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Publication numberUS20070261978 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/382,661
Publication dateNov 15, 2007
Filing dateMay 10, 2006
Priority dateMay 10, 2006
Publication number11382661, 382661, US 2007/0261978 A1, US 2007/261978 A1, US 20070261978 A1, US 20070261978A1, US 2007261978 A1, US 2007261978A1, US-A1-20070261978, US-A1-2007261978, US2007/0261978A1, US2007/261978A1, US20070261978 A1, US20070261978A1, US2007261978 A1, US2007261978A1
InventorsDavid Sanderson
Original AssigneeDavid Sanderson
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Waterproof case for electronic devices
US 20070261978 A1
Abstract
The present invention provides protective waterproof cases for portable media players such as iPods. In an exemplary embodiment, the waterproof case comprises a transparent polycarbonate shell having an interior compartment formed therein and comprising upper and lower portions that can be detached for placing a portable player in the interior compartment. A polyurethane overmold is molded over selected portions of the shell to form protective layers on the exterior and interior surfaces of the shell. The waterproof case also comprises a window through which the screen of the player can be viewed, and a flexible pad for operating the player while it is in the waterproof case. The waterproof case further comprises a gasket for forming a watertight seal between the upper and lower portions of the shell when they are attached, and a compressible fitting for forming a watertight seal for a headphone connected to the player in the case.
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Claims(20)
1. A protective waterproof case for a portable media player, comprising:
a substantially transparent shell having an interior compartment formed therein, wherein the shell comprises upper and lower portions that can be detached from each other for placing the portable media player in the interior compartment, and the shell has a hole positioned over a control of the portable media player when the player is placed in the interior compartment; and
a flexible pad covering the shell hole, wherein the flexible pad allows a user to operate the control of the portable media player while the player is in the case.
2. The protective case of claim 1, further comprising a polyurethane overmold molded over portions of the exterior surface of the shell to form a protective layer.
3. The protective case of claim 2, wherein the polyurethane overmold is molded over the shell hole to form the flexible pad.
4. The protective case of claim 3, wherein a portion of the polyurethane overmold forming the flexible pad extends over the interior compartment to secure the flexible pad to the shell.
5. The protective case of claim 3, wherein the polyurethane overmold is molded to form protective bumps on the exterior surface of the shell.
6. The protective case of claim 3, wherein the polyurethane overmold is molded to form gripping ribs on the exterior surface of the shell.
7. The protective case of claim 3 wherein the polyurethane overmold is molded over portions of the interior compartment of the shell.
8. The protective case of claim 3, wherein the polyurethane overmold is molded in a grove in the upper portion of the shell to form a gasket around the upper portion of the shell, and the gasket forms a watertight seal between the upper and lower portions of the shell when they are attached.
9. The protective case of claim 1, wherein the shell comprises polycarbonate.
10. The protective case of claim 1, further comprising:
a compressible fitting adapted to fit around a headphone adapter or a portion of a headphone;
a stem extending from the shell having an inner space for receiving and holding the compressible fitting therein and having an opening to the interior compartment of the shell; and
a cap configured to fit onto the stem and having an opening, wherein the cap is configured to compress the compressible fitting between the stem and the cap when the compressible fitting is placed in the stem and the cap is fitted onto the stem.
11. The protective case of claim 10, wherein the cap is configured to screw onto the stem.
12. The protective case of claim 11, wherein the compressible fitting has two opposing conically-shaped ends, and the stem and the cap each have angles surfaces configured to engage the conically-shaped ends of the compressible fitting.
13. The protective case of claim 1, wherein the flexible pad has a substantially circular shape.
14. The protective case of claim 10, wherein the flexible pad has a convex-shaped central portion.
15. The protective case of claim 1, further comprising:
a clip having two sides; and
rails formed on a back side of the shell, wherein the sides of the clip are configured to slide into the rails of the shell to attach the clip to the shell.
16. A protective waterproof case for a portable media player, comprising:
a shell having an interior compartment formed therein, wherein the shell comprises upper and lower portions that can be detached from each other for placing the portable media player in the interior compartment, and the shell has a hole positioned over a control of the portable media player when the player is placed in the interior compartment; and
a polyurethane overmold molded over selected portions of the shell, wherein the polyurethane overmold is molded over portions of the exterior surface of the shell to form a protective layer, the polyurethane overmold is molded over the shell hole to form a flexible pad for allowing a user to operate the control of the portable media player while the player is in the case, and the polyurethane overmold is molded over portions of the interior compartment.
17. The protective case of claim 16, wherein a portion of the polyurethane overmold forming the flexible pad extends over the interior compartment to secure the flexible pad to the shell.
18. The protective case of claim 16, wherein the polyurethane overmold is molded in a grove in the upper portion of the shell to form a gasket around the upper portion of the shell, and the gasket forms a watertight seal between the upper and lower portions of the shell when they are attached.
19. The protective case of claim 16, wherein the polyurethane overmold is molded to form protective bumps of the exterior surface of the shell.
20. The protective case of claim 16, wherein the shell is substantially transparent, and the polyurethane overmold is translucent with a color shading.
Description

The present invention relates to waterproof cases, and more particularly to waterproof cases for electronic devices.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Portable digital media players have become popular for providing portable media, e.g., music, to people on the go, e.g., commuters, and to sports enthusiasts, e.g., joggers, bikers, etc. Presently, the most popular portable digital media player in the United States is the iPod media player from Apple Computer, Inc.

A problem with portable media players is that they are not waterproof and are therefore susceptible to water damage. However, many people desire to use portable media players while they are engaging in water-related activities such as water sports, e.g., surfing and swimming, and showering.

Accordingly, there is a need for waterproof cases for electronic devices, and particularly for portable media players.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides protective waterproof cases for portable media players.

A waterproof case according to an exemplary embodiment comprises a transparent polycarbonate shell having an interior compartment formed therein and comprising upper and lower portions that can be detached for placing the portable media player to be protected in the interior compartment. A polyurethane overmold is molded over selected portions of the shell to form protective layers on the exterior interior surfaces of the shell. The polyurethane overmold may also be molded to form protective bumps and gripping ribs on the exterior of the shell.

The waterproof case further comprises a window formed in the shell through which the screen of the player in the case can be viewed, and a flexible pad for operating the player while it is in the waterproof case. In a preferred embodiment, the flexible pad is formed by molding the polyurethane overmold over a hole in the shell. The waterproof case further includes a gasket around the upper portion of the shell for forming a watertight seal between the upper and lower portions of the shell when they are attached. In a preferred embodiment, the gasket is formed by molding the polyurethane overmold in a groove in the upper portion of the shell.

In an embodiment, the waterproof case further comprises a headphone adapter for connecting the player in the case to a headphone or other sound reproducing device. The headphone adapter includes a plug at one end for plugging into the jack of the player and a jack at another end for connecting to a headphone. A compressible fitting is fitted around the adapter. The waterproof case further comprises a stem on the shell having an inner space for receiving the compressible fitting and an opening to the interior compartment. To form a watertight seal for the headphone, the compressible fitting is placed in the stem with the adaptor plugged into the player in the case. A cap with an opening for the adapter is then screwed onto the stem over the compressible fitting. As the cap is screwed onto the stem, the compressible fitting is compressed between the stem and the cap, thereby forming a watertight seal for the headphone.

In another embodiment, a clip can be attached to the waterproof case for clipping the waterproof case to a belt, armband, shorts, neck strap, or the like.

Other systems, methods, features and advantages of the invention will be or will become apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following figures and detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective front view of a waterproof case according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the waterproof case.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the waterproof case showing upper and lower portions of the case detached for placing a portable media player in an interior compartment of the case, and showing a headphone adapter with a compressible fitting.

FIG. 4 is a front view of the waterproof case.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of the waterproof case taken along line 5 in FIG. 4, and showing a user pressing down on the control of a media player in the case through a flexible pad.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the waterproof taken along line 6 in FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the waterproof case taken along line 7 in FIG. 2.

FIG. 8 is a perspective back view of the waterproof case showing rails on the back of the case for attaching a belt clip to the case.

FIG. 9 is a front view of a belt clip that can be attached to the waterproof case by sliding the clip into the rails.

FIG. 10 is a side view of the belt clip.

FIG. 11 is a front view of another clip, which can be used to attached the waterproof case to a neck strap.

FIG. 12 is a side view of the clip in FIG. 11.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a neck strap that can be attached to the waterproof case using the clip shown in FIGS. 11-12.

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a waterproof case according to another embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Turning to the drawings, FIGS. 1 and 2 show a perspective and side view, respectively, of a protective waterproof case 10 according to an embodiment. The waterproof case 10 in this particular embodiment is dimensioned to protect a Gen 4 iPod media player The waterproof case 10 may also be dimensioned to protect other models and other portable media players. Preferably, the waterproof case 10 comprises a transparent polycarbonate shell 15 forming an interior compartment 30 therein, in which the iPod media player to be protected is placed. The shell 15 may also be made of other rigid or semi-rigid plastics.

The case 10 further comprises a polyurethane overmold 18 molded over selected portions of the shell 15, e.g., by injection molding. The polyurethane overmold 18 may be translucent with a color shading, e.g., blue. Polyurethane is preferred because it forms a tight bond with the polycarbonate shell 15. Polyurethane is also a soft pliable plastic. Other soft plastics may be used for the overmold including, e.g., thermalplastic elastomers (TPE). The polyurethane overmold 18 is preferably molded over the exterior surface of the shell 15 along the top, bottom, and sides of the shell 15 to form a protective layer around the shell 15. The polyurethane overmold 18 is also molded to form protective bumps 19 on the front and back of the case 10, and gripping ribs 20 on the sides of the case 10, as shown in the FIGS. 1 and 2.

The shell 15 comprises detachable upper and lower portions 23 and 25 that can be detached from each other for placing the iPod media player 27 in the interior compartment 30 of the case 10, as shown in FIG. 3. The upper portion 23 includes a transparent window 33 formed in the transparent shell 15 through which a user can view the iPod screen. The window 33 may be slightly recessed in the case 10 to prevent scratches to the window 33.

The lower portion 25 includes a flexible pad 35 overlying the control wheel of the iPod media player 27 in the case 10. The flexible pad 35 is preferably created by a hole in the shell 15 that is covered by a flexible layer of polyurethane or other flexible material. The polyurethane overmold 18 is preferably molded over the shell hole to form the flexible pad 35. FIG. 5 shows the polyurethane overmold 18 molded over the shell hole 37 to form the flexible pad 35. A portion of the polyurethane overmold 18 forming the flexible pad 35 extends over the interior compartment 30 and sides of the hole 37 to secure the flexible pad 35 to the shell 15. The flexible pad 36 is capable of flexing downward and touching the control wheel of the iPod media player 27. This allows the user to manipulate the control wheel of the iPod media player 27 through the flexible pad 35, and thereby operate the iPod 27 while it is in the waterproof case 10. FIG. 5 shows the user's finger pressing down on the control wheel of the iPod media player 27 through the flexible pad 35. In this embodiment the flexible pad 35 preferably has a circular shape matching the shape of the iPod's control wheel. The flexible pad 35 also preferably has a smooth slippery surface that allows the user to easily glide his or her finger across the flexible pad 35. The flexible pad 35 may include a convex central portion 42 matching the shape of the central select button of the control wheel to give the flexible pad 35 the feel of the iPod's control wheel. The flexible pad 35 may have other shapes corresponding to the controls of other portable media players.

To attach the upper and lower portions 23 and 25 of the case 10, an attachment portion 50 of the upper portion 23 is inserted into a receiving portion 53 of the lower portion 25. The case 10 includes a gasket 55 or seal around the attachment portion 50. The gasket 55 may comprise polyurethane or other compressible material. The polyurethane overmold 18 may be molded in a groove in the upper portion 23 of the shell 15 to form the gasket 55. When the attachment portion 50 is inserted into the receiving portion 53, the gasket 55 compresses against the inner walls of the receiving portion 53 forming a watertight seal between the upper and lower portions 23 and 25, as shown in FIG. 5.

The waterproof case 10 further includes a headphone adapter 60 for connecting a headphone (not shown) to the iPod media player 27 in the case 10, which is best shown in FIG. 3. The adapter 60 may be used for connecting a headphone that cannot be plugged directly into the iPod media player, e.g., because the diameter of the headphone plug is different from the diameter of the headphone jack 65 of the iPod media player 27. The adapter 60 is not required for headphones that can be plug directly to the iPod media player 27.

The adapter 60 includes a plug 63 at one end that is inserted into the headphone jack 65 of the iPod media player 27 in the case 10 and a jack 67 at the other end into which the plug of the headphone (not shown) is inserted. A compressible fitting 70 is fitted around the adapter 60. The compressible fitting 70 may comprise polyurethane or other compressible material. The polyurethane used for the compressible fitting 70 may be the same as that used for the polyurethane overmold 18. In this particular embodiment, the compressible fitting 70 has a conical shape at each end.

The waterproof case 10 also includes a threaded headphone stem 73 and a threaded cap 75 that screws onto the stem 73, The stem 73 includes an inner space for receiving and holding the compressible fitting 70 therein and a bottom opening 76 to the interior compartment 30, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 7. The cap 75 includes a top opening 78 through which the adapter 60 can be inserted. The cap 75 is preferably made of polycarbonate. The stem 73 and the cap 75 have angled surfaces 80 and 83, respectively, configured to engage and compress the compressible fitting 70 therebetween. In addition, the angled surface 80 of the stem 73 helps guide the conically-shaped end of the compressible filter 70 so that the adapter plug 63 lines up with the iPod jack 65 in the case 10.

To form a watertight seal for the headphone, the compressible fitting 70 of the adapter 60 is placed in the stem 73 and the adapter plug 63 is plugged into the iPod jack 65 through the opening 76. The cap 75 is then screwed onto the stem 73 over the fitting 70. This causes the cap 75 to compress the fitting 70 between the stem 73 and the cap 75 and form a watertight seal, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 7. The cap may snap onto the stem instead of screw onto the stem, in which case the cap and the stem do not have to be threaded Further, the compressible fitting 70 may be fitted around the cord or other part of the headphone instead of an adapter, in which case the adapter 60 is not used. For example, the compressible fitting 70 may fit around a portion of an earbud headphone that comes with the iPod media player 27. In this particular embodiment, the stem 73 is position on the top center of the case to line up with the headphone jack of a Gen 4 iPod media player. The stem may also be positioned at other locations on the case to line up with the headphone jacks of other iPod media player models or portable medial players. For example, for a Gen 5 iPod media player, the stem may be positioned on the top right of the case to line up with the headphone jack of the Gen 5 iPod media player. FIG. 14 shows an embodiment in which the stem 173 is positioned on the bottom right of the case 120 to line up with the headphone jack of an iPod nano media player 127. In addition, the case 120 is dimensioned to match the dimensions of that player.

The polyurethane overmold 18 is preferably also molded over selected portions of the interior compartment 30 of the case 10. As shown in FIG. 7, the polyurethane overmold is molded to form strips 85 on the front and back inner walls of the interior compartment 30. The polyurethane overmold 18 may also be molded to form other patterns. The polyurethane overmold 18 is also molded along portions of the top, bottom, and side inner walls of the interior compartment 30. The polyurethane overmold 18 in the interior compartment 30 is preferably molded to hold the iPod 27 snuggly in the compartment 30, and to provide additional protection to the iPod 27 from shock.

Referring to FIGS. 8-10, the back of the case 10 includes rails 90 formed on the upper portion 23 of the shell 15 for receiving an attachable belt clip 92. The belt clip 92 is preferably made of stainless steel and includes a bendable tongue 97 for clipping onto an article of clothing. To attach the belt clip 92 to the case 10, the sides 93 of the clip are slid into the rails 90 with the upper and lower portions 23 and 25 of the shell 15 detached. The belt clip 92 includes a spherical portion 94 that snaps into a concave indentation 95 on the case to secure the clip 92 to the case 10. A narrow slot 91 around the spherical portion 94 allows the spherical portion 94 to be pushed in. The lower portion 25 of the shell includes stops 96 formed thereon that line up with the rails 90 to prevent the belt clip 92 from sliding out of the rails 90 when the upper and lower portions 23 and 25 are attached. The belt clip 92 may be used to clip the case 10 onto a belt, an armband, shorts, or the like. The tongue 97 of the clip 92 may include a hole 98 that fits around a projection 99 on the case 10 to prevent the clip 92 from slipping off an article of clothing, e.g., belt. In this embodiment, both the hole 98 and the projection 99 have an oval shape, although other shapes may also be used. The polyurethane overmold 18 on the shell 15 may be molded to form the projection 99.

FIG. 11 and 12 show another attachable clip 101 that may be used to clip the case 10, e.g, to a neck strap. The clip 101 is similar to the belt clip shown in FIGS. 9 and 10 except that the clip 101 does not have a tongue and includes an upper plate 110 with a hole 112. FIG. 13 shows an exemplary neck strap 113 that can be attached to the case 10 using the clip 101. The neck strap 113 includes a nylon string 115 that can be threaded through the hole 112 of the clip 101 and a thin neck band 116 attached to both ends of the string 115. The neck band 116 preferably goes around the wearer's neck and comprises water-resistant neoprene. The neck strap 113 includes an adjustable fastener 117 for adjusting the length of the string 115.

While an embodiment of the present invention has been shown and described, various modifications may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention, and all such modifications and equivalents are intended to be covered. For example, the waterproof case may be configured for other portable media players, with the dimensions, window and flexible pad of the case configured to match the size, screen, and controls of other portable media players, respectively.

Referenced by
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WO2012104562A1Feb 2, 2012Aug 9, 2012Counas Pascal DanielCase, base, and box for protecting jewels, watches, and valuable objects
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Classifications
U.S. Classification206/320
International ClassificationB65D85/00
Cooperative ClassificationA45C11/22, A45F2200/0508, A45C2011/001, A45F5/02, A45F5/00, A45F2005/006, A45F5/021
European ClassificationA45F5/02B, A45F5/00, A45C11/22, A45F5/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 26, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: SKB CORPORATION, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:WILKES, ROBERT;REEL/FRAME:018441/0065
Effective date: 20060804
Jun 26, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: SKB CORPORATION, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SANDERSON, DAVID;REEL/FRAME:017845/0167
Effective date: 20060621