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Title:
MULTIFUNCTION MAT AND FLOTATION DEVICE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/209985
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A flotation device, includes a plurality of positively buoyant components. In addition, the flotation device includes one or more cords coupling the plurality of components to one another in a plurality of rows and columns.

Inventors:
JARAMILLO, Rafael (4417 E. Hiddenview Drive, Phoenix, Arizona, 85048, US)
JARAMILLO, Charlotte Ann (4417 E. Hiddenview Drive, Phoenix, Arizona, 85048, US)
JARAMILLO, Andres L. (4417 E. Hiddenview Drive, Phoenix, Arizona, 85048, US)
Application Number:
US2017/033464
Publication Date:
December 07, 2017
Filing Date:
May 19, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
À-LA-CORK, L.L.C. (4417 E. Hiddenview Drive, Phoenix, Arizona, 85048, US)
International Classes:
B63B35/73; B63B35/74; B63C9/08
Foreign References:
US20120252293A12012-10-04
US1829137A1931-10-27
US6056613A2000-05-02
US4824411A1989-04-25
US20140290022A12014-10-02
US20110293373A12011-12-01
US20110183557A12011-07-28
US5441006A1995-08-15
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MAAG, Gregory L. (Conley Rose, P.C.575 N. Dairy Ashford Rd.,Suite 110, Houston Texas, 77079, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A fioatati on device, compri sing:

a plurality of buoyant components; and

a connecting means,

wherein the components are arranged in at least a single plane and are connected via the connecting means and wherein each component displaces water volume in the range of about 10 cm3 to about 1 50 cm5.

2. The floatation device of claim 1 wherein each of the plurality of components has a water buoyancy ratio in the range of about 1 to about 40.

3. The floatation device of claim 1 wherein the floatation device consists of a single plane of connected buoyant components,

4. The floatation device of claim 1, wherein the plurality of components are each made of material selected from the group consisting of cork and wood.

5. The floatation device of claim 1, wherein the connecting means compri ses a plurality of cords.

6. The floatation device of claim 1 , wherein the connecting means consists of a single cord.

7. The floatation device of claim 1, wherein each of the plurality of components is rod shaped.

8. The floatation device of claim 7, wherein ail of the plurality of components have nearly the same dimensions.

9. The floatation device of claim I wherein the plurality of components comprise cork and have a height, width and length in the range of about 2.0 centimeters to about 7.5 centimeters.

10. The flotation device of claim 7 wherein the plurality of components are each formed to include a central axis and at least one axially extending planar surface.

1 1. The fl oatation device of claim 7 wherein each of the plurality of components comprises a central axis and a pair of axially extending planar surfaces disposed radially opposite one another about the central axis.

12. A flotation device, comprising:

a plurality of positively buoyant components; and

one or more cords coupling the plurality of positively buoyant components to one another in plane having a plurality of rows and columns of positively buoyant components.

13. The flotation device of claim 12, wherein the plurality of positively buoyant components are cylindrical in shape,

14. The flotation device of claim 13, wherein the plurality of positively buoyant components are each formed to include a central axis and an axially extending planar surface.

15. The flotation device of claim 12, wherein the plurality of positivel buoyant components are each formed to include a central axis and a pair of axially extending planar surfaces disposed radially opposite one another about the central axis,

16. The flotation device of claim 15, wherein the plurality of positively buoyant components further comprises a pair of cylindrical surfaces that are radially opposite one another about the central axis.

17. The floatation device of claim 16, wherein the plurality of positively buoyant components are arranged such that one of the pair of planar surfaces of each of the plurality of positively buoyant components is adjacent one of the pair of planar surfaces of another of the plurality of positively buoyant components.

18. The flotation device of claim 17, wherein each of the plurality of positively buoyant components is made of cork.

19. A device, comprising:

a plurality of buoyant components; and

a connecting means;

wherein the components are arranged in at least a single plane and are connected via the connecting means and wherein each component has a water buoyancy ratio in the range of about 1 to about 40.

20. The device of claim 19, wherein the components are made of material selected from the group consisting of cork and wood.

21. The device of claim 19, wherein the connecting means comprises a plurality of cords.

22. The device of claim 19, wherein the connecting means consists of a single cord.

23. The device of claim 19, wherein the components are rod shaped.

24. The device of claim 19, wherein all of the components have nearly the same dimensions.

25. A device, comprising:

a plurality of buoyant components, and

a connecting means; wherein the components are arranged in at least a single plane and are connected via the connecting means and wherein the components in the aggregate provide sufficient buoyancy to maintain an individual afloat on water.

26. The device of claim 25, wherein the components are made of material selected from the group consisting of cork and wood.

27. The device of claim 25, wherein the connecting means comprises a plurality of cords.

28. The device of claim 25, wherein the connecting means consists of a single cord.

29. The device of claim 25, wherein all of the components have nearly the same dimensions.

30. A device, comprising:

a plurality of cork components with a height, width and length in the range of about 2.0 centimeters to about 7,5 centimeters; and

a connecting means;

wherein the cork components are arranged in at least a single plane, are connected via the connecting means and wherein the cork components in the aggregate provide sufficient buoyancy to maintain an individual afloat on water.

31. The device of claim 19, wherein ail of the components have nearly the same dimensions.

32. A device, comprising:

a plurality of components; and

a connecting means;

wherein the components are arranged in at least a single plane and are connected via the connecting means and wherein the components in the aggregate provide sufficient buoyancy to maintain an individual afloat on water and wherein the components and connecting means are sized and configured to enable the device to be rolled up.

33. The device of claim 32, wherein the components are made of material selected from the group consisting of cork and wood.

34. The device of claim 32, wherein the connecting means comprises a plurality of cords.

35. The device of claim 32, wherein the connecting means consists of a single cord.

36. The device of claim 32, wherein all of the components have nearly the same dimensions.

AMENDED CLAIMS

received by the International Bureau on 09 October 2017 (09.10.2017)

What is claimed is:

1. A fl oatati on de vi ce, compri si ng :

a plurality of elongate and buoyant components, each of the components having a longitudinally extending central axis and a generally cylindrical outer surface; and

a connecting means;

wherein the components are arranged in at least a single plane in a plurality of rows and in a plurality of columns and are connected via the connecting means; and wherein each row and each column includes a plurality of the components, and wherein the plurality of components are connected such that the central axes of the components are all parallel ,

2. The fl oatation device of claim I wherein each of the plurality of components has a water buoyancy ratio in the range of about 1 to about 40.

3. The floatation device of claim 1 wherein the floatation device consists of a single plane of connected buoyant components.

4. The floatation device of claim 1, wherein the plurality of components are each made of material selected from the group consisting of cork and wood.

5. The floatation device of claim 1 , wherein the connecting means comprises a plurality of cords.

6. The floatation device of claim 1, wherein the connecting means consists of a single cord.

7. The floatation device of claim 1 , wherein each of the plurality of components is rod shaped.

8. The floatation device of claim 7, wherein all of the plurality of components have nearly the same dimensions.

9. The floatation device of claim 1 wherein the plurality of components comprise cork and have a height, width and length in the range of about 2.0 centimeters to about 7.5 centimeters.

10. The flotation device of claim 1 wherein the outer surface of the plurality of components includes at least one axially extending planar surface.

1 1. The floatation device of claim 10 wherein the outer surface of each of the plurality of components comprises a pair of axially extending planar surfaces disposed radially opposite one another about the central axis.

12. A flotation device, comprising:

a plurality of positively buoyant elongate components having a central axis and a generally cylindrical outer surface; and

one or more cords coupling the plurality of positively buoyant components to one another in plane having a plurality of rows and columns of positively buoyant components; and

wherein the outer surface of the plurality of components includes at least one axially extending planar surface.

13. (Cancelled)

14. (Cancelled)

15. The flotation device of claim 12, wherein each of the plurality of positively buoyant components include a pair of axially extending planar surfaces disposed radially opposite one another about the central axis.

16. The flotation device of claim 15, wherein each of the plurality of positively buoyant components further comprises a pair of cylindrical surfaces that are radially opposite one another about the central axis, each of the pair of cylindrical surfaces being disposed between the pair of planar surfaces.

17. The floatation device of claim 16, wherein the plurality of positively buoyant components are arranged such that one of the pair of planar surfaces of each of the plurality of positively buoyant components in a first row is adjacent one of the pair of planar surfaces of another of the plurality of positively buoyant components in a second row that is adjacent the first row. 8. The flotation device of claim 17, wherein each of the plurality of positively buoyant components is made of cork.

19. A device, comprising:

a plurality of buoyant components; and

a connecting means;

wherein the components are arranged in at least a single plane and are connected via the connecting means and wherein each component has a water buoyancy ratio in the range of about 1 to about 40.

20. The device of claim 19, wherein the components are made of material selected from the group consisting of cork and wood.

21. The device of claim 19, wherein the connecting means comprises a plurality of cords.

22. The device of claim 19, wherein the connecting means consists of a single cord.

23. The device of claim 19, wherein the components are rod shaped.

24. The device of claim 19, wherein all of the components have nearly the same dimensions.

25. A device, comprising:

a plurality of elongate and buoyant components, each having a longitudinally-extending central axis; and

a connecting means;

wherein the components are arranged in at least a single plane in a plurality of rows and in a plurality of columns and are connected via the connecting means; and wherein each row includes a plurality of the components; and wherein the plurality of components are connected such that the central axes of the components are all parallel; and

wherein the components in the aggregate provide sufficient buoyancy to maintain an individual afloat on water.

26. The device of claim 25, wherein the components are made of material selected from the group consisting of cork and wood.

27. The device of claim 25, wherein the connecting means comprises a plurality of cords.

28. The device of claim 25, wherein the connecting means consists of a single cord.

29. The device of claim 25, wherein all of the components have nearly the same dimensions.

30. A device, comprising:

a plurality of elongate cork components with a height, width and length in the range of about 2,0 centimeters to about 7.5 centimeters and including a central axis; and a connecting means; and

wherein the cork components are arranged in at least a single plane in a plurality of rows and in a plurality of columns and are connected via the connecting means; and wherein each row includes a plurality of the components; and wherein the plurality of components are connected such that the central axes of the components are all parallel, and

wherein the cork components in the aggregate provide sufficient buoyancy to maintain an individual afloat on water.

31. The device of claim 19, wherein ail of the plurality of components have nearly the same dimensions.

32-36. (Cancelled)

37. The device of claim 3 1 wherein the outer surface of the plurality of components includes at least one axial ly extending planar surface

Description:
MULTIFUNCTION MAT AND FLOTATION DEVICE

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Serial No. 62/343,343, filed May 31, 2016, and entitled "Multifunction Mat and Flotation Device," which is hereby incorporated herein by references in its entirety.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0002] Not applicable.

BACKGROUND

[0003] This disclosure relates to water flotation devices designed to support a human on water for recreational purposes. This device could also be used on any surface as a recreational mat, shielding the user from the roughness of the surface.

[0004] There are several types of flotation devices for the pool, ocean and other types of bodies of water. These devices typically include floating chairs, inflatable rafts, inner-tubes, panels, and other devices typically with large rigid synthetic foam pieces. While some of these devices have a limited degree of convertibility, they are basically non-adjustable and intended for a single, fixed body position of the bather.

[0005] These flotation devices are cumbersome and absorb heat from the sun, making them uncomfortable for prolonged use. In addition, these flotation devices are rigid and thereby limit one's movement in the water. For instance, devices requiring inflation necessitate the need for either an external air pump or a person to manually inflate the device. This proves to be cumbersome and in the latter case, exhausting. Once the device is inflated, pinhole leaks can develop which allow air to escape causing them to deflate and gradually become less effective in their continued use. In that case, the flotation device must either be re-inflated or the hole must be patched. Other drawbacks to existing flotation devices are that they hold the majority of one's body above the surface of the water, which reduces the cooling effect of the water on the body. This allows one's body to become very hot while also greatly reducing the movement of the body for propulsion and/or exercise purposes. In addition, the exposed surface of the flotation device absorbs radiant heat, which transfers to the rest of the device making the overall device hot and uncomfortable to the user.

[0006] The prior art also describes flotation devices that do not conform to the contour of the body, chairs made of inflexible panels that require proper balancing for its stability and proper flotation , In some cases, stability is achieved by adding components external to the central seating components greatly complicating the device and resulting in a product that is bulky and difficult to store.

[0007] In most of cases, devices in the prior art are made from non-natural material(s), such as, for example, plastic, STYROFOAM™, and other synthetics that are disposed of in land fills thereby contributing to the generation of pollution. Also, devices of the prior art are not versatile, being specifically design to be used solely on a body of water as a flotation device and not on a variety of terrains such as grass, gravel, sand or any other surfaces common in recreational areas. Even in cases where devices could be used on land, thev absorb heat due to their material composition as previously described, making them hot to the touch and uncomfortable. Also because of their configuration, some devices are not conducive to easy storage.

[0008] Another inherent problem with some inflatable devices of the prior art is that they can be easily moved by winds. Extra effort is required to weigh down or secure these devices to prevent them from being blown away, creating a challenge for their recreational use.

[0009] In addition, flotation devices of the prior art do not conform to the shape of a user's body making them less comfortable to the user.

[0010] It would be an improvement on the prior art to create a flotation device that does not absorb solar heat, will conform to the shape of the user, will not be easily moved by the wind, is easily stored for transport, is made from natural and/or biodegradable materials, and does not require inflation. An additional benefit would be if the device was sufficiently versatile to have uses outside of their use on bodies of water. Such a device that overcomes the shortcomings of the devices of the prior art would be novel.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

[0011] Some embodiments disclosed herein include a device comprising a plurality of components, and a connecting means, wherein the components are arranged in at least a single plane and are connected via a connecting means and wherein the components in the aggregate provide sufficient buoyancy to maintain an individual afloat on water. In addition, in at least some embodiments, one or more of the components include one or more planar or faceted surfaces thereon to prevent rolling of the one or more components (e.g., such as when the device is stepped on by a person),

[0012] Embodiments described herein comprise a combination of features and advantages intended to address various shortcomings associated with certain prior devices, systems, and methods. The foregoing has outlined rather broadly the features and technical advantages of the disclosed embodiments in order that the detailed description that follows may be better understood. The various characteristics described above, as well as other features, will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading the following detailed description, and by referring to the accompanying drawings. It should be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that the conception and the specific embodiments disclosed may be readily utilized as a basis for modifying or designing other structures for carrying out the same purposes as the disclosed embodiments. It should also be realized by those of ordinary skill in the art that such equivalent constructions do not depart from the spirit and scope of the principles disclosed herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] For a detailed description of various embodiments, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings in which:

[0014] Figure 1 is a top view illustration demonstrating one way in which the components and connecting means may be combined to make an embodiment of a device disclosed herein;

[0015] Figures 2a and 2b are a top views illustration wherein the connecting means is a cord that connects the cylindrical components that make up the device of Figure 1;

[0016] Figure 3 is a side cross-sectional view illustration of a connecting device for combining several devices together to make a larger dimension mat;

[0017] Figure 4 is a side view illustration of the device of Figure 1 acting as a flotation device for an individual on water;

[0018] Figure 5 is a side view illustration demonstrating how the device of Figure 1 could be orientated to provide the user with a headrest; [0019] Figure 6 is a side view illustration demonstrating on how the device of Figure 1 could be oriented in an rolled-up configuration;

[0020] Figure 7 is a side view illustration of how the device of Figure 1 could be used to float an object such as a cooler on water;

[0021] Figure 8 is a side view illustration of a manner in which a "buoyancy ratio" is measured;

[0022] Figure 9a is a perspective view of the device of Figure 1 rolled up;

[0023] Figure 9b is a side view of the device Figure 1 rolled up;

[0024] Figure 10 is a top view illustration of an alternative design of the device of Figure 1 wherein the components are of different sizes; and

[0025] Figure 11 is a perspective view of another component for use within a flotation device in accordance with at least some embodiments disclosed herein;

[0026] Figure 12 is a perspective view of a plurality of the components of Figure 11 formed into a plurality of rows and columns in a flotation device in accordance with at least some embodiments disclosed herein; and

[0027] Figure 13 is a cross-sectional view of two of the components of the device of Figure 12.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

[0028] The following discussion is directed to various exemplary embodiments. However, one skilled in the art will understand that the examples disclosed herein have broad application, and that the discussion of any embodiment is meant only to be exemplary of that embodiment, and not intended to suggest that the scope of the disclosure, including the claims, is limited to that embodiment.

[0029] Certain terms are used throughout the following description and claims to refer to particular features or components. As one skilled in the art will appreciate, different persons may refer to the same feature or component by different names. This document does not intend to distinguish between components or features that differ in name but not function. The drawing figures are not necessarily to scale. Certain features and components herein may be shown exaggerated in scale or in somewhat schematic form and some details of conventional elements may not be shown in interest of clarity and conciseness.

[0030] In the following discussion and in the claims, the terms "including" and "comprising" are used in an open-ended fashion, and thus should be interpreted to mean "including, but not limited to... ." Also, the term "couple" or "couples" is intended to mean either an indirect or direct connection. Thus, if a first device couples to a second device, that connection may be through a direct connection, or through an indirect connection via other devices, components, and connections. In addition, as used herein, the terms "axial" and "axially" generally mean along or parallel to a central axis (e.g., central axis of a body or a port), while the terms "radial" and "radially" generally mean perpendicular to the central axis. For instance, an axial distance refers to a distance measured along or parallel to the central axis, and a radial distance means a distance measured perpendicular to the central axis.

[0031] Embodiments disclosed herein provide an easy to use floating device made from natural or recycled material, adjustable to the body, configurable for support in various parts of the body, non-inflatable (and therefore unaffected by puncturing), durable and non-polluting (e.g., when using natural components such as cork or balsa wood), versatile mat for any possible recreational surface, not impacted by the wind or severe wind drift conditions. Thus, embodiments disclosed herein include a flotation device comprising a multitude of buoyant components and a means of connecting the components into a mat. The component array forms a floating mat, supporting an individual therein, keeping the body of a person or user proportionally in contact with the water. In a flat or rolled configuration, the mats are shaped to form a compact seat or stack of mats suitable for transportation, storage and the like.

[0032] The term "connecting means" refers to any device capable of connecting a plurality of components. Such devices include, but are not limited to, cords, twine, string or rope made of natural or synthetic material. Synthetic materials include, but are not limited to, nylon or polyester. Natural materials include, but are not limited to, silk, linen, cotton or hemp. Moreover, the terms line or cord are broadly used to refer to and encompass any rope, line, twine, string, cable, cord, chain, etc. It is preferred that any connecting means allows for the device of the present invention to be rolled up as shown in Figures 6 and 9. In addition, it has been found that when the plurality of components are cylindrical, such as is the cases with wine corks, it is advantageous for the device to include cords that prevent the rolling of the device. In one example, two sets of cords perpendicular to one another could be used for this purpose as shown in Figure 2b. In the alternative the connecting means could be as shown in Figure 3.

[0033] "Components" of the disclosed embodiments include those made of material that in the aggregate will provide sufficient buoyancy to maintain an individual afloat on water. Preferably the materials would be natural or recyclable such as, for example, cork or balsa wood. Components made of natural cork are preferred because of the abundance of used corks from wine and champagne bottles worldwide. In addition, the existence of cork manufacturing equipment and capacity provides for a ready supply of appropriate components. Depending on the size of each component, the number of components required is equal to the number necessary to maintain the buoyancy of an individual. For example, when conventional wine corks are used as a component in the construction of the device of the present invention, over a 1000 corks may be required to maintain the buoyancy of the average adult individual (150 pounds or 68 kilograms). It is appreciated that the number of components necessary for buoyancy may vary depending on the size and weight of the individual user.

[0034] The term "rolled up" refers to the ability of the disclosed devices to be rolled on to themselves to create cylindrical tubes. It is understood that there is an upper limit in the size that a component can be wherein the corresponding device can be rolled up as illustrated in Figures 6 and 9. As shown in Figure 9a and 9b, device 103 is rolled up on itself. It is understood that component(s) 101 beyond a certain size would also make it the corresponding device impractical for easy storage.

[0035] The components may be made in many shapes as well. For example, they can be spherical, cylindrical, or square in some embodiments. Components are preferably of comfortable diameter but not limited to, half inch to three inches, and are buoyant on or in water. In at least some embodiments, components are preferably positively buoyant such that they float on the surface of the water. These components provide support of the user on water and are of a dimension that facilitates handling and storage. As illustrated in Figure 10, component(s) 101 can be of various sizes.

[0036] The term "individual" includes humans or animals. Animals include pets such as, for example, dogs or cats. It is contemplated that devices disclosed herein could also be used to support items on the water to be transported or stored, such as, for example, coolers for drinks and/or food as shown in Figure 7. Devices disclosed herein may be also used to transport items across a body of water such as a river.

[0037] Referring now to Figure 1, the floating device made from a plurality of components 101 interconnected via connecting means 102. The aggregate of components creates a mat. [0038] In Figure 2a, component(s) 101 are strung together with connecting means 102 wherein the connecting means 102 are cords. Figures 2a and 2b illustrates that it is preferable to maintain space between the components 101 to avoid stress on each individual component 101 . Several passes of the cord are made lengthwise along the mat to ensure the rows of the components remain tight and together.

[0039] Figure 4 shows individual 105 on the device 103. In Figure 3, connection device 110 is used to combine components 101. In circumstance where it may be desirable to increase the dimensions of a single device, several devices (e.g., devices 103) and/or components (e.g., components 101) can be combined by using connection device 1 10.

[0040] Referring to Figure 4 and Figure 5, device 103 acts as a body supporting mat where various positions can be used. The device 103 molds to the body of individual 105. More than one device 103 can be stacked to provide more floating support if desired,

[0041] Figure 5 demonstrates the flexibility of device 103 wherein at least a portion of device 103 can be rolled up to provide neck and head support (i.e., a head rest). It is understood that device 103 can be rolled up at any end, for example to provide a footrest. Due to its flexibility and adaptability to the body contour, device 103 is also ideal as a mat to lay on the grass, sand, pebbles or rough surface, providing comfort for the user.

[0042] Figure 6 illustrates device 103 in a roiled up orientation, which is used as body support for individual 105 to provide for appendage flexibility of movement. This orientation allows for exercising of the upper and lower body.

[0043] Figure 7 illustrates another use of device 103 as a flotation or transport device for object 106. In this illustration object 106 is a vessel for maintaining food and beverages cold cooler.

[0044] In some embodiments, components 101 may be linked or coupled together within device 103 such that components 101 may not rotate about their respective axes during use. For example, in some embodiments connection device 110 of Figure 3 is configured to prevent such rotation of components. In other embodiments, the shape of the components (e.g., components 101) themselves may be configured to prevent such rotation. For example, referring to Figure 11, an embodiment of a component 201 for use within device 103 is shown. While only one component 201 is shown in Figure 11, it should be understood and appreciated that, in some embodiments disclosed herein, each of the components 201 making up a device (e.g., device 103) are configured the same. In other embodiment, most, or a large number, but not necessarily all of the components are so configured.

[0045] In the embodiment of Figure 11, component 201 is a generally cylindrical member (e.g., a wine cork) that includes a generally cylindrical body 210 having a central axis 215, a first end 210a, a second end 210b opposite first end 210a, a central throughbore 211 extending axially between ends 210a, 210b, and a radially outer surface 210c also extending axially between ends 210a, 210b. First end 210a includes a planar surface 212 that extends perpendicularly to axis 215, and second end 210b includes a planar surface 214 that also extends perpendicularly to axis 215. Thus, planar surfaces 212, 214 are parallel to and axially offset from one another. Throughbore 211 extends axially from and through each of the surfaces 212, 214.

[0046] Radially outer surface 210c includes a pair of cylindrical surfaces 216, 218, and a pair of planar surface 217, 219. Cylindrical surfaces 216, 218 are radially opposite one another across axis 215 and planar surfaces 217, 218 are radially opposite one another across axis 215. In other words, cylindrical surfaces 216, 218 are disposed approximately 180° from one another about axis 215, and planar surfaces 217, 219 are disposed approximately 180° from one another about axis 215. Each planar surface 217, 219 lies within a respective plane (each of the planes defined by surfaces 217, 219) that are parallel to and radially offset from axis 215. Thus, surfaces 217, 219 are parallel and radially offset from axis 215 and one another. Cylindrical surfaces 216, 218 each extend along the same radius of curvature. Thus, planar surfaces 217, 219 are mirror images of one another across axis 215 and cylindrical surfaces 2216, 218 are mirror images of one another across axis 215. As a result, the cross-sectional area of component 201 along a plane perpendicular to axis 215 (e.g., see cross-sections shown in Figure 13) resembles a double- truncated circle with two opposing flats or facets (e.g., flats or facets represented by planar surfaces 217, 219).

[0047] Each of the planar surfaces 217, 219 and cylindrical surfaces 216, 218 meet and engage one another at a plurality of corners 220, 221, 222, 223. Specifically, planar surface 217 extends between cylindrical surfaces 216, 218, meets or engages cylindrical surface 216 at a corner 220, and meets or engages cylindrical surface 218 at a corner 221. Similarly, planar surface 219 extends between cylindrical surfaces 216, 218, meets or engages with cylindrical surface 216 at a corner 222, and meets or engages with cylindrical surface 218 at a corner 223. [0048] Referring now to Figure 12, as with components 101, components 201 may be coupled to one another and formed into a device 230 (e.g., a flotation device). For example, components 201 may be coupled to one another with a cord, rope, or other similar coupling device to form a floatation device in a manner similar to that described above for linking and/or coupling components 101 within device 103. As shown in Figure 12, a plurality of components 201 are linked or coupled together in a manner similar to that described and shown in Figures 2a, 2b for components 101. For brevity, the ropes, cord, etc. coupling components 201 to one another is not shown in Figure 12, but it should be appreciated that such rope, cord, etc. may be similar to that shown in Figures 2a and 2b.

[0049] Due to the inherent flexibility of any rope or cord joining components 201 to one another, components may move relative to one another; however, in an idealized case such as if device

230 were placed on a perfectly flat planar surface, each of the components 201 would be arranged into a plurality of rows 231 and columns 232. The components 201 within each row

231 are generally axially aligned such that axes 215 of each of the components 201 in a given row 231 are aligned with one another. As a result, the components 201 within each row 231 are arranged such that the first end 210a of one component 201 is immediately axially adjacent the second end 210b of the adjacent component 201 within that row 231. In addition, the components 201 within each column 232 are arranged such that the planar surfaces 217, 219 of each adjacent component 201 are proximate one another. Specifically, as shown in Figure 12, the components 201 in each column 232 are arranged such that the planar surface 217 of one component 201 is immediately adjacent the planar surface 219 of the adjacent component within that column 232.

[0050] Referring now to Figure 13, two components 201 A, 20 IB within a given column 232 of the device 231 of Figure 12 are shown in cross-section (e.g., a cross-section that extends perpendicularly through axes 215). As can be appreciated from Figure 13, rotation of either component 201 about their respective axis 215 relative to the other component 201 is restricted by eventual engagement of one of the corners 220, 221, 222, 223 with one of the surfaces 217, 219. For example, if component 201A were to rotate about its axis 215 relative to component 20 IB, one of the corners 222, 223 (the choice of which being dependent upon the direction of rotation of component 201 A) would eventually contact and engage with planar surface 217 on component 201B, thereby foreclosing or preventing any further of rotation of component 201A relative to component 201B. Similarly, if component 201B were to rotate about its axis 215 relative to component 201 A, one of the corners 220, 221 (the choice of which being dependent upon the direction of rotation of component 20 IB) would eventually contact and engage with planar surface 219 on component 201 A, thereby foreclosing or preventing any further rotation of component 201B relative to component 201A. Thus, by forming components 201 (e.g., components 201A, 201B) to have radially opposing planar surfaces 217, 219 or facets, components 201 within device 230 are prevented from rotating or rolling about their respective axes 215 during use, such that safety of device 230 may be enhanced, such as, for example, if device is stepped on by a user along a hard or non-liquid surface. In other words, preventing rolling of components 201 when a user steps onto device 230, may prevent sliding of device 230 which may cause the person stepping onto device 230 to fall.

[0051] In other embodiments, components 201 may be arranged within device 230 such that within each column 232 (see Figure 12) each cylindrical surface 216 of each component 201 is immediately adjacent a cylindrical surface 218 of the adjacent component 201 within that column 232. As a result, one of the planar surfaces 217, 219 would be in contact with any support surface (e.g., the ground) to also prevent rotation or rolling of components 201 about their respective axes 215 if an individual should step onto the device 230. In some embodiments, all components within a flotation device are shaped or formed like components 201, while in other embodiment, only some (i.e., less than all, a majority, a minority, etc.) of the components making up a flotation device (e.g., device 230) are formed like components 201, and other components may be formed in other shapes (e.g., such as like components 101). In other embodiments, components (e.g., components 201) may have more or less the two planar surfaces 217, 219. For example, in some embodiments components (e.g., components 201) may be polygonal (e.g., triangular, rectangular, pentagonal, hexagonal, heptagonal, octagonal, etc.) in cross-section or may only have one such planar surface 217.

[0052] As an example, 1,400 wine stoppers were strung together to prove the concept, where twine was used as connecting means. The device was tested in various water bodies (ocean, lake and swimming pool) as well as in sand, grass and rough gravel surfaces. Corks of various dimensions and materials were tested for their buoyancy, as shown in Table 1 below. The cork components were tested by placing sufficient amount of weight to completely submerge the cork component. The term "Buoyancy Ratio" equals the weight necessary to completely submerge a cork over the weight of the cork. The term "submerge" means the upper surface of the cork breaks just below the surface of the water. As illustrated in Figure 8, to measure the buoyancy ratio, component 101 was connected to weight 106 to submerge its upper surface just below the water line 107.

Table 1

[0053] The same corks as tested above were also measured for the volume of water displaced when the cork was submerged as illustrated in Figure 8. The various volumes are captured in Table 2 below.

Table 2

[0054] While exemplary embodiments have been shown and described, modifications thereof can be made by one skilled in the art without departing from the scope or teachings herein. The embodiments described herein are exemplary only and are not limiting. Many variations and modifications of the systems, apparatus, and processes described herein are possible and are within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the scope of protection is not limited to the embodiments described herein, but is only limited by the claims that follow, the scope of which shall include all equivalents of the subject matter of the claims. Unless expressly stated otherwise, the steps in a method claim may be performed in any order. The recitation of identifiers such as (a), (b), (c) or (1), (2), (3) before steps in a method claim are not intended to and do not specify a particular order to the steps, but rather are used to simplify subsequent reference to such steps.