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Title:
TOILET ACCESSORY WITH STERILIZATION ELEMENTS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2007/133537
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
Devices, systems and methods for sanitizing or sterilizing one or more surfaces of a toilet accessory by directing a sanitizing or a sterilizing dose of germicidal electromagnetic radiation onto those surfaces are provided. The germicidal electromagnetic radiation may be ultraviolet (UV) radiation provided by at least one UV lamp integral with the toilet accessory. The UV lamps may be light-emitting diodes. Surfaces that may be sanitized or sterilized include a toilet seat surface, and a retractable nozzle surface. Systems include a toilet accessory, a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation, a fluid connection and a power connection. Methods include steps of irradiating a surface with a sanitizing or sterilizing dose of germicidal electromagnetic radiation, and may further include steps of closing a toilet lid prior to an irradiation step, steps of extending a nozzle prior to an irradiation step, and steps of retracting a nozzle prior to an irradiation step.

Inventors:
PINIZZOTTO, Scott (3538 California Street, San Francisco, CA, 94118, US)
Application Number:
US2007/011098
Publication Date:
November 22, 2007
Filing Date:
May 07, 2007
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BRONDELL, INC. (2183 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA, 94114, US)
PINIZZOTTO, Scott (3538 California Street, San Francisco, CA, 94118, US)
International Classes:
F23Q7/00; H05B1/00
Foreign References:
GB2300653A
US5963991A
US6167576B1
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FOX, James, A. et al. (Heller Ehrman LLP, 275 Middlefield RoadMenlo Park, CA, 94025-3506, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A toilet accessory configured for use with a toilet having a toilet bowl, the toilet accessory comprising a retractable nozzle with a distal portion and a surface, said retractable nozzle being configured to assume an extended position in which said distal portion of said nozzle extending into said toilet bowl when said toilet accessory is in place on said toilet, said toilet accessory having a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation configured to direct electromagnetic radiation towards said nozzle effective to sterilize said surface of said nozzle.

2. The toilet accessory of claim 1 , wherein said source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation comprises a source of ultraviolet radiation.

3. The toilet accessory of claim 2, wherein said ultraviolet radiation comprises ultraviolet radiation having a wavelength of between about 200 nm and about 310 nm.

4. The toilet accessory of claim 1 , said nozzle further being configured to assume a retracted position with said distal portion of said nozzle not disposed within said toilet bowl, wherein said source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation is configured to direct electromagnetic radiation towards said nozzle when said nozzle is in said retracted position.

5. The toilet accessory of claim 1 , wherein said source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation is configured to direct electromagnetic radiation towards said nozzle when said nozzle is in said extended position.

6. The toilet accessory of claim 1 , further comprising a toilet seat with a surface wherein said source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation is configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation effective to sterilize said surfaces of said seat and said nozzle.

7. The toilet accessory of claim 6, said nozzle further being configured to assume a retracted position with said distal portion of said nozzle not being

disposed within the toilet bowl, wherein said source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation is configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards said nozzle when said nozzle is in said retracted position.

8. The toilet accessory of claim 6, wherein said source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation is configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards said nozzle when said nozzle is in said extended position.

9. A toilet accessory having a retractable nozzle with a surface, said retractable nozzle being configured to assume an extended position and being configured to assume a retracted position, and comprising germicidal electromagnetic radiation sanitization means configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards said nozzle surface effective to sanitize said nozzle surface.

10. The toilet accessory of claim 9, further having a seat with a surface, wherein said germicidal electromagnetic radiation sanitization means is effective to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards said seat surface and said nozzle surface effective to sanitize said toilet seat surface and said nozzle surface.

11. The toilet accessory of claim 9, wherein said sanitization means comprises germicidal electromagnetic radiation sterilization means configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards said nozzle surface effective to sterilize said nozzle surface.

12. The toilet accessory of claim 10, wherein said sanitization means comprises germicidal electromagnetic radiation sterilization means configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards said nozzle surface effective to sterilize said nozzle surface and said seat surface.

13. A system for providing personal waste disposal in connection with a toilet and an external sewage system, comprising:

a toilet accessory having a nozzle with a surface, and a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation configured to irradiate said surface with germicidal electromagnetic radiation;

a fluid inlet;

a fluid outlet; and

a source or conduit of electrical power effective to provide electrical power for said source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation.

14. A method of sanitizing a surface of at least a portion of a toilet accessory having a nozzle with a surface, and a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation, said toilet accessory configured for use with a toilet bowl, the method comprising:

irradiating said surface of at least a portion of a surface of said nozzle with germicidal electromagnetic radiation.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein said sanitizing comprises sterilizing said nozzle surface, and said step of irradiating said nozzle surface with germicidal electromagnetic radiation comprises irradiating said nozzle surface with a sterilizing dose of germicidal electromagnetic radiation effective to kill more than half the microorganisms present on said surface.

16. The method of claim 14, wherein said germicidal electromagnetic radiation comprises ultraviolet radiation.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein said ultraviolet radiation comprises ultraviolet radiation having a wavelength of between about 200 nm and about 310 nm.

18. The method of claim 16, wherein said toilet accessory further comprises a toilet seat with a surface, and said irradiating step further comprises irradiating a portion of the surface of said toilet seat.

19. The method of claim 14, wherein said nozzle comprises a retractable nozzle with a distal portion, and said irradiated portion of said toilet accessory comprises a distal portion of said retractable nozzle.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein said toilet accessory further comprises a receptacle configured to receive said retractable nozzle and having a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation configured to provide germicidal electromagnetic radiation within said receptacle, further comprising retracting said nozzle into the receptacle prior to irradiating the nozzle, effective to allow exposure of a surface of the nozzle to germicidal electromagnetic radiation within the receptacle.

21. The method of claim 19, further comprising extending said retractable nozzle into a toilet bowl prior to irradiating the nozzle, effective to expose said nozzle to germicidal radiation from said source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation,.

22. The method of claim 19, wherein said irradiated portion of said toilet accessory comprises portions of said retractable nozzle and portions of said toilet seat.

23. The method of claim 14, wherein said irradiating step comprises irradiating said surface of at least a portion of a toilet accessory for a period of time having a duration selected from the group of durations consisting of between about 1 second and about 5 hours; between about 15 seconds and about 1 hour; between about 30 seconds and about 30 minutes; and between about 1 minute and about 20 minutes.

24. The method of claim 14, wherein said irradiating step comprises irradiating at an intensity of between about 10 μwatts/cm 2 to about 1000 mwatts/cm 2 .

25. A toilet accessory for use with a toilet bowl, said toilet accessory having a nozzle, a toilet seat and a toilet lid, said seat, nozzle, lid, and bowl having surfaces, said toilet accessory further comprising a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards said nozzle effective to sanitize a nozzle surface.

26. The toilet accessory of claim 25, wherein said sanitization of a nozzle surface comprises sterilization of a nozzle surface.

27. The toilet accessory of claim 25, wherein said source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation is configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards said nozzle and towards another surface effective to sanitize a nozzle surface and another surface.

28. The toilet accessory of claim 25, further comprising a sensor configured to detect the presence or absence of a user of said toilet accessory.

29. The toilet accessory of claim 25, further comprising a hinge having portions and a conduit, wherein said conduit passes through at least a portion of said hinge.

30. The toilet accessory of claim 29, wherein said conduit is configured to provide passage of a connection selected from the group of connections consisting of a power connection, a control connection, and a fluid connection.

Description:

TOILET ACCESSORY WITH STERILIZATION ELEMENTS

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to toilets and bidets, and components, accessories, and devices related to toilets and bidets, and methods for maintaining and using the same. In particular, the invention relates to components, devices, and accessories having elements that are effective to sanitize or sterilize desired portions or surfaces of a toilet, bidet, or toilet or bidet component, systems including such components, devices, and accessories, and methods for their use and maintenance.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Toilets and bidets are well known to require cleaning and maintenance for their use and for the hygiene of those using them. Toilets and bidets may harbor bacteria and other microorganisms that are considered to be undesirable. Thus, there is need for devices, systems and methods for inactivating or killing such microorganisms.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Devices, components, accessories, systems and methods for sanitizing and sterilizing surfaces of toilets, bidets, toilet accessories, bidet accessories, and combinations thereof, including seats, lids, bowls, nozzles and other accessories and related elements or components are provided. Accessories having features of the invention include toilet accessories configured for use in conjunction with a toilet bowl, bidet accessories configured for use in conjunction with a bidet bowl, and a seat-bidet type toilet accessory configured for use in conjunction with a toilet bowl. Such accessories may include a nozzle; may include an accessory pod; may include a seat and a nozzle; may include a seat, a lid, and a nozzle; and may include any combination of these and of other elements and features. A nozzle may be a retractable nozzle. One or more surfaces of one or more of such elements may be sanitized or sterilized. A seat surface, a nozzle surface, a seat surface and a nozzle surface, a toilet bowl surface, a bidet bowl surface, and other surfaces may be sanitized or sterilized by a sanitization or sterilization means or a

source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation effective to sanitize or to sterilize a surface.

[0004] Devices having features of the invention include a toilet accessory, a bidet accessory, a set-bidet type toilet accessory, a toilet, a bidet, and a seat-bidet type toilet having a surface and comprising a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation, in which the source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation is configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards the surface effective to sanitize or to sterilize that surface.

[0005] Devices having features of the invention include a toilet accessory (e.g. an accessory for use with a toilet, and which includes a bidet accessory, and a seat- bidet type toilet accessory) having a surface and comprising a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation, in which the source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation is configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards the surface of a toilet accessory effective to sanitize or to sterilize that surface. In embodiments, the surface may be a surface of a seat, a surface of a nozzle, such as a spray nozzle configured to extend within a toilet bowl or another surface. A source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation may be any source, including a lamp, a light-emitting diode, or other source of electromagnetic radiation. It will be understood that any electromagnetic sterilization means configured to emit germicidal electromagnetic radiation may provide a suitable source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation, and that any electromagnetic sanitization means configured to emit germicidal electromagnetic radiation may provide a suitable source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation.

[0006] In some embodiments, a toilet accessory, a bidet accessory, and/or a seat-bidet type toilet accessory, may have a seat, and a sterilization element or sterilization means. In some embodiments, a toilet accessory may have a seat, a nozzle or nozzles, and a sterilization element or sterilization means. Alternatively, a sanitization means or sanitization element may be provided in place of the sterilization means or sterilization element. A sterilization element or sterilization means typically includes a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation, and may comprise one, two, or more individual sources of germicidal electromagnetic radiation. A toilet accessory may have a lid. A toilet may have a bowl. A toilet accessory may have a nozzle. A nozzle may be a retractable nozzle. A retractable

nozzle is configured to be able to assume an extended position and to assume a retracted position. In embodiments, a toilet accessory may be configured so that a portion of a retractable nozzle, when in an extended position, may be disposed within a toilet bowl when the accessory is in place and in use with the toilet.

[0007] A toilet accessory having features of the invention and having a seat, may have a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation that is configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards the seat effective to sterilize or to sanitize at least a portion of the seat surface. A toilet accessory having features of the invention and having a nozzle or nozzles, may have a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation that is configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards the nozzle effective to sterilize or to sanitize a nozzle surface. A toilet accessory having features of the invention and having a seat and a nozzle, may have a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation effective to sterilize surfaces of the seat and the nozzle or nozzles. The source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation may be configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards the nozzle or nozzles in a retracted position, may be configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards the nozzle or nozzles when the nozzle or nozzles are in an extended position, may be configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards the nozzle or nozzles when the nozzle or nozzles are in an retracted position, or may be configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards the nozzle or nozzles when in any position. The source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation may be configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards the nozzle or nozzles and towards the toilet seat, effective to sterilize surfaces of the nozzle or nozzles and of the seat.

[0008] A toilet accessory having features of the invention may further have a lid. The lid may include a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation, may provide a support for a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation; may include surfaces effective to reflect germicidal electromagnetic radiation in a desired direction; may include cables, connectors, and other electrical elements operatively associated with a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation; and may include mechanical elements such as a hinge, a latch, a latch-release, and other mechanical elements.

[0009] A toilet accessory having features of the invention may have a sensor configured effective to sense whether or not a lid is in a closed or open configuration; a sensor configured effective to sense whether or not a lid is in a latched configuration; a sensor configured effective to sense whether or not a user is seated on a seat; and a sensor configured effective to sense another event of interest.

[0010] The source of electromagnetic radiation may be a source of ultraviolet radiation. In embodiments, the ultraviolet radiation may include electromagnetic radiation having wavelengths of between about 200 nm and about 310 nm. In embodiments, the source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation is configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards said nozzle or nozzles when one or more of the nozzles is in a retracted position. In embodiments, the source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation is configured to direct germicidal electromagnetic radiation towards the nozzle when the nozzle is in an extended position.

[0011] The germicidal electromagnetic radiation suitable for the methods disclosed herein may comprise ultraviolet radiation, and may comprise ultraviolet radiation having a wavelength of between about 200 nm and about 310 nm. Irradiation of a surface of at least a portion of a toilet, such as a toilet seat, a nozzle, or a toilet seat and a nozzle, is preferably at an intensity and is preferably continued for a period of time effective to sanitize and/or sterilize such surface or surfaces. Irradiation may be for a period of time greater than about 1 second, or for a period of time greater than about 30 seconds, or for a period of time greater than about 5 minutes, or for a period of time greater than about 30 minutes. In embodiments, irradiation is provided in a single pulse, or in multiple pulses, of electromagnetic radiation.

[0012] In embodiments of the methods disclosed herein, irradiation may be for a period of time of between about 1 second and about 5 hours, or may be for a period of time of between about 15 seconds and about 1 hour, or for a period of time of between about 30 seconds and about 30 minutes, or for a period of time of between about 1 minute and about 20 minutes, or for another time period effective to sterilize the surface or to sanitize the surface. Irradiation may be, for example, at an intensity of greater than about 10 μwatts/cm 2 (microwatts per square

centimeter), or at an intensity of greater than about 100 μwatts/cm 2 , or at an intensity of greater than about 1 mwatts/cm 2 (milliwatts per square centimeter), or at an intensity of greater than about 10 mwatts/cm 2 , or at another intensity. Irradiation may be, for example, at an intensity range of between about 10 μwatts/cm 2 to about 1000 mwatts/cm 2 , or at an intensity range of between about 100 μwatts/cm 2 to about 100 mwatts/cm 2 , or other intensity range.

[0013] Irradiation may be by pulses of radiation. Such pulses may be of very short duration, e.g., between about 0.01 microseconds (μseconds) and about 100 milliseconds, or may be longer (e.g., between about 100 milliseconds and about 10 seconds). In embodiments, the intensity of energy provided during a pulse may be, e.g., between about 0.01 μwatts/cm 2 and about 100 μwatts/cm 2 . In embodiments, the intensity of energy provided during a pulse may be, e.g., between about 0.01 joules/cm 2 and about 100 μwatts/cm 2 .

[0014] Also provided are systems for providing personal waste disposal in connection with an external sewage system. In embodiments, a system for providing personal waste disposal in connection with external plumbing and/or sewage systems comprises a toilet having a fluid inlet and a fluid outlet; and a toilet accessory, the toilet accessory having a nozzle with a surface and a source of germicidal electromagnetic radiation configured to sterilize said surface; and a source or conduit of electrical power effective to provide electrical power for said source of electromagnetic radiation.

[0015] Also provided are methods of sanitizing and of sterilizing a surface of a toilet accessory, including methods of sanitizing or sterilizing a seat surface, a nozzle surface, or other surface of a toilet accessory. In embodiments, a method of sanitizing or sterilizing a nozzle comprises: irradiating a surface of a nozzle with germicidal electromagnetic radiation, effective to sanitize or to sterilize the surface. A nozzle may be a spray nozzle, and may be a retractable nozzle. In embodiments, the methods may also include retracting the nozzle into a receptacle prior to sterilizing the nozzle.

[0016] Methods provided include methods of sanitizing and of sterilizing a seat and a nozzle surface of a toilet accessory, comprising: irradiating a surface of a toilet seat and a surface of a nozzle with germicidal electromagnetic radiation,

effective to sanitize or to sterilize the surfaces. Methods provided further include methods of sanitizing and of sterilizing a seat and a nozzle surface of a toilet accessory, and a toilet surface (such as, for example, a surface of a toilet bowl) comprising: irradiating a surface of a toilet seat and a surface of a nozzle and a surface of a toilet with germicidal electromagnetic radiation, effective to sanitize or to sterilize the surfaces.

[0017] Sanitization and/or sterilization of a nozzle, and/or a seat, and/or a toilet surface such as a toilet bowl, may be done separately, or together. When done together, such sanitization and/or sterilization may be done simultaneously, or in any order. Sanitization and/or sterilization of a seat may be applied to a standard toilet seat, a toilet seat configured to close slowly, a toilet seat with heating means, or other toilet seat. Sanitization and/or sterilization of a seat may be applied to a bidet seat, a seat of a seat-bidet style toilet, or other seat. Sanitization and/or sterilization of a toilet surface, such as a toilet bowl, may be applied to a toilet bowl, a bidet bowl, a bowl of a seat-bidet style toilet, or other bowl or other toilet surface.

[0018] Methods for sanitizing and/or sterilizing one or more surfaces of a toilet accessory, such as, e.g., toilet seat surfaces and/or nozzle surfaces, include steps of irradiating such surfaces for a period of time effective to sanitize and/or sterilize the surface. In embodiments of the methods disclosed herein, periods of time effective to sanitize and/or sterilize a surface may have durations of between about 1 second and about 5 hours, or between about 15 seconds and about 1 hour, or between about 30 seconds and about 30 minutes, or between about 1 minute and about 20 minutes, or may have other durations effective to sanitize and/or sterilize the target surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0019] Figure 1 is a schematic view of a system having features of the invention including a toilet accessory in operative configuration in place on a toilet bowl, the toilet accessory having a seat and a lid, and including germicidal lamps effective to sanitize or sterilize an upper portion of the toilet seat.

[0020] Figure 2 is a schematic view of a system having features of the invention including a toilet accessory in operative configuration in place on a toilet bowl, the

toilet accessory having a pod having a retractable nozzle and including germicidal lamps effective to sanitize or sterilize at least a portion of the surface of the nozzle.

[0021] Figure 3A is a schematic view of a system having features of the invention including a toilet accessory in place in operative configuration attached to a toilet bowl, the toilet accessory having a seat, a lid, and an accessory pod having a retractable nozzle and including germicidal lamps effective to sanitize or sterilize an upper portion of the surface of the toilet seat and to sanitize or sterilize at least a portion of the surface of the nozzle.

[0022] Figure 3B is a schematic view of a system having features of the invention including a toilet accessory in place in operative configuration attached to a toilet bowl, the toilet accessory having a seat, a lid, and an accessory pod having a retractable nozzle and including a germicidal lamp and reflector effective to sanitize or sterilize portions of the toilet seat surface and to sanitize or sterilize a portion of the nozzle surface.

[0023] Figure 4A is a schematic view of a system having features of the invention, including a toilet accessory having features of the invention, showing the toilet accessory in place in operative position attached to a toilet, and having an accessory pod and several nozzles in extended positions within the toilet bowl.

[0024] Figure 4B is a schematic cross-sectional view of a portion of the system of Fig. 4A having features of the invention, showing the rear portion of the toilet bowl, and portions of the toilet accessory, including the accessory pod, the toilet seat, and the toilet lid, showing a germicidal lamp positioned within the accessory pod effective to sanitize or sterilize a surface of a nozzle when the nozzle is in a retracted position within the accessory pod.

[0025] Figure 5 is a schematic cross-sectional view of portions of a toilet accessory having features of the invention and of a toilet, showing the upper portion of a toilet bowl, and portions of a toilet accessory, including an accessory pod, toilet seat, and lid, showing a germicidal lamp positioned adjacent the lid effective to sanitize or sterilize upper portions of the toilet seat and to sterilize upper portions of the surface of a nozzle when the nozzle is in an extended position.

[0026] Figure 6A is a schematic view of a toilet accessory having features of the invention, the toilet accessory having a seat and lid, showing the lid in an open position and showing a germicidal lamp mounted on an inner surface of the lid.

[0027] Figure 6B is a schematic cross-sectional view of the toilet accessory of Fig. 6A, showing the seat and lid, with the lid in a closed position, and showing a germicidal lamp mounted on an inner surface of the lid and indicating some paths of irradiation of a seat surface by radiation emitted from the germicidal lamp.

[0028] Figure 7A is a schematic view of a toilet accessory having features of the invention, the toilet accessory having a seat and lid, and showing the lid in an open position, the lid including inner reflecting portions, and showing a germicidal lamp mounted on an inner surface of the lid.

[0029] Figure 7B is a schematic cross-sectional view of the toilet accessory of Fig. 7A, with the lid in a closed position, the lid including inner reflecting portions, showing a germicidal lamp mounted on an inner surface of the lid and indicating some paths of irradiation of a seat surface by radiation emitted from the germicidal lamp.

[0030] Figure 8A is a schematic view of a toilet accessory having features of the invention, the toilet accessory having a seat and lid having features of the invention, showing the lid in an open position, the lid including multiple germicidal lamps mounted on an inner surface of the lid.

[0031] Figure 8B is a schematic cross-sectional view of the toilet accessory of Fig. 8A, with the lid in a closed position, indicating some paths of irradiation of a seat surface by radiation emitted from the germicidal lamps.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0032] The devices, systems and methods disclosed herein provide sanitation and sterilization of a surface or surfaces of a toilet, a bidet, a seat-bidet type toilet, and accessories for use with these. As used herein, the term "toilet" will be understood to include a toilet, a bidet, and a seat-bidet type toilet, the term "toilet accessory" will be understood to include a toilet accessory, a bidet accessory, and a seat-bidet type toilet accessory, and related terms will be similarly understood to apply equally to a bidet and a seat-bidet type toilet when a matter is discussed with respect to a "toilet." It will be understood that the plural form of these terms (e.g.

"toilets," and "toilet accessories") and other related variants of these terms are included in these definitions. Thus, in view of these inclusive definitions of the terms "toilet" and "toilet accessory", disclosed herein are toilet accessories and toilets, systems including toilet accessories and toilets, and methods for using the same.

[0033] Accessories for use with a toilet include elements having surfaces such as a seat, a lid, a nozzle or nozzles, and other elements. A toilet having or utilizing features of the invention may include a nozzle or nozzles suitable for personal cleaning purposes. Such a nozzle, or nozzles, may be configured to emit a stream or spray of water from within a toilet bowl, and may be configured to extend into, and to retract from, a working position within a toilet bowl.

[0034] Toilet surfaces which may benefit from sanitization or sterilization include a toilet bowl. Surfaces of a toilet accessory that may be sanitized or sterilized include a surface or surfaces of a toilet seat, including an upper surface of a toilet seat, a surface or surfaces of a nozzle, surfaces of multiple nozzles, a toilet lid surface, a toilet bowl surface, and other surfaces of portions or elements of a toilet.

Definitions

[0035] As used herein, the term "toilet" will be taken to include a toilet, a bidet, and a seat-bidet type toilet. Thus, where a toilet is discussed, unless otherwise limited, it will be understood that a bidet and a seat-bidet type toilet are also discussed in the same way. For example, where a toilet bowl is discussed below, it will be understood that the discussion applies equally to a bidet bowl and to a bowl of a seat-bidet type toilet.

[0036] As used herein, a "toilet" (as defined inclusively above to include toilets, bidets, and seat-bidet style toilets) includes a bowl and plumbing connections effective to integrate the toilet with an external sewage and plumbing system to provide water inflow and sewage outflow, and may include other elements,.such as a tank, handle, and other elements.

[0037] As used herein in conjunction with a toilet (as defined above), the term "accessory" refers to a device or system that is configured to be used with a toilet. For example, a seat-bidet accessory may include a seat, a lid, a bidet nozzle, and associated equipment (which may, e.g., be housed in an "accessory pod") that is

configured to be attached to a toilet, atop a toilet bowl, and to provide a seat for use of the toilet by a user and a nozzle to provide bidet functionality for the user.

[0038] As used herein, a "toilet accessory" is an element or set of elements configured for use with a toilet, and may be a seat configured for use with a toilet; a seat and lid combination; a seat and nozzle combination; a seat, lid and accessory pod combination; a seat, lid, nozzle and accessory pod combination; and other elements and combinations of elements configured for use with a toilet. The term "toilet accessory" will be taken to include a toilet accessory, a bidet accessory, and a seat-bidet type toilet accessory. Accessories for use with either a standard toilet or a seat-bidet style toilet may include a seat, a Nd, and/or other elements. Accessories for use with a bidet or a seat-bidet style toilet may include a seat, a nozzle, and/or other elements. Thus, where a toilet accessory is discussed, it will be understood that the discussion applies equally to a bidet accessory, a seat-bidet type toilet accessory, and other accessories.

[0039] A seat-bidet style toilet combines features of a standard toilet, providing a seat and a means for collecting and removing waste, with a bidet, which provides a stream of water or other fluid for personal cleansing and a means for collecting and removing waste water or fluid which results from the use of the bidet. A seat-bidet style toilet includes a toilet bowl and a nozzle.

[0040] As used herein, a "nozzle" is a toilet accessory or element of a toilet accessory configured to provide a fluid stream, spray or mist. Such as fluid stream, spray, or mist may be a fluid stream, spray, or mist as is typically found in a conventional bidet. The nozzle may be a spray nozzle. In embodiments, a toilet accessory may have more than one nozzle. A toilet accessory having a nozzle may include a seat, a lid, an accessory pod operatively connected with a nozzle, and may include a source of electromagnetic radiation for sanitizing or sterilizing a nozzle, a seat, a toilet bowl, and/or other elements.

[0041] As used herein, the term "conduit" refers to an element, or space, providing an inner void and optionally having an outer surface, that is configured to contain elements, such as wires, tubes, or other elongated elements, within itself. A conduit may provide such elongated elements with passage through another element, and by doing so, may provide protection of such elongated elements. A

conduit may be a separate element, or may comprise a void disposed within, or through, another element.

[0042] As used herein, the terms "sanitize" and "sanitization" refer to the act of inactivating (i.e., preventing the proliferation of) or killing bacteria or other microorganisms that may be present on a surface. Thus, sanitization of a surface has been accomplished, for example, when some microorganisms previously present on the surface have been inactivated or killed.

[0043] As used herein, the terms "sterilize" and "sterilization" refer to the act of inactivating or killing more than half the microorgnaisms present on a surface. Thus, as the term is used herein, sterilization of a surface has been accomplished when more than half the microorganisms previously present on the surface have been inactivated or killed. It will be understood that, in some instances, sterilization may result in the inactivating or killing of much more than half of all microorganisms present on a surface, and may include instances where all microorganisms present on a surface have been inactivated or killed.

[0044] It will be understood that where a sanitization element or device is discussed, for example, as being suitable to effect the sanitization of a surface, a sterilization element or device will similarly be suitable to effect the sterilization of the surface. It will be further understood that where a sanitization means is discussed, for example, as being suitable to effect sanitization of a surface, a sterilization means will similarly be suitable to effect sterilization of the surface. In addition, it will be understood that where a sterilization element or device is discussed, for example, as being suitable to effect sterilization of a surface, a sanitization element or device will similarly be suitable to effect sanitization of the surface. It will be further understood that where a sterilization means is discussed, for example, as being suitable to effect sterilization of a surface, a sanitization means will similarly be suitable to effect sanitization of the surface. Thus, as used herein, although both terms refer to the inactivation or killing of target microorganisms, "sterilization" is a particularly effective form of "sanitization," since the extent of inactivation or killing of the target microorganisms required for "sterilization" is greater than the extent of inactivation or killing of the target microorganisms required for "sanitization."

[0045] As used herein, the terms "irradiation" and "irradiating" refer to the application of electromagnetic radiation to a surface. For example, direction of ultraviolet radiation towards a surface, effective that some of that ultraviolet radiation arrives at the target surface, may be termed "irradiation" of that surface by electromagnetic radiation having wavelengths within the ultraviolet range.

[0046] The period of time during which irradiation is applied to the surface is termed the "irradiation time." The irradiation time required to sterilize a surface is shortened as the radiation intensity (or power) increases, and is lengthened as the radiation intensity (or power) decreases. Irradiation time required to sterilize a surface decreases as the radiation wavelength approaches that of the peak effective wavelength, and increases as the radiation wavelength grows longer or shorter than the peak effective wavelength. The time needed to sanitize or sterilize a surface by exposure to germicidal radiation is a function of the source power, source shape, and the distance from the source to the target surface to ensure that all critical surfaces receive a large enough dose to inactivate or kill target pathogens. The duration of the time period of irradiation for effecting sanitization or sterilization of a surface may be between about 1 second and about 5 hours, or between about 15 seconds and about 1 hour, or between about 30 seconds and about 30 minutes, or between about 1 minute and about 20 minutes, or of another duration.

[0047] A "source of electromagnetic radiation" is any device or element that emits electromagnetic radiation. Where the electromagnetic radiation is radiation having a wavelength or wavelengths falling within the ultraviolet range, such a source is a "source of ultraviolet radiation" or an "ultraviolet source."

[0048] As used herein, the term "germicidal" refers to an agent, act or element effective to damage, inactivate, or kill microorganisms, such as, for example, bacteria, mold, fungus, mycoplasma, and other microorganisms ("germs").

[0049] A "germicidal lamp" is a lamp that emits electromagnetic radiation effective to sanitize or sterilize a surface exposed to the emitted radiation. A germicidal lamp may be, for example, an ultraviolet lamp.

[0050] The terms "ultraviolet" or "UV" as used herein refer to the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum encompassing radiation having wavelengths of between

about 100 nm and about 400 nm. UV radiation is commonly classified into four wavelength ranges: Vacuum UV (between about 100 nm and about 200 nm); UV- C (between about 200 nm and about 280 nm); UV-B (between about 280 nm and about 315 nm); and UV-A (between about 315 nm and about 400 nm). Sources of electromagnetic radiation useful for sanitizing or sterilizing toilet surfaces include sources of UV-A 1 UV-B, and UV-C, and include sources providing radiation having wavelengths within more than one of these ranges.

[0051] Air significantly absorbs some shorter wavelengths of ultraviolet radiation (e.g., wavelengths of about 185 nm and shorter) so that, where a source of ultraviolet radiation emits its radiation in air, the wavelengths that are effective for sanitization or sterilization of surfaces located at any significant distance from the source may be limited to ultraviolet wavelengths of between about 185 nm and about 400 nm, or between about 200 nm and about 310 nm.

[0052] Ultraviolet radiation is damaging to living tissues and is useful for damaging or killing bacteria and other microorganisms. Ultraviolet radiation may break some chemical bonds, causing damage to genetic materials, connective tissues, and other cellular components. In addition, ultraviolet radiation may induce cross-linking between other components, for example damaging genetic material by inducing thymidine dimers within the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecules of a microorganism, thereby preventing, or reducing the rate of, the proliferation of the microorganism.

[0053] Optimum wavelengths for use in many germicidal applications are between about 245 nm and about 285 nm, with wavelengths near about 265 nm being particularly useful for damaging, inactivating, or killing microorganisms. Many commercially useful ultraviolet lamps (e.g., low pressure mercury vapor lamps) provide germicidal ultraviolet light with a peak intensity wavelength near about 254 nm (or, more precisely, near about 253.7 nm). Longer wavelengths are also effective to inactivate or kill microorganisms, including wavelengths above 300 nm and wavelengths up to and above 400 nm. Light-emitting diodes are also available that provide electromagnetic radiation including ultraviolet wavelengths. Such lamps and light-emitting diodes are suitable for inactivating or killing microorganisms by exposure of the microorganisms to electromagnetic radiation emitted by the lamps and light-emitting diodes.

[0054] Electromagnetic radiation such as UV radiation for inactivating or killing microorganisms may be provided continuously, for a limited duration of time, or intermittently, including single pulses, two pulses separated by an inactive period, and pulsed radiation provided at regular or at irregular intervals. Energy for pulses may be accumulated and stored, for example, by accumulation of charge in a capacitor or in capacitors, which are configured to release the stored energy effective to provide a brief and intense pulse (or flash) of energy for inactivating or killing microorganisms exposed to the pulse energy. A subsequent pulse may be provided after an interval during which further charge or electrical energy is accumulated in the capacitor(s). The energy provided by a pulse may be of any intensity. In embodiments, the intensity of energy provided during a pulse may be, e.g., between about 0.01 joules/cm 2 and about 100 joules/cm 2 .

[0055] For example, a surface may be irradiated with a single pulse of UV, where the pulse has a pulse duration selected from, for example, 0.1 μsecond, 0.2 μseconds, 0.5 μseconds, 1 μsecond, 2 μseconds, 3 μseconds, 10 μseconds, 100 μseconds, 500 μseconds, 1 millisecond, 10 milliseconds, 100 milliseconds, 1 second, or other duration. Two pulses, e.g. pulses having durations as illustrated above, may be separated by an inactive period of 0.1 μseconds to about 100 μseconds, or may be separated by an inactive period of 0.1 seconds to about 10 seconds, or other duration. Many pulses may also be provided, having such pulse durations, and having such in active intervals. Multiple pulses may be termed a pulse train. Where multiple pulses are provided, the pulse pairs being separated by inactive periods, the durations of the pulses and/or of the inactive periods need not be the same for each pulse or inactive interval of a pulse train. Pulses may be, e.g., applied at rates of about 1 to about 20 pulses per second. The durations of pulsed UV may be, e.g., between about 0.1 μseconds to about 100 second, or between about 0.1 μseconds to about 1 second, or other duration.

[0056] A toilet accessory having features of the invention is preferably configured for use with a toilet bowl, and may have a toilet seat and lid, or a toilet seat, lid, and a nozzle or nozzles. The nozzle or nozzles may be operatively connected with an accessory pod, which may house the nozzles in one configuration, and may include elements effective to extend the nozzle or nozzles out of the accessory pod. Elements effective to extend the nozzle or nozzles out of the accessory pod

may include mechanical elements, electrical elements, hydraulic elements, solenoids, motors, gears, and other elements.

[0057] A nozzle in an extended position may be configured to extend into a toilet bowl. A nozzle in an extended position within a toilet bowl is effective to provide a fluid stream, such as a stream of water, for personal cleansing of a user of the toilet. A toilet accessory having a nozzle or nozzles may be configured to operatively connect with a source of fluid, such as to a plumbing system configured to provide water.

[0058] In use, a toilet accessory may be mounted on a toilet bowl, with a seat disposed above and adjacent an upper portion of the toilet bowl. Where the toilet accessory includes a lid, the lid may attach to a hinge which is typically disposed near the rear of the toilet bowl, and in front of the toilet tank (if any). An accessory pod, of a toilet accessory having an accessory pod, will typically be mounted above and to the rear of the toilet bowl, in front of a toilet tank if such a tank is present. Other connections, such as power connections and plumbing connections may be made with sources of power and plumbing pipes in a manner known to one of ordinary skill in the art. It will be understood that plumbing, power, control, or other connections may be made in any suitable manner, and may be routed along any suitable route.

[0059] In embodiments, a hinge may include a conduit configured to allow passage of fluid, or to contain a power connection such as a wire, or to contain a control connection such as a wire, or to contain another power, control, or fluid connection element. Thus, in embodiments, plumbing, power, control, or other connections may be routed along or through a hinge or a hinge element. In embodiments, power or control connections between a lamp or light-emitting diode (LED) may be configured to traverse a hinge, or hinges, either within a hinge element, or along a portion of a hinge element, so that power connections are not readily visible to a user, and a user is thereby not likely to come into contact with such power or control connections. Where a toilet or toilet accessory includes, e.g., a heated seat, power or control connections to the seat may also be routed through a hinge, or, alternatively, may be routed along a portion of a hinge. Power and/or control connections for other elements or features of a toilet or toilet accessory, such as fans, deodorizers, fragrance dispensers, or other element or

feature, may also be powered or controlled by connections routed along or through a hinge or hinge element. Alternatively, power, control or other connections, including plumbing connections, may be routed along other pathways.

[0060] Figure 1 illustrates an exemplary system 10 having a toilet accessory 20 for use in conjunction with a toilet 21 , the toilet accessory 20 having a seat 22, a lid 24, and including an accessory pod 28 mounted adjacent the seat 22 above the toilet bowl 26 and in front of the tank 30. The toilet bowl 26 and tank 30 are part of the toilet 21. Such a system 10 may be connected with an external plumbing system and with an external sewage system via fluid inlet 11 and fluid outlet 13. A seat 22 has an upper surface 56, configured to accept a user seated thereupon, and a lower surface 58. It will be understood than an accessory pod 28, when the toilet accessory 20 is mounted on a toilet 21 , may be disposed as illustrated, and may alternatively be disposed, for example, below a tank 30, on top of a tank 30, or at any convenient or desired location. An accessory pod 30 may have one or more switches or controls 32, one or more indicators 34, which may be indicator lights, and may have a power cord 36 configured to plug into a common wall socket or other source of electrical power.

[0061] A toilet accessory 20 of a system 10 includes a source, or multiple sources, of electromagnetic radiation. As indicated in Figure 1 , a lamp 38 or lamps 38 may provide electromagnetic radiation. For example, a lamp 38 may be a germicidal UV lamp. Alternatively, or in addition, a germicidal ultraviolet (UV) light- emitting diode (LED) may be used as a source of UV radiation (see, e.g., LEDs 40 in Figure 3B).

[0062] As shown in Fig. 2, a toilet accessory 20 may have a nozzle. A nozzle provides a source of a stream or streams, spray, and/or mist, of water or other fluid. For example, the source of fluid in a toilet accessory 20 may be a retractable nozzle configured to extend into the toilet bowl 26 effective to provide a fluid for personal cleansing.

[0063] Nozzles useful in toilet accessories, systems, and methods having features of the invention are suitable for delivering a fluid, such as water, which may be warm water, to a user seated on a seat of a toilet accessory mounted on a toilet. Retractable nozzles are configured, in one configuration, to retract, e.g., into

a recess or housing, and in another configuration to extend at least partially into the bowl of a toilet. When extended at least partially into the bowl of a toilet, a nozzle may be positioned effective to deliver fluid to a user for personal cleansing, for example, of portions of the user's body, such as at or near the anus, the perineal region, the genital region, or other region.

[0064] A nozzle may have one, two, or more orifices configured to emit water or other fluid. A nozzle may deliver a stream, or more than one stream, of fluid in a desired direction. In embodiments, a nozzle may be a spray nozzle, configured to deliver a spray, or mist, or dispersed stream comprising individual droplets of fluid, in a desired direction.

[0065] As shown in Figure 2, a system 12 having features of the invention includes a toilet accessory 20 and a toilet 21 , the toilet accessory 20 having a seat 22 and an accessory pod 28 disposed on a toilet bowl 26. A lid 24 is attached via a hinge 25 to the seat to allow for covering or uncovering of the seat, as desired by a user. The accessory pod 28 has a retractable nozzle 42. The toilet accessory 20 and has germicidal lamps 38 effective to sterilize at least a portion of the surface of the nozzle 42 and nozzle orifice 43. Such a system 12 may be connected with an external plumbing system and with an external sewage system via fluid inlet 11 and fluid outlet 13, and accessory fluid connector 15. As indicated in Figure 2, germicidal lamps 38 may be mounted on the seat 22, e.g., on a lower surface 58 of seat 22, effective to irradiate a nozzle 42 when in operation, while not interfering with the comfort of a user seated upon a seat 22 at any time. Typically, a lamp 38 will not be illuminated while a user is seated upon a seat 22. A retractable nozzle 42 may be a spray nozzle, and may have one or more orifices 43 to allow exit of fluid. The fluid may be water, such as warm water, a cleansing water solution such as soapy or detergent water, water including a disinfectant, water including an aroma, or other additive, or other fluid. A nozzle 42 may have a tube or conduit to carry such a fluid to the orifice or orifices for release as a stream or spray. A nozzle 42 may be operably connected with an accessory pod 28, or may be more directly mounted on or connected with the toilet 20, such as connected to the toilet bowl 26. In embodiments, fluid for delivery by a nozzle 42 may be provided via fluid connector 15 configured to attach to an external plumbing system as may be available for use with the system 12.

[0066] In embodiments, an accessory pod may include batteries (not shown) and so may or may not include a power cord 36. An accessory pod may have, for example, a timer or timers (e.g., to control the duration of illumination of a source of electromagnetic radiation such as UV light); a control element or device configured to control the intensity of radiation provided by a source of electromagnetic radiation; mechanical elements configured to extend or retract a nozzle or nozzles; valves, pumps, and other fluid control mechanisms effective to control and direct the flow of fluid into and out of one or more nozzles; heating elements and temperature regulating elements able to provide warm water or fluid at a desired temperature for release via a nozzle or nozzles; tanks or other storage elements to retain detergents, aromas, or other materials that may be included in fluids flowing into and out of one or more nozzles; and other items or components.

[0067] As shown in Figure 3A, a system 14 having features of the invention may include a toilet accessory 20 for use with a toilet 21 having a toilet bowl 26. The toilet accessory 20 has a seat 22, lid 24, and accessory pod 28 having a retractable nozzle 42 and including germicidal lamps 38. Such a system 14 may be connected with an external plumbing system and with an external sewage system via fluid inlet 11 , fluid outlet 13, and accessory fluid connector 15. A lamp 38, LED 40, or lamps 38 or LEDs 40, may be positioned effective to sterilize an upper portion of the surface of the toilet seat 22. A retractable nozzle 42 may be a spray nozzle, and may have one or more orifices 43 to allow exit of fluid. The nozzle 42 may be positioned effective to receive electromagnetic radiation from a lamp 38 or LED 40 to sterilize at least a portion of the surface of the nozzle 42. As shown in Fig. 3A, a lamp 38 may be straight or curved. It will be understood that a lamp 38 may have any suitable shape, including shapes having both straight and curved portions, or other configuration. Indicators 32, 34, and 35 may be lights, such as lamps or LEDs, dials or gauges, effective to provide visible indication or information about the status, activity or progress of sanitization and/or sterilization.

[0068] Figure 3B shows a system 16 having a toilet accessory 20, for use with a toilet 21. The exemplary system 16 of this figure includes a toilet 21 with a toilet bowl 26, and a toilet accessory 20 having a seat 22, lid 24 having a germicidal lamp 38 and reflector 44 mounted on an inner lid surface 66, and accessory pod 28 with a switch 32 and indicator 34, the system 16 having a retractable nozzle 42.

Such a system 16 may be connected with an external plumbing system and with an external sewage system via fluid inlet 11 , fluid outlet 13 and accessory fluid connector 15. The reflector 44 is configured to direct electromagnetic radiation from the germicidal lamp 38 onto portions of the toilet seat 22 effective to sanitize or sterilize those portions upon sufficient duration of irradiation. The lamp 38 is also positioned effective to sanitize or sterilize at least a portion of the nozzle 42 upon sufficient duration of irradiation. In embodiments, a reflector 44 may be configured to direct electromagnetic radiation towards a nozzle 42, in addition to, or instead of, directing such radiation to a seat 22. In embodiments, a lamp 38 may be operatively attached to a socket 64, as indicated in Figs. 3A and 3B. A socket 64 may include electrical connections, may include a ballast (which may optionally also be part of a lamp 38), or other electrical element or component, and may be operatively connected to a power source, a switch, and other circuit elements as is well known in the use and operation of lamps. Indicators 32, 34, and 35 may be lights, such as lamps or LEDs, dials or gauges, effective to provide visible indication or information about the status, activity or progress of sanitization and/or sterilization. For example, an indicator 35 may be a visible light that is illuminated when a lamp 38 or LED 40 is emitting germicidal radiation. Where such germicidal radiation is invisible to a human observer, such an indicator 35, or an indicator 34, is useful to alert a human observer to the presence of the germicidal radiation.

[0069] Figure 4A is a schematic view of a system 18 having features of the invention, with a toilet accessory 20 having a seat 22, lid 24, and an accessory pod 28 having several nozzles 42 with nozzle orifices 43. Toilet accessory 20 is shown mounted on toilet 21 having bowl 26 (with inner surface 52 and outer surface 54), tank 30 and fluid inlet 11 and fluid outlet 13. Nozzles 42 are shown in extended positions within bowl 26. Nozzles 42 typically do not touch inner surface 52 of toilet bowl 26. Such a system 18 may be connected with an external plumbing system and with an external sewage system via fluid inlet 11 and fluid outlet 13 and accessory fluid connector 15.

[0070] An accessory pod 28 may include a recess 60 for housing, at least temporarily, a nozzle 42 or nozzles 42. Figure 4B is a schematic cross-sectional view of a portion of the toilet accessory 20, toilet 21 , and of other elements of the system 18 of Fig. 4A, and includes a schematic illustration of an accessory pod 28

with a recess 60. Cross-sectional view Fig. 4B shows the rear portion of the toilet bowl 26, and portions of the accessory pod 28, the toilet seat 22, and the toilet lid 24, showing a germicidal lamp 38 positioned within a recess 60 within the accessory pod 28 effective to sterilize a surface of a nozzle 42 when the nozzle 42 is in a retracted position. Retraction of a nozzle 42 is effective to position the distal portion 45 of the nozzle 42 within the recess 60 of the accessory pod 28. Illumination of lamp 38 within recess 60 with nozzle 42 in a retracted position is effective to sanitize or sterilize a surface of the nozzle 42, preferably including a surface of the distal portion 45 and near to an orifice 43 of the nozzle 42, upon sufficient duration of exposure to the electromagnetic radiation provided by the lamp 38 within the recess 60. Although this cross-sectional view only shows a single nozzle 42, it will be understood that more than one nozzle 42 may be disposed within a recess 60 for exposure to electromagnetic radiation within the recess 60. Alternatively, multiple nozzles 42 may be exposed to electromagnetic radiation within a recess 60 by retraction of one nozzle 42 at a time, such as a first nozzle 42, exposure of the first nozzle 42, and then extension of the first nozzle 42 and retraction of a second nozzle 42 for exposure of the second nozzle 42 to electromagnetic radiation. Such a method may be applied for third, fourth, and further additional nozzles 42 where applicable. Placement of lamp 38 within recess 60, and exposure of nozzle 42 to sanitizing or sterilizing treatment while in a retracted position within the recess 60 provides the advantage of reducing possible exposure of users to the electromagnetic radiation provided by a lamp 38. It will be understood that an LED 40, or other suitable source of electromagnetic radiation, may substitute for, or be used in conjunction with, a lamp 38 to provide a source of electromagnetic radiation for sanitizing or sterilizing a surface of a nozzle 42. The duration of exposure of a nozzle 42 to such electromagnetic radiation is for a duration that is effective to sanitize or sterilize those portions. A recess 60 may include a reflector 44, such as a reflector 44 along an inner surface of a recess 60 effective to direct electromagnetic radiation towards a nozzle 42 within the recess 60.

[0071] An accessory pod 28 may include electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, or other means for extending and retracting a nozzle 42. A drive mechanism 62, as shown schematically in Fig. 4B, is effective to extend and to retract a nozzle 42 from and

into a recess 60. For example, a drive mechanism 62, may include an electric motor or motors, a solenoid or solenoids, a fluid or gas hydraulic mechanism, such as a piston, configured for extension and retraction, a screw or worm-gear mechanism, levers, pulleys, chains, and other mechanical, hydraulic, and/or electrical mechanisms. Any such means for extending a nozzle may be used in toilets and systems having features of the invention.

[0072] Figure 5 is a schematic cross-sectional view of a toilet accessory 20 having features of the invention, showing portions of an accessory pod 28, a toilet seat 22, and a lid 24 of the toilet accessory 20, and showing the upper portion of a toilet bowl 26 to which the toilet accessory 20 is operatively attached. Figure 5 also shows a germicidal lamp 38 positioned adjacent the lid 24 effective to sterilize upper portions of the toilet seat 22 and to sterilize upper portions of the surface of a nozzle 42 when the nozzle 42 is in an extended position. Nozzle 42 may be retracted to a position within recess 60 when desired (e.g., when not in use providing a fluid stream, spray, or mist). In embodiments having features as indicated in Fig. 5, a single lamp 38 may be used to sanitize or sterilize surfaces of a toilet seat 22 and of a nozzle 42. It will be understood that an LED 40 or other source of electromagnetic radiation could be used in place of, or in addition to, a lamp 38 in embodiments having features as illustrated in Fig. 5.

[0073] Also shown in Fig. 5 are a sensor 50 and a latch 51. In embodiments having such features, a sensor 50 may be configured to detect the placement of a lid 24 adjacent or in contact with a seat 22, which detection may be used to enable or to initiate illumination of a lamp 38, LED 40, or other source of electromagnetic radiation. Thus, for example, in embodiments of systems having features of the invention, detection of the closure of a lid 24 initiates illumination of a lamp 38 or LED 40 to begin sanitization or sterilization of a seat 22 and/or a nozzle 42. In other embodiments, a switch for initiation of sanitization or sterilization (e.g., a switch 32) may be mounted, for example, on accessory pod 28 but may be disabled while lid 24 is open; detection of closure of lid 24 by sensor 50 may be effective to enable initiation of sanitization or sterilization upon activation of switch 32 while sensor 50 signals lid closure. In an exemplary embodiment, a wire or cable needed to complete and activation circuit controlled by a switch 32 passes through a sensor 50, which is in an open-circuit configuration until depressed upon

closure of the lid 24 effective to close the circuit and allow passage of current to initiate sanitization or sterilization. A latch 51 is also shown in Fig. 5. A latch 51 may be configured to secure a lid 24 in a closed position, as may be desired while a lamp 38, LED 40, or other source of electromagnetic radiation is in use, to reduce the chance of inadvertent exposure of a user or other person to that electromagnetic radiation.

[0074] Figure 6A is a schematic view of a toilet accessory 20 having a toilet seat 22 and lid 24 having features of the invention, showing the lid 24 in an open position to provide a view of a germicidal lamp 38 mounted on an inner surface 66 of the lid 24. A guide 68 for helping to secure a lamp 38 in position on the lid 24 is shown. Hinge 70 allows lid 24 to pivot open and closed. A seat 22 may also have a hinge 72 to allow the seat to be raised and lowered with respect to a toilet 21 upon which the toilet accessory 20 may be mounted or attached. As shown in the embodiment illustrated in Fig. 6A, an accessory pod 28 may be attached to the lid 24 so that lamp 38 and lamp socket 64 move with the lid as the lid 24 opens and closes, or an accessory pod 28 may have movable portions or elements configured to allow lamp 38 and lamp socket 64 to move with the lid 24.

[0075] Figure 6B provides a schematic cross-sectional view of the toilet seat 22 and lid 24 of Fig. 6A, with the lid 24 in a closed position, showing a germicidal lamp mounted on an inner surface 66 of the lid 24 and indicating some paths of irradiation 74 directed onto a seat upper surface 56 by radiation emitted from the germicidal lamp 38.

[0076] Figure 7A is a schematic view of a toilet accessory 20 having a toilet seat 22 and lid 24 having features of the invention, showing the lid 22 in an open position, the lid including inner reflecting surface 44 effective to reflect UV light and to direct UV from germicidal lamp 38 onto upper seat portions 56. Germicidal lamp 38 may be mounted on an inner surface 66 of the lid 24 as shown in Fig. 7A. A lamp cover 46 may be placed over a lamp 38. A lamp cover may partially cover a lamp 38, as illustrated in Fig. 7A, or may completely cover a lamp 38, and in embodiments may be water-proof. As illustrated in Fig. 7B, which shows the toilet seat 22 and lid 24 of the toilet accessory 20 of Fig. 7A in a schematic cross- sectional view, with the lid 24 in a closed position, the lid 24 including inner reflecting portions 44, paths of irradiation 74 may be direct from the lamp 38 onto

upper surfaces 56 of a seat 24, or may be indirect, being reflected onto a surface 56 by reflector 44. Irradiation, whether direct or indirect, may be effective to sanitize or sterilize target surfaces following a sufficient duration of exposure to the radiation at a suitable intensity.

[0077] In further embodiments of systems having features of the invention, multiple lamps 38 and/or LEDs 40 may be used to provide a source of electromagnetic radiation for sanitization or sterilization of target surfaces. A toilet accessory 20 having a features of the invention as illustrated in Fig. 8A has multiple germicidal LEDs 40 mounted on an inner surface 66 of the lid 24. The pattern of placement of such LEDs 40 along the inner surface 66 of the lid 24 is configured to provide effective irradiation of the upper surface of the toilet seat 22 when the lid 24 is in a closed position. Fig. 8B provides a schematic cross- sectional view of the toilet seat 22 and lid 24 of the toilet accessory 20 of Fig. 8A, with the lid 24 in a closed position. As indicated in Fig. 8B, paths of irradiation 74 due to radiation emitted from the germicidal LEDs 40 are directed at an upper seat surface 56. In embodiments, a reflector 44 or multiple reflecting surfaces 44 may be disposed on inner lid surface 66 to provide further irradiation paths 74 directed at upper seat surface 56. Cables 48 provide power to the LEDs, and may be operably connected with control elements and with a source of electrical power in an accessory pod 28, such as a battery or may obtain power directly or indirectly from a wall socket via a power cable 36.

[0078] In embodiments of systems and devices having features of the invention, a lamp 38 and/or LED 40 may provide radiation in both the visible and the UV wavelength regions. Such sources of electromagnetic radiation thus provide radiation for sanitization and/or sterilization, while at the same time provide a visible signal alerting the user to their activation and to the fact that sanitization and/or sterilization is in progress. Such a visible signal aids the user by allowing the user to avoid exposure to such radiation, and in aids the user by indicating that the desired sanitization and/or sterilization is occurring.

[0079] Other signals, in addition to, or in place of such visible radiation from the source of electromagnetic radiation 38 or 40, may also be provided. For example, an indicator light 34 may be provided to alert users to the sanitization and/or sterilization action, and to provide information about its progress or duration. In

embodiments, a visible light 35 may be placed near a lamp 38 and/or LED 40 to indicate that the electromagnetic sources 38 and/or 40 are active and emitting germicidal radiation. A visible light 35 may also be disposed at a location physically separated from the source of electromagnetic radiation such as a lamp 38 or LED 40, such as on an accessory pod 28 or elsewhere.

[0080] The use of UV resistant materials, particularly for surfaces exposed to electromagnetic radiation from lamps 38, LEDs 40, or other sources of electromagnetic radiation, is preferred in order to prevent degradation such as brittleness or discoloration that may be caused by long-term or repeated exposure to such radiation. Such UV resistant materials include UV-resistant ceramics, metals, UV-resistant polymers such as polycarbonate, polyethylene, polyurethane, and other UV-resistant polymers.

[0081] UV lamps may be obtained from any suitable source. For example, fluorescent germicidal UV lamps with power ratings of 36 watts and 54.4 watts, providing 12 watts and 18.13 watts of UV output, are commercially available from Air Lights (Deltona FL 32725). Such lamps provide UV radiation with a peak intensity at a wavelength of about 254 nm (nominally 253.7 nm); the UV intensity at 1 m is listed as 106 μW/cm 2 /sec and 174 μW/cm 2 /sec for these exemplary lights.

[0082] UV-emitting light-emitting diodes (LEDs) may be obtained from Nichia (Tokyo, Japan) with power ratings of, e.g., 1.4 to 2 Watts. Nichia UV-emitting LEDs provide UV radiation with a peak intensity at a wavelength of about 365 nm or 375 nm (depending on the model selected). However, significant amounts of UV radiation is provided within the desired range of between about 200 nm and about 310 nm so that such UV-emitting LEDs are useful in the devices, systems and methods disclosed herein. Other manufacturers produce UV-emitting LEDs with slightly longer peak wavelengths, e.g. Cree Inc. (Durham, NC 27703). UV-emitting LEDs are also available from commercial resellers, such as The LED Light Inc. (Carson City NV 89701 ).

[0083] Systems having features of the invention may provide a system for use with other elements, such as with a toilet configured for use in connection with an external sewage system. Such systems may include a toilet accessory having a nozzle; a source of electromagnetic radiation (such as, e.g., a UV lamp or UV

LED), the source of electromagnetic radiation being configured to direct electromagnetic radiation towards the seat effective to sanitize or sterilize a surface of the nozzle; a fluid inlet; a fluid outlet; and a source or conduit of electrical power effective to provide electrical power for the source of electromagnetic radiation. In embodiments, the nozzle is an retractable nozzle. In embodiments, the electrical power may also be used to retract and/or extend the nozzle.

[0084] Systems having features of the invention may include a toilet accessory having a retractable nozzle; a seat; and a source of electromagnetic radiation (such as, e.g., a UV lamp or UV LED), the source of electromagnetic radiation being configured to direct electromagnetic radiation towards the nozzle and towards the seat effective to sanitize or sterilize a surface of the nozzle and of the seat; a fluid inlet; a fluid outlet; and a source or conduit of electrical power effective to provide electrical power for the source of electromagnetic radiation and optionally to retract and/or extend the nozzle. The sanitization and/or sterilization of the nozzle may occur at the same time, or at a different time, or partially overlap in time, with the sanitization and/or sterilization of the seat.

[0085] Systems having features of the invention may further provide a toilet accessory having a lid, a seat, a retractable nozzle and a source of electromagnetic radiation (such as, e.g., a UV lamp or UV LED), where the source of electromagnetic radiation is configured to direct electromagnetic radiation towards the seat and towards the nozzle effective to sanitize or sterilize a surface of the seat and a surface of the nozzle; a fluid inlet; a fluid outlet; and a source or conduit of electrical power effective to provide electrical power for the source of electromagnetic radiation. The electrical power may also be used to retract or extend the nozzle.

[0086] Systems including a toilet accessory as described above may include means for automatically initiating sanitization or sterilization, including, for example, a sensor configured to initiate sanitization or sterilization upon closure of a toilet lid, detection of the presence or of the absence of a user, or may include means for manually initiating sanitization or sterilization, including, for example, a switch configured to initiate sanitization or sterilization upon operation of the switch. In embodiments, the duration and/or intensity of sanitization or sterilization may be

controlled automatically (e.g., by means of a timer), or may be controlled manually by means of a switch, dial, knob, or other control feature.

[0087] Systems may further include features and elements as discussed herein, including, for example, features and elements disclosed and discussed with respect to the figures or other disclosure herein. Devices, systems and methods may further include, e.g., warmed or heated toilet seats; deodorizing elements and devices, including passive deodorizing elements and filters, fans, and other elements; perfumes and aromatics, including means for releasing pleasing odors; and other elements and features compatible and/or complementary with the other features, components, elements and attributes disclosed herein.

[0088] Further disclosed herein are methods of sterilizing a surface of a toilet accessory or system including a toilet accessory. In embodiments, a method of sanitizing a surface of at least a portion of a toilet accessory includes steps of irradiating the surface with a sanitizing amount of electromagnetic radiation, at an intensity and duration effective to inactivate or kill microorganisms present on the surface. A method of sterilizing a surface of at least a portion of a toilet accessory includes steps of irradiating the surface with a sterilizing amount of electromagnetic radiation, at an intensity and duration effective to inactivate or kill more than half the microorganisms present on the surface.

[0089] In embodiments of the methods disclosed herein, the electromagnetic radiation comprises ultraviolet radiation (UV). The UV radiation may be UV radiation having a wavelength of between about 100 nm and about 400 nm, or may be UV radiation having a wavelength of between about 200 nm and about 310 nm. In embodiments of the methods, a portion of a toilet accessory that is sanitized or a portion that is sterilized may be a toilet seat, may be a retractable nozzle, and may include both a toilet seat and a retractable nozzle. A retractable nozzle may be a retractable spray nozzle. In embodiments of the methods, the portion or portions of a toilet accessory that is sanitized or a portion that is sterilized may be an upper surface of a toilet seat, and may be an upper surface of a retractable nozzle.

[0090] Embodiments of the methods may further include retracting a nozzle into a receptacle prior to sanitizing or sterilizing the nozzle. In other embodiments, the methods include steps of sterilizing a nozzle with the nozzle disposed in an

extended position. In further embodiments, the methods include sanitizing or sterilizing portions of a retractable nozzle and portions of a toilet seat, including an upper surface of a toilet seat, and an upper surface of a retractable nozzle.

[0091] In embodiments of the methods, an irradiating step comprises irradiating a surface of at least a portion of a toilet comprises irradiating for a period of time, the duration of the period of time may be between about 1 second and about 5 hours; may be between about 15 seconds and about 1 hour; may be between about 30 seconds and about 30 minutes; and may be between about 1 minute and about 20 minutes.

[0092] In embodiments of the methods, an irradiating step comprises irradiating at an intensity of between about 10 μwatts/cm 2 to about 1000 mwatts/cm 2 . For example, an irradiating step may comprise irradiating at an intensity of between about 100 μwatts/cm 2 to about 100 mwatts/cm 2 , or other intensity range.

[0093] EXAMPLE 1

[0094] UV Sterilization of Toilet Seat Seating Surface

[0095] This Example describes a toilet accessory having UV lamps configured to illuminate surfaces of the toilet seat to sanitize or sterilize those toilet seat surfaces.

[0096] A UV lamp is mounted on the inner surface of a toilet lid and covered with a material transparent to UV wavelengths. The lamp, when illuminated, is effective to deliver a sanitizing or sterilizing dose of ultraviolet wavelength light to sterilize one or more surfaces of the toilet seat when the lid is in a closed position and the lamp is thus disposed above and near the toilet seat. The UV lamp is configured to emit UV light with wavelengths of between about 200 nm and about 310 nm. The Hd is configured to extend over and around the toilet seat to cover the gap between the seat and the toilet bowl effective to prevent any significant amount of UV radiation to leave the toilet.

[0097] Activation of the lamp is optionally by manual operation of a switch, or may be automatically initiated upon closure of the lid. The lamp may remain illuminated as long as the lid is closed. Alternatively, lamp illumination may be ended after a pre-determined amount of time, or after a manually determined amount of time. Lamp illumination is automatically deactivated when the cover is opened, by action

of a spring-activated switch mounted on the lid. The switch is in the open position when the lid is opened, preventing power flow to the lamp, but is closed when the lid is closed, allowing lamp illumination while the lid remains closed.

[0098] The configuration of this example, with the lamp mounted on the inner surface of the lid, and with the lamp inactivated when the lid is open, prevents inadvertent exposure of users to UV radiation, since this configuration insures that only a small amount, at most, of UV light could possibly contact a user prior to opening the lid of the toilet.

[0099] In alternative embodiments of the toilet accessory disclosed in this Example, activation of sanitization or sterilization may be by manual activation (e.g., activated by a user upon pressing a button or throwing a switch (only if cover is closed)); automatically by closing the lid; automatically at a set time interval (only if cover is closed); automatically at user programmable times (only if cover is closed); and by other means.

[00100] The UV lamp(s) may be located in the lid; in a control box at the rear of the seat, shining between the seat and lid; on a side of the seat (and including reflective elements such as a reflective surface inside the lid; underneath the seat, and deployable to a location providing for radiation exposure of the upper surface of the seat; and in other locations.

[00101] Exposure of surfaces to be sanitized or sterilized may be by direct line of sight to the lamp(s); by reflected light from the lamp(s); through a window that may or may not diffuse the UV wavelengths; through a window that may or may not diffuse visible wavelengths, and by other means.

[00102] The UV light source may be one or more low pressure mercury UVC lamps (with a wavelength of 253.7nm, or rounded to 254nm); may be one or more UVC LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) emitting electromagnetic radiation that includes wavelengths between 200 and 310 nm; may be a combination of these two lamp types; may be user replaceable; may not be user replaceable; and may be other types of UV sources.

[00103] The exposure time for sanitization or sterilization may range from a bout 0 to about 30 seconds. The duration of exposure will be determined based on the power of the UV source (e.g., the power of the lamp or LED), the shape of the

source, and the distance between source and target surface. A target sterilization dose of germicidal UV radiation may be about 6600 mW « s/cm 2 (milliwatt seconds per square centimeter) to sterilize bacteria commonly associated with bathrooms such as Escherichia coli {E.coli), Vibrio comma and Proteus vulgaris. Lower doses would suitable for sanitization of these sequences.

[00104] EXAMPLE 2

[00105] UV Sterilization of Sprayer Nozzles

[00106] This Example describes a toilet accessory having one or more retractable spray nozzles. The toilet accessory includes one or more UV lamps configured to deliver a sanitizing or sterilizing dose of UV light effective to sanitize or sterilize surfaces of the spray nozzles.

[00107] The toilet accessory is mounted on a toilet above the toilet bowl. The toilet accessory has one or more UV lamps configured to emit UV light including wavelengths of between about 200 nm and about 310 nm. The lamp (or lamps) is (or are) mounted on the lower surface of a toilet seat so as to be able to illuminate a portion of the toilet bowl where a spray nozzle is located when deployed in an extended position. Where the toilet accessory has more than one nozzle, more than one nozzle may extend into the toilet bowl. The lamp, when illuminated, is effective to deliver a sanitizing or sterilizing dose of ultraviolet wavelength light to the target surfaces, which include surfaces of the nozzles and may include surfaces of the toilet bowl.

[00108] In an alternative configuration of the toilet accessories of this Example, a UV lamp is mounted on an inside surface of the toilet lid, effective to deliver UV radiation to spray nozzles extended within the toilet bowl when the lid is closed. The lid is configured to extend over and around the toilet seat to cover the gap between the seat and the toilet bowl effective to prevent any significant amount of UV radiation to leave the toilet.

[00109] Activation of the lamp is optionally by manual operation of a switch, or may be automatically initiated upon closure of the lid. The lamp may remain illuminated as long as the lid is closed. Alternatively, lamp illumination may be ended after a pre-determined amount of time, or after a manually determined amount of time. Lamp illumination is automatically deactivated when the cover is opened, by action

of a spring-activated switch mounted on the lid. The switch is in the open position when the lid is opened, preventing power flow to the lamp, but is closed when the lid is closed, allowing lamp illumination.

[00110] In alternative embodiments of the toilet accessory disclosed in this Example, activation of sanitization or sterilization may be by manual activation (e.g., activated by a user upon pressing a button or throwing a switch (only if cover is closed)); automatically by closing the lid; automatically after the sprayer nozzles retract; automatically before the sprayer nozzles are deployed; automatically by opening the lid; automatically at a set time interval (only if cover is closed); automatically at user programmable times (only if cover is closed); at all times - "always on" (while the seat is properly installed); and by other means.

[00111] The UV lamp(s) may be located in the lid (the nozzles may or may not need to be partially or fully deployed during sterilization mode); in the seat (the nozzles may or may not need to be partially or fully deployed during sterilization mode); in a recess within an accessory pod; in an accessory pod at the rear of the seat, shining between the seat and lid; on a side of the seat (and including reflective elements such as a reflective surface inside the lid); underneath the seat, and deployable to a location providing for radiation exposure of the upper surface of the seat; at the rear of the seat; and in other locations.

[00112] Exposure of surfaces to be sanitized or sterilized may be by direct line of sight to the lamp(s); by reflected light from the lamp(s); through a window that may or may not diffuse the UV wavelengths; through a window that may or may not diffuse visible wavelengths, and by other means.

[00113] The UV light source may be one or more low pressure mercury UVC lamps (with a wavelength of 253.7nm, or rounded to 254nm); may be one or more UVC LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) with a wavelength between 200 and 310 nm; may be a combination of these two lamp types; may be user replaceable; may not be user replaceable; and may be other types of UV sources.

[00114] EXAMPLE 3

[00115] UV Sterilization of a Nozzle Surface and a Toilet Seat Surface

[00116] This Example describes a toilet accessory having a source of UV light configured to deliver sanitizing or sterilizing doses of UV light to the toilet seat and to one or more spray nozzles of the toilet accessory.

[00117] A UV lamp configured to emit UV light having wavelengths of between about 200 nm and about 310 nm is mounted on the inner surface of a toilet lid. The UV lamp is mounted so as to illuminate the upper surface of the toilet seat, and also to illuminate a portion of the toilet bowl, when the lid is closed. The lamp, when illuminated, is effective to deliver a sanitizing or sterilizing dose of ultraviolet wavelength light to sterilize one or more surfaces of the toilet seat when the lid is in a closed position and the lamp is thus disposed above and near the toilet seat. A nozzle is provided which can extend within the toilet bowl and can be exposed to UV radiation from the lamp when in an extended position. The lamp is thus configured to sanitize or sterilize surfaces of the toilet seat and surfaces of the nozzle at the same time. In alternative embodiments, sanitization or sterilization of the seat occurs at different times than does sanitization or sterilization of the nozzles, only the nozzles are sanitized or sterilized, or only the seat is sanitized or sterilized.

[00118] The lid is configured to extend over and around the toilet seat to cover the gap between the seat and the toiled bowl effective to prevent any significant amount of UV radiation from leaving the toilet.

[00119] Activation of the lamp is optionally by manual operation of a switch, or may be automatically initiated upon closure of the lid. The lamp may remain illuminated as long as the lid is closed. Alternatively, lamp illumination may be ended after a pre-determined amount of time, or after a manually determined amount of time. Lamp illumination is automatically deactivated when the cover is opened, by action of a spring-activated switch mounted on the lid. The switch is in the open position when the lid is opened, preventing power flow to the lamp, but is closed when the lid is closed, allowing lamp illumination.

[00120] The configuration of this example, with the lamp mounted on the inner surface of the lid, and with the lamp inactivated when the lid is open, prevents inadvertent user exposure to UV radiation, since this configuration insures that at

most only a small amount of UV light could possibly contact a user prior to opening the lid of the toilet.

[00121] In alternative embodiments of the toilet accessory disclosed in this Example, activation of sanitization or sterilization may be by manual activation (e.g., activated by a user upon pressing a button or throwing a switch (only if cover is closed)); automatically by closing the lid; automatically after the sprayer nozzles retract; automatically before the sprayer nozzles are deployed; automatically by opening the lid; automatically at a set time interval (only if cover is closed); automatically at user programmable times (only if cover is closed); at all times - "always on" (while the seat is properly installed); and by other means.

[00122] The UV lamp(s) may be located in the lid (the nozzles may or may not need to be partially or fully deployed during sterilization mode); in, on, or under the seat (the nozzles may or may not need to be partially or fully deployed during sterilization mode); in an accessory pod at the rear of the seat; shining between the seat and Nd; on a side of the seat (and including reflective elements such as a reflective surface inside the lid; underneath the seat, and deployable to a location providing for radiation exposure of the upper surface of the seat; at the rear of the seat; and in other locations.

[00123] Exposure of surfaces to be sanitized or sterilized may be by direct line of sight to the lamp(s); by reflected light from the lamp(s); through a window that may or may not diffuse the UV wavelengths; through a window that may or may not diffuse visible wavelengths, and by other means.

[00124] The UV light source may be one or more low pressure mercury UVC lamps (with a wavelength of 253.7nm, or rounded to 254nm); may be one or more UVC LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) with a wavelength between 200 and 310 nm; may be a combination of these two lamp types; may be user replaceable; may not be user replaceable; and may be other types of UV sources.

[00125] Devices and systems embodying features of the invention may also include other useful features in addition to those discussed above. It will be apparent from the foregoing that, while particular forms of the invention have been illustrated and described, various modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Moreover, those skilled in the art will

recognize that features shown in one embodiment of the invention may be utilized in other embodiments of the invention. To the extent not otherwise described herein, the materials and methods of construction and the dimensions of conventional toilets and bidets may be employed with systems and devices embodying features of the present invention. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited, except as by the appended claims. Reference to the terms "elements," "portions," source," and terms of similar import in the claims which follow shall not be interpreted to invoke the provisions of 35 U.S. C. §112, paragraph 6 unless reference is expressly made to the term "means" followed by an intended function.