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Title:
TWO-PIECE ARTICULATING CHEST PROTECTOR WITH STRETCHABLE HINGE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/189616
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A chest protector for accommodating a female figure may include an upper portion sized to at least partially surround a user's bust region and having a neck opening shaped to receive a user's neck region. The chest protector may further include a lower portion sized to at least partially surround a user's abdominal region. A flexible element may connect the upper and lower portions to allow the upper portion to articulate with respect to the lower portion. The upper portion may include a breast covering section extending in an anterior direction to form a breast volume for accommodating the user's breasts or breast region. The breast volume may be formed at least in part by connecting a pair of edges positioned on opposing lateral sides of the upper portion. Optionally, the upper portion may overlap the lower portion. The chest protector may be formed from resilient foam or other materials.

Inventors:
GUIDETTI, Giovanni (3500 Willow Lane, Thousand Oaks, California, 91361, US)
Application Number:
US2017/029473
Publication Date:
November 02, 2017
Filing Date:
April 25, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
EASTON DIAMONDS SPORTS, LLC (3500 Willow Lane, Thousand Oaks, California, 91361, US)
International Classes:
A63B71/12; A41D13/05; F41H1/02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BROOKMAN, Stephen A. (Perkins Coie LLP, P.O. Box 1247Seattle, Washington, 98111-1247, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1 . A chest protector comprising:

an upper portion sized to at least partially surround a user's bust region and having a neck opening shaped to receive a user's neck region;

a lower portion sized to at least partially surround a user's abdominal region; and a flexible element connecting the upper portion and the lower portion to allow the upper portion to articulate with respect to the lower portion; wherein the upper portion includes a breast covering section extending in an anterior direction from the upper portion and forming a breast volume for accommodating a breast region, the breast volume being formed at least in part by two pairs of connected edges, each pair of connected edges being positioned on an opposing lateral side of the upper portion.

2. The chest protector of claim 1 wherein a lower part of the upper portion overlaps an upper part of the lower portion.

3. The chest protector of claim 2 wherein the upper part of the lower portion is positioned between an interior side of the chest protector and the lower part of the upper portion.

4. The chest protector of claim 1 wherein the edges of each pair of connected edges are directly connected together.

5. The chest protector of claim 1 wherein the edges of each pair of connected edges are connected together by an intermediate element.

6. The chest protector of claim 1 wherein the upper portion and the lower portion are each formed from a plurality of segments.

7. The chest protector of claim 1 wherein the flexible element extends along a full transverse width of the chest protector.

8. The chest protector of claim 1 wherein the upper portion or the lower portion includes a foam material.

9. A chest protector comprising:

a chest portion positioned to at least partially surround a user's bust region; and an abdominal portion moveably attached to the chest portion; wherein

the chest portion includes a breast volume extending from the chest protector, the breast volume being formed by connecting edges of laterally opposed notches in the chest portion.

10. The chest protector of claim 9 further comprising a flexible element connecting the chest portion and the abdominal portion.

1 1 . The chest protector of claim 9 wherein the chest portion overlaps the abdominal portion.

12. The chest protector of claim 9 wherein the edges of one of the notches are connected together by an intermediate element.

13. The chest protector of claim 9 wherein at least one of the chest portion and the abdominal portion is formed from a plurality of segments.

14. The chest protector of claim 9 further comprising a strap and at least one buckle.

15. The chest protector of claim 9 wherein the chest portion and the abdominal portion include a resilient foam material.

16. A chest protector comprising:

a chest portion positioned to at least partially surround a user's chest region and having a breast covering section extending from the chest protector in an anterior direction to form a breast volume;

an abdominal portion positioned to at least partially surround a user's abdominal region; and

a flexible element connecting the chest portion and the abdominal portion and positioned to allow the chest portion and the abdominal portion to articulate with respect to each other.

17. The chest protector of claim 16 wherein the chest portion comprises a pair of laterally opposing notches, each notch having a pair of opposing edges, and wherein each pair of opposing edges is connected together to cause the breast covering section to have a concave shape that includes the breast volume.

18. The chest protector of claim 16 wherein the chest portion at least partially overlaps the abdominal portion.

19. The chest protector of claim 16 wherein the chest portion is formed from a plurality of segments.

20. The chest protector of claim 19 wherein at least one of the segments carries a protective plate or foam block.

Description:
TWO-PIECE ARTICULATING CHEST PROTECTOR WITH

STRETCHABLE HINGE

BACKGROUND

[0001] Existing chest and/or torso protection for female athletes, such as catchers engaged in softball, baseball, or other sports or activities, tends to be flat or apron-like and fails to conform to various aspects of a female figure. As a result, existing chest and/or torso protection for female catchers may not fit accurately to a variety of female body shapes, or it may not move with a female player in an effective manner, resulting in discomfort, obstructed movement, or reduced safety.

SUMMARY

[0002] A chest protector for accommodating a female figure may include an upper portion sized to at least partially surround a user's bust region and having a neck opening shaped to receive a user's neck region. The chest protector may further include a lower portion sized to at least partially surround a user's abdominal region. A flexible element may connect the upper portion and the lower portion to allow the upper portion to articulate with respect to the lower portion. The upper portion may include a breast covering section extending in an anterior direction from the upper portion to form a breast volume for accommodating the user's breasts or breast region. The breast volume may be formed at least in part by connecting a pair of edges positioned on opposing lateral sides of the upper portion. Optionally, the upper portion may overlap the lower portion. The chest protector may be formed from resilient foam or other materials. Other features and advantages will appear hereinafter. The features described above may be used separately or together, or in various combinations of one or more of them.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0003] In the drawings, wherein the same reference number indicates the same element throughout the views: [0004] Figure 1 illustrates a base pattern for a chest protector in accordance with an embodiment of the present technology.

[0005] Figure 2 illustrates a front view of an at least partially assembled chest protector in accordance with an embodiment of the present technology.

[0006] Figure 3 illustrates a perspective view of the chest protector shown in Figure 2 as worn on a user.

[0007] Figure 4 illustrates a front view of one arrangement of belts and buckles for retaining a chest protector to a user, in accordance with an embodiment of the present technology.

[0008] Figure 5 illustrates a cross-sectional schematic view of the interface between an upper portion, a lower portion, and a flexible connecting portion of a chest protector in accordance with an embodiment of the present technology, taken generally across line A- A in Figure 4.

[0009] Figure 6 illustrates a perspective view of a chest protector in accordance with another embodiment of the present technology.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0010] The present technology is directed to a two-piece articulating chest protector having a stretchable hinge and a volume for accommodating a user's breasts or breast region. Various embodiments of the technology will now be described. The following description provides specific details for a thorough understanding and for enabling description of these embodiments. One skilled in the art will understand, however, that the invention may be practiced without many of these details. Additionally, some well-known structures or functions may not be shown or described in detail so as to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the relevant description of the various embodiments. Accordingly, the technology may include other embodiments with additional elements or without several of the elements described below with reference to Figures 1 -6, which illustrate examples of the technology. [0011] The terminology used in the description presented below is intended to be interpreted in its broadest reasonable manner, even though it is being used in conjunction with a detailed description of certain specific embodiments of the technology. Certain terms may even be emphasized below; however, any terminology intended to be interpreted in any restricted manner will be overtly and specifically defined as such in this detailed description section.

[0012] Where the context permits, singular or plural terms may also include the plural or singular term, respectively. Moreover, unless the word "or" is expressly limited to mean only a single item exclusive from the other items in a list of two or more items, then the use of "or" in such a list is to be interpreted as including (a) any single item in the list, (b) all of the items in the list, or (c) any combination of items in the list. Further, unless otherwise specified, terms such as "attached" or "connected" are intended to include integral connections, as well as connections between physically separate components.

[0013] Specific details of several embodiments of the present technology are described herein with reference to baseball or softball. The technology may also be used in other sports or industries when the disclosed features are desirable. Conventional aspects of chest or torso protective equipment, such as protective materials or retaining straps or buckles to hold the equipment on a user, may be described in reduced detail herein for efficiency and to avoid obscuring the present disclosure of the technology. In various embodiments, a variety of straps, buckles, or other devices may be used to retain the technology on a user's body. In addition, in various embodiments, a variety of materials may be used.

[0014] Figure 1 illustrates a base pattern 100 for a chest protector in accordance with an embodiment of the present technology. The base pattern 100 may include a chest or upper portion 1 10 and an abdominal or lower portion 120. For context, a user's neck region is accommodated in the neck area 125 and a user's arms may be accommodated near the arm and shoulder areas 127. As will be seen in the following figures, the upper portion 1 10 and the lower portion 120 articulate with respect to each other. Each edge of a left and right lateral side of the upper portion 1 10 may include a notch portion 130 having an upper notch edge 140 and a lower notch edge 150. [0015] Figure 2 illustrates a front view of an at least partially assembled chest protector 200 in accordance with an embodiment of the present technology. In assembled form, each upper notch edge 140 is connected to a respective lower notch edge 150 with stitching, adhesive, or another suitable attachment. Accordingly, in some embodiments, the notch portion 130 (which is illustrated in Figure 1 ) may be closed, the resulting geometry of which may cause a breast covering section 210 to push and extend outwardly from a flat plane of the chest protector 200 to form an interior breast volume suitable for accommodating (such as supporting or containing) a user's breasts or breast region. The breast covering section 210 is generally indicated within and in the vicinity of the dashed line indicated by reference number 210 in Figure 2, although in various embodiments, it may have various shapes, sizes, or positions (which may be determined in part by the sizes and shapes of the notch portions 130 shown in Figure 1 ). Accordingly, the chest protector 200 may be sized and shaped to accommodate a variety of bust or breast sizes.

[0016] The upper portion 1 10 and the lower portion 120 are joined together by a flexible connecting portion 220, which may be formed from a fabric, an elastic mesh, or another suitable flexible or stretchable material to form a stretchable hinged connection between the upper portion 1 10 and the lower portion 120. Although the flexible connecting portion 220 is illustrated as extending across the entire interface between the upper and lower portions 1 10, 120, in some embodiments, the flexible connecting portion 220 may only extend across a portion of the interface. For example, in some embodiments, the flexible connecting portion 220 may extend only across a portion of the interface adjacent to a user's anterior abdominal region, and the upper portion 1 10 and the lower portion 120 may be directly connected in one or more locations (such as at lateral edges of the chest protector 200 adjacent to a user's kidney region). The flexible connecting portion 220 allows the upper portion 1 10 and the lower portion 120 to flexibly articulate with respect to each other.

[0017] In some embodiments, one or both of the upper and lower portions 1 10, 120 may be formed from a base layer including a semi-flexible material, such as an ethylene- vinyl acetate (EVA) foam or another suitable material capable of providing impact protection and structural support to hold a shape while maintaining flexibility. In some embodiments, the upper and lower portions 1 10, 120 may each be contiguous or unitary, while in other embodiments, the upper and lower portions 1 10, 120 may each be formed from a plurality of pieces or segments stitched, glued, or otherwise suitably attached together. In some embodiments, one or both of the upper and lower portions 1 10, 120 may include a plurality of protective blocks or segments 230 mounted on the respective base layers or pieces of the upper and lower portions 1 10, 120. The protective segments 230 may include protective foam, protective boards or plates (for example, plastic or other suitably stiff materials), or other materials suitable for providing impact protection. In some embodiments, some or all of the upper and lower portions 1 10, 120 may include an outer covering of a flexible mesh material or a moisture-wicking material.

[0018] Left and right kidney sections 240 of the lower portion 120 may be sized and positioned to wrap around and shield a user's oblique regions. Left and right shoulder covering portions 250 on the upper portion 1 10 may be sized and positioned to wrap over and shield a user's shoulder or collarbone regions. The shoulder covering portions 250 may be strap-like and they may be padded or constructed similar to other sections of the upper and lower portions 1 10, 120. In use, a user's arms extend laterally from within each of the shoulder covering portions 250 (as illustrated in Figure 3, for example).

[0019] Figure 3 illustrates a perspective view of the chest protector 200 as worn on a user. As additionally described above in the context of Figure 2, the interior volume in the breast covering section 210 is created by connecting the notch edges 140, 150 to force an anterior part of the upper portion 1 10 forward into a concave shape that is open toward a user's breasts or breast region. Accordingly, the volume in the breast covering section 210 is positioned to receive a user's breasts, thereby providing improved fit, particularly for female users. Various arrangements 300 of suitable belts, buckles, or connectors may be implemented to retain the chest protector 200 on the user.

[0020] Figure 4 illustrates a front view of one suitable arrangement 300 of straps, belts, or buckles for retaining the chest protector 200 to a user. In an embodiment of the technology, the arrangement 300 of belts and buckles may include shoulder belts 410 mounted to the shoulder covering portions 250 and connected to a waist belt 420, which may be worn around a user's waist and tightened using one or more slide buckles 430 or other suitable tightening implements. The waist belt 420 may be removably or permanently fastened to a kidney section 240 using an interface including a suitable attachment, such as one or more sets of snaps, buckles, or VELCRO hook-and-loop fasteners. Figure 4 also illustrates optional shoulder pads or shoulder cups 440 connected to or integral with the upper portion 1 10 of the chest protector 200. The shoulder cups 440 may provide additional protection for a user's shoulder region. A removable neck liner and throat guard 460 may be positioned on the chest protector 200 to increase protection for a user's neck region. The neck liner and throat guard 460 may be formed from foam or another padding material, and it may be attached to the chest protector 200 using snaps, hook-and-loop fasteners (for example, VELCRO), or another suitable fastener.

[0021] Figure 5 illustrates a cross-sectional schematic view of the interface between the upper portion 1 10, the lower portion 120, and the flexible connecting portion 220, taken generally across line A-A in Figure 4. The upper portion 1 10 may overlap the lower portion 120, such that part of the lower portion 120 is positioned between the upper portion 1 10 and an interior region or user side 500 of the chest protector. In other embodiments, the lower portion 120 may overlap the upper portion 1 10, such that part of the upper portion 1 10 is positioned between the lower portion 120 and the user side 500. The connecting portion 220 may be stitched (for example, using stitching 505), glued, or otherwise suitably attached to each of the upper portion 1 10 and the lower portion 120 and may be the only connection between the upper and lower portions 1 10, 120 in a given region of the chest protector 200. For example, in some embodiments, the connecting portion 220 is the only link between the upper and lower portions 1 10, 120 in the assembled chest protector 200. Accordingly, the upper portion 1 10 and the lower portion 120 may articulate with respect to each other as the connecting portion 220 flexes, stretches, folds, and otherwise adjusts to movement, while keeping the upper portion 1 10 and the lower portion 120 in an overlapping arrangement for protecting the user. In some embodiments, binding 510 may be positioned at an edge of each of the upper and lower portions 1 10, 120 to protect any stitching or foam ends from wear. Such binding may be positioned around other suitable edges of the chest protector. [0022] Figure 6 illustrates a perspective view of a chest protector 600 in accordance with another embodiment of the technology. The chest protector 600 illustrated in Figure 6 may be similar in many aspects to the chest protector 200 illustrated in Figures 1 -5. For example, it may have an upper portion 610, a lower portion 620, and a flexible connecting portion 630 allowing overlapping articulation between the upper portion 610 and the lower portion 620. In an embodiment, instead of directly connecting the upper notch edge 140 and the lower notch edge 150 as generally described above in connection with Figures 2 and 3, a connecting segment 640 may be positioned in the notch portion 130. The connecting segment 640 may be sized to resist allowing the chest protector 600 to lie flat and it may cause a breast covering section 210 to extend outwardly from the chest protector 600 to form an interior breast volume suitable for accommodating a user's breasts or breast region in a manner similar to the interior breast volume described above with regard to Figures 2 and 3, for example. Accordingly, the connecting segment 640 provides an alternative manner of creating the interior breast volume in the breast covering section 210. The connecting segment 640 may be formed from suitable flexible and resilient materials such as elastic mesh, stretchable foam, or other materials.

[0023] The technology disclosed herein provides a chest or torso protector that contours around a female form to provide an improved fit (for example, an optimal fit) and to allow movement, flexure, or articulation in a manner that also provides for improved protection during use. The technology also provides protection for a wide range of torso and chest proportions and other body dimensions to improve protective performance and comfort across various shapes, sizes, and forms or figures of female athletes. Although advantages and descriptions presented herein relate to female athletes, the technology and its advantages may also be used in male chest and/or torso protective equipment.

[0024] From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that specific embodiments of the disclosed technology have been described for purposes of illustration, but that various modifications may be made without deviating from the technology and elements of certain embodiments may be interchanged with those of other embodiments. For example, in some embodiments, a chest protector according to the technology may include various straps, buckles, or hook-and-loop fasteners (for example, VELCRO) and arrangements of such elements to hold the chest protector on a user. A back strap organizer formed from padded material may retain and pad the straps against a user's back. Moisture-wicking materials may be included in strategic locations for user comfort.

[0025] Further, while advantages associated with certain embodiments of the disclosed technology have been described in the context of those embodiments, other embodiments may also exhibit such advantages, and not all embodiments need necessarily exhibit such advantages to fall within the scope of the technology. Accordingly, the disclosure and associated technology may encompass other embodiments not expressly shown or described herein, and the invention is not limited except as by the appended claims.