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Publication numberUS20040009731 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/193,643
Publication dateJan 15, 2004
Filing dateJul 11, 2002
Priority dateJul 11, 2002
Also published asWO2004006700A1
Publication number10193643, 193643, US 2004/0009731 A1, US 2004/009731 A1, US 20040009731 A1, US 20040009731A1, US 2004009731 A1, US 2004009731A1, US-A1-20040009731, US-A1-2004009731, US2004/0009731A1, US2004/009731A1, US20040009731 A1, US20040009731A1, US2004009731 A1, US2004009731A1
InventorsSigi Rabinowicz
Original AssigneeTefron
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Garment with discrete integrally-formed, electrically-conductive region and associated blank and method
US 20040009731 A1
Abstract
A circularly knit garment is provided, the garment comprising a circularly knit fabric body having an inner surface adapted to be disposed adjacent to a wearer's skin when the garment is worn. The garment further includes at least one discrete electrically-conductive region formed at the inner surface of the body during the circular knitting thereof in such as manner as to contact the wearer's skin when the garment is worn. The at least one electrically-conductive region is comprised of electrically-conductive threads, wherein the electrically-conductive threads are knit into the body such that the electrically-conductive threads at the inner surface are confined to the at least one electrically-conductive region. The at least one electrically-conductive region is further adapted to cooperate with the wearer's skin to conduct an electrical signal therebetween. An associated blank and a method of making such a garment are also provided.
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Claims(36)
That which is claimed:
1. A circularly knit garment, comprising:
a circularly knit fabric body having an inner surface adapted to be disposed adjacent to a wearer's skin when the garment is worn; and
at least one discrete electrically-conductive region formed at the inner surface of the body during the circular knitting thereof in such as manner as to contact the wearer's skin when the garment is worn, the at least one electrically-conductive region being comprised of electrically-conductive threads knit into the body such that the electrically-conductive threads at the inner surface are confined to the at least one electrically-conductive region, the at least one electrically-conductive region being further adapted to cooperate with the wearer's skin to conduct an electrical signal therebetween.
2. A garment according to claim 1 wherein the body is substantially seamless.
3. A garment according to claim 1 further comprising an electrical signal processing device in communication with the at least one electrically-conductive region and configured to receive the electrical signal from the wearer's skin.
4. A garment according to claim 1 further comprising a display in communication with the at least one electrically-conductive region and configured to display a representation of the electrical signal.
5. A garment according to claim 1 wherein the body further comprises an outer surface and includes at least one conductive element in electrical contact with the at least one electrically-conductive region, the at least one conductive element extending between the electrically-conductive region and the outer surface.
6. A garment according to claim 5 further comprising a pocket defined by the body, wherein the at least one conductive element extends from the electrically-conductive region into the pocket.
7. A garment according to claim 6 further comprising an electrical signal processing device configured to be housed by the pocket and to be communicable with the at least one conductive element so as to receive the electrical signal from the at least one electrically-conductive region.
8. A garment according to claim 5 wherein the at least one conductive element is integrally formed with the at least one electrically-conductive region during the circular knitting of the body.
9. A garment according to claim 1 wherein the body comprises an inner ply, having an inner surface disposed adjacent to the wearer's skin when the garment is worn and an outer surface, and an outer ply, having an inner surface opposing the outer surface of the inner ply and an outer surface.
10. A garment according to claim 9 wherein the at least one electrically-conductive region is formed at the inner surface of the inner ply so as to be capable of contacting the wearer's skin.
11. A garment according to claim 9 further comprising at least one conductive element in electrical contact with the at least one electrically-conductive region and extending between the at least one electrically-conductive region and at least one of the outer surface of the inner ply and the inner surface of the outer ply.
12. A garment according to claim 11 further comprising at least one electrical connector operably engaged with each conductive element in opposing relation to the at least one electrically-conductive region.
13. A garment according to claim 9 wherein the at least one conductive element is integrally formed with the at least one electrically-conductive region during the circular knitting of the body, and the at least one conductive element extends in a continuous path between the at least one electrically-conductive region and at least one of the outer surface of the inner ply and the inner surface of the outer ply.
14. A garment according to claim 9 wherein the body is formed of a circularly knit fabric blank folded upon itself along a fold line defining an edge of the body, the inner ply opposing the outer ply about the fold line.
15. A garment according to claim 9 wherein the inner ply and the outer ply are secured together at a turned welt so as to define an edge of the body.
16. A garment according to claim 9 further comprising a pocket formed between the inner and outer plies and having at least one electrical connector therein in communication with the at least one electrically-conductive region via at least one conductive element operably engaged therebetween, the pocket being configured to accept an electrical signal processing device therein, the electrical signal processing device being configured to operably engage the at least one electrical connector for receiving the electrical signal from the wearer's skin.
17. A circularly knit blank for making a substantially seamless garment, said blank comprising a fabric structure having:
a first series of courses having an inner surface and an outer surface, the first series of courses beginning at a first end and extending to an opposite second end;
a second series of courses having a first end knitted to the second end of the first series of courses and extending to an opposite second end, the second series of courses having an inner surface adapted to be disposed adjacent to a wearer's skin when the garment is worn and an opposing outer surface, one of the inner and outer surfaces of the first series of courses being configured to overlie the outer surface of the second series of courses to create a two-ply fabric structure; and
at least one discrete electrically-conductive region formed at the inner surface of the second series of courses during the circular knitting thereof in such as manner as to contact the wearer's skin when the garment is worn, the at least one electrically-conductive region being comprised of electrically-conductive threads knit into the second series of courses such that the electrically-conductive threads at the inner surface of the second series of courses are confined to the at least one electrically-conductive region, the at least one electrically-conductive region being further adapted to cooperate with the wearer's skin to conduct an electrical signal therebetween.
18. A blank according to claim 17 wherein the fabric structure comprises a circularly knit single ply fabric tube having opposed ends.
19. A blank according to claim 18 wherein the fabric tube further comprises a turned welt knit at each end of the tube.
20. A blank according to claim 18 wherein the fabric tube further comprises a fold region disposed intermediate to the first series of courses and the second series of courses, the blank being foldable about the fold region to create the two ply fabric structure.
21. A blank according to claim 20 wherein the fold region comprises a turned welt.
22. A blank according to claim 17 further comprising an electrical signal processing device in communication with the at least one electrically-conductive region and configured to receive the electrical signal from the wearer's skin.
23. A blank according to claim 17 further comprising a display in communication with the at least one electrically-conductive region and configured to display a representation of the electrical signal.
24. A blank according to claim 17 further comprising at least one conductive element in electrical contact with the at least one electrically-conductive region, the at least one conductive element extending between the at least one electrically-conductive region and at least one of the outer surface of the second series of courses and the inner surface of the first series of courses.
25. A blank according to claim 24 wherein the first series of courses and the second series of courses are configured so as to define a pocket therebetween, the at least one conductive element further being configured to extend from the at least one electrically-conductive region into the pocket.
26. A blank according to claim 25 further comprising at least one electrical connector operably engaged with each conductive element in opposing relation to the at least one electrically-conductive region.
27. A blank according to claim 26 further comprising an electrical signal processing device configured to be housed by the pocket and to be operably engageable with the at least one electrical connector so as to receive the electrical signal from the at least one electrically-conductive region.
28. A blank according to claim 24 wherein the at least one conductive element is integrally formed with the at least one electrically-conductive region during the circular knitting of the second series of courses.
29. A method of making a substantially seamless garment, comprising:
knitting a tubular blank by:
circularly knitting a first series of courses to form first tubular structure having an inner surface, an outer surface and opposing ends; and
circularly knitting a second series of courses to one of the ends of the first series of courses to form a second tubular structure, the second tubular structure having an inner surface and an outer surface, the inner surface including at least one discrete electrically-conductive region formed therewith during the circular knitting thereof and adapted to contact a wearer's skin when the garment is worn, the at least one electrically-conductive region being further adapted to cooperate with the wearer's skin to conduct an electrical signal therebetween, the at least one electrically-conductive region being comprised of electrically-conductive threads knit into the second series of courses such that the electrically-conductive threads at the inner surface of the second series of courses are confined to the at least one electrically-conductive region, and the at least one electrically-conductive region further including at least one conductive element extending therefrom, one of the inner and outer surfaces of the first tubular structure being configured to overlie the outer surface of the second tubular structure so as to form a two-ply blank;
cutting the two-ply blank to define peripheral edges of the garment; and
selectively stitching the peripheral edges of the two-ply blank together.
30. A method according to claim 29 wherein circularly knitting a second series of courses further comprises selectively circularly knitting electrically conductive threads into the second series of courses so as to integrally form the at least one electrically-conductive region and the at least one conductive element.
31. A method according to claim 29 further comprising establishing communication between the at least one electrically-conductive region and an electrical signal processing device configured to receive the electrical signal from the wearer's skin.
32. A method according to claim 29 further comprising establishing communication between the at least one electrically-conductive region and a display configured to display a representation of the electrical signal.
33. A method according to claim 29 further comprising forming a pocket between the first series of courses and the second series of courses, the at least one conductive element extending from the at least one electrically-conductive region into the pocket.
34. A method according to claim 33 further comprising operably engaging at least one electrical connector with each conductive element in opposing relation to the at least one electrically-conductive region, the at least one electrical connector being disposed within the pocket.
35. A method according to claim 34 further comprising disposing an electrical signal processing device in the pocket in operable engagement with the at least one electrical connector, the electrical signal processing device being communicable with the at least one electrically-conductive region to receive the electrical signal.
36. A method according to claim 29 wherein stitching the peripheral edges of the two-ply blank further comprises stitching the second series of courses to the one end of the first series of courses at a turned welt so as to define an edge of the garment.
Description
    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to garments and, more particularly, to a substantially seamless garment having at least one discrete and integrally-formed region of electrically-conductive threads for conducting an electrical signal to and from the wearer's skin.
  • [0003]
    2. Description of Related Art
  • [0004]
    The human body emits signals which may be detected by appropriate electronic devices. For example, a person's heartbeat may be monitored by an electrocardiograph or, in a simpler situation, a person's heart rate may be monitored by a heart rate monitoring device. However, in either instance, one or more electrodes or other conductive patches must be applied in contact with the person's skin and then connected by appropriate conductive leads to the monitoring device. This can often be a cumbersome, uncomfortable, or otherwise awkward process, particularly if the person is to remain clothed while the signals emitted by the body are monitored. For instance, the electrodes may be applied to the desired parts of the person's body and then connected by wires, the wires running under and/or out of openings in the person's clothing, to the monitoring device. In another example, a heart rate monitor may be applied and secured to a person's chest, externally to a garment worn by the person, and secured thereabout by a strap. Such shortcomings may be compounded if the person is to remain active and moving about while their body signals are monitored.
  • [0005]
    In some situations such as, for example, health and fitness or other recreational activities, focus may be placed on monitoring signals emitted by the body in order to attain and maintain a desired condition. For instance, a person may monitor heart rate during aerobic activity using a portable heart rate monitoring device. However, when participating in such activities, the person may require that such a monitoring device be well-secured and as unobtrusive as possible, with the electrodes being maintained in contact the skin with minimal, if any effort from the person. Further, emphasis may be placed on activity-specific clothing being comfortable with minimal bulk. In some instances, such as sports brassieres or tank tops, it may also be desirable for the garment to be substantially seamless.
  • [0006]
    Accordingly, in furtherance of such desirable features, electrically-conductive threads have been incorporated into the fabric of garments for providing electrical pathways between sensors and monitoring devices. Such garments are disclosed in, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,315,009 to Jayaraman et al., U.S. Pat. No. 6,210,771 to Post et al., U.S. Pat. No. 6,145,551 to Jayaraman et al., U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,080,690 to Lebby et al., and 5,906,004 to Lebby et al. However, in each of these patents, the fabric is woven and the electrically-conductive threads for providing the electrical pathways are present throughout the weave. More particularly, the fabric is woven from both conductive and non-conductive fibers, with the conductive fibers running along one weave direction and the non-conductive fibers running along the other weave direction perpendicularly to the conductive fibers. However, the fabric must then be formed into the garment, wherein such a garment undesirably includes one or more seams where fabric ends are sewn together. In addition, the presence of the conductive threads throughout the weave may render such a garment prone to receiving excessive noise or other unnecessary or undesirable signals due to the extensive area covered by the conductive threads. Further, since the conductive threads extend about both the inner and outer surface of such garments, the electrical signal conducted by the threads may also be prone to interference or unwanted signals from contact of the outer surface of the garment with external conductive objects.
  • [0007]
    Thus, there exists a need for a fabric having localized areas of conductive threads for allowing the formation of a garment providing selective contact of the conductive thread areas with particular regions of the wearer's skin. Such a fabric should desirably be formed so as to permit a substantially seamless garment to be made therefrom in order to promote wearer comfort while reducing the need for sewing or other fastening procedures, as well as the bulk associated with a connection of fabric ends, typically present or necessary at a seam. Where a localized area of conductive threads is provided, the conductive threads should be confined or otherwise restricted to that area so as to reduce interference or other unwanted electrical signals received by the conductive threads. The localized area should also be restricted to the inner surface of the garment so as to reduce the risk of interference or other unwanted signals from external conductive objects. The localized area of conductive threads should also desirably include one or more conductive leads extending therefrom so as to provide an electrical path for transmission of an electrical signal to and from the localized area, wherein such conductive leads should be integrally formed with the localized area during the production of the fabric or garment.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0008]
    The above and other needs are met by the present invention which, in one embodiment, provides a circularly knit garment, comprising a circularly knit fabric body having an inner surface adapted to be disposed adjacent to a wearer's skin when the garment is worn. At least one discrete electrically-conductive region is formed at the inner surface of the body during the circular knitting thereof in such as manner as to contact the wearer's skin when the garment is worn. The at least one electrically-conductive region is comprised of electrically-conductive threads, wherein the electrically-conductive threads are knit into the body such that the electrically-conductive threads at the inner surface are confined to the at least one electrically-conductive region. The at least one electrically-conductive region is further adapted to cooperate with the wearer's skin to conduct an electrical signal therebetween.
  • [0009]
    Another advantageous aspect of the present invention comprises a circularly knit blank for making a substantially seamless garment. The blank comprises a fabric structure including a first series of courses having an inner surface and an outer surface. The first series of courses begins at a first end of the fabric structure and extends toward an opposite second end. A first end of a second series of courses is knitted to the second end of the first series of courses and extends to an opposite second end. The second series of courses has an inner surface adapted to be disposed adjacent to a wearer's skin when the garment is worn and an opposing outer surface. One of the inner and outer surfaces of the first series of courses is configured to overlie the outer surface of the second series of courses to create a two-ply fabric structure. At least one discrete electrically-conductive region is formed at the inner surface of the second series of courses during the circular knitting thereof in such as manner as to contact the wearer's skin when the garment is worn. The at least one electrically-conductive region is comprised of electrically-conductive threads, wherein the electrically-conductive threads are knit into the second series of courses such that the electrically-conductive threads at the inner surface of the second series of courses are confined to the at least one electrically-conductive region. The at least one electrically-conductive region is further adapted to cooperate with the wearer's skin to conduct an electrical signal therebetween.
  • [0010]
    Still another advantageous aspect of the present invention comprises a method of making a substantially seamless garment. A tubular blank is knitted by circularly knitting a first series of courses to form first tubular structure having an inner surface, an outer surface and opposing ends. A second series of courses is circularly knitted to one of the ends of the first series of courses to form a second tubular structure. The second tubular structure has an inner surface and an outer surface, wherein the inner surface includes at least one discrete electrically-conductive region formed therewith during the circular knitting thereof. The at least one electrically-conductive region is adapted to contact a wearer's skin when the garment is worn and cooperates with the wearer's skin to conduct an electrical signal therebetween. The at least one electrically-conductive region is comprised of electrically-conductive threads knit into the second series of courses such that the electrically-conductive threads at the inner surface of the second series of courses are confined to the at least one electrically-conductive region. The at least one electrically-conductive region further includes at least one conductive element extending therefrom. One of the inner and outer surfaces of the first tubular structure is configured to overlie the outer surface of the second tubular structure so as to form a two-ply blank. The two-ply blank is then cut to define peripheral edges of the garment and the peripheral edges of the two-ply blank are selectively sewn together.
  • [0011]
    Thus, embodiments of the present invention provide a fabric having localized areas of conductive threads for allowing the formation of a garment providing selective contact of the conductive thread areas with particular regions of the wearer's skin. Embodiments of the present invention also provide a fabric formed by a circular knitting process so as to provide a blank from which a substantially seamless garment can be made. Wearer comfort is thus promoted while reducing the need for sewing or other fastening procedures, as well as the bulk associated with a connection of fabric ends at a seam. The circular knitting process further allows the conductive threads to be confined or otherwise restricted to a localized area, and at the inner surface of the garment, so as to reduce interference or other unwanted electrical signals received by the conductive threads. In addition, the circular knitting process for forming the fabric allows one or more conductive leads to be formed in the fabric so as to extend from the localized area and to provide a selective electrical path for transmission of an electrical signal to and from the localized area, wherein such conductive leads can be integrally formed with the localized area during the production of the fabric or garment. Therefore, embodiments of the present invention provide distinct advantages as detailed herein.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)
  • [0012]
    Having thus described the invention in general terms, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, and wherein:
  • [0013]
    [0013]FIG. 1 is a schematic perspective view of a garment according to one embodiment of the present invention being worn by a person.
  • [0014]
    [0014]FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of a single ply garment blank formed by a circular knitting process according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0015]
    [0015]FIGS. 3A and 3B are cross-sectional views of alternative embodiments of a single ply garment blank taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 1 illustrating an electrically-conductive region knit into the fabric according to the present invention.
  • [0016]
    [0016]FIG. 4 is a schematic illustration of a two ply garment blank formed by a circular knitting process according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0017]
    [0017]FIG. 5 is a schematic illustration of a two ply garment having an electrically-conductive region at the inner surface of the inner ply that includes a conductive element electrically connecting the electrically-conductive region to a pocket defined between the inner and outer plies according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0018]
    [0018]FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view of a two ply garment taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5 illustrating an electrically-conductive region knit into the fabric at the inner surface of the inner ply and electrically connected to a pocket defined between the inner and outer plies according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0019]
    [0019]FIG. 7 is a perspective cut-away view of an as-formed two ply blank according to an alternate embodiment of the present invention illustrating cut lines for a garment comprising a brassiere.
  • [0020]
    [0020]FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the brassiere of FIG. 7 illustrating the configuration of the garment.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0021]
    The present invention now will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which preferred embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.
  • [0022]
    [0022]FIG. 1 illustrates an article of clothing (otherwise referred to herein as a “garment”) incorporating aspects of embodiments of the present invention, the garment being generally indicated by the numeral 10. Such a garment 10 may comprise, for example, a sports bra, a t-shirt, a tank top, shorts, or the like, wherein a tank top is particularly illustrated in FIG. 1. The garment 10 may be formed, for example, as a single ply or double ply structure. According to one particularly advantageous aspect of the present invention, the garment 10 is formed using a circular knitting process, wherein a circular knitting process and a garment fabricated thereby are discussed, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,287,168 to Rabinowicz, which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.
  • [0023]
    A circular knitting process generally forms a tubular woven fabric structure (otherwise referred to herein as a “blank”) that is then cut and sewn into the desired garment 10 configuration. That is, the tubular fabric structure may be used as a seamless encircling portion such as, for example, the body-encircling portion 20 of the tank top 10. However, one skilled in the art will also appreciate that a circularly knit tubular fabric structure may be adapted to any situation that may benefit from a seamless encircling cover. Such a seamless cover promotes, for example, more comfortable, simpler, and reduced cost garments by reducing the amount of seams. After the tank top 10 is cut from the blank along appropriate cut lines, respective edges along the length of the blank may be sewn or otherwise secured together to form, for example, respective shoulder strap portions 30, 40. Accordingly, a garment 10 formed according to such a circular knitting process is substantially seamless. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the garment 10 may be knit, for example, from various types and deniers of face yarns, wherein the selection of the face yarns and the knit depend primarily on the desired characteristics of the fabric such as the hand, appearance, texture, or the like. Further, once the garment 10 is formed, additional features such as, for example, a pocket 50, may be defined by sewing or otherwise securing another piece of material to the garment 10.
  • [0024]
    [0024]FIG. 2 illustrates one embodiment of the present invention, wherein a single ply blank 60 is formed according to a circular knitting process. As previously discussed, where it is desired to monitor certain signals emitted by a person's body, one or more electrodes or contact patches 70 may be required to be in contact with the person's body, sometimes in specific locations. Accordingly, in one particularly advantageous embodiment of the present invention, the one or more electrically-conductive contact patches 70 are knit into the blank 60 during the circular knitting process, wherein the contact patches 70 may be selectively placed in the blank 60 to correspond to particular locations on the garment 10, if desired. Each contact patch 70 is knit to include electrically-conductive fibers suitable for use in the particular garment, such fibers comprising, for example, conductive fibers made by Philips and which are believed to include silver. As shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B, each contact patch 70 is knitted into a discrete area of the blank 60, wherein the conductive fibers forming the contact patch 70 are confined to those respective areas. That is, embodiments of the present invention generally do not have the conductive fibers present throughout the entire fabric of the blank 60. However, as will be described further herein, some conductive fibers may selectively extend outwardly from the contact patch 70 and along the blank 60 in some instances.
  • [0025]
    According to particularly advantageous aspects of the present invention, a single ply garment 10, such as the tank top, includes an inner surface 80 that contacts the wearer's skin when the garment 10 is worn and an opposing outer surface 90. The contact patch 70 may thus be knitted into the fabric so as to extend from the inner surface 80 to the outer surface 90, as particularly shown in FIG. 3A. However, in some instances, the contact patch 70 may be knitted at or about the inner surface 80 without extending through the fabric to the outer surface 90. In those instances where the contact patch 70 is knitted at the inner surface 80, one or more conductive elements 100 may be connected to each contact patch 70 so as to extend therefrom through the fabric and to the outer surface 90, as particularly shown in FIG. 3B. Such conductive elements 100 may be formed from electrically-conductive threads that are integrally knitted with the contact patch 70 during the circular knitting process. However, in some cases, the conductive elements 100 may comprise other materials or objects separately connected to the contact patches 70 following the completion of the fabric and/or garment 10. As also shown in FIG. 3B, the conductive elements 100 extend through the fabric and into the pocket 50 in some embodiments.
  • [0026]
    Another particularly advantageous aspect of the present invention is directed to the garment 10 being engageable with a suitable electrical signal processing device 110 via the contact patches 70 and, in some instances, the conductive elements 100. Such a signal processing device 110 may be configured to receive a signal from the wearer's body and/or to transmit a signal to the wearer's body. In either instance, the signal processing device 110 may also include a display 120 for displaying a representation of the signal. For example, the signal processing device 110 may comprise a heart rate monitor for receiving a signal from the wearer's body, indicative of the wearer's heart rate, wherein the signal may be processed by the heart rate monitor and displayed on an associated LCD screen. In another instance, the signal processing device 110 may comprise, for example, an electro-stimulation device for transmitting an electrical signal to the wearer's body for electrically stimulating the area of the wearer's body contacted by the conductive patches 70, wherein the intensity of the signal, the amount of signals transmitted, or the like may be indicated on an associated screen or other display 120. One skilled in that art will further appreciate, however, that the examples presented herein are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to be restrictive with respect to the many devices which may be implemented with the described garment within the spirit and scope of the present invention.
  • [0027]
    In order for the signal processing device 110 to receive/send the electrical signal, embodiments of the garment 10 further include one or more electrical connectors 130 engaged with the end of each conductive element 100 or contact patch 70 extending through the fabric, wherein the electrical connectors 130 and the signal processing device 110 are configured to be mutually engageable, for example, through one or more contacts 115 on the signal processing device 110. Further, the signal processing device 110 may be, for example, directly connected to the electrical connectors 130 or connected to the electrical connectors 130 by additional conductive leads. In some instances, the signal processing device 110 may comprise separate portions capable of wireless communication therebetween, wherein a first device portion 110 a may be directly engaged with the electrical connectors 130, while a separate second device portion 110 b having a display 120 may be disposed apart from the garment 10 (See, e.g., FIG. 3B) and configured to communicate with the first device portion 110 a via wireless communication technology. In other instances, the first device portion 110 a may be connected to the second device portion 110 b by conductive leads 135 (See, e.g., FIGS. 5 and 6). Further, in instances, for example, where the signal processing device 110 is directly connected to the electrical connectors 130, it may also be desirable for the signal processing device 110 to be secured to the garment 10. As such, embodiments of the present invention are configured such that the contact patches 70 are connected to the respective electrical connectors 130 disposed within the pocket 50 defined by the garment 10. The signal processing device 110 may then be held or otherwise secured within the pocket 50, with the contacts 115 in engagement with the electrical connectors 130, so as to make the device 110 less obtrusive to the wearer.
  • [0028]
    As shown in FIGS. 4-6, the garment 10 may also be fabricated as a two ply structure, also using a circular knitting process. More particularly, FIG. 4 illustrates a two ply blank 60 formed by a circular knitting process. The blank 60 includes a turned welt 140 formed at one end and a turned welt 150 formed at the other end to prevent the blank 60 from unraveling and to facilitate handling of the fabric in subsequent fabrication processes as described below. The circular knitting process begins with the knitting of the turned welt 140. A first series of courses 160 is then knit to the turned welt 140 so as to form a first tubular structure defining one ply of the garment 10, the first tubular structure including the features of the garment 10. The first series of courses 160 terminates at a fold region 170 that defines the lowermost edge of the garment 10. Preferably, the fold region 170 is knit to be thinner than the remainder of the fabric and, in some instances, may be knit as a turned welt. Next, a second series of courses 180 is knit to the end of the first series of courses 160 so as to form a second tubular structure as an extension of the first tubular structure, the second tubular structure defining the second ply of the garment 10 and including the features thereof, in mirror image to the first tubular structure and about the fold region 170. At the end of the second series of courses 180, the other turned welt 150 is knit before the blank 60 is removed from the circular knitting machine.
  • [0029]
    The blank 60 is then folded about the fold region 170 such that the second series of courses 180 overlies the first series of courses 160, wherein the corresponding features of the garment 10 defined by each of the first and second series of courses 160, 180 are in registration. More particularly, the first and second series of courses 160, 180 each define a common first surface 190 a inside the tubular structure and an opposing common second surface 190 b. When folded about the fold region 170, the second surface 190 b of the second series of courses 180 is disposed over the second surface 190 b of the first series of courses 160. The fold region 170 thus defines the bottom edge of the garment 10, such as the tank top, wherein the first surface 190 a of the first series of courses 160 is configured to be disposed adjacent to the wearer's skin when the garment 10 is worn. Where a seamless garment is desired, the folded blank 60 can then be cut along sew lines 200 defining the peripheral edges of the garment 10, wherein, in some instances, the cutting may be performed in a machine that simultaneously sews the cut edges of the two plies together along the sew lines 200 to create a finished edge of the garment 10. In some instances, the sewing of the two plies together may be selective and may be performed at the turned welts 140, 150 and/or the fold region 170. Still further, in other instances, decorative or elastic banding, for example, may be sewn into or along the cut edges as desired for the garment 10.
  • [0030]
    In the alternative, the blank 60 may be formed in the circular knitting process as two plies, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. That is, the blank 60 may be formed as a two ply tube by the circular knitting process such that blank 60 is removed from the knitting machine as two plies and the step of folding the blank 60, previously described, is not necessary. For example, the knitting process may begin with the knitting of the first series of courses 160 comprising the first ply in a first direction, toward one interface 66 of the two ply blank 60. At the one interface 66, the knitting process continues toward so as to form an edge 65 which may comprise, for example, a turned welt. When the desired length of the turned welt 65 is attained, the knitting direction is then reversed so as to begin the knitting of the second ply. The second ply of the turned welt 65 extends to a second interface 67, whereafter the second interface 67 of the second series of courses 180 is knitted to the first interface 66. The knitting process then continues such that the second series of courses 180 extends away from the edge 65, and adjacently to the first series of courses 160, so as to form the second ply of the blank 60. Upon completion of the knitting process, the common second surface 190 b of both the first and second series of courses 160, 180 are adjacent to each other, while the common first surface 190 a of the first and second series of courses 160, 180 form the innermost and outermost surfaces of the blank 60, respectively.
  • [0031]
    The first and second plies may also be selectively knitted together during the knitting process, where desired, so as to, for instance, stabilize the two plies and prevent movement with respect to each other. For example, the first and second plies may be knitted together at the interfaces 66, 67 such that the turned welt 65 forms a band defining an end of the garment 10, the garment 10 comprising, for example, a brassiere, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 (However, it will also be appreciated that the as-knitted two ply blank 60 may be formed according to the described process such that the two plies are not knitted together, if desired.). Such a turned welt 65 may have a different knit pattern than the first and second series of courses 160, 180 of the blank 60, for example, a rib knit in the turned welt 65 and a jersey knit in the first and second series of courses 160, 180, so as to provide a finished appearance along the end of the garment 10. The first and second series of courses 160, 180 may then be cut and selectively sewn along cut lines 200 as previously described so as to form a two-ply garment.
  • [0032]
    As more particularly shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, the contact patches 70 described in relation to a single ply garment can also be applied to either of the two ply garment formed by either method described above. More particularly, the implementation of the contact patches 70 are possible with either a two ply garment formed from a folded single ply or an as-knitted two ply garment. According to such embodiments of the present invention, the contact patches 70 may be knitted into the fabric at or about the first surface 190 a of the first series of courses 160 in the same manner as described for the single ply garment, since the first surface 190 a is configured to be disposed adjacent to the wearer's skin when the garment 10 is worn. In addition, a pocket 210 for housing a signal processing device 110 may be defined and formed between the first and second plies by, for example, cutting a slit 220 through the second series of courses 180 defining the outer second ply and then sewing the first and second plies together about the slit 220 and in the form of the pocket 210. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 8, the opening of the pocket 210 may be defined between adjacent sew lines 200 or between a sew line 200 of one ply and the series of courses of the other ply. The first and second plies may then be sewn together in the form of the pocket 210 and about the opening thereof.
  • [0033]
    One advantageous embodiment of a two ply garment 10 formed by a circular knitting and folding process according to the present invention is realized in the formation of the conductive elements 100 extending from the contact patches 70 into the pocket 210. For the first series of courses 160 defining the inner first ply, the contact patches 70 may be knitted to extend from the first surface 190 a to the outer second surface 190 b of the first ply. In other instances, a conductive element 100 may be knitted to extend from the contact patch 70 at or about the first surface 190 a to the second surface 190 b of the first ply. Respective electrical connectors 130 may also be provided to engage the contact patch 70 or the conductive element 100 on the second surface 190 b of the first ply. However, in some instances, it may be desirable or required that one or more of the electrical connectors 130 for engaging or otherwise connecting to the contacts 115 of the signal processing device 110 be located inside the pocket 210, but on the second surface 190 b of the outer second ply. In such instances, the blank 60 may be appropriately configured during the circular knitting process such that the conductive elements 100, extending to the respective electrical connectors 130 in the pocket 210 and on the second surface 190 b of the outer second ply, are knitted into the fabric and along the blank 60, through both series of courses 160, 180 and across the fold region 170, in a continuous run. Thus, once the electrical connectors 130 are operably engaged with the respective contact patches 70, the signal processing device 110 may be operably engaged with the electrical connectors 130 in the pocket 210 in the variety of manners as previously described.
  • [0034]
    Many modifications and other embodiments of the invention will come to mind to one skilled in the art to which this invention pertains having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. For example, the tubular fabric structure formed by the circular knitting process may be slit along a longitudinal line so as to open the tube into a flat configuration, which may then be appropriately fabricated into the desired garment with one or more seams. Therefore, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the specific embodiments disclosed and that modifications and other embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims. Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification442/316, 442/304, 2/456
International ClassificationA41B9/06, A61B5/024, A41D13/12, A41D1/00, D04B1/24, A61N1/04, A41D27/20, D04B1/14
Cooperative ClassificationY10T442/475, Y10T442/40, D04B1/14, D04B1/246, A61N1/04, A61N1/0484, D10B2401/18, D10B2501/061, A41D13/1281, A41D27/205, A41D13/1236, D10B2403/02431, A61B5/02438, A61B2562/164, D10B2401/16, A61B5/6805
European ClassificationA61B5/68B1D, A61N1/04E2G, A61B5/024F, D04B1/24, A41D13/12C, A41D13/12C10, A61N1/04, D04B1/14, A41D27/20D
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 16, 2003ASAssignment
Owner name: TEFRON LTD., ISRAEL
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:RABINOWICZ, SIGI;REEL/FRAME:013665/0138
Effective date: 20030108