CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/571,011, filed May 14, 2004, the disclosure of which is incorporated fully herein.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a chair having a negative ion generator, particularly where the negative ion generator is installed largely within the surfaces of the chair.
The benefits of negative ions in the air are well known. As a result, a number of commercial products have been developed that generate negative ions and disperse the negative ions into the air. The available negative ion generators have been relatively expensive and require independent space for installation.
Research indicates that negatively charged ions neutralize pollutants and can have a positive impact on health. Negative ions combine with positively charged ions in the air, such as dust, pollen, and cigarette smoke, and cause those particles to drop from the air. The result is that air near the negative ion generator is made clean.
Although several different negative ion generators are commercially available, they require special placement and installation. Many people would enjoy the benefits of negative ions, but are reluctant to add a new piece of electrical equipment to their residential or business environments. Moreover, the placement of the negative ion generator impacts the area within a room that receives cleaner air because the generators disperse the negative ions most heavily in the area immediately surrounding the generator.
Because people spend a great deal of their time sitting in chairs at home, at work, or at entertainment venues, a need exists for providing clean air in the area where people sit. Moreover, a need exists for achieving cleaner air in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing and convenient. As a result, a need exists for a chair that includes a negative ion generator within the surfaces of the chair.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Although attempts have been made to minimize the proximity between chairs and negative ion generators, such as externally mounting a negative ion generator to the arm of a chair, the placement of the negative ion generators have been conspicuous and lacking in aesthetic appeal. Positioning a negative ion generator within the surfaces of a chair would provide the benefits of negative ions in a space efficient and subtle manner.
The present invention relates generally to a chair system comprising a chair portion and a negative ion generator positioned within the chair portion. This present system overcomes the shortcomings in currently available negative ion generators and chairs by combining both units into a single chair system. The configuration for achieving the combined chair and negative ion generator system can vary widely depending on the type of chair and the preferences of the user of the chair system. Any type of chair that is designed to support a human body may be used to achieve the present system, by either modifying an existing chair to include a negative ion generator, or by designing a new chair to do the same. The type of negative ion generator used is a design choice, as is the particular placement and orientation of the various components of the negative ion generator within the chair. The same concepts and principles may be applied to incorporate the negative ion generator within any type of furniture. A chair system is presented as an example.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present chair system is generally configured such that untreated air surrounding the chair portion will be received into the negative ion generator through an air intake area, wherein the untreated area is processed by the negative ion generator and negative ions are then dispersed into the air through an air exhaust area.
FIGS. 1 a and 1 b are front and side perspective views, respectively, of an exemplary chair system according to the present invention;
FIGS. 2 a and 2 b are front and rear perspective views, respectively, of an exemplary negative ion generator shown positioned within the chair system of FIGS. 1 a and 1 b;
FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of components of an exemplary ion generator and an exemplary headrest portion of a chair;
FIG. 4 is a front perspective view of the components of FIG. 3 in an assembled state;
FIGS. 5 a and 5 b are front perspective views of the headrest shown in FIG. 4, where the negative ion generator mounted within the headrest is partially shown; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIGS. 6 a, 6 b, and 7 are rear views of the headrest of FIG. 4 with the negative ion generator positioned therein.
The present invention overcomes the shortcomings in currently available negative ion generators and chairs by combining both units into a single chair system. The configuration for achieving the combined chair and negative ion generator system can vary widely depending on the type of chair and the preferences of the user of the chair system. For example, any type of existing chair or other types of furniture can be modified to include a negative ion generator, including, but not limited to, reclining chairs, office chairs, massage chairs, fitness chairs, automobile chairs, sofas, restaurant booths, etc. The example of a chair is used herein for sake of conciseness and clarity. One of ordinary skill in the art would understand that the principles of the disclosed invention may be applied to any type of furniture. As used herein the term chair includes any surface suitable to support a person's body in a partially non-linear position (i.e., not lying completely flat in a bed), wherein the chair can receive or accommodate, or be adapted to do so, a negative ion generator. In addition, persons of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that many types of negative ion generators are sufficient for producing negative ions and can be used with any type of chair or other furniture.
The exemplary embodiments disclosed herein are purely illustrative of some options for practicing the present invention and are not limitations on how to practice the invention.
One embodiment of the present system is depicted in FIGS. 1 a and 1 b. As shown, a chair system 10 includes a back rest 12, a seat portion 14, and arms 16. A negative ion generator 18 is positioned in a head rest portion 20 of the back rest 12. The negative ion generator 18 includes an air intake area 22, an ion grid 24, and an air exhaust area 26. FIGS. 2 a and 2 b show the negative ion generator 18 of FIGS. 1 a and 1 b in more detail. The ion generator 18 includes a high voltage transformer 28 that produces a high voltage on the ion grid 24 to generate ions in the surrounding air. Further, the ion generator includes a fan device 30 that assists with distributing the negative ions being dispersed from the ion grid 24. The high voltage transformer 28 and fan device 30 are shown being powered by either an alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC) power supply. The selection of power supply will depend on the expected use and placement of the chair system. For example, the power supply may have a voltage of 120 volts AC or 3 to 50 volts DC (including a DC provided by a battery). The power supply may be used to provide a high voltage generated by the transformer 28 across a set of air gaps in an ion grid 24. In one embodiment, the air gaps may be 4 to 20 mm across. The arching voltage across the gap provided by the transformer may be 120 volts or higher.
Generally, untreated air (not shown) from the area surrounding the chair enters the air intake area 22 and then enters the ion grid 24. After entering the ion grid 24, the voltage across the air gaps in the ion grid provided by the high voltage transformer 28 converts the untreated air into negative ions 32, which are dispersed outwardly by the air duct system and air exhaust ports 26 with the assistance of the fan device 30. The negative ions 32 then begin to perform the function of cleaning the air surrounding the chair system by attaching to other molecules in the air, such as dust and pollutants, and causing those molecules to drop from the air. Thus, the person sitting in the chair system 10 enjoys freshly cleaned air. The configuration of the exhaust air ports 26 provides a wide area of clean air surrounding the chair. The position of the intake port 22 at a position away from the exhaust air ports promotes the generation of a larger and cleaner airspace in the proximity of the chair, even if a fan is not utilized to force air through the system. In contrast, if the intake and exhaust ports were in close proximity to one another the same air would tend to be recycled through the system.
The negative ion generator 18 of FIGS. 1 a to 2 b is shown positioned within a backrest of the chair system. The air intake and air exhaust portions of the ion generator are shown corresponding to two surfaces of the backrest, namely a seating surface and an exterior surface that faces opposite the seating surface. Generally, the seating surface faces towards the user of the chair system and the exterior surface faces away from the user. The air intake area is shown positioned inside the exterior surface and facing away from the user, which means that untreated air surrounding the chair system is drawn into the ion generator from the exterior surface. Similarly, the air exhaust area is shown positioned within the seating surface of the backrest, such that the untreated air drawn into the air intake area will pass through the ion grid and exit the ion generator through the air exhaust area in the form of negative ions. It is understood that the positioning and directions of the air intake and air exhaust areas relative to the surfaces of the chair and the user can be changed and varied. This is also true for the other components of the particular negative ion generator that is selected for use with the present invention.
An exemplary embodiment of the ion generator 18 having a structure adapted for mounting within a headrest 20 of the chair system 10 is shown in FIGS. 3 to 7. FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the components of the exemplary ion generator 18 and headrest 20. The ion generator 18 is shown having an ion grid 34, a fan 36, and a transformer 38, which correspond to the same components described for FIGS. 1 a to 2 b. The ion generator also includes an air intake port 40, an air ducting 42, and air exhaust ports 44. The ion generator is also shown having air ducting caps 46, which serve to enclose recesses within the air ducting 42, thereby forming channels for air to pass through. With respect to he headrest 20, it is shown having a seating surface cover 48, which faces the user when the user is sitting in the chair system. The headrest also includes a pad 50, which provides comfort padding for the headrest. The foam pad 50 is shown having optional recesses 52 that are adapted to receive the air ducting 42 of the ion generator. The headrest also includes an exterior surface cover 54 which surrounds the pad 50 and portions of the ion generator, such that the a uniform exterior surface is formed by the joining of the seating surface cover 48 and the exterior surface cover 54. The exterior surface cover is shown having a window 56, which allows the air intake port 40 to be exposed for receiving air surrounding the chair system.
FIG. 4 shows a front perspective view of the components of FIG. 3 in an assembled state. The figure shows the seating surface cover 48 of the headrest 20, as well as the air exhaust ports 44 of the ion generator 18. Also shown is an optional external pillow 58, which can be added or removed from the headrest at the user's discretion. The headrest 20 shown in FIGS. 3 to 7 is designed for use as part of a chair disclosed and claimed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,012,774 entitled “Reclining Chair With Guide Rail System,” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. This patented chair is simply one example of a chair that can be adapted to include a negative ion generator according to the present invention. Thus, the headrest 20 and ion generator 18 shown in FIGS. 4 to 7 are merely examples of one possible configuration for use with the patented chair. These in no way limit the broad application of the present invention, which clearly teaches use of multiple types of negative ion generators with multiple types of chairs.
FIGS. 5 a and 5 b are front perspective views of the headrest 20 shown in FIG. 4, where the negative ion generator 18 mounted within the headrest is partially shown. FIG. 5 a shows the optional external pillow 58, where FIG. 5 b does not. These Figures show that the air ducting, the ion grid, and the fan are positioned within the headrest, and that only the air exhaust ports would be visible when looking at the seating surface cover of the headrest.
FIGS. 6 a, 6 b, and 7 are rear views of the headrest 20 shown in FIG. 4. Specifically, FIG. 6 a shows a perspective view of the headrest where the air intake port 40 is visible and the other components mounted within the headrest are not shown. This view is what a user looking at the exterior seat cover 54 of the headrest would see. FIG. 6 b is the same view as FIG. 6 a, except the internal portion of the headrest is made visible, which reveals the ion generator mounted therein. This is similar to the view shown in FIG. 5 b. FIG. 6 b shows the air ducting spanning the inside of the headrest such that air that enters the air intake port will travel through the air ducting and exist through the air exhaust ports in the seat surface of the headrest. FIG. 7 is the same view as FIG. 6 b, except the air intake port 40 is removed to further show the ion grid 34, the fan 36, and the transformer 38.
The configuration of the negative ion generator and the chair that are used to form the combined system can be varied significantly. Some example variations include use of a forced air system, such as in the above exemplary embodiments, where a fan device is used to force air through the ion generator. In the forced air system, a number of options exist including use of AC or DC power supply, a high or low voltage, and a propeller or impeller fan. Also, the ion generator can use a passive airflow system where air is not forced by electrodes, or a semi-passive airflow system where the air is moved past electrodes by physically flexing or pumping a pillow, much like lungs. The physical flexing or compression of the pillow or similar structure in the chair may be caused by a user sitting in the chair such that the movements of the user cause the pumping of air through the system. Similarly, as noted above, the particular type of chair and where the components of the negative ion generator are positioned within the chair is variable.
Generally, it is desirable to maximize the amount of the negative ion generator that is positioned within the chair and to minimize the amount of the negative ion generator that protrudes beyond the surfaces of the chair. This applies for chairs having a preexisting structure that may be modified to include a negative ion generator, as well as chairs that are designed with the intention of including a negative ion generator. This creates an aesthetically pleasing chair system because a user does not have to look at an unsightly external ion generator, and it efficiently uses space occupied by the chair by providing the chair with an additional function.