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Publication numberUS20050039260 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/646,325
Publication dateFeb 24, 2005
Filing dateAug 22, 2003
Priority dateAug 22, 2003
Publication number10646325, 646325, US 2005/0039260 A1, US 2005/039260 A1, US 20050039260 A1, US 20050039260A1, US 2005039260 A1, US 2005039260A1, US-A1-20050039260, US-A1-2005039260, US2005/0039260A1, US2005/039260A1, US20050039260 A1, US20050039260A1, US2005039260 A1, US2005039260A1
InventorsTimothy Tyler
Original AssigneeTyler Timothy G.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Combined tote-bag, seat cushion, blanket
US 20050039260 A1
Abstract
A multi-purpose device capable of assuming a plurality of configurations, including a first configuration suitable for use as a tote-bag or single-person seat-cushion, a second configuration suitable for use as a two-person seat cushion, and a third configuration suitable for use as a blanket or cape. The device includes a soft body, a first strap and optional second strap on the soft body, and a first fastener assembly and an optional second fastener assembly on the soft body, such as a zipper(s), for retaining the device in the first configuration.
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Claims(32)
1. A multi-purpose device capable of being converted into a plurality of configurations including a first configuration, a second configuration, and a third configuration, the device comprising:
a first sidewall having a length and a width;
a substantially opposed second sidewall having a length and a width;
a bottom surface joining the first sidewall to the second sidewall along the widths of the sidewalls;
a handle attached to the first sidewall; and
a first fastener assembly located along the lengths of the first and second sidewalls;
wherein in the first configuration, the first fastener assembly joins the first sidewall to the second sidewall thereby forming an interior compartment of a tote bag;
wherein in the second configuration, the first fastener assembly is unfastened and the first sidewall is rotated away from the second sidewall to form a first substantially flat surface having an area greater than an area of either the first sidewall or the second sidewall; and
wherein in the third configuration, at least one of the first sidewall and the second sidewall are extended, thereby forming a second surface having an area greater than the area of the first substantially flat surface.
2. The device of claim 1, wherein the first sidewall comprises a plurality of layers of a soft body, and the second sidewall comprises a plurality of layers of the soft body.
3. The device of claim 1, further comprising a pocket located on the first sidewall.
4. The device of claim 1, wherein the bottom surface is integrally formed with the first and second sidewalls.
5. The device of claim 1, wherein the handle includes a first end and a second end, and the handle is attached to the first sidewall at the first end and at the second end.
6. The device of claim 1, further comprising a second handle attached to the second sidewall.
7. The device of claim 1, wherein the first fastener assembly has a first end and a second end, and further comprising a second fastener assembly having a first end and a second end, and being parallel to the first fastener assembly, and
wherein the handle is attached to the first sidewall at an area located between the first end of the first fastener assembly and the first end of the second fastener assembly.
8. The device of claim 1, wherein the first fastener assembly comprises a zipper.
9. The device of claim 1, wherein the first fastener assembly comprises a fastener selected from the group consisting of hook and loop fasteners, button and hole fasteners, tie and hole fasteners, and snap fasteners.
10. The device of claim 1, wherein the first fastener assembly is located on an edge of the first sidewall, and further comprising a second fastener assembly located on an opposite edge of the first sidewall.
11. The device of claim 1, wherein the first fastener assembly is also located along the width of the first sidewall at an opening of the interior compartment.
12. The device of claim 1, wherein the first sidewall and the second sidewall comprise a padded material.
13. The device of claim 1, wherein the first sidewall and the second sidewall comprise a thermal insulating material.
14. The device of claim 1, wherein in the first configuration, the first sidewall and the second sidewall each have seven layers.
15. The device of claim 14, wherein in the second configuration, the first substantially flat surface has forms a seating area sized to support two people sitting on the first substantially flat surface.
16. The device of claim 14, wherein the second surface of the third configuration comprises a single layer.
17. The device of claim 1, wherein the device is further adapted to be converted into a fourth configuration, the fourth configuration being a cape.
18. The device of claim 17, comprising two handles located on the second surface in the third configuration and spaced apart to accommodate arms of a person.
19. A multipurpose device capable of being converted into a plurality of configurations including a first configuration, a second configuration, and a third configuration, the device comprising:
a soft body having a first surface, a second surface generally opposing the first surface, a first end edge, and a second end edge spaced apart from the first end edge, a first side edge and a second side edge, the first and second side edges extending from the first end edge toward the second end edge of the soft body, and an area greater than an area of a sidewall of the device in the first configuration;
a fastener assembly located on the first surface, the fastener assembly having a first end, a second end spaced apart from the first end, and a central region located between the first end and second end of the fastener assembly, the central region located substantially along a midline of the soft body; and
a handle attached to the soft body at a location in proximity to the first end of the fastener assembly,
wherein in the first configuration, the fastener assembly is located on opposing edges of a sidewall and joins a first sidewall to a second sidewall thereby forming an interior compartment of a tote bag,
wherein in the second configuration, the fastener assembly is unfastened and is located on an outer edge of the soft body; and
wherein in the third configuration, the fastener assembly is spaced away from the edges of the soft body.
20. The device of claim 19, wherein the soft body, in a completely unfolded configuration, is rectangular.
21. The device of claim 19, wherein the first end of the fastener assembly is spaced away from the first end edge of the soft body, and the second end of the fastener assembly is spaced away from the second end edge of the soft body.
22. The device of claim 19, wherein the soft body has a width, and the fastener assembly is located a distance from the first side edge of the soft body approximately equal to one-quarter of the width of the soft body.
23. The device of claim 19, wherein the soft body has a width, and the fastener assembly is located a distance from the first side edge of the soft body approximately equal to one-half of the width of the soft body.
24. The device of claim 19, wherein the fastener assembly comprises a zipper.
25. The device of claim 19, wherein the fastener assembly comprises a fastener selected from the group consisting of hook and loop fasteners, button and hole fasteners, tie and hole fasteners, and snap fasteners.
26. The device of claim 19, comprising a first fastener assembly and a second fastener assembly located on the first surface so that the first fastener assembly and the second fastener assembly are parallel to each other.
27. The device of claim 26, wherein the first fastener assembly and the second fastener assembly are parallel to the first side edge and second side edge of the soft body.
28. The device of claim 26, wherein the handle is attached to the first surface of the soft body between the first end of the first fastener assembly and the first end of the second fastener assembly.
29. The device of claim 19, comprising a first handle and a second handle, wherein the first handle is attached in proximity to the first end of the fastener assembly, and the second handle is attached to the soft body in proximity to the second end of the fastener assembly.
30. The device of claim 19, wherein the soft body is substantially flat.
31. A method for transforming a multi-purpose device into a plurality of configurations including a tote-bag, a seat cushion, and a blanket, the method comprising the steps:
providing a multi-purpose device capable of being converted into a plurality of configurations including a first configuration, a second configuration, and a third configuration, the device comprising: a soft body; a first handle on the soft body; and a first fastener assembly, wherein in the first configuration the soft body is arranged to have a bottom and sidewalls which together define outer walls and an interior compartment, the interior compartment having inner surfaces and an open top, wherein the first fastener assembly is positioned on the soft body such that when retaining the device in the first configuration, approximately equal portions of the soft body are on opposite sides of the interior compartment, wherein the first handle is attached to a sidewall of the soft body when the device is in the first configuration, wherein the second configuration is formed by unfastening the first fastener assembly and expanding the soft body whereby the interior compartment is eliminated; wherein in the third configuration the soft body is fully expanded to form a substantially flat surface,
forming the first configuration suitable for use as a tote-bag;
forming the second configuration suitable for use as a seat cushion; and
forming the third configuration suitable for use as a blanket.
32. The method of claim 31, further comprising placing the device on a person for use as a cape.
Description

The present invention relates to a multi-purpose device capable of assuming a plurality of configurations such that the device can be used as a tote-bag, a seat cushion, a blanket, and/or a cape.

INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE

The contents of each U.S. patent or other reference, if any, cited in this application, are hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

In today's fast paced and sometimes hectic business and recreational environments individuals continue to look for devices that simplify their lives. Typically, a multi-purpose device satisfies the need for simplicity and efficiency by performing multiple tasks with a single instrument, for example, tasks that would typically take more than one device to perform. By way of example, the well known Swiss Army knife may contain various cutting tools, utensils, and a tooth pick. In addition, high-technology has combined a camera with a wristwatch in a convenient package, and has combined calendars, phone books, and to-do lists in a single hand-held computer, such as personal digital assistants.

Each aforementioned multi-purpose device is capable of performing more than one task. Some multi-purpose devices, such as the Swiss Army knife, function to assist, for example, a camper, hiker, or world traveler, thus eliminating the need for additional equipment that can be bulky, cumbersome to handle, and inefficient. Similarly, individuals attending sporting events, planning a picnic or beach outing, or similar activity which may require a person to carry multiple items, such as food products, blankets, and sitting devices, among other things, would benefit from a device capable of serving multiple functions.

Accordingly, there is a need for a multi-purpose device capable of being converted into a plurality of configurations such that the device can be used in activities which may require a person to carry multiple items, sitting surfaces, and/or blankets, among other things.

SUMMARY

A multi-purpose device, which is provided to attempt to reduce the need of people to carry a more than one object is described. The multi-purpose device is capable of assuming a plurality of configurations including a first configuration, a second configuration, and a third configuration. Each configuration of the device may be used for a different purpose or purposes. For example, the device is capable of being configured as a tote-bag, a seat cushion, and a blanket. The device preferably includes a soft body, a first handle and an optional second handle coupled to the soft body, and a first fastener assembly and optionally a second fastener assembly, such as a zipper(s), for retaining the device in the first configuration.

In the first configuration the soft body is arranged to have first and second sidewalls and a bottom surface (the bottom surface may be formed simply by the connection of the first and second sidewalls at the bottom of the multi-purpose device) which together define an interior compartment. The interior compartment has inner surfaces and an open top. The first fastener assembly is positioned along a length of the first and second sidewalls such that when retaining the device in the first configuration, approximately equal portions of the soft body are on opposite sides of the interior compartment. The first handle is attached to a sidewall of the soft body when the device is in the first configuration. A second configuration is formed by releasing the first fastener assembly and expanding the soft body whereby the interior compartment is eliminated. By expanding the soft body, a sitting surface, such as a seat cushion, is formed. By expanding the soft body in the second configuration, a third configuration is obtained to form a substantially flat surface, which may be a blanket. In certain embodiments of the device, first and second handles are provided on a surface of the device in the third configuration, and are located in positions to accommodate a person's arms whereby the device can be used as a cape or other covering for the person.

The present invention may be used by providing the multi-purpose device, forming the first configuration suitable for use as a tote-bag, forming the second configuration suitable for use as a seat cushion, and forming the third configuration suitable for use as a blanket. A method may also include using the device as a cape, which may be achieved by configuring the soft body in the third configuration.

The present invention thus provides a device capable of being converted into a plurality of configurations such that the device can be used as a tote-bag, a seat cushion, a blanket and/or a cape.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a multi-purpose device in accordance with the present invention, showing a first configuration.

FIG. 1A is a perspective view of the first configuration of FIG. 1 being carried by a person.

FIG. 1B is a perspective view of the first configuration of FIG. 1, configured for use a seat cushion.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the multi-purpose device of FIG. 1, showing a second configuration suitable for use as a seat cushion.

FIG. 3A is a perspective view of the multi-purpose device of FIG. 1 showing a third configuration.

FIG. 3B is a perspective view of the third configuration of the device of FIG. 3A in use as a blanket.

FIGS. 4A-4G illustrate a converting sequence of the device of FIG. 1 from a first configuration to a second configuration to a third configuration.

FIG. 5 is a flow chart illustrating a method of using a multi-purpose device in accordance with the present invention.

FIGS. 6A-6E illustrate another converting sequence of the device of FIG. 1 from a first configuration to a second configuration to a third configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

An embodiment of the multi-purpose device 5 of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 3. Generally, the present invention is capable of assuming a plurality of configurations including a first configuration, a second configuration, and a third configuration such that the device can be used as a tote-bag, a seat cushion or cushions, and/or a blanket. As discussed herein, the device 5 can also assume a fourth configuration such that the device can be used as a cape. Accordingly, the device 5 enables a person to carry multiple items, including seat cushions and a blanket, in a single device.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, the multi-purpose device 5 includes a soft body 10, a first handle 15 on the soft body 10, and a first fastener assembly 20 for retaining the device 5 in a first configuration. In the first configuration, the soft body 10 is arranged to have a bottom 30 and sidewalls 35A and 35B which together define outer walls and an interior compartment 55. The interior compartment has inner surfaces and an open top. In other words, the device 5 includes a first sidewall, such as sidewall 35 a, and a second sidewall, such as sidewall 35 b, which are generally opposed to each other. Each sidewall 35 a and 35 b has a length 351 and a width 35 w. The bottom surface 30 joins the first sidewall 35 a and the second sidewall 35 b along the width 35 w. The device 5 includes a handle 15 coupled to one of the sidewalls. As illustrated in FIG. 1, handle 15 is coupled to sidewall 35 b. The fastener assembly 20 is located along the length 351 of the first sidewall 35 a and the second sidewall 35 b. When the fastener assembly 20 is in a “closed” configuration, as illustrated, the fastener assembly 20 joins the first sidewall 35 a to the second sidewall 35 b thereby forming the interior compartment 55 of the tote-bag. Or, stated differently, first sidewall 35 a and second sidewall 35 b surround the interior compartment 55 when the fastener assembly 20 is closed.

In reference to the disclosure herein, the term “first configuration” refers to a configuration of the device where the device is used as a tote-bag, which may be used to store and/or carry items, such as, cosmetics, food, electronics, clothes, office supplies, reading materials, personal items, and other portable goods. An example of the first configuration of the device 5 is shown in FIG. 1A.

As used herein, the term “second configuration” refers to a configuration where the device is modified or adjusted from the first configuration to form a surface, such as a sitting surface or a seat cushion. The surface in the second configuration is preferably substantially flat, e.g., it provides a relatively flat surface suitable for sitting. However, persons of ordinary skill in the art will understand that, by its very nature, a substantially flat surface such as a blanket will typically have bumps, ripples, tucks, or various other variances that place the blanket in a somewhat less than perfectly flat arrangement. An example of the second configuration is illustrated in FIG. 2. As illustrated in the figures, the second configuration may be obtained by unfolding the tote-bag.

In addition, the term “third configuration” refers to a configuration of the device 5 where it is used as a blanket or sheet, which may also be a sitting surface. As illustrated in the figures, the third configuration may be obtained by unfolding or otherwise expanding the device from its second configuration. Typically, and in the illustrated embodiment, the third configuration is the configuration in which the device is completely unfolded or extended. An example of the third configuration is illustrated in FIG. 3A and FIG. 3B. However, in other embodiments, the third configuration can include one or more folded portions so that the tote-bag is not completely unfolded.

The “fourth configuration”, as used herein, refers to an optional configuration of the device in which it is configured to be used as a cape, which may be worn by a person. The fourth configuration is similar to the third configuration illustrated in FIG. 3A, but the handles 15 and 40 are positioned to accommodate a person's arms so that the device can be wrapped around the person and/or cover at least a portion of the person, such as the person's back.

Referring back to the figures, the device 5 is configured such that when the first sidewall 35 a is separated from the second sidewall 35 b to form the second configuration, the first and second sidewalls define a first substantially flat sitting surface 60, as shown in FIG. 2. The first substantially flat sitting surface 60 has an area that is greater than the area of the first sidewall 35 a or the second sidewall 35 b. In the illustrated embodiment, the area of the first substantially flat sitting surface 60 has an area that is approximately double the area of either the first sidewall 35 a or the second sidewall 35 b. However, in additional embodiments, the area of the first substantially flat sitting surface 60 may be smaller or larger, but is still greater than the area of either sidewall. As shown in FIG. 2, the substantially flat sitting surface 60 has an area that is dimensioned to support two people sitting on the substantially flat sitting surface 60. As one example, the substantially flat sitting surface 60 has a length of approximately twenty-seven inches, and a width of approximately twelve inches. However, the substantially flat sitting surface 60 may have other dimensions as well.

When the device 5 is configured in a third configuration, such as shown in FIG. 3A, the first sidewall 35 a and the second sidewall 35 b of the second configuration are extended, such as by unfolding layers of the sidewalls, to form a second sitting surface 65. The second sitting surface 65 has an area that is greater than the area of the first substantially flat sitting surface 60 illustrated in FIG. 2. In addition, because the third configuration includes configurations where the tote-bag 5 has been completely unfolded, certain embodiments of the tote-bag will have a second sitting surface 65, which comprises a single layer of material having a first surface and an opposing second surface, as discussed herein. In one specific embodiment, the length of the second sitting surface 65 is approximately sixty-five inches, and the width is approximately forty-eight inches. It is understood that the surface 65 may have other dimensions.

Referring back to FIGS. 1 and 1A, the first sidewall 35 a and the second sidewall 35 b of the device 5 may include a plurality of layers, such as layers 39 a, 39 b, 39 c, and 39 d resulting from the folded configuration of the device 5. In addition, each layer 39 a, 39 b, 39 c, and 39 d may include one or more additional layers (not shown). In one embodiment, and as illustrated, the combined layers 39 a and 39 b define sidewall 35 a, and comprise a total of seven layers. As will be apparent from the disclosure herein, the number of layers for a sidewall will be dependent on the particular folding pattern used to form the device 5 in the first configuration, among other things. As will be appreciated from the disclosure herein, using a plurality of layers to form sidewalls 35 a and 35 b provides cushioning to the device 5 when it assumes its second configuration. The plurality of layers also provide cushioning when the device 5 is used in its first configuration as a seat cushion, as shown in FIG. 1B.

The sidewalls 35 a and 35 b are folded, as shown in FIG. 1, to form the first configuration of the device 5 having a bottom surface 30 that is integrally formed with the first and second sidewalls. In other words, in the illustrated embodiment, bottom surface 30 includes the folded material of the first and second sidewalls 35A and 35B, respectively after they are folded towards each other. In other embodiments, a separate piece of material may be located adjacent the bottom edges of the first and second sidewalls to form a bottom surface, similar to bottom surface 30, but that is not integrally formed with the sidewalls. For example, a piece of material may be sewn or otherwise attached to sidewalls 35 a and 35 b to form the bottom surface 30.

Optionally, the first sidewall 35 a and the second sidewall 35 b are constructed of padded material, which may be helpful in providing enhanced comfort to people who use the device 5 as a sitting surface, as discussed herein. In addition, and/or alternatively, the first sidewall and the second sidewall may be constructed of a thermal insulating material, which may be effective to maintain the temperature of certain goods contained in the interior compartment 55. For example, if cold products or other perishables, such as refrigerated goods or frozen items, are being carried in the tote-bag, the thermal insulating material is effective to keep the cold products cold. Similarly, if hot products are being carried in the tote-bag, the thermal insulating material is effective keep the hot products hot. The thermal insulating material may or may not be padded.

Accordingly, the soft body 10 may be constructed with materials such as canvas (nylon or other textile) or other durable material alone or in combination with a flannel, cotton, or other soft material. As described herein, the use of different material types may enhance use of the multi-purpose device 5 as a tote-bag, seat cushion, and blanket. In one embodiment, the soft body 10 may be constructed with a thermal insulting material positioned and contained between an outer layer of material such as canvas and/or cotton. Thermal insulting material may be of a similar type that is used commonly in known soft cooler/lunch bags. In addition, thermal insulating materials may include pockets of gas, such as air, or pockets of liquids, such as water, which may provide the desired thermal benefits described herein.

The illustrated device 5 also includes a handle 15 attached to sidewall 35 b. In the illustrated embodiment, handle 15 includes a first end 15 a and a second end 15 b. The handle 15 is attached to the sidewall 35 b at the first end 15 a and at the second end 15 b, as shown in FIG. 1. In certain embodiments, such as the embodiment shown in the figures, the device 5 includes a first handle 15, and a second handle 40. The first handle 15 is illustrated as being attached to sidewall 35 b, and the second handle 40 is illustrated as being attached to sidewall 35 a. Typically, the handles 15 and 40 are constructed of nylon, leather, canvas, or other suitable material. Handles 15 and 40 are preferably constructed of flexible materials, but in certain embodiments, the handles may be constructed of rigid materials, such as plastics and the like. Attachment of the handles to the soft body 10 may be accomplished through various methods including stitching, VELCRO, rivets, buttons or similar suitable techniques.

Typically, when in the first configuration, the first handle 15 and the second handle 40 are attached to either the interior or exterior surfaces of opposite sidewalls 35 a and 35 b of the soft body 10. Alternatively, the first handle 15 and second handle 40 may be attached such that opposite ends of each handle 15 and 40 are attached to opposite supporting sidewalls 35 a and 35 b of the soft body 10. In this manner, the handles 15 and 40 would extend across the open top of the interior compartment. In such embodiments, the handles may include a releasing mechanism associated with the first end or second end of the handles, which facilitate unfolding of the device.

On the other hand, when in the first configuration, a single handle may be used. For example, the first handle 15 may be positioned on the soft body 10 where it is attached to opposite supporting sides 35A and 35B.

The device 5 may optionally include a pocket, such as pocket 45, located on one or both of the sideways. The pocket 45 is effective to permit additional items to be carried with the device in its first configuration without providing noticeable irregularities when the device is positioned in the second or third configurations. Typically, the pocket 45 is constructed of the same type material that is used to construct the exterior surface of the sidewalls 35A and 35B. Attachment of the pocket 45 to the soft body 10 may be accomplished through various methods including stitching, VELCRO, rivets, buttons or similar suitable techniques.

The device 5 illustrated in FIG. 1 includes a fastener assembly 20 located along the length of the first sidewall 35 a and the second sidewall 35 b. In the illustrated embodiment of the device 5, a first fastener assembly 20 and a second fastener assembly 50 are provided on opposite edges of the first sidewall 35 a and the second sidewall 35 b. The fastener assemblies 20 and 50 are spaced apart from each other in a parallel configuration, and each has a first end 20 a, 50 a and a second end 20 b, 50 b. The first ends 20 a and 50 a are located on opposite sides of handle 40, and the second ends 20 b and 50 b are located on opposite sides of handle 15.

In the illustrated embodiment, fastener assemblies 20 and 50 are zippers extending along the length of the sidewalls of the device 5. The zippers may include teeth, as illustrated, or may be smooth, such as zippers for resealable plastic bags that are commonly available, such as with ZIPLOC bags. In additional embodiments not illustrated, the fastener assemblies may include one or more fastener elements. Examples of fastener elements include, but are not limited to, hook and loop fasteners, such as VELCRO, button and hole fasteners, tie and hole fasteners, tie fasteners, and snap fasteners.

In still additional embodiments, a fastener assembly may be provided along the width 35 w of the sidewalls 35 a and 35 b, for example at the opening of the interior compartment 55, thereby providing a closure to the interior compartment 55. Although fastener assemblies 20 and 50 are both illustrated as being the same type of assembly, additional embodiments of the device may have fastener assemblies that are different, for example, one fastener assembly may be a zipper, and one may be a series of VELCRO strips. Other combinations are also included within present invention. When the fastener assemblies include one or more fastener elements, the location of each of the elements is determined such that the arrangement of fastener elements forms a fastener assembly similarly configured to the fastener assemblies 20 and 50 of the illustrated embodiments.

As shown in FIG. 1A, the device 5 may be carried by the handles 15 and 40. The inner compartment 55 is dimensioned to accommodate a plurality of different of products, as discussed above.

When the interior compartment 55 is empty, the device in its first configuration may be used as a seat cushion, as shown in FIG. 1B. The handle(s) 15 and/or 40 may be tucked into the interior compartment 55 when the multi-purpose device 5 is used in this manner. Additional benefits may be realized if the first configuration is partially constructed of insulating material, foam, or other padding type material which would provide the user with an additional level of comfort while sitting on the multi-purpose device 5. Typically, the size of the seat cushion, and hence the size of the device 5 in the first configuration is sufficient to accommodate a single person who sits on the seat cushion.

When the tote-bag is expanded, such as by unfolding the sidewalls 35 a and 35 b, as discussed herein, the second configuration of the device 5 is obtained, as shown in FIG. 2. As indicated herein, typically, the size of the device 5 in the second configuration when the device 5 is used as a seat cushion is sufficient to accommodate a plurality of people sitting thereon.

When the device 5 is expanded from the second configuration, the third configuration is obtained, as shown in FIG. 3A. The third configuration has a size to accommodate a plurality of people, who may either sit on the device 5 or lay on the device, as shown in FIG. 3B. In the third configuration, the surface with the fastener assemblies 20 and 50, and the handles 15 and 40, such as the first surface 70, will typically be placed toward the ground when sat upon or away from the person's body when used as a blanket such that the second surface 75 is in contact with a person's body.

In the third configuration, a person may lift the device 5 and place his/her arms through one or both of the handles 15 and 40 to hold the soft body 5 more securely to the person's body. In this capacity, the soft body 10 has assumed a fourth configuration where the device may be used or worn as a cape or outer garment for protection from environmental conditions such as rain, wind, or cold.

One example of an expanding or converting sequence of the device 5 from the various configurations is illustrated in FIGS. 4A-4G. FIG. 4A represents the soft body 10 in the first configuration, FIG. 4B represents the soft body 10 in the second configuration, and FIG. 4G represents the soft body 10 in the third configuration. As shown in the continued sequence of FIGS. 4A through 4G, conversion of the soft body from one configuration to another configuration is typically accomplished by extending or unfolding the soft body 10. As described herein, converting from the first configuration to the second configuration typically requires releasing the first fastener assembly 20 and/or second fastener assembly 50, if used, and expanding the soft body whereby the interior compartment is vitiated.

Another expanding sequence is shown in FIG. 6. FIG. 6A illustrates the device 5 in its first configuration. The sidewalls 35 a and 35 b of the tote-bag are opened, as indicated by the arrows in FIG. 6A to provide the second configuration illustrated in FIG. 6B. From the second configuration of FIG. 6B, flaps 36 a and 36 b may be opened as indicated by the arrows to obtain the configuration of FIG. 6C. The configuration of FIG. 6C is an intermediate configuration between the second configuration and the final configuration. Even though the configuration of FIG. 6E is typically the “third configuration, the configuration of FIG. 6C may also be viewed as a third configuration, in view of the disclosure herein. The configuration of FIG. 6C has an upper flap 37 which may be opened to obtain the configuration of FIG. 6D. Similar to the configuration of FIG. 6C, the configuration of FIG. 6D is an intermediate configuration between the second configuration and the final configuration, but the configuration of FIG. 6D may also be viewed as a third configuration. From FIG. 6D, flaps 38 a and 38 b may be opened to obtain the configuration of FIG. 6E, which shows the device 5 with the sitting surface 65 being an upper surface 70. In this third configuration, the device may be used as a blanket or sheet for sitting or laying on the ground, among other things, and as shown in FIG. 3B.

Accordingly, in another embodiment of the present invention, the multi-purpose device 5 includes a soft body 10 having a first surface 70 and a generally opposing second surface 75, as shown in FIG. 3A. In view of the disclosure herein, first surface 70 is the same as the second sitting surface 65. The soft body further has a first end edge 80 a and a second end edge 80 b, which is spaced apart from the first end edge 80 a. The soft body 10 also has a first side edge 85 a and a second side edge 85 b. The first side edge 85 a and the second side edge 85 b extend from the first end edge 80 a towards the second end edge 80 b. In the illustrated embodiment, the soft body 10 is rectangularly shaped, and accordingly, the first side edge 85 a and the second side edge 85 b extend from the first end edge 80 a to the second end edge 80 b. In this embodiment, the soft body 10 has an area that is greater than an area of the sidewalls of the device 5 in its first configuration. Although the illustrated embodiment in the third configuration is a rectangle, other embodiments of the invention include other geometric shapes, including but not limited to squares, hexagons, octagons, and other polygons, as well as circles and ovals or ellipses.

The fastener assembly 20 is located on the first surface 70. The fastener assembly has a first end 20 a and a second end 20 b, as discussed herein. The fastener assembly also includes a central region 20 c disposed between the first end 20 a and the second end 20 b. In the illustrated embodiment, the central region 20 c is located substantially along a midline of the soft body 10, such as midline 10 m. The device 5 is illustrated as including a handle located in proximity to the first end of the fastener assembly 20. More specifically, the handle 40 is located in proximity to the first ends 20 a and 50 a of fastener assemblies 20 and 50, respectively, and the handle 15 is located in proximity to the second ends 20 b and 50 b of fastener assemblies 20 and 50, respectively. By positioning the fastener assemblies 20 and 50 in certain locations of surface 70, a fastener assembly is located on opposing edges of the sidewalls of the tote bag in the first configuration, and the fastener assemblies are located on an outer edge of the soft body in the second configuration, and the fastener assemblies are spaced away from the edges of the soft body in the third configuration. As discussed herein, the soft body 10 has a length and a width, generally defined by first and second side edges 85 a or 85 b and first and second end edges 80 a or 80 b, respectively. The fastener assembly 20 is located a distance from the first side edge 85 a a distance approximately equal to one-quarter the width of the soft body 10. Similarly, the fastener assembly 50 is located a distance from first side edge 85 a a distance approximately equal to one-half of the width of the soft body 10. The fastener assemblies 20 and 50 are oriented in a generally parallel configuration. The fastener assemblies are illustrated as being parallel to each other, as well as being parallel to the first and second side edges 85 a and 85 b.

Positioning of the fastener assemblies 20 and 50 substantially parallel to each other facilitates retaining of the device 5 in the first configuration as opposite sides 35A and 35B of the soft body 10 are drawn together. In one embodiment which is provided by way of example and not limitation, the first end 20 a of the first fastener assembly 20, such as a first zipper, is positioned approximately eleven inches from the first side edge 85 a of the soft body 10, and the first end 50 a of the second fastener assembly 50, such as a second zipper is positioned approximately eleven inches from the first end 20 a of the first fastener assembly 20. In other words, first end 20 a is positioned a distance “x” from first side edge 85 a , and first end 50 a is positioned a distance “y” from the first end 20 a. In the illustrated embodiment, “y” is approximately equal to “2x”. In addition, in the device illustrated in FIG. 3A, both fastener assemblies 20 and 50 are generally located in a region of the device that has an area that is approximately one-half of the area of the first surface 70. However, additional embodiments may include fastener assemblies in other positional configurations on surface 70.

Alternatively, the multi-purpose device 5 may include a single fastener assembly (not shown) positioned in a substantially H-shape such that the single zipper would similarly retain the device 5 in the first configuration. In this arrangement the single fastener assembly, such as a zipper, would retain the first configuration in a continuous uninterrupted fashion. Once retained, the interior compartment 55 of the soft body 10 may be used to store and/or carry various items including, as shown in FIG. 1A, suntan lotion, an electronic device, and a sun visor, to name just a few, and as discussed herein.

As described herein, the device 5 is converted from one configuration to another configuration by expanding and/or contracting the soft body 10, i.e., folding and/or unfolding. When folding the soft body 10 into the first configuration, portions of the soft body 10 are accumulated and retained to form each of the sidewalls 35A and 35B. The first fastener assembly 20 is positioned on the soft body 10 such that when retaining the device 5 is in the first configuration, approximately equal portions of the soft body 10 are positioned on opposite sidewalls 35A and 35B of the interior compartment. In other words, as best shown in FIG. 2, when the device 5 is in the first configuration, the sidewalls 35A and 35B of the device 5 have soft material accumulated to form substantially symmetrical sidewalls 35A and 35B. Items to be carried or contained may be placed between the folds or layers, such as layers 39A, 39B, 39C, and 39D that form the supporting sides 35A and 35B. Alternatively, items may be placed between the folds of the supporting sides 35A and 35B to separate various items from each other.

As described herein, various materials used in the construction on the soft body 5 may provide different benefits to the user. For example, a flannel or heavy cotton type material on one side of the soft body 10 provides insulation when the soft body 5 is used as a blanket or cape, and protection from rain when water repellent material is used on the other side of the soft body 10. Converting the soft body 5 from the first configuration to the third configuration is typically accomplished by extending or unfolding the soft body 10.

Turning now to FIG. 5, a flow chart illustrating a method of using a multi-purpose device in accordance with the present invention is shown. For convenience, the method described herein begins by forming the first configuration. Alternatively, the method described herein may be utilized with the soft body 10 in any physical state by beginning at a step most nearly associated with the current state of the soft body 10. Furthermore, the continuation, or interruption of step(s) once started is entirely dependent upon the soft body's initial configuration and the user's desired final physical configuration of the soft bag 10. Therefore, although the method of the present invention is illustrated herein with steps occurring in a certain order, the specific order of the steps, or any continuation or interruption between steps, is not required.

The process begins at step 500. At step 510, a soft body 10 as described herein is provided. A manufacturer, distributor, or other third party may supply the soft body 10. In this respect, “providing” the multi-purpose device 5 is intended to refer to the fact that such a device 5 is in fact present for use with the method, and so the device 5 may also be provided by the actual user thereof.

At step 520, a method of transforming a multi-purpose device begins by forming the first configuration suitable for use as a tote-bag. Formation of the first, second, and third configuration is best illustrated in FIGS. 4A-4G and FIGS. 6A-6E. Thus, the term “forming” typically corresponds to an expanding/contracted or a folding/unfolding of the soft body 10. As described herein, in the first configuration the soft body 10 is arranged, i.e., folded, to have a bottom and sidewalls which together define outer walls and an interior compartment. The interior compartment has inner surfaces and an open top. The fastener assemblies 20 and/or 50, typically a zipper(s), are used to retain the device in the first configuration such that approximately equal portions of the soft body 10 are on opposite sides of the interior compartment.

At step 530, a second configuration suitable for use as a seat cushion is formed. The second configuration, as shown in FIG. 4B, is typically formed by releasing the fastener assembly (zipper, snaps, buttons, etc.) and drawing the supporting sides away from each other such that the interior compartment is vitiated.

At step 540, a third configuration suitable for use a blanket is formed. As described herein and shown in FIG. 4G, the third configuration is preferably formed by fully expanding the soft body 10 to form a substantially flat surface. Alternatively, as shown in each of the FIGS. 4C through 4F, the soft body 10 may be considered to be in a substantially flat arrangement. Therefore, in each of the FIGS. 4C through 4F, the soft body 10 may also be utilized as a blanket albeit a smaller blanket than that represent by the third configuration of FIG. 4G. Optionally, the method may include an additional step of receiving a person's arms so that the device may be used as a cape.

As previously described herein, the specific order of the steps is not required. For example, when the multi-purpose device 5 is in the second configuration (step 530), the user may prefer to form the first configuration (step 520) instead of forming the third configuration (step 540).

While certain embodiments are illustrated in the drawings and are described herein, including preferred embodiments, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the specific embodiments described herein may be modified without departing from the inventive concepts described. Accordingly, Applicant's invention as described herein is not to be restricted, except in accordance with the law by the claims which follow.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7374238 *May 18, 2005May 20, 2008Lingwall Eric BPortable covered seating apparatus
US7517013Jan 31, 2008Apr 14, 2009Dd&G Holdings 1, LlcCombination cooling pad for a vehicle seat and cooled, dual-configuration bag
US7520010 *Apr 6, 2006Apr 21, 2009Patemm Inc.Foldable circular baby changing pad having annular storage area and perimeter handles with ends at fold lines
US8051510Aug 18, 2006Nov 8, 2011Soloway Sharon RFoldable diaper bag, changing surface, and play pad assembly
US8740457 *Sep 9, 2011Jun 3, 2014Kovrd Products Inc.Paint tray bag with extended drop sheet
US20120002904 *Sep 9, 2011Jan 5, 2012Kovrd Products Inc.Paint tray bag with extended drop sheet
US20120272561 *Apr 27, 2012Nov 1, 2012Risley Robert FFirearm Enclosure, Method For Constructing The Firearm Enclosure, And A Method For Converting the Firearm Enclosure Into A Blanket
US20130048686 *Aug 26, 2011Feb 28, 2013Globepac, LlcFoldable bag device
EP2618691A1 *Jan 20, 2011Jul 31, 2013Dan CusterLuggage combination with out of seam docking zipper
WO2011163082A2 *Jun 17, 2011Dec 29, 2011David SternlightCombination carrying pack and blanket and pillow
Classifications
U.S. Classification5/417, 5/485, 2/84, 383/4, 2/69
International ClassificationA41D15/04, A45C13/10, A45F4/06, A47G9/06, A45C3/10, A45F4/12, A45C9/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47G9/062, A45F4/12, A41D15/04, A45F2004/026, A45C3/10, A47G9/064, A45C9/00, A45C13/103, A45F4/06
European ClassificationA47G9/06B, A47G9/06D, A45C9/00, A41D15/04
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 16, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: LOGOTEC USA, LLC, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TYLER, TIMOTHY;REEL/FRAME:014523/0583
Effective date: 20040129