Abstract: A rigid wraparound shell defining an inner space containing at least one sealed chamber is provided. The rigid wraparound shell (1) is comprised of flexible sealing walls (2,3) which together define a sealed enclosure (5) having a lower pressure that the ambient pressure, and of a filler material (7) which completely fills the low-pressure sealed enclosure (5). The filler material (7) is rigid when it is inside the low-pressure sealed enclosure (5) and can be flexible when subjected to ambient pressure. This shell structure is particularly useful in making floating and/or sliding devices such as floats, hulls for boats, windsurfing boards sledges, skis, tanks, devices for holding and/or supporting the human body in a natural position or in a predetermined position, such as anti-bedsore mattresses or cushions and surgical mattresses, and devices for holding and/or supporting at least one object in a cavity such as a piece of luggage, container, a vehicle boot or the like.
Abstract: An apparatus and a method are disclosed for cushioning and maintaining an object by a device having a quantity of granular material that is located in a retaining element. The retaining element is divided into compartments which contain the quantity of granular material. The retaining element and the granular material are located within an inner volume of a sealed housing. The retaining element is made from a material that is permeable to gas, but impermedable to the granular materials, while the sealed housing is made from a material that is impermeable to gas the effect of such compartmenting is to keep the granular material in place within the retaining elements, even when the housing is at atmospheric pressure in order to preserve a constant thickness of the device.