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Publication numberUS20050278863 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/873,960
Publication dateDec 22, 2005
Filing dateJun 22, 2004
Priority dateJun 22, 2004
Publication number10873960, 873960, US 2005/0278863 A1, US 2005/278863 A1, US 20050278863 A1, US 20050278863A1, US 2005278863 A1, US 2005278863A1, US-A1-20050278863, US-A1-2005278863, US2005/0278863A1, US2005/278863A1, US20050278863 A1, US20050278863A1, US2005278863 A1, US2005278863A1
InventorsLisa Bahash, Michael Lipski
Original AssigneeRiverpark Incorporated
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Comfort product
US 20050278863 A1
Abstract
An improved comfort product that uses an airflow through a heat exchanger and into the comfort product to selectively heat or cool an occupant has a support layer contacting and supporting a channel layer. The channel layer has at least one channel with an opening to accept air. The channel layer contacts and supports an engineered distribution layer that has numerous small holes making it air permeable. The engineered distribution layer contacts and supports an air permeable comfort layer that is of such size and shape to support an occupant of the comfort product. The comfort product also has a heat exchanger assembly for supplying heated or cooled air to the opening in the channel. The heat exchanger assembly includes an air intake having an intake fan, an exhaust outlet and a heat exchanger for selectively heating or cooling air flowing through the heat exchanger resulting in selectively heated or cooled supply air and exhaust air. The intake fan forces air through the heat exchanger where some of the air is selectively heated or cooled to be supplied to the comfort product and some air is used as exhaust air (to remove the unwanted heat if the supplied air is cooled or to warm the exhaust side of the heat exchanger if the supply air is warmed.). The selectively heated or cooled supply air then moves through the channels in the channel layer and the exhaust air exits through the exhaust vent. The selectively heated or cooled supply air then moves through the engineered distribution layer where the numerous small holes diffuse the air and then the selectively heated or cooled air then moves through the comfort layer where the air is further diffused and where the selectively heated or cooled air can selectively heat or cool an occupant of the comfort product.
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Claims(36)
1. A comfort product having means to distribute air through the comfort product comprising:
a support layer;
a channel layer;
the channel layer being in contact with and supported by the support layer;
the channel layer having at least one channel formed therein;
the channel layer having an opening connecting to the channel;
an engineered distribution layer;
the engineered distribution layer being in contact with and supported by the channel layer;
the engineered distribution layer having numerous small holes making it air permeable;
a comfort layer;
the comfort layer being in contact with and supported by the top engineered distribution layer;
the comfort layer being of such size and shape to receive and support an occupant of the comfort product;
the comfort layer being air permeable;
a fan assembly for supplying air consisting of an air intake having an intake fan;
whereby; the intake fan can force air into and through the channels in the channel layer;
the air can then move through the engineered distribution layer where the numerous small holes diffuse the air; and
the air can then move through the comfort layer where the air is further diffused and where the air can comfort an occupant.
2. A comfort product having means to distribute temperature conditioned air through the comfort product comprising:
a support layer;
a channel layer;
the channel layer being in contact with and supported by the support layer;
the channel layer having at least one channel formed therein;
the channel layer having an opening connecting to the channel;
an engineered distribution layer;
the engineered distribution layer being in contact with and supported by the channel layer;
the engineered distribution layer having numerous small holes making it air permeable;
a comfort layer;
the comfort layer being in contact with and supported by the top engineered distribution layer;
the comfort layer being of such size and shape to receive and support an occupant of the comfort product;
the comfort layer being air permeable;
a heat exchanger assembly for supplying heated or cooled air consisting of:
an air intake having an intake fan;
an exhaust outlet;
a heat exchanger for selectively heating or cooling air flowing through the heat exchanger thereby providing selectively heated or cooled air and exhaust air;
whereby; the intake fan can force air through the heat exchanger;
the heat exchanger selectively heats or cools the air;
the selectively heated or cooled air can then move through the channels in the channel layer;
the selectively heated or cooled air can then move through the engineered distribution layer where the numerous small holes diffuse the air; and
the selectively heated or cooled air can then move through the comfort layer where the air is further diffused and where the selectively heated or cooled air can selectively heat or cool an occupant.
3. A comfort product as in claim 2 wherein the heat exchanger includes a Peltier circuit.
4. A comfort product as in claim 2 wherein the support layer is made of high density foam.
5. A comfort product as in claim 2 wherein the support layer is made of low density foam.
6. A comfort product as in claim 2 wherein the channel layer is made of high density foam.
7. A comfort product as in claim 2 wherein the engineered distribution layer is made of low density foam.
8. A comfort product as in claim 2 wherein the engineered distribution layer is made of fiber paper.
9. A comfort product as in claim 2 wherein the comfort layer is made of low density foam.
10. A comfort product as in claim 2 wherein the comfort layer is made of blown fiber in a bag.
11. A comfort product as in claim 2 which includes a backrest.
12. A comfort product as in claim 11 wherein the backrest is comprised mainly of low density foam.
13. A comfort product as in claim 2 wherein the channel is spiral shaped.
14. A comfort product as in claim 2 wherein the channel is vein-like.
15 . A comfort product as in claim 14 wherein the vein-line channel has at least one connection opening and wherein the connection opening can make an air-tight connection with a second connection opening in another like comfort product.
16. A comfort product having means to distribute temperature conditioned air through the comfort product comprising:
a support layer of either high density foam or low density foam;
a channel layer of high density foam;
the channel layer being in contact with and supported by the support layer;
the channel layer having channels formed therein;
the channel layer having an opening connecting to the channels;
an engineered distribution layer fiber paper or low density foam;
the engineered distribution layer being in contact with and supported by the channel layer;
the engineered distribution layer having numerous small holes making it air permeable;
a comfort layer of low density foam, layered fiber paper or blown fiber in a bag;
the comfort layer being in contact with and supported by the top engineered distribution layer;
the comfort layer the comfort layer being of such size and shape to receive and support an occupant of the comfort product;
the comfort layer being air permeable;
a heat exchanger assembly for supplying heated or cooled air consisting of:
an air intake having an intake fan;
an exhaust outlet;
a heat exchanger for selectively heating or cooling air flowing through the heat exchanger thereby providing selectively heated or cooled air and exhaust air;
the heat exchanger including a Peltier circuit whereby:
the intake fan can force air through the heat exchanger;
the heat exchanger selectively heats or cools the air;
the selectively heated or cooled air can then move through the channels in the channel layer;
the selectively heated or cooled air can then move through the engineered distribution layer where the numerous small holes diffuse the air; and
the selectively heated or cooled air can then move through the comfort layer where the air is further diffused and where the selectively heated or cooled air can selectively heat or cool an occupant.
17. A comfort product as in claim 16 wherein:
the support layer has a top side;
the channel layer has a top side, a bottom side and at least one lateral side;
the bottom side of the channel layer being in contact with and supported by the top side of the support layer;
the engineered distribution layer has a top side and a bottom side;
the bottom side of the engineered distribution layer being in contact with and supported by the top side of the channel layer;
the comfort layer having a top side and a bottom side;
the bottom side of the comfort layer being in contact with and supported by the top side of the engineered distribution layer;
the top side of the comfort layer supporting an occupant of the comfort product;.
18. A comfort product as in claim 17 wherein:
the channels in the channel layer are formed in the top side of the channel layer; and
the opening in the channel layer connecting to the channels is in the lateral side of the channel layer.
19. A comfort product as in claim 17 wherein:
the channels in the channel layer are formed in the top side of the channel layer; and
the opening in the channel layer connecting to the channels is in the bottom of the channel layer.
20. A comfort product as in claim 17 wherein the channel in the channel layer is spiral shaped.
21. A comfort product as in claim 20 wherein the spiral shaped channel extends from the top side of the channel layer through the channel layer to the bottom side of the channel layer.
22. A comfort product as in claim 16 wherein the channel is vein-like.
23. A comfort product as in claim 22 wherein the vein-line channel has at least connection opening and wherein the connection opening can make an air-tight connection with a second connection opening another like comfort product.
24. A comfort product as in claim 16 which includes a backrest.
25. A comfort product having means to distribute temperature conditioned air through the comfort product comprising:
a support layer of high density foam or low density foam;
the support layer having a top side;
a channel layer of high density foam;
the channel layer having a top side, a bottom side and at least one lateral side;
the bottom side of the channel layer being in contact with and supported by the top side of the support layer;
the top side of the channel layer having channels formed therein;
the channel layer having an opening, the opening connecting to the channels;
an engineered distribution layer of fiber paper or low density foam;
the engineered distribution layer having a top side and a bottom side;
the bottom side of the engineered distribution layer being in contact with and supported by the top side of the channel layer;
the engineered distribution layer having numerous small holes making it air permeable;
a comfort layer of low density foam, layered fiber paper or blown fiber in a bag;
the comfort layer having a top side and a bottom side;
the bottom side of the comfort layer being in contact with and supported by the top side of the engineered distribution layer;
the top side of the comfort layer being of such size and shape to receive and support an occupant of the comfort product;
the comfort layer being air permeable;
a back rest foam of low cut density foam;
the back rest being in contact with and supported by the top side of the comfort layer;
a heat exchanger assembly for supplying heated or cooled air consisting of:
an air intake having an intake fan;
an exhaust outlet;
an air conduit having a first end and a second end;
the first end of the air conduit connected to the air intake;
the second end of the air conduit connected to a heat exchanger for selectively heating or cooling air flowing through the heat exchanger from the air conduit thereby providing selectively heated or cooled air and exhaust air;
the heat exchanger including a Peltier circuit;
an air supply tube connected to the heat exchanger at a first end receiving the selectively heated or cooled air;
the air supply connected to the opening in the channel layer;
whereby; the intake fan can force air through the air intake, into the air conduit and through the heat exchanger;
the heat exchanger selectively heats or cools the air;
the selectively heated or cooled air can move through the air supply tube;
the selectively heated or cooled air can then move through the channels in the channel layer;
the selectively heated or cooled air can then move through the engineered distribution layer where the numerous small holes diffuse the air; and
the selectively heated or cooled air can then move through the comfort layer where the air is further diffused and where the selectively heated or cooled air can selectively heat or cool an occupant.
26. A comfort product as in claim 25 wherein the channel in the channel layer is spiral shaped.
27. A comfort product as in claim 26 wherein the spiral shaped channel extends from the top side of the channel layer through the channel layer to the bottom side of the channel layer.
28. A comfort product as in claim 25 wherein the channel is vein-like.
29. A comfort product as in claim 28 wherein the vein-like channel has at least one connection opening and wherein the connection opening can make an air-tight connection with a second connection opening another like comfort product.
30. A comfort product as in claim 25 wherein the opening in the channel layer connecting to the channels is in the lateral side of the channel layer.
31. A comfort product as in claim 25 wherein the opening in the channel layer connecting to the channels is in the bottom of the channel layer.
32. A comfort product as in claim 25 wherein the heat exchanger assembly has a switch assembly to activate or deactivate the heat exchanger assembly.
33. A comfort product as in claim 32 wherein the switch assembly includes a pressure activated switch.
34. A comfort product as in claim 25 wherein the heat exchanger assembly is mounted in a space defined by an opening in the support layer, the channel layer and the scrim so the heat exchanger assembly fits in the interior of the comfort product.
35. A comfort product as in claim 25 wherein the heat exchanger assembly is mounted exterior of a space defined the support layer, the channel layer and the scrim so the heat exchanger assembly is exterior to the remainder of the comfort product.
36. A comfort product having means to distribute temperature conditioned air through the comfort product manufactured by a process such that:
a support layer is die cut from high density foam or low density foam to form a structure having a top;
a channel layer is die cut from high density foam to form a structure having a top, bottom and at least one side;
the channel layer having channels formed in the top side of the channel layer;
an engineered distribution layer is die cut from fiber paper or low density foam to form a structure having a top and a bottom;
the engineered distribution layer having holes formed to allow the passage of air from the bottom side of the engineered distribution layer to the top side of the engineered distribution layer;
a comfort layer of such size and shape to receive and support an occupant of the comfort product is die cut from low density foam or is made of blown fiber collected in a bag to form a structure having a top side and a bottom side;
the bottom side of the channel layer being glued to the top side of the support layer using foam glue so that the channel layer is in contact with and supported by the support layer;
the bottom side of the engineered distribution layer being glued to the top side of the channel layer using foam glue so that the engineered distribution layer is in contact with and supported by the channel layer;
the bottom side of the comfort layer being glued to the top side of the engineered distribution layer using foam glue so that the comfort layer is in contact with and supported by the engineered distribution layer;
a heat exchanger assembly being connected to the channels of the channel layer to force selectively heated or cooled air through the channels, up through the holes in the engineered distribution layer where the air is diffused and through the comfort layer where the air is further diffused to heat or cool the top of the comfort layer.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to comfort products and more particularly to comfort products in which an airflow is produced through the comfort product. The comfort product can include a heat exchanger through which the air is forced to selectively heat or cool an occupant of the comfort product. Applications of the invention include beds for pets and human occupants.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

For as long as people have been sleeping in beds there have been problems with people being either too warm or too cold while in the bed. In the past people would warm bricks in the fireplace and insert these bricks under the sheets or even the mattress to warm the bed before entering. As the industrial revolution made consumer products more affordable this practice gave way to people taking hot water bottles to bed with them for the same purpose. These practices have the inconveniences of being temporary (in that the heat brought to bed slowly dissipates) and time consuming (in that considerable preparation must occur). Plus neither of these methods actually cool the bed—they only provide heat.

With the advent of effective central heating and air conditioning, many people forgo heating pads and hot water bottles in favor of heating or cooling the room or enclosure where the bed is located. While this method does provide a constant modified temperature for the space in which the bed sits it also has disadvantages. One disadvantage is it is expensive and inefficient to heat or cool areas that are not occupied (such as areas outside of the bed during sleep) when the person really just wants their immediate area—the bed—to be comfortable. Another disadvantage is the bed itself can sometimes be warmer or colder than the surrounding air, to the discomfort of the person sleeping. Yet another disadvantage is warming or cooling the entire enclosure may not be feasible if the bed is not in a building; e.g. if it is in a recreational vehicle or in the sleeping compartment of a semi-truck.

There have been efforts in the past to provide localized heating or cooling of a comfort product such as a bed using forced air in order to overcome the problems of expense, inefficiency and localized temperature spikes. U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,461,432 and 2,493,067 show such efforts dating back to the late 1940s and early 1950s. These earlier inventions were often cumbersome and complicated which made them expensive to produce and use. U.S. Pat. No. 6,336,237 B1 shows a ventilated mattress that uses forced air from a cooling/warming air-delivery box to heat or cool an occupant. While less complicated than the previous inventions, this mattress still relies upon the structure of a traditional inner-spring mattress making it expensive and therefore unsuitable for use outside of the home or for a lower cost application such as a pet bed.

There have also been efforts to produce ventilated comfort products for use outside of the home or in lower cost applications. The modular ventilated bed disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,665,575 shows a bed designed for use outside of a home, but it does not include forced air for heating or cooling which limits its effectiveness at transferring heat to or from the occupant. U.S. Pat. No. 6,553,935 discloses a pet bed that does use forced air but does not include a mechanical or electronic heat transfer device to heat or cool the air, relying instead on ice-packs or heating packs. This limits the usefulness of the invention much the same way as the old heating bricks or hot water bottles did since the ice-packs will melt or the heating packs will cool and the cooling or heating will end.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved comfort product that uses an airflow through the comfort product and which has none of the limitations of the prior art described above. It is a further object of the present invention to provide an improved comfort product that uses an airflow through a heat exchanger and into and through the comfort product to selectively heat or cool an occupant of the comfort product and which has non of the limitations of the prior art described above.

In one preferred embodiment of the present invention the improved comfort product has a support layer contacting and supporting a channel layer. The channel layer has at least one channel with an opening to accept air. The channel layer contacts and supports an engineered distribution layer that has numerous small holes making it air permeable. The engineered distribution layer contacts and supports an air permeable comfort layer that is of such size and shape to support an occupant of the comfort product. The comfort product also has a fan assembly for supplying air to the opening in the channel. The fan assembly includes an air intake having an intake fan which forces air into and through the comfort product. The moves to and through the channels in the channel layer, then moves through the engineered distribution layer where the numerous small holes diffuse the air and then the air then moves through the comfort layer where the air is further diffused and where the air can comfort an occupant of the comfort product.

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention the improved comfort product has a support layer contacting and supporting a channel layer. The channel layer has at least one channel with an opening to accept air. The channel layer contacts and supports an engineered distribution layer that has numerous small holes making it air permeable. The engineered distribution layer contacts and supports an air permeable comfort layer that is of such size and shape to support an occupant of the comfort product. The comfort product also has a heat exchanger assembly for supplying heated or cooled air to the opening in the channel. The heat exchanger assembly includes an air intake having an intake fan, an exhaust outlet and a heat exchanger for selectively heating or cooling air flowing through the heat exchanger resulting in selectively heated or cooled supply air and exhaust air. The intake fan forces air through the heat exchanger where some of the air is selectively heated or cooled to be supplied to the comfort product and some air is used as exhaust air (to remove the unwanted heat if the supplied air is cooled or to warm the exhaust side of the heat exchanger if the supply air is warmed.). The selectively heated or cooled supply air then moves to and through the channels in the channel layer and the exhaust air exits through the exhaust vent. The selectively heated or cooled supply air then moves through the engineered distribution layer where the numerous small holes diffuse the air and then the selectively heated or cooled supply air then moves through the comfort layer where the air is further diffused and where the selectively heated or cooled supply air can selectively heat or cool an occupant of the comfort product.

In yet another preferred embodiment of the present invention the improved comfort product has a support layer made of either high density foam or low density foam contacting and supporting a channel layer made of high density foam. The channel layer has at least one channel with an opening to accept air. The channel layer contacts and supports an engineered distribution layer made of either fiber paper or low density foam. The engineered distribution layer has numerous small holes making it air permeable. The engineered distribution layer contacts and supports an air permeable comfort layer made of low density foam of blown fiber contained in a bag. The comfort layer is of such size and shape to support an occupant of the comfort product. The comfort product also has a heat exchanger assembly for supplying heated or cooled air to the opening in the channel. The heat exchanger assembly includes an air intake having an intake fan, an exhaust outlet and a Peltier circuit heat exchanger (such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,618,167 though any configuration of a Peltier circuit could work) for selectively heating or cooling air flowing through the heat exchanger resulting in selectively heated or cooled supply air and exhaust air. The intake fan forces air through the Peltier circuit heat exchanger where some of the air is selectively heated or cooled to be supplied to the comfort product and some air is used as exhaust air (to remove the unwanted heat if the supplied air is cooled or to warm the exhaust side of the heat exchanger if the supply air is warmed.). The selectively heated or cooled supply air then moves through the channels in the channel layer and the exhaust air exits through the exhaust vent. The selectively heated or cooled supply air then moves through the engineered distribution layer where the numerous small holes diffuse the air and then the selectively heated or cooled air then moves through the comfort layer where the air is further diffused and where the selectively heated or cooled air can selectively heat or cool an occupant of the comfort product.

In still another preferred embodiment of the present invention the improved comfort product has a support layer made of either high density foam or low density foam. The support layer has a top side that contacts and supports a channel layer made of high density foam. the channel layer has a top side, a bottom side and at least one lateral side. The top side of the channel layer has at least one channel formed therein. The channel layer also has an opening to accept air. This opening is connected to at least one of the channels. The top side of the channel layer is in contact with a bottom side of an engineered distribution layer and supports the engineered distribution layer. The engineered distribution layer is made of either fiber paper or low density foam, has a top side, and has numerous small holes between the bottom side and the top side of the engineered distribution layer formed therein making it air permeable. The top side of the engineered distribution layer is in contact with and supports a bottom side of a comfort layer made of low density foam or blown fiber in a bag. The comfort layer also has a top side and is of a size and shape to receive and support an occupant on this top side. A back rest made of low density foam is in contact with a supported by the top side of the comfort layer. The comfort product includes a heat exchanger assembly for supplying heated or cooled air to the opening in the channel. The heat exchanger assembly includes an air intake having an intake fan, and an air conduit having a first end connected to the air intake and a second end connected to a Peltier circuit heat exchanger (such as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,618,167 though any configuration of a Peltier circuit could work) for selectively heating or cooling air flowing through the heat exchanger resulting in selectively heated or cooled supply air and exhaust air. The intake fan forces air through the air conduit and into Peltier circuit heat exchanger where some of the air is selectively heated or cooled to be supplied to the comfort product though an air supply tube and some air is used as exhaust air (to remove the unwanted heat if the supplied air is cooled or to warm the exhaust side of the heat exchanger if the supply air is warmed.) vented through the exhaust vent. The air supply tube connects to the opening in the channel layer to supply the selectively heated or cooled supply air to the channels in the channel layer. The selectively heated or cooled supply air then moves through the engineered distribution layer where the numerous small holes diffuse the air and then the selectively heated or cooled air then moves through the comfort layer where the air is further diffused and where the selectively heated or cooled air can selectively heat or cool an occupant of the comfort product.

In still yet another preferred embodiment of the present invention there is a process to manufacture a comfort product having means to distribute temperature conditioned air through the comfort product. In this process a support layer is die cut from high density foam or low density foam to form a structure having a top. A channel layer is die cut from high density foam to form a structure having a top, bottom and at least one side and the top of the channel layer has channels formed therein. An engineered distribution layer is die cut from fiber paper or low density foam to form a structure having a top and a bottom with the engineered distribution layer has holes formed to allow the passage of air from the bottom side of the engineered distribution layer to the top side of the engineered distribution layer. A comfort layer of such size and shape to receive and support an occupant of the comfort product is die cut from low density foam or is made of blown fiber collected in a bag to form a structure having a top side and a bottom side. The bottom side of the channel layer is glued to the top side of the support layer using foam glue so that the channel layer is in contact with and supported by the support layer. The bottom side of the engineered distribution layer is glued to the top side of the channel layer using foam glue so that the engineered distribution layer is in contact with and supported by the channel layer. The bottom side of the comfort layer is glued to the top side of the engineered distribution layer using foam glue so that the comfort layer is in contact with and supported by the engineered distribution layer. A heat exchanger assembly is connected to the channels of the channel layer to force selectively heated or cooled air through the channels, up through the holes in the engineered distribution layer where the air is diffused and through the comfort layer where the air is further diffused to heat or cool the top of the comfort layer.

Other advantages and embodiments of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

Other applications of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art when the following description of the best mode contemplated for practicing the invention is read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The description herein makes reference to the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the improved comfort product of the present invention showing the human bed embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the improved comfort product of the present invention showing the pet bed embodiment.

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the pet bed embodiment of the improved comfort product of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the channel layer showing a spiral channel that extends though the entire height of the channel layer.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the channel layer showing a vein-like channel structure where at least one channel can connect to a channel of a similar comfort product.

FIG. 6 is perspective view of the engineered distribution layer.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the heat exchanger assembly showing a view of from a perspective external to the comfort product.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the heat exchanger assembly showing a partial sectional view from a perspective internal to the comfort product.

FIG. 9 is side view of the comfort product showing the heat exchanger assembly fitted into the comfort product.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the comfort product showing the heat exchanger assembly external to the rest of the comfort product.

FIG. 11 is a sectional view of the comfort product showing the direction of air travel in through the heat exchanger assembly and out through the comfort layer.

FIG. 12 is a top view of the improved comfort product of the present invention showing the human bed embodiment connected to another improved comfort product of the present invention showing the human bed embodiment.

FIG. 13 is a schematic of a Peltier circuit.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The following descriptions are of exemplary embodiments only, and are not intended to limit the scope, application of configuration of the invention in any way. Rather, the following descriptions provide a convenient illustration for implementing exemplary embodiments of the invention. Various changes to the described embodiments may be made in the function and arrangement of the elements described without departing from the scope of the invention as set for in the claims. Referring to FIGS. 1, there is shown an improved structure of a comfort product 10 having means to distribute temperature conditioned air 20 through the comfort product 10. The comfort product 10 has a support layer 30, a channel layer 40, an engineered distribution layer 60 and a comfort layer 70. In addition the comfort product 10 has a heat exchanger assembly 80 to selectively heat or cool air 20 and to provide this selectively heated or cooled air 20 to the comfort product 10.

The support layer 30 is made of either a high density foam, preferably polyurethane though it can be of any high density foam material, or of a low density foam such as polyurethane foam. The high density foam provides a stronger base and the low density foam acts to absorb shocks and vibrations to the comfort product. Either material can be used based on the final design needs of the comfort product. The material of the support layer is preferably die cut to make it easier to mass produce the support layer 30 and thereby reduce costs. In one preferred embodiment of the present invention the support layer 30 is a generally rectangular shape with a top 32, a bottom 34, and sides 36 though the support layer does not need to be this exact shape.

The channel layer 40 is also made of a high density air impermeable foam, preferably polyurethane though again it can be of any high density foam material. This material is also preferably die cut to make it easier to mass produce the channel layer 40 and thereby reduce costs. The channel layer 40 has a top 42, a bottom 44, and at least one lateral side 46 though the channel layer can have more than one lateral side 46. The channel layer 40 does not need to be rectangular, though it should be generally the same size and shape (from a top or bottom view) as the support layer 30.

The channel layer 40 has channels 50 through which air 20 can flow. These channels 50 can take many forms. One preferred embodiment of the channels is a spiral shape 52 as shown in FIG. 4. Another preferred embodiment is a vein-like shape 54 as shown in FIG. 5. If the support layer 30 is made of a high density, air impermeable foam the channels 50 can either extend all the way from the top of the channel layer 42 to the bottom of the channel layer 44 as in FIG. 4 or the channels 50 can be grooves in the top of the channel layer 42 that do not extend through to the bottom of the channel layer, as in FIG. 5. If the support layer 30 is made of low density foam that is air permeable the channels 50 should be grooves in the top of the channel layer 42 that do not extend through to the bottom of the channel layer, as in FIG. 5, so air forced through the channels does not exit through the support layer 20. At least one part of the channels 50 should have an opening 56 connecting to the heat exchanger assembly 80. This opening 56 can either be in a lateral side of the channel layer 46, as shown in FIG. 4, or may be in the bottom of the channel layer 44, as shown in FIG. 5. The channels 50 can also have one or more connection openings 58 in one of the lateral sides of the channel layer 46, as shown in FIG. 12. These connection openings 58 can either be closed off with a plug 59 or can be open and connected to connection openings 58 b in channels 50 b of an adjacent improved comfort product 10 b of the present invention.

The engineered distribution layer 60 is made of either fiber paper or low density foam, such as a thin sheet of layered fiber material or polyurethane foam. The engineered distribution layer 60 has holes 62 which allow the passage of air 20. The scrim 60 may be air impermeable or may be air permeable as long as the majority of the air 20 tends to pass through the holes 62. In one preferred embodiment of the present invention the holes 62 a are smallest nearest the opening 56 (as air would travel along the channels 50) in the channel layer and grow larger 62 b the farther they are from the opening 56 (again as air would travel along the channels 50) as shown in FIG. 11. The engineered distribution layer has a top side 64 and a bottom side 66 and is preferably die cut to make it easier to mass produce the engineered distribution layer 60 and thereby reduce costs. The engineered distribution layer 60 should be roughly the same size and shape of the channel layer 40 from a top perspective and the holes 62 should align with the channels 50 when assembled.

The comfort layer 70 can be made of either air permeable low density foam, preferably layered fiber or polyurethane foam, though it can be made of any air permeable low density foam material, This material is also preferably die cut to make it easier to mass produce the comfort layer 70 and thereby reduce costs. The comfort layer 70 can also be made of a blown fiber in a bag like in a pillow. The comfort layer 70 should have a top 72 and a bottom 74. The comfort layer 70 does not need to be rectangular, though it should be sized and shaped to be able to support an occupant and generally the same size and shape (from a top or bottom view) as the support layer 30, channel layer 50 and engineered distribution layer 60.

The comfort product 10 can also include a backrest 76 made of low density foam, preferably layered fiber or polyurethane foam, though it can be made of any air permeable low density foam material, or made of a blown fiber in a bag. In one embodiment, showing in FIG. 2, the backrest 76 is supported by the top 72 of the comfort layer 70. In another embodiment, not shown, the backrest 76 extends down to and is supported by the top 42 of the channel layer 40. The backrest 76 can take many forms depending on the use intended for the comfort product. One embodiment, shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 is a backrest 76 for a pet on the pet bed embodiment. The backrest 76 can also be a pillow-top attachment 76 b to the human bed embodiment as shown in FIG. 1. The backrest 76 can be a constant height or can be a varied height, as in FIGS. 2 and 3, allowing occupants of different sizes to find a comfortable resting position using the backrest.

The heat exchanger assembly 80 includes a cover panel 82 with an external side 84 and an internal side 86. The cover panel 82 has an air intake vent 88 and an air exhaust outlet 90 which allow air 20 to pass through the cover panel 82. The air intake vent 88 can include an air filter if so desired. An air intake fan 92 is attached to the internal side 86 of the cover panel 82 to draw air into and force the air through the heat exchanger assembly 80. An enclosed air conduit 94 (shown in the partial sectional view of FIG. 8) accepts the air 20 from the air intake fan 92 and passes the air over a Peltier circuit heat exchanger 100.

A basic design for the Peltier circuit heat exchanger 100 is shown in a schematic, FIG. 13, and has a set of metal fins forming supply section 102 and a second set of metal fins forming an exhaust section 104. In between the supply section 102 and the exhaust section 104 are two different types of electrical conductors or semiconductors—such as a P type semiconductor 106 and an N type semiconductor 108. If current flows one direction through the Peltier circuit heat exchanger 100, shown as I1 in FIG. 13, the supply section 102 is heated and the exhaust section 104 is cooled. If current flows the other direction through the Peltier circuit heat exchanger 100, shown as I2 in FIG. 13, then the supply section 102 is cooled and the exhaust section is heated 104. The Peltier circuit heat exchanger 100 can also include a thermister to regulate the temperatures of the supply section 102 and exhaust section 104. The present invention is not limited to this one description of a Peltier heat exchanger as the heat exchanger circuit of the present invention can be any type of Peltier heat exchanger circuit.

When the Peltier circuit heat exchanger 100 is in operation the supply section 102 accepts air 20 from the air conduit 94 and either heats or cools the air 20 depending on the direction of current flow through the Peltier circuit heat exchanger 100. The supply section then channels this air to an air supply tube 96 which leads to and is connected to the opening 56 in the channel layer 40 so that the selectively heated or cooled supply air 20 a is forced to flow into the channels 50. At the same time a portion of the air 20 passes over the exhaust section 104 to equalize the temperature of the exhaust section 104 and becomes exhaust air 20 b. This exhaust air 20 b exits through an exhaust tube 98 and out of the exhaust vent outlet 90.

The improved comfort product 10 is assembled so that the bottom 44 of the channel layer 40 is glued to the top 32 of the support layer 30 with a foam glue. The bottom side 64 of the engineered distribution layer 60 is glued in a like manner to the top 42 of the channel layer 40 in such a way that the holes 62 align with the channels 50 to allow air 20 to pass. The bottom 74 of the comfort layer 70 is glued in a like manner to the top side 62 of the engineered distribution layer 60. Each layer should be assembled so they generally align themselves with the other layers from a top or bottom perspective.

The layered construction and laminated assembly makes the improved comfort product easier and cheaper to manufacture. Each separate layer can be die cut out of a larger stock of material using an automated process. Since the different layers have different properties they can be made out of different materials as necessary. The final laminated assembly allows each of these different materials to work in concert to form the present invention.

In one preferred embodiment of the present invention as shown in FIG. 9 the heat exchanger assembly 80 fits into a recess 110 cut into the support layer 30, channel layer 50 and engineered distribution layer 60. The cover panel 82 fits into a second smaller recess 112 cut into the support layer 30, channel layer 50, engineered distribution layer 60 and comfort layer 70. When assembled, the heat exchanger assembly is contained by the rest of the improved comfort product 10 with only the cover panel 82 visible from a top or side perspective. This allows the entire comfort product, including the heat exchanger, to fit into a compact area. The cover panel 82 can include a switch 114 allowing selective heating, cooling or just fan operation of the heat exchanger assembly 80 as well as an LED indicator 116 to let an operator know which operation has been selected.

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention as shown in FIG. 10 the heat exchanger assembly 80 remains external to the rest of the comfort product 10. This embodiment allows mounting of the heat exchanger assembly 80 in a position where the exhaust air 20 b can exit through the exhaust vent 90 at a position removed from the comfort product 10. This distance could be useful if the comfort product 10 were mounted in a frame assembly in a small space, like the sleeping quarters in a semi-truck, where the exhaust air 20 b could negatively affect the temperature of the surrounding air. In such a situation the heat exchanger assembly 80 could be mounted near a side wall to allow the exhaust air 20 to be vented directly outside.

In addition, the present invention can include a pressure switch 118 preferably mounted between the engineered distribution layer 60 and the comfort layer 70. This pressure switch 118 can control whether the heat exchanger assembly 80, including the air intake fan 92 and circuit heat exchanger 100 are engaged. When the improved comfort product 10 is used the occupant's weight triggers the pressure switch 118 which in turn triggers the heat exchanger assembly 80, including the air intake fan 92 and circuit heat exchanger 100 to engage.

When in operation the heat exchanger assembly 80 draws in air 20. The heat exchanger assembly 80 can selectively heat the air 20, cool the air 20 or can leave the air 20 at the ambient temperature. The selectively heated or cooled air 20 a passes through the air supply tube 96, though the opening 56 in the channel layer 40 and into the channels 50. As the air 20 flows through the channels 50 some air escapes through the holes 62 in the scrim 60. The air pressure lowers as the air 20 moves through the channels 50 so the air 20 would tend to flow out faster through the first holes 62 it encounters if the holes are of equal size. To ensure an even distribution of airflow through all of the holes 62, the holes 62 a the air 20 first encounters can be smaller in size than the holes 62 b the air 20 encounters farther downstream. In addition, the width and/or depth of the channels may be varied to encourage constant air pressure through the channels. Properly tuned, the airflow through any one hole 62 a should be fairly equal to the airflow through any other hole 62 b. The air 20 is further diffused as it passes up though the comfort layer 70. This process diffuses the selectively heated or cooled air to provide even heating or cooling over the entire top side 72 of the comfort layer of the improved comfort product 10.

While the invention has been described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiment, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the disclosed embodiments but, on the contrary, is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims, which scope is to be accorded the broadest interpretation so as to encompass all such modifications and equivalent structures as is permitted under the law.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification5/726, 5/652.2
International ClassificationA47C21/04, A47C27/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47C21/044, A01K1/0353, A47C21/048
European ClassificationA47C21/04H, A47C21/04B2, A01K1/035B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jun 22, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: RIVERPARK INCORPORATED, A CORPORATION IN THE STATE
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BAHASH, LISA JANE;LIPSKI, MICHAEL RAYMOND;REEL/FRAME:015513/0128
Effective date: 20040610