A mattress with a light-transmissive cover directed at preventing the hiding of contraband in institutional facilities. The mattress has a solid or partially solid core and a light-transmissive cover that envelops the core. A light-transmissive reinforcement section may be provided in the cover. When provided as a mattress for an inmate in a confinement area, the mattress permits visual inspection for contraband hidden in the mattress by looking through the light-transmissive cover of the mattress.
Inventors: Miller, Norma; (Fuquay-Varina, NC)
Correspondence Name and Address: COATS & BENNETT, PLLC
P O BOX 5
Serial No.: 853786
Series Code: 10
Filed: May 26, 2004
U.S. Current Class: 5/737; 5/690
U.S. Class at Publication: 005/737; 005/690
Intern'l Class: A47C 017/00
What is claimed is:
1. A mattress comprising: a liquidless core that is at least partially solid; and a cover that binds and envelops the core, the cover being light-transmissive to allow visual inspection of the core.
2. The mattress of claim 1, wherein the core is completely solid.
3. The mattress of claim 1, wherein the cover comprises a plurality of sections, each section joined to another section at a seam.
4. The mattress of claim 3, wherein the seam is positioned substantially on a vertical side of the mattress.
5. The mattress of claim 3, wherein the seam is light-transmissive.
6. The mattress of claim 3, wherein at least one of the sections is a reinforcing section.
7. The mattress of claim 6, wherein the reinforcing section is comprised of scrim.
8. The mattress of claim 1, wherein the core is constructed of a plurality of pieces aligned and contained by the cover.
9. A mattress comprising: a core at least partially including a solid material; and a cover that envelops the core, the cover having a light-transmissive section in direct contact with the solid material to allow visual observation of the solid material.
10. The mattress of claim 9, wherein the cover further comprises an opaque section.
11. The mattress of claim 9, wherein substantially the entire cover is light-transmissive.
12. The mattress of claim 9, wherein the cover comprises a light-transmissive scrim.
13. The mattress of claim 9, wherein the cover is comprised of a multiple pieces, at least one of which is a reinforcing material.
14. The mattress of claim 9, wherein the cover binds the core.
15. The mattress of claim 14, wherein the core is comprised of multiple members.
16. A method of preventing the hiding of contraband in a mattress in institutional facilities, comprising the steps of: providing a mattress for an inmate in a confinement area; visually inspecting for contraband in the mattress by looking through a light-transmissive cover of the mattress; wherein the light-transmissive cover allows visual detection of contraband within the mattress.
17. The method of claim 16, wherein the step of visually inspecting for contraband occurs from a location exterior to the confinement area.
18. The method of claim 16, further comprising removing any contraband detected during the visual inspection.
19. A mattress for use in institutional facilities comprising: an interior means within the mattress for supporting the weight of a body; and a cover for enveloping the interior means, the cover including means for permitting visual inspection of the contents within the cover.
20. A mattress comprising: a partially solid core; and a cover that envelops the core, the cover being at least partially light-transmissive to allow visual inspection of the contents within the cover, the cover being at least partially comprised of scrim.
21. The mattress of claim 20 wherein the scrim is light-transmissive.
22. The mattress of claim 20 wherein the scrim is positioned at a high stress area of the mattress.
 Institutional facilities, including correctional institutions, hospitals, schools, and the like, accommodate persons during sleeping hours. Some of these facilities provide regular beds that include a frame and mattress. In the interest of cost, space, or other factors, other institutional facilities merely provide a simple mattress on which an inmate, student, or patient may rest or sleep. Persons detained or residing within these institutional facilities often look to unusual places in which to store contraband such as drugs, weapons, or other un-permitted items.
 Existing mattresses are typically constructed of a core which provides the support for mattress. The mattress also includes an opaque cover that surrounds the core. The cover may also function to maintain the position of the elements that comprise the core. These types of mattresses may provide a hiding place for contraband for inmates housed in institutional facilities. Since the cover that envelops the core is opaque, contraband can be hidden inside the mattress by cutting or tearing an access hole in the cover, thereby providing access to the interior of the mattress as a hiding place for contraband. The contraband may be drugs, weapons, tools, utensils, or some innocuous item that is otherwise forbidden in the institutional facility. A cursory search of the mattress by institution personnel will generally not reveal the contents of the mattress and the contraband will remain safely hidden. Further, the contraband may be small in size so that a pat down of the mattress by institution personnel might not reveal the mattress contents either. A handheld metal detector might be used to locate forbidden metallic items, but would not be suitable for drugs or other nonmetallic paraphernalia. Similarly, a metal detector may not be of value where the interior of the mattress includes metal coil springs that will always trigger the metal detector alarm. Thus, about the only way to accurately reveal the contraband is to destroy the mattress by pulling back the exterior cover to reveal the contents within. Naturally, destructive inspections of this nature will tend to be costly and time consuming. Accordingly, an improved mattress design is disclosed herein.
 Transparent or translucent covers have been used on waterbed mattresses to observe the liquid contained therein. However, the reasons for including such a transparent or translucent cover on a waterbed are completely different than the need to see into the interior of an institutional mattress. For a waterbed, the usefulness of a transparent or translucent mattress cover is centrally related to the liquid-bearing nature of the mattress. End users of waterbeds can more easily detect leaks, remove air bubbles from the mattress, or determine when to add water purification chemicals to the water all as a result of the translucent or transparent nature of the mattress cover. In contrast, the need to see within a mattress in an institutional facility is directed less at the intended contents of the mattress (e.g., liquid, foam, springs, etc . . . ) and more at unintended contents (e.g., contraband) placed in the mattress.
 The present invention is directed to a mattress with a light-transmissive cover. The mattress can be used in institutional facilities to aid in preventing the hiding of contraband. The mattress has a solid or partially solid core and a light-transmissive cover that envelops the core. In one embodiment, seams joining sections of the cover may be light-transmissive, minimally opaque, or of minimal size so as not to interfere with the light-transmissive nature of the cover. When provided as a mattress for an inmate in a confinement area, the mattress permits visual inspection for contraband hidden in the mattress by looking through the light-transmissive cover of the mattress. The visual inspection for contraband may occur from a location exterior to the confinement area.
 The mattress may include a liquidless core that is at least partially solid or completely solid. The mattress cover may be seamless or may comprise a plurality of sections, with each section joined together. A variety of permanent or detachable joining techniques may be used to attach the sections together.
 The mattress may have a cover with a light-transmissive section exterior to a solid portion of the mattress core to allow visual observation of the solid portion. A side or section of the cover may be opaque or substantially the entire cover may be light-transmissive. The cover may comprise a single or multiple plies. A light-transmissive reinforcement section may be provided in the cover.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the mattress of the present invention;
 FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of one embodiment of the mattress of the present invention;
 FIG. 3 is a partially-exploded view of one embodiment of the mattress of the present invention;
 FIG. 4 is a side view of one embodiment of the mattress of the present invention;
 FIG. 5 is an exploded view of one embodiment of the mattress of the present invention; and
 FIG. 6 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the mattress of the present invention.
 One embodiment of a mattress, illustrated as 10 in FIG. 1, includes a first surface 12, second surface 14, and side surfaces 16a, 16b, 16c, and 16d. Surfaces 14, 16c, and 16d are not expressly visible, but are indicated generally by arrows in the perspective view of FIG. 1. A light-transmissive cover 26 envelops an interior core 20 of the mattress 10 and extends over the surfaces 12, 14, 16a-16d. The light-transmissive cover 26 permits visual observation of the core 20 and any contraband 30 that may be hidden within the interior of the cover 26. The light-transmissive cover 26 allows institution personnel to conduct visual, non-destructive inspections of the mattress 10 for contraband 30. Furthermore, given appropriate lighting conditions, this visual inspection may be conducted from a safe distance, for instance beyond the room or cell in which the mattress 10 is located. Similarly, visual inspection may be conducted with the aid of a surveillance camera so as to preserve the safety of institution personnel or other inmates. The term "light transmissive" should be understood to represent that characteristic of a medium that permits the transmission of electromagnetic radiation in the visible spectrum so as to enable one to visually distinguish an object through the medium. The term light-transmissive encompasses, but is not intended to be limited to, the terms translucent and transparent.
 FIG. 2 shows a side-sectional view of one embodiment of the mattress 10 having the mattress core 20 contained within a light-transmissive cover 26. The mattress core 20 is configured to support the body of a user. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 2, mattress core 20 is constructed of one or more separate members 45 contained within the cover 26. The individual members may be constructed of a variety of materials, including foam, cotton, or polyester. Alternatively, the core 20 may be fabricated from a single piece. The mattress core 20 may also be constructed of various materials. Other embodiments of the mattress core 20 might also include conventional coil springs or other components known to those skilled in the art of mattress construction. In one embodiment, the core has a size of approximately 25".times.75".times.4" and weighs about 18 lbs.
 The cover 26 functions to allow visual observation of the core 20. In one embodiment, the cover 20 is positioned directly against the core 20 to allow visual observation of the core and interior of the mattress 10. In one embodiment, the cover 26 directly contacts each of the separate core members 45. The cover 26 also functions to contain or bind the core 20 by keeping the separate core members 45 in relative position to form the overall dimensions of the mattress 10. Without the binding cover 26, the core 20 would be exposed, and the separate core members 45 would not be maintained in position. Even in embodiments where the core 20 is comprised of a single member, cover 26 may function to bind the core 20 to maintain the shape and integrity of the mattress 10.
 In one embodiment, foam pads are constructed of highly flame resistant polymerized synthetic open celled cushioning foam. One embodiment of the foam pad is FIRE SEAL available from Foamex of Compton, Calif. In one embodiment, cotton pads comprise re-cycled post industrial denim and cotton fibers bonded together by poly fibers (maximum 10%). One embodiment of the cotton pad is available from Bonded Logic of Chandler, Ariz. In one embodiment, the cotton pad is composed of re-cycled post industrial denim and cotton fibers with a ply fiber (maximum of 10%) that binds and solidifies the cotton matrix. Batting 36 may also be included within mattress core 42. In one embodiment, batting is a sheet-like member that is wound around the pads. One embodiment of batting materials is boric acid treated 100% virgin cotton batting manufactured by Trace Industries.
 In one embodiment, a polyester pad is constructed of thermally bonded polyester fiber available from Cumulus Fibre of Statesville, N.C. In one embodiment, the polyester pad is made of thermally bonded polyester fiber. The polyester fibers are processed through either a garneting operation or air-layering.
 The mattress core 20 shown in FIG. 2 includes a perforated pad member 45 having a series of apertures 46. In one embodiment, apertures 46 are substantially vertical cylinders with a diameter of about 3/4 inch and are spaced on a 5-inch square pattern. When constructed with apertures 46 of this type, the core 20 is therefore partially solid and partially gaseous (air). The apertures 46 provide for a more comfortable feel for the user, and also allows for bending the cotton pad such that the mattress 10 can be stored in a folded orientation. In one embodiment, the pad is constructed of cotton and has a thickness of about five inches.
 The light-transmissive cover 26 shown in the embodiment of FIGS. 1-2 is constructed of a single piece of material. In this particular embodiment, the one piece of light-transmissive material is wrapped around core 20 and the ends of the material are joined together and secured around the core 20 using a conventional joining technique, such as stitching or thermal or adhesive bonding. Alternatively, the one-piece, light-transmissive cover 26 in FIGS. 1-2 may be a seamless cover. That is, cover 26 may be comprised of a single piece of material that is applied to the core 20 using a molding or spraying process. Those skilled in the art will appreciate the structural and operational advantages offered by a seamless design. Such a design may be applicable for larger run quantities. Other alternative embodiments of the mattress cover containing multiple pieces of light-transmissive material, such as those embodiments shown in FIGS. 3-6, may provide equally effective solutions.
 In one embodiment, the light-transmissive cover 26 is made of multiple plies of light-transmissive material. In one embodiment, the light-transmissive cover 26 is made of a single ply of light-transmissive material. The light-transmissive cover may be constructed of a vinyl or flexible PVC film material. The light-transmissive material is fire resistant as determined using NFPA-701 Large Scale Test. A flexible PVC material used for constructing the cover 26 is available from TMI Incorporated of Pittsburgh, Pa. The thickness of the light-transmissive material may vary, and embodiments include material thickness within the range of about 15 mil-26 mil, and may have a weight in ounces per yard ranging from about 7.0 to about 13.0. In one embodiment, the light-transmissive material is a 2-ply flexible PVC sheet with a thickness of about 20 mils.
 In FIG. 3, another embodiment of mattress 10 is shown with a multi-piece light-transmissive cover, generally designated 130. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, cover 130 is comprised of two sections 132 and 134. Section 132 is fabricated as a one-piece bag structure that is rectangular in shape and hollow in design with an open end 136 used for slipping section 132 over core 20. Section 134 is constructed as a flat, one-piece panel, and is joined with section 132 to envelop core 20. A number of means or methods may be used to join the two sections 132, 134. The sections may be chemically or thermally bonded, stitched, clamped, or otherwise secured together. The sections may also be semi-permanently joined together using other mechanisms such as zippers, hook-and-loop materials, magnets, or resealable adhesives or fasteners so as to make the cover 130 removable. Those skilled in the art of material fabrication will appreciate alternative means or methods of joining the sections of cover 130. These illustrative joining techniques are used to join sections 132, 134 or other sections of the light-transmissive cover 130 at a seam 138. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the seam 138 is positioned at substantially one end of mattress 10. In one embodiment, such as where thermal or chemical bonding techniques are employed, the seam 138 is light-transmissive. In one embodiment, the seam 138 is opaque, but minimally obscures the light-transmissive nature of the cover 130.
 Where a single piece or various pieces are joined together using a stitching or similar method, it may be desirable to hide the stitch at the seam 138 to inhibit access to the interior of the cover. Various techniques are known to those skilled in the art of textile manufacturing to accomplish this task. For instance, the various pieces of light-transmissive material may be joined together while the cover is in an inside out orientation. Prior to inserting the core 20 into the cover, the cover is re-inverted so as to hide the stitches. Other stitching techniques, such as a blind stitch or a tuck stitch may also be used.
 In another embodiment shown in FIG. 4, a light-transmissive cover comprises of an upper section 142 and a lower section 144 joined together at seam 146. In one embodiment, seam 146 is located on a vertical side 16b of the mattress 10. In one embodiment, seam 146 is located on a vertical side of mattress 10, positioned equidistant from top surface 12 and bottom surface 14. In one embodiment, seam 146 is positioned on or near top surface 12. In one embodiment, seam 146 is positioned on or near bottom surface 14.
 In another embodiment, such as that shown in FIG. 5, light-transmissive cover 150 may be comprised of a plurality of segments, some of which may be partially or wholly opaque. As a non-limiting example, an opaque cover section 152 extends around the sides 16a-d of mattress core 20. The ends of section 152, represented by 154a and 154b may be joined together to form a first seam on a vertical side of the core 20. The light-transmissive cover 150 further includes a light-transmissive top section 156 that can be joined with cover 152 to form a seam at the perimeter of cover 156 and at the top end of section 152. The top section 156, as shown in FIG. 5, thereby covers the top surface 12 of mattress 10. Similarly, the light-transmissive cover 150 shown in FIG. 5 further includes a light-transmissive bottom section 158 that can be joined with cover 152 to form a seam at the perimeter of cover 158 and at the bottom end of section 152. When joined to section 152 in this manner, bottom section 158 thereby covers the bottom surface 14 of mattress 10.
 The embodiment of cover 150 shown in FIG. 5 includes an opaque section, but does not detract from the ability to inspect for contraband within mattress 10. Even where contraband is hidden behind the opaque section 152, institution personnel may still visually inspect the contents of the mattress 10 through the light-transmissive portions 156, 158 of cover 150. Gravity may also play a part in such inspections because contraband hidden behind the opaque, vertical section 152 will tend to fall towards the light-transmissive lower section 158 of cover 150.
 Section 152 in FIG. 5 may be constructed, in part or in whole, of a different material than sections 156 and 158. In one embodiment, sections 156 and 158 are constructed of the same light-transmissive material. In one embodiment, sections 156 and 158 are constructed of different materials. In one embodiment, section 152 may be constructed, in whole or in part, of an opaque, high tensile-strength material. In one embodiment, section 152 may be constructed, in whole or in part, of an opaque, tear-resistant material. In one embodiment, part or the entirety of section 156 or section 158 may be constructed of an opaque material. In general, different combinations of material choice may be incorporated into the embodiment shown in FIG. 5 or into embodiments not specifically shown, but embodying a multi-section light-transmissive cover in accordance with this disclosure.
 Section 152 may also be constructed of a strengthening or reinforcing material to improve the strength of the cover 150. The reinforcing material may be an opaque material such as Kevlar or a light-transmissive material such as scrim. The term scrim is understood in the textile industry to mean a durable, loosely woven cotton or linen fabric used for curtains or upholstery lining. In the theatrical arts, the word scrim is used to describe a transparent fabric used as a drop to create special lighting or atmosphere effects. In the present context, scrim should be understood to mean a combination of these definitions. That is, the durable, loosely woven characteristics and the transparent characteristic of the material are relevant to the present discussion. In one embodiment, the reinforcing material is a three-layer fabric, constructed of a light-transmissive vinyl top and bottom layer, and an intermediate scrim layer that consists of a loosely woven grid forming half inch apertures and having a weight of about 7 ounces per square yard. When provided in this manner, the reinforcing material is light-transmissive in that it permits transmission of light in the visible spectrum so as to distinguish objects behind the material. One embodiment of the reinforcing material is WATERCLEAR scrim material available from Herculite Products, Inc. of Emigsville, Pa.
 The reinforcing material may be incorporated into those areas of the light-transmissive cover that are high-stress areas as depicted in the embodiment of FIG. 6. In FIG. 6, the mattress 10 is oriented in an inverted position compared to the embodiment shown in FIG. 1. In FIG. 6, the second surface 14 of the mattress 10 is facing upward while the first surface 12 is hidden from view. Side surfaces 16a-d extend in a generally vertical direction between the first 12 and second 14 surfaces. End surface 16d represents the head of the mattress and is disposed at the end of the mattress at which a user's head will rest. Since the bulk of the weight supported by mattress 10 is towards the end 16d that supports the torso of a user, it follows that the head of the mattress will be the high-stress or weight bearing area of the mattress 10. Reinforcing material 162 is therefore positioned at the junction between the bottom surface 14 and end surface 16d. In another embodiment, reinforcing material 162 may be positioned at ends 16d and 16b to make the mattress 10 symmetric. In another embodiment, reinforcing material may be positioned at sides 16a or 16c.
 The term "mattress" herein is used broadly to include a pad, bag, cot, sack, cushion, mat, or similar item of any shape on which a person may rest or sleep. In one embodiment, the mattress includes an arrangement of coiled springs.
 The present invention may be carried out in other specific ways than those herein set forth without departing from the scope and essential characteristics of the invention. For instance, manufacturing considerations may determine the overall shape and quantity of sections needed to form the light-transmissive cover. Thus, combinations other than those specifically shown in the Figures are certainly possible. The present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, and all changes coming within the meaning and equivalency range of the appended claims are intended to be embraced therein.