Title:
Smart automated bath and shower
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is designed to allow a single person or a group of people the ability to control and access shower settings through an automated process. An access panel, mounted outside of the shower, is utilized to select the pressure and temperature of the shower and a switch located in the shower is utilized to direct the water flow to the faucet or the shower head. The switch also contains buttons which allow a user to adjust the temperature and pressure of the water after the system is activated. To use the system, a user first presses a button on the access panel which automatically adjusts the temperature and pressure of the water to a predetermined setting. The user then uses the switch to direct the flow of the water or to fine tune the pressure and temperature of the water. The present invention can also be accessed remotely via a remote control which can control the access panel.



Inventors:
Avigdor, Meir (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/431901
Publication Date:
11/15/2007
Filing Date:
05/09/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K3/28; A47K3/022
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060260030Toilet seat collapsible protection systemNovember, 2006Murray et al.
20060053545LONG HAIR SHAMPOO BASINMarch, 2006Schulken
20090199330Spring wire lift apparatus for toilet seatAugust, 2009Tong
20060015999Cleaner/anti-microbial/fungal dispensing systemJanuary, 2006Sieradzki
20070033729Multi port adjustable shower fixtureFebruary, 2007Faux
20090113612Vacuum drainage system for unclogging a clogged drain, drain clean-out device therefor, and method of unclogging a clogged drainMay, 2009Dodson
20080109957Tool for lifting, supporting and transporting a toiletMay, 2008Blancke
20070101489Spa Capacitive SwitchMay, 2007Hutchings
20060289347Dirt outDecember, 2006Anasa Haley
20070124856Spa jet yielding increased air entrainment ratesJune, 2007Santamarina et al.
20090019631Shower chair dignity matJanuary, 2009Ruttler



Primary Examiner:
FETSUGA, ROBERT M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Avi Outmezguine (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A method for controlling access to a shower comprising the steps of: activating access panel utilizing one or more setting keys located on said access panel, wherein said setting keys store predetermined settings for the pressure and temperature of said shower; and fine tuning said shower settings by utilizing a pressure control keys and temperature control keys located on said access panel.

2. A method for controlling access to a shower according to claim 1, wherein a user utilizes a keypad to enter an authorization code to gain access to said setting keys, said pressure keys, and said temperature keys.

3. A method for controlling access to a shower according to claim 1, wherein said access panel is controlled by a remote control unit.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to the field of automating shower control. More specifically, the present invention provides a system and method for controlling access to a shower through an access panel which is capable of controlling the operation of the bath and shower.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The process that a person utilizes to take a shower has remained unchanged for the majority of the last century. Each time a person takes a shower, he/she first adjusts the hot and cold knobs of the bath faucet until the water is at the desired temperature and pressure. The person then turns a knob or uses a similar mechanism to direct the water from the faucet to the shower head.

There are many variations on the setup that the bath may have. For example, some baths do not contain a faucet and only contain a shower head. These are often referred to as shower stalls since it is only possible to take a shower in one. Other baths may only contain a single knob for adjusting the temperature of the water. However, in all cases, the operation of the shower is mechanical and not automated.

Therefore, there clearly exists a need for a system which automates the act of showering in an efficient manner. Such a system should allow the person to pre-set any number of desired temperature and pressure settings which is controlled through an access panel located in the proximity of the bath or shower stall. The system may also be controlled remotely through the uses of a remote control.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is designed to allow a single person or a group of people the ability to control and access shower settings through an automated process. The invention comprises an access panel which is located in the proximity of the bath or shower stall and a switch which is located either inside the shower stall or at any other desired location. In the preferred embodiment, the access panel consists of a series of buttons (for example a keypad) which allows the user to enter in temperature and pressure settings which will be utilized to control the water used in the bath. The access panel may be programmed with “hot keys” which allow a user to simply press a button to access a predetermined pressure and temperature setting. The access panel may also be controlled via a remote control which allows the user to enter the temperature and pressure of the shower remotely.

The rear of the access panel contains an input for the hot and cold water streams from the house's plumbing and two outputs: one to the faucet and one to the shower head. The access panel also contains internal plumbing which allows the access panel to control the temperature and pressure of the water. For example, the hot and cold water inputs may both feed into the access panel through a single pipe which may be turned to allow different ratios of hot and cold water to mix. In this manner, both the temperature and pressure of the water could be controlled in a simple and efficient manner. Alternatively, the access panel may contain adjustable constrictions located in the path of the hot and cold water which may be separately adjusted to control the temperature and pressure of the water used in the bath. A thermometer, located in the access panel, allows the system to adjust and monitor the temperature of the water used in the bath.

The switch located in the shower is connected to the access panel through wires which are preferably hidden from view. The switch contains an “up” and “down” button which are utilized to direct the water either to the faucet of the bath or to the shower head. Pushing the “up” button causes the access panel to shift the flow of water to the shower head. Similarly, pushing the “down” button causes the access panel to direct the water to the bath's faucet. The switch also contains two sets of “plus” and “minus” buttons that can be utilized to adjust the temperature and pressure of the water once the system has been activated.

To utilize the invention, a user utilizes the access panel to enter in a shower temperature and pressure or utilizes one of the buttons to access a pre-selected temperature and pressure. For example, different buttons on the access panel could be pre-programmed for different members of the family with their preferred shower settings.

After the user has entered or selected their preferred shower settings, the user must push an activation button to start the shower. The shower will then adjust itself until it is at the programmed pressure and temperature.

In an alternative embodiment, the access panel may also be secured by an access key which restricts access to the shower. Such a feature might be used if the family has children who may be put at risk by having access to the shower such as handicapped children or toddlers. The invention could also be altered to automate other features of the shower such as the shower head setting (e.g., spray setting, massage setting, etc.) or the time period the shower is active for.

Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide an automated system for bath control which completely automates the process of selecting a pressure and temperature of water in a bath.

It is an additional object of the present invention to provide an automated system for bath control which allows a user to select a water pressure and temperature utilizing a control panel.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an automated system for bath control which allows a user to adjust the temperature and pressure of water in a bath by simply pressing “plus” and “minus” buttons.

An additional object of the present invention is to provide an automated system for bath control which can be controlled remotely.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide an automated system for bath control that can easily be retrofitted into an existing shower.

Other objects, features, and characteristics of the present invention, as well as the methods of operation and functions of the related elements of the structure, and the combination of parts and economies of manufacture, will become more apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description with reference to the accompanying drawings, all of which form a part of this specification.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding of the present invention, reference is now made to the following drawings in which:

FIG. 1 depicts a schematic diagram of the hardware setup required for the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 depicts a schematic diagram of the internal structure of the access panel shown in FIG. 1 which is utilized to control the flow, temperature, and pressure of the water.

FIG. 3 depicts a schematic diagram of a first embodiment of the switch cover shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 depicts a schematic diagram of a second embodiment of the switch cover shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As required, a detailed illustrative embodiment of the present invention is disclosed herein. However, techniques, systems and operating structures in accordance with the present invention may be embodied in a wide variety of forms and modes, some of which may be quite different from those in the disclosed embodiment. Consequently, the specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are merely representative.

Referring first to FIG. 1, shown is a schematic diagram depicting the structure and arrangement of the set up of the hardware utilized in the present invention. Shown are access panel 101, switch 103, faucet 105, and shower head 107. Access panel 101 consists of a series of buttons 109 (for example a keypad) which allows the user to enter in temperature and pressure settings which will be utilized to control the water used in faucet 105 or shower head 107. Access panel 101 may be programmed with “hot keys” which allow a user to simply press a button 109 to access a predetermined pressure and temperature setting. The access panel may also be controlled via a remote control which allows the user to enter the temperature and pressure of the shower remotely.

Access panel 101 contains cold input 111 and hot input 113 and two outputs: first output 115 to faucet 115 and second output 117 to shower head 107. Access panel 101 also contains internal components 119 and 121 which allows access panel 101 to control the temperature and pressure of the water to the bath.

As shown in FIG. 2, hot input 111 and cold input 113 enter component 119 through mixing pipe 201. Access panel 101 modifies the temperature and pressure of the water simply by rotating mixing pipe 201 to control the amount of hot and cold water which enter the bath. For example, by rotating mixing pipe 201 clockwise, more hot water will enter mixing pipe 201 than cold water, thus making the overall temperature of the water warmer. In this way, both the temperature and pressure of the water are controlled by access panel 101 in a simple and efficient manner. However, it should be obvious to one skilled in the art that many methods of mixing the water in component 119 may be utilized. For example, access panel 101 may alternatively contain adjustable constrictions located in the path of the hot input 111 and cold input 113 which may be separately adjusted to control the temperature and pressure of the water which enters mixing pipe 201. A thermometer, located in access panel 101, allows the system to adjust and monitor the temperature of the water used by rotating component 119.

After the water has been mixed in mixing pipe 201, it enters component 121 through connecting pipe 203. Component 121 contains L-shaped pipe 205. In its displayed configuration, component 121 directs water upwards to second output 117 which goes to shower head 107. To direct water away from second output 117 to first output 115, component 121 is rotated counter clockwise 90 degrees so that L-shaped pipe 205 directs water from connecting pipe 203 to first output 115. In this manner, access panel 101 can easily direct water flow from faucet 105 to shower head 107 or vice versa.

Now referring back to FIG. 1, switch 103, located in the bath, is connected to access panel 101 through connection 123 which is preferably concealed from view. Switch 103 contains up button 125 and down button 127 which are utilized to direct the water either to faucet 105 of or to shower head 107. Pushing “up” button 125 sends a signal to access panel 101 through connection 123 which directs access panel 101 rotate component 121 to direct the flow of water second output 117. Similarly, pushing down button 127 causes access panel 101 to rotate component 121 so that water is directed to first output 115.

Switch 103 also contains buttons 129 that can be utilized to adjust the temperature and pressure of the water once the system has been activated.

Referring next to FIG. 3, shown is an embodiment of a cover for use on switch 103. The cover consists of slide 301 and selector 303. Slide 301 is utilized to change the temperature of the water used in the bath. For example, by pointing slide 301 toward “1,” the water in the bath will be made colder. In contrast, moving slide 301 toward “10” will make the water hotter. Selector 303 is utilized to change the direction of the flow of the water in the bath. If selector 303 is pointed to “UP,” the water will be directed to shower head 107. Similarly, if selector 303 is pointed to “DOWN,” the water is directed to faucet 105. If selector 303 is pointed to “OFF,” the flow of the water is completely stopped.

Referring next to FIG. 4, shown is an alternative embodiment of the cover shown in FIG. 3. In this embodiment, selector 303 is positioned in the middle of the cover while slide 301 is located directly below it.

To utilize the invention, a user utilizes access panel 101 to enter in a shower temperature and pressure or utilizes one of the buttons 109 to set a pre-selected temperature and pressure. For example, different buttons 109 on access panel 101 could be pre-programmed for different members of the family with their preferred shower settings.

After the user has entered or selected their preferred shower settings using access panel 101, the user must push an activation button to start the shower. The access panel 101 will then adjust component 119 and component 121 until the water is at the programmed pressure and temperature.

In an alternative embodiment, access panel 101 may also be secured by an access key which restricts access to the shower. Such a feature might be used if the family has children who may be put at risk by having access to the shower such as handicapped children or toddlers. The invention could also be altered to automate other features of the shower such as the shower head setting (e.g., spray setting, massage setting, etc.) or the time period the shower is active for.

After the user has selected the temperature and pressure of the water, the user utilized switch 103 to select the direction of the flow of the water (to either faucet 105 or shower head 107). Buttons 129, located on switch 103, can also be utilized to fine tune the pressure and temperature of the.

While the present invention has been described with reference to one or more preferred embodiments, which embodiments have been set forth in considerable detail for the purpose of making a complete disclosure of the invention, such embodiments are merely exemplary and are not intended to be limiting or represent an exhaustive enumeration of all aspects of the invention. The scope of the invention, therefore, shall be defined solely by the following claims. Further, it will be apparent to those of skill in the art that numerous changes may be made in such details without departing from the spirit and the principles of the invention.