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Title:
UNIVERSAL CAMERA LENS IMPACT PROTECTION SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2010/033894
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A lens impact protection apparatus that is removably attachable around a forward portion of a camera lens. The lens impact protection apparatus includes a plurality of bumper components that are circumferentially spaced around an adjustable belt component, which is used to attach the lens impact protection apparatus to the camera lens. The bumper components are positioned to have at least front portions thereof extending over a front or forward surface of the camera lens when the lens impact protection apparatus is attached to the camera lens. The bumper components are designed to absorb an impact force and to redistribute the impact force to the back and/or side of a barrel of the camera lens through a rocker or teeter-totter motion of the bumper components.

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Inventors:
ESAREY, Graeme, David (2508 13th Avenue W, Seattle, WA, 98119, US)
COMINS, Scott, David (3912 S. Orcas Street, Seattle, WA, 98119, US)
MELMON, Bradley, Scott (2117 3rd Avenue W, Seattle, WA, 98119, US)
CHOU, Parker (534 Westlake Avenue N, Suite 210Seattle, WA, 98109, US)
BUSCK, Johannes, R. (Trekronergade 75, Valby, Valby, DK)
Application Number:
US2009/057642
Publication Date:
March 25, 2010
Filing Date:
September 21, 2009
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ESAREY, Graeme, David (2508 13th Avenue W, Seattle, WA, 98119, US)
COMINS, Scott, David (3912 S. Orcas Street, Seattle, WA, 98119, US)
MELMON, Bradley, Scott (2117 3rd Avenue W, Seattle, WA, 98119, US)
CHOU, Parker (534 Westlake Avenue N, Suite 210Seattle, WA, 98109, US)
BUSCK, Johannes, R. (Trekronergade 75, Valby, Valby, DK)
International Classes:
G03B1/48
Foreign References:
US6104887A
US7037007B2
US5373980A
US20070137009A1
US5624065A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FERRO, Albert, L. (Medler Ferro PLLC, 8607 Rockdale LaneSpringfield, VA, 22153, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
DMPM-OOl PCT

CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A system for providing impact protection to a camera lens comprising: a lens impact protection apparatus that is capable of being attached to the camera lens, the lens impact protection apparatus including a plurality of bumper components that are circumferentially locatable around the camera lens such that at least forward end portions of the bumper components extend forwardly of a front surface of the camera lens when the lens impact protection apparatus is attached to the camera lens, wherein when the lens impact protection apparatus is attached to the camera lens at least one of the bumper components is operable to receive an impact force and to redistribute the impact force away from the front surface of the camera lens by rocking on a foot portion of the at least one bumper component.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the at least one bumper component is capable of rearwardly rocking between 10° and 90° about the foot portion in response to receiving the impact force.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the at least one bumper component is capable of rearwardly rocking about the foot portion until a back end of the bumper component touches the camera lens.

4. The system of claims 2 or 3, wherein foot portions of the bumper components are sized to be received within a trough that encircles a front portion of the camera lens when the lens impact protection apparatus is attached to the camera lens.

5. The system of claim 4, wherein the lens impact protection apparatus includes an adjustable belt component for attaching the lens impact protection apparatus to the camera lens and the plurality of bumper components are removably attached to the adjustable belt component. DMPM-OOl PCT

6. The system of claim 5, wherein when the lens impact protection apparatus is attached to the camera lens the adjustable belt component is displaced radially outward of the camera lens by the bumper components to prevent the lens impact protection apparatus from interfering with the operation of the camera lens.

7. The system of claim 5, wherein front ends of the bumper components extend forward of the belt component and back ends of the bumper components extend rearward of the belt component.

8. The system of claim 5, wherein when the lens impact protection apparatus is attached to the camera lens the adjustable belt component presses foot portions of the bumper components against the camera lens.

9. The system of claim 5, wherein the adjustable belt component is held at a working diameter by a clasp that pushes ratcheting teeth on a bottom surface of the belt component into gripping engagement with an opposing engagement tooth structure of the clasp.

10. The system of claim 5, wherein each of the bumper components includes a slot that is sized to slidably receive the belt component there through.

Description:
DMPM-OOl PCT

UNIVERSAL CAMERA LENS IMPACT PROTECTION SYSTEM

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Appl. No. 61/098,786 filed September 21, 2008, which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The invention relates to an impact protection system for a camera lens and more particularly to a lens impact protection device that adjustably attaches to a front portion of a camera lens to redirect the force of an impact around the camera lens.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Previous single part or hood lens armors for impact protection of a camera lens are limited by their respective set diameters and sizes to fit only a small range of camera lenses, some only fitting a certain make and model, such that such lens armors are incompatible and/or inconvenient for use on the wide variety of camera lenses available in the market place. In addition, some conventional lens armors in 'hood' form may be too soft to effectively absorb frontal impacts on the camera lenses to which they are attached. Another issue that is often encountered with conventional lens armors is that they must be removed or retracted to avoid flash shadows, and in some cases, vignetting, which renders the lens armors ineffective for impact protection while in such a state. Embodiments hereof are directed to a universal camera lens impact protection system for addressing some or all of the problems identified above.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] Embodiments hereof are directed to a lens impact protection apparatus that is removably attachable around a forward portion of a camera lens. A plurality of bumper components of the lens impact protection apparatus are circumferentially spaced around an adjustable belt component that is used to attach the lens impact protection apparatus to the camera lens. The bumper components are positioned to have at least front portions thereof extending over a front or forward end surface of the camera lens when the lens impact protection apparatus is attached DMPM-OOl PCT

to the camera lens. The bumper components are designed to absorb an impact force and to redistribute the impact force to the back and/or side of a barrel of the camera lens through a rocker or teeter-totter motion of the bumper components.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0005] The foregoing and other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following description of embodiments thereof as illustrated in the accompanying drawings. The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated herein and form a part of the specification, further serve to explain the principles of the invention and to enable a person skilled in the pertinent art to make and use the invention. The drawings are not to scale.

[0006] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a camera with a lens impact protection system in accordance with an embodiment hereof attached thereto.

[0007] FIG. IA is a perspective view of the lens impact protection system of FIG. 1.

[0008] FIG. 2 is a front end view of the lens impact protection system of FIG. IA.

[0009] FIG. 3 is a side view of the lens impact protection system of FIG. IA.

[0010] FIG. 4 A is a perspective front top view of a bumper component for use in the lens impact protection system of FIG. IA in accordance with an embodiment hereof.

[0011] FIG. 4B is a perspective front bottom view of the bumper component of FIG. 4A.

[0012] FIG. 4C is a bottom view of the bumper component of FIG. 4A.

[0013] FIG. 4D is a back end view of the bumper component of FIG. 4A.

[0014] FIG. 4E is a side view of the bumper component of FIG. 4A.

[0015] FIG. 4F is a front end view of the bumper component of FIG. 4A.

[0016] FIG. 4G is a top view of the bumper component of FIG. 4A.

[0017] FIG. 4H is a perspective back bottom view of the bumper component of FIG. 4A. DMPM-OOl PCT

[0018] FIG. 41 is a perspective back top view of the bumper component of FIG. 4 A.

[0019] FIG. 5 A is a top view of a bumper component for use in the lens impact protection system of FIG. IA in accordance with another embodiment hereof.

[0020] FIG. 5B is a side view of the bumper component of FIG. 5A.

[0021] FIG. 5C is a bottom view of the bumper component of FIG. 5A.

[0022] FIG. 6 is a side view of a front portion of a bumper component for use in a lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof.

[0023] FIG. 7 is a bottom view of the bumper component of FIG. 6 attached to a belt component of a lens impact protection system in accordance with an embodiment hereof.

[0024] FIG. 8 is a perspective back side view of a bumper component for use in a lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof.

[0025] FIG. 9 A is a top view of an adjustable belt component for use in the lens impact protection system of FIG. IA in accordance with another embodiment hereof.

[0026] FIG. 9B is a bottom view of a front portion of the adjustable belt component of FIG. 9A.

[0027] FIG. 9C is a side view of the adjustable belt component of FIG. 9A.

[0028] FIG. 9D is a perspective view of a portion of the belt component of FIG. 9A in a loop configuration.

[0029] FIG. 10 is a perspective top view of a clasp of an adjustable belt component in accordance with another embodiment hereof.

[0030] FIG. 11 is a perspective top view of a clasp of an adjustable belt component in accordance with another embodiment hereof.

[0031] FIG. 12 is a perspective top view of an adjustable belt component for use in a lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof. DMPM-OOl PCT

[0032] FIG. 12A is a side sectional view of a portion of the belt component of FIG. 12 in a loop configuration.

[0033] FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof.

[0034] FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a lens portion of a camera with a lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof attached thereto.

[0035] FIGS. 14A, 14B and 14C are top, bottom and side views, respectively, of an adjustable belt component shown in FIG. 14.

[0036] FIG. 15A is a side view of a lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof being attached to a camera lens.

[0037] FIG. 15B is a perspective front view of the lens impact protection system of FIG. 15A being adjusted to a diameter of the camera lens.

[0038] FIG. 15C is a front view of an alternate embodiment of a lens impact protection system of FIG. 15A attached to the camera lens.

[0039] FIG. 15D is a close-up side view of a bumper component of the lens impact protection system shown in FIG. 15C.

[0040] FIG. 15E is a close-up back top view of the lens impact protection system shown in FIG. 15C.

[0041] FIG. 16 is a perspective side view of a lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof attached to a camera lens.

[0042] FIG. 17 is a top view of a lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof attached to a camera lens in a zoom position.

[0043] FIG. 18 is a side perspective view of a lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof. DMPM-OOl PCT

[0044] FIG. 19A is a top view of an adjustable belt component for use in a lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof.

[0045] FIG. 19B is a perspective top view of a clasp portion of the adjustable belt component of FIG. 19A in a loop configuration.

[0046] FIG. 19C is a perspective top view of the clasp portion shown in FIG. 19B in an open position.

[0047] FIGS. 20 and 21 are perspective views of alternate embodiments of an adjustable belt component for use in a lens impact protection system in accordance with embodiments hereof.

[0048] FIGS. 22, 22A and 22B are various views of a modular lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof.

[0049] FIGS. 23, 23A and 23B are various views of a portion of a modular lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof.

[0050] FIGS. 24, 24A, 24B and 24C are various views of a modular lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof.

[0051] FIGS. 25, 25A, 25B and 25C are various views of a modular lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof.

[0052] FIGS. 26 and 26A are various views of a modular lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

[0053] Specific embodiments of the present invention are now described with reference to the figures, wherein like reference numbers indicate identical or functionally similar elements. The following detailed description is merely exemplary in nature and is not intended to limit the invention or the application and uses of the invention. Although the description of the invention is in the context of impact protection of a lens such as a camera lens, the invention may also be used on other lenses where it is deemed useful. Furthermore, there is no intention to be bound DMPM-OOl PCT

by any expressed or implied theory presented in the preceding technical field, background, brief summary or the following detailed description.

[0054] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a lens impact protection apparatus 100 in accordance with an embodiment hereof attached to extend over a front or forward end surface 104 of a lens 105 of a camera 102. Lens impact protection apparatus 100 is designed to attach to lens 105 of camera 102 in the same groove(s) or trough(s) that ring the barrel at the front of lens 105 as where conventional flare hood mounts or bayonet mount lens hoods are attached, and where consequently most impacts that may damage the lens occur. FIG. IA is a perspective view of lens impact protection apparatus 100, with FIG. 2 being a front view and FIG. 3 being a side view of lens impact protection apparatus 100. Lens impact protection apparatus 100 includes a plurality of removable bumper or finger components 206 circumferentially spaced around an adjustable belt component 208. Bumper components 206 not only absorb some of the force of an impact but also redistribute the force to the back and/or side of the barrel of lens 105 due to a rocker or teeter-totter motion of the bumper components, which will be explained in more detail below. As used herein, an impact is consider a force or shock applied over a short time period that is experienced by a camera lens due to a drop or hit of the camera lens against another object or surface.

[0055] Removable bumper components 206 slide onto and off of adjustable belt component 208 that includes a lockable, living-hinge clasp 215, which is shown in an open position in FIG. IA, for receiving an opposing tongue end 207 of the belt component and to thereby create an adjustable loop that allows a user to adjust lens impact protection apparatus 100 to a variety of lens diameters, such as an outer diameter of lens 105. As such, although nine bumper components 206 are shown on lens impact protection apparatus 100 in FIGS. IA, 2 and 3, only seven of the bumper components are needed to fit the outer diameter of lens 105 of camera 102 in FIG. 1 for providing impact protection thereto. In this manner, lens impact protection apparatus 100 is a universal system that adjusts to a wide range of lenses and lens diameters via adjustable belt component 208 and reconfigurable bumper components 206, which may be added to, removed from and placed around the adjustable belt component as desired by a user to provide impact protection to just about any given lens. DMPM-OOl PCT

[0056] Each bumper component 206 has a tapered front or forward end 210, a back or rearward end 212, a top or outward portion 214 and a bottom or inward base portion 216. When used herein to describe features of lens impact protection apparatus in accordance with embodiments hereof, "front", "forward", "back", and "rearward" are used to describe a direction the lens impact protection apparatus or its component will have when properly mounted on a camera lens, such that "front" and "forward" are in a direction in front or forward of the front end surface of the camera lens and "back" and "rearward" are in a direction behind or rearward of the front end surface of the camera lens. Similarly, when used herein to describe features of the lens impact protection apparatus in accordance with embodiments hereof, "top", "outward", "bottom", and "inward" are used to describe a direction the lens impact protection apparatus or its component will have when properly mounted on a camera lens, such that "top" and "outward" are in a direction moving away from the barrel of the camera lens and "bottom" and "inward" are in a direction moving toward the barrel of the camera lens.

[0057] Bumper component 206 is shown and described more particularly with reference to FIGS. 4A-4I. FIG. 4A is a perspective front top view of bumper component 206 and FIG. 4B is a perspective front bottom view of bumper component 206. Top portion 214 is substantially triangular in shape with a wider back end 212 tapering to front end 210, which has a rounded, trapezoidal forward most surface 418 as shown best in a front end view of the bumper component in FIG. 4F. Base portion 216 has a substantially trapezoidal cross-section and extends laterally from top portion 214, as shown in top views of the bumper component in FIGS. 4G and 41, to stabilize and resist twisting of bumper component 206 when it is attached to adjustable belt component 208 as shown in FIG. IA. Base portion 216 includes a belt track 420 formed in an outward surface thereof having raised forward and rearward walls for guiding adjustable belt component 208 within a slot 422 formed between top portion 214 and base portion 216. As shown in FIG. 4E, which is a side view of bumper component 206, base portion 216 is pedestal-like having two grooves 425, 427 formed in a bottom surface thereof that define a front foot or rib 424, a middle foot or rib 426 and a back foot or rib 428, each of which is also shown well in bottom views of the bumper component in FIGS. 4C and 4H. As shown FIG. 4E and 41, as well as a back end view of the bumper component shown in FIG. 4D, back end 212 of bumper component 206 is much thinner than front end 210 such that back end 212 may bend or flex under impact as described further below. DMPM-OOl PCT

[0058] Bumper components 206 are of a strong flexible material, such as an elastomeric material, e.g., silicone, or thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), that provides front and side impact protection to lens 105 and may be formed by injection molding, liquid injection molding (LIM) or compression molding. When bumper components 206 are attached to lens 105 of camera 102 by adjustable belt component 208 as shown in FIG. 1, front foot 424, middle foot 426 and rear foot 428 are sized, such as by having a width in a range of 1 to 2 mm, to sit within the narrow troughs that ring the barrel at the front of lens 105. In this manner, belt component 208 is disposed radially outward of lens 105 by at least a portion of the thickness of base portion 216 such that lens impact protection apparatus 100 may be mounted on lens 105 of camera 102 without interfering with the functional mechanisms of the lens and thus will not impede the focus, zoom, or extension mechanism of the lens.

[0059] As noted above, bumper component 206 is designed to absorb and redirect the shock energy or force of an impact by compressing from radial and/or axial components of the impact force, by rocking rearwards about rear foot 428 or forwards about front foot 424 from radial and/or axial components of the impact force, and/or by redistributing the impact force about the cylindrical outer surface of the barrel of lens 105 when the impact force is great enough to bottom-out back end 212 of bumper component 206 onto the lens barrel. For instance, if camera 102 where to be dropped with front end surface 104 of lens 105 facing downward, the shock or force of the impact would first be received by one or more trapezoidal forward surfaces 418 of bumper components 206, each of which would elastically compress and/or deform to then rotate or rock about rear foot 428 of the bumper component such that, if the force is great enough, back end 212 of the bumper component will touch and perhaps even flex or bend against the surface of the lens barrel to dissipate or redistribute the force thereabout. The unique 'rocker' or 'teeter- totter' geometry of bumper components 206, as well as the material thereof, assures that an impact received from most any direction may be accommodated with effective absorption, dissipation and/or redirection of the shock energy or force away from front lens surface 104 to stronger portions of lens 105.

[0060] FIGS. 5A-5C are top, side and bottom views, respectively, of bumper component 506 in accordance with another embodiment hereof for use in lens impact protection system 100 of FIG. IA. Top portion 514 of bumper component 506 is similar to top portion 214 of bumper DMPM-OOl PCT

component 206 in that it has a substantially triangular shape with a wider back end 512 tapering to front end 510 and wherein back end 512 of bumper component 506 is much thinner than front end 510 such that back end 512 may bend or flex under impact as described above with reference to back end 212 of bumper component 206. Base portion 516 has a substantially trapezoidal cross-section and extends laterally from top portion 514, to function as discussed above with reference to bumper component 206. Base portion 516 also includes belt track 520 formed in an outward surface thereof having raised forward and rearward walls for guiding adjustable belt component 208 within a slot 522 formed between top portion 514 and base portion 516. As shown in FIGS. 5B and 5C, base portion 516 is pedestal-like having only a single groove 525 formed in a bottom surface thereof such that only a front foot or rib 524 and a back foot or rib 526 are defined by groove 525. When bumper components 506 are attached to lens 105 of camera 102 by adjustable belt component 208 as shown in FIG. 1, front foot 524 and back foot 526 are sized to sit within the narrow troughs that ring the barrel at the front of lens 105 such that groove 525 sits across a ridge between the troughs of lens 105. Bumper component 506 rocks or rotates forward on front foot 524 and rocks or rotates rearward about back foot 526 in response to a force of an impact on lens impact protection apparatus 100 in a similar manner as described above with reference to bumper component 206.

[0061] FIG. 6 is a side view of a front portion of a bumper component 606 for use in a lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof with FIG. 7 illustrating a bottom view of bumper component 606 attached to an adjustable belt component 708. Bumper component 606 has a forward end 610, a back end 612 and a slot 622 that extends there through and is otherwise similar to bumper components 206, 506 described in the previous embodiment except that bumper component 606 does not include a groove in a bottom surface of base portion 616. Instead, base portion 616 is formed to have a single foot or rib 624 protruding from the bottom surface thereof. As such, when a plurality of bumper components 606 are attached to lens 105 of camera 102 by belt component 708, foot 624 is sized to sit within one of the narrow troughs that ring the barrel at the front of lens 105. Bumper component 606 so positioned will then rock or rotate forward or rearward about foot 624 in response to the force of an impact on the lens impact protection apparatus in a similar manner as described above with reference to bumper components 206, 506. DMPM-OOl PCT

[0062] FIG. 8 is a perspective back side view of a bumper component 806 for use in a lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof. Bumper component 806 has a forward end 810, a back end 812 and a slot 822 that extends there through and is otherwise similar to bumper components 206, 506, 606 described in the previous embodiments, and is most similar to bumper component 606 in that bumper component 806 has a base portion 816 formed to have a single foot or rib 824 protruding from a bottom surface thereof. As such, when a plurality of bumper components 806 are attached to lens 105 of camera 102 by a belt component in accordance with embodiment hereof, foot 824 is sized to sit within one of the narrow troughs that ring the barrel at the front of lens 105. Bumper component 806 so positioned will then rock or rotate forward or rearward about foot 824 in response to the force of an impact on the lens impact protection apparatus in a similar manner as described above with reference to bumper components 206, 506, 606. However, bumper component 806 includes a stop 830 positioned on base portion 816 below back end 812 that may contact the barrel of lens 105 when bumper component 806 rotates rearward about foot 824 to stop or otherwise limit rotation of bumper component 816 before back end 812 of bumper component 812 makes contact with the lens.

[0063] FIGS. 9A, 9B and 9C are top, bottom and side views, respectively, of adjustable belt component 208 shown in FIG. IA, with FIG. 9D showing clasp 215 closed with belt component 208 in a loop configuration. Belt component 208 has a fully adjustable working diameter, such as a working diameter to fit a camera lens having a diameter in a range of 52 to 82 mm, and may be locked at a certain diameter by clasp 215 as desired. Belt component 208 is made of a high tensile strength polymer, such as nylon or polypropylene, to assure proper compression and friction between bumper components 206 of lens impact protection apparatus 100 and lens 105 are achieved when belt component 208 is secured to camera 102, such that lens impact protection apparatus 100 will not fall off or improperly move away from camera lens 105 upon impact. Belt component 208 may be formed as a unitary piece, for e.g., by injection molding. Clasp 215 includes a cover 932 having a living-hinge 934 that allows cover 932 to be rotated in either direction and has a snap-fit lockable configuration when closed. Belt component 208 is secured at a working diameter, i.e., at an appropriate diameter for securing lens impact protection apparatus 100 to camera lens 105, by the ratcheting relationship between a floating engagement tooth 936 of clasp 215 and a zone of mate-able ratcheting teeth 938 located on a bottom surface DMPM-OOl PCT

of belt component 208. When opposing tongue end 207 of belt component 208 is slid over open clasp 215 and threaded under a ridge segment 940 adjacent thereto, ratcheting teeth 938 slide over engagement tooth 936 until the appropriate working diameter is reached and then the working diameter is secured by closing and locking cover 932 there over, as shown in FIG. 9D. In some circumstances, a user may need to maintain tension between opposing ends of belt component 208 by firmly gripping belt component 208 against ridge segment 940 in order to tighten belt component 208 sufficiently to compress a foot or feet of the bumper components against the surface of the lens. If it is desired to remove or reposition lens impact protection apparatus 100, clasp 215 may be opened by unsnapping and rotating cover 932 and pulling up and out on the portion of belt component 208 that is over engagement tooth 936 to disengage and "unlock" belt component 208 there from.

[0064] FIGS. 10 and 11 are perspective top views of clasps 1015, 1115 for adjustable belt components 1008, 1108, respectively, in accordance with alternate embodiments hereof. In the embodiment of FIG. 10, clasp 1015 includes a cover 1032 having a living-hinge 1034 that allows cover 1032 to be rotated in either direction and has a snap-fit between lips 1042, 1044 when closed to lock clasp 1015. Instead of a floating engagement tooth as shown in the embodiment of FIGS. 9A-9D, clasp 1015 includes a fixed tooth 1036 extending upward from a bottom portion 1046 for engaging with ratcheting teeth (not shown) that extend from the bottom surface of at least the portion of belt component 1008 that is fed under ridge segment 1040 when belt component 1008 is formed into a loop. In order to provide extra assurance against unintended or accidental expansion of locked belt component 1008, belt component 1008 includes ridges or ribs 1052 extending outward from a top surface thereof that catch or act as friction grips against corresponding ridges or ribs 1050 extending inward from cover 1005. In the embodiment of FIG. 11, clasp 1115 includes a cover 1132 having a living-hinge 1134 that allows cover 1132 to be rotated in either direction and has a snap-fit between lips 1142, 1144 when closed to lock clasp 1115. Similar to the embodiment of FIG. 10, clasp 1115 includes a fixed tooth 1136 extending upward from a bottom portion 1146 for engaging with ratcheting teeth (not shown) that extend from the bottom surface of at least the portion of belt component 1108 that is fed within slot 1141 between ridge segments 1140 when belt component 1108 is formed into a loop. DMPM-OOl PCT

[0065] FIG. 12 is a perspective top view of an adjustable belt component 1208 for use in a lens impact protection system in accordance with another embodiment hereof, with FIG. 12A being a side sectional view of a portion of belt component 1208 in a loop configuration. Clasp portion 1258 is an extension of belt component 1208 that includes ratcheting teeth 1238 extending from a bottom surface thereof that mate with an engagement tooth 1236 that extends upward from an opposing end of belt component 1208. Clasp portion 1258 has a living hinge 1234 that eases overlapping of the clasp portion with the remainder of belt component 1208 when in a loop configuration. Unlike the previous embodiments shown in FIGS. 9-11, belt component 1208 does not include a clasp with a cover to hold clasp portion 1258 and lock belt component 1208 in its working diameter. Instead, belt component 1208 includes a belt track 1260 defined by opposing wall portions 1262, 1264 that are angled toward each other to hold clasp portion 1258 against engagement tooth 1236 when in the looped configuration. A single bumper component 1206, which may be any of the bumper components disclosed in the previous embodiment, is shown fixed in position within cut-outs in wall portions 1262, 1264. Up to five additional bumper components 1206 may be added to the lens impact protection apparatus shown in FIG. 12 and may be fixed in position within the remaining cut-outs in wall portions 1262, 1264.

[0066] FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a lens impact protection apparatus 1300 in accordance with another embodiment hereof. Lens impact protection apparatus 1300 includes bumper components 1306 having a front end 1310, a back end 1312, and a base portion 1316. Base portion 1316 includes a front foot or rib 1324 and a back foot or rib 1326 that are separated by a gap 1331 in bumper component 1306 that is open to slot 1322 such that gap 1331 and slot 1322 form a t-shape. Bumper components 1306 are circumferentially spaced about adjustable band 1308, which is of a stretchable elastic material in order to be stretched and slid over a lens of a camera, and are attached thereto by separating gap 1331 sufficiently to slip bumper component 1306 over band 1308 until band 1308 seats within slot 1322. Once bumper components 1306 are so attached to band 1308 they may be slid there over if necessary to achieve proper spacing for impact protection. When bumper components 1306 are attached to lens 105 of camera 102 by adjustable band 1308, front foot 1324 and back foot 1326 are sized to sit within the narrow troughs that ring the barrel at the front of lens 105. Bumper component 1306 rocks or rotates forward on front foot 1324 and rocks or rotates rearward about back foot 1326 in response to a DMPM-OOl PCT

force of an impact on lens impact protection apparatus 1300 in a similar manner as described above with reference to bumper component 206, 506.

[0067] FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a lens portion 1405 of a camera with a lens impact protection apparatus 1400 in accordance with another embodiment hereof attached thereto, with FIGS. 14A, 14B and 14C being top, bottom and side views, respectively, of adjustable belt component 1408 shown in FIG. 14. Lens impact protection apparatus 1400 includes nine bumper components 506, which were described with reference to the embodiment of FIGS. 5A- 5C, that are circumferentially spaced around adjustable belt component 1408. Adjustable belt component 1408 is similar to the embodiment described with reference to FIGS. 9A-9D except that adjustable belt component 1408 includes a plurality of raised blocks 1409 separated by ribbed areas 1411 on the top surface thereof that are located on the portion of adjustable belt 1408 that includes ratcheting teeth 1438. Clasp 1415 includes a living-hinge cover that is rotatable in either direction and has a snap-fit lockable configuration when closed. Belt component 1408 is secured at a working diameter, i.e., at an appropriate diameter for securing lens impact protection apparatus 1400 to camera lens 1405, by the ratcheting relationship between a floating engagement tooth 1436 of clasp 1415 and a zone of mate-able ratcheting teeth 1438 located on a bottom surface of belt component 1408. When opposing tongue end 1407 of belt component 1408 is slid over open clasp 1415 and threaded under ridge segment 1440 adjacent thereto, ratcheting teeth 1438 slide over engagement tooth 1436 until the appropriate working diameter is reached and then the working diameter is secured by closing and locking the clasp cover there over, as shown in FIG. 14. Raised blocks 1409 of belt component 1408 are of a thickness that assures a tight fit between closed clasp 1415 and the portion of belt component 1408 that is contained therein in the closed or locked configuration.

[0068] As shown in FIG. 14, front ends 510 of bumper components 506 extend forward of front end surface 1404 when lens impact protection apparatus 1400 is properly amounted on lens 1405. In addition back ends 512 of bumper components 506 are radially spaced a distance "d" outward of the barrel of lens 1405. Of particular interest in FIG. 14, one of the bumper components 506 is shown in phantom (as represented by 506') and is rotated rearward (as represented by arrow R R ) due to a direct impact received by the bumper component (as represented by arrow I D ). Due to the rearward rotation, back end 512' of displaced bumper DMPM-OOl PCT

component 506' is less than distance "d" from the lens barrel. In a circumstance when the force of impact is great enough, the rotation of displaced bumper component 506' may be great enough to contact back end 512' with the lens barrel. In accordance with embodiments hereof, the bumper components may rock or rotate about their contact point with the lens barrel, such as a pedestal foot, in a range of 30° to 45°, in a range of 20°-60° or in a range of 10°-90° depending on the diameter of the lens barrel and/or whether a zoom feature is in use.

[0069] FIGS. 15A-15E show various configurations of a lens impact protection apparatus 1500 in accordance with another embodiment hereof attached or being attached to a camera lens 1502. In FIGS. 15A and 15B, lens impact protection apparatus 1500 is shown having seven bumper components 606, which were described with reference to the embodiment of FIGS. 6-7, that are circumferentially spaced around adjustable belt component 1508, which functions similar to adjustable belts components 208, 1408 as previously described. In FIG. 15A, lens impact protection apparatus 1500 is shown being looped around a forward-most end of camera lens 1502 with tongue end 1507 of adjustable belt component 1508 proximate to but not yet in contact with clasp 1515 and foot 624 of respective bumper components 606 being aligned to sit within the flare hood mount trough that circles lens 1502. In FIG. 15B, lens impact protection apparatus 1500 is shown in a loop configuration being sized to fit the diameter of the barrel of lens 1502 by being "squeezed" or tightened around the barrel by a user.

[0070] In FIGS. 15C-15E, lens impact protection apparatus 1500 is shown having six bumper components 206, which were particularly described with reference to the embodiment of FIGS. 4A-4I, that are circumferentially spaced around adjustable belt component 1508. Lens impact protection apparatus 1500 is attached to the camera lens to provide impact protection thereto. FIGS. 15C-15E show how belt component 1508 is disposed radially outward a distance "(I 1 " from the barrel of the camera lens by at least a portion of the thickness of base portion 216 such that lens impact protection apparatus 1500 may be mounted on the camera lens without interfering with the functional mechanisms of the lens. As well, FIGS. 15C-15E show how back end 212 of bumper components 206 are radially spaced a distance "d 2 " outward of the barrel of the camera lens to allow bumper components 206 to rock rearward upon receiving an impact. DMPM-OOl PCT

[0071] FIG. 16 is a perspective side view of a lens impact protection apparatus 1600 in accordance with another embodiment hereof attached to a camera lens 1605. Lens impact protection apparatus 1600 is shown having seven bumper components 1606, which function similar to the previously described bumper component embodiments, that are circumferentially spaced around adjustable belt component 1608, which functions similar to adjustable belts components 208, 1408 as previously described. Bumper components 1606 differ from the previously described bumper component embodiments due to their substantially rectangular top portion 1614 such that front ends 1610 and back ends 1612 of bumper components 1606 are each of approximately the same width and thickness.

[0072] FIG. 17 is a top view of a lens impact protection apparatus 1700 in accordance with another embodiment hereof attached to a camera lens 1705 in a zoom position. Lens impact protection apparatus 1700 is shown having six bumper components 1706 that have a top portion 1614 as described with reference to the embodiment of FIG. 16. Bumper components 1706 are circumferentially spaced around adjustable belt component 1708, which is described below with reference to FIGS. 19A-19C. Due to camera lens 1705 being in a zoom position, back end 1612 of bumper component 1706 is spaced a distance "d" from the barrel of camera lens 1705 that is sufficient to allow bumper component 1706 to rock or rotate up to substantially 90° if lens impact protection apparatus 1700 were to be subjected to an impact while camera lens 1705 is in the zoom position shown.

[0073] FIG. 18 is a side perspective view of a lens impact protection apparatus 1800 in accordance with another embodiment hereof. Lens impact protection apparatus 1800 is formed as a unitary piece of a stretchable elastomeric material with integral bumper components 1806 and an integral band 1808. Lens impact protection apparatus 1800 is stretched over the forward- most portion of a camera lens to be mounted thereon in a manner such that front ends 1810 of bumper components 1806 extend forward of a forward end surface of the camera lens. Front ends 1810 of bumper components 1806 are able to be displaced rearward by the force of an impact due to an outwardly tapered inner surface 1870 formed within a rearward portion of band 1808 that allows the band to rock or rotate about an inwardly extending rib or ridge 1872 that is in contact with the barrel of the camera lens when lens impact protection apparatus 1800 is mounted thereon. DMPM-OOl PCT

[0074] FIG. 19A is a top view of adjustable belt component 1708 of FIG. 17 and FIGS. 19B- 19C are various perspective top views of a clasp portion 1915 of belt component 1708 in a loop configuration. When opposing tongue end 1907 of belt component 1708 is slid over open clasp 1915, as shown in FIG. 19C, ratcheting teeth on a bottom surface thereof (not shown) slide over engagement tooth 1936 until the appropriate working diameter is reached and then the working diameter is secured by closing claps portion 1915 via living hinge 1934 there over. Belt component 1708 differs from the previously described belt component embodiments in the manner in which bumper components are attached thereto. Bumper components for use with belt component 1708, such as bumper components 1706, include four peg-like posts or protrusions extending from a bottom surface thereof (not shown) that have an interference fit with four corresponding holes 1790 and a snap-fit with four semi-circular cutouts 1792, which are formed in the longitudinal edges of a portion of belt component 1708. Belt component 1708 has nine bumper component attachment sites, four of which are post-hole attachment sites 1794 and five of which are post-cutouts attachment sites 1796, for receiving up to nine bumper components thereon. Similar to belt component 1208 shown in FIG. 12, belt component 1708 includes a belt track 1760 defined by opposing wall portions 1762, 1764, which are angled toward each other, for guiding the overlapping portion of belt component 1708 within any bumper components that may be situated on post-hole attachment sites 1794 and for holding the overlapping belt portion within that section of belt component 1708 in the looped configuration.

[0075] FIGS. 20 and 21 are perspective views of alternate embodiments of adjustable belt components 2008, 2108, respectively, for use in lens impact protection systems in accordance with embodiments hereof. Belt components 2008, 2108 are not unitary structures but instead include three interlocking belt linkages, which are identified as 2080a, 2080b, 2080c in belt component 2008 and as 2180a, 2180b, 2180c in belt component 2108. In the embodiment of FIG. 20, each of belt linkages 2080a, 2080b, 2080c includes a tab at one end of the linkage for connecting within a groove in another linkage and a groove at an opposing end of the linkage for receiving a tab of another linkage, for example tab 2081a of belt linkage 2080a is shown snapped within a groove 2083b of belt linkage 2080b and a tab 2081c of belt linkage 2080c is shown snapped within a groove 2083a of belt linkage 2080a. In the embodiment of FIG. 21, each of belt linkages 2081a, 2081b, 2081c includes a ratcheted tongue at one end of the linkage for connecting within a corresponding ratcheted slot in another linkage and a ratcheted slot at an DMPM-OOl PCT

opposing end of the linkage for receiving a ratcheted tongue of another linkage. In each of the embodiments of FIGS. 20 and 21, belt components 2008, 2108 may be formed into a loop using only two of the three belt linkages to allow lens impact protection apparatus utilizing belt components 2008, 2108 to be fit to a greater range of camera lens. In another embodiment, each of the belt linkages may be of different lengths to allow lens impact protection apparatus utilizing belt components 2008, 2108 to be fit to an even greater range of camera lens.

[0076] FIGS. 22, 22A and 22B are various views of a modular lens impact protection apparatus 2200 in accordance with another embodiment hereof. Lens impact protection apparatus 2200 is a modular system made up of three interlocking belt linkages 2280, each of which has three sets of bumper component attachment sites 2292 for receiving bumper hooks 2291 of a corresponding snap-on bumper component 2206. In an embodiment, bumper hooks 2291 may be made of a polypropylene material with a bumper portion being formed of an elastomeric material that is over-molded thereon or otherwise attached thereto. Each belt linkage 2280 includes a tongue 2281 at one end of the belt linkage for connecting within a corresponding slot in another linkage and a slot 2283 at an opposing end of the belt linkage for receiving the tongue of another linkage. Depending on the size of the camera lens, more or fewer belt linkages 2280 may be joined together to form lens impact protection apparatus 2200.

[0077] FIGS. 23, 23A and 23B are various views of a portion of a modular lens impact protection apparatus 2300 in accordance with another embodiment hereof. Lens impact protection apparatus 2200 is a modular system made up of at least two interlocking belt linkages 2380, each of which has a thickness and width on body portion 2385 for being slidably received within a slot 2322 of a bumper component 2306. Belt linkage 2380 includes a ratcheted tongue 2381 at one end of the belt linkage for connecting within a corresponding ratcheted slot in another linkage and a ratcheted slot 2383 at an opposing end of the belt linkage for receiving a corresponding ratcheted tongue of another linkage. The number of bumper components 2306 per belt linkage 2380 and the number of belt linkages 2380 to be joined together to form lens impact protection apparatus 2300 may be selected based on the size of the camera lens to be protected. DMPM-OOl PCT

[0078] FIGS. 24, 24A, 24B and 24C are various views of a modular lens impact protection apparatus 2400 in accordance with another embodiment hereof. Lens impact protection apparatus 2400 is a modular system made up of three interlocking belt linkages 2480, each of which has a single bumper component attachment site having two sets of opposing holes 2492 for receiving bumper hooks 2491 of a corresponding snap-on, shade-like bumper component 2406. In an embodiment, bumper hooks 2491 may be made of a polypropylene material with the shade-like bumper portion being formed of an elastomeric material that is over-molded thereon or otherwise attached thereto. Each belt linkage 2480 includes a tongue 2481 at one end of the belt linkage for connecting within a corresponding slot in another linkage and a slot 2483 at an opposing end of the belt linkage for receiving a tongue of another linkage. Depending on the size of the camera lens, more or fewer belt linkages 2480 may be joined together to form lens impact protection apparatus 2400. When joined together, a flap 2417 of shade-like bumper component 2406 overlaps as shown in FIG. 24C with an adjacent shade-like bumper component so that the shade-like bumper components will slide against each other without separating under impact as they rotate outward in reaction to the force.

[0079] FIGS. 25, 25 A, and 25B are various views of a modular lens impact protection apparatus 2500 in accordance with another embodiment hereof. Lens impact protection apparatus 2500 is a modular system made up of three interlocking belt linkages 2580, each of which has a single bumper component attachment site having two sets of opposing holes 2592 for receiving bumper hooks 2591 of a corresponding snap-on, U-shaped bumper component 2506. In an embodiment, bumper hooks 2591 may be made of a polypropylene material with the U-shaped bumper portion being formed of an elastomeric material that is over-molded thereon or otherwise attached thereto. Each belt linkage 2580 includes a tongue 2581 at one end of the belt linkage for connecting within a corresponding slot in another linkage and a slot 2583 at an opposing end of the belt linkage for receiving a tongue of another linkage. Depending on the size of the camera lens, more or fewer belt linkages 2580 may be joined together to form lens impact protection apparatus 2500. FIG. 25C shows lens impact protection apparatus 2500 mounted on a forward portion of lens 2505 of camera 2502 such that U-shaped bumper component 2506 extends forward of front end surface 2504 thereof. DMPM-OOl PCT

[0080] FIGS. 26 and 26 A are various views of a modular lens impact protection apparatus 2600 in accordance with another embodiment hereof. Lens impact protection apparatus 2600 is a modular system made up of three interlocking belt-bumper linkages 2680, each of which is a unitary one-piece molded structure with a single shade-like bumper component 2606, a tongue 2681 at one end of the linkage for connecting within a corresponding slot in another linkage, and a slot 2683 at an opposing end of the linkage for receiving a tongue of another linkage. Slot 2683 is closed by a living-hinge cover 2632 that snaps shut and includes a thumb screw 2682 that may be tightened on a tongue inserted therein to secure a longitudinal position of the tongue. Depending on the size of the camera lens, more or fewer belt-bumper linkages 2680 may be joined together to form lens impact protection apparatus 2600.

[0081] While various embodiments according to the present invention have been described above, it should be understood that they have been presented by way of illustration and example only, and not limitation. It will be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant art that various changes in form and detail can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Thus, the breadth and scope of the present invention should not be limited by any of the above-described exemplary embodiments, but should be defined only in accordance with the appended claims and their equivalents. It will also be understood that each feature, such as bumper components 206, 506, 606, 806, 1306, 1606, 1706, of each embodiment discussed herein, and of each reference cited herein, can be adapted to be used in combination with the features, such as adjustable belt components, 208, 708, 1008, 1108, 1208, 1308, 1408, 1508, 1608, 1708, 2008, 2108 of any other embodiment. All patents and publications discussed herein are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety.




 
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