US20050105394A1 - Object locator system - Google Patents

Object locator system Download PDF

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Publication number
US20050105394A1
US20050105394A1 US10712231 US71223103A US2005105394A1 US 20050105394 A1 US20050105394 A1 US 20050105394A1 US 10712231 US10712231 US 10712231 US 71223103 A US71223103 A US 71223103A US 2005105394 A1 US2005105394 A1 US 2005105394A1
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Prior art keywords
radio frequency
apparatus
means
unit
signal strength
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US10712231
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US6904000B1 (en )
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Fu Ching Lee
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Fu Ching Lee
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08BSIGNALLING OR CALLING SYSTEMS; ORDER TELEGRAPHS; ALARM SYSTEMS
    • G08B21/00Alarms responsive to a single specified undesired or abnormal operating condition and not elsewhere provided for
    • G08B21/18Status alarms
    • G08B21/24Reminder alarms, e.g. anti-loss alarms
    • GPHYSICS
    • G01MEASURING; TESTING
    • G01SRADIO DIRECTION-FINDING; RADIO NAVIGATION; DETERMINING DISTANCE OR VELOCITY BY USE OF RADIO WAVES; LOCATING OR PRESENCE-DETECTING BY USE OF THE REFLECTION OR RERADIATION OF RADIO WAVES; ANALOGOUS ARRANGEMENTS USING OTHER WAVES
    • G01S13/00Systems using the reflection or reradiation of radio waves, e.g. radar systems; Analogous systems using reflection or reradiation of waves whose nature or wavelength is irrelevant or unspecified
    • G01S13/74Systems using reradiation of radio waves, e.g. secondary radar systems; Analogous systems

Abstract

This invention is a system for locating an object. A tag unit (100) that is attached or embedded into the object to be located generates radio frequency signals when excited by an ultrasonic wave (108). The locator unit (100) generates the ultrasonic wave (108) and receives radio frequency signals from the tag unit (110). The locator unit (100) determines the signal strength of the received radio frequency signal and provides a representation of the signal strength. By monitoring the signal strength indication, the user will be directed to the object.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • Not Applicable
  • FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH
  • Not Applicable
  • SEQUENCE LISTING OR PROGRAM
  • Not Applicable
  • FIELD OF INVENTION
  • This invention relates to an apparatus for locating an object comprising a Locator unit and a Tag unit, specifically to self-contained Tag units that can be embedded in the object to be located.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • In everyday life, it is quite common to misplace an object such as a set of keys or a TV remote control or in games such as golf, a golf ball. In the case of keys or TV remote control, the effort required to find them can be considerable and the frustration at its lost un-calculate-able. In the case of the golf ball, the difference between locating the ball and not, could be the difference between winning and losing.
  • Looking at the large numbers of prior art on this subject, it is apparent that many consider this a serious problem.
  • A simplification of the prior art on this subject shows systems that consist of two units, a locator unit and a tag unit. The locator unit is the device the user activates in locating the misplace object. The tag unit is the device that is previously attached to the object to be located. The activation of the locator unit sends a signal to the tag unit that causes a response the user can use to locate the tag unit and hence the misplaced object.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 6,246,322 BI to LeDain et al (2001) discloses a device that emits an audio signal when handclaps are heard. Here the locator unit is a user's hands, the signal is the audible handclap sound and the tag unit response is to emit an audible sound.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 6,297,737 BI to Irvin (2001) discloses a system of radio frequency locator and tag. Here the locator unit is a radio frequency transmitter, the signal is a radio frequency signal and the tag unit response is to emit an audible sound.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 6,075,442 to Welch (2000) discloses a system of radio frequency locator and tag. Here the locator unit is a radio frequency transmitter and a multi antenna receiver, the signal is a radio frequency signal and the tag unit response is to emit radio frequency signals.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 6,535,108 BI to Schrott et al (2003) discloses a passive RFID system. Here the locator unit is a near field electromagnetic transmitter, the signal is a magnetic wave and the tag unit response is to modulate the transmitter magnetic wave (backscatter).
  • The above prior art and others in this field suffers from the requirement to provide power to the tag unit. Frequently this is in the form of batteries. The necessity to replace or re-power the power source limits its use and convenience.
  • For prior art that does not require power in the tag unit, such as Schrott et al, forces the locator unit to be of such large dimensions as to prevent them from being used as portable devices.
  • OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES
  • Accordingly, several objects and advantages of my invention are:
      • (a) to provide a system in which the tag unit does not require an integrated power source;
      • (b) to provide a system in which the tag unit is self-contained and of sufficient small size to be embedded in the object, such as in a golf ball; and
      • (c) to provide a system which will provide directional indications to the misplaced object.
  • Still further objects and advantages will become apparent from consideration of the ensuing description and drawings.
  • SUMMARY
  • In accordance with the above-mentioned objects and advantages, the present invention consists of an apparatus for locating an object, the apparatus comprising a tag unit and a locator unit. The tag unit is attached or embedded into the object to be located. The locator unit is user activated and provides indications to the user of the location of the tag unit.
  • DRAWINGS—FIGURES
  • FIG. 1 shows a top view of the locator and tag units;
  • FIG. 2 shows a side view of the locator and tag units; and
  • FIG. 3 shows a block diagram of the locator and tag units.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • FIGS. 1 and 2 shows the top and side views of the Object Locator System in a typical operating environment and FIG. 3 shows a block diagram representation of the circuitry contained in the Object Locator System. The Object Locator System consists of a Tag Unit 110 that is attached or embedded into an object to be located and a Locator Unit 100 that can be used to direct a user to the Tag Unit 110 and hence the object to be located. The user activates the Locator Unit 100 by means of an On/Off switch 102 that supplies electrical power to the Locator Unit 100. An ultrasonic signal is caused to be generated by means of an ultrasonic driver 310 and coupled to an ultrasonic transducer 106. The ultrasonic transducer 106 converts the ultrasonic signal to an ultrasonic wave 108. Ultrasonic waves have a directional nature and as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 travel in a narrow beam from the ultrasonic transducer. The user moves Locator Unit 100 in a way such that the ultrasonic wave 108 is caused to cover a search area where the object to be located may be placed. As the ultrasonic wave 108 is caused to fall onto the Tag Unit 110, the ultrasonic wave 108 excites an ultrasonic transducer 318 in the Tag Unit 110. The excitation of the ultrasonic transducer 318 induces an alternating voltage in the ultrasonic transducer 318 that is rectified and conditioned by a power conditioner circuit 316. The conditioned voltage is used to power a radio frequency transmitter 314. The amplitude of the alternating voltage induced in the ultrasonic transducer and hence the conditioned voltage is directly proportional to the intensity of the ultrasonic wave 108 that excites it. The radio frequency transmitter 314 generates a first radio frequency signal that is coupled for transmission to an antenna 312. The Locator Unit 100, using an antenna 304 and receiver 306 receives the first radio frequency signal from the Tag Unit 110. The signal strength of the received radio frequency signal is determined by a signal strength detector circuit 308. The signal strength detector circuit 308 activates a display 104 and an audio transducer 302 as a function of the signal strength of the received radio frequency signal. The orientation of the Locator Unit 100 that indicates peak signal strength at a particular position indicates the direction of the Tag Unit 110. Additionally the peak signal strength at a particular location represents a measure of the range of the Locator Unit 100 from the Tag Unit 110.
  • The radio frequency transmitter 314 can be programmed to generate a unique signal to prevent its output radio frequency signal from being received by another receiver. The radio frequency transmitter 314 and receiver 306 therefore communicates to the exclusion of other transmitters and receivers operating in the vicinity of the transmitter 314—receiver 306 pair. This can be accomplished in many ways. One particular way involves the use of PIN code as in garage door openers where the transmitter outputs a radio frequency signal of predetermined frequency and having a coded digital output that uniquely identifies the transmitter. The coded PIN number is detected and decoded by the receiver 306 and discarded if the PIN code does not match that programmed into the receiver 306. If the PIN code does match, then the signal is passed to the signal strength detector circuit 308. In this way, the Locator Unit 100 can be used with multiple Tag Units 110.
  • The display 104 can be of any number display types, such as LED bar graph, moving pointer meter, and the like. The audio transducer 302 can be of any number of transducer types, such as Piezo-buzzers, moving coil speakers, and the like. Any combination of display 104 or audio transducer 302 can be configured, as long as it allows the user to differentiate between different levels of signal strength.
  • EXAMPLE APPLICATION
  • A golfer hits a golf ball embedded with a Tag Unit 110 and hooks it into high rough. On arriving at a spot where the golfer presumes the golf ball is; a detail search cannot find the ball.
  • The golfer activates the Locator Unit 100 and monitors the display 104 and or audio transducer 302. The golfer will move the Locator Unit 100 in a manner to cause the ultrasonic wave 108 to sweep back and forth about and around the golfer until an indication is encountered on the display 104 and or audio transducer 302. Making note of the direction where peak signal strength is indicated, the golfer will move towards this direction with the Locator Unit 100 keeping the ultrasonic wave 108 in the same direction. The golfer will progress in said manner until the ball is located.
  • Conclusion, Ramifications and Scope of Invention
  • Thus, the reader will see that the object locator apparatus of the invention provides a portable yet economical system for locating objects. Furthermore, the apparatus has the additional advantages in that
      • it provides a directional indication of the location of the object;
      • it is self contained and can be embedded into objects; and
      • it's tag unit does not require battery power.
  • While my above description contains much specificity, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but rather as an exemplification of one preferred embodiment thereof. Many other variations are possible such as a second preferred embodiment whereby the Locator Unit 100 includes a plurality of ultrasonic transducers 106 arrange to form a curtain of ultrasonic waves 108. By locating this embodiment of the Locator Unit 100 across an area of interest, the apparatus can inform the user if a Tag Unit 110 has entered the area of interest.
  • Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined not by the embodiment illustrated, but by the appended claims and their legal equivalent.

Claims (5)

  1. 1. An apparatus for locating an object, said apparatus comprising of:
    a locating unit comprising an ultrasonic transducer means for transmitting ultrasonic waves in a direction beam manner, a radio frequency receiver means to receive a radio frequency of a predetermined characteristics, a signal strength detector means for identifying a strength of said radio frequency signals of predetermined characteristics and a means for activating a display device as a function of said identified strength of said radio frequency signals of predetermined characteristics received from said radio frequency receiver means;
    one or more tag units attachable to objects to be located, each tag unit comprising:
    an ultrasonic transducer means for converting said transmitted ultrasonic waves to alternating voltage, a power conditioner means to condition the said alternating voltages to a voltage suitable to provide electrical power to a low power radio frequency transmitter, and a radio frequency transmitter means to transmit a radio frequency signal of predetermined characteristics.
  2. 2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the ultrasonic transducer means comprises of piezo-electric material transducers.
  3. 3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the ultrasonic transducer means comprises of a plurality of piezo-electric material transducers.
  4. 4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the display device comprises of a plurality of light emitting diodes arrange in a row to indicate signal strength.
  5. 5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the display device comprises of an audio transducer emitting audio frequency waves of differing intensity to indicate signal strength.
US10712231 2003-11-14 2003-11-14 Object locator system Expired - Fee Related US6904000B1 (en)

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Cited By (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20080180218A1 (en) * 2006-11-07 2008-07-31 Flax Stephen W Bi-Modal Remote Identification System
US20090190441A1 (en) * 2008-01-29 2009-07-30 Nec (China) Co., Ltd. Autonomous ultrasonic indoor tracking system
GB2463792A (en) * 2008-09-25 2010-03-31 Peter Russell Fleet Baggage locator with directional transmitter
US20100157738A1 (en) * 2008-12-22 2010-06-24 Seiichi Izumi Sonic Wave Output Device, Voice Communication Device, Sonic Wave Output Method and Program
US20120188847A1 (en) * 2009-07-31 2012-07-26 Nec Corporation Position detection apparatus, position detection method, mobile, and receiver
US20160285515A1 (en) * 2014-04-24 2016-09-29 Empire Technology Development Llc Broadcasting a message using modulated power

Families Citing this family (9)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
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US20050148341A1 (en) * 2004-01-02 2005-07-07 Chen Fu Chang Mobile phone control device for assisting search for people and things
US7205908B2 (en) * 2004-03-18 2007-04-17 Gallen Ka Leung Tsui Systems and methods for proximity control of a barrier
US7170426B2 (en) * 2004-03-18 2007-01-30 Gallen Ka Leung Tsui Systems and methods for proximity control of a barrier
US7088265B2 (en) * 2004-03-18 2006-08-08 Gallen Ka Leung Tsui Systems and methods for proximity control of a barrier
US7183919B2 (en) * 2004-11-05 2007-02-27 Shih-Ho Wang RFID delivery and pickup determination system
US7598865B2 (en) * 2005-07-25 2009-10-06 Zhang Kaicheng Method for precise in-house positioning
US8115650B2 (en) * 2006-07-11 2012-02-14 PSST Mobile Equipment Ltd. - Richard Shervey Radio frequency identification based personnel safety system
US8031069B2 (en) * 2008-01-14 2011-10-04 Oded Yair Cohn Electronic security seal and system
KR20140037586A (en) 2012-09-19 2014-03-27 엘지전자 주식회사 Mobile terminal and method for controlling thereof

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US5528232A (en) * 1990-06-15 1996-06-18 Savi Technology, Inc. Method and apparatus for locating items
US6075442A (en) * 1999-03-19 2000-06-13 Lucent Technoilogies Inc. Low power child locator system
US6246322B1 (en) * 1995-12-26 2001-06-12 Headwaters Research & Development, Inc. Impulse characteristic responsive missing object locator operable in noisy environments
US6297737B1 (en) * 2000-04-03 2001-10-02 Ericsson Inc Object locating system
US20020067660A1 (en) * 2000-10-13 2002-06-06 Edward Bokhour Collision avoidance method and system
US6535108B1 (en) * 1995-08-14 2003-03-18 Intermec Ip Corp. Modulation of the resonant frequency of a circuit using an energy field

Patent Citations (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US5528232A (en) * 1990-06-15 1996-06-18 Savi Technology, Inc. Method and apparatus for locating items
US6535108B1 (en) * 1995-08-14 2003-03-18 Intermec Ip Corp. Modulation of the resonant frequency of a circuit using an energy field
US6246322B1 (en) * 1995-12-26 2001-06-12 Headwaters Research & Development, Inc. Impulse characteristic responsive missing object locator operable in noisy environments
US6075442A (en) * 1999-03-19 2000-06-13 Lucent Technoilogies Inc. Low power child locator system
US6297737B1 (en) * 2000-04-03 2001-10-02 Ericsson Inc Object locating system
US20020067660A1 (en) * 2000-10-13 2002-06-06 Edward Bokhour Collision avoidance method and system

Cited By (10)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20080180218A1 (en) * 2006-11-07 2008-07-31 Flax Stephen W Bi-Modal Remote Identification System
US20080180213A1 (en) * 2006-11-07 2008-07-31 Flax Stephen W Digital Intercom Based Data Management System
US20090190441A1 (en) * 2008-01-29 2009-07-30 Nec (China) Co., Ltd. Autonomous ultrasonic indoor tracking system
GB2463792A (en) * 2008-09-25 2010-03-31 Peter Russell Fleet Baggage locator with directional transmitter
US20100157738A1 (en) * 2008-12-22 2010-06-24 Seiichi Izumi Sonic Wave Output Device, Voice Communication Device, Sonic Wave Output Method and Program
US8817578B2 (en) * 2008-12-22 2014-08-26 Sony Corporation Sonic wave output device, voice communication device, sonic wave output method and program
US20120188847A1 (en) * 2009-07-31 2012-07-26 Nec Corporation Position detection apparatus, position detection method, mobile, and receiver
US9052781B2 (en) * 2009-07-31 2015-06-09 Nec Corporation Position detection apparatus, position detection method, mobile, and receiver
US20160285515A1 (en) * 2014-04-24 2016-09-29 Empire Technology Development Llc Broadcasting a message using modulated power
US9729201B2 (en) * 2014-04-24 2017-08-08 Empire Technology Development Llc Broadcasting a message using modulated power

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