Patent application title: REVERSIBLY ATTACHABLE SHADE FOR MOBILITY AIDS
Paul Sapp (Vancouver, CA)
IPC8 Class: AA45B1700FI
Class name: Tent, canopy, umbrella, or cane umbrella combined
Publication date: 2009-08-20
Patent application number: 20090205692
The invention comprises an overhead shade device adapted to be attached to
a mobility aid. The invention has an elongate shaft having an upper end
and a lower end. The shaft is attached to the mobility aid at the shaft's
lower end in a manner that holds the shaft functionally vertically. A
shade is attached to the upper end of the shaft. The shade may be an
umbrella-type shade, or a fan, or other functionally horizontal surface
that shades the user when deployed.
In one embodiment of the invention, the perimeter of the shade when opened
includes a base side and an arc of less than 360 degrees, and more
preferably, an arc of less than about 200 degrees. The base side does not
extend significantly beyond the outer edge of one side of the user and/or
mobility aid when said shaft is held in a functionally vertical
orientation. The area of the shade may be continuously variable between
1. A shading device for shading the user of a mobility aid, said shading
device comprising:a. a shaft, said shaft having an upper shaft-end and a
lower shaft-end;b. a shade;c. a shade connector means for attaching said
shade to said upper shaft-end; and,d. a shaft attachment means for
attaching said lower shaft-end to the mobility aid wherein the shaft is
attached in a functionally vertical orientation.
2. A shading device according to claim 1 wherein said shade connector means is a rotatable joint having an axis of rotation, and wherein said shade rotates about said axis of rotation between a functionally horizontal orientation when the shade is in a deployed configuration and a functionally vertical orientation when the shade is in a non-deployed configuration.
3. A shading device according to claim 2 wherein said rotatable joint comprises a locking means for holding said shade in the deployed configuration.
4. A shading device according to claim 3 wherein said locking means comprises an adjustable friction member.
5. A shading device according to claim 3 wherein said shade comprises a support block and an end-piece, and wherein said locking means comprises a pin that is inserted into aligned holes in said support bock and said end-piece when the shade is in the proper position.
6. A shading device according to claim 3 wherein said locking means comprises a toothed rachet and a pawl.
7. A shading device according to claim 1 wherein said shaft attachment means comprises:a. at least one pair of interdigitating frictional collars, wherein one collar of said pair frictionally engages said shaft, and the other collar of said pair frictionally engages the mobility aid; and,b. a means of increasing the friction between said frictional collars and their respective shaft or mobility aid.
8. A shading device according to claim 1 wherein said shaft attachment means comprises:a. an upper frictional collar engaging the mobility aid;b. a lower frictional collar engaging the mobility aid, wherein at least one of said upper frictional collar and said lower frictional collar is hinged;c. an upper tab held frictionally by said upper frictional collar, said upper tab comprising a hinged dog formed to accommodate said shaft wherein said shaft is immobilized against said lower tab by said hinged dog when said hinged dog is tightened against said shaft;d. an adapter having an upper end and a lower end;e. means for connecting said upper end of said adapter to said shaft lower end;f. a lower tab held frictionally by said lower frictional collar; and,g. a means of attaching said adapter lower-end to said lower tab.
9. A shading device according to claim 1 wherein the length of said shaft is adjustable.
10. A shading device according to claim 1 wherein the shaft is telescoping.
11. A shading device according to claim 10 further comprising a frictional annulus on said shaft for fixing the length of said shaft at a desired length.
12. A shading device according to claim 1 wherein the surface area of said shade in the deployed configuration is continuously adjustable.
13. A shading device according to claim 1 wherein said shade is a fan-type shade.
14. A shading device according to claim 1 wherein the perimeter of said shade has the form of an irregular polygon.
15. A shading device according to claim 1 wherein the perimeter of said shade includes a base side.
16. A shading device according to claim 15 wherein when said base side is positioned over the outer edge of one side of the user and mobility aid when the shaft is held in a functionally vertical orientation, no more than about 30% of the surface area of the shade extends beyond the left or right outer edges of the user and mobility aid.
17. A shading device according to claim 15 wherein when said base side is positioned over the outer edge of one side of the user and mobility aid when the shaft is held in a functionally vertical orientation, no more than about 10% of the surface area of the shade extends beyond the left or right outer edges of the user and mobility aid.
18. A shading device according to claim 1 further comprising a reversible articulation between said connector means and said shaft, wherein said shade and said connector means are reversibly removable from said shaft.
19. A shading device for shading a user, said shading device comprisinga. a shaft; and,b. a shade, wherein the perimeter of said shade includes a base side wherein when the base side is positioned over the outer edge of one side of the user when the shaft is held in a functionally vertical orientation, not more than about 30% of the surface area of the shade extends beyond the outer edge of the right or left side of the user.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates to attachable shades, particularly shades that can be attached to walkers and similar mobility aids.
The following lexicon sets forth the intended scope and meaning of certain terms and concepts used in the specification and claims. The examples provided in this lexicon are intended to clarify and not to limit the meaning of the respective terms. If not otherwise indicated, the definitions set forth here apply to the plural and all grammatical variations of the terms defined.
A/AN/THE--unless otherwise indicated, the articles "a" and "an" include the plural. The article "the" when used to refer to a noun introduced with "a" or "an" also includes the plural.
MOBILITY AID--a device that enhances the personal mobility of a user. Mobility aids include, by way of example, walkers of all types, wheel chairs, electric scooters, prams, motorized carts, and personal transport devices such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,907,949 to Wang, and those commonly referred to as Segway® personal transport devices. Although the invention is disclosed herein with respect to rolling walkers, as will be appreciated by those of skill in the art, the invention is readily adaptable for use with mobility aids generally. The term "mobility aid" is not intended to encompass devices colloquially known as "vehicles," such as automobiles, motorcycles, buses, trucks, trains, water craft, aircraft, or other commercial transportation devices.
INVENTION--the use of the word "invention" with respect to a particular embodiment is not meant to restrict the scope of the invention to that particular embodiment. The use of "invention" encompasses all embodiments even when the term is used with respect to a specific exemplary embodiment.
SHADING--refers to protecting a user from radiation, precipitation, or other elements or substances that would otherwise fall upon the user.
SHADE--when used as a noun, the term refers to materials and surfaces that are held in a substantially horizontal orientation above a user for the purpose of shading the user. Unless otherwise modified, the term is used herein broadly without limitation as to size or shape of the shade. Consequently, the term includes, for example, conical or bowed umbrella-type shades and planar fan-type shades. When used as a verb the term shade refers to the act of shading a user.
PERIMETER--the boundary of a shade as viewed from above. Unless otherwise indicated, the term perimeter is used in its broadest sense to include any shape the shade may take, whether a circle, ellipse, polygon, or other closed geometrical shape.
ARC--includes both smooth and continuous arcs such as segments of a circle or ellipse, and polygonal arcs wherein the convex vertices of a polygon define a continuous arc.
BASE SIDE--is defined functionally to mean that portion of the perimeter of a shade that is equivalent to or analogous to the base of a polygon or diameter of a semi-circle. The term is not restricted to a single edge or straight line, but may comprise two or more joined segments.
WALKER--used in the common, contemporary parlance to refer to a mobility aid that a user places in front of them to assist them with walking and/or standing. Such walkers generally comprise a frame that the user holds on to help them maintain balance. U.S. design Pat. D448706 shows one of many types of such walkers. The term "walker" is used herein generically to refer to walkers of all types including orthopedic walkers, rehabilitation walkers, child learning-walkers. The term "rolling walker" is used herein to refer specifically to walkers having wheels.
FUNCTIONALLY HORIZONTAL--the term is used with respect to an overhead shade to convey an orientation of the overhead shade that is sufficiently horizontal to perform the function of shading the user. The term is intended to convey that range of orientations that is useful or necessary for the function of shading a user.
FUNCTIONALLY VERTICAL--when used with respect to a shaft, the term is intended to convey a range of orientations of the shaft wherein the shaft is sufficiently vertical to serve the function of holding a shade above a user's head when the lower end of the shaft is attached to a mobility aid. When used with respect to a shade, the term is intended to convey a range of orientations of the closed shade in a non-deployed configuration in which the shade is approximately parallel to the shaft.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Mobility aids have become a normal and necessary part of life and are particularly common in cities. One common problem encountered by the users of mobility aids is that one must almost always use of both hands to operate a mobility aid. For instance, it is difficult, and in some cases impossible, for the elderly and infirm to guide a rolling walker with one hand, and it is even more difficult for many users to maintain their balance when holding onto a rolling walker with just one hand. Wheelchairs require two hands to propel, and motorized wheel chairs are often used by handicapped individuals who do not have full use of their hands. Personal transport devices, such as a Segway®, require two hands on the controls to operate safely. Consequently, when the user of a mobility aid needs to deploy an overhead shade, such as an umbrella or sun-shade, it can be quite difficult, and in many instances impossible or dangerous, for the person to remove their had from the mobility aid to hold the shade over their head. Consequently, those who are dependent on mobility aids are often forced to avoid going out of doors when the weather is inclement or is predicted to be inclement; consequently, the quality of their lives is compromised.
What is needed is an overhead shade device that can be easily and reversibly attached to a mobility aid and therefore allow the user to operate the mobility aid easily and safely with both hands while obtaining the benefits of the shade.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The invention comprises an overhead shade device adapted to be attached to a mobility aid. The invention has an elongate shaft having an upper end and a lower end. The shaft is attached to the mobility aid at the shaft's lower end in a manner that holds the shaft functionally vertically. A shade is attached to the upper end of the shaft. The shade may be an umbrella-type shade, or a fan, or other functionally horizontal surface that shades the user when deployed.
In one embodiment of the invention the shaft is reversibly attached to the mobility aid.
In one embodiment of the invention, the length of the shaft is adjustable. This may be accomplished, for instance, by providing a telescoping shaft with a friction-sleeve.
In one embodiment of the invention, the shade is a fan that can be opened and closed.
In one embodiment of the invention, the shade is reversibly deployable from a non-deployed configuration to a deployed configuration. This feature may be effectuated by providing a shade that can be opened and closed and that is attached to the shaft's upper end by an upper-end connector joint that permits the closed shade to be rotated from a functionally horizontal orientation to a functionally vertical orientation such that in the non-deployed configuration the shade is juxtaposed against the shaft or around the shaft.
In one embodiment of the invention, the perimeter of the shade when opened includes a base side and an arc of less than 360 degrees, and more preferably, an arc of less than about 200 degrees. The base side does not extend significantly beyond the outer edge of one side of the user and/or mobility aid when said shaft is held in a functionally vertical orientation. The area of the shade may be continuously variable between its limits.
In one embodiment of the invention the shade is a collapsible type commonly used in umbrellas. When in the collapsed, or closed, configuration the shade may surround the shaft or it may be juxtaposed next to the shaft with its long axis parallel to the shaft.
In one embodiment of the invention the upper components including the joint and shade can be reversibly removed from the shaft. If the shaft is of the telescoping type, the entire device can be reduced to a size that permits easy attachment, removal, handling, and storage.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
The above and other objects, elements, limitations, features, and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings. The drawings, unless otherwise indicated, should not be assumed to be drawn to scale.
FIG. 1A. is a rear elevation of a rolling walker with the invention attached and deployed into a open configuration.
FIG. 1B. is the same view as FIG. 1A but with the shade of the invention closed and juxtaposed against the shaft.
FIG. 2 is an over-head view looking down on a fan-type shade that is deployed in its open configuration.
FIGS. 3A and 3B are side elevations of a joint mechanism used to connect a shade to the shaft.
FIG. 3C is a cross-section of FIG. 3A at the plane indicate.
FIG. 4 is a view of a simple attachment mechanism for attaching the shaft to the mobility aid.
FIG. 5 is a view of the device in which a rachet and pawl are used to hold the shade in the deployed configuration.
FIG. 6 is a view of an attachment mechanism for attaching the shaft to the mobility aid in which the shade device is readily removed from the mobility aid.
1. Basic Preferred Embodiment of the Invention
Referring first to FIG. 1A, an attachable overhead shade device 106 is shown attached to a mobility aid such as a rolling walker 101. The device comprises a shaft 102 combined with a shade 103.
The lower end of the shaft is reversibly attached to the walker by connector 105, which holds the shaft in a functionally vertical orientation. Shade 103 is connected to the upper end of the shaft. In FIG. 1A the invention is shown in a deployed configuration, which is to say the shade is raised into a functionally horizontal orientation and opened over the user's head, thereby providing shade and protection to the user from the elements such as sun and rain.
FIG. 1B depicts the invention in a non-deployed configuration in which shade 103 is closed and rotated approximately 90 degrees from the deployed configuration so that it is oriented functionally vertically and is substantially parallel to and juxtaposed against shaft 102.
Thus, FIGS. 1A and 1B, taken together show a reversibly deployable overhead shade device that is reversibly attachable to a mobility aid. When the device is deployed, the shade is in an open configuration and provides protection to the user without the user having to hold the shade in place, and when the device is in the non-deployed configuration, the shade is closed and rotated such that it is parallel to and juxtaposed against the shaft.
2. Variations, Embellishments, and Details
Shade Shapes and Sizes
FIG. 2 shows an overhead view of an opened fan-type shade 200 as may be employed in various embodiments of the invention. The fan-type shade comprises a first elongate support 201 and a second elongate support 202 forming a base side. One end of the first elongate support is attached to one end of the second elongate support at a pivot 205. The free end 204 of the first elongate support and the free end 203 of the second elongate support are thus free to rotate about the pivot. A stiff material having a plurality of folds is attached to the supports, thus producing the shade surface 206.
Depending upon the area and shape of the shade surface attached to the supports, by rotating support 201 with respect to support 202, the surface area and shape of the fan may be continuously variable such that the perimeter of the opened shade circumscribes an arc anywhere from a few degrees to 360 degrees. The arc of the fan-type shade shown in FIG. 2 circumscribes an arc of approximately 190 degrees when fully opened, that is, slightly more than a semi-circle.
The arc shown in FIG. 2 is polygonal; i.e., formed by the plurality of convex vertices of the shade. However, the arc can be continuous, forming approximately a semi-circle or a slightly eccentric semi-circle when viewed from above. The advantage of such a shade is that the base side is positioned over the outer edge of one side of the user and mobility aid when the shaft is held in a functionally vertical orientation and, hence, no more than about 30%, and preferably no more than about 10%, of the surface area of the shade extends beyond the left or right outer edges of the user and mobility aid. This feature, which is readily apparent in FIG. 1A, allows the user to more easily navigate crowded sidewalks or other tight situations without hitting people or obstructions with the shade. This is particularly helpful because, unlike a hand-held shade such as an umbrella, users of this invention are often unable to easily tip the shade to avoid obstructions.
One skilled in the art will recognize that the shape and dimensions of the shade are variables that may be readily modified to meet a variety of preferences, climates, environments, and meteorological conditions. The invention is not restricted with respect to the shape of the shades. The perimeter the shade may be any regular or irregular polygon having anywhere from one edge (circle) to a large number of edges. For instance, shades having circular, square, rectangular, triangular, octagonal, or dodecagonal profiles when viewed from above may be easily adapted for use in the invention. But in all cases, irregular perimeters having a base side that does not substantially extend beyond the outer edge of the user and/or mobility aid when the shaft is held in a functionally vertical orientation are preferred, and particularly shades in which the shade surface area is continuously variable.
Although disclosed above within the context of a shade for a mobility aid, one embodiment of the invention is a shading device used independently of a mobility aid wherein the device has a shade with a perimeter shape of an irregular polygon having a base side such that when the base side is positioned over the outer edge of one side of the user when the shaft is held in a functionally vertical orientation, not more than about 30%, and, preferably, not more than about 10%, of the surface area of the shade extends beyond the outer edge of the right or left side of the user. Such a device has very considerable utility in its own right when used independently of a mobility aid, for instance on crowded sidewalks. Rotating shade connector-joint and shade pivot connection
Referring to FIGS. 3A-3C, one may appreciate a preferred embodiment of a rotating shade connector-joint 306 for attaching shade 103 to shaft 102. The joint includes an adjustable friction member 301 that acts as a locking mechanism. When wing nut 302 is tightened on through-bolt 310, sufficient frictional pressure is exerted on end-piece 312 to hold the shade in a functionally horizontal orientation. Through-bolt 310 is coincident with an axis of rotation 309 about which support block 304 and shade 103 rotate relative to shaft 102. This connector-joint allows the shade to be rotated between a functionally horizontal orientation when the device is in a deployed configuration and a functionally vertical orientation when the device is in a non-deployed configuration, as shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B. Another locking mechanism may be provided by means of a pin that is inserted into aligned holes in support bock 304 and end-piece 312 when the shade is in the proper position.
Shade 103 is attached to support-block 304 by means of a pivoting connection, which may be a rivet, or a through bolt 308 with a wing nut 307, or the like. When a fan-type shade is used, a bolt-wing nut pivoting connection is preferred because the wing nut is used to vary the amount of frictional force holding the shade in a desired shape. The function of the pivoting connection is thus to attach shade 103 to support block 304 in a way that allows the shade to open and close by rotating support 201 around the pivot point relative to support 202. A retaining pin 311 may be used to prevent the movement of support 202.
FIG. 3A shows the invention with the shade raised to an essentially functionally horizontal position and ready for opening. FIG. 3B shows the invention with the shade lowered into a non-deployed configuration, which is accomplished by loosening wing nut 302 to ease the frictional pressure exerted by frictional member 301 and then rotating the shade and support block downwards about the axis formed by the shaft of wing bolt 302.
FIG. 3C is a cross-section of the joint of FIG. 3A to better show the relationship between friction member 301 and its wing nut 302 and through-bolt 308. FIG. 3C also shows that the through-bolt is co-existent with the axis of rotation 309, about which axis of rotation the support block and shade rotate.
In one embodiment of the invention, as shown in FIG. 5, the rotating shade connector joint comprises a toothed rachet 500 rotatably connected to support block 304 such that the rachet rotates in the clockwise direction when shade 103 is being raised to the deployed configuration. Pawl 502 is spring 501 loaded to engage the teeth of the rachet and prevent the rachet, support block, and shade 103 from rotating in the counterclockwise direction unless the user disengages the pawl from the teeth by forcing it against its spring.
In one embodiment of the invention, for instance as shown in FIG. 3B, the connector joint 306 and shade 103 can be reversibly removed from shaft 102 at reversible articulation 305 so that the entire device can be disassembled for easy handling and storage and then quickly re-assembled. This is accomplished, for instance, by providing the reversible articulation as mating threaded connectors between the lower end of the connector joint 306 and the shaft 102.
Adjustable Length Shaft
The embodiment of the invention shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B includes an optional telescoping shaft 102 the length of which can be adjusted by loosening frictional annulus 104, adjusting the length of the shaft, and re-tightening the annulus. Thus, the frictional annulus is used for fixing the length of the shaft at a desired length.
FIG. 4 demonstrates a simple shaft attachment means for attaching the shaft 102 of the shade device to the frame 101. This embodiment of the attachment means comprises an at least one pair of interdigitating frictional collars; preferably, an upper pair of interdigitating frictional collars 401a, 401b and a lower pair of interdigitating frictional collars 401c, 401d. Collars 401a and 401c snap onto frame 101. Collars 401b and 401d slide onto the lower shaft-end. Each of collars 401a and 401c have a pair of tabs with holes there through (not shown). Each of collars 401b and 401d have a single tab with a hole there through (not shown). The tabs of collars 401b and 401d are brought into alignment with the tabs of collars 401a and 401c so that the tabs of collars 401b and 401d interdigitate with the tabs of collars 401a and 401c, and a bolt is passed through the holes. Wing nuts 402a and 402b are then used to apply frictional force to the collars, thereby holding shaft 102 firmly attached to frame 101.
FIG. 6 shows a more complex method of attaching a shaft 601 to the frame 101. In this embodiment, upper frictional collar 600a and lower frictional collar 600b are hinged to permit the frame connector to be more easily attached to and removed from the frame. When in place, the frictional collars are tightened by wing nuts 402a and 402b as in the previous embodiment. Upper frictional collar 600a frictionally engages upper tab 603 and lower frictional collar 600b frictionally engages lower tab 604. The upper and lower tabs may be conveniently oval or elongate.
Upper tab 603 has a hinged dog 605 which is formed to receive the shaft and accommodate the diameter of shaft 601. The hinged dog can be pressed against shaft 601 in order to immobilize the shaft securely against the upper tab by tightening wing-nut 609 onto a through-bolt that passes through the upper tab and the hinged dog.
Shaft 601 has a recess in the lower end of the shaft forming a hollow butt, which recess snugly receives adapter 602. Conversely, the adapter may be hollow for receiving the shaft-butt. The point is to provide a means for connecting the upper end of the adapter to the lower end of the shaft to form an easily reversible junction between the shaft and the adapter. In either instance, the lower end of adapter 602 has a hole (not shown) to receive a through-bolt (not shown), which passes through the adapter and through an elongate lower tab hole or slot 608 in the lower tab. The adapter is thus able to rotate about the axis formed by the through-bolt. The through-bolt is secured to lower tab 604 by wing-bolt 607. By virtue of the lower tab slot and the through-bolt, the butt shaft 601 can be moved to and fro, thereby causing shaft 601 to yaw about a pivot point formed by the upper tab. This permits the shaft to assume an orientation that is either perfectly vertical or off-set from vertical to a degree desired, and therefore, the position of the shade above the user is adjusted. When shaft 601 is in a desired orientation, wing bolts 607 and 609 are tightened sufficiently to hold the shaft in that orientation.
When not being used in association with the mobility aid, the shaft can be quickly and easily removed from the mobility aid by removing wing-nut 609, opening hinged dog 605, and freeing the butt of shaft 601 from adapter 602. The shade device can then be used independently of the mobility aid.
From the foregoing description the novelty, utility, means of practicing my invention will be readily apprehended. However, the foregoing description merely represents the best mode known to me as of the present date. The embodiment herein disclosed is not meant to be exclusive of other ways of practicing my invention, and it will be obvious to those of average skill in the field that other means of practicing the invention lie within the scope of this disclosure and the claims, below. It is to be understood that my invention is not limited to the embodiment disclosed above but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.
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