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Title:
SUPPORT CUSHIONS AND METHODS FOR DISSIPATING HEAT AWAY FROM THE SAME
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/161023
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A support cushion is provided for dissipating heat away from the support cushion. The support cushion includes a body supporting portion and a base portion that is positioned below the body supporting portion. The base portion defines a channel that extends through the base portion and that is in fluid communication with the body supporting portion. A fan is further included in the support cushion and is operably connect to the channel of the base portion, such that the fan is positioned and configured to move an amount of air through the channel and dissipate heat away from the body supporting portion. Methods of dissipating heat away from a support cushion are also provided.

Inventors:
GHANEI HAMID (US)
KILGORE TYLER W (US)
Application Number:
US2015/026086
Publication Date:
October 22, 2015
Filing Date:
April 16, 2015
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
TEMPUR PEDIC MAN LLC (US)
GHANEI HAMID (US)
KILGORE TYLER W (US)
International Classes:
A47C21/04; A47C27/14
Domestic Patent References:
WO2007134246A22007-11-22
Foreign References:
US20140059780A12014-03-06
US20110308020A12011-12-22
US5546618A1996-08-20
US20080263775A12008-10-30
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WILKINSON, J., Mark (LLC1000 Tempur Wa, Lexington KY, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is;

1 , A support cushion, comprising:

a body supporting portion having a first suriace and a second surface opposite the first surface;

a base portion positioned adjacent to the second surface of the body supporting portion, the base portion defining a channel extending through the base portion and in fluid communication with the body supporting portion; and

a fan operabl connected to the channel of the base portion, the fan for dissipating heat- awa from the body supporting portion.

2. The support cushion of claim 1 , wherein the base portion further defines an inlet on a first exterior surface of the base portion and an ouilet on a second exterior surface of th base portion, and wherein the channel extends from the- inlet to the outlet.

3. The support cushion of claim 2, wherein the first exterior surface is a head end of the base portion and the second exterior surface is a foot end of the base portion, and wherein the fan Is operably connected to the ouilet,

4, The support cushion of claim 2. where the fan comprises a first fan connected to the inlet and a second fan connected to the outlet.

5. The support cushion of claim J , wherein the base portion, includes one or more walls positioned in ihe channel, the one or more walls for directing air flow through the channel,

6. The support cushion of claim L wherein the body supporting portion, the base portion, or both are comprised of a flex ible foam,

7. The support cushion of claim 6, wherein the body supporting portion is comprised of a visco-elastic foam.

8. The support cushion of claim 6, wherein the body supporting portion is comprised of a reticulated visco-elastic foam.

9. The support cushion of claim 7, further comprising a comfort layer compri sed of a visco- elastic foam and positioned atop the first surface of ihe body supporting portion.

10. The support cushion of claim 9, wherein the visco-elastic foam comprising the comfort layer has a density less than thai of the visco-elastic foam comprising the body supporting portion.

1. 1. The support cushion of claim 1 , wherein the body supporting portion defines a plurality of columnar voids extending from, the first .surface of the body supporting portion to the second surface of the body supporting portion .

.12. The support cushion of claim I I , wherein each of the columnar voids are in fluid communication with the channel

.13. The support cushion of claim 2. further comprising a filter operably connected to the inlet, the outlet, or both the inlet and the outlet,

14. The support cushion 'of claim 1, further comprising a controller for controlling an amount of power supplied to the fan.

15. The support cushion of claim 1 , wherein the controller is configured to allow power to he supplied to the tan for a predetermined time period.

1.6. The support cushion of claim 14, further comprising one or- more temperature sensors for providing thermal feedback, to the controller, the one or more temperature sensors operably connected to the body supporting portion.

.17. The support cushion of claim 14, further comprising one or more pressure sensors for providing pressure feedback to the controller, the one or more pressure sensors operably connected to the body supporting portion.

18. The support cushion of claim 1 , wherein the body supporting portion is dimensioiially- srzed io support a user lying in a supine or prone position.

19. A mattress, comprising:

a body supporting portion comprised of a flexible foam, the body supporting portion having a first surface and a second surface opposite the first surface;

a base portion positioned adjacent to the second surface of the- body supporting portion, the base portion defining a first channel and a second channel extending iongitudinallv through the base portion on opposite sides of the base portion, the first channel and the second channel each in fluid communication with the body supporting portion;

a first fan operabiy connected to the first channel; and

a second fan operabi connected to the second channel

20. The mattress of claim 19, wherein the flexible foam i s a reticulated visco-elastic foam,

21. The mattress of claim 1 , wherein the body supporting portion defines a plurality of columnar voids extending from the first surface of the body supporting portion to the second surface of the body supporting portion, each of the columnar voids in fluid communication with the first channel or the second channel

22. A method of dissipating heat awa from a support cushion, comprising:

providing a support cushion including

a body supporting portion,

a base portion positioned adjacent to the body supporting portion and defining a channel extending through the base portion, the channel in fluid communication with the body supporting portion, and a fan operably connected to the channel of the base portion: and supplying power to the fan, such that the fan moves an amount of air through the channel dissipates heat awa irom the body supporting portion.

Description:
SUPPORT CUSHIONS AND METHODS FOR DISSIPATING HEAT AWAY FROM

TH SAME

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] The present invention relates to support cushions and methods for dissipating heat awa from support cushions. In particular, the present invention relates to support cushions, such as mattresses, that make use of internal channels operably connected to tans to dissipate heat away from body supporting portions of the support cushions,

BACKGROUND

£0002] An aspect of successful and restful sleep is individual sleep comfort. Medical research suggests that sleep deprivation ("sleep debt") can have significant negative impacts on longevity, productivity, and overall mental, emotional and physical health. Chronic sleep debt has been linked to weight gain and, more specifically, has been observed to not only affect the way the body processes and stores carbohydrates, but has also been observed to alter hormone levels that affect appetite. Moreover, sleep debt may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, and moodiness, which has led some researchers to suggest a link between sleep debt and worksite accidents, traffic incidents, and general afternoon inattentiveness- Furthermore, sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, and irregular heartbeat, and additional research has recentl suggested that a lack of sleep can affect Immune function, resulting in increased susceptibility to illness and disease, e.g., cancer. In all, researchers have now suggested that sleep debt costs the United States $63 billion annually in lost, productivity due to these various effects. Accordingly, a support cushion that improves sleep comfort and lowers individual sleep debt would be both highly desirable and beneficial. SUMMARY

[0003| The present invention includes support cushions and methods for dissipating heat away from support cushions. In particular, the present invention includes support cushions, such as mattresses, thai make use of internal channels operably connected to fans to dissipate heat away from body supporting portions of the support cushions. Thus, the support cushions of the present invention ailow a user to increase their level of comfort, including sleep comfort, by controlling the temperature of the body supporting portions of the support cushions.

|Θ004| In one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a support cushion in the form of a mattress is provided that includes a body supporting portion having a first surface and a second surface opposite the first surface. The mattress also includes a base portion thai is positioned adjacent to the second surface of the body supporting portion and that includes a head end and a foot end. The base portion defines a channel that extends longitudinally from an inlet, defined by the head end of the base portion, to an outlet, defined by the foot end of the base portion, and that is in fluid communication with the bod supporting portion of the mattress. A fan is also included in the mattress id is operably connected to the channel, such that, in operation, the fen moves an amount of ai through the channel aid dissipates heat away from the body supporti ng portio of the mattress, as described in further detail below.

[Θ0Θ5] The body supporting portion and the base portion of the mattress are generall comprised of a flexible foam. The flexible foam comprising the base portion is typically of a sufficient density and hardness for supporting the body supporting portion of the mattress. The flexible foam comprising the bod supporting portion, on the other hand, typically has a density less than thai of the base portion and is suitable for distributing pressure from a user's body, or portion thereof, across the body supporting portion. In some embodiments, the flexible foam is a visco-e astic foam that has a desired density and hardness, and allows pressure to be absorbed uniformly and distributed evenly across the body supporting portion of the mattress. In this regard, in certain embodiments, the body supporting portion can be further covered by a comfort portio or layer that is positioned atop the body supporting portion to provide a level of comfort to a body of a user or a portion thereof that is resting on the mattress. Such comfort layer, in certain embodiments, is also comprised of a visco-elastic foam or other foam, but typically has a density less than that of the body supporting portion of the mattress so as to provide a softer surface on which to rest,

0006] With respect to the fan included in the mattresses, the fan is at least operah!y connected to the outlet that is defined by th foot end of the base portion, such that, in operation, the fan draws air from both the inlet in the base portion and the body supporting portion, and then moves the air through the channels before removing the air from the channels through the outlet. By positioning the fan in the loot end of the base portion, the fan thus creates a flow of air through the mattress that, in turn, not onl creates a pressure differential within mattress, but that also dissipates any heat present in the body supporting portio of the mattress away from body supporting portion and the rest of the mattress. In some embodiments, the base portion further includes walls that are positioned in the channels and that divert or otherwise direct the air entering the base portion through the Inlet, such that the air flows more uniforml through the channel and dissipates heat away from the entirety of the body supporting portion, in some embodiments, one or more additional fans can also be included In an exemplary mattress assembly, including, for example, in the inlet defined by the base portion, to move an increased amount of air through the channel and dissipate an increased amount of heat away from the body .supporting portion. Additionally, in further embodiments, one or more filters can be positioned in the inlets, the outlets, or both to ensure that fresh air is entering and exiting the base portion.

[4 ) 007 j To further enhance the dissi ation of heat away from the body supporting portion, in some embodiments, the body supporting portion itself can be further configured to increase the movement of air through the mattress. For example, in certain embodiments, the body supporting portion of an exemplary mattres is comprised of a reticulated visco-elastic foam that allows air to mor readily move through the body supporting portion and that also allows any heat present in the body supporting portion to more readily dissipate through the body supporting portion and then awa from the mattress by virtue of the movement of air through the channel and out of the outlet. In other embodiments, as an alternative or in addition to the use of reticulated visco-elastic foam in the body supporting portion, the bod supporting portion can further define a plurality of columnar voids that are each in fluid communication with the channels of the base portion and that also allow for an increased amount of air to travel through and dissipate hea away from the body supporting portion.

J0008) Regardless of the particular configuration of the body supporting portion of the mattresses of the present invention, each mattress further includes a power supply for supplying electrical current to the fan, and a controller for controlling the electrical current that is supplied to the fan. By including a controller in the mattresses, the amount of electrical current supplied to the fan can be controlled to allow for a desired amount of air to move through the mattress and, consequently, a desired amount of heat to be dissipated away irom the body supporting portion of the mattress. For example, in certain embodiments, the controller is configured to automatically control the electrical current supplied to the fan, such that the electrical current can be supplied to the fan when the first surface of the body supporting portion reaches a particular temperature. As another example, the controller, in some embodiments, is configured to allow the electrical current to be supplied to the fan for a predetermined time period, such as for an 8- hour sleeping period or for a length of time that corresponds to the time a user usually spends in a specific stage of th sleep cycle (e.g., REM sleep).

[Θ0Θ9] To provide an additio al level of control over the fan i ncluded in the mattresses of the present invention, in certain embodiments, the maitresses fiirther include one or more features that are operably connected to the body supporting portion and provide input to the controller. Such features include, in some embodiments, pressure sensors that provide pressure feedback to the controller and allow the controller to automatically begin moving an amount of air through the mattress and dissipating heat away from the body supporting portion when a user lies on the mattress or otherwise places an amount of pressure on the mattresses. In other embodiments, temperature sensors are included in an exemplary mattress and provide temperature feedback to the -controller to allow the controller to selectively begin moving an amount of air through the mattress and dissipating heat away from the body supporting portion in response to received temperature feedback and to maintain a desired temperature. Such desired temperature or pressure feedback settings are, in certain embodiments, directly inputted or adjusted at the controller itself or, in other embodiments, can be transmitted to the controller from a remote control that is also operably connected to the controller.

(00111} With further respect to the support cushions of the present invention, an exemplary support cushion can also be used as part of a method of dissipating heat away from a support cushion. In some implementations, a method of dissipating heat away from a support cushion includes first providing a support cushion having: a body supporting portion; a base portion that is positioned adjacent to the body supporting portion and that defines a channel extending through the base portion, with the channel being in fluid communication with the body supporting portion; and a fan that is operably connected to the channel. Power, in the form of electrical current, is then supplied to the fan, such that the fan moves an amount of air through the channel and then dissipates heat awa from the body supporting portion to thereby increase the comfort of a user resting on the mattress.

[0011 j Further features and advantages of the present invention wi!i become evident to those of ordinary skill in the art after a study of the description, figures, and non-limiting examples in this document.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

(0012] FIG. .1 is a perspective view of an exemplary support cushion, in the form of a mattress, made in accordance with the present invention;

|O013] FIG. 2 is a perspec ti ve view of the exemplary mattress of FIG. 1 , but with a portion of the mattress removed to show a channel in the base portion of the mattress and a plurality of columnar voids in the body supporting portion of the mattress;

[0014] FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the exemplary mattress of FIG. 1 taken along line 3-3 of FIG. I, and with the filter and fan. removed from the base portion of the mattress;

[0015] FIG. 4 is another cross-sectional view of the exemplar)' mattress of FIG. 1 , but taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 1 ;

|0016| FIG, 5 is a perspective view of another exemplary support cushion, in the form of a mattress, made in accordance with the present invention, with a portion of the mattress removed to show a channel in the base portion;

[0017] FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the exemplary mattress of FIG. 5 taken along line |0ΘΙβ| FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another exemplary support cushion, in the form of a mattress,, made in accordance with the present invention, with a portion of the mattress removed to show a pair of channels in the base portion;

1001 1 FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the exemplary mattress of FIG. 7 taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 7, and with the ftlters and fans removed from the base portion of the mattress; and

[0020] FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of exemplary support cushions for use in a chair and made in accordance w ith the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

[0021] The present invention includes support cushions and methods for dissipating heat aw a from support cushions, in particular, the present invention includes support cushions, such as mattresses, that make use of internal channels operably connected to fans to dissipate heat away from body supporting portions of the support cushions. Thus, the support cushions of the present invention allow a user to increase their level of comfort, including sleep comfort, by controlling the temperature of the body supporting portions of the support cushions.

[0022 j Referring first to FIGS, 1-4. in one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a support cushion in the form of a mattress 10 is provided that includes a body supporting portion 20 having a first surface 22, which is generally an upper surface of the bod supporting portion 20, and a second surface 24, which is opposite the first surface 22, and is generally the lower surface of the body supporting portion 20. The mattress 10 further includes a base portion 30, which is adjacent to the second surface 24 of the body supporting portion 20 and includes a first exterior surface 32, which is generally the head end of the base portion 30, and a second exterior surface 34, which is generally the foot end of the base portion 30. The base portion 30 further defines a channel 36, which extends from an inlet 40 defined fay the first exterior surface 32 of the base portion 30 to an outlet 50 defined by the second exterior surface 34 of the base portion 30, and which is in fluid communication with the body supporting portion 20 of the mattress 10. A fan 70 is also included in the mattress 10 and is operably connected to the channel 36 of the base portion 30, such that, in operation, the fan 70 moves an amount of air through the channel 36 and dissipates heat away from the body supporting portion 20 of the mattress 10, as described in further detail below.

[0023} The body supporting portion 20 and the base portion 30 of the mattress 10 are generally comprised of a flexible foam.. The flexible foam comprising the base portion 30 is typically of a sufficient density and hardness for supporting the body supporting portion 20 of the mattress 10. The flexible foam comprising the body supporting portion, on the other hand, typically has a density less than the base portion 30 and is suitable for distributing pressure from a user's bod or portion thereof across the body supporting portion 20. Such flexible foams include, but are not limited to, latex ioam, reticulated or non-reticulated visco-elastic foam (sometimes reierred to as memory foam or low-resilience foam), reticulated or non -reticulated non-visco-elasiic foam, po!yurethane high-resilience foam, expanded polymer foams (e.g., expanded ethylene vinyl acetate, polypropylene, polystyrene, or polyethylene), and the like. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-4, both the base portion 30 and the body supporting portion 20 are comprised of a non-reticulated visco-elastic foam thai has a low resilience as well as a sufficient densit and hardness, which allows pressure to be absorbed uniformly and distributed evenly the mattress .1.0. Generally, such visco-elastic foams have a hardness of at least about 10 N to no greater than about 80 , as measured by exerting pressure from a plate against a sample of the material to a compression of at least 40% of an original thickness of the material at approximately room temperature (i.e., ' 2 C to 23°C), where the 40% compression is held for a

S set period of time as established by the international Organization of Standardization (J SO) 2439 hardness measuring standard. In some embodiments, the viseo-elastie foams used in the body supporting portion 20 and the base portion 30 have a hardness of about 10 N, about 20 N, about 30 , about 40 N, about 50 N, about 60 N, about 70 N, or about 80 N to provide a desired degree of comfort, and body-conforming qualities.

{0624] The viseo-elastie foam described herein for use in the mattress 10 can also have a density that assists in providing a desired degree of comfort and body-conforming qualities, as well as an increased degree of material durability. In some embodiments, the visco-elastic foams used in the body supporting portion 20 and base portion 30 have a density of no less than about 30 kg/nr' to no greater than about 150 kg/nr. In some embodiments, the density of the visco- elastic foams used in the body supporting portion 20 and base portion 30 is about 30 kg/m 3 , about 40 kg m\ about 50 kg/m 3 , about 60 kg/m 3 , about 70 kg m 3 , about 80 kg/m 3 , about 90 kg/nr', abou 100 kg/m ' *, about 1 10 about 120 kg/m * , about 130 kg/m 3 , about 140 kg/nr, or about 150 kg/nr " . Of course, the selection of a viseo-elastie foam having a particular density will affect other characteristics of the foam, including its hardness, the -manner in which the foam responds to pressure, and the overall feel of the foam, but it is appreciated that a visco-elastic foam having a desired density and hardness can readil be selected for a particular application or mattress as desired. Additionally, it is appreciated that the body supporting portion 20 or the base portion 30 need not be comprised of flexible foam at all, but can also take the form of more traditional mattresses, including spring-based mattresses, without departing from the spirit and scope of the subject matter described herein,

[0825] Referring still to FIGS, 1-4, the body supporting portion 20 of the mattress 10 is further covered b a comfort layer 60 that is positioned atop the body supporting portion 20 adjacent to the first surface 22 of the body supporting portion 20. The comfort layer 60 provides a level of comfort to a body of a user or a portion thereof that is resting on the mattress 10. The comfort layer 60 can also be comprised of a visco-eiastic foam. However, the comfort layer 60 typically has a density, hardness, or both that is less than that of the body supporting portion 20 of the mattress 10, such that the comfort layer 60 provides a softer surface on which to rest the body of a user or a portion thereof. For example, in certain embodiments, the mattress 10 includes a body supporting portion 20 that is comprised of visco-eiastic foam with a density of about 80 fcg/m " ' and a hardness of about 13. N, while the comfort layer 60 is comprised of a visco- eiastic foam with a density of about 35 kg nr and a hardness of about 1 N.

[0026| With further respect to the body supporting portions and base portions included in an exemplary mattress assembly, it is additionall contemplated that an exemplary body supporting portion o base portion can be further comprised of one or more different or additional layers having various densities and hardnesses. For instance, it is contemplated that a layer of high- resilience polyurethane foam can be secured to the second surface of a layer of low-resilience visco-eiastic foam used in a body supporting portion of the mattress. Such multi-layered portions are described, for example, in. U.S. Patent Nos. 7,469,437; 7,507,468; 8,025,964; and 8,034,445, as wel l as in U.S. Patent Application Publication No, 201 1 /0252562, each of which is incorporated herein by this reference,

[0027] Regardless of the particular configuration of the body supporting portion 20, the base portion 30, and the comfort layer 60, the body supporting portion 20, the base portion 30, and the comfort layer 60 are generally secured to one another to prevent -the body supporting portion 20, the base portion 30, and the comfort layer 60 from moving relative to one another during use, Various means of securing one layer of material to another can be used in this regard, including tape, hook aid loop fasteners, conventional fasteners, stitches, and the like. In one particular embodiment, the body supporting portion 20, the base portion 30 and the comfort layer 60 are bonded together by an adhesive or cohesive bonding material to create a substantially continuous assembly where the body supporting portion 20, the base portion 30 and the comfort layer 60 are fully adhered to one another. Such adhesive bonding materials include, for example, environmentally-friendly, water based adhesives. like SABA AQUABOMD RSD, a two- component water-based adhesive product produced by SABA DINXPERLO BV, B-7090 AA, Dinxperlo, Belgium,

0028| Turning now to the fan 70 included in the mattress 10 shown in FIGS. l -4 ? the fan 70 is operably connected to the outlet 50 that is defined by the second exterior surface 34 (i.e., the fool end) of th base portion 30 and that is in fluid communication with not only the channel 36 and the inlet 40, but also the body supporting portion 20. As such, in operation, the fan 70 draws air from both the inlet 40 and from the body supportin portion 20, and then moves the air through the channel 36 before removing the ai from the channel 36 through the outlet 50. By positioning the fan 70 in the outlet 50, the fan 70 thus creates a flow of air through the mattress 10 that, in turn, not only creates a pressure differential within the mattress 0, but that also dissipates any heat present in the body supporting portion 20 of the mattress 1 awa from the body supporting portion 20 and then away from the remainder of the mattress 10. in this regard, to help ensure that heat is being dissipated away from the entirety of the body supporting portion 20, the base portion 30 of the mattress 10 also includes a number of walls 38 that are positioned in the channel 36, such that air flows more uniformly -through the channel 36 and heat is more uniformly dissipated away from the body supporting portion 20. Further, to ensure that fresh air is entering the base portion 30 and, more specifically, the channel 36, the mattress 10 also

1 3 includes a filter 76 that covers the inlet 40, such that only filtered air is allowed to pass into the channel 36 through the inlet 40 and the channel 36 is kept free of particulates such as smoke, dust, dirt, pollen, mold, bacteria, hair, or insects that may otherwise collect in the interior of the mattres 10 and limit air flo through, the channel 36, Of course, if is contemplated that various types of filters including, but not limited to, charcoal filters for removing chemicals and/or unpleasant odors can be readily incorporated into an exemplary mattress of the present invention without departing from the spirit and scope of the subject matter described herein,

[0029] With further respect to the movement of air through the mattress 10, in the mattress 10, the body supporting portion 20 is also configured to increase the movement of air through the mattress 10 and to enhance the dissipation of heat away from the body supporting portion 20, In particular, to further enhance heat movement within, through, and away from the body supporting portion 20 of the mattress 10, the body supporting portion 20 defines a plurality of columnar voids 26 that extend from the second surface 24 of the bod supporting portion 2(5 to the first surface 22 of the body supporting portio 20, Each of the columnar voids 26 are in fluid communication with the channel 36, such that during operation of the fan 70, the columnar voids 26 allow for air to more readily travel through the body supporting portion 20 and heat to more readily dissipate away from the body supporting portion 20. As best shown in FIG. 2, in the mattress 10, the columnar voids 26 are arranged in a regular grid-like pattern to help ensure uniform movement of air through, and a uniform dissipation of heat away from, the body supporting portion 20. However, it is also contemplated that voids having various sizes and shapes can also be included in an exemplar mattress assembly as may be desired for a particular application or user. For example, for users prone to excessive heating during sleep, it is contemplated that an exemplary mattress assembly can be provided having voids with larger diameters positioned in a central region of the body supporting portion of a mattress that would be in contact with the portion of the body of the user that is prone to excessive heating (e.g., the torso).

[0030] irrespective of the particular configuration of the body supporting portion of an exemplary mattress, and referring still to FIGS. 1 -4, the mattress 10 also includes a controller 80 for controlling the power supplied to the fan 70. By including the controller 80 in the mattress 10, the amount of electrical current supplied to the fan 70 can be controlled to allow for a desired amount of air to move through the mattress 10 and, consequently, a desired amount of heat to be dissipated away from the body supporting portion 20 of the mattress 10, For example, the controller 80 can be used to simply turn the fan 70 on or off depending on whether the user wishes to remove heat front the mattress 10, or can be used to operate the fan 70 at a particular speed depending on how quickly the user wishes to remove heat from the mattress 10. Alternatively, the controller can also be configured to automatically control the electrical current supplied to the fan 70, such that the electrical current can be supplied to the fan 70 when the first surface 22 of the body supporting portion 20 reaches a desired temperature. As another example, the controller can be configured to allow the electrical current to he supplied to the fan 70 for a predetermined time period, such as for an 8-hour sleeping period or for a length of time a user usually spends in a specific stage of the sleep cycle (e.g., RUM sleep) in order to increase the sleep comfort of a user.

[003 J j As a refinement, in another embodiment of the present invention that makes use of a controller for controlling a fan and an amount of air moving through an exemplary mattress, and referring now to FIGS. 5-6, an exemplary mattress 3. 10 is provided that includes a comfort layer 1 0, a body supporting portion 120 having a first surface 122 and a second surface 124, and a base portion 130 having a first exterior surface 132 and a second exterior surface 134. The base portion 130 also defines a channel 136 with a number of walls 138 positioned in the channel 136. Unlike the mattress 10 shown in FIGS. 1-4, however, the channel 136 does not extend from a single inlet to single outlet. Rather, in the mattress 1 10, the channel 136 extends from two inlets 140a, 140b defined by th first exterior surface 132 of the base portion 130 to an outlet 150 defined by the second exterior surface 134 to allow for an increased amount of air to be drawn into the channel 136 and, consequently, an increased amount of heat to be dissipated away from the body supporting portion 120 of the mattress 1 10. In this regard, the mattress 1 10 also includes three fans 170a, 170b. 170c operably connected to a controller 1 80, with one of the fans 170a, 170b, 170c being operably connected to each of the inlets 140a, 140b and the outlet 150 t improve air flow through the channel 136. The mattress further includes three filters 176a, 176b, 176c, with one of the filters 176a, 176b, 176c operably connected to each of the two inlets 140 and to the outlet 150 to ensure that filtered air is entering and exiting from the channel 136.

1 032 J As a further refinement to the mattresses of the present invention, and referring still to FIGS. 5-6, the body supporting portion 120 of mattress 1 10 does not make use of a plurality of columnar voids that extend from the first surface 122 to the second surface 124 of the bod supporting portion 120 to enhance air movement within, through, and away from the body supporting portion 120 of the mattress 110. Instead, in the mattress 1 10, the body supporting portion 120 is comprised of a continuous layer of reticulated visco-elastic foam to allow for a sufficient amount of air to travel through .the body supporting portion 120 and for heat to be dissipated away from the body supporting portion 120. Such reticulated foam (viseo-elastic or otherwise) has a cellular foam structure in which the cells of the foam are essentially skeletal, In other words, the cells of the reticulated foam are each defined by a plurality of apertured windows surrounded by cell struts, where the cell windows of reticulated foam can be entirely absent (leaving only the cell struts) or substantially missing. I some .embodiments, the foam is considered "reticulated" if at least 50% of the windows of the cells are missing (i.e., windows having apertures therethrough, or windows that are completely missing and therefore leaving only the ceil struts). Such structures can be created by destruction or other removal of cell window material, by chemical, or mechanical means, or b preventing the complete formation of cell windows during the manufacturing process of the foam.

[Θ033] irrespective of the manufacturing process used to produce the reticulated foam, reticulated foam, by virtue of its reticulated cellular structure, has characteristics that are well suited for use in the body supporting portion 120 of the mattress HQ, including the enhanced ability to permit fluid movement through the reticulated foam and, consequently, the abihty to provide enhanced heat dissipation away from the body supporting portion 120 and the comfort layer 160 of the. mattress ί 10. In this regard, by using reticulated foam in the body supporting portion 120, when the first surface 122 of the body supporting portion 120 is heated, the heat is readily dissipated throughout the reticulated foam of the body supporting portion 120 and is then transferred out of the body supporting portion 120, into the channel .136, and out of the outlet 150 by virtue of the operation of the fans 170a, 170b, 170c connected to the channel 136.

J0O34| To provide an additional level of control over the movement of air in the mattress Π0, the mattress 1 10 also includes several features that are operably connected to the body supporting portion 120 and provide input to the controller 180. For example, as shown best in FIG. 5, the mattress 1 10 includes a temperature sensor 182 that provides temperature feedback to the controller 1.80 to thereby allow the controller to selectively pravide power to the fans 170a, 170b, 170c and adjust how quickly or how much heat is removed from the mattress i 10 in response to the received temperature feedback and to thereby maintain a desired temperature at the first surface 122 of the body supporting portion 120. As also shown in FIG. 5, a pressure sensor 184 is also operably connected to the body supporting portion 120 and provides pressure feedback to the controller 180 in response to a user resting upon or adjacent to the first surface 122 of the body supporting portio 120 t thereby allow the controller 180 to automatically begin providing power to the fans 170a, 170b, 170c and begin removing heat from the mattress 1 10 as soon as the user lies on the mattress 1 10 or otherwise places an amount of pressure on the mattress 1 10. An additional benefit of the inclusion of the pressure sensor 184 is that the controller I SO can. be configured to automatically shut off the fan 3 0 if a user is no longer lying on the mattress 1 10. Such desired temperature or pressure feedback settings can be directed inputted or adjusted at the controller 180 itself, or in certain embodiments of the present invention, can be transmitted to the controller 180 from a remote control that is also operably .connected to the controller 180,

[0035] A an even further refinement to the present invention, and referring now to FIGS. 7- 8, another exemplary mattress 210 is provided that includes a .comfort layer 260, a bod supporting portion 220 having a first surface 222 and a second surface 224, and a base portion 230 having a first exterior surface 232 and a second exterior surface 234. Unlike the mattresses 10, 1 10 shown in FIGS. 1 -4 and 5-6, however, the body supporting portion 220 is both comprised of a reticulated viseo-elastie foam and also includes a plurality of columnar voids 226 to move an amount of air through and dissipate heat away from the body supporting portion 220, Also unlike the mattresses 10, 1 10 shown in FIGS, 1-4 and 5-6, the mattress 210 does not make use of a single channel in a base portion, but instead includes a base portion 230 that defines a first channel 236a on one side of the mattress 210 and a second channel 236b on the opposite side of the mattress 210. The first channel 236a includes a number of walls 238a positioned in the channel 236a. and extends from a first inlet 240a defined by the first exterior surface 232 to a first outlet 250a defined by the second exterior surface 234. Likewise, the second channel 236b includes a number of walls 238b positioned in the second channel 236b. and extend from a second inlet 240b defined by the first exterior surface 232 to a second outlet 250b defined by a second exterior surface 234. A fan 270a, 270b, 270c, 270d and a filter 276a, 276b, 276c, 276d are included in each of the inlets 240a, 240b and outlets 250a, 250b of the channels 236a. 236b, with a first controller 280a operablv connected to the fens 270a. 270c associated with the first channel 236a and a second controller 280b operablv connected to the fans 270b, 270d associated with the second channel 236b. in this regard, in. operation, the fans 270a, 270c associated with the first channel 236a can he operated independent!}' from the fans 270b, 270d associated with the second channel 236b to thereby selectively move air through and dissipate heat away from a particular side of the mattress 210.

(00361 As yet another refinement to the present invention, although the support cushions shown in FIGS. 1 -8 .are in the form of mattresses 10, 1 10, 210, and are dimensional!)' sized to support a user lying in a supine or prone position, it is contemplated that the features described herein are equally applicable to head pillows, seat cushions, scat backs, neck pillows, leg spacer pillows, mattress topers, overlays, and the like. As such, the phrase "body support" or "body supporting" is used herein to refer to any and all such objects having any size or shape, and that are capable of or are generally used to support the body of a user or a portion thereof. For example, as shown in FIG, 9 support cushions made in accordance with the present invention are incorporated into the seat 312 and the bac k 314 of a desk chair 310. Each s upport cushion of the ' desk chair 310 includes a comfort layer 360, a body supporting portion 320 comprised of a reticulated viseo-e!astic foam and defining a plurality of columnar voids 326, and a base portion. 330 defining a channel 336, The support cushions of the desk chair 310 also include a fan ' 370 and filter 376 operably connected,, respectively, to an inlet 340 and an outlet 350 that ar each in fjirid communication with the channel 336. A controller 380 is further included in both the seat 31,2 and the back 314 and provides power to the fan 370, such thai, in operation, the fan 370 moves air through and dissipates heat away from the support cushions.

10037} Each of the exemplary support cushions described herein can also be used as part of a method of dissipating heat away from a support cushion, in some implementations, a method of dissipating heat away from a support cushion includes first providing a support cushion having: a body supporting portion; a base portion that is positioned adjacent to the body supporting portion and than defines a channel extending through the base portion, with the channel being in fluid communication with the body supporting portion; and a fan that is operably connected to the channel. Power, in the form of electrical current, is then supplied to the fan, such that the fan moves an amount of air through the channel and then dissipates heat away from the body supporting portion t thereby increase the comfort of a user resting on the mattress. In some implementations that make use of temperature and pressure sensors in an exemplary support cushion, as described in detail above, the surface temperature of the support cushion can controlled by first receiving feedback from a temperature or pressure sensor positioned in the body supporting portion of the support cushions, and then supplying power to the fans based on the feedback received from the temperature sensor, the pressur sensor, or both.

|0038j One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that additional embodiments are also possible without departing from " the teachings of the present invention or the scope of the claims which follow. This detailed description, and particularl the specific details of the exemplary embodiments disclosed herein, is given primarily for clarity of understanding, and no unnecessary limitations are to be understood therefrom, for modifications will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading this disclosure and may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the claimed invention.

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