Title:
MOTIVATIONAL URINAL FOR TOILET TRAINING OF YOUNG MALES
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A urinal is disclosed for motivating and facilitating urination toilet training of young males. The urinal includes a urine sensor and a motivational device that is activated by the sensor so as to produce visible and/or audible stimuli enjoyable to a young male. Preferred embodiments also include target objects toward which urine can be directed. In some of these embodiments the target objects change color and/or enjoyable stimuli are generated when target objects are struck by urine. Target objects can have recognizable images and/or shapes, and corresponding stimuli can be produced when targets are struck. For example, mooing sounds can be produced when a target with a cow image is struck. Embodiments can be connectable to plumbing or self-contained. Urinals can be sized and shaped optimally for use by young males, and can be powered by an electrical outlet or by batteries so as to provide powerful stimuli.



Inventors:
Rao, Pasquale (Lawrence, NY, US)
Application Number:
12/170253
Publication Date:
01/14/2010
Filing Date:
07/09/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
YOUNKINS, KAREN L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Russ, Weinzimmer (614 Nashua Street, Suite 53, Milford, NH, 03055, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for facilitating toilet training of young males, the apparatus comprising: a urinal; a sensor fixed within the urinal and able to detect contact with urine; and a motivational device that can be activated by the sensor and, when activated by the sensor, can produce an enjoyable stimulus that tends to reward a young male for using the urinal.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein at least one of the size and shape of the urinal is adapted for use by a young male.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the urinal is connectable to conventional plumbing.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the urinal can be used without being connected to plumbing.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the sensor is able to detect contact with urine by detecting at least one of: temperature; pressure; vibration; electrical conductivity; and sound.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the enjoyable stimulus is: a light that remains constant; a blinking light; a light that changes color; a visual image that changes appearance; an object that at least partly changes color; an object that moves; a sound that remains constant; an intermittent sound; a sound that varies in its characteristics; a sound that at least resembles human speech; a sound suggestive of an object that is likely to be recognized by a young male; and a sound suggestive of an environment that is likely to be recognized by a young male.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a target object toward which a young male can direct a stream of urine.

8. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein the sensor is physically conjunct with the target object, such that the motivational device is activated when the target object is contacted by urine.

9. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein the enjoyable stimulus emanates from the target object.

10. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein the target object is brightly colored.

11. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein at least a portion of the target object changes color when contacted by urine.

12. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein the target object has an appearance that is likely to be recognized by a young male.

13. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein the appearance of the target object resembles one of: a geometric shape; an animal; a person; a vehicle; and a celestial object.

14. The apparatus of claim 12, wherein the motivation device, when activated, produces a sound that is related to the appearance of the target object.

15. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the apparatus includes a plurality of sensors fixed within the urinal and able to detect contact with urine.

16. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the apparatus includes a plurality of motivational devices that, when activated, can produce enjoyable stimuli that tend to reward a young male for using the apparatus.

17. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the apparatus includes a plurality of target objects toward which a young male can direct a stream of urine.

18. An apparatus for facilitating toilet training of young males, the apparatus comprising: a urinal; a plurality of motivational devices coordinate with the urinal, each motivation device, when activated, being able to produce an enjoyable stimulus that tends to reward a young male for using the urinal; and a plurality of target devices fixed within the urinal, each target device including a sensor that is able to detect contact with urine, each target device being configured so as to activate at least one motivational device when contact with urine is detected.

19. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein at least one of the target devices at least partly changes color when the at least one target device makes contact with urine.

20. The apparatus of claim 18, wherein at least one of the target devices has a recognizable appearance, and wherein a motivational device emits a sound that is related to the recognizable appearance when the at least one target device makes contact with urine.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention generally relates to educational devices for young children, and more specifically to toilet training devices for young male children.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

One of the most significant steps in early childhood development is the transition from the use of diapers to the use of toilet facilities. This transition is often referred to as “toilet training.” So as to make this transition, a young child must learn to be aware of his or her bodily functions, and how to manipulate them consciously and purposefully. This requires not only physical maturity, but also sufficient motivation so as to induce the required effort and practice.

Young boys face special difficulties as compared to young girls when undergoing toilet training. Both young boys and young girls must learn to recognize the need to urinate, and how to delay and control the onset of urination. In addition, young boys must also learn how to direct the flow of urine into a desired toilet facility. This is problematic when using a conventional toilet, since directing a stream of urine into a toilet bowl is inconvenient and somewhat unnatural for a young boy when sitting on the toilet seat, and directing a stream of urine accurately into a toilet bowl is difficult for a young boy when standing in front of the toilet bowl.

One approach to overcoming these difficulties is to provide a child-sized urinal for use by young boys during toilet training. However, while this simplifies the physical requirements for young boys, it does not enhance the motivation of a young boy to learn to use the urinal.

Several approaches have been proposed for motivating young boys to practice and learn to urinate into a toilet or urinal. Visually interesting items can be caused to float on the water inside of a toilet bowl, and can be configured so as to change their visual appearance and/or to sink when struck by urine. However, this approach is not adaptable to use in a urinal.

Another approach is to fix objects inside of an existing urinal that will react to pressure, vibration, wetness, and/or warmth by changing color, revealing hidden images, displaying lights, and/or producing sounds when struck by urine. However, the degree of visual interest and variety of stimuli produced by such devices is limited, since they generally include only small batteries at most, or in many cases no power source whatsoever. These approaches must therefore rely for visual effects upon chemical, Light Emitting Diode (LED), and/or Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) and other technologies that lack brightness and visual interest, and they must rely for audible effects upon audio devices that can produce only faint sounds.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A motivational urinal is claimed that provides ease of use and enhanced motivation so as to facilitate toilet training of young males. By incorporating motivational features into a specially designed urinal, rather than relying on motivational devices intended for use in conventional urinals, the present invention is able to produce brighter visual effects, louder audible effects, and a greater variety of stimuli than the prior art.

One general aspect of the invention provides an apparatus for facilitating toilet training of young males. The apparatus includes a urinal, a sensor, and a motivational device. The sensor is fixed within the urinal and is able to detect contact with urine, and the motivational device can be activated by the sensor. When activated by the sensor, the motivational device can produce an enjoyable stimulus that tends to reward a young male for using the urinal.

In preferred embodiments, at least one of the size and shape of the urinal is adapted for use by a young male.

In some preferred embodiments, the urinal is connectable to conventional plumbing, while in other preferred embodiments, the urinal can be used without being connected to plumbing.

In certain preferred embodiments, the sensor is able to detect contact with urine by detecting at least one of temperature, pressure, vibration, electrical conductivity, and sound.

In preferred embodiments, the enjoyable stimulus is a light that remains constant, a blinking light, a light that changes color, a visual image, an object that at least partly changes color, an object that moves, a sound that remains constant, an intermittent sound, a sound that varies in its characteristics, a sound that at least resembles human speech, and/or a sound suggestive of an environment that is likely to be recognized by a young male.

In certain preferred embodiments, the apparatus further includes a target object toward which a young male can direct a stream of urine. In some of these embodiments, the sensor is physically conjunct with the target object, such that the motivational device is activated when the target object is contacted by the urine. And in other of these embodiments, the enjoyable stimulus emanates from the target object.

In some preferred embodiments that include a target object, the target object is brightly colored, at least one portion of the target object changes color when contacted by the urine, and/or the target object is formed in a shape that is likely to be recognized by a young male. And in some of these preferred embodiments, the target object has an appearance that resembles a geometric shape, an animal, a person, a vehicle, or a celestial object. In certain preferred embodiments that include a target object, the motivation device, when activated, produces a sound that is related to the appearance of the target object.

In various preferred embodiments, the apparatus includes a plurality of sensors fixed within the urinal and able to detect contact with the urine. In some other preferred embodiments, the apparatus includes a plurality of motivational devices that, when activated, can produce enjoyable stimuli that tend to reward a young male for using the apparatus. And in still other preferred embodiments, the apparatus includes a plurality of target objects toward which a young male can direct a stream of urine.

Another general aspect of the invention is an apparatus for facilitating toilet training of young males. The apparatus includes a urinal, a plurality of motivational devices, and a plurality of target devices. The motivational devices are coordinate with the urinal, each motivational device, when activated, being able to produce an enjoyable stimulus that tends to reward a young male for using the urinal. The target devices are fixed within the urinal, each target device including a sensor that is able to detect contact with urine. The target devices are configured such that each target device activates at least one motivational device when contact with the urine is detected.

In some preferred embodiments of this general aspect, at least one of the target devices at least partly changes color when it makes contact with urine.

In other preferred embodiments of this general aspect, at least one of the target devices has a recognizable appearance, and a motivational device emits a sound that is related to the recognizable appearance of the target device when the target device makes contact with urine.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a preferred embodiment that does not require connection to plumbing, includes a single urine sensor, and includes a mechanical, cymbal-clapping monkey on top of the urinal as a motivational device that provides a visual and audible reward for correct usage of the urinal;

FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of a preferred embodiment that connects to plumbing and includes a single, combination target, sensor, and motivational device that is illuminated when it senses contact with urine; and

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of a preferred embodiment that includes a plurality of target objects with urine sensors and a plurality of motivational devices, including motivational devices that emit sounds related to the appearances of the target objects.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

With reference to FIG. 1, a urinal 100 for facilitating toilet training of young males is disclosed. The urinal 100 includes a sensor 102 located inside of the urination area, and a motivational device 104 activated by the sensor 102 that provides a visible and audible reward when the urinal 100 is successfully used. In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the motivational device is a mechanical monkey 104 located on top of the urinal. The monkey 104 provides both visible movement and a sound of rapidly clapping cymbals when the sensor detects contact with urine.

In similar embodiments, a plurality of sensors 102 is included, so as to detect the presence of urine anywhere within a desirable usage zone. In various embodiments, the sensor 102 detects contact with the urine by detecting one or more of temperature, pressure, vibration, changes in electrical conductivity, and sounds, among other modes of detection generally known in the art. Accordingly, in various embodiments the sensor 102 is a piezoelectric sensor, a pressure sensor, a water sensor, a fluid sensor, a strain gauge, or any other form of sensor known to those skilled in the art that can be configured to sense the presence of urine in the urinal 100.

As mentioned above, in the embodiment of FIG. 1 the motivational device is a mechanical monkey 104 located on top of the urinal. In other embodiments, the motivational device is a light that remains constant, a blinking light, a light that changes color, a visual image that appears or changes, an object that at least partly changes color, a device that emits a constant sound, a sound that varies in its characteristics, a sound that resembles human speech, and/or a sound suggestive of an animal or environment that is likely to be recognized by a young male.

In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the sensor 102 and the motivational device 104 are powered by electricity from batteries (not shown) stored in a battery compartment 106. Because space for large batteries, such as multiple “C” or “D” batteries, is provided within the urinal, sufficient electrical energy is available to generate powerful and highly rewarding stimuli.

In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the urinal 100 is self-contained, and does not require a connection to plumbing. Instead, the urinal 100 includes a removable urine storage compartment 110 that can be emptied and cleaned after use.

In the embodiment of FIG. 1, the urinal 100 is made of ceramic, plastic, and/or rubber, while in similar embodiments it is made from these and/or other materials generally known in the art.

FIG. 2 is a front view of a urinal 200 according to another preferred embodiment of the present invention. The urinal 200 of FIG. 2 includes a sensor 202 located at the center of a target 204 in the shape of a bull's-eye. The urinal 200 includes sound emitting devices 206 attached to the sides of the urinal 200. The target 204 is brightly colored, and includes multiple rings 208, 210, 212 that emit light alternately from the innermost ring 208 to the outermost ring 212 when the sensor 202 incorporated in the center of the target senses that the bulls-eye 220 of the target has been struck by urine. The sound emitting devices 206 are also activated by the sensor in the target, and provide stimulating sounds in synchronization with the illumination of the rings 214, 216, 218, when the bulls-eye 220 is hit by urine. In various embodiments, the sound emitting devices 206 are bells, speakers, buzzers, and/or other sound emitting devices known in the art.

In similar embodiments, the rings 208, 210, 212 of the target light up in different patterns, such as on a random basis, and/or in different colors, so as to further create interest and anticipation for a young male using the urinal. In other embodiments, the sensor causes the rings to illuminate whenever urine is detected anywhere on the target, and in some of these embodiments a separate sensor is associated with each ring, and the rings are illuminated more brightly or more rapidly according to how close the point of urine impact is to the center of the target. In various embodiments, the rings 208, 210, 212 are illuminated by single or multiple technologies that include one or more of Light Emitting Diodes (LED's), light bulbs, fluorescent lights, and other lighting technologies known in the art.

The urinal of FIG. 2 is connectable to plumbing, and includes a flushing mechanism 214 for removal of urine from the urinal 200. The sensor 202 and motivational devices 204, 206, 208, 210, 212 are powered by a power supply connected to a standard wall socket (not shown) by a power cord 216.

FIG. 3 is a front view of a urinal 300 according to a preferred embodiment that includes multiple targets 302, 304, 306, 308, 310 with images of animals displayed on the targets. The urinal 300 also includes speakers 312 embedded within the sides of the urinal 300 that emit animal sounds corresponding to the images on the targets 302, 304, 306, 308, 310 when sensors (not shown) in the targets 302, 304, 306, 308, 310 detect that the targets have been struck by urine. For example, when the target 302 that includes an image of a frog is struck by urine, the speakers 312 emit typical and easily recognized frog croaking sounds. Similarly, when the target 310 that includes an image of a cow is struck by urine, the speakers 312 emit mooing sounds. The targets 302, 304, 306, 308, 310 are configured to emit light, and to change color when impacted by urine, so as to allow a young boy using the urinal to identify which target was struck, and to associate the image on the target with the sound emitted by the speakers.

In similar embodiments, the targets include images of vehicles, people, or other recognizable objects, and the speakers emit engine sounds, human speech, and/or other corresponding sounds as appropriate.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3, the body of the urinal 300 is bright green in color, while similar embodiments include other colors and/or decorative patterns. The embodiment of FIG. 3 is attachable to plumbing, and includes a flushing mechanism 314 for flushing out urine, while similar embodiments are able to operate without connection to plumbing, such as the embodiment of FIG. 1. The sensors, the targets 302, 304, 306, 308, 310 and the sound emitting devices 312 are powered by electricity from a power supply attached by a power cord 316 to a standard wall socket (not shown).

In the embodiments of FIG. 1, FIG. 2, and FIG. 3, the urinal 300 is shaped and sized so as to be easily used by a young male.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that while various motivational devices discussed with respect to the embodiments described herein include lights, sound emitting devices, toys, and cymbals, among others, motivational devices are not limited to these examples, and can include other devices generally known in the art that provide enjoyable stimulus to young males and can be configured so as to be activated by a sensor.

Other modifications and implementations will occur to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and the scope of the invention as claimed. Accordingly, the above description is not intended to limit the invention except as indicated in the following claims.





 
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