CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application claims all rights of priority to the U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/966,121, filed Aug. 24, 2007.
This application generally relates to a luggage system.
Once considered a pleasurable convenience, today's travel has shifted to become a stressful but necessary nuisance. Numerous TSA regulations and new airlines' policies have increased the inconveniences associated with travel, including luggage size and weight limits, enforced laptop removal and scanning as well as carry-on and toiletry restrictions. Therefore, the demand for smart, time-saving, and efficient travel solutions has never been greater.
Wheeled luggage cases are in widespread use today and greatly ease the traveler's movement in airports, railroad stations, etc. Many wheeled luggage items have retractable handles that permit the traveler to pull or push the luggage item as he walks and have one hand free. A common type of such a handle comprises a pair of spaced, parallel tubes that telescope into the luggage case when not needed and can be readily withdrawn into an extended position when needed.
A common practice among travelers is to carry a secondary piece of luggage, such as a laptop case, a cosmetic case or a backpack, on the wheeled luggage case by seating it on top of the case and strapping it to the extended handle. With the double tube type of handle, some stability for the secondary bag is provided by the spaced tubes. However, even with that arrangement, especially when the tubes are closely spaced, rapid movement and turning of the wheeled luggage case can cause the secondary piece of luggage to slide or twist away from its desired position on the luggage case.
An arrangement for improving the stability of a secondary bag on a wheeled luggage item, applicable to luggage cases having closely spaced double tubes or single tube retractable handles is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,938,741. That arrangement comprises a bar member mounted on the top of the luggage case and moveable between a collapsed position in which the bar member rests on the case and an extended position in which the bar member extends outwardly from the case just in front of the pull handle. The bar has considerable extent in the widthwise direction of the case, significantly more than the pull handle, and thereby provides stability to a secondary bag resting atop the case.
Another solution for attaching a secondary piece of luggage to the main wheeled luggage case includes U.S. Pat. No. 6,817,623 disclosing a case system having two equipment cases, such as for storing and transporting musical electronic equipment. The cases are connected together in an over/under relationship for the purpose of wheeling the connected cases as a single unit. The bottom case has two wheels along one edge and an extendable handle, which when extended exposes two handle shafts. The top case has two grooves which accept the two handle shafts. Latches on the top case lock the handles shafts in place within the two grooves, thereby attaching the top case to the bottom case.
With dramatic increase in the amount and frequency of business and leisure travel, there is a substantial need in the art for a luggage system enabling customization to specific lifestyle/travel needs and secure engagement and quick release of additional luggage pieces.
In general, in a first aspect, the invention features a modular luggage system, including a core bag module and an additional bag module. The core module includes a housing, at least one internal compartment and a docking frame positioned on the surface of the housing. The additional bag module has its internal compartment and a rim located on the surface of the additional bag module. The rim of the additional bag module is engageable with the docking frame of the core bag module so as to removably secure the additional bag module on the core bag module.
In general, in a second aspect, the invention features a luggage case, including at least one internal compartment, an internal inflation system and a pumping mechanism located on an outside of the luggage case. The pumping mechanism is connected to the internal inflation system so as to pump air into the internal inflation system, which is located inside the luggage case and which expands when air is pumped into the internal inflation system compressing the inner volume of the internal compartment.
It is one of the objects to provide a luggage system optimizing use of internal and external space.
It is another of the objects to provide a luggage system with an internal/external modularity for maximum organization.
It is a further of the objects to provide a luggage system with an easy and quick external access to travel accessories.
It is still a further of the objects to provide a luggage system with a separation of work items and personal items
It is still a further of the objects to provide a luggage system allowing for a secure and quick consolidation and for ease of handling and portability during transit.
It is still a further of the objects to provide a luggage system where a module detachability enables overhead storage of dock with continued access to secondary module
The above aspects, advantages and features are of representative embodiments only. It should be understood that they are not to be considered limitations on the invention as defined by the claims. Additional features and advantages of the invention will become apparent in the following description, from the drawings, and from the claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention is illustrated by way of example and not limitation and the figures of the accompanying drawings in which like references denote like or corresponding parts, and in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the first embodiment of the inter-locking modular luggage system.
FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of inter-connectivity between various modules of the inter-locking modular luggage system.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the core luggage case.
FIG. 4 is a top cut-out view of the core luggage case showing the docking release button.
FIG. 5 is the view of the core luggage module with a schematic illustration of its internal compartments.
FIG. 6 is a rear view of the core luggage module.
FIG. 7 is a rear view of the laptop bag module.
FIG. 8 is a front view of the laptop bag module.
FIG. 9 is a rear view of the laptop bag module showing a retractable power plug.
FIG. 10 is a rear view of the laptop bag module showing a retractable solar panel.
FIG. 11 is a top perspective view of the first embodiment of the inter-locking modular luggage system.
FIG. 12 is a rear perspective view of the backpack module.
FIG. 13 is a front perspective view of the backpack module.
FIG. 14 is a rear perspective view of the backpack module showing unfolded retractable shoulder straps.
FIG. 15 is a top perspective view of the duffel core module.
FIG. 16 is a top perspective view of the duffel core module with a docked backpack module.
FIG. 17 is a top perspective view of the duffel core module with a docked laptop case module.
FIG. 18 is a front perspective view of the briefcase core module.
FIG. 19 is a perspective view of the briefcase core module with a docked laptop case module.
FIG. 20 is a perspective view of the briefcase core module with a docked laptop sleeve module.
FIG. 21 is a perspective view of the laptop sleeve module.
FIG. 22 is a front perspective view of the luggage case according to the second embodiment.
FIG. 23 is a rear perspective view of the luggage case according to the second embodiment.
FIG. 24 is the view of the luggage case according to the second embodiment with a schematic illustration of its internal compartments.
FIG. 25 is a top cut-out view of the luggage case according to the second embodiment showing the pump button.
FIG. 26 is a schematic diagram of the pumping action and the inflation/deflation.
FIG. 27 is a top cut-out view of the luggage case according to the second embodiment showing the working surface.
FIG. 28 is a rear cut-out view of the luggage case according to the second embodiment showing an integrated charging station.
FIG. 29 is a top perspective view of the briefcase according to the second embodiment.
FIG. 30 is a top perspective view of the duffel bag according to the second embodiment.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS AND THE DRAWINGS
As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the luggage system 10 of the first embodiment preferably includes at least one core module 12 and at least one additional module 14. Core module 12 functions as a base for the additional module 14 and features external access to internal organization compartments. Core modules 12 may include a core luggage case module 20, a core duffel module 30, a core briefcase module 40 or any other similar travel bag. Although, only a laptop case module 15 and a backpack module 25 are described herein as additional modules, it should be apparent to a person skilled in the art that any other additional appropriately sized luggage piece may be utilized as the additional module.
The core luggage case module 20 is preferably manufactured in 22'', 26'', 28'', or 30'' silhouettes and includes a housing 16 with a top panel 35, front panel 36, two side panels 37 and a stamped steel base 17. Housing 16 includes a docking cavity 34 preferably formed at the front panel of the housing and sized to accommodate the additional module. The docking cavity is surrounded with a docking frame 19 preferably made of lightweight steel. The docking frame of the core luggage module includes a locking mechanism removably attaching the additional module to the docking frame. In the preferred embodiment, the locking mechanism is a snap closure engaging a rim of the additional module so as to removably secure the rim of the additional module within the docking cavity. A docking release button 38 (shown in FIG. 4) is provided on the housing 16, preferably on its top panel. Depressing the docking release button deactivates the locking mechanism, preferably by retracting the snap closure and disengaging the rim of the additional module, thereby releasing the additional module. Instead of the snap closure, an air suction closure, a magnetic closure or any other locking mechanism known in the art may be used to removably attach the additional module to the core module. Sport-equipment bindings may be used to ensure secure, quick and easy modular locking and release.
As shown in FIG. 6, module 20 includes a fully retractable handle 18 preferably made of aircraft-grade aluminum. Handle 18 has two parallel telescopically extending tubes 32 slidable within the sliding channels 28. Handle 18 can be selectively positioned in one of at least three positions, i.e., a fully extended position, a half extended position and a fully retracted position. The handle's position is selected by a user by pressing a locking button 33 and extending or retracting the handle into the desired position. Molded wheels 22 are positioned within internal wheel cavities 24 and rotatably secured to the housing 16. Vertical and horizontal carrying handles 39 with non-slip grips and additional straps (not shown) may be provided on the housing 16 for versatile portability.
As customary with any other luggage case, the front panel of the housing 16 can be opened to reveal the main internal compartment (not shown) of the core luggage case module. Multiple specialized internal compartments 41 are preferably also provided within the housing. Each specialized compartment 41 is sized to accommodate essential travel accessories, e.g., toiletry case, a plastic bag, a headset or a neck rest. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 5, each specialized internal compartment 41 has an external access from the top panel 35 and/or the side panels 37. Zippers 42 are preferably used to close the external access to the internal compartments 41 and to the main internal compartment of the core luggage case module 20.
As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, a laptop case module 15 docks onto all core modules. The laptop case module preferably offers secure and padded storage for laptops. As shown in FIGS. 7-9, the laptop case module preferably includes a front panel 51 and a back panel 52. Rim 53 for engagement with the docking frame 19 of the core module is located on the back panel. The laptop case module 15 engaged with the core luggage case module 20 using the rim 53 and the docking frame 19 is shown in FIG. 11. The portion of the back panel 52 encircled by the rim 53 preferably protrudes from the surface of the back panel 52 so as to be snugly accommodated within the docking cavity of the core module.
A padded internal compartment (not shown) is provided to accommodate laptops of varying sizes. The front panel houses an internal power strip 56, which can charge the laptop, as well as multiple electronic accessories while on the go. A power cord 59 is included in the power strip 56 for connection to an external power outlet. If necessary a telephone or a data cord with appropriate jacks may be provided in the internal power strip 56. An LED indicator 58 glows when the power cord 59 is plugged in. The internal laptop compartment and the internal power strip compartment may be selectively closed using zippers 57. A detachable shoulder strap (not shown) may be attached to the laptop case module to enable a user to carry the laptop case module when it is not docked onto one of the core modules.
As shown in FIG. 10, the laptop case module 15 may include a retractable, flexible solar panel 61 for charging the laptop and multiple electronic devices.
The backpack module 25 offers versatile portability and attaches to all core modules for consolidation and ease in transit. As shown in FIGS. 12-14, the backpack module 25 preferably includes a front panel 66 and a back panel 62. The back panel is preferably padded for user's convenience and includes retractable padded shoulder straps 63. As shown in FIG. 14, when the backpack module is disconnected from the core module, the retractable shoulder straps 63 may be unfolded by rotating them in the directions of the arrows 68 to enable the user to wear the backpack module.
Rim 69 for engagement with the docking frame 19 of the core module is located on the back panel 62. Similarly, to the laptop case module, a portion of the back panel 62 defined by the rim 69 preferably protrudes from the surface of the back panel 62 so as to be snugly accommodated within the docking cavity of the core module. An internal compartment (not shown) enclosed by the zipper 71 is provided to accommodate personal belongings of the wearer. Vertical and horizontal carrying handles 67 may be provided for alternative portability options. As shown in FIGS. 12-14, the backpack module 25 features quick-access padded zipped pockets 72 for electronics and an integrated portable electronics wiring (not shown) and controls 64. A wearer using a portable electronic device would plug the device into an internal outlet and would be able to control the device using the integrated controls 64.
The wheeled duffle module 30, shown in FIGS. 14-17, is a core docking module for the backpack module 25 and the laptop case module 15 consolidated for mobility, as shown in FIGS. 16 and 17. The docking cavity 75 is preferably located at the top panel 74 and is surrounded by the docking frame 73 having a locking mechanism operated by the docking release button 83. A zipped internal compartment 76 is provided to accommodate user's belongings. Further, a plurality of internal compartments 77 having external accesses are preferably provided in the duffel module. To enable multiple portability choices, duffel module 30 includes top carrying handles 82, detachable shoulder strap 81, retractable handle 78 and wheels 79.
The briefcase module 40 pairs with either the laptop case module 15 (as shown in FIG. 19), a backpack module or a laptop sleeve module (as shown in FIGS. 20 and 21), which detach for in-flight/in-transit use. Briefcase module 40 preferably includes a plurality of internal storage compartments 84 provided, for example, to accommodate a power adapter, a laptop, cables, accessories, files, garments, etc. One of the storage compartments 84 may be an expandable file storage compartment. The docking frame 86 defining the docking cavity 87 is preferably formed on the front panel 85 of the briefcase module 40. Laptop sleeve module 35 is preferably sized so as to fit inside the briefcase module and includes a docking rim (not shown) so as to be able to dock onto the docking frame 86 on the outside of the briefcase module. Similarly, to the core luggage case and the duffel modules, the briefcase module includes a retractable/extendable handle and wheels.
As shown in FIG. 22, in accordance with the second embodiment of the luggage system 100, a compartmentalized luggage case 110 is provided having an internal air inflation system that enables expansion and contraction for ultimate flexibility and support. As shown in FIG. 24, luggage case 110 includes multiple internal compartments sized to accommodate essential travel accessories, preferably including a toiletry bag compartment 111, a main internal compartment 112, a suit storage compartment 113, a wallet and small documents compartment 114, a laptop compartment 115, a shoe compartment 116, and an additional compartment 117. In the preferred embodiment, every internal compartment 111-117 is provided with an easy external access.
The compartmentalized luggage case 110 includes an inflation system 120 schematically illustrated in FIG. 26. System 120 utilizes an internal bladder 121 that inflates when pumped. Specifically, when a user depresses the pump button 122 located on the retractable handle 123 (shown in FIG. 25) and pumps the handle in the direction of the arrows 124 while continuing to depress the pump button, the handle works as a pump pumping air into the internal bladder 121, thereby expanding the bladder and compressing the clothes 126 inside the case 110. As a result, the user is able to regulate the internal volume of the case 110 and its compartments 111-117. The internal bladder can be inflated for additional structural rigidity and internal padding to protect belongings or deflated when space is tight or the case is full.
Case 110 preferably includes a stainless steel frame and ultra-lightweight, water-resistant fabric. External ribbing or any other structural reinforcement may be provided. A 360° 4-wheeled spinner system 127 is preferably mounted to the bottom of the case 110 for ease of ease of transport. Further, a recessed top 128 that doubles as a mobile work surface (shown in FIG. 27) and an integrated recharge station 129 (shown in FIG. 28) are included in the case 110. The integrated power supply 129 enables travelers to simply pull out and connect the plug 131 from the back of the case. A series of common electrical plugs are preferably stored inside and allow the user to hook up and recharge portable electronics. The recessed top 128 allows travelers to securely position a laptop thereon and work while on the move. This feature offers a waist-high workable surface for a laptop etc.
Although described with respect to the wheeled luggage case 110, the disclosed inflation system 120 may be implemented in a briefcase (FIG. 29), a duffel bag (FIG. 30) or any other known bag variation.
For the convenience of the reader, the above description has focused on a representative sample of all possible embodiments, a sample that teaches the principles of the invention and conveys the best mode contemplated for carrying it out. The description has not attempted to exhaustively enumerate all possible variations. Other undescribed variations or modifications may be possible. For example, where multiple alternative embodiments are described, in many cases it will be possible to combine elements of different embodiments, or to combine elements of the embodiments described here with other modifications or variations that are not expressly described. Many of those undescribed variations, modifications and variations are within the literal scope of the following claims, and others are equivalent.