BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a computer workstation and, more specifically, to a computer desk providing ergonomic positioning of computer peripherals and ergonomic access to same.
2. Description of Related Art
It has been widely recognized that many people who work at a desk for lengthy periods each day suffer back and neck strain, fatigue, and other discomforts as a result of the non-ergonomic placement of computer peripherals and accessories in relation to a working person's seating position. This concern for the health of users occupying computer workstations has resulted in the establishment of minimal ergonomic standards. Protecting the eyesight, posture, arms, and fingers of workstation users was recognized as being in the best interest of the employers, as it can lead to a more productive work force with greater longevity and less down time due to disability, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, the implications of physical injury could prove to be costly in the form of lawsuits and legal settlements.
A computer's primary components, namely, a CPU housing, a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse, have retained relatively the same physical dimensions for years, without emphasizing ergonomics in their design. This has resulted in manufacturers producing ergonomic computer desk furniture to accommodate such components. Typical workstations providing features directed towards ergonomic use in relation to these components are disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,298,794 to Brown et. al. and U.S. Pat. No. 5,483,902 to Grosch. Although these prior art computer workstations provide a user with some flexibility in placement and use of the components, the prior art suffers from drawbacks, in that sacrifices are made in terms of available desktop and storage space, ease of access to computer-related peripherals (e.g., printers), accessories (e.g., CD/DVD-ROM discs), and printed matter (e.g., manuals), etc. For example, the '794 patent does not provide enough desktop and storage space to support more than a keyboard and mouse. Similarly, the '902 patent, although disclosing adjustable height settings for the keyboard and the monitor, also includes shelving that requires the user to uncomfortably stretch upwards and downwards to access the CPU housing and printer, for example. Additionally, prior art computer workstations incorporating ergonomic elements into their design have not been viewed as aesthetically pleasing office furniture.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Accordingly, what is needed and has not heretofore been developed is an ergonomic computer desk having an uncompromising, aesthetic, and intuitive configuration, thereby providing the user with ergonomic access to the computer and any related peripherals, accessories, and printed matter.
It is an object of the present invention to overcome the aforementioned drawbacks of the prior art. The present invention provides, in a preferred embodiment, a computer desk, which allows for more efficient workflow, by applying basic ergonomic and human factor principles to its design. In addition to minimizing the user's efforts required in reaching items upon or within the desk structure, the computer desk allows the user to adjust the monitor height by utilizing an intuitive and versatile ladder-like frame structure.
The objects of the present invention are achieved by providing a computer desk structure including a work surface having an opening therein. A ladder-like frame is positioned in the opening with the ladder-like frame extending from a floor below the work surface, through the opening, and further extending past the work surface. Shelves may be attached to opposing rungs of the ladder-like frame for supporting various items, such as a computer monitor or a CD/DVD-ROM library. By having the option of attaching the shelves to various rungs, the ladder-like frame allows for monitor height adjustability. Similarly, smaller shelves and/or cabinets may be attached outwardly to individual rungs of the ladder-like frame. The smaller shelves and/or cabinets may support various items, such as a pair of computer speakers. Additionally, a footrest may be attached at the base of the ladder-like frame to provide the user with proper foot posture.
It is another object of the present invention to maximize free space on the work surface while placing components within easy reach of the user. This is accomplished by making the footprint of the desk concave-shaped and by positioning shelves and cabinets throughout the desk structure in an ergonomic manner. Raised shelves above the work surface provide additional storage areas without interfering with the free space on the work surface.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide the user with optimal degrees of wrist abduction/adduction and forearm supination/pronation in the use of the computer desk.
The preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises floor-based desk additions that may be positioned at either end of the work surface. These variously configured desk additions include, but are not limited to, cabinets, drawers, and shelving. The aforementioned additions are adapted to accommodate a wide variety of computing and desk essentials, while placing such essentials within ergonomic reach of the user. For example, placement of the CPU housing on top of a designated cabinet and placement of the printer on a designated shelf reduces strain to the user's wrist, arms, and back when accessing such components and peripherals.
An alternative embodiment of the present invention includes a planar surface extending the vertical length of the ladder-like frame and being affixed thereto, wherein the planar surface is designed to aesthetically route cables and wires leading to and from the computer components and peripherals.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
These and other advantages of the present invention will be understood from the description of the preferred embodiment taken together with the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals represent like elements throughout.
In the drawings:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an ergonomic computer desk according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, with a computer peripheral desk-addition and a combo desk-addition;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a ladder-like frame with a monitor shelf, supporting a monitor thereon;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the ergonomic computer desk according to a first alternative embodiment of the present invention, without any desk additions;
FIG. 4a is a perspective view of the ergonomic computer desk according to a second alternative embodiment of the present invention, with a CPU housing desk-addition and a dual-cabinet desk-addition;
FIG. 4b is a perspective view of a first work surface and desk addition configuration;
FIG. 4c is a perspective view of a second work surface and desk addition configuration; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a first alternative embodiment of a ladder-like frame, with a backing affixed to the ladder-like frame.
For purposes of the description hereinafter, the terms “front”, “rear”, “left”, “right”, “top”, “bottom”, “vertical”, “horizontal”, and derivatives thereof shall relate to the invention as it is oriented in the drawing figures. However, it is to be understood that the invention may assume various alternative variations, except where expressly specified to the contrary. It is also to be understood that the specific apparatus illustrated in the attached drawings, and described in the following specification, is simply an exemplary embodiment of the invention. Hence, specific dimensions and other physical characteristics related to the embodiments disclosed herein are not to be considered as limiting.
An ergonomic computer desk 10 according to the present invention is illustrated in FIGS. 1-5. The ergonomic computer desk 10 includes a work surface 30 having a cut-out opening 31 therein. The opening 31 is sized to accommodate a ladder-like frame 20. Once vertically positioned within the opening 31 of the work surface 30, the ladder-like frame 20 extends from a floor below the work surface 30, through the opening 31, and further extends past the work surface 30. In the preferred embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1, the ergonomic computer desk 10 also includes a computer peripheral desk-addition 33 a and a combo desk-addition 33 b.
With reference to FIG. 1, work surface 30 has a concave-shaped footprint in relation to the area where a user is seated (e.g., a front portion of the work surface). Work surface 30 is supported by a left end panel 32 a and a right end panel 32 b, both perpendicularly affixed to the underside of work surface 30 and extending to the floor. The rear portion of work surface 30 has a cut-out opening 31 larger in area than the length and width of the ladder-like frame 20 in an upright position, to accommodate the ladder-like frame 20 therein. Work surface 30 is designed to allow desk-additions, such as a computer peripheral desk-addition 33 a and a combo desk-addition 33 b, to be positioned adjacent the peripheral desk-addition 33 a and a combo desk-addition 33 b, to be positioned adjacent the opposing end panels 32 a and 32 b, respectively. Optionally, a keyboard tray 17, to accommodate a keyboard 18 therein, may be attached to the underside of work-surface 30.
With reference to FIGS. 2 and 3 and continuing reference to FIG. 1, the ladder-like frame 20 is comprised of left and right ladder structures 22 a and 22 b, which are disposed in a parallel-spaced relation to each other, to define an open interior 37 therebetween. The left and right ladder structures 22 a and 22 b include left and right rungs 24 a and 24 b, respectively. A top shelf 21 and a cross-member 27 are laterally extended and connected at their opposite ends to the left and right ladder structures 22 a and 22 b, thereby defining the respective top and bottom boundaries of the interior 37. Rungs 24 a and 24 b of left and right ladder structures 22 a and 22 b may support a variety of rung-based additions, such as a monitor shelf 25, a right and left leaf shelf 26 a and 26 b, and a cabinet shelf 28. For example, the opposite ends of the monitor shelf 25 are mountable to any lateral pair of left and right rungs 24 a and 24 b, respectively. Therefore, the monitor shelf 25 may be set at a user-selected level or height within the interior 37 of the ladder-like frame 20, providing the user with adjustable viewing heights for the monitor 12. The right and left leaf shelf 26 a and 26 b and cabinet shelf 28 may accommodate computer peripherals and accessories such as computer speakers and CD/DVD-ROMs, as shown in a first alternative embodiment of the ergonomic computer desk 10 in FIG. 3. The user may substitute the right leaf shelf 26 b of FIG. 1 with the cabinet shelf 28 from FIG. 3, for example, to realize various configurations of these rung-based additions. Furthermore, the user may add a plurality of leaf shelves on the left and right rungs 24 a and 24 b, as shown in a second alternative embodiment of the ergonomic computer desk 10 in FIG. 4a. Additionally, top shelf 21 may also be utilized for miscellaneous storage space to further maximize available free space on work-surface 30. A footrest 23 may be positioned at the base of the ladder-like frame 20 at an angle conducive to ergonomic placement of the user's feet.
With continuing reference to FIG. 1, the desk-additions may be positioned adjacent to the corresponding end panels of work-surface 30. For example, the computer peripheral desk-addition 33 a is positioned adjacent to the left end panel 32 a, whereas the combo desk-addition 33 b is positioned adjacent to the right end panel 32 b. A printer shelf 34 a, of the computer peripheral desk-addition 33 a, may be attached to the work-surface 30 to provide an increase in stability and/or weight support. By positioning the computer peripheral desk-addition 33 a and the combo desk-addition 33 b flush with the left and right sides of the work-surface 30, the concave-shaped footprint of the ergonomic computer desk 10 in relation to the desk-additions is also increased. This provides the user with greater ergonomic access to computer components, peripherals, accessories, printed matter, supported or stored by the desk-additions. The computer peripheral desk-addition 33 a is comprised of the printer shelf 34 a supported by a plurality of first uprights 35 a vertically connected to a first file cabinet 36 a. This design allows for the ergonomic placement and access to a CPU housing 14 on top of the first file cabinet 36 a and a printer 16 on top of the printer shelf 34 a. The combo desk-addition 33 b is comprised of a CD/DVD-ROM shelf 34 b supported by a plurality of second uprights 35 b vertically connected to a second file cabinet 36 b. The CD/DVD-ROM shelf 34 b includes a CD/DVD-ROM rack 38 for storing the user's CD/DVD-ROM library. Room between the CD/DVD-ROM shelf 34 b and the second file cabinet 36 b may be used for miscellaneous storage space to further maximize available free space on work-surface 30.
With reference to FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, and continuing reference to FIG. 1, the ergonomic computer desk 10 may embody various configurations to fit the particular needs of the user. For example, FIG. 3 illustrates the ergonomic computer desk according to a first alternative embodiment of the present invention, wherein work-surface 30 lacks the keyboard tray 17 and does not include any attached desk additions, such as first file cabinet 36 a and second file cabinet 36 b. This results in the keyboard 18 being located atop the work-surface 30 and the CPU housing being situated on the floor, adjacent to the work-surface 30. Alternatively, FIG. 4a illustrates the ergonomic computer desk according to a second alternative embodiment of the present invention, wherein a CPU housing desk-addition 33 c is substituted for the left end panel 32 a and a dual-cabinet desk-addition 33 d is positioned at the opposite end of the work-surface 30. FIGS. 4b and 4 c illustrate various designs of work-surface 30 in combination with various designs of desk additions.
Similarly, the ladder-like frame 20 may also assume various configurations resulting from modifications made to its structural components. For example, FIG. 5 illustrates a first alternative embodiment of a ladder-like frame 40 comprised of a curved left ladder structure 42 a and a curved right ladder structure 42 b affixed to a planar backing 45. The planar backing extends the vertical length of the rear of the ladder-like frame 40, connected by the top of the curved left ladder structure 42 a, the top of the curved right ladder structure 42 b, the left and right rungs 24 a and 24 b, and a left and right board rung 44 a and 44 b. In this embodiment, the monitor shelf 25 may also be mounted on the left and right board rungs 44 a and 44 b. The planar backing 45 preferably includes one or more holes 43, thereby allowing cables and wires leading to and from the monitor 12, CPU housing 14, printer 16, keyboard 18, and other peripherals to be aesthetically routed therethrough. The footrest 23 may be positioned at the base of the first alternative embodiment of a ladder-like frame 40.
The present invention has been described with reference to the preferred embodiments. Obvious modifications, combinations, and alterations will occur to others upon reading the preceding detailed description. It is intended that the invention be construed as including all such modifications, combinations, and alterations insofar as they come within the scope of the appended claims or the equivalents thereof.