US 20060099864 A1
A life vest is adapted to retain or hold a waterproof audio playback device so that a wearer of the life vest when engaging in water-related activities can listen to audio playback. The life vest can utilize pockets or device holders to integrate the audio playback device, and can also integrate one or more lead wires of the audio playback device into the vest.
1. In a life vest having buoyancy structure to permit a wearer of the life vest to float in water, the improvement comprising incorporating a waterproof audio playback device with the life vest, the audio playback device secured to the life vest and being adapted to connect to waterproof earphones so that a wearer can listen to audio playback during life vest wearing.
2. The life vest of
3. The life vest of
4. The life vest of
5. The life vest of
6. The life vest of
7. The life vest of
8. The life vest of
9. In a method of engaging in a water activity, wherein a participant in the water activity wears a life vest for safety purposes, the improvement comprising the participant listening to audio playback while wearing the life vest, the audio playback deriving from an audio playback device integrated into the life vest.
10. The method of
11. The method of
12. The method of
13. A life vest having means for keeping a wearer of the life vest afloat in water, and means for integrating an audio playback device therein, so that the wearer can listen to audio playback when wearing the life vest.
14. The life vest of
a) a pocket on the life vest;
b) a holder attached to a portion of the life vest;
c) a pocket on the life vest with a portion of the lead wires extending through a portion of the life vest; and
d) a holder attached to a portion of the life vest with a portion of the lead wires extending through a portion of the life vest.
15. The life vest of
16. The life vest of
17. The life vest of
18. The life vest of
This application claims priority under 35 USC 119(e) based on provisional patent application No. 60/625,104, filed on Nov. 5, 2004.
The present invention is directed to an improved life vest, and particularly, a life vest that has integrated therewith an audio playback device, that enables a wearer of the vest to listen to audio such as music while engaging in a water-related activity.
In the prior art, it is well known to include signaling devices of different types into safety or life vests. These devices make it possible for a wearer of the vest to be able to send a signal that the wearer is in distress, and needs rescue. These life vests are distinguishable from other garments that people may wear by the fact that they incorporate buoyancy material(s) or structure, and/or an inflatable device. These added materials or structure allow the life vest to support a wearer when in the water.
It is also known to incorporate audio playing devices in clothing for different purposes. U.S. Pat. No. 4,539,700 to Sato discloses a vest that has an audio component located in a vest pocket, with speakers integrated into shoulder portions of the vests for playback.
It is also known to use life vests during water sports activity such as water skiing, wakeboarding, kiteboarding, sailing and the like. However, none of these types of vests permit the sports enthusiast engaging in these activities to listen to music or other audio during the activity. As such, there is a need for improvements in the field of these sports activities.
In response to this need, the present invention provides a life vest that incorporates an audio playback device so that a water sports enthusiast can listen to audio playback when engaging in various water activities.
It is an object of the invention to provide an improved life vest for use in water-related activities, and especially water-related sporting activities.
Another object of the invention is a method of engaging in water-related activities such as sports while listening to audio playback.
Other objects and advantages will become apparent as the description proceeds.
In satisfaction of the foregoing objects and advantages, the present invention is an improvement in the field of life vests that have buoyancy structures and/or devices to permit a wearer of the life vest to float in water. According to the invention, the life vest is equipped with a waterproof audio playback device that is secured to the life vest. The audio playback device is adapted to connect to waterproof earphones or other similar sound generating equipment so that a wearer can listen to audio playback during the time that the life vest is worn.
While the audio playback device can be secured to the life vest in any manner, one mode of securement includes a pocket to retain the audio playback device. The pocket can be located anywhere on the vest, with preferred locations including a back side, a front side, or an inside surface of the life vest. In another preferred mode, the pocket is located near a neck opening of the life vest. Rather than being secured to the vest itself, the audio playback device can be attached to a strap or other elongate member associated with the life vest via a holder.
The audio playback device can be any type adapted for use in a wet or water environment, and preferably includes earphones that are connected to the audio playback device by lead wires. While the lead wires can be free of the vest, it is preferred that at least a portion of the lead wires are either integrated into material of the life vest or held to the material of the life vest by attaching structure on the life vest. In one mode, the audio playback device can be the type where its components are waterproof. In another mode, the audio playback device can have an audio unit with a waterproof housing, or a housing enclosed in a waterproof casing.
The invention also entails improvements in a method of engaging in a water activity, wherein a participant in the water activity wears a life vest for safety purposes. The improvement comprises the step of the participant listening to audio playback while wearing the life vest, the audio playback deriving from an audio device integrated into the life vest. The audio playback device can be any type, and is preferred to include those mentioned above. Similarly, the integration of the audio playback device can involve any type of integration, with preferred integration schemes as detailed above. Preferably, the audio playback device is one that employs waterproof earphones that the participant can use.
The water activity can be virtually any activity that involves water, e.g., the mere floating in water using a life vest, or using some flotation item while wearing the life vest. The water flotation items can be any type, e.g., wakeboard, water ski, kiteboard, surfboard, windsurfboard, boogie board, raft, boat, or the like.
The invention in one mode is the incorporation of an audio playback device that is either waterproof or enclosed to be waterproof into a life vest so that the wearer of the life vest can listen to audio material when engaging in a water-related activity. The water-related activity can be any activity that would require a person to wear a life vest. Examples include wakeboarding, boating, rafting, surfing, windsurfing, parasailing, kiteboarding, bodyboarding, and the like. The activity during which the audio material is listened to could be the actual physical activity, such as engaging in wakeboarding, or merely sitting in a canoe, boat, or other water floatation component, or floating in water prior to or after water activity that would require wearing of a life vest.
In another mode, the invention entails the method of listening to audio material during such water related activity by wearing the specially adapted life vest which allows for such listening.
In yet another mode, the invention entails the life vest itself as adapted to incorporate the waterproof audio playback device by including features which allow the audio playback device to be integrated into the vest for listening purposes. This mode can include the audio playback device, or just the lead wires, or the lead wires and earphones so that the vest would be sold with the lead wires or lead wires and earphones and the user could supply the audio playback device separately. As another option, the lead wires could come with connectors, or multiple connector capability to connect to different design audio playback devices and/or earphones.
There are multiple methods of integrating these devices into the vest. The first is a pocket built into the vest. The location of the pocket is only important in as much as it does not impede the function of the vest or prevent any motion that the user might perform while using the vest. This pocket could be visible and accessible from the outside or the inside of the vest, and utilize any type of closure system such as hook and loop fastening, a zipper, a button, etc. Also, the pocket could be designed in such a way that the buttons on the audio device were still accessible after the audio device has been inserted in the pocket (either through additional holes into the vest or a clear window, etc.)
Also, the vest could possibly have a method built in for routing the wire from the audio playback device, e.g., an mp3 player, to the earphones. This could be done through small loops inside the vest, or even done completely internally to the vest and the cable or lead wire would be routed or inserted during manufacturing of the vest, and each end of the lead wire would then come out of the vest through strategically positioned holes near the audio unit (to plug into the unit), and near the user's head (to connect to the earphones). A more complicated solution, although still within the scope of the invention, would be one where the entire audio device is permanently integrated into the vest and must be installed during manufacturing.
Also, in a simpler solution, the audio playback device could be placed into a holder or sleeve that would then clip or attach to the straps or other components associated with the vest. In this embodiment, the audio playback device could be positioned such that the earphone wire would exit out towards the bottom of the vest and then run up inside the vest to the earphones. This would prevent the wire from flying around loose during use. The holder in this embodiment can be any type that would support the audio playback device, and attach to the vest in any manner, providing that the attachment did not interfere with the vest function or wearer's comfort or activity. Further detail is given regarding the various embodiments discussed above in the accompanying drawings and following description.
Referring now to
The life vest 1 has means for keeping a wearer of the life vest afloat in water, e.g., buoyant material or materials, an inflatable device, an already inflated component, or a combination thereof.
The pocket 9 is one example of a means for integrating the audio playback device into the vest so that the wearer can listen to audio playback when the vest is worn. Other means include a holder attached to a portion of the life vest, and wherein the life vest is adapted to allow one or more lead wires attached to the audio playback device to enter the vest, extend through a portion of the life vest, and exit the vest to link to the earphones, or is adapted to have loops or other restraints to secure the wires to an exterior of the vest when extending between the audio playback device and the earphones. Details of the various embodiments are addressed below.
The entry opening 27 with the dual lead wire 11 is shown in greater detail in
It should be understood that other types of integration of the lead wires 11/12 could be employed as part of the invention. For example, the vest body could have a separate channel running on the exterior surface of the body, with the lead wires extending through the channel between the audio unit and the earphones. Instead of a continuous channel, spaced apart securement means such as loops or the like could be attached to the life vest, with the lead wires running through the openings formed by the loops to keep the lead wires securely held.
In yet another mode, the audio playback device could send a wireless signal to a receiver associated with the earphones so that lead wires between the audio playback device and earphones would be optional. The receiver could be incorporated into the earphones, or mounted near the neck portion 31, wherein lead wires would interconnect the earphones with the receiver unit.
The life vest for use with the invention can be any type of a vest that will support the wearer in water, i.e., US Coast Guard Approved, USCGA, or non-USCGA. The term vest is intended to encompass vests or jackets or any style of wear that provides the water-supporting function, e.g., vest-type garments which would not have sleeves, jacket-type garments that would have sleeves, or any other style garment that would be adaptable as a life vest or life jacket. The life vest incorporates any type of floatation component or structure that would keep a user afloat in the water, e.g., buoyant material or materials, inflatable components, inflated components, and/or combinations thereof.
The audio playback device can be any type of device that would permit playback of audio material in spite of the proximity of the device to water. Examples of devices would be those that store audio in digital format, and audio players that store audio in tape or magnetic form such as on cassettes or in CD format, e.g., walkman-type players. The audio playback device should also be sized so that it does not interfere with the performance of the life vest. Preferred devices are mp3 players such as Apple's i-pod, which uses a mechanical hard drive to store the digital audio, and others which store the audio via a solid state memory rather than a mechanical one. It is more preferred to use audio playback devices that use solid state memory to avoid the skipping problem prevalent with devices employing mechanical systems. Also, the audio device could have waterproof video playing capability so that the life vest wearer could not only listen to audio playback but could view video with the audio, or alone if so desired.
The waterproof feature of the audio playback device is essential to the invention, since the device would be used during water-related activity. Waterproof mp3s are currently available from different companies. One company's device uses a waterproof case for use with an off-the-shelf mp3 unit such as Apple I-pod and Mini-Ipod, as well as the I-river mp3 unit. Another company has developed an mp3 with its own housing and related components such as earphones and connections being waterproof, see U.S. Pat. No. 6,614,722 to Polany et al., which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.
As such an invention has been disclosed in terms of preferred embodiments thereof, which fulfills each and every one of the objects of the invention as set forth above, and provides an improved method life vest that has audio playback capability to enable a user to listen to audio material when engaging in water-related activity.
Of course, various changes, modifications and alterations from the teachings of the present invention may be contemplated by those skilled in the art without departing from the intended spirit and scope thereof. It is intended that the present invention only be limited by the terms of the appended claims.