US 20060082198 A1
The inventive subject matter is directed toward gaming furniture having an electronic component that provides support to the item of furniture. A preferred item of furniture is a gaming mat (100) having a backrest (110) that is substantially supported by a speaker assembly (120).
1. An item of furniture for use by a human user having a distinct back and head, comprising:
a mat portion upon which the user can lie; and
a backrest portion that encloses a speaker assembly that positions a speaker at a portion of the back of the user.
2. The item of furniture of
3. The item of furniture of
4. The item of furniture of
5. The item of furniture of
6. The item of furniture of
7. The item of furniture of
8. The item of furniture of
9. The item of furniture of
10. The item of furniture of
11. An item of foldable furniture, comprising:
a backrest portion that encloses a speaker assembly oriented to direct sound toward and through the backrest portion; and
no headrest distinct from the backrest portion.
12. The item of furniture of
13. The item of furniture of
14. The item of furniture of
15. The item of furniture of
This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application No. 60/382,546 filed on May 21, 2002 incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
The field of the invention is furniture containing electronic components.
Furniture, particularly chairs and couches, has been used for years to store household items such as a T.V. remote control, reading material, eye glasses, and so on. In some chairs and couches there are pockets to hold these items. Increasingly, electronic components are being stored in furniture and one such use is described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,135,551 to Linder. The '551 patent teaches a chair having a backrest that includes a pair of oppositely disposed pockets that are adapted to receive a pair of speakers. A wiring system is also provided for connecting the speakers to an external sound source. The inclusion of pockets to house speakers may provide some additional functionality to the chair, but the pockets generally detract from the look of the furniture.
In order to solve some of the problems related to aesthetics, it became known to build storage areas into the item of furniture. The teachings of U.S. Pat. No. 6,369,312 to Komatsu describe speakers that were mounted in a headrest of a chair. While inside storage of electronic components was probably more aesthetically favorable than outside storage, it still led to disproportionately large pieces of furniture sometimes having overly large arms, bodies, and headrests.
As electronic components became smaller, it became more desirable to store those components within an article of furniture. It also became feasible to store multiple electronic components. U.S. Pat. No. 5,857,986 to Moriyasu teaches a chair having vibration devices in the backrest and seat of the chair. The vibration devices add to a user's multimedia experience while operating a computer. Although the chair described in the '986 patent did not appear to be significantly deformed by the addition of the vibrating devices, the chair lacked many integral electronic components such as speakers, display, and joy stick.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,102,476 to May et al. teaches furniture that includes an integrated computer. The furniture is described as having large thick cushions and wide arm rests to accommodate the computer components including speakers. While the computer components appears to aid in the functionality of the chair as a whole, again the chair is relatively large and bulky looking. Additionally, the functionality of the chair as an article of furniture is not enhanced by the presence of the computer components. If anything, the presence of the computer components detracts from the function the item as a piece of furniture.
Thus, there is a need for furniture having electronic components that do not detract from, and may even add to, the look and functionality of the furniture.
The present invention provides an article of furniture having a backrest portion that is substantially supported by an electronic component such as a speaker assembly. In preferred embodiments, the item of furniture is a mat having speakers that direct sound toward and through the backrest toward the user's back. A further aspect includes electronic ports that are housed in the backrest.
In another aspect, the inventive subject matter is directed toward an item of furniture that has an electronics housing providing a furniture function. For example, a speaker assembly can provide support for a backrest under the weight of a user. This is especially important because configurations which utilize basic furniture support structures are likely to muffle sound and vibration from the speaker assembly. By providing an item of furniture in which the speaker assembly is sized and dimensioned to function as a support structure, there is no muffling of sound and vibration by the furniture's support structure.
Various objects, features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention, along with the accompanying drawings in which like numerals represent like components.
Referring first to
The speaker assembly 120 provides substantial support for the backrest 110. Substantial support means that the article of furniture does not collapse or substantially lose its shape under a weight of a human using it for its intended function. Substantial support in relation to the backrest shown in
A speaker assembly is made generally of speaker components (e.g. a magnet, diaphragm, cone, woofer, and so on) and a rigid outer housing. A speaker assembly may or may not have a housing per se since the speaker assembly itself may provide the substantial support referred to above. In any case, projection of sound from the speaker will not be obstructed by a housing because the speaker is advantageously mounted into the housing. It is further proffered that a speaker assembly be constructed in a shape that approximates the shape of the item it is supporting. For example, in
The seat portion 130 as well as the outer portion of the backrest 120 are made essentially of a foam product. The seat and backrest can however comprise other relatively soft materials including down, StyrofoamŽ or other polystyrene, cotton, and so on. In preferred embodiments, the entire mat has a readily removable cover that can be cleaned and/or replaced. Such covers may be made of vinyl, cotton, and other suitable materials.
Seat portion 130 is segmented in portions that are sized and dimensioned to fold about the backrest portion 110 into a form embodied by
Focusing now on
As indicated by
Thus, specific embodiments and applications of gaming furniture have been disclosed. It should be apparent, however, to those skilled in the art that many more modifications besides those already described are possible without departing from the inventive concepts herein. The inventive subject matter, therefore, is not to be restricted except in the spirit of the appended claims. Moreover, in interpreting both the specification and the claims, all terms should be interpreted in the broadest possible manner consistent with the context. In particular, the terms “comprises” and “comprising” should be interpreted as referring to elements, components, or steps in a non-exclusive manner, indicating that the referenced elements, components, or steps may be present, or utilized, or combined with other elements, components, or steps that are not expressly referenced.