US20140007324A1 - Soft helmet incorporating rigid panels - Google Patents

Soft helmet incorporating rigid panels Download PDF

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Publication number
US20140007324A1
US20140007324A1 US13820060 US201213820060A US2014007324A1 US 20140007324 A1 US20140007324 A1 US 20140007324A1 US 13820060 US13820060 US 13820060 US 201213820060 A US201213820060 A US 201213820060A US 2014007324 A1 US2014007324 A1 US 2014007324A1
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US
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Prior art keywords
strap
soft
layer
helmet
shell
Prior art date
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
Application number
US13820060
Inventor
Tim Svehaug
Original Assignee
Tim Svehaug
Priority date (The priority date 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 date listed.)
Filing date
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A42HEADWEAR
    • A42BHATS; HEAD COVERINGS
    • A42B3/00Helmets; Helmet covers; Other protective head coverings
    • A42B3/04Parts, details or accessories of helmets
    • A42B3/10Linings
    • A42B3/12Cushioning devices
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A42HEADWEAR
    • A42BHATS; HEAD COVERINGS
    • A42B1/00Hats; Caps; Hoods
    • A42B1/04Soft caps; Hoods
    • A42B1/08Soft caps; Hoods with protection against blows

Abstract

A soft helmet for wear under a hat is described. The soft helmet may have a plurality of inserts configured to fit into pockets on the interior of the soft helmet. The inserts may be placed so as to cover a majority of a wearer's head. To provide protection, the inserts have a top portion that may be a rigid material and a bottom portion that may be an elastomeric material. The soft helmet may not be readably noticeable to viewers of a wearer using the soft helmet. In another embodiment, the soft helmet may be utilized as a standalone hat. The hat may appear to be a normal beanie or baseball cap.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/578,184, filed 20 Dec. 2011, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/528,473, filed 29 Aug. 2011.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    Helmets that provide a wearer with impact protection are recommended when riding a motorcycle or bicycle as well as when participating in certain recreational sports, such as, but not limited to, rock climbing and skiing. Helmets that provide for impact and/or ballistic protection tend to be one or more of uncomfortable, hot, heavy and visually unappealing. Because of the foregoing, many participants in the aforementioned activities do not wear a helmet increasing their risk of head injury in an accident.
  • [0003]
    While helmets are generally unpopular with wearers and those who eschew helmets alike (even helmet wearers would not wear a helmet but for the safety considerations), caps and hats of differing styles are regularly worn by the general population. For instance, baseball caps and beanies are extremely popular among certain segments of the population. Both types of hats are comprised primarily of fabric that is flexible and soft. Fabric headgear offers essentially no impact or ballistic protection to a wearer. Rather, one of the primary purposes of wearing these types of headgear is style and/or fashion.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0004]
    FIG. 1A is a front view of a soft helmet illustrating pockets and inserts according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0005]
    FIG. 1B is a cross-sectional view of an insert in a pocket according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0006]
    FIG. 2A is a top view of a rectangular insert according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0007]
    FIG. 2B is a side view of the rectangular insert shown in FIG. 2A.
  • [0008]
    FIG. 3A is a side view of a triangular insert according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0009]
    FIG. 3B is a side view of the triangular insert shown in FIG. 3A.
  • [0010]
    FIG. 4 is a side view of a soft helmet illustrating the soft helmet on a wearer, a chin strap, and the placement of inserts according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0011]
    FIG. 5 is a side view of a soft helmet implemented in a ball cap illustrating the soft helmet on a wearer and the placement of inserts according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0012]
    FIG. 6A is a front view illustrating the placement of inserts according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0013]
    FIG. 6B is a side view illustrating the placement of inserts shown in FIG. 6A.
  • [0014]
    FIG. 7A is a front view illustrating the placement of inserts according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0015]
    FIG. 7B is a side view illustrating the placement of inserts shown in FIG. 7A.
  • [0016]
    FIG. 7C is a back view illustrating the placement of inserts shown in FIG. 7A.
  • [0017]
    FIG. 8A is a side view of a chin strap shown deployed with a soft helmet.
  • [0018]
    FIG. 8B is a side view of the chin strap shown stored in the soft helmet.
  • [0019]
    FIG. 9A is a side view illustrating a chin strap with a quick release and two attachment points to a soft helmet.
  • [0020]
    FIG. 9B is a side view illustrating a chin strap with a quick release and one attachment point to a soft helmet.
  • [0021]
    FIG. 9C is a front view of a chin strap with a hook and loop attachment means.
  • [0022]
    FIG. 9D is a front view of a chin strap with a means for tightening the chin strap.
  • [0023]
    FIG. 9E is a front view of a chin strap with a belt buckle attachment means.
  • [0024]
    FIG. 9F is a front view of a chin strap with an adjustment means.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0025]
    Broadly, at least one embodiment of the invention comprises a close fitting shell which may be worn directly over the head. Due to the design of the shell, a wearer may cover the shell with a cap, beanie, bandanna or any other type of headgear. The shell may be comprised of fabric that incorporates a plurality of separate rigid or semi-rigid panels therein. The fabric portion of the shell may comprise a plurality of distributed pockets sized and configured to receive specific inserts or panels. In some embodiments, the shell may implement a chin strap to aid in securing the shell to a wearer's head. It is to be appreciated that variations of the chin strap may be implemented with the shell.
  • [0026]
    Another embodiment of the present invention may comprise a fabric or soft-sided headgear, such as a cap or beanie, which may incorporate a plurality of separate rigid or semi-rigid panels therein. Collectively, the panels may cover a significant portion of a surface area of a wearer's head located within the piece of headgear. Further, the design may permit the headgear to be worn close to the head in a form fitting manner closer in appearance to a prior art cap or beanie when contrasted with a rigid helmet.
  • [0027]
    Embodiments of the present invention may be implemented as soft helmets that provide enhanced protection for a wearer when compared to soft caps and hats. For purposes of this description, a soft helmet refers to a protective headgear that may retain a degree of flexibility such as is provided by the fabric, but may also provide a measure of ballistic and impact protection for the portions of the head located underneath the protective panels.
  • [0028]
    Embodiments of the soft helmet may be used in a variety of situations depending on the nature of the panels used. The individual panels may comprise any suitable material, and in several embodiments are removable and interchangeable. In one instance, such as motorcycling and especially by people who would not otherwise wear a helmet, the soft helmet may incorporate panels having a rigid outer layer and energy absorbing inner layer. The soft helmet may also be used by skiers, rock climbers, snow boarders, bicyclists or any other activity where protection of the head from impact is important.
  • [0029]
    The soft inner layer may vary depending on the intended use. For instance, variations of the panels may include an energy absorbing layer that absorbs and dissipates energy of an impact much in the same fashion as expanded polystyrene does in motorcycle, skiing and bicycling helmets. In other variations of the soft helmet, the panels may be made as thin and/or light as possible while still providing a reasonable measure of protection. Some panel configurations are contemplated wherein both the inner and outer layers are made of a soft material, such as an elastomer, but of differing hardness. Soft helmets having thin lightweight panels and those with soft panels may be useful in medical applications with children and/or adults who, for instance, have to wear protection to protect their heads because of soft spots in the skull either from surgery or a medical condition.
  • [0030]
    EMbodiments of the soft helmet are illustrated in the figures. A description describing elements of the various embodiments is provided with the description of the figures. As can be appreciated, the description provided in relation to a particular figure is not necessarily limited to the embodiment(s) shown in the particular figure, but may be applicable to other embodiments as well.
  • Terminology
  • [0031]
    The terms and phrases as indicated in quotation marks (“ ”) in this section are intended to have the meaning ascribed to them in this Terminology section applied to them throughout this document, including in the claims, unless clearly indicated otherwise in context. Further, as applicable, the stated definitions are to apply, regardless of the word or phrase's case, to the singular and plural variations of the defined word or phrase.
  • [0032]
    The term “or” as used in this specification and the appended claims is not meant to be exclusive; rather the term is inclusive, meaning either or both.
  • [0033]
    References in the specification to “one embodiment”, “an embodiment”, “another embodiment, “a preferred embodiment”, “an alternative embodiment”, “one variation”, “a variation” and similar phrases mean that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment or variation, is included in at least an embodiment or variation of the invention. The phrase “in one embodiment”, “in one variation” or similar phrases, as used in various places in the specification, are not necessarily meant to refer to the same embodiment or the same variation.
  • [0034]
    The term “couple” or “coupled” as used in this specification and appended claims refers to an indirect or direct physical connection between the identified elements, components, or objects. Often the manner of the coupling will be related specifically to the manner in which the two coupled elements interact.
  • [0035]
    The term “directly coupled” or “coupled directly,” as used in this specification and appended claims, refers to a physical connection between identified elements, components, or objects, in which no other element, component, or object resides between those identified as being directly coupled.
  • [0036]
    The term “approximately,” as used in this specification and appended claims, refers to plus or minus 10% of the value given.
  • [0037]
    The term “about,” as used in this specification and appended claims, refers to plus or minus 20% of the value given.
  • [0038]
    The terms “generally” and “substantially,” as used in this specification and appended claims, mean mostly, or for the most part.
  • [0039]
    A First Embodiment of a Soft helmet for Wear Under a Hat
  • [0040]
    FIG. 1A is a detailed diagram of an embodiment 100 showing a soft helmet implemented as a shell 102. Embodiment 100 is one example of a shell used for protection while participating in recreational sports.
  • [0041]
    The shell 102 may have an exterior layer 104, an interior layer 106, a plurality of pockets 108, and a plurality of panels or inserts 110.
  • [0042]
    The shell 102 may be made of any suitable fabric including, but not limited to, lycra or spandex stretchable fabric, nylon, cotton, or any other similar material. Generally, the exterior layer 104 and the interior layer 106 are comprised of the same material. For instance, the exterior layer 104 and interior layer 106 may be made out of a knit fabric, such as cotton. In one instance, the exterior layer 104 may be made of a different material from the interior layer 106. For example, the exterior layer 104 may comprise a fire retardant material and the interior layer 106 may comprise a breathable mesh material.
  • [0043]
    To protect the skull of a wearer using the shell 102, the plurality of panels 110 may be configured to fit within the plurality of pockets 108. Each pocket of the plurality of pockets 108 may have an open end. The open end of the pocket may be configured to receive a panel. In some embodiments, a hook and loop closure may be provided at the opening of each pocket to secure the panels therein. It is to be appreciated that a variety of means to secure the panels may be implemented. For example, snap fasteners may be implemented to secure panels within the pockets. In one instance, multiple types of closure means may be used. For example, some pockets may implement a snap fastener and other pockets may implement a hook and loop closure.
  • [0044]
    In a typical construction, a small number of larger pieces of fabric may be joined to define the general shape of the outer layer 104 of the shell 102 and smaller pieces of fabric may be sewn to the joined larger pieces to make the pockets 108 configured to receive the various panels 110. The open ends of the smaller pieces may be folded over proximate their open ends to form an enclosure, as shown in Figure I B. Accordingly, the ends of the panels 110 may be placed in the folded over portion when placed in the pockets 108 thereby minimizing the chance that a panel will slide out of a pocket at the open end. In other variations, hook and loop closures, snaps, buttons or other means of sealing the open end may be provided.
  • [0045]
    As can be appreciated, the actual means for attaching the panels 110 to the interior layer 106 of the shell 102 can vary dramatically between embodiments as can the design and configuration of the panels 110.
  • [0046]
    In a preferred embodiment of the shell 102, the plurality of pockets 108 may be segmented. By segmenting the pockets, a majority of a wearer's skull may be covered by the pockets 108. Generally the plurality of pockets 108 may be spaced equidistant from each other.
  • [0047]
    In another instance, the plurality of pockets 108 may be placed based on the intended use of the shell 102. For example, if the shell 102 is used for rock climbing, more of the pockets may be placed towards the crown of the shell. By placing more pockets towards the crown, more protection may be afforded the top of the skull of a user. This may be advantageous in rock climbing where falling rocks are a concern.
  • [0048]
    Since the shell 102 may be implemented in a variety of recreational activities, the panels 110 need to be adaptable for a variety of uses. Generally, the panels 110 are comprised of two different materials coupled together. In one embodiment, the panels 110 may include a hard or rigid top portion/layer and a soft or compressible bottom portion/layer. The top portion may be comprised of a rigid polymeric material, such as nylon. As can be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art, the type and strength of the rigid portion will greatly affect the puncture resistance of the panel as well as the panel's ability to transfer impact or ballistic loads over the area of the panel. The bottom portion or layer may be comprised of a soft, resilient or compressible material. The bottom portion may provide impact energy absorption. Numerous materials may be used to form the bottom layer as would be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art given the benefit of this disclosure.
  • [0049]
    In a preferred embodiment, one side of the panel may be made of a rigid material and the other side may be made of an impact absorbing material. It is to be appreciated that the two materials may be coupled in a variety of manners, which depends on the materials implemented. For example, overmolding may be implemented to couple two materials together into one panel.
  • [0050]
    Of note, in an actual shell the panels 110 may not be readily visible to an observer. The panels 110 are visible in the figures for illustrative purposes only.
  • [0051]
    As can be appreciated, the shape of the panels 110 may be largely dictated by where on the shell 102 the panel is to reside. Further, depending on the intended use of the shell 102, the number of pockets 108 may be altered to provide more or less panels. The user may also alter the amount of protection by removing panels and/or changing out different types of panels
  • [0052]
    Of note, because the panels are removable, variations of the shell 102 are contemplated wherein the type of panel may be switched out depending on the type of activity being undertaken and/or the amount of head protection desired. For instance, if the shell 102 is being worn casually, the panels 110 may be removed completely with the user donning the shell 102 alone. Alternatively, when the shell 102 is used for motorcycling, a rigid panel with a relatively thick impact energy absorption layer may be placed in the pockets 108 of the shell 102. In contrast, if the shell 102 is to be worn while rock climbing, impact protection from small rocks falling from overhead might be most important. As such, panels with thicker or more puncture resistant rigid layers might be specified rather than bottom layers comprised of foam or perhaps a layer of leather.
  • [0053]
    Where no protection is needed, a user may remove all of the panels 110 from the shell 102. For instance, when in transit to the ski resort a user may remove all the panels 110. Once the user is ready to ski or snowboard, the user may place the panels 110 back into the pockets 108. The user may also remove all the panels after they are done skiing. The shell 102 may provide a protective headgear when needed and also provide a practical everyday cap to wear when no protection is needed.
  • [0054]
    . Some embodiments may incorporate a strap (not shown in FIG. 1A). The strap may act to secure the shell 102 to a wearer's head. Typically, the chin strap may be thin enough to be tucked under the shell 102 between the wearer's head and the interior layer 106 of the shell 102 when not in use. The chin strap is provided primarily for use when undertaking a recreational activity wherein an impact could dislodge the shell 102 from the wearer. As such, the chin strap may act to help hold the shell 102 in place during an impact event. In one embodiment, the chin strap may comprise a single point of attachment on the left side and the right side of the shell 102. Typically, the chin strap is attached at a location in front of the ears of the wearer when in use. It is to be appreciated that a two point attachment may be implemented. The choice of which strap to use will depend on the particulars of the design and the type of protection the shell 102 is designed to provide.
  • [0055]
    In the illustrated embodiments, the shell 102 comprises a beanie of the head hugging form fitting type. This type of shell is soft-sided meaning that there is very little if any at all rigid or semi-rigid support members incorporated into the shell 102 itself and that the shell 102, absent the panels 110, may generally conform to the shape of a wearer's head, if not immediately upon donning the shell 102, over time.
  • [0056]
    , Differences in the shell 102 compared to prior art headgear are confined largely to the interior portions of the headgear. The shell 102 may include an inside liner segmented into pockets as described above. In other embodiments separate and distinct pocket modules may be sewn or otherwise attached to the interior surface of a single layer fabric shell or they may be secured to a continuous liner. In another embodiment, the liner may comprise a loop fabric substitute that extends over all or select portions of the shell's interior surface. The corresponding rigid panels can have hoop material secured to the outside surface of the rigid portion such that the panels can be affixed to the liner at wearer desired or predetermined locations. In yet another embodiment, the rigid panels may not be removable from the shell. Rather, they may be permanently attached to the shell by way of an adhesive, closed pockets, sewing or mechanical fasteners, such as rivets.
  • [0057]
    Referring to FIGS. 2A-2B, a detailed diagram of a panel 200 is shown. FIG. 2A is a top view of the panel 200 and FIG. 2B is a side view of the panel 200. The panel 200 may be one embodiment of a panel such as one of the plurality of panels 110 that may be implemented in the shell 102 shown in FIG. 1 A. The panel 200 may be used to provide protection for the head of a wearer.
  • [0058]
    FIG. 2A shows a top view of the panel 200. As shown, the panel 200 may have a predominately rectangular shape. The size of the panel 200 may be altered depending on a use of the panel 200. It is also to be appreciated that the panel 200 may be sized based on the size of a wearer's head. For instance, the shell 102 may be custom fitted to an individual wearer based on the size of the rectangular panel 200. In one example, the panel 200 may be two and a half inches long by one and a quarter inch wide. It is to be appreciated that varying sizes of the panel 200 may be implemented. For instance, a smaller rectangular panel may be used around the crown of a wearer's head and a larger rectangular shell may be used around the back and sides of the wearer's head.
  • [0059]
    The panel 200 may include a slot 202. In a preferred embodiment the panel 200 may have three slots. The slots 202 may reduce weight and provide ventilation. The size and number of slots 202 may be altered based on an intended use of the shell. It is noted that a variety of number of slots and slot sizes may be implemented. The number of slots may coordinate with the size of the slots. For instance, a small number of large slots or a large number of small slots may be implemented.
  • [0060]
    FIG. 2B is a side view of the panel 200. Generally, the panel 200 may comprise an outer or top portion 204 and an inner or bottom portion 206. In one embodiment, the outer portion 204 and the inner portion 206 may comprise different materials. For example, the outer portion may be a rigid outer layer that is about an eighth of an inch thick and the inner portion 206 may be an elastomeric inner layer that is about three sixteenths of an inch thick. It is to be appreciated that varying thicknesses of the outer portion 204 and inner portion 206 are contemplated.
  • [0061]
    As shown in FIG. 2B, the panel 200 may be curved to match the curvature of a head on which the shell 102 is to be worn. It is to be appreciated that different curvatures may be used depending on the needs of a wearer.
  • [0062]
    In fabrication, the outer portion 204 and inner portion 206 may be made and joined in any suitable manner. In one variation, the rigid panel portion 204 may be injection molded. An overmolding process may be used to join the elastomeric layer 206 to the rigid layer 204. In other variations, the two pieces may be adhesively joined or fused together. As can be appreciated, the sizes, thicknesses, materials and configuration of the panel 200 may vary.
  • [0063]
    The overmolding process involves the use of two separate materials to form one cohesive end product. One type of overmolding is insert overmolding. Insert overmolding involves an injection molding process where one material, usually an elastomeric, is molded “over” a secondary substrate material, usually a rigid plastic. In one embodiment of the panel 200, the inner portion 206 may be molded over the outer portion 204.
  • [0064]
    The outer portion 204 may be comprised of a rigid polymeric material, such as nylon, that may or may not be reinforced, such as with Kevlar, carbon or glass fibers. In other variations, the rigid portion 204 may comprise a continuous fiber composite material wherein the fibers are made of one or a combination of spectra, Kevlar, carbon or glass fibers or equivalents thereof in a suitable matrix material, such as epoxy. In yet other variations, the rigid portion 204 may comprise a metallic material, such as an aluminum or magnesium alloy. As can be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art, the type and strength of the rigid portion 204 will greatly affect the puncture resistance of the panel as well as the panel's ability to transfer impact or ballistic loads over the area of the panel.
  • [0065]
    The inner portion 206 may be comprised of a soft, resilient or compressible material. Generally, the inner portion 206 may be configured to perform one or more functions including, but not limited to, providing impact energy absorption, making the shell 102 more comfortable, and/or acting as an interface between the hard and rigid portion of the panel and the head of the wearer. In one embodiment, the inner portion 206 may comprise an energy absorbing material, such as expanded polystyrene, that compresses upon impact dissipating, at least partially, the energy of the impact transferred to a wearer's head.
  • [0066]
    In other embodiments, the inner portion 206 may comprise compressible and resilient open or closed cell foam that acts primarily to provide the wearer comfort. Implementing foam may also ensure a more uniform fit of the shell 102. A polymeric gel material may also be used to facilitate greater comfort while also providing some impact energy absorption and dissipation properties. Numerous other materials may be used to form the inner portion 206 aside from those listed as would be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art given the benefit of this disclosure.
  • [0067]
    Referring to FIGS. 3A-3B, a detailed diagram of a panel 300 is shown. FIG. 3A is a top view of the panel 300 and FIG. 3B is a side view of the panel 300. The panel 300 may be one embodiment of a panel such as one of the plurality of panels 110 that may be implemented in the shell 102 shown in FIG. 1A.
  • [0068]
    As shown, the panel 300 may have a predominately triangular shape. The size of the triangular panel 300 may be altered depending on a use of the panel 300. It is to be appreciated that the panel 300 may be sized based on the size of a wearer's head. The shell 102 may be custom fitted to an individual wearer based on the size of the triangular panel 300. In one example, the panel 300 may be three and three fourths of an inch by three and one thirty seconds of an inch. It is to be appreciated that varying sizes of the panel 300 may be implemented. For instance, a smaller triangular panel may be used around the crown of a wearer's head and a larger triangular shell may be used around the back and sides of the wearer's head.
  • [0069]
    The panel 300 may include a slot 302 similar to the panel 200. As shown, in a preferred embodiment the panel 300 may have three slots. The slots 302 may reduce weight and provide ventilation. The size and number of slots 302 may be altered based on an intended use of the shell. It is noted that a variety of number of slots and slot sizes may be implemented.
  • [0070]
    FIG. 3B is a side view of the panel 300. As shown in FIG. 3B, the panel 300 may be curved to match the curvature of a head on which the shell is to be worn. It is appreciated that different curvatures may be used depending on the needs of a wearer.
  • [0071]
    The manufacture of the panel 300 may be similar to the manufacture of the panel 200. The panel 300 may comprise an outer portion 304 and an inner portion 306. The outer portion 304 may be a rigid material and the inner portion 306 may be a compressible or energy absorbing material as previously described.
  • [0072]
    A Second Embodiment of a Soft Helmet Having Protective Panels Attached Thereto
  • [0073]
    FIG. 4 is a diagram of an embodiment 400 showing a soft helmet 402. The embodiment 400 is a second embodiment of a soft helmet for use in recreational activities. As shown, the soft helmet 402 may appear to be a normal beanie cap. The soft helmet 402 may also appear to be a baseball cap, as is shown in FIG. 5.
  • [0074]
    The beanie 402 generally comprises an outer layer 404 and an inner layer 406. The outer layer 404 and inner layer 406 may be comprised of different materials. For example, the outer layer 404 may be made of a fire resistant fabric while the inner layer 406 is made of an elastic fabric. In one instance, the outer layer 404 and inner layer 406 may be comprised of the same material, such as a knit fabric. It is to be appreciated that several different types of fabrics and combinations of fabrics may be implemented in the embodiment 400 of the present invention.
  • [0075]
    The inner layer 406 of the beanie 402 may be segmented into a plurality of pockets 408. FIG. 4 shows one example of the general placement of the pockets 408 in the beanie 402. The actual placement'of the pockets 408 may vary significantly depending on the particular design of an embodiment and on which recreational activity the beanie 402 is intended to be used for. Generally, the pockets 408 are placed to cover a majority of the beanie 402 and a wearer's head.
  • [0076]
    To provide protection, the beanie 402 may implement a plurality of panels 410. The panels 410 may be similar in design and shape to the panels described previously in reference to FIGS. 1-3B. The panels 410 may be configured to fit within the pockets 408. It is to be appreciated that a variety of means for securing the panels 410 within the pockets 408 may be implemented. For example, a hook and loop closure may be used. In another example, snap fasteners may be used to secure the panels 410 in the pockets 408.
  • [0077]
    Each of the panels 410 may comprise an outer portion and an inner portion. The outer portion may be a hard or rigid top portion/layer and the inner portion may be a soft or compressible bottom portion/layer.
  • [0078]
    The outer portion may be comprised of a rigid polymeric material, such as nylon, that may or may not be reinforced, such as with Kevlar, carbon or glass fibers. In other variations, the rigid portion may comprise a continuous fiber composite material wherein the fibers are made of one or a combination of spectra, Kevlar, carbon or glass fibers or equivalents thereof in a suitable matrix material, such as epoxy. In yet other variations, the rigid portion may comprise a metallic material, such as an aluminum or magnesium alloy. As can be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art, the type and strength of the rigid portion may greatly affect the puncture resistance of the panel as well as the ability of the panel to transfer impact or ballistic loads over the area of the panel.
  • [0079]
    The inner portion of the panels 410 may be comprised of a soft, resilient or compressible material. The inner portion may be configured to provide impact energy absorption, make the beanie 402 more comfortable, and act as an interface between the rigid portion of the panel and the head of a wearer. The inner portion may comprise an energy absorbing material, such as expanded polystyrene, that compresses upon impact dissipating at least partially the energy of the impact transferred to a wearer's head. In other embodiments, the inner portion may comprise compressible and resilient open or closed cell foam that acts primarily to provide the wearer comfort as well as ensure a more uniform fit of the beanie 402. A polymeric gel material may also be used to facilitate greater comfort while also providing some impact energy absorption and dissipation properties. Numerous other materials may be used to form the inner portion aside from those listed as would be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art given the benefit of this disclosure.
  • [0080]
    As can be appreciated, the shape of the panels 410 may largely be dictated by where on the beanie 402 the panel is to reside. As shown in FIG. 4,.one or more of the panels 410 may have a rectangular shape and another one or more of the panels 410 may have a triangular shape. It is to be appreciated that other shapes for the panels may be implemented. For instance, a clover shaped panel may be placed near the crown of the beanie 402. In another instance, a circular shaped panel may be used near the crown of the beanie 402. In one embodiment, the shell 402 may have six pockets configured to receive triangular shaped panels and sixteen pockets configured to receive rectangular panels.
  • [0081]
    The beanie 402 may also incorporate a chin strap 412. Generally, the strap 412 may be a chin strap. The chin strap 412 may comprise an attachment section 414 and an elastic section 416. In one embodiment, the attachment section 414 and elastic section 416 may comprise the same material. In another embodiment, the attachment section 414 and the elastic section 416 may comprise different materials. For example, the attachment section 414 may comprise a nylon webbing and the elastic section 416 may comprise spandex.
  • [0082]
    Typically, the chin strap 412 may be thin enough to be tucked under the beanie 402 between the wearer's head and the inside surface 406 of the beanie 402 when not in use. The chin strap 412 is provided primarily for use when undertaking a recreational activity wherein an impact could dislodge the headgear from the wearer. The chin strap 412 may act to help hold the beanie 402 in place during an impact event.
  • [0083]
    The attachment section 414 of the chin strap 412, as illustrated, may comprise two attachment points on each side of the beanie 402. In this embodiment, the chin strap 412 may attach in front of the ear and behind the ear on each side of the beanie 402. This type of strap attachment may be more secure than a single strap attachment, but may add more bulk underneath the cap when the strap is stowed and not in use.
  • [0084]
    The chin strap 412 may also be implemented with single point of attachment on each side of the beanie 402. In one instance, the point of attachment may be located behind the ear. In another instance, the point of attachment may be located in front of the or on top of the ear. It is to be appreciated that the location of the point of attachment may be altered depending on the use of the beanie 402. The choice of which strap to use will depend on the particulars of the design and the type of protection the cap is designed to provide.
  • [0085]
    The elastic section 416 may expand and contract to securely fit around the chin of a user. The elastic section 416 may be in place of other means to adjust the length of a chin strap or in addition to other means, such as buckles.
  • [0086]
    In one embodiment, the chin strap 412 may comprise two separate sections. The chin strap 412 may have a left strap and a right strap. The left strap and the right strap may be configured to be connected. No specific type of latch mechanism to join the left and right chin straps together is specified. It is to be appreciated that any suitable latching system may be employed. Because the strap in certain embodiment can be stowed in the headgear when not in use, a relatively thin attachment mechanism is desirable to both increase wearer comfort when the mechanism is stowed as well as limit its effect on the visual aesthetics of the headgear. In at least one embodiment, the chin strap attachment mechanism may simply comprise corresponding sections of hook and loop material as illustrated in FIG. 9C.
  • [0087]
    In one embodiment, the strap 412 may comprise a webbing material that is attached to the beanie 402 approximately one inch or so above the bottom rim thereof. As shown, the strap 412 may be sewn in place, but the strap 412 may also be connected to the beanie 402 by other suitable means. Such means may include rivets or other mechanical fasteners. In another embodiment, the strap 412 may be secured to a corresponding rigid panel, which may be stored in a pocket of the beanie 402.
  • [0088]
    One of the aforementioned key features of the strap 412 is the ability to tuck the strap into the headgear. The strap 412 may then not be visible or exposed when the strap 412 is not needed. Connective means may be provided at the top of the beanie 402 to secure the strap 412 in a stowed position. In one embodiment, the strap 412 may comprise a hook and loop to secure the strap 412 in place. In other embodiments, varying securing mechanisms are contemplated as well.
  • [0089]
    FIG. 5 is a diagram of an embodiment 500 showing a soft helmet 502. As shown, the soft helmet 502 may appear to look like a baseball cap. The baseball cap 502 may have a similar internal design as the beanie 402 previously disclosed. The baseball cap 502 may include a brim 504. Brims of the baseball cap variety are typically reinforced with a cardboard or thin plastic sheet that provides rigidity thereto.
  • [0090]
    The baseball cap 502 may be made of a fabric material that is flexible and resilient. As can be appreciated, the construction of the baseball cap 502, at least as it relates to its outward appearance, is similar to corresponding prior art baseball caps that do not include rigid reinforcement panels.
  • [0091]
    The baseball cap 502 may have a plurality of pockets 506 configured to receive a plurality of protective panels 508. The protective panels 508 may be configured similar to the plurality of panels 110 and plurality of panels 410 previously discussed. The baseball cap 502 may provide similar protection as the beanie 402, albeit with a different look.
  • [0092]
    FIGS. 6A and 6B show an embodiment 600 with one possible configuration of a plurality of panels. For sake of illustration, the plurality of panels are shown without a fabric headgear or shell. FIG. 6A is a front view of the configuration of panels and FIG. 6B is a side view of the configuration.
  • [0093]
    As illustrated in FIGS. 6A and 6B, a set of generally arcuate triangular panels cover the top of the head and a series of arcuate rectangular panels encircle the forehead, sides and back of the head above the ears. The panels may be made with a rigid top portion and an energy absorbing bottom portion. A total of 12 panels are utilized, although similar variations with a different number of panels are contemplated.
  • [0094]
    FIGS. 7A-7C show an embodiment 700 with another possible configuration of a plurality of panels. For sake of illustration, the plurality of panels are shown without a fabric headgear or shell. FIGS. 7A-7C show a front, side, and back view, respectively, of the configuration of panels on a wearer's head.
  • [0095]
    As illustrated in FIGS. 7A-7C, a set of about 22 panels are implemented including a large plurality of rectangular panels that extend from the forehead over the top of the head to the nape of the neck, several generally triangular portions to protect the side of the head above the ears, and several generally rectangular pieces below the triangular pieces on the back side of the head.
  • [0096]
    It is to be appreciated and understood that a variety of different configurations may be implemented in the present invention. The number and placement of panels may depend on various factors including, but not limited to, the amount of protection needed, the recreational activity a wearer is participating in, and/or the size of a wearer's head.
  • [0097]
    FIGS. 8A-8B illustrate an embodiment 800 of a soft helmet 802 with a chin strap 804. The chin strap 804 is shown deployed in FIG. 8A. In FIG. 8B, the chin strap 804 is shown tucked inside the soft helmet 802. The chin strap 804 may be attached to the interior of the headgear 802 by a variety of means. For instance, the headgear 802 and the chin strap 804 may implement a hook and loop closure 806. In another instance, the headgear 802 and the chin strap 804 may implement a fastener. It is to be appreciated that a variety of means for securing the chin strap 804 to the soft helmet 802 may be implemented.
  • [0098]
    FIGS. 9A-9F illustrate an embodiment 900 with varying types of chin straps that may be implemented with the present invention.
  • [0099]
    FIG. 9A is a side view of a soft helmet with a quick release chin strap. Further, as shown in FIG. 9A, in some embodiments the chin strap may have two attachment points to the soft helmet. This type of chin strap may be utilized for extreme recreational activities, such as motorcycling and rock climbing.
  • [0100]
    FIG. 9B is a side view of a soft helmet with a quick release chin strap that has one attachment point. This type of chin strap may be utilized while participating in medium recreational activities. For instance, a bike rider or rollerblader may be inclined to us this type of chin strap.
  • [0101]
    FIG. 9C is a front view of a soft helmet with a hook and loop chin strap. FIG. 9D is a front view of a soft helmet with a chin strap that has a means for tightening the chin strap. As shown, the chin strap is attached to the interior of the soft helmet.
  • [0102]
    FIG. 9E is a front view of a soft helmet with a belt buckle chin strap. FIG. 9F is a front view of a soft helmet with an adjustable chin strap. It is to be appreciated that each of the aforementioned chin straps may have one or two attachment points.
  • [0103]
    Ultimately, it is appreciated that the design of the shell 102 and beanie 402 can vary dramatically in terms of construction and construction materials. Further, although the styles of headgear primarily discussed herein are caps and beanies, the soft helmet can be of any suitable style. Further, the use of a liner to form pockets or otherwise facilitate the attachment of the rigid panels can vary wherein some designs dispense with a liner altogether by providing a means to attach the panels directly to a first or outer layer of the shell. The outer layer of the shell 102 and the beanie 402 as primarily discussed above comprises fabric, but other embodiments can comprise flexible resilient sheet material that is not a fabric, such as a durable paper product or thin elastomeric polymeric sheet. Several means of attaching the rigid panels are indicated above but the disclosure should not be considered limited to just the proffered types of attachments. Other means are contemplated as well including, but not limited to, pockets on the exterior surface of the headgear and clips or snaps on the inside of the shell to secure the panels.
  • Alternative Embodiments and Variations
  • [0104]
    The various embodiments and variations thereof, illustrated in the accompanying Figures and/or described above, are merely exemplary and are not meant to limit the scope of the invention. It is to be appreciated that numerous other variations of the invention have been contemplated, as would be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art, given the benefit of this disclosure. All variations of the invention that read upon appended claims are intended and contemplated to be within the scope of the invention.

Claims (40)

    I claim:
  1. 1. A soft helmet for wear under a hat, said soft helmet comprising:
    a fabric shell, said fabric shell having an interior layer and an exterior layer;
    a plurality of pockets segmented in said interior layer of said fabric shell; and
    a plurality of inserts configured to fit in said plurality of pockets, said plurality of inserts having a first layer and a second layer, said first layer being a compressible material and said second layer being a rigid material.
  2. 2. The soft helmet of claim 1, at least one of said plurality of inserts having an arcuate triangular shape.
  3. 3. The soft helmet of claim 1, at least one of said plurality of inserts having an arcuate rectangular shape.
  4. 4. The soft helmet of claim 3, another one of said plurality of inserts having an arcuate triangular shape.
  5. 5. The soft helmet of claim 1, said first layer being mechanically coupled to said second layer.
  6. 6. The soft helmet of claim 1, said second layer being molded over said first layer.
  7. 7. The soft helmet of claim 1, said interior layer and said exterior layer of said fabric shell is spandex.
  8. 8. The soft helmet of claim 1, said compressible material being an energy absorbing foam.
  9. 9. The soft helmet of claim 8, said energy absorbing foam is expanded polystyrene.
  10. 10. The soft helmet of claim 1, said rigid material being a nylon resin.
  11. 11. The soft helmet of claim 10, said nylon resin being reinforced with aramid fibers.
  12. 12. The soft helmet of claim 1, said plurality of inserts being removable from said plurality of pockets.
  13. 13. The soft helmet of claim 1 further comprising:
    a chin strap coupled to said fabric shell.
  14. 14. A soft helmet for use while participating in recreational activities, said soft helmet comprising:
    a hat, said hat having an interior layer and an exterior layer;
    a chin strap coupled to said hat;
    a plurality of pockets segmented in said interior layer of said hat; and
    a plurality of inserts configured to fit in said plurality of pockets, said plurality of inserts having a first layer and a second layer, said first layer being an elastomeric material and said second layer being a rigid material.
  15. 15. The soft helmet of claim 14, said chin strap being configured to be stored in said interior layer of said hat.
  16. 16. The soft helmet of claim 14, said exterior layer of said hat being a baseball cap.
  17. 17. The soft helmet of claim 14, said exterior layer of said hat being a beanie.
  18. 18. The soft helmet of claim 14, said elastomeric material is expanded styrene.
  19. 19. The soft helmet of claim 14, said rigid material is a nylon resin reinforced with aramid fibers.
  20. 20. The soft helmet of claim 14, said plurality of inserts being removable from said plurality of pockets.
  21. 21. The soft helmet of claim 14, at least one of said plurality of inserts having an arcuate rectangular shape.
  22. 22. The soft helmet of claim 21, another one of said plurality of inserts having an arcuate triangular shape.
  23. 23. The soft helmet of claim 14, said chin strap comprising:
    a left strap having a first end and a second end, said first end of said left strap being attached to said hat;
    a right strap having a first end and a second end, said first end of said right strap being attached to said hat, said second end of said left strap being removably attached to said second end of said right strap.
  24. 24. The soft helmet of claim 23, said second end of said right strap and said second end of said left strap forming a hook and loop closure.
  25. 25. The soft helmet of claim 23, said second end of said right strap and said second end of said left strap having a quick release closure.
  26. 26. The soft helmet of claim 23, said second end of said right strap and said second end of said left strap having a belt buckle closure.
  27. 27. The soft helmet of claim 23, said first end of said left strap and said first end of said right strap each having two attachment points to said hat.
  28. 28. The soft helmet of claim 14, said chin strap being adjustable in length.
  29. 29. The soft helmet of claim 14, said external layer of said hat being fire retardant.
  30. 30. A soft helmet comprising:
    a hat, said hat having an interior layer that is spandex and an exterior layer that is knit fabric;
    a nylon chin strap attached to said hat, said chin strap having an elastic portion;
    a plurality of pockets segmented in said interior layer of said hat; and
    a plurality of inserts configured to fit in said plurality of pockets, said plurality of inserts having a first layer that comprises expanded polystyrene and a second layer that comprises nylon resin, at least one of said plurality of inserts having an arcuate triangular shape and at least one of said plurality of inserts having an arcuate rectangular shape.
  31. 31. A soft helmet comprising:
    a spandex shell configured to be worn under a hat;
    a nylon chin strap attached to said spandex shell, said chin strap having an elastic section;
    a plurality of pockets segmented in an interior of said spandex shell; and
    a plurality of inserts configured to fit in said plurality of pockets, said plurality of inserts having a first layer and a second layer, said first layer and said second layer having different hardnesses.
  32. 32. The soft helmet of claim 31, said first layer being rigid and said second layer being semi-rigid.
  33. 33. The soft helmet of claim 31, said nylon chin strap being configured to be stored in said interior of said spandex shell.
  34. 34. A soft helmet comprising:
    a shell having an interior layer and an exterior layer, said interior layer being spandex and said exterior layer being a knit fabric; a nylon chin strap attached to said shell, said chin strap having an elastic section;
    a plurality of pockets segmented in said interior of said shell, each of said plurality of pockets having an open end that folds over proximate said open end to form an enclosure; and
    a plurality of inserts configured to (i) fit in said open end of said plurality of pockets and (ii) be secured by said enclosure, two or more of said plurality of inserts having a substantially rectangular shape and two or more of said plurality of inserts having a substantially triangular shape, each of said plurality of inserts having a first layer comprising a rigid material and a second layer comprising an elastomeric material.
  35. 35. The soft helmet of claim 34, said second layer being molded over said first layer.
  36. 36. The soft helmet of claim 34, said knit fabric is fire retardant.
  37. 37. A soft helmet comprising:
    a shell having an interior layer and an exterior layer, said interior layer being spandex and said exterior layer being a knit fabric;
    a nylon chin strap attached to said shell, said chin strap having an elastic section; and
    a plurality of pockets segmented in said interior of said shell, at least six of said plurality of pockets configured to receive a triangular insert and at least fifteen of said plurality of pockets configured to receive a rectangular insert, each of said inserts comprising:
    a first layer comprising a rigid material; and
    a second layer comprising an elastomeric material.
  38. 38. The soft helmet of claim 37, said second layer being molded over said first layer.
  39. 39. The soft helmet of claim 38, said rigid material is an eighth of an inch thick.
  40. 40. The soft helmet of claim 39, said elastomeric material is three sixteenths of an inch thick.
US13820060 2011-08-29 2012-08-28 Soft helmet incorporating rigid panels Abandoned US20140007324A1 (en)

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US201161528473 true 2011-08-29 2011-08-29
US201161578184 true 2011-12-20 2011-12-20
PCT/US2012/052634 WO2013033078A1 (en) 2011-08-29 2012-08-28 Soft helmet implementing rigid panels
US13820060 US20140007324A1 (en) 2011-08-29 2012-08-28 Soft helmet incorporating rigid panels

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US20140310857A1 (en) * 2013-03-22 2014-10-23 Joseph Lastik Helmet with fire resistant safety shock absorbent chinstrap and a fire resistant safety shock absorbent chinstrap
US20140331393A1 (en) * 2013-05-09 2014-11-13 Joe DaSilva Wrestling headgear
US20150272256A1 (en) * 2014-03-27 2015-10-01 Matthew Joseph Meier Protective Head Guard Insert
US20160295947A1 (en) * 2014-04-29 2016-10-13 Julie Pusateri Device for providing protection against minor head injury and for stabilizing a hat
WO2017015040A1 (en) * 2015-07-17 2017-01-26 Matscitechno Licensing Company Protective headgear systems
US20170181491A1 (en) * 2015-12-23 2017-06-29 The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The Navy Mask coupling apparatus

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US20140310857A1 (en) * 2013-03-22 2014-10-23 Joseph Lastik Helmet with fire resistant safety shock absorbent chinstrap and a fire resistant safety shock absorbent chinstrap
US20140331393A1 (en) * 2013-05-09 2014-11-13 Joe DaSilva Wrestling headgear
US20150272256A1 (en) * 2014-03-27 2015-10-01 Matthew Joseph Meier Protective Head Guard Insert
US20160295947A1 (en) * 2014-04-29 2016-10-13 Julie Pusateri Device for providing protection against minor head injury and for stabilizing a hat
WO2017015040A1 (en) * 2015-07-17 2017-01-26 Matscitechno Licensing Company Protective headgear systems
US20170181491A1 (en) * 2015-12-23 2017-06-29 The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The Navy Mask coupling apparatus
US9826793B2 (en) * 2015-12-23 2017-11-28 The United States Of America As Represented By The Secretary Of The Navy Mask coupling apparatus

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