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Title:
MULTIFUNCTION DEVICE FOR THE REGULATION OF THE WATER SUPPLY AND OTHER ANCILLARY FUNCTIONS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/155440
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention is a new device for regulating the dispensing of water, comprising mixing solenoid valves (2) suited to regulate the water flow towards the tap (E) and the water temperature, at least one temperature sensor (3), at least one display and control device (4, 5), at least one control and management circuit (1). Said control and management circuit (1) transmits images, words, messages to the display device (4), detects the user's commands, controls the total or partial opening or closing of the solenoid valves (2), measures the temperature of the water flowing towards the tap (E).

Inventors:
GALLO, Carlo (Via Aldo Moro, 18/9, Vigonza, 35010, IT)
Application Number:
IB2019/051102
Publication Date:
August 15, 2019
Filing Date:
February 12, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
GALLO, Carlo (Via Aldo Moro, 18/9, Vigonza, 35010, IT)
International Classes:
E03C1/05
Foreign References:
US20110088799A12011-04-21
CN105780886A2016-07-20
EP2273015A12011-01-12
US20170260722A12017-09-14
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BENETTIN, Maurizio (Via Sorio, 116, Padova, 35141, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Device for regulating the dispensing of water, characterized in that it comprises:

mixing solenoid valves (2) designed to regulate the flow of hot water (Ac) and cold water (Af) towards the tap (E),

at least one temperature sensor (3) suited to measure the temperature of the water flowing towards the tap (E),

at least one display device (4) suited to display images, words, messages;

at least one control device (5) suited to detect the point or the points where the user touches the image generated by said display device (4), said control device (5) being exactly superimposed to the image generated by said display device (4);

at least one control and management circuit (1) suited to be connected in such a way as to detect and control the other parts of the new device,

and wherein said control and management circuit (1):

transmits images, words, messages to the display device (4);

detects the pressure or the touch of the user through said control device (5); controls the total or partial opening or closing of the solenoid valves (2);

measures the temperature of the water flowing out of the solenoid valves (2) towards the tap (E) through said temperature sensor (3).

2. Device according to claim 1, characterized in that said control device (5) is constituted by a thin, adhesive, transparent acrylic foil of the type sensitive in a capacitive manner and known as touch foil.

3k Device according to claim 1, characterized in that said display device (4) is constituted by a LCD.

4. Device according to claim 1, characterized in that said display device (4) is constituted by a holographic projector suited to project images.

5. Device according to claim 1, characterized in that said control device (5) and said display device (4) are constituted by a single object capable of displaying images and of detecting the user’s touch.

6. Device according to claim 1, characterized in that it comprises at least one sensor (7) suited to detect events such as the correct closing of the shower door or the presence of a person in proximity to the tap (E), and wherein said control and management circuit (1) is connected to said sensor (7) and controls the closing or opening of the solenoid valves (2) when the sensor detects the opening of the shower door or the approach of the user to the tap (E).

7. Device according to claim 1, characterized in that it comprises at least one sensor (6) suited to detect events such as the presence of a person inside the shower or the approach of a person to the tap (E), and wherein said control and management circuit (1) is connected to said sensor (6) and controls the closing or opening of the solenoid valves (2) when the sensor detects the presence or absence of a person inside the shower or controls the activation of the display device (4) when the approach of a person to the tap (E) is detected.

8. Device according to claim 1, characterized in that it comprises at least one flow meter suited to detect the flow of water being conveyed towards the tap (E), and wherein said control and management circuit (1) is connected to said flow meter and controls the regulation of the solenoid valves (2) according to the setting made by the user and to the data detected by said flow meter.

9. Device according to claim 1, characterized in that said solenoid valves (2) are constituted by a mixing valve designed to receive the incoming flows of hot water (Ac) and cold water (Af) and to dispense mixed water at the desired temperature and flow rate.

10. Device according to claim 1, characterized in that it comprises radio transmitters/receivers (8) for communicating with and controlling other devices.

Description:
MULTIFUNCTION DEVICE FOR THE REGULATION OF THE WATER SUPPLY AND OTHER ANCILLARY FUNCTIONS DESCRIPTION

This patent relates to showers, bathtubs and sinks and in particular concerns a new multifunction device for the regulation of the flow of the water supply.

The water supplied, in showers as well as in bathtubs or sinks, can be regulated by various types of devices.

One of the devices for regulating the flow of water is the tap. One tap is used to regulate the flow of cold water and another to regulate the flow of hot water. The two regulated flows of hot and cold water are then conveyed to the manual or fixed outlet. Separate taps for hot and cold water are cheap but inconvenient, as both need to be adjusted to obtain the amount of water delivered at the desired temperature.

Another device for regulating the flow of water consists of mixer taps.

These mixing valves include an internal mixing cartridge and an external control lever. The amount of water is regulated by lifting the control lever, while the temperature is regulated by rotating the same control lever sideways.

Mixer taps allow the quantity and temperature of the water to be regulated with a single control, but still require various temperature adjustments, especially in cases where the hot water is not immediately or constantly available at the inlet of the mixer tap itself.

Prior art includes thermostatic mixers, comprising a knob to regulate the amount of water and a knob to regulate the water temperature. A thermostatic valve inside the mixer, controlled by this knob to regulate the water temperature, continuously regulates the flow of hot and cold water so as to keep the outlet water temperature constant according to the temperature set by the temperature knob.

Thermostatic mixers, although very practical for regulating the flow and water temperature, have various drawbacks.

The replacement parts for thermostatic mixers are expensive. Thermostatic mixers take up more space than normal taps and lever mixer taps. The user can hit the thermostatic mixer and get hurt.

All connections for the thermostatic mixer must be provided.

Both taps and lever mixers, as well as thermostatic mixers have the disadvantage that the user, moving normally, may touch the taps or mixers by accident, thereby varying the flow and/or temperature of the delivered water.

Both taps and lever mixers, as well as thermostatic mixers have the disadvantage that the user regulates the flow and the temperature of the water in an almost empirical way: the user must regulate the temperature and flow settings of the water until he finds the desired temperature and flow output.

Both taps and lever mixers, as well as thermostatic mixers have the disadvantage that the user can move away from the shower or sink or in any case from the water outlet, leaving the water running. If the user does not close the taps or the mixer, the water continues to flow with considerable waste of the water flowing unnecessarily and the energy used to heat it.

To overcome all the aforementioned drawbacks, a new multifunction device for the regulation of the water supply and other ancillary functions was developed.

One purpose of the new device is to regulate the flow and temperature of the water delivered according to the settings established by the user.

Another purpose of the new device is to maintain the flow and temperature of the water delivered according to the settings established by the user.

A further purpose of the new device is to stop the flow of water when the user exits the shower or moves away from the sink or in any case away from the water outlet.

Still another purpose of the new device is not to occupy space, either inside the shower or on the sink.

These and other purposes, direct and complementary, are achieved by the new multifunction device to regulate the water supply and other ancillary functions comprising at least one control and management circuit, at least one control device, at least one screen, at least two solenoid valves, at least one temperature sensor, and one or more means of connection between the various components.

The control device comprises a thin, touch-sensitive element suited to detect when and where the user touches or places the finger in proximity to the thin, touch-sensitive element.

The preferred embodiment of the control device consists of a so-called touch foil , which is a thin, adhesive, transparent acrylic foil of the type sensitive in a capacitive manner. This touch foil is applied on a surface accessible by the user near the water dispenser, for example on the external surface of the shower glass.

The display device may consist of an LCD screen, a holographic screen, an OLED screen, or another device suited to display images.

The touch foil is then properly aligned and applied over the screen, and this assembly may, for example, be placed on the outer surface of the shower glass.

The control device and the display device may be comprised of a single component having the ability to display images and the ability to detect the user's touch.

The solenoid valves consist of electrically controlled hydraulic valves with progressive regulation. Each solenoid valve is suitable to be applied on the hot water or cold water inflow duct and to regulate the flow of water directed towards the outlet.

The water coming from each solenoid valve flows into a single duct supplying the outlet.

Each regulator has a pair of solenoid valves designed to regulate the flow of hot and cold water to the individual outlet.

Instead of two separate solenoid valves, it is possible to provide for a single mixing solenoid valve that receives the flow of hot water and the flow of cold water at the inlet and supplies, at the outlet, mixed water at the desired temperature and flow rate. Each temperature sensor consists of a sensor suited to detect the temperature of the water coming from the aforementioned solenoid valves and directed towards the outlet. The connection means between the various parts consist of any combination of appropriate means suitable for the connection and communication between the various components.

These connection means may consist of electric wires and/or fibre optic cables and/or Bluetooth-type radio adapters and/or Wi-Fi-type radio adapters and/or other adapters. The control and management circuit consists of a circuit that is suited to receive information and communicate with all the other components of the new device.

In particular, the control and management circuit:

- receives information from the various sensors regarding their state and the situations detected,

- receives information from the solenoid valves on their state,

- controls the total or partial opening or closure of the solenoid valves,

- controls the on-screen display of images, notifications, messages,

- detects the user's pressure or touch on the control device.

This control and management circuit may consist of a computer in which specific programs are executed, may consist of a programmable multifunction card such as Raspberry or Arduino, or it may consist of a dedicated programmable card.

The control and management circuit detects the commands given by the user through the control device, detects the temperature of the water arriving at the outlet by means of the temperature sensor, and consequently controls the relative opening or closing of each solenoid valve.

The new device for the regulation of the water supply may also include:

- proximity sensors,

- humidity sensors,

- flow meter.

The proximity sensors may be, for example, optical sensors and/or ultrasonic sensors and/or inductive sensors and/or electromechanical sensors and are suited to detect the proper closing of the shower door and/or the presence of a person inside the shower and/or the presence of a person near the sink or in any case near the water outlet. According to the detection of these proximity sensors, the control and management circuit activates or interrupts the delivery of water to the outlet: if the user moves away from the water dispenser, the control and management circuit interrupts the delivery of water to the outlet.

The flow meter is able to detect and signal the actual flow of water towards the outlet to the control and management circuit.

Each temperature sensor continuously monitors the water temperature flowing towards the outlet. If the water temperature reaches or exceeds a given threshold, the mixing valve that regulates the mixing of cold and hot water or automatically stops the water supply.

The new multifunctional device for the regulation of the water supply and other ancillary functions is suitable for use with thermo-hydraulic home automation systems in domestic, industrial, and work environments, such as hotels, offices and restaurants. The new multifunctional device for the regulation of the water supply and other ancillary functions is suitable for use with washbasins, showers, bathtubs, and swimming pools in homes and in environments such as hotels, restaurants, and any commercial or industrial environment.

The new multifunction device can be applied and used to control the water supply in a shower.

The management of the shower water supply through manual devices is replaced by the new device.

The control device consists of a so-called touch foil , consisting of a thin, adhesive, transparent acrylic foil of the type sensitive in a capacitive manner. The display device may consist of an LCD screen, a holographic screen, an OLED screen, or another device suited to display images.

The touch foil and the display device make up a single device having the ability to display images and detect the user's touch, and is placed on the outer surface of the shower glass. If the shower is positioned outside, for example in a backyard, the touch screen display may be installed for example on the column supporting the water dispenser, and can be fixed, removable and/or rotatable.

Proximity sensors detect the correct closure of the shower door and/or the presence of a person inside the shower.

Depending on what is detected by the aforementioned proximity sensors, the control and management circuit activates or interrupts the flow of water to the shower if the shower door itself is properly closed or is open, and if there is a person inside the shower.

The control and management circuit detects the control commands given by the user via the control device, detects the temperature of the water arriving at the outlet via the temperature sensor, and consequently controls the opening or closing of each solenoid valve.

If the user exits the shower, the presence sensor detects this event and the new regulation device interrupts the flow of water to the shower.

If the user does not close the shower door correctly, or if someone opens the shower door, the new device for the regulation of the water supply interrupts the flow of water to the shower.

The new multifunction device can be applied and used to control the water supply in a bathtub.

The management of the bath water supply through manual devices is replaced by a touch-screen display and by automatic mixing valves connected to it.

The water supply to the bathtub is controlled by the aforementioned touch-screen display installed on one side of the bathtub itself.

The touch-screen display may be removed from its seat and adjusted as desired.

The user manages the flow of the water supplied, selects the fixed or mobile outlet to be used, and sets the water temperature through the touch-screen.

The new multifunction device can be installed and used to control the water supply in a washbasin. The management of the washbasin water supply through manual devices is replaced by a touch-screen display and by automatic mixing valves connected to it.

The water supply to the washbasin is controlled by the touch-screen display which may be installed on the side of a single washbasin, between two washbasins in the case of a double model, or in another suitable position in the case of multiple washbasins. The proximity sensors are placed under the tap and in the immediate vicinity of the washbasin.

The proximity sensors placed in the immediate vicinity of the washbasin activate the lighting of the display and the supply of water, while the sensors placed under the tap activate or deactivate the continuous or timer controlled supply of water.

The timer controlled delivery of water facilitates energy and water savings when the user is lathering up his hands.

In this case the temperature sensors also have the ability to detect water temperature higher than a preset parameter which could be harmful to the user by controlling, through the control and management circuit, the closure or regulation of the solenoid valves.

In addition, the new multifunction device for the regulation of the water supply may be set and/or programmed for the needs of each individual person, delivering the water with personalized flow and temperature settings.

The new multifunction device for the regulation of the water supply can be adapted to perform additional ancillary functions.

In fact, the user may control and manage additional functions of the new multifunction device, such as switching on and off or regulating aromatherapy devices and colour therapy devices through the already mentioned touch-screen.

In addition, through the touch-screen the user may control and manage other additional functions of the new multifunction device, such as interacting with other connected devices by Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth, in order to play music, receive and make voice calls, receive, view, and send messages. The new multifunction device can be connected, via cable or wireless, to home automation management devices such as those used for lights and video surveillance. The new device for the regulation of the water supply may be connected, by cable or wireless means, to devices external to the new regulating device, such as for example aromatherapy and/or chromotherapy devices.

In this way it is possible to integrate the shower function with aromatherapy and/or chromotherapy sessions, while listening to music, answering incoming phone calls, and viewing incoming messages.

A practical embodiment of the invention is presented, by way of a non-limiting example, in the attached drawings.

Figure 1 shows the new multifunction device for the regulation of the water supply including a control and management circuit (1), a control device (5), a display device (4), a mixing solenoid valve (2), a temperature sensor (3), a flow meter (8), a presence sensor (6), a proximity sensor (7), and one or more connecting means between the various components.

The mixing solenoid valve (2) receives the hot water (Ac) and the cold water (Af) at the inlet and supplies mixed water at the desired temperature and at the desired flow rate at the outlet.

The temperature sensor (3) and the flow meter (9) which monitor the temperature and the flow rate of the water leaving the mixing valve (2) and flowing towards the outlet are installed on the outlet duct (Ad) of the mixing valve (2).

The mixing solenoid valve (2), the temperature sensor (3), and the flow meter (9) are all connected to the control and management circuit (1).

In addition, this control and management circuit (1) is also connected to the control device (5), the display device (4), the presence sensor (6), and the proximity sensor (7). In this embodiment, the control device (5) is made up of a touch foil , consisting of a thin, adhesive, transparent acrylic foil of the type sensitive in a capacitive manner. This touch foil is applied on a surface accessible by the user near the water dispenser, for example on the external surface of the shower glass. The display device (4), in this embodiment an LCD screen, is coupled with the touch foil.

The display device (4) displays images, figures, writing as indicated by the control and management circuit (1), while the control device (5) is able to detect when and where the user touches directly or very close to the area of the control device (5) and forwards this information to the control and management circuit (1).

The presence sensor (6) consists of an ultrasonic transducer, or an optical sensor able to detect the presence of a person in the area of the display device (4), in the area of the control device (5) and in the area of the water outlet (E).

When using the new multi -function device for the regulation of the water supply of a shower, the presence sensor (6) detects the presence or absence of a person in the shower, while the proximity sensor (7) is able to detect the correct opening or closing of the shower door. Both sensors (6, 7) signal the control and management circuit (1) to activate or to interrupt the flow of water to the outlet (E).

When using the new multifunction device for the regulation of the water supply of a washbasin, the presence sensor (6) detects the presence or absence of the user's hands near the washbasin tap, while the proximity sensor (7) detects the presence of a person near the washbasin. In this case the control and management circuit (1) and the control device (5) receive the signal from the proximity sensor (7) to activate the display device (4), while the presence sensor (6) signals the control and management circuit (1) to activate the mixing solenoid valve (2) and deliver the mixed water to the outlet

(E).

In the illustrated embodiment, the connection between the various components is schematized with an electric wire, but it may also be implemented with fibre optic and/or radio technology.

In this example, the control and management circuit (1) is connected to a communication device (8), either based on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology, so as to interact with other devices such as mobile phones, video surveillance systems, aromatherapy and/or chromotherapy devices, multimedia players, ambient light controllers, or with other home automation devices.

Therefore, with reference to the preceding description and the attached drawing the following claims are made.