AUTOMATIC HEAD CARE METHOD AND AUTOMATIC HEAD CARE SYSTEM

An automatic head care system capable of reliably caring, such as kneading and washing, or massaging, an entire occipital region with the occipital region securely supported is realized. By a method using an automatic head care system including an occipital region care unit having an occipital region contact unit and a pair of care arms having head contact units, when the care arms care a head except for an occipital region, the occipital region contact unit of the occipital region care unit supports the occipital region, and when the occipital region care unit cares the occipital region, the head contact units of the care arms support the head.

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Description

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to an automatic head care system for automatically caring a person's head.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A hair washing has been known as one of the typical person's head cares. In the industry of beauty care including hair styling and hair cutting, head washing is laborious and has been desired to be automated. Also in the medical field, head washing for inpatients is laborious and has been desired to be automated.

There has been known, for example, an automatic hair washing apparatus disclosed in Patent Document 1 washing a person's head automatically. The automatic hair washing apparatus has a bowl accommodating the person's head lying with his/her face upward, a head support net supporting an occipital region of the head from below in the bowl, and a plurality of nozzles ejecting washing water from below toward the head. The automatic hair washing apparatus ejects water from the nozzles, thereby washing hair of the person's head supported by the head support net. In the automatic hair washing apparatus, ejecting pressure of each of the nozzles is controlled to be switched at predetermined time intervals. Patent Document 1 discloses that such control allows a person whose hair is washed by the automatic hair washing apparatus to feel as if his head is massaged by hand.

Patent Document 1: WO 2010/090005 A1

Disadvantageously, as in the automatic hair washing apparatus disclosed in Patent Document 1, when the ejection pressure of washing water is merely changed, persons may not sufficiently feel as if their heads are kneaded and washed or massaged.

The inventor intended to develop an automatic head care system having a pair of right and left movable arms kneading and washing, or massaging a person's head, as an automatic head care system capable of giving a person the same feeling as when the head is kneaded and washed, or massaged by hand.

Disadvantageously, in the case where head is kneaded and washed, or massaged with the automatic head care system having such arms, the occipital region needs to be supported from below by some support member. In this case, a portion of the occipital region, which interferes with the support member, cannot be cared with the arms.

In order to solve the problem, an object of the present invention is to provide an automatic head care system capable of reliably caring, such as kneading and washing, or massaging an entire occipital region with the occipital region securely supported.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

For this purpose, an automatic head care method of the present invention uses an automatic head care system including an occipital region care unit supporting the head, a pair of care arms arranged on right and left sides of the occipital region care unit, a head contact unit provided at each of the pair of care arms, an arm actuator driving the care arms, an occipital region contact unit provided at the occipital region care unit, an occipital region care unit actuator driving the occipital region care unit, and an occipital region pushing force detector detecting a pushing force on the occipital region contact unit, the method comprising:

supporting the occipital region by the occipital region contact unit of the occipital region care unit when the care arms care the head except for the occipital region; and

supporting the head by the head contact units of the care arms when the occipital region care unit cares the occipital region.

Further, for this purpose, an automatic head care system of the present invention includes:

an occipital region care unit supporting a person's head;

a pair of care arms arranged on right and left sides of the occipital region care unit;

a head contact unit provided at each of the pair of care arms;

an arm actuator driving the care arms;

an occipital region contact unit provided at the occipital region care unit;

an occipital region care unit actuator driving the occipital region care unit;

an occipital region pushing force detector detecting a pushing force on the occipital region contact unit; and

a control device controlling the arm actuator and the occipital region care unit actuator,

wherein the control device performs such control that

when the care arms care the head except for the occipital region, the occipital region contact unit of the occipital region care unit supports the occipital region, and that

when the occipital region care unit cares the occipital region, the head contact units of the care arms support the head.

ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention, a person's entire occipital region can be reliably cared, such as washed and kneaded, or massaged, with the occipital region securely supported.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing a specific example of an automatic head washing system in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a plan view showing the automatic head washing system in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a diagram showing the schematic configurations of a left washing unit and a right washing unit.

FIG. 4 is a diagram showing the driving mechanism of an arm.

FIG. 5A is a diagram illustrating a kneading operation of the arm.

FIG. 5B is a diagram illustrating the kneading operation of the arm.

FIG. 6 is a side view showing a specific example of a head care unit of the arm.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view showing the specific example of the head care unit of the arm.

FIG. 8 is a diagram illustrating the direction of a pushing rotation of the arm.

FIG. 9 is a diagram illustrating the direction of a swinging rotation of the arm.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view showing a specific example of an occipital region care unit.

FIG. 11 is a side view illustrating the swinging operation of the occipital region care unit.

FIG. 12 is a block diagram showing the configuration of a control device of the automatic head washing system in FIG. 1.

FIG. 13 is a block diagram showing the configuration of an occipital region pushing force control section in accordance with the first embodiment.

FIG. 14 is a block diagram showing the configuration of an occipital region pushing force control section in accordance with a second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 15 is a block diagram showing the configuration of an occipital region pushing force control section in accordance with a third embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 16 is a block diagram showing the configuration of an occipital region pushing force control section of another aspect of the first embodiment.

FIG. 17 is a flow chart showing a head washing operation in accordance with the first embodiment.

EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

With reference to the drawings, an embodiment according to the present invention will be described hereinafter. Like elements are denoted by like reference numerals to avoid duplicate descriptions and descriptions thereof may be omitted. Each drawing mainly shows structural element or elements schematically for the better understanding thereof.

In the present specification, the term “water” is used in a broader sense including “hot water”. In other words, the term “water” in the present specification means “water or hot water”. In the present specification, the term “hot water” is used in a narrower sense including only “hot water”.

An automatic head washing system for automatically washing a person's head will be described in the embodiments as an example of an automatic head care system for automatically caring a person's head. Further, a head washing operation of automatically washing a person's head will be described in the embodiments as an example of an automatic head care method for automatically caring a person's head. It should be noted that the expression “caring of a person's head” refers to caring a person's head with pressing force, such as washing or massaging of a person's head. Also, it should be noted that the expression “washing of a person's head” means washing of a person's scalp or hair, for example with kneading. In the present specification, “left” or “right” refers to the direction viewed from the person whose head is cared.

First Embodiment

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing the schematic configuration of an automatic head washing system 100 in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention, and FIG. 2 is a plan view showing the schematic configuration of the automatic head washing system 100.

As shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, the automatic head washing system 100 has a bowl 101 enclosing an almost half rear surface of a head 10 of a person who lies with his/her face upward.

The bowl 101 is provided with a notch 101c supporting a person's neck from below. The notch 101c is provided at the center of the bowl 101 in the lateral direction. The person's neck is set at the notch 101c, thereby positioning the person's head 10 at the substantially center of the bowl 101 in the lateral direction. An occipital region care unit 500 is provided in the bowl 101 such that an occipital region 11 of the person's head 10 (see FIG. 13) can be supported from below. The occipital region care unit 500 is provided so as to rise from a bottom 101d of the bowl 101. Specific configuration of the occipital region care unit 500 will be described later. To prevent water and shampoo from scattering toward the outside, a hood 113 is detachably attached to the bowl 101. Preferably, the hood 113 is openable and is made of a transparent material so as not to cause the person to have an oppressive feeling and anxiety during washing.

When the automatic head washing system 100 washes the person's head 10, a water shield may be attached to the person's head 10. When the water shield is attached to the person's head 10, water and so on ejected from below-mentioned nozzles 110 are shielded by the water shield, preventing water and so on from scattering onto a person's face.

Support columns 102L and 102R are provided on the right and left sides, respectively, of the occipital region care unit 500 in a housing 101a constituting the bowl 101. Support columns 102L and 102R are movable in the lateral direction of the head 10. Thus, the distance between the person's head 10 and each of below-mentioned arm bases 103L and 103R can be adjusted according to the size of the person's head 10.

A washing unit 12 washing the person's head 10 is provided in the bowl 101. The washing unit 12 is configured of a left washing unit 12L located on the left side of the occipital region care unit 500 and a right washing unit 12R located on the right side of the occipital region care unit 500. Driving of these washing units 12 and the occipital region care unit 500 is controlled by a below-mentioned control device 600.

First, the configuration of the left washing unit 12L will be described.

The left washing unit 12L has a support shaft 104L coupled to the support column 102L, and can rotate about the support shaft 104L. The support shaft 104L is provided on the left side of the head 10 so as to extend in the lateral direction of the head 10. The left washing unit 12L is configured of a left arm 114L and a pipe 111L. The left arm 114L includes an arm housing 115L. The left arm housing 115L conforms to the left half of the head 10. Specifically, the arm housing 115L extends from its bottom end to the center in a substantially linear manner, and from the center to its tip end in a substantially arcuate manner. A first arm 105L, a second arm 106L, and third arms 107L and 108L, which are shown in FIG. 3 or FIG. 4, are stored in the arm housing 115L. The arms 114L and 114R are an example of care arms.

FIG. 3 is a schematic view showing the configuration of the left washing unit 12L and the right washing unit 12R, and FIG. 4 is a schematic view showing the driving mechanism of the left arm 114L. In FIG. 3 and FIG. 4, the vertical direction is defined as a Z axis, and directions perpendicular to the vertical direction are defined as an X axis and a Y axis.

As shown in FIG. 3, the pipe 111L of the left washing unit 12L has a plurality of nozzles 110 ejecting at least one of water, a washing liquid, and conditioner toward the head 10. The pipe 111L is attached to the arm base 103L fixed to the support shaft 104L, and can rotate about the support shaft 104L together with the arm base 103L.

The first arm 105L is attached to the arm base 103L, and can rotate about the support shaft 104L together with the arm base 103L. The first arm 105L rotatably supports the second arm 106L. The second arm 106L rotatably supports the two third arms 107L and 108L. A head contact unit 409L that can contact the head 10 is attached to the third arms 107L and 108L.

The head contact unit 409L has a plurality of contacts 109. The contacts 109 are exposed to the outside of the arm housing 115L. The contacts 109 are made of an elastic rubber material, for example. As shown in FIG. 1, when the automatic head washing system 100 cares the head 10, a cover 116 (see FIG. 1) may be attached to the contacts 109. The cover 116 can prevent water, shampoo, or stains from adhering to the contacts 109.

A left arm swinging motor 201L is arranged in the support column 102L. A rotation output of the left arm swinging motor 201L is transmitted to the support shaft 104L through a gear 203L attached to a motor rotation output shaft 202L and a gear 204L attached to the support shaft 104L. The arm base 103L attached to the support shaft 104L is driven by the rotation output transmitted from the left arm swinging motor 201L so as to be rotatable in the direction of an arrow 205L.

A left arm pushing motor 206L and an arm rotation shaft 209L are arranged in the arm base 103L. The arm rotation shaft 209L is provided at a substantially right angle to the support shaft 104L. A rotation output of the left arm pushing motor 206L is transmitted to the first arm 105L through a gear 207L attached to a motor rotation output shaft 207La and a gear 208L attached to the arm rotation shaft 209L. The first arm 105L is driven by the rotation output transmitted from the left arm pushing motor 206L so as to be rotatable about the arm rotation shaft 209L in the direction of an arrow 210L.

The first arm 105L includes a first pressure sensor 211L that is a first head pushing force detector detecting the pushing force of the head 10 on the head contact unit 409L. The first arm 105L rotatably supports the second arm 106L through a support shaft 212L. The second arm 106L rotatably supports the third arm 107L through the support shaft 213L, and rotatably supports the third arm 108L through a support shaft 214L.

In FIG. 4, the third arms 107L and 108L are viewed from the surface of the head 10 in the direction of a normal 215L (see FIG. 3). To describe the drive transmitting system of the left arm 114L, FIG. 4 schematically shows the arrangement of each of the arm base 103L, the first arm 105L, and the second arm 106L.

As shown in FIG. 4, a left arm kneading motor 301L is arranged in the second arm 106L. A rotation output of the left arm kneading motor 301L is transmitted to a drive shaft 304L through a gear 302L attached to a motor rotation output shaft and a gear 303L attached to the drive shaft 304L. The drive shaft 304L is driven by the rotation output transmitted from the left arm kneading motor 301L so as to be rotatable about the shaft.

A rotation output of a gear 305L attached to one end of the drive shaft 304L is transmitted to a gear 307L and a gear 311L that are attached to the third arm 107L through a cylindrical rack 306L. The cylindrical rack 306L moves parallel to the support shaft 213L, thereby causing the gear 307L to rotate about a rotation shaft 308L and the gear 311L to rotate about a rotation shaft 312L. The cylindrical rack 306L is rotatably supported by the second arm 106L through the support shaft 213L, and is held so as to be movable parallel to the support shaft 213L.

The cylindrical rack 306L is substantially cylindrical as a whole, and includes an axisymmetric rack mechanism 306La on its side surface. The rack mechanism 306La engages with the gear 305L attached to the drive shaft 304L as well as the gear 307L and the gear 311L.

A fourth arm 309L coupling the two contacts 109 to each other is connected to the gear 307L. The two contacts 109 of the fourth arm 309L rotate about the rotation shaft 308L integrally with the gear 307L. Similarly, a fourth arm 310L coupling the two contacts 109 to each other is connected to the gear 311L. The two contacts 109 of the fourth arm 310L rotate about the rotation shaft 312L integrally with the gear 311L.

A rotation output of a gear 313L attached to the other end of the drive shaft 304L is transmitted to a gear 315L and a gear 318L that are attached to the third arm 108L through a cylindrical rack 314L. The cylindrical rack 314L moves parallel to the support shaft 214L, thereby causing the gear 315L to rotate about a rotation shaft 316L and the gear 318L to rotate about a rotation shaft 319L. The cylindrical rack 314L is substantially cylindrical as a whole, and has an axisymmetric rack mechanism 314La on its side surface. The cylindrical rack 314L is rotatably supported by the second arm 106L through the support shaft 214L, and is held so as to be movable parallel to the support shaft 214L.

A fourth arm 317L coupling the two contacts 109 to each other is connected to the gear 315L. The two contacts 109 of the fourth arm 317L rotate about the rotation shaft 316L integrally with the gear 315L. Similarly, a fourth arm 320L coupling the two contacts 109 to each other is connected to the gear 318L. The two contacts 109 of the fourth arm 320L rotate about the rotation shaft 319L integrally with the gear 318L.

FIG. 5A and FIG. 5B are views showing a kneading operation of the left arm 114L. FIG. 5A shows the cylindrical racks 306L and 314L supported by the second arm 106L, and the gears 307L, 311L, 315L, and 318L that are attached to the third arms 107L and 108L, the fourth arms 309L, 310L, 317L, and 320L, and the contacts 109. FIG. 5B shows the fourth arms 309L, 310L, 317L, and 320L and the contacts 109, and does not show the cylindrical racks 306L and 314L and the gears 307L, 311L, 315L, and 318L. In FIG. 5A and FIG. 5B, the second arm 106L and the third arms 107L and 108L are schematically shown as a bar 27 in a unit.

As shown in FIG. 5A, when the cylindrical rack 306L moves in the direction of an arrow 27a, the gear 307L adjacent to the cylindrical rack 306L rotates in the direction of an arrow 27b, and the gear 311L rotates in the direction of an arrow 27c. In line with this, the contacts 109 attached to the gears 307L and 311L through the fourth arms 309L and 310L, respectively, rotates in opposite directions of arrows 27d and 27e.

When the cylindrical rack 314L moves in the direction of the arrow 27a, the gear 315L adjacent to the cylindrical rack 314L rotates in the direction of the arrow 27b, and the gear 318L rotates in the direction of the arrow 27c. In line with this, the contacts 109 attached to the gears 315L and 318L through the fourth arms 317L and 320L, respectively, rotate in the opposite directions of the arrows 27d and 27e.

When the cylindrical racks 306L and 314L rotate in the direction of the arrow 27a, the adjacent gears 307L and 318L attached to the adjacent different third arms 107L and 108L (see FIG. 4), respectively, rotate in opposite directions. As a result, the contacts 109 attached to the gears 307L and 318L through the fourth arms 309L and 320L, respectively, move in the opposite directions of the arrows 27d and 27e. When the cylindrical racks 306L and 314L move in the direction of the arrow 27a, the two contacts 109 adjacent to each other in the direction orthogonal to the axial direction of the cylindrical racks 306L and 314L move to get close to or away from each other in the directions of the arrows 27d and 27e.

When the cylindrical racks 306L and 314L move in the direction of the arrow 27a after the contacts 109 make contact with scalp of the person's head 10, scalp areas in contact with the contacts 109 get close to or away from each other. This can contract or extend the scalp of the person's head 10, thereby kneading the scalp of the person's head 10.

When the cylindrical racks 306L and 314L move in the direction of the arrow 27a in the state where the contacts 109 are in contact with hair on the person's head 10, hair between the contacts 109 can be pinched or pulled to displace and move bunches constituting hair in various directions, thereby kneading the bunches.

As shown in FIG. 5B, when the cylindrical racks 306L and 314L move in the opposite direction to the direction of the arrow 27a (see FIG. 5A), the gears 307L, 311L, 315L, and 318L (see FIG. 5A) and the contacts 109 each move in the opposite direction to the operating direction shown in FIG. 5A. In the left washing unit 12L, the cylindrical racks 306L and 314L can be reciprocated in the direction of the arrow 27a and the opposite direction to the direction of the arrow 27a to alternate a state A in FIG. 5A and a state B in FIG. 5B and oscillate the contacts 109. As a result, the operation of kneading the head 10 with the plurality of contacts 109 (hereinafter referred to as a “kneading operation”) is achieved.

The right washing unit 12R and the left washing unit 12L are symmetrically configured right and left.

That is, as shown in FIG. 1, FIG. 2, and FIG. 3, the right washing unit 12R has a support shaft 104R coupled to the support column 102R, and can rotate about the support shaft 104R. The right washing unit 12R includes a right arm 114R and a pipe 111R, and the right arm 114R has an arm housing 115R. First to third arms 105R, 106R, 107R, and 108R are stored in the arm housing 115R. As shown in FIG. 3, the first arm 105R is attached to an arm base 103R, and can rotate about the support shaft 104R together with the arm base 103R. A head contact unit 409R that can contact the head 10 is attached to the third arms 107R and 108R. The head contact unit 409R has a plurality of contacts 109.

A right arm swinging motor 201R is arranged in the support column 102R. A rotation output of the right arm swinging motor 201R is transmitted to the support shaft 104R through a gear 203R attached to a motor rotation output shaft 202R and a gear 204R attached to the support shaft 104R. The arm base 103R attached to the support shaft 104R is driven by the rotation output transmitted from the right arm swinging motor 201R so as to be rotatable in the direction of an arrow 205R.

A right arm pushing motor 206R and an arm rotation shaft 209R are arranged in the arm base 103R. The arm rotation shaft 209R is provided at a substantially right angle to the support shaft 104R. A rotation output of the right arm pushing motor 206R is transmitted to the first arm 105R through a gear 207R attached to a motor rotation output shaft 207Ra and a gear 208R attached to the arm rotation shaft 209R of the first arm 105R. The first arm 105R is driven by the rotation output transmitted from the right arm pushing motor 206L so as to be rotatable about the arm rotation shaft 209R in the direction of an arrow 210R.

The first arm 105R includes a second pressure sensor 211R that is a second head pushing force detector detecting the pushing force of the head 10 on the head contact unit 409R. The first arm 105R rotatably supports the second arm 106R through the support shaft 212R. The second arm 106R rotatably supports the third arm 107R through a support shaft 213R, and rotatably supports the third arm 108R through a support shaft 214R.

Gears that engage with a cylindrical rack are attached to each of the third arms 107R and 108R. The cylindrical racks are rotatably supported by the second arm 106R through the support shafts 213R and 214R, and are held so as to be movable parallel to the support shafts 213R and 214R. Each of the gears is connected to a fourth arm coupling the two contacts 109 to each other, and the two contacts 109 are rotated by a right arm kneading motor arranged in the second arm 106R integrally with the gear.

Next, with reference to FIG. 6 and FIG. 7, a specific example of a head care unit 40 configured of a part closer to the distal ends than the first arms 105L and 105R in the left arm 114L and the right arm 114R will be described.

FIG. 6 is a side view showing the specific example of the head care unit 40, and FIG. 7 is a perspective view showing the specific example of the head care unit 40. In FIG. 6 and FIG. 7, the second arm 106L is partially shown. In FIG. 6 and FIG. 7, although the head care unit 40 of the left arm 114L is shown, the right arm 114R has a similar head care unit.

As shown in FIG. 6 and FIG. 7, the head care unit 40 includes the drive shaft 304L transmitting an output from the left arm kneading motor 301L arranged in the second arm 106L, the two cylindrical racks 306L and 314L that engage with the gears 305L and 313L arranged at the both ends of the drive shaft 304L, respectively, and the third arms 107L and 108L rotatably held by the support shafts 213L and 214L that correspond to central axes 306Lb and 314Lb of the two cylindrical racks 306L and 314L, respectively.

In the head care unit 40, a rotation output of the left arm kneading motor 301L is transmitted to the gears 307L, 311L, 315L, and 318L attached to the third arms 107L and 108L through the gears 305L and 313L and the cylindrical racks 306L and 314L that are arranged at both ends of the drive shaft 304L. The rotation output transmitted from the left arm kneading motor 301L causes the gears 307L, 311L, 315L, and 318L to rotate, rotating the two contacts 109 attached to each of the gears 307L, 311L, 315L, and 318L.

The two cylindrical racks 306L and 314L are rotatably supported by the second arm 106L through the support shafts 213L and 214L, respectively. The gear 307L engaging with the cylindrical rack 306L is connected to the rotation shaft 308L rotatably held by the third arm 107L. The rotation shaft 308L is connected to the fourth arm 309L coupling the two contacts 109 to each other. Thus, the gear 307L and the contacts 109 can rotate about the rotation shaft 308L together. The rotation shaft 308L is designed to maintain the engagement state between the cylindrical rack 306L and the gear 307L, for example, by including flanges in top and bottom portions across the third arm 107L. The gears 311L, 315L, and 318L are configured like the gear 307L. Specifically, the gears 311L, 315L, and 318L can rotate about the rotation shafts 312L, 316L, and 319L, respectively, integrally with the contacts 109.

The fourth arms 309L, 310L, 317L, and 320L each are inverted V-like shaped, and function as a plate spring as an example of an elastic body. Thus, the contacts 109 are pushed onto the person's head 10 by elastic forces of the fourth arms 309L, 310L, 317L, and 320L, and move along the surface of the person's head 10. Therefore, the person's head 10 can be cared smoothly and efficiently with the contacts 109.

With reference to FIG. 8 and FIG. 9, various definitions of the operating direction of the right and left arms 114L and 114R will be described below. Although FIG. 8 and FIG. 9 show only the left arm 114L of the right and left arms 114L and 114R, the same definition is applied to the right arm 114R as well.

As shown in FIG. 8, the arm 114L (114R) rotates about the arm rotation shaft 209L (209R) so as to get close to or away from the surface of the person's head 10, which is referred to as a “pushing rotation”. The direction in which the arm 114L (114R) gets close to the head 10 is referred to as “pushing direction (direction of an arrow D1)”, and the direction in which the arm 114L (114R) gets away from the head 10 is referred to as a “release direction (direction of an arrow D2)”. The angular position at which the arm 114L (114R) is furthest from the head 10 is defined as 0 degrees, and an angle displaced from the angular position of 0 degrees in the pushing direction is referred to as a “pushing angle θPL PR)”.

As shown in FIG. 9, in the automatic head washing system 100, the arm 114L (114R) rotates about the support shaft 104L (104R) in the forward and rearward direction of the head 10, which is referred to as a “swinging rotation”. The direction of the swinging rotation toward the front of the head 10 (direction of an arrow D3) is defined as a positive direction. As for the angle of the swinging rotation, the angular position in the rear of the head 10 is defined as 0 degrees, and an angle displaced from the angular position of 0 degrees in the positive direction is referred to as a “swing angle θSL SR)”. That is, the direction in which the swing angle θSL SR) is 0 degrees is a vertically downward direction. In this embodiment, the maximum value of the swing angle θSL SR) is set to 130 degrees for example. That is, in this embodiment, the swing angle θSL SR) at which the head contact units 409L and 409R of the arms 114L and 114R are arranged vertically downward with respect to the support shafts 104L and 104R, respectively, is referred to as 0 degrees. In this embodiment, the swing angle θSL SR) of the arms 114L and 114R at which the head contact units 409L and 409R are arranged in a horizontal direction toward the top of the head 10 supported by the occipital region care unit 500 with respect to the support shafts 104L and 104R of the arms 114L and 114R is defined as 90 degrees.

Returning to FIG. 3, the automatic head washing system 100 has a water system valve 216, a washing liquid system valve 217, and a conditioner system valve 218. Outlets of the water system valve 216, the washing liquid system valve 217, and the conditioner system valve 218 are interconnected in parallel, and are connected to pipes 111L and 111R through piping 219. An inlet of the water system valve 216 is connected to a water system supplying unit to receive water from the outside. An inlet of the washing liquid system valve 217 is connected to a mixing unit 220 mixing a washing liquid and compressed air to receive a mousse-like washing liquid formed by mixing the washing liquid from a washing liquid supplying unit 222 supplying a washing liquid such as shampoo and compressed air in the mixing unit 220. An inlet of the conditioner system valve 218 is connected to a conditioner supplying unit 221 to receive conditioner from the conditioner supplying unit 221.

In the automatic head washing system 100, by appropriately controlling the water system valve 216, the washing liquid system valve 217, and the conditioner system valve 218, water, a mousse-like washing liquid, or conditioner can be ejected from the plurality of nozzles 110 provided at the pipes 111L and 111R. Mist-like conditioner may be ejected from a nozzle other than the nozzles 110. In this case, a path for the conditioner may be formed by connecting the nozzle capable of spraying conditioner to the conditioner system valve 218.

In the automatic head washing system 100, the washing unit 12 can be operated according to the shape of the person's head 10 to wash the head 10. Therefore, the person's head 10 can be efficiently washed to reduce the amount of used water or shampoo as well as waste water.

As shown in FIG. 2, in the automatic head washing system 100, two drain outlets 101b are provided on the bottom 101d of the bowl 101 to discharge washing water and so on through the drain outlets 101b. A drain pipe is connected to the drain outlets 101b. Water and so on used for washing are discharged from the drain outlets 101b to the outside.

Next, with reference to FIG. 10 and FIG. 11, a specific example of the occipital region care unit 500 will be described below. The occipital region care unit 500 has a function of caring the person's occipital region 11 (see FIG. 13) and a function of supporting the occipital region 11 when the arms 114L and 114R care the person's head 10. When the occipital region care unit 500 cares the occipital region 11, the head 10 is supported by the arms 114L and 114R as described later.

As shown in FIG. 10, the occipital region care unit 500 has the similar configuration to that of the head care unit 40 of the arms 114L and 114R. The occipital region care unit 500 has an occipital region contact unit 548 having a plurality of contacts 550 that can contact the occipital region 11 and an occipital region kneading motor 501 allowing the occipital region contact unit 548 to perform the kneading operation. Although each constituent of the occipital region care unit 500 in FIG. 10 is stored in a housing 560 (see FIG. 11), the housing 560 is not shown in FIG. 10. However, the below-mentioned contacts 550 and kneading arms 509, 510, 539, and 540 are exposed from the housing 560.

The occipital region kneading motor 501 is installed in the housing 560. A rotation output of the occipital region kneading motor 501 is transmitted to a drive shaft 504 through a gear 502 attached to a motor rotation output shaft and a gear 503 attached to the drive shaft 504. Gears 505 and 513 are provided at both respective ends of the drive shaft 504. One gear 505 engages with a first cylindrical rack 506, and the other gear 513 engages with a second cylindrical rack 514. Support shafts 523 and 524 of the cylindrical racks 506 and 514 are rotatably held by holding stages 527 and 528.

Two gears 507 and 511 engage with the first cylindrical rack 506, and two gears 537 and 541 engage with the second cylindrical rack 514. Although the gears 507, 511, 537, and 541 are fan-like in FIG. 10, the shape of the gears 507, 511, 537, and 541 is not specifically limited.

The kneading arms 509, 510, 539, and 540 are connected to the gears 507, 511, 537, and 541 through rotation shafts 508, 512, 538, and 542, respectively. Thus, the gears 507, 511, 537, and 541 and the kneading arms 509, 510, 539, and 540 can integrally rotate about the rotation shafts 508, 512, 538, and 542, respectively.

The rotation shafts 508, 512, 538, and 542 are rotatably held by the holding stages 527 and 528. The rotation shafts 508, 512, 538, and 542 are designed to maintain the engagement state between the cylindrical racks 506 and 514 and the gears 507, 511, 537, and 541, for example, by including flanges in top and bottom portions across the holding stages 527 and 528.

The contacts 550 are provided at both ends of each of the kneading arms 509, 510, 539, and 540. In FIG. 10, the contacts 550 shown on the right side of the center contact the left half of the occipital region 11, and the contacts 550 shown on the left side of the center contact the right half of the occipital region 11.

The kneading arms 509, 510, 539, and 540 each are V-like shaped, and function as a plate spring as an example of an elastic body. For this reason, the contacts 550 are pushed onto the occipital region 11 by elastic forces of the kneading arms 509, 510, 539, and 540, and move along the surface of the occipital region 11. Therefore, the contacts 550 can care the occipital region 11 smoothly and efficiently.

With such configuration, in the occipital region care unit 500, a rotation output of the occipital region kneading motor 501 is transmitted of the gears 507, 511, 537, and 541 connected to one ends of the rotation shafts 508, 512, 538, and 542, respectively, through the gears 505 and 513 and the cylindrical racks 506 and 514 that are arranged at both ends of the drive shaft 504. The kneading arms 509, 510, 539, and 540 are rotated by the rotation output transmitted from the occipital region kneading motor 501 integrally with the gears 507, 511, 537, and 541, kneading the occipital region 11 with the contacts 550 provided at the both ends of the kneading arms 509, 510, 539, and 540.

FIG. 11 is a side view schematically showing an attachment structure of the occipital region care unit 500.

As shown in FIG. 11, in this embodiment, an occipital region oscillating motor 572 is provided as an oscillating device oscillating the occipital region care unit 500. The occipital region oscillating motor 572 oscillates the occipital region care unit 500 about a rotation shaft 564 extending in the lateral direction of the person's head 10. The occipital region oscillating motor 572 is fixed to the bottom 101d of the bowl 101. One end of the rotation shaft 564 is drivingly coupled to a rotation output shaft of the occipital region oscillating motor 572, and the other end of the rotation shaft 564 is rotatably supported by a base 570 attached to the bottom 101d of the bowl 101. A lower end of an oscillating arm 562 is coupled to the rotation shaft 564. The oscillating arm 562 can rotate integrally with the rotation shaft 564.

The housing 560 of the occipital region care unit 500 is fixed to an upper end of the oscillating arm 562. The housing 560 includes a third pressure sensor 580 that is an occipital region pushing force detector detecting the pushing force of the occipital region 11 on the occipital region contact unit 548.

With such configuration, by driving the occipital region oscillating motor 572, the occipital region care unit 500 can oscillate integrally with the rotation shaft 564 and the oscillating arm 562 so as to get close to or away from the notch 101c of the bowl 101. Thereby, the position of the occipital region care unit 500 can be adjusted in the oscillating direction, resulting in that the occipital region care unit 500 can support or care the occipital region 11 at a more suitable position.

The oscillating direction of the occipital region care unit 500 is defined as follows. First, the oscillating direction toward the notch 101c (direction of an arrow D4) is defined as a positive direction. As for the angular position in the oscillating direction, the angular position furthest from the notch 101c in the oscillating range of the occipital region care unit 500 is defined as 0 degrees. The magnitude of the angle displaced from the angular position of 0 degrees in the positive direction is defined as an oscillating angle θT. The angular position closest to the notch 101c in the oscillating range is defined as θTMAX.

The occipital region care unit 500 may be designed to be adjustable in position in the horizontal direction along the bottom 101d of the bowl 101, as well as in the oscillating direction as described above. In this case, the occipital region care unit 500 can be positioned more suitably to achieve more comfortable support or care of the occipital region 11 with the occipital region care unit 500.

Preferably, the occipital region care unit 500 includes an occipital region washing nozzle. When the occipital region care unit 500 provided with the nozzle washes the occipital region 11, the occipital region washing nozzle can eject water, a washing liquid, or conditioner toward the occipital region 11. In this case, for example, the water system supplying unit, the washing liquid supplying unit 222, and the conditioner supplying unit 221 are connected to a pipe connected to the occipital region washing nozzle.

Control of various operations of the automatic head washing system 100 will be described below.

As shown in FIG. 12, the automatic head washing system 100 includes the control device 600 comprehensively controlling the operation of the automatic head washing system 100.

The control device 600 controls a pair of right and left arm actuators 401L and 401R driving the arms 114L and 114R, respectively, an occipital region care unit actuator 402 driving the occipital region care unit 500, and opening/closing of the various valves 216, 217, and 218 to achieve various operations of the automatic head washing system 100. The pair of right and left arm actuators 401L and 401R drive the arms 114L and 114R such that the head contact units 409L and 409R care the head 10. The occipital region care unit actuator 402 drives the occipital region care unit 500 such that the occipital region contact unit 548 cares the occipital region 11.

The left arm actuator 401L includes the left arm swinging motor 201L, the left arm pushing motor 206L, and the left arm kneading motor 301L. The right arm actuator 401R includes the right arm swinging motor 201R, the right arm pushing motor 206R, and the right arm kneading motor 301R.

The left arm swinging motor 201L and the right arm swinging motor 201R include encoders 291L and 291R generating a pulse signal in sync with the rotational angle of the arm swinging motors 201L and 201R, respectively. The pulse signals generated by the encoders 291L and 291R, which are information on the swing angles θSL and θSR of the arms 114L and 114R, are inputted to the control device 600.

Similarly, the left arm pushing motor 206L and the right arm pushing motor 206R include encoders 296L and 296R generating a pulse signal in sync with the rotational angle of the arm pushing motors 206L and 206R. The pulse signals generated by the encoders 296L and 296R, which are information on the pushing angles θPL and θPR of the arms 114L and 114R, are inputted to the control device 600.

The occipital region care unit actuator 402 includes the occipital region oscillating motor 572 and the occipital region kneading motor 501. The occipital region oscillating motor 572 includes an encoder 592 generating a pulse signal in sync with the rotational angle of the occipital region oscillating motor 572, which is an oscillating angle detector detecting the oscillating angle θT of the occipital region care unit 500. The pulse signal generated by the encoder 592, which is information on the oscillating angle θT of the occipital region care unit 500, is inputted to the control device 600.

The automatic head washing system 100 has an operating section 404 receiving a manual input. An operating signal inputted to the operating section 404 is inputted to the control device 600. The automatic head washing system 100 further has a display 406 displaying various operating states of the automatic head washing system 100 on the basis of an output signal from the control device 600. However, the operating section 404 may be a touch panel-type operating section. When the operating section 404 is the touch panel-type operating section, the display 406 can be integrated with the operating section.

The control device 600 has a head care control section 602, an occipital region care control section 604, a head support control section 606, an occipital region pushing force control section 610, and a storage section 690 storing various types of information. The head care control section 602 controls the caring operation of the person's head 10 with the right and left arms 114L and 114R. The occipital region care control section 604 controls the caring operation of the occipital region 11 with the occipital region care unit 500. The head support control section 606 controls the head contact units 409L and 409R of the arms 114L and 114R so as to be arranged at respective head support positions where the head 10 can be supported from below, at the caring operation of the occipital region 11 with the occipital region care unit 500. The occipital region pushing force control section 610 controls the pushing force of the occipital region contact unit 548 of the occipital region care unit 500 onto the occipital region 11 in the state where the head contact units 409L and 409R are arranged at the respective head support positions.

To perform the washing operation of the head 10 with the arms 114L and 114R, the head care control section 602 controls the right and left arm actuators 401L and 401R and opening/closing of the various valves 216, 217, and 218. Through such a control, the swinging rotation or the pushing rotation of the arms 114L and 114R, the kneading operation of the contacts 109, and the ejecting operation of water, a washing liquid, or conditioner from the nozzles 110 can cooperate with each other in various patterns. Thereby, the various washing operations of the head 10 such as washing by kneading, rinsing, draining, and brushing can be achieved.

To perform the massaging operation of the head 10 with the arms 114L and 114R, the head care control section 602 controls the right and left arm actuators 401L and 401R. Through such a control, the swinging rotation or the pushing rotation of the arms 114L and 114R and the kneading operation of the contacts 109 can cooperate with each other in various patterns. Thereby, various massaging operations can be achieved.

When the head care control section 602 controls the washing operation or the massaging operation of the head 10 in this manner, since the occipital region 11 is supported by the occipital region care unit 500 from below, the washing operation or the massaging operation can be performed in the stable state of the head 10.

To perform the caring operation of the occipital region 11 with the occipital region care unit 500, the occipital region care control section 604 controls the occipital region care unit actuator 402 to cause the occipital region care unit 500 to perform the oscillating operation and the kneading operation in combination. Thereby, the occipital region care unit 500 can perform washing or massaging operation even on portions of the occipital region 11 that cannot be cared by the arms 114L and 114R. When the occipital region care unit 500 performs the washing operation, preferably, water, a washing liquid, or conditioner is ejected from the occipital region washing nozzle. In this case, opening/closing of the valves to control ejection is controlled in conjunction with the oscillating operation and the kneading operation of the occipital region care unit 500.

The head support control section 606 controls the right and left arm actuators 401L and 401R in the caring operation of the occipital region 11 with the occipital region care unit 500, thereby arranging the head contact units 409L and 409R of the right and left arms 114L and 114R at the below-mentioned head support positions.

The head support positions at which the arms 114L and 114R are arranged are set to positions where the arms do not interfere with the occipital region contact unit 548 of the occipital region care unit 500 in the occipital region 11, and a load on the person's neck is reduced. In the case where the occipital region contact unit 548 is provided in contact with a lower part 11b of the occipital region 11, the head support positions are set such that the arms are in contact with an upper part 11a of the occipital region 11. Specifically, the head support positions are set such that the swing angle θSL of the arm 114L is 0 degrees or larger and the swing angle θSR of the arm 114R is 30 degrees or smaller. By setting the head support positions such that the swing angles θSL and θSR fall within the range of 0 to 30 degrees, when the head 10 is supported by the arms 114L and 114R rather than the occipital region care unit 500, the position of the head 10 does not change so much, reducing the load on the person's neck.

To stabilize support of the head 10 against the gravity, the head support positions are desirably set such that the swing angles θSL and θSR fail within the range of 0 to 10 degrees. By setting the swing angles in the range of 0 to 10 degrees, the head 10 can be stably supported against the gravity, and the load on the person's neck can be reduced.

To reduce loads on the arms 114L and 114R, the head support positions are desirably set such that the swing angles θSL and θSR fall within the range of 20 to 30 degrees. By setting the swing angles to the range, the load on the arms 114L and 114R can be reduced, and the load on the person's neck can be also reduced in terms of the relationship among fulcrums, points of application, and points of action of the arms 114L and 114R, the occipital region care unit 500, and the notch 101c.

As shown in FIG. 16, by setting the positions where the arms 114L and 114R are adjacent to the occipital region care unit 500 as the head support positions, a change in the position of the person's head 10 can be reduced, decreasing the load on the person's neck. However, in the case where the head support positions are set adjacent to the occipital region care unit 500, it is likely that the arms 114L and 114R interfere with the occipital region care unit 500 and therefore, the arms 114L and 114R need to be controlled more accurately.

In moving the arms 114L and 114R to the respective head support positions, it is desired that the arms 114L and 114R are first swingingly rotated to adjust the respective swing angles and then, are gradually moved toward the head 10. At this time, it is desired that the arms 114L and 114R are gradually moved toward the head 10 in cooperation. By adjusting the swing angles of the arms 114L and 114R and then, moving the arms 114L and 114R in the pushing direction as described above, when support of the head is switched from the occipital region care unit 500 to the arms 114L and 114R, the load on the person's neck can be further reduced.

Specifically, the head support control section 606 controls the swing angles θSL and θSR and the pushing angles θPL and θPR of the right and left arms 114L and 114R such that the head contact units 409L and 409R are arranged at the respective head support positions. At this time, the swing angles θSL and θSR of the right and left arms 114L and 114R are controlled so as to be equal to each other. However, to prevent the arms 114L and 114R from interfering with each other, the swing angles θSL and θSR may be slightly shifted from each other.

As described above, in this embodiment, when the occipital region care unit 500 cares the occipital region 11, since the head 10 is supported by the right and left arms 114L and 114R, the occipital region 11 can be cared in the stable state of the head 10.

When the arms 114L and 114R support the head 10, preferably, the fourth arms 309L, 310L, 317L, and 320L of the arm 114L are parallel to one another. By arranging the fourth arms 309L, 310L, 317L, and 320L to be parallel to one another, the load onto the head 10 from the contacts 109 can be uniformly distributed.

By oscillating the contacts 109 of the head contact units 409L and 409R of the arms 114L and 114R that support the head 10 while the occipital region care unit 500 cares the occipital region 11, water, a washing liquid, or conditioner can be flown more smoothly. Specifically, when the contacts 109 of the arms 114L and 114R that support the head 10 are oscillated while the occipital region care unit 500 cares the occipital region 11, water, a washing liquid, or conditioner generated by washing operation of the occipital region care unit 500 flows through the gap between the contacts 109 and the head 10, which is caused by the oscillation, more smoothly. In this case, the arms 114L and 114R that support the head 10 can also massage the head 10.

The occipital region pushing force control section 610 has a command value output section 612 outputting a predetermined command value with respect to the pushing force of the occipital region contact unit 548 onto the occipital region 11. The command value output section 612 outputs the pushing force with which the occipital region care unit 500 can optimally care the occipital region 11, as the command value. Accordingly, the command value outputted from the command value output section 612 changes to an optimal value at all times according to the caring mode of the occipital region 11.

The occipital region pushing force control section 610 further has a support position adjusting section 614 controlling the arm actuators 401L and 401R to adjust the head support positions such that the pushing force of the occipital region 11 on the occipital region contact unit 548, which is detected by the third pressure sensor 580, corresponds to the command value outputted from the command value output section 612.

Specifically, the support position adjusting section 614 controls the left arm pushing motor 206L and the right arm pushing motor 206R to control the pushing angles θPL and θPR of the arms 114L and 114R, thereby adjusting the height of the head support positions. The pushing force of the occipital region contact unit 548 onto the occipital region 11 decreases as the head support positions rise, and the pushing force increases as the head support positions lower. For this reason, the support position adjusting section 614 can adjust the height of the head support positions such that the pushing force of the occipital region contact unit 548 onto the occipital region 11 corresponds to the command value outputted from the command value output section 612.

The occipital region pushing force control section 610 may further have an output correcting section 616 correcting the command value outputted from the command value output section 612 according to the oscillating angle θT of the occipital region care unit 500, which is detected by the encoder 592. The output correcting section 616 will be specifically described in a below-mentioned second embodiment.

The occipital region pushing force control section 610 may have an input correcting section 618 correcting the command value inputted from the command value output section 612 to the right arm actuator 401R via the support position adjusting section 614 such that the pushing force detected by the first pressure sensor 211L of the left arm 114L corresponds to the pushing force detected by the second pressure sensor 211R of the right arm 114R. The input correcting section 618 will be specifically described in a below-mentioned third embodiment.

The specific configuration of the occipital region pushing force control section 610 will be described below.

FIG. 13 is a block diagram showing the configuration of the occipital region pushing force control section 610 in the first embodiment. FIG. 13 is a schematic view showing the state where the upper part 11a of the occipital region 11 is supported from below by the head contact units 409L and 409R of the arms 114L and 114R arranged at the respective head support positions, and the occipital region care unit 500 cares the lower part 11b of the occipital region 11, when viewed from the left of the head 10. The upper part 11a of the occipital region 11 refers to a vertex-side portion of the occipital region 11, and the lower part 11b of the occipital region 11 refers to a neck-side portion of the occipital region 11. Although FIG. 13 shows only the head contact unit 409L of the left arm 114L, the head contact unit 409R of the right arm 114R is also arranged at the head support position.

As shown in FIG. 13, the occipital region pushing force control section 610 has a comparator 622. The comparator 622 compares the command value outputted from the command value output section 612 with the pushing force detected by the third pressure sensor 580 to calculate an error therebetween.

The occipital region pushing force control section 610 has a position controller 624 controlled by the support position adjusting section 614. The position controller 624 performs calculation on the basis of an error signal sent from the comparator 622. A signal of the calculation result is sent from the position controller 624 to the left arm pushing motor 206L and the right arm pushing motor 206R. Thereby, the pushing angles θPL and θPR of the arms 114L and 114R are adjusted to adjust the positions of the head contact units 409L and 409R of the arms 114L and 114R such that the pushing force of the occipital region contact unit 548 onto the lower part 11b of the occipital region 11 can correspond to the command value of the command value output section 612.

Through such feedback control, in the first embodiment, the occipital region care unit 500 can care the occipital region 11 with the suitable pushing force at all times in the state where the head 10 is stably supported by the arms 114L and 114R.

FIG. 16 is a block diagram showing the configuration of an occipital region pushing force control section 610 of another aspect of the first embodiment. FIG. 16 is the same as FIG. 13 except for the position of the head contact unit 409L of the left arm 114L and the head contact unit 409R of the right arm 114R and thus, description thereof is omitted.

The head washing operation using the automatic head washing system in the first embodiment will be described with reference to a flow chart in FIG. 17.

As shown in FIG. 17, the occipital region care unit 500 supports the occipital region 11 of the person's head 10 in the bowl 101 (Step S01). To support the occipital region 11, the person himself/herself may place the occipital region 11 on the occipital region care unit 500, or the automatic head washing system may move the occipital region care unit 500 on the basis of information of a sensor.

Subsequently, the washing unit 12 performs the pushing rotation, the swinging rotation, or/and the kneading operation to wash the head 10 except for the occipital region 11 (Step S02).

Subsequently, when washing of the head 10 except for the occipital region 11 is finished, the head 10 is supported at the head support positions by the washing unit 12 (Step S03).

Subsequently, when support of the head 10 by the washing unit 12 is confirmed, support of the occipital region 11 by the occipital region care unit 500 is released (Step S04). When the support of the head 10 by the washing unit 12 is inadequate in Step S03, the head 10 may fall at the moment the support by the occipital region care unit 500 is released and therefore, it is desired that support of the head 10 by the washing unit 12 is reliably confirmed by use of an image sensor or the pressure sensors 211L and 211R.

Subsequently, the occipital region care unit 500 performs the kneading operation or/and is oscillated to wash the occipital region 11 (Step S05).

Subsequently, when washing of the occipital region 11 is completed, the occipital region care unit 500 supports the occipital region 11 (Step S06).

Subsequently, when support of the occipital region 11 by the occipital region care unit 500 is confirmed, the support of the head 10 by the washing unit 12 is released.

The head washing operation using the automatic head washing system in the first embodiment is performed by executing Steps S01 to S07 and then, repeating Steps S02 to S07 predetermined times (once or more) as necessary.

The sequence of washing of the head 10 except for the occipital region 11 (Steps S02 to S04) and washing of the occipital region 11 (Step S05 to S07) may be changed. However, in this case, in Step S01, it is need to support the head 10 at the head support positions by the washing unit 12. When the occipital region 11 is first supported, the washed person probably can feel at ease. Therefore, it is preferable that the head be washed in the sequence shown in FIG. 17 if possible.

Second Embodiment

FIG. 14 is a block diagram showing the configuration of an occipital region pushing force control section 610 in accordance with a second embodiment. Only the occipital region pushing force control section 610 of the automatic head washing system in accordance with the second embodiment of the present invention that is different from the occipital region pushing force control section 610 of the automatic head washing system in accordance with the first embodiment will be described, and description of the same configuration and operation as those of the automatic head washing system in the first embodiment is omitted. Like FIG. 13, FIG. 14 shows only the head contact unit 409L of the left arm 114L, but the head contact unit 409R of the right arm 114R is also arranged at the head support position.

The occipital region pushing force control section 610 in the second embodiment performs the same control as the control in the first embodiment, as well as control to prevent a malfunction caused by oscillation of the occipital region care unit 500 at washing of the occipital region 11 by the occipital region care unit 500.

Specifically, the pushing force of the occipital region contact unit 548 onto the occipital region 11 varies depending on the oscillating angle θT of the occipital region care unit 500. For this reason, in the case where the head support positions of the arms 114L and 114R are merely adjusted based on the output value of the third pressure sensor 580 as in the first embodiment, when the occipital region care unit 500 cares the occipital region 11 while being oscillated, the head support positions and the head 10 vertically move every time the occipital region care unit 500 oscillates, which possibly makes the user uncomfortable.

To prevent this malfunction, in the second embodiment, the output correcting section 616 executes compensation processing for the command value outputted from the command value output section 612 to prevent variation in the height of the head support positions.

As shown in FIG. 14, as in the first embodiment, the occipital region pushing force control section 610 has a comparator 622 and a position controller 624. The occipital region pushing force control section 610 in the second embodiment has an FF compensator 632 and an adder 634 that are controlled by the output correcting section 616.

Information on the oscillating angle θT of the occipital region care unit 500, which is outputted from the encoder 592, is inputted to the FF compensator 632. The FF compensator 632 executes the compensation processing for the command value outputted from the command value output section 612 according to the inputted value of the oscillating angle θT. The compensation processing uses information corresponding to the oscillating angle θT, which is previously stored in the storage section 690.

In a specific example, in the case where as the oscillating angle θT is smaller, the pushing force of the occipital region contact unit 548 onto the occipital region 11 becomes larger, as the oscillating angle θT is smaller, the head support positions tend to rise, and as the oscillating angle θT is larger, the head support positions tend to lower. For this reason, in this case, the output correcting section 616 corrects the command value outputted from the command value output section 612 to become larger as the oscillating angle θT is smaller, thereby allowing an increase in the pushing force to prevent the head support positions from rising due to oscillation of the occipital region care unit 500. Further, output correcting section 616 corrects the command value outputted from the command value output section 612 to become smaller as the oscillating angle θT is larger, thereby allowing a decrease in the pushing force to prevent the head support positions from lowering due to oscillation of the occipital region care unit 500.

The adder 634 adds a value outputted from the FF compensator 632 to the command value outputted from the command value output section 612. The command value thus corrected is sent to the comparator 622, and the same feedback control as in the first embodiment is performed.

As described above, in the second embodiment, by using the same feedback control as in the first embodiment and feed forward control based on the oscillating angle θT, the occipital region care unit 500 can care the occipital region 11 with more suitable pushing force while giving a higher priority to preventing vertical movement of the person's head 10 than preventing variation in the pushing force.

Third Embodiment

FIG. 15 is a block diagram showing the configuration of an occipital region pushing force control section 610 in accordance with a third embodiment. Only the occipital region pushing force control section 610 of the automatic head washing system in accordance with the third embodiment of the present invention that is different from the occipital region pushing force control section 610 of the automatic head washing system in accordance with the first embodiment will be described, and description of the same configuration and operation as those of the automatic head washing system in the first embodiment is omitted. FIG. 15 is a schematic view showing the state where the person's head 10 is supported from below by the head contact units 409L and 409R of the arms 114L and 114R arranged at the respective head support positions, and the occipital region care unit 500 cares the occipital region 11 when viewed from the top of the head 10.

The occipital region pushing force control section 610 in accordance with the third embodiment performs the same control as in the first embodiment as well as control to prevent an imbalance between loads from the head 10 on the right and left arms 114L and 114R at washing of the occipital region 11 by the occipital region care unit 500.

Specifically, the height of the lower end of the head 10 stored in the bowl 101 may laterally vary because, for example, the shape of the person's head 10 is not symmetrical, the head 10 in the inclined state is stored in the bowl 101, or the center of the head 10 is displaced from the center of the bowl 101 in the lateral direction. In this case, when the head support positions of the right and left arms 114L and 114R are set uniform, the loads on the right and left arms 114L and 114R may be imbalanced, applying an excessive load on one of the arms 114L and 114R.

To prevent this malfunction, in the third embodiment, the input correcting section 618 executes compensation processing for the command value inputted from the command value output section 612 to the right arm pushing motor 206R via the support position adjusting section 614 to prevent the imbalance of the loads on the right and left arms 114L and 114R.

As shown in FIG. 15, as in the first embodiment, the occipital region pushing force control section 610 has a comparator 622 and a position controller 624. The occipital region pushing force control section 610 in accordance with third embodiment has a comparator 646, a balance compensator 648, and an adder 650 that are controlled by the input correcting section 618.

The comparator 646 compares an output value from the first pressure sensor 211L provided at the left arm 114L with an output value from the second pressure sensor 211R provided at the right arm 114R, and calculates a difference between pushing forces applied from the head 10 to the right and left arms 114L and 114R. An error signal outputted from the comparator 646 is sent to the balance compensator 648.

Based on information inputted from the comparator 646, the balance compensator 648 executes compensation processing for the pushing force command value inputted to the right arm pushing motor 206R such that the pushing force applied to the left arm 114L corresponds to the pushing force applied to the right arm 114R.

The adder 650 adds a value outputted from the balance compensator 648 to the pushing force command value inputted from the command value output section 612 via the position controller 624. The command value acquired after addition in the adder 650 is inputted to the right arm pushing motor 206R.

The compensation processing of the balance compensator 648 will be specifically described. For example, when the pushing force applied to the right arm 114R is larger than the pushing force applied to the left arm 114L, the balance compensator 648 executes the compensation processing such that the pushing angle θPR of the right arm 114R decreases. As a result, since the head contact unit 409R of the right arm 114R lowers, the load on the right arm 114R is decreased to prevent the imbalance between the loads on the right and left arms 114L and 114R. Conversely, when the pushing force applied to the right arm 114R is smaller than the pushing force applied to the left arm 114L, the balance compensator 648 executes the compensation processing such that the pushing angle θPR of the right arm 114R increases. As a result, since the head contact unit 409R of the right arm 114R rises, the load on the left arm 114L is decreased to prevent the imbalance between the loads on the right and left arms 114L and 114R.

As described above, in the third embodiment, since the imbalance between the loads on the right and left arms 114L and 114R is compensated, an excessive load on one of the arms 114L and 114R can be prevented. The loads applied from the arms 114L and 114R on the person's head 10 can also maintain a balance.

In the third embodiment, the above-mentioned control of the occipital region pushing force control section 610 may be combined with the same feed forward control as that in the second embodiment, thereby preventing vertical movement of the head 10.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to the embodiments, the present invention is not limited to the embodiments.

For example, in the embodiments, the head contact units 409L and 409R each are configured of the plurality of contacts 109, and the occipital region contact unit 548 is configured of the plurality of contacts 550. However, according to the present invention, the configuration of the head contact units 409L and 409R and the occipital region contact unit 548 is not specifically limited.

The right and left arms 114L and 114R each may be provided with a link mechanism extending and contracting the length of the arm 114L or 114R. By providing such link mechanisms, the head 10 can be cared more suitably according to its shape and size.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

The automatic head washing system according to the present invention can be widely used in the industry of beauty care and hairdressing and in the medical field including nursing, which is useful.

PARTS LIST

  • 10 head
  • 11 occipital region
  • 100 automatic head washing system
  • 101 bowl
  • 101c notch
  • 101d bottom
  • 104L, 104R, 212L, 212R, 213L, 213R, 214L, 214R, 523, 524 support shaft
  • 109, 550 contact
  • 114L, 114R arm
  • 201L, 201R arm swinging motor
  • 203L, 203R, 204L, 204R, 207L, 207R, 208L, 208R, 302L, 303L, 305L, 307L, 311L, 313L, 315L, 318L, 502, 503, 505, 507, 511, 513, 537, 541 gear
  • 206L, 206R arm pushing motor
  • 209L, 209R arm rotation shaft
  • 211L first pressure sensor
  • 211R second pressure sensor
  • 291L, 291R, 296L, 296R, 592 encoder
  • 301L, 301R arm kneading motor
  • 304L, 504 drive shaft
  • 306L, 314L, 506, 514 cylindrical rack
  • 306La, 314La rack mechanism
  • 308L, 312L, 316L, 319L, 564 rotation shaft
  • 401L, 401R arm actuator
  • 402r occipital region care unit actuator
  • 409L, 409R head contact unit
  • 500 occipital region care unit
  • 501 occipital region kneading motor
  • 508, 512, 538, 542 rotation shaft
  • 509, 510, 539, 540 kneading arm
  • 527, 528 holding stage
  • 548 occipital region contact unit
  • 562 oscillating arm
  • 570 base
  • 572 occipital region oscillating motor
  • 580 third pressure sensor
  • 600 control device
  • 602 head care control section
  • 604 occipital region care control section
  • 606 head support control section
  • 610 occipital region pushing force control section
  • 612 command value output section
  • 614 support position adjusting section
  • 616 output correcting section
  • 618 input correcting section
  • 690 storage unit

Claims

1. An automatic head care method for caring a person's head with an automatic head care system including an occipital region care unit supporting the head, a pair of care arms arranged on right and left sides of the occipital region care unit, a head contact unit provided at each of the pair of care arms, an arm actuator driving the care arms, an occipital region contact unit provided at the occipital region care unit, an occipital region care unit actuator driving the occipital region care unit, and an occipital region pushing force detector detecting a pushing force on the occipital region contact unit, the method comprising:

supporting the occipital region by the occipital region contact unit of the occipital region care unit when the care arms care the head except for the occipital region; and
supporting the head by the head contact units of the care arms when the occipital region care unit cares the occipital region.

2. The automatic head care method according to claim 1, comprising:

arranging the care arms at respective head support positions to support the head, when the head contact units of the care arms support the head.

3. The automatic head care method according to claim 2, comprising:

adjusting the head support positions based on the detected pushing force on the occipital region contact unit, when the head contact units of the care arms support the head.

4. The automatic head care method according to claim 3, comprising:

detecting a pushing force on the head contact unit of one of the care arms by a first head pushing force detector and detecting a pushing force on the head contact unit of another one of the care arms by a second head pushing force detector; and
adjusting the head support positions so as to equalize the pushing force detected by the first head pushing force detector and the pushing force detected by the second head pushing force detector, each other.

5. The automatic head care method according to claim 2, wherein swing angle of the care arm at the head support position is in a range of 0 to 30 degrees, given that the swing angle of the care arm arranged vertically downward is 0 degrees, and that the swing angle of the care arm horizontally arranged is 90 degrees.

6. The automatic head care method according to claim 2, wherein the head support positions are positions adjacent to the occipital region care unit.

7. The automatic head care method according to claim 1, comprising:

detecting an oscillating angle of the occipital region care unit and correcting a pushing force of the occipital region care unit according to the detected oscillating angle, when the occipital region care unit cares the occipital region.

8. The automatic head care method according to claim 1,

wherein the automatic head care system includes at least one of a water system supplying unit, a washing liquid supplying unit, and a conditioner supplying unit, and
wherein the method comprises: washing the head except for occipital region with the head contact units of the care arms; and washing the occipital region with the occipital region contact unit of the occipital region care unit.

9. An automatic head care system comprising:

an occipital region care unit supporting a person's head;
a pair of care arms arranged on right and left sides of the occipital region care unit;
a head contact unit provided at each of the pair of care arms;
an arm actuator driving the care arms;
an occipital region contact unit provided at the occipital region care unit;
an occipital region care unit actuator driving the occipital region care unit;
an occipital region pushing force detector detecting a pushing force on the occipital region contact unit; and
a control device controlling the arm actuator and the occipital region care unit actuator,
wherein the control device performs such control that
when the care arms care the head except for the occipital region, the occipital region contact unit of the occipital region care unit supports the occipital region, and that
when the occipital region care unit cares the occipital region, the head contact units of the care arms support the head.

10. The automatic head care system according to claim 9, wherein

when the head contact units of the care arms support the head, the control device arranges the care arms at respective head support positions to support the head.

11. The automatic head care system according to claim 10, wherein

when the head contact units of the care arms support the head, the control device adjusts the head support positions according to the detected pushing force on the occipital region contact unit.

12. The automatic head care system according to claim 9, further comprising:

an oscillating device oscillating the occipital region care unit about an axis extending in a lateral direction of the occipital region care unit during washing of the occipital region; and
an oscillating angle detector detecting an oscillating angle of the occipital region care unit oscillated by the oscillating device,
wherein the control device has an output correcting section correcting the pushing force on the occipital region contact unit according to the oscillating angle detected by the oscillating angle detector.

13. The automatic head care system according to claim 9, further comprising:

at least one of a water system supplying unit, a washing liquid supplying unit, and a conditioner supplying unit,
wherein the control device makes the head contact units of the care arms to wash the head except for the occipital region, and makes the occipital region contact unit of the occipital region care unit to wash the occipital region.

Patent History

Publication number: 20140373266
Type: Application
Filed: Sep 26, 2012
Publication Date: Dec 25, 2014
Inventors: Soichiro Fujioka (Osaka), Osamu Mizuno (Nara), Toshinori Hirose (Osaka), Tohru Nakamura (Osaka)
Application Number: 14/344,949

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: With Water Supply Means (4/518); Hair Washing Machine Or Device Or Accessory (4/515)
International Classification: A45D 19/06 (20060101);