BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to footwear, and more particularly, to a shoe insert or booty insertable into a shoe by which air is circulated through the shoe as the wearer walks, jogs, or runs with the shoe on his or her foot. In addition, the invention can also be effected by a shoe manufacturer in the design and manufacture of the shoe.
It is known that circulating air through a shoe can make wearing of the shoe more comfortable. There are significant health benefits a wearer can realize by the constant circulation of fresh air around his or her foot. This is particularly so on hot days, or in warm climates, where burning or sweating feet can cause significant discomfort. In addition, there is need for people who are constantly on their feet for a shoe through which air constantly is circulated. These people include service personnel such a policemen or mailmen, factory personnel such as workers on assembly lines, military personnel, and athletes such as track and field performers or marathon runners.
- BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,041,519 to Cheng, 4,813,160 to Kuznetz, and 4,571,853 to Medrano, each disclose a shoe insert or construction for moving air through a shoe to cool the wearer's foot. While each of these inserts or shoe constructions may work for their intended purpose, it is believed that there are other ways of efficiently moving a volume of air through the shoe as the wearer takes each step so to provide comfort to the wearer. Further, each of the constructions shown in these patents have certain drawbacks. Cheng, for example, circulates air only through the toe of the shoe. For proper cooling, air should be circulated throughout the shoe. Kuznetz requires the use of refrigerated tubes which must be inserted into holes in the sole of the shoe to provide cooling air for cooling the foot. The tubes must be periodically removed and re-refrigerated to provide cooling air, and the tubes can become clogged so that no air will pass through them. Medrano cools the bottom but not the sides or top of the foot. All of these constructions are permanent and except for the tubes taught by Kuznetz, cannot be removed for cleaning or deodorizing.
The present invention is directed to a shoe ventilation apparatus incorporated into the constructing of the shoe by the shoe manufacturer. In this embodiment, two separate but interconnected chambers are formed n the sole of the shoe. The first chamber is formed in the heel portion of the shoe, and a second chamber is formed forward of the arch of the shoe toward the front of the shoe. The two chambers are interconnected by air passages extending through the arch of the shoe. During the portion of the wearer's stride in which they walking are on the toes of their foot, air is drawn into the first chamber through air inlets formed in the heel portion of the shoe. As the wearer now moves onto the heel of his or her foot, the air inlets are closed by a flap pressed down by the weight of the person's foot. Next, air passages between the first and second chambers which were previously closed are now opened. As the amount of the person's weight on the back portion of the foot increases, the first chamber is compressed, forcing the air through the passages in the arch area from the first to the second chamber. A series of cooling air passages have their inlet ends opening into the second chamber. The passages extend about the bottom and sides of the shoe with the outlet end of the respective passages being located about the sides and bottom of the person's foot. Air forced into the second chamber is vented from the chamber through the passages and is expelled about the person's foot so to cool the foot and comfort the wearer.
In a second embodiment, a booty is removably insertable into the shoe to provide the ventilation. The booty can be fitted into different size shoes, and can be removed for cleaning and deodorizing. The booty includes a plate spring for providing an air pumping action when a person walks, and serves as a lift spring for assisting the person's walk to reduce stress on their heel and the arch of their foot.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
In either embodiment, the volume of air which can be drawn into and circulated through the shoe is controlled. Other objects and features will be in part apparent and in part pointed out hereinafter.
The objects of the invention are achieved as set forth in the illustrative embodiments shown in the drawings which form a part of the specification.
FIGS. 1 and 2 are cross-sectional views of shoe a incorporating the ventilation apparatus of the present invention, the view of FIG. 1 illustrating air being drawn into the shoe when the wearer's weight is on their toes, and FIG. 2 illustrating air being circulated through the shoe when the wearer's weight is on their heel;
FIGS. 3 and 4 are, respectively, a plan view of a booty comprising a second embodiment of the invention which is inserted into the shoe to provide ventilation to the wearer's foot, and an elevational view of the insert;
FIG. 5 is a bottom plan view of an insert fitted into the shoe and including a flap for closing off air passages within the shoe and springs by which the insert is flexed up and down as a person walks;
FIG. 6 is a rear elevational view of the shoe embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2;
FIG. 7 is a partial view of the insert of FIG. 5 illustrating how the flap seals off an air passage through an arch of the shoe; and
FIG. 8 is a partial sectional view of an alternate embodiment by which air is drawn into the shoe.
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF INVENTION
Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views of the drawings.
The following detailed description illustrates the invention by way of example and not by way of limitation. This description will clearly enable one skilled in the art to make and use the invention, and describes several embodiments, adaptations, variations, alternatives and uses of the invention, including what I presently believe is the best mode of carrying out the invention. As various changes could be made in the above constructions without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.
Referring to the drawings, apparatus of the present invention for ventilating a shoe S is indicated generally 10. The apparatus is effective to circulate air through the shoe as the wearer walks or runs, the circulating air making it more comfortable for the wearer. In a first embodiment of the apparatus, and as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, an insert or bladder 12 extends substantially the length of shoe S and is contoured to fit within the shoe. The insert, which fits over a sole L of the shoe, is of a flexible material which allows the insert to flex as the person wearing the shoe strides in it. During each step the person makes, their weight shifts back and forth between the heel H and toe T of the shoe. Apparatus 10 takes advantage of this so that air is drawn into a first air chamber during one portion of each step, expelled from the first air chamber to a second air chamber through air transfer passages formed in the arch of the shoe, and then into air ventilation passages formed in the front sides of the shoe during another portion of the step. Apparatus 10 is preferably built into the shoe by the shoe manufacturer.
Shoe S has an arch A extending upwardly from the sole of the shoe and contoured to fit against the sole of the foot to support the foot as the person strides. Insert 12 thus has a relatively flat front section 14 which fits in toe T of the shoe, a raised center section 16 which generally corresponds in shape to the shape of the arch, and a rear section 18, which is also relatively flat and which fits in heel H of the shoe. The heel of the shoe may include one or more compressible pads 20 which are made of rubber or another flexible material. These pads project upwardly from an inner surface I of sole L. The pads are formed in a predetermined pattern by which the person's weight is relatively evenly distributed when the person shifts their weight to the heel of their foot as they walk or run.
Insert 12 together with inner surface I of the shoe sole and the sidewall of the shoe together define a first air chamber 22 which is rearward of arch A toward the heel of the shoe. The portion of the insert and the sole of the shoe forward of the arch form a second air chamber 24. Since the bladder comprised by insert 12 is of a pliable material, the volume defined by the respective air chambers varies depending upon movement of the wearers foot as they take each step and the amount of compression of the relative portion of the insert.
Air is drawn into the person's shoe through an air inlet 26 formed at the heel of the shoe. Preferably, a plurality of air inlets 26 are formed in the sidewall of shoe S. These air inlets are each in fluid communication with first air chamber 22 for air to be drawn into the first air chamber. This occurs when, as shown in FIG. 1, the person's weight is on the toe of their foot. A vertically extending air passage 28 is formed in the heel portion of the shoe. Air drawn in through air inlet 26 is drawn through passage 28 into chamber 22. As shown in FIG. 6, a channel 30 extends horizontally across the back of the shoe. An adjustment strap 80 fits in this channel and can be tightened or loosened by the wearer to control the amount of air drawn into the passages 28 and circulated through the shoe. Openings 31 formed in the strap to facilitate air flow into the passages 28.
In FIGS. 1 and 2, it is shown that air outlets 32 at the base of the air passages 28 allow air to flow out of the passages and into inlet air chamber 22. When the person's weight is on their toes, the pads 20 are in a raised or elevated position because the person's weight is mostly on the front part of their foot. At this time, the rear of insert 12 is lifted by the pads as shown in FIG. 1. The thickness of the insert generally corresponds to the diameter or size of the openings forming the outlets 32 of the air passages. Accordingly, when the pads 20 are at their highest; the outlets 32 are fully opened, and since chamber 22 is in a vacuum state, air flows into inlet air chamber 22. When the person shifts their weight to their heel, the pads are compressed as shown in FIG. 2. Now, the rear portion of insert 12 is pressed down and covers the air passage outlets blocking the outlets. This prevents any more air from flowing into chamber 22 and also prevents any back flow of air from chamber 24 to chamber 22.
As shown in FIG. 8 an alternate construction of the shoe shows that the air passages 28 can be effected by channels formed in the back, heel portion of the shoe. (This is also shown in FIG. 6) A flap valve 33 is formed at the base of the channel at the openings 32 from the air channels into air chamber 22. Now, rather than the pads 20, a compression spring 35 seats on the base of the chamber. Rear portion 18 of insert 12 bears against the top of the spring. When the person's weight is forward on their foot, spring 35 pushes portion 18 of the insert upward. Flap valve 33 is open at this time so to admit air into chamber 22. When the weight shifts to the heel of the foot, portion 18 compresses spring 35. At the same time, the back end of portion 18 pushes against flap valve 33 to close the flap valve and block air flow into the chamber.
With respect to the air passages 28. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that while the passages or channels are shown as vertical passages in FIGS. 1, 2, 4, 6 and 8, the passage could also extend horizontally or diagonally about the shoe. The most important factor in routing the air passages or channels is that they not become clogged or blocked by dirt and debris during normal wearing of the shoe.
At the time when the person's weight is on their toes, front portion 14 of the insert is compressed against the inner surface of sole L. At this time, second air chamber 24 is essentially evacuated and there is no air in this chamber. Further, the underside of the bladder is compressed against outlet 34 of air passages 36 which extend longitudinally of shoe S through arch A. As shown in FIG. 2, the underside of insert or bladder 12 is contoured such that when the wearers weight is on the toes of his or her foot that the insert is pressed completely against the inner surface of the sole. Alternatively, a flap 38 (see FIGS. 5 and 7) is flexibly attached to the underside of the insert. When the weight is on the toe of the foot, the force presses the flap first presses against outlet 34 of the passages 36 so to seal off the passages 36 extending through arch A and prevent back flow of air. When the weight is transferred to the heel, the flexibility of the flap allows it to flex away from the outlets 34 opening the passages 36 from chamber 22 to chamber 24.
As previously described, when the person transfers their weight from their toes to their heel, the air passages by which air is drawn into chamber 22 are closed off. At the same time, pressing the rear portion of insert 12 against pads 20 compresses the pads down reducing the volume of inlet air chamber 22 and increasing the air pressure within the chamber. Unblocking the passages 36 extending through arch A allows the air in chamber 22 to be expelled through the passages into chamber 24. Further transfer of the weight onto the heel of the foot, allows the forward end 14 of the insert to rise slightly off the inner surface of sole L, exposing the inlet 40 of ventilation passages 42. Since the air entering chamber 24 is under pressure, exposing the inlet end of the ventilation passages allows the air to be immediately expelled from this second air chamber into the passages. The air is pushed through these passages and from their outlet ends 44 against the person's foot. The resulting rush of air now serves to cool the person's foot, making it more comfortable to walk or run in the shoe.
In addition to the air circulation passages in the sole of the shoe, vent passages P are formed in the sidewall of the shoe. These passages allow the circulate air to be vented from the shoe. The inlets to these passages P are formed in the sidewall of the shoe, and their outlets are at the top of the shoe.
Referring to FIGS. 5 and 7, an alternate construction of insert 12 is indicated 12′. Insert 12′ includes the flap 38 previously described for blocking the outlet end of the air passages 36 which communicate between air chambers 22 and 24. Insert 12′ also includes a pair of lift plate springs 60 a and 60 b which are attached to the underside of the insert. The lift springs allow insert 12′ to be used in those shoes not having compressible pads 20 such as those shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Now, the lift springs bias the rear portion of the insert upwardly when the person's weight is on the toes of their foot so the air inlet passages 28 at the rear of the shoe are open. When the person's weight is transferred to their heel, the force pushes the insert down, against the force of the springs, to close the outlet end of the passages. As shown in FIG. 5, the springs are attached to the underside of the insert by molded fasteners 62. While the springs are shown arranged in a crisscross pattern in FIG. 5, those skilled in the art will understand that other arrangements of the springs are possible within the scope of this invention.
Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, another embodiment of the apparatus of the present invention includes a booty 70 which is insertable within shoe S. The booty is molded of a soft, pliable plastic-like vinyl material which not only cushions the wearer's foot, but also may be moisture and odor absorbent. In FIG. 3, booty 70 is shown to be of a single piece construction and to include a sole 72 which fits over the sole of the shoe and extends substantially the length of the shoe. The booty further includes an integrally formed sidewall 74 which is a continuous sidewall that extends around the inside of the shoe from one side of the shoe adjacent the toe of the shoe (section 74 a), rearward about the heel of the shoe (section 74 b), and then forward on the other side of the shoe to a location again adjacent the toe of the shoe (section 74 c). When inserted in a shoe, as shown in FIG. 3, the booty encases the bottom, back, and sides of the wearer's foot. At an open, upper end of the booty; i.e., the mouth of the shoe into which the wearer inserts their foot, there is an adjustment strap 80 which allows the wearer to control the volume of air drawn into booty 70 for circulation through the shoe.
The bottom, sole portion 72 of booty 70 performs the same, bladder function as the insert 12 previously described. A plate spring 81 is attached to the rear portion of sole 72. The rear portion of the sole and the plate spring, together with sole 72 of the booty, define a first air chamber 22′ at the heel portion of the booty into which air is drawn when the person's weight is on their toes. The front portion of booty sole 72 and sole L of the shoe define a second air chamber 24′ at the front of the shoe. Air inlets 26′ are formed in the heel portion of the booty, at the upper end portion thereof for air to be drawn through air passages 28′ into chamber 22′. The outlets of these air passages are at the base of the heel section 74 b of the booty sidewall. As shown in FIG. 4, when a person walks, the weight transfer onto the heel of their foot, plate spring 60 a, 60 b and the rear portion of sole 72 are compressed, elongated, and flattened. The opposite occurs when the person's weight is on their toes. The result is a pumping action to circulate air throughout the shoe in a manner similar to that previously described. In addition to the plate springs 60 a, 60 b a lift spring can also secured to sole 72. The lift spring provides a lift to the person's heel and arch to provide a less stressful walk. The plate springs and lift springs can have different compression strengths so to accommodate heavier or lighter individuals.
As with the previous embodiment, when the person's weight transfers onto their heel, the rear portion of sole 72 is pushed down blocking the outlet of air passages 28′. Simultaneously, the air in chamber 22′ is pushed through the passages 36 in arch A into chamber 24′. As shown in FIG. 3, the front portion of sole 72 of the booty has a plurality of spaced openings 82 by which air expelled from second air chamber 24′ is directed at the wearer's foot. A first series of openings 82 a extend longitudinally of the booty generally along a centerline of the shoe. A second series of openings 82 b are arranged in a first arcuate pattern outwardly of the openings 82 a. A third series of openings 82 c are also arranged in an arcuate pattern outwardly of the openings 82 b. A fourth series of openings 82 d are arranged in an arcuate pattern outwardly of the openings 82 c. Each of the arcuate patterns including the respective openings 82 b-82 d are generally elliptical in curvature. Further, each of these arcuate patterns extend generally from a central portion of sole 72 of the booty forward toward the front end of the booty or toe of the shoe.
An additional set of openings 82 e are arranged in a predetermined pattern in the middle portion of sole 72 so to distribute air to the middle portion of the foot. Additional openings 82 f are formed in the heel portion of the sole to vent air about the person's heel. As shown in FIG. 3, the pattern of these openings generally represent extensions of the arcuate patterns previously described with the outer openings; i.e., those adjacent the sides of the booty sole conforming to the curvature of the sole.
As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, air vent channels 84 are formed in sidewall 74 of the booty. In FIG. 3, these channels are shown to be formed on both sides of the sidewall and extend up the entire height of booty 70. While six vent channels 84 are shown as being formed on each side of the booty, more or fewer such channels could be formed without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, in FIG. 4, air vents 86 are shown as being formed at the forward end of sidewall 74 a. The vent channels 84 on one side of the booty extend rearward from a wall formed by the front end of section 74 a. On the other side of the booty, the vent channels extend rearward from a wall formed by the front end of section 74 c. Air forced into the shoe and circulated about the wearer's foot is now vented from the shoe through these channels and expelled about the top of the person's foot and ankle.
Although not shown, a clean out plug may be fitted into sole 72. When the plug is removed, the booty can be flushed out by removing the booty from the shoe. In addition, a porous cloth material can be attached to the inside of the booty to provide additional comfort to the wearer.
In view of the above, it will be seen that the several objects and advantages of the present invention have been achieved and other advantageous results have been obtained.