Title:
STORAGE UNIT WITH EXTENSION MECHANISM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A storage unit comprises an arm assembly that can be stored inside the unit and extended along a range of positions outside the unit and a moveable panel which conceals the interior of the storage unit frame coupled with the storage unit frame by a connector. The storage unit can be integrated into an article of furniture such as a headboard or a chair. A four-bar linkage assembly can be used to connect the moveable panel to the storage unit frame and can permit the panel to remain substantially parallel to the frame along its range of motion.



Inventors:
Robert-reitman, Genevieve (Montecito, CA, US)
Palleva, William (Cerritos, CA, US)
Green, Patrick M. (Long Beach, CA, US)
Baker, Dustan J. (Ladera Ranch, CA, US)
Raab, Simon (Santa Barbara, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/035708
Publication Date:
08/27/2009
Filing Date:
02/22/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B97/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050253489Self-squaring modular cabinetryNovember, 2005Heyer
20040227436Attachment apparatus for a work surface panelNovember, 2004Felske et al.
20090230830Drawer Slide Closing DeviceSeptember, 2009Ng
20070188059Kitchen appliance having floating glass panelAugust, 2007Davis et al.
20020171336Captured control knobNovember, 2002Moretti
20030155847Mostly pre-assembled kit for casegood furnitureAugust, 2003Henkel
20080042537Door for RefrigeratorFebruary, 2008Kim et al.
20090174298Modular furniture itemJuly, 2009Missier
20090044558Modular Refrigerating ApplianceFebruary, 2009Hell et al.
20070194672Compartmentalized power distribution equipment enclosureAugust, 2007Hibicke et al.
20080246378Retaining mechanism for a slide assemblyOctober, 2008Chen et al.



Primary Examiner:
TRAN, HANH VAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KNOBBE MARTENS OLSON & BEAR LLP (IRVINE, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A headboard for placement behind a seating or sleeping area comprising: a storage cabinet comprising a frame and a panel configured to cover a space inside said frame; an arm assembly comprising a first arm coupled with an inside surface of said frame and a second arm coupled with said first arm, said arm assembly being configured to move from a retracted configuration wherein said arm assembly is inside said space to an extended configuration; a table assembly coupled with said second arm of said arm assembly such that when said arm assembly is in said retracted configuration, said table assembly can be located inside said space and when said arm assembly is in said extended configuration, said table assembly can be located above the seating area; and, a mechanism coupled with said panel and with an inside surface of said frame, said mechanism being configured to move from a closed configuration in which said panel covers said arm assembly when said arm assembly is in said retracted configuration to an open configuration configured to allow said arm assembly to move between said retracted configuration and said extended configuration.

2. The headboard of claim 1, wherein said mechanism comprises a four-bar linkage assembly configured to maintain said panel substantially parallel to a face of said frame when said mechanism moves from said closed configuration to said open configuration.

3. The headboard of claim 1, wherein said mechanism comprises a strut configured to support said panel when said mechanism moves between said closed configuration and said open configuration.

4. The headboard of claim 1, wherein said arm assembly comprises a first swivel connector configured to couple said first arm with said inside surface of said frame and a second swivel connector configured to couple said second arm with said first arm.

5. The headboard of claim 4, wherein said first swivel connector comprises a first rotation limiter and said second swivel connector comprises a second rotation limiter.

6. The headboard of claim 5, wherein said first rotation limiter is configured to limit the projection of said first arm to around 33° past an outer edge of said seating or sleeping area and said second rotation limiter is configured to limit the projection of said second arm to around 90° relative to said edge of said seating or sleeping area.

7. An article of furniture comprising: a frame enclosing a storage volume; an extension mechanism, said extension mechanism having a first configuration in which the extension mechanism is at least partially retracted within said storage volume and a second configuration in which said extension mechanism is extended from said storage volume; a panel coupled with said frame configured to cover a face of said storage volume when said panel is in a closed position and being moveable to an open position to permit access to said extension mechanism, said panel being substantially parallel to said face of said storage volume when said panel is in said open position.

8. The article of furniture of claim 7, said extension mechanism comprising a first arm.

9. The article of furniture of claim 8, said extension mechanism comprising a second arm coupled with said first arm.

10. The article of furniture of claim 7, said panel remaining substantially parallel to said frame when said panel moves between said closed position and said open position.

11. The article of furniture of claim 7 comprising an object coupled with said extension mechanism.

12. The article of furniture of claim 11, said extension mechanism being configured to hold said object in front of said face of said storage volume when said extension mechanism is in said second configuration.

13. The article of furniture of claim 11 wherein said object is a tray assembly.

14. A support structure capable of stowing an object within a stowage space and of positioning an object for use adjacent a seating area comprising: an arm assembly comprising at least two swivel connectors in the same rotational plane; a mechanism configured to be attached to said stowage space and to move a portion of said stowage space from a first position in which said stowage space portion conceals said arm assembly within said stowage space to a second position in which access is provided to said arm assembly.

15. The support structure of claim 14, said mechanism comprising a four-bar linkage assembly.

16. The support structure of claim 14, said mechanism comprising a strut.

17. The support structure of claim 14 wherein said object is coupled with said arm assembly.

18. The support structure of claim 17, said extended configuration of said arm assembly being configured to position said object for use over said seating area.

19. The support structure of claim 14, said stowage space portion comprising a panel coupled with said mechanism and configured to move from said first position to said second position.

20. The support structure of claim 14, said stowage space portion being configured to move from said second position to said first position when said arm assembly is in said extended configuration.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTIONS

1. Field of the Inventions

The present disclosure relates to a storage unit. More specifically, it relates to a storage unit with an extension mechanism that is configured to integrate a table, work surface assembly, or other object with the storage unit and support the object when it is deployed for use.

2. Description of the Related Art

The prior art has attempted to integrate items with conveniently-located storage units, for example, by integrating a stowable tray with a bed headboard. In one example solution, a tray is stowed within vertically extending front and back members inside a headboard. A user deploys the tray by first rotating the tray about a first pivot to extend the tray outwardly from between the front and back members while maintaining its vertical orientation. Then, the user rotates the tray about a second pivot to a substantially horizontal orientation for its use as a tabletop. The tray is only accessible on a side of the bed. Thus the example solution does not permit a user reclining in the bed to use a laptop computer and allows a very limited range of mobility for the tray.

SUMMARY

In various embodiments disclosed herein, a storage unit is disclosed into which an item can be integrated by an extendable and adjustable mechanism that supports the item when the item is deployed for use. Such a storage unit is multi-functional and space saving for residential, hospitality, and hospital patient users.

In one embodiment, a headboard for placement behind a seating or sleeping area is provided. The headboard includes a storage cabinet comprising a frame and a panel configured to cover a space inside the frame. The headboard also includes an arm assembly comprising a first arm coupled with an inside surface of the frame and a second arm coupled with the first arm. The arm assembly is configured to move from a retracted configuration wherein the arm assembly is inside the space to an extended configuration. The headboard also includes a table assembly coupled with the second arm of the arm assembly. When the arm assembly is in the retracted configuration, the table assembly can be located inside the space. When the arm assembly is in the extended configuration, the table assembly can be located above the seating area. The headboard also includes a mechanism coupled with the panel and with an inside surface of said frame. The mechanism is configured to move from a closed configuration in which the panel covers the arm assembly when the arm assembly is in the retracted configuration to an open configuration. The open configuration is configured to allow said arm assembly to move between the retracted configuration and the extended configuration.

In another embodiment, an article of furniture is provided. The article of furniture includes a frame enclosing a storage volume and an extension mechanism. The extension mechanism has a first configuration in which the extension mechanism is at least partially retracted within the storage volume and a second configuration in which the extension mechanism is extended from said storage volume. The article of furniture also includes a panel coupled with the frame and configured to cover a face of the storage volume when the panel is in a closed position. The panel is moveable to an open position to permit access to the extension mechanism and is substantially parallel to the face of the storage volume when the panel is in the open position.

In another embodiment, a support structure capable of stowing an object within a stowage space and of positioning an object for use adjacent a seating area is provided. The support structure includes an arm assembly comprising at least two swivel connectors which can be positioned in the same rotational plane. The support structure also includes a mechanism configured to be attached to the stowage space and to move a portion of the stowage space from a first position in which the stowage space portion conceals the arm assembly within the stowage space to a second position in which access is provided to the arm assembly.

In another embodiment, a method for configuring an arm assembly in a deployed configuration above a bed is provided. The method includes moving a panel to provide access to an enclosed volume. The method also includes extending the arm assembly from a retracted configuration wherein the arm assembly is stored inside the enclosed volume.

For purposes of summarizing the inventions and the advantages achieved over the prior art, certain items and advantages of the inventions have been described herein above. Of course, it is to be understood that not necessarily all such items or advantages may be achieved in accordance with any particular embodiment of the inventions. Thus, for example, those skilled in the art will recognize that the inventions may be embodied or carried out in a manner that achieves or optimizes one advantage or group of advantages as taught or suggested herein without necessarily achieving other advantages as may be taught or suggested herein.

All of the embodiments are intended to be within the scope of the inventions herein disclosed. These and other embodiments will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments having reference to the attached figures, the inventions not being limited to any particular preferred embodiment(s) disclosed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the inventions disclosed herein are described below with reference to the drawings of preferred embodiments, which are intended to illustrate and not to limit the inventions.

FIG. 1 depicts a perspective view of two example storage units integrated with a bed headboard. An arm assembly coupled with the left-side storage unit frame is extended to place a horizontally deployed work surface assembly over the bed.

FIG. 2 depicts a perspective view of two example storage units integrated with a bed headboard. An arm assembly coupled with the left-side storage unit frame is extended out of the way of a person on the bed, and a work surface assembly coupled with the arm assembly is in a horizontally deployed position.

FIG. 3A depicts a perspective view of an example storage unit with a moveable panel coupled with the storage unit frame beginning to move toward an opened position.

FIG. 3B depicts a perspective view of the example storage unit of FIG. 3A with the moveable panel continuing to move toward an opened position, an arm assembly coupled with the storage unit frame and stored inside the enclosed volume of the storage unit, and a work surface assembly coupled with the arm assembly in a retracted position.

FIG. 3C depicts a perspective view of the example storage unit of FIG. 3A with the moveable panel in an opened position, the arm assembly moved outside the enclosed volume of the storage unit, and the work surface assembly in a horizontally deployed position.

FIG. 3D depicts a perspective view of the example storage unit of FIG. 3A with the arm assembly extended away from the storage unit frame.

FIG. 3E depicts a perspective view of the example storage unit of FIG. 3A with the work surface assembly placed in front of the storage unit frame.

FIG. 3F depicts a perspective view of the example storage unit of FIG. 3A with the moveable panel in a closed position.

FIG. 4 depicts a top plan view of a storage unit with an arm assembly and work surface assembly in two example extended positions.

FIG. 5A depicts a cross-section side view of an example storage unit with a moveable panel coupled with the storage unit frame in a closed position.

FIG. 5B is a cross-section side view of the example storage unit of FIG. 5A with a moveable panel coupled with the storage unit frame in a partially opened position.

FIG. 5C is a cross-section side view of the example storage unit of FIG. 5A with a moveable panel coupled with the storage unit frame in an opened position.

FIG. 6A is a perspective view of a four-bar linkage assembly in a position corresponding to a closed configuration of the storage unit of FIGS. 5A-5C.

FIG. 6B is a perspective view of a four-bar linkage assembly in a position corresponding to a partially open configuration of the storage unit of FIGS. 5A-5C.

FIG. 7 is a perspective exploded view of an example storage unit.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a first swivel connector for coupling an arm assembly to a storage unit frame.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an example arm assembly in an extended position and a work surface assembly in a horizontally deployed position and an angled position (shown in phantom).

FIG. 10 is a plan view of an example storage unit with an arm assembly in an extended position and a work surface assembly in a first horizontally deployed position. The rotation of the work surface assembly to a second horizontally deployed position is shown in phantom.

FIG. 11 is a bottom perspective view of an example arm assembly and work surface assembly showing optional rotation limiting devices.

FIG. 12 is a bottom perspective exploded view of an example work surface assembly.

FIG. 13A is a front perspective view of an example storage unit frame portion that can be incorporated into the example storage unit of FIG. 3A-3F.

FIG. 13B is a rear perspective view of a frame portion.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of an example frame portion of a storage unit and a cleat bracket for installing the frame portion on an upright construction.

FIG. 15 is a side view of the example storage unit frame portion of FIG. 15 installed on the cleat bracket.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

Although certain preferred embodiments and examples are disclosed below, it will be understood by those in the art that the inventions extend beyond the specifically disclosed embodiments and/or uses of the inventions and obvious modifications and equivalents thereof. Thus, it is intended that the scope of the inventions herein disclosed should not be limited by the particular disclosed embodiments described below. The following descriptions of various elements are applicable for the figure for which they are provided, any other figures provided, and any embodiments not shown.

FIG. 1 depicts a perspective view of two example storage units. The left-side storage unit has a frame 10 and the right-side storage unit has a frame 11. The storage units are integrated into a bed headboard 20 and separated by a spacer portion 30. In one embodiment, each storage unit comprises an arm assembly 40, 45 coupled with a respective storage unit frame 10, 11. The two arm assemblies 40, 45 are shown in extended positions outside the enclosed volume of their respective storage unit frames 10, 11. The left-side arm assembly 40 comprises two extension arms 41, 42. A work surface assembly 50 in a horizontally-deployed position is coupled with the arm assembly 40. The left storage unit frame 10 is shown covered by a moveable panel 60. The moveable panel 60 is shown in FIG. 1 in a closed position. Other panels 70, 80 can be provided proximate the moveable panel 60 to further enclose at least a portion of the storage unit frame 10. A seating surface 100 is shown in phantom. The extension arms 41, 42 of the arm assembly 40 can be configured to position the work surface assembly 50 directly in front of a user seated on the seating surface 100 when the user's back is resting on the moveable panel 60.

A wide variety of construction materials, for instance, recycled material, metal (e.g., steel or aluminum), wood, engineered material, melamine, or plastic or a combination of those (or other) materials, are suitable for any of the components described herein (e.g., storage unit frames, arm assemblies, work surface assemblies, connectors, or panels).

As shown in FIG. 1, multiple storage units can, in certain embodiments, be integrated into an article of furniture (here, a bed headboard 20). Also, one or more storage units can be integrated in other embodiments into a couch, a desk, a sectional, cabinetry, or other furniture. In certain embodiments, only a single storage unit is integrated into an article of furniture, for example, a bed, chair, armoire, nightstand, endtable, or cabinet. In embodiments in which an article of furniture comprises more than one storage unit, one or more spacer portions such as the spacer portion 30 shown in FIG. 1, can be provided between the storage units to fill gaps and/or provide an aesthetically pleasing appearance for the completed article. In certain embodiments, the seating surface 100 can optionally be a mattress, a cushion, or a flat surface. In certain embodiments, no seating surface is provided.

The arm assembly 40 shown in FIG. 1 can be retracted inside the enclosed volume of the storage unit frame 10 for storage and deployed when ready for use. Also, the arm assembly 40 can provide suitable support for any object(s) coupled with the arm assembly 40, for example, the work surface assembly 50. A storage unit can comprise more than one arm assembly. For example, a first arm assembly 40 supporting a work surface assembly 50 can be coupled with the lower-left corner of the storage unit frame 10, and a second arm assembly (not shown) supporting a task light (not shown) can be coupled with the upper-right corner of the storage unit frame 10.

FIG. 2 depicts a perspective view of example storage units integrated into a bed headboard. The extension arms 41, 42 of the arm assembly 40 can be configured to position the work surface assembly 50 away from the seating surface 100 (shown in phantom) to make it easier for a user to move from a seated position or a reclining position on the seating surface 100 to a standing position. A user can smoothly extend the arm assembly 40 and work surface assembly 50 from the configuration shown in FIG. 1 to the configuration shown in FIG. 2 by exerting a force on the work surface assembly 50, for example, pushing. Likewise, the user can smoothly extend the arm assembly 40 and work surface assembly from the configuration shown in FIG. 2 to the configuration shown in FIG. 1 by exerting a force (e.g., pushing or pulling) on the work surface assembly 50.

FIG. 3A depicts a perspective view of an example storage unit. A moveable panel 60 is coupled with the storage unit frame 10 by a mechanism (discussed below). The arrow 300 depicts movement of the panel 60 toward an opened position, e.g., as shown in FIG. 3C.

Many configurations are suitable for storage unit frames. The storage unit frame 10 shown in FIG. 3A has rectangular-shaped surfaces. However, many regularly- and irregularly-shaped three-dimensional bodies are also suitable shapes for storage units frames. For example, a storage unit can be configured to serve as the back support of a chair, and the storage unit frame can comprise generally trapezoidal-shaped faces with rounded corners.

Many configurations are also suitable for a moveable panel, such as the moveable panel 60 shown in FIG. 3A, if it is present in a particular embodiment. The moveable panel 60 can be configured to move from a closed position to an open position in such a way that allows the arm assembly 40 to be deployed from the enclosed volume of the storage unit frame 10. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3A, the moveable panel 60 covers the front or forward portion of the storage unit frame 10. In certain embodiments, the moveable panel 60 serves as a back rest for a user seated on a mattress or chair cushion or other seating surface when the moveable panel 60 is closed over the enclosed volume of the storage unit frame 10. The moveable panel 60 need not be on the front of the storage unit in all embodiments. It could, for example, be on a side portion of a storage unit frame. The moveable panel 60 in the embodiment of FIG. 3A has a generally rectangular face. However, many regular and irregular shapes are suitable for the moveable panel 60. The moveable panel 60 need not cover an entire surface of the storage unit frame 10. In certain embodiments, the moveable panel 60 covers a face of the storage unit frame 10 where a face is at least a portion of the surface of the storage unit frame 10. Certain embodiments can comprise a plurality of moveable panels. In certain embodiments, the moveable panel is not present.

The moveable panel can be configured for a number of purposes. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3A, the moveable panel 60 is configured to conceal the interior of the storage unit frame 10 when the moveable panel 60 is in a closed position. In other embodiments, the panel 60 can be clear, leaving the inside of the storage unit frame 10 visible therethrough. The moveable panel 10 may, in alternative embodiments, be configured for another purpose, for example, to provide a work surface assembly such as a writing surface or to provide a backrest as discussed above. The moveable panel, in some embodiments, can be configured to provide a surface for storing additional items. As an example, the moveable panel can comprise hooks for hanging tools.

FIG. 3B depicts a perspective view of the example storage unit of FIG. 3A. The arrow 304 depicts movement of the panel 60 toward an opened position. A user moves the moveable panel 60 from the configuration shown in FIG. 3A to the configuration shown in FIG. 3B by exerting a force on the panel 60, e.g., pulling upwards.

The moveable panel 60 can be coupled with the storage unit frame 10 by a suitable movement mechanism 500, for example, a pair of four-bar linkage assemblies 500 comprising a four-bar linkage 510 and a strut 520. The four-bar linkage assembly 500 is discussed in more detail in conjunction with FIG. 6 below. In certain embodiments, the storage unit may comprise only one four-bar linkage assembly 500. Other embodiments can comprise two or more four-bar linkage assemblies 500. Moreover, a four-bar linkage assembly 500 is not required. Alternative movement mechanisms 500 such as pivot connectors, ball-and-socket connectors, sliding track connectors, and hinge connectors are also suitable for moveably coupling the moveable panel 60 to the storage unit frame 10. Also, the moveable panel 60 need not open in an upward direction. Depending on the desired use of the storage unit, the moveable panel 60 may open upward, downward, and/or from either side. In certain embodiments, the moveable panel 60 may be configured to open in more than one direction. Alternative movement mechanisms 500 can, in certain embodiments, be used in conjunction with one or more struts 520 (discussed in more detail in conjunction with FIG. 6 below).

FIG. 3B shows the arm assembly 40 in a retracted position inside the storage unit frame 10. A second extension arm 42 is coupled with a first extension arm 41 by a swivel connector (discussed below). When the arm assembly 40 is in a retracted position, the second extension arm 42 is disposed over and substantially parallel to (“stacked over”) the first extension arm 41. However, in certain embodiments, an edge of the second extension arm can deviate from the corresponding edge of the first extension arm when the second extension arm is stacked over the first arm. The substantially parallel configuration of the two extension arms 41, 42 is also shown in FIG. 3C. The retracted position shown in FIG. 3B advantageously allows an arm assembly 40 comprising two extension arms 41, 42 to be stowed in a storage unit frame 10 having a narrow depth. However, alternative stowage configurations in which the arm assembly 40 or assemblies can be enclosed within a storage unit frame 10 are suitable. For example, a telescoping extension assembly can comprise a series of nested or interlocking hollow bars (not shown). In an example embodiment, a coupler bar coupled with the storage unit frame has a circumference or outer dimension. An intermediate bar placed inside the coupler bar has a smaller circumference or outer dimension than the coupler bar. A mounting bar placed inside the intermediate bar has a smaller circumference or outer dimension than the intermediate bar. A user extends the telescoping extension assembly by exerting a force (e.g., pulling) on the mounting bar. The mounting bar extends from inside the intermediate bar, and the intermediate bar extends from inside the coupler bar. The bars can comprise a mechanism that prevents a nested bar from falling outside of its surrounding bar. For example, the intermediate bar and the mounting bar can comprise a lip on their respective rearward end, and the coupler bar and the intermediate bar can comprise a complementary catch on their respective forward end. When the intermediate bar is extended from the coupler bar a certain distance, the intermediate bar's lip abuts the coupler bar's catch, and the coupler bar is prevented from extending further. Likewise, when the mounting bar is extended from the intermediate bar a certain distance, the mounting bar's lip abuts the intermediate bar's catch, and the mounting bar is prevented from extending further. An extension assembly comprising a telescoping extension assembly can be stowed by exerting a force on the mounting bar that causes the bars to slide inside of one another and nest inside of each other. In another embodiment, an extension assembly comprising an accordion-style arm (described below) can be stowed by exerting a force on the arm, causing the arm to retract on itself, as is known in the art.

A work surface assembly 50 is coupled with the second extension arm 42 of the arm assembly 40. The work surface assembly 50 is shown in a vertical stored position behind the arm assembly 40. In alternative embodiments, the work surface assembly 50 is stored in front of, underneath, or over the arm assembly 40.

FIG. 3C depicts a perspective view of the example storage unit of FIG. 3A. A user moves the arm assembly 40 from the retracted configuration shown in FIG. 3B to the first extended configuration shown in FIG. 3C by swiveling, moving, rotating, or pivoting the first extension arm 41 around a swivel connector. In the embodiment of FIG. 3C, the swivel connector is a first pivot connector 308. The work surface assembly 50 is shown in a horizontally deployed position. A user moves the work surface assembly 50 from the vertical stored position shown in FIG. 3B to the horizontally deployed position of FIG. 3C by generally exerting a force on the work surface assembly, e.g., pressing down on the work surface assembly 50.

In certain embodiments, an aesthetic panel (not shown) is coupled with the storage unit frame 10. The aesthetic panel can be, for example, at the back face of the storage unit frame. When the moveable panel is in an opened position, the aesthetic panel can conceal a construction behind the storage unit. If the storage unit is integrated into a headboard, for example, the aesthetic panel can be upholstered or covered with veneer to complement the aesthetic appearance of the moveable panel and/or other panels and hide a portion of a construction (e.g., a wall) behind the storage unit. In alternative embodiments, the aesthetic panel comprises a sheet of paper, plastic, or fabric or any other suitable material.

FIG. 3D depicts a movement of the arm assembly 40 from the first extended configuration shown in FIG. 3C to the second extended configuration. The second extension arm 42 is coupled with the first extension arm 41 by a swivel connector. In the embodiment of FIG. 3D, the swivel connector is a second pivot connector 312. A user pivots the second extension arm 42 around the second pivot connector 312 to move the work surface assembly 50 to the second extended configuration.

FIG. 3E depicts a perspective view of the example storage unit of FIG. 3A. A user moves the arm assembly 40 from second extended configuration shown in FIG. 3D to the third extended configuration shown in FIG. 3E by pivoting the second extension arm 42 around an axis of the second pivot connector 312.

Pivot connectors, e.g., the second pivot connector 312 shown in FIG. 3C through FIG. 3E and the first pivot connector 308 shown in FIG. 3B through 3E, are optional embodiments of swivel connectors. Other kinds of swivel connectors that can move through multiple degrees of freedom can be used in various embodiments. In certain embodiments the swivel connectors comprise pivot connectors, ball-and-socket connectors, hinge connectors, or combinations thereof. In the embodiments shown in FIG. 3C through FIG. 3E, the first 308 and second 312 pivot connectors comprise pivot connectors in the same rotational plane. In other embodiments, the swivel connector(s) can be replaced with another suitable coupling mechanism that provides a suitable amount of support to an item that a user chooses to couple with the extension mechanism, that allows the extension mechanism to be retracted inside the storage unit for storage, and that allows the extension mechanism to be deployed from the storage unit when ready for use. In certain embodiments, the suitable coupling mechanism can comprise a stationary connector.

The two-extension-arm assembly described above is only one optional configuration for the extension mechanism coupled with the storage unit frame. In some embodiments, the extension mechanism comprises arms.

In certain embodiments, the arm assembly comprises multiple extension arms. In certain embodiments, the multiple-extension-arm assembly can comprise more than two extension arms. For instance, the arm assembly can comprise three or more arms serially connected to each other by swivel connectors where one arm is connected to the storage unit frame 10. However, the multiple extension arms need not be connected to each other in this fashion. For example, in certain embodiments the arm assembly comprises extension arms wherein one end of each arm is slidingly engaged in a track or tracks coupled with the frame. When the arm assembly is in a retracted configuration, the arms lay flat inside the frame. As the arm assembly is extended, the ends of the arms slide along their track or tracks and the opposite ends of the arms become upright. The extension arms shown in FIG. 3B through FIG. 3E are coupled with each other near the end of the arms; however, the extension arms can be coupled with each other at another point on either arm, e.g., near the center or at a ¾ position of either or both arms.

In certain embodiments, the arm assembly comprises a single extension arm. For example, the arm assembly can comprise an accordion-style extension arm with diamond-shaped openings in the middle of the arm and V-shaped openings along the edges of the arm. The arm assembly can also comprise a telescoping extension arm. A combination of expanding (e.g., accordion-style or telescoping) arm(s) and/or solid bar(s) coupled by suitable connectors (as described above) is also suitable. For instance, the arm assembly can comprise two arms in the sliding-track configuration described above with a third arm connected to those arms by a ball-and-socket connector.

The configuration for the arm assembly 40 shown in FIGS. 3A through 3F provides a wide range of mobility. If the storage unit shown in FIG. 3F is integrated into an article of furniture comprising a seating surface (e.g., a bed, chair, loveseat, or couch), the arm assembly 40 can be configured so that a user seated with his or her back resting on the moveable panel 60 has the work surface assembly 50 directly in front of her. This advantageously provides a work surface assembly 50 for a user who wishes to work in a reclining position or in a seated position with his or her back supported. The user can also adjust the position of the work surface assembly 50, moving it nearer to or farther from the moveable panel 60. The user can also move the work surface assembly 50 away from the article of furniture while maintaining the work surface assembly 50 in a horizontally deployed position. This advantageously allows a user to conveniently move to a standing position while maintaining the placement of items on the work surface assembly.

In the embodiments shown in FIG. 3A through 3F, the height of the arm assembly 40 and the height of the work surface assembly 50 are not adjustable by a user. In certain alternative embodiments, the height of the work surface assembly 50 and/or the arm assembly 40 is adjustable, for example, by sliding the arm assembly 40 and/or work surface assembly 50 along a rod and/or track. For example, the first pivot connector 308 can be coupled with a rod (not shown) that is coupled with the storage unit frame 10 and substantially parallel to the pivot axis of the first pivot connector 308. The first pivot connector can be positioned within an optional track (not shown) configured to prevent the first pivot connector from rotating around the rod. A user can adjust the height of the arm assembly 40 connector by sliding the first pivot connector 308 along the rod and track. In certain embodiments, a user can adjust the height of either the work surface assembly 50 or the arm assembly 40 or both by using a suitable connector, e.g., a ball-and-joint connector, that allows a user to raise and lower the height of the arm assembly 40 or work surface assembly 50.

FIG. 3F depicts a perspective view of the storage unit of FIG. 3A. In this example embodiment, the moveable panel 60 is configured to be moved from an open position to a closed position when the arm assembly is in a deployed position. The example arm assembly 40 is coupled with the storage unit frame 10 in the lower-left corner of that storage unit frame 10. A cut out in the lower-left corner of the moveable panel 60 permits the moveable panel 60 to close over the storage unit frame 10 when the arm assembly 40 is in an extended position. Alternative configurations can also permit the moveable panel 60 to close over the storage unit frame 10 when the arm assembly 40 is extended. For example, in certain embodiments, the moveable panel 60 is smaller than the corresponding surface of the storage unit frame 10. If the moveable panel does not completely cover the corresponding surface of the storage unit frame when the moveable panel is in a closed position, an additional panel or panels can be coupled with the storage unit frame. The panels can completely conceal the interior of the storage unit frame when the moveable panel is in a closed position. In certain embodiments, the additional panels are stationary. In certain embodiments, one or more of these additional panels are moveable. For example, in the example configuration shown in FIG. 3F, an additional panel can be hingedly coupled with the storage unit frame 10. In the example embodiment, the additional panel covers the cutout in the lower-left corner when the arm assembly 40 is in a stored position. The hinge connection allows the additional panel to move out of the way when the arm assembly 40 is in an extended position.

The work surface assembly 50 shown in FIGS. 3B through 3F has a rectangular face. However, many regular or irregular shapes are suitable for the work surface assembly 50. In certain embodiments, the work surface assembly comes pre-affixed with a decorative covering and/or a protective cover (e.g., clear plastic or glass). The work surface assembly can be customizable; for example, it can be adapted to receive veneers which complement other articles and/or décor in proximity with the work surface assembly (e.g., other panels and/or spacer portions or other furniture). In certain embodiments, the work surface assembly can be detached from and recoupled with the arm assembly. This can, for example, allow a user to more readily customize the work surface assembly's appearance. For example, the work surface assembly 50 can be coupled with the arm assembly 40 using a small number of standard head screws (e.g., four slotted-, Phillips-, or hexagonal-socket screws). An example attachment is described below in more detail in conjunction with FIGS. 11 and 12.

The work surface assembly (where present) can be configured for a number of purposes. In certain embodiments, it is configured for use as a planar task surface such as a typing surface, a writing surface, or a reading surface. The work surface assembly, in certain embodiments, comprises a mounting surface. For instance, the work surface assembly can be configured for mounting a monitor, television, or other electronic display.

The work surface assembly need not be present in all embodiments. Further, other objects can be mounted to the arm assembly, i.e., the work surface assembly need not be a planar surface. In certain embodiments, for example, the item is a task light, a magnifying glass, a hook or clip or other instrument for coupling another item, or a mirror. Any object or combination of objects that requires support when it is deployed for use can be coupled with the arm assembly. In certain embodiments, the item to be stored is configurable by the end-user. Thus, in certain embodiments, there is no object connected to the arm assembly. The arm assembly can comprise or be configured to receive a coupler mechanism configured to couple an item of the user's choosing.

FIG. 4 depicts a top-down plan view of a storage unit detailing the example arm assembly movements shown in FIG. 3D and FIG. 3E. The arm assembly 40 position corresponding to the extended position of FIG. 3D is shown in solid, and the position corresponding to the extended position of FIG. 3E is shown in phantom. In the position shown in phantom, the work surface assembly 50 can be directly in front of a user (not shown) reclining against a moveable panel (not shown) covering the forward surface of the storage unit frame 10. As shown in the position in solid, the user can move the work surface assembly 50 out of the way (for example, for sleeping) while maintaining the work surface assembly 50 in a horizontal position.

FIG. 5A, FIG. 5B, and FIG. 5C depict cross-sectional side views of an example storage unit with a moveable panel 60 coupled with the storage unit frame 10 in a closed position (FIG. 5A), an intermediate position (FIG. 5B) between an open and closed position, and an open position (FIG. 5C). In the embodiment of FIG. 5A, the moveable panel 60 is flush with and substantially completely covers the storage unit frame 10. Alternative embodiments of the moveable panel need not be flush with the storage unit frame 10 and/or need not completely cover the storage unit frame 10.

Certain embodiments comprise aesthetic considerations for panels of the storage unit like the moveable panel 60 and other panel 80 of FIG. 5A. In the embodiment of FIG. 5A, for example, the moveable panel 60 is pre-affixed with a decorative covering 75, e.g., paint, wood stain, veneer, or fabric. In certain embodiments, the decorative covering 75 covers all surfaces of the moveable panel 60. However, it need not cover all surfaces in all embodiments. In certain embodiments, the moveable panel can be customizable. The moveable panel may be adapted to receive veneers, stains, paints, or fabrics of the user's choosing or any pre-affixed veneers or fabrics, e.g., the decorative covering 75 of FIG. 5A, may be removable and/or substitutable. For example, the moveable panel can be bare, unfinished wood suitable for receiving veneers, paints, stains, and/or fabrics which complement other articles and/or décor near the moveable panel (e.g., other panels of the headboard or other furniture in a room).

In embodiment of FIG. 5A, a panel moving mechanism couples the moveable panel 60 with the storage unit frame 10. The example mechanism comprises a four-bar linkage 510 including a ground link 530, a coupler link 540, and two grounded links (namely, a top grounded link 550 and a bottom grounded link 560) located between the ground link 530 and coupler link 540. Each of the links is connected to two other links to form a closed quadrilateral loop. Specifically, each grounded link 550, 560 is pivotally coupled with the ground link 530 at one end and the coupler link 540 at the other end. In certain embodiments, the ground link 530 can be permanently coupled with of the storage unit frame 10 (e.g., welded on or machined as part of the storage unit frame 10). In certain embodiments, the ground link 530 is non-permanently coupled with the storage unit frame 10 (e.g., screwed or snapped on). In the example embodiment of FIG. 5, the ground link 530 couples with a compliant extrusion 570 on the storage unit frame 10 by screws 580.

The coupler link 540 can be coupled with the moveable panel 60 by at least one fastener 590, e.g., by a small number of standard head screws (e.g., two slotted-, Phillips-, or hexagonal-socket screws). This can permit a user to quickly and easily unscrew and decouple the moveable panel, cover it in fabric, and recouple it by replacing the screws. Any suitable fastener, however, can semi-permanently or permanently hold the moveable panel 60 to the storage unit frame 10 (e.g., a bolt, clip, snap, weld, or solder).

The coupler link 540 shown in FIGS. 5A through 5C moves upward along an opening stroke 501 and consequently moves the moveable panel 60 from a closed position (FIG. 5A) to an open position (FIG. 5C). An intermediate position in this movement is shown in FIG. 5B. In this example embodiment, the moveable panel 60 advantageously moves a relatively small distance from the storage unit frame 10 during the opening stroke, i.e., the moveable panel 60 moves within a narrow envelope. In an example embodiment, a panel 60 measuring around 21.5″ vertically moves at its greatest extent around 6.5″ horizontally from the forward portion of the storage unit frame 10. In certain embodiments, the ratio between the panel's vertical height and the greatest extent of horizontal movement is about 3:1. In other embodiments, the ratio between the panel's vertical height and the greatest extent of horizontal movement is greater than 3:1. In some embodiments, the horizontal clearance can be considered the point of greatest separation of any portion of the panel 60 from a front face of the storage unit frame 10. In one embodiment, the horizontal clearance of the panel 60 is advantageously maintained less than the vertical height of the panel 60. This arrangement enables a user to remain seated in front of the storage unit frame 10 while operating the movement mechanism 500. Other embodiments require less horizontal clearance and for such embodiments a hinge connection or other higher clearance mechanism is suitable.

A narrow envelope between the moveable panel 60 and the storage unit frame 10 in the opening stroke can be convenient for users. For example, if the storage unit is integrated with a bed headboard, and if the height of the moveable panel 60 is about 21.5″ inches as described above in connection with one embodiment, a user only needs about 6″ of clearance from the storage unit frame 10 in order to open the moveable panel 60. If the moveable panel 60 were coupled with the storage unit frame 10 by hinge connectors (not shown) at the top or side of the storage unit frame 10, then the moveable panel 60 would move through a much larger arc in its opening stroke. In the example embodiment in which the moveable panel 60 measures around 21.5″ vertically, a user requires around 21.5″ of clearance from the storage unit frame 10 frame in order to open the moveable panel 60. As mentioned above, such a hinge-connected embodiment is suitable for some applications.

Alternative mechanisms can also allow the moveable panel 60 to remain in a narrow envelope from the storage unit frame 10 during the moveable panel's 60 opening stroke. For example, the moveable panel 60 can be coupled with one or more sliding tracks on the storage unit frame 10. For example, a first sliding track (not shown) can be situated vertically along the right side of a forward portion of the storage unit frame 10. An optional second sliding track (not shown) can be situated vertically along the left side of a forward portion of the storage unit frame 10. The first and second sliding tracks can be substantially parallel to each other. The moveable panel 60 can be coupled with a translation mechanism, such as a plurality of rollers (not shown) on its left side and its right side. The translation mechanism of the moveable panel 60 can be inserted into the sliding tracks. A user exerts a force (e.g., pulls upwards) on the moveable panel 60. The force causes the translation mechanism to slide along the sliding track and allows the moveable panel 60 move upwards. In this example embodiment, the moveable panel 60 remains substantially flush with forward portion of the storage unit frame 10 during the opening stroke. In certain embodiments, a sliding track comprises one or more struts, springs, or other mechanical devices that assist the movement of the moveable panel 60. Struts are discussed in more detail below. The sliding track embodiments illustrate a very narrow movement envelope for the panel 60 and correspond to a very small horizontal clearance.

In the embodiments illustrated in FIG. 5A through 5C, the coupler link 540 remains very nearly parallel to the ground link 530 along at least a portion of the opening stroke 501 (and also along the closing stroke, not shown). A deviation from a parallel line can be expected in some embodiments. In embodiments comprising a four-bar linkage 510 in which the coupler link 540 remains substantially parallel to the ground link 530 during the opening stroke, the moveable panel 60 advantageously moves in a predictable stroke so that a user can gauge and predict the moveable panel's 60 range of movement relative to the storage unit frame 10. This can make the storage unit safer to use for first-time users or infrequent users like hotel guests. However, the four-bar linkage 510 need not be configured to keep the coupler link 540 parallel to the ground link 530 along the opening and/or closing stroke. Other types of four-bar linkages as known in the art may also be suitable. For example, the four-bar linkage 510 can be configured to tilt the coupler link 540 and moveable panel 60 as they move from a closed position to an open position.

The embodiment shown in FIG. 5A through 5C comprises a suitable movement assisting mechanism, such as a pneumatic strut with a piston 512 and cylinder 511. The piston 512 couples with the storage unit frame 10 (e.g., screws 584 onto a complementary extrusion 570 welded or machined onto the storage unit frame 10), and the cylinder 511 couples with (e.g., by screws 588) the top grounded link 550.

The strut 520 can be used to assist the movement of the four-bar linkage 510 or to support the moveable panel 60 or both. In certain embodiments, the strut 520 is configured to assist the movement of the four-bar linkage 510. For example, a user can pull up on the moveable panel 60, thereby engaging rotation in the four-bar linkage 510 and engaging movement of the piston 512 in the cylinder 511. If the user releases the moveable panel 60 at the position of FIG. 4B (e.g., in a partially open position), the strut 520 can in certain embodiments continue to push the four-bar linkage 510 and moveable panel 60 to an open position (FIG. 5C).

The strut 520 can also be configured to support the four-bar linkage 510 and moveable panel 60 at one or more positions along the opening stroke or closing stroke. A user can, for example, grasp the moveable panel 60, move it upward to the position of FIG. 5B, and release his or her grasp of the moveable surface 60. The strut 520 will maintain the position of the panel 60. Thus, if the user releases the moveable panel 60 in the middle of the opening or closing stroke, the moveable panel 60 will not suddenly swing shut. In certain embodiments, the strut 520 supports the moveable surface panel 60 at the top of the opening stroke. This advantageously permits a user to extend and position an arm assembly and/or work surface assembly (neither shown) stored inside the storage unit frame 10 without having to simultaneously hold the moveable panel 60 in the open position. In certain embodiments, the strut 520 supports the moveable surface panel 60 during the opening stroke. In certain embodiments, the strut 520 supports the moveable surface panel 60 during the closing stroke.

Struts other than the type shown in FIGS. 5A-5C may be suitable in various embodiments. In addition to or in place of a pneumatic strut, fluid struts, mechanical struts and springs, or other mechanical supports (e.g., levers) may also be suitable in certain embodiments. Further, the strut may be configured in alternate configurations. In certain embodiments, the piston 512 couples with the top grounded link 550 while the cylinder 511 couples with the bottom grounded link 540. In other embodiments, the piston 512 couples with the bottom grounded link 540 while the cylinder 511 couples with the top grounded link 550. The strut 520 can also in certain embodiments be a hinge coupler and couple the storage unit frame 10 directly to the moveable panel 60. In certain embodiments, the four-bar linkage assembly 500 (or other suitable coupler between the panel 60 and the storage unit frame 10) comprises a motor assembly. The motor assembly assists the movement of the moveable panel and/or supports it in an open or partially opened position.

A detailed perspective view of the four-bar linkage assembly 500 of FIGS. 5A through 5C is provided in FIGS. 6A and 6B. FIG. 6A depicts the configuration of the four-bar linkage assembly 500 corresponding to the situation when the moveable panel (not shown) is in a closed position (e.g., shown in FIG. 5A). FIG. 6B corresponds to the situation when the moveable panel moves to an opened position (e.g., shown in FIG. 5B). The configuration of the top 550 and bottom 560 grounded links permit the coupler link 540 to remain substantially parallel to the ground link 530 during the opening stroke.

FIG. 7 is a perspective exploded view of an example storage unit. A pair of four-bar linkage assemblies 500 is coupled with the storage unit frame 10. A mounting surface 610 is coupled with the coupler links 540. A brace 620 is coupled with the top grounded links 550, and a moveable panel 60 couples with the mounting surface 610. In this way, the moveable panel 60 is coupled to the storage unit frame 10.

The mounting surface 610 can facilitate the decoupling and recoupling of the moveable panel 60. Other embodiments do not include a mounting surface, and the moveable panel is coupled directly to one or more four-bar linkages 510 or other suitable connector(s). The brace 620 reinforces the four-bar linkages 510. Other embodiments do not include a brace 620 if, for example, reinforcement is not needed.

An arm assembly 40 and work surface assembly 50 are also coupled to the storage unit frame 10. The arm assembly 40 comprises a first extension arm 41 and a second extension arm 42 connected by a second pivot connector 312. The first extension arm 41 couples with a first pivot connector 308. The first pivot connector 308 comprises a bracket 710 with a top surface 720 and a bottom surface 730. The second extension arm 42 of the arm assembly 40 is inserted between the top surface 720 and bottom surface 730. A pin 740 is inserted through a hole 760 in the top surface 720, and the pin passes through a complementary hole 750 in the first extension arm 41. The head of the pin 740 rests in a groove 770 in the bottom surface 730. Certain embodiments do not include the bottom surface 730 of the bracket 710. The first pivot connector 308 couples with the storage unit frame 10. In this way, the arm assembly 40 is coupled with the storage unit frame 10. The work surface assembly 50 couples with the second extension arm 42 of the arm assembly 40.

Alternative configurations are suitable for the first pivot connector 308. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 7, the first pivot connector 308 is inserted such that the back of the bracket 710 faces the back face of the storage unit frame 10. Alternatively, the back of the bracket 710 may face a side of the storage unit frame 10, for example, the side 800 shown in FIG. 7. A removable and repositionable bracket 710 is advantageous in certain embodiments because it allows the arm assembly 40 to be located in other portions (e.g., corners) of the storage unit frame 10 without having to customize permanent coupling points on the storage unit frame 10. For example, if two storage units were incorporated in a headboard, a left-side swivel connector could be coupled with the lower-left corner of the first storage unit frame and the first storage unit placed on the left side of the headboard. A right-side swivel connector could then be coupled with the lower-right corner of an identical, rotated second storage unit frame and the second storage unit placed on the right side of the headboard. This configuration allows a manufacturer to machine large numbers of identical storage units frames. This configuration also allows users to adapt these storage unit frames for their own purposes and attach one or more extension assemblies in nearly any place within the storage unit frame in nearly any configuration. Nevertheless, coupling points (e.g., resembling the bottom surface 730 and/or the top surface 720 of the bracket 710) can be permanently coupled with the storage unit frame 10 (e.g., welded or machined) in certain embodiments.

FIG. 8 depicts a detailed perspective view of the first pivot connector 308 discussed above with respect to FIG. 7. The first pivot connector 308 comprises a bracket 710 with a top surface 720 and a bottom surface 730. A retaining pin 740 is inserted through a hole 760 in the top surface 720. A bottom retaining ring 790 rests in a groove 770 in the bottom surface 730. The head of the pin 740 rests in the bottom retaining ring 790. A top retaining ring 780 is inserted into the hole 760 in the top surface 720 and caps the other head of the pin 740. In certain embodiments, the top retaining ring 780 and the bottom retaining ring 790 facilitate a snug fit of the pin 740 within the hole 760 in the top surface 720 and groove 770 in the bottom surface 730 and/or smooth rotation of the pin 740. In certain embodiments, first pivot connector 308 comprises a rotation limiter. For example, the top retaining ring 780 and/or the bottom retaining ring 790 can limit the rotation of the first extension arm (not shown) when it is coupled with the first pivot connector 308. If an object (e.g., a nightstand) is placed next to a storage unit and the first pivot connector 308 did not include a rotation limiter, the first extension arm could swivel farther than desired and strike the nightstand or upset items placed on top of it. The rotation limiter thus advantageously protects an object placed next to a storage unit. In certain embodiments, the rotation limiter also prevents the arm assembly from rotating out of easy reach of a user. In certain embodiments, the rotation limiter prevents the extension arms in the arm assembly from creating a pinch point. The top retaining ring 780 and/or the bottom retaining ring 790 are not present in certain embodiments.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an example arm assembly 40 in an extended position. The arm assembly comprises a first extension arm 41 and a second extension arm 42 connected by a second pivot connector 312. The first extension arm 41 has a hole 750 facilitating connection of the first extension arm 41 to a first pivot connector (not shown). A work surface assembly 50 is coupled with the second extension arm 42. In certain embodiments, the work surface assembly 50 comprises a locking mechanism that allows the tray to be maintained in one or more positions. For example, the locking mechanism can maintain the work surface assembly 50 in a horizontal position suitable, for example, for use with a laptop computer and an angled position suitable, for example, for reading. The work surface assembly 50 is shown in a horizontally deployed position. An angled deployed position is shown in phantom. An arrow 502 indicates that a user can move the work surface assembly 50 from the horizontally deployed position to an angled position by releasing a locking mechanism (if present), exerting a force on the work surface assembly (e.g., pulling or pushing), and re-locking the assembly in the angled position.

FIG. 10 depicts a top-down plan view of a storage unit showing the rotation of a work surface assembly 50 coupled with an arm assembly 40. A first horizontally deployed position of the work surface assembly 50 is shown in solid lines. A position corresponding to 90° of rotation is shown in phantom lines. Because the work surface assembly 50 is connected to the second extension arm 42 by a swivel connector (not shown), this example configuration permits a wide variety of rotational positions for the work surface assembly 50. In certain embodiments, the swivel connector (not shown) between the second extension arm 42 and the work surface assembly 50 comprises a rotation limiting mechanism that limit the rotation of the work surface assembly 50.

FIG. 11 is a bottom perspective view of an example arm assembly 40 and work surface assembly 50. In the embodiment shown, a hole 750 in the first extension arm 41 of the arm assembly 40 couples the first extension arm with a first pivot connector coupled with the storage unit frame (not shown). A second pivot connector 312 couples the first extension arm 41 to the second extension arm 42 of the arm assembly 40.

The embodiment shown further comprises a rotation limiting device 820 inserted into the second pivot connector 312 and secured with a screw 830. The rotation limiting device 820 restricts the rotation range of the second extension arm 42. The device 820 shown includes a plug stop with a bar 804 that rests in a complementary groove 850 within the second pivot connector 312. The second pivot connector 312 comprises a C-shaped limiting ring 860. The second pivot connector 312 rotates when the bar 804 is within the open areas of the C-shape ring 860. The second pivot connector 312 stops rotating when the bar 804 abuts the solid part of the C-shape ring 860. The rotation limiting device 820 may advantageously prevent the arm assembly 40 from knocking over objects on, for example, a bedside table if it is accidentally bumped when a user is arising from bed.

A pivot connector 870 couples the work surface assembly 50 to the second extension arm 42. As described above with respect to the first 308 and second pivot 312 connectors, the pivot connector 870 shown in FIG. 11 is an optional embodiment of a suitable swivel connector. Other kinds of swivel connectors that can move through multiple degrees of freedom can be used in various embodiments. In certain embodiments the swivel connector comprises a pivot connector, ball-and-socket connector, hinge connector, or combinations thereof. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 11, the pivot connector 870 and the second pivot connector 312 comprise pivot connectors in the same rotational plane. In other embodiments, the swivel connector can be replaced with another suitable coupling mechanism that provides a suitable amount of support to an item that a user chooses to couple with the extension mechanism. In certain embodiments, the suitable coupling mechanism can comprise a stationary connector.

In the embodiment shown, the pivot connector 870 is coupled with a mounting assembly 874 (described in more detail below) which is coupled with a tray 55. The mounting assembly 874 is not present in certain embodiments, e.g., the pivot connector 870 can couple the tray 55 directly to the arm assembly 40. A rotation limiting device 878 similar to the one described for the second pivot connector 312 above restricts the rotation range of the work surface assembly 50. This may advantageously prevent the work surface assembly from over-rotating if it is accidentally bumped while a user has items like food, a beverage, or a laptop computer resting on the work surface assembly 50. Rotation limiting devices need not be used in conjunction with either the work surface assembly 50 or the arm assembly 40. Moreover, alternative mechanisms for limiting rotation can be used.

A mounting assembly 874 on the work surface assembly 50 comprises an attachment portion 886 and a limiter portion 890 connected by at least one hinge 894. The attachment portion 887 is coupled with the second extension arm 42 by the pivot connector 870. When the tray 55 is in a vertical stored position (not shown), the limiter portion 890 abuts the second extension arm 42, limiting the rotation of the hinge(s) 894 and maintaining the tray 55 in an approximately vertical position. Some deviation from a straight line is to be expected. The limiter portion 890 is coupled with a plate 895 mounted to the tray 55 by screws 898.

The work surface assembly 50 comprises a locking mechanism 882 for the mounting assembly 874. A pull-catch assembly 898 with a handle 992 and catch (not shown) mounts over the plate 895. The attachment portion 886 has a lip (not shown) which complements the catch. When the tray 55 is pressed down into a horizontal position, the attachment portion 886 abuts the plate 895. The lip snaps into the catch, maintaining the tray 55 in a horizontally deployed position. To move the tray 55 back to a vertical stored position, a user pulls on the handle 992 to release the lip from the catch and exerts a force (e.g., pushes) on the tray 55.

FIG. 12 is a bottom perspective exploded view of an example work surface assembly. The mounting assembly 890 described in conjunction with FIG. 11 is shown here in more detail. The limiter portion 890 has a cover 996 and is coupled with the plate 895. The plate 895 is mounted to the tray 55. A pull-catch assembly 898 with a handle 992 and catch 1000 mounts over the plate 895. The attachment portion 886 has a lip 1004 which complements the catch 1000. A rim 1008 surrounds the tray 55 in certain embodiments. The rim 1008 can be aesthetic (e.g., a decorative ring of veneer or plastic) and/or it can serve a functional purpose (e.g., maintaining items places on the top surface of the tray 55). The rim is not present in certain embodiments.

FIGS. 13A and 13B are perspective views of an example storage unit frame 10. A support portion 1012 is provided in certain embodiments. The support portion 1012 can provide additional support and/or coupling locations for a swivel connector or other coupling assembly (not shown) that couples an extension assembly with the storage unit frame. However, the support portion is not present in certain embodiments. For example, a swivel assembly can be mounted to a side or other portion of the storage unit frame 10.

The storage unit frame 10 can be integrated into a storage unit for use in a bed headboard. In the configuration shown in FIG. 13A, for example, a user can couple a swivel connector in the lower left corner of the storage unit frame 10. If a user desires to integrate a second storage unit into a bed headboard, for example, a king-size bed headboard, then a user can provide a second storage unit frame in the configuration of FIG. 13A, turn it upside down, that is, rotate the storage unit frame 10 180°, and couple another swivel connector in the lower right corner of the rotated frame. The lower-right corner of the rotated frame 10 is equivalent to the upper-left corner of the storage unit frame 10 in the configuration of FIG. 13A. Certain embodiments allow a swivel connector and/or extension assembly to be mounted to any portion of the storage unit frame 10.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a structural portion of a storage unit frame 10 illustrating a cleat bracket 1016 for installing the storage unit frame 10 on an upright construction (not shown). The cleat bracket 1016 catches in a complementary groove 1020 near the top surface 80 of the storage unit frame 10. In certain embodiments, a paper, fabric, or plastic guide in the shape of storage unit frame can be provided to assist the mounting process on the upright construction. For example, a paper guide can be pre-printed with optimal fastener locations and/or the cleat bracket location marked. A user can place the paper guide on a wall to help envision how the storage unit will appear when mounted to the wall and to assist in the mounting process. In certain embodiments, the groove 1020 is located on other portions of the storage unit frame 10. Alternative embodiments can use other techniques (e.g., screws, nails, bolts, glue, hooks, etc.) for mounting the storage unit frame 10 to an upright construction. Further, the storage unit frame 10 can be mounted to other constructions, e.g., a floor, a desk, a cabinet, a spacing or support unit, or a chair. It can be supported from the top, bottom, or any side. In certain embodiments, the storage unit frame 10 need not be mounted.

FIG. 15 shows a side plan view of a storage unit frame mounted on a cleat bracket 1016. The cleat bracket 1016 is screwed 1024 into an upright construction 1028 (e.g., a wall). The cleat bracket 1016 catches in a complementary groove 1020 near the top surface 80 of the storage unit frame.

A wide variety of variations are possible. Components may be added, removed, or reordered. Different components may be substituted out. The arrangement and configuration may be different. Similarly, processing steps may be added or removed, or reordered.

Although these inventions have been disclosed in the context of certain preferred embodiments and examples, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the present inventions extend beyond the specifically disclosed embodiments to other alternative embodiments and/or uses of the inventions and obvious modifications and equivalents thereof. In addition, while several variations of the inventions have been shown and described in detail, other modifications, which are within the scope of these inventions, will be readily apparent to those of skill in the art based upon this disclosure. It is also contemplated that various combinations or sub-combinations of the specific features and aspects of the embodiments may be made and still fall within the scope of the inventions. It should be understood that various features and aspects of the disclosed embodiments can be combined with, or substituted for, one another in order to form varying modes of the disclosed inventions. Thus, it is intended that the scope of the present inventions herein disclosed should not be limited by the particular disclosed embodiments described above or below.