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Publication numberUS20090111354 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/977,790
Publication dateApr 30, 2009
Filing dateOct 26, 2007
Priority dateOct 26, 2007
Also published asWO2009055036A1
Publication number11977790, 977790, US 2009/0111354 A1, US 2009/111354 A1, US 20090111354 A1, US 20090111354A1, US 2009111354 A1, US 2009111354A1, US-A1-20090111354, US-A1-2009111354, US2009/0111354A1, US2009/111354A1, US20090111354 A1, US20090111354A1, US2009111354 A1, US2009111354A1
InventorsYu Zheng
Original AssigneeYu Zheng
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Beanie objects
US 20090111354 A1
Abstract
An object has a covering that defines an internal pocket, a bendable support frame positioned inside the pocket and defining the shape of the object, and filling material provided inside the pocket and surrounding the support frame, the filling material comprised of a plurality of small particles.
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Claims(20)
1. An object having a shape, comprising:
a covering that defines an internal pocket;
a bendable support frame positioned inside the pocket and defining the shape of the object; and
filling material provided inside the pocket and surrounding the support frame, the filling material comprised of a plurality of small particles.
2. The object of claim 1, further including an electronic component coupled to the covering.
3. The object of claim 1, wherein the filling material is a plurality of beans.
4. The object of claim 1, wherein the filling material is a plurality of blocks.
5. The object of claim 1, wherein the object is a toy.
6. The object of claim 5, further including a toy shirt worn over the covering.
7. The object of claim 1, wherein the support frame is a single piece of wire.
8. The object of claim 1, wherein the support frame comprises a plurality of plates that are connected by hinged joints.
9. A chair having a shape, comprising:
a covering that defines an internal pocket;
a bendable support frame positioned inside the pocket and defining the shape of the chair; and
filling material provided inside the pocket and surrounding the support frame, the filling material comprised of a plurality of small particles.
10. The chair of claim 9, further including an electronic component coupled to the covering.
11. The chair of claim 9, wherein the filling material is a plurality of beans.
12. The chair of claim 9, wherein the filling material is a plurality of blocks.
13. The chair of claim 9, wherein the support frame is a single piece of wire.
14. The chair of claim 9, wherein the support frame comprises a plurality of plates that are connected by hinged joints.
15. A game pad having a shape, comprising:
a covering that defines an internal pocket;
a bendable support frame positioned inside the pocket and defining the shape of the chair; and
filling material provided inside the pocket and surrounding the support frame, the filling material comprised of a plurality of small particles.
16. The game pad of claim 15, further including an electronic component coupled to the covering.
17. The game pad of claim 15, wherein the filling material is a plurality of beans.
18. The game pad of claim 15, wherein the filling material is a plurality of blocks.
19. The game pad of claim 15, wherein the support frame is a single piece of wire.
20. The game pad of claim 15, wherein the support frame comprises a plurality of plates that are connected by hinged joints.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to soft objects that can be conformed to any desired shape.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Beanie toys are usually filled with bean-like particles so that they have a soft feel when gripped, and can be easily conformed to any desired stance or configuration. As a result, beanie toys have become very popular among children, who enjoy having this ability to constantly change the configuration of a toy object to any desired configuration.

Unfortunately, beanie toys cannot maintain the configuration on their own because the bean-like particles are subject to external forces, such as gravity, that cause the beanie toy to often assume unnatural or different configurations.

Thus, there still remains a need for a soft object that can be easily conformed to many different configurations and stances, yet provide the ability to be maintained in a desired configuration.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

It is an object of the present invention to provide a soft object that can be easily conformed to many different configurations and stances.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a soft object that can be maintained in a desired configuration.

In order to accomplish the objects of the present invention, the present invention provides an object having a covering that defines an internal pocket, a bendable support frame positioned inside the pocket and defining the shape of the object, and filling material provided inside the pocket and surrounding the support frame, the filling material comprised of a plurality of small particles.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a soft object according to one embodiment of the present invention showing a cut-away view of a portion thereof.

FIGS. 2A-2F illustrate different particles that can be used for the filling material.

FIG. 2G illustrates a pouch that can be used to hold filling material.

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of a soft toy according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates the internal components of the soft toy of FIG. 3 according to one embodiment thereof.

FIG. 5 illustrates the internal components of the soft toy of FIG. 3 according to another embodiment thereof.

FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate the internal components of two different soft toys according to different embodiments thereof.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a soft sofa according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 illustrates the internal components of the sofa of FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a soft ottoman according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 11 illustrates the internal components of the ottoman of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a soft vehicle according to another embodiment of the present invention, showing some of the internal components thereof.

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a soft game pad according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 14 illustrates the internal components of the game pad of FIG. 13.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The following detailed description is of the best presently contemplated modes of carrying out the invention. This description is not to be taken in a limiting sense, but is made merely for the purpose of illustrating general principles of embodiments of the invention. The scope of the invention is best defined by the appended claims.

The present invention provides soft objects that are filled with bean-like particles so that the objects can be easily conformed to many different configurations and stances. The soft objects of the present invention are also provided with bendable skeletal frames that provide the necessary support to maintain the object in the desired configuration. The principles of the present invention can be applied to a wide variety of objects, including toys, furniture, pillows and game pads, among others.

FIG. 1 illustrates a simple object 20 according to one embodiment of the present invention. The object 20 can take the form of an elongated pillow or toy that can be curled or wrapped around as shown in FIG. 1. The object 20 can be made by providing a covering 22, wrapping its opposing edges 24 and 28 together, and then stitching or otherwise connecting the opposing edges 24 and 28 together to form an internal pocket 26.

The material for the covering 22 can be any material that is soft and flexible, and can include fabric, nylon, film, leather, and the like.

The pocket 26 is filled by a filling material 30 that is generally comprised of a plurality of small particles. These small particles should have sufficient weight to allow the resulting object 20 to have sufficient stability when in use, yet should be configured in size and shape such that they allow different portions of the object 20 to be bent or otherwise conformed to assume different stances and positions. Examples of particles that can be used for the filling material 30 include generally round beans 36 (which can be dried beans, or made of plastic or metal), as shown in FIG. 2A, or generally oval beans 38 (which can be dried beans, or made of plastic or metal), as shown in FIG. 2B. Other examples of particles that can be used for the filling material 30 include chips or blocks, such as square blocks 40 (which can be made of plastic or metal), as shown in FIG. 2C, or rectangular blocks 42 (which can be made of plastic or metal), as shown in FIG. 2D, or triangular blocks 44 (which can be made of plastic or metal), as shown in FIG. 2E. The particles used for the filling material 30 can even have an irregular shape 46 and be made of plastic or metal, as shown in FIG. 2F. Other examples include beads and granular materials, such as grain, rice, sand, or the like.

The filling material 30 can fill all or part of the entire volume (i.e., the pocket 26) of the covering 22, and this will depend on the degree of flexibility desired. For example, if the filling material 30 fills virtually all of the interior space of the covering 22, the resulting object 20 will be more difficult to bend. On the other hand, by leaving more unfilled space in the pocket 26, the various parts of the object 20 will be easier to bend. In addition, the filling material 30 can be provided inside one or more pouches 45 (see FIG. 2G), with one or more of these pouches 45 being used to fill the interior space of the covering 22. These pouches 45 can be made of fabric, nylon, or any of the materials described above for the covering 22.

The object 20 also includes a support frame 50 that extends through selected portions of the elongated configuration of the object 20. The support frame 50 provides the object 20 with sufficient rigidity at selected portions of the object 20 so that these selected portions of the object 20 can be maintained at desired positions. In one embodiment, the support frame 50 can extend throughout the entire elongated object 20 so that the object 20 can be bent at any location along its length, and have the bend maintained by the support frame 50. The support frame 50 is preferably made of a material that is easily bendable (i.e., can be plastically deformed) from a first shape into a second shape, yet is sufficiently rigid so that it maintains its second shape after it has been bent. Non-limiting examples of such a material can include metal and plastics, among others. In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the support frame 50 is illustrated as being embodied in a wire-like form, but as illustrated hereinbelow, the support frame 50 can be embodied in other forms. The wire-like support frame 50 extends through the pocket 26 and is completely surrounded by the filling material 30. The ends (e.g., see end 52) of the support frame 50 can be rounded, tapered, curled or bent to form a non-sharp end, to prevent the otherwise sharp end from piercing the covering 22.

In use, the user can easily conform or bend any portion of the object 20 to any desired configuration because of the following reasons. First, the covering 22 is made from a flexible material. Second, the filling material 30 is comprised of particles that are small enough so that the selected portions of the object 22 that are being bent by the user can conform easily and smoothly to such bending. Third, the material of the support frame 50 is flexible enough to allow the user to easily bend selected portions of the object 22. After selected portions of the object 22 have been bent, the rigidity of the support frame 50 maintain these selected portions in their bent configurations. For example, in FIG. 1, the object 20 is conformed to curl around itself to form a base portion 54, and is conformed to form two specific bends 56 and 58 so that an end 60 can be suspended at a higher elevation than the base portion 54. The support frame 50 maintains the various curls and bends 56, 58 so that the object 20 can be maintained in the configuration shown in FIG. 1. Thus, the present invention provides an object 20 that can be easily conformed into any desired configuration, yet maintain the conformed configuration while not being subjected to or affected by incidental external forces such as gravity.

FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrate the application of the principles of the present invention to a soft toy 70. The soft toy 70 can be a doll which has a covering 72 that can be provided with appropriate body parts, such as a pair of arms 74, 76, a pair of legs 78, 80, a torso 82, and a head 84. Other body parts, such as eyes, ears, a nose, hair and a mouth, among others, can also be provided on the head 84. The doll 70 can even be dressed with a pair of shorts 75 and a shirt 77. Filling material 86 (which can be any of the filling material 30 described above) is used to fill the covering 72, and a support frame 88 extends through the torso 82, the arms 74, 76 and the legs 78, 80 of the doll 70. The support frame 88 can be made up of one or more metal wires that can be bent, and then retain its bent configuration. The extremities (e.g., 90) of the support frame 88 can be curled or bent to form a rounded and non-sharp end. The arms 74, 76 and the legs 78, 80 of the doll 70 can be bent and conformed to any desired stance. For example, the arm 74 can be bent upwardly as shown in FIG. 4 for the doll 70 to raise its arm 74. The support frame 88 is flexible enough to be bent, yet can retain the bent stance to keep the arm 74 raised until it is desired to move the arm 74 in another direction.

FIG. 5 illustrates a doll 70 a having the same construction as the doll 70, except that the support frame 88 a is different from the support frame 88. Otherwise, the doll 70 a can have the same features as the doll 70. The support frame 88 a is made up of a plurality of flexible plates that are interconnected by hinging joints 96. The plates can be made of the same material described above for the support frame 50, or can even be made from a completely rigid material. The plates can vary in shape and size depending on where they are positioned. The thickness of the plates can also vary depending on where the plates are used. For example, the plate 94 a that defines the torso 82 a of the doll 70 a can be larger and thicker, while the plates 94 b and 94 c that define the arms 74 a, 76 a and the legs 78 a, 80 a, respectively, can be more elongated and thinner in configuration. Each plate 94 a, 94 b, 94 c can have a hole 98 at each end or extremity, with each hole 98 adapted to receive a loop 96 that functions as a hinging joint. Thus, each loop 96 connects two adjacent plates by looping or coupling the adjacent holes 98 of two adjacent plates.

In operation, the arms 74 a, 76 a, legs 78 a, 80 a, and neck 100 of the doll 70 a can be bent or conformed about the hinging joints 96. For example, the arm 74 a can be raised as shown in FIG. 5 by bending about one of the hinging joints 96 along the arm 74 a. The hinging joints 96 allow for such body parts to be bent, and the stiffness or rigidity of the plates 94 functions to retain the bent stance to keep the arm 74 a raised until it is desired to move the arm 74 a in another direction.

FIG. 6 illustrates another soft toy 110 that embodies the principles of the present invention. The soft toy 110 can be a giraffe, dinosaur or other animal which has a covering 112 that can be provided with appropriate body parts, including arms 114, legs 116, a tail 118, a neck 120, and a head 122. Filling material 124 (which can be any of the filling material 30 described above) is used to fill the covering 112, and a support frame 126 extends through the arms 114, the legs 116, the tail 118, the neck 120, and the head 122. The support frame 126 can be made up of one or more metal wires that can be bent, and then retain its bent configuration. The arms 114, the legs 116, the tail 118, the neck 120, and even the head 122 of the toy 110 can be bent and conformed to any desired stance. The support frame 126 is flexible enough to be bent, yet can retain the body part in the bent stance until it is desired to move it in another direction.

FIG. 7 illustrates another soft toy 130 that embodies the principles of the present invention. The soft toy 130 can be a dog or other animal which has a covering 132 that can be provided with appropriate body parts, including four legs 134, a tail 136, a torso 137, and a head 138. Filling material 140 (which can be any of the filling material 30 described above) is used to fill the covering 132, and a support frame 142 extends through the legs 134, the tail 136, the torso 137, and the head 138. The support frame 142 can be made up of one or more metal wires that can be bent, and then retain its bent configuration. The legs 134, the tail 136, the torso 137 and the head 138 (via a neck portion 144) of the toy 130 can be bent and conformed to any desired stance. The support frame 142 is flexible enough to be bent, yet can retain the body part in the bent stance until it is desired to move it in another direction.

FIGS. 8-11 illustrate the application of the principles of the present invention to a soft furniture. For example, FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate a soft chair or sofa 150, and FIGS. 10 and 11 illustrate a soft ottoman 180 that can be used with the sofa 150. Referring first to FIGS. 8 and 9, the sofa 150 has a covering 152 that includes a rear wall 154, a left side wall 156 and a right side wall 158 that define a U-shaped configuration. The covering 152 also includes a seat 160 that is provided in the interior of the U-shaped configuration, and a front wall 162 extends from the front of the seat 160 to the ground. The inner surface 164 (which is part of the covering 152) of the rear wall 154 functions as a back rest.

Filling material 166 (which can be any of the filling material 30 described above) is used to fill the covering 152, and a support frame 168 is provided inside the covering 152 to define the shape of the sofa 150, and provide structure and support to the sofa 150 when a person sits on the sofa 150. As shown in FIG. 9, the support frame 168 can be a continuous metal wire that extends horizontally along the top of the rear wall 154, the left side wall 156 and the right side wall 158, then extends vertically down the front of the left side wall 156 and the right side wall 158, and then extends horizontally along the bottom of the left side wall 156 and the right side wall 158. The wire of the support frame 168 then extends vertically for about half the way up along the sides of the rear wall 154, and then extends horizontally along the center of the left side wall 156 and the right side wall 158 towards the front, and then horizontally along the top of the front wall 162. Thus, the support frame 168 is positioned inside the covering 152 in a manner that defines the various walls 154, 156, 158, 162, and the seat 160. The continuous wire that makes up the support frame 168 can be bent, and then retain its bent configuration. Although a user may not wish to do this, it is possible to bend any of the walls 154, 156, 158, 162 to a limited degree. In any case, the support frame 168 in this embodiment is shown as providing another useful and different benefit: to provide rigidity to a typically heavy and solid object (i.e. the sofa 150) that can now be provided in a soft, lightweight and conformable manner. In other words, even if the support frame 168 is not intended to be bent in this embodiment, it provides rigidity and a shape outline for the sofa 150 while allowing the sofa 150 to be lightweight.

Referring now to FIGS. 10 and 11, the ottoman 180 has a covering 182 that includes a top wall 184, a cylindrical side wall 186 and a bottom wall 188. Filling material 190 (which can be any of the filling material 30 described above) is used to fill the covering 182, and a support frame 192 is provided inside the covering 182 to define the shape of the ottoman 180, and provide structure and support to the ottoman 180. As shown in FIG. 11, the support frame 192 can be made up of four metal wires, a first generally circular wire 194 that extends about the periphery of the top wall 184, a second generally circular wire 196 that extends about the periphery of the bottom wall 188, and two generally vertical spaced apart wires that extend vertically along the cylindrical side wall 186 and which have opposing ends connected to the first and second wires 194 and 196. Thus, the support frame 192 is positioned inside the covering 182 in a manner that defines the various walls 184, 186 and 188, and thereby defines the shape of the ottoman 180.

FIG. 12 illustrates the application of the principles of the present invention to a soft toy vehicle 200. The vehicle 200 has a covering 202 that includes the body 204 of the vehicle 200, the front hood 208, the rear trunk 210, the wheels 214, the bumpers 216, and the windows 218, among other parts. Each of these parts can be illustrated or represented providing appropriate indicia or designs on to the same covering 202. In addition, some of these parts (e.g., the wheels 214) can be provided separately from the covering 202 and then attached (e.g., by stitching) to the covering 202.

Filling material 220 (which can be any of the filling material 30 described above) is used to fill the covering 202, and a support frame 222 is provided inside the covering 202 to define the shape of the vehicle 200, and to provide structure and support to the vehicle 200. As shown in FIG. 12, the support frame 222 can be a plurality of metal wires that extend around the periphery of the vehicle 200 to define the outward shape of the vehicle 200. Different support frames 224 can even define some of the components, such as the windows 218. As shown by the arrows 230, the windows 218 can be bent or flexed, with the support frame(s) 224 functioning to provide form and rigidity to the windows 218 while allowing them to be bent. Other than the windows 218, other components such as doors, the hood 208 and a sun-roof (not shown) can all be flexed or bent in a similar manner to provide a toy vehicle whose shape can be changed by the user.

FIGS. 13 and 14 illustrate the application of the principles of the present invention to a soft game pad 250 which can also be used as a pillow. The game pad 250 has a covering 252 that has a cross-shaped configuration defining four extensions or bays 254, 256, 258, 260 that extend from the center of the game pad 250. Indicia 262 and control buttons (e.g., 264) that are well-known in the art can be provided (e.g., sewn) on the outer surface of the covering 252, or extending through the covering 252 from the housing 286 of a speaker unit 284.

Filling material 266 (which can be any of the filling material 30 described above) is used to fill the covering 252, and a support frame 268 is provided inside the covering 252 to define the shape of the game pad 250, and to provide structure and support to the game pad 250. As shown in FIG. 15, the support frame 222 can, in one non-limiting example, be a single metal wire that extends in a U-shaped manner through the bays 254, 256, 258. For example, a first end 270 of the support frame 268 can begin at the bay 260, and then extend along a side 272 of the bay 260 towards the center of the game pad 250, and then along the adjacent side 274 of an adjacent bay 254 to the end of the bay 254, where it then reverses direction and extends along another side 276 of the bay 254 towards the center of the game pad 250, and then along the adjacent side 278 of another adjacent bay 256, and so on until terminating at a second end 280 at the originating bay 260 adjacent the first end 270. Thus, the support frame 268 illustrated in FIG. 15 essentially forms a double-wired support at each bay 254, 256, 258, 260.

The game pad 250 also includes electronic features. For example, a speaker unit 284 can be positioned among the filling material 266 and stitched to the covering 252 at about the center of the game pad 250. The speaker unit 284 can have a housing 286 that houses an actual speaker, and other associated electronics (e.g., integrated circuits, microprocessors, chips, batteries, etc.) that are well-known in the art. A strip of connective wiring 288 or the like (e.g., conductive ink) can be electronically coupled to the electronics in the speaker housing 286 and extend through the filling material 266 to be connected to one or more control buttons 264 in the bay 260. Other electronic features can be provided in addition to, or in lieu of, the speaker unit 284, including keypads, a mini-screen 290 (like a mini computer monitor), lights 292, touch pads 294, on-off switches 296, compact-disc players, etc. Each of these electronic articles can be connected to switches and control buttons via wiring similar to the wiring 288. In addition, each of these electronic articles can have housings (e.g., mini-screen 290, speaker unit 294) that are connected or attached to the covering 252 by screws or glue, or can be directly stitched (e.g., lights 292, touch pads 294, control buttons 264) to the covering 252. A battery compartment 320 can also be provided inside the covering 252 to store batteries that can be used to power the electronic components described above, or power can be provided via a socket 299.

In addition, a communication port 297 (e.g., a USB port) can be provided on the covering 252 and coupled by the wiring 288 to a microprocessor for facilitating communication between the game pad 250 and another game pad 250 or via the internet. Communication can also be facilitated via an antenna 295 that can extend from the covering 252, and which is coupled to the microprocessor.

Thus, the game pad 250 can be used by a child to play music or to play interactive games. The game pad 250 provides a soft and conformable toy which is both pleasing and comfortable for a child to hold, or to rest his or her hands on. The support frame 268 provides the necessary rigidity to maintain the configuration of the game pad 250. In addition, if desired, a user may bend any of the bays 254, 256, 258, 260 to give the game pad 250 a new configuration. For example, if all four bays 254, 256, 258, 260 were bent down, each bay 254, 256, 258, 260 would form a leg, and the game pad 250 would resemble a table. The support frame 268 is flexible enough to be bent, yet can retain the bent stance to keep the bays 254, 256, 258, 260 in a bent position until it is desired to move the bays 254, 256, 258, 260 in another direction.

In addition, the support frame 268 can be configured and structured differently, depending on the desired functions and operation of the game pad 250.

In addition to the filling material 30 described above, soft filling material can be intermixed or provided inside any of the coverings of the present invention. For example, referring to FIG. 14, soft fillers 298 can be provided inside the covering 252 and intermixed with the filling material 266. Examples of such soft fillers 298 can include spongy materials, pillow stuffing material (e.g., synthetic downy fibrous material), cotton, wadding, or the like.

Any of the principles from one embodiment can be applied to the other embodiments. For example, the support frame shown and described in connection with FIG. 5 can be used in any of the other embodiments. Similarly, the electronic components shown and described in connection with FIGS. 13 and 14 can be used in any of the other embodiments.

While the description above refers to particular embodiments of the present invention, it will be understood that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit thereof. The accompanying claims are intended to cover such modifications as would fall within the true scope and spirit of the present invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8181599 *Mar 9, 2011May 22, 2012Jeffers Edwina DeeLap pet bed
Classifications
U.S. Classification446/369, 297/217.3
International ClassificationA63H3/02
Cooperative ClassificationA63H3/04, A47C27/086, B68G1/00, A47C3/16
European ClassificationA47C27/08E, B68G1/00, A47C3/16, A63H3/04
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Oct 26, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: PATENT CATEGORY CORPORATION, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:ZHENG, YU;REEL/FRAME:020067/0894
Effective date: 20071022