartments 51, 53, 55 sized to accept the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35.

To maximize the flow of air through the open-cell structure of the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 of the modules of the pillow 30, the cores-envelope 50 is also breathable and permeable to air. The cores-envelope 50 structure permits the easy, free, continuous and unobstructed flow of air to and through the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 to dissipate the body-generated heat away from the pillow 30 into the atmosphere. A cores-envelope that is impervious to air, as used in traditional pillows, is an undesirable barrier to the flowing air and escaping heat.

The cores-envelope 50 of the present invention comprises a first perimeter wall 52, a second opposing perimeter wall 54, a third elongated perimeter wall 56 and a fourth elongated opposing perimeter wall 58.

The plurality of compartments 51, 53, 55 of the cores-envelope 50 are articulated to allow them to rotate and pivot about each other as shown in FIG. 5B. FIG. 5B shows the breathable cores-envelope 50 of a pillow 30 transitioning from a flat configuration to a folded configuration, or vice versa.

FIG. 5C shows the introduction of the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 into the breathable cores-envelope 50 of a pillow 30. As shown in FIG. 5B and FIG. 5C, the middle compartment 53 is open at both ends 57A, 57C so the middle core 33 can be inserted into the middle compartment 53 from either end 57A, 57C. The outer compartment 51 is delineated by a perimeter wall 54 at one end, while its opposite end 57B is open to receive the outer core 31. The outer compartment 55 is delineated by a perimeter wall 52 at one end, while its opposite end 57D is open to receive the outer core 35.

In the flat configuration shown in FIG. 5A, surfaces 57A and 57B are contiguous and adjacent and surfaces 57C and 57D are contiguous and adjacent. At these locations, the outer cores 31 and 35 each engage the middle core 33 to prevent the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 from moving. As there are no partitions between the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35, the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 act almost as one long continuous core extending from the perimeter wall 52 of the cores-envelope 50 to the opposing perimeter wall 54 of the cores-envelope 50. To facilitate the flow of air even more, the partitions between the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 have been omitted.

The cores-envelope 50 is formed of a material that is durable, breathable, washable, cushioning, environmentally friendly. The cores-envelope 50 may be formed of a three-dimensional knit spacer fabric. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the cores-envelope 50 may be formed of other materials and still be within the spirit and scope of the invention.

FIG. 5D shows a piece of material which will form the breathable cores-envelope of a pillow of the present invention. The material used to create cores-envelope 50 may be a single piece or composed of a plurality of pieces connected together. Sewing together the like-numbered segments in FIG. 5D will yield the cores-envelope 50 of the present invention. For example, the two segments or seams 114 are engaged to form a perimeter of the cores-envelope 50. the two segments or seams 110, 112, 116, 120, 122, 124, 126 and 130 are engaged to form a perimeter of the cores-envelope 50. The segments may be engaged by sewing or by mechanical fasteners including, but not limited, to a button, hook-and-loop fastener, snap, zipper or other mechanical fasteners which operates on contact or pressure to mechanically engage two components.

The articulated design of the cores-envelope 50 permits the quick and easy re-positioning of one or both outer modules, as illustrated at FIG.1 C and FIG. 5C, thus doubling the overall thickness of the pillow, to convert the pillow 30 of the present invention from a back-sleeper pillow to a side-sleeper pillow, and vice-versa. The articulation occurs along creases 39 shown in FIG. 1A and FIG. 5A which allow movement and rotation.

The wide mesh material of the breathable cores-envelope can be configured to vary the number and size of holes per square inch. Those skilled in the art will recognize the breathable cores-envelope can be made of many materials known in the art, including many man-made fibers and natural fibers occurring in nature, and be within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

Pillowcase

The cores-envelope 50 containing the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 may be inserted in a pillowcase 60. The pillowcase 60 used in conjunction with the pillow 30 of the present invention is generally illustrated in FIG. 6A which shows the breathable pillowcase 60 in the flat configuration with a top surface 70 in an open position. FIG. 6B shows the breathable pillowcase 60 in the flat configuration with the top surface 70 in the closed position.

The breathable pillowcase 60 is used to allow room air to enter the pillow 30, flow through the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 and carry away to the atmosphere the body-generated heat. The pillowcase 60 permits the easy, free, continuous and unobstructed flow of air. A pillowcase made of a traditional tightly-woven material would not possess the property of air-permeability required and would be an unacceptable barrier to the free flow of air.

The pillowcase 60 comprises a first perimeter wall 62, a second opposing perimeter wall 64, a third elongated perimeter wall 66 and a fourth elongated opposing perimeter wall 68. Within this perimeter, the pillowcase 60 has a plurality of breathable articulated compartments 61, 63, 65, sized to respectively accept the plurality of cores 31, 33, 35 enclosed in the plurality of compartments 51, 53 and 55 of the cores-envelope 50. The articulation is provided by the gusseted construction of the plurality of compartments 61, 63, 65 of the pillowcase 60.

The top surface 70 of the pillowcase 60 is sewn and hinges along elongated perimeter wall 68. As illustrated in FIG. 6B, the top surface 70 of the pillowcase 60 is held in the closed position by a plurality of mechanical closures 67 arranged around the upper edges of perimeter walls 62, 64 and 66. The mechanical closures may include, but are not limited to snaps, hooks, buttons, zippers, hook-and-loop fasteners or other mechanical fasteners known in the art.

The articulated design of the pillowcase 60 permits the quick and easy re-positioning of one or both outer modules, to convert the pillow 30 of the present invention from a back-sleeper pillow to a side-sleeper pillow, and vice-versa. The articulation occurs along creases 39 shown in FIG. 1A and FIG. 6B which allow movement and rotation.

The breathable pillowcase 60 can be configured to vary the number of holes per square inch. The breathable pillowcase 60 can be configured with as few as 5 holes per square inch or as many as 625 holes per square inch. FIG. 3E and FIG. 3F show embodiments of materials with an open weave structure that can be used for the breathable pillowcase 60 and the cores-envelope 50. Those skilled in the art will recognize the breathable pillowcase can be made of many materials known in the art and be within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

FIG. 7 shows an embodiment of the pillow 71 in which the pillow consists of a single piece open-cell structure. This embodiment resembles a traditional pillow. The pillow 71 has a first end 72, a second opposing end 74, a third elongated side 76 and a fourth elongated opposing side 78. The thickness of the pillow 71 varies so that the thickest portion is toward the middle with thinner portions toward the edges 76 and 78. As discussed above, the open-cell structure permits the free flow of air and of the heat it is carrying away unobstructed, through any of the faces of the pillow 71 delineated by its perimeter. Heat transfer through conduction, convection and thermal radiation is enhanced by the large open-cell structure.

The pillow of the present invention can be shaped to accommodate various types of sleepers by varying the thickness and firmness of the pillow, as shown in FIG. 8. A soft pillow is ideal for stomach sleepers since the soft pillow allows the head of a user to be positioned at a natural, restful angle. A medium pillow is a good choice for back sleepers since the medium pillow rests the head and the neck at the most comfortable position. A firm pillow is a good choice for side sleepers since the firm pillow eases stress on the neck and the shoulders. A super firm pillow is the ideal choice for side sleepers since the super firm pillow provides the most amount of support for the user.

FIG. 8 illustrates an embodiment of the pillow 80 of the present invention where varying thicknesses accommodate different types of sleepers—the side sleeper, the back sleeper and the stomach sleeper. In the embodiment of the present invention shown in FIG. 8, a first portion 82 and a second portion 84 are substantially thicker than a middle portion 83. The thicker first portion 82 and thicker second portion 84 provide the proper height to support the head of a side sleeper so that the spine be properly aligned to reduce spinal pressure and increase sleeper comfort. The middle portion 83 would be used by a stomach sleeper or a back sleeper.

Pet Bed

It is common to see pets, primarily dogs, looking for cool spots to lie on when it is hot, shunning their comfortably padded beds and finding comfort on the hard but cool kitchen floor tiles. The materials used in traditional pet beds lack of ventilation and store heat that can cause discomfort of the pet.

As shown in FIG. 9, the pet bed 90 of the present invention is based on the same principles and requirements of the pillow of the present invention and pillowcase of the present invention presented above. The pet bed 90 transfers heat according to the physics laws of heat and mass transfer as discussed above. The components of the pet bed 90 are permeable to the easy through-flow of air.

The pet bed 90 of the present invention comprises a base portion 92 surrounded by a raised portion 94 inside a circumferential outer surface 96. The base portion 92 and the raised portion 94 comprise a shape memory material with a large open-cell configuration structure which allows the unobstructed passage of air to dissipate the heat generated by the pet, thus keeping the pet comfortable, especially in hot weather.

The pet bed 90 of the present invention can be of various shapes including, but not limited to, elliptical, circular, rectangular or square. Other shapes recognized by those skilled in the art are within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

When necessary, the pet bed 90 can be cleaned by soaking in a mild detergent solution then rinsed. Because of the large open-cell structure, the pet bed 90 will dry quickly.

A cover may be inserted over the open-cell structure of the pet bed 90. The cover is made from a breathable open-weave mesh material which facilitates the through-flow of air and the dissipation of body-generated heat from the pet. The cover espouses the general shape of the pet bed. The cover is easily removable for washing.

All patents, patent applications, and published references cited herein are hereby incorporated herein by reference in their entirety. While this invention has been particularly shown and described with references to preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and details may be made therein without departing from the scope of the invention encompassed by the appended claims.