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Publication numberUS20030151336 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/248,709
Publication date14 Aug 2003
Filing date11 Feb 2003
Priority date12 Feb 2002
Publication number10248709, 248709, US 2003/0151336 A1, US 2003/151336 A1, US 20030151336 A1, US 20030151336A1, US 2003151336 A1, US 2003151336A1, US-A1-20030151336, US-A1-2003151336, US2003/0151336A1, US2003/151336A1, US20030151336 A1, US20030151336A1, US2003151336 A1, US2003151336A1
InventorsPeter Freeman
Original AssigneeFreeman Peter C.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Computer furniture
US 20030151336 A1
Abstract
A computer system is integrated into an item of household furniture so that the computer is readily available for use wherever the furniture is placed, but is concealed within the furniture when it is not in use. The furniture comprises generally conventional cabinetry having the outward appearance of a conventional furniture piece and can be readily incorporated into the interior design of the home. The aesthetics of the room will not be unsatisfactorily impacted by the presence of the computer, thereby facilitating the convenient use of the computer by the occupants of the home. The household furniture can be an entertainment center, a table or upholstered seating.
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Claims(48)
1. A cabinet incorporating the components of a digital computer comprising a CPU, at least one disc storage device, a video display monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, and connecting cables, the cabinet comprising:
a top panel;
a pair of sidewall panels mounted to the top panel and defining an open front structure;
optionally, a rear wall panel joined to the top panel and to the side wall panels at rear portions thereof,
optionally, a shelf mounted horizontally between the side wall panels;
a first drawer slidably mounted between the sidewalls and beneath the top panel for movement between an open position and a closed position; and
wherein the video display monitor is mounted in the first drawer with a bracket that conceals the monitor when the first drawer is in the closed position and exposes the monitor for use when the drawer is in the open position, whereby the cabinet appears to be a conventional household cabinet when the first drawer is in the closed position.
2. The cabinet according to claim 1 wherein the video display monitor is a flat screen monitor.
3. The cabinet according to claim 2 wherein the monitor mounting bracket comprises an articulating arm assembly attached at a first end to the first drawer and having a second end that mounts the video display monitor.
4. The cabinet according to claim 3 wherein the articulating arm assembly is pivotally mounted to the first drawer for rotation about a first axis.
5. The cabinet according to claim 4 wherein the articulating arm assembly comprises at least two arms that are pivotally joined to each other.
6. The cabinet according to claim 4 wherein the video display monitor is mounted to the second end of the articulating arm through a hinge for rotation of the video display monitor about a second axis which is orthogonal to the first axis.
7. The cabinet according to claim 6 and further comprising a second drawer that is moveable between an open position in which the drawer extends outwardly of the cabinet and a closed position in which the drawer is retracted into the cabinet; a shelf mounted directly above the second drawer so that the underside of the shelf is exposed when the second drawer is in the open position and is at least partially concealed when the drawer is in the closed position; and at least one of the components of the digital computer is mounted to the underside of the first shelf for visibility and access when the second drawer is in the open position.
8. The cabinet according to claim 7 wherein the cabinet has an open front beneath the second drawer and further comprising an access panel removably mounted to the side wall panels between front and rear portions thereof to form a recess in the open front of the cabinet; and wherein components of the digital computer are mounted to the cabinet rearwardly of the access panel.
9. The cabinet according to claim 8 and further comprising a chassis mounted to the cabinet rearwardly of the access panel and mounting the components of the digital computer.
10. The cabinet according to claim 9 and further comprising a retainer lock between the access panel and an adjacent cabinet panel to limited access to the computer components rearwardly of the access panel.
11. The cabinet according to claim 10 and further comprising a lock between the chassis and an adjacent cabinet panel to secure the chassis to the cabinet.
12. The cabinet according to claim 8 and further comprising ventilation passages through at least one of the sidewall panels and the rear wall panel of the of cabinet for ventilating the components of the digital computer mounted therebetween.
13. The cabinet according to claim 1 and further comprising a second drawer that is moveable between an open position in which the drawer extends outwardly of the cabinet and a closed position in which the drawer is retracted into the cabinet; a shelf mounted directly above the second drawer so that the underside of the shelf is exposed when the second drawer is in the open position and is at least partially concealed when the drawer is in the closed position; and at least one of the components of the digital computer is mounted to the underside of the first shelf for visibility and access when the second drawer is in the open position.
14. The cabinet according to claim 1 wherein the cabinet has an open front beneath the first drawer and further comprising an access panel removably mounted to the side wall panels between front and rear portions thereof to form a recess in the open front of the cabinet; and wherein components of the digital computer are mounted to the cabinet rearwardly of the access panel.
15. The cabinet according to claim 1 wherein the digital processing unit is concealed in a rear portion of the cabinet beneath the top panel and between the side wall panels and further comprising ventilation passages through at least one of the sidewall panels and the rear wall panel of the of cabinet for ventilating the rear portion of the cabinet in which the digital processing unit is concealed.
16. The cabinet according to claim 1 and further comprising at least one wheel for supporting the cabinet thereon for movement of the cabinet across a supporting floor surface.
17. An audiovisual assembly comprising:
an integral furniture assembly comprising at least one cabinet and at least one shelf, the furniture assembly having a front side and a rear side;
a video monitor mounted to the at least one shelf and visible from the front side of the furniture assembly;
a CPU mounted within the at least one cabinet and operably connected to the video monitor, whereby the video monitor functions as a video screen for the CPU;
a keyboard operably connected to the CPU for controlling operation of the CPU a television receiver mounted in the at least one cabinet and operably connected to the video monitor, whereby the video monitor functions as the video screen for the television receiver;
a television controller operably connected to the television receiver for controlling the operation of the television receiver;
whereby the furniture assembly integrates both television and computer functions in a common location and using a common video monitor.
18. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 17 wherein the television receiver is concealed from view at least from the front side of the furniture assembly.
19. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 17 wherein the CPU is concealed from view at least from the front side of the furniture assembly.
20. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 19 wherein the television receiver is concealed from view at least from the front side of the furniture assembly.
21. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 20 wherein the CPU is connected to the video monitor with cables that are concealed within the furniture assembly.
22. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 21 wherein the television receiver is connected to the video monitor with cables that are concealed within the furniture assembly.
23. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 22 wherein a rear edge of the at least one shelf has at least one channel formed therein for receiving the cables.
24. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 23 wherein the furniture assembly further comprises at least on post between the at least on cabinet and the at least one shelf and at least one of the cables between the video monitor and the CPU or the television receiver are concealed within the at least one post.
25. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 24 wherein the CPU is connected to the keyboard with a wireless connection.
26. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 25 and further comprising a computer mouse that is operably connected to the CPU.
27. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 26 wherein the computer mouse is connected to the CPU with a wireless connection.
28. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 17 wherein the connection between CPU and the video monitor is a wireless connection.
29. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 17 wherein the connection between the television receiver and the video monitor is a wireless connection.
30. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 17 wherein the video monitor is a flat screen plasma monitor.
31. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 17 and further comprising at least one wheel supporting the furniture assembly for movement of the furniture assembly along a support surface.
32. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 17 and further comprising a controller connected between the television receiver and the video monitor and between the CPU and the monitor to selectively control the monitor function.
33. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 17 wherein the CPU is connected to the video monitor with cables that are concealed within the furniture assembly.
34. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 17 wherein the television receiver is connected to the video monitor with cables that are concealed within the furniture assembly.
35. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 17 wherein a rear edge of the at least one shelf has at least one channel formed therein for receiving the cables.
36. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 17 wherein the at least one cabinet comprises a first cabinet that houses components of a digital computer including the CPU and a second cabinet houses electronic audio/visual components.
37. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 36 and further comprising a raceway interconnecting the first cabinet and the second cabinet to enable the passage of cables therebetween.
38. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 17 and further comprising at least one wheel for supporting the entertainment center thereon.
39. An audiovisual assembly according to claim 17 and further comprising a wireless control for controlling the video monitor, the CPU, and the television receiver.
40. Household seating comprising an upholstered seat and backrest and at least one arm rest, the at least one arm rest comprises a storage chamber containing components of a digital computer comprising at least a CPU; a video display monitor attached to the arm rest, and a keyboard operably connected to the CPU; a panel covering and concealing the CPU within the armrest.
41. Household seating according to claim 40 wherein digital computer further comprises a disc storage device that is mounted in the storage chamber and concealed by the panel.
42. Household seating according to claim 41 wherein the arm rest further comprises a second storage chamber that stores a mouse and keyboard when not in use.
43. Household seating according to claim 42 wherein the second storage chamber overlies the CPU storage chamber.
44. Household seating according to claim 43 wherein the armrest further comprises a top panel overlying the second storage chamber and movable between an open position for enabling access to the second storage chamber and the CPU storage chamber, and a closed position for concealing the components of the digital computer.
45. Household seating according to claim 44 and further comprising a support arm assembly pivotally mounted at one end to the arm rest for pivotal movement with respect thereto about a first axis and pivotally mounting at another end the video display monitor for pivotal movement about a second axis.
46. Household seating according to claim 45 wherein the first and second axes are orthogonal to each other.
47. Household seating according to claim 40 wherein the keyboard is connected to the CPU with a wireless connection.
48. Household seating according to claim 40 and further comprising a computer mouse connected to the CPU with a wireless connection.
Description
    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application Serial No. 60/319,111, filed Feb. 12, 2002, which is incorporated herein in its entirety.
  • BACKGROUND OF INVENTION
  • [0002]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0003]
    The invention relates to furniture that includes computer equipment. In one aspect, the invention relates to household furniture with a computer system integrated therein. In another aspect, the invention relates to household furniture with computer components concealed therein at least when the computer is not in use. In another aspect, the invention relates to household furniture having a design appropriate to the domestic environment in which it is used and with a computer system integrated therein, thereby facilitating the household use of the computer.
  • [0004]
    2. Description of the Related Art
  • [0005]
    Computers are increasingly incorporated into many facets of a homeowner's daily activities. No longer are computers merely a business or computational tool, but they are increasingly used as entertainment and communication devices. Many homes have more than one computer. Home computers are used for games, to listen to music, to seek out information and purchase goods and services through the Internet, and to communicate through e-mail. Computers are also used as the “brains” of the home, controlling lighting, heating and air conditioning, and other scheduled activities.
  • [0006]
    While computers are integrated more and more into home life, the structure of the computer has changed relatively little. Desktop computers still generally comprise a central processing unit or CPU, a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, and connecting cables and power cords. Both the CPU and the monitor are typically large devices and it can be difficult to place the computer in an appropriate location, particularly when the computer is not being used. While the CPU can be placed, for example, in a kitchen cabinet or concealed behind an item of furniture, this may be unsatisfactory if the CPU is still visible, exposed to dust or heat, or takes up valuable kitchen space needed for storage of other household items. The monitor is generally too large to be easily stored in the typical cabinet or furniture piece. Furthermore, removing the monitor from its location when the computer is to be used and replacing the monitor after use can be burdensome and increases the potential for damage to the monitor. Thus, monitors typically occupy a desk, table, or countertop, remaining visible even when not used.
  • [0007]
    Recent advances in computer technology have given rise to smaller CPUs, thinner, more lightweight monitors, and external control devices utilizing wireless technology thereby eliminating storage and use limitations associated with cable connections. However, despite such improvements, home computers are still frequently left in the open when not in use, or placed in kitchen cabinets, behind furniture, or in other devices not designed for computer storage and use. Thus, there is the need for a computer containment unit that is designed to facilitate the use of the computer, yet blend in with the interior design of the home.
  • SUMMARY OF INVENTION
  • [0008]
    According to the invention, a cabinet incorporates the components of a digital computer comprising a CPU, at least one disc storage device, a video display monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, and connecting cables. The cabinet comprises a top panel, a pair of sidewall panels mounted to the top panel and defining an open front structure, optionally, a rear wall panel joined to the top panel and to the side wall panels at rear portions thereof and optionally, a shelf mounted horizontally between the side wall panels. A first drawer is slidably mounted between the sidewalls and beneath the top panel for movement between an open position and a closed position and the video display monitor is mounted in the first drawer with a bracket that conceals the monitor when the first drawer is in the closed position and exposes the monitor for use when the drawer is in the open position. The cabinet appears to be a conventional household cabinet when the first drawer is in the closed position.
  • [0009]
    In one embodiment, the video display monitor is a flat screen monitor. Preferably, the monitor mounting bracket comprises an articulating arm assembly attached at a first end to the first drawer and mounting at a second end the video display monitor. The articulating arm assembly is pivotally mounted to the first drawer for rotation about a first axis and the articulating arm assembly comprises at least two arms that are pivotally joined to each other. In a preferred embodiment, the video display monitor is mounted to the second end of the articulating arm through a hinge for rotation of the video display monitor about a second axis that is orthogonal to the first axis.
  • [0010]
    In a preferred embodiment, the cabinet comprises a second drawer that is moveable between an open position in which the second drawer extends outwardly of the cabinet and a closed position in which-the drawer is retracted into the cabinet. A shelf is mounted directly above the second drawer so that the underside of the shelf is exposed when the second drawer is in the open position and is at least partially concealed when the drawer is in the closed position. At least one of the components of the digital computer is mounted to the underside of the first shelf for visibility and access when the second drawer is in the open position.
  • [0011]
    In another preferred embodiment, the cabinet has an open front beneath the second drawer and has an access panel removably mounted between front and rear portions of the side wall panels to form a recess in the open front of the cabinet. Components of the digital computer are mounted to the cabinet rearwardly of the access panel. Preferably, a chassis mounted is to the cabinet rearwardly of the access panel and mounts the components of the digital computer. A retainer lock can be mounted between the access panel and an adjacent cabinet panel to limit access to the computer components rearwardly of the access panel. Alternatively, or in addition to the access panel lock, a lock can be provided between the chassis and an adjacent cabinet panel to secure the chassis to the cabinet.
  • [0012]
    In one embodiment, ventilation passages through at least one of the sidewall panels and the rear wall panel of the cabinet for ventilating the components of the digital computer mounted therebetween.
  • [0013]
    In a preferred embodiment, at least one wheel supports the cabinet thereon for movement of the cabinet across a supporting floor surface.
  • [0014]
    Further according to the invention, an audiovisual assembly comprising an integral furniture assembly with at least one cabinet and at least one shelf, the furniture assembly having a front side and a rear side. A video monitor is mounted to the at least one shelf and visible from the front side of the furniture assembly. A CPU is mounted within the at least one cabinet and is operably connected to the video monitor, whereby the video monitor functions as a video screen for the CPU. Further, a keyboard is operably connected to the CPU for controlling operation of the CPU. A television receiver mounted in the at least one cabinet and operably connected to the video monitor, whereby the video monitor functions as the video screen for the television receiver. A television controller is operably connected to the television receiver for controlling the operation of the television receiver. The furniture assembly thus integrates both television and computer functions in a common location and using a common video monitor.
  • [0015]
    Preferably, the television receiver is concealed from view at least from the front side of the furniture assembly. Further, the CPU is preferably concealed from view at least from the front side of the furniture assembly. Further, the CPU and the television receiver are connected to the video monitor with cables that are concealed within the furniture assembly. To this end, a rear edge of the at least one shelf has at least one channel formed therein for receiving the cables. Further, at least on support post extends between the at least one cabinet and the at least one shelf, and at least one of the cables between the video monitor and the CPU or the television receiver are concealed within the at least one post.
  • [0016]
    Preferably, the CPU is connected to the keyboard with a wireless connection. Further, a computer mouse is operably connected to the CPU, preferably with a wireless connection.
  • [0017]
    Although hard wire connections are contemplated, the connection between the television receiver and the video monitor can be a wireless connection. Likewise, the connection between the CPU and the video monitor can be a wireless connection. In a preferred embodiment, the video monitor is a flat screen plasma monitor.
  • [0018]
    In a preferred embodiment, at least one wheel supports the furniture assembly for movement of the furniture assembly along a support surface.
  • [0019]
    Typically, a controller is connected between the television receiver and the video monitor and between the CPU and the monitor to selectively control the monitor function. Further, a wireless control is provided for controlling the video monitor, the CPU, and the television receiver.
  • [0020]
    In any case, it is preferable that the CPU is connected to the video monitor with cables that are concealed within the furniture assembly and that the television receiver is connected to the video monitor with cables that are concealed within the furniture assembly.
  • [0021]
    Further according to the invention, computer equipment is concealed within household seating, such as a couch or chair. The household seating comprises an upholstered seat and backrest and at least one arm rest. The at least one arm rest has a storage chamber containing components of a digital computer comprising at least a CPU. A video display monitor is attached to the arm rest, and a keyboard is operably connected to the CPU. A panel covers and conceals the CPU within the armrest.
  • [0022]
    Preferably, the digital computer further comprises a disc storage device that is also mounted in the storage chamber and concealed by the panel.
  • [0023]
    In one embodiment, the arm rest further comprises a second storage chamber that stores a mouse and keyboard when not in use. The second storage chamber overlies the CPU storage chamber. The armrest further comprises a top panel overlying the second storage chamber and is movable between an open position for enabling access to the second storage chamber and the CPU storage chamber, and a closed position for concealing the components of the digital computer.
  • [0024]
    In one embodiment, a support arm assembly is pivotally mounted at one end to the arm rest for pivotal movement with respect thereto about a first axis and is pivotally mounted at another end the video display monitor for pivotal movement about a second axis. The first and second axes are preferably orthogonal to each other.
  • [0025]
    In a preferred embodiment, the keyboard is connected to the CPU with a wireless connection. In addition, a computer mouse connected to the CPU with a wireless connection.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • [0026]
    In the drawings:
  • [0027]
    [0027]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a pedestal and shelf assembly illustrating a first embodiment of the invention.
  • [0028]
    [0028]FIG. 1A is a cross-sectional view taken along line 1A-1A of FIG. 1.
  • [0029]
    [0029]FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of the pedestal and shelf assembly shown in FIG. 1.
  • [0030]
    [0030]FIG. 3 is a side view of a shelf comprising the shelf assembly shown in FIG. 1 FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 2.
  • [0031]
    [0031]FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 4.
  • [0032]
    [0032]FIG. 6 is a first perspective view of an end table illustrating a second embodiment of the invention.
  • [0033]
    [0033]FIG. 6A is a detailed view of a portion of the end table assembly of FIG. 6.
  • [0034]
    [0034]FIG. 7 is a second perspective view of the end table of FIG. 6.
  • [0035]
    [0035]FIG. 8 is a front elevational view of the interior of the end table of FIG. 6.
  • [0036]
    [0036]FIG. 8A is a detailed view of a portion of the end table assembly of FIG. 8.
  • [0037]
    [0037]FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a portion of a sofa having an arm rest illustrating a third embodiment of the invention.
  • [0038]
    [0038]FIG. 10 is a top plan view of the arm rest of FIG. 9.
  • [0039]
    [0039]FIG. 11 is a top plan view of the interior of the arm rest of FIG. 9.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0040]
    The invention is described herein with respect to three embodiments in which a computer is integrated into an item of furniture of a generally conventional design, thus facilitating the use of the computer and enabling its concealment when not in use. The three embodiments comprise an entertainment center, an end table, and a sofa.
  • [0041]
    A first embodiment of the invention, an entertainment center is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, and designated generally by the number 10. The entertainment center 10 comprises a pedestal assembly 12 supporting a shelf assembly 14. The design and construction of the pedestal assembly 12 and the shelf assembly 14 generally comprises conventional cabinetry and shelving assembly techniques well known to those of ordinary skill in the art, except as hereinafter specifically described.
  • [0042]
    The pedestal assembly 12 comprises a first pedestal 16 and a second pedestal 18. Each pedestal 16, 18 comprises a boxlike structure having a top wall 20 and a bottom wall 24 in parallel spaced-apart relationship, a front wall 22 and a rear wall 28 in parallel spaced-apart relationship, and a pair of side walls 26 in parallel spaced-apart relationship. The pedestals 16, 18 are preferably fabricated of hardwood such as cherry, oak, maple or walnut, utilizing cabinetry techniques well-known to a person of ordinary skill in the furniture field. The walls 20, 22, 24, 28 define an interior space 25 of suitable dimensions for mounting and concealing an audio amplifier, a computer CPU, a television receiver, or other electronic components. The components are preferably installed in a chassis which is mounted in the pedestals 16, 18 and which can be removed for servicing of the components. In effect, the pedestal 16, 18 takes the place of the metal cabinet in which the component is typically enclosed. Preferably, the rear wall 28 is removable to provide access to the interior space 25 and the electronic components contained therein. The rear wall 28 can also be provided with ventilation cutouts (not shown) for the dissipation of heat generated by electronic components enclosed in the pedestals 16, 18, or eliminated in its entirety. The pedestals 16, 18 are placed in spaced-apart relationship and connected by a power/data raceway 30 and support bars 29.
  • [0043]
    Referring also to FIG. 1A, the power/data raceway 30 is a hollow, boxlike assembly, having four walls and open ends, of a generally square or rectangular cross section, preferably fabricated of the same material as the pedestals 16, 18. The power/data raceway 30 extends from the pedestal 16 to the pedestal 18 and is attached using conventional wood joinery techniques to a side wall 26 of the pedestal 16 and an adjoining side wall 26 of the pedestal 18 to define a passageway therebetween. The power/data raceway 30 encloses a pair of internal conduits 31 similarly extending between the pedestals 16, 18. The internal conduits 31 are elongated, hollow, tubelike members of generally square or rectangular cross section, preferably comprising conventional aluminum or steel tubing. The portion of each wall 26 to which the power/data raceway 30 is attached is provided with an aperture therethrough (not shown) in axial alignment with the internal conduits 31. Each internal conduit 31 and corresponding apertures define a passageway between the interior space 25 of each pedestal 16, 18. The passageways are adapted for running conventional connecting cables 50 between the electronic devices contained within the pedestals 16, 18. Preferably, one of the internal conduits 31 is used for data transmission and the other is used for power transmission. The metallic internal conduits 31 shield the cables 50 from unwanted electrical interference so that they can be located in close proximity to one another.
  • [0044]
    The support bars 29 are either hollow or solid, elongated members having a generally square or rectangular cross section comprising a material of suitable strength and rigidity connecting the pedestals 16, 18 to each other to provide a rigid pedestal assembly 12. In the preferred embodiment, the support bars 29 are hollow rectangular tubes of black anodized aluminum. The support bars 29 are rigidly attached to the pedestals 16, 18, preferably at each corner, using conventional brackets and fasteners (not shown). Preferably, each support bar 29 extends into the interior space of each pedestal 16, 18 where it is rigidly attached to the inside surface of the applicable wall 20, 22, 24, 28. When assembled, the pedestals 16, 18, the power/data raceway 30 with enclosed internal conduits 31, and the support bars 29 form a rigid, unitary structure of suitable strength to support the shelf assembly 14 and items placed thereon.
  • [0045]
    As shown in FIGS. 3-5, the shelf assembly 14 comprises an assemblage of generally conventional shelves 32 and support posts or standards 34. The shelves 32 are preferably fabricated of the same material as the pedestals 16, 18 and of suitable length and depth, having a top surface 49, a bottom surface 51, a front edge 36, and a rear edge 38. Referring to FIG. 3, the rear edge 38 of each shelf 32 is provided with a longitudinal channel 40 to accommodate cables used to connect the various components of the entertainment center 10, as hereinafter described. In order to accommodate the channel 40, the rear edge 38 is thicker than the front edge 36, with the shelf 32 uniformly tapered from the front edge 36 to the rear edge 38. Each shelf 32 is preferably mounted so that the top surface 49 is horizontal, with the bottom surface 51 sloping in a generally downward direction from front to back.
  • [0046]
    The posts 34 comprise conventional vertical shelving supports of a suitable length having a generally C-shaped cross section to define an open channelway 42 for running connecting cables vertically therethrough. The posts 34 are rigidly attached to the pedestals 16, 18 through conventional brackets or anchoring devices 35, preferably of an ornamental design consistent with the design of the shelving assembly 14. Horizontal crosspieces 37 comprise rigid, elongated members of square or rectangular cross section for supporting the shelves 32. The crosspieces 37 are rigidly attached to the posts 34 using conventional fasteners, such as screws or bolts, so that the crosspieces 37 are orthogonal to the longitudinal axis of the shelves 32.
  • [0047]
    As shown in FIG. 1, the shelves 32 are provided with square or rectangular apertures 33 corresponding to the cross-sectional shape of the posts 34 for slidably receiving the posts 34 therethrough. The apertures 33 are placed inwardly of the ends of the shelves 32 so that the shelves 32 will extend around each post 34 when placed into position. The shelves 32 are also provided with mating recesses 41 in the bottom surface 51 thereof to receive the crosspieces 37 when the shelf 32 is in its supported position in order to conceal the crosspieces 37 when the shelf 32 is viewed from the front.
  • [0048]
    In the preferred embodiment, the shelves 32 are secured to the crosspieces 37 by a threaded fastener 43, such as a screw, which is inserted into an aperture extending through the shelf 32 from the channel 40 to the recess 41 into the end of the crosspiece 37. In the preferred embodiment, the posts 34 and the crosspieces 37 are fabricated of black anodized aluminum. The top wall 20 of each pedestal 16, 18 is provided with suitable apertures (not shown) at each post connection to enable a cable to be run from the interior of the pedestals 16, 18 to the cable channelway 42.
  • [0049]
    The pedestals 16, 18 can be provided with conventional wheels or casters 39 to enable the entertainment center 10 to be readily moved. The pedestals 16, 18 are also provided with conventional mounting brackets and supports (not shown) for mounting electronic equipment therein, such as an audio amplifier 52 and a computer CPU 54. In FIG. 2, the amplifier 52 is shown mounted in the pedestal 16, and the computer CPU 54 is shown mounted in the pedestal 18. Power and data cables 50 connect the amplifier 52 and the computer CPU 54 through the power/data raceway 30. Speakers (not shown) can be operably connected to the amplifier 52 in a conventional manner.
  • [0050]
    One of the shelves 32 suspends a disk drive 44, such as a conventional CD or DVD-type disk drive, and a “breakout box” 46 from its lower surface. The breakout box 46 comprises a digital audio control center, such as the Audigy Platinum EX manufactured by Creative Technology, Ltd., which serves as the control module for the entertainment center 10. The breakout box 46 interconnects analog or digital devices such as the amplifier 52, a monitor (identified by the numeral 48), a stereo receiver, a television receiver 53, a MIDI device, camcorders, and external hard drives and high-speed CDs, and the selection of functions such as television programming, computing, Internet access, or recorded music.
  • [0051]
    As shown in FIG. 5, the shelf 32 from which the disk drive 44 and breakout box 46 are suspended is provided with a recess 45 for mounting the disk drive 44 and breakout box 46 in a horizontal position to accommodate the previously-described taper of the shelf 32. The upper surface 47 of the recess which is in contact with the top of the disk drive 44 or breakout box 46 is generally parallel to the top 49 of the shelf 32. Beginning at a line 56 corresponding to the rear edge of the disk drive 44 or breakout box 46, the recess 45 continues in a generally upwardly inclined direction to intersect the top edge of the channel 40.
  • [0052]
    The cable 50 from the computer CPU 54 extends from the pedestals 16, 18, upward through the channelway 42 in one of the posts 34 to the shelf 32 from which the disk drive 44 and breakout box 46 are suspended. The cable 50 is then run along the upper surface 47 of the recess 45 and suspended therefrom through suitable brackets (not shown) to operably interconnect with the breakout box 46. The channelway 40 and recess 45 enable the cable 50 to be run from the CPU 54 to the breakout box 46 while remaining concealed from view. A cable 50 also operably connects the breakout box 46 and the disk drive 44 via the recess 45. A monitor 48 is connected to the breakout box 46 in a similar fashion by running a cable 50 down the channelway 42, and along the channel 40 in the shelf 32 on which the monitor 48 sits. As illustrated, the monitor is a flat screen monitor, preferably a plasma screen monitor. A wireless keyboard 55 and a mouse 57 are used for computer-based activities such as playing computer games, accessing the Internet, or performing conventional computer tasks such as word processing. Alternatively, the mouse and keyboard can be provided as a single, integrated device. Preferably, the keyboard 55 and the mouse 57 utilize radio frequency wireless technology.
  • [0053]
    In the preferred embodiment, cables are threaded through the power/data raceway 30, through the shelves and posts. However, it is within the scope of the invention to use wireless connections between the CPU 54, the television receiver 53, and the other audio components the breakout box 46, and between the breakout box 46 and the monitor 48.
  • [0054]
    The breakout box 46 can be controlled through a wireless control unit 58 and is used to select a desired function, such as listening to recorded music, watching television programming on the monitor 48, or using the computer to access the Internet or perform conventional computer-based tasks, such as word processing. The particular electronic component necessary to perform the selected function, e.g. watching television, listening to music, or playing computer games, is readily actuated by the breakout box 46. The interconnection of the various components enables the user to readily select between several entertainment options. The concealment of the electronic components in the pedestals 16, 18, and the cables 50 in the shelves 32 and posts 34, contributes to an “uncluttered ” appearance of the computer-driven entertainment center which is unlike a conventional computer-based system. Further, the CPU and the television receiver share a common monitor.
  • [0055]
    A second embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 6-8. This embodiment comprises an end table 60 of generally conventional design having a top drawer 72, a middle drawer 74, and a compartment 106 as hereinafter described. The end table 60 comprises a cabinet 62 constructed using conventional cabinetry techniques well-known to those of ordinary skill in the art, and having a top 64, side walls 66 in parallel, spaced-apart relationship, a rear wall 68, and a floor 70. Beneath the middle drawer 74 is a vertically-extending access door 76 as hereinafter described. In the preferred embodiment the cabinet is mounted on legs 78.
  • [0056]
    In the preferred embodiment, the side walls 66 and rear wall 68 have vertical slots 80 therethrough extending the full height of the walls 66, 68. An opaque curtain 82 is mounted to the interior of the walls 66, 68 to cover the slots 80. The material comprising the curtain 82 is suitable for the movement of air therethrough while concealing the interior of the cabinet 62. The slots 80 and curtain 82 provide ventilation of the interior of the cabinet 62 from heat generated by computer components mounted therein.
  • [0057]
    The top drawer 72 comprises a front wall 84 and a bottom wall 86 connected to the front wall 84 orthogonal thereto using conventional joinery. An upper support panel 90 is a planar member extending between the side walls 66 and attached thereto, and from the front of the cabinet 62 toward the rear, terminating short of the rear wall 68. The support panel 90 provides support to the top drawer 72. Conventional drawer slides 88 are attached to the top surface of the support panel 90 extending orthogonal to the front of the cabinet 62 and to the undersurface of the bottom wall 86 so that the drawer 72 will slide into and out of the cabinet 62 through the action of the slides 88. The support panel 90 is positioned within the cabinet 62 to place the top drawer 72 in the proper position in the upper portion of the cabinet 62.
  • [0058]
    The middle drawer 74 is a generally conventional drawer comprising a front wall 92, side walls 94 in parallel spaced-apart relationship, a rear wall 96 in parallel spaced-apart relationship with the front wall 92, and a bottom wall 98. The front wall 92, side walls 94, rear wall 96, and bottom wall 98 are assembled into the middle drawer 74 using conventional joinery. The rear wall 96 is provided with cable slots 100 through which cables extend interconnecting components in the drawer 74, such as a keyboard 114 or a mouse 116, to a computer CPU or other components located within the cabinet 62. Alternatively, a wireless keyboard or mouse can be used, obviating the cables and the cable slots 100.
  • [0059]
    Conventional drawer slides 102 are mounted to the cabinet side walls 66 and the drawer side walls 94 to enable the middle drawer 74 to slide into and out of the cabinet. The drawer slides 102 are positioned on the side walls 66 so that the middle drawer 74 is placed in the proper position in the cabinet 62 immediately below the top drawer 72.
  • [0060]
    As shown in FIG. 8, beneath the middle drawer 74 is a middle support panel 104 which is mounted to the side walls 66 immediately below the drawer slides 102. The support panel 104 extends in a generally horizontal fashion from just inside the front of the cabinet 62 toward the rear of the cabinet 62, terminating short of the rear wall 68.
  • [0061]
    The access door 76 is mounted to the floor 70 through hinges 77 so that the door 76 can pivot between a vertical position and a horizontal position. The door 76 joins the support panel 104 orthogonal thereto when the door 76 is moved to the vertical position. The door 76 and the support panel 104 are provided with a conventional latch assembly 118 to retain the door 76 in the vertical position by latching the door 76 to the support panel. In the preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 8A, the latch assembly 118 comprising a spring-loaded plunger 120 is mounted to the interior of the door 76 adjacent its upper edge so that the plunger 120 extends somewhat above the door 76 upper edge. The plunger 120 is received within a shallow, mating receptacle (not shown) in the middle support panel 104 when the door 76 is in the vertical, closed position. As the door 76 is moved to the vertical, closed position, the plunger 120 will contact the middle support panel 104 and be urged to a retracted position until the plunger 120 engages the receptacle. The plunger 120 will be urged into the receptacle by the action of the spring, thus retaining the door 76 in the vertical position. The door 76 is opened by pulling the door 76 outward, causing the plunger 120 to be urged downward as it moves from the receptacle to contact with the middle support panel 104. Other suitable latch assemblies can be employed. A conventional door pull can be attached at the upper edge of the access door 76 to facilitate opening and closing of the door 76.
  • [0062]
    The access door 76, support panel 104, side walls 66, rear wall 68, floor 70, and top 64 define a compartment 106 for mounting of a computer CPU 126 therein and for connecting the CPU 126 and selected components, such as a monitor, with cables. The floor 70 extends just short of the rear wall 68, thereby defining an access slot 108 for passage of various cords and cables, such as a power cord 136, network cables 138, Internet cables, or other conduits outside the cabinet 62 for connecting the CPU 126 to external devices or information sources.
  • [0063]
    Referring to FIGS. 6 and 6A, the top drawer 72 is provided with an articulating arm 112 comprising a first link 113 and a second link 115. The first link 113 is rigidly connected at a first end 132 to a support post 180 that is in turn pivotally mounted through a pivotal connection 182 to the bottom wall 86 for pivotal movement of the arm 112 about a vertical axis. The pivotal connection 182 is shown mounted to the top surface of the bottom wall 86, although the pivotal connection 182 can be mounted to the underside of the bottom wall 86 with the post 180 passing through an aperture (not shown) in the bottom wall 86. A second end of the first link 113 is pivotally connected to a first end of the second link 115 through a pivotal connection 117 for pivotal movement of the first link 113 relative to the second link 115. A second end 134 of the second link 115 has a hinge assembly 119 comprising a fold-down hinge 121 to which is mounted a flat-screen display 110. The fold-down hinge 121 is rigidly attached to the rear of the flat-screen display 110 through conventional fasteners, such as threaded screws or bolts. Alternatively, the fold-down hinge 121 can be pivotally mounted to the second end 134 of the second link 115 for pivotal movement of the hinge 121 about a vertical axis. The fold-down hinge 121 moves the flat-screen display 110 from a vertical position, forward and downward to a flat position inside the drawer 72 for closure of the drawer 72, thereby concealing the display 110 when the display 110 is not in use. The length of the support post 180 is selected based upon the clearance required to close the drawer 72 with the flat screen display 110 in the folded-down position. The articulating arm 112 selectively positions the display 110 outwardly of the drawer 72 for convenience in viewing the display 110 when the computer system is used. The middle drawer 74 can be used to store a keyboard 114, a mouse 116, or other electronic control device when these devices are not in use.
  • [0064]
    The computer comprises the computer CPU 126 mounted in a generally conventional chassis, a conventional power control unit 122, and a conventional disk drive 124. The power control unit 122 and the disk drive 124 are mounted to the underside of the upper support panel 90, and are concealed when the middle drawer 74 is closed. As shown in FIG. 7, access to these devices is gained when the middle drawer 74 is opened. The CPU 126 is mounted to mounting blocks 128 and secured to the front of the mounting blocks 128 with a retainer lock or retaining screw 130. The chassis supports a conventional computer motherboard, and various conventional devices such as a power supply, hard disk drive, sound cards, modems, and game cards, comprising the computer CPU 126. The CPU 126 can be removed for servicing by removing the retainer lock/retaining screw 130 and pulling the chassis forward and out of the cabinet 62.
  • [0065]
    The end table 60 has a generally conventional design consonant with the interior design of the household in which it is located and used. The end table 60 can be placed in a living room, study, bedroom, or other room to enable the ready use of a computer system in such room. When the computer system is not used and is concealed in the end table 60, the end table 60 appears to be a conventional end table, blending into the overall design of the room.
  • [0066]
    A third embodiment of the invention is shown in FIGS. 9-11. This embodiment comprises a seat, such as a sofa 140, having an arm rest 142 concealing a compartment in which is concealed a computer. In the preferred embodiment, the computer is controlled by a wireless keyboard 184.
  • [0067]
    The arm rest 142 is provided with a vertically pivotal cushion top 144 and a conventional flat screen monitor 148. The monitor 148 is attached to a support arm assembly comprising an arm 150 which is rigidly attached to a post 152 for pivotal movement about a vertical axis to enable the monitor to be selectively oriented for viewing from various angles. The monitor can be attached to the arm 150 through a conventional hinge assembly (not shown) for pivotal movement about a horizontal axis. The post 152 is, in turn, pivotally mounted in a conventional way to a bracket 178 located in the interior of the arm rest 142. The post 152 extends into the interior of the arm rest 142 through an aperture 170 passing through a first panel 172.
  • [0068]
    The cushion top 144 is attached in a conventional way to the arm rest 142 through hinges 154 and a lid support 156. The cushion top 144 can be pivoted from a horizontal position to a vertical position for accessing an underlying panel 146 and the interior compartment of the arm rest 142. The cushion top 144 is held in the vertical position by the lid support 156. Concealed by the cushion top 144 is the panel 146.
  • [0069]
    As shown in FIG. 10, the panel 146 is provided with receptacles 158 for storage of a mouse 186, a remote control unit 159, or other small devices appurtenant to the computer system. The panel 146 is also adapted to mount devices such as a power control unit 160, a disk drive 162, and a wireless transceiver 164 so that the faces of the devices 160, 162, 164 are generally flush with and accessible from the exposed face of the panel 146. The devices 160, 162, 164 are preferably mounted to the back of the panel through conventional bracket assemblies so that the devices 160, 162, 164 are suspended therefrom. The panel 146 is also provided with a slot 174 to accommodate the lid support 156.
  • [0070]
    The panel 146 is removably supported on a ledge 176 formed in the walls of the arm rest 142, and can be readily removed by lifting the panel 146 from the arm rest 142, thereby revealing a compartment 166 in the arm rest 142. Alternatively, the panel can rest upon brackets or cleats attached to the walls of the arm rest 142. The compartment 166 is used for concealment of a computer CPU 168. The CPU 168 is operationally interconnected with the monitor 148, the power control unit 160, the disk drive 162, the wireless transceiver 164, and related devices through the use of conventional cables (not shown).
  • [0071]
    The sofa 140 provides a convenient enclosure for a computer system that remains concealed, except for the monitor 148, when the computer is not in use. The computer system is available to the user in a convenient and comfortable environment, thereby facilitating the use of the computer, even while the user is engaged in other activities, such as watching television and conversing with others.
  • [0072]
    Each of the three embodiments of the useful invention mounts a computer system in a conventional piece of furniture for use by occupants of a living space who may be engaged in other activities or occupying rooms normally devoted to non-computer activities. The computer system is integrated with furniture such as an entertainment center, end table, or sofa so that the computer is readily available to be integrated into a variety of routine household activities. The unique design and construction of the computer furniture conceals the computer when it is not used, and the furniture can be used in a conventional manner.
  • [0073]
    While particular embodiments of the invention have been shown, it will be understood that the invention is not limited thereto. Reasonable variation and modification are possible within the scope of the foregoing disclosure and drawings, particularly in light of the foregoing teachings, without departing from the spirit of the invention which is defined in the appended claims.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification312/310, 312/223.3
International ClassificationF16M11/04, A47B81/06, A47B88/00, A47B83/00, A47B21/03
Cooperative ClassificationA47B88/00, A47B2200/0069, A47B83/001, A47B81/061, A47B2021/0342, A47B2021/0335, F16M13/02, F16M13/00, F16M11/10, A47B21/03, F16M11/2014
European ClassificationF16M11/20A1, F16M11/10, F16M13/00, F16M13/02, A47B81/06A, F16M11/04, A47B83/00B, A47B21/03, A47B88/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
11 Feb 2003ASAssignment
Owner name: HOME NETWORK DESIGNS, INC., MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:FREEMAN, PETER C.;REEL/FRAME:013420/0518
Effective date: 20030211