Búsqueda Imágenes Maps Play YouTube Noticias Gmail Drive Más »
Iniciar sesión
Usuarios de lectores de pantalla: deben hacer clic en este enlace para utilizar el modo de accesibilidad. Este modo tiene las mismas funciones esenciales pero funciona mejor con el lector.

Patentes

  1. Búsqueda avanzada de patentes
Número de publicaciónUS20060076860 A1
Tipo de publicaciónSolicitud
Número de solicitudUS 11/288,566
Fecha de publicación13 Abr 2006
Fecha de presentación29 Nov 2005
Fecha de prioridad14 Abr 2004
Número de publicación11288566, 288566, US 2006/0076860 A1, US 2006/076860 A1, US 20060076860 A1, US 20060076860A1, US 2006076860 A1, US 2006076860A1, US-A1-20060076860, US-A1-2006076860, US2006/0076860A1, US2006/076860A1, US20060076860 A1, US20060076860A1, US2006076860 A1, US2006076860A1
InventoresDaniel Hoss
Cesionario originalDaniel Hoss
Exportar citaBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Enlaces externos: USPTO, Cesión de USPTO, Espacenet
Device and method for covering and exposing an object
US 20060076860 A1
Resumen
A device for covering and exposing an object, such as a flat panel display device, can include a support structure movably attached to a display surface adjacent the object displayed on the display surface. A cover is attached to the support structure. The device includes a means for moving the support structure and cover for selectively covering and exposing the object. The means for moving the support structure and cover may be manually or electronically controlled, either directly or by remote control.
Imágenes(17)
Previous page
Next page
Reclamaciones(75)
1. A device, comprising:
a support structure movably attached to a display surface adjacent an object displayed on the display surface;
a cover attached to the support structure; and
a means for moving the support structure and cover for selectively covering and exposing the object.
2. The device of claim 1, wherein the support structure comprises a U-shaped holder having a base leg having a back side facing toward the display surface, a carrier leg having a front side facing away from the display surface, and a connector leg extending between and connecting the base leg and the carrier leg, wherein the back side of the base leg is movably attached to the display surface and the cover is movably attached to the front side of the carrier leg.
3. The device of claim 2, wherein the base leg is movably supported on the display surface by connector elements and the cover is movably supported on the carrier leg by connector elements.
4. The device of claim 3, wherein the connector elements comprise rollers or a slide rail.
5. The device of claim 2, wherein the holder further comprises a first hinge between the base leg and the connector leg and a second hinge between the connector leg and the carrier leg, wherein each hinge is rotatable to a desired angle.
6. The device of claim 5, wherein the hinges are controllable by an electric motor and wherein the angle of rotation of each hinge is limited by mechanical or photoelectric limit switches.
7. The device of claim 1, wherein the device comprises at least two movable support structures, further comprising a connector between the at least two movable support structures.
8. The device of claim 1, wherein the support structure comprises:
an inner frame having a guide element along each side of the inner frame;
an outer frame having a guide element along each side of the outer frame, each outer frame guide element movably engagable with one of the inner frame guide elements, wherein the cover is attached to the outer frame; and
an electric motor attached to the inner frame and adapted to move the outer frame and cover relative to the inner frame.
9. The device of claim 8, wherein the electric motor comprises a toothed gear, the outer frame guide element adjacent the toothed gear comprises a toothed rack engaged with the toothed gear, and movement of the outer frame relative to the inner frame is effected by movement of the toothed rack by the electric motor and toothed gear.
10. The device of claim 8, further comprising a cable attached to the electric motor and to the outer frame, wherein the cable is windable and unwindable by the electric motor and wherein movement of the outer frame relative to the inner frame is effected by winding and unwinding the cable by the electric motor.
11. The device of claim 1, wherein the cover comprises a piece of furniture, the object comprises a flat panel display device, and the flat panel display device is movable out of and into the furniture.
12. The device of claim 11, wherein the flat panel display device is movable out of and into the furniture by means of rotating a threaded rod operably connected to the flat panel display device.
13. The device of claim 11, wherein the flat panel display device is movable out of and into the furniture by a telescopic means.
14. The device of claim 11, wherein, when moved out of the furniture, the flat panel display device is rotatable and inclinable to provide an optimal viewing angle.
15. The device of claim 11, wherein movement of the flat panel display device out of the furniture is automatically actuated by switching on the flat panel display device and moving the flat panel display device into the furniture is automatically actuated by switching off the flat panel display device.
16. The device of claim 1, wherein the display surface comprises a wall.
17. The device of claim 1, wherein the object is recessed into the display surface.
18. The device of claim 1, wherein the object comprises a flat panel display device, a picture, or an air conditioning system component.
19. The device of claim 1, wherein the cover is removably attached to the support structure.
20. The device of claim 1, wherein the cover comprises a rigid material.
21. The device of claim 1, wherein the cover comprises a picture.
22. The device of claim 1, wherein the object comprises a first picture and the cover comprises a second picture such that the second picture is movable to selectively cover and expose the first picture.
23. The device of claim 1, wherein the cover is movable in a plurality of directions relative to the object.
24. The device of claim 1, wherein the support structure is integrated with the object.
25. The device of claim 1, wherein the support structure is removably attached to the object.
26. The device of claim 1, wherein the means for moving the support structure and cover is manually operable.
27. The device of claim 1, wherein the means for moving the support structure and cover comprises an electric motor.
28. The device of claim 1, wherein the means for moving the support structure and cover further comprises a rope or cable windable and unwindable by the electric motor.
29. The device of claim 1, wherein the means for moving the support structure and cover is operable by a remote control device.
30. The device of claim 1, wherein the means for moving the support structure and cover comprises hydraulic means.
31. A device, comprising:
an inner frame attached to a wall adjacent an object displayed on the wall and having a guide element along each side of the inner frame;
an outer frame having a guide element on each side of the outer frame, each outer frame guide element movably engagable with one of the inner frame guide elements;
a rigid cover attached to the outer frame; and
an electric motor attached to the inner frame and adapted to move the outer frame and cover relative to the inner frame to selectively cover and expose the object.
32. The device of claim 31, wherein the electric motor comprises a toothed gear, the outer frame guide element adjacent the toothed gear comprises a toothed rack engaged with the toothed gear, and movement of the outer frame relative to the inner frame is effected by movement of the toothed rack by the electric motor and toothed gear.
33. The device of claim 31, further comprising a cable attached to the electric motor and to the outer frame, wherein the cable is windable and unwindable by the electric motor and wherein movement of the outer frame relative to the inner frame is effected by winding and unwinding the cable by the electric motor.
34. The device of claim 31, wherein the object is recessed into the wall.
35. The device of claim 31, wherein the cover is removably attached to the outer frame.
36. The device of claim 31, wherein the object comprises a flat panel display device, a picture, or an air conditioning system component.
37. The device of claim 31, wherein the cover comprises a picture.
38. The device of claim 31, wherein the object comprises a first picture and the cover comprises a second picture such that the second picture is movable to selectively cover and expose the first picture.
39. The device of claim 31, wherein the electric motor is operable by a remote control device.
40. The device of claim 1, wherein the support structure comprises a rail carriage attached to the display surface, a rail movably engaged with the rail carriage, and a threaded rod attached to the rail and operably engaged with the rail carriage, and wherein the cover is attached to and movable with the rail.
41. The device of claim 40, wherein the means for moving the support structure and cover comprises an electric motor connected to the threaded rod for moving the threaded rod, the rail, and the cover relative to the rail carriage.
42. The device of claim 40, wherein the rail carriage further comprises a rod guide channel for guiding movement of the threaded rod relative to the rail carriage and a rail guide channel for guiding movement of the rail relative to the rail carriage.
43. The device of claim 40, wherein the cover is removably attached to the rail.
44. The device of claim 41, wherein the means for moving the support structure and cover is operable by a remote control device.
45. The device of claim 40, wherein the object comprises a flat panel display device, a picture, or an air conditioning system component.
46. The device of claim 1, wherein the support structure comprises a rail carriage attached to the display surface, a rail movably engaged with the rail carriage, and a notched belt operably engaged with the rail and with the rail carriage, and wherein the cover is attached to and movable with the rail.
47. The device of claim 46, wherein the means for moving the support structure and cover comprises an electric motor connected to the notched belt for moving the notched belt, the rail, and the cover relative to the rail carriage.
48. The device of claim 46, wherein the rail carriage further comprises a belt guide channel for guiding movement of the notched belt relative to the rail carriage and a rail guide channel for guiding movement of the rail relative to the rail carriage.
49. The device of claim 46, wherein the cover is removably attached to the rail.
50. The device of claim 47, wherein the means for moving the support structure and cover is operable by a remote control device.
51. The device of claim 46, wherein the object comprises a flat panel display device, a picture, or an air conditioning system component.
52. A method for selectively covering and exposing an object displayed on a display surface, comprising:
attaching a support structure to the display surface adjacent the object, the support structure movable relative to the display surface;
attaching a cover to the support structure; and
moving the support structure and cover to selectively cover and expose the object.
53. The method of claim 52, wherein the support structure comprises a U-shaped holder having a base leg movably attached to the display surface, a carrier leg for movably attaching the cover, and a connector leg extending between and connecting the base leg and the carrier leg.
54. The method of claim 52, wherein the support structure comprises:
an inner frame having a guide element along each side of the inner frame;
an outer frame having a guide element along each side of the outer frame, each outer frame guide element movably engagable with one of the inner frame guide elements, wherein the cover is attached to the outer frame; and
an electric motor attached to the inner frame and adapted to move the outer frame and cover relative to the inner frame.
55. The method of claim 52, wherein the display surface comprises a wall.
56. The method of claim 52, wherein the object is recessed into the display surface.
57. The method of claim 52, wherein the object comprises a flat panel display device, a picture, or an air conditioning system component.
58. The method of claim 52, wherein attaching a cover to the support structure comprises removably attaching the cover to the support structure.
59. The method of claim 52, wherein the cover comprises a rigid material.
60. The method of claim 52, wherein the cover comprises a picture.
61. The method of claim 52, wherein the object comprises a first picture and the cover comprises a second picture, and wherein moving the support structure and cover comprises moving the second picture to selectively cover and expose the first picture.
62. The method of claim 52, wherein moving the support structure and cover comprises moving the support structure and cover in a plurality of directions relative to the object.
63. The method of claim 52, wherein moving the support structure and cover comprises manually moving the support structure and cover.
64. The method of claim 52, wherein moving the support structure and cover comprises moving the support structure and cover by means of an electric motor.
65. The method of claim 52, wherein moving the support structure and cover comprises moving the support structure and cover by means of a remote control device.
66. A method, comprising:
providing a rail carriage attached to a display surface adjacent an object, a rail movably engaged with the rail carriage, and a threaded rod attached to the rail and operably engaged with the rail carriage;
attaching a cover to the rail; and
moving the threaded rod, the rail, and the cover relative to the rail carriage to selectively cover and expose the object.
67. The method of claim 66, wherein moving the threaded rod, the rail, and the cover comprises moving the threaded rod, the rail, and the cover by means of an electric motor connected to the threaded rod.
68. The method of claim 67, wherein moving the threaded rod, the rail, and the cover comprises moving the threaded rod, the rail, and the cover by means of a remote control device.
69. The method of claim 66, wherein attaching the cover to the rail comprises removably attaching the cover to the rail.
70. The method of claim 66, wherein the object comprises a flat panel display device, a picture, or an air conditioning system component.
71. A method, comprising:
providing a rail carriage attached to a display surface adjacent an object, a rail movably engaged with the rail carriage, and a notched belt operably engaged with the rail and with the rail carriage;
attaching a cover to the rail; and
moving the notched belt, the rail, and the cover relative to the rail carriage to selectively cover and expose the object.
72. The method of claim 71, wherein moving the notched belt, the rail, and the cover comprises moving the notched belt, the rail, and the cover by means of an electric motor connected to the notched belt.
73. The method of claim 72, wherein moving the notched belt, the rail, and the cover comprises moving the notched belt, the rail, and the cover by means of a remote control device.
74. The method of claim 71, wherein attaching the cover to the rail comprises removably attaching the cover to the rail.
75. The method of claim 71, wherein the object comprises a flat panel display device, a picture, or an air conditioning system component.
Descripción
CROSS REFERENCE TO PREVIOUS APPLICATIONS

This application is a Continuation-in-Part application of, and claims priority to, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/234,659, filed on Sep. 22, 2005, which is a Continuation-in-Part application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/547,851, filed on Sep. 1, 2005, which is a National Stage application of International App. No. PCT/EP2005/003261, filed Mar. 29, 2005, which claims priority to Swiss Patent App. No. 00649/04, filed Apr. 14, 2004, each of which prior applications is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a device and method for covering and exposing an object. Embodiments of the present invention are useful for selectively covering and exposing flat objects, such as a flat panel display device, attached to or recessed in a wall.

BACKGROUND

Some individuals invest a significant amount of effort and money in decorating their home in a particular style, including furniture, artwork, wall coverings, fixtures, and so forth. Some businesses and retail stores similarly invest in a particular decor that meets the needs or desires of their owners and customers. However, homes and businesses employ a wide variety of devices, fixtures, and structures that may be inconsistent with a desired decor or style. Examples of such items include electrical control panels, television sets, wall safes, medicine cabinets, valuable items of artwork, access openings, mechanical systems, structural components and the like. When such items interfere with a desired decor, it may be necessary to disguise or conceal them in some fashion, or endure an item that is unappealing as compared to the general decor of a room or space. However, concealment can be problematic in that it can interfere with access when needed. It can also be cumbersome to reveal and conceal such items from time to time. Conventional coverings have been used for such concealment. A hinged painting in front of a wall safe is one example. However such an approach is only useful when access is necessary for a short period of time, because the painting is unappealing when left in the “open” position.

Flat panel display devices for displaying electronically stored information of all kinds are often used today in public locations, such as in transportation stations, airports, and museums, in business premises, and in private rooms. The distribution of such flat panel display devices has been increasing rapidly. Flat panel display devices of this type provide a favorable picture quality and are lightweight and can easily be mounted on a wall or another, portable structure. In a sales room or exhibition room, such as a gallery or a museum, with a large amount of customers or visitors, such flat panel display devices provide more meaningful and up-to-date information and leave a more permanent impression than printed informational material. Freeze images, video clips, or computer animations also enable a dynamic marketing and visual messages whose effect is by far superior to a presentation of mere printed matter.

In conferences or meetings, the flat panel display devices provide a presentation with a professional touch. A flat panel display device can be mounted to almost any audiovisual device within a few seconds, for example, to a laptop computer or a DVD player.

The high resolution monitors usually have standard width-to-height ratios of 16:9, wherein the diagonal may vary, for example, from 82 cm to 127 cm. Such flat monitors may be mounted on a wall either in landscape format or in portrait format, or they may be placed at other desired positions. The size of these devices can vary. Custom flat panel display devices may have sizes of several square meters. Commercially available models have sizes similar to those of other objects that can be displayed on a wall, including, for example, oil paintings, graphics, maps, and tapestries.

Such flat panel display devices have a disadvantage. There are situations in which electronic messages are not be shown on the display devices. Time periods frequently occur during which the electronic screen is not used or does not fit in with the decor of a particular function. Flat panel display devices that are used for multimedia purposes in a gallery or a museum may not fit the environment when not in use, for example, when displayed next to oil paintings or other pieces of art. During these “dead times” such flat panel display devices often do not match the overall decor, aesthetics, or atmosphere of a room. Flat panel display devices occupy space on the wall even at times they are not in use, and they are normally not dismounted. The wall surface occupied by such mounted objects therefore lies idle. In public places, in particular, it is not economical or efficient to have unused surface or an unused display device. Moreover, the space on public walls, in galleries and museums, as well as on walls in private homes, is often limited. A flat panel display device or other object mounted on a wall, such as a picture, painting, photo, poster, or hangings of different materials such as fabric, paper, glass wood, plastics, or stone, occupy a certain portion of the wall surface that could otherwise be used by other wall claddings. As such, mounted objects on a wall can compete with alternative hangings and wall covers for wall space. Thus, displaying a flat panel display device on a wall decreases the flexibility of use of the wall space.

A conventional approach to managing the look of flat panel display devices is to retract or hide the display device when not in use. For example, a cover unit for a flat panel video display has been used to deploy a flexible cover over the display. Such a device is similar to a window shade that is lowered and raised in front of a television screen. While such an approach may be effective at covering a television, it lacks a degree of elegance that is often desired in a refined decor environment. Thus, there is a need for a device and method for covering and exposing an object in a convenient, decorative manner.

Thus, it is desirable to provide a device and method for selectively covering and exposing an object, such as a flat panel display device, that allows flexible use of wall space.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides embodiments of a device and method for covering and exposing an object. In an embodiment, the device includes a support structure movably attached to a display surface adjacent an object displayed on the display surface, such as a wall. A cover is attached to the support structure. The device includes a means for moving the support structure and cover for selectively covering and exposing the object.

In one embodiment, the support structure includes a U-shaped holder having a base leg, a carrier leg, and a connector leg extending between and connecting the base leg and the carrier leg. The base leg is movably attached to the display surface, and the cover is movably attached to the carrier leg. The base leg is movably supported on the display surface by connector elements, and the cover is movably supported on the carrier leg by connector elements. The device may include two or more movable support structures and a connector between the two movable support structures.

In another embodiment, the support structure can include an inner frame having a guide element along each side of the inner frame. An outer frame has a guide element along each side of the outer frame, and each outer frame guide element is movably engagable with one of the inner frame guide elements. The cover is attached to the outer frame. An electric motor is attached to the inner frame and adapted to move the outer frame and cover relative to the inner frame. In an embodiment, the electric motor includes a toothed gear. The outer frame guide element adjacent the toothed gear includes a toothed rack engaged with the toothed gear. Movement of the outer frame relative to the inner frame is effected by movement of the toothed rack by the electric motor and toothed gear. In an embodiment, the device includes a cable attached to the electric motor and to the outer frame. The cable is windable and unwindable by the electric motor such that movement of the outer frame relative to the inner frame is effected by winding and unwinding the cable by the electric motor.

In another embodiment, the support structure may comprise a rail carriage attached to the display surface and a rail movably engaged with the rail carriage. A threaded rod can be attached to the rail and operably engaged with the rail carriage. A cover can be attached to the rail so that the rail and the cover can be moved to selectively cover and expose an object on, or recessed in, a display surface. An electric motor can be connected to the threaded rod for moving the threaded rod, the rail, and the cover relative to the rail carriage. The rail carriage can include a rod guide channel for guiding movement of the threaded rod relative to the rail carriage and a rail guide channel for guiding movement of the rail relative to the rail carriage.

In another embodiment, a notched belt can be operably engaged with the rail and with the rail carriage. In this manner, a cover can be attached to the rail so that the rail and the cover can be moved to selectively cover and expose an object on, or recessed in, a display surface. An electric motor can be connected to the notched belt for moving the notched belt, the rail, and the cover relative to the rail carriage. In this embodiment, the rail carriage can include a belt guide channel for guiding movement of the notched belt relative to the rail carriage and a rail guide channel for guiding movement of the rail relative to the rail carriage.

In another embodiment, the cover comprises a piece of furniture, the object comprises a flat panel display device, and the flat panel display device is movable out of and into the furniture. The flat panel display device can be moved out of and into the furniture by means of rotating a threaded rod operably connected to the flat panel display device. Alternatively, the flat panel display device can be moved out of and into the furniture by a telescopic means.

The displayed object can be recessed into the display surface. The object can be a flat panel display device, a picture, or other object desired to be displayed on a display surface, or an object for which displaying is not desired, such as an air conditioning system component. Embodiments of the present invention provide means for covering and exposing any of such objects.

In an embodiment, the means for moving the support structure and cover can be manually operable. Alternatively, the means for moving the support structure and cover can include an electric motor. The means for moving the support structure and cover can be operated by a remote control device.

An embodiment of the present invention may include a method for selectively covering and exposing an object displayed on a display surface. In one illustrative embodiment of a method, a support structure can be attached to the display surface adjacent the object, and the support structure is movable relative to the display surface. A cover can be attached to the support structure, and the support structure and cover can be moved to selectively cover and expose the object. The support structure may comprise a U-shaped holder having a base leg movably attached to the display surface, a carrier leg for movably attaching the cover, and a connector leg extending between and connecting the base leg and the carrier leg. Alternatively, the support structure may comprise an inner frame having a guide element along each side of the inner frame and an outer frame having a guide element along each side of the outer frame. Each outer frame guide element is movably engagable with one of the inner frame guide elements. When the cover is attached to the outer frame, the outer frame and cover can be moved relative to the inner frame.

In another embodiment of a method, a rail carriage can be attached to a display surface adjacent an object displayed on, or recessed in, the display surface. A rail is movably engaged with the rail carriage. A threaded rod can be attached to the rail and operably engaged with the rail carriage. The cover can be attached to the rail and the threaded rod, the rail, and the cover moved relative to the rail carriage to selectively cover and expose the object. In an alternative embodiment of a method, a notched belt can be operably engaged with the rail and with the rail carriage such that the notched belt, the rail, and the cover can be moved relative to the rail carriage to selectively cover and expose the object.

In an embodiment of a method, a U-shaped structure, an outer frame, or a rail having a threaded rod or a notched belt each can be moved by means of an electric motor. The motor, and thus movement of the cover, can be actuated by means of a remote control device. In an embodiment of a method, the device may be configured so that the cover can be moved in a plurality of directions relative to the object.

Features of a device and method for covering and exposing an object of the present invention may be accomplished singularly, or in combination, in one or more of the embodiments of the present invention. As will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art, the present invention has wide utility in a number of applications as illustrated by the variety of features and advantages discussed below.

Embodiments of a device and method for covering and exposing an object of the present invention advantageously provide a means for conveniently covering an object displayed on or in a wall when the object is not in use or not desired to be exposed.

Another advantage is that the present invention provides for flexible use of wall space.

Another advantage is that the present invention provides a device and method for covering and exposing multiple objects in a defined space in which a predetermined pattern of covers can be arranged for a particular aesthetic effect.

As will be realized by those of skill in the art, many different embodiments of a device and method for covering and exposing an object according to the present invention are possible. Additional uses, objects, advantages, and novel features of the invention are set forth in the detailed description that follows and will become more apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following or by practice of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a movable support structure having a “U” shape and roller connector elements for movably connecting the support structure to a display surface and for movably connecting a cover to the support structure in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a movable support structure having a “U” shape and slide rail connector elements for movably connecting the support structure to a display surface and for movably connecting a cover to the support structure in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a top view of a movable support structure having a “U” shape attached to a display surface and a cover attached to the support structure, the support structure and cover positioned adjacent a flat panel display device attached to the display surface in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a side view of two movable support structures each having a “U” shape, attached to a display surface, and positioned adjacent a flat panel display device attached to the display surface, a single cover attached to both of the support structures, and a connector connecting the two support structures in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a front view of a cover covering an object attached to a display surface in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a front view of the cover in FIG. 5, moved laterally to partially expose the object attached to the display surface in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a front view of the cover in FIGS. 4 and 5, moved laterally farther than in FIG. 4, to fully expose the object attached to the display surface in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a top view of a movable support structure having a “U” shape attached to a display surface and a cover attached to the support structure, the support structure and cover positioned adjacent a flat panel display device and covering the flat panel display device in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a top view of the movable support structure, cover, and flat panel display device in FIG. 8, the support structure and cover each moved laterally to expose the flat panel display device in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a top view of a movable support structure having a “U” shape and a hinge between each leg of the support structure, the support structure attached to a display surface and a cover attached to the support structure, the support structure and cover positioned adjacent a flat panel display device and covering the flat panel display device in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 11 is a top view of the movable support structure, cover, and flat panel display device in FIG. 10, the support structure and cover each moved laterally to expose the flat panel display device in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a top view of two movable support structures each having a “U” shape, each attached to a display surface and positioned adjacent a flat panel display device attached to the display surface, and a cover attached to each of the support structures in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a side view of a movable support structure having a “U” shape movably fitted about a flat panel display device attached to a display surface in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 14 is a front view of a movable support structure having an inner frame attached to a display surface and an outer frame movably engaged with the inner frame by means of guide rails whereby the outer frame can be moved to cover the flat panel display device recessed into the display surface above the support structure in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 15 is a front view of the device in FIG. 14 in which the outer frame is moved into position to cover the flat panel display device in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 16 is a side view of the device in FIG. 14 in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 17 is a side view of the device in FIG. 15 in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 18 is a front view of a movable support structure having an inner frame attachable to a display surface and an outer frame movably engaged with the inner frame by means of guide rails, one of the guide rails having a toothed rack engaged with a toothed gear on an electric motor, whereby the outer frame can be moved into position to cover and to expose an object in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 19 is front view of a movable support structure inside a piece of furniture, the support structure comprising a transverse bar movably engaged with threaded rods and drivable by an electric motor for moving a flat panel display device out of the furniture for viewing in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 20 is a front view of the device in FIG. 19, in which the movable support is moved so as to move the flat panel display device out of the furniture for viewing in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 21 is a front view of a movable support structure comprising a rail attached to a cover and movably engaged with a slide carriage attached to a display surface in an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 22 is a back view of the movable rail-slide carriage support structure shown in FIG. 21.

FIG. 23 is a back perspective view of a movable rail-slide carriage support structure comprising a notched belt and showing a motor connected at a 90 degree angle to the movable support structure in an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention provides embodiments of a device and method for covering and exposing an object. In an illustrative embodiment, the device includes a support structure movably attached to a display surface adjacent an object displayed on the display surface, such as a wall. A cover is attached to the support structure. The device includes a means for moving the support structure and cover for selectively covering and exposing the object.

In one embodiment, the support structure includes a U-shaped holder having a base leg, a carrier leg, and a connector leg extending between and connecting the base leg and the carrier leg. The base leg is movably attached to the display surface, and the cover is movably attached to the carrier leg. The base leg is movably supported on the display surface by connector elements, and the cover is movably supported on the carrier leg by connector elements. The connector elements can be rollers or a slide rail. In an embodiment, the holder further includes a first hinge between the base leg and the connector leg and a second hinge between the connector leg and the carrier leg, and each hinge is rotatable to a desired angle for foldably moving the holder away from the displayed object. The device may include two or more movable support structures and a connector between the two movable support structures.

In another illustrative embodiment, the support structure can include an inner frame having a guide element along each side of the inner frame. An outer frame has a guide element along each side of the outer frame, and each outer frame guide element is movably engagable with one of the inner frame guide elements. The cover is attached to the outer frame. An electric motor is attached to the inner frame and adapted to move the outer frame and cover relative to the inner frame. In an embodiment, the electric motor includes a toothed gear. The outer frame guide element adjacent the toothed gear includes a toothed rack engaged with the toothed gear. Movement of the outer frame relative to the inner frame is effected by movement of the toothed rack by the electric motor and toothed gear. In an embodiment, the device includes a cable attached to the electric motor and to the outer frame. The cable is windable and unwindable by the electric motor such that movement of the outer frame relative to the inner frame is effected by winding and unwinding the cable by the electric motor.

In another embodiment, the support structure may comprise a rail carriage attached to the display surface and a rail movably engaged with the rail carriage. A threaded rod can be attached to the rail and operably engaged with the rail carriage. A cover can be attached to the rail so that the rail and the cover can be moved to selectively cover and expose an object on, or recessed in, a display surface. An electric motor can be connected to the threaded rod for moving the threaded rod, the rail, and the cover relative to the rail carriage. The rail carriage can include a rod guide channel for guiding movement of the threaded rod relative to the rail carriage and a rail guide channel for guiding movement of the rail relative to the rail carriage.

In another embodiment, a notched belt can be operably engaged with the rail and with the rail carriage. In this manner, a cover can be attached to the rail so that the rail and the cover can be moved to selectively cover and expose an object on, or recessed in, a display surface. An electric motor can be connected to the notched belt for moving the notched belt, the rail, and the cover relative to the rail carriage. In this embodiment, the rail carriage can include a belt guide channel for guiding movement of the notched belt relative to the rail carriage and a rail guide channel for guiding movement of the rail relative to the rail carriage.

In another illustrative embodiment, the cover comprises a piece of furniture, the object comprises a flat panel display device, and the flat panel display device is movable out of and into the furniture. The flat panel display device can be moved out of and into the furniture by means of rotating a threaded rod operably connected to the flat panel display device. Alternatively, the flat panel display device can be moved out of and into the furniture by a telescopic means.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the displayed object can be recessed into the display surface. The object can be a flat panel display device, a picture, an air conditioning system component, or other object desired to displayed on a display surface for which it is desirable to cover and expose.

In an embodiment, the cover can be removably attached to the support structure. The cover can be a rigid material or a flexible material. In embodiments, the cover comprises a picture. In a particular embodiment, the object can be a first picture and the cover can be a second picture such that the second picture is movable to selectively cover and expose the first picture. The cover may be moved in a plurality of directions relative to the object.

In an embodiment, the means for moving the support structure and cover can be manually operable. Alternatively, the means for moving the support structure and cover can include an electric motor. The means for moving the support structure and cover can be operated by a remote control device.

FIGS. 1-23 show various embodiments of a device and method of the present invention for covering and exposing an object. FIGS. 1-2 show an embodiment of a device 10 for selectively covering and exposing an object having a U-shaped holder 11 including a base leg 12, a connector leg 13, and a carrier leg 14. The length relations of the three legs 12, 13, 14 may be selected depending on the dimensions of the object to be covered and the cover. Embodiments of the present invention have particular utility for covering objects that are relatively flat, such as, for example, a flat panel display device, a picture, an air conditioning system component, or other relatively flat object attached to a display surface desired to be covered. In an embodiment, a device of the present invention may be used with an object that is not flat but has depth. In such an embodiment, the movable support structure, such as holder 11, can be extended outward to accommodate the depth of the object.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the device 10 includes connector elements 18, 21 for movably supporting the support structure 11 to the display surface (shown in the base leg 12) and for movably supporting the cover to the support structure 11 (shown in the carrier leg 14) of the holder 11. As shown in the embodiment in FIG. 1, the connector elements 18 may be rollers 19 movable within a slide track 15 on the base leg 12, and the connector elements 21 may be rollers 22 movable within a slide track 15 on the carrier leg 14. As shown in the embodiment in FIG. 2, the connector element 18 may be a slide rail 20 movable within the slide track 15 in the base leg 12, and the connector element 21 may be a slide rail 23 movable within the slide track 15 in the carrier leg 14. In such an embodiment, the connector elements 18 facilitate movement of the base leg 12 and the entire holder 11. The connector elements 21 facilitate movement of the carrier leg 14 and the cover 17. In an embodiment (not shown), the connector elements 18, 21 may be telescopic elements. For example, such telescoping connector elements can be telescopingly extendable in a displacement direction so that the holder 11 can be displaced relative to the display surface and the cover can be displaced relative to the holder 11.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-3, the holder 11 is U-shaped. In other embodiments, the holder 11 can have different configurations that are suitable for movably connecting the holder 11 to a display surface and for movably connecting the cover to the holder 11 such that both the holder 11 and the cover can be moved to selectively cover and expose an object adjacent the holder 11 on the display surface. For example, the holder may be shaped like a frame or have an “L” shape. An L-shaped holder (not shown) may be useful if the movable cover already includes a frame to support the cover. The holder may be attached to the short leg of the L-shaped holder, and the long leg can be movably attached to a wall. The movably mounted holder 11 enables the cover to be securely supported, as well as the holder 11 to be moved along the base leg 12 relative to the display surface and the attached cover 17 to be moved along the carrier leg 14 relative to the holder 11.

FIG. 3 shows the device 10 with the U-shaped holder 11 from the top, wherein it carries a cover 17 on the front side 33 of the carrier leg 14 (farthest from the wall 16 and facing an observer) by means of the connector elements 21. The holder 11 is movably supported to the display surface 16 on the rear side 34 of the base leg 12 (facing toward the display surface 16) by means of the connector elements 18. The cover 17 covers a flat panel display device 30, which is attached to the display surface 16. By displacing the movably supported holder 11, an object covered in this manner, such as the flat panel display device 30, may be exposed.

As shown in FIG. 4, more than one holder 11 as shown in FIG. 3 can be utilized in an embodiment of the present invention. The cover 17 is movably attached at its upper portion 37 to a first holder 11 and is movably attached at its lower portion 38 to a second holder 35. A connector element 36 may be used to connect the two or more holders 11, 35 so that the multiple holders 11, 35 move together. Use of two or more holders 11, 35 may be advantageous to provide additional support for heavy or large covers 17 and provide even movement of the upper and lower portions 37, 38, respectively, of the cover 17. In an alternative embodiment of the present invention, the holder 11 and cover 17 may be stationary and the flat panel display device 30 can be movable to cover and expose the flat panel display device 30.

The cover 17 can be a flexible material, such as a tapestry or other decorative fabric. Alternatively, the cover 17 can be a rigid material, such as a picture or painting in a frame or a mirror. Preferably, the cover 17 provides a desired aesthetic effect and can add decorative value to an environment. The flat panel display device 30 and cover 17 can provide a complementary aesthetic or decorative effect. For example, a displacement of the cover 17 downwards, for example, may lead to an observer's impression that the cover 17 also forms a support column for the flat panel display device 30, which may increase the aesthetic effect of the flat panel display device 30 itself.

FIG. 5 shows a graphic illustration of the device 10 from the front, in which only the cover 17 is visible. The device 10 includes a cover 17, for example a picture, that covers an object, for example a flat panel display device 30. As shown in FIG. 6, lateral displacement 39 of the movably supported holder 11 and the cover 17 allow the covered flat panel display device 30 to become visible. FIG. 7 shows the flat panel display device 30 fully exposed after the holder 11 and cover 17 are fully displaced to the side of the flat panel display device 30. The object 30 displayed on the display surface 16 can be partially or completely covered by the cover 17, as desired. The holder 11 and cover 17 are shown in FIGS. 5-7 as being displaced laterally, or horizontally. In other embodiments, the device 10 can be attached to the display surface 16, or otherwise configured, to move vertically or at other than 90 degree angles relative to the object 30 being covered and exposed. Such flexibility in movement of the cover 17 provides for optimal use of the device 10 in a various applications. For example, the cover 17 may be moved into an area on the wall 16 such that the cover 17 coordinates with the room's decoration or with an adjacent oil painting, for example.

The movement of the holder 11 for covering and exposing an object may be implemented either totally mechanically, such as by manual movement, or in an electronically controlled manner. For example, the device 10 may be equipped with an electric motor that can provide a slow, smooth back and forth movement of the holder 11 and cover 17. Such a motor may be directly connected to the holder 11 or it may be integrated into the connector elements 18, 21. In an alternative embodiment, an automated means for moving the holder 11 and cover 17 may include a hydraulic drive. An electric motor may generate the required hydraulic pressure, either instantly when used or for delayed use by storing a hydraulic charge in a hydraulic storage unit. Such a means is particularly useful for heavy and/or large covers 17. In an embodiment, the automated, electronically-controlled movement of the holder 11 and cover 17 can be actuated by a remote control device, as shown in FIG. 15 and discussed herein.

FIG. 8 shows the device 10 having a U-shaped holder 11 from the top. The base leg 12 of the holder 11 is movably attached the display surface 16, and the cover 17 is movably attached to the front side 33 of the carrier leg 14. The device 10 and cover 17 are shown covering the flat panel display device 30 fixed to the display surface 16. Lateral displacement 39 of the movably supported holder 11 and cover 17, as shown in FIG. 9, allows the flat panel display device 30 to be exposed for viewing.

In an embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, the U-shaped holder 11 may include a means for moving at angles other than substantially parallel to the display surface 16. Such means may provide flexibility of movement desirable in environments where the space for locating a holder 11 and cover 17 displaced from an object 30 is limited. In such an embodiment, the holder 11 can include rotary axes, such as hinges, integrated between the legs of the holder. As shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, a first hinge 40 can be positioned between the base leg 12 and the connector leg 13 of the holder 11, and a second hinge 41 can be located between the connector leg 13 and the carrier leg 14. In FIG. 10, as the holder 11 and cover 17 are positioned to cover the flat panel display device 30, the base leg 12 and connector leg 13 are positioned at approximately right angles to each other, and the connector leg 13 and the carrier leg 14 are likewise positioned at approximately right angles to each other. In FIG. 11, the holder 11 and cover 17 have been moved laterally and the first and second hinges 40, 41, respectively, have been rotated so that the connector leg 13 is positioned at approximately 180 degrees (in line) with the base leg 12, and the carrier leg 14 has been collapsed to a position adjacent to, and substantially parallel with, the base leg 21 and connector leg 13. In an embodiment, the hinges 40, 41 may include electric motors (not shown) to effect rotation of the hinges 40, 41. Each hinge 40, 41 may be rotated to a desired angle. The angle of rotation of each hinge 40, 41 can be adjusted and/or limited by mechanical or photoelectric limit switches (not shown). Such positional control of the hinges 40, 41 may be actuated by a remote control device.

In an embodiment, as shown in FIG. 12, a device 10 for selectively covering and exposing an object includes two U-shaped holders 11, 24 movably supported on the display surface 16 adjacent a flat panel display device 30. Each holder 11, 24 is mounted to the display surface 16 independent of the other. In this embodiment, the first holder 11 may be moved to the right 42, and the second holder 24 may be moved to the left 43. The cover 17 is movably attached to the first holder 11, and a second cover 44 is movably attached to the second holder 24. As shown in FIG. 12, two or more holders 11, 24 can be used in combination so as to provide for covering and exposing not only the flat panel display device 30 mounted on the display surface 16, but the outer second cover 44 can be moved to cover and expose the inner first cover 11.

In another embodiment, as shown in FIG. 13, the device 10 includes the U-shaped movable support structure 11 having the slide track 20 movably fitted into the slide track 15 on the flat panel display device 30. The flat panel display device 30 is fixedly attached to the display surface 16 with wall anchors 45. The slide track 15 is attached to the flat panel display device 30. In such an embodiment, the support structure 11 can be moved horizontally along the slide track 15 so as to cover and expose the flat panel display device 30.

In embodiments, the device 10 can be attached to the display surface 16 before the cover 17 is attached to the holder 11. Depending on the type and structural design of the cover 17, the cover 17 may be movably attached to the holder 11 at various contact points between the cover 17 and the holder 11. As described herein, electronic and/or hydraulic components may be mounted to the device 10. The dimensions of the cover 17 are sufficient to cover a desired object, such as the flat panel display device 30 attached to the display surface 16, as well as the holder 11 and all other components of the device 10. As shown in FIGS. 3-12, the design of the holder 11 and cover 17 is such that the holder 11 and all components of the device 10 are covered by the cover 17 whether the cover 17 is in position to cover the object or moved to a position to expose the object.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the device 10 allows selective covering and exposing of relatively flat objects, such as a flat panel display device 30. In situations in which it is desirable for one or more objects displayed on a display surface to not been seen, such a device 10 allows for one or more of the objects to be covered. The device 10 may be movably attached to a planar wall 16, and may alternatively be movably attached to other display surfaces, such as a column or room divider. The device 10, and in particular, the holder 11 and cover 17, may be varied in length, width, depth, and geometry. The cover 17 can be different materials or objects, depending on the desired look of the display surface 16 when the object(s) is covered. Cover 17 designs can give a room, hall, office, or other environment a completely different look or theme than if the uncovered object is viewable. In addition, such a relatively flat object covered by the device can be uncovered for viewing and/or other use at desired times. Such uncovering can provide a dramatic or other effect for impact to observers. In this manner, embodiments of the present invention provide flexible use of a display surface 16, as well as a multiplied use of available space on a wall or other display surface 16.

In an embodiment of the present invention, an object to be covered can be recessed into the display surface 16 or wall. The display object preferably rests within the recessed area such that the object does not project beyond the plane of the recess opening. In such an embodiment, the cover 17 may need to be moved only a relatively small distance to selectively cover and expose the recess and the object positioned therein. The object to be covered, which is installed in the wall 16, may be a flat panel display device 30. Other objects, such as air conditioning system components, which may or may not be recessed in a wall 16, may be covered by such a device 10 of the present invention. In embodiments in which the object to be covered is recessed into the wall 16, an observer may be unable to recognize that the object is covered by the cover 17. FIGS. 14-18 show embodiments in which the flat panel display device 30 installed in a recess 46 of a wall may be selectively covered and exposed.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 14, the flat panel display device 30 is installed in the recess 46 of a wall 16. The support structure of the device 10 includes an inner frame 50 having a guide rail 51 along each side of the inner frame 50. The inner frame 50 is attachable to a display surface 16 with fasteners, for example screws, via the holes 52. An outer frame 47 has a guide rail 49 attached along each side of the outer frame 47. The outer frame guide rails 49 are attached to the outer frame 47 by fastening means 48. Each outer frame guide rail 49 is movably engagable with one of the inner frame guide rails 51. A cover 17 (not shown) can be attached to the outer frame 47. An electric motor 53 is attached to the inner frame 50 and adapted to move the outer frame 47 and cover relative to the inner frame 50. A cable 54 is attached to the electric motor 53 and to the outer frame 47. (The cable 54 is indicated by a broken line in FIG. 14.) The cable 54 is windable and unwindable by the electric motor 53 such that movement of the outer frame 47 and cover relative to the inner frame 50 can be effected by winding and unwinding of the cable 54 by the electric motor 53.

Actuation of the electric motor 53 to move the outer frame 47 (and attached cover 17, not shown) to cover and expose the flat panel display device 30 can be achieved by means of a sending a signal from a remote control transmitter 60 to a remote control receiver 61 operably connected to the electric motor 53. The remote control transmitter 60 can include various control buttons for controlling movement of the outer frame 47 or other movable support structure. For example, the button 62 can be used to actuate movement of the outer frame 47 (and cover 17, not shown) to cover the flat panel display device 30. The button 63 can be used to actuate movement of the outer frame 47 (and cover 17, not shown) from in front of the flat panel display device 30 to expose it. The button 64 can be used to turn on and off the flat panel display device 30. In another embodiment, movement of the outer frame 47 (and cover 17, not shown) can be actuated by a wall switch. The remote control signal can be a radio signal or an infrared signal. Remote control operation of the device 10 can be programmed into the same signal that turns a flat panel display device 30 on and off. For example, the signal that remotely turns on the display device 30 can be programmed to automatically move the support structure and cover 17 to expose the display device 30. The signal that turns off the display device 30 can be programmed to automatically move the support structure and cover 17 to cover the display device 30.

In FIGS. 14 and 16, the outer frame is positioned below the recess 46 so that the flat panel display device 30 is exposed. In FIGS. 15 and 17, the outer frame 47 has been moved into positioned in front of the recess 46 so that the flat panel display device 30 is covered. The dimensions of the cover 17 are sufficient to cover the flat panel display device 30, as well as the inner frame 50 and electric motor 53, whether the outer frame cover 47 is in position to cover or to expose the flat panel display device 30.

In an embodiment, the cable 54 can be a transparent material such that when the cover 17 moves, such movement may have the appearance that the cover 17 is moving independently of other structures. Alternatively, the cable 54 may comprise a metallic material that a “technical” aesthetic impression.

As shown in FIGS. 15 and 17, the outer frame 47 (and attached cover 17, not shown) can be positioned to fully cover the flat panel display device, yet leave a portion of the recess 46 uncovered. This arrangement can be useful in situations in which there is a need to provide an opening to the object when it is covered. For example, some electronic equipment, for example, a stereo system, may need to have an opening for air circulation to cool the electronic components even when the system is covered. Such an opening can be provided in the top or bottom of the recess, both at the top and the bottom of the recess, or in other configurations as needed.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 18, the electric motor 53 comprises a toothed gear 65. The outer frame guide rail 49 adjacent the toothed gear 65 comprises a toothed rack 66 engaged with the toothed gear 65. Movement of the outer frame 47 relative to the inner frame 50 can be effected by movement of the toothed rack 66 and outer frame guide rail 49 by the electric motor 53 and toothed gear 65.

Such embodiments, particularly those as shown in FIGS. 14-18, may be useful in art galleries that have limited exposition space. A device 10 of the present invention may provide the ability to significantly increase the number of art works exhibited. In addition, a device 10 of the present invention may include a container (not shown) positioned on the floor below one or more objects, such as paintings, being displayed on a wall 16. The cover 17 may have attached to it another painting to be displayed when moved upward into position on the wall 16 over the first painting. When the cover 17 and attached painting are moved away from the underlying painting, the cover 17 and attached painting can be lowered into the container to conceal the presence of the cover 17 and second painting. In this manner, the first painting can be viewed without the influence of the presence of the second painting.

FIGS. 19-20 illustrate another embodiment of a device 10 of the present invention for covering and exposing an object. In this illustration, the object is a flat panel display device 30 installed inside a piece of furniture 70, for example, a desk, credenza, console, or other furniture designed to house such an object. The device 10 includes a threaded rod 71 on each side of the device 10 and a transverse bar 72 interconnecting the threaded rods 71. The transverse bar 72 is moveable along the threaded rods 71 as they are rotated. A ball-and-socket joint 73 can be located about the center of the transverse bar 72. The flat panel display device 30 can be coupled to the ball-and-socket joint 73. The device 10 further includes a pair of first rollers 74 located at the bottoms of the threaded rods 71, a first belt 75 fitted around the first rollers 74, an idler roller 76 on one of the threaded rods 71, and a drive roller 77 on a bracket fixed at the bottom of the device 10. Both of the rollers 76 and 77 are disposed between the transverse bar 72 and the bottom of the device 10. A second belt 78 is fitted around the idler and drive rollers 76, 77, respectively.

In operation, a user starts the electric motor 53 to activate the drive roller 77 in one direction in order to advance the second belt 78. And in turn, the idler roller 76 is driven by the conveying second belt 78. Further, one threaded rod 71 is driven by rotation of the idler roller 76. Such rotation is in synchronism with that of the other threaded rod 71. In combination, the rotations are then converted into an upward movement 79 of the transverse bar 72. Accordingly, the flat panel display device 30 is lifted from the device 10. The lifting will stop if the flat panel display device 30 has fully projected above the surface of the furniture 70 with the transverse bar 72 stopped by a limit switch (not shown).

When the user wishes to remove the flat panel display device 30 from the top of the furniture 70 or to hide the presence of the flat panel display device 30, the user may start the motor 53 in the opposite direction of rotation to activate the drive roller 77 in order to rotate the second belt 78. And in turn, the idler roller 76 is driven by the conveying second belt 78. Further, one threaded rod 71 is driven by rotation of the idler roller 76. Such rotation is in synchronism with that of the other threaded rod 71. In combination, the rotations are then converted into a downward movement 80 of the transverse bar 72. Accordingly, the flat panel display device 30 is lowered into the furniture 70. The lowering will stop when the flat panel display device 30 has been fully covered under the surface of the furniture 70. Such downward movement may be stopped by a limit switch (not shown).

Such a device 10 can include other means for moving the flat panel display device 30 out of and into a piece of furniture 70. For example, a telescoping means can be attached to the furniture 70 and activated by the electric motor 53 to move the flat panel display device 30 upward 79 out of the furniture 70 to uncover the display device 30 and downward 80 into the furniture 70 to cover the display device 30.

When moved out of the furniture 70, the flat panel display device 30 can be rotated and inclined to provide an optimal viewing angle. Such rotating and inclining movements can be achieved by moving the flat panel display device 30 about the ball-and-socket joint 73.

In an embodiment, movement of the flat panel display device 30 out of the furniture 70 can be automatically actuated by switching on the flat panel display device 30. Movement of the flat panel display device 30 into the furniture 70 can be automatically actuated by switching off the flat panel display device 30.

In an embodiment, the movable support structure can be attached to the flat panel display device 30 by the manufacturer of the display device 30. For example, pre-mounted guide rails, such as inner frame guide rails 51 as shown in FIGS. 14-17, can be integrated into the design of the flat panel display device 30 to coordinate with the design of the display device 30. In other embodiments, the flat panel display device 30 can include a means for later attaching a movable support structure.

FIGS. 21 and 22 illustrate another embodiment of the present invention useful for moving the cover 17 for selectively covering and exposing an object such as the flat panel display device 30. In this embodiment, the device 10 includes a rail carriage 90 fixedly attached to the display surface 16, such as a wall. A rail 93 is movably engaged within the rail carriage 90. The rail-rail carriage support structure shown in FIG. 22 is viewed from the perspective of the display surface 16 such that an observer is looking at the back 92 of the rail carriage 90 shown in FIG. 21. A threaded rod 94, or spindle, can be rotatably attached to the rail 93 at each end of the rod 94 with suitable fasteners such as screws. The threaded rod 94 is operably engaged with the rail carriage 90. The rail carriage 90 includes a threaded rod guide channel 99 oriented toward the front 91 and center and along the longitudinal axis of the rail carriage 90. The rod guide channel 99 has threads (not shown) that are matingly engaged with the threads of the threaded rod 94 for guiding movement of the threaded rod 94 relative to the rail carriage 90. The rail carriage 90 further includes a rail guide channel 98 oriented toward the front 91 along the longitudinal axis on each side of the rail carriage 90 for guiding movement of the rail 93 relative to the rail carriage 90.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 21-22, the means for moving the support structure (that is, the rail 93-rail carriage 90 support structure) and cover 17 comprises an electric motor 95 connected to the threaded rod 94. The motor 95 is configured to move the threaded rod 94, the rail 93, and the cover 17 relative to the rail carriage 90. The motor 95 is attached to the rail 93 with suitable fasteners, such as the strap fasteners 96 attached to an extension arm 104 extending from the rail 93. Alternatively, the motor 95 can be attached directly to the cover 17 using the strap fasteners 96. A motor connector rod 97 extends from the end of the motor 95 adjacent the threaded rod 94 and is operably connected to the threaded rod 94.

When the motor 95 is actuated, the motor connector rod 97 and the threaded rod 94 rotate in a direction, for example, a clockwise direction, such that the threaded rod 94 is moved upward in relation to the rod guide channel 99 in the rail carriage 90. In this manner, the threaded rod 94 and the attached rail 93 and cover 17 are moved upward, and the flat panel display device 30 displayed on the display surface 16 can be covered by the cover 17. When the motor 95 is actuated to rotate in the opposite direction, for example, in a counter-clockwise direction, the motor connector rod 97 and the threaded rod 94 rotate such that the threaded rod 94 is moved downward in relation to the rod guide channel 99 in the rail carriage 90. In this manner, the threaded rod 94 and the attached rail 93 and cover 17 move downward so as to expose the flat panel display device 30.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 21 and 22, the motor 95 is connected to the threaded rod 94 and rail 93 in a straight-line alignment, that is, at a substantially 180 degree angle. In an alternative embodiment, the motor 95 can be connected to the threaded rod 94 at a substantially 90 degree angle. Such a 90 degree angle connection of the motor 95 to the rail 93 is shown in the embodiment in FIG. 23.

FIG. 23 shows another embodiment of the device 10 of the present invention similar to that shown in FIGS. 21-22. In this embodiment, the rail carriage 90 is fixedly attached to the display surface 16. A notched belt 102 is movably attached about a roller (not shown) at the top and at the bottom of the rail 93. The rollers (not shown) are fixedly attached to the rail 93. The rail 93 and the notched belt 102 are movably engaged within the rail carriage 90. The rail carriage 90 includes a belt guide channel 103 oriented toward the front 91 and center and along the longitudinal axis of the rail carriage 90. The belt guide channel 103 has teeth that are matingly engaged with the notches of the notched belt 102 for guiding movement of the notched belt 102 relative to the rail carriage 90. The rail carriage 90 further includes a rail guide channel 98 oriented toward the front 91 along the longitudinal axis on each side of the rail carriage 90 for guiding movement of the rail 93 relative to the rail carriage 90.

The bottom roller is operably connected to the motor 95 via the motor connector rod 97. The motor 95 is configured to rotate the bottom roller and thus move the notched belt 102, the rail 93, and the cover 17 relative to the rail carriage 90.

When the motor 95 is actuated, the motor connector rod 97 and the bottom roller rotate in a direction, for example, a counter-clockwise direction, such that the notched belt 102 is moved upward in relation to the belt guide channel 103 in the rail carriage 90. In this manner, the notched belt 102 and the attached rail 93 and cover 17 are moved upward, and the flat panel display device 30 displayed on the display surface 16 can be covered by the cover 17. When the motor 95 is actuated to rotate in the opposite direction, for example, in a clockwise direction, the motor connector rod 97, bottom roller, and notched belt 102 rotate such that the notched belt 102 is moved downward in relation to the belt guide channel 103 in the rail carriage 90. In this manner, the notched belt 102 and the attached rail 93 and cover 17 move downward so as to expose the flat panel display device 30.

The motor 95 can be attached directly to the cover 17 using the strap fasteners 96. Alternatively, the motor 95 can be attached to the rail 93 with suitable fasteners, such as the strap fasteners 96 attached to the extension arm 103 extending from the rail 93.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 23, the motor 95 and gear are connected to the notched belt 102 at a substantially 90 degree angle. The motor 95 and gear may be connected to the notched belt 102 in a straight-line alignment, that is, at a substantially 180 degree angle, as shown in FIGS. 21-22. In an alternative embodiment (not shown), the motor 95 can be attached in parallel arrangement with the rail 93. That is, the motor 95 can be positioned to the side of the rail 93 such that the longitudinal axis of the motor 95 is parallel with the longitudinal axis of the rail 93. The motor 95 and motor connector rod 97 are operably linked to the threaded rod 94 or the notched belt 102 via gears or linking structures. Any suitable arrangement of the motor 95 relative to the rail 93 can be utilized to operate the device 10.

The rail carriage 90 can be made from any suitable material for movably supporting the rail 93 and attached cover 17. Preferably, the rail carriage 90 is made of a lightweight material, such as aluminum. The rail carriage 90 includes bearings (not shown) that provide surfaces on which the rail 93 can slide as the rail 93 moves within the rail guide channel 98. Such bearings may comprise a polymeric material.

The notched belt 102 can be made from any material suitable for movably engaging the belt guide channel 103 in the rail carriage 90 and moving the rail 93 and attached cover 17. Preferably, the notched belt 102 is made from a lightweight material, for example, a polymeric material, such as polyurethane. With such construction, the notched belt 102 is lightweight and quiet during movement and is virtually dirt-resistant and maintenance-free. Such a support structure comprising the rail carriage 90 and notched belt 102 is commercially available as the DRYLIN® linear actuator from IGUS® Ltd., Moulton Park, 79/83 Tenter Road, Northampton NN3 6AX, United Kingdom.

In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 21-23, the automated, electronically-controlled movement of the rail 93 and cover 17 can be actuated by a remote control device, as shown in FIG. 15 and discussed herein. Actuation of the electric motor 95 to move the rail 93 and cover 17 to cover and expose the flat panel display device 30 can be achieved, for example, by means of a sending a signal from the remote control transmitter 60 to the remote control receiver 61 operably connected to the electric motor 95. Alternatively, movement of the rail 93 and cover 17 can be actuated by a wall switch.

In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 21-23, the cover 17 can be attached to and movable with the rail 93. The cover 17 may be removable from the rail 93 such that different covers 17 can be attached to the rail 93 for covering the flat panel display device 30. In addition to the flat panel display device 30, the object to be covered and exposed can be a picture, an air conditioning system component, or other object displayed on the display surface 16.

In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 21-23, the dimensions of the cover 17 are sufficient to cover a desired object, such as the flat panel display device 30 attached to the display surface 16, as well as the rail carriage 90, rail 93, motor 95, and all other components of the device 10. The cover 17 has dimensions sufficient to cover a desired object and the device 10 whether the cover 17 is in position to cover the object or in position to expose the object. For example, as shown in FIG. 21, the rail carriage 90 is attached to the display surface 16 near the flat panel display panel 30. The cover 17 is attached to the rail 93 with the upper portion 100 of the cover 17 attached to the top of the rail 93 and the lower portion 101 of cover 17 attached to the bottom of the rail 93. In this manner, all components of the device 10 are covered by the cover 17 when the cover 17 is in position to expose the flat panel display device 30 and when the cover 17 is in position to cover the flat panel display device 30. Such embodiments can cover and expose an object displayed on the display surface 16, as well as an object recessed into the display surface 16.

In an embodiment, the motor 95 can be disengaged from the drive means—for example, either the threaded rod 94 or the notched belt 102—so that the rail 93 and attached cover 17 can be moved manually. Disengagement of the drive means provides a user of the device 10 the ability to disallow movement of the cover 17 when that is desired.

Movement of the rail 93 and the attached cover 17 can be stopped by de-actuation of the motor 95 when the rail 93 moves to a predetermined point and trips a limit switch (not shown). A limit switch can be positioned along the path of the rail 93 so as to limit movement of the rail 93 and cover 17 in the direction of covering an object and in the direction of exposing an object.

Embodiments of the present invention can include other types of drive mechanisms. For example, rather than utilizing the threaded rod 94, the rail 93 can be of a telescoping type (not shown) such that rotation of the motor 95 causes telescoping arms of the rail 93, and thus the attached cover 17, to move in one direction to cover an object and in the opposite direction to expose the object. Such a support structure comprising a telescopic system is commercially available as DRYLIN® N telescopic system from IGUS® Ltd., Moulton Park, 79/83 Tenter Road, Northampton NN3 6AX, United Kingdom. In other embodiments, the drive mechanism can employ a chain, cable, or other means (not shown) operably connected to the motor 95 and configured to move the attached cover 17. For example, a monorail linear movement system useful in embodiments of the present invention is commercially available as “Powertrack” from Schneeberger, Inc., 11 DeAngelo Drive, Bedford, Mass. 01730.

In embodiments as shown in FIGS. 21-23, the device 10 allows selective covering and exposing of relatively flat objects, such as a flat panel display device 30. In situations in which it is desirable for one or more objects displayed on the display surface 16 to not been seen, such embodiments allow for one or more of the objects to be covered. The device 10 may be movably attached to a planar wall 16, and may alternatively be movably attached to other display surfaces, such as a column or room divider. The device 10, and in particular, the rail 93 and cover 17, may be varied in length, width, depth, and geometry. The cover 17 can be different materials or objects, depending on the desired look of the display surface 16 when the object(s) is covered. Cover 17 designs can give a room, hall, office, or other environment a completely different look or theme when desired objects are covered. In addition, such a relatively flat object covered by the device 10 can be uncovered for viewing and/or other use at desired times. Such uncovering can provide a dramatic or other effect for impact to observers. In this manner, such rail 93-rail carriage 90 support structure embodiments provide flexible use of a display surface 16, as well as a multiplied use of available space on a wall or other display surface 16.

An embodiment of the present invention includes a method for selectively covering and exposing an object displayed on a display surface, such as a wall 16. In such a method, a support structure is attached to the display surface 16 adjacent the object 30. The support structure is movable relative to the display surface 16. A cover 17 is fixedly or removably attached to the support structure. The support structure and cover 17 can be moved to selectively cover and expose the object 30. In one embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 1-4, the support structure comprises a U-shaped holder 11 having a base leg 12 movably attached to the display surface 16, a carrier leg 14 for movably attaching the cover 17, and a connector leg 13 extending between and connecting the base leg 12 and the carrier leg 14. In another embodiment of a method of the present invention, the displayed object 30 may be recessed into the display surface 16. In such an embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 14-17, the support structure comprises an inner frame 50 having a guide rail 51 along each side of the inner frame 50. An outer frame 47 has a guide rail 49 along each side of the outer frame 47. Each outer frame guide rail 49 is movably engagable with one of the inner frame guide rails 51. The cover 17 is attachable to the outer frame 47. An electric motor 53 is attached to the inner frame 50 and adapted to move the outer frame 47 and cover 17 relative to the inner frame 50.

In embodiments of such methods, the object can comprise a flat panel display device 30, a picture, an air conditioning system component, or other relatively flat object attached to a display surface 16 desired to be covered. The cover 17 can be a flexible material, such as a tapestry or other decorative fabric. In other embodiments, the cover 17 can comprise a rigid material. For example, the cover 17 may be a picture or a mirror. In an embodiment of a method, the object comprises a first picture and the cover 17 comprises a second picture. The support structure and second picture can be moved to selectively cover and expose the first picture.

In an embodiment of a method, the support structure and cover 17 can be moved in a plurality of directions relative to the object. The support structure and cover 17 can be moved by means of an electric motor 53. In such an embodiment, movement of the support structure and cover 17 can be actuated by means of a remote control device 60, 61. In another embodiment, the support structure and cover 17 can be moved manually.

In another embodiment of a method, the rail carriage 90 can be attached to the display surface 16 adjacent an object displayed on, or recessed in, the display surface 16. The rail 93 is movably engaged with the rail carriage 90. The threaded rod 94 can be attached to the rail 93 and operably engaged with the rail carriage 90. The cover 17 can be attached to the rail 93 and the threaded rod 94, the rail 93, and the cover 17 moved relative to the rail carriage 90 to selectively cover and expose the object. In an alternative embodiment of a method, the notched belt 102 can be operably engaged with the rail 93 and with the rail carriage 90 such that the notched belt 102, the rail 93, and the cover 17 can be moved relative to the rail carriage 90 to selectively cover and expose the object. In such embodiments, the rail 93 and attached cover 17 and either the threaded rod 94 or the notched belt 102 can be moved by means of a motor 95. The motor 95 can be actuated by means of a remote control device 60, 61.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to particular embodiments, it should be recognized that these embodiments are merely illustrative of the principles of the present invention. Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that a device and method for covering and exposing an object of the present invention may be constructed and implemented in other ways and embodiments. Accordingly, the description herein should not be read as limiting the present invention, as other embodiments also fall within the scope of the present invention.

Citada por
Patente citante Fecha de presentación Fecha de publicación Solicitante Título
US7175291 *31 Jul 200613 Feb 2007Shin-Nan LiAutomobile rearview mirror with LCD display
US7337024 *2 Jun 200626 Feb 2008Graham Jonathan WFlat panel display concealment and viewing apparatus and method
US7458689 *9 Mar 20062 Dic 2008Gene HeadCamouflaged display stand
US7798339 *29 Ene 200721 Sep 2010Funnel Fits L.L.C.Rail and slider system
US786661830 Abr 200811 Ene 2011Milestone Av Technologies LlcAutomated tilt head for electronic display mount
US8123188 *22 Abr 200928 Feb 2012Elliott BanfieldApparatus for concealing multimedia devices
US8189849 *13 Mar 200729 May 2012Steve WaddellMovable speaker covering
US20080226096 *13 Mar 200718 Sep 2008Steve WaddellMovable speaker covering
US20100301715 *19 Sep 20082 Dic 2010Derolo LimitedS-Box Storage Unit
US20110236169 *27 Ago 201029 Sep 2011Hong Fu Jin Precision Industry (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd.Temperature and humidity control chamber
EP1776900A1 *13 Oct 200625 Abr 2007Two Eyes Company B.V.Display device comprising a guiding device
WO2007016103A2 *25 Jul 20068 Feb 2007James H Johnson JrOutbuilding with integrated advertising
Clasificaciones
Clasificación de EE.UU.312/312
Clasificación internacionalA47B51/00
Clasificación cooperativaA47B81/064, A47B51/00
Clasificación europeaA47B51/00, A47B81/06A4