Patent application title: METHOD AND HAIR CARE TOOL FOR DYNAMIC AND OPTIMUM HAIR STYLING TEMPERATURE CONTROL
James D. Humphreys (Victoria, CA)
Joseph Sherman (Tarzana, CA, US)
Scott Phillips (Victoria, CA)
Augustus J. Mercer (Victoria, CA)
IPC8 Class: AA45D620FI
Class name: Methods hair deformation or set (e.g., curling, waving) and application of heat
Publication date: 2012-12-13
Patent application number: 20120312320
Method and hair tool for styling hair, the hair tool having at least one
heatable element, a temperature regulator associated with the heatable
element to control the temperature of the heatable element, a temperature
sensor for measuring the temperature of the heatable element, a
compensation means operatively connected to the temperature regulator for
compensating temperature drops or increases to which the heatable element
is subjected when styling a hair lock. The hair tool further contains a
programmable electronic control that controls operational features of the
hair tool to implement a method of analyzing the hair lock and setting
the hair tool to an optimal styling temperature calculated for the hair
1. A hair tool comprising: at least one heatable element; a temperature
regulator associated with the heatable element comprising a heat source
and a temperature sensor associated with the heatable element for
measuring the temperature of the heatable element; and a compensation
means operatively connected to the temperature regulator, for
compensating changes in temperature that the heatable element is
subjected to when applied to a hair.
2. The hair tool according to claim 1, wherein the compensation means comprise a detection device for detecting a diagnostic or operational state of the hair tool and adapted to control the temperature regulator to adjust the temperature of the heatable elements.
3. The hair tool according to claim 2, wherein the temperature regulator is adapted to regulate the temperature of the heatable elements according to the optimal temperature setting value obtained from a lookup table.
4. The hair tool according to claim 1, wherein the heat source comprises a heating element, adapted to heat the heatable element.
5. A method for obtaining an ideal temperature setting for styling a hair lock of a subject comprised of keratinous fibers, the method comprising: providing a hair tool comprising at least one heatable element configured to be heated by a heater to a first temperature; turning on the heater to heat the at least one heatable element to the first temperature; contacting the at least one heatable element to the entire length of the hair lock; measuring the temperature of the at least one heatable element to obtain a second temperature; calculating the difference of degrees between the first temperature and the second temperature to obtain a ΔT value.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein the steps are performed sequentially on the hair lock more than one time to obtain ΔT values that are added to obtain a D value.
7. The method of claim 5, wherein the steps are performed sequentially on the hair lock more than one time to obtain ΔT values that are averaged to obtain a D value.
8. The method of claim 6, wherein the D value is compared to a lookup table to obtain an styling temperature setting.
9. The method of claim 7, wherein the D value is compared to a lookup table to obtain an styling temperature setting.
10. The method of claim 5, wherein the heater is turned off prior to contacting the at least one heatable element to the hair lock.
11. The method of claim 5, wherein the hair tool further comprises a temperature regulator for changing the temperature setting of the hair tool to the ideal temperature setting.
12. The method of claim 11, wherein the styling temperature setting is from about 265.degree. F. to 301.degree. F.
13. The method of claim 11, wherein the styling temperature setting is from about 50.degree. F. to about 264.degree. F.
14. The method of claim 11, wherein the ideal temperature setting is from about 302.degree. F. to 450.degree. F.
15. The method of claim 5, wherein the hair tool is a member selected from the group consisting of: flat iron, curling iron, curling-iron styling brush, crimping iron, spiral iron, hair wand, hair dryer, hot-air styling brush, and hot roller.
16. The hair tool of claim 1, further comprising an embedded processor subsystem to store or transfer user identification information or diagnostic data collected by the hair tool to another storage device, remote database or computer.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATIONS
 This application is related to, and claims the benefit of, U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/496,424, filed Jun. 13, 2011, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/654,870, filed Jun. 2, 2012. Each of the above-identified priority patent applications is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
 Many hair care or hair styling tools/apparatuses/appliances (collectively "hair tools") utilize heat to encourage hair to assume new postures or desired styles by drying, straightening, curling, crimping, and the like. Heat may be applied to hair by blowing hot air across the hair using blow dryers or specialized styling brushes, or by directly applying heat to the hair using hair irons, hot rollers, or other hair-setting tools. Some hair styling tools incorporate the distribution of steam, ultrasonic waves, or active hair treatment compositions in addition to the application of heat. What these hair tools have in common is that their energy or treatment composition distribution is controlled based on either a single predetermined preset, e.g. temperature or air flow velocity, or by the user making a selection from a plurality of available generic settings based on predetermined recommendations made by hair tool manufacturers. Generally, hair irons are widely used hair tools for shaping various kinds of hairstyles with the assistance of heat. In use, a heatable element, that is formed like a flat plate or formed as a curved surface like the side surface of a cylinder or rod, is heated to relatively high temperatures before being placed in contact with a hair to transfer heat to style a hair strand or lock of hair.
 The flat plate type hair iron is advantageous for straightening the hair while the curved surface type is suitable for curling the hair. The heatable element is generally provided with a means for closely holding the hair on that portion in order to make the shaping of the hair convenient and efficiently transfer heat therebetween. Conventional plate type hair irons include a pair of upper and lower arms (casings), which are coupled with each other such that the assembly rotates at a certain angle about a hinge axis while elements such as a hinge, a spring and the like are provided in the longitudinal ends of the arms. Further, heater plates (heatable elements) are provided on inner surfaces (i.e. opposite surfaces) of the upper and lower arms longitudinally opposite to the hinge in order to transfer heat, so that the hair is shaped while being picked up between the heater plates. Further, inner covers may be provided on inner surfaces of the upper and lower arms proximal to the hinge so as to cover a conducting wire, which extends from an external source to an electric device such as a heater installed in the side of the heater plate, and a control circuit or circuit board. The heatable element (heater plate) is configured such that a heater is provided on the surface opposite the hair-contact surface so as to generate heat and transfer the heat to the heater plate. Here, upon installation in the arm or casings, the heater and the heater plate are installed not to directly come into contact with the arms in such a manner that they are installed in a holder, which is composed of heat-resistant synthetic resin, and the holder is separately inserted into the casings. When subjecting a user's hair lock to a styling operation, the arms of the hair iron are opened in a way to be able to fit the hair lock between the two arms in contact with said heatable elements; subsequently, the arms are closed in order to hold the hair lock therebetween and start the styling operation by, for example, sliding the hair iron down toward the end of the hair lock, i.e., away from the scalp. In such a position, the hair lock is subjected to the heat emitted by said heatable elements, for the time required for styling, before being released by the arms opening. At the end of said hair lock styling operation, the same hair lock may be subjected to a further styling operation, to obtain a desired aesthetic or styling effect, or a new hair lock can be subjected to one or more styling operations.
 FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a conventional flat iron 1 shown in an open position having a first arm 100 with a first heatable element 110, a second arm 120 having a second heatable element 130, the second arm being connected to the first arm 100 by a hinge 140 in such a way to allow the opening and closure of the flat iron 1 by respectively moving the arms 100, 120 away and close one to each other; a temperature regulation means, associated to the heatable elements 110, 130, having a heat source (not shown) and a temperature sensor (not shown) disposed in arms 100, 120, for regulating the temperature of the heatable elements 110, 130. The flat iron may have a compensation means, operatively connected to the temperature regulation means, for compensating temperature in the heatable elements 110, 120. The compensation means may have a detection device 150, 160 for detecting an open/closed state of the arms 100, 120 and are adapted to control said temperature regulation means in such a way to regulate the temperature of said heatable elements 110, 130 when said detection device 150, 160 detects a closed state of the arms 100, 120.
 A main body of the cylinder type hair iron (curling iron), in which the rod or cylinder type heatable element comes in contact with the hair so as to curl the hair, generally comprises grip portions held by a hand and rod or cylinder type heating sections which come in contact with the hair for heating when viewing the main body in a longitudinal direction. A clamp may be installed on the main body using a hinge, a spring, and the like in order to make the hair fixedly adhere between the heating sections. The clamp is operated so that when a portion in the side of the grip portions is forcibly held with the hand or is released from being held, the remaining portion of the grip portion moves closer towards or farther away from the heating sections with a lever system.
 FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a conventional curling iron 2, having a handle portion 200 with a terminal end 210 that is connected to an electrical cord 220 and a styling portion 230 having a barrel or cylindrical rod 240 and a clamp 250 for positioning the hair against the barrel 240. The handle portion 200 of the curling iron houses a control panel 260 having features including an on/off switch 270, an on/off indicator 275, and a temperature feature selection switch 280. The temperature selection switch allows a user to select and control a desired output temperature for the curling iron.
 Unfortunately, heat-assisted styling using the above and other heated assisted hair tools can over dry and damage hair by subjecting a user's hair to excessive heat at temperatures above about 302° F. Further, generalized hair tool styling settings or user recommendations for selecting a preset tool setting are not specifically customized for each individual user because they are based on the generalized properties of different types of hair previously tested by the manufacturer. For example, below is a table of typical predetermined recommendations based on hair type for use with conventional hair flat irons:
TABLE-US-00001 Thick/Coarse/Curly Normal/Medium/Wavy Thin/Fine About 380°-410° F. About 360°-380° F. Below about 360° F.
Instruction manuals for conventional hair irons with variable heat settings generically recommend using temperatures of over 370° F. for coarse hair. Such predetermined manufacturer recommended styling settings are dependent on each individual user to perform a hair type self-diagnosis, which is inherently imprecise and not accurate, and in many cases, is not appropriate to the unique needs of each specific user.
 Moreover, most people are not aware of the various terms used to describe hair types and merely think of hair in terms of being thick or fine, and curly or straight, but not also in terms of texture, density, wave pattern, elasticity, porosity, etc. As a result, there are myriad hair types. In addition, analyzing hair type is a matter of comparison, which most people are not adequately trained to do, e.g., some users don't correctly identify their hair type and inevitably select and apply a wrong styling setting that ultimately damages their hair. Further uncertainty results when a user's hair is somewhere between different categories of hair types (e.g. medium coarse hair) and a mid-range styling setting is unknown to the user or unavailable on a particular tool. Such different hair conditions are believed to make the use of a general styling setting recommendation harmful to user's hair. For example, a temperature setting on a hair tool that is believed to be generally appropriate for a certain hair type, often should not be used and is not applicable to a specific user having the same hair type, e.g. if the user has coarse hair that is very brittle and damaged and will be severely impacted by treatments or temperature settings suitable for strong, healthy, coarse hair. In addition, allowing users to select their own temperature settings based on their self-diagnosis or perception is believed to lead to more hair damage because many users wrongly believe that higher temperature settings provide better styling results, and thus, they raise the hair tool temperature to a temperature setting above, for example, 320° F., which is believed to be damaging to hair.
 Further, during a hair lock styling process using a conventional hair tool, such as a flat iron or curling iron, the temperature of the heating elements or plates of the arms are subject to a temperature drop or cooling effect as heat from the heatable elements is transferred to and absorbed by the hair lock, which has an ambient temperature. Such cooling effect gradually increases as the hair tool apparatus moves along the hair lock itself in that the hair tool apparatus continuously comes in contact with new portions of the hair lock yet to be styled. As a result, the hair lock styling quality is not constant during the hair lock styling process and gradually deteriorates during the course of a hair lock styling operation or session. This is due to the fact that such hair styling tools are used from the top (closest to the scalp) to the bottom/end of a hair lock. As a result, the styling quality of the ends of hair locks--the last part of the hair lock to be styled--is generally unsatisfactory. To maintain a user's self-selected temperature setting, conventional hair tools regulate the heat to compensate for the cooling down effect to ensure that the temperature used throughout a styling session remains as close to the user's desired selected temperature setting. In other words, it is generally important that the temperature of the heatable elements remains basically constant (or at least within a given range of values) for the entire hair lock styling operation. This, for example, is particularly important for styling in a substantially uniform way the entire length of a hair lock, ends included, and for reducing the waiting times between two subsequent styling operations. However, if the temperature selected by the user and maintained by the hair tool is not optimal or damaging to hair (i.e., above about 302° F.), then maintaining such non-optimal or damaging styling temperature would not be desirable for most users.
 There is a need for a hair styling tool that is capable of accurately determining the condition of a user's hair prior to and/or during a styling session and then automatically setting itself to an ideal styling temperature specific for the user's hair, which is based on the detected condition of the hair and/or ambient environmental conditions (e.g., relative humidity, temperature, etc.). It has been discovered that certain dynamically changing conditions that are not detected by using conventional hair diagnosis tools are useful for determining the user's appropriate hair styling setting. These dynamically changing hair conditions are measurable indirectly or directly and may be used to provide real-time dynamic data obtained from a user's hair and then implemented immediately and automatically to adjust optimal tool styling settings (e.g. optimal temperature settings) to the specific conditions of the user's hair immediately prior to and/or during a styling treatment session or operation.
 While various exemplary embodiments are discussed and contemplated herein, the present disclosure provides many concepts that can be embodied in a wide variety of specific contexts. The specific embodiments discussed herein are therefore, merely illustrative of specific ways to make and use the invention as ultimately claimed and are not meant to limit the invention in any way. Accordingly, for the ease of discussion, hair iron embodiments are described below, as exemplary embodiments, and the description of specific exemplary embodiments is not intended to limit the exemplary embodiments disclosed herein. Thus, in addition to the hair iron embodiments described herein, other hair styling appliances such as curling irons, crimping irons, spiral irons or wands, curling-iron styling brushes, hot-air styling brushes, hot rollers or other hair-setting tools are also contemplated by the present disclosure.
 It is to be further understood that all measurement values are approximate, and are provided for description. Although methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of this disclosure, suitable methods and materials are described below. All publications, patent applications, patents, and other references mentioned herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety. In case of conflict, the present specification, including explanations of terms, will control. In addition, the materials, methods, and/or examples are illustrative only and not intended to be limiting.
 In general, the exemplary method and hair tool for styling hair comprises at least one heatable element, a temperature regulator associated with the heatable element to control the temperature of the heatable element, a temperature sensor for measuring the temperature of the heatable element, a compensation means operatively connected to the temperature regulator for compensating temperature drops or increases to which the heatable element is subjected when styling a hair lock. The hair tool further comprises a programmable electronic control that controls operational features of the hair tool to implement a method of analyzing the hair lock and setting the hair tool to an optimal styling temperature calculated for the hair lock, as further described herein.
 Without wishing to be bound by any theory, it has been observed that the temperature required to reach the `glass transition phase` of hair when hair starts flowing like hot glass and able to be styled, is proportional to the moisture content (i.e., water content) of the hair fibers. As the water content in a hair fiber increases, the temperature that is required to reach the glass transition phase temperature decreases thereby allowing for a relatively lower temperature to style the hair. Specifically, to preserve and/or utilize the necessary moisture content in an individual's hair while styling it, an example hair tool embodiment analyzes an individual's hair and then based on that analysis, automatically adjusts the temperature setting of the hair tool, so that the lowest possible temperature is used to give optimal and precise results or require the least amount of styling time with the greatest perceivable performance. It has been discovered that measuring certain temperature changes (delta) or the rate of temperature changes in a heatable element of a conventional hair iron or curling iron (e.g., heated plate or heated barrel, respectively), is useful to determine how much to adjust the hair tool temperature to attain an optimal lowest temperature for efficient and effective styling (a.k.a., "optimal temperature setting" or "optimal styling setting" or "optimal setting") without damage to the hair. By measuring such temperature changes in a heatable element, it is not necessary to configure the exemplary hair tool to contain separate electrodes or other sensing means that directly contact the hair being styled to measure temperature, moisture or some other factor to determine the hair's moisture content, thereby allowing for overall simplified design with fewer parts and thereby enhancing reliability and serviceability. Heretofore, no such hair tool has been known.
 In an exemplary embodiment, a hair tool is provided for dynamically styling keratin based fibers, such as human or animal hair, and is capable of automatically (e.g., via processor control) diagnosing and identifying the unique and specific styling needs of a user's hair, and thereby adjusting itself to an optimal styling setting (e.g., temperature) customized for and specific to the user at the time of styling, i.e., without the need for an often imperfect self-diagnosis by a user. The exemplary hair tool may also be configured with suitable conventional circuitry, microprocessors, CPUs, and memory to provide or analyze data measured and collected during a styling session for the purpose of providing additional treatment recommendations to the user, such as, for example, the application of a hair care treatment composition for adding moisture when relatively low moisture levels are believed to be present.
 A circuit board may be disposed within an arm or handle and is in electrical communication with at least one button, a thermistor, a microprocessor, at least one liquid crystal display, a voltage regulator, an audio buzzer, and a line voltage controller, wherein the microprocessor is configured to control the temperature of the heatable elements (e.g., heater plates or cylindrical rod) prior to and during a styling session in response to temperature changes measured in the heatable elements. The hair tool may further comprise an embedded computer or processor subsystem to store or transfer diagnostic data (wired or wirelessly) collected by the hair tool to another storage device or remote database or computer.
 Further characteristics and advantages of exemplary embodiments shall become clearer from the following detailed description, strictly provided for exemplifying and non-limiting purposes with reference to the attached drawings. In such drawings,
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a conventional hair tool in the form of a flat iron
 FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a conventional hair tool in the form of a curling iron.
 FIG. 3 is electrical block diagram for an exemplary hair tool.
 FIG. 4 is a flowchart showing an example processing flow for an exemplary embodiment.
 FIG. 5 is a flowchart showing an exemplary processing flow for determining a styling temperature using an non-limiting exemplary lookup table.
 Without wishing to be bound by any theory of operation, the rate of temperature change of a heatable element (heater plate) in a hair tool may indicate or infer how much moisture is in the hair by comparing the hair tool temperature change readings to lookup tables derived from prior research. The measurement of temperature change in a heatable element is highly effective and commercially desirable due to its simplicity of design and other factors. After indirectly measuring or inferring the moisture level in a user's hair by directly measuring changes in temperature of the heatable elements and correlating such changes to an optimal styling temperature stored in a lookup table or database, the exemplary hair tool will adjust its temperature to an optimal styling temperature and then optionally may provide follow up treatment recommendations to the user. In an exemplary embodiment, the hair tool may recommend to users with very low moisture content to use hair care compositions that hydrate their hair. In subsequent styling sessions with the hair tool, the hair tool may dynamically determine additional temperature changes and either adjust or maintain the recommendation based on the new moisture levels detected in the hair.
 It will be appreciated that there various methods for measuring moisture content in hair. Some examples include moisture measurements via observing electrical conductance, impedance, resistance, ultrasound, etc. However, it will be appreciated that such other direct moisture measuring technologies may be readily adapted to be applied to the exemplary embodiments in accordance with the principles and concepts disclosed herein.
 Without limitation, an exemplary hair tool embodiment comprises:  at least one heatable element made of any suitable material arranged on arm or handle,  at least one heating or cooling source (e.g., electrical temperature adjusting means) for heating or cooling the heatable element,  at least one temperature sensor or temperature sensing means for sensing and measuring the temperature of the heatable elements prior to and/or during a styling operation or session,  at least one processor or processing means for analyzing the temperature measurements and calculating an optimal styling setting (e.g., temperature),  at least one temperature regulation means (temperature regulator) adapted to adjust the temperature of said heatable elements to an optimum styling temperature for the particular user at the time of a styling session.
 The heating or cooling source comprises a suitable heating or cooling element adapted to heat or cool said heatable element. In operation, the heatable element is controlled by an electronic system or circuit that adjusts the heatable element to a predetermined or optimal styling temperature suitable for the user through the heating or cooling source, an electronic switch and the temperature sensor. The predetermined or optimal styling temperature may be stored in a lookup table of temperatures or in a suitable database that is accessed by the processor via an appropriate algorithm to calculate and provide a suitable styling temperature for the user at the time of the styling operation, as further described herein.
 The temperature regulator may comprise compensation means, operatively connected to the temperature sensing or measuring means, for compensating changes in temperature which the heatable elements are subjected to when applied to a hair lock or as directed by a controller means.
 The exemplary hair tools are configured with temperature sensing means (temperature sensors), as described herein, to detect dynamic changes in the hair tool components, such as temperature, which are believed to be indicative of the users current hair condition and useful for providing an optimal styling setting. The temperature sensing means can be any suitable temperature detector device that can detect the temperature of the heatable element, including, without limitation a thermocouple, RTD (Resistance Temperature Detector), a thermistor, an IC (Integrated Circuit), etc. For example the temperature sensor may be configured as a negative temperature coefficient (NTC) (e.g., a thermistor) positioned in direct contact with the heatable element (i.e., heating plate) or positioned close thereto. Alternatively, the temperature sensor can be a device adapted to detect the temperature of the heatable element by measuring electrical impedance.
 Dynamic changes that occur as the hair undergoes treatment under various conditions may be detected, inferred or assumed so that hair tool settings are adjusted to optimize styling efficiency and effectiveness. In particular, by measuring the temperature changes in various materials placed in contact with a user's hair (e.g., the heatable element of a hair iron) prior to and during a styling session, the detected dynamic changes may be used in real-time to customize the styling settings needed to style the hair of the particular user without damaging it, as described further herein or they may optionally be stored in a memory device for use during future styling sessions, as a customized user setting.
 The temperature sensing means may or may not be in direct contact with the heatable elements or hair. However, it should be noted that if a temperature sensor is configured not to be in direct contact with a heatable element and merely situated in proximity to the heatable element and/or heat source (or in contact with the hair), then it should appreciated that there will be a delay in the cooling effect with respect to the heatable elements and when the temperature is detected. Therefore, when the temperature sensing means detects the temperature drop of the heat source (or the hair) and the temperature regulation means intervene, the temperature of the heatable elements has already dropped and a substantial period of time likely will be required to restore it. Once a hair lock styling operation or session is finished, the user may be required to wait for a period of time before the temperature regulator means restores the temperature of the heatable elements to the optimal working temperature for the user's current hair condition.
 A user control interface (e.g., analog or digital control interface) may be present and may have a display, such as an LCD screen, that shows the temperature of hair tool, buttons for turning on the device, a light-emitting diode (LED) display to indicate various operation states. In one embodiment, the temperature is measured from a temperature sensing element within an arm and in contact with a heatable element disposed in an arm or casing.
 The regulation means may be adapted to regulate the temperature of said heatable elements according to an algorithm for calculating or selecting optimal styling temperatures. Typically, the regulation means are adapted to regulate the temperature of said heatable elements by activating/deactivating the heating elements in response to the temperature detected by said temperature sensor, in such a way to adjust the temperature of said heatable elements close to an optimal temperature setting most suitable for the user at a particular styling session.
 The steps of a method or algorithm described in connection with exemplary embodiments disclosed herein may be embodied directly in a computer, minicomputer or electronic storage, in hardware, in a software module executed by a processor, or in any combination thereof. A software module may reside in a computer storage such as in RAM memory, flash memory, ROM memory, EPROM memory, EEPROM memory, registers, hard disk, a removable disk, a CD-ROM, or any other form of storage medium known in the art. An exemplary storage medium may be coupled to the processor such that the processor can read information from, and write information to, the storage medium. In the alternative, the storage medium may be integral to the processor. The processor and the storage medium may reside in an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). It will be appreciated that numerous permutations and design choices may be selected for any particular hair tool embodiment so long as the algorithm/method for calculating a styling temperature is carried out or implemented as disclosed herein.
 A first temperature (when the hair tool is turned on) for a heatable element may be set to at least about 299° F. (or higher if desired), as a default starting or initial w35 poin5 temperature, without any input by the user.
 The compensation means may be adapted to control said temperature regulation means in such a way to regulate the temperature of said heatable elements according to a second or optimal styling temperature, calculated by the hair tool processor, as further described herein, during a hair lock styling operation.
 The exemplary hair tool may further comprise a dynamic PID control or Proportional-Integrative-Derivative Control, which is a generic control loop feedback mechanism (controller), used in industrial control systems as a feedback controller. In use, a PID controller calculates an "error" value as the difference between a measured process variable and a desired set point. The controller attempts to minimize the error by adjusting the process control inputs.
 In accordance with an exemplary hair tool embodiment, a PID may be configured to take relative measurements of time to heat the heatable elements to a certain temperature from another including the time to cool from a given temperature from another in the presence of the hair tool with a known internal temperature setting. For example, if the hair tool is placed on the hair and the temperature decreases, the hair tool can be programmed to determine that the hair is wet and that a greater temperature is required. At that point, the hair tool sets the heating plates to reach, for example, a temperature of about 275° F., as a non-limiting example. This is the proportional part of PID control. However, if it takes the hair tool 15 seconds to reach that temperature, the hair tool can be configure to learn from its own prior experience (or from lookup tables) that those 15 seconds corresponds to a moisture saturation of, for example, 50%. This is the integrative part of PID control. Based on that lookup value, the hair tool then may be configured to readjusts its temperature setting again to achieve the fastest styling at the lowest temperature thereby guaranteeing healthy, non-damaged hair. Further control is gained by derivative control which comes from the hair tool predicting even finer control (narrowing of the temperature range) by analyzing how closely the proportional and integrative controls have been achieving the end set point from previous tests. This process is repeated when moving from one strand of hair to another strand that is either more wet or more dry than the strand last heated.
 In an exemplary embodiment, a detection device may be incorporated for detecting the open/closed state of, for example, flat iron tool arms. For instance, the compensation means may comprise a detection device for detecting the open/closed state of said arms and are adapted to control said temperature regulation means in such a way to regulate the temperature of said heatable elements according to the second temperature when said detection device detects a closed state of the arms of a flat iron. The detection device can be, for example, a micro-switch, a magnetic sensor, such as for example a "reed", or a light sensor, which changes state or position (open/closed) according to a change of state of the arms (open/closed). By way of example, the detection device may be arranged onto the internal surfaces of the arms, and comprise a first part arranged onto the internal surface of an arm or casing, to generate a magnetic field or to obscure the ambient light, and a second part, arranged onto the internal surface of the other arm, to detect the presence/absence of the magnetic field or the presence/absence of the ambient light. If a delay's desire to maintain a temperature setting during a styling operation or session, the regulation means may be adapted to start regulating the temperature of said heatable elements according to the desired temperature setting with a preset delay with respect to the detection moment of the closed state of the arms by the detection device in order to avoid activating the temperature regulation of the heatable elements according to the second temperature when the two arms are closed by the user only for a very short period of time, not intended for a hair lock styling.
 The exemplary hair may or may not be configured to include an electronic temperature control setting switch for the user to manually adjust the temperature of the heatable elements.
 Specifically, without wishing to be bound by any theories, a dynamic feature of hair that may be indirectly determined by the exemplary hair tool embodiment is water or moisture content of the hair, which is uniquely specific to each user at any given moment regardless of hair type. People with the same hair type have different moisture levels that vary from day to day due to myriad factors. As such, an example embodiment may comprise a hair tool that dynamically determines water content and adjusts itself to a higher set point temperature for relatively high water saturation levels and a lower set point temperature for relatively low water saturation levels, as needed prior to and during a styling session or operation.
 In a further example embodiment, the hair tool database, lookup tables, and implementing software may be stored remotely to allow the hair tool to transmit data to the remote data base to obtain updated operating instructions (e.g. optimal styling settings) that are sent back to the hair tool.
 In still a further embodiment, the exemplary hair tool may be configured to prevent unauthorized use due to hygiene and other reasons. In other cases, a hair stylist using hair tools in a salon, could desire that the tools would not be used by other stylists while he is away. In an exemplary embodiment, a hair tool is configured with Near Field Communication ("NFC") functionality to be able to detect if an authorized and/or registered user is near, and only then the hair tool would be able to be turned on and used. In another exemplary embodiment a hair tool would recognize its authorized and/or registered owner/user via the transmission of unique owner/user identification information and would employ the same styling settings preferred by the owner/user automatically.
 In a further exemplary embodiment, the hair tool may be configured to house an embedded computer or microcomputer subsystem to store or transfer diagnostic data collected by the hair tool to another storage device or remote database. Such transfer may be effectuated via wired and wireless data transfer methods known to the art (e.g., bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC, Wireless USB, etc.) to devices such as cellular phones and/or computers, which in turn, are configured to present additional personal styling recommendations. The circuitry may be controlled by a computer program to produce hair condition data and information from the sample data, if desired.
 The embedded computer or microcomputer subsystem can include at least one central processing unit (CPU) or "processor", memory, storage, a display and a communication link. An example of a CPU is the Intel Pentium microprocessor or ARM processor. The memory can be, for example, static random access memory (RAM) and/or dynamic random access memory. The storage can be accomplished with non-volatile RAM or a disk drive. A liquid crystal display may be employed as an example of the type of display that would be used in the hair tool. The communication link can be a high speed serial link, an ethernet link or a wireless ("WiFi" or "broadband") communication link and the like. The embedded computer subsystem can produce, for example, hair condition, moisture condition, temperature, styling state predictions from the collected data, perform calibration maintenance, perform calibration transfer, run instrument diagnostics, store a history of past analysis and other pertinent information, and in some example embodiments, can communicate with remote hosts to send and receive data and new software updates. The communication link can also be used for billing based on the number of tests performed on each hair tool. It can also be used for customer service to track failure or error rates on each device or provide customer service feedback, if desired.
 The embedded computer system can also contain a communication link that further allows transfer of the user's hair style setting prediction records and the corresponding data to an external database. In addition, the communication link can be used to download new software to the embedded computer, update a multivariate calibration model, provide information to the subject to enhance the management of their hair health, etc. The embedded computer system is very much like an information appliance. Examples of information appliances include personal digital assistants, web-enabled cellular phones and handheld computers. The communication link can be used for medical billing based on the number of test performed on each device. It can also be used for customer service to track failure or error rates on each device.
 In a further example embodiment, a hair tool as disclosed herein may be configured with, connected to or in communication with a system for automatically, remotely monitoring the operational status of one or more hair tools/users disclosed herein each having a computer therein for determining device status information (e.g., usage counts, accounting/billing for usage, accounting/billing for usage over contract minimums, hardware or software error codes, storage or database operations to the point of failure for remote system diagnostics, capturing services response time until performance is restored, etc.) comprising an interference in the hair tool to intercept and pass status information from the computer to an interface for capturing and communicating the status information to a remote location, communication link between the interface for capturing and communicating information and the remote location, and a computer at the remote location to process the information. The system utilizes a scanner to poll the hair tool. The scanner, in cooperation with the central computer, can poll and monitor each of the hair tool at a uniform rate or, when requested by the user at a central location, vary the poll rate of one or more of the hair tools to poll the selected hair tool with increased regularity, slowing the polling rate of the other hair tools, to provide a real-time monitoring of selected hair tools. Depending on the results of a scan or poll sequence, the system may be configured to provide sound and voice capabilities so that the operator is afforded the option to communicate "live" with a salon customer service representative of a vendor, manufacturer of the hair tools to troubleshoot problems. The system may further be configured to utilize centralized computing and routing and or "cloud" computing or storage.
 "Software" and "Machine-readable code operable on an electronic computer" are synonymous and refers to software or hard-wired instructions used to control the logic operations of the computer. The term computer or processor refers to an electronic computer or its specific logic-processing hardware. The machine-readable code is embodied in a tangible medium, such as a hard disc or hard-wired instructions.
 The processor in the system may be a conventional microcomputer having keyboard and mouse input devices, a monitor screen output device, and a computer interface that operably connects various components of the system, for example, including an user hair or hair style tracking assembly or device, robotic elements, etc.
 Some features of the embodiments disclosed herein may be implemented as computer software, electronic hardware, or combinations of both. To illustrate this interchangeability of hardware and software, various components may be described generally in terms of their functionality. Whether such functionality is implemented as hardware or software depends upon the particular application and design constraints imposed on the overall system, as readily obtainable by a skilled person. Skilled persons may implement the described functionality in varying ways for each particular application, but such implementation decisions should not be interpreted as causing a departure from the scope of the claims.
 Where a described functionality is implemented as computer software, such software may include any type of computer instruction or computer executable code or algorithm located or stored (even temporarily) within a memory device and/or transmitted as electronic signals over a system bus or network. Software that implements the functionality associated with components described herein may comprise a single instruction, or many instructions, and may be distributed over several different code segments, among different programs, and across several memory devices.
 The exemplary tool dynamically and automatically determines optimal settings to ensure effective styling of hair. To prevent heat damage, it may be configured to prevent the heating elements from being heated to temperatures above 302° F. However, if heat damage to hair at temperatures above 302° F. is not a concern for any reason (e.g., because a protective hair composition is applied to the hair prior to styling), then the exemplary hair tool may be configured to be capable of being heated to temperatures above 302° F., similar to conventional hair tools.
 In a further exemplary embodiment, a hairstyling composition (spray, cream, gel, mousse, etc.) may be applied to the hair prior to or during treatment with the hair tool to allow even better styling of the hair at temperatures below 302° F. The hairstyling composition may be manually applied or dispensed from a storage unit within the hair tool.
 Hair straightening and curling tools with active cooling elements combined with active heating elements are known such that hair is styled by a hot plate at above 302° F. and then subsequently cooled down by a cold plate at temperatures of between 14° F. to 68° F. (-10° C. to 20° C.). These hair tools have heating and cooling members that are separated by an insulating member to avoid negative impact of the heating member on the cooling member and vice-versa. The difference in temperature between the heating member and the cooling member is on the order of 80 Kelvin and more particularly, 100 Kelvin. However, these conventional tools rely on the hair being first heated to temperatures above 302° F. to a point where it is believed it is being damaged in order to style it, and later the hair is rapidly cooled down. The perceived rationale for cooling of hair during a styling session is to prevent overheating and/or excessive moisture loss of the hair being styled by the influence of heat and pressure such as by a straightener, and to insure a longer set of the hair style created, as well as faster results than allowing unassisted cooling down from the high temperature it has reached. Active cooling of the hair may prevent or cure hair damage by relatively high styling temperatures. To implement this concept, the exemplary embodiments may be configured to provide heating and cooling functions.
 During a styling session, a user's hair will undergo several changes such that an initial set point temperature setting applied at the start of the styling session will not be appropriate at the middle of the styling session as the condition of the hair changes. In an example embodiment, the relative moisture level in the hair may be indirectly determined by measuring the temperature changes in the heatable elements prior to or during treatment of the user's hair. In another exemplary embodiment, a hair tool is configured with a heat thermostat (e.g., a thermistor) that measures the temperature of the heatable elements at predetermined intervals or upon user demand, and more specifically may even measure how the heatable elements cool after being applied to the hair.
 Additional exemplary hair tool embodiments dynamically and/or directly senses water content. In practice therefore, the hair tool is customizing its styling temperature based on the unique water content of the user's hair, constantly within the styling session, leading to the hair tool getting hotter when a hairstyling session begins on relatively wet hair and becoming cooler as the styling session draws near to completion as the styled hair becomes styled and higher temperatures are not needed to attain desired results. As the hair tool is moved on to a new part of the same subject's hair, it again detects the water content and adjusts the temperature setting according to the condition of the hair. In this embodiment the optimal temperature setting fluctuates constantly according to the moisture conditions of the hair being styled at different times and places on a user's scalp.
 In another exemplary embodiment, a hair tool shaped as a curling iron where the hair is wrapped around the barrel of the curling iron. Once the hair is wrapped around the curling iron, a temperature change (or moisture) test begins by the user pressing a test start button included in the curling iron, or by the tool automatically initiating the test using readily available detection means. Automatically starting the test could be done by using means to identify that the hair was fully wrapped around the barrel of the hair tool. A clip may be connected to the curling iron that holds the hair in place. Adding a magnet to the handle of the clip with a corresponding read switch on the handle of the tool, whereby depressing the handle of the clip would activate the read switch which is connected to the CPU of the device and starts the test. In another exemplary embodiment, without limitation, an accelerometer may be used to detect the twirling of the curling iron, starting the test after the curling iron have been twirled several times signaling that the hair was fully wrapped around the barrel of the hair tool.
 FIG. 3 is an electrical block diagram of an exemplary hair tool hair iron (e.g., flat or curling). The heatable element 335 is controlled by means of heater control 340, which is controlled by a processor 320. The power from the line voltage 310 of the apparatus is also controlled by processor 320 on the basis of the signal the sensor 330. Thus, it is possible to increase or reduce the power of the heatable element when the temperature or other measurement (e.g., moistness) of the hair tool or hair decreases or increases in order to prevent the hair from becoming too dry or from being scorched/damaged. Furthermore, the processor 320 also communicates with the hinge 305 in order to control and, if necessary, synchronize an auto sense diagnostic routine or other activity (see e.g., FIGS. 4-5). It will be appreciated that the electrical block diagram may be modified to adapt to other configurations in accordance with the principles disclosed herein.
 The exemplary embodiment performs a one-time dynamic diagnostic heat temperature setting test of the hair at the beginning of the styling session by having the user place the hair tool on a hair strand/hair lock with the plates set to a predetermined temperature, such as, for example, 299° F. (or higher). Without wishing to bound by any theory, as the hair tool arms are closed or clamped around a hair strand, the heat source for the heatable element is turned off to cease active heating of the heatable element, and the tool is pulled along a hair strand. The exposure to ambient air and the absorption of heat by the hair causes the temperature of the hair tool's plates to cool by an X number of degrees (ΔT), as measured from the time the hair tool arms were closed by the user on the hair strand and during the time the hair tool is guided by the user along the length of the hair strand, ending when the hair tool arms are opened by the user releasing the hair strand (typically about 0.5 to 5.0 seconds or more). The exemplary hair tool is configured to measure and analyze the temperature change of by an internal temperature sensor and processor. The user continues the diagnostic test by subjecting the same hair strand to additional styling operations measuring the temperature drop each time. FIG. 4 is a flow chart showing an example processing flow of an exemplary diagnostic testing for determining an optimal or ideal styling temperature setting using an exemplary hair tool embodiment:
 A further exemplary embodiment comprises a processor implemented (in part) method for obtaining an optimal or ideal temperature setting for treating or styling hair comprised of keratinous fibers (e.g., a human or animal hair lock) of a subject. The method comprises:  providing a hair tool (e.g., flat iron, curling iron, styling iron, crimping iron, spiral iron, etc.) comprising at least one heatable element (e.g., heating plate) configured to be heated by a heater to a temperature of less than about 302° F. (e.g., about 0° F. to about 302° F. and all subranges therebetween);  turning the heater on to heat the at least one heatable element to a first temperature (e.g., about 50° F. to 302° F., and all subranges therebetween, or higher if desired);  optionally turning the heater off;  applying or contacting the at least one heatable element to the entire length of the keratinous fibers (e.g., a hair lock or strand of hair);  measuring the temperature of the at least one heatable element to obtain a second temperature;  calculating the difference of degrees between first temperature and second temperature to obtain a ΔT value.
 The above sampling steps are performed sequentially on the same hair lock at least one time (each time with the heater off) to obtain a ΔT value that are added or averaged to obtain a calculated temperature delta "D," which in turn is compared to a lookup table (see flow chart depicted in FIG. 5) to obtain an optimal or ideal styling temperature setting for the regulating means to apply to controller of the hair tool.
 After the sampling has been completed, the hair tool may be configured to make a sound notifying the user that it has adjusted the temperature to an optimal styling temperature setting, which optionally may immediately appear on an incorporated LCD display screen, while the hair tool heats up or cools down to reach this optimal temperature setting. Once the hair tool has reached the optimal temperature setting, the hair tool may be configured to maintain the optimal styling temperature for the entire duration of the styling session.
 In another exemplary embodiment, the hair tool may be configured to automatically or manually perform one or more dynamic diagnostic tests throughout the styling session. In this embodiment, the hair tool is placed on a hair strand with the heatable elements set to a predetermined temperature (such as about 250° F., as a non-limiting example). As the heatable elements are applied to a hair strand, the heat and/or cooling source to the heatable elements is shut off by and the temperature of the heatable elements will drop by an X number of degrees in a certain time, measured from the time the hair tool arms were closed by the user on the hair strand and during the time the hair tool was guided by the user along the length of the hair strand, ending when the hair tool arms were opened by the user releasing the hair strand. Depending on the values of the lookup table employed, the hair tool then heats or cools the heatable elements, while measuring the time it takes to get to that temperature while the hair is being styled. Based on the time it takes for the hair tool to reach the second temperature, the hair tool may then be configured to adjust itself to a third recommended temperature based on the lookup tables
 Advantages of the above-described embodiments may be realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out in this written description. It is to be understood that the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory only and are not restrictive of the invention, as ultimately claimed. While example embodiments have been described in detail, the foregoing description is in all aspects illustrative and not restrictive. It is understood that numerous other modifications and variations can be devised without departing from the scope of the example embodiments. Those skilled in the art will recognize, or be able to ascertain using no more than routine experimentation, many equivalents to the specific example embodiments of the invention specifically described herein. Such equivalents are intended to be encompassed in the scope of the claims, if appended hereto or subsequently filed hereafter.
Patent applications by Joseph Sherman, Tarzana, CA US
Patent applications by Scott Phillips, Victoria CA
Patent applications in class And application of heat
Patent applications in all subclasses And application of heat