Patent application title: FOOTWEAR
William J. Hyslop
IPC8 Class: AA43B700FI
36 25 R
Class name: Boots, shoes, and leggings soles
Publication date: 2013-10-03
Patent application number: 20130255109
A shoe construction is disclosed which includes a sole portion having a
toe end, a pivot location and a body extending from the toe end to the
pivot location. The body has a thickness which increases between the toe
end and the pivot location.
1. A shoe comprising: a sole portion having a toe end, a pivot location
and a body extending from said toe end to said pivot location, said body
having a thickness which increases between said toe end and said pivot
2. The shoe of claim 1 wherein said sole portion is integrated into said shoe at the time of manufacture of the shoe.
3. The shoe of claim 1 wherein said sole portion is an added component which is assembled to said shoe after the time of manufacture of the shoe.
4. The shoe of claim 3 wherein said shoe includes a toe and a sole and said sole portion is constructed and arranged so as to be shaped around said toe and assembled to said sole.
5. The shoe of claim 4 wherein said sole portion further includes a plurality of notches for adding shape flexibility to said sole portion.
6. The shoe of claim 5 wherein said sole portion is fabricated from plastic.
7. The shoe of claim 1 wherein said sole portion represents a forward sole portion and said shoe includes a remainder sole portion, said remainder sole portion is constructed and arranged with a slit and said shoe further includes a tubular member which is received within said slit.
8. The shoe of claim 7 wherein said sole portion is integrated into said shoe at the time of manufacture of the shoe.
9. The shoe of claim 7 wherein said sole portion is an added component which is assembled to said shoe after the time of manufacture of the shoe.
10. A sole portion for assembly to an existing shoe, said sole portion comprising: a forward location; a rearward location; and a sole portion body extending between said forward location and said rearward location, said sole portion body having a thickness which increases between said forward location and said rearward location.
11. The sole portion of claim 10 wherein said shoe includes a toe and a sole and said sole portion is constructed and arranged so as to be shaped around said toe and assembled to said sole.
12. The sole portion of claim 11 wherein said sole portion further includes a plurality of notches for adding shape flexibility to said sole portion.
13. The sole portion of claim 12 wherein said sole portion is fabricated from plastic.
14. The sole portion of claim 10 wherein said sole portion represents a forward sole portion and said shoe includes a remainder sole portion, said remainder sole portion is constructed and arranged with a slit and said shoe further includes a tubular member which is received within said slit.
15. A method of modifying a shoe which includes a toe and a sole, said method comprising the following steps: a) providing a sole portion which includes a forward location, a rearward location and a sole body extending between the forward location and the rearward location, said sole portion body having a thickness which increases between said forward location and said rearward location; b) shaping said sole portion to extend around the toe; and c) bonding said sole portion to the sole of said shoe.
16. The method of claim 15 which further includes the step of cutting a slit into the sole.
17. The method of claim 16 which further includes the step of providing a tubular member and the step of inserting said tubular member into said slit.
18. The method of claim 15 which further includes the step of molding a slit into the sole.
19. The method of claim 18 which further includes the step of providing a tubular member and the step of inserting said tubular member into said slit.
REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 This application claims the benefit of Provisional Patent Application No. 61/617,166, filed Mar. 29, 2012 which is hereby incorporated by reference.
 A toe and sole modification for footwear is disclosed which provides a smooth sole portion around the toe as a way to try and prevent stumbling or tripping by the elderly. Some of the concerns with the elderly include their ambulatory ability, their overall physical dexterity and their ability to adequately lift their feet, when walking, so as to avoid stumbling or tripping. When walking, if the feet are not lifted to a sufficient height above the support surface, the toe portion of the shoes can get caught, usually on carpeting. When the toe portion of the shoes (one or both) happen to drag and catch on carpeting, rugs and similar floor coverings, the person (often the elderly) may stumble or trip.
 Although younger individuals, being more athletic and agile, can usually avoid stumbling and tripping, the elderly are at greater risk for two reasons. First, the elderly may have physical limitations or impairments which make it difficult to lift the feet when walking, at least to a height which is sufficient to avoid catching the toe portion of their footwear on the carpeting or rug. Secondly, the elderly may have difficulty in remembering to adequately lift their feet when walking. Even if the elderly are told that lifting their feet clear of the carpeting is important in order to avoid stumbling and tripping, the elderly may not always recall these instructions and thus continue with the bad habit which puts them at risk for stumbling or tripping.
 Given these realities, an appropriate solution for helping the elderly is to design and construct a shoe with a toe portion and/or sole which is smooth and slippery. By adding a smooth and slippery layer to the sole and/or around the toe portion of each shoe, there is less risk that the toe portion of the shoe will become caught on carpeting as the elderly walk across the carpeting. It is the toe portion which is the most likely portion of the shoe to catch on the carpeting.
 If we accept that one possible solution to stumbling and tripping by the elderly is to add a smooth and slippery layer to the sole and/or a toe covering to the footwear, the next task or challenge is how to do so. One option is to fabricate the original shoes with the desired modification(s). Another option is to be able to modify an existing pair of shoes by adding a suitable layer to the sole and/or a covering for the toe portion. Within each of these two options there are at least two species. One species for each option is to use a molding process which molds the covering directly to, over and around the toe portion. A second species for each option is to attach a separate layer or covering directly to the shoe. Within each species there are various subspecies. Further features which are contemplated include color variations and matching colors for the covering, as well as adding fluorescent illumination.
 A shoe construction is disclosed which includes a sole portion having a toe end, a pivot location and a body extending from the toe end to the pivot location. The body has a thickness which increases between the toe end and the pivot location.
 In another embodiment a sole portion construction for assembly to an existing shoe is disclosed wherein the sole portion includes a forward location, a rearward location and a body extending between the forward location and the rearward location. The sole portion body has a thickness which increases between the forward location and the rearward location.
 A still further embodiment includes a method of modifying a shoe wherein the shoe includes a toe and a sole. The method of modifying includes the step of first providing a sole portion for assembly to the shoe wherein the sole portion includes a forward location, a rearward location and a sole portion body extending between the forward location and the rearward location. The method further includes the steps of shaping the sole portion around the toe of the shoe and then bonding the sole portion to the sole of the shoe.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a side elevation view of a shoe with an add-on toe covering according to the present disclosure.
 FIG. 2 is a partial, top plan view of the FIG. 1 shoe.
 FIG. 3 is a partial, bottom plan view of the FIG. 1 shoe.
 FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the FIG. 1 covering.
 FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of the FIG. 4 covering in full section.
 FIG. 6 is a partial, side elevational view, in full section showing an adhesive interface between the FIG. 4 covering and the FIG. 1 shoe.
 FIG. 7 is a partial perspective view of a double-sided adhesive tape which may be used for the FIG. 6 adhesive interface.
 FIG. 8 is a partial side elevational view of a shoe with an add-on toe covering which is included at the time of original manufacture.
 FIG. 9 is the same as FIG. 8, except showing a shorter side length.
 FIG. 10 is a side elevational view, in full section, of a unitary shoe sole with a protective toe covering portion included at the time of original manufacture.
 FIG. 11 is a bottom plan view of the FIG. 10 unitary sole.
 FIG. 12 is a partial side elevation view of a mold fixture for molding on a toe covering to an existing shoe.
 FIG. 13 is a side elevational view of a shoe construction according to another embodiment of the present disclosure.
 FIG. 13A is a side elevational view in full section of the sole portion of the FIG. 13 shoe.
 FIG. 14 is a partial, top plan view of the FIG. 13 shoe.
 FIG. 15 is a side elevational view of a shoe construction (after modification) according to another embodiment of the present disclosure.
 FIG. 16 is a top plan view of a toe cap for use in a shoe modification.
 FIG. 17 is a partial, side elevational detail of the FIG. 16 toe cap.
 FIG. 18 is a top plan view of the FIG. 16 toe cap formed onto a different shoe style.
 FIG. 19 is a perspective view of the FIG. 16 toe cap.
 FIG. 20 is a side elevational view of a lateral section through the FIG. 16 toe cap.
 FIG. 21 is a perspective view of a shoe illustrating an inflated tube feature for one embodiment of the present disclosure.
 FIG. 22 is a partial, side elevational view in full section of the FIG. 21 shoe.
 FIG. 22A is a partial, side elevational view in full section of the FIG. 21 shoe before the inflated tube is installed.
 FIG. 23 is a partial, side elevational view in full section of the FIG. 21 shoe in a flexed position.
 FIG. 24 is a bottom plan view of the FIG. 21 shoe showing the inflated tube feature of this embodiment.
DESCRIPTION OF THE SELECTED EMBODIMENTS
 For the purpose of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention, reference will now be made to the embodiments illustrated in the drawings and specific language will be used to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Any alterations and further modifications in the described embodiments, and any further applications of the principles of the invention as described herein are contemplated as would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which the invention relates. One embodiment of the invention is shown in great detail, although it will be apparent to those skilled in the relevant art that some features that are not relevant to the present invention may not be shown for the sake of clarity.
 Referring to FIGS. 1-5, there is illustrated a conventional shoe 20 with an add-on toe covering 22 according to the present disclosure. The covering 22 is a single-piece, unitary member which is securely attached to the shoe 20 in the manner illustrated such that the covering 22 is able to contact the floor covering when walking. The covering 22 extends around the toe portion on each side and across the tip 24. A front curved portion 26 of covering 22 extends up and over the tip 24 of the shoe. A thin flat edge lip 28 of covering 22 is constructed and arranged to extend inwardly beneath the sole of the shoe 20. The extension over the tip 24 of the shoe is exaggerated simply to show one option. In use it is expected that only a very small portion of the tip 24, if any, will actually need to be covered.
 As used herein, the term "shoe" is intended to include any type of footwear, whether dress or casual, and without regard to style or materials. The conventional shoe portions include the upper, the heel and the sole.
 Covering 22 is preferable a rigid synthetic member which is smooth and slippery against carpeting, rugs and similar floor coverings. In this manner when covering 22 drags against carpeting, for example, the slippery interface of covering 22 against the carpeting causes the toe portion of the shoe, including the sole portion beneath the toe to slip and slide. By not allowing the toe portion of the shoe to catch on the carpeting, the person wearing the modified shoes (designed for the elderly) is less likely to stumble and/or to trip on the carpeting when walking across the carpeting. As explained in the Background, the risk of stumbling and tripping is more likely with the elderly due to the factors which have been mentioned. By adding the disclosed covering 22 to the conventional pair of shoes (see shoe 20), the pair of shoes is converted into a pair of shoes suitable for the elderly who are prone to allowing their (uncovered) shoes to catch on carpeting causing the wearer to stumble and/or trip when walking across carpeting, a rug or a similar floor covering.
 In the FIG. 1 illustration the sole or bottom portion (i.e. bottom surface) of the covering 22 is slightly curved and provides a smooth surface throughout. As an alternative embodiment, covering 22 is shaped and contoured such that the sole is similar to what is illustrated in FIG. 15. FIG. 15 represents an after-market, add-on sole with a specifically shaped increased thickness in order to create angle (a) as a way to help the toe clear the floor covering and thus help reduce the risk of stumbling or tripping. Covering 22 is able to be shaped in a similar manner, using the covering of the toe of the shoe as a way to help secure the covering 22 to the shoe.
 Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, it will be seen that the covering 22 creates an added thickness to the protruding tip 24 of the shoe. The extent of the covering 22 around the sides of the shoe is a variable depending on the style of shoe, the size of the shoe and the size and weight of the user. A heavier person will cause the shoes to sink deeper into the carpeting and it might prove advantageous to have a larger covering 22 area in contact in order to prevent the shoes from catching on the carpeting. FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of covering 22 while FIG. 5 shows a lateral cross section. Sidewall 30 extends around the sides and tip of the shoe and edge lip 28 extends beneath the sole of the shoe 20.
 The manner of attaching the covering 22 to the shoe needs to be something which is secure and lasting. It is important that once the covering is attached that it becomes rigidly secured, does not come free, peel off, break or become dislodged. The covering 22 needs to last as long as the pair of shoes would be expected to last. One attachment option is to apply a layer of adhesive 32 between the covering 22 and the shoe (see FIG. 6). Assuming that a suitable adhesive 32 is applied across the entire interior surface 34 of covering 22 and allowed to properly cure, there should be a secure and rigid bond.
 Another option for attachment of the covering 22 to the shoe 20 is to use a double-sided adhesive tape 36, see FIG. 7. One side would typically include a peel-off layer 38 which is pulled off in order to expose the second adhesive surface for securely attaching the covering 22 to, around and over the shoe. The tape 36 may be applied first to the covering 22 and then as the covering 22 is pressed on to the shoe 20, the layer 38 is gradually removed.
 The first embodiment which is disclosed in FIGS. 1-5 contemplates adding toe coverings 22 to an existing pair of shoes (i.e. shoe 20). This embodiment allows virtually any pair of shoes to be modified and converted into a pair of shoes suitable for the elderly who might otherwise be at risk for stumbling and/or tripping as they walk across a carpeted surface, rug or similar surface. The means of attaching may be by the use of a suitable adhesive, a double-sided adhesive tape or similar bonding means. Other bonding or attaching options depending on the selected materials would be heat bonding and ultrasonic welding.
 An alternative embodiment, referring now to FIGS. 8 and 9, is based on having a toe covering portion 40 integrated as part of the originally manufactured shoe 42. At the time of original manufacture of the pair of shoes (i.e. shoe 42), the toe covering portion 40 is incorporated into the shoe. Since the toe covering portion 40 is added at the time of original manufacture, other attachment means could be employed such as stitching to as to secure the covering portion with the same strength of thread used for other stitched portions of the shoe. The FIG. 8 embodiment with the stitching shown includes side portions 44 (only one is illustrated) which are longer than the second embodiment of FIG. 9 which shoes toe covering portion 46. These two embodiments are two of the species options as to the size and shape of the integrated toe covering portion 40. These two options also allow virtually any material to be used so long as durability is provided and the slippery surface characteristic is maintained. Covering portions 40 and 46 can also be shaped with a sole shape and thickness similar to what is illustrated in FIG. 15 and similar to the alternate embodiment described for covering 22.
 Another embodiment for the original manufacture of a shoe with a toe covering portion 48 is illustrated in FIGS. 10 and 11. In these two drawings only the sole 50 of the shoe is shown, but the sole 50 is molded so as to include a durable and smooth front sole portion 52 which has a slippery quality relative to being pulled or dragged across carpeting and similar surfaces. The remainder of the shoe is built into this sole 50 in an otherwise conventional manner. However, at the toe, the shoe is built inside of the toe covering portion 48 such that the portion most likely to catch on carpeting is manufactured as a smooth and slippery surface so as to help prevent catching of the shoe on carpeting which might cause the elderly to stumble and/or trip. Covering portion 48, including sole portion 52 can also be shaped with a sole shape as described for the alternative embodiments of covering 22 and covering portions 40 and 46.
 The main sole portion 54 of sole 50 can be textured in any way desired as molded or cast. However, the front sole portion 52 needs to be smooth and slippery. By molding or casting sole 50 as a unitary member, the mold can be used to both texture main sole portion 54 and at the same time create a smooth and slippery surface for front sole portion 52.
 In all of the embodiments described herein, it is contemplated that a specific material color for the covering or covering portion will be selected based on the remainder of the shoe. The selected color may be matching or contrasting at the designer's option. It is also contemplated that a fluorescent material might be used, at least for part of the covering, as a way to help the elderly find their shoes in darkness. While the adding of a fluorescent material could be a desirable feature or point of novelty for virtually any user, this feature would be particularly helpful for the elderly.
 A still further design option for adding a toe covering to a pair of shoes is illustrated in FIG. 12. In this arrangement a mold fixture 56 is provided which is constructed and arranged to receive the toe portion 58 of a shoe 60 with a defined space 62 for the desired shape and thickness of toe covering to be molded onto the shoe. An existing shoe may be loaded into fixture 56 and the covering molded or as an alternative, fixture 56 may be used as part of the original manufacture of the pair of shoes.
 Referring to FIGS. 13, 13A and 14, there is illustrated a shoe 120 with a toe portion 122 and a sole 124 according to another embodiment of the present disclosure. This embodiment is representative of a market shoe which has a molded sole that is fabricated and assembled in the normal or usual manner. The sole 124 has a pivot point (P) for the ball of the foot and the front and rear angles are illustrated. The sole 124 is raised 1/8 inch from the front of the toe portion 122 to 1/2 inch on the centerline back from the tip of the toe portion. The illustrated construction and the increase in thickness creates an angle (α) at the toe portion of the shoe which requires the heel to be 3 to 4 inches above (off of) the carpet before the toe portion could be caught on the carpet (or rug or similar floor covering). The key here is the added thickness to the sole and where that added thickness is the greatest relative to the location of the pivot point (P). As illustrated, the sole 124 includes a sole portion having a toe end 124a, a pivot location 124b and a body 124c extending from the toe end to the pivot location. The body 124c has a thickness which increases from the toe end to the pivot location. The sole is fabricated such that the portion forward of the pivot point (P) is smooth and slippery.
 Referring now to FIG. 15 an after-market shoe 220 is illustrated with an add-on sole portion 224. It is anticipated that sole portion 224 would have a size, shape and construction similar to the front or forward portion of sole 124. One difference between the two is that an after-market sole portion, sole portion 224, needs to be attached or joined in some fashion to an existing shoe. This is accomplished by using a layer of epoxy. The epoxy starts 1/8 inch up on the sole of the existing shoe at the toe portion. The epoxy thickness increases as the epoxy layer extends 1/2 inch back from the toe portion. The increase in thickness creates an angle (β) at the toe portion of the shoe which requires the heel to be 3 to 4 inches above (off of) the carpet before the toe portion could be caught on the carpet (or rug or similar floor covering).
 Whether the sole portion of the shoe which is below the toe (extending back toward the location of flexure or pivoting) is integrated into the shoe when manufactured or is an after-market, add-on, the principle of use is essentially the same. The increased thickness of the sole portion which is closest to the pivot point or line of flexure raises the tip of the toe slightly and this in turn lessens the likelihood of toe-to-carpet contact. The key is that the sole portion includes a forward location toward the toe of the shoe and a rearward location toward the line of flexure or pivoting and an increase in thickness between these two locations.
 An after-market cap 230 is illustrated in FIGS. 16 and 17. Cap 230 is a combination of a small sole portion, sides and a curved front. Cap 230 needs to be constructed and arranged from a flexible material and is fabricated with a series of spaced-apart, V-shaped slots or notches 232. These notches 232 are cut or formed in the surface contacting the shoe 220. There is a substantially vertical portion (i.e. a sidewall) of the cap 230 which is approximately 1/8 inch in height or thickness. The V-shaped notches 232 allow the cap 230 to be flexible and to be shaped and formed around different shoe sizes and shapes. Other materials such as double-sided foam tape and a SHOE GOO® type product can be used for filling spaces, voids and pockets and for adhesion of the cap 230 to the shoe 220. Related illustrations of cap 230 are shown in FIGS. 18, 19 and 20. The sole cover goes from 1/16 inch thick at the toe to 3/16 inch back on the centerline, then from 3/16 inch to 1/16 inch along the side of the shoe. In FIG. 20 the 3/16 inch of sole and cap thickness acts as a hinge to adjust to the V-shaped notches. The 1/2 inch dimension which is shown is on the centerline. In the exemplary embodiment cap 230 is fabricated out of durable plastic and the flexibility and shapeability come from the use of the series of V-shaped notches 232.
 When the heel of the shoe is raised off the support surface, the shoe bends in the ball of the foot area and becomes shorter in projected length. Then when the wearer of the shoe raises the toe of the shoe from the support surface, the shoe returns to the original length and thereafter the wearer must raise the shoe higher so as not to catch the toe on a rug, carpet or the support surface which could cause the wearer to trip and fall. One further improvement to what has been disclosed above would be to lock the shoe sole in the bent position and maintain that position until the heel and sole of the shoe are both on the support surface again. This is accomplished by cutting or molding a slit 260 across the bottom of the sole 262 of the shoe 264 (see FIGS. 21-24), with a 1/4 inch diameter chamber 266 at the top of the slit 260. If the shoe does not come with the slit already molded therein, an after-market modification step would be to cut the slit into the sole. This 1/4 inch diameter chamber 266 includes a 1/4 inch diameter pressurized or inflatable latex rubber tube 268 secured in position in the slit approximately 1/2 inch behind the line 270 shown in FIG. 24. The distance (d) from line 270 to the centerline 272 of the tube 268 is the 1/2 inch dimension for a 1/4 inch diameter tube. When the heel 274 of the shoe 264 is raised off of the support surface, the slit 260 opens which allows the latex rubber tube 268 to expand into the more narrow portion of the slit 260 and this movement essentially locks the sole in that position until the heel and the sole are both once again on the support surface. Returning both the heel and the sole to the support surface forces the tube 268 back into the chamber 266 at the top of the slit 260. This sequence is then repeated with each step the wearer of the shoe takes. This structure is also illustrated in FIGS. 21 through 23 and looking at those drawing figures, it is noted that the slot is chamfered 276 at the entrance to the chamber which provides a lead in to the slot for the tubing when it expands. The end of the tubing is fitting with an air valve component 278 of an elastomeric compound which can be inflated by a "needle" and which re-seals, similar to how a basketball or football may be inflated. The barrier strip 280 which is illustrated is optional, but would preferably be used to help control the movement of the tube 268 with flexure, see FIG. 23.
 The inflatable tube 268 feature, including the slit 260 and chamber 266, requires a sole with sufficient thickness to receive a 1/4 inch diameter tube and still have sufficient slit length to allow both flexure and movement of the tube 268 into the more narrow portion of the slit. Further, this feature is to be used in combination with the modified (i.e. increased thickness) sole shape and contour as described in conjunction with the structures illustrated in FIGS. 13-20. The modified sole constructions of FIGS. 13-20 can be used with or without the slit and tube feature of FIGS. 21-24. While the slit and tube feature of FIGS. 21-24 could be used independently of the modified sole construction, the preferred embodiment is to use the modified sole construction in combination with the slit and tube feature.
 While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, the same is to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive in character, it being understood that only the preferred embodiment has been shown and described and that all changes, equivalents, and modifications that come within the spirit of the inventions defined by following claims are desired to be protected. All publications, patents, and patent applications cited in this specification are herein incorporated by reference as if each individual publication, patent, or patent application were specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated by reference and set forth in its entirety herein.
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