US20130167938A1 - Remote monitoring shower water apparatus and method of remote monitoring a showering user - Google Patents

Remote monitoring shower water apparatus and method of remote monitoring a showering user Download PDF

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Publication number
US20130167938A1
US20130167938A1 US13/822,342 US201113822342A US2013167938A1 US 20130167938 A1 US20130167938 A1 US 20130167938A1 US 201113822342 A US201113822342 A US 201113822342A US 2013167938 A1 US2013167938 A1 US 2013167938A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
canceled
shower water
controller
water apparatus
offsite
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
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US13/822,342
Inventor
Robert William Stimpson
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DLP Ltd
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DLP Ltd
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Filing date
Publication date
Priority to GB201016087A priority Critical patent/GB2483909B/en
Priority to GB1016087.7 priority
Application filed by DLP Ltd filed Critical DLP Ltd
Priority to PCT/GB2011/051792 priority patent/WO2012038753A1/en
Assigned to DLP LIMITED reassignment DLP LIMITED ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: STIMPSON, ROBERT WILLIAM
Publication of US20130167938A1 publication Critical patent/US20130167938A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47KSANITARY EQUIPMENT NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; TOILET ACCESSORIES
    • A47K3/00Baths; Douches; Appurtenances therefor
    • A47K3/28Showers or bathing douches
    • A47K3/281Accessories for showers or bathing douches, e.g. cleaning devices for walls or floors of showers
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E03WATER SUPPLY; SEWERAGE
    • E03CDOMESTIC PLUMBING INSTALLATIONS FOR FRESH WATER OR WASTE WATER; SINKS
    • E03C1/00Domestic plumbing installations for fresh water or waste water; Sinks
    • E03C1/02Plumbing installations for fresh water
    • E03C1/05Arrangements of devices on wash-basins, baths, sinks, or the like for remote control of taps
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T137/00Fluid handling
    • Y10T137/0318Processes
    • Y10T137/0324With control of flow by a condition or characteristic of a fluid
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y10TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC
    • Y10TTECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER US CLASSIFICATION
    • Y10T137/00Fluid handling
    • Y10T137/8158With indicator, register, recorder, alarm or inspection means
    • Y10T137/8326Fluid pressure responsive indicator, recorder or alarm

Abstract

Remote-monitoring shower water apparatus comprises a housing, a shower water inlet at the housing, a shower water outlet at the housing, a controller at the housing which controls at least water flow from the shower water inlet to the shower water outlet, and a monitoring device which monitors at least one of the controller and the user of the controller. The monitoring device includes at least one sensor element and an offsite-signal transmitter at or adjacent to the housing which transmits a status signal to a carer location remote from an installation site of the shower water apparatus, based on a status of the sensor element.

Description

  • The present invention relates to remote-monitoring shower water apparatus, to a method of remote-monitoring a showering user by a remote-carer using such apparatus, and to a remote-care showering system which can be used by a remote-carer to monitor and, preferably, remotely-control a showering device in the event of an emergency.
  • The elderly and/or infirm usually prefer to remain in their own homes in order to live as full and independent lives as possible. This has added benefits in that less strain is placed on care homes and Government run institutions. Telehealth and telecare systems are known which typically rely on an alarm or panic pull cord, and/or a push button for example formed as part of a necklace, to alert a remote carer in the event of an emergency. These devices rely on user activation and are not automatic in their operation should the user encounter an issue whereby manual activation cannot be accomplished.
  • Furthermore, accessible installation in a showering area is complicated due to wiring regulations and having to provide a permanent electricity supply in a wet environment and typically within close proximity to a shower head.
  • The present invention seeks to provide a solution to these problems.
  • According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided remote-monitoring shower water apparatus comprising a housing, a shower water inlet at the housing, a shower water outlet at the housing, a controller at the housing for controlling at least water flow from the shower water inlet to the shower water outlet, and a monitoring device for monitoring at least one of the controller and the user of the controller, the monitoring device including a sensor element and an offsite-signal transmitter at or adjacent to the housing for transmitting a status signal to a carer location remote from an installation site of the shower water apparatus based on a status of the sensor element.
  • The term ‘remote-monitoring’ used herein and throughout is intended to encompass telephony based communication as well as wide-area, dedicated wired, wireless or optical public or private internet and wired, wireless and optical network communication. Such monitoring may also beneficially be achieved by transmission of information signals superimposed upon normal power supply mains voltages distributed on community power supply infrastructure cabling.
  • Preferable and/or optional features of the first aspect of the invention are set forth in claims 2 to 17, inclusive.
  • According to a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of remote-monitoring a showering user using shower water apparatus in accordance with the first aspect of the invention, the method comprising the steps of monitoring at least one of a controller of a shower water device and a user of the controller, and outputting a status signal to an offsite carer location remote from the installation site of the shower water apparatus based on a status of the sensor element.
  • Preferable and/or optional features of the second aspect of the invention are set forth in claims 20 to 25, inclusive.
  • According to a third aspect of the invention, there is provided remote-care showering system comprising shower water apparatus in accordance with the first aspect of the invention, a communications system in communication with the offsite-signal transmitter of the monitoring device of the shower water apparatus, and an offsite-carer monitoring element in communication with the communications system for receiving the status signal from the offsite-signal transmitter.
  • Preferable and/or optional features of the third aspect of the invention are set forth in claims 27 to 32, inclusive.
  • The invention will now be more particularly described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which
  • FIG. 1 shows a diagrammatic layout of a remote-care showering system in accordance with the third aspect of the invention utilising remote-monitoring shower water apparatus in accordance with the first aspect of the invention.
  • Referring to the drawing, there is shown a remote care showering system 10 which comprises remote monitoring shower water apparatus 12, a communications system 14, and an offsite carer monitoring element 16. The communications system 14 is preferably a telephone system such as a mobile communications network, but may include a land line network all or any of which feed to a remote base location at which the carer is or may be in contact with. The communications system 14 may also include Internet connectivity which may be in addition to or alternative to the telephone system. The telephone system may of course be implemented via the Internet using voice over IP protocol.
  • The remote base location of the offsite carer monitoring element 16 typically includes a manned monitoring station for receiving incoming alerts via the communications system 14. Such alerts would then be acted upon and/or immediately relayed to the nominated carer. However, the communications system 14 may be additionally or alternatively in direct contact with a communications device of one or more remote carers, such as a mobile telephone or a pager. The manned monitoring station may be remote of the shower installation, but still in the same building, or may conveniently be a different building, such as a base or hub for monitoring and reacting to multiple events.
  • The remote monitoring shower water apparatus 12 comprises a shower water heater housing 18, a shower water inlet 20, a shower water outlet 22, and a controller 24. The heater housing 18 is a typical shower water unit housing 18, which may be plastics or metal. The shower water inlet 20 is at the housing 18 and connectable typically to a potable water supply. In this case, an electric shower water heater element 26 is provided within the housing 18. The heater element 26 is energisable to heat the inflowing potable water from the shower water inlet 20. Heated water from the heater element 26 flows to the shower water outlet 22, and from there to a shower head. The shower head may be rigidly connected to the shower water outlet 22 of the housing 18 via fixed pipework, or flexibly connected to the shower water outlet 22 via a shower hose. The shower head is mounted or mountable above a shower surface, such as a shower tray, bath, or wet floor.
  • The controller 24 at the housing 18 is preferably an electronic controller with an electronic user interface comprising one or more buttons and/or a mechanical user interface comprising a rotary dial and/or lever, for example. A control unit 27 of the controller 24 is provided within the housing 18, and interfaces with the user interface on the exterior of the housing 18.
  • An electricity supply typically enters via a rear of the housing 18 to supply the controller 24 and the heater element 26.
  • The remote monitoring shower water apparatus 12 also comprises a monitoring device 28 for monitoring at least one of the controller 24 and the user 30. In this case, both the controller 24 and the user 30 are monitored simultaneously. However, one or the other may be monitored. The monitoring device 28 includes at least one sensor element 32 and at least one offsite-signal transmitter 34 which in this case is provided within the housing 18.
  • The sensor element 32 outputs a status of at least one of the user interface of the controller 24, the flow condition of the shower water inlet 20, the flow condition of the shower water outlet 22, and the condition of the heater element 26 to a central processor 36 of the control unit 27. The output from the sensor element 32 occurs periodically, and preferably multiple times per second during use of the apparatus 12.
  • At least one further sensor element 38 of the monitoring device 28 is provided externally of the housing 18. In this case, the further sensor element 38 may be mounted on an exterior surface of the housing 18, and this may be in a specific recess in the housing 18 or simply at a most convenient location for the user 30, or remotely spaced from the housing 18, such as on a wall of the showering area.
  • The first said sensor element 32 and the further sensor element 38 are preferably and conveniently powered by the electricity supply of the housing 18. This may be a power supply directly to the heater element, or more typically a power supply which to the controller which feeds subsidiary elements, such as the heater element therefrom.
  • The further sensor element 38, if remotely spaced from the housing 18, may be independently powered by a fixed mains power supply and/or a, preferably rechargeable, battery pack. The further sensor element 38 is adapted to monitor a user 30 using the shower water apparatus 12. To this end, the further sensor element 38 may comprise at least one of a piezo-electric sensor, piezo-resistive sensor, ultrasonic sensor, low-power radar sensor, and capacitative sensor.
  • Furthermore, the further sensor element 38 may be or include an audio detection sensor, for example, for detecting noise from a user 30 and/or their usage of the shower apparatus 12.
  • An output of the further sensor element 38 is inputted to a comparator circuit 40 forming part of the monitoring device 28 and which is preferably provided within the housing 18. The comparator circuit 40 typically undertakes signal conditioning which may include filtering of extraneous noise and comparison with a predetermined expected signal. The predetermined expected signal is, for example, inputted during an installation process of the apparatus 12 via a wired data connection port or wirelessly. This would typically involve, for example, the recording of the user 30 using the shower installation in the normal way or may be inputted as a standard data set during manufacture or production. During use, therefore, an output signal by the further sensor element 38 periodically outputted to the comparator circuit 40 would be filtered and analysed relative to parameters of the predetermined expected signal. A monitoring signal is then be outputted to the central processor 36 of the control unit 27 if at least the parameters were exceeded.
  • On receipt of the monitoring signal, a control circuit 41 of the central processor 36 outputs a control signal via a conditioning circuit 42 to the offsite-signal transmitter 34. The offsite-signal transmitter 34 is thus controlled to output the monitoring signal to the communications system 14 and thus to the offsite carer monitoring element 16.
  • Preferably, the monitoring signal is only outputted by the offsite-signal transmitter 34 if an alert condition is detected by the said parameters being exceeded. However, periodically, a test signal may also be outputted by the offsite-signal transmitter 34 so that the remote carer is aware that the system is working adequately. The monitoring signal received by the sensor element 32 and the further sensor element 38 may also be grouped into ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ categories dependent on the whether an alert condition is detected or not, and outputted accordingly to the remote carer.
  • The monitoring signal may have a marker or tag indicating which sensor element 32, 38 it was derived from. In this case, the conditioning circuit 42 may conveniently interpret the control signal outputted by the control circuit 41 as a particular phrase relating to activity or inactivity of the user 30. As such, the specific phrase can be outputted by the offsite-signal transmitter 34 to the offsite carer monitoring element 16 via the communications system 14 as an electronic voice and/or as a text message, for example. This thereby provides the remote carer with valuable further information when an alert is received. Such interpretative outputtable phrases may be, for example, ‘shower off’; ‘shower on’; user in shower area’; ‘no user in shower area’; ‘user moving’ user not moving'; ‘user adjusting controls’; ‘controls not adjusted for XX minutes’; ‘continuous water flow for XX minutes’, where ‘XX’ is a predetermined number dictated by the installer or set by the user or carer.
  • Preferably, the monitoring device 28 further comprises an offsite-signal receiver 44 in the housing 18 which is communicable with the communications system 14 to receive a control signal from the remote carer. The receiver 44 outputs to a control circuit of the controller 24, thereby allowing a remote carer to control at least one of the functions of the controller 24. For example, a control signal received by the receiver 44 may enable a flow of water from the shower water outlet 22 of the housing 18 to be halted. This would be particularly beneficial in helping to prevent the possibility of a user 30 in distress being subjected to, for example, hypothermia. To prevent or limit the possibility of this control function being misused, for example, if a carer's communications device was stolen, the incoming control signal from the remote carer may be password protected or encrypted.
  • Although it is preferable that the monitoring device be provided within the water heater housing in order to conveniently access the incoming electricity supply, the monitoring device may be provided in its own monitor housing on or adjacent to the heater housing. In this latter case, an electrical feed may be taken from the incoming electricity supply of the water heater housing.
  • If the sensor is remote and in wireless communication, then the monitoring device would include a wireless data receiver, and the sensor element would include a wireless data transmitter. Suitable transmission protocols would be Bluetooth® IEEE 802.15.1-2002 or wireless broadband IEEE 802.11n, for example.
  • The sensor element actively monitors the controller and the further sensor element actively monitors the user. The sensor element for the controller may simply be an electronic output of the controller which is fed to the central processor. This may be incorporated as part of the controller, and may be provided integrally as one-piece or as a retro-fit. One or other of the sensor elements may be dispensed with.
  • An alarm switch may also be included for manual activation by the user in the event of an emergency. The alarm switch may include a graspable pull cord and/or a push button switch, and may be mounted remotely from the water heater housing and/or the or each sensor element.
  • Although the monitoring device is suggested as being incorporated as part of a shower water heater, it may be incorporated as part of or adjacent to a shower water housing which may be devoid of a water heater. In this case, heated water would typically be fed into the housing from a remote boiler. Such a shower water housing may be a shower water mixer housing.
  • A plurality of said sensor elements and/or further sensor elements may be provided, all feeding back to the control circuit of the monitoring device.
  • It is thus possible to provide remote-monitoring shower water apparatus which can be accommodated directly within a shower water heater housing or adjacent thereto, and which can conveniently utilise an electrical power supply thereof. The apparatus can monitor the status of the user and the controller of the shower water heater, and externally report to a remote offsite carer location. It is also possible to provide apparatus which can be remotely controlled by the remote carer in the event of an alert condition being automatically determined and transmitted.
  • The embodiments described above are provided by way of examples only, and various other modifications will be apparent to persons skilled in the art without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

Claims (52)

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33. Remote-monitoring shower water apparatus comprising a housing, a shower water inlet at the housing, a shower water outlet at the housing, a controller at the housing which controls at least water flow from the shower water inlet to the shower water outlet, and a monitoring device which monitors at least one of the controller and the user of the controller, the monitoring device including a sensor element and an offsite-signal transmitter at or adjacent to the housing which transmits a status signal to a carer location remote from an installation site of the shower water apparatus based on a status of the sensor element.
34. Shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 33, wherein the offsite-signal transmitter transmits a status signal to a remote carer location in a different building.
35. Shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 33, wherein the controller is an electronic controller, the monitoring device being energisable by a power supply of the controller.
36. Shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 33, further comprising an electric water heater, the monitoring device being energisable by a power supply of the water heater.
37. Shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 33, further comprising a comparator circuit which compares an output of the in use sensor element with a predetermined expected output, the offsite-signal transmitter being activatable if the said output is outside a parameter of the predetermined expected output.
38. Shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 33, further comprising an offsite-signal receiver at or adjacent to the housing which receives a control signal from the carer location whereby the controller is remotely controllable.
39. Shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 38, wherein at least one of the offsite-signal transmitter and the offsite-signal receiver are communicable with a telephone system.
40. Shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 33, wherein a said sensor element monitors each of the controller and the user of the controller.
41. Shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 33, wherein the sensor element of the said monitoring device is provided at or adjacent to an exterior of the housing of the shower water apparatus or is remote from the housing of the shower water apparatus.
42. Shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 33, wherein the monitoring device includes a user-operable alarm switch having a user-graspable cord which outputs an alarm signal to the offsite-signal transmitter.
43. Shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 33, wherein the or a said sensor element is at least one of a piezo-electric sensor, piezo-resistive sensor, ultrasonic sensor, low-power radar sensor, capacitative sensor, and an audio-detection sensor.
44. Shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 33, further comprising a drain pump which is spaced from the housing and which is controllable by the controller.
45. A method of remote-monitoring a showering user using shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 33, the method comprising the steps of monitoring at least one of a controller of a shower water device and a user of the controller, and outputting a status signal to an offsite carer location remote from the installation site of the shower water apparatus based on a status of the sensor element.
46. A method as claimed in claim 45, further comprising the step of remotely controlling the controller based on the outputted status signal.
47. A method as claimed in claim 46, wherein remote control of the controller is via at least one of a password protected signal and an encrypted signal.
48. A method as claimed in claim 45, wherein the offsite carer location includes a carer's mobile communications device.
49. A method as claimed in claim 45, wherein the outputted status signal includes a phrase corresponding to the status of the sensor element.
50. Shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 33, further comprising a communications system in communication with the offsite-signal transmitter of the monitoring device of the shower water apparatus, and an offsite-carer monitoring element in communication with the communications system which receives the status signal from the offsite-signal transmitter.
51. Shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 50, wherein the offsite-carer monitoring element is outside of the building in which the shower water apparatus is located.
52. Shower water apparatus as claimed in claim 51, wherein the controller of the shower water apparatus is remotely controllable, the shower water apparatus including an offsite-signal receiver which receives a control signal via the communications system from the offsite-carer monitoring element.
US13/822,342 2010-09-24 2011-09-22 Remote monitoring shower water apparatus and method of remote monitoring a showering user Abandoned US20130167938A1 (en)

Priority Applications (3)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB201016087A GB2483909B (en) 2010-09-24 2010-09-24 Improvements in or relating to shower water apparatus
GB1016087.7 2010-09-24
PCT/GB2011/051792 WO2012038753A1 (en) 2010-09-24 2011-09-22 Remote monitoring shower water apparatus and method of remote monitoring a showering user

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US20130167938A1 true US20130167938A1 (en) 2013-07-04

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EP (1) EP2619374A1 (en)
GB (1) GB2483909B (en)
WO (1) WO2012038753A1 (en)

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EP2619374A1 (en) 2013-07-31
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GB2483909B (en) 2014-04-16
GB201016087D0 (en) 2010-11-10

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