Title:
Automatic Shoe Cover Dispensing Device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An improved covering apparatus for covering shoes, bare feet, or other appendages, wherein the device includes a pedal system that has a low positioned actuator pedal and a mechanism to release a shoe cover when the actuator is engaged by a user.



Inventors:
Li, Jinpeng (US)
Application Number:
11/957135
Publication Date:
06/18/2009
Filing Date:
12/14/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
223/111
International Classes:
A47G25/80
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
KUMAR, RAKESH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LUEDEKA NEELY GROUP, P.C. (KNOXVILLE, TN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An improved apparatus for dispensing covers for at least partially covering an appendage of a user, the apparatus comprising: a. a base structure; b. an actuator pedal system including an actuator pedal, wherein the upper surface of the actuator pedal is no greater than about 4.5 centimeters from the upper surface of the base structure when the apparatus is substantially assembled; c. a plurality of rotatable posts, each post including an upper interactive end and a lower engagement end, wherein the upper interactive end is engagable with at least one appendage cover when the actuator pedal is in an unactuated position; and d. at least one transmission member for transmitting force from the actuator pedal system to the rotatable posts such that when the actuator pedal is actuated by a user, the rotatable posts rotate, thereby causing the upper interactive ends to disengage with the appendage cover in closest proximity to the upper interactive ends.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the upper surface of the actuator pedal is no greater than about 4.0 centimeters from the upper surface of the base structure when the apparatus is substantially assembled.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the upper interactive ends are integrated with the rotatable posts.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the base structure comprises a cover plate.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the upper interactive ends prevent more than one appendage cover from disengaging from the upper interactive ends during a single actuation event.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the actuator pedal system includes a plurality of rotatable gears such that the at least one transmission member transmits force from the rotating gears to the rotatable posts.

7. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the actuator pedal system includes at least one rotating linkage such that the at least one transmission member transmits force from the rotating linkage to the rotatable posts.

8. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the plurality of rotatable posts comprises a first rotatable post and a second rotatable post.

9. The apparatus of claim 8, further comprising: a. a cross beam movable along the first rotatable post and the second rotatable post; b. a cross beam first spring aligned along the first rotatable post; c. a cross beam second spring aligned along the second rotatable post, wherein the cross beam first spring and the cross beam second spring bias the cross beam toward the upper interactive ends.

10. An improved apparatus for dispensing covers for at least partially covering an appendage of a user, the apparatus comprising: a. a base structure; b. an actuator pedal system including an actuator pedal; c. a plurality of rotatable posts, each post integrally including an upper interactive end and a lower engagement end, wherein the upper interactive end is engagable with at least one appendage cover when the actuator pedal is in an unactuated position; and d. at least one transmission member for transmitting force from the actuator pedal system to the rotatable posts such that when the actuator pedal is actuated by a user the rotatable posts rotate, thereby causing the upper interactive ends to disengage with the appendage cover in closest proximity to the upper interactive ends.

11. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the base structure comprises a cover plate.

12. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the actuator pedal system includes at least one rotating linkage such that the at least one transmission member transmits force from the rotating linkage to the rotatable posts.

13. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the plurality of rotatable posts comprises a first rotatable post and a second rotatable post.

14. The apparatus of claim 14, further comprising: a. a cross beam movable along the first rotatable post and the second rotatable post; b. a cross beam first spring aligned along the first rotatable post; c. a cross beam second spring aligned along the second rotatable post, wherein the cross beam first spring and the cross beam second spring bias the cross beam toward the upper interactive ends.

15. An improved apparatus for dispensing covers for at least partially covering an appendage of a user, the apparatus comprising: a. a base structure; b. an actuator pedal system including an actuator pedal substantially connected to at least one rotating linkage; c. a plurality of rotatable posts, each post including an upper interactive end and a lower engagement end, wherein the upper interactive end is engagable with at least one appendage cover when the actuator pedal is in an unactuated position; and d. at least one transmission member substantially connected to the at least one rotating linkage for transmitting force from the at least one rotating linkage to the rotatable posts such that when the actuator pedal is actuated by a user, the rotatable posts rotate, thereby causing the upper interactive ends to disengage with the appendage cover in closest proximity to the upper interactive ends.

16. The apparatus of claim 15, wherein the rotating linkage comprises a rotating gear.

17. An improved apparatus for dispensing covers for at least partially covering an appendage of a user, the apparatus comprising: a. a cover plate; b. an actuator pedal system including an actuator pedal; c. a first transmission member including a first base transmission end connected to the actuator pedal system by a first rotating linkage, a first right transmission end, and a first left transmission end; d. a second transmission member including a second base transmission end connected to the actuator pedal system by a second rotating linkage, a second right transmission end, and a second left transmission end; e. a first rotatable post including a first upper interactive end and a first lower engagement end, wherein the first upper interactive end is attachable to an appendage cover and wherein the first lower engagement end includes a first lower gear that is movably associated with the first right transmission end, such that when the actuator pedal system is actuated by a user, the first rotatable post rotates, thereby causing the first upper interactive end to disengage with the appendage cover in closest proximity to the first upper interactive end; f. a second rotatable post including a second upper interactive end and a second lower engagement end, wherein the second upper interactive end is attachable to an appendage cover and wherein the second lower engagement end includes a second lower gear that is movably associated with the first left transmission end, such that when the actuator pedal system is actuated by a user, the second rotatable post rotates, thereby causing the second upper interactive end to disengage with the appendage cover in closest proximity to the second upper interactive end; g. a third rotatable post including a third upper interactive end and a third lower engagement end, wherein the third upper interactive end is attachable to an appendage cover and wherein the third lower engagement end includes a third lower gear that is movably associated with the second right transmission end, such that when the actuator pedal system is actuated by a user, the third rotatable post rotates, thereby causing the third upper interactive end to disengage with the appendage cover in closest proximity to the third upper interactive end; and h. a fourth rotatable post including a fourth upper interactive end and a fourth lower engagement end, wherein the fourth upper interactive end is attachable to an appendage cover and wherein the fourth lower engagement end includes a fourth lower gear that is movably associated with the second left transmission end, such that when the actuator pedal system is actuated by a user, the fourth rotatable post rotates, thereby causing the fourth upper interactive end to disengage with the appendage cover in closest proximity to the fourth upper interactive end.

18. The apparatus of claim 17 wherein the actuator pedal system further comprises a plurality of rotating gears such that when the actuator pedal is actuated by a user, the rotating gears rotate, thereby causing the rotatable posts to rotate, thereby causing the upper interactive ends to disengage with the appendage cover in closest proximity to the upper interactive ends.

19. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein the upper interactive ends are integrated with the rotatable posts, respectively.

20. The apparatus of claim 17 wherein the upper surface of the actuator pedal is no greater than about 4.0 centimeters from the upper surface of the cover plate when the apparatus is substantially assembled.

Description:

FIELD

This invention relates to the field of devices for the automatic placement of shoe covers on shoes.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY

The outer surfaces of shoes collect many undesirable substances such as dirt and mud while worn by a person on any given day. Many industries such as construction, farming, and athletics involve work environments in which the collection of undesirable materials on shoes is particularly substantial. The collection of such substances on shoes and the subsequent transfer of such substances to the interior of homes, buildings, or other structures by foot traffic is undesirable and may raise concerns regarding the cleanliness of the interior of such structures. Shoes may be removed before entering a home, building, or other similar structure to avoid such problems. However, in environments where such a practice of removing shoes from feet before entering such structures is not common or otherwise practical, shoe coverings are used.

Disposable shoe covers are commonly employed to avoid the need for persons to remove their shoes before entering homes, buildings, or other structures. However, placing shoe covers on shoes (particularly, unclean shoes) is inconvenient and may require a person to use hands to place a shoe cover over a shoe, thereby exposing the user's hands to the substances on the shoe. Therefore, hands-free automatic shoe cover devices have recently been developed to allow for a person to automatically place a shoe cover over a worn shoe without the need to manipulate the cover with a user's hands. However, many of these devices employ relatively complex and relatively large mechanisms to accomplish the covering of a shoe, such as the use of heat to shrink wrap shoe covers around a user's shoe. Still other automatic shoe cover devices offer less reliable performance when activated by a user. Therefore, there is a need for a mechanically reliable and simplified automatic shoe covering device that uses inexpensive shoe covers to automatically and consistently cover a user's shoe.

The apparatus described herein provides an improved device for automatically placing a shoe cover on the foot, shoe, or other appendage of a user when a user activates the device by, for example, stepping into an enclosure and onto an actuator pedal. The device typically contains a plurality of covers (typically shoe covers) within the device. Each shoe cover includes a covering material such as a plastic polymeric sheet with a continuous or partial expandable band lining near the perimeter edge of the shoe covering. Attachment members are attached to the band at points along the band. Each attachment member preferably has a lip with a tab extending from the lip. The actuator pedal in the enclosure of the device is in mechanical communication with four rotatable posts, each post being housed within a separate hollow shaft. One improvement of some of the embodiments described herein is that the upper surface of the actuator pedal is no greater than 4.5 centimeters above the upper surface of the base on which the actuator pedal is operating. Each post also includes an interactive first end protruding above each of the four shafts. Another improvement of many of the embodiments described herein is that each interactive first end is preferably integrated with each post, respectively, thereby eliminating misalignment between the posts and the interactive first ends.

While the actuator pedal is not engaged, the four attachment members remain attached, respectively, to the four interactive first ends because of the relationship between the tabs in each of the attachment members and the respective interactive first ends. While the shoe cover device is not engaged, the band(s) of the one or more shoe coverings remains substantially stretched out. When a user's foot acts on the actuator pedal, the posts are all rotated, thereby rotating each of the four interactive first ends. As the interactive first ends rotate, the tabs become disengaged with the interactive first ends, the upper-most shoe covering is released, and the band associated with the upper-most shoe covering contracts into an unstretched position partially enclosing the shoe covering about the upper foot, ankle, or shoe of the user.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further advantages of the invention are apparent by reference to the detailed description in conjunction with the figures, wherein elements are not to scale so as to more clearly show the details, wherein like reference numbers indicate like elements throughout the several views, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a view looking down at the top of an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device.

FIG. 2 shows a shoe covering including band and four attachment members as used in an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device.

FIG. 3 shows a first side of an example of an attachment member for use with an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device.

FIG. 4 shows a second side of an example of an attachment member for use with an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device.

FIG. 5 is a side view looking down at an angle at an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device wherein the cover has been removed.

FIG. 6 shows an interactive first end of a post, where the post is housed in a hollow shaft.

FIG. 7 shows one corner of an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of some of the internal parts of an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device including one cover member shown in a locked down position.

FIG. 9 is a top view of one corner of an embodiment a shoe cover dispensing device, showing the physical relationship between the attachment member and the interactive first end.

FIG. 10 shows one corner of an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device.

FIG. 11 shows an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device wherein the cover has been removed.

FIG. 12 shows an actuator pedal assembly in an activated or otherwise depressed position.

FIG. 13 shows an actuator pedal assembly (with the actuator pedal itself having been removed) from an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device.

FIG. 14 is a view looking at the lower surface of a cover plate in the area where the actuator pedal assembly is located showing the actuator pedal in an activated or otherwise depressed state.

FIG. 15 is a view looking at the lower surface of a cover plate in the area where the actuator pedal assembly is located showing the actuator pedal not in an activated or otherwise depressed state.

FIG. 16 is a view of the bottom surface of a cover plate of an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device, showing all parts of the device that operate below the bottom surface of the cover plate.

FIG. 17 shows a force splitting member as described in an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device.

FIG. 18A shows a force splitting member as described in an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device.

FIG. 18B shows a force splitting member along line “Z” as described in an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device.

FIG. 19 shows a catch member, release button, and related locking assembly as described in an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device.

FIG. 20 shows a catch member, catch spring and release button along a cross member as described in an embodiment of a shoe cover dispensing device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

An overview of a preferred embodiment of an improved shoe cover dispensing device 10 is shown in FIG. 1. The shoe cover device 10 includes a shoe cover device lower portion 12 and a removable shoe cover device upper portion 14. The shoe cover device upper portion defines an upper portion aperture 16 through which a user may insert a foot or other object to exert a force to activate the shoe cover device 10. FIG. 1 also shows a shoe cover 18 within the enclosed area defined by the shoe cover base. With reference to FIG. 2, shoe cover 18 includes at least one layer of covering material 20, an elastic band 22 attached to the covering material 20 so that the covering material 20 naturally draws together to form a pouch like structure, and four attachment members 24 attached at four points along the elastic band 22. In the particular embodiment shown in FIG. 1, a plurality of shoe covers 18 are located within the shoe cover device 10, but the shoe covers 18 are not a part of every embodiment of the invention as described herein.

FIG. 3 and FIG. 4 show a close-up view of an embodiment of an attachment member 24. FIG. 3 shows a first side 23 of attachment member 24 including recesses 26 for engagement with the elastic band 22 and a groove 28 to facilitate the stacking of attachment members 24 on top of one another. A ring portion 30, wherein ring portion 30 includes a tab 32, defines an attachment member aperture 34. FIG. 4 shows a second side 25 of attachment member 24 including the recesses 26, a slot 27 to fit along the groove of an adjacent attachment member, the ring portion 30, the tab 32, and the attachment member aperture 34. As shown in FIG. 2 and FIG. 5, attachment members 24 remain attached to the shoe cover 18 by the location of elastic band 22 substantially between the extension member 28 and the first attachment member aperture 26.

FIG. 5 shows a view of the shoe cover device 10 with the shoe cover device upper portion 14 removed. A plurality of shoe covers 18 is shown. Each shoe cover 18 is removably attached to each of four rotatable posts 36. Each post 36 is partially surrounded by an outer shaft 38 as shown in FIG. 6. With reference again to FIG. 5, a set of springs 40 are aligned about and operate along posts 36. With reference to FIG. 7 and FIG. 8, springs 40 exert forces substantially in the direction of arrow “A” to exert pressure on a pair of cross members 44 (shown as cross member 44A and 44B). The exertion of the spring forces in direction “A” helps to force the attachment members 24 to remain substantially near the upper ends of posts 36. As shown in FIG. 6. FIG. 7, and FIG. 9, interactive first ends 45 of posts 36 retain attachment members 24 on posts 36. There are preferably four interactive first ends 45 including one interactive first end 45 attached to each of the four rotatable posts 36. The interactive first ends 45 are preferably integrated with the post (i.e., not attached by attachment means, but rather making up a part of the post itself). The first ends 45 tend to rotate slightly with respect to the posts 36 in embodiments in which the interactive first ends 45 are not integral with the posts, causing performance problems with the overall device 10. Thus, integral first ends 45 are preferred. FIG. 9 and FIG. 10 show a close-up view of one of the interactive first ends 45 revealing an upper extension 46 and a lower wedge 48. The upper extension 46 forms a part of each interactive first end 45 and is primarily responsible for keeping the attachment member 24 attached to the post 36 until a user activates the shoe cover device 10. The lower wedge 48 forms a part of each interactive first end 45 and is primarily responsible for preventing more than one attachment member 24 from disconnecting from the posts 36 during a single activation period. For the purposes of this disclosure, the term “activation period” is defined below after further reference is made to the various elements of this embodiment of the shoe cover device 10.

With reference to FIGS. 11-16, an embodiment of an actuator pedal assembly 50 including pedal 52, a pedal base 54, four gear members 56 (56A, 56B, 56C, 56D), a pair of side anchors 58 (58A and 58B), and a pair of extenders 60 (60A and 60B) is shown. Actuator pedal assembly 50 is attached to a cover plate 62, preferably by screws like actuator pedal assembly screws 64. The pedal 50 is attached to the pedal base 54 preferably by screws, but any other attachment means known to those skilled in the art such as, for example, nails, glue, and welding would suffice. A first pair of gear members (56A and 56B) mechanically interact via gear teeth (66A and 66 B, respectively) on a first side 68A of the pedal base 54, and a second pair of gear members (56C and 56D) mechanically interact via gear teeth (66C and 66D, respectively) on a second side 68B of the pedal base 54. A first attachment member 70A extends through the sides of the pedal base 54 and connects gear member 56A to gear member 56C. Similarly, a second attachment member 70B extends through the sides of the pedal base 54 and connects gear member 56B to gear member 56D. Gear member 56A and gear member 56B are movably attached to side anchor 58A, and gear member 56C and gear member 56D are movably attached to side anchor 58B.

Each of the gear members 56 includes legs 72 (72A, 72B, 72C, and 72D). Leg 72A and leg 72C extend through openings in the cover plate 62 and are movably attached to extender 60A and extender 60C, respectively. Leg 72B and leg 72D extend through the cover plate 62 and are movably attached to extender 60B and extender 60D, respectively. As shown in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 14-15, the legs 72 are attached to the extenders 60 via two bolts. Similarly, extenders 60A and 60C are movably attached to a force splitting member 74A by a bolt and extenders 60B and 60D are movably attached to a force splitting member 74B by a bolt. Although bolts are used in the exemplary embodiment discussed above, any similar attachment means known to those skilled in the art capable of allowing substantially similar mechanical movement as described herein could be used. Also, those skilled in the art appreciate that extenders 60 may not be necessary in all embodiments of the invention. FIGS. 14-15 show part of an underlying gear assembly 76 along a bottom surface 78 of cover plate 62, shown in more detail in FIG. 16. The underlying gear assembly 76 as well as the entire cover plate 62 and all overlying elements of this embodiment are attached to the device lower portion 12, preferably by screws, at attachment points 79.

With reference to FIG. 10. FIG. 11, and FIG. 16, the rotatable posts 36 are movably attached to the gear assembly 76 as discussed in detail below. The rotatable posts 36 are secured partially or substantially within the shafts 38 by end members 80 such as the nut (80A) shown in FIG. 16 and screw 80B in combination with the interactive first ends 45 shown in FIG. 10. In this embodiment, screws like screw 80B are integral parts of the lower ends of the posts 36 they are associated with.

An important improvement of the various embodiments described herein over prior art is that the pedal 52 (more specifically, the upper surface 53 of the pedal 52) in these embodiments is not greater than about 4.5 centimeters above the upper surface of the base structure (e.g., the cover plate surface 78) when the device 10 is substantially assembled. In a preferred embodiment, the pedal surface 53 is not greater than about 4.0 centimeters above the base structure when the device 10 is substantially assembled. The lower pedal surface 53 allows more covers 18 to be loaded onto the device 10.

For the purposes of clarifying the description related to certain numbered elements discussed infra, only one side of the shoe cover device 10 is described. However, it should be understood that various embodiments of the invention may require a pair of each of such elements. The corresponding elements not specifically discussed herein are given the same number designation as the corresponding element described, but with the use of the suffix letter “B” instead of “A.” With reference to FIGS. 14-18, pedal 52 is mechanically engaged with force splitting members 74. Force splitting member 74A is moveable along an axis defined as “Z” as shown in FIG. 17 and is maintained against cover plate 62 by a channel member 82A. Force splitting members 74 act to transmit force from an object or objects operating on the force splitting members 74 to another object or objects.

Channel member 82A is attached to the cover plate 62, preferably by screws such as channel plate screw 84. Channel member 82A includes a first engagement spring connection member 86A. Force splitting member 74A includes a second engagement spring connection member 88A. One end of an engagement spring 90A is attached to the first engagement spring connection member 86A and an opposite end of the engagement spring 90A is attached to the second engagement spring connection member 88A. Therefore, engagement spring 90A maintains some amount of static or dynamic force in the direction of arrow GA, substantially keeping the pedal 52 in a raised position unless acted upon by a user. FIG. 12 shows pedal 52 in a non-raised position as when a force is acting upon pedal 52, thereby moving legs 72 to oppose the force of, for example, engagement spring 90A as shown in FIG. 14 by arrows J.

A pair of head ends 92A included on force splitting member 74A contain gear teeth 94 as shown in FIGS. 16-18. Head ends 92A remain engaged with a pair of post gears 96A, each post gear 96A being attached to one of the rotatable posts 36. Therefore, the actuator pedal 52 is in mechanical communication with the rotatable posts 36. More specifically, when substantial pressure is applied to actuator pedal 52, the four rotatable posts 36 are caused to rotate. A more specific description of the dynamic relationship between actuator pedal 52 and other pertinent parts of the shoe cover device 10 is given below.

The shoe cover device 10 as described in this embodiment is activated (or a first activation period begins) when enough pressure is applied to the actuator pedal 52 to substantially move the actuator pedal 52. As the actuator pedal 52 is pressed upon and moved, the pedal base 54 moves downward. As the pedal base 54 moves downward, attachment members 70 move closer to one another as shown by arrows AM and the gear members 56 rotate as shown by arrows GM as shown in FIG. 13. The rotation of the gear members 56 causes, for example, leg 72A and leg 72C of the gear members to force the extender 60A to move in direction KA. This motion of extender 60A, in turn, causes the force splitting member to move in direction KA. Similarly, force splitting member 74B moves in direction KB. As the force splitting members 74 move in these respective directions, the gear teeth 94A and 94B along head ends 92A and head ends 92B act upon the two pairs of post gears (96A and 96B), causing rotatable posts 36 to rotate. This rotation of the rotatable posts 36 causes the interactive first ends 45 to rotate because the interactive first ends 45 are part of the rotatable posts 36.

With reference to FIG. 9, when interactive first end 45A rotates in direction R, upper extension 46A rotates until upper extension 46A no longer substantially covers ring portion 30A, thereby releasing shoe cover 18. At substantially the same time, lower wedge 48A rotates above a tab 32A′ (substantially similar to tab 32A) along an attachment member 24A′ (substantially similar to attachment member 24A) connected to a shoe cover 18′ (substantially similar to show cover 18) that is positioned second in line behind the now-released shoe cover 18. In this preferred embodiment, the downward facing wedge-like shape of tab 32 as shown in FIG. 4 (showing a bottom view of attachment member 24A) allows an access space for lower wedge 48A to slide between tab 32 and tab 32′ before attachment member 24A′ is released from post 36A. The release action between interactive first ends 45 and attachment members 24 described above occurs substantially simultaneously at all four posts 36 during an activation period of shoe cover device 10.

After at least one shoe cover like shoe cover 18 is released from posts 36 and when substantial pressure is removed from the actuator pedal 52, engagement springs 90 operate to bring the force splitting members 74 back to substantially the same position the force splitting members 74 were before the actuator pedal 52 was initially engaged during the first particular activation period (hereinafter defined as an “initial position” as shown in FIG. 13 and FIG. 15). As force splitting members 74 move back toward the initial position, gear teeth 94 interact with the two pairs of post gears (96A and 96B), causing rotatable posts 36 to rotate in a direction substantially opposite to the direction rotatable posts 36 rotated when force splitting members 74 were initially moving from the initial position. This rotation, shown as “S” in FIG. 9, causes upper extension member 46 to engage with a ring portion 30A′ of attachment member 24A′, thereby maintaining attachment between attachment members 24′ and posts 36. When force splitting members 74 have substantially returned to an initial position, the first activation period has concluded and a new activation period may be initiated.

With reference again to FIG. 11, it should be understood that other embodiments using elements similar to cross members 44 may use elements that do not extend to two posts. For example, a different embodiment may use four spring pressure plates in lieu of two cross members, one pressure plate for each spring/post assembly, wherein there is no need to directly connect any of the spring pressure plates together in one element. However, a preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 11 uses cross members 44 that have unique features used for loading pluralities of shoe covers like shoe cover 18 onto the posts 36.

With reference to FIG. 19 and FIG. 20, in a preferred embodiment, cross members 44 include a release button 98A associated with a catch member 100A. The catch member 100A includes a first catch member end 102A that protrudes through an orifice in the cross member 44A and a second catch member end 104A. The second catch member end 104A preferably includes a catch member extension 106A for removably interlocking with a catch port 108A located along the cover plate 62 below the cross member 44A. The release button 98A is preferably held in a raised position by a catch spring 110A as shown in FIG. 20 unless or until such button is pressed. The catch member 100A moves, for example, by rotating about a structure such as bar 112A. The catch members 100 and catch ports 108 are used to lock cross members 44 into a locked down position as shown in FIG. 8 so that shoe cover 18 may be easily loaded into the shoe cover device 10. The purpose of the release buttons 98 and all associated elements of this embodiment are to release cross members 44 from such a locked down position.

With reference to FIG. 1, the external dimensions of the shoe cover device 10 of the illustrated embodiment include a length “L” ranging from about 15 inches to about 25 inches, preferably, about 18 to about 20 inches; a width “W” ranging from about 8 inches to about 15 inches, preferably, about 9.5 inches to about 10.5 inches; and a height “H” ranging from about 5 inches to about 10 inches, preferably, about 6 inches to about 7 inches. Aperture 16 includes a length L2 ranging from about 13 inches to about 15 inches and a width “W2” ranging from about 5 inches to about 7 inches. Other embodiments may have an aperture like aperture 16 having a length ranging from about 8 inches to about 22 inches and a width ranging from about 4 inches to about 10 inches. With reference to FIG. 4, attachment member 24 preferably has an end length “E” ranging from about 3/16 inches to about ⅜ inches. Other embodiments may have an attachment member like attachment member 24 having an end length “E” ranging from about ¼ inches to about ¾ inches.

Shoe cover device 10 is preferably made from a metal or other high tensile strength material such as steel, aluminum, other suitable metals or combinations thereof, high tensile strength polymers, and the like. Suitable materials with lower tensile strength may be used to form release buttons 98 and attachment members 24. The shoe covering 20 is preferably made from a suitable flexible or semi-flexible polymeric material.

It should be understood that where means of attachment are described within this disclosure such as screws, nut and bolt assemblies, glue, and the like, other means of attachment may be used in other embodiments to substitute such screws, nut and bolt assemblies, and glue such as screws, nut and bolt assemblies, bolts, glue, nails, pins, welding, and other similar means of attachment known to those skilled in the art.

Some of the various elements described herein have been named based on certain general characteristics of their function(s) or general features such as shape. However, the names of the various elements described herein are not meant to be limiting; the names are only used within this disclosure to help the reader better reference particular elements in relation to other elements as shown in the exemplary figures.

The foregoing description of certain exemplary embodiments of the present invention has been provided for purposes of illustration only, and it is understood that numerous modifications or alterations may be made in and to the illustrated embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined herein.