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Title:
FLUID MATERIAL DISPENSING APPARATUS AND METHOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/038247
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention relates to a fluid material dispensing apparatus (10) which comprises a cartridge (12), a dispenser main body (14), a data store (24), and a measurement apparatus (30). The dispenser main body (14) is holdable in one hand and defines a cartridge receiving space in which the cartridge (12) is removably received and held. The cartridge (12) comprises a container, which contains fluid material, a manual pump, which upon user operation dispenses fluid material from the container, and a unique identification code (20) for identifying the cartridge from other cartridges. The measurement apparatus (30) measures at least one of level of and weight of fluid material contained in the container. The unique identification code (20) is read from the cartridge (12) held in the cartridge receiving space and is stored in the data store (24).

Inventors:
HEATH DAVID (GB)
HOCHFIELD BARRY (GB)
BLACKFORD ANGUS (GB)
MCSPADDEN STEPHEN (GB)
Application Number:
PCT/GB2020/052074
Publication Date:
March 04, 2021
Filing Date:
August 28, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CUTITRONICS LTD (GB)
International Classes:
B05B11/00; G06T7/73
Domestic Patent References:
WO2016034878A22016-03-10
Foreign References:
US20170361076A12017-12-21
KR20190014999A2019-02-13
US20190213390A12019-07-11
US20100163573A12010-07-01
US7009519B22006-03-07
US20160169446A12016-06-16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PETER, Kenneth (GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A fluid material dispensing apparatus comprising: a cartridge; a dispenser main body holdable in one hand and defining a cartridge receiving space in which the cartridge is removably received and held; a data store; and a measurement apparatus, wherein the cartridge comprises a container, which contains fluid material, a manual pump, which upon user operation dispenses fluid material from the container, and a unique identification code for identifying the cartridge from other cartridges, wherein the measurement apparatus measures at least one of level of and weight of fluid material contained in the container, and wherein the unique identification code is read from the cartridge held in the cartridge receiving space and is stored in the data store.

2. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 1 comprising a plurality of cartridges, each of the plurality of cartridges being received and held in the cartridge receiving space at any one time, wherein each of the plurality of cartridges comprises a unique identification code whereby the cartridge received and held in the cartridge receiving space is identified by the fluid material dispensing apparatus from the rest of the plurality of cartridges.

3. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the manual pump comprises a portion which is moved manually by a user to operate the manual pump and thereby dispense fluid material from the container.

4. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 3, wherein the container is unitary with the manual pump.

5. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the unitary container and manual pump is an airless pump, and the unique identification code is provided in or on the airless pump such that it is readable when the airless pump is received in the cartridge receiving space.

6. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims further comprising a smartphone, wherein the measurement apparatus is comprised in the smartphone, and the smartphone is operative to measure the level of fluid material contained in the container when the smartphone is brought into vicinity of the cartridge.

7. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the smartphone is operative to acquire at least one image of the container by way of a camera comprised in the smartphone, the smartphone analysing the at least one acquired image to determine the level of fluid material contained in the container.

8. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 7, wherein the smartphone is operative to perform image processing on the acquired at least one image of the container, image processing comprising: identifying a characteristic feature of the container in the acquired image, the characteristic feature moving when fluid material is dispensed from the container; and determining a location of the identified characteristic feature, to thereby determine the level of fluid material contained in the container.

9. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the container and the manual pump are constituted together as an airless pump, and the characteristic feature is a plate of the airless pump.

10. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the measurement apparatus is comprised at least in part in the dispenser main body, the measurement apparatus is operative on at least one of a contact principle and a non-contact principle to measure the level of fluid material contained in the container, the measurement apparatus comprises a transducer which provides an electrical output in dependence on a mechanical input when operation is on the contact principle, and the measurement apparatus comprises a transducer which provides an electrical output in dependence on at least one of an optical input and an ultrasonic input when operation is on the non-contact principle.

11. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 10 and where the transducer provides an electrical output in dependence on an optical input, wherein the measurement apparatus comprises a light source and a light detector, the light source emits a beam of light that impinges on a reflective surface of the container, the reflective surface moving as fluid material is dispensed from the container, and light reflected by the reflective surface then impinges on the light detector which provides the electrical output.

12. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 11 , wherein the container and the manual pump are constituted together as an airless pump, and the reflective surface is defined by a plate of the airless pump.

13. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the measurement apparatus measures the weight of fluid material contained in the container, the measurement apparatus comprises a weight sensor comprised in the dispenser main body, and the cartridge rests on the weight sensor whereby the weight of the cartridge is measured.

14. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the fluid material dispensing apparatus is operative to store measurement data provided in dependence on operation of the measurement apparatus, each measurement data is stored with a date and time stamp, the date and time stamp reflecting when the measurement data was obtained by measurement, whereby the stored data provides a profile of use of the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

15. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the dispenser main body comprises a motion sensor, the motion sensor is operative to sense movement of the dispenser main body, the cartridge or parts thereof, and the fluid material dispensing apparatus is operative to make at least one determination in dependence on sensed movement, the at least one determination being in respect of at least one event in use of the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

16. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 15, wherein the fluid material dispensing apparatus is operative to make a further determination in dependence on the at least one determination and an output from the measurement apparatus.

17. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the cartridge comprises a rewritable RFID tag encoded with the unique identification code, and the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprises a RFID reader-writer operative to read the unique identification code from the rewritable RFID tag and to write data formed during operation of the fluid material dispensing apparatus to the rewritable RFID tag.

18. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 17, where the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprises a smartphone, wherein the smartphone comprises the RFID reader-writer and the data store in which the read unique identification code is stored is comprised in the smartphone.

19. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims further comprising a wireless transmitter and remote computing apparatus, wherein the wireless transmitter is operative to transmit the read unique identification code to the remote computing apparatus, and the remote computing apparatus is operative to perform an authentication check on the received unique identification code, further operation of the fluid material dispensing apparatus depending on the authentication check being passed.

20. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 19, wherein the authentication check comprises searching for the received unique identification code in a database of issued unique identification codes, and determining the authentication check as passed if the read unique identification code is in the database.

21. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 19 or 20, wherein the unique identification code is read from the cartridge by the dispenser main body and the wireless transmitter is comprised in the dispenser main body.

22. The fluid material dispensing apparatus according to claim 19 or 20, where the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprises a smartphone, wherein the unique identification code is read from the cartridge by the smartphone and the wireless transmitter is comprised in the smartphone.

23. A method of dispensing fluid material from a fluid material dispensing apparatus, the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprising a cartridge, a dispenser main body which is holdable in one hand, a data store and a measurement apparatus, the method comprising: removably receiving and holding the cartridge in a cartridge receiving space defined by the dispenser main body, the cartridge comprising a container containing fluid material to be dispensed and a manual pump; dispensing fluid material from the container by user operation of the manual pump; measuring at least one of level of and weight of fluid material contained in the container by way of the measurement apparatus; reading a unique identification code from the cartridge held in the cartridge receiving space, the unique identification code identifying the cartridge from other cartridges; and storing the read unique identification code in the data store.

Description:
Title of Invention: Fluid material dispensing apparatus and method

Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a fluid material dispensing apparatus and, in particular but not exclusively, to a fluid material dispensing apparatus for dispensing fluid material for cosmetic or medical purposes. The present invention also relates to a method of dispensing fluid material from a such a fluid material dispensing apparatus.

Background Art

Devices for application of cosmetics are known. For example, WO 2016/034878 A2 discloses a hand-held device for topical application of material for cosmetic purposes. The device of WO 2016/034878 A2 changes the permeability of skin by electrical stimulation before applying material to the thus prepared skin.

The present inventors have recognised known devices for application of cosmetics, such as the device of WO 2016/034878 A2, to have shortcomings in certain circumstances. The present invention has been devised in light of the inventors’ appreciation of such shortcomings. It is therefore an object for the present invention to provide a fluid material dispensing apparatus which dispenses fluid material contained in the fluid material dispensing apparatus upon user operation of the fluid material dispensing apparatus. It is a further object for the present invention to provide a method of dispensing fluid material from such a fluid material dispensing apparatus.

Statement of Invention

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a fluid material dispensing apparatus comprising: a cartridge; a dispenser main body being holdable in one hand and defining a cartridge receiving space in which the cartridge is removably received and held; a data store; and a measurement apparatus, wherein the cartridge comprises a container, which contains fluid material, a manual pump, which upon user operation dispenses fluid material from the container, and a unique identification code for identifying the cartridge from other cartridges, wherein the measurement apparatus measures at least one of level of and weight of fluid material contained in the container, and wherein the unique identification code is read from the cartridge held in the cartridge receiving space and is stored in the data store.

The fluid material dispensing apparatus comprises a cartridge, a dispenser main body, a data store and a measurement apparatus. The dispenser main body defines a cartridge receiving space in which the cartridge is removably received and held. The data store may be an electronic data store. The electronic data store may be constituted by at least one of static random-access memory and volatile, or dynamic, memory. The dispenser main body is holdable in one hand and more specifically may be grippable in one hand whereby a user’s other hand may be left free for use. The dispenser main body may be sized and shaped such that the fingers and thumb of one hand fit around the dispenser main body sufficient to grip the main body. Alternatively or in addition, the dispenser main body may be sized and shaped such that it is held between a thumb and at least one finger.

The cartridge comprises a container, a manual pump and a unique identification code. The manual pump may be of solely mechanical operation in respect of pumping. The manual pump may therefore not involve electrical operation. The container contains fluid material, such as fluid material for cosmetic or medical purposes. The manual pump dispenses fluid material from the container upon user operation. The unique identification code identifies the cartridge from other cartridges.

The measurement apparatus measures at least one of level of and weight of fluid material contained in the container. An electric pump may provide, of itself, for monitoring of dispensing of fluid material by, for example, monitoring electric signals used to operate the electric pump. On the other hand, a manual pump of itself usually lacks such means of monitoring of dispensing of fluid material. As described further below, measurement of at least one of level of and weight of fluid material contained in the container may provide for monitoring of dispensing of fluid material from the container by the manual pump.

The fluid material dispensing apparatus reads the unique identification code from the cartridge and stores the read unique identification code in the data store. As described further below, reading and storage of the unique identification code may provide for monitoring of usage of fluid material and perhaps usage of different fluid materials contained in different cartridges, aside from authentication of the cartridge. For example, the unique identification code may provide for identification or characterisation of the fluid material contained in the container. Different fluid materials may behave in different ways when dispensed, such as in respect of rate of flow and expansion. Identification or characterisation of the fluid material contained in the container may therefore provide for more accurate monitoring of dispensing of fluid material from the container. The fluid material may be characterised by at least one parameter which reflects the like of rate of flow or expansion of the fluid material. The at least one parameter may be indexed by the read unique identification code.

The cartridge is removably received in the cartridge receiving space. A first cartridge may therefore be exchanged for a second cartridge by removing the first cartridge from the cartridge receiving space and inserting the second cartridge into the cartridge receiving space. The first and second cartridges may contain different fluid materials. The dispenser main body and the measurement apparatus may therefore be used to dispense and measure one of a plurality of different fluid materials at any one time, each of the plurality of different fluid materials being contained in a respective one of a plurality of cartridges. The fluid material dispensing apparatus may comprise a plurality of cartridges, each of the plurality of cartridges being received and held in the cartridge receiving space at any one time. Each of the plurality of cartridges may comprise a unique identification code whereby the cartridge received and held in the cartridge receiving space may be identified by the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

The cartridge comprises a container, which contains fluid material, and a manual pump, which upon user operation dispenses fluid material from the container. The manual pump may comprise a portion which is moved manually, such as by way of rotation or linear movement, to operate the manual pump and thereby dispense fluid material.

In a first form, the container may be unitary with the manual pump. The cartridge may therefore comprise an airless pump. The airless pump, which is described further below, is typically unitarily formed and has a manual pump and a container. The airless pump may comprise the unique identification code. The unique identification code may be provided in or on the airless pump such that it is readable when the airless pump is received in the cartridge receiving space.

In a second form, the container may be separable from the cartridge and perhaps also from the manual pump. One container may therefore be separated from the cartridge and replaced with another container. The unique identification code may be provided in or on each container such that it is readable when the cartridge comprising the container is received in the cartridge receiving space.

The measurement apparatus may be comprised in mobile computing apparatus and more specifically a smartphone. The mobile computing apparatus may be brought into the vicinity of the cartridge to measure fluid material contained in the container. The fluid material dispensing apparatus may comprise the mobile computing apparatus.

The fluid material dispensing apparatus may comprise a cradle for holding the dispenser main body when the dispenser main body is not in use. The cradle may be configured for charging of an electric battery comprised in the dispenser main body.

The measurement apparatus may be comprised in the cradle. Furthermore, the measurement apparatus may comprise one or more features of measurement apparatus described herein when comprised in the dispenser main body and/or the cartridge.

The level of fluid material contained in the container may be determined by the mobile computing apparatus. At least one image of the container may be acquired by a camera comprised in the mobile computing apparatus. The mobile computing apparatus may analyse the at least one acquired image to determine the level of fluid material contained in the container. Analysis may comprise image processing. An image of the container may contain a characteristic feature which moves when fluid material is dispensed from the container. The movable characteristic feature may, for example, be a piston or plate of an airless pump. Image processing may comprise identification of the movable characteristic feature in the acquired image. Image processing may further comprise determining a location and perhaps a relative location of the identified movable characteristic feature. The image of the container may contain a second, stationary characteristic feature which does not move when fluid material is dispensed from the container. The stationary characteristic feature may, for example, be a shoulder of an airless pump. Image processing may comprise identification of the stationary characteristic feature in the acquired image. Where image processing comprises determining a relative location of the movable characteristic feature, the location in the acquired image of the movable characteristic feature may be determined relative to the stationary characteristic feature.

Alternatively or in addition, the measurement apparatus may be comprised at least in part in the dispenser main body. In some forms, a first part of the measurement apparatus may be comprised in the dispenser main body and a second part of the measurement apparatus may be comprised in the cartridge.

Where the measurement apparatus measures the level of fluid material contained in the container, the measurement apparatus may be operative on one, other or both of a contact principle and a non-contact principle. The measurement apparatus may comprise a transducer which provides an electrical output in dependence on a mechanical input when operation is on a contact principle. The measurement apparatus may comprise a transducer which provides an electrical output in dependence on at least one of an optical input and an ultrasonic input when operation is on a non-contact principle.

Where the measurement apparatus receives a mechanical input, the container may comprise an indicator member which moves with the level of fluid material in the container. Measurement apparatus which receives a mechanical input may be appropriate when the container has a bellows structure, as described further below. The indicator member may move linearly or may rotate. The indicator member may be coupled to the measurement apparatus. For example, the measurement apparatus may comprise at least one microswitch which is operative in dependence on movement of the indicator member. By way of further example, the measurement apparatus may comprise a Hall effect sensor which is operative in dependence on movement of the indicator member. By way of yet further example, the measurement apparatus may comprise a potentiometer and more specifically a linear potentiometer which is operative in dependence on movement of the indicator member. Where the measurement apparatus receives an optical input, the measurement apparatus may comprise a light source and a light detector. The light source may emit a beam of light that impinges on a reflective surface of the container, the reflective surface moving as fluid material is dispensed from the container. Light reflected by the reflective surface may impinge on the light detector.

According to one approach, the angle of incidence of the beam of light on the reflective surface may be oblique whereby the reflected light moves along the light detector with change in distance between the reflective surface and the light source.

According to another approach, interferometry and more specifically laser interferometry may be used to measure movement of the reflective surface.

The light source and the light detector may be comprised in the dispenser main body. The reflective surface may be defined by a part of the container that moves as fluid material is dispensed from the container. Where the container is comprised in an airless pump, the reflective surface may be defined by an underside of the piston or plate of the airless pump.

Where the measurement apparatus receives an ultrasonic input, the measurement apparatus may comprise an ultrasonic emitter and an ultrasonic detector, the ultrasonic emitter and the ultrasonic detector being disposed such that an emitted ultrasonic signal impinges on and is reflected by a reflective surface that moves as fluid material is dispensed from the container with the reflected ultrasonic signal being detected by the ultrasonic detector. A position of the reflective surface may be determined in dependence on time of flight of the ultrasonic signal from the ultrasonic emitter to the ultrasonic detector. The reflective surface may be defined by a surface of the fluid material in the container. Alternatively, the reflective surface may be defined by a part of the container that moves as fluid material is dispensed from the container. For example, and where the container is comprised in an airless pump, the reflective surface may be defined by an underside of the piston or plate of the airless pump. Where the measurement apparatus measures the weight of fluid material contained in the container, the measurement apparatus may comprise a weight sensor. The weight sensor may be comprised in the dispenser main body. The cartridge may rest on the weight sensor whereby the weight of the cartridge may be measured.

The weight sensor may be a load cell which is operative to measure a weight of the cartridge and hence weight of fluid material contained in the container. The measurement apparatus may comprise an accelerometer which is operative to measure a load imposed by and hence weight of the cartridge, such as when the dispenser main body is placed on a surface after use.

The dispenser main body may be operative to store, such as in the data store, measurement data provided in dependence on operation of the measurement apparatus. Each measurement data may be stored with a date and time stamp, the date and time stamp reflecting when a measurement was made. The stored data may therefore provide a profile of use of the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

Where the measurement apparatus is comprised in mobile computing apparatus, the mobile computing apparatus may store measurement data provided in dependence on operation of the measurement apparatus. Each measurement data may be stored by the mobile computing apparatus with a date and time stamp, the date and time stamp reflecting when a measurement was made. The mobile computing apparatus may therefore provide a profile of use of the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

The fluid material dispensing apparatus and more specifically the dispenser main body may comprise a motion sensor. The motion sensor may comprise an accelerometer and more specifically the accelerometer which is operative to measure the weight of the cartridge, as described above.

The motion sensor may be operative to sense movement of the dispenser main body, the cartridge or parts thereof. The fluid material dispensing apparatus may be operative to make at least one determination in dependence on sensed movement. The at least one determination may be in respect of at least one event in use of the fluid material dispensing apparatus. For example, a determination may be made in respect of power management, such as powering up or down electrical components of the fluid material dispensing apparatus, when the motion sensor senses the dispenser main body being picked up or put down. By way of another example, a determination may be made in respect of operation of the manual pump, such as a start of operation of the manual pump and perhaps also an end of operation of the pump, when the motion sensor senses movement of a part of the manual pump when the manual pump is operated. By way of yet further example, a determination may be made in respect of extent of movement of a part of the manual pump which moves during user operation of the manual pump, the determination in respect of extent of movement of the part of the manual pump being made in dependence on the motion sensor sensing movement of the part.

Plural such determinations may be stored. The plural stored determinations may provide a record of use of the fluid material dispensing apparatus. Each determination may be stored with a date and time stamp, the date and time stamp reflecting when the determination was made.

The plural determinations may be stored with measurement data determined in dependence on operation of the measurement apparatus.

Alternatively or in addition, the fluid material dispensing apparatus may be operative to make a further determination in dependence on the at least one determination and an output from the measurement apparatus. The at least one determination made in dependence on operation of the motion sensor and the output from the measurement apparatus may provide improved information on use of the fluid material dispensing apparatus than may be provided on the basis of the output from the measurement apparatus alone. For example, a start time and end time of dispensing of fluid material may be provided by operation of the motion sensor and the measurement apparatus may provide for determination of change in level of fluid material between the start time and the end time. Furthermore, and by way of additional example, the motion sensor may provide for characterisation of how fluid material is dispensed between the start and end times, such as an initial and rapid pumping action by the user followed by a slower pumping action by the user.

The container may have a bellows structure. The cartridge may comprise a threaded member which upon rotation by a user compresses the bellows structure to thereby dispense fluid material from the container.

As mentioned above, the cartridge may comprise an airless pump. The airless pump, which is of known form and function, comprises a pump mechanism which when depressed by the user creates a vacuum within the fluid material holding container and thereby draws fluid material from the container. The airless pump also comprises a piston or plate below the fluid material in the container. The vacuum created by the pump mechanism draws the plate upwards as fluid material is drawn from the container by the pump. The airless pump is often used for dispensing of preservative free or natural products on account of its exclusion of air. Also, the airless pump is used more generally for cosmetic products because the exclusion of air provides for longer shelf life and improved preservation of the contained cosmetic product.

As described above, the cartridge comprises a unique identification code for identifying the cartridge from other cartridges. A wireless device may store the unique identification code. The wireless device may provide for radio frequency communication of the unique identification code, for example, to the dispenser main body. The wireless device may be an RFID tag and, more specifically, a rewritable RFID tag whereby data may be written on an ongoing basis to the RFID tag. The RFID tag may be a passive RFID tag.

Where the cartridge comprises an airless pump, all that may be required to adapt a known airless pump for use with the fluid material dispensing apparatus is affixing of an RFID tag to the airless pump, with the RFID tag being encoded with the unique identification code. The fluid material dispensing apparatus may comprise a reader device which is operative to read the unique identification code from the cartridge. The reader device may wirelessly read the unique identification code and, more specifically, may read the unique identification code by radio frequency communication. The reader device may be an RFID reader.

Where the unique identification code is stored in a rewritable RFID tag, as described above, the fluid material dispensing apparatus may comprise an RFID writer. Data may be written to the rewritable RFID tag by the RFID writer to, for example, provide for preservation of data in absence of communication with at least one of the mobile computing apparatus and the remote computing apparatus described below. Data written to the RFID tag may include the like of measurement data from the measurement apparatus and perhaps also determinations made in dependence on measurements, or characteristics of operation of the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

The dispenser main body may comprise the reader device whereby the dispenser main body is operative to read the unique identification code from the cartridge. The data store in which the read unique identification code is stored may be comprised in the dispenser main body.

The mobile computing apparatus may comprise the reader device, and more specifically an RFID reader-writer, whereby the mobile computing apparatus is operative to read the unique identification code from the cartridge. The reader device may be as described above and, more specifically, may be a Near Field Communication (NFC) reader comprised as a matter of course in a smartphone of known form and function. The data store in which the read unique identification code is stored may be comprised in the mobile computing apparatus. As mentioned above, the fluid material dispensing apparatus may comprise the mobile computing apparatus.

Where the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprises a cradle for holding the dispenser main body when the dispenser main body is not in use, the cradle may comprise the reader device whereby the cradle is operative to read the unique identification code from the cartridge. The data store in which the read unique identification code is stored may be comprised in the cradle. As described elsewhere herein, the cradle may be configured for charging of an electric battery comprised in the dispenser main body.

As described further below, the read unique identification code may be stored in the data store, for example in the dispenser main body, in the mobile computing apparatus or in the cradle, only momentarily before onward transmission to another component, such as the remote computing apparatus described below. After onward transmission of the read unique identification code, the read unique identification code may be deleted from the local data store, for example from the dispenser main body, the mobile computing apparatus or the cradle, to provide for data security.

The fluid material dispensing apparatus may comprise a wireless transmitter. Depending on location of the reader device in the dispenser main body or the cradle, as described above, the wireless transmitter may be comprised in the dispenser main body or the cradle. The fluid material dispensing apparatus may be configured to transmit data stored in the data store. Apart from the read unique identification code, the stored data may, for example, comprise the measurement data and determinations made in dependence on operation of the motion sensor.

Where the reader is comprised in the mobile computing apparatus, the wireless transmitter may be comprised as a matter of course in the mobile computing apparatus. The wireless transmitter may be a radio frequency transmitter, for example, operative in accordance with at least one of the Bluetooth (RTM) protocol or the WiFi standard.

Where the wireless transmitter is comprised in the dispenser main body or the cradle, the wireless transmitter may transmit data to a general-purpose computing apparatus and more specifically a mobile computing apparatus, such as a smartphone. Processing of data received from the dispenser main body may be in dependence on a received unique identification code passing an authentication check. The authentication check is described below.

As described above, the measurement apparatus may be comprised in the mobile computing apparatus. Measurement data may therefore already be stored in the mobile computing apparatus. When the dispenser main body reads the unique identification code, a wireless transmitter comprised in the dispenser main body may transmit the unique identification code but not the measurement data in view of it being stored already in the mobile computing apparatus. The unique identification code received in the mobile computing apparatus may be used for the authentication check. Where the dispenser main body comprises a motion sensor, the wireless transmitter may transmit determinations made in dependence on operation of the motion sensor.

The authentication check may be performed in remote computing apparatus, such as a central computing apparatus which may be under the direct or indirect control of a vendor of genuine cartridges. The authentication check may comprise receiving the read unique identification code in the remote computing apparatus, for example from the dispenser main body, the cradle or the mobile computing apparatus. The remote computing apparatus may be comprised in the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

The remote computing apparatus may be operative to determine whether or not the read unique identification code is valid. For example, valid unique identification codes may be those issued by a vendor of genuine cartridges. More specifically, the authentication check may further comprise searching for the read unique identification code in a database of issued unique identification codes. If the read unique identification code is in the database, the remote computing apparatus may be operative to determine that the read unique identification code has passed the authentication check.

Use of the fluid material dispensing apparatus, such as downloading of further data from the cartridge, may depend on the authentication check being passed. The fluid material dispensing apparatus may be configured to be incapable of further operation until receipt of control data in dependence on a passed authentication check determination being made by the remote computing apparatus, receipt of the control data putting the fluid material dispensing apparatus in a more fully operative condition.

Alternatively, the authentication check may be performed in a part of the fluid material dispensing apparatus other than the remote computing apparatus. The authentication check may, for example, be performed in the dispenser main body or the cradle. The authentication check may comprise searching for the read unique identification code in a database of issued unique identification codes. The database may, for example, be comprised in the dispenser main body or the cradle.

Otherwise, the authentication process may be as described above in respect of authentication being carried out in the remote computing apparatus.

The dispenser main body may comprise a wireless transceiver which is operative as a wireless transmitter, as described above, and also as a wireless receiver. Control data may be received in the dispenser main body by way of the wireless transceiver, for example, from the mobile computing apparatus. The control data may provide for control of the fluid material dispensing apparatus, for example, in accordance with a user’s preference or history of use.

The dispenser main body may comprise a processor, such as a microcontroller, which is operative to control at least one electrical component comprised in the dispenser main body or the cradle, such as the data store. The processor may be operative in dependence on execution of processor instructions stored in at least one of static memory and volatile memory comprised in the dispenser main body or the cradle. Alternatively or in addition, the processor may comprise electronic circuitry further to or instead of a microcontroller, the electronic circuitry being configured to perform processes described herein. The electronic circuitry may therefore comprise circuits having structures and/or non-transitory memory having programmed instructions to perform these processes. The fluid material contained in the container may be liquid material. Liquid material may comprise semi-solid material as well as semi-liquid material.

The fluid material may be material for cosmetic purposes. The fluid material may be material for medical purposes.

The fluid material dispensing apparatus may be configured to at least one of: make electrical measurements of the skin of a human or animal subject; and perform optical characterisation of the skin of a human or animal subject.

Where the fluid material dispensing apparatus performs optical characterisation of the skin of a human or animal subject, the fluid material dispensing apparatus may comprise an imaging device which is operative to acquire at least one image of the skin. The imaging device may be comprised in an optical characterisation device apart from and operable independently of the dispenser main body. More specifically, the imaging device may be comprised in a camera comprised in mobile computing apparatus, such as the mobile computing apparatus described above.

The fluid material dispensing apparatus may comprise a lens arrangement which is attached to the mobile computing apparatus whereby the mobile computing apparatus can perform optical characterisation of the skin.

The lens arrangement may comprise a dermatoscope. The dermatoscope may allow for inspection of the like of skin lesions without inspection being obscured by skin surface reflections. Alternatively or in addition, the lens arrangement may comprise a periscope. The periscope may extend the reach of imaging beyond the footprint of the mobile computing apparatus, such as a smartphone. The periscope may comprise a light source, such as an LED light source, for illumination of the skin being imaged.

Where the fluid material dispensing apparatus makes electrical measurements of the skin of a human or animal subject, the fluid material dispensing apparatus may comprise electrical measurement apparatus. The electrical measurement apparatus may make at least one of impedance and capacitance measurements of the skin, as described in detail in WO 2016/034878 A2. The electrical measurement apparatus may be comprised in a device apart from the dispenser main body. Furthermore, the electrical measurement apparatus may be comprised in a device, i.e. an electrical measurement device, apart from the mobile computing apparatus. A user may, for example, use the electrical measurement apparatus to make electrical measurements of the skin, put the electrical measurement apparatus to one side, use the dispenser main body to apply cosmetic material to the skin and then bring the electrical measurement apparatus back into use again.

The electrical measurement device may be in communication and more specifically wireless communication with the mobile computing apparatus. The electrical measurement device may be in wireless communication with the mobile computing apparatus. More specifically, the electrical measurement device may be in radio frequency communication, such as in accordance with at least one of the Bluetooth (RTM) protocol or the WiFi standard.

The electrical measurement device may communicate electrical measurement data to the mobile computing apparatus.

Where optical characterisation of the skin of a human or animal subject is performed, the mobile computing apparatus may process the received electrical measurement data with optical characterisation data. The electrical measurement data and the optical characterisation data may relate to the same area of skin. The mobile computing apparatus may therefore correlate the electrical measurement data with the optical characterisation data and more specifically make at least one determination based on the correlation.

In versions of the present invention, data may be transmitted directly to or received directly from the remote computing apparatus by at least one of the dispenser main body and the cradle rather than by way of the mobile computing apparatus. More specifically, data may be transmitted by radio frequency communication, such as in accordance with FITTP(S) or MQTT. Alternatively or in addition, and where the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprises the mobile computing apparatus, the mobile computing apparatus may also be in communication with the remote computing apparatus.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of dispensing fluid material from a fluid material dispensing apparatus, the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprising a cartridge, a dispenser main body which is holdable in one hand, a data store and a measurement apparatus, the method comprising: removably receiving and holding the cartridge in a cartridge receiving space defined by the dispenser main body, the cartridge comprising a container containing fluid material to be dispensed and a manual pump; dispensing fluid material from the container by user operation of the manual pump; measuring at least one of level of and weight of fluid material contained in the container by way of the measurement apparatus; reading a unique identification code from the cartridge held in the cartridge receiving space, the unique identification code identifying the cartridge from other cartridges; and storing the read unique identification code in the data store.

Embodiments of the second aspect of the present invention may comprise one or more features of the first aspect of the present invention.

According to a further aspect of the present invention there is provided a fluid material dispensing apparatus, the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprising: a cartridge; a dispenser main body being holdable in one hand and defining a cartridge receiving space in which the cartridge is removably received and held; a data store; and a measurement apparatus, wherein the cartridge comprises a container, which contains fluid material, a pump, which in dependence on user operation dispenses fluid material from the container, and a unique identification code for identifying the cartridge from other cartridges, wherein the measurement apparatus measures at least one of level of and weight of fluid material contained in the container, and wherein the unique identification code is read from the cartridge held in the cartridge receiving space and is stored in the data store.

As described above, the pump may be a manual pump. Alternatively or in addition, the pump may be an electromechanical pump. More specifically, the electromechanical pump may be of a form and function as disclosed by WO 2016/034878 A2.

Further embodiments of the further aspect of the present invention may comprise one or more features of the first aspect of the present invention.

According to a yet further aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of dispensing fluid material from a fluid material dispensing apparatus, the fluid material dispensing apparatus comprising a cartridge, a dispenser main body which is holdable in one hand, a data store and a measurement apparatus, the method comprising: removably receiving and holding the cartridge in a cartridge receiving space defined by the dispenser main body, the cartridge comprising a container containing fluid material to be dispensed and a pump; dispensing fluid material from the container in dependence on user operation of the pump; measuring at least one of level of and weight of fluid material contained in the container by way of the measurement apparatus; reading a unique identification code from the cartridge held in the cartridge receiving space, the unique identification code identifying the cartridge from other cartridges; and storing the read unique identification code in the data store.

Embodiments of the yet further aspect of the present invention may comprise one or more features of any previous aspect of the present invention.

Brief Description of Drawings

Further features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following specific description, which is given by way of example only and with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: Figure 1A is a block diagram representation of fluid material dispensing apparatus according to a first embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 1 B shows the airless pump received in the dispenser main body according to each of the first to third embodiments of the present invention;

Figure 2 is a block diagram representation of fluid material dispensing apparatus according to a third embodiment of the present invention; and

Figure 3 is a high-level system diagram of the fluid material dispensing apparatus of Figure 1.

Description of Embodiments

A block diagram representation of fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 according to a first embodiment of the present invention is shown in Figure 1. The fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 comprises an airless pump 12 (which constitutes a cartridge), a dispenser main body 14, an electrical measurement device 16, a smartphone 18 and central computing apparatus 52. The central computing apparatus 52 is operated by or on behalf of a vendor of genuine airless pumps 12. The central computing apparatus 52 is in communication with the other components of the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 by way of means of known form and function, such as wireless communication in accordance with FITTP(S) or MQTT to and from the other components of the fluid material dispensing apparatus and the Internet to and from the central computing apparatus 52. The central computing apparatus 52 is used for storage of data from the other components of the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 and for the like of providing of firmware updates to the other components of the fluid material dispensing apparatus.

The airless pump 12 is of known form and function and is often used in accordance with known practice for dispensing of preservative free or natural products on account of its exclusion of air. The airless pump 12 comprises a pump mechanism which when depressed by the user creates a vacuum within the fluid material holding container of the airless pump and thereby draws fluid material from the container. The airless pump also comprises a plate below the fluid material in the container.

The vacuum created by the pump mechanism draws the plate upwards as fluid material is drawn from the container by the pump. The airless pump 12 holds fluid material for cosmetic or medical purposes.

The dispenser main body 14 defines a cartridge receiving space and is shaped and sized such that it can be gripped in one hand. Figure 1 B shows the airless pump 12 received in the cartridge receiving space of the dispenser main body 14. The dispenser main body 14 is indicated in Figure 1 B by the dashed lines around the airless pump 12. As can be seen from Figure 1 B, the dispenser main body 14 is a close fit around the airless pump 12 whereby the exterior size of the dispenser main body is not much greater than the airless pump. Furthermore, the upper end of the airless pump 12 extends beyond the upper end of the dispenser main body 14 whereby the manual pump of the airless pump is accessible for operation by the user. When the airless pump 12 has been inserted into the cartridge receiving space of the dispenser main body 14, a clip (not shown) is used to hold the airless pump in the cartridge receiving space.

In an alternative, unillustrated form the airless pump 12 of Figure 1A is replaced with a container having a bellows structure, which contains fluid material to be dispensed, and a manually operated pump mechanism which is operative to compress the bellows structure to thereby dispense fluid material from the bellows structure.

The airless pump 12 comprises an RFID tag 20 which is affixed to an exterior of the airless pump. The RFID tag 20 is an ICODE DNA NFC Forum Type 5 Tag from NXP Semiconductors Netherlands B.V., High Tech Campus, 60 Eindhoven, Netherlands. The RFID tag 20 is encoded with a unique identification code for identifying the present airless pump 12 as genuine from other genuine airless pumps which have encoded RFID tags attached. The airless pump 12 is therefore of known form and function with the exception of the affixed RFID tag 20.

Returning to Figure 1A, the dispenser main body 14 comprises a microcontroller 22, electronic memory 24 and a wireless transceiver 26, which is operative in accordance with the Bluetooth (RTM) protocol. The microcontroller 22, the electronic memory 24 and the wireless transceiver 26 are of known form and function. In accordance with usual practice, the smartphone 18 is equipped with a wireless transceiver which is operative in accordance with the Bluetooth (RTM) protocol whereby there is wireless communication of data between the dispenser main body 14 and the smartphone 18. The dispenser main body 14 also comprises an RFID reader-writer 28 of known form and function which is operative to read the unique identification code from the RFID tag 20 of the airless pump 12. The RFID reader-writer 28 is an SLRC610 RFID frontend from NXP Semiconductors Netherlands B.V., High Tech Campus, 60 Eindhoven, Netherlands. The read unique identification code is stored by the microcontroller 22 in the electronic memory 24 along with a date and time stamp.

In an alternative form, the RFID reader-writer is instead comprised in the cradle 92 described below whereby the unique identification code is read from the RFID tag 20 of the airless pump 12 when the dispenser main body 14 is held by the cradle. The electronic memory is comprised in the cradle 92 along with a microcontroller, the microcontroller in the cradle being operative to store the read unique identification code in the electronic memory along with a date and time stamp.

The dispenser main body 14 further comprises level measurement apparatus 30.

The level measurement apparatus 30 measures the level of fluid in the airless pump 12. The level measurement apparatus 30 takes one of several forms. In first form, the level measurement apparatus 30 comprises a light source and a light detector which are each mounted on the base of the cartridge receiving space. The light source emits a beam of light that impinges at an oblique angle on the reflective surface on the underside of the plate of the airless pump 12. The beam of light is reflected by the reflective surface so that the reflected beam of light impinges on the light detector. As fluid material is dispensed from the airless pump 12, the plate and hence reflective surface move away from the base of the cartridge receiving space. Movement of the reflective surface away from the base of the cartridge receiving space causes the reflected light to move along the light detector. Movement of the reflective surface is thus measured by the level measurement apparatus 30 with movement of the reflective surface corresponding to reduction in level of fluid material contained in the airless pump 12. According to an alternative and more complex approach, laser interferometry is used in accordance with a known approach to measure movement of the reflective surface.

In another form, the level measurement apparatus 30 receives a mechanical input which corresponds to the level of the fluid material. This form of level measurement apparatus is used in the bellows structure fluid material holding container described above. The bellows structure container has either a linearly moving or rotating indicator member which moves or rotates with change in level of fluid in the bellows structure container. The level measurement apparatus 30 comprises a Hall effect sensor, a potentiometer or at least one microswitch which is operative as the indicator member moves.

In another form, the level measurement apparatus 30 receives an ultrasonic input.

In this form, the level measurement apparatus 30 comprises an ultrasonic emitter and an ultrasonic detector. The ultrasonic emitter and the ultrasonic detector are disposed such that an emitted ultrasonic signal impinges on and is reflected by a reflective surface that moves as fluid material is dispensed from the container with the reflected ultrasonic signal being detected by the ultrasonic detector. A position of the reflective surface is determined in dependence on time of flight of the ultrasonic signal from the ultrasonic emitter to the ultrasonic detector. Where the bellows structure fluid material holding container described above is used, the reflective surface is the surface of fluid contained in the container. Where the airless pump 12 of Figures 1 A and 1 B is used, the reflective surface is the underside of the plate of the airless pump.

Irrespective of the form of level measurement apparatus, each level measurement is received by and processed in the microcontroller 22 before being stored with a date and time stamp in the electronic memory 24.

The dispenser main body 14 yet further comprises a weight measurement apparatus 32. The weight measurement apparatus 32 comprises an accelerometer of known form and function which is operative to respond when the dispenser main body 14 with airless pump 12 in place is placed on a surface. The output from the accelerometer is received in the microcontroller 22 and the accelerometer output is processed to determine the weight of the dispenser main body 14 and airless pump 12. As fluid material is dispensed from the airless pump 12, the weight of the airless pump 12 reduces with reduction in weight corresponding to reduction in volume of fluid held by the airless pump. Such change in weight and hence volume is reflected in the output from the accelerometer. In another form, the weight measurement apparatus 32 comprises a load cell of known form and function which is operative to weigh the airless pump 12. Irrespective of the form of weight measurement apparatus, each weight measurement is received by and processed in the microcontroller 22 before being stored with a date and time stamp in the electronic memory 24.

The accelerometer of the weight measurement apparatus 32 is also operative as a motion sensor. The accelerometer is operative to sense movement of the dispenser main body 14 and airless pump 12 and parts thereof. For example, the accelerometer senses movement of the pump mechanism of the airless pump 12 upon operation of the airless pump as well as movement of the dispenser main body 14. An output from the accelerometer is received in and processed by the microcontroller 22 to make several different determinations in respect of use of the apparatus. According to a first example, the microcontroller 22 determines that the dispenser main body 14 has been picked up and powers up electrical components that had been powered down to save on power consumption. Conversely, the microcontroller 22 determines that the dispenser main body 14 has been put down and powers down electrical components after a predetermined period of time to save on power consumption. By way of another example, the microcontroller 22 determines the start of a manual pumping action when the accelerometer first responds to movement of the pump mechanism of the airless pump 12. Further to this, the microcontroller 22 determines the end of a manual pumping action when the accelerometer stops responding upon cessation of movement of the pump mechanism of the airless pump 12. By way of yet further example, the microcontroller 22 determines how the pump mechanism of the airless pump 12 is operated in dependence on the output from the accelerometer, such as an initial and rapid pumping action by the user followed by a slower pumping action by the user. In another form, the level measurement apparatus 30 and the weight measurement apparatus 32 are comprised in the cradle 92 described below. In this form, the level and weight are measured when the dispenser main body 14 is placed in the cradle 92. In this form, the dispenser main body 14 still comprises an accelerometer which is operative as a motion sensor to sense movement of the dispenser main body during use whereby by the events described in the immediately preceding paragraph are detected and stored.

Data from the microcontroller 22 produced in dependence on operation of the RFID reader-writer 28, the level measurement apparatus 30 and the weight measurement apparatus 32, which includes motion sensing data, is either stored in the electronic memory 24 and then transmitted in due course by way of the Bluetooth (RTM) communication channel to the smartphone 18 or is transmitted to the smartphone 18 without first being stored in the electronic memory 24. In the meantime, such data is written to the RFID tag 20 by the RFID reader-writer 28 to preserve the data until it is transmitted onwards. The smartphone 18 is configured by way of an App to perform various functions. One function performed by the App involves authentication of the unique identification code with further use of the App depending on positive authentication. Another function performed by the App involves keeping a log of use of the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10. A further function performed by the App involves analysis of the logged use and visual presentation of such analysis to the user.

Authentication involves searching for the read unique identification code in a database of unique identification codes which have been issued by the vendor. The unique identification codes in the database are therefore genuine. If the read unique identification code is in the database, a determination is made that the read unique identification code is genuine and thus passes the authentication check. Authentication is carried out either in the central computing apparatus 52 or locally to the airless pump 12, i.e. in the dispenser main body 14 or in the cradle 92 described below. Following passing of the authentication check, the fluid material dispensing apparatus is put in a fully operative condition. The electrical measurement device 16 comprises a microcontroller 42, electronic memory 44 and a wireless transceiver 46, which is operative in accordance with the Bluetooth (RTM) protocol. The microcontroller 42, the electronic memory 44 and the wireless transceiver 46 are of known form and function. The electrical measurement device 16 also comprises impedance measurement apparatus 48 and capacitance measurement apparatus 50. The electrical measurement device 16 has a form and function as described in detail in WO 2016/034878 A2. The electrical measurement device 16 has a surface which bears electrodes of the impedance measurement apparatus 48 and the capacitance measurement apparatus 50 with the electrode bearing surface being placed against the skin to make impedance and capacitance measurements of the skin. The electrical measurement device 16 communicates electrical measurement data to the smartphone 18 by way of the wireless channel between the wireless transceiver 46 of the electrical measurement device and the wireless transceiver of the smartphone.

The smartphone 18 is configured to perform optical characterisation of the skin. A lens arrangement (not shown) is attached to the smartphone 18 in front of the camera of the smartphone. In one form, the lens arrangement is a dermatoscope to allow for inspection of the like of skin lesions without inspection being obscured by skin surface reflections. In another form, the lens arrangement is a periscope comprising an LED light source. The periscope extends the reach of imaging beyond the footprint of the smartphone 18. In yet another form, the lens arrangement is a combination of the dermatoscope and the periscope. The smartphone 18 is then operated to acquire images or video of the skin. The acquired images or video is then analysed under operation of the App to make determinations in respect of skin characteristics. As described above, electrical measurement data is received in the smartphone 18. The App running on the smartphone 18 is operative to correlate optical characterisation data with received electrical measurement data to provide enhanced characterisation of the skin.

An example of method of use of the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 of Figures 1 A and 1 B will now be described. The user performs optical characterisation of the skin by way of the smartphone 18 and then electrical characterisation of the skin by way of the electrical measurement device 16. The App running on the smartphone 18 is then operative to make recommendations as to the type of cosmetic material to be applied to the skin with such recommendations informed by data collected in the central computing apparatus 52 from other dispenser main bodies. The user then selects an appropriate one of plural airless pumps 12 which contain different respective cosmetic materials and inserts the selected airless pump into the dispenser main body 14. Following the authentication check in the dispenser main body 14, the App or the central computing apparatus 52 to determine whether or not the inserted airless pump 12 is genuine, the user then dispenses a quantity of cosmetic material from the airless pump 12 and applies the dispensed cosmetic material to the skin. The dispenser main body 14 makes measurements and senses motion, as described above, to thereby monitor use of the dispenser main body 14 and airless pump 12. Such measured and sensed data is communicated to the smartphone 18 to keep a log of use of the dispenser main body 14 and airless pump 12, provide feedback to the user and provide a basis for better informed further dispensing of cosmetic material from the present airless pump 12 or from the other airless pumps comprised in the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10. The unique identification code read from the inserted airless pump 12 is used to identify the inserted airless pump and thereby keep track of its use.

A second, unillustrated embodiment of fluid material dispensing apparatus will now be described. The second embodiment is the same as the first embodiment except as will now be described. The dispenser main body 14 of the first embodiment lacks the level measurement apparatus 30. Instead, level measurement is carried out by the smartphone 18. According to the second embodiment, the user acquires an image of the airless pump 12 by way of the camera comprised in the smartphone 18. Under control of the App, the smartphone 18 performs image processing of the acquired image. Image processing comprises identification in the acquired image of the movable plate of the airless pump 12 and a characteristic stationary feature of the airless pump, such as the shoulder beneath the pump mechanism. Image processing further comprises determining a separation between the plate and the characteristic stationary feature whereby a volume of cosmetic material in the airless pump 12 is determined in dependence on the separation of plate and characteristic stationary feature. The accelerometer 32 of the first embodiment is operative in the present embodiment to sense motion with the sensed motion being processed as described above in respect of the first embodiment.

A block diagram representation of fluid material dispensing apparatus 70 according to a third embodiment of the present invention is shown in Figure 2. Features of the third embodiment in common with the first embodiment are designated with like reference numerals. The reader is therefore directed to the description provided above in respect of the first embodiment for such commonly designated features. Features particular to the third embodiment will now be described. The dispenser main body 14 lacks the electronic components of the first embodiment. The dispenser main body 14 therefore serves only as a holder for the airless pump 12. The airless pump 12 is the same as described above for the first embodiment. The smartphone 18 of the third embodiment is operative under control of the App to read the unique identification code from the RFID tag 20 on the airless pump 12. Reading of the unique identification code from the RFID tag 20 is carried out by the Near Field Communication (NFC) transceiver comprised in the smartphone 18. The smartphone 18, the dispenser main body 14 or the central computing apparatus 52 is operative as described above to authenticate the read unique identification code. The smartphone 18 of the third embodiment is configured by way of a lens arrangement to measure a level of cosmetic material contained in the airless pump 12 as described above with reference to the second embodiment. No weight measurement or motion sensing is carried out by the dispenser main body 14. The electrical measurement device 16 of the third embodiment has the same form and function as for the first embodiment.

The third embodiment is used in the same fashion as the first embodiment having regard to the more limited capabilities of the third embodiment. For example, the smartphone 18 and the electrical measurement device 16 are used for optical and electrical characterisation of the skin with the App running on the smartphone providing recommendations to the user as to the type of cosmetic material to be applied to the skin with such recommendations being informed by the central computing apparatus 52. The user then selects an appropriate one of plural airless pumps 12 which contain different respective cosmetic materials. The smartphone 18 is then used to authenticate the unique identification code contained in the RFID tag 20 before the selected airless pump is inserted into the dispenser main body 14.

The user dispenses cosmetic material from the airless pump 12 and applies the dispensed cosmetic material to the skin. The reduced level of cosmetic material in the airless pump 12 is measured by the smartphone 18 and stored in the smartphone as part of a log of use. Such a log of use is a basis for feedback to the user by way of the App. The log of use also provides for better informed recommendations by way of the App for further dispensing of cosmetic material from the airless pump 12 or from the other airless pumps comprised in the fluid material dispensing apparatus 70.

A high-level system diagram of the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 of Figure 1 is shown in Figure 3. The fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 as shown in Figure 3 comprises the dispenser main body 14 holding the airless pump 12, the electrical measurement device 16 and the smartphone 18. The fluid material dispensing apparatus 10 also comprises a cradle 92 for receiving each of the dispenser main body 14 and the electrical measurement device 16 and when so received for charging of an electric battery comprised in each of the dispenser main body and the electrical measurement device. The cradle 92 therefore comprises an AC-DC converter 94 whereby the cradle receives mains electrical power for charging of electric batteries. Changing is either by electrical contact or is contactless, such as in accordance with the Qi standard. As described above, communication between the smartphone 18 and each of the dispenser main body 14 and the electrical measurement device 16 is in accordance with the Bluetooth (RTM) standard.

The dispenser main body 14 comprises battery charging hardware 96 and a rechargeable electric battery 98. As described above, the dispenser main body 14 also comprises the RFID reader-writer 28, the level measurement apparatus 30, an accelerometer 100, which is operative to provide for weight measurement and motion sensing as described above, and the microcontroller 22. In accordance with standard design, the microcontroller 22 is configured to provide for: power management 102; scheduling 104; error handling 106; communications API 108;

OTA bootloader 110; sensor drivers 114; user interface I/O 116; and Bluetooth (RTM) 118.

The electrical measurement device 16 comprises battery charging hardware 120 and a rechargeable electric battery 122. As described above, the electrical measurement device 16 also comprises the impedance measurement apparatus 48, the capacitance measurement apparatus 50, and electrodes 124 for the impedance measurement apparatus and for the capacitance measurement apparatus, and the microcontroller 42. The electrical measurement device 16 further comprises temperature and humidity sensors 126 and an accelerometer 128. The accelerometer 128 provides for motion sensing whereby usage of the electrical measurement device 16 is determined and recorded, as described above with reference to the dispenser main body 14. In accordance with standard design, the microcontroller 42 is configured to provide for: power management 102; scheduling 104; error handling 106; communications API 108; OTA bootloader 110; sensor drivers 114; user interface I/O 116; and Bluetooth (RTM) 118.

The smartphone 18 comprises an operating system 132 which supports an application level 134 in accordance with standard design. At the application level 134, the smartphone 18 runs standard on-board applications 136, such as for location determination, an application for communication with the cloud 138 and hence the central computing apparatus 52, and resident applications for GUI functions 140. Further to this, the smartphone 18 runs a user App 142 which provides for the processes described above in respect of use of the fluid material dispensing apparatus 10.