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Publication numberUS20040216647 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/426,780
Publication dateNov 4, 2004
Filing dateApr 30, 2003
Priority dateApr 30, 2003
Publication number10426780, 426780, US 2004/0216647 A1, US 2004/216647 A1, US 20040216647 A1, US 20040216647A1, US 2004216647 A1, US 2004216647A1, US-A1-20040216647, US-A1-2004216647, US2004/0216647A1, US2004/216647A1, US20040216647 A1, US20040216647A1, US2004216647 A1, US2004216647A1
InventorsSava Cvek
Original AssigneeSava Cvek
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Table and meeting constructions and arrangements
US 20040216647 A1
Abstract
A table construction with first and second table members with proximal ends and distal ends and with a base structure and at least one support surface retained by the base structure wherein the first and second table members can be disposed in a chevron arrangement, such as by pivoting. Plural support surfaces can be retained by the base structures or a single, generally continuous support surface can be retained by each base structure. The support surfaces can be retained by support arms that can be laterally and vertically pivotable, and the support surfaces can be rotatably retained relative to the support arms. Where a single support surface is retained relative to each table member, proximal edges of the support surfaces can cooperate to define a V-shaped configuration that can be closed by a pivoting of the first table member relative to the second table member.
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Claims(43)
I claim as deserving the protection of Letters Patent:
1. A table construction comprising:
a first table member with a proximal end and a distal end wherein the first table member comprises a base structure and at least one support surface retained by the base structure;
a second table member coupled to the first table member wherein the second table member has a proximal end and a distal end and wherein the second table member comprises a base structure and at least one support surface retained by the base structure; and
a means for disposing the first table member and the second table member in a chevron arrangement.
2. The table construction of claim 1 wherein the means for disposing the first table member and the second table member in a chevron arrangement comprises a means for pivotally coupling the first table member to the second table member whereby the first and second table members can be pivoted between a closed configuration wherein the first table member is in proximity to the second table member and an open configuration wherein the first and second table members are disposed in a chevron arrangement.
3. The table construction of claim 1 wherein plural support surfaces are retained by the base structure of the first table member and wherein plural support surfaces are retained by the base structure of the second table member.
4. The table construction of claim 3 wherein at least one of the plural support surfaces is retained by a support arm that has a proximal end coupled to the respective base structure and a distal end coupled to the respective support surface.
5. The table construction of claim 4 wherein the support arm is laterally pivotable relative to the respective base structure whereby the location of the support surface retained by the support arm can be adjusted relative to the respective base structure.
6. The table construction of claim 5 wherein the support surface is rotatably coupled to the support arm whereby the orientation of the support surface relative to the support arm can be adjusted.
7. The table construction of claim 4 wherein the support arm is vertically pivotable relative to the respective base structure whereby the height of the support surface retained by the support arm can be adjusted relative to the respective base structure.
8. The table construction of claim 7 wherein the support arm is laterally pivotable relative to the respective base structure whereby the location of the support surface retained by the support arm can be adjusted relative to the respective base structure.
9. The table construction of claim 8 wherein the support surface is rotatably coupled to the support arm whereby the orientation of the support surface relative to the support arm can be adjusted.
10. The table construction of claim 7 wherein the support arm is vertically pivotable relative to the respective base structure by a parallel movement joint arrangement.
11. The table construction of claim 7 wherein the support surface is pivotable about a horizontal axis relative to the distal end of the support arm whereby the angular disposition of the support surface can be adjusted.
12. The table construction of claim 7 further comprising a means for locking the support surface at a given height.
13. The table construction of claim 3 wherein each of the plural support surfaces retained by the base structure of the first table member and each of the plural support surfaces retained by the base structure of the second table member is retained by a support arm that has a proximal end coupled to the respective base structure and a distal end coupled to the respective support surface.
14. The table construction of claim 2 wherein each of the first and second table members has a support surface with a support surface proximal edge, a support surface distal edge, a support surface facing edge, and a support surface outside edge, wherein the support surface proximal edges cooperate to define a generally V-shaped configuration when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration, and wherein the support surface proximal edges tend to pivot into proximity when the first and second table members are pivoted to an open configuration.
15. The table construction of claim 14 further comprising at least one generally wedge-shaped insert and a means for removably and replaceably disposing the wedge-shaped insert within the generally V-shaped configuration defined by the support surface proximal edges when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration.
16. The table construction of claim 14 wherein the support surface distal edges cooperate to define a generally V-shaped configuration when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration and further comprising a stand with a platform with a wedge-shaped portion whereby the stand can be disposed with the wedge-shaped portion of the platform occupying at least part of the generally V-shaped configuration defined by either the support surface proximal edges or the support surface distal edges when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration.
17. The table construction of claim 3 further comprising a means for providing lighting relative to each of the plural support surfaces.
18. The table construction of claim 17 wherein the means for providing lighting relative to each of the plural support surfaces comprises a low-level lighting arrangement associated with each of the plural support surfaces.
19. The table construction of claim 2 wherein the base structures of the first and second table members each comprise elongate frameworks with a support leg disposed at a proximal end thereof and a support leg disposed at a distal end thereof wherein the support legs at the proximal end of the elongate frameworks each extend diagonally outboard of the elongate frameworks of the first and second table members.
20. The table construction of claim 19 further comprising at least one caster rotatably coupled to each of the frameworks.
21. The table construction of claim 1 further comprising electrical wiring and connecting elements operably associated with each of the first and second table members for providing access to power and data capabilities.
22. The table construction of claim 21 further comprising a means for retaining power and data cords relative to each support surface.
23. The table construction of claim 22 wherein the means for retaining power and data cords relative to each support surface comprises a cord retaining inlet within each support surface.
24. The table construction of claim 1 further comprising a means for altering the number of support surfaces retained by the base structures of the first and second table members.
25. The table construction of claim 24 wherein the means for altering the number of support surfaces retained by the base structures of the first and second table members comprises at least one modular base structure extension and a means for coupling the modular base structure extension to one of the base structures of the first and second table members.
26. The table construction of claim 25 wherein each base structure extension retains at least one support surface.
27. The table construction of claim 26 wherein the at least one support surface retained by each base structure extension is retained by a support arm that has a proximal end coupled to the base structure extension and a distal end coupled to the support surface.
28. The table construction of claim 3 further comprising at least one elongate central platform retained by the base structure of the first or second table members wherein the elongate central platform is disposed inboard of the plural support surfaces.
29. A meeting arrangement comprising:
a table construction comprising a first table member with a proximal end and a distal end wherein the first table member comprises a base structure and at least one support surface retained by the base structure; a second table member coupled to the first table member wherein the second table member has a proximal end and a distal end and wherein the second table member comprises a base structure and at least one support surface retained by the base structure; and a means for disposing the first table member and the second table member in a chevron arrangement; and
a conferencing structure for being disposed in proximity to the table construction.
30. The meeting arrangement of claim 29 wherein the conferencing structure comprises a stand with a platform supported by a support structure.
31. The meeting arrangement of claim 30 wherein each of the first and second table members has a support surface with a support surface proximal edge, a support surface distal edge, a support surface facing edge, and a support surface outside edge, wherein the support surface proximal edges cooperate to define a generally V-shaped configuration when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration, wherein the support surface proximal edges tend to pivot into proximity when the first and second table members are pivoted to an open configuration, wherein the support surface distal edges cooperate to define a generally V-shaped configuration when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration and wherein the platform of the stand has at least a wedge-shaped portion whereby the stand can be disposed with the wedge-shaped portion of the platform occupying at least part of the generally V-shaped configuration defined by either the support surface proximal edges or the support surface distal edges when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration.
32. The meeting arrangement of claim 31 wherein the stand further comprises a means for adjusting a height of the platform and a means for adjusting a pitch of the platform.
33. The meeting arrangement of claim 29 wherein the conferencing structure comprises a modular base framework comprising first and second stanchions, upper and lower cross members each with first ends coupled modularly to the first stanchion and second ends coupled modularly to the second stanchion, an upper support surface for supporting at least one display article, and at least one lower support surface whereby stanchions, cross members, and support surfaces of varied lengths can be employed to vary a size of the conferencing structure.
34. The meeting arrangement of claim 29 wherein the conferencing structure comprises a combination display arrangement comprising a base, multiple display elements, and a means for enabling a selective display of one or more of the display elements.
35. The meeting arrangement of claim 34 wherein the means for enabling a selective display of one or more of the display elements comprises a means for enabling at least one display element to slide into and out of an overlapping relationship with at least one other display element.
36. The meeting arrangement of claim 29 wherein the conferencing structure comprises a teleconferencing arrangement with a display screen, a camera system, and a means for supporting the display screen and the camera system.
37. A table construction comprising:
a first table member with a proximal end and a distal end wherein the first table member comprises a base structure and at least one support surface retained by the base structure;
a second table member coupled to the first table member wherein the second table member has a proximal end and a distal end and wherein the second table member comprises a base structure and at least one support surface retained by the base structure; and
a means for pivotally coupling the proximal end of the first table member to the proximal end of the second table member whereby the first and second table members can be pivoted between a closed configuration wherein the first table member is in proximity to the second table member and an open configuration wherein the first and second table members are disposed in a chevron arrangement.
38. The table construction of claim 37 wherein plural support surfaces are retained by the base structure of the first table member and wherein plural support surfaces are retained by the base structure of the second table member wherein the plural support surfaces are each retained by a support arm that has a proximal end coupled to the respective base structure and a distal end coupled to the respective support surface.
39. The table construction of claim 38 wherein the support arm is laterally pivotable relative to the respective base structure whereby the location of the support surface retained by the support arm can be adjusted relative to the respective base structure.
40. The table construction of claim 38 wherein the support surface is rotatably coupled to the support arm whereby the orientation of the support surface relative to the support arm can be adjusted.
41. The table construction of claim 38 wherein the support arm is vertically pivotable relative to the respective base structure whereby the height of the support surface retained by the support arm can be adjusted relative to the respective base structure.
42. The table construction of claim 37 wherein each of the first and second table members has a support surface with a support surface proximal edge, a support surface distal edge, a support surface facing edge, and a support surface outside edge, wherein the support surface proximal edges cooperate to define a generally V-shaped configuration when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration, and wherein the support surface proximal edges tend to pivot into proximity when the first and second table members are pivoted to an open configuration.
43. The table construction of claim 42 further comprising at least one generally wedge-shaped insert and a means for removably and replaceably disposing the wedge-shaped insert within the generally V-shaped configuration defined by the support surface proximal edges when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration.
Description
    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    The present invention relates generally to table constructions. Stated more particularly, this patent discloses and protects a table and meeting constructions and arrangements that can be used to facilitate and adapt to a wide variety of meeting formats including, by way of example, presentations, videoconferences, and multimedia displays.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    Meetings are critically important in business, civic, political and numerous other applications. For example, workers commonly must convene in groups to confer, to present and receive policy statements and other information, to collaborate and coordinate regarding multi-faceted tasks, to pool skills and insights toward analyzing and confronting issues and problems, to generate creative energy and new ideas, to communicate with remotely located colleagues by use of video conferencing, and to give and receive training. Furthermore, with telecommuting, flex time, and other scheduling variations becoming increasingly common, in-person and videoconference type meetings are of ever greater value as possibly the only opportunities for colleagues to exchange ideas and information, to form bonds of friendship and respect, and to motivate and inspire one another.
  • [0003]
    For a plurality of reasons, the ideal seating arrangement in substantially any type of meeting situation will provide each participant with open and direct lines of sight and communication with other participants and with any display materials or devices. For example, conversation best flourishes during a meeting when each participant can see each other participant. Full eye contact stimulates and encourages contributions, full comprehension, and inspiration on the part of all participants. Also, it has been shown that presentations are most effective when the presenter can observe and adjust to the reactions of all audience members. Conducting and participating in videoconferencing can be distracting and confusing unless the faces of all participants appear and remain in a continuous series in the display frame. Even further, note taking and the review of meeting materials are most effectively carried out when participants can simply look up from their notepads, computer screens, or meeting materials and directly at other participants, a speaker, and/or a display screen without being forced to twist, turn, or maneuver back and forth to see.
  • [0004]
    Accomplishing these things with all meeting participants sitting around a single table as is the case in a traditional meeting framework can be achieved rather easily. However, modern meeting situations often create circumstances where traditional seating arrangements simply cannot provide users with the viewing and communicative relationships described above as being necessary to enabling all persons attending a meeting, whether in person or virtually, to participate in the meeting and gain the benefits thereof fully and effectively. In videoconferencing and many presentation situations, for example, meeting participants in a given location often find themselves sitting at a traditional table while being forced to attempt to gain a direct view of a display screen or presenter by turning or twisting away from a normal, comfortable seating position and peering around other meeting participants. In doing so, the meeting participant must forego the stable work surface that would normally be aligned with his or her seating position and directly in front of him or her. When a group of participants are so disposed, persons viewing them either in person or remotely cannot easily see the faces of all attendees but instead see a confusing and distracting grouping of overlapping, possibly unidentifiable persons.
  • [0005]
    As one knowledgeable in the art will be aware, therefore, traditional table and seating arrangements prove far less than ideal for conducting meetings, including videoconference meetings, where multiple attendees in a given location seek to direct their attention to a given person or communication device. The knowledgeable observer will also be aware that traditional table constructions, whether round, rectangular, oval, or any other shape, are rigid in their performance such that they cannot easily adapt to the varied needs of modern work and meeting environments. Accordingly, it becomes clear that there is a need for a table construction that can facilitate and adapt to the varied and different needs of modern meeting situations including videoconference and presentation type meetings.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0006]
    With the foregoing in mind, a basic object of embodiments of the present invention is to provide table and meeting constructions and arrangements that can readily adapt to and facilitate a variety of meeting formats.
  • [0007]
    A more particular object of embodiments of the invention is to provide table and meeting constructions and arrangements that can enable multiple meeting participants to have clear and direct lines of sight relative to a centrally disposed person or structure.
  • [0008]
    Another object of certain manifestations of the invention is to provide table and meeting constructions and arrangements that can convert between various configurations to adapt to and facilitate different meeting types.
  • [0009]
    A further object of particular embodiments of the invention is to provide table and meeting constructions and arrangements that enhance the comfort and productivity of meeting participants.
  • [0010]
    These and further objects and advantages of the invention will become obvious not only to one who reviews the present specification and drawings but also to one who has an opportunity to make use of an embodiment of the present invention for table and meeting constructions and arrangements. However, it will be appreciated that, although the accomplishment of each of the foregoing objects in a single embodiment of the invention may be possible and indeed preferred, not all embodiments will seek or need to accomplish each and every potential object and advantage. Nonetheless, all such embodiments should be considered within the scope of the present invention.
  • [0011]
    One basic embodiment of the present invention for a table construction is founded on first and second table members. Each table member can be considered to have a proximal end and a distal end and can be formed by a base structure and at least one support surface retained by the base structure. The table construction can further include a means for disposing the first table member and the second table member in a chevron or generally V-shaped arrangement.
  • [0012]
    While the first and second table members can be fixed in a chevron arrangement, one embodiment of the invention incorporates a means for pivotally coupling the first table member to the second table member, such as by a pivotal coupling of their proximal ends. Under such an arrangement, the first and second table members can be pivoted between a closed configuration wherein the first table member is in proximity to the second table member and an open configuration wherein the first and second table members are disposed in a chevron arrangement.
  • [0013]
    In one construction, the table construction can have plural support surfaces retained by the base structures of each of the first and second table members. The support surfaces can be retained relative to their respective base structure by a support arm that has a proximal end coupled to the base structure and a distal end coupled to the support surface. In certain embodiments, the support arms can be laterally pivotable relative to their respective base structure such that the location of the support surface retained by the support arm can be adjusted relative to the respective base structure. Furthermore, the support surfaces can be rotatably coupled to the support arms whereby the orientation of the support surfaces relative to the support arms can be adjusted. Still further, certain manifestations of the invention can have support arms that are vertically pivotable relative to the respective base structure, possibly by a parallel movement joint arrangement, whereby the height of the support surface retained by the support arm can be adjusted relative to the respective base structure. In such a case, the table construction can include a means for locking each support surface at a given height.
  • [0014]
    In another refinement, particularly where multiple support surfaces are retained by each base structure, the table construction can include at least one elongate central platform retained by the base structure of the first or second table member. The elongate central platform can be disposed inboard of the plural support surfaces such that it will provide additional support surface area and such that it will tend to bridge the distance between support surfaces.
  • [0015]
    In particular embodiments of the invention, each of the first and second table members can have a support surface with a support surface proximal edge, a support surface distal edge, a support surface facing edge, and a support surface outside edge. The support surface proximal edges can cooperate to define a generally V-shaped configuration when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration. Those support surface proximal edges can tend to pivot into proximity with one another when the first and second table members are pivoted to an open configuration. A generally wedge-shaped insert can be provided in combination with a means for removably and replaceably disposing the wedge-shaped insert within the generally V-shaped configuration defined by the support surface proximal edges when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration thereby to provide a generally continuous surface. Even further, the support surface distal edges can also cooperate to define a generally V-shaped configuration when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration.
  • [0016]
    The table construction can further include a stand that has a platform with a wedge-shaped portion that can occupy at least part of the generally V-shaped configuration defined by either the support surface proximal edges or the support surface distal edges when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration. The stand can additionally or alternatively be employed to support various articles, as a lectern, or for substantially any other purpose. Under some embodiments of the invention, a means can be included for providing lighting relative to each of the plural support surfaces. That means could take a number of forms including, for example, a low-level lighting arrangement, such as an LED or an array of LED's, associated with each of the plural support surfaces.
  • [0017]
    While the first and second table members can be crafted in numerous different ways under the present invention, one embodiment of the table construction has base structures each founded on elongate frameworks that have a support leg disposed at a proximal end thereof and a support leg disposed at a distal end thereof. The support legs can extend diagonally outboard of the elongate frameworks of the first and second table members to provide optimal seating area for meeting participants. The table construction can further include one or more casters rotatably coupled to each of the frameworks of the first and second table members for easing the movement and pivoting of the table construction.
  • [0018]
    Since the table construction can be expected to be used in meeting and conference situations where electrical power and data access will be integral, the table construction can additionally include electrical wiring and connecting elements that are operably associated with each of the first and second table members for providing meeting participants with access to power and data capabilities. Furthermore, each support surface can incorporate a means for retaining power and data cords relative to each support surface. For example, each support surface could have a cord retaining inlet formed therein through which one or more power or data cords could be passed.
  • [0019]
    In an even further aspect of the invention, the table construction can include a means for altering the number of support surfaces retained by the base structures of the first and second table members. By way of example, the means for altering the number of support surfaces retained by the base structures can comprise at least one modular base structure extension and a means for coupling the modular base structure extension to one of the base structures. Each base structure extension can retain at least one support surface, such as by a support arm.
  • [0020]
    The table construction can be employed as part of a meeting arrangement in combination with a conferencing structure that can be disposed in proximity to the table construction during a meeting or conference. The conferencing structure can take the form of a stand with a platform supported by a support structure. The first and second table members can each have a support surface with a support surface proximal edge, a support surface distal edge, a support surface facing edge, and a support surface outside edge. The support surface proximal edges and the support surface distal edges can cooperate to define generally V-shaped configurations when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration. In such a case, the platform of the stand can have at least a wedge-shaped portion such that the stand can be disposed with the wedge-shaped portion of the platform occupying at least part of the generally V-shaped configuration defined by either the support surface proximal edges or the support surface distal edges when the first and second table members are disposed in a closed configuration thereby to tend to bridge the gap exhibited by the V-shaped configuration. To enhance its versatility, the stand can further include a means for adjusting a height of the platform and a means for adjusting a pitch of the platform.
  • [0021]
    In another embodiment, the conferencing structure can comprise a modular base framework with first and second stanchions, upper and lower cross members each with first ends coupled modularly to the first stanchion and second ends coupled modularly to the second stanchion, an upper support surface for supporting at least one display article, and at least one lower support surface. Under such a construction, stanchions, cross members, and support surfaces of varied lengths can be employed to vary a size of the conferencing structure. In still another embodiment, the conferencing structure can be formed as a combination display arrangement with a base, multiple display elements, and a means for enabling a selective display of one or more of the display elements. That means can take the form of a means for enabling at least one display element to slide into and out of an overlapping relationship with at least one other display element. In some cases, the conferencing structure can comprise a teleconferencing arrangement with a display screen, a camera system, and a means for supporting the display screen and the camera system.
  • [0022]
    One will appreciate that the foregoing discussion broadly outlines certain more important goals and features of the invention to enable a better understanding of the detailed description that follows and to instill a better appreciation of the inventor's contribution to the art. Before an embodiment of the invention is explained in detail, it must be made clear that the following details of construction, descriptions of geometry, and illustrations of inventive concepts are mere examples of the many possible manifestations of the invention.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0023]
    In the accompanying drawing figures:
  • [0024]
    [0024]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a meeting arrangement with a table construction according to the present invention in an open configuration;
  • [0025]
    [0025]FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the table construction of FIG. 1 in a closed configuration;
  • [0026]
    [0026]FIG. 3 is a view in side elevation of an alternative support surface and support arm arrangement;
  • [0027]
    [0027]FIGS. 4A through 4D are top plan views of embodiments of table and meeting constructions and arrangements under the present invention with varying numbers of support surfaces;
  • [0028]
    [0028]FIG. 4E is a perspective view of an embodiment of the table construction with modular base structure extensions;
  • [0029]
    [0029]FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the table construction;
  • [0030]
    [0030]FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a further embodiment of a meeting arrangement with a table construction in an open configuration;
  • [0031]
    [0031]FIGS. 7A and 7B are perspective views of stands under the instant invention;
  • [0032]
    [0032]FIG. 8 is a perspective view of still another embodiment of the table construction;
  • [0033]
    [0033]FIGS. 9A through 9C are top plan views of embodiments of table and meeting constructions and arrangements under the present invention in varying configurations;
  • [0034]
    [0034]FIGS. 10A and 10B are top plan views of multiple table constructions cooperating to form a meeting arrangement;
  • [0035]
    [0035]FIG. 11 is a perspective view of still another embodiment of the table construction;
  • [0036]
    [0036]FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the table construction of FIG. 11 in a teleconferencing meeting arrangement;
  • [0037]
    [0037]FIGS. 13A through 13C are top plan views of embodiments of table and meeting constructions and arrangements under the present invention in varying configurations;
  • [0038]
    [0038]FIG. 14 is a perspective view of still another refinement of the table construction;
  • [0039]
    [0039]FIGS. 15A and 15B are views in side elevation of still further embodiments of the table construction;
  • [0040]
    [0040]FIGS. 16A and 16B are top plan views of multiple table constructions cooperating to form a meeting arrangement;
  • [0041]
    [0041]FIGS. 17A and 17B are perspective views of combination display arrangements according to the present invention; and
  • [0042]
    [0042]FIG. 18A is a view in front elevation of the conferencing arrangement of FIG. 1;
  • [0043]
    [0043]FIG. 18B is a view in front elevation of a variation of the conferencing arrangement of FIGS. 1 and 18A;
  • [0044]
    [0044]FIG. 18C is a perspective view of the conferencing arrangement of FIGS. 1 and 18A; and
  • [0045]
    [0045]FIG. 18D is a perspective view of a further variation of the conferencing arrangement of FIGS. 1 and 18A.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0046]
    As with many inventions, the present invention for table and meeting constructions and arrangements can assume a wide variety of embodiments. However, to assist those reviewing the present disclosure in understanding and, in appropriate circumstances, practicing the present invention, certain exemplary embodiments of the table and meeting constructions and arrangements are described below and shown in the accompanying drawing figures.
  • [0047]
    Looking first to FIG. 1, a first exemplary embodiment of a table construction according to the present invention is indicated generally at 10. There, the table construction 10 is founded on a first table member 12 that is pivotally coupled to a second table member 14 at a pivot axis 20. In this case, the first table member 12 has a base structure 16 that retains a plurality of support surfaces 22 by corresponding support arms 24. Similarly, the second table member 12 has a base structure 18 that retains a plurality of support surfaces 22 by corresponding support arms 24. Still further, a support surface 22 is retained by a support arm 24 relative to the pivot axis 20 of the table construction 10.
  • [0048]
    Under even this most basically described arrangement, the table construction 10 advantageously can be readily converted between what can be considered an open configuration wherein the first and second table members 12 and 14 are disposed in a chevron arrangement as is shown, for example, in FIG. 1 and what can be considered a closed configuration wherein the first and second table members 12 and 14 are disposed in proximity to one another as is shown, for example, in FIGS. 2 and 9B. As one can appreciate from FIG. 1 and as can be seen most clearly in FIG. 9A, when the first and second table members 12 and 14 are arranged in an open configuration, the support surfaces 22 of the first and second table members 12 and 14 are angularly and sequentially spaced relative to a centrally disposed person or structure.
  • [0049]
    In the depiction of the meeting arrangement of FIG. 1, the centrally disposed structure comprises a conferencing arrangement 100, which in this case comprises a teleconferencing arrangement 100, that has a display screen 102 that can cooperate with a camera system 104 for enabling a mutual viewing of persons and materials viewed by the camera system 104 and remotely located persons and materials viewed by a corresponding camera system (not shown). In this example, the display screen 102 and the camera system 104 are supported by a base framework 110 that has an upper support surface 106 on which the display screen 102 and the camera system are disposed and a lower support surface 108 on which further equipment and materials (not shown in FIG. 1) can be disposed. It will be appreciated, of course, that the centrally disposed person or structure could vary. For example, the teleconferencing arrangement 100 could be supplemented or replaced by one or more moderating persons, by a video screen arrangement, by a display board, or by any other structure, person, or material to which a group's attention might be directed.
  • [0050]
    As a result, meeting participants (not shown) seated relative to or otherwise associated with the support surfaces 22 will enjoy direct and unimpeded lines of sight and communication relative the centrally disposed person or structure. Where the centrally disposed person or structure comprises a teleconferencing arrangement 100 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 9C, this disposition enables each meeting participant to see the display screen 102 of the teleconferencing arrangement 100 without being forced to twist, lean, and otherwise attempt to peer around interposed meeting participants. With this, each meeting participant can readily view any material that might be displayed on the display screen 102, such as remote meeting participants, instructional information, and entertainment. Just as importantly, each meeting participant situated relative to a given spaced support surface 22 can be directly imaged by the camera 104 of the teleconferencing arrangement 100 such that the meeting participants can be seen clearly and identifiably by remotely disposed meeting participants and, additionally or alternatively, can be recorded as such by any appropriate recording medium.
  • [0051]
    [0051]FIGS. 6 and 9A depict a further use of the table construction 10 wherein it is disposed in an open or chevron arrangement. There, the table construction 10 is oriented to allow meeting participants seated or otherwise disposed relative to the support surfaces 22 to view a screen arrangement 112, such as might be used for a video presentation. In FIG. 6, one sees that the screen arrangement 112 has a blank display screen 114 supported by a framework 118 that has a base 116. Of course, in many cases, it may be possible to eliminate the screen arrangement 112 altogether by simply projecting images onto any suitable surface, such as a blank wall. A stand 120, which is again shown in FIG. 7A, is received into the open area between the first and second table members 12 and 14. The stand 120 has a platform 122 supported by a base 124 that is disposed on casters 132 for enabling a convenient movement of the stand 120. During this use of the table construction 10 and the stand 120, the platform 122 can be used for supporting a projector 126, which can be of any type.
  • [0052]
    Since video presentation situations normally demand a darkened room, each support surface 22 of the table construction 10 incorporates a low-level lighting arrangement 38, which is described in greater detail below. In FIG. 9C, where the table construction 10 is again shown in an open configuration, the stand 120 has been moved out of the meeting participants' lines of sight to enable a meeting to be conducted wherein the screen arrangement 112 does not have images projected thereon but instead is used to display images applied thereto or associated therewith by any appropriate method.
  • [0053]
    Looking more particularly to FIG. 7A, the stand 120 is shown to incorporate a means for adjusting the height of the platform 122. Of course, such an adjustment could be carried out in numerous ways that would readily occur to one skilled in the art after reading this disclosure. In this embodiment, the height adjustment means comprises a pair of vertically disposed support rods 128 that are slidably associated with a receiver arrangement 130. The receiver arrangement 130 could comprise any means for slidably engaging the support rods 128. For example, it could take the form of first and second sleeves (not shown) for matingly receiving the support rods 128. In this case, the receiver arrangement 130 comprises a panel with sleeves affixed thereto or formed therewith. Detents, friction engaging knobs, or any other means can be provided for selectively locking the platform 122 at a given height. Of course, the shape and dimensions of the platform 122 could vary widely within the scope of the invention. In the examples of FIGS. 6, 7A, and 7B, the platforms 122 have truncated wedge shapes. The pitch of the platform 122 is adjustable thereby enabling a most convenient aiming of the projector 126 and enabling the stand 120 to be used to great advantage as a lectern for presentations, speeches, and the like.
  • [0054]
    A further version of the stand 120 is depicted in FIG. 7B. The stand 120 again has a platform 122 that is supported by a base 124. The base 124 again has support rods 128 that are slidably received relative to a receiver arrangement 130. In this case, however, the receiver arrangement 130 incorporates a cabinet arrangement 134 with one or more drawers, shelves, or other support and storage components. Casters 132 again support the base 124 for enabling a ready relocation and orientation of the stand 120.
  • [0055]
    Where the first and second table members 12 and 14 are pivotable relative to one another as in the present embodiment, the table construction 10 can be readily reconfigured to a closed configuration by a simple pivoting of the first table member 12 into proximity with the second table member 14 as is illustrated in FIG. 2. There, the first and second table members 12 and 14 have been pivoted about the pivot axis 20 until their base structures 16 and 18 are in immediate proximity and are essentially parallel to one another. When the table construction 10 is so configured, the support surfaces 22 retained relative to the base structures 16 and 18 of the first and second table members 12 and 14 are disposed in a facing relationship, and the support surface 22 retained relative to the pivot axis 20 is disposed inboard of the remaining support surfaces 22. When so arranged, the table construction 10 can be used to great advantage in face-to-face meeting situations where the meeting participants need not direct most or all of their attention to a centrally disposed person or structure.
  • [0056]
    Looking more particularly to the structures of the first and second table members 12 and 14, one sees that the base structures 16 and 18 in the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2 comprise elongate, generally rectangular frameworks with free distal ends and pivotally joined proximal ends. The first and second table members 12 and 14 are each coupled in a pivotable relationship to the pivot axis 20, which in this case comprises an elongate tube or rod, and free distal ends. Each base structure 16 and 18 has a leg 28 projecting from its distal end and a base leg 28 projecting from its proximal end. In each case, the base legs 28 extend along outward diagonals from the ends of the base structures 16 and 18 thereby giving the table construction 10 optimal stability while minimizing interference with the available seating area. The base legs 28 can be supplemented in supporting the base structures 16 and 18 and the first and second table members 12 and 14 in general by casters 30 that can be disposed adjacent to the proximal and distal ends of each of the base structures 16 and 18 so that the first and second table members 12 and 14 can be pivoted between open and closed configurations most smoothly and easily and so that the table construction 10 in general can be most stable.
  • [0057]
    The table construction 10 in this exemplary embodiment integrates all wiring and connecting elements necessary for providing meeting participants with the power, data, and communication capabilities necessary to support the electronic devices nearly inherent to current meeting situations. More particularly, each base structure 16 and 18 provides a plurality of power outlets 26 and data and communication connections 27 spaced along the length thereof such that each meeting participant will have dedicated power, data, and communication capabilities. The power outlets 26 and the data and communication connections 27 can be of any appropriate type or types. For example, certain data and communication connections 27 can simply provide access to standard telephone service while others can provide access to more advanced high speed data and communication connections, such as T1 and LAN communication connections.
  • [0058]
    Each support surface 22 in this embodiment comprises a generally planar, generally rectangular, and rigid tablet. The support surfaces 22 each have what can be considered a facing edge that is disposed facing inwardly and what can be termed an outside edge that is disposed facing outwardly. The support surfaces 22 retained relative to the base structures 16 and 18 each have what can be termed a proximal edge nearest the proximal ends of the first and second table members 12 and 14 and a distal edge nearest the distal ends of the first and second table members 12 and 14. The support surface 22 retained relative to the pivot axis 20 can be considered simply to have a left edge to the side of the first table member 12 and a right edge to the side of the second table member 14.
  • [0059]
    Each support surface 22 incorporates a beverage retainer 32 adjacent to its facing edge for providing a segregated location for a user to dispose a coffee cup, a beverage can or bottle, or any other beverage container (not shown). To ensure that the beverage is at least somewhat protected from spillage and to contain any incidental spillage that might occur, each beverage retainer 32 has a base portion and an annular peripheral edge. The beverage retainer 32 could be formed integrally with the remainder of the support surface 22 or it could be separately formed and coupled thereto.
  • [0060]
    The support surfaces 22 further include a cord retaining inlet 34 that can be formed in or coupled to the respective support surface 22 through which one or more power or data cords (not shown) can be passed thereby to retain the cord or cords in a stable and unobtrusive manner. In cooperation with the integrated power outlets 26 and the data and communication connections 27, the cord retaining inlets 34 can minimize the risks of entanglement and tripping relative to power and data cords, which can be particularly problematic where a meeting room must be darkened for a presentation or the like and where multiple meeting participants have would otherwise have power and data cords strewn over a floor surface.
  • [0061]
    The support arms 24 could simply retain the support surfaces 22 in a fixed location and orientation relative to the base structures 16 and 18 and the pivot axis 20. However, in the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2, the locations of the support surfaces 22 can be adjusted by use of a laterally pivotable coupling 23 of the proximal end of each support arm relative to the respective base structure 16 or 18 or relative to the pivot axis 20 as the case may be. Furthermore, the relative orientations of the support surfaces 22 can be adjusted by a rotatable coupling 25 of the support surfaces 22 relative to the distal ends of the support arms 24. Under such an embodiment, a meeting participant can readily manipulate the relative location and orientation of the support surfaces 22 to suit, among other things, his or her personal preferences, the location of other participants, and numerous other factors.
  • [0062]
    A further arrangement for the support arms 24 and support surfaces 22 is shown in FIG. 3. There, the support arms 24 are again laterally pivotable by use of a coupling 23, and the orientation of the support surfaces 22 can again be adjusted by means of a rotatable coupling 25 between the support surfaces 22 and the support arms 24. The depicted embodiment further incorporates a means for adjusting the height of the support surfaces 22 relative to the base structures 16 and 18. That means could, by way of example, comprise a parallel movement arm arrangement 29, such as a spring balanced arm arrangement. The arm arrangement 29 could alternatively or additionally incorporate friction joints, detents, or any other suitable means for enabling the angular disposition of the support arm 24 to be adjusted and then maintained or locked at a given height. One possible means for locking the support arm 24 at a given angular disposition is shown in FIG. 3 in the form of tension adjustment knobs 31 and 33. In a still further refinement, the pitch of the support surface 22 could be adjustable by a means for pivoting the support surface 22 about a horizontal axis. In this embodiment, that means comprises a selectively adjustable friction-type knob joint 37 in combination with a retaining fork 35 that pivotally supports the support surface 22 at its lateral edges.
  • [0063]
    While the embodiment of the table construction 10 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 has a total of seven support surfaces 22 such that seven meeting participants could be comfortably accommodated, it will be appreciated that embodiments of the table construction 10 could well provide fewer or additional support surfaces 22. By way of example, FIG. 4A shows an embodiment of the table construction 10 that has just three support surfaces 22 while FIG. 4B depicts a version of the table construction 10 that provides five support surfaces. The embodiment of FIG. 4C is similar to the embodiments of FIGS. 1 and 2 in that it retains seven support surfaces 22 while the table construction of FIG. 4D incorporates nine support surfaces 22.
  • [0064]
    Of course, the number of support surfaces 22 provided by the table construction 10 could be fixed, such as during initial assembly. However, under certain embodiments of the invention, the number of support surfaces 22 and, therefore, the overall size and capacity of the table construction 10 can be changed with the addition or deletion of modular components. For example, as is shown in FIG. 4E, the table construction 10 could be founded on a structure with first and second table members 12 and 14 with base structures 16 and 18 each retaining a single support surface 22 and a third support surface 22 retained relative to the pivot axis 20. Where additional meeting participants are to be accommodated, a modular base structure extension 36 can be fixed to the distal end of the base structure 16 and a modular base structure extension 36 can be fixed to the distal end of the base structure 18. Each base structure extension 36 can retain one or more support surfaces 22 by support arms 24 thereby expanding the capacity of the table construction 10. If further capacity is necessary or desirable, additional modular base structure extensions 36 with associated support surfaces 22 can be fixed to the distal ends of the proximally disposed base structure extension or extensions 36. Of course, where the extended capacity provided by the base structure extensions 36 is no longer necessary, one or more of the base structure extensions 36 can be detached and removed.
  • [0065]
    Any effective means could be employed for coupling the base structure extensions 36 to the base structures 16 and 18. For example, standard fasteners 40 could be employed. Additionally or alternatively, the ends of the base structures 16 and 18 and the base structure extensions 36 could incorporate mutually engaging elements, such as rigid hooks and corresponding apertures. In any case, the base structure extensions 36 could incorporate their own base leg or legs 28. Alternatively, the base legs 28 could be coupled to the base structures 16 and 18 and the base structure extensions 36 to be readily removable and replaceable such that, when a base structure extension 36 is to be added or removed, the base leg 28 can be removed from the previous distal end of the table member 12 or 14 and coupled to the new distal end of the table member 12 or 14.
  • [0066]
    [0066]FIG. 4E also depicts a further possible refinement of the table construction 10 in the form of lighting arrangements 38 associated with each of the support surfaces 22. While the lighting arrangements 38 could be of any appropriate type, in one presently preferred embodiment, the lighting arrangements 38 provide low-level lighting such that the lighting arrangements 38 can be activated even during meeting situations where the room has been intentionally darkened to enable a presentation or the like. While a number of types of low-level lighting arrangements 38 could be used to good advantage under the present invention, one presently contemplated lighting arrangement 38 comprises LED low-level lighting. Advantageously, such low-level lighting can enable meeting participants to view one another and materials disposed on the supporting surface 22 and possibly elsewhere while not adversely interfering with the darkness required for certain meeting situations, such as video and similar presentations.
  • [0067]
    Looking to FIG. 5, one sees a variant of the table construction 10 that again has first and second table members 12 and 14 with base structures 16 and 18 that are coupled, possibly pivotally, at their proximal ends. For example, the first and second table members 12 and 14 could again be pivotally coupled a pivot axis 20. Each base structure 16 and 18 again retains a plurality of support surfaces 22 by corresponding support arms 24. In this embodiment, however, the base structures 16 and 18 can be considered simplified in that they are essentially founded on a basic, generally rectangular open framework 42. In each case, the framework 42 has one or more privacy screens 44 affixed along the length thereof.
  • [0068]
    Yet another embodiment of the table construction 10 is shown in FIG. 8 where it is disposed in a closed configuration with the base structures 16 and 18 of the first and second table members 12 and 14 in immediate proximity to one another such that meeting participants would be in a generally face-to-face relationship. While a support surface 22 is retained by a support arm 24 that extends from the pivot axis 20 at the proximal ends of the base structures 16 and 18, a stand 120 is disposed in the gap left at the distal ends of the base structures 16 and 18 for supporting any necessary or desirable article or articles. Low-level lighting arrangements 38 are associated with each support surface 22 for providing meeting participants with light where necessary. Finally, elongate central platforms 46 and 48 are respectively retained by the first and second base structures 16 and 18 to provide greater surface area relative to the table construction 10 and to bridge at least part of the gap between the various support surfaces 22.
  • [0069]
    The range of pivoting of the first and second table members 12 and 14 could vary within the scope of the invention. Indeed, in certain embodiments, the first and second table members 12 and 14 could be pivotable between 0 degrees where the base structures 16 and 18 are immediately adjacent and generally parallel to one another and 180 degrees or more where the base structures 16 and 18 are generally in line with one another. Alternatively, the range of pivoting could be limited to any given angle, such as 45 degrees, 90 degrees, 120 degrees, or any other angle.
  • [0070]
    Advantageously, the pivotable relationship of the first and second table members 12 and 14 allows further meeting arrangements even beyond those described previously. By way of example, in FIGS. 10A and 10B, one sees multiple table constructions 10 according to the present invention mutually associated in open or chevron configurations to provide larger meeting arrangements to accommodate additional meeting participants. In FIG. 10A, first and second table constructions 10A and 10B are associated to form a rectangular meeting arrangement of a given size while first, second, third, and fourth table constructions 10A, 10B, 10C, and 10D cooperate to form a larger rectangular meeting arrangement in FIG. 10B. In each case, the first and second table members 12 and 14 of the table constructions 10A, 10B, 10C, and 10D are pivotable to at least a 90 degree relationship. In FIG. 10A, the first and second table constructions 10A and 10B are opened to approximately 90 degrees and are associated with the distal ends of the table members 12 and 14 adjacent to one another in a generally perpendicular relationship. In FIG. 10B, the first, second, third, and fourth table constructions 10A, 10B, 10C, and 10D are again opened to approximately 90 degrees and the distal ends of the table members 12 and 14 are disposed adjacent to one another in a generally in-line relationship. Advantageously, with the diagonal disposition of the base legs 28, a wedge-shaped gap is created between adjacent table constructions 10A, 10B, 10C, and 10D. Those gaps can be employed to receive first, second, third, and fourth stands 120A, 120B, 120C, and 120D, particularly where those stands 120A, 120B, 120C, and 120D have truncated wedge-shaped platforms 122 that tend to correspond to the wedge shape of the gaps between adjacent table constructions 10A, 10B, 10C, and 10D.
  • [0071]
    The above-described table constructions with multiple independent support surfaces 22 can be advantageous, and indeed preferred, in many circumstances. However, in other circumstances, one or more generally continuous work surfaces may be advantageous. Such a table construction 10 is shown, for example, in FIG. 11. There, each of the first and second table members 12 and 14 retains a single, at least generally continuous support surface 22 relative its respective base structure 16 or 18. The base structures 16 and 18 are again pivotally joined at their proximal ends at a pivot axis 20.
  • [0072]
    Each support surface 22 in this embodiment has what can be considered a support surface facing edge that faces the opposing support surface 22, a support surface outside edge that faces outwardly from the table construction 10, a support surface proximal edge adjacent to the proximal ends of the first and second table members 12 and 14, and a support surface distal edge adjacent to the distal ends of the first and second table members 12 and 14. In this case, the support surface outside edges are contoured to provide what can be considered ergonomic bays for accommodating meeting participants while the support surface facing edges and proximal and distal edges are generally straight.
  • [0073]
    The support surface proximal and distal edges are angled relative to the base structures 16 and 18 thereby to provide a generally wedge-shaped gap between them when the table construction 10 is in a closed configuration as is shown in FIG. 11. The angles of the proximal and distal edges of the support surfaces 22 could certainly vary. In this example, the proximal and distal edges are disposed at an angle of roughly forty-five degrees relative to the longitudinal orientation of the respective base structure 16 or 18. When the first and second table members 12 and 14 are pivoted to an open configuration, such as is shown in FIG. 12, the gap between the support surface proximal ends will tend to narrow and, with sufficient pivoting, close completely such that the support surface proximal edges will meet whereby the support surfaces 22 will form an effectively continuous surface. When the proximal edges are disposed at approximately forty-five degrees, the first and second table members 12 and 14 can be pivoted through a range of 90 degrees until they are generally perpendicular to one another as is shown, for example, in FIGS. 13A and 13C.
  • [0074]
    When the table construction 10 is in a closed configuration, the wedge-shaped gaps between the proximal and distal edges of the support surfaces 22 certainly could be left open. However, as is shown by way of example in FIGS. 11 and 13B, those gaps could be spanned by correspondingly wedge-shaped inserts 50. The inserts 50 could be affixed in a removable and replaceable manner relative to the first and second table members 12 and 14 by any appropriate means. Under this arrangement, the wedge-shaped inserts 50 can enable the table construction 10 to approximate the shape and functionality of a traditional table when the first and second table members 12 and 14 are in a closed configuration. Furthermore, the wedge-shaped inserts 50 can be removed to enable a pivoting of the table construction 10 to an open configuration.
  • [0075]
    Turning to FIG. 14, one sees that the table construction 10 again can provide meeting participants with access to power and data, which in this case is carried out with the incorporation of a power/data supply 54 that has plural power connections 26 and plural data connections 27 and one or more power/data supply cords 52 extending therefrom. As such, multiple meeting participants can make use of various electronic and communication devices, such as the depicted notebook computer 136, without necessitating a nest of wires surrounding the table construction 10.
  • [0076]
    In FIGS. 15A and 15B, a table construction 10 is shown with generally continuous support surfaces 22 retained relative to the base structures 16 and 18 of each of the first and second table members 12 and 14. In each case, the wedge-shaped gap between the support surface proximal ends is spanned by a correspondingly shaped insert 50. However, the wedge-shaped gap between the support surface distal ends is occupied by a stand 120 similar to that previously described. In FIG. 15A, the stand 120 has a cabinet-type receiver arrangement 130 while the stand 120 in FIG. 15B has a panel-type receiver arrangement 130. When the stand 120 is so situated, the platform 122 can occupy the gap between the proximal surface distal ends, particularly when the platform 122 is wedge shaped. The stand 120 can be used simply to complete the surface of the table construction 10, or to provide a lectern, or for any other purpose. To be complete, one will note that the stand 120 and the insert 50 could be oppositely disposed relative to the support surface proximal and distal ends.
  • [0077]
    [0077]FIGS. 15A and 15B show another refinement in the form of one or more lighting arrangements 38. A single lighting arrangement 38 could be secured relative to either the first or the second table member 12 or 14. Alternatively, first and second lighting arrangements 38 can be fixed in place relative to each of the first and second table members 12 and 14. In any event, the lighting arrangement or arrangements 38 could be of any desired type. For example, they could comprise high-powered fluorescent or incandescent lights. Alternatively or additionally, the lighting arrangement or arrangements 38 could incorporate low-level lighting capabilities, such as by an array of LED's or other suitable arrangements.
  • [0078]
    As with the earlier described table construction 10 with multiple support surfaces 22 retained relative to each of the first and second table members 12 and 14, multiple embodiments of the present table construction 10 can be employed in combination to form further meeting arrangements. For example, in FIG. 16A, two table constructions 10A and 10B cooperate to form a rectangular meeting arrangement by having their support surface distal ends disposed in contact such that the adjacent table members 12 and 14 are perpendicular to one another. In FIG. 16B, four table constructions 10A, 10B, 10C, and 10D are combined to form a still larger meeting arrangement with adjacent table members 12 and 14 generally aligned end to end. Stands 120A, 120B, 120C, and 120D are again interposed between the distal ends of the table constructions 10A, 10B, 10C, and 10D.
  • [0079]
    [0079]FIGS. 17A and 17B depict a combination display arrangement 138 that can be used in a variety of meeting formats. As such, the combination display arrangement 138 has a framework 140 that is supported by a base 142. The framework 140 could comprise a flat panel arrangement as is shown in FIG. 17B. Alternatively, the framework 140 could comprise a cabinet arrangement with one or more drawers, shelves, or other storage and support elements for retaining electronic components, materials to be displayed, or substantially any other material. The framework 140 can retain a display screen 144, such as a flat panel type screen. The framework 140 can additionally retain a display board 146, such as a dry-erase board, a traditional chalkboard, a paperboard, or any other display board 146. In this embodiment, one or both of the display screen 144 and the display board 146 is slidably received in a slot 148 in the framework 140 such that a user can selectively exhibit the display screen 144, the display board 146, or any other display surface or structure, by a selective sliding of necessary elements relative to the slot 148.
  • [0080]
    Finally, FIGS. 18A through 18D illustrate the versatility of the conferencing arrangement of FIG. 1. As FIGS. 18A through 18D make clear, the conferencing arrangement 100 of FIG. 1 can be made to be modular such that it can adapt to a wide variety of conferencing needs. In FIG. 18A, the conferencing arrangement 100 is shown to have a base framework 110 formed by first and second stanchions 101 and 103 with upper ends modularly engaged with first and second upper coupling members 111 and 113 respectively and lower ends modularly engaged with first and second lower coupling members 115 and 117. The conferencing arrangement 100 further has upper and lower cross members 105 and 107 each with first ends respectively coupled modularly to the first upper coupling member 111 and the first lower coupling member 115 and with second ends respectively coupled modularly to the second upper coupling member 113 and the second lower coupling member 117. The upper support surface 106 is supported by the upper cross member 105 in cooperation with the first and second upper coupling members 111 and 113, and the lower support surface 108 is supported by the lower cross member 107, possibly in cooperation with the first and second lower coupling members 115 and 117.
  • [0081]
    By exploiting the modularity of the above-described conferencing arrangement 100, a wide variety of configurations can be achieved to enable significant versatility in the support provided by the conferencing arrangement 100. For example, in FIGS. 18A and 18C, the upper and lower cross members 105 and 107 and the upper and lower support surfaces 106 and 108 are formed with lengths calibrated such that the conferencing arrangement 100 is relatively narrow in width such that it would be suitable for supporting, for example, a single display screen 102. In FIG. 18B, however, the upper and lower cross members 105 and 107 and the upper and lower support surfaces 106 and 108 are appreciably longer such that the conferencing arrangement 100 is relatively wider whereby it would be suitable, for example, for retaining first and second display screens 102A and 102B. Of course, it will be appreciated that the upper and lower support surfaces 106 and 108 can be employed in either case to retain electronic equipment, media materials, books, advertising material, and substantially any other structure or combination of structures.
  • [0082]
    Additionally, by a further exploitation of the modularity of the conferencing arrangement 100, the lengths of the first and second stanchions 101 and 103 can be varied to achieve still further display and storage abilities. While the first and second stanchions 101 and 103 in FIGS. 18A, 18B, and 18C have a length chosen to provide, by way of example, just one lower support surface 108, longer stanchions 101 and 103 can be substituted as in FIG. 18D for enabling sufficient space for disposing first, second, and third lower support surfaces 108A, 108B, and 108C therebetween. Of course, fewer or more support surfaces 108 can readily be provided within the scope of the invention, particularly by use of the versatility provided by the modular nature of the components of the conferencing arrangement 100.
  • [0083]
    With a plurality of exemplary embodiments of the present invention for a table construction 10 disclosed, it will be appreciated by one skilled in the art that numerous changes and additions could be made thereto without deviating from the spirit or scope of the invention. This is particularly true when one bears in mind that the presently preferred embodiments merely exemplify the broader invention revealed herein. Accordingly, it will be clear that those with major features of the invention in mind could craft embodiments that incorporate those major features while not incorporating all of the features included in the preferred embodiments.
  • [0084]
    Therefore, the following claims shall define the scope of protection to be afforded the inventor. Those claims shall be deemed to include equivalent constructions insofar as they do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention. It must be further noted that a plurality of the following claims may express certain elements as means for performing a specific function, at times without the recital of structure or material. As the law demands, these claims shall be construed to cover not only the corresponding structure and material expressly described in this specification but also equivalents thereof.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification108/50.02
International ClassificationA47B37/02, A47B21/02, A47B3/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47B3/002, A47B37/02, A47B21/02
European ClassificationA47B3/00F, A47B21/02, A47B37/02