Title:
POSTURE ENHANCEMENT DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for enhancing the posture of a seated person using a personal viewing item can be placed on and supported by at least a portion of the user's lap or some other support surface, such as a table. The posture enhancement device can facilitate or otherwise force the user in positioning his hands at or above the level of the sternum. As a result, the user's head is kept up and in line with his hands and/or the personal viewing item held in the user's hands. As a result, the user's spine is kept in a neutral position, and the seated user achieves a more ergonomically correct posture when using a personal viewing item. A downward angle of the head is avoided, thereby minimizing future long term health issues that can develop from prolonged periods in such an incorrect posture.



Inventors:
Katz, Mark Steven (Paradise Valley, AZ, US)
Application Number:
12/140148
Publication Date:
12/17/2009
Filing Date:
06/16/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C16/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BRESLIN, DANIEL J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Joseph Bain (West Palm Beach, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A posture enhancement system comprising: a posture enhancement device having a body with a base portion including a lap surface, an upper region including an upper end, and a forearm sidewall tapered from about 45 degrees to about 89 degrees relative to the lap surface, the base portion including an upturn lip that extends about at least a portion of the base portion of the posture enhancement device, wherein the upturn lip defines an elbow channel, whereby a seated user having a sternum, a first arm with a first elbow, a first forearm and a first hand can engage the posture enhancement device so that the first elbow is received in the elbow channel and so that a majority of the first forearm is supported by forearm sidewall such that the first hand of the user is forced into a location that is at or above the sternum of the user.

2. The posture enhancement system of claim 1 wherein the posture enhancement device is made of at least one of viscoelastic foam material, memory foam, plastic, rubber, vinyl, leather, canvas, cloth, cotton, latex, styrofoam, polyurethane foam chips, down, bamboo or polyester.

3. The posture enhancement system of claim 1 wherein the height of the posture enhancement device is adjustable.

4. The posture enhancement system of claim 1 wherein the posture enhancement device has an associated longitudinal axis, wherein the posture enhancement device is substantially symmetrical about the longitudinal axis.

5. The posture enhancement system of claim 1 further including a forearm recess provided in the body, the forearm recess opening to the forearm sidewall of the posture enhancement device, whereby at least a portion of the first forearm can be received in the forearm recess.

6. The posture enhancement system of claim 5 wherein at least a portion of the forearm recess is sloped from about 45 to about 90 degrees relative to the lap surface.

7. The posture enhancement system of claim 1 wherein the posture enhancement device weighs less than about 2 pounds.

8. The posture enhancement system of claim 1 in combination with a personal viewing item, whereby the personal viewing item is held by the first hand of the user which is proximate the upper end of the posture enhancement device such that the personal viewing item is at or above the sternum of the user.

9. The posture enhancement system of claim 8 wherein the personal viewing item is one of a book, a newspaper, a magazine, a cell phone, a portable communication device, a portable entertainment device, a portable electronic device, a portable music device, a game, a portable DVD player, a camera or an iPod.

10. The system of claim 8 wherein the personal viewing item is spaced above the upper end of the posture enhancement device.

11. The system of claim 8 wherein the personal viewing item is at least partially supported by the upper end of the posture enhancement device.

12. The system of claim 8 wherein at least a portion of the personal viewing item is received in an item recess is the upper region of the posture enhancement device.

13. The system of claim 1 wherein the posture enhancement device includes a protrusion extending at least partially across the lap surface and extending away from the lap surface, whereby the protrusion is received between legs of the user.

15. The system of claim 1 wherein the posture enhancement device includes a lap recess in the lap surface, whereby the lap recess receives a least a portion of a lap of the seated user.

16. The system of claim 1 wherein the posture enhancement device includes an interior chamber and an inflation port in fluid communication with the interior chamber, whereby the posture enhancement device is selectively inflatable.

17. The system of claim 1 wherein the body is generally conical.

18. The system of claim 1 wherein the upper end of the posture enhancement device is generally hemispherical.

19. The system of claim 1 wherein the posture enhancement device includes a body recess, whereby the body recess receives at least a portion of an abdomen of the user.

20. A posture enhancement system comprising: a posture enhancement device having a generally conical body with a base portion including a lap surface, an upper region including a generally hemispherical upper end, and a forearm sidewall tapered from about 45 degrees to about 89 degrees relative to the lap surface, the base portion including an upturn lip that extends about at least a portion of the base portion of the posture enhancement device, wherein the upturn lip defines an elbow channel, wherein the posture enhancement device has an associated longitudinal axis, wherein the posture enhancement device is substantially symmetrical about the longitudinal axis, and wherein the posture enhancement device weighs less than about 2 pounds, whereby a seated user having a sternum, a first arm with a first elbow, a first forearm and a first hand can engage the posture enhancement device so that the first elbow is received in the elbow channel and so that a majority of the first forearm is supported by forearm sidewall such that the first hand of the user is forced into a location that is at or above the sternum of the user.

21. The posture enhancement system of claim 20 wherein the posture enhancement device is made of at least one of viscoelastic foam material, memory foam, plastic, rubber, vinyl, leather, canvas, cloth, cotton, latex, styrofoam, polyurethane foam chips, down, bamboo or polyester.

22. The system of claim 20 wherein the posture enhancement device includes a protrusion extending at least partially across the lap surface and extending away from the lap surface, whereby the protrusion is received between legs of the user.

23. The system of claim 20 wherein the posture enhancement device includes a lap recess in the lap surface, whereby the lap recess receives a least a portion of a lap of the seated user.

24. The system of claim 20 wherein the posture enhancement device includes an interior chamber and an inflation port in fluid communication with the interior chamber, whereby the posture enhancement device is selectively inflatable.

25. The system of claim 20 wherein the posture enhancement device includes a body recess, whereby the body recess receives at least a portion of an abdomen of the user.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates in general to human posture and, more particularly, to the enhancement of the posture of a seated person.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Prolonged placement of the cervical portion of a person's spine in flexion is a increasing problem in our society. In its normal position, the human head should sit in alignment with the neck and shoulders. However, the head can become displaced to a posture where, instead of being aligned with the neck and shoulders, it is angled downwardly. There are numerous reasons why such improper head positioning is becoming more common. For example, children and young adults devote hours to playing handheld electronic games. Other people may read a book or watch a movie on a portable DVD player. In each of these examples, the person is usually seated and will typically support the item in his or her lap and look downward at it, often for extended periods of time.

An example of such a position is shown in FIG. 1 in which a person 10 is in a seated position and using a handheld game 12. As can be seen, the person's head 14 is bent at a downward angle so that the person's eyes are in line with the game 12. This downward angle of the user's head 14 is improper posture and places undue stress on the person's spine. In particular, it places the cervical portion 16 of a person's spine 18 in flexion, as is shown in FIG. 2. Prolonged use in such a position can lead to long term heath problems at least because the cervical portion of the spine can become chronically misaligned. Thus, there is a need to minimize such concerns.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one respect, aspects of the invention are directed to a posture enhancement system. The system includes a posture enhancement device. The device has a body with a base portion including a lap surface, an upper region including an upper end, and a forearm sidewall tapered from about 45 degrees to about 89 degrees relative to the lap surface. In one embodiment, the body can be generally conical. The upper end and/or the upper end region of the posture enhancement device can be generally hemispherical. The base portion includes an upturn lip that extends about at least a portion of the base portion of the posture enhancement device. The upturn lip defines an elbow channel.

A forearm recess can be provided in the body. The forearm recess can open to the forearm sidewall of the posture enhancement device. At least a portion of the forearm recess can be sloped from about 45 to about 90 degrees relative to the lap surface. The posture enhancement device can be inflatable. To that end, the posture enhancement device can include an interior chamber and an inflation port in fluid communication with the interior chamber.

The posture enhancement device can be made of at least one of viscoelastic foam material, memory foam, plastic, rubber, vinyl, leather, canvas, cloth, cotton, latex, styrofoam, polyurethane foam chips, down, bamboo or polyester. In one embodiment, the posture enhancement device weighs less than about 2 pounds.

The height of the posture enhancement device can be adjustable. The posture enhancement device can have an associated longitudinal axis. In one embodiment, the posture enhancement device can be substantially symmetrical about the longitudinal axis.

The posture enhancement device can be engaged by a seated user having a sternum, a first arm with a first elbow, a first forearm and a first hand. The user can engage the posture enhancement device so that the first elbow is received in the elbow channel and the majority of the first forearm is supported by forearm sidewall. As a result of such engagement, the first hand of the user can be forced into a location, or otherwise placed or located, at or above the sternum of the user.

A lap recess can be provided in the lap surface. The lap recess can receive a least a portion of a lap of the seated user. A protrusion can extend at least partially across the lap surface and can extend away from the lap surface. The protrusion can be received between legs of the user. The posture enhancement device can include a body recess, which can receive at least a portion of an abdomen of the user.

The system can further include a personal viewing item. The personal viewing item can be any of a number of things, including, for example, a book, a newspaper, a magazine, a cell phone, a portable communication device, a portable entertainment device, a portable electronic device, a portable music device, a game, a portable DVD player, a camera or an iPod.

The posture enhancement device can be used in combination with a personal viewing item. A personal viewing item can be held by the first hand of the user, which is proximate the upper end of the posture enhancement device, so that the personal viewing item is at or above the sternum of the user. In one embodiment, the personal viewing item can be spaced above the upper end of the posture enhancement device. In another embodiment, the personal viewing item can be at least partially supported by the upper end of the posture enhancement device. At least a portion of the personal viewing item can be received in an item recess in the upper region of the posture enhancement device.

In a second respect, aspects of the invention are directed to a posture enhancement system. The system includes a posture enhancement device having a generally conical body with a base portion including a lap surface, an upper region including a generally hemispherical upper end, and a forearm sidewall tapered from about 45 degrees to about 89 degrees relative to the lap surface. The base portion includes an upturn lip that extends about at least a portion of the base portion of the posture enhancement device. The upturn lip defines an elbow channel.

The posture enhancement device has an associated longitudinal axis. The posture enhancement device is substantially symmetrical about the longitudinal axis. The posture enhancement device weighs less than about 2 pounds. The posture enhancement device can be made of viscoelastic foam material, memory foam, plastic, rubber, vinyl, leather, canvas, cloth, cotton, latex, styrofoam, polyurethane foam chips, down, bamboo and/or polyester.

The posture enhancement device can be engaged by a seated user. The user has a sternum, a first arm with a first elbow, a first forearm and a first hand. The user can engage the posture enhancement device so that the first elbow is received in the elbow channel and a majority of the first forearm is supported by the forearm sidewall. As a result of such engagement, the first hand of the user is forced into a location that is at or above the sternum of the user.

The posture enhancement device can include a protrusion that extends at least partially across the lap surface. The protrusion can also extend away from the lap surface. The protrusion can be received between legs of the user. The posture enhancement device can include a lap recess in the lap surface. The lap recess can receive a least a portion of a lap of the seated user. The posture enhancement device can be inflatable. The posture enhancement device can include an interior chamber and an inflation port in fluid communication with the interior chamber. As a result, the posture enhancement device can be selectively inflated and/or deflated. The posture enhancement device can include a body recess. The body recess can receive at least a portion of an abdomen of the user.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is side elevation view of a seated person using a handheld game, showing the downward angle of the person's head.

FIG. 2 is a side elevation view of a cervical portion of a person's spine, showing the cervical portion of the spine in flexion.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a posture enhancement device in accordance with aspects of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a side elevation cross-sectional view of a posture enhancement device in accordance with aspects of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a side elevation cross-sectional view of a posture enhancement device in accordance with aspects of the invention, showing an item recess, forearm recess, lap recess and a transport strap.

FIG. 6 is a side elevation cross-sectional view of a posture enhancement device in accordance with aspects of the invention, showing a hollow interior, lap protrusion and inflation port.

FIG. 7 is a side elevation exploded view of a person in a seated position and a posture enhancement in accordance with aspects of the invention.

FIG. 8 is a side elevation partial breakaway view of a person in a seated position using a posture enhancement in accordance with aspects of the invention, wherein the person is an ergonomically correct posture.

FIG. 9 is a side elevation view of a person in a seated position using a posture enhancement in a hands-free manner, showing the posture enhancement device supported by the lap of the user.

FIG. 10 is a side elevation view of a person in a seated position using a posture enhancement in a hands-free manner, showing the posture enhancement device supported by a table.

FIG. 11 is a side elevation partial breakaway view of a person in a seated position using a posture enhancement in accordance with aspects of the invention, showing the posture enhancement device being supported by a table.

FIG. 12 is a close-up view of a personal viewing item being held above an upper end of the posture enhancement device according to aspects of the invention.

FIG. 13 is a close-up view of a personal viewing item being supported by an upper end of the posture enhancement device according to aspects of the invention.

FIG. 14 is a close-up partial breakaway view of a personal viewing item being received in an item recess in an upper end of the posture enhancement device according to aspects of the invention.

FIG. 15 is a side elevation view of a cervical portion of a person's spine, showing the cervical portion of the spine in a neutral position.

FIG. 16 is a top plan view of a posture enhancement device in accordance with aspects of the invention, showing body recesses provided in the posture enhancement device to accommodate at least a portion of the abdomen of a user.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Aspects of the present invention relate to devices, systems and associated methods that can enhance the posture of a seated person. Embodiments according to aspects of the invention are shown in FIGS. 3-16, but the present invention is not limited to the illustrated structure or application. Further, the following detailed description is intended only as exemplary.

An example of a posture enhancement device 20 according to aspects of the invention is shown in FIG. 3. The posture enhancement device 20 has a body 22, which can be any suitable shape. For example, the body 22 can be generally cylindrical, semi-cylindrical, spherical, semi-spherical, rectangular, pyramidal or polygonal, just to name a few possibilities. In one embodiment, the body 22 can be generally conical in conformation, as is shown in FIG. 3. The body 22 can also be any of a number of irregular shapes. In one embodiment, at least a portion of the body 22 can be hollow. In such case, the posture enhancement device 20 can have one or more interior chambers 24, as shown in FIG. 6.

The posture enhancement device 20 can have an associated longitudinal axis 26, as shown in FIG. 3. The posture enhancement device 20 can be substantially symmetrical about the longitudinal axis 26. In such case, a user can face the posture enhancement device 20 from any side without hindering or altering the user's interaction with the device 20. However, in some embodiments, the posture enhancement device 20 can be asymmetrical. While the following description and the associated drawing figures will be directed to a generally conical shaped posture enhancement device 20, it will be understood that the following description can have equal application to other conformations, including any of those mentioned above.

The posture enhancement device 20 can have a base portion 28, an upper region 30 including an upper end 32, and a forearm sidewall 34. The base portion 28 can include a lap surface 36. The forearm sidewall 34 can be made of a single continuous surface, such as in the case when the body 22 is generally conical or cylindrical. Alternatively, the forearm sidewall 34 can be made of a plurality of surfaces, such as when the body 22 is generally polygonal or triangular. In another embodiment, the forearm sidewall 34 may be only one of many surfaces on the body 22, such as when the body 22 is generally trapezoidal, as shown generally in FIG. 9

In some instances, the forearm sidewall 34 can taper from the base portion 28 to the upper region 30. In one embodiment, the forearm sidewall 34 can taper from about 45 degrees to about 89 degrees relative to the lap surface 36. In another embodiment, the forearm sidewall 34 can taper from about 45 degrees to about 70 degrees relative to the lap surface 36. In still another embodiment, the forearm sidewall 34 can taper at about 65 degrees relative to the lap surface 36. The forearm sidewall 34 can be sufficiently long so that it can support a majority of the forearm of a user.

At least one forearm recess 38 can be provided in the body 22, as shown in FIG. 5. Each forearm recess 38 can receive at least a portion of a forearm of a person. The forearm recess 38 can extend along the body 22, generally from the base portion 28 toward the upper region 30. In some embodiments, the forearm recess 38 can extend to the upper end 32. The forearm recess 38 can open to the forearm sidewall 34 and can extend into the body 22. The forearm recess 38 can have any suitable conformation. For instance, the forearm recess 38 can be sloped at the same angle as the taper of the forearm sidewall 34, or the forearm recess 38 can be sloped at a different angle than the taper of the forearm sidewall 34. In one embodiment, the forearm recess 38 can be sloped from about 45 degrees to about 90 degrees relative to the lap surface 36. In another embodiment, the forearm recess 38 can be sloped from about 45 degrees to about 89 degrees relative to the lap surface 36. In yet another embodiment, the forearm recess 38 can be sloped from about 45 degrees to about 70 degrees relative to the lap surface 36. In still another embodiment, the forearm recess 38 can be sloped at about 65 degrees relative to the lap surface 36. The forearm recess 38 can be sufficiently long so that it can support a majority of the forearm of a user.

In one embodiment, there can be a plurality of forearm recesses 38 spaced about the forearm sidewall 34 of the body 22. Any suitable spacing of the plurality of forearm recesses 38 can be provided. For instance, the plurality of forearm recesses 38 can be substantially equally spaced from each other about the forearm sidewall 34. The plurality of forearm recess 38 can all be sloped at the same angle, or at least one of the forearm recesses 38 can be sloped at a different angle than the other forearm recesses 38. The plurality of forearm recesses 38 can be substantially identical to each other. Alternatively, at least one of the plurality of forearm recesses 38 can be different from the other forearm recesses 38 in at least one respect, including, for example, size, shape, contour and/or slope.

The lap surface 36 of the posture enhancement device 20 can engage the lap of a seated person. The lap surface 36 can have any suitable shape. In one embodiment, the lap surface 36 can be generally circular. The lap surface 36 can be substantially flat. Alternatively, the lap surface 36 can include one or more non-flat features. For instance, the lap surface 36 can be contoured for ergonomic engagement with a user's lap. In one embodiment, at least one lap recess 40 can be provided in the lap surface 36 to receive at least a portion of a user's lap, as shown in FIG. 5. Alternatively, at least one protrusion 42 can extend from the lap surface in a generally downward direction away from the upper end, as shown in FIG. 6. The protrusion 42 can be centrally located on the lap surface 36. The protrusion 42 can extend at least partially across the lap surface 36. The protrusion 42 can have any suitable conformation. The protrusion 42 can be received between the legs of a user. Such additional features can increase the stability of the posture enhancement device 20 while it is supported on the lap of the user.

The upper region 30 of the posture enhancement device 20 can have any suitable conformation. In one embodiment, the upper region 30 can be generally hemispherical, as is shown in FIG. 3. The upper region 30 can be generally rounded so that sharp corners are minimized. Alternatively, the upper region 30 can include a substantially flat surface (see FIGS. 9 and 10). The upper region 30 of the posture enhancement device 20 can be adapted to support or engage a personal viewing item 44. For instance, the upper region 30 can include at least one item recess 46 sized to receive at least a portion of a personal viewing item 44.

It should be noted that the term “personal viewing item” is intended to mean any relatively small item that can be read or viewed by a user. Examples of a personal viewing item 44 include books, newspapers, magazines, cell phones, portable communication devices, portable entertainment devices, portable electronic devices, portable music devices, games, portable DVD players, digital cameras and iPods. The personal viewing item 44 can be electronic, or it can be non-electronic. The personal viewing item 44 can be something that is normally held in the hand, but the personal viewing item 44 is not limited to items which are handheld or require hand input.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, the base portion 28 of the posture enhancement device 20 can include an upturn lip 48. In one embodiment, the upturn lip 48 can extend continuously about the base portion 28 of the posture enhancement device 20, as is shown in FIG. 3. In another embodiment, the upturn lip 48 can extend partly about the base portion 28 of the posture enhancement device 20. In such case, there can be a single upturn lip 48, or there can be a plurality of upturn lips 48 spaced about the base portion 28 of the posture enhancement device 20. The plurality of upturn lips 48 can be substantially identical to each other, or at least one of the plurality of upturn lips 48 can be different from the other upturn lips in one or more respects.

The upturn lip 48 can define an elbow channel 50. The elbow channel 50 can have any suitable size and shape. In one embodiment, the elbow channel 50 can be sized and shaped to receive a human elbow. The configuration of the elbow channel 50 can be substantially uniform about the posture enhancement device 20. Alternatively, the configuration of the elbow channel 50 can be different in one or more respects in one or more locations, including, for example, in size, shape, depth and/or width, just to name a few possibilities.

The posture enhancement device 20 can be made out of any suitable material. For example, the posture enhancement device 20 can be made out of plastic, rubber, vinyl, leather, canvas, cloth, cotton, latex, styrofoam, polyurethane foam chips, down, bamboo or polyester, just to name a few possibilities. In one embodiment, the posture enhancement device 20 can be made out of memory foam or other viscoelastic foam material. Memory foam can allow an individual user of the posture enhancement device 20 to custom fit the posture enhancement device 20 to his or her own body.

The posture enhancement device 20 can have sufficient strength to support the forearm of a user and/or the personal viewing item 44. The posture enhancement device 20 can be sufficiently lightweight so that it can comfortably rest on a person's lap without causing any undue pain, pressure or discomfort. In one embodiment, the posture enhancement device 20 can weigh no more than about 2 pounds. In another embodiment, the posture enhancement device 20 can weigh no more than about 1 pound. In yet another embodiment, the posture enhancement device 20 can weigh no more than about 8 ounces.

The posture enhancement device 20 can be readily stored and carried by a user. For instance, if the posture enhancement device 20 is inflatable, formable, crushable, compactable, compressible and/or collapsible, the posture enhancement device 20 can be fit into a backpack or travel bag. Alternatively, the posture enhancement device 20 can include various features to facilitate its transport. For example, the posture enhancement device 20 can include at least one strap 52 (FIG. 5) so that the posture enhancement device 20 can be carried by hand, over a shoulder or like backpack.

The posture enhancement device 20 can have any suitable size. It will be appreciated that the posture enhancement device 20 can come in different sizes to account for variations in the size of the individual user. Again, the forearm sidewall 34 should be sufficiently long so that it can support a majority of the forearm of a user. The height H of the posture enhancement device 20 can be defined by the distance between the lap surface 36 and the upper end 32, as shown in FIG. 4. In one embodiment, the height H of the posture enhancement device 20 can be at least about 9 inches. In another embodiment, the height H of the posture enhancement device 20 can be from about 6 inches to about 15 inches. More particularly, the height H of the posture enhancement device 20 can be from about 6 inches to about 9 inches. Alternatively, the height H of the posture enhancement device 20 can be from about 9 inches to about 15 inches.

The posture enhancement device 20 can be adapted to allow at least the height H to be adjusted. To that end, the posture enhancement device 20 can be inflatable. In such case, the posture enhancement device 20 can be adapted to selectively permit allow air or other fluid to pass into or out of an interior chamber 24. For example, the posture enhancement device 20 can provide an inflation port, which can be, for example, an inflation valve 54 or valve stem. Alternatively or in addition, the posture enhancement device 20 can be made of a formable, crushable, compactable, compressible and/or collapsible material, including memory foam or any of the materials discussed above.

One way in which the posture enhancement device 20 can be used will now be described. It will be understood that the use of the posture enhancement device 20 is not limited to the description below, including, for example, the particular posture enhancement device 20 described and the order in which the steps are described. A human user 56 can be in a seated position. It should be noted that the term “seated position” is intended to be used generally and can include various seated positions. For instance, the term “seated position” can include a person sitting cross-legged, as shown in FIG. 8, and/or a person sitting with bent legs, as is shown in FIG. 9. Also, the term “seated person” is intended to mean sitting with a generally straight back in a generally vertical orientation, examples of which is shown in FIGS. 7-11. The person can have a forward lean or a backward lean.

The user 56 can have a head 58 with an eye 60. The eye 60 can have a pupil 62. The eye 60 can have an associated optical axis 63, which passes axially though the center of the pupil 62 of each eye 60. The user 56 can have an arm 64. The arm 64 can include an elbow 66, a forearm 68, a wrist 70 and a hand 72. While the following discussion will describe a single eye and/or a single arm, it will be understood that the following description applies equally to a second eye and/or a second arm. The user 56 also has a lap 74 and a sternum 71.

The posture enhancement device 20 can be placed on any suitable support surface. In one embodiment, the support surface can be the lap 74 of the user 56, as is shown in FIGS. 7-9. In such case, the lap surface 36 can engage at least a portion of the lap 74 of the user 56. The posture enhancement device 20 can include various features to improve the interface with the user 56. For instance, as is shown in FIG. 16, the posture enhancement device 20 can include one or more body recesses 80 to accommodate a portion of the user's body. For example, the body recess 80 can be sized and shaped to receive at least a portion of the abdomen of the user 56.

It should be noted that aspects of the invention are not limited to the posture enhancement device 20 being placed on the lap 74 of a user 56. Instead, the posture enhancement device 20 can be placed on any suitable support surface. For instance, the posture enhancement device 20 can be placed on a table 82, as is shown in FIG. 11. Regardless of whether the posture enhancement device 20 is supported on the user's lap 74, a table 82 or some other suitable support surface, the user's interaction with the posture enhancement device 20 can be substantially the same. Thus, it will be understood that the following description can have equal application to whatever suitable support surface is used.

The user 56 can place at least one of his or her elbows 66 into the elbow channel 50 of the posture enhancement device 20. The user 56 can set his or her forearm 68 against the forearm sidewall 34 and/or, if provided and if desired, the forearm recess 38 of the posture enhancement device 20. The forearm 68 can generally extend upwardly, generally at the angle of the forearm sidewall 34 and/or the forearm recess 38. Again, the forearm sidewall 34 can be sufficiently long to support a majority of the forearm 68 of the user 56. In one embodiment, the forearm sidewall 34 can support the forearm 34 from the elbow 66 up to about where the wrist 70 meets the hand 72. In some embodiments, at least a portion of the hand 72 can be supported as well.

The user 56 can hold a personal viewing item 44 in his or her hand 72. Depending on the forearm length of the particular user and the size of the personal viewing item 44, the personal viewing item 44 can be at least partially supported by the upper region 30 of the posture enhancement device 20, such as by the upper end 32, as shown in FIG. 13. The personal viewing item 44 can be held or supported by one or more features provided on the posture enhancement device 20. For example, at least a portion of the personal viewing item 44 can be inserted or otherwise received in the item recess 46 in the posture enhancement device 20, as shown in FIG. 14. In another embodiment, the user 56 can hold the personal viewing item 44 above the upper end 32 of the posture enhancement device 20, as shown in FIG. 12. It will be appreciated that a more rounded upper region 30 or otherwise an upper region 30 without sharp corners or sharp edges can minimize impingement of the device 20 on a user's forearm 68, wrist 70 and/or hand 72, so as not to detract from the comfort and/or enjoyment of the user 56.

When a user 56 engages a posture enhancement device 20 in accordance with aspects of the invention, the forearm sidewall 34 can support a majority of the forearm 68 of the user 56 and, when provided, the elbow channel 50 can receive the elbow 66 of the user 56. As a result, the hand 72 of the user 56 is positioned at the same elevation or a higher elevation than the sternum 71 of the user 56. With the hand 72 in such a position, the eye 60 of the user 56 will naturally follow the hand 72, which can be holding the personal viewing item 44. As a result, the head 58 of the user 56 will be kept up and in line with the hand 72 of the user 56 and/or the personal viewing item 44, thereby keeping a cervical portion 84 of the user's spine 86 in a neutral position, as is shown in FIG. 15.

According to aspects of the invention, at least a portion of a personal viewing item 44 held in the hand 72 of the user 56 will be substantially at eye level. If the personal viewing item 44 is not substantially at eye level, then the height H of the posture enhancement device 20 can be adjusted as needed by inflating, deflating, forming, compressing, crushing, collapsing, compacting, pushing, pulling and/or otherwise adjusting the posture enhancement device 20 until the viewing item 44 is substantially at eye level. In one embodiment, a majority of the personal viewing item 44 can be substantially at eye level. At such a level, the cervical portion 84 of a seated user's spine 86 will be in a neutral position.

The term “substantially at eye level” includes true eye level, in which the optical axis 63 of the user 56 is substantially horizontal and such optical axis 63 passes through at least a portion of the personal viewing item 44. The term “substantially at eye level” is also intended to include the optical axis 63, at least in the space between the eye 60 of the user 56 and the personal viewing item 44, being entirely within a region that is bounded by a first plane 76a about four inches vertically above and a second plane 76b about four inches vertically below a substantially horizontal plane 76 passing through the center of the pupil 62 of the eye 60.

Because the personal viewing item 44 is substantially at eye level, the user's head 58 is kept up in line with his or her hands 72 and/or the personal viewing item 44. As a result, the cervical portion 84 of the user's spine 86 can be kept in a neutral position, an example of which is shown in FIG. 15, and the seated user 56 can achieve an ergonomically correct posture when using the personal viewing item 44. Thus, a downward angle of the user's head 58, which has lead to so many problems in the past, is avoided and the future long term health issues that can develop because of such a position are minimized.

It should be noted that the posture enhancement device 20 according to aspects of the invention can optionally be used as a stand without being engaged by a user's arms and/or hands. In such case, the posture enhancement device 20 can be placed on any suitable support surface. FIG. 9 shows an instance in which the posture enhancement device 20 is supported on the user's lap 74. FIG. 10 shows another embodiment in which the posture enhancement device is supported on a table 82. Whatever support surface is used, the user can enjoy the personal viewing item 44 with the personal viewing item 44 being at the same elevation or at a higher elevation than the sternum 71 of the user 56 or substantially at eye level. The user 56 may not even need to hold or otherwise engage the personal viewing item 44.

A posture enhancement device 20 in accordance with aspects of the invention can provide numerous benefits. For instance, the posture enhancement device 20 is ergonomically safer, as noted above. It should be noted that the posture enhancement device 20 can also help minimize the problem of forward head posture. Further, the posture enhancement device 20 can provide greater stability. The posture enhancement device 20 can make it more comfortable to use the personal viewing item, thereby causing less fatigue and allowing for longer use. In instances where the personal viewing item 44 is an electronic game, the posture enhancement device 20 can place the user 56 closer to the screen (as opposed to when the device is resting in a user's lap), which can create a better playing experience. All of the above advantages can increase the user's overall enjoyment of the personal viewing item 44.

It will be understood that the invention is not limited to the specific details described herein, which are given by way of example only, and that various modifications and alterations are possible within the scope of the invention as defined in the following claims.