Title:
Multi-functional linear utility station
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A linear arrangement comprising a pole having at least one adjustable arm for storing and using devices in a utility space, such as workspaces for home entertainment, accessory storage, for use by automotive mechanics, artists, seamstresses, beauticians, aestheticians, doctors, dentists, manicurists, cosmetologists, jewelers, musicians, or anyone requiring easy access to a multiplicity of work areas and equipment is provided. The present invention could also be used for display purposes in a retail setting, or for storage. It could also be used as a host stand in a restaurant, or in a kitchen for holding a multiplicity of appliances.



Inventors:
Terry, Matthew (Denver, CO, US)
Application Number:
11/820076
Publication Date:
12/18/2008
Filing Date:
06/18/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F5/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MCKINNON, TERRELL L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ruth Eure (Boulder, CO, US)
Claims:
1. A utility station pole assembly, said pole having a first end and a second end for management of components comprising; an elongate pole with a base structure at the first end for engagement with a supporting surface and at least one accessory arm located on the pole; attachment means to connect the accessory arm at the desired location along the pole; and at least one component attached to said accessory arm for use as part of a utility station system.

2. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 1 further comprising stabilization means for pole stabilization incorporated in the base structure.

3. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 1, for management of components comprising; an elongate pole with a ceiling flange structure at the pole's upper end for engagement with the ceiling and at least one accessory arm located on the pole; attachment means to connect the accessory arm at the desired location along the pole and at least one component attached to said accessory arm for use as part of a utility station system.

4. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 1 wherein the supporting surface is the floor and the pole is vertical.

5. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 1 further comprising telescoping means to contract and extend the length of the pole.

6. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 4 further comprising a ceiling flange structure located at the second end.

7. A utility station pole assembly to fit into a span, wherein the span comprises a first surface and a second surface and space there between, wherein the pole is split into a first section having a first end and a second end and having a first circumference and a second section, having a first end and a second end and having a second circumference, wherein the second section is hollow with a longitudinal spring connecting the second end of the first section and first end of the second section, and the first circumference of the first section is smaller than the second circumference of the second section so the first section rides inside the second section so as to create an overall pole length that is greater than the span, and wherein the longitudinal spring fits inside the second section and the longitudinal spring can be compressed so as to reduce the overall length of the pole to fit into a span and then released to form a friction fit of the first end of the first section against the first surface of the span and the second end of the second section against the second surface of the span.

8. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 7 wherein a flange structure includes a plate, said plate is rigidly attached to the first section of the pole in an approximate perpendicular position to the pole and comprises mechanical means to rigidly attach said plate to one surface of the span for pole stabilization.

9. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 6 wherein the ceiling flange structure retains at least one light fixture for utility station illumination.

10. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 9 wherein the flange structure retains at least one light switch to switch the light fixture on and off.

11. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 1 further comprising a at least one wall bracket mechanism consisting of a collar that is slidably attached to the pole, a bracket connected to said collar that projects radially from the pole and a plate connected to said bracket for mechanical attachment to a wall for pole stabilization.

12. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 10 wherein said bracket is hingedly attached to said collar.

13. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 10 wherein said bracket is rotatably attached to said collar.

14. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 10 wherein said bracket is rotatably attached to said plate.

15. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 1 wherein at least one accessory arm has a series of ball and socket joints located along the accessory arm for further accessory positioning.

16. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 1 further comprising at least one wiring clamp located on the pole for accessory wiring and communication cable management along the pole.

17. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 1 further comprising at least one wiring clamp located on at least one of the accessory arms for wiring and communication cable management from the accessory.

18. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 1 further comprising at least one electrically connected socket located on the pole for connection to an attached accessory.

19. A utility station pole assembly as in claim 17 wherein at least ones electrically connected socket is electrically connected to a centrally located power strip on the pole at a desired location.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

This invention relates to the field of utility spaces. Specifically this invention relates to a linear arrangement for storing and using devices in a utility station, such as workspaces for home entertainment, accessory storage, for use by automotive mechanics, artists, seamstresses, beauticians, aestheticians, or anyone requiring easy access to a multiplicity of work areas and equipment. It is also useful for storage or display of a variety of components. The linear utility station of the present invention can be utilized in any orientation such as vertical, horizontal or any angle in between vertical and horizontal, according to the needs of the user.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The utility or work station, or desk as it was previously known, is an integral part of most people's homes. Over the years, devices such as computers and all their accessories and peripherals have added considerable requirements to the desk from a simple table to an accessory storage system, a.k.a. utility station. Depending on how many accessories you wish to have, these utility stations can be considerable in size. In addition, there are ergonomic concerns due to the time spent at these utility stations, using keyboards and sitting in chairs for longer periods of time. Therefore, inventors have created several solutions to make the utility stations more adjustable to the specific user, while keeping the utility station footprint or area required as small as possible.

Bollman U.S. Pat. No. 4,705,327 discloses a multi adjustable multi functional work station system. This system appears to use a plurality of work surfaces and therefore has a considerable footprint.

Schwartz U.S. Pat. No. 4,987,835 discloses an automatic vertically adjustable work surface. This system appears to attach a work surface to a wall and does not consider the other components to a modern utility station such as a computer or monitor.

Maguire U.S. Pat. No. 5,416,666 shows an ergonomic operator utility station having a monitor with wing unit. This system appears to have a considerable footprint and does not appear to be adaptable to any new accessory that the user may wish to add at a later date.

Richard U.S. Pat. No. 5,522,323 shows an ergonomic computer utility station that appears to use a desk configuration and therefore a considerable footprint. In addition, it appears to lack adaptability to any new accessory or component that may come in the future.

Sweere U.S. Pat. No. 6,189,849 discloses a lift system for a monitor and keyboard that attaches to the wall. This is specifically for the lift system and does not consider other utility station components.

US patent publication to Johnson, Publication number 2006/0054751 includes a vertically adjustable mobile computer utility station that appears to be a cart system to carry and store a computer, monitor and keyboard. It does not consider any other accessories. The keyboard and monitor may also not be adjustable relative to each other.

Weener U.S. Pat. No. 5,913,783 discloses a portable multipurpose floor ceiling pole for an office. This pole appears to be a telescopic support pole for offices with clamps or brackets for office furniture.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides improvements over these previous designs by providing a more comprehensive utility station, capable of managing many electronic components or accessories, using minimal space and with maximum ergonomic potential. Electronic components are defined as modern technology elements such as computer components, including monitors, key boards, scanners, fax machines, “x-box” consoles, “m-box” consoles, “Ipod” or Mp3 accessories as well as speakers, lamps and work space, for example.

Specifically, this invention relates to a linear arrangement for storing and using devices in a utility space, such as workspaces for home entertainment, accessory storage, for use by automotive mechanics, artists, seamstresses, beauticians, aestheticians, doctors, dentists, manicurists, cosmetologists, jewelers, musicians, or anyone requiring easy access to a multiplicity of work areas and equipment. The present invention could also be used for display purposes in a retail setting, or for storage. It could also be used as a host stand in a restaurant, or in a kitchen for holding a multiplicity of appliances.

In many home, commercial and office environments, abundant space is not always available, especially for the ever growing number of components and accessories that can be part of a utility station, such as speakers, camera printers and multiple monitors. This invention provides a method of managing these components at positions convenient to the user while minimizing the amount of space required. The present invention facilitates the use of a single work station by multiple users, such as shift workers. The instant invention is also useful in dorm rooms or loft homes, which have a minimum of space.

In addition to spatial constraints, wiring for the growing number of components is also a consideration. Many utility stations require at least one, and often more than one power strip to accommodate all of the components. The present invention provides a means for accommodating a multiplicity of wiring and communications cables together with an integrated electrical power strip to conveniently, safely and neatly provide access for all components. Such wiring for components may include, for example an Ethernet jack, phone jack, or other network and connectivity components, and electrification for lighting or other components.

This utility station is intended to be easily moved or repositioned when necessary. The arms of the invention can then be folded and the unit moved to a corner when not in use, providing the user with more space when required.

The individual accessories and components may be repositioned to the user's benefit using a variety of hinges and joints. The joints may be of a variety of configurations including elbow joints and block joints, for example. The joints may be locking joints. Any joints for permitting the movement and stabilization of the various platforms of the work station are envisioned. The present invention provides improved ergonomics over many existing utility stations.

The accessories or components could easily be repositioned when not in use. This invention could therefore take up less space when not in use.

Furniture such as lap tables, shelving or filing cabinets could be attached to this utility station also if necessary to add utility.

Any number of arms could be added to the utility station pole to add utility and maximize space efficiency.

The utility station of the present invention provides many advantages over the existing utility station designs. It is flexible and able to adapt to the changing technology world. It takes up minimal space and will accommodate a wide range of ergonomic requirements and can be repositioned for multiple users.

An alternative embodiment comprises hydraulic means for repositioning the various arms of the invention.

An alternative embodiment comprises a utility station having a multiple leg or support base such as a tripod base fixture.

An alternative embodiment comprises a work station having a base fixture and the top of the pole comprises a torchiere light fixture for accommodating an upward directed light bulb.

An alternative embodiment comprises a utility station which has a mount from the ceiling.

An alternative embodiment comprises an arm for holding an adjustable magnifying glass. This is useful for jewelers, anglers and other hobbyists.

An alternative embodiment comprises a control panel to control the position of the arms electronically and to control the lighting.

One embodiment of the invention comprises a table top having a hole in the middle to accommodate the vertical pole, for use by a multiplicity of users simultaneously with or without seating for these users situated on a multiplicity of arms.

An alternative embodiment of the present invention can have at least one end of the pole fastened to a wall, and the pole can be oriented in a horizontal position.

An additional alternative embodiment can have the pole in a horizontal orientation overhead of the user with the arms holding the components hanging down to a suitable position for the user.

The components of the present invention can be made from a variety of materials including, but not limited to: wood, aluminum, graphite, plastic, alloys, other metals and thermoplastic materials and composite materials, for example.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of the linear utility station of the present invention in a vertical orientation.

FIG. 2a shows an embodiment of the present invention illustrating both a base and a ceiling fixture.

FIG. 2b shows an embodiment of the present invention illustrating a base fixture.

FIG. 2c shows an embodiment of the present invention illustrating a ceiling fixture.

FIG. 3a shows one embodiment of the pole base's configuration.

FIG. 3b shows an alternative embodiment of the pole base's configuration.

FIG. 4a shows an embodiment of a base cross section and floor fixture mechanism.

FIG. 4b shows an alternative embodiment of a base cross section and floor fixture mechanism.

FIG. 4c shows an alternative embodiment of a base cross section and floor fixture mechanism.

FIG. 4d shows an alternative embodiment of a base cross section and floor fixture mechanism which is bolted to the floor.

FIG. 4e shows an alternative embodiment of a base cross section and floor fixture mechanism which is not bolted to the floor.

FIG. 5 shows an embodiment of a ceiling fixture cross section.

FIG. 6a shows an embodiment of a wall fixture mechanism.

FIG. 6b shows an embodiment of the pole height adjustment mechanism.

FIG. 6c shows an additional embodiment of the pole height adjustment mechanism.

FIG. 7 shows a side view of the accessory attachment means.

FIG. 8a shows an embodiment of the arm hinge means.

FIG. 8b shows a top view of an embodiment of the accessory collar positioning means.

FIG. 9a shows an additional embodiment of an accessory collar positioning mechanism.

FIG. 9b shows a top view of the additional embodiment of an accessory collar positioning mechanism.

FIG. 10 shows an arm positioning mechanism using a ball and socket.

FIG. 11a shows a side view of an accessory arm elbow rotation mechanism.

FIG. 11b shows a top view of an accessory arm elbow rotation mechanism.

FIG. 12 shows a means for accommodating the wiring and electrical connections.

FIG. 13 shows an embodiment of a block joint.

FIG. 14 shows an embodiment of how the arms connect to the pole.

FIG. 15 shows an embodiment of how the arms move vertically along the pole.

FIG. 16 shows an alternative embodiment of how the arms connect to the pole.

FIG. 17 shows an alternative embodiment shown an alternative base and additional retention system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The term “work station” and “utility station” are to be construed as meaning the same thing. Also, even though most of the following description is directed toward a vertical utility station, it is to be understood that other orientations, such as horizontal, or any other angle is also encompassed by the present invention.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the invention of the present invention showing the vertical utility station and some possible components.

FIGS. 2a and 2b show two possible embodiments of the vertical workspace support pole 1. Pole 1 consists of a tube that may be circular in cross section. The cross-section of pole 1 may also be other shapes if necessary for structural requirements or aesthetics, such as rectangular, square, triangular, oval, elliptical or other shape. The pole 1 is made from a significantly structurally supportive material, such as steel or aluminum, for example, so as to support the weight of the components or accessories that will be attached to pole 1. Pole 1 may be a solid tube or hollow. In one preferred embodiment, the pole 1 is at least partially hollow so as to accommodate wiring connections including but not limited to electrical power, USB, cable, speaker wire or internet connections, for example.

In FIG. 2a, pole 1 spans between the floor 2 and the ceiling 3. The ceiling 3 may be a drop ceiling or fixed ceiling. At the bottom of the pole 1 there is a pole base 4. At the top of the pole 1, there is a ceiling flange 6. This ceiling flange 6 provides pole stabilization using pressure against the ceiling 3 or mechanical attachment means to the ceiling 3.

FIG. 2b shows the pole 1 spanning from the floor to some desired height, but does not necessarily touch the ceiling 3. At the bottom of the pole 1 there is a pole base 4. Base 4 can be equipped with wheels (not shown) for ease of relocation. The wheels can be locking wheels to provide stability when the pole is in its new location.

FIG. 3a shows a top view of an embodiment for the pole base 4. In FIG. 3a, the perimeter 7 is large enough to stabilize the pole when components are added to the utility station. The pole base 4 may be filled with a material to help stabilization such as water or sand. There may be a wiring connection 9 that electrically connects the accessories on the pole 1 to a wall socket. This wiring connection could include but is not limited to a USB connection, electrical connection and speaker wiring.

FIG. 3b shows a top view of another embodiment for the pole base 4. The base 4 of this embodiment consists of a plurality of stabilizing, extendable and contractible legs 10. These legs 10 are independently telescopic via mechanical means such as screw or sliding means. A positioning collar 11 may also be used to fix the legs 10 in position. This collar 11 can be loosened by twisting the collar 11 in one direction to allow the leg 10 to extend or contract. By twisting the collar 11 in the opposite direction to tighten the collar 11, the leg 10 may be fixed in the desired position. By varying each leg length the utility station stability can be optimized for varying weights and sizes of accessory.

FIG. 4a shows a cross section of one embodiment of a base comprising a leaf spring 16 which is anchored to base plate 13 inside the base cover 12. Threaded tightening bolt 37 resides in the center of pole 1 and the weight of the pole impinges on the leaf spring. The pole is stabilized by tightening bolt 37 and secured in place with nut 38.

FIG. 4b shows a cross section of an alternative embodiment of a base comprising pole 1 terminating in a base steel foot 15 which is perpendicular to the pole 1. The base steel foot 15 is bolted into floor 2 by two or more base bolts 14.

FIG. 4c shows a cross section of another alternative embodiment of a base comprising a torsion spring 66 which travels along spring shaft 67 which is situated inside pole 1, and spring shaft 67 is perpendicular to and attached to base steel foot 15.

FIG. 4d shows a cross section of a base connection that rigidly connects and stabilizes the utility station to the floor 2. The pole 1 is connected to a perpendicular steel foot 15 using mechanical means such as welding, bracketing, bolts or screws, for example. The steel plate 15 can then be bolted to the floor 2 using bolts or screws 14. A slip cover 12 is placed over the foot 15 to cover the area to protect the user and for aesthetics.

FIG. 5 shows a cross section of a possible embodiment for a ceiling flange 6. Similar to the base 4, the pole 1 is connected to a perpendicular steel foot 17 using mechanical means such as welding, bracketing, bolts or screws, for example. The steel plate 17 is then bolted to the ceiling 3 using bolts or screws 18. A slip cover 21 is placed over the foot 17 to cover the area to protect the user and for aesthetics. The ceiling cover 21 may include lighting 20 for utility station lighting. The ceiling cover 21 may also include a ceiling flange lighting switch 22 positioned somewhere on the ceiling flange cover 21 in a position that is convenient to the user.

FIG. 6a shows a pole 1 which is attached to a wall 26. In this embodiment pole 1 is split into two poles, the upper pole 31 and lower pole 30. The desired height can be achieved using the pole tightening collar 29. The tightening collar 29 can be loosened by twisting the collar 29 in one direction and then sliding the upper pole 31 and lower pole 30 relative to each other to the desired overall height. Then the tightening collar 29 can be twisted in the opposite direction to tighten the collar 29 and keep the pole 1 at the desired height. FIG. 6a also shows a wall bracket stabilizing mechanism. This includes a wall bracket collar 23 that may be rigidly attached to the pole 1 or moveable up and down the pole 1. The wall bracket collar 23 is attached to a wall bracket arm 24. This wall bracket arm 24 may be hinged or rotatably attached to the wall bracket collar 23 if necessary, for correct positioning on the wall 26. The wall bracket arm 24 connects the wall bracket collar 23 to a wall bracket 25. The wall bracket 25 may be connected to the wall 26 using mechanical means such as screws or bolts 28, for example.

FIG. 6b shows an alternative embodiment for telescoping a utility station and maintaining the utility station at the desired height for a vertical pole work station. Pole 1 is split into two poles, the upper pole 31 and lower pole 30. The upper pole 31 comprises screw threads 32 on the pole's external surface for a segment that interfaces with interconnecting threads 33 on the inside surface of lower pole 30. By turning the upper pole 31 relative to the lower pole 30 the overall height will extend or contract.

FIG. 6c shows a third alternative embodiment to extend or contract the utility station to interface with a ceiling 6 and floor 2. Pole 1 is split into two poles, the upper pole 31 and lower pole 30. The upper pole 31 and lower pole 32 are adjusted to the ceiling 3 height using a torsion spring. In the relaxed position, the overall height of the utility station is at least the distance from ceiling 3 to floor 2. During assembly, the user would compress the spring 34 to the ceiling 3 to floor 2 span and the utility station will then stay in position by means of tension on the spring. A spring cover 34 is used to keep the spring in line with the upper pole 31 and lower pole 32. This mechanism is easily adjustable to accommodate many ceiling 3 to floor 2 spans.

FIG. 7 shows the pole 1 with accessory collars 40 and arms 41 attached. These accessory collars 40 may be slidably attached to the pole 1, so that they can slide up and down the pole 1 and then be fixed in place using mechanical means, when the accessory height is where the user wishes. Attached to the accessory collar 40 is an accessory arm 41 that connects the accessory to the accessory collar 40. This arm 41 may be hingedly or rotatably attached to the collar 40 for more precise accessory positioning. This arm 41 may have an accessory arm elbow 42, which will add further adjustability to the accessory positioning.

FIG. 8a shows an embodiment for the accessory collar 40 attachment and hinge. The height of accessory collar 40 may be positioned by sliding the collar 40 up or down the pole 1, while the bolts or screws 45 are loosened. On the pole 1 there are a series of holes or slots 44. Once the accessory arm 41 is positioned at the desired height, the screws or bolts 45 are inserted into the holes or slots 44. The hinge system consists of a simple bearing 46 that connects the arm 41 to the collar 40. An alternative to holes or slots 44 are vertical grooves in the surface of pole 1 to permit more options for adjustability in the height of the accessory arm.

FIG. 8b shows a top view of an alternative embodiment for an accessory collar 40 attachment mechanism. It includes a pole cavity 54 and accessory collar positioning bolt 51. The cavity 54 is a shape that will wrap around the utility station pole 1 and slide up and down easily. By loosening this bolt 51 the collar 40 can slide up or down to the desired height and then the bolt 51 can be tightened to keep the collar in the desired location.

FIG. 9a shows a side view of another embodiment of an accessory arm positioning mechanism. There is at least one accessory arm positioning slot 48 on the utility station pole 1. This embodiment uses an accessory bracket 58 that has a key 60, shown in FIG. 9b. The key 60 fits into the slot 48 and can slide up and down the pole 1. When the desired position has been located, bolts or screws 50 can be inserted into accessory arm bracket holes or slots 55 in the utility station pole 1.

FIG. 9b shows a top view of the embodiment shown in side view of FIG. 9a. Key 60 protrudes from the end of accessory arm 41 and fits into slot 48.

FIG. 10 shows an embodiment for a rotating mechanism to position the accessory arm 41. Once the collar 40 or bracket 58 is in the desired location, the arm 41 can be placed in many positions using a ball 63 and socket joint 64. The ball 63 can rotate and be positioned in many positions while the socket screw 62 is loosened. Once the arm is in position by rotating the ball 63 in the socket 64, the ball and socket screw(s) 62 can then be tightened, thus locking the accessory arm into place.

FIG. 11a shows a side view of an embodiment for the mechanism for the accessory arm elbow 42. The elbow's purpose is to add extra adjustability of accessory positioning and the elbow connects the accessory arm 41 with a lower arm 76. The connection consists of a series of at least one ball and socket joint located in a ball clamp 72. This ball clamp 72 can be loosened and tightened using a ball clamp locking pin 74 and ball clamping locking nut 73. Rigidly attached to the accessory arm 41 is an accessory arm ball joint 70. Rigidly attached to the lower arm is a lower arm ball joint 75. When the ball clamp 72 is loosened both the accessory arm ball joint and lower arm ball joint are free to rotate in many directions, adding increased positioning precision. Once the accessory is in the correct position, the ball clamp 72 can be tightened and the accessory will remain in the desired location.

FIG. 11b is a top view of the elbow mechanism. There may be at least one ball lock set 77 in the ball clamp 72. This ball lock set 77 will provide a guide for the ball to stay in the same location during rotation and not fall out of the clamp 72.

FIG. 12 shows a possible embodiment of accommodating various wiring connections in the utility station. This figure shows the utility station pole 1 with an accessory collar 40 attached with an accessory arm 41. Along the arm 41, there may be wire clamps 80 that safely keep speaker wires, or electricity cables in place along the arm 41. In addition, there may be a plurality of electrical sockets or USB sockets 82 integrated into the pole 1 wall. This would allow the accessory wiring to travel along the arms 41 and 76 and then possibly plug into the pole sockets. There may be internal wiring 84, inside the pole that connects the sockets to a central wiring system at the base of the pole.

FIG. 13 shows an embodiment of a block joint for mobility of positioning of the arm. The joint shown shows a two-way block joint having a range of motion in a horizontal plane in addition to having a range of motion in a vertical plane.

FIG. 14a shows an embodiment of how the arms connect to the pole 1 and move in the running tracks comprised of pole grooves which traverse the length of the pole. This figure shows accessory arm bracket 56 attached to the pole 1 by means of accessory arm bracket key 60 which travels in pole groove 65.

FIG. 14b shows a cross section of the pole showing the arm bracket 56 in the pole groove 65.

FIG. 15 shows an embodiment of how the arms move vertically along the pole.

FIG. 16 shows an alternative embodiment of how the arms connect to the pole.

FIG. 17 shows an alternative embodiment shown an alternative non-bolted base and additional retention system.

Although this invention has been described with respect to specific embodiments, it is not intended to be limited thereto and various modifications which will become apparent to the person of ordinary skill in the art are intended to fall within the spirit and scope of the invention as described herein taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings and the appended claims.