CA2400556A1 - Multimode apparatus with communication and control features - Google Patents

Multimode apparatus with communication and control features Download PDF

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Publication number
CA2400556A1
CA2400556A1 CA002400556A CA2400556A CA2400556A1 CA 2400556 A1 CA2400556 A1 CA 2400556A1 CA 002400556 A CA002400556 A CA 002400556A CA 2400556 A CA2400556 A CA 2400556A CA 2400556 A1 CA2400556 A1 CA 2400556A1
Authority
CA
Canada
Prior art keywords
appliance
integrated unit
mode
system
message
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
CA002400556A
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Robert G. Harrison
Daniel W. Knodle
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Icebox LLC
Original Assignee
Icebox, Llc
Robert G. Harrison
Daniel W. Knodle
Coach Master International Corporation, D/B/A Cmi Worldwide
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US53422300A priority Critical
Priority to US09/534,223 priority
Application filed by Icebox, Llc, Robert G. Harrison, Daniel W. Knodle, Coach Master International Corporation, D/B/A Cmi Worldwide filed Critical Icebox, Llc
Priority to PCT/US2000/008973 priority patent/WO2001074089A1/en
Publication of CA2400556A1 publication Critical patent/CA2400556A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

Links

Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/28Data switching networks characterised by path configuration, e.g. local area networks [LAN], wide area networks [WAN]
    • H04L12/2803Home automation networks
    • H04L12/2816Controlling appliance services of a home automation network by calling their functionalities
    • H04L12/2818Controlling appliance services of a home automation network by calling their functionalities from a device located outside both the home and the home network
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08BSIGNALLING OR CALLING SYSTEMS; ORDER TELEGRAPHS; ALARM SYSTEMS
    • G08B13/00Burglar, theft or intruder alarms
    • G08B13/02Mechanical actuation
    • G08B13/14Mechanical actuation by lifting or attempted removal of hand-portable articles
    • G08B13/1409Mechanical actuation by lifting or attempted removal of hand-portable articles for removal detection of electrical appliances by detecting their physical disconnection from an electrical system, e.g. using a switch incorporated in the plug connector
    • G08B13/1418Removal detected by failure in electrical connection between the appliance and a control centre, home control panel or a power supply
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/28Data switching networks characterised by path configuration, e.g. local area networks [LAN], wide area networks [WAN]
    • H04L12/2803Home automation networks
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/28Data switching networks characterised by path configuration, e.g. local area networks [LAN], wide area networks [WAN]
    • H04L12/2803Home automation networks
    • H04L12/2823Reporting information sensed by appliance or service execution status of appliance services in a home automation network
    • H04L12/2825Reporting to a device located outside the home and the home network
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/41Structure of client; Structure of client peripherals
    • H04N21/4104Structure of client; Structure of client peripherals using peripherals receiving signals from specially adapted client devices
    • H04N21/4126Structure of client; Structure of client peripherals using peripherals receiving signals from specially adapted client devices portable device, e.g. remote control with a display, PDA, mobile phone
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/41Structure of client; Structure of client peripherals
    • H04N21/4104Structure of client; Structure of client peripherals using peripherals receiving signals from specially adapted client devices
    • H04N21/4131Structure of client; Structure of client peripherals using peripherals receiving signals from specially adapted client devices home appliance, e.g. lighting, air conditioning system, metering devices
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/41Structure of client; Structure of client peripherals
    • H04N21/422Input-only peripherals, i.e. input devices connected to specially adapted client devices, e.g. global positioning system [GPS]
    • H04N21/42204User interfaces specially adapted for controlling a client device through a remote control device; Remote control devices therefor
    • H04N21/42206User interfaces specially adapted for controlling a client device through a remote control device; Remote control devices therefor characterized by hardware details
    • H04N21/4221Dedicated function buttons, e.g. for the control of an EPG, subtitles, aspect ratio, picture-in-picture or teletext
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/41Structure of client; Structure of client peripherals
    • H04N21/422Input-only peripherals, i.e. input devices connected to specially adapted client devices, e.g. global positioning system [GPS]
    • H04N21/42204User interfaces specially adapted for controlling a client device through a remote control device; Remote control devices therefor
    • H04N21/42206User interfaces specially adapted for controlling a client device through a remote control device; Remote control devices therefor characterized by hardware details
    • H04N21/4222Remote control device emulator integrated into a non-television apparatus, e.g. a PDA, media center or smart toy
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/43Processing of content or additional data, e.g. demultiplexing additional data from a digital video stream; Elementary client operations, e.g. monitoring of home network, synchronizing decoder's clock; Client middleware
    • H04N21/436Interfacing a local distribution network, e.g. communicating with another STB or inside the home ; Interfacing an external card to be used in combination with the client device
    • H04N21/43615Interfacing a Home Network, e.g. for connecting the client to a plurality of peripherals
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/47End-user applications
    • H04N21/485End-user interface for client configuration
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/47End-user applications
    • H04N21/488Data services, e.g. news ticker
    • H04N21/4882Data services, e.g. news ticker for displaying messages, e.g. warnings, reminders
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/60Network structure or processes for video distribution between server and client or between remote clients; Control signalling between clients, server and network components; Transmission of management data between server and client, e.g. sending from server to client commands for recording incoming content stream; Communication details between server and client 
    • H04N21/63Control signaling related to video distribution between client, server and network components; Network processes for video distribution between server and clients or between remote clients, e.g. transmitting basic layer and enhancement layers over different transmission paths, setting up a peer-to-peer communication via Internet between remote STB's; Communication protocols; Addressing
    • H04N21/643Communication protocols
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/28Data switching networks characterised by path configuration, e.g. local area networks [LAN], wide area networks [WAN]
    • H04L12/2803Home automation networks
    • H04L2012/284Home automation networks characterised by the type of medium used
    • H04L2012/2841Wireless
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/28Data switching networks characterised by path configuration, e.g. local area networks [LAN], wide area networks [WAN]
    • H04L12/2803Home automation networks
    • H04L2012/284Home automation networks characterised by the type of medium used
    • H04L2012/2845Telephone line
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L12/00Data switching networks
    • H04L12/28Data switching networks characterised by path configuration, e.g. local area networks [LAN], wide area networks [WAN]
    • H04L12/2803Home automation networks
    • H04L2012/2847Home automation networks characterised by the type of home appliance used
    • H04L2012/285Generic home appliances, e.g. refrigerators
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/44Receiver circuitry
    • H04N5/4401Receiver circuitry for the reception of a digital modulated video signal

Abstract

Apparatus for supervising and controlling appliances (30, 32, 34, 36). The apparatus includes an integrated unit (24) with multiple modes of operation.
The integrated unit (24) can communicate with the appliances (30, 32, 34, 36) via existing electrical wiring (38). The integrated unit (24) can also send and receive commands and other messages via cellular phone (48).

Description

MULTIMODE APPARATUS
WITH COMMUNICATION AND
CONTROL FEATURES
TECHNICAL FIELD
OF THE INVENTION
In one aspect the present invention relates to novel apparatus having the capability of communicating with household (and/or other) appliances.
In other aspects, the present invention relates to an apparatus as characterized in the preceding paragraph which:
can communicate with appliances via existing electrical wiring;
can process and display messages originated by an appliance and forward those messages to a designated cellular phone.
can process and display messages transmitted to the apparatus from a cellular phone.
In yet another respect the present invention relates to novel integrated units for apparatus as characterized above which have multiple modes of operation, at least: (1) a TV
mode in which the unit has the capabilities of a television set, and (2) an APPLIANCE mode in which a user can send commands by way of the integrated unit to an appliance served by the integrated unit, using an input device such as a cellular phone, a keyboard, or a remote control. The integrated unit is also designed to receive and display messages transmitted to the unit from a cellular phone.
BACKGROUND
OF THE INVENTION
Heretofore invented have been certain new and novel appliances with multiple, user-selectable operating modes. These appliances are capable of carrying out different ones of multiple functions. A function is called up by choosing the appropriate, user-selectable mode. Examples of the operating modes which different ones of the subject appliances have and the function of the appliance in each of these modes appear below.
Mode Function TELEVISION Allows the user to watch television Mode Function CD Allows the user to play a conventional audio (or audiovisual) disk; in this mode the user can also play a disk of the character described in U.S. patents Nos. 5,724,102 and 5,801,784 to retrieve lessons on a particular subject or information on performing a task from the disk.

APPLIANCE Gives the integrated unit control over one or more appliances.

Also, diagnostic information on the controlled appliances) and warning messages may be made available to a user or other person.

SECURITY/MONITOR Allows one to visually identify and converse with a person at an entryway, and to unlock a door at the entryway, all from the location of the appliance; the appliance can also be used in this mode to monitor any other area remote from the appliance - a baby's bedroom, for example.

INTERNET Logs the multimode integrated unit onto the Internet, bringing up a dedicated home page with information and, typically, links to related pages. A person can also browse the Internet as with a conventional browser, send and receive e-mail, and otherwise take advantage of the capabilities provided by the Internet.

Copending application No. 09/116,785 discloses, in detail, systems with integrated units of the character just described which have an APPLIANCE mode of operation. In that mode, the systems disclosed in the '785 application have the ability to make information on the status of an appliance available: (a) on a display screen of the unit, and (b) to a repair or service facility at a site removed from the loci of the appliance and the integrated unit. The systems disclosed in the '785 application also have the capability of controlling the operation of appliances in addition to the just-described appliance monitoring and reporting features. They also have the capability of supervising more than one appliance, and a wide variety of appliances can be monitored. These include, without limitation:
electric stoves and ovens, refrigerators, freezers, window and central air conditioning systems, central heating systems, room heaters, and central vacuuming systems.

SUMMARY
OF THE INVENTION
The apparatus of the present invention is akin to that disclosed in the '785 application in that it has appliance monitoring, controlling, and reporting functions. The systems disclosed herein, however, have integrated units with a GSM or comparable device which enables the integrated unit to. call a specified cellular phone and report the existence of an appliance-related problem to the person answering the phone. Conversely, a person using the designated cellular phone can call the integrated unit and leave a message on a display screen component of that unit.
Another novel feature of the apparatus disclosed herein is that a message identifying an appliance-related problem can be placed on a screen of the display unit irrespective of the mode in which the system is operating, preferably in a manner which is unobtrusive and does not more than minimally distract the system user (and/or other person(s)) from the activity such as watching TV in which he is engaging.
Yet another advantage of apparatus as described herein is that icons representing the different appliances supervised by the integrated unit of the apparatus automatically appear when the APPLIANCE mode of operation is selected.
Selecting an icon brings up a screen displaying the status of the associated appliance and, optionally, one or more icons which can be employed to control the operation of the appliance.
Still another novel feature of the systems disclosed herein is the use of network interface boards (NIBs) in the integrated units of the apparatus and the inclusion of a complementary NIB in each associated appliance. The NIBs embed messages in network communications protocols, and strip the protocols to retrieve the messages.
This schemata allows in place electrical wiring to be used to transmit messages between the integrated unit of the apparatus and the associated appliances.
The objects, advantages, and features of the present invention will be apparent to the reader from the foregoing and the appended claims and as the ensuing detailed description and discussion of the invention proceeds in conjunction with the accompanying drawing.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION
OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. I is a block diagram of a system which includes: (a) a set of household appliances, and (b) a multimode information/entertainment (MIE) appliance which has:
( 1 ) the ability to communicate with household appliances and with a cellular telephone; and (2) appliance supervisory/control capabilities; the MIE appliance is constructed, and communicates with the household appliances and the cellular phone in accord with the principles of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a pictorial view of an overhead cabinet installation which includes one representative MIE appliance that embodies the principles of the present invention and can be employed in the system of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a plan view of a remote control which can be used to operate the FIG. 2 MIE appliance;
FIGS. 4A and 4B, taken together, show, in block diagram form, the operating components of an integrated unit which is a component of the FIG. 2 MIE
appliance along with certain associated units such as input devices, a power supply, a module for controlling access through an entryway, and a camera for surveilling an area removed from the unit;
FIG. 4C is a pictorial view of a mode selection register and video/audio switch arrangement which is incorporated in the integrated unit and the relation of those devices to other components of the MIE appliance;
FIG. 5 is a flow diagram showing how a user of the FIG. 2 MIE appliance can employ that apparatus to control the operation of a household appliance - in this exemplary instance, an oven;
FIG. 6 shows in flow diagram form how a user can control the operation of the oven by calling the MIE appliance from a cellular phone;
FIG. 7 shows, again in flow diagram form, how a representative household appliance - in this case, the FIG. 1 refrigerator - can send a "problem exists" message to the MIE appliance and, if the problem is not timely corrected, have the message forwarded to a designated cellular phone;
FIG. 8 shows a representative image which appears on a screen of an MIE
appliance display unit when operation of the MIE appliance in an APPLIANCE
mode is selected;
FIG. 9 is an image that appears on the screen if a user selects an "oven control" option from the FIG. 8 image;
FIG. 10 is an image that appears on the screen if a household appliance-associated sensor detects a problem - in this case a refrigerator door having been left open;
and FIG. 11 is an image that appears on the screen if a user selects a "cellular phone" message option from the FIG. 8 image.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION
OF THE INVENTION
Refernng now to the drawing, FIG. 1 depicts a complement 20 of household appliances and a MIE appliance 22 embodying the principles of the present invention. The M>D appliance has an integrated unit (or module) 24; a remote control 26; and, optionally, a keyboard 28. The integrated unit 24 of the system 22 communicates with the representative, illustrated appliances in complement 20 - oven 30, refrigerator/freezer 32, dishwasher 34, and washer/dryer 36 - via installed electrical wiring 38 and the power cords (or local electrical wiring) 40-46 of the appliances. The integrated unit 24 is also designed to communicate with a specified cellular phone 48.
Exemplary MIE 22 has the following modes of operation:
TELEVISION
CD
INTERNET
SECURITY/MONITOR
APPLIANCE
How MIE appliance 22 functions in each of the first four modes is described above in that section of the specification entitled SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION.
Operation of the appliance in the APPLIANCE mode is discussed below.
It is not necessary that MIE appliance 22 have all five of the operating modes identified above. One or more of these modes may be omitted or a mode may be disenabled, typically with a provision for mode activation as described in copending application No. 09/478922 filed 6 January 2000.
Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2, the integrated unit 24 of system 22 includes:
a display unit 52 with a flat screen 54. The display unit 52 is mounted to the integrated unit by a universal coupling 56 which allows the display unit screen to be rotated and tilted to face a viewer and to be folded up against the bottom 58 of integrated unit cabinet 59 when MIE
appliance 22 is not in use. The details of the universal coupling are not part of the present invention and will accordingly not be described herein. The universal coupling is, however, .
disclosed in detail in copending application No. 09/516,427 filed 1 March, 2000, to which the reader may refer, if desired.
Messages warning of existing or potential problems are displayed on the screen 54 of display unit 52. If the message is not acted upon in a specified period of time, integrated unit 24 forwards the warning message to cellular phone 48.

Commands and data can be inputted to module 24 by onboard controls 60 or with the remote control 26 or optional keyboard 28. Remote control 26 and keyboard 28 will be referred to hereinafter only to the extent that they are relevant to an understanding of the present invention. Details of these devices can be found in U.S. Patent No.

5,724,102 and in copending application No. 09/466,103 filed 12 December 1999.
Audio speakers 62 and 64 are attached to opposite ends of integrated unit 24.
This eliminates speaker wires and otherwise facilitates the installation of MIE appliance 22 and enhances the appearance of the installation.
The integrated unit 24 of system 22 with speakers 62 and 64 is designed to be mounted in an overhead cabinet system 66; it is more specifically designed to be mounted beneath two adjacent center cabinets 68 and 70. Those cabinets are located between outer overhead cabinets 72 and 74 of greater depth.
Cabinets of the character illustrated in FIG. 2 are often supplied in conventional widths and heights. The module 24 of MIE appliance 22 is preferably designed and dimensioned for compatibility with such cabinets of standard dimensions.
The two shorter or shallower cabinets 68 and 70 between longer cabinets 72 and 74 define a downwardly opening, horizontally extending recess 76. The assembly 78 of integrated unit 24 and audio speakers 62 and 64 is dimensioned to fit into recess 76 with:
(a) the ends 80 and 82 of assembly 78 abutting outer cabinets 72 and 74, and the upper wall 84 of the assembly flush with the bottoms 86 and 88 of the two outermost cabinets.
Details of the arrangement for mounting integrated unit assembly 78 to cabinets 68 and 70 appear in the copending'427 application and will not be unnecessarily repeated here.
Refernng now primarily to FIG. 2, the illustrated module 24 also has a player 94 for a conventional or interactive, laser readable disk 96. This player is optional; it can be provided or omitted, depending upon the market for which the system is intended.
Commands for operating the TV and disk player and for selecting the mode of operation of MIE appliance 22 can be inputted by the above-mentioned remote control 26 or keyboard 28 or by the FIG. 2 onboard pushbutton controls 60. One representative onboard control is identified in FIG. 4A by reference character 98.
The operating components of integrated unit 24, together with certain ancillary devices which may be activated in different operating modes of MIE appliance 22, are depicted schematically in FIGS. 4A, 4B, and 4C.

The integrated unit operating components include a mode selection register 100 and a video/audio switch 102, both activated when a particular one of the appliance 22 operating modes is selected. The video/audio switch channels the input available in the selected operating mode to the screen 54 of display unit 52 and to audio speakers 62 and 64.
As a single example, when the TELEVISION mode is selected, a connection to a source for a television signal such as an antenna, a cable, and/or a VCR is made through switch 102.
External components controlled by the integrated unit 24 of MIE appliance 22, in this case in a SECURITY mode of operation, are incorporated in an entryway module identified by reference character 104 in FIG. 4A. These components include a microphone 106, an entryway speaker 108, and an electrically operated door latch 110.
Optionally located at the same entryway (not shown) as module 104 is a camera 112 which is designed to display an image of a person at the entryway on display unit screen 54.
Camera 112 can otherwise be used to monitor an alternate location such as a baby's bedroom.
The operation of an entryway security system of the character just described is disclosed in detail in copending application No. 09/116,825 filed 16 July 1998, to which the reader may refer if desired.
Other major operating components of integrated unit 24, primarily located on secondary board 114 or controller board 116, are listed below along with the function of each component.
Reference Component Function Character Components on ControllerInclude a CPU (not shown) and other Board 116 components which control the operation of MIE appliance 22 118 Audio Amplifier Boosts the signal available from controller board 116 to a level high enough to drive audio speakers 62 and 64 120 TV Tuner Like a conventional TV tuner, creates a signal that is displayed on flat screen 54 Reference Component Function Character 122 Power Supply Converter Converts AC power to (typically) for powering the MIE appliance electrical components 124 Pushbutton Interface Operatively connects onboard controls 98 to controller board 116 126 Infrared Detector Receiver for IR signals transmitted from an input device such as remote control 26 or keyboard 28 Also located on or operatively associated with secondary board 114 are the following additional components:
Reference Component Function Character 130 Telephone Line Modem Used in the INTERNET mode of operation of MIE appliance 22 in logging onto the Internet 132 GSM (or other) CellularConnects to a designated cellular Phone phone to Module notify one of a problem with an appliance and/or to send and receive messages as described below 135 AC Power Supply Furnishes power to integrated unit 24 136 TV Antenna (may insteadFunctions conventionally be a cable or other TV signal input- .

VCR, DVD, etc.) 138 GSM Antenna Transmits and receives cellular phone signals It was suggested above that appliance module 24 can transmit and receive data via a telephone line as well as by cellular phone linkups. The telephone line is shown in FIG. 4A and identified by reference character 140.
As shown in FIG. 4A, module 24 also has a USB port 142 as well as links (or connections) 144, 146, and 148 for transmitting appropriately formatted data to a printer and to video and audio devices--viz., display unit screen 54 and speaker units 62 and 64.
The module 24 of MIE appliance 22 preferably also has an Ethernet port 150.
This: (1) allows MIE appliance 22 to be networked to compatible devices, and (2) allows appliance 22 to be connected to the Internet via a DSL or other broad bandwidth link.
TELEVISION, CD (if present), APPLIANCE, SECURITY / MONITOR, and INTERNET modes of operation of MIE appliance 22 may be selected by the user of that appliance with push button mode controls 152, 154, 156, 158, and 160 of remote control 26 (see FIG. 3) or with corresponding pushbuttons of keyboard 28, or with corresponding ones of the onboard controls 60.
Referring now to FIG. 4C, the electronic video/audio switch 102 of module 24 is illustrated as a mechanical switch in the interest of clarity. This switch has five positions labeled 1-5.
The pressing of one of the five mode buttons 152 - 160 causes the corresponding number--shown in the following table--to be placed in mode selection register 100.
Mode Number Video switch 102 is thereupon set to the number in selection register 100, causing MIE
appliance 22 to operate in the selected mode.

Additional details of the operating components of MIE appliances of the same general character as appliance 22 are to be found in the following U.S. patent and copending applications hereby incorporated by reference herein.
UNITED STATES
PATENT
Patent NumberTitle Issue Date 5,724,102 Systems in which Information can be Retrieved3-03-1998 from an Encoded, Laser Readable Disc COPENDING U.S.
APPLICATIONS
Application NumberTitle Filing Date 09/466,103 Keyboard I 12-17-1999 09/116,825 Integrated Units with Home Security 7-16-1998 and Monitoring Capabilities 09/479,274 Appliance with Multiple Modes of Operation1-05-2000 09/116,785 Integrated Units with Diagnostic Capabilities7-16-1998 09/478,922 Appliances 1-06-2000 The functions of the other buttons on remote control 26 and the keys on keyboard 28 are described in the '102 patent and in the copending'103 application and accordingly have been omitted in this specification as they are not germane to an understanding of the present invention.
Refernng still to the drawings, FIG. 8 shows a display 162 that appears on screen 54 when a user of MIE appliance 22 selects the APPLIANCE mode of operation by pressing remote control mode button 160. This display includes a banner 164 with the current date and time and icons 166, 168, 170, and 172 respectively representing oven 30, refrigerator/freezer 32, dishwasher 34, and washer/dryer 36 of FIG. 1. Also, the display may include a warning such as the one identified by reference character 174. This aspect of invention is discussed in detail below.
In the typical, FIG. S scenario, to which the ensuing disclosure is for the most part directed in the interest of clarity and brevity, the MIE appliance user employs remote control 26 or keyboard 28 to select oven icon 166. This brings up on screen 54 of display unit 52 the display shown in FIG. 9 and identified by reference character 176.
This display includes date and time banner 164 and a block 178 in which the status of oven 30, represented by oven icon 166, is displayed. In the typical scenario under discussion, the user of MIE appliance 22 wishes to turn oven 30 off and accordingly selects OFF
button 180 in display block 178 with remote control 26 or keyboard 28. Thereupon, a "oven off' command is. transmitted from controller board 116 (see FIGS. 1 and 4A) to appliance network interface board (NIB) 128. NIB 128 embeds this command in an appropriate network protocol and sends the message over electrical wiring 38 and local power cord 40 to oven 30. An oven NIB 182 (see FIG. 1 ) detects the message, strips off the network communications protocol, and sends the "oven off' command to the oven controller 183 of oven 30 which, upon receipt of the command, turns oven 30 off.
Oven NIB 182 detects a signal from the oven controller 183 confirming that the oven has been turned off, embeds this confirming message in the network communications protocol, and sends the message to NIB 128 of the MIE appliance integrated unit 24. NIB 128 strips the network communications protocol from the confirming message and transmits the latter to controller board 116. This results in a confirmation that the oven has been turned off being displayed to the MIE appliance user. In the embodiment of the invention under discussion, the OFF label of icon 180 (see FIG. 9) changes to START, and the color of the oven icon 166 changes from yellow to green. In the event that an appliance becomes disconnected from the existing electrical wiring over which the MIE
appliance communicates with said appliance, the respective appliance icon on the MIE's display screen will be greyed out and will become inaccessible to the user.
Commands are selected by using LEFT, RIGHT, UP, and DOWN buttons 200, 202, 204, and 206 of remote control 26 (see FIG. 3) or the corresponding buttons of keyboard 28 -- if present -- to move the cursor arrow (see FIGS. 8 and 9) icon representing the desired action. GO button 192 (see FIG. 3) is pressed to execute the command.

Turning now to FIG. 6, the user of MIE appliance 22 may also use cellular phone 48 to transmit the "oven off' command to oven 30. To do this, (see FIG.
6), the user calls the GSM module 132 of MIE appliance integrated unit 24. Once the connection is made, the user enters by way of the cellular phone keyboard a numerical code corresponding to the "oven off' command. This command is received by GSM module 132 and transmitted to controller board 116. Controller board 116 then sends the "oven off' command to appliance NIB 128, wherein the command is embedded in the network protocol, and transmitted to the NIB 182 of oven 30, in the same fashion as if the "oven off' command were originated by remote control 26 or keyboard 28. The confirming message is in this case displayed on screen 54 and also relayed via GSM module I 32 of the integrated unit 24 to cellular phone 48.
Turning next to FIGS. 7 and 10, it was pointed out above that, if a problem with a household appliance supervised and controlled by MIE appliance 22 occurs, a warning message will be displayed on the screen 54 of display unit 52 irrespective of the mode in which the MIE appliance is operating. In the representative example to which FIGS. 7 and are directed, the user of MIE appliance 22 (or another person) has selected the TV mode of operation by pressing push button 156 on remote control 26 or, alternatively, if a keyboard is present, by pressing the corresponding mode selection button on the keyboard. It is further assumed in this scenario that, while TV is being watched, the door of refrigerator/freezer 32 is left ajar. This condition is detected by the refrigerator controller 185 which sends a "door ajar" alarm to the NIB 184 of the refrigerator. The refrigerator NIB 184 embeds the "door ajar" alarm in the selected network communication protocol and sends the alarm over power cord 42 and installed electrical wiring 38 to the appliance NIB 128 of the supervising MIE
appliance 22 (see FIG. 4B). Here, the network protocol is stripped away and the alarm message transmitted to the MIE controller board 116, which sends the message to the screen 54 of MIE display unit 52. To minimize interference with the viewer's activities, the warning message is preferably displayed toward the bottom of screen 54 in a window as identified by reference character 174 in FIG. 10.
At the same time, and as shown in FIG. 7, a countdown timer 173 (see FIG. 4a) is started. At the end of the timing period, controller board 116 determines whether the problem has been remedied; i.e., whether the refrigerator door has been closed. If it has, the warning message display 174 is removed from screen 54, and the program ends. If the refrigerator door has not been closed before the time lapses, controller board 116 sends the "door ajar" message to GSM module 132 which calls cellular phone 48 and displays the alarm message on the cellular phone screen (not shown) to the person answering the phone.
Where the fault which initiated the warning message is not remedied, the message display window 174 remains on the screen for a preset length of time and is then removed.
How messages received from the appliances supervised by MIE appliance 22 and messages received from cellular phone 48 are displayed is shown in more detail in FIG. 11. These messages appear on screen 54 in window 194 irrespective of their origin.
Scroll UP and scroll DOWN buttons 196 and 198 allow a user to bring up in window 194 messages which are hidden if window 194 is filled and there are additional messages. The cellular phone icon 208 is displayed (see FIG. 8) to alert the MIE appliance user that one or more messages have been received from cellular phone 48. A scroll button is selected with LEFT, RIGHT, UP, and DOWN buttons 200, 202, 204, and 206 and activated with GO
button 192.
Integrated unit 24 can also be used for purposes not discussed above, for example, energy management. As an example, many utilities charge a premium for electricity used at a rate above a floor level, especially during peak hours.
It may happen that oven 30 is turned on while dishwasher 34 is running. If it does, integrated unit 24 can put the dishwasher into a pause mode in which it does not consume electricity so that the floor level is not exceeded and the premium avoided.
The invention may be embodied in many forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics of the invention. The present embodiment is therefore to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description, and all changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are therefore intended to be embraced therein.

Claims (16)

1. A system which comprises an appliance, an integrated unit, and a pathway providing communication between the appliance and the integrated unit;
said integrated unit having a TV mode of operation and an APPLIANCE mode of operation in which commands can be transmitted to the appliance via said pathway;
said appliance having the capability of transmitting a problem exists message to the integrated unit via the communication pathway; and said integrated unit also comprising a display component and having the capability of presenting the message on said display component irrespective of the mode in which the integrated unit is operating.
2. A system as defined in claim 1 in which:
the integrated unit and the appliance are linked by installed electrical wiring;
and said integrated unit and the appliance have the capability of exchanging messages via said wiring.
3. A system as defined in claim 1 in which the integrated unit has a component which enables the integrated unit to send messages to and receive messages from a cellular phone.
4. A system as defined in claim 1 in which both the integrated unit and the appliance have network interface components for embedding messages to be transmitted in a network communications protocol and for stripping said protocol from received messages.
5. A system which comprises an appliance, an integrated unit, and a communications pathway between the appliance and the integrated unit:
said integrated unit having: a display component, the capability of causing the message to appear on the display unit, and components for forwarding the message to a specific cellular phone.
6. A system as defined in claim 5 wherein said integrated unit has at least two user-selectable modes of operation:
one of said modes of operation being a TV mode; and a second of said modes of operation being an APPLIANCE mode in which user-selected commands can be transmitted to the appliance via the communications pathway.
7. A system as defined in claim 5 in which the integrated unit has the capability of displaying the message irrespective of the mode in which said unit is operating.
8. A system as defined in claim 5 in which the appliance and the integrated unit have components for embedding commands or messages in a network protocol and for stripping a network protocol from said commands or messages.
9. A system as defined in claim 5, in which the integrated unit has the capability, if a problem is not corrected in a specified period of time, of calling the cellular phone and transmitting the problem exists message to said cellular phone when communication with said phone is established.
10. The combination of a cellular phone and a system which includes:
(a) an appliance, (b) a multimode integrated unit which has a display screen, and (c) a communications pathway between the appliance and the integrated unit;
said appliance having the capability of transmitting a problem exists message to the integrated unit, causing the message to be displayed on the screen of the integrated unit;
said integrated unit also having a countdown timer which is started when the integrated unit receives the message; and the integrated unit having the capability of forwarding the message to the cellular phone if the problem is not remedied before the time for which the timer is set expires.
11. A combination as defined in claim 10 in which:
the integrated unit and the appliance are linked by installed electrical wiring;
and the integrated unit and the appliance have the capability of exchanging messages via said wiring.
12. A system as defined in claim 10 in which both the integrated unit and the appliance have network interface components for embedding messages to be transmitted in a network communications protocol and for stripping said protocol from received messages.
13. A combination as defined in claim 10 wherein said integrated unit has at least two user-selectable modes of operation;
one of said modes of operation being a TV mode; and a second of said modes of operation being an APPLIANCE mode in which user-selected commands can be transmitted to the appliance via the installed electrical wiring.
14. A combination as defined in claim 10 in which the integrated unit has the capability of displaying the message irrespective of the mode in which said unit is operating.
15. A system which comprises an appliance, an integrated unit, and a pathway providing communication between the appliance and the integrated unit;
said integrated unit having an APPLIANCE mode of operation and at least one other mode of operation;
said system comprising an input device which has a user-actuatable control for placing the integrated unit in the APPLIANCE mode of operation; and said input device comprising controls which are enabled when the integrated unit is operating in the APPLIANCE mode and which, when thereafter activated by a user, cause commands to be transmitted to the appliance via the communication pathway.
16. A system as defined in claim 10 wherein:
said integrated unit comprises components for presenting on said screen icons which correspond to commands that can be acted upon by the appliance; and said input device has: (a) controls for selecting one of said command icons, and (b) a control which causes the command to be executed by transmission to the appliance via the communication pathway.
CA002400556A 2000-03-24 2000-04-04 Multimode apparatus with communication and control features Abandoned CA2400556A1 (en)

Priority Applications (3)

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US53422300A true 2000-03-24 2000-03-24
US09/534,223 2000-03-24
PCT/US2000/008973 WO2001074089A1 (en) 2000-03-24 2000-04-04 Multimode apparatus with communication and control features

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JP (1) JP2003529299A (en)
CN (1) CN1451242A (en)
AU (1) AU4071800A (en)
CA (1) CA2400556A1 (en)
NZ (1) NZ521493A (en)
WO (1) WO2001074089A1 (en)
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US20110106279A1 (en) * 2009-10-30 2011-05-05 Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. Method and apparatus for controlling home network system using mobile terminal

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DE10237944A1 (en) * 2002-08-14 2004-03-04 Paul Hochköpper GmbH & Co KG Remote control for an installation building system
US7852416B2 (en) 2005-11-30 2010-12-14 Broadcom Corporation Control device with language selectivity

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WO1990015394A1 (en) * 1989-06-02 1990-12-13 Aisi Research Corporation Appliance interface for exchanging data
US5997476A (en) * 1997-03-28 1999-12-07 Health Hero Network, Inc. Networked system for interactive communication and remote monitoring of individuals

Cited By (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20110106279A1 (en) * 2009-10-30 2011-05-05 Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. Method and apparatus for controlling home network system using mobile terminal
US10008108B2 (en) * 2009-10-30 2018-06-26 Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd Method and apparatus for controlling home network system using mobile terminal

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AU4071800A (en) 2001-10-08
WO2001074089A1 (en) 2001-10-04
JP2003529299A (en) 2003-09-30
NZ521493A (en) 2004-06-25
ZA200207456B (en) 2003-10-20
EP1277352A1 (en) 2003-01-22

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