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Publication numberUS20070207870 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/487,583
Publication dateSep 6, 2007
Filing dateJul 17, 2006
Priority dateMar 1, 2006
Also published asCA2545036A1
Publication number11487583, 487583, US 2007/0207870 A1, US 2007/207870 A1, US 20070207870 A1, US 20070207870A1, US 2007207870 A1, US 2007207870A1, US-A1-20070207870, US-A1-2007207870, US2007/0207870A1, US2007/207870A1, US20070207870 A1, US20070207870A1, US2007207870 A1, US2007207870A1
InventorsMichael Armbruster, James R. Engler
Original AssigneeMichael Armbruster, Engler James R
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Child support with multiple electrical modes
US 20070207870 A1
Abstract
A child receiving device is disclosed herein. The device includes a seat pivotally connected to a frame. The device may further include a power transmission line that connects to a remote power source such as an electrical outlet. The transmission line may be hidden within the frame, and may separate when a predetermined amount of force is applied to the line. The child receiving device further includes an electrical device, an alternating current (AC) power supply connection, a direct current (DC) power supply connection, and a switch that selectively engages either the AC or DC power supply connections. The electrical device may operate in either a first operational mode, in which the power source is an AC power source, or a second operational mode, in which the power source is a direct current (DC) power source. The electrical device may be a motor that drives the motion of the seat.
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Claims(18)
1. A child receiving device comprising:
a frame;
a child-receiving portion coupled to the frame;
an alternating current (AC) power source receiving portion;
a direct current (DC) power source receiving portion; and
an electrical device driven by a power source, wherein the electrical device is adapted to selectively operate in a first electrical mode in which the power source is an alternating current (AC) power source and a second electrical mode in which the power source is a direct current (DC) power source.
2. The child-receiving device of claim 1, wherein the operational modes are controlled by a switch.
3. The child-receiving device of claim 2, wherein the switch is one of an automatic switch and a manual, user-actuated switch.
4. The child-receiving device of claim 2 wherein the switch is a manual, user-actuated switch.
5. The child-receiving device of claim 4, wherein the manual, user-actuated switch comprises a switch selected from the group consisting of a slide switch, a rotary switch, and a push switch.
6. The child-receiving device of claim 2, wherein:
the alternating current power source is located remote from the child receiving device; and
the child receiving device further comprises a power transmission line operable to connect the electrical device to the remote power source.
7. The child-receiving device of claim 6, wherein the transmission line comprises a transformer operable to convert alternating current to a direct current.
8. The child-receiving device of claim 6, wherein the transmission line is at least partially disposed within the frame.
9. The child-receiving device of claim 6, wherein the transmission line comprises a first segment and a second segment releasably connected to the first segment.
10. The child-receiving device of claim 9, wherein the first segment of the transmission line is at least partially disposed within the frame and the second segment disposed entirely outside the frame.
11. The child-receiving device of claim 1, wherein the electrical device is includes at least one of a motor, a speaker, and a light source.
12. The child-receiving device of claim 1, wherein the electrical device is a motor capable of moving the child receiving portion from a first position to a second position.
13. The child-receiving device of claim 1, wherein the direct current (DC) power source is a battery source removeably coupled to the frame.
14. A child receiving device comprising:
a frame including a supporting surface engaging portion, wherein at least one section of the frame is hollow;
a child receiving portion coupled to the frame above the supporting surface engaging portion;
an electrical device attached to the frame proximate the child receiving portion; and
a power cord comprising:
a first portion coupled to the electrical device and being housed within the hollow section of the frame and exiting the frame proximate the supporting surface engaging portion,
a second portion located outside the frame and being configured to connect to a power source remote from the child receiving device, wherein the power cord is configured to supply power to the electrical device from a the remote power source.
15. The child receiving device of claim 14, wherein the frame further comprises exit point proximate the supporting surface engaging portion, and wherein the first portion of the power cord terminates proximate the exit point.
16. The child receiving device of claim 14, wherein the first portion of the power cord is releasably connected to the second portion of the power cord.
17. A method of selecting the electrical mode of a child support device comprising:
(a) providing a child support device including an electrically powered component,
(b) operating the electrically powered component in a first operational mode in which the power source is an alternating current (AC) power source; and
(c) alternately operating the electrically powered component in a second operational mode in which the power source is a direct current (DC) power source.
18. The method of claim 17, wherein:
the child support device includes a switch configured to select the first and second operational modes;
step (b) comprises (b.1) engaging the switch to select the first operational mode; and
step (c) comprises (c.1) engaging the switch to alternately select the second operational mode.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/777,548, filed Mar. 1, 2006, the entire content of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a child support structure selectively operable in multiple electrical modes and, more particularly, to a motorized swing configured to selectively operate on either alternating current or direct current power sources.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Child support structures (also called child receiving devices) may be used to pacify and relax children and, in particular, infants. These structures typically include a frame supporting a seat that receives an infant. Many include a motor adapted to drive the seat or other movable component connected to the frame (a vibration mechanism, etc.). Other child receiving devices further include electronic activity components that provide entertainment to an infant supported by the device. Conventional activity components include some form of sensory output (e.g., flashing lights and/or sound) to attract and retain the attention of the infant.

The motor and electronic components in such child receiving devices are often powered using an electric power source. The power source is typically an alternating current (AC) source (e.g., from a standard electrical outlet) or a direct current (DC) source (e.g., batteries or a rechargeable battery pack). Devices to date have only been able to provide a single option for a power source (AC or DC), limiting either the time the device could be operated (in the case of batteries), or limiting the location of the operation (in the case of an electrical outlet needed for AC power). Consequently, a need within the field of child receiving devices exists for a device adapted to selectively run on direct current and alternating current power. A need within this field also exists for an electrical assembly that permits a user to select the desired power source for powering the features of the child receiving device.

The present invention is generally directed to a child support structure capable of being powered in multiple electrical modes and, in particular, to an infant swing including an electronics assembly including an electrical device, an alternating current power supply connection, a direct current power supply connection, and a switching mechanism that selectively engages either the AC or DC power supply connection. The present invention is adapted to operate in either a first electrical mode in which the power source is an alternating current (AC) power source or a second electrical mode in which the power source is a direct current (DC) power source.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Generally, embodiments in accordance with the present invention provide a child support structure including a seat. More specifically, the seat may be pivotally connected to a supporting frame. The structure may further include a power transmission line operable to connect to a remote power source such as an alternating current source. The power transmission line may be at least partially hidden within the supporting frame, and may be adapted to separate from the frame when a predetermined amount of force is applied to the line. Embodiments in accordance with the present invention may further include an electronics assembly configured to operate in either a first electrical mode in which the power source is an alternating current (AC) power source or a second electrical mode in which the power source is a direct current (DC) power source. An electronics assembly in accordance with the present invention may include at least one electrical device such as a motor that drives the motion of the seat. In operation, a switching mechanism is utilized to select the electrical input mode of the device by completing the connection to the desired power source. Once selected by the switching mechanism, the electronics assembly directs power to the electrical device, driving the motion of the seat. A device in accordance with the present invention may also include additional electrical components such as a mobile, lights, a sound production unit, etc.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a child receiving device according an embodiment of the present invention

FIG. 2 is a close-up, rear view of the child receiving device of FIG. 1, showing the orientation of a power transmission line.

FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrate schematic diagrams of an electronics assembly of the child receiving device of FIG. 1 according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective, close-up front view of the second hub of the child receiving device of FIG. 1, showing a switch panel.

Like reference numerals have been used to identify like elements throughout this disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a child receiving device 10 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The device 10 may include a frame or support 100 and a child-receiving or seat portion 20 coupled to the frame 100. The frame 100 comprises a structure operable to support the seat 20 above a supporting surface 105. The frame 100 may include a first or front section 110 and a second or rear section 120. The front section 110 may comprise a generally U-shaped bar including a first leg 112, an intermediate portion or base 114, and a second leg 116. Similarly, the rear section 120 may comprise a generally U-shaped bar including a first leg 122, an intermediate portion or base 124, and a second leg 126. The base 114, 124 of each frame section 110, 120 may further include a pair of stabilizing feet 130 to provide additional support to the device 10. The frame 100 may be formed from material including, but not limited to, wood, plastic, and metal. In a preferred embodiment, the frame 100 comprises hollow metal tubes.

The front section 110 of the frame 100 and the rear 120 section of the frame 100 may be coupled to one or more housings. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the first legs 112, 122 of each section 110, 120 are coupled to a first housing 140, and the second legs 116, 126 of each section 110, 120 are coupled to a second housing 150. The manner of coupling is not limited to that shown herein, and may include both fixed and pivoting connections (to enable folding of the frame 100 for storage). One or more of the housings 140, 150 may contain mechanical, electrical, or electronic components used in the operation of the device 10. By way of example, as illustrated in FIG. 1, the second housing 150 may include a switch panel 152 including one or more switches that control the output of the device 10 (discussed in greater detail below). By way of further example, the second housing 150 may contain a drive mechanism operable to drive the seat 20 from a first seat position to a second seat position, generating a swinging motion (also discussed in greater detail below).

Each housing 140, 150 may further include a hub connected to a support arm, which, in turn, is connected to the seat 20. Specifically, the first housing 140 includes a first hub 145 connected to a first hanger arm 160. Similarly, the second housing 150 includes a second hub 155 connected a second hanger arm 165. The hanger arms 160, 165 support the seat 20 over the supporting surface 105. Each hub 145, 155 is adapted to pivot with respect to the housing 140, 150. A motorized drive mechanism within the second housing 150 (not illustrated in FIG. 1, although the motor is shown schematically in FIG. 3) is adapted to pivot the second hub 155 in an oscillating motion with respect to the second housing 150. The movement of the second hub 155 is transferred to the support arms 160, 165, as well as the seat 20. As a result, the seat 20 oscillates (swings) with respect to the frame 100.

The seat 20 may comprise a single molded structure. Alternatively, it may comprise a two piece structure including a separable seat back a seat bottom. The seat back may be adapted to recline with respect to the seat bottom. The seat 20 may also connect to a retaining member (not shown) such as a tray. Alternatively, or in addition to the tray, the seat bottom may include a crotch post 170.

The child support device 10 may also include an entertainment device 175. For example, the entertainment device 175 may include, but is not limited to a toy bar or a mobile. The entertainment device 175 may be coupled to one or more of the first hanger arm 160 (as illustrated in FIG. 1), the second hanger arm 165, the frame 100, the hubs 145, 155, and the retaining member (not shown). It is important to note that when the entertainment device 175 is connected to a moving segment of the child support device 10 (e.g., the seat 20 or hanger arms 160, 165), any motion imparted to that segment may be may be transferred to the entertainment device, e.g., thus imparting motion to items suspended from the entertainment device.

The child receiving device 10 may further be adapted to be connected to a power source located remote from the device. Specifically, a power transmission line 400 enables the connection of the electronics assembly within device 10 to a remote power source 500 such as an alternating current (AC) power source. FIG. 2 is a rear perspective view of the child receiving device 10 of FIG. 1. As illustrated, the power transmission line 400 may extend from an electrically powered device located in the second housing 150 (not illustrated) of the device 10, travel down the second leg 126 of the rear frame section 120, and exit via an aperture or exit point 205 positioned proximate the base 124, near the supporting surface 105. The remote power source 500 may include, but is not limited to, an alternating current power source (120/240V) such as a household outlet.

The power transmission line 400 may comprise any conduit capable of transmitting electrical energy from a power source 500 to the device 10. By way of example, the power transmission line 400 may comprise a power cord, an electrical wire, etc. Optionally, the power transmission line 400 may also include a transformer 410 operable to convert alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC). This is desirable if an electrical device within the support structure is designed to run only on a DC power source (e.g., if the motor is configured to run only on direct current). By way of specific example, the transformer 410 may comprise an AC/DC adapter (e.g., a 6.0V transformer available from Protronics Industrial Co., Ltd www.protronicshk.com).

The power transmission line 400, furthermore, may be configured to separate from the frame 100 of the device 10 when a predetermined amount of force is applied to the line 400. Still referring to FIG. 2, the power transmission line 400 comprises a first segment 420 releasably connected to a second segment 430 via a jack 440. The first segment 420, extending from the frame 100, includes a receptacle 450 that mates with a plug 460 disposed on the second segment 430. The second segment 430 extends from the plug 460 and to the remote power source 500 (via the transformer 410). The plug 460 may be releasably secured to the receptacle 450 (for example by a magnetic connection, or a friction fit). Consequently, when a predetermined amount of force is applied to the power transmission line 400 and/or the jack 440, the plug 460 detaches from the receptacle 450. With this configuration, should a user trip on the power transmission line 400, the segments 420, 430 will come apart, preventing entanglement of the user with the power transmission line 400. When connected, electricity flows from the remote power source 500, through the first 420 and second segments 430, and to the device 10. When the first segment 420 is separated from the second segment 430, power flow from the remote power source 500 to the device 10 is interrupted.

The child receiving device 10 may further include an electronics assembly 600 selectively powered by multiple power sources. FIGS. 3 and 4 collectively illustrate a schematic for an electronics assembly 600 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The electronics assembly 600 may include one or more electrical devices or components operatively connected to a control unit in communication with one or more switches. In the embodiment illustrated, the electrical devices include a motor 610, a speaker 620, and a light source 630. The motor 610 is operable to drive the motion of the seat 20 (as described above). The motor 610 may include any motor suitable for its intended purpose. By way of example, the motor may comprise a DC-powered magnet motor (RF-500TB motor, available from Mabuchi Motor Co., Ltd, Troy, Mich. (www.mabuchi-motor.co.jp)). The speaker 620 may comprise, but is not limited to, a 250 mW, 50 mm, 16 ohm speaker. Similarly, the light source 630 may comprise, but is not limited to, a grain of wheat (GOW) bulb and/or a light emitting diode (LED).

The switches included in the electronics assembly 600 of device 10 may correspond to the various interactive features of the device 10. Each switch may comprise, but is not limited to, a mechanical switch (pressure sensitive, contact, push, pivot, and slide), an electrical switch, a magnetic switch, an optical switch, etc. The number of switches included, moreover, is not limited to that illustrated herein. By way of example, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the electronics assembly 600 may include a first switch 640 (SW1A/B), a second switch 645 (SW2A/B), and a third switch 650 (SW3A/B). The first switch 640 (comprising switch poles SW1A and SW1B), may be configured to control the parameters of the motor 610 (e.g., set the speed at which the motor 610 pivots the second hub 155 and, as such, the speed and/or amplitude of motion of the seat 20). As illustrated, the first switch 640 may comprise a seven-position switch that alters the output of a potentiometer, providing six different motor speeds. Alternatively, the speed control unit can be any suitable control circuit capable of varying the current to the motor 610, such as a pulse width modulator, a rheostat, etc. The second switch 645 (comprising switch poles SW2A and SW2B) may be configured to alter the sensory output of the device 10, e.g., by adjusting the output volume of the speaker 620 (hi/lo). The third switch 650 (comprising switch poles SW3A and SW3B) may be adapted to control the electrical mode of the electronics assembly 600 (explained in greater detail below).

The electronics assembly 600 in accordance with the present invention may further be operatively connected to either a direct current (DC) power source and/or an alternating current (AC) power source. Referring to FIG. 4, the assembly 600 comprises a local power source 660 operable to supply energy to the components of the assembly (e.g., the motor 610, speaker 620, etc.). The local power source 660 may typically comprise a direct current (DC) power source such as batteries. By way of specific example, four “D-cell” batteries may be used. In addition to the direct current (DC) power source, the electronics assembly 600 is adapted to be operatively connected to an alternating current (AC) power source located remote from the device 10. As discussed above and as illustrated in FIG. 4, the electronics assembly 600 includes a power transmission line 400 operable to transmit electricity from a remote power source 500 such as an electrical outlet.

The motor 610, the speaker 620, the lights 630, each of the switches 640, 645, 650, the local power source 660, and the transmission line 400 are each operatively connected to a control unit 670, which is capable of producing switch-specific output. The type of control unit 670 is not limited that that illustrated herein, and includes microcontrollers, microprocessors, and other integrated circuits. By way of specific example, the control unit 670 may comprise a speech and melody processor (e.g., the W567S060 processor, available from Winbond Electronics Corporation of America, San Jose, Calif. (www.winbond-usa.com)). The control unit 670 recognizes and controls signals generated by the various switches 640, 645, 650, as well as generates and controls operational output directed through various sensory generating devices (the motor 610, the speaker 620, and the lights 630). The control unit 670 continually monitors the electronic status of the various switches, generating and altering the sensory output (e.g., movement, sounds, and/or lights) accordingly.

With this configuration, the electronics assembly 600 of the device 10 may selectively operate in either a first electrical mode, in which the power source is an alternating current (AC) power source, or a second electrical mode, in which the power source is a direct current (DC) power source. As discussed above, the third switch 650 is configured to designate the power source (AC or DC) supplying electricity to the electronics assembly 600. Specifically, setting the third switch 650 to a first position may complete the circuit receiving power from the local (battery/DC) power source 660, while setting the switch 650 to a second position may complete the circuit receiving power through the power transmission line 400 from the remote power source 500. Once the circuit is complete, the power is directed from the source 660, 500, energizing the electrical components of the electronics assembly 600 of the device 10.

FIG. 5 is a perspective close-up view of the second housing 150 (see FIG. 1 for reference), showing the switch panel 152. As shown, each switch on the panel 152 may correspond to each switch from the electronics assembly 600. As illustrated, one switch corresponds to the first switch 640 controlling the motor speed/swing amplitude, one switch corresponds to the second switch 645 controlling the audible sensory output, and one switch corresponds to the third switch 650, enabling the user to select the electrical mode of the device 10 to choose either a direct current 660 power source or an alternating current 500 power source.

While the invention has been described in detail and with reference to specific embodiments thereof, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope thereof. For example, while a full-sized swing is disclosed as the preferred embodiment, the support structure 100 may comprise other child receiving devices, including but not limited to bouncers, rockers, cribs, and portable swings. The material comprising the frame 100 is not limited, and may include metal tubes (e.g., aluminum or steel). The number of hanger arms supporting the seat 20 is not limited. For example, the swing may include a single hanger arm configured to support the seat 20 and oscillate it about a pivot point. The power transmission wire 400, in addition to comprising an AC power cord, may further comprise other power transmitting conduits such as USB wires, etc.. Additionally, the device 10 could include an internal AC/DC converter, thus eliminating the need for the external transformer 410. Also, the internal power source 660 could comprise a rechargeable batter pack (where the recharging could be achieved via the remote power source 500). Furthermore, the electrical made switch 650 could be replace with circuitry that automatically detects the presence of an AC power source—thus, when the device 10 is plugged into an external power source 500 (via line 400), the electronics assembly 600 would be automatically disconnected from internal DC power source 660. Finally, in theory, the motor 610 could be an AC motor and the electronics assembly 600 could include a DC to AC converter for the internal power source 660.

The electronics assembly 600 may include any combination of sensors, switches, lights, speakers, animated members, motors, and sensory output generating devices. The control unit 670 may produce any combination of audio and visual effects including, but not limited to, animation, lights, and sound (music, speech, and sound effects). The output pattern is not limited and includes any pattern of music, lights, and/or sound effects. The electronics assembly 600 may also include additional switches or sensors to provide additional sensory output activation. The assembly may further include additional rectifiers such as a high current/low current regulator (e.g., a 3.0 volt regulator HT75530 available from Holmate Semiconductor, Inc., Fremont, Calif. (www.holmate.com)).

Thus, it is intended that the present invention covers the modifications and variations of this invention that come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7905791Apr 11, 2008Mar 15, 2011Kids Ii, Inc.Control device for a swing
US8066577Jul 25, 2008Nov 29, 2011Excellerate Enterprise Co., Ltd.Infant swing
US8109775Nov 20, 2008Feb 7, 2012Graco Children's Products Inc.Juvenile product assembly with intrinsic electrical connection
US8197005 *Sep 2, 2009Jun 12, 2012Thorley Industries LlcInfant care apparatus
US8239984Sep 2, 2009Aug 14, 2012Thorley Industries LlcVariable motion infant seat utilizing constant motor speed
US8827366 *May 9, 2012Sep 9, 2014Thorley Industries LlcInfant care apparatus
US20100052387 *Sep 2, 2009Mar 4, 2010Thorley Industries, LlcInfant Care Apparatus
US20120216351 *May 9, 2012Aug 30, 2012Thorley Industries LlcInfant Care Apparatus
Classifications
U.S. Classification472/119
International ClassificationA63G9/16
Cooperative ClassificationA63H33/006, A47D13/105, A47D15/00
European ClassificationA47D13/10D, A47D15/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 4, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: MATTEL, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:ARMBRUSTER, MICHAEL;ENGLER, JAMES R.;REEL/FRAME:018377/0566
Effective date: 20060828