CROSS-REFERENCE TO PRIORITY APPLICATIONS
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/467,234, filed Mar. 24, 2011 and entitled “MOBILE LUGGAGE SYSTEM” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to luggage and more particularly mobile luggage.
Due to the variations of travel demands, most frequent travelers have large sets of luggage. Smaller bags are used for shorter trips, larger bags for longer trips or trips requiring heavy or frequent changes of clothing, and a range of sizes in between. These luggage sets can be cumbersome to store. Also, travel needs often seem to fall between bag sizes requiring multiple smaller bags.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
It would be advantageous to have a luggage system that provides improved flexibility to meet the needs of the range of travel scenarios.
The present invention overcomes the problems of the prior art by providing a mobile luggage system mounted on an expandable frame. In one embodiment, the system includes a frame having at least one mobility facilitating member, such as a pair of wheels, and at least one container. The container defines a primary compartment and has a plurality of walls configured to completely enclose the primary compartment in a first configuration. In a second configuration, an access opening is opened to provide access to the primary compartment. Advantageously, the container is configured for selectively securing onto and releasing from the frame without penetrating access by the frame into the primary compartment.
In another embodiment, the mobile luggage system includes an adjustable frame and a container. The adjustable frame includes at least one mobility facilitating member (such as a handle) and at least two adjustable members. The container has plurality of walls configured to enclose a primary compartment. The walls define lateral edges wherein the adjustable members are selectively movable relative to each other to support the lateral edges of the walls.
In another embodiment, the mobile luggage system includes a frame and at least one container. The frame has a base, at least one mobility facilitating member and at least two support members. Defined by the base is a plane passing through the mobility facilitating member. The container has a plurality of walls configured to enclose a primary compartment and the walls define lateral edges. The support members extend out of the base plane to form a receptacle configured to receive the at least one container wherein the support members extend along the lateral edges of the container.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
These and other features and advantages of the present invention will become more readily apparent to those skilled in the art upon consideration of the following detailed description and accompanying drawings, which describe both the preferred and alternative embodiments of the present invention.
FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a luggage system of one embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the luggage system of FIG. 1 with a container being dismounted from a frame;
FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of the container of FIG. 2 released from the frame being collapsed and washed in a washing machine;
FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of another luggage system accommodating multiple differently-sized containers;
FIG. 5 shows the embodiment of FIG. 4 with the containers being collapsed and inserted into a smaller, mounted container for compact storage;
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a frame of a luggage system in a collapsed configuration;
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the frame of FIG. 6 in an expanded position;
FIG. 8 is an exploded view of the frame of FIG. 6;
FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the frame of FIG. 6 sealed in a pocket in a container of the luggage system;
FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the container of FIG. 9 with an open back panel;
FIG. 11 is a perspective view of attachment of another container to the frame of FIG. 6;
FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the container of FIG. 11 being enclosed around the frame of FIG. 6;
FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the container of FIG. 11 sealed around the frame of FIG. 6;
FIG. 14 is an elevation view of the frame of FIG. 6 in the collapsed position;
FIG. 15 is an elevation view of the frame of FIG. 6 in an expanded position; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional view of the container of FIG. 10 and frame of FIG. 6 fully assembled into a luggage system.
The present invention now will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to specific embodiments of the invention. Indeed, the invention can be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will satisfy applicable legal requirements. As used in the specification, and in the appended claims, the singular forms “a”, “an”, “the”, include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. The term “comprising” and variations thereof as used herein is used synonymously with the term “including” and variations thereof and are open, non-limiting terms.
As shown in FIGS. 1-5, embodiments of the present invention include a mobile luggage system 10 having a frame 12 with at least one mobility facilitating member and at least one container 14 defining a primary compartment 16. The container 14 has a plurality of walls 18 configured to completely enclose the primary compartment 16 in a first configuration. In a second configuration, the primary compartment 16 is accessible through an access opening 20 that is selectively openable. The container 14 is configured for selectively securing onto and releasing from the frame 12 without penetrating access by the frame 12 into the primary compartment 16.
Access to the primary compartment may be facilitated by zippers, snaps, tape or other fasteners, to change between the first and second configurations. The access opening 20 is configured to allow loading and unloading of the primary compartment. For example, at the beginning of a trip a user may open a zipper that allows insertion of various clothing and travel items into the container. Closing the zipper then encloses the primary compartment. The term “encloses” as used herein means sufficiently secured to avoid normal items from being released from the container during normal use or from allowing water to get into the compartment. Thus, the container need not be (but could be) air tight or water tight or impenetrable to tools or other extraordinary means in the first configuration. At the same time, encloses means that small items, even items on the size of 1 mm, will not be released under normal operation.
The frame 12 is configured to adjust to the container 14. For example, the frame 12 includes two or four or a plurality of members 22 configured to move or translate toward each other so as to clamp on and secure the container 14, such as along lateral portions or edges of the walls 18, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 4. The frame may also include a base 24 supporting the members 22, as shown in FIG. 2. In the illustrated embodiment the members 22 extend from the base 24 in a parallel relationship to form a rectangular space. As shown in FIG. 4, the four members 22 are perpendicular to the base, parallel to each other and are configured to move relative to each other to form a range of rectangular shapes and sizes.
The members 22 could be arranged in other configurations and need not be straight, or positioned at corners or of any particular number other than enough to allow selective securing of the container 14, such as a pair of members. The member shapes and orientations may vary for differently shaped containers. For example, round or cylindrical container may be held by a pair of curved members 22 that extend from the base 24 in a semi-circular arrangement and are hinged to clamp or grasp the container 14. Likewise, the top portion 42 could be split into separate members or portions that could expand outward to accommodate different sized containers.
The frame 12 may also include a handle 26 that extends perpendicular to the four members 22 and parallel to the base 24, as shown in FIG. 2. The handle 26 may include a grip 30 with a long axis that falls within the plane of the base 24. The handle 26 may also include one or more struts 32 that connect the grip 30 to the base 24 of the frame 12. The struts 32 may telescope to allow movement relative to the base 24 of the grip 30, such as by an arrangement of nested tubing structures with a lockout mechanism at the fully in and out positions. Such a lockout mechanism may be activated by a button or other actuating mechanism.
Referring again to FIG. 4, the frame 12 includes a bottom portion 38, a pair of expandable wheel supports 40, and a top portion 42. The bottom portion 38 serves as a central connection point for the struts 32 by having openings defined at its top end for secure attachment of ends of the pair of struts. The struts 32 may slide within these openings and be locked into place with a locking mechanism operated by a button 44. The button 44 compresses against a bias (such as a spring) that locks members of the locking mechanism into place against the struts 32, thereby freeing the struts 32 to slide relative to the bottom portion 38 for additional adjustability.
At its bottom, the bottom portion 38 defines a pair of laterally spaced openings configured to receive wheel supports 40. Similar to the locking mechanism for the struts 32, a button 44 releases the locking mechanism for lateral sliding movement of the wheel supports. The wheel supports 40 support the mobility facilitating member(s) (in the illustrated embodiment wheels 28) at their ends. Also, extending from and supported by each of the wheel supports 40 is one of the members 22. As the wheel supports 40 are capable of relative motion, so are the members 22 thereby enabling adjustment for different sized containers 14.
The top portion 42 is supported and slides, selectively by compression of its own button 44, along the struts 32 to adjust to the height difference of the range of container sizes. The top portion flanges out along its top lateral ends to support a spaced pair of the members 22. Although not shown, the members 22 supported by the top portion 42 may also be movable or slidable with respect to each other for further adjustment.
The mobility facilitating member includes the pair of spaced wheels 28, as shown in FIG. 4. It should be noted however, that the mobility facilitating member may include a sled, a single ball with multi-axis rotation, rollers, tracks, rails or other members that facilitate movement of the frame 12. Also, mobility may be facilitated just by having the handle 26 in that it facilitates movement of the luggage.
Referring again to FIG. 4, the wheels 28 have a common axis of rotation that extends parallel to and within the plane of the base 24 and the handle 26. The long axis of the grip 30 may be parallel to the common axis of the wheels 28 to facilitate easy tilting and rolling of the frame 12. Also, the long axis and common axis may lie within a plane that is parallel to an outside surface of the container 14.
The containers 14 have a rectangular shape and a range of sizes, as shown in FIG. 4. The container may define pockets 34 that extend along surfaces or corners of the container 14. The pockets 34 are configured to receive a respective one of the four members 22 therein, so as to firmly attach the container 14 to the frame 12. For example, the pockets 34 may be parallel to each other and extend along a respective one of the four parallel corners of the rectangular shape.
The pockets 34 may also house stiffeners instead or as a supplement to the members 22, wherein the stiffeners attach, such as by selective pop-and-lock, spring-loaded cam members, to sockets defined in the base 24.
Other embodiments may not use pockets and instead employ stiffeners welded or attached to external points of the containers 14 and have fasteners thereon that can quickly and releasably attach to the frame 12.
The containers 14 are preferably constructed of washable and/or dryable materials and can be separated from the frame 12 and machine washed or dried, as shown in FIG. 3. The containers 14 can be an entire set of a range of different sizes, as shown in FIG. 4, allowing the luggage system to be fully deployable in a range of size options by adjustment of the frame 12. Also, the containers 14 are preferably at least partially collapsible or foldable for washing and for nested storage inside each other, as shown in FIG. 5. For example, the larger containers 14 may be collapsed to fold inside a smaller one of the containers.
The containers 14 may additionally include one or more handles 48 that allow the assembled container and frame 12 to be picked up and transported. In one embodiment, the handles are also mobility facilitating members.
As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the luggage system 10 may also include a set of clips or latches 36 with male and female connectors placed on the containers 14 and the frame 12 to allow additionally secure attachment of the container to the frame. One matable side of the latches 36, such as a dual pronged plastic male member, is positioned and supported on the top portion 42 on either side of the struts 32 for stable attachment to corresponding halves of the latches 36, such as a female slot receptacle sized for snap fit attachment of the male side, adhered to the containers 14.
In another embodiment, the containers 14 may include clip or latch portions that connect to complementary clip or latch portions on the frame 12. For example, the top portion 42 and bottom portion 38 of the frame 12 may include one or more female clip portion that are configured to receive male clip portions at corresponding locations attached to the containers 14.
Advantages of embodiments of the present invention include the ability to quickly and easily expand and reduce the size of the frame 12 to accommodate a range of container 14 sizes, thus providing a large amount of flexibility in selecting appropriately sized luggage for different needs. At the same time, the storage footprint of the luggage system 10 is substantially reduced by packing the foldable containers 14 into one of the smaller containers and collapsing the frame 12 down to its smallest size. The lack of penetrating access of the frame 12 or its members leaves the contents of the containers 14 undisturbed by exchanges with the frame 12, allowing pre-packing of a range of containers for selective future deployment. In another embodiment, the extension of the members out of the base creates a stable (because the members extend in the direction of gravity when the base is being transported on the wheels) but open-ended receptacle for quick drop-in and removal of the containers 14.
As shown in FIGS. 6-8 and 14-15, the mobile luggage system 10 includes a variation of the frame 12 that includes only two members 22 at the top and bottom. One of the members 22 is attached to the top portion 42 and the other the bottom portion 38. The members 22 have rectangular plate shapes and extend perpendicularly from the base 24. As shown in FIG. 8, the top member 22 includes a notch configured to provide clearance for the telescoping handle 26 and struts 32. A pair of flanges of the top member 23, on opposite sides of the notch, extends over the top portion 42 and has holes for connecting to the top portion 42.
The bottom one of the members 22 extends under the bottom portion 38 and defines holes for attachment to the bottom portion. When attached, the plate member extends between the wheels 28, as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7. The pair of wheels 28 attach to the wheel supports 40 on the bottom portion 38 of the base 24.
Referring again to FIG. 8, the top portion 42 has a rectangular shape with a pair of flanges 50 extending from its top. The top flanges 50 provide support surfaces for attachment of the flanges of the top one of the members 22. The rectangular center portion of the top portion 42 has a channel shape with outer guide walls 52 spaced apart to sleeve over the bottom portion 38. Between the outer guide walls are positioned a pair of spaced, parallel slots 54 defined by small plates attached to posts 56 or other sidewall structure. The slots are rectangular and shaped to receive the struts 32 of the handle 26 in a sliding relationship. The posts 56 are positioned to define a lateral slot configured receive and retain a portion (a bottom crossbar 58) of the handle 26, as will be described in more detail below.
The bottom portion has a rectangular center portion and a pair of flanges extending from its bottom that act as the wheel supports 40. A plate extends across the bottom portion 38 and has holes configured for attachment to the bottom one of the members 22. Extending up from the bottom plate of the bottom portion are channels that define parallel slots 60. The parallel slots 60 are aligned with the slots 54 defined in the top portion 42 and have the same rectangular shape to receive the struts 32 of the handle. 26.
The channels defining the slots 60 extend adjacent to outer side walls 62 of the bottom portion 38. The outer side walls 62 are shaped and positioned to be engaged by the outer guide walls 52 of the top portion 42. In FIGS. 6 and 7, for example, the outer guide walls 52 are slid over the outer side walls 62 to move the top and bottom portions 38, 42 toward and away from each other. This movement switches between compressed and expanded positions.
Referring to the exploded view of FIG. 8, the handle 26 has three main components including three pairs of nested struts 32. Outer struts have the biggest diameter and attach to the bottom cross-bar 58. Nested within the outer struts are middle struts that slidably extend within openings of the square cross-section of the outer struts and attach at the top to a middle cross-bar or grip 64. The inner struts are nested within the middle struts, slidably extending within the openings of the square cross-section of the middle struts. Attached at the top of the inner struts is also a top cross-bar or grip 30. Advantageously, the nesting of the struts 32 allows the handle to telescope high above the container 14 for easy gripping and movement.
The top portion 42 and bottom portion 38 may be adjusted relative to each other between the collapsed position, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 14, and the expanded position, as shown in FIGS. 8 and 15. For example, the top portion 42 may slide along the outer struts 32 of the handle 26 and be locked onto the outer struts at two different positions. A pair of spring loaded pins 66, for example, could extend through the outer struts 32 and the adjacent structure defining the slots 54 in the top portion 42. A pair of holes could be defined in the outer struts 32 at each of a plurality of desired locking positions. For example, two pairs of holes could allow locking at the positions illustrated in FIGS. 7, 8, 14 and 15. For this configuration of the frame 12, the height of the top grip 30 would not change relative to the bottom portion 38 when switching between collapsed and expanded positions, as shown in FIGS. 14 and 15.
As another example, the bottom cross-bar 58 may be connected to the top portion 42, such as by extending between the posts 56 of the top portion 42 of the base 24. This connects the top portion 42 to the cross-bar 58 and the outer struts 32 so that they move as one unit. The outer struts 32 have holes in their distal end that can be matched up with holes in two or more positions in the channels defining the slots 60 in the bottom portion. When matched up, a pair of spring-loaded pins 66 may be dropped in to lock the outer struts 32 and the top portion 42 into position. For example, bottom holes 68 secure the frame 12 in the collapsed condition and top holes 70 may secure the frame in the expanded position. In this example, the cross-bars or grips 30, 58 and 62 are connected to and have the same relative position with respect to the top portion 42.
FIGS. 9, 10 and 16 show a container 14 fit to the frame 12 of FIGS. 6-8 and 14-15. The container 14 includes walls 18 defining a rectangular shape, as shown in FIG. 9. A primary compartment 16 may be accessed via zipper or other closure on one or more of the walls, such as a zipper on the front one of the walls. As shown in FIG. 16, the container may also include an inner frame pocket 72 defined between an inner ply 76 and an outer ply 78 of the container 14. The inner ply may be fitted to the contours of the frame 12 or may be relatively loose and/or smooth inner fabric.
Part of the frame pocket 72 includes a pair of member pockets 74 that are shaped as thin rectangular slots to receive the rectangular plate shaped members 22, as shown in FIG. 16. The inner ply 76 and outer ply 78 may be relatively stiff where defining the member pockets 74 to facilitate attachment of the container 14 to the frame 12.
As shown in FIG. 9, the container 14 may have a back panel 80 that is rectangular and includes a zipper 82. The zipper extends around the periphery of the back panel, starting at one wheel well, extending up the bag, over a top corner, onto the top one of the walls 18, around the handle 26, and back down to the opposite one of the wheel wells. The back panel 80 may also define a slot 84 configured to allow passage of the handle 26 or other secondary access points. Generally, however, the majority of the frame pocket 72 should be relatively inaccessible with the zipper 82 in a closed position.
As shown in FIG. 10, unzipping the back panel 80 reveals an opening of sufficient size to slide the container over the frame 12. This includes sliding the members 22 into the member pockets 74 and the frame 12 into the rest of the frame pocket 72. Once the frame 12 is in the frame pocket 72, back panel 80 is pulled over a bottom, rear corner of the bottom portion 38 and over a top, rear corner of the top portion 42. And, the zipper is extended along the aforementioned track and back to the opposite wheel to complete enclosure of the frame 12. An additional flap of fabric may be attached, such as by hook-and-loop tape, to cover the zipper 82 and provide a more finished look, as shown in FIG. 9.
The container 14 may also include additional features to facilitate its transport, conversion between sizes and configurations or for resisting the environment, such as additional handles or feet.
FIGS. 11-13 show another container 14 fit to the frame 12 of FIGS. 6-8 and 14-15. Instead of the back panel 80, the outer liner or ply 78 extends over and connects by fastener (e.g., zipper) to the front peripheral edge of the inner ply 76, as shown in FIG. 12. The outer ply 78 in this configuration provides an improved finish with the seam or zipper consolidated with the front one of the walls 18 zippered to cover the access opening 20 to the primary compartment 16.
A number of aspects of the systems, devices and methods have been described. Nevertheless, it will be understood that various modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosure. Accordingly, other aspects are within the scope of the following claims.
- 10 mobile luggage system
- 12 frame
- 14 container
- 16 primary compartment
- 18 walls
- 20 access opening
- 22 members
- 24 base
- 26 handle
- 28 wheels
- 30 grip
- 32 struts
- 34 pockets
- 36 latches
- 38 bottom portion
- 40 wheel supports
- 42 top portion
- 44 button
- 50 flanges
- 52 outer guide walls
- 54 slots
- 56 posts
- 58 bottom cross-bar
- 60 slots
- 62 outer side walls
- 64 middle cross-bar
- 66 spring loaded pins
- 68 bottom holes
- 70 top holes
- 72 frame pocket
- 74 member pockets
- 76 inner ply
- 78 outer ply
- 80 back panel
- 82 zipper