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Title:
AUTOMATIC RETURN TOILET SEAT APPARATUS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1995/010971
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An automatic return toilet seat apparatus (1) responsive to the presence and absence of a person standing adjacent to a toilet bowl (2). The toilet seat apparatus (1) includes a spring (60) to initiate descent of a toilet seat and a spring locking mechanism (70) to selectively restrain the action of the spring (60). The spring locking mechanism (70) is activated in response to person standing adjacent to a toilet bowl and deactivated in response to a person moving away from the toilet bowl by a photodetector switch (30) disposed in the toilet seat. In a further embodiment of the present invention the spring locking mechanism (70) is controlled by a compressible mat assembly (90) disposed on the floor adjacent to the toilet bowl (2).

Inventors:
Abdallah
Iman
'al-Amin
Application Number:
PCT/US1994/012066
Publication Date:
April 27, 1995
Filing Date:
October 20, 1994
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Abdallah
Iman
'al-Amin
International Classes:
A47K13/10; (IPC1-7): A47K13/10
Foreign References:
US2999191A
US4491989A
US3337992A
US4196481A
US4995120A
US4338690A
US4756031A
US4055864A
US4309781A
US3284810A
US5311619A
US4007499A
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS
1. An automatic return trilet seat apparatus adaptable to a toilet seat to automatically lower a toilet seat from an open, substantially vertical position to a closed, substantially horizontal position, said apparatus comprising a seat descent initiator; a seat descent initiator lock to selectively restrain operation of the seat descent initiator; and initiator lock control means to selectively control operation of the seat descent initiator lock, said initiator lock control means being disposed in a first position by the presence of a person standing adjacent to the toilet seat apparatus, said initiator lock control means being disposed in a second position by the person moving away from the toilet seat apparatus.
2. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 1 further including seat rateofdescent control means adapted to be attached to the toilet seat to control the rate of descent of said toilet seat.
3. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 2 wherein said seat rateofdescent control means is adapted to be attached to a seat portion of the toilet seat and said seat descent initiator, said seat descent initiator lock and said initiator lock control means are adapted to be attached to a lid portion of a said toilet seat.
4. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said seat descent initiator comprises at least one spring.
5. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said seat descent initiator lock comprises selectively retractable locking means.
6. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 5 wherein said retractable locking means comprises retractable pin means and pin retaining means, said retractable pin means being selectively engageable with said pin retaining means.
7. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 5 wherein said retractable locking means comprises retractable pin means selectively engageable with the seat descent initiator.
8. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said initiator lock control means comprises photosensitive control means.
9. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 8 wherein said photosensitive control means comprises a photodetector switch adapted to be attached to the toilet seat.
10. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 8 wherein said photosensitive control means comprises a light beam emitter disposed in a first portion of a toilet seat and a photosensor disposed in a second portion of the toilet seat, said light beam emitter and said photosensor communicating at a point immediately to the fore of the toilet seat.
11. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said initiator lock control means comprises hydromechanical control means.
12. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said initiator lock control means comprises hydraulic control means.
13. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 1 wherein said initiator lock control means comprises mechanical control means.
14. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus comprising a lid portion; a seat portion; said lid portion and said seat portion being pivotally attached to first and second anchor housings disposed at respective sides of said lid portion and said seat portion; a photodetector switch disposed in said seat portion, said photodetector switch being responsive to the presence and absence of a person standing adjacent to the toilet seat apparatus; a seat descent initiator disposed in at least one of said anchor housings to urge said lid portion forward; a seat descent initiator lock disposed in at least one of said anchor housing to selectively restrain the forward urging of said seat descent initiator, said seat descent initiator lock being controlled by said photodetector switch.
15. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 14 further including first and second circuit switches disposed respectively in the lid portion and the seat portion of the toilet seat apparatus, said first and second circuit switches interconnecting the seat descent initiator lock and the photodetector switch, said first and second circuit switches being selectively closed by raising the lid portion and the seat portion of the toilet seat apparatus from a closed, horizontal position.
16. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 14 further including a photodetector delay switch to delay operation of said photodetector switch.
17. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 14 further including seat rateofdescent control means adapted to be attached to the lid portion and the seat portion to control the rate of descent of the lid portion and the seat portion.
18. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 14 further including seat rateofdescent control means adapted to be attached to the lid portion to control the rate of descent of the lid portion.
19. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 14 further including seat rateofdescent control means adapted to be attached to the seat portion to control the rate of descent of the lid portion.
20. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 14 further including seat rateofdescent control means adapted to be attached to the seat portion to control the rate of descent of the seat portion.
21. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 14 further including seat rateofdescent control means adapted to be attached to the seat portion to control the rate of descent of the seat portion and the lid portion.
22. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus comprising a lid portion; a seat portion, said lid portion and said seat portion being pivotally attached to anchor housings disposed at respective sides of said lid portion and said seat portion; a seat descent initiator disposed in an anchor housing to selectively urge said lid portion forward for gravity fall; a seat descent initiator lock disposed in an anchor housing to selectively restrain the forward urging of said seat descent initiator; and descent initiator lock control means responsive to the presence and absence of a person standing adjacent to the toilet seat apparatus to control the selective restraining of said seat descent initiator lock.
23. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 22 wherein said descent initiator lock control means comprises a compressible mat disposable on a floor adjacent to a toilet bowl and operably connected to the seat descent initiator lock to selectively restrain the seat descent initiator when a person stands of said mat and to selectively release the seat descent initiator when a person moves from said mat.
24. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 22 further including seat rateofdescent control means comprising an arcuate hydraulic closure device.
25. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 22 wherein said anchor housings respectively comprise a housing member having a laterallyextend¬ ing, forward cylindrical socket for rotatable receipt of the seat portion and a laterallyextending, rear¬ ward cylindrical socket for rotatable receipt of the lid portion.
26. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 23 wherein said compressible mat is integrally formed with a rug.
27. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 23 wherein said compressible mat comprises a fluidfilled pouch including a piston slidably disposed therein, and a length of wire attached at a first end thereof to the piston and attached at a second end thereof to said seat descent initiator lock.
28. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 27 wherein said seat descent initiator lock comprises pin means selectively engageable with said seat descent initiator.
29. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 28 wherein said piston is rearwardly biased.
30. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 23 wherein said compressible mat comprises a luidfilled pouch having a length of tubing extending rherefrom, and a piston having pin means extending from said piston, said piston being slidably disposed in a distal end of said length of tubing.
31. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 23 wherein said compressible mat comprises a mechanical assembly having pin means disposed at a distal end of a length of wire, said pin means being selectively moveable forward by compression of said mechanical assembly.
32. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 24 wherein said arcuate hydraulic closure device comprises a first part attached to the first or second anchor housing and a second part attached to the seat portion, said second part being slidably receivable within said first part, said first part including an arcuate slot for receipt of a first end of the second part and a fluid chamber for receipt of a second end of said second part, a piston being pivotally attached to an arcuate piston support extending from the second end of said second part.
33. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus comprising a lid portion including first and second lid arms extending laterally from respective sides of the lid portion, each of said lid arms having a lid electrical contact attached to a portion of the respective first and second lid arms; a seat portion including first and second seat arms extending laterally from respective sides of the seat portion, each of said seat arms having a seat electrical contact attached to a portoion of the respectvie first and second seat arms; first and second anchor housings disposed on respective sides of the lid portion and the seat portion, said anchor housings respectively including a forward socket and a rearward socket, the first and second lid arms of said lid portion being rotatably receivable in the rearward socket of the respective anchor housings and the first and second seat arms being rotatably receivable in the forward socket of the respectibe anchor housings, said respective anchor housings including a first arcuate electrical strip contact disposed on a top wall of the forward socket and a second arcuate electrical strip contact disposed on a top wall of the rearward socket, said first arcuate strip contact and said second arcuate strip contact being conductively connected by a contact strip extending through said anchor housing, the lid contacts of said lid portion being brought into contact with the second electrical strip when the lid por on is raised from a horizontal position to a vertical position, the seat contacts of said seat portion being brought into contact with the first electrical strip contact when the seat portion is raised from a horizontal position to a vertical position; a seat descent initiator disposed in an anchor housing to urge said lid portion forward when said lid portion is raised from a horizontal posiiton to a vertial position, said seat descent initiator comprising a spring rotatably attached to a lid arm at a first end thereof and fixedly attached at a second end thereof to a spring peg formed in a lid end wheel attached to said lid arm, a spring detent being formed in said anchor housing adjacent to said spring to seelectively restrain rotation of said spring as the lid portion is raised from a horizontal position to a vertical position; a seat descent initiator lock disposed in an anchor housing comprising pin means selectively engageable with a pin slot defined by an inner wall of said anchor housing and a biased, oneway swinging door pivotally attached to said anchor housing to selectively restrain the forward urging of said spring; and descent initiator lock control means comprising photosensitive control means responsive to the presence and absence of a person standing adjacent the toilet seat apparatus, said photosensitive control means being selectively and operably connected to said pin means via the seat electrical contacts.
34. An automatic return toilet seat apparatus as in claim 1 comprising a lid portion including first and second lid arms extending laterally from respective sides of the lid portion; a seat portion including first and second seat arms extending laterally from respective sides of the seat portion; first and second anchor housings disposed on respective sides of the lid portion and the seat portion, said anchor housings respectively including a forward socket and a rearward socket, the first and second lid arms of said lid portion being rotatably receivable in the rearward socket of the respective anchor housings and the first and second seat arms being rotatably receivable in the forward socket of the respective anchor housings, said seat descent initiator being disposed in an anchor housing to selectively urge said lid portion forward, said seat descent initiator comprising a spring rotatably attached to a lid arm at a first end thereof and fixedly attached at a second end thereof to a spring peg formed in a lid end wheel attached to said lid arm, a spring detent being formed in said anchor housing adjacent to said spring to selectively restrain rotation of said spring as the lid portion is raised from a horizontal position to a vertical position; said seat descent initiator lock being disposed in an anchor housing, said seat descent initiator lock comprising pin means selectively engageable with a pin slot defined by an inner wall of said anchor housing and a biased, oneway swinging door pivotally attached to said anchor housing to selectively restrain the forward urging of said spring; and said initiator lock control means comprising a compressible floor mat disposed adjacent to the toilet seat apparatus, said compressible floor mat being selectivley and operably connected to said pin means.
Description:
DESCRIPTION AUTOMATIC RETURN TOILET SEAT APPARATUS

Technical Field

The present invention generally relates to toilet seats. More particularly, this invention relates to means to automatically return a toilet seat from an open, substantially vertical position to a closed, substantially horizontal position.

The complaints, arguments and problems associated with leaving a toilet s-^t in an upright, substantial¬ ly vertical position are legendary. A raised toilet seat presents opportunities for injury and discomfort, as well as user inconvenience.

Various means to return a toilet seat from its raised, vertical position to a horizontal position have been proposed in the art. To provide a toilet seat that automatically returns from an open position to a closed position three problems must be addressed:

(1) how to urge the seat forvard from its stable, resting position for gravity fall of the toilet seat,

(2) how to delay the fall of the toilet seat until the user is finished, and (3) how to control the rate of descent of the toilet seat to prevent damage to the seat. Preferably, the means to urge the toilet seat forward and the means to delay descent of the toilet seat operate cooperatively. This is the primary problem remaining unresolved in the prior art for the provision of a truly automatic return toilet seat.

Background Art Many devices and mechanisms to control the rate of descent of a toilet seat are known in the prior

art. For example, in U.S. Patent No. 5,222,260 to Piper there is disclosed a dampening mechanism comprising a spring-biased cam element cooperating with cam faces on a cover pivot shaft connected to move with the seat portion of a toilet seat. In U.S. Patent No. 4,853,983 to Grant the seat portion and the lid portion of a toilet seat are selectively raised and lowered by inflatable bags acting on an attached lever. Air is supplied to inflat the bags by foot bellows or a valved central low pressure air supply. A hydromechanical device for lowering a toilet seat is disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 5,193,230 to Guerty. Any of the widely known rate-of-descent control devices and mechanisms known in the prior art are suitable for the invention of the present disclosure.

The prior art has also disclosed various mechani¬ cal and resilient or spring-biasing means to urge a toilet seat forward so that it may fall under the force of gravity. The major problem unresolved in the prior art to provide a toilet seat that automatically returns from a raised, open position to a lowered, closed position is how to control or delay activation of the means to urge a toilet seat forward until the user is finished. For male users, the primary culprits of leaving a toilet seat in the open, raised position, this problem translates to providing means for urging a toilet seat forward that is responsive to the presence or absence of a person standing adjacent to the toilet seat. One approach to this problem is shown in U.S. Patent No. 4,887,322 to Lydon. The Lydon reference discloses an automatic toilet seat lowering apparatus comprising a resilient or spring¬ like mechanism attached to the inside of the lid

portion of the toilet seat. The resilient mechanism is compressed when the seat portion is raised to create a seat-repelling force that pushes the seat portion forward for gravity descent. The user is thus required to hold the seat in its upright position during use and thereby will be reminded to lower the seat after use.

Another approach in the prior art to resolving the problem of providing means to delay the start of descent of a toilet seat until the user is finished is to control the forward urging of the toilet seat by the flushing operation. In the aforementioned Piper reference the flow of water in a toilet tank during flushing operates a push pin to urge the toilet seat forward. U.S. Patent No. 4,291,422 to Shoemaker et al. disclose a valved hydraulic toilet seat utilizing the source of flushing water for hydraulically raising and lowering the toilet seat. U.S. Patent No. 4,491,989 to McGrail discloses a toilet seat closure device attached to the flushing handle of a toilet wherein when the toilet seat is manually raised it is locked in an open, upright position by a hinge-release mechanism. By flushing the toilet the hinge-release mechanism pivots laterally to release the toilet seat for forward urging by a biasing spring.

A tremendous limitation of automatic return toilet seats connected to the flushing operation is that they are not adaptable to existing toilets. The entire toilet must be replaced or at least the handle portion of a toilet. Toilet seat closure devices activated by the flushing operation are also generally structurally complex. Furthermore, automatic return toilet seats of this type are based on an objective

time standard for the start of descent. The lowering of a toilet seat preferably should be directly responsive to the individual user to avoid premature lowering. A toilet seat is generally raised to an upright, substantially vertical position only by a male user standing before the toilet. The toilet seat must remain upright only while the user stands before the toilet. When, and only when, the user is completely finished and moves away from the toilet should the toilet seat begin its descent. None of the prior art automatic return toilet seat devices provide for seat lowering means responsive to the presence and absence of a person adjacent to the toilet. Therefore, there remains a need in the art for an automatic return toilet seat responsive to the presence and absence of a person standing adjacent to a toilet such that the toilet seat will automatically lower only when the user moves away from the seat.

Disclosure of Invention

The automatic return toilet seat apparatus of the present invention includes a seat descent initiator and a selectively operable descent initiator lock. The seat descent initiator normally urges the toilet seat forward for gravity fall. In response to a person standing adjacent to the toilet the descent initiator lock is activated to restrain the seat descent initiator in an inoperative position and thereby allow the toilet seat to remain in an open, upright position. When the person moves away from the toilet the descent initiator lock releases the seat descent initiator to its normal operative position

whereby the toilet seat is urged forward for gravity fall. In a first preferred embodiment of the present invention the selective restraining and releasing of the descent initiator lock is controlled by a photo- detector switch disposed in the toilet seat responsive to the presence and absence of a person adjacent to the toilet. To eliminate false activations of the descent initiator lock the photodetector switch is preferably disposed in a lower wall of the seat portion of the toilet seat so that the photodetector switch is activated only when the toilet seat is manually raised to an open, upright position. In another embodiment of the present invention the descent initiator lock is controlled by a compressible floor mat upon which a person stands w ! -an using the toilet. A descent dampening mechanism controls the rate of gravity fall of the toilet seat after the seat descent initiator is activated to urge the toilet seat forward. An object of the present invention is to provide fully automatic means to lower a toilet seat from an open, substantially vertical position to a closed, substantially horizontal position.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an automatic return toilet seat apparatus wherein the means to initiate descent of a toilet seat and the means to delay the descent of a toilet seat operate cooperatively.

Another object of this invention is to provide means for subjective descent d-' y in an automatic return toilet seat to prevent pr ature lowering of a toilet seat.

A further object of the present invention is to provide an automatic return toilet seat apparatus responsive to the presence and absence of a person standing adjacent to a toilet. It is also an object of this invention to provide a toilet seat apparatus that may be selectively temporarily locked in it open, upright position.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a toilet seat apparatus that remains in a closed, horizontal position when not in use to prevent injury to seating users or small children that may inadvertently fall into an open toilet bowl.

Brief Description of Drawings

Fig. 1 is a top perspective view of a first preferred embodiment of the toilet seat apparatus of the present invention shown in an open, upright position on a toilet bowl.

Fig. 2 is a schematic diagram of the first toilet seat apparatus. Fig. 3 is an exploded, partially cross-sectioned perspective view of the first toilet seat apparatus.

Fig. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 4-4 of Fig. 3.

Fig. 5 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 5-5 of Fig. 3.

Fig. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 6-6 of Fig. 3.

Fig. 7 is a fron elevational view of a second retractable pin means constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

Fig. 8 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 8-8 of Fig. 7.

Fig. 9 is a front elevational view of a second preferred embodiment of the toilet seat apparatus of the present invention shown with the seat portion disposed in an open, upright position. Fig. 10 is a top plan view of the second toilet seat apparatus.

Fig. 11 is a top perspective view of a third preferred embodiment of the automatic return toilet seat apparatus of the present invention. Fig. 12 is a partially cross-sectioned top plan view of the third toilet seat apparatus.

Fig. 13 is a perspective view of a first pre¬ ferred embodiment of the initiator lock control means of the third toilet seat apparatus. Fig. 14 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 14-14 of Fig. 13.

Fig. 15 is a partially fragmented perspective view of a second initiator lock control means in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

Fig. 16 is a longitudinal cross-sectioned view of a third initiator lock control means in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

Fig. 17 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 17-17 of Fig. 12 illustrating a preferred embodiment of seat rate-of-descent control means.

Fig. 18 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the seat rate-of-descent control means illustrated in Fig. 17.

Best Mode for Carrying Out the Invention

Fig. 1 illustrates in a top perspective view a first preferred embodiment of the automatic return

toilet seat apparatus 1 of the present invention. First toilet seat apparatus 1 is shown disposed in an open, substantially vertical position on a toilet bowl 2 resting against the toilet tank 3. First toilet seat apparatus 1 includes a lid portion 10 and a seat portion 20 pivotally attached to toilet bowl 2 as generally known in the art. A photodetector switch 30 and a battery storage compartment 21 are disposed in seat portion 20. Photodetector switch 30 is prefera- bly disposed in the lower wall 20a of the seat portion 20 so that descent initiator lock 70 is activated only when the toilet seat is manually raised to an open, upright position. The placement of photodetector switch 30 as disclosed in the preferred embodiment illustrated in the several drawing figures however should not understood as a limitation of the present invention. Photodetector switch 30 may be position on an edge of the toilet seat or the like without depart¬ ing from the invention of the present disclosure. Battery storage compartment 21 provides housing means for a circuit power source 40 (Fig. 2) for first toilet seat apparatus 1. Photodetector switch 30 provides means to delay the start of seat descent in response to th presence and absence of a person standing adjacent to the toilet bowl 2 as hereinafter described in greater detail.

As shown schematically in Fig. 2 the seat portion 20 of first toilet seat apparatus 1 includes the photodector switch 30, circuit power source 40 and seat rate-of-descent control means 50. A suitable circuit power source 40 may comprise one or a plurality of dry cell batteries. As should be readily understood the apparatus of the present invention may

alternatively be powered by connection to an electri¬ cal outlet disposed in the wall, floor or the like. The lid portion 10 of first toilet seat apparatus 1 includes a descent initiator 60 and a descent initi- ator lock 70. Ωe. .nt initiator 60 urges fi st toilet seat apparatus 1 forward from a substantially vertical position for the start of gravity fall to a horizontal position. Descent initiator lock 70 selectively restrains the forward urging of descent initiator 60. To eliminate false activations of the descent initi¬ ator lock 70 by a person simply entering a bathroom if, for example, the photodetector switch 30 was disposed on the edge of a toilet seat, and to prevent wasteful use of the power source 40 first and second circuit switches 80, 81 are disposed respectively in the lid portion 10 and the seat portion 20 of first toilet seat apparatus 1 and interconnect the descent initiator lock 70 and the photαdetector switch 30 via photodetector switch wiring 33 and descent initiator lock wiring 38. In the first preferred embodiment of the toilet seat apparatus 1, as will be better under¬ stood hereinafter, first and second circuit switches 80, 81 are closed as the toilet seat apparatus 1 is raised from a horizontal position to its substantially vertical position. Photodetector switch 30 is thereby activated (after a short delay if photodetector delay switch 30a is provided in first toilet seat apparatus 1) to selectively control the activation and release of pin means 71 in response to a person standing adjacent to the toilet bowl and moving away from the toilet bowl. Pin means 71 engages pin slot 72 or the seat descent initiator 60 directly (not shown) to restrain the forward urging of seat descent initiator

60. Second seat rate-of-descent control means 50' may optionally be provided in the lid portion 10 for separate control of the gravity fall of the lid portion 10. The photodetector delay switch 30a may also be provided in seat portion 20 to momentarily delay the activation of photodetector switch 30 until the seat portion 20 is raised to a fully upright position. Delay switch 30a prevents premature opera¬ tion of photodetector switch 30, for example, in response to changes in light conditions during the raising of the seat portion 20.

Descent initiator lock 70 preferably includes retractable pin means 71 which, as heretofore noted, selectively engages a pin slot 72 (or seat descent initiator 60) to restrain the forward urging of the toilet seat apparatus 1 by descent initiator 60.

In the first preferred embodiment of the toilet seat apparatus 1 of the present invention if the seat portion 20 is lowered manually and the lid portion 10 is left in an open, upright position, the second circuit switches 81 are opened thereby breaking the circuit, deactivating pin means 71 to retract said pin means from pin slot 72, and permitting descent initia¬ tor 60 to urge the lid portion 10 forward for gravity fall. If the seat portion 20 is left in an open, upright position after use of the toilet the photode¬ tector switch 30 breaks the circuit when a person moves away from the toilet bowl 2. Thus, first toilet seat apparatus 1 will automatically return to a fully closed position regardless of how it is left after use. Descent control means 50 and 50' assure that both the lid portion 10 and the seat portion 20 gently return to the fully closed position.

Further details of the preferred embodiment of the present invention are shown in the exploded, partially cross-sectioned perspective view of the first toilet seat apparatus 1 illustrated in Fig. 3. The lid portion iO and seat portion 20 of first toilet seat apparatus 1 are pivotally attached to first and second toilet seat anchor housings 100, 200 disposed on respective sides of first toilet seat apparatus 1. Toilet bowl attachment means 110, comprising a threaded stem 110a, a washer 110b and a wing nut 110c, extend vertically from the bottom wall of the respective anchor housings 100, 200 for attachment of first toilet seat apparatus 1 to the toilet bowl 2. The respective anchor housings 100, 200 include a laterally-extending, forward cylindrical socket 101, 201 for rotatable receipt of the seat portion 20 and a laterally-extending, rearward cylindrical socket 102, 202 for rotatable receipt of the lid portion 10 of first toilet seat apparatus 1. The respective anchor housings 100, 200 may be formed to have identical constructions. However, for reasons of economy and maintenance, and for illustra¬ tion purposes, in the first toilet seat apparatus 1 illustrated in Fig. 3 first anchor housing 100 and second anchor housing 200 are shown having dissimilar constructions. In Fig. 3 the descent initiator 60 and descent initiator lock 70 are shown disposed in first anchor housing 100 and rate-of-descent control means 50 is shown disposed in second anchor housing 200. The seat portion 20 of first toilet seat apparatus 1 includes first and second seat arms 22 and 23 which are rotatably received in the respective forward sockets 101, 201 of the anchor housings 100,

200. Seat arm end wheels 22a, 23a having a larger diameter than seat arms 22, 23 to provide the contact surface area for rotation of seat arms 22, 23 in the forward sockets 101, 201. The battery storage compartment 21 preferably icludes a selectively lockable storage compartment door 21a. A battery 40 is received within battery storage compartment 21. The photodetector switch 30 is connected to first and second seat contacts 31, 32 fixedly attached to an outer wall of . the respective seat arms 22, 23 via photodetector switch wiring 33 that extends through the body of seat portion 20. As illustrated in Fig. 4 contact strips 34, 35 are disposed in a top portion Of anchor housings 100, 200. Contact strips 34, 35 include first and second strip contacts 34a, 35a and 34b, 35b attached at respective ends of contact strips 34, 35 and disposed on a top wall portion of the forward sockets 101, 201 and rearward sockets 102, 202, respectively. First and second strip contacts 34a, 35a and 34b, 35b are preferably arcuate conduc¬ tive members that extend forwardly from the vertical of the forward and rearward sockets 101, 201 and 102, 202. When seat portion 20 is raised to its upright position the seat contacts 31, 32 are brought into contact with the first strip contacts 34a, 35a of contact strips 34, 35. Photodetector switch 30 is energized thereby (first and second lid contacts 36, 37 are brought into contact with the second strip contacts 34b, 35b as a result of raising lid portion 10 inconjunction with the raising of seat portion 20). As a result of the forwardly-extending arcuate construction of strip contacts 34a, 35a and 34b, 35b it should be understood that photodetector switch 30

may thus be energized for switch control of the seat descent lock 70 before the seat portion 20 and lid portion 10 are brought to their fully upright position. If a photodetector delay switch 30a is provided it is preferred that delay switch 30 restrict the activation of photodetector switch 30 until the seat portion 20 is brought to its fully opened, sub¬ stantially vertical resting position.

THe lid portion 10 of first toilet seat apparatus 1 includes first and second lid arms 12 and 13 which are rotatably received in the respective rearward sockets 102, 202 of the anchor housings 100, 200. Lid arm end wheels 12a, 13a having a larger diameter than lid arms 12, 13 are fixedly attached to the distal ends of lid arms 12, 13 to provide the contact si - face area for rotation of lid arms 12, 13 in the rearward sockets 102, 202. The descent initiator lock 70 is connected to first and second lid contacts 36, 37 fixedly attached to an outer wall of the respective lid arms 12, 13 via descent initiator lock wiring 38 that extends through the body of lid portion 10. As previously noted, when seat portion 20 is raised to its upright position the lid portion 10 is also raised and lid contacts 36, 37 are brought into contact with the second strip contracts 34b, 35b of contact strips 34, 35 to energize descent initiator lock 70.

Referring to Figs. 3 and 5, it can be seen that descent initiator 60 comprises an arcuate leaf spring 61 rotatably disposed around the first lid arm 12. A longitudinal spring slot 61a is formed in the portion of leaf spring 61 disposed about first lid arm 12. A distal end 61b of leaf spring 61 is attached to a spring ped 62 fixedly attached and extending laterally

inward from the lid end wheel 12a. The attachment of leaf spring to spring peg 62 causes leaf spring 61 to rotate with lid and wheel 12a as the lid portion 10 is raised to an upright position. To compress leaf spring 61 when lid portion is being raised and thereby create a forward urging force in leaf spring 61 to initiate descent of lid portion 10, a spring detent 63 is formed in a lower portion of the first rearward socket 102. Spring detent 63 comprises an upwardly- extending tab which engages the spring slot 61a formed in leaf spring 61. When spring detent 63 engages a rearward wall of the spring slot 61a the leaf spring 61 is prevented from further rotation with lid end wheel 12a. Continued rotation of lid end wheel 12a (as the lid portion 10 is raised to its stable, resting position) with leaf spring 61 restrained against further rotation compresses leaf spring 61 as the distal end 61b of leaf spring 61 moves to the position indicated by 61b' in Fig. 5 to create potential energy in leaf spring 61. Leaf spring 61 can thereby urge the lid portion 10 forward as it releases the energy stored therein. The descent initiator lock 70 selectively restrains the release of the stored energy in leaf spring 61 until a person is finished using the toilet and moves away from the toilet.

Again as can be seen in Fig. 3, the descent initiator lock 70 includes first retractable pin means 71 fixedly attached to an outer wall of first lid arm 12 and a pin slot 72 (Fig. 6) formed in first rearward socket 102. First pin means 71 preferably comprises a push solenoid 71a having a solenoid pin 71b that selectively extends outwardly from push solenoid 71a

and engages pin slot 72 when the lid portion 10 is raised to an upright position. As illustrated in Fig.

6 pin slot is defined by the inner wall of first rearward socket 102 and a swinging door 73 pivotally attached to a top portion of first rearward socket 102. Door 73 is attached to first rearward socket 102 by pivot attachment means 73a and is biased for one¬ way rearward pivotal displacement by a door stop 73b formed in first anchor housing 100. As the lid portion 10 is raised solenoid pin 71b extends outwardly to the fore of door 73 as indicated by 71b' in Fig. 6. Continued raising of lid portion 10 causes solenoid pin 71b to pass through door 73 as door pivots rearwardly as indicated by 73' in Fig. 6 to a position to the rear of door 73 ads indicated by 71b" . Door stop 73b prevents door 73 from pivoting forwardly and thereby retains solenoid pin 71b within pin slot 72. Retraction of solenoid pin 71b from pin slot 72 allows the lid portioix 10 to be urged forward by seat descent initiator 60.

As heretofore mentioned and as hereinafter illustrated in further detail solenoid pin 71b may directly engage the seat descent initiator 60 for selective restraining of its forward urging of a toilet seat.

A second embodiment of retractable pin means 171 for descent initiator lock 70 is illustrated in Figs.

7 and 8. Second pin means 171 comprises a reversible motor 171a having a threaded, rotatable pin 171b extending from motor 171a through a pin nut 171c. Pin nut 171c is fixedly attached to a pin means railing 171d foixedly disposed on first lid arm 12. Motor 171a is slidably attached to rail channels 171e formed

in pin means railing 171d. Activation of motor 171a causes threaded pin 171b to rotate in threaded engage¬ ment with pin nut 171c and thereby move threaded pin 171b and motor 171a forward as indicated by the phantom lines in Fig. 7. Threaded pin 171b thereby engages pin slot 72 as heretofore described. Reverse rotation of threaded pin 171b moves motor 171a rear¬ wardly to release threaded pin 171b from pin slot 72. A second preferred embodiment of the automatic return toilet seat apparatus 1' of the present invention is illustrated in Figs. 9 and 10. Second toilet seat apparatus 1' is constructed substantially as shown and described for first toilet seat apparatus 1. Second toilet seat apparatus 1' however includes a second photodetector switch 130 comprising a light beam emitter 131 disposed in a forward wall of first anchor housing 100 and a photosensor 132 disposed in a forward wall of second anchor housing 200. As shown in Fig. 10, light beam emitter 131 and photosensor 132 are oriented to communicate at a point to the fore of toilet bowl 2. When a person approaches the toilet and raises the second toilet seat apparatus 1' second photodetector switch 130 is placed in a first condi¬ tion for detecting communication between light beam emitter 131 and photosensor 132. Descent initiator lock 70 (Fig. 3) is automatically activated to re¬ strain descent initiator 60 by the first condition. A person standing before the toilet prevents communi¬ cation between emitter 131 and photosensor 132. When the person moves away from the toilet light beam emitter 131 and photosensor 132 communicate and place second photodetector switch 130 in a second condition which releases descent initiator lock 70 thereby

permitting forward urging of second toilet seat apparatus 1' , When the circuit is broken by the return of second toilet seat apparatus 1' to a fully closed position second photodetector switch 130 is returned to its initial condition to await the next user.

Fig. 11 is a top perspective view of a third preferred embodiment of the toilet seat apparatus 5 of the present invention. Third toilet seat apparatus 5 includes a lid portion 10 and a seat portion 20 substantially as heretofore described rotatably attached via respective lid arms 12, 13 and seat arms 22, 23 to third anchor housings 300 at respective sides of toilet bowl 2. Third anchor housings 300 have idential construction. Third toilet seat apparatus 5 further includes intiator lock control means 90 operably attached to a third anchor housing 300 and disposable on the floor in front of the toilet bowl 2. The identical construction of third anchor housing 300 at each side of third toilet seat apparatus 5 permits the initiator lock control means 90 to be attached to either side of the toilet bowl 2 for aesthetic purposes. Initiator lock control means 90 substantially comprises a compressible floor mat 91 attached to the pin means 71 of descent initiator lock 70 by a length of wire 92 extending through a flexible tubing 93. Pin means 71 are activated to engage a pin slot 72 in third anchor housing 300 to restrain seat descent initaiator 60 as heretofore described. It is preferred that mat 91 be formed sufficiently thin to lay unobstrusively under a rug or be integrally constructed with a bathroom rug or the like.

In the partially cross-sectioned top plan view of third toilet seat apparatus 5 illustrated in Fig. 12 it can be seen that seat descent initiator 60 and seat descent initiator lock 70 are disposed in the rearward socket 302 of third anchor housing 300 and seat rate- of-descent control means 50 are disposed in the forward socket 301 of third anchor housing 300. Seat descent initiator lock 70 generally comprises a selectively retractable pin means 71 that engages a pin slot 72 through swinging door 73 as heretofore described. Pin means 71 extends through an orifice formed in a first lid arm wheel 312a rotatably disposed adjacent to swinging door 73 in the rearward socket 302 of third anchor housing 300. Seat descent initiator 60 is operably attached to a second lid arm wheel 312b.

Referring now to Figs. 13 and 14 it can be seen that a first end 92a of the length of wire 92 disposed in floor mat 91 is attached to a rearwardly-biased piston 91a that moves back and forth to selectively engage pin means 71 with the pin slot 72 and thereby selectively restrain seat descent initiator 60 to prevent closing of the lid portion 10. Pin means 71 is attached to a second end 92b of the length of wire 92. Initiator lock control means 90 moves piston 91a forwardly when a person stands on the floor mat 91. Biasing means 91b moves the piston 91a rewardly when the person moves away from the floor mat 91 thereby releasing pin means 71 from pin slot 72 and permitting seat descent initiator 60 to urge the lid portion 10 forward for gravity fall. The seat rate-of-descent control means 50 disposed in forward socket 301 of

third anchor housing 300 dampens the return of third toilet seat apparatus 5 to a fully closed position.

Floor mat 91 preferably comprises a fluid-filled pouch 91c having a plurality of fluid channel tribu- taries 91d formed by pouch partitions 91e which feed the fluid contained therein to a main fluid channel 91f disposed adjacent to the piston 91a. It should be readily understood by those skilled in the art that initiator lock control means 90 may alternatively be constructed as a hydraulic asse-.-bly having piston 91a integrally formed with pin means 71 and disposed at the second end of the length of tubing 93 and selectively moved forward by the fluid traversing through tubing 93 from a hydraulic floor mat 91' (Fig. 15), or a mechanical assembly having pin means 71 disposed at the second end of a length of wire 92 extending through tubing 93 and activated by a pivoting mechanical floor mat 91" which selectively moves the pin means 71 and the length of wire forward as indicated by 71' and 92' (Fig. 16).

While no limitation of the present invention is intended by the particular seat rate-of-descent control means 50 utilized herein, a preferred embodi¬ ment of seat rate-of-descent control means 50 is shown in Figs. 17 and 18. The preferred seat rate-of- descent control means 50 comprises —i arcuate hydrau¬ lic closure device having a firs ^ . part 51 fixedly attached or integrally formed with the forward socket 301 of third anchor housing 300 and a second part 52 fixedly attached to the seat arm 23 and slidably receivable within first part 51. As shown in Fig. 18 first part 51 includes an arcuate slot 51a for receipt of a first end 52a of second part 52 and a fluid

chamber 51b (preferably an ambient air chamber) for receipt of a second end 52b of second part 52. A piston 53 is pivotally attached by pivot means 54 to an arcuate piston support 55 extending from the second end 52b of second part 52. An air orifice 56 communi¬ cates with fluid chamber 51b to draw and expel air during controlled descent of the seat portion 20.

Various changes, additions and modifications may be made to the preferred embodiments of the present invention without departing from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure. Such changes, additions and modifications within a fair reading of the appended claims are intended as part of the present invention.




 
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