BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates in general to electronic displays which are mounted in vehicles. It is becoming more common in vehicles to include electronic displays for the showing of movies and other forms of video entertainment. It is known to mount these displays on the roof or headliner of the passenger compartment in which the display is pivotally mounted such that it may swing downwardly from a storage position into a viewing position. Although these displays have functioned well in the past, the size of displays is limited to a generally small dimension such that the driver's rear view is not overly blocked. It is also known to mount electronic displays in vehicle seats. U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2005/0174498 discloses a display mounted in a rear portion of headrest. This configuration is also limited since the display cannot be larger than the headrest in which it is mounted. Additionally, it is sometimes difficult to accommodate a display screen in a headrest which has an active headrest system, in which the headrest is automatically moved in a forward direction upon detection of an impending impact to help reduce neck, back, and head injuries to the seat occupant.
This invention relates to electronic displays in vehicles and in particular to a vehicle seat assembly including a seat back defining a rear side and a display assembly mounted on the seat back. The display assembly includes a display and a housing mounted on the rear side of the seat back. The housing defines a pocket. The seat assembly further includes a lifting mechanism connected between the housing and the display, wherein the lifting mechanism moves the display between a storage position within the pocket, and an extended position such that display is disposed out from the pocket
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Various objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiment, when read in light of the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a seat assembly including a display mounted thereon which is shown in its storage position.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the seat assembly of FIG. 1 with the display shown in its extended position.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a motorized lifting mechanism to move the display of FIGS. 1 and 2 between its storage and extended positions.
FIG. 4 is schematic perspective view of an alternate embodiment of a display assembly mounted on a vehicle seat back.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
FIG. 5 is a schematic view of an alternate embodiment of a lifting mechanism.
Referring now to the drawings, there is illustrated in FIG. 1 a vehicle seat assembly, indicated generally at 10. The seat assembly 10 includes a seat back 12 pivotally mounted on a seat bottom 14. The seat assembly 10 further includes a display assembly 16 which includes an electronic display 20 for the viewing of video images thereon. In one embodiment, the display assembly 16 is incorporated or mounted on a seat back trim panel 18 (shown stippled in FIGS. 1 and 2) which is attached to the rear of the seat back 12.
The trim panel 18 defines a housing in which the display assembly 16 is mounted. The trim panel 18 includes a pocket 24 having an opening 26 through which the display 20 extends or retracts. The display 20 is mounted within a mounting housing 17 which slides within the pocket 24. The display 20 (and housing 17) is movable between a storage position within the pocket 24, as shown in FIG. 1, and an extended position in which the display 20 is exterior of the pocket 24 for viewing, as shown in FIG. 2. The display 20 generally slides out of the pocket 24 in a generally vertical direction when the seat back 12 is in an upright position. When in the storage position, the display 20 is protected from inadvertent damage by being behind an outer panel 21 of the pocket 24. The outer panel 21 may be optionally reinforced to increase its rigidity to further protect the display 20. The pocket 24 may be integral with the trim panel 18 or may be separate therefrom.
The trim panel 18 can be made of any suitable material, such as a relatively rigid plastic material. The trim panel 18 can cover the entire rear surface of the seat back 12 (as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2) or just a portion of the seat back 12. Additionally, the trim panel 18 can cover side portions of the seat back 12 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The trim panel 18 and display 20 may be packaged as an aftermarket or dealer installed option such that they can be mounted on a seat back 12 after the vehicle has been assembled. Thus, two different types of seat assemblies 10 are not required to be built depending on whether the seat assembly 10 is to include a display assembly 16 or not. The trim panel 18 may include various features (not shown), such as lights, pockets, compartments, pull out tables, cargo retaining expandable netting, beverage holders, electronic devices, and electronic docking jacks for connecting audio, video, and computer equipment.
The display assembly 16 is preferably mounted at upper portions of the seat back 12 such that when moved to the extended position the display 20 is relatively high in the vehicle passenger compartment. For example, in the extended position, the display 20 could be adjacent and behind a headrest portion 13 of the seat assembly 10 and a portion of the display 20 may be above an upper edge 15 of the seat back 12. It is generally desirable for occupants to view a display which is at about eye level or higher to help avoid discomfort while the vehicle is moving. An advantage of the display 20 over conventional displays mounted in an overhead console attached to the roof of the passenger compartment is that the driver's rear vision is less blocked. An advantage of the display 20 over conventional displays mounted in seat headrests is that a larger display size can be accommodated. Additionally, it is sometimes difficult to accommodate a display screen in a headrest which has an active headrest system, in which the headrest is automatically moved in a forward direction upon detection of an impending impact to help reduce neck, back, and head injuries to the seat occupant.
The display 20 may be an electronic display capable of electronically displaying visual images such as for passengers of the vehicle seated behind the seat assembly 10. The display 20 may be any suitable mechanism for displaying images such as but not limited to a cathode ray tube screen, plasma screen, and liquid crystal screen. The display 20 may be connected to any suitable component, indicated schematically at 36, which transmits a video signal, such as for example, a DVD player, video cassette recorder, a digital video player, an audio video satellite system, a computer, and/or computer gaming system. Thus, the display 20 may be used not only for video entertainment purposes but may also be used with a computer system. Additionally, the display 20 may be integrated into vehicle systems, such as for example a navigation system, HVAC controls, and the vehicle radio system. The component which sends a wired or wireless video signal to the display 20 may be mounted in the trim panel 18, such as for example in a lower portion 28 thereof. The display 20 may include other features such as touch screen systems, compression actuated buttons, a key pad, and speakers. The display housing 17 may include an upper portion 31 that is always exposed from outside of the pocket 24. Manually operated controls 34 for controlling the display 20 and any electrical component connected to the display 20 may be mounted on the upper portion 31 so that they are accessible regardless of the position of the display 20. The upper portion 31 may further house infrared remote control, headphone jacks, and/or other electrical jacks.
The display 20 may be manually moved between its storage and extended positions or may be connected to a motorized, hydraulic, pneumatic or other type of actuator for automatically moving the display 20 to at least one of the positions. The display 20 may also be spring biased towards any of the positions, and/or may include a damper mechanism which retards its movement. A latch may be included to secure the display 20 in its storage position, extended position, or any intermediate positions therebetween.
There is illustrated in FIG. 3 a lifting mechanism, indicated generally at 40 for moving the display between its storage and extended positions. The mechanism 40 includes a frame 42 having a pair of track members 44 formed therein. The frame 42 is attached to the trim panel 18. Sides 43 of the display housing 17 are slidably disposed in the track members 44. The lifting mechanism 40 further includes a threaded shaft 50 and a motor 52 for rotating the threaded shaft 50. The mechanism 40 further includes a pair of arms 56. The arms 56 have first ends 58 that are pivotally attached to the display housing 17. The arms have second ends 60 that are pivotally mounted to drive blocks 62 that are threadably engaged with the threaded shaft 50. The drive blocks 62 are slidably disposed in a track 66 formed in the frame 42 such that the drive blocks 62 preferably do not rotated relative the track 66.
To operate the lifting mechanism 40, the motor 52 is actuated to rotate the threaded shaft 50. Rotation of the threaded shaft 50 causes the drive blocks 62 to move in a linear direction relative to the length of the threaded shaft 52. For example, to move the display 20 from its extended position, as shown in FIG. 3, to its storage position, the motor 52 is actuated to rotate the threaded shaft 52 in such as rotational direction to cause the drive blocks 62 to slide within the track 66 in a direction away from the motor 52. Movement of the drive blocks 62 causes movement of the second ends 60 of the arms 56 such that the first ends 58 are pulled downwardly, as viewing FIG. 3. Downward movement of the first ends 58 of the arms 56 causes the display housing 17 to slide downwardly along the track members 44, thereby moving the display 20 towards its storage position. To the move the display 20 towards its extended position, the motor 52 is actuated to rotate the threaded shaft 50 in the opposite rotational direction, thereby pushing the first ends 58 of the arms 56 upwardly. Its should be noted that the threaded shaft 50 can be formed into two separate shafts such that the right-hand/left-hand thread arrangement corresponds to the desired direction of the drive blocks 62. It should also be understood that a single arm or multiple arms may be used instead of the pair of arms 56.
There is illustrated in FIG. 4 a schematic illustration of an alternate embodiment of a lifting mechanism 70 which may be used in place of the lifting mechanism 40. The lifting mechanism 70 includes a pair of toothed racks 72 which are mounted and fixed on the display housing 17. The lifting mechanism 70 further includes a drive mechanism 74 mounted on the trim panel 18. The drive mechanism 74 includes a motor 76, a first pulley wheel 78, a second pulley wheel 80, a cable 81, a universal joint assembly 82, a pair of rods 84, and a pair of gears 86. The motor 76 is connected to the first pulley wheel 78 such that activation of the motor 76 will cause rotation of the first pulley wheel 78. The cable 81 rotates around the pulleys 78 and 80 and rotationally connects the first pulley wheel 78 to the second pulley wheel 80. The universal joint assembly 82 connects the second pulley wheel 80 to the pair of rods 84 such that the universal joint assembly 82 imparts the rotational force of the second pulley wheel 80 to the rotation of the rods 84. The outwardly extending ends of the rods 84 are fixedly connected to the gears 86. The gears 86 are threadably engaged with the toothed racks 72.
To operate the lifting mechanism 70, the motor 76 is actuated to rotate the threaded shaft first pulley wheel 78. Rotation of the first pulley wheel 78 causes rotation of the second pulley wheel 80 via the cable 81. Rotation of the second pulley wheel 80 rotates the pair of rods 84 which further rotates the gears 86. Rotation of the gears 86 engages the toothed racks 72 causing the toothed racks 72 to move upwardly or downwardly. Since the display housing 17 is attached to the toothed racks 72 and the drive mechanism 74 is attached to the trim panel 18, the display housing 17 and display 20 are moved to move relative to the trim panel 18. The directional rotation of the motor 76 will correlate to the upward or downward movement of the display 20.
There is illustrated in FIG. 5 an alternate embodiment of seat assembly, indicated generally at 100. The seat assembly 100 is similar to the seat assembly 10 and includes a seat back 112. One of the differences is that the seat assembly 100 includes a trim panel 118 which does not cover the entire rear side 113 of the seat back 112 but rather is installed at an upper portion 115 of the seat back 112. Similar to the trim panel 18, the trim panel 118 includes a pocket 124 having an opening 126 through which a display 120 extends or retracts. The display 120 is mounted within a mounting housing 117 which slides within the pocket 124. The display 120 is movable between a storage position within the pocket 124, and an extended position (as shown in FIG. 5) in which the display 120 is exterior of the pocket 124 for viewing, as shown in FIG. 2. Additionally, the display 120 is pivotally mounted relative to the display housing 117 to adjust the viewing angle for a particular occupant of the vehicle watching the display 120. In other words, the plane of the display 120 is movable relative to the plane defined by the front portion of the display housing 117. The display 120 may be pivotally mounted along a laterally extending horizontal axis X. The axis X may be located anywhere along the height of the display 120. In the illustrated embodiment, the axis X is located near the upper portion of the display such that the display 120 may be easily tilted upwardly. The display housing 117 includes a recess 140 in which the display 120 is disposed which is larger than the display 120 to accommodate the movement therein. Alternatively, the axis X may be located near the lower portion of the display such that the display 120 may be easily tilted downwardly. It may be desirable to adjust the viewing angle of the display 120 due to the height of the viewer and/or the recline angle of the seat back 112. It should also be understood that the display 120 may be alternatively or additionally pivotally mounted on the display housing 117 about a generally vertical axis (not shown) so that the side-to-side viewing angle may be adjusted. The viewing angles may be adjusted manually or by the use of a motorized mechanism (not shown).
Although the displays 20 and 120 were described above as including motorized lifting mechanisms 40 and 70, it should also be understood that any suitable manually operated or motorized lifting mechanism may be used to move the displays from their storage to their extended positions. For example, a spring loaded mechanism may be used which when activated when the display is in its storage position biases the display upward into its extended position.
In accordance with the provisions of the patent statutes, the principle and mode of operation of this invention have been explained and illustrated in its preferred embodiments. However, it must be understood that this invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically explained and illustrated without departing from its spirit or scope.