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United States Patent Application 20080115697
Kind Code A1
Beam; J. Wade May 22, 2008

TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION SYSTEM

Abstract

A table that incorporates a pivoting two-way communication apparatus is provided. An opening in the tabletop is configured to pivotally accommodate a two-way communication system. The table includes at least one supporting member or leg, and a tabletop supported by the leg. The tabletop defines a substantially horizontal surface. The two-way communication system includes a support and a two-way communication apparatus mounted to the support. The support is pivotally connected to the tabletop and pivotable about a substantially horizontal axis between an open position and a closed position. The support includes a surface that is at least substantially co-planar with the horizontal surface of the tabletop when the communication system is in the closed position. In the open position, the two-way communication apparatus extends from the surface of the tabletop.


Inventors: Beam; J. Wade; (Chicago, IL)
Correspondence Address:
    BELL, BOYD & LLOYD, LLP
    P.O. Box 1135
    CHICAGO
    IL
    60690
    US
Serial No.: 562160
Series Code: 11
Filed: November 21, 2006

Current U.S. Class: 108/26; 108/50.02
Class at Publication: 108/26; 108/50.02
International Class: A47B 37/00 20060101 A47B037/00


Claims



1. A communication system comprising:a frame having at least one sidewall, the frame being mountable to a portion of a tabletop;a support pivotally connected to the frame by a plurality of split bearings each defining an interior bore, the support having a first surface, a second surface and pivotable about a central axis between a working position and a storage position, the first surface at least partially exposed when the support is in the storage position, and the second surface at least partially exposed when the support is in the working position; anda two-way communication apparatus mounted to the support.

2. The communication system according to claim 1, wherein the support includes a top member including the first surface and a bottom member including the second surface, the top member and bottom member defining an interior space, and wherein the two-way communication apparatus is mounted to the bottom member.

3. The communication system according to claim 2, wherein when the support is in the storage position, the first surface is substantially parallel with a surface of the tabletop.

4. The communication system according to claim 2, wherein when the support is in the working position, the two-way communication apparatus extends beyond a surface of the tabletop.

5. The communication system according to claim 2, wherein the two-way communication apparatus includes at least one wiring that is routed through an opening in the bottom member and into the interior of the support.

6. The communication system according to claim 2, wherein the two-way communication apparatus includes at least one wiring that is routed through an opening in the bottom member, through the interior space of the support, and through the interior bore of at least one of the bearings.

7. The communication system according to claim 6, wherein the two-way communication apparatus includes a plurality of wirings, at least one of said wirings being routed through a first one of the bearings, and at least a different one of said wirings being routed through a second one of the bearings.

8. The communication system according to claim 1, wherein the frame includes at least one detent that resists pivoting of the support when the support is in either of the working position or the storage position.

9. The communication system according to claim 1, further comprising a rotation obstructer extending from a side of the support and that is contactable with plural portions of the frame, wherein the rotation obstructer limits the pivotal range of the support with respect to the frame to about 180 degrees.

10. The communication system according to claim 9, wherein when the support is pivoted to the working position, the rotation obstructer contacts a first portion of the frame, and wherein when the support is pivoted to the storage position, the rotation obstructer contacts a second portion of the frame.

11. The communication system of claim 1, wherein the two-way communication apparatus is a telephone.

12. A table comprising:at least one leg;a tabletop supported by the legs, the tabletop defining a substantially horizontal surface and having at least one opening; anda communication system accommodated within the opening, the communication system comprising a support and a two-way communication apparatus mounted to the support,the support being pivotally connected to the tabletop and pivotable about a substantially horizontal axis between an open position and a closed position, andthe support including a first member, the first member comprising a melamine based substrate, a buffer layer adhered to the substrate, and a surface veneer adhered to the buffer layer.

13. The table of claim 12, wherein the buffer layer comprises a substantially oil free wood based veneer.

14. The table of claim 13, wherein the wood based veneer is prepared by a process including bleaching the wood, and boiling the wood.

15. The table of claim 12, wherein the buffer layer is adhered to the substrate with an adhesive comprising a urethane prepolymer in a weight percent ranging from about 60% to about 70%, and polymeric MDI in a weight percent ranging from about 30% to about 40%.

16. The table of claim 12, wherein the communication system has a substantially symmetrical cross-sectional shape selected from the group consisting of: square; ovular; circular; and rectangular.

17. A communication system comprising:a table having at least one leg and a tabletop supported by the leg, the tabletop including at least one opening and at least one vertical mounting surface defined by the opening;a square frame having at least one vertical sidewall, the frame mountable to the tabletop by attaching the vertical sidewall of the frame to the vertical mounting surface of the tabletop;a support pivotally connected to the frame about a central axis between a working position and a storage position, the support including a first surface that is at least partially exposed when the support is in the storage position, and a second surface at least partially exposed when the support is in the working position; anda two-way communication apparatus mounted to the support.

18. The communication system of claim 17, wherein the square frame is adjustably mounted to the tabletop with a plurality of securing members, the securing members selected from the group consisting of: screws, bolts, nails, and pins.

19. A table comprising:at least one leg;a tabletop supported by the legs, the tabletop defining a substantially horizontal surface and having at least one opening; anda communication system accommodated within the opening, the communication system comprising a support and a two-way communication apparatus mounted to the support,the support being pivotally connected to the tabletop and pivotable about a substantially horizontal axis between an open position and a closed position, andthe support comprising a substrate, a buffer layer adhered to the substrate, and a veneer adhered to the buffer layer.

20. The table of claim 19, wherein the substrate comprises melamine.

21. The table of claim 19, wherein the buffer layer comprises a substantially oil free wood based veneer.

22. The table of claim 19, wherein the buffer layer is adhered to the substrate with an adhesive comprising a urethane prepolymer in a weight percent ranging from about 60% to about 70%, and polymeric MDI in a weight percent ranging from about 30% to about 40%.

23. The table of claim 19, wherein the support has a substantially symmetrical cross-sectional shape selected from the group consisting of: square; ovular; circular; and rectangular.
Description



BACKGROUND

[0001]The present disclosure relates generally to a communication system used for two-way audio transmission. More particularly, the present disclosure relates to audio communication systems for use in conducting meetings, teleconferences, and the like.

[0002]Generally, conference tables are used concurrently by multiple persons as a gathering place for information exchange. The tables are typically designed to support writing pads and utensils necessary to facilitate the exchange of information and, in most cases, are designed to support electronic devices to communicate information more efficiently. These electronic devices may include, for example, telephones, computers, monitors, speakers and various audio devices, word processors and play-back devices, as well as the wirings and connectors associated therewith.

[0003]Because modern business meetings typically require the use of several different modes of electronic communication, meetings where multiple electronic devices are required can be problematic because the devices and wirings occupy a large portion of the table. Consequently, available work space for meeting participants is reduced and, therefore, overall meeting efficiency is reduced.

[0004]Moreover, the presence of multiple electronic devices including the wirings and connectors associated therewith, can detract from the overall aesthetic appearance of a workspace. More specifically, increased amounts of clutter on conference tables during meetings can not only decrease communication efficiency but can also create a less aesthetically pleasing environment, which detracts from the efficiency of the meeting.

SUMMARY

[0005]In an embodiment, a two-way communication system is provided. The communication system includes a frame having at least one sidewall, where the frame is mountable to a portion of a tabletop. The communication system also includes a support pivotally connected to the frame by a plurality of split bearings. Each of the split bearings include an interior bore. The support is pivotable about a central axis between a working position and a storage position. The support includes a top member and a bottom member that define an interior space. The top member is at least partially exposed when the support is in the storage position, and the bottom member at least partially exposed when the support is in the working position. The communication system also includes a two-way communication apparatus mounted to the bottom member of the support.

[0006]In an embodiment, when the support of the communication system is in the storage position, a surface of the top member is substantially parallel with a surface of the tabletop. In an embodiment, when the support is in the working position, the two-way communication apparatus extends beyond a surface of the tabletop.

[0007]In an embodiment, the two-way communication apparatus includes at least one wiring that is routed through an opening in the bottom member and into the interior space of the support.

[0008]In an embodiment, the two-way communication apparatus includes at least one wiring that is routed through an opening in the bottom member, through the interior space of the support, and through the interior bore of at least one of the bearings.

[0009]In an embodiment, the two-way communication apparatus includes a plurality of wirings, at least one of said wirings being routed through a first one of the bearings, and at least a different one of said wirings being routed through a second one of the bearings.

[0010]In an embodiment, the frame includes at least one detent that resists pivoting of the support when the support is in either of the working position or the storage position.

[0011]In an embodiment, the communication system further includes a rotation obstructer extending from a side of the support and that is contactable with plural portions of the frame, where the rotation obstructer limits the pivotal range of the support with respect to the frame to about 180 degrees. In an embodiment, when the support is pivoted to the working position, the rotation obstructer contacts a first portion of the frame, and wherein when the support is pivoted to the storage position, the rotation obstructer contacts a second portion of the frame.

[0012]In an embodiment, the two-way communication apparatus comprises a microphone.

[0013]In an embodiment, a table is provided. The table includes at least one supporting member, a tabletop supported by the supporting member, the tabletop defining a substantially horizontal surface and having at least one opening, and a communication system accommodated within the opening. The communication system includes a support and a two-way communication apparatus mounted to the support. The support is pivotally connected to the tabletop and pivotable about a substantially horizontal axis between an open position and a closed position. The support includes a first member which includes a melamine based substrate, a buffer layer adhered to the substrate, and a surface veneer adhered to the buffer layer.

[0014]In an embodiment, the buffer layer includes a substantially oil free wood based veneer.

[0015]In an embodiment, the wood based veneer is prepared by a process including bleaching the wood, and boiling the wood.

[0016]In an embodiment, the buffer layer is adhered to the substrate with an adhesive comprising a urethane prepolymer in a weight percent ranging from about 60% to about 70%, and polymeric MDI in a weight percent ranging from about 30% to about 40%.

[0017]In an embodiment, the communication system has a substantially symmetrical cross-sectional shape selected from the following shapes: square; ovular; circular; and rectangular.

[0018]In an embodiment, a communication system is provided. The communication system includes a table. The table includes at least one supporting member and a tabletop. The tabletop included at least one opening and at least one vertical mounting surface defined by the opening. The communication system also includes a square frame having at least one vertical sidewall, the frame mountable to the tabletop by attaching the vertical sidewall of the frame to the vertical mounting surface of the tabletop. The communication system also includes a support pivotally connected to the frame about a central axis between a working position and a storage position. The support includes a top member and a bottom member that define an interior space. The top member at least partially exposed when the support is in the storage position, and the bottom member at least partially exposed when the support is in the working position. The communication system also includes a two-way communication apparatus mounted to the bottom member of the support.

[0019]In an embodiment, the square frame is adjustably mounted to the tabletop with a plurality of securing members. The securing members may be: screws, bolts, nails, and pins.

[0020]In an embodiment, a table is provided that includes at least one supporting member and a tabletop supported by the supporting member. The tabletop has a substantially horizontal surface and at least one opening. The table also includes an audio amplification system accommodated within the opening, the communication system comprising a support and a two-way communication apparatus mounted to the support. The support is pivotally connected to the tabletop about a substantially horizontal axis between an open position and a closed position. The support includes a substrate, a buffer layer adhered to the substrate, and a veneer adhered to the buffer layer.

[0021]In an embodiment, the substrate comprises melamine. In an embodiment, the buffer layer comprises a substantially oil free wood based veneer. In an embodiment, the buffer layer is adhered to the substrate with an adhesive comprising a urethane prepolymer in a weight percent ranging from about 60% to about 70%, and polymeric MDI in a weight percent ranging from about 30% to about 40%.

[0022]Additional features are described herein, and will be apparent from, the following Detailed Description and the figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0023]FIG. 1 is a perspective view illustrating an embodiment of a table having a communication system in the open or working position;

[0024]FIG. 2 is a side view illustrating an embodiment of a table having a communication system in the closed or storage position;

[0025]FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view illustrating an embodiment of the support of the communication apparatus in a unassembled state;

[0026]FIG. 4 is a perspective view illustrating the support of FIG. 4 in an assembled state;

[0027]FIG. 5 is a perspective view illustrating an embodiment of the frame of the communication system;

[0028]FIG. 6 is a perspective view illustrating an embodiment of the support of FIG. 4 pivotally mounted in the frame of FIG. 5;

[0029]FIG. 7 is a perspective view illustrating an embodiment of the communication system where the support is partially pivoted between the storage position and the working position, the support being pivoted about a central pivoting axis; and

[0030]FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view illustrating an embodiment of the support, where a member of the support is multilayered.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0031]The present disclosure relates to tables, communication systems that are intended to be incorporated within a tabletop, and methods for conducting business meetings. As used in the present description, the expression "tabletop" means any surface that is elevated and designed to afford an individual the ability to utilize the surface for work, eating, or similar activities, including surfaces defined by tables, desks, end tables, coffee tables, or conference tables. For example, the tabletop could include a large conference table that is 40-60 feet in length and has a plurality of communications systems embedded within or mounted to the tabletop, thereby providing a conference table wherein a number of people may be seated about the periphery of the table, and have a separate communication system available for their use.

[0032]As illustrated in FIG. 1, an embodiment of a table is generally designated by the numeral 10. The table 10 includes at least one supporting member 12 and a tabletop 14 having a horizontal surface 16 and at least one opening 18. The supporting member 12 in the illustrated embodiment comprises two table legs. However, it should be appreciated that any number of table legs or other suitable supporting structures may be used that provide for an elevated tabletop 14.

[0033]The table 10 includes one opening 18 that is configured to accommodate a two-way communication system 20. In addition, the table may include one or more additional electronic or peripheral devices 22 that may or may not be connected to the separate audio amplification systems 20. In one example, the peripheral device 22 may be an audio amplification device or microphone or other communication apparatus. In FIG. 1, the opening 18 is illustrated to be of a substantially square cross-sectional configuration. However, while the opening 18 is shown in a substantially square cross-sectional configuration, it should be appreciated that other geometric shapes are possible that allow for a pivoting motion of a two-way communication system 20 embedded in the surface 16 of the table 10. For example, the opening 18 may be substantially ovular, circular, rectangular, or any other suitable geometric shape. In an embodiment, the shape of the opening 18 should be symmetrical to allow for a 180 degree pivot between a working position and a storage position. More generally, the opening 18 should be a shape that corresponds to a shape of a working surface and a shape of the storage surface, such that when the two-way communication system 20 is pivoted from one position to another, the working surface and the storage surface substantially fit within the opening 18.

[0034]As illustrated in FIG. 2, the two-way communication system 20 is in the storage or closed position. Therefore, the two-way communication apparatus 26 is hidden or located under the surface 16 of the tabletop 14. In this position, a surface 78 of the two-way communication system 20 is substantially parallel and co-planar with the surface of the tabletop 14 to allow for increased workspace to the user or users. In an embodiment, the surface is also aesthetically pleasing and may also have a surface characteristic similar to the surface of the tabletop. As shown in FIG. 1, the two-way communication system 20 is in the working or open position. Thus, the two way communication apparatus 26 or telephone is available for use and it extends from the surface 16 of the tabletop 14.

[0035]Although the table 10 in FIG. 1 is illustrated to accommodate a single two way communication system, it should be appreciated that the table 10 may include any suitable number of systems. In an embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1, the two-way communication system 20 is shown to be embedded within the opening 18 of tabletop 14. The two-way communication system 20 includes at least one member or frame 50 (see, FIG. 5) that is mountable to a portion of a tabletop 14 corresponding to the opening 18. The two-way communication system also includes a support 70 pivotally connected to the frame 50.

[0036]In an embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 4, the support 70 is a square shaped planar member composed of an first member 100 and a second member 104. However, it should be appreciated that in other embodiments, the support may include any suitable number of pieces. For example, in another embodiment, the support may be a single piece with one or more channels bored into the interior such that one or more pathways are formed that allow one or more wirings to be routed from the two-way communication apparatus through the interior of the support.

[0037]In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 3, the support 70 includes a first member 100 having a surface 78 that is exposed or viewable when the two way communication system is pivoted into the storage or closed position. The support 70 also includes a second member 104 having a surface 76 that is exposed or viewable when the two-way communication system is in the open or working position. In an embodiment, a circular bore 90 is formed through the second member 104. In addition, a circular recess 92a is formed at least partially into the second member 104 from an interior side of the second member 104. Likewise, a circular recess 92b is formed into the interior surface of the first member 100. Grooves or channels 94a and 94b are formed into the interior portions of the first member 100 and second member 104. In one embodiment, these channels 94a and 94b are formed from the center of the first and second members to the periphery of the members. Thus, when the first member 100 and second member 104 are attached to each other by, for example screws 97 and brackets 98, as illustrated in FIG. 4, a suitable channel 96 is formed. Thus a suitable pathway is formed from the surface 76 of the second member 104 to the sidewalls 94 of the support 70. Accordingly, one or more wirings 68 from the two-way communication apparatus 26, such a power cord, can be routed from the audio amplification apparatus 26, through the opening 90, through the channel 96 and out the sides 94 of the fully assembled support 70. In this fashion, the wires are not visible to a user and are still capable of being routed to the appropriate power source or data line.

[0038]In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 3, the first and second members 100, 104 of the support further include a plurality of channels 99 formed into the interior surfaces of the members. When the first and second member are attached, the channels 99 form a plurality of cylindrical bores that each accommodate a bearing such as a split bearing 56 (see also, FIG. 4).

[0039]The support 70 may also include one or more grooves 73 formed into the sidewall 94. In one example, as best illustrated in FIG. 2, a slight chamfer is applied to the interior edges of first member 100 and second member 104, such that when they are attached together the edges form the groove 73, as shown in FIG. 4. This groove or grooves 73 mate with the spring loaded detent 51 (see, FIG. 5) when the support is rotated into one of the storage position or the working position. The detent 51 thus restricts pivotal motion of the support to a certain extent.

[0040]In an embodiment, as shown in FIG. 5, the frame 50 is a square frame having four sides 64 and mounted to four edges of the tabletop as defined by the opening 18 in the tabletop 14. The four sides of the frame may be separate pieces that are screwed together at the ends to form the four sided frame. In another embodiment, the frame is formed from a single piece. Although the frame 50 is illustrated in FIG. 5 to be square, it should be appreciated that the frame 50 may be any suitable shape and generally corresponds to the shape of the opening 18. For example, if the opening is circular, the frame would also be circular. In an embodiment, the circular frame is a single piece.

[0041]In an embodiment, the frame 50 is attached to the tabletop 14 using fastening means 97 (as shown in FIG. 6) including, but not limited to, screws, nails, nuts or bolts. For example, FIG. 5 shows a frame 50 having a plurality of openings 54 that can accommodate a bolt or screw or other suitable fastener. The frame 50 may be removable from the tabletop 14 or integral with the tabletop 14.

[0042]As shown in FIG. 5, the frame 50 includes two openings 62. In an embodiment, each of the openings 62 are circular and accommodate a split bearing 56. The split bearings 56 are rotatable within the openings 62. Moreover, both of the split bearings 56 are rotatable about a common central pivotal axis 58. The bearings 56 function, at least in part, to pivotally support the main support 70 of the communication system 20, as described in further detail below.

[0043]As shown in FIG. 6, in an embodiment, the split bearings 56 comprise an interior bore 66. One or more wirings 68 from the two-way communication apparatus 26 are routed through the interior bore 66 of the split bearing 56. It should be appreciated that it is not required that the bearings are split bearings. For example, the bearings may be a single piece bearing having an interior bore. In another embodiment, the wires from the telephone are guided through the split bearing 56 and are also secured or fixed to the split bearing 56. In another embodiment, the wirings 68 are not fed through an interior bore of a bearing and are simply fed through another opening (not shown) in the frame 50.

[0044]As best illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7, the support 70 is pivotally attached to the frame 50 at two pivot points corresponding the location of the split bearings 56. In an embodiment, the bearings 56 are at least partially inserted into circular recesses formed by the combination of channels 99 (see also, FIG. 3) formed into the sides of the support 70. Therefore, the bearings 56 provide support for the support 70 and allow the support 70 to pivot about the central pivotal axis 58, where the central pivotal axis 58 is substantially horizontal and parallel to the surface 16 of the tabletop 14. In one embodiment, the central pivotal axis 58 is also located slightly below the surface 16 of the tabletop 14 by a distance generally corresponding to half of the thickness of the support 70. That is, when the support 70 is pivoted to the working position, the surface 76 is substantially parallel with the surface 16 of the tabletop 14. Similarly, it is desired that when the support 70 is pivoted to the storage or closed position, that the surface 78 is substantially parallel with the surface 16 of the tabletop. Accordingly, the surface 78 is exposed when the communication apparatus 20 is in the storage position or closed position and the surface 76 is exposed when the support is pivoted 180 degrees into the working or open or operating position.

[0045]In an embodiment, the telephone or other suitable two-way communication apparatus 26 is mounted to the surface 76 of the support 70 such that the two-way communication apparatus is hidden when in the storage position (see, FIG. 2) and is available for use when pivoted to the operating position (see, FIG. 1). In an embodiment, the two-way communication apparatus 26 includes a telephone having a dialing input, one or more speakers and a microphone. The two-way communication apparatus 26 is appropriately sized to fit on the surface 76 of the support 70.

[0046]In an embodiment, as shown in FIG. 5, the frame 50 includes one or more detents 51 for securing the support 70 in either the working position or the storage position. In one example, a spring loaded detent 51 is screwed into a wall 64 of the frame 50. Corresponding recesses or notches 73 are formed into the sidewall of the support 70 (see, FIG. 4). Therefore, when the support 70 is pivoted about the central pivoting axis 58 into the storage or closed position, the detent 51 mates with the channel 73 to maintain the support 70 in a relatively stable pivotal position. Similarly, when the support 70 is pivoted about the central pivoting axis 58 into the working or open position, the detent 51 mates with a different channel formed in the support 70 to maintain the support 70 in a relatively stable pivotal position.

[0047]In one embodiment, the user can release the support 70 from the locked position by tapping, depressing or otherwise releasing the detent 51. After the support 70 has been released, the user can then pivot the support 70 into either the working position or the storage position. These embodiments allow the support 70 to remain in a stable position and also facilitate the user in pivoting the support 70 from one position to another. In other embodiments, the communication system 20 includes a drive or motor (not shown) that causes the support 70 to pivot to a different position after the user has released the support from a starting position.

[0048]In an embodiment, as shown in FIG. 5, the frame 50 is a square frame having four sides, the frame being mounted to the tabletop as described above. In this embodiment, two of the sides include recessed portions 60a, 60b on an interior side of the frame 50. As shown in FIG. 5, the recesses are formed only part of the way through the frame in the vertical direction. A first one of the recessed portions 60a accommodates a pin 72 or other suitable protrusion extending from the support 70 and functions as a hard stop when the support 70 is pivoted into the working position. A second one of the recessed portions 60b accommodates the same pin 72 or another pin and functions as a hard stop when the plate is pivoted into the storage position. That is, the hard stops function to obstruct the support 70 from pivoting beyond a maximum pivotal range of about 180 degrees. This reduces the amount of twisting of the wires, where the wires are routed from the two-way communication apparatus and through the interior bore 66 of the split bearing 56.

[0049]In an embodiment, the opening in the tabletop 14 is a rectangular opening sized to accommodate the communication system 20. The rectangular opening defines four walls or mounting surfaces (not shown) that a have a thickness corresponding to the thickness of the tabletop. These four walls include threaded openings for mounting the frame 50. More specifically, the sidewalls 64 of the square frame 50 of the support include several openings 54 corresponding to the openings in the four mounting surfaces in the tabletop. Any suitable attaching means such as screws, pins, dowels, or bolts are fed through the holes 54 in order to mount the frame 50 to the tabletop 14. Therefore, the frame 50 is side-mounted to the walls of the tabletop. It should be appreciated that where the opening in the tabletop 14 is circular or ovular or any suitable shape that the frame is a corresponding shape and would similarly include holes for side-mounting the frame to the tabletop 14. In one embodiment, the holes 54 of the frame 50 are countersunk and accept a screw with a tapered head. In this embodiment, the screws are substantially flush with or slightly recessed from the inside surfaces of the sidewalls 64 of the frame 50. This allows the support 70 to freely pivot within the frame 50 without interfering with the mounting bolts or screws.

[0050]In an embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 4, the support 70 includes an interior portion such as a channel 96 for housing and/or guiding one or more wires 68 leading from the two-way communication apparatus 26 or telephone to an interior or underside of the tabletop 14. In an embodiment, the support 70 is a split platform that includes two sections that define an interior channel 96, as illustrated in FIG. 4. The wires include one or more of the following: a telephone wire; a power cord; and a network cable such as an Ethernet wire. The wires 68 are guided from the bottom of the two-way communication apparatus 26 or telephone, into the interior of the support 70 through an opening 90 in the surface 76 of the support 70, as illustrated in FIG. 3. As shown in FIG. 6, the wires 68 are then guided through the interior bore 66 of the split bearing 56, thereby also passing through the opening 62 in the frame 50. The wires 68 continue to be routed under the tabletop 14 for connection to a power source or a data communication jack.

[0051]Although the support 70 has been described above as including two main components or members, it should be appreciated that the support 70 may be a single piece or may include three or more components, such that the wires 68 from the two-way communication apparatus 26 can be suitably routed therein.

[0052]As illustrated in FIG. 7, the support 70 and frame 50 are shown where the support is pivoted partway between the storage position and the working position. The channels 60a, 60b formed into the frame 50 function as a hard stop that restrict the support 70 from being pivoted beyond a pivotal range of approximately 180 degrees. Thus, the stress on the wirings 68 from twisting is reduced.

[0053]In an embodiment, the support 70 includes at least one melanine based substrate having a surface coating or layer 76 or veneer applied thereto. In one embodiment, the surface layer 76 includes a composite veneer. In this example, the surface 76 is attached or affixed or adhered to the melanine based substrate. Any suitable adhesive, glue or other suitable affixing medium may be used. It should be appreciated that the substrate of the top member 100 may comprise any suitable materials such as polymer based materials, resins, wood, ceramics or the like. In an example, the surface 76 has an artificial wood grain appearance. In further examples, the surface 76 may be marble, faux leather, wood or any other suitable surface material. As mentioned above, the one-way audio amplification apparatus 26 or microphone is fixed or mounted to the surface 76 of the support 70, such that the audio amplification apparatus 26 extends above the surface 16 of the tabletop 14 for use.

[0054]The other surface 78 of the support 70 includes a table coating having a composite veneer. In this example, the surface 78 is attached or affixed or adhered to the melanine based substrate as well. Any suitable adhesive, glue or other suitable affixing medium may be used. It should be appreciated that the surface 78 may be marble, faux leather, wood or any other suitable surface material, as described above with reference to the surface 76. Alternatively, the surface 78 can include other suitable materials having appropriate cosmetic or tactile appeal to the users.

[0055]In an embodiment, the communication system 20 includes a switch or switching device (not shown) that activates the power such that when a user pivots the support 70 from the storage position to the working or open position the audio amplification system powers on. In one example, when the support 70 is pivoted into the working position, the support 70 completes an electrical circuit to cause the communication system 20 to turn on or power up. Similarly, when the support 70 is pivoted away from the working position, the electrical circuit is broken and the communication system 20 is powered down. The switching device may be a mercury switch, a roller ball or any other suitable electrical switching device that operates, at least in part, based on gravity. In other embodiments, the communication system 20 may be powered on even when the support 70 is pivoted to the storage or closed position.

[0056]In one embodiment, as illustrated in FIG. 8, the support 70 includes at least one member that is a layered member 210. The layered member includes a substrate 208, a first adhesive layer 206, a buffer layer 204, a second adhesive layer 202, and a surface layer 200. In one embodiment, the substrate is comprised of melamine or a melamine based material. Melamine is a material generally characterized by the formula C.sub.3H.sub.6N.sub.6 and has the following chemical structure:

[0057]Melamine is used to produce melamine resin, which when combined with formaldehyde produces a very durable thermoset plastic. This thermoset plastic has a relatively low density, is easily machinable and highly durable. Accordingly, the melamine based substrate is suitable for use in the pivoting support member 70. However, there is a difficultly in directly adhering the surface layer 200 or surface veneer directly to the melamine substrate 208. Accordingly, a buffer layer 204 or adhesion layer is first applied to the melamine substrate 208 with a suitable adhesive 206.

[0058]In one embodiment, the buffer layer 204 is a preprocessed wood based veneer. In one example, the preprocessing includes slicing, bleaching and boiling the wood based veneer to substantially remove the oils from the wood. Thus, the buffer layer 204 is a substantially oil free wood based veneer. The wood based veneer may include one or more types of wood, where the wood may be African obiche wood that has been reconstituted according to the above preprocessing methods. However, it should be appreciated that any suitable wood may be used that has suitable adhesion properties to the melamine based substrate 208.

[0059]In one embodiment, the first adhesive layer 206 includes an adhesive sold under the trade name Gorilla Glue.TM.. This adhesive includes, at least in part, a urethane prepolymer and a polymeric MDI (4,4'-Diphenylmethane diisocyanate), where polymeric MDI is a mixture of monomeric MDI, isomeres and a homopolymer. The urethane prepolymer is included in a weight percent ranging from about 60-70% and the polymeric MDI is included in a weight percent ranging from about 30-40%. It should be appreciated that any suitable adhesive may be used in the first adhesive layer provided that the adhesive is suitable for adhering a substantially oil free wood based veneer to a melamine substrate.

[0060]In one embodiment, applying the buffer layer 204 or adhesion layer to the substrate 208 includes wetting the buffer layer 204, applying the adhesive to the buffer layer 204 or the substrate 208 to form the first adhesive layer 206, clamping the buffer layer 204 to the substrate 208, and allowing the adhesive to dry or set for approximately five to eight hours.

[0061]In one embodiment, the second adhesive layer 202 is applied to the upper surface of the buffer layer 204. In an embodiment, the second adhesive layer 202 comprises a polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue. PVA glue is typically referred to as wood glue or carpenter's glue, and has the following chemical structure:

[0062]It should be appreciated that any suitable adhesive may be used in the second adhesive layer 202 that sufficiently bonds the surface layer 200 to the buffer layer 204. In an embodiment, the surface layer 200 is a veneer having a wood grained appearance. The wood grain can be selected to substantially mimic a surface of the tabletop. In another embodiment, the surface layer 200 includes a faux leather covering. It should be appreciated that the surface layer 200 can comprise any suitable material, covering or coating, and may further include aesthetic or tactile characteristics that would be enhance the overall look and feel of the table.

[0063]Accordingly, by providing a buffer layer 204 or adhesive layer between the surface layer 200 and the melamine substrate 208, the surface layer 200 does not peel away or separate from the underlying substrate 208.

[0064]It should be understood that various changes and modifications to the presently preferred embodiments described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Such changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present subject matter and without diminishing its intended advantages. It is therefore intended that such changes and modifications be covered by the appended claims.

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