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Publication numberUS20070044346 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/211,289
Publication dateMar 1, 2007
Filing dateAug 25, 2005
Priority dateAug 25, 2005
Publication number11211289, 211289, US 2007/0044346 A1, US 2007/044346 A1, US 20070044346 A1, US 20070044346A1, US 2007044346 A1, US 2007044346A1, US-A1-20070044346, US-A1-2007044346, US2007/0044346A1, US2007/044346A1, US20070044346 A1, US20070044346A1, US2007044346 A1, US2007044346A1
InventorsJoseph Ungari, Chia-Chyi Cheng
Original AssigneeUngari Joseph L, Chia-Chyi Cheng
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Article of footwear with solar panel assembly
US 20070044346 A1
Abstract
An article of footwear includes a sole assembly and an upper secured to the sole assembly and has an exterior surface. At least one solar cell on the exterior surface of the upper is configured to provide power to a power receiving device.
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Claims(36)
1. An article of footwear comprising, in combination:
a sole assembly;
an upper secured to the sole assembly and having an exterior surface; and
a solar panel assembly comprising:
at least one solar cell on the exterior surface of the upper; and
a battery operably connected to the at least one solar cell.
2. The article of footwear of claim 1, further comprising at least one fastener, each fastener securing a corresponding solar cell to the upper.
3. The article of footwear of claim 2, wherein the fastener comprises a first portion and a second portion, the first portion secured to one of the upper and the solar cell, and the second portion secured to the other of the upper and the solar cell.
4. The article of footwear of claim 3, wherein the fastener comprises a snap, the first portion comprises a male portion of the snap, and the second portion comprises a mating female portion of the snap.
5. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein a plurality of solar cells are secured to the exterior surface of the upper, each solar cell having a color, at least one of the solar cells having a color different than at least one other solar cell.
6. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein a plurality of solar cells are secured to the exterior surface of the upper, each solar cell having a shape, at least one of the solar cells having a shape different than at least one other solar cell.
7. The article of footwear of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of wires on an interior of the upper, the wires connecting the solar panel assembly to the battery.
8. The article of footwear of claim 1, further comprising a layer of material positioned on an interior of the upper, the plurality of wires extending between the upper and the layer of material.
9. The article of footwear of claim 1, further comprising a powered element operably connected to the battery.
10. The article of footwear of claim 9, wherein the powered element is an illuminated element.
11. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the battery is removably attached to one of the the upper and the sole assembly.
12. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the solar panel assembly comprises a flexible base member and a plurality of solar cells secured to the flexible base member.
13. The article of footwear of claim 12, wherein the flexible base member is formed of thermoplastic urethane.
14. The article of footwear of claim 12, wherein the flexible base member is formed of a polymer fabric.
15. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the solar panel assembly comprises a plurality of flexible solar cells.
16. The article of footwear of claim 15, wherein the flexible solar cells are secured to the upper with stitching.
17. The article of footwear of claim 15, wherein the flexible solar cells are formed of one of pentacene, an organic polymer and plastic.
18. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the sole assembly includes a midsole secured to the upper and an outsole secured to the midsole.
19. The article of footwear of claim 1, wherein the battery is a rechargeable battery.
20. The article of footwear of claim 1, further comprising at least one retainer secured to the upper, each retainer capturing at least a portion of a peripheral edge of a solar cell to secure the solar cell to the upper.
21. The article of footwear of claim 20, wherein at least one retainer is formed of an elastomeric material.
22. The article of footwear of claim 20, wherein at least one retainer is formed of rubber.
23. An article of footwear comprising, in combination:
a sole assembly;
an upper secured to the sole assembly and having an exterior surface; and
a solar panel assembly comprising:
a plurality of solar cells on the exterior surface of the upper;
a plurality of wires connecting the solar cells; and
a rechargeable battery connected to the solar cells by the wires.
24. The article of footwear of claim 23, further comprising a plurality of fasteners, each fastener securing a corresponding solar cell to the upper.
25. The article of footwear of claim 23, further comprising a layer of material positioned on an interior of the upper, the plurality of wires extending between the upper and the layer of material.
26. The article of footwear of claim 23, further comprising a powered element operably connected to the rechargeable battery.
27. The article of footwear of claim 23, wherein the solar panel assembly comprises a flexible base member secured to the upper, the plurality of solar cells being secured to the flexible base member.
28. The article of footwear of claim 23, wherein the solar cells are flexible solar cells.
29. An article of footwear comprising, in combination:
a sole assembly;
an upper secured to the sole assembly and having an exterior surface; and
a solar panel assembly comprising:
a plurality of solar cells releasably secured to the exterior surface of the upper; and
a rechargeable battery operably connected to the at least one solar cell.
30. The article of footwear of claim 29, further comprising a plurality of fasteners, each fastener securing a corresponding solar cell to the upper.
31. The article of footwear of claim 23, wherein each fastener comprises a first portion and a second portion, the first portion secured to one of the upper and the solar cell, and the second portion secured to the other of the upper and the solar cell.
32. The article of footwear of claim 28, wherein the fastener comprises a snap, the first portion comprises a male portion of the snap, and the second portion comprises a mating female portion of the snap.
33. The article of footwear of claim 29, further comprising a layer of material positioned on an interior of the upper, the plurality of wires extending between the upper and the layer of material.
34. The article of footwear of claim 29, further comprising a powered element operably connected to the rechargeable battery.
35. The article of footwear of claim 29, wherein the solar panel assembly comprises a flexible base member secured to the upper, the plurality of solar cells being secured to the flexible base member.
36. The article of footwear of claim 29, wherein the solar cells are flexible solar cells.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to an article of footwear and, in particular, to an article of footwear having a solar panel assembly.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Electronic devices are commonly integrated into footwear including, for example, illuminated elements such as flashing lights. Flashing lights can provide aesthetic appeal and improve safety for the user by providing increased visibility. The users of such footwear face the problem of providing sufficient power to the electronic devices incorporated in the footwear. It would be desirable to provide a source of power in the footwear to power electronic devices or provide power to other devices that may be temporarily stored in or attached to the footwear.

Particular objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art, that is, those who are knowledgeable or experienced in this field of technology, in view of the following disclosure of the invention and detailed description of certain preferred embodiments.

SUMMARY

The principles of the invention may be used to advantage to provide an article of footwear with a solar panel assembly. In accordance with a first aspect, an article of footwear includes a sole assembly and an upper secured to the sole assembly and has an exterior surface. At least one solar cell on the exterior surface of the upper is configured to provide power to a power receiving device.

In accordance with another aspect, an article of footwear includes a sole assembly and an upper secured to the sole assembly and having an exterior surface. A solar panel assembly includes a plurality of solar cells on the exterior surface of the upper and a plurality of wires connecting the solar cells. A rechargeable battery is connected to the solar cells by the wires.

In accordance with a further aspect, an article of footwear includes a sole assembly and an upper secured to the sole assembly and having an exterior surface. A solar panel assembly includes a plurality of solar cells releasably secured to the exterior surface of the upper and a rechargeable battery operably connected to the at least one solar cell.

Substantial advantage is achieved by providing an article of footwear with a solar panel assembly. In particular, certain embodiments of the present invention allow powered elements on the footwear to operate without an independent power source. This will allow a user to operate an electrical device on their footwear for an indefinite period of time, without the need to worry about replacing batteries, enhancing convenience for the user and reducing operating costs.

These and additional features and advantages of the invention disclosed here will be further understood from the following detailed disclosure of certain preferred embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an article of footwear with a solar panel assembly including a plurality of solar cells on an exterior surface of its upper.

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of a solar cell and a portion of the upper of the article of footwear of FIG. 1 to which it is attached, showing a fastener that secures the solar cell to the upper.

FIG. 3 is a section view of the solar panel assembly of the article of footwear of FIG. 1, showing two solar cells connected to a battery.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view, shown partially broken away, of another embodiment of the article of footwear of FIG. 1, showing a removable battery.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another embodiment of an article of footwear with a solar panel assembly.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a further embodiment of an article of footwear with a solar panel assembly.

The figures referred to above are not drawn necessarily to scale and should be understood to provide a representation of the invention, illustrative of the principles involved. Some features of the article of footwear with a solar panel assembly depicted in the drawings have been enlarged or distorted relative to others to facilitate explanation and understanding. The same reference numbers are used in the drawings for similar or identical components and features shown in various alternative embodiments. Footwear with solar panels as disclosed herein would have configurations and components determined, in part, by the intended application and environment in which they are used.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF CERTAIN PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention may be embodied in various forms. An embodiment of an article of footwear 10 is shown in FIG. 1. Footwear 10 includes an upper 12 and a sole assembly 14 secured to upper 12. Sole assembly 14 may be secured to upper 12 by adhesive or any other suitable means. For purposes of general reference, footwear 10 may be divided into three general portions: a forefoot portion 16, a midfoot portion 18, and a heel portion 20. Portions 16, 18, and 20 are not intended to demarcate precise areas of footwear 10. Rather, portions 16, 18, and 20 are intended to represent general areas of footwear 10 that provide a frame of reference during the following discussion. In addition, as seen in FIG. 4, footwear 10 includes a medial, or inner, side 22 and a lateral, or outer, side 24.

Unless otherwise stated, or otherwise clear from the context below, directional terms used herein, such as rearwardly, forwardly, top, bottom, inwardly, downwardly, upwardly, etc., refer to directions relative to footwear 10 itself. Footwear 10 is shown in FIG. 1 to be disposed substantially horizontally, as it would be positioned on a horizontal surface when worn by a wearer. However, it is to be appreciated that footwear 10 need not be limited to such an orientation. Thus, in the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 1, rearwardly is toward heel portion 20, that is, to the left as seen in FIG. 1. Naturally, forwardly is toward forefoot portion 16, that is, to the right as seen in FIG. 1, and downwardly is toward the bottom of the page as seen in FIG. 1.

Top refers to elements toward the top of the page as seen in FIG. 1, while bottom refers to elements toward the bottom of the page as seen in FIG. 1. Inwardly is toward the center of footwear 10, and outwardly is toward the outer peripheral edge of footwear 10.

Sole assembly 14 may include an insole (not shown) located within upper 12, a midsole 26, and an outsole 28. Midsole 26 is attached to upper 12 and functions as the primary shock-attenuating and energy-absorbing component of footwear 10. Midsole 26 may be secured to upper 12 by adhesive or other suitable means. Suitable materials for midsole 26 include polymer foam materials such as ethylvinylacetate or polyurethane, or any other material that compresses resiliently. Outsole 28 is attached to the lower surface of midsole 26 by adhesive or other suitable means. Suitable materials for outsole 28 include polymers, e.g., polyether-block co-polyamide polymers (sold as Pebax® by ATOFINA Chemicals of Philadelphia, Pa.), and nylon resins such as Zytel®, sold by Dupont. Other suitable materials for outsole 28 will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art, given the benefit of this disclosure.

A solar panel assembly 30 is positioned on footwear 10. In certain embodiments, as illustrated in FIG. 1, solar panel assembly 30 includes an array of a plurality of photovoltaic or solar cells 32 secured about footwear 10. In the illustrated embodiment, solar cells 32 are positioned about forefoot portion 16 and midfoot portion 18 of upper 12. It is to be appreciated that solar cells 32 can be positioned on any desired portion of upper 12.

In the illustrated embodiment, solar cells 32 are substantially square. However, it is to be appreciated that solar cells 32 may have any desired shape, e.g., triangular as seen in FIG. 5 below, round or rectangular, and that other suitable shapes will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art. In certain embodiments, the shapes, sizes, and/or colors of the individual solar cells 32 or the combinations of shapes, sizes and/or colors of solar cells 32 can be varied to provide a desired aesthetic design on the exterior of footwear 10.

Solar panel assembly 30 includes a battery 34, which is operably connected to solar cells 23 by one or more cables or wires 36 that extend through footwear 10. In certain embodiments, wires 36 extend be on an interior of upper 12. Battery 34 is a rechargeable battery that is recharged by energy received from solar cells 23. Battery 34 may be any suitable rechargeable battery type, e.g., nickel cadmium (NiCad), nickel metal hydride (NiMH), or lithium.

A powered element 38 on footwear 10 is connected to battery 34 by a cable or wire 40. Powered element 38 can be any desired device that requires power to operate. For example, powered element 38 may be a light or other illuminated element. Powered element 38 may also be an exercise related device, such as a pedometer. Other suitable powered elements will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art, given the benefit of this disclosure.

In certain embodiments, as seen in FIG. 2, solar cells 32 may be secured to upper 12 by way of a fastener 42. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, fastener 42 is a releasable fastener, such as a snap 42. Snap 42 has a first male portion 44 secured to solar cell 32 and a second female portion 46 secured to upper 12. It is to be appreciated that in other embodiments having snaps 42, that first male portion 44 may be secured to upper 12 with second female portion 46 being secured to solar cell 32. More than one snap may be used to secure each individual solar cell 32 to upper 12. As illustrated here, each solar cell 32 has four snaps 42 to secure solar cell 32 to upper 12. Any number of snaps or other fasteners 42 may be used to secure solar cells 32 to upper 12.

A benefit of using releasable fasteners such as snaps 42 is that individual solar cells 32 can be removed, allowing for replacement of damaged solar cells, or allowing a user to customize their footwear by choosing solar cells of different colors, sizes or different shapes, as noted above.

Other suitable types of fasteners 42 for securing solar cells 32 to upper 12 will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art, given the benefit of this disclosure.

Retainers 43 may also be used to secure solar cells 32 to upper 12. Retainers 43 may be secured to upper 12 with an adhesive or other suitable fastening means. Retainers 43 include a peripheral lip 45 that captures a peripheral edge of a solar cell 32. In certain embodiments, retainer 43 is formed of a resilient, flexible material, allowing it to be easily flexed away from solar cell 32, thereby allowing solar cell 32 to be removed, thus facilitating replacement or repair of the solar cell. In certain embodiments, retainer 43 is formed of an elastomeric material such as rubber.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, wires 36, which extend between solar cells 32 and battery 34 may be positioned between upper 12 and an insulating layer of material 48, providing protection for the user's foot from wires 36 and also providing increased comfort. It is to be appreciated that in other embodiments, wires 36 can be embedded in upper 12 or individually encased in an insulating material in order to protect the user's foot.

In certain embodiments, as seen in FIG. 4, battery 34 may be a removable battery. In such an embodiment, solar cells 32 are used to recharge battery 34, and once battery 34 is suitably charged it can be removed and used in a powered device, remote from footwear 10, such as a cellphone, GPS device, or any other desired powered device. As illustrated here, upper 12 may have a recess 50 in heel portion 20 that receives battery 34 while it is being charged. One or more contacts 52 on battery 34 engage corresponding contacts 54 in recess 50, which are operably connected by wires 36 to solar cells 32.

It is to be appreciated that although recess 50 is shown here as being located in upper 12, it may be located in sole assembly 14 in other embodiments. In other embodiments, removable battery 34 may be temporarily secured to footwear 12 without incorporating a recess in footwear 10 in which battery 34 is received.

In other embodiments, as illustrated in FIG. 5, solar cells 32 may be secured to a base member 53, formed of a flexible material that can be easily wrapped about footwear 10, thereby providing a cover for at least a portion of the laces of footwear 10. This can help contain the loose ends of the laces, thereby enhancing the safety of footwear 10. Flexible base member 53 may be formed of thermoplastic urethane, woven or non-woven polymer fabrics, or any other suitable material. In the embodiment illustrated here, flexible base member 53 extends across midfoot portion 18 and forefoot portion 16 of upper 12 from lateral side 24 to medial side 22.

The flexibility of base member 53 allows it to easily conform to the complex shape of the exterior surface of upper 12. Flexible base member 53 may be releasably secured to upper 12 with fasteners such as snaps 42 described above in connection with FIGS. 1-2, or other suitable fasteners. Flexible base member 53 may also be more permanently secured to upper 12 by stitching, adhesive or other suitable fastening means.

In other embodiments, as illustrated in FIG. 6 solar panel assembly 30 may be formed of a plurality of flexible solar cells 55. Flexible solar cells 55 may be secured to upper 12 by way of stitching 56. It is to be appreciated that flexible solar cells 55 may be secured to upper 12 with other fastening means, such as adhesive or releasable fasteners such as snaps 42 described above.

Flexible solar cells 55 may be formed of pentacene sheets (made of rings of hydrogen and carbon that occur naturally), organic polymers or plastic. Forming the individual solar cells 55 of a flexible material allows them to easily conform to the complex shape of the exterior surface of upper 12.

In light of the foregoing disclosure of the invention and description of the preferred embodiments, those skilled in this area of technology will readily understand that various modifications and adaptations can be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. All such modifications and adaptations are intended to be covered by the following claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8314324Dec 19, 2008Nov 20, 2012Shadeplex, LlcLaminated thin film photovoltaic systems
CN102048297A *Dec 15, 2010May 11, 2011许文强Shoe with solar fan
WO2014114951A1 *Jan 27, 2014Jul 31, 2014Eight19 LimitedPrimary packaging comprising photovoltaic device
Classifications
U.S. Classification36/136
International ClassificationA43B23/00
Cooperative ClassificationA43B3/0005, A43B3/0015, A43B3/001, H01L31/0422, Y02E10/50, G01C22/006, A43B3/242, A43B3/0031, A43B3/24
European ClassificationA43B3/24B, A43B3/00E, A43B3/00E20, A43B3/00P, A43B3/00E10, H01L31/042B, G01C22/00P, A43B3/24
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 24, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: NIKE, INC., OREGON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:UNGARI, JOSEPH L.;CHENG, CHIA-CHYI;REEL/FRAME:017059/0977
Effective date: 20050824