Title:
Collapsible Infant Support
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is directed toward an infant support including a frame and an infant seat. The frame includes a first frame member pivotally coupled to a second frame member. The footers of the frame member are curved to permit the rocking of the frame on its support surface. The seat includes angled wall portions that define an offset lowest point. With this configuration, a child placed within the seat is safely positioned within the seat such that the child experiences a front-to-back rocking motion.



Inventors:
Chapman, Linda J. (Corfu, NY, US)
Moulin, Margo Block (Buffalo, NY, US)
Taton, Justin C. (Clarence, NY, US)
Application Number:
12/644311
Publication Date:
06/23/2011
Filing Date:
12/22/2009
Assignee:
Mattel, Inc. (El Segundo, CA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/120, 297/271.5
International Classes:
A45F3/22; A47D1/02; A47D13/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20160059758SEAT LEVELER FOR FRAGILE CARGOMarch, 2016Huebner et al.
20070075574James alert car seatApril, 2007James
20080036186Active Headrest SystemFebruary, 2008Schockmel
20110272995ASSISTING PASSENGERS TO SLEEP WHILE SITTINGNovember, 2011Rothschild
20160082915Vehicle Safety SeatMarch, 2016Madaras
20070290539ChairDecember, 2007Hosoe et al.
20060138821Chair backrestJune, 2006Pan
20030184134Chair in combination with a hangerOctober, 2003Liu
20140084640Sturdy Fold Down SeatMarch, 2014Walker
20050242644Method for filling at least two receptacles and pneumatic circuit for carrying out said methodNovember, 2005Bauer et al.
20150216310COLLAPSIBLE CHAIRAugust, 2015Haertl et al.



Primary Examiner:
ABRAHAM, TANIA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mattel, Inc. - Patent Group (El Segundo, CA, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An infant support structure, comprising: a frame assembly including: a first frame member, and a second frame member pivotally coupled to the first frame member, each of the first frame member and the second frame member including a footer configured to rock on a support surface; and a infant support portion coupled to the frame, the support portion defining a receptacle in which an infant may be placed, the support portion comprising a first end, a second end opposite to the first end, a first side, and a second side opposite to the first side, the first side being coupled to the first frame portion, the second side being coupled to the second frame portion, the support portion having a lowermost point, the lowermost point being located closer to the second end than to the first end.

2. The infant support structure of claim 1, wherein the first end and the second end of the support portion are located at different heights relative to a support surface.

3. The infant support structure of claim 1, wherein the support portion is a fabric member, the fabric member being suspended from the first frame portion and the second frame portion.

4. The infant support structure of claim 1, wherein the support portion includes a first side portion, a second side portion, and a body portion extending from the first end to the second end and being coupled to the first side portion and to the second side portion.

5. The infant support structure of claim 4, further comprising: an insert member being configured to be placed proximate to the body portion, the insert member maintaining the first side portion and the second side portion spaced apart when an infant is placed in the receiving area.

6. The infant support structure of claim 5, wherein the insert member has a width and the body portion has a width, the width of the insert member being substantially the same as the width of the body portion.

7. The infant support structure of claim 1, wherein the frame assembly further comprises a first hub and a second hub, the first frame member being coupled to the first hub and the second hub, the second frame member being coupled to the first hub and the second hub, the first and second hubs permitting the rotation of the first frame member with respect to the second frame member; and at least one of the first hub and the second hub includes a locking mechanism configured to selectively release the first frame member to permit the rotation of the frame members toward each other to collapse the frame assembly.

8. A rocking hammock, comprising: a frame assembly including: a first rocking portion including a curved lower end configured to rock on a support surface; a second rocking portion being coupled to the first rocking portion, the second rocking portion including a curved lower end configured to rock on a support surface; and an infant seat supported by the frame, the infant seat including: a flexible support portion, the support portion being coupled to the first rocking portion and to the second rocking portion, the support portion defining a receiving area in which an infant may be placed, the support portion defining a width; and a resilient insert member, the insert member disposed proximate to the support portion, the insert being configured to maintain the width of the support portion when an infant is placed in the receiving area.

9. The rocking hammock of claim 8, wherein the insert member comprises a unitary band that defines a central opening.

10. The rocking hammock of claim 8, wherein the infant seat has a first end and a second end opposite to the first end, the insert member being located closer to the first end than to the second end.

11. An infant support structure comprising: a frame including at least one rocking portion configured to engage a support surface; and a receiving assembly coupled to the frame, the receiving assembly defining a receptacle in which an infant may be placed, the receiving assembly including a flexible support member having a trunk portion and a foot portion coupled to the back portion, the trunk portion and the foot portion being disposed at an angle relative to each other, the trunk portion including a resilient brace configured to maintain the orientation and position of the infant placed in the receptacle.

12. The infant support structure of claim 11, wherein the resilient brace is fixedly coupled to the support member.

13. The infant support structure of claim 12, wherein the support member includes a first fabric member and a second fabric member, the first fabric member and second fabric member defining a cavity therebetween, the resilient brace being located in the cavity.

14. The infant support structure of claim 11, wherein the trunk portion has a length and the foot portion has a length, and the length of the trunk portion being greater than the length of the foot portion.

15. The infant support structure of claim 14, wherein the trunk portion includes sides and a bottom, and the resilient brace extends substantially along the length, sides, and bottom of the trunk portion.

16. A rocking infant support comprising: a frame assembly including: a first frame member comprising: a footer bar operable to rock along a supporting surface, and a header bar oriented in spaced relation from the footer bar, and a second frame member comprising: a footer bar operable to rock along a supporting surface, and a header bar oriented in spaced relation from the footer bar; and a flexible seat assembly suspended from the frame assembly, the flexible seat comprising a flexible wall operable to support an infant, wherein the wall includes a trunk portion coupled to a foot portion, the trunk portion being oriented at an acute angle with respect to the foot portion.

17. The rocking infant support of claim 16 further comprising: a substantially rigid support brace housed within the flexible wall of the seat assembly.

18. The rocking infant support of claim 16, wherein the frame assembly further comprises a hub assembly, the hub pivotally couples the first frame member to the second frame member in an intersecting relationship, and the frame assembly pivots between an open configuration to a closed configuration.

19. The rocking infant support of claim 18, wherein the hub assembly comprises: a first hub member, and a second hub member oriented coaxially with the first hub member, the first frame member being longitudinally offset from the second hub member.

20. The rocking infant support of claim 16, wherein the flexible seat assembly further comprises: a first longitudinal wall coupled to the header bar of the first frame member, and a second longitudinal wall coupled to the header bar of the second frame member, the flexible wall is a bottom wall oriented between the first and second longitudinal walls.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an infant support and, in particular, to a rocking infant support that folds from a deployed configuration to a collapsed configuration.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Parents have available to them a myriad of infant support devices. For example, infant mats or gyms are easily portable, and provide an infant with a comfortable, sanitary place to rest. While infant mats can be easily packed away into a car or a diaper bag, such supports cannot be rocked or otherwise manipulated to soothe and pacify the infant. Bassinets and cradles, furthermore, are typically not easy to collapse for storage or transport. Conventional bassinets are not capable of being rocked and, while sturdy, are often expensive, especially when considering that they are generally only used during the infant's first months. As a result, strollers are often used as makeshift cribs when traveling. While many strollers can be quickly collapsed and stored into a trunk or back seat, they are generally not recommended for use with very small infants as a portable crib or cradle because the seat portion does not offer adequate support for the infant's back and neck.

Thus, it would be desirable to provide an infant support that is easily portable, securely supports and infant, and takes advantage of the relaxing and sleep inducing effects produced by gentle rocking motion.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed toward an infant support device including a frame and an infant seat. The frame includes a first frame member pivotally coupled to a second frame member via a hub assembly. In one embodiment, the frame includes two hub assemblies. The footers of the frame members are curved to permit the rocking of the frame along a supporting surface. The seat includes angled wall portions that form an offset support. With this configuration, a child placed within the seat is safely supported on the seat and is oriented at a predetermined support angle. The infant support device may be selectively reconfigured from a deployed configuration to a folded/stowed configuration, and vice versa.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a front perspective view of a rockable infant support in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates a front perspective view of the infant support shown in FIG. 1, with the seat removed for clarity.

FIG. 3 illustrates a close-up view of stop members in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate views of a hub in accordance with and embodiment of the invention. Specifically, FIG. 4A illustrates a close-up perspective view of the forward hub, and FIG. 4B illustrates an exploded view of the forward hub.

FIG. 5 illustrates a front view in plan of the frame shown in FIG. 2.

FIGS. 6A and 6B illustrate the infant support oriented in its stowed configuration. Specifically, FIG. 6A illustrates the frame of FIG. 5 oriented in its stowed configuration, and FIG. 6B illustrates a side view in plan of the frame shown in FIG. 6A.

FIGS. 7A and 7B illustrate the seat in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. Specifically, FIG. 7A illustrates a top view in plan, and FIG. 7B illustrates a side view in plan.

FIG. 8A illustrates a top view of a seat brace in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 8B illustrates a top view of a seat brace in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 8C illustrates the seat brace of FIG. 8B secured within the seat of FIG. 7A.

FIG. 9 illustrates a front perspective view of the device shown in FIG. 1 oriented in its stowed configuration.

FIG. 10 illustrates a side perspective view of the infant support shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 11 illustrates a close-up perspective view of a mounting component of the infant support shown in FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 illustrates another close-up perspective view of the mounting component shown in FIG. 11.

FIG. 13 illustrates an end view of the mounting component shown in FIG. 11.

FIG. 14 illustrates a side view of the mounting component shown in FIG. 11 and a portion of the seat of the infant support.

FIG. 15 illustrates a close-up view of the mounting component and seat portion shown in FIG. 14 assembled.

FIG. 16 illustrates a front perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a rockable infant support.

FIG. 17 illustrates a side view of the infant support shown in FIG. 16.

FIG. 18 illustrates a bottom perspective view of components of the infant support shown in FIG. 16 and viewed from one side.

FIG. 19 illustrates another bottom perspective view of the components of the infant support shown in FIG. 18 and viewed from another side.

Like reference numerals have been used to identify like elements throughout this disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The terms “support,” “support device,” and “support structure” are used to refer to any frame or support that is configured to provide support for an object. The terms “infant support,” “infant support device,” and “infant support structure” are used to refer to any frame or support that can be used to support an infant in a stationary manner or in a moving manner. Some exemplary infant support structures are swings, bassinets, playards, cribs, jumping devices, bouncers, high chairs, rockers, hammocks, etc. The terms “child” and “infant” may be used interchangeably herein. The terms “trunk” and “torso” may be used interchangeably herein.

Referring to FIG. 1, the infant support 100 according to the present invention includes a frame assembly 110 that supports an infant seat assembly or receptacle 120 (also called an infant support portion) above a supporting surface. The frame assembly 110 includes mounting components to couple softgoods to the frame assembly 110, as described in greater detail below. In FIG. 1, only mounting components 1010 and 1020 are shown.

As shown in FIG. 2, the frame assembly 110 includes a first frame member 210 and a second frame member 215. The first frame member 210 defines a generally rectangular structure including a rear lateral bar 220A oriented in spaced, generally parallel relation from a forward lateral bar 225A. Similarly, an upper crossbar or header 230A is oriented in spaced, generally parallel relation from a lower crossbar or footer 235A. Specifically, the header 230A extends between the lateral bars 220A, 225A proximate their upper terminal ends, while the footer 235A extends between the lateral bars 220A, 225A proximate their lower terminal ends. In this embodiment, the header 230A has opposite ends or end portions 230C and 230D that have the same length and extend the same distance from the main portion of the header 230A.

The second frame member 215 possesses a similar structure, having a rear lateral bar 220B oriented in spaced, generally parallel relation from a forward lateral bar 225B, as well as an upper crossbar or header 230B, is oriented in spaced, generally parallel relation from a lower crossbar or footer 235B. Specifically, the header 230B extends between the lateral bars 220B, 225B proximate their upper terminal ends, while the footer 235B extends between the lateral bars proximate their lower terminal ends. In this embodiment, the header 230B has opposite ends or end portions 230E and 230F that have the same length and extend the same distance from the main portion of the header 230B. As described below, in different embodiments, the lengths of the end portions of the headers can vary.

The headers 230A, 230B support the infant seat 120 (discussed in greater detail below). The footers 235A, 235B contact a supporting surface, such as the floor. In this embodiment, the headers 230A, 230B and/or the footers 235A, 235B may possess a generally arcuate shape having a predetermined radius of curvature. Preferably, the footers 235A, 235B possess an arcuate shape that defines a curved surface along which the frame assembly 110 may be rocked. With this configuration, the frame assembly 110 rocks longitudinally (front to back along an axis defined by the hubs, also discussed in greater detail below), providing a soothing effect to an infant supported by the seat.

The shape and dimensions of the frame members 210, 215 of the frame assembly 110 may be any suitable for their described purpose. In the embodiment of FIG. 2, the first frame member 210 possesses a height (measured between the header and footer) and width (measured between lateral bars) substantially equal to that of the second frame member 215.

Referring to FIG. 2, the components of frame member 210 are coupled together using swaged or tapered ends and spring-loaded buttons, such as valco buttons. In particular, the ends or end portions 230C and 230D of header 230A are swaged so that they are insertable into the upper ends of lateral bars 220A and 225A. Similarly, the ends of footer 235A are swaged so that they are insertable into the lower ends of lateral bars 220A and 225A. Valco buttons or tabs are inserted into the ends of the lateral bars 220A and 225A and include projections (such as projections 231 and 233 in FIG. 2) that extend through openings in the lateral bars 220A and 225A and the corresponding header 230A or footer 235A to couple the particular components together. Similarly, the components of frame member 215 are configured and assembled in the same manner.

The frame assembly 110 may further include one or more stop members 240 placed at predetermined locations along the frame members 210, 215. In the illustrated embodiment, the first frame member 210 includes two stop members 240, each being positioned proximate the longitudinal ends of its associated footer 235A and generally aligned with a corresponding lateral bar 220A or 225A. Similarly, the second frame member 215 includes two stop members 240, each being positioned proximate the longitudinal ends of its footer 235B and generally aligned with a corresponding lateral bar 220B or 225B.

The stop members 240 are configured to selectively engage the supporting surface to prevent over rotation of the infant support 100 while rocking longitudinally along the supporting surface. FIG. 3 is close-up view of a stop member 240 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. As illustrated, the stop member 240 includes a top surface 310 and a bottom surface 320. The top surface 310 is generally contoured to the corner curvature of its associated frame member 210, 215. The bottom surface 320, in contrast, may be generally planar; consequently, the stop member 240 possesses a generally inclined structure having an interior end 330 with a height that is less than the height of an exterior end 340. In operation, the bottom surface 320 contacts the supporting surface as the infant support 100 is rocked/rotated thereon, preventing over rotation of the frame assembly 110 in the forward or rearward direction.

The frame members 210, 215 are coupled to each other via a hub assembly. Referring back to FIG. 2, the infant support device 100 includes a first or forward hub assembly 250 and a second or rearward hub assembly 255. In one embodiment, the forward hub 250 may be generally coaxial with the rearward hub 255 along a substantially horizontal axis. In an alternative embodiment, the forward hub 250 may be vertically offset from the rearward hub 255. The hub assemblies 250, 255 secure the frame members 210, 215 such that the frame members intersect. Referring to FIG. 2, the hub assemblies 250, 255 are coupled to the frame members 210, 215 in such a way that the substantially similarly configured frame members 210, 215 can collapse proximate to each other. As shown, hub assembly 250 retains lateral bar 225A outside of lateral bar 225B and hub assembly 255 retains lateral bar 220A outside of lateral bar 220B. This offset configuration allows the frame members 210, 215 to be collapsed in a reduced profile and provides overlapping frame portions for the support structure for the device 100.

FIGS. 4A and 4B show the structure of the forward hub 250 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The forward hub 250 includes a first or exterior subassembly 405 and a second or interior subassembly 410. The exterior subassembly 405 includes an exterior or annular cap 415 that cooperates with a first or outer housing 420 to capture the forward lateral bar 225A of the first frame member 210. The second subassembly 410 further includes a second or inner housing 425 that cooperates with an interior or closed cap 430 to capture the forward lateral bar 225B of the second frame member 215. Thus, the forward lateral bars 225A, 225B are disposed in spaced relation along substantially parallel planes. These substantially parallel planes are vertically oriented. The rearward hub 255 includes a structure similar to that of the forward hub 250, orienting the rearward lateral bars 220A, 220B in parallel, spaced relation.

As mentioned above, the hubs 250, 255 may position the frame members 210, 215 such that the frame members are longitudinally offset (seen in FIG. 6B) with respect to each other. That is, the rearward lateral bar 220A of the first frame member 210 is captured within the interior subassembly 410 of the rearward hub 255, while the forward lateral bar 225A of the first frame member 210 is captured within the exterior subassembly 405 of the forward hub 250. Conversely, the rearward lateral bar 220B of the second frame member 215 is captured within the exterior subassembly 405 of the rearward hub 255, while the forward lateral bar 225B of the second frame member 215 is captured within the interior subassembly 410 of the forward hub 250.

The first subassembly 405 may be rotatably coupled to the second subassembly 410 (or vice versa) to permit the rotation of each frame member 210, 215 with respect to each other. Specifically, the first subassembly 405 rotates about the hub axis such that it can be rotationally displaced with respect to the second subassembly 410 (or vice versa). As a result, the frame members 210, 215 may be pivoted to reorient the infant support 100 from a deployed or expanded configuration to a collapsed or stowed configuration.

In addition, one or both of the hubs 250, 255 may further include a lock mechanism that selectively secures the subassemblies 405, 410 with respect to each other, preventing their rotation and securing the frame members 210, 215 in a predetermined orientation. Referring to FIG. 4B, the components of an embodiment of the hub assembly 250 is illustrated. Hub assembly 255 has similar components to hub assembly 250.

Referring to FIG. 4B, the hub assembly 250 includes an axially displaceable gear 440 and a biasing member 445 (e.g., a spring) captured between the exterior housing 420 and the interior housing 425. The exterior housing 420 is internally keyed such that it accepts the gear in predetermined rotational positions. By way of specific example, the gear 440 (which is generally coaxial with the hub 250) may include a plurality of slots angularly spaced along the gear. The exterior housing 420, moreover, may include a plurality of angularly spaced teeth or ribs extending from the interior surface of the housing. The slots of the gear 440 are configured to receive the ribs of the exterior housing 420 when aligned therewith. With this configuration, when the gear 440 is oriented in a predetermined rotational position, the slots and ribs align, resulting in the meshed engagement of the gear 440 and the exterior housing 420.

The interior space of the interior housing 425, in contrast, permits the rotation of the gear 440 when the gear 440 is positioned therein. Thus, when the gear 440 is oriented within the interior housing 425, rotation between the subassemblies 405, 410 is permitted.

The biasing member 445 biases the gear 440 into engagement with the exterior housing 420. The annular cap 415 includes a depressible actuator 435 operable to axially displace the gear from its normal, engaged position (meshed with exterior housing 420), to its disengaged position (i.e., positioned within interior housing 425). In operation, engaging the actuator 435 displaces the gear 440 from the exterior housing 420 and into the interior housing 425. This, in turn, releases the first subassembly 405, permitting its rotation about the hub axis with respect to the second subassembly 410. Once the ribs and slots align, the biasing member 445 drives the gear back into engagement with the exterior housing, rotationally locking the subassemblies 405, 410.

Referring to FIG. 4B, the interior cap 430 includes an edge 431 that defines a notch 433 that receives forward lateral bar 225B. The interior housing 425 includes an edge 427 that defines a notch 429 that receives forward lateral bar 225B. Thus, the forward lateral bar 225B is captured between the interior cap 430 and the interior housing 425. Similarly, the annular cap 415 has an edge 417 that defines a notch 419 that receives forward lateral bar 225A and the exterior housing 420 has an edge 421 that defines a notch 423 that receives forward lateral bar 225A. Thus, the forward lateral bar 225A is captured between the annular cap 415 and the exterior housing 420.

With the above-described configuration, the frame assembly 110 may be selectively rotated between a deployed configuration to a stowed configuration. As illustrated in FIG. 5, in the deployed configuration, the subassemblies 405, 410 position the upper portions of the frame members 210, 215 (i.e., the portions above the hub assemblies 250 and 255) at a predetermined deployment angle A with respect to each other (e.g., 45°). Engaging or depressing the actuator 435 disengages the lock to release the subassemblies 405, 410 of the hubs assemblies 250, 255, permitting the rotation of the first frame member 210 and/or the second frame member 215.

Specifically, applying a force to the headers 230A, 230B (along the directions of arrows R) rotates the first frame member 210 toward the second frame member 215. The frame members 210, 215 are rotated until the stowed configuration is achieved, such as the configuration illustrated in FIGS. 6A and 6B. Referring to FIGS. 6A and 6B, which are end and side views, the frame members 210, 215 are placed proximate to each other in this collapsed or stowed configuration.

The seat or seat assembly 120 receives and supports an infant therein. The seat 120 may possess a generally elongated shape formed to hold an infant when the infant support 100 is in its deployed configuration. The seat 120 is suspended from the frame assembly 110. Specifically, the seat 120 is supported by the headers 230A, 230B of the frame members 210 and 215, respectively, such that the longitudinal axis of the seat 120 is oriented substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis of the frame assembly 110. That is, the longitudinal axis of seat 120 is oriented generally parallel to the rocking axis so that a child positioned in the receptacle and facing forward will rock from front-to-back in the manner of a rocking chair.

Referring to FIG. 7A, the seat 120 includes a first longitudinal or side wall 710 and a second longitudinal or side wall 715 opposite to the first side wall 710. As illustrated, the first side wall 710 is coupled to the header 230A of first frame member 210 and the second side wall 715 is coupled to the header 230B of the second frame member 215. The side walls 710, 715 are coupled to a bottom wall or body 720. Specifically, the first side wall 710 extends distally (downward) from the header 230A of the first frame member 210 and connects to the first longitudinal edge 725 of the bottom wall 720 (e.g., via stitching). Similarly the second side wall 715 extends distally from the header 230B of the second frame member 215 and connects to second longitudinal edge 730 of the bottom wall 720. Each of the side walls 710 and 715 may include some mesh material.

The bottom wall 720 is defined by a first or forward transverse end 735 and an opposed second or rearward transverse end 740, each extending between longitudinal edges 725, 730. The bottom wall 720 is formed by a first or trunk portion or torso portion 745 operable to support the trunk or torso of an infant and a second or foot portion 750 operable to support the legs and/or feet of the infant.

The seat 120 is contoured to suspend an infant in a predetermined orientation. In one embodiment, the seat 120 possesses an L-shaped sling structure (when viewed from the side), with the trunk or torso portion 745 being oriented at an acute angle with respect to the foot portion 750. In other embodiments, the angle between the trunk or torso portion 745 and the foot portion 750 can vary.

As shown in FIG. 7B, the bottom wall 720 of the seat 120 slopes downward (away from the headers 230A, 230B) as it extends longitudinally along the frame assembly 110 (from back to front). Specifically, the trunk portion 745 of the bottom wall 720 slopes downward a predetermined distance h1 to a lowermost point 755. By way of example, the trunk portion 745 may possess an incline of approximately 25°-35° (e.g., about 30°). The foot portion 750 of the bottom wall 720 slopes upward (toward the headers 230A, 230B) a predetermined distance h2 from point 755 such that the first/forward transverse end 735 of the bottom wall 720 is located at approximately the same height as the second/rearward transverse end 740 of the bottom wall.

This trunk portion 745 possesses a length (longitudinal dimension) that is greater than the length (longitudinal dimension) of the foot portion 750. With this described configuration, the bottom wall 720 possesses a lowermost point 755 that is longitudinally offset along the seat. That is, the lowermost point 755 is located closer to the first/forward transverse end 735 (and, as such, the forward hub 250) than to the second/rearward transverse end 740. This difference in length provides greater support area for the trunk or torso of an infant and less for the legs of the infant, which often may be folded while resting or sleeping.

Referring to FIG. 7B, the device 100 includes fabric portions 960 and 970 that are coupled to the frame members 210 and 215. Fabric portion 960 has two sleeve portions that are configured to receive lateral bars 225A and 225B. The fabric portion 960 covers the area between lateral bars 225A and 225B when the frame assembly 110 is in its deployed configuration, thereby preventing the insertion of any object or body part in the area and reducing the likelihood of an pinching or capturing of such an object or body part. Similarly, fabric portion 970 has two sleeve portions that are configured to receive lateral bars 220A and 220B. The fabric portion 970 covers the area between lateral bars 220A and 220B when the frame assembly 110 is in its deployed configuration.

The seat 120 may be configured to collapse or fold when the frame assembly is reconfigured from its deployed/open configuration (FIG. 1) to its collapsed/stowed configuration. In a preferred embodiment, this is accomplished by forming the walls 710, 715, 720 of the seat 120 individually or collectively out of flexible/pliable softgoods material (e.g., natural or synthetic fabrics). By way of specific example, the seat 120 may be formed of fabric and/or mesh sheets, with the side walls 710, 715 folded around the headers 230A, 230B and secured releasably thereto by releasable fasteners (e.g., snap fasteners) or secured permanently thereto (e.g., via sewing). With this configuration, the seat 120 is suspended from the headers 230A, 230B, providing a hammock or sling effect.

The seat 120 may further include a substantially rigid or resilient support brace or insert member configured to provide support for an infant and/or to maintain the side walls 710, 715 in spaced relation when an infant is positioned on the seat 120. The support brace 800 may possess any shape and dimensions suitable for its described purpose (e.g., to maintain the orientation and position of an infant placed in the seat 120). By way of example, the support brace 800 may possess a generally oval or elliptical shape, and may be generally contoured to the slope of the back wall portion 745 of the bottom wall 720. The brace 800 may possess a width substantially equal to that of the back wall portion 745. Stated another way, the transverse dimension of the support brace may be substantially equal to the transverse dimension of the trunk portion 745 of the bottom wall 720 (measured between longitudinal edges 725, 730). Similarly, the longitudinal dimension of the brace 800 may be substantially equal to the longitudinal dimension of the back wall 745, extending from second/rearward transverse edge 740 to the lowermost point 755.

Referring to FIG. 8A, the brace 800 may be in the form of a band having an exterior edge 810 and an interior edge 820 that defines a central opening 830. The band functions as a frame for the trunk portion 745 of the bottom wall 720, with the infant being positioned within the opening 830. In one embodiment, the brace 800 may have a curved configuration when viewed from the side. In another embodiment, the brace 800 may be substantially planar.

Referring to FIG. 8B, the brace 800 may be in the form of a generally continuous, contoured planar member including a central panel 850 in communication with upward-sloping (curved) side walls 860A, 860B running longitudinally along the panel, and an upward-sloping transverse bottom wall 870 running along the forward transverse end of the panel. The central panel 850 may include one or more apertures 880 configured to provide airflow with the apertures 880 being located beneath the trunk or torso of the infant. With this configuration, the brace 800 provides a contoured, rigid support for an infant placed within the seat 120.

The support brace 800 may be affixed to the seat 120 via an internal receptacle formed into the bottom wall 720 by multiple pieces of fabric. By way of example, the trunk portion 745 of the bottom wall 720 may define a pocket or sleeve that receives the support brace 800. That is, the trunk portion 745 may include a first fabric member and a second fabric member connected to the first fabric member so as to define a cavity therebetween. The cavity possesses dimensions sufficient to receive the support brace 800 (e.g., the cavity may possess dimensions slightly larger than the dimensions of the support brace). Referring to FIG. 8C, the support brace 800 is illustrated in position within the seat 120.

The support brace 800 may be permanently secured within the receptacle. In one embodiment, the receptacle may be sewn closed to retain the support brace 800 therein. In another embodiment, the support brace 800 may be coupled directly to the fabric by stitching or some other mechanism or technique. Alternatively, the support brace 800 may releasably secured within the receptacle to permit its selective insertion into and removal from the seat 120. For example, the trunk portion 745 of the bottom wall 720 may include an opening selectively secured by snaps, buttons, and/or a zipper.

The foot portion 750 of the bottom wall 720 preferably does not include a support brace 800. It should be understood, however, that the foot portion 750 may be provided with a brace having a structure similar to the support brace described above.

In operation, an infant is placed within the seat such that the back of the infant rests against (is supported by) the trunk portion 745 of the bottom wall 720 and the feet are oriented within foot portion 750 of the bottom wall. In this orientation, the infant is in a seated, but reclined position, facing the forward hub 250. Placing the infant face down, or placing the trunk of the infant within the foot portion of the bottom wall is not preferred, since injury to the infant may result.

The folding of the device is explained with reference to FIGS. 1 and 9. Initially, the infant support 100 begins in its deployed configuration (FIG. 1). The actuator 435 of each hub assembly 250, 255 is engaged, releasing the subassemblies 405, 410 of the hub assemblies 250, 255 and permitting relative rotation of the frame members 210, 215 as described above. The headers 230A, 230B are rotated inward until the frame members 210, 215 are oriented in their stowed configuration (e.g., when the headers 230A, 230B are oriented generally parallel to each other). In this position, the lock mechanism is engaged, securing the frame members 210, 215 in their stowed position as described above.

The brace 800 may be formed from resilient or substantially rigid materials. By way of example, the brace may be formed from plastic. The brace 800, moreover, may possess a unitary (continuous/one-piece) structure or may be formed from multiple pieces connected together.

Referring to FIG. 7A, the seat 120 may include a strap assembly (as illustrated) and other restraint mechanisms to secure the infant within the seat. In this embodiment, the strap assembly 1100 may include strap portions 1110, 1112, 1114, and 1116 that are coupled together using buckles 1120 and 1122 and a main strap portion 1130 with a coupling portion 1132. The strap portions 1110, 1112, 1114, 1116 and 1130 may be inserted through openings in the softgoods or coupled to the upper surface of the softgoods such as by sewing or stitching or other coupling method or technique. In an alternative embodiment, only two strap portions are used with the seat 120.

Referring to FIGS. 10-15, the mounting or coupling of a softgoods portion to the frame assembly 110 of device 100 is illustrated. The softgoods may be used to provide an additional layer of support for the infant. Referring to FIG. 10, a softgoods or padded portion 900 is removably coupled to the frame assembly 110. As a result, the softgoods 900 can be easily removed from the frame assembly 110 and washed and cleaned. In this embodiment, the softgoods 900 has several coupling portions 910, 920, 930, and 940 that are located at spaced apart positions around the softgoods 900. Each of the coupling portions 910, 920, 930, and 940 is similarly configured and therefore the following description relating to coupling portion 910 applies to the other coupling portions 920, 930, and 940.

Coupling portion 910 includes an edge 912 formed in the body 902 of the softgoods 900. The edge 912 defines and opening 914 that extends through the body 902. A binding or layer of fabric 916 (see FIG. 15) is sewn around the edge 912 to prevent the edge 912 from unraveling. The softgoods 900 includes coupling portions 920, 930, and 940 that are similarly configured with openings 924, 934, and 944, respectively.

The frame assembly 110 includes a mounting assembly 1000 that includes several mounting components 1010, 1020, 1030, and 1040 (shown throughout FIGS. 10-15). The mounting components 1010, 1020, 1030, and 1040 are located on the headers 230A, 230B in locations that correspond to the coupling portions 910, 920, 930, and 940 of the softgoods 900. In particular, mounting components 1010, 1020, 1030, and 1040 are aligned with coupling portions 910, 920, 930, and 940, respectively.

Referring to FIG. 11, a close-up view of mounting component 1010 and header 230A is shown. The seat 120 includes a fabric portion 948 that is coupled to the headers 230A, 230B. On both sides of the fabric portion 948, there is a sleeve 950 that defines a channel 952 and is coupled to the fabric portion 948 at end 954. The sleeve 950 is configured to be slid onto one of the headers 230A, 230B. The mounting component 1010 is positioned proximate to the sleeve 950 and then coupled to the header 230A using a connector. The other mounting components 1020, 1030, and 1040 are similarly coupled to the corresponding headers 230A, 230B via connectors.

Referring to FIGS. 12 and 13, a perspective view and an end view of mounting component 1010 are illustrated, respectively. In this embodiment, mounting component 1010 is molded plastic and has a body portion 1050 with ends 1052 and 1054 and sides 1053 and 1055. The body portion 1050 has a curved configuration that matches the configuration of the portion of the frame to which the mounting portion 1010 is coupled. Integrally formed with the body portion 1050 are projections 1060 and 1062. The projections 1060 and 1062 have ends 1064 and 1066, respectively, and extend in opposite directions from each other. In another embodiment, the projections 1060 and 1062 can extend from the sides 1053 and 1055 of the body portion 1050 instead of the ends 1052 and 1054.

The body portion 1050 includes a boss 1056 defining an opening 1058 through which a connector 1059 (such as a screw) is inserted to couple the mounting component 1050 to the frame assembly 110. The body portion 1050 has an inner surface 1070 that defines a receptacle 1072 and is placed in contact with the header 230A or fabric (such as sleeve 950) mounted on the header 230A. The body portion 1050 also has an outer surface 1074 that can be engaged by a portion of the softgoods 900.

Referring to FIG. 14, in this embodiment, the projections 1060 and 1062 define areas or regions 1067 and 1068, respectively. To retain the softgoods 900 on the mounting component 1010, the length of the opening 914 (distance “d2”) is less than the length of the mounting component 1010 as measured from the ends 1064 and 1066 of the projections 1060 and 1062 (distance “d1”). When the softgoods or fabric portion 900 is moved so that the coupling portion 910 is aligned with the mounting component 1010, the opening 914 is manipulated so that the projections 1060 and 1062 extend therethrough and the edge 912 is located beneath the projections 1060 and 1062 and in areas 1067 and 1068. Referring to FIG. 15, the projections 1082 and 1084 extending from a body portion 1080 of mounting component 1020 extend over the binding 916, thereby coupling the softgoods 900 to the mounting component 1020 and the frame assembly 110.

The mounting assembly 1000 facilitates the coupling and decoupling of the softgoods 900 from the frame assembly 110. In various embodiments, the quantity of mounting components used with a particular frame can vary. For example, in one embodiment, only one mounting component may be included on each side of a frame. In another embodiment, the mounting components may be spaced relatively equally about a substantially circular frame. In another embodiment, each mounting component may include three or four projections extending from a body portion. Thus, the mounting assembly including mounting components can be used to couple or mount a softgoods or fabric portion to a frame having any shape or configuration and used for any type of infant support structure.

Referring to FIGS. 16 and 17, an alternative embodiment of an infant support device or structure is illustrated. In this embodiment, the device or structure 1200 includes a frame assembly 1210 that includes an infant seat assembly or receptacle 1220 with a head stop or padded portion 1222 that can provide additional support and/or cushioning for an infant. In this embodiment, the frame assembly 1210 includes a first frame member 1230 and a second frame member 1235. The frame members 1230, 1235 are coupled together via hubs or hub assemblies 1260 and 1270 which facilitate the movement or pivoting of the frame members 1230, 1235 relative to each other, thereby allowing the frame assembly 1210 to be deployed or collapsed. The frame members 1230, 1235 are substantially similar to frame members 210, 215 described above with the exception of the upper crossbars or headers 1240 and 1250.

As discussed above, headers 230A and 230B of frame assembly 110 have end portions 230C, 230D and 230E, 230F, respectively, that have the same length. The header 1240 has end portions 1242 and 1244 that have different lengths. Similarly, header 1250 has end portions 1252 and 1254 that have different lengths. Preferably, the lengths of end portions 1242 and 1252 are the same or substantially the same and the lengths of end portions 1244 and 1254 are the same or substantially the same. The longer end portions 1244 and 1254 result in the upper rear corners 1243 and 1253 of the headers 1240 and 1250 being a greater distance from the hub assembly 1270 than the upper front corners 1241 and 1251 of the headers 1240 and 1250 are spaced from the hub assembly 1260.

Referring to FIG. 17, the upper front corners 1241 and 1251 are spaced at a distance “d5” from hub assembly 1260 and upper rear corners 1243 and 1253 are spaced at a distance “d6” from hub assembly 1270. Distance “d6” is greater than distance “d5” and the frame assembly 1210 has a tapered or sloped configuration from the rear 1211 of the frame assembly 1210 to the front 1213 of the frame assembly 1210. This sloped configuration results in the rear 1211 being higher than the front 1213 relative to a support surface, and the seat portion 1220 having a higher upper end which provides additional support length for an infant and increases the angle of inclination of the trunk or torso portion of the seat portion 1220 to position an infant in a more upright orientation.

The seat portion 1220 may be substantially similar to the infant seat 120 as described above, and with the addition of the padded portion 1222. Accordingly, receptacle 1220 is suspended from the headers 1240 and 1250, providing a hammock or sling effect. The mounting or coupling of a softgoods portion to the frame assembly 1210 may be similar to that described above and shown in FIG. 15. The softgoods may be used to provide an additional layer of support for the infant.

Referring to FIGS. 18 and 19, a softgoods or padded portion 1900 is removably coupled to the frame assembly 1210. As a result, the softgoods 1900 can be easily removed from the frame assembly 1210 and washed and cleaned. The softgoods 1900 includes several coupling portions 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 that are located at spaced apart positions around the softgoods 1900. In one embodiment, the coupling portions 1920 and 1930 may be substantially the same as coupling portions 920 and 930, and the coupling portions 1910 and 1940 may be configured as another type of fastener member. For example, coupling portions 1910 and 1940 may be configured as side release buckle components, cam or spring buckles, snaps, hook and loop fastener material, or some other fastening mechanism.

The frame assembly 1210 includes a mounting assembly that includes mounting components located on headers 1240 and 1250 in locations that correspond to the coupling portions 1920 and 1930. For example, headers 1240 and 1250 may include mounting components 1280, 1285, respectively, as shown in FIGS. 16, 18 and 19. Each of mounting components 1280, 1285 has a configuration substantially similar to the mounting component 1010, as described above. Accordingly, coupling portions 1930, 1920 may be aligned with and releasably attached to mounting components 1280, 1285, respectively.

The seat portion 1220 may include mounting components that align with the coupling portions 1910 and 1940. For example, mounting components 1290, 1295 may extend outwardly from an underside 1220a and are aligned with coupling portions 1910, 1940 when softgoods 1900 is disposed on the seat portion 1220, as shown in FIGS. 18 and 19. For example, the mounting components 1290, 1295 may be configured as corresponding side release buckle components connected to the seat portion 1220 via webbing, or webbing releasably securable to cam or spring buckles, or associated hook and loop fastener material, or the like.

The mounting assembly facilitates the coupling and decoupling of the softgoods 1900 from the frame assembly 1210. In various embodiments, the quantity of coupling portions and associated mounting components used with a particular frame can vary. Moreover, all mounting components may be identically configured, or have different configurations. Thus, the mounting assembly including mounting components can be used to couple or mount a softgoods or fabric portion to a frame having any shape or configuration and used for any type of infant support structure.

In an alternative embodiment, the lengths of the lateral bars at one end of the frame assembly (such as the rear end) can be longer than the lateral bars at the other end of the frame assembly (such as the front end). This difference in length would enable the end portions of the headers to have the same length, but the upper corners of the headers at the rear of the frame assembly can be spaced further from the rear hub assembly than the front hub assembly, thereby giving the headers and the frame assembly a sloped or tapered configuration from rear to front.

While the invention has been described in detail and with reference to specific embodiments thereof, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope thereof. For example, the infant support may be formed of any suitable materials. Each hub 250, 255 may include a locking mechanism configured to selectively lock the subassemblies. Alternatively, only one hub 250, 255 may include the locking mechanism. The locking mechanism may be keyed to lock the hubs 250, 255 in only the deployed and stowed configurations. Alternatively, the locking mechanism may be keyed to permit locking of the hubs at orientations falling in between the deployed and stowed configurations. Other mechanisms providing for the rotation and locking of the frames may be utilized.

Thus, it is intended that the present invention cover the modifications and variations of this invention that come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents. It is to be understood that terms such as “left”, “right” “top”, “bottom”, “front”, “rear”, “side”, “height”, “length”, “width”, “upper”, “lower”, “interior”, “exterior”, “inner”, “outer” and the like as may be used herein, merely describe points of reference and do not limit the present invention to any particular orientation or configuration.





 
Previous Patent: SUNROOF DEVICE AND DEFLECTOR

Next Patent: TABLE STOP ASSEMBLY