Title:
Flush toilet unit
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed is a flush toilet unit, which is capable of measuring a urine volume with a high degree of accuracy without making a significant change to a conventional water-closet structure. The flush toilet unit (1) of the present invention comprises a bowl (12) for receiving urine of a user therein, a trap portion (15) fluidically connected to the bowl and adapted to guide a pooled water in the bowl to a sewer pipe and to form a water seal relative to the sewer pipe, pooled-water discharge means (34, 35) for lowering a pooled-water level in the bowl to a given water level which is below an overflow water level in the trap portion, water-level measurement means (46) for measuring a water-level variation between the lowered pooled-water level set by the pooled-water discharge means and a water level in the bowl after urination by the user, urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume of urine voided into the bowl by the user, in accordance with the water-level variation value measured by the water-level measurement means, and water supply means for supplying water into the bowl to return the pooled-water level in the bowl to the overflow water level.



Inventors:
Yamasaki, Hironori (Kitakyushu-shi, JP)
Inma, Yasushi (Kitakyushu-shi, JP)
Kanekuni, Nobuhiko (Kitakyushu-shi, JP)
Application Number:
11/313533
Publication Date:
05/11/2006
Filing Date:
12/20/2005
Assignee:
Toto Ltd. (Kitakyushu-shi, JP)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D11/00; E03D9/05; E03D11/08; G01F23/00; A61B10/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BAKER, LORI LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Brooks Kushman (Southfield, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A flush toilet unit comprising: a bowl for receiving urine of a user therein; a trap portion fluidically connected to said bowl, and adapted to guide a pooled water in said bowl to a sewer pipe and to form a water seal relative to said sewer pipe; pooled-water discharge means for lowering a pooled-water level in said bowl to a given water level which is below an overflow water level in said trap portion; water-level measurement means for measuring a water-level variation between said lowered pooled-water level set by said pooled-water discharge means and a water level in said bowl after urination by the user; urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume of urine voided into said bowl by the user, in accordance with the water-level variation value measured by said water-level measurement means; and water supply means for supplying water into said bowl to return the pooled-water level in said bowl to said overflow water level.

2. The flush toilet unit according to claim 1, wherein said pooled-water discharge means includes: a discharge passage for fluidically connecting a discharge port formed in said trap portion at a height equal to said given water level, to said sewer pipe or a sewer system; and a discharge valve interposed in said discharge passage.

3. The flush toilet unit according to claim 1, wherein said pooled-water discharge means includes syphon-phenomenon generation means for injecting water into said trap portion to generate a syphon phenomenon so as to discharge the pooled water from said bowl.

4. The flush toilet unit according to claim 1, wherein said pooled-water discharge means is designed to be activated in response to a manual operation by the user or in response to an automatic detection of the user when using said flush toilet unit.

5. The flush toilet unit according to claim 1, wherein said pooled-water discharge means is designed to be automatically activated in response to completion of one cycle of a urine-volume measuring operation, so as to make ready to perform a next cycle of the urine-volume measuring operation.

6. The flush toilet unit according to claim 1, which further comprises deodorization means for eliminating odor reversely flowing from said sewer pipe, wherein said pooled-water discharge means is operable to lower a pooled-water level in said bowl to a given water level which is below a water-seal water level in said trap portion.

7. The flush toilet unit according to claim 6, wherein said deodorization means is at least either one selected from the group consisting of a suction device for sucking air in said bowl, an air supply device for supplying air into said sewer pipe, and a water sending device for sending water into said sewer pipe.

8. The flush toilet unit according to claim 1, which further comprises alarm means for indicating to the user information that it is prohibited to put any object other than urine in said bowl at least during a period from initiation of water discharge by said pooled-water discharge means until said water supply means supplies water into said bowl to return the pooled-water level in said bowl to said overflow water level.

9. The flush toilet unit according to claim 1, which further comprises urine-flow-rate calculation means for calculating a urine flow rate in accordance with a water-level variation per unit time which is measured by said water-level measurement means.

10. The flush toilet unit according to claim 1, which further comprises urination-time calculation means for calculating a time-period of urination in accordance with a water-level variation per unit time which is measured by said water-level measurement means.

11. The flush toilet unit according to claim 1, which further comprises feces-voiding detection means for detecting voiding of feces by the user in accordance with a waveform of a temporal water-level variation which is measured by said water-level measurement means, said feces-voiding detection means being operable to detect the voiding of feces in accordance with a frequency component contained in said water-level variation waveform and/or an amplitude variation behavior in said water-level variation waveform.

12. The flush toilet unit according to claim 11, wherein said urine-volume calculation means is operable, when said feces-voiding detection means detects voiding of feces, to estimate a variation value of the pooled-water level to be caused by said voided feces, and correct the calculated urine volume in accordance with said estimated variation value.

13. The flush toilet unit according to claim 1, wherein said water supply means is operable, when said lowered pooled-water level set by said pooled-water discharge means is maintained in said bowl for a given time-period, to discontinue a urine-volume measuring operation and supply water into said bowl so as to raise the pooled-water level to said overflow water level.

14. The flush toilet unit according to claim 1, which further comprises a urine-sample collection device for collecting a part of urine voided by the user, wherein said urine-volume calculation means is operable to add a volume of said partial urine collected by said urine-sample collection device and a volume of the remaining urine voided into said bowl so as to calculate said volume of urine voided by the user.

15. A flush toilet unit comprising: a bowl for receiving urine of a user therein; a trap portion fluidically connected to said bowl, and adapted to guide a pooled water in said bowl to a sewer pipe and to form a water seal relative to said sewer pipe; pooled-water measurement means for measuring a pooled-water level in said bowl; a water-feed valve for feeding water into said bowl therethrough; control means for control said water-feed valve in such a manner that a pooled water in said bowl before initiation of an operation for measuring a volume of urine voided by the user is set at a given water level which is below an overflow water level in said trap portion and above a water-seal water level in said trap portion; and urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume of urine voided into said bowl by the user, in accordance with said given water level, and a water level in said bowl which is measured by said water-level measurement means after urination by the user.

16. The flush toilet unit according to claim 15, wherein said water-level measurement means includes a pressure sensor for detecting a pooled-water pressure in said bowl.

17. The flush toilet unit according to claim 15, wherein said control means is operable, after completion of an operation for flushing said bowl, to control said water-feed valve in accordance with the pooled-water level in said bowl which is measured by said water-level measurement means, so as to return the pooled-water level in said bowl to said given water level for a next cycle of the urine-volume measuring operation.

18. A flush toilet unit comprising: a bowl for receiving urine of a user therein; a trap portion fluidically connected to said bowl, and adapted to guide a pooled water in said bowl to a sewer pipe and to form a water seal relative to said sewer pipe; pooled-water measurement means for measuring a pooled-water level in said bowl; urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume or flow rate of urine voided by the user, in accordance with the water level measured by said water-level measurement means; constant-water charge/discharge means for charging a given volume of water into said bowl or discharging a given volume of water from said bowl; and correction means for correcting a calculated value from said urine-volume calculation means in accordance with a variation in water level which is caused by said water charge or discharge by said constant-water charge/discharge means.

19. The flush toilet unit according to claim 18, wherein said correction means stores a water-level variation curve representing a relationship between a volume and a level of pooled water in said bowl, said correction means being operable to calculate a pooled-water level in said bowl before urination by the user, in accordance with said water-level variation curve and a difference between a first water level and a second water level which are measured by said water-level measurement means, respectively, before and after charge of said given volume of water by said constant-water charge/discharge means, and then correct a calculated value from said urine-volume calculation means, in accordance with said calculated water level.

20. The flush toilet unit according to claim 18, wherein said correction means stores a water-level variation curve representing a relationship between a volume and a level of pooled water in said bowl, said correction means being operable to calculate a pooled-water level in said bowl before urination by the user, in accordance with said water-level variation curve and a difference between an overflow water level and a second water level which are measured by said water-level measurement means, respectively, before and after discharge of said given volume of water by said constant-water charge/discharge means, and then correct a calculated value from said urine-volume calculation means, in accordance with said calculated water level.

21. A flush toilet unit comprising: a bowl for receiving urine of a user therein; a trap portion fluidically connected to said bowl, and adapted to guide a pooled water in said bowl to a sewer pipe and to form a water seal relative to said sewer pipe; a discharge conduit extending from an inlet port provided in said ball or said trap portion at a position below an overflow water level therein, to an outlet port located at a given height above said inlet port and below said overflow water level; a water-level setting valve adapted to be selectively opened or closed so as to enable or preclude fluid communication between said inlet and outlet ports of said discharge conduit; water-level measurement means for measuring a water-level variation between a pooled-water level in said bowl which is set at said given height by opening said water-level setting valve, and a water level in said bowl after urination by the user in the state after said water-level setting valve is closed; and urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume of urine voided into said bowl by the user, in accordance with the water-level variation value measured by said water-level measurement means.

22. The flush toilet unit according to claim 21, which further comprises syphon-phenomenon generation means for injecting water into said trap portion to generate a syphon phenomenon so as to discharge the pooled water from said bowl, wherein said water-level setting valve is operable to be opened after a pooled-water level in said bowl is lowered by said syphon-phenomenon generation means, so as to set the pooled-water level in said bowl to said given height.

23. The flush toilet unit according to claim 22, which further comprises water supply means adapted to supply water into said bowl so as to raise a pooled-water level in said bowl, wherein said water supply means and said water-level setting valve are operable, after a pooled-water level in said bowl is lowered by said syphon-phenomenon generation means, to supply water into said bowl and to be opened, respectively, so as to set the pooled-water level in said bowl to said given height.

24. The flush toilet unit according to claim 21, wherein said water-level measurement means includes a pressure conduit fluidically connected to said bowl, and a pressure sensor associated with said pressure conduit, wherein a portion or whole of said discharge conduit additionally serves as said pressure conduit, whereby the water in said bowl is discharged through said pressure conduit.

25. The flush toilet unit according to claim 21, wherein said urine-volume calculation means is operable to calibrate said water-level measurement means in a state when a pooled-water level in said bowl is set at said given height or said overflow water level.

26. A flush toilet unit comprising: a bowl for receiving urine of a user therein; a trap portion fluidically connected to said bowl, and adapted to guide a pooled water in said bowl to a sewer pipe and to form a water seal relative to said sewer pipe; pooled-water discharge means for discharging said pooled water from said bowl; a pooling-water tank for storing a given volume of water to be supplied to said bowl in the state after said pooled water is discharged by said pooled-water discharge means; water-level measurement means for measuring a water-level variation between a pooled-water level in said bowl after said given volume of water is supplied from said pooling-water tank to said bowl, and a water level in said bowl after urination by the user; and urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume of urine voided into said bowl by the user, in accordance with the water-level variation value measured by said water-level measurement means.

27. The flush toilet unit according to claim 26, wherein said pooled-water discharge means includes syphon-phenomenon generation means for injecting water into said trap portion to generate a syphon phenomenon so as to discharge the pooled water from said bowl.

28. The flush toilet unit according to claim 26, which further comprises forced supply means for forcedly supplying the water stored in said pooling-water tank, into said bowl.

29. The flush toilet unit according to claim 26, which further comprises water-feed means operable to feeding water to said pooling-water tank in such a manner as to spill an excess part of said fed water out of said pooling-water tank to regulate a volume of water to be stored in said pooling-water tank.

30. The flush toilet unit according to claim 26, which further comprises a sewer-pipe pressure sensor for detecting an internal pressure of said sewer pipe, and water supply means operable, when a given value or more of pressure fluctuation is detected by said sewer-pipe pressure sensor, to supply water into said bowl so as to raise a pooled-water level in said bowl.

31. A flush toilet unit comprising: a bowl for receiving urine of a user therein; a trap portion fluidically connected to said bowl, and adapted to guide a pooled water in said bowl to a sewer pipe and to form a water seal relative to said sewer pipe; water-level measurement means for measuring a pooled-water level in said bowl; a water-feed valve having an outlet port fluidically connected to a water-feed port for feeding water into said bowl therethrough and an inlet port fluidically connected to a supply source of water to be fed to said bowl, said water-feed valve being designed to be selectively opened and closed, respectively, to enable and preclude fluid communication between said outlet and inlet ports; a feed-water trap pipe having a first end fluidically connected to said inlet port and a second, opposite, end fluidically connected to said sewer pipe, said feed-water trap pipe being designed to be precluded from having fluid communication between said first and second ends when said water-feed valve is opened, and to release water supplied from said water supply source to said sewer pipe when said water-feed valve is closed; control means for controlling said water-feed valve in such a manner that a pooled water in said bowl is set at a given water level; and urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume of urine voided into said bowl by the user, in accordance with said given water level, and a water level in said bowl which is measured by said water-level measurement means after urination by the user.

32. The flush toilet unit according to claim 31, wherein said control means is operable to control said water-feed valve in accordance with the water level in said bowl which is measured by said water-level measurement means.

33. The flush toilet unit according to claim 31, which further comprises a sanitary washing device, wherein said control means is operable to adjust the water level in said bowl using water discharged from said sanitary washing device into said bowl.

34. The flush toilet unit according to claim 31, which further comprises constant-pressure means having a pressure head maintained at a constant value, wherein said water-level measurement means includes a pressure sensor for detecting a pooled-water pressure in said bowl, said pressure sensor being designed to be calibrated through fluid communication with said constant-pressure means.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a flush toilet unit, and more particularly to a flush toilet unit capable of measuring a volume of voided urine and/or biological information related to the urine volume.

BACKGROUND ART

Biological information to be obtained from urine is valuable in the medical fields, particularly in the fields of preventive medical care and therapeutic management. While a urine sample has heretofore been collected using a collecting vessel, such as a urine collection cup, this conventional technique lacks consideration to comfort for patients required for offering their urine samples. Thus, there is the need for providing a technique for allowing a volume of voided urine and/or biological information related to the urine volume to be measured through urination at a lavatory in a usual manner. Further, there is the need for providing a flush toilet unit suitable for measuring an index necessary not only for preventive medical care, but also for disease management.

Japanese Patent Laid-Open Publication No. 07-301629 (Patent Publication 1) discloses a flush toilet designed to collect all voided urine by use of a saucer-shaped urine receiving vessel attached to an upper potion of a bowl, so as to measure a volume of the urine. This flush toilet has a problem about increase in cost due to the need for using a dedicated bowl largely changed in structure from an existing bowl only for the function of measuring a urine volume.

Japanese Patent Laid-Open Publication No. 09-119859 (Patent Publication 2) discloses a flush toilet designed to interpose a weight sensor between a bowl and a seat so as to calculate a urine volume in accordance with a difference in body weight before and after urination. While this flush toilet allows for using an existing bowl without any change, it has a problem about difficulty in measuring a urine volume with a desired accuracy, because a surface accuracy of a bowl rim has an impact on an accuracy of the measurement, and it is practically impossible for industrially produced ceramic bowls to ensure their surface accuracy at a desired level.

Japanese Patent Laid-Open Publication Nos. 10-037284 (Patent Publication 3) and 2002-339432 (Patent Publication 4) disclose an urinal designed to be equipped with a pressure sensor or a water level sensor fluidically connected to a trap portion, and to estimate a urine volume in accordance with a variation value detected by the sensor. While this flush toilet can achieve a function of measuring a urine volume without making a significant change to an existing bowl, it has a problem about fluctuation in measurement accuracy depending on the level of urine flow rate (urine flow velocity), i.e. a flow volume of urine per unit time, due to the need for a process of estimating a behavior related to urine flow over the trap portion. Moreover, depending on the state of a sewer line, drainage in another plumbing device is likely to cause fluctuation in level of trapped water in the trap portion due to a pressure fluctuation occurring in the trap portion of the urinal. This leads to measurement errors in some cases.

Japanese Patent Laid-Open Publication No. 10-082783 (Patent Publication 5) discloses a flush toilet designed to allow urine voided into a trap portion of a bowl to be sucked into a tank of a measurement unit so as to measure a volume of the urine. While this flush toilet makes it possible to measure a variation in level of the trapped water in the trap portion after suction using a pump so as to determine a urine flow rate (urine flow velocity) in addition to a urine volume, sewage contained in the trapped water is inevitably sucked into the measurement unit. This causes a problem in terms of operational reliability of the measurement unit, such as occurrence of clogging in the measurement unit due to the suction of the sewage, or occurrence of corrosion in the measurement unit due to the suction of the trapped water containing salt.

Japanese Patent Laid-Open Publication No. 2002-186601 (Patent Publication 6) discloses a method of measuring a volume of voided urine as a temporal variation in weight so as to determine a urine volume and a urine flow rate (urine flow velocity). In this method, a urine collection for measurement of a urine volume and a urine volume-related index has to be carried out in a medical examination room instead of a lavatory. This imposes a psychological burden on a patient, particularly a female patient, having a urologic disease, and a medical staff is apt to hang back about repeating the measurement plural times.

Japanese Patent Laid-Open Publication No. 08-299348 (Patent Publication 7) discloses a flush toilet designed such that a trap portion is deformed before measurement to ensure a volume for receiving urine, and then urine is collected in a bowl itself to measure a variation in weight or level of trapped water in the trap portion so as to calculate a urine volume. In this flush toilet, the trap portion for trapping urine is required to be vertically moved so as to lower an overflow water level before the urine volume measurement. The mechanism for vertically moving the trap portion involves a problem about the risk of water leakage therefrom and difficulty in maintain long-term reliability thereof Moreover, in the technique of calculating a urine volume in accordance with a measurement result of a level of tapped water in the trap portion, a cross section of the trap portion is required to be uniform. Thus, a new design for such a cross-sectionally uniform trap portion different from that of an existing flush toilet will cause a problem about difficulty in obtaining a trap portion with high operational reliability.

Japanese Patent Laid-Open Publication No. 07-259166 (Patent Publication 8) discloses a flush toilet which has a urine-volume measuring function adapted to receive voided urine using a vessel so as to measure a volume of the urine. This flush toilet has a problem about difficulty in collecting all of the voided urine in the urine collection vessel or in performing a urine volume measurement with desired accuracy, due to individual difference in direction of urinary stream, particularly observed in women.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

As described above, the previously proposed systems for measuring a urine volume or a urine flow rate involve various problems. Moreover, the aforementioned conventional urine-volume measuring systems have a problem about insufficient operational reliability due to properties of urine as a measurement target. That is, urine containing a large amount of electrolyte, such as sodium chloride, is liable to corrode measuring-elements/devices made of metal and consequently cause a negative effect on functions of the measuring-elements/devices. Further, the flush toilet disclosed in the Japanese Patent Laid-Open Publication No. 08-299348 has a problem about poor user-friendliness, because it is required to take a long time for preparation of a urine-volume measuring operation, and a user is obliged to hold his/her urine until initiation of the measurement.

In view of the above problems, it is an object of the present invention to provide a flush toilet unit capable of easily learning a volume of voided urine and an index related to the urine volume with high reliability simply by urinating in a lavatory in a usual manner.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a flush toilet unit having a urine-volume measuring function capable of reducing a time lag due to a preparatory period for measurement to provide enhanced user-friendliness during urination, and achieving a low measurement cost per cycle and high-accuracy urine-volume estimation.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a flush toilet unit having a high-accuracy urine-volume measuring function, without making a significant change to a conventional water-closet structure which has already established high reliability in drainage function.

In order to achieve the above objects, according to a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a flush toilet unit which comprises a bowl for receiving urine of a user therein, a trap portion fluidically connected to the bowl and adapted to guide a pooled water in the bowl to a sewer pipe and to form a water seal relative to the sewer pipe, pooled-water discharge means for lowering a pooled-water level in the bowl to a given water level which is below an overflow water level in the trap portion, water-level measurement means for measuring a water-level variation between the lowered pooled-water level set by the pooled-water discharge means and a water level in the bowl after urination by the user, urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume of urine voided into the bowl by the user in accordance with the water-level variation value measured by the water-level measurement means, and water supply means for supplying water into the bowl to return the pooled-water level in the bowl to the overflow water level.

In the water closer having the above feature, the pooled-water discharge means is operable to discharge at least a part of pooled water retained in the bowl from the bowl to lower a pooled-water level in the bowl. The user then voids urine into the bowl having the lowered pooled-water level. The pooled-water level in the bowl has been already lowered below the overflow water level before the urination by the user, and therefore the pooled water or the voided urine never flows out through the trap portion during the urination. The water-level measurement means is operable to measure the lowered pooled-water level set by the pooled-water discharge means before the urination and a water level in the bowl after urination by the user. Then, the urine-volume calculation means is operable to calculate a volume of urine voided by the user in accordance with the respective water levels in the bowl before and after the urination by the user. The water supply means is operable, when the urine-volume measuring operation is completed, to supply water into the bowl so as to return the pooled-water level in the bowl to the overflow water level and reliably form a water seal relative to the sewer pipe.

Thus, the flush toilet unit having the above feature can perform the urine-volume measuring operation without making a significant change to a conventional flush toilet structure. In addition, this flush toilet unit can prevent the voided urine from mixing in pooled water to be discharged by the pooled-water discharge means. This makes it possible to suppress occurrence of malfunctions due to contact with urine so as to provide enhanced reliability in the flush toilet unit.

In the flush toilet unit according to the first aspect of the present invention, it is preferable that the pooled-water discharge means includes a discharge passage for fluidically connecting a discharge port formed in the trap portion at a height equal to the given water level, to the sewer pipe or a sewer system, and a discharge valve interposed in the discharge passage.

In the flush toilet unit having this feature, in response to opening the discharge valve, at least a part of pooled water in the bowl is discharged through the discharge passage until the pooled-water level becomes equal to the height of the discharge port.

Thus, in the flush toilet unit having this feature, a pooled-water level before initiation of the urine-volume measuring operation can be accurately set by the height of the discharge port formed in the trap portion. This makes it possible to provide enhanced urine-volume measurement accuracy.

In the flush toilet unit according to the first aspect of the present invention, it is preferable that the pooled-water discharge means consists of syphon-phenomenon generation means for injecting water into the trap portion to generate a syphon phenomenon so as to discharge the pooled water from the bowl.

In the flush toilet unit having this feature, at least a part of pooled water in the bowl is discharged from the trap portion by means of a syphon phenomenon induced by the syphon-phenomenon generation means.

Thus, in the flush toilet unit having this feature, a reliable water discharge nozzle, such as a water jet nozzle which has been incorporated in conventional flush toilets, can be additionally used for serving as the pooled-water discharge means. This makes it possible to ensure reliability of the flush toilet unit.

In the flush toilet unit according to the first aspect of the present invention, it is preferable that the pooled-water discharge means is designed to be activated in response to a manual operation by the user or in response to an automatic detection of the user when using the flush toilet unit.

Thus, in the flush toilet unit having this feature, in response to a manual operation by the user or in response to an automatic detection of the user, the pooled-water discharge means can be activated to lower a pooled-water level in the bowl to the given water level.

In the flush toilet unit according to the first aspect of the present invention, it is preferable that the pooled-water discharge means is designed to be automatically activated in response to completion of one cycle of a urine-volume measuring operation, so as to make ready to perform a next cycle of the urine-volume measuring operation.

In the flush toilet unit having this feature, just after completion of one cycle of the urine-volume measuring operation, the pooled-water discharge means is automatically activated to lower a pooled-water level in the bowl to the given water level so as to make ready to perform a next cycle of the urine-volume measuring operation.

Thus, the flush toilet unit having this feature can reduce a make-ready or preparation time during which a user of the flush toilet unit is obliged to hold his/her urine before initiation of the urine-volume measuring operation.

Preferably, the flush toilet unit according to the first aspect of the present invention further comprises deodorization means for eliminating odor reversely flowing from the sewer pipe, wherein the pooled-water discharge means is operable to lower a pooled-water level in the bowl to a given water level which is below a water-seal water level in the trap portion.

In the flush toilet unit having this feature, the pooled-water discharge means is operable to lower a pooled-water level in the bowl to a water level at which the water seal is not formed in the trap portion, and resulting odor reversely flowing from the sewer pipe is deodorized by the deodorization means.

Thus, the flush toilet unit having this feature can increase a measurable maximum urine volume. Further, in this case, the urine-volume measuring operation will be performed by using a lower portion of the bowl having a relatively small sectional area. That is, a variation in the pooled-water level per unit voided urine volume is increased. This makes it possible to provide enhanced measurement accuracy, particularly when a relatively small volume of voided urine is measured.

In the above flush toilet unit, it is preferable that the deodorization means is at least either one selected from the group consisting of a suction device for sucking air in the bowl, an air supply device for supplying air into the sewer pipe, and a water sending device for sending water into the sewer pipe.

The flush toilet unit having this feature can maintain its fundamental functions or usability while effectively eliminating adverse affects of odor reversely flowing from the sewer pipe.

Preferably, the flush toilet unit according to the first aspect of the present invention further comprises alarm means for indicating to the user information that it is prohibited to put any object other than urine in the bowl at least during a period from initiation of water discharge by the pooled-water discharge means until the water supply means supplies water into the bowl to return the pooled-water level in the bowl to the overflow water level.

The flush toilet unit having this feature can inform the user of cautions about the urine-volume measuring operation, so as to prevent occurrence of malfunctions in functional elements/devices for the urine-volume measuring operation due to excretory substances getting therein. This also makes it possible to avoid occurrence of a measurement error due to an object other than urine, such as toilet paper, which is erroneously put in the pooled water.

Preferably, the flush toilet unit according to the first aspect of the present invention further comprises urine-flow-rate calculation means for calculating a urine flow rate in accordance with a water-level variation per unit time which is measured by the water-level measurement means.

The flush toilet unit having this feature can measure a urine flow rate which is an index of urologic diseases typified by prostatic hypertrophy, through urination at a lavatory in a usual manner. In addition, this measurement executable at a lavatory or in a personal space allows the user to repeatedly undergo it without sense of shame. Thus, through periodical checks of therapeutic effects, a therapeutic or disease management can be performed with high reliability. Further, the measurement can be performed just after the user feels a desire to urinate. This makes it possible to obtain measurement data under ordinary conditions.

Preferably, the flush toilet unit according to the first aspect of the present invention further comprises urination-time calculation means for calculating a time-period of urination in accordance with a water-level variation per unit time which is measured by the water-level measurement means.

The flush toilet unit having this feature can measure a urination-time which is an index of urologic diseases typified by prostatic hypertrophy, through urination at a lavatory in a usual manner. In addition, this measurement executable at a lavatory or in a personal space allows the user to repeatedly undergo it without sense of shame. Thus, through continuous checks of therapeutic effects, a therapeutic or disease management can be performed with high reliability.

Preferably, the flush toilet unit according to the first aspect of the present invention further comprises feces-voiding detection means for detecting voiding of feces by the user in accordance with a waveform of a temporal water-level variation which is measured by the water-level measurement means. The feces-voiding detection means is operable to detect the voiding of feces in accordance with a frequency component contained in the water-level variation waveform and/or an amplitude variation behavior in the water-level variation waveform.

The flush toilet unit having this feature can detect the voiding of feces causing an error in a measured urine volume. Further, the detection result may be indicated and informed to the user and/or a medical staff to promote awareness about a possibility that measurement data includes an error. This makes it possible to prevent occurrence of an erroneous medical judgment.

In the above flush toilet unit, it is preferable that the urine-volume calculation means is operable, when the feces-voiding detection means detects voiding of feces, to estimate a variation value of the pooled-water level to be caused by the voided feces, and correct the calculated urine volume in accordance with the estimated variation value.

Even if the user erroneously voids feces during the urine-volume measuring operation, the flush toilet unit having this feature can prevent the sum of a voided-urine volume and a voided-feces volume from being output as a measured value. In addition, this makes it possible to reduce the risk of cutting down the number of times of measurements due to voiding of feces, so as to allow the measurement to be periodically performed on a long-term basis without partial absence of data.

In the flush toilet unit according to the first aspect of the present invention, it is preferable that the water supply means is operable, when the lowered pooled-water level set by the pooled-water discharge means is maintained in the bowl for a given time-period, to discontinue a urine-volume measuring operation and supply water into the bowl so as to raise the pooled-water level to the overflow water level.

When the lowered pooled-water level set by the pooled-water discharge means is maintained in the bowl for a given time-period, for example, when the user discontinues having the measurement on the way or without urination, the flush toilet unit having this feature can return the pooled-water level to the overflow water level. This makes it possible to avoid adverse affects of continuation of the lowered pooled-water level, such as deterioration in usability of the flush toilet unit, or to eliminate the need for continuously activating deodorization means for eliminating odor reversely flowing from the sewer pipe.

Preferably, the flush toilet unit according to the first aspect of the present invention further comprises a urine-sample collection device for directly collecting a part of urine voided by the user, wherein the urine-volume calculation means is operable to add a volume of the partial urine collected by the urine-sample collection device and a volume of the remaining urine voided into the bowl so as to calculate the volume of urine voided by the user.

The flush toilet unit having this feature can perform both a measurement about an urination state, and quantitative and/or qualitative measurements of a specific component contained in the voided urine.

According to a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a flush toilet unit which comprises: a bowl for receiving urine of a user therein; a trap portion fluidically connected to the bowl, and adapted to guide a pooled water in the bowl to a sewer pipe and to form a water seal relative to the sewer pipe; pooled-water measurement means for measuring a pooled-water level in the bowl; a water-feed valve for feeding water into the bowl therethrough; control means for control the water-feed valve in such a manner that a pooled water in the bowl before initiation of an operation for measuring a volume of urine voided by the user is set at a given water level which is below an overflow water level in the trap portion and above a water-seal water level in the trap portion; and urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume of urine voided into the bowl by the user, in accordance with the given water level, and a water level in the bowl which is measured by the water-level measurement means after urination by the user.

In the flush toilet unit having the above feature, the control means is operable to instruct the water-feed valve to feed water to the bowl in such a manner that pooled water in the bowl is set at a given water level which is below the overflow water level and above the water-seal water level in the trap portion. The user then voids urine into the bowl having the lowered pooled-water level. The pooled-water in the bowl has been already set at the given water level below the overflow water level before the urination by the user, and therefore the pooled water or the voided urine never flows out through the trap portion during urination. The water-level measurement means is operable to measure respective water levels before and after urination by the user. Then, the urine-volume calculation means is operable to calculate a volume of urine voided by the user in accordance with the respective water levels in the bowl before and after the urination.

Thus, the flush toilet unit having the above feature can perform the urine-volume measuring operation in a state when the voided urine containing a large amount of electrolyte, such as sodium chloride, is in the bowl. This makes it possible to prevent adverse effects of the voided urine on function of each element/device for use in the urine-volume measuring operation. In addition, the pooled water in the bowl is pre-set at the given water level. This makes it possible to eliminate the need for discharging at least a part of pooled water from the bowl for the purpose of preparation for the urine-volume measuring operation, so as to reduce a measurement cost per cycle. Further, the reduced time for preparation of the urine-volume measuring operation allows a user to be released from obligation of holding his/her urine for a long time.

In the flush toilet unit according to the second aspect of the present invention, it is preferable to the water-level measurement means includes a pressure sensor for detecting a pooled-water pressure in the bowl.

The flush toilet unit having this feature can perform the urine-volume measuring operation in the state when the voided urine is in the bowl. This makes it possible to prevent adverse effects of the voided urine on function of each element/device for use in the urine-volume measuring operation, so as to provide enhanced functional reliability.

In the flush toilet unit according to the second aspect of the present invention, it is preferable that the control means is operable, after completion of an operation for flushing the bowl, to control the water-feed valve in accordance with the pooled-water level in the bowl which is measured by the water-level measurement means, so as to return the pooled-water level in the bowl to the given water level for a next cycle of the urine-volume measuring operation.

In the flush toilet unit having this feature, the water-feed valve is controlled to feed water to the bowl in accordance with the pooled-water level in the bowl which is measured by the water-level measurement means, so as to return the pooled-water level in the bowl to the given water level.

Thus, the flush toilet unit having this feature can accurately set the pooled water at the given water level required for initiating the urine-volume measuring operation, to perform the urine-volume measuring operation with a high-degree of accuracy.

According to a third aspect of the present invention, there is provided a flush toilet unit which comprises: a bowl for receiving urine of a user therein; a trap portion fluidically connected to the bowl, and adapted to guide a pooled water in the bowl to a sewer pipe and to form a water seal relative to the sewer pipe; pooled-water measurement means for measuring a pooled-water level in the bowl; urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume or flow rate of urine voided by the user, in accordance with the water level measured by the water-level measurement means; constant-water charge/discharge means for charging a given volume of water into the bowl or discharging a given volume of water from the bowl; and correction means for correcting a calculated value from the urine-volume calculation means in accordance with a variation in water level which is caused by the water charge or discharge by the constant-water charge/discharge means.

In the flush toilet unit having the above feature, the constant-water charge/discharge means is operable to charge a given volume of water into the bowl or discharge a given volume of water from the bowl. A water-level variation in the bowl during the water charge or discharge is measured and stored. Then, the pooled-water measurement means is operable to measure a pooled-water level after urination by the user, and the urine-volume calculation means is operable to calculate a volume of urine voided by the user, in accordance with respective water levels in the bowl before and after the urination by the user. The correction means is operable to correct the calculated urine volume from the urine-volume calculation means in accordance with the pre-stored water-level variation before and after the charge or discharge of the constant volume of water.

Thus, the flush toilet unit having this feature can correct the calculated urine-volume value from the urine-volume calculation means in accordance with the water-level variation cased when the constant volume of water is charged into or discharged from the bowl. This makes it possible to accurately perform the urine-volume measuring operation even if a water level in the bowl before the urine-volume measuring operation is not accurately set or a measured value from the water-level measurement means includes an error.

In the flush toilet unit according to the third aspect of the present invention, it is preferable that the correction means stores a water-level variation curve representing a relationship between a volume and a level of pooled water in the bowl, and the correction means is operable to calculate a pooled-water level in the bowl before urination by the user, in accordance with the water-level variation curve and a difference between a first water level and a second water level which are measured by the water-level measurement means, respectively, before and after charge of the given volume of water by the constant-water charge/discharge means, and then correct a calculated value from the urine-volume calculation means, in accordance with the calculated water level.

In the flush toilet unit having this feature, the correction means pre-stores the water-level variation curve representing a relationship between a volume and a level of pooled water in the bowl. Further, the correction means is operable to calculate a pooled-water level before urination by the user, in accordance with the pre-stored water-level variation curve and a difference between respective water levels before and after the constant-water charge/discharge means charges the given volume of water.

Thus, in the flush toilet unit having this feature, a pooled-water level is calculated based on the water-level difference measured by the water-level measurement means. This makes it possible to accurately perform the urine-volume measuring operation even if a measured value from the water-level measurement means includes an error, such as offset error.

In the flush toilet unit according to the third aspect of the present invention, it is preferable that the correction means stores a water-level variation curve representing a relationship between a volume and a pooled-water level in the bowl, and the correction means is operable to calculate a pooled-water level in the bowl before urination by the user, in accordance with the water-level variation curve and a difference between an overflow water level and a second water level which are measured by the water-level measurement means, respectively, before and after discharge of the given volume of water by the constant-water charge/discharge means, and then correct a calculated value from the urine-volume calculation means, in accordance with the calculated water level.

In the flush toilet unit having this feature, the correction means pre-stores the water-level variation curve representing a relationship between a volume and a pooled-water level in the bowl. Further, the correction means is operable to calculate a pooled-water level before urination by the user, in accordance with the pre-stored water-level variation curve and a difference between the overflow water level and the water level after the constant-water charge/discharge means discharges the given volume of water.

Thus, in the flush toilet unit having this feature, a pooled-water level is calculated based on the water-level difference measured by the water-level measurement means. This makes it possible to accurately perform the urine-volume measuring operation even if a measured value from the water-level measurement means includes an error, such as offset error.

According to a fourth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a flush toilet unit comprising: a bowl for receiving urine of a user therein; a trap portion fluidically connected to the bowl, and adapted to guide a pooled water in the bowl to a sewer pipe and to form a water seal relative to the sewer pipe; a discharge conduit extending from an inlet port provided in the ball or the trap portion at a position below an overflow water level therein, to an outlet port located at a given height above the inlet port and below the overflow water level; a water-level setting valve adapted to be selectively opened or closed so as to enable or preclude fluid communication between the inlet and outlet ports of the discharge conduit; water-level measurement means for measuring a water-level variation between a pooled-water level in the bowl which is set at the given height by opening the water-level setting valve, and a water level in the bowl after urination by the user in the state after the water-level setting valve is closed; and urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume of urine voided into the bowl by the user, in accordance with the water-level variation value measured by the water-level measurement means.

In the flush toilet unit having this feature, the water-level setting valve is opened to discharge a part of pooled water in the bowl from the inlet port to the outlet port through the discharge conduit. Thus, a pooled-water level in the bowl is lowered to the given height where the outlet port is located. After the water-level setting valve is closed, the user voids urine into the bowl having the lowered pooled-water level. The pooled-water level in the bowl has been already lowered below the overflow water level before the urination by the user, and therefore the pooled water or the voided urine never flows out through the trap portion during the urination. The water-level measurement means is operable to measure a water level set by the water-level setting valve before the urination by the user, and a water level after the urination. The urine-volume calculation means is operable to calculate a volume of urine voided by the user, in accordance with the respective the water levels in the bowl before and after the urination by the user.

Thus, in the flush toilet unit having this feature, a pooled-water level before initiation of the urine-volume measuring operation can be accurately set by the height where the outlet port is located. This makes it possible to provide enhanced urine-volume measurement accuracy.

Preferably, the flush toilet unit according to the fourth aspect of the present invention further comprises syphon-phenomenon generation means for injecting water into the trap portion to generate a syphon phenomenon so as to discharge the pooled water from the bowl, and the water-level setting valve is operable to be opened after a pooled-water level in the bowl is lowered by the syphon-phenomenon generation means, so as to set the pooled-water level in the bowl to the given height.

Thus, in the flush toilet unit having this feature, a pooled-water level in the bowl is lowered to some extent by the syphon-phenomenon generation means, and then the water-level setting valve is opened to set the pooled-water level to the given height. This makes it possible to reduce a time-period required for the water-level setting operation.

Preferably, the above flush toilet unit further comprises water supply means adapted to supply water into the bowl so as to raise a pooled-water level in the bowl, wherein the water supply means and the water-level setting valve are operable, after a pooled-water level in the bowl is lowered by the syphon-phenomenon generation means, to supply water into the bowl and to be opened, respectively, so as to set the pooled-water level in the bowl to the given height.

Thus, in the flush toilet unit having this feature, a pooled-water level in the bowl is lowered by the syphon-phenomenon generation means. Then, the pooled-water level is accurately set at the given height by supplying water into the bowl through the water supply means and opening the water-level setting valve. This makes it possible to reduce a time-period required for the water-level setting operation.

In the flush toilet unit according to the fourth aspect of the present invention, it is preferable that the water-level measurement means includes a pressure conduit fluidically connected to the bowl, and a pressure sensor associated with the pressure conduit, wherein a portion or whole of the discharge conduit additionally serves as the pressure conduit, whereby the water in the bowl is discharged through the pressure conduit.

In the flush toilet unit having this feature, a water pressure in the bowl which is transmitted by the pressure conduit is measured using the pressure sensor to determine a water level in the bowl. This pressure conduit also serves as a portion or whole of the discharge conduit.

Thus, in the flush toilet unit having this feature, the discharge conduit can be formed in a simplified structure.

In the flush toilet unit according to the fourth aspect of the present invention, it is preferable that the urine-volume calculation means is operable to calibrate the water-level measurement means in a state when a pooled-water level in the bowl is set at the given height or the overflow water level.

Thus, in the flush toilet unit having this feature, the water-level measurement means is calibrated in accordance with the given height or the overflow water level which is accurately set with high repeatability based on dimensions of the flush toilet unit. This makes it possible to accurately perform the urine-volume measuring operation.

According to a fifth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a flush toilet unit comprising: a bowl for receiving urine of a user therein; a trap portion fluidically connected to the bowl, and adapted to guide a pooled water in the bowl to a sewer pipe and to form a water seal relative to the sewer pipe; pooled-water discharge means for discharging the pooled water from the bowl; a pooling-water tank for storing a given volume of water to be supplied to the bowl in the state after the pooled water is discharged by the pooled-water discharge means; water-level measurement means for measuring a water-level variation between a pooled-water level in the bowl after the given volume of water is supplied from the pooling-water tank to the bowl, and a water level in the bowl after urination by the user; and urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume of urine voided into the bowl by the user, in accordance with the water-level variation value measured by the water-level measurement means.

In the flush toilet unit having this feature, the pooled-water discharge means is operable to discharge the pooled water from the bowl in such a manner that a volume of pooled water in the bowl becomes approximately zero. Then, a given volume of water is supplied from the pooling-water tank into the bowl to allow the bowl to have a predetermined water level before the urine-volume measuring operation. The user then voids urine into the bowl having the predetermined pooled-water level. The water-level measurement means is operable to measure the predetermined water level and a water level after the urination by the user. The urine-volume calculation is operable to calculate a volume of urine voided by the user, in accordance with the respective water levels before and after the urination by the user.

Thus, in the flush toilet unit having this feature, the water level in the bowl before the urine-volume measuring operation is set by the volume of water stored in the pooling-water tank. This makes it possible to accurately set the water level allowing for performing the urine-volume measuring operation with a high degree of accuracy.

In the flush toilet unit according to the fifth aspect of the present invention, it is preferable that the pooled-water discharge means consists of syphon-phenomenon generation means for injecting water into the trap portion to generate a syphon phenomenon so as to discharge the pooled water from the bowl.

Thus, in the flush toilet unit having this feature, a water jet nozzle can be used as the pooled-water discharge means. This allows pooled-water discharge means to have a simplified structure.

Preferably, the flush toilet unit according to the fifth aspect of the present invention further comprises forced supply means for forcedly supplying the water stored in the pooling-water tank, into the bowl.

The flush toilet unit having this feature allows the water stored in the pooling-water tank to be rapidly supplied into the bowl so as to reduce a time-period required for preparation of the urine-volume measuring operation.

Preferably, the flush toilet unit according to the fifth aspect of the present invention further comprises water-feed means operable to feeding water to the pooling-water tank in such a manner as to spill an excess part of the fed water out of the pooling-water tank to regulate a volume of water to be stored in the pooling-water tank.

Thus, in the flush toilet unit having this feature, a volume of water to be stored in the pooling-water tank is accurately determined by dimensions of the pooling-water tank. This makes it possible to accurately set a water level in the bowl before the urine-volume measuring operation.

Preferably, the flush toilet unit according to the fifth aspect of the present invention further comprises a sewer-pipe pressure sensor for detecting an internal pressure of the sewer pipe, and water supply means operable, when a given value or more of pressure fluctuation is detected by the sewer-pipe pressure sensor, to supply water into the bowl so as to raise a pooled-water level in the bowl.

The flush toilet unit having this feature can prevent the water seal from being destroyed due to pressure fluctuation in the sewer pipe, even if the flush toilet unit is placed in a standby state after a water level in the bowl is lowered below the overflow water level.

According to a sixth aspect of the present invention, there is provided a flush toilet unit which comprises: a bowl for receiving urine of a user therein; a trap portion fluidically connected to the bowl, and adapted to guide a pooled water in the bowl to a sewer pipe and to form a water seal relative to the sewer pipe; water-level measurement means for measuring a pooled-water level in the bowl; a water-feed valve having an outlet port fluidically connected to a water-feed port for feeding water into the bowl therethrough and an inlet port fluidically connected to a supply source of water to be fed to the bowl, wherein the water-feed valve is designed to be selectively opened and closed, respectively, to enable and preclude fluid communication between the outlet and inlet ports; a feed-water trap pipe having a first end fluidically connected to the inlet port and a second, opposite, end fluidically connected to the sewer pipe, wherein the feed-water trap pipe is designed to be precluded from having fluid communication between the first and second ends when the water-feed valve is opened, and to release water supplied from the water supply source to the sewer pipe when the water-feed valve is closed; control means for controlling the water-feed valve in such a manner that a pooled water in the bowl is set at a given water level; and urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume of urine voided into the bowl by the user, in accordance with the given water level, and a water level in the bowl which is measured by the water-level measurement means after urination by the user.

In the flush toilet unit having this feature, water supplied from the water supply source is fed to the bowl through the water-feed valve. Then, the on/off valve is operable, when a pooled-water level in the bowl is increased up to a given water level, to close the water-feed valve. When the water-feed valve is closed, water supplied from the water supply source is discharged to the sewer pipe through the feed-water trap pipe. The user then voids urine into the bowl having the given pooled-water level. The water-level measurement means is operable to measure the given water level before the urination by the user and a water level after the urination. The urine-volume calculation means is operable to calculate a volume of urine voided by the user, in accordance with the respective water levels in the bowl before and after the urination by the user.

Thus, in the flush toilet unit having this feature, a valve capable of being quickly closed may be used as the water-feed valve to accurately set a pooled-water level in the bowl. Even if the water-feed valve is quickly closed, water supplied from the water supply source can be discharged to the sewer pipe through the feed-water trap pipe to prevent occurrence of undesirable phenomenon, such as a water hammer phenomenon.

In the flush toilet unit according to the sixth aspect of the present invention, it is preferable that the control means is operable to control the water-feed valve in accordance with the water level in the bowl which is measured by the water-level measurement means.

In the flush toilet unit having this feature, the control means is operable to control the water-feed valve in accordance with the water level in the bowl which is measured by the water-level measurement means. This makes it possible to further accurately set the pooled-water level.

Preferably, the flush toilet unit according to the sixth aspect of the present invention further comprises a sanitary washing device, wherein the control means is operable to adjust the water level in the bowl using water supplied from the sanitary washing device into the bowl.

After completion of water feed through the water-feed valve, the flush toilet unit having this feature can finely adjust a water level in the bowl using water supplied from the sanitary washing device into the bowl to provide enhanced accuracy in setting the pooled-water level.

Preferably, the flush toilet unit according to the sixth aspect of the present invention further comprises constant-pressure means having a pressure head maintained at a constant value, wherein the water-level measurement means includes a pressure sensor for detecting a pooled-water pressure in the bowl, and the pressure sensor is designed to be calibrated through fluid communication with the constant-pressure means.

In the flush toilet unit having this feature, the pressure of the constant-pressure means maintained at a constant value is applied to the pressure sensor to calibrate the pressure sensor. This makes it possible to provide enhanced urine-volume measurement accuracy.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a flush toilet unit according to a first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a sectional view showing one example of pooled-water discharge means in the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a sectional view showing one example of modification of the pooled-water discharge means usable in the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is an explanatory sectional view of a technique of estimating a urine volume in the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a system block diagram of the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a diagram showing an operational sequence of the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a flowchart showing an operation of the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a graph showing one example of a water-level variation in pooled water during urination by a user.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view showing a urine-sample collection device for measuring a concentration of a specific component of urine, for use in the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view showing one example of a biological-information measuring device for use in the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 11 is a diagram showing a mathematical model of a specific-component concentration measuring operation.

FIG. 12 is graphs showing a urine-volume variation and a urine-flow-rate variation per time measured using the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a diagram showing an operational sequence of the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention, in the case where a user discontinues having a measurement on the way.

FIG. 14 is a diagram showing another operational sequence of the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 15 is a sectional view showing a deodorization device, an air supply device and a water sending device, which serve as deodorization means for use in the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 16 is a schematic diagram showing a first example of a urine collection system for use in the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 17 is a schematic diagram showing a second example of a urine collection system for use in the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 18 is a perspective view showing a flush toilet unit with urine-volume measuring functions according to a second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 19 is a sectional view showing the flush toilet unit with urine-volume measuring functions according to the second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 20 is a sectional view showing an operational principle of a vent valve for use in the flush toilet unit according to the second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 21 is a block diagram showing the flush toilet unit with urine-volume measuring functions according to the second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 22 is a system block diagram showing a water-feed system of the flush toilet unit according to the second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 23 is a diagram showing an operational sequence of the flush toilet unit with urine-volume measuring functions according to the second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 24 is a perspective view generally showing a flush toilet unit according to a third embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 25 is a sectional side view showing the flush toilet unit according to the third embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 26 is a sectional view showing the detail of a pressure sensor section of the flush toilet unit according to the third embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 27 is a time-series graph showing an operation of the flush toilet unit according to the third embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 28 is a block diagram showing a relationship of respective sections of the flush toilet unit according to the third embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 29 is a graph showing one example of a calibration curve representing a relationship between a volume Q and a level h of pooled water in a bowl.

FIG. 30 is an explanatory graph of the principle of water level calculation in the flush toilet unit according to the third embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 31 is a sectional view showing a flush toilet unit according to a fourth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 32 is an enlarged sectional view showing an initial-water-level setting mechanism in the flush toilet unit according to the fourth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 33 is a block diagram showing a relationship of respective sections of the flush toilet unit according to the fourth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 34 is a time-series graph showing an operation of the flush toilet unit according to the fourth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 35 is a sectional view showing a flush toilet unit according to a fifth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 36 is a time-series graph showing an operation of the flush toilet unit according to the fifth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 37 is a sectional view showing a flush toilet unit according to a sixth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 38 is a time-series graph showing an operation of the flush toilet unit according to the sixth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 39 is a sectional view showing a flush toilet unit according to a seventh embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 40 is a sectional view showing a pooling-water tank for use in setting an initial water level in the flush toilet unit according to the seventh embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 41 is a time-series graph showing an operation of the flush toilet unit according to the seventh embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 42 is a sectional view showing a flush toilet unit according to an eighth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 43 is a sectional view showing a pooling-water tank for use in setting an initial water level in the flush toilet unit according to the eighth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 44 is a time-series graph showing an operation of the flush toilet unit according to the eighth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 45 is a sectional view showing a flush toilet unit according to a ninth embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 46 is a time-series graph showing an operation of the flush toilet unit according to the ninth embodiment of the present invention in a urine-volume measurement mode.

FIG. 47 is a graph showing an operation of the flush toilet unit according to the ninth embodiment of the present invention in a normal mode.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

With reference to the accompanying drawings, various embodiments of the present invention will now be described.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a flush toilet unit according to a first embodiment of the present invention.

The flush toilet unit 1 comprises a western-style flush toilet 11 for receiving therein excretions of a user and discharging the excretions to a sewer system, and a functional case 2 incorporating various functions including urine-volume estimation means. The flush toilet 11 and the functional case 2 are integrated into one unit. The water closer unit 1 further comprises a flush toilet seat 23 having a top surface for allowing a user to sit thereon, and a flush toilet seat cover 24 rotatably attached to the flush toilet 11 and adapted to cover the seat 23. The flush toilet unit 1 has an associated device including an ID card 21 for identifying a user, and a manual operation/display section 22. The flush toilet unit 1 is designed to be activated so as to place various functions thereof in a standby state, in response to readout or scanning of personal authentication information stored on the ID card 21, or automatic detection of proximity of a user, or manual operation of a preparation switch, and to perform various operations, such as a measuring operation, in response to manual operation of the manual operation/display section 22. A measurement result of the flush toilet unit 1 will be displayed on or indicated by the manual operation/display section 22, and disclosed to the user. The functional case 2 incorporates urine-volume calculation means (not shown) for calculating a volume of urine voided by a user, urine-flow-rate calculation means (not shown) for calculating a flow rate of urine voided by the user, and urination-time calculation means (not shown) for calculating a time-period of urination by the user.

User identification means is not limited to the ID card 21 designed to be driven by a driving power superimposed on a wireless communication wave. For example, a user may be identified by operating a specific switch of the manual operation/display section 22, or entering his/her password or personal identification number, or using biological information for personal identification, such as fingerprint or body weight. In this embodiment, information exchange between the manual operation/display section 22 and the functional case 2 is performed using infra-red radiation as a communication medium. Alternatively, the information exchange may be performed based on wireless communication using radiowaves or wired signal transmission.

FIG. 2 is a sectional view showing one example of pooled-water discharge means in the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

A bowl 12 is formed inside the western-style flush toilet 11, and a certain volume of pooled water 13 is pooled in the bowl 12 to serve as a medium for receiving a feculence or excretion. The bowl 12 is fluidically connected to a sewer pipe (not shown) through a trap portion 15 having a water seal structure, and a sewer connection pipe 16 coupled to a distal end of the trap portion 15. A water jet nozzle 31 is attached to a bottom of the bowl 12. A rim 14 is formed around a top end of the bowl 12, and a rim water-spouting nozzle 32 is attached to the bowl 12 at a position adjacent to the rim 14. Further, water-passage switching means (water-passage switching valve) 3 is disposed at a rear region of an upper portion of the western-style flush toilet 11, and water is supplied to each of the water jet nozzle 31 and the rim water-spouting nozzle 32 through the water-passage switching means 11 and a water supply conduit. The rim water-spouting nozzle 32 is oriented in a direction tangential to an approximately circular-shaped upper region of an inner peripheral surface of the bowl 12. Thus, water spouted from the rim water-spouting nozzle 32 circulates along the inner peripheral surface of the bowl 12 and finally reaches the pooled water 13 so as to serve as a means to generate swirl in the pooled water 13 and concentrate feculences in the center of the pooled water 13 along the swirl. The spouted water also serves as a means to, when the pooled water 13 has a lowered level, return the lowered level to an overflow water level 41.

The water jet nozzle 31 is designed to inject water into the trap portion 15 at a flow rate of about 20 L/min and fill the trap portion 15 with water so as to generate a syphon phenomenon to allow the pooled water 13 to be rapidly drained or discharged toward the sewer pipe. That is, the water jet nozzle 31 serves as pooled-water discharge means. If a flow rate and/or an injection time of the water injection nozzle 31 are inadequate, the pooled water 13 is likely to be entirely discharged to spoil the water-seal function, resulting in occurrence of reverse flow of sewage odor. In this embodiment, a flow rate and an injection time of the water jet nozzle 31 are set to allow a level of pooled water 13 to be not lowered below a lower-limit water-seal water level (hereinafter referred to as “water-seal water level”) 43 even after generation of the syphon phenomenon. Specifically, in this embodiment, a pooled water 13 having the overflow water level 41 corresponding to the highest position of the trap portion 15 is lowered to a given water level 42 according to the syphon phenomenon generated by water injected from the water jet nozzle 31. A pooled-water volume between the overflow water level 41 and the given water level 42 is set to be equal to greater than a voided-urine volume to be measured. If the western-style flush toilet 11 is a burned product, a high dimensional accuracy can be achieved only after overcoming a high degree of technical difficulty. Thus, it may be practically difficult to form the flush toilet 11 in such a manner as to allow the function of reliably preventing a water level from being lowered below the water-seal water level 43, to be ensured only by dimensional characteristics thereof. In this case, the flush toilet unit may include pooled-water returning means for raising a level of pooled water 13 to the water-seal water level or more, as described in detail later in connection with the sequence in FIG. 13. When the western-style flush toilet 11 is used at a pooled-water level below the water-seal water level, it is necessary to have deodorization means for preventing reverse flow of odor from the sewer pipe, as described in detail later in FIG. 15.

Generally, a volume of urine to be voided per time by a man or woman is about 1000 mL at a maximum. Thus, the pooled-water volume between the overflow water level 41 and the given water level 42 may be set at 1000 mL or more as a design value to prevent urine voided into the bowl from overflowing toward the sewer pipe so as to allow the entire voided urine to be subjected an intended measurement. The above technique of controlling a pooled-water level by means of a syphon phenomenon to be generated in the trap portion makes it possible to eliminate the need for sucking the pooled water possibly containing excretions and/or detergent, using a pump, so as to secure from deterioration in operational reliability of a functional element/device in contact with water.

FIG. 3 is a sectional view showing one example of modification of the pooled-water discharge means usable in the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention. In this modification, instead of generating a syphon phenomenon by injecting water from the water jet nozzle, a part of pooled water 13 is discharged from a discharge port 33.

Specifically, a bowl 12 is formed inside a western-style flush toilet 11, and a certain volume of pooled water 13 is pooled in the bowl 12 to serve as a medium for receiving a feculence or excretion. The bowl 12 is fluidically connected to a sewer pipe (not shown) through a trap portion 15 having a water seal structure, and a sewer connection pipe 16 coupled to a distal end of the trap portion 15. A rim 14 is formed around a top end of the bowl 12. A discharge port 33 is formed on the trap portion 15 containing a pooled water 13 at a give water level 42 in order to partly discharge the pooled water 13 to the sewer connection pipe 16. That is, the discharge port 33 is formed in the trap portion 15 having no risk of coming into direct contact with excretions of a user, at a position above a water-seal water level 43 in consideration of reverse flow of odor etc., from the sewer pipe or other associated sewer system. The discharge port 33 is fluidically connected to the sewer connection pipe 16 through a discharge passage 34, and a discharge valve 35 is interposed in the discharge passage 34.

When the discharge valve 35 is operated to open the discharge passage 34, the pooled water 13 is discharged from the discharge port 33 until the overflow water level 41 is lowered to the give water level 42. The pooled water 13 to be discharged through the discharge passage 34 and the discharge valve 35 is likely to contain excretions and/or detergent. Thus, it is desirable that the discharge passage 34 and the discharge valve 35 are made of a material selected in consideration of operational reliability, or composed of a combination of a silicon tube and a pinch to prevent an electric element/device from coming into direct contact with the pooled water.

With reference to FIG. 4, a technique of estimating a urine volume in the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention will be described below.

When a certain volume of urine 17 is voided into the pooled water 13 having the given water level 42 set by the pooled-water discharge means, a level of the pooled water 13 is raised correspondingly to the volume of the voided urine 17. In a typical western-style flush toilet, the variation is in the range of about 2 to 5 mm with respect to 100 mL of voided urine. If a level of pooled water has a variation of 1 mm, the resulting pooled water will have a variation in water pressure at 9.8068 Pa. That is, a voided-urine volume, a pooled-water level and a pooled-water pressure are correlated with each other, and a voided-urine volume can be estimated using this correlation. In this connection, the shape or dimensions of the bowl 12 of the western-style flush toilet 11 are varied depending on bowl designs or conditions during a production process, and therefore a water-level variation in pooled water 13 relative to a voided-urine volume is not always constant. In this embodiment, a relationship between respective variations in volume and level of pooled water 13 is preset and entered into urine-volume calculation means (not shown), on a bowl-by-bowl basis or a flush toilet-by-flush toilet basis. Alternatively, when a flush toilet unit is installed, a water-level variation relative to a certain volume of dummy urine may be measured to determine a calibration curve representing a relationship between a pooled-water volume and a pooled-water level. Thus, if a water-level variation per unit time in pooled water 13 is measured, a variation in pooled-water volume can be obtained by use of this correlation, and then a urine flow rate per unit time (urine flow velocity) can be calculated.

A variation in pooled-water pressure is measured using a pressure sensor 44 disposed at the bottom of the bowl 12 to serve as water-level measurement means. The urine-volume calculation means (not shown) is operable to convert the measured pressure variation into a water-level variation, and estimate a urine volume in accordance with the converted water-level variation. Instead of the pressure sensor 44, a pooled-water pressure may be introduced to a pressure sensor 46 through a pressure conduit 45 fluidically connected to the bottom of the bowl 12, as indicated by the two-dot chain line in FIG. 4, to measure the pressure. When the pressure conduit 45 is used, the pressure sensor 46 serving as water-level measurement means can be disposed above the overflow water level 41. This makes it possible to eliminate the risk of direct contact between the pressure sensor 46 and the pooled water 13 so as to provide enhanced operational reliability. While the pressure sensor 44 in this embodiment detects a water pressure directly from the pooled water 13 in the bowl 12, the pressure sensor 46 detects a water pressure from a pooled water 13 introduced in the pressure conduit 45 through air in the pressure conduit 45. Thus, the pressure sensor 44 is superior in terms of measurement accuracy, such as SN ratio, and the pressure sensor 46 is superior in terms of operational reliability. As to a type of pressure sensor, a differential pressure sensor may be employed to prevent occurrence of errors due to changes in atmospheric pressure. A pressure sensor commonly used in blood-pressure meters or barometers may also be used. For example, these pressure sensors are fundamentally designed to read using a bridge circuit an amount of strain in a silicon wafer due to pressure, or to measure a variation in capacitance due to pressure. It is also contemplated to enclosing silicon oil in a portion of a pressure conduit, for example, of the pressure sensor 45. In this case, the silicon oil can prevent direct contact between a silicon wafer serving as a pressure-sensitive element and the pooled water containing feculences and/or detergent to reduce the risk of occurrence of corrosion etc., in a sensing element and associated wirings so as to provide further enhanced operational reliability in the pressure sensor.

FIG. 5 is a system block diagram of the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

Water (city water) entered into the functional case 2 is led to the water-passage switching means 3 through a water-feed section. This water-passage switching means 3 is fluidically connected to syphon-phenomenon generation means (water jet nozzle 31) serving as pooled-water discharge means and water supply means (rim water-spouting nozzle 32) for returning a pooled-water level to an given water level. Further, the water-passage switching means 3 is fluidically connected to water-level measurement means for measuring a pooled-water level to estimate a urine volume, urine collection means (not shown in FIGS. 1 to 4) incorporated in the western-style flush toilet 11, and sensing means incorporated in the western-style flush toilet 11 and the functional case 2 to sense a specific component contained in urine, so as to selectively feed the water to wash them. The functional case 2 includes control means which is operable to controllably drive each of electric elements/devices of the above means, and transmit and disclose the content of each operation and a measurement result to the manual operation/display section 22 through communication means. The control device may be designed to disclose the measured value to not only a user but also a medical staff and/or an insurance service provider through the communication means, in consideration of cooperation with a medical center or a dietary/athletic service provider, and/or incentive motivation.

With reference to FIG. 6, an operational sequence of the flush toilet unit according to the first embodiment of the present invention will be described below.

In response to manual operation of a measurement start switch by a user, the pooled-water discharge means discharges a part of pooled water. In this process, the pooled-water discharge means discharges the part of pooled water to the sewer pipe through the sewer connection pipe 16 so as to lower a level of pooled water, by generating a syphon phenomenon based on water injected from the water jet nozzle 31 as in this embodiment, or by opening the discharge valve 35 interposed in the discharge passage 34 as in the aforementioned modification. The following description will be made in connection with the former case where the part of pooled water is discharged by generating a syphon phenomenon based on water injected from the water jet nozzle 31. After the part of pooled water is discharged by the pooled water discharge means, a small volume of water is supplied from the rim water-spouting nozzle 32 to allow a pooled water 13 to have the given water level 42 returned from the lowered water level. Through the above process, a preparatory operation for initiating a substantial urine-volume measuring operation is completed, and the flush toilet unit is placed in a standby state. In this standby state, when a user voids urine into the pooled water 13, the pooled water has a raised water level. This water-level variation is used as basic data for estimating a voided-urine volume. In this embodiment, the preparatory operation is initiated at a time when the user manually turns on the measurement start switch. As one example of modification, the flush toilet unit may be designed to detect proximity of a user using a human-body detection sensor attached thereto so as to automatically initiate the preparatory operation. As another example, when used in a medical center, the flush toilet unit may be designed to detect an ID card owned by a user for personal authentication so as to automatically initiate the preparatory operation. According to experimental tests carried out by the applicant, it has been verified that about 10 seconds are required for the preparatory operation based on the generation of syphon phenomenon for lowering a water level. In contrast, if the preparatory operation is initiated by the human-body detection, it can be completed until the user takes off his/her clothes in view of a time-period required for undressing. This makes it possible to reduce a time lag during which the user is obliged to hold his/her urine. An operational sequence for this modification will be described later.

After completion of the urination determined based on detection of no water-level variation, a urine volume is calculated in accordance with a water-level variation measured by the water-level measuring means, and disclosed to the user. Simultaneously, an operation for washing the means associated with the measurement is performed. The completion of the urination may be determined by detecting that a urine sensing signal from a urine collection device for collecting a user's urine sample for use in another measurement becomes zero, or in response to manual operation of a urination completion switch. Then, the level of the pooled water 13 is returned to the original overflow water level 41 by the water supply means (rim water-spouting nozzle 32). Generally, in an operation for flushing a bowl, if the pooled water 13 has a water level fairly less than the overflow water level, a syphon phenomenon is likely to be not sufficiently generated, or excretions are likely to be fully flushed away. The above operation for returning a water level is performed to prevent occurrence of this problem. After the water-level returning operation, in response to manual operation of a bowl flushing switch by the user, the rim water-spouting nozzle 32 supplies water to create swirl in the pooled water 13 so as to concentrate excretions in the center of the pooled water 13, and, at this timing, the water jet nozzle 31 injects water to generate a syphon phenomenon in the trap portion 15 so as to discharge the excretions to the sewer pipe. Then, the rim water-spouting nozzle 32 re-supplies water to provide the overflow water level 41.

With reference to FIG. 7, a process flow of the operation of the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention will be described below.

In response to manual operation of the measurement start switch by the user, the pooled-water discharge means discharge a part of pooled water. The control means displays information for prompting the user to refrain from voiding feces and putting a toilet paper in the bowl 12 during measurement, on the manual operation/display section 22 serving as alarm means. After completion of the preparatory operation by discharging the part of pooled water to obtain the given water level, the user voids urine into the pooled water. The level of the pooled water is raised along with the urination. In response to completion of the urination determined based on detection of no variation in water level or no sensing signal from the urine collection device, or manual operation of the urination completion switch, a urine volume is calculated in accordance with a water-level variation measured by the water-level measurement means, and disclosed to the user. Simultaneously, the operation for washing the means associated with the measurement is performed. This process flow includes an operation for determining and informing whether feces is likely to be voided during the measurement, as described in detail later.

FIG. 8 is a graph showing one example of a water-level variation in pooled water during urination by a user. In this embodiment, a water-level variation is directly monitored through a real-time conversion from a measured pressure. Thus, a pressure variation exhibiting a non-smooth or discontinuous behavior as indicated by the broken line in FIG. 8 means that feces are voided together with urine which is continuum fluid. Thus, based on such behavior, information about possibility that a measured urine-volume value includes some error can be disclosed to the user and/or a manager/staff utilizing the measured value. Further, in view of difficulties in reputedly obtaining urine-volume data under the same urination conditions, a urine-volume value corrected by an after-mentioned process in FIG. 12 may be disclosed even when feces are mixed in urine. However, the corrected urine volume is likely to be unable to satisfy a desired urine-volume estimation accuracy. Thus, in order to prevent erroneous therapeutic strategy or management strategy, the fact that the urine volume has been corrected is disclosed to the user and/or a manager/staff utilizing the measured value.

Then, the level of the pooled water 13 is returned to the original overflow water level 41. In response to returning to the overflow water level 41, the display about prohibition of defecation and disposal of a toilet paper is turned off. Cautions during the measurement can be informed to the user through display or indication on the manual operation/display section 22 to prevent occurrence of malfunctions due to excretions getting into measuring-elements/devices. Then, in the bowl-flushing operation triggered by the user, the rim water-spouting nozzle 32 supplies water to generate swirl in the pooled water so as to excretions in the center of the pooled water 13, and, at this timing, the water jet nozzle 31 injects water to generate a syphon phenomenon in the trap portion 15 so as to discharge the excretions to the sewer pipe. Then, the rim water-spouting nozzle 32 re-supplies water to provide the overflow water level 41. After completion of the operation for washing the means associated with the measurement, an indication “Measurement Mode” representing that the flush toilet unit stands ready to initiate a next cycle of the urine-volume measuring operation is displayed to a user.

FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram showing behavior of a pressure variation in pooled water in a flush toilet unit of the present invention, wherein a difference between an initial or reference pressure and a measured pressure from the pressure sensor 44 indicates a voided-urine volume, and a time-period between the initiation and termination of pressure variation indicates a urination time-period. A value derived by time-differentiating a urine-volume variation or a urine volume per unit time is a urine flow rate or a flow volume of voided urine per unit time. This point will be described in-detail later in connection with FIG. 12. Generally, a urine volume, a urination time-period and a maximum urine flow rate are used as management vales for urologic diseases, such as prostatic hypertrophy. In this embodiment, a urine flow rate serving as an index of urologic diseases typified by prostatic hypertrophy can be measured through urination at a lavatory in a usual manner. This measurement executable at a lavatory or in a personal space allows the user to repeatedly undergo it without sense of shame. Further, the measurement can be performed just after the user feels a desire to urinate. Thus, through periodical checks of therapeutic effects, a therapeutic or disease management can be performed with high reliability.

As compared with a situation where only urine is voided, if feces are voided during urination, a pressure variation becomes discontinuous. In the event of urination along with defecation, a pressure value having larger amplitude and lower frequency is measured. This point will also be described in detail later in connection with FIG. 12.

FIG. 9 shows a urine-sample collection device for measuring a concentration of a specific component of urine, for use in the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

A urine collection device 52 serving as the urine-sample collection device is attached to the western-style flush toilet 11 through a urine collection arm 54 and a rim cover 51 in such a manner as to be swingable within the bowl 12. A part of urine voided by a user is directly collected by a urine collection device 52, and the remaining urine falls into the pooled water 13. The fallen urine will be subjected to the urine-volume measuring operation using the aforementioned mechanism. The urine collected by the urine collection device 52 will be subjected to an operation for measuring a concentration of a specific component thereof using sensing means incorporated in the urine collection device 52, or will be sucked from the urine collection device 52 to a measurement section and then subjected to an operation for measuring a concentration of a specific component thereof using sensing means incorporated in the measurement section. When a part of voided urine is collected by the urine-sample collection device, a voided-urine volume is calculated by adding a volume of the urine collected by the urine-sample collection device and a volume of the urine fallen into the pooled water 13. In view of a time-period required for allowing a certain volume of urine to be retained in the bladder of a user, a urine-sample collection for the urine volume/urine flow rate measurement and a urine-sample collection for another clinical examination should be performed all at once. If it is intended to use a part of voided urine for another clinical examination, it may be sucked and collected into a storage container 54 as a sample. The flush toilet unit 1 according to this embodiment can perform an operation for measuring a urination state and a voided-urine volume and an operation for measuring a specific component contained in voided urine quantitatively and/or qualitatively, through a single urination.

A value derived by multiplying a concentration of a specific component in urine by a volume of the urine is a real excretion amount. For example, a value derived by multiplying a concentration of salt in urine by a volume of the urine is a salt excretion amount serving as an index of hypertension. A value derived by multiplying a concentration of sugar in urine by a volume of the urine is a sugar excretion amount serving as an index of diabetes mellitus.

With reference to FIG. 16, a mechanism for collecting urine into the storage container 54 will be described below.

FIG. 16 is a schematic diagram showing a first example of a urine collection system for use in the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention. This urine collection system includes negative-pressure or vacuum generation means for allowing urine collected by the urine collection device 52 to be sucked into the storage container 54 through the urine collection arm 53. In view of a microscopic examination of the sample, a syringe pump capable of reducing the risk of damages in cell may be suitably used as the vacuum generation means.

FIG. 17 is a schematic diagram showing a second example of the urine collection system for use in the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention. In this urine collection system, urine collected by the urine collection device 52 is sucked into the storage container 54 through an on/off valve. The storage container 54 has an inner space preset at a negative pressure, and an inlet port provided with a check valve 58, so called “duckbill check valve”. The check valve 58 is designed to be normally closed by the negative pressure in the inner space of the storage container 54, and allow one end of a suction pipe having the other end fluidically connected to the urine collection device 52 to be inserted into the inner space of the storage container 54 therethrough. Then, when the on/off valve interposed in a passage is opened in response to a signal from urine sensing means incorporated in the urine collection device 52, the urine collected by the urine collection device 52 is automatically sucked into the storage container 54. This structure has come into practical use in a blood-collecting syringe, etc., and has an advantage of being able to omit a device for generating vacuum.

With reference to FIG. 10, an operation for measuring a concentration of a specific component of urine in the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention will be described below.

As shown in FIG. 10, a pooled-water measurement section 6 has an outer case 61 engaged with the western-style flush toilet 11. Urine voided by a user falls into the pooled water 13 in the bowl 12 of the western-style flush toilet 11. When means for measuring a concentration of a specific component of the voided urine is incorporated, but not shown, in a water collection device 62, the specific component is diluted by the pooled water having the given or lowered water level. A urine concentration is firstly measured based on the diluted urine by the specific-component-concentration measuring means incorporated in the water collection device 62, and then corrected by taking into account respective volumes of the pooled water and the voided urine. As described above, a real excretion amount is determined by multiplying the obtained concentration by the urine volume.

With reference to FIG. 11, the specific-component-concentration measuring operation in the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention will be described in more detail below. FIG. 11 shows a mathematical model of the specific-component-concentration measuring operation.

In the western-type flush toilet 11, the pooled water with the given or lowered water level has a volume Q0. Given that a volume of urine retained in the bladder of a user is R, and a concentration of a specific component of the retained urine is η1. Further, given that a concentration of the specific component of the pooled water is η2. When the retained urine and the pooled water are mixed together, the mixture has a volume of (R+Q0), and a specific-component concentration of η3. A relationship between them can be expressed by the following equation (1):
R×η1+Q0×η2=(R+Q0)×η3 (1)

Thus, the specific-component concentration η1 of the urine can be estimated by the following formula (2):
η1={(R+Q0)η3−Q0×η2}/R (2)

FIG. 12 is graphs showing a urine-volume variation and a urine-flow-rate variation per time measured using the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention. That is, the graphs in FIG. 12 were obtained by converting the measured pressure variation in FIG. 8 to a water-level variation and then to respective measured values of urine volume and urine flow rate. The upper graph shows a temporal variation in measured urine volume, wherein feces are voided during urination. If feces are voided during urination, a waveform having larger amplitude and lower frequency than those in a waveform during urination without defecation will be observed in the graph. In an experimental test using a bowl which has a pooled-water volume of about 3.5 L, a frequency caused by falling of feces was about 5 Hz. The intermediate graph was obtained by passing a frequency component of about 1 to 10 Hz caused by falling of feces into the pooled water in the upper graph through a band-pass filter. That is, intermediate graph was obtained by filtering out frequency components of less than 1 Hz and of greater than 10 Hz from the waveform in the upper graph. Characteristics of the band-pass filter may be appropriately adjusted depending on properties of each bowl. In the intermediate graph, the curve of a urine-volume variation per time has inflexion points, and this jumped width in the curve represents a volume of voided feces. In urination without defecation, a urine volume can be derived directly from an obtained variation curve. When feces are voided during urination, a urine volume can be derived by subtracting the aforementioned feces volume from an obtained variation curve. Defecation detection means (not shown) incorporated in the urine-volume calculation means (not shown) is operable to detect defecation in accordance with a frequency component contained in a water-level variation waveform or an amplitude variation in the water-level variation waveform. The urine-volume calculation means (not shown) is operable to estimate a pooled-water variation caused by the defecation, and correct a calculated urine volume in accordance with the estimated pooled-water variation. Thus, in the flush toilet unit 1 according to this embodiment, even if feces are erroneously voided during the urine-volume measuring operation, a measured value including a feces volume is never output as a urine volume. In this case, the measured urine volume has some risk in terms of accuracy. Thus, the measured urine volume is disclosed to the user and a person utilizing this data together with information that the measured urine volume includes uncertainty. As above, while defecation during the urine-volume measuring operation is likely to cause an error in measured urine volume, the possibility of intrinsic error can be disclosed to a user and/or a medical staff managing the measured data to invite their attention thereto so as to prevent occurrence of erroneous medical judgment.

The lower graph was obtained by time-differentiating a urine volume per unit time, or a urine-volume variation, calculated by the urine-flow-rate calculation means (not shown). That is, the lower graph shows a temporal variation in urine flow rate. The discontinuous region having an extremely large change in stability derivatives is caused by falling of feces, and a curve excluding this region represents a urine flow rate. The urination-time calculation means (not shown) is operable to calculate a urination time-period in accordance with a temporal variation in urine flow rate. A maximum urine flow rate and a urination time-period can be used in management/therapy of urologic diseases, such as prostatic hypertrophy.

With reference to FIG. 13, an operation to be performed when a user discontinues having the urine-volume measurement on the way will be described below. FIG. 13 is a diagram showing an operational sequence of the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention, in the case where a user discontinues having the measurement on the way.

In response to manual operation of the measurement start switch by a user, the water jet nozzle 31 injects water to generate a syphon phenomenon so as to lower a water level of pooled water. Then, a certain volume of water is supplied to provide the given water level. Through the above process, the preparatory operation is completed to stand ready to receive urination by the user. When the water level in the standby state for receiving urination is not raised for a given time-period, it is determined that the user discontinues having the measurement, and the water supply means includes the pooled water up to the overflow water level. Then, the bowl flushing operation is performed. If the water level is lowered below the water-seal water level during the preparatory operation, due to pressure fluctuation in water injected by the water jet nozzle 31 or pressure fluctuation in the trap portion 15, there is the risk of reverse flow of odor from the sewer pipe to the bowl 12. Further, if the bowl flushing operation is performed under the condition that the pooled-water level is lowered, a sufficient syphon phenomenon cannot be generated. Thus, the lowered water level is retuned to the overflow water level after the lapse of the give time. In view of a typical time lag before urination in a lavatory, the given time-period is preferably set in the range of about 1 to 2 minutes. In the flush toilet unit 1 according to this embodiment, the lowered pooled-water level is returned to a water level above the water-seal water level or more, when the lowered water level is not raised for the given time, for example, when a user discontinues having the measurement on the way without urination. This makes it possible to avoid adverse affects of continuation of the lowered pooled-water level, such as deterioration in usability of the flush toilet unit, or to eliminate the need for continuously activating the deodorization means for eliminating odor reversely flowing from the sewer pipe.

With reference to FIG. 14, another operational sequence of the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention will be described below. FIG. 14 is a diagram showing another operational sequence of the flush toilet unit 1, wherein the flush toilet unit 1 is designed to be usually placed in a standby state under the condition that a water level of pooled water is lowered to the given water level. That is, in a preparatory operation after one cycle of the substantial measuring operation, a typical bowl flushing operation is performed (by activating the rim water-spouting nozzle, the water jet nozzle and the rim water-spouting nozzle in this order). Then, the water jet nozzle is activated for a short time to discharge a part of the pooled water, and the resulting lowered pooled-water level will be maintained. In this case, a user can start having a measurement of a characteristic value typified by a urine volume, just after entering in a lavatory without a particular manual operation. In this operational sequence, the preparatory operation has already been completed at a time when a user enters in a lavatory. Thus, a urine-volume measuring operation can be initiated without any waiting time. In addition, a manual operation of a switch or the like for initiation of the measuring operation can be omitted. The standby state having a water level below the overflow water level and above the water-seal water level is highly likely to cause attachment of feculence-induced stains on a dried inner surface of the bowl. Thus, this preparatory operation is recommended for a facility having a number of users and a sufficient number of staffs for maintenance services, such as bowl washing.

With reference to FIG. 15, the deodorization means in the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention will be described below. FIG. 15 is a sectional view showing a deodorization device 55, an air supply device 56 and a water sending device 57, each of which serves as deodorization means for use in the flush toilet unit 1 according to this embodiment. If a pooled-water level is lowered below the water-seal water level, sewage odor reversely flows from the sewer pipe fluidically connected to the western-style flush toilet 11. Thus, the pooled water should be maintained at a water level above the water-seal water level. However, the pooled-water level is likely to be lowered below the water-seal water level depending on conditions of a syphon phenomenon in the bowl, and it is practically difficult to perfectly maintain such a desirable water level. On the other hand, as to a water-level variation per urine volume voided into the bowl, a bottom region of the bowl 12 has a relatively large water-level variation per urine volume. Thus, higher measurement accuracy can be expected as a volume of pooled water 14 is reduced. The flush toilet unit according to this embodiment is designed to set a volume of pooled water in such a manner as to allow the given water level 42 during the urine-volume measuring operation to be lowered below the water-seal water level, and combine the deodorization means so as to prevent occurrence of undesirable odor during the measuring operation. The deodorization device 55 as a suction device is designed to suck odor in the bowl and subject the sucked odor to a treatment using a absorbent, such as activated charcoal, or a deodorizer, such as ozone-based oxidizing decomposition or oxidation-reduction catalyst. The air supply device 56 fluidically connected to the sewer connection pipe 16 is designed to supply air toward the sewer pipe through the sewer connection pipe 16 so as to prevent the reverse flow of odor. These deodorization means have no adverse affect on performance of the western-style flush toilet 11, and never cause deterioration in usability of the flush toilet. Even when the western-style flush toilet 11 has the lowered pooled-water level, the deodorization means associated with the western-style flush toilet 11 can be driven to prevent user's uncomfortable feeling due to odor reversely flowing from the sewer pipe. The water sending device 57 is designed to send water toward the sewer pipe through the sewer connection pipe 16 so as to generate a negative pressure in the trap portion 15 to prevent the reverse flow of odor. Instead of simply activating the deodorization means in conjunction with the initiation of the preparatory operation triggered by a user, a plural number of the deodorization means may be used in combination, or the deodorization means may be activated independently.

The flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention is intended to measure a urine volume and an index related thereto having high usefulness to therapy in medical centers and health management in homes, through urination at a lavatory. The flush toilet unit 1 according to this embodiment makes it possible to perform the measurement with high reliability without deterioration in usability as a flush toilet. In addition, flush toilet unit 1 according to this embodiment makes it possible to perform the measurement at a lavatory or in a personal space so as to allow a diseased patient to undergo the measurement without psychological burden typified by sense of shame. Further, a medical staff can readily give instruction for and check a plural number of times of the measurement to facilitate therapeutic effects.

In the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention, a urine volume can be measured while keeping voided urine in the bowl without discharging the urine to the sewer pipe. This makes it possible to measure a volume of the voided urine with a high degree of accuracy in a simplified structure. In addition, the flush toilet unit 1 according to this embodiment allows a user to have the urine-volume measurement through a series of operations including urination at a lavatory without a particular operation or handling. Further, in the flush toilet unit 1 according to this embodiment, a pooled-water level is lowered by means of a syphon phenomenon. Thus, as compared with a technique of lowering a pooled-water level using a pump or the like, the risk of directly sucking excretions can be eliminated to provide enhanced reliability in measuring-elements/devices.

In the flush toilet unit 1 according to the first embodiment of the present invention, a time-period required for the preparatory operation is approximately equal to a time-period required for urination by a user after entering in a lavatory. This makes it possible to reduce user's psychological burden of the measurement. The time-period of the preparatory operation is varied depending on a selected technique or process. Thus, the process of the preparatory operation can be appropriately selected depending on conditions of a facility equipped with the flush toilet unit, such as the number of users and the number of times of maintenance, and/or physical conditions of a user, such as type of disease.

A flush toilet unit according to a second embodiment of the present invention will be described below.

FIG. 18 is a perspective view showing a flush toilet unit with urine-volume measuring functions according to the second embodiment of the present invention.

The flush toilet unit 201 comprises: a western-style flush toilet 211 including a flush toilet seat 221 and a flush toilet cover 222; and a functional case 202 rotatably supporting the flush toilet seat 221 and the flush toilet cover 222. If a space of the functional case 202 is not sufficient to house all associated devices, it may further include a device cabinet 205 adapted to house a part of the devices and integrally connected to the closet unit 201 through a back surface thereof and piping members. A bowl 212 is formed inside the western-style flush toilet 211 to pool a certain volume of pooled water 213 for receiving excretions of a user. The bowl 12 has a top end formed as a rim surface 214 adapted to come into contact with the seat 221.

The rim surface 214 is formed with a cutout extending from an inner surface to an outer surface of the bowl 212, and a urine collection unit 250 serving as urine collection means is mounted in the cutout in such a manner as to allow the mounted portion of the urine collection unit 250 to have a top surface flush with the rim surface 214. The urine collection unit 250 is designed to collect urine voided into the bowl and send the collected urine to sensing means for use in qualitative/quantitative measurement of a specific component containing the voided urine. The sensing means may be composed of one or more of various biochemical sensors, such as a biosensor, an electrochemical sensor and a physical-quantity measuring sensor, and incorporated in the flush toilet unit 201. Alternatively, the sensing means may be a large clinical analyzer for analyzing a urine sample which has been prepared by collecting a given volume of urine using the urine collection unit 250, and stored in a container.

The urine collection unit 250 is disposed at a position where it is not immersed in the pooled water unless clogging occurs in the bowl or sewer pipe. Thus, there is no need for taking measures about waterproof and drip-proof. The urine collection unit 250 has an outward end designed to avoid interference with back surfaces of user's lower legs to be located along a contour of the western-style flush toilet 211. Thus, while the flush toilet unit 201 additionally incorporates a functional element/device for urine collection, there is no risk of having disadvantages in usability as compared with standard flush toilets, as long as the flush toilet unit 201 is used for urination and defecation in a usual manner. Specifically, in order to avoid interference with the lower legs, a protruding length of the outward end of the functional element/device and is set at 50 mm or less relative to the contour of the western-style flush toilet 211.

FIG. 19 is a sectional view showing the flush toilet unit 201 with urine-volume measuring functions according to the second embodiment of the present invention.

A water jet nozzle 231 is attached to a bottom of the bowl 212 formed inside the western-style flush toilet 211, and disposed to inject water toward a trap portion 215. The water jet nozzle 231 is designed to inject water into the trap portion 215 so as to generate a negative pressure and a syphon phenomenon therein and discharge the pooled water 213 to a sewer pipe through a sewer connection pipe 216 by means of the generated syphon phenomenon. A rim water-spouting nozzle 232 is attached to an upper portion of the bowl 212 to supply additional water to the pooled water. The top surface of the bowl 212 is formed as the rim surface 214 adapted to come into contact with the seat 221, as described above. Feedwater for each of the water jet nozzle 231 and the rim water-spouting nozzle 232 is fed through a water-feed valve 203 serving as water-passage switching means. A branch port 233 is formed at an intermediate position of a water passage fluidically connecting between the water-passage switching means 203 and the water jet nozzle 231, and a pressure conduit 242 extends from the branch port 233 to a pressure sensor 241 to measure a water level/head of urine 204 voided into the bowl 212. In an operation for handling urine containing a large amount of electrolyte, such as sodium chloride, urine passing through a small gap, particularly, of a metal element/device, is liable to cause corrosion in metal element/device and deterioration in operational reliability thereof. In this embodiment, a water level is controlled by water to be injected from the water jet nozzle 231. Thus, the flush toilet unit 201 can reduce the risk of occurrence of deterioration in operational reliability of associated elements/devices due to corrosion etc.

A pre-measurement water level (Y) is set below an overflow water level (H) by a height corresponding to a water volume greater than a maximum voided-urine volume per urination by a man or woman. When a certain volume of urine is voided into the pooled water having the water level (Y), the water level (Y) is raised to a pooled-water level (Z). A water-level difference or variation (Z−Y) is a water level corresponding to a volume of the voided urine. Based on this measured water-level value, the voided-urine volume will be calculated using a pre-stored water-level variation curve representing a relationship between a water level and a pooled-water volume. The bowl 212 has fixed dimensions. Thus, a measured water-level value can be converted to a pooled-water volume and then to a urine volume. Generally, a bowl is made of ceramic material, and therefore it is practically difficult to ensure high dimensional accuracy. Thus, as one of measures for ensuring desirable accuracy, it is recommended to set a calibration curve with respect to each water level through a learning control in accordance with a water-level variation measured by supplying a certain volume of water into the bowl when the flush toilet unit is installed.

An enlarged pipe 242a is interposed in the pressure conduit 242. In rare cases, a component of feces voided into the bowl 212 is likely to get into the pressure conduit 242. In such cases, the feces component can be accumulated in a lower inner space of the enlarged pipe 242a by utilizing a phenomenon that a flow rate of water in the pressure conduit 242 is reduced in the inner space of the enlarged pipe 242a, so as to prevent the feces component from getting into the pressure sensor 243. A periodic sanitization/washing or replacement of the enlarged pipe 242a may be advantageously performed to ensure long-term reliability of the measuring system. An air relief plug 242b is attached to a top wall of the enlarged pipe 242a to prevent air from remaining in the pressure conduit. A water pressure in the pressure conduit 242 is introduced to the pressure sensor 243 through an on/off valve 242c.

A vent valve 216c is fluidically connected to a merging section 216a. The vent valve 216c is operable, when a negative pressure is generated in the sewer pipe due to a drainage flow caused by other plumbing equipment, the vent valve 216c, to supply air through an air-inlet pipe 216b so as to reduce or suppress the negative pressure. The vent valve 216c is designed to supply air based on a pressure difference between atmospheric pressure and a pressure in the sewer pipe. In place of the vent valve 216c, any other suitable device, such as air pump, may be used to obtain the same effect. During a pooled-water-level measuring operation in the present invention, the vent valve 216c can supply air to a distal end portion of the trap portion 215 to prevent a negative pressure from acting on water in the trap portion 215 so as to prevent occurrence of errors in the measuring operation. According to “Plumbing Equipment Specifications” in Standards of the Society of Heating, Air-Conditioning and Sanitary Engineers of Japan, an upper-limit head in a sewer pipe is defined to be 40 mm head. Thus, air can be supplied in a volume of about 25 L/sec to prevent a negative pressure from acting on water in the trap portion.

A urine-volume measuring operation using the flush toilet unit 201 according to this embodiment is performed in a water-sealed state. Thus, it is unnecessary to take measures against odor reversely flowing from the sewer pipe to the bowl. In addition, a preparatory operation for lowering a pooled-water level in advance of each of the substantial measuring operations is not required. This makes it possible to save the usage of water so as to achieve a reduced measurement cost.

A mechanism for washing the pipes of the measuring system will be described below. Water fed from a water stop valve 301 fluidically connected to a city water system is divided by a flow divider 302 into supply-water for the water-feed valve 203 and washing-water for a washing system. The divided washing-water is fed through an on/off valve 303 to a tank 304 having a water-receiving space for preventing reverse flow. A water level in the tank 304 is controlled by water-level detection device (not shown) in such a manner as to be maintained at a constant value. If a failure of the water-level detection means occurs, water will flow out from an overflow pipe 308 into the pooled water 213 through the rim water-spouting nozzle 232 to prevent surroundings of the flush toilet unit from being damaged. Water in the tank 304 is sucked by a pump 306 through a water intake unit 305 including a strainer for removing foreign substances contained in the water, and led to the pressure conduit 242 of the measuring system through a washing-water pipe. An on/off valve 307 is interposed in the washing-water pipe at a position just before a connection portion between the washing-water pipe and the pressure conduit 242. The on/off valve 304 is designed to be closed during the measuring operation, and opened during a washing operation so as to supply water to the pipes of the measuring system.

An operation of the urine collection unit 205 for measuring a component of urine will be described in detail below.

A urine collector 251 is moved within the bowl 212 in conjunction with a swing movement of a urine collection arm 252, and positioned to be interposed in a urination path so as to collect voided urine. In the positions within circled area A, the frontward position relative to the bowl is used for collecting urine to be voided by a man, and the rearward position is used for collecting urine to be voided by a woman. In view of individual difference in direction of urinary stream, particularly in women, the urine collection unit 205 may have a function of adjusting the position of the urine collector 251 in the frontward/rearward directions. During a bowl-flushing operation, the urine collector 251 is moved to the position B to prevent interference with water supplied to the bowl. The position B is set to allow the urine collector 251 to be located out of a concaved portion formed under the rim surface 214 for guiding bowl-flushing water, so as to prevent adverse affects on the bowl-flushing operation. Further, when it is unnecessary to collect urine, the urine collector 251 is moved to the position C adjacent to the rim surface 21. If the urine collector 251 is located at the position C during an operation for supplying water to provide pooled water after the bowl-flushing operation, the urine collector 251 can be washed by the flow of the supplied water.

FIG. 20 is a sectional view showing an operational principle of the vent valve 216c used in the flush toilet unit 201 according to the second embodiment of the present invention, wherein the left side of the figure shows the vent valve 216c in a state when no negative pressure exists in the sewer pipe, and the right side of the figure shows the vent valve 216c in a state when a negative pressure is generated in the sewer pipe.

The vent valve 216c is fluidically connected to one end of air-inlet pipe 216b having the other end fluidically connected to the sewer connection pipe. The vent valve 216c comprises a valve element 361 adapted to be vertically moved along a guide 361 of a valve body 363. The valve element 361 is formed with a hole in a central region thereof, and a pressure chamber 362 is defined above the valve element. When no negative pressure exists in the sewer pipe, the pressure chamber 362 has an internal pressure equal to a pressure in the sewer pipe and to atmospheric pressure. Thus, the valve element 361 is moved downward or toward the valve body 363 by its own weight in such a manner as to press the valve body 363. This makes it possible to prevent odor generated in the sewer pipe from reversely flowing into and diffusing over a lavatory. When a negative pressure is generated in the sewer pipe, the pressure chamber 362 has an internal pressure equal to a pressure in the sewer pipe, and a pressure pressing the valve element becomes lower than atmospheric pressure. Thus, the valve element 361 is moved upward by the resulting pressure difference to allow outside air to flow into the vent valve 216c until the negative pressure is cancelled. This makes it possible to prevent the negative pressure from being transmitted to the pooled water through the trap portion, so as to prevent occurrence of fluctuation in water level to allow the urine-volume measuring operation to be performed with a high degree of accuracy.

FIG. 21 is a block diagram showing the flush toilet unit 201 with urine-volume measuring functions according to the second embodiment of the present invention.

The flush toilet unit 201 can be roughly classified into a flush toilet section (western-style flush toilet 211) and a functional section (functional case 202). The flush toilet section includes the sewer connection pipe 216 (sewer socket), the rim water-spouting nozzle 232, the water jet nozzle 231 and the urine collector 251. The functional section includes: control means for receiving a control signal from a manual operation/display section, such as a remote controller, and issuing an operational instruction; a water-feed system for feeding water from a city water system to each of the sections/devices of the flush toilet unit 201; the pressure sensor 243 fluidically connected to the bowl to measure a pressure of the pooled water 213; means for measuring a water level in the bowl; and electrolytic-water supply means for supplying sterilizing electrolytic water to the urine collector. A detected pressure of the pressure sensor 243 is transmitted to the control means. Then, in the control means, a calculation section serving as urine-volume calculation means is operable to determine a pooled-water level in accordance with the detected pressure and calculate a urine volume in accordance with the determined pooled-water level.

In the flush toilet section, the water jet nozzle 231 for generating a syphon phenomenon is disposed in the pooled water, and the rim water-spouting nozzle 231 is provided as a means to supply water as pooled water. City water fed to the functional section is fed to the water-feed valve 203 through a water-feed section including a strainer for removing foreign substances from the city water to prevent the foreign substances from adversely affecting on associated sections/devices. The water-feed valve 203 and a selector valve are operable to selectively supply water to the water jet nozzle 231 for discharging the pooled water containing excretions in the flush toilet section, and the electrolytic-water supply means for washing the urine collector 251 for collecting a urine sample. The flush toilet unit in FIG. 19 is designed to perform the measuring operation in the water-sealed state. When the measuring operation is performed in a non-water-sealed state, a water conduit may be provided between the on/off valve 307 and the merging section 216a to selectively supply water into the sewer connection pipe so as to prevent reverse flow of odor from the sewer pipe to the bowl or lavatory. The electrolytic-water supply means may be fluidically connected with chlorine supply means for providing enhanced forming efficiency of hypochlorous acid. While the chlorine supply means is unnecessary if an amount of chlorine in water conforms to a required concentration of hypochlorous acid, the chlorine supply means can be effectively used when it is required to obtain higher sterilization performance and urinary-calculus control performance. It is recommended to use as the chlorine supply means a device using chlorine ions contained in calibration liquid of sodium chloride, a deice for storing sodium chloride, or a deice for storing a part of voided urine and utilizing dissolved chlorine ions therein. According to experimental tests performed by the applicant, it was verified that a desirable sterilization performance and urinary-calculus control performance can be obtained by hypochlorous acid having a concentration of about 1 to 5 ppm. The control means is operable to control each of the water-feed valve 203, the electrolytic-water supply means, the water-level measurement means, the urine collection means, and the sensing means associated with the urine collection means, and transmit a measured/calculated result to the manual operation/display section via communication means. The communication means may be wired transition means, or may be wireless transmission means using infra-red radiation or radiowave. The sensing means may be included in the functional section, or may be a large clinical analyzer associated with the urine collection unit through a urine-sample container.

FIG. 22 is a system block diagram showing a water-feed system of the flush toilet unit 201 according to the second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 22 shows a piping connection for dividing fed city water into supply-water for the bowl and sanitary washing-water for the measuring system, and measuring a water level of pooled water for receiving urine voided by a user, using a pressure sensor 243, and a connection relationship of respective functional means. This piping system is designed to wash a possible penetration path of urine indicated by broken lines in FIG. 22, using the city water. While urine containing salt is liable to cause corrosion in the pipes/associated devices, the washing operation can ensure long-term operational reliability. The effect of the washing operation can be enhanced by supplying electrolytic water in addition to city water.

FIG. 23 is a diagram showing an operational sequence of the flush toilet unit with urine-volume measuring functions according to the second embodiment of the present invention.

A pooled-water level is initially held at a water level (Y) equal to or less than the overflow water level (H). The level (Y) is set in such a manner that it is not raised beyond the overflow water level (H) after urination by a user. It is generally said that a maximum volume of urine to be voided by a man or woman is 1000 mL . Thus, the water level (Y) may be determined by subtracting 1000 mL from a water volume at the overflow water level (H). Further, it is a rare case that a volume of voided-urine exceeds 500 mL. Thus, the water level (Y) may be determined in accordance with a practical measurement range. That is, the water level (Y) may be selectively changed depending on how to determine a practical measurement range. This urine-volume measuring operation includes no preparatory operation or is not required to take time to change a water level. Thus, a user can void urine without a waiting time which otherwise occurs due to the preparatory operation. This provides enhanced user-friendliness. In response to manual operation of a measurement preparation start switch by a user, the pressure sensor serving as water-level measurement means is activated, and the pressure conduit is fluidically connected to the pooled water to allow the absolute value of pooled-water level to be measured. The urine collection means is moved to the position (A). In response to urination by the user according to an indication “Under Measurement”, the water level is raised by urine voided into the bowl. Simultaneously, urine collection means for sending urine to another sensing means or storing urine in a sample vessel is moved within the bowl to collect/suck a given volume of urine so as to collect a urine sample necessary for sensing operation. After completion of the urine-sample collecting operation, the urine collection means is moved to the position (C).

A water-level variation in the bowl is measured by the water-level measuring means, such as the pressure sensor, and the measured water level variation is concerted to a pooled-water variation in accordance with the water-level variation curve representing a relationship between a water level and a pooled-water volume. Then, a difference between respective pooled-water volumes before and after the urination is calculated as a voided-urine volume. A variation per time in the urine volume converted from the water-level variation is an index, so called “urine flow rate” or “urine flow velocity”, usable for management of urologic diseases typified by prostatic hypertrophy. The measured urine volume may be multiplied by a concentration of a specific component of the voided urine, which is measured by the sensing means for the urine sample, so as to obtain a real excretion amount of the specific component in the urine voided by the user.

For example, given that the specific component is a sodium ion, a salt excretion amount can be calculated by converting a measured value of sodium ion to an amount of sodium chloride, and multiplying the obtained sodium chloride amount by the urine volume. Further, a salt intake amount can be estimated in accordance with the characteristic that the humans excrete about 80 to 90% of a salt intake amount. This salt intake amount may be used for controlling a salt intake amount at 10 g or less for normal persons or at 7 g or less for patients of hypertension, which is recommended by Japan Heath Promotion & Fitness Foundation.

If feces are erroneously voided during urination for sensing a urine sample, an amplitude and frequency of the measured water-level value is changed as compared with those of a water-level value measured without defecation. In this case, an operation for collecting a urine sample may be stopped, or the measured urine volume may be corrected in accordance with an estimated volume of the voided feces, to prevent deterioration in reliability of the urine-volume measuring operation.

The pressure sensor measures a variation in pooled-water level, and the calculation section in the control means calculates a urine volume in accordance with a variation in water pressure. A urine volume can be accurately estimated by converting a water-level variation due to urination to a pressure head variation.

The completion of urination may be input through manual operation by the user, or may be automatically determined by detecting the fact that the water-volume variation becomes stable within a given time-period. After completion of the urination, city water is supplied from the pump to a region of the measuring system which has contact with the voided urine, to wash the region. In this embodiment, a water supply source is composed of the tank 304 isolated from the city water system by the water-receiving space thereof, so as to reliably prevent reverse flow of sewage to the city water system at-need.

Then, the user checks a displayed measured value, or measured data is transmitted to another service provider (which is not included in the present invention) through the communication means, or a measurement result is printed out together with a measurement time to receive guidance of another medical/healthcare staff. In response to manual operation for a flushing operation by the user, the display is changed to “Preparatory State”. When water is supplied from the rim water-spouting nozzle, the urine collector is moved to the position (B) for avoiding interference with the supplied water to prevent adverse affects on the bowl-flushing operation. After the water level is raised to the overflow water level by the water supplied from the rim water-spouting nozzle, the water jet nozzle supplies water to generate a syphon phenomenon so as to discharge the urine to the sewer pipe together with the pooled water. Then, the rim water-spouting nozzle re-supplies water to raise the pooled-water level. During this process, the control means measures a water-feed time-period and instructs the water-level measurement means to measure a water-level variation, so as to provide the water level (Y), and then sends a control signal to the water-feed valve 203 to stop the water supply from the rim water-spouting nozzle. Through the above water-level control, the pooled-water level can be set at a constant value for each of the measuring operations. Thus, the urine-volume measuring operation can be performed under the same conditions in each cycle to allow a urine volume to be estimated with a high degree of accuracy. A water-level variation curve is likely to be fluctuated due to feed-water pressure. Thus, the relationship between a water-feed time -period and the water level (Y) may be corrected in a learning control manner to reliably obtain the water level (Y). During water supply from the rim water-spouting nozzle, the urine collector is held at the position (C), and an outer surface of the urine collector is washed by the water from the supplied water at the position (C). This water supplied at a relatively high flow rate per unit time has high ability of washing the urine collector.

In conjunction with the bowl-flushing operation, the electrolytic-water supply means is activated to supply electrolytic water containing hypochlorous ions, to a suction pipe fluidically connecting between the urine collector of the urine collection means and the sensing device. electrolytic water may also be supplied to the aforementioned conduit/pipes of the urine-volume measuring system to effectively suppress propagation of fungi in the conduit/pipes. After completion of the flushing/washing operation, the indication “Preparation State” is changed to “Measurement Mode”.

In the flush toilet unit according to the second embodiment of the present invention, urine containing a large amount of sodium chloride is not sucked into functional elements/devices. This prevents adverse affects of urine on operations of the functional elements/devices. In addition, the flush toilet unit according to this embodiment has no need to perform the preparatory operation for discharging the pooled water. Thus, a measurement cost per cycle can be reduced. Further, the flush toilet unit according to this embodiment stands ready in the state after a pooled-water level in the bowl is lowered. This makes it possible to reduce a time lag due to the preparatory operation to provide enhanced user-friendliness in terms of urination.

A flush toilet unit according to a third embodiment of the present invention will be described below.

FIG. 24 is a perspective view generally showing the flush toilet unit according to the third embodiment of the present invention, and FIG. 25 is a sectional side view of the flush toilet unit.

The flush toilet unit 401 comprises a western-style flush toilet 402, and a cabinet 404 housing various functional sections or elements/devices for operating the flush toilet unit 401.

The western-style flush toilet 402 includes a bowl 406 for receiving excretions, such as urine and feces, voided by a user, etc., a rim water-spouting nozzle 407 for spouting water from a rim portion of the bowl 406, and a trap portion 408 fluidically connected to a bottom portion of the bowl 406 and adapted to form a water seal for the bowl 406. The western-style flush toilet 402 further includes a water jet nozzle 409 attached to the bottom portion of the bowl 406 and adapted to inject flushing water toward the trap portion 408, a flush toilet seat 410 adapted to be placed on a top portion of the bowl 406, a flush toilet cover 412, and a urine collection device 414 attached to the rim portion of the bowl 406. The bowl 406 has a top surface formed as a rim surface 406 adapted to come into contact with the seat 410.

The cabinet 404 houses a water-passage switching means 416 composed of a water-feed valve for allowing city water fed thereto to be spouted/injected from each of the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 and the water jet valve 409 as flushing water, a pressure sensor 418 for measuring a hydrostatic pressure at the bottom portion of the bowl 406 to serve as water-level measurement means, and control means 420 for controlling the water-passage switching means 416 and calculating a volume of urine voided by the user. Further, a manual operation/display section 422 is attached to a wall surface of a lavatory to transmit a signal for operating the control means 420.

The western-style flush toilet 402 is made of ceramic material. Each of the seat 401 and the cover 412 is made of resin and rotatably attached to an upper portion of the western-style flush toilet 402. The trap portion 408 has a distal or outlet end fluidically connected to a sewer pipe 426 through a sewer socket 424. The bowl 406 is designed to hold pooled water up to an overflow water level equivalent to a height of an uppermost portion 408a of the trap portion 408. If a water level in the bowl 406 becomes lower than a height of a proximal or inlet end 408b of the trap portion 408, the trap portion 408 cannot be closed by the pooled water in the bowl, and therefore the water-seal function will vanish.

The rim water-spouting nozzle 407 is designed to spout flushing water from an upper portion of the bowl 406 in a direction tangent to the rim so as to wash a wall surface of the bowl 406. The water jet nozzle 409 is designed to inject flushing water from the bottom portion of the bowl 406 toward the trap portion 408 so as to induce a syphon phenomenon in the trap portion 408.

The urine collection device 414 comprises a urine collector 414a for collecting urine voided by the user, a urine collection arm 414b adapted to be swingably moved within the bowl 406, and a urine collection drive unit 414c for driving the urine collection arm 414b. The urine collection device 414 is designed to send collected urine to a urine-component measurement section 414d disposed outside the cabinet 404 so as to allow the urine-component measurement section 414d to qualitatively/quantitatively measure a specific component contained in the urine. Further, a pipe (not shown) for returning waste liquid into the bowl 406, and an electric wiring (not shown) for controlling the urine collection drive unit 414, are incorporated in the urine collection device 414. The urine collector 414a may be designed to internally perform a part of the urine-component measurements. Specifically, a temperature of urine is preferably measured by the urine collector 414a itself While the urine-component measurement section 414d in this embodiment is disposed outside the cabinet 404, it may be disposed inside the cabinet 404. When the urine-component measurement section 414d is disposed outside the cabinet 404, it may be disposed in the lavatory having the flush toilet unit 401 installed therein, or in another room separated from the lavatory. The urine-component measurement section 414b may incorporate one or more of various types of sensors, such as a biosensor, an electrochemical sensor and a physical-quantity measuring sensor. Alternatively, urine-component measurement section 414b may be a large clinical analyzer for analyzing a urine sample which has been prepared by collecting a given volume of urine using the urine collection device 414, and stored in a container. Considering contact with excretions and water, an outer surface of the urine collection device 414 is preferably made of an antibacterial material, and further subjected to a water-repellent treatment. This provides enhanced cleanliness in the urine collection device.

An outward end of the urine collection device 414 is mounted in a cutout formed by partly cutting out the western-style flush toilet 402. Specifically, the outward end of the urine collection device 414 has a top surface in come into contact the seat 412, and the remaining surface at least partly in contact with the bowl 406. The top surface of the urine correction device 414 in contact with the seat is inclined downward toward the center of the bowl 406 at an angle of about 3°, and subjected to a water-repellent treatment. This makes it possible to allow water droplets to be readily returned to the bowl 406 so as to prevent a floor of the lavatory from getting dirty. A rubber packing or a sealing material (not shown) is interposed between the western-style flush toilet 402 and the urine collection device 414 to prevent excretion-droplets from getting therebetween. An edge of the outward end is formed to have approximately the same shape of a contour of the western-style flush toilet 402 so as to prevent interference with back surfaces of the lower legs of the user. Thus, the flush toilet unit 401 additionally incorporating the urine collection device can be used in the same manner as that in standard flush toilets, as long as the flush toilet unit 401 is used for urination and defecation. Further, pipes and electric wirings may be housed in a hollow portion of the western-style flush toilet 402 to provide neat appearance. Furthermore, the urine-component measurement section 414d may be housed in the cabinet 404 to prevent the lavatory floor from being occupied by the urine-component measurement section 414d so as to eliminate the need for moving the urine-component measurement section 414d every cleaning. This is effective in preventing the urine-component measurement section 414d from reducing an interior space of the lavatory, and keeping the lavatory clean.

The water-passage switching means 416 is designed to allow flushing water fed from a city water system to be alternately spouted/injected from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 and the water jet nozzle 409 according to a control signal from the control means 420.

The pressure sensor 418 is designed to measure a hydrostatic pressure of the bottom portion of the bowl 406, which is led by a pressure conduit 418a fluidically connected to the water jet nozzle 409.

The control means 420 is designed to control the water-passage switching means 416 according to a manual operation by the user and a program stored therein. The control means 420 includes urine-volume calculation means 428 which is designed to determine a water level in the bowl 406 in accordance with a pressure measured by the pressure sensor 418 and then calculate a volume of urine voided by the user. The control means 420 further includes correction means 430 for correcting the calculated urine volume from the urine-volume calculation means 428.

In order to provide enhanced operationality, the manual operation/display section 422 is mounted on the wall surface of the lavatory at an adequate position in conformity to the uppermost position of the western-style flush toilet 402. The manual operation/display section 422 includes a sanitary-washing-device remote controller 432 for manually operating a function of sanitarily washing the excretory part of the user, a urine-component-measurement-section remote controller for manually operating a function of measuring a component of urine voided by the user, and a printer 436 for outputting a result of the urine-component measurement to the user and/or a medical staff for the purpose of data-checking and/or healthcare operations.

FIG. 26 is a sectional view showing the detail of a pressure sensor section of the flush toilet unit 401 according to the third embodiment of the present invention.

As shown in FIG. 26, the pressure conduit 418a extends from the water jet nozzle 409 to the pressure sensor 418 through an enlarged conduit 418b and a first on/off valve 418c to provide fluid communication therebetween. The enlarged conduit 418b is interposed in the pressure conduit 418a, and formed to have a fairly larger sectional area than that of the pressure conduit 418a. Thus, even if feculences in the pooled water flow toward the pressure sensor 418 through the water jet nozzle 409 and the pressure conduit 418a fluidically connected thereto, a flow rate of the feculent water is reduced at the enlarged conduit 418b, and the feculences are deposited at the enlarged conduit 418b. This makes it possible to prevent the feculences from reaching the pressure sensor 418. Preferably, the enlarged conduit 418b is designed to allow a cleaning operation to be periodically performed therefor. The first on/off valve 418c interposed between the enlarged conduit 418b and the pressure sensor 418 is designed to be opened during a water-level measuring operation performed by the pressure sensor 418, and closed in an inactive state of the water-level measuring operation, according to a control signal from the control means 420.

The flush toilet unit 401 further includes a vent valve 438 for releasing a negative pressure generated in the sewer pipe, and a sewer pressure sensor 440 for monitoring a pressure variation in the sewer pipe, as shown in FIG. 26. In this embodiment, Durgo™ (available from Morinaga Engineering Co. Ltd., Japan) or Tsuuki-ban™ (available from KITZ Co., Japan) is used as the vent valve 438. Alternatively, the vent valve 438 may be any other suitable conventional vent valve used for releasing a pressure in sewer pipes. The sewer pressure sensor 440 is fluidically connected to the sewer pipe through the sewer socket so as to measure a pressure in the sewer pipe. A pooled-water level in the bowl 406 is raised in response to a positive pressure in the sewer pipe, and lowered in response to a negative pressure in the sewer pipe. The flush toilet unit 401 according to this embodiment is designed to measure a urine volume in accordance with a pooled-water level in the bowl 406. Thus, if a pooled-water level is fluctuated due to pressure variations in the sewer pipe, a measured urine-volume value will have an error. As measures against this problem, the flush toilet unit 401 according to this embodiment is designed to correct a measured pooled-volume value in accordance with a pressure in the sewer pipe which is measured by the sewer pressure sensor 440. In this embodiment, when a pressure in the sewer pipe is lowered, atmospheric pressure is introduced into the sewer pipe through the vent valve 438 to prevent a high negative pressure from being generated in the sewer pipe. With reference to FIGS. 27 to 30, an operation of the flush toilet unit 401 according to the third embodiment of the present invention will be described below. FIG. 27 is a time-series graph showing the operation of the flush toilet unit 401, and FIG. 28 is a block diagram showing a relationship of respective sections of the flush toilet unit 401.

As shown in FIG. 27, in a standby state, a level of pooled water in the bowl 406 of the flush toilet unit 401 is set at the overflow water level indicated by “H” in FIG. 26, and the manual operation/display section 422 displays an indication “Measurement Mode”. Then, when a user of the flush toilet unit 401 manually operates a preparation switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422, or personal authentication means (not shown), such as ID card or ID tag, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the water-passage switching means 416 so as to allow water to be injected from the water jet nozzle 409. Simultaneously, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. In response to water injected from the water jet nozzle 409, a syphon phenomenon is generated in the trap portion 408, and therefore the pooled water in the bowl 406 is sucked to lower the water level “H” in the bowl 406 to a given level indicated by “X” in FIG. 26. Then, the control means 420 activates the pressure sensor 418 and the sewer pressure sensor 440, and opens the first on/off valve 418c.

Flushing water spouted from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 flows into the bowl 406 to provide a raised water level in the bowl 406. After water supply from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 for a given time-period, the control means 416 sends a control signal to the water-passage switching means 416 to stop spouting water from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407.

FIG. 29 is a graph showing one example of a calibration curve representing a relationship between a volume Q and a level h of pooled water in the bowl 406. In a flush toilet “Product No. C950B manufactured by TOTO Ltd.” which was used as the western-style flush toilet 402 according to this embodiment, the relationship between a volume Q and a level h of pooled water is expressed by the following formula (3):
h=5×10−9×Q3−3×10−5×Q2+0.1018Q (3)

r2=0.9995

Q (ML)

h(mm)

The western-style flush toilet 402 made of ceramic material has a relatively large individual difference. Thus, a calibration curve representing the relationship between a volume and a level of pooled water in the bowl 406 as shown in FIG. 29 is pre-stored in the correction means 430 incorporated in the control means 420. This calibration curve is determined by spouting a given volume of water into the bowl 406 stepwise, and sequentially measuring a water level, during a production process or installation. This western-style flush toilet 402 has a pooled-water level of 120 mL at the lowest water level X, a pooled-water level of 2500 mL at the overflow water level “H”, and a pooled-water level of 700 mL at a minimum water-seal water level or the lowest or minimum water level required for sealing the sewer pipe by water in the trap portion 408.

The flush toilet unit 401 according to this embodiment is designed to have a pooled-water level of 1300 mL and a pooled-water level of “Y” (see FIG. 26) at the time when water charge from the rime water-spouting nozzle 407 is completed. This water level Y for initiating a urine-volume measuring operation is determined by taking into account of a pooled-water volume which meets the requirement that no overflow of pooled water occurs even if a negative pressure of 40 mm Aqa is applied thereto, defined by “Drain Capacity Test Procedure for Complex Housing Drain Standpipe” (HASS218-1999), Standards of the Society of Heating, Air-Conditioning and Sanitary Engineers of Japan. That is, according to the initial pooled-water level Y, even if a negative pressure of 40 mm Aqa is applied to pooled water in the state after a user voids urine in a maximum volume of about 800 mL, the raised pooled water in the bowl 406 will never be discharged beyond the trap portion 408.

The correction means 430 is designed to calibrate the initial water level Y in accordance with a measured pressure value from the pressure sensor 418, and the pre-stored relationship between a volume and a level of pooled water. A flow rate of flushing water to be spouted from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 is kept constant by a constant flow control valve (not shown). Specifically, in this embodiment, 300 mL/sec of flushing water is spouted from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. That is, the water-passage switching means 416 and the constant flow control valve (not shown) in this embodiment serves as constant-water charge/discharge means.

A measured pressure value to be measured by the pressure sensor 418 is proportional to a water level in the bowl 406. Given that a pressure measured by the pressure sensor 418 one second before stop of water charge from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 is P1, and a pressure measured by the pressure sensor 418 at the stop of the water charge is P2, a pressure difference or variation P2−P1 corresponds to a difference or variation Δh between respective water levels measured one second before the stop of the water charge and at the stop of the water charge. Thus, a water-level variation Δh to be caused when a pooled-water volume is increased at 300 mL/sec can be figured out. As schematically shown in FIG. 30, a water-level variation Δh to be caused when a pooled water is increased at a constant volume ΔQ is changed depending on the absolute value of a water level in the bowl 406. Thus, an absolute water level can be calculated in accordance with an increased pooled-water volume ΔQ, a water-level variation Δh and the relationship between a volume and a level of pooled water in the bowl 406 as shown in FIG. 29.

For example, when a variation between a first water level measured one second before the stop of water charge from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 and a second water level measured at the stop of the water charge is 20.1 mm, the correction means 430 calculates a pooled-water level and a pooled-water volume to be, respectively, 67.9 mm and 850 mL, in accordance with the formula (3) using the relationship that a water level is raised at 20.1 mm by 300 mL of water charge. Further, when the water-level vitiation is 19.0 mm, the correction means 430 calculates a pooled-water level and a pooled-water volume to be, respectively, 73.9 mm and 950 mL. Even if a pressure measured by the pressure sensor 418 includes an offset error, the pooled-water level calculated in this manner will be accurately corrected to eliminate adverse affects of the offset error in the pressure sensor 418. In this embodiment, a given volume of water is fed through the water-passage switching means 416. Alternatively, a dedicated regulator pump (not shown) may be used for feeding the water.

Then, the user of the water closer unit 401 manually operates a measurement start switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422 or performs an authentication operation using personal authentication means (not shown), such as ID card or ID tag. In response to this manual operation, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Under Measurement”. After the indication is changed to “Under Measurement”, the user voids urine into the bowl 406. In conjunction with the urination by the user, the initial water level in the bowl 406 is gradually raised, and finally changed to a water level “Z”, as shown in FIG. 27.

When the user manually operates a urination completion switch (not shown) after the urination, or the completion of the urination is automatically detected based on disappearance of pooled-water level variation, the control means 420 operates to turn off or deactivates the pressure sensor 418 and the sewer pressure sensor 440, and close the first on/off valve 418c. Simultaneously, the urine-volume calculation means 428 incorporated in the control means 420 calculates a water-level variation between an initial water level “Y” and a post-urination water level “Z”, in accordance with a water-pressure variation between an initial water-pressure at the initial water level “Y” and a post-urination water-pressure at the post-urination water level “Z”, which are measured by the pressure sensor 418. Then, the urine-volume calculation means 428 calculates a post-urination water level “Z”, in accordance with the calculated water-level variation, and the initial water level “Y” pre-determined by the correction means 430. Then, the urine-volume calculation means 428 calculates a pooled-water volume at the calculated post-urination water level “Z”, in accordance with the calculated post-urination water level “Z”, and the pre-stored relationship in FIG. 29, and then calculates a urine volume by subtracting a water-level volume at the initiation water level “Z” obtained based on the relationship in FIG. 29, from the calculated pooled-water volume. The obtained urine volume is displayed on the manual operation/display section 422, and printed out by the printer 436 or output as electronic information to an electronic recording medium and/or a LAN in a facility having the flush toilet unit.

While the above urine-volume measuring operation has been described on the assumption that a pressure in the sewer pipe is at atmospheric pressure, the urine-volume calculation means 428 is operable, when the sewer pressure sensor 440 detests a positive or negative pressure in the sewer pipe, to correct a water level measured by the pressure sensor 418, in accordance with the pressure measured by the sewer pressure sensor 440.

After completion of the substantial urine-volume measuring operation, the user manually operates a bowl-flushing switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422, or the completion of the urination is automatically detected based on disappearance of pooled-water level variation. In response to this manual operation or detection, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. Simultaneously, the control means 420 operates to allow the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 to spout water therefrom for a given time-period. Thus, the water level in the bowl 406 is raised to the over-flow water level “H” as shown in FIG. 27, and feculences are concentrated at the center of the bowl by a swirling flow. Then, the control means 420 operates to stop the water charge from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407, and allows the water jet nozzle 409 to inject water therefrom. The water injected from the water jet nozzle 409 generates a syphon phenomenon in the trap portion 408 to suck the flushing water and voided urine in the bowl 406 into the trap portion 408, and thereby the water level in the bowl 406 is lowered. After completion of the syphon phenomenon, the control means 420 allows the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 to re-spout water therefrom for a given time-period so as to raise the water level in the bowl 406 up to the overflow water level “H”, and then returns to the standby state. Then, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Measurement Mode”.

As above, the flush toilet unit according to the third embodiment of the present invention is operable to correct a measured water-level value from the pressure sensor, in accordance with the pre-determined/pre-stored calibration curve. Thus, even if the measured water-level value from the pressure sensor includes an error, such as offset error, the urine-volume measuring operation can be accurately performed.

In this embodiment, the correction means is operable to determine an accurate initial water level in accordance with the calibration curve, and the urine-volume calculation means is operable to calculate a urine volume in accordance with the determined initial water level. Alternatively, the correction means may be designed to determine an error between an initial water level in design and an actual initial water level, in accordance with the calibration curve, and then a urine volume calculated by the urine-volume calculation means in accordance with the determined error may be subjected to addition, subtraction, multiplication and/or division using a given coefficient, so as to correct the calculated urine volume.

In this embodiment, the constant-water charge/discharge means is achieved by allowing water passing through the constant flow control valve to be spouted for a given time-period. Alternatively, the constant-water charge/discharge means may be achieved by preparing a constant-volume tank capable of retaining a given volume of water, and allowing water in the constant-volume tank to be spouted into the bowl.

Further, the constant-water charge/discharge means may be achieved by allowing water in the bowl to be discharged to a constant-volume tank until the constant-volume tank is filled with the discharged water. For example, after a water level in the bowl is set to the overflow water level or a first water level, a given volume of the polled water is discharged by the constant-water charge/discharge means. In this case, an initial water level may be determined in accordance with a variation between the overflow water level and a second water level after the discharge, and the water-level variation curve.

A flush toilet unit according to a fourth embodiment of the present invention will be described below. The flush toilet unit according to the fourth embodiment is different from the flush toilet unit according to the third embodiment, in the terms of a mechanism for setting an initial water level in the bowl to initiate the substantial urine-volume measuring operation. Thus, the following description will be made about only a difference between the respective flush toilet units of the third and fourth embodiments. Further, in the related figures, the common element or component is defined by the same reference numeral or code, and its description will be omitted.

FIG. 31 is a sectional view showing the flush toilet unit according to the fourth embodiment of the present invention, and FIG. 32 is an enlarged sectional view showing an initial-water-level setting mechanism therein. FIG. 33 is a block diagram showing a relationship of respective sections of the flush toilet unit according to this embodiment. As shown in FIGS. 31 to 33, the flush toilet unit 501 according to the fourth embodiment of the present invention comprises a western-style flush toilet 402, and a cabinet (not shown) housing various functional sections for operating the flush toilet unit 501.

The western-style flush toilet 402 includes a bowl 406, a rim water-spouting nozzle 407 for spouting flushing water, a trap portion 408 for forming a water seal for the bowl 406, and a water jet nozzle 409 for injecting flushing water toward the trap portion 408.

The cabinet (not shown) houses a water-passage switching means 416 composed of a water-feed valve for allowing city water fed thereto to be spouted/injected as flushing water, a pressure sensor 418 for measuring a hydrostatic pressure at a bottom portion of the bowl 406 to serve as water-level measurement means, and control means 420 adapted to control the water-passage switching means 416 and provided with urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume of urine voided by a user. Further, a manual operation/display section 422 is attached to a wall surface of a lavatory to transmit a signal for operating the control means 420.

The trap portion 408 has a distal or outlet end fluidically connected to a sewer 426 through a sewer socket 424.

The rim water-spouting nozzle 407 is designed to spout flushing water from an upper portion of the bowl 406 in a direction tangent to a rim of the bowl 406 so as to wash a wall surface of the bowl 406. The water jet nozzle 409 is designed to inject flushing water from the bottom portion of the bowl 406 toward the trap portion 408 so as to induce a syphon phenomenon in the trap portion 408.

The water-passage switching means 416 is designed to allow flushing water fed from a city water system to be alternately spouted/injected from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 and the water jet nozzle 409 according to a control signal from the control means 420.

The pressure sensor 418 is designed to measure a hydrostatic pressure of the bottom portion of the bowl 406, which is led by a pressure conduit 418a fluidically connected to the water jet nozzle 409.

As shown in FIG. 31, the pressure conduit 418a extends from the water jet nozzle 409 to the pressure sensor 418 through an enlarged conduit 418b and an on/off valve 418c to provide fluid communication therebetween. The enlarged conduit 418b is interposed in the pressure conduit 418a, and formed to have a fairly larger sectional area than that of the pressure conduit 418a. A vertical conduit 502 is fluidically connected to the enlarged conduit 418b to extend vertically. The first on/off valve 418c interposed between the enlarged conduit 418b and the pressure sensor 418 is designed to be opened during a water-level measuring operation performed by the pressure sensor 418, and closed in an inactive state of the water-level measuring operation, according to a control signal from the control means 420. A second on/off valve 418d is fluidically connected between the enlarged conduit 418b and the pressure conduit 418a, and designed to be opened in a normal state according to a control signal from the control means.

As shown in FIG. 32, the vertical conduit 502 extending vertically from the enlarged conduit 418b has a top end fluidically connected to a solenoid valve 504 serving as a water-level setting valve. This solenoid valve 505 has a top end formed as an outlet port 505 with an opening oriented vertically upward and exposed to atmospheric pressure. This outlet port 505 is located at a height equal to an initial water level in the bowl 406 to be set for initiating the substantial urine-volume measuring operation. Water spilled from the drain outlet 505 falls in a water-receiving portion 506a of a return pipe 506. Then, the spilled water is discharged to the sewer socket 424 through the return pipe 506. More specifically, water in the ball 406 is discharged from the outlet port 505, through the water jet nozzle 409, the pressure conduit 418a, the enlarged conduit 418b, the vertical conduit 502 and the solenoid valve 504, which are fluidically connected to each other in this order. This passage extending from the water jet nozzle 409 to the outlet port 505 serves as a discharge conduit, and a water injection port of the water jet nozzle 409 additionally serves as an inlet port of the discharge conduit. The return pipe 506 has a return trap portion 506b formed between the water-receiving portion 506a and the sewer socket 424 to prevent odor in the sewer pipe from leaking from an open end of the return pipe 506.

The control means 420 is designed to control the water-passage switching means 416 according to a manual operation by the user and a program stored therein. The control means 420 includes urine-volume calculation means (not shown) which is designed to determine a water level in the bowl 406 in accordance with a pressure measured by the pressure sensor 418 and then calculate a volume of urine voided by the user, in accordance with a pre-stored water-level variation curve representing a relationship between a level and a volume of pooled water.

As shown in FIG. 31, a sewer pressure sensor 510 for monitoring a pressure variation in the sewer pipe is fluidically connected to the sewer socket 424 through a three-way valve 508. The sewer pressure sensor 510 is connected to the sewer socket 424 in such a manner as to have fluid communication with the sewer pipe so as to measure a pressure in the sewer pipe. The flush toilet unit 501 according to this embodiment is designed to measure a pressure in the sewer pipe using the sewer pressure sensor 501, and correct a measured pooled-water volume value in accordance with the measured pressure.

With reference to FIG. 34, an operation of the flush toilet unit 501 according to the fourth embodiment of the present invention will be described below. FIG. 34 is a time-series graph showing the operation of the flush toilet unit 501.

As shown in FIG. 34, in a standby state, a level of pooled water in the bowl 406 of the flush toilet unit 501 is set at an overflow water level indicated by “H” in FIG. 31, and the manual operation/display section 422 displays an indication “Measurement Mode”. Then, when a user of the flush toilet unit 501 manually operates a preparation switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422, or personal authentication means (not shown), such as ID card or ID tag, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the solenoid valve 504 to open the solenoid valve 504. Simultaneously, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. In response to opening the solenoid valve 504, pooled water in the bowl 406 is spilled from the outlet port 506 through the water jet nozzle 409, the pressure conduit 418a, the expanded conduit 418b, the vertical conduit 502 and the solenoid valve 504. The water spilled from the outlet port 505 falls in the water-receiving portion 506a. Then, the spilled water is discharged from the sewer socket 424 through the return pipe 506 and the return trap portion 506b. As mentioned above, the outlet port 505 is located at a height equal to the initial water level “Y” which is lower than the overflow water level “H”. Thus, the pooled water in the bowl 406 will be spilled from the outlet port 505 until the overflow water level “H” is lowered to the initial water level “Y”.

When the pooled-water level in the bowl 406 is lowered to the initial water level “Y” after the solenoid valve 504 is opened, the control means 420 operates to close the solenoid valve 504. Simultaneously, the control means 420 operates to open the on/off valve 418c to allow the pressure sensor 418 to start measuring. Further, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the three-way valve 508 to switch the normal valve position for exposing the conduit to atmospheric pressure, into another valve position for fluidically connecting the conduit to the sewer pipe, so as to allow the sewer pressure sensor 510 to start measuring a pressure in the sewer pipe. Specifically, the sewer pressure sensor is calibrated based on atmospheric pressure, and then the sewer-pipe pressure monitoring operation is initiated, so as to prevent occurrence of an error, such as offset error.

Then, the control means 420 calibrates the pressure sensor 418 using the initial water level “Y”. The initial water level “Y” is accurately set based on the height of the outlet port 503. Thus, calibration of the pressure sensor 418 based on such accurate water level makes it possible to correct an error, such as offset error, in the pressure sensor 418. Alternatively, the calibration of the pressure sensor 418 may be performed using the overflow water level “H” pre-determined by dimensions of the trap portion 408. Further, the pressure sensor 418 may be calibrated based on a combination of the overflow water level “H” and the initial water level “Y”. In this case, a gain error of the pressure sensor 418 can also be corrected. Based on the above manner, the calibration of the pressure sensor may be automatically performed for each cycle, or may be performed in response to manual operation of a calibration switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422 by a user of the flush toilet unit 501.

Then, a user of the flush toilet unit 501 manually operates a preparation switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422, or personal authentication means (not shown), such as ID card or ID tag. In response to this manual operation, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Under Measurement”. After the indication is changed to “Under Measurement”, the user voids urine into the bowl 406. In conjunction with the urination by the user, the initial water level in the bowl 406 is gradually raised, and finally changed to a water level “Z”, as shown in FIG. 34.

When the user manually operates a urination completion switch (not shown) after the urination, or the completion of the urination is automatically detected based on disappearance of pooled-water level variation, the control means 420 operates to turn off or deactivates the pressure sensor 418 and the sewer pressure sensor 510, and close the on/off valve 418c. Simultaneously, the urine-volume calculation means (not shown) incorporated in the control means 420 calculates a water-level variation between an initial water level “Y” and a post-urination water level “Z”, in accordance with a water-pressure variation between an initial water-pressure at the initial water level “Y” and a post-urination water-pressure at the post-urination water level “Z”, which are measured by the pressure sensor 418. Then, the urine-volume calculation means calculates a post-urination water level “Z”, in accordance with the calculated water-level variation, and the initial water level “Y” accurately set at the height of the outlet port 505. Then, the urine-volume calculation means calculates a pooled-water volume at the calculated post-urination water level “Z”, in accordance with the calculated post-urination water level “Z”, and the pre-stored relationship between a level and a volume of pooled water, and then calculates a urine volume by subtracting a water-level volume at the initiation water level “Z” obtained based on the relationship, from the calculated pooled-water volume. The obtained urine volume is displayed on the manual operation/display section 422, and printed out by the printer 436 or output as electronic information to an electronic recording medium and/or a LAN in a facility having the flush toilet unit.

Further, the urine-volume calculation means is operable, when the sewer pressure sensor 510 detests a positive or negative pressure in the sewer pipe during the urine-volume measuring operation, to correct a water level measured by the pressure sensor 418, in accordance with the pressure measured by the sewer pressure sensor 510.

After completion of the substantial urine-volume measuring operation, the user manually operates a bowl-flushing switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422, or the completion of the urination is automatically detected based on disappearance of pooled-water level variation. In response to this manual operation or detection, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. Simultaneously, the control means 420 operates to allow the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 to spout water therefrom for a given time-period. Thus, the water level in the bowl 406 is raised to the over-flow water level “H” as shown in FIG. 34, and feculences are concentrated at the center of the bowl by a swirling flow. Then, the control means 420 operates to stop the water charge from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407, and allows the water jet nozzle 409 to inject water therefrom. The water injected from the water jet nozzle 409 generates a syphon phenomenon in the trap portion 408 to suck the flushing water and voided urine in the bowl 406 into the trap portion 408, and thereby the water level in the bowl 406 is lowered. After completion of the syphon phenomenon, the control means 420 allows the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 to re-spout water therefrom for a given time-period so as to raise the water level in the bowl 406 up to the overflow water level “H”, and then returns to the standby state. Then, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Measurement Mode”.

As above, in the flush toilet unit according to the fourth embodiment of the present invention, the initial water level for initiating the substantial urine-volume measuring operation is accurately set based on the height of the outlet port. Thus, the urine-volume measuring operation can be performed with a high degree of accuracy.

In the fourth embodiment, the water injection port of the water jet nozzle additionally serves as the inlet port of the discharge conduit, and the pressure conduit additionally serves as a part of the discharge conduit. Alternatively, the inlet port may be formed at an appropriate position of the bowl separately from the water jet nozzle, and a discharge conduit fluidically connected to the inlet port may be provided separately from the pressure conduit.

A flush toilet unit according to a fifth embodiment of the present invention will be described below. The flush toilet unit according to the fifth embodiment is different from the flush toilet unit according to the fourth embodiment, in terms of a structure of the discharge conduit for setting the initial water level in the bowl to initiate the substantial urine-volume measuring operation, and a process for setting the initial water level according to the control means. Thus, the following description will be made about only a difference between the respective flush toilet units of the fourth and fifth embodiments. Further, in the related figures, the common element or component is defined by the same reference numeral or code, and its description will be omitted.

FIG. 35 is a sectional view showing the flush toilet unit according to the fifth embodiment of the present invention.

As shown in FIG. 35, in the flush toilet unit 550 according to the fifth embodiment of the present invention, a first three-way valve 552 serving as a water-level setting valve has a first port 552a fluidically connected to a top end of a vertical conduit 502 extending vertically upward from an enlarged conduit 418b. The first three-way valve 552 has a second port 552b fluidically connected to a water column 554 extending vertically upward to have an open top end. This first three-way valve 552 has an outlet port 552c, which is a third port thereof, fluidically connected to a return pipe 556. The return pipe 556 extends horizontally from the outlet port 552c and then bends downward to fluidically connect to a sewer socket 424. The return pipe 556 has a reverse-U-shaped return trap portion 556a disposed at a position lower than that of the outlet port 552c to prevent odor in the sewer pipe from reversely flowing therein. In this structure, when the first port 552a and the outlet port 552c of the first three-way valve 552 are fluidically connected to one another, water in a bowl 406 is discharged from the outlet port 505 to the return pipe 556 after passing through a water jet nozzle 409, a pressure conduit 418a, the enlarged conduit 418b, the vertical conduit 502 and the first three-way valve 552, which are fluidically connected to each other in this order. Thus, a water level in the bowl 406 is lowered to a height of the outlet port (water level “Y”).

The passage extending from the water jet nozzle 409 to the outlet port 505 serves as a discharge conduit, and a water injection port of the water jet nozzle 409 additionally serves as an inlet port of the discharge conduit.

A second three-way valve 558 is interposed between a water-passage switching means 416 and a rim water-spouting nozzle 407. The second three-way valve 558 has a first port 558a fluidically connected to the water-passage switching means 416, and a second port 558b fluidically connected to the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. When the first port 558a and the second port 558b of the second three-way valve 558 are fluidically connected to one another, water is spouted from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. The second three-way valve 558 has a third port 558c fluidically connected to a first port 560a of a third three-way valve 560 which is fluidically connected between the expanded conduit 418b and a pressure sensor 418. The third three-way valve 560 has a second port 560b fluidically connected to the expanded conduit 418b, and a third port 560c fluidically connected to the pressure sensor 418. When the first port 558a and the third port 558c of the second three-way valve 558 are fluidically connected to one another, and the first port 560a and the second port 560b of the third three-way valve 560 are fluidically connected to one another, water flowing out of the water-passage switching means 416 flows in the expanded conduit 418b through the second three-way valve 558 and the third three-way valve 560.

With reference to FIG. 36, an operation of the flush toilet unit 550 according to the fifth embodiment of the present invention will be described below. FIG. 36 is a time-series graph showing the operation of the flush toilet unit 550.

As shown in FIG. 36, in a standby state, a level of pooled water in the bowl 406 of the flush toilet unit 550 is set at an overflow water level indicated by “H” in FIG. 35, and a manual operation/display section 422 displays an indication “Measurement Mode”. Then, when a user of the flush toilet unit 550 manually operates a preparation switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422, or personal authentication means (not shown), such as ID card or ID tag, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. Simultaneously, control means 420 sends a control signal to the water-passage switching means 416 so as to allow water to be injected from the water jet nozzle 409. In response to water injected from the water jet nozzle 409, a syphon phenomenon is generated in the trap portion 408, and therefore the pooled water in the bowl 406 is sucked to lower the water level in the bowl 406. After water injection from the water jet nozzle 409 for a given time-period, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the first three-way valve 552, the second three-way valve 558 and the third three-way valve 560. According to this control signal, the water-passage switching means 416 is switched to feed water toward the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. Further, respective fluid communications between the first port 552a and the third port 553c of the first three-way valve 552 and between the second port 560b and the third port 560c of the third three-way valve 560 are provided, and fluid communications between the first port 558a and the second port 558b of the second three-way valve 558 is maintained. The control means 420 further sends a control signal to the pressure sensor 418 and a sewer pressure sensor 510 to activate them.

Based on the spouted water from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407, the water level in the bowl 406 is raised. Concurrently, the water in the bowl is discharged from the outlet port 552c through the discharge conduit. In this embodiment, the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 serves as water supply means. After water supply from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 for a given time-period, the control means 420 operates to stop supplying water from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. After stop of the water supply from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407, the water discharge from the outlet port 552c is still continued to lower the water level in the bowl 406 down to the initial water level “Y” equal to the height of the outlet port 552c. After the water discharge for a given time-period, the first three-way valve 552 is returned to the original switched position where the first port 552a and the third port 552c are fluidically connected to one another.

Then, the user of the water closer unit 550 manually operates a measurement start switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422 or performs an authentication operation using personal authentication means (not shown), such as ID card or ID tag. In response to this manual operation, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Under Measurement”. After the indication is changed to “Under Measurement”, the user voids urine into the bowl 406. Along with the urination by the user, the water level in the bowl 406 is gradually raised, and finally changed to a water level “Z”, as shown in FIG. 36. In response to completion of the urination, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the third three-way valve 560. According to this control signal, the first port 560a and the second port 560b are fluidically connected to one another. An operation for calculating a volume of urine voided by the user, which is to be performed by urine calculation means incorporated in the control means 420, is substantially the same as that in the fourth embodiment, and its description will be omitted.

After completion of the substantial urine-volume measuring operation, the user manually operates a bowl-flushing switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422 or the completion of the urination is automatically detected based on disappearance of pooled-water level variation. In response to this manual operation or detection, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. Simultaneously, the control means 420 operates to allow the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 to spout water therefrom for a given time-period. Thus, the water level in the bowl 406 is raised to the over-flow water level “H” as shown in FIG. 36, and feculences are concentrated at the center of the bowl by a swirling flow. Then, the control means 420 operates to stop the water charge from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407, and allows the water jet nozzle 409 to inject water therefrom. The water injected from the water jet nozzle 409 generates a syphon phenomenon, and thereby the water level in the bowl 406 is lowered. After completion of the syphon phenomenon, the control means 420 allows the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 to re-spout water therefrom for a given time-period so as to raise the water level in the bowl 406 up to the overflow water level “H”.

Then, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the second three-way valve 558. According to this control signal, the first port 558a and the third port 558c of the second three-way valve 558 are fluidically connected to one another. Thus, water flowing out of the water-passage switching means 416 is fed to the enlarged conduit 418b through the second three-way valve 558 and the third three-way valve 560, and then fed to the bowl 406 through the pressure conduit 418a and the water jet nozzle 409. Through this operation, a flow path possibly having inflow feculences including urine can be effectively washed. Then, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Measurement Mode”, and the flush toilet unit returns to the standby state.

In the flush toilet unit according to the fifth embodiment of the present invention, the initial water level for initiating the substantial urine-volume measuring operation can be accurately set at the height of the outlet port. This makes it possible to perform the urine-volume measuring operation with a high degree of accuracy.

The flush toilet unit according to this embodiment is designed to discharge water from the outlet port after lowering the water level in the bowl by means of the syphon phenomenon, while supplying water from the rim water-spouting nozzle. This makes it possible to reduce a time-period required for allowing the water level in the bowl to reach the initial water level.

The flush toilet unit according to this embodiment is designed to allow a water flow path, such as the pressure conduit, to be washed. This can provide enhanced operational reliability in the flush toilet unit.

In the flush toilet unit according to this embodiment, the first three-way valve 552 is used as a water-level setting valve for selectively enabling and precluding fluid communication between the inlet and outlet ports of the discharge conduit. Alternatively, any other suitable valve other than a three-way valve, for example, the solenoid valve 504 as in the flush toilet unit 501 according to the fourth embodiment, may be used as the water-level setting valve. It is understood that a three-way valve may be used as water-level setting valve for the flush toilet unit 501 according to the fourth embodiment.

A flush toilet unit according to a sixth embodiment of the present invention will be described below. The flush toilet unit according to the sixth embodiment is different from the flush toilet unit according to the fifth embodiment, in terms of a structure of the discharge conduit for setting the initial water level in the bowl to initiate the substantial urine-volume measuring operation, and a process for setting the initial water level according to the control means. Thus, the following description will be made about only a difference between the respective flush toilet units of the fifth and sixth embodiments. Further, in the related figures, the common element or component is defined by the same reference numeral or code, and its description will be omitted.

FIG. 37 is a sectional view showing the flush toilet unit according to the sixth embodiment of the present invention.

As shown in FIG. 37, the flush toilet unit 600 according to the sixth embodiment employs a rotary valve 608 as the water-level setting valve, in place of the first three-way valve in the fifth embodiment. In the flush toilet unit 600, a second three-way valve 602 is interposed between a water-passage switching means 416 and a rim water-spouting nozzle 407. The second three-way valve 602 has a first port 602a fluidically connected to the water-passage switching means 416, and a second port 602b fluidically connected to the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. Thus, when the first port 602a and the second port 602b of the second three-way valve 602 are fluidically connected to one another, water is spouted from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. The second three-way valve 602 has a third port 602c fluidically connected to an inlet pipe 604a of a washing tank 604. The inlet pipe 604a has a downstream or distal end terminated at a relatively upper position of an inner space of the washing tank 604 in such a manner that the distal end of the inlet pipe 604a is not in contact with washing water stored in the washing tank 604. Thus, when the first port 602a and the third port 602c of the second three-way valve 602 are fluidically connected to one another, water flowing out of the water-passage switching means 604 is supplied into the washing tank. The washing tank 604 has a water-receiving space to allow the inlet pipe 604a thereof to be not in contact with water in the washing tank 604, as described above. This prevents the water in the washing tank 604 from reversely flowing toward the water-passage switching means 416.

The washing tank 604 further has an outlet pipe 604b fluidically connected thereto. The outlet pipe 604b extends upward from a lower position of the inner space of the washing tank 604 to the outside thereof. The outlet pipe 604b extending outside the washing tank 604 has an end fluidically connected to a pump 606. The pump 606 has an outlet pipe 606a fluidically connected to a first port 608a of a rotary valve 608 serving as the water-level setting valve. The rotary valve 608 has a second port 608b which is disposed at a height equal to a water level “Y” or an initial water level for initiating a substantial urine-volume measuring operation, and fluidically connected to a sewer socket 424. Thus, when the pump 606 is activated in a state after the rotary valve 608 is controlled to have fluid communication between the first port 608a and the second port 608b, water in the washing tank 604 is discharged to a sewer pipe through the sewer socket 424. This water flow allows water in a trap portion 408 to be drawn toward the sewer pipe together with the discharged water to prevent odor in the sewer pipe from diffusing toward a bowl or a lavatory. In this embodiment, the initial water level “Y” is set at a level below a water seal level or set at a non-water-seal level where no water seal is formed in the trap portion.

The rotary valve 608 further has a third port 608c fluidically connected to a first port 560a of a third three-way valve 560. The third three-way valve 560 has a second port 560b fluidically connected to an enlarged conduit 418a, and a third port 560c fluidically connected to a pressure sensor 418. Thus, when the pump 606 is activated in a state after the rotary valve 608 and the third three-way valve 560 are controlled, respectively, to have fluid communication between the first port 608a and the third port 608c, and fluid communication between the first port 560a and the second port 560b, water in the washing tank 604 is supplied to the enlarged conduit 418b through the third three-way valve 560, so as to perform either one of two modes for setting a pooled-water level to the initial water level or for being discharged to the bowl after washing measuring-pipes/conduits having contact with the pooled water. A water column 610 is fluidically connected to the enlarged conduit 418b to extend vertically upward so as to have a top end exposed to atmospheric pressure which allows air in the enlarged conduit 418b to be released therefrom. The top end of the water column 610 is located above an overflow water level “H”.

With reference to FIG. 38, an operation of the flush toilet unit 600 according to the sixth embodiment of the present invention will be described below. FIG. 38 is a time-series graph showing the operation of the flush toilet unit 600.

As shown in FIG. 38, in a standby state, a level of pooled water in the bowl 406 of the flush toilet unit 600 is set at the overflow water level indicated by “H” in FIG. 37, and a manual operation/display section 422 displays an indication “Measurement Mode”. Then, when a user of the flush toilet unit 600 manually operates a preparation switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422, or personal authentication means (not shown), such as ID card or ID tag, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. Simultaneously, control means 420 sends a control signal to the water-passage switching means 416 so as to allow water to be injected from the water jet nozzle 409. In response to water injected from the water jet nozzle 409, a syphon phenomenon is generated in the trap portion 408, and therefore the pooled water in the bowl 406 is sucked to lower the water level in the bowl 406 to a water level “X”. After water injection from the water jet nozzle 409 for a given time-period, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the water-passage switching means 416, the second three-way valve 602, the third three-way valve 560 and the rotary valve 608. According to this control signal, the water injection from the water jet nozzle 409 is stopped. Further, respective fluid communications between the first port 602a and the second port 602b of the second three-way valve 602 and between the first port 560a and the second port 560b of the third three-way valve 560 are maintained, and fluid communications between the second port 608b and the third port 608c of the rotary valve 608 is provided. The control means 420 further sends a control signal to the pressure sensor 418 to activate it. The pressure sensor 418 will output a measured water-level value in the form of a pressure value, until a urination completion switch is manually operated, or a water-level variation disappears.

After completion of the water injection from the water jet nozzle 409, water which has not flowed over an uppermost position 408a of the trap portion 408 is returned from the trap portion 408 to a bottom portion of the bowl 406, and therefore the water level in the bowl 406 is re-raised. In this state, the first port 560a and the second port 560b of the third three-way valve 560 are fluidically connected to one another, and the second port 608b and the third port 608c of the rotary valve 608 are fluidically connected to one another. Thus, water in the bowl 406 is discharged to the sewer socket 424 through the water jet nozzle 409, the pressure conduit 418a, the enlarged conduit 418b, third three-way valve 560 and the rotary valve 608, which are fluidically connected to each other in this order. This passage extending from the water jet nozzle 409 to the second port 608b of the rotary valve 608, which is an outlet port, serves as a discharge conduit, and a water injection port of the water jet nozzle 409 additionally serves as an inlet port of the discharge conduit. The second port 608b of the rotary valve 608 is located at a height equal to the water level “Y” or the initial water level for initiating the substantial urine-volume measuring operation. Thus, the water in the bowl 406 will be discharged until the water level of the bowl 406 is lowered to the initial water level “Y”.

In response to completion of setting of the water level “Y”, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the water-passage switching means 416, the third three-way valve 560 and the rotary valve 608. According to this control signal, respective fluid communications between the second port 560b and the third port 560c of the third three-way valve 560 and between the first port 608a and the second port 608b of the rotary valve 608 is provided. The control means 420 further sends a control signal to the pump 606 to activate it. In response to the activation of the pump 606, water in the washing tank 604 is sucked through the outlet pipe 604b, and discharged from the sewer socket 424 through the outlet pipe 606a of the pump 606 and the rotary valve 608. According to an ejector effect of the discharged water, air in the bowl 406 is drawn into the discharge conduit. This prevents reverse flow of odor in the sewer pipe.

Then, when the user of the water closer unit 600 manually operates a measurement start switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Under Measurement”. After the indication is changed to “Under Measurement”, the user voids urine into the bowl 406. Along with the urination by the user, the water level in the bowl 406 is gradually raised, and finally changed to a water level “Z”, as shown in FIG. 38. In response to completion of the urination, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the third three-way valve 560. An operation for calculating a volume of urine voided by the user, which is to be performed by urine calculation means incorporated in the control means 420, is substantially the same as that in the fourth embodiment, and its description will be omitted.

After completion of the substantial urine-volume measuring operation, the user manually operates a bowl-flushing switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422. In response to this manual operation, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. Simultaneously, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the pump 606 to deactivate it. The control means 420 further operates to allow the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 to spout water therefrom for a given time-period. Thus, the water level in the bowl 406 is raised to the over-flow water level “H” as shown in FIG. 38. Then, the control means 420 operates to stop the water supply from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407, and allows the water jet nozzle 409 to inject water therefrom. The water injected from the water jet nozzle 409 generates a syphon phenomenon, and thereby the water level in the bowl 406 is lowered. After completion of the syphon phenomenon, the control means 420 allows the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 to re-spout water therefrom for a given time-period so as to raise the water level in the-bowl 406 up to the overflow water level “H”.

Then, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the second three-way valve 602, the third three-way valve 560 and the rotary valve 608. According to this control signal, respective fluid communications between the first port 602a and the third port 602c of the second three-way valve 602 and between the first port 608a and the third port 608c of the rotary valve 608 are provided, and fluid communications between the first port 560a and the second port 560b of the third three-way valve 560 is maintained. The control means 420 further sends a control signal to the pump 606 to activate it. In response to the activation of the pump 606, water flowing out of the water-passage switching means 416 is fed to the washing tank 604. Simultaneously, water in the washing tank is fed to the enlarged conduit 418b through the rotary valve 608 and the third three-way valve 560. Then, the water flowing in the enlarged conduit 418b is discharged into the bowl 406 through the pressure conduit 418a and the water jet nozzle 409. Through this operation, these path possibly having inflow of feculences includes urine can be washed. Then, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Measurement Mode”. Further, the pump 606 is stopped, and each of the valves is returned to their standby state.

In the flush toilet unit according to the sixth embodiment of the present invention, the initial water level for initiating the substantial urine-volume measuring operation can be accurately set at the height of the outlet port. This makes it possible to perform the urine-volume measuring operation with a high degree of accuracy.

The flush toilet unit according to this embodiment is designed to discharge water to the sewer socket through the rotary valve during preparatory and measuring operations. This makes it possible to prevent reverse flow of odor in the sewer pipe even if the initial water level for initiating the substantial urine-volume measuring operation is lowered below the water-seal water level.

The flush toilet unit according to this embodiment is designed to allow a water flow path, such as the pressure conduit, to be washed. This can provide enhanced operational reliability in the flush toilet unit.

A flush toilet unit according to a seventh embodiment of the present invention will be described below. The flush toilet unit according to the seventh embodiment is different from the flush toilet unit according to the fifth embodiment, in terms of a mechanism for setting the initial water level in the bowl to initiate the substantial urine-volume measuring operation. Thus, the following description will be made about only a difference between the respective flush toilet units of the fifth and seventh embodiments. Further, in the related figures, the common element or component is defined by the same reference numeral or code, and its description will be omitted.

FIG. 39 is a sectional view showing the flush toilet unit according to the sixth embodiment of the present invention, and FIG. 40 is a sectional view showing a pooling-water tank for use in setting an initial water level in the flush toilet unit.

As shown in FIGS. 39 and 40, the flush toilet unit 700 comprises a western-style flush toilet 402, and a cabinet 404 (not shown in FIG. 39) housing various functional sections or elements/devices for operating the flush toilet unit 700.

The western-style flush toilet 402 includes a bowl 406, a rim water-spouting nozzle 407 for spouting flushing water, and a trap portion 408 adapted to form a water seal for the bowl 406, and a water jet nozzle 409 adapted to inject flushing water toward the trap portion 408 to serve as syphon-phenomenon generation means.

The cabinet 404 houses a water-passage switching means 416 composed of a water-feed valve for allowing city water fed thereto to be spouted/injected as flushing water, a pressure sensor 418 for measuring a hydrostatic pressure at the bottom portion of the bowl 406 to serve as water-level measurement means, and control means 420 (not shown in FIG. 39) for controlling the water-passage switching means 416 and calculating a volume of urine voided by the user. Further, a manual operation/display section 422 (not shown in FIG. 39) is attached to a wall surface of a lavatory to transmit a signal for operating the control means.

The trap portion 408 has a distal or outlet end fluidically connected to a sewer pipe 426 through a sewer socket 424.

The rim water-spouting nozzle 407 is designed to spout flushing water from an upper portion of the bowl 406 in a direction tangent to a rim of the bowl so as to wash a wall surface of the bowl 406. The water jet nozzle 409 is designed to inject flushing water from the bottom portion of the bowl 406 toward the trap portion 408 so as to induce a syphon phenomenon in the trap portion 408.

The water-passage switching means 416 is designed to allow flushing water fed from a city water system to be alternately spouted/injected from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 and the water jet nozzle 409 according to a control signal from the control means.

The pressure sensor 418 is designed to measure a hydrostatic pressure of the bottom portion of the bowl 406, which is led by a pressure conduit 418a fluidically connected to the water jet nozzle 409.

As shown in FIG. 39, the pressure conduit 418a extends from the water jet nozzle 409 to the pressure sensor 418 through an enlarged conduit 418b and a first on/off valve 418c to provide fluid communication therebetween. The enlarged conduit 418b is interposed in the pressure conduit 418a, and formed to have a fairly larger sectional area than that of the pressure conduit 418a. The first on/off valve 418c interposed between the enlarged conduit 418b and the pressure sensor 418 is designed to be opened during a water-level measuring operation performed by the pressure sensor 418, and closed in an inactive state of the water-level measuring operation, according to a control signal from the control means 420.

As shown in FIG. 39, a first three-way valve 702 is provided between the water-passage switching means 416 and the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. The first three-way valve 702 has a first port 702a and a second port 702b which are to be fluidically connected to one another so as to allow water to be fed from the water-passage switching means 416 directly to the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. The first three-way valve 702 further has a third port 702c fluidically connected to a water receiving space defined in a pooling water tank 704 to prevent reverse flow. When the first port 702a and the third port 702c of the first three-way valve 702 are fluidically connected to one another, water is fed from the water-passage switching means 416 to the pooling water tank 704. Thus, in this embodiment, the water-passage switching means 416 and the first three-way valve 702 serve as water-feed means for feeding water to the pooling water tank.

As shown in FIG. 40, a washing tank 706 is arranged to surround the pooling water tank 704 in such a manner that water spilled from the pooling water tank 704 flows in the washing tank 706. A water-feed pipe 702d fluidically connected to the third port 702c of the first three-way valve 702 is designed such that a downstream or outlet end thereof is disposed at a position spaced apart from a top surface of the pooling water tank 704 so as to prevent reverse flow from the pooling water tank 704 toward the water supply source. The pooling water tank 704 has an outlet pipe 704s extending from a bottom thereof to allow water in the pooling water tank 704 to be spouted from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 through a third on/off valve 710 fluidically connected to the outlet pipe 407.

The washing tank 706 is provided with a float switch 706b serving as water-level detection means. The float switch 706b is operable, when water fed to the pooling water tank 704 is spilled to the washing tank 706, and a water level in the washing tank 706 reaches a given value, to stop feeding water to the pooling water tank 704. Thus, a volume of water to be retained in the pooling water tank 704 is determined by a capacity or dimensions of the pooling water tank 704, and a constant volume of water is retained in the pooling water tank. The washing tank 706 has an overflow pipe 706c fluidically connected thereto at a height above the above given water level for the float switch 706b. This overflow pipe 706c is fluidically connected to the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 through a fourth on/off valve 714 (FIG. 39). Thus, if water-feed to the pooling water tank 704 is stopped due to malfunction of the float switch 407b or the like, water in the washing tank 706 will be discharged to the bowl 406 so as to prevent water from flowing out of the washing tank 706.

Further, an outlet pipe 706a is fluidically connected to a bottom of the washing tank 706. As shown in FIG. 39, the outlet pipe 706a is fluidically connected to the enlarged conduit 418b through a pump 708 and a fifth on/off valve 712. Thus, when the pump 708 is activated in a state after the fifth on/off valve 712 is opened, water in the washing tank 706 is supplied to the enlarged conduit 418b.

As shown in FIG. 39, a vent valve 716 is fluidically connected to the sewer socket 424 through a sixth on/off valve 718 to release a negative pressure generated in the sewer pipe. Further, a sewer pressure sensor 720 is fluidically connected to the sewer socket 424 through a second three-way valve 722 to monitor a fluctuation of pressure in the sewer pipe. In this embodiment, Durgo™ (available from Morinaga Engineering Co. Ltd., Japan) or Tsuuki-ban™ (available from KITZ Co., Japan) is used as the vent valve 716. Alternatively, the vent valve 716 may be any other suitable conventional vent valve used for releasing a pressure in sewer pipes. The sewer pressure sensor 720 is fluidically connected to the sewer pipe through the sewer socket 424 so as to measure a pressure in the sewer pipe. The flush toilet unit 700 according to this embodiment is designed to correct a measured pooled-volume value in accordance with a pressure in the sewer pipe which is measured by the sewer pressure sensor 720. In this embodiment, when a pressure in the sewer pipe is lowered, atmospheric pressure is introduced into the sewer pipe through the vent valve 716 to prevent a high negative pressure from being generated in the sewer pipe.

With reference to FIG. 41, an operation of the flush toilet unit 700 according to the seventh embodiment of the present invention will be described below. FIG. 41 is a time-series graph showing the operation of the flush toilet unit 700.

As shown in FIG. 41, in a standby state, a level of pooled water in the bowl 406 of the flush toilet unit 700 is set at an initial water level indicated by “Y” in FIG. 39, and a manual operation/display section 422 displays an indication “Measurement Mode”. Then, when a user of the flush toilet unit 700 manually operates a preparation switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422, or personal authentication means (not shown), such as ID card or ID tag, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. Simultaneously, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the first on/off valve 418c and the second three-way valve 722. According to this control signal, respective fluid communications between the enlarged conduit 418b and the pressure sensor 418 and between the sewer pressure sensor 720 and the sewer pipe are provided. The control means 420 further sends a control signal to the pressure sensor 418 and a sewer pressure sensor 510 to activate them.

After a lapse of a given time-period, the indication of the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Under Measurement”. Then, the user voids urine into the bowl 406. Along with the urination by the user, the water level in the bowl 406 is gradually raised, and finally changed to a water level “Z”, as shown in FIG. 41. When a variation in water level measured by the pressure sensor 418 disappears, the control means 420 determines that the urination by the user is completed, and initiates calculation of a volume of urine voided by the user. This operation for calculating a volume of urine voided by the user, which is to be performed by urine calculation means incorporated in the control means 420, is substantially the same as that in the fourth embodiment, and its description will be omitted.

In sync with initiation of the voided-urine volume calculation, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the pressure sensor 418 and the sewer pressure sensor 720 to turn off or deactivate them, and sends a control signal to the first on/off valve 418c to close it. The control means 420 further sends a control signal to the sixth on/off valve 718 to close it so as to block air-intake from the vent valve 716. The control means 420 further operates to open the fifth on/off valve, and activate the pump 708. Though this operation, water in the washing tank 706 is discharged from the water jet nozzle 409 through the pump 708, the fifth on/off valve 712, the enlarged conduit 418b, the second on/off valve 418d and the pressure conduit 418a, so as to wash these paths.

After completion of the substantial urine-volume measuring operation, the user manually operates a bowl-flushing switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422. In response to this manual operation, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. Simultaneously, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the water-passage switching means 416 to allow the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 to spout water therefrom for a given time-period. Thus, the water level in the bowl 406 is raised to the over-flow water level “H” as shown in FIG. 41. During this operation, water fed from of the water-passage switching means 416 flows into the first port 702a of the first three-way valve 702 and then flows out of the second port 702b thereof. Then, this water is spouted from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. Then, the control means 420 operates to stop the water supply from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407, and allows the water jet nozzle 409 to inject water therefrom. The water injected from the water jet nozzle 409 generates a syphon phenomenon, and thereby the water level in the bowl 406 is lowered to a water level “X” or the pooled-water volume in the bowl 406 becomes approximately zero. Thus, in this embodiment, the water jet nozzle 409 serves as pooled-water discharge means.

After water injection from the water jet nozzle 409 for a given time-period, the control means 420 operates to stop the water injection from the water jet nozzle 409. Simultaneously, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the third on/off valve 710 to open it so as to allow the constant volume of water retained in the pooling water tank 704 to be fed into the bowl 406 through the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. After the third on/off valve 710 is opened for a given time-period, the water in the pooling water tank 704 is entirely fed into the bowl 404. In this embodiment, the pooled-water volume in the bowl 406 before water-feed from the pooling water tank 704 is approximately zero. Thus, a pooled-water volume in the bowl 406 after entirely feeding the water which has been retained in the pooling water tank 704 in the constant volume has approximately the same value at all times, and the initial water level “Y” is determined by this pooled-water volume. In this embodiment, the initial water level “Y” is set at a value higher than a water-seal water level by 25 mm.

After the entire water in the pooling water tank 704 is fed into the bowl 406, the control means 420 operates to close the third valve 710. Simultaneously, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the first three-way valve 702 so as to provide fluid communication between the first port 702a and third port 702c thereof Thus, water fed from the water-passage switching means 416 flows in the empty pooling water tank 704 through the first three-way valve 702. Along with the water flowing in the pooling water tank 704, a water level in the pooling water tank will be raised. When the pooling water tank 704 is filled with the water, excessive water is spilled from the pooling water tank 704, and flows in the washing tank 706. When a water level in the washing tank 706 is raised up to the given value, the float switch 706b provided in the washing tank is activated to send a signal to the control means 420. In response to this signal, the control means 420 operates to stop water-feed from the water-passage switching means 416. When the water-feed from the water-passage switching means 416 is stopped, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Measurement Mode”, and the flush toilet unit 700 is returned to the standby state.

During the above operation, in response to initiation of the water-feed to the pooling water tank 704, the control means operates to open the fourth on/off valve 714. Thus, if the float switch 706b cannot stop the water-feed, water in the washing water tank 706 will be discharged into the bowl 406 through the fourth on/off valve 714 and the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 so as to prevent overflow in the washing tank 706.

Further, in the standby state, when there is the risk of occurrence of a non-water-seal water level due to a pressure fluctuation in the sewer pipe at a given value or more (25 mm Aqa or more in this embodiment), the control means 420 operates to supply a given volume of water from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 to raise the water level in the bowl. Thus, in this embodiment, the control means 420 and the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 serve as water supply means.

When the flush toilet unit according to this embodiment is used for defecation, instead of the urine-volume measuring operation, a user may push a defecation switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422 before use. In response to the pushing of the defecation switch (not shown), the control means 420 allows the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 to supply water so as to raise the pooled-water level in the bowl 406 up to the overflow water level “H”. Generally, a flow rate of water spouted from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 is about 20 L/min, and therefore a time-period required for raising the water level up to the overflow water level “H” is about 10 sec or less. Thus, there is no risk of deterioration in user-friendliness. The overflow water level “H” makes it possible to provide a sufficient surface area of pooled water and reliably generate the syphon phenomenon. The determination on the purpose for defecation may be automatically performed in conjunction with a seating detection mechanism. For example, it may be detected that the preparation switch is not pushed within a given time-period after seating.

The flush toilet unit 700 according to this embodiment is designed to have the initial water level in the standby state. Thus, if the flush toilet unit 700 is not used for a relatively long time-period, the initial water level is likely to be lowered due to vaporization. Generally, a lowering rate of water level is about 1 mm/24 hours. In this embodiment, the control means 420 is operable, when the flush toilet unit 700 is not used for 12 hours, to allow a bowl-flushing operation so as to reset the initial water level “Y”.

In the flush toilet unit according to the seventh embodiment of the present invention, the initial water level for initiating the substantial urine-volume measuring operation can be accurately set based on capacity or dimensions of the pooling water tank. This makes it possible to perform the urine-volume measuring operation with a high degree of accuracy.

The flush toilet unit according to this embodiment is designed such that the bowl has the initial water level in the standby state. This makes to possible to reduce a time-period required for a preparatory operation for measurement.

The flush toilet unit according to this embodiment is designed to allow a water flow path, such as the pressure conduit, to be washed. This can provide enhanced operational reliability in the flush toilet unit.

The flush toilet unit according to the seventh embodiment of the present invention is designed to generate a syphon phenomenon using the water jet nozzle serving as pooled-water discharge means, so as to discharge pooled water in the bowl. Alternatively, the bowl may have a bottom formed or provided with a discharge port (not shown), and an on/off valve fluidically connected to the discharge port. In this case, the on/off valve may be opened to reduce the pooled-water volume down to zero, and then water in the pooling water tank may be supplied to the bowl to set the initial water level.

A flush toilet unit according to an eighth embodiment of the present invention will be described below. The flush toilet unit according to the eighth embodiment is different from the flush toilet unit according to the seventh embodiment, in terms of a mechanism for setting the initial water level in the bowl to initiate the substantial urine-volume measuring operation. Thus, the following description will be made about only a difference between the respective flush toilet units of the seventh and eighth embodiments. Further, in the related figures, the common element or component is defined by the same reference numeral or code, and its description will be omitted.

FIG. 42 is a sectional view showing the flush toilet unit according to the eighth embodiment of the present invention, and FIG. 43 is a sectional view showing a pooling-water tank for use in setting an initial water level in the flush toilet unit.

As shown in FIGS. 42 and 43, in the flush toilet unit 800 according to the eighth embodiment of the present invention, one port of each of a seventh on/off valve 804 and an eighth on/off valve 802 is fluidically connected to one port of a water-passage switching means 416 for feeding water a rim water-spouting nozzle 407. The other port 802a of the eighth on/off valve 802 is fluidically connected to the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. The other port 804a of the seventh on/off valve 804 is fluidically connected to a pooling water tank 805. As shown in FIG. 43, the pooling water tank 805 has a hermetically-sealed or closed structure. One port of 806a of a third on/off valve 806 is fluidically connected to the pooling water tank 805 at a bottom wall thereof. This port 806a of the third on/off valve 806 is also fluidically connected to a fifth on/off valve 712. The other port 806b of the third on/off valve 806 is fluidically connected to the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. An overflow pipe 808a is fluidically connected to the pooling water tank 805 at a side wall thereof. The overflow pipe 808a is fluidically connected to the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 through a fourth on/off valve 808. Furthermore, a compressor 810 serving as forced supply means is fluidically connected to the pooling water tank 805 at a top wall thereof through a ninth on/off valve 812.

With reference to FIG. 44, an operation of the flush toilet unit 800 according to the eighth embodiment of the present invention will be described below. FIG. 44 is a time-series graph showing the operation of the flush toilet unit 88.

As shown in FIG. 44, in a standby state, a level of pooled water in a bowl 406 of the flush toilet unit 800 is set at an initial water level indicated by “H” in FIG. 42, and a manual operation/display section 422 displays an indication “Measurement Mode”. Then, when a user of the flush toilet unit 800 manually operates a preparation switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422, or personal authentication means (not shown), such as ID card or ID tag, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. Simultaneously, control means 420 sends a control signal to the water-passage switching means 416 so as to allow water to be injected from the water jet nozzle 409. In response to water injected from the water jet nozzle 409, a syphon phenomenon is generated in a trap portion 408, and therefore the pooled water in the bowl 406 is sucked to reduced a water volume in the bowl 406 down to be approximately zero. Thus, in this embodiment, the water jet nozzle 409 serves as pooled-water discharge means.

Further, the control means 420 operates to open the ninth on/off valve 812 to increase a pressure in the pooling tank 805. After water injection from the water jet nozzle 409 for a given time-period, the control means operates to close the ninth on/off valve 812, and open a first on/off valve 418c and the third on/off valve 806. When the third on/off valve 806 is opened, a given volume of water retained in the pooling water tank 805 is spouted from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. During this operation, an inner space of the pooling water tank is pressurized by the compressor 810 or forced supply means. Thus, water in the pooling water tank is quickly fed to the bowl 406 through the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. When the water in the pooling water tank 805 is entirely fed to the bowl 406, the bowl 406 has an initial water level “Y”. In this embodiment, the pooled-water volume (water level X) in the bowl 406 before water-feed from the pooling water tank 805 is approximately zero. Thus, the initial water level “Y” is determined by the volume of water which has been retained in the pooling water tank. After the entire water in the pooling water tank 805 is fed into the bowl 604, the control means 420 operates to close the third on/off valve 806. The control means 420 also sends a control signal to the second three-way valve 722 so as to provide fluid communication between a sewer pressure sensor 720 and a sewer pipe. Simultaneously, the control means 420 also sends a control signal to a pressure sensor 418 and the sewer pressure sensor 720 to activate them.

Further, the indication of the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Under Measurement”. Then, the user voids urine into the bowl 406. Along with the urination by the user, the water level in the bowl 406 is gradually raised, and finally changed to a water level “Z”, as shown in FIG. 44. When a pressure variation detected by pressure sensor 418 disappears, or the user manually operates a urination completion switch, the control means 420 determines that the urination by the user is completed, and initiates an operation for calculating a volume of urine voided by the user. This operation for calculating a volume of urine voided by the user, which is to be performed by urine calculation means incorporated in the control means 420, is substantially the same as that in the fourth embodiment, and its description will be omitted.

In sync with initiation of the voided-urine volume calculation, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the pressure sensor 418 and the sewer pressure sensor 720 to turn off or deactivate them, and sends a control signal to the first on/off valve 418c to close it. The control means 420 further sends a control signal to the sixth on/off valve 718 to close it so as to block air-intake from the vent valve 716.

After completion of the substantial urine-volume measuring operation, the user manually operates a bowl-flushing switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422. In response to this manual operation, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. Simultaneously, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the water-passage switching means 416 and the eighth on/off valve 802 to allow the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 to spout water therefrom for a given time-period. Thus, the water level in the bowl 406 is raised to the over-flow water level “H” as shown in FIG. 44. During this operation, water fed from of the water-passage switching means 416 is spouted from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 through the eight on/off valve 802. Then, the control means 420 operates to stop the water supply from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407, and allows the water jet nozzle 409 to inject water therefrom. The water injected from the water jet nozzle 409 generates a syphon phenomenon, and thereby the water level in the bowl 406 is lowered.

After water injection from the water jet nozzle 409 for a given time-period, the control means 420 operates to stop the water injection from the water jet nozzle 409, and allow the rim water-spouting nozzle to re-spout water therefrom so as to raise the water level in the bowl 406 up to the overflow water level “H”. After the water level in the bowl 406 is raised to the overflow water level “H”, the control means 420 operates to close the eighth on/off valve 802 and open the seventh on/off valve 804 and the fourth on/off valve 808. In response to open of the seventh on/off valve 804, a water level in the pooling water tank 805 is raised. When the water level in the pooling tank 805 reaches a height at which the overflow pipe 808 is fluidically connected thereto, water in the pooling tank 805 is discharged into the bowl 406 through the fourth on/off valve 808 and the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. Thus, a volume of water retained in the pooling water tank 805 can be maintained at a constant value.

Then, the control means 420 operates to close the seventh on/off valve 804 and the fourth on/off valve 808. Further, the control means 420 operates to open the ninth on/off valve 812 for a given time-period to increase the internal pressure of the pooling water tank 805.

Then, the control means 420 operates to open the fifth on/off valve 712. In response to open of the fifth on/off valve 712, water in the pooling water tank 805 is discharged into the bowl 406 through the fifth on/off valve 712, an enlarged conduit 418b, a second on/off valve 418d, a pressure conduit 418a and the water jet nozzle 409, according to the interior pressure thereof. Through this operation, a flow path possibly having inflow feculences including urine can be effectively washed.

Then, the control means operates to close the fifth on/off valve 712, and re-open the seventh on/off valve 804 and the fourth on/off valve 808, so as to allow water to be stored in the pooling water tank 805. After the given volume of water is stored in the pooling water tank 805, the control means 805 operates to stop water-feed from the water-passage switching means 416, and returns to the standby state.

In the flush toilet unit according to the eighth embodiment of the present invention, the initial water level for initiating the substantial urine-volume measuring operation can be accurately set based on capacity or dimensions of the pooling water tank. This makes it possible to perform the urine-volume measuring operation with a high degree of accuracy.

In the flush toilet unit according to this embodiment, the forced supply means allows water in the pooling water tank to be rapidly supplied to the bowl through the rim water-spouting nozzle. This makes it possible to reduce a time-period required for setting the initial water level.

The flush toilet unit according to this embodiment is designed to allow a water flow path, such as the pressure conduit, to be washed. This can provide enhanced operational reliability in the flush toilet unit.

A flush toilet according to a ninth embodiment of the present invention will be described below.

A flush toilet unit according to a ninth embodiment of the present invention will be described below. The flush toilet unit according to the ninth embodiment is different from the flush toilet unit according to the eighth embodiment, in terms of a mechanism for setting the initial water level in the bowl to initiate the substantial urine-volume measuring operation. Thus, the following description will be made about only a difference between the respective flush toilet units of the eighth and ninth embodiments. Further, in the related figures, the common element or component is defined by the same reference numeral or code, and its description will be omitted.

FIG. 45 is a sectional view showing the flush toilet unit according to the ninth embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 45, the flush toilet unit 900 according to the ninth embodiment of the present invention comprises a western-style flush toilet 402, and a cabinet 404 (see FIG. 24) housing various functional sections for operating the flush toilet unit 900.

The western-style flush toilet 402 includes a bowl 406, a rim water-spouting nozzle 407 for spouting flushing water, a trap portion 408 for forming a water seal for the bowl 406, and a water jet nozzle 409 for injecting flushing water toward the trap portion 408.

The cabinet 404 houses a water-passage switching means 416 composed of a water-feed valve for allowing city water fed thereto to be spouted/injected as flushing water, a pressure sensor 418 for measuring a hydrostatic pressure at a bottom portion of the bowl 406 to serve as water-level measurement means, and control means 420 adapted to control the water-passage switching means 416 and provided with urine-volume calculation means for calculating a volume of urine voided by a user. Further, a manual operation/display section 422 is attached to a wall surface of a lavatory to transmit a signal for operating the control means 420.

The trap portion 408 has a distal or outlet end fluidically connected to a sewer 426 through a sewer socket 424.

The rim water-spouting nozzle 407 is designed to spout flushing water from an upper portion of the bowl 406 in a direction tangent to a rim of the bowl 406 so as to wash a wall surface of the bowl 406. The water jet nozzle 409 is designed to inject flushing water from the bottom portion of the bowl 406 toward the trap portion 408 so as to induce a syphon phenomenon in the trap portion 408.

The pressure sensor 418 is designed to measure a hydrostatic pressure of the bottom portion of the bowl 406, which is led by a pressure conduit 418a fluidically connected to the water jet nozzle 409.

As shown in FIG. 45, the pressure conduit 418a extends from the water jet nozzle 409 to the pressure sensor 418 through a first on/off valve 418c to provide fluid communication therebetween. The first on/off valve 418c is designed to be opened during a water-level measuring operation performed by the pressure sensor 418, and closed in an inactive state of the water-level measuring operation, according to a control signal from the control means 420. A silicon oil tank serving as constant-pressure means is fluidically connected to a conduit between the first on/off valve and the pressure sensor 418, through a tenth on/off valve 910.

The silicon oil tank 908 is disposed above the pressure sensor 418, and houses silicon oil. Silicon oil has a specific gravity less than water, and no insolubility relative to water. Thus, if water and silicon oil come into contact with one another in the conduit between the tenth on/off valve 910 and the silicon oil tank, they will are maintained in a separated state. In addition, silicon oil is primarily made of low-volatile materials. Thus, a weight of silicon oil in the silicon oil tank 908 will be maintained at a constant value over a long time-period substantially without reduction in weight due to vaporization etc. When the first on/off valve 418c is closed, and the tenth on/off valve 910 is opened, and a constant pressure will act on the pressure sensor 418 from the silicon oil and a pressure head of water in the conduit all the time. The flush toilet unit according to this embodiment is designed to calibrate the pressure sensor 418 using this constant pressure.

The control means 420 is designed to control the water-passage switching means 416 according user's manual operation or a pre-stored program. The urine-volume calculation means (not shown) incorporated in control means 420 is designed to measure a level of water in the bowl 406 in accordance with a pressure measured by the pressure sensor 418, and calculate a volume of urine voided by a user. The water-passage switching means 416 is designed to allow flushing water fed from a city water system to be alternately spouted/injected from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 and the water jet nozzle 409 according to a control signal from the control means 420. The water-passage switching means 416 has an outlet port for the rim water-spouting nozzle 407, which is fluidically connected to a first port 902a of a first three-way valve 902. The first three-way valve 902 has a second port 902b is fluidically connected to an inlet port 904a of a solenoid valve 904 serving as a water-feed valve. That is, the inlet port 904a of the solenoid valve 904 is fluidically connected to a water supply source, and an outlet port 904b of the solenoid valve 904 is fluidically connected to the rim water-spouting nozzle 407. The inlet port 904a of the solenoid valve 904 is fluidically connected to one end of a U-shaped feed-water trap 906. The feed-water trap 906 is fluidically connected to the sewer pipe through the sewer socket 424. The first three-way valve 902 has a third port is fluidically connected to the pressure conduit 418a through a fifth on/off valve 712.

Further, as shown in FIG. 45, the sewer pressure sensor 720 is fluidically connected to the sewer socket through a second three-way valve 722 to monitor a fluctuation of pressure in the sewer pipe. When a first port 722a and a second port 722b of the second three-way valve 722 are fluidically connected to one another, the sewer pressure sensor 720 can be fluidically connected to sewer pipe through the second three-way valve 722 so as to measure a pressure in the sewer. The flush toilet unit 900 according to this embodiment is designed to correct a measured pooled-volume value in accordance with a pressure in the sewer pipe which is measured by the sewer pressure sensor 720. Further, when the second port 722b and a third port 722c of the second three-way valve 722 are fluidically connected to one another, the sewer pressure sensor 720 is exposed to atmospheric pressure through the second three-way valve 722. The flush toilet unit 900 according to this embodiment is designed to calibrate the sewer pressure sensor 720 using atmospheric pressure.

With reference to FIGS. 46 and 47, an operation of the flush toilet unit 900 according to the ninth embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 46 is a time-series graph showing an operation of the flush toilet unit 900 in a urine-volume measurement mode, and FIG. 47 is a graph showing an operation of the flush toilet unit 900 in a normal mode or when used as a regular flush toilet.

As shown in FIG. 46, in a standby state, a level of pooled water in the bowl 406 of the flush toilet unit 900 is set at an initial water level indicated by “Y” in FIG. 45, and the manual operation/display section 422 displays an indication “Measurement Mode”. Then, when a user of the flush toilet unit 800 manually operates a preparation switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. Simultaneously, the control means 420 operates to activate the pressure sensor 418. The control means 420 further sends a control signal to the second three-way valve 722 and tenth on/off valve 910 to provide fluid communication between the second port 722b and the third port 722c of the second three-way valve 722, and open the tenth on/off valve 910. Thus, an atmospheric pressure acts on the sewer pressure sensor 720, and a pressure of the silicon oil and water head in the conduit acts on the pressure sensor 418. The control means 420 operates to calibrate the sewer pressure sensor 720 and the pressure sensor 418 using these pressures which are kept approximately constant.

After a lapse of a given time-period, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Under Measurement” to inform the user of a ready state. Simultaneously, the measurement means 420 operates to close the tenth on/off valve 910, and provide fluid communication between the first port 722a and the second port 722b of the second three-way valve 722. Further, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the first on/off valve 418 to open it. A liquid level in the silicon oil tank 908 serving as constant-pressure mean is not changed before and after the turn-on/off of the tenth on/off valve 910 and the first on/off valve 418c. After the indication is changed to “Under Measurement”, the user voids urine into the bowl 406. In conjunction with the urination, the initial water level in the bowl 406 is gradually raised, and finally changed to a water level “Z”, as shown in FIG. 46.

When a variation in water level measured by the pressure sensor 418 disappears after completion of the urination by the user, the control means 420 determines that the urination is completed, and initiates calculation of a urine volume. This operation for a urine volume is substantially the same as that in the fourth embodiment, and its description will be omitted.

When the completion of the urination is confirmed, the control means 420 operates to close the first on/off valve 418c, and open the fifth on/off valve 712. Simultaneously, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the water-passage switching means 416 to start feeding water from the outlet port for the rim water-spouting port 407. Water fed from the rim-side outlet port of the water-passage switching means 416 reaches the fifth on/off valve 712 through the first and third ports 902a, 902c of the first three-way valve 902. The water reaching to the fifth on/off valve 712 is discharged into the bowl 406 through the pressure conduit 418a and the water jet nozzle 409. Through this operation, the pressure conduit 418a and the water jet nozzle 409 are washed.

After completion of the substantial urine-volume measuring operation, the user manually operates a bowl-flushing switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422. In response to this manual operation, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. Simultaneously, the control means 420 operates to close the fifth on/off valve 712, and open the solenoid valve 904. Further, the control means 420 operates to provide fluid communication between the first and second ports 902a, 902b of the first three-way valve 902. Thus, water fed from the rim-side outlet port of the water-passage switching means 416 is spouted to the bowl 406 through the rim water-spouting nozzle 407, because each of the first three-way valve 902 and the solenoid valve 904 is closed. This water from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 allows the water level in the bowl 406 to be raised to an overflow water level “H” as shown in FIG. 46. After water supply from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 for a given time-period, the control means 416 operates to close the solenoid valve 904, and switch the water-passage switching means 416 into the other outlet port so as to allow the water jet nozzle 40 to inject water therefrom. The water injected from the water jet nozzle 40 generates a syphon phenomenon to allow the water in the bowl 406 to be sucked into the sewer pipe. Thus, a water volume in the bowl 604 becomes approximately zero.

After water injection from the water jet nozzle 409 for a given time-period, the control means 420 operates to switch the water-passage switching means 416 into the rim-side outlet port so as to allow the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 to re-supply water therefrom. When water is re-supplied from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 for a given time-period, and the water level in the bowl 406 reaches the initial water level “Y”, the control means 420 sends a control signal to the solenoid valve 904 to open it. The solenoid valve 904 is quickly opened in response to the control signal. This makes it possible to supply water from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 at a constant flow rate so as to accurately set the initial water level. Further, when the solenoid valve 904 is opened, water flowing out of the second port 902b of the first three-way valve 902 is introduced into the feed-water trap, and discharged to the sewer 426 through the sewer socket 424. In this manner, water flowing in the solenoid valve 904 when opened is introduced into the feed-water trap and discharged to the sewer 426. This makes it possible to eliminate adverse affects, such as water hammer, which would otherwise occur when the solenoid valve 904 is rapidly closed.

After completion of water supply from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is returned to “Measurement Mode”, and the flush toilet unit 900 is returned to the standby state.

With reference to FIG. 47, an operation of the flush toilet unit 900 according to the ninth embodiment of the present invention, wherein it is used in a normal mode or when used as a regular flush toilet.

In the standby state of the flush toilet unit 900, if a user sits on a flush toilet seat without manually operating a preparation switch (not shown) of the manual operation/display section 422, or performing an authentication operation using personal authentication means (not shown), such as ID card or ID tag, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”. Simultaneously, the control means 420 operates to switch the water-passage switching means 416 into the rim-side outlet port, and open the solenoid valve 904. The control means 420 also operates to provide fluid communication between the first and second ports 902a, 902b of the first three-way valve 902. Thus, water is supplied from the rim water-spouting nozzle 407 to raise the water level in the bowl 406 to the overflow water level “H”.

After a lapse of a given time-period, the control means 420 operates to stop the water supply from the water-spouting nozzle 407, change the display on the manual operation/display section 422 to “Normal Mode”. When the user manually operates a bowl flushing switch (not shown) after defecation, the display on the manual operation/display section 422 is changed to “Preparatory State”, and a bowl flushing operation is initiated. The bowl flushing operation is the same as that in the urine-volume measuring operation, and its description will be omitted.

In the flush toilet unit according to the ninth embodiment of the present invention, water supply from the rim water-spouting nozzle can be quickly stopped using the solenoid valve serving as water-feed valve. This makes it possible to accurately set the initial water level for initiating the substantial urine-volume measuring operation.

In the flush toilet unit according to this embodiment, an inlet side of the solenoid valve is fluidically connected to the feed-water trap. Thus, if the solenoid valve is rapidly closed, water to be fed to the solenoid valve can be released to the feed-water trap so as to prevent occurrence of adverse affects, such as water hammer.

The flush toilet unit according to the ninth embodiment of the -present invention is designed to supply water from the rim water-spouting nozzle for a given time-period and then closed the solenoid valve so as to set the initial water level “Y”. Alternatively, the pressure sensor may be activated during water supply from the rim water-spouting nozzle, and close the solenoid valve immediately after the pressure sensor detects the initial water level “Y”. In this case, even if a flow rate of water from the rim water-spouting nozzle is not constant, the initial water level “Y” can be accurately set.

The flush toilet unit according to the ninth embodiment of the present invention is designed to set the initial water level “Y” in accordance with only water supply from the rim water-spouting nozzle. Alternatively, any other suitable additional water-feed means (not shown) may be used in combination to finely adjust the initial water level “Y”. In this case, initial water level “Y” may be roughly set using the water supply from the rim water-spouting nozzle, and then finely adjusted by supplying water from the additional water-feed means in accordance with a water level measured by the pressure sensor. In a flush toilet unit equipped with a sanitary (excretory region) washing device, water discharged into a bowl during an operation for self-cleaning a nozzle of the device may be used as the additional water-feed means.

As mentioned above in detail, the present invention can provide a flush toilet unit capable of readily measuring a volume of voided urine and its related index with a high degree of accuracy. In addition, the flush toilet unit according to the present invention makes it possible to reduce a time lag due to a preparatory period for measurement so as to provide enhanced user-friendliness during urination and achieve a low measurement cost per cycle and high-accuracy urine-volume estimation with high reliability. Furthermore, the flush toilet unit according to the present invention makes it possible to measure a urine volume with a high degree of accuracy without making a significant change to a conventional water-closet structure.