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Publication numberUS20030057749 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/961,703
Publication dateMar 27, 2003
Filing dateSep 24, 2001
Priority dateSep 24, 2001
Publication number09961703, 961703, US 2003/0057749 A1, US 2003/057749 A1, US 20030057749 A1, US 20030057749A1, US 2003057749 A1, US 2003057749A1, US-A1-20030057749, US-A1-2003057749, US2003/0057749A1, US2003/057749A1, US20030057749 A1, US20030057749A1, US2003057749 A1, US2003057749A1
InventorsRobert Buono
Original AssigneeBuono Robert A.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Video seating system for a vehicle
US 20030057749 A1
Abstract
A seat (22) for mounting in a vehicle generally includes an entire video recording system (20). The video recording system (20) has a camera (40) extending above the seat (22) and mounted, via a support (42), to a back frame (26) of the seat (22). The camera (40) is spaced from the headrest (29) and is preferably close to the longitudinal centerline of the vehicle. An audio receiver (48) and controller (80) are mounted in the seat back (28), while a recorder (68) and display unit (54) are mounted to the seat bottom (32). A power and communications wire bundle (82) is disposed to connect the recording system (20) to the vehicle's systems. The recording system (20) may include a mechanism for limiting access to the videotape and a mechanism for heating and cooling the recorder.
Images(5)
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Claims(39)
What is claimed is:
1. A seat for a vehicle, with the vehicle including a generally longitudinal centerline, the seat comprising:
a seat back that is adapted to mount generally vertically in the vehicle, with the seat back including a seat back frame and a seat back cover generally surrounding the seat back frame;
a seat bottom that is adapted to mount generally horizontally in the vehicle adjacent the seat back, with the seat bottom including a seat bottom frame and a seat bottom cover generally surrounding the bottom frame;
a headrest mounted to the seat back;
a camera support secured to the seat back frame and extending through the seat back cover, with the camera support spaced from the headrest; and
a video camera mounted to the camera support.
2. The seat of claim 1 wherein the camera support mounts the video camera such that the video camera is adapted to be generally adjacent to the longitudinal centerline of the vehicle when the seat is mounted in the vehicle.
3. The seat of claim 1 wherein the camera support is adapted to remain generally intact under both normal vehicle operating conditions and under forces created by a significant vehicle impact.
4. The seat of claim 1 further including a controller mounted to the seat and in communication with the video camera.
5. The seat of claim 4 wherein the controller is mounted to the seat back frame, within the seat back cover.
6. The seat of claim 1 further including an audio receiver mounted to the seat and adapted to receive signals from a wireless microphone.
7. The seat of claim 6 wherein the audio receiver is mounted to the seat back frame, within the seat back cover.
8. The seat of claim 1 further including a display arm, including a first end and a second end, with the first end mounted to the seat, and with a display unit mounted to the second end of the display arm.
9. The seat of claim 8 wherein the first end of the display arm is mounted to the seat bottom frame.
10. The seat of claim 8 wherein the display arm includes means for adjusting the position and orientation of the first end relative to the second end.
11. The seat of claim 1 further including a recorder mounted under the seat bottom.
12. The seat of claim 11 further including a cover generally surrounding a bottom and side surfaces of the recorder.
13. The seat of claim 12 wherein the cover includes a heater that selectively heats the recorder.
14. The seat of claim 12 wherein the cover includes a cooler that selectively cools the recorder.
15. The seat of claim 11 wherein the recorder is slidably mounted under the seat bottom.
16. The seat of claim 11 wherein the recorder includes a removal location that is adapted to receive removable media for recording thereon, and wherein the seat further includes a media access limiter.
17. The seat of claim 16 wherein the media access limiter comprises a door mounted adjacent the removal location, with a lock on the door for limiting access to the removal location.
18. The seat of claim 16 wherein the media access limiter comprises an ejection mechanism in the recorder, and a security circuit, in communication with the ejection mechanism, for preventing the ejection mechanism from ejecting the recordable media unless a predetermined security code is communicated to the circuit.
19. A seat for a vehicle comprising:
a seat back that is adapted to mount generally vertically in the vehicle, with the seat back including a seat back frame and a seat back cover generally surrounding the seat back frame;
a seat bottom that is adapted to mount generally horizontally in the vehicle adjacent the seat back, with the seat bottom including a seat bottom frame and a seat bottom cover generally surrounding the bottom frame;
a camera support mounted to the seat;
a video camera mounted to the camera support;
a controller mounted to the seat and in communication with the video camera;
an audio receiver mounted to the seat and adapted to receive signals from a wireless microphone;
a display arm, including a first end and a second end, with the first end mounted to the seat, and with a display unit mounted to the second end of the display arm; and
a recorder mounted under the seat bottom.
20. The seat of claim 19 wherein the vehicle includes a generally longitudinal centerline, and wherein the seat includes a headrest mounted to the seat back, the camera support is secured to the seat back frame and extends through the seat back cover, with the camera support spaced from the headrest, and the camera support mounts the camera such that the video camera is adapted to be generally adjacent to the longitudinal centerline of the vehicle when the seat is mounted in the vehicle.
21. The seat of claim 19 wherein the controller is mounted to the seat back frame, within the seat back cover, and the audio receiver is mounted to the seat back frame, within the seat back cover.
22. The seat of claim 19 wherein the first end of the display arm is mounted to the seat bottom frame, and the recorder is mounted under the seat bottom.
23. The seat of claim 19 wherein the recorder includes a removal location that is adapted for receiving removable media for recording thereon, and wherein the seat further includes a media access limiter.
24. The seat of claim 23 wherein the media access limiter comprises an ejection mechanism in the recorder, and a security circuit, in communication with the ejection mechanism, for preventing the ejection mechanism from ejecting the recordable media unless a predetermined security code is communicated to the circuit.
25. A video imaging system for a vehicle comprising:
a seat back that is adapted to mount generally vertically in the vehicle;
a seat bottom that is adapted to mount generally horizontally in the vehicle adjacent the seat back, with the seat bottom including a seat bottom frame;
a video camera adapted to be mounted in the vehicle; and
a display arm, including a first end and a second end, with the first end mounted to the seat, and with a display unit mounted to the second end of the display arm.
26. The video imaging system of claim 25 wherein the first end of the display arm is mounted to the seat bottom frame.
27. The video imaging system of claim 25 wherein the display arm includes means for adjusting the position and orientation of the first end relative to the second end.
28. A video imaging system for a vehicle comprising:
a seat back that is adapted to mount generally vertically in the vehicle;
a seat bottom that is adapted to mount generally horizontally in the vehicle adjacent the seat back, with the seat bottom including a seat bottom frame;
a video camera adapted to be mounted in the vehicle; and
a recorder slidably mounted under the seat bottom.
29. The video imaging system of claim 28 further including a recorder cover, with the recorder mounted therein, and with the cover including rollers slidably mounted in tracks on the seat bottom frame.
30. The video imaging system of claim 28 wherein the recorder includes a removal location that is adapted to receive removable media for recording thereon, and wherein the video imaging system further includes a media access limiter, and with the media access limiter including an ejection mechanism in the recorder, and a security circuit, in communication with the ejection mechanism, for preventing the ejection mechanism from ejecting the recordable media unless a predetermined security code is communicated to the circuit.
31. A video imaging system for a vehicle comprising:
a seat back that is adapted to mount generally vertically in the vehicle;
a seat bottom that is adapted to mount generally horizontally in the vehicle adjacent the seat back;
a video camera adapted to be mounted in the vehicle;
a recorder mounted under the seat bottom, with the recorder including a removal location that is adapted to receive removable media for recording thereon; and
wherein the video imaging system further includes a media access limiter, and with the media access limiter including an ejection mechanism in the recorder, and a security circuit, in communication with the ejection mechanism, for preventing the ejection mechanism from ejecting the recordable media unless a predetermined security code is communicated to the circuit.
32. A vehicle seat with video imaging equipment mounted thereon for positioning in a motor vehicle for receiving video images, comprising:
a frame for a seat having cushioning pads thereon defining a seat portion and a seat back portion, said frame defining a shape of the seat and the seat back portions, said seat back portion having a headrest portion thereon;
a cover covering the frame;
the seat back portion further defining a second portion spaced-apart and lateral of the headrest portion, which second portion includes means for mounting a video imaging device thereto, whereby said video imaging device is substantially centrally disposed relative to a central axis of a vehicle that receives said seat for imaging forwardly so that the video imaging device is unobstructed by a passenger's head when the passenger's head is located immediately in front of the headrest portion;
an attacher for securing a video image recorder within the seat portion for being operatively connected to the video imaging device; and
a controller for selectively operating the camera and the recorder for recording images.
33. The motor vehicle seat as recited in claim 32, wherein the second portion comprises:
a cavity defined within the seat back portion;
a support member disposed in the cavity and engaged to the frame of the seat back portion, the support member adapted for rigidly engaging said at least one video imaging apparatus; and
a port in a side wall of the seat for entrance to the cavity, whereby the video imaging apparatus is inserted into the cavity for engagement to the support member.
34. A seat including a camera imaging apparatus fixedly attached to said seat, said attachment disposing said camera imaging apparatus substantially centrally relative to a central axis of a vehicle receiving said seat, for imaging forwardly from said seat such that said camera imaging apparatus is unobstructed by a passenger's head when the passenger's head is located immediately in front of a headrest portion of said seat;
said camera imaging apparatus including one or more lenses and adapted to co create one or more electrical signal representative of the images received by said one or more lenses;
signal transmitting pathway transmitting said one or more electrical signal to a signal recorder;
said signal recorder adapted for remote operation by a control module;
said control module including operator operable indicia for changing one or more mode of operation of said camera imaging apparatus, said control module including a display for displaying images.
35. A seat including a camera imaging apparatus, comprising:
a camera imaging apparatus fixedly attached to said seat laterally offset from a central axis thereof and centrally disposed relative to a central axis of a vehicle for receiving said seat for imaging forwardly from said seat such that said camera imaging apparatus is unobstructed by use of said seat by a passenger when the passenger's head is immediately central to the central axis of the seat during use of the seat as a seat;
said camera imaging apparatus including one or more lens and adapted to create one or more electrical signal representative of the images received by said one or more lens;
signal transmitting pathway transmitting said one or more electrical signal to a signal receiver for processing the signal,
whereby the signal receiver processes said one or more electrical signal for visual display, recording, or communication thereof to a remote receiver.
36. A video and audio imaging apparatus and motor vehicle seat for positioning in a motor vehicle for receiving video images and audio, comprising:
a frame for a seat having cushioning pads thereon defining a seat portion and a seat back portion, said frame defining a shape of the seat and the seat back portions, said seat back portion having a headrest portion therein;
means for covering the frame;
the seat back further defining a second portion spaced-apart and lateral of the headrest portion, which second portion includes means for mounting a video imaging apparatus thereto, whereby the video imaging apparatus is disposed laterally of the seat back and centrally relative to for imaging a central axis of said motor vehicle forwardly while being unobstructed by a passenger's head when the passenger's head is located immediately in front of the headrest portion;
a drawer slidably received within the seat portion for moving between a first position recessed within the seat and a second position extending outwardly of the seat for accessing a video image recorder secured within the drawer and being operatively connected with a control cable to the video imaging apparatus mounted to the seat back portion; and
control means for selectively operating the camera and the recorder for recording images.
37. A video and audio imaging apparatus and vehicle seat for positioning in a vehicle for receiving video images, comprising:
a frame for a seat having cushioning pads thereon defining a seat portion and a seat back portion, said frame defining a shape of the seat and seat back portions, said seat back portion having a headrest portion therein;
a cover for the frame;
the seat back further defining a second portion spaced apart and lateral of the headrest portion;
a support disposed in the second portion for mounting a video imaging apparatus thereto, whereby the video imaging apparatus is disposed laterally of the seat back and centrally relative to a central axis of said vehicle for imaging forwardly while being unobstructed by a passenger's head when the passenger's head is located immediately in front of the headrest portion; and
a drawer slidably received within the seat portion for moving between a first position recessed within the seat and a second position extending outwardly of the seat for accessing a video image recorder secured within the drawer and being operatively connected with a signal communication cable to the video imaging apparatus mounted to the seat back portion.
38. The video imaging apparatus and vehicle seat as recited in claim 37, wherein the second portion comprises a cavity defined within the seat back portion; and
wherein the support comprises a member disposed in the cavity and engaged to the frame of the seat back portion, the support member adapted for rigidly engaging said at least one video imaging apparatus.
39. A video and audio imaging apparatus and vehicle seat for positioning in a vehicle for receiving video images, comprising:
a frame for a seat having cushioning pads thereon defining a seat portion and a seat back portion, said frame defining a shape of the seat and the seat back portions, said seat back portion having a headrest portion therein;
a cover for covering the frame;
a seat back further defining a second portion spaced-apart and lateral of the headrest portion;
a support disposed in the second portion for mounting a video imaging apparatus thereto, whereby the video imaging apparatus is disposed laterally of the seat back and centrally relative to a central axis of said vehicle for imaging forwardly while being unobstructed by a passenger's head when the passenger's head is located immediately in front of the headrest portion;
a drawer slidably received within the seat portion for moving between a first position recessed within the seat and a second position extending outwardly of the seat for accessing a video image recorder secured within the drawer and being operatively connected with a signal communication cable to the video imaging apparatus mounted to the seat back portion;
a controller for selectively operating the video image apparatus and the video image recorder for recording images;
a microphone with a communication pathway for providing an audio signal to the video image recorder; and
a video image display operatively connected to the video image recorder for display of video images, said video image display mounted to a structure of the vehicle
Description

[0001] The present invention relates to vehicle seats, and in particular to vehicle seats with video and audio equipment mounted thereto.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Many police and other rescue vehicles are now equipped with videotaping systems that include a video camera and recorder, and sometimes a microphone for recording audio. These systems are used to record everything from a routine traffic stop to the arrest of criminal suspects.

[0003] Early systems included many variations, from just mounting a home video camera to the vehicle's dash board—to a more complicated system with a camera mounted to the vehicle roof near the rear view mirror, a wireless microphone clipped to the officer, and a VCR propped up on the passenger seat that is connected to the camera and microphone receiver. However, these systems had limited functionality and also prevented anyone from using the vehicle's passenger seat. They also generally were not built to meet today's standards for occupant safety.

[0004] More recently, vehicle video systems have become more elaborate. Some have only a few components in the passenger compartment, and the rest of the system is mounted in the vehicle trunk. The passenger compartment, then, includes only a video camera mounted in the passenger compartment near the windshield, a remote control mounted to the floor of the vehicle near the driver, and a wireless microphone clipped to the officer. The trunk will then typically include a vault in which the video recorder, a receiver for the wireless microphone and the system controller are located.

[0005] Also, since this electronic equipment is located in the trunk, which is not heated and cooled like the passenger compartment, there necessarily will be some type of climate control (heating and cooling) system in or around the vault to maintain the temperature of the components within an acceptable range. These systems also, many times, include a radar gun interface that connects to the vehicle's radar gun, if so equipped.

[0006] There are, however, several disadvantages to these elaborate systems. For example, most police and other rescue vehicles have a great deal of equipment that is stored in the trunk, as so the vault and climate control system take up space needed for other equipment. Moreover, since the components for the video system are so spread out around the vehicle, a great deal of electrical wiring must be added to the vehicle to provide power to, and communication between, the various components. This wiring creates not only a problem for system reliability, but also makes installation and servicing of the system difficult and expensive, especially since these systems are typically added as retrofits to existing vehicles rather than installed as an option in new vehicles. Additionally, as mentioned above, since trunks are not heated or cooled like the passenger compartment, there must be a climate control system in the trunk to allow the system to operate under great temperature extremes. The camera location for these systems also blocks a portion of the driver's view through the windshield, which is objectionable.

[0007] Thus, it is desirable to have a video system for police and other rescue vehicles that overcomes the drawbacks of the previous systems. In particular, it is desirable to have a complete video system that is reliable and easily installs into vehicles, and yet is inexpensive, while minimizing the space taken up that is usually reserved for other police and rescue equipment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] In its embodiments, the present invention contemplates a seat for a vehicle, with the vehicle including a generally longitudinal centerline. The seat includes a seat back that is adapted to mount generally vertically in the vehicle, with the seat back including a seat back frame and a seat back cover generally surrounding the seat back frame, and a seat bottom that is adapted to mount generally horizontally in the vehicle adjacent the seat back, with the seat bottom including a seat bottom frame and a seat bottom cover generally surrounding the bottom frame. The seat also includes a headrest mounted to the seat back, a camera support secured to the seat back frame and extending through the seat back cover, with the camera support spaced from the headrest, and a video camera mounted to the camera support.

[0009] Accordingly, an object of the present invention is to provide a video recording system that mounts to a vehicle seat, but still allows one to safely occupy the seat without interfering with the operation of the system.

[0010] Another object of the present invention is to provide a video recording system where the camera is mounted to provide a desirable view of incidents being taped while not interfering with the view of the vehicle's operator.

[0011] An advantage of the present invention is that it will provide a video recording system that is easy to install in a vehicle, as well as service.

[0012] Another advantage of the present invention is that a minimum of wiring additions to the vehicle will allow for power to and communication between the components of the system.

[0013] An additional advantage of the present invention is that the video system can operate with much less need for an individual climate control system since the components are mounted in the passenger compartment of the vehicle.

[0014] A further advantage of the present invention is that the video system does not take up space in the vehicle that is normally reserved for other police and rescue equipment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0015]FIG. 1 is an exploded, partial sectional, partial perspective view of a vehicle floor and seat, incorporating a video recording system in accordance with the present invention;

[0016]FIG. 2 is a second embodiment of a display and display support in accordance with the present invention;

[0017]FIG. 3 is a second embodiment of a cover door for a recorder, in accordance with the present invention;

[0018]FIG. 4 is a third embodiment of the cover door for the recorder, in accordance with the present invention;

[0019]FIG. 5 is a schematic view of an alternate embodiment for a recorder cover in accordance with the present invention; and

[0020]FIG. 6 is a schematic view of an alternate embodiment of a recorder and seat illustrating the recorder mounted in a slidable drawer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0021]FIG. 1 illustrates a vehicle seat 22, which mounts to a vehicle floor 24, and includes a video recording system 20. While referring to a “video” recording system herein, this of course, also includes the audio and other information, such as speed, time and date, being recorded by the system as well. The seat 22 includes a seat back 28, having a seat back frame 26, which is enclosed in a seat back cover 30. A headrest 29 is mounted to the frame 26 via a pair of conventional headrest supports 31. The seat back 28 is mounted to a seat bottom 32, having a seat bottom frame 34, which is enclosed in a seat bottom cover 36. The seat bottom frame 34 includes a seat track portion 38, which allows for fore and aft adjustment of the seat 22, and bolts to the floor 24. The seat 22 is a typical vehicle seat, and although it is particularly advantageous to employ a seat 22 having a tubular seat back frame 26, other typical vehicle seat frames may also be employed.

[0022] The video recording system 20 includes a video camera 40 that is mounted to the seat back frame 26 via a video camera support 42 that extends upward through the seat cover 30 and above the seat back 28. It is preferred that the camera 40 is located relatively close to a longitudinal centerline 41 of the vehicle in order to provide a desirable view for recording. This will allow for the best viewing through the vehicle's windshield Also, since the seat 22 can still be occupied while the vehicle is operating, it is desirable for the camera 40 and camera support 42 to be spaced laterally from the headrest 29 and headrest supports 31 in order to assure that they do not interfere with the safety performance of the headrest 29. This location also provides the added advantage that the head of the seat occupant will not block the view of the camera lenses.

[0023] The camera 40 has two forward directed lenses, preferably one wide angle lens 44 and one telephoto lens 46, and one rearward directed lens (not shown), preferably a very wide angle lens to videotape a back seat (not shown) of the vehicle. The camera 40 can be tilted relative to the support 42 in order to orient the lens in the desired direction.

[0024] The video camera support 42 is designed to fully support the camera 40 under normal operating conditions of the vehicle as well as remain intact under significant vehicle impact conditions. What constitutes a significant vehicle impact condition can vary depending upon the type and size of vehicle, but, for example, it might be defined as a 56 kilometer per hour frontal impact with a ninety fifth percentile man in the seat.

[0025] The video recording system 20 also includes an audio receiver 48 that is mounted to the seat back frame 26, and hidden inside the cover 30. By mounting the receiver 48 inside the cover 30, it is less likely to be stolen or damaged by vehicle occupants. The receiver 48 includes two antennas 50 extending from the receiver housing, with each configured to pick up a signal (indicated with a phantom line) from a different one of two wireless microphones 52 (only one microphone shown). It is preferable to mount the receiver 48 high in the seat back 28 for better reception of an audio signal from the microphones 52, but it can be mounted lower in the seat back, seat sides, or in the seat bottom if so desired.

[0026] The video recording system 20 also includes a display unit 54, which is mounted to the upper part of an adjustable arm 56. The upper part of the arm 56 is flexible and is mounted to a lower portion of the adjustable arm 58, which, in turn, mounts to the seat bottom frame 34. Alternatively, the lower portion 58 can mount to the seat back frame 26, or other seat structure if so desired. As indicated by the arrows a, b, and c in FIG. 1, the adjustable arm 56 will allow full movement for adjusting and orienting the display unit 54 for use by either a driver or a passenger of the vehicle. The display unit 54 includes a video display 60, preferably a liquid crystal display, a speaker 64, and a set of buttons 62 for operating the system. These buttons 62 may have fixed functions, such as record, play, power on/off, etc., or they may be variable, with the display 60 indicating the function of each button in the set 62 depending upon the mode of the video system 20.

[0027] A recorder 68 is mounted to the seat bottom frame 34, just above the vehicle floor 24, via a bracket 70, which is bolted to the frame 34. While a video cassette recorder (VCR) that records onto a VHS format videotape is shown in FIG. 1, other types of recording devices may be employed instead—for example, a video compact disk (V-CD), a recordable digital versatile disk (DVD) player, or other digital media storage device may be used instead of a VCR. A dust cover 72 is mounted to the bracket 70. It extends underneath and around the sides of the recorder 68 in order to keep dust and dirt out. There is also a door 74 that is mounted, via a hinge, to the mounting bracket 70. The door 74 includes a lock 76, which engages a portion of the mounting bracket 70 when locked. When the door 74 is pivoted upward and the lock 76 is engaged, the front face of the recorder 68 will be covered, limiting access to the videotape to those who have the corresponding key.

[0028] The video recording system 20 also includes a controller 80 that is mounted to the seat back frame 26, hidden within the seat back cover 30. The controller 80 and audio receiver 48 are configured to snap onto the seat frame 26 for ease of mounting, but can also be attached by other conventional methods. Moreover, the controller 80 can be mounted in the seat bottom 32 instead, if so desired.

[0029] By mounting the controller 80 inside the seat cover 30, it is less likely to be stolen or damaged by vehicle occupants. The controller 80 is electrically connected to the camera 40, audio receiver 48, display unit 54, and recorder 68. It includes circuitry for receiving, processing, and transmitting signals to and from the various components. The controller 80 also preferably includes a circuit for tracking the current date and time; although, if so desired, the recorder 68 may house this circuit instead.

[0030] A video system wire bundle 82 connects to the components and extends from the seat, preferably near the vehicle floor 24. A second wire bundle 84, extends from a power source (not shown) within the vehicle, preferably under the vehicle's floor trim and carpeting, and connect to the video system wire bundle 82. This second wire bundle 84 can be run where a typical wire bundle is run when the passenger side front seat is a power seat. The wire bundles 82, 84 provide power to all of the components in the video recording system 20. Also, if the video recording system 20 receives signals from other vehicle systems (not shown), the wiring for communication with these systems can be included as part of the wire bundles 82, 84.

[0031] For example, if the vehicle is equipped with a radar gun or other speed detection system, then the communication wiring can be run from that system through the wire bundles 82, 84, to the controller 80. In such a case, then, the controller 80 would include additional circuitry to receive and process the speed information. Also, if one wishes to be able to activate the recording system 20 upon activation of a police vehicle's siren or light bar (not shown), then a wire from the police vehicle's emergency system controller can be run through the wire bundle 82, 84 to the controller 80.

[0032] One can see from FIG. 1 that the video recording system 20 is a modular assembly with essentially all of the components mounted to one seat 22. This modular assembly provides for ease of installation and repair, whether factory installed or a retrofit to an existing vehicle. For a retrofit to an existing vehicle, the old passenger side front seat is removed, and the vehicle seat 22 with the video recording system 20 is mounted in its place. Then, one only needs to run the wire bundle 84 to the seat 22 to provide power and communication wiring to the system 20. Moreover, since it is modular, all of the components can be assembled to and tested on the seat 22 prior to shipping it to an installation facility, or, if preferred, installed in the seat at an installation facility for installation into a vehicle at a later date.

[0033] While the example illustrated in FIG. 1 is a front passenger seat 22 of a vehicle, others seats within the a vehicle can be employed to mount the recording system 20. The front passenger seat is generally preferred over the driver seat since most driver seats have power adjustments, which limit the amount of room for mounting the recording system. On the other hand, the front drive seat still allows for a preferred location for the camera—close to the longitudinal centerline of the vehicle, and close to the front of the passenger compartment, to provide good viewing through the vehicle windshield without being blocked by an occupant's head and without blocking the operator's view through the windshield. The front passenger seat is also generally preferred over the rear seats since it provides a preferred viewing location for the camera.

[0034] The operation of the video recorder system 20 will now be described. The system may be turned on in any one of four ways. It may be set to automatically turn on when a vehicle's siren, emergency lights, or the microphone is activated, or a vehicle occupant may turn it on by pressing an on/off button on the display unit 54. This can also be reconfigured, via the display unit, to only turn on in some of these four ways. Once activated, one may press a button on the display unit 54 to switch between the three lenses on the camera 40, depending upon the desired view to be recorded. If the occupants desire, they may each have a wireless microphone 52 clipped to his person, which will transmit signals back to the audio receiver 48.

[0035] Both the video signal from the camera 40 and the audio signal from the receiver 48 are sent to the controller 80, which combines the signals and sends a video and audio signal to the recorder 68 to be recorded on a tape if the recorder 68 is in its record mode. The controller may also superimpose the date and time, as well as other information one has programmed into the controller 80, onto the video signal. This may include speed information as well, if the vehicle is equipped with a speed detection system, such as a radar gun. The controller 80 also sends the combined signal to the display unit 54, so a vehicle occupant can see and hear on the video display 60 and speaker 64, respectively, what is being recorded. If the recorder 68 is in the play back mode, then the controller 80 will send the combined signal from a tape to the display unit 54 for viewing and listening by a vehicle occupant. Of course, the buttons 62 on the display unit 54 allow for rewinding, fast-forwarding and other similar types of functions employed in video recording systems, with the exception of the eject tape function. Since a tape insertion slot 88, which is on the front face of the recorder, is covered by the lockable door 74, the tape cannot be ejected and removed unless one has a key for unlocking the lock 76. This feature is meant to deter unauthorized individuals from gaining access to and tampering with the tape.

[0036]FIG. 2 illustrates an alternate embodiment of the adjustable arm for the display unit 54. In this embodiment, the upper display arm 156 is not flexible, but includes two telescoping tubes with a pin and series of holes 194 for securing the arm 156 at the desired length.

[0037]FIG. 3 illustrates a second embodiment for the door covering the front of the recorder. In this embodiment, a door 174 still mounts to the mounting bracket 70 and covers the front of the recorder 168, but it does not have a lock. The door 174 has a latch, a spring hinge, or other conventional mechanism to hold it closed. This door 174, then, will help to keep the dust and dirt out of the recorder 168, but does not prevent one from removing a tape. In order to protect the integrity of a tape, the recorder's ejection mechanism (not shown) is connected to the controller 180. The controller 180 includes circuitry to disable the tape ejection function unless a predetermined code is entered into the display unit (not shown in this figure). In this way, access to a tape can be limited without limiting access to the front face of the recorder 168. Alternatively, the front face of the recorder can include buttons for entering an ejection code rather than using the buttons on the display.

[0038]FIG. 4 illustrates a third embodiment for the door that covers the front of the recorder. In this embodiment, a door 274 is again hinged to the mounting bracket 270, but is sized to only cover the tape insertion slot 288 on the front face of the recorder 268. A key lock 276 is mounted on the door 274 and includes a latch that engages a portion of the tape slot 288 to secure the door 274 in the closed position. In this way, access to a tape is limited to those with a key, but the other displays and buttons on the front face of the recorder 268 are accessible.

[0039]FIG. 5 illustrates an alternate embodiment of the dust cover for the recorder. This dust cover 172 is more than just a thin sheet of plastic or metal for keeping dust and dirt out of the recorder (not shown in this figure). A heat pump 94, or other heating and cooling mechanism, is built into the cover 172. A wire bundle 98 will connect to the controller (not shown in this figure) for supplying power and control signals to the heat pump 94. This will allow one to heat or cool the recorder more quickly than the passenger compartment, thereby allowing the recorder to begin operations sooner under extreme temperature conditions.

[0040]FIG. 6 illustrates an alternate embodiment for the mounting of the recorder 68. In this embodiment, the dust cover 372 includes rollers 99 along two sides, and the door 374 is now integral with the cover 372. The rollers 99 mate with conventional guides (not shown) mounted to the bracket 370, allowing the cover 372 to slide in and out from under the seat 22 like a drawer. If desired, a locking mechanism can be used to secure the recorder 68 in the cover 372, or secure the drawer under the seat, in order to limit access to the tape.

[0041] While certain embodiments of the present invention have been described in detail, those familiar with the art to which this invention relates will recognize various alternative designs and embodiments for practicing the invention as defined by the following claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7040699 *Dec 11, 2003May 9, 2006Daimlerchrysler CorporationStowable seat mounted display screen
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Classifications
U.S. Classification297/217.3
International ClassificationB60R11/02, B60R11/04, B60R11/00, B60N2/44
Cooperative ClassificationB60N2/44, B60R11/04, B60R11/0235, B60R2011/0015, B60R2011/0012, B60R11/0211, B60R11/02, B60R2011/0089
European ClassificationB60R11/04, B60R11/02, B60R11/02C, B60N2/44, B60R11/02E2
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 17, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: LEAR CORPORATION, MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:BUONO, ROBERT A.;REEL/FRAME:012501/0432
Effective date: 20011026