US20110056412A1 - Devices For Providing A Workstation And Methods Of Making And Using The Same - Google Patents

Devices For Providing A Workstation And Methods Of Making And Using The Same Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110056412A1
US20110056412A1 US12684396 US68439610A US2011056412A1 US 20110056412 A1 US20110056412 A1 US 20110056412A1 US 12684396 US12684396 US 12684396 US 68439610 A US68439610 A US 68439610A US 2011056412 A1 US2011056412 A1 US 2011056412A1
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Prior art keywords
base portion
work surface
device
assembly
extension
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Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
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US12684396
Inventor
Thomas G. Grammer
Beverly C. Phifer
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Phifer Inc
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Phifer Inc
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47BTABLES; DESKS; OFFICE FURNITURE; CABINETS; DRAWERS; GENERAL DETAILS OF FURNITURE
    • A47B23/00Bed-tables; Trays; Reading-racks; Book-rests, i.e. items used in combination with something else
    • A47B23/04Bed-tables; Trays; Reading-racks; Book-rests, i.e. items used in combination with something else supported from table, floor or wall
    • A47B23/042Book-rests or note-book holders resting on tables
    • A47B23/043Book-rests or note-book holders resting on tables adjustable, foldable
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45CPURSES; LUGGAGE; HAND CARRIED BAGS
    • A45C9/00Purses, Luggage or bags convertible into objects for other use
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45CPURSES; LUGGAGE; HAND CARRIED BAGS
    • A45C13/00Details; Accessories
    • A45C13/02Interior fittings; Means, e.g. inserts, for holding and packing articles
    • A45C2013/025Interior fittings; Means, e.g. inserts, for holding and packing articles for holding portable computers or accessories therefor

Abstract

The invention provides a device, and method of making and using the device, for providing at least one work surface. The device may include (a) a base portion 110 that includes an upper base portion 120 and a lower base portion 130, the upper base portion 120 and the lower base portion 130 forming a base portion cavity 115 disposed there between; and (b) at least one base portion extension 300, each base portion extension 300 attached to the base portion 110, each base portion extension 300 movable between a stored position in which the base portion extension 300 is mostly disposed in the base portion cavity 115, and an extended position, in which the base portion extension 300 is mostly extended out from the base portion 110 so as to form a working surface. The at least one base portion extension 300 may include four base portion extensions 300. The device may further comprise a work surface assembly 200, the work surface assembly 200 pivotally disposed upon the base portion 110 so as to form a work surface such that the angle of the work surface may be varied. Yet further, the device may further comprise a leveling assembly 500, the leveling assembly 500 pivotally disposed under the base portion 110 and attached to the lower base portion 130, the leveling assembly 500 pivotally disposed such that the angle that the base portion 110 is disposed upon a surface may be varied.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application 61/143,322 filed Jan. 8, 2009 (Attorney Docket No. 56730.000024), the content of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • The invention relates to devices to support a laptop computer, document, and/or other item or items.
  • Various devices have been used in the past to support a laptop computer, as well as various other associated items, such that the laptop computer may be conveniently and workably disposed, while still allowing access to the various other items also needed in a user's work.
  • However, known devices for supporting a laptop computer and other items have various deficiencies. Some known devices are difficult to support for extended periods of time, as is often desired. Even more so, some known devices are difficult to both support a laptop while conveniently allowing access to other needed items. Other problems exist with known devices.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The invention provides a device 100, and method of making and using the device, for providing at least one work surface. In one embodiment, the device 100 may constitute a document holder and/or a computer holder. The device may include (a) a base portion 110 that includes an upper base portion 120 and a lower base portion 130, the upper base portion 120 and the lower base portion 130 forming a base portion cavity 115 disposed there between; and (b) at least one base portion extension 300, each base portion extension 300 attached to the base portion 110, each base portion extension 300 movable between a stored position in which the base portion extension 300 is mostly disposed in the base portion cavity 115, and an extended position, in which the base portion extension 300 is mostly extended out from the base portion 110 so as to form a working surface. The at least one base portion extension 300 may include four base portion extensions 300. The device may further comprise a work surface assembly 200, the work surface assembly 200 pivotally disposed upon the base portion 110 so as to form a work surface such that the angle of the work surface may be varied. Yet further, the device may further comprise a leveling assembly 500, the leveling assembly 500 pivotally disposed under the base portion 110 and attached to the lower base portion 130, the leveling assembly 500 pivotally disposed such that the angle that the base portion 110 is disposed upon a surface may be varied.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The present invention can be more fully understood by reading the following detailed description together with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference indicators are used to designate like elements, and in which:
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a device 100, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 2 is a further perspective view of a device 100, with the base portion extensions 300 in a stored position. in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 3 is a further perspective view of the device 100 from a back side, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the device 100 from a back angle, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the work surface assembly 200, with the work surface assembly 200 removed from the upper base portion 120, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 6 is a top view of the work surface assembly 200, with the work surface assembly 200 removed from the upper base portion 120, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 7 is a bottom view of the work surface assembly 200, with the work surface assembly 200 removed from the upper base portion 120, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the device 100 with the base portion extensions 300 in an extended position and the work surface assembly 200 in a raised position, and supporting a laptop computer 600, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the device 100 with an expanded view showing the work supports 231 supporting the laptop computer 600, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the device 100 with the base portion extensions 300 in an extended position and the work surface assembly 200 in a lowered, i.e., stored, position, and supporting a laptop computer 600, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the device 100 with the base portion extensions 300 in a stored position, i.e., a closed position, and the work surface assembly 200 in a lowered, i.e., stored, position, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the device 100 with the base portion extensions 300 in an extended position, and the work surface assembly 200 in a lowered, i.e., stored, position, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the device 100 in a further arrangement, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 14 is a perspective view showing an alternative embodiment to the work surface legs 260, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 15 is a perspective view showing details of the rotation assembly 150, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 16 is a cross sectional view showing various further details of the rotation assembly 150, the base portion extension 300 and other components, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 17 is a cross sectional diagram showing the device 100 and details of the rotation assembly 150, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 18 is a cross sectional diagram showing the work surface assembly 200, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 19 is a partial cross sectional view of a work support assembly 230, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 20 is a cross sectional diagram showing the device 100 and details of the base portion extensions 300, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 21 is a partial cross sectional view showing details of the hinge assemblies, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 22 is partial perspective view of the device 100 showing details of the hinge assembly 250, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 23 is a perspective view of the device 100 showing details of the leveling assembly 500, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 24 is a perspective view showing the work surface assembly 200 disposed above a laptop computer 600, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 25 is a perspective view showing the work surface assembly 200 disposed upon a laptop computer 600, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 26 is a perspective view of the device 100 showing a flip-up portion and other variations, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 27 is a perspective view of the device 100 showing a leveling portion, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • Hereinafter, aspects of the invention in accordance with various embodiments will be described. As used herein, any term in the singular may be interpreted to be in the plural, and alternatively, any term in the plural may be interpreted to be in the singular.
  • The inventive device is used to hold, in particular, a laptop computer and/or documents. However, the described device may be used to hold books, and/or various other items.
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a device 100, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The device 100 includes a base portion 110. A work surface assembly 200 is attached to the base portion 110 by a hinge assembly 250, i.e., such that the work surface assembly 200 is disposed in a pivoting manner upon the base portion 110. A plurality of base portion extensions 300 are attached to the base portion 110, so as to be selectively extendable from the base portion 110.
  • With regard to the work surface assembly 200, in a closed position, the work surface assembly 200 may be disposed upon and laid against a top surface of the base portion 110. In an operational position, the work surface assembly 200, via the hinge assembly 250, may be disposed at different angles vis-à-vis the top of the base portion 110. In such operational position, the work surface assembly 200 is supported via the hinge assembly 250, as well as a prop 140. In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, by varying the arrangement, i.e., the angle, of the prop 140, the angle at which the work surface assembly 200 is disposed may be varied. Further details are described below.
  • The base portion 110 includes various components. The base portion 110, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention, includes an upper base portion 120 and a lower base portion 130. The upper base portion 120 and the lower base portion 130 may be in the form of molded plastic portions, for example, that are attached together so as to form the base portion 110. The upper base portion 120 and lower base portion 130 collectively form a base portion cavity 115 there between, i.e., the upper base portion 120 and the lower base portion 130 go to form an interior volume of the base portion 110. The base portion extensions 300 are disposed between the upper base portion 120 and the lower base portion 130, i.e., in the base portion cavity 115.
  • As described in detail below, the base portion extensions 300 are pivotally attached to the base portion 110 such that the base portion extensions 300 are selectively disposed in what might be characterized as a stored position, i.e., tucked away within the base portion cavity 115, within an interior space of the base portion 110. On the other hand, the base portion extensions 300 may be rotated, so as to be disposed in an operational position, in which the base portion extensions 300 extend out from the base portion 110, as shown in FIG. 1. In such operational position, the base portion extensions 300 serve to support various items which may be thus made accessible to a user, i.e., such that the items might be used in conjunction with a laptop disposed on the work surface assembly 200, for example. As described below, for example, the base portion extensions 300 may be attached to the base portion 110 using a rotation assembly 150, as shown in FIG. 15, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • As shown in FIG. 1, the base portion extensions 300 may include various structures. For example, the base portion extensions 300 may include the base extension portion 310, the base extension portions 320 and the base extension portion 340.
  • Illustratively. the base extension portion 310 includes a pen/pencil receptacle 312 and a pad receptacle 314. The pen/pencil receptacle 312 may be a recessed portion in the base extension portion 310 that can retain a pen, pencil, other writing instrument, stylus, or the like, for example. The pad receptacle 314 may be provided to retain a writing pad. It is appreciated that various other items may be disposed upon the base portion extension 310, and that the base portion extensions 300, may be provided to retain a wide variety of items.
  • In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, the device 100 may include two base extension portions 320 (320, 320′), as shown in FIG. 1. Thus, such two base extension portions 320, 320′ may be provided to selectively retain a mouse 602 and mouse pad 604 depending on whether the user is right or left handed. As shown in FIG. 1, the device 100 is set up for a right handed person. However, alternatively, a left handed person may dispose the mouse pad/mouse on the base extension portion 320′. The deviation in distance from the user, i.e., the distance of the base extension portion 320 vis-à-vis the base extension portion 320′, as shown in FIG. 1, may be compensated, as needed by the position of the device 100 vis-à-vis the user.
  • As shown in the arrangement of FIG. 1, the base extension portion 320′ may be used as a shelf 326. Accordingly, a notebook or some other item may be disposed on the shelf 326.
  • The device 100 may also include the base extension portion 340. The base extension portion 340 may also be particularly designed to hold particular items. In the example of FIG. 1, the base extension portion 340 may include an accoutrement bin 344 (for holding paper clips, for example) and a cup holder 342, for example.
  • As noted above, the device 100 includes a work surface assembly 200, which is pivotally attached to the base portion 110 via a hinge assembly 250. In accordance with one aspect of the invention, the work surface assembly 200 may be used so as to support a laptop computer.
  • In particular, features may be provided so as to assist in such use. For example, a work surface 210 of the work surface assembly 200 may be provided with bumpers 202. Each bumper 202 may be provided to cushion the disposition of the laptop upon the work surface assembly 200 and to prevent slippage of a laptop off the work surface assembly 200. In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, each bumper 202 may be constructed of plastic, elastomeric, rubber, or any other suitable material.
  • The work surface assembly 200 may also include a plurality of work support assemblies 230. In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, each work support assembly 230 includes a work support 231 that is pivotally attached to the work surface assembly 200. In an extended position (as shown in FIG. 1), the work support 231 is extended to support a laptop computer or other item. Further details of the work support assembly 230 are described below.
  • The device 100 further includes a handle 190. The handle 190 may be integrally formed with the base portion 110. In particular, as shown in FIG. 3, the handle 190 may be arcuate in shape, with the upper base portion 120 forming an upper portion of the handle 190, and the lower base portion 130 forming a lower portion of the handle 190.
  • FIG. 2 is a further perspective view of a device 100, with the base portion extensions 300 in a stored position. in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. Further details of moving the base portion extensions 300 from an extended position, as shown in FIG. 1, to a stored position, as shown in FIG. 2, are described below. Both FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 show that the work surface assembly 200 may be provided with a logo portion 204. The logo portion 204 may be disposed in a central portion of the work surface 210 and include any of a wide variety of indicia. The logo portion 204 may be in the form of a molded imprint, a sticker, and/or some other arrangement, for example.
  • FIG. 2 also shows that the base portion 110 may be provided with a recessed portion 116. The recessed portion 116 may be integrally molded into a top surface of the base portion 110, so as to receive the work surface assembly 200. Accordingly, in a lowered, i.e., stored position, the work surface 210 of the work surface assembly 200 is disposed flush with an adjacent surface of the base portion 110, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • As shown in FIG. 2, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention, the base portion 110 is provided with a set of latches 112. Each latch 112 serves to retain the work surface assembly 200 in a lowered/stored position. For example, each latch may be in the form of a resilient finger that clicks over a portion of the work surface assembly 200, i.e., upon the work surface assembly 200 being lowered into the recessed portion 116.
  • FIG. 3 is a further perspective view of the device 100 from a back side, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The device 100 includes a finger groove 180. The finger groove 180 may be in the form of an integral groove in the surface 117 of the upper base portion 120. Accordingly, when the work surface assembly 200 is in a stored position, the finger groove 180 allows a user to engage a side/edge of the work surface assembly 200, and apply pressure so as to raise the work surface assembly 200. In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, a finger receptacle 280 may be disposed in the work surface assembly 200 as shown in FIG. 3. In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, the finger receptacle 280 may be in the form of a recessed portion molded into the lower surface 220 of the work surface assembly 200.
  • FIG. 3 also shows further details of the prop 140. As shown, the prop 140 may be pivotally attached to the upper base portion 120 at pivot points 141. In particular, the prop 140 may be provided with a prop pin 148 at each side. The base portion 110 may be provided, as shown, with prop pin receptacles 147. Each prop pin receptacle 147 receives a prop pin 148, such that the prop 140 is pivotally attached to the base portion 110.
  • As shown, the prop 140 may be in the form of a web shape. However, the particular shape of the prop 140 may vary widely, so long as the particular shape affords the structural strength needed to support the work surface assembly 200.
  • The prop 140 is selectively connected to the work surface assembly 200 via a pair of prop connecting rib portions 142. Each prop connecting rib portion 142 interfaces with a prop clip 240 that are integrally disposed on a lower side of the work surface assembly 200. More specifically, the prop connecting rib portion 142 includes a connecting rib 143 and a terminus end 144. The connecting rib 143 engages into a selected prop clip 240. In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, the connecting rib 143 and the prop clip 240 are dimensioned such that the connecting rib 143 “clicks” into the prop clip 240. In order to release the connecting ribs 143 from a respective prop clip 240, a user simply applies pressure, i.e., so as to click the connecting ribs 143 out of it respective prop clip 240. Each prop connecting rib portion 142 includes a terminus end 144. The terminus ends 144 serve to retain the connecting ribs 143 in a respective prop clip 240.
  • FIG. 3 also shows work surface legs 260, which are attached to a lower surface 220 of the work surface assembly 200. Each work surface leg 260 is pivotally attached to the work surface assembly 200, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. Accordingly, each work surface leg 260 may be selectively pivoted from a stored position (as shown in FIG. 3) to an extended position (as shown in FIG. 5). In the stored position, each work surface leg 260 is disposed so as to be in parallel with i.e., laid against the lower surface 220 of the work surface assembly 200. In such position, the work surface assembly 200 may be positioned against the base portion 110, i.e., in a stored position as shown in FIG. 7, for example. Alternatively, the work surface legs 260 may be rotated so as to disposed in an extended position, as shown in FIG. 5 and FIG. 14, for example. In the extended position, the work surface legs 260 serve to support the work surface assembly 200 upon the base portion 110, upon a laptop, or upon some other surface, as desired.
  • In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, each work surface leg 260 is pivotally mounted to the lower surface 220 of the work surface assembly 200 with a leg hinge 264. More specifically, each work surface leg 260 may be provided with a pair of “L” shaped leg base portions 262, the ends of which respectively fit in suitable leg retaining apertures 263. Each leg base portion 262, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention, is selectively disposed in a respective groove 265 for both an extended position and a stored position. Due to the overall shape of the work surface leg 260, the leg base portions 262 are spring biased, i.e., so as to be biased to stay disposed in the grooves 265.
  • As shown in FIG. 3, the base portion 110, as well as other components of the device 100, may include molding apertures 114. Such molding apertures 114 may be selectively provided for various reasons, such as for clearance between parts, effective molding practices, and/or other reasons.
  • FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the device 100 from a back angle, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. In particular, FIG. 4 shows that the device 100 may be provided with a leveling assembly 500, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The leveling assembly 500 provides for the device 100 to be leveled on an uneven surface or otherwise angled as desired by a user. The arrangement of the prop 540 may be similar in structure to the prop 140 (and the structure provided to support the prop 140).
  • As shown, the prop 540 may be pivotally attached to the base portion 110 (and specifically the lower base portion 130) at pivot points 541. In particular, the prop 540 may be provided with a prop pin 548 at each side. The lower base portion 130 may be provided, as shown, with prop pin receptacles 547. Each prop pin receptacle 547 receives a prop pin 548, such that the prop 540 is pivotally attached to the lower base portion 130.
  • The prop may be provided with a prop connecting rib portion 542 and terminus end 544, which collectively interface with a desired prop clip 546, i.e., in a similar manner to the prop 140. A user may selectively position the prop connecting rib portions 542 in a particular prop clip 546, so as to provide the desired angle of the leveling assembly 500 vis-à-vis the base portion 110.
  • In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, the lower base portion 130 may be provided with a prop retaining hook 149. The prop retaining hook 149 is provided to snap over the prop 540, upon the prop 540 being disposed in a stored position, i.e., in such manner that the prop 540 is secured in the stored position in conjunction with the leveling assembly 500 disposed in a closed position (adjacent the lower base portion 130), as shown in FIG. 20. The prop 540 may be provided with a hook receptacle 549, e.g. a recessed portion, so as to interface with the prop retaining hook 149. Further, the lower base portion 130 may be provided with a recessed portion, in which both the prop 540 and the leveling assembly 500 may be disposed (as also shown in FIG. 20, for example).
  • FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the work surface assembly 200, with the work surface assembly 200 removed from the upper base portion 120, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. FIG. 6 is a top view of the work surface assembly 200, with the work surface assembly 200 removed from the upper base portion 120, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. Further, FIG. 7 is a bottom view of the work surface assembly 200, with the work surface assembly 200 removed from the upper base portion 120, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • As described above, the work surface assembly 200 may also include a plurality of work support assemblies 230. In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, each work support assembly 230 includes a work support 231 that is pivotally attached to the work surface assembly 200. In an extended position (as shown in FIG. 1), the work support 231 is extended to support a laptop computer or other item. Each of the work supports 231 may be pivoted between the extended position and a stored position. In the stored position, the work support assembly 230 is disposed in a work support receptacle 234, as shown in FIGS. 5-7, for example. The work support receptacle 234 may be a recessed portion that is molded into the work surface assembly 200, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The dimensions of the work support receptacle 234 may be such that the work support receptacle 234 accepts the work support 231, i.e., such that the exposed surface of the work support 231 lays flush or below the work surface 210.
  • As shown in FIG. 6, a finger groove 239 may be provided to assist a user to move each work support 231 from the stored position to an extended position. The finger groove 239 may be in the form of a recessed groove that allows a user to position their finger under the upper edge of each work support 231.
  • Each of the work supports 231 may be hinged in any suitable manner. As described below with reference to FIG. 19, for example, the end of each of the work supports 231 that is attached to the work surface 210 may be provided with opposing pivot pins that extend from each side of the work support 231. Further, the work surface 210 may be provided with a pair of pin retaining tabs 235 for each work support 231. Each pin retaining tab 235 serves to retain a respective pivot pin 233 via a tab concave portion 237, i.e., a recessed portion, integrally formed in each pin retaining tab 235. Thus, the arrangement including the pivot pin 233 retained by the pin retaining tab 235 (on each side of the work support 231) allows the work support 231 to be retained, while allowing pivoting motion.
  • FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the device 100 with the base portion extensions 300 in an extended position and the work surface assembly 200 in a raised position, and supporting a laptop computer 600, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. As shown, the work supports 231 are in the extended position and the laptop computer 600 is supported on the work supports 231. FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the device 100 with an expanded view showing the work supports 231 supporting the laptop computer 600, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the device 100 with the base portion extensions 300 in an extended position and the work surface assembly 200 in a lowered, i.e., stored, position, and supporting a laptop computer 600, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the device 100 with the base portion extensions 300 in a stored position, i.e., a closed position, and the work surface assembly 200 in a lowered, i.e., stored, position, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. As shown, the upper base portion 120 and the lower base portion 130 may be provided with recessed edge sections 118. The recessed edge sections 118 provide a relieved portion of an edge wall of the base portion 110 so as to allow a user to grasp a base portion extension 300. The user may so grasp a base portion extension 300 and rotate the particular base portion extension 300 to a desired extended position.
  • Relatedly, FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the device 100 with the base portion extensions 300 in an extended position, and the work surface assembly 200 in a lowered, i.e., stored, position, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the device 100 in a further arrangement, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. As shown, the work surface assembly 200 is removed from the base portion 110. That is, a laptop computer 600 is positioned upon the base portion 110, and the work surface assembly 200 is in turn positioned upon the laptop computer 600. Accordingly, the work surface assembly 200 provides a work surface upon which a user may work, while still having ready access to the laptop computer 600. As shown in FIG. 13, and described above, the work surface legs 260 of the work surface assembly 200 are in an extended position, so as to support the work surface assembly 200 over the laptop computer 600.
  • Relatedly, FIG. 14 is a perspective view showing an alternative embodiment to the work surface legs 260, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. That is, FIG. 14 shows that, in lieu of the work surface legs 260, the work surface assembly 200 may be supported with pads 270 and integral feet 272. The pads 270 and the integral feet 272 serve to support the work surface assembly 200 upon a desired surface in a stable manner. Further, the pads 270 and the integral feet 272 provide a more simplified structure vis-à-vis the work surface legs 260, which may be desired.
  • As related to FIG. 14, FIG. 24 is a perspective view showing the work surface assembly 200 disposed above a laptop computer 600, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The laptop computer 600 is in turn disposed upon the base portion 110. As shown, the work surface assembly 200 is provided with the pads 270 and the integral feet 272. FIG. 25 is a perspective view showing the work surface assembly 200 disposed upon a laptop computer 600, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. FIG. 25 further illustrates operation of pads 270 and the integral feet 272, i.e., that such arrangement may provide for the work surface assembly 200 to rest upon a laptop computer 600, and provide a working surface for the user.
  • As shown in FIG. 1 and described above, the device 100 includes a plurality of base portion extensions 300 that extend from the base portion 110. In particular, each of the base portion extensions 300 pivot from a stored position (as shown in FIG. 2) to an extended position (as shown in FIG. 1). Each of the base portion extensions 300, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention, are mounted to a rotation assembly 150 so as to provide for such pivoting.
  • FIG. 15 is a perspective view showing details of the rotation assembly 150, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. FIG. 16 is a cross sectional view showing various further details of the rotation assembly 150, the base portion extension 300 and other components, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. Specifically, FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional view of portion 16-16 of FIG. 17. As shown, the rotation assembly 150 is attached to and extends through the upper base portion 120, extends through a base portion extension 300, and is attached and extends through the lower base portion 130.
  • The rotation assembly 150 includes a plug head 171 that serves to secure the plug 151 on the upper base portion 120. The plug head 171 may be seated in plug well 126 that is disposed in the upper base portion 120. The plug 151 may include a lock groove 152. The lock groove 152 is provided to interface in some manner with a detent (or other structure) in the plug well 126, i.e., so as to preclude rotational movement of the plug 151. A lower portion of the plug 151, as shown, is provided with a tube portion 153. The tube portion 153 includes a threaded interior portion 154.
  • The rotation assembly 150 also includes a plug 160 with a tube portion 169. The plug 160 may be disposed in a suitable plug well in the lower base portion 130. As shown, a screw, bolt or other suitable fastener 166 extends through a central aperture in the plug 160 so as to pass into and be threadably secured in the threaded interior portion 154 (of the plug 151). In this manner, the plug 160 is attached to the plug 151, and in turn attaches the upper base portion 120 with the lower base portion 130, passing through a pivot aperture 315 (of the base portion extension 310).
  • In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, as shown in FIG. 16, the plug 160 is provided with a seating surface 161 that slidably interfaces with a seating wall 125 of the upper base portion 120. To further seat the components and allow rotational movement, seating surface 156 including a shoulder of the seating surface 156 (on the upper base portion 120) interfaces both with an interior seating surface 311 of the base extension portion 310 (as shown in FIG. 16) and with a seating surface 158 (on the lower base portion 130).
  • FIG. 16 also shows the manner in which the base portion extension 300 is rotationally sandwiched between the upper base portion 120 and the lower base portion 130, and rotationally disposed about the rotation assembly 150 (including the plug 151 and the plug 160). In particular, the rotation assembly 150 includes a friction o-ring 155 and a friction o-ring 165. The friction o-ring 155 is disposed between a seating wall 101 (of the upper base portion 120) and a seating wall 106 of the base extension portion 310. Further, the friction o-ring 165 is disposed between a seating wall 102 (of the lower base portion 130) and a seating wall 107 of the base extension portion 310. The base extension portion 310 is otherwise provided clearance to freely rotate vis-à-vis the upper base portion 120 and the lower base portion 130. The friction o-rings (155, 165) serve to frictionally retain the base extension portion 310 in a particular position (vis-à-vis the base portion 110, inclusive of the upper base portion 120 and lower base portion 130) while allowing movement of the base extension portion 310 if sufficient rotational pressure is provided by the user, i.e., so as to rotate the base extension portion 310 from the stored position to an extended position.
  • As described herein, the arrangement of the rotation assembly 150, upper base portion 120, lower base portion 130 and base extension portion 310 provides substantial structural support for the base extension portion 310. Thus, such arrangement provides for stable and strong base portion extensions 300.
  • While a particular arrangement has been described to seat and allow rotational movement of the base portion extension 310 (as the base portion extension 310 is sandwiched between the upper base portion 120 and the lower base portion 130), it is appreciated that various other arrangements may be used. Such other arrangements might vary in the shape of the components and the manner in which the components interface and seat with each other. The particular arrangement of the base extension portion 310 and rotation assembly 150, along with the upper base portion 120 and the lower base portion 130 has been described. In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, the other base portion extensions (320, 330) are supported by a similar arrangement.
  • Relatedly, FIG. 17 is a cross sectional diagram showing the device 100 and details of the rotation assembly 150, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. Specifically, FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view along line 17-17 of FIG. 11. As shown, the work surface assembly 200 and the leveling assembly 500 are in the stored position.
  • FIG. 18 is a cross sectional diagram showing the work surface assembly 200, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. Specifically, FIG. 18 is a cross-sectional view along line 18-18 of FIG. 6. As shown, the work support 231 is in an extended position, i.e., so as to support a laptop computer 600 or some other device.
  • FIG. 19 is a partial cross sectional view of a work support assembly 230, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. Specifically, FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional view of portion 19-19 of FIG. 18. As shown in FIG. 19, and noted above, the work support 231 (of the work support assembly 230) includes a pair of retaining tabs 232, which are mounted on opposing sides of the work support 231. In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, each retaining tab 232 interfaces with a corresponding snap portion 236, as shown in FIG. 7. That is, as a work support 231 is moved from an extended position to nearing the stored position, each retaining tab 232 snaps over (or otherwise engages with) a corresponding snap portion 236. For example, each snap portion 236 may include an integrally molded shoulder that allows a retaining tab 232 to snap over, thus retaining each work support 231 in the stored position. Upon a user wanting the work support 231 again disposed in an extended position, the user would apply pressure to the work support back 238 (via placing the user's finger in the finger groove 239). Such pressure on the work support back 238 forces the work support 231 (and specifically the retaining tabs 232) to snap past the snap portions 236, such that the work support 231 may be then further moved out into the extended position, i.e., so as to support a laptop or other item thereon.
  • As shown in FIG. 19, the work surface assembly 200 also includes the hinge pivot shaft 252, as is also shown in FIG. 6, for example. The hinge pivot shaft 252 serves to connect the work surface assembly 200 to the base portion 110. Further details of the hinge assembly 250 (including the hinge pivot shaft 252 are described below).
  • FIG. 20 is a cross sectional diagram showing the device 100 and details of the base portion extensions 300, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. Specifically, FIG. 20 is a cross-sectional view along line 20-20 of FIG. 11. As shown, the work surface assembly 200 and the leveling assembly 500 are in the stored position. FIG. 21 is a partial cross sectional view showing details of the hinge assemblies, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. Specifically, FIG. 21 is a cross-sectional view of portion 21-21 of FIG. 20. In particular, FIG. 21 shows details of the hinge assembly 250 (for the work surface assembly 200) and details of the hinge assembly 590 (for the leveling assembly 500). FIG. 22 is partial perspective view of the device 100 showing details of the hinge assembly 250, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • As shown in FIG. 21 and described above, the hinge assembly 250 pivotally attaches the upper base portion 120 with the work surface assembly 200. A hinge pivot shaft 252 is attached to the work surface assembly 200 via a plurality of hinge support shoulders 254, as also shown in FIG. 6 and FIG. 22. The hinge pivot shaft 252 interfaces with a hinge shaft retaining leaf 256, as shown in FIG. 21. In particular, the hinge shaft retaining leaf 256 runs the width of the hinge assembly 250. The hinge shaft retaining leaf 256 includes a leaf elongated recess 257 and a leaf elongated protuberance 258. The leaf elongated recess 257 and the leaf elongated protuberance 258 also run the width of the hinge assembly 250. The leaf elongated recess 257 serves to receive the hinge pivot shaft 252, in conjunction with the leaf elongated protuberance 258 retaining the hinge pivot shaft 252, i.e., such that the hinge pivot shaft 252 is allowed to pivotally rotate but not to move past the leaf elongated protuberance 258 while the work surface assembly 200 is in a working position (i.e., and not positioned vertically). As shown in FIG. 21, the upper base portion 120 includes an interior support web 255 disposed adjacent the hinge shaft retaining leaf 256. The interior support web 255 serves to interface with the hinge support shoulders 254, i.e., such that the hinge pivot shaft 252 is retained against the hinge shaft retaining leaf 256 while the work surface assembly 200 is in a working position, as shown in FIG. 2, for example. The interior support web 255 further serves to structurally connect the surfaces of the upper base portion 120, as shown.
  • In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, the hinge pivot shaft 252 is in the form of a cylinder with a portion of the diameter 252′ flattened, or reduced, i.e., such that the hinge pivot shaft 252 includes a large diameter and a small diameter. As noted above, as the work surface assembly 200 is in a working position (i.e., and not positioned vertically), the hinge pivot shaft 252 is retained by the leaf elongated recess 257. However, upon the user positioning the work surface assembly 200 in a vertical position (or substantially vertical position), the hinge pivot shaft 252 is disposed such that the hinge pivot shaft 252 can pass past the leaf elongated protuberance 258, due to the smaller cross section of the hinge pivot shaft 252. Thus, in this manner, the work surface assembly 200 may be removed, so as to be used by the user in other configurations of the device 100, i.e., such as that shown in FIG. 14.
  • As noted above, FIG. 22 is partial perspective view of the device 100 showing details of the hinge assembly 250, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. FIG. 22 shows the work surface assembly 200 removed from the upper base portion 120, and the relative position of the work surface assembly 200 and the upper base portion 120 so as to allow such removal. As shown the upper base portion 120 is positioned sufficiently in a vertical position so as to allow the reduced diameter side of the hinge pivot shaft 252 to pass by the leaf elongated protuberance 258. However, relatedly, it is appreciated that the hinge shaft retaining leaf 256 (and the leaf elongated protuberance 258) may spring, i.e., give or deflect to some degree, so as to allow the hinge pivot shaft 252 to pass by.
  • FIG. 22 also shows that the upper base portion 120 may include a plurality of structural supports 259. Each structural support 259 serves to structurally connect and support the surfaces of the upper base portion 120, as shown, along with the interior support web 255.
  • FIG. 21 further shows details of the hinge assembly 590, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The hinge assembly 590 (also shown in FIG. 4) may be of similar structure to the of the hinge assembly 250. The hinge assembly 590 hinge pivot shaft 552 that is connected to the leveling assembly 500 via a plurality of hinge support shoulders 554. The lower base portion 130 receives and holds the hinge pivot shaft 552, along with the hinge support shoulder 554, between a hinge shaft retaining leaf 556 and a interior support web 555 (in a manner similar to the hinge assembly 250). However, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention, the hinge pivot shaft 552 is of constant diameter, since the leveling assembly 500 and hinge pivot shaft 552 are not intended to be removed in operation of the device 100.
  • FIG. 23 is a perspective view of the device 100 showing details of the leveling assembly 500, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. In particular, FIG. 23 (and FIG. 21) show that the lower base portion 130 includes a plurality of pads 132 that may serve to support the device 100. In conjunction with the pads 132, the leveling assembly 500 may also be provided with a larger pad 520. The pad 520, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention, is received in a matching size recess 510 in the lower surface of the leveling assembly 500. The pad 520 serves to provide a cushioned surface while resting the device 100 upon a user's legs or any other supporting surface. For example, the pads 132 and the pad 520 may be constructed of suitable elastomeric material.
  • FIG. 26 is a perspective view of the device 100 showing a flip-up portion 136 and other variations, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. In particular, the device 100 may be provided with a flip-up portion 136 to retain a gadget 137. The flip-up portion 136 may be constructed to retain the gadget 137 and be pivotally connected to one of the base extension portions 300. The gadget 137 might clip to, snap into, or in some other manner be physically retained by the flip-up portion 136, while being removable from the flip-up portion 136 as needed. The flip-up portion 136 may be pivotally attached to one of the base extension portions 300, i.e., so as to pivot between a use position (as shown) to a closed position (such that the gadget 137 lies parallel to the base extension portion 300 and is protected by the flip-up portion 136 for example). Upon the flip-up portion being in the closed position, the base portion extension 300 may be rotated into the base portion 110, i.e., into the stored position. The gadget 137 might be a MP3 player, iPOD, Personal Digital Assistant, BLACKBERRY, cell phone, and/or some other device, for example.
  • FIG. 26 also shows that the shape of the work surface assembly 200 may be varied, as well as the manner in which the work surface assembly 200 is hingedly connected to the upper base portion 120. Also, the position of the work support assemblies 230 may be varied as desired.
  • FIG. 27 is a perspective view of a device 100 showing a leveling portion 133, in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. As shown, the leveling portion 133 may include two cushion portions (134,134′) that are connected by a hinge portion 135. One or both of the two cushion portions (134,134′) may be connected to the lower base portion 130 in some suitable manner, i.e., such as by using clips or other releasable fasteners, for example. In one embodiment, the one of the two cushion portions (134,134′) may be released from the lower base portion 130 and folded under the other cushion portion (134,134′). That is, the hinge portion 135 allows for one cushion portion 134 (either 134 or 134′) to be folded under the other cushion portion 134 to add more height and/or adjust to a different angle, as desired. The leveling portion 133, including the cushion portion 134 and the hinge portion 135 may be constructed of any suitable material such as a coated foam and be varied in dimension as desired, for example.
  • As described herein, the devices above, in accordance with the various embodiments of the invention, have been described in the context of holding a laptop computer and other items. However, it is appreciated that the devices of the invention may be used to hold a wide variety of materials for viewing and other items, as may be desired. Accordingly, the devices of the invention might hold books, magazines, papers, photographs or any other object that might be physically supported on the device.
  • The devices of the invention, in accordance with the various embodiments, may be made from any of a wide variety of materials, as is desired. For example, the invention might be made of wood, plastic, metal, and/or foam, for example, or any other material. Further, a variety of production techniques may be used to make the device as described herein. For example, suitable molding techniques might be utilized. Also, the various components of the device may be integrally formed, as may be desired, in particular when using molding construction techniques. The respective arrangements may be provided in various sizes and relative dimensions, as desired.
  • In conclusion, it will be readily understood by those persons skilled in the art that the present invention is susceptible to broad utility and application. Many embodiments and adaptations of the present invention other than those herein described, as well as many variations, modifications and equivalent arrangements, will be apparent from or reasonably suggested by the present invention and foregoing description thereof, without departing from the substance or scope of the invention.
  • Accordingly, while the present invention has been described here in detail in relation to its exemplary embodiments, it is to be understood that this disclosure is only illustrative and exemplary of the present invention and is made to provide an enabling disclosure of the invention. Accordingly, the foregoing disclosure is not intended to be construed or to limit the present invention or otherwise to exclude any other such embodiments, adaptations, variations, modifications and equivalent arrangements.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. A device for providing at least one work surface, the device comprising:
    a base portion that includes an upper base portion and a lower base portion, the upper base portion and the lower base portion forming a base portion cavity disposed there between;
    at least one base portion extension, each base portion extension attached to the base portion, each base portion extension movable between a stored position in which the base portion extension is mostly disposed in the base portion cavity, and an extended position, in which the base portion extension is mostly extended out from the base portion so as to form a working surface.
  2. 2. The device of claim 1, wherein the at least one base portion extension is four base portion extensions.
  3. 3. The device of claim 1, further comprising a work surface assembly, the work surface assembly pivotally disposed upon the base portion so as to form a work surface such that the angle of the work surface may be varied.
  4. 4. The device of claim 3, the work surface assembly pivotally disposed upon the upper base portion of the base portion.
  5. 5. The device of claim 3, further comprising a plurality of work support assemblies mounted on the work surface assembly, the work support assemblies provided to support an item on the work surface assembly.
  6. 6. The device of claim 5, the work support assemblies provided to support a lap top computer on the work surface assembly.
  7. 7. The device of claim 1, further comprising a leveling assembly, the leveling assembly pivotally disposed under the base portion and attached to the lower base portion, the leveling assembly pivotally disposed such that the angle that the base portion is disposed upon a surface may be varied.
  8. 8. The device of claim 1, each of the base portion extensions being pivotally attached to the base portion, so as to pivot from the stored position to the extended position.
  9. 9. The device of claim 8, wherein at least one of the base portion extensions is provided to support a mouse pad.
  10. 10. The device of claim 8, wherein at least one of the base portion extensions is provided with a plurality of receptacles to house a pad of paper and a writing instrument, respectively.
  11. 11. The device of claim 8, wherein at least one of the base portion extensions is provided with a receptacle shaped to support a beverage receptacle.
  12. 12. The device of claim 8, wherein each of the base portion extensions is independently rotatable from the other base portion extensions.
  13. 13. The device of claim 8, further including a respective rotation assembly to pivotally support a respective base portion.
  14. 14. The device of claim 13, each rotation assembly including a plurality of seating surfaces so as to pivotally support the corresponding base portion extension between the upper base portion and the lower base portion.
  15. 15. The device of claim 14, each rotation assembly further including a plurality of friction o-rings to interface with the seating surfaces so as to pivotally support the corresponding base portion extension between the upper base portion and the lower base portion.
  16. 16. The device of claim 1, further comprising:
    a work surface assembly, the work surface assembly pivotally disposed upon the base portion so as to form a work surface such that the angle of the work surface may be varied; and
    a leveling assembly, the leveling assembly pivotally disposed under the base portion and attached to the lower base portion, the leveling assembly pivotally disposed such that the angle that the base portion is disposed upon a surface may be varied.
  17. 17. The device of claim 16, further comprising a plurality of work support assemblies mounted on the work surface assembly, the work support assemblies provided to support an item on the work surface assembly.
  18. 18. The device of claim 1, wherein the device is constructed primarily of plastic.
  19. 19. A device for providing at least one work surface, the device comprising:
    a base portion that includes an upper base portion and a lower base portion, the upper base portion and the lower base portion forming a base portion cavity disposed there between;
    at least one base portion extension, each base portion extension attached to the base portion, each base portion extension movable between a stored position in which the base portion extension is mostly disposed in the base portion cavity, and an extended position, in which the base portion extension is mostly extended out from the base portion so as to form a working surface;
    a work surface assembly, the work surface assembly pivotally disposed upon the base portion so as to form a work surface such that the angle of the work surface may be varied;
    a leveling assembly, the leveling assembly pivotally disposed under the base portion and attached to the lower base portion, the leveling assembly pivotally disposed such that the angle that the base portion is disposed upon a surface may be varied; and
    a plurality of work support assemblies mounted on the work surface assembly, the work support assemblies provided to support an item on the work surface assembly.
  20. 20. A method of using a device for providing at least one work surface, the method comprising:
    providing a base portion that includes an upper base portion and a lower base portion, the upper base portion and the lower base portion forming a base portion cavity disposed there between;
    providing at least one base portion extension, each base portion extension attached to the base portion, each base portion extension movable between a stored position in which the base portion extension is mostly disposed in the base portion cavity, and an extended position, in which the base portion extension is mostly extended out from the base portion so as to form a working surface; and
    rotating the base portion extension from the stored position to the extended position so as to support an item on the base portion extension.
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