US 20060151563 A1
A wearable system for securing a device against a torso of a user. In one embodiment, the system includes an adjustable strap attached to a flap. A connector attached to opposite ends of the strap facilitates securing the device between the flap and a torso of a user via pressure applied by the strap. In a more specific embodiment, the device is an optical device, such as binoculars. In this embodiment, the flap is selectively attached to the strap, enabling the flap to exhibit an open configuration, a protective configuration, or a forward-folded configuration. When the flap is in the protective configuration, a section of the flap covers an aperture, such as a lens or other opening, of the optical device, thereby protecting the aperture. When the flap is in the forward configuration, a first portion of the flap is folded behind a portion of the elastic strap that extends between first and second connections that secure the strap to the flap. The flap includes a gripping surface on a first side of the flap that inhibits relative motion between the flap and the accompanying optical device.
1. An apparatus that is worn by a user for securing a device to the user, the apparatus comprising:
first means for creating pressure in a direction toward a torso of the user; and
second means coupled to the first means, for applying pressure to the device via a surface having a coefficient of friction such that the device is prevented from movement.
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24. A system for supporting an optical device comprising:
an adjustable strap;
a flap attached to the adjustable strap; and
a connector for securing the optical device between the flap and a torso of a user via pressure applied by the strap.
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35. A method for securing a device relative to a torso of a user comprising:
creating pressure against the torso via an adjustable strap and a flap; and
securing the optical device to the torso via the pressure between the flap and the torso.
This invention claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/642,176, entitled ADJUSTABLE BINOCULAR OR CAMERA BELT WITH INTERGRAL LENS COVER, filed on Jan. 7, 2005, which is hereby incorporated by reference as if set forth in full in this application.
This invention is related in general to device holders and more specifically to a wearable apparatus for supporting devices, such as optical devices.
Apparatuses, such as straps and containers, for supporting devices, such as binoculars, cameras, range finders, infrared goggles, glasses, and so on, are employed in various demanding applications, including horseback riding, running, hunting, bird-watching, sport viewing, concert viewing, and military applications. Such applications often demand reliable and secure systems for maintaining devices in readily accessible, convenient, and non-cumbersome positions.
Convenient, protective, and non-cumbersome device support systems are particularly important in rugged outdoor applications, such as horseback riding and running, where extreme environments and movements and quick-access requirements are particularly demanding.
Conventionally, in these extreme applications, optical devices, such as binoculars, are often directly attached to shoulder, neck, or hand straps. Alternatively the devices are supported in pouches that are tied to shoulder straps, neck straps, or hand straps. Unfortunately, such support systems often allow accompanying binoculars and cameras to bounce and move. This excessive movement may increase the likelihood that the optical devices and accompanying pouches will contact surroundings, such as rocks, and trees, and body parts. Furthermore, the excessive movement may cause the optical devices to interfere with accompanying equipment, such as hunting or fishing gear. In addition, the neck straps and shoulder straps may undesirably tug at a user's neck or pull on a user's shoulder, thereby contributing to user discomfort and potentially creating neck and back problems.
Embodiments of the present invention provide a wearable system for supporting a device, such as an object or piece of equipment, on a torso of a user. In one embodiment, the system includes an adjustable strap with an attached flap. A strap connector facilitates securing the device between the flap and the torso via pressure applied by the strap.
In a more specific embodiment, the device is an optical device, such as a camera, range finder, glasses, or binoculars. The flap is selectively attached to the elastic strap so as to enable the flap to exhibit an open configuration, a protective configuration, or a forward-folded configuration. When the flap is in the protective configuration, a section of the flap covers an aperture, such as a lens or other opening, of the optical device, thereby protecting the aperture. In the protective configuration, a first portion of the flap folds between the optical device and the torso. In the forward-folded configuration, a first portion of the flap folds behind a first section of the elastic strap that extends between the first and second connections that connect the flap to the adjustable strap. The first portion of the flap is secured by the first section of the elastic strap when the flap is in the forward-folded configuration. The flap, the strap, and the optical device are positioned so that the flap does not obstruct optical apertures of the optical device when the flap is in the forward-folded configuration or the open configuration. In the open configuration, the first portion of the flap is not folded behind the first section of the elastic strap or between the torso and the optical device.
In an illustrative embodiment, the system is adapted to be installed on the torso by pressing the optical device against the torso at the flap via the strap. The flap includes a gripping surface on a first side of the flap. The first side of the flap is adjacent to the optical device when the flap is in the forward-folded or protected configuration and installed on the torso. The forward-folded, open, and protected configuration enable the gripping surface to further inhibit motion of the optical device relative to the flap. The flap may be removably secured to the elastic strap to enable replacement of the flap with a different-shaped or sized flap. Alternatively, the flap may be trimmed to a desired size or shape. A bar-slide device may be connected to the strap to facilitate lengthening or shortening the strap.
Hence, embodiments of the present invention may obviate the need for special containers, backpacks, straps, and so on. Optical devices secured via embodiments of the present invention are readily and rapidly accessible and do not require unzipping or opening containers or protective pouches to remove the optical devices. Use of such conventional containers can result in undesirable delays, especially in applications such as bird watching, hunting, and photography, where quick reactions are important. Furthermore, embodiments of the present invention are lightweight, generally requiring less material than conventional device holders.
Furthermore, certain embodiments of the present invention may compliment existing optical-device straps by preventing undesirable bouncing, swinging, and other motion of the optical devices while hiking, horseback riding, and so on. Furthermore, use of embodiments of the present invention may relieve tension from optical-device straps that would otherwise place undesirable strain on the neck, shoulders, or other body parts. By relieving such tension, embodiments of the present invention may improve comfort and reduce possible injuries associated with use of the optical devices. This is especially true in applications involving use of particularly heavy or bulky binoculars or other optical devices.
In addition, certain embodiments of the present invention hold optical devices close to the chest, which keeps the optical devices out of the way. This is especially important in archery and shooting applications, where undesirable interference from objects, such as optical devices, is particularly dangerous.
Hence, embodiments of the present invention may compliment or replace existing device neck straps with an efficient mechanism for relieving neck strain, for preventing the devices from jostling, and for maintaining the device in a convenient and readily accessible location.
With reference to
Devices such as binoculars, monoculars, cameras, etc., are often provided with a neck strap such as neck strap 21 shown in
For the purposes of the present discussion, a device may be any object or piece of equipment, such as binoculars, range finders, necklace attachments, glasses, purses, and so on. In general, devices are small and light enough so they can be conveniently strapped to or otherwise secured to a user via embodiments of the present invention as discussed more fully below.
An optical device may be any device that is employed to view or register an image of an environment or scene. Examples of optical devices include cameras, glasses, binoculars, range finders, infrared devices, and so on.
An aperture may be any opening, such as a lens opening, that may allow light therethrough.
A torso may be any section of the body of a human, animal, or equipment around which a strap may be deployed in accordance with various embodiments discussed herein. For example, in certain applications, embodiments of the present invention may be strapped around or otherwise secured to pack horses, dogs, or other animals, and to backpacks, front packs, and other equipment.
A flap may be any piece of material that may be folded or bent or that is attached to a hinge or other mechanism that enables folding or bending. For example, a flap may be a piece of foldable or bendable material, such as neoprene, plastic, cloth and so on.
A holder may be any slot, aperture, pocket, or other mechanism that can secure a device or other object in a desired position. For example, a holder can be formed to receive rifle or gun cartridges, bird or animal calls or sound-making devices, lip balm dispensers, or any other type of object.
A connector may be any mechanism, such as belt buckles, clasps, zippers, ties, and so on, that enables two objects or parts of a single object to be secured relative to each other. An object may be any item or physical thing, such as a strap.
The system 10 further includes strap connector comprising a female buckle section 32 and a male buckle section 34, which are attached at opposite ends of the strap 14. The strap 14 runs through the female buckle section 32 and is folded back upon itself, creating a first folded strap section 38. The first folded strap section 38 extends between the female buckle section 32 and the first X-pattern connection 17. The first folded strap section 38 is sewn together in various locations, including at a third sewn X-pattern connection 36 and at the first X-pattern connection 17. The first folded strap section 38 of the strap 14 includes various vertical stitches 40, which form various holders 42 therebetween. For illustrative purposes, the holders 42 are shown accommodating various bullets 44.
The strap 14 includes a second extendable strap section 46. In the second extendable strap section 46, the strap 14 runs through the male buckle section 34; folds back upon itself; and extends to the a three-bar slider 48. The three-bar slider 48 allows the initial length of the second extendable strap section 46 to be adjusted. The three-bar slider 48 may be replaced with another mechanism that enables the length of the strap 14 to be adjusted without departing from the scope of the present invention. The length of the strap 14 may also be adjusted by stretching the strap 14, which is an elastic strap in the present embodiment. For the purposes of the present discussion, an elastic material or item, such as a strap, is any material item that may be stretched by a user, after which the material or item returns to its original size and shape.
A first ring 50 and a second ring 52 are attached to the strap 14 at opposite sides of the flap 12. In the present specific embodiment, the rings 50, 52 are positioned adjacent to the first X-pattern connection 17 and the second X-pattern connection 18, respectively. The rings 50, 52 may be used to hang equipment, such as bird-calling devices, fishing hooks and lures, sunglasses, and so on. The central strap section 24 includes a convenient label space 54, which readily accommodates logos, emblems, and/or patches.
The flap 12 in
In operation, with reference to
Hence, the system 10 does not require containers, pouches, or other mechanisms to fasten to or hold the binoculars 16 or other devices, since only the inner gripping surface 28 of the flap 12 and the pressure applied between the strap 14 and the torso 30 via the strap 14 are used prevent undesirable motion of the binoculars 16.
The strap 14 may be fastened around various different portions of the body depending upon the application. For example, the system 10 may be fastened around a waist to accommodate heavy objects or around an upper chest to accommodate sunglasses with short sunglass straps.
In the protected, open, or forward-folded configuration, the binoculars 16 are readily removable from behind the flap 12. For example, to remove the binoculars 16, a user may employ one hand to pull or push the flap or strap 14 away from the torso (see 10 of
Other methods for removing the binoculars 16 may be employed without departing from the scope of the present invention. For example, in certain situations, the system 10 is worn loosely enough so that a brisk tug on accompanying binocular straps (not shown) is sufficient to remove the binoculars 16 from behind the flap 12. This method is particularly useful when the flap 12 is in the open or forward-folded configuration.
Hence, the system 10 implements a system for securing an optical device or other device to a user's body. The system 10 includes a first mechanism 14 for creating pressure against the torso 30 of a user and a second mechanism 12 for securing the optical device to the torso 30 via the pressure. The first mechanism 14 includes the adjustable strap 14, which has the adjustable flap 12 attached thereto.
In the present specific embodiments of
The adjustable strap 14 includes plural separate segments, including the first folded strap section 38, the second extendable strap section 46, and the central section 24. The flap 12 is attached to the central section 24. Additional devices, such as loops implemented via the plastic rings 50, are attached to the adjustable strap 14 to facilitate attaching objects to the system 10. Various accessories, such as wildlife calls, clip-on pockets, cleaning apparatuses, and so on, may be attached to the system 10 via the rings 50, 52 or via other mechanisms without departing from the cope of the present invention.
The flap 12 is positioned relative to the strap 14 and the optical device 16 so that pressure between the torso 30 and the flap 12 secures the optical device 16 to the torso 30.
When the system 10 is in the protective configuration, as shown in
A side of the flap 12 includes the gripping surface 28. When the system 10 is in the first protective configuration, the gripping surface 28 is oriented relative to the adjustable strap 14 and the optical device 16 so that the gripping surface 28 faces the optical device 16, thereby gripping the optical device 16 and preventing further movement thereof. When the system 10 is in an inside-out configuration (not shown) one portion of the gripping surface 28 faces away from the optical device and is adjacent to the torso when the gripping surface 28 is folded over the optical device 16.
For the purposes of the present discussion, a gripping surface is any surface that provides a coefficient of friction that is suitable to maintain a device, such as the binoculars 16, in a desired configuration and/or orientation when pressure is applied to the device via embodiments of the present invention. Examples of gripping surfaces include textured rubber, textured foam, etc.
The system 10 of
In the specific embodiments, the flap 12 is attached to the adjustable strap 14 at a first attachment point and a second attachment point, corresponding to the first sewn X-pattern connection 17 and the second sewn X-pattern connection 18, respectively. The top portion 20 of the flap 20 folds into a space 64 between the first attachment point 16 and the second attachment point 18. The space 64 is adapted to accommodate one end 20 of the flap 12.
The flap 12 and the space 64 are constructed so that when the flap 12 is in the forward-folded configuration as shown in
The flap 12 is adapted to adjust to the open position as shown in
The first segment 74 is implemented via a piece of elastic material that extends through the first loop 82 and the female buckle section 32. The resulting folded material is sewn together at an additional sewn X-pattern connection 94, where both ends of the first segment 74 terminate. Similarly, the end of the third segment 80 that extends through the second loop 84 terminates at another sewn X-pattern connection 96. The end of the third segment 80 that extends through the male buckle section 34 terminates at or near the three-bar slider 48, which enables the initial length of the third segment 80 to be adjusted.
In the present illustrative embodiment, the lengthened flap 72 is equipped with hook Velcro® 86 on an inner gripping side 88 of one end 90 of the flap 72 and is further equipped with loop Velcro® 92 strategically positioned at various locations on a front side of the flap 72.
In operation, the flap 72 is sufficiently long to extend and fold around the bottom of the binoculars 16 to enable the hook Velcro® 86 to attach to the loop Velcro® 92, thereby protecting a bottom end 98 of the binoculars 16. Alternatively, the Velcro® 86, 90 is omitted, and the end 90 of the flap 72 folds around a bottom end 98 of the binoculars 16 and behind the central section 76 of the flap 72. In this case, the central strap section 76 presses the end 90 of the flap 72 against the lower portion 22 of the flap 72. The flap 72 may be made long enough to accommodate various sizes of optical devices.
The neoprene flap 72 can be trimmed down or cut with scissors to suit different equipment sizes. Alternatively, the flap 72 can be readily replaced with different flaps with custom dimensions and shapes.
While various embodiments of
The bar-slide device 48 of
With reference to
While embodiments of the present invention have been primarily discussed with respect to pressing objects, such as optical devices, against a torso of a user, embodiments of the present invention may be employed to hold objects to other parts of the body without departing from the scope thereof. For example, various embodiments of the present invention may be fastened around users' waists. The accompanying flaps may be positioned on users' hips in certain applications, such as applications involving securing optical devices or other objects or bags that have shoulder straps.
In the description herein, numerous specific details are provided, such as examples of components and/or methods, to provide a thorough understanding of embodiments of the present invention. One skilled in the relevant art will recognize, however, that an embodiment of the invention can be practiced without one or more of the specific details, or with other apparatus, systems, assemblies, methods, components, materials, parts, and/or the like. In other instances, well-known structures, materials, or operations are not specifically shown or described in detail to avoid obscuring aspects of embodiments of the present invention.
Reference throughout this specification to “one embodiment”, “an embodiment”, or “a specific embodiment” means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention and not necessarily in all embodiments. Thus, respective appearances of the phrases “in one embodiment”, “in an embodiment”, or “in a specific embodiment” in various places throughout this specification are not necessarily referring to the same embodiment. Furthermore, the particular features, structures, or characteristics of any specific embodiment of the present invention may be combined in any suitable manner with one or more other embodiments. It is to be understood that other variations and modifications of the embodiments of the present invention described and illustrated herein are possible in light of the teachings herein and are to be considered as part of the spirit and scope of the present invention.
It will also be appreciated that one or more of the elements depicted in the drawings/figures can also be implemented in a more separated or integrated manner, or even removed or rendered as inoperable in certain cases, as is useful in accordance with a particular application.
Additionally, any signal arrows in the drawings/figures should be considered only as exemplary, and not limiting, unless otherwise specifically noted. Furthermore, the term “or” as used herein is generally intended to mean “and/or” unless otherwise indicated. Combinations of components or steps will also be considered as being noted, where terminology is foreseen as rendering the ability to separate or combine is unclear.
As used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow “a”, an and “the” include plural references unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Furthermore, as used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow, the meaning of “in” includes “in” and “on” unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.
The foregoing description of illustrated embodiments of the present invention, including what is described in the Abstract, is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed herein. While specific embodiments of, and examples for, the invention are described herein for illustrative purposes only, various equivalent modifications are possible within the spirit and scope of the present invention, as those skilled in the relevant art will recognize and appreciate. As indicated, these modifications may be made to the present invention in light of the foregoing description of illustrated embodiments of the present invention and are to be included within the spirit and scope of the present invention.
Thus, while the present invention has been described herein with reference to particular embodiments thereof, a latitude of modification, various changes and substitutions are intended in the foregoing disclosures, and it will be appreciated that in some instances some features of embodiments of the invention will be employed without a corresponding use of other features without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention as set forth. Therefore, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the essential scope and spirit of the present invention. It is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular terms used in following claims and/or to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include any and all embodiments and equivalents falling within the scope of the appended claims.