US 20040111071 A1
The present invention comprises an arm-mountable device for the discharge of hand treatment medications into the palm of the hand. In it simplest embodiment, the device is a compressible squeeze bladder with nozzle that is affixed to the underside of the wrist with a wristband. The contents of the bladder are ejected in a small burst to the palm of the hand upon initiation of compression of the bladder by the free hand. Features of various advanced embodiments include pressure multiplying squeeze bladders, plunger-based devices, and adjustable nozzles.
1. A device for discharging hand treatment material from a user's forearm into said user's hand, the device comprising in combination:
(a) a dispenser containing said material;
(b) actuation means for dispensing said material; and
(c) attachment means for affixing said dispenser to the underside of said user's forearm.
said device attachable to said user's forearm in the proximity of the underside of said user's wrist and ejecting an amount of said hand treatment material to said user's hand when said actuation means is exercised by said user, said dispenser thereby providing the capability of convenient, but relatively covert application of said hand treatment material to said user's hand.
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16. A method for discharging hand treatment material from a user's forearm into said user's hand, the method comprising the following steps:
(a) attaching a dispenser containing said hand treatment material to the underside of said user's forearm;
(b) actuating said dispenser to eject said hand treatment material into said user's hand.
 The increase in bacterial immunity to modern antibiotics is problematic and one of the chief vectors of infection is the human hand. Hence, when not in the proximity of a washroom to disinfect one's hands, it would be useful to have a means to accomplish such sanitation. Also, in the midst of daily activities, it can be inconvenient to uncap bottles of disinfecting gels or hand lotions to otherwise treat the hands.
 Fortunately, it has been established that ethyl alcohol is a most effective antiseptic for gram-negative pathogens; it is of low viscosity, easily dispensed from a portable container, and does not require the use of a material wipe or cloth because of the speed of its evaporation. Further, an adequate dose for sanitizing the hands comprises but a few drops of this antiseptic. To prevent chafing, glycerin can be added to the alcohol without levels of viscosity increase that would be deleterious to the dispensing process.
 Various methods of portable disinfectant or lotion dispensers have been disclosed in the prior art. These include body-mounted dispensers, wrist bracelet dispensers, and others. U.S. Pat. No. 6,371,946 discloses a dispensing tube that drips liquid onto the hand. U.S. Pat. No. 6,053,898 discloses a tube-fed finger dispenser. A body worn dispenser of form factor similar to a pager is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,927,548.
 What has not been demonstrated is a dispenser that can be surreptitiously actuated. This is an important consideration with respect to public relations. Individuals such as business and sales personnel may come in contact with and greet many people during the day. It would be desirable to have the option of sanitizing the hands after a handshake with a person without conveying a disdainful message to that person.
 Additionally, a wrist-mounted dispenser that achieves dispensing directly to the hand with a simple hand action is another advantage of the present invention. This would be especially useful to nurses and doctors in busy hospital settings, as well as to allied health care workers who cannot take time to repeatedly wash their hands with soap and water.
 The present invention discloses a wrist or forearm-mounted device for dispensing a small amount of alcohol-based disinfectant hand rub, moisturizer, or other hand medicament. Even powder-based hand treatments can be dispensed using the present invention. A wristband or other means affix the device to the underside of the arm, above the wrist. In the preferred embodiment, the device is in the form of a thin, conformal squeeze bottle with a fluid stream-producing nozzle. When actuated, it dispenses a short jet of liquid into the palm or onto the fingers of the hand above which it is mounted. In an advanced embodiment, the bottle is of a pressure-multiplying design that shoots a single “dose” of liquid under pressure when mildly squeezed by the fingers of the free hand.
 Because only a few drops of alcohol-based disinfectant comprise a dose adequate to achieve sanitation of the hands, the device can dispense hundreds of doses of disinfectant before requiring refill or disposal. It can be used at any orientation of the arm and will avoid leakage when not actuated. In an advanced embodiment, very light compression of the device with one or more fingers of the alternate hand will generate a pressurized jet of disinfectant that is easily captured by the target hand. The dispensing device can be fabricated from pliable plastic and can be disposable. Other embodiments of the invention include actuation means on the top side of the wrist, adjustable nozzles, and pressurized and electromechanical actuation.
 Several objects and advantages of the present invention are:
 (a) Provide a convenient, portable means for dispensing hand treatments;
 (b) Provide a cost-effective means for dispensing hand treatments;
 (c) Provide an unobtrusive means of dispensing hand treatments;
 (d) Provide an easily actuated means of dispensing hand treatments;
 (e) Provide an arm-mounted disposable means of dispensing hand treatments.
FIG. 1a is a pictorial diagram of a dispenser mounted on the underside of the wrist.
FIG. 1b is a pictorial diagram of the actuation of the wrist-mounted dispenser.
FIG. 2 is a pictorial diagram of a dispenser embodiment featuring actuation from the top of the wrist.
FIG. 3a is a pictorial diagram of a dispenser and wrist attachment means.
FIG. 3b is a side view of Velcro attachment means.
FIG. 3c is a pictorial view of snap attachment means.
FIG. 4a is a cross-sectional view of a simple squeeze dispenser.
FIG. 4b is a cross-sectional view of a pressure-multiplying squeeze dispenser.
FIG. 4c is a plan view of components of the nozzle assembly of the pressure-multiplying squeeze dispenser.
FIG. 4d is a pictorial view of the hidden components of the nozzle assembly of the pressure-multiplying squeeze dispenser.
FIG. 5 is a pictorial view of wrist motion actuation of a plunger-based dispenser.
FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a prior art plunger.
FIG. 7a is a cross-sectional view of a pressure-multiplying plunger dispenser.
FIG. 7b is a pictorial view of components of the pressure-multiplying plunger dispenser.
FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of an adjustable nozzle.
FIG. 9 is a pictorial view of a dispenser with a flow adjusting nozzle.
 The following definitions serve to clarify the disclosed and claimed invention:
 Bladder refers to an elastic, resilient container that can be deformed under compression.
 Pressure-multiplying refers to those devices relying on the technique of increasing, by mechanical advantage, the compression pressure of a working fluid. This is achieved by use of an ejection fluid-containing tube that penetrates an ejection fluid-containing piston under the influence of the working fluid.
 Hand treatment material comprises any of a host of liquid, powder, gel, or aerosol medications, or sanitizing agents that are topically-applied to the hands. Examples include alcohol, glycerin, moisturizing lotions, and desiccating powders.
 Working fluid refers to the fluid which transfers manual pressure to the material to be dispensed. Such transfer of pressure can occur in one or multiple stages and typical working fluids include air contained in a squeeze bottle as well as liquid versions of the hand treatment material itself.
 The present invention is useful for dispensing either hand lotions such as moisturizers or disinfectants; even powders can be dispensed in powder-aerosol form. Typically the active ingredient in hand antiseptics such as Purel is ethyl alcohol. This is fortuitous because it is a relatively non-toxic liquid that exhibits low viscosity over the temperature range of interest for this application. This makes delivery of a directed stream of fluid relatively easy. In contrast to liquid, alcohol gels are useful in that they do not run and although they will require more force to dispense than liquid, such higher viscosity disinfectant or moisturizing formulations can be accommodated in differing embodiments of the present invention. Various means of dispensing the aforementioned hand treatments are feasible and can be tailored to type of material to be dispensed. In all cases, the target location for deposition of the hand treatment is some region of the underside of the hand, either fingers or palm. The preferred embodiment for a means of dispensing hand cleaning dosages is a device that attaches to the underside of the forearm and can be worn unobtrusively underneath a long-sleeved shirt. If only a long-sleeved shirt is worn as opposed to a jacket, the device would need to be conformal in nature and better match the shape of the arm or be of sufficiently low profile.
 Various approaches can be used to create the fluid dispenser. In a simple squeeze compartment design, a bladder reservoir expels fluid upon application to the bladder itself. In a plunger-based design, a syringe-type plunger causes the fluid in a reservoir to be expelled upon application of force to the plunger. Spray or squirting mechanisms analogous to squirt guns use a more specialized plunger mechanism and include a nozzle. A drip system would rely on gravity feeding of the liquid through an orifice for delivery to the hand. More elaborate schemes include use of a prime mover such as a miniature electrical actuator or pump.
 Following is a taxonomy of dispenser types identified
 simple compression
 pressure multiplied compression
 simple plunger
 pressure multiplied plunger
 same hand-actuated
 Gas Pressurized
 gas cartridge
 thermoelectrically-heated working fluid
 Remote control using low power radio frequency means and single chip receivers
 Basic Configuration
 The simplest reduction to practice would be a low profile bladder mounted on the underside of a given arm that is squeezed by the hand of the alternate arm so that a stream of hand treatment material is dispensed. This is depicted in FIGS. 1a and 1 b. Shown is a thin bladder 1 mounted on the underside of the wrist by means of some form of wristband 3. The device is shown to have a nozzle assembly 5 and, optionally, a capped refill aperture 7. A finger depression area 9 is highlighted. Alternatively, the wristband itself can be part of the dispenser as shown in FIG. 2. A working fluid whether air or liquid can fill a portion or all of the wristband 13. Upon depression of the area 15 atop the wristband, pressure can be conveyed to the dispensing bladder underneath the wrist to cause a stream to be ejected into the hand. This can be especially effective in the pressure-multiplying dispenser discussed below. A three-dimensional depiction of the dispensing bladder is provided in FIG. 3a. The bladder 21 can be formed from soft, pliable plastic such as polyethylene or other plastic not attacked by the chemical constituents of the hand treatment. A nozzle assembly 23 is shown with a centrally-located nozzle aperture 25. The bladder 21 can be made integral with wristband 19 or as shown in FIGS. 3b and 3 c, made attachable to the wristband. In FIG. 3b, the bladder 21 is shown attachable to the wristband 19 by Velcro component strips 31 and 33. FIG. 3c depicts the use of snap elements 35 on the wristband 19 that mate with snap element counterparts on the side of the bladder. Another approach is to use clips that would attach to a wristwatch band.
FIG. 4a is cross-sectional view of a simple embodiment comprising a squeeze bottle 36. Internal to the squeeze bottle 36 are shown an air volume 37 and a hand treatment material-filled pliable bladder 38. Upon squeezing bottle 36, the pressure of air volume 37 is conveyed to filled bladder 38 so that hand treatment material is ejected from check valve-controlled channel 39. The check valve in this channel prevents leakage, but allows ejection of hand treatment material under pressure.
 Upon release of pressure to bottle 36, air is allowed to enter check valve-controlled channel 40 so as to replace the volume of hand treatment material ejected. The segregation of air and hand treatment material volumes permits the use of the device at any orientation with respect to gravity.
 Pressure-Multiplying Squeeze Dispenser
 A more sophisticated embodiment of the invention makes use of a pressure-multiplying squeeze dispenser. Such a dispenser provides relatively high pressure ejection of fluid upon application of relatively little manual pressure. This allows good fluid stream formation and control over its trajectory to the target hand. For this reason U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,603,794 and 5,289,948 are hereby incorporated by reference thereto. In the first of these patents, the fundamental concept of a pressure-multiplying piston is disclosed. A pressure amplification is achieved that is equal to the ratio of the cross-sectional area of the pressure-multiplying piston to the cross-sectional area of a tube penetrating the pressure-multiplying piston.
 Necessary to the present invention is means to allow the dispenser to operate independent of its orientation with respect to the gravity field and the need to insure leak-proof operation. The pressure multiplying concept is adapted to the present invention to achieve these goals as shall be described by reference to FIG. 4b, a cross-sectional view of a pressure-multiplying version of this invention. Shown is an outer bladder 41 having an output nozzle assembly 63 and a refill port with cap 74.
 Interior to the bladder 41 is an even more pliable bladder 45 that segregates the volume of the bladder 41 into an air-filled space 43 and a fluid filled space 87. As can be understood, this is for the purpose of allowing operation independent of orientation with respect to gravity, in the same fashion as the embodiment of FIG. 4a. Upon compression of bladder 41, air in volume 43 causes compressive pressure on fluid-filled bladder 45. This pressure is transferred to fluid-filled moveable cylinder 49 which translates within an outer guide cylinder 47. Cylinder 49 has been filled with fluid by virtue of port 51 on the side of cylinder 47 near its base. As cylinder 49 is caused to translate upward, port 51 is sealed by the wall of cylinder 47 so that the pressure of fluid 53 inside cylinder 49 is applied to the end of tube assembly 83. Similarly, as cylinder 49 begins upward translation, air intake port 58 is sealed by the wall of cylinder 49 so that air in volume 89 is exhausted through channel 61. The pressure of the fluid in channel 81 of tube assembly 83 is increased over the pressure of the fluid in bladder 45 by the ratio of the cross-sectional area of cylinder 49 to the cross-sectional area of the end of tube assembly 83.
 As cylinder 49 travels upward against the preload provided by spring 57 which is in turn captivated by spring seat 59, the air in volume 43 opens spring-loaded gate valve assembly 73 so as to allow fluid to be ejected from channel 81. Retaining protrusions 55 on the inside wall of cylinder 47 limit the upward travel of fluid-filled cylinder 49 in dispensing of a single dose of hand treatment. After the maximum amount of fluid in volume 53 of cylinder 49 is ejected at the limit of travel for cylinder 49 and upon removal of actuation pressure to bladder 41, cylinder 49 under spring tension travels back downward into bladder 45. Retaining flange 52 limits the downward travel of cylinder 47. As cylinder 49 descends, its interior is under a partial vacuum and upon exposure of port 51 to the fluid in volume 87 by way of port 57 in the wall of cylinder 47, the interior of cylinder 49 is refilled with liquid. At this same time, air intake port 58 in the wall of cylinder 47 is opened to allow air to enter volume 43 by way of volume 89 and channel 61.
FIGS. 4c and 4 d serve to illustrate the function of gate valve assembly 73. In FIG. 4c, it can be observed that the gate valve assembly 73 is actually a mechanism with three forward prongs and one backward-directed extension held in a position which blocks fluid channel 81 by means of preload spring 71. The central forward prong has a rectangular or square cross section in contrast to the circular cross sections of the other prongs and the backward-directed extension so as to seat over the top of channel 81. Air pressure to displace the gate valve assembly 73 and open fluid channel 81 is applied only to the two outboard prongs of assembly 73 by way of air channels 75. Upon displacement of gate valve assembly 73, it occupies additional volume 77. Air channel 65 provides for release of air from spring compartment 69 upon progress of the backward-directed extension of assembly 73 into compartment 69.
 Plunger-Type Dispenser
 An alternative to squeeze dispensing makes use of a plunger. The way in which a plunger would be exploited in the present invention is shown in FIG. 5, a pictorial side view of such a device. In this embodiment, a fluid storage compartment 91 of the same form factor as the previously described squeeze bladder is likewise mounted on the underside of the wrist. A fluid dispensing plunger 93 is actuated by downward flexion of the hand at the wrist so as to depress plunger 93 with the base of the palm. With this motion, hand treatment fluid is ejected onto the base of the palm and both hands can be rubbed together to disperse the treatment.
 The type of plunger device 101 used on dish soap dispensers is shown in FIG. 6.
 A moveable plunger 103 is spring loaded and captivated by housing 105. The preload spring 121 is seated against plunger 103 within cylinder 117. Tube 127 extends into a fluid volume not shown. When the plunger 103 is depressed, air in volume 119 is impeded in downward flow by gravity check valve 125 having cage 123 and is promoted in upward flow through channel 107 past spring loaded check valve 113. Upon release of plunger 103, a partial vacuum is formed in volume 119 which pulls fluid up through aperture 129 of tube 127 into volume 119 and onward up through channel 107 and out aperture 115. The tension of spring 109 is small, but sufficient to prevent unintended leakage of fluid. A miniature version of this plunger assembly can be fabricated for use as part of a plunger embodiment of the present invention.
 Pressure-Multiplying Plunger-Type Dispenser
 Analogous to the pressure-multiplying squeeze dispenser is a pressure-multiplying version of the plunger device. A cross-sectional view of this device is shown in FIG. 7a. A moveable plunger 133 has a preload tension from spring 140 that maintains its normal extended position. Spring 140 is seated against structural fins 171 internal to the dispenser. The plunger 133 has a central channel 135 that accepts the introduction of tube 149 connected by fins 171 to the dispenser housing 165, as plunger 133 is depressed. Cutouts 145 on the sides of plunger 133 admit the insertion of structural fins 171 which hold tube 149 in place. The lower portion of plunger 133 forms a cylinder 151 which houses a pressure-multiplying cylinder 159. Upon depression of plunger 133, the lower flange 157 of the plunger applies pressure to fluid volume 134 which in turn applies pressure to cylinder 159. This results in the upward travel of pressure-multiplying cylinder 159 and the high pressure ejection of fluid along channel 167 and channel 135, past check valve 141 and out through aperture 137. As the plunger 133 is depressed, the perforations of air intake tube 146 are sealed. Upon release of actuation pressure, plunger 133 returns upward by virtue of spring 140 and cylinder 159 returns downward under then influence of spring 155. Cylinder 159 refills with fluid as aperture 160 is in fluid communication with fluid volume 134. Near the limit of return travel for plunger 133, the perforations of air intake tube 146 are opened for air to refill volume 168. A flexible membrane 158 at the base of fluid container 163 allows air pressure in volume 168 to equilibrate with fluid pressure in volume 134. Retaining flange 152 limits the downward travel of cylinder 159. In FIG. 7b, the three-dimensional shape of plunger 133 is more clearly manifested. Shown are the cutout areas 145 which are penetrated by the structural fins 171 which hold tube 149 in fixed disposition with respect to the dispenser housing 165.
 Other Dispenser Types
 Among other dispenser types are drip, pressurized, and pump-driven versions. Drip type dispensers are of limited practicality given that they are orientation sensitive. One way in which such a dispenser could be used involves actuating a shutoff valve. Various approaches well known in the prior art can be used to actuate the opening of such a valve by hand pressure. Subsequent to opening the valve, it is required to orient the dispenser to allow hand treatment to drip into the hand.
 Borrowing from the technology used in the fabrication of pressurized shaving cream dispensers, there are well known methods of producing gas-pressurized streams of liquids and gels. The dispenser exploiting gas pressurization could be a low profile metal, disposable cartridge that removably attaches to a wristband.
 Applicable miniature electromechanical schemes that could be used for ejecting hand treatment material are well known in the prior art. Foremost among electromechanical actuation methods is that of solenoid. The miniature solenoids used in ink jet printing can be applied to discharging small jets of fluid. Sufficient electrical energy for hundreds of actuations can be contained in small form factor batteries such as those of the disc lithium variety. Alternatively, miniature diaphragm pumps and piezoelectric pumps used for insulin delivery can be used for discharge of small jets of fluid. Finally, in the category of thermoelectric devices, Peltier effect devices can be used with working fluids or phase change materials to effect large pressure changes with modest electrically-induced temperature changes and thereby eject fluids upon initiation of current flow to the Peltier device. In all electrical methods, a consistent fixed dosage of ejected hand treatment material can be established by electronically fixing the duration of the governing voltage or current pulse. Remote control actuation is imminently feasible with commercially available low power consumption micro transmitters and receivers. There are numerous ways in which such remote control can be applied, typically using the free hand or other part of the body.
 Nozzle Configurations
 In the simplest embodiment, the nozzle of the present invention is of a fixed geometry. Other embodiments include retractable or extendible versions, as well as nozzles that can be adjusted in direction and those which allow selection of output flow type from streaming to spraying. Adjustable nozzles can be implemented for pressure multiplying dispensers with some increase in complexity over counterparts for non-pressure-multiplying dispensers.
 Typically, the nozzle of the present invention will be oriented so as to provide unobstructed dispensing of hand treatment to the hand in cases where the user is wearing a long-sleeved shirt or blouse, or a jacket. In situations where a garment might obstruct dispensing, it could be efficacious to have an extendible nozzle. An example of such a nozzle is shown in FIG. 8. A cylindrical nozzle body 201 is shown with ring embossments 203. A complementary ring void 205 is present in the neck 207 of the dispenser so that longitudinal motion of the nozzle body 201 relative to the dispenser neck 207 establishes a fixed number of detint positions.
 As dictated by the preference of a user of the invention, the type of flow of dispensed material can be selected in an embodiment with flow control means. Numerous prior art examples of variable flow nozzles are extant in the patent literature; examples include U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,843,030, 3,967,765, and 4,234,128. These nozzle designs exhibit variable flow channel geometry. An attending alteration in the flow from a streaming to spraying nature occurs upon rotation of one of the component members of the nozzle relative to the other. In FIG. 9, this type of nozzle is shown in the context of the present invention. A fixed nozzle component 223 is attached to the dispenser body 221. Rotation of the moveable nozzle component 225 results in variation in the type of flow. In such an implementation, the flow channel is segmented into two portions and the alignment of a particular cross-sectional geometry of each of these portions of the channel is used to adjust the nature of the flow. Another method of varying the type of flow is that used in typical garden hose nozzles in which a flow output aperture is variably occluded by the longitudinal translation of a conical member with its apex directed into the flow output aperture by a screwing motion.
 While there have been shown and described the preferred embodiments of the present invention, it is to be understood that the invention can be embodied otherwise than is herein specifically illustrated and described and that, within such embodiments certain changes in the detail and configuration of this invention, and in the form and arrangements of the components of this invention, can be made without departing from the underlying idea or principles of this invention within the scope of the appended claims.