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FOOTWEAR

Imported: 10 Mar '17 | Published: 27 Nov '08

Juliu Horvath

USPTO - Utility Patents

Abstract

A sole assembly for footwear supporting a foot over a ground surface. The sole assembly includes a sole made of insulating material. The sole has a top surface configured to support the foot, and a bottom surface opposite the top surface configured to contact the ground surface. At least one contact extends between the top and bottom surfaces and is generally surrounded by the sole. The at least one contact has a conducting material that is configured to allow a flow of electrical current between the foot adjacent the top surface and the ground surface adjacent the bottom surface.

Description

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to footwear, such as sandals, shoes, boots, etc. More specifically, the present invention relates to the construction of a sole assembly of the footwear.

SUMMARY

In one embodiment, the invention provides a sole assembly for footwear supporting a foot over a ground surface. The sole assembly includes a sole made of insulating material. The sole has a top surface configured to support the foot, and a bottom surface opposite the top surface configured to contact the ground surface. At least one contact extends between the top and bottom surfaces and is generally surrounded by the sole. The at least one contact has a conducting material that is configured to allow a flow of electrical current between the foot adjacent the top surface and the ground surface adjacent the bottom surface.

In another embodiment, the invention provides a footwear assembly for supporting a foot over a ground surface. The footwear assembly includes a sole made of insulating material. The sole has a top surface configured to support the foot and a bottom surface opposite the top surface that is configured to contact the ground surface. At least one contact extends between the top and bottom surfaces and is generally surrounded by the sole. The at least one contact has conducting material configured to allow flow of electrical current between the foot adjacent the top surface and the ground surface adjacent the bottom surface.

In another embodiment the invention provides a method of transferring electrical energy through a sole assembly of footwear. The method includes providing at least one contact in a sole of the sole assembly, such that the contact extends completely through the sole between top and bottom surfaces of the sole. The method further includes placing the sole on a ground surface, inserting a foot into the footwear, and supporting a foot with the sole. The method further includes positioning at least a portion of the foot adjacent the contact, resisting electrical energy through the sole, and communicating electrical energy through the contact between the ground and the foot.

Other aspects of the invention will become apparent by consideration of the detailed description and accompanying drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Before any embodiments of the invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the following drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of including, comprising, or having and variations thereof herein is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items. Unless specified or limited otherwise, the terms mounted, connected, supported, and coupled and variations thereof are used broadly and encompass both direct and indirect mountings, connections, supports, and couplings. Further, connected and coupled are not restricted to physical or mechanical connections or couplings.

FIG. 1 shows a foot 10 positioned in a sandal 12 that has a sole 14 and a plurality of straps 16a-16c that secure the foot 10 against the sole 14. Although a sandal 12 is illustrated, other footwear can also be used in other embodiments such as a shoe, boot, slipper, flip-flop, etc. The sole 14 has a top surface 18 that is shaped to support the foot 10 and a bottom surface 20 opposite the top surface 18 and configured to contact a ground surface. The illustrated sole 14 comprises a polymer or other similar resilient material. In other embodiments, other materials, such as wood, cork, or other such materials can comprise the sole 14, in addition to or in lieu or a polymer.

The illustrated embodiment includes two top straps 16a, 16b extending across the width of the foot 10 that connect to heel strap 16c. The heel strap 16c is coupled to the sole 14 at the top surface 18 and extends around the back of a heel 22 of the foot 10. Other quantities and locations of straps 16 are possible on the sandal 12, and are considered to be within the scope of the present invention.

Two portions of the sole 14 are cutaway to reveal heel and toe contacts 26, 28, that extend between the top and bottom surfaces 18, 20. The contacts 26, 28 include contact top surfaces 30, 32, that are generally coplanar with the top surface 18 of the sole 14 and contact bottom surfaces 34, 36, that are generally coplanar with the bottom surface 20 of the sole 14. The heel contact 26 illustrated in FIG. 1 is positioned adjacent to the heel 22. The heel contact top surface 30 is configured to abut against the heel 22, and the heel contact bottom surface 34 is configured to contact a ground surface. The toe contact 28 illustrated in FIG. 1 is positioned adjacent to one toe 24 of the foot 10. The toe contact top surface 32 is configured to abut against the toe 24, and the toe contact bottom surface 36 is configured to contact the ground surface.

FIG. 2 illustrates the sole top surface 18 including the heel contact 26 for contacting the heel 22 and five toe contacts 28a-28e for contacting respective toes 24 of the foot 10 of the wearer. The toe contacts 28a, 28b, 28c, 28d, 28e are similar to each other, but the illustrated contact 28a is the largest toe contact 28 and is configured to engage the largest toe of the foot 10, whereas the contact 28e is the smallest toe contact 28 and is configured to engage the smallest toe of the foot 10. The illustrated toe contacts become smaller moving from 28a to 28e. Other configurations are possible, such as making the toe contacts 28 to all be essentially the same size. In another embodiment, the toe contacts 28c, 28d, and 28e are substantially the same size, but toe contact 28b is larger than 28c, 28d, 28e and toe contact 28a is larger than 28b, 28c, 28d, and 28e. In yet another embodiment, toe contacts 28b, 28c, 28d and 28e are substantially the same size whereas toe contact 28a is larger in size.

An arch contact 38 is configured to engage an arch 40 of the foot 10 of the wearer. The arch contact 38 illustrated in FIG. 2 has a top surface 42 with a larger diameter than the top surfaces 30, 32 of the other contacts 26, 28a-28e. In the illustrated embodiment, the arch contact 38 is positioned adjacent the top surface 18 and does not extend through the sole 14 to the bottom surface 20. In other, non-illustrated embodiments, the arch contact 38 is configured similarly to the other contacts 26, 28a-28e and extends through the sole 14 to the bottom surface 20 to engage the ground surface.

The sandal 12 further includes a first set of lengths of electrically conductive material 44 positioned between the heel contact 26 and the arch contact 38, and a second set of lengths of electrically conductive material 46 between the toe contacts 28a-28e and the arch contact 38. The lengths of material 44, 46 electrically connect the various contacts 26 and 28a-28e to contact 38 on the top surface 18. In another embodiment, the lengths 44, 46 are positioned in the sole 14 between the sole top and bottom surfaces 18 and 20, respectively. In yet another embodiment, the lengths 44, 46 are positioned adjacent the sole bottom surface 20. The material can comprise any conductive material, such as a metal. Some examples include gold, silver, copper, platinum, titanium etc.

FIG. 3 shows the sole bottom surface 20 that is configured to contact a ground surface. The sole bottom surface 20 includes the toe contact bottom surfaces 36a-36e. In the illustrated embodiment, each toe contact bottom surface 36a-36e is generally in alignment with the respective top surface 32a-32e. The illustrated toe contact bottom surfaces 36a-36e have a smaller diameter than the illustrated toe contact top surfaces 32a-32e. In another embodiment, the toe contact top surfaces 32a-32e are similar in size to the respective toe contact bottom surfaces 36a-36e. In yet another embodiment, at least some of the toe contact bottom surfaces 36a-36e are larger than the respective toe contact top surfaces 32a-32e. The illustrated toe contact bottom surfaces 36a-36e are generally the same size as the other toe contact bottom surfaces 32a-32e. In another embodiment, the toe contact bottom surfaces 36a-36e are different sizes, for example, toe contact 32a has the largest bottom surface 36a, whereas toe contact 32e has the smallest bottom surface 36e. Other relative sizes and configurations are possible and are considered to be within the scope of the present invention. The heel contact bottom surface 34 is also illustrated in FIG. 3 and is smaller than the heel contact top surface 30, but the relative sizes of the heel contact top and bottom surfaces 30, 34 can be varied in different embodiments.

FIG. 4 shows one of the toe contacts 28 including the top surface 32 and the bottom surface 36. A middle portion 48 extends between the top and bottom surfaces 32, 36. The middle portion 48 includes a tubular portion 50, part of which is cutaway in FIG. 4. The middle portion 48 further includes a conductive material 52 generally contained within the tubular portion 50 and electrically coupling the top and bottom surfaces 32, 36. Some examples of conductive material are gold, silver, copper, platinum, titanium etc. In various embodiments, varying degrees of conductivity are desired, so the conductive material is chosen to suit the desired conductivity of each particular embodiment. The illustrated conductive contact material 52 is arranged in a double helix formation. Other arrangements and configurations of the conductive material are possible, such as a single helix, a triple helix, a straight line, etc.

The sole 14 and the contacts 26, 28, 38 are collectively referred to as the sole assembly.

In one embodiment, the tubular portion 50 comprises the same material as the top and bottom surfaces 32, 36, respectively. The top surface 32 and the bottom surface 36 can comprise the same material as the conductive material 52, or can comprise a different conductive material. The tubular portion 50 can comprise the same material as the conductive material 52, the top and bottom surfaces 32, 36, respectively. In another embodiment, the tubular portion 50 includes a first material, the top and bottom surfaces 32, 36, respectively include a second material and the conductive material 52 includes a third material. A similar contact arrangement is utilized for all of the toe contacts 28a-28e and for the heel contact 26. For example, energy can flow from the arch 38 though the conductive strips 44, 46 and out to the contacts 26, 28 where the energy exits into the ground surface. In addition, energy can flow from the heel 22 through the contact 26 to the ground surface and the energy can flow from the toes 24 through the contacts 28 to the ground surface.

A common Eastern medicine belief is that flow of energy into and out of the body is accomplished at the head, hands and feet. This flow of energy promotes blood flow and general health. Typical footwear has insulating soles that block this flow of energy from the feet. It is believed that allowing a flow of energy between the feet and the earth will enhance blood flow and increase overall health. The sole 14 and contacts 26, 28a-28e, and 38 of the present invention allow energy to flow between the feet 10 and the earth.

FIG. 5 illustrates a similar sandal configuration, with items being represented in the one hundred series, (e.g. 110, 112 etc.). Unless otherwise indicated, item 10 is similar to item 110 and so on. Sandal 112 includes a first toe strap 154a positioned adjacent at least one of the toes 124 of the foot 110 and a second toe strap 154b positioned over the top of the foot 110. The toe straps 154a, 154b are coupled to the sole 114 and to each other to hold the foot 110 adjacent the sole 114. The sole 114 of FIG. 5 is very similar to the sole 14 of FIGS. 1-3. The sole 114 includes a plurality of contacts 126 and 128, shown here in cutaway portions of the sole 114. The contacts 126 and 128 extend between the sole top and bottom surfaces 118 and 120, respectively. The contacts 126 and 128 have contact top surfaces 130 and 132, respectively that are configured to engage the respective heel 122 and toe 124 of the foot 110. The contacts 126 and 128 further have respective bottom surfaces 134 and 136 that are configured to engage the ground surface.

FIG. 6 illustrates a tennis shoe or sneaker 256 that utilizes the sole 214 and the contacts 226, 228 as previously discussed. The shoe 256 is operable to receive the foot 210 and hold the foot 210 adjacent the contacts 226, 228, through sock 258. Adjacent is being used as indirect contact, allowing an intervening member or members, such as a sock 258 to be positioned between adjacent foot 210 and contacts 226, 228. The sock 258 includes a material that conducts electricity between the contacts 226, 228 and the foot 210. The material can be interwoven with the sock 258, infused into the sock 258, or otherwise integrated with the sock 258 to conduct electricity through the sock 258.

Various features and advantages of the invention are set forth in the following claims.

Claims

1. A sole assembly for footwear supporting a foot over a ground surface, the sole assembly comprising:
a sole made of insulating material, the sole having a top surface configured to support the foot and a bottom surface opposite the top surface and configured to contact the ground surface;
at least one contact extending between the top and bottom surfaces and generally surrounded by the sole, the at least one contact having a conducting material configured to allow a flow of electrical current between the foot adjacent the top surface and the ground surface adjacent the bottom surface.
a sole made of insulating material, the sole having a top surface configured to support the foot and a bottom surface opposite the top surface and configured to contact the ground surface;
at least one contact extending between the top and bottom surfaces and generally surrounded by the sole, the at least one contact having a conducting material configured to allow a flow of electrical current between the foot adjacent the top surface and the ground surface adjacent the bottom surface.
2. The sole of claim 1, wherein the insulating material includes a polymer.
3. The sole of claim 1, wherein the at least one contact is a first contact configured to be positioned adjacent an arch of the foot.
4. The sole of claim 3, further comprising a second contact, wherein the second contact is configured to be positioned adjacent a heel of the foot.
5. The sole of claim 4, further comprising five additional contacts, each additional contact of the five additional contacts is configured to be positioned adjacent a respective toe of the foot.
6. The sole of claim 4, further comprising a length of conductive material positioned along the top surface to electrically connect the first and second contacts.
7. A footwear assembly for supporting a foot over a ground surface, the footwear assembly comprising:
a sole made of insulating material, the sole having
a top surface configured to support the foot, and
a bottom surface opposite the top surface and configured to contact the ground surface; and
at least one contact extending between the top and bottom surfaces and generally surrounded by the sole, the at least one contact having conducting material configured to allow flow of electrical current between the foot adjacent the top surface and the ground surface adjacent the bottom surface.
a sole made of insulating material, the sole having
a top surface configured to support the foot, and
a bottom surface opposite the top surface and configured to contact the ground surface; and
at least one contact extending between the top and bottom surfaces and generally surrounded by the sole, the at least one contact having conducting material configured to allow flow of electrical current between the foot adjacent the top surface and the ground surface adjacent the bottom surface.
a top surface configured to support the foot, and
a bottom surface opposite the top surface and configured to contact the ground surface; and
8. The footwear assembly of claim 7, wherein the insulating material includes a polymer.
9. The footwear assembly of claim 7, wherein the at least one contact is a first contact configured to be positioned adjacent an arch of the foot.
10. The footwear assembly of claim 9, further comprising a second contact configured to be positioned adjacent a heel of the foot.
11. The footwear assembly of claim 10, further comprising a length of conductive material positioned along the top surface to electrically connect the first and second contacts.
12. The footwear assembly of claim 10, further comprising five additional contacts, each additional contact of the five additional contacts configured to be positioned adjacent a respective toe of the foot.
13. The footwear assembly of claim 12, further comprising a length of conductive material positioned along the length of the footwear assembly to electrically connect the five additional contacts with the first contact.
14. A method of transferring electrical energy through a sole assembly of footwear, the method comprising;
providing at least one contact in a sole of the sole assembly, such that the contact extends through the sole between top and bottom surfaces of the sole;
placing the bottom surface of the sole on a ground surface;
inserting a foot into the footwear adjacent the top surface of the sole;
supporting a foot with the sole;
positioning at least a portion of the foot adjacent the contact;
resisting electrical energy through the sole; and
communicating electrical current through the contact between the ground and the foot.
providing at least one contact in a sole of the sole assembly, such that the contact extends through the sole between top and bottom surfaces of the sole;
placing the bottom surface of the sole on a ground surface;
inserting a foot into the footwear adjacent the top surface of the sole;
supporting a foot with the sole;
positioning at least a portion of the foot adjacent the contact;
resisting electrical energy through the sole; and
communicating electrical current through the contact between the ground and the foot.
15. The method of claim 14, further comprising inserting an electrically conductive sock into the footwear between the foot and the at least one contact.
16. The method of claim 14, wherein the contact is a first contact, and wherein the method further comprises electrically connecting the first contact and a second contact with a length of electrically conductive material on the top surface.
17. The method of claim 16, further comprising positioning the first contact adjacent an arch of the foot.
18. The method of claim 17, further comprising positioning the second contact adjacent a heel of the foot.
19. The method of claim 18, further comprising positioning five additional contacts adjacent respective toes of the foot.
20. The method of claim 18, further comprising electrically connecting the first and second contacts and the five additional contacts with electrically conductive material along the top surface.