As part of the project we where required to write a state of the art review consisting of a 100 words plus 200-500 words on our inventive approach. It was difficult at first to get used to writing about my project without referring to myself but once I got used to it, I was able to ramble away.
The full review is below;
Since the introduction of the modern toilet in 1596, the toilet has remained largely unchanged but has had several improvements made over the course of the 20th century.
The only major change being in 1994 when a ‘Energy Policy Act’ was passed that all toilets should consume 1.6 gallons of water, less than half of what the used previously (Suddath, C. A Brief History of Toilets. 2009).
Aside from the toilet remaining largely unchanged there are also many other issues and problems surrounding the toilet, for example: Seating position, hygiene problems and public toilet issues.
This project will focus on the issues pertaining to toilets in the public space with the aim to solve as many as possible while retaining a strong and feasible concept.
This proposed concept aims to challenge and re-design;
- Flushing methods
- User behaviour
- Self-cleaning capabilities
- A re-designed toilet form relating to ergonomics and anthropometrics
2. Project Research
In today’s society the prevalence of phobias are common. It is estimated that 4 to 5 percent of the US population have one or more clinically significant phobias in a given year (Mental Health, N. Facts about phobias 20130. In the UK, an estimated 10 million have a phobia (NHS. Phobias 2011). Phobias related to toilets are referred to as ‘toilet phobias’ (Anxiety UK, . Toilet Phobia), with the main related conditions being identified as: Social phobia, agoraphobia, OCD, parcopresis, paruresis and panic attacks/ panic disorder (Anxiety UK, . Toilet Phobia). Changing people’s interactions and experiences with public toilets is one way to help ease these phobias. Possible solutions may include odour control or ensuring that the toilet is a clean as possible after every use.
There is research conducted in Taipei that found, after interviewing 100 random people, that almost half of the subjects take a non-sitting (squat) posture while using sitting-type toilets and 86% of the subjects agreed that squatting-type toilets better satisfy sanitary requirements (Dengchuan, C., Manlai, L. An ergonomic approach to public squatting-type toilet design 1998). Obviously this research is not reflective of all societies but it does suggest a strong need for high standards of cleanliness in the public toilet.
There is also research that shows that taking a squatting posture while using a toilet is a more efficient way of going to the toilet. It shows that squatting alleviates pressure, thus making it easier to go to the toilet.
A squatting-type posture may better satisfy sanitary requirements and may also be more beneficial to our digestive system but it can be agreed that a sitting-type posture is more comfortable and preferable for the user (Woishek, R. The public toilet: problems and solutions 2004). Therefore the concept proposed in this paper aims to have a solution that negates the need for a squatting posture.
In the early stages of this project the new concept sought to challenge various features of the existing toilet and also to introduce new ones. Ensuring that the toilet remained clean after each usage was a priority as many users worry about the level of cleanliness and maintenance (Woishek, R. The public toilet: problems and solutions 2004). There have been several attempts at ‘self-cleaning’ toilets, mainly focusing on the seat which comes into full contact with the user. Some the attempts include (Woishek, R. The public toilet: problems and solutions 2004):
- A rotating circular seat which revolves through a cleaning device after each use.
- A device which places a plastic sheet over the seat before each use.
- The use of ultra-violet light to kill off bacteria on the toilet seat.
- A toilet seat connected to a device which washes and dries the seat (Sadegh, A., Chaskel, M. and Lebovits, G. Apparatus for automatic washing, sanitizing and drying toilet seats 1999).
While these solutions do keep the toilet seat clean, they are very expensive and sacrifice function over form. This concept aims to have a modern and simple design so there is no room for large devices attached to the toilet.
A steam cleaning device (Burr, Jean-Marc, Schmitz, Nicolas. Omnidirectional portable appliance for steam cleaning hard or flexible surfaces 2000) would be better suited for the purpose as it is a method used for sterilisation in many healthcare facilities (Rutala, W., Weber, D. Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilisation in Healthcare Facilities 2008). With the steam cleaning method, the toilet would be cleaned after each use which would re-assure the next user that the toilet is clean.
The components of the device would be housed inside the toilet, keeping with the aim of a modern and simple design.
Toilets consume 1.6 gallons of water (Suddath, C. A Brief History of Toilets. 2009) to flush, so devising a way to reduce this amount was the next priority. Negating the need for any water for flushing is the ideal solution but any reduction from 1.6 gallons will be an improvement. The most obvious alternative for a water flushing method is the method which can be found aboard aeroplanes. This works by using a vacuum which is created by using the differential pressure between the aircraft cabin and the ambient pressure outside. The vacuum then circulates flushing fluid around the toilet bowl which ‘flushes’ the toilet (Carolan, R., Kristoffersen, B. Vacuum Toilet System 1977). This method is not feasible for a public toilet but different technologies can be applied for the same method.
During research, it came to attention that several Dyson products, specifically the Dyson Airblade™ (Dyson. Dyson Airblade dB hand dryer) and Dyson V™ (Dyson. Dyson Airblade V hand dryer) hand dryers, could provide solutions for the proposed concept. These hand dryers are capable of drying wet hands in 10 seconds with the use of approximately 400mph blades of air (Dyson. Dyson Airblade dB hand dryer). This is made possible with the Dyson Digital Motor V4™ – “it’s one of the world’s smallest fully-integrated 1600W motors. It’s the only hand dryer motor powerful enough to draw in up to 35 litres of air a second through a HEPA filter, and then dry hands in 10 seconds” (Dyson. Dyson Airblade dB hand dryer). Creating a new conceptual toilet which incorporated the use of this motor was very desirable, potentially it could create a method of flushing that requires no water.
In order to re-design the current toilet, attention must be given to British standards and anthropometric data. The British standards will determine the dimensions of the toilet (British Standards Institution. Wall hung WC pan 1977) and also the dimensions of connections (British Standards Institution. WC pans and WC suites- Connecting dimensions 2011) of various fixtures found in the bathroom.
To ensure maximum comfort and usability across a wide range of people, anthropometric data from Nasa (Rhonda, R., Jeeverajan, A. Anthropometry and Biomechanics 2011) was used. For their standards Nasa used a 40 year old American male and Chinese female, these data collected shows 5, 50 and 95 percentile measurements.
The proposed concept will attempt to design a toilet which requires little to no water to flush and incorporates a steam cleaning system. It also seeks to improve the comfort and usability of the toilet with revised ergonomics based off anthropometric data. It is hoped that the proposed concept will improve user’s overall experience of using the toilet therefore providing comfort to those with anxieties or phobias relating to toilets.
With the research shown in this paper a re-designed concept for a public toilet was created. Powered by the Dyson Digital Motor V4, the toilet ‘flushes’ with blades of air travelling at approximately 400mph. Air from the toilet is squeezed through an outlet of 0.3mm wide to achieve such high speeds and power. To aid in flushing and also cleaning, the toilet has a built-in steam cleaner which operates during the ‘flush’ to both sanitise the toilet and to ensure that nothing remains after flushing. The water tank inside the toiler draws water from the same source as a regular toilet.
As mentioned previously, hygiene in public toilets is a big issue. To help with the issues and to comfort users, the proposed toilet requires no physical contact to operate: to open the lid, the user puts their hand in front of a sensor located at top of the lid. To flush the toilet the user waves their hand across another sensor located near the lids hinge. To assure users that the toilet is clean and ready for use, the toilet lid changes colour depending on it’s current state. Red indicates that the toilet is contaminated or just been in use, oranges indicates that the flushing/cleaning process is underway and finally green indicates that the toilet is clean and ready for next use.
It is hoped that with the inclusion of modern technology and a creative design approach that this newly proposed toilet concept is a step forward in a cleaner, user-friendly public bathroom.
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