Title:
MODULAR FRAME
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular frame adapted in use to define a recreational area in a body of water, said frame adapted to remain fixed in position within the body of water.



Inventors:
Fay, John Dean (Auckland, NZ)
Application Number:
12/160746
Publication Date:
09/03/2009
Filing Date:
01/12/2007
Assignee:
KIWI OFFSHORE POOLS LIMITED (Herne Bay, Auckland, NZ)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H4/14
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
AGUDELO, PAOLA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIXON PEABODY, LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:
1. A modular frame adapted in use to define a recreational area in a body of water, said frame adapted to remain substantially fixed in position within the body of water.

2. A modular frame according to claim 1, wherein the frame is adapted to float on the surface, partially float above the surface or substantially align with the surface of the body of water.

3. A modular frame according to claim 1, wherein the frame includes a plurality of substantially regular connectable buoyant units.

4. A modular frame according to claim 3, wherein the connectable buoyant units are buoyant blocks.

5. A modular frame according to claim 4, wherein the buoyant blocks are connected end to end to form the frame.

6. A modular frame according to claim 4, wherein the frame may include a plurality of side blocks and corner blocks.

7. A modular frame according to claim 4, wherein the buoyant blocks are connected end to end by rope, chains, wire, bolts, nails, glue, welding or the like.

8. A modular frame according to claim 4, wherein the frame includes at least two sides of connected buoyant blocks.

9. A modular frame according to claim 8, wherein the sides are parallel and spaced apart.

10. A modular frame according to claim 9, wherein the parallel sides are connected by connecting members stretched between the sides from opposite ends of each side.

11. A modular frame according to claim 10, wherein the connecting members include lane ropes, wires, cables or the like.

12. A modular frame according to claim 1, wherein the frame may be located in the sea, a lake or a river.

13. A modular frame according to claim 12, wherein the frame size is predetermined by the size of the body of water.

14. A modular frame according to claim 12, wherein the frame is anchored within the body of water.

15. A modular frame according to claim 12, wherein the body of water is a natural or man-made body of water.

16. A modular frame according to claim 14, wherein the frame is fixed in position within the body of water by at least one anchor which is connected to the frame.

17. A modular frame according to claim 16, wherein the frame remains fixed in position by anchoring at each corner.

18. A modular frame according to claim 4, wherein the buoyant blocks are constructed from a buoyant material capable of floating on water.

19. A modular frame according to claim 18, wherein the buoyant material includes plastics material, wood, steel, rubber or the like.

20. A modular frame according to claim 19, wherein the buoyant material is polystyrene foam.

21. A modular frame according to claim 4, wherein each buoyant block includes reinforcing along each edge of the block.

22. A modular frame adapted in use to define a safe zone in a body of water, the frame adapted to remain substantially fixed in a predetermined location within the body of water.

23. A modular frame according to claim 22, wherein the safe zone is the water within the perimeter of the frame.

24. A modular frame according to claim 21, wherein the modular frame includes a 5 plurality of regular connectable buoyant blocks.

25. A buoyant block for a modular frame which includes: a body having two ends and formed at least in part from a buoyant material; and a connecting means provided at each end of the body and adapted to allow the block to be connected to a like block.

26. A buoyant block according to claim 25, wherein the buoyant material includes a plastics material.

27. A buoyant block according to claim 25, wherein the buoyant blocks in use are adapted to float on the surface, partially float above the surface or substantially align with the surface of the water.

28. A kit of parts for assembling a frame which in use defines a recreational area in a body of water, including at least two buoyant connectable blocks.

29. A kit of parts according to claim 28, wherein the kit includes a pair of connecting members.

30. A kit of parts according to claim 29, wherein the connecting members include lane ropes, wires or the like.

31. A method of defining a safe zone in a body of water, the method including the steps of connecting together regular connectable buoyant modular units to form a frame, and anchoring the frame at a predetermined safe location within the body of water.

32. A method of defining a safe zone according to claim 31, wherein the safe zone is 35 the water within the perimeter of the frame.

33. (canceled)

34. (canceled)

35. (canceled)

36. (canceled)

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a modular frame. The present invention also provides a method of defining a safe zone in a body of water.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

Naturally occurring or man-made bodies of water are not always suitable for swimming in for various reasons. For example, a seashore may have rips which drags unsuspecting swimmers out into deeper waters. Sea swimmers may also be at risk from sharks, stringrays and other sea creatures if they stray into deep waters.

For these reasons, some bodies of water which could be used for recreational or swimming activities are avoided.

Another disadvantage of swimming in natural or man-made bodies of water is that it can be difficult to record with accuracy the time and speed of a swimmer because there is no readily available point of reference, such as swimming pool walls.

Many people prefer the confinement of a swimming pool for reasons mentioned above Traditionally, swimming pools are sunken into or rest upon the ground. Some swimming pools are, however, adapted for use in existing bodies of water, such as lakes or the sea.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,145,770 illustrates a pool adapted for us in an existing body of water. The pool described includes sides, walls and a bottom section. Unfortunately the pool provides a large number of parts to be assembled and disassembled and accordingly disassembly is relatively time consuming.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,638,556 and U.S. Pat. No. 4,087,870 also illustrate a type of floating swimming pool. It also possesses a rigid floor making disassembly time-consuming.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,135,256 illustrates a swimming pool designed as a cage to be mounted to a floating ship or barge. It is not a stand alone structure and possesses a bottom surface or floor.

The reference to any prior art in the specification is not, and should not be taken as an acknowledgement, or any form of suggestion, that the prior art forms part of the common general knowledge in any country.

The term “modular” used herein describes a frame consisting of a plurality of discrete units.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a modular frame and/or to at least provide the public with a useful choice.

It is a further or alternative object of the present invention to provide a method of defining a safe zone in a body of water.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of this invention there is provided a modular frame adapted in use to define a recreational area in a body of water, said frame adapted to remain substantially fixed in position within the body of water.

Preferably the frame is adapted to float on the surface, partially float above the surface or substantially align with the surface of the body of water.

Preferably the frame includes a plurality of substantially regular connectable buoyant units.

Preferably the connectable buoyant units are buoyant blocks.

Preferably the buoyant blocks are connected end to end to form the frame.

Preferably the frame may include a plurality of side blocks and corner blocks.

Preferably the buoyant blocks are connected end to end by rope, chains, wire, bolts, nails, glue, welding or the like.

Preferably the frame includes at least two sides of connected buoyant blocks.

Preferably the sides are parallel and spaced apart.

Preferably the parallel sides are connected by connecting members stretched between the sides from opposite ends of each side.

Preferably the connecting members include lane ropes, wires, cables or the like.

Preferably the frame may be located in the sea, a lake or a river.

Preferably the frame size is predetermined by the size of the body of water.

Preferably the frame is anchored within the body of water.

Preferably the body of water is a natural or man-made body of water.

Preferably the frame is fixed in position within the body of water by at least one anchor which is connected to the frame.

Preferably the frame remains fixed in position by anchoring at each corner.

Preferably the buoyant blocks are constructed from a buoyant material capable of floating on water.

Preferably the buoyant material includes plastics material, wood, steel, rubber or the like.

Preferably the buoyant material is polystyrene foam.

Preferably each buoyant block includes reinforcing along each edge of the block.

According to a further aspect of this invention there is provided a modular frame adapted in use to define a safe zone in a body of water, the frame adapted to remain substantially fixed in a predetermined location within the body of water.

Preferably the safe zone is the water within the perimeter of the frame.

Preferably the modular frame includes a plurality of regular connectable buoyant blocks.

According to a further aspect of this invention there is provided a buoyant block for a modular frame which includes:

    • a body having two ends and formed at least in part from a buoyant material; and
    • a connecting means provided at each end of the body and adapted to allow the block to be connected to a like block.

Preferably the buoyant material includes a plastics material.

Preferably the buoyant blocks in use are adapted to float on the surface, partially float above the surface or substantially align with the surface of the water.

According to a further aspect of this invention there is provided a kit of parts for assembling a frame which in use defines a recreational area in a body of water, including at least two buoyant connectable blocks.

Preferably the kit includes a pair of connecting members.

Preferably, the connecting members include lane ropes, wires or the like.

According to a further aspect of this invention there is provided a method of defining a safe zone in a body of water, the method including the steps of connecting together regular connectable buoyant modular units to form a frame, and anchoring the frame at a predetermined safe location within the body of water.

Preferably the safe zone is the water within the perimeter of the frame.

According to a further aspect of this invention there is provided a modular frame substantially as herein described with reference to any one of the Figures.

According to a further aspect of this invention there is provided a buoyant block substantially as herein described with reference to any one of the Figures.

According to a further aspect of this invention there is provided a kit of parts substantially as herein described with reference to any one of the Figures.

According to a further aspect of this invention there is provided a method of defining a safe zone in a body of water substantially as herein described with reference to any one of the Figures.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will now be described by example and with reference to a preferred embodiment, in which the Figures in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a plan perspective view of a modular frame of the preferred embodiment;

FIG. 2 illustrates a plan view of the frame of FIG. 1 having two recreational areas;

FIG. 3 illustrates an exploded view (a to c) and a transparent plan perspective view (d) of a buoyant block of the frame of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 illustrates an exploded view (a to c) and plan perspective views (d and e) of a corner buoyant block of the frame of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 illustrates a side elevation of the frame of FIG. 1 including an optional net;

FIG. 6 illustrates a plan perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 illustrates a plan perspective view of the alternative embodiment of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 illustrates a plan view of the alternative embodiment of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 illustrates a plan perspective view of the alternative embodiment of FIG. 6; and

FIG. 10 illustrates a plan view of the alternative embodiment of FIG. 9.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Reference is made throughout the specification to the term “modular frame”. The term “modular” refers to the sectional or collapsible nature of the frame, such that it can be collapsed into smaller discrete units for easy storage, handling and/or movement.

Referring to FIG. 1, a plan perspective view of a preferred embodiment of a modular frame assembly 1 is illustrated. The modular frame assembly 1 (hereinafter “the frame”) is adapted in use to define a recreational area 2 within a body of water 3. The body of water may include a natural or man-made body of water 3 such as a lake, river or sea. The frame 1 generally floats on the surface of the body of water 3 in a predetermined safe location. The recreational area 2 is substantially defined by the perimeter of the frame 1 on the surface of the water.

The recreational area 2 may be used as a swimming area, a play area or the like. The location of the frame 1, and therefore position of the recreational area 2, may be predetermined before locating the frame 1 within the body of water 3. The location of the recreational area 2 may be selected on the basis of safety considerations. A “safe zone” for the frame 1 may be decided by local authorities, for example, before locating the frame 1 within the body of water 3. Preferably a “safe zone” has reduced likelihood of shark attacks, rips and the like dangers.

The recreational area 2 is quadrilateral in shape. It will be appreciated however that the frame 1 may be provided in any particular shape or size depending on the particular requirements of a user. There are certain advantages in a rectangular or square frame 1, for example, it is easier to divide the recreational area 2 into lanes for swimming by lane markers or ropes to allow for swimming and/or timed swimming.

The frame 1 includes a plurality of buoyant units or blocks 4 which, when connected, define the recreational area 2. The buoyant blocks 4 (hereinafter “the blocks 4”) include corner or square blocks 4a and side or rectangular blocks 4b as shown in FIG. 1 to allow construction of a quadrilateral frame 1. Each block 4 is connectable to at least one other block 4 and more preferably each block 4 is connectable to two blocks 4. It will be appreciated that the blocks 4 may be provided in various shapes and sizes to modify the overall shape or appearance of the frame 1 and thus the shape of the recreational area 2. For example the blocks 4 could be S-shaped.

The frame 1 is defined by rectangular blocks 4b along the side portions 5 of the frame 1 and square blocks 4a at the corners 6 of the frame 1.

The blocks 4 are connected end to end to form the square/rectangular frame 1. However an alternative embodiment of the invention provides a frame 1 where a parallel pair of blocks is spaced apart from each other. A pair of connecting members is stretched between the pair of blocks 4 to define the recreational area 2. This will be described below with reference to FIGS. 6 to 10.

Each block 4 has a body formed from a buoyant material 12 capable of generally floating on the surface, at least partially above the surface or substantially aligned with the surface of the body of water 3 to define the parameter of the frame 1 in use. In the preferred embodiment the buoyant material 12 is a plastics material, such as polystyrene foam or other plastics materials. The plastics material could be covered with a layer of concrete to strengthen the rigidity of each block, although this may hinder easy dismantling of the frame 1 and transportation of the blocks 4. Other materials such as wood, steel or rubber may be used to provide the buoyant material 12 and/or block 4 generally.

Each block 4 is reinforced by reinforcing members 7 which are located along the edges of the block 4, as is better seen in FIG. 3. This will be described in detail below.

The frame 1 is adapted to remain fixed in a predetermined location or position within the body of water 3. The frame 1 is anchored by anchors (not shown in FIG. 1), connected by rope, wire or the like 9, to the sea, river or lake bed. The anchors could be permanently or temporarily located on the sea, river or lake bed. The anchors are connected to the frame via the corner blocks 4a. This maintains the frame 1 in the predetermined “safe zone” location in the body of water 3. Of course the anchors could be connected to the frame 1 via the side blocks 4b or by a combination of side and corner blocks 4a, 4b.

Referring to FIG. 2, this plan view shows a frame 1 which defines two recreational area 2. One recreational area 2 is divided by lane markers 11 to form a swimming area 20. The other recreational area 2 provides a “play area” 10 formed partially from a section of the frame 1 defining the main swimming area 20. The play area 10 is square and formed by a plurality of blocks 4a, 4b.

The advantage of the present invention is that the block 4 may be connected to construct any particular shape of recreational area 2 within a larger body of water 3.

Referring to FIG. 3, an exploded view of a side or rectangular block 4b is shown. FIG. 3a shows the cover surface 8 which sits above or substantially aligned with the water surface in use. The cover surface 8 is located within the reinforcing members 7 which form a cage around the buoyant material 12 (see FIG. 3b). The cover surface 8 is made from polyester marine carpet available from any boat chandler. The cover surface could extend around the sides of the block in some embodiments of the invention.

The reinforcing members 7 are designed to protect the buoyant material 12 from damage. As mentioned above the buoyant material 12 may include foam, steel, wood etc. Preferably the reinforcing members 7 are made from a metal alloy or aluminium.

The buoyant material 12 is preferably selected from a plastics material such as a foam. The buoyant material 12 includes semi-circular indentations 21 at opposite ends of the body which are adapted allow connection of the blocks 4b to another block 4a, 4b.

FIG. 3d illustrates a transparent plan perspective view from one end of a fully constructed block 4b. The buoyant material 12 can be seen encased or caged by the reinforcing members 7. At each end of the block 4b is provided the semi-circular indentations 21 in the buoyant material 12 which assists in connecting two blocks 4 together. The indentations 21 allow a human arm to project down into the block to allow the blocks 4 to be connected.

FIG. 4 illustrates an exploded view of a corner block 4a. The corner block 4a also includes a cover surface 8 which is adapted to protect the upper surface of the buoyant material 12 (see FIG. 4a). The cover surface 8 is also composed from polyester marine carpet. The buoyant material 12 is also encased or caged by the reinforcing members 7 which are adapted to extend along each edge of the buoyant material 12 to prevent or reduce damage to the buoyant material 12 (see FIG. 4b). The buoyant material 12 includes the semi-circular indentations 21 in each side of the buoyant material 12 to allow the blocks 4a to be connected from all four sides.

The blocks 4 may include optional features to assist the user. For example the blocks 4 could include O-hooks on the sides of the blocks 4 to allow connection with a lane marker or rope, for example. Furthermore the under surface of each block (opposite face to the cover surface 8 face) may include hooks to allow nets to be connected as will be described below with reference to FIG. 5.

The blocks 4 provide a connecting means at each end of the body of the block 4. The connecting means are adapted to connect one block 4 to another. Of course corner/square blocks 4a may include a connecting means on every side of the block to assist their optional function as a junction point between perpendicular sides of the frame 1 (as is seen in FIGS. 4d and 4e).

A connecting means may include a threaded bolt which extend from the block 4 to mate with a connecting means of another block and/or otherwise allow the blocks to be connected. Thus each block 4 preferably includes (1) a connecting means adapted to receive the projecting connector of another block; and (2) a connecting means which projects outwardly from the block 4 to connect with another block.

The semi-circular indentations 21 in the buoyant material 12 allow users to attach or disconnect the blocks 4 more easily.

Alternatively, the connecting means may include apertures or bores which extend longitudinally through each block 4 to allow the blocks 4 to be threaded onto a rope, chain or the like.

In a further alternative, chains could extend from each end of the block 4. The chains could be drawn together and locked to secure one block to another.

Alternatively the blocks 4 or sections of blocks could be glued, welded or otherwise affixed together to form a semi-permanent frame 1.

A variety of methods for connecting the blocks 4 will be known to those skilled in the art. A blocks 4 may be connected to another block temporarily or semi-permanently by rope, chains, wire, bolts, nails, glue, welding or the like.

FIG. 5 illustrates a side elevation of the frame 1 of FIG. 1. The frame 1 includes a plurality of connected modular blocks 4. Each block 4 is buoyant and floats on the surface of the water 3. Drifting from beneath the frame 1 is a net 16, which is adapted to prevent sea creatures (eg sharks or stingrays), seaweed and other undesirable objects floating into the recreational area 2 (not visible). The net 16 may extend downwardly from the under surface 28 of the blocks of the frame.

In FIG. 5, the net is shown as a net panel downwardly projecting from one side of the frame 1. Although it will be appreciated that to be effective nets 16 should extend downwardly from each side of the frame 1. Preferably the nets 16 are formed from a polypropylene woven material, although other suitable materials may be used which will be known to a person skilled in the art. Two weights 17 are connected to the net 16 to ensure that the net 16 projects downwardly in the water from the frame 1 and does not drift upwards into the recreational area (invisible in FIG. 5).

Thus, the undersurface of the blocks 4 may be adapted to all engagement with the nets by known methods (e.g. O-Hooks).

The nets 16 may include a netting base (not visible in FIG. 5) to prevent sea creatures entering the recreational area 2 from directly beneath the frame 1. The net base interconnects the side net panels 16 which extend downwardly, thereby forming a caged net beneath the frame 1. Alternatively the side net panels 16 may all be tied together towards the bottom to form an underwater net cone.

It will be appreciated that the nets 16 are not essential to the overall working of the invention, but is an optional feature of the present invention which may improve the overall safety of the device by reducing the likelihood of sea creatures straying into the recreational area 2.

In an alternative embodiment the frame may be formed from at least two spaced apart blocks 4, or a pair of spaced apart sets of connected blocks 4. The spaced apart blocks 4, or sets of spaced apart blocks 4, are connected by a pair of connecting members to form the frame 1.

FIGS. 6 to 10 illustrates this alternative embodiment of the present invention.

In this alternative embodiment, the two blocks 4 are anchored at some distance from each other in the body of water 3. The recreational area 2 is defined by the two spaced apart blocks 4 and by a pair of lane ropes, wires or any other connecting members 19 stretched between the two blocks 4 to form the recreational area 2. Each block 4, which is spaced apart, is anchored from each of its four edges to the sea floor to maintain the frame 1 in the predetermined location, although tethering the block 4 by all four edges is not essential. Preferably the length of the block 4 represents a standard width of a swimming lane in a swimming pool.

FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate the frame 1 constructed using the alternative embodiment. Five blocks 4b are connected together (end to end) to form a set of blocks. The set of blocks are anchored within the body of water 3. Another set of five blocks 4b are connected together to form a set and are anchored some distance from the first set of blocks 4b. The connecting members 19 such as ropes, wires, lane ropes or the like are stretched between the two sets of connected blocks 4 to define the frame 1 and form a recreational area 2 divided into lanes.

The size of the swimming area 2 can be extended by the addition of another block 4b to far ends of the outer blocks. FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate a frame 1 having a ten lane recreational area 2.

The invention also provides a kit of parts for assembling a frame which in use defines a swimming area 2. The kit at least includes two buoyant blocks 4 to construct the embodiment of FIG. 6, but more preferably includes a plurality of blocks 4.

The present invention also provides a method of defining a “safe zone” within a body of water. A safe zone is a recreational area 2 in a greater body of water 3 which may be safer for water users by providing a parameter within the body of water. The method includes connecting together substantially regular connectable buoyant modular units (or blocks 4) to form a frame 2 and anchoring the frame within the body of water. Sea creatures (sharks, sting rays and the like) may be excluded by the use of nets beneath the frame 1.

The advantage of the present invention is that the modular nature of the frame 1 means that it may be easily moved, from location to location.

In addition, the frame 1 may be collapsed to blocks 4 or sections of blocks 4 which can be stored for future use, transport, or reconstructed elsewhere. Furthermore the frame may be constructed or reconstructed in various alternative shapes, thereby modifying the shape of the recreational area 2. The present invention may be stored on land or on boats. An advantage of the present invention is that it is light and may be easily taken on private pleasure vessels. When the vessel is moored or anchored the frame 1 can be easily constructed along side the vessel to improve enjoyment and safety for people who chose to swim in the recreational area.

Where in the foregoing description reference has been made to specific components or integers of the invention having known equivalents then such equivalents are herein incorporated as if individually set forth.

Although this invention has been described by way of example and with reference to possible embodiments thereof, it is to be understood that modifications or improvements may be made thereto without departing from the scope of the invention.