US 20070215663 A1
The invention is a water resistant case for carrying a variety of devices, particularly portable electronic devices, such as portable music players. The case is allows a user to protect a valuable device from damage by water, abrasion and or impact, yet provides for full use of the features of an individual device while the device is protected by the case. The case is embodied as a water resistant or waterproof bag, or pouch with a window, an interior compartment, an exterior and sealable closures for sealing the storage compartment from the outside environment. The case typically provides a tactile sensitive window for viewing a screen and manipulating the controls of a device. In addition a capability is provided for input and output from the device, such as output to stereo headphones. Other accessory components allow securing the case to a person or vehicle. Thus, there is great flexibility in adaptation of components and adapting the case to particular applications.
1. A water resistant case for a portable device, comprising
a) a water resistant back panel and a water resistant front panel, each having an outer exterior surface and connected to one another to define a case interior volume adapted to house a device, said case having a closed bottom and a top case aperture for accessing said case volume;
b) a securing mechanism attached to the back panel;
c) said front panel having a window allowing manipulation of a device housed within said case interior volume;
d) said case is adapted to transmit a signal between case exterior and a device housed in case interior volume; and
e) a case aperture closure capable of providing a water tight seal when said closure is engaged.
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14. A sealable, reusable pouch for a portable device, said pouch comprising:
(a) a fabric bag having a closed lower end, an open, sealable mouth, defining a storage compartment and a pouch exterior;
(b) a provision for communication between the pouch exterior and pouch contents in the storage compartment;
(c) a shock absorbing component disposed inside the pouch; and
d) a water tight seal for providing a water tight seal to the mouth of said case mouth when said seal is closed, wherein the sealed pouch is capable of excluding water to a depth of 10 meters.
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23. A waterproof case for a portable electronic device, comprising a waterproof back panel and a waterproof front panel connected with a waterproof seal to one another, each having an outer surface and, defining a case interior volume adapted to house said device, an upper case aperture, a lower case bottom and a case exterior, a securing mechanism attached to the case, a front panel with a translucent control window allowing manipulation of an electronic device carried in the interior volume of said case, an input output connector with at least two interconnected ports, wherein at least one port is disposed in the interior volume of said case, and at least one port is disposed at the exterior of said case, a case aperture closure with a zipper seal and a roll seal capable of providing a water tight seal when said closure is engaged, such that the portable electronic device housed in the case interior volume can be connected to one input output port, sealed within the case interior by engaging the case aperture closure, and be controlled or utilized while said portable electronic device is protected from water damage.
The present invention generally relates to a variety of cases, bags, pouches and the like developed to cushion and protect objects and devices placed inside against damage from the elements, and shock from dropping or impact. The present invention provides for a sealable, reusable case, storage compartment and pouch. More particularly the present invention relates to a protective enclosure for electronic devices carried in a storage compartment.
As users of portable electronic devices are aware, it is desirable to protect the device from damage or accidental injury that may occur during routine use of the device. MP3 players, for instance, are often used during heavy exercise or other physical activity, as described above, and will be apparent to those skilled in the art. There is a continuing difficulty in balancing the desire to protect the device from damage with the need to have access to the input and output functions of the device. To be particularly useful, a protective case must provide protection, allow manipulation and control of the device, and provide for input and output of signals to and from the encased device.
A wide variety of protective cases exist and are produced. Unfortunately, no existing case provides for the requirements desired by users of portable electronic devices that commonly utilize valuable devices in adverse environments, and require the ability to use and control the device while the device is protected from environmental insult. In particular there are a wide a variety of hard “clam shell” cases for electronic devices, with an external actuating means. For instance, U.S. Patent Application No. 2005/0174727 discloses a waterproof protective enclosure for interactive electronic devices such as PDAs, iPods, and MP3s. This case has a viewing panel, and is nominally watertight, with a rigid case having hinges for folding and closing the halves of the case, providing for a gasketed seal between the haves of the case, an out put jack, and a tactile control flat-panel. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 6,456,487 discloses an enclosure for electronic devices such as PDAs providing moisture protection, a touch screen display screen, mobile electronic terminals, and electronic connectors between PDAs and the enclosure. A heavier, rigid case for tablet or notebook computers is described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,871,138. Generally, all such cases often provide for enclosing a few very similar devices, and provide a level of environmental protection, a display screen, a stylus sensitive panel and inlet and outlet electronic ports
These cases, unfortunately do not easily allow a variety of devices to be utilized with a particular case, and presumably a different case must be provided for each model of the wide variety of devices marketed.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,915,934 discloses a protective enclosure with a line-out device adapted for use with electronic componentry, and providing for storage areas for electronic devices, a viewing window detail, a strap, and weather resistant capability. This device is similar to a wide variety of backpacks and purses that provide minimal protection from shock or the elements, with the design of the enclosure focusing on a provision for carrying the enclosure and providing an output jack. Other cases are known which are primarily designed as carry cases, such as that disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,604,630, providing a lightweight, water resistant carry case for equipment such as an ultrasound machine, and is representative of soft-side carry cases with protective features. Such cases provide only moderate environmental protection, such as protection from rare accidental splashes.
Thus, there remains a need for adaptable cases for carrying portable electronic devices providing protection for the device from water and soiling, protecting the encased device from impact damage, while allowing the device to be controlled and utilized. A case providing the protective aspects desired, while providing for a flexible, tactilely and aesthetically pleasing exterior is desired by many users of portable devices.
The invention is embodied in a case for carrying portable devices, said case having a back panel and a front panel connected to one another, defining a case interior, a case aperture, and a case exterior; a case securing mechanism attached to the back panel for the purpose of securing or removeably attaching the case to a user, person or other object; a front panel with a window that allows for manipulation of an electronic device carried in the case interior, an input output connector with at least two ports, with one port disposed into the interior of the case, and at least one port is disposed towards the exterior of the case; and a case aperture closure capable of providing a water tight seal when the closure is engaged.
The invention is embodied in a case that offers various combinations of elements, including for example, a sealing system combining three water excluding mechanisms, a waterproof flexible pocket for the device, an external I/O port and a control window.
In an alternative embodiment of the invention the case is a sealable, reusable pouch for a carrying a portable device. The pouch may be comprised of a fabric outer bag having a closed lower end, an open, sealable mouth, defining a storage compartment and a pouch exterior, providing for communication between the pouch exterior and pouch contents carried in the storage compartment. The pouch may be embodied to include a shock absorbing component disposed inside the pouch and a water tight seal for providing a water tight seal to the mouth of said case mouth when said seal is closed, thus the sealed pouch is capable of excluding water from the storage compartment when immersed in water to a depth of 10 meters.
The invention is further embodied in a waterproof case for a portable electronic device, comprising a waterproof back panel and a waterproof front panel connected with a waterproof seal to one another, each having an outer surface and, defining a case interior volume adapted to house said device, an upper case aperture, a lower case bottom and a case exterior, a securing mechanism attached to the case, a front panel with a translucent control window allowing manipulation of an electronic device carried in the interior volume of said case, an input output connector with at least two interconnected ports, wherein at least one port is disposed in the interior volume of said case, and at least one port is disposed at the exterior of said case, a case aperture closure with a zipper seal and a roll seal capable of providing a water tight seal when said closure is engaged, such that the portable electronic device housed in the case interior volume can be connected to one input output port, sealed within the case interior by engaging the case aperture closure, and be controlled or utilized while said portable electronic device is protected from water damage.
The invention is further embodied in a case for carrying portable electronic devices providing a flexible fabric storage compartment that can be sealed so as to be water and or gas tight, an external I/O port allowing connection of output devices such as headphones and a tactile sensitive control window allowing manipulation of the device while the device remains in a environmentally isolated compartment.
Advantages of the present invention include previously unavailable features of a resilient, fabric case for carrying devices that provides protection from the outside environment, allows for secure carrying of the case while engaged in strenuous activity, and the ability to fully utilize the input output capabilities of the encased device, while providing for control of the encased device.
Further advantages of the invention will be apparent from the description contained herein.
For a fuller understanding of the nature and advantages of the present invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:
The invention is embodied in a case for carrying portable electronic devices that protects the device from water and soiling while allowing the device to be controlled and utilized.
The invention is exemplified by a case made of waterproof material and with a sealable pocket for holding the device. The case is designed for securely carrying portable electronic devices that require an output jack such cellphones, PDA's, MP3 players, iPods, global positioning systems (GPS), notebook computers, wearable computers, tablet computers and computer drives. The device is embodied with a pocket with a translucent window of material that is touch sensitive (i.e. tactile), allowing the user to view the screen and manipulate the controls of the device (for instance the click wheel of an iPod). The case has a waterproof output jack that serves as an output port for headphones or the like. The case of the invention most typically is embodied in a case that provides one, two, three, or more case closure sealing mechanisms, with the number being dependent on the security required for the water proof closure. An iPod or other electronic device is sealed within the case pocket and connected to an internally disposed input jack, with headphones plugged into an externally disposed output jack. The inventive case most typically provides for multiple means of securing the case to a person, or bicycle, for instance. Particular embodiments contemplated include, for example, an armband, a belt, belt loops, loops with snap-rings, and loops with a lanyard. In particular the case provides for both the ability to manipulate and or control the encased device and provides a sealed case capable of excluding liquids and environmental hazards.
A portable music player, as may be used with the inventive case, typically is used to play music through headphones or portable speakers. The headphones are plugged into a jack connected to a line out connector from the device output. Typically the head phones are stereo headphones and are plugged into a stereo mini-jack connected to the line out such that two channels of audio signal are carried from the device through the line out jack to the headphones, where sound is produced.
Turning now to
Case aperture 70 is closed by a case aperture closure 60 capable of providing a water tight seal when the case aperture closure is in an engaged position. Case aperture closure 60 is shown in the engaged position in
The case front panel 52 may be constructed with a window 76. As shown in
In a preferred embodiment of the invention case 50 has a waterproof jack 80 that functions as an input/output port (I/O port) for headphones or the like. In another embodiment of the invention jack 80 is connected to a cable disposed in the case interior, allowing connection of a connector jack to devices disposed inside the case interior 72, connecting jack 80 to the particular device, such as device 77. Thus, jack 80 will typically function as an input/output connector with at least two ports, wherein at least one port is disposed in the interior 72 of case 50, and at least one port is disposed at the exterior 74 of case 50. Further description of the various and optional characteristics of the I/O port of the case are disclosed below.
Case 50 is optionally supplied with a securing mechanism 84. Securing mechanism 84 may be attached to the case back panel 54. As shown in
Referring now to
As shown in
In a preferred embodiment, as shown in
Case 50 is further and optionally adaptable to provide both a water tight case interior 72, along with an open pocket 104 that allows only moderate protection from the elements, but increases the accessibility of items placed in pocket 104. Pocket 104 may be integrally formed as part of strap connector 90, so that pocket flap 106 and strap connector 90 are multifunctional. For instance, securing the pocket flap bottom 108 to the case back panel 54 while leaving the pocket flap top open, creates pocket 104, utilizing elements of strap connector 90. Alternatively, pocket 104 can be lined with water resistant material in order to separate the path of belt 86 threaded through strap slots 92 from the interior of pocket 104. Thus, pocket 104 may offer moderate protection of a device or other items carried in pocket 104 from the elements, while allowing easy access to those stored items.
Turning now to
A device 77 may be removeably disposed in the case interior 72. Comparison of a removed device 77 in
Jack 220 provides for an I/O port accessible from the outside of the case located generally at 222. In a preferred embodiment of the invention port 222 is a female stereo-mini plug, allowing connection to the most common portable headphones available on the consumer electronics market. Jack 220 may be located on front panel 52 as shown, or alternatively at other locations, for instance, on back panel 54, on gusset 56, or as otherwise suitable for a particular application. Primary considerations for locating jack 220 is a preference to locate jack 220 where it is easily accessible to users, and also to locate jack 220 where integrity of the case can be maintained, avoiding structural weakening, and or leaks. When used for electrical connections, port 222 of jack 220 is in electrical connectivity with cable 224 that is removeably disposed in the case interior 72, allowing electrical connection of a connector jack 226 to a compatible device port 228 provided by devices disposed inside the case interior 72, thus electrically connecting jack 220 to the particular device, such as device 77. In a typical application, port 222 is female three conductor stereo-mini electrical connector, cable 224 is a coaxial three conductor cable, connector jack 226 is embodied as a male three conductor stereo-mini electrical connector and device port 228 is a female three conductor stereo-mini electrical connector. Those skilled in the art will recognize that a variety of physical and or electrical connections are available to connect or allow interaction between a device within the case interior 72 and an auxiliary device or user located outside the case.
Jack 220 in one embodiment, is shown to be formed of a single piece of resilient material that is integrally formed to provide an air or water tight seal of the connection between port 222 and cable 224. Jack assembly 220 in another embodiment comprises a protruding boot 230 that surrounds and supports port 222, and a flange 232 that forms a seal at 234 around a jack aperture occupied by jack boot 230, allowing port 222 to be maintained at the case exterior 74, and cable 224 in the case interior 72.
The invention provides for a case with a case aperture closure capable of providing a water tight and or pressure resistant seal when the case aperture closure is engaged. Turning now to a more thorough description of the case aperture closure system, as embodied in
The case aperture closure, shown generally at 60, of case 50 is embodied in one or more mutually compatible sealing mechanisms. Case 50 is embodied with three such mechanisms, including a zipping waterproof closure shown generally at 240, a roll-up type sealing closure, shown generally at 250, and a fold-back sealing closure, shown generally at 260. Each of these closures will be treated in turn.
Closure 240 is embodied as a pressure resealable zipper top, or a so-called zipper-lock bag seal. Examples of typical pressure resealable zipper seals are disclosed in, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,186,786 to G. F. Kirkpatrick, filed Sep. 29, 1978; U.S. Pat. No. 4,363,345 to G. H. Schreibner, filed Nov. 18, 1991; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,009,828 to J. O. McCree, filed Oct. 11, 1989, the disclosures of which are incorporated by reference. A closure such as that shown at 240, includes Zip-lock® type seals, and wide a variety of zipper-like pressure recloseable closures are well known. A typical closure of this type is found in U.S. Pat. No. 4,363,345. The zipper-like closure has engaging ridges, as at 242 for engagement of a female zipper fastener element with an opposing male fastener element. A variety of embodiments of a pressure resealable zipper seal to be used as part of the case are contemplated, including a different numbers of engaging ridges 242 forming the zipper seal, provision for a release grip ridge, as at 246, and the optional use of a zipper seal slider to assist in securely sealing and opening the pressure resealable zipper seal. As shown in
The inventive case, as embodied in
It will be apparent that in order to function as a roll-up seal, the material forming the roll-up seal must be sufficiently flexible to be rolled. As such, it is contemplated that the roll-up seal will be constructed of a fabric, for instance, a textile fabric, a waterproof fabric, plastic or plasticized sheeting, or the like. It will also be apparent that the number of rolls accommodated by rolling the opposed surfaces of the front panel seal portion 252 and back panel seal portion 254 can be varied, by varying the relative length of said front panel seal portion 252 and back panel seal portion 254, and by varying the thickness or flexibility of the fabric forming rolling the opposed surfaces of the front panel seal portion 252 and back panel seal portion 254.
Referring briefly again to
Returning now to
Case aperture closure system 270 is in the closed or engaged condition, and demonstrates three compatible closure mechanisms, including a pressure engageable zipper closure shown generally at 240 in the sealed condition, a roll-up type sealing closure, shown generally at 250, in the rolled or sealed condition and a fold-back sealing closure, shown generally at 260 in the engaged position i.e. a closed condition. Closure 240 as a pressure resealable zipper reveals in cross section engaging ridges 242 and 244, affixed to the back panel and front panel respectively. The roll-up type sealing closure, as at 250, being rolled up to create a seal, wherein front panel seal portion 252 and back panel seal portion 254 are held in tight apposition, and if sufficient tightly held, in a water and or pressure tight apposition with one another. Thus the roll-up type seal 250 helps to assure that even if the zipper closure 240 fails, or is inadequately sealed, a reliable seal of the case interior is still maintained. Moreover, engagement of the roll-type closure seal will, as shown, serve to reinforce the closure engagement of the zipper-type seal 240, preventing its accidental disengagement. As will be apparent, the creation or maintenance of a reliable roll-up seal may be enhanced by increasing the rolls formed by front panel seal portion 252 and back panel seal portion 254 or alternatively or in addition, by adding a flap closure, clip or other feature to provide for the maintenance of the tightly rolled seal.
Case 50 is shown with two independent securing mechanisms 76. A belt or other strap may be inserted through strap connector 90 is shown attached to outside back panel 354 providing strap slot 92. A second securing mechanism is provided by eye ring loops 96 with an eye 98, and attaching tab 102 passing through a slot in eye ring loop 96. Attaching tab 102 is shown attached to outside back panel 354 by stitching 58. Case 50, as shown, provides a water and or pressure tight case interior 72, along with an externally accessible open pocket 104 providing moderate protection from the elements with increases the accessibility to items placed in pocket 104. Pocket 104 may be integrally formed by outside back panel 354, with attachments for strap connector 90.
When a user of portable devices, such as portable electronic devices, wishes to protect a device securely from the elements or environmental hazards, maximum protection can be obtained by using elements of the inventive case. The device is connected to the i/o port, and slid into the open case, as shown in
Another advantage of the case of the invention is provision for a variety of compatible means of securing the case to an object of the user's choice.
As shown in
A case carried by a user such as that shown in
A variety of shock absorbing mechanisms are known in the art, including commercially available systems such as the Tec Air™ system sold by the Computer Luggage Co., and as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,884,768 and European Patent No. 0 797 939. Additional and similar features are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,131,734 and 6,334,534.
Case 50 is preferably made of waterproof material. In other embodiments of the invention, the case may be made of materials that are merely water resistant. The invention is embodied in a case that is both flexible, allowing the accommodation of a variety of sizes and shapes of items in the case interior, and capable of being made waterproof. As used herein water resistant refers to material that is capable, at least, of resisting or impeding the passage of liquid water by mass flow, capillary or wicking action. Thus, water resistant material may not prevent all passage of liquid water under pressure. Water tight refers to connections between components that are at least water resistant. As defined herein, waterproof refers to the capability of withstanding immersion in water or other non-corrosive or non reactive liquid other than water. Such immersion could be as little as splashing or dropping the case on or in water, or by submersion to a depth of, for instance, 10 cm, 1 m, 10 m, 50 m, or 100 m. The physical laws pressure provide that the deeper the depth of submersion in water, the greater the water pressure will be that the case must withstand in order to exclude water from the case interior. The water restricting elements of the case will necessarily be adapted to better withstand water pressure that is anticipated for use with a particular case design. Waterproof material can range from gas proof to gas permeable, including such breathable fabrics and fabric coatings such as Gore-Tex®. The case may in certain applications be constructed to be not only waterproof, but also gas proof, such that gases cannot escape the sealed case.
An advantage of the present case over any available fabric case is the ability to thoroughly protect a device carried in the case when engaged in a variety of water and snow sports. The case is particularly useful to canoeists, kayakers, boaters, rafting venturers, surfers, sailboarders, beach combers, distance swimmers, and fisherman. When a waterproof embodiment of the case is sealed, and all aperture closures engaged, a device can be used in these activities without worry of damage. A kayaker or raft venturer, for instance can be thrown from the water craft and submerged, and if the case is secured to the user, the device will be protected from water damage. Moreover, in most embodiments, there will be sufficient gas contained within the sealed case to provide positive buoyancy, allowing the case to float to the surface of the water, and be easily retrieved. The case can be specifically designed to contain sufficient floatation material to maintain positive buoyancy. Alternatively, for cases embodied to allow use in deep water diving, buoyant components can be minimized to allow the case to have neutral or negative buoyancy, i.e. to sink.
In certain applications, it is desired that the case by humidically sealed, such that water vapor cannot pass through to the interior of a sealed case (and conversely, out of the sealed case). Such application may be useful when devices must be used in environments with high humidity, exposure to which the enclosed device may be damaged. In other applications, there may be a desire to allow excess humidity to exit the case in the form of water vapor. Thus, the case body can be alternatively waterproofed by lamination of breatheable fabric or coatings to the structural fabric of the case panels, and allow gas or water vapor in the case exterior to equilibrate with the case interior. In another alternative embodiment, small grommets of breathable material can be affixed to the case to allow gas exchange.
The case is adaptable to use with a variety of i/o jacks, including, but not limited to electrical and or other physical connections, such as fluidic (e.g., air, pressure, hydraulic), optical (e.g., infrared, fiber optic, laser), and electromagnetic (e.g., microwave, telephonic, radiofrequency (RF)). For electrical connectivity, a common male female jack combination is known as a ‘stereo-mini’ connector, with the female stereo-mini line out jack forming a modular connection with the male stereo-mini jack connector on the headphone set. Alternatively, the modular connector may be of a variety of different modular connectors, such as for instance, USB male female connectors, iPod docking connectors, S-video connectors, mini RCA jacks, RCA jacks, video connectors, or adaptor connectors. Other types of connections are contemplated by the invention, including electrically isolated connections, such as RF connections, wireless network connections, optical connections, pressure transducers, and any other connection that may be useful with a device to be carried within the case of the invention.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, a stereo-mini connector jack is provided, as at jack 80, that is constructed in such a manner as to avoid or prevent the entry of liquids into a sealed case, such as by wicking through a stranded wire cable openly connected to the port of the connector jack. In light duty applications, a water proof connection is produced by use of standard connector jacks, and standard solder connections, as unless water is forced into the connector under great pressure, such as would occur from deep immersion the insulation typically associated with speaker or headphone cabling forms a sufficient seal for excluding water. In other embodiments of the equipment case, the jack connectors utilized with the case enclosure can be equipped with, for instance, rubber gasketing, O-rings, and or resilient seals to exclude water from traveling along the connector cable. Alternatively, specialized pressure resistant connector jacks can be utilized that are specifically designed to provide a stronger barrier against water entry into the case interior. Such connector jacks are known to artisans, in particular to applications use in deep water diving, or high altitude work. One example of a pressure resistant connector jack known in the art is shown in
Stitching 58 can be of solid or rubberized thread to make the connection between from panel, gusset and back panel more water resistant, or alternatively, for example, stitching 58 can be coated with a sealant, waterproofing agent, resilient gasket material, or further sealed by heat treatment, rubberizing, or by glues or other adhesives.
In another embodiment of the invention gusset 56 can alternatively, for example, be pleated to allow expansion of the case interior, be formed of different material than the back panel and front panels, and or be attached to the front panel and back panel by means other than sewing, such as by heat sealing, molding or gluing. In an alternative embodiment, the case of the invention is constructed of a single sheet of material, rather than as separate pieces joined by a gusset. A case can be easily constructed from an elongated piece of waterproof material, by folding the material and affixing two additional sides to produce a pouch shaped as case 50 of
The particular means employed to form a case interior, a case aperture and a case exterior are not specifically limited so long as a closeable case aperture is available to allow insertion of a device, and seal of the closure to limit the entry of water, liquids, solids, gases, solvents, dust, dirt or corrosive substances. Those skilled in the art of the fabrication of cases will recognize that in certain applications, gusset 58 can be dispensed with, allowing front panel 52 to be connected to the back panel 54, one another defining a case interior, a case aperture and a case exterior. A further embodiment of the invention is to form the case interior by closing one end of a tube of resilient material and forming or attaching a case closure at the other end delimiting a case interior, a case aperture and a case exterior. Other means to form the enclosed case according to the invention will be obvious to artisans.
“Attached” according to the present invention includes affixation by means of sewing, stitching, fastening with an adhesive, adhesive bonding, double-face adhesive means, heat sealing, welding, high frequency or ultrasonic welding, crimped seals, or other means known to artisans. “Fabric” according to the present invention refers to any generally planar flexible material and includes, but is not limited to any type of textile or non textile fabric, whether woven, molded, extruded, spun, or cast or other material generally considered fabric by users, so long as the fabric is capable of generally conforming to the shape of an object pressed against said object.
While the invention has been described with reference to various embodiments, those skilled in the art will understand that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope and essence of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiments disclosed, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims. In this application all units are in the metric system and all amounts and percentages are by weight, unless otherwise expressly indicated. Also, all citations referred herein are expressly incorporated herein by reference.