Traitement en cours

Veuillez attendre...

Paramétrages

Paramétrages

Aller à Demande

1. WO2011057142 - PROCÉDÉ ET APPAREIL DE COMMANDE DE TEMPÉRATURE D'ARTICLE CHAUSSANT

Note: Texte fondé sur des processus automatiques de reconnaissance optique de caractères. Seule la version PDF a une valeur juridique

[ EN ]

FOOTWEAR TEMPERATURE CONTROL METHOD AND APPARATUS

Cross-Reference to Related Application

[0001] The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/258,554, filed November 5, 2009, entitled FOOTWEAR

TEMPERATURE CONTROL METHOD AND APPARATUS, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

Technical Field

[0002] Embodiments herein relate to footwear, such as a boots and shoes, and in particular to footwear having a removable element, such as a liner, bootie, or insole, that includes temperature control elements for controllably regulating and/or altering the temperature of the footwear and thus the wearer's foot.

Background

[0003] Footwear often is worn in conditions where temperature fluctuations can have a significant impact on the comfort and safety of the wearer. To help keep the wearer's foot warm in cold environments, footwear typically includes various insulating materials. While somewhat effective, insulation alone may not be sufficient to maintain a safe, much less comfortable, foot temperature in severe cold environments. Further, insulated footwear can be problematic in warmer

environments or in situations where the wearer is exerting a great deal of energy, as it traps heat and moisture and may cause overheating of the foot. Additionally, individuals with circulatory problems such as peripheral artery disease or Raynaud's phenomenon may have difficulty regulating foot temperature, particularly in cold environments.

[0004] Systems have been developed wherein electrical heating systems are integrated into the body of the footwear and powered by a portable power supply. However, these heating systems are highly susceptible to failure. For example, the heating elements can be fragile and may break easily. When the conductive path is broken, heated footwear is rendered inoperable. Due to the integrated nature of the heating components in the footwear, once broken, these systems are either not repairable or are too costly to repair. Further, integrating the heating elements in the footwear presents significant manufacturing difficulties, as placement of the elements in the footwear's upper, midsole, or outsole is labor intensive and requires precision stitching to avoid damage to the conductors.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0005] Embodiments will be readily understood by the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. Embodiments are illustrated by way of example and not by way of limitation in the figures of the accompanying drawings.

[0006] Figures 1A, 1 B, and 1 C illustrate top (Figure 1A), bottom (Figure 1 B), and side (Figure 1 C) views of a removable liner for use in footwear, in accordance with various embodiments;

[0007] Figure 2 illustrates a perspective view of a removable liner and foot bed, in accordance with various embodiments;

[0008] Figures 3A and 3B illustrate views of an electrical coupling mechanism for use with a removable liner, in accordance with various embodiments;

[0009] Figures 4A - 4D illustrate exploded (Figure 4A), top (Figure 4B), side (Figure 4C), and bottom (Figure 4D) views of a removable liner, in accordance with various embodiments;

[0010] Figures 5A-5D illustrate an exploded view of an electrical coupling mechanism (Figure 5A), and a top view (Figure 5B), a bottom view (Figure 5C), and a side view (Figure 5D) of a removable liner with an electrical coupling mechanism, in accordance with various embodiments;

[0011] Figure 6 illustrates a schematic diagram of several of the components of an exemplary footwear temperature control system, in accordance with various embodiments; and

[0012] Figures 7A-7C illustrate a left lateral view (Figure 7A), right lateral view (Figure 7B), and rear view (Figure 7C) of an example of footwear that includes an embodiment of a temperature control element.

Detailed Description of Embodiments

[0013] In the following detailed description, reference is made to the

accompanying drawings which form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustration embodiments that may be practiced. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural or logical changes may be made without departing from the scope. Therefore, the following detailed description is not to be taken in a limiting sense, and the scope of embodiments is defined by the appended claims and their equivalents.

[0014] Various operations may be described as multiple discrete operations in turn, in a manner that may be helpful in understanding embodiments; however, the order of description should not be construed to imply that these operations are order dependent.

[0015] For the purposes of the description, a phrase in the form "A B" or in the form "A and/or B" means (A), (B), or (A and B). For the purposes of the description, a phrase in the form "at least one of A, B, and C" means (A), (B), (C), (A and B), (A and C), (B and C), or (A, B and C). For the purposes of the description, a phrase in the form "(A)B" means (B) or (AB) that is, A is an optional element.

[0016] The description may use the terms "embodiment" or "embodiments," which may each refer to one or more of the same or different embodiments.

Furthermore, the terms "comprising," "including," "having," and the like, as used with respect to embodiments, are synonymous.

[0017] In various embodiments temperature controlled footwear is provided, wherein a removable liner, such as a sock liner, foot bed, insole, bootie, etc., may include a temperature control element (referred to herein as a "TCE") disposed therein. When coupled to a portable power supply (e.g., a battery or power cell, etc.), the TCE may be adapted to raise and/or lower the temperature of the liner, thus raising and/or lowering the temperature of the footwear as perceived by a wearer's foot. In some embodiments, electrical contact elements may be disposed in or on an exterior portion of the liner and may be configured to contact

corresponding electrical contact elements positioned in or on the body of the footwear, for example on an upper portion of the foot bed or on the midsole, outsole, etc., to facilitate electrical coupling and control of a portable power supply and the TCE.

[0018] The TCE may include heating elements, cooling elements, or a combination thereof. In some embodiments, the heating elements may be metallic based conductors that are inlaid, etched, or printed on a substrate that is coupled to the liner. In some embodiments, the heating and/or cooling elements may include one or more piezoelectric and/or thermoelectric heaters and/or coolers that may control the temperature of the liner.

[0019] In various embodiments, a controller, a power source, an actuator, and/or a temperature regulator may be electrically coupled to the TCE and adapted to regulate the power supply so as to control the temperature of the liner as desired. The temperature regulator and power source may be disposed on the footwear such that the liner temperature may be controlled by the wearer by manipulating a setting, for instance on the controller, or it may be remotely controlled, for instance using a wired or wireless interface. In other embodiments, the liner temperature may be controlled automatically using a thermostat.

[0020] Figures 1A, 1 B, and 1 C illustrate an example of a footwear liner and TCE in accordance with various embodiments. In various embodiments, liner 10 may be sized to removably engage with footwear having a variety of shapes and configurations. As illustrated, liner 10 may include a TCE 20 disposed therein and configured to provide a heat source and/or cooling source. In various embodiments, TCE 20 may include one or more conductors 22 that may be strategically patterned about at least a portion of liner 10. As illustrated in Figure 1A, in some

embodiments, the distribution of conductor 22 may be concentrated in a forward or ball/toe portion of the liner. This may be an advantageous configuration, as the toes and/or forefoot typically are the portions of the foot that become cold or overheated due to reduced circulation. In other embodiments, conductor 22 may substantially cover the entire surface of liner 10, providing heating or cooling to the entire foot, or may be positioned in both the heel and toe regions of liner 22 or in other zones or patterns, as desired. In embodiments having both heating and cooling elements, heating and cooling conductors 22 may be interlaced, alternating, adjacent, or positioned in different regions of liner 10.

[0021] In various embodiments, conductor 22 may be carried by a substrate, such as cross-linked polyethylene (PEX), polyimide (PI), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC), polyolefins (such as polyethylene),

thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), thermoplastic urethanes (TPU), ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA), or another substrate that is generally thin, flexible, and generally not susceptible to temperature fluctuations. Conductor 22 may include, for example, metal wires or metallic based traces that may be deposited, etched, printed, and/or molded into the substrate. In some embodiments, other conductive materials may be used, such as conductive fabrics having, for example, silver ion or copper threads. In various embodiments, conductor 22 may extend to and/or terminate at a

contact group 28 that may include contacts 24 and 26 that may be, for example, positive and negative electrical terminals.

[0022] As illustrated in Figures 1A and 1 B, in some embodiments, TCE 20 may be positioned on an upper surface 13 of liner 10, and contact group 28 may be disposed on a lower or bottom surface 15 of liner 10. Thus, as shown in Figure 1C, TCE 20 may pass through liner 10 from upper surface 13 to lower surface 15, for instance via slot 21. As further illustrated in Figures 2A and 2B, in various embodiments, contact group 28 may be disposed on lower surface 15 of liner 10 and may be further adapted to engage corresponding contact group 38, which may be coupled to the body of the footwear, for instance, in foot bed 30 (see also Figures 3-4), thereby providing an electrical coupling. In some embodiments, contact group 38 may include corresponding positive and negative electrical contacts 34 and 36, and may be located on any part of the footwear interior that may contact lower surface 15 of liner 10, such as, for instance, the outsole or midsole, or footwear lining. In other embodiments, contacts 34 and 36 or contact group 38 may be disposed about other portions of the footwear interior, such as on the sides or on a rear portion of the footwear, such as near the heel. Additionally, in some embodiments, an electrical conduit 31 and an optional quick-release electrical coupling 33 may be provided in order to couple electrical contacts 34 and 36 with a power source, controller, actuator, or other component.

[0023] In various embodiments, electrical contacts 24, 26, 34, and 36 may be made of any suitable metallic or non-metallic, yet conductive material. In some embodiments, contacts 24, 26, 34, and 36 and/or contact groups 28 and 38 may be flexible so as to conform to the bending and flexing of liner 10 and/or the body of the footwear, as well as to accommodate different liner or footwear topography. In various embodiments, contacts 24 and 26 may be adapted to releasably couple to contacts 34 and 36 to each other so as to help resist relative movement and/or separation between corresponding contacts, which may tend to disrupt the electrical conductivity. In one embodiment, for example, a conductive hook-and-loop-type material, such as conductive Velcro™, may be used to make the contact between contacts 24 and 26 on liner 10 and corresponding contacts 34 and 36 on the body of the footwear. In another embodiment, one of contact groups 28 and 38 may be recessed and the other contact groups 28 and 38 protruded to engage the recessed contact group.

[0024] In other embodiments, contacts 24, 26, 34, and 36 may be conductive magnetic contacts as illustrated in Figures 3A and 3B. For example, contacts 24, 26, 34, and/or 36 may be magnetic, such that they couple to each other in a way that resists unintended decoupling. In various embodiments, contacts 24, 26, 34, and 36 may have corresponding male 19 and female 17 locating features that may help ensure a viable electrical coupling is made between the contacts.

[0025] Figures 4A, 4B, 4C and 4D illustrate respective exploded (Figure 4A), top (Figure 4B), side (Figure 4C), and bottom (Figure 4D) views of an exemplary TCE 20 in accordance with various embodiments, and Figures 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D illustrate respective exploded (Figure 5A), top (Figure 5B), bottom (Figure 5C), and side (Figure 5D) views of an example of the corresponding foot bed 30 portion of footwear. As illustrated in Figures 4A, 4B, 4C and 4D, in some embodiments, contacts 24 and 26 may be disposed about a rear portion of TCE 20. As shown in the embodiment illustrated in Figure 4A, conductor 22 may comprise a metallic element, for instance a FeCrAI alloy such as Aludirome™, and may be sandwiched between layers of substrate 23 such as PEX or PI film, to form TCE 20. Contacts 24 and 26 may include magnetic buttons 25 that may couple to an upper side of conductor 22, for instance with an adhesive film 27. Corresponding metal buttons 29 may couple to a lower side of conductor 22, and may be adapted to interface with contacts 34, 36 of foot bed 30.

[0026] As illustrated in Figures 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D, in various embodiments, foot bed 30 of the footwear may have corresponding electrical contacts 34 and 36 disposed on upper surface 42 such that the when liner 10 is placed in the footwear, a contact interface is made between liner contacts 24 and 26 and foot bed contacts 34 and 36, thereby completing an electrical coupling. Once an electrical interface is made, power supplied by a power source (not shown) may energize conductors 22 of TCE 20 (not shown) to provide an increase and/or decrease in liner temperature, thereby altering the temperature of the footwear. As shown in Figure 5A, electrical contacts 34 and 36 may comprise a metallic conductor 33, for instance a FeCrAI alloy such as Aludirome™, and may be sandwiched between layers of substrate 35, such as PEX or PI film. In some embodiments, additional metallic buttons 37 and/or adhesive 39 elements may be positioned under contacts 34 and 36, for instance to act as support members or spacers.

[0027] As illustrated in Figures 4 and 5, liner contacts 24 and 26 and/or foot bed contacts 34 and 36 may be large in size so as to ensure that a solid electrical coupling is made with the corresponding liner/foot bed contacts, as well as to ensure electrical coupling is made and maintained despite shifting of liner 10 or infiltration of water and debris encountered during use. In some embodiments, liner contacts 24 and 26 may have a diameter of greater than or equal to about 0.5 in2.

[0028] Further, in some embodiments, the positioning of contacts 24 and 26 and/or 34 and 36 may be at generally opposite ends or sides of liner 10 and/or foot bed 30. Separating the contacts can help to avoid undesired cross contact and an electrical short of the system. In other embodiments, contacts 24 and 26 and/or 34 and 36 may be positioned generally adjacent to or within closer proximity of one another, as illustrated in Figures 1 and 2. In various embodiments, it may be advantageous for contacts 24 and 26 and/or 34 and 36 to be positioned under the heel and/or ball region of the foot, which may bear the bulk of a wearer's weight during activity. In some embodiments, this positioning may help insure better and more constant contact between the corresponding contacts. Additionally, in some embodiments, the size of liner contact 24 and 26 may be smaller than the size of the foot bed contact 34 and 36. This size differential may help to ensure that liner contact 24 and/or 26 satisfactorily locates and contacts the corresponding foot bed contact 34 and/or 36. In other embodiments, foot bed contacts 34 and 36 may be smaller than liner contacts 24 and 26.

[0029] Figure 6 illustrates a component schematic of various parts of a temperature regulation system in accordance with various embodiments. In various embodiments, TCE 20 may be disposed in a footwear liner (not shown) and may include exposed contact group 28. Corresponding foot bed contact group 38 may be disposed in the footwear (not shown) in a manner that is configured to electrically couple to the contacts of contact group 28 when the liner is inserted into the footwear. The contacts of contact group 38 may be electrically coupled to a controller 50 and a power source 60 both of which may be disposed on the footwear at a desired location. Controller 50 and power source 60 may be separate or integrated components.

[0030] In some embodiments, controller 50 may be an integrated circuit based system that is configured to regulate and control the current provided to TCE 20 by power source 60. An actuator 55 may be electrically coupled to controller 50 and

may be configured with, for example, multiple settings (e.g. high, medium, low, and off). In various embodiments, actuator 55 may be configured to set an electronic thermostat that can regulate the temperature of the liner based on, for example, the internal temperature of the footwear or a predetermined setting. In some

embodiments, power source 60 or controller 50 may be adapted to removably couple to an AC/DC adapter 80, for example via a USB connector 82, for instance to recharge power source 60. In various embodiments, TCE 20, controller 50, power source 60, and actuator 55 may be removably coupled to one another via electrical conduits 31 equipped with quick release couplers 33, mini USB adaptors 61 , or other electrical interfaces or plugs 63 known to those of skill in the art.

[0031] In various embodiments, controller 50 may be programmable to increase the functionality of the temperature controlled footwear. For example, controller 50 may be adapted to couple to a computer or handheld device via a variety of known interface connections 82, 61 (e.g., USB or micro USB). A variety of parameters may then be modified, such as temperature ranges associated with various settings, light/indicator effects, and/or timing cycles. In various

embodiments, a wireless interface component, such as a transceiver, may be coupled to or integrated with controller 50, which may allow a remote control and manipulation of the controller settings.

[0032] In various embodiments, actuator 55 may be removably coupled to the footwear by, for example, retainers 58. A variety of different customized actuators 55 may be used without replacing the footwear. For example, different logos (e.g., college logos, brand names and/or images, sports team logos) may be disposed on controller 50 and may be configured to light in a desired color, such as a color of a school, team, or brand. In some embodiments, actuator 55 may be removably coupled to the footwear in a variety of known ways.

[0033] Figures 7A-7C illustrate a left lateral view (Figure 7A), a right lateral view (Figure 7B), and a rear view (Figure 7C) of an example of footwear that includes an embodiment of a TCE 20. As illustrated in Figures 7A-7C, the footwear may be equipped with receiving pockets, slots, or channels that may accommodate controller 50, power source 60, actuator 55, and electrical connectors and conduits therebetween. For instance, in the illustrated example, controller 50 and power source 60 may be located on one side of a footwear upper, and actuator 55 may be located on the opposite side of the footwear upper. In some embodiments, when

actuator 55 is activated by a user, controller 50 may deliver power from power source 60 to TCE 20, and may cause conductor 22 to activate and provide heat or cooling to liner 10. In some embodiments, controller 50, power source 60, actuator 55, liner 10, and/or the electrical connectors and conduits therebetween may be removed by a user, for instance for cleaning, repair, or replacement of broken, worn, or dirty components. As such, in this embodiment, a single component may be removed for replacement or repair without necessitating the replacement of the entire system. Similarly, in some embodiments, components of the system may be removed from the footwear if the footwear becomes soiled and is in need of cleaning.

[0034] Although certain embodiments have been illustrated and described herein, it will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that a wide variety of alternate and/or equivalent embodiments or implementations calculated to achieve the same purposes may be substituted for the embodiments shown and described without departing from the scope. Those with skill in the art will readily appreciate that embodiments may be implemented in a very wide variety of ways. This application is intended to cover any adaptations or variations of the embodiments discussed herein. Therefore, it is manifestly intended that embodiments be limited only by the claims and the equivalents thereof.