Automatic Inflatable Structure Deflation System
AUTOMATIC INFLATABLE STRUCTURE DEFLATION SYSTEM
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This is a 20 year US & International patent in a billion dollar industry
Cross Reference To Related Application
 This application claims the benefit of priority to U.S. patent application no. 15/933,369, filed on March 22, 2018 and currently pending; the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein.
Field of the Invention
 The invention relates to an automatic inflatable structure deflation system and method of deflating an inflatable structure using said system.
 Inflatable structures such as bounce houses or other occupant inflatable structures can have large surface area that catches the wind causing the inflatable structure to be displaced. An inflatable structure can become airborne and travel a considerable distance or to a dangerous height, and then drop abruptly. In some cases, an inflatable structure may be carried into the path of traffic onto power lines or into or in contact with other potentially dangerous locations. High winds can cause tie-down lines to break or anchors to fail leaving the inflatable structures at the mercy of the wind.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The invention is directed to an automatic inflatable structure deflation system and method of deflating an inflatable structure using said system. An exemplary automatic inflatable structure deflation system comprises a cover panel that is sealed over a deflation opening and is tied to a tie-down element by a deflation line. When the inflatable structure is displaced, the deflation line pulls the cover panel from the inflatable structure to expose the deflation opening and to quickly deflate the inflatable structure. The deflation opening may be relatively large to enable quick deflation and prevent the inflatable structure from large displacements or from rising off of the ground to an unsafe height.
 An exemplary automatic inflatable structure deflation system comprises a seal feature to seal the cover panel over the deflation opening and to the outside surface of the inflatable structure or to a seal panel attached to the outside surface of the inflatable structure. The seal feature may comprise a hook-and-loop fastener wherein one portion of the hook-and-loop fastener, the hook for example, is configured on the cover panel and the opposing portion of the hook-and-loop fastener, the loop, is configured on the outside of the inflatable structure, such as on the seal panel coupled to the inflatable structure and around the deflation opening. The seal feature may comprise a press-seal feature comprising a press-seal protrusion and a press-seal slot, wherein the press-seal protrusion is retained within the press seal slot to create a seal, like that of the zip-seals on many resealable plastic bags. A first portion of the press-seal feature is configured on the cover panel and the opposing portion of the press-seal feature is configured on the inflatable structure, such as on the seal panel. The press-seal feature may be in a continuous loop around the deflation opening and may have rounded corners to enable easy attachment of the press-seal protrusion into the press-seal slot. A seal may be substantially air-tight, wherein there is no more air lost through the seal than about 0.05 liter per minute per meter (lpm/m) of length of seal, no more than about 0.1 lpm/m, no more than about 0.5 lpm/m, no more than about 1 lpm/m and any range between and including the rates of air lost provided. A hook-and-loop seal feature may have higher air loss rates than a press-seal feature. The combination of the press-seal feature and hook-and-loop seal feature may provide low air loss rates and a secure fastening configuration. A hook-and-loop feature may be configured along the inside area, between the press-seal feature and the deflation opening and/or along an outside area, or outside of the press-seal feature. A hook-and-loop feature on the inside area may prevent force on the press-seal feature and prevent it from opening due to inflation pressure of the inflatable structure.
 The deflation opening may be large to enable quick deflation of the inflatable structure and may be rectangular in shape, square in shape, circular in shape, oval in shape or irregularly shaped. The shape of the deflation opening may depend on the shape of the inflatable structure. A deflation opening may be configured on any of the sides of an inflatable structure, a top or a bottom of an inflatable structure. A deflation opening may have a largest dimension, such as length or diameter of about 25cm or more, about 50cm or more, about 100cm or more, about 150cm or more, about 200cm or more any range between and including the deflation opening dimensions provided. The inflatable structure may comprise a deflation opening that has a deflation opening area ratio, or ratio of the surface area of the deflation opening to the volume of air within the inflatable structure, or cm2/cc that is large enough to enable quick deflation of the inflatable structure and may be about 0.005cm2/cc or more, about 0.0075cm2/cc or more about 0.01cm2/cc or more about 0.025cm2/cc or more, about 0.05cm2/cc or more, about 0.75cm2/cc or more about 0.1cm2/cc or more and any range between and including the deflation opening area ratios provided. The deflation opening area ratio is calculated as a function of the volume of the inflated portion of the inflatable structure, and in some cases an inflatable structure comprises a plurality of inflatable portions or separate bladder elements which may be inflated separately. In this case, the opening area ratio is calculated as a function of the separate bladders. Note that a bounce house is an inflatable structure having an interior for people to enter and this interior is not inflated. The volume of this interior is not part of the volume used in the calculation of the opening area ratio.
 An inflatable structure may be modified to include an automatic inflatable structure deflation system as descried herein. A kit may be provided having all the required components to convert an existing inflatable structure into an inflatable structure having an automatic inflatable structure deflation system. An exemplary automatic inflatable structure deflation system kit may comprise a cover panel having a seal feature on the inside surface and a deflation anchor attached thereto, a structure seal feature for attachment to the inflatable structure, a deflation line and a cutting template for marking the deflation opening on the inflatable structure. A user of the kit may place the cutting template on the inflatable structure and mark the deflation opening with a marker. A user may then cut the deflation opening through a wall of the inflatable structure. A user may then attach the structure seal feature around the deflation opening and to the outside surface of the inflatable structure, or wall of the inflatable structure. A user may then attach the cover panel to the structure seal and attach the deflation line to the deflation anchor and extend the line to a tie-down element, such as a stake in the ground. The inflatable structure is now equipped with an automatic inflatable structure deflation system. Note that the structure seal feature may be attached to a seal panel that is attached to the outside surface of the inflatable structure, such as with an adhesive.
 An inflatable structure may have bladders comprising flexible fabrics, such as polymer coated woven fabric and may have one or more blowers that operate to keep the inflatable structure inflated. An inflatable structure may be an occupant inflatable structure having an interior configured for one or more occupants to enter. An inflatable structure may be an advertisement, such as a waving arm advertisement.
 The summary of the invention is provided as a general introduction to some of the embodiments of the invention and is not intended to be limiting. Additional example embodiments including variations and alternative configurations of the invention are provided herein.
Attached files:US10357723B1- Automatic inflatable structure deflation system 2.pdfPatents:
US 10,357,723 issued 2019-07-23 [MORE INFO
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