Title:
TRAVEL LAP DESK WITH MAGNETIC COUPLING
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A travel lap desk has a foam wedge that rests on, and is removably coupled to, a deformable pad. A first magnetic element is attached to the underside of the foam wedge and a second magnetic element is attached to the upper surface of the deformable pad. These magnetic elements are positioned to removably couple the foam wedge to the top of the deformable pad. The foam wedge is sufficiently stiff to provide a writing surface and yet is sufficiently compliant to deform when impacted by the user without causing injury to the user. The foam wedge may be covered with a washable material that may be removable.



Inventors:
Andochick, Scott E. (Potomac, MD, US)
Application Number:
12/554067
Publication Date:
03/10/2011
Filing Date:
09/04/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
108/28, 108/43, 248/444, 108/26
International Classes:
A47B23/00; A47B13/00; A47B13/16; A47B85/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WILKENS, JANET MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Leveque Intellectual Property Law, P.C. (FREDERICK, MD, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A travel lap desk comprising: a foam wedge; a first magnetic element attached to the underside of the foam wedge; a deformable pad sized to rest on the lap of a user of the travel lap desk; and a second magnetic element attached to the upper surface of the deformable pad; wherein the first and second magnetic elements are positioned to removably couple the foam wedge to the top of the deformable pad, and wherein the foam wedge is sufficiently stiff to provide a writing surface and sufficiently compliant to deform when impacted by the user without causing injury to the user.

2. A travel lap desk in accordance with claim 1, wherein the foam wedge is covered with a washable material.

3. A travel lap desk in accordance with claim 2, wherein the washable material is removable.

4. A travel lap desk in accordance with claim 1, wherein the deformable pad comprises a flexible bag containing a plurality of small objects.

5. A travel lap desk in accordance with claim 1, wherein the deformable pad comprises a flexible bag containing a gel.

6. A travel lap desk in accordance with claim 1, further comprising: a clip attached to the upper surface of the foam wedge and adapted to secure an object on the foam wedge.

7. A travel lap desk in accordance with claim 1, further comprising: at least one third magnetic element attached to a side of the foam wedge; a holder; and a fourth magnetic element attached to a side of the holder; wherein the holder is removably coupled to the foam wedge by magnetic attraction between the third and fourth magnetic elements.

8. A travel lap desk in accordance with claim 7, wherein the holder comprises a pen holder.

9. A travel lap desk in accordance with claim 7, wherein the holder comprises a pouch.

10. A travel lap desk comprising: a foam wedge; a first magnetic element attached to the underside of the foam wedge; a deformable pad sized to rest on the lap of a user of the travel lap desk; a second magnetic element attached to the upper surface of the deformable pad; a container; and a third magnetic element attached to the underside of the container; wherein the first, second and third magnetic elements are positioned to removably couple one of the foam wedge and the container to the top of the deformable pad, and wherein the foam wedge is sufficiently stiff to provide a writing surface and sufficiently compliant to deform when impacted by the user without causing injury to the user.

11. A travel lap desk in accordance with claim 10, wherein the container is a container selected from the group of containers consisting of a bowl, a food tray, a cup, and a cup holder.

12. A travel lap desk in accordance with claim 10, wherein the deformable pad comprises a bean-bag.

13. A travel lap desk in accordance with claim 10, further comprising a clip attached to the upper surface of the foam wedge and adapted to secure an object on the foam wedge.

14. A travel lap desk in accordance with claim 10, further comprising: at least one fourth magnetic element attached to a side of the foam wedge; a holder; and a fifth magnetic element attached to a side of the holder; wherein the holder is removably coupled to the foam wedge by magnetic attraction between the fourth and fifth magnetic elements.

Description:

BACKGROUND

A variety of lap trays and child activity trays are known in the art. Commonly, they are designed for use by a person seated in a bed or in a chair. For people seated in beds, the trays may be supported by the bed using legs attached to the tray. More generally, the trays are supported by the user's legs. The legs provide an uneven support surface, and a variety of means are used to stabilize a tray on a user's legs. These include shaping the underside of the tray to accommodate the user's legs, making the underside compliant, using foam rubber for example, so that the underside compresses to follow the shape of the legs, and making the underside of a bean-bag structure, that is, a flexible bag that contains many separate elements.

A disadvantage of many lap trays is that the working surface is constructed of a rigid material. This may be dangerous if the tray is to be used in a motor vehicle, since the user may impact the tray in the event of a crash or harsh maneuver.

A resilient safety cushion that may also be used to provide a surface for reading, writing, or other activities. A disadvantage of this design is that if the foam is stiff enough to be used as an activity surface, it is too stiff to deform to the users legs when placed on the users lap. As a result, the cushion does not sit securely on the user's lap. To overcome this disadvantage, the cushion may be attached to the user's seatbelt, to limit motion. However, this may make it difficult for smaller children to fix or remove the cushion.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

The accompanying figures, in which like reference numerals refer to identical or functionally similar elements throughout the separate views and which together with the detailed description below are incorporated in and form part of the specification, serve to further illustrate various embodiments and to explain various principles and advantages all in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic representation of an example travel lap desk in accordance with some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a further diagrammatic representation of an example travel lap desk in accordance with some embodiments of the invention.

Skilled artisans will appreciate that elements in the figures are illustrated for simplicity and clarity and have not necessarily been drawn to scale. For example, the dimensions of some of the elements in the figures may be exaggerated relative to other elements to help to improve understanding of embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Before describing in detail embodiments that are in accordance with the present invention, it should be observed that the embodiments reside primarily in combinations of method steps and apparatus components related to a travel lap desk with magnetic coupling. Accordingly, the apparatus components have been represented where appropriate by conventional symbols in the drawings, showing only those specific details that are pertinent to understanding the embodiments of the present invention so as not to obscure the disclosure with details that will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art having the benefit of the description herein.

In this document, relational terms such as first and second, top and bottom, and the like may be used solely to distinguish one entity or action from another entity or action without necessarily requiring or implying any actual such relationship or order between such entities or actions. The terms “comprises,”“comprising,” or any other variation thereof, are intended to cover a non-exclusive inclusion, such that a process, method, article, or apparatus that comprises a list of elements does not include only those elements but may include other elements not expressly listed or inherent to such process, method, article, or apparatus. An element preceded by “comprises . . . a” does not, without more constraints, preclude the existence of additional identical elements in the process, method, article, or apparatus that comprises the element.

One embodiment of the present invention relates to travel lap desk that includes a foam wedge that rests on, and is removably coupled to, a deformable pad. A first magnetic element is attached to the underside of the foam wedge and a second magnetic element is attached to the upper surface of the deformable pad. These magnetic elements are positioned to enable the foam wedge to be removably coupled to the top of the deformable pad.

The foam wedge is sufficiently stiff to provide a writing surface and yet is sufficiently compliant to deform, when impacted by the user, without causing injury to the user. The foam wedge may have a washable covering that, in turn, may be removable.

The deformable pad is sized to rest on the lap of a user of the travel lap desk.

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic representation of an example travel lap desk 100 in accordance with some embodiments of the invention. In this embodiment, the travel lap desk includes a foam wedge 102 and a deformable pad 104. The foam wedge 102 is removably coupled to the deformable pad 104 using a pair of magnetic elements. The pair of magnetic elements comprises a first magnetic element 106 attached to the underside of the foam wedge 102 and second magnetic element 108 attached to the upper surface of the deformable pad 104. One, or both, of the magnetic elements may be a magnet. In FIG. 1, the foam wedge and deformable pad are shown decoupled. Coupling is achieved by bringing the two magnetic elements within proximity of one another, as indicated by arrow 110. Magnetic attraction between the magnetic elements draws the elements together and forms the coupling. In this embodiment, only a single pair of magnetic elements is used, but multiple pairs could be used.

In one embodiment, the deformable pad 104 comprises a flexible bag containing multiple small objects. This is commonly called a ‘bean-bag’, although the small objects may be constructed of man-made materials, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or expanded polystyrene foam pellets, or the small objects may be natural materials, such as dried beans or rice.

In a further embodiment the deformable pad 104 comprises a flexible bag containing a gel.

The deformable pad may be constructed from, or covered with, a water resistant material, such as a flexible plastic or vinyl, so that it resists liquid spills and may be easily wiped clean.

The foam wedge may be covered with a water resistant material, such as a flexible plastic or vinyl, so that it resists liquid spills and may be easily wiped clean. The cover may be removable for washing or it may be permanent.

In accordance with another embodiment of the invention, a third magnetic element 112 is attached to the underside of a container 114. This allows the container 114 (rather than the foam wedge 102) to be removably attached to the deformable pad 104. The container 114 may be a cup, cup holder, food tray or bowl, for example.

FIG. 2 is a further diagrammatic representation of an example travel lap desk 100 in accordance with some embodiments of the invention. In FIG. 2, the foam wedge 102 is shown coupled to the deformable pad 104. In use, the deformable pad 104 is placed on the legs of a seated user. The resulting deformation of the deformable pad 104 allows the travel lap desk 100 to sit securely and comfortably on the lap of the user. In this position, the upper surface 200 of the foam wedge is angled towards the user and provides a flat surface on which various activities may be performed, such as reading, writing and drawing, for example.

The upper surface 200 of the foam wedge 102 may be covered with, or constructed from, a rubber-like material to reduce the chance of objects slipping on the desk.

The material of the foam wedge 102 is selected to be stiff enough to provide support for activities such as writing and drawing, but is deformable so that if the travel lap desk is used in a vehicle it will provide a degree of protection to the user in the event of an a crash or harsh maneuver. This is preferable to a hard object, such as a rigid desk, which could be harmful to the user in the event of a crash or harsh maneuver. Open or closed cell foam may be used.

In one embodiment, the travel lap desk includes a clip 202 attached to the foam wedge 102. The clip 202 may be a spring clip, for example. The clip 202 may be used to secure objects, such as books, sheets of paper, personal electronic devices etc., to the upper surface 200 of the travel lap desk.

Other elements may be coupled to the travel lap desk 100 using magnetic coupling. For example, in FIG. 2, magnetic elements 204 and 206 may be used to couple other objects, such as holders, to the travel lap desk. For example, a pouch or container 208 may be equipped with a magnetic element 210 that couples to magnetic element 204 (or 206) on the travel lap desk. The pouch may be used to hold objects, such as writing implements, for the convenience of the user. A pen holder 212, with attached magnetic element 214, may be used to hold a single writing or drawing implement.

In one embodiment, the magnetic elements 204 and 206 are magnets, in which case any object with a ferrous component may be attached to the travel lap desk.

Other attachment methods, such as hook-and-loop fasteners could be used. However, a magnetic coupling has the advantage that an object may be attached and removed easily, without undue force on the travel lap desk. A further benefit of a magnetic coupling is that, to some extent, it is self-aligning, since the paired magnetic elements are drawn together by magnetic attraction once they are close to one another. This feature is not found in hook-and-loop fasteners. A still further benefit is that magnetic elements provide a smooth surface that easy to keep clean.

A further advantage is that the magnetic element, 108 in FIG. 1, on the upper surface of the deformable pad 104 may alternatively be used to hold items other than the foam wedge 102. For example, it may be used to hold a cup, bowl, food tray, basket or other container that has a corresponding magnetic element attached to its underside.

In the foregoing specification, specific embodiments of the present invention have been described. However, one of ordinary skill in the art appreciates that various modifications and changes can be made without departing from the scope of the present invention as set forth in the claims below. Accordingly, the specification and figures are to be regarded in an illustrative rather than a restrictive sense, and all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention. The benefits, advantages, solutions to problems, and any element(s) that may cause any benefit, advantage, or solution to occur or become more pronounced are not to be construed as a critical, required, or essential features or elements of any or all the claims. The invention is defined solely by the appended claims including any amendments made during the pendency of this application and all equivalents of those claims as issued.