|Publication number||US3864676 A|
|Publication date||Feb 4, 1975|
|Filing date||Sep 10, 1973|
|Priority date||Sep 10, 1973|
|Also published as||CA1010953A, CA1010953A1, DE2442065A1|
|Publication number||US 3864676 A, US 3864676A, US-A-3864676, US3864676 A, US3864676A|
|Inventors||Macias Helene, Winke Angos|
|Original Assignee||Macias Helene, Winke Angos|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (14), Referenced by (53), Classifications (10), Legal Events (1)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
United States Patent r191 Macias et a1,
1111- 3,864,676 1 51' Feb. 4,1975
[ MOISTURE DETECTOR  Inventors: Helene Macias; Angos Winke, both of 1535 N. Serrano Ave., Hollywood, Calif. 90027  Filed: Sept. 10, 1973  Appl. No.: 395,722
 US. Cl 340/235, 324/71 R, 128/138 A  Int. Cl. G08b 21/00, A6lb 19/00  Field of Search; 324/71 R; 340/235;
 ReferencesCited I i UNITED'STATES PATENTS,
2,687,721 8/1954 Ellison 200/6105 2,812,757 l1/1957 Lusk et al 2,866,454 12/1958 McKenzie 2,874,695 2/1959 Vaniman.....
2,907,841 10/1959 Campbell....
3,025,858 3/1962 Browner 3,218,542 11/1965 Taylor 3,441,019 4/1969 Snyder.....
3,460,123 8/1969 Bass 340/235 3,480,010 11/1969 Crossley 128/132 3,530,855 9/1970 Balding 340/235 X 3,675,051 7/1972 Mioduski. 307/308 3,696,357 10/1972 Kilgore 340/235 3,758,855 9/1973 Meyer 324/65 R Primary ExaminerAlfred E. Smith Assistant Examiner-Rolf Hille Attorney, Agent, or FirmNilsson, Robbins, Bissell, Dalgarn & Berliner  ABSTRACT An elongated sensor is longitudinally crimped to prothe conductors across the high impedance input of a signaling circuit to activate an indicator when the two conductors are shorted together.
10 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures 1 a I MOISTURE DETECTOR BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Previously no satisfactorysystem has been developed for automatically detecting and monitoring the enuresis of children, invalids and others who are incapable of controlling such body functions. Such a system is needed to indicate the need for changing wet clothing which, if left unattended, is not only uncomfortable but frequently causes skin irritations. Prior systems have employed sensors having wire screens between layers of absorbent material or a pair of metal clips connected to the users clothing. Since these wire screens are relatively expensive to manufacture, they are not economically disposable, and are also very diflcult to clean and sanitize properly since they must be removed from the surrounding material. In addition, various sizes need to be manufactured if the device is to be incorporated into an article of clothing, such as a pair of pants. if the wire screens are placed between layers of bedding, they must cover most of the bed in order to insure that they will be under the user wherever he rests.
The metal clip sensors-employ two metal electrodes clipped on opposite sides of a garment .in the users crotch area. These are not only uncomfortable due to their rigid construction and bulk, but tend to deform and deteriorate with repeated cleanings until like the wire screen sensors. they eventuallyrmust be replaced.
Moreover, the electricalsensing circuits employed with the previous devices required voltage and current levelsof questionable safety to the user.
With the present invention, however, these problems are solved by providing an elongated, soft, flexible sensor which is self-positioning in the users crotch and which may be cut to any desired length. This sensor is inexpensive and is adapted for quick and convenient disposal and replacement, thus eliminating the inconvenience of cleaning and sanitizing. Because of its small transverse dimensions, elongated shape and the soft outer covering, the sensor is very comfortable to wear. A connector is detachably secured to one end of the sensor to. provide electrical connection to a high input impedance signaling circuit that operates on very low power with almost no current flow between the conductors whenshorted by the conductive fluid.
' SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION A moisture detector is provided for sensing and indicating the flow in a specified region. The'sensor consists of two closely spaced elongated conductors, each surrounded by an elongated 'po-rous tube providing in-. sulation between the conductors until thepresence of fluid on the sensor electrically shorts the two conductors together. A signaling circuit connected to the sensor actuates an appropriate indicator whenthe short between the conductors occurs.
In one embodiment of the invention, the two wire the conductor base and cover are closed together. In.
this manner, each conductor makes electrical contact with one of the spiked rails which are in turn electrically connected through a battery powered signaling circuit to an indicator. When an electrical short occurs between the twoconductors, the high impedance input to the signaling circuit results in a current flow of a few microamperes or less between the conductors, thus in-' BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The invention may best be understood when considered in light of the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein: FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one preferred form of the sensor in accordance with the invention;
-. sensor and display elements in accordance with the invention; and
FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram illustrating another signaling circuit for use in an improved form of the inven- DETAILED DESCRIPTION FIG. 1 shows a preferred form of moisturesensor 10 which includes two electrical conductors l2 and 14 encased in an elongated tube of woven or matted material having its two walls longitudinally stitched or crimped together at l6forming an enclosure 18 and 20 surrounding each of the conductors 12 and 14 respectively. The stitching 16 electrically isolates the two conductors from each other until an electrically conductive fluid, such as urine, closes the gap between them forming an electrical connection'or short through the woven material across stitching l6. Sensor 10 is preferably constructed with its largest transverse dimension.
less than about three-eighths inches, and the fabric is a loosely-wovencotten or the like that is soft and porous to facilitate passage of a fluid to the conductors but which is also non-absorbent so that small amounts of moisture, such as from perspiration, do not reach the conductors to cause a short and thereby'render a false indication. The conductors 12 and 14 are composed of metal wires, such as stainless steel, that do not rapidly deteriorate or react with the fluids encountered.
The desired length of sensor 10 may be easily cut from a roll with a scissors or the like when it is time to replace a wetted length with a clean, dry length of sensor. Because of its elongated configuration-and small transverse dimensions, the sensor positioned in or near a users crotch will tend to work into the crotch area and automatically remain in position during the wear-- ers movements. The thin tubular construction and soft outer covering provide a sensor which is extremely comfortable when in position. The sensor may alternativelyv be secured to either the user or his clothing with clips, a strip of adhesive or the like along one side of the seam I6;
1 When the sensor 10 becomes saturated with fluid,'or at any other appropriate time, the sensor may be removed an replaced by another clean length thus avoiding time-consuming and expensive d'isassembly, cleaning and sanitizing of the sensor assembly. The disposable and replaceable feature of this sensor is made possible by its inexpensive and simple construction and the detachable connector to be described.
Connector 22, shown in FIG. 2, electrically connects the conductors 12 and 14 to the signaling circuit (FIGS. 4 and 5) and display clip 52 shown in FIG. 3. The end of sensor fits into a recess 26 to position each conductor 12 and 14 over one of two parallel spaced spiked metal rails 28 that are fixed on the upper surface of recess 26 in connector base 24. The spikes extend upward to pierce the ends of the sensor tubes 18 and 20 inserted in recess 26 upon closing a hinged connector cover 30. Contact bars 32 carried on the underside of cover are positioned to mate with the spiked rails 28 and force the sensortubes 18 and 20 downward onto the spikes that penetrate the tube fabric to make electrical contact with conductors l2 and 14 while mechanically gripping and holding the sensor. A central bar 36 presses against the stitching 16 to insure electrical isolation between the conductors.
The connector body 24 and the cover 30 with contact bars 32 and 36 are both integrally moled of an insulating material, such as hard plastic or the like. An integral thin flexible strip 34, composed of the same plastic material, can hinge the base 24 and cover 30 together thus permitting an integral connector unit 22. Bars 32 and 36 are formed with inward facing undercut projections 38 arranged to engage mating notches 40 formed in the inner wall of recess 26 to secure the cover and base together when the cover is closed. The flexible strip hinge 34 permits a slight outward movement of the cover 30 on closure so that the projections 38 slide forward in clearing the recess wall and are then pulled back into the notches 40. The cover can be reopened by simply prying upward with a thumbnail between the cover and base.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, recesses 42 formed in base 24 receive batteries which will be part of the electrical circuit described hereinafter.
' Other suitable receptacles (not shown) may be formed in connector base 24 to house the electrical circuit components which are electrically connected to the underside of the rails 28. Aperture 44 in the rear corner of the base provides access for leads 46 and 48 to connect the electrical components deployed in the connector with display clip 52 shown in FlG. 3.
Connector22 may be secured to'a users clothing or to an adjacent location by means ofa clip, adhesive, or the like (not shown) applied to the underside of the base 24.
Electrical leads 46 and 48 from connector 22 pass through aperture 56 of relatively flat, thin display clip.
52 and into concave recess 54 in the lower side of the display clip where electrical connections are made and thereafter sealed by filling recess 54 with epoxy or the like to prevent damage to the electrical connections. Lead 48 and wire 59 provide electrical connection through light emitting diode 58. Stop 64, electrically connected to the other lead 46, provides part of a normally open switch that closes to allow current flow through light emitting diode 58'to indicate a short across conductors 12 and 14. This switch is closed by moving wiper 62 across electrode rail 60 thathas one end electrically connected to diode 58 by wire 59, until contact is made with stop 64. Wiper 62 is an extension of spring 66 mounted in the central portion of clip 52 and held in position by threaded retaining screw 68 which screws into the clip body. Spring 66 biases wiper arm 62 in a position normally spaced from stop 64 so that no indication of a short between conductors 12 and 14 will occur until a person checking for that condition pushes wiper 62 across electrode 60 against stop 64. The wiper springs back into a position spaced from stop 64 upon being released. Spring 66, wiper 62, electrode 60 and stop 64 are all composed of an electrically conductive material, such as stainless steel or the like.
Display clip 52 may be secured to the clothing of the user, to a wall, or to some other convenient place by means of a fastener, adhesive or the like (not shown) applied to the back of the clip.
Referring now to FIG. 4, one form of sensing circuit that may be employed consists of a simple transistor switching arrangement. The open circuit maintained in the absence of fluid shorting the conductors l2 and 14 results in the base of transistor 80, which is connected to the negative terminal of battery 84 through resistor 88, being held at that negative potential to cut off the cascade connected transistors and 82. In this conditions, no current can flow through the light emitting diode 58 although the switch arm 62 is closed on stop 64. However, when fluid electrically shorts conductors 12 and 14 together, circuit through resistors 86 and 88 is closed across battery 84 to produce a positive bias on the base of transistor 80 to render it conductive. thus driving the base of transistor 82 positive. If switch arm 62 is closed, transistor 82 switches to saturation causing current to flow through the light emitting diode 58. Thus, the circuit does not provide actuating current through the diode 58 unless an electrically conductive fluid shorts the conductors 12 and 14 while switch arm 62 is closed against stop 64. In this manner, battery 84 is conserved since current can flow only when the switch is closed to check for the presence of fluid. A current flow of only a fraction of a microampere or less can be maintained through conductors l2 and 14 for the users safety and to increase the life of the battery power supply by selecting resistors 86 and 88 to have relatively large impedances, such as 18 and 22 megohms respectively, while battery 84 has a relatively low voltage, such as 2.8 volts.
Referring now to FIG. 5, an improved form of the sensing circuit is particularly suitedfor use in large installations, such as hospitals and nursing homes, where a number of patients must be monitored and attended for this condition. In such situations, each sensor may be connected to a separate display device, such as light emitting diode 58, mounted in an adjacent wall receptacle or more conveniently on a central patientcall board, which might also employ other types of indicators, such as an audible bell or buzzer, to attract the attention of the attendant. Also, the sensing circuit might be used to trigger a radio transmitter to actuate an appropriate signal or other indicator at some remote centralstation. The primary advantage of the improved circuit, as illustrated in FIG. 5, ,is the provision of a latching and touch reset feature that conserves the valuable time of busy medical attendants.
With the improved circuit, the normally open circuit between the sensor conductors 12 and 14 maintains a positive bias on gate terminal 94 to permit low impedance conduction between the source 96"and drain 98 terminals of field effect transistor (FET) 100. As in the previouscircuit of FIG. 4, actuating current flow for requires closure of the switch arm 62 against the stop emitter 106 terminals of a switching transistor 108 connected in series across the battery power supply 110.
The drain terminal 98 of the FET 100 is coupled to the common point between series connected resistors 112 and 114, which are also in series with input resistor 116, thus forming a three part voltage divider across the battery 110. The relative values of the resistors 112, 114 and 116, typically 7.5, 56.0 and about l0 kilohms or less, respectively, are selected to develop a forward bias potential across input resistor 116 when the FET 100 is cutoff in a non-conductive state, sufficient to cause switching transistor 108 to conduct in saturation.
However, the FET 100 is initially placed in its conductive state by temporarily connecting two reset terminals 118 and 120, which may simply be two adjacent exposed contact surfaces that can be spanned by touch ing a fingertip to the area. Since the reset terminal 118 is directly coupled to the positive terminal on the battery 110, this potential is thus applied on reset to the gate terminal 94 of the FET 100 to render it conductive. The FET source terminal 96 is coupled to the common point between a pair of' other voltage divider resistors 122 and 124 connected across the battery 110. The values for the resistors 122 and 124, typically 1 kilohm and 330 ohms respectively, are substantially less than those employed in the other'voltage divider arrangement consisting of the resistors 112, 114 and 116. Also the resistor 122 connected to the positive battery terminal is several times larger than that of the resistor 124 to provide a significantly lower or more negative potential at the source 96. Accordingly, when the FET 100 is cutoff, the higher voltage between the resistors 112 and 114 is present at the drain terminal 98 to hold the field effect transistor 100 in its forward biased state relative to the lower potentialon the source terminal 96. On the other hand, when FET 100 is rendered conducting, the less positive potential, which is obtained from the lower impedance divider resistors 122 and 124, becomes coupled through the FET drain to source circuit, thus lowering the potential at the common point between the resistors 112 and 114. In this situation, the bias potential developed across the remaining divider resistor 116 drops below the cutoff level needed to maintain the transistor 108 in its conductive state thus cutting off further actuating current flow through the light emitting diode 58.
A very high impedance resistor 126, typically as much as megohm s, is placed in series between the sensor conductors 12 and 14 and the FET gate' terminal 94 and is further coupled through a small capacitor 128. typically about 0.01 microfarads, to the positive terminal of the battery llO. Momentary contact between the normally open reset terminals H8 and 120 thus stores a positive charge on thecapacitor l28 to hold a positive potential on the FET gate 94. With the FET maintained in its conducting condition, the
switching transistor [08 remains cutoff. Subsequent sisto'r l26, and the negative potential from the battery 1 l0 applied to the gate terminal 94 cuts off FET 100. This disconnects the drain terminal98 fromthe lower potential at the source terminal 96 to reestablish the much higher potential level between the resistors 1 l2 and 1 14, thus also raising the forward bias level developed across the resistor ll6. The transistor 108 thus conducts in saturation to actuate the light emitting diode 58,. provided that the switch arm contact 62 is closed against the stop 64. The negative charge on capacitor l28 holds gate terminal 94 negative to cut off FET l00 so that the light indication continues until noticed by an attendant. Upon correcting the situation and replacing the sensor element, the attendant may then merely touch exposed contacts 118 and 120 to reset the circuit by discharging the negative charge on the capacitor l28 and leaving a positive charge that holds FET conducting and transistor I08 cutoff until the sensor conductors 112 and H4 are again shorted together by a conductive fluid.
Thus, the invention provides an easily replaceable,
' disposable sensor which is sanitary and comfortable to wear. Disposal of the sensoris facilitated by a detachable connector which conveniently fastens to one end of the sensor and at the same time establishes electrical connection between the sensor and the device for indicating the flow of fluid over the sensor.
It will be understood that the disclosed embodiments of this invention are presented by way of preferred examples, but may be modified in various'ways to employ different materials and configurations, all within the scope of this invention.
What is claimed is:
1. A portable moisture detector for sensing and indicating the flow of fluid in a specified region, comprisa sensor portable with the body of the user comprising'two closely spaced, elongated, flexible conductors, each conductor being enclosed in a soft, po-
rous sheath separating the conductors from each other and from the users body to normally provide electrical isolation between the conductors but allowing an electrical short between them in the presence of a bridgingfluid;
signal generator and alarm means electrically connected to said sensor to provide an indication of a short between said conductors; and
an electrically insulated connector for receiving one end of said sensor and providing said electrical connection between said sensor and said signal generator and alarm means, said connector comprising a slotted connector base, a connector cover, and means for providing an enclosedelectrical connection between said sensor and said signal generator and alarm means and for mechanically gripping and supporting the end of said sensor inserted into the connector slot when the connector cover is closed. I
2. A moisture detector as defined in claim 1 wherein,
said electrical connection and mechanical gripping means comprises a pair of electrically conductive 3. A portable moisture detector for sensing and indicating the flow ofa fluid in a specified region as defined in claim 2, wherein said sheath is composed of a nonabsorbent material longitudinally crimped to provide said electrical isolation between the conductors.
4. A portable moisture detector for sensing and indicating the flow of fluid in a specified region as defined in claim 3. wherein means are provided along at least one side of said crimping for removably attaching the sensor in the specified region 5. A portable moisture detector as defined in claim 4 wherein said attaching means are removably secured to material adjacent the specified region.
6. A portable, self-positioning moisture detector for sensing and indicating the flow of fluid in users crotch region, comprising:
an elongated, disposable sensor portable with the users body in the crotch region comprising two closely spaced, flexible conductors enclosed in an elongated, porous, non-absorbent sheath of soft, non-conductive material, said sheath being crimped longitudinally between the conductors to normally provide electrical isolation from the users body and between the conductors but allowing an electrical short between the conductors in the presence of a bridging fluid,
the largest transverse sensor dimension being less than about one inch, whereby, due to the sensor's elongated, narrow dimensions and soft, flexible construction, the sensor remains substantially positioned in the users crotch near the area of fluid discharge when worn and is readily cut into shorter lengths; an electrically insulated connector for receiving one end of said sensor and providing electrical connection to said sensor, said connector including a pair of electrically conductive spiked rails spaced apart in an slotted connector base and at least two raised bars mounted on a connector cover, each bar being aligned with an opposed one of said rails to press the spikes thereof through an aligned sheath and into contact with the enclosed sensor connector when the cover is closed, whereby the connector supports and hold the end of said sensor inserted into the connector slot in a positive mechanical grip when the connector cover is closed and provides an enclosed electrical connection between said sensor and said spiked rails; an alarm electrically connected through a switch to said rails; and
signal generator means electrically connected to actuate said alarm when said conductors are shorted together. said signal generator means having a high input impedance and a low power input so that current flow through said conductors when shorter together is one microampere or less.
7. A portable moisture detector for sensing and indicating the flow of fluid in the users crotch region as defined in claim 6 wherein,
said conductors are wires, and further comprising:
an adhesive strip along one side of said crimping for removably attaching said sensor to the users clothing adajcent the crotch area. 8. A portable moisture detector for sensing and indicating the flow of fluid in the users crotch region as defined in claim 7 wherein,
said connector slot is about the same width as the sensors largest transverse dimension whereby each conductor is aligned with one of said conductive rails, and further comprising:
a third raised bar mounted on said cover between said two bars to press the crimped portion of said sensor against the base, whereby electrical isolation between the conductors is ensured and the conductors are prevented from moving out of alignment with said rails.
9. A portable moisture detector for sensing and indicating the flow of fluid in the user's crotch region as defined in claim 8 wherein said connector wires consist of a material which is inert when contacted by expecte fluids.
10. A portable moisture detector for sensing and indicating the flow of fluid in the user's crotch region as defined in claim 8 wherein,
said signal generator means includes a battery power source and said alarm and switch are connected in series with the positive battery terminal. said signal generator means further comprising;
a transistor having its collector and emitter connected to said switch and to the negative battery terminal respectively, the base of said transistor being connected through first and second resistors to the positive and negative battery terminals respectively, said second resistor having a greater resistance than said first resistor;
a field effect transistor having its source connected through third and fourth resistors to the positive and negative battery terminals respectively, said third resistor having a greater resistance than said fourth resistor, the drain terminal of said F.E.T. being connected tothe base of said transistor so that the potential at the transistor base is below its operating potential when said F.E.T. is conducting to terminate'current flow through the alarm.
a first one of said conductors being connected to the negative battery terminal and to the F.E.T. source through said fourth resistor while the second conductor is connected to the F.E.T. gate through a fifth resistor whereby a short between the two conductors imposes a negative potential at said gate to render the F.E.T. non-conducting and switch said transistor to its conducting state so that current flows through said alarm; and
a second switch having a first terminal connected to the F.E.T. gate through a capacitor and to the positive battery terminal and having a second switch' terminal connected to said fifth resistor and directly to the F.E.T. gate, whereby an electrical short across the second switch terminals discharges any previous negative potential maintained by said capacitor at the F.E.T. gate and provides the battery positive potential directly to said gate thereby rendering the F.E.T. conducting and concurrently reducing the potential at the transistor base below its'operating level to switch off said alarm.
UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION PATENT N0. 3,86 L676 DATED FEBRUARY u, 19.7s INVENTOR(S) HELENE MACIAS; ANGOS WINKE It is certified that error appears in the abnve-identified patent and that said Letters Patent is hereby corrected as shown below:
On the Title page Item 76 (lnventorsz). in line-2,
change "1535 N. Serrano Ave.," to
"5333 Russell Ave., Suite 301,-'-;
in line 3, v I
change "Hollywood," to
Signedand Sealed this a Twenty-third Day of February, 1993 Attest:
STEPHEN G. KUNIN Arresting Officer Acting Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks
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|WO1999024145A1 *||Sep 11, 1998||May 20, 1999||Aksys, Ltd.||Blood line separation warning device for extracorporeal circuits|
|U.S. Classification||600/382, 324/71.1, 128/886, 340/604|
|International Classification||A61F13/15, A61F5/48, G01V3/02, G01N27/00|