Title:
COMBINATION TRAVEL PILLOW/PILLOW ENHANCER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pillow/pillow cover combination is transformable between a relatively compact folded configuration where it functions as a comfortable stand-alone pillow for travel situations where personal space may be limited, such as inside a car or plane, and an unfolded configuration where it functions as a padded pillow cover, able to accept a standard pillow inside an attached pouch, thereby making it suitable for use as a personal pillow enhancer for enhancing a pillow provided in a hotel room or other travel lodgings.



Inventors:
Abell, Diane E. (Louisville, KY, US)
Application Number:
11/833702
Publication Date:
02/07/2008
Filing Date:
08/03/2007
Assignee:
Louisville Bedding Company (Louisville, KY, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/636, 5/652, 5/490
International Classes:
A47C20/00; A47G9/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CONLEY, FREDRICK C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BANNER & WITCOFF, LTD. (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
1. A pillow/pillow cover combination which is transformable between a relatively small footprint stand-alone pillow configuration and a relatively large footprint padded pillow cover configuration, comprising: a plurality of cushion panels hingedly attached to each other by hinge joints so as to allow the cushion panels to fold onto each other and thereby provide said stand-alone pillow configuration, and to unfold from each other so as to provide said padded pillow cover configuration; and a panel of material that spans a substantial portion of the plurality of cushion panels on a side thereof and is attached thereto so as to form a pouch for receipt of a separate pillow when said pillow/pillow cover combination is in said padded pillow cover configuration.

2. The pillow/pillow cover combination of claim 1, wherein the plurality of cushion panels comprise fabric encased generally rectangular cushion panels.

3. The pillow/pillow cover combination of claim 2, wherein said cushion panels comprise fabric encased blocks of soft foam material.

4. The pillow/pillow cover combination of claim 2, wherein there are exactly three fabric encased rectangular cushion panels of approximately equal size, including a pair of side cushion panels and a middle cushion panel connected between the side cushion panels so as to form a tri-panel pillow structure.

5. The pillow/pillow cover combination of claim 2, wherein said hinge joints are provided by a fabric casing enclosing each of the cushioning panels individually, said joints providing flexible hinge lines which allow for the folding of the combination pillow/pillow cover combination in an accordion-like fashion to place the combination in said stand-alone pillow configuration.

6. The pillow/pillow cover combination of claim 5, wherein at least one of said hinge joints is formed by an attachment of a top layer of the fabric casing to a bottom layer of the casing in such a manner as to give the joint a general “v-shaped” appearance.

7. The pillow/pillow cover combination of claim 6, wherein said at least one joint is located adjacent a bottom layer of the fabric casing between one of the side panels and the middle panel, to thereby facilitate a folding of the side panel beneath the middle panel.

8. The pillow/pillow cover combination of claim 7, wherein a second hinge joint is located adjacent a top layer of the fabric casing between one of the side panels and the middle panel, to thereby facilitate a folding of the side panel on top of the middle panel.

9. The pillow/pillow cover combination of claim 5, wherein the casing fabric comprises a stretchable, forgiving polyester-cotton blended velour fabric.

10. The pillow/pillow cover combination of claim 4, wherein said panel of material substantially spans the tri-panel pillow structure on its bottom side.

11. The pillow/pillow cover combination of claim 10, wherein said panel of material is attached by a stitched seam about the periphery of a bottom casing layer of the tri-panel pillow structure, whereby said pouch is formed between the tri-panel pillow structure and the attached panel of material.

12. The pillow/pillow cover combination of claim 10, wherein without a separate pillow inserted into the pouch, the attached panel of material lies generally flat against the tri-panel pillow structure so as not to interfere with or add significant bulk to the structure when it is folded up into said stand-alone pillow configuration.

13. The pillow/pillow cover combination of claim 1, in further combination with a tote bag into which the pillow/pillow cover combination may be placed when in its stand-alone pillow configuration.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of prior co-pending U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/835,459, filed Aug. 4, 2006.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a novel pillow/pillow cover combination that is transformable between two principal configurations that make it well suited and highly beneficial for travelers.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many travelers desire the use of a personal pillow while en route and/or upon arriving at overnight lodgings. A personal travel pillow can, in general, enhance travel comfort in the many circumstances where a pillow is desired but not typically provided, such as while traveling in an automobile, or waiting for a flight in an airport terminal or for a train at the train station. In addition, the use of a personal pillow can address concerns with the potentially limited comfort and unsanitary conditions of the pillows sometimes made available to travelers, such as those offered on commercial airline flights. The same concerns can also exist with respect to the bed pillows provided in hotels and other overnight lodgings. Even in the case of clean and sanitary hotel bedding, the pillows may not provide the degree of comfort that the traveler desires.

The carriage of a personal pillow during travel presents practical difficulties, however. A conventional bed pillow is not easily carried on one's person, and would take up a substantial amount of the very limited space typically available to the traveler in his/her luggage if carried that way. On the other hand, small pillows and cushions of the type which might be easily carried during travel likely provide very limited additional comfort, and generally are not suitable or desirable for use as a bed pillow.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention, exemplary embodiments of which are described herein, can afford the traveler a comfortable personal pillow for travel use, while avoiding much of the practical difficulty traditionally associated with traveling with one's own comfortable pillow.

In accordance with the invention, a pillow/pillow cover combination is transformable between a relatively compact folded configuration where it functions as a comfortable stand-alone pillow for travel situations where personal space may be limited, such as inside a car or plane, and an unfolded configuration where it functions as a padded pillow cover, able to accept a standard pillow inside an attached pouch, thereby making it suitable for use as a personal pillow enhancer for enhancing a pillow provided in a hotel room or other travel lodgings.

The above and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be readily apparent and fully understood from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments, taken in connection with the appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing an exemplary combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer 1, in its unfolded configuration.

FIG. 2 is a side elevation view of the combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer in its unfolded configuration.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer in transition between the unfolded pillow enhancer configuration and the compact travel pillow configuration.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer in its compact travel pillow configuration.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer in its folded-up compact configuration and placed inside a tote bag.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer with a standard pillow in the process of being inserted into the pouch opening.

FIG. 7 is a view showing the standard bed pillow substantially fully inserted and enveloped within pillow-enhancing structure.

FIG. 8 is an exploded view illustrating an exemplary manner of constructing the combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing an exemplary combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer 1, in its unfolded configuration. Three fabric encased rectangular cushion panels 5, 7 and 10 of equal size form a tri-panel structure 2, wherein the middle cushion panel 10 is connected between the side cushion panels 5, 7 at joints 15 and 20. Joints 15, 20 are preferably provided by a fabric casing enclosing each of the cushioning panels individually. The joints 15, 20 provide flexible hinge lines which allow for the folding of the combination pillow/pillow enhancer 1, in an accordion-like fashion, to form a relatively compact pillow. In its unfolded condition, the “footprint” of the structure may be approximately equal to or slightly smaller than the 20″×27″ footprint of a standard bed pillow, e.g., 18″×27″. Each of the cushions may have a thickness of approximately 1″, a footprint area of approximately 18″×9″. In another embodiment, the footprint of the structure may be 18″×30″ in order to approximate the footprint of a queen-sized pillow, in which case each of the cushions may have a footprint area of approximately 18″×10″.

FIG. 2 is a side elevation view of combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer 1 in its unfolded configuration. It can be seen that the seam that creates joint 15 is formed by pinching a top layer of the fabric casing down to a bottom layer 30 of the casing, thus giving the joint 15 a “v-shaped” appearance. The other joint 20 is formed by pinching the bottom layer 30 upwards to the top surface 25, forming a similar inverted joint adjacent to the top surface. The configuration of the seams affects how the panels (5,10) will fold up onto each other. Joint 15, for example, is adjacent to the bottom layer 30 between the left side panel 5 and the middle panel 10, which results in the left side panel 5 easily folding beneath the middle panel 10. Conversely, joint 20 is adjacent to the top layer 25 between the right side panel 7 and the middle panel 10 and will allow the right side panel 7 to easily fold on top of the middle panel 10.

There is an additional fabric panel 55 that spans the tri-panel structure 2 on its bottom side. This panel is attached, such as by a stitched seam, about the periphery of bottom casing layer 30. In FIG. 2, the length-wise edge of the pouch-forming panel 55 is visible. At the right end is an opening 60 into the pouch, shown collapsed into the form of a slit (see also FIG. 1). As will described in greater detail, the pouch formed by panel 55 serves to receive a standard pillow therein. Without a pillow inserted into the pouch, the attached fabric panel 55 lies flat against the tri-panel pillow structure 2 so as not to interfere with or add significant bulk to the structure when it is folded up into its compact travel configuration. Panel 55 also serves to provide a soft skin contact surface on one side of the travel pillow when in the folded-up configuration.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer 1 in transition between the unfolded pillow enhancer configuration and the compact travel pillow configuration. This figure further illustrates the folding of the cushion panels (5, 7,10) at joints (15, 20) occuring in an accordion-like fashion where side cushion panel 5 is folding onto one side of middle cushion panel 10, and side cushion panel 7 is folding onto the other side of the middle cushion panel 10.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer 1 in its compact travel pillow configuration. The compact travel pillow has a “footprint” one third the size, and a thickness thrice the size, of the unfolded configuration illustrated in FIGS. 1-2. As illustrated, the attached pouch-forming fabric panel 55 is folded in between cushion panels 5 and 10 and between panels 7 and 10, and provides an outer skin contact surface on the topside, when combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer 1 is folded up into its compact travel configuration. Various known types of garment fasteners may be employed to retain the combination structure in its folded-up compact configuration, if desired. Referring to FIG. 5, when the combination pillow is in its folded-up compact configuration, it may be placed inside a vinyl or other type tote bag 80 provided with handles 85 and a zippered closure 87, for carrying convenience and to maintain cleanliness.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer 1 with a standard pillow 70 in the process of being inserted into the pouch opening 60. Standard pillow 70 is inserted through the pouch opening 60 into the pouch 75 formed between the tri-panel pillow structure 2 and the attached fabric panel 55.

FIG. 7 is a view showing standard bed pillow 70 substantially fully inserted and enveloped within pillow-enhancing structure 1, so as to present an enhanced pillow provided with a soft fabric buffer on both the upper and lower sides, and an added layer of cushioning on one side (the upper side as shown). In particular, pouch forming fabric panel 55 serves to provide on one side a pillow cover fabric layer, while tri-panel pillow structure 2 serves to provide a cushioned comfort enhancing opposite side of the pillow cover. In this manner, a standard bed pillow 70 may be fully enveloped by the combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer 1, thereby providing a barrier or buffer between the user and the bed pillow. A standard pillow of 20″×27″ will readily collapse in size sufficiently to easily fit inside of a slightly undersized case having dimensions of 18″×27″. Preferably, the fabric forming the foldable casing of the tri-panel pillow structure 2, and the attached pouch-forming panel 55, are chosen from known fabrics in order to provide a desirable look and feel to the user, as well as wearability, soiling resistance and machine washability. In one embodiment, the casing fabric comprises a stretchable, forgiving polyester-cotton blended velour fabric (e.g., 75% cotton and 25% polyester).

FIG. 8 is an exploded view illustrating an exemplary manner of constructing the combination travel pillow/pillow enhancer 1. In the exemplary construction, a single main piece of fabric 35 is cut or otherwise configured to fully encase three foam cushion panels 40 of equal size. Panels 40 are placed next to each other with a small gap between them to allow for the formation of the joints. Main piece of fabric 35 has two primary sections 45, 50, serving respectively as the bottom side 30 and the top side 25. Section 45 is sized and configured to envelop all but the top surface of the cushion panels 40, and is formed with notches 46 demarcating the ends of the two hinge lines formed between the three panel sections. The notches provide a tailored edge permitting the fabric to wrap smoothly upwards about the outer peripheral edges of panels 40. Section 50, serving as the top side 25, is wrapped around the cushion panels 40 (as depicted by the dotted arrows) positioned on top of section 45, so as to cover the same. This places the peripheral edges of section 50 in general overlying registry with the peripheral edges of section 45, such that the two sections may be joined by conventional means, such as a stitched seam, to form the primary casing enclosure. The individual cushion casings, and hinge lines, would then be formed, such as in the manner previously described.

The construction of travel pillow/pillow enhancer 1 is completed with the attachment of the second piece of fabric 55 to one side of the tri-panel pillow structure 2. As previously indicated, fabric panel 55 preferably spans the entire length and width of the tri-panel structure 2. The attachment may be provided in the form of a conventional stitched seam extending about the periphery of the tri-panel pillow structure 2 along all but one end. As previously explained, one end will be left open to provide an opening 60 permitting insertion of a standard pillow into the pouch, as illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7.

The cushion panels may be provided in the form of blocks of soft latex foam or polyurethane foam. The foam blocks may have flat surfaces or be provided with surface height variations, such as egg crate shaped crests and valleys. Alternatively, the cushioning material could be any other material suitable as a pillow or cushioning material, including natural materials such as down feather filling and other synthetic materials, such a fiber-fill

It will be understood that while the invention has been described in conjunction with various embodiments and details thereof, the foregoing description and examples are intended to illustrate, but not limit the scope of the invention. Numerous other variations and arrangements are within the scope of the invention.





 
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