Title:
Adjustable pillow
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An adjustable pillow comprising a support surface for receiving and supporting at least a part of a human body and forming a plurality of apertures there through for providing air circulation and substantial washability and at least one foldable channel. The foldable channel is a recess in the support surface about which the support surface generally folds is disclosed. The plurality of apertures provides efficient conduits through which air and water may flow while the pillow is folded along a foldable channel or unfolded.



Inventors:
Cretsinger, Gene W. (Cedar Rapids, IA, US)
Application Number:
12/006357
Publication Date:
07/03/2008
Filing Date:
01/02/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G9/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LEE, GILBERT Y
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SUITER SWANTZ PC LLO (OMAHA, NE, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An adjustable pillow, comprising: a cushion material including a first support surface and a second support surface, wherein the first support surface defines a plurality of apertures for ventilating the first support surface, the first support surface further defining a first channel for folding the adjustable pillow, the second support surface defining a plurality of apertures for ventilating the second support surface, and the cushion material defining a plurality of apertures extending through the cushion material, the first support surface, and the second support surface for ventilating the cushion material.

2. The adjustable pillow of claim 1, wherein the second support surface further defines a second channel for folding the adjustable pillow.

3. The adjustable pillow of claim 2, wherein the second channel is substantially parallel to the first channel.

4. The adjustable pillow of claim 1, wherein the cushion material has a thickness of between approximately 1 to 3 inches.

5. The adjustable pillow of claim 1, wherein the cushion material comprises a pliable material.

6. The adjustable pillow of claim 5, wherein the cushion material comprises at least one of a foam construction, latex, natural fibers, or synthetic fibers.

7. The adjustable pillow of claim 6, wherein the cushion material comprises a foam construction of at least one of open cell construction, closed cell construction, small cell construction, foam rubber, polyurethane foam, or polyether foam.

8. The adjustable pillow of claim 6, wherein the cushion material further comprises a protective coating applied to at least one of the first support surface or the second support surface.

9. An adjustable pillow, comprising: a first support surface; a second support surface opposite the first support surface; a cushion material disposed between the first support surface and the second support surface for providing a cushion body; a foldable channel in at least one of the first support surface and the second support surface, providing an axis about which at least a portion of the at least one of the first support surface and the second support surface generally folds; and a plurality of apertures extending between the first support surface and the second support surface, the plurality of apertures providing a conduit for ventilating the first support surface and the second support surface, wherein the foldable channel forms a contour in the at least one of the first support surface and the second support surface.

10. The adjustable pillow of claim 9, wherein the plurality of apertures further extends through the foldable channel.

11. The adjustable pillow of claim 9, where the cushion material comprises a pliable material.

12. The adjustable pillow of claim 11, wherein the cushion material comprises at least one of a foam construction, latex, natural fibers, or synthetic fibers.

13. The adjustable pillow of claim 12, wherein the cushion material comprises a foam construction of at least one of open cell construction, closed cell construction, small cell construction, foam rubber, polyurethane foam, or polyether foam.

14. The adjustable pillow of claim 12, wherein the cushion material further comprises a protective coating applied to at least one of the first support surface, the second support surface, or the cushion material.

15. The adjustable pillow of claim 9, wherein the cushion body is approximately 3 inches thick.

16. The adjustable pillow of claim 9, wherein the cushion material disposed between the foldable channel and one of a group consisting of a second foldable channel, the first support surface, and the second support surface is at least approximately 1 inch thick.

17. An adjustable pillow, comprising: a first portion defining a plurality of apertures for ventilating the first portion; and a second portion interconnected with the first portion, wherein the second portion defines a channel about which the first portion substantially folds, the first portion and the second portion comprising a foam construction of at least one of open cell construction, closed cell construction, small cell construction, foam rubber, polyurethane foam, or polyether.

18. The adjustable pillow of claim 17, wherein the second portion defines a plurality of channels, each of the plurality of channels providing a fold about which the first portion rotates.

19. The adjustable pillow of claim 17, wherein the second portion further defines of plurality of apertures for ventilating the second portion.

20. The adjustable pillow of claim 17, wherein the second portion has a thickness of between approximately 1 to 3 inches, and the first portion has a thickness of at least approximately 3 inches.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119 of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/878,324 filed Jan. 3, 2007. Said U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/878,324 filed Jan. 3, 2007 is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to the field of pillows, and more particularly to an adjustable pillow providing desirable comfort, air circulation, and maintenance characteristics.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Pillows are often utilized by individuals to properly support and align the head and neck while resting in a prone, seated, or other position. Pillows generally comprise a soft, comfortable material enclosed within a flexible material to support a body part, generally the head. However, conventional pillow materials and designs pose problems for the user. The standard tubular shape design does not allow significant spatial adjustments, causing many users to fold the pillow or redistribute the interior material by “fluffing” the pillow. Spatial adjustability is often desirable for accommodating multiples uses of the pillow (e.g., in a chair, in bed, on the floor, etc.), for providing comfort for individuals who frequently reposition themselves while sleeping, and for supporting other parts of the body (e.g., between the legs). Folding standard pillows is often undesirable, resulting in general packing and firming of the interior material. Additionally, some interior materials produce undesirable reaction forces, when the material strains to revert to its original, steady state shape. Redistributing the internal material may accelerate the firming process, causing the pillow to become uncomfortable more quickly and may provide poor spinal alignment.

Conventional pillows utilizing common materials, such as foam, cotton, wool, alpaca, down, and the like, also tend to lose softness and collect undesirable substances such as dirt, sweat, oils, skin cells, dust mites, and other microorganisms. Most common materials are not satisfactorily washable, thereby leaving the undesirable substances within the pillow. Some synthetic materials are washable, but when used in a standard pillow design, suffer from a lack of desirable adjustability. Materials that do not wash and dry properly are subject to mold, bacteria, and other microbial growths. These growths pose potential allergenic risks and other health concerns.

Many pillows comprise a foam material to provide support and comfort. Foam pillows generally comprise either a solid uniform foam or a chopped foam material. Solid uniform foam material is generally three to four inch thick pieces that compress under the weight of a user, but provide no substantial air circulation. When air circulation is limited, the pillow may become unduly warm at the point where the head and neck rest on the pillow. As a result, increased amounts of sweat may be absorbed by the foam material. Additionally, solid uniform foam material has a memory in its composition, creating a tendency to continuously return to its unused, steady state position. Thus, when a user folds the pillow, the foam pushes back against the user creating restless sleep or discomfort. Chopped foam material alleviates some of the reactive forces involved when foam tends to return to its unused, steady state position. However, chopped foam still suffers from an undesirable amount of limited air circulation. In general, foam tends to collect undesirable substances such as dirt, sweat, oils, skin cells, dust mites, and other microorganisms, which are allergenic hazards to some users. Solid uniform foam cannot be thoroughly washed and dried, while chopped foam pieces wash and dry more completely than solid uniform foam pieces.

Memory foam is another commonly used pillow material. Memory foam pillows are of a small cell construction (e.g., open-cell) and are even more memory strong than conventional foam pillows. Memory foam may also include temperature sensitivity characteristics, referred to as visco-elastic foam, which dictates the firmness of the material across a temperature gradient. Memory foam may tend to soften and compress over time, depending on the foam density, limiting the life expectancy of the pillow. Further, since memory foam is utilized in solid uniform configurations, it is difficult to satisfactorily wash and dry the material.

Other pillow materials include feathers, down, and feather composites. While feathers may be soft and comfortable, some feather material can pose high allergenic risks. However, even feather composites, down, and hypo-allergenic feather material pose clumping problems, are unwashable, and accumulate sloughed skin cells, microorganisms, and the like.

Therefore, there remains the need for a pillow that provides desirable comfort, can be adjusted to suit a user's needs, is properly washable, and provides desirable air circulation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the present invention is directed to an adjustable pillow. In a first aspect of the present invention, the adjustable pillow comprises a cushion material including a first support surface and a second support surface. The first support surface defines a plurality of apertures for ventilating the first support surface, the first support surface further defining a first channel for folding the adjustable pillow, the second support surface defining a plurality of apertures for ventilating the second support surface, and the cushion material defining a plurality of apertures extending through the cushion material, the first support surface, and the second support surface for ventilating the cushion material.

In another aspect of the present invention the adjustable pillow comprises a first support surface, a second support surface opposite the first support surface, a cushion material disposed between the first support surface and the second support surface for providing a cushion body, a foldable channel in at least one of the first support surface and the second support surface, providing an axis about which at least a portion of the at least one of the first support surface and the second support surface generally folds, and a plurality of apertures extending between the first support surface and the second support surface, the plurality of apertures providing a conduit for ventilating the first support surface and the second support surface. The foldable channel forms a contour in the at least one of the first support surface and the second support surface.

In a further aspect of the invention, the adjustable pillow comprises a first portion defining a plurality of apertures for ventilating the first portion, and a second portion interconnected with the first portion. The second portion defines a channel about which the first portion substantially folds, the first portion and the second portion comprising a foam construction of at least one of open cell construction, closed cell construction, small cell construction, foam rubber, polyurethane foam, or polyether.

It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory only and are not necessarily restrictive of the invention as claimed. The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of the specification, illustrate an embodiment of the invention and together with the general description, serve to explain the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The numerous advantages of the present invention may be better understood by those skilled in the art by reference to the accompanying figures in which:

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of an adjustable pillow, according to a present embodiment of the intention;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the adjustable pillow illustrated in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of the adjustable pillow illustrated in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Reference will now be made in detail to the presently preferred embodiments of the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

Referring now to FIGS. 1-3, an adjustable pillow 102 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention is depicted. In one specific embodiment, the adjustable pillow 102 comprises a generally rectangular shape defined by opposing support surfaces 104 and 106, opposing first and second panels 108 and 110, and opposing third and fourth panels 112 and 114. In another embodiment, the first and second panels 108 and 110 are longer than the third and fourth panels 112 and 114, resulting in a rectangular adjustable pillow 102. The dimensions of the adjustable pillow 102 may be accordingly modified to approximate the sizes and shapes of current pillows in the art (e.g., standard, queen, king, etc.) or to satisfy consumer expectations and desires. It will be appreciated that the present invention encompasses multiple structural shapes and is not limited to rectangular embodiments. For instance, the present invention may further comprise a generally circular, triangular, square, or elliptical shape, in addition to other shapes and sizes known in the art.

Opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 provide a surface upon which a user may rest their head, neck, legs, knees, or other body part or parts. Opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 are positioned sufficiently apart relative from each other such that a material may be inserted between opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 to provide structural support and cushion to the adjustable pillow 102. The material between opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 may be referred to as a cushion body. Opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 and the cushion body may be formed from a soft and pliable material, for instance, of a foam construction, such as an open cell construction, a closed cell construction, a small cell construction (i.e., memory foam), foam rubber, polyurethane foam, polyether foam or a comparable foam product and the like. Similarly, opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 and the cushion body may be formed from latex, natural fibers, synthetic fibers or other synthetic material, or any other material sufficient to provide substantial and desirable support to a body part. Exemplary natural fibers include cotton, linen, alpaca, wool, silk, and the like. Exemplary synthetic fibers include polyester, nylon, acrylic fibers, and the like. In one specific embodiment, opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 and the cushion body are formed of a soft and supportive closed cell foam, which may be sealed with a protective coating to prevent water absorption and to enhance washability. The term “washability” refers to the propensity for cleanliness and reverting to an original form during a standard washing and drying cycle or otherwise when subjected to common detergents, bleaches, and water, and subsequently dried. In one embodiment, washability is enhanced via reducing the amount of foreign substances adhered to and absorbed by the pillow material, such as by using a protective coating applied to the pillow material. However, a material may remain washable (i.e., retain washability) even when saturated with foreign substances.

The adjustable pillow 102 further includes at least one foldable channel 116. In a present embodiment of the current invention, the adjustable pillow 102 includes four foldable channels approximately perpendicularly arranged along the length and width of both opposing support surfaces 104 and 106, as shown in FIG. 2. The foldable channels 116 may be incorporated as recesses in opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 about which the adjustable pillow 102 may fold. A foldable channel 116 on one of opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 may correspond to another foldable channel 116 on the other of opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 such that the material between the foldable channels is relatively thin for ease of folding. For example, where the cushion body may have a thickness of approximately 3 inches, the material between foldable channels 116 located on both of opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 may transition to a thickness of at least approximately 1 inch. An exemplary transition is depicted in FIG. 3. While the adjustable pillow 102 may be constructed from relatively soft and pliable materials and therefore may fold along a number of axes, foldable channels 116 permit ease of folding with reduced tendency for the pillow material to apply undesirable reaction forces against a body part as the material tends to revert to its steady state position. The decreased pillow material thickness at the foldable channels 116 may aid in reducing the tendency to exert undesirable reaction forces. Thus, while the adjustable pillow 102 is folded along the foldable channel 116, the adjustable pillow 102 has a reduced tendency and strength to unfold when in a folded position. Therefore, the current invention provides a convenient design that allows a user to manipulate the adjustable pillow 102 into various heights and shapes while maintaining a comfortable surface area. Varying the thickness of the cushion body and the location of the foldable channels 116 enables flexibility in adjustable pillow 102 shape and user-preferred comfort when folded and unfolded.

Additionally, the foldable channels 116 provide a user with a contoured surface on opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 as a result of the thickness differential between the foldable channels 116 and the material between opposing support surfaces 104 and 106. The contour surface configuration may be altered further into a desirable shape via folding the adjustable pillow 102 along the foldable channels 116 or by folding the pliable support structure material. A user may rest their head directly onto a foldable channel 116 when the adjustable pillow 102 is in an unfolded state and still maintain a relaxing experience. When the adjustable pillow 102 is in an unfolded state (such as that depicted in FIGS. 1-3), the foldable channels 116 provide a support surface which may be suspended above the surface upon which the adjustable pillow 102 is located. For instance, the recess of a foldable channel 116 on one or both of opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 may create a gap 118 between opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 and the surface upon which the adjustable pillow 102 is positioned. When an amount of pressure is applied to the foldable channel 116, such as the pressure from a body part resting on the foldable channel 116, the pressure may cause the foldable channel 116 to contact the surface upon which the adjustable pillow 102 is located. The support surface surrounding the foldable channel 116 may then contour around the pressure source, e.g., the body part.

Opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 define a plurality of apertures 120 there-through, wherein the plurality of apertures 120 extend through opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 and the material between opposing support surfaces 104 and 106. In one embodiment, the plurality of apertures 120 forms an approximately perforated structure in the adjustable pillow 102. The plurality of apertures 120 enables substantial air circulation within and around the adjustable pillow 102 by providing essentially unrestricted pathways or conduits through which air may pass. As a result the substantial air circulation, the adjustable pillow 102 may provide a cooler resting surface than conventional pillows, thereby creating user comfort and potentially reducing an amount of perspiration introduced to and absorbed by the pillow. Further, the plurality of apertures 120 provides opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 and the material between opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 increased surface area with which detergents, water, and air may contact during a washing and drying cycle. As a result, the adjustable pillow features enhanced washability as compared to current pillow designs, since the plurality of apertures 120 provides efficient conduits for air and water. Additionally, a sealant may be used on the pillow material, including the surfaces of the plurality of apertures, which would further aid the removal of hydrophobic/non-aqueous foreign substances, such as oil secreted by the skin. Desirably, the sealant does not substantially impair the pliability or comfort of the pillow material. Opposing support surfaces 104 and 106 may form the plurality of apertures 120 according to various structural designs, including polygon grids, honeycombs, slotted curved openings, irregular shapes, amorphous distributions, and combinations thereof. In a current embodiment of the present invention, the aperture layout is structured to provide substantially uniform air circulation through the adjustable pillow 102 in addition to providing structural support for receiving and supporting body parts, such as the head, neck, legs, and the like.

The foldable channels 116 may be formed as recesses within opposing support surfaces 104 and 106, and as a result, may also include the plurality of apertures 120. Therefore the foldable channels 116 also may comprise a generally perforated structure. A uniform distribution of apertures may be desirable, such that when the adjustable pillow 102 is folded along a foldable channel 116, the aperture structure correspondingly may overlap itself. For example, where the plurality of apertures 120 exhibits a uniform honeycombed structure, the honeycombed apertures may accordingly overlap each other upon folding the adjustable pillow 102 along an axis formed along a foldable channel 116. However, with a substantial distribution of apertures, a uniform distribution of apertures may be unnecessary to provide substantial air circulation, since even while folded; air may have a significant pathway through the entire pillow structure. Thus, the air circulation may be substantially effective, even while the adjustable pillow 102 is in a folded position.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the adjustable pillow 102 comprises a cushion material including a first support surface and a second support surface. The first support surface defines a plurality of apertures for ventilating the first support surface. The first support surface further defines a first channel for folding the adjustable pillow 102. The second support surface defines a plurality of apertures for ventilating the second support surface. The cushion material defines a plurality of apertures extending through the cushion material, the first support surface, and the second support surface for ventilating the cushion material. The second surface may further define a second channel for folding the adjustable pillow 102. For example, the second channel may be substantially parallel to the first channel. In a particular embodiment, the cushion material is a pliable material of a thickness of between approximately 1 to 3 inches. The cushion material may comprise may be of other thicknesses to accommodate different sizes and shapes of the adjustable pillow 102. The cushion material may comprise at least one of a foam construction, latex, natural fibers, or synthetic fibers. The foam construction may include at least one of open cell construction, closed cell construction, small cell construction, foam rubber, polyurethane foam, or polyether foam. Further, the cushion material may include a protective coating.

In a further embodiment, the adjustable pillow 102 comprises a first portion defining a plurality of apertures for ventilating the first portion, and a second portion interconnected with the first portion. The second portion defines a channel about which the first portion substantially folds. The first portion and the second portion comprise a foam construction of at least one of open cell construction, closed cell construction, small cell construction, foam rubber, polyurethane foam, or polyether. The second portion may define more than one channel that provides a fold about which the first portion rotates. In a specific embodiment, the second portion defines two sets of two channels, wherein the channels are approximately perpendicularly arranged, with each set of channels approximately parallel to, and mirrored by, the other set of channels, as shown in FIGS. 1-3. However, it is understood that other channel configurations may be implemented without deviating from the spirit and scope of the present invention. The second portion may further define a plurality of apertures for ventilating the second portion. The first portion may have a thickness of at least approximately 3 inches, whereas the second portion may have a thickness of between approximately 1 and 3 inches. An exemplary transition of the second portion is depicted in FIG. 3.

It is believed that the present invention and many of its attendant advantages will be understood by the foregoing description, and it will be apparent that various changes may be made in the form, construction and arrangement of the components thereof without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention or without sacrificing all of its material advantages. The form herein before described being merely an explanatory embodiment thereof, it is the intention of the following claims to encompass and include such changes.





 
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