Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20060054751 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/941,231
Publication dateMar 16, 2006
Filing dateSep 15, 2004
Priority dateSep 15, 2004
Publication number10941231, 941231, US 2006/0054751 A1, US 2006/054751 A1, US 20060054751 A1, US 20060054751A1, US 2006054751 A1, US 2006054751A1, US-A1-20060054751, US-A1-2006054751, US2006/0054751A1, US2006/054751A1, US20060054751 A1, US20060054751A1, US2006054751 A1, US2006054751A1
InventorsBrian Johnson, Gary Coonan
Original AssigneeJohnson Brian B, Gary Coonan
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation and method of using same
US 20060054751 A1
Abstract
Mobile computer workstations must be sufficiently large in order to be stable, but small enough to be easily maneuverable through a work place. A vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation of the present disclosure includes a pole rotatably attached to a base supported by a plurality of rotatable members. The pole includes a first arm rotatably attached to a second arm. A computer support is attached to the second arm and is moveable between a sitting user position and a standing user position, at least in part, by pivoting the arms of the pole with respect to one another and the moveable base.
Images(8)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(20)
1. A vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation, comprising:
a base supported by a plurality of rotatable members;
a pole being attached to the base and including a first arm connected to a second arm; and
the first and second arms including a rotational coupling being operable such that rotation of one of the first and second arms results in rotation of the other of the first and second arms, with respect to the base.
2. The vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation of claim 1 wherein the first arm being rotatably attached to the base.
3. The vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation of claim 1 including a neutral support mechanism operably coupled to at least one of the first arm and the second arm.
4. The vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation of claim 3 wherein the neutral support mechanism includes at least one pneumatic spring coupled between the base and the first arm.
5. The vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation of claim 1 including a head assembly including a computer support being attached to the second arm of the pole, the arms being operable to move the computer support between a sitting user position and a standing user position.
6. The vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation of claim 5 wherein the sitting user position and standing user position being a first and second distance from a center vertical line extending through the base, respectively; and
the first distance being greater than or equal to the second distance.
7. The vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation of claim 5 wherein the head assembly moves along a line between the standing user position and the sitting user position.
8. The vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation of claim 1 wherein rotational coupling includes the first arm being operably coupled to the second arm via at least one gear set.
9. The vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation of claim 8 wherein the first arm and the second arm include identical lengths, and the at least one gear set includes a gear ratio of 1:1.
10. The vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation of claim 1 wherein the pole includes a third arm, and the rotational coupling being operable such that rotation of one of the second and third arms results in a rotation of the other of the second and third arms.
11. The vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation of claim 1 including at least one computer workstation accessory positioned adjacent to a connector assembly connecting the second arm to the first arm.
12. The vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation of claim 1 wherein the base includes a stability enhancer including a weight being suspended from the base.
13. The vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation of claim 12 wherein the weight includes a battery;
the first arm being rotatably attached to the base;
the rotational coupling includes the first arm being operably coupled to the second arm via at least one gear set including a gear ratio of 1:1, and the first arm and the second arm include identical lengths;
at least one neutral support mechanism operably coupled between the moveable base and the first arm, and including at least one pneumatic spring;
a head assembly including a computer support being attached to the second arm of the pole, the arms being operable to rotate the computer support between a sitting user position and a standing user position along a line; and
at least one computer workstation accessory being positioned adjacent to a connector assembly connecting the second arm to the first arm.
14. A method of using the vertically-adjustable computer workstation of claim 1, comprising the steps of:
coupling a head assembly including a computer support to base via the pole, which has multiple arms that include the first and second arms coupled to rotate with one another; and
moving the computer support between a sitting user position and a standing user position, at least in part, by pivoting the first and second arms of the pole with respect to the base.
15. The method of claim 14 wherein the step of moving includes a step of moving the computer support along a line when moving between the sitting user position and the standing user position.
16. The method of claim 14 wherein the step of moving includes a step of moving the computer support away from a vertical line through a center of the base when moving from the standing user position to the sitting user position.
17. The method of claim 14 wherein the step of moving includes a step of controlling a rate of movement of the arms, at least in part, by setting a gear ratio of at least one gear set operably coupling the arms to one another.
18. The method of claim 14 including a step suspending a battery underneath the base.
19. A vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation, comprising:
a base supported by a plurality of rotatable members;
a pole being attached to the base and including a first arm connected to a second arm, and the first and second arms being rotatable with response to the base; and
at least one neutral support mechanism operably coupled between the base and the first arm.
20. The vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation of claim 19 wherein the neutral support mechanism includes at least one pneumatic spring;
a head assembly including a computer support being attached to the second arm of the pole and the arms being operable to move the computer support between a sitting user position and a standing user position along a line;
the first arm being rotatably attached to the base and operably coupled to the second arm via at least one gear set including a gear ratio of 1:1;
the first arm and the second arm including identical lengths; and
the base including a stability enhancer including a battery being suspended underneath the base.
Description
TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure relates generally to computer workstations, and more particularly to a vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation and a method of using same.

BACKGROUND

With the growing dependence on computers, mobile computer workstations have been developed so that employees have access to computers away from their desks or work stations. For instance, in hospitals, nurses or technicians can transport mobile computer workstations between patients' rooms while making their rounds, and thus, continually update patients' treatment records. However, unlike stationary computer workstations at which the user is generally sitting, the user of a mobile computer workstation may be either sitting or standing. Thus, in order to assure that the computer monitor to be comfortably used by either sitting or standing users, the computer workstation should be vertically-adjustable.

A mobile computer workstation described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,394,402 B2, issued to Coonan et al., on May 28, 2002, is vertically-adjustable between a sitting and a standing user position. A pole couples a computer support, to which a computer can be attached, to a wheeled base. The pole includes a first arm moveable attached to a stationary arm that is attached to the base. The computer support is attached to move with the moveable arm. The first arm moves about the stationary arm along an arc between the standing user position and the sitting user position. When in the standing position, the computer support, and an attached computer, is at a greater vertical distance from the base than when in the sitting user position. Thus, because the center of gravity of the workstation is higher in the standing user position, a workstation is generally less stable in the standing user position than in the sitting user position.

In order to increase stability in the standing user position, the Coonan workstation positions the computer support, and thus, the weight of the attached computer, close to a vertical line extending through the center of the base. Thus, when in the standing user position, the weight of a computer attached to the computer support is centered over the base, thereby increasing the stability of the workstation.

Although the vertically-adjustable computer workstation described above has been designed to increase stability in the standing user position, when in the sitting user position, the computer support, and an attached computer, is off center with the base. Because of the lopsided nature of the computer workstation when in the sitting user position, a larger base may be needed to stabilize the computer workstation. The larger base can make maneuvering the computer workstation through the work place and accessing the computer during operation more difficult.

The present disclosure is directed at overcoming one or more of the problems set forth above.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

In one aspect of the present disclosure, a vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation includes a pole attached to a base that is supported by a plurality of rotatable members. The pole includes a first arm that is connected to a second arm. The first and second arms include a rotational coupling that is operable such that rotation of one of the first and second arms results in rotation of the other of the first and second arms with respect to the base.

In another aspect of the present disclosure, a vertically-adjustable computer workstation is used by coupling a head assembly that includes a computer support to a moveable base via a pole with multiple arms at least two of which are coupled to rotate with one another. The computer support is moved between a sitting user position and a standing user position, at least in part, by pivoting the at least two arms of the pole with respect to the moveable base.

In yet another aspect of the present disclosure, a vertically-adjustable computer workstation includes a pole that is attached to a base supported by a plurality of rotatable members. The pole includes a first arm that is connected to a second arm. The first and second arms are rotatable with respect to the base. At least one neutral support mechanism is operably coupled between the base and the first arm.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a computer workstation with a computer support being in a standing user position, according to a preferred embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is a side sectioned side view of the computer workstation of FIG. 1 with the computer support being in a sitting user position;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged side sectioned side view of a rotational coupling of the computer workstation of FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic representation of a computer workstation, according to a first alternative embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 5 is an isometric view of a pole of a computer workstation, according to a second alternative embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic representation of a computer workstation, according to a third alternative embodiment of the present disclosure; and

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of a head assembly of a computer workstation, according to a fourth alternative embodiment of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation 10 with a computer support in a standing user position 20 b, according to the preferred embodiment of the present disclosure. The computer workstation 10 includes a base 12 to which a pole 13 is attached. The base 12 is supported by a plurality of rotatable members 14. Although the present disclosure contemplates the base being of various shapes, including star-shaped, and including any number of rotatable members, the base 12 is preferably rectangular and is supported by four rotatable members, each positioned at a corner of the rectangular base 12. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that between 3 and 6 rotatable members provides for a more stable computer workstation 10. However, too many or too large of rotatable members can limit the maneuverability of the workstation through the work place. The rotatable members 14 are illustrated as rollers, but could be any suitable support members, such as spherical rotatable supports. The rotatable members can, but need not necessarily, include a locking mechanism known in the art for temporarily locking the rotatable member 14 against rotation. The base 12 preferably includes a stability enhancer 15 that includes a weight being suspended from the base 12. The weight is suspended underneath the base 12 in order to lower the center of gravity of the workstation 10. Although the weight can vary, the weight preferably includes a battery 16. Thus, the stability enhancer 15 is preferably a storage compartment for the battery 16 that not only increases the stability of the workstation 10 by lowering the center of gravity of the computer workstation 10, but also provides battery storage, reducing or eliminating the need for cumbersome power cords. The battery 16 can be electronically connected to a laptop type computer or in the case of a traditional computer, the monitor or the keyboard in any conventional manner, such as via a power cord concealed in pole 13.

The pole 13 includes a first arm 11 that is rotatably attached to a second arm 17 via a connector assembly 36. The first and second arms 11 and 17 include a rotational coupling 18 (shown in detail in FIG. 3) that is operable such that rotation of one of the first and second arms 11 and 17 results in rotation of the other of the first and second arms 11 and 17. Preferably, the computer workstation 10 includes at least one computer workstation accessory 39, such as the illustrated retractable power cord reel, adjacent to the connector assembly 36, and attached to a casing 33 that has a fixed horizontal orientation and surrounds the connector assembly 36. It should be appreciated that the casing 33 around the connector assembly 36 could provide a storage area for various other computer work station accessories, such as a mouse or a basket.

Each arm 11 and 17 preferably includes an inner longitudinal segment 11 a and 17 a that is partially positioned within an outer longitudinal segment 11 b and 17 b. Each inner segment 11 a and 17 a is the same length as the corresponding outer segment 11 b and 17 b. The inner segment 11 a and the outer segment 11 b of the first arm 11 are rotabaly attached to the base 12 via a first pair of pivotjoints 38 a and 38 b, respectively. A computer support 20 (shown in FIG. 2) of a head assembly 19 is attached to the inner segment 17 a and the outer segment 17 b of the second arm 17 via a second pair of pivot joints 50 a and 50 b (shown in FIG. 2), respectively. The arms 11 and 17 are operable to move the computer support 20 between a sitting user position 20 a (shown in FIG. 2) and the standing user position 20 b (as illustrated in FIG. 1). The standing user position 20 b is to accommodate a standing computer user, and the sitting user position 20 a is to accommodate a sitting computer user. Thus, the computer support 20 in the standing user position 20 b is at a greater vertical distance from the base 12 than the computer support 20 in the sitting user position 20 a.

The illustrated head assembly 19 is adapted for a laptop computer and includes one drawer 23 and a handle 37 that can be used for pulling the workstation from place to place and for vertical adjustment of the workstation 10. The head assembly 19 includes a platform 21 on which a computer keyboard portion can be positioned and an adjustable monitor rest 22 on which a computer monitor portion can rest. The monitor rest 22 is attached to the platform 21 in a manner that allows the orientation of the monitor portion of the laptop computer to be adjusted to a desired viewing position and stabilize the computer on the workstation 10. When not in use, the monitor rest 22 can also be move to a closed position and locked in order to prevent unwanted removal of the computer. The present invention contemplates various sizes of head assemblies to fit various sizes of computers and head assemblies including more than one platform to provide more work space. It should be appreciated that the head assembly 19 could include various accessories, such as a recessed keyboard platform and additional drawers. In addition, head assemblies that are adapted to fit cathode ray tube style computer monitors and flat screen monitor computers could be attached to the pole 13.

Referring to FIG. 2, there is shown a cross-sectioned side view of the computer workstation 10 with the computer support 20 in the sitting user position 20 a. It should be appreciated that FIG. 2 illustrates the computer workstation 10 without the head assembly 19 attached to the pole 13 via the computer support 20. A neutral support mechanism 25 is operably coupled between the base 12 and the first arm 11, and allows the computer support 20 to be positioned at any desired distance between a pre-set maximum and minimum above the base 12. The neutral support mechanism 25 preferably uses an internal force producing device and friction to allow the computer workstation 10 to be continuously stoppable between the pre-set maximum and minimum distances. While the present disclosure has been illustrated utilizing a continuously stoppable device, it should be appreciated that the support device could alternatively be a detented device, or other device, that would allow the first arm 11 to stop at a plurality of preset vertical positions between the maximum and minimum distance from the base 12. Further, the present disclosure contemplates at least one additional neutral support mechanism being coupled between the first arm 11 and the second arm 17. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that a computer workstation with a neutral support mechanism for both arms 17 and 11 would not require the rotational coupling 18 between the arms 11 and 17. Each neutral support mechanism could be adjusted to establish the force required to move each arm.

The neutral support mechanism 25 preferably includes two pneumatic springs 26 (only one spring shown) positioned adjacent to one another and coupled between the base 12 and the first arm 11. However, the present disclosure contemplates any number of pneumatic springs, including only one, and the spring being a hydraulic spring or any adjustable force producing device. Each pneumatic spring 26 includes a rod 27 and a cylinder 30. The rod 27 includes a first end positioned within the cylinder 30 and a second end attached to the base 12. The rod 27 and the cylinder 30 are capable of producing a force proportional to the distance that the rod 27 is moved with regard to the cylinder 30. The amount of force that the neutral support mechanism 25 will produce can be adjusted by a threaded member 28 coupled to the rod 27 by a nut 29. The horizontal position of the nut 29 on the threaded member 28 determines the amount of rod 27 unexposed by the cylinder 30, and thus, the amount of force produced. The nut 27 can be moved horizontally between a first and second stop 31 a and 31 b by twisting a head of the threaded member 28. The position of the nut 29 illustrated in FIG. 2 allows a relatively large length of the rod 27 to be outside of the cylinder 30, thus, producing less force. The illustrated orientation of the nut 29 is against the first stop 31 a and corresponds to the desired force to support a relatively light laptop computer that would be attached to head assembly 19. However, in order to support a relatively heavy traditional computer, the nut 29 would be moved to a horizontal position closer to the second stop 31 b, thus creating more force. In other words, the movement of the nut 29 can change the torsional load of the arm 116 to correspond with the varying head load size. Although there is movement of the rod 27 within cylinder 30 once the nut 29 is adjusted and fixed on the threaded member 2 due to the force created by the vertical movement of the computer support 20, the movement of the rod 27 is minimal. Moreover, as the computer support 20 moves vertically downward, an angle of separation between a vertical center line 24 and the pneumatic spring 26 increases, causing the force within the cylinder to be directed at an angle rather than vertically. Thus, the angular orientation of the pneumatic spring 26 may compensate for the minimal increase in force within the cylinder 30. The neutral support mechanism 25 will produce a relatively constant bias regardless of the vertical or horizontal position of the computer attached to the head assembly 19 that is preferably set to match the weight of the computer being supported.

Referring still to FIG. 2, the rotational coupling 18 includes a connector plate 43 to which the first arm 11 and the second arm 17 are rotatably attached via a third pair of pivot joints 40 a and 40 b and fourth pair of pivot joints 41 a and 41 b, respectively. The inner segment 11 a and the outer segment 11 b of the first arm 11 are rotatably attached to the connector plate 43 via the third pair of joints 40 a and 40 b, respectively. The inner segment 17 a and the outer segment 17 b of the second arm 17 are rotatably attached to the connector plate 43 via the fourth pair of pivot joints 41 a and 41 b, respectively. For purposes of this discussion, the length (L1) of the first arm 11 is the distance between the first pivot joint 38 b and the third pivot joint 40 b. The length (L2) of the second arm 17 is the distance the fourth pivot joint 41 b and the second pivot joint 50 b. The length (L1) of the first arm 11 and the length (L2) of the second arm 17 are preferably identical.

The computer support 20 moves along a line between the standing user position 20 b and the sitting user position 20 a. In the illustrated embodiment, the line is the vertical center line 24 extending through the base 12. By moving the computer support 20 along the vertical center line 24, the majority of the weight on the computer workstation 10 is kept over the center of the computer workstation 10, thereby increasing the stability of the station 10. In order to maintain a fixed horizontal position of the computer support 20 and the connector plate 43, despite the rotation of the arms 11 and 17, the orientation of the pivot joints with one another remain constant except for the orientation of cross pivot joints. Specifically, the distance between second pivot joint 50 a and fourth pivot joint 41 b, the distance between second pivot joint 50 b and fourth pivot joint 41 a, the distance between first pivot joint 38 a and third pivot joint 40 b, and the distance between first pivot joint 36 b and third pivot joint 40 a decrease as the computer support 20 moves toward the sitting user position 20 a and increase as the computer support 20 moves toward the standing user position 20 b. These varying cross-distances allows the computer support 20 supporting the head assembly 19 to be attached to the second arm 17 and maintain a horizontal orientation regardless of the movement of the second arm 17. It should be appreciated that the present invention contemplates other methods of maintaining the horizontal positioning of the computer support 20. For instance, each arm need not be segmented if the computer support is attached to the second arm via a rotational coupling similar to the coupling 18 connecting the arms to one another, or possibly a user adjustable rotational attachment.

Referring to FIG. 3, there is shown an enlarged cross-sectioned side view of the rotational coupling 18 of the computer workstation 10 of FIG. 2. The rotational coupling 18 preferably couples the first arm 11 to the second arm 17 via at lest one gear set 32. It should be appreciated that the rotational coupling could include couplings other than the gear set, including, but not limited to, a cam-bar mechanism and/or a cable and pulley system. Preferably, the arm lengths (L1) and (L2) are identical and the gear set 32 includes a gear ratio of 1:1. Thus, when the first and second arms 11 and 17 move with one another, the arms 11 and 17 move at the same rate and along the center vertical line 24 (shown in Figures 1 and 2). Because the computer support 20 moves along the center vertical line 24, the majority of the weight on the computer workstation 10 is centered over the base 12, and thus, the spring force needed within the neutral support mechanism 25 is preferably equal to the weight being supported by the workstation 10. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that by varying the gear ratio and the proportionality of the arms lengths L1 and L2, one arm 11 or 17 can be made to move at a faster rate than the other arm 11 or 17 along the center vertical line 24. For instance, by altering the gear ratio of the second arm 17 to the first arm 11 from 1:1 to 1:2, the second arm 17 will more faster than the first arm 11. In order to maintain the movement of the second arm 17 along the center vertical line 24 despite the faster rate, the length L2 of the second arm 17 can be made shorter than the length L1 of the first arm 11.

Referring to FIG. 4, there is shown a diagrammatic representation of a computer workstation 110, according to a first alternative embodiment of the present disclosure. Similar to the preferred embodiment, the first and second arms 11 and 17 of the first alternative embodiment are coupled to one another via a gear set 132. While the arm lengths L1 and L2 remain identical, the gear set 132 includes a gear ratio less than 1:1, such as 1:2, causing the second arm 17 to move at a larger rate than the first arm 11. Because the arm lengths L1 and L2 are identical, the faster moving second arm 17 will move along a slanted line 144, or possibly on are, between the standing user position 20 b and a sitting user position 120 a. The sitting user position 120 a, illustrated as the shadowed position, and the standing user position 20 b are at a first distance D1 and second distance D2 from the center vertical line 24 extending through the base 12, respectively. The first distance D1 is greater than the second distance D2. In the illustrated embodiment, the computer support 20 is aligned with the vertical line 24 when in the standing user position 20 b, and thus, D2 is generally zero. Thus, the center of gravity of the workstation 110 remains along the center vertical line 24 while in the standing user position 20 b, but is off-center in the sitting user position 120 a. The off-center sitting user position 120 a allows the computer operator to pull the head assembly 19 closer to the operator and provides foot room underneath the computer support 20 for the operator's convenience and comfort. As with the preferred embodiment, the pneumatic springs 26 will allow the computer support 20 to stop at any position between the pre-set maximum and minimum heights. However, the position of the rod 27 within the cylinder 30 may need to be adjusted in order to create a greater force within the pneumatic cylinder 30 to compensate for the off-centered weight of the computer support 20, and attached computer, when in the sitting user position 120 a.

Referring to FIG. 5, there is shown an isometric view of a pole 213 of a computer work station, according to a second alternative embodiment of the present disclosure. Similar to the preferred embodiment, the pole 213 includes a first arm 211 rotatably attached to the base 12, and a second arm 217 rotatably attached to the first arm 211 via the rotational coupling 18. Although the rotational coupling 18 is illustrated as including the gear set 32 with the 1:1 gear ratio, it should be appreciated that the rotational coupling could include other types of couplings, such as a cam-bar mechanism, and include different gear ratios. Unlike the previously discussed embodiments, the pole 213 includes a third arm 234 and a second rotational coupling 245 that operably connects the second arm 217 to move with the third arm 234. The pole 213 also includes a fourth arm 244 and a third rotational coupling 246 that operably connects the third arm 234 to move with the fourth arm 247. The arms 211, 217, 244 and 247 are preferably segmented similar to arms 11 and 17. The computer support 20 is attached to the fourth arm 247 via the second pivot joints 50 a and 50 b. The second rotational coupling 245 is operable such that rotation of one of the second and third arms 217 and 234 results in a rotation of the other of the second and third arms 217 and 234. The third rotational coupling 246 is operable such that the rotation of one of the third and fourth arms 234 and 247 results in rotation of the other of the third and fourth arms 234 and 246. Although not necessary, the second and third rotational coupling 245 and 246 also preferably include gear sets (not shown) with a 1:1 ratio. Similar to the first rotational coupling 18, the gear ratio of the gear sets of the second and/or third rotational couplings 245 and 246 can be altered in order to affect the rate and direction of the movement of the coupled arms 234 and 217 or 234 and 247, respectively.

The present disclosure contemplates any number of arms being rotatably connected to one another similar to the arms 211, 217, 234 and 247. Similar to poles 13 and 113 in the preferred and first alternative embodiments, pole 213 should be sufficiently long to accommodate standing users of any height, but as short as possible to lower the center of gravity and increase stability of the computer workstation. Generally, the more arms included within the length of the pole, the smaller the length of the arms. Thus, arms 217, 211, 234 and 247 are shorter than arms 11 and 17. The rotational couplings 18, 245, 246 coupling the shorter arms 217, 211, 234 and 247 to one another will remain closer to the center vertical line 24 than the rotational coupling 18 coupling the longer arms 17 and 11 of the other embodiments to one another when the computer support 20 is in the sitting user position. The rotational couplings 18, 245, 246 may not even extend beyond the perimeter of the base 12. The compact nature of the pole 213 increases the ease with which the workstation 210 can be maneuvered while the computer support 20 is in the sitting user position 20 a. Moreover, the compact nature of the pole 213 keeps the arm mass centered over the base 12, which also improves stability. This compactness also allows the pole to avoid impacts with surrounding objects, such as a hospital bed, even when the base is partially under the bed.

Referring to FIG. 6, there is shown a schematic representation of a computer workstation 310, according to a third alternative embodiment of the present disclosure. The computer workstation 310 includes pole 313 that includes an attachment arm 349 fixedly attached to the base 12. Rather than the first arm 11 being rotatably attached to the base 12, as shown in FIG. 1-2, the first arm 11 is rotatably attached to the attachment arm 349. Although the first arm 11 is not rotatably attached to the base 12, it should be appreciated that the first and second arm 11 and 17 still rotate with respect to the base 12 as in the previous embodiments. Although the pole 313 is illustrated as including only one arm 349 between the rotatable arms 11 and 17 and the base 12, the present invention contemplates any number and size of arms fixedly attached between the base or head assembly and the rotatable arms. Moreover, it should be appreciated that there could be more than two rotatable arms between the attachment arm 349 and the computer support 20.

Referring to FIG. 7, there is shown an isometric view of a head assembly 419 of a computer workstation, according to a sixth alternative embodiment of the present disclosure. The head assembly 419 is similar to head assembly 19 except that the head assembly 419 is adapted for a traditional computer with a flat screen monitor rather than a laptop type computer. Thus, instead of the monitor rest 22, the head assembly 419 includes a monitor attachment portion 448 to which a flat screen monitor can be attached. The monitor attachment portion 448 is illustrated as fixedly attached to the platform 21. Like the head assembly 19, the head assembly 419 includes the platform 21 for the keyboard, the drawer 23 and the handle 37. Also, like the head assembly 19, the head assembly 419 can be attached to the computer support 20 of any of the illustrated embodiments. Thus, the head assembly 419 can be coupled to the pole 213 with more than two arms, the pole 113 with the second arm 17 moving at a different rate than the first arm 11 and along the slanted line 144, or the pole 313 with the attachment arm 349. The head assembly 419 could include various accessories, including but not limited to, an additional drawer, a recessed platform or an additional platform from more workspace. Moreover, the head assembly 419 can be of various sizes for various sized computers.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

Referring to FIGS. 1-7, a method of using the vertically-adjustable mobile computer workstation 10, 110, 310 will be discussed. In all embodiments, the head assembly 19, 419 that includes the computer support 20 is coupled to the moveable base 12 via a pole 13, 113, 213, 313 with multiple arms 11, 17 or 211, 217, 234 and 247 coupled to rotate with one another and the base 12. Thus, a laptop computer can be attached to the head assembly 19 shown in FIG. 1 or a flat screen monitor computer can be attached to head assembly 419 shown in FIG. 7, and transported throughout a workplace. For instance, a nurse can take the computer workstation 10 or 110 on the nurse's rounds to different patients' rooms. When transporting the computer workstation 10, 110, 310, the computer support 20 will generally be in the standing user position 20 b because the computer workstation 10, 110 is more compact in the standing user position 20 b, and therefore, easier to maneuver through the work place. Because the computer support 20, and the attached computer, when in the standing user position 20 b are generally aligned with the center vertical line 24 extending through the base 12, the majority of the weight is centered over the base 12, increasing the stability of the computer workstation 10, 110, 310 during transportation.

When the computer operator wants to use the computer, the operator can either keep the computer support 20 in the standing user position 20 b or move the computer support 20, and attached computer, from the standing user position 20 b to the sitting user position 20 a, 120 a by pivoting the arms 11 and 17 or 211, 217, 234 and 247 of the pole 13, 113, 213, 313 with respect to one another and the moveable base 12. Although the arm 11 is not attached to the base 12 in the fifth alternative embodiment, the arms 11 and 17 still rotate with respect to the orientation of the base 12 to the arms 11 and 17.

Referring specifically to FIGS. 1-3, according to the preferred embodiment, when the operator applies force to the handle 37 in order to lower the computer support 20 to the sitting user position 20 a, the force acting on the arms 11 and 17 will overcome the force within the pneumatic cylinder 30, allowing the second arm 17 to move. Because the first arm 11 is coupled to rotate with the second arm 17, the second arm will also move. Because, in the preferred embodiment, the gear ratio of the gear set 32 is 1:1 and the arm lengths L1 and L2 are identical, the second arm 17 will pivot about the first arm 11 and the first arm 11 will pivot about the base 12 at the same rate, causing the computer support 20 with the attached computer to move along the center vertical line 24. As the computer support 20 with the computer moves downward, the computer remains over the center of the base 12, increasing stability of the workstation 10. The increased stability from centering the weight over the base 12 allows the computer workstation 10 to be supported by the relatively small base 12. The smaller the base, the easier the computer workstation 10 is to maneuver through the workplace. Moreover, as the arms 11 and 17 rotate, the computer support 20 and attached computer remain in the fixed horizontal position because of the segmented arms 11 and 17. As the computer support 20 moves downward, the inner segments 11 a and 17 a can, at least partially, slide within the outer segments 11 b and 17 b.

When the operator determines that the computer support 20 with the attached computer has reached the desired sitting user position 20 a, the operator can release the handle 37. The weight of the computer is balanced by the force within the pneumatic cylinder 30 and the computer support 20 and computer will stop in the desired sitting user position 20 a. Because the position of the rod 27 within the pneumatic cylinder 30 was preferably pre-set such that the force within the pneumatic cylinder 30 counteracted the weight of the laptop computer, the computer support 20 will remain in the desired sitting user position 20 b. The operator can work on the computer without the computer continuing to advance downward.

Referring specifically to FIG. 4, according to the first alternative embodiment, when the operator moves the computer support 20 from the standing user position 20 b to the sitting user position 120 a, the computer support 20 is moved away from the center vertical line 24. Because the first arm 11 is coupled to the second arm 17 via the gear set 132 with a ratio less that 1:1, the second arm 17 will move at a faster rate than the first arm 11, causing the second arm 17 to move along the slanted line 144 towards the operator. When the operator determines that the computer support 20 with the computer is at the desired sitting operator position 120 a, the operator can release the handle 37 and the computer support 20 with the computer will stay in the desired position due to the force within the pneumatic cylinder 30 counteracting the weight of the computer. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the pneumatic springs 26 could be set such that the force within the cylinder 30 counteracts the weight of the computer and compensates for the weight of the computer being off-center when the computer support 20 is in the sitting user position 120 a. When in the sitting user position 120 a, the computer is closer to the operator than the computer is when in the standing user position 20 b, thus providing the operator with leg room while operating the computer.

Referring specifically to FIG. 5, in the second alternative embodiment, the computer support 20 moves along the center vertical line 24 between the standing user position 20 b and the sitting user position 20 a similar to the preferred embodiment. However, it should be appreciated that the present invention contemplates the computer support 20 attached to pole 213 moving along an arc, or possibly a slanted line like the computer workstation 110 in the first alternative embodiment. In order to move the computer support 20 along the slanted line, the gear ratio of, at least, the third rotational coupling 246 would be adjusted so that the fourth arm 247 would move faster than the other arms 234, 217 and 211. In the illustrated third alternative embodiment, when the computer operator applies force to the handle 37, the fourth arm 247 will pivot about the third arm 234, the third arm 234 will pivot about the second arm 217, and the second arm 217 will pivot about the first arm 211. The first arm 211 will pivot about the base 12. Because the lengths of the arms 211, 217, 234 and 247 are less than the lengths L1 and L2 of the arms 11 and 17 of the preferred embodiment, the pole 213 will be more compact when the computer support 20 is in the sitting user position 20 a than pole 13. In fact, the present invention contemplates the rotational couplings 18, 245 and 246 not extending beyond the perimeter of the base 12. Thus, the computer operator can move the computer support 20 and attached computer into the sitting user position 20 a without concern of any of the arms 211, 217, 234 and 247 contacting other objects, such as walls or furniture.

In all of the illustrated embodiments, the rate of movement of the arms 11 and 17 or 211, 217, 234 and 247 is controlled by setting the gear ratio of the gear set 32, 132 operably coupling the arms to one another. In order to maintain the movement of the computer support 20 along the vertical or slanted line 24 or 144, the arm length of the faster arm can be shortened or the arm length of the slower arm can be increased.

Further, in all illustrated embodiments, the battery 16 is suspended underneath the base 12. Not only does the battery 16 eliminate the need for a power cord which can be in annoyance to the operator during transportation of the computer workstation 10, 110, 310, the battery 16 also acts as the stability enhancer 15. The battery 16 below the base 12 lowers the center of gravity, which in return, increases the stability of the computer workstation 10, 110, 310.

The present disclosure is advantageous because it provides a compact mobile computer workstation 10, 110, 310 that is relatively easy to maneuver through the work place without compromising the stability of the workstation 10, 110, 310. By moving the computer support 20 with the attached computer along the vertical center line 24, the weight of the computer is centered over the base 12. In all embodiments, the computer is centered over the base 12 when in the most unstable position, the standing user position 20 b. But, in the preferred embodiment, the computer is center over the base 20 even when in the sitting user position 20 a. Further, by suspending the battery 16 below the base, the center of gravity of the workstation 10, 110, 310 is lowered. By centering the weight and lowering the center of gravity, the computer workstation 10, 110, 310 is made more stable, and thus, can be supported by a relatively small base 12. The relatively small base 12 allows the computer workstation 10, 110, 310 to be moved about the work place with relative ease. In the illustrated embodiments, the base 12 is less than eighteen inches in diameter.

Moreover, the computer workstation can be made even more compact by separating the pole 213 into more than two rotatably attached arms. The more arms rotating about pivot joints, the shorter the arms and the distance between pivot joints. Thus, there is little, if any, overhang of the arms 211, 217, 234 and 247 outside the perimeter of the base 12. The computer workstation can be moved into the sitting user position without the concern of the arms contacting furniture and walls.

The computer workstation 10, 110, 310 is advantageous because the operators of various sizes can use the workstation 10, 110, 310 comfortably. Each operator can determine the height of the sitting user position 20 a, 120 a and standing user position 20 b most comfortable for the operator. The computer will remain in the desired position due to the neutral stop mechanism 25. The neutral stop mechanism 25 can be set in order to counteract the weight of various types and sizes of computers. Further, in the first alternative embodiment, the operator can pull the computer closer to the operator and use the room underneath the overhanging computer for leg room.

It should be understood that the above description is intended for illustrative purposes only, and is not intended to limit the scope of the present invention in any way. Thus, those skilled in the art will appreciate that other aspects, objects, and advantages of the invention can be obtained from a study of the drawings, the disclosure and the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7532463 *Jun 20, 2007May 12, 2009Jacobs Carl VMoveable platform for a laptop computer
US7584933 *Jan 6, 2006Sep 8, 2009Qisda CorporationAdjustable lift support apparatus
US7983035 *Sep 7, 2010Jul 19, 2011Shao-Chieh TingSliding table of a tablet personal computer
US8043349 *Feb 4, 2008Oct 25, 2011Medtek Lighting CorporationConfigurable phototherapy device
US8359982 *Aug 10, 2009Jan 29, 2013Martin LebelSelf-stowing support table with articulating arm
US8438979 *Mar 18, 2009May 14, 2013Medison Co., Ltd.Medical instrument
US8726814 *Feb 3, 2010May 20, 2014Salvatore MatteoConvertible workstation
US20100000447 *Mar 18, 2009Jan 7, 2010Medison Co., Ltd.Medical instrument
US20100275821 *Aug 10, 2009Nov 4, 2010Martin LebelSelf-stowing support table with articulating arm
US20110304967 *Oct 6, 2010Dec 15, 2011Mou-Ming MaComputer system and base thereof
US20110304975 *Oct 7, 2010Dec 15, 2011Mou-Ming MaComputer system and base thereof
US20120320513 *Jun 15, 2011Dec 20, 2012Cuong Huy TruongMonitor stand assembly
US20130170119 *Dec 27, 2012Jul 4, 2013Pegatron CorporationElectronic apparatus
US20130320160 *Mar 13, 2013Dec 5, 2013Wistron CorporationAdjustable supporting device
WO2011151437A1 *Jun 3, 2011Dec 8, 2011Universite Pierre Et Marie Curie (Paris 6)Intelligent support for an object
WO2013083924A1 *Dec 6, 2012Jun 13, 2013ArchosMotorized support for touch-sensitive tablet
Classifications
U.S. Classification248/123.11, 248/280.11, 248/919
International ClassificationA47F5/00
Cooperative ClassificationF16M11/04, F16M2200/063, F16M11/42, F16M11/2092, A47B9/00, F16M2200/044, F16M11/2021, F16M11/38, F16M11/24, F16M13/00, F16M2200/024
European ClassificationF16M13/00, F16M11/38, F16M11/20C, F16M11/20A2, F16M11/42, F16M11/24, F16M11/04, A47B9/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Sep 15, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: STINGER INDUSTRIES, TENNESSEE
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:JOHNSON, BRIAN B.;COONAN, GARY;REEL/FRAME:015804/0404
Effective date: 20040913
May 1, 2009ASAssignment
Owner name: M & F BUSINESS CREDIT, INC., TENNESSEE
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNORS:STINGER INDUSTRIES, LLC;COONAN, GARY M.;REEL/FRAME:022619/0973
Effective date: 20090501
Aug 3, 2012ASAssignment
Owner name: COONAN, GARY M., TENNESSEE
Effective date: 20120802
Free format text: RELEASE BY SECURED PARTY;ASSIGNOR:M & F BUSINESS CREDIT, INC.;REEL/FRAME:028716/0897
Free format text: RELEASE BY SECURED PARTY;ASSIGNOR:M & F BUSINESS CREDIT, INC.;REEL/FRAME:028716/0897
Effective date: 20120802
Owner name: STINGER INDUSTRIES, LLC, TENNESSEE