CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
- STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to an automated remote bathroom air freshener. More particularly, the present invention relates to a remotely located bathroom air freshener dispenser that can be triggered automatically.
Advancements in the field of indoor plumbing have been readily apparent over time, especially with the introduction of the modern flush toilet. There has been a constant state of evolution since this particular advancement resulting in numerous accessories and devices that are intended to make the use of the flush toilet more efficient, more convenient or to make the experience of using the flush toilet more pleasant for the user. This latter motivation has led to some products that are directed towards the masking or elimination of odors.
Devices known in the prior art include U.S. Pat. No. 5,894,001 (Hitzler, et al) which relates to a fragrance dispenser that can be actuated by a signal and which dispenses a quantifiable amount of fragrance at that time. The device does not teach the use of a remote spray nor does it teach the use of a spray that is atomized in a radial manner for maximum distribution. In U.S. Pat. No. 5,178,327 (Palamand, et al) a scent dispenser is disclosed that include a wheel that can be positioned to allow the scent/fragrance to emanate there from. While this device is compact and can be used in small spaces, it does not teach the use of an automatically sequenced dispensing of fragrance that is synchronized with the use of a toilet.
The use of a remote control to program a dispenser is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,267,297 (Contadini, et al) where the actuation of the dispenser relies on a programmable controller. There are no inputs to the controller that rely upon the actuation of the toilet; the invention in this case is capable of reacting to a set schedule for the dispensing of a fragrance.
U.S. Design Pat. No. 293,366 (O'Neill, Jr., et al) shows the ornamental appearance of a scent dispenser that has a roughly cylindrical shape. U.S. Pat. No. 5,624,230 (Taylor, et al) teaches the use of a scent dispenser that is integrally installed into a ceiling fan. While there is a radial component to the distribution of the scent it is a constant distribution and not keyed to any particular operation. In addition, the device could not reasonably be used in the bathroom owing to the limited space constraints in the average bathroom.
Lastly, a prior art device of some interest is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,298,500 (Sollami) where the toilet seat forms part of a forced air ventilation system. In FIG. 1, an exhaust fan 14 is disclosed that is connected by ducting to the toilet seat and allows for the remote exhausting of odors and the like. This device does not teach the use of an odor dispenser or the means to remotely trip the scent dispenser.
The problem has persisted where the need for odor control is substantially contemporaneous with the use of the toilet Many prior art devices do not show this relationship between the need and the activation of a scent dispenser. In addition, some prior art devices rely on being in close proximity with the scent dispenser, in part to allow the device to be synchronized with toilet fiction. A simple natural fact though defeats this approach since most odors arise from volatiles (gases) that quickly become distributed above and about the area of the toilet thus scent dispensing immediately in the area of the toilet is not effective in knocking down or masking the odors that proliferate throughout the bathroom (and other similar types of spaces). Ideally the dispensing of the odor control is done in a way to maximize the broadcast of the chemistry. In some cases the odor control chemistry merely masks the odor with a stronger scent, in other cases it may contain chemistry designed to combat bacteria, and lastly, combinations of chemistry may be used. In any event, the need is to distribute the chemistry as much as possible in as short as time as possible in order to defeat the odors.
The need to distribute the odor control chemistry over a fairly large broadcast area is at odds with the strategies that would place the odor control near the toilet itself. Whether such systems are programmable or whether they work from some reaction to the use of the toilet, the placement near the toilet is done for the convenience of the person(s) who service the odor control device and also to reduce the need for hard wiring or the like if the dispenser is to be located at distances away from the toilet. Thus the use of a strategy for remote dispensing that is reactive to toilet use is something that has been avoided in the prior art because it represented a logic fault when trying to render the scent dispenser functional.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention, as will be seen below, accomplishes the objectives of remote dispensing that is reactive to the use of the toilet. This novel approach results in a more efficient distribution of the odor control chemistry and an enhancement in the environment in the bathroom
A new air freshener for a bathroom is disclosed and is comprised of a remote dispenser unit and a sending unit, where the sending unit senses the usage of the toilet and then wirelessly sends a signal to the remote dispenser thereby activating a broadcast spray of air freshener. The remote dispenser further includes a receiver for receiving the signal, a reservoir for holding the air freshener chemistry, a spray pump and a spray nozzle for pumping the air freshener chemistry from the reservoir and then through the spray nozzle. Contemporaneous to the spraying of the air freshener chemistry, the remote dispenser also includes a drive for rotating that portion of the remote dispenser that includes the spray nozzle in order to provide radial distribution of the air freshener chemistry.
The remote dispenser of the present invention is preferably mounted to the ceiling of the area to be treated with air freshener, in such a manner as to maximize the broadcast of the chemistry.
The sending unit of the present invention is installed in the tank of the subject toilet and includes a level sensing portion that is reactive to the flushing of the toilet. The sending unit includes a transmitter capable of transmitting a signal to the receiver of the remote dispenser and the signal is transmitted in response to the reaction of the level sensing portion whenever the toilet is flushed Preferably the sending unit is integrated with level sensing portion and transmitter portion into a compact package that can be covertly installed within the tank of the toilet.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Preferably the air freshener system of the present invention is powered by batteries.
FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a toilet with a tank and bowl all shown in phantom, disclosing the sending unit of the present invention as installed in the toilet tank and also disclosing the remote dispenser of the present invention in an installed position within a bathroom space.
FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the sending unit of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view of the sending unit of FIG. 2, taken along Section Lines 3-3.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of the remote dispenser of FIG. 1 disclosing the housing and the base.
A novel air-freshener system for use in maximizing odor control in spaces such as a bathroom, the air freshener system shown generally in FIG. 1 in association with the toilet assembly 10, the toilet bowl 12, the toilet tank 14, and the toilet tank top 16. The toilet tank 14 also includes the flush handle 18. Water supply to the toilet assembly 10 is accomplished by the supply line 20 which includes the shut-off valve 22. All in all, the toilet assembly 10 represents a conventional flush toilet and the references herein to the toilet assembly 10 are meant to generally apply to toilets of all kinds where the teachings of the present invention would apply.
The components of the air freshener system of the present invention are disclosed as the remote dispenser portion 30 and the sending unit portion 40. The remote dispenser 30 includes the spray head 32, the housing 34, the base 36 and spray 38 is shown as emanating from the spray head 32. The sending unit 40 includes the activation module 42, and the antenna portion 44. Although not labeled, the signal from the antenna portion 44 to the remote dispenser 30 is shown as a jagged line between the two.
Turning now to FIG. 2 more detail is revealed about the sending unit 40 including the power module 50 and the float 52, which together comprise the activation module 42. Further, the module shaft 54 is shown with shaft end 56 and shaft top 58. Lastly, the battery access 59 is shown. More detail relating to the sending unit 40 is shown in the cross sectional view in FIG. 3, which includes the antenna wire 60, the battery 62, the CPU/transmitter 64, the level sensor 66 and the proximity detector 68. In addition, the proximity lead 70 is shown running between the proximity detector 68 and the CPU/transmitter 64, the antenna lead 72 is shown as running between the antenna wire 60 and the CPU/transmitter 64, and the battery lead 74 is shown as running between the battery 62 and the CPU/transmitter 64.
In FIG. 4, the remote dispenser 30 is disclosed and includes the odor control chemistry reservoir 80, the spray pump and drive motor 8Z, the pump intake 84, the spray line 86 and the spray nozzle 88. The remote dispenser 30 also includes the receiver 90, the battery 92, the receiver power lead 94, the receiver output lead 96, the pump power lead 98. The housing fitting 100 is shown as interconnected with the base fitting 102. In the cross sectional view it is understood that the housing fitting 100 and the base fitting 102 are disk-like components and are slideably engaged to allow for rotation. The drive 104 is connected to the spray pump drive motor 82 by means of the drive shaft 106. Located on the base 36 is the drive flange 108 which contacts and is engaged by the drive 104. The mounting flange 110 extends out from the drive flange 108 and allows the base portion 34 to be mounted to a surface such as the ceiling in a bathroom. This can be achieved by using mounting screws (not shown) which can be inserted into through-holes that are formed or drilled into the mounting flange 110. Lastly, the spray head 32 includes the nozzle skirt 112 and the nozzle sheath 114.
As may be appreciated from FIG. 1, the present invention allows the remote dispenser 30 and the sending unit 40 to be placed at a distance from each other. This is advantageous for the reason the odor control chemistries (whether these are fragrances, or antimicrobials, or combinations of each) can be dispersed from the remote dispenser 30 from a height above the toilet assembly 10 allowing for a more generalized broadcast of the chemistry. In addition, the remoter dispenser 30 includes a housing portion 34 that rotates independently from the base portion 36 by means of the drive 104 which engages the drive flange 108. The drive 104 receives its power from the spray pump and driver motor 82 which does double service in order to conserve space. The base 36 and the housing 34 are coupled together by the housing fitting 100 and the base fitting 102, and this coupling can be improved through the use of bearings and/or lubrication in order to reduce the frictional load on the drive 104.
The spray pump and drive motor 82 is actuated by the receipt of a signal by the receiver 90 which then opens a timed switch energizing the spray pump and motor drive 82. The preferred method of use is to have the actuation persist for a time equal to at least one complete rotation of the housing 34 about the base 36. While so doing, the spray pump portion of the spray pump and drive motor 82 is drawing up odor control chemistry from the reservoir 80 and ejecting it out through the spray nozzle 88 where it is atomized Thus a spray is emitted in a radial pattern about the housing 34. Inasmuch as the remote dispenser 30 is mounted on the ceiling, the distribution of the spray will fall from the radial pattern downwardly. If there are no obstructions, the odor control chemistry will be broadcast over a very large area as compared to prior art devices that eject spray from a stationery point location. The pattern of the broadcast can be adjusted somewhat by positioning the spray nozzle 88 on the spray head 32. The spray nozzle 88 is molded as one piece with the nozzle skirt 112 which fits into a corresponding sleeve within the spray head 32 that is identified as the nozzle skirt sheath 114. The nozzle skirt 112 does not completely take up the clearance within the sheath 114 thus allowing the nozzle 88 some adjustability. The redirection of the nozzle 88 by the user can therefore optimize the broadcast of the odor control chemistry.
Turning now to the sending unit 40, the float module 52 is free to slide up and down the module shaft 54 until it meets the shaft end 56 which is represented in the drawings as a capped end, on the down stroke, and until it contacts the power module 50 on the upstroke. The float module 52 will react to the water level in the toilet tank 14 thus when the toilet 10 is flushed, the water level will decrease and the float module 52 will move from its normally close proximity to the power module 50 to a lower level as indicated in FIG. 3. This action has the effect of moving the level sensor 66 in and out of range of the proximity detector 68. In actuality, these two components may be merely a magnet and a proximity switch respectively, but the function that is achieved in any event is the generation of a signal by the proximity detector 68 that then causes the CPU/transmitter 64 to emit a wireless signal for transmission to the remote dispenser 30. The signal that is generated is typically a low energy radio signal that will be compatible for receipt by a unit that is calibrated to the same frequency and which is relatively close by. Other types of signals could be generated, such as an infared signal, but in some cases this would require a line-of-sight connection between the sending unit 40 and the remote dispenser 30. The signal is imparted to the antenna 60 which is housed within the antenna portion 44 which is generally an extension of the module shaft 54. The module shaft 54 turns into the shaft end 58-and-then, the antenna portion 60 is bent to roughly correspond to the rear wall of the toilet tank 14 from which it can be hung. This results in a single unit that is autonomous and out of sight when installed. Except for the occasional battery change, the sending unit 40 will be out of mind,
As is apparent from the foregoing, the present invention reacts to the flushing of the toilet by emitting a signal from the sending unit 40 which is received by the remote dispenser 30 which then reacts by spraying an odor control chemistry in a radial pattern. The synchronization of the two components achieves an end result that is far superior to the results of devices known in the prior art
The preferred embodiment utilizes an odor control chemistry that can be replenished when needed by the user Access to the interior of the housing 34 can be gained by any number of methods including sliding panels or access doors, or provisions can be made to allow for the disengagement of the housing 34 from the base 36 altogether. These aspects of the present invention are well known in the art and do not specifically form a part of the present invention. The odor control chemistry can be substituted for any type of chemistry that is desired to be distributed in this fashion. For instance, in some locations such as in a hospital surgery room, it may be advisable to have a device that lays down a spray of antibiotic chemistry. The spray can be coordinated with the generation of a signal whenever a door is opened, for instance, which would require only very little modification of the preferred embodiment.
Typically the housing 34 and base 36 of the air freshener system of the present invention can be fabricated from plastic resin that is formed through an injection molded process. The bulk of the structure of the sending unit 40 can similarly be fabricated from plastic components. The balance of those components is typically purchased as individual parts and brought together to form the assembly.
It is noted that the mounting of the remote dispenser 30 on the ceiling in a bathroom may not always be possible or advisable. In that event, the remote dispenser 30 can be mounted onto a wall and the spray nozzle 88 be adjusted accordingly for maximum broadcast of the spray.
These and other attributes and benefits of the present invention can be practiced by one skilled in the art with such modifications and variations as may be logically advanced, and no limitation on the scope of the present invention is intended by the teachings herein.