Title:
Stowable seat for wheel chair accessible kiosk
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A stowable seating apparatus for a wheel chair accessible electronic kiosk includes a first curved track attached to an interior wall of the kiosk that has a horizontal portion and a vertical portion; a second curved track attached to the opposite interior wall of the kiosk, parallel to the first track, that has corresponding horizontal and vertical portions; and a bench seat that moves along the tracks on rollers between a horizontal seating position and a vertical stowed position. The stowable seating apparatus also includes a latch for retaining the seat in the seating position and a tensioning spring that applies force to the seat to assist in moving the seat from the stowed position to the seating position. The seat in the seating position allows a non-wheel chair user to sit in the same position relative to the enclosure as a wheel chair user when the seat is stowed.



Inventors:
Mroz, Stephen Peter (Rochester, MN, US)
Rogers, Justin Christopher (Rochester, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/372385
Publication Date:
09/13/2007
Filing Date:
03/09/2006
Assignee:
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION (ARMONK, NY, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H6/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
KENNY, DANIEL J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
INACTIVE - IBM CORPORATION (ROC) (Endicott, NY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A stowable seating apparatus, comprising: a track having a horizontal portion, a vertical portion and a curved portion connecting the horizontal and vertical portions; and a seat adapted to move along the track between the horizontal portion of the track and the vertical portion of the track.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: rollers rotatably mounted on the seat for moving the seat along the track.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the seat is in a seating position when located along the horizontal portion of the track and in a stowed position when located along the vertical portion of the track.

4. The apparatus of claim 3, further comprising: a latching device for retaining the seat in the seating position.

5. The apparatus of claim 3, further comprising: a tensioning device applying force to the seat to assist in moving the seat from the stowed position to the seating position.

6. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the tensioning device is a spring which is stretched as the seat moves from the seating position to the stowed position.

7. A stowable seating apparatus, comprising: a first track having a horizontal portion, a vertical portion and a curved portion connecting the horizontal and vertical portions; a second track parallel to the first track, the second track having corresponding horizontal, vertical and curved portions: and a seat being disposed between the tracks and adapted to move along both the first and second tracks between the horizontal portions of the tracks and the vertical portions of the tracks.

8. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein the seat has a first end and a second end opposite the first end and the apparatus further comprises: first rollers rotatably mounted proximate to the first end of the seat for moving the seat along the first track; and second rollers rotatably mounted proximate to the second end of the seat for moving the seat along the second track.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, wherein the seat is in a seating position when located along the horizontal portions of the first and second tracks and in a stowed position when located along the vertical portions of the first and second tracks.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, further comprising: a latching device for retaining the seat in the seating position.

11. The apparatus of claim 9, further comprising: a tensioning device for applying force to the seat to assist in moving the seat from the stowed position to the seating position.

12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the tensioning device is a spring which is stretched as the seat moves from the seating position to the stowed position.

13. A kiosk comprising: an enclosure having sufficient room inside to accommodate a user in a wheelchair; and a stowable seating apparatus within the enclosure for a non-wheel chair-bound user, wherein the stowable seating apparatus comprises: a first track attached to the enclosure having a horizontal portion, a vertical portion and a curved portion connecting the horizontal and vertical portions; a second track attached to the enclosure, parallel to the first track and having corresponding horizontal, vertical and curved portions; and a seat disposed between the first and second tracks and adapted to move along the first and second tracks between the horizontal portions of the tracks and the vertical portions of the tracks.

14. The kiosk of claim 13, wherein the seat has a first end and a second end opposite the first end and the seating apparatus further comprises: first rollers rotatably mounted proximate to the first end of the seat for moving the seat along the first track; and second rollers rotatably mounted proximate to the second end of the seat for moving the seat along the second track.

15. The kiosk of claim 13, wherein the seat is in a seating position when located along the horizontal portions of the first and second tracks and in a stowed position when located along the vertical portions of the first and second tracks.

16. The kiosk of claim 15, further comprising: a latching device for retaining the seat in the seating position.

17. The kiosk of claim 15, further comprising: a tensioning device for applying force to the seat to assist in moving the seat from the stowed position to the seating position.

18. The kiosk of claim 17, wherein the tensioning device is a spring which is stretched as the seat moves from the seating position to the stowed position.

19. The kiosk of claim 15, wherein the seat in the seating position allows the non-wheel chair-bound user to sit in about the same position in the enclosure as the user in a wheelchair sits when the seat is the stowed position.

20. The kiosk of claim 13, wherein the first and second tracks are spaced sufficiently far apart to accommodate the user in a wheelchair between them.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to a compact stowable seat, and specifically to a stowable seat for use in a wheel chair accessible electronic kiosk.

2. Background Information

An electronic kiosk is a small enclosure equipped with a computer terminal, video camera or the like. Such a private enclosure might be useful, for example, in video recording an individual's candid recollections about persons or events. In order to allow for the widest range of potential users, it is desirable that the enclosure have ample room inside for a user in a wheelchair as well as integrated seating for a non-wheel chair-bound user, but without any increase in the size of the enclosure beyond that which is necessary just for the wheel chair.

Since floor space is at a premium in any such facility, it its critical that the enclosure have the smallest footprint possible. Further, the smallest possible enclosure naturally uses the least amount of material, therefore saving cost. Both footprint size and cost are critical competitive factors for such enclosures.

While it is possible to provide a stowable seat inside the enclosure that simply pivots or folds up on hinges, such a seat would obstruct wheel chair access even in the stowed position, thereby necessitating the overall size of the enclosure to be increased to accommodate both the stowed seat and a wheel chair. Another possibility would be to remove the seat from the enclosure entirely so that a person in a wheel chair enter. However this alternative is not practical because the removal of the bench would be an extremely difficult task for a person in a wheel chair to perform.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is, therefore, a principle object of this invention to provide a stowable seat for a wheel chair accessible kiosk.

It is another object of the invention to provide a stowable seat for a wheel chair accessible kiosk that solves the above mentioned problems.

These and other objects of the present invention are accomplished by the stowable seat for use in a wheel chair accessible kiosk that is disclosed herein.

In a first aspect of the invention, a stowable seating apparatus comprises a track having a horizontal portion, a vertical portion and a curved portion connecting the horizontal and vertical portions; and a seat adapted to move along the track between the horizontal portion of the track and the vertical portion of the track. Preferably the seat moves along the track on rollers rotatably mounted on the seat. The seat is in a seating position when located along the horizontal portion of the track and in a stowed position when located along the vertical portion of the track. The seating apparatus may also include a latching device for retaining the seat in the seating position and a tensioning device applying force to the seat to assist in moving the seat from the stowed position to the seating position. Preferably the tensioning device is a spring that is stretched as the seat moves from the seating position to the stowed position.

In another aspect of the invention, a stowable seating apparatus comprises a first track having a horizontal portion, a vertical portion and a curved portion connecting the horizontal and vertical portions; a second track parallel to the first track, the second track having corresponding horizontal, vertical and curved portions; and a seat disposed between the tracks and adapted to move along both the first track and the second track. Preferably the seat moves along the tracks on first rollers rotatably mounted proximate to one end of the seat for moving the seat along the first track; and second rollers rotatably mounted proximate to the opposite end of the seat for moving the seat along the second track. As in the first aspect of the invention, the seat is in a seating position when located along the horizontal portions of the first and second tracks and in a stowed position when located along the vertical portions of the first and second tracks.

In a further aspect of the invention, a wheel chair accessible electronic kiosk includes an enclosure having sufficient room inside to accommodate a user in a wheel chair and a stowable seating apparatus within the enclosure for a non-wheel chair-bound user. The stowable seating apparatus includes a first track attached to the enclosure, the first track having a horizontal portion, a vertical portion and a curved portion connecting the horizontal and vertical portions; a second track attached to the enclosure, parallel to the first track, and having corresponding horizontal, vertical and curved portions; and a bench seat disposed between the tracks that moves along the tracks on rollers between a horizontal seating position and a vertical stowed position. In addition, the stowable seating apparatus preferably includes a latch for retaining the seat in the seating position and a tensioning spring that applies force to the seat to assist in moving the seat from the stowed position to the seating position. The first and second tracks are spaced sufficiently far apart to accommodate the user in a wheel chair between them. The seat in the seating position allows a non-wheel chair user to sit in the same position relative to the enclosure as a wheel chair user sits when the seat is stowed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the exterior of an exemplary kiosk enclosure.

FIG. 2 is a top view of the kiosk enclosure of FIG. 1 showing the position of a wheel chair inside.

FIGS. 3A through 3C are perspective views of the seat within the kiosk enclosure interior according to the present invention, showing how the seat moves from a horizontal seating position to a vertical stowed position.

FIG. 4 is a simplified side view of the seating apparatus according to the present invention, showing how the seat moves from a horizontal seating position to a vertical stowed position.

FIG. 5 is a simplified side view of the seating apparatus according to the. present invention, showing the use of a tension spring to assist the motion of the seat.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The invention will now be described in more detail by way of example with reference to the embodiments shown in the accompanying figures. It should be kept in mind that the following described embodiments are only presented by way of example and should not be construed as limiting the inventive concept to any particular physical configuration.

Further, if used and unless otherwise stated, the terms “upper,” “lower,” “front,” “back,” “over,” “under,” and similar such terms are not to be construed as limiting the invention to a particular orientation. Instead, these terms are used only on a relative basis.

The present invention is directed to a compact stowable seat suitable for use in a wheel chair accessible electronic kiosk.

FIG. 1 shows an exterior perspective view of an exemplary kiosk enclosure 10 having a sliding, pocket door 1 through which a user can enter and exit. FIG. 2 is a top view of the same kiosk showing the interior with a wheel chair 2 inside the enclosure when the integrated seat (not shown in this view) is stowed out of the way. In the embodiment shown, the kiosk is equipped with a touch screen 3 to provide a computer interface for a user seated in front of it. The kiosk may also be equipped with a video camera (not shown), also positioned in front of the user, for capturing the user's image and speech. In the embodiment shown, a fluorescent fixture 4 at the rear of the kiosk, on the rear wall of the enclosure behind the user position, provides indirect lighting. The enclosure's dimensions are just large enough to allow maneuvering the wheel chair inside.

FIGS. 3A through 3C are perspective views of the kiosk enclosure interior according to the present invention, showing how the seat 5 for a non-wheel chair bound user moves from a horizontal seating position to a vertical stowed position when not needed. As shown in FIG. 3A, the seat initially moves horizontally toward the back of the enclosure. Then, as shown in FIG. 3B, the seat 5 follows a curved track, discussed below, in order to begin facing vertically downward. Finally, as shown in FIG. 3C, the seat 5 continues its motion until it is oriented vertically and in the exemplary embodiment, is stowed unobtrusively beneath the lighting fixture 4 on the rear wall of the enclosure.

FIG. 4 is a simplified side view of the seating apparatus of the present invention, showing how the seat 5 moves along a track 6 from the horizontal seating position to the vertical stowed position. In the exemplary embodiment, the bench-like seat 5 moves along two parallel tracks, with the seat between them. Each track 6 has a horizontal portion to accommodate the seat in the seating position, a vertical portion to accommodate the seat 6 in the stowed position and a curved portion connecting the horizontal and vertical portions. In the exemplary embodiment, the tracks are mounted near or on the side walls of the kiosk enclosure so as not to obstruct the motion of the wheelchair when the seat is stowed. Preferably, rollers 7 are provided on the seat 5, and mounted near each end of the seat, in order to facilitate smooth motion of the seat along the tracks.

FIG. 5 is a simplified side view of the seating apparatus of the present invention, showing the use of a tension spring 8 to assist the user in moving the seat 5. In the exemplary embodiment having two tracks, it may be preferable to incorporate a tension spring at each end of the seat 5. As the seat 5 moves from the seating position to the stowed position, the springs 8 elongate and allow for the controlled movement of the seat 5, preventing the seat 5 from crashing down under its own weight into the stowed position. Also, as the seat 5 is raised up from the stowed position, the springs 8 assist in lifting the seat 5 up the curved portion of the track 6 into the horizontal position. It is also preferable to incorporate a latching device (not shown) in the seating apparatus to secure the seat 5 in the horizontal position, so that it does not move when sat upon.

The inventive seating apparatus allows a disabled person to easily and conveniently stow the seat at the back of the kiosk enclosure and use the facilities of the kiosk without leaving his or her wheel chair or the need for assistance. An important benefit of the seating apparatus disclosed in this application is that the user in a wheel chair and the user who is not in a wheel chair are able to sit in substantially the same position in the enclosure. This means that virtually all users of the exemplary kiosk can comfortably reach the touch screen monitor, for example, and be viewed in the video camera, for example, without having to adjust the position of the monitor or the camera. A person in a wheel chair cannot sit right up against the back wall of the enclosure because, as shown in FIG. 2, a major portion of the wheel chair wheels extends behind the wheel chair. The seating apparatus of the present invention, by sliding the seat in a curved track, assures that the seat can move sufficiently far forward from the back of the enclosure to be in the same relative position as a wheelchair seat would be, all without any need to increase the size of the enclosure over that required for the user in a wheel chair.

It should be understood that the invention is not necessarily limited to the specific process, arrangement, materials and components shown and described above, but may be susceptible to numerous variations within the scope of the invention. For example, although the above-described exemplary aspects of the invention are believed to be particularly well suited for an electronic kiosk, it is contemplated that the concepts of the presently disclosed seating apparatus can be used in other applications as well, such as stowable seating for trains, buses, campers and recreational vehicles.

It will be apparent to one skilled in the art that the manner of making and using the claimed invention has been adequately disclosed in the above-written description of the preferred embodiments taken together with the drawings.

It will be understood that the above description of the preferred embodiments of the present invention are susceptible to various modifications, changes and adaptations, and the same are intended to be comprehended within the meaning and range of equivalents of the appended claims.