Invented by Barrie Davis, Benjamin Davis, Matthew Davis, Kortek Industries Pty Ltd
The Kortek Industries Pty Ltd invention works as followsThe invention is a power control unit (101) and method for using it to vary the electricity supply to an electrical apparatus by using a wireless communication link between a control (20) and the control unit (101). The power control unit (101) is designed to communicate with the controller (10) using either a non peer-topeer standard or a peer to peer standard, such as Wi Fi Direct.
Background for Adaptable Wireless Power, Light and Automation System for Household Appliances
The proliferation of wireless local area networks (WLANs), which connect computers to the Internet, and share peripherals like scanners and printers, has created an ideal framework for home automation. These networks are usually based on wireless technology that adheres to IEEE 802.11 specifications, operates in accordance with Wi-Fi Alliance specs and is commonly known as “Wi-Fi”. These terms include ‘Wi-Fi infrastructure’, a Wi-Fi Network? and legacy Wi-Fi. Wireless local area networks that are supported by access points and comply with Wi-Fi specifications are often referred to as WLANs. To make it easier to understand, these networks will be referred to as ‘Wi-Fi WLAN’. Although it is understood that other terms could be used.
The presence of an access point (AP) is the main control device for conventional Wi-Fi networks. These devices support the wireless network physically, perform routing and bridging between devices and allow for devices to be added and removed from the system.
In most cases, a Wi-Fi WLAN at home also includes a wireless or wired connection to the Wide Area Network (WAN), which provides broadband Internet access. The Wi-Fi WLAN allows devices to communicate with one another and the Internet through the Wi-Fi WLAN Access Point, which acts as the gateway for all communications.
Wi-Fi Direct is another specification of the Wi-Fi Alliance that can be used for wirelessly connecting devices on a 1:1 or peer-to-peer basis. Wi-Fi Direct eliminates the need for a WiFi WLAN access point and establishes the wireless communication directly between two devices. Wi-Fi Direct will be used to describe preferred embodiments that utilize peer-to-peer communication links, but the invention is not limited. Peer-to-peer communication can be established with other specifications, such as Bluetooth and others that may develop over time.
Both methods are equally effective for home automation applications, such as controlling power and lighting. Wi-Fi WLAN and an Internet connection allow home automation devices to connect to the Internet, and can be controlled virtually anywhere.
It is clear that a wireless network that is connected to an Internet or that has its wireless system extend beyond the boundaries of a restricted area is vulnerable to external monitoring or attacks from third parties, such as governments, hackers and private companies. As all communications are routed through a single access point wireless, the failure of the device will render the entire home automation system unusable.
While there are well established regulatory procedures in place for operational safety of electrical/electronic devices and testing regimes to ensure commercial products meet these requirements, there are currently none for functional safety. Many home automation systems using WLANs are compromised by third-parties. Private data, such as personal video footage, is published on the Internet without the owner’s permission.
Wi-Fi Direct’s wireless peer-to-peer architecture or 1:1 requires that the communicating devices be within a reasonable distance of each other. For example, between 10-20 metres. This close proximity reduces the risk of an external attack from a third party, but it cannot be controlled remotely.
There are a number of applications in which the ability to remotely control home automation functions with low security, such as turning on a light outside the house from a distance could be convenient but not critical. There are also other applications, such as opening the garage door, which is possible but would be better controlled locally due to the possibility of intrusion by third parties.
In one preferred embodiment of the invention, it includes a WiFi System on Chip, Non-volatile memory, and Power Control Circuits. The RF Amplifiers and Switching Circuits can include various components or arrangements, including power amplifiers and low noise amplifiers.
The Wi-Fi SoC is an integrated single-chip component that includes a WiFi radio transceiver and microcontroller. It also has system support functions, and a system-interface for connecting to external microcontrollers or devices. Non-volatile Memory should be a read/write type memory that can retain data even when the power is turned off. Non-volatile Memory is usually of the ‘flash memory’ type. The SPI bus is a serial peripheral interface bus that supports data transfer.
In a preferred embodiment the RF Amplifiers and Switching circuits, WiFi SoC, and Non-volatile Memory combine to form a WiFi Control Module. This module can be integrated into a variety of devices for home, commercial, and business applications. The Wi-Fi Control module provides the wireless communication link between an external controller and the Power Control Circuits that perform the physical power, light, and automation functions.
The Power Control Circuits may be directly controlled by the Wi-Fi SoC microcontroller or the Power Control Circuits may include a separate microcomputer/microcontroller depending on the application complexity.
The Wi-Fi control module is preferably capable of performing wireless communication functions using the Wi-Fi Alliance Wi-Fi WLAN specifications and Wi-Fi direct specifications, which are updated from time to time. The term “Wi-Fi WLAN Device” is used in this document. Refers to a Wi-Fi WLAN device. The term “Wi-Fi direct device” is used in this document. Refers to any device that is configured to support Wi-Fi Direct specifications, which are updated from time to time. The Wi-Fi Alliance defines “Wi-Fi” The Wi-Fi Alliance defines ‘Wi-Fi’ as any ‘wireless local network (WLAN), products that are based upon the Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers 802.11 standard;? This definition is explicitly adopted herein.
The personal controller is preferably a cellular or mobile phone commonly known as a smartphone which supports Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi WLAN. As used herein, ?Wi-Fi WLAN? refers to the IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ad specification and amendments or extensions. The personal controller may also support the Wi-Fi Direct specification and other wireless communications specifications such as Bluetooth. The personal controller is also preferably equipped with location capability including Global Positioning System technology (GPS) and/or other positional technology such as, by way of example only, assisted GPS, synthetic GPS, cell ID, inertial sensors, Bluetooth beacons, terrestrial transmitters, and geomagnetic field techniques enabling the controller to determine its relative global location. Unless otherwise noted, the personal controller will be described in terms of a smartphone, though the invention is not so limited. For example only, the personal controller may be any portable device which can download or install by other means an applications program, have a suitable interface the user can interact with to control the applications program in order to execute required functions, have location capability, and have peer-to-peer communications capability to enable communications to be established with a power control unit. Examples of such devices include smartphones, tablets, laptops and notebook personal computers.
There are also other wireless standards that can be used for the wireless link such as Bluetooth (or Zigbee) and Near Field Communications. It should be noted that the majority of smartphones support NFC as well as Bluetooth wireless specification class 2.1+EDR and later. NFC and Bluetooth are peer-to-peer wireless communication methods, and can be used in the same way as Wi-Fi Direct to provide similar functionality for certain embodiments of this invention.
The functions of a smartphone are controlled in the same way as other computers by their operating system. The operating system and resident application programs (known as “Apps”) execute functions in response a user commands. “By entering a command into the smartphone app, the user can send a control signal to the WiFi Control Module. This is then sent to the colocated power control modules for interpretation and activation.
The Wi-Fi Control module is a device which can establish a communication link with a Smartphone using Wi-Fi Direct or a Wi WLAN. When a WiFi Control Module is attached to a WiFi WLAN, a smartphone with WiFi capabilities can also be connected to that same WiFi WLAN and use the appropriate App to communicate the WiFi Control Module. A user can then enter the command that they want to be executed, and send it via Wi-Fi WLAN to the Wi-Fi control module. The smartphone can either be located near the Wi-Fi WLAN or it could be at another location, communicating with the Wi Wi WLAN via the Internet.
It is clear that a WiFi Control Module acting as a WiFi Direct group participant or access point can communicate with a smartphone directly without the need for a WiFi WLAN. The Wi-Fi Control Module will appear as a WiFi access point in this case if the Power Control Device is not being communicated with via WiFi Direct. If the Power Control Device is being communicated with via WiFi Direct, then the WiFi Control Module will negotiate between itself and the Personal Controller which Power Control Device or personal controller should assume the WiFi Direct group owner’s role, and establish a peertopeer connection. The user can then send commands directly to their selected Wi-Fi Module, without needing any other devices. In this scenario, the Wi-Fi control module and smartphone can communicate directly, but only when they are in wireless range.
The combination of a WiFi Control Module with Power Control Circuits is preferred to form a Power Control Unit or Device. The Power Control Circuits switch and/or regulate electricity to electrical, electronic and lighting equipment or devices attached in accordance with the instructions given by the user via their smartphone.
The Power Control Circuits should be co-located to perform the user control functions. In PCT Application No. PCT/AU2011/00166 titled “Wireless Light, Power and Automation Control”, filed on December 29, 2011. The entire disclosure is incorporated by reference.Click here to view the patent on Google Patents.