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Publication numberUS20060061149 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/903,423
Publication dateMar 23, 2006
Filing dateJul 30, 2004
Priority dateJul 30, 2004
Publication number10903423, 903423, US 2006/0061149 A1, US 2006/061149 A1, US 20060061149 A1, US 20060061149A1, US 2006061149 A1, US 2006061149A1, US-A1-20060061149, US-A1-2006061149, US2006/0061149A1, US2006/061149A1, US20060061149 A1, US20060061149A1, US2006061149 A1, US2006061149A1
InventorsIng-Jye Tsai
Original AssigneeTsai Ing-Jye J
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Self-leveling tablet mechanism for a chair
US 20060061149 A1
Abstract
A self-leveling mechanism for an article mounted to a chair is disclosed. The chair has an arm member movable from a first position to a second position that is reclined with respect to the first position. The article has an upper surface having an angular relationship with respect to the support surface on which the chair rests. The mechanism includes a pivot member that mounts the article to the movable arm member of the chair. The movable arm member pivots with respect to the pivot member to keep the angular relationship between the support surface and an upper surface of the article the same without manual adjustment of the pivot member by a user when the movable arm member is moved from the first position to the second position. The mechanism can maintain items on a tablet mounted to the armrest during reclining action by keeping the tablet horizontal.
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Claims(20)
1. A chair comprising:
a base for supporting the chair on a support surface;
a seat supported by the base;
an arm member supported by and movable with respect to the base, the arm member being movable from a first position to a second position, the second position being reclined with respect to the first position;
an article mounted to the arm member, the article having an upper surface, the upper surface of the article having an angular relationship with respect to the support surface; and
leveling means attached to the article, the leveling means keeping the angular relationship between the support surface and the upper surface of the article the same without manual adjustment when the movable arm member is in the first position or the second position.
2. The chair of claim 1 wherein:
the article is a tablet.
3. The chair of claim 1 wherein:
the leveling means comprises a pivot member that mounts the article to the movable arm member, the movable arm member pivoting with respect to the pivot member to keep the angular relationship between the support surface and the upper surface of the article the same when the movable arm member is moved from the first position to the second position.
4. The chair of claim 3 wherein:
the pivot member has a hollow upper end, and
the article is mounted to the pivot member by a pin inserted in the upper end of the pivot member.
5. The chair of claim 4 wherein:
the article is mounted to the pivot member by a pin inserted in a socket mounted in the upper end of the pivot member, and
the socket extends through a top surface of the movable arm member.
6. The chair of claim 3 wherein:
the leveling means further comprises a linkage and a rotatable disc, the linkage being attached to the disc and to a bottom end of the pivot member, the disc moving the linkage in a direction away from the bottom end of the pivot member such that the movable arm member pivots with respect to the pivot member.
7. The chair of claim 6 wherein:
the leveling means further comprises a stop that limits motion of the linkage in a direction away from the rotatable disc when the movable arm member is in the first position.
8. The chair of claim 3 wherein:
the pivot member has at least one outwardly extending pin that rests on an upper surface of a frame member of the movable arm member such that the movable arm member pivots with respect to the pivot member.
9. A self-leveling mechanism for an article mounted to a chair that rests on a support surface, the chair having an arm member movable from a first position to a second position, the second position being reclined with respect to the first position, the article having an upper surface having an angular relationship with respect to the support surface, the mechanism comprising:
a pivot member that mounts the article to the movable arm member of the chair, the movable arm member pivoting with respect to the pivot member to keep the angular relationship between the support surface and an upper surface of the article the same without manual adjustment of the pivot member when the movable arm member is moved from the first position to the second position.
10. The mechanism of claim 9 wherein:
the pivot member has a hollow upper end, and the article is mounted to the pivot member by a pin inserted in the upper end of the pivot member.
11. The mechanism of claim 10 wherein the pivot member extends through a top surface of the movable arm member.
12. The mechanism of claim 9 further comprising:
a linkage and a rotatable disc, the linkage being attached to the disc and to a bottom end of the pivot member, the disc moving the linkage in a direction away from the bottom end of the pivot member such that the movable arm member pivots with respect to the pivot member.
13. The mechanism of claim 12 further comprising:
a stop that limits motion of the linkage in a direction away from the rotatable disc when the movable arm member is in the first position.
14. The mechanism of claim 9 wherein:
the pivot member has at least one outwardly extending pin that rests on an upper surface of a frame member of the movable arm member such that the movable arm member pivots with respect to the pivot member.
15. A chair comprising:
a base for supporting the chair on a support surface;
a seat supported by the base;
an arm member supported by and movable with respect to the base, the arm member being movable from a first position to a second position, the second position being reclined with respect to the first position;
a tablet mounted on the chair, the tablet having an upper surface having an angular relationship with respect to the support surface; and
leveling means for keeping the angular relationship between the support surface and the upper surface of the tablet the same without manual adjustment when the movable arm member is in the first position or the second position.
16. The chair of claim 15 wherein:
the leveling means comprises a pivot member that mounts the tablet to the chair, the pivot member pivoting to keep the angular relationship between the support surface and the upper surface of the tablet the same when the movable arm member is moved from the first position to the second position.
17. The chair of claim 16 wherein:
the pivot member has a hollow upper end, and
the tablet is mounted to the pivot member by a pin inserted in the upper end of the pivot member.
18. The chair of claim 17 wherein:
the tablet is mounted to the pivot member by a pin inserted in a socket mounted in the upper end of the pivot member.
19. The chair of claim 18 wherein:
the socket extends through a top surface of the movable arm member.
20. The chair of claim 16 wherein:
the leveling means further comprises a linkage and a rotatable disc, the linkage being attached to the disc and to a bottom end of the pivot member, the disc moving the linkage in a direction away from the bottom end of the pivot member rotating such that the movable arm member pivots with respect to the pivot member.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not Applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a self-leveling mechanism for an article mounted to a chair, and more particularly to a self-leveling mechanism for a tablet mounted to a reclining arm of a reclining chair.

2. Description of the Related Art

It is known that articles such as writing tablets can be mounted to a chair. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,412,862 describes a device for supporting a tablet via an armrest including a mounting socket that is firmly mounted to the armrest and a tablet with a pin that is inserted in the socket where the tablet can be removed by removing the pin from the socket. However, when such devices are used with a chair having a reclining armrest, the materials resting on the tablet surface fall off the tablet due to tilting of the tablet during reclining.

The use of a manually adjustable tablet is one solution to this problem. For instance, U.S. Pat. No. 5,765,911 teaches an adjustable positioning system for chair-mounted tables where the table may be manually rotated by a user about a horizontal line by way of angle support using a support brake. However, the positioning of the table must be adjusted by the user who must manually place the table in a level position. Such manual positioning of the table may be difficult for older users or those in a healthcare setting.

Therefore, there is a need for a self-leveling tablet mechanism such that users may recline furniture with tablets and not lose the materials on the tablet surface due to tilting of the tablet. Such a mechanism would keep a tablet level as a chair arm changes position during the reclining function.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The foregoing need is addressed by the present invention that provides a self leveling tablet mechanism for use with a recliner wherein a tablet mounted to the recliner maintains a top surface parallel to a recliner supporting surface (typically a horizontal floor surface) despite different positions of the recliner and more specifically the recliner arm during reclining action. In this regard, to increase the comfort of a person reclining in a chair it is desirable to have armrests tip or tilt backward as the chair reclines. However, to maintain items on a table top or tablet mounted to the armrest during reclining action, the tablet top should/must remain horizontal. The present invention addresses this need.

In one aspect, the invention provides a chair including a base for supporting the chair on a support surface, a seat supported by the base, and an arm member supported by and movable with respect to the base. The arm member is movable from a first position to a second position that is reclined with respect to the first position. An article (e.g., a tablet) is mounted to the arm member. The article has an upper surface. The upper surface of the article has an angular relationship with respect to the support surface. Typically, the upper surface of the article is horizontal and is parallel to the support surface, that is, the angular relationship of the upper surface of the article is at 0 degrees with respect to the support surface. However, any angular relationship is possible.

The invention includes leveling means attached to the article. The leveling means keeps the angular relationship between the support surface and the upper surface of the article the same without manual adjustment by a user when the movable arm member is in the first position or the second position. Thus, in one form, the leveling means can maintain items on a tablet mounted to the armrest during reclining action of the armrest by keeping the top surface of the tablet horizontal.

The leveling means may include a pivot member that mounts the article to the movable arm member such that the movable arm member pivots with respect to the pivot member to keep the angular relationship between the support surface and the upper surface of the article the same when the movable arm member is moved from the first position to the second position. In one form, the pivot member has a hollow upper end, and the article is mounted to the pivot member by a pin inserted in the upper end of the pivot member. In another form, the article is mounted to the pivot member by a pin inserted in a socket mounted in the upper end of the pivot member, and the socket extends through a top surface of the movable arm member. The pivot member may have one or more outwardly extending pins that rest on an upper surface of a frame member of the movable arm member such that the movable arm member pivots with respect to the pivot member.

The leveling means may further include a linkage and a rotatable disc. The linkage is attached to the disc and to a bottom end of the pivot member. The disc moves the linkage in a direction away from the bottom end of the pivot member such that the movable arm member pivots with respect to the pivot member. The leveling means may further include a stop that limits motion of the linkage in a direction away from the rotatable disc when the movable arm member is in the first position.

In another aspect, the invention provides a self-leveling mechanism for an article mounted to a chair that rests on a support surface where the chair has an arm member movable from a first position to a second position that is reclined with respect to the first position. The article (e.g., a tablet) has an upper surface having an angular relationship with respect to the support surface. The mechanism includes a pivot member that receives the article and mounted to the movable arm member of the chair. The movable arm member pivots with respect to the pivot member to keep the angular relationship between the support surface and an upper surface of the article the same without manual adjustment of the pivot member by a user when the movable arm member is moved from the first position to the second position. In one form, the pivot member has a hollow upper end, and the article is mounted to the pivot member by a pin inserted in the upper end of the pivot member. The pivot member may extend through a top surface of the movable arm member.

The mechanism may further include a linkage and a rotatable disc. The linkage is attached to the disc and to a bottom end of the pivot member. The disc moves the linkage in a direction away from the bottom end of the pivot member such that the movable arm member pivots with respect to the pivot member. Optionally, a stop is provided that limits motion of the linkage in a direction away from the rotatable disc when the movable arm member is in the first position. The pivot member may have one or more outwardly extending pins that rest on an upper surface of a frame member of the movable arm member such that the movable arm member pivots with respect to the pivot member.

In yet another aspect, the invention provides a chair including a base for supporting the chair on a support surface, a seat supported by the base, and an arm member supported by and movable with respect to the base. The arm member is movable from a first position to a second position that is reclined with respect to the first position. A tablet is mounted on the chair, and the tablet has an upper surface having an angular relationship with respect to the support surface. The chair further includes leveling means for keeping the angular relationship between the support surface and the upper surface of the tablet the same without manual adjustment by the user when the movable arm member is in the first position or the second position. The leveling means may be mounted on a location other than the arm rest. In one form, the leveling means can maintain items on a tablet mounted to the chair during reclining action of the armrest by keeping the tablet horizontal.

The leveling means may include a pivot member that mounts the article to the chair such that the movable arm member pivots with respect to the pivot member to keep the angular relationship between the support surface and the upper surface of the article the same when the movable arm member is moved from the first position to the second position. In one form, the pivot member has a hollow upper end, and the article is mounted to the pivot member by a pin inserted in the upper end of the pivot member. The leveling means may further include a linkage and a rotatable disc. The linkage is attached to the disc and to a bottom end of the pivot member. The disc moves the linkage in a direction away from the bottom end of the pivot member such that the movable arm member pivots with respect to the pivot member. The leveling means may further include a stop that limits motion of the linkage in a direction away from the rotatable disc when the movable arm member is in the first position.

These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood upon consideration of the following detailed description, drawings, and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top front left perspective view of a recliner having a self-leveling mechanism according to the invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the recliner of FIG. 1 in an unreclined position and having the side panel and associated covering removed to show the self-leveling mechanism according to the invention.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the recliner of FIG. 1 in a reclined position and having the side panel and associated covering removed to show the self-leveling mechanism according to the invention.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the frame of an armrest of the recliner of FIG. 1 showing selected parts of the self-leveling mechanism according to the invention.

Like reference numerals are used to depict like parts throughout the Figures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIGS. 1-4, a self leveling tablet mechanism according to the invention is shown and will be described in the context of a recliner 10 including a backrest 12, a seat 14, two arm members 16 a, 16 b where arm member 16 a houses or supports a self-leveling tablet supporting mechanism 18. A base 20 supports the chair 10 on a support surface 90. The seat 14, the arm members 16 a, 16 b and the backrest 12 may be attached directly or indirectly to the base 20 for support by the base 20 in a conventional manner. The backrest 12 and the seat 14 are mounted between the arm members 16 a, 16 b so that the backrest 12 and the seat 14 can be moved between an upright position illustrated in FIG. 2 and a supported reclined position illustrated in FIG. 3. When in the upright position (FIG. 2), in the illustrated embodiment, the top surfaces 22 a, 22 b of the arm members 16 a, 16 b are generally horizontal. When in the reclined position the arm members 16 a, 16 b tilt rearward on the base 20 such that the top surfaces 22 a, 22 b are inclined rearward by a few degrees (see FIG. 3).

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, the arm member 16 a forms a cavity 24 therein that houses the tablet supporting mechanism 18. The arm member 16 a is generally vertically aligned and the top surface 22 a of the arm member 16 a has an opening 26 spaced back from a front edge 28 thereof. The tablet supporting mechanism 18 is generally housed within cavity 24 and includes, among other components, a cam disc 30, a linkage 32, a pivot tube 34, a bezel structure 36, a table assembly 38 and a stop member 40. Cam disc 30 may mounted to the side wall 66 of the arm member 16 a for rotation about a horizontal axis 42 proximate the lower portion of cavity 24. Linkage 32 is an elongated rigid member having a first end pivotally linked proximate an upper edge of cam disc 30.

Pivot tube 34 acts as a pivot member and is an elongated rigid tube having an upper end and a lower end and is positioned within cavity 24 so as to be generally vertically oriented with the top end just below opening 26. The lower end of post 34 is pivotally mounted to the second end of linkage 32 such that linkage 32 is generally horizontally oriented within cavity 24. Bezel structure 36 includes a hollow socket 50 and a flange 52 that extends laterally from a top edge of the socket 50. The lower end of the socket 50 may attached (e.g., by screws) to the top end of pivot tube 34 with socket 50 extending through opening 26 and an undersurface of flange 52 resting on or adjacent the top surface 22 a of arm member 16 a. Optionally, a connecting object such as a disc with a threaded stud can be placed inside pivot tube 34 for attaching an end of the socket 50 or pin 58.

In FIG. 4, there is shown one method for mounting the pivot tube 34 to the arm member 16 a. A frame 80 of the arm member 16 a has an upper surface 82. The pivot tube 34 includes outwardly extending pins 35 a, 35 b that rest on the upper surface 82 of the frame 80. A hold down bracket 85 is installed over the pins 35 a, 35 b of the pivot tube 34 such that the pins 35 a, 35 b of the pivot tube 34 may rotate in a space created between the lower surface of the hold down bracket 85 and the upper surface 88 of the frame 80. Depressions may be formed in the upper surface 88 of the frame 80 if desired to provide seats for the pins 35 a, 35 b of the pivot tube 34. A hole 76 in the hold down bracket 85 allows the upper end of the pivot tube 34 to pass through the hold down bracket 85. The upper end of the pivot tube 34 accepts the bezel structure 36 as described above, and it should be appreciated that the bezel structure 36 is omitted in FIG. 4 for clarity.

Stop member 40 is an L-shaped member that is secured to the side wall 66 of the arm member 16 a within cavity 24 such that, when the chair 10 is in the upright position of FIG. 2, the joint formed by the pivotally linked linkage 32 and pivot tube 34 is adjacent the generally right angle formed by stop member 40. The stop member 40 limits motion of the linkage 32 in a direction away from the rotatable disc 30 when the movable arm member 16 a is in the first position (see FIG. 2).

Table assembly 38 includes a tablet 56, a mounting bracket 57 attached to the tablet 56, and a pin 58 that extends downward from the bracket 57. Pin 58 is sized to be slidably received within the hollow socket 50 in the bezel structure 36 and, when received therein, is supported thereby for rotation about a vertical axis therethrough. Typically, the upper surface of the tablet 56 is horizontal and is parallel to the support surface 90, that is, the angular relationship of the upper surface of the tablet 56 is at 0 degrees with respect to the support surface 90. However, any angular relationship is possible by adjusting the length of pivot tube 34 and cam disc 30 relationship-relative positions (see FIG. 2).

A locking release mechanism 11 may be included to effectively lock the chair 10 in the upright position unless affirmatively unlocked. A suitable linkage 67 is provided for movable leg rest members 17 a, 17 b as shown in FIG. 3. The backrest 12 may be supported by the side wall 66 of the arm member 16 a by bracket 71, and the seat 14 may be supported by the side wall 66 of the arm member 16 a by bracket 72.

In operation, when a person is sitting on seat 14 in an upright position (see FIG. 2), the pivot tube 34 is generally vertically oriented and hence, when tablet 56 is mounted to arm member 16 a, tablet 56 has a top surface that is horizontal. When the person pushes back on backrest 12 and the seat 14, backrest 12 and arms 16 a, 16 b rotate toward the reclined position, cam disc 30 rotates in the direction of Arrow A in FIG. 3 from the position illustrated in FIG. 2 toward the position illustrated in FIG. 3. As the linkage 32 moves, the lower end of tube 34 follows such that tube 34 remains generally vertical and tablet 56 remains horizontal. Eventually, when the chair 10 is fully reclined, the linkage 32, the cam disc 30, the pivot tube 34 and the tablet 56 assume the position illustrated in FIG. 3 and the tablet 56 remains horizontal irrespectively of the reclined state of the chair 10.

While one example of a self leveling tablet mechanism has been shown and described, other versions of the invention are possible. For example, the invention is not limited to supporting a tablet but may be used to support any article such as a computer or a television. Also, the tablet supporting mechanism 18 may be mounted to other parts of the chair such as the seat or backrest, or components can be added to sense and react to any relative movement between chair arm and supporting surface. Further, it is contemplated that the disc 30 could mounted to the torque tube of a recliner operating handle such that the linkage 32, cam disc 30, pivot tube 34 and tablet 56 assume the position illustrated in FIG. 3 when the recliner operating handle is pulled upwardly and/or rearward. Of course, different shapes for the pivot tube 34 and socket 50 are also possible.

Therefore, the present invention provides a self-leveling tablet mechanism such that users my recline furniture with tablets and not lose the materials on the tablet surface due to tilting of the table. The mechanism keeps a tablet level as a chair arm changes angular position during the reclining function. The mechanism may attach to pre-existing recliner mechanisms. The invention acts as a leveling mechanism that keeps a tablet level as the arm of the chair moves up and down during the reclining function. As the arm tilts up, the mechanism is activated and tilts the tablet forward resulting in a level tablet.

Although the present invention has been described in detail with reference to certain embodiments, one skilled in the art will appreciate that the present invention can be practiced by other than the described embodiments, which have been presented for purposes of illustration and not of limitation. Therefore, the scope of the appended claims should not be limited to the description of the embodiments contained herein.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8146132Oct 31, 2007Mar 27, 2012Porto Vinci Ltd. Limited Liability CompanyDevice registration using a wireless home entertainment hub
US8307388 *Oct 31, 2007Nov 6, 2012Porto Vinci Ltd. LLCAutomatic adjustment of devices in a home entertainment system
US8321038Jun 11, 2007Nov 27, 2012Porto Vinci Ltd. Limited Liability CompanyPresentation of still image data on display devices using a wireless home entertainment hub
US8421746Oct 31, 2007Apr 16, 2013Porto Vinci Ltd. Limited Liability CompanyDevice control using multi-dimensional motion sensing and a wireless home entertainment hub
US8607281Nov 27, 2006Dec 10, 2013Porto Vinci Ltd. Limited Liability CompanyControl of data presentation in multiple zones using a wireless home entertainment hub
US8634573Jul 14, 2011Jan 21, 2014Porto Vinci Ltd. Limited Liability CompanyRegistration of devices using a wireless home entertainment hub
US8696056Jan 10, 2011Apr 15, 2014Steelcase Inc.Seating unit
US8713591Sep 21, 2012Apr 29, 2014Porto Vinci LTD Limited Liability CompanyAutomatic adjustment of devices in a home entertainment system
US8761404Oct 31, 2007Jun 24, 2014Porto Vinci Ltd. Limited Liability CompanyMusical instrument mixer
EP2604147A1Dec 14, 2012Jun 19, 2013Singapore Technologies Aerospace LtdSelf-leveling apparatus
Classifications
U.S. Classification297/160
International ClassificationA47B39/00, A47B83/02
Cooperative ClassificationA47C7/68
European ClassificationA47C7/68
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 14, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: STEELCASE INC., MICHIGAN
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:STEELCASE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:020360/0944
Effective date: 20071017
Owner name: STEELCASE INC.,MICHIGAN
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:STEELCASE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION;US-ASSIGNMENT DATABASE UPDATED:20100209;REEL/FRAME:20360/944
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:STEELCASE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION;US-ASSIGNMENT DATABASE UPDATED:20100316;REEL/FRAME:20360/944
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:STEELCASE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION;US-ASSIGNMENT DATABASE UPDATED:20100504;REEL/FRAME:20360/944
Owner name: STEELCASE INC.,MICHIGAN
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:STEELCASE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION;US-ASSIGNMENT DATABASE UPDATED:20100504;REEL/FRAME:20360/944
Effective date: 20071017
Owner name: STEELCASE INC.,MICHIGAN
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:STEELCASE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION;US-ASSIGNMENT DATABASE UPDATED:20100316;REEL/FRAME:20360/944
Effective date: 20071017
Owner name: STEELCASE INC.,MICHIGAN
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:STEELCASE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION;US-ASSIGNMENT DATABASE UPDATED:20100209;REEL/FRAME:20360/944
Effective date: 20071017
Owner name: STEELCASE INC.,MICHIGAN
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:STEELCASE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:020360/0944
Effective date: 20071017
Nov 3, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: STEELCASE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TSAI, ING-JYE JIMMY;REEL/FRAME:015324/0784
Effective date: 20041011