Patent application title: WHEELED LUGGAGE ASSEMBLY
Lindsey M. Raymond (Pacific Palisades, CA, US)
Aled E. Miles (Pacific Palisades, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA45C514FI
190 18 A
Class name: Trunks and hand-carried luggage supporting devices wheeled
Publication date: 2012-11-01
Patent application number: 20120273314
A luggage assembly useful for safe, secure and easy transport of carry-on
items, offering electronically-dependent business travelers a convenient
and business-friendly means of traveling. The luggage system comprises a
main housing having one or more compartments, a customizable extendable
handle, wheel assembly, power and/or power storage device, a folding
tray, and means for remote tracking of the luggage assembly. The luggage
assembly may additionally include a wheel assembly having one or more
pairs of wheels thus allowing the main housing to be wheeled over a
surface. The wheeled luggage assembly may further include an integrated
wireless communication device.
1. A wheeled luggage assembly comprising: a body comprised of a top wall,
a bottom wall, a first side wall, a second side wall, a rear wall and a
front wall wherein the bottom, first and second side, and rear walls each
have an interior and exterior surface, wherein the interior surfaces
define an accessible interior main compartment; a frame having a portion
disposed within the body of the assembly; a pair of wheels coupled to a
bottom region of the body of the assembly; an extendable and retractable
customizable handle coupled to the body of the assembly; a fold-out tray
disposed at the handle; and a power supply and/or power storage device
wherein the power supply has a retractable power cord; and wherein the
body of the wheeled luggage assembly has an overall dimension of less
than or equal to about 45 linear inches.
2. The wheeled luggage assembly of claim 1 further wherein the handle has grooves integrated along its exterior surface.
3. The wheeled luggage assembly of claim 1 further including one or more storage pockets disposed on the bottom surface of the fold-out tray.
4. The assembly of claim 1 further including a means for remote identification and/or tracking of the assembly.
5. The assembly of claim 5 wherein the means for remote identification and/or tracking is suitable for use with a Global Positioning System (GPS), a radio-frequency identification (RFID) system and/or a compass navigation system.
6. The assembly of claim 5 wherein the remote tracking system includes use of a Global Positioning System (GPS), a radio-frequency identification (RFID) system and/or a compass navigation system.
7. The wheeled luggage assembly of claim 1 further including an integrated wireless communication device.
8. The device of claim 8 wherein the device is suitable for use in a wireless communication system employing use of Bluetooth technology, WiFi®, a personal area network (PAN) means, a wireless local area network (WLAN), radio frequency (RF), infrared light, laser light, visible light and/or acoustic energy.
9. The wheeled luggage assembly of claim 1 wherein the retractable cord has a length of about between 12 inches and 600 inches or about 24 inches and 300 inches.
10. The wheeled luggage assembly of claim 1 further including a cup holder.
11. The wheeled luggage assembly of claim 1 further including one or more auxiliary storage compartments disposed adjacent to the body of the assembly.
12. The wheeled luggage assembly of claim 1 further including one or more attachment means disposed along the exterior surface of any of one or more wall of the body of the assembly.
13. The wheeled luggage assembly of claim 12 wherein the attachment means is selected from the group consisting of: a zipper; a Velcro strip; a magnet; and snap device.
14. The wheeled luggage assembly of claim 1 further including a zippered pocket disposed on the back wall or side wall.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates to the field of wheeled luggage assembly suitable for carry-on, such as small luggage cases, business cases, computer cases and the like which include a fold-out surface for supporting a laptop computer and means for remote tracing of the assembly.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 The demands and environment of airline travel have become increasingly challenging and complex due to changing regulations, restrictions and surveillance. Existing luggage falls short of the changing demands and environment of airline travel. Carry-on luggage has become harder and more complex with heightened regulations while the concern of mishandled baggage pushes in the direction of carrying on rather than checking in luggage. Millions of bags are lost or mishandled annually. In addition to the risk of lost or stolen baggage, checking luggage is expensive and time consuming.
 Present in the art, are some carrying cases, which provide the usual features such as computer storage, retractable handle, and wheels so that the user can pull case to ease the burden when moving through airport concourses or along city sidewalks (See e.g., U.S. Pat. No. 4,813,520. The most commonly available luggage has wheels, an extendable handle and a compartment specifically designated for carrying a portable computer. Traveling with luggage in-hand eliminates many of the risks and costs associated with checking baggage. Unfortunately, carry-on luggage is not made with a traveler's specific needs in mind and is often an inefficient combination of various luggage solutions each designed to meet only a few. In view of the foregoing background, an object of the present invention is to provide a wheeled luggage assembly having distinct features and attributes strategically designed to meet the unique demands and carry-on needs of the traveling professional. The present invention provides
 The present invention relates generally to wheeled luggage assembly, in particular wheeled luggage having dimensions suitable for use as a carry-on case. The wheeled luggage assembly is generally of a rectangular container shape formed by a main housing within which is a central compartment having a width, depth and height dimension. The assembly includes a customizable extendable handle, a fold-out tray suitable for supporting a laptop computer, at least one pair of wheels spaced along a width dimension of the main housing, and an integrated remote tracking device. The main housing is comprised of a top wall, bottom wall, a first and a second side wall, a rear wall, and a front wall, together which define an interior main compartment. The fold-out tray has a top side, a bottom side, and a longitudinal edge disposed along an axis perpendicular to the top and bottom sides.
 In one aspect, the invention comprises a main housing which includes a frame component, a power-charging device having a retractable cord, a wheel assembly and an extendable handle. The frame is disposed within the interior aspect of the main housing so as to provide rigidity and structural support to the main housing. The frame has a first edge that is continuous with a second edge, which is further continuous with a third edge wherein the second edge is disposed between the first and third edges. The power device(s) provide a charging station for multiple devices including, but not limited to a portable computer, music player, cell phone, PDA, other portable electronic device.
 In another aspect, the invention comprises a wheeled luggage assembly having a main housing which includes a frame component, a wheel assembly, a fold-out tray and an extendable handle having an automatic wireless communication system connectable with a separate and discrete portable and/or fixed electronic device.
 FIGS. 1 A & B illustrate general perspective views in accordance with embodiments of the present invention.
 FIG. 2 illustrates a general perspective view in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
 FIG. 3 illustrates a general perspective view in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
 FIG. 4 illustrates a general perspective view in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
 FIG. 5 illustrates a general perspective view in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 Various embodiments of the wheeled luggage assembly are illustrated in FIGS. 1-5.
 FIGS. 1(A & B) includes front and back perspective views of an embodiment of the wheeled luggage assembly 10 illustrating the outward appearance and general structure of various features of the assembly. The wheeled luggage assembly 10 preferably includes a covering which defines a body portion comprised of an external top 12 and a bottom wall 14 and a first 16, a second 18 side wall and a front facing 19 and back wall 17, together which form a generally rectangular parallelepiped-shaped wheeled assembly 10 having an internal main compartment 21. Additional sections may also be included wherein a section comprises one or more expandable pocket(s) 29, 31. See also, FIG. 2A, 29 31, 33, 35, 37, 39.
 Alternatively, in an additional preferred embodiment (FIG. 2B), the wheeled luggage assembly is shaped such that it has an upper region having an overall linear width dimension that is less than its lower region overall linear width dimension or such that the surface area comprising the top 12 wall is less than the surface area comprising the bottom 14 wall. For example, a wheeled luggage assembly may be shaped so that it narrows or tapers toward the top wall 12 of the assembly such that the bottom wall has a longitudinal edge 103 continuous with a longitudinal edge of a side wall 101 wherein the length dimension of the bottom wall edge is greater in than a the length dimension of the top wall edge. (FIG. 2B). Such shaping allows easier fit of the luggage assembly into a temporary travel storage compartment such as, for example, the overhead compartment of an airplane, aircraft, train, bus, subway, metro-rail or other modes of human transport. Thus, in a preferred embodiment, the wheeled luggage assembly 10 may readily fit in a storage area below a passenger's seat and/or in a overhead storage area above a passenger's seat. The luggage assembly is preferably made of relatively lightweight, durable materials and is easily portable for ease of use by a frequent traveler.
 Referring to FIG. 3A, the wheeled luggage 10 assembly includes a frame 100 and at least one pair 20 of wheels located at the base region and coupled to the body portion. Optionally, the wheels may be coupled to a generally horizontally disposed structure or connecting rod 22 located between each of the first pair of wheels (See FIG. 1A). An optional support means may be disposed substantially along an edge of the bottom wall 23. (FIG. 3B). Referring to FIG. 2, in an alternative embodiment, the wheel assembly includes two pairs of wheels, a first back pair 20 (back left wheel not depicted) and a second front pair 50. One or more of the wheels may rotate in a multi-directional and/or 360° rotation. An extendable and retractable handle 15 is disposed at and through the top wall 12 of the wheeled luggage assembly.
 As depicted in FIG. 3 in an additional preferred embodiment, the wheeled assembly include a body frame. The body frame has a first 104 and second 106, and optionally a third 108 and/or fourth 110 support means having sufficient rigidity such that the body of the wheeled luggage assembly substantially maintains an overall shape when in upright or horizontal (prone) positions or when stored, wheeled or stationary. Exemplary frame members include one or more rigid bar or rod. The frame is constructed of a lightweight solid, rigid material such as fiberglass, wood, aluminum, titanium, steel, composite metals, composite synthetics, plastics and the like, or any combination or equivalent material thereof. In a preferred embodiment, as shown in FIG. 3, the wheeled luggage assembly includes a power strip 101 and/or power storage means (not shown) coupled to the frame 100.
 Referring to FIG. 1B, the internal main compartment is defined by a front facing internal wall 123, a first 121 and a second internal side wall (not shown) and an internal top 127 and bottom wall 129. Additionally, the wheeled luggage assembly includes an internal region or space disposed adjacent an interior aspect of the body walls of the luggage assembly wherein a remote tracking device is located therein (described further below). The tracking device (for example, a RFID tag or a GPS chip) is configured so as to include synchronization capability thus allowing its electronic communication ("syncing") with a second electronic device such as for example, a cellular phone or other portable electronic device having a suitable application. Systems and methods for transceiver devices and their use for electronic identification and communication are known in the art and described, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 7,248,167; 7,126,470; 7,580,678; 7,484,662; 7,385,476; 6,246,882; 6,016,322 and US Patent Application Publications US2009/0291668 and US2011/0068978 each of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety. A remote tracking device having such synchronization and communication capability will allow a user to locate and/or track the luggage assembly. As will be known by one of ordinary skill in the art, this feature will allow a user to employ options such as geo-fencing, which would alert the owner, by, for example, text or other mobile or remote methodology, if his/her luggage is out of a pre-determined or pre-selected allowable range.
 The tracking device may be secured upon any interior surface of a luggage wall. For example, a tracking device may be sewn into any one of the luggage walls and disposed behind a first layer of lining such that the device is obscured or not readily viewable. Additionally, the device may be accessible via zippered or Velcro® compartment, wherein such compartment may comprise one or more space between layers of one or more product inner lining. It is preferable that the tracking device be disposed within the luggage assembly so that it is hidden from apparent view. Obscuring the visibility or concealing the location of the tracking device aids in preventing discovery of the tracking device should the luggage assembly be lost or stolen. Access to the internal main compartment is provided via one or more zipper(s) 40. One or more zipper 18 disposed along a longitudinal edge of the first and second side walls and top wall allows access to the internal main compartment 21. The zipper(s) may also be disposed along the edge of the body of the main compartment so as to allow expandability of the internal storage space between two or more internal storage volumes when zipped closed.
 The luggage assembly may include one or more auxiliary storage compartments or pockets 29, 31, 33 disposed at an external 19 wall, or adjacent to any wall of the assembly. As depicted in FIG. 2A, a first external storage compartment 29 attaches immediately adjacent the luggage assembly side wall 16. A second storage pocket 31 may be additionally attached to the first storage pocket 29. Any one or more of the auxiliary storage comparments may be detachable and/or expandable. For example, a detachable auxiliary storage bag may be disposed adjacent the front exterior 19 wall of the luggage assembly 10, the auxiliary bag detachably coupled to the assembly by means of a hook, zipper, Velcro, straps, magnetic means, or any other suitable mechanisms which allows stable attachment along with removal of the bag from the luggage assembly system. Any one or more of a storage bag or pocket may be comprised of a mesh or stretchable material, or integrated with the body of the wheeled assembly so as to provide greater ease of access and breathability for items stored therein.
 An auxiliary front storage 23 compartment may optionally be included and thereby disposed adjacent the front 20 wall of the luggage assembly 10. Additionally, as a further embodiment, any one or more of the auxiliary storage bag(s) may be detachably coupled to the main housing by zipper(s) see for example, FIG. 5 reference numeral 180, and/or one or more Velcro strap(s) or any other similar type connecting or sliding means. The straps allow items coupled or hung externally from the handle's grooves to be attached to the luggage while in the upright position and in motion (i.e. a garment bag hung with a hanger). One or more pair of straps may also be located within the internal compartment and are attached to at least one internal compartment wall. The straps aid in maintaining items disposed in the internal compartment in place, particularly when the assembly is in an upright position.
 One or more covering encloses portions of the frame to form a body cavity or internal compartment as illustrated in FIG. 3. The covering is preferably constructed of a durable, lightweight, synthetic and/or natural fiber fabric material. Suitable fabric materials include for example, but are not nylon, limited to ballistic-type nylon, polyester, urethane, cordura, Kevlar®, cotton ducks, leather, suede, organic fabric, vinyl, laminates and the like. The fabric may additionally be coated for water resistance and/or waterproofing. The covering of the wheeled luggage assembly includes fastening means such as, for example, zippers and/or other fasteners associated with auxiliary storage bags or pockets for controlling access thereto. The covering may be constructed of material to form a hard-cover or soft-cover casing.
 Referring to FIG. 4 the assembly includes a customizable extendable handle 15 and a fold-out tray 80 to provide a workspace. Such workspace provides support and is suitable for use with any portable device or portable electronic device such as for example, a laptop computer, tablet, notebook (electronic and non-electronic), mini display, electronic reader, reading, writing and/or drawing material, book, magazine, and the like. The handle will be customizable to varying lengths so as to best fit the height of the specified user. The fold-out tray 100 has a top side 102 and a bottom side 104, and a longitudinal edge 106 disposed along an axis perpendicular to the handle 15 when the fold-out tray is in the open position FIG. 4A. The fold-out tray includes one or more support arm 108 coupled to the extendable handle by means of a coupling member 110. The coupling member aids in attaching the support arm to the extendable handle and maintaining the support arm in a desired or preselected location along the extendable handle. The attachment member may be for example, a clamp able device, a rubber ring, a piston, a spring rod, a locking arm, etc. The support arm may be moved from a closed (stowed) position (see FIG. 3) to an open (deployed) position (see FIG. 4A). The one or more support arm 108 supports the tray when the tray is in the open (deployed) position (see FIG. 3). A lip may be included in the longitudinal edge to prevent a portable device or portable electronic device such as for example, a laptop computer, tablet, notebook (electronic and non-electronic), mini display, electronic reader, reading, writing and/or drawing material, book, magazine, and the like from sliding or slipping off the workspace. Other means such as for example, a grippable, pressure-sensitive adhesive surface, rubberized or other material may be used to aid in keeping the device stationary while on the deployed tray.
 The assembly 10 has overall dimensions of about 45 linear inches (the total of the height, width, and depth of the bag) or less, or as restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA" guidelines or regulations or other state, national or international guidelines or regulations, commercial space transportation administration, or other regulatory authority guidelines or regulations. For example, for use of the wheeled luggage assembly on an aircraft within the United States, the wheeled luggage assembly has a dimension of about 45 linear inches (the total of the height, width, and depth of the bag) or less. Thus, the wheeled luggage assembly will comply with luggage carryon restrictions as defined by the U.S. Federal Aviation Association and as may be redefined by time to time. (See http://www.faa.gov/passengers/prepare_fly/baggage/).
 In one aspect, the invention comprises a main housing which includes a frame component, a power-charging device having a retractable cord, a wheel assembly and an extendable handle. The frame is disposed within the interior aspect of the main housing so as to provide rigidity and structural support to the main housing. The frame has a first edge that is continuous with a second edge, which is further continuous with a third edge wherein the second edge is disposed between the first and third edges. The power device(s) provide a charging station for multiple devices including, but not limited to a portable computer, music player, cell phone, PDA, video game console, Smartphone, printer, digital camera, digital video camera, and/or other portable electronic device.
 In another aspect, the invention comprises a wheeled luggage assembly having a main housing which includes a frame component, a wheel assembly, a fold-out tray and an extendable handle having an integrated automatic wireless communication system connectable with a separate and discrete portable and/or fixed electronic device. Wireless communication systems suitable for use in the present invention include, but are not limited to, Bluetooth technology, WiFi®, or other personal area network (PAN) means and/or wireless local area network (WLAN) or any other wireless means of communication such as use of radio frequency (RF), infrared light, laser light, visible light, acoustic energy, and the like. Upon activation (e.g. receipt of a call, txt or email), the device will actuate and alert a user. Alert means include vibration of the extendable handle, emitting an audible sound, or a flashing light on the bag/handle.
 Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, the extendable handle has a length dimension which may be of various lengths to accommodate users of various heights and/or preference and/or may be customized according to the user's specification. As shown in FIG. 5 the extendable handle may include one or more grooves 200 to which accessory or other items may be hung via coupling to the grooves, such as for example, clothing hangers, baggage clips, strap mechanisms, and the like). Additionally, the foldable tray may include compartments or pockets 202 allowing for storage of desired items. The wheeled luggage assembly may also include one or more accessory such as, for example, a cup holder, a latchable hook or built-in clip from which additional luggage can be attached to the assembly. A wheeled luggage assembly of the present invention may also include a cooler section comprised of insulating materials.
 In a further aspect, the invention includes a remote tracking device allowing reliable location and if desired, time and/or other identifying information of the wheeled luggage assembly. Methods for providing such system include, for example, a Global Positioning System (GPS), radio-frequency identification (RFID), Compass navigation system, and/or other wireless identification system. The afore-mentioned methods are synced through the use of a portable mobile device, such a mobile phone, using a downloadable software application program such as for example, applications suitable for use with cellular mobile phones, smartphones, personal digital assistant, tablets, personal computers, and other internet multimedia-enabled device. Remote tracking systems are known in the art and described for example in USPN . . . . Thus, the present invention includes an assembly having a device or means for use in a method for remote tracking or identification of the assembly.
 A yet further aspect of the invention, a wheeled luggage assembly includes a power strip 201 and/or power charger (means for power storage). The power strip and/or power storage is disposed along an external aspect of the main compartment as depicted, for example, in FIG. 3. Optionally, the power strip and/or power charger includes a retractable cord able to extend from a position that is flush with the wall of the bag (0 inches) up to a length of about 300 inches or greater.
 The foregoing description of certain embodiments of the invention has been presented for the purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. All references cited herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety.
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