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United States Patent Application 20160120257
Kind Code A1
McCoy; Jennifer May 5, 2016

COOLING INSERT APPARATUS AND METHOD OF USING THE SAME

Abstract

A cooling apparatus is disclosed, and includes a body and a plurality of couplings spaced along the body. The body is formed of a flexible and absorbent polymer material, and is configured to absorb fluid. The plurality of couplings is spaced along the body of the cooling apparatus. A first set of couplings of the plurality of couplings is configured to releasably couple with a second set of couplings of the plurality of couplings.


Inventors: McCoy; Jennifer; (Lake Grove, NY)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

OccuNomix International LLC

Port Jefferson Station

NY

US
Family ID: 1000001444917
Appl. No.: 14/528156
Filed: October 30, 2014


Current U.S. Class: 165/46
Current CPC Class: A42B 3/285 20130101
International Class: A42B 3/28 20060101 A42B003/28

Claims



1. A cooling apparatus, comprising: a body formed of a flexible and absorbent polymer material, the body configured to absorb fluid; a plurality of couplings spaced along the body of the cooling apparatus, a first set of couplings of the plurality of couplings configured to releasably couple with a second set of couplings of the plurality of couplings.

2. The cooling apparatus of claim 1, wherein the absorbent polymer material is a hydrogel.

3. The cooling apparatus of claim 1, wherein the absorbent polymer material is at least partially water-soluble.

4. The cooling apparatus of claim 1, wherein the absorbent polymer material is polyvinyl alcohol.

5. The cooling apparatus of claim 1, wherein the absorbent polymer material comprises a blend of absorbent fibers.

6. The cooling apparatus of claim 5, wherein the blend of absorbent fibers includes polyvinyl alcohol and at least one other absorbent fiber.

7. The cooling apparatus of claim 6, wherein the at least one other absorbent fiber is selected from the group consisting of: acetate, polyester, nylon, polypropylene, and polyethylene.

8. The cooling apparatus of claim 1, wherein the body of the cooling apparatus is formed of a plurality of polymer chains that are configured to cross-link in the presence of fluid.

9. The cooling apparatus of claim 1, wherein the body of the cooling apparatus is configured to absorb a quantity of fluid greater than ten times than a weight of the body of the cooling apparatus.

10. The cooling apparatus of claim 1, wherein the body of the cooling apparatus has a planar configuration.

11. The cooling apparatus of claim 1, wherein the body of the cooling apparatus has a rectangular configuration.

12. The cooling apparatus of claim 1, wherein the body of the cooling apparatus includes an extent extending outwardly therefrom along a plane defined by the body of the cooling apparatus.

13. The cooling apparatus of claim 12, wherein the extent is semicircular.

14. The cooling apparatus of claim 1, wherein the couplings of the plurality of couplings are snaps.

15. The cooling apparatus of claim 1, wherein the first set of couplings of the plurality of couplings includes a protrusion extending therefrom.

16. The cooling apparatus of claim 15, wherein the second set of couplings of the plurality of couplings includes a recess configured to releasably receive the protrusion of the respective couplings of the first set of couplings.
Description



FIELD

[0001] The present invention is directed to an apparatus for facilitating the transfer of heat from a user and/or a surrounding environment to provide cooling relief to a user, and in embodiments, to a wearable apparatus for providing cooling, sweat absorption, and/or otherwise providing comfort and/or relief for a user.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Cooling apparatuses are designed to provide cooling by facilitating heat transfer from a target object and/or surrounding environment, such as a user's body, articles of clothing and/or equipment worn by the user, and/or surrounding air. Cooling apparatuses may be used to provide relief to users operating in heated and/or humid environments, for example, construction workers, soldiers, police, firefighters, or other individuals who may need to operate in hot and/or humid environments and/or who may become overheated in the course of their work.

[0003] During the course of such activities in which cooling apparatuses are used, users may have one or more portions of his or her body covered, for example, by clothing or equipment such as hard hats, helmets, caps, or other headgear.

SUMMARY

[0004] It is an object of the present invention to provide an apparatus for cooling relief to a user by facilitating heat transfer from the body of the user. In embodiments, it is an object of the present invention to provide an apparatus for cooling relief that is configured to be disposed on, along, and/or about an article of clothing or equipment worn by a user.

[0005] According to an exemplary embodiment, a cooling apparatus is disclosed, and comprises a body and a plurality of couplings spaced along the body. The body is formed of a flexible and absorbent polymer material, and is configured to absorb fluid. The plurality of couplings is spaced along the body of the cooling apparatus. A first set of couplings of the plurality of couplings is configured to releasably couple with a second set of couplings of the plurality of couplings.

[0006] In embodiments, the absorbent polymer material is a hydrogel.

[0007] In embodiments, the absorbent polymer material is at least partially water-soluble.

[0008] In embodiments, the absorbent polymer material is polyvinyl alcohol.

[0009] In embodiments, the absorbent polymer material comprises a blend of absorbent fibers.

[0010] In embodiments, the blend of absorbent fibers includes polyvinyl alcohol and at least one other absorbent fiber.

[0011] In embodiments, the at least one other absorbent fiber is selected from the group consisting of: acetate, polyester, nylon, polypropylene, and polyethylene.

[0012] In embodiments, the body of the cooling apparatus is formed of a plurality of polymer chains that are configured to cross-link in the presence of fluid.

[0013] In embodiments, the body of the cooling apparatus is configured to absorb a quantity of fluid greater than ten times than a weight of the body of the cooling apparatus.

[0014] In embodiments, the body of the cooling apparatus has a planar configuration.

[0015] In embodiments, the body of the cooling apparatus has a rectangular configuration.

[0016] In embodiments, the body of the cooling apparatus includes an extent extending outwardly therefrom along a plane defined by the body of the cooling apparatus.

[0017] In embodiments, the extent is semicircular.

[0018] In embodiments, the couplings of the plurality of couplings are snaps.

[0019] In embodiments, the first set of couplings of the plurality of couplings includes a protrusion extending therefrom.

[0020] In embodiments, the second set of couplings of the plurality of couplings includes a recess configured to releasably receive the protrusion of the respective couplings of the first set of couplings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0021] The features and advantages of the present invention will be more fully understood with reference to the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments of the present invention when taken in conjunction with the accompanying figures, wherein:

[0022] FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a cooling apparatus according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

[0023] FIG. 2 is a bottom perspective view of the cooling apparatus of FIG. 1;

[0024] FIG. 3A is a perspective view of the cooling apparatus of FIG. 1 being exposed to fluid;

[0025] FIG. 3B is a first sequential cross-sectional view taken along section line 3-3 of FIG. 3A as the cooling apparatus is exposed to fluid;

[0026] FIG. 3C is a second sequential cross-sectional view taken along section line 3-3 of FIG. 3A as the cooling apparatus is exposed to fluid; and

[0027] FIG. 4A is a first sequential perspective view of the cooling apparatus of FIG. 1 being coupled with a head-mounted accessory;

[0028] FIG. 4B is a second sequential perspective view of the cooling apparatus of FIG. 1 being coupled with a head-mounted accessory; and

[0029] FIG. 4C is a third sequential perspective view of the cooling apparatus of FIG. 1 being coupled with a head-mounted accessory.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

[0030] The headings used herein are for organizational purposes only and are not meant to be used to limit the scope of the description or the claims. As used throughout this application, the words "may" and "can" are used in a permissive sense (i.e., meaning having the potential to), rather than the mandatory sense (i.e., meaning must). Similarly, the words "include," "including," and "includes" mean including but not limited to. To facilitate understanding, like reference numerals have been used, where possible, to designate like elements common to the figures.

[0031] Turning to FIG. 1, a top perspective view of a cooling apparatus is generally designated as 100. Cooling apparatus 100 is formed of a body 110 and has an outer periphery 112 that extends along the boundary of the overall shape of the cooling apparatus 100. In embodiments, a seam or a series of stitches may extend along outer periphery 112 and may form attachment points, for example, for multiple layers or sheets that overlie each other to form the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100. A semicircular extent 114 or protrusion may extend outwardly in the plane of the body 110, as shown. While the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 is illustrated as having a generally rectangular, planar configuration with the semicircular protrusion 114, in embodiments, body 110 may have other desired shapes and/or configurations, for example, circular, ovular, or square, to name a few. In embodiments, the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 can include any number of extents, or may be devoid of any extents. In embodiments, body 110 may include a non-semicircular protrusion.

[0032] In embodiments, the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 may have a generally rectangular shape with a length between about 8 inches and 12 inches, for example, 8 inches, 9 inches, 10 inches, 11 inches, or 12, inches, to name a few, and a width of between about 2 inches and 6 inches, for example, 2 inches, 3 inches, 4 inches, 5 inches, or 6 inches, to name a few. In such embodiments, the semicircular extent 114 may extend away from the body 110 with a radius of between about 1 inch and 3 inches, for example, 1 inch, 1.5 inches, 2 inches, 2.5 inches. or 3 inches, to name a few. In embodiments, the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 may have different dimensions.

[0033] Body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 has a generally flexible configuration so that the body 110 can be, for example, folded, curved, and/or twisted depending on a desired use. Accordingly, body 110 may be configured to be disposed around another structure, for example, a portion of a user's body or an article of clothing, accessory, and/or equipment disposed on a portion of the user's body, as described herein.

[0034] Accordingly, cooling apparatus 100 may include one or more couplings such that the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 can be affixed to, on, and/or around another object, as described herein. In the exemplary embodiment shown, the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 includes one or more engaging snaps 116 that correspond to one or more receiving snaps 118 disposed on the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100. Engaging snaps 116 and receiving snaps 118 may be disposed on diametrically opposed edges of the body 110 of cooling apparatus 110. While cooling apparatus 100 is illustrated having four engaging snaps 116 and four receiving snaps 118, in embodiments, cooling apparatus 100 may include different numbers, for example, three, four, five, or six, of engaging snaps 116 and/or receiving snaps 118.

[0035] Each engaging snap 116 may include a protrusion 117 that can pressibly fit within a corresponding recess 119 formed within each receiving snap 118 so that, upon compression with one another, engaging snaps 116 and receiving snaps 118 become releasably coupled to one another. Engaging snaps 116 and receiving snaps 118 may be disposed on or through the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 in any suitable manner, for example, engaging snaps 116 and receiving snaps 118 may be disposed through holes or apertures formed within the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100. In embodiments, engaging snaps 116 and receiving snaps 118 may be coupled with cooling apparatus 100 in another suitable manner, for example, through adhesives or ultrasonic welding. As shown, a surface of engaging snaps 116 and receiving snaps 118 e.g., opposite the respective protrusions 117 and recesses 119, may be substantially devoid of engaging features, and may have a smooth or matte texture. In embodiments, opposing sides of engaging snaps 116 and/or receiving snaps 118 may include respective protrusions 117 and recesses 119.

[0036] In embodiments, cooling apparatus 100 may include snaps that are undifferentiated and configured for coupling with one another. In embodiments, the body 110 of cooling apparatus 110 may include an equal number of engaging snaps 116 and receiving snaps 118, or may include different numbers of engaging snaps 116 and receiving snaps 118 so that an excess number of engaging snaps 116 and/or receiving snaps 118 is provided, for example, so that a variety of combinations and arrangements for coupling respective engaging snaps 116 and receiving snaps 118 is possible.

[0037] It will be understood that, in embodiments, cooling apparatus 100 may include different types of couplings, for example, buttons, tabs and slots, zippers, and/or hook-and-loop type fasteners, to name a few.

[0038] Body 110 is formed of a material that is configured to readily absorb fluids upon contact, e.g., body 110 is formed of a material that includes a series of pores within which fluids such as water or sweat readily migrate and/or the material is configured to bond with fluids upon contact. Accordingly, body 110 may be formed of one or more flexible and absorbent materials, for example, polymeric material such as polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). In embodiments, body 110 may be formed of a material that is at least partially water-soluble. In embodiments, body 110 may be formed of a blend of materials, for example, a plurality of PVA fibers with a matrix of other absorbent fibers, for example, acetate, polyester, nylon, polypropylene, and/or polyethylene, to name a few.

[0039] Turning now to FIGS. 3A, 3B, and 3C, use and operation of cooling apparatus 100 will be described in detail.

[0040] FIG. 3A illustrates a quantity of fluid F being brought into contact with cooling apparatus 100. While fluid F is shown being a liquid poured onto cooling apparatus 100, it will be understood that fluid F may include liquids and/or gases, and that a variety of methods of bringing fluid F into contact with cooling apparatus 100 may be used, for example, steaming or other vapor deposition, dipping, soaking, and/or spraying, to name a few.

[0041] Referring to FIGS. 3B and 3C, a cross-section of the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 is shown along line 3-3 (FIG. 3A). As fluid F is brought into contact with the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100, body 110 contacts and draws fluid F into the interior of body 110, for example, through hydrogen bonding of portions of the body 110 with fluid F. In embodiments, body 110 may define a plurality of pores therein configured to accommodate quantities of fluid F. The body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 may develop a gel-like feel due to cross-linking of constituent polymer chains in the presence of fluid F.

[0042] In this regard, the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 may be configured to absorb a quantity of fluid F in excess of the weight of body 110. In embodiments, body 110 of cooling apparatus may be configured to absorb a quantity of fluid F in excess of ten times the weight of body 110, for example, 11 times the weight of body 110, 12 times the weight of body 110, or 13 times the weight of body 110, to name a few. As the fluid retention capacity of body 110 may be greater than desired by a user, e.g., body 110 may absorb and retain fluid F of a quantity sufficient to saturate body 110 with fluid F such that body 110 becomes excessively weighted and/or wet to the touch, a user may optionally eject fluid F from the cooling apparatus by exerting a compressive force on one or more portions of body 110, e.g., by wringing or squeezing the cooling apparatus 100. In embodiments, a user may desire to reduce the volume of fluid retained by body 110 such that additional fluid retention capacity is available to absorb further quantities of fluid.

[0043] Turning to FIG. 4A, FIG. 4B, and FIG. 4C, a method of using cooling apparatus 100 is illustrated according to an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure. As described, above cooling apparatus 100 may be folded and disposed about an article of clothing or piece of equipment worn by a user. As shown, cooling apparatus 100 may be folded about a strap S extending along an interior portion of a piece of headgear H. The piece of headgear H may be, for example, a cap, hood, hard hat, or helmet. Accordingly, strap S may be part of a harness, netting, or other internal structure disposed within the head-engaging portion of the piece of headgear H.

[0044] As shown, cooling apparatus 100 may be folded about the strap S and the respective engagement snaps 116 and receiving snaps 118 (FIG. 2) coupled with one another such that the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100, in a folded configuration, extends circumferentially along a portion of the strap S. Cooling apparatus 100, in the folded configuration shown best in FIG. 4B, may be disposed such that a portion of the strap S extends through the folded cooling apparatus 100 like a belt loop. As described above, the engagement snaps 116 and receiving snaps 118 may be offset a lateral distance, such that upon securing of the engagement snaps 116 and receiving snaps 118, the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 is caused to have a curved configuration.

[0045] In this regard, the cooling apparatus 100 may extend along a portion of the strap S within the piece of headgear H in a manner such that the cooling apparatus 100 is disposed to circumferentially engage a user's head when the piece of headgear H is worn by the user.

[0046] With specific reference to FIG. 4C, the semicircular extent 114 of cooling apparatus 100 may protrude outwardly from the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100. Accordingly, and as shown, the semicircular extent 114 can be folded, curled, and/or creased and inserted, packed, and/or stuffed between the piece of headgear H and a head of a user such that an additional layer of cooling apparatus 100 is provided, for example, for comfort or padding, to minimize movement between the piece of headgear H and a user's head, and/or to provide additional material for cooling relief for a user. In embodiments, the semicircular extent 114 may be left extending away from the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 to extend along another portion of a user's body, for example, a user's forehead or down a user's neck, to name a few.

[0047] In this regard, cooling apparatus 100 is configured to provide cooling relief to a user along a portion of an article of equipment and/or clothing worn by a user. Cooling apparatus 100 is configured to provide cooling relief through contact of fluids F (FIG. 3A) retained within the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 and/or through evaporative cooling of the fluid F over time.

[0048] In embodiments, cooling apparatus 100 may be coupled with the piece of headgear H as described above in a wetted, e.g., containing fluid F, condition or an unwetted condition in which the cooling apparatus 100 is substantially devoid of fluid F. Cooling apparatus 100 may be coupled with the piece of headgear H in an unwetted condition, for example, so that cooling apparatus 100 is disposed to absorb and/or retain fluids generated by the user, for example, perspiration and/or fluids disposed within the environment surrounding the user.

[0049] In embodiments, the body 110 of cooling apparatus 100 can be dimensioned to be disposed about another piece of equipment or clothing by a user, or about a body portion of a user.

[0050] While this invention has been described in conjunction with the embodiments outlined above, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, the exemplary embodiments of the invention, as set forth above, are intended to be illustrative, not limiting. Various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

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