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Title:
CONVENIENCE CHARGER AND COMBINATION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/126228
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A charging system for a personal electronic device provides individual localized outlets along with convenience features for a domestic user or a patron of a hospitality facility.

Inventors:
TUFFY, Robert E. (P.O. Box 212, Hanover, Massachusetts, 02339, US)
BERGMAN, Michael (P.O. Box 212, Hanover, Massachusetts, 02339, US)
ANTONETTI, Brian P. (P.O. Box 212, Hanover, Massachusetts, 02339, US)
Application Number:
US2018/066319
Publication Date:
June 27, 2019
Filing Date:
December 18, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
HCL DESIGNS, LLC (10078 LIONS BAY COURT, NAPLES, Florida, 34120, US)
International Classes:
H02J7/00; F16B45/00; H01M10/42; H01M10/44
Domestic Patent References:
WO2017004604A12017-01-05
WO2014066990A12014-05-08
Foreign References:
US9595840B22017-03-14
US20140327387A12014-11-06
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BERGMAN, Michael (P.O. Box 400198, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02140, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A charging system for a personal electronic device comprising:

a plurality of charging modules, said plurality of charging modules each being electrically connected directly to a source of mains power;

at least one charging module of said plurality of charging modules including a mains power receptacle and a low voltage charging connector for a personal electronic device respectively integrated into a charging module housing of said at least one charging module;

said charging module housing including a convenience feature and a mounting feature, said convenience feature being adapted to support a personal article and said mounting feature being adapted to fasten said charging module to a supporting substrate.

2. A charging system as defined in claim 1 wherein said convenience feature comprises a hook.

3. A charging system as defined in claim 1 wherein said convenience feature comprises a coupling feature configured to support a pocketbook.

4. A charging system as defined in claim 1 wherein said convenience feature comprises a coupling feature configured to support a jacket.

5. A charging system as defined in claim 1 wherein said charging connector for a personal electronic device comprises a charging connector for a smart phone.

6. A charging system as defined in claim 1 wherein said charging connector for a personal electronic device comprises a charging connector for a computer tablet.

7. A charging system as defined in claim 1 wherein said charging connector for a personal electronic device comprises a charging connector for a laptop computer.

Description:
IN THE RECEIVING OFFICE OF THE

UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE

Convenience Charger and Combination

Cross-Reference to Related Applications

[0000] The present application is a continuation in part of PCT patent application number... filed on..., which claims the benefit of United States provisional patent application number 62/607,308 filed on December 18, 2017 and further is a continuation of International application number PCT/US2016/040883 filed on July 1, 2016; the present application is also a continuation in part of International application number PCT/US 2017/..., which claims the benefit of United States provisional patent application number 62/418,556 filed on November 7, 2016, and of United States provisional patent application number 62/461,175 filed on February 20, 2017, and of United States provisional patent application number 62/483,458 filed on April 9, 2017, and of United States provisional patent application number 62/525,255 filed on June 27, 2017. The disclosures of all of the foregoing are herewith

incorporated by reference in their entireties.

Field of the Invention

[0001] The present invention relates to electronic systems, and more particularly to electronic device charging systems.

Summary

[0002] Access to information, and personal availability for communication, are defining characteristics of our era. This access and availability are ubiquitous and continuous. Almost everyone is online all the time.

[0003] Much of the bandwidth involved in these communications is devoted to trivialities. Nevertheless, within the mass of inconsequential information there are individual items that, alone or in combination, have great consequence for our social and commercial relationships. We all understand that missing one item of information or failing to respond to a crucial inquiry from a client or social partner can have a disproportionate impact on our lives. Because of this, many of us have come to rely deeply on our personal electronic devices in ways that we perceive both consciously and intuitively. As a result, there is an urgent motivation to keep these devices functional.

[0004] The inventors of the present invention have, through personal experience, analysis, and the careful observation of human behavior, come to understand the depth and force of this motivation. They appreciate the degree to which wide swaths of society feel compelled to maintain and preserve the continuity and functionality of their information links, and the depth of the impulse to ensure that a personal communication device (such as a cell phone, smart phone, tablet, laptop computer, etc.) is charged and operational.

[0005] The inventors have observed that this impulse is particularly strong for those who are traveling on business, and those in problematic social situations, where the abundance of communication channels one might find in, e.g., an office setting, is reduced to one or two devices. In these situations, access to a crucial data point such as a delayed airplane departure, a breaking political news item, a sports outcome or a missed phone call from a client, a child, a spouse or other partner can have all the import for life success of the proverbial horseshoe nail.

[0006] At the same time, those who provide environments and accommodations to these mobile users face stiff competition for patrons and customers. They are strongly motivated to make their facilities attractive and functional, so as to entice what is often the most lucrative market segment into their businesses. They seek to develop a coherent aesthetic experience, an atmosphere, that is pleasant and inviting, and that provides every desirable resource and convenience without exposing their patrons to obtrusive reminders of the stressors that are constantly pending at the edge of consciousness. [0007] The inventors, thus appreciating the importance of combining functionality with unobtrusive beauty, have arrived at certain new and useful inventions as further described herewith. Specifically, the inventors have come to appreciate that there is great utility to be found in a charging receptacle for a personal electronic device, where that charging receptacle is designed for discrete and aesthetically attractive placement in commercial and private establishments, localized adjacent to dining and working facilities. They have further come to understand and appreciate that combining such a charging receptacle with additional convenience features such as, for example, a coat hook, a pocketbook support, a personal device support, a luggage rack, and many other features, of which the foregoing are merely exemplary, can have great utility and benefit. They have observed that these important elements and combinations are novel. Moreover they have discovered that these inventions can have a commercial and functional significance that is surprisingly important and beneficial in ways just as unexpected and astonishing as the influence of the lost horseshoe nail.

[0008] As will be further described below, with reference to exemplary

embodiments and aspects thereof, a device prepared according to the invention will include a localized electronic receptacle. In certain embodiments, this localized electronic receptacle will include a convenience feature. In certain examples, the electronic receptacle will be a USB receptacle of any known or anticipated size, and the convenience feature will be a pocketbook hook.

[0009] In one embodiment, the invention includes a system having a power supply and a plurality of charging modules. The charging modules are arranged to be more or less permanently mounted to a service location such as a bar, table, or service counter, and to be coupled to one another and to the power supply with electrical conductors. In a typical application, the power supply is engineered to receive mains power from a normal wall receptacle and convert that mains power to a regulated or unregulated voltage appropriate for charging a personal electronic device such as a cell phone, smart phone, tablet computer, laptop computer or other consumer article such as is known or may become known in the art. Power is distributed from the power supply to the charging modules over electrical conductors which are appropriately sized according to an electrical load anticipated for the number and expected utilization of the modules.

[0010] In one embodiment, each module will include a service unit including a structural member and an electronic circuit board. An exemplary structural member will include a five sided box formed of folded sheet metal, diecast metallic alloy, polymer, or other appropriate structural material. The circuit board will be mechanically coupled to the structural member and will support an electronic coupling device such as, for example (and without limitation), a USB receptacle as known in the art. In addition, certain embodiments of the invention will include an illumination device such as, for example and without limitation, a light emitting diode (LED). In a further aspect of certain embodiments, light will be conducted from the illumination device to an external surface adjacent to the coupling device by a solid-state light pipe.

[0011] In a still further aspect of certain embodiments, the module also includes a cover portion. The cover portion will be arranged to be mechanically coupled to, and supported by, the structural member of the service unit. In addition, in certain embodiments, the cover portion will be independently directly coupled to the service location with a separate fastener. In certain embodiments, two fasteners will be used to couple the service module to the service location and a third fastener will be employed to couple the cover to the service location. In various embodiments, the fasteners so employed will include one or more of a screw, a nail, an adhesive material, a bolt, and a rivet.

[0012] In still other embodiments of the invention, one or more of the service module and the cover will be coupled to the service location employing a bonding techniques such as, for example, thermal welding, arc welding, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, or any other bonding method known or that becomes known in the art. [0013] Certain embodiments of the invention will include a cover portion including one or more hooks. The hooks will be sized and configured to support a personal article. For example, a typical hook might be well adapted to support a woman's purse or pocketbook, a man or woman’s jacket, a child's coat, a briefcase, or any other personal article that would be conveniently disposed thereon while a user, for example, eats a meal or enjoys a drink at the service location.

[0014] Exemplary physical configurations and designs are illustrated in the attached figures and it will be understood that one of skill in the art, having perceived the utility of the present invention, will readily derive other valuable and serviceable configurations of the invention, all of which are intended to fall within the scope of the present disclosure.

[0015] In certain embodiments, the cover portion will exhibit a longitudinal axis, with the hook disposed adjacent to one end of the cover portion. Certain

embodiments of the invention will be arranged for operative mounting with the longitudinal axis in a vertical orientation. In contrast, certain embodiments of the invention will be arranged for operative mounting with the longitudinal axis in a horizontal orientation. In other embodiments, mounting of a longitudinal axis will be made at any useful oblique angle with respect to the vertical.

[0016] In certain further embodiments, the invention includes various brackets arranged to facilitate mounting of a localized power outlet for convenience, to reduce or eliminate interference with the user seated adjacent to the localized outlet, and to minimize damage to an underlying substrate caused by installation of the device. In still further embodiments, the invention includes alternative power supplies including, for example, battery-based power supplies, allowing installation of a localized outlet remote from a mains power receptacle and without installing additional mains power connections.

[0017] The following description is provided to enable any person skilled in the art to make and use the disclosed inventions and sets forth the best modes presently contemplated by the inventors of carrying out their inventions. In the following description, for purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. It will be apparent, however, to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well-known structures and devices are shown in schematic form in order to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the substance disclosed. These and other advantages and features of the invention will be more readily understood in relation to the following detailed description of the invention, which is provided in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

[0018] It should be noted that, while the various figures show respective aspects of the invention, no one figure is intended to show the entire invention. Rather, the figures together illustrate the invention in its various aspects and principles. As such, it should not be presumed that any particular figure is exclusively related to a discrete aspect or species of the invention. To the contrary, one of skill in the art would appreciate that the figures taken together reflect various embodiments exemplifying the invention as a whole.

[0019] Correspondingly, referenced throughout the specification to "one embodiment" or "an embodiment" means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiment is included in at least one embodiment of the present invention. Thus, the appearance of the phrases "in one embodiment" or "in an embodiment" in various places throughout the specification are not necessarily all referring to the same embodiment. Furthermore, the particular features, structures, or characteristics may be combined in any suitable manner in one or more embodiments.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0020] Fig. 1 shows, in perspective view, a portion of a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention; [0021] Fig. 2 shows, in perspective view, further aspects of an exemplary charging system prepared according to principles of the invention, including, inter alia, a power supply portion;

[0022] Fig. 3 shows, in perspective view, details of a localized outlet of a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention;

[0023] Fig. 4 shows, in perspective view, additional aspects of a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention, including, inter alia, a power supply cable portion;

[0024] Fig. 5 shows, in perspective view, an interior portion of a housing of a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention;

[0025] Fig. 6 shows, in perspective view, a circuit board portion of a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention;

[0026] Fig. 7 shows, in perspective view, additional aspects of a housing arrangement for a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention;

[0027] Fig. 8 shows, in perspective view, still further aspects of a housing arrangement for a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention;

[0028] Fig. 9 shows, in perspective view, certain internal portions of a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention;

[0029] Fig. 10 shows, in perspective view, additional aspects of a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention, including, inter alia, an accessory pouch portion;

[0030] Fig. 11 shows, in perspective view, additional aspects of a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention, including, inter alia, a vehicle mounted portion of the charging system;

[0031] Fig. 12 shows, in perspective view, additional aspects of a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention, including, inter alia, certain inter- coupling aspects of the charging system; [0032] Fig. 13 shows, in front view, additional aspects of a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention, including, inter alia, a mains voltage outlet portion;

[0033] Fig. 14 shows, in perspective view, additional aspects of a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention;

[0034] Fig. 15A shows, in front view, additional aspects of a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention, including, inter alia, an armored cable supply line portion;

[0035] Fig. 15B shows, in front view, additional aspects of a charging system prepared according to principles of the invention, including, inter alia, an

electromechanical tube (EMT) conduit supply line portion; and

[0036] Fig. 16 shows, in perspective view, further aspects of an exemplary charging system prepared according to principles of the invention, including, inter alia, mains power supply connections.

Detailed Description

[0037] This description is provided to enable any person skilled in the art to make and use the disclosed inventions and sets forth the best modes presently

contemplated by the inventors of carrying out their inventions. In the following description, for purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. It will be apparent, however, to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well-known structures and devices are shown in schematic form in order to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the substance disclosed.

[0038] In the course of the present disclosure, the terms substantially and generally will be used to modify various descriptions. The term substantially is intended to mean within the normal manufacturing tolerances, as such would be understood by one of skill in the art, for an item of a comparable nature at the time of manufacture. The term generally is intended to imply less precision than substantially, rather to simply suggest that a particular characteristic would be perceived by the ordinary viewer examining the item. As such, an item that generally exhibits a characteristic may also substantially exhibit that characteristic, but need not. Conversely, an item that substantially exhibits a characteristic will also generally exhibit that

characteristic.

[0039] Fig. 1 shows, in perspective view, a portion of a charging system 100 for a personal communication device as employed in the context of a beverage service bar 102. One of skill in the art will readily ascertain in the figure common features of a service bar including a server 104 having a server top surface region 106, a base portion 108 disposed downwardly of the server top 106, and a pedestal portion 110 disposed between the server top surface region 106 and the base portion 108 and coupled to each at respective upper 111 and lower ends 112 thereof. The base portion 108, in turn, is supported on an upper surface region of a floor 114, which bears the weight of the service bar 102.

[0040] Coupled to, and supported by, a proximal surface region 116 of pedestal 110 is an exemplary localized outlet 118 of the charging system 100 prepared according to principles of the invention. As will be further discussed below, the illustrated localized outlet 118 includes a housing or cabinet 120 and an electronic receptacle 122. Electronic receptacle 122 is shown in use, functionally coupled to a distal end 124 of a typical charging cable 126. A proximal end 128 of the charging cable 126 is received within and coupled to a charging receptacle of a personal electronic device 130. In light of the present figure, one of skill in the art will readily appreciate that the illustrated location of the localized outlet 118 on the surface region 116 of pedestal 110 allows convenient placement of the personal electronic device 130 on surface region 106 of server 104 within the length constraints of typical charging cable 126.

[0041] In the illustrated embodiment, the localized outlet 118 also includes a convenience feature, here illustrated as a pocketbook hook 132. As illustrated in the exemplary embodiment presented, the pocketbook hook 132 is arranged and configured to support a pocketbook or other handbag 134 by a handle 136 or other coupling feature.

[0042] Fig. 2 shows a further aspect of an exemplary charging system 200 prepared according to principles of the invention. As shown, charging system 200 includes a plurality of localized outlets e.g., 202, 204, 206 respectively coupled to a proximal surface region 208 of a service bar 210. Each localized outlet 202, 204, 206 includes a respective electronic receptacle e.g., 212, 214, 216 and a respective convenience feature 218, 220, 222.

[0043] As illustrated, the localized outlets 202, 204, 206 are respectively electrically coupled to one another, and to a power supply module 224 in parallel daisychain configuration by a plurality of electrical conductors e.g., 226, 228, 230, 232. It will be appreciated, however, that the configuration shown is merely exemplary, and that other electrical configurations including, for example, series coupling arrangements, star coupled arrangements, and other arrangements known in the art or yet to be discovered, are intended to be included within the scope of the present disclosure.

[0044] In one embodiment of the invention, the power supply module 224 includes a power cord 234 with a standard plug 236. The standard plug 236 is adapted to be coupled to, and receive power from, a mains power receptacle 238. Naturally, the mains power receptacle will supply electrical voltage and current at levels determined according to local convention.

[0045] In certain embodiments, the power supply module 224 will convert mains power to the specific voltage to be output at, and common to, all of the electronic receptacles, e.g., 212, 214, 216. Thus, for example, where the electronic receptacle is a standard Universal Serial Bus (USB) receptacle each conductor segment 226, 228,

230, 232 will provide a voltage substantially equal to 5.0 V (generally within the tolerance of the USB standard). Accordingly, the conductor segments 226, 228, 230, 232 will include conductors sized to sustain the current anticipated in the event that a full complement of localized outlets are operated at full load, plus an increment for a safety factor. [0046] In other embodiments, the power supply module 224 will be arranged and configured to receive mains power and output to the conductor segments 226, 228, 230, 232 an alternative voltage that differs both from the mains supply voltage received at receptacle 238, and from the output voltage supplied to devices at electronic receptacles 212, 214, 216. In such embodiments, the localized outlets 202, 204, 206 would generally each include a power conversion device capable of receiving as an input the alternative voltage and producing an output voltage required to correctly supply the respective electronic receptacles 212, 214 and 216 (which output voltage may be the same or different as between the various electronic receptacles).

[0047] For example, in certain embodiments, the alternative voltage will be an intermediate voltage. Thus, for example, the intermediate alternative voltage will, in certain embodiments, be chosen to have a relatively safe value, as opposed to mains voltage, while still being substantially above the voltage output at the electronic receptacles 212, 214, 216. Consequently, it will be possible to more readily stabilize the output voltage of the electronic receptacles 212, 214, 216. In addition, as will be understood by one of skill in the art, smaller conductors (i.e. smaller diameter) may be used in the conductor segments 226, 228, 230, 232 compared to those that would be necessary if a lower voltage (e.g., output voltage) were supplied by the power supply module 224 directly to the outputs of electronic receptacles 212, 214, 216.

[0048] One of skill in the art will appreciate that a variety of standard values are likely to be desirable from a commercial perspective as intermediate voltages. Thus, for example, in certain embodiments of the invention, an intermediate voltage supply between the power supply module 224 and respective power conversion devices will have a value of, for example, 6 V, 9 V, 12 V, 24 V, 32 V and 48 V. Again, these values are merely exemplary, and a wide variety of other alternative voltages will be employed in respective embodiments according to the requirements of a particular application and circumstance. Thus the intermediate voltage will, in certain embodiments, fall within a range between mains voltage and 0 V. Likewise, in certain embodiments the intermediate voltage will be an alternating current (AC) voltage and in other embodiments, the intermediate voltage will be a direct current (DC) voltage. It will also be appreciated that in certain embodiments an alternative voltage higher than the mains voltage will be employed. While less common, such a configuration remains within the scope of the present disclosure.

[0049] Fig. 3 shows, in perspective view, details of one embodiment of a localized outlet 300 prepared according to principles of the invention. The localized outlet 300 includes a service module 302 and a cover module 304. Among other features, the service module 302 includes first and second apertures (not visible) arranged and configured to receive respective first 306 and second 308 fasteners therethrough. The fasteners, which may be any fastener appropriate to a particular application that is known or becomes known in the art will, in various embodiments, include (without limitation) a wood screw, a metal screw, a bolt, a lag bolt, a nail, a barbed nail or a rivet. One of skill in the art will appreciate that, in certain embodiments, the function of the fastener will be served instead by an adhesive such as a physical adhesive or a chemical adhesive, or by weldment (such as, electrical weldment, a gas weldment, a laser weldment, or an ultrasonic weldment) or any other fastening method that is known or becomes known in the art.

[0050] The cover module 304 includes an upper surface region 310 with an aperture 312. The aperture 312 is arranged and configured to receive a protrusion (not shown) correspondingly located on an upper surface region of the service module 302. As will be further described below, this coupling allows for a substantially fixed connection to be effected between the service module 302 and the cover module 304 after mounting and wiring of the service module 302.

[0051] Fig. 4 shows, in perspective view, certain features of a further embodiment of the invention including a localized outlet 400. Localized outlet 400 includes a cover module 402 of a housing that is configured to be

substantially permanently closed during manufacturing. This permanent closing serves to secure electronic components disposed within an internal cavity and prevent access to those components by installation personnel, maintenance personnel and users.

[0052] In certain embodiments of the invention, a protrusion 404 of a service module (not visible) is disposed within and through a corresponding aperture 406 of the cover module 402. In addition, in the illustrated embodiment, a rivet 408 is disposed within and through corresponding and aligned bores within the cover module 402 and the service module.

[0053] In the illustrated embodiment a power supply cable 410 is disposed within and through a bore 412 of the cover module 402 and is effective to supply power to the localized outlet during use. In addition, cover module 402 includes first and second apertures, e.g., 414 for receiving respective mounting screws (as will be further described below). In certain embodiments, the cable 410 will be coupled to a mains power plug such as a three prong plug 411.

[0054] Fig. 5 shows, in schematic perspective view, a portion 500 of a cover module 402 in additional detail. In particular, first 502 and second 504 bores are disposed in substantially normal orientation through respective wall regions 506, 508 for receiving respective rivets or other fasteners therethrough.

[0055] Fig. 6 shows, in schematic perspective view, a portion 600 of the service module 602 in additional detail. In particular, first 604 and second 606 bores are disposed in substantially normal orientation through respective wall regions 608, 610 for receiving respective rivets or other fasteners therethrough. As noted above, when the service module 602 and cover module 402 are assembled, and fasteners are disposed through bores 502 and 604, and 504 and 606 respectively, the service module 602 and cover module 402 form an enclosed housing that effectively prevents access to electronic components, e.g. 612, 614 disposed therewithin. [0056] It should be noted that a wide variety of fasteners and fastening methods will be employed in various embodiments of the invention to ensure substantially permanent closure of the housing elements, i.e., the cover module and the service module. Thus, in certain embodiments, the housing elements will be fastened closed with conventional rivets, with pop rivets with screws, with roll pins, with mechanical wedges, with nails, with chemical adhesives, with physical fusion methods including electrical welding, gas welding, soldering, brazing, laser welding, ultrasonic welding, mechanical fasteners, etc.

[0057] Fig. 7 shows, in schematic perspective view, a housing 700 and a mounting bracket 702. As discussed above, the housing is substantially permanently closed to protect electronic components disposed therewithin. Thus, for example, a roll pin 704 is disposed within a bore 706 of a cover module 708 of the housing and within a corresponding bore of a service module to ensure that the housing remains closed and protective of internal

components. As will become evident, housing 700 is adapted, arranged and configured, to be coupled to the bracket 702 for mounting to a substrate.

[0058] In the illustrated embodiment, the mounting bracket 702 includes first 710 and second 712 protrusions having respective first 714 and second 716 internally threaded bores.

[0059] In certain embodiments of the invention, a fastener will be provided. The fastener will be disposed through an external aperture, e.g. 715, of the housing and threadingly engaged with the internally threaded bore, e.g. 716, of the protrusion e.g. 712. In this way, the housing can be fixedly coupled to the backplate to allow mounting of the resulting assembly to a supporting surface such as a wall or bar front. [0060] In an alternative arrangement, the bracket 702 includes a body region 718 with first 720 and second 722 internally threaded mounting holes for receiving respective machine screws therethrough. The machine screws serve to substantially permanently couple a service module of the housing 700 to the mounting bracket 702. One of skill in the art will readily understand that this coupling is typically achieved before the cover module 708 is fastened to the service module. It will also be understood that the internally threaded bores 714, 716 and respective machine screws will, in other embodiments, be replaced by rivets or any other similarly substantial alternative fastening method and/or mechanism.

[0061] A third clearance hole 724 is arranged and configured to align with a further clearance hole 726 of the housing 700. During mounting of the housing for use, a mounting screw such as, for example, a wood screw is disposed within and through clearance hole 724 and clearance hole 726 and into an underlying substrate.

[0062] In certain embodiments, the backplate will include a further aperture 728. This further aperture will allow an alternative mounting arrangement in which the power supply cord 730 is disposed backwardly through the mounting plate rather than upwardly through a top surface of the housing, e.g., 732.

[0063] Fig. 8 shows, in further detail, a portion of housing 700 and mounting bracket 702 during assembly. The alignment of the protrusion 712 with a respective internal cavity of the housing results in alignment of an aperture 802 with the internally threaded bore 714 to allow a machine screw, capscrew or other fastener, to be couplingly disposed therethrough.

[0064] Fig. 9 shows a service module, 902 including a variety of electronic components, e.g., 904, 906, 908. Among the electronic components is a power receptacle 910. The power receptacle 910 is adapted to receive a power plug 912 operatively coupled to a power supply 914 by a power supply cable 916. One of skill in the art will readily appreciate that a power plug 912 will be readily inserted and passed into an aperture of a housing to supply power to electronic components within that housing, even if the housing is substantially

permanently closed as described above.

[0065] Fig. 10 shows a charging accessory 1000 for use with a localized outlet 1001. According to principles of the invention. The charging accessory 1000 includes a pocket 1002 for receiving a personal electronic device 1004 during storage and charging. In certain embodiments, the charging accessory 1000 includes an integrated charging cable 1006. In the illustrated embodiment, the integrated charging cable 1006 includes a multi-headed coupling portion 1008 including a variety of adapters 1010 for coupling to a respective variety of personal electronic devices.

[0066] As illustrated, in certain embodiments, the charging accessory 1000 includes a supporting member portion 1012 with an aperture 1014. The aperture 1014 allows the charging accessory 1000 to be supported from a hook portion 1016 of localized outlet 1001.

[0067] Fig. 11 shows a portion of an exemplary system 1100 including a further localized outlet 1102 for charging a personal electronic device 1104. The localized outlet 1102 is adapted and configured to be substantially permanently coupled to a portion of a mobile supporting apparatus such as, for example, a shopping cart 1106.

[0068] In the illustrated embodiment, the localized outlet 1102 includes a support member 1108. The support member 1108 includes a supporting surface 1110 adapted and configured to support the personal electronic device 1104. In certain embodiments, the supporting member will include a wireless charging element such as a wireless charging antenna. In certain embodiments, the localized outlet 1102 will include a USB receptacle or other device for wired charging of the personal electronic device 1104. In certain embodiments, the localized outlet 1102 will include an energy storage device adapted and configured to provide energy to the personal electronic device wirelessly or with in wired fashion as described above.

[0069] In certain embodiments, the energy storage device will include an electrochemical battery such as, for example and without limitation, a lithium- ion battery, a lead add battery, and aluminum-air battery, a Clarksville-Daniell cell, a lithium air battery, magnesium battery, Mercury battery, a nickel iron battery, or any other electrochemical battery such as is known or may become known in the art. In certain embodiments, the energy storage device will include a capacitive device such as, for example, a super capacitor.

[0070] In the illustrated embodiment, the localized outlet 1102 includes a daisychain coupling device 1112 with a first electrical coupler 1114 at one end and a second electrical coupler 1116 at and other end thereof. As will be illustrated below, during a storage time interval, the electrical couplers will provide for coupling between an external power supply and the localized outlet 1102 for recharging of the energy storage device within the localized outlet.

[0071] Fig. 12 shows, in schematic perspective view, a method and apparatus for daisychain charging 1200 of respective electrical storage devices of respective localized outlets 1202, 1204, 1206, 1208, 1210. As illustrated, each of the respective localized outlets is substantially permanently fastened to a respective shopping cart 1212, 1214, 1216, 1218, 1220.

[0072] A coupling device 1222 of localized outlet 1210 includes a first coupler 1224 that couples to a respective coupler 1226 of a charging station 1228. A second coupler 1230 of localized outlet 1210 is available to receive a first coupler 1232 of localized 1208. Electrical current passes through the respective couplers of each localized charging station so that, as the shopping carts are stacked together all of the localized charging outlets have access to electrical energy from the charging station 1228 for recharging energy storage devices.

[0073] One of skill in the art will readily appreciate that the shape and arrangement of the shopping carts, along with respective complementary shapes and arrangements of the couplers provide automatic alignment and temporary electrical connection between the respective localized outlets for charging. Moreover, as each shopping cart is withdrawn, the complementary couplers disconnect and are arranged electrically and mechanically to prevent accidental short-circuiting of the energy storage device within the respective localized outlet.

[0074] The net result is that, for example, a shopper can use the personal electronic device for, for example, maintaining a shopping list, while recharging the electronic device or maintaining his charge during a shopping process. Of course, a variety of other applications (such as, for example and without limitation, a parts picker in a shipping warehouse or other logistics facility) will readily be apparent to one of skill in the art in light of the present disclosure.

[0075] Referring again to Fig. 4, and now with reference to Fig. 13: Fig. 13 shows, in schematic front view, certain features of a further embodiment of the invention, including a localized outlet 1300. Localized outlet 1300 includes a cover module 1302 with an exemplary convenience feature. Here, the exemplary convenience feature is shown as a handbag hook 1304. The localized outlet 1300 also includes an exemplary charging port, shown here as a USB port 1306 and, in addition, a further power outlet 1308.

[0076] In the illustrated embodiments, the further power outlet 1308 is configured as a mains voltage power receptacle. Accordingly, in certain embodiments, a user of the charging system is presented with the opportunity to attach a device for low-voltage charging, a device for mains voltage power supply, or both.

[0077] One of skill in the art will readily recognize that the mains voltage power receptacle illustrated includes a line prong receptacle 1310, a neutral prong receptacle 1312 and a safety ground prong receptacle 1314, all arranged in the standard NEMA 5-15 receptacle configuration employed in North

America for 115-120 V service. Of course, alternative configurations will be employed in other venues according to the requirements of local standards.

[0078] In the illustrated embodiment, the localized outlet is shown to include a substantially permanent enclosed housing. This housing will, in

corresponding embodiments, include a backplate enclosure 1316 with a flange portion 1318. In the illustrated example, the flange portion 1318 includes first 1320 and second 1322 through holes arranged to receive respective mounting screws or other fastening devices.

[0079] Also in the illustrated embodiments, a third mounting screw hole is shown 1324 that passes through the body of the housing 1302, through an aperture of the backplate (not visible) and into an underlying substrate material for effectively mechanically mounting the localized outlet 1302 that substrate.

[0080] In the illustrated embodiment, localized outlet 1300 includes a power supply cord 1326 with a strain relief device 1328. The power supply cord will, in certain embodiments, supply mains power to a post the power outlet 1308, and to a power inlet of a voltage conversion device (not visible) disposed within an internal cavity of the housing localized outlet 1300. In some embodiments, mains power will be supplied by internal wiring in parallel to the power outlet 1308 and the internal voltage conversion device. In other embodiments, power will be supplied to a circuit board of the power conversion device and, from there, to the power outlet 1308. In various embodiments, the power conversion device and power outlet 1308 will be formed as an integrated module, the bulk of which is disposed within the internal cavity of the localized outlet. The strain relief device 1328 serves to flexibly couple the power supply cable 1326 to the housing 1302 so as to provide effective mechanical support while preventing damage to the power supply cable.

[0081] Fig. 14 shows, in schematic perspective view, further aspects of a localized outlet 1400 like outlet 1300 of Fig. 13. In the illustrated embodiment, backplate 1402 of localized outlet 1400 is more visible. Exemplary mounting screws 1404, 1406 can be seen in their respective locations. In addition, an exemplary fastener 1408 is shown. The exemplary fastener 1408 serves to substantially permanently mechanically couple the backplate 1402 to the housing 1410 of the localized outlet 1400 so as to prevent access by unauthorized persons to dangerous electrical voltages that may exist within the localized outlet.

[0082] Fig. 15A shows, in schematic view, an alternative embodiment of a localized outlet 1500. Localized outlet 1500 is similar to the localized outlet of Fig's 13 and 14, but includes an alternative power supply arrangement. Specifically, localized outlet 1500 includes a backplate 1502 with a coupling feature 1504.

Coupling feature 1504 is substantially fixedly coupled (or arranged to be readily coupled) to an armored cable 1506 which is arranged and configured to supply power at, for example, mains voltage, to the localized outlet 1500. One of skill in the art will readily appreciate that armored cable, of the type shown, will be readily coupled to a standard electrical system within a commercial or residential environment.

[0083] Fig. 15B shows, in schematic view, an alternative embodiment of a localized outlet 1550. Localized outlet 1550 is similar to the localized outlet of Fig. 15A, but includes an alternative power supply arrangement. Specifically, localized outlet 1550 includes a backplate 1552 with a coupling feature 1554. Coupling feature 1554 is substantially fixedly coupled (or arranged to be readily coupled) to a more or less rigid electrical conduit 1556. The electrical conduit 1556 is arranged and configured to supply power at, for example, mains voltage, to the localized outlet 1550. One of skill in the art will readily appreciate that the electrical conduit, of the type shown, will be readily coupled to a standard electrical system within a commercial or residential environment. Well-known conduits types include electromechanical tubing (EMT) conduit, rigid metal conduit, liquid-tight conduit and rigid PVC conduit, among others.

[0084] Fig. 16 shows, in cutaway perspective view, an exemplary installation arrangement 1600 in which a plurality of localized outlets, e.g., 1602, 6004, 1606 are substantially fixedly mounted to a front surface 1608 of a pedestal portion 1610 of a service bar 1612. Respective mains voltage supply cables 1614, 1616 serve to couple localized outlets 1602 and 1604 to an electrical junction box 1618. One of skill in the art will readily recognize that supply cable 1614, 1616 will, in respective

embodiments, be configured as flexible cable, armored cable (as shown in Fig.

15A), EMT conduit (as shown in Fig. 15B) or any other configuration acceptable to local standards and/or appropriate to the conditions of a particular application. Again, in a manner known in the art, the junction box 1618 will be supplied with power through, for example, additional portions of electrical conduit or supply cables 1620 which are ultimately connected to mains power.

[0085] In light of the foregoing, one of skill in the art will understand that in certain aspects, the invention will include a charging system for a personal electronic device. The charging system will, in certain embodiments, include a plurality of charging modules. The plurality of charging modules will each be electrically connected to a source of mains power and at least one charging module of the plurality of charging modules will include both a mains power receptacle and a low voltage charging connector for a personal electronic device respectively integrated into a charging module housing of the at least one charging module. The charging module housing includes, in certain embodiments, a convenience feature and a mounting feature, where the convenience feature is adapted to support a personal article and the mounting feature is adapted to fasten the charging module to a supporting substrate such as, for example, the front of a bar. [0086] In certain embodiments, the coupling feature will include a hook. The hook will, in respective embodiments, be arranged and configured to support any one of a pocketbook, a jacket, a personal electronic device, or other personal article. In certain embodiments, the charging connector for a personal electronic device will be a charging connector for any one of a smart phone, computer tablet, or laptop computer.

[0087] While the exemplary embodiments described above have been chosen primarily from the field of convenience chargers and charging systems for commercial establishments, one of skill in the art will appreciate that the principles of the invention are equally well applied, and that the benefits of the present invention are equally well realized, in a wide variety of other circumstances and environments including, for example, those found in home, automotive and public spaces. Further, while the invention has been described in detail in connection with the presently preferred embodiments, it should be readily understood that the invention is not limited to such disclosed embodiments. Rather, the invention can be modified to incorporate any number of variations, alterations, substitutions, or equivalent arrangements not heretofore described, but which are commensurate with the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not to be seen as limited by the foregoing description, but should occupy the full scope of the appended claims, and such other claims as may be properly presented in the future.