Title:
SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR PROVIDING A URINE DEFLECTOR SHIELD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A urine shield selectively coupled to a hinge, the hinge connected to a toilet seat or other toilet structure so that the shield hangs down and pivots at the hinge. When the seat or lid is raised, the shield naturally rests against the back of the toilet bowl to guide itinerant urine into the toilet bowl. The hinge coupling the shield to the seat or lid is selectively removable to permit easy access for cleaning. Accessories can be included such as a light to guide a user's aim in the dark.



Inventors:
Bird, Todd K. (St. George, UT, US)
Application Number:
12/262947
Publication Date:
07/09/2009
Filing Date:
10/31/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D9/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DEMUREN, BABAJIDE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
David B. Tingey (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A sanitation shield comprising: a toilet; a hinge assembly coupled to the toilet; and/or toilet seat a shield selectively coupled to the hinge assembly.

2. A method of improving sanitation comprising: providing a toilet; coupling a hinge assembly to the toilet; and/or toilet seat selectively coupling a shield to the hinge assembly to allow said shield to freely rotate around the hinge assembly.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Patent Application Ser. No. 61/100,211 filed Sep. 25, 2008, entitled URINE DEFLECTOR SHIELD and to U.S. Patent Application Ser. No. 60/984,121 filed Oct. 31, 2008 entitled URINE DEFECLTOR SHIELD, both of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to toilet sanitation. In particular, the present invention relates to systems and methods for enhancing sanitary conditions through utilization of a urine deflector shield to capture urine within a toilet bowl and/or to prevent misguided spraying of urine.

2. Background and Related Art

Toilets and the area surrounding them often harbor bacteria and become unsanitary. A common cause of this unsanitary condition is urine that has been sprayed or splashed around the toilet. This problem can be particularly problematic when potty-training young boys.

Common toilet configurations contribute to the unsanitary condition. Toilets often have a bowl with a tank as well as a seat and a lid that is hinged to bowl. The space between these features especially under hinges and between tank and bowl structure can trap urine and other unsanitary agents, and allow bacteria to grow. Additionally, the trapped urine can give off an undesirable odor.

Cleaning urine splashed or sprayed around a toilet can be time consuming, difficult and unpleasant. The cleaning often involves running a rag over the various toilet features and the surrounding area to remove the urine from every surface and sanitize the area.

Thus, while techniques currently exist that are used to dispose of urine, challenges still exist. Accordingly, it would be an improvement in the art to augment or even replace current techniques with other techniques.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to toilet sanitation. In particular, the present invention relates to systems and methods for enhancing sanitary conditions through utilization of a urine deflector shield to capture urine within a toilet bowl and/or to prevent misguided spraying of urine.

In at least one implementation, a hingedly coupled shield is utilized to provide a more sanitary condition. A shield is coupled to a surface of a toilet or toilet seat to allow the shield to hang therefrom. The shield channels urine that comes in contact with the shield into a corresponding toilet bowl. Furthermore, the shield prevents urine from escaping on and/or behind a toilet seat and into space between tank and bowl structure.

In a further implementation, a hinge assembly is coupled to a surface of a toilet or toilet seat and to the shield to allow the shield to hang therefrom and to pivot at the hinge assembly as the toilet seat is lifted. In one implementation, the shield is removably coupled to the toilet seat via the hinge assembly to facilitate removal and cleaning of the shield.

In one implementation, the shield is illuminated by a light emitting diode (“LED”) to guide a user in the dark to have the urine flow into the toilet bowl. In addition, the LED enables a user to know in the dark whether the seat is up or down.

An alternative implementation includes using a shield having a hinge assembly. The assembly includes hinge blocks and hinge hooks. Coupling or fixing the hinge assembly to a toilet, a toilet seat, or other sufficiently rigid toilet structure. The shield is selectively coupled to the hinge assembly using a hinge rod. The hinge rod is placed in the cradle formed by the hinge hooks. The shield is permitted to rotate around the hinge. Thus, raising or lowing the toilet seat, where the hinge assembly is coupled or fixed to the toilet seat, allows the shield to be automatically repositioned. Removing the shield from the hinge assembly enables cleaning of the shield.

While the methods and processes of the present invention have proven to be particularly useful in association with toilets that include seats, those skilled in the art can appreciate that the methods and processes can be used in a variety of different types of toilet configurations to yield greater sanitation and reduced cleaning times.

These and other features and advantages of the present invention will be set forth or will become more fully apparent in the description that follows and in the appended claims. The features and advantages may be realized and obtained by means of the instruments and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims. Furthermore, the features and advantages of the invention may be learned by the practice of the invention or will be obvious from the description, as set forth hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In order that the manner in which the above recited and other features and advantages of the present invention are obtained, a more particular description of the invention will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof, which are illustrated in the appended drawings. Understanding that the drawings depict only typical embodiments of the present invention and are not, therefore, to be considered as limiting the scope of the invention, the present invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1A illustrates a top view of a representative shield;

FIG. 1B illustrates a representative hinge assembly including alternative views of a representative hinge block;

FIG. 1C illustrates a frontal view of the shield of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 1D illustrates a side view of the shield of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 1E illustrates a top view of a representative shield;

FIG. 1F illustrates a representative hinge assembly including alternative views of a representative hinge block;

FIG. 1G illustrates a representative hinge assembly including rod studs;

FIG. 1H illustrates a frontal view of the shield of FIG. 1E;

FIG. 1I illustrates a side view of the shield of FIG. 1E;

FIG. 2A illustrates a toilet seat in the lowered position with a representative shield hanging therefrom;

FIG. 2B illustrates the toilet seat of FIG. 2A in a semi-raised position with the

FIG. 2C illustrates the toilet seat of FIG. 2A in a raised position with the representative shield hanging therefrom;

FIG. 2D illustrates the representative shield of FIG. 2A selectively removed from the hinge assembly;

FIG. 3A illustrates the shield and with a representative illumination assembly;

FIG. 3B illustrates a side view of the illumination assembly of FIG. 3A;

FIG. 4 illustrates a side view of a representative shield attached to a surface, wherein the shield is in a hanging position;

FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of a representative shield attached to a surface, wherein the shield is in a hanging position;

FIGS. 6-8 illustrate a representative embodiment for coupling and decoupling a shield from a surface; and

FIGS. 9-15 illustrate a pivotable relationship of a representative shield and corresponding toilet seat.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to toilet sanitation. In particular, the present invention relates to systems and methods for enhancing sanitary conditions through utilization of a urine deflector shield to capture urine within a toilet bowl and/or to prevent misguided spraying of urine.

A urine shield is utilized to provide a more sanitary condition. The shield is coupled to a surface of a toilet or toilet seat to allow the shield to hang therefrom. The shield channels urine that comes in contact with the shield into a corresponding toilet bowl. Additionally, the shield prevents urine from escaping on and/or behind the toilet seat.

One embodiment comprises a hinge assembly coupled to a surface, such as a toilet seat. A shield is selectively coupled to the hinge assembly so that the shield can hang from the hinge assembly and pivots therefrom. The shield hangs in a generally downward direction. In at least one embodiment, the shield is removably coupled to the hinge assembly.

The hinge assembly can be coupled to the surface by use of a coupling mechanism, such as an adhesive, one or more screws, or other coupling mechanism. Alternatively, it can be manufactured as a complete unit, such as a toilet seat with hinge hooks cast or formed as a whole unit with a lid and packaged with a deflector shield. Furthermore the hinge assembly is coupled to the toilet lid, seat or bowl. When connected to the bowl, the hinge can be clipped to the bowl.

The shield can be selectively coupled to the hinge assembly so as to permit the shield to pivot. The pivot connection permits the shield to hang in a downward direction independent of the position of the structure to which the shield is coupled. The selective coupling permits the shield to be detached from the hinge assembly to facilitate cleaning when such cleaning is desirable. For instance, the shield can be placed over hooks forming the hinge assembly. Thus when cleaning is desired, the shield is simply lifted and washed. The washing can be done in the toilet bowl itself, or removed and sanitized apart for the toilet.

In at least some embodiments, the shield as a rigid structure that prevents fluid absorption and enables sanitation of the structure. The shield can be shaped to compliment the shape of a specific toilet bowl. Alternatively the shield can be shaped so as to fit most toilet bowls. The general shape of the shield is a concave shape to direct urine splash back into the toilet bowl. The shield can extend from the hinge assembly, or can extend from a distance below or above the hinge assembly, depending on the placement of the hinge assembly. The shield is a rigid structure that can be formed from an acrylic, thermoplastic, injection plastic, or other rigid material that can be formed and becomes hard and smooth, and has minimal fluid absorption.

Alternative embodiments include a self flush feature wherein water from the tank is directed to flush the surface of the shield by a baffle or ridge formed at the outer edge of the shield. Thus, when the toilet is flushed, water passes over the shield surface. Similarly indicia can be etched into the shield.

With reference now to FIG. 1A-1D, a representative shield is illustrated as shield 1, which is made of an injection mold polymer material. The complete shield is formed with the hinge assembly, comprising hinge rod 5 and hinge rod blocks 6, together with the shield 1 cast as a single unit. The contour of the shield can be designed to be the same contour as the particular type toilet bowl and seat to which it is attached. In FIG. 1B, hinge block 2 is also made of an injection mold plastic material. Hook ends 7 and hinge block back plate 2 are cast as a single unit. Attachment to a specific seat is accomplished either by small screws, an adhesive, or another coupling mechanism.

With reference now to FIGS. 1E, 1H, and 1I, a representative shield 20 is illustrated, which is made of an injection mold polymer material. The shield 20 generally comprises a front side 22 having a concave shape, and a back side 24 having a generally flat profile. The concave shape of the front side 22 is designed to catch and channel urine into the bowl of the toilet (not shown). The generally flat profile of the back side 24 provides a uniformly shaped surface for supporting a hinge assembly 8.

Referring now to FIGS. 1E-1I, various views of the hinge assembly 8 are shown. The hinge assembly 8 generally comprises a system of compatibly interacting components. For example, in some embodiments of the present invention, the hinge assembly 8 includes a hook component 26 and a rod component 28. The hook component 26 is generally molded and manufactured to provide an opening sufficient to rotationally accommodate the diameter of the rod component 28. As shown in FIG. 1I, in some embodiments of the present invention the hook component 26 is designed in an open fashion to readily permit engagement and disengagement of the deflector shield 20 from the remainder of the hinge assembly 8. In other embodiment, the hook component 26 further comprises a defeatable cage or retaining clip to prevent inadvertent removal of the hook component 26 from the rod component 28.

Referring now to FIGS. 1F and 1G, various implementations of the hinge block 32 of the present invention are shown. The hinge block 32 generally includes a backplate 34, a retaining block 36, and a rod element 28. The backplate 34 generally comprises a backside that is planar thereby facilitating mounting of the hinge block 32 to a planar surface, such as the under surface of a toilet seat (not shown). The back plate 34 further includes a front side to which the retaining blocks 36 are coupled. In some embodiments the back plate 34 and the retaining blocks 36 are manufactured as a single unit. In other embodiments, the back plate 34 and the retaining blocks 36 are separate components that are joined together via an appropriate polymer joining technique, as known in the art. In still other embodiments, the hook component 26 and the hinge block 8 are designed to simplify the molding and manufacturing process, yet maintain the desired hinge effect.

The retaining blocks 36 are generally positioned on the front side of the back plate 34 and are provided to support the rod components 28 of the hinge assembly 8. In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 1F, the rod elements spans the distance between a pair of opposing retaining blocks 36. In other embodiments, as shown in FIG. 1G, the rod element comprises a pair of rod studs, each rod stud being coupled to a single retaining block 36 of the hinge assembly 8. As shown in FIG. 1I, the hook component 26 is tilted slightly downward and inward towards the back side 24 of the shield 20. Thus, the hook component 26 engages the rod component 28 from above wherein the downward force of the shield 20 maintains the engagement of the two components 26 and 28. Although the present discussion has focused on a hook and rod coupling system, one of skill in the art will appreciate that the relationship between the shield 22 and the toilet seat (not shown) may be configured in any number of ways to achieve a compatible hinge effect.

In FIG. 2A, hinge block 2 is attached to a bottom surface of toilet seat 4 with small screws, an adhesive, or another coupling mechanism. The hinge rod 5 of shield 1 is engaged into the hinge block hook ends 7 and hangs at an angle of approx. 10-15 degrees backward into toilet bowl 3 as well as above the existing water line in the toilet bowl.

In FIG. 2B the toilet seat 4 is opened or raised. As seat 4 raises, shield 1 begins to swing backward pivoting on hinge rod 5 at rod hook ends 7, towards the rear of the toilet bowl 3. The angle of shield 1 remains at approx. 10-15 degrees as the toilet set 4 raises.

In FIG. 2C toilet seat 4 is in a raised position and shield 1 has followed up into a deflecting position to deflect urine from passing between the bottom side of the toilet seat 4 and the top of the toilet bowl 3. This ability to deflect the urine from passing through provides for a healthier and cleaner toilet by keeping urine from being trapped under toilet tank 8 or passing over the back side of toilet.

In FIG. 2D, with toilet seat 4 in the raised position, shield 1 can be removed with the slightest upward motion releasing the hinge rod 5 from the hinge block 2 to accommodate cleaning. The shield can be constructed so that it can be immersed completely for proper germ control. The hinge block 2 can be cleaned as per normal toilet cleaning procedure. Both the shield as well as the hinge block 2 are constructed with all edges smoothed and right angles rounded to avoid any area that could trap contamination. Due to the fact that there are different designs of toilet seat and bowls with drastically different toilet bowl contours the shield can be designed for those individual setups in mind. The injections molds could be designed and put into production at a minimal cost.

With reference now to FIGS. 3A-3B, a representative embodiment is illustrated wherein the shield includes an illumination assembly. The illustrated embodiment can be used as a night time safety light and urine guidance tool for users. FIG. 3A shows shield 1 constructed from a clear or semi-clear acrylic plastic in the raised position. With toilet seat 4 in the raised position, LED light 6 illuminates at least a portion of shield 1. FIG. 3B illustrates LED light 6 being powered by a DC power pack with a battery and motion switch in same unit 7. In FIG. 3B, battery pack/motion switch 7 is sealed inside toilet seat 4.

The battery pack/motion switch can be accessed from a side of the toilet seat to replace the battery pack. With the toilet seat 4 in the lowered position, the motion switch 7 is in an off position. As toilet 4 is raised to an up right position, motion switch 7 senses the change of position and sends power to LED light 6, thus illuminating shield 1 as well as toilet bowl 3. This additional application enables a safer and healthier bathroom, and provides the proper useful training for young users.

Additional training application is accommodated by applying instructional enticing graphics on shield for young male user to view during use.

With reference now to FIG. 4, a side view illustration is provided of a representative shield attached to a surface, wherein the shield is in a hanging position. FIG. 4 provides a side view as well as a contour of a side of a representative deflector shield and coverage of protected area. In FIG. 5, a perspective view of a representative shield attached to a surface is illustrated, wherein the shield is in a hanging position. FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of an attachment area of a hingeblock as well as a representative depth of a deflector shield coverage to inside of a toilet bowl.

With reference to FIGS. 6-8, a representative embodiment for coupling and decoupling a shield from a surface is illustrated. FIG. 6 illustrates grasping a deflector shield at the bottom and lifting upwards. When the deflector shield has reached a horizontal position, the shield is pushed slightly in to enable the hinge to detach from the hinge block. FIGS. 7-8 illustrate lifting away the deflector shield from the seat to clean.

With reference to FIGS. 9-15, a pivotable relationship of a representative shield and corresponding toilet seat is illustrated. FIGS. 9-10 attach in reverse order as removed and lower to hang freely. FIG. 11 illustrates a seat in an upright position and ready for use. In FIG. 12, as the seat is being lowered, the shield glides down the inside of toilet bowl. In FIG. 13, as per placement of a hinge rod, the shield stays at a backward angle. In FIGS. 14-15, as the seat moves closer to closed position, the deflector shield hangs to almost a vertical position. As the seat is closed, the deflector shield hangs vertically and side edges can touch the inside of the toilet bowl.

Thus, as discussed herein, the embodiments of the present invention embrace toilet sanitation. In particular, embodiments of the present invention relate to systems and methods for enhancing sanitary conditions through utilization of a urine deflector shield to capture urine within a toilet bowl and/or to prevent misguided spraying of urine.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes that come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.