Embodiments of the present invention generally relate to remote controlled systems, and more specifically to an electronic system for monitoring, reporting and controlling remote systems by transmitting information signals over a wide area network (WAN) and using software applications hosted on a connected server. to process the information correctly.
As is known, there are a variety of systems for monitoring and controlling production processes, inventory systems, emergency control systems and the like. Most automated systems use remote sensors and controllers to automatically monitor and respond to system parameters to achieve desired results. Various control systems use computers to process system inputs, model system responses, and control actuators to apply process corrections within the system. Both the power generation and metal processing industries have succeeded in controlling production processes by implementing computer-controlled control systems in individual plants.
One way to classify control systems is the time between subsequent monitoring events. Monitoring processes can be classified as aperiodic or random, periodic, and real-time. Several remotely distributed service industries implement monitoring and control process steps through inspection and manual intervention.
Periodic monitoring systems (those that do not operate on a predetermined cycle) are inherently inefficient, requiring a service technician to walk an area to record data, repair equipment that is out of order, restock a vending machine, and the like. Such service journeys occur in a number of industries and the associated costs are passed on to consumers of the service.
In contrast, the supervision, registration and pricing of utility meters are representative of a periodic supervision system. In the past, utility providers would periodically send a technician from one meter to another to verify meter operation and record utility usage. One method of reducing operating costs in the utility industry involved increasing the period during which meter data was manually monitored and recorded. While this method reduced the monitoring and recording costs associated with more frequent meter observations and was convenient for consumers who prefer the fixed billed amounts associated with "budget pricing," the utility retained the costs associated with less frequent cash counts and associated processing costs. with the reconciliation of consumer accounts.
Finally, some environmental and security systems require continuous or real-time monitoring. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, damage control and fire reporting systems, alarm systems, and access control systems are representative systems that use real-time monitoring and often require feedback and control. These real-time systems have been the subject of control system theory and its application for some time.
One problem with extending the use of control system technology to distributed systems is the cost associated with the sensor-actuator infrastructure required to monitor and control operations in such systems. The typical approach to implementing control system technology is to install a local network of wired sensors and actuators together with a local controller. There are not only costs associated with developing and installing the appropriate sensors and actuators, but also the additional costs of connecting functional sensors and controllers to the local controller. Another prohibitive cost associated with implementing control system technology in distributed systems is the installation and operating costs associated with the local controller.
Accordingly, an alternative to implementing control and monitoring system solutions in distributed systems that overcomes the shortcomings of the prior art is desired.
Certain objects, advantages and novel features of the invention will be set forth in part in the following description and in part will be apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination of the following or may learn from practice of the invention. The objects and advantages of the invention may be realized and obtained by means of the instruments and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.
To achieve the advantages and novel features, the present invention is generally directed to a cost-effective method of monitoring and controlling remote devices. More specifically, the present invention is directed to an electronic system for monitoring, reporting and controlling remote systems and transferring system information by transmitting information signals over a WAN gateway interface and using applications on a connected server to process the information. Because the application server is embedded over a WAN, anyone with Internet access (and the appropriate access rights) can use web browsers to view and download recorded data.
According to a broad aspect of the invention, a system is provided that has one or more sensors to be read and/or actuators to be controlled remotely, ultimately via a computer on the Internet. Sensors and/or actuators are connected to wireless transceivers that transmit and/or receive data to and from the Internet. In this regard, additional wireless transceivers can transmit information between transceivers arranged in connection with the sensors and actuators and a gateway to the Internet. It should be appreciated that some of the information shared includes data that uniquely identifies sensors and/or actuators.
According to one aspect of the invention, a system is configured to monitor and report system parameters. The system is implemented using a plurality of wireless transceivers. At least one wireless transceiver interfaces with a sensor, sensor, actuator, or other device associated with the application parameter of interest. In this sense, the term "parameter" is broadly interpreted and may include, but is not limited to, a system alarm condition, a system process variable, an operating state, etc. The system also includes a plurality of transceivers that act as a signal. repeaters that are scattered throughout the nearby geographic area at designated locations. By fixed positions is meant only that the position of each transceiver is known to a host computer. The host computer can be informed of the physical locations of the transceivers after permanent installation, as the installation location of the transceivers is not limited. Each transceiver that serves to repeat a previously generated data signal can be further integrated with its own unique combination of sensor or sensor actuator as required. Additional transceivers can be configured as stand-alone devices that serve only to receive, modulate, and transmit system data signals. Additionally, the system includes a local data formatter configured to receive information transmitted from the transceivers, format the data, and send the data through the gateway to one or more servers interconnected over the WAN. The server further includes means for evaluating the received information and identifying the system parameter and the source location of the parameter. The server also includes means for updating a database or further processing the reported parameters.
According to the broadest concepts of the invention, the "means" for evaluating received information and the "means" for reporting system parameters are not limited to a particular implementation or configuration. Preferably, this "media" will be implemented in software executed by a processor on a server embedded in the Internet. However, dedicated WANs or Intranets are suitable bases for implementing defined system data transfer functions in accordance with the invention.
In one embodiment, a client retrieves data from the configured system by accessing an Internet site. In such an embodiment, a system compatible with the present invention acts as a data collector and formatter, and the data is delivered upon customer request, with availability twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
In more robust embodiments, a system may be configured to periodically collect, format, and deliver client application information to predetermined client nodes on the WAN. In these implementations, the client's intervention would serve to close the feedback loop in the control system.
In yet another embodiment, a system for collecting, formatting, and controlling processes related to the client application can be configured by replacing a local control computer with a server with a WAN interface and integrating system-specific actuators with the aforementioned system transceivers.
It should be further appreciated that information transmitted and received by wireless transceivers may be further integrated with other data transmission protocols for transmission over computer and telecommunications networks outside of the Internet. In addition, it should be further appreciated that computer and telecommunication networks, other than the Internet, can act as a transmission path between the networked wireless transceivers, local gateways, and the central server.
In yet another embodiment, a system using the present invention can be configured to translate and transmit control signals from an existing local controller via networked wireless transceivers. In this regard, the system of the present invention would require a data translator to access the data stream of an existing control system. The various control system signals can be mapped to function codes used by the present invention to provide client access to control system data. In this way, the system of the present invention can be cost-effectively integrated with current data collection and system controllers, as customers will only need to add a data translator and a wireless transmitter or transceiver as required by the application. By integrating the present invention with the data stream generated by current monitoring and control systems, potential customers enjoy the benefits of the present invention without the difficulties associated with integrating sensors and actuators to monitor individual system parameters.
The accompanying drawings incorporated into and forming a part of the specification illustrate various aspects of the present invention and, together with the description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the plans:
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a prior art control system.
FIG. Figure 2 is a block diagram illustrating a monitoring/control system of the present invention.
FIG. 3A is a functional block diagram illustrating a transmitter according to the present invention incorporated into a portable device with user-operated buttons that activate data transmissions as desired.
FIG. Figure 3B is a functional block diagram illustrating the integration of a sensor with a transmitter in accordance with the invention.
FIG. 3C is a block diagram illustrating a transceiver according to the present invention integrated with a sensor and an actuator.
FIG. 3D is a functional block diagram further illustrating the transceiver of FIG. 3C applied to a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system controller.
FIG. 3E is a functional block diagram illustrating the transceiver combination of FIG. 3D with Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver.
FIG. Figure 4 is a functional block diagram illustrating the functional elements of a local WAN gateway constructed in accordance with the invention.
FIG. 5 is a diagram illustrating WAN connectivity in a system constructed in accordance with the invention.
FIG. FIG. 6 is a block diagram illustrating a specific client application according to the invention (simple data collection or monitoring).
FIG. FIG. 7 is a block diagram illustrating another data monitoring and reporting application in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. FIG. 8 is a block diagram illustrating a specific third party client application in accordance with the invention (monitoring and controlling a process).
FIG. FIG. 9 is a block diagram illustrating the present invention as applied to a particular business application.
FIG. FIG. 10 is a block diagram further illustrating the present invention as applied to a variety of commercial applications.
FIG. 11 is a table illustrating the message protocol of the present invention.
FIG. 12 illustrates three sample messages using the message protocol of the present invention.
FIG. 13 is a block diagram illustrating the system of the present invention integrated with the local controller of FIG. 1; and
FIG. Figure 14 is a block diagram illustrating the system of the present invention integrated with a mobile inventory unit.
Having summarized the invention above, detailed reference is now made to the description of the invention as illustrated in the drawings. Although the invention will be described in connection with these drawings, it is not intended to be limited to the implementation or embodiments described therein. Rather, it is intended to cover all alternatives, modifications and equivalents falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
Referring now to the drawings, reference is made to Fig. 1, which is a block diagram illustrating certain fundamental elements of a prior art control system.100. More specifically, a prior art control system100includes a plurality of sensor actuators111,112,113,114,115,116, y117electrically connected to a local controller110. In a manner well known in the art of control systems, the local controller110It supplies power, formats and applies data signals from each of the sensors to predefined process control functions and returns control signals depending on the system actuators. Often, prior art control systems are further integrated via the public switched telephone network (PSTN)120to a central controller130. central controller130can be further configured to serve as a technical monitoring station or to forward alarm conditions via PSTN120to the competent public security officials.
Prior art control systems according to the plan of FIG. 1 require the development and installation of a local application-specific system controller, as well as the routing of electrical cables to each sensor and actuator as required by the application. Such prior art control systems are typically supplemented by a central controller130which can be networked to the local controller110via PSTN120. As a result, prior art control systems often consist of a relatively heavy-duty design and are subject to a single point of failure if the local controller fails.110In addition, these systems require electrical coupling between the local controller and the sensors and actuators in the system. As a result, properly wiring an existing industrial plant can be a risky and expensive proposition.
Having described a prior art control system and described some of its shortcomings, reference is now made to FIG. 2, which is a block diagram illustrating a control system according to the present invention. Control system200consists of one or more sensors/actuators212,214,216,222, y224each integrated with a transceiver. The transceivers are preferably RF (Radio Frequency) transceivers, which are relatively small in size and transmit a relatively low power RF signal. As a result, in some applications, the transmission range of a given transceiver may be relatively limited. As will be appreciated from the following description, this relatively limited transmission range of the transceivers is an advantageous and desirable feature of the control system.200. Although the transceivers appear without a user interface such as a keyboard, in some embodiments of the invention the transceivers may be configured with user selectable buttons or an alphanumeric keypad. Often transceivers are electrically connected to a sensor or actuator, such as a smoke detector, thermostat, security system, etc., where no external buttons are needed.
Control system200it also includes a multitude of stand-alone transceivers211,213,215, y221. Each independent transceiver211,213,215, y221and each of the built-in transceivers212,214,216,222, y224It can be configured to receive an incoming RF transmission (broadcast from a remote transceiver) and transmit an outgoing signal. This outgoing signal may be another low power RF transmission signal, a higher power RF transmission signal, or alternatively may be transmitted over a conductive cable, fiber optic cable, or other transmission media. The internal architecture of a sensor/actuator integrated transceiver212and a separate transceiver211will be discussed in more detail with respect to FIGS. 3A to 3C. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the built-in transceivers212,214,216,222, y224can be replaced with RF transmitters (not shown) for specific customer applications requiring data collection only.
Local portals210y220are configured and arranged to receive remote data transmissions from multiple independent transceivers211,213,215, y221the built-in transceivers212,214,216,222, y224have sufficient RF signal output level to adequately transmit a modulated data signal to the gates. Local portals210y220analyze received transmissions, convert transmissions to TCP/IP format, and communicate remote data signal transmissions over WAN230. In this sense, and as will be described next, local gateways210y220can communicate information, service requests, control signals, etc. in remote sensor/actuator transceiver combinations212,214,216,222, y224from the server260, LAPTOP240and workstation250over WAN230. servant260can network with the database server270to record data for specific customers.
Those skilled in the art will appreciate that if an integrated transceiver (any of212,214,216,222, y224) are quite close to local gateways210The220so that the RF output signal can be received by a gateway, the RF data signal does not need to be processed and repeated through separate transceivers211,213,215, The221.
It will be further appreciated that a monitoring system constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention can be used in a variety of settings. According to a preferred embodiment, a monitoring system such as that illustrated in FIG. 2 can be used to monitor and record utility usage by residential and industrial customers as illustrated in FIG. 6. Another preferred monitoring system is illustrated in FIG. 7. FIG. Figure 7 illustrates the transfer of vehicle diagnostics from a car via a radio frequency transceiver integrated with the vehicle's diagnostic bus to a local transceiver that further transmits the vehicle information through a local gateway to a WAN.
It will be further appreciated that a monitoring and control system according to the present invention can be used in a variety of settings. According to a preferred embodiment, a control system as illustrated in FIG. 2 can be used to monitor and control an irrigation system as illustrated in FIG. 8. Another preferred control system is illustrated in FIG. 9. FIG. Figure 9 illustrates a commercial implementation of a control system in which the operation of a parking facility can be automated.
As will be appreciated further from the discussion in this article, the transceivers212,214,216,222, y224They can be of essentially identical construction (particularly in terms of their internal electronics), providing economical implementation at the system level. In addition, a number of stand-alone transceivers211,213,215, y221, which may be identical, are arranged to provide adequate coverage to an industrial unit or community. Preferably standalone transceivers211,213,215, y221can be spread out enough that only one stand-alone transceiver receives a transmission from a given integrated transceiver212,214,216,222, y224(partially due to the low transmission power nature of each transmitter). However, in some cases, two or more independent transceivers can receive a single transmission. Therefore, local gateways210y220You can receive multiple versions of the same data transmission signal from an integrated transceiver, but from different independent transceivers. local portals210y220you can use this information to triangulate or otherwise assess more precisely the location from which the transmission originated. Due to the identification of the transmitting device embedded in the transmitted signal, duplicate transmissions (eg, duplicate transmissions to more than one gateway or to the same gateway, more than once) may be ignored or otherwise handled correctly.
According to the preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 2, built-in transceivers212,214,216,222, y224can be placed inside cars (see Fig. 7), rain gauge (see Fig. 8) or parking garage access gate (see Fig. 9) to monitor vehicle diagnostics, total precipitation and water provided by sprinklers and access door location, respectively. The advantage of incorporating a transceiver, rather than a one-way transmitter, into a monitoring device relates to the transceiver's ability to receive incoming control signals, rather than simply transmitting data signals. Importantly, local portals210y220can communicate with all transceivers in the system. From the local portals210y220they are permanently integrated into the WAN230, server260may host application-specific software that would normally be hosted on a local application controller, as shown in FIG. 1. Most importantly, the data monitoring and control devices of the present invention need not be located in a permanent location as long as they remain within the signal range of a system-compatible transceiver that then comes within signal range from a local gateway interconnected through one or more networks to the server260. In this sense, small transmitters of special applications compatible with the control system200it can be worn or worn on the person as will be described later.
In one embodiment, the server260collects, formats and stores customer-specific data from each of the embedded transceivers212,214,216,222, y224for later retrieval or access from the workstation250the laptop240. In this sense, the workstation250the laptop240can be used to access stored information through a web browser in a manner well known in the art. In another embodiment, the server260can perform the additional functions of hosting application-specific control system functions and replacing the local controller by generating control signals required for proper distribution over the WAN230and local gateways210y211in system activators. In a third embodiment, customers may choose, for proprietary reasons, to host control applications on their own WAN-connected workstation. In this sense, the database270and server260it can function solely as a data collection and reporting device with the client workstation250generate control signals for the system.
Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the information transmitted and received by the wireless transceivers of the present invention can be further integrated with other data transmission protocols for transmission over computer and telecommunications networks outside of the Internet. In addition, it should be further appreciated that computer and telecommunication networks, other than the Internet, can act as a transmission path between the networked wireless transceivers, local gateways, and the central server.
Reference is now made to Fig. 3A, which is a block diagram illustrating the functional elements of an RF transmitter.320, of the type worn or carried by a person, with more details. block327y329represent physical buttons, which a user can activate to make the RF transmitter320to initiate different signal transmissions. In the illustrated embodiment, these include a "transmit" button.327and a panic or "emergency" button.329. Of course, additional, fewer, or different buttons may be provided on a given transmitter, depending on the desired system or implementation. Each of these buttons may be electrically connected to a data interface.321which is configured to receive electrical signals from the buttons327y329and finally pass that information to a data formatter324. In one embodiment, the data interface321it may simply include an addressable port that can be read by the data formatter324.
For example, each of the signal lines running between the buttons and the data interface321can be raised with individual lifting resistors (not shown). Pressing any of the individual buttons can ground the electrical signal line interconnecting the corresponding button and the data interface.321. data formatter324it can continuously read from the port defined by the data interface321, and all bit positions should remain high at all times if no button is pressed. However, if the data formatter324reads a zero in one or more of the bit positions and then recognizes that one or more of the buttons327y329they are depressed.
Each transmitter unit can be configured to have a unique identification code (eg transmitter identification number)326, which uniquely identifies the transmitter in the control system functional blocks200(see Fig. 2). This transmitter identification number can be programmed electrically and implemented in the form of, for example, an EPROM. Alternatively, the transmitter ID number can be set/configured via a series of DIP switches. Additional implementations of the transmitter identification number, where the number can be set/configured, may be implemented in accordance with the general concepts of the present invention.
Finally, an additional functional block of the transmitter320is a radio frequency transmitter328. This circuit is used to electronically convert information into a digital form, frequency and voltage level suitable for transmission by the antenna.323through a radio frequency transmission medium.
The data formatter324works to format concise data packets330which can be transmitted via RF to a nearby transceiver. Essentially, the information transmitted includes an operation code as well as a transmitter identification number. As mentioned above, the transmitter identification number is determined for a given transmitter.320. When received from the server260(see Fig. 2), the transmitter identification number can be used to access a lookup table identifying, for example, the person assigned to carry that particular transmitter. Additional information about the individual may also be provided in the lookup table, such as a physical description and/or any other information deemed appropriate or useful based on the particular circumstances or implementation of the system.
In addition, an operation code is communicated by the RF transmitter320to the nearest transceiver. FIG. 3A illustrates a lookup table325which may be provided in connection with the data formatter324. search table325can be provided to assign a given and unique function code for each button you press. For example, transmission button327it can be assigned a first code to identify the person pressing the button. the emergency button329it can be assigned a second code. Additionally, additional codes may be provided as needed to accommodate additional functions or features of a given transmitter.320. Thus, during operation, a user can press the emergency button329, which is detected by the data formatter324. The data formatter324then you can use the information related to the emergency button329to access a lookup table325to retrieve a code assigned to the emergency button only329. The data formatter324you can also retrieve the preset transmitter ID number326in the configuration of a data packet330to communicate via RF signals to a nearby transceiver.
Brief reference is now made to Fig. 3B, which is a block diagram illustrating certain functional parts of a similar transmitter.340which can be integrated into the sensor310. For example, sensor310in its simplest form it could be a two-state device such as a smoke alarm. Alternatively, the sensor310can output a continuous range of values to the data interface321. If the sensor output signal310is an analog signal, the data interface321may include an analog-to-digital converter (not shown) to convert output signals to the actuator340. Alternatively, there may be a digital interface (communication of digital signals) between the data interface321and each sensor310.
As illustrated, many of the components of the RF transmitter340are similar to those of the RF transmitter320and it is not necessary to repeat it here. The main difference between the RF transmitter configurations320from Fig. 3A and RF transmitter340from fig. 3B is at the input of the data interface321. Specifically, an RF transmitter320User interface buttons are included327y329. radio frequency transmitter340, illustrates the electrical integration with the sensor310. Unique transmitter identification code326along with an operation code for a smoke alarm condition configured by the data controller324to convert to an RF signal from an RF transmitter328and transmitted by antenna323. In this way, the data package330are shared by the transmitter340will be easily distinguished from similar signals produced by other RF transmitters in the system. Of course, additional and/or alternative configurations may also be provided by a similarly configured RF transmitter. For example, a similar configuration may be provided for a transmitter that is integrated into, for example, a carbon monoxide detector, a door position sensor, and the like. Alternatively, system parameters that vary over a range of values can be transmitted by an RF transmitter.340as much as the data interface321and data controller324are set to apply a specific code, according to sensor input310. As long as the code is understood by the server260or workstation250(see Fig. 2) the target parameter could be controlled by the present invention.
Reference is now made to Fig. 3C, which is a block diagram similar to that illustrated in Figs. 3A and 3B, but depict a transceiver360which is integrated with a sensor310and an activator380. In this image, the data interface321appears with a sensor input310. It is easy to imagine a system that can include multiple sensor inputs. For example, a common home heating and cooling system could be incorporated with the present invention. The home heating system may include multiple data interface inputs from multiple sensors. A home control thermostat connected to the home's heating system could be integrated with a sensor that reports the position of a manual temperature control (ie the temperature set point), as well as an integrated thermistor sensor to report ambient temperature. The status of the relevant parameters can be entered in the data interface321also including system on/off switch status and climate control mode selected (ie heat, fan or air conditioning). Also, depending on the specific implementation, other system parameters may be provided on the data interface.321also.
Add activator380in the attachment permissions data interface321to apply control signals to the manual temperature control for the temperature set point, climate control function switch and system on/off switch. In this way, a remote workstation250the laptop240with WAN access (see Fig. 2) could control a home heating system from a remote location.
Again, each of these various input sources is routed to the data interface321who provides the information to a data controller324. The data controller can use a lookup table to access unique function codes shared in data packets.330, along with a transceiver identification code326via RF, to a local gateway and then to a WAN. Transceiver operation in general360will be similar to that described for a transmitter as previously illustrated in FIGS. 3A and 3B. It is important to note that the data package330will include a concatenation of the individual function codes selected for each of the aforementioned input parameters. For example, server260can provide client workstation250with a web page screen modeling a common household thermostat. As described above, any server260or workstation250may include application software that would allow a user with access to remotely adjust the controls on a home heating system by adjusting the relevant functional controls in a graphical user interface updated with feedback from said control system.
Reference is now made to Fig. 3D, which is a block diagram further illustrating the transceiver of FIG. 3C in light of the domestic heating system described above. Specifically the transceiver360appears with four specific parameters associated with four specific function codes, as shown in the lookup table325. In this sense, sensors310(a sensor is shown for simplicity) inputs a data signal to the data interface321. The data controller receives an input from the data interface321associated with a specific function code as shown in the lookup table325. data controller324assemble the data packet332concatenation of the received data packet330with your own transceiver identification code326and their own special function codes. data package332modulated by an RF transceiver350for over-the-air transmission323to a separate transceiver as shown in FIG. 2, or alternatively, to the local gateway210. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the data interface321can be uniquely configured to interface with specialized sensors310. This circuitry, therefore, may vary from transceiver to transceiver, depending on the remote system parameter being monitored and the associated actuator to be controlled. Implementation of the data interface321will be understood by those skilled in the art and need not be described here.
Reference is now made to FIG. 3E, which is a block diagram further illustrating the transceiver of FIG. 3C in combination with a GPS receiver. Specifically, a GPS receiver327replace the data interface321, detector310and activator380as illustrated in Fig. 3C. In this sense, the GPS receiver327inputs a data signal containing latitude and longitude coordinates to the data controller324. data controller324assemble the data packet332concatenation of the received data packet330with your own transceiver identification code326and the coordinates received from the GPS receiver327. data package332modulated by an RF transceiver350for over-the-air transmission323to a separate transceiver as shown in FIG. 2, or alternatively, to the local gateway210as previously described.
Having explained and described the operation of the various radio frequency transmitter and transceiver combinations in accordance with the present invention, reference is now made to FIG. 4, which is a block diagram illustrating some major components and operation of a local gateway210of a control system100(see Figure 2) made in accordance with the present invention. The main physical elements that can be provided to the local portal210is a transceiver420, a CPU422, a memory424, a network card426, a DSL modem428, an ISDN card430, as well as other components not shown in Fig. 4 that would allow a TCP/IP connection to the WAN230. the transceiver420It is configured to receive incoming signals consistently formatted in the convention described above. local gateway210can be set in such a way that the memory424includes search table425to help identify the remote and intermediate transceivers used to generate and transmit the received data stream. Program code in memory424can also be provided and configured to control the operation of a CPU422to perform the various functions orchestrated and/or controlled by the local gateway210. For example, memory424may include program code to control CPU operation422evaluate an incoming data packet to determine what action to take. For this, refer to the tables425it can also be stored in memory424to help in this process. Also, memory424can be configured with a program code configured to identify a remote transceiver427or identify an intermediate transceiver429. Function codes, transmitter or transceiver identification numbers can be stored with associated information in lookup tables.425.
Thus, a lookup table can be provided to associate transceiver identification numbers with a particular user. Another lookup table can be used to associate function codes with their interpretation. For example, a lookup table can associate a unique code to identify attributes such as test, temperature, active smoke alarm, security breach, etc. About lookup tables425, memory424it may also include a plurality of code segments executed by the CPU422, and they largely control the operation of the computer. For example, a first data packet segment330may be provided to access a first lookup table to identify the transceiver that transmitted the received message. A second code segment may be provided to access a second lookup table to determine the proximate location of the message generating transceiver by identifying the transceiver that transmitted the message. A third code segment may be provided to identify the content of the transmitted message. That is, if it is a fire alarm, a security alarm, an emergency request from a person, a temperature control setting, etc. In accordance with the invention, additional, fewer or different code segments may be provided to perform different operational functions and data signals. transfers through the transceiver network.
The local portal210it may also include one or more mechanisms through which communication with remote systems takes place. For example, the gateway may include a network card426, which would allow the gate210to communicate over a local area network with a network server, which may contain a backup gateway to the WAN230. Alternatively, local gateway210may contain DSL modems428, which can be configured to provide a direct dial-up connection to a remote system, via the PSTN. Alternatively, local gateway210may include an ISDN card430is configured to communicate over an ISDN connection with a remote system. Other communication gateways may also be provided to serve as primary or backup links to the WAN230or on local networks that could be used to allow local monitoring of gateway status and control of data packets.
Reference is now made to Fig. 5, which is a diagram illustrating WAN connectivity in a system constructed in accordance with the invention. In this sense, local portal210It is configured to transmit control signals and receive data signals using the open packet data protocol as described above. local gateway210is preferably permanently connected to a WAN230and configured to translate received data signals for WAN transport over TCP/IP. A server530configured with web and client-specific applications as required, connected to the WAN230through a router510and more protected and firewalled520. According to the present invention, the server530assists in the task of storing and making data available to the client from the database server540. a workstation560is configured with a web browser is connected to a WAN230at the customer's premises by any suitable means known to those skilled in the art. Alternatively, clients can access the WAN230via remote laptop550or other devices configured with a compatible web browser. In this way, the server530may provide customer data upon request.
Having described the control system of FIG. 2, reference is now made to FIG. 6 which illustrates a particular monitoring embodiment in accordance with the practice of the invention. More specifically, FIG. 6 illustrates a remote monitoring system for utility meters600. Remote Auxiliary Meter Subsystem610consists of an auxiliary meter613and a properly integrated sensor612wherein the current utility meter operating status and the current total utility meter usage are transmitted via operating codes along with a transceiver identification code in the manner previously described by the transmitter614on a standalone transceiver221. standalone transceiver221processes and transmits the encrypted data to the local gateway210which translates data packet information into TCP/IP format for transport over a WAN230on the server260. servant260collects and formats utility counter information for display or retrieval at the client's request in the manner described above.
Having described a specific client application in accordance with the present invention in which the remote transmitter is permanently integrated with a fixed data entry point (a utility meter), reference is now made to FIG. 7 which more fully illustrates the versatility of the invention. More specifically, FIG. 7 illustrates a remote diagnostic car monitoring system700. Car remote diagnostic interface module710consists of a sensor712integrated with the vehicle diagnostic data bus711and transmitter714where the content of vehicle diagnostics can be uploaded with a control signal to the sensor712from a remote location served by a local gateway210. In this way, a vehicle that needs service but still has access to the vehicle's diagnostic codes can be remotely diagnosed by uploading the information through the remote car monitoring system.700and access a custom report generated by the server260in a manner previously described. In this sense, server260could be configured to run any of several levels of diagnostics and provide service manual instructions, images and local authorized service contact information over WAN230for a fee or for a predetermined level of service.
Having described a tracking system according to the present invention in which the control signal initiates the tracking process, reference is now made to FIG. 8. FIG. Figure 8 illustrates a customer specific control system consistent with both the monitoring and control functions of the invention. More specifically, FIG. 8 illustrates a remote irrigation control system.800. For simplicity, controlled area810represented by a single rain gauge813and a single associated spray head817. It is readily apparent that such a system could be modified and extended to monitor and control any of a number of irrigation systems incorporated with the present invention.
controlled area810is set with a rain gauge813integrated with sensor811where rain and water applied to the adjacent area are transmitted via operating codes per transmitter812together with an associated transceiver identification code in the manner described above for the stand-alone transceiver221. standalone transceiver221processes and transmits the encrypted data to the local gateway210which translates data packet information into TCP/IP format for transport over a WAN230on the server260. servant260collects and formats rain gauge data for display or retrieval on customer demand in the manner described above. Also, server260can be set to transmit data on spray head operation817opening the water supply valve816integrated with actuator814sending a control signal to the transceiver815, based on a customer-directed water application control program. Alternatively, a client workstation250It could download and periodically review data from the rain gauge and could initiate an automatic control signal suitable for the customer's irrigation requirements. In yet another embodiment, a customer technician could initiate a control signal by examining the rain gauge information and making a determination that more water is needed.
Reference is now made to Fig. 9 which illustrates the operation of an automated parking control system900according to the present invention. automated parking910It consists of a controlled access area with an entrance door920and exit door930. both doors920y930further configured with a position sensor, actuator and transceiver illustrated as an input assembly922and output placement932, respectively. parking spaces940can be configured with vehicle sensors. Sensor-transceiver assembly932can be configured to transmit a function code related to the status of the parking spaces1,2,3, y4. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the illustrated single row of four properly configured parking spaces can be expanded by adding parking spaces configured with vehicle sensors integrated into the control system.900through multiple sets of sensors and transceivers. Automatic parking control system900collects data signals from each sensor-transceiver assembly932, is integrated into the system and compiles a master schedule consisting of the planned use of each parking space in the automated parking facility. In this way, a client with WAN access230and server530You can reserve and/or check the availability of parking spaces in the automated car park from your home or office (or via any internet portal). For example, a customer who will be out of town on business for 2 days next week can access the automated parking control system server.530using a web browser to view parking availability for your intended travel dates. The customer can reserve the parking space by providing a personal transmitter identification code (or other identification code) that the customer intends to use to access and exit the premises in the following week. When the customer arrives at the front door920, the customer can access the automated parking lot910by pressing a button on your personal hand-held transmitter (see Fig. 3A). entry base922receives and forwards the authentication code transmitted by the client to the server530through the gate210and WAN230in a manner previously described. Servant530confirms the customer's booking, alternatively checks space availability to determine if access should be granted. Also, server530It can be further programmed to determine if the particular customer has an established account with the facility owner or if a credit card payment transaction is correct. Automatic parking facility control system900will record the actual usage of the reserved parking space to store in the database server540. servant530could periodically retrieve stored usage information from the database server540and generate adequate invoices for each customer.
Alternatively, the customer could reserve the space by providing billing information over the WAN230and entrance door920It could also be configured with a credit card reader and alphanumeric keyboard interface. Both the credit card reader and the alphanumeric keypad interface could be connected to the automated parking control system.900from its own properly configured transceiver. The credit card reader and the alphanumeric keypad interface, or both, could be used to identify customers with reservations.
The parking facility control system operator.900, you can expand both the security level of the parking lot and the services provided by adding network peripherals as described above and updating software applications on the server530. For example, adding automated entry and exit gates configured to allow entry and exit of parking patrons and authorized personnel and exit gate configuration930for vehicles so that only identified customers can leave by vehicle, both customers and their vehicles are protected from thieves.
Another example of expanding the services offered by the automatic control system for parking facilities900It could consist of offering a program of vehicle services that could be scheduled and performed on long-term customer vehicles. Adding the appropriate interface to the server530, customers of the parking facility may be asked for a list of possible vehicle services that the vehicle service technicians can schedule and perform during the customer's business trip when making their reservation. A customer interested in changing their car's oil and rotating their tires will authorize and schedule the desired services when arranging the parking reservation. When the customer leaves the car park at the start of their business trip, the customer can leave their vehicle's valet key in a properly identified lock box. After completing his journey, the customer returns to the lot. You gain access to the lot by any of the aforementioned methods and retrieve the valet key, identifying yourself as the owner of the vehicle.
Having illustrated specific applications using the present invention in FIGS. 6-9, reference is now made to FIG. 10 illustrating a system1000which monitors and controls the remote data points associated with a multitude of systems. In this implementation, the server530can be configured with remote monitoring/control services1010application-specific software. For example, the controlled area810of the irrigation control system shown in FIG. 8, the remote utility meter subsystem610from fig. 6, and automated parking910from fig. 9 can be monitored and controlled remotely (when needed) from the server530. As described earlier in this document, the server530collects and processes data information transferred and sent over WAN230from local gateways connected via RF links to transceivers and transmitters associated with systems1020,1030, y1040. Alternatively, server530initiates control signals that can be sent through the gates to the appropriate transceivers and transmitters as required. For ease of illustration and description, FIG. 10 shows each of the systems served by the server530requires its own dedicated local gateway. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that small scale systems co-located within a geographic area served by a set of transceivers and a gateway can be configured to share the transceiver and gateway infrastructure of a pre-installed local system.
Having described the physical layer of a system in accordance with the present invention, reference is now made to FIG. 11 which describes the data structure of messages sent and received using the invention. In this sense, the standard message consists of: address; Address; package number; maximum number of packets, packet length. sector; data; packet checksum (high byte). and packet checksum (low byte). The "to address" or destination of the message consists of 1 to 6 bytes. The "source address" or device from which the message originated is encoded in a full 6-byte identifier. bytes11through13are used by the system to connect message packets larger than 256 bytes. Byte14is a command byte. Byte14works in conjunction with bytes15through30to communicate information as required by specific system commands. bytes31y32are packet checksum bytes. Packet checksum bytes are used by the system to indicate when error messages are received by the system. It is important to note that bytes31y32you can scroll through the message to replace the bytes15ysixteenfor commands that require only one byte. The order of appearance of particular information within the message protocol of FIG. 11 remains fixed, although the number of byte positions in individual message transmissions may vary due to the extensibility of the "destination address", the command byte, and the extensibility of the data frame.
Having described the general structure of a message of the present invention, reference is made to FIG. 12 illustrating three example messages. The first message depicts the transmission of an emergency message "FF" from a central server with address "0012345678" to a personal transceiver with address "FF".
The illustrated second message reveals how the first message can be sent to a transceiver that acts as a repeater. In this way, the emergency message "FF" from a central server with address "0012345678" is first sent to the transceiver "F0". The second message also contains additional command data "A000123456" that the system can use to identify more transceivers to send the route signal to the destination device.
The third message depicted in FIG. 12 discloses how the messaging protocol of the present invention can be used to "ping" a remote transceiver to determine the status of the transceiver. In this way, the source unit "E112345678" creates a ping request by sending the command "08" to a transceiver identified as "A012345678". Responding to the ping request can be as simple as reversing the "destination address" and "source address" of the command so that a healthy transceiver sends a ping message to the source device. The system of the present invention can be configured to wait for a return ping within a specified period of time. Operators of the present invention could use the delay between the ping request and the ping response to model system loads and determine whether certain system parameters can be adequately monitored and controlled with the expected system feedback transmission delay.
Having described the message structure of the present invention, reference is made to FIG. 13 illustrating the integration of the system of the present invention with the control system of FIG. 1. Having previously illustrated various variations consistent with the principles of the present invention, those skilled in the art will appreciate that multiple variations of the present invention may be incorporated with existing control systems. In this sense, an existing control system with a local controller110and a plurality of sensor actuators115(one shown for simplicity) are in communication with the central controller130via PSTN120as previously described. In a manner well known in the art of control systems, the local controller110transmits appropriate status information over PSTN120to the central controller130.
Control systems according to the design of FIG. 1, as further illustrated in FIG. 13, require routing the electrical wires to each sensor and actuator as required by the application. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the system of the present invention can take advantage of the infrastructure of an existing system by introducing a data translator140so that the system data is also sent to the central controller130in the previous configuration as well as in the data translator140. data translator140It is used to convert system data to function codes as described above. Just data translator140successfully converts the system data stream to the message protocol of the present invention, the transceiver815it also converts the system data stream into an RF signal.
As previously described with respect to FIG. 2, independent transceiver221receives and repeats the RF data transmission received by the transceiver815. local gateway210receives the RF data transmission repeated by the independent transceiver221and converts the RF data transmission to TCP/IP for onward transmission over the WAN230on the server260. In this sense, server260you can further manage the data for internal storage or alternatively storage in the database270. Clients with WAN230access can access system data from the workstation250the laptop240.
Having described the integration of the system of the present invention with the control system of FIG. 1 to Fig. 13, reference is now made to Fig. 14 which illustrates the integration of the system of the present invention with mobile census units. In this sense, the system1060consists of the system of the present invention as previously illustrated and described in FIGS. 1 and 13. Having previously illustrated various variations consistent with the principles of the present invention, those skilled in the art will appreciate that multiple variations of the present invention may be incorporated with mobile inventory units.1070. In this sense, sensor/actuator115integrated with transceiver815together sensor-transceiver1065further integrates with any of a number of mobile inventory units1070(a sensor-transceiver unit1065shown for simplicity of illustration). Those skilled in the art will appreciate it whenever a mobile inventory unit1070, represented here by a parcel, a ship, an airplane, a train, and a taxi are within the radio frequency transmission and reception range of the separate transceiver221, the system of the present invention can be used to monitor, store and report information from and related to the mobile census unit1070.
Those skilled in the art will further appreciate that the system of the present invention can be used to transfer information to suitably equipped mobile census units.1070. In this regard, shipping companies can use the present invention to update a database containing location and status information for each mobile inventory unit.1070in the company's fleet. Shipping companies may also convey informational messages or other information using the system of the present invention.
In one embodiment, the present invention can be used to store, retrieve, and update maintenance information associated with individual mobile inventory units. For example, federally registered aircraft must maintain a maintenance log with the aircraft detailing all inspections, maintenance and repairs. The system of the present invention could be used by fixed base operators (FBOs) performing inspections and maintenance on aircraft to retrieve and update the aircraft maintenance record. In this way, FBOs located around the world will be able to retrieve and update an electronic version of an aircraft's maintenance history. In addition, a properly configured system may also contain maintenance instructions and other aircraft-specific service bulletins.
In yet another embodiment, a properly integrated sensor/actuator115with transceiver815It can be used to monitor the system parameters of the mobile inventory unit. For example, an aircraft could be configured to monitor and report engine operating time, time since the last recorded inspection of a particular type, and related system information. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the system of the present invention can be integrated with remote units other than those shown. The ship, package, plane, train and taxi shown in FIG. 14 are exemplary only and are not intended to limit the scope of the present invention.
It will be appreciated that the foregoing description has illustrated certain fundamental concepts of the invention, but that other additions and/or modifications may be made in accordance with the ideas of the invention. For example, the unidirectional transmitters illustrated in FIG. 3A and implemented in a control system as illustrated in FIG. 6 can be customized to monitor the current status of meters for water, gas and other utilities. One-way transmitters could also be used to monitor and report the actual operating hours of rental equipment or any other device that needs service or monitoring based on an actual operating schedule.
The two-way transceivers of the present invention can be adapted to monitor and apply control signals in an unlimited number of applications. By way of example only, the two-way transceivers of the present invention can be adapted for use with public pay phones, cable television set-top boxes, as well as for use with a variety of home appliances and devices for remote control capability. Security system and controlled home automation.
In a geographical area suitably networked with permanently placed transceivers according to the invention, personal transmitters according to the invention can be used to monitor and control the access and egress of personnel from specific rooms or parts thereof within a controlled facility. Personal transmitters can be further configured to transmit personal information to public emergency response personnel, personal billing information at vending machines, or track individuals in an assisted living community.
Two-way transceivers compatible with the present invention can also be incorporated into the monitoring and control of a wide variety of industrial and commercial applications. By way of example only, building automation systems, fire control systems, alarm systems, industrial waste compactors, and building elevators can be monitored and controlled with devices compatible with the present invention. In addition, mailboxes, clock systems, ATMs, self-service copiers and other self-service devices can be monitored and controlled as appropriate. As a further example, a number of environmental variables that require monitoring can be incorporated into the system of the present invention to enable remote monitoring and control. For example, light levels in the area adjacent to ATMs must meet federal minimum standards, the volume of water carried by water treatment plant pumps, emissions from the stacks of a coal-burning power plant or a coke-fired steel furnace can also be monitored remotely.
The two-way transceivers of the present invention may further be integrated with a voice band transmitter and receiver. As a result, when a person presses, for example, the emergency button on their transmitter, medical personnel, staff members, or others can respond by two-way wireless communication with the person in distress. In this sense, each transmitter can be equipped with a microphone and a speaker that allow the person to communicate information such as the current emergency situation, their specific location, etc.
The above description has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms described. Obvious modifications or variations are possible in light of the above teachings. For example, it should be appreciated that, in some implementations, the transceiver identification number is not necessary to identify the location of the transmitter. Indeed, in applications where the transmitter is permanently embedded in an alarm sensor, another fixed device within a system, then the control system server or local gateway could be configured to recognize the location of the transmitter by the identification number alone transmitter. It will be appreciated that in applications not using repeater transceivers, the transmitters will be configured to transmit at a higher RF power level in order to effectively communicate with the local control system gateway.
The embodiment(s) discussed have been selected and described as illustrating the principles of the invention and their practical application to enable one skilled in the art to use the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications to suit the particular intended use . All such modifications and variations fall within the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims when construed to the fullest extent to which they are justly and legally entitled.