Title:
Attachable and detachable modification for high heeled shoes
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device that is a shoe heel attachment is provided, the device functioning to increase the surface area of the distal end of the heel portion of a high-heeled shoe, the device including an anchor portion and a planar portion. The device protects the heel of a high value shoe from abrasion and moisture that results from walking on permeable ground surfaces such as grass, mud, and snow, and improves the safety of the wearer from falls that would otherwise result from insertion of the heel into catching spaces such as sidewalk cracks and subway grate coverings.



Inventors:
Cohen, Matthew (Boston, MA, US)
Cohen, Jennifer (Boston, MA, US)
Application Number:
12/317724
Publication Date:
07/02/2009
Filing Date:
12/29/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
36/72B
International Classes:
A43B23/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MOHANDESI, JILA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Armis Intellectual Property Law, LLC (Belmont, MA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for increasing surface area of a distal end of a heel of a shoe, the device comprising: an anchor portion having a receptacle for receiving and releasably retaining the distal end of the heel of the shoe, and a planar base located beneath the anchor portion, wherein the horizontal surface area of the planar base is greater than the horizontal surface area of the distal end of the heel, wherein the device engages and retains the heel and protects the heel from damage during walking in contact of the heel with wet and abrasive surfaces.

2. The device according to claim 1, further comprising a strap for securing the heel within the receptacle, wherein the strap is attached to a superior end of the device.

3. The device according to claim 1, further comprising a clamp for securing the heel within the receptacle, wherein the clamp is attached to the superior end of the device.

4. The device according to claim 1, wherein securing the heel within the receptacle comprises at least one structure from the group consisting of: a strap comprises a plurality of apertures wherein the strap is attached by a first end to the anchor, the strap having a second end unattached, the device further comprising a peg located on an exterior surface of the receptacle that fits through the apertures; a strap comprising a plurality of terminal loops, and a tab located on the exterior of the receptacle, wherein each loop fits over the tab; a strap comprising a buckle; a strap comprising a hook and loop fastener (VELCRO®); a strap comprising a snap fastener; a strap comprising a lifting dot fastener; a strap comprising an figure eight fastener; a strap comprising an elastic ring fastener; an elastic tube, the elastic tube optionally having cut-outs or a lattice structure for example polygonal voids.

5. The device according to claim 1, wherein the anchor portion further comprises a plurality of vertical gripping members attached to or contiguous with and extending proximally from the superior surface of the planar base, wherein the members have a size, shape and location to clasp and secure the heel within the receptacle by at least one method selected from the group consisting of: friction between inner surfaces of the members and an outer lateral surface of the heel; compression by the upright members of the heel; static electric cling between the members and at least one outer surface of the heel; suction between the upright members and at least one outer surface of the heel; and, adhesion of at least one upright member to at least one outer surface of the heel.

6. The device according to claim 1, wherein the anchor portion further comprises at least one sizing insert wherein the external dimensions of the sizing insert conform to internal dimensions of the receptacle wherein the at least one insert is reversibly inserted into the receptacle, the sizing insert comprising a receiving cavity having internal dimensions and contours approximately conforming to external dimensions and contours of the heel.

7. The device according to claim 1, wherein the anchor portion is detachable from the planar base for replacement by a substitute planar base.

8. The device according to claim 1, wherein the anchor portion is permanently fixed to the planar base.

9. The device according to claim 1, wherein the anchor portion internal dimension has in cross section at least one geometric shape selected at least one of the group of column, barrel, cylinder, disc, circular, oval, octagon, pentagon, rectangular, triangular, square, elliptical, and “D”.

10. The device according to claim 1, wherein the planar base has a footprint which is a geometric shape selected from the group of disc, circular, oval, octagon, pentagon, rectangular, triangular, square, elliptical, and “D”.

11. The device according to claim 1, wherein the device further comprises a plurality of materials.

12. The device according to claim 1, wherein the planar base and the receptacle comprise the same material.

13. The device according to claim 1, wherein the planar base and the receptacle comprise a plurality of materials.

14. The device according to claim 1, wherein the device comprises at least one plastic material.

15. The device according to claim 11, wherein the plastic comprises a polymer selected from at least one of the group of polyurethane, polyurethane foam, polyethylene, polypropylene, polybutylene, polystyrene, and polymethylpentene.

16. The device according to claim 1, wherein the device comprises a rubber material.

17. The device according to claim 16, wherein the rubber is natural.

18. The device according to claim 16, wherein the rubber is synthetic.

19. The device according to claim 16, wherein the rubber comprises silicone.

20. The device according to claim 1, further comprising a metal material.

21. The device according to claim 1, further comprising a metal alloy.

22. The device according to claim 1, wherein the planar base comprises a paper-based product.

23. The device according to claim 22, wherein the paper-based product is selected from at least one of the group of cardboard, paperboard, fiberboard, and card stock.

24. The device according to claim 1, wherein the receptacle has an internal diameter of at least about 2 mm, 3 mm, 4 mm or more for receiving and releasably retaining the heel of the surface portion of the shoe.

25. The device according to claim 1, wherein an inferior surface of the planar base that contacts the ground comprises at least one texture selected from the group of scored, ridged and serrated.

26. The device according to claim 25, wherein the inferior surface of the planar base is smooth.

27. The device according to claim 25, wherein the planar base inferior surface further comprises a malleable material.

28. The device according to claim 1, wherein the device is colorless and transparent or translucent.

29. The device according to claim 1, wherein the device is pigmented and translucent or opaque.

30. The device according to claim 1, wherein the device has a weight less than about 8 oz, 6 oz, 4 oz, or 2 oz.

31. The device according to claim 1, wherein the planar base has a diameter of at least about 4 mm, 8 mm, or 1.2 cm.

32. The device according to claim 1, wherein the device is disposable.

33. The device according to claim 1, wherein the device is reusable.

34. The device according to claim 1 further comprising a water resistant material.

35. The device according to claim 1, wherein the planar base and the anchor portion are water resistant.

36. A kit comprising a device for increasing surface area of a distal end of a heel of a shoe, the device comprising: an anchor portion having a receptacle for receiving and releasably retaining the distal end of the heel, and a planar base located beneath the anchor portion, wherein the horizontal surface area of the planar base is greater than the horizontal surface area of the distal end of the heel, wherein the device engages and retains the heel and protects the heel from damage occurring during walking upon contact of the heel with wet and abrasive surfaces, and the kit further comprising a carrying container.

37. The kit according to claim 36 further comprising a plurality of at least one device component selected from the group of planar bases, receptacles, and sizing inserts.

38. The kit according to claim 36, further comprising a cleaning cloth.

39. A method of protecting a heel of a high-heeled shoe from abrasion and moisture, the method comprising: contacting the heel with a device for increasing surface area of a distal end of the heel, the device comprising: an anchor portion having a receptacle for receiving and releasably retaining the distal end of the heel of the shoe, and a planar base located beneath the anchor portion, wherein the horizontal surface area of the planar base is greater than the horizontal surface area of the distal end of the heel; and engaging and reversibly retaining the heel and protecting the heel from damage during walking upon contact of the heel with wet and abrasive surfaces.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

The present application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 61/009,229 filed Dec. 27, 2007, inventors M. Cohen et al., and which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a removable device that fits a heel of a shoe, and increases the surface area of the heel to protect the heel from rough and abrasive or wet surfaces, and to enhance stability for the wearer.

BACKGROUND

Many styles of high-heeled shoes, for example the very elongated and tapering style of shoe known as, “stiletto” heels, have a very small weight-supporting surface area at the location of the lowest extremity of the heel portion of the high-heeled shoe (distal end) that contacts the ground, resulting in significant detriment to both the shoe and the wearer. For example, fatigue and discomfort in the ankle and foot often occur in the wearer of high-heeled shoes as a result of extra muscular effort required to stabilize the ankle and foot of the wearer to maintain balance during locomotion. Additionally, walking on an abrasive surface, such as subway grates, sidewalk cracks, red-brick sidewalks lawns, and cobblestone-paved roads or walkways often causes damage to the shoe. Such surfaces damage shoes, for example, immobilizing the heel and thereby separating a high heel from the shoe, resulting in destruction of the shoe, a potentially expensive item, and even by momentarily immobilizing the foot, such surfaces present potential injury to the wearer.

Further, soft surfaces such as grass, mud, and sod, are easily pierced by narrow heels, causing the foot to sink and abrading the decorative portion of the shoe.

To avoid the foregoing problems associated with wearing high-heeled shoes with small distal end areas of the heel, a wearer often carries a second pair of shoes with a different heel style, such as an athletic shoe or a sneaker, and changes shoes prior to and after walking on a rough terrain. This is inconvenient, however, because extra shoes are bulky accoutrements under formal circumstances, require a separate carrying container, and the process of changing shoes causes delay and/or inconvenience.

High-heeled shoes have been modified to allow attachments to connect to the sole of a shoe. See Robbins, U.S. patent application number 2006/0196082, published Feb. 28, 2006 which shows high heel shoes that are modified to accept a removable modular attachment. The shoe is fabricated or modified with grooves into which protrusions or clips of the modular attachment fit, attaching and detaching to the modified high-heeled shoe using a spring-loaded mechanism with gears, and requiring the grooves or protrusions in the shoe. The modular attachment extends to the full height of the heel, and covers the entire heel, or even the complete sole of the shoe. The bulky modular attachment alters the appearance of the shoe, and changes the design.

As certain styles and brands of shoe represent a significant financial investment, a permanent alteration of the appearance of the shoe can affect the value. A simple device that is lightweight, portable, and easily applied and removed, is needed to protect a high heel from abrasion and surfaces that might destroy the appearance and value.

SUMMARY

Accordingly the present invention provides a device that attaches to the distal end of a high heel shoe to widen the heel area, thus protecting the appearance and integrity of the shoe on an abrasive surface, without altering the shoe itself.

An embodiment of the invention provides a device for increasing the surface area of the distal end of a heel of a shoe, the device including an anchor portion having a receptacle for receiving and releasably retaining the distal end of the heel of the shoe, and a planar base located beneath the anchor portion. The device is characterized in having a horizontal surface area of the planar base that functions as a platform for the anchor portion having the receptacle and for optional further components as well as functions to broaden the contact area of the shoe with the walking surface, so that this horizontal surface area provided by the device is greater than the horizontal surface area of the distal end of the heel, so that if the device is engaged or attached to the shoe, the device protects the heel from damage occurring upon contact with wet and/or abrasive walking surfaces, and stabilizes the heel during contact with uneven or porous surface, thereby improving the safety of the user of the device when negotiating such surfaces in high heeled shoes.

The terms, “distal”, “proximal”, and “dorsal” as used herein have their ordinary anatomical meaning, and refer to portions of the device herein and the interaction of the device and shoe, and components of the shoe, as they related to a central location of a user. “Distal” and “proximal” thus refer respectively to surfaces, ends or components of the device or shoe, that are further and closer, respectively, to the center of the user. Similarly, “dorsal” refers to surfaces, ends or components of the device or shoe that are located at a rear surface or component of the device or shoe, with respect to the wearer when wearing the device and shoe.

The device in a related embodiment includes a strap attached to a proximal or superior end of the device for securing the heel of the shoe within the receptacle. The strap is alternatively attached around the ankle of the user, or around the instep. In another related embodiment, a clamp is attached to the superior end of the device for securing the heel of the shoe within the receptacle.

The device secures the heel within the receptacle with at least one structure, in various related alternative embodiments, from the group of: a strap attached at a first end to the anchor portion, and having a second end which is a free end, the strap having a plurality of apertures, the device further having a peg that fits through the apertures, the peg located on an exterior surface of the receptacle; a strap including terminal loops, and the device having a tab located on the exterior of the receptacle, such that each loop fits over the tab; a strap including a buckle; a strap including a hook and loop fastener (VELCRO®); a strap including a snap fastener; a strap including a lifting dot fastener; a strap including an figure eight fastener; a strap including an elastic ring fastener; an elastic tube, for example, an elastic latticework tube, for example, the latticework includes polygonal cutouts or voids, or has slits arranged so that the tube is lattice-like so that when stretched it is elongated and adhesive.

In certain embodiments of the device the anchor portion has a plurality of upright gripping members extending from the platform of the superior surface of the planar base, or attached to the base, and protruding upward in a proximal direction from the base such that the gripping members form the receptacle for securing the heel. The gripping members secure the heel by at least one method selected from the group including: friction between the inner surfaces of the members and the outer lateral surfaces of the heel; compression by the gripping members the heel, the members being deformable and deformed by insertion of the heel; static electrical cling between the gripping members and at least one outer surface of the heel; establishment of a suction between at least one of the gripping members and at least one outer surface of the heel; and, adhesion of at least one upright member to at least one outer surface of the heel.

In another embodiment the anchor portion includes at least one sizing insert having an external lateral dimension and an interior dimension that conform to internal dimensions of the receptacle; the sizing insert has an approximately central cavity with internal dimensions and contours approximately conforming to the external dimensions and contours of the shoe heel.

An embodiment of the device has an anchor portion that is detachable from the planar base so that the planar base is replaceable with one of a plurality of alternative planar bases. Thus a device used with a very valuable pair of shoes can have a plurality of planar bases that are suitable for different conditions or walking surfaces. In an alternative embodiment, the anchor portion is permanently fixed to the planar base. Similarly, a planar base in another embodiment has a plurality of alternative anchor portions, or the anchor portion has a plurality of sizing inserts.

In certain embodiments the anchor portion has an internal dimension which in cross section has at least one geometric shape selected from at least one of the group of column, barrel, cylinder, disc, circular, oval, octagon, pentagon, rectangular, triangular, square, elliptical, and “D” shaped.

In another embodiment the planar base has a footprint which is at least one geometric shape selected from at least one of the group of disc, circular, oval, octagon, pentagon, rectangular, triangular, square, elliptical, and “D” shaped.

In one embodiment of the invention the device is made from at least one of a plurality of materials. In an alternative embodiment, the planar base and the receptacle are made of the same material. In another embodiment the planar base and the receptacle are made of multiple materials.

In a related embodiment the device is made of plastic. For example, the plastic is a polymer selected at least one of the group of polyurethane, polyurethane foam, polyethylene, polypropylene, polybutylene, polystyrene, and polymethylpentene.

In an alternative embodiment the device is made of rubber. For example, the rubber is natural or synthetic. In one embodiment the rubber is silicone. In another embodiment the device is made of a metal. For example, the metal is a metal alloy.

In yet another embodiment the planar base is made from a paper-based product. For example, the paper-based product is selected from at least one of the group of cardboard, paperboard, fiberboard, and card stock.

In one embodiment the planar base has a diameter of at least about 1 cm, 2 cm, 3 cm, 4 cm, or more. In certain embodiments the receptacle has a diameter of at least about 2 mm, 3 mm, 4 mm or more for receiving and releasably retaining the distal end of the heel of the shoe.

In another embodiment the planar base (including the anchor portion) is substantially flat, i.e., is wider (broader) than higher. The flat aspect renders the device easy to store, for example in a plastic bag, in a dress purse, or in a pocket of a jacket, or stole, or other wrap, and in a kit that has a carrying case for protecting the purse, pocket, stole from moisture and soil.

Thus, the height of the planar base is a fraction of the height of the heel, for example ½, ⅓, ¼, ⅕, ⅙ the height of the heel. For example, for a heel that is about 3 or 4 inches in height (at least about 6 cm, 8 cm, or 10 cm in height), the height of the planar base is less than about 1 cm, 2 cm, or less than about 3 cm. The diameter of the planar base, on the other hand, is at least about 4 mm, 8 mm, 1.2 cm, or at least about 1.6 cm or even at least about 3.2 cm in diameter. The device weighs less than about 8 oz, less than about 4 oz, or less than about 2 oz or even less than about one oz, or less than about 230 g, less than about 115 g, less than about 58 g or even less than about 30 g in weight.

In related embodiments the inferior surface (bottom) of the planar base that contacts the ground is textured to prevent the user from slipping, for example, is patterned, such as scored or ridged. In still another embodiment, the portion of the planar base that contacts the ground is serrated. Alternatively, the inferior surface of the planar base that contacts the ground is smooth.

In one embodiment the device is translucent, or even transparent, such that the style and color of the shoe is visible, and the device is colorless, or is slightly tinted. In an alternative embodiment the device is pigmented (colored), and opaque, or translucent. In certain embodiments the device is disposable, while in other embodiments it is reusable.

In an embodiment of the device the bottom layer of the planar base is malleable to conform to an uneven surface. In another embodiment of the device the planar base and the anchor portion comprise a water resistant material, while in another embodiment of the device the planar base and the anchor portion are water resistant.

Another embodiment of the invention herein provides a kit having a device for increasing surface area of a distal end of a heel of a shoe, the device comprising: an anchor portion having a receptacle for receiving and releasably retaining the distal end of the heel, and a planar base located beneath the anchor portion, wherein the horizontal surface area of the planar base is greater than the horizontal surface area of the distal end of the heel, wherein the device engages and retains the heel and protects the heel from damage occurring during walking upon contact of the heel with wet and abrasive surfaces, and the kit further comprising a carrying container. For example, the kit in various embodiments includes a plurality of at least one device component selected from the group of planar bases, receptacles, and sizing inserts. The kit in another embodiment further includes a cleaning cloth.

Another embodiment of the invention herein provides a method of protecting a heel of a high-heeled shoe from abrasion and moisture, the method comprising: contacting the heel with a device for increasing surface area of a distal end of the heel, the device comprising: an anchor portion having a receptacle for receiving and releasably retaining the distal end of the heel of the shoe, and a planar base located beneath the anchor portion, wherein the horizontal surface area of the planar base is greater than the horizontal surface area of the distal end of the heel; and engaging and reversibly retaining the heel and protecting the heel from damage during walking upon contact of the heel with wet and abrasive surfaces.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a drawing showing an inferior perspective view of an embodiment of the device in which the planar base portion 101 has a scored surface 102. This planar base has an ovoid shape, in which the front (anterior) end of the planar base 103 is narrower than the back (posterior or ventral end) surface 104.

FIG. 2 is a longitudinal perspective view drawing of an embodiment of the device showing the anchor portion 201 and the planar base portion 101.

FIG. 3 is a superior perspective view drawing of an embodiment of the device showing the receptacle 301 of the anchor portion 201 and the planar base portion 101.

FIG. 4 is an inferior perspective view (bottom) drawing of an embodiment of the device attached to a high-heeled shoe showing the anterior portion of the shoe sole 401, the arch portion of the shoe 402, and the device planar base 101 with scored surface 102.

FIG. 5 is a drawing showing a longitudinal perspective view of a high-heeled shoe in which the distal end of the shoe heel 501 is inserted into the anchor portion 201, toebox portion of the shoe 502, the arch portion of the shoe 402, and the planar base portion 101.

FIG. 6 is a drawing showing a superior perspective view of the high-heeled shoe inserted into the device, showing the toebox of the shoe 502, the shoe arch 402, and the device planar base 101.

FIG. 7 is an inferior perspective drawing of the device, showing three gripping members 701 extending upwards from the superior surface of the device planar base platform, the gripping members arranged circumferentially around a space that forms a receptacle, and the textured inferior surface of the device planar base.

FIG. 8 is a 45% superior angle perspective drawing of the device shown in FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a side view drawing of the device of FIG. 7.

FIG. 10 is a superior 45% angle perspective view drawing of another embodiment of the device showing two gripping members 701 extending upwards from the superior surface of the device planar base and a third gripping member 701 which is located on a tab 1001 such that after contacting the heel to the device, the tab is inserted into a groove in the superior surface of the planar base, such that pressure of the weight of the user on the heel acts to lock the third gripping member 701 in place around the bolus or body of the heel.

FIG. 11 is a drawing showing an embodiment of the invention having a plurality of alternative components, sizing inserts 1102 and 1103 respectively, that are used alternatively with different shoes having heels that are of different sizes. The sizing inserts fit snugly into the receptacle portion of 1101.

FIG. 12 is a drawing showing an embodiment of the invention in which the receptacle 1202 for a heel is contiguous with or is attached to a strap 1203 with two rings 1204, and the rings are contiguous with or are attached or connected to the receptacle 1202.

FIG. 13 is a drawing that shows an embodiment of the invention in which the receptacle is a tube 1302 of reticulated or otherwise elastic material is attached to and extends upward from the superior surface of the planar base 101, the device having one or more tabs 1304 on the sides of the proximal end (top) of the tube 1302, so that the tube receives the heel, and the one or more tabs provide a grip for the user to pull the tube 1302 over the heel.

FIG. 14 is a drawing that shows an embodiment of the device with a receptacle 1401 attached to the anchor portion of the device in which the receptacle 1401 having a dorsal vertical planar portion (located at the rear or back end of the receptacle), with a “T” shaped tab 1403 extending outward from an exterior surface of the vertical portion. A looped band 1404 is placed around a heel and the ends of the band 1404 secured to the device by placing the band over the tab 1403 to hold the heel.

FIG. 15 is a drawing that shows an embodiment of the device in which a strap 1504 with apertures 1505 is attached to a dorsal vertical planar portion of the receptacle 1501 at one end and shows the other end of the strap 1504 unattached when the device is not engaged with a shoe. A peg 1503, for example, a mushroom shaped peg, extends outwardly from the dorsal side of the exterior surface of the receptacle 1501. An aperture 1505 which is one of a plurality of apertures is placed over the peg, the aperture chosen to provide a requisite degree of tight fit, to affix the strap 1504 around a heel or an ankle.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Currently commonly worn high heeled shoes, such as stiletto heels, are often characterized by having very little surface area of the base of the heel that contacts the ground. The distal end of the heel of a high heeled shoe may be as small as 25 mm2 (5 mm×5 mm) or even smaller, so that a woman having a weight of at least about 50 kg would exert more than about 200 kg/cm2 of force on the heel during each step. Thus, the large force on the small contact area causes instability, imbalance, fatigue, and/or risk of injury for the wearer. Further, this force and the narrow tapered shape of the heel causes the heel to penetrate a soft or uneven walking surface, such as grass, cobblestone, gravel, or a metallic grid such as a subway vent, and even soft macadam, degrading the decorative surface of the heel by abrasion and/or adhesion of unwanted particles. These types of processes adversely affect the appearance, value, and integrity of the decorative surface of the heel.

An embodiment of the device herein is an attachment that attaches to the distal or lower or inferior portion (distal relative to a central location of the wearer) of a heel to increase the surface area of the distal end of the heel portion of a high-heeled shoe. The device further increases the wearer's stability, comfort, and/or balance while traversing surfaces, thereby reducing risk, fatigue, or discomfort and/or protecting the heel from adverse surfaces. The device herein includes a planar portion 101 shown in FIG. 1, and an anchor portion 201 FIG. 2. With respect to FIG. 1, alternative treads or mixtures of treads can be used on the bottom (inferior) surface of the planar portion such as scoring in a hatch pattern 102; ridges; serrations; protuberances; or other patterns. The planar portion, for example, is a planar “cell”, which has a flat surface platform having a diameter much larger than that of the heel of the shoe, for example, a 10-fold, 20-fold, or 30-fold or more increase in surface area contacting the walking surface. The planar surface of the device results in a functional increase to the area of contact surface of the heel. For example, a diameter of the device that is 3-, 4-, or 5-fold greater than the diameter of the actual shoe heel, results in a larger area of surface contact by a factor that is 9-, 16-, or 25-fold, respectively, thus protecting the tip (distal end) of the heel from penetrating a permeable walking surface, and stabilizing the heel of the benefit of the wearer. See FIGS. 4-6 for a view of enlarged surface area of the heel compared to the heel inserted into the device.

In related embodiments the shape and texture of the planar portion is specifically designed to be selected in a customized manner for surfaces commonly encountered by the user, i.e., lawns, city sidewalks, gardens as described herein. The anchor portion of the present invention is configurable to accept a plurality of different styles of the planar portion, providing the wearer with a choice of color and styles as well as textures of the inferior surface, each unit providing improved stability to the wearer, and protection for the high-heel. The superior surface of the planar base is contiguous with or attaches to the anchor portion, and also serves as a platform for additional components that serve to secure the device to the heel.

An embodiment of the device provided herein is a heel attachment for a shoe, the device being compact and easily and quickly attached and detached via a receptacle suitable for a high-heeled shoe without irreversibly altering the appearance or integrity of the shoe. The device anchors to the distal end of the heel portion of a high-heeled shoe, and increases the surface area by having a receptacle with a contiguous planar surface that attaches to the distal end of the heel.

The device is manufactured by any of standard conventional means, such as molding, injection molding and milling. The manufacture can be unitary molding, in which a mold for the entire device is filled with for example unpolymerized material which is then polymerized in the mold to obtain its final form, or can be molded in two parts which are later joined, a seam between the two halves is filled with epoxy, adhesive or fairing compound and the seam is optionally sanded to conform to the surrounding surface. The method of manufacture of the composite construction device further includes allowing the device to cure and once cured removing it from the mold.

The device is manufactured to have one of a variety of diameters of the planar surface that is related to the height of the heel or the weight of the wearer. The device as manufactured is characterized as being small and light so that it is easily carried in a compact carrier or carrying compartment, such as a purse, a compartment of a purse, or a pocket of a dinner jacket or stole. A kit is provided having also a container and optionally a cleaning cloth, so that upon removal and prior to storage, the device is wiped clean to avoid soiling the wearer's clothing.

When a wearer finds it necessary to walk across an adsorptive, permeable or abrasive walking surface, the device is easily attachable. The device has a weight that is light enough to be transported easily, for example the device is less than 8 oz, 6 oz, or 4 oz, or even 2 oz. The device in various embodiments is manufactured from water resistant material to protect it from wear and tear from contacting moist or wet surfaces, and in related embodiments is entirely water resistant or water proof. The devise contains no or essentially no highly technological mechanical mechanisms or moving parts and is manufactured inexpensively. Certain embodiments are intended to be disposable, and alternative embodiments are intended to be reused. Further, the device in various embodiments is manufactured and used to add ornamental value, for example, designed to match particular colors or textures such as seasonal colors (pastels; bright primary colors; earth tones), or to add to the glamour of a dress shoe for example by addition of decorative elements such as stones, sequins, glass or crystal.

Each of the entire device or the planar portion is quickly and easily removable from the shoe, and can be alternated by the wearer with other variously shaped, colored and designed planar portions, to accommodate specific physical and/or design needs. For example, a planar portion having a larger surface area is more suitable than a planar portion with a smaller surface area for walking on a lawn, a mud, or a soft tuft. For protection from rain or flooding, however, the size and shape of the planar portion is of less consideration than a smaller planar portion that is manufactured of a water resistant material. Thus, planar portions are designed in a plurality of shapes to increase stability in a variety of different terrains, or for the purposes of style.

In related embodiments, the bottom of the planar base is manufactured of a material to be malleable to conform to an uneven surface. The malleable layer can further stabilize and protect the heel from a non-uniform surface. Alternatively, the entire planar base is manufactured of a malleable material, having however sufficient support directly underneath the receptacle to withstand the force due to concentrated weight of the user during walking.

Additionally, for walking on a slippery surface such as ice, snow, or partially frozen mud the inferior surface of the planar portion is scored as shown in FIG. 1, 102, and can also be serrated, or provided with additional combinations of textures or another feature, such as increased diameter for walking on snow or hard spikes for walking on ice, to increase traction and thereby enhance the safety of the user.

The exemplary anchor portion shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 is centrally located on the superior surface of the planar portion 101 of the device, and has a receptacle 301 or hollow cavity, which receives the distal end of the heel of a high-heeled shoe as shown in FIGS. 4-6. Alternatively an asymmetrical location of the receptacle on the planar base is within the scope of the invention. The form of the receptacle is a closed structure such as a cylinder having a central axis perpendicular to the plane of the planar base, or the form can be an open or discontinuous structure such as a set of structures that are gripping members as described herein. The device is engaged by the user by aligning the distal end of a heel of a high-heeled shoe with the receptacle, such that the axis of the heel is perpendicular to or somewhat oblique to the plane of the planar portion, then sliding or impelling the heel into the receptacle 301. The anchor portion 201 of the device contacts, receives, and anchors the distal end of the heel.

In certain embodiments herein the planar-base of the device includes a material having the characteristics of substantial resistance and durability to withstand repeated physical wear, and possibly also to wear by electrical (for example due to current leaking from metal plates on a sidewalk) and/or thermal processes (exposure to summer heat in a car interior), as well as dimensional stability. The material is characterized by sufficient strength to support the pressure and weight exerted on a high heel by the ordinary force from walking by a wearer, as well as light enough to be easily transportable. The planar base includes in various embodiments a support layer inferior to (under) the anchor portion, for example the support layer is a malleable material, alternatively the support layer is adjacent to and superior to (above) a malleable material. Alternatively, the support layer is coextensive with or even substantially comprises the planar base.

In various embodiments the planar base and/or the support layer is manufactured from a plastic such as high-density polyethylene, polyaryletheretherketone, aromatic polyamide or polycarbonate, or from a lightweight metal such as aluminum. In certain embodiments, the device has a malleable material on the inferior surface of the planar base, and the support layer is coextensive or is substantially coextensive with the malleable material. Multiple layers are manufactured by addition of unpolymerized subsequent layers during the molding process, or by addition of fully polymerized materials using epoxy or other glue.

The receptacle in FIG. 3, 301 in certain embodiments forms a descending bore having a size gradient, i.e., the bore of the receptacle is greater in diameter at the superior surface of the device above the planar base than at the inferior surface, the superior surface having the receptacle opening and the inferior surface being in contact with the planar base closer to the ground. Thus with this design, as the distal end of the heel is inserted into the receptacle, composed of a deformable material, the heel is received and gripped. The heel fits increasingly more tightly as a function of the extent of the insertion of the heel into the receptacle, and the receptacle offers increasing resistance to the force impelling the heel and increases contact between the heel and the device.

The inner surface of the receptacle in certain embodiments is lined with a layer of smooth, flexible material, for example polyurethane, polyurethane foam, polyethylene, polypropylene, polybutylene, polystyrene, and polymethylpentene. The smooth flexible material causes the distal end of the heel to be inserted and anchored within the anchor portion using a minimum of force, and the heel is similarly removed from the device when desired. The anchor portion is temporarily or permanently mounted within or affixed to the superior surface of the planar portion of the device.

The receptacle of the anchor portion in various embodiments includes a set of radial cuts at the superior or proximal end of the receptacle, or the receptacle is lined with a plurality of adjacent beads, the beads being arranged tangent to each other circumferentially, and attached to the inner wall of the receptacle. The receptacle having the lining or ring of beads or the surface with cuts is further made compressible as a result of the beads or cuts, such that the distal end of the heel is held in place in the receptacle, without damage to the exterior of the heel.

In alternative embodiments the distal end of the heel is secured within the receptacle with a clamp, clasp, ribbon, or strap that is additionally attached to the device, generally to the superior surface of the planar base, or to the anchor, or to the proximal (top) of the receptacle. For example, the strap or ribbon is decorative, and functions to affix the device to the ankle or upper surface of the instep of the foot. For example, the clamp or clasp is fixed to the superior surface of the planar portion of the device, and engages the portion of the heel to be secured within the cavity of the receptacle after insertion of the distal end of the shoe heel. Clamps and clasps suitable for use in the device can be chosen from any among a selection of ornamental and decorative elements well known to one of ordinary skill in design or manufacture of shoes, sandals, or, textiles, or from the fabrics used in construction of a shoe for the upper end of the shoe market.

Examples of a device having a clamp are show in FIGS. 7-9. The anchor portion of the device has three gripping members 701 contiguous with and extending upwards from the superior surface of the device platform. The gripping members are arranged to form a receptacle, and are molded to be contiguous to the superior surface of the planar base, as shown in FIG. 8. Each gripping member extends upward and also inward, and the shape of the inner surface of each member bulges inward proximately, which adds to the gripping properties of the member. As a result of several factors, the deformability of the material of manufacture, an inward incline of each gripping member, and a bulge inward in the shape of the interior surface of the gripping member, the act of insertion of the heel causes an inward force to be applied upon the heel by each gripping member, so that the aggregate force by these characteristics of the plurality of the gripping members holds the device in place on the heel.

An alternative embodiment is shown in FIG. 10 in which two gripping members 701 extend upwards from the superior surface of the device platform and a third gripping member 701 is located, if the device is not engaged, on a tab 1001 for inserting into a slot or channel 1003 on the superior surface of the base platform, which interact to lock the gripping member on the tab into place around the bole or body of a high heel. Serrations are shown in the embodiment in FIG. 10 along lateral edges of the tab 1001 and corresponding serrations in edges of the channel 1003 on the device platform for receiving the tab for interlocking the tab and the platform. A bridge 1002 is located over the channel 1003 for receiving the tab 1001 at the posterior or dorsal end of the planar surface platform, the bridge acting to hold the end of the tab 1001 in the channel 1003 after insertion. The tab 1001 has an anterior end with optionally smooth lateral surface edges and a central section with serrated lateral surface edges. The posterior end of the channel 1003 is smooth with interior lateral dimensions that correspond to the external lateral dimensions of the smooth anterior section of the tab 1001. Use of the device is facilitated by contacting the heel of a shoe to the receptacle formed by the upright members circumferentially around the heel of the shoe and inserting the tab into the channel with sufficient force to lock the tab in place by matching the serrations of the tab with the corresponding serrations of the channel. To remove the device the user unlocks the tab from the serrations with an upward force, and pulls the deformable gripping members away from the shoe heel.

An embodiment of the device anchor portion 1101 as shown in FIG. 11 includes additional components, a plurality of alternative sizing inserts, of which two are shown. The outer dimensions of the sizing inserts are manufactured to be slightly smaller than internal dimensions of the receptacle of the anchor component 1101, thereby providing that insertion of the inserts into the anchor receptacle causes a snug fit. The plurality of different sizes of the inserts provides for utility of the device with a variety of different shapes, sizes and heights of heels, that will fit into the same planar base platform. For example, FIG. 11 shows a first insert 1102 which has three ribs extending into its interior aperture, and a second insert 1103 that has two ribs extending into its interior aperture.

A strap is used to secure the device in an embodiment seen in FIG. 12. The planar portion or platform, 101 is connected to an embodiment of the receptacle 1202 for a shoe heel and a strap 1203 is further connected to the wall of the receptacle. The embodiment receptacle 1202 has an elongated dorsal or posterior surface (back) that extends proximally (upward) beyond the height of the ventral (anterior or front) portion of the receptacle, and the strap 1203 extends from the side sections of the receptacle 1202 wall. Two conjoined rings 1204 that are manufactured in the shape of an “8” or “eight” extend from the strap 1203 at about a 90 degree angle from the direction of the strap 1203. The ring proximate to the strap 1203 has a diameter that is smaller than, i.e., is about 80 percent, of the diameter of the ring most distal to the strap 1203. For use of this embodiment of the device, the heel of a shoe is inserted through both rings 1204 and into the receptacle 1202 on the superior surface of the planar base platform. For a snug fit, the wearer pulls the rings 1204 upwardly and onto the broader end of the heel. Upon fitting both rings 1204 over the exterior of the heel, the rings 1204 that are manufactured of a deformable mater, flex and stretch and by such force, the rings 1204 grip the heel of the shoe to secure the device onto the heel.

An embodiment of the device shown in FIG. 13 has a receptacle that is a generally cylindrical tube 1302 of elastic material and that is contiguous with and extends proximally (upward) from the superior surface of the planar platform 101. One or a set of tabs 1304 on the side or sides of the top of the tube 1302 provide a grip for a user to pull the tube 1302 over a shoe heel. In various embodiments, the length of the tube 1302 optionally has regularly arranged cut out portions, e.g., staggered regularly spaced diamond-shaped voids 1303 giving the appearance of the tube 1302 a looks of a latticework. The distal end (bottom) of the tube 1302 includes at least one bracing struts 1301 in the shape of approximately equilateral triangles that also connects or is contiguous to the superior surface of the platform 101.

In various alternative embodiments, a wall 1401 of the receptacle seen in FIGS. 12, 14 and 15, extends proximally up from the superior surface of the planar base 101 and one side 1402 of the receptacle 1401 so that it is substantially higher than other portions of the wall, for example, approximately three times as high as the lowest edge of the top of the receptacle 1401, although the height and ratio are selected by the manufacturer and user to be suitable to a particular height of a heel and are not to be considered as construed to be further limiting.

As shown in FIG. 14, the exterior vertical surface of the device further has a “T” shaped tab 1403 on the uppermost portion of the surface. Included with this embodiment of the device is a double ring 1404 in a “C” shape which is shown in the figure as positioned above the receptacle 1401. The ring 1404 is stretched by the user around the heel that has been inserted into the receptacle, and the loops of the ring 1404 fit over the “T” shaped tab 1403 such that the ring 1404 grips the heel of the shoe and the device is secured on the heel.

An alternative embodiment of the device includes a receptacle 1501 extending proximally (upward) up from the superior surface of the planar base 101 and, as shown in FIG. 15, an exterior vertical surface of the device further has a peg protrusion 1503 and further has a strap 1504 protruding from at least one lateral surface. The peg protrusion shown in FIG. 15 is mushroom shaped, i.e., the head of the peg is broader than the stem closer to the exterior vertical surface, however other shapes are suitable for the peg as is well known in the art. The strap 1504 has apertures 1505 or voids having a shape suitable so that a larger parameter of an aperture 1505, here a keyhole shaped aperture, fits smoothly over the largest diameter of the mushroom shaped peg 1503 and the narrow section of the aperture 1505 fits the shaft of the peg 1503. The strap 1504 is wrapped about the ankle of the user or around the heel of the shoe, and the user fastens the device in place by selecting and engaging one of the apertures 1505 at a location over the mushroom shaped peg 1503, and pulling the strap tight with the appropriate aperture engaged on the peg. Tension in the strap from the lock of the aperture in place over the peg secures the device on the heel.

The device is manufactured of at least one material of the group of a metal, plastic, rubber, leather, wood, bone, paper, or other synthetic or natural materials, and in certain embodiments includes one or more high value materials such as metals, minerals or gem decorations, naturally occurring or synthetic, or any combination thereof. In certain embodiments the device is manufactured in a plurality of colors and designs. The colors and designs can be matched to a specific shoe design or generic colors.

The device described herein is compact and therefore easier to transport and store than a second pair of shoes, or a bulky prior art device having a substantial mechanical attachment apparatus (See Robbins, U.S. patent application number 2006/0196082, published on Feb. 28, 2006) as it will have less weight and/or smaller size. The device is in various embodiments, inexpensive and easy to store, disposable, and even is easy to replace, providing a less bulky and less costly alternative to a second pair of shoes.

The invention having now been fully described, it is further exemplified by the following claims, which are exemplary only and are not to be construed as further limiting. The contents of all references cited are hereby incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.





 
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