Title:
Protective chassis cover system and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A protective covering system and method can protect an electronic device. The system includes a skeletal frame member that attaches to the electronic device and a relatively soft surrounding frame or body into which the frame can be mounted.



Inventors:
Reale, Anthony (Riverview, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/393760
Publication Date:
10/11/2007
Filing Date:
03/31/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D85/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PERREAULT, ANDREW D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BakerHostetler (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for protecting an electronic device, the apparatus comprising; a skeletal frame to at least partially surround the device, with the frame having projecting external frame members; and a resilient body member configured to receive the skeletal frame and at least partially surround the skeletal frame.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the electronic device has a display region and the apparatus provides visibility of the display region.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the body has protruding grip surfaces on the periphery thereof.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the body has at least one handle member extending externally therefrom.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the body has a hook extending therefrom and configured to hook over a steering wheel.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising an aperture defined by the skeletal frame, the aperture being configured to receive a decorative item.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the body includes an indentation adapted to hold a stylus.

8. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the body comprises an elliptical outer ring, with the elliptical out ring configured to receive and hold the externally projecting members of the skeletal frame.

9. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein skeletal chassis is made of a material more rigid then the material of which the body is made.

10. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the body has an opening there through to permit passage of a cable.

11. An apparatus for protecting an electronic device, the apparatus comprising; attaching means for attaching to and at least partially surround the device, and having projecting external frame members; and a resilient body member configured to receive the skeletal frame and at least partially surround the skeletal frame.

12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the electronic device has a display region and the apparatus provides visibility of the display region.

13. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the body has protruding grip surfaces on the periphery thereof.

14. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the body has at least one handle member extending externally therefrom.

15. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the body has a hook extending therefrom and configured to hook over a steering wheel.

16. The apparatus of claim 11, further comprising an aperture defined by the skeletal frame, the aperture being configured to receive a decorative item.

17. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the body includes an indentation adapted to hold a stylus.

18. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the body comprises an elliptical outer ring, with the elliptical out ring configured to receive and hold the externally projecting members of the attaching means.

19. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein attaching means is made of a material more rigid then the material of which the body is made.

20. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the body has an opening there through to permit passage of a cable.

21. A method of protecting an electronic device, comprising; attaching the electronic device to a skeletal chassis member; and installing the skeletal chassis member into a relatively soft outer body that at least partially surrounds the chassis member and the electronic device.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a protective enclosure for portable electronic equipment. More particularly, the present invention relates to a protective multi-system protective enclosure with enhanced functional and ergonomic attributes.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Conventional approaches to the ruggedization of portable electronic equipment have typically involved the application of a bulky rubberized enclosure or casing along the equipment drop points. Very little or no consideration is given to incorporating functional gripping or attachment features to the enclosure. Accordingly, such conventional enclosure or ruggedization systems render the protected equipment to be difficult to hold or handle.

Therefore, there has been a long standing need in the community for ruggedization systems which adequately protect the subject equipment while having accommodations for convenient handling and attachment to the equipment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, there has been a long standing need in the community for ruggedization systems which adequately protect the subject equipment while having accommodations for convenient handling and attachment to the equipment.

In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, an apparatus for protecting an electronic device, the apparatus comprises a skeletal frame to at least partially surround the device, with the frame having projecting external frame members; and a resilient body member configured to receive the skeletal frame and at least partially surround the skeletal frame.

In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, an apparatus for protecting an electronic device, the apparatus comprises, attaching means for attaching to and at least partially surround the device, and having projecting external frame members; and a resilient body member configured to receive the skeletal frame and at least partially surround the skeletal frame.

There has thus been outlined, rather broadly, certain embodiments of the invention in order that the detailed description thereof herein maybe better understood, and in order that the present contribution to the art may be better appreciated. There are, of course, additional embodiments of the invention that will be described below and which will form the subject matter of the claims appended hereto.

In this respect, before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of embodiments in addition to those described and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein, as well as the abstract, are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

As such, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the conception upon which this disclosure is based may readily be utilized as a basis for the designing of other structures, methods and systems for carrying out the several purposes of the present invention. It is important, therefore, that the claims be regarded as including such equivalent constructions insofar as they do not depart from the spirit and scope of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a skeletal chassis system holding an electronic device according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2A is a perspective view of a molded boot according to a first embodiment of a chassis surround according to the present invention.

FIG. 2B is a rear view of the arrangement of FIG. 2A.

FIG. 2C is a side view of the arrangement of FIG. 2A.

FIG. 3A is a perspective view of a frame in accordance with a second embodiment of a chassis surround according to the present invention.

FIG. 3B is a rear view of the arrangement of FIG. 3A.

FIG. 3C is a side view of the arrangement of FIG. 3A.

FIG. 3D is a front view of the arrangement of FIG. 3A.

FIG. 3E is a bottom view of the arrangement of FIG. 3A.

FIG. 3F is a different perspective view of the arrangement of FIG. 3A.

FIG. 4A is a perspective view of another frame in accordance with a third embodiment of a chassis surround according to the present invention.

FIG. 4B is a rear view of the arrangement of FIG. 4A.

FIG. 4C is a side view of the arrangement of FIG. 4A.

FIG. 4D is a front view of the arrangement of FIG. 4A.

FIG. 4E is a bottom view of the arrangement of FIG. 4A.

FIG. 4F is a perspective view of the rear of the arrangement of FIG. 4A.

FIG. 4G is a bottom view of the arrangement of FIG. 4A showing an electronic component in a raised position.

FIG. 4H is a side view of the arrangement in FIG. 4A showing the electronic device in a raised position.

FIG. 5A is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment according to the present invention.

FIG. 5B is a rear view of the arrangement of FIG. 5A.

FIG. 5C is a side view of the arrangement of FIG. 5A.

FIG. 5D is a bottom view of the arrangement of FIG. 5A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

An embodiment in accordance with the present invention provides systems and methods for protecting portable electronic devices as well as providing convenient attachment or handling features within a work environment.

The electronic devices may include for example operating devices, vehicle diagnostic or vehicle information devices, adapters, connectors, displays, input or output devices, etc. In the illustrated embodiments, the electronic device is depicted as a VIM 11, which is a “tablet PC” having a large touch screen display on one side. Preferred embodiments of the invention will now be described with reference to the drawing figures, in which like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout.

An embodiment of the present inventive and apparatus and method is illustrated in FIG. 1 having a skeletal chassis system 10 using streamlined interoperable members. A VIM 11 is shown mounted to the skeletal chassis 10 via mount points 12. The exemplary skeletal chassis 10 secures the VIM 11 by a framework of interior structural members 14 and exterior structural members 20.

The interior structural members 14 bridge the VIM 11 and facilitate attachment of the skeletal chassis 10 to the VIM 11, for example by a sliding fit or snap fit. The interior structural members 14 also provide a protective casing about the VIM 11. The external structural members 20 provide means for the skeletal chassis 10 to be integrated into an enter structure such as a surrounding boot or frame as described further below. If desired the interior structural member 14 can be made flexible to absorb shocks.

Additionally, the exterior structural members 20 enable the affixation of other protrusions that enhance the functionality of the skeletal chassis system 10. For example, FIG. 1 illustrates two wire wrap hooks 18 situated about two of the exterior structural member 20 which may be used for wrapping wire, such as a power cord or test lead, for example.

Also illustrated in the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 1 is an open area 16 which permits permanent or temporary insertion of a suitably fixed item such as a decoration or logo, so as to personalize the exemplary system for a given vendor or service provider.

FIGS. 2A-2C show a first embodiment of a chassis surround in the form of a molded semi elastic boot 30 that can be attached to the VIM 11 and incorporated around the skeletal chassis system 10 (not shown). The exemplary boot 30 has a main body 32 that surrounds the critical impact points of the VIM 11 without requiring any further disassembly or assembly of the VIM 11. Handles 34 are ergonomically integrated into the structure of the body 32, maintaining a slim profile, according to desired preferences. The exemplary body 32 may be designed with a very high impact absorption characteristic, for example, extra reinforced shock points may be incorporated into the “corners” of the boot design for enhanced impact survivability. FIG. 2A shows the external structural members 20 of the skeletal chassis 10, and also a display 13 of the VIM 11.

FIG. 2B is an illustration of a rear view of the boot 30 of FIG. 2A. FIG. 2B illustrates a flush fit of the interior members 14 of the skeletal chassis system 10 into the body 32, to maintain a slim profile. The body 32 may be made of a molded rubber compound or other equivalent material which is chemically resistive to most shop environment chemicals. The body 32 operates to provide impact absorbing capabilities as well as minimizing any marring affects upon the VIM 11. In addition to the boot 30 operating at least partially as a protective enclosure above the VIM 11, easy grip surfaces 34 are distributed above the boot 30 to enable 360° manipulation of the arrangement by hand.

FIG. 2C is an illustration of a side view of the boot 30 of FIG. 2A. For example, FIG. 2C illustrates “upper” and “lower” partitioning of the boot 30. The upper portion 35 has a slightly protruding profile to enable a protective canopy for the recessed lower portion 36. Of course, other design implementations or profiles may be used according to design preference.

A detachable cover 37 surrounding a port is disposed about the side of the boot 32 to enable easy access to any communication or data ports of the VIM 11. The detachable cover 37 may be hinged so as to prevent loss of the cover 37 when accessing the VIM 11 ports. Holes 39 within the skeletal chassis system 10 can be used to protect cables running through therein.

FIGS. 3A-3G show a second embodiment of a chassis surround in the form of a frame 40 attached to a skeletal system 10 and a VIM 11. The frame 40 is, in many respects, similar in its protective function to that of the boot 30 described above. The frame may be molded, and may use the materials described above as other materials. In addition, the frame 40 in some cases operates as an extending skeletal structure that provides both protective and ergonomic capabilities. For example, the frame 40 is designed with handles 44 on opposing sides of a main body 42.

The handles 44 are preferably manufactured from a rubber or hard elastic material that is chemically resistant, impact absorbing and structurally resilient. The open nature of the frame 40 in some cases minimizes weight and provides an easier access to the VIM 11.

FIG. 3B is an illustration of a back view of the frame 40 of FIG. 3A. As seen in FIG. 3B, the exemplary frame 40 is of an open structure architecture allowing easy access to the VIM 11. Attachment of the frame 40 to the VIM 11 is accomplished through coupling of the frame 40 to the skeletal chassis 10 at specified coupling points. The frame 40 has a central body 42.

Securing of the VIM 11 to the skeletal chassis 10 may be accomplished by the methods and systems described above and/or by the use of chassis mounts 47 gripping the exterior members 20 of the skeletal chassis system 10. The use of the mounts 47 enables a certain degree of flexibility in the ability of the frame 42 to encompass varying VIM 11 sizes. For example, the mounts 47 may be of longer or wider dimension to facilitate larger or smaller VIM 11 systems.

FIG. 3C shows the frame 42 configured with a hook-like protrusion or hanger 49 projecting away and down from the back of the body 42 to enable the device to be hung from a steering wheel. The hanger 49 can be made of a non-marring material to protect the steering wheel. FIGS. 3A-3G also show a user's arm. The device can rest on the user's arm 45 as shown to assist with mounting the device. The body 40 is also configured to ergonomically enable a user to place his/her forearm across the back of the frame 42 for user handling and support. Left or right hand usage is facilitated by the symmetric positioning of the handles 44. The mounts 47 may be affixed to the exterior structural members 20 of the skeletal chassis 10 by a friction or pressure insertion enclave (e.g. tab) or by screwing or clipping the mounts 47 therein.

FIGS. 4A-4H illustrate a frame 50 attached to a skeletal support 10 holding a VIM 11. The frame 50 is, in many respects similar in its protective function to that of the boot 30 and frame 40 as described above. The frame 50 has an outer ring structure 52 and a pair of feet rests 54. As shown in FIG. 4B the rear of the peripheral ring 52 and feet 54 may provide a rest for an arm as described with respect to the frame 40.

FIG. 4C depicts a steering wheel hanger 56 similar to the steering wheel hanger discussed in the previous embodiment.

Inside of the outer ring structure 52 a skeletal type structure 58 can be provided, which may be in the shape of a logo if desired. The outer ring 52 may also be provided at a location with indentations 60 shaped to hold a stylus or pointer that may be used with the VIM 11. This location may also provide a wrist rest. The top surface of the feet 54 may also provide a wrist rest as well.

A button may be provided to convert the arrangement to a configuration where the display 13 of the VIM 11 can be elevated rather than lying flat. The raised position is illustrated in FIGS. 4G and 4H. FIG. 4H also illustrates that the frame 50 can be laid on a surface so that it is resting on the hook 56 and an edge 66 so that the top surface 68 is at a convenient angle for typing.

FIG. 5A shows an alternative embodiment of the invention which does not necessarily involve a skeletal support such as skeletal support 10 in FIG. 1. In this embodiment the VIM 11 is surrounded by a box structure 72 with an opening or a clear display area 74 on one face thereof. The two opposed open ends are each closed by a respective cap 76 which may be a soft rubber cap capable of absorbing shock and providing grip. These end caps 76 also referred to as rubber boots. They can slip fit onto the outside of the main casing 72. Access windows 78 can be provided in the main housing 72 to permit visualization of displays of displays on the VIM which is VIM 11 which is contained therein. A recessed area having a housing 80 is illustrated in FIGS. 5C and 5D in order to provide holding of the device. The window 74 may also be configured to permit touch screen activation through the window 74. The housing may also be provided with one or more ports 82 permitting cable connection and/or signal visualization. The ports 82 can be closed by rubber caps or plugs if desired.

The many features and advantages of the invention are apparent from the detailed specification, and thus, it is intended by the appended claims to cover all such features and advantages of the invention which fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and variations will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation illustrated and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents maybe resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.