Title:
Handheld apparatus for personal hygiene
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A handheld apparatus for personal hygiene is described. The apparatus includes a handle having a fluid supply inlet and a fluid supply outlet, and a tube coupled to the fluid supply outlet of the handle to enable the flow of a first fluid through a nozzle coupled to one end of the tube and the flow of a second fluid through an opening on the surface of the tube, wherein the handle enables the user to direct the flow of the fluids to the underside of the user's torso for proper cleansing.



Inventors:
Alba, Jose De (Hollister, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/995887
Publication Date:
02/02/2006
Filing Date:
11/22/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D9/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TUAN N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Jose De Alba (Hollister, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A handheld apparatus for cleansing the underside of a user's torso in connection with a toilet system having a toilet seat and a water tank, said apparatus comprising: a handle having a fluid supply inlet and a fluid supply outlet; and a tube coupled to said fluid supply outlet of said handle to enable the flow of a first fluid through a nozzle coupled to one end of said tube and the flow of a second fluid through an opening on the surface of said tube; said handle enabling said user to direct the flow of said first fluid to said underside of said user's torso.

2. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said handle is made out of plastic.

3. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said tube is made out of plastic.

4. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said fluid supply inlet of said handle is coupled to a flexible hose and wherein said flexible hose is further coupled to a water supply and heating device for generating the flow of said first and second fluids.

5. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said fluid supply inlet of said handle is coupled to a flexible hose and wherein said flexible hose is further coupled to said water tank.

6. The apparatus according to claim 4, wherein said flexible hose is coupled to said water supply and heating device through a water supply adaptor and pressure control device.

7. The apparatus according to claim 5, wherein said flexible hose is coupled to said water tank through a water supply adaptor and pressure control device.

8. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said handle is a pistol grip handle further comprising a plurality of successive concave regions to accommodate fingers of said user.

9. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said handle is a sphere.

10. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said handle has a rectangular shape.

11. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said nozzle is configured to accommodate a stream-type spraying pattern of said first fluid.

12. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said nozzle is configured to accommodate a shower-type spraying pattern of said first fluid.

13. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said nozzle is configured to accommodate a pulsing-type spraying pattern of said first fluid.

14. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said nozzle is configured to accommodate a plurality of spraying patterns of said first fluid.

15. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said tube further comprises a substantially horizontal section coupled to said fluid supply outlet for enabling said user to rest said apparatus on the rim of said toilet seat, a substantially vertical midsection configured to extend downwardly into the bowl of said toilet seat, and a hook-shaped end section coupled to said nozzle and pointing upwardly to the opening of said toilet seat.

16. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said handle further comprises at least one valve for enabling the user to control the flow of said first and second fluids through said tube.

17. The apparatus according to claim 16, wherein said at least one valve is spring-loaded.

18. The apparatus according to claim 16, wherein a first valve of said at least one valve controls the flow of said first fluid through a first inner tube residing within said tube, said first inner tube having one end coupled to a water supply and heating device for generating the flow of said first fluid through a flexible hose, and another end communicating with the exterior via said nozzle.

19. The apparatus according to claim 18, wherein a second valve of said at least one valve controls the flow of said second fluid through said tube and said opening and onto said nozzle.

20. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said first fluid is water.

21. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said second fluid is a disinfectant fluid for disinfecting said nozzle subsequent to said cleansing of said underside of said user's torso.

22. The apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said tube enables the flow of a third fluid through said nozzle.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This patent application is related and claims priority from U.S. Patent Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/592,486, filed on Jul. 30, 2004, and entitled “HANDHELD APPARATUS FOR PERSONAL HYGIENE,” which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates generally to the field of personal hygiene and, more particularly, to a handheld apparatus for cleansing parts of a person's body.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A bidet is a well-known apparatus for cleansing the underside of a person's torso. The bidet includes a basin wherein a nozzle provides an upward fountain of water. The person positions herself over the basin and turns on the water to cause the water to be directed to the underside of the torso, thus cleansing the appropriate part of the body.

Several attempts have been made to modify the well-known bidet to enable a user to have greater control over the cleansing operation. Since the bidet is a separate device and is typically mounted next to a standard toilet, several attempts have also been made to create a cleansing apparatus that would fit the standard toilet and would obviate the need for installation of a separate bidet. These attempts, however, describe devices connected with a bidet or a standard toilet, which appear to restrict user handling of the device and limit potential uses of the devices.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A handheld apparatus for personal hygiene is described. The apparatus includes a handle having a fluid supply inlet and a fluid supply outlet, and a tube coupled to the fluid supply outlet of the handle to enable the flow of a first fluid through a nozzle coupled to one end of the tube and the flow of a second fluid through an opening on the surface of the tube, wherein the handle enables the user to direct the flow of the fluids to the underside of the user's torso for proper cleansing.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a perspective view of a handheld apparatus for personal hygiene for use with a standard toilet system, according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 1B is a perspective view of a handheld apparatus for personal hygiene for use with a standard toilet system, according to an alternate embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the handheld apparatus, according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the handheld apparatus, according to an alternate embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the handheld apparatus, according to another alternate embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5 is a sectional view of the handheld apparatus, according to one embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 6 is a block diagram of a water supply and heating apparatus used with the handheld apparatus, according to one embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A handheld apparatus for personal hygiene is described. In the following description, for purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the invention. It will be evident, however, to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details.

FIG. 1A is a perspective view of a handheld apparatus for personal hygiene for use with a standard toilet system, according to one embodiment of the invention. As illustrated in FIG. 1A, in one embodiment, a handheld apparatus 101 is coupled to a water supply and heating device 103 through a flexible tube 102. The handheld apparatus 101 and the water supply and heating device 103 will be described in further detail below in connection with FIGS. 2-6.

In one embodiment, the apparatus 101 is used in conjunction with a standard toilet including a toilet seat 105 and a toilet water tank 104. The water supply and heating device 103 is mounted in close proximity to the standard toilet and is coupled to the toilet water tank 104 via a water supply adaptor and pressure control device 110, such as, for example, a T-shaped adaptor device 110. One or more fluids, such as, for example, water, air, and/or disinfectant fluid flow from the device 103 through the flexible tube 102 and through the apparatus 101 to enable the cleansing of the user's genital and anal body areas. A storage receptacle (not shown) may be mounted in close proximity to the toilet water tank 104 and the toilet seat 105 to enable the user to store the apparatus 101 within the storage receptacle when not in use.

In an alternate embodiment, the apparatus 101 may be used in other environments, such as, for example, for cleansing of patients in hospitals, or for cleansing of one's body areas in connection with a shower. In these exemplary environments, the apparatus 101 is coupled to the water supply and heating device 103, which resides in the vicinity of such environments, such as in the patients' rooms or in the vicinity of a shower.

FIG. 1B is a perspective view of a handheld apparatus for personal hygiene for use with a standard toilet system, according to an alternate embodiment of the invention. In the alternate embodiment, the apparatus 101 may be directly coupled to the toilet tank 104 via the flexible hose 102 and the pressure control device 110 such as, for example, a T-shaped adaptor device. A storage receptacle 112 is mounted in close proximity to the toilet water tank 104 and the toilet seat 105 and enables the user to store the apparatus 101 within the storage receptacle 112 when not in use.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the handheld apparatus 101, according to one embodiment of the invention. As illustrated in FIG. 2, the apparatus 101 includes a handle 210 coupled to a hollow tube 220, the tube 220 having a spray nozzle 230 at one end and an opening 231 situated on the surface of the tube 220. In one embodiment, the tube 220 is made out of plastic material. Alternatively, the tube 220 may be constructed out of any one of a number of known solid materials.

In one embodiment, the handle 210 is a pistol grip handle having a number of successive concave regions, of which regions 213, 214 are shown in FIG. 2, to accommodate the fingers of a user and to enable an ergonomic grip of the handle 210. The handle 210 further includes a fluid supply inlet 211 at one end, the fluid supply inlet 211 being coupled to the flexible hose 102 shown in FIG. 1, and a fluid supply outlet 212 coupled to the hollow tube 220. In one embodiment, the handle 210 is made out of plastic material. Alternatively, the handle 210 may be constructed out of any one of a number of known solid materials.

In one embodiment, the handle 210 further includes one or more valves 215, such as, for example, one or more spring-loaded valves, that enable the user to control the flow of the fluids through the tube 220, as described in further detail below. In one embodiment, the tube 220 has a substantially horizontal section 221 coupled to the supply outlet 212 of the handle 210 and configured to enable the user to rest the apparatus 101 on the rim of the toilet seat 105, a substantially vertical midsection 222 configured to extend downwardly into the bowl of the toilet seat 105, and a hook-shaped end section 223 coupled to the spray nozzle 230 and pointing upwardly to the opening of the toilet seat 105, which receives the underside of the user's torso, such as, for example, the genital and anal areas of the user.

The spray nozzle 230 is configured to accommodate various water pressures and optional water spraying patterns. For example, in one embodiment, the spray nozzle 230 accommodates a stream-type spraying pattern. Alternatively, the spray nozzle 230 may accommodate a shower-type spraying pattern. In another alternate embodiment, the spray nozzle 230 may accommodate a pulsing-type spraying pattern. In another alternate embodiment, the spray nozzle 230 is adaptable to perform multiple functions and enables the user to select among the multiple water spraying patterns. In yet another alternate embodiment, the spray nozzle 230 may be configured to include an optional air drying sprayer tip.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the handheld apparatus, according to an alternate embodiment of the invention. As illustrated in FIG. 3, in the alternate embodiment, the apparatus 301 includes a handle 310 having a spherical shape and containing the spring-loaded valves 315 positioned on the same circumferential area of the handle 310.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the handheld apparatus, according to another alternate embodiment of the invention. As illustrated in FIG. 4, in another alternate embodiment, the apparatus 401 includes a handle 410 having a rectangular shape.

FIG. 5 is a sectional view of the handheld apparatus, according to one embodiment of the invention. As illustrated in FIG. 5, in one embodiment, the handle 210 includes two spring-loaded valves, a first valve 215 and a second valve 216.

The valve 215 controls the flow of a first fluid through a first inner tube 225 residing within the hollow tube 220, such as, for example, the flow of water generated by the water supply and heating device 103. In one embodiment, one end of the first inner tube 225 is coupled to the water supply and heating device 103 through the flexible hose 102 and the other end communicates with the exterior via the spray nozzle 230. In an alternate embodiment, the first inner tube 225 is coupled to the water tank 104 through the flexible tube 102 and the pressure control device 110.

The valve 216 controls the flow of a separate second fluid such as, for example, the flow of a disinfectant fluid, from the same water supply and heating device 103. In one embodiment, the disinfectant fluid flows between the inner walls of the hollow tube 220 and the inner tube 225, such that the fluid exiting the tube 220 through the opening 231 is directed towards the spray nozzle 230, thus disinfecting the spray nozzle 230 after use.

In one embodiment, the handle 210 further includes an O-ring sealer 241 configured to prevent the water from leaking back into the hollow spaces between the inner walls of the hollow tube 220 and the inner tube 225 when valve 215 is activated and, alternatively, when valve 216 is activated.

In one embodiment, the apparatus 101 further includes a second O-ring sealer 242, located at the connection between the tube 220 and the spray nozzle 230, and configured to prevent water from leaking into the sprayer nozzle tip 230 when valve 216 is activated.

In an alternate embodiment, the apparatus 101 is configured to enable the user to control the flow of a third fluid, such as, for example warm or cold air or deodorant fluid, through the hollow tube 220, as described in further detail below.

In one embodiment, the user retrieves the apparatus 101 from the storage receptacle. The user manually inserts the tube 220 into the toilet seat 105 using the handle 210 and positions the tube 220 such that the spray nozzle 230 points upwardly towards the genital and anal areas of the user. The user presses the spring-loaded valve 215 and activates the flow of water through the inner tube 225 and the spray nozzle 230 to cleanse the exposed areas of the body. In one embodiment, the water supply and heating device 103 may heat the water to a predetermined temperature. Alternatively, the water may be provided at room temperature. The handle 210 enables the user to modify the angle of the tube 220 and the nozzle 230 and to allow movement of the apparatus 101, thus allowing thorough cleaning of the genital and anal areas of the user.

Subsequent to the cleansing operation, the user depresses the valve 215 and presses the valve 216 to activate the flow of water or disinfectant fluid through the hollow tube 220. The disinfectant fluid 226 flows through the opening 231 and onto the spray nozzle 230 to disinfect the nozzle 230 for subsequent use.

Subsequent to the disinfection operation, in one embodiment, the user depresses the valve 216 and activates the flow of air or other third fluid through the hollow tube 220 from the water supply and heating device 103. The air flows through the nozzle 230 and enables the user to dry the cleansed body areas. In one embodiment, the water supply and heating device 103 heats the air to a predetermined temperature and supplies the heated air to the apparatus 101. Alternatively, the air may be supplied at room temperature.

In one embodiment, subsequent to the above operations, the user may store the apparatus 101 in the storage receptacle 112 located in the vicinity of the toilet seat 105 and the water tank 104. Alternatively, the storage receptacle 112, such as, for example, a holster device, may be attached to the water tank 104 of the standard toilet, to the wall, or to the water supply and heating device 103.

FIG. 6 is a block diagram of a water supply and heating apparatus used with the handheld apparatus, according to one embodiment of the invention. As illustrated in FIG. 6, in one embodiment, the device 103 includes a heater tank 510 to allow controlled heating of the water fluid and to supply the warm water to the apparatus 101 via the first inner tube 225 and a blow dryer device 520 to allow controlled heating of the air fluid and to supply the warm air to the apparatus 101 via the flexible tube 102. The heater tank 510 and the blow dryer device 520 are well known in the art and coupled together through a switching device 530. The switching device 530 enables the user to activate and deactivate manually the flow of air or other third fluid to the apparatus 101. In one embodiment, the device 103 further includes a disinfectant fluid receptacle (not shown) to supply disinfectant fluid to the apparatus 101.

In the foregoing specification, the invention has been described with reference to specific exemplary embodiments thereof. It will, however, be evident that various modifications and changes may be made thereto without departing from the broader spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims. The specification and drawings are, accordingly, to be regarded in an illustrative sense rather than a restrictive sense.