Title:
APPARATUS FOR WRAPPING AROUND ONE OR MORE TARGET OBJECTS FOR GRIPPING, AS A HANGING STRUCTURE AND/OR TO PROVIDE AN EXTENSION
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An apparatus is proposed that facilitates wrapping around one or more target objects for gripping, as a handle and/or to provide an extension. A flexible structure (e.g., formed of rubber or other suitable material) including a handle portion and a loop engages a target by pulling the handle through the loop and thereby cinch a target into place. In certain embodiments herein, the design may be of unitary construction, for example, a single piece of molded, stamped or cast rubber, and requires no assembly.



Inventors:
Buchstaber, Mark (Chaska, MN, US)
Application Number:
12/400551
Publication Date:
09/10/2009
Filing Date:
03/09/2009
Assignee:
BigFish Consulting LLC (Chaska, MN, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B95/02
View Patent Images:
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20080229542Slide RailSeptember, 2008Tillmann
20040010889Structure for a portable electronic device handleJanuary, 2004Chen
20110232031LEASH HANDLESeptember, 2011Salais
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Primary Examiner:
LEE, MICHAEL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HAMRE, SCHUMANN, MUELLER & LARSON, P.C. (Minneapolis, MN, US)
Claims:
1. An apparatus for wrapping around one or more target objects for gripping and/or as a hanger structure and/or to provide an extension comprising a member having a first end and a second end; a pair of flexible extended portions having a gap therebetween along a portion of the length of the member; a locking portion including a shaped aperture contiguous with the gap toward the first end; and a handle portion at or proximate to the second end, or between the extended portions and the second end.

2. The apparatus as in claim 1, further comprising a neck portion integral with or between the handle portion and the extended portions.

3. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the gap is elongated such that it has a width that is greater than its length when the member is extended end to end, having a ratio of width to length of 1:30 to about 1:3.

4. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the locking portion comprises a locking portion access aperture that is narrower than the gap, wherein the locking portion access aperture is contiguous between the shaped aperture and the gap.

5. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the shaped aperture is dimensioned to tightly fit the extended portions.

6. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the shaped aperture is configured as a shape selected from the group consisting of a rectangle having sharp or rounded corners, a square having sharp or rounded corners, a triangle having sharp or rounded corners, a diamond having sharp or rounded corners, an oval, an ellipse, a circle, a regular or irregular polygon having sharp or rounded corners, and a regular or irregular closed curve.

7. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein all or a portion of the member is formed of elastomeric material.

8. The apparatus as in claim 7, wherein all or a portion of the member is formed of a material selected from the group consisting of natural rubber, synthetic rubber, latex rubber, silicone rubber, ethylene-propylene-diene monomer (EPDM) rubber, gum rubber, and neoprene rubber.

9. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein all or a portion of the member is formed of a material selected from the groups consisting of canvas, cotton, bamboo, nylon and leather.

10. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the handle portion comprises a closed loop at the second end of the member.

11. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the handle portion comprises a closed aperture configured as a shape selected from the group consisting of a rectangle having sharp or rounded corners, a square having sharp or rounded corners, a triangle having sharp or rounded corners, a diamond having sharp or rounded corners, an oval, an ellipse, a circle, a regular or irregular polygon having sharp or rounded corners, and a regular or irregular closed curve.

12. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the handle portion comprises an open ended hook.

13. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the member is formed of unitary construction formed by a method selected from the group consisting of stamping, molding, casting, and any combination comprising at least one of stamping, molding, and casting.

14. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the handle portion is attached to the remainder of the member with a swivel connection.

15. The apparatus as in claim 1, wherein the device is formed of unitary construction from stamped elastomeric material wherein the circumference of each of the extended portions is about 0.5 inches to about 3 inches, wherein the overall length is about 6 inches to about 36 inches, and wherein the length of the extended portions is about 4 inches to about 33 inches.

16. A method of holding a target object comprising providing the apparatus as in claim 1, wrapping the extended portions around the object, inserting the handle portion around the object(s) and through the gap, inserting a portion of the member into the locking portion (wherein the portion is the extended portions, a neck, or a portion of the handle portion), cinching the object, and using the handle portion to hold the target object.

17. The method as in claim 16, wherein the target object comprises one or more loose objects, wherein the handle portion is used to carry the target object.

18. The method as in claim 16, wherein the target object comprises a fixed or relatively fixed target, wherein the handle portion is used to support hanging therefrom one or more additional objects.

19. The method as in claim 16, wherein the target object comprises an object movable between positions along a defined path, wherein the handle is gripped to decrease the required reach otherwise required to grip the target object, further wherein the target object is a portion of a seat belt, or further wherein the target object is an overhead object selected from the group consisting of doors, shades, windows, and awnings.

20. The method as in claim 16, therein the target object comprises a handle portion of a second said apparatus.

Description:

PRIORITY DATA

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/068,865 entitled “Apparatus For Wrapping Around One Or More Target Objects For Gripping, As A Hanging Structure And/Or To Provide An Extension,” filed on Mar. 10, 2008, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This disclosure relates generally to the field of gripping and extension devices, and more particularly to an apparatus for wrapping around one or more target objects for gripping, as a handle and/or to provide an extension.

BRIEF SUMMARY

An apparatus is proposed that facilitates wrapping around one or more target objects for gripping, as a hanging structure and/or to provide an extension. A flexible structure (e.g., formed of rubber or other suitable material) including a handle portion and a loop engages a target by pulling the handle through the loop and thereby cinch a target into place. In certain embodiments herein, the design may be of unitary construction, for example, a single piece of molded, stamped or cast rubber, and requires no assembly.

The apparatus described herein can have uses other than wrapping around one or more target objects for gripping, as a hanging structure and/or to provide an extension. Therefore, the apparatus is not to be limited by the uses described herein.

In one embodiment, the apparatus includes a member having a first end and a second end, a pair of flexible extended portions having a gap therebetween along a portion of the length of the member, a locking portion including a shaped aperture contiguous with the gap toward the first end, and a handle portion at or proximate to the second end, or between the extended portions and the second end.

DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows an overview of the apparatus for wrapping around one or more target objects for gripping and/or as a handle and/or to provide an extension.

FIG. 2 shows a first step in using the apparatus of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 shows another step in using the apparatus of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 shows still another step in using the apparatus of FIG. 1.

FIGS. 5A-5C show isometric, side and top views, respectively, of an embodiment of an apparatus for wrapping around one or more target objects for gripping and/or as a handle and/or to provide an extension.

FIG. 6 shows an enlarged view of a locking portion at one end of the apparatus of FIGS. 5A-5C.

FIG. 7 shows the apparatus of embodiments herein used to carry a bundle of objects.

FIG. 8 shows the apparatus of embodiments herein used to reach an overhead object such as an overhead door.

FIG. 9 shows the apparatus of embodiments herein used to extend the reach of a seat belt in an automobile.

FIG. 10 illustrates another embodiment showing two apparatus joined together.

FIG. 11 illustrates another example of joining two apparatus together.

FIG. 12 illustrates yet another example of joining two apparatus together.

FIG. 13 shows an embodiment of an apparatus with a swivel connection.

FIG. 14 shows an embodiment of an apparatus with an open ended hook.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now in general to FIGS. 1-4, an apparatus 10 is provided for securing one or more target objects 12 (an example of which is shown in dashed lines in FIG. 2) for various purposes. In certain applications, apparatus 10 may be secured to a target object(s) 12 for carrying purposes. For instance, using one or more of the apparatus 10 of appropriate dimension, a bundle of elongated targets 12 may include objects such as pipes, sticks, lumber, sporting goods (e.g., skis, sticks, bats) which may conveniently be carried by one or more people without separation of the bundle, and without the need for taping or tying the bundle together. In other applications, apparatus 10 may be used as a hanging structure. For instance, apparatus 10 may be secured to a fixed or relatively fixed target, such as a portion of the interior of an automobile (e.g., a grab handle), a closet rod, or upon a target in any other location where it is desirable to place a hanging structure. The hanging structure may be used by placing one or more hangers or other objects on a handle portion 26 of the apparatus 10. In yet another application, the apparatus 10 may be used to provide an extension to an object, or an alternative handle. For instance, seat belts, overhead doors and other objects may be desirable target objects. These and other non-limiting examples of applications for the apparatus 10 are further described herein.

Referring in particular to FIG. 1, the apparatus 10 is a member having a first end 14 and a second end 16. As shown, two flexible extended portions 18 are provided between the ends 14, 16, having a gap 20 therebetween along a portion P of the length L of the member. Note that, however, in certain embodiments, more than two flexible extended portions 18 may be provided.

Generally, the gap 20 is elongated, so that its length is much greater than its width when the member is extended end to end (i.e., the width of the combined extended portions 18 and a portion of the gap remaining when the apparatus 10 is substantially taut). For instance, in certain embodiments, the width to length may be about 2 inches to about 36 inches. In other embodiments, the length to width may be about 1 inch to about 6 inches. In still further embodiments, the width to length may be about 0.5 inches to about 3 inches. The ratio of width to length may be, for instance, about 1:30 to about 1:3, preferably about 1:20 to about 1:4, and more preferably about 1:18 to about 1:6.

A locking portion 22 is also provided near the first end 14, including a shaped aperture 24 contiguous with the gap 20. Further, a handle portion 26 is provided at or proximate to the second end 16, or between the extended portions 18 and the second end 16. Apparatus 10 may further include a neck portion 28 integral with or between the handle portion 26 and the extended portions 18.

To facilitate a secure fit between regions of the extended portions 18 and the locking portion 22, a locking portion access aperture 32 may be provided, which, in an un-stretched configuration of the apparatus 10, is narrower than the gap 20 and the shaped aperture 24, and may include portions of the ends of the extended portions 18 that are adjacent one another, or with a gap therebetween. The locking portion access aperture 32 is contiguous between the shaped locking aperture 24 and the gap 20. Using elastomeric or other flexible material, the locking portion access aperture 32 may be opened (or further opened, depending on the un-stretched configuration of the locking portion access aperture 32) to accommodate the extended portions 18 as described further herein.

In addition, the shaped locking aperture 24 can have its dimensions and configuration based upon the dimensions and configuration of the extended portions 18, particularly the cross section of the extended portions 18.

In certain preferred embodiments, the shaped locking aperture 24 has an area dimension, interior circumference and configuration that is approximate to or is less than the cross sectional area and configuration, and circumference, of both extended portions 18 (adjacent one another) to be secured therein. For instance, in certain embodiments, for materials with less elasticity, the shaped locking aperture 24 has an area dimension, interior circumference and configuration that is approximate to the cross sectional area and configuration, and circumference, of both extended portions 18 (e.g., within about plus or minus up to about 2%). In other embodiments, where materials having greater elasticity are used, the shaped locking aperture 24 has an area dimension, interior circumference and configuration that is less than the corresponding dimensions of the extended portions, such that the extended portions 18 may compress and the dimensions allow for a very tight fit, where the aperture is expanded and/or the extended portions are compressed to accommodate the smaller dimensions (e.g., wherein the shaped locking aperture 24 is up to about 25% less than the uncompressed dimension of the adjacent extended portions 18 to be situated in the shaped locking aperture 24).

The shaped aperture 24 may be configured as a shape selected from the group consisting of rectangles (having sharp or rounded corners), squares (having sharp or rounded corners), triangles (having sharp or rounded corners), diamonds (having sharp or rounded corners), ovals, ellipses, circles, regular or irregular polygons (having sharp or rounded corners), and regular or irregular closed curves. Accordingly, in certain preferred embodiments, the cross sectional configuration of the extended portions may be correlating shapes (such that when placed adjacent one another the combined shape correlates to the shape of the shaped aperture 24).

The material of construction of all or a portion of the apparatus 10 may be elastomeric in nature, including but not limited to natural rubber, synthetic rubber, latex rubber, silicone rubber, ethylene-propylene-diene monomer (EPDM) rubber, gum rubber, and neoprene rubber. In certain embodiments, other materials may be used, including but not limited to canvas, cotton, bamboo, nylon and leather. These other materials may generally be non-elastomeric material, although the materials may exhibit a certain ability to expand or stretch (although they may not readily return to the original shape without further treatment, such as washing to promote shrinkage).

The handle portion 26 may comprise a closed loop, as shown in FIGS. 1-4, or some other configuration. As closed loops, the handle portion 26 may comprise a closed aperture 30 configured as a shape selected from the group consisting of rectangles (having sharp or rounded corners), squares (having sharp or rounded corners), triangles (having sharp or rounded corners), diamonds (having sharp or rounded corners), ovals, ellipses, circles, regular or irregular polygons (having sharp or rounded corners), and regular or irregular closed curves. In other embodiments, the handle portion 26 may include or be entirely in the form of a solid portion to facilitate gripping, such as a knob or other projecting component, a T-shaped grip, a cylindrical grip, or an oval shaped grip. In other embodiments, the handle portion 26 comprises an open ended hook as shown in FIG. 14.

The form or method of manufacture of the apparatus may result in a unitary construction or a modular construction. For instance, in a unitary construction, the apparatus 10 and all the various portions and features may be integrally molded or cast, or stamped from a solid piece of material. In other embodiments, where the apparatus is formed of modular construction, an attachment between components is required that has sufficient holding force for the intended use.

In certain embodiments, the handle portion 26 is attached to the remainder of the member, e.g., where the handle portion 26 is attached with a swivel connection 27 as shown in FIG. 13. In these embodiments, the handle portion 26 is connected in a manner to be permanent, i.e., where disconnection requires tools or damage to the apparatus, in contrast to embodiments described below which are intended to be removably attached.

In other embodiments, a handle portion may be removably attached to the remainder of the member. For instance, in certain embodiments, a connection may be in the form of a compression fitting, for instance, using ball bearings, with a suitable release (e.g., using a spring biased ball in a receiving portion with corresponding detents in an insert portion, or vice versa, similar to a ratchet wrench and socket connection or an air hose connection). Thus, a kit may be provided including the apparatus without the handle portion and a plurality of handle portions, e.g., of different dimensions or configurations. In certain preferred embodiments, the handle portion may be removably attached without the use of tools, and is intended to be attached and detached repeatedly and without damage or substantial wear.

The apparatus herein may be used to secure to targets of differing and varying sizes and shapes. For instance, an apparatus having an overall length of about 14 inches and a degree of elasticity of about 80 (Shore OO scale) may be used to secure to targets having circumferences of about 0.5 inches to about 5 inches. Structural parameters may be varied, including but not limited to the length of the apparatus, the circumference of the apparatus at the extended portions and the locking portion, and the degree of elasticity, resulting in differing ranges of target circumferences. In general, the maximum target circumference is approximately equivalent to the length of the extended portion (less the thickness of the extended portions) and any additional lengths by stretching that may be imparted thereto due to the elasticity.

Various embodiments and variations are possible, including different lengths and girths, in all or certain portions of the apparatus. These differing dimensions may or may not be proportional. In other variations, the device can have handles of different shapes or configurations, including detachable and/or interchangeable handles.

The dimensions of the apparatus may be in various sizes, for instance, for use with targets having various circumferential dimensions. For instance, in certain embodiments, wherein the target object has a circumferential dimension of about 0.5 inches to about 5 inches, one or more apparatus may be provided wherein the overall length is about 6 inches to about 36 inches(wherein the length of the extended portions is about 4 inches to about 33 inches), about 8 inches to about 24 inches(wherein the length of the extended portions is about 6 inches to about 21 inches), or about 12 to about 18 inches (wherein the length of the extended portions is about 9 inches to about 15 inches). In addition, the circumference of the various portions may vary, depending, for instance, on the desired load capacity of the apparatus, the strength of the materials of construction of the apparatus, and other factors. For instance, the thickness (e.g., circumference) of each of the extended portions may be about 0.5 inches to about 3 inches, about 1 inch to about 3 inches, or about 1 inch to about 2 inches; the thickness (e.g., circumference) of the locking portion may be about 0.5 inches to about 3 inches, about 1 inch to about 3 inches, or about 1 inch to about 2 inches.

Referring to FIGS. 5A-5C, isometric, side and top views, respectively, are shown of an embodiment of the wrapping around one or more target objects for gripping and/or as a handle and/or to provide an extension. Additionally, FIG. 6 shows an enlarged view of a locking portion. The apparatus 110 includes a first end 114 having a locking portion 122 (with a shaped aperture 132) and a second end 116 including a handle portion 126. Extended portions 118 are provided generally between ends 114, 116, forming a gap 120 between the extended portions 118. In certain embodiments, the shaped aperture 132 has dimensions that are approximately equivalent to the combination of portions 118 adjacent one another, i.e., when in the locked configuration as described below. Other features include, for instance, an integrally molded construction. Further, an aperture 134 is provided at the end of the apparatus 10, e.g., shown through a portion of the locking portion 122, which may be used for various other applications. For instance, using apertures 134 in the apparatus 110 shown in FIGS. 5A-5C and 6, an S-hook or other suitable structure may be inserted through the aperture 134, and the device may be stretched about a large object or across a span, for instance, in a manner similar to a conventional bungee cord.

Accordingly, referring to FIGS. 2-4, using the apparatus herein, a method of holding a target object includes wrapping 40 the extended portions around the object(s) 12, inserting 42 the handle portion 26 around the object(s) 12 (where the object(s) 12 (not shown in FIGS. 3 and 4) is within the space 43) and through the gap 20, inserting a portion of the member into the locking portion (wherein the portion is the extended portions 18, a neck 28, or a portion of the handle portion 26, which position may be varied to accommodate various dimension objects), cinching 44 the object within the space 45, and using the handle portion 26 to carry, hang items from, and/or to secure the target object(s) 12. Further, note that the pair of extended portions 18 may be stretched apart, thus serving to provide additional balance, for instance, when carrying relatively long objects.

A target object may comprise one or more loose objects, wherein the handle portion is used to carry the target object. For instance, using one or more of the apparatus 10 of appropriate dimension, a bundle of elongated objects such as pipes, sticks, lumber, sporting goods (e.g., skis, sticks, bats) may conveniently be carried by one or more people without separation of the bundle, and without the need for taping or tying the bundle together. FIG. 7 shows such an application.

In other applications, the target object may comprise a fixed or relatively fixed target or object, wherein the handle portion is used to support hanging therefrom one or more additional objects. Suitable targets include, but are certainly not limited to, such a portion of the interior of an automobile (e.g., a grab handle, head rest or portion thereof), a portion of the exterior of the automobile (e.g., roof rack, tow hitch), vertical beams, rails, closet rods, or upon a target in any other location where it may be desirable to place a hanging structure, with the apparatus secured to the target.

In still other applications, the target object may be an object movable between positions along a defined path, wherein the handle is gripped to decrease the required reach otherwise required to grip the target object. For instance, this type of target object may be a portion of a seat belt (FIG. 9), or an overhead object such as doors, shades, windows, and awnings (FIG. 8).

In additional applications, plural apparatus may be adjoined, for instance, whereby the target object is a portion of a second apparatus. FIGS. 10-12 show some non-limiting examples of applications of plural apparatus as described herein. FIG. 10 shows one application of plural apparatus shown and described herein, where a portion of the extended portions 18b proximate the end 14b of the apparatus 10b are inserted in a shaped aperture of the locking portion 22a of another apparatus 10a.

FIG. 11 shows another application of plural apparatus shown and described herein, where apparatus 10b is looped through gap 20a of apparatus 10a, and the device is locked such that extended portions 18b have a first portion that is within a shaped aperture of the locking portion 22a of apparatus 10a, and a second portion that is locked in a shaped aperture of the locking portion 22b. The first portion of extended portions 18b is more proximate the end 14b as compared to the second portion of extended portions 18b.

Referring to FIG. 12, another application of plural apparatus shown and described herein, where a portion of a neck 28b and/or handle 26b of an apparatus 10b are secured by a locking portion 22a of an apparatus 10a, and further where portions of the extended portions 18a are secured by locking portion 22b. An object may be positioned in the loop created by apparatus 10b, and the position of the locking portion 22b on the extended portions 18a may be varied to accommodate various dimension objects.

In still further embodiments, a first apparatus may be inserted through a handle of a second apparatus, the first apparatus locked upon itself (e.g., as shown above with respect to FIGS. 2-4).

Note that in the above embodiments, apparatus 10a and 10b may be the same or different sizes and/or materials. In certain preferred embodiments, at least the cross sectional dimensions and/or circumference dimensions of the combined extended portions 18b of the apparatus 10b are within a suitable tolerance compared to the dimension of the shaped aperture of the locking portion 22a of apparatus 10a, for instance, as described above.

The apparatus herein for wrapping around one or more target objects for gripping, as a hanging structure and/or to provide an extension provides various advantages, including the flexibility to use a particular apparatus of a given dimension with a wide dimensional range of target objects and for a variety of applications. Further, the apparatus herein may be formed of various dimensions for an even wider scope of applications.

The embodiments disclosed in this application are to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not limitative. The scope of the invention is indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description; and all changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are intended to be embraced therein.