Title:
Modular Tents
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a modular, collapsible, multifunctional tent or shelter. Specifically, the tent is comprised of at least two interior structures with a central space between them that form a frame which can be covered by a fabric or similar material. Each interior structure is comprised of at least three vertical arches and two horizontal rectangular frames so as to form a tent structure with a built-in berth. The horizontal rectangular frames can be vertically collapsed to form a multifunctional space. A plurality of interior structures can be attached together to form different-sized shelters.



Inventors:
Zepeda, Pilar Sepulveda (Las Verbenas, CL)
Application Number:
12/347509
Publication Date:
11/05/2009
Filing Date:
12/31/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
135/128
International Classes:
E04H15/34; E04H15/36; E04H15/44
View Patent Images:
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20090255564SLIDING DEVICE USED ON THE SUPPORTING SHAFTOctober, 2009Xie
20090217958Bow-Supported Tent RootSeptember, 2009Rothenthal
20030098053Canopy structure for play yardMay, 2003Huang
20070193612Reconfigurable portable hunting blindAugust, 2007Slaughter
20090095337MODULAR FOLDING DISPLAY BOOTH STRUCTUREApril, 2009Carter
20020104557Adjusting sleeve assembly for a sunshade with a tiltable canopyAugust, 2002Tung
20070256717Decorative theme slipcover for patio and beach umbrellasNovember, 2007Stollar
20070102032Quick setup tent for campingMay, 2007Passaro Ponce



Primary Examiner:
JACKSON, DANIELLE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MH2 TECHNOLOGY LAW GROUP, LLP (TYSONS CORNER, VA, US)
Claims:
1. A multifunctional, modular, collapsible tent comprising: at least two end interior structures each of which is formed by at least two side arches and at least one central arch; a built-in berth structure formed by at least two rectangular horizontal frames in each end interior structure; and wherein said at least two rectangular horizontal frames are vertically collapsible to form a multifunctional space.

2. The tent of claim 1, wherein each end of the side arches is attached at the base to the end of the central arch through an articulate element that is collapsible at its middle point and at its ends in order to allow the tent to fold.

3. The tent of claim 1, wherein said built-in berth structure is covered by a fabric or similar material.

4. The tent of claim 1, wherein said at least two rectangular frames comprise at least one upper rectangular horizontal frame and at least one lower rectangular horizontal frame supported by at least two side arches and at least one central arch.

5. The tent of claim 1, wherein at least one central arch forms a vertical wall that separates each pair of berths.

6. The tent of claim 1, wherein said at least two rectangular horizontal frames have pivots at the ends of their inner sides for attaching to at least one central arch through a hooking piece.

7. The tent of claim 4, wherein at least one upper horizontal frame is attached to at least two side arches using a temporary connection.

8. The tent of claim 7, wherein the temporary connection is comprised of a tubular piece that fits onto at least two side arches and a L-shaped piece that allows a temporary connection with at least one upper horizontal frame.

9. The tent of claim 8, wherein the temporary connection can be turned in order to free at least two side arches from at least one upper horizontal frame.

10. The tent of claim 1, wherein each end interior structure is reinforced by at least two side crosspieces, each of them supported by the upper vertical part of the side arches at one end and by the lower vertical part of the opposite side arch at the other end.

11. The tent of claim 10, wherein said crosspieces are affixed to the side arches through an attaching piece comprised of a tubular hooking piece and a safety lock.

12. The tent of claim 11, wherein each crosspiece has a perforation at its ends to allow the insertion of the attaching piece.

13. The tent of claim 1, wherein said two end interior structures, the space between them and the built-in berths are covered by a fabric or similar material.

14. The tent of claim 13, wherein said fabric or similar material comprises a thinner, more transparent fabric that allows light and air to enter the tent.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to tents for emergency shelters. More specifically, the present invention pertains to modular, collapsible, multifunctional tents comprised of collapsible berths that are built-in, thus generating space for sleeping, activity and storage.

2. Description of Related Art

Natural disasters occurring in different parts of the world are far from being an unknown subject. In spite of this, it is still not possible to foresee possible catastrophes like earthquakes, floods, and other emergency situations such as wars. These kinds of emergency situations usually result in large numbers of displaced people who require a temporary lodging place for as long as the emergency lasts.

Nowadays, emergency organizations provide temporary lodging for displaced people using permanent, enclosed facilities, where they receive camp cots or light mattresses. Disadvantages to these facilities include overcrowding, separation of family members, and loss of privacy in family groups. Although these enclosed facilities provide shelter, they increase the negative psychological effects on the people seeking shelter. In addition, there may not be enough enclosed facilities in an area where an emergency takes place and additional temporary shelters may also be required.

Furthermore, there are non-emergency situations that require temporary shelter. Construction and mining companies and their contractors frequently perform tasks in areas that are difficult to access. For example, roads sometimes need to be constructed in areas of difficult access and/or low population. In these cases, permanent facilities may not be available to shelter the workers and temporary shelters are the only alternative. In addition, people who enjoy camping also require a temporary shelter while they camp.

Foldable tents which provide an inside open space are fairly known in the prior art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,547,136 to Prinz et al. describes a tent, or a shelter similar to a tent, which is utilized as a means to protect the user against lightning bolts. The tent is built in the form of a Faraday box and the elements composing the box are connected to the ground, or adapted to be attached to the ground, which generally involves a metallic frame and a cover, preferably conducting electricity, as well as a metallic base or floor.

U.S. Patent Publication No. 2001/0007260 to Rouselle et al. describes a shelter/tent with a variety of supporting legs that are manually erected, connecting two U-type iron fittings, with a safety locking mechanism to keep the structure together.

The Invention Patent CL 30765 by Contreras et al, describes a modular system comprised of a polyhedral structure with a pentagonal base, the sides of which are constituted by tubes with flattened ends that are assembled by means of bolts, thus forming vertexes. In addition, a fabric cloak is attached to the structure's interior vertexes. The system is comprised of fifteen triangles: five are isosceles and correspond to faces that are perpendicular to the ground and ten are equilateral. The isosceles triangles can be used to add doors to the system as well as make coupling between the modules possible and the equilateral triangles can be transformed into windows.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,311,159 to Wunderlich describes a shelter tent supported by three flexible support members, two of which extend around opposite peripheral edges of the shelter and the third of which provides vertical support to the shelter center. Each of the flexible support members is formed from a plurality of segments which are connected on one side by a reinforcing tape and on the other side by elastic material so that the supports can flex in one direction. The ends of the three flexible supports are attached to brackets disposed on the opposite sides of the shelter and held to the ground by stakes or pins. By removing one of the brackets, the flexible supports are allowed to extend from the shelter material and the entire shelter can be rolled up into a compact form for storage or transportation.

The Invention Patent GB 2 249 331 to Birkin et al. describes a tent that can be erected from the inside, composed of a variety of bendable elongate support members and a connecting web with which the support members are co-operable in use to support the web. One of the tent's parts is ring-shaped and has perforations to fit the other pieces of the structure, while the lower end of the support members is located in the ground. The support members have to be bent to fit the web size, while the poles are held bent to provide tension to the web.

U.S. Patent Publication No. 2004/0238021 to Holoub et al. describes a modular tent system utilizing a multiple-sided central room, such as a four-sided or five-sided central room. Several different components can be added to the central room, such as an awning, a grid type room, a closet, or a tent for three or four people. Each of these components can be tied to one of the central room sides.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,114,376 to Rexroat refers to a portable shelter, specifically a shelter tent that can be quickly assembled and disassembled as desired or required.

Emergency shelters are also fairly recognized in the prior art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,981,347 to Walburger describes a modular emergency shelter system that includes a sleeping and storage module. It has a rectangular box-like structure with curved interior sidewalls defining the sleeping area while exterior sidewalls define the storing area. The box-like structure is preferably made of molded plastic filled with fire resistant and sound dampening foam. The shelter must be watertight to keep out the rain and facilitate hosing out after use. Preferably, the module includes electronic locking doors operable from inside or outside the module. The module is specially configured for securing together a number of similar structures, including additional shelter modules stacked one atop another, or vertically-oriented modular utility units such as toilets, showers and dressing rooms. Use of the emergency shelter modules is envisioned as including taking reservations electronically over the telephone or Internet, and providing for a particular sleeping module and storage module to unlock the doors later that day.

U.S. Patent Publication No. 2004/0154235 to Johnson describes a system allowing for flexible construction starting from the sum of more basic components. The system allows quick construction with a few, basic tools. The structure components include a flat square panel and some planks or girders with some clips that may be attached to other planks or to panels in order to form a frame containing a panel. A standard flat panel can be replaced by special panels to provide doors, windows, screens, piping and electric connections.

The Invention Patent AU 716173 to Astor describes a tent-bed composed of a detachable structure in the form of a marquise, an adjustable, stretchable bed sheet and a tent-awning with connections to the stretchable bed sheet, including elements to stretch. This invention is conceived for open ground camping while protecting the user from the weather.

There is a need in the art for temporary shelters or tents that do not require external elements, either for internal comfort or for supporting purposes and do not require special pieces affixed to the ground in order to erect the structure. For example, there is a need for temporary shelters with built-in berths which, therefore, do not require additional elements added to the shelters.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention addresses needs in the art by providing a modular, collapsible, multifunctional shelter or tent. Specifically, the tent is comprised of at least two equal interior structures with a central space between them that form a frame covered by a fabric or similar material. Each end interior structure is comprised preferably of at least three arches, two side arches and one central arch, leaving a space for at least two horizontal rectangular frames so as to form a berth-type structure. These horizontal rectangular frames are vertically collapsible in order to form a multifunctional space that can be used for different functions (sleeping, activity, storage, etc.). Each of the side arch ends is attached on the base to the central arch end through an articulated element. Each articulated element is collapsible on its middle point and also on its ends.

Another advantage of the present invention is that it is collapsible and simple to assemble for ease in storage and transportation. Furthermore, its design allows it to attach to other similar modules. Therefore, this invention can be defined as a collapsible, modular system that can be used for dwelling in both emergency and non-emergency situations.

The main objective of this invention is to provide a multifunctional, collapsible, portable, modular tent in order to meet the needs of individuals that require a temporary shelter. As a consequence of the use of this invention, groups of people are no longer separated and they have improved privacy. Thus, this invention optimizes and improves the quality of the time people spend in the shelter.

This invention also serves as a quick response alternative for those who seek qualities such as collapsibility and easy assembly. It grants flexibility as it adapts to the available space and the number of users, and contributes to the optimal use of the available space, generating alleys and paths, thus making the users' transit much easier.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which constitute a part of this specification, illustrate one embodiment of the invention and, together with the written description, serve to explain various principles of the invention. Other embodiments of the invention are also envisioned, as disclosed in the written description.

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of one embodiment of the modular, collapsible multifunctional tent that is the subject of this invention.

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of one embodiment of the modular, collapsible multifunctional tent that is the subject of this invention, showing the upper and lower horizontal frames forming the beds of the berth.

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of one embodiment of the end interior structure comprising the tent of this invention.

FIG. 4 shows a side view of one embodiment of the end interior structure comprising the tent of this invention.

FIG. 5 shows a front view of one embodiment of the end interior structure comprising the tent of this invention.

FIG. 6 shows a top view of one embodiment of the end interior structure comprising the tent of this invention.

FIG. 7 shows a side view of one embodiment of the end interior structure comprising the tent, with a fabric or similar material cover.

FIG. 8 shows a perspective view of one embodiment of the location of at least two end interior structures comprising the tent of this invention.

FIG. 9 shows a side view of a plurality of tents of this invention that are connected to each other in order to form a modular tent system.

FIG. 10 shows one embodiment of a detail of the hooking piece of the upper horizontal frame with the end interior structure's central frame.

FIG. 11 shows one embodiment of a detail of the supporting pieces for the collapsible upper horizontal frames.

FIG. 12 shows one embodiment of a detail of the attaching piece of the end interior structure's crosspieces.

FIG. 13 shows one embodiment of a detail of the supporting pieces for the non-collapsible lower horizontal frames.

FIG. 14 shows the fold manner of a plurality of end interior structures, allowing the tent of this invention to be folded.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF VARIOUS EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Reference will now be made in detail to various exemplary embodiments of the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. The following detailed description is provided to give details on certain embodiments of the invention, and should not be understood as a limitation on the full scope of the invention.

The present invention provides a modular, collapsible, multifunctional shelter or tent. The combination of these characteristics allows flexibility and ease in both emergency and non-emergency situations in terms of the quality and amount of the living space and the ability to transport and store the shelters.

Because the shelter is modular, the amount of living space can be adjusted according to the needs of the situation. For example, if single or double person shelters are required, one unit of the shelter can be employed. If a shelter needs to house a family or larger group, more than one module can be used. The number of modules used to form the shelter can vary from one to however many are needed for the situation.

Each module is collapsible, thereby allowing ease in storage and transportation. By collapsible, it is meant that each unit can be folded to take up less space. Therefore, many shelters can be temporarily transported to areas of need.

Each module is comprised of at least two horizontal rectangular frames so as to form a berth-type structure. The berths can be used for sleeping or resting in the horizontal position and can also be vertically collapsed to make more room in the shelter. This multifunctionality allows the user more flexibility as to the use of the space. Because the beds are built-in, additional cots do not need to be brought into the structure.

The shelter comprises a frame covered by some type of fabric or fabric blend. The frame is preferably composed of a metal or metal blend, such as aluminum or steel. The fabric that covers the frame may be comprised of cotton, linen, silk, wool, acetate, acrylic, nylon, polyester, rayon, tafetta, or a blend of two or more fibers, for example. Any fabric can be used in the invention as long as it has some impermeability to water. The fabric may also have an additional water-proofing and/or silicon-based water-repelling compound added to it. The fabric may also be a fire-retardant and may be in a single layer or multi-layer form when used to cover the frame. In a preferred embodiment, the fabric used to cover the shelter is tafetta.

FIGS. 1 and 2 show a perspective view of one embodiment of the modular, collapsible, multifunctional tent of this invention (100) comprising two equal end interior structures (110) with a central space (300) between them, thus forming a frame that is covered by a fabric. Additionally, FIG. 2 depicts two of the built-in berths (130) found in the structure. Additional built-in berths are found in the second end interior structure (110) but are not depicted in this figure. The built-in berths are preferably covered with a fabric or canvas in order to support a light mattress or serve as a seat.

FIGS. 3, 4, 5, and 6 show the end interior structure comprising the tent of this invention from a perspective view, a side view, a front view, and a top view, respectively. Each end interior structure (200), is preferably formed by at least three arches: two side arches (201) and one central arch (202). Each end of the side arches (201) is attached on the base to the end of the central arch (202) through an articulated element (209). Each articulated element (209) is collapsible on its middle point and on its ends. The three arches form a trapezoid structure as seen on the side view, where the side arches (201) converge towards the vertical central arch (202) (FIG. 4). The central arch (202) has two crosspieces (219) that are welded by its ends to the vertical sides and to its base (FIG. 5).

In addition, the present invention provides a berth structure comprising at least two rectangular horizontal frames, one lower horizontal frame (203) and one upper horizontal frame (204), supported by one of the side arches (201) and the central arch (202). Each rectangular frame may be covered by a canvas from one end to the other so a light mattress can be placed inside to form a bed or a seat. These rectangular horizontal frames (203, 204) are vertically collapsible so as to form a multifunctional space providing for different alternative uses (resting, sleeping, interacting with other individuals, and storage). This berth-type array repeats itself at the other side of the end interior structure (200), in order to support two other rectangular horizontal frames (203, 204) on the other side arch (201) and on the central arch (202). Thus, at least four collapsible berths can be configured for each end interior structure (200). Furthermore, at the central arch (202), there is a vertical wall (207) in the same shape as the central arch (202), in order to form a separating wall between each pair of berths. This vertical wall is preferably comprised of an EVA foam material inner layer and a fabric outer layer. Each upper rectangular horizontal frame (204) is connected to the central arch (202) through a hooking piece (205). The end interior structure (200) is reinforced by two side crosspieces (213), each of them supported by the upper vertical part of the side arches (201), on one end, and on the other, by the lower vertical part of the opposite side arch (201), thus forming a cross section. This array repeats itself at both sides of the end interior structure (200). An attaching piece (214) connects the side crosspiece (213) to the side arch (201). In addition, an attaching piece (215) connects the lower horizontal frame (203) and the side arch (201).

The diameter of the elements used in the end interior structure (200) can range from approximately 1 mm to 1500 mm. The length and width of the central arch and rectangular horizontal frames can vary from approximately 0.2 meters to 6 meters. In a preferred embodiment, the central arch (202) is approximately 2.2 meters high and 2.0 meters wide and is made of a 25 mm diameter steel tube. Furthermore, the upper and lower rectangular horizontal frames are preferably approximately 1.8 meters long and 0.6 meters wide and are also made of a 25 mm diameter steel tube.

FIG. 7 depicts a side view of one end interior structure comprising the tent, with a fabric or similar material cover. The rectangular horizontal frames (203, 204) can be seen emerging from the sides of the cover.

FIG. 8 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of the present invention, in which two end interior structures (200) and the space in between (300) comprise the invention. The four rectangular, horizontal frames (240) are depicted.

FIG. 9 shows a side view of an embodiment of the present invention in which a plurality of tents are connected to each other in order to form a modular tent system. The number of end interior structures (200) that can be attached to form a shelter can be anywhere from one to many. This figure depicts four end interior structures (200) with spaces in between or two sets of two end interior structures (100) divided by a dotted line.

The attachment of the upper rectangular horizontal frame (204) to the central arch (202) via the hooking piece (205) is shown in more detail in FIG. 10. Each upper rectangular horizontal frame (204) has two lined up pivots (208) at the ends of its interior side, allowing the attachment to the central arch (202) through a hooking piece (205). The berth can collapse or retract because the hooking piece (205) has a notch cut at its ends to hook the pivots (208).

FIG. 10 also depicts one side crosspiece (213) connected to the attaching piece (214) on the side arch (201) and a supporting piece (206) fitted to side arch (201).

One of the two supporting pieces (206) is shown in more detail in FIG. 11. Each supporting piece (206) is comprised of a tubular piece that snap fits to a side arch (201). The supporting piece (206) is also comprised of a L-shaped sheet metal with a hole (210). An attachment (211) from the upper rectangular horizontal frame (204) inserts into the hole of the supporting piece (206). To collapse the upper rectangular horizontal frame (204), the supporting piece (206) can be turned in order to free the L-shape sheet metal (210) from the attachment (211) of the upper rectangular horizontal frame (204). It is envisioned that other types of connections may also function in between the upper rectangular horizontal frame (204) and the side arch (201) as long as those connections are not permanent and allow separation of the upper horizontal frame (204) from the side arch (201).

FIG. 12 depicts the connection of the attaching piece (214) to the side crosspiece (213) and to the side arch (201). The end interior structure (200) is reinforced by two side crosspieces (213), each of them supported by the upper vertical part of the side arches (201) on one end, and on the other, by the lower vertical part of the opposite side arch (201), thus forming a cross section. This array repeats itself at both sides of the end interior structure (200). Each attaching piece (214) affixes to the crosspiece (213) through a tubular hooking piece and a safety lock. The crosspiece (213) has a perforation at its ends to allow the insertion of the tubular hook of the attaching piece (214). The attaching piece (214) is welded to the side arch (201).

FIG. 13 shows the attaching piece (215) for the lower horizontal frame (203). In one embodiment, the attaching piece (215) is L-shaped and is welded to the side arch (201). As shown in this figure, the lower horizontal frame (203) has a fastener (216) that can be inserted through the hole of the attaching piece (215). Of course, any type of connection between the lower horizontal frame (203) and the side arch (201) can be envisioned as long as the connection is not permanent.

Several parts of the present invention comprise a connection between two elements. The embodiments of the connections shown should not limit the invention. The connection can be an attachment that is integral to the element of the invention it is connected to or it can be added on as a non-integral piece. For example, in the cases where a fastener is inserted into a hole, the fastener can comprise a number of different types of connectors such as a bolt, a nail, a screw, a dowel, or any other attachment that can be inserted into the hole of the element with which it is connecting.

FIG. 14 shows a plurality of end interior structures in a folded configuration. In the folded state, the articulated elements (209) are bent at their middle points and the hooking pieces (205) are no longer attached to the pivots of the lower or upper rectangular horizontal frames (203, 204).

In one exemplary embodiment, the two end interior structures, the space between them and the end side extensions support a fabric or similar material cloak to complete the tent of this invention. Furthermore, this fabric or similar material comprises a central ventilation system comprising a thinner, more transparent fabric or similar material, located at the upper part of the fabric covering the space between the end interior structures and at the end side extension, allowing light entrance and air circulation inside the tent.

In summary, the present invention provides a multifunctional, modular, collapsible tent comprising at least two end interior structures each of which is formed by at least two side arches and at least one central arch and a built-in berth structure formed by at least two rectangular horizontal frames in each equal end interior structure. Stated another way, the tent comprises at least one upper rectangular horizontal frame and at least one lower rectangular horizontal frame supported by at least two side arches and at least one central arch. Each end of the side arches is attached at the base to the end of the central arch through an articulate element that is collapsible at its middle point and at its ends in order to allow the tent to fold. At least one central arch can form a vertical wall to separate each pair of berths. The tent, comprised of the end interior structures, the space between them and the built-in berths, is covered by a fabric or similar material. Optionally, the fabric or similar material comprises a thinner, more transparent fabric that allows light and air to enter the tent.

The rectangular horizontal frames that comprise the built-in berth are vertically collapsible to form a multifunctional space. In one embodiment, the rectangular horizontal frames have pivots at the ends of their inner sides for attaching to at least one central arch through a hooking piece. At least one upper horizontal frame is attached to at least two side arches using a temporary connection comprised of a tubular piece that fits onto at least two side arches and a L-shaped piece. The temporary connection can be turned in order to free at least two side arches from at least one upper horizontal frame. Optionally, the built-in berth structure is covered by a fabric or similar material.

Each end interior structure is reinforced by at least two side crosspieces, each of them supported by the upper vertical part of the side arches at one end and by the lower vertical part of the opposite side arch at the other end. In one embodiment, the crosspieces are affixed to the side arches through an attaching piece comprised of a tubular hooking piece and a safety lock. In this embodiment, each crosspiece has a perforation at its ends to allow the insertion of the attaching piece.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the practice of the present invention without departing from the scope or spirit of the invention. Other embodiments of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice of the invention. It is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with a true scope and spirit of the invention being indicated by the following claims.