Title:
VARIABLE SIZE AIRBED
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An airbed (20) that is variable in size. The airbed includes a principal bladder (22) and one or more extension bladders (24, 26). The principal bladder (22) may be inflated and used as an airbed. The extension bladders (24, 26) may remain deflated, or one or more of the additional bladders may be inflated to increase the total size of the inflated portions of the airbed (20).



Inventors:
Mcclintock, Jason T. (Wichita, KS, US)
Rockstad, Jordan G. (Andover, KS, US)
Kelly, Luke E. (Augusta, KS, US)
Application Number:
11/850563
Publication Date:
04/03/2008
Filing Date:
09/05/2007
Assignee:
THE COLEMAN COMPANY, INC. (Wichita, KS, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/710
International Classes:
A47C27/10; A47C17/80
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
SANTOS, ROBERT G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
The Coleman Company (WICHITA, KS, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An airbed, comprising: a plurality of bladders, each bladder being selectively inflatable; wherein each bladder has a front end and a back end, the front end located opposite the back end; wherein each bladder has a length determined by measuring from the front end to the back end; wherein the plurality of bladders are connected one to another in series at one or more connections, each connection comprising a union of the front end of one bladder to the back end of an adjacent bladder, such that, when the bladders are inflated, the bladders form a substantially planar surface having a combined length approximately equal to the sum of the lengths of the bladders; and wherein the length of at least one of the bladders is greater than the length of another bladder.

2. The airbed of claim 1, wherein each of the plurality of bladders is connected to at least one other bladder by a top edge weld.

3. The airbed of claim 1, further comprising, for each bladder, an inflation valve configured to allow inflation of the bladder.

4. The airbed of claim 1, further comprising: a connecting valve configured to selectively provide a fluid connection between two adjacent bladders; and an inflation valve configured to allow inflation of a first of the two adjacent bladders, with the connecting valve selectively allowing inflation from the first bladder to a second of the two adjacent bladders.

5. The airbed of claim 1, wherein at least one of the plurality of bladders is removably connected to the other bladders.

6. The airbed of claim 1, wherein at least one of the plurality of bladders is configurable from a first position, wherein the at least one of the plurality of bladders provides a portion of the sleeping surface, to a second position, wherein said at least one of the plurality of bladders is atop an adjacent bladder so as to provide a pillow atop the sleeping surface.

7. The airbed of claim 1, wherein the width of at least one of the plurality of bladders varies to allow the airbed to receive a rear wheel well of an automobile when the airbed is positioned in a rear portion of the automobile.

8. An airbed, comprising: an independently inflatable principal bladder having a first length and a sleeping surface; and an independently inflatable extension bladder having a second length shorter than the first length, the extension bladder having an upper surface and being connected to the principal bladder so that, when the principal bladder and extension bladder are simultaneously inflated, the upper surface of the extension bladder is substantially coplanar with the sleeping surface of the principal bladder and the airbed fits closely inside a first rear portion of a first automobile; wherein, when the principal bladder is inflated and the extension bladder is deflated, the airbed is configured to fit closely inside a second rear portion of a second automobile, the second rear portion being shorter than the first rear portion.

9. The airbed of claim 8, wherein the principal bladder and the extension bladder are connected to one another by a top edge weld.

10. The airbed of claim 8, further comprising, an inflation valve configured to allow inflation of the principal bladder.

11. The airbed of claim 8, further comprising: a connecting valve configured to selectively provide a fluid connection between two adjacent bladders; and an inflation valve configured to allow inflation of a first of the two adjacent bladders, with the connecting valve selectively allowing inflation from the first bladder to a second of the two adjacent bladders.

12. The airbed of claim 8, wherein the extension bladder is removably connected to the principal bladder.

13. The airbed of claim 8, wherein the extension bladder is configurable from a first position, wherein the extension bladder is adjacent the principal bladder, and a second position, wherein the extension bladder is atop the principal bladder.

14. The airbed of claim 8, wherein the width of at least the principal bladder varies to receive a rear wheel well of an automobile when the airbed is positioned in a rear portion of the automobile.

15. The airbed of claim 8, further comprising one or more independently inflatable additional bladders connected to the principal bladder, each of the one or more additional bladders having a second upper surface, each of the one or more additional bladders being configured so that the second upper surface is substantially coplanar with the sleeping surface of the principal bladder when the principal bladder, the extension bladder, and the additional bladders are inflated.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/827,816, filed Oct. 2, 2006, and incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

An airbed, sometimes called an “air mattress,” is a large rectangular rubber or plastic (e.g., vinyl) bag that is filled with air so that it may be used as a bed. Airbeds are well known in the art and have proven themselves to be very useful. On the one hand, an inflatable airbed may be deflated and folded to store the airbed in a closet or basement. On the other hand, when guests arrive or when the owner of the airbed takes a trip to a place where there is no bed, the airbed may be inflated and may be used as a bed.

Although airbeds work well for their intended purpose, one limitation to the use of airbeds is that most conventional airbeds are manufactured to be used in a large open area. Thus, if an airbed is inflated and placed in the bed of a truck, wagon, sport utility vehicle (SUV), or other vehicle, the dimensions of the airbed may cause the airbed to fit poorly, either being too long or too short in one or more dimensions. One type of airbed that has been used to address this limitation is specifically manufactured to fit the dimensions of a particular vehicle.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The following presents a simplified summary of some embodiments of the invention in order to provide a basic understanding of the invention. This summary is not an extensive overview of the invention. It is not intended to identify key/critical elements of the invention or to delineate the scope of the invention. Its sole purpose is to present some embodiments of the invention in a simplified form as a prelude to the more detailed description of some embodiments that are presented later.

In accordance with an embodiment, an airbed is provided that is variable in size. In an embodiment, the airbed includes a principal bladder and one or more extension bladders. The principal bladder may be inflated and used as an airbed. The extension bladders may remain deflated, or one or more of the additional bladders may be inflated to increase the total size of the inflated portions of the airbed.

In an embodiment, each bladder has its own valve so that each bladder may be inflated individually. Alternatively, two or more bladders may be inflated using the same valve.

Other features of the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the drawings, in which:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side perspective view of an airbed in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a rear perspective view of a vehicle with an airbed in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a schematic representation of a cutout view of an airbed in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a schematic representation of a cutout view of an alternate embodiment of an airbed; and

FIG. 5 is schematic representation of a cutout view of an edge weld in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following description, various embodiments of the present invention will be described. For purposes of explanation, specific configurations and details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the embodiments. However, it will also be apparent to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without the specific details. Furthermore, well-known features may be omitted or simplified in order not to obscure the embodiment being described.

Referring now to the drawings, in which like reference numerals represent like parts throughout the several views, FIG. 1 shows an airbed 20 in accordance with an embodiment. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the airbed 20 includes a principal bladder 22, a first extension bladder 24, and a second extension bladder 26 connected in series. As further described below, the principal bladder 22, the first extension bladder 24, and/or the second extension bladder 26 may be inflated so as to provide an inflated airbed having varying lengths. The variable lengths of the airbed 20 may permit the airbed to be used in a variety of different applications, including, but not limited to, for use in the back of various different vehicles, such as sport utility vehicles.

In the embodiment shown in the drawings, each the bladders 22, 24, and 26 are connected to the respective adjacent bladder by a releasable or permanent connection. For example, as shown in FIG. 1, the principal bladder 22 is attached to the first extension bladder 24 by an edge weld 30. Also shown in FIG. 1, the second extension bladder 24 is attached to the second extension bladder 26 by an edge weld 30.

“Edge welds” are well-known in the airbed art. Details of an example of attachment of the principal bladder 22 to the first extension bladder 24 at an edge weld are shown in FIG. 3. As is known, as shown in FIG. 5, when two or more sheets of material 50 for an airbed are welded, the welded juncture forms a seam 52. This seam 52 includes excess flashing material 54 that usually extends outward at the seam 52. This excess flashing material 54 is also known as an “edge weld.” In most conventional airbeds, such junctures are formed at the connection of a top wall 32 (FIG. 3) of an airbed 20 to a side wall 34 for the airbed, and similarly at a connection of a bottom wall 36 to the side wall 34, but edge welds may be positioned at other locations on the airbed.

In accordance with an embodiment, the bladders 22, 24, and 26 of the airbed 20 are connected at edge welds 30. However, bladders may be attached in a number of ways, including, but not limited to, hook and loop fasteners, zippers, ties, hooks, snaps, loops and toggles, clasps, and other suitable attachments. The attachments may be permanent, or may allow users to attach or detach bladders to or from each other. In addition, two or more of the bladders 22, 24, and 26 of the airbed 20 may be formed in a single process. For example, as shown in FIG. 4, a single side panel 134 and a single top panel 132 may be used, and a weld 130 may be formed in the construction that defines a boundary between adjacent bladders.

In accordance with an embodiment, the connection of adjacent bladders is made at the top of the airbed. However, the bladders 22, 24, and/or 26 may be connected in a variety of other locations. For example, connections may be located at the bottom of the airbed or in a location between the top and bottom of the airbed. In general, the edge welds or other connectors may be located in any manner that allows proper connection of the bladders.

The present invention need not be limited to three bladders. A variable size airbed may alternatively have one extension bladder or more than two extension bladders. Also, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the extension bladders 24 and 26 are on the same side of the principal bladder 22. However, any number of configurations may be used. For example, one or more extension bladders may be attached to opposite sides of the principal bladder. In addition, FIG. 1 shows extension bladders 24 and 26 that may be selectively inflated to vary the length of the airbed. However, extension bladders may also be used to vary the width of the airbed as well.

As shown in FIG. 1, each bladder 22, 24, and 26 includes a valve 28 so that each bladder may be selectively inflated. Other configurations may be used that allow selective inflation of the bladders 22, 24, and 26. For example, the principal bladder 22 may include a valve for inflating the principal bladder 22. A closure valve (not shown) may fluidly connect the extension bladder 24 to the principal bladder 22 such that, when the valve is open, there is a fluid connection between the principal bladder 22 and extension bladder 24 so that air can flow between the two bladders. Similarly, the second extension bladder 26 may either contain a valve 28 for inflation as shown in FIG. 1, or may include a closure valve connecting the second extension bladder 26 to the first extension bladder 24 providing a fluid connection between the two bladders. In general, any configuration of valves may be utilized that allows the bladders to be selectively inflated.

As shown in FIG. 2, the airbed is manufactured to fit inside the bed of a vehicle 32. Specifically, bladders are manufactured to correspond to common size vehicle beds. For example, the principal bladder 22 may be four feet long while the extension bladders 24 and 26 each may be one foot long, allowing the bed to fit inside vehicles with beds that are four, five, or six feet long. In another embodiment, an airbed may have two bladders connected, for example at edge welds, a principal bladder having a width of forty one inches and a length of sixty two inches, and an extension bladder having a width of forty one inches and a length of seven inches so that, when both bladders are inflated, the airbed has a width of forty one inches and a length of sixty nine inches and, when only the principal bladder is inflated, the airbed is approximately the size of the principal bladder. Of course, in other embodiments, each bladder may be manufactured to any desired length, allowing the airbed to fit in a variety of places. In addition, the extension bladders need not have dimensions that match other extension bladders and/or the principal bladder.

As shown in FIG. 1, the bladders have a rectangular shape. As shown in FIG. 2, the width dimension of the rectangle is such that the airbed will fit between protruding wheel wells in the bed of a vehicle. Alternate embodiments may have one or more bladders of another size or shape. For example, the principal bladder 22 and/or the extension bladders 24, 26 may have different widths to accommodate variations in the width of a vehicle bed, such as variations due to wheel wells. The width of one or more bladders may also vary to accommodate such variations in the width of a vehicle bed. As shown in FIG. 1, the bladders 22, 24, and 26 have the same width, but the bladders may also vary in width.

As shown in FIG. 1, the extension bladders 24 and 26 may be used to extend the length of the airbed. However, the extension bladders 24 and 26 may serve other purposes such as pillows or backrests. For example, as shown in FIG. 1, inflated extension bladder 26 may be folded along the edge weld 30 and used as a pillow. In addition, inflated extension bladders 24 and 26 may be folded up along the edge weld connecting the extension bladder 24 to the primary bladder 22 to provide a larger pillow. Also, inflated extension bladder 24 and deflated extension bladder 26 may be folded along the edge weld 30 connecting the extension bladder 24 to the primary bladder in order to provide a pillow. In this last configuration, the deflated extension bladder 26 may lie on top of the primary bladder 22 or may be folded under the inflated extension bladder 24. Of course, similar variations may also be made with other configurations.

Although described with reference to a “principal” and one or more “extension” bladders, an airbed in accordance with an embodiment may include two or more bladders that are of the same size. In addition, an airbed in accordance with an embodiment may include a first bladder that is configured and sized to fit the back of one size of a vehicle, and a second bladder configured and sized to fit the back of another size of vehicle. In a variation of such an embodiment, the bladders are both inflated to be used in a third, larger sized vehicle.

In an alternative embodiment, one or more of the bladders may contain a built in pump or compressor in addition to or instead of the valve that inflates one or more of the bladders. The built in pump or compressor may be incorporated into one or more of the bladders.

Other variations are within the spirit of the present invention. Thus, while the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative constructions, a certain illustrated embodiment thereof is shown in the drawings and has been described above in detail. It should be understood, however, that there is no intention to limit the invention to the specific form or forms disclosed, but on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, alternative constructions, and equivalents falling within the spirit and scope of the invention, as defined in the appended claims.

All references, including publications, patent applications, and patents, cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each reference were individually and specifically indicated to be incorporated by reference and were set forth in its entirety herein.

The use of the terms “a” and “an” and “the” and similar referents in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) are to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. The terms “comprising,” “having,” “including,” and “containing” are to be construed as open-ended terms (i.e., meaning “including, but not limited to,”) unless otherwise noted. The term “connected” is to be construed as partly or wholly contained within, attached to, or joined together, even if there is something intervening. Recitation of ranges of values herein are merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range, unless otherwise indicated herein, and each separate value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., “such as”) provided herein, is intended merely to better illuminate embodiments of the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element as essential to the practice of the invention.

Preferred embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventors for carrying out the invention. Variations of those preferred embodiments may become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventors expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventors intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.