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Title:
OPERATING SYSTEM FOR TOILET SEAT AND COVER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2002/100235
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The system comprising two members that can be displaced between an 'open' and a 'closed' end position by rotation around a common rotaion axis, whereby the members further comprise such magnetic parts and can be displaced in relation to each other in such a way that the two members become magnetically coupled when they are both at the same time in the 'open' or the 'closed' end position, whereby said system further comprise means enabling a user to release the magnetic coupling between the members by merely touching one of both members.

Inventors:
Grahmbeek, Tamar Vanessa (Doelen 17 BN Egmond Binnen, Nl-1935, NL)
Grahmbeek, Marit Astrid (Doelen 17 BN Egmond Binnen, Nl-1935, NL)
Application Number:
PCT/NL2002/000335
Publication Date:
December 19, 2002
Filing Date:
May 24, 2002
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Grahmbeek, Tamar Vanessa (Doelen 17 BN Egmond Binnen, Nl-1935, NL)
Grahmbeek, Marit Astrid (Doelen 17 BN Egmond Binnen, Nl-1935, NL)
International Classes:
A47K13/10; E05C19/16; H01F7/04; F16B1/00; (IPC1-7): A47K13/10; E05C19/16; G03G15/00; H01F7/04; H04N1/10
Foreign References:
US3288511A
DE29907572U1
US3802034A
US3492037A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Van Assen, Jan Willem Bernard (Verbeekstraat 8 CA Leiden, NL-2332, NL)
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Claims:
CLAIMS
1. System comprising two members having a similar flat geometry where the size of said members is in two of the three dimensions significantly larger than the size in the third dimension, with both members having at least one straight side, and with both members being rotatable around an imaginary or a physically present rotation axis which is parallel to said straight side, enabling both elements to be displaced between an'open'and a'closed' end position by rotation around said rotation axis, whe reby the members further comprise such magnetic parts and can be displaced in relation to eachother in such a way that attracting poles of said magnetic parts of both members can be brought in such proximity of eachother that the two members become magnetically coupled, whereby said members comprise means enabling a user to release the magnetic coupling by merely touching one of both members, whereby said magnetic parts of both elements consist of permanent magnets which are located in pairs at opposing positions in or on the members when the mem bers are both at the same time in the'open'or the'clo sed'end position, and whereby said permanent magnets in a member are completely enclosed by the member's materi al.
2. system comprising two members according to claim 1, characterised by the fact that the attracting force between said magnetic parts of both members in the cou pled state is sufficiently strong to ensure that the coupling is maintained when a user exercises a mechanical force on one of the members with the aim to displace the coupled combination of both members between the'open' and the'closed'end position.
3. System comprising two members according to claim 1 or 2, characterised by the fact that operating said releasing means causes the members to be mechanically pushed away from eachother in opposite directions and with such a force that, at a certain moment, the separa ting force is larger than the attracting force between said magnetic parts of the members, resulting in release of the magnetic coupling and enabling the members to be displaced independently of eachother between the'open' and the'closed'end position.
4. System comprising two members according to claim 1 or 2, characterised by the fact that operating said releasing means causes magnetically repelling parts of said members to be brought in eachothers proximity, crea ting such a repelling force opposite to the attracting force between said further magnetic parts of said mem bers, that the overall magnetic coupling between the members is weakened and can be overcome easily, enabling the members to be displaced independently of eachother between the'open'and the'closed'end position.
5. System comprising two members according to claim 1 to 4, characterised by the fact that in a preferred embodiment of the system according to the present inven tion said magnetic parts of one member consist of perma nent magnets mounted in the member itself, and the magne tic parts of the other member are mounted in a number of buffers of a suitable material, mounted on the member, whereby magnets and buffers are located in pairs at oppo sing positions in, respectively on the member when the.
6. System comprising two members according to claim 5, characterised by the fact that said permanent magnets may have various geometrical shapes.
7. System comprising two members, according to one of the preceding claims, characterised by the fact that said members are manufactured from highly magnetic perme able (penetrable) materials that do not weaken the magne tic fields significantly.
8. System comprising two members according to one of the preceding claims, characterised by the fact that the two members forming said system are a toilet seat and a toilet bowl lid respectively.
Description:
OPERATING SYSTEM FOR TOILET SEAT AND COVER The present invention generally relates to a sys- tem comprising two members having a similar flat geome- try, with both members having at least one straight side, and with both members being rotatable around an imaginary or a physically present rotation axis which is parallel to said straight side. By rotation around said rotation axis the members can be displaced between an'open'and a 'closed'end position. The members further comprise such magnetic parts enabling a magnetic coupling between the members when they come in close proximity of eachother and further comprise means enabling a user to release the magnetic coupled members by merely touching one of both members, whereby the system is characterised by the fact that said members are in fact a toilet seat and a toilet bowl lid, whereby said means to release the magnetic coupling between the members are integrated in the toilet bowl lid.

The two members of said system share a common rota- tion axis and can be displaced between an'open'and a 'closed'end position by rotation around this axis. For reasons of hygiene, ease of use, safety etcetera, it may be desirable that the members, like for instance a toilet seat and a toilet bowl lid, become magnetically coupled when they are both at the same time in the'open'or the 'closed'end position, and furthermore it may be desira- ble that this magnetic coupling may be released by a user merely touching one of both members. In addition to this, for the same reasons of hygiene, ease of use, safety etcetera it may be desirable that said magnetic coupling of said members is sufficiently strong to enable a user

both members. In addition to this, for the same reasons of hygiene, ease of use, safety etcetera it may be desi- rable that said magnetic coupling of said members is sufficiently strong to enable a user to exercise force on only one of the members with the aim to displace the magnetically coupled combination of both members between the'open'and the'closed'end position, without the magnetic coupling between the members being released.

In the following the term'upright'end position relates to the term'open'end position, and the term 'horizontal'end position relates to the term'closed' end position.

The system according to the present invention may advantageously be applied to situations where the two members are a toilet seat and a toilet bowl lid respecti- vely. Toilet bowls provided with a combination of a toi- let seat and a toilet bowl lid are commonly known. In most cases both the seat and the lid are attached to the same axis and may be displaced separately from a horizon- tal to an upright end position by a user. A toilet bowl lid is often equipped with a recess under its outer rim at the front or the side, providing space for easy inser- tion of the fingers of a user to enable opening of the lid, or equipped with a handle that extends outside the toilet bowl. Toilet seats however are rarely equipped with such recesses or handles. The bottom side of a toi- let seat is in most cases partly located above the edge of the toilet bowl and partly extends over the inner part of the toilet bowl. As a result the bottom side of the seat is easily contaminated with for example urine or faecal residues. The outer rim of the bottom side of the lid is, on the other hand, shielded from the edge and

from the inner part of the toilet bowl because the seat is located between this outer rim of the lid's bottom side and the toilet bowl, where the lid's outer rim is resting on the toilet seat, either directly or with the use of buffers. When the toilet seat is in the horizontal end position and one wants to use the toilet in standing position, it is customary to raise the toilet seat from the horizontal to the upright position. In the reverse situation, when the toilet seat is in the upright end position and one desires to use the toilet in seated position, the toilet seat has to be displaced from the upright to the horizontal end position. In these cases it will be virtually unavoidable that a user's hand comes into contact with the bottom side of the seat and/or with the edge of the toilet bowl. This is clearly undesirable for obvious reasons of hygiene.

From the prior art numerous systems are known that enable displacement of a toilet seat and/or a toilet bowl lid between the horizontal and the upright end position, for instance by means of a pedal, spring arrangements, a counter weight, an electric motor etcetera. In most of these cases however these systems are quite complex and costly, and are mainly meant for use by elderly or physi- cally handicapped persons, which makes these systems less suitable for wide-range application.

The present invention aims to remedy the aforemen- tioned disadvantages associated with the prior art. To achieve this a system comprising a toilet seat and a toilet bowl lid is proposed, with means to enable a mag- netic coupling of said seat and said lid, whereby said magnetic coupling is sufficiently strong to enable dis-

placement of the coupled combination of seat and lid from the horizontal to the upright end position by a user. The coupled combination of seat and lid can be raised to the upright end position by only exercising force on the lid, so a user does not come into contact with the bottom side of the toilet seat. Furthermore the toilet seat and the toilet bowl lid comprise means enabling a user to release the magnetic coupling of seat and lid, making it possible for a user to displace only the lid between the horizon- tal and the upright end position, as desired. Also these releasing means according to the invention are designed to be operated by a user in such a way that any contact with the bottom side of the toilet seat can be avoided.

The present invention aims to remedy the aforemen- tioned disadvantages by proposing a system comprising of two cover lids of similar shape, having a common rotation axis similar to the usual rotation axis of a'traditio- nal'cover lid or sheet, whereby the cover lid which is closest to said transparent plate is also transparent.

The cover lids comprise such magnetic parts that they can become magnetically coupled when the cover lids are both at the same time in the'open'or the'closed'end posi- tion. The system comprising both cover lids further com- prises means enabling a user to release the magnetic coupling, making it possible to only displace the upper cover lid between the'closed'and the'open'end positi- on, as desired. When both cover lids are in the'closed' end position a user is now able, because of the magnetic coupling, to displace the combination of both cover lids to the'open'end position, position a document on the transparent plate, return the coupled combination of both cover lids to the'closed'end position, release the

magnetic coupling between the cover lids, open the upper cover lid, verify the position of the document through the transparent lower cover lid and correct it if neces- sary, and finally copy or scan the document. This may considerably reduce the number of errors and, consequent- ly, reduce costs.

The system comprising two members according to the present invention can be advantageously constructed in such a way that both members comprise such magnetic parts and can be displaced in relation to eachother in such a way, that opposite poles of said magnetic parts of the members can be brought in close proximity of eachother, resulting in a magnetic coupling between the members, and said members comprising such means enabling a user to release the magnetic coupling by touching only one of the members. During displacement of the members between the 'open'and the'closed'end position, no undesired weake- ning of said magnetic coupling occurs, because said dis- placement involves a rotation of the members around a common rotation axis and, consequently, the attracting magnetic parts of both members do not shift out of regis- try during said displacement.

The system according to the present invention is furthermore characterised by the fact that the attracting force between said magnetic parts of both members is sufficiently strong in the coupled state to ensure that the coupling is maintained when a user exercises a mecha- nical force on one of the members with the aim to displa- ce the coupled combination of both members between the 'open'and the'closed'end position. To achieve this, the material, position and way of mounting of said magne-

tic parts of both members are chosen to enable an avera- ge, normal speed and accelleration of the displacement of the coupled members between the'open'and the'closed' end position by a user.

The system according to the present invention is advantageously equipped with means to release the magne- tic coupling between the members, whereby operating said releasing means causes the members to be mechanically pushed away from eachother in opposite directions and with such a force that, at a certain moment, the separa- ting force is larger than the attracting force between said magnetic parts of the members, resulting in release of the magnetic coupling and enabling the members to be displaced independently of eachother between the'open' and the'closed'end position.

In a further preferred embodiment the system accor- ding to the present invention is advantageously equipped with means to release the magnetic coupling between the members, whereby operating said releasing means causes magnetically repelling parts of said members to be brought in eachothers proximity, creating such a repel- ling force opposite to the attracting force between said further magnetic parts of said members, that the overall magnetic coupling between the members is weakened and can be overcome easily, enabling the members to be displaced independently of eachother between the'open'and the 'closed'end position.

Said magnetic parts of both members of the system according to the present invention are advantageously chosen to be permanent magnets which are located in pairs

at opposing positions in or on both members when the members are both at the same time in the'open'or the 'closed end position.

In a preferred embodiment of the system according to the present invention said magnetic parts of one mem- ber consist of permanent magnets mounted in the member itself, and the magnetic parts of the other member are mounted in a number of buffers of a suitable material, mounted on the member, whereby magnets and buffers are located in pairs at opposing positions in, respectively on the member when the members are both at the same time in the'open'or the'closed'end position.

In the system according to the present invention, said permanent magnets may be completely enclosed by the material (s) of the members, for instance for reasons of esthetics or hygiene.

In the system according to the present invention, said permanent magnets may have various geometrical sha- pes, depending on for instance functionality, material characteristics, esthetics, or hygiene considerations.

The two members of the system according to the present invention are preferrably manufactured of highly magnetic permeable (penetrable) materials that do not weaken the magnetic fields significantly. If, for instan- ce for hygiene purposes, the magnets of one of the two members are completely enclosed by the material of that member, such material separating the enclosed magnet from its counterpart in or on the other member has to be suf- ficiently penetrable for magnetic fields to ensure a

sufficiently strong magnetic coupling between the members with the use of commonly available magnets. In case that, for instance, a combined magnet/buffer on one of the members is equipped with a cover or is painted, similar considerations are valid with respect to the cover mate- rial or the composition of the paint.

As set forth in the description above, the present invention can be advantageously applied when the members of the system according to the invention are a toilet seat and a toilet bowl lid respectively.

Figure 1 is a partly cross-sectional side-view of a system according to the present invention, showing means for mechanically releasing the magnetically coupled mem- bers.

Figures 2A and 2B are cross-sectional side-views of a system according to the present invention, showing means for magnetically releasing the magnetically coupled members.

Figure 3 is a perspective view of a preferred embo- diment of the system according to the present invention, whereby the members of the system are a toilet seat and toilet bowl lid.

Figure 4A is a side-view of a toilet bowl equipped with a preferred embodiment of the system according to the present invention, whereby the members of the system are a toilet seat and toilet bowl lid.

Figure 4B is a partly cross-sectional view of the area AA of figure 4A.

In the following two different means for releasing

the magnetically coupled members of the system according to the present invention, and a preferred embodiment of the system according to the present invention will be described. Description and drawings are merely meant to illustrate an application of the invention and should in no way be regarded as limiting the scope of the present invention.

The reader shall note that in the following des- criptions the term'upright'end position relates to the term'open'end position, and the term'horizontal'end position relates to the term'closed'end position.

According to the present invention the releasing of the magnetic coupling between member (A) and member (B) can be achieved mechanically or magnetically. For this purpose member (B) comprises means to release said magne- tic coupling. Figure 1 describes the releasing means when the mechanical releasing method is used. A cylindrical body (12) with an outer wall consisting of a flexible material, like for instance a suitable kind of plastic or rubber, is mounted in member (B). Said cylindrical body (12) contains a rigid cylindrical body (13), the lenght- axis of which coincides with the length-axis of the flexible, cylindrical body (12). The length of body (13) is somewhat larger than the length of body (12). When member (A) and member (B) are both in the horizontal end position and, consequently, are magnetically coupled, the rigid body (13) is pushed in upward direction, causing the flexible material of the enclosing body (12) to bulge in upward direction. When a user wishes to displace only member (B) to the upright end position, without member (A) being taken along in the displacement because of the described magnetic coupling between both members, the

magnetic coupling has to be released. This release may be achieved by a user for instance by placing the fingers of one hand in recess (4) under the outer rim of member (B) and by simultaneously using the thumb of the same hand to push said upward bulge of the flexible body (12) in down- ward direction. Because of the greater length of the rigid body (13) the bulge of body (12) will be moved to the bottom side of member (B). In this way member (B) will push against the underlying member (A) and exercises a force that is opposite to the attracting force of the magnetic coupling between member (A) and (B), resulting in an increasing distance between said members. Because of this increase in distance, the attracting force be- tween members (A) and (B) decreases. At a certain distan- ce, referred to as"release distance", said attracting force is not sufficient to maintain the magnetic coupling between member (A) and member (B) any longer, causing the coupling to be released, enabling displacement of member (B) to the upright end position, without taking along member (A) in the displacement. Evidently the flexibility of the material of body (12) and the length difference between the bodies (12) and (13) need to be sufficient to reach said release distance between member (A) and member (B). The rigid body (13) may even be omitted if the body (12) is solid and is manufactured of a flexible material with such characteristics that the body (12) re-assumes its original shape after having been pushed down by a user.

Figures 2A and 2B describe the releasing means when the magnetical releasing method is used. In this case the releasing means consists of a cylindrical recess in the bottom side of member (B), which is covered at the bottom side by a round cover (17). Said cover (17) which is

mounted in the opening of said cylindrical recess in the bottom side of member (B) by means of, for instance, glue, functions additionally as buffer between the mem- bers (A) and (B) and is manufactured of a material that is penetrable for magnetic fields. From the centre of cover (17) a cylindrical axis extends in upward directi- on. A hollow cylindrical button (11) is attached to the top-side of axis (15). Button (11) is covered by a cover (14) which bulges upward at the top-side of member (B) and is manufactured of a flexible material. When the bulging cover (14) is pushed downward, the underlying button (11) is pushed downward simultaneously. When the pushing force is removed, the bulge of cover (14) will return to the top side because of the flexibility of the material. To the bottom side of button (11) a disc-shaped magnet (16) is attached, which has a hole through its centre in which axis (15) is located. In the underlying member (A) a combination of a permanent magnet (91) and a buffer (92) is present. The orientation of the magnetic poles of magnet (16) is the opposite of the orientation of the magnetic poles of magnet (91) in the combination (91)- (92) which is located in member (A), directly below the releasing means, when the members (A) and (B) are both in the horizontal end position. When the flexible cover (14) is not pushed downward, the combination of button (11) and magnet (16) are pushed upward along the axis (15) by the repelling force between the magnets (16) and (91), until the button (11) pushes against the bottom side of the bulge of cover (14). By pushing the bulge in cover (14) down, a user simultaneously pushes down button (11) and the magnet (16) moves in downward direction until it reaches the inner side of cover (17) at the bottom side of the recess. When a user wishes to displace

only member (B) to the upright end position, without member (A) being taken along in the displacement because of the described magnetic coupling between both members, the magnetic coupling has to be released. This release may be achieved by a user for instance by placing the fingers of one hand in recess (4) under the outer rim of member (B) and by simultaneously using the thumb of the same hand to push said upward bulge of the flexible cover (14) in downward direction, causing button (11) to be pushed down at the same time. As a result of these acti- ons, magnet (16) moves in downward direction along axis (15) and approaches the opposite magnet (91) in member (A). Because of said opposite orientation of the magnetic poles of these magnets, equal magnetic poles are brought into proximity of eachother, resulting in an increasing repelling force between the magnets (16) and (91) as the magnets approach eachother. This repelling force between magnet (15) and magnet (91) opposes the attracting force of the magnetic coupling of members (A) and (B). This weakens the magnetic coupling between member (A) and member (B) until the point that it can easily be relea- sed, enabling displacement of member (B) to the upright end position, without taking along member (A) in the displacement.

According to a preferred embodiment of the system with releasing means according to the present invention, as shown in figures 3,4A and 4B, a toilet seat (1) and a toilet bowl lid (2) are attached to an axis (5) by means of hinges (3), whereby axis (5) is fitted to a toilet bowl (7) using standard fastening means (6). By rotating seat (1) and lid (2) around axis (5) they can be displa- ced between a horizontal and an upright end position. To

facilitate a user's grip on the lid (2), a recess (4) is provided under the outer rim at the front side of the lid. Permanent magnets (8), having a round shape in this particular embodiment of the system according to the present invention, are mounted on the bottom side of the lid (2) by means of commonly used fastening means. Said magnets (8) additionally function as buffers between seat and lid and may be provided with a cover or coating (not shown in the drawings) of a suitable material like a plastic or rubber.

The seat (1) comprises means (9), each consisting of a permanent magnet (91) and a buffer (thin layer of mate- rial. The buffer (92) is resting on the toilet bowl and is manufactured of a suitable material like a plastic or rubber. The means (9) may be mounted in recesses in seat (1) from the bottom side.

The magnets (8) and (9) are located in pairs at opposite positions in toilet seat (1) and toilet bowl lid (2) respectively. The positions of the positive and negative poles of the magnets (8) and (9) are such that the toilet seat (1) and the toilet bowl lid (2) become magnetically coupled when they are both in the horizontal end positi- on, as shown in figure 4A, because of the attracting force between each pair of magnets (8)- (9). Said magnetic coupling is sufficiently strong to be maintained when a user places his fingers in the recess (4) under the lid and exercises an upward force on the lid, enabling dis- placement of the magnetically coupled combination of seat (1) and lid (2) from the horizontal end position to the upright end position, with normal average speed and ac- celleration. Also during the reverse displacement to the horizontal end position, the magnetic coupling may be maintained. To perform both displacements a user is not

required to touch the bottom side of the toilet seat.

When one desires to use the toilet in seated position, the toilet seat (1) normally needs to be in the horizon- tal end position, and the lid (2) in the upright end position, as shown in figure 3. To achieve this, the magnetic coupling between seat and lid needs to be relea- sed.

By using the described coupling and releasing means ac- cording to the present invention, a user may now couple, release and displace the toilet seat and the toilet bowl lid between the horizontal and the upright end position, using only one hand and without the need to touch either the bottom side of the toilet seat or the edge of the toilet bowl.

All parts of the described embodiment of the system according to the present invention are commonly available and can be manufactured by using commonly available mate- rials and commonly known production methods.