Title:
Portable Apparatus for Efficiently Shading People from the Sun
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention is an apparatus that provides the user with a low cost, highly portable, and durable means of shading people or objects in a beach or similar outdoor setting. It is constructed of lightweight, noncorrosive parts that are easy to assemble by even a single person. The apparatus shades a rather large area and features a unique design that minimizes the need to reposition as the sun's rays change angles during the day. The apparatus also minimizes wind resistance and is further secured to the sand by four anchor points. Consequently, the user can easily carry the apparatus to the beach by hand, quickly assemble it, and then enjoy a day in the shade without worrying about the damaging effects of the beach environment.



Inventors:
Flores, Vincent Gerard (Columbia, SC, US)
Application Number:
11/687186
Publication Date:
09/20/2007
Filing Date:
03/16/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
135/121
International Classes:
E04H15/34
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20080149155Handy hand walking caneJune, 2008Martin
20080006317System for concealment and shelter with structure for rapid setup and tight skinJanuary, 2008Livacich et al.
20070295377BATTERY PACK FOR POWERING MULTIPLE ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES IN A TENTDecember, 2007Holub et al.
20030066550Collapsible privacy shelterApril, 2003Al-ghamdi
20080302403LIGHTWEIGHT TENTDecember, 2008Stewart
20020087045Transparent disposable cover for patient transportJuly, 2002Chamorro-perez et al.
20060107980Devices for protection against adverse weather conditionsMay, 2006Freestone
20070017564Connector for tent poleJanuary, 2007Lah
20060037636DEFLECTION RESISTANT TENTFebruary, 2006Lin
20050098199Box umbrellaMay, 2005Ko
20030000563Construction frameJanuary, 2003Kuperman



Primary Examiner:
LYNCH, PATRICK D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CALHOUN (COLUMBIA, SC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A portable sun shade apparatus comprising: a base, said base having disposed thereon a plurality of anchor points for anchoring the apparatus into the Earth; a plurality of vertical supports attached to said base wherein the plane defined by any two of said vertical supports forms a side; a side canopy wall comprising a shading material, in the shape of a parallelogram, stretched between two of said vertical supports of said side; and a canopy top, in the shape of a parallelogram, cantilevered over the vertical supports on at least one of said sides and further comprising a plurality of horizontal frame members attached to said vertical support members and a canopy shading material stretched across said horizontal frame members.

2. The portable sun shade apparatus of claim 1 wherein said base further comprises a plurality of horizontal support members attached to said anchor points and to said vertical supports.

3. The portable sun shade apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of connector members for facilitating the connections between the horizontal support members of the base with said anchor points and said vertical supports and the connections between said vertical supports and said horizontal frame members of the canopy top.

4. The portable sun shade apparatus of claim 1 wherein said base, said vertical supports, and said horizontal frame members of the canopy top are made of lightweight plastic.

5. The portable sun shade apparatus of claim 4 wherein the horizontal support members of said base, the vertical supports, and said horizontal frame members of said canopy top are tubular in shape and are hollow.

6. The portable sun shade apparatus of claim 1 wherein said anchor points are made of lightweight plastic and are hollow to facilitate positioning in the earth.

7. The portable sun shade apparatus of claim 1 wherein the shading material of the side canopy wall and the shading material of the canopy top are made of a lightweight, weather resistant, sun blocking material.

8. The portable sun shade apparatus of claim 7 wherein said shading material of the side canopy wall is loopedly attached to two of said vertical supports and said shading material of said canopy top is loopedly attached to two of said horizontal frame members such that, on opposing sides of the parallelogram, the material forms a loop around the respective vertical supports or respective horizontal frame members as a means of attachment.

9. The portable sun shade apparatus of claim 7 wherein said shading material of the side canopy wall is fixedly attached to two of said vertical supports and said shading material of said canopy top is fixedly attached to two of said horizontal frame members.

10. The portable sun shade apparatus of claim 7 wherein said shading material of the side canopy wall is fixedly attached along parallel lines to two of said vertical supports and said shading material of said canopy top is fixedly attached along parallel lines to two of said horizontal frame members.

11. A portable sun shade kit comprising: a plurality of connectible support members made of lightweight plastic and having a hollow tubular shape; a sun shade fabric canopy in the general shape of a parallelogram, said sun shade fabric canopy having two looped ends through which the connectible support members pass in order to support the sun shade fabric canopy; a sun shade fabric side panel in the general shape of a parallelogram, said sun shade fabric side panel having two looped ends through which the connectible support members pass in order to support the sun shade fabric side panel; and a compact storage container for holding the connectible support members, the sun shade fabric canopy, and the sun shade fabric side panel;

12. The portable sun shade kit of claim 11 further comprising: a set of instructions for explaining how said connectible support members, said sun shade fabric canopy, and said sun shade fabric side panel can be arranged and assembled to form a cantilevered sun shade apparatus.

13. A portable sun shade apparatus comprising: a base, said base further comprising: a left front anchor point; a right front anchor point; a left rear anchor point; a right rear anchor point; a left front base joint attached to said left front anchor point; a right front base joint attached to said right front anchor point; a left rear base joint attached to said left rear anchor point; a right rear base joint attached to said right rear anchor point; a front horizontal base support member attached to said left front base joint and to said right front base joint; a right horizontal base support member attached to said right front base joint and to said right rear base joint; a rear horizontal base support member attached to said right rear joint and to said left rear base joint; and a left horizontal base support member attached to said left rear base joint and to said left front base joint; a left front vertical support attached to said left front base joint; a right front vertical support attached to said right front base joint; a right rear vertical support attached to said right rear base joint; a left rear vertical support attached to said left rear base joint; a left front canopy joint attached to said left front vertical support; a right front canopy joint attached to said right front vertical support; a right rear canopy joint attached to said right rear vertical support; a left rear canopy joint attached to said left rear vertical support; a front horizontal canopy member attached to said left front canopy joint and said right front canopy joint, said front horizontal canopy member cantilevering over the plane defined by said left front vertical support and said right front vertical support; a right horizontal canopy member attached to said right front canopy joint and said right rear canopy joint; a rear horizontal canopy member attached to said right rear canopy joint and said left rear canopy joint, said rear horizontal canopy member cantilevering over the plane defined by said left rear vertical support and said right rear vertical support; a left horizontal canopy member attached to said right rear canopy joint and said left front canopy joint; and a sun shade canopy panel attached to said front horizontal canopy member and to said rear horizontal canopy member, said sun shade canopy panel cantilevering over the plane defined by said left front vertical support and said right front vertical support and cantilevering over the plane defined by said left rear vertical support and said right rear vertical support.

14. The portable sun shade apparatus of claim 13 further comprising a rear sun shade panel attached to said left rear vertical support and said right rear vertical support.

15. The portable sun shade apparatus of claim 14 wherein said sun shade canopy and said rear sun shade panel are all made of lightweight, weather resistant, sun blocking fabric.

16. The portable sun shade apparatus of claim 13 further comprising a front sun shade panel attached to said left front vertical support and said right front vertical support.

17. The portable sun shade apparatus of claim 16 wherein said sun shade canopy and said front sun shade panel are all made of lightweight, weather resistant, sun blocking fabric.

18. The portable sun shade apparatus of claim 13 wherein said left front anchor point, said right front anchor point, said left rear anchor point, said right rear anchor point, said front horizontal base support member, said right horizontal base support member, said rear horizontal base support member, said left horizontal base support member, said left front vertical support, said right front vertical support, said left rear vertical support, said right rear vertical support, said front horizontal canopy member, said right horizontal canopy member, said rear horizontal canopy member, and said left horizontal canopy member are all made of a lightweight, weather resistant, tubular shaped plastic.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/743,510 filed on Mar. 16, 2006.

FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

REFERENCED OR INCORPORATED MATERIAL

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

The present invention is an apparatus which shades the user from the sun and is characterized by its portability, durability, ease of use, and efficiency. The user of the apparatus is anyone who wishes to provide protection from the sun to themselves, other people, or other objects. Certainly the general concept of a device which shades people from the sun is old art. The state of the art is characterized by various domes, tents, and umbrellas which accomplish a basic shade feature. However, the present invention provides the user with many advantages over the current art.

The use of domes to provide shade from the sun has been around for some time. Domes in the art often consist of domed frames with some shading material stretched across or hung beneath. However, in contrast to the present invention, domes can be quite cumbersome to transport and even more difficult to put together often requiring several people to construct or set up. In addition, many domes are inefficient when it comes to adapting to the angle of the sun's rays and to lowering resistance to beach winds.

Tents are one of the oldest forms of manmade sun protection. There are numerous tents in the art that provide shade from the sun. The traditional tent requires numerous ropes, stakes to hold the tent in place, and poles to support the tent structure. Further, attaching the covering to the frame can be a cumbersome process. Such tents, though portable, often require several people to transport and set up. Some of the more modern tents, such as those made by EasyUp, though touted as easy to use, still are quite heavy, require more than one person to set up, and leave numerous metal parts exposed to the corrosive elements of beach wind and water.

In contrast, the present invention is very lightweight and can be carried by one person. It can also be setup by one person with ease. Further, it is utterly devoid of any metallic parts that would deteriorate in a corrosive beach environment, absorb unwanted heat, or act as an enhanced conduit of electricity from a lightening strike on the open beach.

The umbrella is a staple in many beach settings and is old art. While possessing the attributes of portability and a relatively short set up time, the umbrella still has many disadvantages in light of the present invention. First, it has relatively small coverage area. Even larger umbrellas are limited in size and often do not provide complete coverage. Moreover, the coverage angle of an umbrella must be changed often to correspond with the changing angle of the sun. And, even with such changes, not all angles can be accommodated. By contrast, the present invention has the ability to be rather stationary and does not need near constant alterations to shade the changing angle of the sun. With its unique overlapping panel design, the user remains shaded from the sun even when it is closer to the horizon. In the course of a day on the beach, the sun obviously goes from one horizon to the other. If a user does not wish to pick the invention up and twist it around because this might require the repositioning of chairs, coolers or other items that might be located beneath the invention, the two T-connectors above the rear panel can easily be raised and the side panel slipped up and off and moved to the opposite side poles as the sun makes its daily march from horizon to opposite horizon.

Another contrasting element relates to the composition material. Like many of the tents mentioned above, umbrellas typically have metal parts that are susceptible to corrosion in the beach environment as well as to absorption of unnecessary heat. In contrast, the present invention has no metallic parts.

Finally, wind resistance on a beach can often cause umbrellas to blow out of their moorings in the beach sand. This event occurs because the umbrella has but one pole connecting it to the sand. In contrast, the present invention has four legs that extend into the sand or other earth. Further, the shape of the shade covering is designed in such a way as to minimize both wind resistance and interference with cooling breezes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an apparatus that is used to shade people or objects from the sun and is characterized by its portability, durability, ease of use, and efficiency. The best use of the invention would be in a beach setting where there is full sun, sand, wind, and salt water. However, the invention could certainly be employed in any outdoor setting where the user wishes to provide shade from the sun.

The present invention is extremely portable and is so light that it can be easily carried by one person. It achieves this by being constructed of lightweight materials such as PVC and by being able to collapse into a relatively small volume of space. This portability feature is a key element for success in the beach sun shade industry. In most cases, sun shades must be manually carried across board walks, through hot sand, and onto the beach. Further, sun shades must frequently be moved. Thus, easy portability is a valuable commodity.

The present invention is also exceptionally durable and is designed to stand up to the harsh elements of a seaside environment. All structural members are constructed of durable plastics such as PVC pipe. These members will not absorb heat to the extent experienced by metal members. These members are flexible and resist fracture. Further, the salt water environment will not damage the present invention as there are no metallic parts. And, because there are no metal parts, metal fatigue will not be an issue from the intense beach winds.

The present invention can also be distinguished because of its ease of use. Set up time is minimal, not complicated, and can be accomplished by a single person. Users can set up the plastic poles and unroll the cover in a short amount of time. Less set up time equates to less time under the suns rays and more time in the shade. Importantly, once the present invention is set up, the beachcomber can enjoy the shade without constant adjustments for sun's angle. Likewise, because the present invention is designed to minimize wind resistance and is secured in the sand at four separate points, the possibility of wind damage or vertical uptake is drastically reduced over the existing art. As a result of the design and the decreased wind resistance, the present invention is unlikely to trap in much heat. Like portability, ease of use is a valuable commodity in the industry.

The present invention can be further characterized by its efficiency in a number of different ways. The first element of efficiency is efficiency of money. The materials involved in its manufacture are relatively inexpensive when compared to other shades in the industry of comparable size and shape.

A second area of efficiency is the shade coverage time afforded by the present invention. Because of the unique design of the overlapping top and rear panel, the shade can be positioned in such a way as to minimize the negative effects of the changing angle of the sun's rays. This is a clear advantage over existing art such as the umbrella that must be continually readjusted.

A third area of efficiency is the increased cover area. In the present invention, shade cover area is maximized when balanced against the other features such as portability, durability, and ease of use. This invention achieves significant shade cover area without sacrificing portability, durability, or ease of use.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the invention frame through the sun screen fabric.

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the components of the invention highlighting how the fabric loopedly attaches to the members.

FIG. 4 is a collapsed view of the components being rolled up, as appropriate, and inserted in to a container.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

It is to be understood by a person having ordinary skill in the art that the present discussion is a description of exemplary embodiments only, and is not intended as limiting the broader aspects of the present invention. The following example is provided to further illustrate the invention and is not to be construed to unduly limit the scope of the invention.

The preferred embodiment of the present invention contemplates an apparatus which shades the user from the sun and, as noted above, is characterized by its portability, durability, ease of use, and efficiency. In this embodiment, the apparatus is generally constructed of a rectangular frame with a flexible shading material stretched across the top (80) and similarly stretched across the rear or front at the option of the user (50).

The frame is designed using flexible, lightweight plastic members composed of such inexpensive materials as PVC. In the preferred embodiment, these plastic members can easily be assembled by the end user and are held together via friction connections. The entire apparatus is supported by a base. The base is composed of four horizontal members (30), several corner joints (20), and four anchor points. The horizontal members of the base (30) form a parallelogram and are located just above the sand or earth. The horizontal members (30) of the base can be in the same plane or in different planes as in this embodiment where the front and rear members are in a plane above the side members. Several joints (20) connect these members to form the rectangle. Each of said joints (20) could be a single piece of plastic or could further comprise several smaller pieces of plastic. In either case, the function of the joints (20) is to provide an efficient point of connection between the respective structural members. Extending downward into the sand at the four corners of the base are four anchor points (10). These anchor points (10) are also composed of plastic and their hollow tubular shape allows them to be easily driven into sand or similar soil to secure the apparatus to the earth. Thus, the base comprises a parallelogram frame anchored at its corners into the sand it will typically rest on.

Extending upward from the base are four vertical members (40). These members provide support for the canopy top (80) as well as support for the side panel (50). These members are similarly composed of a plastic such as PVC. Two of the vertical members that flank one of the smaller sides of the apparatus preferably provide the primary support for the side panel (50). The side panel (50) is made of a flexible shading material that partially or completely blocks transmission of sunlight to provide shade. The panel material may be selected from materials well known in the art and may be adapted by one skilled in the art in a manner consistent with the intended function and combination described herein without undue experimentation. This panel is stretched or hung between the two indicated vertical members (40). In one embodiment, the side panel (50), made of the shading material, is looped around (81) or connected to the two vertical members (40) so that the panel and the vertical members (40) can be rolled and unrolled as one would roll and unroll a scroll. Further, the side panel (50) can be removed by the user at his option. In other embodiments, the panels are affixed to the vertical members by other means.

All four vertical members (40) support the canopy top. The canopy top is comprised of four horizontal members (60) and several joints (70) which when connected form a frame in the shape of a parallelogram. In the preferred embodiment, these members are held together via a friction connection. The canopy top also has a flexible shading material (80) that that partially or completely blocks transmission of sunlight to provide shade. The canopy top shading material (80) may similarly be selected from materials well known in the art and may be adapted by one skilled in the art in a manner consistent with the intended function and combination described herein without undue experimentation. The canopy top material (80) is stretched or hung between the two of the canopy top horizontal members (60) such as the rear and front horizontal canopy top members. Like the side panel (50), the canopy top can have looped attachment (81) such that it can be rolled and unrolled as one would roll and unroll a scroll.

The horizontal members (60) of the canopy top attach to the four vertical support members (40). In a typical arrangement, the front and rear horizontal canopy top members attach to the side members via plastic joints (70). Like the plastic joints of the base (20), the joints of the canopy (70) can be made either of a single piece or can comprise multiple smaller pieces. In one embodiment, an elbow joint is utilized to enhance the cantilevered effect. Preferably, the canopy top cantilevers (90) over the two opposite narrower side of the base frame. This cantilevering (90), in addition to providing additional shade coverage area to the user, works in tandem with the side panel (50) in minimizing the negative effects of the changing angle of the sun's rays throughout a typical day. Preferably, the side panel (50) is positioned generally toward the side where the sun appears to be rising or sinking. The extended coverage that comes from the cantilevered portion (90) of the canopy top decreases the possibility that the sun's rays will hit the user through the gap between the canopy top and the side panel. The combination of the cantilevered top and the gap between the top (80) and the side panel (50) also works to reduce wind resistance that would occur if the canopy top were connected in smooth transition to the side panel.

As alternative embodiments, the orientation of the canopy top (80) and the side panel (50) may be reversed or the configuration of the apparatus may be changed from a generally rectangular shape to a generally square shape.

An additional element contemplated by the present invention is the portable container (100). The portable container (100) is similarly made of lightweight material such as plastic and has the function of compactly corralling the various components (101) of the invention when it is dissembled. This container (100) is preferably a bag like article though rigid box-like containers are also contemplated. No matter the ultimate vessel, the container (100) is designed to secure all components in a confined environment.

Naturally, a number of configurations and different materials could be used in the construction of this apparatus without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Such materials would be lightweight, non-corrosive, durable, and low cost. In addition, it should be understood that aspects of the various embodiments may be interchanged either in whole or in part. Furthermore, those persons having ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the foregoing description is by way of example only, and is not intended to limit the invention to be further described in the claims.