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Title:
CARRIER TO ALLOW OF BEING POSITIONED AGAINST A BODY PART
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2010/008282
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Carrier which is wearable against an animal or human body part. Thecarrier is provided with a generation element for generating electric charge and a first electrode. The carrier is arranged for causing the generation element to deform through a deformation of the body part, and the generation element is arranged for generating the charge through deforming of the generation element. The first electrode is electroconductively connected with the generation element for conducting the charge to the first electrode. The first electrode is attached to the carrier so as to be situated, in use,near and possibly against the body part for supplying at least a part of the charge to the body part.

Inventors:
DE ROODE, Bartholomeus Mattheus (Lenie Sarishof 17, PT Rotterdam, NL-3051, NL)
Application Number:
NL2009/050431
Publication Date:
January 21, 2010
Filing Date:
July 14, 2009
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SARA LEE/DE N.V. (Keulsekade 143, AA Utrecht, NL-3532, NL)
DE ROODE, Bartholomeus Mattheus (Lenie Sarishof 17, PT Rotterdam, NL-3051, NL)
International Classes:
A61H39/00; A61N1/20
Domestic Patent References:
WO2006114997A1
Foreign References:
JP2005125045A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HATZMANN, M.J. (Vereenigde, Johan de Wittlaan 7, JR Den Haag, NL-2517, NL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A carrier which is wearable against an animal or human body part, provided with a generation element for generating electric charge and a first electrode, wherein the carrier is arranged for causing the generation element to deform through a deformation of the body part, and the generation element is arranged for generating the charge through deforming of the generation element, wherein the first electrode is electroconductively connected with the generation element for conducting the charge to the first electrode, and wherein the first electrode is attached to the carrier so as to be situated, in use, near and possibly against the body part for supplying at least a part of the charge to the body part.

2. A carrier according to claim 1, arranged for collecting in the first electrode the charge generated through deforming of the generation element and for supplying at least a part of the charge to the body part via a sudden discharge, such as a spark.

3. A carrier according to claim 2, arranged for supplying at least the part of the charge to the body part via a sudden discharge through reaching, in use, a voltage difference between the first electrode and the body part of at least 3 kilovolts, preferably more than 3.5 kilovolts.

4. A carrier according to any one of claims 1-3, further provided with a second electrode such as to be situated, in use, near and possibly against the body part for removing at least a part of the charge.

5. A carrier according to claim 4, wherein a distance between the first and the second electrode is at least 1.5 millimeters and preferably greater than 3 millimeters.

6. A carrier according to any one of claims 1-5, wherein the first electrode is embedded in the carrier and the first electrode is situated, in use, at a distance to the body part.

7. A carrier according to claim 6, wherein, in use, the distance to the body part is at least 1.5 millimeters and preferably greater than 3 millimeters.

8. A carrier according to any one of claims 1-7, wherein the first electrode is provided with an interruption arranged for collecting the charge at the interruption.

9. A carrier according to any one of claims 1-8, wherein the first electrode is surrounded by an electrically insulating sleeve.

10. A carrier according to claims 4 and 9, wherein the second electrode is surrounded by the electrically insulating sleeve.

11. A carrier according to any one of claims 1-10, provided with a plurality of first electrodes.

12. A carrier according to any one of claims 1-11, provided with a plurality of second electrodes.

13. A carrier according to claim 11 or 12, provided with a plurality of recesses, while in each recess at least one electrode of the plurality of first electrodes and the plurality of second electrodes is arranged.

14. A carrier according to any one of claims 1-13, wherein the generation element comprises a piezoelectric element.

15. A carrier according to any one of claims 1-14, wherein the generation element comprises two surfaces, such as two metal foil surfaces, wherein deforming comprises moving the two surfaces relative to each other and in mechanical contact with each other.

16. Footwear, such as a shoe, slipper or boot, designed as the carrier according to any one of claims 1-15.

17. A footbed, preferably an insert insole, designed as the carrier according to any one of claims 1-16, wherein the first electrode and/or the generation element is integrated into the footbed.

18. A footbed according to claim 17, wherein the second electrode is integrated in the footbed.

19. A brace, plaster or article of clothing, designed as the carrier according to any one of claims 1-18, arranged to allow of being positioned against the body part, preferably against a foot, ankle, knee, hip, back, neck, elbow, wrist, and/or finger.

20. A method for electric treatment of an animal or human body part using a carrier which is wearable against an animal or human body part and is provided with a generation element for generating electric charge and a first electrode, the generation element and the first electrode being attached to the carrier, the method comprising the following steps: a) positioning the carrier against the body part; b) deforming the generation element through a deformation of the body part; c) generating the electric charge in the generation element through deforming of the generation element and conducting the electric charge to the first electrode; and d) supplying at least a first part of the electric charge via the first electrode to the body part.

21. A method according to claim 20, wherein step c) comprises collecting in the first electrode the charge generated through deforming of the generation element, and step d) comprises supplying at least a part of the charge to the body part via a sudden discharge, such as a spark.

22. A method according to claim 20 or 21, which further comprises removing at least a part of the charge via a second electrode.

23. A method according to any one of claims 20-22, wherein the carrier is designed as footwear, such as a shoe, slipper or boot, and wherein the deformation of the body part in step b) is effected by a deformation of a foot.

Description:
Title: Carrier to allow of being positioned against a body part

The invention relates to a carrier which is wearable against an animal or human body part. The invention further relates to a method for electric treatment of an animal or human body part using a carrier which is wearable against an animal or human body part. There are various ways for people or animals to enhance their well-being. Some of these are applied to the skin, as, for instance, acupuncture or massaging. For applying these methods, time needs to be reserved. Moreover, for these methods, often a special treatment room needs to be visited. It is an object of the invention to enable an improved manner of enhancing well-being.

To that end, the invention provides a carrier which is wearable against an animal or human body part, provided with a generation element for generating electric charge and a first electrode, wherein the carrier is arranged for causing the generation element to deform through a deformation of the body part, and the generation element is arranged for generating the charge through deforming of the generation element, wherein the first electrode is electroconductively connected with the generation element for conducting the charge to the first electrode, and wherein the first electrode is attached to the carrier so as to be situated, in use, near and possibly against the body part for supplying at least a part of the charge to the body part. The electric voltage that prevails across the body part as a result of the charge supply and/or the electric current flowing through the body part as a result of the charge supply will promote a sense of well-being. The voltage and/or current can for instance effect small muscle contractions, which has a massaging effect on the body part. Also, the voltage and/or current can for instance enhance the blood flow of the body part. This helps removing a cold sensation in the body part, which is particularly favorable if the body part comprises a foot, hand, toe or finger. Promoting the blood flow is of interest in particular to people with diabetes, due to which disease the blood flow in the body part may be reduced. A particular effect may possibly be achieved for people with Parkinson's disease, because stimulating a foot, especially the sole, with voltage and/or current, increases stability during walking. Preferably, the carrier is designed to allow of being positioned against the body part.

Over existing methods, the carrier makes it possible for enhancement of well-being to take place during other activities. Accordingly, it is not necessarily so that time needs to be allotted especially for this purpose nor that a dedicated room needs to be visited.

With the help of the carrier, further, bacteria and/or fungi possibly present on the body part may be harmed or killed, for instance in that during the discharge the oxygen in the environment is converted to ozone, which is lethal to bacteria and fungi. In this way, the carrier has a favorable effect on the body part being kept clean. This is favorable in particular, though not exclusively so, if the carrier is equipped as a footbed to be worn on or at the foot, since bacteria and/or fungi can subsist relatively easily at the foot. The invention can thus provide additional functionality to an article of clothing or other item that, normally speaking, is already being worn against a body that comprises the body part. This does not alter the fact that the carrier can also be worn by itself or in a wearable element designed for that purpose. Possibly, the body part can comprise a first part and a second part, with the carrier being positioned against the first part and the charge being supplied to the second part. The first part and the second part may be relatively far removed from each other on the body.

In a first embodiment, the carrier is arranged for collecting in the first electrode the charge generated through deforming of the generation element and for supplying at least a part of the charge to the body part via a sudden discharge, such as a spark. Preferably, the carrier is arranged for supplying at least the part of the charge to the body part via a sudden discharge through reaching, in use, a voltage difference between the first electrode and the body part of at least 3 kilovolts, preferably more than 3.5 kilovolts. Such a discharge can be felt by a user of the carrier, so that a clearly noticeable effect can be achieved.

It may be clear that, alternatively or additionally to the spark, the sudden discharge may take place in other ways as well. For example, the carrier may be provided with electrical means that are arranged for releasing the at least part of the charge to the body part when the charge collected in the first electrode has reached a limit value (for example within the range of 3 kilovolts to 3.5 kilovolts). Such electrical means may include a condensator included by the first electrode. The condensator is arranged for collecting the charge in the first electrode. Additionally or alternatively, the electrical means may include an electrical switch for releasing the at least part of the charge to the body part.

The sudden discharge may have a duration that is much smaller, for example at least five times smaller or at least ten times smaller, than a time needed for generating the charge through deforming of the generation element. The duration of the discharge for example relates to a time needed for supplying 90% of at least the part of the charge to the body part. Preferably, the duration of the discharge is at most one second, more preferably at most ten milliseconds, at most one millisecond, and/or at most 100 microseconds. In an embodiment, the carrier is further provided with a second electrode to be situated, in use, near and possibly against the body part for removing at least a part of the charge. Through the combination of the first and the second electrode, the charge supply to the body can be controlled well, so that a noticeable effect of the discharge for the user does not change much and can be set. In an embodiment, a distance between the first and the second electrode is at least 1.5 millimeters and preferably greater than 3 millimeters. In this way, the voltage difference can reach a value at which the discharge is effective for the well-being of the user of the carrier. A greater distance to the body part generally results in a more clearly sensible discharge.

In an embodiment, the first electrode is embedded in the carrier and the first electrode is situated, in use, at a distance to the body part. This affords a possibility of collecting the generated charge in the first electrode, without this charge being at least partly supplied directly to the body. In an embodiment, the distance, in use, to the body part is at least 1.5 millimeters and preferably greater than 3 millimeters. In these cases, an effect of the discharge on the user is present, while generally a greater distance to the body part results in a more clearly sensible discharge.

Through the presence of the distance between the first and the second electrode and/or of the distance between the first electrode and the body part, the sudden discharge, such as the spark, can be effected. By setting the distance between the first and the second electrode and/or the distance between the first electrode and the body part, an intensity of the voltage prevailing across the body part and/or the current flowing through the body part can be set. Such a voltage and/or current will influence the extent of well-being. On the one hand, an unduly high voltage and/or current will feel uncomfortable or even hurt. On the other hand, an unduly low voltage (less than 3 kilovolts) and/or current will hardly be felt.

In an embodiment, the first electrode is provided with an interruption arranged for collecting the charge at the interruption. Such an interruption may be formed in air, but may also be formed by a dielectric material. The interruption is preferably situated in the carrier and is for instance surrounded by the carrier. The charge, in use, will collect on a side of the interruption that is electrically connected with the generation element. The size of the interruption, as well as dielectric properties of material forming the interruption, will determine the value of the voltage difference between the first electrode and the body part, at which voltage difference the sudden discharge will take place. The interruption thus affords the possibility of setting the intensity of the voltage that prevails across the body part and/or the current that will flow through the body part as a result of the sudden discharge. By providing the first electrode with the interruption, this setting can be rendered less sensitive to variation in position of the body part relative to the first electrode, since, because of the interruption, the first electrode can abut firmly against the body part through being lightly pressed against it, while still a sudden discharge can be effected. Preferably, the interruption is situated in the carrier, so that it can be closed off from an environment of the carrier. This provides the advantage that the voltage difference at which the sudden discharge takes place is less sensitive to ambient factors. This is relevant especially, though not exclusively so, if the carrier is equipped as an insert insole, because in that case a moist environment can easily develop, which may lower the voltage difference at which the sudden discharge takes place.

In an embodiment, the first and/or the second electrode is surrounded by an electrically insulating sleeve. This can prevent humid air collecting at the electrodes, which will influence the sudden discharge. The sleeve is especially, though not exclusively, advantageous in an embodiment suitable to be worn against the foot, since at the foot a moist environment may develop relatively easily.

In an embodiment, the carrier is provided with a plurality of first electrodes. Preferably, the carrier is further provided with a plurality of second electrodes. These embodiments augment the magnitude of the advantages of the invention, and the possibilities of achieving these advantages.

In an embodiment, the generation element comprises a piezoelectric element. One or more of such elements are suitable for generating the desired voltages. Such a piezoelectric element can for instance comprise a piezoelectric crystal such as piezoelectric ceramic material or a piezoelectric polymer such as polyvinylidene fluoride. For piezoelectric materials, the extent of deformation of the piezoelectric material is related to the magnitude of the charge generated. For that reason, the carrier is preferably provided with a diode between the piezoelectric element and the first electrode. The diode prevents charge on the first electrode from flowing away upon reduction of the deformation of the piezoelectric element.

In an embodiment, the generation element comprises two surfaces, such as two metal foil surfaces, while deforming comprises moving the two surfaces relative to each other and in mechanical contact with each other. Thus, static charge is generated.

In an embodiment, the invention provides footwear, such as a shoe, slipper or boot, designed as the carrier according to the invention. In this variant, it is relatively easy to deform the generation element, since, for instance during rolling of the foot during walking, relatively large forces are exerted on the generation element. Thus, charge can be generated relatively easily. What is more, footwear can cause an uncomfortable sensation relatively easily through mechanical interaction with the body part, in this case a foot, such as friction and/or through undesirable confinement of the foot. Thus, footwear can relatively easily cause a humid and poorly vented environment of the foot. In this situation the carrier is for instance of interest to mitigate the uncomfortable sensation.

In an embodiment, the invention provides a footbed, preferably an insert insole, designed as the carrier according to the invention, with the first electrode, the second electrode, and/or the generation element being integrated into the footbed. Such an insert insole can be worn in various footwear and is easy to clean.

The invention further provides a brace, plaster or article of clothing, designed as the carrier according to the invention, preferably arranged to allow of being positioned against the body part, preferably against an ankle, knee, hip, back, neck, elbow, wrist, and/or finger. The article of clothing is for instance a glove. If the brace is designed as the carrier, a medically effective combination can be achieved of support of the body part by the brace and electric stimulation of the body part by the supply of charge. Embedding the carrier in a plaster is moreover favorable for promoting a healing process of any wound to which the plaster has been applied. In addition, a plaster further affords the possibility of fitting the carrier at a desired position on virtually any body part, and this, for that matter, without a wound needing to be present at such position.

According to an aspect of the invention, the carrier is equipped with a communication unit and a control unit for controlling the conduction of charge to the first electrode. The communication unit is electrically connected with the control unit. The control unit is arranged for controlling the conduction of charge to the first electrode depending on information which, preferably wirelessly, is sent from, for instance, an external transmitting unit to the communication unit. In this way, the supply of the charge to the body part depends on the information. The information can hence be given to the user of the carrier, for instance encoded, in the form of the charge. The information can for instance be represented in a number of the sparks, in a location of the spark on the body part, in the occurrence or nonoccurrence of a spark, and/or in an intensity or perceptibility of the spark.

The invention further provides a method for electric treatment of an animal or human body part using a carrier which is wearable against an animal or human body part and is provided with a generation element for generating electric charge and a first electrode, with the generation element and the first electrode attached to the carrier, the method comprising the following steps: a) positioning the carrier against the body part; b) deforming the generation element through a deformation of the body part; c) generating the electric charge in the generation element through deforming of the generation element and conducting the electric charge to the first electrode; and d) supplying at least a first part of the electric charge via the first electrode to the body part. Such a method does justice to an idea behind the invention that the charge generated is generated preferably wholly, but in any case for a part, without help of an electrical source. In this way, for instance energy can be saved.

The invention will now be described in detail with reference to the drawing, in which:

Fig. IA shows a first embodiment of a carrier according to the invention with a piezoelectric element in non- deformed condition;

Fig. IB shows a first embodiment of a carrier according to the invention with a piezoelectric element in deformed condition; Fig. 2 A shows a detail of an insert insole with a first and a second electrode;

Fig. 2B shows a cross section A-A' of an insert insole; Fig. 3 shows a schematic representation of a piezoelectric element and a first electrode provided with an interruption; Fig. 4 shows a first and a second electrode in a third embodiment of a carrier according to the invention; and

Fig. 5 shows a plaster in a fourth exemplary embodiment of a carrier according to the invention.

Fig. IA and IB show a first embodiment of a carrier according to the invention, designed as an insert insole 2 of a shoe or boot. Thus, the carrier is wearable against a human body part, in this example a foot, for instance in direct contact with the foot or with an article of clothing such as a sock between the carrier and the foot.

The insert insole 2 is provided with a generation element, a first electrode 8 and a second electrode 10. The generation element in this example is a piezoelectric element 6. The piezoelectric element 6 and the first electrode 8 in this example are attached to the insert insole 2, for instance by having been fixedly glued in dedicated cavities in the insert insole 2. If the insert insole 2 is built up from a number of layers, for instance two, the piezoelectric element 6 and/or the first electrode 8 may be glued between the layers.

The insert insole 2 is arranged for causing the piezoelectric element 6 to be deformed through a deformation of the foot. In this example, the piezoelectric element 6 is deformed by a bending of the foot. Normally speaking, this occurs frequently during walking on foot. Through deforming of the piezoelectric element 6, an electric charge distribution is generated. Such a mechanism for generating charge is known per se to those skilled in the art. Figs. IA and IB show the piezoelectric element 6 in two conditions, in which the generation element is clearly differently deformed. In this example, Fig. IA shows the piezoelectric element 6 in non- deformed condition, and Fig. IB shows the piezoelectric element 6 in strongly deformed condition. Alternatively, the generation element can comprise two surfaces, such as two metal foil surfaces. During deforming, these two metal foil surfaces are moved relative to each other and in mechanical contact with each other. As a result, electric charge is generated. Such a mechanism for generating electricity is known per se to those skilled in the art. Thus, two generation elements have been described, arranged for generating the charge through deforming of the generation element. However, the invention is not limited thereto and comprises also other kinds of generation elements, such as generation elements based on electromagnetic charge generation, which mechanism is known per se to those skilled in the art.

The first electrode 8 is electroconductively connected with the piezoelectric element 6 for conducting the charge to the first electrode 8. The first electrode 8 and the second electrode 10 are attached to the insert insole and are situated near and possibly against the body part, for instance abutting directly against the body part or being situated at a relatively short distance therefrom, for instance less than one centimeter.

In the first embodiment, the insert insole 2 is arranged for collecting in the first electrode the charge generated through deforming of the generation element. Since the charge accumulates in the electrode, the supply of at least a part of the charge to the body part can be done through a sudden discharge, such as a spark. In the first embodiment, the insert insole 2 is arranged for supplying at least the part of the charge to the foot via a sudden discharge through reaching, in use, a voltage difference between the first electrode 8 and the second electrode 10 of at least 3 kilovolts, preferably more than 3.5 kilovolts. Such a sudden discharge can be felt via the foot, so that a noticeable effect can be achieved. An upper limit of such a voltage difference is formed by what is still healthy for a body of which the body part is a part. Fig. 2A shows a detail 12 of the insert insole 2 with the first and the second electrode 8, 10. Fig. 2B shows a cross section A-A' of the insert insole 2. Fig. 2B shows the first electrode 8, embedded in the insert insole 2 by having been countersunk therein. In this example, the second electrode is embedded in the insert insole 2 in an analogous manner. Via a recess 14 in the insert insole 2, the first and the second electrode 8, 10, in use of the insert insole 2, are in connection with the foot via air. A boundary of the foot is indicated by reference numeral 16.

In this first exemplary embodiment, a distance Di of the first electrode 8 to the second electrode 10 is at least 1.5 millimeters and preferably greater than 3 millimeters.

In a second embodiment of the carrier, in this example the insert insole 2, according to the invention, the second electrode is absent. Parts of the insert insole in the first embodiment other than the second electrode, such as the voltage generating element 6, can also be present in the second embodiment. In the second embodiment, in use of the insert insole 2, a distance D2 in Fig. 2B from the first electrode 8 to the foot is at least 1.5 millimeters and preferably greater than 3 millimeters.

Fig. 3 shows a schematic representation of the carrier, in this example the insert insole 2, in a third embodiment according to the invention. Fig. 3 shows the insert insole 2, the piezoelectric element 6 and the first electrode 8 provided with an interruption 17. The interruption 17 is arranged for collecting the charge at the interruption. The length of the interruption is indicated by D3. The length D3 is for instance greater than 0.5 millimeters, 1.5 millimeters, and/or 3 millimeters, but for instance less than 1 centimeter. In this example, the interruption 17 is formed by air and is present in a cavity 18 in the insert insole 2. The size of the interruption 17, as well as the dielectric properties of the material in which the interruption is situated, will determine the value of the voltage difference between the first electrode 8 and the foot 16, at which voltage difference the sudden discharge takes place. In this example, the first electrode 8 abuts against the foot 16. In this example, also the second electrode 10 abuts against the foot 16.

Fig. 4 shows the first and the second electrode 8, 10 in a fourth embodiment of the carrier, in this example the insert insole 2, according to the invention. Fig. 4 shows a cross section of the insert insole analogous to Fig. 2B. In this embodiment, the first and the second electrode 8, 10 in the recess 14 are directed transversely to a plane of the insert insole 2.

The insert insole 2 in this fourth embodiment is provided with an electrically insulating sleeve 19. The sleeve 19 extends around the first and the second electrode 8, 10 from a bottom 20 of the recess 14. The sleeve 19 preferably contains a flexible material. The sleeve 19 can for instance contain plastic and/or rubber. In use, the sleeve 19 extends as far as the boundary 16 of the foot. Owing to the sleeve 19, the properties of the air, for instance the air humidity, within the sleeve 19 remain constant better than outside the sleeve. As a result, during use of the insert insole 2, the voltage difference between the first electrode 8 and the second electrode 10 at which the sudden discharge takes place, can be kept constant better.

Fig. 5 shows a plaster 32 in a fifth exemplary embodiment of a carrier according to the invention. The plaster 32 is provided with a plurality of first electrodes 8 and a plurality of second electrodes 10. The plaster comprises a plurality of recesses 14. In this example, each recess is provided with a first and a second electrode 8, 10. The recesses 14 can be mutually separate, but may also be mutually connected. In the latter case, the recesses 14 can be formed by a plurality of projections 36. In this example, the plaster is attached to a knee using adhesive strips 38. A boundary of the knee is indicated by reference numeral 16. In use of the plaster, the piezoelectric element 6 can be deformed through bending of the knee.

An embodiment of a first method according to the invention will now be elucidated with the aid of an insert insole in the first embodiment of the carrier according to the invention. In use of this insert insole by a user, the first method can be carried out. The user will first place the insert insole against the foot of the user, for instance by putting on a shoe in which the insert insole has been placed. In use, for instance during walking or jumping, the user will deform the generation element through a deformation of the body part. As a result, the user will generate the electric charge in the generation element through deforming of the generation element. This charge is thereupon conducted to the first electrode and is collected there. At the moment when the charge reaches a limiting value, at least a part of the charge can be supplied to the body part via the sudden discharge, such as for instance a spark. A part of the charge is removed via the second electrode.

In general, it holds that the part of the charge that is removed via the second electrode may be for instance much smaller, for instance more than 80% smaller, than the part of the charge that is supplied via the first electrode. In that case, a relatively large part of the charge supplied is removed via the body. Alternatively, the part of the charge that is removed via the second electrode may be slightly, for instance less than 20%, smaller than the part of the charge that is supplied via the first electrode. In that case, a relatively small part of the charge supplied is removed via the body. By adjusting the distances Di and D2 in Fig. 2A, 2B and/or 4, a ratio between the part of the charge that is removed via the second electrode and the part of the charge that is supplied via the first electrode can be set. In this way, an optimum promotion of the well-being of the user of the carrier can be achieved. Preferably, D2 is smaller than or approximately equal to Di, being for instance at most three times greater than D2. This prevents the sudden discharge causing too small a voltage across the body part and/or too small a current through the body part.

In general, it holds that the carrier may be provided with a fastening means for fastening the carrier against the body part. Examples of the fastening means are the adhesive strip 38 in Fig. 5, a lace of footwear that is designed as the carrier, and Velcro of a brace designed as the carrier.

It is assumed that the operation and construction of the invention are apparent from the foregoing description. The invention is not limited by any of the embodiments described. The use of expressions such as "preferably", "favorable", "in particular", "especially", etc., are not intended to limit the invention. With the knowledge of a person skilled in the art, possible changes in the embodiments are understood to fall within the scope of the appended claims. Also, all kinematic inversions are regarded as being disclosed and falling within the invention.