Title:
Items With Stretchable Members And/Or Magnetic Action
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A display device having a plurality of segments connected with one or more stretchable members is described. The device is may be configured with nesting segments and to have mechanically generated movement.



Inventors:
Elliott, Todd S. (Portland, OR, US)
Hayhurst, William F. (Aurora, OR, US)
Maffie, Zack (Lake Oswego, OR, US)
Elliott, Shawna (Portland, OR, US)
Wright, Randy (Clackamas, OR, US)
Application Number:
12/020218
Publication Date:
07/31/2008
Filing Date:
01/25/2008
Assignee:
ELLIHAY CORP. (Portland, OR, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/428
International Classes:
A63H33/00
View Patent Images:
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20070190893Water-discoloring drawing toy and water-discoloring drawing toy set including the sameAugust, 2007Nakashima
20090197504Doll with communication functionAugust, 2009Hsu
20050112987Toy car motor attachmentMay, 2005Chan et al.
20080200092MAGNETIC ITEM AND TOY COMPRISING THE SAMEAugust, 2008Chung
20080119109System and Method for Character Based Power SourceMay, 2008Stetter
20020009947Squeezing deformable toy structureJanuary, 2002Liao
20070042670Toy animal with wettable tongueFebruary, 2007Negrin



Primary Examiner:
BALDORI, JOSEPH B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HANCOCK HUGHEY LLP (SISTERS, OR, US)
Claims:
1. An attachment device comprising: a first segment; a second segment; a stretchable member connected between the first and second segments to enable the connected segments to be stretched apart; and attachment means for attaching the segments to a surface while the segments are stretched apart.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein the first and second segments are configured to nest together when not stretched apart.

3. The device of claim 2 including a tab formed on the first segment and a recess formed in the second segment, the recess being sized for receiving the tab thereby to facilitate nesting of the first and second segments.

4. The device of claim 1 wherein the stretchable member is resilient.

5. The device of claim 1 wherein the first and second segments may be moved together so that the stretchable member returns to a normal position, and wherein the stretchable member is coiled in the normal position and stretched by uncoiling from the coiled position to an extended position when the segments are stretched apart.

6. The device of claim 1 wherein the stretchable member includes on at least one end a loop for attaching the stretchable member to the first segment.

7. The device of claim 1 further comprising capture means for capturing in the first segment an end of the stretchable member.

8. The device of claim 7 wherein the capture means includes a cavity formed in the first segment.

9. The device of claim 7 wherein the cavity is sized to be substantially smaller than the captured end of the stretchable member, the cavity having a wall formed with protrusions.

10. The device of claim 2 wherein the second segment includes an opening for receiving the first segment when the first and second segments are not stretched apart.

11. The device of claim 1 further comprising motion means mounted to at least the first segment for enabling motion of the first segment along the surface to which it is attached.

12. The device of claim 11 wherein the motion means comprises a rolling member mounted to the first segment.

13. The device of claim 12 further comprising driving means for rotating the rolling member.

14. The device of claim 1 wherein the attachment means includes a magnet mounted to at least the first segment.

15. The device of claim 1 wherein the attachment means includes a resilient peg member sized to fit within a hole made in the surface.

16. A method of making an attachment device comprising the steps of: connecting together with a stretchable member first and second segments in a manner such that the segments may be stretched apart; mounting to each of the first and second segments a mechanism for attaching the segments to a surface while stretched apart; and configuring the segments to nest together when the segments are not stretched apart.

17. The method of claim 16 including the step of mounting a roller member to the first segment.

18. The method of claim 17 including the step of mounting to the first segment a motor mechanism for rolling the roller member.

19. The method of claim 16 including the step of configuring the first and second segments so that one segment fits inside of the other when the segments are not stretched apart.

20. The method of claim 16 including the step of housing part of the stretchable member within a body member so that ends of the stretchable member extend from the body member at separate locations on the body member.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Magnets and other devices have been used to attach objects to vertical surfaces to hold objects or for entertainment. Stretchable material connecting two objects can also be used for utility or entertainment.

SUMMARY

The invention describes in one embodiment a method and assembly of a novel display device with a plurality of segments that are connected with one or more stretchable members. The device may be attached to a surface.

Another preferred embodiment describes a device that may be moved while attached to the surface.

Another preferred embodiment describes a motor driven vehicle or device capable of moving on a non-horizontal surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1 and 2 are top plan views of two devices held together by elastic material.

FIGS. 3 and 4 are respective top and side views of one method of attaching one end of stretchable material to an object.

FIG. 5 is a side view of another method of attaching an end of stretchable material to an object.

FIG. 6 is a side view of another method of attaching an end of stretchable material to an object.

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of one method of attaching to a surface an object having a connected stretchable member.

FIGS. 8-10 are side views of methods of attaching an object to a surface.

FIGS. 11 and 12 are top plan views of a device embodying the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a top plan view of another object formed in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 14 and 15 are top plan views of devices formed in accordance with this invention and having stretched-apart components.

FIGS. 16 and 17 are top plan views of another device embodying the present invention.

FIG. 18 is sectional view taken along line 18-18 of FIG. 19 and depicting in detail a mechanism for facilitating motion in an object formed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 19 is a top plan view of an object for which motion is provided.

FIG. 20 is sectional view taken along line 20-20 of FIG. 21 and depicting in detail another mechanism for facilitating motion in an object formed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 21 is a top plan view of another object for which motion is provided.

FIG. 22 is sectional view taken along line 22-22 of FIG. 23 and depicting in detail another mechanism for facilitating motion in an object formed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 23 is a top plan view of another object for which motion is provided.

FIG. 24 is side view of another device embodying the present invention.

FIG. 25 is side view of another device embodying the present invention.

FIG. 26 is a diagram of a mechanism for facilitating motion in a device formed in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

With reference to FIGS. 1-16 there is described next a first, preferred embodiment of a novel magnetic display device assembled from a plurality of segments that are connected with one or more stretchable members.

FIGS. 1 and 2 present a device made of two discrete segments 2, 4, each segment including attachment rods 8 and 10, respectively. The rods are joined with stretchable member 6. A device having two segments is described and illustrated here for simplicity, although it is contemplated that any number of segments could be connected in a manner described below.

The segments 2, 4 are made of any rigid material including, but not limited to, plastic or metal, to form an enclosure or housing with sufficient material strength to have the attachment rods 8 and 10 securely mounted thereto. The segment material is also sufficiently strong for anchoring stretchable member 6 when that member is placed under tensile stress. Stretchable member 6 can be made of any stretchable (that is, plastically deformable) material including, but not limited to, fabric-coated elastic, rubber, or elastic polymer.

In the preferred embodiment, stretchable member 6 is an elongated member made from material that is, in addition to being deformable, resilient in nature, thus tending to lengthen under tensile force and shorten when that force is removed. The stretchable material making up member 6 is preferably formed from a poly copolymer (styrene-ethylene-ethylene-propylene-styrene) mixed, between two percent and twenty-five percent by weight, with plasticizing oil. The stretched form of the member 6 is useful in that a wide variety of objects may be hung therefrom; items such as, pens, paper clips, cell phones, and keys.

FIGS. 3-6 present several methods of attaching the stretchable member 6 to segments 2 and 4. One preferred method of attaching stretchable member 6 to segments 2 and 4 is presented in FIGS. 3 and 4, which respectively illustrate a top and side view of segment 2 as well as a portion of stretchable member 6. Also shown in those figures is an attachment rod 8 and attachment loop 12. The attachment loop 12 defines one end of the stretchable member 6. The segment 2 is formed from two joined parts 2A and 2B (FIG. 4). Attachment loop 12 is placed around attachment rod 8, which rod extends from one part 12A of segment 2 before the second part 12B of the segment is joined to the first, thereby capturing attachment loop 12 around attachment rod 8.

FIG. 5 is a side view of an alternative embodiment of segment 2, which presents an alternative method of securing stretchable member 6 to segment 2. In this embodiment, the stretchable member 6 extends through an opening 14 in segment 2. The end 15 of the member 6 is bulbous or enlarged and substantially larger than opening 14. The enlargement 15 may be formed to be sufficiently compressible to pass through the opening 14 and thereafter expand to fill a correspondingly sized cavity 17. Alternatively, the segment 2, including the cavity 17 and opening 14, is formed of two parts that are joined together (FIG. 5) with the enlargement 15 inside of the cavity 17, thereby capturing the former within the latter.

FIG. 6, a side view of segment 2, presents yet another alternative method of securing an end of stretchable member 6 to segment 2. In this embodiment, the end of the stretchable member 6 is captured within a cavity 19 in segment 2. The cavity is sized to be smaller than the end of the member 6, thereby holding the member in place by a compression fit or crimping action. The cavity wall may be smooth or, preferably, (as shown in FIG. 6) formed with protrusions in the form of ridges, barbs or teeth 16 arranged to engage the member 6 in a manner that resists the movement of the end of the member 8 out of the cavity.

The forgoing illustrates only a subset of methods of securing a stretchable member 6 to a segment 2. Other methods include, but are not limited to, the use of adhesive or hooks, and molding together the segment and end of the stretchable member 6.

FIGS. 7-9 present a subset of methods of attaching segment 2 (having connected stretchable member 6) to a variety of surfaces. FIG. 7 presents a method for attaching segment 2 to any surface comprising a permanent magnet, electromagnet, or ferromagnetic material. This embodiment includes, in lieu of an attachment rod (such as shown at 8 and 10 in FIG. 1), an attachment tube 13 that extends through the attachment loop 12 formed in the end of the stretchable member. Attachment tube 13 is formed with a central void to contain a magnet 20. The magnet, therefore, enables the attachment of segment 2 (having connected stretchable member 6) to a variety of magnetic, electromagnetic or ferromagnetic surfaces. As an alternative, the attachment tube 13 could be configured as a solid, rod-like member either made from magnetic material, or the segment may be otherwise constructed for carrying magnetic material within or on the surface of segment 2 to enable attachment to any other permanent magnet, electromagnet, or ferromagnetic surface.

FIG. 8 presents a method to attach segment 2 to, for example, a line, top of a window, or a ledge. In this regard, hook 22, as depicted as an inverted “J” in FIG. 8, is attached to segment 2 and can be utilized to hang segment 2 from the line, ledge etc. Two or more hooks could be attached for linking two or more segments (or devices) together. Hook 22 could also be shaped in a manner similar to an inverted “L” to have a leg extending outwardly to engage a ledge or provide sufficient surface area to place a weight, tape, Velcro or other fastener upon the hook to hold it in place.

FIG. 9 illustrates a method to attach segment 2 to the surface of a smooth object such as a mirror, window or wall tile. Suction cup 24 is attached to segment 2. When pressed against a smooth surface, suction cup 24 provides sufficient holding strength to hold segment 2 to the surface.

FIG. 10 presents a method to attach segment 2 to a standard hole commonly employed in adjustable book shelves and cabinets. A V-shaped lever 28 is formed from resilient material and is bent (as shown by the arrow in FIG. 10) to allow the lever to fit into the hole with a leading or peg end 26. When lever 28 is released, the resilient nature of the lever material provides additional holding strength within the hole. It is noted that lever 28 is optional, and peg end 26 would provide some holding strength with a smooth cylindrical surface or a barbed surface. The segment 2 to which the lever 28 is attached may be formed into a useful shape, such as one or more hooks, a basket, or extendable members for drawers, thereby to enhance the utility of unused cabinet mounting holes by holding keys, office supplies or other items. A peg 26 with or without lever 28 could contain any permanent magnet, electromagnet, or ferromagnetic surface for attachment in a manner as describe above in connection with magnet 20 (FIG. 7).

FIGS. 11-12 present another preferred embodiment of the invention. FIG. 11 depicts an attachment device in the form of a human-like figure with segments shaped to resemble a head 30, hands 32, 34, body 40, and feet 36, 38. The device includes a stretchable internal structure 42 generally contained within the body segment 40. The extremities (head 30, hands 32 and 34, feet 36 and 38), can be attached to the structure 42 (hence to the body 40) utilizing the same methods (rods and attachment loops etc) as described above to attach segments 2 and 4 to stretchable member 6 as well as to a variety of surfaces as previously described. Alternatively, as shown the FIGS. 11 and 12, stretchable internal structure 42 can be made of a single piece inside body 40, thereby eliminating the need to attach individual stretchable members holding each of the extremities. Also, any number of joints on the figure could be replaced by connection with stretchable internal structure 42. For example, legs could be formed with stretchable knee joints, or hands with fingers connected with stretchable joints so that the fingers can move individually. The figure could also be as simple two segments and one stretchable joint, such as only the head connected to a body to stretch from the body. Alternatively, a normally singular body part, such as the head, could be made in two parts that could be stretched apart.

Preferably, each segment or body part that is designed to be stretched away from the body contains a method of attachment to another surface and provides enough attachment force to keep the segment static, such attachment methods are described above in connection with FIGS. 7-11. When two segments are not stretched apart they are, preferably, adjacent to one another or in abutting contact with one another.

As noted above, each of the extremities (hands, feet, etc.) carry mechanisms such as magnets that permit each individual extremity to be attached to as surface while stretched from the body 40. FIG. 12 also illustrates a way of configuring the device to enable lifting of all extremities with one motion, while the extremities are in the adjacent to the body (that is, with member 42 not stretched) as shown in FIG. 11. To this end, a rigid tab or flange 44, 48, 50, 52 is located on each of the extremities; namely the hands 32, 34 and feet 36, 38. A rigid tab 54 is also part of the body 40 at what would be the neck of the figure. Each of the tabs fits snugly inside matching recesses formed in the body 40 and head 30 when the member 42 is not stretched (FIG. 11). Accordingly, with the tabs 44, 48, 50, 52, 54 inserted within their respective recesses in the figure, nesting of parts occurs so that the body 40 can be handled as a unitary item. As a result, lifting the body 40 will remove from the surface to which they are attached all of the extremities (head 30, hands 32 and 34, body 40, feet 36 and 38) in one motion. Without tabs 44, 48, 50, 52, 54 nesting in their respective recesses, each extremity head 30, hands 32 and 34, body 40, feet 36 and 38 will tend to stay on the surface to which it is attached. It will be appreciated that, as an alternative, each of the tabs could be located on the opposite nesting parts than those illustrated in FIG. 12. For example, tabs may be provided on the body 40, instead of on the extremities, with associated recesses formed in the extremities.

FIG. 13 presents an embodiment where a magnet 56 is mounted in a foot extremity 36 (such as part of the device in FIG. 11) in a position and orientation that will allow the human-like figure to stand on a surface containing any permanent magnet, electromagnet, or ferromagnetic material. Magnet 56 could also be placed in any other extremity, such as the head 30, hands 32 and 32, body 40 to allow the figure to “stand” in a variety of unique orientations.

FIG. 14 presents another embodiment of the invention. The attachment device, in the shape of a flower in FIG. 14, is shown with petals 60, central segment 62, upper stem 66, lower stem 70, and leaves 64. Any number of petals 60 can be attached by stretchable members 68 (the stretchable members 68 being otherwise formed in a manner like the above described stretchable member 6) to central segment 62 by any of the methods described above to attach segment 2 and segment 4 to each other and to a variety of surfaces as also previously described. Upper stem 66 can be made from stretchable or rigid material. Leaves 64 can be attached to lower stem 70 by stretchable or rigid material. Any number of leaves 64 can be attached to the lower stem 70 or the upper stem 66 for different appearances.

FIG. 15 presents another embodiment of the current invention. In this embodiment segments or extremities: hands 84, feet 86, and head 80 are attached to the skeletal stretchable member 82 by any of the methods described above to attach segment 2 and segment 4 to each other and to a variety of surfaces. Ribs 88 are attached to the skeletal stretchable material 82 by any method illustrated in FIGS. 3-6 and the related description. Stretching head 80 away from pelvis 85 will cause the ribs to stretch apart giving the appearance of growth. A skeleton is exemplary of one item that would be enhanced by the stretching effect; a list of other items includes but is not limited to: a ladder, a train, and an accordion.

FIGS. 16 and 17 present another embodiment of the current invention. In this embodiment, segment 90 is held to segment 92 by stretchable member 94 using any of the methods described above to attach segment 2 and segment 4 to each other and a variety of surfaces. When stretchable member 94 is in its contracted state (FIG. 16), segment 90 is completely or partly hidden behind or nested inside of segment 92. When stretchable member 94 is in its extended state (FIG. 17) a portion of segment 90 that was previously hidden is revealed. Additional hidden objects could be attached to stretchable member 94, although not necessarily directly attached to member 90. Hidden objects could also be added to the design of all embodiments described in FIGS. 1-17.

The configuration of the devices presented in FIGS. 1-17 is not limited to those illustrated. Virtually any object could be depicted with stretchable members including, but not limited to animals (bears, monkey, dogs, cats, snakes, etc) and vehicles (trains, cars with suspension, fire truck with ladders and hoses, helicopter with rotors, boat pulling a skier, etc.)

Certain objects could be combined with other objects to create kits of scenes including but not limited to balls with figures to depict actions sports, racecars with finish lines other racetrack objects, or a fisherman in a boat with fish beneath.

FIGS. 18-26 present various mechanisms to add motion to the embodiments described in FIGS. 1-17. For example, FIGS. 18-23 present methods to move individual extremities head 30, hands 32 and 34, body 40, feet 36 and 38, by means of gravity or other external sources. FIGS. 18 and 19 show an axle 102 that secures a rotatable magnetic tube or wheel 100 to hand 32. The tube or wheel 100 permits the attachment of the hand to a suitable surface and by rolling allows motion in one dimension along that surface when the segment is acted on by a force, including gravitational or any mechanical force.

FIGS. 20 and 21 present a cylindrical cavity 106 in which is rotatably mounted a magnetic cylinder or disk 104, inside hand 32. The cylinder or disk 104 is held inside hand 32 because the opening to the cylindrical cavity is smaller than the diameter of cylinder or disk 104. The cylinder or disk 104 attaches the hand to a suitable surface and allows motion in one dimension when it is acted on by a force, including gravitational or any mechanical force.

FIGS. 22 and 23 present a spherical cavity 110 in which is rotatably mounted a magnetic sphere 108 inside hand 32. The sphere 108 is held inside hand 23 because the opening to the spherical cavity is smaller than the diameter of sphere 108. The sphere 108 attaches the hand to a suitable surface and allows motion of the hand when it is acted on by a force, including gravitational or any mechanical force.

All of the objects described with respect to FIGS. 1-17 could be modified to accommodate the magnetic tube or wheel 100, cylinder or disk 104, or sphere 108 just described in one or more of its segments.

FIG. 24 presents a gravitationally driven vehicle 126. In this embodiment, a magnet 120 is located under vehicle 126 and is in the form of a magnetic tube, disk, wheel or cylinder, and holds vehicle 126 to a suitable vertical or non-horizontal surface containing any permanent magnet, electromagnet, or ferromagnetic material. Alternatively magnet 120 could be rectangular and situated to be flush with or protruding from the underside of the vehicle 126 while still providing enough attraction to hold the vehicle to the vertical surface. In yet another orientation one or more of wheels 122 on the vehicle 126 could be magnetic to attach vehicle 126 to a vertical or non-horizontal surface. The vehicle 126 could be configured as any person, animal or other object.

FIG. 25 presents another gravitationally driven motor vehicle 127. In this embodiment, a magnet 128 located under vehicle 127 is a magnetic sphere 128 (although it could be shaped as a tube, wheel, cylinder, or disk 104) and holds vehicle 127 to a vertical or non-horizontal surface containing any permanent magnet, electromagnet, or ferromagnetic material. Alternatively, magnet 128 could be rectangular and situated to be just touching or near the surface but still providing enough attraction to hold the vehicle to a vertical surface. In yet another orientation one or more of wheels 123 on the vehicle 127 could be magnetic to attach vehicle 127 to a vertical or non-horizontal surface. Also, one or more wheels 123 on vehicle 127 can be attached to a motor, such as electric type or spring-wound to provide forward or reverse motion. Such wheels 123 can be rotated by use of another motor, solenoid or cam system to turn vehicle 127. The control mechanisms can be set by the user in advance or operated by remote control.

FIG. 26 presents an alternative method of controlling motion of vehicle 127. Motors 136 and 134 are mounted to the vehicle and rotate drive wheels 130, 132. The drive wheels 130, 132 each engage (as by friction) the magnetic sphere 128 to provide, when driven, motion to magnetic sphere 128. Drive wheels 130 and 132 are oriented at 90 degrees relative to one another so as to provide motion in two directions. It will be appreciated that the driven sphere 128 could be mounted within (and captured therein) a cavity that is formed in any of the above described segments (such as hand 32 in FIGS. 22 and 23. Moreover, the drive mechanisms illustrated in FIGS. 25-26 and described in the accompanying text could be applied to any of the objects illustrated in FIGS. 1-24 as described.

While the foregoing description was made in the context of preferred embodiments, it is contemplated that modifications to those embodiments may be made without departure from the invention as claimed. For example, rather than using stretchable material for member 6, (FIGS. 1, 2) one could substitute a non-stretchable line coiled around a spool that is tensioned by a spring that rewinds when tension is removed from the line. Also, the stretchable material need not be resilient. That is, the material may be deformable by tensile force, but not return to the original shape when that force is removed.