Title:
TOILET SEAT ASSEMBLY WITH MOTORIZED DEPLOYMENT MECHANISM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An automated toilet seat assembly includes a motorized actuation mechanism for raising and/or lowering a toilet seat Independent spring arrangements are preferably deployed so as to independently counterbalance the seat and lid, thereby minimizing the load on the motor even when lifting both the seat and the lid together. Preferably, a clutch mechanism selectively disconnects the mechanism so as to allow manual lifting and lowering of the seat without rotation of the motor The toilet seat assembly is preferably powered by batteries located in a housing in the lid of the assembly, thereby reducing the dimensions of the deployment mechanism associated with the seat



Inventors:
Pelled, Ori (Herzelya, IL)
Inbar, Zvi (Ramat Hasharon, IL)
Yemini, Zvi (Jaffa, IL)
Meshorer, Yishay (Tel Aviv, IL)
Application Number:
11/469864
Publication Date:
03/06/2008
Filing Date:
09/03/2006
Assignee:
Smart Seat Industries Ltd (Jaffa, IL)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K13/12
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20010044954Control for bathtub and showerNovember, 2001Dicarlo
20100095444Seamless Sink Drain Assembly With Disposer/Strainer Mounting SystemApril, 2010Sullivan
20080256693Systems and Apparatus for Toilet Odour RemovalOctober, 2008Mickleson et al.
20100005582MOTIVATIONAL URINAL FOR TOILET TRAINING OF YOUNG MALESJanuary, 2010Rao
20090044320Self-ventilating toiletFebruary, 2009Abunameh
20070192949SELF-LIFTING TOILET SEATAugust, 2007Pan et al.
20090241259VALVE FOR EMERGENCY EYE WASH AND RELATED METHODOctober, 2009Dudley
20060080765Means for removably attaching a flush actuator to a toiletApril, 2006Olshausen
20040231037Overspray shield for toiletNovember, 2004Erves
20090113819Support frame unit for swimming pool assemblyMay, 2009Lee
20100024117SAUNA DEVICEFebruary, 2010Fujii et al.



Primary Examiner:
FETSUGA, ROBERT M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dr. Mark M. Friedman (Ramat Gan, IL)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A toilet seat assembly comprising (a) a base for attachment to a toilet bowl, (b) a seat hingedly associated with said base so as to be deployable between a lowered position for sitting on and a raised position (c) a deployment mechanism including a motor and mechanically associated with said base and said seat, said deployment mechanism being responsive to a command signal when said seat is in said lowered position to lift said seat to said raised position, (d) a lid hingedly associated with said base so as to be deployable when said seat is in said lowered position between a closed position in which said lid lies upon said seat and an open position in which said seat is uncovered, (e) a first spring arrangement associated with said base and said seat and deployed to at least partially cancel a turning moment acting on said seat due to gravity when said seat is in said lowered position, and (f) a second spring arrangement associated with said base and said lid and deployed to at least partially cancel a turning moment acting on said lid due to gravity when said lid is in said closed position

2. The toilet seat assembly of claim 1, wherein said first spring arrangement is implemented as a pair of spring assemblies deployed to provide turning moments acting substantially symmetrically on said seat

3. The toilet seat assembly of claim 2, wherein said second spring arrangement is implemented as a pair of spring assemblies deployed to provide turning moments acting substantially symmetrically on said lid

4. The toilet seat assembly of claim 1, wherein said first spring arrangement includes at least one spring assembly having a housing formed by a first element attached to or integrally formed with said base and a second element attached to or integrally formed with said seat, said housing defining an annular channel, and at least one helical spring confined within said annular channel

5. The toilet seat assembly of claim 4, wherein said first spring assembly includes two of said helical springs confined within said annular channel

6. The toilet seat assembly of claim 1, wherein said deployment mechanism includes a clutch arrangement assuming a first state in which said motor is engaged for lifting said seat and a second state in which said seat can be lifted and lowered manually without rotation of said motor

7. The toilet seat assembly of claim 6, wherein said clutch is manually deployable between said first and second states

8. The toilet seat assembly of claim 1, wherein said lid includes a housing containing at least one component of a power supply, said at least one component being connected so as to provide electrical power to said motor

9. The toilet seat assembly of claim 8, wherein said deployment mechanism is connected to said at least one component via a plurality of flexible wires

10. The toilet seat assembly of claim 8, wherein said deployment mechanism is connected to said at least one component via a rotatable contact arrangement

11. The toilet seat assembly of claim 8, wherein said at least one component is at least one battery

12. The toilet seat assembly of claim 11, wherein said housing includes a slidingly removable battery tray configured to allow removal and insertion of said battery tray into said housing while said lid is in said closed position.

13. A toilet seat assembly comprising: (a) a base for attachment to a toilet bowl, (b) a seat hingedly associated with said base so as to be deployable between a lowered position for sitting on and a raised position, (c) a deployment mechanism including a motor and mechanically associated with said base and said seat, said deployment mechanism being responsive to a command signal when said seat is in said lowered position to lift said seat to said raised position, and (d) a lid hingedly associated with said base so as to be deployable when said seat is in said lowered position between a closed position in which said lid lies upon said seat and an open position in which said seat is uncovered, wherein said deployment mechanism includes a clutch arrangement assuming a first state in which said motor is engaged for lifting said seat and a second state in which said seat can be lifted and lowered manually without rotation of said motor

14. The toilet seat assembly of claim 13, wherein said clutch is manually deployable between said first and second states.

15. A toilet seat assembly comprising (a) a base for attachment to a toilet bowl, (b) a seat hingedly associated with said base so as to be deployable between a lowered position for sitting on and a raised position, (c) a deployment mechanism including a motor and mechanically associated with said base and said seat, said deployment mechanism being responsive to a command signal when said seat is in said lowered position to lift said seat to said raised position and (d) a lid hingedly associated with said base so as to be deployable when said seat is in said lowered position between a closed position in which said lid lies upon said seat and an open position in which said seat is uncovered, wherein said lid includes a housing containing at least one component of a power supply, said at least one component being connected so as to provide electrical power to said motor

16. The toilet seat assembly of claim 15, wherein said deployment mechanism is connected to said at least one component via a plurality of flexible wires

17. The toilet seat assembly of claim 15, wherein said deployment mechanism is connected to said at least one component via a rotatable contact arrangement

18. The toilet seat assembly of claim 15, wherein said at least one component is at least one battery

19. The toilet seat assembly of claim 18, wherein said housing includes a slidingly removable battery tray configured to allow removal and insertion of said battery tray into said housing while said lid is in said closed position

Description:

FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to toilet seats and, in particular, it concerns a toilet seat assembly with a motorized deployment mechanism for raising and/or lowering the seat.

Various automatic or semi-automatic systems for raising and lowering toilet seats have been proposed in order to reduce the need for toilet users to touch the seat Examples of such systems believed to be of relevance as background to the present invention are U.S. Pat. No. 6,643,852 to Lin, U.S. Pat. No. 6,321,393 to Jones and U.S. Pat. No. 6,618,864 to Veal

Practical implementation of such systems poses a number of problems which have not been fully addressed by the proposed systems Both for reasons of safety and for ease of installation, it is preferable that the system be battery operated This however imposes severe restrictions on the available power for raising the toilet seat In order to reduce the required power, it has been proposed to use springs to reduce the effective weight of the seat to be lifted Since the motor must sometimes lift only the seat and sometimes both the seat and the lid, significant excess motor power is required, resulting in reduced battery life and requiring an undesirably large motor

A further implication of the use of batteries is the bulky form factor of the assembly, as exemplified by the back-heavy design of the aforementioned L,in reference This may render the assembly unsuited, or at least awkward, to install on a standard toilet base

Finally, a problem common to motorized toilet seat systems is the difficulty in raising and lowering the seat manually in the case of a malfunction or power failure (flat batteries) In such cases, motion of the seat typically requires forced rotation of the motor, making, the seat difficult to move and potentially causing damage to the motor or, other parts of the mechanism

There is therefore a need for a toilet seat assembly which would provide battery powered motorized lifting and/or lowering of a toilet seat with long battery life in a sufficiently compact form factor to allow installation on a standard toilet bowl, and which would facilitate manual raising and lowering of the seat in case of malfunction or power failure.

SUMMARY OF TEE INVENTION

The present invention is a toilet seat assembly

According to the teachings of the present invention there is provided, a toilet seat assembly comprising: (a) a base for attachment to a toilet bowl, (b) a seat hingedly associated with the base so as to be deployable between a lowered position for sitting on and a raised position; (c) a deployment mechanism including a motor and mechanically associated with the base and the seat, the deployment mechanism being responsive to a command signal when the seat is in the lowered position to lift the seat to the raised position, (d) a lid hingedly associated with the base so as to be deployable when the seat is in the lowered position between a closed position in which the lid lies upon the seat and an open position in which the seat is uncovered, (e) a first spring arrangement associated with the base and the seat and deployed to at least partially cancel a turning moment acting on the seat due to gravity when the seat is in the lowered position, and (f) a second spring arrangement associated with the base and the lid and deployed to at least partially cancel a turning moment acting on the lid due to gravity when the lid is in the closed position

According to a further feature of the present invention, the first spring arrangement is implemented as a pair of spring assemblies deployed to provide turning moments acting substantially symmetrically on the seat

According to a further feature of the present invention, the second spring arrangement is implemented as a pair of spring assemblies deployed to provide turning moments acting, substantially symmetrically on the lid

According to a further feature of the present invention, the first spring arrangement includes at least one spring assembly having a housing formed by a first element attached to or integrally formed with the base and a second element attached to or integrally formed with the seat, the housing defining an annular channel, and at least one helical spring confined within the annular channel

According to a further feature of the present invention, the first spring assembly includes two of the helical springs confined within the annular channel

According to a further feature of the present invention, the deployment mechanism includes a clutch arrangement assuming a first state in which the motor is engaged for lifting the seat and a second state in which the seat can be lifted and lowered manually without rotation of the motor

According to a further feature of the present invention, the clutch is manually deployable between the first and second states

According to a further feature of the present invention, the lid includes a housing containing at least one component of a power supply, the at least one component being connected so as to provide electrical power to the motor

According to a further feature of the present invention, the deployment mechanism is connected to the at least one component via a plurality of flexible wires.

According to a further, feature of the present invention, the deployment mechanism is connected to the at least one component via a rotatable contact arrangement

According to a further feature of the present invention, the at least one component is at least one battery

According to a further feature of the present invention, the housing includes a slidingly removable battery tray configured to allow removal and insertion of the battery tray into the housing while the lid is in the closed position

There is also provided, according to the teachings of the present invention a toilet seat assembly comprising (a) a base for attachment to a toilet bowl; (b) a seat hingedly associated with the base so as to be deployable between a lowered position for sitting on and a raised position, (c) a deployment mechanism including a motor and mechanically associated with the base and the seat, the deployment mechanism being responsive to a command signal when the seat is in the lowered position to lift the seat to the raised position; and (d) a lid hingedly associated with the base so as to be deployable when the seat is in the lowered position between a closed position in which the lid lies upon the seat and an open position in which the seat is uncovered, wherein the deployment mechanism includes a clutch arrangement assuming a first state in which the motor is engaged for lifting the seat and a second state in which the seat can be lifted and lowered manually without rotation of the motor

According to a further feature of the present invention, the clutch is manually deployable between the first and second states

There is also provided, according to the teachings of the present invention, a toilet seat assembly comprising. (a) a base for attachment to a toilet bowl, (b) a seat hingedly associated with the base so as to be deployable between a lowered position for sitting on and a raised position, (c) a deployment mechanism including a motor and mechanically associated with the base and the seat, the deployment mechanism being responsive to a command signal when the seat is in the lowered position to lift the seat to the raised position, and (d) a lid hingedly associated with the base so as to be deployable when the seat is in the lowered position between a closed position in which the lid lies upon the seat and an open position in which the seat is uncovered, wherein the lid includes a housing containing at least one component of a power supply, the at least one component being connected so as to provide electrical power to the motor

According to a further feature of the present invention, the deployment mechanism is connected to the at least one component via a plurality of flexible wires

According to a further feature of the present invention, the deployment mechanism is connected to the at least one component via a rotatable contact arrangement

According to a further feature of the present invention, the at least one component is at least one battery

According to a further feature of the present invention, the housing includes a slidingly removable battery tray configured to allow removal and insertion of the battery tray into the housing while the lid is in the closed position

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is herein described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein,

FIGS. 1A and 1B are isometric views of a toilet bowl fitted with a toilet seat assembly, constructed and operative according to the teachings of the present invention, shown with the seat in its lowered and raised positions, respectively, the lid being raised in both,

FIG. 2A is a view of the toilet seat assembly of FIG. 1A with a front cover removed, and with a partial disassembly of components along an axis of the assembly,

FIG. 2B is an enlargement of the encircled region of FIG. 2A,

FIG. 3A is an isometric view of a spring assembly from the toilet seat assembly of FIG. 1A,

FIG. 3B is a cut-away isometric view of the spring assembly of FIG. 3A,

FIG. 4 is an axial cross-sectional view taken through a region of the toilet seat assembly showing hinged attachment of the seat and lid to the base via independent spring assemblies,

FIG. 5A is a front view of a deployment mechanism of the toilet seat assembly of FIG. 1A with a clutch arrangement in its engaged state

FIG. 5B is an axial cross-sectional view of the encircled region of FIG. 5A;

FIG. 5C is a view similar to FIG. 5A showing the clutch arrangement in its disengaged state,

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along a center-line of the toilet seat assembly of FIG. 1A, showing a battery housing located in the lid,

FIGS. 7A and 7B are isometric views of the toilet seat assembly of FIG. 1A, showing a battery housing in its inserted and removed states, respectively, and

FIG. 8 is a cut-away isometric view taken through the toilet seat assembly of FIG. 1A and showing an electrical connection between the battery housing and the deployment mechanism

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is a toilet seat assembly including a motorized deployment mechanism

The principles and operation of a toilet seat assembly according to the present invention may be better understood with reference to the drawings and the accompanying description

Referring now to the drawings, FIGS. 1A-7B show a toilet seat assembly, generally designated 10, constructed and operative according to the teachings of the present invention, for attachment to a toilet bowl 100

By way of introduction, it should be noted that the present invention provides a highly advantageous toilet seat assembly which combines a number of features each of which is believed to be of patentable significance in its own right, and which together offer particular synergy, as will become clear Thus, according to a first aspect of the present invention, toilet seat assembly 10 includes a plurality of spring arrangements deployed so as to independently counterbalance the seat and lid, thereby minimizing the load on the motor even when lifting both the seat and the lid together According to a second aspect of the present invention, toilet seat assembly 10 includes a clutch mechanism configured for selectively allowing manual lifting and lowering of the seat without rotation of the motor Finally, according to a third aspect of the present invention, toilet seat assembly 10 is powered by at least one battery located in a housing in the lid of the assembly, thereby reducing the dimensions of the deployment mechanism associated with the seat These and other aspects of the invention will be further understood with reference to the detailed description of the drawings as follows

Turning now to the Figures, in general terms, toilet seat assembly 10 includes a base 12 for attachment to toilet bowl 100, and a seat 14 hingedly associated with base 12 so as to be deployable between a lowered position (FIG. 1A) for sitting on and a raised position (FIG. 1B) A deployment mechanism, the components of which are best seen in FIGS. 2A, 2B, 5A and 5B, includes a motor 16 The deployment mechanism is mechanically associated with base 12 and seat 14, and is responsive to a command signal, such as from a user control 18, when seat 14 is in the lowered position to lift seat 14 to the raised position. Preferably, the deployment mechanism is also configured to lower seat 14 from its raised position to its lowered position The lowering action may be initiated by repetition of the same command signal used to initiate raising of the seat, or by a different command signal. Various options for implementing user control 18 will be discussed below

A lid 20 is hingedly associated with base 12 so as to be deployable, when seat 14 Is in its lowered position, between a closed position (FIG. 7A) in which lid 20 lies upon seat 14 and an open position (FIG. 1A) in which seat 14 is uncovered

As mentioned above, according to a particularly preferred feature of certain implementations of the present invention, toilet seat assembly 10 includes a plurality of spring arrangements deployed to as to independently counterbalance seat 14 and lid 20, thereby minimizing the load on motor 16 even when lifting both the seat and the lid together. Thus, in the example illustrated here, toilet seat assembly 10 includes a first spring arrangement 22a, 22b associated with base 12 and seat 14 and deployed to at least partially cancel a turning moment acting on seat 14 due to gravity when the seat is in the lowered position, and a second spring arrangement 24a, 24b associated with base 12 and lid 20 and deployed to at least partially cancel a turning moment acting on the lid due to gravity when the lid is in the closed position Most preferably, the first spring arrangement is implemented as a pair of spring assemblies 22a, 22b deployed to provide turning moments acting substantially symmetrically on seat 14 Similarly, the second spring arrangement is most preferably implemented as a pair of spring assemblies 24a, 24b deployed to provide turning moments acting substantially symmetrically on lid 20. This symmetry minimizes stress in the seat and the lid, thereby improving the reliability of the assembly and avoiding deformation of the mechanical structure. Typically, all of spring assemblies 22a, 22b, 24a, 24b are implemented as similar assemblies, and most preferably, as modular closed units which are inserted when the toilet seat assembly is assembled A preferred implementation for the spring assemblies will now be described by way of example with reference to spring assembly 24b as detailed in FIGS. 2B, 3B and 4 As shown here, spring assembly 24b has a housing formed by a first element 26, attached to or integrally formed with base 12, and a second element 28, attached to or integrally formed with lid 20 Clearly, in the case of spring assemblies 22a and 22b, second element 28 is attached to or integrally formed with seat 14 The housing formed by elements 26 and 28 defines an annular channel within which is confined at least one, and preferably two, helical springs 30 (FIGS. 3B and 4) Each element 26 and 28 has at least one end stop 32 projecting into the annular channel so as to provide an end stop of one of springs 30. As a result, relative rotation of elements 26 and 28 compresses springs 30 between stops 32, thereby generating a rotational moment which tries to return the elements to their original relative positions Where two (or more) springs are used, they preferably deployed symmetrically about the axis of rotation, thereby avoiding uneven friction and wear

For ease of assembly, each spring assembly is preferably a modular unit formed separately from the base, seat and lid, and mechanically linked to the respective element during assembly The non-limiting preferred implementation shown in FIGS. 3A, 3B and 4 employs an externally-toothed cylindrical plug 34 to engage internally-toothed surfaces of both first element 26 and base 12 An outward-facing surface of second element 28 is also externally toothed for engagement with a corresponding inwardly-toothed socket formed in lid 20 or seat 14.

Turning now to a second particularly preferred feature of certain implementations of the present invention, the deployment mechanism preferably includes a clutch arrangement assuming a first state in which motor 16 is engaged for lifting seat 14 and a second state in which seat 14 can be lifted and lowered manually without rotation of motor 16 The components of a preferred implementation of this clutch mechanism may be seen most clearly in FIGS. 2A and 5A-5C.

Specifically, the clutch assembly shown includes a displaceable key-block 36, in this case implemented as an elongated square block, deployed so as to engage, but slide axially within, a complementarily-shaped (in this case square) opening in a drive bracket 38 integrally formed with, or rigidly attached to, seat 14 Key-block 36 is displaceable axially by connection to a rod 40 manually manipulated by pulling or pushing an externally accessible knob 42. When knob 42 is pushed inwards, rod 40 displaces key-block 36 so as to engage a toothed socket 44 formed as part of key-block 36 with an output toothed drive wheel 46 of motor 16, as best seen in FIG. 5B. This is the normal operating state of toilet seat assembly 10.

In the event that the batteries are flat, knob 42 is pulled axially outwards to the position shown in FIG. 5C, thereby drawing key-block 36 to the right as shown in the figure and disengaging toothed socket 44 from drive wheel 46 In this state, seat 14 can be lifted and lowered manually without rotation of motor 16. According to the preferred option shown here, it will be noted that the aforementioned spring assemblies 22a, 22b, 24a, 24b are still operative when the clutch assembly is in its disconnected state, rendering the seat and cover very light to displace manually

Turning now to a third particularly preferred feature of certain implementations of the present invention, this relates to the deployment of a battery housing. In order to maximize time between battery changes, it is preferable to employ a set of large batteries, such as, for example, a set of 4 “D” cells These batteries occupy a considerable volume, and would render the rear part of the seat undesirably bulky if incorporated directly into the main housing Instead, the current aspect of the present invention provides a particularly advantageous solution by incorporating a housing 50 (FIG. 7B) containing at least one component of a power supply, in this case, a set of batteries 52, into lid 20 Most preferably, housing 50 is configured to be externally accessible while lid 20 is closed, and is most preferably implemented as a removable drawer or tray, allowing the entire drawer to be removed with the batteries and taken to a location remote from the toilet for battery removal and replacement The drawer with new, or newly recharged, batteries 52 is then replaced into lid 20

Although described here in the context of a particularly preferred battery-powered implementation, it should be noted that this feature of the invention is also of value in an externally (mains) powered implementation, where housing 50 is used to house at least one component of the power supply Typically in such a case, housing 50 is used to house a transformer and/or rectifying circuitry configured to render the AC mains supply suitable for powering motor 16

Electrical connection between housing 50 and the deployment mechanism can be achieved easily by use of a plurality of flexible wires 54, as best seen in FIG. 8. Alternatively, a rotatable contact arrangement (not shown) may be used, as will be clear to one ordinarily skilled in the art

Turning now to the remaining features of the preferred implementation illustrated here, user control 18 may be implemented in various ways In a basic implementation, user control 18 may be implemented as a button mounted on the housing of toilet seat assembly 10 Preferably, user control 18 is mounted remotely from the toilet, typically on a wall adjacent to the toilet This is generally considered more sanitary In a most preferred option, user control 18 is implemented as a non-contact sensor, such as an optical (infrared) proximity or motion sensor configured to be operated by motion of the user (e.g, passing his or her hand) near the sensor.

In order to facilitate unskilled installation of toilet seat assembly 10, user control 18 is preferably battery operated, and is preferably linked to the main part of toilet seat assembly 10 by a wireless communications or signaling link This link may be implemented using any technology known for short range wireless signaling, including but not limited to, RF, microwave, infrared or ultrasound signaling It will be noted that the communication is typically only one-directional, and typically only an actuation signal, so that the signaling system used does not need to carry any data and can be implemented using particularly simple and low-cost hardware The hardware required for such implementations is readily available in numerous commercially available products, for example, in a wireless doorbell

The entirety of toilet seat assembly 10 preferably operates under the control of an electronics subsystem, typically implemented as a printed circuit board (PCB) 56 mounted on base 12 (see FIGS. 2A and 2B) PCB 56 performs all of the functions necessary for toilet seat assembly 10 to provide the functionality described herein, as will be clear to one ordinarily skilled in the art In one typical implementation, these functions include: receiving and identifying signals from user control 18, actuating motor 16 to raise or lower seat 14, sensing of reaching a fully raised or fully lowered position, deactivating motor 16, and reversing drive direction between operations Sensing of reaching a fully raised or lowered position can be achieved in various ways By way of non-limiting examples, a first approach is by sensing the load on motor 16, for example, by monitoring current through the motor An alternative implementation employs microswitches (not shown) deployed to sense mechanically when the seat has reached its extreme positions Clearly, other sensors such as optical sensors, angular encoders or the like could also be used For basic functionality as described, PCB 16 may readily be implemented using relatively simple electronic components without requiring a microprocessor In alternative implementations, a microprocessor-based electronics subsystem may be used to provide additional functionality, such as for example self-testing and malfunction detection A simple microprocessor may also be useful in determining coding of a wireless actuation signal (i e, to prevent unintended actuation by other domestic remote systems with a similar frequency), to provide power-saving “sleep” modes, and for signaling batteries status

In wireless implementations, PCB 56 preferably also includes the receiver-side of the remote control communications subsystem.

Finally, it will be noted that the components of the actuation mechanism of toilet seat assembly 10 should be protected as much as possible from moisture and other environmental hazards of the intended operating environment. To this end, seat 14 is preferably formed with a rear shield 14a which extends over the electronic components of the assembly as seen in FIGS. 1A, 6 and 8 In the preferred implementation shown here, rear shield 14a also includes downward-projecting ribs 14b (FIGS. 6 and 8) which engage corresponding slots in drive bracket 38 to provide the mechanical engagement required for lifting the seat, as described above. The use of multiple ribs allows the use of plastic materials, thus providing suitable distribution of the weight and force so as to avoid deformation of the structure

Similarly, in order to protect the assembly when seat 14 is in its raised position, base 12 preferably features a front cover 12a which substantially encloses and protects the actuation mechanism (FIG. 1B) In the implementation shown here, front cover 12a has a cut-out slot to accommodate the moving point of attachment of drive bracket 38 to seat 14 as the seat is raised and lowered The implementation of drive bracket 38 with a cylindrical outer surface as shown allows drive bracket 38 and front cover 12a to mate with minimal clearance, or even with some degree of overlap, to maximize protection for the actuation mechanism

It will be appreciated that the above descriptions are intended only to serve as examples, and that many other embodiments are possible within the scope of the present invention as defined in the appended claims